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Forum 18 News Service replaces Keston to cover persecution in Eastern Europe

OSLO, Norway (BP)–Forum 18 News Service, an Internet news service which initially is focusing on persecuted Christians and other religious groups in the former Soviet Union and its satellite states, was launched March 13 as a replacement for Keston News Service.

Based in Oslo, Norway, F18News is “a group committed to religious freedom for all on the basis of Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” said editor Felix Corley in a statement to ASSIST News Service.

Forum 18 News Service, which will send e-mails to subscribers, will report “on threats and actions against the religious freedom of all people, regardless of their religious affiliation, in an objective, truthful and timely manner,” throughout Eastern Europe, the organization said.

F18News, found online at www.forum18.org, comes after the British-based Keston Institute announced earlier this year it had closed its well-known Keston News Service because of financial difficulties and personnel changes.

Church leaders and human rights activists had expressed concern that Keston’s end would undermine the monitoring of religious persecution in Eastern Europe.

F18News said it plans to expand its coverage to other areas amid reports of growing persecution of Christians worldwide, from China to the Middle East. Subscription to F18News is free and can be received several times or once a week, Corley said.

Forum 18, on its website, said it is committed to religious freedom for all on the basis of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

F18News noted: “This may be summarized as the right to believe, to worship and witness; the right to change one’s belief or religion; and the right to join together and express one’s belief.”

Forum 18 said it will report on “gross and open breaches of religious freedom, especially situations where the lives of individuals or groups are threatened, and where the right to gather based upon belief is threatened.” It will operate as “a Christian initiative which is independent of any one church or religious group. Its independence is safeguarded by a board whose members are Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic Christians, and who are responsible for matters of policy and fundraising.”

F18News said it will seek to ensure that “threats and actions against religious freedom are truthfully reported as quickly as possible across the world.”

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