Washington, D.C. (July 24, 2014) – For the second time this week, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) took to the House floor to alert his colleagues – and the world – of the genocide he believes is taking place in Iraq.
“Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out,” Wolf said.
Wolf began today’s speech by reading the first two paragraphs of a Wall Street Journal editorial from earlier in the week: “Mr. Speaker: Imagine if a fundamentalist Christian sect captured the French city of Lyon and began a systematic purge of Muslims. Their mosques were destroyed, their crescents defaced, the Koran burned and then all Muslims forced to flee or face execution. Such an event would be unthinkable today, and if it did occur Pope Francis and all other Christian leaders would denounce it and support efforts by governments to stop it.
“Yet that is essentially what is happening in reverse now in Mosul, as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham drives all signs of Christianity from the ancient city. Christians have lived in Mosul for nearly 2,000 years, but today they are reliving the Muslim religious wars of the Middle Ages.”
Wolf then read parts of an e-mail he received form someone on the ground in Iraq who painted a very dire situation: “All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. There are around 30. The cross has been removed from all of them. Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted. Many others are being used as ISIS centers. The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul. This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah’s tomb, which was broken last week, according to many reporters.”
Wolf then asked: “Where is the West? Where is the Obama Administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.”
Wolf ended his remarks by quoting William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian who, in making the case against slavery in 1789, told his colleagues, “Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Below is the complete text of Wolf’s remarks:
“‘Imagine if a fundamentalist Christian sect captured the French city of Lyon and began a systematic purge of Muslims. Their mosques were destroyed, their crescents defaced, the Koran burned and then all Muslims forced to flee or face execution. Such an event would be unthinkable today, and if it did occur Pope Francis and all other Christian leaders would denounce it and support efforts by governments to stop it.
“Yet that is essentially what is happening in reverse now in Mosul, as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham drives all signs of Christianity from the ancient city. Christians have lived in Mosul for nearly 2,000 years, but today they are reliving the Muslim religious wars of the Middle Ages.’
“These are not my words. They are the first two paragraphs of a Wall Street Journal editorial published earlier this week.
“Now I want to read parts of an e-mail I received yesterday from someone in the ground in Iraq: ‘All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. There are around 30. The cross has been removed from all of them. Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted. Many others are being used as ISIS centers. The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul. This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah’s tomb, which was broken last week, according to many reporters.’
“It has been widely reported that ISIS soldiers have painted ‘N’ on the doors of Christians to signify that they are ‘Nasara,’ the word for Christian. Shiite homes were painted with the letter ‘R’ for “Rawafidh,’ meaning rejectors or protestants.
“Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.
“With the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country.
“I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide. I also believe it is a crime against humanity.
“Where is the West? Where is the Obama Administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.
“The West, particularly the church, needs to speak out.
“The Obama Administration needs to make protecting this ancient community a priority. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry need to have the same courage as President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell when they said genocide was taking place in Darfur.
“The Congress needs to hold this administration accountable for its failure to act.
“The United Nations has a role, too. It should immediately initiate proceedings in the International Criminal Court against ISIS for crimes against humanity.
“I will close today by reading the final two paragraphs of The Wall Street Journal editorial I began my statement with: ‘Today’s religious extremism is almost entirely Islamic. While ISIS’s purge may be the most brutal, Islamists in Egypt have driven thousands of Coptic Christians from homes they’ve occupied for centuries. The same is true across the Muslim parts of Africa. This does not mean that all Muslims are extremists, but it does mean that all Muslims have an obligation to denounce and resist the extremists who murder or subjugate in the name of Allah. Too few imams living in the tolerant West will speak up against it.
“As for the post-Christian West, most elites may now be nonbelievers. But a culture that fails to protect believers may eventually find that it lacks the self-belief to protect itself.’
“As William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian and abolitionist, famously told his colleagues, ‘Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.’”
Thank you, Rep. Wolf for being a VOICE!
Please take this moment to PRAISE GOD!
At a Congressional hearing held yesterday, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said “a warning should be sounded across America” over the Obama administration’s “virtual silence” toward the Sudanese government’s persecution of Meriam Ibrahim, who was imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian.
Shortly after Perkins testified Wednesday before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Ibrahim and her family – two young children and her American husband – were allowed to leave the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, where they took refuge on June 27.
Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who was spared a death sentence for apostasy and then barred from leaving Sudan, met Pope Francis on Thursday after arriving in Rome to jubilant scenes following intense international efforts to free her.
Ms Ibrahim and her husband Daniel Wani thanked the pontiff for his support and he in turn thanked her for staying true to her Christian faith despite the threat of execution if she did not recant.
She was released after intense diplomatic negotiations from the Italian government and the Vatican ended an ordeal that lasted almost a year.
“Today we are happy, this is a day of celebration,” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said as he greeted Ms Ibrahim and her family with his wife Agnese.
“This gesture by Sudan is testimony to the friendship between our country and Italy’s choice to be a protagonist in this event,” said Mr Pistelli.
Mr Pistelli first met Ms Ibrahim two weeks ago at the US Embassy in Khartoum where she and her family had sought refuge after a failed attempt to go to the US.
He said her passport was only returned to her at the embassy on Wednesday afternoon and she was informed she could leave with her children.
Olivia Warham, director of Waging Peace, a UK NGO that campaigns against genocide and systematic human rights violations in Sudan, said millions of Sudanese Christians faced daily brutality and ethnic cleansing by the Sudanese regime.
“Three years ago President Bashir made it plain there would be no room for non-Muslims in his Islamist Sudan. He has been good to his word, crushing dissent and systematically killing ethnic and religious minorities. Regular aerial bombardment by the Sudanese armed forces destroys communities and Christian hospitals, forcing people to flee from their fields to hide in the Nuba mountains,” she said.
“It is shocking that Bashir’s ideology of elimination provokes nothing more than the occasional words of regret from the international community, when we should be applying targeted smart sanctions on the architects of these atrocities.”
Washington, D.C. (July 22, 2014) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), long regarded as one of the leading human rights champions in Congress, today said genocide is taking place in Iraq.
Speaking on the House floor, Wolf said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is systematically targeting Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq for extinction.
For months, Wolf has been trying shine a bright light on what has been taking place in Iraq, as thousands of religious minorities have been forced to flee the lands they have inhabited for more than 2,000 years. Not until ISIS last Thursday told the few remaining Christians in Mosul to leave or be killed did the world focus on what has been unfolding.
Below is the complete text of Wolf’s remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, the international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
“It says ‘genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’
“I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide. I also believe it is a crime against humanity.
“Last Thursday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – more commonly referred to as ISIS – gave the few remaining Christians in Mosul until Saturday to leave or be killed.
“This from yesterday New York Times: ‘Some went on foot, their car having been confiscated; others rode bicycles or motor scooters; few were able to take anything of value, as militants seized their money and jewelry. Some – just a few, and because they were not healthy enough to flee – submitted to the demands that they convert to Islam to avoid being killed.’
“ISIS is systematically targeting Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq for extinction.
“I want to submit for the Record the complete article from The New York Times and an editorial from today’s Wall Street Journal for history to see what is happening.
“With the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country. The patriarch Abraham came from a city in Iraq called Ur. Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, came from northwest Iraq. Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq, and his sons (the 12 tribes of Israel) were born in northwest Iraq. A remarkable spiritual revival as told in the book of Jonah occurred in Nineveh. The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq, as did the account of Daniel in the Lion’s Den
“Monday’s New York Times piece also quotes a Muslim woman at a prayer service at St. George Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad on Sunday whispering to a Christian woman sitting in the pew next to her: ‘You are the true original people here, we are so sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam.’
“On June 16, for the first time in 1,600 years, there was no Mass in Mosul.
“Pope Francis on Sunday expressed concern about what has unfolded in Mosul and other parts of the Middle East, noting that these communities, since the beginning of Christianity, have ‘co-existed there alongside their fellow citizens, making a significant contribution to the good of society. Today they are persecuted. Our brothers are persecuted, they are cast out, they are forced to leave their homes without having the chance to take anything with them.’
“The United Nations released a statement attributed to Ban Ki-moon that, in part, said: ‘The Secretary-General reiterates that any systematic attack on the civilian population or segments of the civilian population, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, for which those responsible must be held accountable.’
“Where is the Obama Administration?
“In June, 55 Members of Congress – Republican and Democrats – urged the Obama Administration to actively engage with the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to prioritize additional security support for especially vulnerable populations, notably Iraq’s ancient Christian community and provide emergency humanitarian assistance to those affected communities.
“I want to read the last line from our letter:
‘Absent immediate action, we will most certainly witness the annihilation of an ancient faith community from the lands they’ve inhabited for centuries.’
“It is happening. They are almost all gone – just as we predicted.
“The Obama Administration has to make protecting this ancient community a priority.
“It needs to encourage the Kurds to do what they can protect those fleeing ISIS and provide safe refuge.
“It needs to ensure that of the resources going to the region, a portion be guaranteed to help the Christian community.
“It needs to have the same courage as President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell when they said genocide was taking place in Darfur.
“The United Nations has a role, too. It should immediately initiate proceedings in the International Criminal Court against ISIS for crimes against humanity.
“The time to act is now.”
Village bans non-Hindu activities
Chhattisgarh doesn’t have religious minorities to speak of—they are a mere two per cent of its population. That should make it an oasis of communal harmony. Right? Well, not quite, as several admittedly small but significant incidents this year expose how fragile the social fabric really is in parts of the state, notably in Bastar and Surguja.
If it was a church that was destroyed this March by people, allegedly with the help of the police, the next month it was a funeral service that was attacked and the grave filled up. In June, Christians at Sirisguda were refused rations from the pds outlets after they refused to give donations for a Hindu temple. This month, when a food inspector arrived to register complaints, the complainants were attacked and beaten up. Nine of them had to be hospitalised.
Things are no better in the adjacent areas of Madhya Pradesh, where according to Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), mobs searched the belongings of passengers and those found in possession of the Bible were beaten up.
There’s more. As many as 50 village councils in Bastar are said to have adopted resolutions banning the entry of “non-Hindu missionaries”. Bastar district magistrate Ankit Anand admits to only three villages adopting such resolutions, which he says are unconstitutional and illegal. But that is of small consolation to church leaders, who complain of increasing instances of persecution by the majority community. “Unless legal and deterrent action is taken against the mischief-makers, there is no guarantee that such incidents will not recur,” says a parish priest at Raipur.
The sporadic violence has surprised observers, who say that the state has long been a bastion of the VHP-RSS, and with 98 per cent of the population being Hindu, there really is no reason for the majority community to feel threatened. Not even in Bastar, where Christians constitute barely 0.7 per cent of the population, and the tribal population remains a robust 30.63 per cent. READ MORE
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George said that India is a “secular state” and is party to the United Nations Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified.
Hence, on behalf of the members of GCIC, the Christian activist called for urgent action against discriminatory rules in order to ensure respect for the constitution and guarantee everyone’s right “to the free practice of religion.”
For several years, the State of Chhattisgarh has had a so-called ‘anti-conversion law‘ (Chhattisgarh Religion Freedom Act of 2006).
Under its terms, would-be converts are required to inform a district magistrate a month in advance of their decision to change religion. The latter in turn has the power to give or withhold permission to convert.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
We are outraged by ISIL’s recent announcement that Christians in Mosul must either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face execution in the coming days. We have also seen photos of reportedly Christian houses in Mosul marked with pejorative terms for Christians, as well as reports that Shia and Shabak houses have been similarly marked. ISIL also continues to target Sunni clerics and tribal sheikhs who disagree with its dark vision for Iraq.
These abominable actions only further demonstrate ISIL’s mission to divide and destroy Iraq and contradict Islam’s spirit of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. It should be clear that ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region. This growing threat exemplifies the need for Iraqis from all communities to work together to confront this common enemy and to take all possible steps to isolate these militant groups from the broader population.
We encourage government officials in Baghdad and Erbil to take every possible effort to assist Iraq’s vulnerable populations and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions in a manner consistent with the rule of law. The United States stands with all the Iraqi people against the threat from ISIL.
A Sudanese government soldier on Saturday (July 12) shot a Christian near his farm in South Kordofan state, seriously wounding him, church sources said.
Akhnouk Jamal, 27, a member of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), sustained wounds on his back and upper part of his stomach when a soldier opened fire on him as he picked wild fruit near his land in Losher, west of Al Atmor, a church source told Morning Star News.
“He was rushed to a health center, where he is now under treatment,” the source said. “But thank God he is recovering from his wounds.”
The Christian has no connections to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) rebels fighting government forces in the area east of the state capital of Kadugli, sources said. Government forces reportedly took control of the rebel stronghold of Al Atmor, in Um Dorain County, on June 7, though fighting continued throughout the month.
Jamal remained in the area even as most of the congregation fled to mountain caves after Sudanese Armed Forces supported by the Sudanese Air Force destroyed the ECS church building in Al Atmor in a bombing on July 6, sources said.
Jamal, single, is an ethnic Nuba and member of Al Atmor ECS church along with his mother. The attack destroyed the church building along with its chairs, pulpit and Bibles and prayer books, a source who requested anonymity said. The 180-member congregation has deserted the area, the source said.
“Christians live in great fear, but God is there,” said one area Christian.
The Rev. Yousif Ismail was nearly killed in a bombing when he returned from his mountain hiding place to gather items from his ECS church in Karkaria Kain village, outside Al Atmor, on July 2, according to a local source. His church also had fled to the mountain caves when government forces began shelling the village after taking Al Atmor.
Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.
Thousands of civilians have taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves in South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.
The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.
Sudan’s bombing of civilian targets in the country’s Nuba Mountains May and June killed at least 10 Christians, sources told Morning Star News. Four children and an elderly woman were among the victims of bombings in South Kordofan state as part of the regime’s plan to rid the country of Christians, mostly black ethnic Nuba, in an effort to render it solely Arabic and Islamic, Sudanese Christians say.
Church leaders and aid workers told Morning Star News that Sudan’s bombings of civilian areas in its war with the SPLA-N killed 14-year-old Abdo al Nour and Abdel Rahman Hassan, 15, in the village of Um Serdiba on June 13. In the same area on May 20, according to the sources who requested anonymity, a Sudanese Air Force bombing killed 30-year-old Kimmia Calals of the Sudanese Church of Christ, leaving her nursing child motherless.
On June 17 in Tabalo village, a Sudanese bomb from a Russian-made Antonov plane killed Yasin Salah, 16, and another minor, Ado al Sawaq, the sources said. On June 11 in the same village in Um Dorain County, 80-year-old Amira Ballula was killed when a plane dropped a bomb on her house in the village of Tabalo, they said.
The bombing of civilian targets in South Kordofan state in May targeted the region’s only hospital and damaged an orphanage school and a relief agency, sources said. In Um Serdiba on May 18, Sife El Deen Ibrahim, 40, was killed immediately when a bomb from an Antonov jet hit the Christian’s house, an area church member requesting anonymity told Morning Star News.
Ibrahim left a widow and four children, ages 12, 15, 17 and 20, who were dependent on him for their livelihood, she said.
In Kauda, Antonov planes dropped bombs on the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO), the only humanitarian organization in South Kordofan, in late May, sources said. On May 29, bombing destroyed an orphanage school in Kauda, they said.
Buddhists have carried out a campaign against evangelicals and churches in Sri Lanka warning them to cease their religious activities in majority Buddhist villages.
Ravana Balaya, a radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organization, visited more than 20 evangelical prayer services from July 15 to 19 in Polonnaruwa and told pastors to stop holding services and cease trying to convert Buddhists and Hindus, according to the Venerable Ittekande Saddhatissa Thero, General Secretary of Ravana Balaya.
“We have gotten hundreds of complaints from Buddhists and Hindus that evangelical pastors convert Buddhists to their religion and offer gifts and money to them,” he said. “If the evangelical churches fail to stop their mission, we will take legal action against their prayer centers.”
Thero said that 20 monks and Hindu priests were part of the campaign. “Some of the pastors agreed with us to remove their prayer centers from Buddhist villages, but some opposed the suggestion.”
In the past year, about 60 churches and evangelical prayer centers have been targeted. 120 had been attacked in 2013, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance (NCCA). “Many pastors have been beaten and threatened to halt their prayer meetings,” said Godfrey Yogarajah, General Secretary of NCCA. “People have logged complaints in police stations but it is very rare that culprits are identified,” he said. “Many of the mobs who have attacked prayer gatherings have been led by Buddhist monks,” said Yogarajah, adding that monks have faced no legal repercussions for these acts of violence.
The government launched a special police unit in April to address the rising religious tensions between Christians, Muslims and the Buddhist majority. Pastor O.S. Fernando, president of the Pastors’ Fellowship Group in Polonnruwa, denied allegations that evangelical groups had offered money or gifts to converts or potential converts. “We never convert by force [or] put up new houses to attract the faithful. It’s their own decision,” he said. At least some of the tension has resulted from misunderstandings. “While a pastor was putting up a new house, Buddhists monks had misunderstood that it was a new prayer center and so they lodged a complaint,” he said. “Over 150 people came with Buddhist monks to stop construction of the new building.” “Now the pastor has been given police security,” he said, but added that “many pastors fear to work in the area now.”
In two other incidents, Christians were taken to the hospital after sustaining injuries by a violent mob.
A pastor was knocked unconscious in a raid on his home on 12 May. His family and four other Christians were also attacked. In a meeting with the police about an incident when the four had been threatened for holding a prayer meeting in their home.
While waiting for the police, about 150 people surrounded the house and began shouting at them. 40 people broke through the security fence around the property; attacked the pastor’s van, forced their way into the house and attacking those inside.
When the police arrived ten minutes after the mob dispersed and took the Christians to the police station, held them for seven hours. No attempt was made to apprehend the offenders.
Christians filed a case against their attackers, and a magistrate subsequently reprimanded the police and ordered them to arrest the perpetrators.
In a separate incident, five monks and 20 youth stormed a prayer gathering at the home of a Christian family in Waththegama, Kandy district, on 15 May. Two strangers arrived and requested prayer, but was later found the mob had sent the pair as a set-up.
While a Christian was praying for them, the assailants burst in and attacked the Christians. They dragged the Christian to the Buddhist temple, and drenched her with water subjecting her to a verbal and physical assault. One attacker choked her, threatening to kill her and warning her not to return to the village. A case was later filed against her for unethical conversions.
The Constitution accords Buddhism the “foremost place” and commits the Government to protecting it, but does not recognize it as the state religion. The Constitution also provides for the right of members of other religious groups to freely practice their religious beliefs.
While the Government publicly endorses religious freedom, in practice, minorities such as Christians and Muslims are subjected to violence.
UN experts asked Sri Lankan government to take urgent steps to stop frequent racial and faith-based hatred and violence against Muslim and Christian communities by hardline Buddhist groups.
UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt said.
“Impunity and inadequate response from the police and judicial authorities aimed at protecting the lives, physical security, the property and places of worship of these communities may encourage further attacks and a risk of spiralling violence.”
Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsk said,
“The Government must end the violence and put in place urgent protective measures to ensure the personal security of all individuals belonging to religious minority communities living in the country.”
The Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, called on authorities to take urgent and firm measures to bring the perpetrators of killings to justice, and ensure the immediate adoption of robust protective measures.
Hate statements by Buddhist extremist groups have contributed to spread a climate of fear among Sinhala Buddhists, who constitute the majority population in Sri Lanka, and resentment towards minorities.
John 16….”These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. “These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.…
Mosul Agenzia Fides – The last Christian families still present in Mosul are leaving the city and are heading towards Erbil, Dohuk and other areas of Iraqi Kurdistan which are considered safer.
This is confirmed by sources of the local Chaldean community to Fides Agency. The new exodus has accelerated in the past two days, after Sunni insurgents and militants of the Islamic Caliphate began to mark with letters of recognitionthe homes of Christians and Shiites.
As reported by the website http://www.Ankawa.com, the evacuation of the last Christians is also due to the intensification of the bombing carried out by the military government on many areas of the city, especially at night.
In many villages of the Nineveh Plain, the main emergency is currently represented by the suspension of water supply, made even more unbearable due to high temperatures. GV Agenzia Fides 18/07/2014 via The last Christian families leave Mosul – Fides News Agency.
Today, the call for Christians to leave rang out through loudspeakers throughout the city. The reason, due to the rejection of the bishops to meet the elements of Daash to dictate terms to the Christians, which is to pay tribute or convert to Islam.
Reports claim as Christians are evacuating the city, they are robbed of all their money and possessions by the militants. Some saying they are lucky to get out with their lives. The vast majority of Christian families remaining in the city began to leave and left on Thursday. A notification was posted to leave the city within a period ending by the time of the Friday sermon July 18, otherwise they would be killed.
One of the displaced Christians said, they were to leave by noon on Friday, and prevented from taking any of their property, which was being confiscated by the Islamic state[ISIS,IS]. He added, “At a checkpoint militants forced us to get out of the car, checked our identities and confiscated what we had in cash, my wife and daughter’s jewels, as well as our mobile phones before allowing us to pass.
Please pray for our Iraqi Christian brothers and sisters.
After continued harassment by authorities, family members of imprisoned Pastor Zhang Shaojie were evacuated out of China and are now in the United States. Underground measures were taken by activists, to aid his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter to secretly leave the country, reports China Aid.
Zhang, the pastor of Nanle County Christian Church in the central province of Henan, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of fraud and gathering crowds to disturb public order.
The pastor was detained last November along with 23 other church members after a dispute with local Communist Party officials who they claimed were trying to seize the land on which their place of worship was built, activists say.
Zhang’s popularity prompted other Christians to rally around him and raise their voices to defend religious freedom. Many see the pastor’s treatment as an indication of the Communist Party’s continued and growing hostility towards their church.
Journalists from Britain’s Sky News were attacked and expelled from an area near the court by government officials as they were interviewing Zhang’s daughter and trying to report on the church’s plight last December.
A group surrounded the lawyers, began beating them and yanked their cellphones away. They similarly surrounded and beat the British reporters, even managing to take the crews camera, reported a Sky News correspondant.
Caring Christians had risked their own safety to bring food to the lawyers and journalists who had been detained by authorities.
Attorney’s went to the Nanle County Procuratorate to accuse the local police of nonfeasance and illegally disturbing and sabotaging the lawyers right to practice law.
Zhang’s elderly parents have been threatened and his daughter’s car was confiscated by police. In their efforts to confiscate the Church land, government agencies petitioned the court asking for added time to Zhang’s sentence.
In June, the Chinese security officials blocked the family from leaving the country at Beijing’s airport citing “a national security risk”.
In April, his daughter tried to submit a visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, she was thrown out. However, following her father’s prison sentence on fabricated charges, they were given advance parole authorization by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
China Aid relayed that US authorities authorized the family to enter the country for one year and decide whether to apply for asylum on the grounds of religious freedom.
“Our family and our church want to thank the US government and many anonymous church leaders in different parts of the world for helping assist our family’s hard fought freedom,” Zhang Huixin was quoted as saying in an e-mail.
“Our family comes here to raise awareness of the deteriorating situation of religious freedom in Nanle and in China,” said the pastor’s daughter, Zhang Shanshan.
The First Baptist Church of Midland, (Texas) with more than 6,000 members, will provide support for the family’s settlement.
“Our Texas and Midland community warmly welcome this suffering, persecuted family into the United States for freedom,” Fu of China Aid and Pastor Randel Everett, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, said in a joint statement. “We will continue to pray and fight for religious freedom for the faithful like Pastor Zhang Shaojie. We will not rest until all prisoners of conscience, like Pastor Zhang and attorney Gao Zhisheng, get release from China.”
Why is the U.S. downplaying or denying attacks against Christians?
“What about the churches which were desecrated? Is this not blasphemy? Where is justice?” — Fr. James Channan OP, Director of The Peace Center, Lahore, Pakistan.
Members of the Islamic group al-Shabaab publicly beheaded the mother of two girls, ages 8 and 15, and her cousin after discovering they were Christians. The girls “were witnesses to the slaughter.” — Somalia.
“Christian teaching is extremely harmful to the mental health of the people.” —Kazakhstan.
Five years’ imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines for educators if they…speak to a Muslim child of religions other than Islam. — Brunei
Along with an especially egregious list of atrocities committed against Christian minorities throughout the Islamic world, March also saw some callous indifference or worse from the U.S. government.
President Barack Hussein Obama was criticized by human rights activists for not addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities during his talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is banned.
According to the Washington-based International Christian Concern (ICC) advocacy group, Obama did not “publicly broach the subject of religious freedom” during talks on March 28 with Saudi King Abdullah, despite a letter from some 70 members of Congress urging him to “address specific human rights reforms” both in public and in direct meetings with Abdullah and other officials.
“This visit was an excellent opportunity for the president to speak up on an issue that affects millions of Saudi citizens and millions more foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia,” said Todd Daniels, ICC’s Middle East regional manager, adding that it was “remarkable that the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom” despite pressure from Congress “to publicly address the issue, as well as other human rights concerns, with King Abdullah…”
U.S. officials reportedly responded by saying that “Obama had not had time to raise concerns about the kingdom’s human rights record.”
Separately, after the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) brought together the governors of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister, citing “administrative” problems. The USIP confirmed that all 19 northern governors were invited, but the organization did not respond to requests for comments on why they would hold talks without the region’s only Christian governor.
According to Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer based in Washington, the Christian governor’s “visa problems” are due to anti-Christian bias in the U.S. government: “The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram. It also claims that Christians discriminate against Muslims in Plateau, which is one of the few Christian majority states in the north. After [Jang, the Christian governor] told them [U.S. authorities] that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems… The question remains—why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?”
March’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.
The Slaughter of Christians
Egypt: During pro-Muslim Brotherhood riots, a young Coptic woman named Mary was murdered—simply because her cross identified her as a Christian to Brotherhood rioters. According to an eyewitness who discussed the entire event on the Egyptian program, 90 Minutes, Mary Sameh George was parking by the church to deliver medicine to an elderly woman: “Once they saw that she was a Christian [because of the cross hanging on her rear view mirror], they jumped on top of the car, to the point that the vehicle was no longer visible. The roof of the car collapsed in. When they realized that she was starting to die, they pulled her out of the car and started pounding on her and pulling her hair—to the point that portions of her hair and scalp came off. They kept beating her, kicking her, stabbing her with any object or weapon they could find…. Throughout [her ordeal] she tried to protect her face, giving her back to the attackers, till one of them came and stabbed her right in the back, near the heart, finishing her off. Then another came and grabbed her by the hair, shaking her head, and with the other hand slit her throat. Another pulled her pants off, to the point that she was totally naked.”
Nigeria: A Muslim father allegedly slaughtered or had someone else slaughter his daughter with a machete, wounding a pastor and four others in the attack, because she had earlier converted to Christianity. According to police reports, “the suspect allegedly sneaked into the church premises and inflicted machete cuts on the four persons” seriously wounding them and killing his daughter. Prior to that, the father had threatened his daughter to return to Islam or else, and she had taken refuge in the church. Police had not made clear if it was the father or an accomplice who committed the assault. Separately, Muslim Fulani herdsmen launched another night raid into a Christian majority region, massacring over 150 people, including a pastor, his wife and children; some 200 homes were torched. A surviving eyewitness said that attackers were about 40 in number and were armed with knives, guns and other unidentifiable equipment. They came in the night and began by setting fire to the homes, burning dozens of Christians alive: “Those that tried to escape were butchered or gun down.”
Pakistan: “A young Christian girl was killed by the Pakistani Taliban in the northern region of Pakistan,” reported Agenzia Fide: “The girl had spent a few months on the run and in hiding with her cousin, a Muslim who converted to Christianity a few years ago. Since the conversion, the man is considered an ‘apostate’ and since then he has been the target of the Taliban. In past days, some militants discovered where the two were hiding: the girl in the escape was reached by a bullet and was killed, while the man managed to escape.”
Somalia: Members of the militant Islamic group, al-Shabaab, publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin after discovering they were Christians. According to local sources, the Islamists “called residents to the town center to witness the executions of the 41-year-old mother, Sadia Ali Omar, and her 35-year-old cousin, Osman Mohamoud Moge.” Before slaughtering the two women, an al-Shabaab member announced, “We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya—we want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin [jihadi] area.” The two daughters of one of the women, ages 8 and 15, “were witness to the slaughter, sources said, with the younger girl screaming and shouting for someone to save her mother. A friend helped the girls, whose names are withheld, to relocate to another area,” saying “We are afraid that the al-Shabaab might continue monitoring these two children and eventually kill them just like their mother.”
Attacks on Christian Churches
Egypt: After numerous death sentences were handed out to convicted Muslim Brotherhood members, their supporters protested and rioted in the streets. According to Spero News, “Violence spilled over from demonstrations in the Cairo suburb of Ain Shams when Muslim protesters attacked a Coptic Orthodox Christian church on March 28. Four people were killed in the attack on the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael. Among the dead are a 25-year-old journalist and a Coptic Christian worshipper. When Egyptian security forces intervened, violence spread throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Muslim radicals are frequently whipped up into frenzy by their religious leaders on Fridays when they gather for prayer.”
Kenya: During Sunday worship service, two heavily-armed gunmen entered the Joy in Jesus Church in Monbasa—a region which according to authorities has a mosque with ties to the Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab—and “sprayed the congregation with bullets, killing at least seven Christians and leaving several others in critical condition,” including the assistant pastor, reports Morning Star News: “As the attackers fled Joy in Jesus Church, a box holding 26 bullets dropped outside the church,” indicating that they intended for even more carnage. According to one church leader, “We as the church feel that what happened is a retaliation for the attack [by police] that took place in Masjid Musa Mosque recently. When the Muslims are attacked, there is a false generalization that the Christians are the ones doing it. We as the church became a scapegoat for the recent attack on the mosque.” (This logic is very similar to the barrage of church attacks the Coptic Christians of Egypt suffered in “retaliation” after the Muslim Brotherhood and former president Morsi were ousted during the June 30 revolution.)
Pakistan: One day after Christians placed a cross on a partially constructed church that was being built on a fellow Christian’s land, a Muslim mob “damaged the building and the land by ploughing the ground with the help of a tractor” and “desecrated” the cross, reported The Express Tribune. The chairman of the Human Liberation Commission Pakistan added that “the Christian community was not protected in Pakistan and that they face discrimination at every level.” Discussing this incident Agenzia Fides reports that “when a large group of Islamic extremists saw the Christian symbol [the cross] they arrived unexpectedly with bulldozers and started demolishing the building…. the perpetrators were not arrested, thanks to the political clout they have. Christians in the neighborhood who have asked for protection to civil authorities, on the other hand have received threats and have to abandon the idea of the project to build a church.”
Uganda: In the predominantly Muslim districts of the Christian-majority African nation, “Islamic extremists burned down two church buildings of the Free Church of Christ in February and the home of a church leader” in March, reported Morning Star News. Bishop James Kinyewa, 47, recounted the atrocity: “While I was preaching, I heard loud noise, people saying, ‘Fire! Fire!’ coming from nearby neighbors.” He found “rowdy Muslim youths with clubs and machetes” who prevented him and others from trying to put out the fire from his house. “They were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar [Allah is greater],’” he said. “Now the same militant group is hunting for my life. My family and I are now hiding ourselves, homeless and waiting for God’s intervention.” Everything inside the two razed church buildings, which served a total of 240 people, was destroyed, leaving the bishop to lament, “My church members have no place to worship.”
Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism
Brunei: A new penal code in the Muslim majority nation threatens school principals and schoolteachers with five years’ imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines if they teach or speak to a Muslim child of religions other than Islam. (Future punishments may include amputation and even execution.) According to the new law, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, it is a crime “to persuade, influence, incite, encourage a child with non- Islamic teaching.” It is also a crime to “expose the child to any ceremony or act of worship which is not Islamic or allow the child to participate in activities for the benefit of other religions.” The new law is of especial concern to private Christian schools, where Muslim students attend.
Iran: Vahid Hakkani, a Christian man who was imprisoned and sentenced to 44 months jail-time, after being found guilty of “attending a house-church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign [Christian] ministries” and “disrupting national security,” began a hunger strike in prison to protest the rejection of his conditional release appeal by the Revolutionary Court, despite concerns over his health. Far from rethinking his sentence, according to his family, “prison authorities will transfer him to solitary confinement because he refuses to stop his hunger strike.” Separately, eight more Christians were detained, blindfolded, and interrogated by security forces over their “Christian activities,” said rights activists. Some members of the group had their personal items, including cell phones, confiscated.
Kazakhstan: Christian preaching is “extremely harmful to mental health of the people”: such was the ruling of a law court which led to the sentencing of a Christian pastor, Bakhytzhan Kashkumayev, to four years in prison. According to Agenzia Fides, “the [67-year-old] Pastor, who is responsible for the Grace Church in the Kazak capital Astana was found guilty of ‘causing serious mental disorder’ to a presumed victim Lyazzat Almenova. The Pastor will also have to pay a heavy fine … for the ‘moral damage’ inflicted.” The pastor’s lawyer said that this is one of the “strangest cases he has ever come across, in terms of legality.”
Pakistan: Last March, 2013, after a Christian man was accused of maligning the prophet of Islam he was arrested by police. Nonetheless, thousands of Muslims attacked Christian colonies, burning churches and homes; protesting Christians were attacked by the police, while not one of the thousands of rampaging Muslims was convicted. Now, one year later, the blasphemer, Sawan Masih, has been sentenced to death at a hearing held in the prison cell of the Christian, “out of fears that Masih might be attacked on his way to court.” Separately, two other Christians, a paralyzed, sickly man and his wife, also accused of “blasphemy via sms”—that is, blaspheming via text messaging—remained in prison. According to “World Vision in Progress,” the “judges of the High Court were initially convinced of what was said by the defense. But after pressure from Muslim religious leaders and the threats of extremists in Gojra, the judges denied bail, saying the case will be completed within two months. Radical Muslims had already threatened defense lawyers many times.” Concerning the aforementioned Christian man sentenced to death, Fr. James Channan OP, Director of the Peace Center in Lahore, Pakistan, said the following: “It was a dispute over a matter concerning property. But the Muslim took advantage, finding a shortcut and accused Sawan of blasphemy. The whole world knows what happened next. Over 100 Christian homes of Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, were destroyed, 2 churches burned, Bibles desecrated and Crosses destroyed by an angry mob of more than 3,000 fanatics. The Christians of Joseph Colony still live in danger and fear that the mob might attack again at any time…. After Sawan’s death sentence, I ask myself: where is justice? Why is nothing done against these innocent Christians who have been attacked and have lost their possessions? What about the churches which were desecrated, Bibles burned and crosses destroyed? Is this not blasphemy?”
Uganda: when a 23-year-old Muslim woman converted to Christianity and a neighbor informed her father, “My father began beating me with clubs and blows, and I started screaming in great pain,” she said. “While I was down on the floor bleeding, my father went looking for a knife to kill me. A neighbor named Saleem arrived and helped me escape.” She found lodging from a nearby church and was taken to a hospital the next day.
Bangladesh: The home of a Catholic family was torched and destroyed during the night, and the culprits, according to residents, “could be Islamic fundamentalists.” The family, two women and two children, managed to escape the blaze. According to one of the women, “Three days before the fire we saw some people unknown to us behind our house. They asked around if we were Christians. We feel that this attack was premeditated by them. We have lost in [sic] everything, including our Bible and the crucifix. All we have left are the cloth[e]s on our backs.” A local priest adds: “This is an attack against the minority, and could be the hands of Islamic extremists. They are very powerful in the area.”
Iraq: A Christian politician and member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement “denounced some officials of the Nineveh province after collecting documented evidence on the corrupt system where many properties—land and houses—belonging to Christians change hands in an illegal and secret manner, without any mandate on behalf of their legitimate owners.” He also called on Iraqi Christians who fled their homeland to check the status of the property they left in Iraq and reaffirm their full rights on them.
Pakistan: A March report by Agenzia Fides offers a glimpse of the endemic rape and sexual abuse of Christian girls at the hands of Muslims: “The rape of girls belonging to religious minorities is a very common phenomenon in Pakistan. Christian women are a prime target, because [they are] the most vulnerable and defenseless. The majority of cases are not even reported to the police and, when it happens, the perpetrators of violence often go unpunished. The Christian community is still shocked by the recent case of Sumbal, a 5-year-old Christian girl, raped by a group of Muslim men on a street in Lahore…. Another recent case … concerns a Muslim man from Lahore who attempted to rape two Christian girls, sisters, aged 1 and 3…. A few months ago another case aroused indignation: that of a 9-year-old Christian girl who suffered a gang rape by three young Muslims. Violence against children are committed with ease, explains a source of Fides that assists victims, especially because the perpetrators remain unpunished: injustice fuels the vicious cycle of violence. In 2004, a case that caused uproar around the world was the brutal rape of a-two-year old child Neha Munir raped because her father, Munir Masih, a Christian, refused to convert to Islam.”
Syria: Al-Qaeda linked Islamic jihadis crossed into Syrian territory from the Turkish border and launched a jihad on the Christian/Armenian town of Kessab. Among other things, “Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.” Reportedly eighty people were killed. The jihadis later made a video touring the devastated town. No translation is needed, as the main phrase shouted throughout is Islam’s triumphant war cry, “Allahu Akbar” (which, according to Sen. John McCain, simply means “thank God”). About two-thousand Armenians were evacuated to neighboring areas. While occupying Kessab, the jihadi terrorists desecrated the town’s three Armenian churches.
Turkey: Five men held in prison as suspects in the 2007 “Malatya Massacre”—when three Christian missionaries were tortured to death—were released. The five walked free from their high-security prison because their time in detention while on trial exceeded new legal limits. “It is deeply disturbing to hear that the five men responsible for these brutal murders have been freed on bail, including three who were arrested at the crime scene,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas: “We urge the Turkish authorities to take every necessary measure to ensure they remain in the country to face justice, which has been exceedingly long in coming. This trial has been ongoing for six years with no indication of a conclusion in the near future. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims, to whom the release of these men has dealt yet another blow, no doubt leaving them with a deepening sense of uncertainty as to whether they will ever see justice for their loved ones. For their sakes, the Turkish authorities must ensure that justice is served as a matter of urgency.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.