Persecution Updates: Canada, Egypt, Iran

I’ve been remiss in sharing the past few stories I wrote for about the persecuted. So here they are:

Canada contemplates closing its Office of Religious Freedom

Groups representing Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others are urging Canada’s new Liberal government to renew the country’s Office of Religious Freedom and the position of ambassador for religious freedom, which is set to expire at the end of March.

Andrew Bennett, a Catholic professor, has served as the country’s ambassador for religious freedom since its inception in 2013. His tenure was set to expire on Feb. 18, but Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion extended it to March 31, according to National Post.

That gives the government time to weigh “how best to preserve and protect all human rights, including the vital freedom of religion or belief,” said Dion, one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet ministers.

Keep reading at WORLD.

Egyptian army begins restoring churches damaged in 2013 uprising

Coptic leaders in Egypt are praising a new government effort to restore churches destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood nearly three years ago. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, then defense minister, promised the Armed Forces would fix them, but many remain in ruins.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi vandalized, looted, and burned dozens of churches, Christian businesses, and homes after his ouster in August 2013, according to Watani International. Al-Sisi led that coup and assumed the presidency, but Christians bore part of the blame because many supported him.

Continue reading…

‘Historic’ Muslim gathering calls for protection of religious minorities

About 300 Muslim scholars, imams, and government representatives recently gathered in Morocco to call for the protection of religious minorities in the Muslim world. A small delegation of non-Muslims, including Jews, Christians, Yazidis, and Buddhists, also attended.

“Enough bloodshed. We are heading to annihilation. It is time for cooperation,” said co-organizer Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslims Societies.

The January conference hosted by the King of Morocco resulted in the Marrakesh Declaration, promoting ideas of “freedom of movement, property ownership, mutual solidarity, and defense” and “principles of justice and equality before the law.”

Continue reading …

Prisoner release puts Iran’s human rights abuses, persecution in spotlight

Although Iran freed Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other Americans in a recent prisoner swap, Christians and religious minorities in the Islamic republic remain under threat, surveillance, or imprisonment.

Iran ranked ninth on the World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country “continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused,” according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Get the whole story at WORLD.

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