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Jakarta Christian Governor found guilty of blasphemy, jailed for two years

Effigy used in recent protests against Jakarta’s Christian Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama who who vows he was falsely accused of blasphemy.

An Indonesian court has found Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison, in a trial that is widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Following the verdict, the five-judge panel ordered Ahok’s immediate arrest. Ahok has said he will appeal.

A Christian with ethnic Chinese roots, Ahok is a double minority, and the case against him has sparked uproar in Indonesia.

Thousands of police have been deployed in the capital in case clashes break out between Ahok supporters and opponents who have demanded he be sacked and jailed. read more

Pray for Indonesia!

 

Verdict expected in blasphemy case against Jakarta’s Christian governor

Ahead of Ahok’s trial on Tueday (happening now), police began enforcing maximum security efforts on Monday

JAKARTA (Reuters)

– An Indonesian court is expected to decide on Tuesday whether Jakarta’s Christian governor is guilty of blasphemy against Islam, in a trial that is widely seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

The government has been criticized for not doing enough to protect religious minorities but President Joko Widodo, a key ally of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), has urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process.

Officials said thousands of police will be deployed in the capital in case clashes break out between Purnama’s supporters and hardline Islamists who have demanded he be sacked and jailed over allegations he insulted the Islamic holy book, the Koran.

“Both groups will have the opportunity to demonstrate, but we are taking steps to prevent clashes,” said national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.

Purnama lost his bid for re-election in an April run-off – by far the most divisive and religiously charged election in recent years – to a Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan. read more

Please pray for this man and Christians in Indonesia.

Supporters sent 10,000 balloons for Ahok ahead of the verdict announcement

Pakistani Christian sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy

CLAAS, a religious freedom advocacy group updated Voice of the Persecuted on the case of Zafar Bhatti, a Christian in Pakistan who was falsely charged of blasphemy and now sentenced to life imprisonment by a Pakistani court on May 3, 2017.

Bhatti had been charged under blasphemy law section 295C and telegraph act section 25D in 2012 for sending blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone, which is according to reports was not registered to his name. He denies the charges.

Since 2012, he has been imprisoned in Adiala Central Jail Rawalpindi. Considering the threats to his life, the case was conducted in the jail on April 24 but the judgment was reserved for later dates. On May 3, the Additional session judge jailed him for life.

Usually courts hand down a death sentence to those who are charged under 295-C, but because there was no concrete evidence against Bhatti, he was sentenced to life imprisonment instead.

In 2012 Islamabad, the lawyers’ bar passed a resolution that no lawyer will represent Bhatti in the court, but CLAAS accepted his responsibility. They’re also helping to care for his family.

Due to threats against the accused and their lawyers, CLAAS tried to move the case to Lahore but the request was denied.

Nasir Saeed, director CLAAS-UK said it is very unfortunate that even though there was not enough evidence against Bhatti, instead of freeing him, the court has sentenced him to life imprisonment because of pressure from Islamists.

“The blasphemy law is continuously being misused in Pakistan to take revenge and settle personal scores. Christians are the most targeted group, and several Christians have been burnt alive, and even their towns and churches are often attacked and set to fire.”

“The lower court’s judges always hesitate to make decisions on the merit, or free people accused of blasphemy, and instead transfer their burden to the higher court without realizing how their decision will impact the accused and their families’ lives.”

CLAAS says they will appeal against the lower court’s decision to the Lahore high court. They believe Bhatti is innocent and will be freed by the higher court. Unfortunately, it will take several years for his case to be heard by the High Court.

Please pray for Bhatti and his family who are suffering needlessly.

Recently Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution to prevent abuse through introducing safeguards. However, all such calls have faced strong opposition in the past. Those who’ve demanded changes in the blasphemy law were silenced and threatened with death.  The governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti were savagely killed, as their acts were considered equal to blasphemy by hardliners.

Nevertheless, this latest resolution is clearly something to be welcomed and another reason to continue praying for the repeal of the laws so nobody has to suffer needlessly,  CLAAS told Voice of the Persecuted.

 

Religious intolerance increasing, says report

Bishop blames Government for Fulani Massacre in Nigeria

(Voice of the Persecuted) On the evening of April 15, 2017, while Christians had gathered for an Easter vigil, heavily armed gunmen entered Asso village in Kaduna state and began shooting sporadically at their victims. 12 people were killed and many were injured in the attack.  Fulani herdsmen are suspected of carrying out the attack in the Christian community.

In a press statement concerning the Asso village massacre, Bishop Joseph Danlami Bogobiri accused the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai of taking sides with herdsmen. He said that, “Having presided over the mass burial of at least 10 Catholics along with their parish priest Revd Fr. Alexander Yayock the following day, I’m by conscience compelled to make the following statements.”

1. The attitude of the state government has been marred by lots of complicity and bias which exacerbated rather than ameliorated tensions. The Governor in most cases seemed to have abdicated his responsibility of being Governor to all us, and instead gave in to the luxury of waging an unrelenting media campaign against Southern Kaduna people. He unabashedly takes sides with the armed herdsmen (His kinsmen) thereby failing in his responsibility as a true statesman, becoming therefore a biased umpire who blames and criminalizes Southern Kaduna victims as the cause of the mayhem. The Governor has made several efforts in the media to discredit figure of casualties that were arrived at through painstaking research, and is known for trying to change the true narrative by presenting the victims as the villain and the aggressors as the prey. The Governor has the penchance of using state apparatus to insult, denigrate, intimidate, arrest and put in prison all voices of reason from Southern Kaduna who dare to challenge his handling of this crisis. Among those that have fallen victims of his tyranny are: traditional rulers, journalists, youths, political leaders, academicians, while threatening our lawyers and other leaders (Religious and Unions) with arrest for daring to speak out against the genocide.
2. The primary responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution is the protection of life and property of citizens irrespective of ethnic and/or religious persuasion. Any breach of this fundamental principle of social contract contravenes the very reason for which Government exist for. Unfortunately, our government both at the Federal and State levels have failed woefully in this regard because of their inability to rise above ethnic and religious bias. If anything, government has shown outright partisanship in favor of the herdsmen to the disappointment of the majority Southern Kaduna indigenes. Because of Government’s inability to serve as an un-biased umpire in the face of these crises, we are sometimes tempted to belief that there is a well-planned Jihad against the people of Southern Kaduna, and Christians generally in Northern Nigeria as this is amply demonstrated by the incessant attacks and atrocities committed against the aborigines of the Middle Belt region in Northern Nigeria. The sole aim of these attacks is to conquer our people and occupy their lush lands and turning same into grazing fields for the marauding nomads. The Governor of Kaduna State is pursuing this detestable policy by his plan to forcefully take over lands in Southern Kaduna and turn same to Grazing Reserves and Routes for his kinsmen. To show Government’s insensitivity on this volatile matter, there are ongoing expansionist plans to annex more land to the already existing grazing reserves at Ladduga in Ikulu Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government area and transmute that locality from being a district into an emirate.
3. The killings continue unabatedly in fields and bushes, thereby preventing farmers from visiting and cultivating their lands. This is happening today as the Military and other security forces mount road blocks in towns and major roads while bushes remain un-safe for farming. In the Godogodo and Pasakori attacks in Jemaá Local government area for example, the military merely watched and supervised the killings and burning of homes on the pretext that their mandate did not include fighting the herdsmen. When the youth mobilized themselves to repel the attackers, the soldiers deliberately blocked them from entering the town. The herdsmen and their collaborators turned the towns into killing fields and killed mostly women, children and the elderly who couldn’t run for cover. The level of barbarity was such that pregnant women got their wombs blown out and massacred before their children. And these innocent children were not spared either. This level of viciousness was never witnessed even in the brutal tyranny and regime of Adolf Hitler. What is most intriguing is the level of sophistication of weapons; Ak 47, Machine Guns and many other deadly instruments of death are being freely used by the Herdsmen, leaving wondering how these weapons got to their hands.
4. The Governor has described the Fulanis as vindictive and un-forgiven people. This may simply be the projection of the Governor’s own mindset to an entire people. Our experience living with Fulanis for decades does not prove this. The indigenous communities of Southern Kaduna have been living peacefully with the Fulani herdsmen who came to join them as neighbors until the architects of the view that the average Fulani man is vindictive and un-forgiving came into power. The mayhem and killing with impunity in Southern Kaduna and the Middle Belt region and beyond by the Fulani Herdsmen, using sophisticated weapons is a recent development fueled by this kind of philosophy. To present any person or group of persons as revengeful and to go ahead to support and sponsor a praxis of retaliation as we are witnessing in Kaduna State today, is not only a detestable behavior but an evil mentality that will not engender social cohesion and harmonious coexistence in a plural and heterogeneous setting such as ours. The natives and herdsmen of Southern Kaduna have always had their differences as is common in herdsmen and farmers relationship everywhere in the world.  These differences sometime end up in clashes and skirmishes resulting from invasion of each other spaces, but such differences have assumed an un-precedent height under the current government with the use of very sophisticated weapons of destruction. What we are witnessing in Kaduna state is not the so called un-forgiving spirit of the Fulani people towards others, but the transfer of a hate mentality from a handful of people in leadership within the State to an entire ethnic group, with disastrous consequences. All humans are created by God with rationality and the milk of human kindness in their hearts. This often shows itself in love expressed in mercy, compassion and forgiveness. No rational human person is created without the disposition to overlook some offences committed against him or her. Only those with dead consciences are indisposed to show compassion and forgiveness. A world that does not forgive is doom to fail. An eye for an eye philosophy renders the whole world blind it is said. Describing an entire people as un-forgiven is not a plus but a minus for such people. If the Fulanis stop the aggression in Southern Kaduna today, there will be peace in the environment and the entire State. The non-retaliation of Christians to great abuses and violations of their human rights is termed as weakness, which is not correct. God has put the feeling of mercy and compassion in each of us regardless of our ethnicity and religious affiliations. If the Southern Kaduna had been trouble shooting people, they too would have established militia groups and go on rampage in domains other than their own. But alas this is not what is happening. They are being attacked in their sleep and places of worship right in the land that divine providence has given as their own. And even at that, they are told not to defend themselves in the face of aggression. The earlier we rediscover this truth of conscience (that all rational beings are imbued with a spirit of mercy and compassion) and begin to live this truth to the full, the better for our Society. Therefore the promotion of the philosophy that any offence committed is like a debt that must be avenged for either now or in the future is not only false and un-wholesome but it is the figment and projection of the personal idiosyncrasies of a few but powerful people. This mindset if not checked and corrected has the potential to erode the fabric of any social organization.
5. The killings with impunity in Southern Kaduna must not be allowed to continue. And Government in the State has a special and irreplaceable role in bringing this scourge to an end. The current Government in the State must follow the example of past Governments by initiating measures that would unify rather than divide the people of the State on ethnic and religious lines as this Government has been doing since its inception. We have had our challenges on harmonious coexistence in the past. But past Governments demonstrated statesmanship in Governance by bringing stake holders across board to parley on how to resolve our indifference. The current administration in the State seems to dread this kind of interface which had proven to be effective in the past. Government must change its attitude from alignment with people of one ethno-religious group in the State, she must resist the temptation of acting as the mouthpiece of one group against others and begin to display true statesmanship in seeing and treating the entire state as its constituency. The current Government got it all wrong right from the beginning when it openly stated that she will treat the citizens of the State not on the merits of their being Kaduna state indigenes but on the basis of who voted and who did not vote for the party that won the election. This is a wrong premise to operate under a democracy such as ours, which promotes and respects diversity particularly on political matters. We cannot all become members of one Party in Kaduna state. It is unfortunate that this kind of segregational mindset seems to be teleguiding government’s policies, utterances, appointments, and the distribution of infrastructure for development and social initiatives. This Government has taken discrimination on religious and ethnic lines to a height that has never been witnessed in the history of Kaduna. Today we are left with a situation where there is much concentration of development in the North and Central Senatorial districts to the utter neglect of the Southern Senatorial District which is predominantly Christian. The Northern part of the State monopolizes the Executive, the legislative, the Judiciary and occupies all slots of federal appointments such as the ministerial and those of parastatals. This disgusting mentality of premeditated discrimination and marginalization is shown by the lopsidedness in both political appointments, locations of infrastructural facilities, and worst still the delineations of political constituencies and polling units which institutionalizes rigging at source. While the Hausa/Fulani dominated areas in Kaduna State have cornered over 48 Federal Institutions to their domain, southern Kaduna can hardly boast of one of such institutions in her domain. Instead of the current government to work towards redressing this disturbing, inhuman and unjust imbalance, she is rather shamelessly contemplating the removal of the Kaduna State University (KASU) Campus and the College of Education (COE) from Southern Kaduna to his Fulani dominated space. What a shame and a slap to justice, fairness and objectivity in dealing with people.
6. In all these we have watched with pains and patience for about two years now how Government in the State is being managed as a personal estate in a way that excludes many stake holders from the State. We want to state emphatically that Kaduna State is for all of us, regardless of political, ethnic and religious affiliations. Therefore, the Governor should stop running it as his personal establishment. Kaduna State is the only State that we can call our own. And because Kaduna State is our State, we are contributing significantly for its progress not only on the Spiritual level, but also our works in the areas of education, medi-care, social upliftment and building of capacities of the people cannot be ignored. Government must recognize us as equal stake holders in the management and running of the affairs of the State. We do not accept being treated as aliens in our State.
7. Despite these imbalances in our Nation and in our State, here we are again celebrating another feast of the resurrection of Christ. The fact of our Lord’s resurrection revolutionized the lives of the Disciples of Christ. It transformed them from being a timid and sometimes a seemingly clueless group of disciple, to a fearless and courageous team that turned Jerusalem at some point upside down. Our faith therefore in the risen Christ must so influenced and transformed our lives as it did to the lives of the Disciples of Christ particularly at the times of persecution such as we are facing. The injustices in our Society notwithstanding, we exhort believers not to be fainthearted but courageous in facing the challenges of our time. We are to renew our faith and commitment to the living and resurrected Jesus, who triumphed over death and evil as the way to surmounting all the abuses and discrimination that we suffer in Nigeria today.
SIGNED:
Most Revd. Dr. Joseph Danlami Bagobiri
Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese and Chairman, Southern Kaduna Christian Elders Association

At the delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in March, Bishop Bagobiri said,

Christians of Southern Kaduna have taken their case to God in prayer. They want God to fight their battle for them because He is the only one who can rescue them from the systematic elimination of Christians in the area which has the support of both the Federal and State governments as well as the country’ security agents.
In his words, “Since we have no government that would listen to our plight, we have carried our case directly to God. It is only God that can save us from our present situation. Our hope in Him is never in vain since he knows our problem and He will deliver us one day just as he delivered the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.”

The Bishop raised concerns of injustices for the survival of Christianity in northern Nigeria were premised on structural injustices which have become institutionalized. Some of the challenges he described included inequitable distribution of amenities, infrastructure and discrimination in appointment to political and public office. The Bishop suggested the Church focus on enabling the faithful stand for their faith in the face of persecution.

“We as a Church must evolve new ways on how we can face violence without losing faith. It is our prayer that God will give us strength and the needed direction on how to make Christianity survive despite the constant attacks and persecution.”
“…we must use Constitutional means to fight for our rights. Where it becomes necessary, we must go to court and use human rights lawyers that are sympathetic to the course of justice; not only as a Church but also as citizens of this country.”

Begging To Be Heard

Nigerian Christians are expressing their great concern for the ongoing silence of international media outlets of Christians massacred in Southern Kaduna. “It’s an issue the Christian leadership must urgently address,” one claimed. In Voice of the Persecuted’s years of communication with Nigerian churches and Christian communities, much is vaguely covered, or never reported by the MSM.

They want the world to know the genocide that is taking place on the Christian faithful in Nigeria. They are praying all information will be sent and covered by CNN , FOX, BBC and all international media. One claimed,

“Once the world begins to pay attention to the massacre and beheadings by Fulani terrorist herdsmen, who killed and occupy farmland and villages, only then will we see a change.”

In 2016, ‘Fulani’ terrorist ‘herdsmen’ killed over 700, almost twice the number Boko Haram had killed that first quarter. They fear Governor El Rufai nor President Buhari will do anything to stop who they call ‘their own’ meaning the herdsmen. Both men are from the Fulani tribe.

We pray with these brothers and sisters for the world to take notice of the extreme abuse North Nigerian Christians continue to face. Please pray with us for a blessed change to take place. For now, the Body of Christ is all they have. Hold on dear brothers and sisters. We hear you!

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christians experiencing brutal persecution. If you would like to show your love and support for those who’ve faced unimaginable persecution, please support our Nigerian mission project, today.

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support. Your gifts have brought many smiles on the faces of these youngsters below. THANK YOU!

orphan-306x4601We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!

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.

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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!
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If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed

Secularist Group complains to Mississippi university about religious tweets by football coach

Hugh Freeze OM Football coach

The Oxford Eagle reported that a secularist legal organization that seeks to separate church and state has complained to Ole Miss that head football coach Hugh Freeze and an assistant football coach are wrongly using Twitter to promote religious beliefs.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter this week to Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter questioning what it calls “overly religious social media postings of football coaches at the University of Mississippi.”

“A concerned citizen reported to FFRF that University of Mississippi head football coach Hugh Freeze regularly promotes religion on his Twitter page,” the foundation attorney wrote in a letter sent to Chancellor Vitter.

“Recently, Freeze has tweeted statements such as ‘Lead us by your truth and teach us 2day, for you are the God who saves us! All day long I put my hope in you. Ps 25:5 – be a blessing 2day’ and ‘Here’s the best news ever, your eternal standing with God doesn’t depend on your goodness, but on God’s unshakable faithfulness’ via his twitter handle @CoachHughFreeze. Read more

The Oxford Eagle also wrote an opinion piece encouraging the coach to keep on tweeting.

Report Series: Death and Destruction for Christmas: Muslim Persecution of Christians, December 2016

Police at the site of the Berlin Christmas market attack, which left 13 dead.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute

As in previous years, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Islamic attacks on Christians—much of it in the context of targeting Christmas related worship and celebrations.

The one to claim the most lives occurred in Egypt.  There, on Sunday, December 11, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself and killed at least 27 worshippers, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 70.  A witness described the aftermath: “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene.  I saw a headless woman being carried away.  Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people’s flesh off the floor.  There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”  In death toll and severity, this attack (pictures and videos of the aftermath here) surpassed the New Year’s Day bombing of an Alexandrian church that killed 23 people in 2011.  A couple of weeks before Dec. 11’s bombing, a man hurled an improvised bomb at St. George Church in Samalout.  Had the bomb detonated—it was dismantled in time—casualties would likely have been higher, as the church was packed with thousands of worshippers congregating for a special holiday service.  In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate—including “you will die Christians”—were painted on the floor of yet another church, that of the Virgin Mary in Damietta.

In Germany, Anis Amri, a Muslim man from Tunisia and asylum seeker, seized a large truck, killed its driver and pushed his corpse onto the passenger seat, and then drove the truck into the Christmas market of Berlin. Twelve revelers died and 65 were injured, some severely.  Four days later, the suspect was killed in a shootout with police near Milan.  The attack was similar to the Nice, France, terror strike, where another Muslim man drove a truck into crowds, killing dozens.  ISIS claimed responsibility, though initial reports claimed the man had no ties to Islamic terror groups.

In Turkey, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus entered a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year celebrations and shot 39 people dead, wounding several dozens.  The Islamic State later claimed the terrorist attack and portrayed it as an assault on Christian infidels and their Muslims sympathizers.  An ISIS spokesman said a “heroic soldier of the caliphate … attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast”; he characterized the government of Turkey as being “the servant of the cross.”   Separately, and ironically, Turkey’s National Ministry of Education issued an email to about 35 German-funded teachers in Istanbul.  It said:  “No more Christmas celebration and/or lessons on Christmas including carol singing is permitted, effective immediately.”   As the report adds, “That Turkey is the homeland of the real ‘Santa Claus’ is an irony largely lost on most media: St Nicholas, who secretly left gifts for poor children, was in fact Bishop Nicholas who lived in c.300 AD” in formerly Christian Turkey, or Anatolia, before the Islamic conquests.

In the Philippines, as Christians were celebrating Christmas Eve Mass in a Catholic church in Mindanao, a grenade exploded by the entrance.  Sixteen people were wounded.  According to the report, “No group has claimed responsibility for the Mindanao attack, but Muslim rebels and Islamist extremists are known to be active in the province, where there have been blasts in the past.”

On Christmas Day in Cameroon, an Islamic suicide bomber targeting Christians killed a young student and a woman, and injured five others, in an attack on a market full of Christmas shoppers in Mora.  Authorities said the bomber, who also died in the attack, was from the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, centered in neighboring Nigeria, and that the casualties could have been much higher had a vigilance committee not spotted the jihadi, who was pretending to be a beggar, and prevented him from penetrating the crowded market.

During Christmas weekend in Baghdad, Iraq, two Christian shops were attacked with gunfire.  Three were confirmed dead, though local activists say as many as nine were killed.  The shops were presumably attacked for carrying alcohol.  “What a bloody gift they gave us for Christmas,” Joseph Warda, a human rights activist, said.

A Muslim migrant in Italy who, according to police, “wanted to destroy Christian symbols,” managed to set a church nativity scene aflame and destroy a separate statue of Mary.  He was caught in the act by the church’s priest, who notified authorities. They rushed to the scene and fought to restrain the man, who was reportedly suffering from a “visible psycho-physical crisis.”

A fortnight before Christmas in a region in Germany that contains more than a million Muslims, approximately 50 public Christian statues (of Jesus, Mary, etc.) were beheaded and crucifixes broken.  Many local Germans were left “shocked and scared,” said the report.  Police, who called it a “religiously motivated attack,” said they “want this fear to disappear as soon as possible.”

The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group.  One Arabic-language message called “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to mobilize lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.”  Manuals for the use and preparations of weapons and explosives for aspiring assailants were also available on the same social media platform.

Police in Australia arrested seven men—described as “self-radicalized” and “inspired by the Islamic State”—for planning a series of bomb attacks in the heart of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, on Christmas Day.  Among their targets was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Four hundred police were involved in the raid, and more were deployed on Christmas Day as a precautionary measure.

In Pakistan, 43 people, mostly Christian, died, and another 120 were hospitalized, after they drank tainted alcohol at a Christmas celebration in the Muslim majority nation.  Joseph Arshad, Christian bishop of Faisalabad, while visiting the sick in the hospital, said, “This tragic event turned the joyous festivity of Christmas into mourning with many lives still hang[ing] in the balance due to critical conditions” of many patients.  A judiciary inquiry needs to be conducted to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In Uganda, 19 masked Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar” and “Away from here, this village is not for Christians but for Allah,” stormed a church compound during Christmas Day service, and savagely beat 15 Christians.  Five were seriously wounded with broken bones.   “Previously at an all-night Christmas Eve service, a Muslim had put his faith in Jesus Christ and had been immediately healed of illness,” said the report:  “Yasiini Mugoya said he returned home and shared the gospel of Christ with his fellow Muslims early on Christmas morning. ‘They started beating me and forced me to lead them to the church compound where the Christians had prayed for me and I had received salvation and healing.  When we arrived at the church, the Muslims started attacking the church members.’”

In Indonesia, Muslims yelling “Allahu Akbar” stormed a building where hundreds of Christians were lighting candles and singing “Silent Night” as part of a Christmas service, and forced the celebrations to be stopped.  Shortly before the group stormed the building, the pastor had just prayed and said “Christmas is not a day for hatred but Christmas is a day for reconciliation and peace.”  Separately, the nation’s military and paramilitary personnel—a total of 150,000 people—were on high alert during Christmas as militant Muslims stepped up their anti-Christmas rhetoric and threats.   Security forces managed to kill three Islamic terrorists discovered with bombs which they had planned to use; another dozen or so Islamic terrorists were arrested for also planning Christmas time attacks.

Anti-terrorist forces in Bangladesh foiled a planned suicide attack on a Catholic church during Christmas.   The conspirators, who belong to the “New Group of Mujahidin,” planned to bomb Holy Spirit church in Dhaka, the capital, but were tracked and arrested on Christmas Eve.

Authorities from Christian-majority Kenya said intelligence revealed that Al-Shabaab, an Islamic terror group in neighboring Somalia, was planning a series of terrorist attacks during the Christmas season, including on houses of worship.  The nation was placed on high alert and citizens were told to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities.

One Christmas Day, a video was released of a Catholic priest who was kidnapped on March 4, 2016 in Yemen, when Islamic terrorists raided a nursing home and killed 16 people, including several nuns and aid workers. In the video, Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, who appeared weak and out of breath, said “Nothing has been done by Pope Francis or the Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get me released, in spite of contact being made by my captors.”  He also implored the Catholic pope: “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life.”

Several flyers and posters were found plastered on churches all throughout South Sudan during the Christmas season.   They contained anti-Christian rhetoric and “included calls for Muslims to neither visit nor congratulate their Christian neighbours on the festive season,” said the report.

More stories of Christian experiences under ISIS continued to emerge in December. “I just want to go home,” said 80-year-old Victoria Behman Akouma, now in a refugee camp.   When ISIS took over her town in August 2014, “They asked me to convert to Islam, but I told them I will die a Christian and that they can kill me if they want to.”

Based on the findings of a prominent statistician and researcher in Italy who was interviewed on Vatican Radio, “Christians continue to be the most persecuted believers in the world with over 90,000 followers of Christ being killed in the last year”; this comes out to one death every 6 minutes on average, the majority of which occur in Africa.

The rest of the accounts of Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in the month of December, though with little direct relation to Christmas, include:

Austria:  A 22-year-old Muslim asylum seeker from Afghanistan stabbed a Christian woman with a knife for reading from the Bible in the asylum center.  According to the report, the man “had taken offence to the fact that the woman had been invited by Christian residents of the property to discuss the Bible. When he found out what she was doing, he stormed into the kitchen where the woman was standing and tried to plunge the knife into her upper body.” The 50-year-old woman’s thick winter coat deflected the knife, but “she did injure her ear when she fell backwards from the force of the man’s violent blows.”

Crete:  Unknown vandals set fire to the Church of Archangel, in the Lagolio village of Crete.  The only clue to their identity is that they wrote “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic on the walls, “infuriating locals,” said the report.  Although local residents managed to put out the fire before it spread, icons and other sacred items were burned.

Democratic Republic of Congo: In a region where Islamic terrorists associated with the Allied Democratic Forces are highly active and where many people of the Christian-majority nation have been killed, a young nun was found shot dead in her office.  According to the pontifical institute’s World and Mission magazine, Sister Marie Claire joins a growing list of clergy in Africa “who have given their lives for the Gospel.”

Uganda:  Muslim relatives beat a 30-year-old former Islamic teacher unconscious after he publicly confessed he converted to Christianity.  Then, on December 8, Muslims attacked his 60-year-old mother who, after visiting and listening to her ostracized son’s conversion journey, also embraced Christianity; they gashed her head open and broke her hand.   Separately, Muslims destroyed the home of a single mother because she converted from Islam to Christianity.  On December 23, she received a letter in Arabic reading, “Be warned that if you do not return to Islam, then your days are numbered. We do not want to be associated with infidels. You have become a disgrace to Allah and the Muslim community at Kitoikawononi.”  On the following day, Christmas Eve, Muslims came and razed the woman’s home to the ground, leaving her and her three children homeless.

Indonesia: A man entered an elementary school in East Nusa Tenggara, walked to the back of a classroom and began stabbing children. Seven children were injured. The man, who was reportedly Muslim, recently migrated to the village which is reportedly 90% Christian. Angered villagers stormed the police station, overpowered the police, and killed the man who stabbed their children.  Separately, a group from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) stormed and threatened a car dealership which had asked its employees to wear Christmas themed outfits.

Pakistan:  A Muslim man beat and kicked a 58-year-old Christian woman unconscious after she refused to clean his home because she was already overbooked with two other homes.  “She offered to come back another day with a team of a further two cleaners, however the landlord wanted his home cleaned immediately,” said the report.  When Bashiran [the woman] refused, stating that she was too old to take on another job, especially of this size on her own, Afzal [the man] became angry.  He glared at Bashiran and accused her of disrespect as Christians should not be refusing to take orders from Muslims. Bashiran was pushed to the floor, and Mr Afzal began kicking and punching her until she became unconscious.” When her son went to the police, they refused to register the crime; when the family pushed the case, Muslims threatened to kill the Christians unless they dropped it.   Separately, a Christian boy was videotaped being publicly beaten for drinking water from a fountain located inside a mosque.   The video shows the boy yelling and screaming after being whipped with wooden sticks and beaten with shoes. 

Egypt:  A “reconciliation meeting” was held by top officials in Naghameesh, where a building Christians were using to hold church services was torched by angry Muslims.  Although the “brotherhood of all Egyptians”—Christians and Muslims—was the main theme, when it came to the question of giving their fellow Christian brothers the same right to worship, the majority of Muslim leaders and family members at the reconciliation meeting continued to refuse them a place to pray in. Authorities acquiesced and did nothing to support the Christians.  “We don’t understand what is so dangerous about the Copts praying and exercising their legal rights in this matter,” one local Christian said.  Separately, but around the same time, the Egyptian government boasted that it is opening 10 new mosques every week; that there are 3,200 closed mosques that need renovating, and that the government is currently working on 1,300 of them; that it will take about 60 million Egyptian pounds to renovate them, but that the government has allotted ten times that much, although a total of three billion is needed; and that the Egyptian government is dedicated to spending that much—for “whoever abuses public funds [which should be used for Islamic worship], enters a war with Allah, ”  to quote Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom‘a, Minister of Awqaf, or endowments.  But when the nation’s more than 10 million Christian minority seeks to build or renovate a church—and pay all expenses from their own pockets—Muslims riot and authorities acquiesce.

Iran: “Between May and August 2016 [Iranian] security forces arrested at least 79 Christians,” said a December report, even though “the true number of Christians apprehended by the authorities could be notably higher,” because “many” arrests are never recorded.   “At the time of writing some of these 79 Christians remain in detention and have still not been formally charged.”

About this Series

The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic.  Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

1)          To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.

2)          To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam;  theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Raymond Imbrahim

Uganda: Pastor and Others Missing after Muslims Beat Men and Rape Women in Congregation

The Rev. Musa Mukenye pleads for Christians to forgive Muslim assailants . (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Musa Mukenye pleads for Christians to forgive Muslim assailants . (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – A pastor in eastern Uganda and eight other Christians are missing two weeks after a Muslim mob attacked a church prayer meeting, locked the congregation in, beat several members and raped 15 women, sources said.

The approximately 90 Muslims broke into the evening prayer meeting of Katira Church of Uganda, in Katira village, Budaka District at about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 and beat them with clubs and sticks, area sources said. Previously Muslims had only thrown stones at the roof of the church building to disrupt church services of the 500-member congregation, villagers said.

At the evening service, about 80 members were present, and among those who escaped before the doors were locked was a Christian who heard one of the assailants shout, “Away with the pastor who is converting our Muslims to Christianity,” a church leader said.

Pastor Moses Mutasa had been outside questioning some visitors unknown to the church when several others arrived shouting, “Away with the pastor,” and he fled, said the Rev. Musa Mukenye, who oversees several churches in the district’s Iki-iki County.

“We do not know what has happened to our pastor, Moses Mutasa,” Pastor Mukenye told a meeting of local officials, police and other security officers. “He might have been killed or has been kept hostage.”

The assailants locked about half of those in attendance inside the building, (more…)

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