In the State of Manipur India, ethnic tensions between the majority Meitei people and the minority ethnic Kuki/Zomi/Mizo people in Manipur spilled out into violence and targeting of minority religious communities. It is reported by local partners that Meitei mobs killed 50 people, injured hundreds, burnt or vandalized 130 churches, and have caused 1000s to be displaced mostly in early May.
As of May 10th, 2023, the Kuki Baptist Convention and Churchandpur District Christians Goodwill Council recorded over 150 churches and church properties that were burnt, demolished, or vandalized, though this may not be a complete list of churches that were damaged. Targeted churches included those belonging to Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Evangelical, and Assembly of God churches. The vast majority of these churches were completely burnt. Read more here.
“No One Should Be Sentenced to Death For Peaceful Expression”
21Wilberforce is a signatory to the letter mentioned below that was sent to outgoing President Buhari in Nigeria.
In 2020, Sufi Muslim Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was sentenced to death by hanging for “blasphemy”. His alleged crime involved sending song lyrics on WhatsApp that were deemed blasphemous toward the prophet Mohammed.
With support from human rights legal advocacy group ADF International, Sharif-Aminu has appealed his case to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and is challenging the constitutionality of Sharia-based blasphemy laws. He remains in prison awaiting the Supreme Court appeal. His case is far from an isolated incident. Together with minority Muslims, the persecution of Christians in Nigeria is especially severe. In 2022, approximately 90% of all Christians worldwide that were killed for their faith were in Nigeria. Read more here.
The Department of State Releases 2022 International Religious Freedom Report
I joined @IRF_Ambassador Hussain to launch the International Religious Freedom Report: a key part of our efforts to advance freedom of religion or belief, a core American value and a fundamental freedom enshrined in international law,” Secretary Blinken on Twitter. .
The Department of State submits an annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom in compliance with section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-292), as amended. This report, also known as the International Religious Freedom Report, describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies promoting religious freedom in nearly every country and territory throughout the world. The report covers the period between January 1 and December 31 of the previous calendar year. Read more and access report here.
USCIRF Documents 2,000 Victims, Calls Attention to Millions Persecuted for Religion or Belief
This month The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) surpassed 2,000 individuals included in its Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Victims List, a database that catalogues victims who have been detained, imprisoned, placed under house arrest, disappeared, forced to renounce their faith, or tortured for their religious belief, religious activity, or religious freedom advocacy. While this development represents a tragic milestone, USCIRF calls attention to the millions of other unknown victims around the world who continue to face severe oppression for their religion or belief.
“Shockingly, people all across the world face prosecution, prison time, state-sanctioned extrajudicial acts, and other forms of punishment for peacefully exercising their freedom of religion or belief and defending others’ rights to religious freedom,” said Chair Nury Turkel. “By documenting these cases, USCIRF shares the horrific stories of not only those individuals experiencing severe violations of their fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief but also of the millions of others who are forced to live under the tyranny of religious repression.” Read more here.
Keep Faith Alive: A Call to Support Communities of Faith Who Are Persecuted
You are invited to join Randel Everett, founder of 21Wilberforce, for lunch on June 13 at The Baylor Club in Waco, Texas or on June 15 at Wildflower Country Club in Temple, Texas. He will share recent stories of courage and engagement by people of faith, like you, who came together and assisted persecuted communities. And he will propose steps on how individuals and churches can engage and make a global impact. Register here.
The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) seeks to raise awareness around the major issues threatening the stability and safety of Nigeria’s people, provide solutions for the peace and restoration of Nigeria, and to hold their government accountable for inadequate or unjust actions. Learn more about their work here.
“We live in a time of increasing religion-based conflict, instigated by both states and citizens. The effects are death and displacement, abuse and intimidation. The experience of persecution is also widespread.” The Church and Religious Persecution published by The Calvin College Press explains the church’s absence and argues for its presence. Learn more here.