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

Saudi Arabia clerics ‘guilty of hate speech’ against religious minorities

Men standing in front of a building in Saudi Arabia. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Some Saudi religious scholars and clerics use language that discriminates against and demonises religious minorities, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. “Saudi Arabia has permitted government-appointed religious scholars and clerics to refer to religious minorities in derogatory terms or demonise them in official documents and religious rulings that . . . Read More

Indonesia: ‘Saudi influence behind rise in Islamic extremism’, as churches continue to be closed

Thousands of Muslims from across Indonesia joined the Islamic-hardliners in Jakarta to protest against Jakarta’s (former) Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama ('Ahok') on 4 November 2016 for allegedly insulting Islam when citing a Quranic verse. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
“The election and trial of Jakarta’s former governor ‘Ahok’ have exposed increasing radicalization in Indonesia, especially among the young … and it has led to a more aggressive campaign to confront Islamist radicalism,” writes Paul Marshall. In his article for the Lausanne Movement, the Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at . . . Read More

Saudi schoolbooks ‘teach students to hate those of other faiths’

The Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand mosque in the capital Riyadh. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Students in Saudi Arabia’s schools receive religious education that “contains hateful and incendiary language” towards other Islamic traditions than Sunni Islam, and severe criticism of Jews, Christians and people of other faiths, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report says. The comprehensive review of schoolbooks for religious studies for the 2016-17 . . . Read More

5 Things to know about violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt

A village head inside his destroyed home in one of the villages in Southern Kaduna that were attacked by Fulani herdsmen, in May 2017. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
In northern Nigeria, targeted violence against Christians comes not only from the Islamic militants of Boko Haram. Clashes with militants among the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have claimed thousands of Christian lives in Nigeria’s Middle Belt – the handful of states straddling the pre-colonial line dividing Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north from . . . Read More

IS guilty of genocide, says US Secretary of State

rex tillerson flickr
The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stressed that the actions of the Islamic State (IS) group against Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims constitute genocide, and also criticised America’s ally, Saudi Arabia, for religious freedom violations. Tillerson made his “genocide” comments in the preface to the State Department’s annual . . . Read More

US government warned of persistent ‘ideology of hatred’ in Saudi textbooks

The Saudi government is failing to reform textbooks that direct violence and hatred to other religious groups including converts to Christianity and Jews. (Photo: Open Doors International)
An American expert has accused Saudi Arabia of “obfuscation” and of breaking its promises to reform textbooks that pump out an “ideology of hatred” that threatens Western security and Middle Eastern stability. Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, was addressing the US . . . Read More