‘Eliminate’ blasphemy laws, says US commission chief on International Blasphemy Day

In some countries blasphemy is a very sensitive topic and often leads to riots and violence, like in Islamabad, Pakistan, in November 2017.(Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Blasphemy laws are “dangerous” and should be “eliminated”, the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) told Newsweek yesterday on International Blasphemy Day. The freedom to criticise or mock religion should not be decided by governments and their interpretation of laws, said Dr. Tenzin Dorjee. And it . . . Read More

Religious freedom violations in Asia increasing – UN rapporteur

Pakistani Christians experience an increase in violence such as a suicide attack on the Bethel Methodist Church in Quetta in December last year that killed more than ten and injured dozens of people. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Religious freedom in Asia is “eroding”, with an increase in religious fundamentalism across much of the continent, according to the UN’s religious freedom rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed. Shaheed spoke during an event, hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, on the back of the 4th Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference. “Freedom . . . Read More

Uzbekistan says religious freedom ‘progressing’, despite new restrictions

Legislators in Uzbekistan's Lower House have to sign off a series of reform bills that will improve the human rights situation in the country. (Photo: Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)
Uzbekistan is progressing towards rapid transformation, including political, economic, and importantly, religious freedom,” said the deputy chairman of the Uzbek Senate yesterday (25 July) at a side event to the first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom currently being held in Washington DC. “Uzbekistan is progressing towards rapid transformation, including political, . . . Read More

Tunisians protest against closure of cafes and restaurants during Ramadan

People walking in Medina in Sfax, a city on Tunisia's east coast. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Non-Muslims in Tunisia have taken to the streets during this year’s Ramadan to protest the closure of many cafés and restaurants, saying they can’t be forced to fast, reports the New York Times (NYT). Around 100 protestors began Ramadan this year by drinking water and eating sandwiches in central Tunis in . . . Read More

Iran: appeal heard by judge with ‘poor track record in dealing with Christians’

Iran: appeal heard by judge with ‘poor track record in dealing with Christians’
Four Iranian Christians each sentenced to at least ten years in prison had their first appeal hearing yesterday (25 April). In the hearing, initially scheduled for February but postponed, a judge heard the case of Christian converts Hadi Asgari, Amin Afshar-Naderi, Kaviyan Fallah-Mohammadi and Assyrian pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz. At least . . . Read More

Tunisia’s religious freedom curbed by societal pressure – UN Rapporteur

The Malik ibn Anas Mosque in Carthage, near the capital Tunis. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Old laws and societal pressure pose the greatest challenges to religious freedom in Tunisia, concluded the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, after a ten-day visit. Though Tunisia’s 2014 Constitution guarantees religious freedom, there is still work to be done to align its laws and . . . Read More

Uzbek Christians report continued state pressure, despite recent UN criticism

Uzbek Christians report continued state pressure, despite recent UN criticism
State harassment against Baptists in Uzbekistan has continued despite the UN’s recent criticism of the country’s religious rights records. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, said: “Law changes and a strong political will are needed if Uzbeks are to freely practise their faith” when he . . . Read More