An Algerian judge under pressure from Islamists to uphold a Christian's conviction for alleged proselytizing rescinded his one-year prison term on Wednesday but doubled his fine, an attorney said.
Mohamed Ibaouene, 36, was shocked to learn on Dec. 11 that he had been convicted in absentia on July 4, 2012 by a court in Tigzirt, sentenced to one year in prison and fined 50,000 dinars (US $635) on a charge of pressuring a Muslim to convert. His attorney, Mohamed Benbelkacem, told Morning Star News that the appeals judge in Tindouf, in raising Ibaouene's fine to 100,000 dinars, must have realized there was no basis for the charge but was under pressure from Islamists to impose a sentence.
"The judge must have undergone some pressure to arrive at this sentence – that is the only explanation," Benbelkacem said. "That is why he had to choose to split off one of the two punishments; he could not decide for the punishment sought by the prosecutor, namely two years in prison followed by a 100,000-dinar fine, because it was unfair and unfounded. Unfortunately, we are faced with an act of injustice, and we intend to appeal." more >>
In a political asylum case involving a German family that fled to the United States to be able to homeschool their children, the U.S. Justice Department is arguing that the freedom to choose to educate one's own children is not a fundamental right. If the Romeike family, who are evangelical Christians, lose their case and are deported back to Germany, they could face fines, jail time, and their children could even be taken away from them.
Homeschooling is illegal in Germany. The Romeike's did not agree with some of what was taught to their children in the public schools, so they began homeschooling in violation of the law. After paying about $10,000 in fines and watching the police apprehend their children and take them to the public school, they sought political asylum in the United States and immigrated to Tennessee. The Home School Legal Defense Association helped them with the move and now represents them in court.
The Romeike's were granted political asylum by a federal district court judge in Tennessee. Political asylum is granted to refugees who can demonstrate that they are being persecuted for religious reason or because they belong to a "particular social group." more >>
As North Korea continues defying the concerns of the world by going ahead with its third nuclear test, refugees from the troubled country have spoken out to reveal the extreme religious persecution believers are suffering in the isolated Pacific nation.
"They ignore all freedoms. The human rights level is zero percent. Religions are not allowed. The leader of North Korea (Kim Jong-Un) has to be worshipped as god and this will not change unless the regime collapses," said a man identified as "Timothy," a 24-year old North Korean refugee.
Timothy has revealed to Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog group, that he was tortured almost to the point of death for trying to escape to China nine years ago. He added that the government is "preoccupied with nuclear tests." more >>
The United Nations Human Rights Council has been called to intervene in the case of American pastor, Saeed Abedini, who remains imprisoned in Tehran, Iran, after he was sentenced to eight years in prison following what has been widely labeled, an unjust trial.
The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), filed a statement on Monday in Strasbourg, France, asking the U.N. Council to call for the release of the pastor, much like the U.S. State Department has done.
"Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian with dual United States–Iranian nationality, is currently imprisoned at Evin Prison in Tehran, the Islamic Republic of Iran, because he encouraged peaceful assemblies of Christians in private homes," the ECLJ reminded the U.N. in the written statement. more >>
Islamist sheikhs have continued their calls to kill the opponents of Islamic Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Wagdi Ghoneim issued a fatwa Saturday stressing the necessity of killing Morsi's opponents, following another fatwa issued by Sheikh Mahmoud Shaaban, professor of Quranic rhetoric at Al-Azhar University, to kill opposing members of the National Salvation Front.
Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Abdullah has also joined in the calls, calling for the deaths of Egyptian opposition leaders in videos posted on YouTube. more >>
Hindu extremist attacks on Christians in Maharashtra state could expand even as violence elsewhere in India grows in areas where extremist groups had not been so active, Christian leaders said.
Ram Puniyani of the All India Secular Forum said at press conference in Mumbai this month that Maharashtra is vulnerable to increased attacks on Christians after "a decade of heightened Hindutva [Hindu nationalism], especially targeting tribal and Adivasi [indigenous] communities, as they are easy targets, with little fear of retaliation."
The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) released preliminary results of a study on Feb. 1, with Christian leaders saying that persecution is not increasing in comparison with previous years but is appearing in new areas. While the perennially troublesome Karnataka state last year saw the most attacks on Christians with 67, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 28, four new states entered the top 20: More attacks from Hindu extremists took place in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Mizoram and Goa than in previous years. more >>