Pope’s defence of Christians sparks new row with Islam

Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

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By Peter Mayer Jan 12, 2011, 13:57 GMT

Vatican City – Repeated calls by Pope Benedict XVI in favour of religious freedom, especially for Christians living in Muslim– majority nations, are triggering angry responses, including from Egypt which is widely regarded as a moderate Muslim state.

Benedict’s appeals for a stop to anti-Christian persecution culminated this week in his annual speech to ambassadors of the 178 states that have diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

In what Vatican observers described as a ‘very focused’ address, the pontiff condemned assaults against Christians, citing specific examples in Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and China.

He also denounced the growing ‘marginalisation’ of Christianity in secular Europe.

The speech echoed an earlier message on New Year’s Day by the pontiff, in which he also called for greater protection of Christians around the world. Continue reading

Over 300 arrested from Christian-Muslim unrest in Nigeria – report

Political map of the 36 States of Nigeria
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Jan 26, 2010, 10:24 GMT

Nairobi/Abuja – Nigerian police have arrested over 300 suspects in the wake of last week’s bloody clashes between Christians and Muslims in the city of Jos, The Punch newspaper reported Tuesday.

The paper cited a police spokesman in reporting the figure, with 139 of those arrested having been taken to the capital Abuja. Continue reading