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Pope, on Christmas Eve, says faith demands respect of immigrants

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis strongly defended immigrants at his Christmas Eve Mass on Sunday, comparing them to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and saying faith demands that foreigners be welcomed. Francis, celebrating his fifth Christmas as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, led a solemn Mass for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica while many others followed the service from the square outside. Security was stepped up, with participants checked as they approached St.…

Christian community celebrates Christmas amid tight security

KARACHI: Christmas services and other celebrations are being held across the country today as the Christian community celebrates the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ amidst tight security. Security has been stepped up outside churches in the wake of a terrorist attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church located on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road that killed 10 people and wounded more than 50. As the day dawned, a large number of congregants, dressed in their finest, poured in churches for special services. Special prayers…

US college football players charged in anti-Muslim beating

CHICAGO: Five football players at a private US Christian college have been charged in connection with a hazing incident that allegedly included anti-Muslim taunts and left a student with injuries requiring surgeries. The football players at Wheaton College, located in a Chicago suburb, were charged with aggravated battery, unlawful restraint and mob action, the prosecutor's office said on Tuesday. Almost all of the charges are felonies, with the most serious carrying a sentence of two to five years in prison, DuPage…

Christian man sentenced to death over blasphemous WhatsApp text

LAHORE: A Christian man in Lahore has been sentenced to death for blasphemy after he sent a Muslim friend a poem on WhatsApp that insulted Islam, a lawyer said Friday. The accused was charged in July last year after his friend, Yasir Bashir, complained to police that he received a poem on the messaging app that was derogatory toward the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and other holy figures. The accused “was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday on blasphemy charges,” defence lawyer Anjum Wakeel told AFP, alleging…

This ‘unique celebration’ of a goal is going viral for a reason

JAKARTA: Three Indonesian football players of different faiths created a political statement without words demonstrating religious diversity and inclusion after a unique goal celebration. Bali United’s Muslim striker Miftahul Hamdi, Christian forward Yabes Roni, and Hindu defender Ngurah Nanak lined up in a row to celebrate Yabes’s second goal of the team’s 3-0 win last month against Borneo FC by demonstrating the three religion’s prayer positions. A photo of the celebration taken by photographer Miftahuddin Halim…

Jakarta’s governor jailed for two years for blasphemy

JAKARTA: Jakarta's governor was jailed for two years Tuesday after being found guilty of blasphemy, in a shock decision that has stoked concerns over rising religious intolerance in the Muslim-majority nation. Protesters outside the Jakarta court cheered and shouted "God is greatest!" as news came through that Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was to be sent to prison, a surprisingly harsh punishment after prosecutors recommended only probation. Purnama looked calm when the verdict was announced and said he would appeal, as some…

National holiday announced on Easter for Christian community

ISLAMABAD: The government has announced an optional holiday on Monday April 17, 2017 for the Christian community on the occasion of Easter. A statement from the Ministry of Interior said that Monday will be an optional holiday across the country for the Christian community on account of Easter on special instructions of the prime minister. The holiday is granted on Monday as the event of Easter is observed on Sunday. The holiday is for all members of the Christian community working in public and private institutions.…

At least 25 dead in blast at Cairo church

CAIRO: A bombing in a Cairo church on Sunday near the headquarters of the Coptic pope killed at least 25 people, state media reported. It was the deadliest suspected attack on the country's beleaguered Christian minority in recent memory. The explosion ripped through the church around 10:00 am (0800 GMT), Egyptian security officials said, shattering its windows. State television cited a security official as saying a bomb made of TNT appeared to have been the cause of the explosion. Ambulances lined up outside the…