VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Africa

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Egypt: Copts celebrate first mass in new church, seven years since last church’s closure

(World Watch Monitor) Seven years after their previous church was closed by local authorities because of “security reasons”, the Coptic community in the Egyptian village of Kom El-Loufy, 250km south of Cairo, held a first mass in their new church yesterday, 22 July.

The 1,600 Copts from the village in Minya governorate were marking the completion of the first stage of building of their church, the Church of the Virgin Mary and Martyr Abanoub Al Nahisi, with a mass led by Fr. Feltaws Ibrahim, as the Coptic villagers sat on the floor.

The priest of the Saint Abu Sefein Coptic Orthodox Church, in the nearby village of Ezzbet Rafla, had hosted the Copts in his church while they were without a building.

Since the closure of their previous church, the Copts had experienced fierce opposition from their Muslim neighbours. Two years ago angry Muslims set fire to four Coptic homes in the village, suspecting a house would be turned into a church.

It wasn’t until the very end of 2017 when the Copts finally withdrew their complaint against the arson in exchange for permission to build a new church.

With the charges dropped, in January the community started the building process on a piece of land 700 metres outside the village.

Contentious

As World Watch Monitor has reported, Copts in several other villages have faced similar troubles.

In recent years it has been almost impossible for Coptic Christians to obtain a license to build a church, though in theory this changed in August 2016 when the Egyptian parliament passed a new law on the construction of Christian buildings of worship.

However, by March this year there were still more than 3,500 pending applications from churches that needed to be examined by a government commission set up to verify whether they met legal requirements.

The building of new churches remains a contentious issue, with a number of churches that have applied for licenses being attacked by Muslim extremists.

Earlier this month World Watch Monitor reported how a mob recently attacked a church in another Minya village in protest against the church having received approval. Police failed to intervene, while one of the officers apparently promised the protesters that no church would be allowed in the village.

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International Community Ignores Genocide of Christians in Nigeria

VOP Note: For the past 5 years, Nigerian Christian leaders and rights activists have been trying warn the world that a genocide was taking place against the Christians in the North. The barbaric acts of jihadist groups, Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen, still continue unabated as more than 6000 Christians have been killed since the start of 2018. Where is the international concern and outcry? (Raymond Ibrahim) —In what the Christian Association of Nigeria is calling a “pure genocide,” 238 more Christians were killed and churches desecrated by Muslims last week in the west African nation. According to a joint statement by the Christian Association, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations, “There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage.”

The statement condemned the recent attacks, “where over 200 persons were brutally killed and our churches destroyed without any intervention from security agencies in spite of several distress calls made to them.”

The statement adds that the majority of those 6,000 Christians massacred this year were “mostly children, women and the aged…  What is happening in … Nigeria is pure genocide and must be stopped immediately.”

The details of the murder of these thousands, though seldom reported, are often grisly: many were either hacked to death or beheaded with machetes; others were burned alive (including inside locked churches or homes); and women are often sexually assaulted or even raped before being slaughtered.

For long, both the Nigerian government and the U.S. government have sought to present this protracted jihad as territorial clashes between the haves (apparently always Christians) and haves-not (apparently always Muslims).

For instance, in 2012, Bill Clinton said that “inequality” and “poverty” are “what’s fueling all this stuff” (the “stuff” being a reference to the ongoing Muslim slaughter of Christians in Nigeria).  Following the 2012 Easter Day bombing of a Nigerian church that left 39 worshippers dead, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said, “I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence” in Nigeria.  Similarly, the Obama administration reportedly agreed to spend $600 million in a USAID initiative launched to ascertain the “true causes” of unrest and violence in Nigeria—which naturally lay in the socio-economic, never the religious, realm.

In its recent statement, however, the Christian Association of Nigeria denied these claims. After saying that those responsible for slaughtering Christians are always allowed to “go scot free” by the Nigerian government—which further portrays the attacks as “farmers/herdsmen clashes”—it inquired:

“How can it be a clash when one group [Muslims] is persistently attacking, killing, maiming, [and] destroying, and the other group [Christians] is persistently being killed, maimed and their places of worship destroyed? How can it be a clash when the herdsmen are hunting farmers in their own villages/communities and farmers are running for their lives?”

On May 2, the National Christian Elders Forum — a wing of the Christian Association, the members of which average the age of 75 and come from Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones — met with the British High Commission in an effort to receive support. (Days before the meeting, around 30 Muslim herdsmen had stormed a church during early morning Mass and murdered nearly 20 parishioners and two clergymen.) The group’s executive summary of issues included:

It is clear to the Christian Elders that JIHAD has been launched in Nigeria by the Islamists of northern Nigeria led by the Fulani ethnic group [the “herdsmen”]. This Jihad is based on the Doctrine of Hate taught in Mosques and Islamic Madrasas in northern Nigeria as well as the supremacist ideology of the Fulani. Using both conventional (violent) Jihad, and stealth (civilization) Jihad, the Islamists of northern Nigeria seem determined to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate and replace Liberal Democracy with Sharia as the National Ideology. The object of course, is to supplant the Constitution with Sharia as the source of legislation. The current 1999 Constitution is plagued with dual conflicting ideology of Democracy and Sharia. There are certain values which are non-negotiable in a pluralistic society and it seems the advocates of the Caliphate do not respect this. A dual-ideology-driven Nigeria cannot be the Nigeria of our dream. We want a Nigeria, where citizens are treated equally before the law at all levels…. Bearing in mind that Christians constitute over 50% of the Nigerian population, the goal of the Islamists is bound to create serious conflicts which if not checked is capable of escalating into another civil war. Already, the Islamists are murdering Christians with impunity and destroying vulnerable Christian places of worship and communities at an alarming and inhuman rate.

That 6,000 Christians, “mostly children, women and the aged,” have been butchered in just the first six months of this year is a reminder of how violence only escalates when left unchecked. That is the story of the Muslim persecution of Christians in Nigeria.

It took three times as long (a year-and-a-half, between December 2013 to July 2015), for example, for the same Muslim herdsmen to slaughter a total of 1,484 Christians (532 men, 507 women, and 445 children), critically wound 2,388 Christians (1,069 men, 817 women, and 502 children), and burn or destroy 171 churches.

The Nigerian government and the international community, however, have from the start done little to address the situation. This lack of participation is not surprising: they cannot even acknowledge its roots, namely, the intolerant ideology of jihad. As a result, the death toll of Christians has only risen — and will likely continue to grow exponentially — until such time that this reality is not only acknowledged but addressed. Cross posted on Gatestone Institute

Calls for action

Sent to Voice of the Persecuted by one of our contacts,

“I am very far from Nigeria but the sad and bad news from Plateau State are not far from me. I hear that herdsmen are on the prowl again and there is bloodshed, murder of infants, youths, men and women in huge numbers in our beloved land of “peace and tourism”. The flagrant and despicable taking of human lives and the continued destruction to homes and means of livelihood is a disgrace to humanity and a shameful projection of a negative image of Nigerians.

The  gruesome murders have robbed me of the enthusiasm, energy and pride with which I came to Canada and America. I came boasting to the various audiences I had – whether in Church prayer gatherings or discussion groups, at media interviews or during interactions with officials of Foreign Affairs  Ministry, about the huge potentials in Nigeria and how even in the midst of violence caused either by Boko Haram, militant herdsmen or the yet to be identified “foreign invaders”, peace is very possible as we are determined to sustain the culture of civilized conduct and peace. I declared emphatically that I am proud of being a Nigerian and cannot apologize for that conviction. I have talked to hundreds of people in Canada and the United States of America, assuring them that Nigerians are a hard working, religious, resilient and peaceful people. I told my friends who have been postponing their visit to Nigeria for ten years now due to security issues not to be afraid. I told them to “come and see”. Last year, I hosted visitors from 12 countries from South America, Asia and Europe and they all returned home safely after visiting Jos and even  Maiduguri.  I therefore renewed my invitation to my friends to come to Jos and they will experience that the people are a kind-hearted, loving and peaceful people and not what they read in exaggerated media reports.

While I am still here making frantic positive propaganda for my country Nigeria,  inhuman and diabolical killings have taken place in parts of Plateau State. What do I tell the friends I have convinced to come, the youths I interacted with telling them how beautiful Nigeria is? What of the messages of hope  about Nigeria that I gave  in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, New York, Portsmouth, Milwaukee, etc, telling everyone about the goodness of my beloved country? Was I lying? Why should I be confronted with such embarrassing news while I am still on “active duty” here as an unrecognized and unappreciated ambassador for Nigeria – a duty I have performed selflessly in many parts of the world for over two decades now. Wherever I find myself I have tried to promote the positive image of our dear country, of course, not neglecting it’s dark sides.

While I am out here, people are still asking me questions about the Chibok girls, the Dapchi girls, especially of Leah. They ask me what they hear about the murderous terrorists called herdsmen who kill priests and lay faithful at worship or defenseless people on the farms. They join me in worrying that these murderous agents don’t seem to have in sight the end of their massive destruction to lives and property.

In the course of my journey I have also met with government officials and tried to put up strong arguments about why there is violence and destruction in our land, blaming  corruption, poverty and bad governance and begging them (officials abroad) to genuinely intervene to speed our socio-economic progress. Now, with this indescribable wickedness of killers in Plateau State and other parts of the Middle Belt where the poison of extreme violence is emitted intermittently from the wells of their evil hearts, meant to cause monumental loss to lives and property, is there still justification in telling the “good news” about Nigeria?

I have shared the story of multidimensional peace efforts in Nigeria, using our Dialogue Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) Centre in Jos as an example. DREP is an initiative of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos meant to offer a neutral place where reconciliation of aggrieved parties takes place and also the Interfaith Vocational Training Centre in Bokkos near Barkin Ladi, where Muslim youths and Christian youths are trained for two years in vocational skills and helped to appreciate the civilized culture of dialogue instead of hostile confrontation at the slightest feeling of provocation. I explained how shortly before I left Nigeria we were at meetings in DREP Centre in Jos with the Fulani and Irigwe ethnic groups to strategize on how to evert further killings. We even agreed to hold an interfaith prayer session in August.

Today, when I heard that the killings have resumed, I called His Excellency, Governor Simon Lalong and my Vicar General Msgr. Cletus Gotan, who both kindly explained the pathetic situation to me,  and all of them felt so flabbergasted at the turn of events by the gruesome murders.
Could our President come out clearly, categorically and courageously to explain to his kinsmen why dialogue is the best solution. Cattle, as important as they are, cannot be valued over human beings. That does not mean that cows should be wounded, stolen or killed. I believe not enough has been done to challenge the herdsmen killings. Is it because of the so-called “hidden agenda” or  simply the absence of courage, determination,  patriotism  and political will? The Igbos who merely attempted secession were brutalized and suppressed. Who will suppress these raging evil killers? Quod erat demonstrandum.” —Bishop Ignatius Kaigama

“World watches in awe as 12 boys are being rescued from imminent death by floods in Thailand while Nigeria watches as hundreds die avoidably for cows.” —Nigerian human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe

Nigeria’s bishops call again on president to save country from ‘avoidable chaos’ or resign

“It can no longer be regarded as mere coincidence that the suspected perpetrators of these heinous crimes are of the same religion as all those who control the security apparatus of our country, including the President himself,” the statement said. “Words are no longer enough for the President and his service chiefs to convince the rest of the citizens that these killings are not part of a larger religious project.”

“While we vehemently condemn any shedding of human blood and ask the Police to speedily arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, we must point out the double standards applied by the same Police any time the herdsmen are attacked and killed. In this latter case they react very swiftly and the law promptly takes its course. Would that the same swiftness be applied to all cases.

“Once again,” the bishops said, “we ask President Muhammadu Buhari to please save this country from further pain and avoidable chaos, anarchy and doom.” Should he not take action to promote peace, he should step down from his role, the statement said, as he would lose “the trust of the citizens.”  Read more

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 HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTEDHis 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!

Death Toll in Jos, Nigeria Attacks at 218, including Pastor, Wife and Son

Protestors on their way to Plateau state governor’s residence in Jos, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – An Assemblies of God Nigeria pastor, his wife and son were among at least 218 people killed in Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian areas near Jos on June 23-25, a denominational leader said.

Two days after the general superintendent of the AG-Nigeria denomination, the Rev. Chidi Okoroafor, reported the deaths of the Rev. Musa Choji and family members in the Barkin Ladi area near Jos, the federal government on Thursday (June 28) ordered the arrest of a pastor who organized protests of the killings, Christian leaders said.

The Rev. Isa Nenman, a pastor in Jos, was arrested on Thursday after the protests reportedly resulted in property destruction when he led demonstrators to the Government House, the residence of the governor of Plateau state, on Wednesday (June 27). Nenman is northern zone chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Plateau state chapter.

“Following yesterday’s peaceful protest by CAN supported by youth groups, the CAN chairman, Northern Zone, is in police custody, and there is a directive from Abuja to make arrests,” Paul Dekete, one of the facilitators of the protest march, said in a press statement.

The protest saw thousands of Christians dressed in black marching to the Governor’s House to demonstrate against incessant attacks on Christians in the state by armed Fulani herdsmen. Prior to the protests, Christians in Plateau state had observed two days of fasting and prayer on Wednesday and Thursday (June 27-28).

The protestors carried a placard calling for the government to “Declare Fulani herdsmen as terrorist,” and another one that read, “Ransack Fulani settlements.” The protests started peacefully, but after the governor declined to receive them, protestors reportedly tried to storm the premises, threw stones at cars and offices and chased government officials.

Killing of Pastor

The AG-Nigeria’s Okoroafor said the herdsmen in the June 24 attacks burned down the worship auditorium where Pastor Choji served.

“We received with pains in our heart the brutal killing of our pastor, the Rev. Musa Choji, his wife, his son and many other Nigerians including women and children, and also the burning of our church,” Okoroafor said. “The leadership of the Assemblies of God Nigeria calls for serious prayers and asks the government to do her expected responsibility by fishing out perpetrators of this ungodly act.”

CAN national leaders last week reported that 218 Christians died in the June 23-25 attacks.

CAN President Samson Ayokunle said in a press statement that the Christians were killed in 44 villages across the local government areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos, and Jos South, all in Plateau state.

“As the umbrella organization for all Christians in Nigeria, we are at pains at the tragedy that has befallen our members,” Ayokunle said. “We mourn the death of over 200 Christians slaughtered on the Plateau at the weekend, and we passionately appeal to the [Muhammadu] Buhari-led administration to rise up and put a stop to further killings of innocent people, including defenseless women and children.”

Ayokunle, also president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), said CAN obtained reliable information on the number of dead from June 23 to June 25 from local government areas around Jos.

“Apart from the total number of the deaths, there are still missing persons,” he said. “Many people also sustained various degrees of injuries.”

The Nigerian government should ensure that Christians are protected from further attacks, he said.

“CAN calls on all security agencies to wake up to their constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property,” Ayokunle said.

He urged them to be proactive, saying mobilizing troops and policemen after the havoc has been done does not make sense, and that a government that cannot protect its citizens is a failed government.

“CAN is, once again, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to replace all the security chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, because they have overstayed their welcome,” he said. “It is ridiculous and embarrassing that in the last three years, none of these criminals have been apprehended, detained, arraigned and convicted.”

This failure to prosecute is emboldening the herdsmen to kill the innocent with impunity, he said.

“We are approaching a state of anarchy faster than we can imagine,” he said. “Why are we following the footpath of Rwanda daily with these unprecedented killings and mass burials when we are not at war? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”

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.

Nigeria: Massacre as US IRF Freedom Ambassador departs; hundreds feared dead

(Voice of the Persecuted) International human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe sent an urgent alert to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) addressing a 60 hour killing spree that began last weekend [where possibly] 200 Christians were slaughtered in Plateau State, even as the US Ambassador At Large for International Religious Freedom was departing Nigeria.
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Ambassador Brownback’s one week visit was pockmarked with 6 suicide bombings by Boko Haram in one day (the largest single day detonations), deadly Shiite clashes with the police, altercations between local Muslims and a community and continuing killings by Muslim Fulani Herdsmen.
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The grand finale of this perfect storm of violence was the triple digit massacre in Plateau State. See Viewpoint Nigeria’s report Despair as death toll of Barkin Ladi killings reaches 106– 31 corpses were recovered from Gindin Akwati (i.e, Ex-lands),
– 34 from Gana-Ropp,
– 8 from Shonong and the balance
– 33 from small villages (e..g, Razat, Ruku, Nghar, Tanabu, Tisan, Kakuruk etc) in the vicinity.
Vanguard News front page called it a bloodbath
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Overnight, I have been inundated with photos too gruesome to share here of horribly mutilated bodies of children brutally macheted to death and macheted still after death for maximal horror effect, charred corpses and bodies stacked in mass graves, Ogebe lamented.
Already the Fulani have justified this heinous crime against humanity The sad thing is this is not the first time nor the last. In 2012 when Fulanis massacred over 60 Christian villagers in Plateau State, an executive of the same cattle [rearing] group said the same thing. I wrote to the Attorney General and asked, “This man has admitted the crime. Why hasn’t he been picked up?” He is still free till today. After the New Year Massacre in Benue State, again they admitted it. No one has been arrested.
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Worse still, some of the communities attacked this weekend were attacked previously. In fact one of them was part of the notorious 2010 Dogo Na Hawa Massacre in which 500 Christians were killed. That massacre 8 years ago spurred me to launch the Justice For Jos project and that has evolved to covering Boko Haram atrocities. Ironically the Herdsmen atrocities have continued unabated while Boko Haram hogged the spotlight.
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Sadly all of this occurred while Nigeria’s President Buhari was busy holding a party convention in his bid for re-election. Early last week I got distress messages from of our local workers that he was trapped outside the orphanage because of an ongoing Herdsmen attack. However President Buhari deployed over 5000 policemen for his security at the party convention and the killings built up until the massacre despite the early warnings.
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We hear reports that mass burials are being ordered by the authorities to hide the true casualties.
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Victims of the latest killings.

At this point the Plateau massacre this weekend looks likely to be the third worst in the 8 years in which I have tracked Herdsmen attacks.

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1. Dogo Nahawa 500 killed March 2010 Plateau State
2. Agatu 300 killed
February 2016 Benue State
3. Barkin Ladi 200? Plateau State June 2018
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Mourners at a funeral were also killed, see report. Again not for the first time.
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It is disconcerting that a small Muslim minority can so terrorize Christian majorities in Benue and Plateau state because of their monopoly of violence. The great danger is if Christians choose not to take it anymore. Friends and family have been appealing for evacuation since last night as Muslims are amassing. However Plateau is where most Christians from the far north flee for safety so where does everyone one now go?
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One of my colleagues [informed] me that Rocket Propelled Grenades were used in these attacks. I am waiting on the evidence but if true, this is not the first time either.

Egypt Tries to ‘Reconcile’ Coptic Churches to Non-Existence

By  — From attacks by Muslim mobs to closures by Muslim authorities, the lamentable plight of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt always follows a pattern, one that is unwaveringly only too typical.

Thus, last April 14, a Muslim mob—predictably riled by the previous day’s Friday mosque sermons—attacked the church of the Holy Virgin and Pope Kyrillos in Beni Meinin, Beni Suef.   According to Watani, as with 3,500 other Egyptian churches, after patently waiting for decades to receive a permit, the church “had been used for worship for some 10 years now…  [T]he building authority committee had recently [earlier that day] visited the church in preparation for legalising its status, and the attack was waged in retaliation.”

Local authorities’ response was even more typical: Twenty people were arrested after the attack—eleven Muslims (attackers) and nine Copts (defenders).  At least five of the arrested Christians, whose “crime” was to try to put out fires Muslims started, were illegally incarcerated for over a month.  One lost his job due to this prolonged absence (police refused to admit holding him to his employer).

Thereafter, on May 22, followed the usual “reconciliation” meeting between local Christian and Muslim elders, whereby victims forego their legal rights in an out of court settlement.  In order to release their innocents the Copts had to agree to close the church—no more mass, wedding or funeral services on grounds that it is a “security risk”—and agree that the eleven Muslims who led the violent attack also be acquitted.

Just four days after that, the whole process was repeated again: on May 26, another Muslim mob attacked a church in the village of al-Shuqaf in the province of Beheira.  “The mob,” notes the report, “also pelted the Coptic villagers’ houses with stones, damaged the priest’s car, and set on fire a motorbike that was parked in front of the church. Seven Copts suffered slight injuries. The police was called and caught 11 Muslims and nine Copts.”

As with the previous church incident, according to Watani, this church had also

been in use for worship for over three years now, and is known as the church of St Mark…  a few months ago, construction work started on building a mosque close to the church. On Saturday afternoon [May 26], the Muslim worshippers began shouting slogans against the church and the Copts, and used the mosque microphones to call upon the villagers to attack the church. Many villagers gathered and waged the attack.

The Coptic villagers claim that the nine Copts who were arrested had been caught randomly in what has now become common practice by the police in order to pressure the Copts into ‘[re]conciliation,’ so that no legal action would be taken against the Muslim culprits in exchange for setting free the Coptic detainees and ensuring a swift end to hostilities.

Such is the unvarying “boilerplate” plight of Egypt’s Christians and their churches. To become acquainted with the persecution of one Coptic church is to become acquainted with all.  For instance, nearly two years ago I offered the following detailed look at the “reconciliation” process—one that, as these two recent incidences show, remains perfectly applicable to and well entrenched in Egypt:

Christians trying to build a church … are typical violations that prompt large, armed Muslim mobs to attack all the Christians in that village (and their church if one exists) as a form of collective punishment, which is also Islamic….

After the uprising has fizzled out, authorities arrive.  Instead of looking for and arresting the culprits or mob ringleaders—or, as often is the case, the local imam who incites the Muslim mob against the “uppity infidels” who need to be reminded of “their place”—authorities gather the leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities together in what are termed “reconciliation meetings.”  During these meetings, Christians are asked to make further concessions to angry Muslims.

Authorities tell Christian leaders things like, “Yes, we understand the situation and your innocence, but the only way to create calm in the village is for X [the offending Christian and extended family, all of whom may have been beat] to leave the village—just for now, until things calm down.” Or, “Yes, we understand you need a church, but as you can see, the situation is volatile right now, so, for the time being, maybe you can walk to the church in the next town six miles away—you know, until things die down.”…

[Should Christians] rebuff the authorities’ offer and demand their rights as citizens against the culprits, the authorities smile and say “okay.”  Then they go through the village making arrests—except that most of those whom they arrest are Christian youths.  Then they tell the Christian leaders, “Well, we’ve made the arrests. But, just as you say so-and-so [Muslim] was involved, there are even more witnesses [Muslims] who insist your own [Christian] youths were the ones who began the violence.  So, we can either arrest and prosecute them, or you can rethink our offer about having a reconciliation meeting.”

Under the circumstances, dejected Christians generally agree to the further mockery.  What alternative do they have?  They know if they don’t their youth will certainly go to prison and be tortured.   In one recent incident, wounded Christians who dared fight against Muslim attackers were arrested and, despite serious injuries, held for seven hours and prevented from receiving medical attention….

[N]ot only are the victims denied any justice, but the aggressors are further emboldened to attack again.

Indeed, as seen by recent events—including one month where four churches were attacked and then closed—this modus operandi and culture of emboldened impunity is now more entrenched in Egypt than before.

Two Christians Ambushed, Killed in Central Nigeria

Peace Joseph, 6, slain in attack in Miango, Nigeria on March 8. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Sunday (June 10) killed two Christians and seriously wounded another in central Nigeria as they made their way home from a church service, local sources said.

Ibrahim Weyi, 45, and Larry More, 53, were said to be hacked to death when herdsmen ambushed them at 7:40 p.m. as the Christians were going home on a motorcycle from an evening worship service in Plateau state’s Kwall village, in the Bassa area, Patience Moses told Morning Star News.

A third Christian, 23-year-old Samuel Weyi, was wounded in the attack, the local resident said. All three belong to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Kwall, another resident, Lawerence Zango, told Morning  Star News. Weyi is receiving treatment at an Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Jos, he said.

“Fulani herdsmen have continued to kill innocent Christians in our villages, yet the Nigerian government has not taken proactive measures to end the onslaught,” Zango said.

A spokesman for the Plateau State Command, Mathias Tyopev, confirmed the attack and told Morning Star News that an investigation is underway.

Herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in the Bassa area intensified late last year and have continued in spite of the presence of military personnel, sources said. Since February, 11 Christians have lost their lives in the area at the hands of Muslim Fulani herdsmen, including the two killed on Sunday, said the Rev. Sunday Zibeh, pastor of the ECWA church in Nzharuvo, Miango.

“In these cases, the victims were either ambushed and killed by the herdsmen or attacked in their homes at night,” Pastor Zibeh told Morning Star News. “The sad reality is that the Nigerian government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Muslim and a Fulani man, has not acted in any way to end these attacks.”

He gave the names of those killed as Adam Sunday, 38; Jatau Akus, 39; Chohu Awarhai and Marcus Mali, 22, all of Jebbu-Miango village. They were ambushed and killed by the herdsmen on April 18.

“The four victims were construction workers working on site when they were attacked,” he said.

In March two other Christians, 17-year-old Lumumbah Chayi and Joseph Alli, 23, were killed in Jebbu-Miango and Rotsu villages, he said.

“Joseph was attacked and beheaded at about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15 in Rotsu village, while Chayi, a high school student, was murdered on Monday, March 12, at about 7 p.m. by the Fulani herdsmen in Kwall village,” he said.

In February three other Christians were killed and two injured in an ambush by herdsmen near Zanwra village, Pastor Zibeh said. John Esije was 32; Monday Nzwe was 38; and Saku Giyeri was 41. The wounded survivors are Sunday Bala, 33, and, Gudu Gara, 25, he said, adding that all the victims were members of ECWA church.

Zango, a church youth leader in Miango, which is part of the Bassa Local Government Area, told Morning Star News that since the beginning of 2017, 99 Christians in the Miango area have been killed in attacks on at least 26 villages, with another 44 Christians injured and 863 houses razed.

Among them were three children of an ECWA church member in Nzharuvo village, Miango. Joseph Gah Nze said Muslim Fulani herdsmen broke into his house on at 10 p.m. on March 8 and killed his three children – 12-year-old twins Christopher and Emmanuel, and 6-year Peace Joseph – and 18-year-old nephew Henry Audu.

In addition, Zango said more than 23,000 Christians have been displaced from their Miango area homes, thousands of dollars of farm produce have been destroyed and 15 motorbikes and a bus have been burned. At least 24 irrigation water pumps have been destroyed, he added.

The Irigwe Development Association, an umbrella community organization for Irigwe ethnic peoples, who are predominantly Christian, in April decried the incessant killings. Sunday Abdu, president of the association, said at a press conference in Jos on April 24 that between Jan. 25 and March 12, more than 70 Christians were killed by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

“The Irigwe nation feels compelled to once more raise the alarm over the continuous loss of lives from attacks on innocent villages,” Abdu said. “You are aware that we buried 25 people on the day we had set out to bury four out of the five that were killed on the night of the president’s visit to the state, this is in addition to the ones we have buried from series of attacks since January, not to mention the number of homes we have lost from such attacks and the destruction of farmlands which has ensured a looming hunger.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

 

 

US missionary, captive for 20 months, is alive, reports Niger’s president

For 20 months, there has been no news of Jeff Woodke (Photo: Facebook/Blaise Gaitou)

(World Watch Monitor) A US missionary kidnapped in Niger in October 2016 is alive, according to the West African nation’s president.

Jeff Woodke, who worked for Jeunesse en Mission Entraide et Developpement (JEMED), a branch of the US-based Youth With a Mission, was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of Friday 14 October, 2016, from the town of Abalak in northern Niger.

For 20 months, there has been no news of Woodke, but on Monday, 4 June, President Mahamadou Issoufou told TV channel France24 that both he and a German aid worker kidnapped in April this year are alive.

“We have some news; we know they’re alive,” the president said. “We continue to create the conditions for their release. Perhaps the contacts that are underway will help to achieve that goal.”

It is the first proof of life since the kidnapping of the two Western citizens in the Sahel country.

Little had been known, or at least divulged, about Woodke’s condition or location, other than that his captors were tracked to neighbouring Mali by Nigerien authorities. No group has publicly claimed responsibility.

Last July, a coalition of jihadist groups active in the Sahel region (Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, also known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims), affiliated to Al-Qaeda, released a video showing six foreign hostages, including three missionaries, but not Jeff Woodke.

The three missionaries in the video were: Colombian nun Gloria Argoti, kidnapped on 7 February from her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali; Australian surgeon Ken Elliott, kidnapped in January 2016 from Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the Mali border; and Swiss missionary Béatrice Stockly, kidnapped in Mali’s northern town of Timbuktu, also in January 2016.

All are still captive.

Jeff Woodke’s wife, Els, issued a video pleading for his safe return when there was no sign of him in that video, believing that he could also be held by those who issued it.

“I am sure that the families of the captives were very encouraged by this message and appreciated the mercy shown by Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen in sending this news and instructions about their loved ones,” said Mrs Woodke in her video.

“But my husband Jeff is not mentioned, so I did not receive the benefit of the reassurance and directions of how to proceed that the other families did. This has been very hard for me, for Jeff’s sons and his father to understand.”

The German Joerg Lange, employed by the aid group Help, was kidnapped by armed men on 11 April, in Niger’s western town of Ayorou, which shares a border with troubled northern Mali.

No group has claimed responsibility for his abduction, but a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that his kidnappers had “already taken him to northern Mali”.

On Monday, President Issoufou said he did not know exactly where the pair were being detained, but that “it is more likely that they are in Mali”.

Prayercast Ramadan Challenge: Day 23 – Egypt

SUMMARY: Egypt’s ancient legacy and span of achievements is truly astounding. This remarkable nation is often known by the world for its ancient pyramids, nearly 3,000 years of history, and the Biblical story of the deliverance of the Israelites. Though it has a predominantly desert landscape, farms and sprawling cities line the banks of the Nile River. Egypt remains the most populous country in the Arab world and holds great regional and global influence. What happens here has the potential to impact the entire Muslim world!

The Arab Spring (a series of anti-government protests and uprisings across the Middle East starting in 2011) sparked political upheaval across the Arab world. Egypt was no exception, erupting in mass protests that led to the ousting of then President Hosni Mubarak. Clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood protesters and the brutally reactive military left hundreds dead. Conflict continues to polarize the nation. Amid an increasingly repressive government, Egypt is terrorized by Islamic extremism. Following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) led an insurgency, bringing widespread terror and the tragic deaths of thousands. Political unrest has inhibited the nation from addressing economic problems, corruption, and strained resources. Approximately a quarter of the population lives in poverty, only exacerbated by the water crisis. Farmers face imprisonment or hunger due to the regulations on crops that require more water. In addition to this tragedy, forced labor and sex trafficking leaves street children especially vulnerable.

Egypt was a majority-Christian nation for over 1,000 years, and today it remains home to the Middle East’s largest body of Christians – the Coptic Church (12%). Evangelical Christianity is on the rise, though still only about 3% of the population. Yet Islam remains the state religion and the faith of 87% of its people. Egypt is also often seen as the intellectual center for Sunni Islam. Though the Egyptian Church has endured persecution for over 2,000 years, recent instability and the presence of the Islamic State have intensified their suffering. Horrific scenes of church bombings have brought the plight of Egyptian Christians to the world stage. However, even as persecution increases, so does the number of Muslims turning to Christ! Scripture is more accessible than ever, and the Church is growing in unity across theological differences.

As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Egypt will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.

Continent: Africa

Capital City: Cairo

Government: Republic

Population: 97,041,072

Major People Groups: Arab 92.1%, Berber 2%,

Gypsy 1.4%, Nubians 1.1%, other 0.8%

Religion: Muslim 90%, Christian 10%

Language: Arabic, English, French

GDP Per Capita: $13,000

Literacy Rate: 73.8%

UNREACHED: 59.5%

PRAYER POINTS

• Pray for a stable and trustworthy government to act in the interest of all its people.

• Pray for the Church to continue to overcome evil with divine forgiveness and love.

• Pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to an unprecedented number of Muslims disillusioned by Islamic State.

Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

Time:
9 p.m. Eastern time
8 p.m. Central time
7 p.m. Mountain time
6 p.m. Pacific time
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International IDOP Prayer Conference Call Numbers

(Note: If using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.)

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

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Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

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Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

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Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

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Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

 

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