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» 12/19/2012
MALAYSIA - ISRAEL
Malaysia removes restrictions on Christian pilgrims to Holy Land
The ceiling on the number of pilgrims is removed; it was 700. The number of days is extended to 21 days from 7. Before, each Church could only bring f 40 people. For Catholic priest, the change brings happiness ahead of the festivity.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agenzie) - Malaysian authorities have lifted quotas and other restrictions on Christians who want to travel to Israel and the Holy Land. The decision was taken in November but was made public only as applications for travel to Jerusalem went up. It comes after a long feud between the government and minority Christians and might affect next year's election.

Predominantly Muslim Malaysia bars travel to Israel but the government has previously allowed Christians to travel to the historic city regarded as holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

According to the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), the government imposed a quota of 700 pilgrims per year, with any one church only allowed to send a group of 40.

But a letter sent from Prime Minister Najib Razak's office to CFM president Ng Moon Hing on 28 November said these limits no longer applied save that visits could be for a maximum 21 days.

Following the controversy over the use of Allah also for the Christian God, a case decided in Christians' favour in court, Malaysia's Christian minority has had to face a period of difficulties, tensions and violence, including attacks against its churches and buildings.

With restrictions gone, some peace of mind has come to them on the eve of Christmas celebrations.

"We are grateful we can once again go to worship in the Holy Land," said Fr Lawrence Andrew, former Herald Malaysia editor of Malaysia's only Catholic weekly.


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See also
07/13/2010 HOLY LAND
More pilgrimages to the Holy Land “due to pilgrims from Asia,” says Fr Pizzaballa
08/23/2005 HOLY LAND
Eastern Churches react positively to the election of Teophilus
by Jihad Issa
09/13/2004 ISRAEL - VATICAN
Interior Minister Poraz to visit Vatican tomorrow
03/24/2005 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
by Bernardo Cervellera
04/21/2011 HOLY LAND
The Churches of the Holy Land: reform must lead to freedom for religious minorities

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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