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”
“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.”
ERITREA CRACKS DOWN ON CHRISTIANS. FEARS CHILDREN COULD FACE FUTURE IN JAIL
Eritrea has now arrested 200 Christians in house-to-house raids, in a tough new crackdown which is tearing children from their parents. Young children and a baby are among those arrested. It’s feared they could spend their childhood in a prison cell. Release International is calling on Eritrea to free the Christians and has launched a campaign calling for concerted prayer for Eritrea’s prisoners of faith. Security forces in Eritrea have been going house-to-house arresting Christians. They have rounded up 177 adults, along with some 33 women and 20 small children. The arrests are continuing and many Christians have gone into hiding. Release International partner Dr Berhane Asmelash says rounding up Christians door-to-door is a new tactic that signals a worsening of the crackdown. He believes the single-party state is taking a tough new line against the church.
‘People used to be arrested for conducting unauthorised meetings, such as Bible studies or prayers. But this is new for us when they go from house to house. They are arresting people for their beliefs, not for their actions. This is getting worse. Many Christians are in hiding. ‘Security forces in different towns went from house to house asking people their religion. If they were outside the state sanctioned Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox faiths, they arrested them. ‘Twelve children were arrested with their parents, and some parents were forced to leave their underage children unattended.’ Children who are too young to be separated from their mothers face being brought up in jail unless their parents are released. They include a two-month old baby.
Dr Asmelash was himself arrested and tortured in what is today called Eritrea. These latest arrests, he said, have brought fear to the Christian community. ‘People are scared.’ In 2002 Eritrea outlawed many Christian denominations and shut down Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Christians who refused to renounce their faith were jailed indefinitely without trial. 173 long-term prisoners of faith remain behind bars in brutal conditions. They include many church leaders. The latest clampdown began in May and has continued into June, as security forces seize Christians for being members of banned denominations. Eritrean Christians around the world are praying and fasting. ‘Eritrea today is like one giant prison where hope has disappeared and where the majority of people are denied simple freedoms, basic human dignity and human rights,’ says Paul Robinson, the CEO of Release International.
‘We are calling for the urgent release of all Christian prisoners of faith in Eritrea, including the 173 who have been detained in appalling conditions for more than 10 years. ‘Release is also asking Christians in the UK and Ireland to download and sign a postcard calling for the prisoners to be set free, and send it to the Eritrean Embassy in London. The postcard urges ‘the immediate and unconditional release of all Christian prisoners of faith, many of whom have now been detained in jail for ten years or more. These prisoners are law-abiding citizens who provide no threat to your government.’ ‘We are asking Eritrea to act compassionately towards these prisoners, many of whom have suffered ill-health while in prison,’ says Paul Robinson. ‘And we are asking Christians here to make a pledge to pray for Eritrea’s suffering prisoners of faith for 173 days,’ he adds.
Qatar is a small headland on the Arabian Peninsula, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the richest Gulf Coast nation, home of Al Jazeera, which has been accused of financially backing terrorists groups/ It is supported by the region’s pariah nations of Turkey and Iran, and is a supporter of the Arab Spring movement. On 5 June the GCC, composed of the energy-rich Gulf monarchies Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar that led to panic. Many airlines ceased travel to or through Qatar. Food markets were emptied because the country relies on Turkey and Iran for 90% of its food. Egyptians, Saudis and other Gulf Coast nationals living and doing business in Qatar face diplomatic chaos. Families are torn apart. To lift the embargo, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum. These demands included:
. Closing broadcaster Al Jazeera
. Drastically scaling back cooperation with Iran
. Removing Turkish troops from Qatar
. Ceasing contact or support for terrorist organizations
Virtually all nations believe the 13 demands are unrealistic and not possible to be complied with in a brief period of time. At the same time most of those nations do agree with the attempt to thwart support/funding of terrorism. Qatar’s support from Iran and Turkey is seen as dangerous. On the other hand, Qatar’s UN ambassador counters that “the blockade they have imposed is illegal. They used the terrorism card as a way of attracting attention. But the main objectives are more about criticizing our media, Al Jazeera, and our openness.” Two days before the crisis arose and countries severed ties with Qatar, a Christian group of workers had gathered to pray. Not sure how they should proceed, the Holy Spirit led them to pray for international relations surrounding Qatar. Amazingly, God led His people to pray and seek God’s wisdom and purpose for Qatar ahead of the emergency. God is in control.
Please pray for:
* wiser heads to advise all parties on a reasonable compromise on the ultimatums that can expect compliance. Pray too for Qatari officials to recognize their guilt in the complicity and support of terrorism as an unacceptable way to effect change in the region.
* Qatar to recognize its importance and regional power and use it to promote peaceful resolutions and support of human rights. Please also pray for Qatar to remain an open nation for the assembly of Christians, but that its non-proselytizing restriction would be changed.
* Kuwait and Oman who have not joined the Saudi-led diplomatic and trade sanctions against Qatar may be used to root out terrorism and be peacemakers in the region.
PASTORS IN TEXAS SAY NO TO RADICAL LGBT PROGRAM IN SCHOOLS
A group of Texas pastors said “no” to a school superintendent after he sought to add an LGBT history curriculum in area schools, telling him that what might pass in San Francisco won’t go over in Houston. Rev. Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC), said that in Texas people still believe children “are to be protected, nurtured, and educated, not used as a social experiment of a radical political agenda.” “Not in our city and not our children,” Rev. Welch said in a statement. Previously the former mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, who is openly gay, had attempted to introduce the same philosophy. The pastor’s Council had gone up against her over “transgender rights” legislation that would have allowed men and women to access each other’s restrooms. Parker had demanded that pastors actively opposing the bill turn over their sermons to her for review during the battle.
Voters repealed the legislation in November 2015 and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Sermon Protection Act guarding pastors’ free speech in May. Another bill requiring Texans identifying as “transgender” to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender listed on their birth certificate failed earlier this year and is set for reconsideration in a 30-day special session beginning July 18. The School Superintendent in question was previously deputy superintendent and then superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District from 2009 until last year before coming to Houston. While in California, he oversaw a number of schools that added LGBTQ curriculum. California’s State Board of Education unanimously voted to add LGBTQ studies to schools’ required history curriculum last year. This history was not lost on Rev. Welch and his pastors’ group.
“This man is from San Francisco, where this kind of propaganda attempts to equate sexual lifestyles, gender confusion, and hostility toward the traditional family has become the norm,” Rev. Welch stated. “The HISD Board of Trustees needs to remind him that this is Texas. Rev. Welch also pointed out in his statement that the plan came from the mission of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to “create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” The pastor said involvement of GLSEN “leads toward blatant advocacy against traditional marriage and family comprised of a married mother and father raising children in a happy, healthy home.” “The GLSEN is being used to train teachers,” Rev. Welch added, “which is the equivalent of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion perpetrator, teaching sex education in schools.”
STAKES ARE HIGH IN TODAYS INDIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Presidential candidates include Mr. Ram Nath Kovind for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Mrs. Meia Kumar for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). India’s politics are complicated by caste allegiances, racial and religious prejudices, and by its cultural identity. Is to be Indian to be Hindu? Many want to see India declared a Rashtra, a Hindu state. The constitution outlawed the caste system, but it is very much alive. It also guarantees religious freedom, but increasing persecution threatens that liberty. On 17 July Indians will elect a new president. Both of the leading candidates, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind and Mrs. Meira Kumar are Dalits (former untouchable caste). Mr. Kovind is anti-Christian and anti-Muslim. Mrs. Meira is said to “represent the values that bind India as a nation.”
Prime Minister Modi is strongly in favour of establishing India as a Hindu nation. The odds are slightly in favour of Mr. Kovind, but Mrs. Meira is an experienced politician and is vowing to uphold India’s democratic government and guarantee freedom of speech. She has been very vocal about preserving unity and “voting one’s conscience.” There is a very real danger that Christians could be marginalized by the outcome of this election. A local Indian Christian pastor is urging Christians reading this prayer alert to pray for India in the ways outlined below.
Please pray for:
* the binding of demonic spirits that are forcing through anti-conversion laws and are trying to wipe out the Christian presence in India.
* our Sovereign God Who appoints and deposes to choose a person of integrity, honour, and justice as President of India. Pray that the new president loves and is concerned about all the people living in India.
* the spirit of confusion to be bound and for the truth to reign so that God’s perfect plan for India will prevail
PRESIDENT TRUMP DEFENDS FAITH, FAMILY AND FREEDOM IN STRONG POLAND SPEECH
President Trump recently delivered a powerful speech in Poland, praising Poles for their courage throughout history’s “dark days.” “Your nation is great because your spirit is great and strong,” Trump said. “The story of Poland is the story of a people who have never lost hope, who have never been broken, and who have never forgotten who they are.” He said Poland is the “soul of Europe” as he addressed thousands in Warsaw, delivering a major speech at the Warsaw Uprising memorial in Krasinskich Square. That memorial is the site of a monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis. “For two centuries, Poland suffered constant and brutal attacks but while Poland could be invaded and occupied and its borders even erased from the map, it could never be erased from history or from your hearts. In those dark days, you have lost your land but you never lost your pride,” Trump said.
Trump went on to praise the Poles who rose up against communism and declared “We want God!” The president also directly confronted modern threats to Poland and the West, urging the leaders of Russia to stop their aggressive actions. And he spoke about the ongoing battle against radical Islamic terrorists and other enemies who threaten freedom. “We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and any form of ideological support. While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism.” “We must work together to counter forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are,” he said.