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Court in Central India Orders Authorities to Protect Displaced Christians

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India – On November 8, the Bilaspur High Court, located in India’s Chhattisgarh state, ordered the district administration of Kondagaon to facilitate the safe return of Christians displaced from three villages. This order came after 12 Christians filed a Public Interest Litigation with the court pleading for security to provide to displaced Christians.

In late September, Christians from Kakadabeda, Telliabeda, and Singanpur were called to a village meeting and told to recant their Christian faith. When the Christians refused, they were attacked radical Hindu nationalists and their homes were destroyed. Since the attack, these Christians have remained displaced.

“We ran for our lives,” Vijay Sori, a survivor of the September attack, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “The death threat they hurled against us were very frightening. There was no other way than to flee from the village.”

“Our lives are in danger as the villagers have vowed to kill us if we return,” Sori continued. “Our lives are being badly affected with the dangerous atmosphere created by the villagers.”

On October 14, 12 Christians, including Sori, petitioned the Bilaspur High Court to provide protection to the Christians displaced by the September attack. On November 8, the court agreed with the Christian petitioners and ordered the district administration of Kondagaon to provide protection to the displaced Christians as they returned to their home villages.

“We want the freedom to worship and a safe atmosphere,” Sori told ICC. “We don’t trouble anyone and no one should trouble us. That’s why we have been pleading in the court and with the authorities.”

“I hope the local authorities will follow the directions of the court,” Sori continued. “I hope that the situation will improve and we will be able to go back to our homes without any fear.”

The Christians of Kakadabeda, Telliabeda, and Singanpur were displaced for nearly one and a half months. According to local Christians, little has been done by local authorities to bring the nationalists responsible for the attack to justice and four Christians remain imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.
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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