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British Court Upholds Right of Christians to Freely Express Their Faith – Felix Ngole

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After four years, a Christian student won his appeal in a UK appeals court after he was expelled from college for expressing his faith on sexual ethics in a debate on social media, according to CBN News.

Felix Ngole was dismissed from the University of Sheffield in 2016 where he was studying to become a social worker.

He was expelled for his participation in a 2015 Facebook discussion opposing same-sex-marriage. Being a devout Christian, he quoted biblical verses confirming the traditional Christian views on marriage.

A complaint was filed against Ngole by an anonymous source several months after the Facebook discussion. He was told by the university that he “lacked insight’ into the effect of his Facebook posts. The expression of his Christian views was found to be unacceptable by the university, and he was required to stay silent on the subject while attending the school.

Ngole was also told not to express his Christian views in public, including a church. He could never express his viewpoint in a work situation even if directly asked.

In their decision, the Court of Appeals rebuked the university saying that people should not live in fear when expressing their views. The court said, “The mere expression of religious views about sin does not necessarily connote discrimination.”

Ngole was represented by religious rights attorney, Paul Diamond, who objected to the university’s disciplinary process of silencing speech.

The student took to Facebook and expressed gratitude for his victory, writing:

“You say something that your employer doesn’t like and they expel you. And we know that type of thing that you would say that would lead to that. Most of it is just expressing your faith which as a Christian country we should be able to do that.” Read More

800 Christian families fled a Christian neighborhood after blasphemy accusation

Christian residents feared a repeat of several previous instances when Christian neighbourhoods have been set on fire following blasphemy accusations (World Watch Monitor)

(World Watch Monitor) Several Islamic clerics and a few Christian leaders held a press conference at a police station in Lahore, Pakistan, (20 February) to send a message to at least 800 families who fled a Christian neighbourhood in the city after a 20-year-old Christian man was accused of posting blasphemous content on Facebook, causing an angry mob to form.

The press conference was held at the Shahdara Police Station, after which a joint statement was signed calling for Christians to return and live peacefully with their Muslim neighbours, as before. The statement also noted that “the Christian community has guaranteed that they would not interfere in the religious matters of Muslims any further. And neither would any such incident [of disrespect] take place anymore. [Christians] will respect the religion of Muslims and holy places and their religious festivals and they [the leaders] will teach this to the members of their community”.

The mob had (19 February) set [tires] alight and blocked part of the Grand Trunk Road, a main artery in Lahore that connects the city with other major parts of the country, demanding Patras Masih be publicly hanged for posting content alleged to have disrespected the prophet Muhammad.

Lahore is a big metropolitan with a population of more than 15 million, including the largest population of Christians in Pakistan – no less than half a million. Around 2,000 Christian families, including Masih’s, live in the Dhair neighbourhood of Shahdara, a northern suburb of Lahore, and Bishop Emmanuel Masih of God’s Church in Lahore told World Watch Monitor that at least 800 fled to stay with relatives elsewhere, fearing a repeat of several previous instances when Christian neighbourhoods have been set on fire following blasphemy accusations.

Patras Masih had a nominal education and has been working as a cleaner in a bank, where his father, Inderyas, also works as a driver.

Masih’s paternal uncle, Arif, told World Watch Monitor his nephew was friends with both Christians and Muslims. “A few weeks ago, Patras posted a picture in a group of his friends that had both Christian and Muslim members,” he said.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) of the crime, lodged by a man named Muhammad Awais, the allegedly blasphemous content was posted more than a month ago, on 16 January, on a Facebook group named PaglonKiBasti (The Town of Lunatics).

“After seeing this post, I asked Muhammad Siddique [moderator of the group], who immediately phoned the suspect, Patras Masih, and asked him to remove the post. But Patras refused to remove the post, after which the area residents are quite upset and angry,” Awais stated in the FIR.

Patras Masih’s mother, Saima Bibi, told World Watch Monitor that on the evening before the trouble started, Sunday 18 February, three men of Pashtun descent came to her home, showed her son’s picture and inquired if he was home. “Patras’s younger brother told them that he was not home,” she explained. “Then again four boys came inquiring about him. When Patras came home, we told him and he could not make sense of why these people were looking for him.

“Early the next morning [19 February], Patras and his father left for work, where his friend told him on the phone that people were gathering outside, after which the two of them fled while I came back home. The police knocked on the door while I was in the washroom. They left after searching, without finding me. I spent all day in the washroom and at night I went to the second floor of the building and jumped to a neighbour’s house.”

Arif Masih told World Watch Monitor: “People had started gathering around 7am, while I heard about what was happening around 11.30am, when things had started getting worse. I live only few streets away and rushed to the place where people were gathering, while Patras and his father had already fled from home.”

Requesting anonymity, a local pastor from the area said that several people with long beards had gathered and demanded that Patras Masih be handed over to them or else they would set their houses on fire, having brought petrol for this purpose.

When the police arrived, they brought a few clerics with them to negotiate with the mob. The police managed to get the road cleared for traffic in the evening, but the mob continued to demand Masih’s arrest and public hanging.

“In the evening, when the angry mob was getting out of control, we went to the superintendent of police’s office and handed Patras to them,” his uncle explained. “Since then we don’t know what is taking place with him.”

“A huge number of people who were extremely angry had gathered and blocked the road, but thank God that no untoward incident took place and now the situation is under control,” Sub-Inspector Haji Munir, leading the investigation, told World Watch Monitor.

“Patras was told by other members of the Facebook group to delete the post, but he remained adamant, after which this issue arose,” Munir added. “Patras is still under investigation but soon will be sent to jail.”

In recent years, social media has become a thorny issue in Pakistan. YouTube remained blocked from September 2012 until January 2016, while in March last year Facebook was told it would be completely shut down if blasphemous content was not removed. Then in May, a 16-year-old Christian, Nabeel Masih*, was accused of posting a blasphemous picture on Facebook, and is now facing jail.

Punjab Assembly parliamentarian Mary Gill, who signed the statement in Lahore on behalf of the Christian community, told World Watch Monitor the younger generation must understand the sensitivity of such issues while using social media. “Our people [Christians] are illiterate and there have been several such incidents in recent years,” she said. “Due to the sensitivity involved, even Christian politicians fear to handle such incidents for fear of reprisals.”

*The name ‘Masih’, which derives from ‘Messiah’, has been used for whole Christian communities for many years in Pakistan. Bibi, meanwhile, is a respectful term for a married or older woman in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia – the most famous Christian example being Asia Bibi, who has been on death row for blasphemy since 2010.

 

 

Death threats target Turkey’s Protestants

turkey-map

Fifteen Turkish Protestant congregations and their leaders have been targeted since 27 Aug. by a strident campaign of death threats sent to their Facebook, email, websites and mobile telephones.

The threats followed the style and jargon typically used by the so-called Islamic State (IS), vowing to kill, massacre and behead apostates who the messages accused of having “chosen the path that denies Allah” and “dragged others into believing as you do… As heretics you have increased your numbers with ignorant followers”.

“Threats are not anything new for the Protestant community who live in this country and want to raise their children here,” the Association of Protestant Christians in Turkey said in a press release on 1 Sept. “But with the recent increase in systematic threats, from this country’s west to east and north to south, in different cities, we think that these messages, coming close together and resembling each other, are coming from the same source.”

A copy of one message seen by World Watch Monitor displayed the IS flag and called itself “those who go to jihad”. It warned: “Perverted infidels, the time that we will strike your necks is soon. May Allah receive the glory and praise.”

Most of the messages included a direct quote from the Al-Ahzab chapter of the Quran, which threatens “those who spread false news… Accursed, they shall be seized wherever found and killed with a horrible slaughter.”

A link was also posted for an Arabic video subtitled in Turkish on YouTube entitled, “The religious proofs why apostates should be killed”.

One pastor attacked over both email and SMS messages told World Watch Monitor, “They are saying things like they had been waiting for us to return to Islam, and that we are responsible for other Muslims turning to Christ, that our time is up and that Allah will give them our heads”.

The majority of Turkish Protestant congregations are former Muslims who have converted to Christianity. In contrast to most Muslim-majority nations, Turkish citizens have the legal right to change their religious identity or leave blank the religion column on their IDs.

Church leaders who received the messages were encouraged by the association to notify the police and public prosecutors in their local area regarding the threats.

Turkey’s stance towards IS

Turkey’s apparent ambivalence over the past year towards the Islamic State fighting on its borders for control over large sections of neighbouring Syria and Iraq remains under the international spotlight. But in early August, the state-controlled Religious Affairs Directorate issued its first condemnation of the jihadist group as a “terrorist” organisation, officially declaring it “non-Muslim”.

Condemning the self-proclaimed IS Caliphate for its “twisted” portrayal of Islam and the Quran, the Turkish government then released a detailed report to inform the public about the group’s tactics, slogans, operations and interpretation of Islam through weekly sermons, fatwas (religious edicts) and Quran courses.

Within just 10 days, IS responded with a new video directly threatening Turkey and its president, warning the people of Turkey against “atheists, crusaders and devils who fool them and make them a slave of the crusaders”. Vowing to conquer Istanbul soon, the speaker, using the alias Abu Ammar, called on the Turkish people to abandon democracy, secularism and human rights and instead follow Sharia.

Speaking in fluent Turkish on the seven-minute clip, which was distinctly amateur in comparison with the jihadists’ usual slick videos, the man was later identified as a 47-year-old Turkish citizen who had taken his wife and children to Syria to join IS in 2014.

World Watch Monitor

 

Christian student in the U.K. kicked out by his university for Facebook message opposing gay marriage

Sheffield University

Sheffield University

  • Felix Ngole, 38, expelled from Sheffield University after Facebook message
  • Postgraduate father of four had been studying to become a social worker
  • Set to appeal because of consequences for the ‘freedom of expression’

A Christian student has been ejected from his university course for voicing his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook.

Felix Ngole, 38, was expelled from Sheffield University after faculty staff decided he ‘may have caused offence to some individuals’.

The postgraduate father of four, who was studying to become a social worker, has been told his actions affect his fitness to practice and was ordered to hand back his student ID and library card.

Mr Ngole was reported after using his private Facebook account to express support for Kim Davis, a county clerk from Kentucky, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences after the introduction of same-sex unions there last September.

Mr Ngole argued that homosexual activity is against the teaching of the Bible, quoting a verse from Leviticus describing it as an ‘abomination’. Read More

NFL Star Facebook prayer for persecuted Christians goes viral

Behind NFL star’s Facebook prayer for persecuted Christians. Uncut: New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson explains why he penned a Facebook prayer for Christians brutalized by ISIS – which has since gone viral.

Send Pastor Saeed Abedini a Christmas Card. Tell him that he’s NOT FORGOTTEN!

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INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN – CHRISTMAS CARDS FOR SAEED

Over 600 Christmas cards are being sent to the notorious Rajaei-Shahr Prison in Iran for American Pastor Saeed Abedini. He has been tortured and wrongfully imprisoned by the Iranian government for his Christian faith. His wife and young children are grieving in his absence. His life is now at great risk! Please join the Christmas mission to encourage and to let Saeed and Iran know HE IS NOT FORGOTTEN!

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Dec. 2015 UPDATE:

Share a Christmas message with Saeed here

CHRISTMAS CARDS FOR SAEED International Campaign

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PLEASE SHARE this INTERNATIONAL Campaign Mission to remember our persecuted brother, Pastor Saeed Abedini. Your participation and help is crucial for making this mission a success! We will let Saeed and Iran know that he will NOT BE FORGOTTEN!

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED has organized an International Christmas Campaign Mission, along with his wife, Nagmeh Abedini to REMEMBER SAEED ON CHRISTMAS.

Dec. 2015 UPDATE:

Share a Christmas message with Saeed here

HAPPENING NOW! JOIN the Social Media Blitz Campaign to help #FREESAEED

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JOIN AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EVENT HERE

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Reblogged Social Media Blitz Campaign to help #FREESAEED.

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