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Christian Group Calls for Release of 24 Christian Prisoners Accused of Blasphemy

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Pakistan– According to Asia News, the National Christian Party protested in front of the Press Club in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 18, demanding the release of 24 Christian prisoners accused of blasphemy. They also spoke out against the kidnapping of minority girls and their forced conversions to Islam.

The leader of the National Christian Party, Shabir Shafqat, said, “This protest is a slap on the faces of all those leaders who are seated abroad and do politics and speak for the rights of the Christian minority in Pakistan, but they do not raise these issues.”

Shafqat went on to demand that the 24 Christian prisoners be released as the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan continues to get worse. Shafqat went on to point out that other prisoners in Pakistan have been released in response to the pandemic, but no mercy has been shown towards minorities.

Prisoners around the world called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty during the COVID-19 crisis. Also, Pakistani non-governmental organization, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, called to all countries to put a stop to execution during the COVID-19 because it is impossible to hold fair trials or guarantee legal representation.
Sources:Persecution

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UAE suspends visa-free travel agreement with Israel until July

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The United Arab Emirates has suspended an agreement to inaugurate visa-free travel for Israelis to the Gulf country until July 1, citing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

Until then, Israeli citizens seeking to travel to the UAE will need to obtain a visa, as will UAE citizens seeking to travel to Israel, the ministry said on Monday. The UAE has taken a similar step regarding travel from most European countries, as well as India and Pakistan, the Israeli ministry said.

Israel is in its third lockdown and discussing the possibility of extending it beyond Jan. 21 as the number of new cases remains high.

The UAE ratified the agreement on visa-free travel with Israel last week and it was set to go into effect 30 days from then. The agreement follows a normalization accord between the countries signed in September.

The announcement of the suspension comes a day after Israel’s cabinet voted to require all people returning from the UAE and Brazil to quarantine in government-run hotels. A similar decision made previously regarding travelers returning from South Africa and Zambia was extended for 10 days.

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Christian Group in India Documents 327 Incidents of Persecution in 2020

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India – According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), Indian Christians endured at least 327 incidents of persecution in 2020. This was despite the fact that most of India’s population lived under locked down conditions for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to EFI, 327 cases of persecution were documented in 2020. At least five Christians were murdered and six churches were burnt or demolished in religiously motivated attacks. In addition, EFI noted 26 incidents of social boycotts where Christian communities were shunned by their non-Christian neighbors due to their religious identity.

EFI’s report documents the continuation of an ongoing trend of growing religious intolerance and violence in India. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took political power in 2014, incidents of Christian persecution documented by EFI have more than doubled. In 2014, the year the BJP rose to political power, EFI recorded 147 violent attacks on Indian Christians. In 2019, after five years of BJP rule, EFI recorded 366 violent attacks.

The incidents documented by EFI likely represent only a portion of the violence experienced by India’s Christian community. Most incidents go unreported due to fear of reprisal and lack of confidence in India’s justice system.
Sources:persecution

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