(World Watch Monitor) Malaysia’s highest court dismissed an appeal today (27 February) against four appellants who wanted to be formally recognised as Christians.
The five judges of the Malaysian Federal Court ruled that in matters of conversion away from Islam, it was necessary for them to consult the Islamic Sharia courts.
The president of the court, Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, said the decision was unanimous.
He added that even though there are no specific provisions in the Sharia ordinance over conversions out of Islam, the religious court still has legal authority on what he termed “apostasy”.
Raucous, unruly scenes and shouts of “Allahu akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) greeted the decision as a mob surrounded the Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, Simon Peter Poh, outside the court complex. He was jostled while being escorted to his car amid fears that he might be assaulted.
Three of the appellants had previously converted from Christianity to Islam when they married Malay-Muslim spouses, but now want to affirm their Christian identity again. The fourth is a Malay-Muslim who embraced the Christian faith and was baptised in 2009.
The Federal Court, sitting in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state, yesterday (26 February) heard the joint appeal of the four appellants who want their conversions legally recognised. The judges then adjourned their decision to today.
The lawyer for the appellants, Baru Bian, an opposition politician and a campaigner for the customary rights of indigenous Malaysians, many of whom are Christian, had been optimistic that the judges would base their decision on the substance of the country’s civil law.
He said the argument of the state was that Sarawak Shariah Court Ordinance 2001 “has provisions on conversion into Islam”. Since there is no provision for those who want to leave the faith, he argued that the civil court should have jurisdiction.
Three of the appellants – Mohamed Syafiq Abdullah, who has taken the name Tiong Choo Ting; Jenny Peter, who was formerly Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah; and Salina Jau Abdullah – converted to Islam in order to marry Muslims. All four were asking the Federal Court to have their names and their faith changed on their national identity cards.
In 2006 Jenny Peter divorced her Muslim husband and re-embraced Christianity. The Muslim husband of Salina Jau divorced her in 1992, and she too returned to Christianity. In the case of Tiong Choo Ting, he began to practise Christianity after his Muslim wife died in 2007.
The fourth appellant, Syarifah Nooraffyza Wan Hosen, is ethnic Malay and was raised as a Muslim. In her declaration she said she no longer practises Islam and was baptised in 2009. She wants her identity card to record her new faith and a new name, Vanessa Elizabeth.
According to local media, all four were required to undergo counselling for renouncing the Muslim faith. But they have remained adamant they want to renounce Islam, and have signed statutory declarations expressing this desire.
All four remain Muslims as far as official documentation is concerned.
Critics accused the court of failing to understand its powers to rule on an individual’s choice of religion. “It means that freedom of religion, which is a constitutional right and a matter for the civil court, is subservient to Islamic laws,” one Christian human-rights campaigner said.
Some social-media users said they felt disappointed by the Federal Court’s decision. Some even nicknamed the case the Sharia Court’s “Hotel California” clause, recalling the 1970s song by The Eagles about a hotel you could check into but never leave.
Islam is considered intrinsic to the identity of Malaysia’s majority Malay people, and under Sharia (Islamic law), renouncing Islam is viewed as apostasy, a crime, although liberal Muslim theologians argue that conversion is a matter for the individual. Many of the country’s sizeable Buddhist, Christian and Hindu populations are of non-Malay heritage.
In recent decades Islamists have become increasingly vocal in their demands that Malaysia be governed as a Muslim state, and analysts say the spread of a more conservative interpretation of Islam lies behind the rise in attacks on churches and church leaders.
At the same time, civil courts have handed jurisdiction over Islamic religious matters to the Sharia court system and at times taken a policy of non-interference between the two courts. This has left people wishing to leave Islam in legal limbo.
According to Malaysia’s constitution, the country is a secular state with Islam as its main religion. However, Islamists refute this, saying that the colonial-era charter of rights is no longer valid, and they demand the precedence of religious law.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim residents of Kasuwan Magani in northern Nigeria yesterday killed 12 Christians after an attempt to rescue two Christian teenage girls from Muslims who had kidnapped them and coerced them to convert, area residents told Morning Star News.
James Madaki, a 50-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), said another 20 Christians were injured, and that Muslims set homes and shops on fire in the predominantly Christian area of the town in Kaduna state, 31 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of the city of Kaduna.
“The names of those killed are not readily available to me at the moment, but I can confirm to you that they are Christians killed in the Christian area of the town,” Madaki told Morning Star News.
In comments corroborated by another area Christian, Madaki said two Christian teenage girls were abducted and forcefully converted to Islam two weeks ago, and that they were being held hostage in the house of the Muslim leader in Kasuwan Magani.
“The case was reported to the police, and the girls were not rescued, so some Christians decided to rescue the girls, but the Muslims in the town attacked them,” Madaki said. “The Muslims did not just attack the Christians that went to rescue the girls, but also went round town attacking Christians they sighted and burned houses belonging to Christians.”
Those killed and wounded belong to the ECWA, Baptist, Assemblies of God and Seventh-day Adventist churches, as well as Pentecostal churches in the town, he said.
“As I talk to you, 12 Christians have been killed and 20 others injured and are being been taken to hospitals in the city of Kaduna,” he said.
He said the violence broke out at about 10:30 a.m. following the attempt to rescue the girls.
Another resident of Kasuwan Magani, Omega Funom, corroborated Madaki’s account in a text message.
“The crisis here occurred because two Christian underage girls were kidnapped and forced to become Muslims by some Muslims in this town,” Funom said. “This is the practice by Muslims in Kaduna state. They abduct small Christian girls and force them to become Muslims, and when Christians reject this, they attack them to create the impression that there’s a religious crisis.”
He told Morning Star News that the sanctuary of Assemblies of God Church in the town was burned down yesterday during the attack on Christians.
“The Assembly of God Church was burnt down,” Funom wrote. “Muslims were armed with AK-47 guns as they attacked Christians. This is a Jihad by the Muslims.”
Nigerian press reports indicated, without citing sources, that the violence resulted from Christian and Muslim youths clashing over their girlfriends dating men of the other faith.
The area, which has seen several religious clashes, is a predominantly Christian community under political control of Muslims. Christians have been the victims of many unprovoked attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state.
The Rev. John Hayap, spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria Chapter, told Morning Star News he was saddened over attacks on Christians and forceful conversions of Christian girls by Muslim leaders.
“There have been such forceful conversion of teenage Christian girls by Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria, and the Nigerian government has not been able to put an end to this,” he said. “I feel very sad about such violence on Christians, but what more can we do than to pray and ask for God’s intervention. We”ll continue to preach peace and tolerance in our churches no matter the level of provocation from our Muslim neighbors.”
Mukhtar Aliyu, police spokesman for the Kaduna State Command, told Morning Star News only that there was a sectarian clash.
“Yes, there was crisis in Kasuwan Magani town today, and we are working towards restoring peace and order in the area,” he said yesterday (Feb. 26).
Samuel Aruwan, media aide to the Kaduna state governor, told Morning Star News that an effort was underway to assist the injured and the displaced from Kasuwan Magani.
“The State Emergency Management Agency has been directed to take inventory of damages and provide relief materials to victims with immediate effect,” he said.
In Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, a worship service was disrupted on Sunday (Feb. 25) when unidentified gunmen shot at worshippers, wounding a security guard.
The shooting at 10 a.m. into the building of the ECWA Good News Church in Durumi, near Garki, forced members of the congregation to scamper to safety and abandon the service, church member Stephen Markus, 35, told Morning Star News by phone.
“Rabo Danboyi, the security officer manning the entrance into our church, was shot and injured on the leg by the gunmen, and he’s currently being treated at the Federal Medical Centre here in Abuja,” Markus said. “When we heard gunshots and bullets hitting church walls, we all ran out in different directions. Some said the attackers were Boko Haram terrorists who attacked us but were resisted by our church’s security guards.”
After about 30 minutes, the pandemonium subsided, he said.
“Some of us who braved to return to the worship sanctuary learned that the shooting was done by some unknown gunmen,” Markus said.
The pastor and other church leaders could not be reached for comment. Daniel Kadzai, national president of the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), confirmed the attack by unknown gunmen in a text message to Morning Star News.
Police authorities in Abuja confirmed the church shooting but declined to give further details.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Pakistan – Voice of the Persecuted received news of the injuries and inhumane treatment of Sajid Masih, a Christian, by FIA (Federal Investigation Authority) officers. Sajid is the cousin of Patras Masih who was recently accused of blasphemy by local Muslims in Shahdara, Lahore, an event that caused 800 Christian families to flee the neighborhood where the accused lived. They feared they would be harmed by the angry mob calling for his death (beheading) as they promised to destroy their village unless the accused was handed over to them. Read the report here. In a video interview (translated below), Sajid Masih claimed from his hospital bed that he jumped out of the fourth floor of FIA building because the investigators tortured him and were trying to force him to have sex with his cousin, Patras Masih.
They called me to the headquarters. They told me that they wanted to take my statement and check my phone.
They took me to the not audible (maybe washroom). They checked my phone and started beating me there. I asked them, what is my fault. They told me that your only fault is that you are the cousin of the boy. They continued to beat and then told me to curse myself. My cousin [Patras] cursed himself.
Then they told me take off your cousin’s pants and have sex with him. They quickly took off his clothes. I asked forgiveness from them and told them that he is my brother. When i refused, they were enraged.
I saw the window was open, I rushed towards it and jumped. People kept asking me if i jumped myself. I kept hearing all of it. The person who took me was Khalid Shah and they never found anything on my phone.
What should be enraging is the disgusting treatment of an innocent Christian man by federal authorities. One so frightened that he chose to jump out of a window, 4 stories up!
Please pray for Christians in Pakistan!
UPDATE: FIA authorities deny harsh treatment. A case has been filed against them. see report
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Heb.11:37-38
My Brothers and Sisters,
On this day, 3 years ago, the Islamic State terror group (ISIS) shared video footage of 21 followers of Jesus being martyred on the shores of Libya. The 20 Egyptian men and 1 from Chad/also linked to Ghana, had traveled to Libya for jobs as laborers to make a living and care for their families back home. They were captured and had their throats slit by ISIS for being ‘people of the Cross’. Each one died with the name of Jesus on their lips.
Shortly after this tragedy, the Bible Society Egypt quickly printed and distributed a scripture tract with encouraging verses and promise of blessing amid suffering to the nation. More than 1.6 million copies of the tract called, Two Rows by the Sea” was printed and shared with the churches. It was designed to be given to any Egyptian and included Bible verses to comfort the mourning and challenge people to commit to Christ.
In response to their execution, the tract also included a poem written by Dr Shady George. In the link below a brother reads this moving poem in his heart language of Arabic, but with English subtitles.
Based on the poem, a dear sister put together a beautiful music video remembering these martyrs of Jesus.
Richard Wurmbrand had often commented that it was never considered a first century church service unless the martyrs were remembered. Dear saints, let us remember those who paid the ultimate price in following their Savior, the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus who lay down their lives on the altar and slain for the word of God and the testimony that they maintain. For sure they will be honored by Jesus and receive the reward of their inheritance.
Then I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, Rev. 20:4
Posted in honor of those who have been slain for Jesus.
Serving as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch,
Mohabat News — Last May, the Iranian Revolutionary Court had sentenced Naser Navard-Goltapeh to 10 years in prison for his faith. He has now been transferred to the infamous Evin prison in Tehran to serve his sentence.
Mr. Navard-Goltapeh had appealed his sentence but an appeals court upheld his sentence on November 12, 2017 in branch 36 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The sentence was approved in the appeals court in spite of Navard-Goltapeh’s attorney providing numerous grounds for his innocence.
The spokesman for the Article 18 organization, a Christian rights advocacy group, Kiarash Alipour told Mohabat News regarding Mr. Navard-Goltapeh’s accusations, “The court based its decision to convict Naser Navard-Goltapeh on a report by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, allegedly providing ample evidence that he attempted to undermine national security through establishing an ‘illegal house church network’. However, when asked for the report to be presented to his attorney, the court refused”.
He added, “In the appeals court, the judge surprisingly asked Mr. Navard-Goltapeh to convince the Ministry of Intelligence of his innocence in order to ease his sentence”!
It appears that the plaintiff in Mr. Navar-Goltapeh’s case is the Ministry of Intelligence itself. In earlier cases as well, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence had asked Christian prisoners to “cooperate” with them in order for their sentences to be eased. It is not clear what the ministry means by “cooperation”.
Mr. Naser Navard-Goltapeh had been arrested on June 24, 2016 in a private gathering along with three Christians from Azerbaijan’s “Word of Life” church in Baku.
All four Christians arrested in that incident were held in solitary confinement for two months and subjected to intense interrogation. They were all charged with “illegal gathering, collusion and evangelism” and eventually released temporarily on a heavy bail. The three Christian citizens of Azerbaijan returned to their home country after being released.
In an interview with the Article 18, Mr. Navard-Goltapeh’s attorney, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz said, “My client has not broken any of the criminal code and is not guilty of his charges. All other Christians arrested with him also confirmed all of their meetings were strictly focused on their faith and worship and nothing else.”
Earlier this year, four UN human rights experts raised concerns over the Iranian judicial system not providing Christians with a “fair and transparent hearing”.
These experts noted, “Members of the Christian minority in Iran, particularly those who have converted to the faith, are facing severe discrimination and religious persecution.”
Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List has placed Iran among the top 10 countries where Christians are persecuted the most.
The Islamic regime of Iran systematically shuts down anyone trying to spread Christianity in the country. Christians in Iran are regularly faced with arrests that most often leads to long-term prison sentences.
By Dan Wooding (Assist News) The Roman Colosseum will be illuminated by red lights later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, and especially in Syria and Iraq.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution, according to Crux.
Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lit, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past Dec. 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.
The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) — follows a similar initiative last year, which lit-up London’s Parliament building in red, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. In 2016, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit.
Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists on Feb. 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third.”
“One of the children was killed,” he said, “she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”
Once she was freed and reunited with her husband, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said. [Read Voice of the Persecuted’s (VOP) report: Held Captive For 2 Years By Boko Haram: Rebecca’s Story and the relief sent to them through VOP’s aid mission, Project 133 Nigeria here.]
Aid to the Church in Need released a biennial report on anti-Christian persecution Oct. 12, 2017, detailing how Christianity is “the world’s most oppressed faith community,” and how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak.”
The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.
“The one exception is Saudi Arabia, where the situation was already so bad it could scarcely get any worse,” the report said.
China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”
The Middle East was a major focus for the report.
“Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report said. “If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”
The exodus of Christians from Iraq has been “very severe.” Christians in the country now may number as few as 150,000, a decline from 275,000 in mid-2015. By spring 2017 there were some signs of hope, with the defeat of the Islamic State group and the return of some Christians to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.
The departure of Christians from Syria has also threatened the survival of their communities in the country, including historic Christian centers like Aleppo, ACN said. Syrian Christians there suffer threats of forced conversion and extortion. One Chaldean bishop in the country estimates the Christian population to be at 500,000, down from 1.2 million before the war.
Many Christians in the region fear going to official refugee camps, due to concerns about rape and other violence, according to the report.
ACN also discussed the genocide committed in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State and other militants. While ISIS and other groups have lost their major strongholds, ACN said that many Christian groups are threatened with extinction and would likely not survive another attack.
A spokesperson for Aid to the Church in Need, said, “We invite everyone to attend, either in person or in spirit, on February 24, 2018 at around 6 p.m. in Largo Gaetana Agnesi, Rome.”
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan has written numerous books, and his most recent reporting trip for ANS was to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
VOP is on the ground helping persecuted Christian refugees from Nigeria and Pakistan. 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. 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!
(Voice of the Persecuted) 2018 is here and many have started the year with resolutions to do well. We live in a society where we have the freedom to think, speak, pursue our dreams of what we’d like to be and most importantly, believe in our God without fear of persecution. On the other side of the world, there are many who don’t have these freedoms.
Thailand, a country famous for it’s glitzy tourist destination has been at the forefront of persecuting Christians. Thousands of Christians from Pakistan escaped severe persecution to Thailand and have ended up in a whirlpool of crisis. According to World Watch List 2018, Pakistan Is The 6th most difficult country to live as a Christian.
Many Pakistani Christians are living in Bangkok are in a dire situation. They stay in hideous conditions, often times a whole family in cramped single room apartments. Food is scarce and Thailand as made it nearly impossible for them to make ends meet.
Approximately 150 Pakistani Christians are being held in the Immigration Detention Center (IDC), including men, women and children. On January 23, 2018 another raid took place and 7 children, 4 women and 2 men were arrested from their apartment building at Onnut Soi 54 in Bangkok. They increase the numbers of brothers and sisters who are already inside, some for a long period of time, even years. Please pray for them as they continue to battle the dilapidated conditions of the slums and the prison called, the IDC. Also, pray for them as they share the Good News of the Gospel to the lost in the detention center.
What is IDC?
IDC is the Immigration Detention Center which is located in the heart of Bangkok near a string of embassy buildings. It is designed as a transit place for people to return to their homeland due to violation of visas. They are not equipped with proper sanitation and about 30 people can stay in the one room/cells. Making matters worse, they are being cramped with quadruple the maximum number of people per cell. The diet their offered consists solely of a watery cucumber/rice soup. Not even the babies or children are given milk products. It’s no wonder they suffer from malnutrition, weakness and susceptible to the many illnesses, skin infections and parasites inside the IDC. They rely only on those caring enough and able to deliver the proper nutrition items they need.
However, there is a glimmer of hope for these detainees. They can receive necessary food items and hygiene products from visitors. That is also the only time they’re permitted to leave their cell and meet with someone from the outside world. Often, some detainees are unable to get any visitations for several weeks, or even months. Voice of the Persecuted has initiated support for the brothers and sisters suffering inside the Immigration Detention Center. We intend to send in more food, hygiene products and the much-needed sundry items not offered to them by the
IDC. Your donations, whether large or small, aid in our ability to carry out this mission and highly appreciated by our persecuted family. Thanks to your help, we were able to give them some relief during the Christmas season. Please pray and share this with your church and others. Help share the light of Christ and bring a moment of joy for those inside.
VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Please Join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus. Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds for the relief mission. If you feel led to help, please consider our mission and donate, today. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. God bless you and your families.
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.
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:
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