Well worth the watch
Iran’s parliament has passed the death penalty for apostasy, which is viewed in that country as converting to any other faith than Islam.
Thousands of Iranians have been converting to Christianity, and the underground church is thriving, according to reports. But other Iranians are returning to Zoroastrianism, which was the dominant religion in Iran at one time. Jonathan Rocho, with International Christian Concern (ICC), explains.
“We, as a Christian organization, are very much concerned about this because this means many Christians who converted from Islam are going to face death, simply because of their decision to follow Jesus Christ,” Rocho laments.
He says Iranians are questioning the Muslim faith after living under the regime, which has been dominated by the religion since the revolution in the 1970s. “They have not seen any change in their lives,” Rocho adds. “There is even more repression, more problems going on in the country, so they are very much confused about the Islamic faith.”
Already, two Christian converts accused of apostasy have been given the death penalty. Since Iran does not easily succumb to international pressure, Rocho urges people to pray.
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One very popular online myth and urban legend is that of Islam being the fastest growing religion in the world. I have spent some time examining the sources, especially those shown by Islamic groups and websites to prove the claim. However, my conclusions using their own and independently verifiable sources is something very different to this claim.
With Islam it seems to be – if you repeat a lie enough times it will be believed.
Another notable examples of this:
Neil Armstrong – first man to walk on the moon.
A few years ago some Muslims wishing to gain converts created another story for proselytization purposes. One of them includes Neil Armstrong. The myth as propagated by scores of Islamic websites is that while on the moon Neil and others heard the Islamic call to prayer. While visiting Egypt he again heard this same call to prayer and immediately converted to Islam saying that it was the same call to prayer he heard on the moon. (Another myth goes that he also saw the Qur’an floating around on the moon).
To back up this ‘creative truth’ Muslims have also invented fake transcripts and countless other documents including fake references to Neil’s biography. However, the facts of the matter according to Neil Armstrong himself:
1) He did not hear the call to prayer on the moon
2) He did not convert to Islam
He makes reference to this countless times and the US State Department also released a memo to embassies worldwide informing them that Neil was not interested in hosting or being a guest to Islamic events and that he has not nor has intentions of converting to Islam.
Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I found a very good article explaining why Islam is not the fastest growing religion in the world and I will copy from it.
ConclusionFrom the statistics available we can cleary see that the fastest growing religion in the world in real terms is Christianity. Where Islam gains 23 Million new adherents annually, Christianity gained 30 Million new adherents in that same period. Thus, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world.In terms of the question of gaining the most religions by conversions, again that title goes to Christianity. By converisons from other religions, Christianity tends to be the most effective by a long shot with over 2 Million conversions followed by the 800,000 conversions recorded by Islam in that period.
Additional Information – Dispelling the MythsClaims:
1. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. FALSEIslam is neither the fastest growing religion in the world by precentage growth or real person growth.2. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in the world. FALSE
Although Buddhism is emerging in the Western world it is not the fastest growing religion in the world.3. The world is converting to Islam faster than any other religion. FALSEIn terms of conversions Islam performs very poorly. The growth of Islam is attributed to higher birth rates in areas where it is dominant.4. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world. TRUEBy real term growth, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world.
Misleading Sources ExplainedCurrently, many Muslim websites spread the claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. These websites usually provide no explanation to these claims or occasioanlly provide loose and unveriifiable media quotes.1. CNN Wolrd News Article: “Fast-growing Islam winning converts in Western world“This source provides no statistical evidence to the claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. The only allusion to the claim is “The second-largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam is also the fastest-growing religion.” However, the data proves this claim to be wrong and as a media quote it holds no evidential weight.2. ABC NEWS QuoteAs the quote and citation appears on various sites: “Already more than a billion-people strong, Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion”. [ABCNEWS, Abcnews.com]
No such quote exists today on the abcnews.com website.3. 60 Minutes QuoteAs the quote appears and is cited: “The Religion of Islam is growing faster than any other religion in the world.” [MIKE WALLACE, 60 MINUTES]No evidence is provided to support the claim and it is merely a media quote. Again, no reason for this quote to be taken seriously in determining the fastest growing religion.4. Islamicweb.com estimated that in 2000 there would be 1.9Billion Muslims in the worldFalse claims like this are one of the reasons why Islam is believed to be the fastest growing religion in the world. The facts of the matter is that the most liberal estimated of the amount of Muslims in 2000 was 1.1-1.2 Billion. Today the world population of Muslims is only at 1.3 Billion.5. Arabnews article: Islam ‘ fastest growing faith in Australia (Appearing on islamawareness.net)
Although the article is named and used to claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Australia, the article itself paints no such picture. The article states that, “Today, Islam is one of the fastest growing faiths in Australia” and makes no claim to it being the fastest growing religion in Australia. Although statistics are provided they do not lead to the conclusion that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Australia as the title claims.6. ABC Transcript: “Fastest-Growing Religion Often Misunderstood” (Appearing on islamawareness.net)This article never states that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world nor does it provide evidence alluding to such a claim.7. People’s Daily Online: OIC official: “Islam shows fastest growing religion on earth”Other than a representative of Organization of Islamic Conference allegedly making the claim, a quote nor any proof is brought up.
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There can hardly be a more graphic illustration of Britain’s helter-skelter slide into dhimmitude that this story:
Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible extracts by police because they were in a Muslim area, it was claimed yesterday. They say they were told by a Muslim police community support officer that they could not preach there and that attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity was a hate crime.
The community officer is also said to have told the two men: ‘You have been warned. If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned.’ A police constable who was present during the incident in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham is also alleged to have told the preachers not to return to the district.
The noteworthy point about this incident is that it was a Muslim police ancillary officer who was involved. He did not uphold the law of the land, which gives people the freedom to say in public whatever they want within the law. Instead he upheld the Islamist principle that this particular area of an English city was a Muslim area, within which it was not permissible to do anything contrary to Muslim principles such as preach Christianity.
When the Bishop of Rochester recently warned that Britain was developing Muslim no-go areas, he was denounced the length and breadth of the establishment, with government ministers and bishops falling over each other to declare that they did not recognise the country he was describing. ‘There are no no-go areas in Britain’ they all declared. Well, here it is, in glowing technicolour and flashing lights, in Alum Rock Birmingham. What are they all saying now, those government ministers and bishops of the Church of England, to a situation where in the heart of England a British police support officer, employed by the British state to enforce the law of England, aggressively prevents Christians from preaching the established faith of England on the grounds that this is now a ‘hate crime’?
This is not a one-off. Alert readers will note that it was the West Midlands police force which tried to prosecute the Dispatches TV programme for revealing the true ‘hate crime’ in Britain’s so-called moderate mosques which preach hatred of the west and sedition. This in turn is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg. Up and down the country, police forces led by politically correct imbeciles are recruiting large numbers of Muslims, mainly as police community support officers like the officer in Alum Rock, in order to ‘build bridges’ with the Muslim community, and with minimal or non-existent security vetting in case they upset or offend the said Muslim community. The result is, among other things, the development of Muslim no-go areas enforced by British police officers.
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A draft Iranian law would mandate the death penalty for apostasy
By Anuj Chopra
Posted May 8, 2008
TEHRAN, IRAN—Illyas, 20, precariously straddles two worlds. At home with his family, he’s a devout Christian who wears a silver cross around his neck, devotionally reads the Bible, and, on the Sabbath, hums hymns of praise to Jesus. Easter and Christmas are celebrated with homemade grape wine, even though alcohol is banned in Iran.
Publicly, though, Illyas is a devout Muslim. Before leaving home to attend university classes, he removes the cross. He falsely tells his teachers about reading the Koran regularly since, he says, expressing fealty to Islam is necessary to land a good job in Iran. And he regularly goes to Friday prayers at Tehran University, where, if necessary, he joins in chants of Marg-bar Amrika (Death to America)—although he says that he doesn’t hate America and, in fact, hopes to move there someday.
Illyas and his mother and stepfather—for their safety, their family name cannot be revealed—had been Muslims (as are 98 percent of the nation’s 66 million citizens). That changed a year ago, when they were drawn to a seductively passionate voice on a satellite TV channel imploring Iranians to embrace Christianity. On hearing the voice, Illyas’s mother called the channel’s hotline number. She prayed with the counselor on the phone, she says, making a personal commitment to Jesus as her savior. Later, Illyas and his stepfather did the same, as the counselor from California’s Iran for Christ Ministries led them in prayer.
The counselor was able to put Illyas in touch with some local Iranians—also discreet believers—who could provide a copy of the Bible. “We were looking for a faith that offered the reassurance of freedom,” says Illyas, who asked to be interviewed in a public restaurant in Tehran instead of his house.
Islam is the state religion of Iran, governing most aspects of life since the 1979 Islamic revolution. But, exasperated with the obsessive atmosphere of Islamic purity in Iran since the revolution and the subsequent curbing of social freedoms, Illyas says, his family felt compelled to look for other spiritual answers, even at considerable risk.
Leaving Islam for another religion, or apostasy, has long invited reprisals from the Iranian government, forcing the likes of Illyas and his family into absolute secrecy, practicing their new beliefs only in the privacy of their home. In Iran, Christians are prohibited from seeking Muslim converts, although there has been tolerance for those who are born into Christian families.
The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has introduced legislation before the Iranian Majlis that would mandate the death penalty for apostates from Islam, a sign that it will brook no proselytizing in the country. “Life for so-called apostates in Iran has never been easy, but it could become literally impossible if Iran passes this new draft penal code,” says Joseph Grieboski, the president of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy in Washington. “For anyone who dares question the regime’s religious ideology, there could soon be no room to argue—only death.”
Minorities. Grieboski points out that the text of the draft penal code uses the word hadd (prescribed punishment), which explicitly sets death as a fixed, irrevocable punishment. He worries that it could be applied to religious and ethnic minorities like Christians, Bahais, Jews, and Azeris by treating them as apostates.
Articles 225 to 227 of the draft penal code define two kinds of apostates: fetri, or an innate apostate—who has at least one Muslim parent, identifies as a Muslim after puberty, and later renounces Islam; and melli, or parental apostate—who is a non-Muslim at birth but later embraces Islam, only to renounce it again. The draft code says outright that punishment for an innate apostate is death. However, parental apostates have three days after their sentencing to recant their beliefs. If they don’t, they will be executed according to their sentence. It isn’t clear when this bill will be passed, though Grieboski says, “International pressure and attention—in large part due to our work—has significantly slowed the parliament’s progress.”
In the past, apostasy could draw a range of punishments, from imprisonment to death, under legal practices that were more ambiguous than the draft statutes. In one instance that drew international attention, Mehdi Dibaj, an Iranian convert, was held in prison for his Christian beliefs for 10 years starting in 1984. He received the death sentence at the end of 1993. But he was released from prison in January 1994 after an international publicity campaign by Haik Hovsepian Mehr, a prominent Christian pastor in Iran. A few days after Dibaj’s release, Hovsepian Mehr was abducted in Tehran, and his body, with 26 stab wounds, was found secretly buried in a Muslim graveyard. Six months later, Dibaj, freed but still under a pending death sentence, was abducted and murdered.
Considering the perils, Muslim Iranians turn to satellite television (though officially prohibited), radio, and the Internet to talk about faiths other than Islam. Some names include the Iranian Christian Television Channel, run by a registered charity based in the United Kingdom; Radio Mojdeh; and Iranian Christian Radio.
SAT-7 PARS, a Middle Eastern Christian satellite station headquartered in Cyprus, began broadcasting in Farsi to Iran in the fall of 2002, under the name of Iranian Christian Broadcasting. In late 2006, it launched the 24-hour Farsi-language satellite television channel. SAT-7 PARS says it receives hundreds of letters and E-mails every week from Iranian viewers—many of them young—expressing interest in Christianity. David Harder, the communications manager at SAT-7 in Cyprus, says the channel tries to answer all questions, but it is a nonproselytizing entity. “Iranian Christians themselves often have very little access to teaching materials that can help them in their spiritual growth,” says Harder. “Satellite television provides a means through which Iranians, who have often never had the opportunity to enter a church or even to know a Christian, can learn more about this faith.”
Despite the Koran’s injunction that “there is no compulsion in religion,” issues of religious freedom have persisted since the Islamic revolution of 1979, and that is driving the young away from Islam, says Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist cleric and former vice president of Iran. “If you force religion down people’s throats, it makes them less religious, not more.” Another analyst based in Tehran agrees but senses a western conspiracy in proselytizing through mass media. He blames satellite television channels for emotionally manipulating Iranian viewers into changing their religion. “Iranians are looking for a balm, and proselytizers are taking advantage of that,” he says. “There’s a vicious western plot to foment a wider cultural East-West war and demonize Islam in the process.”
Demonizing Christianity. Ironically, these days, a recent Iranian film, Jesus, the Spirit of God, is being accused of demonizing Christianity. It’s a new film on Jesus told from an Islamic perspective. Jesus, regarded as only a prophet, did not die on the cross and was not resurrected. The disciple Judas Iscariot is crucified in his place, according to the film. This premise is based on the teachings of the Koran and the Gospel of Barnabas, a book not included in the Christian Bible and in which the prophet Muhammad appears.
The $5 million film, funded by Iranian state broadcasting, is intended to promote a dialogue between Muslims and Christians, according to director Nader Talebzadeh. It received a tepid reception in theaters across Iran and will now be recycled as a 20-episode series on state-run national television this year.
Mona, a 24-year-old Assyrian Christian residing in more affluent northern Tehran, saw the film and said its “jaundiced” interpretation made her cringe. She’s not very religious, she says, though she acknowledges there is enough freedom to practice her faith because she was born into a Christian family. But she remains disillusioned with the fact that Islam pervades almost every aspect of normal life in Iran.
She says she was recently rejected for a job as a flight attendant with Air Iran, the state-run airline, because she hadn’t ever read the Koran. “Religion without the freedom to reject it is not a true religion,” she says in her living room, her head bereft of a scarf. “It makes life very claustrophobic.”
(This story was reported with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington.)
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