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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Czech Aid Worker, Sudanese Pastor and Darfur Christian Sentenced to Prison in Sudan

Czech aid worker Petr Jasek, Rev. Hassan Abdurahim Tawor

Czech aid worker Petr Jasek, Rev. Hassan Abdurahim Tawor

(Morning Star News) – A judge in Sudan on Sunday (Jan. 29) sentenced Czech aid worker Petr Jasek to life in prison and two other Christians to prison terms of 12 years on charges related to “espionage,” a defense attorney said.

“Petr Jasek was imprisoned for life,” attorney Muhanad Nur told Morning Star News.

Along with the life sentence for espionage and waging war against the state, Jasek was also sentenced to six months in prison for spreading false rumors undermining the authority of the state (“spreading false news aimed at tarnishing the image of Sudan”) and a fine of 100,000 Sudanese pounds (US$16,000) for working for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Sudan without a permit. He was also sentenced to one year in prison each for inciting strife between communities, entry in and photography of military areas and equipment and illegal entry into Sudan.

In Prague, the Czech Foreign Ministry said the verdict was without basis, according to The AP. It reported that a deputy foreign minister will travel to Sudan to try to negotiate Jasek’s release, and that the foreign minister is prepared to go also if necessary. The Foreign Ministry said Jasek was in Sudan only to help Christians.

Also on Sunday, the court in Khartoum convicted the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor and Abdulmonem Abdumawla of Darfur for assisting Jasek in the alleged espionage, causing hatred among communities and spreading false information, Nur said. They received 10-year sentences for espionage-related charges, and two years of prison for “inciting hatred between sects” and “propagation of false news.” The sentences are to be served consecutively. (more…)

How an Iraqi Assyrian Teenager Survived Two Years in the Heart of the ISIS ‘Caliphate’

Jandar Nasi, a 54-year-old Christian Iraqi who fled ISIS-held Mosul with her son. ( Sam Tarling/PRI)

Jandar Nasi, a 54-year-old Christian Iraqi who fled ISIS-held Mosul with her son. ( Sam Tarling/PRI)

(By Richard Hall www.pri.org) Ismail al-Kanon had been held captive for more than a year, and threatened with execution more times than he cared to remember. But this time was different.

The people who held him, ISIS fighters, found in his possession a picture of Jesus and two small crosses. They took the items away, burned them, and told him he would be beheaded if they found any more.

Ismail could tell they were serious this time. So he took his last cross — the only one they hadn’t found — and hid it very carefully in the back of a cable receiver box.

“When I left it there, I told myself the cross is not just around the neck, it’s in the heart,” Ismail, 16, says.

It was a small act of defiance — an attempt to retain a part of himself. It was also a symbol of hope. He was telling himself that one day he would be back to collect it. That he would survive. (more…)

Fifth murder of an Egyptian Copt in two weeks

Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan. Photo courtesy of Ishak's family

Ishak Ibrahim
Fayez Younan.
Photo courtesy of Ishak’s family

The murder of another Coptic Christian in Egypt, this time in the centre of the capital, makes this the fifth death over a 13-day period.

Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan, 37, was found dead by his brother on 16 January, at Ishak’s flat in the old part of Cairo. He leaves a wife and two children, 10 and 12.

His death, reported to be by his throat being cut, bears similarities with the deaths of other Coptic Christians over a two-week period. Each had their throat cut, while money and other valuables were left behind – even though police had said robbery was the motive behind at least one of the murders.

Younan was murdered in the flat he rented while he worked in a factory supplying soft drinks to supermarkets. His wife and two children were at the family home in El-Sheikh Zaied, a village in Upper Egypt.

Family Christmas

His brother, Magdy Younan, told World Watch Monitor that Ishak had just returned to Cairo to work after a week’s holiday to celebrate the traditional Coptic Christmas – 7 January – and a family wedding. “It was his first visit to the family in two months,” Magdy added.

Ishak travelled back to Cairo on 12 January, visiting Magdy on the way to his own flat. He took him a food package – a traditional Upper Egyptian gift – from their parents because Magdy could not visit them during the Christmas break.

Ishak’s wife phoned him on 13 January to check everything was OK since his return to Cairo. That was the last time she spoke to him. She tried calling his mobile telephone over the following three days but never got an answer.

“She was very worried about him because it was the first time they hadn’t spoken for that long,” said Magdy.

She asked Magdy to visit the flat to see what was wrong. “I headed to Ishak’s flat with our brother-in-law,” he said. “When we got there, the door was locked. We knocked loudly but no one answered. (more…)

Pakistani politicians initiate debate to amend the blasphemy law

 

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(Agenzia Fides) The debate to amend the controversial “blasphemy law”, composed of the articles of the Penal Code that punish with life imprisonment or the death penalty insults against Islam has begun in the Pakistani Senate. It was Muslim Senator Farhatullah Baber, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party and representative of the Special Committee of the Pakistani Senate on human rights, to introduce the theme to look for ways to stop the abuse of the law.

The new attempt to discuss the matter in Parliament comes a decade after parliamentary Minocher Bhandara, a Zoroastrian, presented in 2007 a bill with amendments to the blasphemy law. The proposal was immediately blocked by the then Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sher Afgan Niazi, for fear of offending the feelings of Muslims, appealing to the principle that “no law should contradict Islamic law”. (more…)

Persecuted Christian family suffering in hardship asks for prayer

Pakistani Christian asylum seeker children suffer in Thailand

Pakistani Christian asylum seeker children suffer in Thailand

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5

(Voice of the Persecuted) Since the time of the 1st century Church, persecution and suffering for bearing the cross for Christ has never stopped. In fact, it has increased drastically since death of the first martyr, Stephen.

2017 World Watch List top 10 nations persecuting Christian

2017 World Watch List top 10 nations persecuting Christians

Pakistan is notoriously famous as a breeding ground for radical terrorism. Sporadic targeting of Pakistani Christians has made life miserable for the innocent. Over the years, rising persecution has claimed thousands of lives and continues to hang as a sword of Damocles over those who practice their faith in one of the world’s most hostile environments. According to the 2017 World Watch List, Pakistan ranked above Syria and Iraq as the 4th worst place to live as a Christian.

Youhanabad, a Christian colony in Lahore, Pakistan, was attacked by the Taliban in 2015. Worshippers were killed after 2 suicide bombers struck at 2 churches crowded with hundreds of church attendees.

This attack dramatically changed the lives of one family who were forced to flee their home and stay in hiding.

The persecution against Adnan’s family began after the 2015 suicide attack in the Christian colony where they lived. They had attended an early church service that day when terror engulfed their community. A suicide bomber detonated near the Church which curtailed the lives of at least twenty Christians and wounded dozens of church attendees. In an interview with the family, Adnan told Voice of the Persecuted,

“When we heard the blast, I asked my family to keep themselves in hiding. Fearing it was very close to where we live, I went with my brother to check the situation. We saw fragments and traces of blast, even human flesh and body parts scattered all over the area. It was horrifying. We saw angry victims and their loved ones running after the accomplices of the bomber and were beating them to stop them from escaping. Eventually, they were caught and badly beaten by the deeply upset and agitated Christians.”

Next day, the scenario was an extremely opposite of what was expected. Based on the footage taken by the media, the victims’ family members who caught the terrorists (who succumbed to their injuries) and those visible at the time of incident were now considered perpetrators and criminals.

“My brother and I were one of those who were seen in the footage and thus my brother went into hiding. But later, he was arrested and even now is still in jail.” He further explained, “Taunted by this, I feared most for the safety of my wife and two sons who at that time were only 3 and 1 years old. My wife had to leave her job as a teacher and as did I, a security guard at the bank.”

With any hope of living free quickly fading, they believed there was no choice but escape to Thailand to save their lives. Filled with hope and the dream of no longer living in terror, they arrived in Bangkok to seek asylum in September 2015. They were excited to start to new life strong in their faith, openly as true Christians without fear. However, things were not easy as expected. Fear and the safety of their children had brought them to another oppressive situation in Bangkok. Adnan, his wife and children are one of thousands of Pakistani Christian families hoping to gain asylum and begin a peaceful life in freedom.

Adnan’s asylum case and the UNHCR asylum certificate he holds is not recognized by the Thai government. After their visa’s expired, he had to make ends meet by illegally finding a work in a factory.  To support his family, Adnan had been left with no other option but to take temporary illegal work at a lesser wage with no insurance.

April 29, 2016 marked another critical ordeal for the family. While on the job, the father of two was hit by a fork lift that severly damaged his ankle. Doctors told Adnan that he needed a series of major surgeries which required a large sum of money.

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severe work injury prevents the ability to support family

His wife asked for help from practically everyone and even begged the factory owner for mercy and to support the medical expense of her husband’s severe injury. The factory owner paid a portion of the cost for surgeries, but the rest had to be borrowed from the factory owner and other non- asylum seeking individuals.

16215749_10205951643349657_706576410_nGradually, Adnan has begun to walk with the help of crutches, but to this date cannot walk properly. He and his family are burdened by the loan for the surgeries, and trying support basic survival needs for themselves and their children. It’s indeed hard with no recourse but to beg for help. Still, their is little to eat as support trickles in.

The family has appealed to the international Christian community to pray for and uplift them morally, spiritually and financially.  Our correspondent told us the father’s spirit is still high despite all the troubles in his life. Adnan recalls one bible verse from Roman 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  This verse gives him great hope and the courage to face another day.

Let us continue to remember and pray for this beleaguered family. Let us share our blessings and shine the light and love of Christ on them. Voice of the Persecuted is seeking sponsors to bring hope to our brothers and sisters suffering in Thailand. Unfortunately, we are unable to care for all the families on our waiting list. If you would like to sponsor a persecuted Christian family suffering through the asylum process, please set up a regular monthly payment and add in note section when donating, Pakistani Christians in Thailand. One-time gifts to this relief project is also welcome and greatly appreciated.

Example: A gift of $100 cover monthly food expenses and a portion of their room rent.

Please consider sponsoring Adnan and his family by adding his name to the note. Your gift of support blesses them with hope and means more than you could ever imagine.

Please pray

  • For persecuted Christian families suffering in Thailand.
  • For the children will never again have go to bed hungry.
  • Pray for sponsors who can help them survive.
  • Pray for the Thai government to have a change of heart.
  • That the UNHCR will expedite their interviews so they may go to a welcoming nation with the opportunity to provide for themselves, worship freely and live in peace.
  • Pray for the Lord to bless them with joy, to strengthen their faith and to feel His loving presence surround them.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

Donations are always desperately needed.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Note: Voice of the Persecuted encourages Christians to refrain from violence at all costs.

 

Iraqi Christian: ‘IS made me spit on a Cross and convert to Islam’

Zarefa was forced to convert to Islam and spit on a Cross. World Watch Monitor

Zarefa was forced
to convert to Islam and spit on a Cross.
World Watch Monitor

(World Watch Monitor) One of the major themes explored in Martin Scorsese’s film, Silence, is the question of how to respond when faced with a choice between denying one’s faith or facing death.

Christians in 17th century Japan were given this choice, and it’s the same for Christians in many parts of the world today.

Throughout the film, the audience is shown Christians being told to step on – or, in one case, spit on – an image of Jesus or Mary. Some do; others can’t.

This same choice was given to Zarefa, an elderly Iraqi Christian woman, when the Islamic State captured her town in 2014. During a raid on the house where she was staying, IS fighters found a few crucifixes and other Christian images – strictly illegal under IS rule.

“They forced me to spit on the Cross,” Zarefa recalls. “I told them that it was not appropriate, that it was a sin. He said that I must spit. ‘Don’t you see that I have a gun?’ he asked me. I said to myself, (more…)

Christian Governor accused of blasphemy regaining support ahead of elections

ahok-trial-ap

Indonesia: Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, is gaining support from undecided voters, following a debate held last week ahead of a gubernatorial election in Indonesia’s capital next month.

Support for the Christian governor, popularly known as “Ahok” dropped significantly after he was accused of blasphemy in October and went on trial in December.

The trial is expected to last for months, which enables Ahok to stand in the election scheduled to take place on Feb. 15.

According to pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting, the Jan. 13 debate has convinced many undecided voters to vote for Ahok as they believe he is the best choice to manage Jakarta and its problems. Voters believe the other candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, eldest son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Anies Baswedan, a former education minister, do not have much to offer.

Yohanes Handoyo Budhisedjati, chairman of Vox Point Indonesia, a Catholic political organization, said the debate has helped people see how good Ahok’s political will is.

“People can see what he has done and I believe he will get more votes, despite the blasphemy accusations,” Budhisedjati told ucanews.com on Jan. 16.

In the debate Ahok vowed to continue successful policies undertaken during his first term that included providing better housing for former slum dwellers and tackling corruption.

Ermelinda Tara from St. James Parish in North Jakarta, said the debate proved Ahok was the better candidate. “I believe Ahok will finish what he has started if he is given the chance,” said Tara who added that her home has been flood free since Ahok took office in November 2014.

“The debate strengthened my decision to vote for Ahok,” said Asamanduru, a member of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia. “The blasphemy case will not affect it,” he said.

A second debate will be held on Jan. 27 and the third on Feb. 10, five days before around 7 million voters go to the polls. (source: UCAN)

Muslim encourages Catholics to vote in Indonesia polls

A prominent Muslim intellectual is urging Indonesian Catholics to put prejudices aside and vote in regional elections next month for leaders who can make society a better place for all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds.

“We have to vote for a brave leader who can make changes in this capital,” Mohammad Qodari,  executive director of Indo Barometer, an independent research and survey institute, told hundreds of Catholics at a gathering at Sacred Heart Church in Central Java, on Jan. 15.  At the gathering Qodari, who appeared to back Ahok for his reforms, said that Catholics are not only good citizens but also good nation-builders.

Father Guido Suprapto, executive secretary of Indonesian Bishops’ Commission for the Laity, said the bishops’ conference issued a pastoral letter in November last year, encouraging Catholics to participate in the election and even monitor the entire process. Catholics can change society by voting for leaders who understand religious values, take the side of poor people and who love peace and care for the environment, he said.  (Source: VR)

Previously considered secular and tolerant, hardliners and persecution against Christians has increased throughout Indonesia, Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the nation.

The Return of Islam’s Child-Soldiers

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The price of the modern West’s inability to comprehend Islam’s medieval tactics is not just ignorance concerning the nature of the enemy, but ignorance concerning his victims as well—in this case, countless, nameless children

Past and present, Muslim militants continue relying on the same inhumane tactics to terrorize “infidels.”  The devastating effects of one of these occurred last August in Turkey: a child “recruited” by the Islamic State blew himself up in a suicide attack that left at least 51 people—mostly fellow children—dead.

This child was one of countless, nameless, faceless children seized, beat, and indoctrinated in Islam, until they become willing “martyrs” and executioners.   Known as the “cubs of the caliphate,” they are graduates from “schools [established by ISIS] to prepare hundreds of children and teenagers to conduct suicide attacks.”  The Islamic State is fond of showcasing these abducted children turned criminals.

A few days ago, it posted a video of these “cubs,” most who appear to be about 10 years of age, walking around an abandoned amusement park, where they savagely execute hostages tied to rides.  One child, reportedly only four years old, shoots five rounds into a tied up victim while screaming “Allahu Akbar!”  (see image above).  Another little boy slits the throat of his victim next to a kiddie train before planting the knife in his back.  Last November ISIS posted another video of four children—one Russian, one Uzbek, and two Iraqis—executing civilians.

One Christian clergyman explained the Islamic State’s strategy: “They dislocate the families, they take the newborn babies, and they put them in Islamist families,” where they are indoctrinated in jihad, or what is called in the West, “terrorist activities.”

Children who’ve managed to escape ISIS say they were repeatedly beat and fed “endless propaganda,” including that they must kill their non-Muslim parents: “We weren’t allowed to cry but I would think about my mother, think about her worrying about me and I’d try and cry quietly,” one little boy said.

Seizing and indoctrinating children for the jihad is hardly limited to ISIS.  Over the last three years, Boko Haram, the Islamic jihadi group terrorizing Nigeria, has kidnapped, enslaved, beat and indoctrinated more than 10,000 boys—some as young as 5 years of age, and many from Christian backgrounds—into becoming jihadis/terrorists.

“They told us, ‘It’s all right for you to kill and slaughter even your parents,’” said a former captive who witnessed a beheading on the day he was enslaved. Other boys held down the victim and explained: “This is what you have to do to get to heaven.”

Girls were kept in a separate camp and raped, often by captive boys, as a way to show the latter the boons of becoming warriors for Allah (the deity that permits his slaves to enslave and rape “infidel” women). An escaped girl, Rachel, now 13 and pregnant by rape, told of how dozens of boys from her village tied up a kidnapped man and beheaded him.  They told the younger children watching not to “have feelings about it.” “If you go there [Boko Haram training camps], you can see 12-year-olds talking about burning down a village,” said another escaped girl, adding “They have converted.”

A boy, now 10, served as babysitter for infants and toddlers kidnapped or conceived by rape: “The children, none older than 4, watched jihadist propaganda videos and rehearsed a game called ‘suicide bomber’ where they ripped open sacks of sand strapped to their torsos.”

These Nigerian children, some as young as 6, have been used to terrorize neighboring Cameroon, a Christian majority nation.  During a jihadi raid, more than 100 screaming boys suddenly appeared—barefoot, unarmed, or swinging only machetes—and ran toward a military unit which gunned them down.  As Col. Didier Badjeck explained, “It’s better to kill a boy than have 1,000 victims.  It’s causing us problems with international organizations, but they’re not on the front lines. We are.”

Another report, published just days ago, tells of more experiences from abducted boys and girls, and how Boko Haram showed the former to “have fun” with the latter, including by “learning to subdue a struggling victim during sexual assault.”  One escaped 16-year-old girl said, “I was raped almost on a daily basis by different men.  When they became fed-up with me, they asked the little boy, who has often watched them do it, to take over.”

But it’s not just ISIS and Boko Haram who seize, enslave, beat and indoctrinate boys for jihad (and girls to “make it up” to the boys).  This practice is also taking place in Yemen, Somalia and even “moderate” Mali.  Indeed, a cursory Internet search reveals the extent of this phenomenon.

In 2012, 300 Christian children were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam in Bangladesh.  After convincing impoverished Christian families in Bangladesh to spend what little money they had to send their children to study at supposed “mission hostels,” Muslim conmen would “pocket the money” and “sell the children to Islamic schools elsewhere in the country ‘where imams force them to abjure Christianity.’”  The children are then instructed in Islam and beaten. After being fully indoctrinated, the once Christian children are asked if they are “ready to give their lives for Islam,” presumably by becoming jihadi suicide-bombers.

Why are Islamic jihad groups resorting to this tactic of enslaving and indoctrinating children into becoming jihadis?  Most Western analysts believe this is a reflection of weakened, desperate groups: “The growing trend for ISIS to use child soldiers as suicide bombers, particularly in Iraq, has been suggested as a sign of how stretched their resources are in the region,” noted one report.

Or it could suggest that ISIS, Boko Haram, etc., are simply following another page of the jihadi playbook.  For over a millennium, Muslim caliphates specialized in seizing and enslaving tens if not hundreds of thousands of young non-Muslim boys, converting them to Islam, and then beating, indoctrinating, and training them into becoming jihadis extraordinaire.

The most famous of these were the Ottoman Empire’s janissaries—Christian boys who were seized from their homes, converted to and indoctrinated in Islam and jihad, and then unleashed on their former families.  As the author of Balkan Wars explains, “Despite their Christian upbringing, they became fanatical Muslims and earnestly maintained their faith as warriors of Islam.  This cruel practice of what today can be defined as the ‘brain cleansing’ of the Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire is perhaps the most inhuman Turkish legacy.”

That Turkey is now suffering from the effects of this system—such as when a child suicide bomber killed 51 people in the name of jihad—may be called “ironic.”

Western analysts would not be oblivious to this “new” jihadi tactic—optimistically portraying the reliance on children as proof that jihadi groups have “stretched their resources”—if they had Islamic studies departments that actually disseminated facts instead of pro-Islamic myths and propaganda.   As with all unsavory aspects of Islamic history, the institution of child slave soldiers has been thoroughly whitewashed.  Although young, terrified boys were seized from the clutches of their devastated parents, the academic narrative is that poor Christian families were somewhat happy to see their boys taken to the caliphate where they would have a “bright future” as “soldiers and statesmen.”

The price of the modern West’s inability to comprehend Islam’s medieval tactics is not just ignorance concerning the nature of the enemy, but ignorance concerning his victims as well—in this case, countless, nameless children.   As Mausi Segun, a human rights activist discussing the plight of Boko Haram’s child jihadis put it: “There’s almost an entire generation of boys missing.  My guess is that a large majority of them will die [as forced jihadis] in the conflict.” And they will die completely unknown in the West—just another victim group to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, lest Islam’s reputation be besmirched.

By Raymond Ibrahim

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in places such as Nigeria and Thailand aiding Christians fleeing violence, languishing in refugee (IDP) camps or seeking asylum from persecution. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

Donations are always desperately needed.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and

Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow, David Horowitz Freedom Center; a CBN News contributor; a Media Fellow, Hoover Institution (2013); and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum . 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.

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