U.S. President speaks out for American Pastor imprisoned in Turkey

Trump is right and the Turks have trumped up charges and wrong agenda.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

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Andrew Brunson, is standing trial on terrorism-related charges and Christianization. He faces up to 35 years in prison which could be considered as a life sentence for Pastor Brunson, who is now. 50 yr., denies all charges.

Brunson’s supporters say Turkey is using Brunson as a bargaining chip for Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living who in exile in Pennsylvania. Turkish officials claim Gulen is the mastermind of the 2016 coup attempt. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has demanded that the Trump administration to extradite Fethullah Gulen in…

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Iranian Christian Converts, Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Askari charged.

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Hadi Askari released on bail
Hadi Askari (40) a Christian convert from Islam, has been granted conditional release from prison in Iran after posting bail. He left Evin Prison on Wednesday 11 April after twenty months’ imprisonment and is now waiting for his appeal against his ten-year sentence to be heard.

Iranian Christians strong in their faith
Praise God that despite being under pressure to convert back to Islam, Iranian believers Amin Nader Afshar and Hadi Askary, who both have long prison sentences, are reported to be firm in their faith! Pray that their appeals will succeed. Please also pray for our Iranian brothers Eskandar Rezaei and Suroush Saraei who were each sentenced on December 28, 2017, to eight years in prison. They are now appealing their sentences: pray their appeals will be heard swiftly and be successful.
Pastor Victor Bet Tamarz (10 year sentence), Amin (15 years), Hadi (10 years) bail £46,000 each. Lawyer will appeal.

IRAN – Two Christian converts have finally been charged by the authorities, seven months after being abducted by armed men as they picnicked with their families. Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Askari, both converts from Islam, have been incarcerated in the notorious Evin prison since September. Both men have been convicted for ” acting against national security” and “organizing house churches”. They have filed appeals.  Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz is on bail.

May the two men recover from hunger strike and their sentences be repealed.

The Iranian government brutally represses Farsi-speaking (i.e. Muslim background) churches, often called house churches. The persecution of Iranian Christians worsened in 2016.

From Mohabat news here

afshar_hadi

Imprisoned Christians end hunger strike in Iran

Earlier this week, two Christian converts who have been in prison since August 2016 ended their hunger strike after being promised medical care and progress in their case.
On 5 February, Amin Afshar Naderi (on left of image) and Hadi Askari (on right) went on hunger strike to demand medical care and to protest about delays in their case. No charges have been brought against either man.
On Tuesday (14 February), the Head of the Attorney General’s office Ali Akbar Bakhtiari and his deputy visited Naderi and Askari in Evin Prison in Tehran. They promised to investigate their case and that of others imprisoned for their religious beliefs, so Naderi and Askari ended their hunger strike.+

Prisoners of Faith Alert

Imprisoned twice in two years
Iranian Christian Amin Nader Afshar (pictured) is currently in prison in Iran for the second time in two years simply because he became a follower of Christ and seeks to live out his faith in his community.
Amin, together with several Christian friends, was arrested in August 2016 and remains in custody with no immediate prospect of release. Please pray for this dear brother, his family, his two Christian friends also incarcerated in Evin prison in Tehran, and for many other Iranian prisoners of faith.

Further updates reveal that Christian convert prisoner, Amin Afshar Naderi is still being held in Evin prison, despite earlier reports about his release.

Mohabat News – On October 19, 2016, a report came out of Iran that three of the five Christians arrested earlier in Firouz-kouh county, had been released. However, follow-up efforts have revealed that one of the three Christians previously thought to have been released, Amin Afshar Naderi, is still being held in prison.

Knowledgeable sources told Mohabat News that the other two Christians, Mohammad Dehnavi and Ramil Bet-Tamraz, son of Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz were in fact released on bail, while their fellow believer, Amin Afshar Naderi still remains in prison.

As previously reported, the two Christians who were in fact released, had to post very heavy bails. They will be released until the day of their trial. As of now, three of the five believers still in prison are Amin Afshar Naderi, Amir Saman Dashti and Hadi Asgari, none of whom are officially charged yet. There are no further updates on their case and how long they will be held in prison in uncertainty.

Keeping political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in prison without any official charge is a known tactic of the Iranian government in order to pressure such prisoners.

These five Christian prisoners had been arrested on August 26, 2016 in a raid on a family gathering in Firouz-kouh county.

Reports from that incident state the plain-clothed security authorities beat a number of those attending the family gathering and after arresting five of them, they left their families with no news on the whereabouts of their loved ones. Their families said they checked with many prisons across the country but they were told such names are not registered as official prisoners in their system.

As many Iranians have shown incredible interest in Christianity in recent years, the Iranian Islamic regime has ramped up its campaign to crack down on Iranian Christian converts and prevent the spread of house church gatherings. Iran falsely sees its citizens’ conversion to Christianity as a threat to its existence and national security.

 

More Pakistani Christians Murdered

via 4 Christians killed for faith by Islamists in Pakistan

International Christian Concern

At Least Two Christians Killed in

Drive-By Shooting in Pakistan

 

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Third Attack on Christians in Quetta

04/16/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least two Christians were killed and three others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a group of Christians gathered in the Essa Nagri area of Quetta, Pakistan. ISIS’s local branch claimed responsibility for Sunday’s deadly attack, marking its third attack on Christians in Quetta in recent months.

“Four men on two motorbikes opened indiscriminate fire” on a group of Christians,“killing two people while injuring three others,” local police official Abdul Razzaq Cheema told AFP. The shooting took place around 5:30 p.m. Victims were rushed to Bolan Medical Complex in Quetta where two of the victims, Azhar Iqbal and Rahid Khalid, succumbed to their wounds.

The attack took place in the Christian-majority neighborhood of Essa Nagri in Quetta. Following the attack, hundreds of Christians gathered to protest the killings. Protesters burned tires and blocked traffic as they called on the government to provide their community with greater security.

“The Christian community in Quetta has yet again become a target of rising intolerance and violence in society,” Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace said in a statement. “[We] strongly condemn these acts of terrorism and violence.”

Sunday’s shooting marks the third attack on Christians claimed by ISIS in Quetta. In December 2017, ISIS suicide bombers attacked Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, killing nine and injuring dozens more. Two weeks ago, on April 2, ISIS claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of a Christian family riding in an auto-rickshaw in Quetta. Following the attack, ISIS said that a “covert unit” of its militants “managed to target a number of the combatant Christians.”

“The Christian community is feeling insecure and threatened,” Pastor Simon of Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta told ICC. “We are not safe at places of worship, schools, or residential apartments. The majority of Christians are so depressed they are not sending their children to school and even avoid going to gatherings such as social or religious events.”

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We here at International Christian Concern stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan in condemning this heinous attack. No one should fear being attacked and killed because of their religious identity. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Christians in Quetta have had to face this extreme violence. Pakistan’s authorities must do more to secure Christians and their places of worship. Pakistan must also make efforts to root out the extremist elements perpetrating these attacks. Until then, it is likely that attacks on the Christian community of Quetta will continue.”  

North Korea-pastor Kim Kuk-gi.

1 July 2015

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I cannot believe these Christians would act as paid spies and carry forged currency!

Among other things Kim was accused of spreading “religious propaganda” from an “underground church” he ran in Dandong, which has a large ethnic Korean community and is a hub of both official and illicit cross-border trade.

In 2014 North Korea sentenced a South Korean missionary to hard labour for life on charges of espionage and setting up an underground church.

Although religious freedom is enshrined in the North Korean constitution it does not exist in practice and religious activity is severely restricted to officially recognised groups linked to the government.

Pyongyang views foreign missionaries as seditious elements intent on fomenting unrest and those who are caught engaging in any unauthorised activities in the North are subject to immediate arrest.

This month’s Prisoners of Faith Alert is an update on the prisoner profile for pastor Kim Kuk-gi. This ordained Presbyterian minister was recently sentenced to life imprisonment in a North Korean labour camp. When news of the sentence was made public Release’s partners in South Korea requested prayer for Brother Kim and his family.

Thank you for supporting and caring for Christians in prison. Be assured: your prayers bring comfort and encouragement to our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Please consider writing a simple card or letter of encouragement to Pastor Kim’s family (see attached pdf).

By praying for, supporting and writing to, and on behalf of, prisoners of faith you are fulfilling the biblical exhortation to ‘REMEMBER THOSE IN PRISON’ (Hebrews 13:3).

Nigerian anarchy

 

Linda Maina (17) was abducted on her way to a wedding and forcibly “married” to a Muslim as part of a national Islamic plot to destroy as many Christian girls as possible. Her distraught father said it appeared the Muslims can do what they want and the security forces are in league with them. At a Sharia court hearing neither she nor her father nor his lawyer were allowed to speak. Pray for this girl and hundreds more like her who are being held against their will. Remember the Chibok girls  100 of whom are still detained four years after their kidnapping.

Syrian conflict

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Syrian Christians at prayer
Christians of Syria thank God, even at this time of crisis: remember them today
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Syrian Christians are very grateful to their brothers and sisters around the world who joined with them in praying and fasting for Syria on Friday. When the US, France and UK fired their missiles at Syria early on Saturday morning (14 April), it was a terrifying experience for people in Damascus and Homs, especially for the children, but it seems no one was killed. Syrian Christians praise God for His intervention.

Syrian Christian mother and child
Syrian Christian mother and child

“We ask people to pray for peace for Syria and its people,” said one Syrian Christian to Barnabas Fund on Saturday. “We offer our prayers for … the deliverance of Syria from all kinds of war and terrorism,” wrote a group of senior church leaders the same day.

Assurance that God is with them

A Christian leader has spoken to Barnabas Fund of the Syrian Christians’ conviction that God is with them at this time, as He has been during the last seven years of war. Many have been killed and wounded; many have fled to seek refuge both internally and externally; mothers are in great distress each day as they send their children off to school, wondering if they will ever see their little ones again, longing to be with them if a missile strikes. Yet Syrian Christians continue to believe and to express their confidence in God that He will be their Helper and their Protector, that He is sovereign, and above all else that He is with them at this time of great trial.

Syrian Christians at prayer
Syrian Christians at prayer

They call upon the international community to find ways of peace, and for Christians around the world to pray with them and for them. They fear that an international war in their beloved homeland will not only devastate the whole Syrian population but could be a catastrophe for the Syrian Christian community and for all Christians in the Middle East.

Indeed, the damage to Christians in Islamic contexts could go still further. A Pakistani Christian leader said last month that a war in the Middle East could trigger attacks on Christians in Pakistan. For whenever the West attacks Muslim people, Muslim extremists retaliate by attacking vulnerable Christian minorities.

Will you keep praying with and for our Christian brothers and sisters?

Abraham in Indonesia

Prisoners of Faith Alert
Pray for Christian arrested on false charges

Well-known Christian apologist Abraham Ben Moses was arrested last December after authorities learned of a video in which he shares the gospel with a Muslim taxi driver. The 53-year-old  from Tangerang, Java, has been charged with blasphemy, hate speech and violating Indonesia’s information and electronic transactions law and is currently being held in prison. If convicted, he faces up to five years behind bars. Please pray for his health while he is in detention, as he suffers from a blood glucose disorder.

Click the image to download the Prisoner Profile for Abraham.

Click on this link to find out more about others who have been imprisoned for their Christian faith.

Nigerian security non-existent

Apr. 12, 2018 | Nigeria
Pray for Christians Recovering from Repeated Attacks on their Village

Andrew Brunson trial

Disgraceful scapegoating of a godly missionary for political ends.

American pastor Andrew Brunson (50) appeared in court in Izmir on Monday (16 April) to face charges of aiding terrorist groups that could result in a 35-year prison sentence. After the indictment was read and Andrew responded, the judge adjourned the trial for three weeks.

Andrew stated that he is a servant of God and that his motive in coming to Turkey was to preach Jesus Christ and raise disciples. He said he loves Turkey, has been praying for the country for 25 years and has done nothing wrong. 

Andrew has been in prison in Turkey since October 2016.

Read the full report

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

A Turkish court approved an indictment against Black Mountain native Andrew Brunson, clearing the way for a trial on April 16, 2018 that could result in his being imprisoned in that country for up to 35 years.

On March 28, Sen. Thom Tillis announced that he met with imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson on March 26 at Buca Prison in Ismir, Turkey.

“Pastor Brunson is strengthened by his love for his family and his faith in God, but his health has deteriorated,” Tillis said in a statement. “He has lost 50 pounds and spends 24 hours a day in a cell with limited human contact.  He is attempting to visit a doctor this week, which involves him being handcuffed and transported with several armed guards. He fears the possibility that the American government accepts the indictment and forgets about him, which we will not allow to happen.

“There should be no…

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MORE ERITREAN ARRESTS

ERITREA: Newlyweds among 32 Christians arrested in Asmara in March

The newlyweds and their guests were arrested on 5 March at the couple’s home. Ten friends were visiting for a traditional coffee ceremony to welcome the bride when local security officers forced their way into the house and arrested all twelve people present. They were taken to Asmara’s No. 5 Police Station.

The authorities released eight of the group two days later, after they presented valid travel IDs (documents of permission to move around Eritrea). The four remaining Christians, including the newlyweds, were moved to Adi Abeito Prison, north of Asmara. The couple was split up after the arrest, and the bride was released on 27 March, but the groom and two guests remain in prison.

Twenty more Christians were arrested on Sunday 25 March, all of whom remain in detention, but no further news has emerged yet about their case.

Eritrea’s human rights record condemned at UNHRC

Afiwerki the cruel Eitrean dictator.

 

On 12 March, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva held an enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, during which speakers from many organisations and countries condemned Eritrea’s human rights record.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore said in her opening statement that over one hundred people were arrested in Eritrea in 2017 for practising religions not officially recognised by the state. (Since 2002, the Eritrean government has banned all religious groups except the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches and Sunni Islam.)

Sheila B. Keetharuth (pictured below), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, said her monitoring of the current situation showed that the patterns of human rights violations continues unabated.

 

United Nations Watch, a monitoring group for the UN, said religious freedom continues to be denied in Eritrea, with thousands of Christians facing detention, and asked why the Special Rapporteur’s report failed to closely assess this situation.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted the arrest of dissenters and their family members by security agents and stressed that the Commission of Inquiry had found that Eritrea had committed crimes against humanity.

The European Union and 13 individual countries took part in the dialogue, during which Ireland reiterated its call on the Eritrean government to enact the political and legal reforms required to end human rights violations, end impunity and ensure accountability for past violations.

Eritrea was not present to make a statement as the concerned country.

(UN Human Rights Council/World Watch Monitor)

Six Christians Hospitalized After Assault on Prayer Gathering in India

International Christian Concern

Six Christians Hospitalized After Assault on Prayer Gathering in India

 

Christian Persecution Continues in India Following Difficult Easter Holiday

04/09/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that an annual prayer gathering in Vakel village, located in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh, was attacked by Hindu radicals last Thursday. The April 5 attack left many injured, including six Christians who required hospitalization at the district hospital in Jagdalpur.

According to Rev. Ratha Netam, one of the speakers at the prayer gathering, the event was organized for Christians from the Vakel area as a day of prayer at the Village Evangelical India Mission (VEIM) Church. At 7:30 p.m., a mob of 70 people forced themselves into the church, shouting pro-Hindu slogans and carrying wooden clubs. These radicals then beat many of the 60 Christians in attendance and severely injured six, including Pastor Kasinath Baghel, Shanti Baghel, Pansila Baghel, Kanti, Pastor Bodra, and Savitri.

“When I saw the Hindu fanatics shouting at believers asking for me to kill, I [was] afraid and went into my home,” Pastor Kasinath Baghel, one of the six injured Christians, told ICC. “Three of them entered in my home, held my hands, brought me out and beat me mercilessly. When they were beating me I was frightened greatly and thought that if I were killed what would [become] of my children and wife.” 

“They misbehaved with me,” 40-year-old Shanti Baghel told ICC. “They did not even consider me as a woman. They continued to harass me and beat me with the wooden clubs. I was helpless. I was hoping that God will protect me from the hands of these attackers while others ran for their lives to nearby forests.”

Pansila Baghel, a teenage girl who was abused by the attackers, said, “When extremists pushed me, I fell to the ground. They beat me and hurled abusive language. One of the attackers told me to give up my ration card, even citizenship, because India is only for Hindus.”

“This attack on poor tribal Christians is unacceptable and a gross violation of [their] fundamental rights,” a local Christian leader told ICC on the condition of anonymity.“The police must act impartially and book the culprits.”

The Christian community reported the attack to local police and filed a complaint. So far, none of the culprits have been arrested.

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India are becoming an almost daily occurrence. Hindu radicals across the country have been given a wide berth by local authorities to pursue their campaigns of hate against Christians and other minorities. This inability or unwillingness to protect and enforce the rights of Christians must come to an end or attacks on Christians will continue to rise in both number and intensity.”

More Pakistani discrimination and MURDER.

Pakistani hospital staff killed Christian who stood up for pregnant sister


5 April 2018

Staff and doctors at a hospital in Lahore beat to death a Christian man who stood up for his pregnant sister after staff discriminated against her.

Kiran Saleem visited the hospital in Lahore on 26 March to see a gynaecologist, but the female doctor on duty asked a nurse to see the pregnant Christian woman. Kiran insisted she wanted to be seen by a doctor. During the ensuing argument, the female doctor reportedly slapped Kiran.

Kiran’s three brothers – Sunil, Johnson and Anil – who visited her at the hospital, reported the incident to a local news channel, but were then threatened by hospital security guards. They began to beat the Christian men, aided by at least three doctors.

 

Sunil was beaten for around 30 minutes and sustained critical injuries. Although he was then admitted to the hospital, no doctor attended to him and he subsequently died.

Police have registered an initial report of the murder, which names several doctors and security staff at the hospital, but at the time of writing no arrests have been made.

http://www.globalchristiannews.org/article/hospital-staff-beat-christian-who-stood-up-for-pregnant-sister-to-death/

Church of Scotland slides further into apostasy

David Robertson of Christian Concern recently responded to The Church of Scotland’s pastoral guidance manual that embraces and approves transgenderism. Challenging Covenant Fellowship Scotland’s approval of the Diverse Gender Identities and Pastoral Care document, he slams CFS and the CofS’ “continued trajectory into apostasy” saying “the implications of the statement from CFS… indicate the weakness, blindness and hopelessness of the situation for evangelicals within the CofS.”

Two Christians in Iran given eight-year prison sentences

Two Christians in Iran appeal over eight-year prison sentences.

Apr. 05, 2018 | Iran
Two Believers Await Ruling on Eight-Year Prison Terms

Iranian Christians Eskandar Rezaei and Soroush Saraei (pictured, Eskandar on left) have each been sentenced to eight years in prison. Arrested in July 2017, they were both charged with “acting against national security”, while Soroush was also charged with “forgery” for issuing letters as pastor of the Church of Shiraz for students seeking exemption from Islamic studies classes.

On 28 December 2017, they were each sentenced to seven years in prison for “acting against national security” plus one year for proselytising and forming house meetings. They are appealing the sentences.

Children abducted in Myanmar

Pray for Christian Orphans Abducted After Sharing the Gospel

Fulani murderers continue to wreak havoc with apparent impunity.

International Christian Concern

Nigeria’s Middle Belt Report: Fulani Militants Again Outpace Boko Haram as Biggest Threat in March 2018

04/04/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The uptrend in attacks in the Middle Belt by Fulani militants continued in March, with the heaviest attacks taking place in Plateau and Taraba states. Throughout this past month, there were 27 attacks by Fulani, only six of which involved any fighting from those who were attacked. These 27 attacks led to the deaths of 225 Christians, the destruction of tens of thousands of dollars in property, and thousands of families displaced from their homes. During this same period, Boko Haram killed 37 people, many including military personnel with whom they were engaged in combat. These statistics show that not only is the Fulani crisis a bigger issue at the moment, but also that in more than 75% of cases, the Fulani attacked unarmed and defenseless civilians.

Plateau State suffered the greatest losses during this period with 107 Christians losing their lives. Despite this, there have been no major attempts by the Nigerian government to hold the Fulani accountable or disarm them. Both of these steps must happen if this violence is to be stopped.

Listed below are the biggest attacks that took place in March.

1.  March 5, 2018: At least 24 were killed in a Fulani attack on the Idoma village of Omusu in Okpokpwu LGA.

2.  March 12, 2018: Fulani militants attacked the Dundu area of Kwal in the evening. Twenty-five were reportedly killed.

3.  March 14, 2018: Fulani militants attacked several villages in Dekina and Omala LGAs. Thirty-two were initially reported dead, with the number later raised to around 50. Hundreds were displaced following the violence.

This serious situation requires a serious response. Thus far in 2018, Fulani militants have killed more people than Boko Haram and affected a much larger area. Despite this, the federal government in Nigeria has paid little attention and allowed these militants to get away with mass murder. Even in areas where they have provided small amounts of security personnel, it has proven to be completely ineffective. We continue to call on the Nigerian government to reclaim the land that has been stolen by Fulani militants, rebuild the communities that have been destroyed, and protect Nigerian citizens from future attack.

Algerian Christian released after 18 months.

LATEST:

(World Watch Monitor) The daughter of Slimane Bouhafs, an Algerian Christian who has spent the last 18 months in prison for insulting Islam and its prophet, has announced her father’s release.

“Finally my father … has been allowed back to us,” his daughter, Tilelli, wrote on her Facebook page on Easter Saturday. “Thank you for your support.”

Algerian newspaper El Watan reported that Tilelli and her mother had been on their way to visit him in prison when he called, saying that he had been released and was about to take a taxi home. Tilelli reportedly told him to wait, after which they picked him up and travelled home together.

“I am filled with joy to be reunited with my family, who have suffered tremendously,” El Watan reported Slimane Bouhafs as saying. “It was too much… I suffered a terrible injustice. I did not hurt anyone, I did not kill anyone. I was deprived of my freedom unfairly.”

He added that he had “seen unbearable things in prison” and thanked people from all over the world for sending him letters of support.

Who is Slimane Bouhafs?

Slimane Bouhafs, a convert from Islam, was arrested on 31 July 2016 for posting a message on social media about the light of Jesus overcoming the “lie” of Islam and its prophet. He also published photos showing the execution of a civilian by an Islamist terrorist.

He was adjudged to have insulted Islam, the state religion in Algeria. The penal code provides for a penalty of three to five years in prison, along with a heavy fine, for such an offence. Bouhafs was initially given the maximum sentence, before it was reduced to three years and then, following a presidential pardon, further reduced.

However, the family’s request for parole in October, owing to Bouhafs’ ill health, was rejected.

A source who preferred to remain anonymous told World Watch Monitor at the time of the initial sentencing that a five-year sentence was “severe in view of a rather minor offence”. Such comments on social media are common in Algeria without usually triggering the wrath of the authorities, the source added. In January 2017 a court in Bouira (100km east of Algiers) sentenced another Algerian Christian to a year in prison for items he posted on his Facebook page, adjudged to be insulting to Islam and its prophet.

During his incarceration, Bouhafs spent time in three different prisons. Initially he was imprisoned in the northern city of Setif, but was then transferred to Constantine and later Jijel, despite the family’s request that he be moved to Béjaïa – in the Kabylie region where he is from and where there is a relatively large Christian community.

While in prison, his health deteriorated due to his inflammatory rheumatism, a disease that worsens under stress and requires a special diet. He also reportedly suffered aggression from his fellow prisoners because of his Christian faith.

Protests

Bouhafs’ family protested against the verdict, supported by Algerian and international human rights groups. His daughter Tilelli stressed that her father had only shared someone else’s posts on Facebook, adding: “I wonder why there is this rage against my father, who did not have a high profile on Facebook.”

Another daughter, Afaf, described her father as a man who had always defended the interests of his country from a young age. She said he is known for his commitment to democracy and religious freedom in all his writings published on his Facebook page.

According to Said Salhi, vice-president of Algerian League for Human Rights (LADDH), the verdict was “part of an escalation” and a result of “abusive” use of article 144 (bis) of the Algerian law.

In October 2016, a crowd gathered in the northern city of Tizi Ouzou to lobby for Bouhafs to be allowed access to medical treatment.

They also called for a change to the law that punishes anyone deemed to have insulted Muhammad or “denigrated the dogma or precepts of Islam”.

In May 2017 the LADDH organised a rally in support of Bouhafs in Béjaïa’s city centre. In a statement the group said the Algerian government had been responsible for “repeated violations of human rights and freedoms” and demanded “the release of all detainees of political or religious opinions”.

Bouhafs’ conviction was seen by some as a means of silencing him because of his political activism. He belongs to a movement for the self-determination of Kabylie (known as MAK), a separatist group not tolerated by the authorities. MAK activists are regularly harassed and arrested.

 Slimane Bouhafs ends hunger strike

Algerian Christian Slimane Bouhafs has ended his hunger strike in prison. His family is relieved, having been very concerned for its effect on his health.

Algerian Christians have requested continued prayer that Slimane will know the Lord’s strength and healing and that he will be granted a transfer to a prison closer to his family home.

Read his Prisoner Profile

 

 

 

Latest: Algerian Christian’s sentence reduced to three years

Slimane Bouhafs’ five-year sentence for “blasphemy” has been reduced to three years.  An appeal against the conviction will now be made to Algeria’s Supreme Court.

Read the background to the case
Slimane (pictured), who was due in court in Algeria today to appeal against a five-year jail sentence for ‘blasphemy’ – his punishment for a Facebook post.
Please pray that the court will acquit our brother in Christ: earlier this month he was given the maximum punishment for defaming Islam and its prophet: a lengthy jail term and a hefty fine. Slimane Bouhafs’ only ‘crime’ was to post on social media a comment about the ‘light of Jesus’ overcoming the ‘lie of Islam’. He also shared a photo of someone being executed by an Islamist terrorist.
It has emerged that Slimane was subjected to long interrogation sessions after his arrest and was denied access to a lawyer. He has been behind bars since his conviction on August 7.

  • Please ask God to keep Slimane in His perfect peace and protect him. Slimane suffers from gout.
  • Pray that God will strengthen his family and his church.
  • Pray that Slimane’s appeal will be successful and that the Algerian judiciary will uphold religious liberties in its nation

YEMEN

Since the posts below were shared some 4 years ago, a major civil was between the Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels backed by Iran has claimed scores of thousands of lives along with epidemics like cholera etc. Just today the UN head Guttierrez said Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe and he is seeking to raise 2 billion dollars in aid. But for lives to be saved the fighting must stop. Pray to the Lord who makes wars to cease.

 

YEMEN

Leader: President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi Population: 27.2 million (a few thousand Christians) Main Religion: Islam Government: Republic World Watch List Rank: 10 Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism There is some religious freedom for foreigners here but evangelism is prohibited and Yemenis who leave Islam may face the death penalty. Muslim-background believers are forced to meet in secret. If their faith is discovered, they face severe persecution from authorities, family, and extremist groups who threaten ‘apostates’ with death if they do not recant. Insecurity caused by Islamist movements makes Yemen very unstable. Christians are believed to be under surveillance by extremists and expat Christians can be a specific target for these extremist groups.    

PLEASE PRAY:

  • The number of local believers is estimated at just a few hundred. Ask the Lord to encourage them and increase their numbers
  • Several expat Christians have been kidnapped in recent years. Pray for protection for foreign Christian workers and NGOs
  • Al-Qaeda-linked groups are gaining more power. Pray that Yemen’s leaders will be able to restore peace to this deeply divided country.

PERSECUTION DYNAMICS

Yemen is very unstable and its situation has deteriorated since the Arab Spring riots of 2011. The country is balancing on the brink of civil war. In the chaos, Al Qaeda militants have seized the opportunity to spread to parts of Yemen where formerly the government maintained some sort of order. These developments have led to an increase in oppression of Christians. Kidnappings of foreigners occur regularly, and Christians are believed to be under surveillance by extremists. Several expat Christians have been kidnapped, though it is hard to discern to what extent religious factors play a role. Migrant Christian fellowships have been raided and forced to stop meeting. Muslim-background believers face strong family and societal pressure. Threats from family, society and extremist groups are very serious and indigenous Christians have been killed for their faith, even by the current government. Due to this risk, many believers have had to go into hiding or even flee the country. Female converts are under threat of forced marriage once their conversion is revealed.  

Powerpoint

Worrying news from Philippines

PHILIPPINES – ISLAMISTS PLOTTING ANOTHER MARAWI

The Islamist group linked to Islamic State, which murdered Christians and destroyed churches when it seized Marawi city on the southern island of Mindanao in May 2017, is “regrouping, retraining and recruiting for another attack”, a Philippines’ army spokesmen told journalists on 5 March 2018.

The city was devastated recently in the war for it’s liberation:

 

Marawi was only retaken after a five-month siege, during which Christians were singled out. Some were murdered, while others were abducted, forced to make bombs and used a human shields, while Christian women were kept as sex slaves. Amnesty International later reported that nearly all the civilians murdered by Islamic militants during the siege of Marawi were Christians.

Islamist rebel groups on Mindanao have been engaged in a long-running struggle against the government. In 2014, the government agreed a peace deal with rebels which created a semi-independent Muslim region on Mindanao, but Christian villages continued to be targeted by militants, even before the capture of Marawi.

Uphold in prayer our Christian brothers and sisters in the southern Philippines. Pray for complete healing for the physical and psychological scars that remain after the Marawi siege and ask that they will know the Lord as their rock and refuge in the face of evil (2 Samuel 22:3

More Hindu violence in India

INDIA: Hindu extremists attack Christians in Tamil Nadu

Hindu extremists carried out a brutal attack on Christians at a Pentecostal church service in Tamil Nadu state, southern India, on Sunday 11 March. They stripped and repeatedly kicked the pastor’s wife in the face, leaving her unconscious, and also attacked the pastor, vandalised the premises and took Bibles and personal items which they burned in the middle of the road.

The attackers, members of Tamil Nadu-based extremist group Hindu Munnani, stormed the Pentecostal church in Sikandar Chavadi, Madurai District, during its Sunday morning service, before later that day attacking four other Pentecostal churches in Madurai. The extremists’ leader, Thangam Venkatesh (district secretary of the Hindu Munnani), was accompanied by an armed policeman as his personal security officer.

The attackers first tried to seize the Bible from the pastor’s wife, Persis Jacob (38), but she clasped it close to her heart. “I will die, but I can’t do without the Bible,” she said.

They wrestled the Bible from her, pushed and slapped her and stripped her of her sari. When she pleaded with them to let go, the security officer told her to prostrate herself at Venkatesh’s feet and beg him to forgive her. One of the attackers told her, “If you and your husband convert back to Hinduism right here, we will spare you alive. If not, you will be brutally killed.”

She tried to prevent them applying vermillion to her forehead, a sign of conversion to Hinduism, but they struck her in the face with the key to the church building, leaving a scar.

Pastor Ravi Jacob (41) told Morning Star News in tears: “She was kicked in the face with shoes. I tried hard but couldn’t protect her. She fell unconscious. She was lying there unconscious without her sari.

Church members managed to lift the unconscious woman into their arms, while an extremist told Pastor Jacob, “This attack should stand as an example to all the pastors in Tamil Nadu. It should teach them a lesson so hard that there will not be any church service, and no worship of Jesus on this Tamil land.”

The extremists dragged the pastor out and punched him repeatedly, injuring him in the face and leaving his mouth bloodied. As he struggled for breath, they grabbed Bibles, his mobile phone, watch and a microphone and set them on fire.

Pastor Jacob said Venkatesh then threatened to kill him: “He asked me how I would prefer to die, and that he had only two options to offer meOne, he said, he would hang me in public. And, the other that he would burn me alive.”

A mob of about fifty extremists chased Pastor Jacob more than a kilometre from Sikandar Chavadi. He told Morning Star News, “They issued threats that they will strip me and chase me naked – I ran as fast as I could. They mocked me, and some were photographing. They said I should be put to shame by videotaping me nude and chasing me on the main road, and by circulating it widely to the public, saying that they can stop ‘conversions,’ and that it will be an end to Christianity.”

The Jacobs’ daughters, aged 14 and 10, who were present in church during the attack, were left traumatised. “They are not going to school,” said Persis. “They have never seen anything like this attack before.”

Speaking of her own recovery, however, she said: “When I was undergoing treatment in the hospital, I heard a voice that assured me, ‘No person shall lay a hand on you.’ It comforted me greatly.”

Attacks on other churches

The Hindu extremists later went to four other Pentecostal churches in Madurai District and threatened to target the Christians’ homes if they did not close the churches within a week. 

Thangam Venkatesh and Pastor Jerome JagatheesanTwo hours after the first incident in Sikandar Chavadi, the extremists arrived at Bethesda Worship Centre in Koodal Pudur, where they stripped and sexually assaulted two women, Mariyammal (40) and Annal (51), and slapped and punched a third, Bava Dhaarani (23). The attackers threatened Pastor Jerome Jagatheesan, calling him obscene names and telling him he would be killed in five days. They said, “If you want to serve Jesus Christ, go to Bethlehem or the Vatican. Worship him there. Why do you want to make India impure?

The image is a still from a video of Thangam Venkatesh (left) shouting abuse at Pastor Jagatheesan.

Describing the attack, Pastor Jagatheesan said, “They verbally assaulted us with obscene words and asked us to stop our activitiesThey stripped two female members of the church, ages 51 and 40, and a young 23-year-old woman was punched in her chest. Her mobile was thrown away.”

Police Response

On the evening of the attacks, after attending to medical emergencies, Pastor Jacob went to Alanganallur police station with Mariyammal from Bethesda Worship Centre. They both tried to file First Information Reports (FIRs) against ten Hindu Munnani members, but the police refused to register the case – they only gave the pastor a Community Service Register receipt and told him to leave. The receipt described the attackers as “unknown culprits” and did not name any Hindu Munnani members.

When Mariyammal tried to lodge her complaint she was told police could “only take one complaint per church” and the church pastor had already made a complaint.

In the days that followed, Christian advocacy groups, NGOs and hundreds of Christian protesters called on the police to register FIRs, and on 14 March they registered three FIRs on complaints by Pastor Jagatheesan and others against “50 known persons”. The FIRs did not disclose any names.

On 20 March, local news outlets reported that Venkatesh and two other extremists had been arrested, but details were not revealed.

A source who requested anonymity said, “The Hindu extremists sent threats directly to the church leaders that if anyone complains to the police, the consequences will be unbearable. He [Venkatesh] is aiming for a ticket from the party in the upcoming elections. He is more likely to be BJP’s [Bharatiya Janata Party’s] candidate.

A Facebook account in Venkatesh’s name had posted updates on attacks on Christians and included anti-Christian hate speech. Other members of Hindu Munnani also posted videos of the Madurai attacks on Facebook.

(Asia News/The Hindu/International Christian Concern/Morning Star News/World Watch Monitor)

Iranian Convert Loses Appeal of 10 Year Prison Sentence

 

LATEST:…

Mohabat News — Iranian Christian prisoner, Mr. Naser Navard-Goltapeh’s family have expressed their growing concern over his health as he is suffering from a severe case of gum infection which requires immediate medical attention.

One of his family members told Article 18 ministries in an interview, “if he does not receive immediate medical attention we are afraid he might lose all of his teeth.”

 

Mohabat News — Last May, the Iranian Revolutionary Court had sentenced Naser Navard-Goltapeh to 10 years in prison for his faith. He has now been transferred to the infamous Evin prison in Tehran to serve his sentence.

Mr. Navard-Goltapeh had appealed his sentence but an appeals court upheld his sentence on November 12, 2017 in branch 36 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The sentence was approved in the appeals court in spite of Navard-Goltapeh’s attorney providing numerous grounds for his innocence.

The spokesman for the Article 18 organization, a Christian rights advocacy group, Kiarash Alipour told Mohabat News regarding Mr. Navard-Goltapeh’s accusations, “The court based its decision to convict Naser Navard-Goltapeh on a report by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, allegedly providing ample evidence that he attempted to undermine national security through establishing an ‘illegal house church network’. However, when asked for the report to be presented to his attorney, the court refused”.

He added, “In the appeals court, the judge surprisingly asked Mr. Navard-Goltapeh to convince the Ministry of Intelligence of his innocence in order to ease his sentence”!

It appears that the plaintiff in Mr. Navar-Goltapeh’s case is the Ministry of Intelligence itself. In earlier cases as well, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence had asked Christian prisoners to “cooperate” with them in order for their sentences to be eased. It is not clear what the ministry means by “cooperation”.

Mr. Naser Navard-Goltapeh had been arrested on June 24, 2016 in a private gathering along with three Christians from Azerbaijan’s “Word of Life” church in Baku.

All four Christians arrested in that incident were held in solitary confinement for two months and subjected to intense interrogation. They were all charged with “illegal gathering, collusion and evangelism” and eventually released temporarily on a heavy bail. The three Christian citizens of Azerbaijan returned to their home country after being released.

In an interview with the Article 18, Mr. Navard-Goltapeh’s attorney, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz said, “My client has not broken any of the criminal code and is not guilty of his charges. All other Christians arrested with him also confirmed all of their meetings were strictly focused on their faith and worship and nothing else.”

Three Azerbiajanis convicted with him were allowed to leave the country.

Earlier this year, four UN human rights experts raised concerns over the Iranian judicial system not providing Christians with a “fair and transparent hearing”.

These experts noted, “Members of the Christian minority in Iran, particularly those who have converted to the faith, are facing severe discrimination and religious persecution.”
Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List has placed Iran among the top 10 countries where Christians are persecuted the most.

The Islamic regime of Iran systematically shuts down anyone trying to spread Christianity in the country. Christians in Iran are regularly faced with arrests that most often leads to long-term prison sentences.

 

Suspicious death of Christian Human Rights lawyer in China.

 

Dr Li Baiguang died having been taken from prison to a military hospital on February 26th 2018. It was reported he died of a liver induced bleed but was well shortly beforehand. He was only 49 years old and had previousLy been threatened and in October 2017 he was abducted and threatened with death.

He had attended a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington earlier in February. He leaves a wife and eight year old son. Release are calling for a full report saying China has lost a bold, compassionate Christian lawyer.

PRAY FOR COMFORT FOR HIS FAMILY.

Horrendous deaths appear to bring forth fruit in Sudan.

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Good Friday in Darfur: four weeks after a savage martyrdom there is spiritual fruit and practical need
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Pastor Stephen lay asleep at home after a day of open air evangelistic ministry in one of the slums of Darfur, a mainly Muslim area of Sudan. He had prayed with 56 new professing believers who made the decision that day, 1st March, to leave Islam and follow Christ.

Soon after 1.00 in the morning six Muslim extremists, their faces masked and carrying machetes, broke into the family home, rousing Stephen, his wife and daughters. They asked Stephen why he had continued to preach about Jesus although they had warned him several times to stop. Stephen’s answer was simply to tell them about the Lord.

The furious intruders kicked him, beat him and tried to force him to have sexual relations with his two daughters, aged 21 and 24, but Stephen refused. Then the Islamists tied up the whole family with ropes and began to chop off their limbs until they died. The daughters, Rachel and Priscilla, were the first to be butchered, and then their mother, Beatrice. Stephen saw it all, and sang throughout “Hallelujah Hosanna”, a song much loved in the churches of Darfur. Finally he was beheaded and his hands and legs cut off. All this was seen by another member of the household who had managed to hide in the roof and thus survived.

The six killers then moved on to the church building, a large but temporary structure in which 130 Christians, mostly women with their children, slept every night. All of them were converts from Islam who had been rejected by their Muslim husbands and had nowhere else to live. Sprinkling petrol first, the Islamists set fire to the building, which was burnt to the ground. Many of the converts inside were injured and dozens were hospitalised, but by the grace of God none died.

At the funeral of Pastor Stephen and his family, a Ugandan pastor preached a powerful message that led to another 214 people giving their lives to the Lord Jesus.

Cold, sick and dying

The converts now sleep in the open air, despite cold and heavy rain. Disease has set in and six children have died.

There is an urgent need for blankets, warm clothes and proper housing.

The Christians have already started to rebuild their church, not least to provide shelter for the homeless converts. This time it will be a permanent structure which cannot be so easily burnt down. The Sudanese Church community is very poor and they have asked for funds to buy roofing materials, including iron sheets, timber and nails.

Mass baptism on Good Friday

While the physical church building is being constructed by God’s people, the Lord Himself is building the Body of Christ. “The killing of Pastor Stephen made the Darfur Church grow very fast,” said a Sudanese church leader, “There are 468 new members in the church; that makes a total of 1,368 members. We are planning for a massive baptism on the day of Good Friday.”

Christ who died to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18)

Tomorrow, Good Friday, Christians in Sudan and around the world will focus their thoughts and prayers on the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, as He died in agony on the cross at Calvary, to save us from our sins.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, 468 new believers, who have come to Christ in the last four weeks as a result of the death of Pastor Stephen, will be baptised in Darfur. By publicly declaring their faith like this, they risk rejection, violence and martyrdom at the hands of their families and the Muslim community.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, more than 120 homeless Darfur Christians will spend yet another cold, wet night under the trees, some of them mourning the recent deaths of their children.

“Stephen, together with his wife and family, went to the Lord in great pain,” wrote a Sudanese church leader. “They were cut in pieces as though they were cows,” said the Ugandan pastor who preached the funeral message.

Stephen’s courageous faith has brought many to a personal relationship with his Saviour. His death has resulted in new life for others. Good Friday gave way to Easter Sunday with the joy, hope and new life of the Resurrection.

Barnabas Fund is helping

Barnabas Fund has sent help for Stephen’s church members from our East Africa Hope project. Their immediate needs are clothes, blankets and a roof for their new church building. There are also medical and other needs.

Donate now to help these and other brave and faithful suffering Christians in East Africa.

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If you would like to make a gift, please direct your donation to East Africa Hope PR1400

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Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all the information included on our website, we acknowledge that even our most reliable sources and careful interpretations can occasionally be wrong. We apologise for any errors of fact and will be grateful to receive corrections.
About us: Barnabas Fund works to support Christian communities around the world where they are facing poverty and persecution.
Barnabas Fund helps Christians like the ones you have been reading about in this email who are persecuted for their faith. If you would like to help us meet their physical and spiritual needs, please make a donation to the Barnabas General Fund.
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Court in Pakistan Acquits 20 Muslims Suspected in Brick-Kiln Killing of Christian Couple

Mostly injustice but some justice!

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Attack victims,Shazad Masih and his wife Shama Shazad Masih were brutally beaten and senselessly murdered and thrown into a brick kiln fire by a huge mob

Yet another travesty of justice and devastating blow for Christians in Pakistan. Morning Star News reports that an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, Pakistan on Saturday (March 24) acquitted 20 Muslims suspected of involvement in the killing and burning in a brick kiln of a Christian couple in 2014, sources said.

A frenzied Muslim mob of hundreds, incited by announcements made over a mosque loudspeaker, tortured and killed Shahzad Masih, 26, and 24-year-old Shama Masih in November 2014 after they were accused of blasphemy in Punjab’s Kot Radha Kishan area. In 2016 five Muslims were sentenced to death for the killing and eight others were sentenced to two years in prison for their involvement, but Christians believe Saturday’s verdict dashes hopes of complete justice for the family of…

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Baghdad Christian doctor, wife and mother murdered

14 March 2018

Three members of a Christian family were stabbed to death in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on the evening of Thursday 8 March 2018, in what community leaders are describing as a targeted attack aimed at frightening Christians into leaving Iraq.

Dr Hisham Shafiq al-Maskuni (61), his wife Shaza and his mother Khairiya were attacked and killed by armed men, who then stole money and valuables from their home.

The leader of a local Christian group told journalists, “This crime has only one message. Frightening our people and forcing them to leave the country.”

Churches in Baghdad have been left empty as a result of anti-Christian violence

One church minister in Baghdad stated the attack was not an isolated incident: “This means that there is no place for Christians. We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time.”

The murders were also condemned by a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, who tweeted that it demonstrated “minorities are persecuted in their homeland.”

More than a decade of anti-Christian violence in Iraq’s capital has led to the closure of eight churches, as congregation members have fled the country. Christians in Baghdad have been deliberately targeted for kidnapping, while some Christian shopkeepers have been forced to pay “protection money” to militias.

On 12 March, the United Nations’ Special Representative for Iraq called on the government to take steps to protect the country’s Christian minority. Highlighting the murders in Baghdad, Ján Kubiš stated, “There is no place for intolerance and discrimination, for targeting and suppressing minorities. I urge the government to support and protect the minorities, including Yezidi, Christians, Shabak, Sabean Mandaeans, and others.”

Global Christian News http://www.globalchristiannews.org/article/baghdad-christian-doctor-wife-and-mother-murdered/

Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy

Shock sentence comes after hardline Islamist groups called for Christian official to be jailed for referencing Qur’an verse

Ahok supporters protest outside the court in Jakarta.
Ahok supporters protest outside the court in Jakarta. Photograph: Mast Irham/EPATuesday 9 May 2017 First published on Tuesday 9 May 2017

An Indonesian court has found Jakarta’s Christian governor guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison, in a trial that was widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, was “found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment”, the head judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, told the court.

“As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself.”

Another judge, Abdul Rosyad, said reasons for the stiff sentence included that “the defendant didn’t feel guilt, the defendant’s act has caused anxiety and hurt Muslims”.

After the verdict, the five-judge panel ordered Ahok’s immediate arrest. Ahok has said he will appeal.

The blasphemy charge related to Ahok’s use of a passage of the Qur’an during campaigning for his re-election in September, which hardline Islamist groups said amounted to insulting the holy book.

He insinuated that his opponents had used a Qur’anic verse to trick people into voting against him. An edited version of his speech went viral online, sparking outrage.

Ahok, a Christian with ethnic Chinese roots, is a double minority. His trial came after large protests against him in the capital that drew hundreds of thousands on to the streets.

On Tuesday, hundreds of members of hardline Islamist groups gathered outside the south Jakarta courtroom amid a heavy security presence, calling for Ahok to be given the maximum penalty.

As news of the sentence emerged members of the crowd shouted “God is greatest”.

The government has been criticised for not doing enough to protect religious minorities, but President Joko Widodo, an ally of Ahok’s, has urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process.

Thousands of police have been deployed in the capital to prevent clashes between Ahok supporters and opponents. “Both groups will have the opportunity to demonstrate, but we are taking steps to prevent clashes,” said the national police spokesman, Setyo Wasisto.

Ahok lost his bid for re-election in an April run-off to a Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan.
He will hand over to Baswedan in October. The vote was the most divisive and religiously charged in recent years.

Prosecutors had called for a suspended one-year jail sentence for Ahok on charges of hate speech. His opponents believe that is too light. The maximum sentence is five years in prison.

Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a sad day for Indonesia”.

“Ahok’s is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia. He is the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?” he said.

Harsono said more than 100 Indonesians have been convicted of blasphemy in the past decade, and acquittals in such cases were extremely rare.

Todung Mulya Lubis, a human rights lawyer who also defended the Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, said it was worrying that one judge cited the leader of a hardline Islamic group known as the Islamic Defender’s Front as an expert in the judgment.

“Rizieq Shihab cannot be considered as an expert because he openly, publicly accused Ahok of blasphemy, so he is not an independent, neutral expert anymore. But the judges mentioned his name in their judgment and I thought this is not correct.”

“The judges also talked about experts from [the Islamic organisation] Majelis Ulama Indonesia. With all respect, I don’t think they can be considered as experts because they had taken sides already, long before the trial.

Lubis said the verdict set a “bad precedent”, adding: “Religion is a private matter … so when you put it in the criminal code it can be used by people to discredit and suppress others. This is the problem with the blasphemy law. This is a very sad moment for us.”

Eritrean Church Leaders still in jail 12 years later

NEW ERITREAN PRISONER PROFILES: We’ve just added five new profiles of Eritrean Christian prisoners to our website.
Rev G. GebregiorsisFutsum GebrenegusMeron Gebreselasie

Oqbamichel Haimanot 

Tekleab Menghisteab

 

Kiflu Gebremeskel, Patriarch Abune Antonios, Haile Naigzhi Photos: World Watch Monitor

Kiflu Gebremeskel, Patriarch Abune Antonios, Haile Naigzhi Photos: World Watch Monitor

(World Watch Monitor) Although the tiny East African nation of Eritrea has a population of just 6 million, Eritrea is one of the leading sources of refugees in Europe. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is a lack of religious freedom.

The Eritrean government outlawed worship outside of Islam and the Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran and Roman Catholic Church in 2002, driving all other Christian churches underground as they faced varying degrees of restrictions and attacks. Since then, thousands of Christians have been arrested and incarcerated without benefitting from a legal process. Among them are a number of prominent church leaders arrested in 2004, who remain incarcerated today, almost 12 years later. World Watch Monitor spoke with the family of one of these prisoners.

Haile Naigzhi, leader of Eritrea’s Full Gospel Church, was arrested during the early hours of 23 May, 2004. He was taken from his home to Police Station #1 in Asmara, then moved to Wongel Mermera – a dungeon-like prison in Asmara, where he still resides, alongside at least five other prominent church leaders (see list below). They have little hope of release anytime soon.

For years following Naigzhi’s arrest, his wife and three children (names withheld to protect their identity) waited for his release. In 2013, his wife received credible information that the government wanted to arrest her and the children, so she decided to flee.

As World Watch Monitor reported last year, the journey out of Eritrea is fraught with danger. Movement in Eritrea is heavily controlled through an internal travel-pass system and checkpoints; anyone trying to cross the border can be shot on sight. If you make it past those first two hurdles, you reach the desert, exposed to the unforgiving elements and lawless human traffickers. Whatever destination you aim for after that could see you either crossing the Mediterranean on a rickety boat or dodging deportation from African countries with diplomatic and ideological ties to the Eritrean government.

World Watch Monitor cannot divulge the details of the Naigzhi family’s journey, nor where they ended up, but today they are settled in a new country, where they have been granted asylum.

“We feel safer here,” said Naigzhi’s wife. “We are able to freely serve God. I am also happy because the children are in a good school.”

But their 19-year-old daughter misses home. “Ever since we left our country, things have dramatically changed in a way we didn’t know they would. I knew the moment we left that we would have an uphill battle until we are able one day to go back home again. And it was all true.”

Naigzhi’s wife added: “I miss my husband dearly. It is very lonely for me.”

Their eldest daughter last saw her father when she was seven, whereas the youngest son (13) does not remember a time when they were all together.

The other boy, 17, last saw his father when he was five and confessed to also feeling homesick.

“I miss home, I miss my friends, and I miss our house,” he said.

“It is difficult, but we hold on to Jesus,” said Naigzhi’s wife.

Her daughter added:

“We learnt that having a ‘bed-of-roses’ kind of life on earth is not actually God’s number one plan for us, but that everything we face in this world shapes our spirits into the beautiful spirit the Lord wishes to see in us. I am happy in every way and most especially to be the daughter of the Most High God. I am also happy to be the daughter of a prisoner for Christ. He is the best dad ever! God will make things perfect one day, and I trust Him with all my heart. He is faithful to keep His word.”

Eritrea is No. 3 on Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. No-one knows for certain how many Christians remain in the elaborate network of incarceration centres in Eritrea. Although there seems to have been a lull in arrests, pressure remains high on Christians and on society in general. Thousands are still intent on fleeing the country, the majority aiming for Europe. Hundreds have died trying.

Incarcerated church leaders

Abune Antonios

Head of the Orthodox Church, removed from his position in 2007 after criticising the Eritrean government for interference in church activities. Two priests accompanied by government security agents entered the Patriarch’s residence and confiscated his personal pontifical insignia. He was replaced by Abune Dioskoros – a development orchestrated by the Eritrean government. Patriarch Antonios, who has never been charged with any offence, remains under house arrest and strict state surveillance.

Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot

Senior pastor of the Kale Hiwot Church. Arrested for participating in a Protestant wedding ceremony in Barentu on 9 January, 2005. Taken to Asmara Police Station No. 5, then subjected to 10 months of solitary confinement and hard labour at Sawa military camp. Released after six years, then re-arrested six months later, after a fleeing church member, who was being monitored, called him. Now back in prison in Barentu, where he has been for 11 years in total.

Kidane Weldou

Senior pastor of the Full Gospel Church and member of the executive committee of Gideons International in Eritrea. When his vehicle was found abandoned in 2005, his wife and four children assumed he had been arrested. Believed to be in Wongel Mermera prison.

More:

http://www.churchinchains.ie/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Lent-Prayer-2018-Kidane-Weldou-1.pdf

Haile Naigzhi

Leader of Eritrea’s Full Gospel Church, arrested at his home during the early hours of 23 May, 2004, and taken to Police Station #1 in Asmara.

Kiflu Gebremeskel

Founder and senior pastor of Southwest Full Gospel Church, and member of the executive committee to the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea. Before he became a full-time pastor, Dr. Gebremeskel was also a mathematics lecturer and until 1999 was department and faculty head at the University of Asmara. Has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Chicago University. Taken from his home in Asmara Gejeret in May 2004. Wife and four children have not been able to visit him.

Million Gebreselasie

Anaesthetist and pastor of Massawa Rhema Church. Arrested on 3 June, 2004, five days after another pastor, Tesfasion Hagos (who has since been released and granted asylum in another country), visited his church and home. Arrested at a police checkpoint just before entering Asmara, as he was returning Pastor Hagos’ belongings to his home. Taken to the 2nd Police Station, where he was held for about two months, before being relocated to Wongel Mermera, where he remains. Unmarried.

Futsum Gebrenegus

Eritrea’s only psychiatrist. Also served as an Orthodox priest. Arrested in Nov. 2004 for allegedly being involved in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Gebremedhin Gebregiorsis

Expert theologian and Orthodox priest also arrested in Nov. 2004 for allegedly being involved in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Tekleab Menghisteab

Doctor and Orthodox priest also arrested in Nov. 2004 for alleged involvement in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Click to enlarge.

Another Eritrean prisoner dies

 

Martial law in this awful country:

ERITREA – Security forces shoot 28 dead

Armed security officers shot dead 28 protestors while violently suppressing a demonstration in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital on 31 October. The demonstrators were objecting to the government’s attempts to enforce its 2014 plans to transform all private and religious schools into state-financed and administered “community” schools. The government says that Christian students will be banned from wearing any religious items like crosses “to prevent interreligious strife.”

The protesters included over 100 students from a Muslim school who were protesting the arrest of their Honorary President for criticising the government’s actions. Armed security officers arrested demonstrators, beat some with sticks, and shot at them with live ammunition. Soldiers were still seen patrolling the streets at around 5 pm. Some released protesters report that they were mistreated.

In September, a Christian school was ordered to immediately close and give a list of all its students to the authorities. When the school resisted, the government shut it down and arrested two Christian leaders.

Barnabas Fund’s own special report on Eritrea, published in March 2017, concluded that the government pursues a “specific policy of religious persecution” against Christians.

From Asmarino Independent here

Eritrean mother of three dies in desert prison

Our sister Fikadu has died in an Eritrean prison camp within three months of her arrest.

Her three children do not have their father to care for them either: he was detained with Fikadu, along with his eldest son and every single member of their church, as our partners working in Eritrea reported in May. The young girls are with their grandmother.

#Furthermore: Nov. 09, 2017 | Eritrea
Pray for the Children of Believers Who Are in Detention Camps

Fikadu was detained during a mass arrest in Adiquala, part of an ongoing crackdown on evangelical Christians across Eritrea. By last week, she had died.

Please ask God to comfort Fikadu’s children and her husband.

The crackdown on Eritrea’s Christians continues. A total of 210 believers have been detained since April, mostly in raids on their own homes. In the first week of August, 23 Christians were arrested in Asmara. In July, 16 teenage girls on national service were detained in the same camp as Fikadu – as were other Christians and relatives who tried to visit them.

There have been reports of female prisoners having their hair shaved off. One woman arrested in June in Nefasit has reportedly become ‘mentally ill’ due to harsh prison conditions. The cause of Fikadu Debesay’s death is unknown but Metkel Abiet, the desert camp where she was held, is known for its extreme temperatures.

  • Ask our heavenly Father to comfort Fikadu’s children and her husband, and reassure them of His unfailing love.
  • Pray for the release of all 210 Christians detained since April – and the many other Christians behind bars in Eritrea. Some pastors have been detained indefinitely.
  • Lift up the Eritrean authorities in prayer, and ask God to touch their hearts. Pray for an end to their restrictive policies. Scores of children are bereft of parents.
  •  There are over 170 Eritrean Christians detained for over 10 years! May they never lose hope.

Kanembu People of Chad

What chance do these people have of hearing the gospel? They follow a mixture of Islam and traditional beliefs. Pray that a new team working with a local church could be assembled to evangelize, reduce their language to script and produce Scripture (? Wycliffe). Pray hearts would be prepared.

Kanembu profile

PS Natron is a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate (Na2CO. 3· 10H2O, a kind of soda ash) and around 17% sodium bicarbonate (also called baking soda, NaHCO3) along with small quantities of sodium chloride and sodium sulfate.

Pray for Christian Brothers Who Were Beaten and Threatened

Mar. 22, 2018 | Bangladesh

Pray for Christians in Zanzibar

Mar. 22, 2018 | Tanzania

More Nigerian girls kidnapped but released shortly after.

Did you know another 100 or so Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped recently but released shortly thereafter no doubt as an exchange for Boko Haram insurgents in prison?

International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
www.persecution.org | E-mail: icc@persecution.org

Media Contact:
Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator
E-mail: press@persecution.org
(301)-859-3842 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

All but One of the Dapchi Schoolgirls Released, the Only Christian

 

Boko Haram Keeps Christian Girl Who Refused to Renounce Faith

03/22/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Boko Haram has released all but one of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were kidnapped on February 19. The only girl who was not released is also the only Christian among the group. Her name is Leah Sharibu and she is only 15 years old.

The girls were released by Boko Haram in a ceremony in the town of Dapchi. The terrorist organization reached an agreement with the Nigerian government that there would be no interference with the return. In the early hours of March 21, Boko Haram drove into the town with nine trucks and unloaded all of the girls, except the five that died during the kidnaping, and Sharibu.

One of girls who was released confirmed to The PUNCH“One girl, Leah, is still with them [Boko Haram] because she is a Christian. About five are dead but it was not as if they killed them – it was because of the stress.”

Saddened by the continued absence of his daughter, Nata Sharibu, Leah’s father, told RayPower 100.5, a Nigerian radio station, “They gave her the option of converting in order to be released, but she said she will never become a Muslim.” He continued, saying that he is “very sad [that she has not been freed] but [is] also jubilating, too, because [his] daughter did not denounce Christ.” 

It has also been nearly four years since the abduction of the 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. Today, there are still more than 100 schoolgirls missing from that incident. The vast majority of the Chibok girls were Christian as well. Since the incident in Dapchi, Borno and Yobe states have closed down all boarding schools in order to protect their children. This, however, is one of the main goals of Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.” Giving in to the group’s goals will only further incite them to continue their attacks and abductions.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, stated, “It is truly joyous that these girls were able to rejoin their families. However, we wish to see Leah returned as well. This cowardly act has shown that the terrorist organization truly despises Christians and their faith. We call on the Nigerian government to act swiftly to secure the release of Leah and the remaining missing girls from Chibok.”


For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator:press@persecution.org

Sudanese church pastor murdered with family for preaching the Gospel

Sudanese church pastor murdered with family for preaching the Gospel


Masked attackers murdered a church pastor in Darfur, western Sudan, along with his wife and two daughters in the early hours of 2 March 2018. Before killing him, they demanded to know why he had not heeded their warnings to stop preaching about Jesus.

The attackers forced their way into Pastor Stephen Toms Abur’s house shortly after 1 am. They assembled the family in the living room and asked Pastor Stephen to explain why he had not responded to their warnings to stop preaching. In response, Pastor Stephen started telling them about Jesus. Barnabas Fund’s contact writes, “They became furious and started to kick him and beat him up seriously.”

The attackers then tried to force the pastor to violate his daughters, Rachel and Priscilla. He refused. “They then began by killing the girls first, then their mother [Beatrice], and finally the pastor himself. They were cut in pieces as though they were cows.”

A young boy who worked for the family witnessed the murders and only escaped death by hiding in the ceiling of the house.

After killing Pastor Stephen and his family, the attackers set fire to the church, where hundreds of Christian converts were sleeping; they have been disowned by their Muslim families and have nowhere else to go. Although some were seriously hurt, none died, which Barnabas Fund’s contact describes as a moment of divine intervention.

Global Christian News https://www.globalchristiannews.org/article/sudan-church-pastor-murdered-with-family-for-preaching-the-gospel/

Christian Widow, Bereaved Father Show Reality behind Herdsmen Attacks in Nigeria

The horror of the effects of these cowardly massacres is felt in this account and once again the dilatory negligent response of Buhari and his military. “They are accounted as sheep to the slaughter.”

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Chanka Amos, 4, was wounded in March 8 attack. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Crestfallen, the 48-year-old Christian sat in his house in Miango, central Nigeria, where three of his children were killed a week before.

“These series of attacks have been carried out against us Christians in this area for some time now by these armed herdsmen, and we don’t know precisely why they are doing this to us,” Joseph Gah Nze told Morning Star News. “In spite of these attacks on us, what I can is that we are dependent on God for grace to overcome these challenges. We have no other option than to pray, seeking the face of God, and for these herdsmen to come to know Jesus Christ, as it is only when they know Jesus that they can stop attacking us Christians.”

A member of Evangelical Church Winning All…

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Turkey-Pastor Andrew Brunson

LATEST: Please pray for our brother Pastor Andrew Brunson (pictured) who remains in prison in Turkey on false charges. On Tuesday, the prosecutor charged him with being a lead actor in the Fetullah Gulen terrorist group. The official indictment demands that he be imprisoned for life and, if it is accepted, his case will go to trial. Ask God to strengthen Andrew and his wife, Norine: pray his case will be thrown out.

(Source: Middle East Concern)

via TURKEY: Daughter of Imprisoned U.S. Pastor Addresses the U.N. Human Rights Council

UN ‘failing’ Eritrea’s detained Christians

This government MUST be held to account.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

“Thousands” of Christians are facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea” – UN Watch (Photo: David Stanley) Eritrea’s human rights record was again in the spotlight at the UN Human Rights Council earlier this week. Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in her opening remarks that over 100 people were arrested in Eritrea in 2017 for practising religions not officially recognised by the state, reports World Watch Monitor.

A monitoring group for the UN, United Nations Watch, said “thousands” of Christians are also facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea”. The group also asked why the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, “failed to closely assess this situation”.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious freedom and human rights advocate, mentioned the arrest of dissidents and their family members and…

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Fulani continue to murder with impunity.

Benue State Prepares for Second Mass Burial of Victims Killed by Fulani Militants

 

Second Mass Burial in State over Past Two Months

03/12/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that an attack by Fulani militants took place on Monday, March 5, in Olosu village of Benue State, Nigeria. This attack took place just a few weeks after Benue, a predominantly Christian state, held a mass burial of 75 Christians who were murdered by Fulani militants.  The state is again preparing to bury another 25 Christians, mainly women and children, who were killed by Fulani militants.   
Confirming the attack, a government official from the area disclosed that Fulani herdsmen had accused youth in the area of killing their cows. While the chairman of the local council called for a meeting of representatives of the parties to discuss and facilitate reconciliation, the militants attacked the villages, “going from house to house and killing mainly women and children.” Twenty-five Christians were killed, while several others were injured and are now receiving treatment in local hospitals.  The militants are believed to have come from Kogi State, which shares a boundary with Benue.

Lamenting the continued killings in Benue by Fulani militants, a prominent Christian leader in the area, Dr. Sam Abah, said, “It’s another massacre! It’s unbelievable! It’s mayhem!  The herdsmen claimed two of their cows were wounded. Do you then kill 24 people because of two wounded cows!?”  Dr. Sam said the herdsmen do not really need a provocation to kill. “Usually, they just bring up anything to find reason to kill innocent people. The law says go to the police and report any such infractions.  They didn’t do that. They burnt houses, they looted the farms, they raped women.  All they want is for the people to move so they can occupy.  They use their militia to clear the areas then bring in more herdsmen to occupy.  The pattern is the same.” The 25 killed in Olosu will be given a mass burial on Thursday, March 15, 2018, according to the government official.

The most recent devastating attacks by the militants in Guma and Logo Local Council Areas of Benue State displaced approximately 170,000 people who are currently dispersed among various internally displaced persons (IDP) camps throughout the state. Even more disturbing is the fact that this latest attack on Olosu village comes when the Nigerian military is conducting an ongoing operation in the state to stop these types of attacks. This casts further doubts on the sincerity and genuine commitment of the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, and his military advisors to protect the lives and property of Nigeria’s citizens.

ICC’s Regional Manager, Nathan Johnson, stated, “The government in Nigeria has long shown its inability or lack of desire to truly stop these attacks. In order to prove their dedication to their people, they must do three things. They must reclaim lands taken by these militants and return them to their rightful owners. Then, they must rebuild the communities that have been destroyed. Finally, they must protect their villages and people by stopping the attacks and prosecuting those who commit them. Only then will this country be freed from this violence.”

More murderous lawlessness in IRAQ

International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
www.persecution.org | E-mail: icc@persecution.org

Christian Family Stabbed at Home by Armed Group in Baghdad

 

Christians Raise Concern that this Foreshadows a New Effort to Force Christians from Their Homes

03/12/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on March 9, 2018, a Christian family of three living in Baghdad was found dead in their home. An investigation showed that they had been stabbed to death the previous day by an armed group and their valuables were stolen. The victims are Dr. Hisham Shafiq al-Maskuni, his wife Shaza Malik, and his elderly mother Khairiya Dawood.

This is not an isolated tragedy. Attacks on Iraq’s Christian community have forced thousands from their homes. In particular, attacks on Christians in Baghdad have led so many to flee over the years that last summer eight churches closed their doors.

A doctor who worked in the same hospital as Dr. Hisham Shafiq told ICC in tears, “I cannot believe that he passed away in such a terrible way… I once heard Hisham say how people in his neighborhood are giving him hard times because they are trying to take his house and buy it. (I think) probably the killer was trying to threaten him and when Hisham recognized who he is, the killer decided to kill him and the rest of the family.” 

This is the second attack against Christians in three weeks; both occurred within the same neighborhood of Baghdad. A spokesperson for Iraq’s Interior Ministry says that the individuals responsible for the deaths of Dr. Hisham Shafiq and his family were arrested on the evening of March 10.

Father Biyos Qasha of Baghdad Maryos Church told Rudaw“This (attack) means that there is no place for Christians. We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time.” He also shared his concern that “these are the signs of a start of a (new) plan to force the Christian population from their homes and out of the country.” 

Other Christians in Baghdad have echoed this concern. “As a Christian, life is good so long as you don’t have enemies,” said one resident. “(Also you shouldn’t) bring attention to yourself… I feel depressed because of what happened for Hisham and his family, even (though) it is something that has happened so often since 2003, but it still makes me sad.” 

A former resident of Baghdad told ICC following last year’s church closures, “Christian immigration passed through three main stages. The first was from 2005-2007, (the) second was in 2010 when some extremists attacked (a) church during Sunday mass and the third stage was in 2014 when ISIS attacked (the) Nineveh Plain.” 

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The murder of Dr. Hisham Shafiq and his family is a tragedy that sends a deadly message to other Christians in Baghdad that they are not safe, even in their own homes. Extremists view Christians as defenseless, and thus easy targets for a wide variety of crimes. As a result, the persecution which Iraqi Christians have faced over the last decade has been monumentally heartbreaking. Our prayers are with the surviving family members during this difficult time.”

Rwanda’s severe crackdown.

Not sure what is going on here but government seem bent on controlling or closing churches.

SAINTE-FAMILLE CHURCH IN KIGALI (PHOTO: FLICKR/ADAM JONES/CC)

(World Watch Monitor) Six pastors have been arrested and accused of “masterminding” a ploy to disobey the Rwandan government’s order to shut down over 700 churches in one province.

The pastors were alleged to have held “illegal meetings with bad intentions”, the BBC reported.

The churches in the central province of Kigali were ordered to halt operations until they meet building regulations, safety and hygiene standards, and pollution laws, according to South Africa-based News24.

Rwanda National Police spokesperson Theos Badage told journalists on Monday, 5 March, that the six “ring leaders” were aiming to mobilise other clergy against the authorities. It is not clear when the arrested clergymen will appear in court.

Other church representatives have criticised the government’s order. Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, president of the Churches Forum in Kigali’s Nyarugenge district, said: “Those that failed to implement a few requirements should be reopened and allowed to work while fixing the problems raised.”

Rwandan president Paul Kagame said last week that he was surprised at how many churches there were in Kigali.

“Seven hundred churches in Kigali? Are these boreholes that give people water? I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? But 700 churches, which you even had to close? This has been a mess!” he was quoted as saying by Kenya-based Nairobi News.

Churches in other provinces are also expected to be affected by the crackdown in the coming months, according to News24.

Rwanda is deeply Christian – 44 per cent Catholic and 38 per cent Protestant – but the government strictly regulates all public events, including church services. In 2014, several Pentecostal church leaders were arrested for forming an unauthorised branch of the Church.

The country is now preparing a new law on faith-based organisations, which will require preachers to undertake theological courses. The law is expected to allow the authorities to control preachers more closely.

Pray for a Mother and Daughter Staying in a VOM Safe House

Mar. 02, 2018 | Nepal
Pray for a Mother and Daughter Staying in a VOM Safe House

Death and destruction as Boko Haram launches fresh attacks in Cameroon

via Death and destruction as Boko Haram launches fresh attacks in Cameroon

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

A Christian family in northern Cameroon look through what is left of their home after it was burned down on 23 February by Boko Haram militants (World Watch Monitor)

(World Watch Monitor) Boko Haram insurgents continue to carry out attacks outside the borders of Nigeria, where the group began.

The Islamists recently attacked two villages in northern Cameroon, close to the north-eastern border with Nigeria, leaving one person dead and many homes destroyed by fire.

The 23 February attack on Virkaza and nearby Tchebechebe was the fourth time Boko Haram has raided villages in Cameroon this year.

During the latest attack, militias set fire to more than 100 huts, a Catholic church and school. The fires claimed the life of one person, who has not yet been named.

A survivor of the attack told World Watch Monitor what happened.

“They attacked Virkaza and Tchebechebe at about 8pm. We…

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Trump Administration betrays Iranian Christian refugees


1 March 2018

The United States’ rejection of the asylum applications of around 100 Iranian Christian refugees is an insult to the country’s Christian and humanitarian heritage.

The Christian refugees, many of whom can recount stories of the discrimination and persecution they have experienced at the hands of Iranian authorities, now have less than a week to leave Austria, where they have been stranded for more than a year. They had expected to be given entry to the US under the Lautenberg humanitarian programme, but now face potential deportation back to Iran.

CC BY-SA 4.0 by Michael Vadon

The decision by the Trump administration to reject the applicants – and to seemingly shut down the entire programme – is a betrayal of Iranian Christian refugees, which has been slammed by US law makers. A group of Democrat and Republican Congressmen have written to Vice President Mike Pence “on behalf of a small group of suffering Middle Eastern religious minorities seeking refuge from Iran’s repressive regime”.

Their letter states:

“This sudden change in policy – from almost a hundred percent acceptance rate [under the Lautenberg programme] to nearly complete rejection – makes no sense, even on security grounds. Some applicants are reported to be elderly and/or disabled, making it hard to imagine they represent a security threat … there is no evidence that others admitted through this program have ever been a threat to the U.S. … The law is clear: these applicants should be presumed eligible for refugee status.”

The decision has also been denounced by representatives of humanitarian organisations, who have accused the US Government of “hypocrisy” for criticising the Iranian regime and encouraging protests in the country, but refusing “to provide safety to those who flee and are not safe from the Iranian government.”

The Lautenberg programme under which the refugees were to have been given asylum in the US was established in 1990 by US Senator Frank Lautenberg. He served five terms in the Senate and campaigned for legislation to create a programme to resettle persecuted religious minorities, initially from the Former Soviet Union. In 2003, Congress voted to expand the Lautenberg Amendment to establish a legal presumption of eligibility for refugee status for Iranian religious minorities. Since then, about 30,000 Iranians have been resettled in the US under the Lautenberg programme. These include members of Jewish, Mandaean, Zoroastrian and Bahai religious minorities, as well as Christians.

All of the 100 Iranian refugees in Austria were financially supported by a sponsor in the US and had been granted prospective refugee transit visas by the Austrian embassy. They had already been interviewed by the Department for Homeland Security and, in one case, family members had been informed their relative would receive a US visa in early 2017. But while President Trump has previously stated that Christian refugees who have faced persecution would get priority, under his administration, the Lautenberg programme has effectively been shut down.

The rejection of these 100, mainly Christian, Iranian refugees is an insult to American’s Christian and humanitarian heritage, which the Lautenberg programme was set up to defend, and a betrayal by the Trump administration.

In the UK, the British government has also been guilty of hypocrisy in its approach to Christian refugees, while claiming to uphold religious liberty. The British government has discriminated against Christian refugees from Syria. Western governments seem to be making political capital by condemning persecution of Christians, while deliberately rejecting those who are persecuted – be it Iranian Christians rejected by the US, Syrian Christians rejected by the UK, Eritrean Christians rejected by the Israeli government, or Christian converts rejected in Sweden and Austria.

Mussie Yemane-Eritrea

 

UPDATE 

In our Prisoner of Faith Alert November 2017 we asked if you would pray specifically for Eritrean Christian Mussie Yemane. Mussie was arrested and detained in 2006 and had remained in detention since that time.

Praise God for a wonderful answer to your prayers. Mussie Yemane has been released and reunited with his children after more than 11 years in prison. Pray that God would make a way for the whole family to be reunited. Mussie’s wife Senait had to flee Eritrea because of her church activities.

Prisoners of Faith Alert
Christian separated from his family for 11 years!

Like many others who have been imprisoned in Eritrea, Mussie Yemane has never been charged with any crime. He is not a criminal – if anything his ‘crime’ is simply loving and seeking to serve Jesus Christ. For this, Mussie was arrested and detained in 2006 and has remained in detention ever since.

Will you pray for Mussie, for his wife, his children, his President, his nation and his fellow prisoners?

Pray that in his prison cell, Mussie may be able to recall clearly the faces of his loved ones and friends. Pray that he will be gracious, forgiving, full of hope and that his life will be a constant testimony to the enduring and unchanging love of God for men and women from every nation.

Click th link below to download/read the Prisoner Profile of Mussie Yemane

PP_Mussie_Yemane_Nov2017

Click on the link below to find out more about others like Mussie who right now are imprisoned in Eritrea, and help bring freedom to Eritrean prisoners of faith by supporting our Pray 173 campaign.

Pakistan-and so it goes on..

Six Pakistani Christians Charged with Blasphemy for Allegedly Insulting Islamic Poetry
Pakistan’s Notorious Blasphemy Laws Continue to Be Abused
02/26/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that six Christians from Elahiabad, a town located near Faisalabad, were charged with committing blasphemy on Friday, February 23. Following the blasphemy accusations, a majority of the Christians from the neighborhood fled, fearing mob violence.

According to First Information Report (FIR) #238/18, Fayaz Masih, Riaz Masih, Imtiaz Masih, Sarfraz Masih, Saqib Masih and Mrs. Riaz were accused of insulting a “Na’at,” a form of Islamic poetry praising the Prophet Muhammad. Munawar Shehzad, the local Muslim who registered the accusation, further accused the six Christians of preventing him from painting a wall with the “Kalma Tayabba,” the Islamic proclamation of Muhammad as the final prophet.
According to Pervaiz Hayat, a local human rights defender, the accusations against the Christians are false and highlight the widespread abuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
It was actually an issue over kite flying which was purposely turned into a religious dispute,” Hayat told ICC. “Earlier, Christian and Muslim children got into a fight over catching a kite in the street which later involved the elders of the two communities.
To teach the Christians a lesson, the Muslims of the area damaged Bible verses which were painted on the outside wall of the Khushkhabri Church,” Hayat continued. “Muslims wanted to paint a name of an Islamic political party over the verses, but the Christians reacted to it and the issue turned into a religious dispute.
Police have booked the six Christians under 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, which punishes acts that hurt or insult religious beliefs. If found guilty, the six Christians could face up to 10 years in prison. Currently, only two out of the six accused are in police custody.
Since the blasphemy accusation was made, members of the Christian community of Elahiabad have fled their homes, fearing potential mob violence. In response, police have been deployed to the neighborhood to keep matters under control.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws continue to be used as a weapon in the hands of extremists seeking to incite religious hatred. As is evident in this case, the laws continue to be abused to settle personal scores, often to the detriment of minority communities. Over the past 30 years, more than 1,500 individuals have been accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. Religious minorities, including Christians, make up the majority of these accusations despite the fact that minorities only make up 3.6% of Pakistan’s total population. Reforms are needed to ensure that this pattern of abuse ends. Until then, false blasphemy accusations will continue to be a deadly weapon for extremists.

A believing grandmother pays the ultimate price.

Apr. 19, 2018 | India
Pray for Family of Grandmother Killed for Praying in her Home