Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A bomb attack in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Sunday (July 27) killed four Christians and a soldier, sources said.
The bomb was hurled over a fence of St. Charles Catholic Church as parishioners were leaving a worship service, they said; Islamic extremists from the Boko Haram terrorist group were suspected.
“The bomb was thrown by the Boko Haram bomber over the fence behind the church, because the church leadership had mounted a barricade on the entrance of the church,” church member Gabriel George told Morning Star News. “Four members of our church died, and eight others who were injured are in hospital receiving treatment.”
A Christian leader in Kano whose identity is undisclosed for security reasons confirmed that four church members died in the attack on the predominantly Christian quarter of Sabon Gari, where Boko Haram has struck before.
“The attack on the St. Charles Catholic Church here in Kano is a continuing onslaught by the radical Islamic elements of the Boko Haram sect,” he said. “It is unfortunate that we have continued to be at the receiving end of the agenda by Islamists to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.”
Kano state police corroborated accounts, saying the bomb was detonated on church premises, killing four church members, a soldier on duty at the facility, and injuring eight others.
Also on Sunday in the city, five police officers were injured in the course of preventing a suicide bomber outside a university, police said. Hiding the bomb under a long black hijab, or full-body covering, the woman blew herself up after police requested that a female colleague frisk her.
Another bomb in the Sabon Gari area exploded at a bus station on Thursday (July 24), killing a woman and injuring eight other people, police said. Boko Haram was also suspected in that incident. At a public health college in Kano on June 23, a bomb blast killed at least eight people, and a suicide car bomb explosion in Sabon Gari on May 19 killed four people, including a young girl.
While Boko Haram (translated as “Western education is a sin”) is the moniker residents of Maiduguri, Borno state gave the insurgents, the group calls itself the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal–Jihad, translated as “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.” It seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.
The group has links with Al Shabaab in Somalia and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.
Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the plight of American Pastor Saeed Abedini today in his remarks presenting the State Department’s 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom.
In his remarks, Secretary Kerry stated:
In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it. And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Baha’is to Ahmadi Muslims.
So we have a long way to go to safeguard these rights. We also have a long way to go when governments use national security as an excuse to repress members of minority religious groups.
We are thankful for Secretary Kerry’s stated commitment to not just talk about Pastor Saeed’s freedom but in fact “work for it.”
The report itself, a yearly update for Congress on the state of religious freedom across the globe, also mentions Pastor Saeed in several places, explaining the excruciating ordeal that he is enduring:
Christian pastor and dual U.S.-Iranian national Saeed Abedini, detained since September 2012, was sentenced in January to eight years in prison on charges related to his religious beliefs. Officials at Evin Prison reportedly subjected Abedini to physical and psychological abuse during his detention, and repeatedly denied him medical treatment and consular access. On November 3, authorities transferred Abedini to Rajai Shahr Prison, a facility reputed to be overcrowded and with insufficient medical care, placing him in a ward known to house violent offenders. Abedini reportedly remained in Rajai Shahr Prison at year’s end.
The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran, and therefore has limited opportunity to directly raise concerns with the government over its religious freedom abuses and restrictions. On several occasions, however, senior U.S. government officials, including the President and the Secretary of State, raised directly with their Iranian counterparts the case of Christian pastor and dual U.S.-Iranian national Saeed Abedini, who is being held on charges related to his religious beliefs, and called for his release. The Department of State also publicly called for the release of Mr. Abedini and other prisoners held on religious grounds.
September 26, 2014 will mark the two-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s wrongful imprisonment for his faith. Continuing to highlight Iran’s grave violation of his human rights is a critical part of the effort to obtain his release.
On that day, people from all around the world at hundreds of locations are preparing to hold prayer vigils for Pastor Saeed’s freedom. You can learn more about these vigils and how you can participate athttp://BeHeardProject.com/prayer-vigil/Saeed. Also, if you are interested in hosting a vigil, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Hundreds of years before the Muslim prophet began receiving ‘revelations’ around 600AD, the beginnings of Islam, Christians have lived in the Iraqi city of Mosul for nearly 2,000 years.
ISIS militants imposing harsh Sharia law in Mosul (Iraq’s second largest city) gave Christians a 24 hour ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a steep tax in submission, leave, or be executed. Thousands of terrified Iraqi Christians evacuated their homes—many headed towards Kurdistan for protection. Unconfirmed reports claim only 20 Christian families still remain. About 100,000 Christians had resided in the city 10 years ago, but their numbers have diminished as they became targets of Islamic hardliners and ongoing violence.
CT reports the Vicar of Baghdad’ Canon Andrew White who visited the UK over the weekend said an ISIS presence was also in Baghdad. He added, “They just go around and shoot the odd person dead.”
“I can’t do anything. I can’t go and visit my people any more.”
“The only answer is that we stay together, we keep loving each other and loving God, that is all we can do. There is no solution in a place where you cannot even have a government.”
“Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near.”
He called on the British government to do more to help Christians fleeing Iraq.
On Monday, French ministers offered asylum to the thousands of Mosul Christians forced from their homes.
The offer was made in a statement, by Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, who said they were shocked by the persecution of the minority.
“France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness,” the statement said. “We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum on our territory.”
Present-day Mosul encompasses the site of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where, the Bible teaches, the Prophet Jonah preached. Although this is disputed, a tradition holds that Jonah was buried within the city, on Tell Nebi Yunus, or Hill of the Prophet Jonah.
An Assyrian church stood over the tomb for centuries. After the Muslim conquest, the church became a mosque.
Last week, ISIS prevented worshipers from entering the mosque and using explosives reduced it to rubble, as a crowd looked on.
Scholar, Sam Hardy, told the Washington Post that the destruction of the tomb shows that ISIS is willing to destroy “pretty much anything in the Bible.”
The violent jihadist group is part of the Salafi movement, a Sunni branch of Islam trying to cleanse the area of anyone who won’t follow an extreme form of Sharia, Islamic law. The movement rejects the centuries of subsequent developments in Islam as unjustified innovations–pagan accretions that adulterated the faith. The veneration of the tomb is considered by them as a kind of idolatry.
Salafi Islam is widespread in Saudi Arabia, where it enjoys the patronage of the royal family. On the Arabian Peninsula, as now in Iraq, Salafis have destroyed the tombs of Islamic holy men. When the Saudi royal family captured the city of Medina in the 19th century, Salafis systematically destroyed the tombs of several of the Prophet Mohammed’s companions and family members, leaving only the Prophet’s tomb. Some think that the Saudi government plans on dismantling even that tomb, but hesitates to do so because of the uproar it would cause.
The fighting between the Sunni Muslim militant group and the Shia-dominated Iraqi military gives us a glimpse into the wider sectarian war plaguing the country. For years, Sunnis and Shiites have been in disagreement with each other about everything from politics to religion to shares of national wealth, and have fought for power. That infighting is now presenting itself on the frontlines in the form of ethnic cleansing — a crime against humanity punishable under international law.
Ethnic cleansing is not easy to define, especially during wartime. At times, it is indistinguishable from forced emigration and it also merges with aspects of deportation and genocide. A 1993 report to the U.N. Security Council, during the Bosnian war, defined ethnic cleansing as “rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of a given group from the area.”
ISIS, now calling themselves IS (Islamic State) has been instilling fear by executing innocent civilians and sharing the atrocities on video.
Where is the moderate majority of Muslims doing more to stomp out the radical factions of Islam and protect minorities, throughout the Islamic world. To not take on this responsibility is consent of the extreme intolerance and violence and they will see the extremism continue to spread. One day, they too will find themselves forced to join the radicals or face the same type of oppression we’re witnessing today.
Please keep Christians, others being persecuted and the nation of Iraq in your prayers.
By L. Kanalos, Voice of the Persecuted
In a decision that represents a ringing affirmation of the presence of faith in the life of our nation, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the American Atheists’ challenge to including the famed “Ground Zero Cross” in the National September 11 Museum.
While the entire opinion is worth reading, two excerpts were particularly important. First, the court unequivocally rejected the most dangerous aspect of American Atheists’ challenge – the argument that acknowledging the historical importance of faith constitutes improper “religious promotion.” To the contrary, the “accurate account of human history” often “requires reference to religion:”
American Atheists point to no precedent holding that when a religious symbol or artifact with genuine historical significance is included in a public historical display, the actual purpose is necessarily religious promotion. To the contrary, the Supreme Court has long recognized that an accurate account of human history frequently requires reference to religion: “The history of man is inseparable from the history of religion.” Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 434 (1962). Indeed, as Justice Jackson observed in Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948) (Jackson, J., concurring), “it is a proper, if not an indispensable, part of preparation for a worldly life to know the roles that religion and religions have played in the tragic story of mankind. The fact is that, for good or for ill, nearly everything in our culture worth transmitting, everything that gives meaning to life, is saturated with religious influences,” id.
Next, once the display is constitutionally appropriate, it is up to the museum to determine which artifacts to display. It is not up to offended observers to determine how a museum tells the story of our shared history. Here, the court relied on our ACLJ Supreme Court case, Pleasant Grove City v. Summum:
As American Atheists acknowledge, appellees’ choice as to which artifacts to display in recounting the history of the September 11 attacks is a form of government speech. Individuals will generally not be heard to complain that government speech favors one viewpoint over another unless, in the context of a religious discrimination claim, the challenged speech violates the Establishment Clause. See Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460, 467–68 (2009) (collecting cases recognizing that “[i]t is the very business of government to favor and disfavor points of view,” and that a government entity is “entitled to say what it wishes . . . and to select the views it wants to express” as long as its speech “comport[s] with the Establishment Clause”
The ACLJ filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the more than 230,000 members of our Committee to Protect the Ground Zero Cross, a brief that heavily relied on our previous victory in Summum.
The American Atheists will likely appeal this decision, so the case is not yet over, but the Second Circuit’s opinion represents a profound defeat for those who wish to drive faith not just out of the public square, but out of public memory.
We are thankful for this victory for the Constitution, our national heritage, and for common sense.
For more information or how you can coordinate a vigil in your area please visit, 2nd Annual Global Prayer Vigil for Saeed Abedini Planned for September 26th