US agency accuses Russia of abusing anti-extremism laws

US agency accuses Russia of abusing anti-extremism laws
Russia’s anti-extremism laws are being used to crack down on peaceful religious minorities such as Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hare Krishnas, the top US religious-freedom watchdog says. A report commissioned by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that “vague and problematic definitions of ‘extremism’ in Russian law . . . 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

Egypt rejects US claim of Copts’ persecution as ‘lies’

Egypt rejects US claim of Copts’ persecution as ‘lies’
The Foreign Relations Committee of the Egyptian Parliament is preparing a report in response to the US Congress “Coptic Solidarity” memorandum alleging persecution of Copts in Egypt. The memorandum was introduced last month and claimed that Copts were subjected to “systematic bigotry” and “treatment as second-class citizens in Egypt”. Described . . . Read More

Do Christians really ‘thrive’ in Israel?

Jews praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Protests in the southern Israeli town of Dimona have flared up again, two weeks after a meeting centre for Messianic Jews re-opened its doors. The centre was closed in May last year following violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews and attacks on the homes of church leaders. Earlier this week a . . . Read More

Iran protests saw people ‘turn their backs on political Islam’

Ayatollah Khomeini
Iranians are challenging the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic because corruption and inequality undermine its ideals, a human rights activist has claimed. In an interview with World Watch Monitor, Mansour Borji, Iranian-born advocacy director of UK-based human rights charity Article 18, said the street protests that spread across the country . . . Read More

US installs Sam Brownback as religious freedom ambassador

US installs Sam Brownback as religious freedom ambassador
The US Senate has confirmed Sam Brownback as the new head of the Office of International Religious Freedom. Brownback is the first ambassador under the US’s revised International Religious Freedom Act, which affirms a commitment to international religious freedom as a foreign relations policy. Brownback, 60, ran for president in . . . Read More

Syria church leader condemns Turkey’s ‘unjustified aggression’

Syria church leader condemns Turkey’s ‘unjustified aggression’
A senior church leader in Syria has condemned Turkey’s new military offensive as “unjustified aggression” and urged the international community to exert “maximum pressure” to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. Rev. Abdalla Homsi, of the Evangelical Christian Alliance Church of Aleppo, issued a statement as an estimated 5,000 people were reported to . . . 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