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Secret Believers Share Faith under Fire

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BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — One-hundred-thousand Christians are murdered because of their faith each year. In many cases, governments are to blame because they pass laws that restrict religious freedom.

Recently, CBN News gained exclusive access to a gathering of secret believers inside a former Soviet Republic to get a close-up look at what life is like for Christians who face daily persecution.

Secret Strategy

The setting in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan could not have been more ideal.

“This is a beautiful location,” Vitaly, a secret believer, said. “Seventy percent of the country is mountainous. Locals call it the second Switzerland of Asia. Our goal was to find a safe place away from the city to not draw attention of the authorities.”

For a few days Vitaly and a handful of Christians gathered in a secluded villa tucked away in the mountains about a two-hour drive outside the capital city Bishkek.

We worship, pray, and strategize how to effectively share the love of Christ in our countries,” Vitaly said.

CBN News cannot show you their faces or reveal their real names for security reasons, but in a room inside a secret getaway are underground believers from Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. All are former Soviet Republics in Central Asia experiencing a rising tide of hostilities against believers.

They are members of a Christian ministry that’s reaching young people in the former Soviet Union.

“It’s practically impossible to openly share about Jesus Christ. Doing so will get you beaten, arrested, or killed,” Vitaly warned.

Youth Not Allowed

But that has not stopped Marat, a youth leader from Uzbekistan, who said last year was a difficult year for him.

“Fortunately I wasn’t arrested,” Marat said. “But I was repeatedly interrogated by secret police accused of gathering people in my house. They said what I am doing is illegal.”

Marat runs an informal Christian school training Uzbek leaders. He told CBN News that “the pressure is unrelenting.”

“You can’t relax. You are constantly under stress,” he said. “You cannot trust anyone because you don’t know if they’ll turn you in or accuse you of proselytizing.”

Doud is from Kazakhstan, the largest of the five Central Asian countries. There were no Kazakh Christians in 1990. Today there are about 15,000. But strict religious laws make it difficult for churches to register.

“According to our law you cannot attend church until you are 18 years old. That means we cannot hold youth meetings, discipleship classes or Bible study,” Doud said.

One Life at a Time

Firuz is from Tajikistan. He gave CBN News exclusive access to home video of his secret house church that was smuggled out of the country. The meetings are small and typically held in a believer’s home.

“The people in this video know exactly what’s at stake,” Firuz told CBN News in an undisclosed location.

“Our parents taught us from childhood that one day we may have to sacrifice our lives.”

Seven million people live in Tajikistan and only 1,000 are Christian.

“Each life counts,” Firuz said. “God says, ‘Be thankful every day, rejoice in every soul that comes into heaven.’ That’s what keeps us going: one life at a time.”

Radical Islam On the Rise

Religious freedom exists in all five countries under the constitution, but barely. While Islam is the dominant religion, a more radical expression is taking root in Central Asia.

Dmitry Kabak is a human rights lawyer in Bishkek. He said fear of radicalism has led governments to adopt laws controlling all religions, including Islam and Christianity.

“Groups from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and elsewhere come in with a different interpretation and practice of Islam. That worries the authorities. Some of the radical groups have engaged in terrorist activities,” Kabak told CBN News.

Oleg works in remote villages of Kyrgyzstan. He remembers what it was like spiritually after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“There was a lot of freedom in the 90s. People could openly share the gospel. But eventually, Islam started to make a move and gain influence,” he said.

An Oasis from Persecution

All throughout the mountain areas of Kyrgyzstan the horse is another popular mode of transportation, especially to get around some of the tough terrain and step hills.

For the believers, the mountains are a spiritual oasis because it is an opportunity to get away from the almost daily routine, harassment, and persecution from the authorities and to come together in a safe place, a beautiful place, and to get spiritually energized.

“The beauty, the backdrop, (and) the scenery (are) wonderful distractions from (their) daily challenges,” Marat said.

“To see Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Kazakh, and Tajik believers in the same place at one time is so encouraging,” Firuz said.

“We draw strength from each other. We know we are not in this spiritual battle alone.”

After being encouraged, refreshed, and re-energized, the believers must travel back home to the uncertainty of the days ahead.

Yet they stand boldly, convinced of a calling to make the name of Jesus Christ known — no matter the cost.

Muslim Persecution of Christians: March, 2013

HolyWar

U.S. Administration Defends “Human Rights” of Worst Islamic Persecutors of Christians by Raymond Ibrahim

Sweden to send Iranian Christian asylum seekers back to Iran to be tortured and possibly executed for the crime of leaving Islam. Also, the Nigerian government recently did go on the offensive to try to contain the jihadis [of Boko Haram], only to be chastised by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying he was “concerned by credible allegations that the Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations” against the jihadi mass murderers.

The Islamic jihad against Christians in Nigeria is proving to be the most barbaric. A new report states that 70% of Christians killed around the world in 2012 were killed in that African nation. Among some of the atrocities committed in March alone, at least 41 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a bus station in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, these attacks

“were a signpost of the intended extermination of Christians and Christianity from northern Nigeria.”

According to the Rev. Jerome Ituah, “Out of the 52 Catholic churches in Maiduguri diocese, 50 of them have been destroyed by [terrorist group] Boko Haram. When two Christian brothers were returning home after Sunday church service, jihadis opened fire on them with machine guns, killing the brothers, as well as three others, and injuring several more Christians.”

Another 13 Christian factory workers in Kano were “gruesomely” slain. According to the local bishop,

“Reports of the attack reaching us disclosed that on that fateful Saturday at about 7 p.m, Muslim faithful were conducting their prayer close to the affected compound occupied by Christian families, when two taxi cabs stopped in front of the compound and the occupants, who all concealed their arms, dashed into the complex and demanded to know why the residents were not part of the 7 p.m. Muslim prayer. They responded by telling the visitors they were Christians and so could not be part of the Muslim gathering. At that point, they separated the men from their wives and children and shot them dead on the spot after ordering the women and children into their homes” to be enslaved.
The bishop added that, “government should show more concern, like it has always done when Muslims are affected; I have not seen that in the case of Christians—that 13 Christians were killed in one straight attack and nothing is heard from the government reflects selective justice because we are aware of compensation paid to Muslim families in situations of this nature.”

Categorized by theme, the rest of March’s Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:

syriansFear

Church Attacks

Egypt: According to El Watan News, three Christian brothers were shot dead at their home by automatic weapons a few weeks before two of them were set to have their weddings. The victims’ family was earlier accused of trying to build a church on land they owned after purchasing building material to build a house on that land. The rumors about the building of a church spread during the Friday sermon at the mosque, following which, 2,000 Muslims stormed the land and tried to destroy the house, a car and a tractor, resulting in the murder of the three Christian brothers.

Indonesia: Authorities demolished a church building with a bulldozer in West Java, even as Muslim bystanders cheered and denounced Christians as “infidels.” According to Pastor Leonard Nababan, the government is “criminalising our religion.” The congregation had gathered around the church in an effort to save it; so did Muslims, shouting, “They’re infidels and they’ve built their church without permission;” “Knock the church down now,” and “Allahu Akbar”[“Allah is Greater”].

Iraq: According to Fox News, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were more than 300 Christian churches. Today, a decade after a jihad was unleashed on Christians and their churches, only 57 Christian churches remain in the nation. And “The churches that remain are frequent targets of Islamic extremists, who have driven nearly a million Christians out of the land…” An Iraqi-based human rights organization said that,

“The last 10 years have been the worst for Iraqi Christians because they bore witness to the biggest exodus and migration in the history of Iraq…. More than two-thirds [of Christians] have emigrated.” One of the most dramatic cases of Christian persecution came in late October of 2010, when Al Qaeda members laid siege to Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, killing 58 and wounding 78. According to an AP report , “

praying-handsPlease remember to pray for the persecutors. That they will will come to know the love of Christ!

Iraq’s Catholic Christians flocked to churches to celebrate Easter Sunday [in March], praying, singing and rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ behind high blast walls and tight security cordons… [emphasis added].”

Libya: A Coptic Christian church in Benghazi was attacked by armed Muslims. The jihadis severely beat and shaved the beard and mustache of Father Paul, the priest of the church, as a sign of humiliation. They also beat the deacon and nine attendees. Meanwhile, because Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government had done little to restrain the systematic abuse of Egyptian citizens in Libya, including the murder of one under torture, Copts demonstrated in front of the Libyan embassy in Cairo—prompting yet another attack on the Benghazi church, which was set on fire.

Sudan: According to Morning Star News, Khartoum’s jihad continues to “rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity“: the Evangelical Church in the Nuba was “reduced … to ashes” after an aerial bombardment. Days later, another bombing campaign in the Christian-majority region left two dead and twelve injured. “These bombardments,” said a church leader, “are major sources of fear among the people in South Kordofan.”

Turkey: The 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to go from being a branch of the Hagia Sophia — Christianity’s grandest cathedral, which was transformed into a mosque after the Islamic conquest, and is currently a museum — to being an active mosque. Many Turkish Muslims continue calling for the return of the Hagia Sophia itself to a mosque.

 

Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

anti_christianHolland: A 43-year-old Iranian Muslim convert to Christianity was found murdered. According to the Farsi Christian News Network, the victim went to church the afternoon he was killed: “The shocking news of this senseless murder has brought grief and sorrow to the local Christians, Iranian-Christian community, and asylum seekers across the country.” Christians constitute a large percentage of the Iranians seeking asylum in the Netherlands. (Islamic Sharia law calls for the killing of apostates; in the Islamic world, converts to Christianity are regularly targeted.)

Iran: During a major conference, a Shi’ite leader claimed that Islam was under attack by Christianity in Iran: “Christian booklets and brochures are being sent to people’s doors for free in many areas…. Christianity is being preached in many shops in the Islamic city of Mashhad. Also Christian booklets are sent to people’s addresses without restrictions.” But a Mohabat News spokesperson said, “Of course, the Islamic cleric did not provide any supporting evidence for his claim. However, it seems their sole purpose in bringing up and repeating these claims is to provoke security authorities against, and provide the means for increased pressure on Iranian Christians converts.”[sic]

Kazakhstan: Vyacheslav Cherkasov , a Christian street evangelist, was detained for offering Christian literature to passersby and fined the equivalent of one month’s wages on charges of “violating the rules” regarding “importing, publishing and distribution of religious literature,” which came into force in 2011. The court ordered the destruction of his 121 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles and children’s Bibles, in the first such ruling since the nation gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Local Council of Churches Baptists said in published remarks, “We were shocked—this is sacrilege and illegality.”

Pakistan: The blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl, who was earlier arrested for “blasphemy” when a Muslim cleric falsely claimed that she burned a Koran, has been reopened. According to a BosNewsLife report, “A police investigator asked the Supreme Court in Islamabad to reopen the case” against the Christian girl, “saying he was pressured by the government to drop charges against her after an international outcry.” Her family and she are currently in hiding. A court is also considering a death sentence against 47-year-old Martha Bibi, a Christian and mother, due to alleged “derogatory remarks” about Muslim prophet Muhammad. Another Christian man was arrested after a Muslim (falsely) accused him of blasphemy. But his arrest was not enough to appease the 3,000-strong mob that went on to punish collectively the nation’s Christiansburning two churches and some (approx) 200 Christian homes, and stealing the Christians’ property.

Somalia: Muslim militants murdered another Christian, Ahmed Ali Jimale, 42, who was killed by two men as he stood outside his house, near a police station. Among other charges, the man was accused of apostasy—on the widespread assumption that all Somalis are born Muslims—and, because he worked as a teacher, of “introducing the children to foreign Christian religion.” Muslim militants had warned him that, “We shall come for your head.” A friend of the slain said, “Jimale was a good man who helped our community. His widow is very scared and afraid, not knowing what will happen.” He also leaves behind four children, ages 10, 8, 6, and 4.

Dhimmitude

[General Abuse and Suppression of Non-Muslims as “Tolerated” Citizens]

Egypt: Muslim rioters in the town of Kom Ombo threw firebombs and rocks at police after Friday mosque prayers in an effort to storm a church in which they claimed a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity was hiding. Violence began when a 36 year-old Muslim woman, who had been missing for five days, was allegedly seen outside the church with a female Christian friend. Days later, hundreds of Muslims marched in the town of al-Wasta, to protest the disappearance of another young Muslim girl and accuse the priest of St. George’s Church of using “black magic” to lure her to Christianity. They hurled stones at the church; Coptic shops were forced to close down; Salfis threatened to kidnap a Christian girl if their Muslim girl did not return. However, Watani newspaper had already reported that the Muslim girl sent her family an open letter, posted on the Internet, saying that she ran away because she was sexually abused by her uncles, as well as forced to marry a man she did not want, and that she had left Egypt and was married to a Muslim man. Unrelatedly, a Fox News report states that “Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse.” According to a Voice of Russia report, “Up to 100,000 Christians have left Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Some of those have arrived in Moscow.”

Iran: Also according to Fox News, a United Nations report states that “Iran’s hard-line regime has intensified its violent crackdown on Christians and other religious minorities, even imprisoning nursing mothers for practicing their faith…” The March report provides a “rare, detailed view into the shocking treatment of Christians in Iran, where American Pastor Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence for his alleged work with Christians.” According to a UN expert on human rights in Iran, “The persecution of Christians has increased. It seems to target new converts and those who run house churches…. more than 300 Christians have been arrested since June 2010, according to the report.” Most recently, Five members of the Church of Iran denomination, “charged with disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and an internet activity against the system,” appeared before a judge.

Pakistan: After 3,000 Muslims attacked a Christian village—burning two churches and some 200 homes—the government punished Christians for protesting. According to the Daily Times, “Christians around the country are incensed by the recurring theme of blasphemy allegation followed by attacks and burning down of their vulnerable communities. They have held protests across the country in a concerted effort to vent their disgust at the recent incident and to show solidarity with the victims… Lahore police used the opportunity to beat the innocent Christian protesters. They shot tear gas shells at them and beat them with sticks. Yet when the Muslim attack took place they stood back and watched till the town had been razed to the ground…Muslims of Jhelum city have threatened to burn Christians home in response to the protests. Now the community is living in fear of reprisals for their simple act of condemning violence and the blasphemy laws of Pakistan.”

Sweden: According to Charisma News, “Christians in Iran face arrest, torture, even death. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Swedish immigration officials. Sweden wants to send Iranian Christian asylum seekers, who left Islam, back to Iran where they could be killed. Iran is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians. As apostates from Islam, they face grave danger in this country. But their requests for asylum status that could save their lives have been denied.”

Syria: According to a Catholic leader, up to 30,000 Christians have fled the city of Aleppo, and two priests were abducted and held for a ransom of 15 million Syrian pounds each. Christians are regularly kidnapped and beheaded by jihadi rebels. Also, a short English-language video appeared where Fr. Fadi al-Hamzi told of how his uncle was recently murdered:

“They killed him because he is Christian, they refuse to have any Christians in Syria. … I’m not afraid; my uncle died, he’s immortal now. I can be like him.”

PersecutionhandsWhen asked if he was worried if Christians would be massacred if the U.S.-supported jihadis overthrew the government, the priest said,

“Yes, yes, this will be… they don’t want us here.”

Christians were in Syria 600 years before Islam conquered the nation.

About this Series

Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching pandemic proportions, “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:

silence1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim 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 Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death those who “offend” Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like dhimmis, or second-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—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.

 

If you want to change the world, share the Gospel.

BibleHeart

Kazakhstan: Tea and Prayers lead to Pastor’s arrest

Emergency-UpdateASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (Worthy News)– A pastor in Kazakhstan was arrested last month for allegedly serving hallucinogens to his congregation while wielding a powerful psychological influence over them.

However, the “hallucinogens” Pastor Bahtzhan Kashkumbaev served proved to be just red tea — used as a non-alcoholic alternative for communion — and the only influence he wielded came from the pastor’s prayers during worship service, according to Wade Kusack of Russian Ministries.

Kashkumbaev’s arrest may prove a harbinger for many more under Kazakhstan’s new religion law; to date, there have been at least eight arrests, but according to Kusack, Kashkumbaev’s arrest was different because he had converted from Islam.

Many Christians in Kazakhstan believe Kashkumbaev’s arrest was actually a punishment sent from Muslim officials for his evangelical activities, Kusack said.

“It is a punishment for him and a threat for all others not to change their religion: If you are Muslim, you should stay Muslim; If you are Christian, you should stay Christian.”

Kashkumbaev’s arrest reminded Kusack of how the Soviets once treated Christians living in the former USSR.

“If the church all over the world ignores this and there is no reaction from the West,” said Kusack, “I believe this type of persecution will continue.”

The Kazakhstan embassy in the US can be reached at: http://www.kazakhembus.com/page/contact-us

We urgently ask everyone to contact the embassy of Kazakhstan and pressure them to release this pastor from prison!

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

the-persecuted-church

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

egypt map

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  

lu-lingzu

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.

Court orders destruction of Christian literature

bibleburn

KAZAKHSTAN: In what may be the first such instance in Kazakhstan, a court has ordered religious literature to be destroyed. Forum 18 reports a total of 121 books confiscated from a Baptist, Vyacheslav Cherkasov, were ordered destroyed in the northern Akmola Region, according to the verdict seen by Forum 18 News Service. The books comprise Bibles, Children’s Bibles, and other books and leaflets on the Christian faith, mainly in the Kazakh language. Cherkasov was also fined one month’s average wage. If he loses his appeal, court executors will carry out the destruction. A Justice Ministry official in the capital Astana told Forum 18 that “most likely the books would be burnt”. A state Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA) official told Forum 18 that “I’m not interested in whether court executors are bothered by having to destroy religious literature”. Local Council of Churches Baptists told Forum 18 that “we were shocked – this is sacrilege and illegality”. Human rights defender Yevgeni Zhovtis of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law sounded distressed, telling Forum 18 that “this is terrible, terrible”. Religious literature is frequently confiscated, and the state appears committed to using censorship and other freedom of religion or belief violations as a means to control society.

Forum 18 can recall no other court decision in Kazakhstan ordering religious literature to be destroyed. In April 2012 a court initially ordered two religious books, including a Bible to be destroyed as part of an administrative case, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. However, exactly two weeks later the same judge reversed their decision when the individual from whom they had been confiscated complained. The individual was acquitted of any wrongdoing and the destruction decision was later annulled. Similarly, no officials, members of religious communities, or human rights defenders contacted by Forum 18 could recall such court-ordered destructions either. “We know that religious literature has frequently been confiscated since the new Religion Law came into force in 2011,” Zhovtis told Forum 18. “But I’ve never heard that religious literature is being destroyed, unless it is extremist.”

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