CFI Factsheet

Posted by on March 23, 2017 in News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on CFI Factsheet

CFI Factsheet

6 Reasons to Support Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration:

Among other things, President Trump’s executive order on immigration places certain restrictions on citizens of six countries from entry to the United States. The following are six reasons why Christian Freedom International supports President Trump’s executive order.

Please share this factsheet, drawn from official sources, with anyone who has questions about why these six nations are of particular concern.

1. Iran

• Population: 82,801,633 (July 2016 est.)

• Religions: Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)

• Background: The Islamic Republic of Iran is a constitutional, theocratic republic that proclaims the Twelver (Shi’a) Jaafari School of Islam to be the official religion of the country.

Religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate over the past year, particularly for religious minorities. The government of Iran discriminates against its citizens on the basis of religion or belief, as all laws and regulations are based on unique Shi’a Islamic criteria.

Over the past year, there were numerous incidents of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly Evangelical Christian converts.

Since 2010, authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained more than 550 Christians throughout the country. As of February 2016, approximately 90 Christians were either in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities.

2. Syria

• Population: 17,185,170 (July 2016 est.)

• Religions: Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)

• Background: Syria’s religious communities are largely deprived of religious freedom.

Reports have emerged from all groups, including Muslims, Christians, Ismailis, and others, of gross human rights violations, including beheading, rape, murder, torture of civilians and religious figures, and the destruction of mosques and churches.

ISIL in Syria makes little distinction between sects and ethnicities in its attempt to seize and maintain control of its territory. It has established brutal governing structures that apply strict Shari’ah law to everyone, violating due process and international human rights standards.

Since 2011, at least 50 Christians have been killed and at least 450 remain detained, although the numbers cannot be confirmed. Offices of Christian pro-democracy and charity groups have been raided, and prominent Christian civil rights activists, humanitarian workers, and religious leaders have been among the detained and killed.

3. Yemen

• Population: 27,392,779 (July 2016 est.)

• Religions: Muslim 99.1% (official; virtually all are citizens, an estimated 65% are Sunni and 35% are Shia), other 0.9% (includes Jewish, Baha’i, Hindu, and Christian; many are refugees or temporary foreign residents) (2010 est.)

• Background: (USCIRF Press Release 9/16/2008): The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is concerned about the status of Baha’i and Christian prisoners in Yemen, who have been imprisoned for months without charge and could face severe punishments.

Some of the Baha’i prisoners could be deported to Iran, where the Iranian government has imprisoned and tortured Baha’is in recent years. The Christians, who are converts from Islam, could face the death penalty if charged with apostasy. According to sources familiar with the cases, the Baha’is and Christians were detained for sharing their faith.

“It is very troubling that conditions for religious minorities in Yemen appear to have recently deteriorated,” noted Commission Chair Felice D. Gaer. “If the recent raids of Baha’i residences and the arrests of both Christians and Baha’is were carried out because of the religious identity of the targeted individuals, that constitutes a clear violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Yemen is a party.”

In June, six Yemeni Baha’is were arrested in the capital city of Sana’a after raids by security officials on several private homes. Two Baha’is, who are Yemeni nationals, have since been released. Of the four individuals remaining in prison, three are Iranian nationals and one is of Iraqi origin. Three of the four in prison have lived in Yemen for at least 25 years. Yemen is a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture, which in Article 3 bans the deportation of a person to a country where he or she is likely to be tortured. However, there still exists the serious concern that the three Iranian Baha’is face imminent deportation to Iran, a country where Baha’is have been executed and today face severe repression.

Since May, at least three Yemeni Christians, who are converts from Islam, have been arrested in Sana’a and Hodeida and remain in prison. According to the State Department, some of the Christians were arrested for “promoting Christianity and distributing the Bible,” although no formal charges have been filed by Yemeni authorities. The Yemeni government prohibits conversion from Islam and the proselytizing of Muslims. Given that apostasy is a crime punishable by death in Yemen, there is credible fear about the well-being of those imprisoned.

4. Somalia

• Population: 10,817,354

• Religions: 100% Sunni Muslim (Islam) (official, according to the Transitional Federal Charter)

• Background: Egregious religious freedom violations by the U.S.-designated terrorist group al-Shabaab continue in Somalia, including: the violent implementation of its extremist interpretation of Islamic law and use of hudood punishments; execution of those it deems “enemies of Islam;” and killing of Christian converts.

Al-Shabaab violently implements its interpretation of shari’ah law in the territories it controls. Somalis accused of committing crimes or who al-Shabaab deems to have deviated from accepted behaviors are punished through stoning, amputation, flogging, and/or detention.

It requires women to be fully covered in public and forbids them from engaging in commerce that brings them into contact with men. Men are forbidden to shave their beards, and those deemed with “inappropriate hairstyles” have had their heads shaved. AlShabaab orders businesses to close during Islam’s five daily prayer times. A number of activities, such as playing soccer or listening to music, are forbidden.

Al-Shabaab targets the very small and extremely low-profile Christian and Christian convert community. Five Christian converts were reported executed by al-Shabaab in this reporting period. Christians worship secretly in house churches.

5. Sudan

• Population: 36,729,501 (July 2016 est.)

• Religions: Sunni Muslim, very small Christian minority

• Background: Religious freedom conditions in Sudan deteriorated in 2015 as government officials stiffened penalties for apostasy and blasphemy and continued to arrest persons accused of apostasy and Christians.

Article 126 of the Criminal Code makes conversion from Islam a crime punishable by death.

The government continued to apply Shari’ah-based morality provisions of the 1991 Criminal Code and corresponding state-level Public Order laws. Every year, hundreds of Christian and Muslim women are fined or flogged for violating article 152 of the Criminal Code by wearing “indecent” dress.

Since 2011, Sudan’s minority Christian community has endured arrests for proselytization, attacks on religious buildings, closure of churches and Christian educational institutions, and confiscation of religious literature.

6. Libya

• Population: 6,541,948 (July 2015 est.)

• Religions: Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%, Christian 2.7%, Buddhist 0.3%, Hindu <0.1, Jewish <0.1, folk religion <0.1, unafilliated 0.2%, other <0.1 • Background: (USCIRF Press Release 2/15/2015): The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the barbarous murder of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by a Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which brutally beheaded them on camera.

“We grieve for these innocent young men and send our deepest condolences to their families. These men were kidnapped and beheaded solely because they were Coptic Christians. Once again, ISIL shows the world what it is: a barbaric, nihilistic group that wants only to kill and terrorize all who do not adhere to its extremist beliefs. ISIL’s targets of intolerance have included reporters, aid workers, a Jordanian pilot, Muslims who do not share ISIL’s intolerant views, and especially members of minority religious communities, be they Christians, Yazidis, or other religious minorities,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett.

The men reportedly left Egypt in hopes of finding work in Libya, and were kidnapped in separate incidents near Serte in Libya last December and January. In a video broadcast via a website that supports Islamic State, the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were seen being marched to a beach, forced to kneel and then beheaded.

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Unless otherwise stated, sources come from the following:
*U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook
**United States Commission of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State.