The Chinese, Russian and Tajikistan governments bore responsibility for the destruction of over 100 houses of worship in their respective countries in 2012.
Pew Research Center has found that the three countries, whose populations are 1.4 billion, 146 million, and 8 million, respectively, were among the leaders in terms of the number of incidents of religious property damage. Pew collected data on the "demolition of houses of worship, and the seizure of religious groups' property and government raids of houses of worship that result in property damage."
China, which has no state religion, currently has a minority Christian population. According to the CIA World Factbook, 52.2 percent of the population is religiously unaffiliated, 18.2 percent is Buddhist, and only 5.1 percent are Christians. more >>
The Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Colombia has decried the human rights abuses continuing to take place in the country, where Christians are sometimes killed for offering a different way of life than joining drug trafficking groups.
"The situation is very delicate, and we as Bishops are the voice of those who have no voice, so we need to highlight that we are not living in human conditions in this area. We are forgotten by all, we have no protection, people live in anguish and without hope," said His Exc. Mgr. Julio Hernando García Peláez, Bishop of Istmina-Tado, according to Fides News Agency.
The region of Chocò was highlighted as a particular concern, where drug traffickers often prevent the presence of the services of the state. Mgr. Garcia added that security forces in the area also bare a good deal of responsibility for the violence, and claimed that some security members use civilians "to protect themselves from the fire of illegal armed groups, and innocent people die in these deadly clashes." more >>
Sudanese Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim said that her newborn daughter Maya, whom she gave birth to while in prison, will undergo an ultrasound to see if she can walk. Her family is currently staying at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan and hoping to be able to move to America soon.
While previous reports suggested that Maya is physically disabled, The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that hopes are now that the two-month-old girl will be fine, but the ultrasound will be needed to confirm that she will be able to walk. A doctor who came to the U.S. embassy in Khartoum performed the physical examination.
The publication says that it spoke with Italian journalist and activist Antonella Napoli, who visited Ibrahim's family at th U.S embassy, and revealed that Meriam, her two children, and her husband Daniel Wani, an American citizen, are sleeping in the embassy and are being cared for by staff. more >>
Seventeen were killed and 10 wounded on Monday after Muslim rebels in the Central African Republic attacked a church which had provided refuge for thousands of the country's beleaguered citizens. The Rev. Thibault Ndemaguia confirmed the number to the Associated Press several hours after the attacks.
Residents believe that the fighters attacked the Catholic Church compound in Bambari seeking revenge for the death of a young Muslim man, reported Reuters. Between 4,000 and 6,000 Christians are believed to have taken shelter at St. Joseph Cathedral of Bambari.
The Rev. Firmin Gbagoua, a priest at St. Joseph's, told Reuters that he believed the attackers assumed the cathedral was hiding members of the Christian militia, or anti-balaka. more >>
Zhang Shaojie, a prominent church leader from central China, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for gathering crowds to "disturb public order." A U.S. campaign group has said that the decision constitutes religious persecution and the Chinese government's attempt to hold back the growth of Christianity.
"This case shows the Chinese government continues to cover up religious persecution with fabricated criminal charges against an innocent church leader," said Bob Fu, the head of China Aid, according to The Telegraph.
Liu Weiguo, a rights lawyer who has worked with the pastor in the past, said that he was shocked at the severity of the sentence. more >>
Sudanese Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim is facing a new lawsuit after her Islamic relatives submitted a case on Thursday trying to prove that she is a Muslim, which would make her marriage to a Christian man illegal under Islamic Shariah Law. The lawsuit could further delay Ibrahim's hopes to travel with her husband and children to the U.S. and seek refuge.
Abdel Rahman Malek, the lawyer hired by Ibrahim's Muslim family, said that the Khartoum Religious Court will be reviewing their case "asking to prove that Meriam Ibrahim belongs to her (Muslim) father and family," according to Reuters.
The 27-year-old woman was spared the death penalty after an appeals court overturned the sentence in June, which was originally imposed on her for marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American. Ibrahim was briefly detained last week following her release from prison, with Sudan's government accusing her of attempting to travel with falsified South Sudanese documents. more >>