As the year rounds of with celebrations and expectations for a great year ahead, the leader of the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram, have contorted a new kind of promise to the list of savage acts: Decapitation, Amputation and Mutilation. Abubakar Shekau appeared in a new video. READ MORE
Canada adds Boko Haram on terrorist list
Boko Haram has waged an insurgency in Nigeria for four years.
The government of Canada has announced that it has listed Boko Haram as a terrorist group under its criminal code.
This follows the November decision of the United States government to designate Boko Haram and it’s splinter group, Ansaru, as foreign terrorist organisations.
A statement released by the Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Steven Blaney, said Canada has listed Boko Haram and The Caucasus Emirate (a group in Russia) as terrorist groups. READ MORE
Kidnapped in November, his hostage ordeal over! Catholic priest Georges Vandenbeusch is heading home from Cameroon’s capital to France after over a month in captivity.
Reports from Iran indicate that five Christian converts from a house-church in eastern Tehran were arrested during a Christmas celebration. Iranian Christian converts face constant restrictions and persecution.
In a report published by Mohabat News, we learn Iranian security authorities raided a house owned by Mr. Hosseini, where a group of Christians had gathered on Christmas Eve. Those arrested are Mr. Hosseini , Ahmad Bazyar, Faegheh Nasrollahi, Mastaneh Rastegari, and Amir-Hossein Ne’matollahi.
The report stated: “These Christians had gathered to worship and celebrate birth of Jesus.”
The NCRI, a Foreign Affairs Committee of Human Rights in Iran reported that security forces and plainclothes agents raided the residence, arrested the Christians and seized their books, CDs, computer laptop and satellite receiver. Adding in their report that “security forces also raided the neighbor who was watching the scene and threatened him to keep silent.
Mohabat News reported that the authorities had searched the neighbors house, insulted and beat the father of the family and then warned them not to speak with anyone about what they had witnessed. Excessive and an extreme form of intimidation.
There is no update about the whereabouts or condition of these arrested Christians.
Iran has intensified their pressure and threats against Christians. And during the last few Christmas seasons, intimidation and surveillance of churches has increased.
In the past few years Christian converts have been arrested or faced other persecution during the Christmas holiday. A large number of Christians converts were arrested in Tehran as part of pre-organized attacks by government authorities.
Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, sent Pope Francis Christmas greetings while his government continues to harass Iranian Christians and restrict their freedom.
As we who are free to worship and celebrate the birth of Christ openly and in joy, the threats by the Iranian Islamic regime makes this season a different experience for the faithful in Iran. Be grateful and do not take the rights we’ve been given for granted. We must do all we can to ensure those rights are not taken away. We must also remember those who are being oppressed for their faith in Christ.
As persecution rapidly spreads, sitting idly by while our brothers and sisters suffer extreme abuse is inexcusable. Stop being a part of why it continues. We must use our VOICES to advocate and speak out against these atrocities. We must inform others so they too can join us and will learn of this under-reported humanitarian crisis. Ask your elected officials what they are doing to combat the war against Christians. Demand straight answers for a solution. We can make a difference! If we don’t do something about this now, do not be surprised when it is at your door!
Known as the land of poetry, Pakistan is a complex blend of old and new. Though the nation has only been officially recognized for a few decades, ancient ties connect it to a religious and historical background thousands of years older than the country itself. Home to the oldest university in the world, Taxila, and dozens of distinctive cultures scattered through the various tribes in the Karakoram mountain range, Pakistan is a unique fusion of diverse customs and unity through a predominantly shared Islamic faith.
In spite of its rich culture, Pakistan is a poor nation with bleak economic outlooks. An estimated thirty-five percent of the people live below the poverty line, and children are often pulled out of school to work in order to supplement family income. Substance abuse is considered the greatest social issue in Pakistan, closely followed by low literacy rates and government corruption. In 2006, the Pakistani government was forced into an agreement with Islamic extremists which gave the militants complete control over numerous territories and allowed the development of Taliban-run schools. These extremists now control almost seventy percent of the country.
With most of the country controlled by Islamic fanaticism, Christians live in a constant reality of abuse, abduction, rape, and murder. Pakistan, the second-largest Muslim nation, is located near the center of the unevangelized world. Outside of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan has the greatest concentration of Islam with over ninety-five percent claiming themselves as followers. Bible translation is exceptionally difficult, and only seven of the seventy languages used in Pakistan have a completed New Testament. Christians and Muslim background believers living in secret struggle to forgive the injustices they are experiencing at the hands of those who do not know the Lord. May the Lord’s peace prevail in the uncertainty of Pakistan and strength be with those who spread the gospel.
(Morning Star News) – Government and church officials in Iraq refuted initial claims by police that bombs in southern Baghdad targeted Christians, saying no worshippers leaving a nearby church were hurt.
A car bomb that went off near St. John Catholic Church in the Doura area of Baghdad on Dec. 25 as worshippers were leaving Mass targeted a market, not the church, according to Interior Minister spokesman Saad Maan. News portal RT reported that Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church Bishop Louis Sako also said the church was not the target, and that none of the departing worshippers were injured.
Police had initially reported that the blast killed 27 worshippers after the Christmas Day service, and that another bomb detonated in a market in the city’s Christian area left 11 people dead, according to press reports. RT reported that the church attack did take place in a Christian area and that most of the 26 people killed were Christians.
Two other roadside bombs in an outdoor market in the Doura area did kill 11 people and wounded 21 others, according to RT, noting that Maan’s statement contained the conflicting information that those blasts killed 35 people and injured 56 others.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemned the violence, according to CNN, saying in a statement that Christians in Iraq have suffered terrorist attacks for many years, along with other Iraqis.
“The United States abhors all such attacks and is committed to its partnership with the Government of Iraq to combat the scourge of terrorism,” according to the statement.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni Muslim extremists from Al Qaeda have targeted Iraqis Christians, according to Reuters. Two Christian security guards were wounded in a June 25 church attack in Baghdad, and in 2010 an Islamic extremist attack on Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church in the city killed 58 people.
Thousands of members of religious minorities have fled the country in the past 10 years, with the Christian population dropping from about 1.4 million to fewer than 500,000 today.
Different faiths distributed Red Roses and Christmas Cards at the Churches of Rawalpindi and Islamabad city
Keeping in view the importance of Religious tolerance and interfaith harmony volunteers belonging to different faiths in Pakistan distributed red roses and Christmas cards at the Kahtoon-e-Fatima Church Islamabad and Philadelphia Pentecostal Church Rawalpindi.
The volunteers were the students from different universities of Pakistan. In the Early morning the volunteers reached at the Churches and at the end of Christmas services, they greeted the Christians Nationals of Pakistan on this very special day and presented red roses to them.
The volunteers said that the people belonging to different faiths and sects are integral part of the society where we are living today. The constitution of Pakistan protects freedom of all faiths existing in the country. We cannot make our society peaceful until we will not accept the differences among us and tolerate each other’s opinion.
The students were wearing T-Shirts with “I respect all the religions”. When the whole country is facing the wave of religious intolerance and extremism, Church administration and fellow Christians appreciated this gesture of love from these young students and served Christmas Cakes to them.
The volunteers also distributed flowers and cards at Nawaz-Shareef Park in Rawalpindi where Christian families were enjoying their day. On the question of media reporter from a private TV channel the volunteers said that we want to distribute the message of peace and diversity among the different segments of our society.
By arranging such events at public places we can create awareness in the public that together we are strong and diversity is the actual beauty of our society.
by Syed Haider Abbas for Christians in Pakistan
Copts in the village of Tarshoub, Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, are experiencing intimidation after extremists attacked them on Monday. Aggressors threw stones at Coptic homes, burned a tuk-tuk truck owned by a Copt named Magdy Fathi Rizk and a store owned by Badr Maher.
They also destroyed the fronts of some houses and called for the closure of the church, which dates back more than 40 years in the village.
Father Malak Shehata from the Fashn Diocese told Mideast Christian News that the village of Tarshoub has been served by Father Andrawis, who moved to serve in another location. When the Fashn Diocese delegated a new priest to serve in the village and Copts tried to prepare a residence for him in the church, some Muslims gathered and refused to let the priest enter the church. This was led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the village.
During a reconciliation meeting held yesterday to resolve the situation, the Brotherhood members mobilized the villagers to attack the homes of Christians and prevented the priest from entering the village. They closed the church and Copts could not practice their prayers.
A witness from the village said that they had prayed in the church for many years and there was no problem with their Muslim neighbors until a new priest was ordained. When Copts started to furnish a residence for the priest in the church, a Brotherhood-associate named Ramadan Wahballah mobilized his supporters to reject the reconciliation meeting, which was held to resolve the situation.
They chanted against Copts during the meeting and began to throw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Coptic houses, disrupting the meeting. Copts were forced to close the church and the priest has returned to the Fashn Diocese until the crisis is resolved.
The witness added that they are getting close to the New Year celebrations and Christmas, and yet they are not able to open the church. He noted that security authorities have not arrested the aggressors, while Copts were forced to close the church for fear of more attacks, especially in light of continued incitement by the Muslim Brotherhood.