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Morocco cracking down on Christian faith, arresting believers

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Authorities in the Sunni Muslim-majority country of Morocco appear to be targeting Christian converts as have been arrested up to three times a week and subjected to harassment, according to a Catholic charity.

Converts to Christianity have been repeatedly arrested by police as part of a campaign clamping down on the faith, Aid to the Church in Need reported, quoting Jawad Elhamidy, president of the Moroccan Association of Rights and Religious Liberties.

“The penal code holds that all Moroccans are Muslims, so those who convert to Christianity face legal problems, besides threats to their security,” Elhamidy said.

Of the 34.6 million people in Morocco, between 8,000 and 25,000 are estimated to be indigenous Moroccan Christians, according to the charity.

It is also estimated that about 30,000 foreign residents are Catholic and 10,000 are Protestant, but they are generally allowed to worship freely if they do not evangelize.

Evangelism or converting to another religion is a criminal offense punishable by between six months and three years in prison. Moroccan law criminalizes “shaking the faith of a Muslim,” which means that Christians who talk to others about their faith risk criminal charges and arrest, according to the Christian ministry Open Doors.

“If a Moroccan enters a church, one of two things can happen – either a policeman sitting in front of the church arrests him or her, or the cleric in charge of the church asks the person to leave, unless the purpose is tourism,” Elhamidy said. “Moroccan Christians worship in secret house churches to avoid state sanctions or harassment from society.”

To ensure Moroccans are not attending services, expatriate churches are monitored intensely, Open Doors says, adding that foreigners accused of sharing the Gospel in Morocco have been deported.

Apart from law, Christians from Muslim backgrounds face pressure also from their families and communities, especially in rural areas, so they may be forced to keep their faith a secret. Converts to Christianity can lose inheritance rights and custody of children.

Other restrictions imposed by Islamic authorities include the confiscation of Christian literature in Arabic (including Bibles) and serious challenges in securing places of worship for Christians with a Muslim background.

Open Doors adds that Islamic extremists are also a threat, as advocates for the rights of Christians have been targeted for violent attacks in this parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

In 2018, a newly married Christian couple, Loubna and her husband Kamal, faced threats from the local community in their hometown. Their marriage could be considered invalid, while “fornication” is punishable under the country’s penal code.

“We want to be treated on an equal footing with Moroccan Jews,” Chouaib El Fatihi, coordinator of the Christian committee at the Moroccan association for religious rights and freedoms, said at the time. “We want to be recognized as Moroccan Christian citizens and to enjoy the right to legal marriages and burial ceremonies according to our religion.”
Sources: Christian Post

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2024 റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പ്രസിഡന്റ് സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്ഥി ട്രമ്പായിരിക്കുമെന്ന് മിറ്റ്‌റോംനി

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യുട്ട: 2024 ലെ പ്രസിഡന്റ് തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പില്‍ ട്രമ്പ് മത്സരിക്കുന്നതിന് തീരുമാനിച്ചാല്‍ റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്ഥിത്വം ട്രമ്പിനു തന്നെയായിരിക്കുമെന്ന് യുട്ടയില്‍ നിന്നുള്ള സെനറ്റര്‍ മിറ്റ് റോംമ്‌നി. ട്രമ്പിന്റെ വിമര്‍ശകനായ റോംനിയുടെ പ്രവചനം അക്ഷരാര്‍ത്ഥത്തില്‍ റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയെപോലും ഞെട്ടിച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്. അടുത്ത നാലുവര്‍ഷം ട്രമ്പ് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയില്‍ സുപ്രധാന പങ്കു വഹിക്കുമെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം കൂട്ടിച്ചേര്‍ത്തു.

ഫെബ്രുവരി 23 ചൊവ്വാഴ്ച ന്യൂയോര്‍ക്ക് ടൈംസ്ഡീന്‍ബുക്ക് വെര്‍ച്വല്‍ അഭിമുഖത്തിലാണ് മീററ് റോംനി തന്റെ അഭിപ്രായം അസന്നിഗ്ദമായി രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിയത്.
2024 ലെ തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പില്‍ ട്രമ്പ് മത്സരിക്കുമോ എന്നെനിക്കറിയില്ല. മത്സരിക്കാന്‍ തീരുമാനിച്ചാല്‍ അദ്ദേഹമായിരിക്കും റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്ഥിയെന്ന് നിസംശയമായി രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിയത്.

2020- 2024 വര്‍ഷങ്ങളില്‍ എന്തുസംഭവിക്കുമെന്നും എനിക്കറിയില്ല. എന്നാല്‍ ട്രമ്പിനെ പിന്തുണക്കുന്ന വലിയൊരു വിഭാഗം ആളുകള്‍ ഇന്നും റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയിലുണ്ടെന്നത് പരമാര്‍ത്ഥമെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം കൂട്ടിചേര്‍ത്തു.

ട്രമ്പിന്റെ കടുത്ത എതിരാളിയും, ട്രമ്പിന്റെ ആദ്യ ഇംപീച്ച്‌മെന്റ് ട്രയലില്‍ ട്രമ്പ് കുറ്റക്കാരനാണെന്ന് വാദിച്ച ഡമോക്രാറ്റില്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിക്കൊപ്പം വോട്ടുചെയ്ത ഏക റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സെനറ്ററുമാണ് മിറ്റ് റോംനി. രണ്ടാമത് ഇംപീച്ച്‌മെന്റ് ട്രയലില്‍ വീണ്ടും മിറ്റ് റോംനി ട്രമ്പിനെതിരെ വോട്ടു ചെയ്‌തെങ്കിലും മറ്റ് ആറ് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സെനറ്റര്‍മാര്‍ കൂടി റോംനിക്കൊപ്പം ചേര്‍ന്നിരുന്നു റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയിലെ മുതിര്‍ന്ന നേതാക്കള്‍ ഇതിനകം തന്നെ ട്രമ്പിനെതിരെയുള്ള വിമര്‍ശനകള്‍ക്ക് മയം വരുത്തിയിരുന്നു.
Source:Nerkazhcha

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Nigerian Authorities Searching For 317 Schoolgirls Kidnapped By ‘Armed Bandits’

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Nigerian authorities are searching for hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by gunmen in a raid early Friday morning, according to police in the northwestern state of Zamfara.

Police Commissioner Abutu Yaro told reporters that 317 girls had been kidnapped from Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe, according to its principal. He said that efforts to trace the kidnappers and retrieve the students are underway and that authorities were looking into information that they had been moved to neighboring forests.

“All of us are angry, and all of us are sad,” he said. “Despite that we need to have a coordinated response in order to [save lives] and bring the children back home.”

Yaro emphasized the importance of exercising caution and care, and urged people to remain calm. According to local media reports, scores of residents incensed by the abduction stormed the streets of Jangebe, creating roadblocks and using sticks and stones to attack vehicles carrying journalists to the school. A cameraman was injured in the process.

Citing a police spokesperson, Nigerian newspaper Punch reported that Zamfara State Police Command is working with the military to conduct joint search and rescue operations for the students, who he said were kidnapped by “armed bandits.”

An unnamed school staff member told the newspaper that the gunmen — some wearing uniforms and pretending to be security personnel — arrived at the school with pickup trucks and motorcycles around 1 a.m. on Friday then “broke into the students’ hostels” and “forcefully evacuated” them.

“When they came into the school, we thought they were security personnel, but to our utmost fear and dismay, they started putting the girls into Hilux vehicles and motorcycles then drove out of the school,” the staff member said.

The armed kidnappers fired sporadically during the raid, Zamfara’s information minister told Reuters.

It’s the latest in a string of abductions in northern Nigeria and comes just over a week after gunmen kidnapped 42 people at a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger in an attack that left one student dead. In December, the northwestern state of Katsina saw two mass kidnappings eight days apart.

In a statement issued Friday condemning the attack, UNICEF’s Nigeria representative Peter Hawkins acknowledged the Nigerian government’s efforts to secure the kidnapped students’ release and called on it “and all concerned” to make schools safer.

“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through — one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being,” he said.

Amnesty International called the abduction a “serious violation of international humanitarian law” that undermines the right to education for thousands of students in the region. It said the abducted students are at “serious risk of being harmed” and called on authorities to take all measures to ensure the girls’ safe return, along with that of all students still in the custody of armed groups.

Most notoriously, some 100 of the more than 270 schoolgirls abducted by militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014 are still missing.

“Education is under attack in northern Nigeria,” Amnesty International tweeted. “Schools should be places of safety, and no child should have to choose between their education and their life. Other children have had to abandon their education after being displaced by frequent violent attacks on their communities.”

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