With the strong backing of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, Canada’s Parliament has passed a motion 201 to 91 that critics say singles out Islam for special protection. As was expected, the motion was passed along party lines, with the Liberals and New Democrats supporting it, while the majority of Conservatives opposed it. Two Conservative MPs who supported the measure were PC party-leader candidate Michael Chong and Bruce Stanton. Tabled by Muslim liberal MP Iqra Khalid, M-103 urges the federal government to “condemn Islamophobia” and to “develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.” The term “Islamophobia” is nowhere defined in the motion.
MPs passed the bill despite a new Angus Reid poll showing that 71 percent of Canadians would not have voted for the measure. The poll found that “if Canadians and not their elected representatives were voting, M-103 would fail” with 42 percent voting against it and 29 percent abstaining. The poll found that only 29 percent would vote in favour. The vote of each MP was formally recorded after about 20 Conservative MPs stood in the House of Commons to demand accountability. Motions are usually determined by which side has the loudest vocal “yes” or “no” response. While the motion does not change existing laws or create new ones, it empowers a committee to study the issue of “eliminating Islamophobia” and the federal government to collect data on Islamic ‘hate crimes’ for further study.
A Conservative alternative to the motion that condemned racism and discrimination against Muslims, Jews, Christians, and other religious groups without including the word “Islamophobia”, was defeated by the Liberals in February. Liberals argued at that time that the Tories were simply trying to “water down” the very purpose of M-103. A number of Conservatives running for the party’s leadership have been outspoken about the problems they see in M-103. Brad Trost said he could not support the motion because it “will only serve to strengthen extremist elements within the Muslim community itself that seek to preserve and promote their own form of hate and intolerance.” He added that any “serious plan to combat religious discrimination in Canada should include all faith groups, including Christians and Jews.”
Pierre Lemieux said that Canadians should be wary of the language in the motion. “Do you have a valid concern about Islam? Do you disagree with Sharia Law? Uneasy about radical Islamic terrorism? The Liberals may very well classify you as Islamophobic,” he wrote in an email to supporters. Lemieux, who called on supporters to pressure MPs to force a recorded vote on M-103, called it a “great day for accountability and for freedom of speech in Canada” when almost two dozen MPs stood up to demand such accountability. Leadership contender Andrew Scheer also added his voice of opposition to the motion shortly before the vote, saying that it “could be interpreted as a step towards stifling free speech and legitimate criticism”of Islam.
“M-103 is not inclusive. It singles out just one faith. I believe that all religions deserve the same level of respect and protection,” he wrote in an email to supporters. “I will be voting against it because I believe in Freedom of Speech,” he wrote. Conservative leadership contenders Maxime Bernier, Kellie Leitch, and Lisa Raitt have also raised concerns about the motion. Michael Chong is the only PC candidate who publicly committed to voting in favour of the motion. Critics say that the motion will have the effect of chilling free speech across the country, especially from those criticizing the radical elements of Islam that lead to terrorism in the name of “Jihad,” Holy War.
Columnist Lorne Gunter wrote in Edmonton Sun: “While purporting to oppose all forms of religious discrimination, the only form specifically mentioned is Islamophobia. And no definition of Islamophobia is given, leaving the door wide open to the broadest possible interpretations, including public statements condemning radical Islamic terrorism and even academic papers questioning whether Islam truly is a religion of peace.” Montreal physician Sherif Emil wrote in a column in the Montreal Gazette that “Canadians, regardless of their political affiliation, should stand firmly against the motion.” “We are living in an age where depraved terrorist armies, who cite a unifying explanation for their actions in Islamic texts and doctrine, occupy large swaths of entire nations.
Even if we dismiss these hundreds of thousands of extremists, and instead examine mainstream Islamic societies, what do we find? We find nation after nation where apostasy is a crime punishable by death, indigenous minorities are robbed of equal citizenship and religious dissent is considered treason. “A charge of Islamophobia is used to silence, marginalize and imprison the few liberal Muslim thinkers who are attempting to reform Islam from within,” he wrote. “Fear of these existing realities and open discussion of their roots and implications is not irrational. If Canada joins this Islamophobia witch hunt, it will be complicit in the crimes committed in the name of preventing Islamophobia,” he added.
Some critics see the motion as the first step in making Canada into an Islamist-favouring nation where Shariah law is given priority over secular state laws. A petition on CitizenGo asking MPs to stop the “restrictive ‘anti-blasphemy'” motion has been signed by 79,500 people. “This motion will encourage legislation that would criminalize speech deemed ‘islamophobic’ and lay the groundwork for imposing what is essentially a Sharia anti-blasphemy law on all of Canada,” the petition states. “If that happens, criticism of Islam would constitute a speech crime in Canada,” it states, adding that this “kind of content-based, viewpoint-discriminatory censorship is unacceptable in a Western liberal democracy.”
DESPITE PERSECUTION CHRISTIANITY IS EXPLODING IN BANGLADESH
According to official estimates, the religious composition of Bangladesh is 89.1% Muslim, 10% Hindi, with less than 1% Christian in a nation of over 156 million people. Unofficially, Christianity is much larger and growing, especially in the rural areas. Is the fourth largest Muslim nation in the world, and the place of many terrorist activities, on the path to becoming a peaceful Christian nation? On a recent fact finding trip to Bangladesh, Christian Freedom International (CFI) President Jim Jacobson interviewed scores of indigenous Christian pastors, street evangelists, missionaries and converts to Christianity. According to them, Christianity is on the increase and the growth is a cause of concern for the Muslim majority. As a result, persecution is on the increase against the fast growing, mostly underground Christian church.
Official reports on religious composition only count “traditional Christians,” i.e. people who are born into the Christian faith and attend government approved churches. But “converts,” those who change their religion from Islam to Christianity are not counted and no surveys have been made. The consensus among “converts” is that Christians in Bangladesh make up of at least 10% of the population and is growing more every day. Some indigenous evangelists tell CFI they believe that Bangladesh will become a Christian nation in their lifetimes. If the 10% number is correct, there are at least 15,600,000 Christians in this Muslim majority nation. Evidence seems to support the claims.
Pastor Khaleque, 60, a former Muslim and now a Christian street pastor who works among the hill tribes, in the northeast part of Bangladesh, told CFI, “In the last 12 months, more than 20,000 Muslims have converted to Christianity. More than 20,000 have converted and this is becoming a real problem for the Muslims.” Khaleque faces many difficulties, has been beaten several times, and must pay bribes to police to continue his work. Pastor Rafiqul Islam, who after converting to Christianity goes by the name Rafiqul, pastors a church of 25 converts in the village Bhadai Bangladesh. He meets in a house church. Rafiqul converted in 2007. “I converted to get eternal life in Jesus Christ.” After Rafiqul converted, his rickshaw shop and tea business were taken away from him and he was disowned by his family.
Shortly after converting to Christianity, he shared the gospel with friends. Two Imams caught him talking about Christianity in the market and attacked him. The Imams beat him and tied him with ropes in front of a nearby Mosque. His sons ransomed him only after they agreed that they would force him to reconvert to Islam. After his sons failed to bring him back to the Muslim religion, they beat their father nearly to death, took all his possessions and left him to die. Among pastoring a church for converts, he works as an evangelist, risking his life each day. Rafiqul told CFI, “Many Muslims are converting.” In Rafiqul’s village of Bhadai, he has seen more than 700 Muslims convert to Christianity in the past 2 years. He told CFI, “More people are converting every day. Although persecuted, we are preaching the Good News.”
CFI President Jim Jacobson visited with Christians in Bangladesh. Pastor Harun-Or-Rashid, 36, a Muslim convert to Christianity, said he converted when in 2001. He now pastors a church for 36 converts in his village of Bahgobannagar. He told CFI that his church is growing. “More converts are coming to his church. In my district more than 6,000 have converted from 1991 until now,” he told CFI. Pastor Rashid said he is targeted for assassination by IS. He told CFI, “Of course I am afraid, but when I think about my spiritual life I am not afraid. We continue to preach no matter what.” Lovelu-Sadik Lebio , 32, who converted to Christianity in 2004, said he became a Christian after reading a leaflet. The leaflet was titled, “Hope for the Hopeless,” and included many verses from the Bible, including Acts10:43.
Following his conversion his family disowned him, his wife left him, and he lost his job. He met another convert who helped him and then he later became a pastor and street evangelist. Lebio has 52 converts in his main house church. He also pastors three other smaller house churches. Babul, 22, a Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2013, worked as a day labourer. He met some converts to Christianity and learned about Christ. As a result, he accepted Christ as his Saviour. Following his conversion, Babul’s life was threatened and he was disowned by his family. He had to go into hiding in the jungle to survive. After 8 months of living in the jungle, some Christian converts helped him. He is now a “street preacher” and takes many risks to share the gospel. He has been beaten numerous times but sees it as a badge of honour.
Babul told CFI, “Young people, are converting. Many more are interested in Christ, especially young people. But they think about the cost of converting and it is high because they have to leave everything. But many are interested in Christ.” Bakar, a Christian convert told CFI, “Christianity is growing in Bangladesh. The next generation is becoming Christian. We believe Bangladesh will become a Christian nation one day. Islam has no mercy, no compassion, no love. It has nothing to offer. Christianity offers the assurance of eternal life, it offers hope.” Despite reports to the contrary, Christianity is growing around the world, especially in nations where Christians face persecution. CFI has worked in Bangladesh for many years and is dedicated to promoting religious liberty and helping persecuted Christians around the world.
HOMOSEXUAL ATTORNEY SAYS DISNEY GOES TOO FAR IN PUSHING LGBT AGENDA
A Mississippi attorney who identifies as a homosexual is objecting to the “homosexual” content in Disney’s live remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” citing children should not be exposed to adult topics that seek to destroy their innocence, according to the Christian News Network. In an Orlando Sentinel column, Joseph R. Murray said the company is straying away from Walt Disney’s original vision to “entertain children” and is now pushing a political agenda. “The vision for Walt’s world was clear: Entertain children. Disney characters were about hope, optimism and, above all else, making sure children were able to enjoy their innocence for as long as the outside world would permit. And Disney understood that part of its mission was to provide a buffer for as long as possible,” he wrote.
“Somewhere along the line, Disney went off course,” he continued. “No longer did it see itself as a defender of children’s innocence. Instead, it saw itself as a conduit to social change. Walt Disney became Harvey Milk.” He pointed to a recent Disney episode, “Star vs. the Forces of Evil,” where cartoon characters kiss each other at a boy band concert. Some of the characters can be seen kissing persons of the same sex. He said content like that was okay for adult shows like ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder”, but not okay for a kid’s TV show. “Prime-time network television is geared for an adult audience; one that understands the world we live in. Adults have long lost their innocence.
Whether it be sex, drugs or violence, many of us have had our eyes open to the hardships of the world. We lost our innocence when we grew out of adolescence, but do we really want our kids to lose theirs in adolescence?” he asked. While it is true that Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action movie rather than an animation, do we really think it will not attract young kids? Condon is betting it does,” Murray wrote. Bill Condon told the magazine that the character LeFou will have an “exclusive homosexual moment.” “By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly homosexual scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural, and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay,” Condon said.
TURKISH REFERENDUM LOOMS LARGE FOR COUNTRY’S FUTURE
Turkish citizens go to the polls on April 16 to vote on accepting a constitutional amendment that would give President Erdogan virtually dictatorial powers. He could dissolve parliament, appoint government officials, issue decrees and appoint half of the members of the highest judicial body. Already since last July’s failed coup, he has purged judicial, governmental, media, and educational positions. Thousands linger in prisons without trials and with uncertain futures. The purge has been Erdogan’s opportunity to get rid of enemies and political opponents. Both supporters and opponents of the amendment want a strong Turkey. The question is whether a parliamentary government or a presidential one is better.
Erdogan has specifically targeted Kurdish politicians. The Kurds make up 20 percent of Turkey’s population but have had little voice in its affairs. He needs the votes of Turks living in Europe, especially Germany and Austria that have sizeable Turkish populations. Campaigning there has caused controversy. Critics accuse him of using free speech in Germany while denying it in Turkey. “The president wants to use the freedoms of western democracy to further consolidate his anti-democratic powers at home.” Without a free press in Turkey, information is limited and mostly biased.
Please pray for:
* the truth about what the amendment means and its dangers to a free democracy in Turkey will reach Turkish voters through social media and other media still able to communicate, prior to the referendum. Pray also that Turkish citizens in Europe would have access to the truth about the amendment and vote wisely
* the thousands who are jailed unjustly and indefinitely to be treated humanely and have opportunities to communicate with their loved ones, have legal counsel, and have a fair and unbiased trial.
* those who oppose the amendment to have the courage to speak out, vote and make the difference. Pray Turkish citizens will understand what is at stake for the future of their democracy. Ask God to reveal every hidden and wicked plan, plot or scheme that Satan is devising to bring the Turkish people into bondage.
The war in Syria has caused the largest displacement crisis in the world. Right now over 13 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Families often flee their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They have no food, clean water, sanitation, medicine or place to call home. But in the midst of this, God is still at work. Khaled’s family had to flee their home in Damascus in 2011. Khaled has to look after his wife, six children and his two widowed sisters. Open Doors and our long term partners were able to give a food pack to his family every month. It has changed his view of Christianity. “I thank the pastor for thinking of me to give me this food parcel. In this church we found mercy and love. I consider the Christians my friends and I try to tell my other friends not to listen to wrong teaching about them.” Khaled has decided to put his faith in Jesus and now attends church and teaches his family about Jesus.
* for a ceasefire and an end to the conflict.
* for healing from trauma and that families will be able to return home.
PASTOR FINDS MASSIVE RAW DIAMOND BUT GIVES IT AWAY
Pastor Emmanuel Momoh discovered a 706-carat diamond worth millions of dollars near one of his churches in Sierra Leone’s mining communities. Analysts say it is the 13th largest diamond to ever be pulled from the ground. While the massive stone could have immediately made Pastor Momoh a wealthy man, he decided to give the diamond away in hopes that the proceeds could help his impoverished country. “I believe the government can do more, especially at a time when the country is undergoing some economic challenges,” he said. President Bai Koroma expressed gratitude for the pastor’s generous heart and called the diamond “a gift from God.” The uncut diamond is now in the country’s central bank where it will be auctioned off for what could be tens of millions of dollars.