VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

United with the Persecuted

Archives

45 Christian Refugees arrested in Thailand

Dec. 2015: Child arrested with his mother and brought to court in caged police van. Children remain incarcerated along side their parents.

Dec. 2015: Child arrested with his mother and brought to court in caged police van. Children remain incarcerated along side their parents.

Thai immigration authorities raided and arrested 45 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, including (approx. 22) children, who hold United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) asylum seeker cards. They will be brought to court tomorrow, likely put into the horrific conditions at the Immigration Detention Centre IDC. With only 15 days until Christmas, the entire community is devastated.

After the raid this morning, a Christian asylum seeker shared on social media,

Very sorry to say #UNHCRthailand, that in the end, only Christians are becoming victims of everything. First, you delay their cases for years, then took rushed interviews only to refuse them status. When they raised their voice, you accuse them of being against UNHCR. It is nearly Christmas and today, 45 asylum seekers are arrested yet hold UNHCR cards. For God sake, or on humanitarian basis, save them from going in detention. They are not animals, they are human with the same blood like others. H E L P please

Thailand is considered by many as a popular vacation hot spot. But Pakistani Christian refugees live in constant fear of being arrested by Thai officials and returned to Pakistan. Entire families live packed into a single room in Bangkok’s poorest neighborhoods (slums). The children cannot attend school and spend most of their days indoors. Their parents are unable to obtain a work permit and cannot sustain or feed their children without help. Those who find illegal work put themselves at risk of arrest. Simply going out in public brings the threat of detention. But what choice do they have?

When they arrived in Thailand, they immediately applied for asylum with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). But the UNHCR often takes years to hold interviews and make a decision in their cases. Thailand never ratified the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, so even UN-designees are considered to have no legal status. This also makes them extremely vulnerable, often threatened, abused, used as scapegoats and manipulated. Being illegal, the abuse goes unreported.

Religious freedom for minorities in Pakistan is practically nonexistent.  The World Watch List reports of the 50 worst countries in regards to Christian Persecution. In the 2016 report, Pakistan is number 6.

In the U.S. Commission in International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2016 report concerning Pakistan:

In 2015, the Pakistani government continued to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. Religiously-discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy law and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, intrinsically violate international standards of freedom of religion or belief and result in prosecutions and imprisonments. The actions of non-state actors, [including Terrorist Organizations], continue to threaten all Pakistanis and the country’s overall security.

The report included Christians, along with other minorities, as facing chronic sectarian and religiously-motivated violence from both terrorist organizations and individuals within society. Discrimination against minorities in textbooks, forced conversions, marriages and rape. The report also exposes the government’s lack of concern and failure to protect minorities.

For years, the Pakistani government has failed to protect citizens, minority and majority alike, from sectarian and religiously-motivated violence. Pakistani authorities also have failed to consistently bring perpetrators to justice or take action against societal actors who incite violence.

Due to Pakistan’s failure to implement systemic changes to address egregious religious freedom violations, the (USCIRF) again recommended 2016 that Pakistan be designated a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), as it has recommended since 2002.

Unite with our Pakistani brothers and sisters in your prayers. Help support those suffering in Thailand and consider sponsoring a family. Many feel at the end of their rope.

Many new cases are brought to Voice of the Persecuted. Our mission has been designed to stay along side these families to help them endure. But we are a small mission trying to help in a big crisis. It is heartbreaking to not have the means to care for all those needing aid. Each month, we rely on and ask the Lord to provide as we continue covering those we already care for. To give us the ability to care for families on our waiting list. We ask for His heart for these dear ones who suffer for their faith in Christ Jesus. We pray for more to partner with us in the mission. As they have had to beg—today, we beg for them. Brothers and sisters, we ask for your help to distribute aid to the persecuted suffering in Thailand.

For more information to sponsor a persecuted family in Thailand, contact us at info@voiceofthepersecuted.org

Let us not forget them, nor think as the world, ‘someone else will step up to help’. Let us not regret the loss of even one of these ‘family members’ when there is surely a way to share and provide. But any help you can give is appreciated more than you could ever know.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support.  We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Nigeria: 45 dead and 33 injured in twin suicide bombing

8c35354876cc4ce19cf1b1f12d35a802_18

(Voice of the Persecuted) On Friday, 45 people were killed and 33 injured in suicide blasts when two teenage girls detonated themselves at a crowded market in the northeast Nigerian town, Madagali in Adamawa state.

Yusuf Muhammad, the chairman of Madagali local government said the two bombers were disguised as customers and detonated their suicide belts at the section of the market selling grains and second-hand clothing. He called on the federal government to deploy soldiers to the surrounding areas.

Boko Haram has often forced women and girls to carry out their terror mission through suicide attacks in heavily populated areas. The notorious group is suspected to be behind the Madagali attack.

The town has been subject many attacks and abductions since the military retook the area from the militants in 2015.

The Islamic militant group has terrorized Northeast Nigeria since 2009. Many have been killed and over 2 million displaced. North Nigerian Christians face constant condemnation, persecution and brutal violence. They’ve experienced some of the worst persecution of Christians that the world has seen in the last decade. Please remember them in your prayers.

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters experiencing brutal persecution. Many lived near the town of today’s attack.

We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on orphan-306x4601them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed

 

UPDATE: Turkey jails US pastor on ‘terrorism’ allegations

andrew-norine-99-96

UPDATE (9 Dec.): A Turkish judge sent Rev. Andrew Brunson to prison in Izmir today, 64 days after the US pastor and his wife, Norine, were detained on 7 Oct. under Interior Ministry deportation orders.

Although his wife was released on 19 Oct. and given an extended permit to remain in the country, Andrew Brunson has been held since 20 Oct. at the Harmandali Detention Centre on the northern edge of Izmir.

The 48-year-old was transferred overnight on 8 Dec. to a counter-terrorism centre, before being brought before an Izmir court today (9 Dec.) for interrogation.

The American Protestant heard today for the first time the allegations filed against him, which apparently prompted his arrest and lengthy detention. According to the officiating judge, the “terrorism” charges came from a “secret informant”. The court ruled that the files on Brunson’s case would continue to remain inaccessible to his lawyer, who had not been allowed to meet him until today’s hearing.

According to Norine Brunson, the lawyer confirmed that her husband was accused of links with the Fetullah Gulen movement, which is accused by Ankara of instigating a failed military coup against the Turkish government on 15 July. The pastor is now incarcerated at Izmir’s Sakran 3 Nolu T Tipi Prison.

In a wide-ranging crackdown to identify and prosecute the suspected coup plotters and their sympathisers, with the intention to prosecute them as “terrorists”, the Turkish authorities have suspended or jailed tens of thousands of judges, prosecutors, military personnel, journalists and educators on terrorism charges over the past five months.

Brunson and his wife, who have three children now studying in the US, have lived in Turkey for the past 23 years.

Previous update (20 Oct.)

Turkish police authorities holding an American Protestant couple in isolation for the past 13 days released the wife late last night (19 Oct.), but continue to hold her husband incommunicado in an Izmir detention facility.

Rev. Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine were refused contact with U.S. consular officials and lawyers since they were detained on 7 Oct., under Interior Ministry orders for deportation within 15 days on alleged “national security” grounds. To date, no reason for the expulsion order has been given to the couple, who are 20-year residents of Turkey.

Although initial attempts by members of the Izmir Resurrection Church to send in personal effects to their pastor and his wife were refused, this week officials accepted parcels of fresh clothing and medicine for the couple. But the police would not permit a Bible to be sent on to them.

It remained unclear whether Rev. Brunson would be deported or remain in custody. He was transferred to the Cigli detention centre in the northern part of Izmir this morning.

Original story (14 Oct.):

Turkish officials in the coastal city of Izmir detained American Christians Andrew and Norine Brunson on 7 Oct., refusing ever since to allow daily requests for access to them by U.S. consular officials and lawyers.

According to authorities at the Migration Administration’s detention facility in Izmir, the Turkish Interior Ministry had ordered the couple’s deportation within 15 days. Specifically, the directive reportedly accused them of activities said to constitute a “national security risk”.

When pressed five days later for details about this general accusation, the detention officials said they were “waiting for papers from Ankara” on the case.

Residents of Turkey for the past 20 years, the Brunsons are currently leading the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation averaging 30 to 40 worshippers, located in the city’s Alsancak district.

After filing a routine application in April to renew their residence visas, the Brunsons had received no response for the past six months. But when they arrived home on 7 Oct., they found a written summons requesting them to report with their passports to a local police station. On arrival, they were immediately taken into custody.

A lawyer asking to visit them was denied access and told to obtain an affidavit as his legal authorisation. But when he returned with the document, officials claimed that the couple had already signed a statement, declaring they did not want a lawyer. The authorities refused to produce the written statement.

A lawyer acting on behalf of the Brunsons filed a petition to the Izmir governor yesterday (12 Oct.), protesting that the incommunicado stipulation against the American Christians was illegal under Turkish detention laws. A member of the Turkish Parliament has also made an inquiry on the handling of their detention.

Although an Izmir church leader confirmed that the U.S. Embassy in Ankara is reportedly “following the arrests”, an embassy official declined any comment on the detentions to World Watch Monitor.

After five days, church friends trying to send in a change of clothing to the couple, who are in their late forties, continue to be rebuffed at the detention centre.

A continuing pattern

The Interior Ministry has issued similar summary deportation orders against expatriate Christians living in Turkey over the past few years. But when their lawyers were given official access to their detained clients, as stipulated by law, the directive could be delayed. This allowed a temporary stay of deportation and a formal court appeal.

In such a recent turn-around, Canadian-American Christian David Byle was taken into custody in April, when the Interior Ministry denied his application to renew his residence visa and advised the immigration authorities to deport him as a “danger to public order”.

Byle has worked for years with a registered Bible Correspondence Course, helping educate the Turkish public about the Bible and organising legal street outreaches.

Byle’s lawyer filed three cases against his arrest, deportation order and re-entry ban. All now remain on hold because of the Turkish judicial upheaval, in which thousands of judges and prosecutors have been suspended over allegations of support for the Fetullah Gülen movement, accused of orchestrating the summer’s attempted military coup. But in the interim, until the cases are resolved, Byle continues to live in Turkey.

A similar process took place two years ago, when an American Protestant pastoring in southeast Turkey’s Gaziantep city for nine years was detained in September 2014 for imminent deportation, under Interior Ministry orders. Although Patrick Jensen’s residence permit was cancelled, his lawyer’s intervention shortened his detention to only 30 hours, and a court hearing was set to hear his appeal over the ruling, which Turkey’s Association of Protestant Churches had protested as “absolutely arbitrary”.

The Gaziantep Administrative Court’s judicial decision two months later overturned the Interior Ministry’s order, allowing Jensen to remain in the country.

Ironically, Jensen was refused entry on 27 Aug. when he arrived at the Istanbul airport, returning from traveling abroad. The reason for his blacklisting is still unclear.

Still another U.S. citizen living in Turkey and involved in Christian ministry learned this past weekend while flying out of an Istanbul airport that his valid residence visa had been revoked. It was unclear whether he would be permitted to re-enter Turkey if he returned on his round-trip ticket.

But apparently the option of judicial review is being circumvented in the Brunsons’ deportation, since they have so far been refused the right to any legal counsel to prevent their forced removal from Turkey.

Under Turkey’s current “state of emergency”, declared after the failed 15 July military coup, the government in Ankara has relatively free rein to implement policies and directives which appear to violate the principle of rule of law. Last week the emergency regulations were renewed for another three months, until mid-January 2017.

“They are never going to be happy with any foreigners doing Christian work in this country,” one Turkish church leader told World Watch Monitor. “So we have to take these government actions in proportion, realising there are so many countries in this region where expatriate Christians can’t even go openly.

“There are quite likely touchy issues involved here,” he said, referring to the flood of Syrian refugees and the Kurdish violence in the southeast, where many Christians are involved in humanitarian aid.

So for expatriate Christians involved in church ministries in Turkey, their routine residence visa renewal procedures now appear somewhat tentative.

World Watch Monitor

INDONESIA: Christmas Revival Service Ended After Pressure By Muslim Mob

Christmas Revival Event in West Java shut down by Muslims

Christmas Revival Event in West Java shut down by Muslims

(Voice of the Persecuted)  On Tuesday, VOP began receiving reports regarding a Christmas Celebration Revival Service led by Rev. Stephen Tong at a popular event venue in Bandung, West Java. The service was disbanded after members of two Muslim organizations, the Pembela Ahlu Sunnah (PAS) and Dewan Dakwah Islam (DDI) stormed the event.

Bandung Police spokesman, Commissioner, Reny Marthaliana issued a statement which claimed “the event had been rejected by the two Muslim groups who argued that Christian meetings were illegal in a public space and should only take place in church buildings.

West Java police said technical difficulties and an incomplete permit for the event was the reason behind the aggression. But VOP was informed that the Reformed Injili Indonesia Church had obtained legal permission and all permit requirements to hold the services had been fulfilled, including submitting notifications to the government and police.

Muslim hardliners protest Christmas Revival Service in Bandung, the capital of West Java

Muslim hardliners protest Christmas Revival Service in West Java

After mediation failed between church members, protesters and the police, the event organizers agreed to end the Christmas celebration. As they closed the service, the congregation prayed and began to sing ‘Silent Night’. The hymn appeared to agitate the protesters. Bandung’s Police Chief then took control and stopped the event at 8:30 pm on Tuesday, December 6, 2016. In disappointment, the congregation peacefully left the premises.

Naturally, the Christians fear possible further oppression, but said,

“In Christ, they will face any oppression and encourage each other in prayer following Rev. Stephen Tong lead.”

Indonesian Christians were saddened by the news and took to social media to express their solidarity, pray and encourage one another.

►”We are sad, but we pray God will forgive and touch the heart of the very people who stopped tonight service to understand that Jesus has come to save man from the wrath of God. We will remember the message from our Pastor Rev. Stephen Tong : ‘Christmas is not a day to hate, but a day to love.’ Jesus said in John 3:16 (ESV): For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. You only live once, repent from your sin, believe in Jesus and receive eternal life.”

► “This is proof of the failure of the government of the city of Bandung in protecting the citizens of the country to serve the people who also face intolerance. Proof religious worship is getting difficult. Still give thanks to the Lord no matter what.”

►”I mourn the loss of religious freedom in this country, … a country that is (supposed to be) based on tolerance towards different religions, races and ethnicity. As much as I question the authority’s absence, as much as I long for tolerance and mutual respect, I know I must learn to love and forgive. May God help me. Two things I know for sure though: 1. CHRISTmas is about love, NOT hatred. 2. No one could / should stop any massive Christmas service held at Monas in the future.”

Indonesia’s version of Islam is often described as peaceful, tolerant. For the most part, Muslims in Indonesia are moderate. But in recent years, discrimination and persecution against Christians by hardliners as risen.

Concerns of violence from hardliners increased after protests of Jakarta’s first Chinese-Christian governor, Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama who has been accused of blasphemy. Next week, he will be brought to trial at a Jakarta court concerning the charge. Many believe the charge is not only religious, but also political. Ahok, who had been favored to win, seeks reelection in February 2017.

Christians expressed to VOP,

►”We are now facing oppression from the Muslim community because of the Christian Governor of Jakarta. “Voices of hatred towards the Chinese and Christian people are now increasing thru my country.”

►”There are more and more hardliners Muslim in Indonesia, including some of my high school friends.

►”I also live among Muslims in my neighborhood. I know some of them also include the hardliners. When we talk about Ahok, they seem a bit angry. They don’t want a Christian as Jakarta’s leader. They will do anything to prevent that.”

► “Rev. Tong asked all of us to not have hate in our hearts but to pray for the hardliners”

Indonesia is constitutionally a secular state with Islam being the dominant religion in the country. Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population than any other country in the world. Christians represent seven percent of the population.

The following information was taken from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Indonesia Chapter – 2016 Annual Report

Key Findings

Incidents of discrimination against religious minorities and attacks on religious properties continue to occur in Indonesia, typically isolated incidents localized in certain provinces. Radical groups perpetrate many of these attacks and influence the responses of local government officials when violence occurs. These groups target non-Muslims, such as Christians, and non-Sunni Muslims whose practice of Islam falls outside what the groups deem acceptable. Encouragingly, in 2015, President Joko Widodo, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, and other government officials regularly spoke out against religious-based violence. While such statements are in stark contrast to the previous administration’s open support for radical groups, the longstanding policies and practices that motivate and provide cover for radical groups’ actions against religious communities remain in place and continue to mar Indonesia’s prospects for genuine religious freedom. Based on these concerns, in 2016 USCIRF again places Indonesia on Tier 2, where it has been since 2003.

Background

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country: more than 87 percent of the nearly 256 million population identify as Muslim. While the vast majority of Indonesia’s Muslims are Sunni, up to three million are Shi’a and up to 400,000 Ahmadi. Christians represent seven percent of the population, Catholics nearly three percent, and Hindus nearly two percent. However, in some areas of the country, Christians or Hindus comprise the majority. Indonesia recognizes six religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Smaller segments of the population practice unrecognized faiths, such as Sikhs, Jews, Baha’is, and Falun Gong. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his administration have demonstrated a more inclusive approach toward religious communities, which has helped mitigate some religious-based violence. The government is working on a religious protection bill that is expected to address issues such as houses of worship and the treatment of non-recognized religious groups. Those familiar with drafts of the bill, including Indonesia’s independent National Human Rights Commission, Komnas HAM, have raised concerns it includes problematic language from existing policies and regulations. In the meantime, existing discriminatory policies are still in place.

Last year, after the horric attacks on the Christian community in in Aceh Singkil, a letter from Voice of the Persecuted was hand delivered to Indonesia’s President Jokowi regarding the extreme pressure Indonesian Christians are facing, particularly in Aceh province. view here

  • Please pray for Indonesian Christians and for those in power able to bring justice and laws of protection for those abused.
  • Pray for the spread of the Gospel as Christianity is growing in the majority Muslim populated country.
  • Pray for a safe Christmas in Indonesia.

Female Iranian Christian Prisoner Receives Additional Prison

Photo: Mohabat News

Photo: Mohabat News

Mohabat News – Iranian Christian prisoner, Maryam Naghash Zargaran, who is imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison for her Christian faith, was sentenced to an additional 45 days in prison upon her return to prison on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 from a medical leave.

Read more: Hospitalized Christian Convert Ordered Back to Prison

Prison authorities say she received 45 extra days in prison as punishment for her delay in returning to prison from her leave. She was originally granted a five day leave, which was later extended by a court ruling.

Her family confirmed that while she was on leave, court officials told her to remain out of prison until they reviewed her plea for conditional release. Her plea was eventually rejected and when she returned to prison, prison authorities sentenced her to an extra 45 days in prison for not returning to prison on time from her leave.

Read more: Christian Prisoner, Maryam Naghash Zargaran Granted Medical Leave

Ms. Maryam Zargaran has been in prison for almost three years and four months in the women’s ward of the notorious Evin prison. During her time in prison she has gone on a number of hunger strikes, mainly to demand a conditional release from prison.

Since her imprisonment on July 19, 2013, her family has exhausted all of their options for her release with no success.
Maryam Naghash Zargaran suffers from a number of health problems, including a heart condition known as atrial septal defect (ASD), for which she underwent surgery years ago.

Read more: Iranian Authorities Refuse to Extend Christian Prisoner’s Medical Leave

Conditions in prison have further deteriorated Ms. Zargaran’s health. Mental, as well as physical pressure in prison has caused chronic joint pain in her hands, feet and spinal cord. Medical doctors in prison have diagnosed her with osteoporosis, arthritis and lumbar disc disease.

Victory! Three Men Imprisoned for Christ in Iran Miraculously Set Free

Three Christians from Azerbaijan who spent months in Iran’s Evin prison, one of the worst prisons in the world, are now free.

An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald J. Trump: Pressure Pakistan to Release Asia Bibi

asia-bibi-letter-to-trump-900
Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death for blasphemy after a dispute with her Muslim coworkers. She drank from the same water source they did.

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations on winning the election. We are praying for the success of your administration in bringing restoration and renewal of democracy, freedom and prosperity to the United States, and in taking leadership in critical global issues.

Your recent phone call with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been widely reported in the media. In a statement released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department, you were quoted as telling Prime Minister Sharif, “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”

Mr. President-elect, we appreciate your desire to work on outstanding problems in Pakistan. From our perspective and in the belief of millions who helped you to win the election, one of those issues is Pakistan’s unjust blasphemy law. This law prescribes the death penalty for blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith, as well as for the desecration of the Quran. Christians, other religious minorities in Pakistan, and even Muslims have suffered unimaginable and egregious violations of human rights because of this law.

Many accused of blasphemy are never convicted, but are killed nevertheless, by jihadist mobs.

In addition to the initial problem — that such a law violates universal standards of religious freedom, freedom of speech, etc. — the law is used in a capricious and malicious manner. Accusations of “blasphemy” are most often untrue and no more than a means to inflict harm on a business rival, seize coveted property, or punish someone for being a Christian. But once the accusation is made, the Islamist fervor is ignited. Mobs try to kill anyone associated with the accused person and are known for destroying whole communities of vulnerable Christians. Many accused of blasphemy are never convicted, but are killed nevertheless, by jihadist mobs.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is one of victims of this law. Her case, in our opinion, epitomizes what is wrong with Pakistan’s blasphemy law. In June 2009, Mrs. Bibi was accused of blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad following a dispute with her Muslim co-workers. The argument started because Asia Bibi, a lowly Christian, dared to drink from the same water source as the Muslims. (Christians are treated as second-class citizens in such communities that are dominated by Islam.)

Mrs. Bibi was sentenced to death in November 2010, making her the first woman in Pakistan to face capital punishment for blasphemy. This outrageous verdict was condemned by thousands around the world, including high ranking Pakistani government officials. The Muslim governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, a courageous defender of human rights for people of all faiths, was a vocal critic of the unjust punishment meted out on Asia Bibi. On January 4, 2011, Governor Taseer was brutally murdered by his own security guard for his advocacy for the Christian woman. And on March 2, 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian state-level minister, was gunned down for defending Asia Bibi. His assassination had been preceded by death threats because Bhatti called for reforming Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

President-elect Trump, we understand the complexity of dealing with the blasphemy law in Pakistan. But we also know that your administration can take some practical steps to pressure Pakistan to release Asia Bibi and others imprisoned because of this law.

We urge you, Mr. President-elect, to make pressuring Pakistan to abolish its blasphemy law a matter of priority. The law has emboldened religious extremists and has become a source of constant terror against millions of religious minorities and others in the country.

May God bless you as you build your team and prepare to lead our nation.

With best wishes,

Faith J. H. McDonnell and Darara Gubo

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations on winning the election. We are praying for the success of your administration in bringing restoration and renewal of democracy, freedom and prosperity to the United States, and in taking leadership in critical global issues.

Your recent phone call with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been widely reported in the media. In a statement released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department, you were quoted as telling Prime Minister Sharif, “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”

Mr. President-elect, we appreciate your desire to work on outstanding problems in Pakistan. From our perspective and in the belief of millions who helped you to win the election, one of those issues is Pakistan’s unjust blasphemy law. This law prescribes the death penalty for blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith, as well as for the desecration of the Quran. Christians, other religious minorities in Pakistan, and even Muslims have suffered unimaginable and egregious violations of human rights because of this law.

Many accused of blasphemy are never convicted, but are killed nevertheless, by jihadist mobs.

In addition to the initial problem — that such a law violates universal standards of religious freedom, freedom of speech, etc. — the law is used in a capricious and malicious manner. Accusations of “blasphemy” are most often untrue and no more than a means to inflict harm on a business rival, seize coveted property, or punish someone for being a Christian. But once the accusation is made, the Islamist fervor is ignited. Mobs try to kill anyone associated with the accused person and are known for destroying whole communities of vulnerable Christians. Many accused of blasphemy are never convicted, but are killed nevertheless, by jihadist mobs.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is one of victims of this law. Her case, in our opinion, epitomizes what is wrong with Pakistan’s blasphemy law. In June 2009, Mrs. Bibi was accused of blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad following a dispute with her Muslim co-workers. The argument started because Asia Bibi, a lowly Christian, dared to drink from the same water source as the Muslims. (Christians are treated as second-class citizens in such communities that are dominated by Islam.)

Mrs. Bibi was sentenced to death in November 2010, making her the first woman in Pakistan to face capital punishment for blasphemy. This outrageous verdict was condemned by thousands around the world, including high ranking Pakistani government officials. The Muslim governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, a courageous defender of human rights for people of all faiths, was a vocal critic of the unjust punishment meted out on Asia Bibi. On January 4, 2011, Governor Taseer was brutally murdered by his own security guard for his advocacy for the Christian woman. And on March 2, 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian state-level minister, was gunned down for defending Asia Bibi. His assassination had been preceded by death threats because Bhatti called for reforming Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

President-elect Trump, we understand the complexity of dealing with the blasphemy law in Pakistan. But we also know that your administration can take some practical steps to pressure Pakistan to release Asia Bibi and others imprisoned because of this law.

We urge you, Mr. President-elect, to make pressuring Pakistan to abolish its blasphemy law a matter of priority. The law has emboldened religious extremists and has become a source of constant terror against millions of religious minorities and others in the country.

May God bless you as you build your team and prepare to lead our nation.

With best wishes,

Faith J. H. McDonnell and Darara Gubo

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations on winning the election. We are praying for the success of your administration in bringing restoration and renewal of democracy, freedom and prosperity to the United States, and in taking leadership in critical global issues.

Your recent phone call with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been widely reported in the media. In a statement released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department, you were quoted as telling Prime Minister Sharif, “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”

Mr. President-elect, we appreciate your desire to work on outstanding problems in Pakistan. From our perspective and in the belief of millions who helped you to win the election, one of those issues is Pakistan’s unjust blasphemy law. This law prescribes the death penalty for blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith, as well as for the desecration of the Quran. Christians, other religious minorities in Pakistan, and even Muslims have suffered unimaginable and egregious violations of human rights because of this law.

Many accused of blasphemy are never convicted, but are killed nevertheless, by jihadist mobs.

In addition to the initial problem — that such a law violates universal standards of religious freedom, freedom of speech, etc. — the law is used in a capricious and malicious manner. Accusations of “blasphemy” are most often untrue and no more than a means to inflict harm on a business rival, seize coveted property, or punish someone for being a Christian. But once the accusation is made, the Islamist fervor is ignited. Mobs try to kill anyone associated with the accused person and are known for destroying whole communities of vulnerable Christians. Many accused of blasphemy are never convicted, but are killed nevertheless, by jihadist mobs.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is one of victims of this law. Her case, in our opinion, epitomizes what is wrong with Pakistan’s blasphemy law. In June 2009, Mrs. Bibi was accused of blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad following a dispute with her Muslim co-workers. The argument started because Asia Bibi, a lowly Christian, dared to drink from the same water source as the Muslims. (Christians are treated as second-class citizens in such communities that are dominated by Islam.)

Mrs. Bibi was sentenced to death in November 2010, making her the first woman in Pakistan to face capital punishment for blasphemy. This outrageous verdict was condemned by thousands around the world, including high ranking Pakistani government officials. The Muslim governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, a courageous defender of human rights for people of all faiths, was a vocal critic of the unjust punishment meted out on Asia Bibi. On January 4, 2011, Governor Taseer was brutally murdered by his own security guard for his advocacy for the Christian woman. And on March 2, 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian state-level minister, was gunned down for defending Asia Bibi. His assassination had been preceded by death threats because Bhatti called for reforming Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

President-elect Trump, we understand the complexity of dealing with the blasphemy law in Pakistan. But we also know that your administration can take some practical steps to pressure Pakistan to release Asia Bibi and others imprisoned because of this law.

We urge you, Mr. President-elect, to make pressuring Pakistan to abolish its blasphemy law a matter of priority. The law has emboldened religious extremists and has become a source of constant terror against millions of religious minorities and others in the country.

May God bless you as you build your team and prepare to lead our nation.

With best wishes,

Faith J. H. McDonnell and Darara Gubo

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan in Washington, DC, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007). Find her at theird.org.

Dr. Darara Gubo is a human rights activist working on behalf of the persecuted church, and is the author of Blasphemy and Defamation of Religions in a Polarized World: How Religious Fundamentalism Is Challenging Fundamental Human Rights (Lexington Books, December 16, 2014). Find him at continuetoremember@gmail.com

shared with permission source

If Chip and Joanna Gaines are bigots, then Jesus was, too – Christian leader

Christian couple Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of HGTV's highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.

Christian couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of HGTV’s highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.

DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – Christian leaders are pushing back against a Buzzfeed article that questioned HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines for attending a church that opposes same-sex marriage. The Gaines are the hosts of HGTV’s highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.

The Nov. 29 story quickly was labeled a “hit piece” by critics, who questioned why it was newsworthy that a famous couple’s church holds to traditional beliefs that have been affirmed by Christians for 2,000 years.

The story carried the headline: “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage” and said in a subhead: “whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.” It has been read more than 500,000 times.

Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said such accusations should be answered “bluntly.” READ MORE

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

PRAY UNITED FOR THE PERSECUTED

OUR VOICES CRY OUT FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH IN PRAYER

%d bloggers like this: