(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday October 28, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
Kenya: Population: 53.5 million, Christians 44 (82 %)
In Kenya, Christianity is the majority religion, but that hasn’t stopped the spread of persecution. Particularly, Christians with a Muslim background in the northeast and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack—even from their closest relatives. Our research revealed that Christians were attacked and forced to flee their villages, and Islamic extremist group al-Shabab has infiltrated the local population to monitor the activities of Christians in those areas.
However, organized crime is also a serious problem. Corrupt officials often fail to take measures against persecutors—increasing the potential for further incidents against Christians. For believers in Kenya, daily life is filled with pressure—especially in their private and social lives. And in some regions like the northeast, where al-Shabab is a constant threat, church and community life are very difficult and can also include the threat of violence.
The situation for Christians in Kenya has remained dire over the last three years. While Kenya moved down five spots from the 2020 World Watch List, violence actually increased significantly reflecting an overall increase in persecution across the list versus an improved situation for Kenyan Christians.
Christians living in and around the northeastern part of the country must live with the fear that they can be targeted at any time. Hotspots for attacks by al-Shabab include Mombasa, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Lamu and Tana River. In these areas, many local informants assist in organizing attacks on churches and Christians. As a result, many believers have chosen to relocate from these areas to the center of the country.
Open Doors and other NGOs have been present, working in Kenya through local partners and churches since the early 2000s. We offer support to churches in the volatile Islam-dominated northeastern border and coastal regions. Much of our work has been in the area of equipping the church—and more recently, our work has focused on COVID-19 relief. Christians are increasingly facing persecution, and it is our mission to see the local church prepared to disciple new believers, train leaders, and help them remain strong. Open Doors also assists in cross-cultural evangelism, economic empowerment, and leadership and trauma care training.
- Pray that the government will protect the rights of believers in Muslim majority areas.
- Pray for the wisdom and strength of government leaders standing against Islamic extremism.
- Pray for the protection of Christian minorities along the coast.
- Pray that churches in central Kenya will encourage and support ministry work in Muslim majority regions.
- Pray for Christian converts from Islam who face ongoing threats and persecution from family members.
- Pray for the continued boldness of churches in northeastern Kenya as they face Islamist attacks.
- Pray for those sharing the gospel with Somalis living in Kenya.
- Please pray for the Lord’s continued grace for new believers in Kenya. Pray that through trials and persecution they would see the Lord’s faithfulness in protection and provision.
- Pray that the Lord, through His Spirit, would grant the persecuted joy, peace and courage in their suffering.
- Pray for Christians in the northeast who face threats of deadly attacks from al-Shabab. Ask God to protect them, to shelter them from violence and to give them a peace that only comes from Him.
- Pray that the godly leaders would equip and disciple new believers as well as grow the saints in faith.
- Pray believers effectively share the gospel with their neighbors—strengthening and expanding the worldwide Church for the glory of Christ.
- Lord Jesus we pray that you will guide and encourage your church in Kenya through these difficult times of increasing violence. We pray that you bind the forces of darkness.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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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 time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.
Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.
“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are 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 are new to the call and cannot 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!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
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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.
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Kenya (Morning Star News) – Arsonists set five church buildings on fire and threw feces on the charred structures from Jan. 20 to Jan. 24 in a village in western Kenya, sources said.
St. Monica Church’s building was burned on Jan. 20 in Otamba village, in the Nyaraibari Chache area of Kisii County. On Jan. 21, the buildings of the Worldwide Church with 100 members, a Seventh-day Adventist church and a Legio Maria (an indigenous movement that broke with mainstream Roman Catholicism in 1963) congregation were torched; at about 3 a.m. on Jan. 24, arsonists burned the building of a 250-member Pentecostal Church, all in the same village.
“Apart from setting the churches ablaze, the arsonists also committed the heinous acts of scooping human feces onto the buildings to discourage the faithful from attending their ruined churches,” an area source said. “A majority of the church members were afraid to attend services [in or near the ruins] in the aftermath of the burning of the churches, fearing that the arsonists might follow them right into their homes, risking the lives of their families.”
The churches incurred damages in the millions of Kenyan shillings to the structures, chairs and other items in the buildings, the source said.
The Church and Clergy Association of Kenya condemned the burnings in a press statement.
“We demand the investigating authorities to get to the bottom of the matter and expose the agents of such heinous acts,” the statement reads.
Church leaders have appealed to police to increase security in the area and find and prosecute the culprits. Daniel Ratemo, chairman of the Pentecostal Church, appealed for financial support and prayers.
A priest at the Legio Maria church called on police to find the arsonists.
“Evil should not overcome the good that the gospel of Christ brings,” said the priest, whose name is withheld for security purposes.
Kenya was ranked 49th on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
According to multiple sources, 10 suspects have been arrested. Authorities have yet to release their findings for the motive behind the church attacks.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Suspected members of Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab intercepted a bus in northern Kenya on Friday (Dec. 6), separated out those who were not local ethnic Somali Muslims and executed them, sources said.
The Medina Bus Co. vehicle en route from Nairobi to Mandera had 56 people aboard when it was intercepted at 5:30 p.m. between Kutulu and Wargadud in Wajir County, where the population is largely ethnic Somali Kenyans, sources said. A witness who escaped told a Morning Star News contact that the assailants separated out 11 Kenyan workers from the interior (assumed to be Christians) from local residents, assumed to be ethnic Somali Muslims.
“One of the Muslim men gave me Somali attire, and when the separation was being done I went to the side of the Muslims, and immediately we were told to get into the bus,” the survivor told the Morning Star News contact. “As the locals were getting back into the bus, the non-locals who were left behind were fired upon with gunshots.”
The bus was stopped as the workers were returning to their station in Mandera, he said.
“I think the attackers were monitoring our travelling all the way from Nairobi,” he said. “The militants knew that we were not armed.”
Two of the victims were teachers identified as evangelical Christians, but their names were withheld pending official notification of relatives, another source said.
“We have lost two teachers who used to attend our church,” the source from a congregation in northern Kenya (undisclosed for security reasons) told Morning Star News.
A third victim was a doctor who belonged to an Africa Inland Church congregation, the source said, and three others were said to be Roman Catholics. The religious affiliation of five other people killed was yet to be determined at this writing.
Al Shabaab, which is waging war against the government of neighboring Somalia, reportedly took responsibility for the attack, saying victims included “secret security agents and government employees.”
Official information about the attack was inconsistent. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement that several police officers were among eight people killed, and a police source told Agence France-Presse that seven of a total of 10 people killed were officers.
Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, or Al Shabaab sympathizers have killed several non-local people in northern Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.
Al Shabaab militants were suspected in the killing of two Christian teachers on Oct. 10, 2018.
On April 2, 2015, 148 people at Garissa University College lost their lives in an attack by Al Shabaab, and several attacks on churches and Christians have taken place in Garissa, also in northern Kenya.
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.
Somalia is ranked 3rd on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian; Kenya is ranked 40th.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Somali Muslims who beat and raped a Christian mother of four last month began sending threatening messages more than a year ago at a refugee camp in Kenya, she said.
The 41-year-old Somali woman was a Muslim living in Somalia with her husband when he sent her and their four children to Kenya’s Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Somali border, in February 2016. She put her faith in Christ a year later, though it remained a secret until Somali Muslims saw her coming from church worship at Dadaab International Worship Centre in February 2018.
“We have known that you are a Christian, and one of us saw you come out of a church on Sunday,” read one threat, sources said. “If you continue attending the church, then we shall come for your head soon.”
She stopped attending the church services and relocated nearby.
“But it looks like we had already being marked,” the woman (name withheld) told Morning Star News. “Soon four of my children converted to Christ, and I cut all links with my husband in Somalia.”
When she stopped attending the church, the pastor visited the family and began praying with them in their house, an area source told Morning Star News.
“I think the enemies of Christ might have being monitoring their movements,” the source said.
On Jan. 2, four Muslims from Somalia forced their way into her home.
“I was beaten and then raped by four men who threatened me, telling me not to say anything about the ordeal that I went through,” she told Morning Star News. “As they left the house at 1 a.m., one of them said, ‘We could have killed you for being a disgrace to Islam and joining Christianity, which is against our religion, but since you are a single mother, we have decided to spare your life with the condition that you should not mention our names.’”
The woman is in dire need of trauma counseling, the source said, adding, “We as the underground church in Dadaab need prayers and support for our persecuted believers in Christ.”
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia(Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.
Somalia is ranked 3rd on the Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian; Kenya is ranked 40th.
Jesuit Father Henri Boulad, an Islamic scholar of the Egyptian Greek Melkite rite, held no punches in an interview concerning the motives of Islamic terror and Western responses to it. “Islam is an open-ended declaration of war against non-Muslims,” declared the priest, and those who carry out acts of violence and intolerance are only doing what their creed requires. The report continues:
Those who fail to recognize the real threat posed by Islam are naïve and ignorant of history, he said, and unfortunately many in the Church fall into this category. Citing a letter he wrote last August to Pope Francis, Father Boulad said that “on the pretext of openness, tolerance and Christian charity — the Catholic Church has fallen into the trap of the liberal left ideology which is destroying the West.” “Anything that does not espouse this ideology is immediately stigmatized in the name of ‘political correctness,’” he said. The priest went so far as to chastise Pope Francis himself—a fellow Jesuit—suggesting that he has fallen into this trap as well. “Many think that a certain number of your positions are aligned with this ideology and that, from complacency, you go from concessions to concessions and compromises in compromises at the expense of the truth,” the priest wrote to Francis. Christians in the West and in the East, he wrote the Pope, “are expecting something from you other than vague and harmless declarations that may obscure reality.” “It is high time to emerge from a shameful and embarrassed silence in the face of this Islamism that attacks the West and the rest of the world. A systematically conciliatory attitude is interpreted by the majority of Muslims as a sign of fear and weakness,” he said. “If Jesus said to us: Blessed are the peacemakers, he did not say to us: Blessed are the pacifists. Peace is peace at any cost, at any price. Such an attitude is a pure and simple betrayal of truth,” he said. The priest also stated his belief that the West is in an ethical and moral debacle, and its defense of Islam is a denial of truth. “By defending at all costs Islam and seeking to exonerate it from the horrors committed every day in its name, one ends up betraying the truth,” he wrote.
June’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Muslim Attacks on and Desecration of Christian Churches
Philippines: On June 21 in the village of Malagakit, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)—which earlier pledged allegiance to the Islamic State—vandalized a Catholic church. Describing the desecration as “wicked,” the chief police inspector said the “crucifix and images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were destroyed while the sacred hosts were thrown all over the floor.” Cardinal Quevedo, who condemned the sacrilege in the strongest terms possible, challenged the leaders of the BIFF to punish its men who desecrated the chapel: “If the BIFF wants to have an image as a respecter of all religions, it must punish its members who perpetrated the odious desecration and educate all its members in strictly respecting other religions,” said the prelate. “Last month, terrorist gunmen also desecrated St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi, some 150 kilometers from Cotabato,” notes the report. “The gunmen were seen on a video [here] destroying religious images and burning the cathedral.”
Egypt: An Islamic terror cell consisting of six members, two of whom were described as “suicide bombers, was planning on bombing yet another Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, but was exposed and arrested by police before they could launch their attack. According to a statement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry, “one attacker had planned to detonate an explosive vest inside the church and the other to blow himself up when police arrived to the scene.” Several similar and successful attacks on Christian churches in Egypt in the months before had left about 100 church goers dead and hundreds more severely wounded.
Separately, authorities raided a church-owned building that was being used by the local Coptic Christian community for worship; after police removed furniture, Christian iconography and other items from the building, they chained down the doors to prevent Christians from accessing the building. Christians had for some time tried to have the building legally recognized as a church, only to face a backlash from both local Muslims and authorities. According to a local Christian, “During the early hours of Friday, June 16, we [Christians] were surprised to find the furniture, rugs, icons, pictures, and worship utensils … had been thrown outside and the building closed down with seals and chains. We took the belongings into our homes. We don’t know why the police did that.” When dozens of church leaders met with the local governor insisting that they need a place to worship, he responded by telling them that the building they were using had been found to be in a state of disrepair and need to be demolished.
Algeria: On 9 June, the state oversaw the demolition of the Catholic church located in Sidi Moussa, 15 miles from Algiers. According to Kamel Abderrahmani, an Arab journalist who covered the incident, “Algerian authorities found a very shallow argument to justify this anti-Christian act. According to the authorities concerned, the church was listed in the red category by the technical inspection services. The legitimate question that arises from this is, since the building was deemed in danger of collapse, why was it not restored and listed as part of the national heritage? The statement of the mayor was of unprecedented clarity. He had announced the construction of a mosque and a Quranic school on the same site. Such statements caused outrage, as many saw the demolition as an act of vandalism.” Kamel also noted how the Algerian government had demolished other churches on other pretexts, and concluded by calling Muslim governments and activists “hypocrites”: “If the mayor of Paris or Rome had destroyed a mosque to build a church, what would have happened? Sunni Muslims would have shouted scandal and Islamophobia! This question shows the hypocrisy of Islamists and their double standards. They defend freedom of worship in the West in order to ban it in their homeland. They fight to build mosques in someone else’s homeland whilst destroying churches and synagogues where they have power.”
Iraq: In June 2015, when Mosul was under the Islamic State’s control, the group had announced it was converting St. Ephraim Church into a “mosque of the mujahedeen.” The cross from the dome was accordingly broken off, and all Christian symbols were purged from within the house of worship. Now, months after Mosul was liberated, the occupied church was exposed as being used as a sex-slave chamber where approximately 200 Yazidi girls and women were abused by the Islamic State. A report recounts “ISIS’ depravity towards Yazidi women and girls. On the floor of the iconic house of worship lie tiny pieces of pink and yellow underwear and flower headbands belonging to the very young Yazidi sex slaves the barbaric terrorist group took captive.” The June 14 report also notes that “Last week, according to local activists, ISIS publicly caged and burned alive 19 Yazidi girls for refusing to have sex with ISIS fighters, according to local activists. Yazidi leaders last year showed Fox News photographs of the Islamic jihadists burning babies to death on a slab of sheet metal, photos that show tiny, roasted bodies side by side as flames engulfed them….The butchered Christian building and its Yazidi remnants serve as chilling reminders of the genocide experienced by the two religious minorities.”
Spain: A Muslim man stormed a Christian church during a marriage ceremony, started shouting “Allahu Akbar”—“Allah is greater”—and “tried to throw liturgical objects around him to attack the priest and churchgoers,” says a report. A number of wedding attendants managed to apprehend the 22-year-old Moroccan and hand him over to police, who reportedly charged him with “disturbing public order, crime against religious feelings and threats.” Police also investigated the church for potential explosives before permitting the wedding ceremony to resume. According to the officiating priest, the incident began when a “group of young troublemakers” started making offensive noises at the back of the church. “Suddenly, someone started to shout and charged at the altar. A lot of people, including the bride’s mother, were crying, and there were people who had already jumped out of the pews because we did not know whether this person came alone or not, or if he was armed.”
Turkey: The Erdogan government seized at least 50 Syriac churches, monasteries, and Christian cemeteries, many of which were still active, in the Mardin province, and declared them state property. According to the report, “The Syriacs have appealed to the Court for the cancellation of the decision.” The Chairman of Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation—a 1,600 year-old monastery that was still in use and also seized—said “We started to file lawsuits and in the meantime our enquiries continued.”
The Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Pakistan: A Chinese Christian couple—Lee Zing Yang, 24, and his wife Meng Lisi, 26—were abducted in Quetta and executed on the accusation that they were preaching Christ to Muslims; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for their killing and released “video footage showing the bloodied body of the Chinese man, Lee Zing Yang, taking his last breaths,” says a report. The Pakistani government cited the murdered couple’s “misuse of the terms of a business visa” as playing a major role in their deaths: “instead of engaging in any business activity they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning Urdu language … were actually engaged in preaching.”
Kenya: Armed Muslims connected to neighboring Somalia’s Islamic terrorist group, Al Shabaab, walked into an elementary school compound in Garissa and shot a Christian teacher to death. When a Muslim teacher interfered with their attempts to abduct another Christian teacher, “Al Shabaab got angry,” reported another anonymous teacher, “and told the teacher, ‘We are going to teach you a lesson for protecting the infidels,’ and immediately the two were carried away to unknown destination”—but not before the Somali militants proceeded to “beat Muslims of Somali descent at the school for housing Kenyan Christians.”
Philippines: More news and revelations concerning the jihadi uprising that began in late May in the Islamic City of Marawi appeared in June. The eight or nine Christians originally reported as being tied together and shot dead, execution style, had apparently been first ordered to recite the Islamic confession of faith, which they refused, leading to their execution. “Their bodies were reportedly thrown into the ditch, and a signboard was placed beside them reading ‘Munafik,’ which means traitor or liar,” says a report. “The assailants also asked Police Senior Inspector Freddie Solar to recite the Muslim creed, and as a non-Muslim [Christian] he too declined and was killed.” Seventeen otherswere found ritually decapitated or butchered by the Islamic State-affiliated militants. A priest and 13 parishioners from the St. Mary Cathedral were also kidnapped; the priest “appeared in a propaganda video on Tuesday (May 30) pleading for his life.”
Egypt: More eyewitness details concerning the Islamic State massacre of 29 Christian pilgrimstraveling to a Coptic monastery in the Egyptian desert in May 2017 emerged. One ten-year old boy, who witnessed the slaughter of his father, recounted how “We [he and his 14-year-old brother] saw dead people, just dumped on the ground. They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us in the car…. Every time they shot someone they would yell God is great [Allahu Akbar].” Although President Sisi had depicted the terrorists as “foreigners,” the ten-year-old said that the fifteen assailants “had Egyptian accents like us and they were all masked except for two of them … They looked like us and did not have beards.” The same report states that, a month after the massacre, the Egyptian government had failed to provide adequate security for the residents of Dayr Jarnous, a Christian village that was home to seven of those killed, “and has done nothing to help the victims’ families.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Religious Freedom
Pakistan: A new blasphemy case was registered against yet another Christian. After Mohammad Irfan refused to pay a repair bill to Ishfaq Masih, a Christian who fixed his bicycle, the Muslim denounced the Christian of blaspheming against Islamic prophet Muhammad, leading to the Christian’s arrest. According to Masih’s cousin, “During the argument, Irfan said that he obeys only one master, Prophet Muhammad, to which Ishfaq said that he was a Christian and his faith ends at Christ. Upon hearing this, Irfan raised a clamor that Ishfaq had blasphemed against Muhammad. Soon a mob gathered at the spot, and someone called the police, who took Ishfaq into custody.” Mohammad Irfan also rallied a number of other Muslims—including Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Naveed, and Mohammad Tahir—who claimed that they “heard Ishfaq Masih say derogatory words against the Muslim prophet.” According to the Christian’s lawyer, only one of the four “witnesses” was even present during the altercation. Instead, “Irfan had gathered the other men, including the complainant Mohammad Ishfaq, and they then concocted the allegation against Ishfaq Masih and got him arrested…. The FIR [First Information Report] is quite weak, as it does not contain any specific blasphemous words that my client may have allegedly said…. It also shows that the police did not even bother to investigate the charge before registering a case against the poor man. This is the routine practice of the police in blasphemy cases, and it’s a shame that nothing is being done to stop it.”
Separately, after a Christian couple was slaughtered for preaching Christ among Muslims (see Slaughter section), a South Korean Christian was arrested for allegedly also engaging in “illegal preaching activities.” Authorities revoked his visa and ordered him to leave the Muslim nation.
Philippines: A Muslim teacher in the Muslim majority island of Mindanao forced Jen-Jen, a young Christian schoolgirl apparently of Islamic origins, to pray Islamic prayers in class or else fail the class. According to the report, “Despite being uncomfortable, Jen-Jen learned the words of the prayer to recite to the teacher. But rather than asking Jen-Jen to say the words in an oral test, the teacher later announced students would be required to go to a mosque and pray the prayer aloud.” When the girl and another Christian classmate told the teacher that praying in a mosque contradicts their faith in Christ, the Muslim teacher “ignored the request and told them to turn away from Christ,” adding: “You must comply or else you will fail in this subject. You should revert to your Islamic faith.” The girl was then “forced to complete the long walk to the mosque while wearing a traditional Muslim dress and veil covering, despite burning up with a fever.” She “got so sick, however, that she lost consciousness and blacked out. Even as she came back to, the teacher refused to excuse her from listening to the entirety of the Muslim imam’s message. Since the day at the Mosque, Jen-Jen has been pressured to conform to many other Muslim practices, such as fasting during the month of Ramadan…. [O]ther students have also teased and bullied Jen-Jen because of her faith, sometimes bombarding her as she walked to and from school and pushing her or insulting her.”
Malaysia: The Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy—the statement of purpose of which is to define and promote “Human rights from the Muslim perspective”—asserted that all forms of Christian evangelicalism should be banned. According to the CEO of the Centre, Azril Mohd Amin, “It is a fact that the groups that are spreading Christian propaganda to Malaysians, especially Muslims, will keep up their efforts as they believe that there is no effective law that can stop them.” Jo-Anna Henley Rampas, a leading member of a more progressive and inclusive party, responded by saying this move is “reflective of the erosion of religious freedom in the country” thanks to the “federal government’s failure to instil [sic] proper understanding, tolerance and harmony among citizens.”
Muslim Contempt for and Abuse of Christians
Pakistan: A Christian sanitary worker died after pious Muslim doctors who were fasting for Ramadan refused to touch the “unclean” infidel’s body. Thirty-year-old Irfan Masih had fallen unconscious along with three other sanitary staff while cleaning a manhole on June 1. He was rushed to a governmental hospital where the doctors refused to treat him; he died hours later. “The doctors refused to treat him because they were fasting and said my son was napaak [unclean],” said the mother of the deceased. A few weeks later, a court, responding to complaints from hospital officials accusing the family and friends of Irfan of terrorizing the hospital, ordered police to register a complaint against them. “The hospital has levied a false charge against us in order to save themselves,” explained a cousin of the deceased, who also works in sanitation. “The doctors were responsible for Irfan’s death, because he would have been alive today had they not refused to treat him immediately. Our outburst against the doctors was natural, but we did not damage or steal anything from the hospital. It is a lie, and even the police know it.” A senior police official admitted that “we believe that the hospital is making frivolous accusation against these people….. The hospital is ostensibly trying to pressure the family to withdraw their case.”
Egypt: Suzan Ashraf Rawy, a 22-year-old Christian woman, was reportedly kidnapped on the morning of June 5 while walking to the Coptic Orthodox church she worked at. “When she did not return home that evening, her mother called the church,” an area Christian leader explained. “That is when she discovered Suzan did not arrive at the church in the morning. It is expected that she has been abducted.” She is the third Christian woman in the area of Al Khosous, a predominantly Christian town on the outskirts of Cairo, to disappear since May 30, when a Copt accidentally shot and killed a Muslim bystander during a quarrel with someone else. “Since then, the Muslims started to wage revenge attacks on the Christian community living there, especially the women,” the Christian leader said. According to the report, “Two other young Coptic Christian women disappeared without a trace after the May 30 incident. The families of the women suspected to have been kidnapped have received no communication from alleged kidnappers, the sources said. Area Muslims have long disfigured Christian women for not wearing veils by throwing acid on them, but there has been a surge in such attacks in the past few weeks, sources said…. Fear has seized Coptic Christians in the area, with women afraid to leave their homes. One of the church women’s meetings, which Rawy attended, has been suspended until further notice out of fear for the safety of the participants.”
Bangladesh: Three Muslim men sexually assaulted a 20-year-old Catholic girl in the village of Madarpur on June 18. Her loud cries drew the attention of village locals who came to her rescue, prompting the rapists to flee. After her parents filed a complaint, they began to receive threatening messages to withdraw it or else. “Last year her family was involved in a land dispute,” adds the report. “The violence – a premeditated attack – was also witnessed by the police, deployed by the Muslims who wanted to expropriate the land. The young woman, along with her parents, was forced to leave the house and live in a slum.”
Pakistan: The home of a journalist who extensively covers the plight of religious minorities in the Muslim nation was vandalized. When Rana Tanveer, chief reporter of The Express Tribune, went to the police, they failed to register a formal complaint. Days later, an unidentified vehicle intentionally ran over Tanveer, while he was riding his motorcycle in Lahore on Friday, June 9. According to the report: “Tanveer underwent surgery for a fracture in his pelvic bone on Saturday. His recovery may take months and he has expressed fears for his safety as well as that of his family…. Tanveer says that his work on exposing the poor treatment meted out to the country’s religious minorities like the Ahmadis and the Christians has made him a target of extremists.”
Sudan: A court in El Gedaref fined a number of Christians for selling food and tea during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting: “This is a clear discrimination against Christians and contrary to the slogans of religious coexistence launched by the Sudan Government for the international community,” contended one defense layer. About a dozen people were each fined $2,000 Sudanese dollars ($298 USD).
Iraq: “[T]roubling issues related to discrimination and even violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities” are widespread in Kurdish-ruled territories, one report found, adding, “Christian citizens of the KRI [Kurdish Region of Iraq] have issued complaints and held protests against Kurdish residents for attacking and seizing their land and villages in the provinces of Dohuk and Erbil…. Some Assyrian Christians accuse Kurdish government and party officials of taking lands for personal use or financial gain. These Christians believe they are specifically targeted as part of a policy to Kurdify historically Christian areas…. Minorities continue to fear growing extremism in the majority population, which they believe could threaten them in the long term.” Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims.
Nigeria: A presidential order replaced Christian education with Islamic Studies in Secondary Schools. While the subject, “Christian Religious Knowledge” no longer exists, Islamic, Arab, and French studies have been introduced in the new curriculum. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which protested the new changes in front of the presidential palace, currently filled by a Muslim, described the change as “a time-bomb, obnoxious, divisive and ungodly…. To us in CAN, its introduction is an ill-wind that blows nobody any good for so many reasons.” According to the report, “The end result [of these changes] is that a Christian student will be left with no option than to settle for Islamic Arabic Studies since French teachers are more or less non-existent in secondary schools,” all of which “will deprive pupils of moral trainings which CRK [Christian Religious Knowledge] offers.” The Christian Association of Nigeria further denounced this move “to force Islamic studies down the throats of non-adherents of the religion,” as being an “agenda deliberately crafted towards Islamization.”
Separately, a Christian priest and his companions who were abducted by Islamic militants in April told of their experiences in June, when they were released. Fr. Sam Okwuidegbe identified his “kidnappers as Fulani herdsmen, an Islamic radical group that has killed thousands of people in Nigeria, including many Christians, in the past couple of decades” notes the report. That he was unable to recall any phone numbers for the Islamic terrorists to call to negotiate a ransom for his release “triggered a series of beatings,” says Fr. Sam; “they huddled me up, hands and feet tied to the back with a rope like a goat before a kill. They removed my cassock, then my shirt, threw me into the dirt on the ground, and began to beat me with the back of their guns, they’d kick me hard on my sides, slap across my face, push and pull me hard across the ground … one of them said ‘We are going to burn you alive!’” Another man in captivity did manage to recall a phone number, a ransom was set, and the men were eventually released.
Due to the ongoing bleeding of Nigeria’s Christian population—increasingly at the hands of Muslim Fulani herdsmen and not just the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram—a number of leading Nigerian churches issued a statement calling on the government “not to abdicate its responsibility of protecting all Nigerian citizens.” According to the communique: “We are worried that the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen have continued unabated and unchecked. The recurring and orchestrated killings of Christians in Southern Kaduna, mass killings in parts of Benue State and others across the country have increased suspicion that the so-called herdsmen are an extension of terrorist groups carrying out an evil agenda of ethnic and religious cleansing. Characteristically, these mindless attacks are often unprovoked.” Earlier in January, Bishop Diamond Emuobor, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said that, because Christians are facing increasing dangers at the hands of extremists, so “Christians should defend themselves and he who has no sword, should sell his coat and buy one to defend himself. We are all human beings, nobody should catch you like a snail and slaughter because you believe in Jesus Christ.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Al Shabaab militia over the weekend killed 13 non-Muslims, mostly Christians, in coastal Kenya, sources said.
Village Muslims in the Pandanguo settlement of Lamu County helped Islamic extremists from the Somalia-based Al Shabaab identify locations where the Christians resided, a survivor of the attack told Morning Star News from a hospital in Mpeketoni. Several of the victims were beheaded.
The assailants killed four non-Muslims in Kipini (sometimes called Kadundu) on Sunday (July 9), not far from the Boni forest, a reputed hiding place of Al Shabaab rebels battling the government in Somalia. Early Saturday morning in Jima they killed nine non-Muslims in attacks that began at around 11 p.m. the previous night, shooting some and hacking others to death with machetes, including beheadings, area sources said.
“The Christians were asked to recite the Islamic dogmas, which they could not, hence they were killed,” a source said. “We urged the government to investigate and bring to book these local Muslims who are harboring these Al Shabaab terrorists, because the Christians who were decapitated were farmers.”
Those who managed to flee and survived have had their crops damaged by wild animals and are still in great shock, the source added.
“The government has now beefed up security in the area, and we hope the victims who fled will soon return back, but they need some trauma counseling first,” he said.
Area Christians have now left their villages.
“We are now residing at the police station in Hindi for fear of possible attacked,” one area resident told Morning Star News.
Many area people are still missing or unaccounted for, and there are fears the casualty toll may increase.
Two other sources in Lamu County said Christians in the coastal region of Kenya are in serious crisis as they face food shortages after fleeing their farms.
Acting Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i has imposed a three-month curfew in Lamu, Tana River, and Garissa counties in an effort to counter Al Shabaab’s attacks. The curfew began on Sunday (July 9) and is in effect until Oct. 9.
Rebels from Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011 in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast. Attacks on non-Muslims on Kenya’s coast have also continued.
Kenya ranked 18th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Church members in a northeastern town in Kenya fear for their lives after Islamic extremists targeted Christians in a grenade and gun attack early Thursday morning (Oct. 6) that killed six people, sources said.
Targeting predominantly Christian migrant workers from Kenya’s interior, rebels from Somalia’s Al Shabaab group reportedly took responsibility for the attack at a residential compound in Mandera, with a spokesman for the militants saying it was designed to drive Christians from the area.
The attack in Mandera, tucked in Kenya’s northeast corner near the Somali border, reportedly wounded several others. Among 27 people rescued were Christians who arrived at their church traumatized and in shock.
“The loud grenade woke me up, and I heard one of the attackers saying the ‘infidels’ should leave the Muslim area of Mandera,” one survivor told Morning Star News. “There were loud cries for help as the attackers were shooting from all directions.”
The pastor of an area church told Morning Star News that two members of his congregation were among those killed in the attack.
“Two of my church members were brutally murdered, and then their heads were chopped off,” he said. “The government needs to beef up security, especially in areas where non-locals who are mostly Christians reside, otherwise we are opting to leave the area for the sake of our lives.”
Earlier this year, in a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya, Al Shabaab rebels on Jan. 31 killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them, and they have carried out previous attacks in the Mandera area. An attack on a bus and a truck near Mandera by Al Shabaab insurgents took the lives of two Christians in December 2015, and on July 7, 2015, Al Shabaab killed 17 quarry workers near Mandera, including several Christians.
On Dec. 2, 2014, Al Shabaab killed 36 non-Muslims, most of them Christian, in an attack on quarry workers near Mandera. The killings came after a Nov. 22, 2014 assault by Somali insurgents in the same area that left 28 non-Muslims dead, including 19 Christians.
Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the Dec. 2 massacre, calling it vengeance for police raids on mosques in Kenya and Kenyan military involvement in displacing the Islamic extremist militants from Somalia. Prior to the Nov. 22 attack, police raided and closed four mosques in Mombasa that they said were recruitment centers for Islamic terrorists.
Al Shabaab rebels have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011 in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.
Kenya ranks 16th on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in Kenya who put his faith in Christ last November has lost his wife and children, and now he fears for his life.
When his wife was hospitalized last October, Abdu Godana, 35, could not have guessed that the healing she received after an evangelist’s prayer would lead to losing her, his 7-year-old son and his 5-year-old daughter.
On the Kenyan side of Moyale, a town that shares a border with Ethiopia, Godana’s wife had received treatment for an unspecified illness for three weeks at Moyale District Hospital without any improvement when he took her home. Soon thereafter they received a visit from an evangelist with the Evangelical Christian Church of Africa (ECCA), who prayed for her.
His wife was not completely healed, but she was able to go about most of her daily activities, and a week later the couple invited the evangelist and two other church leaders to their home. The couple decided to become followers of Jesus after talking and giving thanks with the church leaders, and they began meeting at their home for Bible study and prayer, Godana said.
Early this year, Muslim neighbors reported to Godana’s relatives and those of his wife that the couple had embraced the Christian faith.
Godana’s in-laws began sending him threatening text messages: “You had a Muslim marriage, so it is against Islam to change your faith,” one read. “If you continue in the Christian faith, we shall come and take our daughter.”
In early February, Godana’s in-laws took his wife, he said. His Muslim parents distanced themselves from him, not only because they believed he had disgraced the family by leaving Islam, but because in losing his wife he had lost the dowry for her that they had provided.
Two weeks later, his in-laws returned and took away his children, he said.
His own family members are now threatening him. “Your life is at stake if you still hold on to the Christian faith,” one relative told him.
Godana has become depressed under a continuing barrage of text messages from his in-laws, including demands for payment for medical follow-up care, he said. One text read, “We have continued treating our daughter, and now we demand that you pay us the money that we have used for her treatment.”
“I am spending sleepless nights as the pressure from my wife’s family is being directed toward me,” he said. “I am also fearing for my life.”
Church Buildings Razed in Ethiopia
Across the border in Siraro District of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region, in East Shewa Zone about 150 miles south of Addis Ababa, Feb. 15 rioting by predominantly Muslim Oromo Arsi destroyed 14 church buildings, Christian leaders said.
More than 2,000 Christians have been left without worship venues after throngs of Oromo Arsi, protesting that the government was marginalizing them and that Christians were converting Muslims, burned 10 Kale Heywet Church (KHC, Word of Life) buildings and four others.
The KHC buildings burned were in Sabate with 110 church members, Loke Kecha with 70 members, Kate with 90 members, Bilitu with 350 members, Siraro, Chaticha with 200 members, Subuka with the 420 members, Shashamane with 30 members, Kenva with 150 members and Torban-Anshwa with 50 members.
Also torched were the buildings of Sabate Catholic Church with 250 members, Sabate Full Gospel Church with 330 members, Loke Kecha Orthodox Church with 100 members and Bilitu Orthodox Church with 500 members, according to Christian leaders, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“We have been worshipping outside and sitting on the bare ground bearing the hot sun,” said a KHC leader. “We appeal to our brothers elsewhere to come and assist us. The attackers poured petrol and were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is greater]” before setting the church building on fire.”
A month before the attacks in predominantly Muslim Siraro District, anonymous leaflets warned churches to stop converting Muslims to Christianity, said another area church leader. As demonstrations were taking place in Siraro town on Feb. 15 with anti-government and anti-Christian chants, Muslims in several villages began burning the 14 church buildings throughout Siraro District, church leaders said.
A cemetery belonging to Sabate Catholic Church was also damaged.
Police have arrested several suspects.
Ethiopia’s population is 60 percent Christian and 34 percent Muslim, according to Operation World. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian and 8 percent Muslim, although nominalism among the Christian population is considered widespread.