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Just recently, we commemorated the fifth anniversary of the deaths of the 21 Coptic martyrs of Libya. These brave men refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, even unto death. The world looked on in horror as the hooded Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists recorded their crime against humanity in a scarring message to the “nation of the cross.” The incident validated that the genocide ISIS was committing against Christians was not limited to Iraq and Syria.
Boko Haram has killed more than 27,000 civilians in Nigeria. This is greater than the amount of civilians ISIS killed in Iraq and Syria combined.
The Global Terrorism Index states that Nigeria is the third most dangerous country after Afghanistan and Iraq. Open Doors estimates that more than 7,000 Nigerian Christians have been killed because of their faith over the last three years. The international mission to persecuted Christians estimates that 1,350 Christians were killed by Islamic militant groups in 2019. The Christian Association of Nigeria reports that 900 churches in northern Nigeria have been destroyed in their campaign.
Greg Stanton of Genocide Watch states that Boko Haram is committing a genocide against Christians and crimes against humanity against the wider population. In central Nigeria, Fulani militants are also committing ethnic cleansing and genocidal massacres against Christians. Stanton says that what is mistaken as a conflict between herders and farmers is actually “a genocidal war between ethnic groups that previously co-existed, ignited by Islamic extremists with modern weapons.”
In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 Christian schoolgirls, and people around the world took part in the #bringbackourgirls campaign. Although the hashtag is no longer trending, more than 100 of those girls remain missing, and the world has all but forgotten.
Two years ago, Boko Haram kidnapped more than100 girls and released all but one: Leah Sharibu.
Why have they kept Leah in captivity?
Leah, who is a Christian, was the only girl who refused to renounce her faith. She is now being held by the group as a “slave for life.” The situation on the ground has continued to worsen since her initial kidnapping.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) notes the group has killed those, including religious leaders, it considers to be “nonbelievers.” USCIRF notes they have committed civilian abductions, forced marriages, forced conversions, sexual abuse and torture. Furthermore, they have begun using women and children to commit suicide attacks. In addition to committing a genocide against Christians, they are also terrorizing Nigeria’s Muslim community. Boko Haram is believed to have committed twin suicide bombings at a mosque and market in the city of Mubi, which resulted in 27 deaths.
The Christian community is struggling to respond to this genocide. Open Doors, which ranks Nigeria as the 12th highest country of Christian persecution in the world, reports that Christians “who see their mothers and sisters raped and their fathers and brothers killed” would be unwise to fight back because Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen militias are not street gangs: They possess military-grade weaponry.
How have these groups come to obtain military-grade weaponry?
Strong evidence suggests that foreign powers have smuggled arms to these groups. A leaked recording in 2014 indicates that Turkey has previously used Turkish Airlines for weapons smuggling to Nigeria.
The Nigerian government must take action to ensure that it closes all smuggling routes and channels between foreign suppliers of weapons and the terrorist organizations and militias that operate within its borders.
These groups are not only armed; they have been committing increasingly disturbing attacks against Christians in recent months.
Shortly after Christmas, Boko Haram executed 11 Nigerian Christians, one of whom was shot and 10 of whom were beheaded, who had originally been kidnapped in Borno State.
On Jan. 8, Aid to the Church in Need announced the murder of a Catholic seminarian who had been kidnapped from Kaduna State. Also in January, the Islamic State’s official propaganda channel released a video of a child soldier, approximately 8 years old, executing Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a Christian college student. That same month also witnessed the martyrdom of evangelical Protestant minister Lawan Andimi, whose preaching of the Gospel in his own hostage video went viral.
The Register, to its credit, has called on the Nigerian government to take action. As the editors highlighted, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto has charged that the government has “created the conditions to make it possible for Boko Haram to behave the way they are behaving.”
Bishop Kukah is right. President Muhammed Buhari has been, at the very least, complicit in this genocide, and the international community must pressure him to either enact serious reforms to Nigeria’s security apparatus or resign.
He recently told Crux that that while the Nigerian population is almost evenly divided amongst Christians and Muslims, all of the federal security chiefs, including the office of national security adviser and the minister of defense, are Muslims.
On a similar note, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, told Catholic News Agency that there is a “lack of significant prosecution” of the Fulani herdsmen who attack Christians, especially in Nigeria’s north. He echoes Bishop Kukah by noting that almost all of the president’s advisers are from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group and are Muslims.
David Curry of Open Doors has warned the crimes Boko Haram and Funali militias are committing against Christians qualify as genocide because “[Y]ou have a group of people who are saying they’re going to eliminate Christians in the North; they’re largely pushing people out and or killing them.” He added that genocide is “rarely [called] genocide until it’s too late.”
Today, we are calling this genocide. We are also calling on the government of Nigeria, the government of the United States and the international community to do the same and take immediate action to stop it.
Posted by Frank Wolf and Toufic Baaklini on National Catholic Register
Frank Wolf is a former member of Congress from Virginia and the author of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. He now focuses exclusively on human rights and international religious freedom.
Toufic Baaklini is the president and chairman of the board of directors for In Defense of Christians.
VOP Note: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.
Voice of the Persecuted Asian correspondent update report—Pakistan is the fifth most difficult country to live as a Christian, yet millions thrive and worship their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. April has been a brutal month for Pakistani Christians. ISIS has been on spree of kill and run incidents in Quetta where Christians have been targeted and killed for their faith.
ISIS killings in Quetta
In the beginning of April, four Christians were targeted in the Pakistani city of Quetta, provincial capital of Balochistan province in Western Pakistan. Two men on motorcycle fired at a rickshaw carrying four family members. Three members of the family and the rickshaw driver were instantly killed but a child survived the attack and was quickly rushed to the hospital. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
While the community was still in shock, ISIS struck again on April 15th, 2018. Four men on motorcycles fired and killed two men in the neighborhood of Essa Nagri in Quetta. Three including two girls were injured and taken to the hospital.Asm Yaqoob, a 25 year old from Sialkot, was attacked on 17th April, 2018. Her Muslim suitor, Rizwan Gujjar wanted her to convert to Islam and marry him. Upon constant refusals, Rizwan Gujjar attacked her on April 17th throwing acid and dousing her in petrol and setting her alight. She was moved to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital with third degree burns which affected 90% of her body. After fighting for her life for over a week, she succumbed to her injuries on Monday, April 23rd. Her family not only suffers the heartbreak of her death, but now find themselves in financial hardship. Asm was the only bread winner in the family of 10.2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the food fight, I have finished the race, I have kept my faith. ”
Asma indeed lived according to this verse and kept her faith till the end.
Asma isn’t the only victim to this brutality. Every year about 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forcefully converted to Islam and unwillingly married to Muslim men.
“Violence against women and girls—including rape, murder through so-called honor killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage—remained routine. Pakistani human rights NGOs estimate that there are about 1,000 “honor killings” every year” —Human Rights Watch, 2017 report
Despite the reports, UNHCR continues to reject Pakistani Christians asylum seekers at an unprecedented rate stating that it’s safe for them to return in Pakistan. In the month of April, over 20 Pakistani Christian families have been refused and their files closed by the UNHCR in Thailand. It’s appalling that the UN believes their safety isn’t a concern in Pakistan.
May God open their eyes and give them passion to understand the plight of His people.
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Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim residents of Kasuwan Magani in northern Nigeria yesterday killed 12 Christians after an attempt to rescue two Christian teenage girls from Muslims who had kidnapped them and coerced them to convert, area residents told Morning Star News.
James Madaki, a 50-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), said another 20 Christians were injured, and that Muslims set homes and shops on fire in the predominantly Christian area of the town in Kaduna state, 31 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of the city of Kaduna.
“The names of those killed are not readily available to me at the moment, but I can confirm to you that they are Christians killed in the Christian area of the town,” Madaki told Morning Star News.
In comments corroborated by another area Christian, Madaki said two Christian teenage girls were abducted and forcefully converted to Islam two weeks ago, and that they were being held hostage in the house of the Muslim leader in Kasuwan Magani.
“The case was reported to the police, and the girls were not rescued, so some Christians decided to rescue the girls, but the Muslims in the town attacked them,” Madaki said. “The Muslims did not just attack the Christians that went to rescue the girls, but also went round town attacking Christians they sighted and burned houses belonging to Christians.”
Those killed and wounded belong to the ECWA, Baptist, Assemblies of God and Seventh-day Adventist churches, as well as Pentecostal churches in the town, he said.
“As I talk to you, 12 Christians have been killed and 20 others injured and are being been taken to hospitals in the city of Kaduna,” he said.
He said the violence broke out at about 10:30 a.m. following the attempt to rescue the girls.
Another resident of Kasuwan Magani, Omega Funom, corroborated Madaki’s account in a text message.
“The crisis here occurred because two Christian underage girls were kidnapped and forced to become Muslims by some Muslims in this town,” Funom said. “This is the practice by Muslims in Kaduna state. They abduct small Christian girls and force them to become Muslims, and when Christians reject this, they attack them to create the impression that there’s a religious crisis.”
He told Morning Star News that the sanctuary of Assemblies of God Church in the town was burned down yesterday during the attack on Christians.
“The Assembly of God Church was burnt down,” Funom wrote. “Muslims were armed with AK-47 guns as they attacked Christians. This is a Jihad by the Muslims.”
Nigerian press reports indicated, without citing sources, that the violence resulted from Christian and Muslim youths clashing over their girlfriends dating men of the other faith.
The area, which has seen several religious clashes, is a predominantly Christian community under political control of Muslims. Christians have been the victims of many unprovoked attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state.
The Rev. John Hayap, spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria Chapter, told Morning Star News he was saddened over attacks on Christians and forceful conversions of Christian girls by Muslim leaders.
“There have been such forceful conversion of teenage Christian girls by Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria, and the Nigerian government has not been able to put an end to this,” he said. “I feel very sad about such violence on Christians, but what more can we do than to pray and ask for God’s intervention. We”ll continue to preach peace and tolerance in our churches no matter the level of provocation from our Muslim neighbors.”
Mukhtar Aliyu, police spokesman for the Kaduna State Command, told Morning Star News only that there was a sectarian clash.
“Yes, there was crisis in Kasuwan Magani town today, and we are working towards restoring peace and order in the area,” he said yesterday (Feb. 26).
Samuel Aruwan, media aide to the Kaduna state governor, told Morning Star News that an effort was underway to assist the injured and the displaced from Kasuwan Magani.
“The State Emergency Management Agency has been directed to take inventory of damages and provide relief materials to victims with immediate effect,” he said.
In Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, a worship service was disrupted on Sunday (Feb. 25) when unidentified gunmen shot at worshippers, wounding a security guard.
The shooting at 10 a.m. into the building of the ECWA Good News Church in Durumi, near Garki, forced members of the congregation to scamper to safety and abandon the service, church member Stephen Markus, 35, told Morning Star News by phone.
“Rabo Danboyi, the security officer manning the entrance into our church, was shot and injured on the leg by the gunmen, and he’s currently being treated at the Federal Medical Centre here in Abuja,” Markus said. “When we heard gunshots and bullets hitting church walls, we all ran out in different directions. Some said the attackers were Boko Haram terrorists who attacked us but were resisted by our church’s security guards.”
After about 30 minutes, the pandemonium subsided, he said.
“Some of us who braved to return to the worship sanctuary learned that the shooting was done by some unknown gunmen,” Markus said.
The pastor and other church leaders could not be reached for comment. Daniel Kadzai, national president of the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), confirmed the attack by unknown gunmen in a text message to Morning Star News.
Police authorities in Abuja confirmed the church shooting but declined to give further details.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Morning Star News) – Adamu, 28, bears a scar on the back of his neck where two members of the Islamic extremist group Boko Harm tried to slaughter him.
A member of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Gwoza, Borno state in northeastern Nigeria, Adamu told Morning Star News that in April 2013 he was working on his bean farm in Musari village, in the Mungono area, when a member of the insurgent Boko Haram approached him.
“He told me to convert to Islam and join them in waging a jihad to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria,” said Adamu, whose surname is withheld for security reasons. “I told him that I will not renounce my Christian faith in order to embrace Islam. He left me there on my farm without saying anything again.”
Two days later, five other members of Boko Haram showed up. The insurgency is fighting to impose strict sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.
“They said their member told them that I refused to renounce being a Christian and wanted to know whether it is true that I refused to become a Muslim,” Adamu said, adding that he told them it was true. “They then told me that since I refused to recant, they would kill me.”
When he refused their order to lie down, they seized him and tied his hands and legs behind his back, he said.
“They pinned me down and told me they will make death painful and slow, as they are not prepared to waste their bullets on me,” he said. “They also said they would not give me the honor of slaughtering me by cutting my neck from the front, because that is the way they slaughter their rams.
“They forced me down on my stomach and then proceeded to slaughter me by cutting my neck from the back. I was bleeding and went blank as the knife cut through my neck. It was pains I cannot explain to you. After cutting my neck, they left me bleeding.”
Adamu lay there for days, he said, adding that his survival was miraculous; only later would he learn that the Boko Haram members had threatened to kill anyone in the village who helped him.
“It was only after I was taken to the hospital that I was told that the Boko Haram members who attacked me on the farm had gone to the village shortly after leaving me bleeding to death and had warned other Muslims that if any of them dares to rescue me, he would be killed,” he said. “They sternly warned other Muslims in Musari, ‘We have butchered an infidel there on his farm. Be warned that if any of you Muslims dares to assist him, he is also an infidel and we shall make sure that he too is killed.”
Though the villagers were afraid to rescue him, eventually a member of his church snuck onto the farm and found him alive, he said.
“He went back to the village and mobilized some of our church members who came to the farm and took me away,” Adamu said.
They took him to a Christian hospital in Cameroon.
“I was taken to Adventist Hospital, Koza, in Cameroon, and treated for three months before I was referred to this hospital here in Jos,” Adamu said. “The cut on my neck, doctors say, has affected some nerves and veins in my body, thereby making it difficult for me to move my limbs. Right now, I am still learning how to move my hands and legs.”
Adamu said that before the attack on his farm, Boko Harm destroyed his EYN church building in Musari, and all Christians there fled.
“As I talk to you, there are no more Christians in Musari village,” he said. “They attacked Christians and destroyed the church building where we worship. Our pastor and other Christians, about 120 of them, were forced to flee.”
Boko Haram and others killed 1,631 Christians in Nigeria for their faith in the first six months of 2014 – a figure that is 91 percent of the total Christians killed in the country in all of last year, according to advocacy group Jubilee Campaign. Last year 1,783 Nigerian Christians were killed for their faith, according to Jubilee Campaign. The increase in Christian deaths this year accompanies an increase in the total number of people killed during the period, mainly by Boko Haram – 4,099, which is 975 more than the total deaths from attacks by religious extremists for all of last year, 3,124, according to Jubilee.
While Boko Haram (translated as “Western education is a sin”) is the moniker residents of Maiduguri, Borno state gave the insurgents, the group calls itself the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal–Jihad, translated as “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.” The United States designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in November 2013.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.
Boko Haram violence has increased in number and force since 2009 after it developed ties with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). A 29-year-old Christian in Kauri, Borno state who felt the force of Boko Harm weaponry in December 2012 said he would invite his assailants to dine with him.
A married father of three children ages 7, 5 and 1, Ayuba (surname withheld) told Morning Star News he has forgiven the gunmen who shot him three times.
“Despite my ordeal at the hands of these Boko Haram gunmen, I want to assure you that I hold no grudges against them,” he said. “If I see any of them today, I will still welcome them to my house and feed them. Jesus Christ, our Lord, taught us to love those who hate us.”
Ayuba and his wife were working on their farm in the village of Mainari, on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno state, on Dec. 20, 2012, when he returned to his house to rest. He was surprised to find two motorcycles parked beside his house, he said.
“I parked my motorcycle outside the house too, and then went inside, and just then I heard movement outside the house,” he said.
He went out to find two armed Boko Haram members; they asked him his name. When he told them, they asked if it was true that he was a Christian. A member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), he responded that he was.
“From their utterances I knew that they must have gotten detailed information about me from our Muslim neighbors in Mainari village,” he said. “Having confirmed I was the person they were looking for, they told that my end had come. ‘You have refused to become a Muslim in spite of all pressure from our Muslim brothers here,’ one of them told me. ‘You have refused to renounce your faith in Jesus. So, we have no option than to kill you.’”
He then recalled that Muslims in Kauri twice had tried to convert him.
“I braced up and asked the gunmen why they want to kill me simply because I am a Christian, and the second among the two gunmen told me that, ‘You are an infidel, and we do not want to have infidels living among us here.’”
They demanded money and the keys to his motorbike. After forcefully taking the keys to his vehicle and removing 35,000 naira (US$212) from his pocket, they told him to lie down because they were going to shoot him, he said.
“Instead of obeying their instructions, I started praying,” he said. “They became angry because I was praying out loud and calling on the name of Jesus. They shoved me in an effort to force me down to the ground. Eventually they succeeded in forcing me to the ground, and then one of them ordered his colleague to shoot me.”
He heard a gunshot, and a bullet pierced his left hand, which he had used to cover his chest, he said. A second shot aimed at his stomach, which he was covering with his right hand. The bullet pierced his right hand.
“To the surprise of the gunmen, they found I was still alive and praying,” he said. “The gunman who gave the orders that I should be shot was angry that his colleague did not kill me in spite of two point-blank gunshots.”
The one who had given the orders angrily cocked his gun and shot at his forehead, he said.
“One experience I will not forget throughout my life is that the bullet from the third shot hit me on my forehead and bounced to hit me on my right shoulder, instead of penetrating through my skull,” he said. “To me, this is a miracle, as I cannot explain how three shots were fired at me at point-blank range, yet I was still alive.”
The two Boko Haram gunmen took him for dead as they rode away, he said.
“After about an hour, my wife returned to find me on the spot where I was shot,” he said. “I still could talk, but the state she saw me in was shocking to her, so she began to cry.”
He asked her to search for help, which did not arrive until five hours later. He had been shot at about 3 p.m., and a neighbor his wife found came to help him at 8 p.m., he said. He was taken first to Kauri, then to General Hospital in Konduga. Doctors treating him there advised that he be taken away lest the Boko Haram gunmen trace him and kill him at the hospital.
His wife and other relatives moved him to Adventist Hospital at Kozat, Cameroon, where he remained for three months before going to an undisclosed town.
Boko Haram has destroyed his COCIN church building in Kauri, he said, and all Christians there have fled.
“Some of our church members died in the attack by Boko Haram gunmen, while others were forced to flee to Cameroon, where they are now refugees,” he said. “I have been praying that these Boko Haram gunmen will eventually get to know Jesus, repent of their crimes against the church, and become the followers of Jesus.”
VOP Note: Remember Nigeria and the faithful in your prayers. Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate their suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Thank you for your support!
Religious Leaders : “We want concrete action to free kidnapped girls”; maybe some of them are in Central Africa
This from Fides is incredible. The world has indeed raised it’s voice demanding the return of innocent school girls. But what are they doing? There is no concrete plan, no concrete actions. The UN Security council say’s sanctions will work. They need a concrete plan of action, not mere sanctions. These rebels do not care about sanctions. In another report by Fides on the CAR, they say they are held prisoner there by rebels and this evil. We have reported before about the super highway of terror being built in Africa and the middle east. They say that freedom of speech is now limited, and attacks on Churches have continued. They say the Lord’s Resistance Army is indeed there along with the Anti-Balaka and Seleka (supported by mercenaries from Chad & Sudan) hoping to regain power. Boko Haram is also there, as there are witnesses who say they saw these girls in the night in North East CAR being loaded into an airplane! Who is financing and directing this? These rebels have obtained sophisticated weaponry as evidenced by the latest bombings, and now aircraft. Pray for these girls. Pray for guidance for the leaders to swiftly carry out rescue missions. These girls face unbelievable torture. One thing the media has not mentioned and that is these girls are Christian! And now Boko Haram is taunting and mocking more of the community by announcing that these girls have converted to Islam. This abomination must stop, the world leaders must be held accountable.
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) – Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja has called for “concrete action” to save the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. “We want concrete action to free the kidnapped girls”, said Cardinal John Onaiyekan , Archbishop of Abuja , in a statement to the Catholic News Agency. “It is still more baffling that our president seems to be impotent. We have to see concrete action. Up until now, we are hearing practically nothing concrete on the issue. I think almost every Nigerian is taken aback. We cannot explain what is happening” said the Cardinal.
Nearly 300 girls, were kidnapped on April 14 from their boarding school in Borno, Nigeria’s northeastern-most state, by members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram and this has sparked outrage across the world. Their fate is uncertain. According to some witnesses about fifty girls have been seen passing near Tiringoulou and Birao, two towns in the north-eastern Central African Republic. In the night between the 4th and 5th of May, it seems the girls were brought from Birao to Tiringoulou where they were taken on board an aircraft coming from Sudan.
In the last hours Boko Haram has released a video in which it announces the conversion to Islam of the female students abducted most of whom are of Christian faith. The leader of Boko Haram has demanded the release of members of the movement who are in Nigerian prisons in exchange for the release of the girls. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 12/05/2014)
Nuri Kino is a Sweden-based independent investigative reporter, filmmaker, author, Middle East and human-rights analyst. His report, titled ”The Camp,” which examined the construction of a massive refugee camp for Syrian Christians inside Turkey, appeared May 5 at World Watch Monitor.
Early this morning I received a phone call from Mary, a friend in Sweden who was born in Syria. She wanted me to check my Facebook account. A young Syrian woman, Nour, wanted to become friends with me. I accepted the request. A minute later, Nour wrote me her first message. She had pictures from Tabqa, a town that was totally emptied of Christian Assyrians. Nour also had the contact information of victims of fundamentalist Islam. They, the victims, want the world to know what has happened to them. A group of non-Syrian Mujahedeen drove them out of their homes.The message from the perpetrators was ”convert to Islam or leave”. I called one of the victims, and heard horrifying stories about religious and ethnic cleansing.
Christians in Syria are a vulnerable group. They comprise approximately 8 percent of the population. Tabqa used to be a modern city with cinemas, hairdressers, fashion boutiques and restaurants. Now it is driven by men in beards who no longer allow any of that.
An hour after my interview with that refugee, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared ”there must be accountability” on behalf of the victims of a chemical weapon attack. Considering all the evidence emerging from witnesses, from images, from human-rights groups and from medical information provided by Doctors Without Borders, Kerry said ”these all strongly indicate” that ”chemical weapsons were used in Syria,” and that they were fired by the Syrian government.
Doctors Without Borders didnt’ appreciate its medical reports being used as a justification for possible military action. It issued a statement stressing that only ”an independent investigation” can determine whether the hundreds of bodies arriving at hospitals Aug. 21 were killed by chemical weapons, and that the organization has not placed blame anywhere.
While I tuned in to YouTube to listen to Kerry’s speech again, an Assyrian refugee who has taken shelter in Lebanon called me. Ninos wanted to know whether I thought NATO will bomb Syria. His family remains in Syria. They fled from rebel-controlled Homs to regime-controlled suburbs. They feel safer in areas where the regime can protect them, where al-Nusra or other fundamentalist Islamists can’t persecute them. Ninos said he’s afraid that, if the U.S. and its allies enter the war, Christians will be suffer doubly, and that they will be bombed along with Alawites, a Muslim sect that 15 percent of Syrians, including President Bashar al-Assad, belong to.
At the end of his speech, Kerry declared the US must protect the most vulnerable. I wondered if he, and the American allies currently expressing outrage, have thought about Christians like Ninos, his family, and Nour. They have not killed a single soul. They definitely have not gassed anyone. And they are the most vulnerable Syrians of all.
Protesters carried banners stating: “Pakistan is a Living Hell for Hindus, Sikhs and Christians” near the Pakistan Consulate in New York City Wednesday in support of all the victims of religious bigotry, hate and intolerance in that notorious Islamic nation.
The demonstration was organized by the Indian American Intellectuals Forum in cooperation with Hindu Human Rights Watch, Justice for Hindus, the Human Rights Coalition against Radical Islam and other rights groups, according to the Pakistan Christian Post.
A memorandum expressing the groups’ outrage at the terrible treatment of religious minorities was submitted to the Consul General of Pakistan; it claimed that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were used to intimidate and harass religious minorities through false accusations.
Reminding the Consul General that his forefathers were Hindus before being forced to convert to Islam by Arabs, the memo stated that violence and terror are the hallmarks of uncivilized brutes.
Narain Kataria, organizer of the protest, said that minorities have been terrorized in Pakistan such that hundreds of Hindus who crossed into India earlier this year — under the pretense of visiting a religious festival — refused to return and instead petitioned the Indian government for political asylum.
Quoting from the U.S. Commission’s report on International Religious Freedom, Kataria said there were more than 200 reported incidents of sectarian violence in Pakistan, resulting in 1,800 injuries, including 700 deaths.
Tens of thousands Syriac Christians – members of the oldest Christian community in the world – have fled their ancestral provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasakah in northeastern Syria, residents have said.
“It breaks my heart to think how our long history is being uprooted,” said Ishow Goriye, the head of a Syriac Christian political Hasakah.
Mr Goriye, told The Daily Telegraph how, over the past two years he has watched as Christian families from Hasakah pack their possessions on the rooftops of their vehicles and flee their homes “with little plan to come back”.
Conflict in the area, desperate economic conditions, lawlessness, and persecution by rebel groups born from the perception that Christians support the regime, remain the main reasons for why Christian families are fleeing the area.
The growing presence of radical jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda, has also seen Christians targeted.
“It began as kidnapping for money, but then they started telling me I should worship Allah,” a male Christian resident of Hasakah who was kidnapped by jihadists said.
“I was with five others. We were tied and blindfolded and pushed down on our knees. One of the kidnappers leant so close to my face I could feel his breath. He hissed: ‘Why don’t you become a Muslim? Then you can be free’.”
Another Christian in Hasakah said he knew of “five forced conversions” in recent weeks.
Mr Goriye’s Christian ‘Syriac Union’ party has long been in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
While speaking to The Telegraph, its members were loath to criticize the opposition rebels, but many confessed that the situation had become “too bad” not to talk about it.
Hasakah and other towns in northeastern Syria have long been one of the main population centres for Christians, who make up approximately 10 per cent of the country’s population. Residents estimate that at least a third of Christians in northeastern Syria have fled, with few expecting to return.
One Hasakah resident who has now escaped the area said: “Rebels said we had to pay money for the revolution. My cousin is a farmer, and wanted to check on his land. I warned him he should take armed security but he refused. A group kidnapped him in the barn of his farm. We had to pay $60,000 [£52,000] for his release. They are milking the Christians”.
Though accused by some opposition groups of supporting Mr Assad, much of Syria’s Christian community has avoided “choosing sides” in the war, seeking self-preservation in neutrality.
But the strategy has left Christians defenceless in the face of sectarian attacks and the lawlessness that now define rebel-held areas. Last year, when government forces pulled out Hasakah province, leaving the terrain in the hands of Kurdish groups and Sunni opposition rebel, Christians became an easy target.
A Christian man calling himself Joseph and living in Hasakah said: “The only unprotected group are the Christians. The Arabs had arms coming from Saudi and Qatar, the Kurds had help from Kurdistan. We had no weapons at all.”
Local residents said many Christians had tried to join the rebellion against President Assad, but their efforts were marginalised early on by sectarian minded Sunni rebel groups.
Joseph added: “We are not with the regime. Many times the Islamists didn’t want us to join them in the demonstrations. We tried to participate but we were not given a role. It felt as though it was a strategy to force Christians out of the revolution“.
Bassam Ishak, a Christian member of the main opposition bloc the Syrian National Coalition, who comes from Hasakah, said he and his colleagues had tried “several times” to approach western officials asking for weapons for Christian groups to defend their areas.
“The West wants to arm the seculars or ‘West friendly’ people, well we, the Syriac Christians are those people. We want arms to protect our communities,” he said. “We spoke to western diplomats asking for help, and everyone ignored us”.