Pray for these folk. I am guessing this is Somalia.
Special Report: Translators persecuted for translating the gospel
By Nena Podbury for American Bible Society—This week, we received heartbreaking news about an attack against Bible translators and we’re urging everyone to pray.
American Bible Society has been supporting a network of churches that are working on 25 Bible translation projects for unreached people groups in Central Asia and the Arabic Gulf region. Working in an undisclosed location in Northeast Africa, where the Christian church faces strong opposition, Christians risk their lives to translate God’s Word.
Last month, a terrorist group became aware of these translation efforts. Two weeks ago, this militant group burned the translation facility and killed five members of the lead translator’s family. The lead translator was also seriously injured. Another 49 translators were abducted and are still missing.
Despite this horrifying tragedy and the constant threat of extreme danger, this network of pastors plans to carry…
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Three attackers dragged father-of-five Anant Ram Gand (40) out of his house, shot him in the head, beheaded him and dumped his body in the road in the village of Raigarh Tehsil, Nabarangapur district, Odisha state on 11 February.
Anant was an agricultural worker who converted to Christianity nine months ago, followed by his whole family, and was baptised two months ago in an evangelical church. His conversion angered Hindu extremist villagers, who taunted him and his wife Sukbati (38) about their faith, banned them from collecting water from the public well and forced them to leave the village. They had to move a kilometre away and dig their own bore well, and Anant was harassed and beaten twice in 2018.
The organisation Persecution Relief also reported that tensions were brewing locally over traditional tribal customs in which Anant refused to take part following his conversion.
Locals reported that the Hindu extremists used Naxals (Indian Maoist guerrillas) to carry out the murder. Anant was a former Naxal sympathiser and Persecution Relief reported, “It is alleged that the extremists spread false stories to the Naxals about Brother Anant Ram being a police informer, in order to eliminate him.”
Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief, said that in the past Anant had expressed sympathy for the Maoist guerrillas and stated, “He was never a part of the fighters, but the Hindus made the Naxals believe that the Christian would reveal their secrets to the police.“
Local pastor Chanan Jani said that Anant had been more than a sympathiser, stating, “In the past, before he became a Christian, he was a Naxal and was caught by the police. That was the turning point where he surrendered to the police and renounced his life as a Naxal. The Naxals thought he might share their secrets with the police. But Anant did not want enmity with anyone and assured them that he was a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Commenting on Anant’s strong faith, the pastor said, “His passion and dedication were unbelievable. Most days, he fasted and prayed. The entire family embraced their faith wholeheartedly.”
On the day of the murder, Sukbati went to the nearby village with their four daughters, Dhanomati (13), Purnima (11), Hemobai (3) and Kemiti (2), while Anant and their son Purno (6) remained at home. Sukbati and the children are pictured, left, in a video still.
Purno said he woke up to the sound of three men knocking at the door. His father opened the door and the men caught hold of him, tied his hands to a pole behind his back and dragged him away. Before they drove off, they pushed Purno away and threatened to harm him if he followed them. Purno ran to his uncle’s house nearby and raised the alarm.
The attackers shot Anant in the head, crushed his skull with a large stone, decapitated him and threw his body onto the road.
Sukbati told Pastor Chanan Jani, “He has been killed for his faith in Jesus Christ. But I am sure I will not forsake Jesus Christ my Saviour and Lord. Please remember us in your prayers so that we stand strong in faith and all our daily needs are met.”
Following the murder, Shibu Thomas stated: “As president of the group, I ask the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of the State to please order a probe. The government should provide compensation to the family and five small children. They should speak clearly against persecution of Christians and to protect freedom of worship. Enough is enough!“
The case highlights the vulnerability of Christians in remote areas of India to attack by those who consider them enemies.
Naxals or Naxalites are far-left radical Indian communist revolutionaries who follow Mao Tse Tung’s political ideology. The name derives from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal, where the Naxalite peasant revolt took place in 1967. From West Bengal, the movement has spread through rural areas of southern and eastern India.
(Asia News/Persecution Relief)
Three Christians suffered serious injuries when a mob of 25 extremists attacked a prayer meeting in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh on 7 February.
The mob broke into the pastor’s home in Chapar village, Sultanpur district, and began insulting worshippers before slapping them and hitting them with sticks. Bibles were also set on fire.
“They did not even spare women,” said Sajan K George, the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who spoke out condemning the violence. He added, “Intolerance towards Christians in Uttar Pradesh is spiralling upward and religious freedom is pulverised by fanatical elements.”
The Christian leader said, “[the attack] is a shame on secular India” and added that the police, “did not allow Christians to file a complaint against the attackers nor let the injured get medical certificates for their injuries”. Highlighting that the situation is likely to deteriorate in the run-up to the general elections expected in May he added, “Fanatics are whipping up hostility against Christians for political gain.”
Persecution of Christians and other minorities has been on the rise in India since Narendra Modi, whose home constituency is in Uttar Pradesh, became prime minister in 2014. There was a sharp escalation of persecution incidents against Christians in 2017, when around 736 were recorded by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (of which 351 were violent), compared to 348 persecution incidents recorded in 2016.
An Uzbek mother was killed by her husband on 9 February because she had recently become a Christian.
“Umida”, a Muslim-background Christian, was attempting to flee the country to seek refuge in Istanbul with Christian friends, when her husband confronted her at Tashkent Airport and slit her throat.
Previously, the man had locked Umida in their home to prevent her from going to church and banned her from seeing their two-year-old son after discovering she had asked a friend to get her an Uzbek Bible.
Umida’s parents had taken their daughter to live at their home and allowed her to go to church but she continued to receive threats from her husband.
Friends of Umida have asked for prayers for her parents and her son.
Uzbekistan, a former Soviet Union republic, is officially secular but more than 90% of the population is Muslim. Churches are required by law to register, but stringent requirements make it nearly impossible for most churches to do so. Uzbek Christians (who are converts from Islam and their children) face frequent persecution including violent raids on meetings and homes.
From Barnabas Fund contacts
A pastor was murdered and his family kidnapped after gunmen opened fire on their car on 7 February in Zamfara state, northern Nigeria.
Pastor Anthony Idris Jatau’s car skidded off the road in the attack, and he and his family were dragged out. The pastor’s body was found two days later, on 9 February, but the whereabouts of his wife, three children and two sisters-in-law are unknown at the time of writing.
According to a local source, the kidnappers are holding the children in separate locations and have demanded a ransom for the family’s release.
The source said, “Everybody is sad at the moment and afraid for the lives of his family members. Security agencies are aware of the case but there is nothing yet.”
Pastor Jatau, who survived an earlier kidnapping in September 2006, was travelling from his ministry in Sokoto to a new posting in Katsina, about 250 miles away, when the attack happened.
Zamfara is notorious for kidnappings and attacks by Fulani herdsmen militia groups, who have terrorised Christian farming communities. Barnabas Fund patron Baroness Cox, who raised the issue of Fulani attacks in the House of Lords on 17 July 2018, says the militants are now so well armed that some believe they may be fighting a proxy war for Boko Haram, the Islamist militia that wants to drive out Christians from northern Nigeria.
Crackdown on Iranian believers continues
Becoming a Christian in Iran is fraught with danger – as the recent arrest of many believers with a Muslim background makes clear.
Two more were detained in Shiraz and Esfahan in January. These are just the latest in a wave of arrests targeting the Christian community which began late last year. Most of those detained have a Muslim background.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters behind bars in Iran.
On January 25, 64-year-old Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was arrested in Shiraz and security agents confiscated his laptop, phone and Christian books. He was later released on bail.
Two days earlier Sina Moloudian, who is just 26, was detained in Esfahan at the family home. Intelligence agents broke down the door and arrested Sina in front of his parents. Eye witnesses reported seeing Sina with bruising on his face as he was dragged out of the house. He rang his parents later to say he was being held in Dastgerd prison.
- Pray that prisoners of faith in Iran will be released soon and restored to their families. Pray that God will sustain and strengthen them.
- Please pray that the wave of arrests will stop.
- Lift up in prayer the officials involved in arresting Christians: pray that they will be touched by the powerful witness of God’s people in Iran and by their overcoming faith.
The Iranian church will be like the Israelites in Egypt-the more they were oppressed-the more they multiplied and grew strong.
Thank God that Pakistani Christian Pervaiz Masih has been acquitted, more than three years after a business rival accused him of blasphemy. A lower-court judge ruled to acquit Pervaiz but made legal provision for the case to be reopened in the future. Pray that God will restore to Pervaiz and his family all that has been taken from them. Pervaiz’s wife, Zareena, was so badly beaten during a police interrogation that she was unable to walk; as a result she was not fully able to watch the couple’s three-year-old child who wandered away and was later found drowned. The exact cause of the tragic drowning remains a mystery. (Source: VOM Canada)
PAKISTAN:Prayers are needed for Sawan Masih who has been on death row for blasphemy since 2014.Masih was accused by his Muslim friend, Shahid Imran, of making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad in 2013. A case was registered against him under section 295-C of the Blasphemy Law which has a mandatory death penalty. Masih says the charge is false.
His case became internationally known when a large Muslim mob violently attacked Masih’s residential area, Joseph Colony, in Badami Bagh Lahore. The localmosque broadcasted the accusation via loudspeakers and a mob of more than 3,000 Muslims attacked Sawan’s home, looted and torched 180 Christian homes, 75 shops and at least two churches. Witnesses say the police stood and watched instead of stopping the attackers and protecting local Christians and their property.
Hundreds of families were displaced as the mob threatened to burn Christians…
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Another needy people group badly needing Reformed church planters.
Large numbers of suspected Boko Haram militants attacked the predominantly Christian villages of Gochi and Toufou in north Cameroon, on 24 January.
The raids came in the middle of the night, overwhelming the soldiers on guard, forcing them to flee and causing appalling damage.
Barnabas Fund contacts report that 190 houses were destroyed in the villages. Four churches were ransacked, with valuables stolen and livestock killed. A Christian hospital was set on fire, dozens of motorbikes destroyed and essential household items such as mattresses vandalised or looted.
Witnesses at the scene of the attack said, “Is it really human beings who are doing this?”
Contacts said that although the attackers came in force, they were not intent on killing people this time, as they fired into the air. Their aim seemed to be the looting of clothing and food to panic the local population and economically ruin them – forcing families to flee the area.
The prefect for the area has promised additional security, but no emergency relief for the victims has been offered at this time.
The attack on Gochi and Toufou is the fourth by militants in two weeks. In the previous attacks three people were killed and churches and homes were damaged or destroyed.
According to Barnabas Fund contacts, Christian villages in the far north of Cameroon are subject to attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militias they attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate from north-eastern Nigeria all the way to northern Cameroon, which is where most Cameroonian Muslims live in what is a predominantly Christian country.
From Barnabas Fund contacts
OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jakarta’s Former Christian Governor Released from Prison
01/24/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 24, 2019, the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian politician, was released from prison after serving nearly two years on blasphemy charges. The former governor, commonly known as “Ahok,” walked free from Mako Brimob detention facility and was welcomed by his son Nicholas Sean.
The former governor was found guilty of blasphemy for a comment he made, quoting the Quran while campaigning for re-election. The verdict raised the question of Indonesia’s claimed freedom of religion and remains a controversial issue ahead of this April’s presidential election.
In a letter to supporters that was shared on Twitter last week, he thanked God for allowing him to lose the gubernatorial election and serve his prison term. If he had won, he believes that he would have only become “more arrogant, ruder” and hurt the feelings of many others.
“I also want to apologize to Ahokers [my supporters], all of Jakarta’s civil servants, even my haters, of all the things that I’ve said and done that have hurt you and your family,” he said.
Urging his supporters to call him by his Indonesian initials “BTP” and not his Hakka nickname “Ahok,” he added, “I am sorry and I hope that you will call me BTP now, not Ahok.”
Jacob F. Lesmana, an ethnic Chinese Christian in Jakarta told ICC, “Ahok really fulfills the criteria of being a leader who can inspire many people both in terms of people of faith and on the secular side. The main reason is that he has a set purpose in life so his vision is clear. He understands his calling and what he lives for. All the principles of his life are guided by the biblical principle of Truth. It takes a lot to build a life like his.”
BTP’s lawyer Teguh Samudera said the former governor plans to venture into the oil business next, while also hosting a talk show. He will also fulfill previously arranged speaking engagements in New Zealand, Japan, and Europe.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While we rejoice at the early release of BTP given a granted remission last December, he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. He was not the only victim of Indonesia’s blasphemy law. He will likely not be the last one either if the Indonesian government continues to yield to radical Islamists’ requests instead of honoring religious freedom for all citizens.”
PTL another acquittal of spurious charges. Pray for his safety and possible need to flee the country.
Attorney Aneeqa Maria, chief of The Voice Society, who pled the case of Pervaiz Masih released facts about his freedom from blasphemy charges in a statement shared with Pakistan Christian Post.
Pakistani Christian Pervaiz Masih, of Garhewala District Kasur, was accused of blasphemy on September 1st 2015. After 20 days of the submitting an appeal of innocence, he was granted bail. This case was different as rarely is bail ever granted to the accused. From start to finish, his trial took three years to be concluded.
Pervaiz Masih and his family suffered much even the loss od their three year old daughter. The statement claimed that Masih’s accusers murdered his little girl by drowning her in a well and later declared to have committed the murder to punish Pervaiz and his family for uttering derogatory remarks about their Prophet.
The report claims Pervaiz’s wife was tortured and received severe…
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More murder in Nigeria
(Morning Star News) – Ladi Yakubu does not know how her family will eat after Muslim Fulani herdsmen destroyed crops on their farm in Kaduna state, Nigeria on Nov. 26 and shot and killed her husband.
“My husband is no more alive, and so the burden to feed our children is on me,” she said. “How do I feed them without having a job? And I cannot go to the farm because of the murderous activities of these herdsmen.”
The 49-year-old Yakubu, a member of the Dogo Awo village congregation of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in north-central Nigeria, said she knew the gunmen were Fulani herdsmen because they have lived near the village for several years. Herdsmen also destroyed crops on their farm in late 2016 and late 2017, she said.
Her husband, ECWA elder Yakubu Musa, was 50.
Her 20-year-old son, Believe Yakubu, received a bullet wound…
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A member of the church shared the video on Instagram and said, “We didn’t do things that were prohibited. Where is justice in this country? Where is our religious tolerance? God is with us.”
The head of the Medan Ministry of Religion Office, Al Ahyu, confirmed the incident and explained that the residents protested because the house did not have permission to operate as a place of worship, as stipulated by government regulations. Local residents had already filed a complaint last August, but Pastor Jans Fransman did not agree to stop worship at his house until November. He was supposed to halt services once the new year came, but he did not, leading to the January 13 protest.
However, at present, it is extremely difficult for non-Muslims to obtain the proper permits to build places of worship in the predominantly Muslim nation of Indonesia. Christian leaders have called for changes to legislation and complained about the obstacles facing churches that are attempting to obtain a permit.
Nitha Fenita, a Christian broadcaster at Cristy Radio, shared her thoughts with ICC,“This would be a big problem in a country known for its tolerance. I would describe it as a household with two religions and the members often have disputes about their beliefs. If there is no tolerance allowed, the relationship between the two parties would be inversely related [where one increases, another one decreases]. Perhaps the authorities can help manage the issues once or twice, but we have to be aware that this rift will be exploited by other [groups with political] interests which ultimately could divide the Indonesian people. Educating this family on tolerance is a very urgent matter and it needs to be taught now.”
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “As the Indonesian presidential election is only three months away, many radicals are seeking the opportunity to incite hatred and religious persecution against Christians during this campaign period. Jakarta must protect the rights of its citizens to freely worship, not only because it is enshrined in its constitution, but also to honor the country’s founding principles of Pancasila, which is to maintain a harmonious Indonesia based on religious tolerance, humanity, unity, democracy, and social justice.
Benham Ersali and Davood Rasooli were taken into custody in N Iran and their family have not heard from them since. The best guess is that they are in solitary in Rajai Shahr prison. Let’s remember them. It appears to be an awful place…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gohardasht_Prison
Pray for their protection and release, their witness and for strength and courage for all Christians imprisoned in Iran.
Kurdish people turning to Christ.
In scenes chillingly reminiscent of the 2014 targeting of Christians in Iraq by Islamic State, Kurdish militia in north-east Syria are spraying graffiti on to Christian properties to mark them for confiscation.
A recently released video shows Arabic writing spray-painted on the wall of the house of an Armenian Christian family in Qamishli. The inscription reads: “Seized by the Executive Committee of Qamishli” – the Committee is the self-proclaimed administration of the Kurdish YPG militia, who control the region.
Christian men from Qamishli have already been abducted for use as conscripts in the Kurds fight against Turkish forces, part of what Christian community representatives have stated is a programme of intimidation.
The homes and businesses of believers in Mosul in northern Iraq were similarly graffitied with slogans and signs, before the Islamic State militants ordered the Christian population to leave or face execution when they seized the city in 2014.
The Australian who filmed and publicised the video, which has been corroborated by the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs), stated, “What the YPG does is reminiscent of what ISIS did to the Christians in northern Iraq.
“It has confiscated many more buildings like this … They are confiscating rather than protecting our homes in the Qamishli and Hassake areas and they are even occupying entire villages … They are treating us like second-class citizens … employing various tactics to frighten and subject our people with the aim of taking possession of our final remaining properties and lands, thereby transforming our ancestral homeland into an autonomous Kurdish region.”
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More Pakistani blasphemy stitch ups!
(Voice of the Persecuted) Pakistani Christian brothers, Qasir (also shared as Qaisar) and Amoon Ayub, have been sentenced to death in the Talagang District Jhelum court after being accused of blasphemy. Both brothers have been held under the charge of 295-A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code in the District Jail Jhelum since their arrest in 2014. Their case was heard on December 13, but due to security reasons, the brothers were not in the courtroom and told of the death sentence ruling from inside the jail. Qasir is married with three children, while Amoon is also married and a teacher at the Cathedral School in Lahore.
The allegations surfaced when they were accused of posting disrespectful material on their website, reported AsiaNews. However, Qasir said he closed his account in 2009 but one of his Muslim friends, Shahryar Gill, somehow managed to restore the…
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Muslim intolerance and violence yet again-they are such losers!
“Please, we need prayer from God to give us direction on how to handle this delicate situation and the support for the young family of Kawanguzi, especially the young innocent children.”
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Shakira Wanyenze, a 31-year-old Muslim woman, had no idea that missing a ride back to her town in eastern Uganda from Kampala would change her life.
That day, June 17, Wanyenze decided to stay the night at the home of a relative in Kampala. She thought the relative, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons, was a Muslim. The relative told her she had put her trust in Christ for her salvation, and after a discussion that lasted late into the night, Wanyenze decided to do the same.
“After many hours of resisting the Christian faith, something convicted me that my life was heading for destruction, and therefore I need to put…
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This what we have known all along.
(World Watch Monitor) Almost 4,000 people have been killed and thousands displaced in fighting between herders and farmers in Nigeria’s middle belt in the past three years, Amnesty International says in a new report.
Amnesty, who started documenting clashes in January 2016, said yesterday (17 December) violence was increasing with more than half (57%) of the 3,641 recorded deaths in the past three years occurring in 2018, and that the government’s failure to curb the violence and prosecute the perpetrators, was exacerbating the situation.
“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers. The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant…
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Look at the numbers of people here still to hear:
Historic case of ex-magistrate challenging top judges moves forward
Richard Page was removed as a magistrate for expressing the view that it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father
In a hearing last week, ex-magistrate Richard Page was granted permission to take his case against the most senior judges in England and Wales to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Richard, 72, was removed as a magistrate by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice in 2016 for expressing his view that it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father.
The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Mr Page, who was represented in court by the highly-experienced religious freedoms barrister, Paul Diamond. In court, he argued that the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice victimised him for his deeply-held Christian and philosophical view that children do best when raised by a mum and dad in a committed, stable relationship.
Richard Page served as a magistrate for 20 years with an exemplary record until, in July 2014, he dissented in a judgment relating to an adoption by a same-sex couple. He expressed the view that it was in a child’s best interests to have both a mother and a father. He was subsequently reported for his actions, reprimanded, and forced to attend ‘re-education training’, which he duly did.
Then in March 2015, Mr Page spoke on a BBC television programme where he further explained his opinion, saying “My responsibility as a magistrate as I saw it was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and a woman who were adoptive parents.”
This common-sense statement led to an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s disciplinary panel. They recommended to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor that Richard should be removed from office for serious misconduct, saying that “any reasonable person” would “conclude that [Richard] would be biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters”. Richard was removed from the Magistracy on 29 February 2016 for bringing the judiciary into disrepute.
On the 16 February 2018, the Employment Tribunal upheld this decision.
Within the bounds of judicial functions
Representing Richard in court last week, barrister Paul Diamond argued that although judges are expected to show restraint while commenting in public, Richard’s remarks were well within the bounds of his judicial functions – and that he had therefore been victimised.
In legal argument before the judge, Mr Diamond compared Richard Page’s comments to those of Judge Pickles, who described the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane, as a “dinosaur living in the wrong age” and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, as a “brooding Quixotic dictator” born with a golden spoon in his mouth and as “an arrogant, pompous, toffee-nosed Old Etonian”.
He also noted other members of the judiciary who publicly stated their political views, such as Lord Phillips who, in 2009, provoked concern when he voiced ‘sympathy’ for assisted suicide, shortly after having decided the Purdy v DPP case on the very same point.
Similarly, in a speech in May 2018, Lord Justice Munby, the President of the Family Division, said that he welcomed and applauded single parent, unmarried, three parent, and polygamous households; and the demise of the typical nuclear family was, by implication, not a matter of concern.
Judges are permitted to hold even ‘intolerant’ views
Her Honour Judge Katherine Tucker allowed Richard’s appeal to proceed, saying that judges have a fundamental role in democratic society. She said that judges are permitted to hold even ‘intolerant’ views that should be respected – but that there may be limits as to how they can be expressed so as not to impugn the impartiality of the courts.
Responding to the decision, Richard commented:
“I am amazed that it has taken so long to get this far. It is vital that we maintain the true independence and impartiality of the judiciary and that ordinary people like me are not excluded from it.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Mr Page, said:
“This is an important moment, shining a light on how justice is done in our country. Even the top judges in the land should not be beyond proper scrutiny and we are glad to see Richard’s claim go forward.
“It was always disproportionate to remove a kind-hearted and long-serving public servant like Richard from his position simply because of the way that he expressed his beliefs.
“At the Christian Legal Centre, we see many people removed from public life for expressing views. We will continue standing by Richard, and others like him, as long as it takes for the legal system, and society in general, to recognise the positive impact of Christians in our nation’s life.”
Please pray for Richard and his case
The next stage of Richard’s case should be heard in 2019.
The Christian Legal Centre is also helping him with a separate claim against an NHS trust that blocked his return as a non-executive director because of the same pro-family statements. This case is expected to be heard in January 2019.
Please pray: •That in both cases, the judge will give a fair hearing to Richard and his legal arguments
•That the judgments would protect the freedom of Christians to hold and express common-sense Christian views
•For Paul Diamond and the Christian Legal Centre as they support Richard’s cases.
An impartial police force and army that protected all its citizens would go a long way to stopping these atrocities.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Christian leaders meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria this month delivered a sharp rebuke, saying the military is complicit in attacks on Christians.
With the governor of Plateau state in attendance, the Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), delivered a report to Buhari at the presidential villa on Nov. 6 stating that 646 Christians in Plateau state alone were killed from March through October.
“The narrative has been that these people are killed by unknown gunmen, or suspected herdsmen, or that there have been farmer-herders clashes,” Datiri said in the report, obtained by Morning Star News. “All these are deceptive narratives deliberately framed to conceal the truth and continue to perpetrate the evil.”
The truth, he said, is that Muslim Fulani militias heavily armed with sophisticated guns, including AK47s, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades have…
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And so it goes on! Several men are on death row in Pakistan including Imran Ghafur (2009), Zafar Bhatti and Farhan Aziz (appeal postponed). May God bring justice and guard and keep these folk enabling them to leave the country if necessary.
Pray for Imran Khan, prime Minister of Pakistan, ignorant concerning Christ but apparently committed to equality of religion in his country as was Jinnah the founder in 1948.
(Voice of the Persecuted) The November 27, 2018 appeal hearing of Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian accused and sentenced to death for blasphemy, was postponed. Nasir Saeed, a spokesperson from CLAAS, Sawans’s defense counsel, told Voice of the Persecuted that they have yet to receive a rescheduled hearing date. It’s possible that the court avoided conducting the hearing deliberately because of the present situation in the country after Asia Bibi’s acquittal, he added.
Sawan is at the center of a case that caused a mob of 3000 Muslim men to attack the Joseph Colony of Lahore, Pakistan in March of 2013. (View report and photos) After a local mosque announced the blasphemy charge over loudspeakers, the vigilantes stormed the Christian community where Masih lived. They burned or ransacked 180 Christian homes, 75 shops and at least two churches during the attack. Mob members threatened to burn…
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Latest on Aasia Bibi:
Latest on Aasia Bibi-good that authorities are at last cracking down on Islamist extremists.
Police detained radical Islamic cleric and (TLP) chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who led protests that brought daily life to a halt following the Supreme Court acquittal of Asia Bibi. On Friday, authorities began a nationwide crackdown and arrested over 1000 leaders and supporters of the Islamist party. The cleric’s arrest ignited violent clashes with police and several people were injured. A majority of the arrests took place in the province of Punjab, headquarters of the extremist Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party. They alleged the crackdown against the party and its leadership was to prevent them from protesting the acquittal.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry dismissed those claims. He explained that Rizvi had been placed under “protective custody” because he refused to withdraw a fresh call for street protests on Sunday and turned down offers to organize the rally at a place proposed by the government. “It’s to safeguard public life, property and order and has…
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This made international news:
American Missionary Reportedly
Murdered by Hostile Tribe in India
Murder Case Registered Against Unidentified Members of Tribe’s Community
11/20/2018 International Christian Concern (Washington D.C.) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that an American missionary named John Allen Chau, age 27, was reportedly killed by unidentified individuals from the Sentinelese community on North Sentinel Island, located in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This murder comes at a time when Indian Christians report ever escalating levels of persecution across the country.
According to local sources, Chau had traveled to North Sentinel Island with the help of local fishermen in an attempt to interact with members of the Sentinelese tribe. Chau reportedly hired a fishing dinghy from the Chidiyatapu area and traveled to North Sentinel Island on November 16. Chau had reportedly visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on five previous occasions and had expressed a strong desire to meet with the Sentinelese tribes to preach Christianity.
Sources claim that Chau was killed by hostile members of the Sentinelese tribe after arriving on North Sentinel Island. The Andaman Sheekha reported that his body was spotted by local fishermen.
Police officials have confirmed today that a case of murder has been registered against unknown members of the Sentinelese tribe. “After getting relevant information a murder case has been registered,” a senior officer told Andaman Sheekha.
India has a history of attacks on foreign Christian missionaries. In January 1999, Graham Staines, an Australian missionary, was burned alive along with his two sons Philip, age 10, and Timothy, age 6. A mob of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists attacked the missionary and his children while they sleeping in their station wagon in Manoharpur village, located in the Kendujhar District of India’s Odisha State.
Across India, reports of persecution continue to escalate in both number and severity. Much of this escalation in persecution followed the rise of the current BJP-led government in May 2014. Using religiously divisive rhetoric for political gain, BJP officials incite Hindu radicals to take action against religious minorities. In 2014, the year the BJP-led government took power, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) documented 147 incidents of Christian persecution. In 2017, after three years of the current government, EFI documented 351 incidents of Christian persecution.
Jesus said we would be persecuted and brought before religious and civil authorities to give witness.
Informed sources reported to Mohabat News that “Behnam Ersali, a Christian convert living in Karaj, traveled to Mashhad and was arrested by security guards at a friend’s home on Friday, November 16, 2018 and taken unknown location.
Six plain-clothed security officers entered the house without a legal decree and arrested him along with the another person. The second was released a few hours later.
Behnam Ersali, was a former member of the Assemblies of God church in Tehran. Mohabat New also reported that several years ago Ersali had been fired from his job because of his Christian faith.
Davood Rasooli, known among the believers as “David”, was also arrested on Friday by two plain-clothes officers on in front of his home in Karaj. He too was transferred to an unknown location. Informed sources, quoted by the Christian convert’s family, say that the officers returned to the house two hours later with…
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Laos district governor orders Christian
families to leave village or face jail
A regional governor gave 20 Christian families one month to leave their village in northern Laos or face jail, after claiming Christianity is a “foreign religion”.
Despite local church leaders pointing out that Christianity is not illegal in Laos, the local governor insisted he would “not allow” believers in the area. The deadline for them to leave will expire in mid-December. In the face of the threat of imprisonment, five families have given up their faith, but Barnabas contacts reported that the rest are “holding strong”, adding, “The main thing we need now is prayer.”
Laos’ Communist government imposes tight restrictions on religious organisations, although Buddhists, who make up the majority of the population, enjoy comparative religious freedom in parts of the country. Local officials are typically highly suspicious of Christians, partly because of a perceived connection with the West.
From Barnabas Fund Contacts
Excellent update, passionate account and points for prayer from Pastor Emmanuel Singh at recent Reformation Day Conference in Singapore.
Persecution and Grace Fill Iran’s Streets
By Claire Evans
11/14/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The massive waves of unrest which have plagued Iran this past year point toward the people’s frustration with the moral and economic bankruptcy of a governing Islamic elite. “This is a very enlightened generation of younger people in Iran,” said Dr. Mike Ansari from Heart4Iran, an Iranian Christian partnership platform. “People are smarter and wiser and they can see through the fog of confusion created by the Iranian government.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran was created in 1979 with the intention of safeguarding Islamic principles by enshrining them into piety politics that define every aspect of life. One generation later, and Iranians have had enough with the harshness imposed by the Islamic regime. “They are taking a sense of pride in their past and heritage. They want to know what their ancestors were before they were forced to be Muslims,” continued Dr. Ansari.
Iran has a rich Christian history, and Iranians are not ignorant of the persecution which the Church has faced under the modern regime. In their quest for discovering the meaning of life, many Iranians have encountered the Gospel message. “When the Church is ready for persecution, we also see grace,” added Dr. Ansari.
“As Christianity is growing fast in Iran, the top religious leaders are alarmed. They then put pressure on the Revolutionary Guard’s security police as, ‘What are you doing to stop Christians?’ …The strategy of the government is not a widespread arrest and execution. Their strategy is to arrest a few, but publicize their arrest to put fear in the hearts of 1-3 million Christians and make them isolated, fearful, and prisoners in their homes,” explained Dr. Hormoz Shariat of Iran Alive Ministries.
This past year, International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented at least 100 cases where Christians have faced continued harassment, interrogation, detainment, imprisonment, or another type of judicial action intended to repress the Church. Many other cases continue to be investigated. Often, these believers have experienced persecution for decades, but the pressure on them has increased within the past year.
One such example is the family of Pastor Victor Bet-Tamerez. He was arrested four years ago, the day after Christmas, on charges of acting against national security and espionage. If his appeal against these charges fails, then he will be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“God is very much alive in Iran. He is moving and he is building his Church in Iran and it is growing and there is a lot of good news that is happening inside the country.”
This year, the judiciary under the guidance of Judge Ahmadzadeh turned their attention toward the rest of the pastor’s family. In January, Pastor Bet-Tamerez’s wife was sentenced to five years in prison on the same charges as her husband. In July, their son Ramil was sentenced to four months in prison on the charge of holding house churches. Sadly, this family is not the only one to have experienced such persecution by the government because of their faith.
The perpetrators of Christian persecution are well-known to many: Judge Ahmadzadeh, Judge Ahmad Zargar, and Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, among others. They often send Christians to jails, such as Evin Prison, notorious for their human rights abuses. Meanwhile, the judiciary’s close relationship with the Revolutionary Guard ensures that even those believers who freely walk the streets do so under surveillance and harassment.
Miraculously, God works even among the perpetrators of these human rights abuses. Ali was a Revolutionary Guard member who would convert to Christianity and eventually have to flee the country after spending time in prison. He currently works with the underground church inside Iran to help prepare them for the inevitable persecution.
“In my opinion, Christians need to know their position,” Ali said. “We need to recognize this situation. When you decide to be Jesus’ disciple, don’t run away from these matters and don’t be surprised by them. You need to be prepared.”
This preparation is all the more important as Iran ramps up the persecution facing the Church. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “Local observers note that as the Iranian regime has grown more unpopular and citizens have become more vocal in their criticism of corruption in official circles, the government has become increasingly reliant on the support of hard-line ayatollahs, who favour increased pressure on religious minorities.”
Despite the challenges facing the Church, many Christians are hopeful. Ali shared, “The hunger of the persecuted is the biggest potential. That person says, ‘I want to use everything for the glory of the name of the Lord. I want to become everything for everyone for glory of the name of the Lord’ … The persecuted Church is thirsty to use all the potentials for the glory of the name of the Lord.”
Dr. Ansari added, “What we are dealing with, unfortunately nowadays, is that there is no choice but to hear the negative news about Iran. However, God is very much alive in Iran. He is moving and he is building his Church in Iran and it is growing and there is a lot of good news that is happening inside the country.”
For the past year, Iranians have protested against a regime that seeks to control their souls. The days have been filled with ever increasing persecution against the Church. But they have also been filled with ever abundant grace as the Church continues to grow.
For interviews with Claire Evans, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
India’s Christians Troubled by Surge in
By ICC’s India Correspondent
11/05/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – India’s Christian community is deeply troubled by the rising tide of religious persecution targeting pastors and their churches. Over the past two months, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 67 incidents of persecution, beginning in September. Of these 67 incidents, 49 took place in Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populous states in northern India.
While documenting these cases, ICC spoke with many people on the ground in Uttar Pradesh, including Pastor Sanjay Robinson, a Christian leader in Lucknow. Pastor Robinson stated, “Pastors and Christian workers are terrified and worried about their survival as the attacks continue to rise in Uttar Pradesh. The trend of increased attacks will get worse as the election for the Loksabha is fast approaching.”
ICC also spoke with Pastor Vijay Massih, a pastor who was brutally attacked by Hindu radicals alongside two of his colleagues. On September 8, a mob of 50 people barged into a private gathering of 25 Christians who were meeting for a spiritual retreat. Pastor Massih reported that the Hindu radicals began hurling verbal abuses at the Christians before attacking the three pastors leading the retreat.
In describing the situation following the attack, Pastor Massih stated, “Our lives are in danger… Everything went against us following the incident, including negative publicity by print and electronic media leveling false charges of forcible conversions. Even the police have taken the side of the attackers.”
“Recent developments in India must disturb not just Indian citizens, but the peace-loving people of the world at large.”
Similarly, 43-year-old Pastor Surajveer Peter was ordered by the local Station House Officer (SHO) to close down his house church that he has been pastoring for nearly 15 years in Khannupur village, located in the Muzafernagar District of Uttar Pradesh. Peter told ICC that the police locked the doors of the church in which they were worshiping. Shortly after, he was taken to the police station and told that he had to stop worshiping or else he would be put in jail.
“I was so afraid,” Pastor Peter told ICC. “When the police came to the place where the worship was going and chased the Christians worshipers, I thought to myself, I didn’t do any harm to anybody, but I was treated as a criminal by both Hindu radicals and also the police.”
“Recent developments in India must disturb not just Indian citizens, but the peace-loving people of the world at large,” Dr. John Dayal, spokesperson for the United Christian Forum, said regarding the recent rise in attacks. “The killing of Muslims in the garb of protecting cows, the threat to throw out Christians, closing their educational institutions and ending all conversions by changing the constitution of India are real threats.”
“Without the economic progress it promised, the Modi government is engineering a confrontation between the religious minorities and charged sections of the Hindu majority,” Dr. Dayal continued. “The targeted hate, the manner of denying sections of Muslims the protection of the law as citizens, stripping Dalits of the affirmative action and protection from discrimination, and the punitive persecution of small Christian communities and new followers of Christ are clear signals. The RSS is leading the national discourse.”
For pastors, like Peter and Massih, the circumstances are life-threatening. Yet, Christians are still willing to pay the price as they await with hope that the attacks against them will soon be brought to justice.
Two Boys Abandoned After Recently
Converted Father Is Poisoned in Uganda
By ICC’s East Africa Correspondent
11/08/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Growing up in western Uganda, Bwambare and Mumbere, two Ugandan boys never imagined a day when they would be separated from their parents. However, trouble began in November 2016 when their father, Abdul Hamza, converted to Christianity after an evangelist shared the Good News with him.
“I visited the family of Abdul Hamza during my usual village visitations and, after sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, Hamza was convicted of his sins and asked if we could lead him in prayer to receive Christ,” said the evangelist, Rev. Canon Kainja. “His wife was against the idea and she threatened him that leaving Islam would attract grievous measures from their family.”
Rev. Kainja continued, “The young boys had no idea of what was going on and they were outside playing with other children. So I prayed for their father and later on prayed with the boys. Hamza’s wife declined to pray with us.”
While the vast majority of people are Christians in western Uganda, Islam has been increasing dramatically after Muslim traders entered through East Africa in the early 19th century. Conversions to Islam were made communally, thus making it risky for individuals to decide to follow Christ.
Rev. Kainja dedicated his time to guiding Hamza on the new path of living for Christ. He shared, “Abdul Hamza was showing the great joy of being a Christian and his spiritual growth was impressive. He began accompanying me during my evangelistic visitations and many were amazed at his testimony. His wife started complaining how Hamza’s lifestyle is affecting the family ties and if he could reconsider coming back to Islam. He would not listen to any of that. He had become a committed follower of Christ.”
As the days went by, Abdul Hamza gained more knowledge about Christianity and how to reach out to Muslims. Strangely, some of his Muslim friends remained close to him and he thought that was an opportunity to gradually draw them to Christ. Sadly, this would not be the case.
“His wife started complaining how Hamza’s lifestyle is affecting the family ties and if he could reconsider coming back to Islam. He would not listen to any of that. He had become a committed follower of Christ.”
“One evening, Abdul Hamza and his friends went out to the local market to have some tea and snacks,” Rev. Kainja said. “Not suspecting anything, he sipped his tea, amidst catching up [on] the days’ occurrences. He immediately complained of pain in the stomach followed by vomiting. I was informed about his sudden sickness and asked my fellow pastor, Rev. John Murabyo, to help me take Hamza to the hospital. He succumbed to the stomach pain and vomiting, which the doctor later confirmed was food poisoning.”
International Christian Concern (ICC) had the opportunity of speaking with Abdul Hamza’s father, Mr. Ibrahim Masereka, who is a staunch Sunni Muslim. He said, “Everybody in the family was shocked by the conversion of Hamza and we were left with no option other than letting him leave and settle elsewhere because we could not bear the shame. I was pained a lot, but tolerant. Thoughts of killing him never crossed my mind. His wife was so upset, even contemplating a divorce. Later on, Hamza was poisoned and died at the hospital.”
Abdul Hamza joined many Christians who have been killed by poisoning in Uganda.
“His wife did not mourn him,” Rev. Kainja said. “A day after laying to rest Hamza, she left the matrimonial home and their two young boys and got married off to Abdul’s friend, who is suspected of poisoning him.”
The two boys are now living with Rev. Canon Kainja in Kisinga, Kasese district.
For interviews with Nathan Johnson, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Violent Intruder Disrupts CairoChurch, Injuring Two
Egyptian Christians Worry that Authorities Are Ignoring Root Causes of Persecution11/15/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 11, the Church of St. George in Cairo experienced a violent intrusion. According to Watani, the intruder was a 22-year-old man who injured two Christians while shouting Islamic slogans. Police responded to the scene and arrested the attacker.
Egyptian authorities claim that the intruder made the violent disturbance because of a mental illness and drug usage. However, local Christians have expressed concern that this claim is an attempt to hide the Islamic extremism that plagues Egypt.
“The media uses words which don’t reveal the truth,” Ehad, a local believer, told ICC. “Now we have discovered that that this was a young man, not an old one. Also, he was holding a Koran and sharp tool [while] injuring some people on their heads. The media’s role is to reveal the reality and not to hide information to make the Copt[ic Christians] calm down.”
Another local Christian, Majeed, added, “It’s too awful. I can’t imagine that we should adapt to these incidents. Lies and lies and lies… I’m sure that this criminal will not be punished.”
“Mentally ill, what?! How the media manipulates us!” exclaimed Hani, another local Christian.
The intruder reportedly entered the Church of St. George through a room intended for baking bread intended for the Lord’s Supper during the service. The intruder hit the baker on the head with an iron rod, while shouting, “Allah is great.” When another Christian attempted to rescue the baker, he was also injured.
The incident occurred just over a week after the deadly attack against Egyptian Christians traveling to St. Samuel Monastery. Egyptian authorities have experienced a renewal of heavy criticism for failing to address the root causes of Islamic extremism and protect Christians from violence.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Thankfully, no one was seriously injured during the violent intrusion of St. George’s Church, and the police responded quickly. However, we cannot forget the context of the attack. It is not unusual for the Egyptian authorities to claim that something other than Islamic extremism drives the less publicized incidents of persecution. The situation surrounding Egypt’s Christians will not improve unless there is honesty in confronting why these kinds of incidents happen. We must continue to keep Egypt’s Christians in our prayers.”
Message by Pastor Emmanuel Singh
Given recently at CERC Reformation Day Conference.
“Their nation views them as traitors. They are Turks who love their country and their families. But that love is constantly questioned by a government which perpetuates the myth that Turks can only be Muslim.”
More from International Christian Concern magazine (recommended)
Over the last millennia, extremist Islamic influence has eroded Turkey’s relationship with its Christian population, leading to increased acts of terrorism, discrimination, and hatred towards Christianity. Once a shining reminder of the early Christian church, modern-day Turkey has become a convoluted mixture of ethnoreligious persecution. The Turkish government perpetuates the antiChristian narrative by stirring up ethnic and religious hatred towards Christianity through hate speech. Persecution of Christians in Turkey will last as long as its own charged rhetoric allows. Turkey’s admission of large numbers of refugees in the past decade further complicates the situation, bringing new Christian communities into the fold of persecution. The Erosion Begins Turkey is a product of different civilizations and centuries of warfare and conquest. Many pivotal moments in church history occurred on Turkish soil, including
the first seven Ecumenical Councils and the Council of Nicea. It is even known as the birthplace of the early church. Notable followers of Christ, such as Paul of Tarsus, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, and Polycarp of Smyrna, hailed from Turkey. The city of Constantinople, now Istanbul, became the capital of the Byzantine Empire and the headquarters of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This all quickly changed with the aggressive expansion of Islam. In the 7th century, Seljuk Turks captured half of Christian land, including the city of Jerusalem. At the turn of the millennia, Christians rose up to defend the Byzantine Christians from Seljuk Turks and recover the Holy Land in a 200-year conflict known as the Crusades. Both sides committed human rights abuses against each other, a reality that challenges interfaith dialogue and attempts at reconciliation tho this day. Turks’ bitter view of the Crusades presents a significant hurdle for evangelization, and for some Turkish Muslims, justifies the persecution of Christians. The Turks possession of Constantinople in 1453 marked the beginning of an attempt to completely eliminate Christianity in Turkey.
In a symbolic act, they forcefully converted a thousand-year old church and architectural wonder, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque. When the Ottoman Empire officially dissolved in 1923, the modern “secular” state of Turkey was born.
By Meg McEwen
An historical overview of Turkey’s relationship with the Church and its ongoing persecution of Christianity
20th Century Genocides In the 20th century, Christianity dipped from roughly 25% of the population to 2%, a direct result of government-supervised ethnoreligious cleansing. Most of the victims belonged to the Eastern Church. The Turkish government participated in an intensive, highly systematic killing spree, attempting to eliminate the Armenian people Leading up to this event, Armenians were treated as second-class citizens, abused by Muslims under the Ottoman Empire’s dhimmi system. Multiple international attempts were made to establish basic human rights for the Armenian people, but the government never enforced its agreements. The Armenian genocide left approximately one million corpses strewn across the parched path to the Syrian desert, a death march that remains largely controversial within the international community. Both the United States and Israel have failed to recognize the Armenian genocide, though many credible documents and eye-witness reports have surfaced regarding the tragedy. The Assyrian and Greek genocides also contributed to the plummeting number of Christians over the course of the early 1900s. Modern-Day Turkey Authorities consistently level hate-speech at Christians, keeping the spirit of enmity alive. Christians are not allowed to train their clergymen, and authorities rarely give them permission to establish a place of worship unless it is in a historical building. Christians are ostracized from society for choosing to opt out of compulsory religious classes. Churches find it nearly impossible to obtain legal standing as
religious congregations. Religious affiliation has been removed from ID cards but is still visible in back end systems, leading to government discrimination. Christians live in uncertainty under the surveillance of President Erdoğan, who recently used an imprisoned American pastor, Andrew Brunson, for leverage in hostage diplomacy with the United States. The president plans to reinforce the Muslim religion by pulling down public schools and replacing them with religious schools. Fifteen years ago, there were only 450 religious schools in Turkey. There are 4,500 today. The president expressed his desire to raise a “pious generation,” which will almost certainly translate into a “violent generation” in the aftermath. Levels of Persecution A large influx of refugees from neighboring, war-torn countries placed new communities of Christians under government pressure, with levels of persecution varying by ethnicity. Christian Turks face a high degree of persecution because the Turkish population is predominantly Muslim. There are 70 million people and 6,000 Turkish Christians, making it difficult for the Christians to practice their faith. In the culture’s understanding, Turkish and Islamic blood run in the same veins. The Turks consider Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be brothers, a remnant of the glorious former Ottoman empire. Christians in these communities are hated, marked as traitors to their heritage. Iranian Christian refugees land on the other side of the persecution spectrum; they are largely left alone, free to worship God. Even though Iranian Christians enjoy relative religious freedom, they fear that they
People who work closely with President Recep Erdoğan describe him as a stern patriarch who alternates between faithful piety and fiery oratory. Before Erdoğan, religion in Turkey remained primarily in the private sphere, and piety was hardly a defining feature of its secular government. But with Erdoğan’s climb up the political ladder, Islamism has come front and center. Erdoğan has transformed Turkey into an Islamic authoritarian state at war with Christianity. Erdoğan’s devotion to Islam is not surprising. He grew up in the Black Sea Region, known for its Islamic conservatism. Ironically, the Black Sea was once the heart of Christianity in ancient Turkey, but today, its Christians number only in the dozens. The fact that Erdoğan’s home community, and possibly even his own ancestors, used to be predominantly Christian makes his brand of Islamic nationalism all the more tragic. Islamist Worldview What does surprise is how quickly Erdoğan’s worldview and message gained traction among his countrymen. He rose from mayor of Istanbul in 1994, to the nation’s Prime Minister in 2003, to President in 2014. Many point to Erdoğan’s four-month imprisonment in 1998 as a defining moment. Charged with “inciting hatred” after reading a religious nationalist poem at a rally, he entered prison openly devoted to Islamism, but left claiming he would wall off his religion from his politics. Shortly after his release, he was quoted by the New York Times as saying, “Before anything else, I’m a Muslim. As a Muslim, I try to comply with the requirements of my religion… But I try now
very much to keep this away from my political life, to keep it private.” Because Erdoğan’s prison experience was one of luxury and comfort, some doubted its transformative effects. In fact, his jail sentence served to boost his profile, and his public charisma grew. In 2001 he helped found the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and two short years later he was elected Prime Minister. Defender of Christianity? A decade and a half later, Erdoğan remains in power (now as President), and Turkey looks radically different. For the first 10 years of his leadership, the country’s slide towards Islamism was hard to perceive. Erdoğan even seemed to defend Christianity at times. In 2007, when young Muslim extremists murdered three Christians operating a Bible publishing house in Malatya, one of the suspects was quoted saying, “Our religion (Islam) is being destroyed. Let this be a lesson to enemies of our religion.” Erdoğan said of the attack: “This is savagery.” Though such incidents make Erdoğan’s Islamism seem less blatant, his authoritarian bent remained clear. The tumultuous aftermath of the failed military coup in July 2016 led to a massive purge of journalists, government officials, teachers, and many others, displaying the draconian character of Erdoğan’s regime. The failed coup also testified to how drastically Turkey had changed, as much of the populace rallied to put down the coup. With the coup’s failure, Erdoğan purged his opponents, both real and perceived, emerging more powerful than ever. He brandished the strident style of his younger days as he took steps to solidify his grip on power. Islamism reemerged as a defining feature of his politics and rhetoric.
Revival of Ottoman Tradition In other words, Erdoğan declared himself openly at war with Atatürk, the founder of Turkey’s secular state. Erdoğan is a passionate historian and a great admirer of Abdülhamid II, known as the “bloody sultan” of the Ottoman Empire. Where Atatürk had cast off the Islamic authority of the Ottoman Empire, Erdoğan seeks to resurrect it, picking up where Abdülhamid II, the empire’s last effective sultan, left off. Said Erdoğan this past February, “Those who think that we have erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong… We are struggling so that a foreign flag will not be waved anywhere where adhan [Islamic call to prayer in mosques] is recited. The things we have done so far [pale in comparison to the] even greater attempts and attacks [we are planning for] the coming days, inshallah [Allah willing].” It is this open declaration of war that deeply troubles Turkey’s Christians. They know that their president’s view of history matters greatly when it comes to their future. They know that the way Turks in general view Christians is a product of how they interpret the close of Ottoman history. Explains one believer, “During the independent war we fought against lots of countries and some bishops blessed the Turks enemies. That’s why people started to hate Christianity and Christians. Also, some of the enemies’ flags had crosses, like Greece. And because of that people started to see Christians as an enemy.” Erdoğan has tapped into the deepest cultural fears of Turks and promised to resurrect 600 years of Ottoman history with himself as chief proponent. Indeed, he has positioned himself well. One year after the coup, he enacted constitutional changes that greatly reduced the role of parliament and consolidated power within his “executive presidency.” These changes came into full effect in June 2018, after Erdoğan “won” a hotly disputed early election. As his rhetoric increasingly demonstrates, Erdoğan views all opposition to his new authoritarianism as a “clash between cross and crescent.” More than any other leader besides Atatürk, Erdoğan has thoroughly transformed Turkey. The question is, what role do Christians have in Turkey’s future? Are they the enemies, as Erdoğan’s rhetoric suggests? Or are they second-class, dhimmi citizens, just as they were under Ottoman rule?
President Erdoğan’s Rise Signals Trouble for Christians
By Claire Evans
“Those who think that we have erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong…” – PRESIDENT RECEP ERDOĞAN
I was born in a country where Christianity is a deeply rooted, but deeply marginalized religion. Turkey, which today encompasses Asia Minor (or Anatolia), contains more biblical sites than any other region in the Middle East except Israel. Many Christian Apostles and Saints, such as Paul of Tarsus, Peter, John, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, and Polycarp of Smyrna, among others, either ministered or lived in Turkey. The Seven Churches of Asia, the major churches of early Christianity, are in Anatolia. The first seven ecumenical councils were also held there. The first was convened in A.D. 325 by the emperor Constantine in Nicaea (Iznik). Today, however, only 0.2 percent of Turkey’s population of nearly 80 million are Christian. Centuries of Islamic Control The Islamization of the region began when Turkic tribes from Central Asia invaded the Armenian highland of the Greek Byzantine Empire in 1071 and started occupying Christian cities. Those Muslim tribes first established the Seljuk Empire in Anatolia and then ruled the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923). For centuries, Christians became dhimmis— third-class, tolerated citizens forced to pay a tax in exchange for “protection” under Islamic Sharia law. Then from 1914 to 1923, the Ottoman government and Turkish nationalist forces committed genocide against Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians. Approximately 3 million Christians perished. Many Greek Christian survivors were forcibly expelled from Turkey in 1923. But successive Turkish governments have aggressively denied that the genocide ever occurred and have continued persecuting Christians. From 1941-1942, the Turkish military attempted to force Christians and Jews—
including the elderly and mentally ill— to work under horrendous conditions in labor battalions. In 1942, a Wealth Tax was imposed to eliminate Christians and Jews from the economy. A savage anti-Greek pogrom in 1955 also targeted Armenians and Jews in Istanbul. In 1964, thousands of Greeks were forcefully expelled from Turkey. These policies all contributed to the annihilation of Christians in the country. Present-Day Discrimination Christians remain exposed to severe oppression in Turkey. Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians, for example, cannot freely obtain education in the Theological School of Halki, the main theological school of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The school was shut down by the Turkish government in 1971 and has not been reopened. Since that time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual center of Orthodox Christianity, has been unable to train clergy and potential successors for the patriarch. The remaining Christian Assyrians are also struggling with many challenges. For example, they lack the official right to public education in their own institutions. In Istanbul, they are attempting to open a private elementary school although the government refuses to grant financial support. Meanwhile, both the government and some Muslim Kurdish locals in southeast Turkey continue to illegally seize their properties. Protestants are among the most oppressed Christians in Turkey. The government does not recognize the Protestant community as a “legal entity.” Hence, Protestants hold no right to freely establish and maintain churches. The Protestant community also faces discrimination in the training of religious leaders. Since current law prohibits the opening of religious training schools, the Protestant community relies on support from foreign church leaders. Sadly, several foreign religious workers and church members have been deported, denied entry into Turkey, refused residence permits, or denied entry visas. Violence Not Limited to the Past Several incidents in recent memory reinforce the very real threat of physical violence against Christians. In 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian Catholic priest, was murdered in his church in the city of Trabzon by a Muslim shouting “Allahu akbar” (Allah is the greatest). A year later, three Christian employees of the Zirve Bible Publishing House in Malatya were tortured and murdered by five Muslim assailants. Two of the victims were converts. In Anatolia, where Christianity was once the majority religion and thrived for centuries, Turkey’s state forces target and demonize Christian missionaries. And it appears that police, military and intelligence organizations are involved in the murders of Christians in the country. Turkey’s National Security Council has even argued that missionary activities should be regarded as a “national threat.”
“Christians remain exposed to severe oppression in Turkey. “
The Systematic Eradication of Christian Civilization in Turkey By Uzay Bulut
Who Can Count the Cultural Loss? The destruction of churches and their use for sacrilegious purposes such as stables are among the physical outcomes of Christian annihilation and Islamic intolerance in Turkey. But even more alarming is the destruction of the immense knowledge and great cultural legacies of millions of Christians—including that of Christian saints, philosophers and other scholars. Throughout its long history in Turkey, Christian teachings served as an inspiration for philosophy, literature, ethics, philanthropy, architecture, music and theatre, among other fields. Anatolian Christians—both in ancient times as well as under the rule of Byzantines and even as dhimmis under the Ottoman occupation—made countless contributions to human progress in the fields of science, technology, medicine, art, law and politics. Today, however, the Turkish state does not even recognize the “Ecumenical” status of the Patriarch and Patriarchate, the spiritual center of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Meanwhile, the destruction of Christianity is accompanied by the rise of political Islam in Turkey. For example, 54 percent of the participants in a 2017 survey conducted by the progovernment MAK counseling company said “yes” to Turkey having “a religious leadership similar to the caliphate.” Sadly, Turkish governments have carried out their oppressive and destructive actions against Christians either with the active participation or the silent approval of the clear majority of the Muslim Turkish people. Never once in their history have Turkish people attempted to protest the government as Christian and other non-Muslim citizens of the country were and still are exposed to horrific injustices such as murders, pogroms, rapes, and various social pressures. Annihilating Christian peoples and cultures in Turkey has harmed not only Christians but humanity at large. Sadly, the West still looks away as Turkey’s rich Christian heritage is on the verge of disappearing forever.
One cool evening in Ankara, I joined four Turks for tea. All were university-aged converts, two of whom still keep their conversion secret. They gather almost every night and challenge one another to grow in their faith despite the many hardships they face. This night, in hushed but urgent tones, they were eager to unburden themselves about the crisis of identity they face as Turkish Christians. “Ankara is a dark place, a conservative place,” explained one woman. “It is spiritually depressing.” Tears welled in the eyes of another. She was unable to speak for several minutes. She looked toward her brother who nodded in assent about the spiritual darkness surrounding them. Ankara is the capitol of Turkey and its second largest city, a hub of rich history and culture. The palatial Presidential Complex and other government ministries are scattered among its neighborhoods. The mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern day Turkey, is toured by millions
every year. When I visited, I was struck by the reverence on the faces of so many who had journeyed there. I wondered aloud why the man who invented the concept of Turkishness would be so admired almost 100 years later. What is “Turkishness?” “Most people show respect to Atatürk. I also like him and show respect to his ideas,” explained one of the Christians gathered at the café. He described his parents as terrorists, and said he was afraid to tell them of his conversion because they are Islamic nationalists. He added, “The most important one of Atatürk’s six principles is secularism, I think. Through the secularist system that he brought, we can have a choice to change to another religion from Islam. So I think Atatürk’s influence is really important and great for us who were Muslims before.” His friend has also kept his conversion a secret, but for a different reason—his family is committed to secular nationalism. He told me, “I became a Christian and immediately felt like I betrayed my country. I still feel that way.” “Turkish people believe that if you aren’t Muslim, you’re an enemy. When you ask people’s religion here, some people will say ‘I am Turk.’ Because people believe that if you’re Turk, you have to be Muslim,” he continued. Similar comments about Turkishness have marked every conversation I’ve had with believers in Turkey. Strong ideas about what it means to be a Turk have spread from their origin in Ankara all across the county’s 81 provinces. A fierce defensiveness about the Turkish national identity has been carefully cultivated. It has provided the fodder for Turkey’s transformation from a quasi-democratic state to a thoroughly authoritarian one. Turks to the World: “We Will Not Bow” In his 2014 post-election speech, President Erdoğan proclaimed, “The people gave a clear message to Turkey and to the world: What did they say? They said, ‘We are here.’ They said, ‘The Turkish people are impassable … We are the owners of this country. The people will not bow and Turkey is invincible.’” President Erdoğan won his 2018 election by further emphasizing that authentic Turkishness means a coming war between cross and crescent. The pressure of being true to the national identity is felt by Christian all across the country. Churches are so rare in Turkey that they are considered a foreign novelty, and are often visited by touring Muslims. One pastor
TURKEY’S YOUNG CHRISTIANS FEEL THE WEIGHT OF THE SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN THEIR LAND
Turkish believers wrestle with the entrenched cultural belief that real Turks are and must be Muslim.
By Claire Evans
in Eastern Turkey shared that, “…they come to church and when I start talking, they are like, ‘Wow, you speak such good Turkish!’ And I say, ‘Well of course, I am a Turk!’” Free to Gather, For Now Back in Ankara, the four young Turks sitting in the café continued to contemplate how the idea of Turkishness had impacted their lives. It was clear that talking about their challenges with each other had greatly eased the burden. As we left the café, one pointed to a public square renamed after those who defended Erdoğan during the 2016 coup. Since the coup, state surveillance of Christians has increased and the idea of Turkishness has been further ingrained in Turkey’s citizens. These four believers are able to safely gather, for now. But so many others are not. Their families view them as apostates to their religion. Their nation views them as traitors. They are Turks who love their country and their families. But that love is constantly questioned by a government which perpetuates the myth thwill eventually face government pressure. The Turkish government is already actively relocating them to nationalistic cities with large Islamic communities, like the other refugee communities. Armenian, Assyrian, and Kurdish Christians endure a more intense form of persecution because they are nationally hated in Turkey for their religion and ethnicity. The Turks already persecute Armenian and Assyrians on an ethnic front, so the few Christians who survive within these communities truly endure the brunt of this persecution. In Southeast Turkey, a war is being waged between Turks and Kurds. Turks believe that Kurds are terrorists and thus seek to isolate the community to “protect” national security. Because they successfully established similar regions in in Iraq and Syria, they are labeled as unstable terrorists by the Turkish government (and the international community). The Turks frequently isolate and despise Kurdish communities in an attempt to repress a mounting rebellion. Christian missionaries have been imprisoned or deported while trying to minister and evangelize the Kurds. For this reason, the Kurds are an increasingly unreached ethnic group. ICC’s Involvement in Turkey Due to the extremely sensitive position of Christians in Turkey, we must be vague in describing our work there. But the brittle spiritual ground in Turkey has not stopped the Lord from paving a way for ICC to minister to persecuted Christians. ICC is building a nursery for MBBs (Muslim background believers) who leave their young toddlers at home alone while they work the only jobs open to them – those that require long hours and heavy labor. With the help of ICC, an illegal church is moving to a new location to safely accommodate its growing numbers. ICC also provides legal assistance to pastors who have been singled out by authorities because of their ministry work and advocates with the United States government to effect policies that may ease the pressure on Christians in Turkey.
See other posts on Turkey: Category Turkey
Rustram was converted to Christ and now works as Tajik Bible Teacher for SAT-7 a middle eastern Christian TV channel. They need more Tajik and Afghan presenters (languages related). Pray for believers who face much opposition in these countries.
|Sep. 28, 2017 | Pakistan
This man has been in prison longer than Aasia Bibi!
Three Muslim men badly beat a Christian convert in the village of Tamchi in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, on 17 October, leaving him fighting for his life.
The attackers cornered Eldos, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, alone in a courtyard and attempted to force him to say the shahada (the Islamic creed). Recitation of the shahada is considered conversion to Islam. He was viciously beaten and left bleeding with severe concussion, a jaw fracture, missing teeth, a bleeding eye, and suspected brain haemorrhage.
Allegedly, the police attempted to disguise the religious motivation for the attack by claiming Eldos was beaten for playing loud music. They forced him to sign a statement to this effect, which they said he had given them verbally. However, Eldos’ lawyer confirmed he had been unable to speak at the time because of the injury to his jaw.
Eldos has since had a complicated operation on his jaw and now needs treatment for his eye and dentures to replace his lost teeth.
Eldos was beaten unconscious – but will not be silenced
Eldos from Kyrgyzstan was beaten to within an inch of his life – for the ‘crime’ of turning to Christ.
The Christian was hospitalised with serious head injuries, including a broken jaw, and his attackers threatened to kill him if he went to the police.
But he ignored their threats and has spoken out, to try to protect other Christians.
Please ask God to protect Eldos and heal him fully.
His assailants ordered him to deny Christ and read a prayer converting back to Islam but he refused. Our partner reports that the police have not yet taken any action in Eldos’ defence.
- Please ask God to heal Eldos, in his body, mind and spirit. Pray that He will renew in Eldos a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).
- Thank God for Eldos’ bravery in choosing to speak out about the attack. Pray that this decision will highlight persecution in Kyrgyzstan and cause officials to take action to protect minorities including Christians.
- Pray that Eldos’ attackers will be apprehended and charged and repent of their crimes and come to know the unconditional love of Christ for themselves. (See below for more on our #Pray50 campaign)
(Source: Release partner)
Click here to watch our recent film on persecution in Central Asia.
Many Christians in Kyrgyzstan live with constant persecution since the introduction of a very restrictive Religion Law in 2009. In October 2017, a pastor’s grandson was severely beaten at school for being a Christian and in May 2018 a Christian woman in Kyrgyzstan, recently converted from Islam, was held captive in her home and beaten by her Muslim family for refusing to renounce her faith in Christ.
Western hypocrisy, Saudi Arabia and the
persecution of Christians
Western oil interests and a quest for Middle Eastern “stability” mean Saudi Arabia is welcomed as an ally of the so-called Christian West – a profound contradiction that ignores the country’s treatment of Christians and involvement in jihadist violence around the globe. The largely unquestioning support of Western governments for Saudi Arabia is an insult to Christ’s followers there who live in the shadow of death.
It is a capital offence for a Muslim to convert to Christianity in Saudi Arabia. Although none have been officially executed, as far as is known, some converts have been murdered by family members. The number of Saudi nationals who are Christians is unknown and even for foreigners it is not advisable or safe to be openly Christian in Saudi Arabia because it is illegal to manifest any religion publicly except Islam. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians among the estimated two million non-Muslim foreign workers in the kingdom. They are only able to worship in secret and even private gatherings are sometimes raided by religious police. Active believers, including Western expatriates, face potential deportation; non-Westerners can face imprisonment and torture.
In Saudi Arabia, no non-Muslim public buildings are permitted. In 2012, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, when asked about church buildlings in Kuwait, stated it was “necessary to destroy all churches in the region”, based on a hadith. The hadith (traditional record of Muhammad’s life and teachings) narrates that on his death bed Muhammad declared, “There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula.”
Following his death in 632, Muhammad’s successors followed his instruction to permit only Islam in the region. There is no mention of Christianity in Saudi Arabia in the historical records after 650.
In May 2018, a story claiming that the Saudi government had struck a deal with the Vatican to allow the construction of church buildings was widely reported in Western press, but later dismissed as fake news after the Vatican denied it and the Egyptian newspaper that broke the story retracted it.
Western support for Saudi Arabia
The modern nation of Saudi Arabia was formed by Ibn Saud in the 1920s, gaining recognition from the UK in 1927, although British politicians were well aware of the true nature of the regime. Earlier in the 1920s, Winston Churchill, then Colonial Secretary, had described daily life under the Saudis’ Wahhabi interpretation of Islam: “They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions … Women have been put to death in Wahhabi villages for simply appearing in the streets … Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette.”
Today, Saudi Arabia is one of nine countries which formally include hudud punishments (meaning the penalty is specified in the Quran) within their legal system, but it is the country most frequently known for handing down sentences such as floggings and amputations. But for successive Western governments, the desire for a “friend” in the oil-rich region appears to have outweighed any scruples individual leaders might have about supporting Saudi Arabia. The ruling royal family has maintained a close relationship with Western governments, including agreeing lucrative arms deals and leasing military bases.
It is a tragedy that Western nations whose governments claim to be defenders of democracy and religious freedom ignore Saudi Arabia’s brutal repression of all religions other than Islam.
The Wahhabi movement founded in the 1700s by Abd al-Wahhab sought to purify Sunni Islam, returning to fundamentalist ideas emphasising the original interpretation of jihad (struggle) as a physical war against religious enemies. Wahhabism spawned ideology which has been adopted by Al Qaeda, which in turn shaped the birth of the Islamic State (IS) militant group. (It was IS that was responsible for ethnic cleansing and genocide of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, and also enslaved women and girl children, many of whom were sold on to the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.) The ideology is spreading in Africa and its impact can be seen in several strongly Christian countries, including Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya.
Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabi jihadi ideology has profoundly changed the modern world and especially the Middle East. The country’s oil wealth has been used to fund mosques, charities and Islamic institutions worldwide, as well as radical Islamist groups. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks in the US were Saudi.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has provided funding for Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq and is widely thought to have directly aided Islamic State. In Yemen, it has helped Sunni government troops fighting Iranian-backed Shia Houthi forces in a civil war that has become the latest expression of Sunni Saudi Arabia’s proxy fight for dominance in the Middle East
Pursuing truth for persecuted Christians in the Middle East
In an era of fake news, when truth is often the first casualty of over-simplified Western media reporting, Christians should not unquestioningly accept the narrative of Western governments and media that excuses the near eradication of Christianity in Saudi Arabia. Neither should we ignore Saudi support for the spread of violent jihadism, which has brought terror to the West and aided Islamist groups who continue to target our brothers and sisters across the world.
She should be recompensed and sent with family on first plane to the west.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges after accepting her 2015 appeal against her sentence.
“The judgement of the high court and that of the trial court is reversed,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said, reading out the verdict. He added that Asia Bibi should be set free if she is not wanted in any other case.
“Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” the judgement read. (Dawn)
All glory to GOD in the Highest!
We congratulate to Pakistan for their courage!
Chengdu church members continue to suffer for Christ.
(Morning Star News) – Following the arrest of 44 worshipers from house church meetings in southwestern China in February, police in Chengdu this month arrested a married couple from the church and beat them during interrogation, the church reported.
The couple, identified as Liu and his wife Xing, of Early Rain Covenant Church, were visiting Christian friends when police from Chengdu Shuyuan Police Station on March 2 detained them and took them to Taisheng Road Police Station for interrogation, according to the church, whose pastor along with more than 100 others was arrested in a Dec. 9 raid.
“At 2 p.m., while being interrogated, they were personally humiliated, abused, and violently beaten by seven to eight police officers from the Chengdu Taisheng Road Police Station,” the church’s March 2 statement on Facebook reads. “They were detained for nearly eight hours. After being beaten by police officers from…
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Will this make the slightest difference? I doubt it!
Nigeria(Morning Star News) – The government of Nigeria failed to protect people massacred by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in predominantly Christian areas of Benue state in 2016 and should prosecute those responsible, a West African court has ruled.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice on Feb. 26 ordered the government to investigate theattacksthat killed more than 300 Christians and destroyed property in the Agatu area, identify and prosecute the perpetrators and redress victims.
“The Nigerian government was in violation of its obligation to protect the human rights of these communities,” the three judges stated in their unanimous verdict.
The court also ordered Nigeria’s government to take urgent measures to protect Christians in the area by deployment of soldiers and police personnel to the affected communities. The suit states that in the past three years, Muslim Fulani attacks have killed 1,000 people…
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INDIA (Morning Star News) – Cases of hate and violence against Christians in India increased 57 percent the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year, an advocacy group reported.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission (EFIRLC) documented 77 incidents of hate and targeted violence against Christians in January and February, up from 49 cases during the same period last year. The cases include the murders of one Christian in Odisha state and another in Chhattisgarh state,both in February.
“We have reasons to believe that both men, who were in their 40s, were killed because of their faith,” the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the EFI, told Morning Star News. “We have recorded cases where Christians have been facing social boycott and have been excommunicated from their villages, and in a few instances have had to flee to…
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