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Global Citizens’ Human Rights Coalition says religious freedom 'increasingly under threat'

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 6, 2019
Global Citizens’ Human Rights Coalition says religious freedom 'increasingly under threat'

The Global Citizens’ Human Rights Coalition, together with human rights organisations, religious leaders, youth and women organisations, held a peaceful march at Vuyisile Mini Square in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The rally was part of a worldwide march that opposed human rights abuses by religious institutions and was meant to promote peace and tolerance among religions and religious institutions.

Coincidentally the rally happened right before controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Timothy 'Tim' Omotoso, and his co-accused, Lusanda Solani and Zukiswa Sitho, briefly appeared in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.

Omotoso and his co-accused face 97 charges including for racketeering, sexual assault and rape.

Meanwhile, a well-known Pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife were arrested for 'fraud and money laundering' in Pretoria last week. They also appeared in court on Monday and their case was postponed to Wednesday.

While in Ngcobo, the trial of the Mancoba church leaders, who were allegedly involved in the killing on five police officers in 2018, continues.

About three weeks ago there were videos that were doing the rounds on social media, showing two girls being beaten with a pipe in Mdantsane church in the Eastern Cape.

Religious freedom increasingly under threat

During the rally at Vuyisile Mini square, Jason Gabriel, a marcher, told RNEWS; “How long will it be for us to have these rallies before the government can take action. The government must do something.”

However, the rally’s host and member of the Global Citizens’ Human Rights Coalition in South Africa, Siwapiwa Dilima, said; "The right to religious freedom has increasingly come under threat across the world during 2018, with hostile practices taking place under the guise of protecting national security or counter terrorism.

“In South Africa, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religions and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) is increasing its activity to mediate various infringements committed by religious institutions, including the cases of local pastors Shepherd Bushiri and the Mancoba brothers.

“Internationally civil society organisations are calling for governments to intervene and close down religious institutions abusing individuals’ rights to practice their religions of choice freely."

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