Christians face repression in Egypt and Malaysia, but positive change in Nepal

By Agencies
January 12, 2010

Jerusalem Lutheran Bishop, Munib Younan, has denounced the killing of six Coptic Christians in Egypt and has offered support to the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

"The attack is horrifying and puts fear in the hearts of Christians in Egypt," Younan declared in an 11 January 2009 statement to Ecumenical News International from Beirut, where he is attending the general assembly of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches.

The six Coptic Christians and a Muslim security officer were killed at a church in Nag Hamadi on 6 January, the eve of their Christmas celebration.

Meanwhile, churches in Malaysia were full of worshippers despite attacks against Christian places of worship in recent days in a dispute about the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslim minorities.

"People's faith is greater than what's happening around [them] so they continue to go to church and pray for themselves as well as for the nation," said the Rev Hermen Shastri, the General Secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, on 10 January, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

Shastri said heightened security measures had been taken following the attacks, which came after a court decision that opened the way for non-Muslim minorities to use the word "Allah" in their religious books and publications.

In another part of the world, change is afoot in a more positive direction.

In 1986, the Rev Anthony Sharma was arrested for conducting an Easter service in Nepal, then the only Hindu kingdom in the world, and one where converts were punished. Today, the south Asian state is secular and Christianity is growing, especially in prisons, where some inmates say they are comforted by the message of forgiveness and love brought by Christian ministers.

"Things have changed," says Sharma, who was appointed Nepal's first Roman Catholic bishop by the Vatican in 2007, a year after the fall of the military-backed government of King Gyanendra. This led to the abolition of the monarchy and the end of Hinduism as the state religion.

With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International

Keywords:Nepal | Malaysia | Egypt
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