VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Ethiopia

Rising Islamist militancy across Sahel belt threatens African Christianity

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As the world focuses on potential military advances against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it risks overlooking another vast region where militant Islam is a growing threat to the Church – in the continent where the Church is growing fastest: Africa.

Amongst other factors, the chaos in Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi – characterised by easy access to weapons of all sorts combined with the increasing presence of jihadists – has had a spill-over effect into Africa’s vast Sahel region. This spans the African continent from Senegal in the west to western Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east. (The ‘Sahel’ describes the ecological and geographic region between the Sahara Desert and the humid and fertile savannah belt north of Africa’s tropical rainforest).

The most dramatic example of this Islamist militancy is in northern Mali, where Islamist militants and foreign fighters made common cause with Tuareg rebels to take over a large portion of the country in 2012. For most of the year, until the French military were forced to intervene, armed Islamist groups ruled the region, banning the practice of other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship.

In addition to the main group involved then, the jihadist Ansar Dine, other militant groups active in the Sahel region include Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram and Islamic State (IS).

A new report from Open Doors International, a charity providing support to the global Church under pressure, shows that the rise of Islamist militancy in the region is undermining freedom of religion. According to the report, puritanical and militant versions of Islam (particularly Salafism/Wahhabism) are increasingly taking root – in a manner that reflects recent developments in the rest of the world – as a result of Islamist missionaries and NGOs from the Middle East, funded by (until recently) oil-rich Gulf States like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Fertile ground

The Sahel, which encompasses parts of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, has been predominantly Muslim for centuries. Due to a mix of environmental, demographic, economic and political factors, all the states that exist in this region are very fragile.

Troops from Mali and Niger, supported by their French counterparts, conduct regular joint operations to hunt for militants in the western part of the region.

The report indicates that the Islamist groups in the region are very hostile to Christianity and show this through violent acts. Northern Mali has witnessed violent attacks against Christians and churches – notably in 2012, during jihadist occupation. There have also been a series of abductions by jihadist groups, which kidnap Christian workers not only to finance operations through demanding ransoms, but also to deter Christians from working in the region. The Swiss missionary, Beatrice Stockly, kidnapped in Timbuktu in January, is still being held hostage by AQIM.

In neighbouring Niger, Islamists burned down more than 70 churches, as well as Christian homes, schools and orphanages, in a series of arson attacks in January 2015.

Rampant radicalization

Islamist groups in the Sahel, like others elsewhere, don’t tolerate other Muslims who adhere to a version of Islam different from their own. Violence and terror is their preferred modus operandi. The report suggests that any further increase in their numbers and influence would add to the difficulties Christians are facing.

Even if these groups do not succeed in imposing Sharia and establishing Islamic “caliphates” at a national level, they will still contribute to the overall radicalisation of the population and the spread of an extremist and intolerant version of Islam, says the report. It says this has created an environment in which any Christian outreach ministry – not to mention the very existence of the Church itself – faces violent resistance.

The radical militancy of jihadist groups in the Sahel is also spilling over further south and giving rise to terrorist attacks in predominantly Christian parts of West Africa, notes the report. The attack on the Grand-Bassam resort in Ivory Coast (March 2016) has highlighted the vulnerability of these countries.

In the long-term, unless these groups are defeated, it is very likely that they will intensify their campaign of terrorism and violence in southern Nigeria and other West African countries which have thus far been relatively spared from terrorist activism, warns the report.

It concludes that the situation for Christians in the Sahel is precarious. It says the region is becoming a new major hotspot for Islamist groups, many of which have allied themselves to international terror franchises like IS and al-Qaeda. It is very important that the countries in the region strengthen their cooperation against these militant groups, says the report, adding that countries outside the region capable of providing assistance should also help.

In addition to robust and decisive military action, the report says it is also important not to adopt a purely one-dimensional approach. The socio-economic and political realities in the region, of which the militant groups take advantage, also need to be transformed, it says. It is only when these underlying realities are changed that Christians and non-Christians will be able to enjoy security and freedom in the region.

Full report here

Ethiopia: Christians arrested for ‘spreading hatred’

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By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Last month, six church committee members from Kilto, Ethiopia, were found guilty of destroying the public’s trust in government officials and spreading hatred.

According to Barnabas Aid, the six had dared to write a letter to their church leadership describing the persecution they have endured as Christians living in the Muslim-majority Silte zone. The letter was later leaked to local media and then went viral.

As a result, government officials sentenced church committee leader Yemariam Worke to eight years and eight months in prison and the other five members of the committee to five years and six months each. They were all then transferred to a prison in Worabe, the capital of Silte zone.

In the letter, the six had complained of discrimination in employment, the destruction of their church buildings, physical attacks and even death threats.

Ethnic Silte people voted to create a separate zone in a referendum in 2001.

 

Pope: Blood of Ethiopian Christians ‘cries out to be heard’

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(Voice of the Persecuted) Yesterday, Ethiopians began three days of national mourning for more than 20 Ethiopian Christians killed by Islamic State militants in Libya. ISIS once again singled out Christians and documented their savagery in a video where they brutally beheaded and shot the believers in Christ.

The Islamic State – aka ISIL/ISIS/IS/Daesh – has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. The militant terror group has established a caliphate and carried out mass persecutions of minority populations, primarily Christians and Yazidis. They have also published videos as a warning to countries that have militarily intervened and a way to control civilians through fear.

The discriminate murders have horrified Ethiopians and spurred international calls for condemnation.

The leader of the Catholic Church shared his anguish of the mass execution and offered his condolences to patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, Abuna Matthias.

Pope Francis lamented,

“With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya. I know that Your Holiness is suffering deeply in heart and mind at the sight of your faithful children being killed for the sole reason that they are followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

He also stated,

“It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant,” Pope Francis said in his message. “Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ!”

He offered hope amidst the darkness, noting the Easter season of joy in the knowledge that “Christ has risen from the dead.”

“This year, that joy – which never fades – is tinged with profound sorrow. Yet we know that the life we live in God’s merciful love is stronger than the pain all Christians feel, a pain shared by men and women of good will in all religious traditions.”

The Pope offered “heartfelt spiritual solidarity” and assurances of “closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia.”

Voice of the Persecuted is praying that more Christian leaders across denominations, will inform their congregations of the modern-day persecution taking place against Christians, encourage them to pray and care for the persecuted, and use their voices to advocate for and stand with our suffering brothers and sisters, worldwide. #WeAreOne

parish_meeting1If you are a church leader raising awareness and praying for the persecuted, we would be very encouraged to hear from you! If you are a leader who would like to begin sharing with your congregation, contact us at info@voiceofthepersecuted.org with Pastor for the Persecuted in the subject line. We’d be happy to help you in the process.

Voice of the Persecuted

 

 

ISIS shoot and behead Ethiopian Christians in Libya

 

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(Voice of the Persecuted) The Islamic State (IS/ISIS/Daesh) has released a shocking new video titled ‘Until It Came To Them – Clear Evidence’. The unverified video highlights the slaughter of at least 30 Ethiopian Christians (migrant workers) in Libya.

A masked militant pledged to kill Christians if they do not convert to Islam, ‘Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap. To the nation of the cross we are now back again.’  The footage also includes how Syrian Christians have been given the choice to convert to Islam or pay a ‘special tax’.

The Ethiopian Christians are divided into two groups and identified by the Islamic State militants as the ‘followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church. Approximately 12 men were beheaded on a beach, the remaining shot dead in the desert.

An Ethiopian official, denounced the killings saying, “We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians are not.”

In February, IS released the video of them beheading 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya. IS is using video media for their propaganda campaign to instill fear in the hearts of men to control and recruit them.

Chaos and unrest has wracked Libya since the U.S. led attack in 2011 that toppled Kadhafi. IS has taken advantage of it’s destabilization expanding it’s presence in the country.

In 2011 when Obama addressed Americans and the world to justifying NATO involvement in Libya,  we heard the following:

  • “This is a New generation refusing to be denied their rights any longer”
  • “Change will make the world more complicated for a time.”
  • “Justice & Human Dignity will be upheld by all.”
  • “We will stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles as us.”
  • “History is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa and the youth are leading the way.”
  • “Our own future is safer if all mankind uphold these values.”

In the mission to uproot leaders deemed murderous and tyrannical, the west has aided to put something far worse in it’s place. Now multiple Libyan jihadist groups and those in other nations have pledged allegiance to IS.

IS marches forward with their tremendous funds, it’s own news agency, even issuing drivers licence and ID cards in the quest to redraw the map and create a caliphate—a new world governed by strict Sharia Law.

The’Christian Winter’ continues and intensifies.

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray for the families of these precious soul’s.
  • Pray for God’s mercy and protection for his children.
  • Pray for endurance.

We are reminded of a young Christian girl in Thailand who had fled persecution in Pakistan. She said there is no need for her to curse anyone who blaspheme’s Christ or our God. She said our God is big enough to defend Himself.  Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. We can find comfort in this tribulation as the Faith of these Christians in these lands are growing stronger, even in persecution.

Revelation 6:9-11  When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

 

 

 

 

 

World Ignores Christian Exodus from Islamic World

Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid.

Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid. Photo: Ray Ibrahim

(Gatestone InstituteWhile the world fixates on the conflict between Israel and Hamas—and while most mainstream media demonize Israel for trying to survive amid a sea of Arab-Islamic hostility—similar or worse tragedies continue to go virtually ignored.

As Reuters reported:One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….

It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

The amount of jizya-money demanded was $450 a month, an exorbitant sum for Iraq.

Hours after the demand for jizya was made, Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.

Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children.

The Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul said that what is happening to the Christians of Mosul is nothing less than “genocide… not to mention the slaughters and rapes not being reported… Forcing more than a thousand Christian families out of Mosul, and turning Christian churches into Muslim mosques, is equivalent to genocide.”  Of course, the word genocide means to kill or make extinct a people.

Others were not as lucky to flee. According to Iraqi human rights activist Hena Edward, a great many older and disabled Iraqis, unable to pay the jizya or join the exodus, have opted to convert to Islam.

Meanwhile, the jihadis continue destroying churches and other ancient Christian holy sites in the name of their religion, and murdering any Christians they can find. Among other acts, they torched an 1800 year old church in Mosul, stormed a fourth century monastery—formerly one of Iraq’s best known Christian landmarks—and expelling its resident monks.

Most recently, in Syrian regions under the Islamic State’s control, eight Christians were reportedly crucified.

The Islamic State’s call for Christians to pay jizya is not simply about money. It is about subjugation. Most Western media reporting on this recent call for jizya have failed to explain the accompanying dhimma contract Christians must also abide by. According to the Islamic State, “We offer them [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The “dhimma contract” is a reference to the Conditions of Omar, an Islamic text attributed to the caliph of the same name that forces Christians to live according to third class citizen status.

In fact, several months back, when the Islamic State was still called “ISIS,” it applied the Conditions of Omar on the Christian minorities of Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic group had issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS… “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said [emphasis added].

The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.

Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”

In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat. Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”

In late 2012, it was reported that the last Christian in the city of Homs, Syria—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. An escaped teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”

In the African nation of Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.

One can go on and on:

  • In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”
  • In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.
  • In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian nun orders serving the sick and needy since 1921 to flee and killed several Coptic Christians, causing that community also to flee.
  • In Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, where hardly a Sunday passes without a church bombing, Christians are fleeing by the thousands; one region has been emptied of 95% of its Christian population.
  • In Pakistan, after a Christian child was falsely accused of desecrating a Koran and Muslims went on an anti-Christian rampage, an entire Christian village—men, women, and children—was forced to flee into the nearby woods, where they built a church, to permanently reside there.

Despite all these atrocities, exoduses, and even genocides, the mainstream media seems to spend every available moment airing images of displaced Palestinians and demonizing Israel for trying to defend itself. Yet Israel does not kill Palestinians because of their religion or any other personal aspects. It does so in the context of being rocketed and trying to defend itself from terrorism.

On the other hand, all the crimes being committed by Muslims against Christians are simply motivated by religious hate, because the Christians are Christian.

It is to the mainstream media’s great shame that those who slaughter, behead, crucify, and displace people for no other reason than because they are Christian, rarely if ever get media coverage, while a nation such as Israel, which kills only in the context of self-defense, and not out of religious bigotry, is constantly demonized.

by Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by Fronda, a leading website in Poland.  The English-language version of the Polish interview, originally titled “Raymond Ibrahim: Prostration before Islam, English version – Read it HERE

Ethiopian Suspects Etch Cross on Chest of Saudi National

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Ethiopian migrants pushed to the edge?

Zegabi reports-Unidentified suspects, thought to be Ethiopian migrants, attacked a Saudi Arabian man on Saturday and carved a Christian cross on his chest, according to a report by Arab News.

This attack comes following an operation by Saudi officials to expel all illegal immigrants from the oil rich nation. Since the operation began early in November, there are reports that about 3 Ethiopian nationals have been killed and many others gravely abused. Ethiopians across the world have held protests in the past two weeks, rebuking the Saudi government’s clamp down. The Ethiopian government is reportedly in the process of repatriating over 23,000 of its citizens who are in Saudi Arabia illegally.

According to the report of the incident, the suspected Ethiopian attackers confronted the Saudi Arabian man, who was driving around Casablanca, Al Ha-da area, knocking him unconscious before carving a cross on his chest with a metal object. The suspects fled the scene before the police arrived, but the authorities are reported to have been able to apprehend a number of suspects of Ethiopian origin in the area with the aid of locals.

Following reports of this attack, there have been speculations that the Ethiopian nationals behind the attack may be retaliating the perceived wrong wrought on their kinsmen by Saudi officials during the ongoing mass repatriation exercise. But neither Saudi Arabia nor Ethiopia have so far issued a statement to validate or dispute this claim.

This is not the first incident that highlights an underground religious conflict in the Muslim kingdom. Although no public churches operate in Saudi Arabia, Christians are reported to exist in the country—holding their meetings in individual houses and other locations. Several people reported to be Christians have been arrested by Saudi Arabia’s “religious police”, the Mutaween (or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) in the past for practicing their faith in public or attempting to proselytize to Muslims. Last year, about 36 Christians who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia were released after much criticism from governments and human right groups.

Pundits say Saudi official are dedicated to ensuring the kingdom retains its characteristic Islamic roots. Last year, Fox News quoted the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh saying it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.” But Saudi officials insist Christians are only arrested when they attempt to convert Muslims to their faith–by practicing in public. In Saudi Arabia, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.

Ethiopia is a traditionally orthodox christian state, the faith is reported to have been practiced in the state at least since the 4th century. Naturally, the thousands of Ethiopian migrants who are reported to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia yearly attempt to practice their religion— but with great difficulty. While Christians face persecution in Saudi Arabia, Muslims also face persecution in Ethiopia. In the past few years, the Ethiopian government is reported to have increased surveillance of its relatively small Muslim population, with several clashes and arrests recorded.

In a Wikileaks report, Sheikh Elias Redman, a notable figure in the Ethiopian Muslim community noted that fundamentalist Wahhabist influence is spreading among Ethiopian Muslims, threatening the existence of Ethiopia’s Sufi version of Islam which promotes religious tolerance and co-existence with Christians. The Sheikh also revealed that these attempts are being supported by Saudi Arabia, allegedly to influence Ethiopia’s moderate Muslims with the Kingdom’s more traditional version of the religion.

Photo: Migrants wait to be transported to deportation centres in Riyadh. [AFP/Fayez Nureldine]

African migrants, Christians Risk Lives To Flee War And Persecution

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The latest tragic incident of hundreds of African migrants drowning in European waters tells a wider story.

Scratch beneath the surface and for many of the migrants, their stories are not only of wanting a better life. Often they will be of fleeing persecution or conflict at home, and paying their life savings to smugglers who promise their passage to the safety of European shores.

The sinking of a boat carrying around 500 migrants October 3, killing at least 181 of them, is the latest in a long line of accidents in which vulnerable migrants pay with their lives after the failure of vessels often described as “unseaworthy”.

Father Mussie Zerai, Chairman of the Habeshia Agency, which works on behalf of these migrants, says he believes the majority of those involved in last’s week’s shipwreck were Christians.

“I look at the list of the survivors and 90 per cent is Christian,” he said. “They are coming from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The situation is very bad because politically in Eritrea there is a dictator and they live without any type of freedom or democracy. Many Christians are persecuted because of their faith. It’s not easy for them to live in Eritrea at this moment.”

An Ethiopian migrant who survived the same crossing hit the European media last year when five human rights groups wrote a letter to the Netherlands then-minister of immigration and asylum affairs, to plead for him to be given the right to remain.

Abu Kurke Kebato, in his early 20s, was one of only nine survivors in a boat carrying 72, which had left Libya, only to languish at sea for two weeks before drifting back to Libyan shores.

Kurke Kebato told the BBC that he had then been arrested by the Libyan authorities while “on his way to church” after his arrival back in Libya.

“Upon his forced return to Libya in 2010, Mr. Kurke Kebato was then detained for eight months during which time he alleges he was subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” wrote the five human rights organisations.

He then made a second attempt to reach Europe, with his wife, and this time they were successful. However, the couple were set to be deported from the Netherlands until human rights organisations intervened. He now lives there and says he is “happy in a democracy”.

The UN High Commission for Refugees’ Adrian Edwards agrees that many migrants seem to have little choice but to flee their home countries when it becomes a matter of life and death.

“You have to think of the tragedy that lies behind this, which is that many of these people are likely to have been fleeing war, fleeing persecution, fleeing human rights abuses in their own countries, so this is a tremendous tragedy of multiple layers,” he told the BBC.

The ship had travelled from Libya, but many of its passengers had already travelled a great distance in their quest to reach Europe. According to the UN, most of the passengers on the boat, which sank nearby the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Italy, were from Eritrea and Somalia, about 2,000 miles from Libya’s coast.

The number of immigrants dying while attempting to reach Europe’s borders in the last 25 years has risen to almost 20,000.

Pope Francis, whose first official visit was to the island in July to witness the mass migrant arrivals, condemned “global indifference” to the plight of immigrants, and said the incident was an “outrage,” calling Friday a “day of tears”. Figures from the UN say 3,000 people try to flee Eritrea each month, while human rights groups have said the country is becoming a giant jail, with estimates of around 10,000 political prisoners.

Somalia, meanwhile, has been ravaged by two decades of war and large parts of it are under the control of Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

More than 30,000 immigrants have journeyed to Italy by sea so far this year, including 7,500 each from Eritrea and Syria and 3,000 from Somalia, according to the UN.

Fr. Zerai says the international community must do more. Granting asylum to a few is not enough, he says.

“All mass media, all international organisations and civic society need to push the international community to do something to change the situation,” he told World Watch Monitor. “In Eritrea, even in Ethiopia, we need more freedom, democracy and peace. That is the solution. We can give them asylum, but that is not the solution.”

In May, World Watch Monitor reported that religious persecution in Eritrea is at its “highest ever level and getting worse”, according to Christian charity Open Doors International.

The number of Christians incarcerated in Eritrea because of their faith is thought to be around 1,200, according to the charity, although some estimates claim the figure is as high as 3,000.

Eritrea is ranked 10th on the World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which Christians are most under pressure for their faith.

“When Christians [in Eritrea] are discovered, they are arrested and held in shipping containers in military camps. At least 105 Christians were arrested in 2012, and 31 Christians were reported to have died in prison,” the World Watch List reports.

Source

Please remember our suffering African brothers and sisters. They are forced to endure unspeakable abuse. May our Lord have mercy on them.

Sudanese Woman Faces Ordeal as Convert from Islam

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Long before current crackdown in Sudan, society punished ‘apostates.’

JUBA, South Sudan, September 20, 2013 (Morning Star News) – After her family in Khartoum, Sudan nearly buried her alive for leaving Islam and authorities imprisoned her for six months, a Sudanese Christian thought she might find refuge in Ethiopia.

She had fled to Ethiopia in 2010, five years after putting her faith in Christ. By the following year, she found herself face-to-face with hostile Sudanese officials.

“Some security personnel from the Sudan Embassy in Addis Ababa informed me that I must leave Ethiopia because I was an infidel,” the 35-year-old woman, whose name is withheld for security reasons, told Morning Star News.

Now in South Sudan, which split from Sudan on July 9, 2011, she still lives in hiding. Sudanese Muslims in South Sudan, she says, are monitoring her movements.

She had come to faith when a Christian woman told her about the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, and soon she began attending church. When her family learned of her conversion, she said, they locked her in a dark room for six months and arranged visits from an Islamic sheikh who struck her 10 times each day.

“After six months, I was released and was very frustrated and went into hiding, but my family discovered where I was hiding in Khartoum and reported to the police that I had left Islam,” she said.

Her family learned of her hiding place, found and beat her, and threw her from a second floor landing.

“I was bleeding and my ribs were broken,” she said, tears streaming from her eyes.

Family members threatened to charge her with apostasy unless she repented and returned to Islam, telling her, “You are an infidel, you are no longer a good Muslim,” she said. Apostasy is punishable by death in Sudan, which upholds sharia (Islamic law) as a source of legislation, according to the U.S. Department of State.

“They called a Muslim sheikh to force me to repent and come back to Islam, but I refused the attempt,” she said, adding that the sheikh would later accuse her of “being possessed by an evil spirit, which he said was a Christian evil spirit.”

Family members hid her in the trunk of their car and took her home with the intent of burying her alive, she said. She felt close to death and by keeping her hidden the family hoped Muslim neighbors would accept that her absence meant she had met her expected end as an apostate. The neighbors however, called police.

“They dug the grave, and as they were putting me into the grave, the police entered the house. I believe it was the Lord Jesus who made the police arrive on time and saved me from that inevitable death,” she said.

Officers arrested family members for attempted murder, but they were later released.

After a few days of recovery, she managed to escape again; this time, security officials endeavored to track her down.

“Security started to search for me everywhere, accusing me of leaving Islam,” she said. When National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officials caught up with her four years later. In early 2009, they incarcerated her for one month, she said.

After her release, in March 2009 she tried to flee the country by air. Authorities were notified, removed her from an airliner about to take off from Khartoum International Airport and confiscated her passport.

During interrogation, NISS personnel tortured her as punishment for leaving Islam and trying to flee the country. She was imprisoned for another six months at Omdurman Prison for Women.

“The security officials took my documents, and after serving six months of imprisonment, I decided to go into hiding and sought refuge in the house of some Christians in Khartoum who gave me food and shelter and took care for me,” she said.

These ordeals took place before the 2011 secession that opened the way for harsher treatment of Christians in Sudan, as President Omar al Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Christians in Sudan have suffered increased arrests and deportations and destruction of church buildings and affiliated centers, and foreign Christians have been driven out, church leaders say. In a report issued in April, Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians since December 2012.

Freedom of religion is a key provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a signatory. Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and in April the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list this year.

After her six months in prison, eventually the convert from Islam managed to cross into neighboring Ethiopia by land in 2010, only to encounter more threatening Sudanese officials. Even now in predominantly Christian and animist South Sudan, she describes her life as “fear and agony,” as there seems to be nowhere to hide from hostile Islamists.

Father, so few are standing in the gap for your people who are going through abuses many could never image. We pray that the volume of our prayers are turned up. That our persecuted brothers and sisters can feel our love for them, as we call out the name of our Lord to intercede. Open the eyes and ears of those who are asleep, so that we can unite together and bless them as you have blessed us. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray.
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