World News in Brief

Anger greets release of Christian-killers in Turkey

Christians in Turkey have been left outraged after five men convicted of the torture and murder of three Christians walked free from court.

After a legal battle of nine years, it appeared that justice had been served for Ugur Yuksel and Necati Aydin, Muslim converts to Christianity, and German national Tilmann Geske, when a judge handed down life sentences with no possibility of parole to the men charged with engaging in a sustained attack involving torture and the ultimate murders of the three. However, after sentence was passed, a review of the case was announced for a higher court, and the five, Salih Gurler, Cuma Ozdemir, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker, and Emre Gunaydin, walked free.

Voicing disappointment, Pastor Ihsan Ozbek, chair of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, said: “The legal process will continue as the case passes to the Regional Administrative Court, and then will go to the Supreme Court. This process can take years, and the killers of our brothers brutally murdered can move around freely for years to come. The continuous postponement of the punishment they deserve severely wounds confidence in justice.”


Papal cars to be auctioned

Three cars used by Pope Francis during his July trip to Poland are to be auctioned off to raise funds for Syrian refugees, Associated Press has reported. 

The three Volkswagen Gold vehicles are identical except for their number plates: K1 POPE, K2 POPE, K3 POPE. The auction has been organised by the Kraków branch of Caritas which values each car at €25,000 and will sell each to the highest bidder online to October 9. The monies raised will be used by Caritas to fund a mobile clinic for Syrian refugees in Lebanon as well as funding a shelter for elderly people in Poland.


Church leaders in Pakistan back police reform call

Church leaders in Pakistan have voiced their backing for calls from Human Rights Watch for reform of the country’s police force, amid claims of torture in custody and extrajudicial killings.

The calls come after the international rights watchdog released a report on policing in three provinces – Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan – which detailed testimonies from 30 police officers, some 50 victims of abuses while in custody, as well as relatives of those who have suffered at the hands of the police. The 102-page report found that religious minorities, together with Afghan refugees and the landless are at particular risk.

Among those echoing the Human Rights Watch call for immediate reform of policing was Catholic Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad and head of the Catholic bishop’s National Commission for Justice and Peace, who said:”People must be treated according to the law. Our police stations are also plagued by the social attitude of the powerful suppressing the weak. Nobody is above the law, not even police.”

The Human Rights Watch report can be found at:


Iraqi parliament rejects Nineveh ‘safe haven’ plan

Iraq’s parliament has dealt a blow to aspirations for the Nineveh Plain region to become a safe haven for Christians.

On September 26, members voted on a motion which sought change the legal status of Nineveh, but despite having broad support across Sunni and Shia Muslim groupings, the plan was struck down as unconstitutional. Observers to the vote have speculated that the parliament is determined both to await the outcome of the fight against so-called Islamic State before entertaining restructuring ideas and to thwart any influence by foreign powers in Iraq’s affairs under the guise of helping Christians.


Saudi Arabia deports Christians 

Saudi Arabia has deported 27 Christians for celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Despite an undertaking in 2006 that the state would not interfere in the private worship by non-Muslims, police raided a house where the Christians, all Lebanese Maronites, were gathered to mark the Assumption and arrested all, including children. Authorities subsequently ordered the  removal of the group for engaging in “unIslamic prayer”. The Christians’ defence that no insult to Islam could be caused as the Koran lauds the Virgin Mary was ignored.