VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Tanzania

‘Can Christians be butchers?’ Tanzania’s Islamist tensions continue

A Christian butchers in Mbeya, Tanzania. 'Wakristu' means 'Christian'. World Watch Monitor

A Christian butchers in Mbeya, Tanzania. ‘Wakristu’ means ‘Christian’.
World Watch Monitor

Over 90% of the population of Tanzania’s island of Zanzibar is Muslim, with a small Christian and indigenous minority. Addressing complaints by Christians because they are not allowed to slaughter animals for consumption, an authority told World Watch Monitor,

“Our national policies are silent on who deserves to be a slaughterer. But we have experienced seeing Muslims as our animal slaughterers, mainly because they have been directed by their holy book to eat meat slaughtered by Muslims, while for Christians there is no such condition stating that meat must be slaughtered by a Christian. What this means is that Christians can eat meat slaughtered by anyone.

“This is our custom. We will not allow Christians to engage in this business, as we feel that it will create violence in society. Christians are allowed to sell meat, including to their own butchers; the only problem is around slaughtering the animal.”

WWM reported the recent attack on a mosque in Mwanza, northern Tanzania, has highlighted the area as one [undergoing] pressure from political Islam.

More than three years have passed since the murder of a Tanzanian pastor, killed when rioting Muslims protested against Christians working as butchers. Tanzania is believed to have equal numbers of Christians and Muslims, although no official census figures are available. As Muslims are only permitted to eat meat that has been ritually slaughtered, while almost all Christians have no such restraints, it is typically considered acceptable for only Muslims to work in the trade, even though there is no official legislation to enforce this.

On 11 Feb. 2013, after Christians in the north-western city of Buseresere had arranged for a non-Muslim butcher to prepare meat for a Christian funeral reception, Mathayo Kachila, the pastor of the local Assemblies of God church, was hacked to death by rioters.

For six years before, tension had been building between Muslims and Christians in Buseresere over the issue of animal slaughter. The local government had forbidden non-Muslims from working as butchers, but Christians in the Geita district had begun to do so.

When Muslims heard that a non-Muslim was providing the meat for a funeral reception, they began looting Christian butcheries, urinating on the meat, and assaulting other Christian businessmen. Several were injured. Kachila was on his way to a friend’s house, when he was caught in the riot and received fatal machete wounds. Another nine people were injured.

Police arrested six suspects, but those cases have since stagnated due to lack of evidence and witnesses.

Hundreds of people attended Kachila’s funeral. Although they live in a Muslim-dominated area, it was the first time anything like this had happened there and the Christians were stunned.

Following the riots, police arrested and charged two local pastors, Obadiah Mlokozi Madini (who has since died) and Isaiah Rutha Ikiri (now 56), for “slaughtering animals without considering the law on food, medicine and law about livestock diseases”. Their cases lasted for almost two years, before being dismissed early in 2015.

Geita’s Regional Police Commander, Mponjoli Mwabulambo, told World Watch Monitor: “It has been our custom since the establishment of Tanzania – and even before – to see Muslims slaughter animals for public use, and we have not seen any problem. We have to care for our traditions and customs, which is to see Muslims doing this. If Christians slaughter animals, Muslims will not eat them. We feel that it will create violence in society, especially on the Muslim side.”

But some Christians believe that the eating of halal meat goes against their religious beliefs.

There is also an economic element. The halal slaughtering service costs TShs500 (US$0.22) per chicken, 1,500 TShs (US$0.67) per goat/sheep and TShs2,500 (US$1.12) per cow, and customers are issued a receipt from the Tanzania Supreme Council of Muslims, to whom the remittances are paid.

Local Muslims also complained over losing income to Christian butchers, as demand for non-halal meat increased and more Christians took up the trade.

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“Terror,Blood and Death of Christians” When Will It Stop?

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My heart is breaking.  We have spent countless hours on video conference calls, and phone conversations with our brethren in Nigeria and Pakistan.  Two countries, our Lord has laid on our hearts to intervene and bring hope. We have listened to heartbreaking story after story of the desperation, the untold death and suffering.  We comfort those who have fled, forced to leave loved ones behind. The sorrow and helplessness in their voices digs at our very soul.  But we do this with great love and joy as our Lord commanded us, but at times we shed uncontrollable tears. And today is one of those times.

As I look at videos and pictures of the achievements and growth of a family that we are aiding, I hear sadness in the father’s voice. He is alone, without his family, not by choice but a situation forced on him through extreme persecution.

A short while later I reviewed videos of another sort—the death and destruction carried out by evil men and my soul cries out like theirs does.  One on the frontlines was literally broken for a time.  The sights of brutal slayings, wails of brokenhearted and lives forever turned upside down, proving too much for his mind and soul to process—literally unable to speak of it.  He even began questioning his own faith.  After much prayer and comfort from God, he is healing with a renewed spirit and sense of commitment.

We could share all the details that would break your heart in two, but for fear for our brothers and sisters safety, the risk is too great.  But know this, their suffering is real, their tears are real, what they are witnessing is real.  Traumatized until they reach the Kingdom of Heaven and all sorrow is wiped from their eyes.

The shock and pain the children are enduring is impossible for us to recognize in the West.  Our precious brethren in Nigeria and Pakistan wonder, “Do our brethren in the West even know, do they care?” They wonder what would it be like to live in a country where you can walk the streets without fear. Never needing to look over your shoulder, or fearing what awaits around the next corner. To live in a nation not bombarded by targeted attacks month after month, week after week. No need to flee their home to find safe places, as they pass the dead careful to avoid bodies strewn along the path. Why can’t it be this way in their own country, their generational homeland, they don’t want to leave.  “We just want to live in Peace.”

I want to share their story, but must do so with discernment.

Recently, we learned of 2 men who were captured by the Boko Haram. They were given the options, convert or die.  In fear, one converted, but they killed him anyway stating, “We will send you to Allah without sin.”  The other refused to denounce Christ. As they butchered him, he began preaching the Gospel. He begged them not to kill him, not because he was afraid, but because in his words, “You will be judged for this, please don’t do it.”  He had that much forgiveness and love for his attackers.

One dear soul tells of a vision that keeps him going, a vision from God of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Those of you that share the gifts of prayer and hope, letters, and donations mean so much to those persecuted.  One day soon they will be able to tell their stories.  But as for now I can only ask that God would allow me to take their pain from them, if only for a moment to allow them comfort.

What if each one of us did this every day, or even once a week?  Asking God to give us for a time, the pain of one who suffers allowing them to heal and feel peace.  Could you handle it?  Could you handle the shock, the pain, the sorrow, the helplessness and hopelessness that they feel every day even for a moment?  What if we took 5 minutes even 10, every day to pray and intercede (to act or interpose on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition) in this manner?  I believe the healing that would go forth would amaze.

We don’t normally share video’s that portray horrific images, but I turned to this video by accident which normally I will shut off rather than watch. I already hear firsthand these stories vividly in the lives of our brethren, but this time it was as if God said No, you will watch and then share it.  Right now, if God is speaking to your heart to intercede for them—watch this video from Nigeria. It’s 2 years old and at present it is much more volatile.  Please use discretion, the video is very graphic and not for the faint of heart. Afterwards, spend time with God asking “What can I do?” Let us know how God is using or moving you for care for these dear ones.

C. Refsland, VOP Advocate/News Analyst

WARNING! VERY GRAPHIC VIDEO BY CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN AMERICANS

Interfaith outreach in Zanzibar: Islamic jihadists call Christian churches “dens of nonbelievers,” then bomb them

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Qur’an 5:17 and 5:72 labels those who believe in the divinity of Christ kafara — unbelievers, or infidels. And in the context of a holy book that tells Muslims to “fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness” (9:123), that all too often leads to violence. “Anglican bishop Michael Hafidh of Zanzibar told World Watch Monitor at the time he did not know who had planned and executed the attack” on St. Monica Anglican Cathedral, but it is abundantly clear what the attackers’ belief system was.

“Islamists Call Christian Churches ‘Dens of Nonbelievers’ Before Attacks,” from World Watch Monitor

A series of bomb blasts in Tanzania’s island of Zanzibar is stoking fears that an Islamist breakaway movement is increasingly targeting Christians.

Since 2010, the cases have been on the increase and Christians and their leaders—many of them originally from mainland Tanzania—say they are anxious.

In the latest attack on Feb. 24, assailants exploded a homemade bomb near the gate of St. Monica Anglican Cathedral, slightly damaging the church wall and a car park. Anglican bishop Michael Hafidh of Zanzibar told World Watch Monitor at the time he did not know who had planned and executed the attack.

Also Feb. 24, a similar explosive went off at the Mercury restaurant, a popular hangout for western tourists. A day earlier, four people were injured when a bomb was thrown into the Assemblies of God Church in the Founi area of the island. On Feb. 15, in the Tomondo area of the Island, a home-made bomb was thrown at the door of the Adventist Church during a worship service.

Hafidh said although this is not the first time the churches had been targeted, the recent series of explosions has left Christians feeling more scared.

“We don’t know the motive, but the police have said they are investigating. We think these are people opposed to the presence of Christians here,” he said in February.

Christians and Muslims have peacefully shared Zanzibar until 2010, when the Association of Islamic Mobilization and Propagation, a religious movement known as Jumuiya ya Uamsho na Miadhara ya Kiislam, or UAMSHO, began clamoring for Zanzibar’s autonomy.

UAMSHO registered in Zanzibar as a non-governmental organization in 2001. In its charter, it declared its aim of aim of establishing Zanzibar as a center of Islamic institutions under Islamic law and free from the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the official name of Tanzania.

In more recent years the campaign has taken on religious overtones. Clashes with police have ended with churches being burned and clerics being attacked. In February 2013, a Roman Catholic priest in the Zanzibar Diocese, Rev. Evaristus Mushi, was killed by unknown gunmen. His death followed a shooting two months earlier that left another priest, Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, badly injured.

Before Mushi’s killing, UAMSHO had circulated leaflets mentioning their youth training in Somalia, and threatening attacks.

Our youth who went for training in Somalia have assured us that before we celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammed, there will be other ‘celebrations’ about these infidels, that will be a big funeral for them,” said one undated leaflet, in Swahili, that circulated before the attack on Mushi.

The leaflets praised attacks on churches, referring to them as “dens of nonbelievers.” They also claimed the group had support from within the Zanzibari government of President Mohamed Shein. Christians on the island also received text messages warning them to leave the country or face death.

“The problem is the group is mixing calls for autonomy with religion,” said the Rev. Cosmas Shayo, a Catholic priest on Zanzibar. “They issues threat to Christians. They have attacked churches and clergy. We become more afraid when they circulate threatening leaflets.”

Added another Zanzibar priest, the Rev. Thomas Assenga: “We fear anything can happen anytime. Things are not easy here.”

In September 2013, Rev. Amselmo Mwang’amba, an elderly Catholic priest, was seriously injured when assailants splashed him with an acid. Mwang’amba, who headed the Roman Catholic Congregation of Cheju in the central district of the Island, was attacked as he walked out of a cyber café he frequented….

Source

Churches Targeted in Bomb Attacks in Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Tanzania– Suspected Islamic extremists bombed three church buildings on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar in February, with one of the blasts injuring several Christians, sources said.

A bomb exploded near the door of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God Zanzibar (EAGZ) church building on Feb. 23 in Kijito Upele-Fuoni, outside Zanzibar City, just before the end of the service at about 1:15 p.m., according to area Christian leader Lucian Mgaywa.

The loud explosion shook the building on the island 16 miles (25 kilometers) off the coast of Tanzania, a church member said.

“Several people had minor injuries from broken pieces of bottles and metallic objects,” the member, who requested anonymity, told Morning Star News. “The extent of the injuries has not been established. The members were only complaining of pains and were advised to seek medical attention.”

Police from Fuoni began investigating, and officers from the mainland’s Dar es Salaam arrived and collected the broken metallic and glass pieces. Liquids in some of the bottles turned out to be highly acidic, Mgaywa said.

“The gloves that the policemen wore caught fire, but no one was hurt,” he said.

The next day, Feb. 24, at about 2 p.m., another bomb exploded at the entrance of Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican church building in the historic city center known as Stone Town. Tourists often visit the site, but no one was near at the time of the explosion. Anglican officials said the bomb, detonated remotely, did no damage to the structure.

Police have arrested one person in connection with the bomb attack; his name was not released at press time.

In the Tomondo area about four kilometers away from Stone Town, a home-made bomb was thrown at the door of a Seventh-day Adventist church on Feb. 15 during a worship service at 11 a.m. Another such bomb landed at the doorway the next day at around noon. There were no reports of injuries.

A church leader reported the incidents at the Mazizini police station in Zanzibar City. Officers found pieces of broken bottles at the site.

“My church members are shaken and afraid that two bomb attacks have taken place,” said the church leader, whose name is withheld. “We need prayers.”

The head of the Zanzibar Pastors’ Fellowship, Fabian Obed, said he was very concerned about the bomb attacks.

“We urged the government to take serious measures at the series of bomb attacks targeting churches here in Zanzibar in the past few days, because worse things will follow soon if nothing is done swiftly,” Obed said.

In the tourist area of Malindi on the Zanzibar seashore, a bomb exploded near the Mercury Restaurant coast on Feb. 24, the same day the Anglican church building was bombed. The explosion, which hit at about 1 p.m. damaged the wall of the building but no injuries were reported.

The separatist group Uamsho or “Awakening,” the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation, has threatened Christians since 2012. An Islamist group fighting for full autonomy of the Zanzibar archipelago from Tanzania, Uamsho arose after Zanzibar’s primary opposition, the Civic United Front, formed a government with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in 2010.

On Sept. 13, 2013, suspected Muslim extremists threw acid on the face and chest of a Catholic priest, the Rev. Joseph Anselmo Mwangamba, as he stepped outside an Internet café on the outskirts of Zanzibar City.

Suspected Islamic extremists on Feb. 17, 2013 shot and killed the Rev. Evaristus Mushi, a 56-year-old Roman Catholic priest, in the Mtoni area outside Zanzibar City. On Dec. 25, 2012, suspected Islamic extremists shot the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, a Roman Catholic priest, through his cheeks and in the shoulder as he arrived home in Tomondo. Members of Uamsho were suspected.

While Tanzania’s population is 34.2 percent Muslim and 54 percent Christian, according to Operation World, the Zanzibar archipelago is more than 97 percent Muslim.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that mobs have looted, burned or demolished at least 20 island church buildings. CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said use of a remote device in the Anglican church bombing suggested “new levels of sophistication and planning.”

“The government of Tanzania must undertake swift investigations in order to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice,” he said in a press statement. “It is also vital for the Tanzanian government to uphold freedom of religion or belief for all its citizens, including the Christian minority in Zanzibar, in line with its international obligations under article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Morning Star News

Christian Youth Leader Murdered by Machete in Tanzania

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A Christian youth leader has been murdered in Tanzania and two others seriously injured.

World Watch Monitor reports at about machete-wielding assailants attacked the men during an all-night worship service at Gilgal Christian Worship Center and started cutting them on different parts of their bodies.  The incident occurred on Oct. 22 around 1:00am in an area known as Pasiansi in the Ilemela district of Mwanza province, near Lake Victoria..

The man killed was identified as Elias Lunyamila Meshack, a 35-year-old youth leader. The members of Gilgal Church described him as a good man and said his death has caused great sadness. The bishop of the church said the motive of the attack is unclear, but it was not a robbery.

“I don’t think this was robbery because the aim of robbers is to steal money and other items, yet nothing was stolen here,” Bishop Eliabu Sentozi reportedly said.

The incident comes as the latest in a string of attacks on churches and pastors across East Africa, with two pastors in Kenya killed on the same day. Christians in Tanzania have been victims of Muslim persecution over the past few years.

Several pastors and church members have been killed, while other believers have suffered acid attacks. Churches have been bombed or torched and properties have been destroyed.

VIDEO from April 2013

Source

Catholic priest targeted in acid attack in Zanzibar

The Zanzibar authorities offered a financial reward for information on an acid attack on two British women in August

The Zanzibar authorities offered a financial reward for information on an acid attack on two British women in August

A Roman Catholic priest in Zanzibar has received treatment in hospital after attackers threw acid at him on a street in the island’s capital, police say.

Elderly priest Joseph Anselmo Mwagambwa was attacked as he was leaving an internet cafe in the island’s old town.

It follows a similar attack on two young British women there last month.

Tensions between the majority Muslim population and Christians have been on the increase in recent years, as well as on mainland Tanzania.

“He sustained burns in his face and shoulders. The acid burnt through his shirt,” Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told Reuters.

Tanzanian police say they are searching for witnesses to the attack which occurred in the old part of Zanzibar City, Stone Town, on Friday afternoon.

It is the latest in a series of assaults on religious figures in the country and the fifth acid attack since November, when a Muslim cleric was hospitalised with acid burns.

In a sign of further tension, a Catholic priest was shot dead in February.

The attack on the British girls in August occurred in the same part of Stone Town.

Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohammed Shein said the assault had “brought chaos and confusion to our country and outside”.

Zanzibari officials offered a £4,000 ($6,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.

A popular tourist destination, the acid attacks came as a shock to many residents of Zanzibar who say attacks on foreign travellers are rare.

Police say no suspects have been arrested over the attack on the priest.

Source

Interfaith meeting declares ban on religious hate speech in Tanzania

Source

tanzania-map1Tanzania has banned religious hate speech in all its manifestations as the result of a two-day interfaith meeting held in Dar es Salaam that concluded Thursday (May 9th).

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Saidi Meck Sadiki told Sabahi that the decision was reached by religious leaders as a way to restore peace.

“The prohibition extends to mosques and churches that are using loud speakers to spread hate speech,” Sadiki said. “From now on, we will arrest whoever engages in hate speech. Whether you are in the church or mosque, if you utter hate speech we will arrest you.”

The directive also extends to people who sell cassettes or other recordings that contain hate speech, he said.

“Selling instigating cassettes is as good as selling drugs. We will arrest anyone [disseminating hate speech] unselectively,” he said.

He said loud speakers in churches and mosques are limited to inviting people to worship, and if they are used to insult other religions, police will not hesitate to arrest the instigators.

In response to a question about teachers in schools instigating religious tension or using hate speech, Sadiki said briefly: “If proved, we will de-register such a school.”

Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Suleiman Kova said religious leaders have asked police to maintain law and order, and therefore officers are going to dedicate themselves to finding those who want to cause unrest in the country.

“From today, the Tanzania Police Force has formed a special unit that will use ICT (information and communications technology) to monitor online communication,” he told Sabahi on Thursday.

We will monitor Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Jamii Forums and even SMS [text messaging] from your mobile phones that are propagating hate speech and bring those responsible to justice,” he said.

“This should be taken as a warning to a good number of youth, and a few elders, who are misusing ICT to spread hate speech,” Kova said. “We will follow them there and bring them to justice.”

Joint statement on slaughtering rights, tolerance

Muslim and Christian leaders in Tanzania urged the government to use law enforcement as a quick solution to ease religious tension in the country, according to a joint statement issued Thursday after the interfaith meetings in Dar es Salaam.

Among the statement’s 16 recommendations is the contentious issue of slaughtering rights that has sparked violence in Tanzania over the past year.

“We will make special arrangements for religious leaders to go to the press and explain the right procedures for slaughtering,” Sadiki told Sabahi. “It was discussed in the meeting and I am sure the true definition serves the interests of all parties in the country and is likely to leave our nation more united.”

He said the rules for slaughtering have been determined and do not infringe any faith, and will soon be made public by religious leaders.

As a part of the solution, religious leaders said the rules for slaughtering animals and birds should be discussed by religious leaders using the Bible and Qur’an as guidance. It also urges religious leaders to refrain from uttering divisive statements before the public.

“As religious leaders, we are bestowed with the capacity to maintain peace and security,” the statement said. “Religious violence can easily destroy our peace and security. We should not allow our peace to be played around with.”

The statement urges religious leaders to engage in religious debates with respect for other faiths, to introduce religious teachings at the primary school level, maintain interfaith relationships, and encourages parents and religious leaders to educate youth on the importance of maintaining peace.

It also recommended job creation as a way of reducing idle time for youth, and said that government and religious leaders should meet together twice a year, religious complaints should be resolved quickly whenever they arise, and religious leaders should meet with the press regularly to talk about maintaining peace in the country.

Religious leaders support recommendations

Bishop Charles Salala of Africa Inland Church attended the two-day meeting and said he supports the recommendations, especially the role of parenting.

“Child rearing is not a joke. Parents should be committed and raise their children [to have] ethical lives,” he told Sabahi. “Let them from the early days preach [to their children] peace, harmony, tolerance and love to everyone.”

Dar es Salaam Muslim leader Sheikh Alhad Mussa Salum said such meetings should be held regularly and leaders should implement the agreements in their congregations immediately.

“We should never cheat ourselves by thinking peace has an alternative under the sun,” he told Sabahi after the meeting. “Let us put aside jokes when it comes to peace. Once peace is lost, automatically we will lose our freedom.”

 

 

Christian Persecution News Update 4/23/2013

Somali Christian convert jailed and tortured by al-Shabaab militants

Source Militants from the rebel Islamist group al-Shabaab have seized,  imprisoned and tortured a Christian convert from Islam in Somalia. Hassan Gulled was taken by the rebels, who still control  parts of central southern Somalia, on 23 March in Bulo Marer, near Qoryoley  District. Hassan (25), who had been living in Christian-majority Kenya since 2007,  returned to Somalia in late February to visit his family. His wife is still in  Kenya. Hassan became a Christian in 2010 and married in 2011. His  Christian activities were noticed by al-Shabaab extremists in Kenya, who  contacted their counterparts in Somalia. His movements there were monitored by the group, which has a base in Bulo Marer, for three weeks before he was jailed.

Christian victims tell People’s Tribunal about arrests on false charges by highly communalized Karnataka police

Benguluru, April 19, 2013 More than 70 Christian Pastors told a People’s Tribunal in Bengaluru city today how a highly communalized Karnataka police arrested many of them and kept them confined in police stations or jails on false charges in league with hoodlums of the Sangh Parivar. Women too were also not spared. The Women victims broke down as they narrated the violence against them. The victims remained in confinement from overnight to several days, the distinguished jury consisting of eminent social activists heard in the Tribunal organized by the All India Christian Council to assess the victimization and persecution of Christian pastors and attacks on churches in the state. It was quite clear from the narrations that Uttara Canara was the foci of the anti-Christian violence, but incidents of persecution were reported from every one of the 30 districts of the state during 2012 and in the first three months of 2013. The “People’s Hearing on Persecution of Christians in Karnataka” was held at the Institute of Agriculture Technologists in the city. The Jury consisted of Mrs Brinda Adige, the celebrated Founder member of Global Concerns India, Advocate Omkar KB, and Mr K L Ashok, general secretary of Komu Souhardha Vedhike [Communal Harmony Front].and Mr. Mohamed Rafi Ahmed,General Secretay Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity. Continue Reading

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ACLJ Joins Global Coalition to Highlight Plight of Christians in Syria

This week, the ACLJ joined members of a global coalition named the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) expressing our concern and support for Syrian Christians and other ethnic and religious refugees facing persecution and displacement because of the conflicts in Syria. Last month, the ACLJ joined the members of RLP, which represents religious organizations from twenty different countries, to discuss the most critical issues of international religious freedom. Each year at its global consultation the RLP issues a statement regarding a pressing concern in the area of religious freedom. The ACLJ is proud to stand with this global coalition to highlight the crisis in Syria and ask the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria to pay particular attention to the “vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities.” Along with the call for action by the United Nations, the statement calls everyone to a time of prayer for stability in the war-torn country of Syria. The sheer number of Syrian Christians fleeing their country without access to adequate legal aid and subjected to ongoing violence deserves attention. To see the Istanbul Statement on Syria, you can click this link. The ACLJ and the global coalition express concern over the constant violence aimed at Syrian Christians and the lack of support and protection for refugees. In response, we collectively call on the international community to uphold international humanitarian standards and provide for the well-being of Syrians of all religious affiliations. Religious minorities in Syria have been denied a voice in the recent political and diplomatic efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. Accordingly, we join this global coalition and call for international support for a solution that will recognize every Syrian’s right to contribute to a peaceful solution, regardless of their religious affiliation. As an organization deeply committed to defending the fundamental human right to religious liberty, the ACLJ stands in solidarity with the Syrian Christian church. We are committed to raise awareness about the current situation in Syria and the plight of the Christian Syrian minority.

Kazakhstan Court Rules Against Destruction Bibles; Christians Fined

ASTANA/BUDAPEST (BosNewslife)– An appeals court in autocratically-ruled Kazakhstan has overturned a ruling that 121 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles, that were seized from a street evangelist be destroyed, BosNewsLife learned Monday, April 22.

“Thank God they didn’t destroy my books,” said evangelist Vyacheslav Cherkasov, who lives in the north-central city of Shchuchinsk, in a statement.
Christians claimed international publicity as well as outrage among believers and rights activists influenced the court decision.

Cherkasov said he will still have to pay a fine of $572 in local currency, more than the average monthly wage, for “violating” the country’s harsh rules regarding importing, publishing and distribution of religious literature. He had appealed against the destruction of literature and the fine saying it was his “constitutional right” to distribute Christian books and other publications. Continue Reading

Pregnant Mother in Tanzania Forced Out of Home for Putting Faith in Christ

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 20 (Morning Star News) – By the time Lukia Khalid, mother of three and nearly seven months pregnant, was baptized on March 30, her Muslim husband had already forced her out of their home in western Tanzania for becoming a Christian. That was a week after the 38-year-old Khalid and her husband, Kassim Khalid, received a visit to their home from an evangelist (name withheld) who told them about eternal life and the remission of sin for those who put their trust in the death and resurrection of Christ. On that day in Ujiji, near Kigoma, March 23, Khalid put her faith in Christ for salvation; her husband did not. After the evangelist left, Khalid’s husband threatened to kill her if she did not recant her newfound faith, she said. She took the threat seriously.

“My husband asked me whether I had left Islam, to which I said ‘Yes,’” she said. “He threatened to kill me if I was to stay with him. I then decided to escape that night with my three children to a neighbor’s house.”

Jamila Khalid, 13, Mjibu Khalid, 6, and 3-year-old Madua Khalid followed their mother out the door.

“We left only with the clothes that we were wearing,” Khalid said. “The command was so urgent that we could not wait any longer. We had to leave immediately.”

Ujiji is a predominantly Muslim area in the otherwise Christian-majority country. With a population that is 34.2 percent Muslim, Tanzania is 54 percent Christian; most of the rest of religious adherents hold ethnic tribal beliefs, according to Operation World. Continue Reading

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The Siege of Egypt’s St. Mark Cathedral- An Insider’s Account

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  April 22, 2013 at 4:00 am

“Was Egypt’s entire state security unable to stop a mere 30-40 youths form vandalizing the nation’s cathedral?” — Amir Ramzi, eyewitness to the Egyptian security forces joining the mob that attacked the cathedral.

What really happened on Sunday, April 7, 2013, during the St. Mark Cathedral attack in Cairo, where two Christians were killed and dozens wounded by Egyptian forces? As usual, different reports gave different versions, but now that the smoke has settled, the facts as first asserted during the attack by Coptic activists have been confirmed. Back during the conflict, when the military was actually besieging the St. Mark cathedral—the most sacred building for millions of Coptic Christians and the only apostolic see in the entire continent of Africa—Amir Ramzi, a Copt who managed to escape the compound where hundreds of other Christians were trapped all night, was interviewed by phone on the popular Egyptian show, Cairo Today. Continue Reading

Egyptian Ministry of Interior of Involvement in Attacks on Cathedral

In light of the attacks on St. Mark’s Cathedral, a fact-finding  committee demanded the dismissal of Maj. Gen. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of  Interior, insisting that charges be brought against him for failing to carry out  his role and preserve public security.

The committee also demanded a restructuring of the entire ministry, and for  an investigation to be conducted into the actions of other high-ranking police  officials involved in the investigation of the attack on St. Mark’s  Cathedral. In its report, the committee blamed the Ministry of the Interior for the  attacks on the cathedral in Abasseya after the funeral service for the victims  of Khosos. Under the leadership of  judge Mohamed el-Fawaz, chairman of the Civil Alliance for Human Rights, the committee stated that failure  to ensure the security of the mourners was considered “direct involvement.” “The sight of police forces allowing assailants to attack the cathedral and  the Papal residence, and idly watching them, is considered a direct involvement  in this sinful act, which was enough to incite anger amongst people, affecting  national unity,” Fawaz wrote. “The events that took place at the cathedral are not a result of a sectarian  strife, but rather a hostage and terrorism situation,” Fawaz added. Continue Reading

President Morsi Denies Sectarian Incidents in Egypt. Statement called a lie!

Said Abdel Hafez, head of the Dialogue Forum for Development and  Human Rights, recently  stated that comments made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi indicating there  are no sectarian incidents in Egypt is a “lie” because he knows the essence of  civil and political rights is the right to freedom of belief and worship. Abdel Hafez told Mideast Christian News that President Morsi definitely knows  the incidents committed against Egyptian Copts- their right to freedom of faith  and worship was violated and their churches and houses were demolished and  burned- were sectarian in nature. Hafez noted that other Copts were killed because of their religious identity  and some were forcibly displaced from their villages and homes because of the  ongoing clashes between Copts and Muslims. “I think there is no reason which would make the president lie in the media  and allege that there are no sectarian incidents, and that he sees what is  happening as simple skirmishes and believes they do not constitute a  phenomenon,” Hafez told MCN Continue Reading

UK Government report plays down growing Christian persecution

A government report on human rights violations has been attacked by the UK head of an international Catholic charity for not taking the growing problem of Christian persecution seriously.  The Foreign and Commonwealth office have been criticized for glossing over the persecution of Christians.

The National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), Neville Kyrke-Smith, also criticised the FCO 2012 Report on human Rights and Democracy, saying that it “Downplays the scale of Christian persecution.” Although he commended the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for considering issues related to religious freedom in its report, he criticised it for its lack of coverage regarding the intolerance towards Christians.

Neville Kyrke-Smith made reference to the many Christians that have fled the Middle East because of persecution, notably Iraq and stated that the report failed to cover these problems adequately. He went on to say that: “While the report describes attacks on members of the Iraq’s LGBT community and Emos, it is virtually silent about the various attacks on Christians.” Continue Reading  

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Boston Bombing Victim Was Involved With Christian Student Ministry

By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
April 22, 2013|11:14 am

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an inter-denominational  student ministry that builds communities across campuses in the U.S., revealed  that one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing was involved with their  organization.

Chinese national Lingzi Lu, 23, was one of the three people who lost their  lives in last week’s twin blasts that rocked the Boston Marathon, which also  injured more than 170 others.

(Lu) was involved with the international student ministry we have at Boston University. She attended a retreat that we sponsored last fall. She was friends  with people in the InterVarsity International Student ministry with the graduate  and faculty side of our work,” said InterVarsity National Field Director Greg  Jao, according to Mission  Network News.

Jao revealed that over 500,000 international students come to U.S. colleges  each year.

“Most of them represent the promise of that country’s future. The State  Department has estimated that 25% of all of the world’s future leaders are  studying in the United States right now,” the field director added. “It’s in the  mutuality of relationship that you begin to share life together. You begin to  share stories together. You have opportunities to share the Gospel together. And  all it takes is a simple invitation: ‘Would you come and have a meal with me?  Would you have coffee at my home?'”

The family of Lu back in China shared in a statement with Boston University that the young  student’s dream was to come to America to study, and that she had “fallen in  love with Boston and its people.”

“We are grieving and at a loss for words to describe the pain and sadness we  are experiencing following the sudden passing of our dear daughter, Lingzi. She  was the joy of our lives. She was a bright and wonderful child. We were thrilled  to watch her grow into an intelligent and beautiful young woman. She was a  positive role model for many others,” the family added.

Boston police and the rest of America are waiting to find out what pushed  19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, 26-year-old  Tamerlan Tsarnaev to commit the crime. While Tamerlan was killed in a shootout  with police Thursday night, Dzhokhar  is in custody. The teen is currently recovering in the hospital from a  self-inflicted gunshot to the throat, and may face charges of federal terrorism  and state murder.

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