The Tide of Government Persecution in Iran.

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Over 100 Iranian Christians Arrested by Intelligence Officials

Iranian Authorities Attempt to Intimidate Christians into Silence Ahead of Christmas Celebrations

They forget that Christ said he will build his church…
12/06/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that during the month of November, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry launched an arrest wave of Christians which cumulated on December 1, 2018. It is estimated that 114 Christians were arrested last week and approximately 28 others were arrested in the three preceding weeks.

The wave of arrests was announced on December 1 by Iranian Mehr News Agency, which operates as the semi-official mouthpiece of the government. It is common for the Iranian regime to increase the number of arrests ahead of Christmas. However, the latest wave is truly “staggering” according to Article 18“They had arrested so many of them and didn’t know what to do with them all.”

Early information indicates that because of a lack of space, most Christians spent only a few hours imprisoned and only the leaders were detained for a longer period of time. Sources, who remain anonymous for security reasons, say that several of those arrested were told that they would be charged with propaganda against the Islamic regime. These types of charges often fall under the purview of Iran’s Revolutionary Courts, which maintain close ties with Iran’s clergy and the Intelligence Ministry.

Dr. Mike Ansari from Heart4Iran, an Iranian Christian partnership platform, told ICC, “Most of the arrested individuals are coerced to divulge information about their house church activities and those of their friends, under threat of criminal prosecution or arrest of family members… Therefore, the case of every arrested Iranian believer is of utmost importance.”

“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.

During this past year, ICC has tracked a total of 248 ongoing cases where the Iranian authorities violated the religious freedom of Christians. These individuals face continued harassment, interrogation, detainment, imprisonment, or some other type of legal action intended to repress the Church.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Iranian authorities initiated this arrest wave to strike fear in the hearts of Christians just weeks ahead of Christmas celebrations. It is part of the regime’s strategy to further isolate the Church and keep it underground. The persecution that Iran’s Christians experience is incredibly intense, and historically it usually worsens ahead of Christmas. We must keep the Iranian Church in our prayers.”

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Chinese religious oppression.

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Bibles and Furniture Confiscated from Chinese House Church

House Church in Jiangxi Province Raided by Local Authorities

12/06/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that local authorities raided a house church in Jiangxi province on December 2. The officials confiscated Bibles and stools from the house of Liao Hongcon, where the Sunday service was held.

According to a tweet by Father Francis Liu, officials forcibly removed the Bibles and stools from the house church in rural Pingxiang city during the service. The government has also targeted other house churches in the surrounding area in an effort to prevent them from congregating.

In a video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, Liao Hongcon, a People’s Liberation Army veteran who leads the church, held up multiple signs to show his silent accusation of the government, reading, “I am a Chinese old warrior,” and, “I served my homeland by dedicating my youth to it, yet I can’t even safeguard my own freedom of religion?” 

He also reveals his ID card and veteran ID in the video to prove his identity.

“There were only a little more than a dozen senior citizens gathering at my home. They came and confiscated our Bibles and took our stools. [But] what crime did we commit? We only sang hymns and read Bibles!” Liao called the police to report the incident immediately, yet the police refused to send anyone to investigate.

“We need religious freedom!” Liao calls out in addition to demanding that the government return the Bibles and stools. The video ended with a short clip documenting the authorities’ raid on the church.

A house church leader in Pingxiang city, Liu Zongjie, told Radio Free Asia in January that he foresaw that the increased religious regulations that came into force in February would lead to a greater crackdown on house churches. His prediction rang true.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The disturbance of church services has become more widespread across China. From Henan, Sichuan, Guangdong, Jiangsu, to Jiangxi province, the repression of Christians, especially those who refuse to join state-sanctioned churches, has intensified. With Christmas coming, it is expected that more churches will be impacted by the ongoing crackdown. The international community must continue to raise concerns with China on its disregard for religious liberty and violations of human rights.”

Xi Jinping Authoritarian Chinese Leader for years to come (DV)

Christian Magistrate fights for his job back

Christian Concern

Historic case of ex-magistrate challenging top judges moves forward

Richard Page was removed as a magistrate for expressing the view that it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father

In a hearing last week, ex-magistrate Richard Page was granted permission to take his case against the most senior judges in England and Wales to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Richard, 72, was removed as a magistrate by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice in 2016 for expressing his view that it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father.

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Mr Page, who was represented in court by the highly-experienced religious freedoms barrister, Paul Diamond. In court, he argued that the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice victimised him for his deeply-held Christian and philosophical view that children do best when raised by a mum and dad in a committed, stable relationship.

Exemplary record

Richard Page served as a magistrate for 20 years with an exemplary record until, in July 2014, he dissented in a judgment relating to an adoption by a same-sex couple. He expressed the view that it was in a child’s best interests to have both a mother and a father. He was subsequently reported for his actions, reprimanded, and forced to attend ‘re-education training’, which he duly did.

Then in March 2015, Mr Page spoke on a BBC television programme where he further explained his opinion, saying “My responsibility as a magistrate as I saw it was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and a woman who were adoptive parents.”

This common-sense statement led to an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s disciplinary panel. They recommended to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor that Richard should be removed from office for serious misconduct, saying that “any reasonable person” would “conclude that [Richard] would be biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters”. Richard was removed from the Magistracy on 29 February 2016 for bringing the judiciary into disrepute.

On the 16 February 2018, the Employment Tribunal upheld this decision.

Within the bounds of judicial functions

Representing Richard in court last week, barrister Paul Diamond argued that although judges are expected to show restraint while commenting in public, Richard’s remarks were well within the bounds of his judicial functions – and that he had therefore been victimised.

In legal argument before the judge, Mr Diamond compared Richard Page’s comments to those of Judge Pickles, who described the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane, as a “dinosaur living in the wrong age” and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, as a “brooding Quixotic dictator” born with a golden spoon in his mouth and as “an arrogant, pompous, toffee-nosed Old Etonian”.

He also noted other members of the judiciary who publicly stated their political views, such as Lord Phillips who, in 2009, provoked concern when he voiced ‘sympathy’ for assisted suicide, shortly after having decided the Purdy v DPP case on the very same point.

Similarly, in a speech in May 2018, Lord Justice Munby, the President of the Family Division, said that he welcomed and applauded single parent, unmarried, three parent, and polygamous households; and the demise of the typical nuclear family was, by implication, not a matter of concern.

Judges are permitted to hold even ‘intolerant’ views

Her Honour Judge Katherine Tucker allowed Richard’s appeal to proceed, saying that judges have a fundamental role in democratic society. She said that judges are permitted to hold even ‘intolerant’ views that should be respected – but that there may be limits as to how they can be expressed so as not to impugn the impartiality of the courts.

Responding to the decision, Richard commented:

“I am amazed that it has taken so long to get this far. It is vital that we maintain the true independence and impartiality of the judiciary and that ordinary people like me are not excluded from it.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Mr Page, said:

“This is an important moment, shining a light on how justice is done in our country. Even the top judges in the land should not be beyond proper scrutiny and we are glad to see Richard’s claim go forward.

“It was always disproportionate to remove a kind-hearted and long-serving public servant like Richard from his position simply because of the way that he expressed his beliefs.

“At the Christian Legal Centre, we see many people removed from public life for expressing views. We will continue standing by Richard, and others like him, as long as it takes for the legal system, and society in general, to recognise the positive impact of Christians in our nation’s life.”

Please pray for Richard and his case

The next stage of Richard’s case should be heard in 2019.

The Christian Legal Centre is also helping him with a separate claim against an NHS trust that blocked his return as a non-executive director because of the same pro-family statements. This case is expected to be heard in January 2019.

Please pray: •That in both cases, the judge will give a fair hearing to Richard and his legal arguments
•That the judgments would protect the freedom of Christians to hold and express common-sense Christian views
•For Paul Diamond and the Christian Legal Centre as they support Richard’s cases.

Pastors in Nigeria Say Military Complicit in Attacks on Christians

An impartial police force and army that protected all its citizens would go a long way to stopping these atrocities.

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Christian leaders meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria this month delivered a sharp rebuke, saying the military is complicit in attacks on Christians.

With the governor of Plateau state in attendance, the Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), delivered a report to Buhari at the presidential villa on Nov. 6 stating that 646 Christians in Plateau state alone were killed from March through October.

“The narrative has been that these people are killed by unknown gunmen, or suspected herdsmen, or that there have been farmer-herders clashes,” Datiri said in the report, obtained by Morning Star News. “All these are deceptive narratives deliberately framed to conceal the truth and continue to perpetrate the evil.”

The truth, he said, is that Muslim Fulani militias heavily armed with sophisticated guns, including AK47s, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades have…

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Blasphemy death sentences

And so it goes on! Several men are on death row in Pakistan including Imran Ghafur (2009), Zafar Bhatti and Farhan Aziz (appeal postponed). May God bring justice and guard and keep these folk enabling them to leave the country if necessary.

Farhan

 Imran

Zafar

Pray for Imran Khan, prime Minister of Pakistan, ignorant concerning Christ but apparently committed to equality of religion in his country as was Jinnah the founder in 1948.

Imran Khan

VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

(Voice of the Persecuted) The November 27, 2018 appeal hearing of Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian accused and sentenced to death for blasphemy, was postponed. Nasir Saeed, a spokesperson from CLAAS, Sawans’s defense counsel, told Voice of the Persecuted that they have yet to receive a rescheduled hearing date. It’s possible that the court avoided conducting the hearing deliberately because of the present situation in the country after Asia Bibi’s acquittal, he added. 

Sawan is at the center of a case that caused a mob of 3000 Muslim men to attack the Joseph Colony of Lahore, Pakistan in March of 2013. (View report and photos) After a local mosque announced the blasphemy charge over loudspeakers, the vigilantes stormed the Christian community where Masih lived. They burned or ransacked 180 Christian homes, 75 shops and at least two churches during the attack. Mob members threatened to burn…

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More Muslim anti-gospel Interventions.

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Pastor and Five Evangelists Arrested for Preaching in Uganda

Local Muslim Community Complains to Police, Leading to Arrest

11/29/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Saturday, November 24, Pastor Tom Palapande and his team of five evangelists were arrested in eastern Uganda. Local Muslims reported to the Ugandan police that the Christians were using the Quran to undermine the prophet Muhammad and people of the Islamic faith.

“The Muslims came in the company of their Sheikhs and disrupted our open-air market preaching as the police watched. We were then arrested and taken to Soronko district police headquarters for questioning. We were charged with causing public disturbance and inciting violence, offenses [to which] we responded not guilty. The police locked us up from Saturday to Monday so as to investigate the matter,” Pastor Tom told ICC following his release.

He added, “We were not causing any violence. We are evangelists known across eastern Uganda for…answering questions on Islam and Christianity. When the Sheikhs fail to answer questions, they usually turn their disappointment to us because we know how to handle the Quran and the Bible. We also hold public debates with them and they hate us because, through our ministry, many Muslims have converted to Christianity.”

On Sunday, members of Pastor Tom’s church were praying for him and the other evangelists. “We missed church service for the first time this year. The church was praying for us, and on Monday we were released, but with conditions: not to hold and discuss the Quran,” Pastor Tom continued.

The arrest and resulting detention have not discouraged Pastor Tom from preaching the Gospel.  Pastor Tom stated, “We keep doing this because it is a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas risked their lives for the name of Jesus; so do we. The danger will not keep us quiet because how shall they hear unless someone preaches to them?”

This past June, Pastor Tom was attacked in a stoning while preaching in Kuwait, where the population is approximately 95% Muslim. As a result, he sustained an injury to his forehead. “The injury almost blinded me, but [I was saved] thanks to my small local church that contributed some little money for me to seek treatment,” the pastor remarked.

Pastor Tom concluded, “The biggest challenge is having evangelical churches and pastors partnering with us. Many pastors watch from a distance due to the threat of being killed or their churches burnt.”

Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These kind of attacks on Christians in East Africa are becoming increasingly common. The Ugandan government must ensure that these men have the right to spread their message to anyone. The government must ensure that the rights of Christians are protected equally.” 

About ICC
International Christian Concern is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on human rights, religious freedom and assisting the persecuted Christian Church around the world.

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