A Christian pastor is among 30 prisoners who were badly beaten during a raid in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison last week, when prison guards are said to have assaulted inmates who protested against an aggressive inspection.
“CSW is extremely concerned by the reported events in Evin Prison. The treatment meted out to these prisoners is unacceptable and is in clear violation of Iran’s obligations under article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that prisoners should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent human dignity. We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident, sanctioning those responsible,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said.
According to the Christian watchdog group, Evangelical church leader Farshid Fathi, who is serving six years in prison for what it says are false political charges, suffered a broken foot and toe during the raid. At least 29 other prisoners were also reportedly wounded, with injuries ranging from fractured skull to broken ribs and limbs.
CSW’s Kiri Kankhwende told The Christian Post on Wednesday that initially there were reports that the Head of Prisons in Iran had been fired over the issue, but the group looked into it and found out that the reports were false.
Evin Prison has a reputation as one of the most brutal prisons in Iran and in the world. Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, was initially kept there before being transferred to another prison in Iran to serve an eight-year sentence.
David Cameron invited Wilson Chowdhry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) to Number 10 Downing Street to hear him speak about the state of Christianity around the world.
At his Easter reception earlier this month, the Prime Minister said: “I hope we can do more to raise the profile of the persecution of Christians around the world.
“It is the case today that our religion is now the most persecuted religion around the world. I think Britain can play a leading role in this.”
Mr Chowdhry said he raised the issue of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws with the PM.
Speaking after the event, he said:
“Mr Cameron’s promised efforts on behalf of the victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is welcome news.
“However, against this we must not underestimate the deeply entrenched support for the blasphemy laws amongst the significant portion of the Pakistani population and elite that is, shall we say, rather retrograde.
Mr Chowdhry attended the reception with his wife Juliet.
Mr. Wilson Chowdhry is a committed, dedicated and courageous Christian leader who was born in London, but his heart beats with the nation of his ancestors in Pakistan. When he witnessed the incident of Gojra in 2009, he stepped forward to form the British Pakistani Christian Association(BPCA) to share the miseries of millions of oppressed and persecuted Pakistani Christians. May God bless and guide the work our brother is doing for Christians religious freedom in Pakistan!
In Nigeria, Christians in the Muslim-majority North have been the targets of relentless deadly attacks by Islamic extremists.
More than 200 pastors in the Northeastern Borno state have either fled, closed their churches, or have been murdered by the militant Islamic group Boko Haram.
Christian leaders who remain have committed to fasting and praying for the region one week each month.
“We have to stay and uphold the name of Christ in this state,” one pastor named James told the international ministry Open Doors.
“We are willing to pay the price for our calling. We don’t only share the Gospel when things are rosy,” he continued. “It is to be done in every situation. Hunger and want will never discourage us. Swords and guns, even the roar of the devil, will only encourage us to stand first for Christ.”
“If we die, our blood will speak about Christ to our killers,” he said.
“We are seeking the face of God in this situation,” Rev. Pona, whose full name we cannot reveal for security purposes, told Open Doors. “Brethren are being killed all over the state. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. Our churches have not been spared. We are being struck from every direction. Only Christ can deliver us from this trial.”
Idaho Governor Butch Otter called for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini this morning with Kevin Miller Show on KIDO Radio. Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed’s wife, had asked Miller earlier in the day to ask the governor if he would make a public statement supporting her husband’s release. Miller played the interview of Naghmeh and Otter replied, ‘that’s why it’s so important, that those of us that are not being held hostage, those of us that are free to say so, should push the envelope just as far as we can to seek peaceful release and quick release.
Governor Otter encouraged people to pray for Saeed as well. “Prayer is one of the strongest forces that we’ve got.”
Developing: Confessions confirm Fulani herdsmen as members of Boko Haram. Disclosing to security forces that they took part in many attacks with the terrorist group.
Based on information VOP has gathered from our sources and reports, we pointed to the fact that attacks on Christians by the Fulani were more than cattlemen trying to confiscate lands for their herds. We have addressed the situation between the herdsmen and the Boko Haram, who all along have been effective in luring them into joining their Islamic organization.
In a statement by the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade said,
“A group of terrorists operating under the guise of herdsmen from a camp in the outskirt of Wukari have been arrested, while others died after an attack on military check point at Gindin Dorowa, a suburb of Wukari in Taraba State”.
“Other members of the group were sighted in the course of air surveillance and later trailed to their camp where they engaged the troops in a battle”.
“The terrorists were clad in the usual pattern of dress of their counterparts operating in Borno and Yobe States”.
“One of the apprehended armed men confessed that he had been fighting for the terrorist group in Borno State and was recently brought to Wukari area in furtherance of their mission”.
“Assorted arms and ammunition were recovered from them”.
“Meanwhile, the curfew imposed on Wukari and its environs is expected to be relaxed as normalcy returns to the town”.
“Troops have maintained patrol of the area while a house-to-house search for arms is ongoing”.
“In another development, troops on patrol of the Lake Chad Islands have made some arrests”.
“Among those arrested was a boat operator who ferries terrorists across the Lake Chad while another confessed to being a supplier of hard drugs to the terrorist groups in the area”.
“In the meantime, the search for the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok is also being intensified”.
As reported by Kingsley Omonobi in Vanguard
The Fulani were one of the first African tribes to convert to Islam and are today more than 99% Muslim. The devoutly Muslim Fulani have seen themselves as the propagators and preservers of the Islamic faith in West Africa from as early as the fourteenth century. Historically it was a Fulani chief named Usuman dan Fodio, along with nomadic Fulani herdsmen who were instrumental in facilitating the spread of Islam across West Africa through evangelism and conquest.
At times they would wage “holy wars” or jihad in order to extend and purify Islam. As the Fulani migrated eastward they spread their Islamic beliefs. As they became more powerful and attained more wealth they began to be more aggressive with their religion. Their adoption of Islam increased their feeling of cultural and religious superiority to surrounding peoples, and that adoption became a major ethnic boundary marker. Some settled in towns and quickly became noted as outstanding Islamic clerics, joining the highest ranking Berbers and Arabs.
Today it is difficult to find any Fulani who admits to not being Muslim, no matter how lax his or her practice may be. To a Fulani person: to be Fulani is to be a Muslim. Although they adhere very strongly to the tenants of Islam, it has been surprising to find a high level of belief that certain people possess supernatural powers. Like other West Africans, Fulani will frequent local religious practitioners who have established reputations for their curative powers. Many such practitioners – witch doctors and medicine men – are also Muslim religious leaders.
It is common to hear a Fulani tell stories of those who have the power to move themselves from one place to another supernaturally or perhaps to do harm to another person through some sort of supernatural power or curse.
According to Sham Times and other Arabic websites, jihadi social media networks posted the above picture of a child sitting on the ground while surrounded by armed men pointing their rifles at him. The caption appearing with the picture, purportedly posted by a supporter of the Free Syrian Army, is “Our youngest hostage from among the hostile sects of Kessab.”
Kessab is a predominantly Christian Armenian village in Syria near the Turkish border. Earlier it was invaded by jihadis, who terrorized, pillaged churches, and prompted some 2000 residents to flee. Initial reports had stated that about a dozen families remained as hostages.
Since the picture appeared on Arabic social media, many have expressed shock and outrage, condemning the Syrian “rebels,” while others cast doubt on the authenticity of the picture.
Of course, those wondering what the jihadis have to gain from taking such a picture and making it public would do well to remember that these are the same “rebels” who decapitate people and wave their severed and bloodied heads in front of cameras while smiling; these are the same “freedom fighters” who literally eat their victims on camera.
Surely “teasing” an infidel toddler – a subhuman – with their rifles and sharing it with their sadistic comrades via the Internet for a “laugh” should not be too surprising?
At any rate, the fact remains: the “Free Syrian Army,” along with other “rebel” groups operating in Syria, are guilty of countless barbaric crimes against humanity — including against women and children.
By Ray Ibrahim
These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, too; cutting the unborn child from the mother’s womb, and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their mothers’ eyes. Doing it before the mothers’ eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. Here is another scene that I thought very interesting. Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of invading Turks around her. They’ve planned a diversion: they pet the baby, laugh to make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points a pistol four inches from the baby’s face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out its little hands to the pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the baby’s face and blows out its brains. Artistic, wasn’t it? By the way, Turks are particularly fond of sweet things, they say.
Opponents of a European initiative paving the way for governments to rule on the legitimacy of religious groups and reduce homeschooling rights won a battle this month in the Council of Europe, sources said.
April 22, 2014 (Morning Star News) – Opponents of a European initiative paving the way for governments to rule on the legitimacy of religious groups and reduce homeschooling rights – thus laying the groundwork for potential persecution of Christians – won a battle this month in the Council of Europe, sources said.
In Europe, where public education often includes teachings on morality at odds with churches, and officially unrecognized religious groups are labeled “sects,” the stakes were high for religious freedom advocates when resolutions granting European governments latitude to control “sects” and homeschoolers went to a vote in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) this month.
Religious rights group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) disseminated a memorandum arguing that the report and resolutions of Rudy Salles, rapporteur of PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, contravened the European Convention on Human Rights and rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.
“The clear and unwavering jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights regarding state neutrality towards religious groups, coupled with the growing number of judgments from the Court against High Contracting Parties for improperly monitoring religious groups, stands in sharp contrast to the recommendations set forth by Mr. Salles,” the April 2 memo asserted. “Adoption of the Salles Report would further damage the rights of European parents in educating their children according to their own religious and philosophical convictions.”
A petition against Salles’ report, entitled “The Protection of Minors against Excesses of Sects,” obtained more than 10,000 signatures, and a wide array of rights organizations vigorously opposed the proposals. The report sought to establish a “European observatory” to monitor “groups of a religious, esoteric or spiritual nature to make it easier for national centres to exchange information,” according to a draft of the resolutions.
Salles, a member of France’s National Assembly, has been criticized for connections with a French agency, the Inter-Ministerial Mission for Vigilance and Action Against Sectarian Excesses (MIVILUDES), which is accused of conducting witch-hunts against independent religious groups. For his part, his report states that the Parliamentary Assembly had in 1999 attached “great importance to protecting those most vulnerable, and particularly the children of members of religious, esoteric or spiritual groups, in case of ill-treatment, rape, neglect, indoctrination through brainwashing and non-enrollment at school, which makes it impossible for welfare services to exercise supervision.”
In its memorandum, ADF argued that child-protection laws need not single out religious groups.
“To provide unfettered discretion to the state to extra-judicially monitor religious groups injures the very substance of religious freedom, parental rights and church autonomy,” the ADF memo asserted.
On education, the Salles report proposed state oversight, “in particular in terms of conformity of curricula and the quality of the teaching staff. In the case of home schooling, it would be useful for the children to be followed by the relevant departments of local authorities so that the latter can take prompt action if the children are not being properly schooled or there are other problems.”
The report proposed that member states would “make sure that compulsory schooling is enforced and ensure strict, prompt and effective monitoring of all private education, including home schooling.”
Curricula in many European countries violate many churches’ teachings on morality, and ADF argued that “adoption of the Salles Report would further damage the rights of European parents in educating their children according to their own religious and philosophical convictions.”
“In Salzkotten, Germany, 14 Christian parents were imprisoned, some for more than 40 days and most on multiple occasions, simply for opting their 9-10-year-old children from two days of mandatory ‘sexual education’ classes,” according to the ADF memo. “Also in Germany, a 15-year-old girl was placed in a mental institution for wishing to be home educated. The reason for her police detention and subsequent committal to the Nuremberg mental facility was the false diagnosis by a single practitioner that the young girl in question had ‘schoolphobia.’”
ADF further noted that police and social service representatives four years ago took 7-year-old Domenic Johansson off an airplane bound for Sweden simply for being home-educated. The family had been relocating to India to help with orphanages.
“The police had no warrant, and the family was accused of committing no crimes when young Domenic Johansson was taken from his parents nearly four years ago,” ADF asserted. “In Spain, the [José Luis Rodríguez] Zapatero government initiated mandatory classes known as ‘education for citizenship’ which indoctrinated young children with a bombardment of material promoting homosexual behavior, hypersexual behavior, communism and which aggressively mocked the Catholic Church. What was perhaps even more shocking was that the government refused all requests for parental opt-outs of the classes despite more than 50,000 complaints from parents, hundreds of lawsuits and ultimately a class-action style lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights.”
In Strasbourg, France on April 10, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe removed language from the Salles report that threatened religious freedom and parental rights to educate their children, according to CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) for Europe, a Brussels-based rights organization that works alongside ADF.
“The threat to religious liberty from French MP Rudy Salles’ Report and Resolution calling for the French anti-sect approach (with the label ‘sect’ being applied to any small or independent churches or other minority religious groups) to be rolled out across Europe, was defeated at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly plenary session in Strasbourg by substantial amendments being passed which CARE had lobbied for,” said David Fieldsend, manager of CARE for Europe. “These largely stripped the text of the undefined terminology ‘excesses of sects’ and replaced it with calls for child protection laws to be applied even-handedly to all situations with no religious or other groups singled out for special investigation as prejudicially presumed child abusers, as well as reaffirming the right of those belonging to minority religious groups to full religious liberty and especially the right to an education for their children in accordance with their convictions and beliefs.”
Evangelical churches in countries with strong majority national churches, particularly in eastern Europe, have suffered from only limited toleration by national authorities and “a cultural climate of suspicion, which the original text of this Resolution could have exacerbated,” Fieldsend said.
The Parliamentary Assembly is one of the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe, which is composed of the Committee of Ministers (foreign affairs representatives) and the Assembly, representing the majority and opposition political forces in member states.
A Monmouth County family is suing a New Jersey school district, alleging that the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance is discriminatory because it asks students to pledge “under God.”
The family, represented by the American Humanist Association, claims that the daily pledge discriminates against atheists and violates the right to equal protection under the state Constitution. The association works to make sure atheists are treated equally in society. The lawsuit was filed in state Superior Court against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District and its superintendent David M. Healy.
Public schools in New Jersey are required under state statute to have students salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance on each school day. The plaintiffs, parents of a minor who goes to school in the district, said that as atheists they do not accept the existence of a God or gods. They argue that the “under God” part of the pledge maligns their religious beliefs and calls their patriotism into question.
The “under God” language also fuels prejudice against atheists by casting them as outsiders and creating an “official public atmosphere of disapproval” of their religious views, said the plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit anonymously.
Reports say Fr Christ Forman Wilibona was shot six times by armed men while riding on a motorcycle through traffic. He was on his way to Paoua where he was the parish priest at Saint Kisito church.
In a statement released following the killing, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, head of Caritas CAR, said,
“We denounce and condemn these barbaric acts from another age. They could compromise the move towards national reconciliation we have so longed for.”
The archbishop calls on the CAR government to restore the rule of law and for African Union and international forces to disarm militias so people are free to move around the country.
He said the killing marked an upsurge in violence against religious – in particular those in the north-west of the country.
The killing of Fr Wilibona came just two days after Bishop Nestor Azagbya Nongo of Bossangoa and three diocesan priests were kidnapped by ex-Seleka militia in Batangafo and later released.
“We invite the people of the Central African Republic as well as all men and women of good will to pray for the return of peace and security to our country and to open their hearts to dialogue and reconciliation,” said Archbishop Nzapalainga.