Saturday, April 30, 2011

U.S. Panel ID’s World’s Top Religious Persecutors

I hope and pray that  the population of Christians will not disappear, we need someone to preach the gospel to the non-christians there:

04/30/2011 Vietnam (CBN) – As global persecution of Christians rises, a U.S. government commission is urging the Obama administration to act against countries that persecute religious minorities. “In many countries, certainly religious persecution has become worse over the past several years,” said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The U.S. commission keeps an eye on religious freedom around the world. Their new annual report highlights countries like Vietnam, where Christians and other believers face imprisonment and torture. “They took me to the station and they tortured me. They used something to tie my thumb and one of my toes and they hung me on the wall for three hours,” Kahn said.

Peter, another persecuted Christian, said, “The government says there is freedom of religion. But there is a lot of persecution among Christians and other tribes.” The cover of the commission’s new report is a photograph from the funeral of Shahbaz Bhatti. He was the Pakistani official who predicted he would be killed for fighting against Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which promises death to those who insult the Prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam.

“I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of cross and I’m following the cross. And I’m ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights,” Bhatti said before his death. The commissioners are asking the federal government to blacklist Egypt for failing to prevent or respond to what they call “a sharp deterioration” of religious freedom.

“We’ve seen a ratcheting up of attacks on the Christian minority, in particular the very large Christian Coptic minority,” said Elizabeth Prodromou, the commission’s vice chairperson. The report predicts that entire nations may soon see Christianity disappear within their respective borders because of persecution. (Source)

Easter threats against Christians reveal a grim trend in Indonesia

04/30/2011 Indonesia (MNN) – There has been a marked increase in the level of violence against Christians throughout Indonesia.It’s a trend revealed in the bold bombing attempt at Christ Cathedral Church. Bombs were found beneath a gas pipeline and in bags near the church entrance. Police reports indicate the suspects planned to detonate the explosives with a mobile phone on Good Friday, when the church would be at its fullest. 

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says animosity toward Christians has been at a high level over the last several years, but this is a new direction for the Muslim extremists. “These radical Islamic groups seem to be targeting churches and targeting Christians. It seems to be a little bit of a shift to targeting native Indonesians who are Christians as opposed to targeting foreigners.”

19 were arrested in connection with the foiled plot. It’s the mindset that’s more troubling, says Nettleton. “It does indicate that there is some organization and that there is some effort being made to create disharmony, to create the appearance that there’s animosity towards the church.” Other recent attacks in February appeared to come from disgruntled Muslim neighbors over believers meeting in homes. There, too, is an effort to stir up trouble. VOM team members say that militants were trucked into one area from as far away as 80 miles, just to protest a church. The real culprits behind the disruption are hard to find, because their message can be presented without any local relevance. “They’re able to recruit troublemakers to come in from out of the area when they need an angry mob to march and shout slogans. They’re able to recruit people to join that mob.”

Nettleton says they’ve also noted a corresponding development that could be real trouble in the near future. “One of the things we’ve seen over the last five years is a shift to of what I would call ‘government persecution.’” While there is no official state religion, Islam seems to be gaining strength politically, often at the expense of religious minorities such as Christians. Christians say they are being marginalized in society and increasingly persecuted.

Many house churches have been closed. Government officials have been more recently citing legal code and infractions as they close churches. It’s unsettling because there’s no recourse. “It’s one thing when there are criminals and lawbreakers who make trouble. It’s another thing when it IS the law that’s making trouble. That’s what we’ve seen sort of a shift to. Again, it’s not everywhere in Indonesia, but it has become more and more common in the stories that we’re reporting persecution there.” (Source)

Survey Of Christians In India Sets Off Alarm Bells

04/29/2011 India (CDN)-An attempt by police in India’s Madhya Pradesh to survey the state’s Christian minority came to light this month and left church leaders calling for a federal investigation into alleged religious profiling.Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, called for a National Commission for Minorities probe into the survey, which sought data on where Catholics and Protestants live, their economic status, and details of Christian-operated schools, including sources of income and whether they get foreign funding.

“Such surveys are uncalled for in view of the Union government’s own census and the National Sample Surveys, which give all the data that development agencies may ever want,” Dayal told Compass. “Surveys of this nature, especially by the police, amount to religious profiling, which is illegal.” To be carried out at the district and block level, the surveys reportedly also sought information on the number of Christians and church buildings, including those under construction, along with details of the clergy heading them; a list of Christians involved in criminal activities, with details about whether they enjoy any political patronage and how much; details of annual functions held at district and block levels, including venues, organizers and funds; and areas that are socially “sensitive” because of their Christian populations.

Police later withdrew the controversial survey after Christian leaders approached state Director General of Police S.K. Rout, who denied any knowledge of it.“The survey was a mere goof-up by lower-rung officials,” Rout reportedly said. In a statement to the BBC he added, “Though police collect such information periodically to ensure protection to minority communities in the state, the way this survey was ordered was incorrect.”

Christian leaders remained largely upset and demanded a central government investigation. “We do not believe the police pretext that they want to know the locations to protect the Christians,” Dayal told Compass. “All these questions about funding of churches and missions are absolutely illegal, as Christians get their money through banks under the strict FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976] regulations, and the Union Home Ministry has details of every cent received and how it is spent. The blame for all this rests squarely with the chief minister of the state and his home minister, who are acting at the behest of the RSS [the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] to which they both belong.”

The survey came to light on April 14 after media in India learned of an order letter issued by state police headquarters to all police station heads. The order, issued on March 23, asked the officers-in-charge to submit a report within 10 days, although presumably the survey was not completed by then.

“The Christian community in Madhya Pradesh is enraged over the state government attempt to treat all Christians living in the state akin to criminals,” the Rev. Anand Muttungal, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, said in a press statement. “The police officials initially approached the community leaders without any copy of the order and tried to gather such details verbally. However, when one of the priests objected to it, he was threatened to be taken to the police station.”
Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Christian leaders said they feared that the survey may be a prelude to a systematic, organized pogrom against Christians in the state, with the archbishop of Madhya Pradesh, Leo Cornelio, telling reporters, “It is a conspiracy against Christians in Madhya Pradesh.” He mentioned Gujarat state, where similar profiling was done and Christians faced violent attacks in some districts in 1999 and 2000. Dayal also noted that such profiling almost always leads to targeting of Christians in hate campaigns and eventually leads to large-scale violence, as happened in Gujarat.

Muttungal expressed his concern that the state police force could be employed for the task without the knowledge of senior officials such as the director general of police, the additional director general of police, and the Intelligence Bureau.“Who wants this information and for what purpose?” he said in his press statement. “According to legal experts, any information sought should have to be in writing. Answers too should be in writing. This sort of profiling is done on people who are with criminal records for the police department to keep a track on them. If one goes with this argument, then is the government treating the Christian community as criminals and anti-social elements with a perceived threat to the nation’s security?”

Archbishop of Bhopal Leo Cornelio told The Hindu that the survey indicated a “sinister plan behind all this,” and that if the chief minister and others said they were not aware, “it is all the more shocking.”
“If it is someone inside the government, the government should apologize, and if not, it should find out and punish the culprit,” Cornelio said. “This is clear targeting and profiling of the minority community and a violation of the constitution and principles of a free and fair democracy.”

State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has said he is seeking a report on the matter.
In a letter to Dr. H.T. Sangliana, vice chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Dayal wrote that the damage has already been done even if police have now withdrawn the order.

“Such orders are not born in a vacuum,” he wrote. “May we request you and the NCM to please order the Madhya Pradesh government to tell us all where did the idea originate and what were the reasons behind it; is it now a policy of the state to pay special attention to this particular minority, and if so, why?”

With Mubarak gone, Egypt’s Islamists see political opportunities

When Saddam Hussein wasin control of Iraq, our Iraqi brothers and sissters in Christ were in peace. That all change in 2003 when the United States  tried to establish democracy in a muslim majority country. That's when the real persecution I have a feeling that  our Brethren in Egypt are about to see the same thing happen to them with Mubarak  gone.

4/29/2011 Egypt (The National) – Egypt’s Islamists had been suppressed for decades, seen as the most serious threat to the regimes of Hosni Mubarak and his predecessors Anwar Sadat and Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Now that Mr Mubarak is gone, the Islamists are enjoying freedoms they could only dream of three months ago.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and best organised of the Islamic groups, is setting up a political party, launching its own newspaper and satellite television channel. The ultraconservative Salafis are looking into creating a party and are waging a hearts-and-minds campaign across much of Egypt to show that there is more to them than long beards and a rigid interpretation of Islam’s teachings.

The Gamaa Islamiya, which fought the Mubarak regime in a protracted insurgency in the 1990s and plotted Sadat’s 1981 assassination, is structuring its support base along the lines of modern political organisations, holding elections for members of provincial leaderships and a national council. Several leaders of the Brotherhood spoke recently of installing an Islamic state in Egypt and of the implementation of Sharia punishments such as the amputation of hands for repeated theft and flogging for drinking alcohol. Others in the group’s leadership hurriedly sought to distance the group from the comments, saying they did not reflect the organisation’s thinking.

One thing is certain, though. If Islamic groups decide to run on a unified ticket in legislative elections scheduled for September, they could win a slight majority of the seats. The Brotherhood, which has fielded candidates as independents in the past, won 20 per cent of the legislature’s seats in elections in 2005, their best showing ever and evidence of their strength. In elections held last November and December, they failed to win a single seat due to widespread fraud orchestrated by Mr Mubarak’s ruling party.

The Brotherhood has sought to allay fears of an Islamic takeover by repeatedly saying it would only contest about 30 per cent of seats in the September elections. It also says it will not field a candidate in presidential elections due late this year. But these assurances have done little to calm the nerves of the country’s majority of moderate Muslims, secularists and minority Christians who fear that the success of the 18-day uprising against Mr Mubarak has empowered some of the most radical Islamists.

The Salafis are thought to be the most worrisome. For years, the Mubarak regime tolerated, and in some cases encouraged, the Salafis to counter the weight of the Brotherhood. That tacit support allowed the Salafis, who seek to emulate the lifestyle of early Muslims, to grow. In exchange for that support, the Salafis stayed away from political activism, rejecting democracy because it replaces rule by God’s law with the law of man.

But the overthrow of Mubarak’s regime appears to have given the Salafis impetus to push their beliefs. Authorities blamed the Salafis for the destruction of at least five religious shrines in the Nile delta region north of Cairo last month. The actions mirror their belief that venerating shrines is idolatry. They also threatened to do the same to major shrines in Cairo belonging to members of the Prophet Mohammed’s immediate family, something that prompted the country’s top Muslim cleric, the grand imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, to warn of a bloodbath.

Elsewhere in Egypt, the Salafis have been targeting liquor stores, Christians and suspected brothels, taking advantage of a persistent security vacuum and trying to act as the enforcers of Islamic law.

Iran: Christian prisoner beaten by security forces

4/28/2011 Iran (Mohabat News) – Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian prisoner who was still in prison after three months was transferred to the revolutionary court to defend himself, but after being beaten by a security officer, he was moved back to Rajai shahr Prison.

According to the Iranian Christians News Agency “Mohabat News”, on April 18 , 2011 , Ebrahim Firouzi was Transferred to a Police station in the city of Robat Karim (20 kilometers southwest of Tehran) and then after presenting his last defence in the revolutionary court , he Was transferred back to the prison.

According to the reports we’ve received so far, This 26 year old young man was held one night in Davoodi Police station of Robat Karim where he was beaten by one of the officers with the name of “Seyed Habib Mousavi far” and also during that period, security forces refused to give him any food or water.

Ebrahim firouzi is one of the new believers in the city of Robat Karim. He was first arrested by several intelligence officers on Jenuary 11, 2011 when he was in hist father’s house and then after some interrogations, he was transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison in the city of Karaj. According to our previous reports that we have published, his first trial at a revolutionary court was held on jenuary 29, 2011 , where he was charged with Evangelism, having Christian books, association with foreign forces and apostasy.

One of Ebrahim’s close friends who was fully aware of what happened in revolutionary court told us that he was unable to get a lawyer and also pay $40’000 bail money due to his financial difficulties of his family and he is still in prison.(Source)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Iranian Christians to Stand Trial for “Activities against the Order

4/28/2011 Iran (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learnt that eleven members of the Church of Iran are to stand trial in the Revolutionary Tribunal of Bandar-Anzali for “activities against the Order”, and for drinking alcohol. The charges relate to their involvement in a house church, and to taking communion wine.

The Christians on trial include Pastor Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and his wife Anahita Khademi, Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef and Behzad Taalipas, and Amir Goldoust, his sister Mina Goldoust, and his grandmother Zainab Bahremend.
There has been an increase in official rhetoric against evangelical Christians, which has been accompanied by a wave of arrests. On 4 January, Morteza Tamadon, the governor of Tehran, called the evangelical movement “a false, deviant and corrupt sect…placing themselves within the religion of Islam like a parasite and under the cover of Christianity”. So far the arrests of 254 Christians in 33 cities from June 2010 and February 2011 have been confirmed. However, the actual number of arrests is thought to be far higher.

The blasphemy trial of six other members of the Church of Iran was adjourned on 5 April to allow prosecutors more time to gather evidence, and postponed again on 13 April in order to allow prosecutors to seek the assistance of Iran’s traditional churches in determining their guilt. Their legal team is optimistic that all charges relating the blasphemy trial, and to a one-year sentence for Crimes Against the Islamic Order handed down at an earlier trial, will be overturned on appeal.

CSW’s National Director Stuart Windsor said, “The harassment and targeting of religious minorities is incompatible with Iran’s responsibilities under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whereby countries pledge to respect the right of citizens to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. The charges against the eleven Church of Iran members constitute a severe infringement on Christian tradition, as they effectively criminalise the taking of Communion, which is a biblical injunction. CSW urges the international community to encourage Iran to meet its obligations on religious freedom under the Covenant by ensuring that all members of the Church of Iran, including Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who still faces a death sentence for apostasy, receive due process, and are acquitted of all charges that have no legal bearing.” (Source)

Egypt: Copts demand return of missing Christian girls

4/28/2011 Egypt (Al Masry Al Youm) – Dozens of Copts staged a protest on Thursday in front of Egypt’s High Court, demanding the return of a number of Christian girls they describe as “disappeared”. A number of Coptic lawyers have submitted a report to the attorney general requesting that the minister of interior, Mansour al-Essawy, establish the location of eleven Christian girls who they say have disappeared since the 25 January revolution.

Demonstrators, including the families of the missing girls, also demanded that the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, help locate the girls. A statement by a Coptic group called the Maspero Youth Union denounced the “kidnapping” of Christian girls, giving the names of some of the lost females.

According to the statement, they include Heba Iskandar, who disappeared from Maadi along with her children, Heba Adel, who has been lost since 6 April after driving her son to school, and Maryam George Boqtor, who was lost with her children while buying them clothes before Easter celebrations. (Source)

Underground Christians fear China crackdown

04/29/2011 China (CNN) – This calm denim-clad 28-year-old identifies herself only as Water, based on the Chinese characters that make up her first name. She has been deemed an enemy of the state, an unlikely label for a petite and well-educated woman who eschews violence and confrontation.

Here in China, Water is living her life in fear, under the close watch of the Chinese government for practicing Christianity at Beijing’s underground Shouwang Church. She requested her Chinese name not be published for safety reasons. Shouwang Church has come under fire by Chinese authorities three weeks ago, when the government ordered the church to cease all activity until further notice. The Chinese government has stated that Shouwang operates unlawfully. To be recognized, the church must register to be a state-sanctioned operation, which includes censoring of certain religious materials.

The government mandate fell in the midst of a recent crackdown on dissidents, activists and lawyers across China, as the government fears a revolt that mirrors the unrest across the Arab world. On Easter Sunday, police officers stood outside Water’s home and that of hundreds of other Shouwang members, forbidding them from attending an outdoor service church members had spent months preparing.

The senior pastor, Jin Tianming, remains under house arrest. Those who did make it to the site in northwest Beijing were rounded up in unmarked public buses and detained inside police stations. Shouwang is one of China’s largest Protestant Christian groups not sanctioned by the Chinese government. From 2005 to 2007, Shouwang actively applied for registration with the government but was unsuccessful.

“In church, we would call this a spiritual war,” Water quietly said in a CNN interview. “Every day, this spiritual war is not what I prepared for but now I find I am in it.” Water says she merely wants a margin of religious freedom, but her pursuit has been rocky. Over the past three weeks, Water is followed by the police at home and near the church site. She was detained two weeks ago at the police station overnight. Her mother, who is also a Christian, and her father, who is not, have been harassed, she said.

“My father, who is not a believer, even came to visit me at the police station where I was held,” Water recalled. “Every day I face a new situation with new difficulties. I try to ignore them but their approach every  day is different,” she explained. “They make my daily life pretty challenging.” Water, who started practicing Christianity because she felt the Communist Party “left [her] empty,” says that she prays for her country to find “strength” on a daily basis. At the same time, she is realistic about the risks she has taken.

“Personally I don’t know how long I can last because the pressure is pretty intense, because they try to harass your family, your workplace and your landlord. They want to evict you,” she told CNN. “They want to control you.” Water has been accepted to a graduate school program in North America that will commence this fall but unlike most Chinese, she worries less about obtaining the necessary foreign visa than her ability to merely exit the country.

“I’ve seen what is happening around me and to be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll end up,” she told CNN, referring to a recent series of detainments by customs police at the Beijing airport, most notably Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei on April 3. (Source)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Suspected Islamist Gunmen Attack a Christian Clergyman and His Family, Critically Injured His Son

Jesus said that his followers would be persecuted because of Him:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
John 15:18-20

He even said that some people will kill his followers out of religious motivation:
 In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.
John 16:2

Islam seems like the fulfillment of Our Savior's words. In the Quran (the Holy Book of Islam) Muslims are commanded to do these things:
Qur’an 9:29—Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Qur’an 9:73—O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.

Qur’an 9:111—Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain.

Qur’an 9:123—O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

Qur’an 47:35—Be not weary and fainthearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds.

Qur’an 48:29—Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves

Fortunately, most Muslims live better lives than their religion calls them to live, but there is always a minority which takes these violent commands seriously.

04/27/2011 Pakistan (ANS) — A Pakistani clergyman, and his family, were attacked today (Wednesday April 27, 2011), by two militants allegedly belonging to the group called of Tehreek-e-Ghazi Bin Shaheed (TGBS), near Hamza Town, Lahore, leaving the 24-year-old son, critically injured.

This news was relayed to the ASSIST News Service by Joseph Francis, head of the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) who said that the Rev. Ashraf Paul, and his family, were traveling in their vechicle on Ferozepur Road when two motorbike riders intercepted them and then open fire on their car hitting it at least five times and seriously injuring the son.

Mr. Francis and his team of lawyers, who are now investigating the violence, went on to say that the gunmen fled after the attack and so far their identities have not been established.Sarfraz Paul (24), the pastor’s son, sustained critical bullet injuries and was immediately taken to the nearest general hospital, from where doctors referred him to the Mayo Hospital, located in the heart of Lahore City, for emergency surgery.

At the Mayo Hospital, doctors recovered three bullets from the jaw, waist and pubic area of the young man.
After the operation at Mayo Hospital, Sarfraz Paul was described as “out of danger” but was still under the vigilant observation of the doctors.

The Rev. Ashraf Paul said that the armed attackers appeared to be between 19 and 21 years of age, and one was overweight and wearing a pant shirt, while other was of slim stature and wore a Shalwar Qameez (Pakistani local dress).

Prior to this incident, the Rev. Paul had received a letter on March 30, 2011, telling him to stop his evangelical activities. It was claimed to be from Tehreek-e-Gazi Bin Shaheed (TGBS), an Islamic organization in Pakistan, and signed by its leader.

Rev. Paul contacted CLAAS and informed them that he, along with his family, were constantly receiving these death threats which told him to stop church and Christian publishing work.
They also demanding pastor to pay the equivalent of US $119,79USD, as a “poll-tax” otherwise they said they would kill him and his family.The Rev. Paul, 55, said he turned down their demands and this why they may have attacked him and his family.

He has been the pastor of Hope Fellowship Evangelical Ministry in Hamza Town, near Youhanabad, Lahore and was converted to Christianity in 1970. He went to seminary some ten years later where he got three years of pastoral training and then, in 1983, he was deputed as principle of the Good News Center at Dera Ghazi Khan.

In 1998, the pastor was appointed as assistant director at the Eye Hospital at Gillgit and the following year, he moved to Lahore and joined Pakistan Bible Society as a proof reader.Pastor Ashraf is also well-known in Pakistan as a writer and a poet.

At press time, an official complaint against the unidentified shooters has been submitted to the Nishter Colony Police Station with anticipation that a First Information Report (FIR) would soon be installed.

At Easter Mass in Kathmandu, thousands remember victims of Hindu extremism

04/28/2011 Nepal (AsiaNews) – More than 1,500 people, including many non-Catholics, took part in Easter celebration in Kathmandu’s Assumption church, which was heavily protected against possible attacks from Hindu extremists. During the Mass, nine boys were baptised.

In his homily, Mgr Anthony Sharma, archbishop of Kathmandu, mentioned the sacrifice of those who died in the terror attack against Kathmandu’s cathedral in 2009 and the murder of Fr John Prakash, killed by Hindu radicals in 2008.

“Jesus sacrificed himself for all humanity. He was never discouraged by any attack against him. Similarly, a few attacks against Catholics won’t discourage our work for we shall serve God with greater energy,” the bishop said.

The victims of persecution have provided Nepal’s small Church an opportunity to make its presence felt around the world, Mgr Sharma explained. This has forced the government to adopt policies to protect religious minorities.

Since the fall of the Hindu monarchy in 2006 and the establishment of a secular state, Nepali Christians have enjoyed greater freedom of worship and expression.
For years, the number of Christians has been steadily rising. Currently, they are estimated to be around two million.

Egypt’s Christians: A Dying Population?

But if they leave, who's going to preach te gospel to the Muslims there?
4/27/2011 Egypt (Christian Broadcasting Network) – Egyptian Coptics belong to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. The Apostle Mark established a church in the city of Alexandria just 10 years after Christ’s ascension.But today, many Egyptian Christians are considering leaving the country because they fear radical Islamists have hijacked the nation’s democratic revolution.

The recent fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak brought hope and opportunity to people long oppressed by an unpopular dictator and his subordinates.Coptics joined Muslims in the Tahrir Square protests, but so far the freedoms they desired remain elusive and the minority Christian community is under siege.

Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says the actual number of attacks on Copts have increased since Mubarak stepped down.“That has a lot of Copts worried [and asking], ‘Is this a harbinger of the future?’” Marshall explained.

Tragic Violence
So far, 2011 has been a tragic year for Egypt’s Christians. On New Year’s Day a horrific suicide bombing took place at St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria.Security guard Magdy Wahib was at the church entrance when services concluded shortly after midnight.

“I suddenly found myself blown inside the church,” Wahib recalled. “I didn’t lose consciousness, but I felt severe pain in my abdomen, hand, and sides.”Wahib was taken to a hospital where surgeons removed a piece of shrapnel nearly seven inches long from his abdomen along with 30 inches of his intestines.

Wahib was among nearly 100 Christians injured in the attack. Twenty-three others were killed. Christians at St. Mark’s and other churches are determined to fight for a new future in Egypt. They know the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church and will persevere.

Fighting the Majority
Coptics say they are not treated as equals even though they were the majority in Egypt for more than 1,000 years. Today, Christians make up only about 13 percent of the population while 86 percent of Egyptians are Muslim.Christians rarely receive government permission to build new churches. Members of a church in Giza, a city near Cairo, told CBN News they obtained a building permit after a lengthy 10 year battle.

In November 2010, security police laid siege to their partially constructed building. Two Christians were killed and 20 others were blinded in the attack.Taxi driver Naseer Fakhry Bakheet is now unemployed because he lost sight in his left eye after being hit by a rubber bullet.

“The policemen inside the church were insulting us and beating us as if we were criminals,” he said. “They shouted ‘allahu akbar’ and such slogans, as if we Christians are not people. As if we are not human-only like animals without any rights. As if we are not Egyptians.”

Police and militant Muslims aren’t the only ones attacking Coptics. A new wave of assaults are coming from the Egyptian army.A home video provided to CBN News shows a military attack against a monastery near Alexandria in January.

After local police abandoned their station, the monks at St. Bishoy’s built a wall at the monastery entrance to protect themselves from intruders. The army responded by sending 100 soldiers with tanks and light artillery to destroy the wall.Three people were injured, including a monk whose spleen had to be removed because of the attack.

“The army is supposed to protect us, not beat and torture us,” said Father Halmanout, a priest at the monastery. “We are innocent. We pray and try to help the people, that’s all we are doing.” (Source)

Christian Clergyman Receives Threatening Letter From Muslim Militants

04/20/2011 Pakistan (ANS)-A Pakistani Christian pastor has received a five-page threatening letter from an Islamic organization which not only threatened death, but also tried to extort a lot of money from this poor Christians leader.The Rev. Ashraf Paul received the letter on March 30, 2011, telling him to stop his evangelical activites. It was claimed to be from Tehreek-e-Gazi Bin Shaheed (TGBS), an Islamic Organization in Pakistan, and signed by its leader.

Rev. Paul contacted CLAAS and informed that he, along with his family, were constantly receiving these severe death threats which told him to stophis religious activities through his church and the publishing of religious books for Christians.

They also demanding pastor to pay the equivalent of US $119,79USD, as a “poll-tax” otherwise they said they will kill him and his family.His family is now in hiding with one of the family friends.

Pastor Paul, aged 55, has been running Hope Fellowship Evangelical Ministry at Hamza Town, near Youhanabad, Lahore. He was converted to Christianity in 1970 and went to seminary some ten years later where he got three years of pastoral training and then in 1983, he was deputed as principle at Good News Center at Dera Ghazi Khan.

In 1998 he was appointed as assistant director at the Eye Hospital at Gillgit. In 1999 he shifted in Lahore and joined Pakistan Bible Society for proof reading of the Bibles for printing on very small salary.
Pastor Ashraf was a very famous writer as well as a poet and used to write religious poetry and religious books for the encouragement of the young Christians of Pakistan to make them strong in belief and faith, in this way he was earning some money for his family.

Pastor Ashraf and his family have lived a very poor life and were hand to mouth. In 2005 Pastor Ashraf and his wife Mrs. Rubina Ashraf aged 45, approached CLAAS and asked for some financial help, Mr. Joseph Francis, its chairman, gave them a suggestion to start a High School for young Christian girls and boys in Hamza Town to provide free education to poor Christian children and offer them for some help in this regard.

Therefore Mrs. Rubina Ashraf started a school for Christian children in-collaboration with CLAAS and also a small church with the congregation of 18 – 20 families. They were providing free education to poor, needy and street children. With the passage of time and encouragement, Pastor Ashraf started a primary education school for Christian children in Sadiqabad and 4 stitching centers for Christian women to give them skills of stitching and embroidery.
At the moment Pastor Ashraf and his wife is serving to the Christian community in Pakistan as pastor at Kashmore, Sadiq Abad and Lahore, through writing books and through education.

God has blessed them with four educated sons. They have a big congregation in Kashmore and Sadiq Abad but in Lahore they have very small congregation and a small church. They have become better in financial position and have started the construction of another building for High School for Christian Boy’s in Hamza Town Lahore.

After the incident of a Koran burning in Florida, he is one of many Christians in Pakistan and other Islamic countries, who now face a critical situation with all kinds of death threats and where Christian churches and other properties.
CLAAS requested all readers to pray for Christian community in Pakistan especially Christian religious leaders as well as political leaders.(Source)

Turkey: Another obstacle to justice in the Malatya deaths

4/27/2011 Turkey (Mission Network News) – As it relates to the Malatya murder case in Turkey, the refrain “Justice moves very slowly” is becoming all too common. April 18 marked four years since the brutal murders of three Christian missionaries in the bookstore they ran.

Delay after delay slowed the process until the case appeared to have stalled out. Then, on March 23, police arrested 27 people in six days for their connections to Ergenekon and the Malatya slayings. Rody Rodeheaver with IN Network says, “I think there was a lot of hope on the part of the plaintiff’s attorneys that with the recent movement against Ergenekon and the arrest of 20 people, they were hoping that would really lead to a possible merger of the case in Malatya and the case against Ergenekon.”
Subsequent investigation linked the Ergenekon (Deep State) to the slayings in such a way that they began to look like an ordered “hit” from the highest levels of government.

Now, word is that the prosecutor who has overseen the investigation into Ergenekon from the beginning is no longer on the case. Zekeriya Oz has apparently been promoted to deputy chief prosecutor of Istanbul. He joins three other prosecutors digging for the truth who were removed from the investigation. Rodeheaver says, “Since there’ve been all of these changes in the makeup of the people who are taking the lead in some of these investigations, it’s unfortunate and will probably lead to more delays.”

These events are disappointing to the Christians in Turkey. The seeming lack of energy with which this case has been pursued also sends a message to believers that not only are they second-class citizens, but that the government may not protect them from the nationalists. “All of these things tend to create emotional insecurity. When you see these things happen over and over again, it’s just human to be concerned.”(Source)

Church Building in Egypt Reconstructed in Time for Easter

4/27/2011 Egypt (Compass Direct News) – Fewer than 40 days after a mob of Muslim villagers in Egypt left a church’s building in ruins, the congregation celebrated Easter on Sunday (April 24) in a reconstructed building at the same site.The reconstruction of the church building by the Egyptian military gave Christians in Egypt cause to celebrate, but it came during a new outbreak of sectarian violence across the country.

The Rev. Balamoun Youakeem, head parish priest for the Church of the Two Martyrs St. George and St. Mina in the village of Sool, located in Helwan 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Cairo, said the reconstruction was finished in “amazing time.”

“Everything is back to normal,” he said. “They even did nice decoration work, wood work, on the altar cover. It cost them a lot of money; the church looks beautiful at the moment.”
Youakeem said the rebuilding was carried out over the objections of villagers who protested outside a meeting of military leaders and traditional village elders. The villagers stood outside the meeting chanting, “We don’t want the church,” according to Youakeem.

Riots and Burning
The church was attacked on the evening of March 4, after an imam told Muslim villagers to “Kill all the Christians” in response to a rumor of an affair between a Muslim man and a Christian woman, both married to other people. The rioters set fire to the church and demolished a large part of what was left by hand and with sledgehammers.They then set up a sign declaring the site to be the “Rahmah Mosque” and held a prayer service inside the church ruins.

The villagers had rampaged through the area attacking Christian-owned homes, and some sexually assaulted several Christian women, according to area residents. Many Christians fled their homes in fear of further attacks.

Two days later, 2,000 Coptic Christians gathered outside the Radio and Television Building in Cairo to protest the lack of government response to the attack. On March 6, at a protest outside an area of Cairo commonly known as Garbage City, groups of Coptic men and teens blocked traffic and eventually pelted passing cars with rocks. Government troops moved in to stop the protest, and in the ensuing melee with Muslim counter-protestors, 13 Copts were killed and between 50 and 100 people were injured. Around this time, the army committed to reconstructing the church building.

Youakeem said he initially didn’t think the church building would be rebuilt. While mosques are often built without permission and the government pays the salaries of approved imams, it is notoriously difficult to get a permit to do even the most basic of repairs on church buildings.

“When the church was demolished, the hope to rebuild it was so small,” he said. “This is our miracle.”
An example of how hard it can be to repair a church building in Egypt can be found in an incident surrounding the Virgin Mary and Archangel Church in Omraniya, Giza. In November 2010, two Copts were killed and dozens were injured in a protest after local authorities stopped construction at the church site claiming renovations did not match permits the government had granted.

Church officials said repeatedly that they had permits for the construction but never publically addressed the issue of the alleged discrepancy. Also, on Feb. 17 in the village of El-Hathatah near Minya, 231 kilometers (144 miles) south of Cairo, a group of townspeople attacked the congregation of St. George’s Church with bricks and rocks. Townspeople were angry about a roof the congregation was constructing next to the church building with local government permission. Eventually area police had to step in to stop the attacks. (Source)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Persecution not deterring Iranian Christians

Our Savior said that the gates of Hell would not overcome his church (Matt. 16:18) and we are seeing that happening.
Washington, D.C. April 10 (ICC) – Amidst intense and ongoing persecution, arrest and potential execution, an increasing number of Iranians in the country and those who are refugees abroad are turning to Christianity. Since the presidential election of 2009, there has been a surge of Muslims leaving Islam. Thousands have turned to Christ, but not without great cost.

Last October, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, denounced the network of house churches in a speech, calling Christians “enemies of Iran and the people.” This was the first time the new church movement was publicly branded by the ayatollah. Khamenei’s rhetoric encouraged a massive crackdown against Christians at the year’s end.

On December 26, government authorities arrested 25 Christians in Tehran and across the country and announced plans to detain others if they could be located. They were branded “evangelical missionaries” who were proselytizing Muslims, yet none were formally charged. In late December and early January, at least 70 Christians were arrested. Most were released from prison quickly, but church leaders said that 14 were imprisoned for more than a month.

Today, the crackdown continues. On March 17, a house church in the city of Kermanshah was raided and ten Christians were arrested. On April 5, five Iranian Christians who were recently sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for crimes against the Islamic Order in Shiraz will stand trial for blasphemy charges. Their trial follows the execution of an Armenian man and his Jewish wife in mid-March. The reason for their execution is unknown, but many worry it may be a sign that the government is heightening its efforts to stomp out Christianity.

Most disconcerting of all, however, is the plight of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who currently awaits the death sentence for apostasy. A church leader in Rasht, Iran, Nadarkhani was arrested on October 12, 2009 for protesting against the Islamic education practice that requires Christian students – including his own children – to read the Quran in school. An appeal to the Supreme Court was filed in December, and a hearing is due within two months.
Iranian Christians in Exile
Within Iran, some say that there are as many as a million Christians who worship in underground house churches. Outside of Iran there are thousands more. During a recent visit to Cyprus, ICC heard the testimonies of a few of these believers who now live as refugees and are unable to return to their homeland without being arrested. To protect their identities, we have not used their real names.

Ebrahim fled Iran to Turkey and eventually to Cyprus after his outspoken criticism of Islam put him in danger. “I received a court order that they were going to try me for apostasy,” he said. “I had already been put in prison for months and tortured. They broke my bones. Day after day my hate of Islam built. That’s why I escaped from Iran.”

It was in Cyprus that Ebrahim found the God he had always been longing for. “I hated Christianity and I hated Islam. I hated religion. But, I liked how Christians prayed so I started reading about Jesus. Step by step, I became more and more interested. I was comparing Jesus with Muhammad and asking myself if I believed in Him. God eventually broke me as he broke Paul. I was an atheist. It was so difficult for me to believe in God, but he changed me.” Soon after, Ebrahim was baptized in Cyprus’ capital city Nicosia.

Another Christian, Ramin, also came to Cyprus after fleeing Iran for speaking openly for political reform and against the regime. Unlike Ebrahim, Ramin was a devout Muslim while in Iran. However, he too found faith in Christ while in Cyprus and believes that many more Iranians would also become Christians if they were free to hear the Gospel. “I think that ninety percent of Iranians would be open to the Gospel,” he said. “People are tired of Islamic dictatorship, tired of lies and corruption. I was tired of Islam, tired of the pressure, tired of religion, tired of actions without fruit. Iranians need hope and assurance. There is no hope in Iran.”

Fearing it too dangerous to return to their country, many Iranian Christian refugees in Cyprus have sought asylum, but most wait years before receiving an answer from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Iranian Christian refugees in Cyprus are not authorized to leave the country, cannot be legally employed, and are in constant danger of being deported back to Iran. Ebrahim and Ramin are among thousands of Iranians who struggle each day to survive, trusting that God will provide a way. Please remember these and all Iranian believers in prayer(Source).

Bishop Kontum being held by Police for baptizing people.

4/27/2011 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – He was able to celebrate Easter Mass, but was detained and brought to the police station, on charges of of having baptized people. It is yet another violation of religious freedom by the authorities of Lang Son, K’Bang County  (central Vietnam), in the area of the Montagnards and it happened to Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, who was previously prevented from celebrating mass for Christmas in the same village.

In view of Easter, the bishop had sent numerous petitions to the authorities at all levels, asking for permission to celebrate Mass in a village where it has never been possible to celebrate the Eucharist. Permission was granted.

But when Msgr. Duc Oanh arrived, along with a priest, he found a hostile atmosphere because police and women of the Communist League women outnumbered the faithful, controlling and mocking the Catholics and the bishop. A long queue of Catholics requested permission to confess. The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation took place to the sound of laughter and jokes at the gestures of the faithful.

And after the Mass, the bishop and the priest were brought to the police station and subjected to interrogation for hours. The officials accused the bishop of violating the permit that “only allowed the celebration of Easter Mass, as he had also” baptised persons “,” deliberately exceeding what was allowed”.

The bishop protested, denying that he had “baptized people,” he explained that he had only helped the faithful to reconcile themselves with God. “Before eating – he said – you wash your hands. Likewise, before attending the Mass, we wash ourselves, reconciling ourselves with God(Source).”

600 people turn to Christ Jesus in an Neyshabour, Iran!!!!!!

4/23/2011 Iran (Mohabat News) – In the last few months a deliberate and focused campaign of threats and opposition against every and any religious belief that is contrary to those of the Shiites, especially against the Christian faith, has been underway and promoted by the Shiite clerics and all media outlets that are somehow connected with the religious elite of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Although in the last several years the gravitation of the populous toward the Christian faith has been a source of aggravation for the ruling and religious elite of the government, the harsh statements and intimidating conduct of the religious leaders to the repressive actions of the security forces such as those of the Pasdaran Militia and media outlets belonging to these organizations have placed an ever-increasing pressure on Christian families and those who have recently become Christians.

According to reports obtained by the Iranian Christian News Agency, «Mohabat News», from a local newspaper published in the Southern Khoarasan Province, Ayatollah Sobhani, a cleric leader in the province, in a recent meeting with several other clerics and religious leaders of the Islamic Guidance Foundation, warned these sources of the ever-increasing activities of local mystics and “false” Christian (Protestant and born-again Christians!).

This high ranking cleric who has not given any definition for the term “false Christianity” has stated that, “these Christian evangelists have converted 600 people to Christianity in the city of Neyshabour”. Furthermore, he has not indicated how these numbers and statistics were gathered or which organization has collected such information.

(Neyshābūr is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, near the regional capital of Mashhad)
Mr.Sobhani has made these claims following another recent claim made by Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani, a high ranking Shiite cleric, who said that he had the statistics of how many young people had become Christian in the city of Qum. He severely criticized the security and government forces in neglecting this issue and demanded that this matter be dealt with in a strongest possible manner.

Mr. Khorasani in attacking the Pope in a very strong language claimed that he is actively attempting to spread Christianity inside Iran and warned the Vatican that such actions will result in exposing the Catholic Church for issues that would be very costly to the church(Source).

Hindu Extremists beat a Pastor till he's unconscious.

  04/22/2011 India (CDN) — Hindu extremists beat a pastor and evangelist unconscious in front of his sons earlier this month in Madhya Pradesh state.

Ramesh Devda, 30, from Dhadhniya, Meghnagar district, said he was attacked on April 4 at about 11 a.m. after leading a prayer meeting in Chikklia village. He said he was on his way to Bhajidongra, at the border of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat states, by motorcycle with his two sons, 10-year-old Elias, and 8-year-old Shimon, to lead another prayer meeting.

When he reached Raseda village, he said, suddenly three people on two motorcycles blocked his way and forced him to stop.
“Suddenly out of nowhere these three men appeared in two motorcycles – they blocked me and tilted my motorcycle,” Pastor Devda told Compass. “We fell down. They were carrying big bamboo sticks and clubs. They started beating me, and then they called and three more men came and started to attack me.”
He said he was thankful that his sons were spared from beating, though his older son sustained a leg injury in the course of the attack.

“They were angry at me and were threatening to kill me and were warning me not to come to their area again,” he said. “My sons were screaming at the top of their voices, and they were afraid. One of the men hit me on my forehead with a big bamboo stick, cracking my skull. The others were also beating me on my body, especially my back with bamboo sticks.”
A blow to the forehead temporarily blinded him, he said.

“My eyes were darkened, and I fell down, and they proceeded to beat me even more,” he said. “The men were also abusive in the foulest language that I had heard, and they were drunk.”
People passing by heard the two boys crying out and came to help, and the attackers fled, he said, leaving the unconscious pastor and his sons.
“I do not know who helped me, as I was unconscious,” Pastor Devda said. “But I came to know later that local Christians also came in and called the emergency helpline. As a result, an ambulance came, which then took me to the hospital.”

He was taken to Anita Surgical Hospital on Station Road in Dahod, Gujarat. There a physician identified only as Dr. Bharpoda told him that he had fractured his skull.
“I am being treated for my wounds now, but there is still a lot of pain,” Pastor Devda said.
A Christian for 15 years, Pastor Devda has been in Christian leadership for 11 years and now serves with the Christian Reformed Fellowship of India. He has two other children, Ashish and 4-year-old Sakina, and his wife Lalita, 28, is active with him in Christian service.

Pastor Devda leads congregations in Chikklia, Bhajidongra and Dhadhniya villages.
“I have heard that I was attacked because the people of Chikklia did not like me conducting the Sunday service there,” he said. “The people who beat me up do belong to a Hindu fundamentalist outfit, and some believers in Chikklia know them. I can recognize them if I see them again.”
He said, however, that he does not want to file a First Information Report (FIR) with police.
“There is no one supporting me or standing with me in my village or my mission, and I am myself fearful, as I have to continue to minister to these very people,” Pastor Devda said. “I know my attack was pre-planned, but I do not want to report it to the police.”

A Christian co-worker from Rajasthan was also attacked about a month ago in equally brutal fashion, he said, but also refrained from filing an FIR because of fear of repercussions.
Vijayesh Lal, secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission, said the tribal belt that extends to the border areas of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, has been a hot spot for anti-Christian activity since the late 1990s.

“Only recently a 65-year-old evangelist was beaten and stripped by Hindu extremists,” he said. “It is a worrisome trend, and one that should be dealt with not only by the government but by the secular media and civil society in general.(Source)

Chinese Churches attacked during Easter season

4/26/11(WashingtonTimes) – The International Monetary Fund says the “Age of America” will end in the ash heap of history in 2016, give or take a year or so, to be replaced by the “Age of China.”

That’s when the value of the Chinese economy will reach $19 trillion annually, shading ours by a few billion in petty cash. A decade ago, the Chinese economy was only a fraction of the size of America’s. That was before we shipped our factories to China and the Democrats and Republicans in Washington discovered they could borrow money with abandon from the Chinese to finance FDR’s famous formula of “spend and spend, elect and elect.”

This news of imminent Chinese economic superiority – the triumph of Adam Smith over Karl Marx – should arm the old men in Beijing with the confidence to tolerate the growth of religious faith in their midst. But on Easter Sunday, the government turned the observance of Easter into the Chinese fire drill of yore and lore.

The frightened old men of Beijing dispatched swarms of cops, with enough sirens, bells and whistles to answer a train wreck, to an evangelical congregation in Beijing to round up 40 men, women and children on their way to a park to lift their voices in song and praise to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. No one can accuse the Chinese government of enforcing draconian law with a subtle hand. Subtlety is an ancient Chinese art as applied to Szechuan shredded chicken or pork with chef’s garlic sauce, the artist’s vision and the coinage of proverbs. But not to governing. “Peasants, like lobsters, release their essence only when heads are smashed.” Or something like that. Some of the proverbs are subtle, too.

Kathy Lu, a member of the congregation at Shouwang Church, told a correspondent for the Voice of America that many members of the church were arrested. “Around 40 were taken away,” she said. “Over 500 members were not allowed to leave their homes. One of the deacons returned to his home last Friday afternoon and the police came to ask him if he planned to attend the Easter Sunday service. He said yes, so the police said, ‘From this moment you cannot leave this house.’ “

China divides Christians into two categories, “official Christians” who worship unmolested in government-approved churches with government-approved theology, and “others.” The official government statistics put the number of “official Christians” at 15 million, but the growth of Christianity in China is a phenomenon of the hounded and persecuted, which by some estimates number 100 million. Some of these congregations, such as Shouwang Church, independent of other Protestant denominations, openly defy the government.

“As Easter is very important to us we must stick to our decision to worship outdoors,” Jin Tianming, the senior pastor of Shouwan Church, tells Agence France-Presse. “This is our uncompromising position and a matter of faith. If they arrest our followers, this is the price we are willing to pay.” This infuriates the Communist leaders, whose contempt for faith allows no understanding of it. Pastor Tianming’s remarks reflect the history of the Christian churches, which often — indeed, usually — thrive best in the face of official suppression. The old men of Beijing may soon be in a place to ask the ancient Romans about that (Source).

Algerian Christians Arrested for Proselytizing and Blasphemy

I pray that my brethren will be found not guilty at this trial and that they will keep on preaching the gospel with boldness:

Washington, D.C. (April 25, 2011) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two Algerian Christians are scheduled to appear in court on charges of proselytizing and blasphemy, and may face a five year prison sentence. The two men were arrested and briefly imprisoned in Oran on April 14 after sharing their Christian faith with their neighbors.

One of the men, Sofiane, was released a day after their arrest, while Krimo was imprisoned for three days. After the arrest, Algerian police searched Krimo’s home for Bibles and other Christian material. Krimo was known to hold weekly prayer services at his home, which Algerian Christians suspect were being closely monitored by the police.

A court hearing, initially scheduled for April 27, was postponed to a later date. Algerian Christians are fearful that a law introduced in 2006 – requiring religious services to obtain a government permit to worship – will be applied, which may result in a five year imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 Algerian dinars (equivalent to 1,390.00 USD). Church leadership has expressed frustration over the government’s negligence to lay out a set procedure to register a church or to approve a permit quickly.

The Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) engaged a lawyer to defend Krimo and Sofiane. We are hopeful that they will be acquitted,” a pastor in Tizi Ouzou told ICC. “Although our constitution says to respect other faiths other than Islam, the government is Islamic, and article two says ‘Islam is the religion of State.’ There is no respect for human rights or religious freedom and the protestant church is suffering.”

The arrests came a day before Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika pledged to his country that he would reform the constitution to allow freedom of press and free elections. Since the current constitution was applied in 1996 to strengthen emergency laws and ban religious-based parties following a war between the military and Islamic militants, the Algerian government has been unable to contain Islamists who have been largely responsible for attacks on Christians.

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We urge the Algerian government to expand its pledge to reform the constitution by also offering greater freedoms to Christians and other religious minorities. The first step is to remove the legislation introduced in 2006 that makes it nearly impossible for Christians to worship openly. It is time for the Algerian government to prove that they stand behind article 36 of the constitution, which states that freedom of creed is inviolable, by acquitting Krimo and Sofiane of the charges of blasphemy and proselytizing, and demonstrating to the world that Algeria is steadily making progress to become a country that respects the right to worship freely.” (Source)

Four Ethiopian Muslims beat Ethiopian Christian Evangelist Abraham Abera

Washington -- International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on April 21 four Muslims beat an evangelist to death and assaulted his pregnant wife in Worabe, Ethiopia, an area that is 97% Muslim.
The Muslims lured Evangelist Abraham Abera from Kale Hiwot Church, his home and place of ministry, at 9:30 p.m. They told him that his friend was sick and needed his immediate attention. Abraham left with the men; they turned on him and began to beat him with rods. The minister's wife, Birtukan, saw the men attack her husband and ran to intervene, but the Muslims beat her as well.

Abraham died on the spot and his wife, who sustained a severe head injury, was left unconscious in the street. She was found and taken to a hospital in Butajira, where she regained consciousness on April 22nd and was able to recount the details of the attack. Birtukan spoke with an ICC source and said that she knew two of the attackers. She said that as the Muslims were beating her and her husband, they told them, "You (Christians) are growing in number in our area. You are spreading your message (the gospel). We will destroy you."

Though Birtukan did suffer injuries to her mid-section, her unborn baby did fortunately survive the attack.
The attackers still remain at large. A Christian leader in the area told ICC that the men may not be arrested because the local officials are also Muslims. "Christians in Worabe and its surrounding areas are persecuted at the hands of Muslim radicals, and the local government officials, who are Muslims, don't protect Christians. We urge the higher government authorities [state and federal officials] to intervene and protect us," said the Christian leader.

"The brutal killing of Evangelist Abraham and the beating of his wife, Birtukan, is deeply troubling. We urge the federal government authorities to investigate this latest attack as well as reports of persecution against Christians in the Silte zone," said Jonathan Racho, ICC's Regional Manager for Africa(Source).

The Nature of the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?(Luke 9:23-24)" It's no different today than it was now and our brethren in places refuse to renounce their God and Savior, Jesus Christ and get killed as a result of it.

Reasons for this blog

This is the beginning of my new blog. The reason for it is because I want my western brothers and sisters in Christ to know that our brethren in other place in the world are being persecuted in other countries and that we should keep them in our prayers as well. Another reason is that we should learn from example and prepare for suffering and persecution which might come to the West. I hope the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified through this blog.

-Jabari Jefferson, Author of this blog