11 Nicaraguan pastors and ministry leaders convicted in sham trial; ADF International takes case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Pastors and ministry leaders in Nicaragua facing persecution.

11 pastors, ministry leaders with Puerta de la Montaña, plant of U.S.-based ministry Mountain Gateway, convicted on sham charges of money laundering, sentenced to 15 years in prison & over 80 million dollars in fines per person.

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Germany plans to unveil censorship zones which violate freedom of speech and free assembly

Pavica Vojnovic standing outside of a facility which is inside of a censorship zone.

All of Germany must reject this bill because whether pro-life or not, censorship zones would ensnare everyone

Pavica Vojnovic outside of an abortion facility where censorship zones silence pro-life speech.

The German government is planning to introduce so-called censorship zones in certain locations – just like the UK. These censorship zones around abortion facilities are established to silence the pro-life view. These zones are not “pro-choice”, they’re no-choice.

And their actions deliberately ignore recent rulings by the Federal Administrative Court. Several weeks ago, the federal government approved a draft law on censorship zones to be established in certain locations in front of and around German abortion-related facilities in which certain opinions can no longer be expressed and certain peaceful activities prohibited.

What are censorship zones?

Censorship zones are areas defined by the local administration or even the legislature where specific opinions, actions or gatherings are prohibited. These zones censor certain expressions of opinion, hence the name ‘censorship zone’.

A look at Great Britain shows where restrictions on peaceful prayers can lead. In recent months, several people have been arrested there due to local censorship zones. The arrests occurred because individuals were quietly praying on a public street. The zones there have led to even silent prayer and, thus, thoughts being criminalized. We must not stand for this. Here’s why: 

Censorship zones violate fundamental freedoms

Censorship zones are advanced under the guise of protecting women, but they are levied against peaceful individuals who in no way condone the harassment of women. After all, harassment is already prohibited under German criminal law.

What is most dangerous, however, is the fact that certain opinions are banned because they’re unpopular. Even if we disagree on abortion, we should agree that basic human rights—like free expression and free thought—are too important to throw out the window. 

We all have the basic human right to think, act, and pray in accordance with our convictions.

Only recently, the Federal Administrative Court confirmed the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion of a pro-life prayer group.

They gathered across the street from an abortion facility and quietly prayed. The police did not find harassment while observing the group in Pforzheim.

Similarly in the UK, A pro-life activist is being investigated for a third time for praying silently in a censorship zone.

She had nothing with her, did not prevent women from entering the abortion facility, and did not even speak to anyone. A silent prayer in her mind was enough to bring her to court – a serious violation of freedom of thought.

Censorship zones are clearly having serious consequences for fundamental freedoms in the UK and we cannot let the same thing happen in Germany. 

These zones silence without offering help

Censorship zones do nothing to protect women. Rather, they block women from hearing about the offers of help available to them.

The sad reality is that these zones fail the women who choose abortion out of a sense of helplessness. By banning peaceful offers of help and alternative options, many women will feel even more alone.

Shouldn’t women in crisis pregnancies have access to help and alternative options to abortion?

If the state can ban freedom of expression and assembly in front of certain establishments, why not in other places?

There is no logical endpoint for such censorship

Freedom of expression, assembly, and freedom of religion benefit all people. These fundamental rights cannot be restricted under the pretext of harassment – which is already a criminal offence.

This bill is aimed at silencing pro-life views, to get those who stand up for the lives of the unborn to self-censor and remain silent. That’s why we’re pushing back against these censorial laws – will you help us?

The bill, which was approved by the cabinet on January 24th, 2024, will now be forwarded to the Bundesrat, which can already introduce amendments. This will be followed by the legislative process in the Bundestag, which will end with a vote on the law.

As the legal impact of these zones becomes clear, we must remain committed to defending the basic human right to free expression, including preventing the proliferation of “thought crimes” where people can even be prosecuted for silent prayer.  

Will you stand alongside us for the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly?

We must stand up for our fundamental rights together.

European Parliament “strongly condemns” Christmas Eve massacre of Christians in Nigeria, but blames climate change

Adina Portaru before the European Parliament.

Brussels (8 February 2024) – In an urgency resolution adopted today, the European Parliament “strongly condemns the acts of violence over Christmas targeting Christians” in Nigeria. However, the text does not fully acknowledge the highly detrimental role of Sharia law, Islamic Extremist groups, and the danger of blasphemy accusations but rather elevates “the role of climate change” and “environmental degradation” as root causes.   

During Christmas 2023, at least 195 Christians were murdered by Fulani militants in at least 20 communities across Central Plateau State, Nigeria. More than 300 Christians suffered injuries or lost their homes. There are reports of 8 churches burnt down and 15,000 people internally displaced by the attacks. “We were taken unawares, and those that could run ran into the bush. A good number of those that couldn’t were caught and killed with machetes,” local resident Magit Macham told Reuters. 

While we applaud the European Parliament’s recognition of the horrific Christmas massacre targeting Christians, we are disappointed that the resolution downplays the religious causes of the violence while highlighting issues such as climate change. Climate change does not cause people to massacre whole Christian villages,” said Dr. Georgia Du Plessis, Legal Officer for ADF International, after the adoption.  

Christians in Nigeria are particularly targeted and vulnerable. In 2021, 90% of all Christians worldwide who were killed for their faith were in Nigeria. On average 14 Nigerian Christians die every day. 

MEP: “Insensitive to human suffering when it comes to Christians” 

In a debate preceding the adoption of the resolution, several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) raised concerns about attempts to downplay the role of Islamic extremism and terrorism in the violent attacks and killings.  

MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen (ECR) stated that “saying that it is a mere conflict between farmers and herders fails to acknowledge the other causes. It is Muslim extremists causing death and destruction.”  

MEP György Hölvényi (EPP) said in his address: “Blinded by ideology, some people are totally insensitive to human suffering when it comes to Christians. The timing of the attacks, brutal killings, and  destruction of churches cannot be misinterpreted and can only be understood as the persecution of Christians and we should be able to say so.”  

Supreme Court case of Sufi Muslim supported by ADF International could overturn blasphemy laws 

For several years already, ADF International lawyers have supported the defence of Sufi Muslim Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a young Nigerian musician sentenced to death under the blasphemy law of Kano state in northern Nigeria. Yahaya’s alleged crime involved sending song lyrics on WhatsApp that were deemed blasphemous toward the prophet Mohammed. 

With support from ADF International, Yahaya appealed his case to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and is challenging the constitutionality of Sharia-based blasphemy laws. The case has the potential to overturn the country’s draconian blasphemy law regime in the northern states. Find more information here. 

In April 2023, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the release of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu and urged Nigeria to “repeal the blasphemy laws at federal and state level”. 

In May 2022, Nigerian persecution caught global attention when Christian student Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu was stoned and beaten to death, and her body burnt, by her classmates in Sokoto State after they accused her of blasphemy for thanking Jesus for helping her pass an exam. Another Christian woman, Rhoda Jatau, condemned the violence against Yakubu on social media and subsequently faced death threats and mob violence. ADF International is also supporting Jatau’s defense. Find out more here. 

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