Indonesians support governor accused of blasphemy
MORE than 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Jakarta, in Indonesia, on Saturday, after the governor of the city, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was embroiled in a blasphemy investigation. Riots reportedly broke out last week after the Islamic Defenders Front, which wants to impose sharia in the country, demanded his arrest for joking, in a video posted online, that a passage in the Qur’an could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims’ accepting non-Muslims as leaders. The governor has apologised for the comment. Blasphemy is a criminal offence in the country, accountable to up to five years in prison.
Vandalised synagogue hosts solidarity event
AN ORTHODOX synagogue in south Ottawa, Canada, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, hosted an interfaith rally this week after its doors were vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas. A Jewish prayer centre, two synagogues, a mosque, and a church were also targeted, the Anglican Journal reported. The congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, welcomed more than 600 people to the event, which he described as “a mosaic of our community”. A 17-year-old appeared in court on Tuesday charged with 18 offences, including the possession of dangerous weapons.
CSW concerned about ‘restrictive’ Egyptian law
CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY WORLDWIDE (CSW) has expressed concern after the Egyptian parliament passed a new Civic Association Law requiring NGOs to apply to a new body, the National Agency for the Regulation of Foreign NGOs, for legal status, and to prove that they do not engage in “activities that might harm the national security of the country, or activities that might violate the public order, morals, or health”. The legislation has been opposed by human-rights groups. The chief executive of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, said: “The restrictive nature of this new law gives the unfortunate impression that it was enacted not only to regulate NGOs, but also to curtail them.”