Nepali pastor leaves prison after 2 years for killing a cow

'We will no longer sit and watch as cows are slaughtered in our sacred land': Shrinevasacharya.
We will no longer sit and watch as cows are slaughtered in our sacred land’: Shrinevasacharya. John Hill / Creative Commons

 

A Nepali pastor sentenced to 12 years in prison for slaughtering a cow has been released early after a court declared him not guilty on 17 July.

Reverand Chhedar Lhomi Bhote, 37, served only two years of his sentence.

Bhote was arrested in October 2012 after a Hindu mob attacked and burned down his home in north eastern Nepal, close to the border with Tibet, where he and his wife were ministering to Tibetans . The mob accused him of eating beef, which is taboo in Nepal but not illegal for non-Hindus, and of killing a cow. Intentionally slaughtering a cow, sacred to Nepal’s majority Hindus, is punishable by up to 12 years in prison though the law is rarely enforced.

Pastor 
Chhedar
Bhote
Lhomi
Pastor Chhedar Bhote LhomiVoice of the Martyrs

 

Hindu society is very sensitive as to how other faiths regard their sacred animal and some Hindu groups have recently said that Christians have been encouraging new converts to show disrespect to Hindu symbols, such as the cow; this  is causing anger and accusations of forced conversion in Nepali society.

Figures show that Christianity is one of the fastest growing faiths in a country where more than 75 per cent of the population are Hindu.

A Hindu protest group called Vedic Sanatan Hindu Rastha Nepal recently brought cow slaughter to prominence by carrying out a month-long hunger strike.

It was led by Hindu holy man Yuva Sant Shri Shrinevasacharya who said: ‘Hindus, Hindu gurus, and other organisations should unite to fight against the growing number of crimes against our identity and culture.

‘We will no longer sit aside and watch as cows are slaughtered in this sacred land of our ancestors”.

Hindu groups are linking cow slaughter to faith conversion – both are issues that many Hindus find unacceptable in the Hindu-majority country.

According to Operation World, Nepal’s Christian population is 2.85 per cent, yet it is the rapid growth of Christianity – when contrasted with the declining numbers of Hindus – that is causing a major concern for Hindu leaders.

Nepali
churches
are
showing
substantial
growth.
Nepali churches are showing substantial growth.World Watch Monitor

 

Between the two most recent censuses the Christian population has more than doubled. In 2001 it was 180,000  but by the 2011 census 375,699 identified as Christian.

Missionaries and Christian NGOs are repeatedly accused of promising money and education to lure poor non-Christians into the faith.

Kamal Thapa, the leader of the Hindu nationalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-Nepal), has been vocal about the issue. He recently said that ‘US dollars are being poured into the country to lure an innocent Hindu population to convert to Christianity’. According to Nepali law, while an individual has the right to change their religion and practice the religion they wish, there is a prohibition against attempting to convert people. However the line is blurred.

Yuva Sant Shri Shrinevasacharya insists that Christians, funded by aid agencies, are ‘helping to destroy the legacy of Hinduism in Nepal’.

Accusations of Christian proselytism by have intensified at a time when Nepali Hindus are seeing their country become more secular, which they fear will ‘dilute’ the Hindu population. They are also growing more confident in asserting their authority over Christianity because of the success of Hindu nationalism in neighbouring India, which saw a Hindu led government elected at the elections in May 2014.

Since that election, Nepal’s prime minister, Sushil Koirala has been pressured to heed the country’s Hindu cultural integrity by Narendra Modi, India’s newly elected prime minister who recent visited.

Shri Shrinevasacharya added: ‘So far our protest has been peaceful, but if cow killing and conversion continues we will have to use other means.’

Christian leaders claim that the state has not fully accepted its secular identity and continues to favor Hinduism. They also recount that Christians continue to face persecution in society. In December 2013 a church building and the homes of four Christian converts were set on fire. In April this year Christians and other religious minorities were being asked to ‘reconsider their faith’ ahead of a new scheme requiring all Nepali citizens to register for an identity card.

SOURCE

Egypt Sentences Facebook User to Six Years in Prison for “Liking” Christian Page

Hitting “like” on Facebook has landed a Christian man in Egypt in jail for six years.
 
Kerolos Shawky was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison and fined the equivalent of $840 on charges of blasphemy and contempt of Islam for simply “liking” the Facebook page ‘Knights of the Cross’, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).
 
Rafla Zekry Rafla, a lawyer representing Kerolos, said it was not Shawky’s intention to insult Islam. Rafla says Shawky didn’t have much experience with the Internet and also suffers from poor eyesight. He never had any intention of committing contempt, or even blasphemy.
 
Kerolos was convicted by the Egyptian court of violating Article 98(f) of the Egyptian Penal Code, which prohibits “ridiculing, or insulting heavenly religions or inciting sectarian strife.” Ironically, it was the public accusations against Kerolos which actually incited local violence as Christian shops and homes were vandalized and set afire.
 
His defense team plans to appeal and hopes the conviction will be reviewed before the end of this month, one of his lawyers told ICC.
 
Kerolos’ case and the attacks on Christian-owned property demonstrate the high level of sectarian tensions that continue to be present, said Jay Roddy, researcher with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.
“Shortly before the man’s trial was set to take place, Christian-owned property in the same village was set ablaze in what appears to be a related attack,” Roddy told ICC.
 
This is now the third conviction of a Christian on what should be insignificant charges. 
 
Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The Egyptian legal system appears to have no concern for upholding the rule of law or protecting the fundamental rights of Egyptian citizens. From frivolous convictions on accusations of blasphemy like those brought against Kerolos and Demyana or the conviction of Bishoy, to the cases involving journalists, political dissidents and protestors, fundamental human rights are being trampled. Egypt must quickly abandon the use of sham trials that violate the most basic rights of all citizens, including its Christian minority. The United States should use its role as a key ally and a significant donor of funds to Egypt to ensure that the country is moving to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens.”
 
 
Publication date: June 27, 2014
SOURCE

Iranian Christian Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison Freed

Mostafa Bordbar, 27, has been released after just three months.

An Iranian Christian sentenced to 10 years in prison has been released after three months.

Mostafa Bordbar, 27, was released Nov. 3 from Tehran’s Evin Prison after charges of participating in an “anti-security organization” and “gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security” were overturned.

Bordbar was arrested in December last year during Christmas celebrations with friends and sentenced in July. The Oct. 30 appeals court hearing cleared him of all charges.

Iran has come under increasing pressure from the international community to improve its human rights record, including its number of political prisoners or other prisoners of conscience, such as the more than 40 Christians behind bars.

In September, two Christians were released, a decision welcomed internationally. Mitra Rahmati and Maryam Jalili were nearing the end of their sentences, and were released just ahead of new President Hassan Rouhani’s first address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, took to Twitter on Sept. 18 to hail the release of prisoners from Iran’s jails. “But it’s far from enough,” she wrote. “Those missing or unjustly detained, including Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Bob Levinson, must be returned home.”

Hekmati is awaiting retrial in Iran on espionage charges. Levinson was kidnapped in Iran in 2007 and is believed to remain in government custody. Meanwhile, Abedini, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen and pastor serving eight years in prison for his missionary work, has written to Rouhani asking for justice and freedom.

At least 300 Christians have been arrested in the past three years in Iran, with the most common charges being actions against public security and propaganda against the regime. Many of these Christians were arrested while taking part in “house churches,” small meetings of Christians who gather to worship and pray together.

“In bringing about these charges against Christians, both the government and the judiciary have made an error of law and fact because Christian gatherings either at homes or churches are mainly formed for Christians to worship together and to read and study the Bible, not to change the regime, and they do not have a goal of any political activity. So these are wrong judgments,” human rights lawyer Attieh Fard told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month.

Fard urged Rouhani to make good on his promises to the U.N. in New York by releasing the 42 Christians known to be in jail and the 45 awaiting trial.

Bordbar’s victory in court comes one week after another four Iranian Christians lost their own appeals, having been convicted of similar charges.

c. 2013 World Watch Monitor

Publication date: November 5, 2013