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Being a Christian has never been easy. It has brought suffering, pain and persecution for those who stand firm in their faith. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18. Despite the challenges and hurdles, Christianity has grown over the centuries and the Bible holds wonderful promises for the ones who are suffering; “Blessed are those who are persecuted.” Matthew 5:11
(Voice of the Persecuted) Pakistan is a nation which persecutes Christians and is known as the 4th most dangerous country to be a Christian. The blasphemy law is used as a tool to settle personal vendettas against Pakistani Christians. It’s a place where Christians can be lynched publicly upon false religious allegations. Thousands of minority girls are kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. Christians in Pakistan live in fear, many afraid to even speak with Muslims about their faith.
Thailand, a popular tourist hot spot, has been one of the major destinations for Christians fleeing persecution in Pakistan. But they fled to Thailand without the full knowledge of the dangers that lie ahead. Thailand, not being a signatory of the UN refugee rights convention, regularly arrests asylum seekers and refugees. The nation considers them to be illegal migrants despite them having UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) documents. Hundreds are in the notorious Immigration Detention Center and have been living in a deplorable situation for several years. The Immigration Detention Center is designed to hold about 50 detainees at a time. Presently, there are close to 200 people which leads to lack of space, sanitation and serious health concerns. They are at risk of contracting highly infectious diseases such as, tuberculosis, skin infections, among other air/water borne illnesses. They’re malnourished due to a diet of nothing more than rice and cucumber soup. Please pray for them to remain steadfast in holding onto their faith.
“Faith in Christ plays an important role in the life of a persecuted Christian”
Many have been wondering if they could endure the atrocities our brothers and sisters suffer in restricted nations. Christian Malik, our Thailand representative, knows the hardships of persecution very well. He recently shared about the role faith plays in his life and that of other Christian refugees. Last month, during Q&A on our November prayer conference call event, one of the participants asked what advice he had for those in the west when persecution comes knocking at our door. He told us,
“Faith is all that is keeping us alive. In Thailand, every second holds an uncertainty about the future. One second, we might be free, the next second we might be behind bars. Under such circumstances, we pray and ask God for his mighty intervention in our lives and to keep us protected from all harm and danger. We are not allowed to work here which means we are unsure about securing food and other necessities for our daily needs, but our Father in Heaven is mighty and has great promises for us.
Matthew 7:11 mentions, ‘If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ Amen. Our Father in Heaven is indeed merciful and gracious. He provides for us from His riches. The bible states, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ When we are need, we ask God, we seek, and we find it. We knock at the door and it is opened for us. There has never been a time when God denied, He provides for us according to His time.
Faith in Christ makes things possible, not easy. We know the journey will be hard, but we have surety from God that it would be possible. In the dictionary of Faith, the word impossible doesn’t exist. Our God is a living God and He never leaves us alone. The suffering in Thailand has brought us closer to God and our lives here have become a living sacrifice.”
Persecution always results in the dispersion of believers and the spread of Christianity. Persecution will grow the Church in the 21st century as well. “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.” (Acts 11:19).”
This Christmas, let’s stand strong with our brothers and sisters and uphold them in our prayers. Let us also bless them with their needs as faith without deeds is incomplete. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2: 15-17
VOP is on the ground in Thailand. This Christmas, join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus. We’re planning an outreach for a large number of asylum seekers and refugees in Bangkok. We have only 4 days left to deliver Christmas relief packages, much needed supplies and nutrition to those suffering in the notorious IDC, Immigration Detention Center.
Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds to complete this Christmas mission. If you feel led to help, please consider our mission and donate, today. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share the joy of Christmas with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. God bless you and your families. May your Christmas be filled with much joy as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Savior.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Together with your generous help, 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.
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to 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 send your gift to:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
Donations always desperately needed
The Chaldean Church in Kirkuk announced on Tuesday, December 17 that about 6 Christian families leave Iraq every day, criticizing foreign consulates and embassies for easily giving visas to these families. The Church also revealed that a successor to Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako I has been nominated awaiting the Vatican Pope’s approval.
“Emptying the Middle East [of] Christians is a great loss. Their presence, competence and liberality are vital to the society and the Muslim majority appreciates that”, said church priest Stephan Banan in a statement to Alsumaria. He also highlighted that: “approximately 6 Christian families leave Iraq daily due to a comprehensive strategy adopted to help Christians flee by giving them visas to foreign countries”.
“Some Christians leave Iraq in fear of being targeted after hearing threats”, clarified the Church’s communiqué, asking “why do Christians leave the secure areas such as the northern parts of Iraq after tens of villages were built for them?” “The Chaldean Church also agreed to name a priest to head the Chaldean Church in Kirkuk after its current Sheppard, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako I was elected head of the Chaldean Church in Iraq and the world”, clarified the press release. It pointed out that “the name of the successor will be announced as soon as we receive the Vatican’s approval and an official ceremony will be held”.
On October 15th, 2013, Patriarch Sako called upon Iraqi Christians who migrated to return to their home country warning against an unknown future. He confirmed that if Christians were to return, they would become the second largest religious group and the third largest ethnicity in Iraq.
IRAQ- Number 3 on the World Watch List
Iraq In the past 10 years since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq in 2003, the Christian population has been decimated from approximately 1.3 million to less than 300,000, as believers have been killed or fled the country.
The United Nations have stated that May 2013 saw the worst devastation in the last six years, as Sunni and Shiite groups target one another and Christians, as well. Due to the constant violence and bombings, the capital of Baghdad was recently put into lockdown for an entire week, say church leaders there.
“It was impossible for us to get out and check on our congregation members and for them to get to church,” explained one.
While much of the violence is general, it is clear some attacks are aimed at individual Christians. A Christian in Mosul was the target of two attacks in one week in March – after the first bomb exploded in his house on a Wednesday, a second one was thrown over his fence the following Sunday. Fortunately, the second bomb, wrapped in a black bag and a women’s t-shirt, was deactivated by a military engineering team.
Louis Raphael Sako, the newly elected Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Iraq and Syria, says he is fearful what the future will hold for believers in the region.
“We must stay,” he affirms. “This is our history. This is our patrimony. When we leave everything will leave with us.”
Pray for the Church as it tries to ‘regroup’ after having seen so many Christian leaders and Christians leave for the West.
Pray that the Church will show the way forward and communities will be changed by their loving example.
Please pray for the safety of church leaders and their congregations as they travel to and from church activities and go about their daily lives.
Pray for positive change and peace in the nation of Iraq
Christians in Iraq are are caught in the middle of the Islamic sunni – shia war. They have been abandoned by the west and President Obama has totally neglected their plight after withdrawing troops from the Iraqi War.
We need to stand with them in prayer. The needs of our brothers and sisters in Iraq are great and ongoing. Take a stand on any Sunday this June as we continue to support them!
Iraq has a long Christian heritage dating back to the first century AD, making it one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. But today, Christianity in Iraq is under serious threat.
While the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 may have been a victory for coalition forces, ongoing changes in leadership have been a disaster for Iraqi Christians. Constant threats, terrorist attacks, families being forced to leave their homes and communities with no protection, and a recent spate of kidnappings have all been aimed at demoralizing the already dwindling Christian population. Life has become unbearable.
In 2003, there were more than one million Christians in Iraq. A decade later, only a third of this number remain. This situation is an absolute tragedy for the international Christian community. But the saddest part of all is that most western Christians have no idea this issue exists.
Take action today to Stand Up for Iraqi Christians.
Open Doors invites you to choose any Sunday in June and say ‘enough is enough’. You can support our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq by:
1. PRAYING- specifically for what is happening in Iraq, trusting that God would strengthen the believers there.
2. GIVING- to support placement of Christians who have had to flee their homes and livelihoods because of threats to their lives and families.
3. WRITING- to the Iraqi Ambassador in Australia who gives millions of dollars in aid to Iraq to encourage them to act. We want them to ensure there are better safeguards in place for Christians who want to stay and be a witness in Iraq.
1 Corinthians tells us:
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” We as Christians have a moral responsibility to speak out against injustice.”
Dhimmitude comes to Syria
The following report comes from Martin Janssen in Amman, Jordan (originally in Dutch). The preceding notes and translation from Dutch into English are by Dr. Mark Durie,an Anglican vicar in Melbourne, Australia, author of The Third Choice, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle Eastern Forum.
In his report Janssen tells of his experience of a prayer walk in Amman, held on May 21 2013 for the two abducted Syrian clergy, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. These Archbishops have been captured by Syrian rebels.
After the prayer walk Janssen had the opportunity to meet with Syrian Christian refugees, who told him how they came to flee their homes and villages. Their village was occupied by rebel forces, who proceeded to announce that they were now under an Islamic emirate, and were subject to sharia law.
The Christian residents were offered four choices:
1. renounce the ‘idolatry’ of Christianity and convert to Islam;
2. pay a heavy tribute to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith (this tribute is known as jizya);
3. be killed;
4. flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.
Some Christians were killed, some fled, some tried to pay the jizya and found it too heavy a burden to bear after the rebels kept increasing the amount they had to pay, and some were unable to flee or pay, so they converted to Islam to save themselves.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
The scenario reported by Syrian refugees is a re-enactment of the historic fate of Christians across the Middle East. The Muslim historian Al-Tabari reported that when the Caliph ‘Umar conquered Syria, he gave the following command to his armies:
“Summon the [conquered] people to Allah; those who respond unto your call, accept it [their conversion to Islam] from them, but those who refuse must pay the jizya out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.”
Umar’s command was referencing Sura (chapter) 9 verse 29 of the Koran:
“Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the jizya readily, being brought low.”
This policy of subjugating Christians under the yoke of jizya taxation was also based upon the teaching of Muhammad who said:
“Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war …(jihad)
When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action.
If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm.
Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them ….
If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the jizya.
If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands.
If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
(Sahih Muslim. The Book of Jihad and Expedition. [Kitab al-Jihad wa’l-Siyar])
Classical Islamic law mandates that ‘People of the Book’ should be given three choices, however the Syrian rebels are augmenting this with the fourth option of allowing them to flee.
In Islamic law, Christians who accept to pay the jizya in order to keep their faith – and their head – are known as dhimmis.
For a full explanation of the Islamic doctrine of the three choices, including the psychological meaning of the jizya tribute, see The Third Choice especially Chapter 6: The Dhimma: Doctrine and History).
It is a matter of deep concern that European states and the US are assisting the Syrian rebels as they implement this Islamic ‘emirate’, which includes the restoration of the dhimma system by re-enacting the conditions of jihad conquest against Christians.
A conversation with Syrian refugees in Amman
By Martin Janssen
Last Tuesday, May 21 a prayer walk was held in the Jordanian capital Amman around nightfall. Its purpose was to inquire after the unknown fate of the two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped over a month ago. I had agreed with some members of the congregation where I always worship to take part and traveled there with them. During the journey I was brought into contact with a Syrian priest from Aleppo who after the journey introduced me to a group of Syrian Christian refugees. The priest suggested that we all spend the rest of the evening together so that as a correspondent from Europe and I could listen to the stories and testimonies of these Syrians.
Syrian refugees of all religious backgrounds – not just Christians – do not feel at ease in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. They get the very strong impression that they are not welcome and that the open hostility of the local population towards them is growing. In Jordan, for example, some parliamentarians have been calling on the government for months to expell all Syrian refugees from the country because they pose a security risk. The problem is that this accusation contains a kernel of truth. Our discussion group of 12 people included some Jordanian Christians. They reported that a few weeks early the Jordanian security services had managed to thwart an assassination attempt on Abdullah, the Jordanian monarch. This attack was planned and orchestrated by a sleeper cell of the Syrian, al-Qaida affiliated, Jabhat al-Nusra movement. It was precisely to escape such radical Islamic movements that Syrian Christians have fled to Jordan.
Those in the group were mostly from northern Syria. They came from Idlib, Aleppo and villages in the countryside between the two cities. Their testimony was unanimous. Many of these villages had a large Christian presence until a few years ago, but now Christians no longer lived there. Jamil, an elderly man, told the following story during which other attendees began to nod violently in agreement. They appeared to have experienced exactly the same things.
Jamil lived in a village near Idlib where 30 Christian families had always lived peacefully alongside some 200 Sunni families. That changed dramatically in the summer of 2012. One Friday trucks appeared in the village with heavily armed and bearded strangers who did not know anyone in the village. They began to drive through the village with a loud speaker broadcasting the message that their village was now part of an Islamic emirate and Muslim women were henceforth to dress in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Sharia. Christians were given four choices. They could convert to Islam and renounce their “idolatry”. If they refused they were allowed to remain on condition that they pay the jizya. This is a special tax that non-Muslims under Islamic law must pay for “protection”. For Christians who refused there remained two choices: they could leave behind all their property, or they would be slain. The word that was used for the latter in Arabic (dhabaha) refers to the ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals.
After Jamil had finished his story a gloomy silence descended. I asked him how the 30 Christian families in his village had perished since then. He replied that a number of families – including his own family – had initially opted to pay jizya. When the leader of the armed militia in their village, however, noticed that they were able to do this, the amount kept increasing in the following months. Like almost all other Christian families he eventually fled the village. His land and farm were lost. Some Christian families in his village who were unable to escape or pay the jizya converted to Islam. To his knowledge, there were no Christians killed in his village, but he had heard other stories from a neighboring village where only three Christian families survived. They were all murdered in the middle of the night.
Miryam, an Armenian middle-aged woman from Aleppo, made the biggest impression on me. A common thread running through all the stories from different places in northern Syria during this evening was the constant complaint that armed militias looted and plundered. From wheat, bread and diesel in the villages to the complete inventory of schools, businesses and factories in Aleppo. Factory owners who protested were executed without mercy. Miryam said acquaintances who fled to Turkey learned that members of these armed militias were selling this “war booty” at bargain basement prices in Turkey. Miryam looked at me thoughtfully and said something which remained constantly with me over the following days. She told me that she had learned last year that a human being has a tremendous ability to adapt to the most difficult conditions. They had to learn to live in Aleppo without water or food, and sometimes no electricity for days on end. They even had to learn to live with the sounds of explosives and gunfire that tore them from sleep at night.
However, what a man cannot live with is the constant terror that paralyzes him completely: the daily fear that the bus transporting children to their school would be targeted by a suicide attack; the psychological fear that comes over you on Sunday when you go to church knowing there are groups active in your neighborhood who consider it a religious duty to kill as many Christians as possible; and finally the situation that at night you do not dare to go to bed because you have received reports about acquaintances and relatives who were surprised by a rocket that crashed out of nowhere onto their property while they slept; or what can happen when you spend hours in a long line at one of the few bakeries that still make bread. Indeed Miryam told me that she never could have imagined that even the simplest of life’s activities had suddenly become dangerous.
At the end of the night I struggled inwardly with a question that I did not dare to express but which I finally found the courage to utter. What next? What did these Syrian refugees have to say about their own future and that of Christianity in Syria? Later I realized that in fact no one answered this question. The Armenian Miryam said she was thinking of emigrating with her family to Armenia, while Jamil talked about relatives who lived in Sweden. Perhaps their answer to my question lay hidden in these comments.
Just after midnight I drove home with the members of my church from Amman. Everyone was silent and seemed lost in thought. I was to be dropped off at the church. This church sits on a hill which was once almost always enchantingly lit, but I had noticed recently that this was no longer the case. While getting out of the car I asked about the reason and was told that “there were people who had taken offense”. I also saw three young men quasi-nonchalantly keeping watch at the church. When I asked if this was necessary, the short reply I got was “Yes.”
Coptic Christian latest target of blasphemy frenzy under Islamist-ruled Egypt
CAIRO (AP) – The pale, young Christian woman sat handcuffed in the courtroom, accused of insulting Islam while teaching history of religions to fourth-graders. A team of Islamist lawyers with long beards sang in unison, “All except the Prophet Muhammad.” The case against Dimyana Abdel-Nour in southern Egypt’s ancient city of Luxor began when parents of three of her pupils claimed that their children, aged 10, complained their teacher showed disgust when she spoke of Islam in class. According to the parents, Abdel-Nour, 24, told the children that Pope Shenouda, who led the Egyptian Coptic Church until his death last year, was better than the Prophet Muhammad. Blasphemy charges were not uncommon in Egypt under the now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but there has been a surge in such cases in recent months, according to rights activists. The trend is widely seen as a reflection of the growing power and confidence of Islamists, particularly the ultraconservative Salafis. “Salafis are the engineers of these stories,” said Abdel-Hamid Hassan, a Muslim and the head of the parents’ council at the primary school where Abdel-Nour teaches. Hassan’s daughter was among several students who denied any wrongdoing by Abdel-Nour. “If the pope himself came here from the Vatican and tried to spread Christianity among us, he would fail. We learn about our religion starting from the age of 5,” he said, alluding to the allegation against Abdel-Nour, since withdrawn, of “spreading Christianity.” Criminalizing blasphemy was enshrined in the country’s Islamist-backed constitution that was adopted in December. Writers, activists and even a famous television comedian have been accused of blasphemy since then. But Christians seem to be the favorite target of Islamist prosecutors. Their fragile cases — the main basis of the case against Abdel-Nour’s case the testimony of children — are greeted with sympathy from courtroom judges with their own religious bias or who fear the wrath of Islamists, according to activists. The result is a growing number of Egyptians, including many Christians, who have been convicted and sent to prison for blasphemy. In at least one celebrated case, the offense was clearly provocative: Seven Coptic Christians living in the United States received death sentences in absentia for producing an anti-Islam film that sparked waves of protests by ultraconservative Islamists in front of U.S. embassies across the Arab world on Sept. 11, 2012. But rights groups say the vast majority of blasphemy cases are merely attempts by Islamists to crack down on their opponents.
“Islamists are using the law to hunt down critics to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Christians are the weakest,” said Medhat Klada, a Switzerland-based Coptic Christian activist whose organization Copts United tracks such cases. “The numbers of Christians implicated is unprecedented,” he added.
Many believe that restrictions on freedoms are more severe under Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s first freely elected president, than during his predecessor’s 29-year reign. Under Mubarak, “you might have had 50 cases, which means a case or two a year on average, but now you have like 10 cases in a year,” said Mamdouh Nakhla, who leads The Word Group for Human Rights and focuses on Christian-related persecution. Freed Tuesday on nearly $3,000 bail after almost a week in detention, Abdel-Nour is due to stand trial on May 21. Her family refused several requests by The Associated Press to speak to her. Her father, Ebid Abdel-Nour, said:
“She is innocent. God be with us. She can’t talk because she is in very bad condition.”
Emil Nazeer, a Christian activist who visited her, says she is suffering a “nervous breakdown.” Rights advocates see cases like Abdel-Nour’s as politically motivated persecution. They say the verdicts tend to be harsher in southern Egypt, where Islamists are particularly powerful and Muslims are more conservative.
“Any move or word by a Christian is enough to get the rumor mill working,” said Amr Ezzat, a prominent researcher in Islamic groups at the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). “Rumors quickly spread in villages or the towns where the radar of Islamist activists detect them and turn them into a rallying cry under the pretext that Islam’s supremacy is endangered.”
Salafis advocate an uncompromising and literal interpretation of the Quran, believing society must mirror the way the prophet and his immediate successors ruled in the 7th century. Some Salafi-based political groups are at odds with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group from which Morsi hails, while others are avid supporters of his government. Part of the Salafis’ antagonism toward Christians is rooted in the belief that they were a protected group under Mubarak’s regime while they, the Salafis, were persecuted. Now empowered, they may be out to exact revenge on the Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people. The Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, led by former judge Naguib Gibrael, detects a trend in the number of lawsuits and court rulings leveled against Christians and school teachers in particular over the past year. Gibrael, a lawyer who is representing Abdul-Nour, says it’s his 18th case defending Christians — several of them teachers — detained over insulting Islam. He says his 17 other clients received three to six years in prison. They go to appeals courts, hoping for retrials or lighter sentences. Another rights group, the EIPR, said it chronicled at least 36 blasphemy cases in 2011 and 2012, including more than 10 convictions, and that Christian school teachers were frequent targets. “Teachers are an easy target,” said Gibrael. “Any two students can say anything about their teachers. Islamist teachers collect signatures, and quickly Islamists move a case, then terrorize the court by holding protests and besieging the court building until the judge issues a verdict. I have seen it all,” he said. In Cairo, public figures who have lately faced blasphemy accusations or trials like movie star Adel Imam were all cleared, thanks to media attention, lobbying by rights groups and heavy police presence. In rural areas, according to EIPR researcher Ishak Ibrahim, even those acquitted or otherwise cleared of blasphemy accusations face social or administrative punishment, with some forced by villagers to leave their homes, pay a fine or get demoted or suspended by their state employers. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood likes to project itself as a more moderate Islamist group when compared to the ultraconservative Salafis, but they still play a role in the blasphemy cases. The top Brotherhood leader in Luxor, Abdel-Hamid el-Senoussi, is a lawmaker and the head of the legal team representing the families whose children testified against Abdel-Nour. He acknowledged that two investigations by the school found no justification for the children’s claims, but said he does not trust those findings.
“They just want to avoid discord. But we prefer to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “Even if the court clears the teacher and rules that she is innocent, she must be fired from the school.” “There are people who want to mess up with the ship of the nation and this teacher is one of them,” he said.
For him, the penalty for contempt of religion is not harsh enough.
“I prefer 10 years imprisonment and, in case the judge clears the defendant, a fine that goes toward the upkeep of places of worship.” “Anyone who insults religions must be punished to deter further assaults,” he said.
This does not seems to be the case when Muslims attack Christians for worship of Christ, or burn the truth found in their Bibles.
Please pray for their hearts to be changed and they come to know the peace of Christ!
Copts United reports:
Imam at Morsi’s Friday prayers warns against ‘haters of Islam’
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi observed Friday prayers at Quds Mosque in New Cairo, the upscale suburb where he lives, listening to a sermon by the imam on ‘hypocrites and haters of Islam.’
A Copt has to pay 300.000 EGP or get his family killed!
Ezzat Ebrahim, human right activist, told Copts United that around 11 PM yesterday, two masked men opened fire on the house of a Coptic family in Mallawy. Later, they called, Fathy Hanna, the owner of the house, demanding 300.000 EGP, or they will kill his family.
Lands of Copts are seized in Luxor, police ignores
A number of armed gangs have seized lands of many Copts in Luxor, threatening to kill them if they try to get close. However police were reported the names of the assaulters, they just ignore the matter as if nothing has happened.
To improve its image before EU, JI offers to help the Copts
Building and Development party, the political arm of the Jamaa Islamya (JI) has taken an initiative to help the Copts calling for coexistence and tolerance. Later, Salafist source told Copts United that this initiative comes to improve the image of JI before the public opinion, especially before the European Union upon the visit of its First Counselor of political office to the party.
Rev. Refaat Fikri: Egypt Has No Political Will to Protect Copts
Source Rev. Refaat Fikri, head of the Media Center for the Evangelical Church in Egypt, said the problems facing Egyptian Christians have been going on since the 1970s and looks to continue as there is a lack of political will by the ruling regime to solve them. This came in response to the initiative launched on Wednesday by the Building and Development Party, the political arm of Gamaat Islamiyya under the title “A Unified Nation.” It aims to” strengthen the national fabric and maintain strong relations among all Muslim and Christian communities of the Egyptian society.” Rev. Fikri said the initiative by Gamaat Islamiyya and its party is only a courtship to foreign countries and a message to the United States and European countries that the group supports religious freedoms and human rights, reported Mideast Christian News. Fikri believes there is no serious intention to solve the problems of Copts because the crises have been recognized for decades and have been repeatedly discussed. The head of the Media Center said the dialogue must be a political dialogue among political parties and the church should not play a role.
Abu Islam Should Be Prosecuted for Threats Against Christians, Says Egyptian Lawyer
Abu Islam said that Muslims would be able to eliminate the country’s Christians in just two days in one of the episodes on his Al-Ummah Islamic channel. Sabri said in the complaint that there is a video clip, which activists have been sharing on social media sites, where I for all the sectarian violence, but are playing the victim’s role. He goes on to demand they stop “evangelizing Muslims.” Sabri emphasized that Abu Islam’s speech threatens state security while it calls for sectarian strife and terrorizes Coptic Egyptians. He also demanded that crimes committed by Abu Islam to be investigated and for legal action to be taken and refer him to criminal prosecution. Sheikh Abu Islam burned a Bible and called for people to urinate on it during a demonstration of Salafis and Islamic groups in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest the anti-Islam film, The Innocence of Muslims, last September. Abu Islam also mocked the Christian faith and Jesus Christ on Al-Ummah (The Nation) TV channel, which he owns. Abu Islam previously infamously claimed that girls who demonstrate in Tahrir Square are Christians who want to be harassed by protesters. This comes at a time when Coptic teacher Demiana Ebeid Abdel Nour, who was imprisoned for more than a week under accusations of insulting Islam, was released on bail today for 20,000 Egyptian pounds. The prosecution urged for her trial to start next week.
Christians Uneasy in Morsi’s Egypt
By STEPHEN GLAIN, CAIRO — Wasfi Amin Wassef used to buy and sell jewelry from his shop in Cairo’s vast Khan al-Khalili bazaar. Now he mostly buys it. Well into a third year of economic malaise following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, many ordinary Egyptians are selling their most cherished possessions, including heirloom jewelry, to raise cash for a ticket that will let them start a new life abroad. Official figures or estimates are not publicly available, but anecdotal evidence suggests emigration is rising. “The number of people who sell us their gold since the revolution has increased three times,” Mr. Wassef said during an interview this month. Some are Muslims but most are Christians, said Mr. Wassef, a member of Egypt’s ancient Coptic Orthodox Christian minority. Since the ouster of Mr. Mubarak in February 2011, a growing number of Copts, including some of the most successful businessmen, have left Egypt or are preparing to do so, fearing persecution by an Islamist-controlled government as much as the stagnant economy that is smothering their industries. Among the most prominent, the heads of the Sawiris family for several months recently ran their business empire from abroad, although senior members of the family returned to Egypt on May 3. “Every week I learn of 10 people who are leaving or who have already left,” Mr. Wassef said. “They know that what happened to the Sawiris’ can happen to them tomorrow.” Coptic Christians, who account for no more than 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, predate the Muslim conquest by six centuries and represent the last tile in a former mosaic of Egyptian religions, sects and ethnicities. Economically, Coptic business leaders have punched above their weight, dominating agriculture in the preindustrial age and in modern-era trade, finance and accounting. They have blended well into Egypt’s millennia-long tapestry of demographic change, which helps explain their resiliency. As Munir Fakhry Abdelnour, a prominent Copt who has worked in business, finance and politics, put it: “There is no Coptic quarter in Egypt.” Like other Arab leaders, Mr. Mubarak made a point of protecting minority groups to nurture loyal constituencies and patronage systems that he could leverage against his Islamist rivals. Though secular tension sometimes turned violent during his 30 years in power, it was generally contained by the state security apparatus. Since Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow, however, attacks on Copts and their institutions have been widely reported. In October 2011, for example, following the burning of a Coptic church in Upper Egypt, security forces clashed with Christian protesters: 28 people, mostly Copts, were killed. Last month, Muslim extremists laid siege to Egypt’s main Coptic Cathedral in Khusus, a small town north of Cairo. The assault, which according to witnesses and video footage the police did little to prevent, followed a funeral for five men who died days earlier in clashes with militants. Critics blame President Mohamed Morsi and his government for failing to quell the violence. In an editorial last month, the state-owned Al-Ahram Weekly called the killings at Khosous “a symptom of irresponsibility in high places, of indifference that can lead the state to the verge of collapse,” while the Copts’ spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II, accused Mr. Morsi of “delinquency” and “misjudgments.” Mr. Morsi, a longstanding member of the Muslim Brotherhood who resigned from the group before taking office, issued a statement of regret following the attacks that struck many observers as perfunctory. Last week, he pointedly sent a low-level functionary as his representative to the Easter Mass led by the pope. Mingled with the threat of physical violence is the fear among Coptic business leaders that they are being singled out for punitive enforcement of the tax code. Read More