Religious freedom under ‘sustained assault’ around the world according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report.
Citing the Islamic State’s attacks on Christians and other religious minorities, rising attacks against Jews and Muslims in Europe and Beijing’s campaign against churches in China, a new U.S. government report said Monday that attacks on religious freedom have grown measurably around the world over the past year. (Washington Times)
- In China, Pastor Bao Guohua and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, were sentenced in Zhejiang Province in February 2016 to 14 and 12 years in prison, respectively, for leading a Christian congregation that was opposing a government campaign to remove crosses atop churches.
- In Eritrea, where 1,200 to 3,000 people are imprisoned on religious grounds, there reportedly were new arrests this past year.
- In Iran, Shahram Ahadi, a Sunni cleric, was sentenced in October 2015 to death on unfounded security-related charges.
- In North Korea, thousands of religious believers and their families are imprisoned in labor camps, including those forcibly repatriated from China.
- In Saudi Arabia, Ashraf Fayadh, a Saudi poet and artist, was sentenced to death in November 2015 for apostasy, allegedly for spreading atheism. His sentence was changed in February 2016 to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Raif Badawi, founder and editor of the “Free Saudi Liberals” web site, has been imprisoned since 2012 on charges that include “insulting Islam.”
- In Pakistan, Aasia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, has been imprisoned since her arrest in 2009 on blasphemy charges. She remains on death row.
- In Sudan, the government prosecuted 25 Quranists for apostasy and stiffened penalties for both apostasy and blasphemy. The regime prosecutes Christian pastors on trumped-up charges and represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.
- In Vietnam, Rev. Nguyen Trung Ton, a Protestant minister, was detained in December 2015 and joins other prisoners of conscience including Father Nguyen Van Ly, who has spent decades in prison for advocating religious freedom, democracy, and human rights.