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(Morning Star News) – Police have banned evangelistic events in a town in western Uganda following open-air preaching in which many Muslims put their faith in Christ, sources said.
Churches in Bwera, on Uganda’s western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, held a joint evangelistic event amid the large Muslim population in Bwera beginning on May 20. The success of the event led not only to the ban but to church leaders receiving evangelistic , pastors said.
“Tomorrow we are coming to kill all of you during the open air crusade,” read one text message to a church leader a day after several Muslims put their faith in Christ on May 20.
Police halted the event, which was supposed to continue until May 26, on May 25.
On the first day, several former Muslims spoke at the open-air meeting, the church leaders said.
“Jesus changed my life when I acknowledged him as my Lord and being the Son of the most high God,” one former sheikh (Muslim teacher) testified.
This testimony touched many people, and large numbers showed up the following day, many of them putting their faith in Christ, church leaders said. In all, 35 Muslims put their faith in Christ.
Another former sheikh on the second day of the event used the Koran to argue for the uniqueness of Jesus. Offended Muslims began mobilizing, and more than 250 Muslims armed with long swords and clubs showed up at the event on May 25 in anticipation of attacking.
Muslim leaders reported what speakers were saying at the meeting to police, who summoned church leaders, pastors said. Hundreds of Muslims marched to Bwera police station led by several Islamist leaders issuing threats and calling for the meetings to be banned, organizers said.
“We cannot allow the Christians to use the Koran in their meetings or to allege that Jesus is the Son of God – this a serious blasphemy to Muslims,” said the head of the mosque in Bwera, Muzamiru Aramanzani, according to the pastors.
The demonstrating Muslims also threatened to kill all former Muslims who embraced Christianity in Bwera, the church leaders said.
“We cannot watch the Christians changing our faithful members to Christianity. If those who have joined Christianity will not return back to Islam, then we are going to treat them as infidels, hence deserving death according to the teaching of Islam,” said another sheikh, according to organizers.
Following the May 25 meeting, police later that day banned all open-air Christian meetings in Bwera, they said. The event had been scheduled to end on May 26.
The ban sent a chilling message to those who have become Christians, who said they are afraid to go to worship services or other Christian meetings.
“I am very afraid for my life,” said one former sheikh. “I have received threatening messages in my phone that the Muslims want my head.”
Organizing the event was the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Sound of Salvation Ministry and the Church of Uganda of Bwera Custom Church.
The churches hoped to complete the event by seeking the help of a large number of police and military personnel, but the Muslim’ threats to kill the church leaders if they continued invoking the Koran in their teaching led police to cut the campaign short, organizers said.
Church leaders in Bwera called on the international community to pray for protection and that converts remain firm in Christ.
The opposition marks the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – When the 50-year-old church elder and leader of Kano state’s Samaila village heard gunshots shortly before midnight, he rushed out of his house to try to find security agents.
It was a natural reaction for Mai’angwa Samaila, given recent Islamist attacks in northern Nigeria. What the elder for the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) did not know was that the armed Islamic extremists, having killed two Christians in front of their Catholic church building, were coming for him next.
Not finding him at home that night (Aug. 15), they instead kidnapped his wife, Safiya Samaila, 45. They then kidnapped two other women, 20-year-old Yaha Gabriel and Hauwa Bebi, 18, both members of the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Samaila, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA).
Such kidnappings, along with threats of massacres by Islamic extremists, are continuing with the approval of some state officials in a concerted effort to eliminate Christianity, church leaders said.
Mai’angwa Samaila told Morning Star News how the killing of Yohanna Audu, 45, and Audu’s son, 18-year-old Micah Yohanna Audu, and the kidnappings were carried out. The gunmen first went to St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Yohanna Audu, a church member whose house is beside the Catholic building, went outside.
“He went to find out who were the men on the premises of the church at that time of the night when they shot him, and he died instantly,” Samaila said. “His son, who heard the sound of the gunshot, ran out to find out what had happened since his dad had just gone to the church; he too was shot and killed.”
The armed Muslim extremists then went through the village to kidnap the three women, starting with his wife.
“As the shooting and capturing of the women was going on, some residents in our village rushed to the Catholic church and rang the church’s bell, alerting others on the attack on the village,” he said. “This forced the armed Muslim men to beat a retreat. This saved so many lives that would have perished during the attack.”
As the gunmen retreated, they shot at those who had run to the church building, Samaila said.
“The three women kidnapped were taken away,” he said. “I frantically called on heads of security agencies in our area, the police and army, but I was told that they were unable to come to our aid because their vehicles had no fuel or were in bad working condition.”
The gunmen contacted him and others the following day, demanding 10 million naira (US$27,510) for the release of the women, he said.
“We pleaded with them to release the women, but they refused,” he said. “They threatened to kill the women unless we paid the ransom. We had no other option than to tax ourselves and pay the money.”
The gunmen accepted 3 million naira (US$8,253) and released the women a week later, on Aug. 22, Samaila said. He and others recovered them in the Falgore Forest.
“We believe that Christian communities here are being persecuted because of our faith,” he said. “The government is aware about such invasions of Christian communities but has not done anything to put an end to the menace. The sad thing is that it is only Christians that are being killed or kidnapped in our area, as there was never any Muslim community attacked or a Muslim kidnapped.”
Morning Star News found that kidnappings of Christians in the Tudun Wada area have forced many Christians to flee, while many others continue to receive text messages and letters threatening massacres in their villages if no payments are made to kidnappers.
Haruna Samaila, a Christian who has received persistent phone threats from Islamic extremists, played recorded phone conversations he had with them.
“They threatened that unless I pay them 3 million naira [US$8,253], I will be killed,” he told Morning Star News. “I reported the threats to our church leaders, and they asked me to report the matter to police. When I did so, I was instead arrested by the police and detained. It took the intervention of our church leaders to get me released.”
Church leaders threatened to sue police for illegally detaining him, Samaila said.
“I will never allow them to kidnap me alive, they just have to kill me,” Samaila he said. “The government is insensitive to our plight. This is a conspiracy against us Christians in Kano. Those in authority and government know those armed Muslims carrying out these attacks against us, and that is the reason they are not concerned about our plight. It is a battle against Christianity and Christians in Kano state.”
A Christian whose adult son was killed by Islamic extremists in 2016 said he received a threatening letter from the gunmen on Nov. 21.
ECWA member Aminu Sallau, 60, told Morning Star News that a gang of nine Muslim extremists rode into Katsinawa village in the Tudun Wada LGA on motorbikes on Feb. 6, 2016 and shot his son, Usman Aminu, to death.
“Even yesterday [Nov. 21], the gunmen again sent a letter to me saying they were not yet done with me,” he said. “They stated in the letter that I should keep aside 3 million naira [US$8,253] for them, as they’ll be coming for the money at any time, and that failure on my part to give them the money would mean death for me.”
Sallau said he had no money to give them.
“I am prepared to die if that is the only price I have to pay for being a Christian,” he said.
Sallau said he narrowly escaped death in the attack that killed his son.
“I was listening to news on the radio when nine armed Muslim men stormed my house,” he said. “They came on three motorbikes and started shooting into the air. Three of them pointed their guns at my head and demanded I give them money.”
He had 80,000 naira (US$220) in the house and gave it to them.
“The gunmen were not happy that I had only a little money on me, so they tied my hands and legs and were about to take me away when one of them, who was standing guard in front of my house, rushed in to tell his colleagues that he had shot and killed my son, Usman,” he said. “On hearing this, I began to cry and shout, and in the midst of the confusion, the gunmen abandoned me and fled.”
Usman Aminu’s widow, 25-year-old ECWA member Hauwa Usman Aminu, said that her husband had returned from a business trip and had decided to check on his mother in their family home.
“He decided to visit his mom in their family home about 200 meters from our house,” she said. “It was there that the gunmen killed him. I heard sounds of gunshots shortly after my husband had gone out and knew that something was wrong.”
The Rev. Ayuba Hassan of the ECWA Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, and chairman of the Tudun Wada Local Area Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said that armed Muslims are carrying out attacks and kidnappings on Christians in order to force them to embrace Islam.
“Christians here are being persecuted for refusing to embrace Islam,” he said. “We are constantly under attack. We are not allowed to freely worship as Christians. These kidnappings are aimed at forcing us to recant or make us run away from here so that they can take over our lands and expand Islam’s frontiers.”
The Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, vice chairman of the CAN Kano State Chapter, told Morning Star News that Muslim officials in the state government are behind attacks on Christians in the state.
“These attacks are being instigated and supported by the agents of the Muslim-controlled Kano state government to force indigenous Hausa Christians, who we are, to embrace Islam,” he said. “Our refusal to do their biddings is what has made them adopt this strategy of kidnappings and attacks in order to force our people to tow their line. This is a jihad against the church of Jesus Christ.”
Kano state officials declined to speak with Morning Star News about attacks on Christians in the Tudun Wada LGA. The state police headquarters in Kano, a spokesman confirmed the attacks but declined to speak further, saying only that the cases are being investigated.
Hassan said Christian communities and villages attacked include Samaila (Tuku), Katsinawa, Beguwa, Jarkaya, Gidan Kuzuntu and Jitta Dutse.
“In Beguwa village, on 14 July, 2016, three Christians were kidnapped,” he said. “Those kidnapped are Shamaki Ali, Bature Hassan, and Magaji Salisu. A Christian woman was also raped there. The four victims are members of the ECWA Church in Beguwa village.”
On the same day in Jarkaya village, another Christian community, three members of the Catholic church were kidnapped, identified only as Abdu, Jamilu and his son, he said.
In Gidan Kuzuntu village, also a predominantly Christian community, Baba Yaji was kidnapped at about 1:30 a.m. on July 12, 2016, and the Rev. Julius Gospel, a Roman Catholic priest, was kidnapped on June 30, 2016, in predominantly Christian Jitta Dutse, the ECWA pastor said.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Four Christians accused and arrested for alleged blasphemy are in danger of being killed in an extrajudicial killing. As Fides learns, Protestant Pastor Aftab Gill, Unatan Gill and two other Christians currently detained in the central prison of Punjab, should appear in court on October 16, but the court has refused to provide them an escort. Family members fear that, in the transfer, they can be killed by the radicals.
The four are accused of insulting Islam by publishing, on the occasion of a funeral, some posters in which the word “rasool” (Urdu: Apostle) was used which is an attribute of the Prophet Muhammad (see Fides 20/08/2015). A month ago the court denied the release of the Christians, but granted bail to Muslim printmaker who printed the posters. The NGO CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement) says that “the judge was biased because the term ‘rasool’ is found in the Bible in Urdu and Christians had no blasphemous intention”.
Imtiaz Shakir, Muslim lawyer who defends Christians in court, told Fides: “The trial is an exaggeration, one is abusing the word rasool, which in Urdu means messenger. The accusation is preposterous, the whole system is biased, local authorities are looking for an opportunity for another extrajudicial killing”. “My religion – Shakir continues – does not allow me to endorse such injustice: these innocent people are suffering because of a misunderstanding of Islam. This is a failure of the judicial system and an abuse of power. Not only Christians but all Pakistani citizens who believe in the rule of law and justice should speak out to defend these innocent people”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 01/10/2015)
“We Want Freedom” The Plight Of Pakistani Christian Refugees – ISIS threatens Christians in Pakistan
(Voice of the Persecuted) This week, world leaders from across the globe are meeting in the US. Iran & Thailand were topics of discussion that we paid particular attention to. Words from both countries, were carefully orchestrated to show the world that they were deserving of new positions on the world stage. Both countries are trying to show they are in favor of democracy and freedom, but the actions of both countries tell a different story.
Thailand is putting forth that they are caring for migrant workers to keep them from human trafficking. Things are not what it appears on the surface. A world tourism hotspot, Thailand has seen recent numbers falling, and with good reason. They are steeped in human trafficking and human rights abuses. You might recall the Government of Thailand is under great scrutiny as investigations have implicated Thai state officials and many others for their involvement in human trafficking networks.
Thailand is not the sole purpose of this report, but a huge factor. They are arresting Christians fleeing persecution in Pakistan. Christians who are not ‘economic refugees but bonafide persecuted. These Christians escape to Thailand because visa’s can be easily obtained and is economically easier for them to travel there. They’re seeking religious freedom without fear of being abused or killed for their faith in Christ.
Upon arrival, they immediately apply with the UNHCR for asylum. They’re given asylum seeker certificates and interview dates, but Asylum seekers in Thailand normally wait up to 3 1/2 years or longer for their cases to be processed by the UNHCR office. Thailand does not have a working relationship with the UNHCR and refuses to recognize the valid documents given to these asylees. Most are financially unable to continually renew their visas. When the asylees travel visas expires, normally 6 months, they become illegals in the eyes of the Thai government. They come trusting the UNHCR for protection, but soon find the organization powerless in Thailand.
Adding to their stress, waiting periods of mere months between applying for refugee status and their Refugee Status Determination (RSD) interview now see extremely long delays. When an interview dates approaches, the UNHCR office often postpones them another year. This was recently the case of one who was nearly assassinated multiple times in Pakistan. They’re also not allowed a work permit without status. If found in the labor force, they will be arrested. If caught as an illegal, they are detained in the inhumane conditions of the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). Recently authorities began penalizing them under the criminal penal law of Thailand. Many have been incarcerated together with criminals in the Central Jail, with no exceptions or special treatment provided to women or children. These Christians are at risk of being sent back to Pakistan, putting them in grave danger. Delays and the inability of the UNHCR to work with the Thai government for their protection, leaves them vulnerable to abuse, extortion and bribery, and extended suffering as they wait in hiding. The global community, world leaders and the UN body are mainly silent on the targeting of these Pakistani Christians.
We hear many heartbreaking stories during interviews with these refugee’s. Threatened with death in their homeland, entire families in danger if they speak out, and no way to support their families in hiding.
Pakistan portrays itself to the US and UN as a vital ally in the fight against terrorism—the Taliban. Since 2002, Pakistan has received about $1 billion a year under a U.S. program meant to reimburse it for costs incurred fighting militants near the Afghan border. This year, $1.1 billion.
Pakistan is one of the worst persecutors against religious minorities, particularly Christians. The internationally known case of Asia Bibi who maintains she was falsely charged with blasphemy, is currently awaiting an appeal for her death sentence. Her crime? Defiling a well by drinking from it and refusing to convert to Islam. Many Pakistani Muslim’s believe Christians are unclean due to their faith. Even being forced to drink from separate glasses deemed for infidels. The persecution against them can be fierce.
World watch monitor reports that 23 cases of Blasphemy have been unreported in Pakistan in the last 2 years and show’s the suffering and abuse these Christians face. They state: “Napoleon Qayyum, a Christian politician from the Pakistan People’s Party said that despite evidence, police in the Punjab province often protect Christians from communal violence, those who have been accused of blasphemy are usually forced to relocate, leaving their homes and families behind.” Those relocating are finding themselves held hostage by the host countries unable to provide for their family. (Read more)
“We want freedom!” This cry is heard from many Pakistani Christians who’ve fled extreme abuse. We hear over and over, “I had good job—was well off.” One lamented, “One day a Muslim took offense because I simply asked they use polite language instead of cursing in our presence, then everything changed.” He was then accused of desecrating the Quran on a trumped up charge, simply for demanding they respect and not curse. When a court ruled him innocent, mobs formed and multiple lives were lost, but his was saved. That day changed his life and that of his family forever. It ruined his livelihood, caused so much devastation and suffering for many. This family fled leaving behind shredded dreams, and a life that is only now a distant memory. Forced to live in hiding, squalor and begging for food.
Often, Blasphemy charges are wrongfully used against them.
They drink from wells that Muslim’s own, and they are attacked for contaminating their water by from drinking from it. Mobs often form, wielding axes, rifles, sticks and stones. Christians are beaten, burned alive, dragged naked through streets, and left for dead. The police rarely interfere and often release the perpetrators with no penalties or accountability. This is not a single incident, it’s widespread and growing. Pakistan’s government is based on religion. A religion, government, justice system and economic system all rolled into one. It’s called Sharia. The religious political party has great influence and seems to supercede any other form of Government. Christians are not instigating violence, rioting, burning or pillaging. They’re conducting business, worship and education and trying to live peaceful lives, just as we are here. But one day hear, “Stop talking about Christ and convert to Islam or be killed.” …their nightmare it begins.
In the last couple of days, the Pakistani Army has started warning Christians, churches and other Christian institutions in Pakistan presumably on the basis of intelligence, that ISIS is likely to start attacks. that they are likely to face a wave of attacks from ISIS soon. Read More
Another Pakistani Christian who also had a good job, was fired for his continued belief and sharing the Gospel. He was involved with a mission to reach out to Christians less fortunate and educate them in the Gospel of Christ. He led a Youth Ministry so they would know Christ, the Bible and Christian moral values. He was beaten, told to stop witnessing, convert to Islam or die. His family members also became targets for his Christian activities, which is a common practice by hardliners. These hardliners influenced his employer and he was fired from his job. Prior to the persecution, he’d was a valued employee and excelled at his job for years. He too was forced to leave the country.
They repeat, “We’re not beggars, we’re educated, hard working people. Why have they done this to us? We want to work and live in peace, we just want Freedom!
How can the church of Christ allow their suffering to continue? Why aren’t we doing more to care for our own? Why do we turn our heads and expect secular governments and organization to come to their rescue? As the church in Germany during the Holocaust, why do we turn up the worship music, so we can’t hear their cries? Not enough churches, or brethren are stepping up for the wounded in the Body. They need our help, our voice.
Yes, we are commissioned to spread the Gospel, and we wholeheartedly encourage that mission, but when we turn a blind eye to genocide and suffering of our own brethren, God is not pleased. In fact we are warned about this in Matthew 25.
Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Many of those who’ve fled have families left behind. Families that are living in fear that if they are discovered, they will be killed. Many have left parents, children and wives behind while their asylum cases are put on hold for years. Knowing they continue to be abuse and live in fear causes more pain and sorrow. Or astronomical amounts of money is demanded to show they can be cared for. As in this country, illegals have poured across our border by the millions and are immediately given housing, welfare, medical and free education. One person witnessed a call where a Muslim woman said to the person other end, “Yes, if you come here to have your baby, it will all be paid for.”
While Christian asylees in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are treated as sub human, ashamed and having to beg for housing, and food from whomever will hear them. Well, I too will beg for them, their support and their human rights.
They tell us some groups sensationalize their stories, even making money from their reports and in so doing feed off the backs of the persecuted and even putting them in danger for mentioning their names and locations. They make promises, but they see little to no help. This is appalling and it’s appalling to them.
We are the church, we are the body of Christ, and we are failing our brethren miserably. We are failing to care for own. Even failing to pray! Recently an advocate asked a pastor if his church prayed for the persecuted. His reply, “We’re not led in that direction.” We’ve also heard, “it’s not an easy topic to discuss, they may run for the hills.” Having a heart for the persecuted, we can’t help but feel this is blatantly ignoring the commands of Jesus to care for one another.
In conversations with Christians, it’s shocking how many don’t know that Christians are being persecuted in these times, even with all the media coverage. Often, they ask many questions and want to know more. We ask if they would like to hear more about these cases from their pastors and pray together for them. They always say YES!
Please, start a conversation, ask your church why they are not covering persecution and attempting to aid our brethren. Many churches have wonderful mission for the communities—food shelves, thrift stores and other programs. But why not once a month donating pocket change to help our brethren in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria and around the globe? Why not engage with them in letters, on facebook, or any form of social media. This is their life line. Why not, speak out for them, why not encourage them, why not pray for them? Why not indeed. I’m begging you to help in whatever way you can. God will lay on your heart what you can do. Not everyone has money, but you have time, you have words, you can speak. Beg for them, pray for them, encourage others to pray with you. Demand that our politicians recognize the Christian genocide and help those seeking FREEDOM! God will bless you for taking up this cause.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
- For protection, strength, courage and God’s favour for Pakistani Christians
- That God will thwart any plans of ISIS to wage terror against Christians or other minorities
- The army will fully protect Christians and other minorities from attacks
- UK and other western nations will finally wake up and realise that Pak-Christians desperately need their protection and asylum
Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also mail your gift to:
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P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
(Morning Star News) – Three men beat and raped a 19-year-old Catholic woman in Uganda last week, sources said.
The student at St. Mary’s Teachers College in Bukedea, in the district of the same name about 50 miles from Mbale in Eastern Uganda, said she was returning from class on Sept. 9 when she was ambushed by three masked men who indicated they knew that her parents had left Islam.
“I tried to scream, but one blocked my mouth and another slapped me as they forcefully dragged me off the footpath,” said the woman, whose name is withheld. “I heard one of them telling the others that I should be killed because my parents deserted Islam. But another said, ‘But we are not sure whether this girl is a Christian.’”
Instead of killing her, they raped and beat her so severely that she is still receiving hospital treatment for her injuries, sources said.
“Her father called me over the phone and informed me what had happened to his daughter,” a Christian leader said. “I then met him at their home and prayed with the family, as the daughter is still in the hospital.”
The men attacked her seven miles outside of Mbale on Kumi Road and dragged her about 100 meters off the footpath, she said. After beating her until she was unconscious, they left her to die near a swamp.
Area resident James Kalanga found her early the next morning, Sept. 10.
“Just before connecting to the paved road, I saw a piece of school uniform on top of the trees,” Kalanga said. “I was a bit suspicious, then I saw some marks of human footprints and moved closer. Then I heard the sound of a person from the bush. I got scared and returned back, but good enough I met two men who were traveling on the same route and told them what I had seen.”
The three men went back into the wilderness and found her half-naked and groaning in pain, still unable to speak, he said.
Nearby they found her school backpack; they opened it and discovered her name and school, he said. They took her to a medical clinic and reported the matter to the school.
The school informed her parents, who went to the clinic and then took her to a hospital for treatment.
The family left Islam five years ago and joined Bulefe Catholic Church.
Threat to Take Children
In an undisclosed village in Budaka District, also in eastern Uganda, a 36-year-old mother of eight requested prayer after area Muslims forced her to return to Islam, she said.
Madina (full name withheld) said she maintained her faith in Christ in spite of her husband leaving her 10 years ago because she became a Christian, but that she returned to Islam this month after her former in-laws threatened her.
“The relatives of my husband threatened to kill me and take away the children if I refused to go back to Islam,” she said. “They said, ‘We are not going to lose our children to Christianity. We better kill you and get back the children.’”
Madina told Morning Star News she is spiritually troubled from returning to Islam, and she asked for prayer that God would supernaturally restore her to Christ.
“The family of my husband had cut all ties with me when they discovered that I joined Christianity, but this was not much of a problem to me as compared with the death threats that they have issued,” she said.
A Muslim relative had allowed her family to stay with them after her husband divorced her, and the relative had also provided medicine and funds for her children’s education, “but now he has joined the rest of the family members in issuing death threats to us,” she said. “I have nowhere to go with my children, so I have decided to return to Islam to save the children and myself. I know Issa [Jesus] will remember me one day.”
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Last month, six church committee members from Kilto, Ethiopia, were found guilty of destroying the public’s trust in government officials and spreading hatred.
According to Barnabas Aid, the six had dared to write a letter to their church leadership describing the persecution they have endured as Christians living in the Muslim-majority Silte zone. The letter was later leaked to local media and then went viral.
As a result, government officials sentenced church committee leader Yemariam Worke to eight years and eight months in prison and the other five members of the committee to five years and six months each. They were all then transferred to a prison in Worabe, the capital of Silte zone.
In the letter, the six had complained of discrimination in employment, the destruction of their church buildings, physical attacks and even death threats.
Ethnic Silte people voted to create a separate zone in a referendum in 2001.
(Morning Star News) – An attack on a prayer meeting in Jharkhand state that sent six people to the hospital on Sept. 4 began when Hindu women entered the home where it was held and began insulting Christians, sources said.
By the end of the day, Hindu extremists with guns, axes, spades and clubs had broken bones of Christians of Anugrah (Grace) Church in Hututag village, Palamu District and beaten women unconscious before threatening to finish them off if they continued worshiping Christ, a local pastor said.
About 30 people from the church had gathered at the house of Mukh Dev for a Friday prayer meeting when some women entered and began verbally abusing Pastor Sarvajit Bharti and others, the Rev. Akash Nandi told Morning Star News.
“Thereafter, two men entered and asked the pastor and the others to go outside, but the Christians refused to go,” he said.
Shouting insults, the Hindu extremists then took Pastor Bharti’s motorbike key, damaged the vehicle and dragged out associate pastor Mitilesh Kumar. They asked Kumar whether he would stop worshipping Jesus and instead worship Hindu idols, Pastor Nandi said.
“Mitilesh replied that they are not doing anything wrong in worshipping Christ, and that they will not stop,” Pastor Nandi said.
Later, some 15 furious Hindu extremists armed with guns, axes, spades and clubs broke into the prayer meeting, but by then members had hidden Pastor Bharti on the roof. The assailants demanded to know his whereabouts. The Christians said he had gone to the police station.
“On hearing this, the extremists mercilessly beat up the Christians,” Pastor Nandi said. “Among the seriously injured, Munni Devi, 60, had both hands fractured, and they beat her up so severely that her whole body turned blue and black, and she fell unconscious.”
Another woman, 30-year-old Mani Matiya, loss consciousness after one of the assailants beat her head with a spade. Associate Pastor Kumar, 22, received a deep cut on his head and abrasions on his body, while 60-year-old Mukh Dev took an axe-blow to the head that left a deep gash.
Sarita Kumar, 18, sustained stomach wounds, and her 16-year-old brother, Pappu Kumar, had the skin at his stomach split. The other Christians also sustained bruises and cuts. At least six received treatment at Sadar Hospital, Pastor Bharti said.
“Four of them received treatment for 10 days, while the rest were given first aid and some medicines,” he said. “Since April of this year we have been pressured to choose between Christ and our lives, and we are constantly threatened to be chased out from the village if we do not denounce Christ.”
As the village head backs the Hindu extremist actions, it has been difficult to hold worship meetings, and the Christians have been forbidden from walking on the main road and getting water from the main pump, Pastor Bharti said.
The pastor had to relocate from the village this year after Hindu extremists chased him out during a midnight raid in July, he said.
In West Singbhum District, on Wednesday (Sept. 9) a massive throng of people opposed to Christianity from various villages amassed to insult and threaten to kill Christians in Sagarkatta village, sources said.
Among the Ho tribal villagers near Chaibasa, seven Christian families from the Pentecostal Holiness Church were socially boycotted and threatened with death if they continued to follow Jesus, Pastor Nandi told Morning Star News.
“One baptized widow out of intense fear and pressure decided to return to Hinduism, and two men who started attending church services also promised not to take part in any of the Christian meetings again,” he said.
Officials prohibited the Christians from walking on the main road and from fetching water from the village well, he said. They also threatened to cancel the Christians’ tribal certificates, necessary for obtaining certain benefits, and told them their lands and goods would be seized if they did not renounce Christ.
Hostilities against the Christians broke out in different villages in the state in July. Area church leader Rampath Nayak told Morning Star News that a group was formed that identified villages where there were few Christians, called public meetings in those areas and filled villagers’ minds with malicious lies about Christianity.
The Hindu extremists in August called for public meetings in which they publicly humiliated Christians for their faith, forced them to renounce Christ and subjected them to local ordinances calling for them to be socially boycott from the Ho community.
The first Christian in Sagarkatta village, a man who goes by the single name of Buthram, began to lead worship services at his home earlier this year, and many started to attend, Pastor Nandi said. Opposition from villagers culminated in June, when Hindu extremists gave poison to his two sons, ages 10 and 12.
“The local Hindu extremists called the two boys and offered them jackfruit, and immediately after eating, the two boys died,” he said. “The boys were rushed to the area government hospital, where the doctor declared that the boys died of food poisoning and even asked Buthram whether he wanted to submit a police complaint. For lack of any support legal or otherwise, Buthram did not file any police complaint.”
In Lupungi Messasai, a neighboring village 19 miles away, villagers incited by Hindu extremists in late August harassed four Christian families, accused them of leaving their traditional faith and socially boycotted them, Pastor Nayak said.
“The believers in this village could not go anywhere, as they are restricted from walking on the road and taking water from the public pump, and the children were banned from the school,” Pastor Nayak said. “They were not allowed to take care of their herds of cattle, and the extremists threatened to kill and take hold of all their possession if they did not denounce Christ.”
In Bichaburu village, less than 10 miles from Sagarkatta, 31 Christian families from the Pentecostal Church of God were summoned to a public meeting in August, Pastor Nayak said. The Christians were told that some village issues would be discussed, but when they arrived, Hindu extremists began reviling them, accusing them of betraying their traditional faith and threatening to kill them if they did not return to Hinduism, he said.
In Masessai and Sagarkatta villages, Hindu extremists have continued to threaten the Christians.
“The situation is tense, as the extremists are boldly pursuing the Christians and threaten to burn them if they do not leave Christ,” Pastor Nandi said. “It is especially hard for the children, with no proper water to drink as the Christians are restricted from taking water from the well.”
Convert from Islam flees Darfur after trying to exercise right to free speech.
(Morning Star News) – A Sudanese father of two who once worked as a human rights defender now lives in a refugee camp after surviving an attempt on his life by Islamic extremists.
Before Ibrahim Ismaeil Ibrahim, 34, left Islam and dared to criticize the religion, he worked as a writer and human rights defender in Darfur Region’s state of West Darfur for the Sudan Contemporary Center for Studies and Development. As he chronicled human rights violations by Islamic extremists, he became disillusioned with the religion and put his faith in Jesus Christ, he said.
“I defected from Islam and started writing articles through my [pseudonymous] page on Facebook, in which I described Islam as a religion of terror and killing,” he said. “Then some people discovered my identity and sent me messages of intimidation on my phone that they were looking for my head. Suddenly, I was attacked.”
At his home in the West Darfur capital of Geneina in January 2013, Ibrahim, his wife and two young children were unhurt in the late-night attack by what he believes was one of the Islamic extremists threatening him.
“An unknown Islamic extremist broke into my house at midnight and opened fire on my room,” Ibrahim told Morning Star News. “I managed to flee Geneina.”
His employer contacted Front Line Defenders, an organization dedicated to assisting human rights defenders, especially those in danger; the group provided him funds for an airline ticket to Cairo, Egypt from Khartoum and accommodation for three months, he said.
From Cairo he moved to Kampala, Uganda, and eventually he went to South Sudan. There he learned from his family in Geneina that the threat to their lives was growing stronger, and he made arrangements for them to flee to Chad.
Ibrahim also learned that, with help from the government of Sudan, he was being monitored by Muslim extremists connected to those who had planned to assassinate him. He had left his ID card when he fled Geneina, and the assailants had provided it to a Sudanese government security agent, he said.
He rejoined his wife, 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in Chad. Eventually the reunited family traveled to another country in Africa, undisclosed for security reasons, where they live as refugees at a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees camp.
“Ibrahim, a brave young father, and his family have been through a hard time and suffering as they become refugees away from home because of persecution by the Muslim government of Khartoum through Muslim extremists,” a Christian source told Morning Star News.
The source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, added that the Christian family is an inspiration to other refugees from Darfur, where thousands of civilians have been killed amid conflict between Arab militias battling non-Arab rebels.
“I believe the Lord will work through Ibrahim and his family, and that they will be a blessing to many of their communities and families who live with them from Darfur,” the Christian source said. “Many of our Sudanese brothers and sisters who have been victims of war and religious persecution are desperately in need of the mercy of the Father through Jesus Christ, because all that they have seen is complete agony and devastation in the Muslim world.”
Following South Sudan’s split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, the government in late 2012 began ridding the country of Christianity. It has bulldozed several church buildings, closed othersand deported South Sudanese who have live most if not all of their lives in Sudan, as well as many foreigners. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.
On June 30 bulldozers demolished the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Thiba Al Hamyida area of North Khartoum as church members watched, with security personnel threatening to arrest them if they tried to block their efforts, church members said. On Feb. 17, bulldozers accompanied by local police and security personnel destroyed the Sudanese Church of Christ building in the Ombada area of Omdurman, across the River Nile from Khartoum, without any advance notice.
Officials gave no reason for the demolition except that, as it was located in a “Muslim area,” the 300-member church was not wanted there, a church member said. Another source, a church leader, confirmed to Morning Star News that authorities destroyed the building and confiscated the land without warning. The orders came from the Ombada locality, or city council, sources said.
Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians (see Morning Star News).
Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and in April 2013, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the country remain on the list.
Ibrahim, the source said, deeply loves Sudan and has supported those oppressed under the regime of Bashir, especially Christians who have been tortured.
“He has dedicated himself to bringing awareness to the free world to get engaged in their plight,” he said. “Let us all keep praying for Ibrahim’s family, that their situation will get better.”