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Monthly Archives: October 2013

SYRIA – “In Sadad, The largest Massacre Of Christians In Syria”

People in Damascus show solidarity with the Syrian army and residents of the Christian town of Sadad during a candlelight sit-in in front of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral of St. Georges on Saturday.(SANA/Reuters)

People in Damascus show solidarity with the Syrian army and residents of the Christian town of Sadad during a candlelight sit-in in front of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral of St. Georges on Saturday.(SANA/Reuters)

OCTOBER 31, 2013 – Sadad (Agenzia Fides) – “What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half”: this was stressed by Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, in illustrating to Fides the tragic death toll in the Christian town of Sadad, invaded by Islamist militias a week ago and then re-conquered by the Syrian army.

“45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing. For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women. Some of them fled on foot travelling 8 km from Sadad to Al-Hafer to find refuge. About 2,500 families fled from Sadad, taking only their clothes, due to the irruption of armed groups and today they are refugees scattered between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane, and Al-Fhayle”.

The archbishop continues showing all his bitterness: “There is no electricity, water and telephone in the city. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture. Schools, government buildings, municipal buildings have been destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and the clinic”.

“What happened in Sadad – he says – is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010″.

Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh concludes:

“We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us”.

Sadad is a small town of 15,000 people, mostly Syriac Orthodox Christians, located 160 km north of Damascus. It has 14 churches and a monastery with four priests. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 31/10/2013)

Heathrow Employee Sacked over Alleged Insult to Islam

heathrow-airport

LONDON — Nohad Halawi learned that in today’s Britain, you’d better not be perceived as having insulted Islam at work because it could ruin your life.

Halawi worked the cosmetics counter in the duty free zone inside London’s Heathrow Airport for 13 years. She was by all accounts hardworking and well-liked.

But when Halwai ran afoul of her Muslim co-workers, she was effectively fired.

“I didn’t say anything wrong. I was complimenting a colleague of mine,” she said.

Halawi, a Christian from Lebanon, was having a conversation in Arabic with a co-worker and praising a Muslim colleague when it was misinterpreted by another Muslim employee as an insult.

The False Accusation

“We were talking about something else and I said, ‘Well, everyone is not like you. You are such an “alawi,’ which means ‘man of God’ in any religion,” she explained.

“And unbeknownst to me my accuser was standing quite close by and he just started jumping and shouting and in front of colleagues and passengers and everyone started telling me, ‘You are insulting Islam,'” she continued.

It sounds like a ridiculous accusation, but rumors began to spread among Heathrow’s many Muslim employees that Halawi was anti-Muslim. She was seen as a problem and eventually fired.

But Halawi isn’t anti-Muslim. She is married to a Muslim. She spoke of the embarrassment of having to explain to family and friends that she lost her job because she was a “racist.”

She said “it was all a total lie.”

Halawi is being represented by the Christian Legal Centre, headed by Andrea Williams.

“What happened to Nohad was totally unfair and grossly disproportionate,” Williams told CBN News. “Actually, when you hear what she said, she was not giving offense at all. So, to be perceived to give offense to Allah, to the prophet Mohammed, means she lost the job she had had for many years and now finds herself living in fear of reprisals.”

A Hotbed for Anti-Christian Proselytizing

She also was harassed for being a Christian and heard the name of Jesus mocked by Muslims.

Read More at CBN

Sudan Accused of Helping Muslim Businessman Seize Property from Church

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JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – After months of bulldozing or taking over church buildings on the pretext that they belong to South Sudanese who are no longer citizens of the country, authorities are aiding a Muslim businessman’s effort to take over church property in Khartoum North, sources said.

Sudan’s police and security forces broke through the fence of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church this month, beat and arrested Christians in the compound and asserted parts of the property belonged to the Muslim investor accompanying them, sources said.

As Muslims nearby shouted, “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” plainclothes police and personnel from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Oct. 5 broke onto the property aboard a truck and two Land Cruisers. After beating several Christians who were in the compound, they arrested some of them as well as Pastor Dawood Fadul of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC); they were all released later that day.

Authorities asserted that Muslim businessman Hisham Hamada El-Neel had signed a contract giving him a right to invest in land that is part of the church property. Church members were not told who gave him the contract, and they suspect the government is behind the move, sources said.

The church property is used for conferences, Christmas celebrations and other worship activities.

“This is a serious issue, and we are trying to stop it,” a source told Morning Star News by phone.

With help from authorities, El-Neel has seized part of a building attached to the worship hall and part of the hall itself, said the sources on condition of anonymity.

“Six more parts of the church property will be taken soon by the same Muslim tycoon,” a source said.

Church members in Khartoum North appealed to Christians worldwide to pray for them, saying they have continued to suffer under the Islamic government since South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9, 2011.

sudanese-womanBesides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians (see Morning Star News, July 12).

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

South Sudan’s secession has served as a pretext for Bashir’s regime to bulldoze church buildings formerly owned by South Sudanese and to deport Christians based on their ethnicity, sources said. In a report issued in April, Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians since December 2012. The organization also reported that systematic targeting of Nuba and other ethnic groups suggests the resurgence of an official policy of “Islamization and Arabization.”

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and in April USCIRF recommended the country remain on the list this year.

On June 25 in Omdurman, opposite Khartoum on the River Nile, plain-clothes police raided the SPEC offices in what church leaders called a bid to take over the property. Without permission from government authorities, the officers entered the church compound and chased SPEC pastors and others out of the offices, a Christian leader said.

In apparent interference in church affairs, the officers said they had sided with some church officials in an administrative dispute and therefore were ordering church leaders to leave the premises or face arrest, said the Christian leader, who requested anonymity.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted the crackdown in a statement earlier this year.

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“With the independence of South Sudan, senior Sudanese government officials have called for a more comprehensive and rigid application of Sharia law in Sudan, where southerners who are Christian have been subject to a range of religious freedom violations,” USCIRF stated. “In particular, there have been credible reports of the destruction of churches, refusal to permit construction of new churches and other forms of intimidation and harassment.”

South Sudanese lost citizenship in Sudan and were ordered to leave by March 1, 2012, but thousands have been stranded in the north due to job loss, poverty, transportation limitations and ethnic and tribal conflict in South Sudan. South Sudanese Christians in Sudan have faced increased hostilities due to their ethnic origins – though thousands have little or no ties to South Sudan – as well as their faith.

NJ School District Wages War on Christmas, Bans Carols

children-Christmas-carolesAlliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday to the Bordentown Regional School District in Bordentown, N.J., after administrators decided to ban religious Christmas music during winter concert performances at elementary schools within the district. The letter explains the ban is both unnecessary and unconstitutional.

“Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow students to perform Christmas carols,” says legal counsel Matthew Sharp. “Courts have unanimously upheld their inclusion in school productions—even when songs deal with Christian themes that are naturally a part of the holiday.”

Recently, the superintendent at Bordentown Regional School District made a public statement that “religious music should not be part of the elementary program[s]” and decided to ban any and all religious music in the December concerts the district’s elementary schools normally hold.

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “every federal court to examine the issue has determined that including Christmas carols and other religious music in school choir programs fully complies with the First Amendment.” As a result, the First Amendment requires that the district “remains neutral towards religion and refrains from demonstrating an unconstitutional hostility toward songs with religious origins.”

The letter also explains that “the cultural and educational merits of Christmas carols and other religious songs are well established.” One federal appellate court, for example, “recognized over thirty years ago that there is no constitutional objection to students in public schools learning and performing religious songs ‘presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.’ Music educators, not administrative officials, should choose which choral pieces—secular or sacred—are best-suited to the occasion.”

“Misinformation about the First Amendment is frequently what leads to censorship of constitutionally permissible and culturally significant songs performed during Christmas concerts,” adds senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We urge the Bordentown Regional School District to rescind this new policy and permit religious music to be included among the many nonreligious songs performed at school concerts.”

A December 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 79 percent of American adults believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.

Source

Chaldean Archbishop Writes Open Letter To Western Christians: In The Face Of Persecution

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Mosul, Iraq –The National Review Online reports that The Chaldean archbishop of the Iraqi city of Mosul, Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona wrote in an open letter to Christians in the West that in the face of religious persecution, they must continue steadfast in the virtue of faith.

Since arriving in his episcopal jurisdiction in Jan., 2010, he knew they would face a critical situation with regard to security. Many Christians had already been killed, many forced to leave the diocese. Brutality took the life of a priest, as well as that of a bishop, his predecessor, Paulos Faraj Rahho, found dead in a shallow grave. Both were murdered in extremely gruesome fashion. The day following Nona arrival, murders of Christians in the city began the next day. Extremists killed, one or two people each day for a period of ten days. Many of the Christians left the city and sought the safety of nearby towns and villages, or in the monasteries. Half have now returned.

 The archbishop wrote,
How can we live our faith in a time of great difficulty? What can we do for those who are persecuted because of their faith? To ask these questions means above all questioning ourselves about the meaning of our faith. In order to be able to speak about the time of persecution, Christians must really know their own faith.
What can we do for these people? What can one do for those who are living the difficult life of persecution?
How can we live our faith in a time of great difficulty? What can we do for those who are persecuted because of their faith? To ask these questions means above all questioning ourselves about the meaning of our faith. In order to be able to speak about the time of persecution, Christians must really know their own faith.
These questions tormented me, forcing me to reflect on the right path to follow so I could fulfill my mission of service. I found the answer in the motto of my episcopate — namely, hope. I came to this conclusion: During a time of crisis and persecution, we must remain full of hope. And so I remained in the city, strengthened in hope, in order to give hope to the many persecuted faithful who likewise continued to live here.
Is this enough? No. To remain with the faithful in hope is a crucial start, but it is not enough — there has to be something more. Saint Paul reminds us that hope is linked to love, and love to faith. To remain with those who are persecuted is to give them a hope founded in love and faith. What can we do to build up this faith? I began to ask myself how our faithful were living out their faith, how they were practicing it in the difficult circumstances of their lives every day. I realized that, above all — in the face of suffering and persecution — a true knowledge of our own faith and the cause of our persecution is of fundamental importance.
By deepening our sense of what it means to be Christians, we discover ways to give meaning to this life of persecution and find the necessary strength to endure it. To know that we may be killed at any moment, at home, in the street, at work, and yet despite all this to retain a living and active faith — this is the true challenge.
From the moment when we are waiting for death, under threat from someone who may shoot us at any time, we need to know how to live well. The greatest challenge in facing death because of our faith is to continue to know this faith in such a way as to live it constantly and fully — even in that very brief moment that separates us from death.
My goal in all this is to reinforce the fact that the Christian faith is not an abstract, rational theory, remote from actual, everyday life but a means of discovering its deepest meaning, its highest expression as revealed by the Incarnation. When the individual discovers this possibility, he or she will be willing to endure absolutely anything and will do everything to safeguard this discovery — even if this means having to die in its cause.
Many people living in freedom from persecution, in countries without problems like ours, ask me what they can do for us, how they can help us in our situation. First of all, anyone who wants to do something for us should make an effort to live out his or her own faith in a more profound manner, embracing the life of faith in daily practice. For us the greatest gift is to know that our situation is helping others to live out their own faith with greater strength, joy, and fidelity.
Strength in daily life; joy in everything we encounter along the path of life; confidence that the Christian faith holds the answer to all the fundamental questions of life, as well as helping us cope with all the relatively minor incidents we confront along our way. This must be the overriding objective for all of us. And to know that there are people in this world who are persecuted because of their faith should be a warning — to you who live in freedom — to become better, stronger Christians, and a spur to demonstrating your own faith as you confront the difficulties of your own society, as well as to the recognition that you too are confronted with a certain degree of persecution because of your faith, even in the West.
Anyone who wishes to respond to this emergency can help those who are persecuted both materially and spiritually. Help bring our situation to the notice of the world — you are our voice. Spiritually, you can help us by making our life and our suffering the stimulus for the promotion of unity among all Christians. The most powerful thing you can do in response to our situation is to rediscover and forge unity — personally and as a community — and to work for the good of your own societies. They are in great need of the witness of Christians who live out their faith with a strength and joy that can give others the courage of faith.

psalm 107-13-14

Persecuted North Koreans Pray for American Christians

North Korean Christians

A Surprising Reversal on IDOP Sunday

Christian Newswire– As Americans gather to pray this Sunday (November 3) during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), they should remember Christians in the world’s most persecuted country.

Rev. Eric Foley, CEO of Seoul USA, says instead of praying for members of the North Korean underground church, Americans should pray with them.

“They don’t ask God to deliver them from persecution. They pray they’ll remain strong and faithful in the midst of their suffering.”

Foley says Americans may be surprised to learn that North Korean Christians often pray for people of the USA and South Korea.

“They pray for us because they feel we are persecuted by our prosperity and it distances us from God. They pray that we will remain faithful to the Lord.”

(Persecuted Christians from other parts of the globe have also told Voice of the Persecuted this very same thing. They are concerned for us. Maybe we should really think about this and ask ourselves if this is true in our lives.)

Seoul USA recently obtained exclusive new video of faithful North Korean Christians worshipping inside a North Korean home. The rare, amazing video may appear shocking because the underground Christians shown are not poor. “It means the gospel is spreading among those in the higher classes,” says Foley. (video below)

And China has recently joined NK government efforts (ultimately unsuccessful) to prevent the gospel from spreading inside North Korea by jamming Seoul USA’s Christian shortwave radio broadcasts. “The co‒opting of the Chinese government suggests the North Korean regime feels threatened by these broadcasts,” says Foley.

The North Korean government has tried repeatedly to extirpate Christianity from the country, but the underground church has survived and has overcome severe suffering.

“The NK Christian’s example may help Americans better prepare for the persecution that may be coming soon to the USA,” explains Foley. “Their experience reminds us that a commitment to the four pillars of worship is integral to the Christian life.”

The four pillars are featured in Seoul USA’s 100 Days of Worship campaign that runs through December 31.

  • To arrange an interview with Foley, and to obtain the exclusive NK worship video, contact Tim Dillmuth at Seoul USA. A press kit containing the 100 Days worship booklet and other information is also available on request.
  • A video presenting background on the persecution of North Korean Christians and explaining the 100 Days campaign may be viewed at this link: www.seoulusa.org/100-days-videos
  • Learn more by visiting our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/seoulusa

The ‘100 Days of Worship began on Sept. 23. Sorry to our readers for not posting this before hand. It is not to late to BEGIN TODAY! See more HERE

 

Eritrean Government Imprisons 150 Christians for Praying Together

Eritrea-map

(Asmara, Eritrea  25-10-2013) Release Eritrea, a UK based charity, has learned that Eritrean security forces, raided a prayer meeting and arrested 150 Christians found praying together in Maitemenai, a suburb to the north of Asmara. It is thought that the believers had gathered to pray about the escalating refugee crisis and the trouble in the country that has been of concern to many Eritreans in recent days.

The gathering is said to have been under the auspices of an underground fellowship known locally as ‘Hiyaw Amlak’ (Living God). The fellowship is part of a wide network of underground fellowships that have been in operation throughout the country since 2002, when the Eritrean government shut all churches not belonging to the officially sanctioned religious groups.

Although no details of the whereabouts of all the prisoners have been disclosed officially, friends and families of the detained believe at least some of them are held at the 4th Police Station near an area known as Edaga Hamus in the adjoining district, from where the raid and arrests occurred.

The arrest has alarmed underground church leaders, who fear that this may be a sign of things to come.
  • Eritrea is one of the biggest violators on religious rights, churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran groups are banned their leaders have been under arrest since 2002. Those groups that are sanctioned by the government operate under severe restriction and also suffer from persecution against outspoken leaders. The Patriarch of the orthodox Church disappeared in 2005.
  • It is believed that up to 2,000 Christians are being detained and harassed on the count of their faith, and many leave the country following arrests or harassment.
  • Release Eritrea is a UK based human rights charity working with the underground church in Eritrea and with refugee communities across the region.

Asmarino

Many Egyptians turning to Christ despite violence

Egypt-christian-attack

Egypt (MNN) ― Pro Islamist president Mohamed Morsi supporters took to the streets over the weekend. Thousands took part in the protests in Alexandria, Suez, and other cities calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside.

According to an I.N. Network worker we’ll call David, these protests put his family at risk. David says protestors surrounded his home for 50 days a few months ago. “They consider the area as a holy place, and they try to come back to the area again and again. So the police and the army surround the area. Every Friday there is a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood: they try to come back, and they fight with the army and police.”

While David and his family have had to leave their home for a time, they are safe.

Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the government was sacked, Christians had hoped that would change. But, David says, it didn’t. “They are still creating troubles and problems. The last two months they’ve gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed.”

David says that’s why I.N. Network has established an emergency fund to help survivors of the violence. “Winter is approaching in Egypt. And many families–especially in the south–don’t have enough clothes. They need blankets, so we’re doing a project to distribute blankets.”

While the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news.

“Churches are united together. And, the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time.”

The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned out churches the read,

“‘You burned our church, but we love you.’ So it’s a great message of forgiveness. This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus.”

While Muslims are turning, that’s creating another problem.

“Until now, they find difficulty for security reason to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way. They worship the Lord together, and they’re growing. “

As Muslims come to Christ, they’re uniquely qualified to share the Gospel. “The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims,” says David.

While David isn’t praying for more persecution, he’s excited about the Holy Spirit working.

“It’s always like this. When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior.”

If you’d like to help IN Network with their emergency response fund, click here.

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