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Persecution News Weekly Update – January 28 2013

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American Pastor Saeed Sentenced in Iran

Hell on Earth: Inside Iran’s brutal Evin prison

(FoxNews)- It is known as Evin University, but it’s no school — it is one of the  world’s most brutal and infamous prisons. And barring intervention by Iran’s  religious leaders, it could be the home of American citizen and Christian Pastor  Saeed Abedini for the next eight years. Beatings, torture, mock executions and brutal interrogations are the norm at  Evin prison, where for four decades the anguished cries of prisoners have been  swallowed up by the drab walls of the low-slung lockup in northwestern Tehran.

Standing at the foot of the Alborz Mountains, it is home to an estimated 15,000  inmates, including killers, thieves and rapists. But the prison has also held  ayatollahs, journalists, intellectuals and dissidents over the years, and few if  any who have survived time in Evin could be surprised by claims of torture and  abuse made by Abedini’s supporters. Video/Full Article 

Pakistan Supreme Court confirms decision to drop blasphemy case

Pakistan Supreme Court confirms decision to drop blasphemy case- Rimsha Masih now free; lawyers say she always will be at risk in Pakistan. Praise the Lord for the decision and keep praying for Rimsha’s safety! Read more

Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam

ACLJquote(FoxNews)-A criminal court  in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef  sentenced a mother and her seven children to prison terms of 15 years for converting to Christianity. Read more

U.S. urged to aid Egyptian family facing prison for converting to Christianity

(FoxNews)Supporters of an Egyptian woman sentenced with her seven children to 15 years in  prison for converting to Christianity say the U.S. government must do more to  stick up for her and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Read more

Despite severe persecution, a Historic Christian Revival is taking place in Iran!

Joel Richardson claims daily stories of miracles, supernatural encounters, transformed lives, and baptisms, are reported on a magnificent scale. More Iranians have come to Christ in the past 30 years than in the prior 1400 years combined! The 2013 Operation World prayer manual lists the growth of Christianity in Iran as leading the entire world with approx. 20% annual growth. This means that believers in Jesus Christ in Iran is doubling every four years. Imagine the changes to the region if this revival continues! Read more

A Story Of Persecution From Saudi Arabia

(Open Doors)- Rashid* is a Saudi Arabian student who attended a Western university and surrendered his life to Christ after his roommate shared the gospel with him. Excited about his newfound faith, Rashid returned home and shared the good news of Jesus… with his loved ones. But he chose a public venue to tell one relative about his decision. A bystander reported Rashid to Saudi religious police, who threw him into jail.
Rashid’s cell mate, Tareq*, kept staring at him. At last Tareq spoke: “You’re the man I’m supposed to talk to.” But Rashid shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’ve been just thrown in jail for my belief in Jesus.” Tareq, however, pleaded with Rashid: “In my dreams a man was shown to me. It was your face. You have something to tell me.” So Rashid shared the gospel with Tareq, who eagerly received Jesus into his heart.
Saudi Arabia is ranked #2 on the World Watch List. Source

Gao Zhisheng, in jail for seeking justice

(AsiaNews.it)Before his conversion to Christianity, Gao was one of the “10 best lawyers in China”: his decision to help others – for free and always within the national legislature – prompted the government to stop him, trying delete him from the scene. During his career he has defended unofficial Christians, members of Falun Gong and Tibetan Buddhists. Read more

Iraqi Kurdistan: A Safe Haven for Christians?

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A surge in violence against the Christian community has provoked a mass exodus Photo: AP

(Alan Wisdom)- Iraq’s Christian population has been the target of violence for several years. The Christian community in Iraq has suffered great loss in the decade since the U.S. invasion of 2003. Is there a ray of hope now that Iraq’s Assyrian, Chaldean, Armenian, and other Christians can find a secure future in the Kurdistan region? This was the possibility contemplated at a December 5 conference sponsored by Catholic University in Washington, DC.
Since 2003, Iraqi Christian homes, businesses, and churches have been targets of repeated violent attacks-bombings, shootings, kidnappings, arsons-perpetrated by militias aligned with other religious and ethnic groups. The central government has often been unwilling or unable to provide effective protection. Although other Iraqis may identify the Christians with the United States and its western allies, in fact the Christians have gained little from the now fading U.S. presence. Many have fled the country. Most estimates now place Iraq’s Christian population at less than half of the million-plus that it was in 2003.
Traumatized Christians have also relocated within the country. The predominant flow of refugees has been away from the violence of central and southern Iraq and toward Kurdistan in the north, which had been the historic heartland of the ancient Mesopotamian Christian communities. There the refugees have encountered a somewhat better situation, although not without immediate problems and long-term uncertainties. The questions engaged at the December 5 conference were: To what extent should Iraqi Christians tie their fate to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and support it against the federal government in Baghdad? Should they seek a Christian-friendly enclave in or near Iraqi Kurdistan, or should they aim to integrate themselves into the broader Iraqi or Kurdish society? Or will emigration abroad be their only option in the end? Read more

Syrian women brave 13 checkpoints to attend School of Prayer

“The Syrian ladies bravely took a step of faith to come as they didn’t want to miss the School,” said Ester, the conference leader. “They had to go through 13 checkpoints to get here. At the border they had to wait for a long time and faced many questions.” The conference hosts had hoped that nine Syrian women would come, but in the end, due to the worsening situation in Syria, just four courageous women were able to attend. The purpose of the event was to study prayer and intercession and to equip women to make prayer an integral part of their outreach to unreached women.

Syrian-Christian-women

Syrian Christian women holding Bible, praying together

“God handpicked every woman who was meant to be there!” Ester said. “They were like sponges, absorbing the teaching very well. All the women faithfully and persistently followed the tough schedule of eleven lessons in two days. They also fasted together on the second day. The Syrian ladies said it is worth it to come all the way to be part of the School! Ten ladies responded to the call to be intercessors. They felt that this is what God wants them to be—intercessors who will stand in the gap for their land.” Read their story here

Freedom under threat: Christians in Iran continue to be persecuted by the regime

Together with Joe Benton, Labour MP for Bootle, I visited Turkey in August as guest of Elam Ministries. Elam is a well-resourced, UK-based charity which supports Iranian Christians.

Our visit contributed evidence for the Christians in Parliament report on the persecution of Christians in Iran, published subsequently in October. Iran has a population of 74 million. Nobody knows how many are Christians, but the number appears to be growing fast. Some think it could be as high as 1.5 million. But, along with other religious minorities such as Baha’i, Christians in Iran face severe persecution. We visited Istanbul, where there is a lively Iranian church, and visiting Iranians are offered New Testaments. The people involved told us they are hardly ever refused, and many Iranians are keen to discuss what the New Testament says.

Deep disillusion is common with the version of Islam proclaimed by their own government, and the experience of living under a regime which adheres to it.

We also visited Kayseri, a big and modern Turkish city of around a million people, with an ancient fortress at its centre. In the winter it is a popular ski resort. We visited an Iranian church there, one of numerous churches of Iranian exiles across Turkey. It meets in a modest flat at the top of a low rise block above shops. Read more

Remember The War In Syria?

The Christians are in the most precarious position. There are Christian enclaves but they are scattered around the country and many have been overrun by opposition or government forces.

Elements in the opposition forces have desecrated and burnt churches in the northern half of Syria. Priests have been murdered,  and Christian civilians forced to flee, just as thousands of others have fled in the face of government forces. There is now a slow exodus of Christians which may become a flood if the Islamist side of the opposition to Mr Assad becomes the dominant force in Syria. The aftermath of the Iraq war saw 400,000 Iraqi Christians forced from the country and a similar fate may await their co-religionists in Syria. Read more

Priest requests prayer for Kenya

Al-Shabab (militant terrorist group) has continued its violent insurgency targeting mainly Christians and security personnel.  The Reverend Canon Francis Omondi said: “The targeting of Christians and security personnel is a very worrying trend. Christians should pray for courage in the midst of these pressures.”

He has been championing health and education issues in the region for more than 25 years. He has also been helping grow the church of God within the region. However, he has been taken aback by the recent attacks on Christians. “The Muslim fundamentalists have no respect for denomination,” he said. “They aim to rid Christians from here [along with] the security forces. As a result of this Christians who have not fled live in great fear”.

Canon Omondi reminded Christians around the world about their responsibility during such times of strife and violence. He said:

“Christians around the world ought to pray for us urgently! We need God to change our situation.”

Full story here

Boko Haram Kills 23 People in Nigeria for ‘Disobeying’ Sharia Law

Islamic terrorists suspected to be from the Boko Haram group have  launched another wave of attacks in Nigeria, killing at least 23 people who they  deemed to have been breaking Sharia Law. The two separate attacks occurred on Monday and Tuesday in north-east  Nigeria, and targeted people selling pork, which Muslims are forbidden to eat,  and a group engaged in gambling, which is also against Islamic law, BBC News reported.

Boko Haram has made it their mission to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state  and drive out the nation’s Christians, who make up half of the country’s  population, by any means necessary. In the last few years they have bombed  churches, killed pastors and gunned down close to 1,400 people since 2010. Read more

For Vietnamese Catholics, government using Pope to cover up Religious Persecution

(ICC) The General Secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, visited Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Tuesday in what Christians inside Vietnam are calling an attempt to cover over religious repression in the country. The visit was censored and unpublished in Vietnamese news outlets even though the rest of the Vietnamese government’s official visit to Italy was reported. Catholics point out that a string of recent incidents and a new religion law indicate that religious freedom and persecution is only growing worse in this Communist nation. Read more

East Turkestan: China Denies Family Visits To Jailed Uyghur Pastor

Chinese authorities restrict the family of a Uyghur sentenced for ‘revealing state secrets’ to visits every three months. Authorities in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang have denied permission for the family of a jailed Christian Uyghur to visit him, according to the man’s wife.Gulnur, the wife of 40-year-old Uyghur pastor Alimjan Himit (also known in Chinese as Alimujiang Yimiti), who is currently serving a 15-year jail term on spying charges, was turned away by prison guards after she traveled to the jail to visit him on Wednesday, 23 January.
“I have just been over there, but I wasn’t able to see him,” she said. “I am on my way home right now.” She said the prison authorities had limited her to one visit every three months. “They told me to visit once every three months, and to come back next month,” Gulnur said. “I feel so sad about this, because I thought things were getting a bit better.” Gulnur said she thought the restrictions on visits could be linked to Alimjan Himit’s insistence on continuing with the appeals process. “I still want him to appeal,” she said. “I think he could win.” Alimjan Himit was sentenced by a court in Kashgar to a 15-year jail term for allegedly “providing state secrets to overseas organisations” on Oct. 27, 2009. Gulnur said her last visit to her husband in November lasted just 15 minutes. Read more

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