Mind your Ps and Qs

Religious persecution, conflict around religious affairs and freedom of expression are issues that affect peoples lives on a daily basis but ones that we don’t usually associate as much with the western world. The Times has today reported on the case of Italian comica Sabina Guzzanti who could face prosecution and even a jail term after some choice comments she made about Pope Benedict XVI. They could apparently lead to the invoking of an old treaty between Italy and the Vatican which deems any insult to the pope or Italian President as a punishable offence. Ironically the comments were made at protest rally against the alleged interference by the Vatican in Italian affairs. The Pope is today visiting France where, the BBC reports that, in a similar vein president Sarkozy has made headlines for challenging firmly rooted secular French laws by suggesting that religion and state affairs can go hand in hand. Surely after this Italian commedia it’s a reminder of the dangers!

 

Elsewhere there are alarming accounts of violence emerging from India where there has been a surge of anti-Christian violence ahead of the general elections. The Times has reported on a serious of attacks in the state of Orissa where Hindu extremists have targeted minority communities with mob-style violence and lynchings following the murder of a Hindu nationalist leader. Amnesty International has highlighted the issue an for  fear of further attacks in Orissa. Also similarly concerning is the less widely reported case of 40 Muslim clerics and scholars at risk of torture in Eritrea. They are believed to have been arrested for being part of the Saho ethnic group, and are being held incommunicado at undisclosed locations, Amnesty has expressed concern amid fears for their safety. Finally some good news from China where Pastor Zhang who was arrested with another pastor on August 6 have been released but stopped from returning to Beijing until the end of the Paralympics. The Chinese authorities continue to crackdown on people for their religious beliefs outside the officially sanctioned channels.

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