Saudi Arabia is modernising, but will this mean greater freedom for religious minorities?

Saudi Arabia is modernising, but will this mean greater freedom for religious minorities?
The political landscape in the strict Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is changing, and quickly. A charismatic crown prince seems determined to modernise his country and even speaks of a shift towards a more “moderate” Islam. But will the changes taking place in Saudi also ease the situation for members . . . Read More

Malaysia’s reputation as moderate Muslim nation hangs by a thread

Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is seen by most Western countries as one of the moderate Muslim nations, an ally to be cultivated and befriended in the battle against militant Islam. The country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was among one of the leaders to visit US President Donald Trump in his first year of . . . Read More

A Middle Eastern Christian’s view of Pence’s agenda

A Middle Eastern Christian’s view of Pence’s agenda
A Jordanian Christian trauma counsellor has urged US Vice President Mike Pence to recognise Palestinian statehood to make good his pledge to help Christians in the Middle East. Issam Smeir, who has worked with refugees in the Middle East and in the US, wrote a first-person piece for the Washington . . . Read More

US State Department adds Pakistan to religious-freedom watch list

Burial of victims of a suicide attack on the Methodist Bethel Church in Quetta, Pakistan, on Sunday 17 December in which at least 9 people were killed. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The US State Department has placed Pakistan on a “Special Watch List” for severe violators of religious freedom, it announced yesterday (4 January) with the publication of its annual list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’. The announcement comes as the US government cuts security aid to Pakistan, saying the country . . . Read More

How serious is Saudi Arabia about religious freedom?

How serious is Saudi Arabia about religious freedom?
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, says he wants to move his conservative Muslim country towards a more moderate version of Islam, but how serious is he about religious freedom? Speaking at a conference for investors in Riyadh last month the 32-year-old Crown Prince said the conservative version of . . . Read More

Saudi Arabia to reopen ancient church as ‘gift’ to visiting Lebanese Patriarch

Saudi Arabia to reopen ancient church as ‘gift’ to visiting Lebanese Patriarch
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has reportedly announced plans to restore and re-open a 900-year-old church as a “gift” to the Lebanese Patriarch. The church is to be used as a centre for inter-religious dialogue, according to Catholic news agency Fides. The Maronite Patriarch, Bechara Boutros al-Rai, has . . . Read More

‘Careful response needed’ after Mozambique’s first Islamist attack

Mozambiques President Filipe Nyusi addresses the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York on 21 September 2016. (Photo: Getty Images)
Mozambique experienced its first confirmed Islamist attack earlier this month when a local group raided three police stations in the coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia. Now a “careful response” is required from the government, says African historian Eric Morier-Genoud. A group of about 30 armed men launched the attack . . . Read More

Saudi Arabia pledges to scrutinise hadiths to ‘eliminate’ extremism

The big mosque near Deera square in Riyadh with room for 20,000 people. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Saudi Arabia has pledged to monitor preachers and jurists’ use of Prophet Muhammad’s hadiths (sayings) “to prevent them being used to justify violence or extremism”. Saudi’s King Salman has ordered an international council of senior Islamic scholars to scrutinise the hadiths. The Saudi Culture and Information Ministry promised on Tuesday . . . Read More

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center
Over 80 countries favour a specific religion, either officially as a state religion or tacitly through special treatment, according to a new report by the US-based Pew Research Center. Islam is the most common state religion – 27 countries have it as their official religion, including 16 of the 20 . . . Read More