Rubric Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion
by Dario Salvi

Over the weekend, the bells at Ibrahim Al-Khalil Church chimed for the first time. Its inaugural Mass will take place by Easter. Speaking to AsiaNews, the engineer who conceived and financed its construction calls for peace in Gaza, saying that the Church will be a place full of symbolism to "show the world" our Christian "identity”. Many now hope that it will draw pilgrims to “rediscover their land”.

| 12/03/2024
| GATEWAY TO THE EAST
by Shafique Khokhar

Kidnapped at the age of 13 and forced to marry a Muslim, a Christian girl from a brick kiln family suffered severe abuse. She was segregated when she rebelled over her husband’s second marriage. “I want to see my children. I want justice!” she said. For Joseph Jansen, this is “the true face of the reality” minorities continue to experience in Pakistan.

| 12/03/2024
| PAKISTAN

At least 4,000 suspected “terrorists” have been arrested since 7 October, pushing up the number of Palestinians in jail from about 5,200 to about 9,000 thanks to the widespread use of administrative detention. Clashes break out overnight between police and Muslims at the start of Ramadan near al Aqsa. Israeli police limit access to the holy site despite pledges to the contrary.

| 11/03/2024
| ISRAEL – PALESTINE

Celebrations were held yesterday for the diocesan Catholic weekly, a respected voice in India and beyond. In his speech, the cardinal recalled the commitment to promoting dialogue and the legacy based on quality information. Fr. Irudayasamy delved into the topic of artificial intelligence. An award to AsiaNews correspondent Nirmala Carvalho.

| 11/03/2024
| INDIA

The victim is the Chaldean Hanna Saka, who died while returning to Baghdad after the Swedish expulsion order. The fatal illness on board the plane, but problems had already emerged before boarding. For his brother, his condition worsened after the rejection of his asylum application. Iraqi Christians and migration, an ever-present issue.

| 09/03/2024
| IRAQ - SWEDEN

There has been no definite news about their fate since 4 March. The arrest took place without a warrant or explanation of the reasons. They are relatives of Pastor Y Khen Bdap, who was also sentenced in 2004 to four years for 'disturbing public order' for religious activities. The community had already been subjected to sectarian violence and persecution in the past.

| 09/03/2024
| VIETNAM
by Steve Suwannarat

The government blames US-based Montagnard Support Group Inc and Montagnard Stand for Justice for attacks on Communist Party headquarters in the Dak Lak area. Despite recent overtures, Vietnam’s Christian minority is still victimised and persecuted.

 

| 08/03/2024
| VIETNAM

AsiaNews publishes a reflection for the Lenten season by a Capuchin friar from Lahore. The situation in the country mirrors "the negative impact" of global conflicts and general tension. Prayer "a glimmer of hope" in the midst of chaos. The renunciation of food a practice that "brings one closer to God". Almsgiving a material representation of mercy.

| 07/03/2024
| PAKISTAN
by Dario Salvi

On 20 February, the Chaldean Patriarch took part in the Saudi government's third forum on the media as "bridges" of peace, the Kaiciid a partner in the event. The relationship between Christians and Muslims in a nation in "evolution". The call for a form of 'synodality' also for Islam. The "wise" position of Riyadh in the war in the Holy Land. And to the Holy See: "We must dialogue, discuss" with the Saudis.

 

| 05/03/2024
| GATEWAY TO THE EAST
by Shafique Khokhar

On Monday, the Pakistani Senate voted on the Christian Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2023. For Christians, the legal age of marriage goes from 16 to 18 years of age. The battle to protect young women and girls from the practice of child brides and forced conversion began in November 2022. Now many hope it can be extended to all religions.

| 01/03/2024
| PAKISTAN
by Mathias Hariyadi

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Office is becoming more inclusive, Religious Affairs Minister Qoumas announced, with services available to "all Indonesian citizens”, not only Muslims. Its premises will be open for weddings of members of religious groups that do not yet have places of worship.

| 26/02/2024
| INDONESIA

The community is appealing to the courts to assert its rights over the 'Garden of Cows' at the centre of an opaque real estate transaction that threatens to distort their historic neighbourhood. The land is held in trust with a waqf fund established 400 years ago. The objective is the annulment of the sale agreement. Pro Terra Sancta" collection: the Custodian calls for "prayer, pilgrimages and sharing of resources" from Christians around the world.

| 26/02/2024
| HOLY LAND

The appeal contained in the final declaration of the Peace Round Table that brought together Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews in Tokyo on the initiative of Religions for Peace. "We pray and offer solidarity to those who suffer the brunt of ongoing wars and violence. Let us work together to promote the common good'.

| 24/02/2024
| JAPAN

The authorities have completed the transformation of one of the most symbolic places of Chinese Islam. The minarets have been torn down, while a sentence at the entrance invites obedience and gratitude to Beijing. A change that also affects other mosques in the area, where a large Hui Muslim community lives. As for the churches, children are forbidden to enter.

| 23/02/2024
| CHINA

Founded in 1951 to help recently independent India’s social and economic development, the Indian Social Institute has long been in the government's crosshairs. The think tank, with which Fr Stan Swamy collaborated, has never been involved in evangelisation activities, its current executive director told AsiaNews, but it has openly criticised the Hindutva ideology.

 

| 22/02/2024
| INDIA

The government set the deadline for 31 December. For some, the date leaves the federal parliament too little time to legislate in such a sensitive matter. Two visions confront each other as to the place of state secularisation and Islamisation.

| 20/02/2024
| MALAYSIA

Victims often do not report for fear of further harassment. In 2023, at least 166 arrests were made, but only a fraction were made public. Pressure and repression continue even after release. In Turkey, an Iranian Christian who fled in 2013 risks deportation and, in case of repatriation, imprisonment.

| 19/02/2024
| IRAN - TURKEY
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
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by Dario Salvi
An AsiaNews source recounts the life of Catholics. One million people, mostly economic migrants, celebrate their faith "in private". The bond with the universal Church and the hope of one day being able to gather and pray in a church. The ...
| 02/07/2024
| GATEWAY TO THE EAST
 
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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”