- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Several cases of persecution were reported this week, including another church bombing in Nigeria's turbulent city of Jos. Meanwhile, a Christian human rights group informed The Christian Post that the head of the Eritrean Orthodox church remains in prison, where - according to the group- he was placed unlawfully, and is denied medical attention he urgently needs. Also, a new report found that 74 percent of Pakistani women from minority communities -- Christians and Hindus -- were sexually harassed, while 43 percent faced religious discrimination at workplaces in 2010 and 2011.
Nigeria – A blast killed at least three people Sunday during a Catholic Mass in Jos, the turbulent city in northern Nigeria, two weeks after a suicide bomb attack by the Islamist sect Boko Haram during a church service there left at least three Christians dead.
Eritrea- Patriarch Antonios, head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, who has been deposed and reportedly illegally imprisoned by the government forces six years ago, is a diabetic and is currently in urgent need of medical attention as his health is deteriorating, International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group, informed The Christian Post. The organization claims the minister was detained for pressuring the government to release members of his church who were held unlawfully on account of their beliefs and is still held at an undisclosed location.
"It is a miracle that he remains alive without medical care," Fr. Athanasius Ghebre-Ab, an Eritrean Orthodox priest told ICC. "International humanitarian organizations, such as the Red Cross, should be allowed to visit the Patriarch." Church leaders are urging the government to release the patriarch, the priest said.
The patriarch was removed from office on Jan. 13, 2006 and his detention was tightened to ensure he remained incommunicado, according to a website lobbying for the church leader's restoration. In 2007, the Eritrean government installed Bishop Dioscoros of Mendefera as anti-Patriarch, in violation of the church's constitution and canons, the website claims. On the same day, the patriarch was allegedly forcibly removed from his residence and transported to an undisclosed location.
Sudan – More reports of the Islamist government allegedly planning to exterminate the tribal and non-Muslim population of the Nuba Mountains – a region in southern Sudan – have been coming from that mostly Muslim country. The Nuba people are some 30 percent Christian, a missionary told CP in a recent interview. The issue was getting little attention in mainstream media until George Clooney, the American actor, got arrested Friday for participating in a protest that attempted to bring the public's attention to what many exparts claim is an impending genocide.
Iran - An Iranian envoy has denied an execution order was issued for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, but revealed a list of charges against the evangelical Christian that allegedly make him guilty of "offending Islam." The pastor, detained in 2009 for alleged apostasy and evangelizing Muslims, remains in prison.
World - Religious minorities imprisoned for their beliefs have been subject to torture and other cruel treatment in Iran, Afghanistan, China, Egypt among other countries, confirms a recent report by the U.N. independent expert on torture.
"We receive many complaints where the underlying factor is religious persecution," Juan Mendez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, told reporters in Geneva on March 7. Mendez added that some complaints involve people being subjected to cruel forms of punishment for allegedly committing apostasy. The report, presented this week to the U.N. Human Rights Council, includes details on 250 requests sent to 59 countries between 1 December and November 30, 2011 and nine responses received up to the end of January 2012.
Iran - Another Christian convert, Fariborz Parsi-nejad, was reportedly arrested by security authorities in Esfahan, a city in central Iran, on March 2, it emerged recently, in what observers see as a sign of the increasing crackdown on Christians in the country, where they cannnot worship officially or raise churches.
Pakistan - A Christian Pakistani woman was reportedly charged with "blasphemy" for refusing to accept Islam as her faith and arrested on Feb 28. The woman, a young mother, rebuffed attempts by relatives who had converted to Islam to force her to renounce her Christian faith, reported Compass Direct News.
Pakistan - A new study by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) found that around 74 percent of Pakistani women from minority communities -- Christians and Hindus -- were sexually harassed, while 43 percent faced religious discrimination at workplaces in 2010 and 2011. The study also found that around 27 percent of minority women faced discrimination in admission to educational institutions and were forced to take Islamic studies for absence of any alternative subject.
Egypt - More than 300 Muslim lawyers reportedly prevented a defense lawyer to report in court Friday to defend a Coptic Christian man accused of blasphemy, by issuing death threats. The accused, Makarem Diab, was previously found guilty of "insulting the Muslim Prophet" and was scheduled for a hearing on his appeal. Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported that the lawyers at first said no Muslim would defend the man. Then they decided against anyone at all defending him, once two Coptic attorneys volunteered.
The Christian attorney, Dr. Naguib Gabriell, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, called the situation "terror" and added that he was on his way to court when he was advised that Muslim lawyers have issued death threats to any Christian lawyers who attend the court session.
Diab was reportedly assaulted by Muslim lawyers during his transfer from the courtroom as the security failed to protect him.