Two Christians are among the 11 prisoners of conscience released earlier this week by Iran, which has also been called to release other detainees, including American Pastor Saeed Abedini.
"CSW welcomes the release of Maryam Jaiili and Mitra Rahmati, Nasrin Sotoudeh and the other prisoners. While this positive step by the Iranian government is to be commended, it is by no means sufficient given the vast number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience," Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.
"CSW continues to call for the unconditional release of all of these prisoners, including Farshid Fathi, Benham Irani, Saeed Abedini, Shahin Lahooti, the seven Baha'i leaders, and others who belong to religious minorities and have been unjustly detained." more >>
Since Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown on July 3, his radical supporters have ruled the southern Egyptian city of Dalga, carrying out various attacks of vengeance against the city's 20,000 Christians, whom they blame for Morsi's overthrow. The military government took control of the city earlier this week, prosecuting the Islamists, but Christians fear the peace will be short-lived.
"The government and its forces are not going to be here for long and when they are gone we go back to living with Muslims, just us and them," Coptic Priest Father Ioannis told The Associated Press on Thursday.
"One day, all this police and army will go and we will have no one on our side," local Christian Sameer Hanna Tanyous said. more >>
Pope Francis stated in his most in-depth interview thus far on the Roman Catholic Church, published Thursday, that he affirms the social views of the Church, including on homosexuality and abortion, but believes that other issues should also gain focus.
Francis told interviewer, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, that he did not believe the Church should only focus and speak on hot-button issues. "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible," said the Pontiff in the recently published interview.
"I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context." more >>
Arizona Senator and former presidential hopeful John McCain had an opinion column published in a Russian publication Thursday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed last week.
In his column, published by Pravda.ru, McCain addressed the Russian populace and wrote that he is "more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today." "I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination. I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government," wrote McCain.
"I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few." more >>
The wife of an imprisoned Iranian-American pastor has stated that her husband has been bringing fellow inmates to Christ and that his time in an Iranian prison is "not in vain."
Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, told those gathered at Liberty University on Monday that though imprisoned in the infamous Evin Prison, her husband continues to evangelize. "He's been asked and tortured to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam and he has not," said Abedini, who said around 30 inmates have converted to Christianity due to Abedini's witness. "For me to know that so many of them now know Christ, it makes it worth it. I know his imprisonment is not in vain."
Abedini also told the students gathered that Saeed's torturers have often told him that he could go free should he return to Islam, but that he refuses to do so. "The kids and I desperately want him back but we're proud that over us he's chosen Christ, even over coming back to us, he's chosen to stand up for his faith," said Abedini. more >>
Coptic Christians have reacted with nervous relief to the Egyptian military's pushback of the Christian-persecuting Islamist rebels who had taken over Dalga.
During the two and half months that Islamist rebels held control, Christians suffered the vandalism and destruction of a monastery, two churches and close to three dozen homes. Recently, they had reported that the rebel rulers had forced them to pay a "jizya" or tribute tax to the Islamists — in essence, bribing their oppressors to let them stay in their homes.
Further, Copt incomes also suffered severely — the majority of Christian-owned small businesses were shut down during the Islamist takeover. In response to these measures, hundreds of Dalga's 20,000 Christians fled the city. more >>