Egypt, (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Christian is in critical condition after he, his mother and brother were stabbed in Egypt on Sunday night (Nov. 17), according to media reports.
The Muslim assailant in a village in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate told them that Christians must not sit outside before attacking them, leaving the adult son in critical condition at a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with several wounds to the stomach, according to media reports.
Area residents told Egyptian news media that a non-Christian with a criminal reputation assaulted the family members with a dagger at about 10:30 p.m. after arguing with them as they sat in front of their house in Nassiriya village, near Beni Mazar. Beni Mazar is 219 kilometers (136 miles) south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River.
The residents said the argument started when the assailant, identified only as Ali M., walked by the family members as they sat in front of their house and began shouting for them to go back in, saying no Christians were allowed outside. A Facebook post identified the assailant as a Muslim named Ali Eid Morsi; the post has since been removed.
When the adult son, identified as Shinoda Aziz, objected and stood up to the assailant, the suspect retrieved a dagger from his home, returned and attacked him, according to the area residents. When his mother started screaming, the assailant started stabbing her in the head and also attacked the younger son, cutting his face, they said.
Al Mowatna News reported that news anchor Osama Eid confirmed the attack. The news outlet added that the assailant is known for involvement with drugs and prostitution.
The family reportedly told police the assailant intended to kill them.
Security forces in Minya have reportedly arrested the suspect and are questioning witnesses.
An area source told Morning Star News by phone that the village is tranquil. The area was said to be predominantly Coptic Christian in the country that is about 90 percent Muslim.
Egypt ranked 16th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
(Voice of the Persecuted) My dear prayer warriors, the moment Jesus came into my life, my heart completely changed. All I could do was cry for joy. I was breathing so hard and my heart felt like it would explode. I’ve never known such a love. I cried out to Jesus, that was all I could do. As He was revealing Himself to me, I kept calling His name, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! On that precious day, I decided to give my life to Him. It was 1993 and I knew then I would never turn back.
It was shortly after that I heard the precious hymn, ‘I Have Decide to Follow Jesus’. That hymn so resonated with my heart for Christ, it was as if the song was written for me to sing.
I had never heard the story behind it. One day, Blane Scogin, founder of Persecution Watch (PW), shared the story with all of us on the prayer conference call for the persecuted Church. Again, my heart started to beat uncontrollably like that day when Jesus came into my life. I knew then that God was calling me, showing me a purpose in my life, to be a part of the weekly PW call to pray for my brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they have chosen to follow Jesus.
THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG “I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS”
Dear believers, we all have a purpose in Jesus. We all have been commended to pray for one another and those who are persecuted for His sake. Tonight, you are welcome to join me in prayer for the persecuted as the Holy Spirit leads you.
In Christ love,
Nadia Dybvik and Merlaine Smokes, Prayer Team Moderators (PW/VOP)
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also serves as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ.
Meet you on the call!
(Morning Star News) – A Christian in Iran convicted of conducting evangelistic activities began a mandated two years in exile this month in a remote area on the border with Pakistan, sources said.
As part of a larger prison sentence delivered in 2013, Ebrahim Firoozi, 33, was sentenced to two years in exile in Sarbaz, a frontier town on the Iranian-Pakistani border known for its isolation and prevalence of Islamic militant groups.
The sentence, which will expose the convert from Islam to extended periods of danger and isolation, was meant to keep him “from having a positive influence on people and to stop him from fellowshipping with the people in the Tehran area,” a source at advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) told Morning Star News.
Released from Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj on Oct. 26, he was ordered to report to Sarbaz following a brief period to order personal matters.
Firoozi, whose mother died while he was in prison, arrived in Sarbaz on Tuesday (Nov. 12).
Having found housing in “a remote desert town out in the middle of nowhere,” he was said to be looking for work.
Firoozi n August 2013 was convicted of charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” “launching and directing evangelism” and “running a Christian website” He was sentenced to a year in prison and the term of exile.
While serving the prison sentence, Firoozi faced a second trial where he was sentenced to an additional five years for “crimes against national security,” “participating in illegal gatherings” and “colluding with foreign entities.”
Court Hearing Delayed
A hearing of an appeal by a group of Christians with prison sentences as long as 15 years was postponed without reason Wednesday (Nov. 13).
The delay was one of several in the appeal process for the Christians. In February a judge who was later unseated for corruption inexplicably combined a case involving a pastor’s wife with two longstanding appeal cases against other Christians. The three cases were delayed in September when the judge declined to show up.
Although delaying court cases is a common method to harass Christians charged with or convicted of crimes of belief, a researcher at MEC who requested anonymity said some of the delays surrounding the three cases could be due to court confusion about why the third case was combined with the earlier two. No date has been set for a new hearing.
The first case involves an Assyrian pastor, Victor Bet Tamraz, and two converts from Islam, Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi; all were arrested at a Christmas celebration in December 2014.
The second case also involves Afshari, as well as Hadi Asgari, from a 2016 arrest during what was essentially a picnic.
In the third case, Pastor Tamraz’s wife, Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, was summoned by authorities in June 2017. Pastor Tamraz was sentenced the next month to 10 years in prison for “acting against national security.” Afshari, Agsari and Mohammadi received prison sentences of between 10 and 15 years on similar charges.
For charges of “acting against national security,” and “acting against the regime by organizing small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies,” Shamiram was sentenced in January 2018 to five years in prison.
Iran was ranked ninth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria on early Thursday morning (Nov. 14) hacked an 87-year-old Christian to death by machete and killed another by gunshot, an area resident said.
A group of herdsmen attacked predominantly Christian Agom village in southern Kaduna state’s Sanga Country at 4:30 a.m., area resident Gabriel Yakubu told Morning Star News by text message. Monday Kura, 87, and Emmanuel Agom, 48, both members of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC), were killed as they slept in their rooms, he said.
“The Fulani herdsmen cut Monday Kura, 87 years, with a machete until he died, while Emmanuel, 48 years, was shot dead with a gun,” Yakubu said. “Sir, we need your prayers as my village is on fire and we are not getting any protection from the government.”
It was the first herdsmen attack on the village, which is four kilometers from the town of Gwantu, he said. The ERCC church is the only church in the village, he said.
The attack could not be immediately confirmed. Agom is located along Wasa Station Road, west of Gwantu, between Kwana Nunbu and Gani Sarki villages, he said.
Sanga County was the site of a Muslim Fulani herdsmen attack on March 16 that killed 10 Christians and burned about 30 houses. That attack also occurred as residents of Nandu Gbok village were sleeping.
The assault followed other attacks in southern Kaduna state that took the lives of 130 Christians.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Qamishli, Syria (Agenzia Fides) – The funeral of an Armenian Catholic priest, Hovsep Hanna Petoyan [also known as Father Hanna Bidu], and his father, Hanna Petoyan, took place this morning in Qamishli. The two were attacked and killed on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019 by unidentified gunmen as they traveled southbound from Hasaka province to Deir ez-Zor, in the north-east of Syria. Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo told Agenzia Fides Boutros Marayati,
“For us they are martyrs. And what happened to them is a confirmation that the war is not over here, as we had hoped”.
The funerals of the priest and his father were celebrated in the Armenian Catholic Church of St. Joseph, in the presence of priests, religious, and faithful of all the Christian communities present in the area. Father Antranig Ayvazian, Episcopal Vicar of the Armenian Catholic community of Upper Mesopotamia and northern Syria presided over the funeral liturgy.
Father Hovsep, 46, was married and a father of three children, ordained a priest 5 years ago, was the priest of the Armenian Catholic community of Qamishli, in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassake. Archbishop Marayati to Fides,
“In the city of Qamishli, many Christian refugees also fled from Deir ez-Zor, when that city was devastated by war. He also carried out his pastoral work among them, and for a long time he also followed the projects implemented with the help of international groups to rebuild the church and the houses of the Christians in Deir ez Zor, destroyed by the war. For this reason he went to Deir ez Zor every two weeks to check the progress of the work. He had already carried out six trips to that city so dear to the memory of the Armenians, where there is the shrine of the martyrs of the genocide, also devastated during the conflict”.
At the time of the ambush, the priest and his father were travelling together with an Armenian deacon – wounded during the assault – and another person. The two killers had their faces covered and fled after the ambush. The priest’s father died immediately. Father Hovsep, wounded in the chest, was brought to a clinic in Deir ez Zor and then transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Hassakè, where he arrived already lifeless.
The city of Deir ez Zor is controlled by the Syrian army, but in the area there are also Kurdish forces and US military still operating. In the sub-district of al-Busayrah, an area where the ambush occurred, armed groups affiliated to the self-styled Islamic State (Daesh) are also concentrated, who yesterday claimed responsibility for the gunning down of the Armenian Catholic Priest and his father (but stating, erroneously, to have eliminated “two priests”). “The car in which the priest was traveling there was the inscription of the Armenian Church”.
Syrian state TV SANA called the killing of the Armenian Catholic priest and his father “martyrdom”, while the Kurdish media presented the resurgence of bloody attacks attributable to Daesh as an indirect consequence of the Turkish military intervention in Syria, which forced Kurdish militias operating in the area to review their strategies and suspend military operations against jihadist cells still present in the north-east of Syria.
According to the Kurds of the Rojava Information Center, Daesh jihadists allegedly carried out 30 attacks in the first ten days of November, with a 300 percent increase from their activity levels compared to the period prior to the Turkish military initiative in Syrian territory.