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July 19, 2005

Persecution of Christians around the world

In Indonesia:

The charges against Dr. Rebecca Laonita, Ratna Mala Bangun and Ety Pangesti stem from the women’s involvement in a children’s holiday initiative called “Happy Week” in Haurgelis, West Java. Their trial, which commenced on June 30, is set to continue for several more weeks and has attracted considerable national attention. If convicted the women face jail sentences of up to five years.

“For three women to be arrested, detained and charged for simply organizing a children’s holiday club in good faith illustrates how serious the situation for Christians in Indonesia is becoming,” stated Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director for UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “CSW urges the British government to raise this case with the Indonesian government.”

According to CSW, the case of “Christianization” was brought against the women by the local chapter of the Indonesian Council of Muslim Clerics (MUI) who alleged that the women enticed Muslim children to participate in the camp and that they tried to convert the children to Christianity by giving them gifts.

Although the camp was organized for local Christian children, it also welcomed Muslim children with parental consent and supervision.

Indonesia is a member of the United Nation's Commission on Human Rights.

In Uzbekistan:

As part of a “violent religious crackdown” that started the day after the May 12-13 crisis in Andijan, authorities have been confiscating Bibles and other Christian literature as they try to rid the land of “destabilizing, politically activist Islamist literature,” reported the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) in a prayer bulletin released last Wednesday.

“Whilst Uzbekistan's government is 'democratic,' it still uses Soviet-style corruption and repression to shore up elites and keep its grip on power,” the RLC stated in the July 13 statement.

“The government has also adopted harsh measures to counter the Islamist threat,” it continued. “Unfortunately these measures also affect the Protestant Christian minority.”

In 1998, Uzbekistan revised its religion laws and became one of the world's worst religious liberty abusers.

Although Uzbekistan released several Christian pastors imprisoned on false charges in August 1999, the RLC noted that the decision was due to international pressure, in particular from the United States through its Freedom from Religious Persecution Act, which links aid and trade to religious liberty.

The former Soviet state Uzbekistan, is over 90 percent Muslim. It has a lot of Islamic history and identity, and its capital, Tashkent, is the considered the Islamic stronghold of Central Asia. To make matters worse, the Ferghana Valley is home to a growing number of Wahhabi Islamists and militants. No wonder Liberals seem so reticent to criticize Islamic Extremists.

Posted by Danny Carlton at July 19, 2005 09:34 AM

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