U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and State Department Ambassador at-large for International Religious Liberty David Saperstein introduced on Wednesday the 2014 International Religious Freedom Report, which highlights the disturbing trends of religious martyr and persecution that occurred in every continent in the world.
The International Religious Freedom report, which is now in its 17th year of existence, is a congressionally-mandated report compiled by State Department staffers, which seeks to give voice to people throughout the world who have been victimized by various forms and degrees of religious persecution.
The 2014 report focused on a number of troubling trends including the rise of global extremist violence, the continued rise of anti-Semitism in Western Europe, the negative impact that blasphemy and apostasy laws have on the liberties of religious minorities, governmental religious hostility and societal violence and discrimination. more >>
The brother of Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post journalist convicted in Iran for allegedly being an America spy, has decried what he called his "cruel and inhumane" detention. Friends of the American-Iranian journalist have also spoken out about their "total shock" at his conviction.
Ali Rezaian told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his brother, who has been detained for 14 months on the charges of espionage, needs urgent help from the U.S. government to win his freedom. The journalist faces up to 20 years in prison, unless the ruling is overturned.
"I would call it unjust, I would call it cruel and inhumane, I would say Jason's lost 14 months of his life, half of his marriage, to being held without any evidence on charges that are completely trumped up," Rezaian said. more >>
One Chibok girl who managed to escape Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has revealed that many of the 200 Christian schoolgirls abducted in April 2014 are still alive. But the girls have suffered greatly under the jihadists with a number of them impregnated and carrying diseases, while those who have refused to convert to Islam have been killed.
The Saturday Vanguard reported that one of the kidnapped girls who was kept in the Sambisa forest camp managed to escape captivity, and was rescued by Fulani herdsmen. She revealed that many of the girls have been relocated to the Lake Chad region following heavy military operations on the Sambisa forest by Nigeria's government.
"All of us were forced to become Muslims but kept in camps far from each other," the girl said. "You can only see and recognize those in your camp as any of us who refused being Islamized was either beheaded or shot at point blank range." more >>
A Syrian priest who was kidnapped by the Islamic State terrorist organization in May was finally released Saturday, allowing him to conduct his first mass since his abduction the following day in the Homs province.
An unidentified church source told AFP that Father Jacques Mourad, the prior of the Mar Elian Monastery, has been released and is now taking shelter in a town about 3 miles from the city of Homs.
Although the 1,600-year-old monastery was destroyed by IS in August when the militant group took over the town of Quaryatayn and kidnapped over 230 people, including 60 Christians, Mourad was abducted months before the demolition when IS militants took over the ancient town of Palmyra in late May. more >>
A Danish photographer who was held captive for 13 months by the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria has finally spoken out about his tortuous detention, which included periods where he was not allowed to sit for days, and an instance where he was forced to dance with IS' most notorious executioner.
Daniel Rye Ottosen, a freelance photographer from Odense, Denmark, was captured by the Islamic State in 2013 and held with other European and American journalists and aid workers who were eventually featured in the group's widely publicized video beheadings that were carried out by famed black-masked executioner, Kuwaiti-born Mohammed Emwazi — also known by the nickname "Jihadi John."
Fortunately for Ottosen, he did not suffer the same fate as Americans James Foley, Peter Kassig and Steven Sotloff or Britons Alan Henning and David Haines. With the help of his sister, a fundraising campaign was established through Facebook to pay an approximate ransom of $2.28 million to the terrorist group to secure his release. more >>
Evangelist Franklin Graham has said that despite the genocide and various horrific human rights abuses being perpetrated on Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, the world appears to be largely silent and apatheitc. Graham also called on believers to pray for the end of the "horrendous evil" being done in the name of religion.
"It is genocide — and the world seems largely silent about it. Genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities of Syria and Iraq. And their methods are unimaginably cruel and heinous," Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
He recalled a number of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State terror group in the past couple of months, including the murder and crucifixions of groups of Christians, torturing children, raping women, and forced conversions to Islam. more >>