Jos is seen almost as a miniature Nigeria, comprising almost all ethnic groups, but actually dominated by three predominantly Christian tribes, with the headquarters of many Nigerian Churches in Jos. (World Watch Monitor)
(World Watch Monitor) A sense of normality has returned to the city of Jos, in Nigeria’s central Plateau State, after an eruption of inter-religious violence claimed at least three lives on 14 September.
One of them was Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, who was a member of COCIN Church.
Several others were injured in attacks by a mob. One of them died from his wounds in the hospital, but his name is yet to be confirmed.
Professor Timothy O. Oyetunde, Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies, was another of those attacked, at about 6.30pm.
According to his statement, the Christian professor was about to leave the university, when suddenly…
What happened to the nation that was commanded to care for the stranger in their midst? Exodus 22:21.
Interior Minister Ayre Dery has said that he will make sure that African asylum seekers who refuse to leave for Uganda or Rwanda are unable to work in Israel.
“If successful, the new policy will enforce a full work ban on any Eritrean asylum seeker who receives a deportation notice but refuses to leave. This law will essentially legalize starvation and homelessness as a punishment for our simply being in Israel.” – reported a Barnabas Fund project partner.
This announcement came just a few days after the Israeli Supreme Court amended a law which would automatically sentence any Eritrean who refuses to leave to indefinite imprisonment in Saharonim prison. Now the Eritreans can only be sentenced to a maximum of two months in prison. The project partner told Barnabas, “Arbitrary imprisonment is so common for the Eritrean people that another two months is not enough to break our spirits.”
About 40,000 African refugees currently live in Israel, mainly Eritreans with a smaller number of Sudanese. Israeli government policy towards them was already harsh, and the planned new work ban for those who refuse to leave will make their lives all but unendurable.
(Agenzia Fides) – “The case of Sharon Masih is tragic and a shame for the country. It is necessary to act urgently. That is why I have asked all members of the National Assembly to reconsider the issue of the school curricula reform in Pakistan as a priority and I have asked to introduce the theme ‘inter-religious harmony’ as a subject in all public schools of every order and degree of study”: says to Agenzia Fides Christian parliamentarian Khalil George, who on 12 September spoke to the Pakistani Parliament concerning the case of the lynching of Christian student Sharon Masih, who was killed in school on August 30 by his Muslim peers (see Fides 2/9/2017 and 13/9/2017). As Fides learns, the serious question was listened and discussed by legislators. The episode, notes the Christian parliamentarian, “is an opportunity to reiterate the curriculum reform in schools”.
Analysis: Christians in Myanmar are also persecuted – and now face jihadi threat as well: Barnabas Fund issues warning – humanitarian catastrophe a real possibility
As world news focuses on the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, several people have asked us whether Christians are also persecuted in Myanmar. The answer is yes – they suffering appalling persecution and violence at the hands of the military, but unlike the Rohingya they are largely ignored by the world’s press. However, a new threat is now emerging as jihadists head to the region to “support” Rohingya Muslims.
Several months ago, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians in Myanmar. Entitled Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma, It makes shocking reading. There is large-scale violence and intimidation of Christians by the army. To quote just one short section of that report:
“The military routinely occupies churches and summons entire congregations for interrogation. Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) troops have desecrated, damaged, and destroyed churches. The military continues to perpetrate grave human rights violations with near-total impunity, including sexual violence in church compounds and the torture of pastors, church workers, and ordinary civilians. To date, approximately 120,000 people have been forced to flee.”
The military use Buddhism as a means of legitimising their oppressive rule, claiming to be defending Buddhism and the Barmar (Burmese) majority against Muslims and Christians, who are predominantly from ethnic minority groups. As well as direct attacks by the Burmese military, they have empowered a group called The Committee for the Protection of Race and Religion (better known as Ma Ba Tha), and other ultra-nationalistic monks, to incite violence and attacks on Christian pastors.
The predominantly Christian people-groups are the Karen people who mainly live in the east near the border with Thailand, the Kachin and Naga who mainly live in the north, and the Chin, who mainly live in the south-west, particularly Chin State.
However, now a new threat to Christians is emerging as a direct result of the Rohingya crisis. Last October, Islamic militants from a newly formed insurgency group called Harakah al Yaqin launched a series of attacks on police posts in Rakhine state. Harakah al Yaqin was created by a group of Rohingya emigres based in Saudi Arabia and therefore represents a dangerous new development. The army responded in its characteristic heavy-handed fashion causing tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Then on 25 August, Harakah al Yaqin coordinated attacks on an army base and 30 police posts in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state. In response the Myanmar army launched what they termed “clearance operations” against Rohingya, a euphemism for the terrible atrocities now being perpetrated against Rohingya civilians.
Now Al Qaeda is urging jihadists to flock to the region to fight for the Rohingya Muslims. This is not an idle suggestion. It is, in fact, almost exactly what happened a few months ago in the southern Philippines when Islamic State (IS)-linked jihadists from across South-East Asia quietly infiltrated Marawi city and then seized control of it, killing a number of Christians; despite an ongoing battle with the Philippines military, the jihadists remain in control of Marawi. In January, Malaysian authorities claimed to have arrested an IS-linked jihadist heading for Myanmar to fight in the Rohingya area. As IS loses military control in Syria and Iraq, Al Qaeda sees itself as having an opportunity to regain its claim to lead the global jihadi movement. That is why a few days ago Al Qaeda issued a statement telling jihadists in neighbouring Bangladesh and India, as well as Pakistan and the Philippines, that they have a “sharia obligation” to go to Myanmar and fight for the Rohingya.
How does this affect Christians in Myanmar, who are already suffering appalling persecution and violence from the state? The attacks which the Islamic militants from Harakah al Yaqin carried out three weeks ago were in the North of Rakine state. This is right next to Chin state, which is the only state in Myanmar that is majority Christian. In fact, one of those attacks, at the town of Maungdaw, was only about 30 miles away. If, as now seems likely, foreign jihadists arrive and turn a local Muslim insurgency into an Al Qaeda-linked jihadi struggle, as IS have just done in the Philippines, there is a very real danger that jihadists will attack Chin state.
If they do, that will put the Christians there in an impossible situation, suffering terrible violence at the hands of the Myanmar army AND being attacked by jihadists. In other words, there is the very real prospect of Christians in this part of Myanmar facing a humanitarian catastrophe that is even worse than the horrific levels of violence currently being suffered by Rohingya Muslims.
“Vu” placed her faith in Christ earlier this year while working in the Laotian capital of Vientiane. Several months later, she shared her faith with her parents and brother in hope that they, too, would become Christians. Instead, they cursed her. They insisted that she abandon her Christian faith immediately or they would disown her as their daughter. Vu told them that she respected them but would not leave Jesus. Her parents later sent her brother and sister to persuade her to leave Christianity, but instead her sister became a Christian. “The younger sister is a new person now,” a VOM contact said.
Please pray for these two young women as they minister to their family and encounter further hardships because of their faith.
Many young people are rejected by their families when they give their lives to Christ.
A Pakistani Christian man lost his taxi business recently after two Muslim colleagues destroyed his car. “Esmail” was never shy about sharing his Christian faith, and when he began driving a taxi several years ago he continued sharing it with other taxi drivers, even giving a Bible to one especially interested colleague. But two other drivers disapproved of Esmail’s boldness, accusing him of trying to persuade Muslims to give up their faith. A village leader warned Esmail to stop sharing his faith with Muslims, but the two angry drivers decided a more severe punishment was in order. They smashed into Esmail’s car with a truck, destroying his taxi and sole means of financial support. Esmail was badly injured in the incident and had to borrow money to pay for medical treatment.
Pray for Esmail and his wife, who now have no way of supporting themselves.
Pray for Esmail’s healing, and thank God for their strong faith.
Police in India arrested nine adults traveling with a group of 60 children to a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program this summer. The children and their chaperones sang Christian songs and read the Bible as they traveled by train, attracting the attention of a group of Hindu extremists. As soon as the train reached its destination, the militants called the police. When the police arrived, they arrested the adults and called the children’s parents to come pick them up. The adults were charged with kidnapping and converting people to another religion by force. After more than 40 days in jail, three of the adults were released on bail. The other six, however, are still being held. Pray that the jailed Christians will be released and that this experience will strengthen the faith of the children involved.
These three adults were freed, but six others remain in prison.