LOS ANGELES, June 25 (Compass Direct News) – Security police officials in Tehran this month tortured a newly converted couple and threatened to put their 4-year-old daughter in an institution after arresting them for holding Bible studies and attending a house church.
A Christian source in Iran said that 28-year-old Tina Rad was charged with “activities against the holy religion of Islam” for reading the Bible with Muslims in her home in east Tehran and trying to convert them. Officials charged her husband, 31-year-old Makan Arya, with “activities against national security” after seizing the couple from their home on June 3, forcing them to leave their 4-year-old daughter ill and unattended.
Authorities kept them in an unknown jail for four days, which left them badly bruised from beatings, with Rad “very ill” and unable to walk, said the source. Rad was released on bail of US$30,000 bail, and her husband was freed on payment of US$20,000.
“The next time there may also be an apostasy charge, if you don’t stop with your Jesus,” a female security police officer told Rad during interrogation, according to the source. Under Iran’s strict Islamic laws, Muslims who convert from Islam to another religion can be executed.
A draft law before the Iranian parliament would make the death penalty mandatory for “apostates” who leave Islam.
“They went to a court hearing just for show,” the source said, “as secret police had already taken their signatures by force with a statement that they had not changed their religion.”
The charges, however, are still open, said the source, a close friend of the couple.
The female security police official warned Rad that if she and her husband continued attending a house church and holding Bible studies, they could be imprisoned “for a very long time” and would lose their daughter, Odzhan Arya. An officer also told Rad that authorities could concoct a drug case against them, “and you will be punished as drug smugglers.”
A male security police official also threatened Rad, who along with her husband received Christ as savior about three months ago, the source said.
“He told Tina during the interrogation that if she doesn’t cooperate and tell some names and addresses, she won’t see her daughter for a long time,” the source said. “They said, ‘Next time if we catch you, you are going to miss your whole family forever.’”
An officer also told Arya that authorities could place his daughter “in a protected religious institution.”
The charge against Arya of “activities against national security” was based on his allowing Bible sessions with Muslims in his apartment and trying to go to the house church, the source said.
Confirmation from the couple’s denomination of their arrest and mistreatment was not immediately available.
The couple was forced to sign a statement, the source said, that they wouldn’t go back to their house church and that they would have no contact with other Christians – and that if they did, “they will be punished by the law of Islam.”
The charges and forced statements seem to contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, giving it the force of law. Article 18 of the covenant stipulates that everyone shall have the right to adopt a religion or belief, as well as freedom individually or in community in public or private to manifest one’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
The couple would forfeit their bail and their freedom if secret religious police catch them engaged in Christian activities, they were told in the court before their release.
“They were tortured psychologically and physically,” the source said. “There are a lot of blue places on their bodies. Tina can’t walk well and is very ill, and her husband Makan is still very shocked.”
The couple was arrested after a relative of Arya informed security police of the couple’s Christian activities. According to the friend of the couple, officers confiscated their personal computer, satellite dish and television set, as well as all books, videos, CDs, DVDs and even a photo album.
“Tina is very sick, and because of the pain on the right side of her head from the torture, and the shock of the whole situation, she can’t leave the house and their daughter,” the source said. “She knows for sure that they are monitored in all their communications.”
Following their arrest, the husband and wife also suffered at the hands of family and area Muslims.
In order to make the bail payments, Arya obtained financial help from his father – on the condition that he promise to divorce his wife.
“So he did [promise], and now of course he refuses to divorce,” the source said. “So his father gave him an ultimatum. There is discrimination even in the family against them.”
After their release, the couple found the window of their clothing shop had been smashed.
“Almost the whole street knows about them, so imagine how difficult their business is,” said the source. “They want to change the shop and go somewhere else. Every day and night they get some calls from unknown people, and their life at this moment is under invisible and visible surveillance.”
On Monday (June 23) Arya received letters at both the clothing shop and his home stating that he must place evidence on his new window pane indicating his Islamic faith by displaying a statement and photos, or else he would have to buy a new window every day.
The source said Arya displayed a photo of Islamic leaders on the window, “but they want to go somewhere else.”
Arya went to area police asking for protection, the source said, “but they told him not to lie and to ‘go do something about it if you are a real believer of Islam.’”
Archive for the 'religious freedom' Category
BANGLADESH: PASTOR’S 13-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER GANG-RAPED
Thursday May 08, 2008
Area Muslims bent on driving Christian expansion from northern part of country.
DHAKA, Bangladesh, May 8 (Compass Direct News) – Muslim villagers in Mymensingh district eager to rid the area of the Christian work of a local pastor have gang-raped his 13-year-old daughter, the girl’s father said.
Pastor Motilal Das of United Bethany Church said that at around 3 a.m. on Friday (May 2) the villagers sexually assaulted his daughter, Elina Das, and left her unconscious in front of his house in an attempt to drive him and his Christian ministry out of Laksmipur village in Fulbaria sub-district, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital.
Local residents have long been angry with him for his ministry and evangelism, he said, and he has received death threats.
“I did not pay attention to any of the threats or hindrances – I continued evangelical and pastoral activities with prayer,” Das told Compass. “They targeted me to evict from this area to stop the Christian activities. When nothing stopped me, then they wanted to leave me scarred for life, so that I would be upset and not be able to show my face to the society for shame, and therefore I would leave the village.”
Das, who became the first Christian in the area in 1986 and has been key in an increase to more than 250 Christians and the emergence of 12 churches, said the brutal attack was pre-planned and calculated to stop further expansion of Christianity in northern Bangladesh.
“Otherwise, why would they rape such a minor girl?” he said.
Elina Das is the only Christian student at her school, he said. “Always local boys used to tease her on her way to school,” he said, “and used to tell her filthy words against Christianity and western culture.”
Five villagers attacked her when she went from her thatched house to an outdoor latrine, said investigating officer Sanwar Hossen of Fulbaria police station.
“Five people lying in ambush in the pitch-dark near the toilet snatched her by gagging her mouth with her body scarf [and taking her] to a nearby tea stall, 400 meters from the house, where they gang-raped her,” Hossen said.
Besides the religious opposition of some residents, the officer said villagers had no personal or commercial conflicts with the Das family that could serve as a motive for the assault.
“There was no family vendetta or personal clash or enmity of Motilal with the local people for which his daughter would be raped,” Hossen said. “There was even no land dispute between him and the neighbors, because he does not have any land.”
Family members found Elina Das lying unconscious in front of the house that morning.
“When I woke up in the early morning, I saw my daughter lying unconscious in front of my house,” Das said. “ A few hours after the gang rape, they had left her in front of my house.”
Das said he suspected friends of the rapists and perhaps some of the rapists themselves observed them as they went to the police station to file charges, as they later threatened to harm them if they did not withdraw the case, he said.
“I have received death threats against my entire family if I do not withdraw the case,” Das told Compass. “We, all the family members, were afraid and took shelter in the same police station, where my wife, daughter, son and I stayed for two days and one night.”
Elina Das has identified two of the rapists and could identify the others if she saw them or their pictures, said Das. Police have arrested Shebul Miah, 22. The girl identified another suspect, 32-year-old Dulal Miah, alias Dulu, who remains at large.
Fearful of his life if he returned to his home, Das relocated to the home of a friend in Dhaka on Saturday (May 3).
When Das initially went to police to file charges, he said, police were reluctant to register the case.
“Police told me that it was a false case,” Das said. “They also said that it was a fabricated drama. Police spoke with my daughter in filthy language and showed prurient interest in the details of the incident in front of us rather than filing the case quickly.”
Area Assembly of God (AG) pastor Sento Mir requested that the local denominational chairman encourage police to file charges. Following a phone call from him on Friday (May 2), police immediately agreed to investigate the incident and filed a rape case in the afternoon.
Area Muslims expressed their outrage at the brutal incident, and they are afraid that the assailants are backed by powerful people, Das said.
“We know Motilal Das as a good man in the locality, though he is a Christian,” said a Muslim neighbor, 42-year-old Ruhul Amin, who owns a tea stall in the nearby area. “He had not any personal clash or enmity with others in the village.”
Mir, the AG pastor, said Das will not be able to return to the area unless justice is served.
“If the arrested rapist is not judged properly and is released from jail without any judgment, Motilal Das cannot live in this area,” Mir said. “He along with his family members should leave the village, otherwise they will be in serious trouble.”
Likewise, he added, if the identified absconding rapist is not caught and convicted, the family will no longer be able to live in the area.
Bangladesh on ‘Watch List’
The day of the rape, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) announced annual recommendations for countries to be designated “Countries of Particular Concern,” but it did not include Bangladesh.
Rather, the commission put Bangladesh on its “Watch List” due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government. Other countries on the Watch List are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
According to USCIRF, Islamist radicalism and violence, the threat of serious violence and continued discrimination against members of religious minority communities remain significant concerns in Bangladesh.
May 2, 2008 8:41 PM
Muslim rebels have forced hundreds of mainly Christian families off their farms in the southern Philippines, escalating tensions in the region ahead of the withdrawal of Malaysian peace monitors next week.
Rolando Garcia, mayor of Kalamansig town on the troubled southern island of Mindanao, said that heavily-armed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed the farmers’ land belonged to the Muslim minority.
“We have about 1,200 people in our temporary shelter areas…afraid to return to their farms,” Garcia told reporters, adding rice was about to be harvested when the rebels came late on Wednesday.
The 11,000-strong MILF is meant to be observing a ceasefire and a spokesman for the rebel group said he was unaware of any land seizures.
“We have not received any report on that,” Eid Kabalu told reporters, adding the MILF leadership has ordered units to abide by a 2003 truce even after the Malaysian peace monitors withdraw.
Some MILF members are frustrated that long-running peace talks with Manila for the creation of a homeland for Muslims in the south of the largely Catholic country have been stalled since December 2007.
Last week, Malaysia said around 20 of 41 peacekeepers would leave on May 10 and the rest will be withdrawn by the end of August because the peace process, which Kuala Lumpur was chairing, was not moving fast enough.
Garcia said many Christian communities in the south feared of similar MILF attacks on their farms and villages as frustration boils over.
But analysts have said they do not expect the ceasefire to break down because most MILF members are war weary after a near 40-year conflict that has killed 120,000 people and displaced two million.
The MILF has questioned the sincerity of the government in wanting to create a Muslim homeland in the south.
Although President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has repeatedly said she wants peace, hawks in her cabinet are opposed to giving large swathes of land to Muslims and politically powerful Christian clans in the south would oppose a deal.Source: Reuters
In Padang, Islamic law is now imposed on all
by Mathias Hariyadi
The controversial local laws inspired by sharia are now being applied to non-Muslim citizens. Female students who do not wear the headscarf are suspended, and few have the courage to rebel, because of fear of reprisals.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In Padang, capital of the province of West Sumatra, the atmosphere is increasingly that of an Islamic state. Female students who do not wear the headscarf (hijab) are frequently suspended from school. The requirement to observe Islamic customs, sanctioned by the controversial regional law of 2005, is also imposed on non-Muslim girls, and has generated an atmosphere of strong pressure on religious minorities. The proliferation of local laws inspired by sharia (perda syariat) is a growing phenomenon in Indonesia, but the central government has chosen not to intervene for now, in spite of protests from religious minorities and human rights NGO’s.
The situation is not limited to Padang alone, where the most active promoter of Islamic laws is the mayor himself, Fauzi Bahar. In this province, which has an overwhelming Muslim majority, since 2002 more than 19 districts have ratified the so-called “perda syariat”, norms that are, however, supposed to be applied only to Muslim citizens: some of them criminalise behaviours prohibited by Islamic law, like adultery, prostitution, games of chance, and consumption of alcohol, while others restrict the freedom of women. Men as well are required to wear Islamic dress: the traditional white robe called the “koko”.
The application of the headscarf law in Padang is going beyond all imaginable limits, the inhabitants of the area say. An anonymous Catholic young woman admits: “Wearing the headscarf is not pleasant for me at all, and it bothers me while I am studying in school”. Other female students in various schools complain about the same thing. If they are interviewed by journalists, the young women ask not be named, because they are afraid of “being persecuted by fundamentalists”. “We have to adapt”, they say, “we have no choice, otherwise they will send us home”. Sudarto, one of the members of a local NGO that works for interreligious dialogue, reports that the headscarf law is applied strictly in at least four schools in Padang.
Other residents report with concern that since 2003 in Padang, mayor Fauzi has moved forward “enthusiastically” the project of “creating a more Islamic atmosphere” in the city. Among the other norms inspired by sharia, they recall the obligation for students in the elementary schools to learn the Qur’an by heart.
Exactly what happens when Islamic fundamentalists gain the majority and step into the political area, gaining political control.
Think about it people!
I am not shocked. And I would not expect any less from the mangy Saudis. They fund various Islamic related groups, mosques and collegiate studies in the US and elsewhere. For them to expect the Catholic Church to accept Mohammad (as a prophet) as prerequisite for Church’s in Saudi. Is a mind blowing arrogance. Recognizing Mohammad as a prophet would be going against the faith. They may as well be saying say convert or else. It is as simple as that. Of course that would still mean no church’s. There would be no longer be any need for Catholic Church’s (anywhere). Since Catholicism will have dissipated. The Catholic faith accepting Mohammad as a prophet would be a blasphemous act.
It is a lose, lose situation. Basically they are saying no to church’s in Saudi. Because surely even in their wildest dreams they do not believe that the Catholic Church will go along with such a demand.
Saudi Arabia: No churches unless prophet Mohammed recognised, says expert
Riyadh, 20 March (AKI) – No churches should be permitted in Saudi Arabia, unless Pope Benedict XVI recognised the prophet Mohammed, according to a Middle East expert.
While Saudi mediators are working with the Vatican on negotiations to allow places of religious worship, some experts believe it will not occur without this recognition.
Anwar Ashiqi, president of the Saudi centre for Middle East strategic studies, endorsed this view in an interview on the site of Arab satellite TV network, al-Arabiya on Thursday.
“I haven taken part in several meetings related to Islamic-Christian dialogue and there have been negotiations on this issue,” he said.
“It would be possible to launch official negotiations to construct a church in Saudi Arabia only after the Pope and all the Christian churches recognise the prophet Mohammed.”
“If they don’t recognise him as a prophet, how can we have a church in the Saudi kingdom?”
Ashiqi’s comments came after a declaration launched by the papal nuncio of the Persian Gulf, the archbishop Mounged El-Hachem, at the opening of the first Catholic church in Qatar last week.
The prelate had announced the launch of “treaties to construct a church in Saudi Arabia where it is banned to practise whatever religion they want outside Islam”.
El-Hachem estimated three to four million Christians in the Saudi kingdom who want to have a church.
A member of Saudi Arabia’s Consultative Council, Abdelaziz al-Thinani, rejected the prelate’s claims saying that there were no Christians among the Saudis who were all Muslims.
“Those few Christians do not reside in the country permanently, they come and go,” he said.
He denied there were four million Christians in the kingdom and said the issue of human rights should not be used to call for the construction of a Christian church.
Most of Saudi Arabia’s Christians are foreign workers. There are 8.2 million foreign workers in a country of 25.6 million people according to a report by the Saudi Labour Ministry.
Iran Mulls the Death Penalty for Apostates—Perhaps with Worldwide Jurisdiction
Life for so-called apostates in Iran has never been easy, but it could become literally impossible if Iran passes a new draft penal code. For the first time in its history, Iran is considering the death penalty for apostates. In the past, authorities have executed apostates. But punishment by death has never before been set down in law.
The text of the draft penal code uses the word Hadd, which explicitly sets death as a fixed punishment that cannot be changed, reduced or annulled. The rest of the code is little better. By using ill-defined terms, other provisions also open the door to abuse Iran’s already beleaguered religious and ethnic minorities.
Article 225-1 states “Any Muslim who clearly announces that he/she has left Islam and declares blasphemy is an Apostate.” Article 225-2 adds that “Serious and earnest intention is the condition for certainty in apostasy.” So an accused person could claim that he made his statement reluctantly, or ignorantly, or while drunk, or through the slip of a tongue, and he would not be considered an apostate.
The penal code also identifies two types of apostates: innate (Fetri) and parental (Melli). An innate apostate has at least one parent who was a Muslim at conception, who declares himself a Muslim after maturity, then later leaves Islam. Maturity occurs at puberty, usually around 12 or 13. By contrast, both the parents of a parental apostate were non-Muslims at his conception. A parental apostate becomes a Muslim at maturity, then “later leaves Islam and returns to blasphemy.”
The code adds another condition for the parental apostate: anyone who has “at least one Muslim parent at the time of conception but after the age of maturity, without pretending to be a Muslim, chooses blasphemy is considered a Parental Apostate.”
To dispel any confusion over the required punishment for apostasy, the draft code says outright that “punishment for an Innate Apostate is death.” However, parental apostates do receive a slender reprieve: After sentencing, they have three days to recant their beliefs. If not, they will be executed according to their sentence.
Interestingly, the punishment for women is lighter than that for men. Punishment for a woman, whether innate or parental, is life imprisonment with hardship “exercised on her.” If a woman recants, she will be freed immediately. In a side note, the code’s authors said religious laws would determine “the condition of hardship.”
The code would also further erode the rights of minorities such as Bahá’ís or Christians by labeling them apostates. “False prophets”—a term undefined in the code—are to be sentenced to death. Any Muslim who “invents a heresy” or a sect contrary to Islam is also an apostate.
Also worrying for minorities is Article 133-3, which declares that anyone who uses a minor to commit a crime will be punished. As past experience shows, parents of Bahá’í or Christian youth who share their teachings with children other than their own could find this article applies to them. Also, two or more people who get together to commit a felony constitute a group or band. This reference can be used for any organized action by a group of people, including any activity carried out by groups the government considers dangerous, such as Bahá’ís, Christians, or Azeris.
The code’s authors go even further, extending its jurisdiction beyond Iran’s borders to those acting “against the government, the independence and the internal and external security of the country.” The law does not define the term “security.” This means that groups around the world that Iran’s regime consider dangerous could be liable for actions they take outside the country.
Iran already has an abysmal record when it comes to oppressing religious minorities and political dissidents. The current draft penal code only provides more scope to abuse the fundamental rights of Iranians. For anyone who dares question the regime’s religious ideology, there could soon be no room to argue—only death.
Joseph K. Grieboski is the President of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy.
No worries they just need a good talking to. 🙄
Westerners cautioned in Qatar
Sun, 16 Mar 2008 06:33:42
Western embassies in Qatar urge their citizens to be alert after a militant website opposed the opening of the first church in the country.
The British embassy in Qatar said the website flagged the opening on Friday of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Doha, the first of five to be built in the gas-rich state.
The authorities are aware of this and are taking appropriate security measures,” the embassy said on its website, without indicating what the unidentified militant website said.
British citizens should “maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places… you should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations,” it said.
In March 2005, a suicide bombing in Doha killed one Briton and wounded 12 people.
The US embassy in Qatar on Thursday also released a warning that the new Doha church might be a target for attack.
Qatar is a close ally of Washington and hosts the command headquarters for US forces in the Middle East.
The Australian embassy in the United Arab Emirates, which is responsible for affairs in Qatar, said it was aware of the militant website’s reference to the church, which has no bells or crosses on its exterior.
“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Qatar because of the high threat of terrorist attacks,” it claimed on its website.
On a side note: Saudia Arabia does NOT allow Christian churches. Though they fund Mosques and CAIR in the US.