45-year old Mother-of-five in Solitary Confinement since 2010, ongoing Mass Killings of Christians

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi to spend Christmas in a prison cell

By Martin Bashir, BBC

asia-bibi

Islamabad/London, 22.12.2016 (BBC) – As churches around the country prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, with peace and goodwill toward men, spare a thought for those who must live out their faith in a foreign land. This will be the seventh consecutive Christmas mother-of-five Asia Bibi will spend in solitary confinement within the Islamic Republic of Pakistan – a country that has what the United Nations describes as “one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”.

A member of the Christian minority, just 1.6% of the population, 45-year-old Asia Bibi was jailed after being found guilty of breaching Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.

Her case has provoked global protests, with supporters accusing the judiciary of fabricating the charge to persecute a Christian. There have been no fewer than three attempts at appealing against the verdict.

There’s also been a direct intervention by Pope Francis, who received a delegation of family and friends at the Vatican. But still she languishes in a small cell as the world awaits a final decision from the Supreme Court in Lahore.

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Posted in Christians, Countries, FoRB Violations, Human Rights, Islamism, pakistan, Persecuted Groups, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religious Intolerance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

PRESS RELEASE

FRENCH POLITICIANS MOVE TO CRIMINALIZE ANTI-ABORTION INFORMATION

Measure would put France in the “global vanguard of religious discrimination” – An “outright attack on freedom of speech”

Press Release by FOREF Europe

French version / German version (PDF)

Kent Wang (Flickr)

Kent Wang (Flickr)

Paris/Vienna, 20.12.2016 (FOREF – Europe) – A bill adopted by the French Senate to criminalize the publication of anti-abortion information judged as “moral and psychological pressure” would egregiously violate the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, and France’s basic international legal human rights obligations under United Nations treaties, according to the Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe (FOREF).

“France would be acting like a totalitarian secular theocracy if this measure became law, and in the global vanguard of religious discrimination,” according to Dr. Aaron Rhodes, the president of FOREF.

“The issue here is not whether abortion is good or bad, but whether the state has the right to restrict the dissemination of teachings about the question, and thus to police the moral outlook of citizens,” he added. “From a human rights perspective, it does not.”

The bill modifies the already existing article L2223-2 of the French Health Code which represses the act of impeding or trying to impede people from offering or obtaining information on abortion by exerting “moral and psychological pressure”, i. e. through demonstrations in front of hospitals.

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Participating States and Civil Society Representatives searching for methods to defend FoRB rights of Christians

OSCE Conference on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians

 Report by HRWF 

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Vienna, 14.12.2016 (HRWF) – The conference on “Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians” held under the German OSCE chairmanship on 14 December, 2016, in Vienna was a follow up to last year’s meeting on enhancing efforts to prevent discrimination against Christians. The security of Christian communities in the OSCE region and beyond is increasingly becoming a matter of great concern. The objectives of the three sessions of this conference were (a) to identify current patterns of intolerance and to discuss measures for ensuring the security of Christians and the protection of their places of worship, (b) to explore educational approaches aimed at promoting freedom of religion and belief (FoRB), and (c) to discuss governmental and legislative actions in line with principles of equality and non-discrimination in order to ensure that Christian communities can practice their belief without restriction or fear of violence.

Ambassador Eberhard Pohl, Permanent Representative of Germany to the OSCE and Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, underlined in his opening remarks that the recent attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt remind us that it is our collective responsibility to combat religious intolerance. Having a longstanding tradition of assisting civil society, ODIHR is offering a platform to discuss the concerns of Christians in the OSCE region, the Middle East and North Africa. Under the German chairmanship, the OSCE will continue to encourage participating states to effectively counter hate crimes and develop sustainable strategies against discrimination.

Introducing the program of the conference, Ms. Cristina Finch, Head of the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department of the OSCE/ODIHR, recalled that FoRB is a long-standing OSCE commitment dating back to the 1975 Helsinki Act. However, as the ODIHR’s annual hate crime report of 2015 has shown, arson attacks against places of worship or assaults on religious leaders increasingly cause concern. Twenty-two participating states have reported 120 violent attacks and 480 cases of hate crimes against Christians last year.

The keynote speech was delivered by Rev. Msgr. Dr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-

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Posted in Christians, FoRB Violations, Hate Speech, Human Rights, International Platforms, OSCE, Persecuted Groups, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religious Discrimination, Religious Intolerance, Torture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ahmadis “break the law” by commemorating prophet Mohammad’s birthday

PAKISTAN: Ahmadi Mosque stormed by Violent Mob

A procession of around two thousand Sunni Muslims marking the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad entered the Ahmadi mosque despite resistance by police, hurling stones and bricks and firing weapons.

The Ahmadi minority holds that a prophet followed the Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam. But that view runs counter to the Muslim religion’s central belief that Mohammad was the last of God’s messengers. In 1974, a Pakistani law declared Ahmadis non-Muslims and in 1984, a new law made it possible to jail Ahmadis for “posing as a Muslim” or “offending a Muslim’s feelings”.

“Police tried its best to stop the attackers but failed because of slim deployment,” Malik Nawaz, the police officer in charge of the Choa Saiden Shah area where the attack took place told Reuters. “Later, high officials reached the spot with more troops and chased out the occupants.” He said police would register a case against the attackers after receiving a formal complaint from the Ahmadi community. A spokesman for the Ahmadi sect said the mosque was built by the community in 1860 and has been in use since then.

The attackers likely attacked the mosque because they suspected the worshippers were breaking the law by commemorating the birthday of the prophet Mohammad.

“Today a mob attacked the worship place, threw stones and shot gunfire. Police could not stop them because of weak deployment,” Saleemuddin, the Ahmadi community’s Pakistan spokesman, told Reuters. The attack comes just a week after Pakistan renamed a university centre for physicist Abdus Salam, its first Nobel laureate, after more than 30 years of all but disowning his achievements, as a member of the Ahmadi minority sect. Salam, the first Muslim to win the prize for science, is buried in the Pakistani town of Rabwah, a major centre for Ahmadis, where his gravestone was defaced by local authorities who removed the word “Muslim” from an inscription that called him “the first Muslim Nobel laureate”.

Ahmadis have repeatedly been targeted with violence by militant protesters and been taken to court on blasphemy charges.


For more information on the systematic persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan see the FoRB Annual report: In prison for their religion or beliefs released by HRWF, p. 56-62.

Reports from the International Human Rights Committee on the systematic discrimination against Ahmadis in Pakistan:

Posted in Ahmadiyya, Countries, FoRB Violations, Hate Speech, Human Rights, Islamism, pakistan, Persecuted Groups, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religious Intolerance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Anti-Semitism: The rhetorical and physical manifestations of hatred toward Jews

UK: Government Takes Up Modern Definition of Anti-Semitism 

By Alan Johnson, World Affairs

anti-semitism

Washington DC/London, 19.12.2016 (World Affairs) – “Anyone guilty of anti-Semitism will be called out on it.” With those words, delivered Monday in a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel annual lunch, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May declared a just war of sorts. A timely one too. For as David Nirenberg, the University of Chicago professor and author of Anti-Judaism: The History of a Way of Thinking, has warned us, “We live in an age in which millions of people are exposed daily to some variant of the argument that the challenges of the world they live in are best explained in terms of “Israel””.

Nirenberg’s book is a magisterial survey and its conclusion should leave us shaken: hostility to the Jews has been a constituent element of western culture. The uncanny flexibility of antisemitism, its remarkable ability to shape-shift, has ensured both its impressive longevity and our woeful tendency to fall each time for its new guise.   

Anti-Semitism’s core motif is that the Jews, collectively and in their essence, are malign. Chameleon-like, the attribution of malignity changes with the times and with the needs of the anti-Semites. Jews have been “God-killers”, “aliens”, “cosmopolitans”, “Jewish bankers”, “Jewish-Bolsheviks”, “untermenschen”. These have all served as code words to mark the Jew for destruction.

And now the code word is “Zionist” or “Zios” or “Zio-Nazis”. That which the demonological Jew once was, demonological Israel now is: uniquely malevolent, full of blood lust, all-controlling, the hidden hand, tricksy, always acting in bad faith, the obstacle to a better, purer, more spiritual world, uniquely deserving of punishment, and so on.

May announced that the British government is formally adopting the working definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)—an intergovernmental body set up at the turn of the century by 31 member countries, 24 of which are EU member countries. We now have a definition that catches up with modern anti-Semitism. “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews,” the definition runs, “which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Read full article here.

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Human Rights Day: Challenges and Opportunities of Our Time

The Freedom of Religion as a Human Rights Priority

 Comment by Aaron Rhodes

human-rights-day

Vienna, 10.12.2016 (FOREF) – The following is based on a presentation by Dr. Aaron Rhodes at the Seminar, “Challenges and Opportunities of Our Time,” held in the Parliament of the Czech Republic on 25 November 2016, under the sponsorship of MP Nina Nováková.

Especially now, in these politically turbulent days, there is a need to speak openly about our most cherished beliefs and principles. So I want to thank honorable Nina Nováková for introducing events where general and foundational issues can be discussed. The Czech Republic needs to cultivate its tradition of political thought that has been informed by philosophical, religious and humanistic principles.  At the risk of “bringing coals to Newcastle,” I want to recall the words of your leader Vaclav Havel during the Velvet Revolution 27 years ago.  Havel said that even considering all the problems faced by Czechoslovakia,

“The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we got used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only for ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility and forgiveness lost their depth and dimensions, and for many of us they came to represent only psychological peculiarities, or to resemble long-lost greetings from ancient times, a little ridiculous in the era of computers and spaceships.” 

Two things are striking about this sad and beautiful statement. First, we could say many of the same things about the societies we live in today, including those that escaped spiritually destructive control by communist authorities. 

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Understanding the Ideology behind the Soviet-style Crackdown on Religious Minorities

Spiritual Security in Putin’s Russia

An Analysis by Julie Elkner

putin-at-russian-orthodox-monastary

 

London/Moscow, 01.01.2005 (History and Policy) – Julie Elkner has earned her PhD in history at King’s College, Cambridge. Her dissertation research examined the cult of the secret police in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. A paper that summarized her findings provides an introduction to a new concept that has entered the Russian political vocabulary in the early 2000s: the concept of ‘spiritual security’. Ever since, Russian policies have been directed at suppressing religious minority groups. 

The idea that spiritual security is an important component of national security has gained considerable currency both on the fringes of Russian politics, and in the mainstream. Spiritual security is listed as a subset of national security in a number of official policy documents issued by the Putin government. This is a new development whose potential significance has been overlooked by western commentators. The current concern with spiritual security encapsulates a number of key political undercurrents and trends in contemporary Russia. The growing body of literature on spiritual security has the capacity to illuminate emerging visions of Russia’s future development.

Ostensibly, the government’s focus on spiritual security is designed to preserve and strengthen ancient traditional Russian values. When viewed in historical context, however, the discourse of spiritual security reveals greater affinities with Soviet-style attitudes towards ideological subversion. The emerging preoccupation with spiritual security has important political implications, particularly when viewed in conjunction with the increasingly pervasive celebration of the secret police in Russian public life under Putin.

Read full paper here.

 

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