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Middle East Missionary Work Faces Restrictions

ICC Note

After Islamic countries expelled a number of South Korean missionaries, the government of South Korea is planning to restrict the travel of missionaries to Islamic countries.

By Hwang Jang-jin

08/26/2009 Islam (The Korea Herald)-The government is seeking to selectively restrict Korean Christians’ missionary activities in the Middle East out of safety concerns, officials said yesterday.

An increasing number of Korean Christians have recently been arrested and expelled by Islamic countries where missionary work is outlawed. Their work is exposing themselves and other Koreans to threats of terrorism.

Under the current law, the government can ban overseas travel for those who are under criminal investigation, as well as anyone with the potential to tarnish the country’s interests, public safety and economic order.

The government can also refuse the issuance and renewal of passports for up to three years for those who have sullied the nation’s reputation through illegal activities abroad.

The government plans to enforce such regulations more strictly. It is also considering revising the passport law to restrict Christians’ travel to countries from where they had been deported for religious reasons.

Some churches and civic groups are expected to protest the measures. They have claimed such restrictions could violate the freedom of travel and religious liberties.

For the past two months, more than 80 Korean church workers have been expelled from Iran , Jordan , Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries.

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