Message by Pastor Emmanuel Singh
Given recently at CERC Reformation Day Conference.
Message by Pastor Emmanuel Singh
Given recently at CERC Reformation Day Conference.
“Their nation views them as traitors. They are Turks who love their country and their families. But that love is constantly questioned by a government which perpetuates the myth that Turks can only be Muslim.”
More from International Christian Concern magazine (recommended)
Over the last millennia, extremist Islamic influence has eroded Turkey’s relationship with its Christian population, leading to increased acts of terrorism, discrimination, and hatred towards Christianity. Once a shining reminder of the early Christian church, modern-day Turkey has become a convoluted mixture of ethnoreligious persecution. The Turkish government perpetuates the antiChristian narrative by stirring up ethnic and religious hatred towards Christianity through hate speech. Persecution of Christians in Turkey will last as long as its own charged rhetoric allows. Turkey’s admission of large numbers of refugees in the past decade further complicates the situation, bringing new Christian communities into the fold of persecution. The Erosion Begins Turkey is a product of different civilizations and centuries of warfare and conquest. Many pivotal moments in church history occurred on Turkish soil, including
the first seven Ecumenical Councils and the Council of Nicea. It is even known as the birthplace of the early church. Notable followers of Christ, such as Paul of Tarsus, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, and Polycarp of Smyrna, hailed from Turkey. The city of Constantinople, now Istanbul, became the capital of the Byzantine Empire and the headquarters of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This all quickly changed with the aggressive expansion of Islam. In the 7th century, Seljuk Turks captured half of Christian land, including the city of Jerusalem. At the turn of the millennia, Christians rose up to defend the Byzantine Christians from Seljuk Turks and recover the Holy Land in a 200-year conflict known as the Crusades. Both sides committed human rights abuses against each other, a reality that challenges interfaith dialogue and attempts at reconciliation tho this day. Turks’ bitter view of the Crusades presents a significant hurdle for evangelization, and for some Turkish Muslims, justifies the persecution of Christians. The Turks possession of Constantinople in 1453 marked the beginning of an attempt to completely eliminate Christianity in Turkey.
In a symbolic act, they forcefully converted a thousand-year old church and architectural wonder, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque. When the Ottoman Empire officially dissolved in 1923, the modern “secular” state of Turkey was born.
By Meg McEwen
An historical overview of Turkey’s relationship with the Church and its ongoing persecution of Christianity
20th Century Genocides In the 20th century, Christianity dipped from roughly 25% of the population to 2%, a direct result of government-supervised ethnoreligious cleansing. Most of the victims belonged to the Eastern Church. The Turkish government participated in an intensive, highly systematic killing spree, attempting to eliminate the Armenian people Leading up to this event, Armenians were treated as second-class citizens, abused by Muslims under the Ottoman Empire’s dhimmi system. Multiple international attempts were made to establish basic human rights for the Armenian people, but the government never enforced its agreements. The Armenian genocide left approximately one million corpses strewn across the parched path to the Syrian desert, a death march that remains largely controversial within the international community. Both the United States and Israel have failed to recognize the Armenian genocide, though many credible documents and eye-witness reports have surfaced regarding the tragedy. The Assyrian and Greek genocides also contributed to the plummeting number of Christians over the course of the early 1900s. Modern-Day Turkey Authorities consistently level hate-speech at Christians, keeping the spirit of enmity alive. Christians are not allowed to train their clergymen, and authorities rarely give them permission to establish a place of worship unless it is in a historical building. Christians are ostracized from society for choosing to opt out of compulsory religious classes. Churches find it nearly impossible to obtain legal standing as
religious congregations. Religious affiliation has been removed from ID cards but is still visible in back end systems, leading to government discrimination. Christians live in uncertainty under the surveillance of President Erdoğan, who recently used an imprisoned American pastor, Andrew Brunson, for leverage in hostage diplomacy with the United States. The president plans to reinforce the Muslim religion by pulling down public schools and replacing them with religious schools. Fifteen years ago, there were only 450 religious schools in Turkey. There are 4,500 today. The president expressed his desire to raise a “pious generation,” which will almost certainly translate into a “violent generation” in the aftermath. Levels of Persecution A large influx of refugees from neighboring, war-torn countries placed new communities of Christians under government pressure, with levels of persecution varying by ethnicity. Christian Turks face a high degree of persecution because the Turkish population is predominantly Muslim. There are 70 million people and 6,000 Turkish Christians, making it difficult for the Christians to practice their faith. In the culture’s understanding, Turkish and Islamic blood run in the same veins. The Turks consider Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be brothers, a remnant of the glorious former Ottoman empire. Christians in these communities are hated, marked as traitors to their heritage. Iranian Christian refugees land on the other side of the persecution spectrum; they are largely left alone, free to worship God. Even though Iranian Christians enjoy relative religious freedom, they fear that they
People who work closely with President Recep Erdoğan describe him as a stern patriarch who alternates between faithful piety and fiery oratory. Before Erdoğan, religion in Turkey remained primarily in the private sphere, and piety was hardly a defining feature of its secular government. But with Erdoğan’s climb up the political ladder, Islamism has come front and center. Erdoğan has transformed Turkey into an Islamic authoritarian state at war with Christianity. Erdoğan’s devotion to Islam is not surprising. He grew up in the Black Sea Region, known for its Islamic conservatism. Ironically, the Black Sea was once the heart of Christianity in ancient Turkey, but today, its Christians number only in the dozens. The fact that Erdoğan’s home community, and possibly even his own ancestors, used to be predominantly Christian makes his brand of Islamic nationalism all the more tragic. Islamist Worldview What does surprise is how quickly Erdoğan’s worldview and message gained traction among his countrymen. He rose from mayor of Istanbul in 1994, to the nation’s Prime Minister in 2003, to President in 2014. Many point to Erdoğan’s four-month imprisonment in 1998 as a defining moment. Charged with “inciting hatred” after reading a religious nationalist poem at a rally, he entered prison openly devoted to Islamism, but left claiming he would wall off his religion from his politics. Shortly after his release, he was quoted by the New York Times as saying, “Before anything else, I’m a Muslim. As a Muslim, I try to comply with the requirements of my religion… But I try now
very much to keep this away from my political life, to keep it private.” Because Erdoğan’s prison experience was one of luxury and comfort, some doubted its transformative effects. In fact, his jail sentence served to boost his profile, and his public charisma grew. In 2001 he helped found the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and two short years later he was elected Prime Minister. Defender of Christianity? A decade and a half later, Erdoğan remains in power (now as President), and Turkey looks radically different. For the first 10 years of his leadership, the country’s slide towards Islamism was hard to perceive. Erdoğan even seemed to defend Christianity at times. In 2007, when young Muslim extremists murdered three Christians operating a Bible publishing house in Malatya, one of the suspects was quoted saying, “Our religion (Islam) is being destroyed. Let this be a lesson to enemies of our religion.” Erdoğan said of the attack: “This is savagery.” Though such incidents make Erdoğan’s Islamism seem less blatant, his authoritarian bent remained clear. The tumultuous aftermath of the failed military coup in July 2016 led to a massive purge of journalists, government officials, teachers, and many others, displaying the draconian character of Erdoğan’s regime. The failed coup also testified to how drastically Turkey had changed, as much of the populace rallied to put down the coup. With the coup’s failure, Erdoğan purged his opponents, both real and perceived, emerging more powerful than ever. He brandished the strident style of his younger days as he took steps to solidify his grip on power. Islamism reemerged as a defining feature of his politics and rhetoric.
Revival of Ottoman Tradition In other words, Erdoğan declared himself openly at war with Atatürk, the founder of Turkey’s secular state. Erdoğan is a passionate historian and a great admirer of Abdülhamid II, known as the “bloody sultan” of the Ottoman Empire. Where Atatürk had cast off the Islamic authority of the Ottoman Empire, Erdoğan seeks to resurrect it, picking up where Abdülhamid II, the empire’s last effective sultan, left off. Said Erdoğan this past February, “Those who think that we have erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong… We are struggling so that a foreign flag will not be waved anywhere where adhan [Islamic call to prayer in mosques] is recited. The things we have done so far [pale in comparison to the] even greater attempts and attacks [we are planning for] the coming days, inshallah [Allah willing].” It is this open declaration of war that deeply troubles Turkey’s Christians. They know that their president’s view of history matters greatly when it comes to their future. They know that the way Turks in general view Christians is a product of how they interpret the close of Ottoman history. Explains one believer, “During the independent war we fought against lots of countries and some bishops blessed the Turks enemies. That’s why people started to hate Christianity and Christians. Also, some of the enemies’ flags had crosses, like Greece. And because of that people started to see Christians as an enemy.” Erdoğan has tapped into the deepest cultural fears of Turks and promised to resurrect 600 years of Ottoman history with himself as chief proponent. Indeed, he has positioned himself well. One year after the coup, he enacted constitutional changes that greatly reduced the role of parliament and consolidated power within his “executive presidency.” These changes came into full effect in June 2018, after Erdoğan “won” a hotly disputed early election. As his rhetoric increasingly demonstrates, Erdoğan views all opposition to his new authoritarianism as a “clash between cross and crescent.” More than any other leader besides Atatürk, Erdoğan has thoroughly transformed Turkey. The question is, what role do Christians have in Turkey’s future? Are they the enemies, as Erdoğan’s rhetoric suggests? Or are they second-class, dhimmi citizens, just as they were under Ottoman rule?
President Erdoğan’s Rise Signals Trouble for Christians
By Claire Evans
“Those who think that we have erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong…” – PRESIDENT RECEP ERDOĞAN
I was born in a country where Christianity is a deeply rooted, but deeply marginalized religion. Turkey, which today encompasses Asia Minor (or Anatolia), contains more biblical sites than any other region in the Middle East except Israel. Many Christian Apostles and Saints, such as Paul of Tarsus, Peter, John, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, and Polycarp of Smyrna, among others, either ministered or lived in Turkey. The Seven Churches of Asia, the major churches of early Christianity, are in Anatolia. The first seven ecumenical councils were also held there. The first was convened in A.D. 325 by the emperor Constantine in Nicaea (Iznik). Today, however, only 0.2 percent of Turkey’s population of nearly 80 million are Christian. Centuries of Islamic Control The Islamization of the region began when Turkic tribes from Central Asia invaded the Armenian highland of the Greek Byzantine Empire in 1071 and started occupying Christian cities. Those Muslim tribes first established the Seljuk Empire in Anatolia and then ruled the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923). For centuries, Christians became dhimmis— third-class, tolerated citizens forced to pay a tax in exchange for “protection” under Islamic Sharia law. Then from 1914 to 1923, the Ottoman government and Turkish nationalist forces committed genocide against Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians. Approximately 3 million Christians perished. Many Greek Christian survivors were forcibly expelled from Turkey in 1923. But successive Turkish governments have aggressively denied that the genocide ever occurred and have continued persecuting Christians. From 1941-1942, the Turkish military attempted to force Christians and Jews—
including the elderly and mentally ill— to work under horrendous conditions in labor battalions. In 1942, a Wealth Tax was imposed to eliminate Christians and Jews from the economy. A savage anti-Greek pogrom in 1955 also targeted Armenians and Jews in Istanbul. In 1964, thousands of Greeks were forcefully expelled from Turkey. These policies all contributed to the annihilation of Christians in the country. Present-Day Discrimination Christians remain exposed to severe oppression in Turkey. Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians, for example, cannot freely obtain education in the Theological School of Halki, the main theological school of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The school was shut down by the Turkish government in 1971 and has not been reopened. Since that time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual center of Orthodox Christianity, has been unable to train clergy and potential successors for the patriarch. The remaining Christian Assyrians are also struggling with many challenges. For example, they lack the official right to public education in their own institutions. In Istanbul, they are attempting to open a private elementary school although the government refuses to grant financial support. Meanwhile, both the government and some Muslim Kurdish locals in southeast Turkey continue to illegally seize their properties. Protestants are among the most oppressed Christians in Turkey. The government does not recognize the Protestant community as a “legal entity.” Hence, Protestants hold no right to freely establish and maintain churches. The Protestant community also faces discrimination in the training of religious leaders. Since current law prohibits the opening of religious training schools, the Protestant community relies on support from foreign church leaders. Sadly, several foreign religious workers and church members have been deported, denied entry into Turkey, refused residence permits, or denied entry visas. Violence Not Limited to the Past Several incidents in recent memory reinforce the very real threat of physical violence against Christians. In 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian Catholic priest, was murdered in his church in the city of Trabzon by a Muslim shouting “Allahu akbar” (Allah is the greatest). A year later, three Christian employees of the Zirve Bible Publishing House in Malatya were tortured and murdered by five Muslim assailants. Two of the victims were converts. In Anatolia, where Christianity was once the majority religion and thrived for centuries, Turkey’s state forces target and demonize Christian missionaries. And it appears that police, military and intelligence organizations are involved in the murders of Christians in the country. Turkey’s National Security Council has even argued that missionary activities should be regarded as a “national threat.”
“Christians remain exposed to severe oppression in Turkey. “
The Systematic Eradication of Christian Civilization in Turkey By Uzay Bulut
Who Can Count the Cultural Loss? The destruction of churches and their use for sacrilegious purposes such as stables are among the physical outcomes of Christian annihilation and Islamic intolerance in Turkey. But even more alarming is the destruction of the immense knowledge and great cultural legacies of millions of Christians—including that of Christian saints, philosophers and other scholars. Throughout its long history in Turkey, Christian teachings served as an inspiration for philosophy, literature, ethics, philanthropy, architecture, music and theatre, among other fields. Anatolian Christians—both in ancient times as well as under the rule of Byzantines and even as dhimmis under the Ottoman occupation—made countless contributions to human progress in the fields of science, technology, medicine, art, law and politics. Today, however, the Turkish state does not even recognize the “Ecumenical” status of the Patriarch and Patriarchate, the spiritual center of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Meanwhile, the destruction of Christianity is accompanied by the rise of political Islam in Turkey. For example, 54 percent of the participants in a 2017 survey conducted by the progovernment MAK counseling company said “yes” to Turkey having “a religious leadership similar to the caliphate.” Sadly, Turkish governments have carried out their oppressive and destructive actions against Christians either with the active participation or the silent approval of the clear majority of the Muslim Turkish people. Never once in their history have Turkish people attempted to protest the government as Christian and other non-Muslim citizens of the country were and still are exposed to horrific injustices such as murders, pogroms, rapes, and various social pressures. Annihilating Christian peoples and cultures in Turkey has harmed not only Christians but humanity at large. Sadly, the West still looks away as Turkey’s rich Christian heritage is on the verge of disappearing forever.
One cool evening in Ankara, I joined four Turks for tea. All were university-aged converts, two of whom still keep their conversion secret. They gather almost every night and challenge one another to grow in their faith despite the many hardships they face. This night, in hushed but urgent tones, they were eager to unburden themselves about the crisis of identity they face as Turkish Christians. “Ankara is a dark place, a conservative place,” explained one woman. “It is spiritually depressing.” Tears welled in the eyes of another. She was unable to speak for several minutes. She looked toward her brother who nodded in assent about the spiritual darkness surrounding them. Ankara is the capitol of Turkey and its second largest city, a hub of rich history and culture. The palatial Presidential Complex and other government ministries are scattered among its neighborhoods. The mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern day Turkey, is toured by millions
every year. When I visited, I was struck by the reverence on the faces of so many who had journeyed there. I wondered aloud why the man who invented the concept of Turkishness would be so admired almost 100 years later. What is “Turkishness?” “Most people show respect to Atatürk. I also like him and show respect to his ideas,” explained one of the Christians gathered at the café. He described his parents as terrorists, and said he was afraid to tell them of his conversion because they are Islamic nationalists. He added, “The most important one of Atatürk’s six principles is secularism, I think. Through the secularist system that he brought, we can have a choice to change to another religion from Islam. So I think Atatürk’s influence is really important and great for us who were Muslims before.” His friend has also kept his conversion a secret, but for a different reason—his family is committed to secular nationalism. He told me, “I became a Christian and immediately felt like I betrayed my country. I still feel that way.” “Turkish people believe that if you aren’t Muslim, you’re an enemy. When you ask people’s religion here, some people will say ‘I am Turk.’ Because people believe that if you’re Turk, you have to be Muslim,” he continued. Similar comments about Turkishness have marked every conversation I’ve had with believers in Turkey. Strong ideas about what it means to be a Turk have spread from their origin in Ankara all across the county’s 81 provinces. A fierce defensiveness about the Turkish national identity has been carefully cultivated. It has provided the fodder for Turkey’s transformation from a quasi-democratic state to a thoroughly authoritarian one. Turks to the World: “We Will Not Bow” In his 2014 post-election speech, President Erdoğan proclaimed, “The people gave a clear message to Turkey and to the world: What did they say? They said, ‘We are here.’ They said, ‘The Turkish people are impassable … We are the owners of this country. The people will not bow and Turkey is invincible.’” President Erdoğan won his 2018 election by further emphasizing that authentic Turkishness means a coming war between cross and crescent. The pressure of being true to the national identity is felt by Christian all across the country. Churches are so rare in Turkey that they are considered a foreign novelty, and are often visited by touring Muslims. One pastor
TURKEY’S YOUNG CHRISTIANS FEEL THE WEIGHT OF THE SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN THEIR LAND
Turkish believers wrestle with the entrenched cultural belief that real Turks are and must be Muslim.
By Claire Evans
in Eastern Turkey shared that, “…they come to church and when I start talking, they are like, ‘Wow, you speak such good Turkish!’ And I say, ‘Well of course, I am a Turk!’” Free to Gather, For Now Back in Ankara, the four young Turks sitting in the café continued to contemplate how the idea of Turkishness had impacted their lives. It was clear that talking about their challenges with each other had greatly eased the burden. As we left the café, one pointed to a public square renamed after those who defended Erdoğan during the 2016 coup. Since the coup, state surveillance of Christians has increased and the idea of Turkishness has been further ingrained in Turkey’s citizens. These four believers are able to safely gather, for now. But so many others are not. Their families view them as apostates to their religion. Their nation views them as traitors. They are Turks who love their country and their families. But that love is constantly questioned by a government which perpetuates the myth thwill eventually face government pressure. The Turkish government is already actively relocating them to nationalistic cities with large Islamic communities, like the other refugee communities. Armenian, Assyrian, and Kurdish Christians endure a more intense form of persecution because they are nationally hated in Turkey for their religion and ethnicity. The Turks already persecute Armenian and Assyrians on an ethnic front, so the few Christians who survive within these communities truly endure the brunt of this persecution. In Southeast Turkey, a war is being waged between Turks and Kurds. Turks believe that Kurds are terrorists and thus seek to isolate the community to “protect” national security. Because they successfully established similar regions in in Iraq and Syria, they are labeled as unstable terrorists by the Turkish government (and the international community). The Turks frequently isolate and despise Kurdish communities in an attempt to repress a mounting rebellion. Christian missionaries have been imprisoned or deported while trying to minister and evangelize the Kurds. For this reason, the Kurds are an increasingly unreached ethnic group. ICC’s Involvement in Turkey Due to the extremely sensitive position of Christians in Turkey, we must be vague in describing our work there. But the brittle spiritual ground in Turkey has not stopped the Lord from paving a way for ICC to minister to persecuted Christians. ICC is building a nursery for MBBs (Muslim background believers) who leave their young toddlers at home alone while they work the only jobs open to them – those that require long hours and heavy labor. With the help of ICC, an illegal church is moving to a new location to safely accommodate its growing numbers. ICC also provides legal assistance to pastors who have been singled out by authorities because of their ministry work and advocates with the United States government to effect policies that may ease the pressure on Christians in Turkey.
See other posts on Turkey: Category Turkey
Rustram was converted to Christ and now works as Tajik Bible Teacher for SAT-7 a middle eastern Christian TV channel. They need more Tajik and Afghan presenters (languages related). Pray for believers who face much opposition in these countries.
|Sep. 28, 2017 | Pakistan
This man has been in prison longer than Aasia Bibi!
Three Muslim men badly beat a Christian convert in the village of Tamchi in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, on 17 October, leaving him fighting for his life.
The attackers cornered Eldos, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, alone in a courtyard and attempted to force him to say the shahada (the Islamic creed). Recitation of the shahada is considered conversion to Islam. He was viciously beaten and left bleeding with severe concussion, a jaw fracture, missing teeth, a bleeding eye, and suspected brain haemorrhage.
Allegedly, the police attempted to disguise the religious motivation for the attack by claiming Eldos was beaten for playing loud music. They forced him to sign a statement to this effect, which they said he had given them verbally. However, Eldos’ lawyer confirmed he had been unable to speak at the time because of the injury to his jaw.
Eldos has since had a complicated operation on his jaw and now needs treatment for his eye and dentures to replace his lost teeth.
Eldos was beaten unconscious – but will not be silenced
Eldos from Kyrgyzstan was beaten to within an inch of his life – for the ‘crime’ of turning to Christ.
The Christian was hospitalised with serious head injuries, including a broken jaw, and his attackers threatened to kill him if he went to the police.
But he ignored their threats and has spoken out, to try to protect other Christians.
Please ask God to protect Eldos and heal him fully.
His assailants ordered him to deny Christ and read a prayer converting back to Islam but he refused. Our partner reports that the police have not yet taken any action in Eldos’ defence.
(Source: Release partner)
Click here to watch our recent film on persecution in Central Asia.
Many Christians in Kyrgyzstan live with constant persecution since the introduction of a very restrictive Religion Law in 2009. In October 2017, a pastor’s grandson was severely beaten at school for being a Christian and in May 2018 a Christian woman in Kyrgyzstan, recently converted from Islam, was held captive in her home and beaten by her Muslim family for refusing to renounce her faith in Christ.
Western oil interests and a quest for Middle Eastern “stability” mean Saudi Arabia is welcomed as an ally of the so-called Christian West – a profound contradiction that ignores the country’s treatment of Christians and involvement in jihadist violence around the globe. The largely unquestioning support of Western governments for Saudi Arabia is an insult to Christ’s followers there who live in the shadow of death.
It is a capital offence for a Muslim to convert to Christianity in Saudi Arabia. Although none have been officially executed, as far as is known, some converts have been murdered by family members. The number of Saudi nationals who are Christians is unknown and even for foreigners it is not advisable or safe to be openly Christian in Saudi Arabia because it is illegal to manifest any religion publicly except Islam. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians among the estimated two million non-Muslim foreign workers in the kingdom. They are only able to worship in secret and even private gatherings are sometimes raided by religious police. Active believers, including Western expatriates, face potential deportation; non-Westerners can face imprisonment and torture.
In Saudi Arabia, no non-Muslim public buildings are permitted. In 2012, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, when asked about church buildlings in Kuwait, stated it was “necessary to destroy all churches in the region”, based on a hadith. The hadith (traditional record of Muhammad’s life and teachings) narrates that on his death bed Muhammad declared, “There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula.”
Following his death in 632, Muhammad’s successors followed his instruction to permit only Islam in the region. There is no mention of Christianity in Saudi Arabia in the historical records after 650.
In May 2018, a story claiming that the Saudi government had struck a deal with the Vatican to allow the construction of church buildings was widely reported in Western press, but later dismissed as fake news after the Vatican denied it and the Egyptian newspaper that broke the story retracted it.
Western support for Saudi Arabia
The modern nation of Saudi Arabia was formed by Ibn Saud in the 1920s, gaining recognition from the UK in 1927, although British politicians were well aware of the true nature of the regime. Earlier in the 1920s, Winston Churchill, then Colonial Secretary, had described daily life under the Saudis’ Wahhabi interpretation of Islam: “They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions … Women have been put to death in Wahhabi villages for simply appearing in the streets … Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette.”
Today, Saudi Arabia is one of nine countries which formally include hudud punishments (meaning the penalty is specified in the Quran) within their legal system, but it is the country most frequently known for handing down sentences such as floggings and amputations. But for successive Western governments, the desire for a “friend” in the oil-rich region appears to have outweighed any scruples individual leaders might have about supporting Saudi Arabia. The ruling royal family has maintained a close relationship with Western governments, including agreeing lucrative arms deals and leasing military bases.
It is a tragedy that Western nations whose governments claim to be defenders of democracy and religious freedom ignore Saudi Arabia’s brutal repression of all religions other than Islam.
The Wahhabi movement founded in the 1700s by Abd al-Wahhab sought to purify Sunni Islam, returning to fundamentalist ideas emphasising the original interpretation of jihad (struggle) as a physical war against religious enemies. Wahhabism spawned ideology which has been adopted by Al Qaeda, which in turn shaped the birth of the Islamic State (IS) militant group. (It was IS that was responsible for ethnic cleansing and genocide of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, and also enslaved women and girl children, many of whom were sold on to the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.) The ideology is spreading in Africa and its impact can be seen in several strongly Christian countries, including Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya.
Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabi jihadi ideology has profoundly changed the modern world and especially the Middle East. The country’s oil wealth has been used to fund mosques, charities and Islamic institutions worldwide, as well as radical Islamist groups. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks in the US were Saudi.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has provided funding for Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq and is widely thought to have directly aided Islamic State. In Yemen, it has helped Sunni government troops fighting Iranian-backed Shia Houthi forces in a civil war that has become the latest expression of Sunni Saudi Arabia’s proxy fight for dominance in the Middle East
Pursuing truth for persecuted Christians in the Middle East
In an era of fake news, when truth is often the first casualty of over-simplified Western media reporting, Christians should not unquestioningly accept the narrative of Western governments and media that excuses the near eradication of Christianity in Saudi Arabia. Neither should we ignore Saudi support for the spread of violent jihadism, which has brought terror to the West and aided Islamist groups who continue to target our brothers and sisters across the world.
She should be recompensed and sent with family on first plane to the west.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges after accepting her 2015 appeal against her sentence.
“The judgement of the high court and that of the trial court is reversed,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said, reading out the verdict. He added that Asia Bibi should be set free if she is not wanted in any other case.
“Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” the judgement read. (Dawn)
All glory to GOD in the Highest!
We congratulate to Pakistan for their courage!
Aug. 03, 2017 | Eritrea
Pray for the Family of Imprisoned Pastor Haile Nayzgi
There are hundreds more like him. What are the Eritrean regime accomplishing by locking them up? Nothing? Creating misery? Actually furthering the gospel as with Paul in Rome and acting as refiners of their faith!
|Pastor Haile Nayzgi has spent the last 13 years in prison, one of the about 3,000 believers being held without charges or a trial in Eritrea. After he was arrested, his wife and three children fled the country, knowing they could easily be next on the list for arrest. Their journey included a 10-hour walk through the desert and refugee camps, enduring hunger and thirst along the way. Today, thankfully, they are resettled in another nation sharing fellowship with a body of believers. Haile’s 20-year-old daughter and his 19-year-old recently shared their experience of God’s provision and gracious protection with a VOM worker. Although they have not seen their father since his arrest, the two young adults discussed their father’s faith and courage under difficult circumstances. They hope to follow in his footsteps. Pray for Pastor Haile’ s release. Pray also that God will continue to care for and sustain his family while they are without him.
A major civil war raging since 2015 between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels backed by Iran has claimed scores of thousands of lives along with epidemics like cholera etc. This week (Oct. 24th 2018) the UN has said Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe with 14 million on the brink of famine and seeking to raise 2 billion dollars in aid. Most are only being kept alive by humanitarian aid. But for lives to be saved the fighting must stop.
Pray to the Lord who makes wars to cease.
Pray for protection of aid workers and for resources to reach the needy.
For the gospel of hope to reach and save more and the emerging church grow and persevere.
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.
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.
Fearing for their lives after blasphemy allegations in Karachi these two young men fled for asylum to Thailand BUT were incarcerated in a lounge-size room filled with 100 men and only two toilets and very little water. Many became ill including these men with hives and scabies. ,others got TB.
Bring to the Lord two Pakistani brothers incarcerated for nine months in a Bangkok detention centre, that He will give them grace and peace as they recover from their ordeal (Colossians 1:2). Ask that God will bless them as they continue to seek His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and that their testimony will lead others to Christ.
All Evangelical churches in the Lugansk People’s Republic face forced closure, as authorities in the self-proclaimed autonomous region in eastern Ukraine, overrun by forces loyal to Russia, are understood to have banned their activity. Congregations are emptying church buildings of books and furniture. Church leaders contacted Barnabas to ask for prayers “that God gives wisdom and strength in this situation”.
In February 2018, authorities in the LPR announced that all religious associations would need to register by August and in July banned the activity of one group of evangelical churches, which were described as an “extremist religious organisation”. In August, a pastor and other leaders were arrested and detained in a raid on a church service in Alchevsk.
The LPR was formed in 2014 as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Evangelical churches have been repeatedly targeted by separatist elements.
Lift up the Evangelical Christian community in eastern Ukraine. Pray that in the midst of threats and uncertainty they will rejoice that they have been counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s Name (Acts 5:41). Pray for wisdom and strength as they are forced to become an “underground” church and that they will know the presence, comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
From Barnabas Fund contacts
The government of authoritarian president Paul Kagame has shut down thousands of churches across Rwanda, citing building code violations in a move that has reportedly left some Christians meeting to worship in caves.
The closures began in the Christian-majority East African country in February following the introduction of much stricter building regulations. It is thought as many as 7,000 church buildings may have been forced to close. Churches are now meeting secretly, as group prayer is prohibited anywhere other than in government approved buildings.
One analyst told journalists, “The church closures are much more politically influenced than the government says. It signals to the churches that they are under observation, just like other social organizations in Rwanda.”
Kagame secured election for a third term as Rwanda’s president with 99% of the vote in 2017 after amending the constitution to abolish a previous two term limit. Under Kagame Rwanda has seen a time of economic growth and restoration of social order following the 1994 genocide. He has worked to forge ties with America and Rwanda is a significant recipient of US aid, but Kagame’s administration has received criticism for the pressuring and arrest of dissenters and political opponents. This has not deterred support from Christians: following his election victory in 2010, US megachurch pastor Rick Warren prayed for Kagame at his swearing in ceremony, celebrating with him “on behalf of the United States of America”.
Praise God that even in our present evil time He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:2). Give thanks that He has restored relative prosperity and order in Rwanda since a time of great darkness and genocide in 1994. Pray that the Lord who judges and exalts (Psalm 75:7) will grant Paul Kagame wisdom as a leader, that he will relax restrictions on Christian worship and that stability will continue.
From Barnabas Fund contacts
Three Muslim men badly beat a Christian convert in the village of Tamchi in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, on 17 October, leaving him fighting for his life.
The attackers cornered Eldos, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, alone in a courtyard and attempted to force him to say the shahada (the Islamic creed). Recitation of the shahada is considered conversion to Islam. He was viciously beaten and left bleeding with severe concussion, a jaw fracture, knocked-out teeth, an eye injury and suspected brain haemorrhage.
Allegedly, the police attempted to disguise the religious motivation for the attack by claiming Eldos was beaten for playing loud music. They forced him to sign a verbal statement they took from him to this effect, before he was taken to hospital. However, his lawyer confirmed that Eldos had been unable to speak at the time because of the injury to his jaw.
At the time of writing, Eldos remains in a life-threatening condition in hospital, where he has undergone surgery to reconstruct his jaw.
Since the introduction of a very restrictive Religion Law in 2009, many Christians in Kyrgyzstan live with constant persecution. In 2017 an increase was seen in the harassment and persecution of Christian schoolchildren; in October a pastor’s grandson was severely beaten at school for being a Christian. In May 2018 a Christian woman in Kyrgyzstan, recently converted from Islam, was held captive in her home and beaten by her Muslim family for refusing to renounce her faith in Christ.
Pray that our brother Eldos in Kyrgyzstan, severely beaten and fighting for his life in hospital, will know the tender lovingkindness of the Lord who makes alive and heals wounds (Deuteronomy 32:39). Ask that he will hold fast in his faith, secure in the knowledge that God will keep and protect us forever from the wicked (Psalm 12:7).
From Barnabas Contacts
More planned killings and destruction by Muslim mob.
Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering)
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslims attacked a market in Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria, on Thursday (Oct. 18), killing dozens of Christians and burning a church building, sources said.
Area residents said a Muslim at the market in Kasuwan Magani, 36 kilometers (22 miles) south of the city of Kaduna, began yelling “Thief!” in the late afternoon in a move calculated to cause pandemonium ahead of an attack on Christians and their homes and businesses.
“A Muslim raised a false alarm about a thief in the market, which caused stampede, and then other Muslims started chanting ‘Allahu Akbar [the jihadist slogan, God is Greater],’ attacking Christians, burning houses and shops belonging to Christians in the town,” area resident Kefas Mallam told Morning Star News.
The Rev. James Moore of the town’s Evangelical Church Winning…
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There are no words to describe these killers.
(Voice of the Persecuted) What does it mean to tell a 15 year old Nigerian girl that she is a slave for life. Particularly when she sees or hears that another young woman has been executed.
We were deeply saddened to hear the Boko Haram had executed Hauwa Limon. She was a 24 year old midwife who worked for the International Red Cross. Hauwa wanted to help displaced mothers deliver their babies. She was a Muslim yet executed by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram. Their defense for executing her, she became an apostate when she went to work for the Red Cross. The first local chapter of the Red Cross was established in 1881 at the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dansville in New York.
How can our hearts not be saddened over this senseless killing. One can only hope that in her final moments she cried out to the…
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Excellent Irish Prayer Guide
(Voice of the Persecuted) Urgent prayers needed for Nigerian Christian teenager threatened to be executed today by Boko Haram. 15 year old Leah Sharibu was among over 100 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from a school in Dapchi, Northern Nigeria on Feb. 19, 2018. It was a kidnapping that mirrored what happened in Chibok four years earlier when 276 girls were abducted from the school in Chibok, Borno State. A month after the Dapchi abduction on March 22 the militants released 104 of the schoolgirls, with the exception of Leah. The teenager was the only Christian in the group. Boko Haram members told Leah to renounce her Christian faith and become a Muslim or they would not let her go. The Muslim schoolgirls begged her to do it and go home with them, but she refused to deny her faith in Jesus and is still…
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Commenting on the incident, a lawyer who represents Christians prosecuted in Sudanese courts, expressed, “Until now, the Christians have not been asked what was happening or given a chance to explain what they were doing. This is a total breach of the law of the land that gives freedom of worship and sharing of one’s faith. It is also unlawful to detain anyone without trial.”
Adding to the matter, Rev. Kuwa said, “Some of the arrested men are disciples that I baptized in 2015 when they left Islam and converted to Christianity. The detainees have been doing a recommendable work of sharing the Good News in Darfur, and we pray for their immediate and unconditional release.”
Christians in Sudan who convert from Islam often face discrimination and hostility as a result of their faith. They are considered apostates who deserve the death penalty, according to radical Muslims throughout Sudan.
While speaking with ICC, Pastor Abdulrahem Yoshua of the Sudan Christian Assembly (SCA) sympathized with the arrested brothers and petitioned “all Christians in Sudan and all over the world to stand with the 12 during this trying moment. I sympathize with them because I have gone through the same ordeal a few years ago.”
This past Saturday I was arrested by the police during a routine ID check at the Ankara train station. I had arrived to speak at a youth event, and then to preach at the international church the following day. Others filled in and so that wasn’t a problem, though it did cause a lot of believers in Ankara to pray for me. 🙂
Praise God, I’ve been set free, and have a 15-day visa. Need to talk with the lawyers to decide next moves. Thanks to all who have prayed, I’m doing great, glad to be back with my wife and other loved ones.
Some of the members of the youth group spent several hours Saturday evening going from police station to police station, trying to find where they had taken me. I had been taken to the main police station’s terrorism department’s jail, which obviously was not open to visitors.
For many hours Saturday I was interrogated by multiple policeman, who painstakingly typed up my answers in their computer. One of the interrogators was obviously from the secret police, as he knew the names of all sorts of Christian workers and activities around the country, and asked about my connections with them.
They asked so many questions about so many things that several times I thought to myself that I wouldn’t need to write up my own memoirs later on, if only they would share with me all the copious notes they had written about me. 🙂
Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I was released and given a 15 day exit paper, during which time I must leave the country. They told me I’ll have to pay a fine for overstaying my visa, but it wouldn’t cost much, and if I do they wouldn’t put an entry ban on my file, thus enabling me to return on a tourist visa.
My friends and coworkers were working feverishly to help me while I was in there. Andrew Brunson’s lawyer, Cem Halavurt agreed to help me, since my own lawyer felt that since they were apparently accusing me of a crime (doing things “linked to terrorist groups,” though they ended up not pressing any charges) that it was no longer an area she was able to help with. He sent another lawyer who managed to visit me in the prison Sunday morning for about 30 minutes. Cem himself had bought an air ticket to fly to Ankara today (Monday) to help, but thankfully didn’t have to because I was released yesterday.
It’s hard to know exactly why they decided not to deport me (as they were planning to do on Saturday). It could be that they don’t want to disturb relations with America right when things seem to be getting better now that Andrew Brunson has been released. Or it could have been the Supreme Court decision from February 2017, which explicitly prevents the government from deporting me until they have time to look at my case and make a decision. Maybe it was a bit of both.
Whatever the case, I was happy to take the many opportunities that arose to explain the good news of Jesus to various different policemen. Even now, just a few minutes ago, when Ulrike and I arrived at the train station for our return journey, two of the policemen with whom I had spent so much time on Saturday came up to me to greet me and wish me well on my return journey.
I’ve met with some church leaders, some of which seem to think that our time of ministry here in Turkey is coming to an end. Others are expecting I’ll be able to stay, somehow, someway. I got a call from a staff member of the US Embassy this afternoon, who also encouraged me to make sure I leave the country in 15 days. They are aware of my situation, and have also informed people at the Istanbul Consulate, in case I need any help from them.
Tomorrow will be an important day, as we meet with lawyers, ministry colleagues, fellow BCC leadership team members, members of the BCC board, colleagues and leaders from our mission sending agency, to decide what steps to take next.
It might be as simple as making an exit trip out of Turkey, returning shortly thereafter with a tourist visa, then applying and (highly unlikely) receiving a residence permit. Or they may let me come back in on a 3-month tourist visa, but then need to be away from the country for 3 months before coming again. Or they may put a one year, 5 year or permanent entry ban on me (despite promising not to–one never knows).
These last two days Ulrike and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support, not only from believers here in Turkey, but from literally all around the world. It means a lot to us and encourages us greatly to know we’re not alone, that we’re a part of such a great family, God’s family.
It goes without saying that we value your prayers as we consider what to do in this situation. We’ll try to send more information in the upcoming weeks as things become clear. Our hearts are at peace. We long to stay in Turkey with the people we have grown to love here, but are resigned to do whatever God wants. To him be all the glory. Amen.
David & Ulrike
Montagnard House Church in Central Vietnam Faces Shutdown
On Sunday morning, more than 20 churchgoers gathered at the home of Christian leader Ama Sim for service. Approximately 13 officials from the Cuor Dang commune and Cu M’Gar district suddenly entered the home as the group was praying.
Officials asked the members to stop their religious activities and leave. The group refused and responded by saying that if any action were to be taken, it must be after their service.
Given the cramped space, the officials could not enter and only stood at the door until the group finished. They then demanded that Ama Sim be taken back to their office for investigation. The church refused, worrying that he might disappear if taken into custody, so they stood their ground until the officials relented.
Finally, the officials threatened them, saying, “We are giving you [a] warning this time, but next Sunday if you still gather, we will bring more crowds to shut you down.”
The church is asking for prayer for the Ede Border Evangelical Group, in Cuor Dang Commune, M’Gar District, Daklak Province.
The communist government in Vietnam is nervous about large gatherings of people for fear of ‘subversive activities.’ Many religious gatherings fall victim to this suspicion, with believers often attacked, detained, or imprisoned on trumped up charges.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Montagnard Christians in Vietnam have long faced persecution and discrimination for their ethnicity, Christian faith, and role of fighting alongside the US during the Vietnam War. It is shameful that the government continues to violate the freedom of belief and religion, as enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution, especially toward minorities.”For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
The evil blasphemy saga continues-let us pray MOB RULE LOSES!
(World Watch Monitor) Radical religious groups in Pakistan have called for mass protests and threatened the judges of the country’s Supreme Court in Islamabad ahead of their ruling in the blasphemy case of Christian woman Asia Bibi.
The hardline Islamic party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), threatened the judges in a press conference on YouTube, saying that if Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, were to receive clemency, the justices would meet a “horrible” end, reported AFP.
Meanwhile another religious group, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, asked the Supreme Court to order that, if Asia Bibi is released, she would not be able to leave the country.
“Western forces are trying to get Asia Bibi out of the country but she should be hanged,” the petitioner, Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, told AFP.
The TLP also announced it would hold a rally on Friday, 12 October, and on social…
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AT LAST! BUT SHE AND HER FAMILY WILL NEED ASYLUM OUTSIDE PAKISTAN!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Asia Bibi to Be Acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court
Apex Court’s Decision Brings Close to Pakistan’s Most Visible Case of Persecution
10/08/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the final appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad, was heard by Pakistan’s Supreme Court earlier today, October 8. According to sources reached by ICC, the three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, will reverse Bibi’s death sentence.
According to these sources, although the decision to reverse the judgment against Bibi has been made, the court has ordered the media not to comment until the decision is formally announced. This formal announcement could be made at any time.
“I’m very hopeful for Asia’s release and acquittal,” Sajid Christopher, President of Human Friends Organization, told ICC. “[Bibi’s lawyer], Advocate Saif-Ul-Malook, prepared very well. He pointed out all the contradictions in the FIR and witness statements. I am very confident that Asia is innocent.”
“I am hopeful of justice being served,” Cecil Chaudhry, Executive Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, said. “I am hopeful that sanity prevails and [Asia] gets her rightful justice.”
In October 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan indefinitely adjourned Bibi’s appeal after one of the three justices hearing the case recused himself. Since then, Bibi’s appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.
“Asia Bibi’s case is an example of the widespread abuse of the blasphemy laws and persecution facing Pakistani Christians,” Peter Jacob, Executive Director of Center for Social Justice, told ICC. “Law enforcement and justice system should consider that the victims of blasphemy laws undergo enormous suffering years before they get relief from the courts.”
Bibi has been on death row since her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Sessions Court in District Nankana, Punjab in 2010. Her High Court appeal was also delayed and rescheduled seven times, but was finally held on October 16, 2014 at the Lahore High Court. During that appeal, Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, one member of a two-judge bench, confirmed Bibi’s death sentence. On July 22, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted Bibi’s petition for her case to be reviewed and suspended her death sentence.
The blasphemy accusation against Bibi is based on flimsy evidence from a dispute that took place in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. The Muslim women became angry with Bibi when she, a Christian whom they considered unclean, drank water from the same water bowl as the Muslim women. An argument between Bibi and the Muslim women ensued and the Muslim women later reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against the prophet Muhammad.
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “It is amazing to see Asia finally receive justice after almost a decade in prison. It has been nine long years since Asia had this false blasphemy accusation completely change her life. We here at ICC are hopeful that the Supreme Court will soon formally announce Asia’s acquittal. It is ICC’s hope that, with this decision, the Supreme Court will lay a foundation for reforming Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and signal to both Pakistan and the world that justice will prevail over extremism, even when a religious minority is accused of blasphemy.”
Pakistan’s Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has said that the Supreme Court will hear Asia Bibi’s appeal against her blasphemy conviction “soon”, and that he will preside over the bench.
- Describing her case, Bibi said she was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Because she is a Christian, some of her Muslim co-workers objected, saying that she should not touch the water vessel as she would make it unclean. An argue began and harsh words were exchanged. Bibi claims the women later accused her of blasphemy in conspiracy with another Muslim woman. Bibi maintains her innocence.
But let us not forget others imprisoned or on death row for blasphemy who are innocent namely IMRAN GHAFUR (2009), ZAFAR BHATTI and FARHAN AZIZ.
LAHORE: The Supreme Court is due to hear the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian, accused for blasphemy, on Thursday. Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.
This will be the final appeal for Asia Bibi, some six years after she was sentenced to death, accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.
“There is no question that what is at stake is the very soul of the state and Pakistan society: does Pakistan respect the rights of the most vulnerable? Does it defend those rights against spurious allegations even where those allegations involved matters that are sacred to most Pakistanis?” Mustafa Qadri, an expert on human rights in South…
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Check out this Irish Church in Chains production to learn about worldwide Christian persecution:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Iran’s Judges Further Criminalize Christianity
Two Believers Sentenced for Affirming Basic Christian Doctrines
Judge Mashaullah Ahmadzadeh was one of the judges involved in the sentencing. He is the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, Branch 26. He is heavily complicit in Iran’s human rights abuses, and has presided over several cases which led to the imprisonment of Christians. The purpose of the Revolutionary Court is to try ideological opponents of the Islamic regime.
Judge Ahmad Zargar is currently on the European Union’s sanctions list for serious human rights violations, including overseeing miscarriages of justice. In addition to his role as an appeal judge, he is a hojjatolislam, a clerical position immediately below that of an ayatollah. He presided over Fadaie’s appeal, as well as those of several other Christian prisoners.
Both Christians were arrested while attending a house church in May 2017. Fadaie is currently serving a separate jail sentence in Evin Prison, Iran’s most notorious jail. Their sentencing comes at a time when the Iranian regime has increased the amount of pressure on the Church.
“As Christianity grows rapidly in Iran, the Islamic government and the clergy in power are alarmed. Their only strategy to slow down this growth is through a campaign of fear, violence, and intimidation… We expect the persecution in Iran will increase as the Islamic government feels threatened by the spread of Christianity among Muslims in Iran,” explained Dr. Hormoz Shariat, president and founder of Iran Alive Ministries.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The suppression of religious freedom and abuse of humans rights is what we have come to expect from Iran’s judiciary. The judiciary is not only sentencing Christians to jail—they are sending them to be tortured while imprisoned and harassed for life by the Intelligence Ministry. By deepening its criminalization of the Christian faith, the judiciary is inflicting significant and irreversible trauma on believers.”
They have appealed against these sentences.
These stories are becoming absolutely and terribly regular and heart-wrenching and I hold the Nigerian Government at least partly responsible for doing little or nothing to stop these cowardly murderers.
(Morning Star News) – Armed Fulani herdsmen accompanied by militants in Nigerian army uniforms killed 17 Christians in their homes in the heart of Jos, north-central Nigeria, on Thursday (Sept. 27), including four children, area sources said.
At about 7:30 p.m. in an area known as Rukuba Road, the assailants broke into one home shooting randomly and killed 14 members of one family, including 15-year-old Ishaya Kogi, 17-year-old Jonathan Kogi, Cynthia Kogi, 22, and Lucky Kogi, 25, their uncle told Morning Star News.
Two of Lucky Kogi’s children, 3-year-old Majesty Lucky and Blessing Lucky, 14, were also killed in the assault, he said.
“When the Fulani herdsmen came, they shot into the house randomly, breaking and forcing their way into rooms shooting defenseless women and children and anyone in sight,” the mournful Rogu Audu, who lost his…
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More guilt on the security forces of Nigeria.
(World Watch Monitor) A pastor was one of at least 27 people who lost their lives following fresh attacks carried out by Fulani militants on five predominantly Christian communities in northeast Nigeria in recent days. Many of them drowned as they attempted to escape via the local river.
Various sources contacted by World Watch Monitor confirmed that the attacks took place between 13 to 16 September, and affected the villages of Gon, Bolki, Ndumusu, Yotti and Yanga, in Numan local government area (LGA), Adamawa state.
This is the same area where 3,000 homes were destroyed in December 2017, after fighter jets sent by the Nigerian Air Force were alleged to have fired rockets at villages where Fulani herdsmen were attacking Christian residents, according to a February report by Amnesty International.
A local pastor, who wanted…
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I believe it would be right to pray for the utter destruction of Boko Haram unless some repent and desert and lead a bunch of skilled mercenaries or SAS to their hideaways.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Following disclosure of a video by Boko Haram Islamic extremists threatening to kill Christian high school student Leah Sharibu within one month, Christian leaders in Nigeria have declared three days of prayer and fasting.
In the video disclosed last week, the terrorists are shown killing an aid worker. In a comment to Morning Star News, the 15-year-old Leah’s father, Nathan Sharibu, pleaded with the terrorists to have mercy on his daughter, who was not released with more than 100 kidnapped high school girls earlier this year because she refused to convert to Islam.
“I plead that the leaders of the group have mercy on my daughter and spare her life,” Sharibu told Morning Star News by phone on Monday (Sept. 24). “I also want to plead with the Nigerian government…
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When Chinese authorities released Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng from prison on Aug.7th 2017, we didn’t hear anything from him, presumably because of the communist state’s one-year prohibition against him saying anything publicly that might “damage the reputation or interests of the state.”
His family had telephone conversations with him, but they didn’t hear much from him either. After some phone talks in which he said very little, the Los Angeles Times reported, his wife wasn’t sure whether he was still in too much pain to talk or had forgotten how.
It has become clear that isolation and torture left Gao, once a prominent attorney who defended Christians and the Falun Gong, unable to speak coherently. China Aid reports, “Gao has been utterly destroyed. He can barely talk – and only in very short sentences – most of the time he mutters and is unintelligible. It is believed that he is now suffering from a broad range of physical and mental health problems; he has not been allowed to see a doctor since his release.”
As his wife, Geng He, pointed out to the Times, if he cannot even obtain adequate dental care, what hope does he have for obtaining help to recover his mental health? While she and their two children escaped to the United States in 2009 and are living in northern California, Gao is under virtual house arrest at Geng’s sister’s place in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Province in the country’s far west. Dentists there don’t have the means to repair the damage malnutrition did to his remaining teeth, and the government has forbidden him to travel to Beijing, much less to the United States to be reunited with his family.
Gao’ s advocacy for religious minorities led to his conviction in 2006 for “inciting subversion,” and in 2007 he began serving a previously suspended sentence of three years in Shaya County Prison in Xinjiang region. After he wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress about human rights abuses in China, authorities “disappeared” him on Sept. 21, 2007, torturing him for more than 50 days. Gao later revealed that his captors shocked his genitals with an electric baton and pierced them with toothpicks.
“As with the torture experienced during his pretrial detention, the purpose of this mistreatment was to extract a false confession,” noted a petition by Freedom Now, which works to free prisoners of conscience.
Thugs suspected of being agents of the state again abducted Gao on Feb. 4, 2009. He reportedly reappeared from March 28, 2010, to April 20 of that year, during which he described how police beat him for two days and nights, according to Freedom Now.
China announced on Dec. 16, 2011 that it would take him to prison to serve the three-year sentence imposed on Dec. 22, 2006, thus withdrawing the five-year probation then about to expire. In Shaya Prison since December 2011, Gao remained in isolation in a small cell with little light 24 hours a day, according to China Aid.
“Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him,” the advocacy group reported. “He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. He was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage, once a day; as a result, he has lost roughly 22.5 kilograms (50 pounds) and now weighs about 59 kilograms (130 pounds). He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”
His wife commented to China Aid that she was devastated by his condition.
“The only thing I feared more than him being killed was his suffering relentless and horrific torture and being kept alive,” she said. “We desperately need help from our adopted country and from President Obama and Secretary Kerry personally to demand the Chinese government to allow my husband to come to the United States for medical treatment. If President Xi Jinping has any sense of decency or humanity, after crushing my husband both physically and psychologically, the least he could do is allow me as a devoted wife to care for him.”
Jared Genser, head of Freedom Now, told China Aid he was heartbroken for Gao and his family.
“We knew that if Gao wasn’t killed, he would have suffered immensely,” Genser said. “But the situation is far worse than my limited imagination enabled me to contemplate. While China is a great power in the 21st century, the inhumanity and brutality that it has demonstrated by the torture of Gao Zhisheng shows its profound insecurity and fear of anyone in its population who stands up to its repression
Gao Zhisheng timeline
• 2005: Authorities close down Gao Zhisheng’s law practice
• Dec 2006: Convicted of subversion and sentenced to house arrest
• Sept 2007: Says he was tortured during a period of detention
• Jan 2009: Disappears; last seen accompanied by security officials
• Mar 2010: Reappeared for a month before disappearing again
• Dec 2011: State media says he has been jailed for three years
• Jan 2012: Gao revealed to be in Xinjiang prison
• August 2014: Gao freed from jail
The Associated Press reported that Mr Gao’s wife, Geng He, spoke to her husband later on Thursday.
Ms Geng and the couple’s two children are in the United States where they sought asylum in early 2009.
She told AP that it was clear there were security minders present as she could hear unfamiliar voices in the background.
Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng has reportedly been released into ‘controlled freedom’, according to Release partner China Aid. Gao was freed from prison on Thursday and is currently with his brother in Xinjiang province. Gao has not been allowed to talk to anyone, not even his wife in the US. Some reports say he is accompanied by Chinese security agents. He was jailed for ‘inciting subversion’ after ‘violating probation rules’. Please pray that Gao will be granted full freedom and reunited with his family. (Source: China Aid)
|“Because I am Christian, they made me imitate Jesus on a cross like the crucifixion. We were treated like animals because they look down on Kachins.” One victim in Myanmar (Burma) described being humiliated for his faith by the Army.
The desperate plight of Kachin Christians facing brutal repression from the military in Myanmar (Burma), was highlighted in a U.N. report released this week, featuring over 800 individual testimonies from victims.
The report makes an urgent call for an international genocide tribunal to bring to account Army officials for over 40 years of cruel genocide against Rohingya Muslims, and acknowledges identical tactics of ethnic cleansing and persecution against the mainly-Christian Kachin people.
Barnabas aid through Christian partners reached homeless Kachin
10,000 Kachin Christians fled from aerial bombardment in April this year. Sky news reported other aid agencies were unable operate in the region, but Barnabas was already getting practical help to displaced Kachin people, working through our local Christian partners.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we have provided rice, dried fish, tarpaulins (for shelter), sleeping mats, medicines, underwear, kitchen supplies, and other needs for approximately 5,400 Kachin people fleeing attacks. At one camp, a kindergarten of 184 children has been provided with a generator and can study in the evening without risk of candles setting their shelter on fire.
Can you help these courageous believers return to a normal life?
These courageous believers have been through relentless trauma and hardship. Many displaced Christians now have basic shelter, but life in a displaced peoples camp is far from easy and now a food shortage is reported.
With your support, they can have access the basic essentials they need to return to a semblance of normal life.
One grateful Christian grandmother, who got help from Barnabas Fund, said, “I am old, but I am worried about the future of my children and grandchildren. Thank you for coming and visiting us. Thank you for bringing aid and thank you for praying for me.”
Will you be an answer to their prayers today?
09/19/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – More than three weeks have passed since Thai authorities arrested and detained 181 mostly Christian Montagnard refugees on the outskirts of Bangkok on August 28. International Christian Concern’s (ICC) sources have confirmed that all of the adults were sent to Immigration Detention Center (IDC) last week, while 50 children, including young boys, girls, and infants, were sent to three different shelters.
A local source who wishes to remain anonymous told ICC that these shelters “are not ‘migrant shelters,’ but rather shelters designed for Thai children who cannot stay in their homes. These shelters are not prepared to care for large numbers of children who do not speak Thai, or for breastfeeding children separated from their mothers.”
Despite local rights groups’ attempts to visit the children, they have not been granted permission. This means that these children have not seen their parents, nor any familiar faces from local NGOs, for nearly three weeks. Separation anxiety and fear will take a toll on these children’s health with each passing day.
Montagnards, also known as the Degar people, are an indigenous people group of approximately one million living in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Persecuted for their ethnicity and Christian faith, many of them chose to flee their homeland to seek a future where they can be treated with dignity and enjoy the freedoms that they were deprived of in Vietnam, such as basic rights to hộ khẩu (household registration that grants Vietnamese citizens access to public services) or the freedom to worship at churches without government interference.
They set foot in Bangkok, Thailand, given the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has an office there and can help process refugee or asylum status for them. Although Thailand itself is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and as a result rules out legal obligations to protect refugees or legally recognize that status, many still hope that they could use Thailand as a springboard to a third country if they are fortunate.
In fact, most of these recently detained Montagnards have either refugee or asylum status, along with others in the process of applying for one.
The latest arrest came as a shock especially to the local NGOs working on refugee issues, “since UNHCR and Thai immigration appeared to have set an agreement in place since January to not arrest anyone registered with UNHCR,” a source familiar with the matter informed ICC.
He added, “This [arrangement] is potentially even more devastating since Thailand has usually allowed children to stay with their parents.” From an advocacy perspective, it is also disheartening because the NGOs “have seen significant progress in the past 12 months, with bail being open, fewer arrests, and government moving towards their own screening mechanism, but this is a major, major setback and a scale of arrest we have not seen in years.”
They hope that this was merely a result of inter-governmental miscommunication, not something that the government will continue to implement down the road.
Grace Bui, the Thailand Program Director at the Montagnard Assistance Project also shared her concerns with ICC, “For the Montagnards who weren’t arrested, they are living in fear every day. They all got kicked out from their apartments by the landlords because the police came to harass the landlords.” She continued to highlight the biggest challenge for her right now, which is “finding housing for them. We also need to find money so they can put down deposits and first [month’s] rent. It is not easy because most of the landlords in the areas are afraid and don’t want to rent to the Montagnards. Many of them are hiding in the park or temples.”
Human rights groups have called on the Thai government to release these detainees, yet nothing has been done. Bui is determined to free them with a petition calling on Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to grant them freedom immediately. Click here to voice your support for their release and continue to lift these Montagnard refugees up in prayer.
Awfully wicked persecution. May the attackers be brought to justice.
He subsequently died:09/19/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that Faraz Badar, a 26-year-old Christian resident of Gujranwala, died in a Lahore hospital on September 15, 2018. He succumbed to burn injuries that he received when unidentified attackers sprayed acid on him during the early hours of September 5, 2018 in Gujranwala. Faraz was brought to Meo Hospital in Lahore when his condition deteriorated.
Badar Masih, Faraz’s father, informed ICC that “Faraz was a young graduate and serving as Assistant Admin Officer in a local hospital for about two years. On September 5 at around 2:00 a.m, when he was going home from the hospital some unknown assailants sprayed acid upon him.” This is not the first time Faraz has been attacked.
Masih continued, “A few months back, Faraz was beaten by some men who were covering their faces. However, we did not report it to the police, as Christians are often not heard in police stations.”
Talking to ICC over the telephone, Faraz’s mother shared that “Faraz often complained that some of his Muslim staff members were unhappy with his excellent performance and they disliked Faraz for his honesty and Christian background.” While she admitted that they had no evidence of the allegations, it is not an uncommon occurrence.
While reflecting on her son’s life, Faraz’s mother added, “My son was running my kitchen. He was very gentle to everyone in the vicinity. He had no enmity. He was an active member of the Church. However, he was usually not given a day off to go to Church for Sunday prayer service.”
Masih claimed, “My son was targeted for his Christian faith. I don’t think we, the Christians, are safe in Pakistan. However, it is our country and we love it with our soul and spirit. We won’t seek refuge.”
“We [still] want justice from the government,” pleaded the mother. Masih’s family is not alone in their experience.
In April, a Christian girl named Asma Yaqoob was attacked by a Rizwan, a Muslim man, for refusing his marriage proposal. She later died during treatment on April 22, 2018.
Social activist Ayube Qaiser told ICC, “It is sad to note that increasing religious hatred and intolerance manifesting in different incidents is making life unbearable for religious minorities in the country. Their trust in the state as a protected citizen is being damaged badly. Often Christians are not accepted by their Muslim colleagues. They face different false allegations until they are removed from their post…This particular case is simply target killing on account of religious motivation.”
According to (CIP) a young Pakistani Christian suffered life-changing injuries during an acid attack, a crime most often seen against women. Gujranwala’s Faraz Baddar was attacked by unknown men and details emerged that Faraz has been attacked previously and tortured by the attackers.
Faraz is employed at a local hospital in Gujranwala. He worked as manager in the hospital. Purportedly, the attack is a result of religion based dislike. Social media reports claim that the attack comes as a result of extreme emotional hatred due to his Christian faith. It is speculated that he was disliked, because his co-workers did not like being working under the authority of a Christian.
Please pray for his safety and healing.
Would you sign this? Would your pastor and elders?
More than two hundred Chinese church leaders have issued a brave declaration calling for religious freedom, in an echo of the stands taken by German church leaders against the Nazis in the 1930s and Romanian church leaders against the Communist regime in the 1980s.
The persecution of religion, but especially Christianity, is growing in China. On 10 September, the Chinese government announced new draft measures to control online religious activity that will ban the live streaming of church services, requiring organisations publishing religious information online to obtain a licence. The regulations also prohibit foreign pastors from preaching online.
Earlier this month, authorities shut down one of the largest unofficial churches in Beijing – such congregations are known as “house churches” – after church leaders had refused to allow government authorities to install CCTV cameras inside the building.
Christian leaders have witnessed a pattern of increased pressure since new religion regulations came into force in February 2018.
In response to the rise in persecution of Christians, 279 Chinese pastors issued a public declaration on 12 September 2018 calling on the government to allow full religious freedom. These Chinese church leaders have shown remarkable courage in speaking truth to power. Their declaration concludes, “For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses – even the loss of our freedom and of our lives.” (The declaration is reproduced in full below.)
It is not the first time that Christian leaders have taken a stand. In 1934, a group of Evangelical church leaders in Germany issued the Barmen Declaration. It rejected all state control of church activity and religion and thus placed the German Evangelical Church on a collision course with Hitler’s Nazi regime. Among the supporters of the declaration was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and theologian who later died in a concentration camp. Around thirty-five church leaders in Romania released a similar proclamation in 1989 against the attempts of Ceaușescu’s Communist regime to control the church and curtail religious freedom. They asked for churches to be permitted to worship freely and to be able to train their children in the ways of the Lord.
Today, it is Chinese pastors who are bravely taking a stand for religious freedom in the face of state repression. The freedoms they call for in their joint declaration are the same as those that Barnabas Fund is asking to be enshrined in law within the UK and to be protected for Christians globally.
A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith
We are a group of Chinese Christians, chosen by the Most High God to be His humble servants, serving as pastors for Christian churches throughout various towns and cities.
We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the one true and living Triune God is the Creator of the universe, of the world, and of all people. All men should worship God and not any man or thing. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that all men, from national leaders to beggars and prisoners, have sinned. They will die once and then be judged in righteousness. Apart from the grace and redemption of God, all men would eternally perish. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the crucified and risen Jesus is the only Head of the global church, the sole Saviour of all mankind, and the everlasting Ruler and supreme Judge of the universe. To all who repent and believe in Him, God will give eternal life and an eternal Kingdom.
In September, 2017, the State Council issued the new “Regulations on the Administration of Religious Affairs” and began implementing these regulations in February, 2018. Ever since then, Christian churches across China have suffered varying degrees of persecution, contempt, and misunderstanding from government departments during public worship and religious practices, including various administrative measures that attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith. Some of these violent actions are unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution. These include demolishing crosses on church buildings, violently removing expressions of faith like crosses and couplets hanging on Christians’ homes, forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations controlled by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or to sing secular songs praising the State and political parties, banning the children of Christians from entering churches and receiving religious education, and depriving churches and believers of the right to gather freely.
We believe that these unjust actions are an abuse of government power and have led to serious conflicts between political and religious parties in Chinese society. These actions infringe on the human freedoms of religion and conscience and violate the universal rule of law. We are obligated to announce bad news to the authorities and to all of society: God hates all attempts to suppress human souls and all acts of persecution against the Christian church, and he will condemn and judge them with righteous judgment.
But we are even more obligated to proclaim good news to the authorities and to all of society: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Saviour and King of mankind, in order to save us sinners was killed, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God, destroying the power of sin and death. In His love and compassion God has prepared forgiveness and salvation for all who are willing to believe in Jesus, including Chinese people. At any time, anyone can repent from any sin, turn to Christ, fear God, obtain eternal life, and bring great blessing from God upon his family and country.
For the sake of faith and conscience, for the spiritual benefits of the authorities in China and of society as a whole, and ultimately for the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God, we make the following declaration to the Chinese government and to all of society:
09/13/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In August of 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, gave his first speech to the constitute assembly. During this speech, he established goals and shared the direction for the new country on the basis of secularism, equal rights, and the protection and dignity of every citizen regardless of religious identity.
Seventy-one years later, on August 19, Imran Khan, the newly-elected prime minister of Pakistan, declared Jinnah to be his role model and made a commitment to follow in Jinnah’s footsteps in his first speech as prime minister. Furthermore, like Jinnah, he made commitments to ensure the protection of religious minorities in Pakistan and claimed that he appreciated their contributions to the country’s history.
While both speeches expressed a deep concern for leading the country on values of justice and equal citizenship, Khan’s commitment now appear rootless. Shortly after his speech, dozens of cases of Christian persecution were reported, marking this August as a particularly challenging month for Pakistani Christians.
In the month of August alone, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented 14 cases of severe persecution, human right violations, and violence against Christians. In less than 31 days, four Christians were killed, including Vicky Saleem in Lahore, Amara in Sheikhupura, Yousaf Masih in Okara, and Mehwish Shaukat in Hyderabad. Three women were raped in Sialkot, Khanewal, and Waziabad and three more were forced to convert to Islam in Karachi, Sargodha, and Sahiwal. Entire Christian communities also suffered greatly, as a community in Kasur was attacked and beaten for seeking to protect their church.
ICC also documented 11 Christians who were severely beaten and tortured throughout Pakistan. These Christians included Vickram John who lost an eye, Beenish who suffered spinal cord damage, and Elwin John who was beaten in Karachi. Doctors in Khanewal also had to remove the uterus of a Christian teenager who was brutally raped by three men.
“The increasing incidents of violence against vulnerable groups need to ring alarm bells and call for timely intervention by state authorities,” a church secretary in Pakistan told ICC. “The social fabric of our society is marred with intolerance and social hostility coupled with the prevalence of social discrimination which creates a challenging situation of marginalized groups in Pakistan.”
For Yousaf Jalal Gill, the Executive Director of Umeed Partnership Pakistan, he felt that the violent attacks and discrimination against Christians is due, in part, to the “unchecked and unmonitored activities of the organizations which belong to the philosophy of jihad.”
Secondly, Gill claimed, “The hate-based curriculum taught in the educational institutions and hate sermons by clerics using amplifiers provide a foundation [for] the faith-based violence and discrimination.”
To counter these elements, Gill suggested, “Individuals, organizations, and institutions engaged in promoting interfaith harmony and interfaith dialogue have to take the lead in fostering the message of equality and acceptance of every individual’s faith. Especially in the [underdeveloped] localities.”
Muslim human rights activist and director of CAPS Organization, Shakeel Wahidullah, told ICC that he was shocked over the series of anti-Christian incidents in August. “It is [a] sad and alarming situation for those who do not belong to the majority population of the country,” Wahidullah told ICC. “The discriminatory, biased, and violent situation against the marginalized groups will neither lead the country to betterment nor give [a] good name to Pakistan.”
Wahidullah urged the authorities “to wake up and consider other faith groups as equal citizens and ensure protection to all of them.”
While little has been done to compensate the victims of the 14 incidents documented by ICC in August, many hope that the new government under Imran Khan will take action. If Khan is to truly follow in the footsteps of Jinnah, he must ensure justice for these victims and show that they are equal citizens regardless of whether they worship at a mosque, temple, or church.
Nine civilians from the Christian-majority Syrian town of Mhardeh died on Friday 7 September, when shells or rockets fired from a rebel-controlled region hit built up areas. According to local sources, a further 20 people were reportedly injured in the attack on the town, which is located around 14 miles north-west of the city of Hama.
Throughout the conflict Christian civilian areas in Syria have been deliberately targeted with rocket attacks and shelling by jihadist rebel groups, although these attacks have gone largely unreported by Western media.
Three Pastors Severely Injured in Attack on Spiritual Retreat in India
Local sources told ICC that a mob of 50 radicals under the leadership of Pawan Arora, the district chief of the VHP, and a few policemen attacked a hall where approximately 25 Christians were meeting for a two-day spiritual retreat. While hurling verbal insults at the Christians, the mob savagely beat the three pastors who were leading the retreat.
“All of this happened in the presence of the police,” Pastor Masih, a 36-year-old pastor who was gravely injured in the attack, told ICC. “The police did not come to our rescue. Rather, they joined the mob in accusing us of doing forcible conversions.”
“I have terrible pain in the lower end of my spinal cord,” Pastor Masih continued. “The whole area is swollen as they kicked me there with force. Now, I am unable to walk.”
“Over a dozen people hit me with stones on my head, kicked me, and punched me,” Masih said, describing the attack. “I was in shock and did not know what to do. Their intention was to kill us, but God saved us from the mouth of death.”
“They want to kill my husband because he is a pastor and preaches about Jesus,” Sandra Ashok, Pastor Ashok Benjamin’s wife, told ICC. “My husband received multiple fractures to the nose and [a] clot in the eye. They also hit him on the head. He was bleeding heavily from his nose and also his head.”
After the attack, Pastor Benjamin was able to stand witness in the police station amid a large crowd. As he reported the attack, still covered in his own blood, the police asked him what he was doing at the retreat.
“Our lives are in danger with the negative publicity we receive, claiming we do forcible conversions,” Pastor Masih explained. “Still, I will not stop preaching Jesus.”
Although there was pressure from VHP members, the police did not file forced conversion charges against the three injured pastors. Instead, the police forced the Christians and radicals to agree to a compromise.
Two other anti-Christian attacks led by Hindu radicals took place in Uttar Pradesh in the past week. On September 2, police arrested pastors in Faizabad after they were falsely accused of forced conversions. The police kept the pastors in police custody for more than five hours, but later released them due to a lack of evidence.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are extremely concerned by the continued attacks on Christians in India, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Every day, new reports of persecution are being documented. Many Christians fear this may be the new normal for their community as Hindu radicals have been allowed to attack Christians and other minority communities with impunity. India must take steps to counter this growing wave of intolerance and violence. Until then, the attacks will likely continue to increase in both number and severity.”
Rumours are circulating that Fulani militants are poised to attack the town of Vom in north eastern Nigeria, it is just south of Jos.
The town lies on the major arterial road between Abuja, the capital, and Jos, the Plateau state capital. If this raid takes place it could have devastating consequences for those living in the region.
Our contacts in the area, fearful of an attack any day, have asked for urgent prayer that God would intervene. Please join us and them in praying that God would prevent any attack on Vom.
Nasty Muslims attack and maim Christian neighbours. May they receive justice.
08/28/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In August, two Christian families became the victims of Pakistan’s ever-growing religious intolerance. In both incidents, the families were subjected to extreme violence due to the low social standing Christians are afforded in Pakistan’s Muslim-dominated society.
Anti-Christian discrimination is widespread in Pakistan. Christians are often viewed as the lowest of the low in Pakistani society. This view is exemplified by the extreme over-representation of Christians in Pakistan’s undesirable sanitation professions, including sewer workers and street sweepers. Some reports estimate that nearly 80% of sanitation positions in Pakistan are held by Christians, who make up only 1.5% of the country’s total population.
On August 2, this attitude of intolerance cost Vicky Masih, a Christian from Lahore, his life.
“It was the wedding anniversary of Vicky and his wife,” advocate Tariq Zia told International Christian Concern (ICC). “Vicky was asked by his Muslim friends to meet them at Muhammad Abbas’ house and celebrate with them.”
“Muhammad Ilyas, another one of Vicky’s Muslim friends, had to pay back a handsome loan to Vicky,” Zia continued. “When Vicky asked for his money back, Muhammad Ilyas abused Vicky and said that he will teach a lesson to the choora.” “Choora” is a derogatory term used against Christians that denotes them as dirty and untouchable.
“Within no time, the party turned into an exchanging of harsh words, a physical clash, and ended with Vicky’s murder,” Zia reported.
According to reports, Vicky was shot in the stomach and abandoned while at Muhammad Abbas’ house. He later died at the hospital, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
“This is a sign of prevailing intolerance against Christians in this Islamic society. It is a result of the hate-based curriculum taught in the educational institutions, hate speeches, and other unmonitored publications against Christians.”
Separated by only 16 days and 750 miles, Alvin John and his family were attacked and beaten by a mob in the Mehmoodabad neighborhood of Karachi after he refused to allow a Muslim to forcibly marry his 19-year-old daughter.
“I shifted my family to this rented house about 10 months ago,” John told ICC. “At first, we were asked to leave by some Muslim neighbors because of our Christian faith. But since Easter, we have been pressurized, threatened, and teased.”
“My 19-year-old daughter Aresha then became the target,” John explained. “They would follow my daughter in the streets and markets, offering her a bright and secure future if she converted, and often abused her for her Christian faith.”
When this harassment became too much to bear, John reach out for help. “Two week back, we tried to negotiate with the elders of the area to settle the issue,” John said. “However, this bounced back as an attack on all of us.”
“A mob of Muslims, led by Muhammad Samad Zaheer, attacked me and my family around 11:00 p.m. on August 18,” John told ICC. “They damaged the left eye of my son, Vickram John. Initially, the doctors have no hope for his eyesight.”
“The attackers also broke most of the house stuff, furniture, doors, and windows,” John continued. “We cannot go back to the house as there is unrest in the neighborhood. We are now taking shelter with relatives.”
Kashif Anthony, a coordinator for the National Commission for Justice and Peace in Karachi, condemned the “cruel attitude” shown toward Christians. “This is a sign of prevailing intolerance against Christians in this Islamic society,” Anthony explained. “It is a result of the hate-based curriculum taught in the educational institutions, hate speeches, and other unmonitored publications against Christians.”
Until Pakistan takes concrete steps to stem this tide of intolerance, widespread discrimination against Christians will continue to grow. With that growth of intolerance, there will be likely more attacks on Christians in Pakistan.
Thankfully police did intervene to stop mob violence in another town where a youth, now still in custody was accused of blasphemy.
Also bring before the Lord Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan. In his first speech following his party’s victory in July’s elections, the former cricketer stated “I am saying to you today, that for the first time, Pakistan’s policies won’t be for the few rich people, it will be for the poor, for our women, for our minorities, whose rights are not respected.” Pray that he will have the integrity to be true to his word and the humility to know that it is God who has placed him in a position of authority (Proverbs 8:15).
Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A young Christian man in Karachi, Pakistan lost sight in one eye when armed, Muslim neighbors attacked his family, his father said.
Vikram John, 25, lost sight in his left eye after Muslim neighbors who had pressured his family to leave the neighborhood with months of harassment beat him and other family members on the night of Aug. 18, his father Alvin John told Morning Star News by phone.
“After exchanging a few hot words with the Muslim youths led by a political activist named Ihsan, Vikram came inside the house,” Alvin John said. “Moments later, bricks and stones came smashing through our window glass and hitting our gate. The attackers threatened us, saying to move out of the neighborhood if we wanted to stay alive as they hurled curses and abuses on us.”
Earlier in the evening…
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More Christians ab=nd their pastors murdered in recent attacks in north and central Nigeria,
The Myanmar military and their political leader are guilty of these crimes against humanity and must be held to account in this life as they will be in the next.
Refugees from Myanmar.
On Tiananmen Anniversary, Chinese Government
Detains Several Christians
Wang Yi and his wife.
CHINA On June 4, the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crack-
down in China, local authorities raided Autumn Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, China. During the raid, authorities took Pastor Wang Yi, his wife, four
other preachers, and 11 other members of the church into custody. At the time
of writing, the entire group is still being held and Pastor Wang Yi and his wife
could not be contacted.
Pastor Wang Yi has been harassed by the government several times prior
to this incident. On May 12, he and several members of his congregation
were detained leading up to a memorial service for those affected by the 2008
Sichuan earthquake. The pastor, who is widely recognized for speaking out
against the government’s crackdown on Christianity, has also been banned
from participating in international Christian conferences on multiple occasions.
Excellent insights into the politics and repression of the world’s biggest communist country, July magazine of ICC (International Christian Concern).
Order your on line monthly download of PERSECUTION MAGAZINE here:
Quetta, the mountain-ringed capital of dry, Muslim-dominated Baluchistan has been the scene of many violent anti-Christian atrocities this year.
A massive suicide bomb in a Methodist church killed ten and injured fifty last December.
In two drive-by shootings in April several were killed and injured. Fifteen Christians have been killed in the province in the last four months. Christians are calling for *increased security to combat Islamic State who admit to this cowardly violence.
Most of the world’s 10 million Baloch live in Pakistan and a million in Karachi. *Difficult to reach but responsive (Operation World).
Another case of Iranian government oppression and scapegoating of a Christian believer.
Mohabat News– the Christian convert, “Payam Kharaman”, has been sentenced to one year in prison on charge of propaganda activities against the system and in favor of Zionist Christianity through holding house meetings, evangelism, and invitation to Christianity and inclination to the land of Christianity. This Christian convert was among 12 citizens who were arrested in Bushehr (on Tuesday, April 7, 2015).
The cases of these 12 individuals with similar accusations have been under review until late April, 2018 while they were released on bail.
According to the verdict issued by Islamic Revolutionary Court of Bushehr headed by Judge Abbas Asgari, Payam Khoraman and 11 other individuals including “Shapour Jozi” and his wife, “Parastoo Zariftash” were sentenced to one year in prison, and they would be informed of the…
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Unusual case in Kenya where pastor is accused of what accusers are actually guilty of doing!
Pastor Arrested Over False Accusation of Human Trafficking
“We were getting ready to take 16 girls for a three-day Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) camp when security officers surrounded our home, claiming that the girls were kidnapped, and we were summoned to the local police headquarters for questioning. All the girls were separated and asked to write statements about what was going on in our home,” Pastor David Kimeu told ICC.
On Thursday, August 9, Pastor David appeared before the Tiaty magistrate to answer questions pertaining to charges of human trafficking and the unlawful operation of a rescue center.
Pastor David also informed ICC, “The files of the 16 girls presented before the magistrate by the prosecutor were read and a determination made. My wife and I were cleared of the charges because the girls indicated that they had taken refuge in our home for fear of being circumcised and married off to old men before they could finish their studies so that their parents can receive huge amounts of cattle dowry payment…Consequently, the girls have been separated from us and taken for custody in other orphanages and rescue shelters.”
Many communities in Kenya still practice female genital mutilation, despite knowing the potentially life-threatening medical problems it can cause. The Church in Kenya has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts to stop this practice that hinders young girls from pursuing their dreams after being forced to marry older men. Rescue shelters have been opened to protect, counsel, and empower girls who have been mutilated or escaped mutilation.
“We have always met resistance because of our efforts to curb female genital mutilation (FGM) rite of passage in this community and the allegations of human trafficking leveled against my wife and I are malicious and uncalled for…We fear for our lives because the same people that called the police to arrest us are threatening to destroy our home, church, and the school we opened for the community. We have repeatedly faced death threats from known and unknown people and the local chief and police have taken no action. In May, my wife was confronted by armed men who threatened to stop interfering with the girls in the villages. We need your prayers and encouragement as we continue with the Lord’s work in Tiaty,” lamented Pastor David.
The Kenyan parliament passed the Female Genital Mutilation Act in 2011, stating that violators will be punished with up to three years in prison for FGM and life imprisonment in cases that result in death.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, stated, “We pray for Pastor David and his family, so that God can deliver them from this trial and they can continue to help many of these vulnerable, young girls who are only children. We hope that the authorities and the judge show grace over the accused victims and carry out a fair trial. Please keep the pastor and his ministry in your prayers.”
May. 18, 2018 | China
U.S. Pastor Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Missionary Work
|A court recently sentenced North Carolina pastor John Cao, 58, to seven years in prison and fined him $3,000 for “organizing illegal border crossings.” The pastor, who has been detained since his arrest in March 2017, allegedly crossed the China-Myanmar border to minister to 2,000 impoverished minority children in Myanmar’s norther Wa state. He also helped build 16 schools there after building more than a dozen schools in China. Pray for the pastor’s wife, who is an American citizen, and their two sons. Experts believe his arrest and sentencing are related to the ruling Communist Party’s attempts to control the house church movement. Pray that he remains firm in faith, as he faces an uncertain future behind bars, and that he will continue to be a light amid spiritual darkness.
15/8/2018 Pastor faces 6 more years in China prison
Chinese-American Pastor John Cao has already spent more than a year behind bars – and has six more to go. He was arrested in China for ‘illegal border crossings’ in March 2017 – even though he’d had official approval of his regular charity missions into Myanmar for years.
Please pray for justice and John’s release. Pray too that his family, based in the US, will be allowed to see him.
Click the image to download the Prisoner Profile for John.
May she go free soon.
Aasia Bibi with her children before blasphemy charges
(Voice of the Persecuted) Speaking at a church during a prayer service for Asia Bibi in the Netherlands, her lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook, described his last visit with her at the Multan women’s prison on Oct. 10th, 2018. Pakistan’s Supreme Court had just heard her death sentence appeal but the judges delayed the announcement of ruling in Bibi’s case. Saif-ul-Malook said he was amazed by her wonderful mood, how happy she was and that she showed no signs of depression. Asia shared with him about a dream she had two days earlier (Oct. 8th), the same day the court hearing was taking place.
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When will she leave this country?
After Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi on Oct 30, mass protests led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) halted life in four major cities as the mobs blocked off roads and damaged property. The protests finally ended after three days when the hardliners reached an agreement with the government. One of the conditions was that Asia’s name placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). Persons on the list are prohibited from leaving Pakistan. The government agreed to initiate the legal process to place Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List.
Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said in an interview with Voice of America,
“Unless a person is declared guilty, there is no legal ground ─ how can his or her name be placed on the ECL?” he asked. “There is no question regarding this.”
“Every Pakistani, regardless of his creed or religion, is the state’s responsibility. No one in…
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Sudanese officials raided a house church in South Darfur, Sudan on 13 October, arresting 13 Christians and subjected the converts from Islam in the group to a day and night of beating and torture.
Security agents entered a house in the city of Nyala, known as a Christian meeting place, on the morning of 13 October. They asked the group meeting there, “Are you Christians?” and arrested all 13 when they answered “yes”.
The agents released two believers with Christian backgrounds from the Nuba mountains, the oldest Christian region in Sudan, but detained eleven converts from Islam including the pastor, Tajdeen Yousif.
A Barnabas Fund contact reported, “They tortured them beating them a whole day and night and telling them you face death because you changed your religion.”
Ten of the Christian converts were later released after reportedly being tortured into recanting their faith-pray for them!
Pastor Tajdeen, who is also a convert from Islam but refused to deny Christ, was held for several more days and has since been released. All eleven were required to report daily to authorities, but have gone into hiding for their safety.
Under Islamic sharia law, Muslims who abandon their religion face severe punishment. According to all schools of sharia, men face the death penalty. Sudan’s constitution gives judicial discretion to courts in the application of sharia.
Sudan is one of the few countries in the world today where people have been executed for apostasy. In 1985, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, a 76-year-old moderate Muslim political leader who had opposed the establishment of sharia by the Sudanese government, was hanged as an apostate for his views. Christian converts from Islam could potentially be executed also. In 2014, a Christian Sudanese woman was sentenced to death for apostasy. Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was raised as a Christian by her mother, but because her estranged father was a Muslim, authorities claimed she was a Muslim by birth and was therefore guilty of apostasy. An international outcry led to her eventual release.
There is an openness to the Gospel among African Sudanese Muslims in Darfur who have suffered greatly in the war that has raged in Sudan since 2003. Hundreds of thousands have died and hundreds of thousands are displaced in a conflict based on a complex of political, economic and ethnic issues.
Christians in the mainly Muslim region are among the African Sudanese who have been targeted by the Arab-Islamic Sudanese government. Some Christians are struggling to survive in the camps, and others struggling to earn a living in the towns. But the most vulnerable are those who have left Islam to follow Christ, a decision that probably means they will lose their job, get evicted from their home and no longer be able to educate their children. In March 2018, a church pastor in Darfur was murdered by Muslim extremists, along with his wife and two daughters, after he refused to give in to pressure to stop preaching the Gospel.
From Barnabas Fund contacts