There is no Religious Freedom. Christians are persecuted

   The Nusra Front, an Islamist group linked to Al Qaeda attacked the old part of the Syrian city of Maaloula . Islamic terrorists holded several nuns in the convent of Santa Tecla, in the same town.

   Moreover, Raimondo Wang Chonglin , who was Emeritus Bishop of Chaohsien ( Zhaoxian ) , in the Hebei Province (China) has spent 20 years of his life in prison and had to fight against the various prohibitions of the Chinese government to exercise his pastoral work .

   According to the » Report on Religious Freedom in the World » of the U.S. Office of International Religious Freedom, there are 14 countries in the world with «serious legal restrictions on religious freedom» . These are : Bhutan , China, Cuba , Iran , North Korea , Laos , Maldives , Myanmar , Nigeria , Pakistan, Saudi Arabia , Sudan , Turkmenistan and Yemen.

   It also classifies as «episodes of legal repression» and «violence of social intolerance» situations where priests and bishops of the Catholic Church are arrested.

   The most serious problem lies with Muslim converts to Christianity . They often «must hide their new faith even to the family, or they must decide to emigrate so that they can make it public.» Apostasy is punishable by death, requested by the same relatives of the converted.

   Also, in North Korea about 80,000 people are held in labor camps and subjected «to hunger , torture and even death.»

   Religious freedom is also persecuted in Nigeria, where the acts of religious intolerance include » false accusations of blasphemy against Islam «, » abduction and forced teen conversions , especially of girls,» and «discrimination against Christians in accessing public employment or receiving health services «.

   Moreover, the Sunday Express magazine , said that about 200 million Christians in 60 countries live in serious risk of harassment. The report reveals that in Sudan , » thousands of Christians have been slaughtered and the government has failed to protect them .» The study reports that in Pakistan at least seventy Christians.were killed «. In Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Christians belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church are frowned upon and pursued.

   Clemente Ferrer

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