The government of Sudan has reaffirmed that it is banning the construction of all new Christian churches in the Muslim-dominated country, prompting "deep concern" from a persecution watchdog group.
"We are deeply concerned by Minister Shalil Abdullah's statement reaffirming the policy to deny new church permits. This policy, and the continued practice of demolishing and confiscating church land, constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of religion or belief, guaranteed in article 6 and 38 of Sudan's Interim Constitution as well as article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is signatory," Andy Dipper, Chief Operating Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Abdullah, the Sudanese Minister for Guidance and Religious Endowments, reportedly explained that due to the country's separation from South Sudan, where many Christians have fled, the existing churches in the Republic of Sudan are sufficient for the nation's minority Christians. more >>
As the death toll from the deadliest outbreak of Ebola outbreak in history reached 603 earlier this week in West Africa, the World Health Organization said that workers are also fighting rumors and hostility, which is making it difficult to access threatened communities.
"It's very difficult for us to get into communities where there is hostility to outsiders," WHO spokesman Dan Epstein said in a news briefing, Reuters reported on Wednesday. "We still face rumors, and suspicion and hostility ... People are isolated, they're afraid, they're scared."
Some people in the affected communities reportedly believe that outsiders are spreading, rather than fighting, the Ebola outbreak. more >>
Islamist militant group Boko Haram has killed at least 2,053 civilians in over 95 attacks during the first half of 2014, an analysis by Human Rights Watch reported on Tuesday. The militants, who also kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in April, have waged a war on the Nigerian government and the country's Christians for close to five years.
"Boko Haram is effectively waging war on the people of northeastern Nigeria at a staggering human cost," said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Atrocities committed as part of a widespread attack on civilians are crimes against humanity, for which those responsible need to be held to account."
The watchdog group detailed a number of the attacks that have occurred in Nigeria since January, and noted that its figures are based on analysis of media reports as well as field investigations. Many of the most deadly attacks took place in Borno State, the birthplace of Boko Haram, where 1,446 people were killed. more >>
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has vowed to continue fighting for the safe release of the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April.
While visiting Nigeria this past Saturday on her 17th birthday, Yousafzai told parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls that her one birthday wish for this year is to see the kidnapped girls freed and reunited with their parents.
"I can see those girls as my sisters … and I'm going to speak up for them until they are released," the education activist said while speaking to parents of the girls on Saturday. "I can feel … the circumstances under which you are suffering. It's quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger." more >>
Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has ended his Twitter hiatus by posting multiple religious-themed messages on the social media platform this week, shortly before his highly-publicized murder trial reaches its conclusion in August.
Pistorius, who is being charged with the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, returned to Twitter Sunday after taking a five month hiatus from the social media platform. One of the tweets uploaded on Sunday was a reference to Psalm 34:18 that reads: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted."
The South African sprinter then posted a collage of photographs that showed the Olympic athlete posing with young amputees, accompanied by the message: "You have the ability to make a difference in someones (sic) life." more >>
Citing a survey last year which found that there were some 557 practicing Christian denominations in the small Central African nation, Burundi's lower house of parliament has passed a bill requiring churches to have at least 500 members and a building to stanch the "proliferation of churches" in that country.
Under the proposed law, foreign churches will need at least 1,000 followers before they can register as a legitimate church, according to the BBC.
Evangelical churches have been cropping up at a rapid pace in the predominantly Christian nation of nearly 9 million people since the end of a long ethnic based civil war in 2005 in which an estimated 300,000 people were killed. more >>