Liberty Briefs

M. H. Ogilvie January/February 2002 Indonesia: Protesters Demand Islamic Law Hundreds of protesters in Jakarta staged a demonstration calling for the Islamic Sharia law to be imposed on the country’s 212 million inhabitants, according to a British Broadcasting Corporation report. Indonesia is 83 percent Muslim and 7 percent Christian.
Nigeria: Former Ruler Calls for Imposition of Islamic Law Muhammadu Buhari, who ruled Nigeria from 1983 to 1985 after a military coup, has called for Sharia law to be imposed on the 123 million population, of which at least 40 percent are Christian. An Agence-France-Presse report quotes Buhari as saying, “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” In February up to 3,000 people were killed in riots when Sharia was imposed in the state of Kaduna.

World’s Worst Violators of Religious Freedom
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has said that the world’s worst violators of religious freedom are: Myanmar, China, Iran, Iraq, Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan. The commission cited many atrocities carried out in violation of religious freedom; singling out Afghanistan as a “particularly severe violator.”

Saudi Arabia: Christians Imprisoned The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior has arrested and imprisoned many more Christians in recent months, according to International Christian Concern. Often held in solitary confinement and subjected to intense pressure to implicate others, these Christian believers and their families are experiencing severe violations of religious freedom.

Government to Shut Down Salvation Army in Moscow
A Russian court decided September 11 to shut down the Salvation Army in Moscow. The Salvation Army is accused of being a dangerous anti-Russian military organization.

Malaysia: Arson Attack on Christian Community Center The Marthoma Christian Community Center in Sungei Patani, a city about 190 miles northwest of Kuala Lumpur, was set ablaze by suspected Muslim extremists, reports Compass Direct. Police told church authorities that they believe members of the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM, or Kumpulan Militan Malaysia) were responsible for the fire. The KMM, an extremist Muslim jihad group whose members were reportedly trained in Afghanistan, have been accused of numerous armed robberies, an attack on a police station, the murder of a prominent politician, and fire bombings of another church and a Hindu temple, according to Compass.

India: Remarks “Condone Hate Campaign” Against Christians The reported remarks by the Indian prime minister that Christians are trying to convert Hindus in the guise of providing humanitarian services have brought a sharp protest from the All-India Christian Council. “Remarks such as the prime minister’s are seen as condoning the hate campaign and the canards, lies and half-truths that are being spread in many parts of the country. They encourage communal and extremist elements to greater frenzy. Above all, they directly goad hatemongers to curtail Christian social inputs in education, health, and the uplift of marginalized segments, particularly the Dalits,” says Dr. Joseph D. Souza, president of the All-India Christian Council, in a press release.

Vietnam: Pastor Arrested for Defending Religious Freedom A pastor who is well known for defending religious freedom in Vietnam has been arrested and beaten. Nguyen Hong Quang, a Mennonite pastor, his wife, and another man are now in prison and on a hunger strike, reports Compass Direct. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom identifies Vietnam as one of the world’s worst persecutors and a country where “grave violations of religious freedom persist.”

Aid Workers Imprisoned in Afghanistan
Charges of preaching Christianiy were enough reason for Afghanistan’s Taliban government to arrest eight foreign aid workers (including two Americans) and sixteen Afghan employees. When the parents of the two American women met with them August 27, they were well and in good spirits. The regime was doubtless trying to prove a point to international aid workers–a point doubly troubling to the outside world in the days following the September 11 incidents in New York and Washington, D.C., and charges that the Taliban regime may have been harboring terrorists. The real tragedy of these arrests is in the fate of the Afghan nationals. The penalty for the foreigners, if convicted, is three to 10 days in jail and expulsion. The penalty for an Afghan who converts to Christianity is death. –Associated Press report in The Washington Post, August 28, 2001

Shortly after Kabul fell, Northern Alliance forces rescued all eight foreign aid workers. -Editor

Article Author: M. H. Ogilvie