Did you know that Muslims in nearly all Islamic controlled countries are forbidden from hearing the Gospel of Jesus?
These countries stand out in their repression of other religions while their laws, constitutions or practices favor Islam. While some of these countries' constitutions state they support religious freedom, their practices and laws do not support this freedom. Additionally, there are Islamic laws which make it nearly impossible for Muslims to change their religion.
It's obvious, if you take the time to study these countries, they suppress Christians and other religions and hold Muslim in bondage to Islam. No other religion poses these oppressive religious restrictions as does Islamic law.
Watch the video of Muslim scholar, Dr. Zakir Naik, explain why churches can't be built in Islamic lands. In the Quran, there are several versus like verse 3.85 where it is mentioned that Allah will never accept any religion other than Islam.
Muslims in the West who try to convince us Islam is only a religion of peace and freedom are hard pressed when confronted about the realities in Islamic countries. The actions of these countries speak louder than any words.
Islamic Countries are summarized below and those highlighted in red have Islam as the state religion and/or have Sharia Law.
Arab League Countries:
Algeria: The Constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits institutions from engaging in behavior incompatible with Islamic morality.
- Articles 5 through 11 of Ordinance 06-03 outline enforceable restrictions which stipulate that all structures intended for the exercise of religious worship must be registered by the state.
- proselytizing is made a criminal offense.
- Under both Shari'a and civil law, children born to a Muslim father are Muslim, regardless of the mother's religion.
- The Government requires established religious groups to obtain official recognition prior to conducting any religious activity.
VOM: Social pressures have often led Christian girls to marry Muslims, and some believers are withdrawing from fellowship due to intimidation from family, friends, and Muslim extremists.
- In March 2006, the Algerian National Assembly passed a presidential order that requires all non-Muslim groups to register and be officially approved by the government in order to operate.
- Many church activities are now considered illegal if they can be construed as being something that could "shake the faith of a Muslim." Punishments could include the confiscation of property, fines and imprisonment for up to five years.
- 2 reports of Christians persecution in 2007
Bahrain: The Constitution states that Islam is the official religion and that Shari'a (Islamic law) is a principal source for legislation.
- Holding a religious meeting without a permit is illegal.
Comoros: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government continued to limit this right in practice. While the Constitution does not proclaim Islam as the official religion, it states that citizens will draw principles and rules that will govern the country from Islamic religious tenets.
- While the law allows non-Muslims to practice their religion, it prohibits citizens from converting from Islam.
- Government authorities continue to prohibit non-Muslims from proselytizing.
- There is societal discrimination against non-Muslims, particularly Christians, in some sectors of society. All citizens face societal pressure to practice elements of Islam, particularly during the month of Ramadan.
Djibouti: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however proselytizing was discouraged. Islam is the state religion.
Although Islam is the state religion, the Government imposes no sanctions on those who choose to ignore Islamic teachings or to practice other faiths. The Government maintains diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
Muslims are required to marry in a religious ceremony, and a non-Muslim man may marry a Muslim woman only after converting to Islam.
The relationship among religious groups in society contributed to religious freedom; however, representatives of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches, as well as some NGOs, noted an increase in animosity towards non-Muslims in recent years. There were several reports of school children throwing rocks at churches.
There is no formal interfaith dialogue between the government and religious groups, or between various religious groups themselves.
Egypt: The Constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of religious rites, although the Government places restrictions on these rights in practice. Islam is the official state religion and Shari'a (Islamic law) is the primary source of legislation; religious practices that conflict with the Government's interpretation of Shari'a are prohibited.
- The contemporary interpretation of the 1856 Ottoman Hamayouni decree, partially still in force, requires non-Muslims to obtain a presidential decree to build new churches and synagogues.
- On April 24, 2007, the Court of Administrative Justice ruled that the Interior Ministry was not obligated to recognize conversion to Christianity by Christian-born converts to Islam.
- On May 11, 2007, a group of Muslim citizens attacked Christians in the village of Bamha. In the ensuing violence, Muslims reportedly set fire to or looted 27 shops and homes of Christians and injured 12 Christians, 1 seriously. The police responded quickly to contain the incident and arrested approximately 60 people.
The country was conquered by the 2nd Islamic caliphate Umar ibn al-Khattab (Princeton University. Prior to this Egypt was a predominately Christian country. Egypt has the Middle East's largest Christian community around 10%.
Persecutions of Christians is an ongoing problem in Egypt, go to Voice of the Martyrs for a recent list.
Human Right's Watch: Egyptian security forces prevented demonstrators from holding a peaceful protest in Cairo’s Saida Zeinab Square on January 17, arbitrarily detaining 30 demonstrators, Human Rights Watch said today. The protest against cuts in government subsidies was scheduled to take place the day after a visit by US President George W. Bush, who praised Egypt’s “vibrant civil society.”
Iraq: Iraq is a constitutional democracy with a republican, federal, pluralistic system of government, consisting of 18 provinces or "governorates." Although the Constitution recognizes Islam as the official religion and states that no law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam, it also guarantees freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice.
Religious groups are required to register with the Government. To register, a group must have a minimum of 500 adherents in the country. According to the Christian and Other Religions Endowment, no reliable information was available on the number of foreign missionaries operating in the country.
- ***January 15, 2008 Press Release- the Assyrian Universal Alliance– Australian Chapter condemns the attacks perpetrated recently against the Christian churches in the cities of Mosul, Baghdad and Kirkuk which came as part of the ongoing campaign to terrorize and intimidate the Christians in general to accelerate their exodus from their place of origin.
Despite the presence of the Iraqi security and the coalition forces, what is happening today in Iraq against Christians include: attacks on churches and monasteries; murder; torture; looting and seizing properties by force; kidnapping; forced Islamisation; extortion; and forcing peaceful citizens to leave their homes, is taking us back in time to the years that followed the Arab invasion of Mesopotamia forcing the Assyrian citizens to convert to Islam. These crimes remind us of the Assyrian genocide of World War 1, and the massacres in the district of Semiel in 1933 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; Soriya village in 1969.
Further, it reminds us of the displacement, destruction and burning of villages and towns in the Assyrian historical homeland in northern Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1988 (repeated recently in different circumstances) supported by the silence of a majority of the International and Iraqi government media purposely concealing such crimes.
The continuation of such criminal operations followed by the horror stories and tragedies of refugees, the homeless living in a very harsh conditions, the inadequate protection and implementation of the law lead us to blame the Iraqi government for softening its campaign against the terrorists, who are systematically trying to annihilate the Christians in Iraq. We are confident that these attempts by the terrorists will not succeed.The fire will burn those who set it and the indigenous people of Iraq will continue to exist in their homeland. This is the lesson that we have learned throughout the seven thousand year old of the Assyrian history.
We in the Assyrian Universal Alliance are tired of the continued appalling conditions imposed on the Christians of Iraq and demand the Iraqi government take a firm stand in tracing the culprits who attacked Christian sanctuaries, families and properties and bring them to justice.
We appeal to all democratic world governments, Human Right organisations and the World Council of Churches to follow what is happening to the Christians of Iraq, to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to hunt down and punish the terrorists and to support the just demands of the Assyrians by granting them autonomy in their respective geographical regions in the territory of Assyria (northern Iraq). The establishment of such a zone will be of great importance as provide greater local Assyrian control and maintain security and the survival of the Christians in Iraq . Moreover, it will allow opportunity for Assyrians to exercise their political, educational, linguistic, religious and cultural rights.
Dec. 14, 07
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA -- Christians are being "wiped out" in Iraq, and Canadian Catholics need to respond to this crisis the way they did to the Vietnamese boat people 30 years ago.
That was the view of some Catholic charity representatives who attended a November 29 workshop on the Iraq refugee catastrophe. The Iraq war has created the largest displaced population in the world today, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Read more
Jordan: The Constitution provides for the freedom to practice the rites of one's religion and faith in accordance with the customs that are observed in the Kingdom, unless they violate public order or morality. The state religion is Islam.
- The Government prohibits conversion from Islam and proselytizing of Muslims.
Kuwait: The Constitution states that Islam is the state religion and that Shari'a (Islamic law) is a main source of legislation.
VOM: Kuwait is the only gulf nation to hold legislative elections, but the real power has been held by the al-Sabath family for the last two centuries.
- Christians are able to generally worship freely within the physical confines of the Christian community. Public gatherings elsewhere are restricted and evangelizing Kuwaitis is forbidden.
- Only Muslims may become citizens and those who claim to be Muslims are given financial incentives, discouraging people from becoming Christians.
Lebanon: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the freedom to practice all religious rites provided that the public order is not disturbed. The Constitution declares equality of rights and duties for all citizens without discrimination or preference but establishes a balance of power among the major religious groups. The Government generally respected these rights; however, there were some restrictions, and the constitutional provision for apportioning political offices according to religious affiliation may be viewed as inherently discriminatory.
VOM: After sixteen years of civil war between Christian and Muslim elements ended in 1991, there has been considerable rebuilding. However, the tension between the groups continues and predominantly Christian villages have been the targets of Islamic guerrilla groups.
- Article 473 of the Penal Code does stipulate that one who "blasphemes God publicly" will face imprisonment for up to a year. The major danger faced by Christians in Lebanon is from militant elements within the populace.
- In November 2002, an American missionary, Bonnie Weatherall, 31, was shot and killed at a Christian medical clinic. The clinic had previously received threats because of their attempts to convert Muslims.
- On May 6, 2003, a Jordanian convert from Islam was killed while attempting to diffuse a bomb planted at the home of a missionary couple in a suburb of Tripoli. Authorities believe the bombing was related to their missionary activities in the country
Libya: The country does not have a constitution, and there is no explicit legal provision for religious freedom. However, a basis for some degree of religious freedom is provided in the Great Green Charter on Human Rights of the Jamahiriya Era, and the Government generally respected the right to freely observe one's religion in practice. The Government tolerates most minority religions but strongly opposes militant forms of Islam, which it views as a threat, and prohibits the proselytizing of Muslims.
- Religious practices that conflict with the Government's interpretation of Shari'a are prohibited.
Mauritania: The 1991 Constitution establishes the country as an Islamic republic and recognizes Islam as the religion of its citizens and the state. However, a military junta took power in August 2005, overthrew the elected president, dissolved Parliament, suspended parts of the Constitution, and formed a transitional government. On April 19, 2007, the junta and transitional government returned control to a democratically elected president in free and fair elections.
- both governments limited freedom of religion by prohibiting the distribution of non-Islamic religious materials and the proselytization of Muslims.
- In May 2006 the transitional government arrested six Ghanaian, Guinean, and Nigerian Protestant pastors in Nouakchott, seized their religious materials, and padlocked their unauthorized churches which were run in private houses. Police released the pastors within 24 hours and told them that their churches were illegal and would remain closed. Officials ordered the pastors to cease all future religious meetings, and their churches remained closed at the end of the reporting period. Several weeks earlier, national security forces briefly detained three Christian citizens for allegedly proselytizing.
Shari'a provides the legal principles upon which the country's law and legal procedure are based. The testimony of two women is necessary to equal that of one man. In addition, in awarding an indemnity to the family of a woman who has been killed, the courts grant only half the amount that they would award for a man's death. For commercial and other issues not addressed specifically by Shari'a, the law and courts treat women and men equally.
Morocco: The Constitution provides for the freedom to practice one's religion. Islam is the official state religion and the King is Commander of the faithful and the Supreme Representative of the Muslim community. Non-Muslim foreign communities openly practice their faiths.
The Basic Law, in accordance with tradition, declares that Islam is the state religion and that Shari'a is the source of legislation. It also prohibits discrimination based on religion and provides for the freedom to practice religious rites as long as doing so does not disrupt public order. The Government generally respected this right, but within defined parameters that placed limitations on the right in practice.
Oman: The Basic Law, in accordance with tradition, declares that Islam is the state religion and that Shari'a is the source of legislation. It also prohibits discrimination based on religion and provides for the freedom to practice religious rites as long as doing so does not disrupt public order. The Government generally respected this right, but within defined parameters that placed limitations on the right in practice.
VOM: Freedom of expression is very limited in Oman, with state control of all media and government approval is required for all public assemblies.
- Islam is the state religion; the Christian population (2.5 percent) is almost entirely foreign workers, with perhaps no more than twenty indigenous believers.
- Churches and Christian activities are permitted for the foreign workers, but converting Muslims to Christianity is forbidden.
Qatar: The Constitution, as well as certain laws, provide for freedom of association, public assembly, and worship in accordance with the requirements of public order and morality. The state religion is Islam.
- The law prohibits proselytizing by non-Muslims and places some restrictions on public worship.
- The Government has granted legal status to Catholic, Anglican, Greek and other Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, and Indian Christian churches. It maintains an official register of approved religious groups.
- Both Muslims and non-Muslims are tried under the unified court system, incorporating both secular law and Shari'a (Islamic law). Convicted Muslims may earn a sentence reduction of a few months by memorizing the Qur'an.
Converting to another religion from Islam is considered apostasy and is technically a capital offense; however, since the country gained independence in 1971, there has been no recorded execution or other punishment for such an act.
According to the Criminal Code, individuals caught proselytizing on behalf of an organization, society, or foundation, for any religion other than Islam, may be sentenced to a prison term of up to 10 years.
Saudi Arabia: The birthplace of Islam. It is a monarchy with a legal system based on its interpretation of Shari'a (Islamic law). Islam is the official religion. There is no legal recognition of, or protection under the law for, freedom of religion, and it is severely restricted in practice. The Government confirmed that as a matter of public policy it guarantees and protects the right to private worship for all, including non-Muslims who gather in homes for religious services. However, this right was not always respected in practice and is not defined in law. Moreover, the public practice of non-Muslim religions is prohibited. While the Government also confirmed its policy to protect the right to possess and use personal religious materials, it did not provide for this right in law.
In November 2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice redesignated Saudi Arabia as a Country of Particular Concern, and the Government was issued a waiver of sanctions "to further the purposes of the Act."
As custodian of Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, the Government considers its legitimacy to rest largely on its interpretation and enforcement of Islam, which is based on the writings and teachings of 18th-century Sunni religious scholar Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab.
Non-Muslims and Muslims whose beliefs do not adhere to the government-approved interpretation of Islam must practice their religion in private and are vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, detention, and if a non-citizen, deportation.
Proselytizing by non-Muslims is illegal, and conversion by Muslims to another religion (apostasy) carries the death penalty, although there have been no reported executions for apostasy in years.
In accordance with the country's official interpretation of Islam, it is considered acceptable to discriminate against religions held to be polytheistic. Christians and Jews, who are classified as "People of the Book," are also discriminated against, but to a lesser extent. This discrimination is manifested, for example, in calculating accidental death or injury compensation. For example, according to the country's interpretation of Shari'a, in the event a court renders a judgment in favor of a plaintiff who is a Jewish or Christian male, the plaintiff is only entitled to receive 50 percent of the compensation a Muslim male would receive, and all others (including Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs) are only entitled to receive 1/16 the amount a male Muslim would receive.
The Government recognizes all four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence and the Shi'a Ja'afari school of jurisprudence. However, while government universities provide training on the other Sunni schools, they focus on the Hanbali school. Consequently, most judges adhere to the Hanbali school, which is considered the most conservative of the Sunni schools.
Public religious practice is generally limited to that which conforms to the teachings of the 18th-century Sunni religious scholar Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab.
The Government officially did not permit non-Muslim clergy to enter the country to conduct religious services, although some did so under other auspices, and the Government generally allowed their performance of discreet religious functions.
A number of people were detained for nonpublic, non-Muslim worship. Others were abused while in mutawwa'in custody. Some were likely surveilled both prior to their arrest and subsequent to their release. In yet other cases, the mutawwa'in failed to comply with the requirement that they have a police escort during investigations and arrests. There were several incidents where mutawwa'in entered private homes and confiscated personal religious materials, which were not returned to the owners, although such items are supposedly not considered contraband. The fear of surveillance and targeting of leaders and organizers of non-Sunni religious groups, the fear of arbitrary detention for religious reasons, and the fear of abuse while in mutawwa'in custody deterred some non-Sunnis from gathering in any significant numbers to hold private worship services.
Women, and especially foreign women, were frequently harassed by the mutawwa'in for failure to observe strict dress codes, particularly failure to wear headscarves. Mutawwa'in enforcement of strict standards of social behavior included closing commercial establishments during the five daily prayer observances and detaining men and women found together who were not related.
During the reporting period, some textbooks containing prejudicial religious statements were revised somewhat to remove content disparaging of religious groups other than Islam. However, many books reportedly retained language that was intolerant of Jewish, Christian, and Shi'a religious beliefs and espoused hatred of other religious traditions, especially Christianity and Judaism. There were also reports in Al-Ahsa and Qatif of prejudicial questions on exams and reports that some teachers continued to use anti-Shi'a rhetoric, such as calling Shi'a students infidels or polytheists.
During the reporting period, there continued to be instances in which Sunni imams, who are paid government stipends, used anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, and anti-Shi'a language in their sermons. Although this language declined in frequency after the Government began encouraging moderation following the 2003 terror attacks, there continued to be instances in which mosque speakers prayed for the death of Jews and Christians, including from the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
1/21/08: Saudi lifts ban against women drivers.
RIYADH (AFP) — Two Saudis convicted of murder and a Yemeni found guilty of drug trafficking were beheaded by the sword in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the interior ministry announced.
It said Hassan al-Muhaissen and Abderrazak al-Quetaifi had attacked fellow Saudi Mohammed al-Saleh with an axe and robbed him of his money, leaving their victim in agony to bleed to death.
Their execution was carried out in Al-Ihsa, in the east of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, it said in statements carried by the state news agency SPA.
It said Mansur Jrad, a resident from Yemen, was executed in the southern province of Jizan which borders Yemen for smuggling hashish, although the amount was not specified.
The latest beheadings brought to 12 the number of executions announced in Saudi Arabia this year, after a record 153 people were put to death in 2007.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the death penalty in the oil-rich Gulf Arab country, where executions are usually carried out in public.
Voice of the Martyrs:
- When Islam gained control of Saudi Arabia 1,300 years ago, all Christians were expelled from the country.
- Saudi Arabia has signed agreements on religious freedom and enjoys a favorable status with Western nations. Despite this, Saudi Arabia has one of the world's worst human rights records.
- Any person involved in evangelism or who converts a Muslim faces jail, expulsion or execution. Often false drug charges are used against those evangelizing. Even foreigners visiting are not allowed to gather for worship.
- Since 1992 there are more than 360 cases of Christian expatriates being arrested for participating in private worship.
- Despite this, the Defense Minister, Prince Sultan, told reporters in March 2003 that Christians are free to worship privately, but reiterated that no church buildings will be allowed. He said, "We are not against religions at all ... but there are no churches - not in the past, the present or future." With the death of King Fahd, persecution of believers has not improved, but has been on the rise under the new King Abdullah.
- no reports of persecutions for 2007 are available on VOM.
Turkey Weekly 1/19/08:Saudi Women's Rights Activist Wajiha Al-Huweidar Criticizes Middle Eastern Men, Saudi Society; says condition of Saudi Women worse than at Guantanamo.
Somolia: The Charter establishes Islam as the national religion.The TFG Charter, article 15 states that "All citizens of the Somali Republic are equal before the law…have the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without distinction of race, birth, language, religion, sex or political affiliation."
The 1960 Somalia Constitution, article 29 states, "Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and to freely profess his own religion and to worship it subject to any limitations which may be prescribed by law for the purpose of safeguarding morals, public health, [and] order."
- Proselytizing for any religion except Islam is prohibitedin Puntland and Somaliland and effectively blocked by informal social consensus elsewhere in the country. Christian-based international relief organizations generally operated without interference, provided that they refrained from proselytizing.
- Local Shari'a courts, which often implement a combination of Shari'a and Somali customary law, continued to operate throughout the country in the absence of a national judicial system operated by a central government.
Sudan: 2005 Interim National Constitution (INC) provides for freedom of religion throughout the entire country, and there was some improvement in the status of respect for religious freedom in parts of the country in the period covered by this report. However, regional distinctions in the INC negotiated as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) have resulted in disparities in the treatment of religious minorities in the North and South. The INC preserves Shari'a as a source of legislation in the North while the Constitution of Southern Sudan establishes the traditional laws, religious beliefs, values, and customary practices of the people; as a source of legislation in the South.
The ongoing conflict in Darfur between the government-backed Arab Muslim militias (janjaweed) and non-Arab Muslim rebels does not center on religious differences but rather on political, economic, and ethnic issues. The United States declared the situation in Darfur a genocide in September 2004.
In February 2007 the President established the Commission for the Rights of Non-Muslims in the National Capital, a CPA mechanism for protecting religious freedom, by appointing the commission's chairperson. In addition, there were noted improvements in the number of building permits issued for churches.
Dialogue between Christian and Muslim groups continued under the auspices of the Sudan Inter-Religious Council (SIRC),a nongovernmental organization (NGO) supported by the GNU, and the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), comprising Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant groups.
Proselytizing by any religious group in the country is not prohibited, although strong Muslim social pressures in the North against proselytizing and Shari'a apostasy penalties within the North's legal code effectively limited Christian missionary activities in the region.
On January 1, 2007, police raided the seat of the Episcopal Church of Sudan Diocese of Khartoum with tear gas, injuring six worshippers. The raid occurred during an annual prayer service to mark the coming of the New Year and marked the first time since the signing of the 2005 CPA that authorities in Sudan have disrupted a religious gathering.
- There is considerable social pressure for non-Muslims in the North to convert to Islam. The President frequently ended his public speeches with a call for victory over the "infidels," and state media outlets routinely referred to Christians as "nonbelievers". Christian parents reported that their children enrolled in public school were commonly asked why they were not Muslims.
- Since 1999 the Secretary of State has designated Sudan a Country of Particular Concern annually under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
Human Rights Watch: The reported appointment of notorious “Janjaweed” leader Musa Hilal as special advisor to President Omar El Bashir of Sudan is a stunning affront to victims of Janjaweed atrocities in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said today. The appointment of Hilal, who is subject to a United Nations travel ban for his role in Darfur, comes less than two weeks before an African Union summit where Bashir is due to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and it underscores the urgent need to put justice high up on the agenda.
Religious intolerance throughout Sudan’s Islamist government and judicial system is systematically denying people of other faiths their fundamental human rights. Strict interpretations of Islamic law are being used as the basis for barbaric punishments including death by stoning and amputations. In one instance, a pregnant southern Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The woman, a Christian who does not understand Arabic, was given the death penalty in that language, and the trial was conducted in Arabic with no translation of the proceedings to ensure that she understood fully the case against her.
12/14/07: The United Nations Human Rights Council has agreed a resolution that lets Sudan off the hook for continuing human rights abuses in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said today. The resolution, which is expected to be adopted by consensus on December 14, 2007 rewards Khartoum’s failure to take the steps to address the Darfur crisis identified by a group of experts appointed by the council. “With this resolution, the council has squandered the good work done by the Darfur experts’ group,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “To achieve consensus, the council crossed the line from necessary compromise on Darfur to appeasement of Sudan and its allies.”
December 07 letter to the Arab League: After almost 5 years of conflict in Darfur, more than 2 million people are living in camps and temporary shelters, having been forced to flee their homes and unable to return. In many areas people continue to be displaced by renewed fighting and direct attacks on villages and towns.
Meanwhile throughout Darfur civilians remain at risk of violence each day. Thousands of women have been subject to rape and other forms of sexual violence; they risk further attacks each time they leave their camp or village to collect firewood or travel to market. The few civilians who try to return to their land to farm are attacked and driven away. Even within camps civilians are not safe. On October 18 and 19 2007, at least two civilians were killed in fighting between former rebels and militia that culminated in an attack by Sudanese police on Kalma camp, the largest displaced persons camp in Darfur. On October 20 there were also civilian casualties reported in Hamidiya camp in Zalingei when Sudanese Armed Forces fired on the camp.
Humanitarian workers and peacekeepers too are increasingly at risk. The African Union Mission (AMIS) has repeatedly come under fire, and on September 29, 2007, 10 AMIS peacekeepers were killed in an attack, reportedly carried out by rebel forces, on their base in Haskanita, North Darfur. Government forces quickly took control of the area, and on October 4, the entire town was burned to the ground and at least 10 civilians were killed. According to the United Nations Panel of Experts report (October 2, 2007) there was a 25 percent increase in attacks on humanitarian workers and equipment in the first half of 2007 compared to the first half of 2006, and access to affected populations has declined significantly over the year.
1/20/08: When Sudanese President Omar El Bashir arrives in Ankara on January 21 for a state visit, the Turkish government should publicly urge him to end the ongoing atrocities in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the Turkish government. “It’s surprising that the Turkish government has chosen to honor a foreign leader responsible for massive human rights violations,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Turkish authorities should affirm their commitment to human rights principles by calling on Bashir to end the atrocities in Darfur.”
Syria: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government imposes restrictions on this right. While there is no official state religion, the Constitution requires that the president be Muslim and stipulates that Islamic jurisprudence is a principal source of legislation. The Constitution provides for freedom of faith and religious practice, provided that the religious rites do not disturb the public order.
Voice of the Martyrs:Offically a secular state, Muslims are given preferential treatment and the president must be a Muslim. Visas are not granted for missionary work. Overall the Christian minority is respected and there is freedom to worship, but any activity that could threaten the government or communal harmony is suspect, making it difficult to spread the gospel. Overall the Christian population has been decreasing because of emigration to the Americas and Africa.
Tunisia: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the freedom to practice the rites of one's religion unless they disturb the public order; however, the Government imposes some restrictions on this right. The Constitution declares the country's determination to adhere to the teachings of Islam, stipulates that Islam is the official state religion, and that the President be Muslim.The Government does not permit the establishment of political parties on the basis of religion and prohibits efforts to proselytize Muslims. It restricts the wearing of Islamic headscarves (hijab) in government offices, and discourages women from wearing the hijab on public streets and at certain public gatherings.
United Arab Emirates: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion in accordance with established customs, and the government generally respects this right in practice; however, there were some restrictions. The federal Constitution declares that Islam is the official religion of the country.
Voice of the Martyrs:
UAE is officially Sunni Muslim with Christians composing up to nine percent of the population. The president, Sheikh Zayed, has said, "A Muslim should know what are the true teachings of Christianity, and a Christian should know what are the true teachings of Islam.Sincere people from both sides should enter into dialogue, and should not leave the floor to the extremists who are there amongst both Christians and Muslims. A true dialogue between religions is the real deterrent and strong defense against fundamentalism and extremism." Despite such expressions of moderation, only foreign Christians have freedom to worship and witness and there are severe restrictions on Christian education and witnessing to nationals. Few believers have opportunities to openly share their faith because of possible arrest.
Yemen: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, there were some restrictions. The Constitution declares that Islam is the state religion, and that Shari'a (Islamic law) is the source of all legislation.
Other Islamic Countries:
Afganistan: The Constitution proclaims that "followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law." However, it also states that Islam is the "religion of the state" and that "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam."
VOM: Muslims make up the vast majority of the population. Christians make up only 1/100 of 1 percent of the population and there are still 88 unreached people groups in this nation.
- Converts to Christianity were often killed by their own families. The year 2004 saw a shift in policies and governing authorities in Afghanistan. A new constitution was adopted in January, and in October of that year, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president.
- The constitution is somewhat vague in policies relating to religion, which could lead to abuses of minorities in the future.
Bangladesh: The Constitution establishes Islam as the state religion but provides for the right to profess, practice, or propagate, subject to law, public order, and morality, the religion of one's choice.
- While the right to propagate the religion of one's choice is guaranteed by the Constitution, local authorities and communities often objected to efforts to convert persons from Islam.
VOM: Islam is the official religion of Bangladesh. Other religious minorities, such as Hindus and Christians, may worship, but face societal discrimination.
- Discrimination against Christians has primarily come from militant Islamic mobs who have threatened Christian work, denied Christians access to public water wells, beaten them, threatened them in exchange for money or destroyed their rickshaws, thus eliminating their only source of income.
- While the law has not passed through legislation, the proposal of an anti-conversion law in May, 2004 resulted in yet more persecution of Christians.
- The Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has placed Bangladesh on its Watch List, indicating that if religious persecution becomes more intense, it could be placed on the United States’ list of CPC’s (Country of Particular Concern)
- In Spring 2005, two incidences came to light that indicate the severity of persecution facing Christians in Bangladesh. On March 8 a lay pastor was beheaded for sharing his faith with some Muslims, several of whom had come to Christ a week earlier. He left his wife to care for five children, three of whom were placed in a Christian orphanage so that she could work in the fields. Two attacks are reported for 2007 on VOM
Indonesia: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. However, certain policies, laws, and official actions restricted religious freedom, and the Government sometimes tolerated discrimination against and abuse of individuals based on their religious belief by private actors. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country. While Aceh remained the only province authorized to implement Islamic law (Shari'a), several local governments outside of Aceh promulgated laws implementing elements of Shari'a that abrogated the rights of women and religious minorities. The Government did not use its constitutional authority over religious matters to review or overturn these local laws. Persons of minority religious groups and atheists continued to experience official discrimination, often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births or the issuance of identity cards.
Malaysia: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government places some restrictions on this right. Islam is recognized in the Constitution as the religion of the Federation, but the practice of non-Sunni Islamic beliefs was significantly restrictedand those deviating from accepted Sunni beliefs could be subjected to rehabilitation; Non-Muslims were free to practice their religious beliefs with few restrictions.
VOM: Malaysia was formed as a federation of thirteen states in 1963. As a constitutional monarchy, there are guarantees of religious freedom.
- The government considers Islam to be an essential part of the ethnic Malay identity and all ethnic Malays are legally considered Muslims.
- Non-Malays are free to convert to Islam, but conversion from Islam to any other religion is strongly discouraged.
- However, should a Malay convert, the government has several means conveniently available to them to keep them from being recognized as a true convert to Christianity.
- A young lady came to Christ in February 1997. With her conversion came the customary name change, which would identify her as a Christian rather than a Muslim. Lina Joy has been engulfed in legal battles since she became a Christian. In September 2005, the Superior Court rejected her appeal, saying that the right to change religion is not guaranteed in the Constitution.
- Christian literature must be printed for non-Malays only and ethnic Malays are not allowed a Christian place of worship. In 2007 the High Court rules she could not change her religion to Christianity.
- Permits for building churches are rarely granted and house churches are strongly discouraged.
- Freedom of speech and public assembly are also restricted.
- Distribution of a popular translation of the Bible in the official language of Bahasa Melayu is, in effect, forbidden and the Indonesian Bible, which is a similar language, has been banned, along with Christian books containing certain phrases common to Islam.
- 2 reports of Christian persecution in 2007
Pakistan: The country is an Islamic republic. Islam is the state religion and the Constitution requires that laws be consistent with Islam. The Constitution states, &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; subject to law, public order and morality, every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice, and propagate his religion; however, in practice the Government imposes limits on freedom of religion. Freedom of speech is constitutionally; subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam.
VOM: Pakistan was formed in 1947 as the Muslim section in the partition of British India. In 1971, as a result of a civil war, East Pakistan left Pakistan to form the state of Bangladesh.
- Christians face severe opposition from militant Islamic groups. They are regularly barred from jobs or face troubles from their employers and co-workers. Christian merchants are often harassed.
- In 1998, Sharia law was adopted in Pakistan, under which Christians have limited rights. Many Pakistani Christians have been falsely accused under Law 295c of blaspheming Mohammed or the Koran, a crime punishable by death.
- Imprisonment, torture and death continue to dog the path of Christians in Pakistan. In August 2004, 26 year old Nasir Masih was arrested on false charges of theft and subsequently beaten to death while in police custody.
- 18 reports of persecutions of Christians in 2007
Turkey: The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, the Government imposes some restrictions on Muslim and other religious groups and on Muslim religious expression in government offices and state-run institutions, including universities.
- Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said recently, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it”.
- Violent attacks and threats against non-Muslims during the reporting period created an atmosphere of pressure and diminished freedom for some non-Muslim communities.
- Although proselytizing is legal in the country, some Muslims, Christians, and Baha'is faced a few restrictions and occasional harassment for alleged proselytizing or unauthorized meetings. The Government continued to oppose "Islamic fundamentalism."
- Authorities continued their broad ban on wearing Muslim religious headscarves in government offices, universities, and schools (upheld by the European Court of Human Rights); a 2006 court ruling, some argue, has extended this ban to the private sphere.
Religious minorities said they were effectively blocked from careers in state institutions because of their faith. Christians, Baha'is, and some Muslims faced societal suspicion and mistrust, and more radical Islamist elements continued to express anti-Semitic sentiments. Additionally, persons wishing to convert from Islam to another religion sometimes experienced social harassment and violence from relatives and neighbors.
In late April 2007 police arrested four street evangelists in Istanbul for "missionary activity," disturbing the peace, and insulting Islam. The arrested included a U.S. citizen, one Korean, and two Turks. The American was released 48 hours after his arrest, although he reported a state prosecutor visited neither him nor the Korean. The claim of insulting Islam was based on a book the evangelists were giving out, which explained that Christians cannot accept the Qur'an because it contradicts some of the teachings of the New Testament. The prosecutor ultimately charged the evangelists with a single misdemeanor of disturbing the peace.
Religious minorities report difficulties opening, maintaining, and operating houses of worship. Under the law, religious services may take place only in designated places of worship. Municipal codes mandate that only the Government can designate a place of worship, and if a religion has no legal standing in the country, it may not be eligible for a designated site.
After the April 18, 2007, killings in Malatya of three Christians, Turkish victim Ugur Yuksel was denied a Christian burial and given an Islamic/Alevitic burial instead.
In March 2007 the Government held a ceremony to reopen the 10th century Armenian Holy Cross Church on Akdamar Island as a memorial museum after a long restoration process that it had funded. By the end of the reporting period, the Government was still considering a request by the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul to allow the placement of a cross on the building.
VOM: Turkey played a significant part in the early Christian Church as the center of much of the Apostle Paul's work. With the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, however, it became the guardian of Islam for centuries.
- the number of Christians has dramatically decreased from twenty-two percent in 1900 to today, where 99.8 percent of the people are Muslim and most people have never heard the Gospel of Christ
Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom. While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in "buildings created for this purpose," and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions.
The few who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult.
Local officials have caused difficulties for Christians attempting to change their religious designation on their identification cards. Christians also face persecution from militant groups, such as two Christians beaten for distributing Bibles in October 2003.
8 reports of persecutions for 2007
Other Islamic countries: Albania, Azerbaljan, Republic of BENIN, BRUNEI-DARUSSALAM, BURKINA-FASO (then Upper Volta), Republic of CAMEROON, Republic of CHAD, Republic of COTE D'IVOIRE, GABON. GAMBIA, GUINEA, Republic of GUINEA-BISSAU, Republic of GUYANA, KAZAKHSTAN, MALDIVES, Republic of MALI, MOZAMBIQUE, NIGER, NIGERIA, SENEGAL, SIERRA LEONE, SURINAME, Republic of TOGO, Republic of TURKMENISTAN, UGANDA, Republic of UZBEKISTAN
Many of these countries are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). It is headquartered in Saudi Arabia and is Saudi-backed.
OIC's subsidiary, the Islamic Figh Academy or Council, approves of martyrdom for Islam! This organization has UN observatory status and is the 2nd largst intergovermental organization after the United Nations. Critics believe it is a caliphate in the making.
There are more posts on the OIC are here.
Update 7/1/09: I added a link to the 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom (this report came out after I did this page but I suspect it is not much different that the 2007 report. I just haven't had time to update it all yet.)
Update 10/12/10: 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom.
Voice of the Martyrs World/Country report
Human Rights Watch: Middle East and Africa