Rubric Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Assam Christian Forum issued a statement, saying that the bill violates religious freedom. It is based on "misconceptions” about healing practices, the role of "faith and prayer" in illness, and fails to respect religious "diversity". Christian leaders also express concerns about "threats" to educational establishments and calls for the "removal of Christian symbols”.

 

| 17/02/2024
| INDIA

Stephen Chen Yueli was arrested as he entered mainland China on charges of "illegal business operations" for his involvement in printing children’s Sunday school materials. According to China Aid, he is in solitary confinement and cannot even see his lawyers. With him, eight other Christians were also arrested.

| 16/02/2024
| CHINA

The Middle East’s largest Hindu place of worship is in a country that is home to 3.6 million Indian workers. Its ruler, Mohammad bin Zayed, wants to make it a crossroads for interfaith dialogue. During his visit to the Gulf country, Modi also said laid the foundation stone of Bharat Mart, a huge "Indian market" in Dubai, hosting logistics services for exports from India to Europe and Africa.

| 14/02/2024
| INDIA – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
by Shafique Khokhar

A mob attacked an Ahmadi place of worship in Kotli district, sending the caretaker to hospital with serious injuries. Previously, they had given the authorities an ultimatum to demolish the Ahmadi mosque. Despite CCTV footage, police have yet to make any arrests. “We want justice,” Ahmadi leader told AsiaNews.

| 14/02/2024
| PAKISTAN

For Card Sako, the time of fasting and prayer offers a “new horizon" that invites us to let "the Holy Spirit change us from within." The vicar of southern Arabia speaks of a "path" of hope, mercy and forgiveness. The Maronite patriarch asks the faithful to pray for the "divisions, conflicts, hatred" in Lebanon. Mar Younan mentions the "process of repentance through the Holy Spirit.”

| 14/02/2024
| IRAQ – MIDDLE EAST
by Nirmala Carvalho

In the State of Tripura a group wants to impose a Hindu celebration at the Don Bosco School. In Assam they use the clothes of Christian religious as a pretext to cry out for conversions. Bishop Moolachira: "The government protect us". The bishop of Agartala: 'We serve everyone selflessly. And in our classes the poor have found dignity'.

| 13/02/2024
| INDIA
by Gianni Criveller 柯毅霖

The three recent appointments of bishops indicate a willingness not to break. But the Agreement with the Vatican is never even mentioned by the People's Republic of China. While a "five-year plan" for Catholics has just come into force that cites Xi Jinping instead of the pope and invokes a "theological foundation" to a Sinicization that in fact remains only an adaptation to Party policy.

 

| 12/02/2024
| CHINA - VATICAN
by Mathias Hariyadi

From February, the term 'Isa al Masih' will no longer be used, but the more appropriate 'Jesus Christ'. For the outgoing leader, it is a desire to show the plural and open face of the country. And to file away the controversy and protests over support for his Defence Minister Subianto and his son, the vice-presidential candidate (ahead in the polls).

| 10/02/2024
| INDONESIA

In Uttarakhand, five people died and more than 80 are wounded in clashes triggered by the demolition of a mosque and a madrassa. Amnesty International reports the "punitive" demolition of at least 128 Muslim properties from April to June 2022, with at least 617 people left homeless. Varanasi could be the next flashpoint. To avoid this, locals are praying that “peace is not to be disturbed”.

 

| 09/02/2024
| INDIAN MANDALA
by Nirmala Carvalho

The extreme gesture of a girl who left a note accusing a nun has aroused the wrath of Hindu nationalists who cry "incitement to suicide". The diocese: she had simply summoned her parents to the school. Bishop Bara of Ambikapur: "We are close to the grief of the family. But we also ask for justice for Sr Mercy".

| 09/02/2024
| INDIA
by Nirmala Carvalho

Hindu nationalists targeted Fr Dominic Pinto, head of a diocesan pastoral centre, for allowing a meeting of Protestants and Khrist Bhakta; the latter are Hindus who look sympathetically to the teachings of Jesus. For Bishop Mathias, Christians are again victims of a gross abuse; he hopes “that justice and good sense will prevail.”

| 07/02/2024
| INDIA

Village chiefs and residents attacked a house church in a village in southern Laos. The faithful, whose community is recognised by the government, were meeting for the Sunday service. Despite their complaint, the police have not yet punished the attackers. The region has already been the scene of sectarian persecution in the past.

| 07/02/2024
| LAOS
by Nirmala Carvalho

Catholic charity loses FCRA registration, which is essential to receive foreign funds. Particularly affected will be women and the most marginalised groups helped without religious distinction. “Stifling NGOs affects the poor the most,” says Fr Devasagaya Raj.

| 05/02/2024
| INDIA
by Dario Salvi

Several factors explain the attack by the Islamic State against the Santa Maria Church, but the root cause is the failure to resolve the Palestinian question, which periodically inflames the region. For Bishop Bizzeti, there is a “domino” effect that stems from oversimplification and short-sighted policies. He criticises the "irresponsible" decision to halt funding to UNRWA in Gaza.

| 02/02/2024
| TURKEY

Out of 7,000 families that once made up the community, only 350 remain today. Out of 17 churches, at least nine have been closed and two set on fire. Many chose to emigrate to Iraqi Kurdistan or the diaspora. From those who are left comes a call for expats to return, for this is also "our land".

 

| 31/01/2024
| IRAQ

The Islamic State claims responsibility for the attack against the Latin church. The two attackers were arrested trying to escape. The community is "terrified, shocked", said Bishop Palinuro. The incident raises questions "about the future of the Christian presence". Vicar of Anatolia notes that the government arrested 25 terrorists who wanted to attack churches and synagogues, but "they did not warn us".

| 29/01/2024
| TURKEY
by Dario Salvi

Pope Francis promulgated the decree recognising the heroic virtues of the Turkish bishop. For Bishop Bizzeti occasion of joy as "recognition" of the history of a people. His family exterminated during the First World War, but his story "goes beyond the Armenian genocide". Even today those who bear witness to the Gospel encounter 'difficulties, resistance'. After 14 years in February, the Turkish bishops visit the pope for an ad limina visit.

| 26/01/2024
| VATICAN - TURKEY
by Nirmala Carvalho

In Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, the celebrations for the new Ram Mandir in Ayodhya provided an opportunity for further intimidation of Christians. The police refused to accept complaints, citing "pressure from above". The local diocese asks for protection.

| 24/01/2024
| INDIA
by Mathias Hariyadi

The German-born Jesuit missionary died in recent days at the age of 87. He founded Pusat Musik Liturgi (Pml), a highly successful center. He composed more than 1,800 liturgical pieces with Paul Widyawan. In 2018 he had been the target of a serious attack by Islamic fundamentalists.

| 23/01/2024
| INDONESIA
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Ram Mandir, the new temple symbol of India in the place disputed with Muslims, has been officially consecrated. For Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “our Lord Ram has finally arrived,” marking “the beginning of a new era”. Bishop Mathias hopes that the “Ram Rajya (Reign of Rama) that Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of for our beloved country” will be realised. Today also marks 25 years since Rev Staines and his two sons were burnt alive in one of the most brutal acts of religious violence in the country's recent history.

| 22/01/2024
| INDIA
by Dario Salvi

Iran struck first in Iraqi Kurdistan, then into Pakistani territory, fuelling tensions with Islamabad, while China calls for "restraint". A Christian businessman from Mosul was among the victims in Erbil. In solidarity with the victims, Pope Francis calls for "good relations between neighbours." For the Chaldean primate, Card Sako, Iraq is a "divided" country, its people "tired and beaten”. The path of diplomacy is increasingly fragile.

| 17/01/2024
| IRAQ – IRAN – PAKISTAN
by Daniele Frison

Open Doors just released its World Watch List, focused on the 50 countries with the highest levels of discrimination against Christians. Around the world, about 365 million were affected in 2023, up from previous years. North Korea is still at the top. In Asia, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan follow. India is 11th with concerns for rising acts of hostility ahead of this year’s elections.

| 17/01/2024
| ASIA
by Stefano Vecchia

A community of about 50,000 individuals inhabit the valley in the far north-eastern corner of Pakistan. While accentuating the esoteric component of the Muslim faith, they have remained largely immune to pressure and threats from the Sunni majority. At the head is Karim, the fourth Aga Khan, recognised as the 49th Imam by the estimated 15 million Ismailis.

| 13/01/2024
| PAKISTAN

For US authorities, Iranian Christians are no longer eligible under a resettlement plan introduced last year. For advocacy groups, this is a controversial and "traumatic” decision since the Islamic Republic remains a Country of Particular Concern in terms of religious freedom.

| 12/01/2024
| TURKEY – IRAN

The Chaldean Patriarch raises the alarm over the continuous emigration of Christians, many of whom belong to the productive sector. They are increasingly "marginalised" in the country and no answers are coming from the government. From the joint effort of some leading ecclesiastical figures a renewed commitment for the future.

| 11/01/2024
| IRAQ
by Shafique Khokhar

After Christian homes and churches were torched last summer on the pretext of blasphemy, street sweepers, who are mostly Christian, were not paid for two months before Christmas. “During the year, we lack proper equipment and tools for the job and because of this we often get sick,” street sweeper Khurram Masih told AsiaNews. Before Christian holy days, “we never get paid on time,” forcing them “to take out loans”.

| 10/01/2024
| PAKISTAN
by Angeline Tan

The program, titled "Pilgrimage," has aired for weeks showing "everyday" experiences of different religious faiths. Meanwhile, the path to sainthood of the pioneer of the Korean mission continues.

| 08/01/2024
| SOUTH KOREA

The complaint of Enishke parish priest Fr. Samir Youssef: "Just yesterday morning the home of a family from our community was hit, the fear is great. They are striking closer and closer to us." A new offensive involving northeastern Syria has been underway for a few weeks now.

| 05/01/2024
| IRAQ

Security forces took the prelate into custody last night, telling him to bring clothes for every season. Ordained coadjutor bishop with papal mandate in 2011, he is not recognised by the authorities for refusing to join the Patriotic Association. Since the death of his predecessor in 2016, he has been prevented from carrying out his ministry in one of China’s oldest and foremost Catholic communities. Now “the faithful are praying for him” and his release, a source told AsiaNews.

| 03/01/2024
| CHINA
by Melani Manel Perera

In 2008 Father Nandana Manatunga set up the Human Rights Office in Kandy for victims of torture, gender-based violence, and the families of the missing or unjustly detained.  The Christmas season, he told AsiaNews, is a time to share joy with everyone, not only Christians, but also Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims.

| 29/12/2023
| SRI LANKA
Editor's choices
 
The former apostolic administrator of Kunming and two other dioceses passed away; he was in his nineties. He was seminarian in 1949 when the Communists took over, and had to wait until 1995 to be ordained a priest after spending many years in prison ...
| 18/06/2024
| CHINA
 
by Alessandra De Poli
Kim Aris, 47, has accepted on his mother’s behalf the honorary citizenship awarded to her by the town of Abbiategrasso (Italy). Her family does not know where the 79-year-old is being detained nor her health conditions. According to her son, the ...
| 17/06/2024
| MYANMAR
 
Francis spoke at the expanded session of the summit underway in Puglia under Italy’s presidency. This is the first time a pontiff sits among the world’s top political leaders. In his address, he focused on artificial intelligence, an “exciting ...
| 14/06/2024
| VATICAN – ITALY
 
by Gianni Criveller
The great German Reformed theologian, who passed away a few days ago at the age of 98, nurtured dialogue with cultural Christians in Hong Kong and Beijing. He recognised the dignity and sincerity of another theological journey in China, however controversial, ...
| 09/06/2024
| ECCLESIA IN ASIA
 
by Sumon Corraya
Caritas Secretary General Alistair Dutton visits the refugee camps where Caritas Bangladesh has been active since 2017 together with the Government of Bangladesh. Global food aid has fallen to US$ 10 per person per month, which has serious consequences. ...
| 08/06/2024
| BANGLADESH
 
According to Prof Sebasti L. Raj, the BJP lost some key constituencies because it focused on religious issues rather than solve people’s real problems. The opposition is not a single bloc; to succeed, it must remain united. New undercurrents within ...
| 07/06/2024
| INDIAN MANDALA
 
by Dario Salvi
Yesterday at the Centro PIME in Milan, the nun spoke about the six months of brutality she experienced in Gaza. The war came on suddenly, with violence greater than in the past, which “removed the veil of human rights". Christians too are among ...
| 05/06/2024
| ITALY – GAZA
 
For years he has travelled the country barefoot, from north to south, feeding on alms and sleeping in the forests. A eulogy of religious devotion through the 13 ascetic practices of ‘Dhutanga’. Hostilised by official Buddhism, the monk is ...
| 01/06/2024
| VIETNAM
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”