INDIA-Tarikere, Chikmagalur: – 30-09-2013 – Pastor Hemachandra Hebal, 39, is in charge of a Gypsy Church at Thudipet A.K. Colony at Tarikere in Chikmagalur Distrrict of Karnatraka. He lives with his wife Elizabeth, 35, and three young children, in a rented building which he also uses as his house church, during the last 5 months. He caters to the spiritual needs of his small congregation of 15 believers.
On 22-09-2013 Sunday morning, while Pastor Hemachandra was having his Sunday Prayer Service, some Hindu fundamentalists came to the church and disturbed the service and drove the believers out of the church. They abused the pastor and said that he was forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. The next day, accompanied by some other pastors, Pastor Hemachandra went to the Tarikere Rural police Station and lodged a complaint as to what had happened on the previous day in his church. The police asked him to provide all the necessary details about his believers which he gave them on 25-09-2013.
On 29-09-2013, Sunday morning at about 10.30 AM, when the pastor was conducting his Sunday Worship Service, a group of about 25 radical Hindus attacked the church and stopped the prayer service and beat up both Pastor Hemachandra and his wife Elizabeth and then locked them up in the church along with all the members of their congregation, and then they informed the police alleging them of fraudulent and forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity.
The police came to the spot and shouted at the pastor and then they took both the pastor and his wife to the police station where they were made to sign on blank sheets that they would not continue with their preaching of Christianity and conversion work etc. and that they should vacate the place within 24 hours and if anything untoward were to happen to them, they could not be held responsible for not providing them any protection.
The pastor then visited the Tarikere Government Hospital and got himself treated for the wounds and the bruises which he received when the radicals attacked him earlier in his church. The incident is under investigation by local police.
Please pray for them
CAIRO, Egypt – A group of Muslims robbed two Egyptian Christians living in Libya, then tied up and shot them to death after the two Copts refused their demand to convert to Islam, relatives said.
On a rural road in Derna District in northeastern Libya on Wednesday (Sept. 25), a group of Muslims surrounded Waleed Saad Shaker, 25, and Nash’at Shenouda Ishaq, 27, demanded their belongings and started beating them. During the strong-arm robbery, the relatives said, the Muslims demanded that Shaker and Ishaq recite the shahada, the declaration of conversion to Islam. When the two Orthodox Coptic Christians refused, the group of Muslims tied them up and shot them.
Later that day, a shepherd found Shaker and Ishaq in the desert, and they were taken to Derna Hospital. Shaker was dead upon arrival at the hospital, according to a member of Ishaq’s family who requested anonymity. Gamel Saleem, a cousin of Shaker who saw his body, said the skull had been beaten in. Shaker’s death certificate identifies injuries to his head as the cause of death.
Ishaq initially survived the attack, and before he died he was able to give details about the assault to a relative, also resident in Libya. Escorting the body back to Upper Egypt for burial, the relative relayed the details to Ishaq’s family and the Shaker family.
No one has been arrested in connection with the killings. The attack marks the third time in two weeks that a Coptic Christian has been robbed and killed in Derna District, which along with the surrounding region is known as a hotbed of extremist Islamic activity.
Saleem said his cousin supported an elderly and ailing father, a disabled brother and two sisters.
“His family is emotionally devastated,” Saleem said. “And he was the only financial support they had.”
Ishaq is survived by a wife and two children, ages 6 and 3.
The bodies of both Christians were transported to Upper Egypt and buried on Friday (Sept. 27), Ishaq’s in the village of Al-Ismailia in Minya Governorate and Shaker’s in the village of Dasment Safat Al-Gabl, in Beni Suef Governorate.
Persecution in Libya
Libya has long been a place where Egyptians have traveled in search of economic opportunity. Under the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi, freedom of religion was curtailed but persecution of Christians, especially Coptic Christians from neighboring Egypt, was minor.
After the fall of Gaddafi in the Libyan Revolution of 2011, religious persecution exploded when, in the vacuum left by Gaddafi’s absence, Islamists rose to power in certain places in Libya.
In February, members of an Islamic militia group known as the Preventative Security Unit rounded up eight expatriate Christians in Benghazi – a Korean, a South African, a Swedish-American and five Egyptians – and accused them of proselytizing. On March 10, one of the detainees, 45-year-old Ezzat Hakim Atallah, died while in custody (see Morning Star News, March 14).
Family members in contact with Atallah while he was jailed said he had been tortured and that his death was a result of a heart condition combined with torture, harsh conditions and lack of medical care. The Libyan government claimed Atallah died from high blood pressure.
The Egyptian government, at the time run by the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, also claimed that Atallah died only from medical causes. The Atallah family, however, viewed his body and confirmed signs of abuse. Due to cultural considerations, they declined to have a medical examiner inspect the body.
Another Egyptian detainee, Sherif Ramses, a long-term resident of Libya and an openly active Christian, was said to have the greatest risk of being accused of proselytizing. But by April 19, all those rounded up in the incident had been released. Weeks after his release, Ramses confirmed to Morning Star News that he had been tortured in jail. He declined to give details other than that he had been beaten and subject to electroshock.
While this was happening, Islamists struck hard at Egyptian Christians in Libya. During the week of Feb. 17, Islamists raided the stalls of the Al-Jareed street market, looking for Christians. Several dozen were arrested and taken to a holding camp run by a militia leader, where many were flogged and had their heads shaved. They were forced to stand nude outside in the cold at night and had to sleep huddled together on stone floors.
On Feb. 28 and again on March 14 in Benghazi, the Church of St. Mark was attacked. In the first incident, a priest and a lay worker at the church were assaulted. Someone set fire to the church building during the second attack. The church priest was eventually forced to flee, fearing for his life.
Fox News is reporting that a senior Obama Administration official has confirmed that President Obama has called for the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini in a phone conversation today with Iranian President Rouhani.
The source stated that President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case along with two other Americans directly with the Iranian President. According to the report, President Obama raised concerns about the imprisonment of Saeed and expressed our country’s interest in seeing the American pastor returned to his family.
While Secretary of State Kerry has called on Iran to release Pastor Saeed, this is the first time that President Obama has himself spoken out about the wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen.
On behalf of the Abedini family, we’re very encouraged by President Obama raising the illegal imprisonment of Pastor Saeed. Today’s call is a significant step forward in this critical case.
We’re also grateful to President Obama for raising Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment and call on President Rouhani to put his promise of being “moderate” into action by releasing Saeed without further delay.
Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, responded to the news:
“This is the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago. I am very grateful to President Obama for standing up for Saeed and for the other Americans who are held captive in Iran. This development is truly an answer to prayer. I urge President Rouhani, as I have done thoughout this week, to release Saeed so he can return to our home and our family in the United States. In recent days, Iran has released 80 prisoners being held because of their beliefs. I pray that we can add Saeed to that list very soon.”
Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen, has done nothing wrong and is imprisoned simply because of his Christian faith.
If President Rouhani wants to start a new relationship with the United States, releasing this American pastor, husband, and father now would send an important message to the world.
Over 100,000 people have already written letters to President Rouhani urging Pastor Saeed’s release. Please sign a letter to Iran’s president today.
Saeed’s wife shares with us.
On the day of the prayer vigil, Sec. of State John Kerry discusses Saeed with President of Iran. Today, President Obama calls the Iranian President and asks about Saeed!!!! Coincidence? That this happens as we pray???!!!
Thank you for all of you who have prayed and stood with our family! We are seeing amazing things unfolding!
It reminds me of the widow being persistent in front of the unrighteous judge! Eventually the judge gave her the justice she deserved. You all have been persistent with me and I appreciate it and love you all with all of my heart!!! Thank you Jesus!
Yesterday at the Vigil, we were praying for this to happen! HE moves mountains…TRUST! PRAISE HIM!
The sixth side-event about violation of Human Rights in Iran was held alongside the 24th meeting of United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The focus of this event was on religious minorities in Iran.
The twenty fourth meeting of UN Human Rights Council started on September 9 and continued through September 27 in Geneva,
On September 24, Ms. Attieh Fard delivered a report about Christian Persecution in Iran. In her report, she criticized Iranian judicial system and their treatment towards Iranian Christians’ rights. She stated, Islamic regime of Iran has violated Iranian Christians’ rights over the past years and acted against their national and international commitments.
Her report to the Human Rights Council was mostly around issues of “House-Churches” and official churches.
An overview of the impact of traditional values on Christians in the Islamic Republic of Iran
This report presents the failure of the Islamic Republic of Iran in securing the human rights of religious minorities including Iranian Christians, who live in Iran, by upholding traditional Islamic law and Sharia law through its legislation, judicial system and actions of governing and administrative bodies.
– Constitution and Legislation
The constitution of Iran provides relative freedom for religious minorities including Christians, however, in practice these rights are not upheld for reasons explained further in this report. The constitution through Articles 13, 14, 23, 26, 28, 32 and 38 grants freedom to Iranian Christians irrespective of their ethnic background or language to practise their religion within the law and deal with personal and religious teachings in accordance with Christian doctrine; it requires the government and Muslim citizens to treat Christians and non-Muslims in conformity with ethical norms and to respect their human rights, to respects their private beliefs by forbidding investigation of their belief; to grant them freedom to form societies and participate in related meetings. It also requires the government to provide employment opportunities for all citizens including Christian minorities and to create equal conditions for obtaining employment.
Therefore, the constitution provides freedom for Iranian Christians to form religious societies, which are now incorrectly labeled by the government as “House Churches”, and to attend these gatherings. Similar gatherings are held by Muslims called “Jalaseye Quran” which means Quran sessions. However, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, other religious leaders and government officials have since 2008 publicly called the Christian gatherings as threats to the Islamic tradition, identity and religion and have since taken punitive measures especially against New Christians. These measures have been taken by criminalizing such gatherings and religious activities through the judiciary who are given power by Article 4 of the constitution which states that “All civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political laws and regulations, as well as any other laws or regulations, should be based on Islamic principles. This principle will in general prevail over all of the principles of the Constitution, and other laws and regulations as well.”
The judicial system according to Article 4 of the constitution is based on Islamic principles and in those areas which are not covered by post-revolutionary legislation, judges should act on the basis of their own knowledge of Islamic law; this is to promote and expand Islamic traditions and values in the society; by doing so however, the judiciary has actively infringed human rights of religious minorities including members of both born and converted Christian, Sunni, Yarsan, Dervish, Zoroastrian and Baha’i communities. Judges have repeatedly ruled that those who had converted from Islam to other religions such as Christianity or Bahaism are apostates. This is whilst Iran has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and must uphold the rights of those who change their religion from Islam. Examples of sentences made on apostasy are presented as follows:
• Death penalty: Reverend Hossein Soudmand was executed in Mashhad in December 1990 on the charge of inter alia apostasy
• Imprisonment: Many new Christians have been arrested and detained over the last 6 years. Charges vary and include but are not limited to holding Christian belief, setting up Christian ceremonies at home and evangelising, membership in an illegal group, acting against public security, activities against Islam and cooperating with anti-government movements. Sentences are also different and include but are not limited to deprivation from education and/or imprisonment from 1 year to 10 years.
• Right to family life: Patriarchal judicial approach allows mothers to automatically have custody of their children after divorce only until the child reaches the age of 7. This discrimination is worse for women of religious minorities including Christians. Judges have ruled in several cases including Magda Montazami that Christian mothers are apostate and not fit to raise their children. Montazami was deprived of her right to raise her two year old daughter on this basis.
• Marriage: Christians who are of Muslim background are not allowed to get married in churches and have to conduct Islamic marriage ceremonies. Those couples, whose marriage is treated by the courts as void, could be condemned to stoning or ‘Rajm’ in accordance with the Islamic Penal Code because of adultery.
Governing bodies such as Ministry of Intelligence, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, Town Mayors and the police in protecting and promoting Islamic culture and tradition, have also infringed basic rights of religious minorities as set out below:
• Education and access to the Bible: Bible is not taught at schools to non- Armenian/Assyrian Christians. Even in Armenian schools the Bible is taught mainly by Muslim teachers. It is now more than twenty years that the Ministry of Culture and Guidance has not granted permission to Christian publishers to publish the Bible in Farsi and to distribute and sell the Bible in bookshops. The government confiscated and burnt thousands of Bibles translated in Persian which was distributed in Iran in 2010 and 2011. Officers of the Ministry of intelligence and the police have also closed Bible schools run by the “Kelisaye Markaz”. According to websites linked to the government such actions have been taken to protect Islamic ideology and culture against spread of Christianity.
• Construction and renovation of churches: not only any license to build or run a church has not been granted to Farsi speaking Christians despite complying with all relevant legal regulations, the government reportedly revoked the license of a church in Tehran, obtained pre-revolution, when they realized most members were Farsi speakers. Churches which had obtained a license pre-revolution were not allowed to buy any land in the church’s name. The building of an old church in Kerman which was registered as a national heritage was demolished by the government in 2011. They also closed down churches in various towns which held services in Farsi or Assyrian language, either through a court order or by threatening its leaders; the Assemblies of God church in Tehran, “Kelisaye Markaz”, is an example of the latter.
• Private life: the ministry of intelligence has recently required churches in Tehran to provide National Identity numbers, full names and residential address of their members and have installed CCTV cameras in some churches. These measures are not taken in mosques against Muslims. Furthermore, officers of the Ministry of Intelligence and the police required employers to provide details of their employees who are of religious minorities. In recent years, when authorities raided houses of Christians, they confiscated their money, books, albums, films, Christian icons such as the cross. These measures are against the article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”). Many Christians have also been banned from leaving Iran which is against article 13 of UDHR.
• Hate speeches: Several religious leaders and government officials in contravention of the constitution have publicly made hate speeches against Christians. Especially those labeled by the state as “evangelical Christians”, were affected of these hatred words, calling them deviant, enemies of Islam and Iran.
• Lack of due process: apart from the government, religious families and friends have repeatedly abused Christians in Iran and at times carried out honor killings. The police however have repeatedly failed to carry out investigation and prosecution of the criminals.
• Justice: religious minorities have fewer rights than their fellow Muslim citizens in cases of murder and inheritance. Converts, in particular those who are considered as apostates, cannot inherit from Muslims whereas Muslims can inherit the estate of non-Muslims who are “apostates”.
• Social discrimination: Several harming traditional views are held by the general public in Iran. For example the members of Christian, Jew, Zorastrian, Baha’i and all other minority religious communities are regarded as “Najes” meaning dirty, and religious people should not shake hand with them, touch them, or eat their food. Non-Muslim food sellers such as Armenians were required to put a notice outside their shops to state they belong to religious minorities so that Muslims do not buy from them. Such segregation in a society which is promoted by the rules and regulations has caused many Muslim people to regard Christians as non-Iranians and outsiders.
In conclusion, it is evident that protection of Islamic traditional values and laws through the legislative, judicial and governing system of Iran is over and above protection of human rights of individuals including religious minorities such as Christians specially those who are not from Orthodox Armenian or Assyrian background as they are regarded as threats to Islamic values and identity. It is proposed that the Islamic Republic of Iran should put in place, policies and legislations that would protect the human rights of minorities instead of regarding them as a threat.
Pakistan Minority Alliance Sindh Youth President Condemns Church Attack, Calls for Immediate Government Action
Pakistan Minority Alliance sindh youth president, Stanley Ghouri tells VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED that he highly condemned the act of barbarism at the All Saints church in Peshawar, Pakistan. Mr. Stanley Ghouri. has given a clear message to the Federal Govt. and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Govt. that such incidents are not acceptable in the future. He urged the Govt. to make proper security plans for all Churches, Temples and Mosques including the Missionary Institutes.
He demanded the Govt. apprehend all those who are responsible for the brutal killing of innocent people and deal them with iron fist. He demanded also an urgent release of those who have had been detained by police during the protests. He urged the Govt. to move all patients in critical and serious condition to Islamabad to save their lives. He suggested that the Govt. include Minorities representation in All Pakistan Conference to review the steps of dialogue with the Taliban.
Please lift up to God all victims of this attack and the country of Pakistan and all Pakistani Christians enduring constant persecution! Father give the them strength to endure. May they know they are not forgotten and to be bold in the Gospel and not fear! In the name Jesus, we pray.
Islamic Republic of Iran
Sept. 23, 2013
Dear President Rouhani,
I have been watching with great concern about the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen who is currently a prisoner in your country. He was in Iran working to build an orphanage when he was arrested and later sentenced to eight years in prison. His situation has been receiving an increasingly high level of attention in the United States. Unfortunately this publicity has been entirely negative for Iran, with the belief that the primary reason for Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment was because of his Christian faith.
As you may know, as a religious leader I have often spoken (both publically and also privately with our national leadership) about the need for greater understanding and peace among the nations of the world. As you come to the United States this week for the U.N. General Assembly in New York, it is my sincere hope that ways may be found to reduce the current tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The announcement on Monday that your country has freed 80 political prisoners is very encouraging. I fear, however, that the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, may further harm the already fragile relationship that presently exists between our two nations.
On September 26, the one-year anniversary of Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment, thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities, calling on your country to release this husband, father and servant of God. I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions.
Click here to see the original letter.
We CAN help save this man’s life, but it must be done in UNITY! Tomorrow, September 26, 2013 join thousands across the world in speaking out and praying for Pastor Saeed Abedini and others persecuted and imprisoned for their Christian faith.
Chained for Christ
More Than Conquerors
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39
Find a Prayer Vigil near you CLICK HERE
Thankful for my sweet sister in Christ for sharing this!
I have received an email from a Brother in Christ. I can not post it here, for security reasons. I can’t really give any information except that they are following God’s plan for their lives, and witnessing and converting others to Christ. When I read the Letter, I cried. I cried tears of Joy for the testimony of how others most specifically Muslims are coming to Christ! I cried for the pain of their testimony of persecution including torture and death, at the hands of Muslim Militants. I cried with tears of shame, that I would grumble about my problems when these dear brothers and sisters face hunger, condemnation, torture and even death. They are facing this at this very minute. This very minute some of them are being tortured and killed, all because they believe in Christ, and are trying to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and use them for the harvest.
Matthew 5:14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.’
Jesus expected His church to be this shining light on a hill. A light that could not be hidden or extinguished. If you were told that if you didn’t denounce Christ, you would die! What would you do? Would you run, would you hide your light? What would you do? These Brothers and Sisters are faced with this daily, hourly and they let their light shine brighter! Pastor Saeed Abidini is a prime example of this, he is in the worst prison in Iran because of His belief in Christ, and instead of curling up, hiding his light, like they want, he has brought 30 people into the Body of Christ. Praise God! But think about it for a minute. If your family told you ‘I will kill you if you follow Christ’ or if you were sitting in church one day, when masked men with guns, machetes or any other weapon busted through the door and said who is Christian!? You will die, how would you react, would you stand proudly and announce that you are Christian, or would you run and hide?
This is real!! This is really happening!! They are facing great tribulation, persecution, torture and death. This is not a conspiracy theory, or something that is made up. This is real!! And the Bible say’s this evil will overtake the whole world.
All these Brothers and Sisters want is our prayer’s and words of support! They want prayer for the starving children, they want prayer for protection, they want prayer for their basic needs like clothing, shelter to be realized.
It’s time for the church to take off it’s blinders and pay attention!
So Christians, lets make some noise and let these Brothers and Sisters know that we are sending much love, prayer and encouragement their way. When Stephen was faced with death by stoning, he looked up and said: ‘Look I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’