Persecution in Nigeria: Boko Haram’s Murderous Crusade Against Christians: “A religious war threatens Nigeria, yet the administration has downplayed the religious roots of the conflict, preferring to emphasize the malign impact of poverty and poor governance,” says Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute. “At a recent Senate hearing, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson made the rather astonishing claim that ‘religion is not the primary driver behind extremist violence in Nigeria.’ He should read the State Department’s own report on religious liberty,” says Bandow. Read more>>

Election of Hard-Line Islamic Governor in Indonesia Followed by Closure of 17 Churches: The election of a hard-line Islamic governor in Indonesia’s Aceh Province last month appears to have opened the way for a crack-down on the minority Christian community. Emboldened by the April 9 election of Zaini Abdullah of the militant Aceh Party, hundreds of Islamists demonstrated on April 30, demanding area church buildings be not only sealed but demolished.  Police Chief Bambang Syafrianto suggested that the Christians be given three days to tear down their church buildings, and that an enforcement team would be formed to demolish them if they failed to do so.  Read more>>

Bhatti Murder Case in Pakistan Increasingly Murky: The investigation into the murder of Pakistan’s only cabinet-level Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, has become mired amid suspicions of a possible cover-up. Lax investigations, a series of freed suspects and lack of coordination across law enforcement organizations have stalled the case. “Shahbaz Bhatti’s murder is no ordinary case,” said Napolean Qayyum, who belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party, as Bhatti did. “He represented the minorities in the highest forums of government, was a prominent member of a minority religious community himself and was very vocal against the blasphemy laws.” Read more>>

Open Doors Applauds New Members of International Religious Freedom Caucus: Sixteen members of Congress have joined the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Caucus in the past several weeks, partially due to the advocacy efforts of Open Doors USA. The caucus was founded in 2006 and is co-chaired by Rep.Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and currently has 66 members. The new members of the caucus include: Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Mike Capuano (D-MA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), James Lankford (R-OK), Tom Minora (R-PA), John Olver (D-MA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Ted Poe (R-TX), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Scott Rigell (R-VA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA). Open Doors is also encouraging Senators to join the IRF Caucus in order to make it a true bicameral endeavor.  We urge you to contact your legislators in Washington and inquire to see if they are members of the IRF Caucus.  If they are not, please ask them to join and if they are already members, please thank them for making international religious freedom a priority. Read more>>

Lawyer of Iranian Pastor on Death Row Faces Prison: The main defense lawyer for Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is appealing a death sentence, may be facing imminent imprisonment for defending the rights of Iranians. Charges against him included “membership of an association seeking the soft overthrow of the government” and “spreading propaganda against the system through interviews with foreign media,” according to a press statement by Amnesty International. Read more>>