Pakistani PM declares religions’ adherents equal
THE Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, spoke last week of the equality of people of all religions. At the opening of a restored Hindu complex in Punjab, attended by Christian Sikh and Hindu leaders, he told Reuters: “In my personal view, we are all are equal — Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and people belonging to other religions; we are all one.” He also spoke out against Muslim scholars who used “strange interpretations” of Islam to preach hate against other religions. Reuters also reports that a Pakistani Senate committee is to discuss how to prevent the unfair application of blasphemy laws.
Egyptian prosecutors dismiss stripped woman’s case
EGYPTIAN prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a Muslim mob who stripped her and paraded her naked through the streets. After the assault in May, President el Sisi vowed that the perpetrators would be punished (News, 3 June). Christian homes had also been set alight. The woman’s lawyer said that the prosecutors, publishing their decision on Saturday, had cited a lack of evidence. The woman has said that she and her family are unable to return home because of Muslim extremists’ threats.
CSI diocese sends help to cyclone victims
CHURCH leaders in the Madras diocese of the Church of South India have been distributing aid to some of the thousands of people displaced by Cyclone Vardah, the fiercest storm in the region for two decades, which killed ten people when it struck last month. Food parcels were delivered twice a day to 2000 families in its aftermath. The Revd S. Jacob Selvan, director of the diocesan diaconal department, told ACNS that the diocese was now planning to build and repair houses.
Another Mexican priest found dead
A MEXICAN priest, Fr Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes, who was reported missing on 3 January, was found dead in northern Mexico on Thursday of last week. He had been due to go on holiday. After noticing his absence, a friend found his room in a mess, and his packed suitcase. At least 31 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006 (News, 14 October).
Bishops step up efforts to free Fr Uzhunnalil
THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has intensified its efforts to secure the release of Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil, who was abducted by Islamic militants in Yemen last year (News, 11 March) and appeared in a video posted on Boxing Day (News, 6 January). In a letter to churches, the Conference said that the Church had been in constant contact with the Indian foreign minister, and in touch with Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, Yemen. It has called for a day of prayer this weekend.
Prayer sought for victims of ‘wickedness’ in northern Nigeria
THE Archbishop of Jos, Dr Benjamin Kwashi, has said that Christians find refuge in God “in the face of turbulence, persecution, and wickedness” in northern Nigeria. Speaking at the annual retreat of Anglican bishops in the Province last week, he called on church people to “intensify their prayers”, and for action to tackle “biblical illiteracy”, ACNS reports. Open Doors reports that, in 2016, more Christians were killed for their faith in Nigeria than any other country (News, 13 January).
Video suggests kidnapped missionary is alive
A VIDEO purports to show that Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss missionary kidnapped by Islamic extremists from her home in Mali last year, is still alive (News, 15 January 2016). She had been abducted in 2012, but rescued after two weeks. In the video, she says that it was recorded on 31 December and that she is in good health.