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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Nairobi blasts kill at least six

“The injuries number 25 — they are in various hospitals — and we have retrieved six bodies,” he said.”

nairobiblasts

The blasts came as people made their way home for the evening, some stopping for a bite to eat.

The attack comes a week after six people died when assailants burst into a church in the Likoni district close to the port city of Mombasa and opened fire on worshippers.

The latest attacks have happened amid heightened warnings of a threat of Islamist violence in Kenya and despite boosted security in major cities.

Read the full article via Nairobi blasts kill at least six – Yahoo News.

Save 26 year old Rayhaneh Jabbari from being hanged in Iran

Rayhaneh Jabbari
Naghmeh Abedini has made us aware of a young woman who is about to be hanged in Iran. As Christians we know that the heart of God is love for all humanity regardless of their beliefs and background. Human Rights Movements, defense of innocent human life (sanctity of life), and equality for all have started with Christians. This is why we see such blessings and freedom in Nations that have been founded on Biblical principles and vise versa (the lack of these freedoms and value for human life) in nations that have rejected the message of Christ. As Christians, we should be at the forefront of defending human life.We ask you to sign this petition and ask others to do so. One human life matters to God. We ask you to pray for Reyhaneh, that she would know the Love of Jesus Christ and be renewed by His Love. As God has placed Pastor Saeed in Evin and then Rajei Shahr prison (and now in the hospital) to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ, that the Lord would also place people in Reyhaneh’s path to lead her to the most fulfilling relationship of all through forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ.

  Rayhaneh Jabbari is sentenced to hang for killing her rapist in self defense in Iran

Reyhaneh Jabbari is at risk of imminent execution for having killed a member of the Iranian intelligence services, Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a physician, who was attempting to rape her. Her execution verdict has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Rayhaneh Jabbari is a 26 six year old woman who has been in prison for the last 7 years and is awaiting imminent execution[ by hanging].

Rayhaneh, an interior designer, was speaking on the phone about her work in a coffee shop, a conversation which was coincidentally overheard by Morteza who approached her for professional advice about renovating his office. They then set a date to meet at his office in order to see and discuss Morteza’s renovation project.

On the day of the meeting, Morteza picked up Rayhaneh in his car. On the way to his office, Morteza stopped at a pharmacy, purchased an item (while Rayhaneh waited in the car), got into the car again and drove to his office. After arriving at their destination, Rayhaneh realized that the place did not look like a work place at all as it was a rundown house. Inside the house, Rayhaneh saw two drinks on the table, Morteza went inside and quickly locked the door from inside, put his arms around Rayhaneh’s waist and told her that “she had no way of escaping”. A struggle soon ensued. Rayhaneh trying to defend herself stabbed Morteza in the shoulder and escaped. Morteza died from bleeding.

Lab analysis showed the drinks Morteza intended to serve to Rayhaneh contained sedatives. Regardless, Rayhaneh was arrested. There she was told by the authorities that the murder had been set up [by them] and was “politically motivated”. Nevertheless, Rayhaneh was tortured until she confessed to the murder, after she was given the death penalty which was upheld by the Supreme Court. As a result she is to be executed at any moment.

An interrogator went to the apartment and made a report. At that time Reyhaneh clearly stated to the investigator that she was innocent, that she had met Morteza for business meeting, and that said she killed him only in self defense to stop him from rape.

“The evening I was there, I knew that he wanted to rape me, so because of self defense I stabbed him and escaped,” she said.

During a meeting concerning the case at the Criminal Court Branch 74, the family of the victim — one girl and two boys — stood up and demanded a “death sentence.”

Reyhaneh explained that she had to defend herself: “

Now, any moment it is possible for her to be hanged. Her crime is self defense and she does not deserve to die. Please do not allow her to be hanged; she is now waiting for our help and support.

NOTE: In Iran men and women, including some minors, face execution everyday for some 131 offenses punishable by death under the fundamentalist Islamic Republic. Some of these crimes include adultery, theft, homosexuality, drug possession and political dissidence. Iran hangs more people per capita than any other country in the world, Since President Rohani’s election; there has been a sharp increase in executions. Trials in Iran fall short of International standards and the majority of those hanged did not even have access to a lawyer, jury, or even evidence.

PLEASE DO NOT LET REYHANEH JABBARI BE HANGED. SHE CAN BE HANGED IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. HELP SAVE HER LIFE. SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION.

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Lunch Lady tells child, ‘You can’t pray’ and ‘It’s not good’

speak-out

 

The Daily Mail is reporting the story of a Florida school lunch room monitor telling a kindergartner that she could not pray before her meal.  An  example of how our rights are being stripped as Christians are singled out every day for practicing our beliefs and the rights that our Constitution gives us.  We need more parents like these to speak out on such incidents.

My wife and I were shocked when our 5-year-old daughter began to tell us that someone on staff at her school saw her praying – told her to stop – and said “it is not good”. This is Kindergarten. She was praying to herself for her food, following the biblical values we are working hard to instill in our children. We are so proud of our little princess and as you can see – we continue to affirm her that prayer IS GOOD and that NO ONE can tell her she can’t pray. No doubt we will homeschool going forward.

We live in the United States of America – the land of the free, yet our traditional values and religious freedoms are under assault. This is just a small example.

Disclaimer: Sorry about the background noise! Our son was practicing drums in his room and we were not planning on this video! Which… also explains her messy hair before heading to bed! 🙂

 

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Supporters Attack Church, Four Dead

coptic church-002

Among other forms of “retaliatory terrorism,” some 80 Christian churches were attacked in Egypt immediately after the June 30 Revolution, which saw the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi.

And now that Egypt has sentenced to death hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters for the widespread terror they launched on the nation after the people’s revolution, the Brotherhood and its supporters are, once again, retaliating by attacking Coptic Christian minorities and their churches.

[On]Friday — the day when Muslims meet for prayers, the day when their imams incite attacks on churches and other forms of terrorism — in Ain Shams, a suburb of Cairo, “Muslim protesters attacked a Coptic Orthodox Christian church on March 28. Four people were killed in the attack on the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael. Among the dead are a 25-year-old journalist and a Coptic Christian worshipper. When Egyptian security forces intervened, violence spread throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Muslim radicals are frequently whipped up into frenzy by their religious leaders on Fridays when they gather for prayer.”

Among other things, the attackers set fire to parked cars and opened fire on the church itself.

According to eyewitnesses, Sameh Merry, a Coptic Christian woman, was “murdered by Muslim protesters when they noticed that she had a small cross dangling from the rear-view mirror of her car. Other witnesses claim that she was killed because she was in possession of a firearm. Coptic Orthodox Bishop Raphael expressed condolences over the deaths.”

It’s certainly plausible to believe this woman was specifically attacked because of her Christian cross.  Anecdotes of Christians being targeted and mistreated because of the cross are many and across the entire Islamic world (see pgs. 84-94 of Crucified Again).  Recent examples can be read here, here and here.

Raymond Ibrahim

VOP Note: The ministry of interior issued a statement saying four people were killed in clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and security forces in Ain Shams in east Cairo on Friday.

Multiple reports can be found that Morsi supporters around the country took part in demonstrations by Islamists opposing the recent decision of former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to run in the upcoming presidential elections.  

The ministry of interior said it arrested more than 100 that day.

Ain Shams, a strong base for the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. In recent months it has witnessed intense confrontations between the supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and security forces.

A journalist from the independent Dostour newspaper, Mayada Ashraf, 22, was among the dead as she was shot covering the demonstrations in Ain Shams.

Also among the dead is a Coptic woman, Mary George, who was reportedly stabbed to death by pro-Morsi supporters in the same area.

It is disappointing that there is little being reported by the Western media, who once again remains silent. It should also be noted that little is said of the Christian factor relating to this story in a majority of reports that have been published.

Coptic Woman ‘Martyred for the Cross’ — ‘Body Torn’

Mary, the latest Christian martyr to be killed in Egypt

Mary, the latest Christian martyr to be killed in Egypt

Ibrahim also reports that

On his Twitter account, Coptic Bishop Raphaeil, who also serves as Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Christian Church, just wrote:

Oh how lucky you are, Mary, you who are beloved of Christ.  They tore your body because of the Cross.  Yet they offered you the greatest service and gave you a name of honor as one who attained the crown of martyrdom.

The bishop also quoted Christ in the Bible, “Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2).

In the above report there are conflicting difference on the reason Mary was murdered.

Ibrahim relays in his report,

It’s clear which version of events the Coptic bishop believes occurred — considering he asserts that she was martyred for the cross.

Incidentally, let us briefly contrast the Christian and Muslim notions of martyrdom.  Koran 9:111 declares:

Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah , so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah ? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.

Even the authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary translates shahid (Arabic for “martyr”) as “one killed in battle with infidels.”

On the other hand, Christian martyrdom has always meant being killed — as opposed to killing — on behalf of the Christian faith.

And this is precisely the definition that for centuries has applied to Egypt’s Copts, till the present moment. You can also read his report here

Kevin Sorbo: ‘God’s Not Dead’ Star Takes Stand Against Christian Persecution

kevin sorboKevin Sorbo plays a militantly atheist professor in God’s Not Dead, but in real life the actor is taking a hard stand against what he believes is persecution of Christians in America.

The actor says there is widespread negativity toward Christians in Hollywood, and believers in general.

Sorbo said he doesn’t think an actors religious or political beliefs should have any bearing on the work they get, but noted that since becoming a more vocal Christian he has seen his roles decline.

“There’s some much bashing going on in the media and world for people who believe in God,” said Sorbo. “I’m just not afraid of the [politically correct] crowd I’ll go right back at them.”

Kevin Sorbo added that there’s a tendency within Hollywood for people to “attack anybody who doesn’t agree their way,” but at the same time demand tolerance for their own beliefs. Read more

Wolf to Obama: Appoint Special Envoy For Religious Minorities In The Mid East & South Central Asia

religious freedom

Mar 27, 2014

Washington, D.C.  – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today called on President Obama to put his words into action and appoint a special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia after telling the Pope during their meeting at the Vatican thatit is central to U.S. foreign policy that we protect the interests of religious minorities around the world.”
In a pointed letter to the president, Wolf wrote that if the Obama Administration can signal its intention to appoint a special envoy to the Arctic region it should be able to appoint a special envoy for religious minorities.  The House has twice passed Wolf’s legislation to create an envoy for religious minorities but the measure has stalled in the Senate, partly because of opposition from the Obama Administration.
“Your administration could act today, consistent with the sentiments you expressed following your meeting with the Pope, in announcing the creation of a special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia and then you could Rep Frank Wolfimmediately begin consulting with the affected communities, including the growing diaspora communities here in the U.S., about a high profile person best suited to take on this monumental task,” Wolf wrote.  “I urge you to put your words into action, lest inaction be perceived as indifference.”
Below is the complete text of Wolf’s letter:
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The President
The White House
Washington DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I read with great interest your public remarks today regarding your meeting with His Holiness, Pope Francis, specifically your comment that you spent a “lot of time talking about what’s happening in Syria, what’s happening in Lebanon, and the potential persecution of Christians,” and “reaffirmed that it is central to U.S. foreign policy that we protect the interests of religious minorities around the world.”
While I agree protecting religious minorities around the world SHOULD be central to U.S. foreign policy, this has sadly not rung true in recent years.  And I think most would agree that there is not simply potential persecution of Christians, and I would add other vulnerable religious minorities, rather there is a very real threat posed to these ancient faith communities throughout the region as evidenced by the discrimination, violence and even death that is a daily reality.
More than three years ago I introduced relatively modest bipartisan legislation that has twice overwhelmingly passed in the House only to languish in the Senate.  The bill would create a special envoy within the U.S. State Department, charged with advocating for vulnerable religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia, precisely the very issue you spoke to today.  It has been widely embraced by an array of faith-based organizations, including but not limited to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.
Consider the following: Cop­tic Christians, once numbering roughly 8 -10 million, are leaving in droves in the face of increased repression, persecution and violence in Egypt.  Similarly, Iraq’s Christian population has plummeted.  Churches have been targeted, believers kid­napped for ransom and families threatened with vio­lence if they stay.   Canon Andrew White, famously dubbed the “Vicar of Baghdad” as he oversees the only Anglican Church in Iraq, was quoted as saying that Christians, “are frightened even to walk to church because they might come under attack.  All the churches are targets… We used to have 1.5 million Christians, now we have probably only 200,000 left… There are more Iraqi Christians in Chicago than there are here.”
And of course this month marks the anniversary of the uprising which eventually spiraled into the war and violence which has terrorized Syria for three years now.  Muslims and Christians alike have experienced horrific violence.  But time and again in my meetings with  Syrian Christians they remark that they fear the fate that befell their brethren in Iraq, where, as already noted, hundreds of thousands have fled after being targeted by rival Islamist groups.  Notably, the Christians of the Syrian village of Raqqa now must endure the additional injustice of dhimmitude whereby those who remain face death, forced conversion or an exacting set of demands which includes bans on renovating and rebuilding churches, a prohibition on the public exercise of their faith and much more.
Christians are not alone.  In Iran, the so-called “Baha’i Seven” languish unjustly in prison.  In Pakistan, violence against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is often met with impunity and basic rights, including the ability to vote, are denied.  And, Anti-Semitism throughout the region is rampant.
The scope of religious persecution around the world, but especially in the Middle East is gravely concerning, and ought to alarm any person of conscience.  I do not pretend to think that a special envoy, as envisioned by the legislation I authored, would single-handedly solve the problem, for it is vast.  But I can say with certainty that it would provide much-needed hope and comfort to communities desperate to know that the United States stands with them.
At various points, your State Department has opposed Senate passage of this bill.  While I would welcome legislative action on the measure, it is by no means necessary for the creation of a special envoy.  In fact, just last month, Secretary of State Kerry announced his intention to name a special representative or envoy to the Arctic region.  Your administration could act today, consistent with the sentiments you expressed following your meeting with the Pope, in announcing the creation of a special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia and then you could immediately begin consulting with the affected communities, including the growing diaspora communities here in the U.S., about a high profile person best suited to take on this monumental task.
I urge you to put your words into action, lest inaction be perceived as indifference.

Best wishes.
Sincerely,

Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress  

 

 

Turkey’s Latest Jihad on Christian Armenians

Turkey-sponsored jihadis pose with Islamic flag in conquered Christian Armenian town of Kessab

Turkey-sponsored jihadis pose with Islamic flag in conquered Christian Armenian town of Kessab

Far from being repentant of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey, under the leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan, is again, like its Ottoman forbear, targeting Armenians; is again causing their death and dislocation.

In the early morning hours of March 21, al-Qaeda linked Islamic jihadis crossed into Syrian territory from the Turkish border and launched a jihad on the Christian/Armenian town of Kessab.   Among other thing, “Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.”  Reportedly eighty people were killed.

The jihadis later made a video touring the devastated town.  No translation is needed, as the main phrase shouted throughout is Islam’s triumphant war cry, “Allahu Akbar” (or, according to Sen. John McCain’s translation, “thank God”).

Eyewitnesses say the jihadis crossed the Turkish border into Syria, “openly passing through Turkish military barracks. According to Turkish media reports, the attackers carried their injured back to Turkey for treatment in the town of Yayladagi.”

About two-thousand Armenians were evacuated to safer areas in neighboring Basit and Latakia.  Several of these families are currently living inside the churches of these towns. Ten to fifteen families with members too elderly to flee remained in Kessab, their fate currently unknown.

Syrian troops launched a counteroffensive, but al-Qaeda linked jihadis “once again entered the town of Kessab, took the remaining Armenian families hostage, desecrated the town’s three Armenian churches, pillaging local residences and occupying the town and surrounding villages.”

Reports further indicate that “the attacks of the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra organization and the Islamic Front was supported with artillery fire from Turkish artillery units.  A Syrian MIG-23 war plane which attended to the operation towards the terror groups was shot down by Turkish Air Forces on 23 March.”

Bashar al-Assad naturally denounced before the United Nations Turkey’s support for terrorists—even as some European leaders, such as Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, were praising Turkey for its supposedly increased democracy and human rights,  and supporting the Islamic nation’s inclusion into the European Union, indifferent to the fact that Erdogan banned Twitter in Turkey after tweets exposed his government’s corruptions.

Nor are Armenians and others missing the significance of Turkey’s role.  In a written statement, the Armenian National Committee-International condemned Turkey’s active role in aiding and abetting Christian persecuting jihadi groups:

For months, we have warned the international community of the imminent threat posed by extremist foreign fighters against the Christian minority population in Syria.  These vicious and unprompted attacks against the Armenian-populated town and villages of Kessab are the latest examples of this violence, actively encouraged by neighboring Turkey. We call upon all states with any influence in the Syrian conflict to use all available means to stop these attacks against the peaceful civilian population of Kessab, to allow them to return to their homes in safety and security. In the last one hundred years, this is the third time that the Armenians are being forced to leave Kessab and in all three cases, Turkey is the aggressor or on the side of the aggressors [emphasis added].

 

On March 24,  Samvel Farmanyan, a member of the Armenian National Assembly, traveled to Syria to meet with Kessab’s dislocated Armenians: “I should say the impression was shocking,” he said.  “The situation is like the one we have read about in textbooks and literature about the Armenian Genocide, in the memories of Genocide survivors….  These are tragic events, which cannot but bring forth obvious parallels with the events of 100 years ago—the Armenian Genocide.”

Video interviews with the recently dislocated Armenians of Syria further document this sentiment.   One elderly man says “We’ve been here 97 years since they slaughtered us in Turkey.  These al-Qaeda ‘rebel’ groups are the grandsons of Abdul Hamid” (the Ottoman sultan who committed the first systematic genocide of Armenians).

Nor were these early massacres limited to Armenians but rather targeted Christians in general.  As one Syrian-American woman points out in writing to me just now: “The Hamidian Massacres (1894-1896) led to the mass exodus of Christians from the Levant to the USA. My grandfather was one of those who fled persecution. His father was shot, by an Ottoman Turk, in front of their ancestral home. Seven children were left fatherless. My grandfather, the eldest son, left Syria, and traveled as an indentured man, through Mexico, to find freedom and safety in the USA. The entire family eventually joined him.”

Such is the continuity and interconnectivity of history.  A century ago, Armenians, to avoid massacre, were displaced by the Ottomans and ended up in places like Kessab. Today, their descendants, to avoid massacre, are displaced from Kessab by jihadis supported by Turkey.

Years, decades, and centuries go by; names, narratives and rhetoric change; utopian ideals and materialistic rationalizations become ubiquitous.  Yet the same story, the same enmity—Turkish to Armenian, or more distilled yet, Muslim to Christian—lives on, even if in different contexts and formats.

by Ray Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). Ibrahim’s dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East—has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former and making him a much sought after expert.

Christian martyrdom is not a thing of the past. For Christians across the Muslim world today, it is the terrible and burning present.

Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians
Reccommended Read Click to purchase

Recommended Read– Click to purchase

In this shocking exposé, Raymond Ibrahim documents the appalling sufferings of Christians from Morocco to Indonesia, from Turkey to Nigeria—everywhere, in fact, that Islamic Sharia and the culture it has shaped hold sway. Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian born and raised in America by Egyptian parents, uses his fluent Arabic, his thorough knowledge of Muslim sources, and his contacts in Christian communities across the Islamic world to uncover the truth about the outrageous abuse Christians undergo on a daily basis and to expose and explain the otherwise unfathomable indifference of Western academia, media, and government to the greatest human rights abuse crisis of our time.

In Crucified Again you will learn:

  • The real source of Muslim violence toward Christians (it’s not about race, nationality, or economics)
  • Why Muslims cannot tolerate Christian worship and Christian freedom
  • The remarkable consistency in the Muslim persecution of Christians across centuries and continents
  • The myth of historical Muslim “tolerance”—and how it got started
  • Why Islamic persecution of Christians is getting worse

This gripping book tells the unreported story of Christians under Muslim oppression with passion and utterly convincing detail.

President Obama and Pope Francis on Mideast Christians

Obama-in-Vaticano

via  clrforum.org

In the Boston Globe, the always worthwhile John Allen analyzes today’s meeting between President Obama and Pope Francis. Although the two men will agree on issues like economic inequality, Allen says, they will likely differ on others, including, notably, Mideast policy.

Pope Francis often highlights the crisis Mideast Christians face; President Obama, not so much. “Few on the Catholic side are inclined to see the Obama administration as a great defender of those Christians at risk,” Allen writes, “while standing up against violent anti-Christian persecution is emerging as a cornerstone of Francis’ social and political agenda”:

On Egypt, Obama took a “pox on both your houses” stance last summer with regard to the Muslim Brotherhood and the army after a military council declared controversial President Mohamed Morsi deposed. The Vatican was more favorable to the military intervention, inclined to see it less as a coup and more as a reflection of popular will.

In Syria, the Obama administration has made the removal of President Bashar al-Assad a precondition for any negotiated end to that country’s civil war, while the Vatican is more skeptical about regime change, in part out of concern that whatever follows Assad might actually be worse.

Underlying these contrasts is that the Vatican’s reading of the Middle East is heavily conditioned by the perceptions of the Christian minorities in these countries, who generally see either a powerful military or strong-arm rulers as a buffer between themselves and Islamic radicalism. They often point to Iraq, where a once-thriving Christian community has been gutted in the chaos that followed the collapse of Saddam Hussein.

Few on the Catholic side are inclined to see the Obama administration as a great defender of those Christians at risk, while standing up against violent anti-Christian persecution is emerging as a cornerstone of Francis’ social and political agenda.

When tomorrow’s meeting wraps up, it’s likely that the statements issued by both sides will be friendly. As US Ambassador to the Vatican Ken Hackett said in a recent interview, “In this kind of high-level meeting, it’s not about making anybody feel bad.”

That said, it’s also not clear that a dramatic “reset” in church/state relations is likely either. It’s more plausible that the relationship will continue to be a complicated ballet, with each side looking to extract what it can get, driven more by strategic interests than any deeper spirit of common cause.

You can read the full article here.

 

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