US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton released the State Department’s 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which mentions religious freedom abuses in China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. On cue, Chinese police detained more than 100 Christians who tried to hold an outdoor prayer service on a bridge in Beijing, and a Christian was arrested for allegedly breaking Pakistan’s draconian anti-blasphemy law.
The introduction to the State Department’s release has the following to say about religious freedom around the world:
“In Saudi Arabia in 2010, the government restricted access to the Internet…. The official Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) … blocked sites, including pages about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and certain forms of Islam deemed incompatible with Sharia law and national regulations….
“In Pakistan, religious freedom violations and violence and discrimination against religious minorities continued. The blasphemy laws were used to harass religious minorities as well as vulnerable Muslims or Muslims with minority views. (In the first two months of 2011, two senior government officials who publicly challenged these laws were brutally killed.)
“In Saudi Arabia, there were severe restrictions on religious freedom and discrimination on the basis of religion was common.
“In China, the government continued to demonize the Dalai Lama and harshly repress Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and Tibetan Buddhists. There were reports of increases in anti-Semitic acts around the world, including the desecration of cemeteries, graffiti, and blood-libel rhetoric, as well as Holocaust denial, revisionism, and glorification. There have also been spikes in expressions of anti-Semitism during events in the Middle East.”
The New York Times reports on the harassment in Bejing.
“The police detained dozens of members of an underground Protestant church on Sunday morning, after the congregation tried to pray in a public plaza in the north of the capital.
“A parishioner was ordered into a van by a plainclothes police officer in Beijing on Sunday.
“The police corralled scores of parishioners into buses and blocked church leaders from leaving their homes. Among those detained was a photographer from The New York Times, who was later released.
“Last week the church, Shouwang, was evicted from the space it had been renting after the government pressured the landlord not to renew the lease. The congregation, one of the largest so-called house churches in China, has been seeking legal recognition from the authorities since 2006 without success.
New case of Christian in Pakistan falsely accused of blasphemy
Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission, reports that – “A Christian by the name of Arif Masih, 40 years old, from the village of Chak Jhumra, in Faisalabad, was arrested on 5 April by local police accused of blasphemy. This was communicated to Fides by the Diocese of Faisalabad’s Justice and Peace Commission. Arif is accused of ripping the pages of the Holy Quran and writing a threatening letter to Muslims for embracing Christianity.”