Pastor Saeed Abedini has revealed that he and fellow prisoners in Tehran are waiting on Iran to follow through with promises to start releasing thousands of prisoners of conscience, which so far has not happened.
"In recent weeks, hopes had been high that Iran was preparing to do the right thing and release Pastor Saeed and other prisoners of conscious as part of a good faith showing under newly elected president Hassan Rouhani," said a statement by the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children in the U.S.
The Iranian-American pastor has been imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran for more than a year, serving an 8-year sentence. The ACLJ has said that the pastor is being punished for his Christian faith – a fate that a number of other prisoners of conscience in the Islamic country are also facing. more >>
An Egyptian-born speaker drew protesters denouncing his anti-Muslim message to the Minnesota church hosting his lecture earlier this month.
Originally intended to speak at a public school in Bagley, Minn., school officials moved Usama Dakdok to Calvary Evangelical Free Church after complaints about the content of his message.
"We asked to change the venue to the church because the speaker did not appear to coincide with school district policy," Steve Cairns, superintendent of Bagley Public Schools told The Grand Fork Herald. "The appropriateness of the conversation appeared to be more in tune with the church." more >>
A large-scale battle between Nigerian forces and Islamic militants lasting over 5 hours in the state of Yobe has left 128 people dead, local sources have reported, raising questions about how much control the government has over the troubled region.
Details are still scarce about the violence that occurred late last week, but figures quoted by Nigerian military and hospitals state that 95 of the dead are militants, 23 are soldiers and eight others are police officers.
American pop singer Ke$ha has been banned from performing her upcoming concert in Malaysia after the government said her lyrics and image go against the country's conservative values. The pop singer claimed via Twitter that she was even threatened with imprisonment if she chose to go through with the performance.
The country's Ministry of Communications and Multimedia said in a brief statement late last week that its decision to cancel Ke$ha's upcoming performance "touches on religious sensitivities and cultural values of Malaysians." Sixty percent of Malaysia's 28 million-person population is Muslim, while only nine percent is Christian. Ke$ha's lyrics often make reference to partying, binge drinking, and a sexually promiscuous lifestyle, all topics that are taboo under strict Islamic culture.
The 26-year-old pop artist, whose real name is Kesha Rose Sebert, took to Twitter to defend herself in light of the news. "To be clear. I did NOT cancel. I was not allowed to play. [sic] and then I was going to play anyways and was threatened with imprisonment," she wrote. more >>
Israel and Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) are engaging in negotiations refused for years by the PA. Yet, only weeks ago, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, delivered a paean to Shekih Ahmad Yassin, founder and leader of Hamas, the terrorist organization that has murdered hundreds of Israelis in scores of suicide bombings, calling him a Palestinian "icon." How can peace talks and glorifying a terrorist chieftain coexist in the PA?
Al-Habbash gave us the answer this summer, when he justified this return to diplomacy by reference to something well-known to his mosque audience––the 628 Treaty of Hudabiyyah.
Hudabiyyah was an agreement between Muhammad and the Meccan Quraish tribe, in which Muhammad promised a decade of peace. But in less than two years, a Qureishi-allied tribe committed a breach by attacking a Muhammad-allied tribe. Muhammad, who had meanwhile organized a huge army, took this pretext to attack the Qureishis. Isolated and unprepared, the Qureishis surrendered. more >>
Four Iranian Christians are set to receive 80 lashes each as punishment for drinking communion wine at a house church, while Iran faced further criticism in a U.N. report on its human rights record.
"The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalise the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord's Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably," said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), who reported the news earlier this week.
"We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation's legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities." more >>