‘Only jihadists want to see Christians leave the Middle East’

Around 300 Christians went to Bartella during the Easter weekend of 2017, to have the very first Easter celebration in three years in their home town. A convoy of about 15 buses travelled from Erbil, crossing several Kurdish and Iraqi army checkpoints to reach the church. The people still live in Erbil and cannot go back to Bartella to live or to rebuild. But for this day many take the chance to celebrate Easter in their own church again. (Open Doors International)
“The only people that want to see all Christians leave are some of the violent jihadists,” concludes a new book. “Everyone else, including some we might term as Islamists, desires their continued presence. They recognise that it is Christians who are the leaven that permeates the whole of society.” The . . . Read More

70,000 Syrian Armenians have fled during the war, and few will return

70,000 Syrian Armenians have fled during the war, and few will return
The fragrance of Middle Eastern cuisine wafts into your nostrils, even before you open the door of the café opposite the central railway station in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.   Nerses Kevo, the café’s owner, is one of thousands of Armenian Christians who fled the Syrian civil war and moved to . . . Read More

Assessment of religious conversions as genuine or asylum-motivated dismissed as naïve

Revd Mark Miller of St Thomas' Church, Stockton, in north-east England, The Priest-in-Charge of St Thomas’s, Stockton-on-Tees, the Revd Mark Miller, has had up to 100 Persian asylum-seekers in his congregation
Attempts by Western politicians and media to judge whether Iranian migrants and asylum-seekers who ask to be baptised are either genuine or are doing so to boost their chances of being granted asylum are “naïve”, according to an academic who has carried out extensive research among Iranians who profess to . . . Read More

Maldives to EU: ‘Islam shall be the basis of all laws’

Only Muslims can be citizens of the Maldives is Muslim, and citizenship is revoked if one chooses another faith. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The Maldives government has told the European Union it will not consider amending its constitution to allow for religious freedom in the country, reports Maldives-based news site Avas Online. A report by the EU’s Electoral Follow-up Mission (EFM), published last week, said the Maldives had implemented none of the 22 . . . Read More

Fresh move to prosecute IS for genocide

Destroyed market in the town of Bartella, 15km east of Mosul, which was liberated from IS by Iraqi forces in October 2016. (Photo World Watch Monitor)
Campaigners have welcomed a bill designed to facilitate the prosecution of Islamic State jihadists for genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. Complaining that efforts to encourage the British government to accuse IS of genocide had received “nothing but rebuttals and refusals”, Lord Alton, a Catholic, . . . Read More

Rights group tells Russia to ‘properly respect’ religious freedom

Rights group tells Russia to ‘properly respect’ religious freedom
Religious freedom advocate ADF International is today (7 March) filing a third-party brief with the European Court of Human Rights, arguing “for the right to religious freedom to be properly respected in Russia”. (Such a brief is a statement by a third party, usually an NGO or academic, which has . . . Read More

Asia Bibi central to trade deals, EU tells Pakistan

Asia Bibi central to trade deals, EU tells Pakistan
The EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, told Pakistani officials during a recent visit that the renewal of their export privileges to Europe depends on the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy since 2010. “The EU countries have started . . . Read More

Europe shows ‘almost sinister’ indifference to persecuted Christianity – bishop

Europe shows ‘almost sinister’ indifference to persecuted Christianity – bishop
A new, aggressive form of atheism has led to a devaluing of religious freedom, a Catholic bishop in Austria has claimed. The Bishop of Linz, Manfred Scheuer, said that this new atheism associates religion with oppression and a lack of liberty, which has led to a selective interpretation of human . . . Read More

Iranian Christians safe if ‘practise faith discreetly’ – European Court of Human Rights

Activists in the Swiss capital of Bern raise awareness of religious persecution of Christians around the world (2014). (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The European Court of Human Rights ruled last month that an Iranian who sought asylum in Switzerland based on religious grounds could be deported to his home country because his life was not in danger, despite various reports detailing how Iran persecutes religious minorities and converts to Christianity. Human Rights . . . Read More