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Shariah & Freedom of Religion

After the Egyptian Revolution: The Wars of Religion

March 10, 2011
Cairo, Egypt

The angry, aggressive crowd formed within minutes of my arrival. Dozens of Muslim men, all in ankle-length galabias, came together in the middle of the dusty dirt path leading to the Church of the Two Martyrs in this poor Christian and Muslim village some 130 miles (210 km) south of Cairo. They were determined to block access to what has become a sectarian sore: a church overrun by Muslim locals and desecrated, an act that has prompted desperate national calls to maintain the inter-religious unity forged in Tahrir Square during the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.

"You can't see it!" a group of men screamed. Several women in niqabs, or full-face veils, scurried away, carrying plastic bags of produce. In an armored personnel carrier, several soldiers in red berets watched the fracas from farther up the road. Closer by, at least a dozen soldiers in flak jackets and helmets marched down an adjacent side street, barring anyone from following them.

"You are not allowed to pass," some of the men in galabias yelled at me. "Leave! Leave now!"

"Are you Christian?" another asked.

"What are you going to see?" asked Mahmoud Mohammad, 30, who appeared to be their spokesman. "Destroyed walls and a burned building?" I told him I wanted to reach the church.

"It's not a church," he said, raising his voice. "It is a meeting place, and we don't want a church here," he added before grabbing my notebook, ripping out several pages and forcibly marching me out of the village.


Hindu Peasant Family in Jail of Private Landlord for 13 Years

Pakistan Hindu Post
February 22, 2011
Hyderabad, Pakistan

Muno Bheel belongs to minority (Hindu) community, and had worked on farmlands of influential landlord Abdul Rehman Mari of Jhol in district Sanghar along with his family for years. He is seeking recovery of his family held by landlord as bonded labour and kept in private jail since May 1998. His family was once recovered by police on order of Sindh High Court on petition of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Sindh office in early 1998 but on 2nd May same year the landlord with his armed men raided home of Muno Bheel in village Jam Waryam Memon near Jhudo in Mirpurkhas district and kidnapped 9 members of his family who are missing since then.

Muno Bheel had filed case of kidnapping of his family including his elderly parents,wife, daughters and son at police station Jhudo in Mirpurkhas district wide crime number 35/98 but police took no action to recover the kidnapped peasant family. Since then he has run after post to pillar for recovery of his family and had observed the longest hunger strike in history of Pakistan in front of press club Hyderabad for 1287 days.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chowdhry had taken suo moto action in 2006 and had called to court Sindh chief secretary and Inspector General police, had ordered them to recover family of Muno Bheel yet Muno was still awaiting liberation of his family from private jail of landlord. Chief Justice had appointed DIG of Mirpurkhas division Rana Saleemullah Khan for recovery of Muno Bheel family and when, according to Rana, he was close to a place where this peasant family was kept, he was not only transferred but also suspended by then Sindh chief minister Arbab Rahim for the reason that if police put hands on landlord Mari his government might fall down as the Mari landlord is Khalifa of a politically influential Pir on whose support every successive government in Sindh survives.


Hundreds Protest to Denounce Terrorist Attack on Coptic Christians

The Los Angeles Times
January 2, 2011
Alexandria, Egypt

Hundreds of Egyptians took part in a demonstration Sunday morning to condemn the church explosion that took the lives of 21 Coptic Christians in the coastal city of Alexandria in the early hours of 2011.

In the suburb of Shubra, downtown Cairo, some 500 Muslim and Coptic activists, politicians and other civil society leaders led a protest to show solidarity with the Egyptian Coptic minority and to denounce Saturday's deady assault.

Marchers shouted the slogans, "A Muslim and a Copt hand in hand to create a new dawn," and "Not a police state, not a religious state, we want Egypt to be a secular state," as they carried banners showing the crescent along with the cross, which has been a historical symbol of unity between Egyptian Muslims and Copts.

Protesters were swiftly surrounded by police officers, who feared that clashes might erupt between the protesters and bitter Coptic inhabitants of the area.


Spain Goes on Mosque Building Spree

Hudson New York
December 30, 2010
Barcelona, Spain

The city of Barcelona, widely known as a European Mecca of anti-clerical postmodernism, has agreed to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona says the objective is to increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain, as well as to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."

The Barcelona mosque project is just one of dozens of new mosques that are in various stages of construction across Spain. Overall, there are now thirteen mega-mosques in Spain, and more than 1000 smaller mosques and prayer centers scattered across the country, the majority of which are located in Catalonia in northeastern Spain.

The Muslim building spree reflects the rising influence of Islam in Spain, where the Muslim population has jumped to an estimated 1.5 million in 2010, up from just 100,000 in 1990, thanks to massive immigration. The construction of new mosques comes at a time when municipalities linked to the Socialist Party have closed dozens of Christian churches across Spain by way of new zoning laws that several courts have now ruled discriminatory and unconstitutional. It also comes at a time of growing anti-Semitism in Spain.


Pakistani Christian Woman Falsely Accused of Blasphemy

November 22, 2010
Islamabad, Pakistan

A preliminary investigation shows that a Pakistani Christian woman has been falsely accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed, a government official said Monday.

"The president asked me to investigate her case and my preliminary findings show she is innocent and the charges against her are baseless," Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti told CNN.

Asia Bibi, who has been jailed for nearly 15 months, was convicted in a Pakistani court earlier this month of breaking the country's controversial blasphemy law, a crime punishable with death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan's penal code. She was sentenced to death.

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