‘Unprecedented’ persecution of Egypt’s Christians heads 2018 World Watch List

‘Unprecedented’ persecution of Egypt’s Christians heads 2018 World Watch List
More Christians abused in India than in all other countries combined; Nepal enters list Islamic extremists driven out of Iraq and Syria are behind a new intensity of Christian persecution in surrounding countries, says global charity Open Doors in its latest annual survey of countries where it is most difficult . . . 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

Tajik pastor placed in solitary confinement in prison 350km from home

Bahrom and Gulnora Kholmatov
A Tajik Protestant church leader serving a three-year sentence for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred” has been moved to a prison 350km from his home and placed in solitary confinement. Bakhrom Kholmatov, 42, was sentenced in July under the Tajik Criminal Code Article 189 (“inciting . . . 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

Tajikistan: three-year sentence for pastor for ‘singing extremist songs’

Bahrom Kholmatov
A Protestant church leader in Tajikistan has been handed a three-year sentence for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred,” reports regional news agency Forum 18. The agency reports that the Tajik authorities have also threatened family, friends and other church members if they reveal any details . . . Read More

US Commission urges Trump administration to prioritise international religious freedom

US Commission urges Trump administration to prioritise international religious freedom
An influential US government commission that monitors religious freedom around the world is urging President Donald Trump and his new administration to take concrete steps to make advocacy of universal religious rights a priority in American foreign policy. “Our foreign policy should not simply be about US self-interest – you know, . . . Read More

Azerbaijan registers Bible Society after 20 years, but will it be able to print Bibles?

Azerbaijan registers Bible Society after 20 years, but will it be able to print Bibles?
The recent registration of a Bible Society in Azerbaijan, after a 20-year fight, has brought fresh optimism to the country’s minority Christians, but there remains some confusion about the types of books it will be allowed to print, with even Bibles potentially falling foul of the country’s strict regulations. Terje . . . Read More