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

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

Will end of sanctions against Sudan ease Bible shortage for 1 million Christians?

Will end of sanctions against Sudan ease Bible shortage for 1 million Christians?
Measures by the Sudanese government to prevent Bibles from entering the country are leaving the churches there with a serious shortage of Scripture and teaching materials. One senior church leader, who has overseen the import of hundreds of thousands of Bibles and other pieces of Christian literature to Sudan, told . . . Read More

Uzbekistan should ‘protect religious freedom, not see religion as a threat’ – UN Special Rapporteur

Uzbekistan should ‘protect religious freedom, not see religion as a threat’ – UN Special Rapporteur
Uzbekistan should invest more time in protecting religious freedom in its ongoing reforms rather than see religion as a threat, a UN expert has concluded after an official visit to the country. “Resilience against religious extremism can be built on strengthening diversity as well as freedom of religion or belief,” . . . Read More

Andrew Brunson, still in prison after one year, thanks people for praying for him

Andrew Brunson in a photo provided by his family.
American pastor Andrew Brunson has served one year as a prisoner in Turkey. Charges against him are unclear and recently Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed publicly that Brunson is being held as a political hostage. Brunson is one of an estimated 50,000 “suspected” public servants, academics, journalists and rights . . . Read More

ASEAN nations told to ‘end blasphemy laws that inspire violence’

A right for all - USCIRF report on ASEAN nations
On its 50th anniversary, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should repeal blasphemy laws, release prisoners of conscience and strengthen interfaith relationships, says the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). In a new report, USCIRF highlights regional “arrests, detentions, and imprisonments based on religious belief, practice, or activities, . . . Read More