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Voice of the Persecuted Note: Despite government reports, the article below confirms multiple communications sent to VOP from our sources that the Boko Haram still controls a very large area in North Nigeria’s Gwoza Local Government area. Unable to return home, many Christians have been trying to survive in IDP camps for years.
A Chibok Parent, John Bassa, has stated that at least 49 towns in the north east, are still being occupied by Boko Haram insurgents.
He said this on Tuesday during a town hall organized by Channels to assess the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last four years.
Bassa who stated that 44 of his relations who were Boko Haram commanders had been killed, and at least 50, were still “active and high-ranking officers of Boko Haram” controlling some territories, maintained that many towns are currently empty as a result of the insurgence.
When asked: “Are you saying that Boko Haram is still in control of some territories in the northeast, from where they plan and execute these attacks – he responded by saying “of course”.
He went further to explain that “out of 52 towns in Gwoza, its only three right now that you can freely live within. (that is, Limankara, Gwoza town and Pulka).
“Gwoza town was liberated by our former President Goodluck, one week before election then in 2015 and the new administration liberated Limankara and Pulka so, 49 towns are still empty with nobody apart from the Boko Haram. READ MORE
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Monday (June 17) killed four Christians in north-central Nigeria’s Kaduna state, including three children, on the same day nine other Christians were slain in neighboring Plateau state, area sources said.
Christian residents in Kaduna state’s Kauru County told Morning Star News that between 3 a.m and 4 a.m. well over 200 armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen invaded predominantly Christian Ungwan Rimi Kamuru village, killing 8-year-old Monday Yahaya, 9-year-old Zhime Danladi and Samson David, 15.
“They were all buried today after a brief prayer at the grave site,” area resident Thomas John told Morning Star News in a text message.
A Kaduna police spokesman reportedly confirmed the killings but identified the 9-year-old as Ashimile Danladi and cited Samson David’s age as 17.
Also in Kauru County, that evening herdsmen attacked predominantly Christian Kikoba village, killing Audu Gara, kidnapping a Christian woman, Asabe Deme, and burning houses, according to area resident Matthew Nasamu, 51.
“The Fulani herdsmen attacked Kikoba, a Christian village in Kauru LGA of Kaduna state, in the evening, around 5 p.m.,” Nasamu said in a text message to Morning Star News. “All houses were burned and razed down, farms were destroyed, and all the villagers are now displaced.”
In all, 93 houses belonging to Christians were burned, and farm crops were destroyed, he said.
Plateau State Attack
About 35 kilometers (21 miles) east in Riyom County, Plateau state, Muslim Fulani herdsmen at about 1 p.m. killed nine Christians and burned two church buildings in attacks on two villages, area sources said.
An attack on Kangbro village killed 25-year-old Gado Peter, Stephen Ziah, 60, and Adam Sabo, 65, said Miango resident Lawrence Zango in text messages to Morning Star News. A fourth Christian, Samson Audu Rivi, was receiving treatment for gunshots wounds at Enos Hospital, Miango, west of Jos.
Two church buildings were burned alongside 185 houses in Kangbro village, said area resident Patience Moses, 23, in text messages to Morning Star News.
“Two churches were burnt by the Fulani herdsmen in Kangbro, and the churches are ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] Church, Kangbro, and Catholic Church, Kangbro,” Moses said. “185 houses were burnt and destroyed, while the entire Christian villagers who survived the attacks are now displaced.”
Less than two miles away, Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot six Christians to death in the attack on the second village, Nakai Danwal, according to area resident Lawrence Zango, who said at least 54 houses were set on fire.
Zango said that area Christians area have been under attack from herdsmen before.
In April and May, he said, herdsmen killed nine Christians in attacks on predominantly Christian communities of Kigam, Ri-Do, Rotsu, Hura and Jebbu Miango.
“Fulani terrorists killed nine industrious Nigerian citizens and injured two within a month,” Zango said. “The killings are continuation of their usual genocide attacks on innocent farmers on the plateau, destroying their only means of livelihood.”
Salah Akpa, a Christian and head of Kigam village, was killed on his farm on April 9, he said. The following day, a Christian identified only as Emma from Ri-Do village was killed. Herdsmen killed two other people, Janah Dare and Dadi Ibrahim, in an ambush on April 14 in Hura village, he said.
On April 27, the same Fulani herdsmen killed Sunday Di and a Christian identified only as Baram as they made their way home in Dong village, Zango said. The next day in Rotsu village, the same herdsmen ambushed Christians Emmanuel Ishaya and Jummai Ijah, who along with a 7-month-old baby identified only as Tabitha were wounded but survived, he said.
On May 1 herdsmen killed Monday Audu Rivo as he made his way to his farm, and the same day another unidentified resident going hone to Jebbu Miango was shot and was receiving treatment at Enos Hospital, Miango.
“The activities of the Fulani terrorists are similar and the same with that of Boko Haram in the Northest,” Zango said. “The federal government should direct security agencies to investigate and arrest the leaders of the Fulanis within close environs before it escalates to destroy Nigeria.”
The government needs to send more security personnel to rural areas where Fulani herdsmen are forcefully capturing grazing area, he said, adding that it also needs to send relief aid to victims of attacks and compensate traumatized farmers.
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 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Agenzia Fides reported that Fr. Isaac Agubi, a priest who serves at the Holy Name church of Ikpeshi, 230 km away from Benin City, capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria was released by the police. The priest had been kidnapped on June 16th along the Auchi-Igarra road, around 5 pm, as he was returning home from church service. Area hunters helped police forces identify where the kidnappers were in the forest. During the release of the priest one of the bandits was injured.
It’s believed the kidnappers belong to a group of Fulani, who in Nigeria and other West African countries have committed of violent raids. In the last week in northern Nigeria, violence linked to the Fulani issue and others committed by Boko Haram, caused the death of over 150 people, while nine others were kidnapped, the report stated.
In the State of Sokoto on June 15, 25 people lost their lives in raids, likely committed by the Fulani, in three villages. In a separate incident, a woman, and her stepson, were kidnapped by a gang of Fulani on Airport Road, in the city of Osi, in the state of Ondo, on their way to church.
On 12 June an officer and 20 soldiers in the State of Borno were killed in the attack on a military formation. The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA), then claimed responsibility for the attack.
On June 14, at least 34 people were killed in an assault by an armed group that attacked three villages in the area of Shinkafi in the State of Zamfara. The militanys, who arrived on motorcycles, set fire to the houses and shot all those they encountered.
A few days ago His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, had denounced “the unprecedented level of insecurity” and the “complete impunity” of who sows chaos and destruction in the Country.
Egypt, (Morning Star News) – A young Coptic Christian man has been arrested near Cairo, Egypt for allegedly insulting Islam after a hacker posted material on his Facebook page, he and family members said.
Fady Yousef, 25, was arrested early in the morning of June 11 in Giza, southwest of Cairo, despite having posted a video explaining that hackers had placed the offending material on his Facebook page, according to the Coptic Bishopric of Maghagha and El Edwa in Minya.
The previous night (June 10), Muslim extremists angry over the offending material attacked his parents’ home in Eshneen el Nasara village, near Maghgaha in Minya Governorate, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Giza, according to a statement from the bishopric.
“On Monday [June 10] some extremists reaching a few hundred from Eshneen el Nasara village and the villages around it attacked the home of Yousef Todary,” the statement from Bishop Anba Aghathon read. “They entered and destroyed the contents of the house, then moved to the house next door where his brother lived and attacked it from the outside. They were shouting against the Christian religion and the Copts of the village.”
Yousef Todary, his wife and daughter were able to escape minutes before the Muslim extremists broke in and destroyed the refrigerator, television set, mattresses, furniture and windows, according to the bishop.
Stating that Muslim extremists alleged the post was insulting to Islam, the bishop defended Fady Yousef, reiterating that he said his Facebook was hacked.
The young Copt posted an apology on the page saying he would never do such a thing, and that people who knew him know this well. His sister, Nermeen Yousef, also posted a clarification, saying her brother apologized not because he did anything wrong, but because people mistakenly believed that he was the author of the post, according to Copts United.
“He is apologizing because he respects your feelings,” she wrote. “He is not a child to do such a thing, and also his friends are Muslims and always tell me they are dear to him and they know this well.”
Along with Fady Yousef, police also detained his brother and uncle; two other uncles turned themselves in as soon as they heard that police sought them, according to various sources. They were all transported to Minya pending investigations, and on Friday (June 15) Copts United reported that the brother and uncles had been released.
Yousef is in custody facing charges of posting material offensive to religion, according to Copts United. Insulting a heavenly religion (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) in Egypt, where the state religion is Islam, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$30 to US$60), according to Article 98(f) of the Penal Code.
Police reportedly arrested 25 people suspected of attacking the home of Yousef Todary and those of other Christians in the village, as well as others who wrote posts on social media to instigate attacks.
Police reportedly dispersed angry crowds and set up protective posts in Eshneen el Nasara and other villages. They also set a protective perimeter around the village the following Friday (June 14) in anticipation of possible violence, according to Copts United.
The bishop’s statement noted that Reda Eid, a Muslim from the same village, during Easter posted derogatory words against Christianity, the church and its leadership. Eid later went to the church leaders to apologize, taking some of his Christian friends with him, according to the statement. Father Soliman responded “You are our son, you came here and I accept your apology, we are all brothers,” thus ending the incident, according to Copts United.
Egypt ranked 16th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
On Monday night, Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned for his faith in Turkey, spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention and warned pastors that he believes the next generation is going to experience more intense Christian persecution and fears they’re not prepared. Persecution is on the move around the world — and gradually moving into American life — but God is at work in the midst of it, according to a panel who spoke on the topic during the Monday evening session. (BP) (watch video coverage below)
During a roundtable discussion at the Southern Baptist Convention 2019, moderated by Timothy George, founding dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, highlighted three stories of facing persecution. George interviewed Andrew Brunson, a pastor imprisoned for two years in Turkey, and his wife, Norine; Nik and Ruth Ripken, retiring missionaries; and Jack Phillips, a lawsuit-riddled Colorado cake shop owner, along with legal counsel Jim Campbell with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
Sermon by Pastor Brunson begins at minute marker 15:55
Roundtable discussion on persecution with Andrew and Norine Brunson, Nik and Ruth Ripken, Jack Phillips
Eritrea’s Pentecostals have faced much persecution and detained for their faith. Recently 30 were arrested by the country’s security forces for praying. According to the BBC, Dr. Berhane Asmelash of Release Eritrea, said the Christians were arrested at three different locations around the capital city of Asmara.
The Eritrean government officially sanctioned and provided protocol status recognition to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, and Sunni Islam. All other faiths and denominations are required to undergo a registration process, including personal information on their membership to be allowed to worship. Although the Eritrean government stated that it would allow other groups to be recognized, it has refused to register applications for recognition pending since 2002, even though some of them meet the requirements. Basically, the government considers other religious groups illegal and claim they are instruments of foreign governments.
A few weeks ago, police arrested 141 Christians, including 23 men, 104 women, and 14 minors, from Asmara’s Mai Temenai area.
Eritrea’s population is approximately half Christian and half Muslim. Since 2004, U.S. State Department has recognized Eritrea as a “country of particular concern” for horrific violations of religious freedom.
Iranian Intelligence agents stormed a 100-year-old church, which is a National Heritage site, and tore down the cross from the tower.
(Article 18) The Assyrian Christian community in the northwestern city of Tabriz has been left it a state of shock, after the Presbyterian church was forcibly closed earlier this month.
Intelligence agents stormed the 100-year-old church, which is a National Heritage site, on Thursday, 9 May, changed all the locks, tore down the cross from the church tower, and ordered the church warden to leave.
“They made it clear that the Assyrian people are no longer allowed to hold any worship service there,” explained a trusted source to Article18.
The source said church members had been fearful since just a few days after Christmas, when pastors from other churches were prevented from visiting the Tabriz church for a joint worship service with other Assyrian and Armenian Christians.
Then on 9 May “a large number” of agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and EIKO, an organisation under the direct control of the Supreme Leader, “entered our church compound and changed all the locks on the doors, removed the cross from the church’s high tower, installed some monitoring instruments and started to threaten and force our custodian to leave his place inside the compound immediately”.
The church, belonging to The Assyrian Presbytery, was “confiscated” by Revolutionary Court order in 2011, but church members had been able to continue using the building for services in the Assyrian language – until now.
“Many churches owned by Protestants have been confiscated in Iran,” explains Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, “In most cases the government has been unable to repurpose them, especially if they were listed. So they typically remain as empty buildings, often neglected, and turn into ruins before being demolished, as was the case with the church in Kerman.”
Christians from Iran’s historic Assyrian and Armenian communities are a recognised minority, who are usually able to freely practise their faith, providing they don’t open their doors to Muslim-born Iranians by holding services in Persian.