Iran: do non-Muslims have the right to hold elected public office or not?

Iran: do non-Muslims have the right to hold elected public office or not?
In Iran, which is 90-95 per cent Shia Muslim, the passing of a date set for a decision over whether a non-Muslim can hold an elected public office is significant for the country’s religious minorities and their rights. The date, April 5, passed without that decision being made for a . . . Read More

Pakistan: Islamic university opens Christian chapel – a first

Religious minorities in Pakistan have to declare their religion when applying for identification papers or for government jobs making them "even more vulnerable" activists say. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
For the first time ever, an Islamic university in Pakistan has opened a Christian chapel. The church of St. Mary is located in the atrium of the Agriculture University of Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third-most populous city, and was built following an initiative of the city’s former vicar general, reports AsiaNews. The church contributed . . . Read More

Sri Lanka: Facebook told to block religious hate speech

A young girl in Colombo looks at her mobile phone while Sri Lanka's civil society has called on Facebook to block hate speech. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Civil society groups in Sri Lanka have asked Facebook to do more to prevent hate speech, including comments that discriminate on religious lines, following recent anti-Muslim riots. “There was a post in the Sinhala [Sri Lanka’s largest ethnic group] language on Facebook for six days, which mentioned ‘killing all Muslims, . . . Read More

‘Extremists given a free hand’ – Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

On 17 December more than 11 people died and dozens were injured during a suicide attack on the Bethel Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Two Pakistani Christians were killed and at least three injured in a drive-by shooting on Sunday (15 April) in Essa Nagri, a Christian-majority area in Quetta, capital of the impoverished Balochistan province in the southwest. The victims, aged 19 and 28, had just left a church service when they were . . . Read More

Anger as Hindu religious leaders given ministerial status

Anger as Hindu religious leaders given ministerial status
Christian and Muslim leaders have voiced concerns after five Hindu religious leaders were accorded “minister of state” status by the nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janarta Party) government in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, Catholic news agency UCAN reported. Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan told journalists that the move was aimed at the “attempts . . . Read More

Palestinian father who lost daughter: ‘Don’t be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel, be pro-justice’

George Saadeh is headmaster of a school where children are taught to "have respect for those who think differently than you". (Photo: Open Doors International)
A Palestinian Christian father whose 12-year-old daughter was killed by Israeli soldiers has spoken about the ongoing conflict and his decision to forgive the soldiers who shot her, just over 15 years ago. Violence erupted once again at the weekend along the Israeli border with Gaza, leaving at least 16 . . . Read More

Persecuted Christians celebrate Easter with mixed emotions

Flag of Syria is waving as sign of victory over the destroyed heavily damaged city of Aleppo. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Easter this year was a time of mixed emotions for the Christians who live under pressure for their faith. While political and religious leaders called for peace, reconciliation and brotherhood, Christians in countries like Syria and the Philippines continued to face violence and its consequences. Below, World Watch Monitor gives . . . Read More

Saudi school textbooks still ‘promote hatred toward religious minorities’ – USCIRF

A school complex in Medina, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Ikhlasul Amal via Flickr; CC 2.0)
School textbooks in Saudi Arabia still include content “promoting violence and hatred toward religious minorities and others”, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Even though the Saudi government has been “engaged in textbook reform for the last 15 years”, a new study by USCIRF found . . . Read More

China’s Communist Party increases control over religious affairs

The opening ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, held in October 2017. The Congress is the most important political event in China where decisions taken by the Central Committee are endorsed. (Photo by Prachatai via Flickr; CC 2.0)
China’s Communist Party has disbanded its Religious Affairs Bureau to bring religion under the control of the party’s Central Committee, in what some observers see as a further tightening of the belt. The State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) is to be absorbed by the United Front Work Department, an . . . Read More