Fears for Christians after election in Pakistan
FEARS have been expressed that Christians will be further marginalised in Pakistan after last week’s elections. The former cricketer Imran Khan’s PTI party won 115 seats, 22 short of a majority, and is negotiating with smaller parties to form a coalition. The PTI is pledged to protect the blasphemy laws, which affect Christians disproportionately, the British Pakistani Christian Association says. Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a party that supports the death penalty for blasphemy, made inroads in the vote. Release International’s chief executive, Paul Robinson, said that it was unlikely that there would be any reduction in the persecution of Pakistani Christians. Pakistani bishops have spoken of their hopes that the next government will protect the rights of minorities (News, 25 July).
Egyptian Coptic bishop found dead
THE Abbot of the Coptic Monastery of San Macario, in Egypt, since 2013, Bishop Epiphanius, was found dead in suspicious circumstances on Sunday. Local reports have called his death murder, Vatican News said. Security officials said that Bishop Epiphanius had sustained head and back injuries. The General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, Archbishop Angaelos, said: “Bishop Epiphanius will be missed not only as a respected leader and thinker, but as a dear friend and brother. His humble spirit was an inspiration to all, and I have been personally touched by his life and ministry.”
Firefighters save church in Barbados
FIREFIGHTERS have prevented further damage to St Martin’s Anglican Church, St Philip, in Barbados, after a suspected arson attack in the daytime on Sunday destroyed an altar, two kneeling stools, and a prayer book. The Royal Barbados Police Force are investigating.
Swedish crown jewels stolen from cathedral
POLICE have launched a manhunt after Swedish crown jewels were stolen from Strängnäs Cathedral. Two men were seen running out of the cathedral, near Stockholm, on Tuesday, before speeding away on a motorboat on Lake Malaren. The raid occurred while the cathedral was open to visitors at lunchtime on Tuesday, police said. It was reported that the thieves made off with two crowns and an orb, adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls that made up part of funeral regalia of Charles IX and his wife, Christian of Holstein-Gottorp, from the early 17th century. “It’s 1-0 to them right now,” Thomas Agnevik, a police spokesman said.