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Persecution Watch: Praying for believers in Morocco

10/22/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) MOROCCO – Population: 36,6million, Christian 32,200

Morocco is ruled by a monarch who is purportedly a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad and intends to govern the nation with Islamic principles. Although the North African country has experienced 1,400 years of Islamic oppression, Morocco’s original inhabitants, the Berbers, were not Muslim. Islam was brought to the country by invading Arabs in the eighth century. Today, less than 1 percent of the population is Christian. The growth of Christianity has been slow, with a major setback occurring in 2010 when hundreds of missionaries were forced out of the country. With the rise of digital technology and social media, more Moroccans are coming to faith. Nearly all Moroccans are Sunni Muslims. The government is the main persecutor. Family, friends and communities also persecute Christian converts.

What It Means To Follow Christ In Morocco:

There are no church buildings in Morocco. Bible distributions and missionaries are not allowed in the country. It is difficult to find fellowship, but networks of underground churches have developed in recent years. Most believers have not had access to God’s Word or discipleship. A number of Christians have been imprisoned on charges of apostasy or proselytizing.

About 35 million people live in Morocco, but only a few printed Bibles exist in the country. It is difficult to get a Bible, but believers access Scripture through creative methods like digital files on SD cards, which they can use on their mobile phones and tablets.

Because they cannot get permission and official recognition to meet together publicly, Moroccan Christians meet in house churches; they are especially aware they are under close surveillance by authorities who monitor their activities. To ensure Moroccans are not attending services, expatriate churches are also monitored intensely.  Expatriates accused of sharing the gospel in Morocco have been deported. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face pressure from their families and communities, especially in rural areas, so they may be forced to keep their faith a secret.

Converts from a Muslim background are often the victim of physical or even sexual abuse at the hands of members of their (extended) family. Female converts have been forced to marry a Muslim man.

· Pray for a change in the Penal Code. The recurrent problem for Christians who are open about their faith relates to Article 220 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes “shaking the faith of a Muslim.” This puts many Christians who talk to others about their faith at risk of criminal prosecution and arrest. Pray that believes are emboldened to share the love of Christ.

 

· Pray for Christians who have difficulty finding a church to attend. Pray that they would not be discouraged or lose their commitment to meet with a church community.

While the law only punishes proselytization, converts to Christianity can be punished in other ways, for instance by losing inheritance rights and custody of children. Pray for protection against injustice.

· Pray to the Lord for the wisdom of believers caught by secret police.

 

· Pray to the Lord  that believers will boldly share the gospel with their families.

 

· Pray to the Lord that all Christians will remain united in Morocco.

 

· Pray to  the Lord that Islamic schools led by extremists will be closed.

 

· Pray that Bibles will become more accessible throughout the country.

 

· Pray that the Lord would be at work through his Holy Spirit and that hardship and persecution would be catalysts to a deeper, more intimate knowledge of Christ.

 

· Pray that the pastors and elders will also be built up in the Spirit and will be able to comfort others.

 

· Pray for that the Lord will give wisdom and protection to the NGOs who are doing covet ministry

 

· Pray to the Lord that He will protect Christian women and girls from sexual abuse and forced marriages to Muslims.

 

· Pray that the strong Christian messages on the internet that will encourage believers and let Muslims see and understand the Good News.

 

· Pray to the Lord as head of the church that He will grow and expand His church.  That the forces of darkness will be bound and their efforts will be futile to prevent the church from expanding greatly.

Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for:

· Leah Sharibu and Alice, prisoners of Boko Haram, pray that they will be set free.

· Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

·  Pray for Anita, an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime.

You are invited to join us on Thursday, October 22 in a prayer call for the persecuted church.

Andy, Persecution Watch Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

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Call in number: 712 775-7035

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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

 

 

Young Christian Man Hacked to Death in North-Central Nigeria

National Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria hacked a young Catholic man to death with machetes on Wednesday (Oct. 14), one of eight Christians killed this month in Plateau state.

The herdsmen ambushed 25-year-old Justine Patrick and two Christian companions at about 6 p.m. as they were returning from farm work to Chaha village, Jos South County, according to area resident Ruth Pam.

“Patrick’s companions, Daniel Gyang and Sele Dung, escaped being killed by the armed herdsmen,” Pam told Morning Star News in a text message. “Patrick was cut with machetes until he died.”

Chaha is near the town of K-Vom, where a herdsmen attack on Sept. 24 killed five Christians.

On Friday (Oct. 16) in Daffo town, Bokkos County, Fulani herdsmen ambushed Mukan Solomon Dauda, a 54-year-old Christian who is a security guard for Living Faith Church, according to area resident Simon Agam. Dauda escaped with injuries, one of five Christians wounded in herdsmen attacks this month.

“He was on his way to his guard duty at the church when he was attacked, and he’s currently receiving treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital,” Agam told Morning Star News.

Fulani herdsmen on Oct. 8 killed a Christian in Kuru-Jenta village. Pam said Davou Musa, choir director of his home church, Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Tya Vom village, and at the nearby COCIN congregation in Rahwol Chom village, was 30.

“Davou Musa was also a member of the Boys Brigade, a Christian youth organization, which ministers in churches,” Pam said.

The previous day in Vwak village, Riyom County, a Christian woman was wounded by gunshot in a herdsmen attack on her home at 10:30 p.m. as she was sleeping.

“Miss Blessing Davou sustained gunshot wounds and she’s currently receiving medical treatment in a hospital in the city of Jos,” area resident Bitrus Chung told Morning Star News.

Six Others Killed

Suspected herdsmen on Oct. 5 attacked predominantly Christian Wereng village in Riyom County, killing six people, according to area resident Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri.

“Heavily armed men believed to be Fulani herdsmen alongside their cohorts at about 10 p.m. invaded the community, killing six people,” Mwantiri said in a press statement.

He identified the slain as “Chungyang Mwadkon Tengong, Pam Bako Pwol, Davou Kwal, Linus Rapheal, Mrs. Vou Pam, Miss Evelyn Peter and a minor.”

Wounded were Kim Francis, 32; Mary Francis, 65; and Lyop David 35, Mwantiri said.

Genocide

Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong, in a statement issued by his spokesman, called for an end to the bloodshed.

“We will not allow these ugly incidences to return where helpless and innocent people are murdered in cold blood for no reason. These killers must be fished out at whatever cost and brought to justice,” Lalong said. “I urge the people to cooperate with the security agencies by providing useful information that will facilitate the arrest of the attackers.”

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Burkina Faso: Fulani pastor brings hope to stigmatised communities

Photo: RobertoVi

(World Watch Monitor) The disproportionate presence of ethnic Fulani among Islamist militants wreaking havoc in the Sahel and West Africa has led to a stigmatisation of the Fulani generally, says a Protestant pastor from Burkina Faso.

In April security forces went into Djibo, a town in the northern part of Burkina Faso and killed 31 unarmed Fulani men. The men were rounded up after their IDs had been checked.

A former inhabitant of the village told Radio France Internationale the security forces “go to the villages where these people grew up and look for their relatives. The relatives don’t support terrorism, they are living in their villages. But they detain these people who they see as complicit in terrorism”.

“There is not a very good view of the Fulani,” said Adama, himself Fulani and a pastor in central Burkina Faso who asked not to be identified by his real name for security reasons.

“They are regarded as militants taking part in jihadi attacks, causing trouble in the Sahel region. But that is not all that there is to it. Not all Fulani are terrorists and not all terrorists are Fulani. We, the Fulani, are also the image of God and one first needs to see that,” he told World Watch Monitor. In Burkina Faso the Fulani make up 6.3% of the population.

‘More serious challenge than Covid-19’

Adama studied theology in the UK but returned to Burkina Faso in 2008 to serve among his own people. “Things are not the same as they were,” he said. “Burkinabe people are under increased pressure. We have got to watch our backs all the time. What we are dealing with is a far more serious challenge than Covid-19”.

Burkina Faso has become vulnerable to the instability plaguing the greater Sahel region caused by a number of Islamist extremist militia groups. The country not only battles widespread poverty – 40.1% of the population living below the national poverty line, a power vacuum following a coup in 2014 and the spread of radical Islamist teachings have provided fertile soil.

“The terrorism activities have hit us so quickly,” Adama said. “These groups moved in and took control of areas where there was less government presence and the population had little access to education, health care etc. Many areas of Burkina’s northern and eastern regions have now become ‘no-go’ areas.”

As a result of the violence, many churches and schools in these regions have closed and people have fled to other parts of the country.

Pastor Adama has been trying to help those who decided to stay as well as other vulnerable communities.  A training centre in a village in central Burkina Faso offers skills training and people can take what they have learned back to their villages: “Now many of these villages have shops, restaurants etc – things they did not have before.” His ministry also organises quarterly “community health days” in which doctors are invited to visit communities to avoid people having to travel to the nearest city for healthcare.

“In the midst of stigmatisation and the terrorism agenda which brings violence, we bring peace and transformation into these communities,” he said.

Who are the Fulani?

The Fula people, often described as the Fulani, are regarded as the world’s largest nomadic group: an estimated 40 million people dispersed across 20 nations, mostly in Western Africa. The majority resides in Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, and Niger but they also can be found in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic and Egypt.

They speak Fula languages as well as Hausa, English, French and Arabic.

The centuries-old Fulani heritage is pastoral, organized primarily around nomadic herding of cattle, sheep and goats, though segments of the Fulani farm crops or live in urban areas.

The Fulani were early adopters of Islam, participating in holy wars, or jihads, in the 16th Century that established them as a dominant social and economic force in Western Africa.

Conflict

As the frontier of the Sahara Desert has moved southward, Fulani herds have gradually been pushed southward, causing conflicts with farming communities. In regions such as Nigeria’s Middle Belt, however, the conflicts have become more sinister than simple land disputes that boil over into violence. Many of the farmers belong to the ethnic Berom, mostly Christian, indigenous people, and the attacks have taken on an ethnic and religious character.

In Burkina Faso the Fulani are targeted for recruitment by terrorist groups such as Ansar ul Islam — a homegrown group which emerged in 2016 – that has been responsible for many of the attacks in the northern and eastern parts of the country. The armed violence by Ansar ul Islam and other radical groups moving in from Mali, has displaced at least 1 million people.

Three Young Christians Assaulted in Khartoum North, Sudan

Khartoum Mosque (Azri Alhaq)

(Morning Star News) – A pastor’s son, his cousin and their 20-year-old aunt were assaulted in a suburb north of Khartoum, Sudan on Tuesday (Oct. 6) as Muslims continued targeting church members despite religious freedoms favored by the new transitional government.

Levi Hakim, 17, had gone into a shop in the Alsamrab neighborhood in Khartoum North (Khartoum Bahri) to make purchases that morning when a Muslim man approached and dragged him behind the Taqwa Mosque, Hakim’s mother said.

There two other Muslim men joined the assailant and, saying they were upset with the continued presence of Christians in the area, beat him in turns, she said.

“My son was beaten by three Muslim men, and he suffered injuries to his neck,” Adaarina Alfred Laku told Morning Star News, adding that the assailants did not rob him but tore off some of his clothing.

Hakim is a member of Khartoum National Presbyterian Church. When he failed to return from the shop, his cousin, 16-year-old Jal John Paul, went to search for him. Jal John Paul’s father, John Paul, is pastor of their church.

Upon the 16-year-old’s arrival, the assailants identified him as “another one of them [Christians]” and beat him, injuring his arm, Laku said. When the two teenaged Christians failed to return, Pastor John Paul’s sister, 20-year-old Nyawal Paul, went to the shop to see why her nephews were delayed, and the three Muslim men beat her too, Laku said. Nyawal Paul received first aid for minor injuries.

The beaten Christians, all members of the same church, did not know the three Muslim assailants, who appeared to be in their 40s, Laku said.

Her family reported the assaults to police on Tuesday (Oct. 6), but officers have not acted on the complaint, she said. Laku has since received an in-person threat from one of the assailants.

“One of the men cautioned me to drop the case, or else they will deal with us,” Laku told Morning Star News.

The Christian mother added that she was determined to proceed with the case to obtain justice for her son in spite of intimidation tactics.

The attacks come four months after June 6 asssaults on Christians in Khartoum. At the end of evening prayers at a mosque in the Al-Jerif East area, on the eastern bank of the Blue Nile River in Khartoum’s East Nile Locality, imams called for residents to rid Christian South Sudanese from the “Muslim area,” a source told Morning Star News. Attacks on Christians in the area followed that evening and the next day.

On June 20 in Omdurman, across the Nile River west of Khartoum, young Muslim men shouting the jihadist slogan “Allah Akbar [God is greater]” stabbed a Christian to death in a street assault on him and four other South Sudanese in the Shigla area, another source said.

The attacks come amid hopes that persecution of Christians would decline under the new transitional government. After Omar al-Bashir was deposed as president in April 2019, the government sworn in on Sept. 8, 2019 led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months.

The transitional government faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power. After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years. Christians were expected to have greater voice under the new administration.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 had expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Bashir was ousted in April, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20, 2019 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list.

Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Sudan ranked 7th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Children Killed, Christian Leaders Kidnapped in Nigeria

Bulus Chuwang Janka killed Plateau state,/Bege Katuka kidnapped in Kaduna

Nigeria, (Morning Star News) – Two young Christian women and a 6-year-old boy were killed this week while other Christians were kidnapped or slain as uncontested lawlessness by Fulani herdsmen continued in Nigeria, sources said.

In Plateau state the herdsmen attacked Kpachudu village in Miango District, Bassa County west of Jos, at about 8 p.m. on Monday (Sept. 28), said area resident Patience Moses in a text message to Morning Star News. Slain were Emmanuel David, 6; Asabe John, 25; and Mary Andrew, 18, she said.

Last week a 64-year-old Christian community leader was one of eight Christians killed in Plateau state by Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim. Chundung Bulus, 52, said her husband, Bulus Chuwang Janka, was lured out of his house by a call to his cell phone the evening of Sept. 21 in Rasat village, Barkin Ladi County.

“We were watching a program on television together with my husband at about 7:30 p.m. when suddenly our electric generator switched off – and suddenly, his mobile phone rang,” she told Morning Star News.

Her husband went outside to try to find a spot for better network reception, she said.

“A few minutes after he stepped out of the house, we heard distress shouts for help from him,” said Bulus, whose family belongs to the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN). “My son and I rushed out to find out what was happening, when his attackers also shot at us. We were able to identify them as herdsmen. We escaped and hid ourselves and saw how my husband was being cut with machetes by the herdsmen.”

Fulani herdsmen also attacked their village on July 17, she said.

Dagallang Dabot, chairman of the Berom Educational and Cultural Organization, confirmed the killing in a text message and decried numerous attacks on Christians in the area.

“We are getting tired of being subjected to violence by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen without the Nigerian government doing anything to end these unprovoked attacks on us,” Dabot said.

On Sept. 24 in Jos South County’s K-Vom town, Vwang District, Fulani herdsmen killed five men and wounded another, all members of COCIN or Catholic churches, in an attack at about 9 p.m., Christian attorney Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri told Morning Star News.

He identified those killed as Goyit Paul, Timothy David, Pam Chukwak, Audu Tahiru and Emmanuel Isaiah, a student at the National Veterinary Research Institute; Dalyop Gyang survived with injuries.

In Riyom County, Fulani herdsmen on Sept. 23 killed a woman and her son as they worked on their farm in Sopp village, Mwantiri said.

“The victims, Mrs. Margaret Bwede and her son Dadong Bwede, sustained fatal injuries when they were attacked at about 2 p.m. as they were cultivating their farm,” he said. “They were both members of the COCIN church in Sopp village.”

Also in Riyom County on Sept. 23, a throng of armed herdsmen attacked field workers in Jol village at about 11 a.m., injuring nine of them, including 38-year-old widow Naomi Joshua.

“We were working on our fields near a mining site when about 100 Fulani herdsmen armed with guns and machetes attacked us,” Joshua told Morning Star News. “We all scampered in different directions, but nine amongst us were injured. Our community has constantly been attacked by herdsmen, and we find it difficult to work on our farms.”

Those wounded, all members of COCIN church, received hospital treatment, she said. Besides Joshau, Mwantiri identified the other Christian victims as James Musa, 32; Alpha Pam, 24; Joshua Bwede, 40; Richard Chong, 22; Davou Yakubu Darian, 35; Darwang Gyang, 30; Timothy Dachollom, 28; and Dachung Gambous, 51.

Earlier in the month, herdsmen on Sept. 11 ambushed four COCIN members of Wereng village, Riyom County, shooting one of them dead, said community leader Davou Gyang.

“Mr. Francis Gyang, 25, was killed while the remaining three escaped,” Davou Gyang said in a text message.

One of the survivors, Friday Gyanga, described the attack to Morning Star News.

“There were about 10 armed herdsmen with guns, machetes, and cudgels who ambushed us,” Gyanga said by text message. “They shot at us, and Francis was hit by the bullets. He died instantly while we escaped.”

Herdsmen also ambushed and killed a Christian couple on Sept. 6 in Hukke village, near the town of Miango in Bassa County, Moses said. Members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) church in Hukke, 45-year-old Sunday Audu Evi and his wife, Siye Evi, 32 were killed shortly before 7 p.m.

Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong lamented the killings in in a press statement.

“Innocent people cannot be killed without anybody being apprehended and put to trial,” he said. “If we do not do so, more criminals will be bold to attack and kill innocent people.”

Pastor Kidnapped

An ECWA pastor, the Rev. Chris Dariya, was kidnapped along with his son, Benji Dariya, by suspected Fulani herdsmen from their home in Jos on Tuesday (Sept. 29), a church spokesman said.

Pastor Dariya, also the director of his church-based Radio ELWA, was kidnapped at about 9 p.m. when suspected herdsmen broke into his home, said the Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, ECWA spokesman. Morning Star News learned on Wednesday (Sept. 30) that the pastor’s son had escaped.

“The son of Rev. Chris Dariya, who was kidnapped last night alongside his dad, has escaped from their captors, but his father is still being held,” Ralph Madugu, editor of the ECWA’s Today’s Challenge Magazine, told Morning Star News.

Lawlessness in Kaduna State

A Christian community leader in Kaduna state was kidnapped on Sunday (Sept. 27) by suspected Fulani herdsmen, and 21 others were kidnapped in separate attacks while eight Christians were killed, sources said.

Bege Katuka, council chairman of Kaura County in southern Kaduna state, was kidnapped as he went to survey his farm in Chikun County. He had hired a bikeman to take him by motorcycle, and the bikeman was shot dead in the kidnapping of Katuka, residents told Morning Star News.

On Sept. 11 suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped four Christians in an attack in Chikun County on predominantly Christian Udawa village and abducted 17 others the next day, area residents said.

Paul Iliya told Morning Star News by text message that the herdsmen attack on Udawa village went on uninterrupted for two days, through Sept. 12.

“Four Christian farmers were kidnapped on Friday, Sept. 11, while another set of 17 Christians were also kidnapped the following morning at about 7 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 12, as they were working on their farms,” Iliya said, adding that they were members of either Baptist or Assemblies of God churches.

As the suspected herdsmen kidnapped Christians working on their farms, another group of armed Fulani killed Christians in Zangon Kataf County, also in southern Kaduna state, according to Luka Binniyat, spokesman for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU).

The attack on residents of Manyi-Mashin village resulted in the killing of eight Christians and the destruction of their houses, Binniyat said in a statement.

“The Fulani militia killed a 60-year-old widow, a mother of six children, and a 56-year-old man in Manyi-Mashin village, Zamandabo ward, in Atyap Chiefdom,” Binniyat said. “The attack on the community took place in the early hours of Friday, Sept. 11, and the Fulani militias burned down almost all the houses in the village, looting and carting away valuables.”

In the same area on Sept. 8, he said, Fulani militia ambushed three Christians from Atakmawei village in Zamandabo Ward, killing one of them.

“The three Christian farmers had gone to work on their farms about a kilometer from their village,” he said. “The armed herdsmen came from hiding and struck, descending on them with daggers and machetes. Anthony Magaji, 25, was hacked down with an axe and machetes. Isaac Thomas, 24, managed to escape with life-threatening injuries and is now under intensive care in a hospital, while the third escaped with less injury.”

The same day, Fulani militias attacked Kitsarapang village in Kizachi Chiwo of Kizachi community, Tsam Chiefdom in Kauru County, killing 13-year-old Emmanuel David Yohanna, he said. Seriously wounded by gunshot were Sunday Zango Stephen, 48, and Zakka John, 23, who were being treated at a hospital in Jos, he said.

On Sept. 6, he added, three decomposing bodies of people herdsmen had kidnapped were found on the Kaduna-Abuja highway, Binniyat said.

“They were among four persons that were abducted during an attack by the herdsmen at Maraban Rido, a suburb of Kaduna in Chikun Local Government Area, all in southern Kaduna state,” he said. “They were killed after ransoms were paid.”

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

VOP Note: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Christian Boy in Uganda Feared Killed in Ritual Sacrifice

Abdulmajidu, 11, was said to have been killed in ritual sacrifice in Uganda. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – A Christian boy has been killed after a woman said to be a radical Muslim opposed to his father’s conversion from Islam sold him and his sister to a witchdoctor for ritual sacrifice, sources said.

Sulaiman Pulisi, a former imam (mosque leader) who became a Christian three years ago, said that in July 2018 his daughter, then 13, and his then-11-year-old son, Abdulmajidu, disappeared from their home in eastern Uganda’s Kachiribong village, Kasasira Town in Kibuku District. Police rescued his daughter on Sept. 16.

“We are mourning for our son who is alleged to have been sacrificed,” the crestfallen Pulisi told Morning Star News. “We are mourning with my daughter, who has been used as a sex object by the Muslim shaman.”

The identity of the suspected kidnappers remained unclear. Pulisi’s daughter, whose name is withheld for security reasons, was rescued from the witchdoctor’s home in a village in western Uganda after a Christian shopkeeper there asked her where she had come from.

“A radical Muslim woman called Sania Muhammad [of Kasasira, in eastern Uganda] who had connections with Muslim men used to look for children of converts from Islam and sell them to this particular Muslim witchdoctor,” the shopkeeper, Joseph Sodo, told Morning Star News based on what police have told him about their investigations.

After being kidnapped, Pulisi’s daughter used to buy items from Sodo’s shop in western Uganda’s Nakalama village, Ntwetwe, Nankadwa Sub-County, Kyankwanzi District, and one day he asked her where she had come from, he said.

She replied that she came from Kachiribong village in Kibuku District, and when she entered the shop again a week later, he asked further about how she had come to live in Nakalama, he said.

“I was speechless to discover that the girl is from a born-again, former imam but stays with a well-known Muslim witchdoctor or shaman named Isifu Abdullah, who makes use of amulets and charms inscribed with verses of the Koran in warding off evil forces,” Sodo told Morning Star News.

Besides treating patients for a variety of mental and physical problems, Abdullah was known as a traditional “healer” who used trinkets, potions and incantations to counter financial and social ruin attributed to malicious spirits and other supernatural beings, Sodo said. Belief in evil spells and counter-spells is widespread in Uganda, and human sacrifices for blood and organs believed to get rid of especially harmful curses are increasingly reported.

Sodo said he was further alarmed when the girl told him that her brother had disappeared two months after they were brought to western Uganda.

“When my brother disappeared, Abdullah took me as his wife,” she told him, Sodo said.

“At first the girl feared to disclose who her parents were, saying, ‘Abdullah warned me that I should keep his identity a secret, and that if I disclose his identity, then I will die,’” he said. “I promised her that Jesus will protect her, and nothing wrong will befall her. Then she gave me the phone number of her father.”

Sodo called police and Pulisi in Kachiribong village.

After police rescued her from Abdullah on Sept. 16, officers in western Uganda, Kampala and eastern Uganda discovered that Muhammad in concert with other radical Muslims opposed to conversion from Islam had sold the two children to Abdullah, he said.

The traumatized girl said that after her brother disappeared from the place where they were living as hostages, she asked Abdullah where he was. The only answer she received, Sodo said, was, “Allah who is all-knowing knows.”

Sodo said police believe Abdullah offers human sacrifices as part of his witchcraft activities.

“Hence he is feared by the residents of Ntwetwe,” he said.

Ntwetwe police in western Uganda have arrested Abdullah, and officers in eastern Uganda’s Kibuku District have arrested Muhammad, he said; both are awaiting charges. Police were searching for people connected with the two suspects.

There are an estimated 3 million traditional “healers,” or witchdoctors, in Uganda. Most human sacrifice is done by witchdoctors who use children’s blood, tissue or body organs in rituals in the belief that they will bring protection or good fortune, a worker with a childcare ministry told the Special Broadcasting Service (SPS), a media outlet in Australia.

The worker told SPS last year that his team investigates up to 25 cases of child sacrifice annually, though they fear there are many others unreported.

The kidnapping and killing of Pulisi’s children was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Please pray for this family and the most vulnerable members of our Christian family. May God have mercy on them.

An “Unimaginable Nightmare”: [Severe abuse of Christian Girls in Egypt]

Some of the 500 or so Christians that went missing in Egypt over the last decade

The kidnapping, sexual abuse, and forced conversion of Christian women and girls in Egypt—a “particularly vulnerable group to exploitation” that is quietly living an “unimaginable nightmare”—is rampant with no signs of abatement.  This is the finding of a report published on September 10, 2020 by Coptic Solidary (CS), an international organization based in Washington D.C., that works to promote equal citizenship rights for Egypt’s Christian minority.

In its 15-page report, titled “‘Jihad of the Womb’: Trafficking of Coptic Women & Girls in Egypt,” CS documents “the widespread practice of abduction and trafficking” and estimates that there have been “about 500 cases within the last decade, where elements of coercion were used that amount to trafficking,” according to the UN’s own definitions, particularly per its “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children.”

According to CS:

The capture and disappearance of Coptic women and minor girls is a bane of the Coptic community in Egypt, yet little has been done to address this scourge by the Egyptian or foreign governments, NGOs, or international bodies. According to a priest in the Minya Governorate, at least 15 girls go missing every year in his area alone. His own daughter was nearly kidnapped had he not been able to intervene in time.

The report offers 13 separate case studies.  Victims range from teenage girls, to newly-wed and pregnant young women, to married women with children.   Most of the 500 disappeared in one of two ways: either they were publicly kidnapped, often by being forced into a car while traveling to school, church, or work; or—and this is especially true for teenage girls—they were lured into relationships with young Muslim men who promised them the world, until, that is, it was too late.

According to a former Egyptian trafficker, “one of the strategies they used to gain the girls’ trust was for the kidnapper, a Muslim man, to tell the Christian girl he loved her and wanted to convert to Christianity for her. They start a romantic relationship until, one day, they decide to ‘escape’ together. What the girls don’t know is that they are actually being kidnapped. Most of the time they will not marry their kidnapper, but someone else.”

The same repentant trafficker shared another story: “I remember a Coptic Christian girl from a rich, well-known family in Minya. She was kidnapped by five Muslim men. They held her in a house, stripped her and filmed her naked. In the video, one of them also undressed. They threatened to make the video public if the girl wouldn’t marry him.”  He continues:

Salafist networks began in the seventies and it’s reached its highest levels now, in the era of President Sisi… A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls]….  The kidnappers receive large amounts of money. Police can help them in different ways, and when they do, they might also receive a part of the financial reward the kidnappers are paid by the Islamisation organisations. In some cases, police provide the kidnappers with drugs they seize. The drugs are then given to the girls to weaken their resistance as they put them under pressure. I even know of cases in which police offered help to beat up the girls to make them recite the Islamic creed.  And the value of the reward increases whenever the girl has a position. For example, when she is the daughter of a priest or comes from a well-known family….  The Salafist group I knew rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic.  There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly they change their ID….  If all goes to plan, the girls are also forced into marriage with a strict Muslim. Their husbands don’t love them, they just marry her to make her a Muslim. She will be hit and humiliated. And if she tries to escape, or convert back to her original religion, she will be killed.

Other tactics “include utilizing or planting Muslim female neighbors, colleagues, coworkers or friends to invite Coptic women to their home or travel across town during which time they are kidnapped by the groups who organized with the known female.”

Unfortunately, these kidnapping “networks are often supported by like-minded members (including high-ranking officials) of the police, national security and local administrations,” adds the report. “Their roles include refusal to lodge official complaints by the victims’ families, falsifying police investigations, organizing the formal sessions of conversion to Islam at Al-Azhar, or harassing families into silence and acceptance of the de facto trafficking of their loved ones.”

Why so many officials help in the abduction and forced conversion of Christian girls and women—or at the very least look the other way—“can be traced back to the second article of the Egyptian Constitution.”  Its states that “Islam  is  the  religion  of  the  State  and  Arabic  is  its  official  language.  The principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.”

While there is no formal apostasy law in the Egyptian judiciary system, “as a matter of fact, it is prohibited for anyone wishing to convert away from Islam,” notes the report. Meanwhile, “conversion to Islam is always accepted and encouraged” without any fuss. “Based on shari‘a law,” then, the “obvious problem for kidnapped Coptic women and girls who are forcibly converted is that they are nearly always denied the autonomy to choose their faith or to return to their faith once forcibly converted.”

Such sharia stipulations undermine parental guidance of minors in other ways:  Although Egyptian minors (aged 18 or under) cannot marry without parental consent, “a minor is allowed to formally convert to Islam, after which another (Muslim) custodian is assigned to approve a marriage. This effectively allows Muslim men to strip Copts of their parental rights and Coptic girls of their constitutional protections…”

Moreover, if a married Christian woman “converts to Islam, courts immediately annul her existing marriage (unless the husband agrees to convert likewise) and the woman becomes free to marry a Muslim man. (Needless to say, a vice versa scenario—a married Muslim woman trying to convert and marry a Coptic man—in no way invalidates her Muslim marriage.)”

Whenever asked or put on the spot regarding the abduction or disappearance of Christian girls, the government’s response, to quote Laila Baha’ Eldin, Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights of Egypt, is that “All reported cases of abduction had been investigated….  In most cases, it was about young women falling in love with someone from a different denomination.”

But as the report explains, “this defense … does not acknowledge or protect the ongoing rights of Coptic females”:

Regardless if a women is kidnapped from her home or in public, or if she agrees to elope and then discovers she has been tricked and wishes to leave, the elements of trafficking in persons and crimes against children are all still applicable. A woman in Egypt should have the right at any time to seek safety, have the right of movement, right of freedom of conscience and belief, and the right to change her views during her lifetime.

According to its mission statement, Coptic Solidarity works “to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt.” Since its establishment in 2010, CS has been at the forefront of reporting and advocating for Egypt’s trafficked Christian women and girls.   In 2011, its president, Caroline Doss, testified at a Congressional hearing titled “Minority at Risk: Coptic Christians in Egypt” (broadcast by and available on C-SPAN)

Perhaps the most salient paragraph of its report follows:

The rampant trafficking of Coptic women and girls is a direct violation of their most basic rights to safety, freedom of movement, and freedom of conscience and belief. The crimes committed against these women must be urgently addressed by the Egyptian government, ending impunity for kidnappers, their accomplices, and police who refuse to perform their duties. Women who disappear and are never recovered must live an unimaginable nightmare. The large majority of these women are never reunited with their families or friends because police response in Egypt is dismissive and corrupt. There are countless families who report that police have either been complicit in the kidnapping or at the very least bribed into silence. If there is any hope for Coptic women in Egypt to have a merely ‘primitive’ level of equality, these incidents of trafficking must cease, and the perpetrators must be held accountable by the judiciary.

By Raymond Ibrahim cross posted on Gatestone Institute

Twin Sisters Kidnapped, Pastor and Three Other Christians Killed in Nigeria

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A church elder was shot as his daughters were kidnapped in northwest Nigeria on Friday (Sept. 18), days after a pastor and three other Christians in a north-central state were killed earlier this month.

Hassana and Hussaina Garba, teenaged Christian twin sisters, were kidnapped from their home beside their Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) worship building in Kwakware village, Kankara County in northwest Nigeria’s Katsina state, sources said. The kidnappers shot their father, ECWA elder Ibrahim Garba, in the stomach in the 10:30 p.m. assault, and sources said he was receiving hospital treatment.

Kidnappings by various criminal elements have become rampant in Katsina state the past few years, with the high number committed by predominantly Muslim Fulanis prompting Gov. Aminu Masari to warn last year that the tribe risks being targeted by vigilantes.

Kwakware area resident Charles Yahaya said kidnapping has long been a problem in Katsina state but has intensified.

“Testimonies and exhibits at the crime scene show that the kidnappers were very organized, very informed on their target and heavily armed,” Yahaya told Morning Star News by text message. “This is one incident among many. It is the sustained and targeted kidnapping of Christian girls in northern Nigeria, after which they are forcefully converted to Islam and married off, thereby becoming sex slaves. Something is going on in our country that needs to be addressed systematically and collectively by all well-meaning citizens.”

Area resident Saminu Adamu called for prayer for the rescue of the sisters.

“It’s heart-breaking and becoming unbearable; Christian twin sisters were kidnapped at their residence,” Adamu told Morning Star News by text message. “Family of Christ, please pray for their safe release in the hand of their captors.”

Yahaya said another teenaged Christian girl was kidnapped in Soba, Kaduna state, on Aug. 30 and forced to convert to Islam.

“Aliyah, a young Christian girl who was the last born of seven children and the only daughter of a widow, was kidnapped on the 30th,” he said. “On that fateful day, she went to church but never returned home.”

Her mother reported the disappearance to Soba Local Government Area police. On Sept.1 officers told her come to the station as her daughter was there, he said.

“When the mother got there, unknown to her, Aliyah had been forced to convert to Islam,” Yahaya told Morning Star News. “Aliyah completely denied knowing the mother. Nevertheless, the mother demanded release of her daughter. The DPO [Divisional Police Officer] refused to grant this request, but rather returned Aliyah to the Muslim abductors and later transferred the case to Zaria Area Command. All efforts made by the girl’s mother and members of the church to have the girl return back to her mother could not yield a positive result.”

On Sept. 7 police transferred the case to Kaduna headquarters on grounds that the kidnapping had become an interfaith conflict, he said.

“The mother, lawyers, and Christian body tried to intervene, but the police unlawfully detained her to be presented to the Interfaith Committee in Kaduna State,” Yahaya said. “As prayers intensified, the girl began crying and pleading with the police to release her to go back home. But the police insisted on her unlawful detention to achieve the wish of her abductors to Islamize the young Christian girl.”

After more prayer and the involvement of other well-meaning Nigerians, the girl was released back to her mother, he said.

“Others have not been so lucky, and many are still at risk,” Yahaya said. “Christian girls, many of whom are minors, go missing on their way to or from school or church. Something needs to be done urgently to arrest such brazen unconstitutional acts.”

Four Christians Slain

In Kaduna state, suspected Fulani herdsmen killed an ECWA pastor and three other Christians in attacks in which they kidnapped other Christians.

The Rev. Alubara Audu, a 45-year-old father of five, was killed in Buda, Kajuru County in a Sept. 6 attack at 2 a.m., according to a statement from Awemi Dio Maisamari, a Christian community leader and national president of the Adara Development Association. Also killed in the unprovoked attack were Adamu Tata, 40, a father of four children, and Ishaku Peter, a 37-year-old father of five, Maisamari said.

The assailants kidnapped Sani Peter, 25, and his wife Esther Sani Peter, 20, he said.

A fourth Christian, Danladi Abashi, was killed in a herdsmen attack on Aug. 16 in Kallah village, he said.

“Abashi, a 50-year-old old farmer, ventured near the villages that were invaded and are still occupied by Fulani herdsmen in the Kallah/Gefe/Libere area of Kajuru LGA,” Maisamari said. “His body was only recovered with the help of the police, because the herdsmen disallowed Adara people from even approaching the occupied enclave.”

In an Aug. 27 attack in Maraban Kajuru, herdsmen kidnapped Daniel Shuaibu and Abednego Paul from their home and wounded another Christian, he said.

“During the operation, Mr. Sunday Barau was shot and injured, and the abductees are still with their abductors because his helpless family has been unable to meet their demands,” Maisamari said.

Pius Gargai also was kidnapped from his home in Maraban Rido, and on Sept. 2 four people were kidnapped from Rafin Roro village in Kajuru County, he said.

“One of them managed to escape and three are still being held,” Maisamari said. “With the continuation of such hostilities by Fulani herdsmen even when various peace moves are being initiated, it is becoming clearer that the purported dialogue is serving as a diversion to enable the attackers to continue their diabolical activities. We are left wondering whether it is worthwhile engaging in such dialogue and peace talks if this continues.”

Also kidnapped in early September were five people from the Kemara Rimi community of Buda Ward, Kajuru County, he said: Ojo Aminu, 35; Danfulani Makaranta, 37; Namiji Gwamna, 36; Ali Musa, 36; and Grace Mathew, 16.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Fulani herdsmen have increasingly adopted ideology and methods similar to Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, and some come from outside Nigeria, This Day’s Akin Osuntokun wrote in an Aug. 14 column for the Nigerian news outlet.

“Today, a new breed of herdsman has emerged: an aggressive and murderous terrorist bearing sophisticated firearms such as AK-47s and even rocket launchers,” Osuntokun wrote. “And they become the mobile avant-garde army of political Islam in Nigeria. Given the country’s porous borders, many of them are recent immigrants from neighboring countries. Herdsmen from Niger, Chad and Mali can walk across the border and immediately lay claim to all the sacrosanct rights appertaining to bona fide Nigerian nationals.”

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

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