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PARIS (AP) CBN – An attacker armed with a knife killed three people inside a church Thursday in the Mediterranean city of Nice, prompting the government to raise its security alert status to the highest level and double the number of soldiers deployed in the country.
It was the third attack in two months in France that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher. It comes during a growing furor over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo – renewing vociferous debate in France and the Muslim world over the depictions that Muslims consider offensive but are protected by French free speech laws.
Other confrontations and attacks were reported Thursday in the southern French city of Avignon and in the Saudi city of Jiddah, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to the attack in Nice.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3,000 currently to 7,000. French churches have been ferociously attacked by extremists in recent years, and Thursday’s killings come ahead of the Roman Catholic All Saints’ holiday.
“He cried ‘Allah Akbar!’ over and over, even after he was injured,” said Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi, who said a woman and a man died inside the church, while a second woman fled to a nearby bar but was mortally wounded. “The meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”
The assailant in Nice was wounded by police and hospitalized after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica, less than a kilometer (half-mile) from the site in 2016 where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens of people.
Shots punctuated the air and witnesses screamed as police stationed at the grandiose doors to the church appeared to fire at the attacker inside, according to videos obtained by The Associated Press. Hours later, AP reporters at the scene saw emergency vehicles and police tape lining the wide Notre Dame Avenue leading toward the plaza in front of the basilica. For a time after the attack, sounds of explosions could be heard as sappers exploded suspicious objects.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the attack, the third one since a trial opened in September for people linked to the 2015 attacks at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket by gunmen who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. The trial is nearing its end, with a verdict planned for Nov. 13, the fifth anniversary of another series of deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.
Thursday’s attacker was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other assailants, said two police officials, who were not authorized to be publicly named.
“With the attack against (teacher) Samual Paty, it was freedom of speech that was targeted. With this attack in Nice, it is freedom of religion,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told lawmakers Thursday.
Earlier, the lower house of parliament suspended a debate on France’s new virus restrictions and held a moment of silence for the victims. Castex rushed from the hall to a crisis center overseeing the aftermath of the Nice attack and later returned to announce the alert level increase. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish the caricatures, arrived in Nice later in the day.
Muslims have held protests in several countries and called for a boycott of French goods in response to France’s stance on caricatures of Islam’s most revered prophet, whose birthday was marked in several countries Thursday. Soon before Thursday’s attack, supporters of religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam protested in Pakistan against Macron.
In Avignon on Thursday morning, an armed man was shot to death by police after he refused to drop his weapon and a flash-ball shot failed to stop him, one police official said. And a Saudi state-run news agency said a man stabbed a guard at the French consulate in Jiddah, wounding the guard before he was arrested.
Islamic State extremists had issued a video on Wednesday renewing calls for attacks against France.
Many groups and nations, however, issued their condolences Thursday, standing firmly with France.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith condemned the Nice attack and called on French Muslims to refrain from festivities this week marking the birth of Muhammad “as a sign of mourning and in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attack in Nice. “We stand in solidarity with the people of France against terror and violence,” the statement said.
Relations between Turkey and France hit a new low after Turkey’s president on Saturday accused Macron of Islamophobia over the caricatures and questioned his mental health, prompting Paris to recall its ambassador to Turkey for consultations.
The attack in Nice came less than two weeks after another assailant beheaded a French middle school teacher who showed the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a class on free speech. Those caricatures were published by Charlie Hebdo and cited by the men who gunned down the newspaper’s editorial meeting in 2015.
In September, a man who had sought asylum in France attacked bystanders outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices with a butcher knife.
French Roman Catholic sites have been ferociously and repeatedly targeted by extremists in recent years, including the killing of the Rev. Jaqcues Hamel, who had his throat slit while celebrating Mass in his Normandy church by Islamic militants and a plot to bomb Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, which also is believed to have recruited a man now on trial who plotted unsuccessfully to attack a church on the outskirts of Paris.
Nice’s 19th-century basilica Notre Dame de l’Assomption is the largest church in the city, but smaller and newer than the cathedral 1 mile (2 kilometers) away. The basilica’s twin neogothic towers, standing 70 yards (65 meters) high, are a landmark feature in the heart of the city.
What a tragedy. Praying for the firemen on the scene.
Below links from The Guardian Live news feed on the Cathedral
- French billionaire pledges €100m to rebuilding efforts
- The “worst has been avoided”, says Macron
- Fire started accidentally – preliminary investigation
- Two towers saved, but fireman seriously injured – reports
- Main structure “saved and preserved
- Macron arrives at the scene
- Next hour and a half is “crucial” says Paris fire department
See more updates here
VOP NOTE: France has had several weeks of escalating vandalism and arson attacks on churches. Compared to the 1st quarter of 2018, France has seen a 53% rise in anti-Christian acts during the 1st quarter of 2019. Please keep France in your prayers.
(Voice of the Persecuted) France—Father Jacques Hamel, (age 85), was a French Catholic priest in the parish of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in the Normandy region in northern France. Local media reported that he still officiated regularly as an auxiliary priest at the church in St Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, and in neighbouring Elbeuf where he would step in when the parish priest was not available.
While leading the service in the absence of the parish priest on Tuesday morning, two Islamic jihadists entered the church and took Father Hamel, two nuns and two worshipers hostage. But they targeted the elderly priest and slit his throat.
Sister Danielle, one of the hostages, was in the church celebrating mass when the men stormed the building. She described the brutality of the attackers.
“‘They told me, “you Christians, you kill us”. They forced him to his knees. He wanted to defend himself. And that’s when the tragedy happened. They recorded themselves. They did a sort of sermon around the altar, in Arabic. It’s a horror.’
While they were attacking the priest, Sister Danielle managed to escape and call for help. Reports claim one of the hostages, an elderly parishioner, suffered severe knife wounds. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility and two of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.
When police arrived they tried to negotiate with the attackers, whom prosecutor Francois Molins said had lined up three hostages in front of the door as human shields to prevent police storming the church.
The three – two nuns and one parishioner – exited the church, followed by the attackers, one of whom was carrying a gun, who charged police shouting “Allahu akbar”, Mr Molins added. The pair were shot dead by police.
One of the attackers had fake explosives in a backpack. It would take hours for police to ensure the area was safe.
Father Moanda-Phuati, the parish priest of the Église St.-Étienne, where Father Hamel served, quickly returned from his trip. He spoke about the martyred priest and told French news agency—Le Figaro,
“He was a courageous priest for his age. Priests have the right to retire at 75 but he preferred to work in the service of the people because he still felt strong. He was very popular, a good man, simple and without extravagance. We benefited greatly from his experience and wisdom at the parish of Saint-Etienne. He served people for most of his life.”
Fr. Hamel was loved by the congregation. In the June 2016 edition of the parish news letter, Fr, Hamel shared,
The summer holiday time:
Spring was rather cool. If our moral was somewhat lowered, patience, was going to happen eventually. And the holidays.
The holidays are a time to take a distance with our usual activities. But this is not a simple bracket. It is a time of relaxation, but also of healing, dating, sharing, conviviality.
A Healing time: Some will take a few days for a retreat or a pilgrimage. Other reread the Gospel, alone or with others, as a word that sustains today. Others can recharge the great book of creation admiring them so different and so beautiful landscape that we rise and we talk about God.
May we hear in those moments God’s invitation to take care of this world, do, where we live, a warmer, more human, more fraternal.
a time to meet with relatives, friends: a time to take the time to experience something together.A time to be considerate of others, whoever they are.
A time of sharing: Sharing our friendship, our joy. Sharing our support to children, showing that they matter to us.
A time of prayer as: Attentive to what happens in our world at this time. Pray for those who are most in need, for peace, for a better living together.
It will still be the year of mercy. Are we attentive heart of beautiful things to each and those who may feel a bit more alone.
Let the holidays allow us to refuel friendship joy and relaxation. Then we can, better equipped, hit the road together.
Happy holidays to all!
Vatican Radio reported Pope Francis is horrified and shocked by an attack in a church in Rouen, in northern France, where a priest was slain and another hostage was seriously wounded.
A statement released by Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office said: “we are particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a Church, in which God’s love is announced, with the barbarous killing of a priest and the involvement of the faithful”.
Fr Lombardi also said the Pope shares the pain and the horror caused by this absurd violence and expresses firm condemnation of every form of hatred and prays for the victims.
French president François Hollande addressed the nation following the church attack. He visited the scene on Tuesday, said the country is now ‘at war’ with ISIS after the terror group claimed responsibility. He warned that the militant threat in the country has never been so severe. He also said France will use all human and physical resources in the war against Islamist militancy.
(L’OBSERVATOIRE DE LA CHRISTIANOPHOBIE) the growing concern of the Catholic and Protestant authorities about the persecution that Christians migrants suffer from Muslim migrants in Germany. Cardinal Rainer Woelki said at an ecumenical meeting in Düsseldorf Saturday 13 February, “The fear increases that politicians and the authorities do not take seriously enough such threats [against Christians in refugee centers]. The persecution of Christians is not a thing of past ages.” He demanded that Germany defend greater religious freedom. For his part, Pastor Gottfried Martens said the “harassment” against the Christian migrants in refugee centers in Germany has increased. He affirmed that Christians were forced to watch beheading videos, were banned from the common kitchen because they were”unclean”, beaten and Christian necklaces torn from their necks. The pastor suggested Christians and Muslims needed to be be housed in separate shelters. “When I talk to politicians, they tell me that the churches do not consider that necessary accommodations are separated and I look ridiculous (…) Our efforts to be tolerant, which is in itself praiseworthy, are not so far allow us to let Christians become a kind of guinea pigs. ” (Source: Catholic Herald , February 19)
Among the thousands of Middle Eastern migrants, Christians who have fled to Europe have discovered that a familiar burden has followed them, religious harassment = PERSECUTION.
World Watch Monitor reports that Christian migrants have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and violence from Muslim migrants with extremist views. One Iranian convert to Christianity was murdered.
The phenomenon has been observed in various locations across Europe, including in the camp of Grande-Synthe in northern France, where Iranian converts have been targeted by migrants from Iraq.
The situation has raised great concerns among local churches, which are now supporting migrants by supplying them with food, clothing, and, in some cases, even shelter.
It all started at the turn of the year, recalls Philippe Dugard, the Pastor of Église Evangélique du Littoral, or EEDL, a church in the neighbouring town of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, which has spearheaded the relief effort in Grande-Synthe.
“Between November and December, there was a group of Iranians who confessed their belonging to Christ, who started to attend our church. Some were Orthodox, while others said they were Christians but were not truly converted. But we got to know them, and we felt they had a real spiritual thirst,” he said.
“And then one evening [14 December], we were informed that two of them were stabbed and the whereabouts of a third one was unknown.
“We then said that as Christians we cannot leave them alone in that situation, and the victims themselves told us that they no longer wanted to stay in the camp, as they felt threatened.”
The incident marked the beginning of EEDL’s support for migrant victims of persecution.
For the next few days, the victims were put up in hotels, before they were moved to a church in Dunkirk, the closest city to the camp.
Just one of the victims from the initial group remains, a 29-year-old who wished to remain anonymous.
“Generally the Kurdish mafia in the camp are against Christians,” he said. “When we gave our money to them for them to help us to go to England, they didn’t help us and they just stole our money and did not give it back. Then they attacked us and called us kafir [infidels] and dirty. They came and cut me with a knife and they beat my friends.”
He said there are still some Christians in the camp, but that many are too scared to speak about their faith.
“Yes, there are still some Christians there in the camp,” he said, “But they don’t prefer to stay there beside these strong Muslims. They are so racist, they just want to clear the camp to be without Christians.”
He added that a mosque has been created in the camp, and that the Call to Prayer resounds around the camp every day, but unlike the nearby Calais camp, there is no church.
An explosive cocktail
Located in the northwest of France, beside the English Channel, the camp of Grande-Synthe hosts around 2,500 to 3,000 migrants – mostly Kurds from Iraq and Syria, but also some Iranians.
Tensions and other forms of violence are common in the camp, said a social worker, who wished to remain anonymous for fear that the report could impact upon his work with the Christians.
Ethnic differences have created tension in the camp between the Iraqis and Iranians, of whom there are only around 50. The thousands of Iraqi Kurds are mostly Muslim, while some of the Iranian minority are Christians.
Some of them attend local churches secretly, because they are scared of the Muslim migrants and smugglers, who hold sway within the camp. Night raids, theft and violence are among the common threats.
On the night of 14 December, a knife attack left several Christians injured. One of them, a 19-year-old named Mohammad, was murdered. The local police were informed and an investigation is underway. Police did not respond to World Watch Monitor requests for information about the investigation.
A staff member at the Mayor’s office in Grande-Synthe said there is no security problem in the camp, which she said is open to external visitors. However, police now patrol the entrance.
On 26 January, a shooting between rival gangs of smugglers erupted, prompting a huge police deployment around the camp. Security checks are now carried out at the entrance of the camp, and visitors must acquire prior authorisation from the Mayor’s office.
There are some who fear members of the so-called Islamic State may be among the migrants, intent on radicalising other migrants and imposing Sharia inside the camp.
A settled tension
Two months after the attacks against the Iranian migrants, the tension has settled, according to Dugard.
The majority of the victims of the December attacks have moved on. Some managed to reach England, their preferred destination, while others, tired of waiting for a hypothetical crossing or because of a lack of financial resources, returned to Iran. Others have left for other European destinations, with the hope of reaching England another way.
“Sometimes they just won’t show up at dinner time, even though we have already laid the table,” said Dugard. “They are always in search of new routes because the passages via Calais and Dunkirk seem completely blocked.
“But in the meantime, other refugees, including moderate Muslims who heard about the support provided to the Iranians, have now arrived.”
A group of about 10 migrants, only one of whom professes a Christian faith, are currently staying in a church in Dunkirk. A non-religious Iranian in his 30s, who identified himself as Max, complained of the poor conditions and lax security of the camp. A fellow Iranian, a Muslim man in his 20s who identified himself as Farhad, agreed.
“The living conditions in the camp are deplorable,” he said. “It is no place for humans. It is very cold and people fall sick easily.”
Local churches are struggling to cope with the demands being placed upon them, as they seek to support migrants of all faiths and none.
What started as an emergency has become a long-term commitment, Dugard said.
“We are wondering: what is the best option for us? Do we have the spiritual, human and financial resources to continue this work, which is full-time social work?” he said.
“Yet the migrants are really suffering. They crossed a multitude of borders and faced various obstacles to get here, in the hope of a better life. But they realise that it is often hopeless to cross to England and have ended up living in precarious conditions often more difficult than in their countries.”
Those conditions could be improved if migrants exploring Christianity could do so safely, said Michel Varton, director of Open Doors France, part of a worldwide charity that supports Christians who live under threat because of their faith.
“Many Christians amongst the refugees are fleeing persecution and discrimination. They are already traumatised by their terrible experience in the Middle East,” Varton said. “Imagine their despair to realise that, once here in France, they are suffering the same discrimination and hate from fellow immigrants.
“The local churches have shown dedication to help the Christian refugees and those who are genuinely interested in the Christian faith. The authorities must allow them to have simple buildings where they can meet and worship God in security and make sure that values of freedom of belief reign in the camps. It’s totally unacceptable that someone could lose their life for their faith once in France.”
In addition to the lack of resources, there is a logistical problem, as different churches act without much coordination.
Moreover, various groups and associations from all over Europe are also providing assistance to migrants, which has only added to the pressure, said Dugard.
“If some groups are useful, others believe that they can save the world,” he said. “They often come with very aggressive speeches, for two to three days, and then leave. In the end, their actions are doing more harm than good, because after they leave it becomes difficult for us to do serious work.”
Talks are currently underway among churches, as they seek to create a regional platform, which would come underneath the umbrella of the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France, the national Evangelical Church network.
The Grande-Synthe camp stretches over 20 hectares (nearly 50 acres) of marshland. It is difficult to walk through the slippery mud without proper boots.
With thousands of people, including women and children, living in such unsanitary conditions, respiratory problems and infectious diseases are common, says Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), which provides emergency care alongside Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World).
According to MSF, a new camp, equipped with heated tents and located three kilometres from the current camp, will accommodate migrants in the coming days.
However, the migrant crisis remains a very complex issue, says Matthew Bosiger, the pastor of the Salvation Army Church in Dunkirk.
“They are a bit like in a prison,” he said. “It is good to try to improve their situation, but they have no plan to stay in France. The migrants have only one thought in mind: to cross the channel to England, at any cost.”
Many say they have relatives or friends already settled there and the living conditions seem very attractive – partly because many know a little English, but also because of the prospect of better economic opportunities. Smugglers take advantage of migrants’ desperation to reach the UK by charging them everything that they have, with no guarantee they will succeed.
Voice of the Persecuted shared last August how Christian refugees moved from asylum accommodation after threats by Islamists in Sweden. The Christians feared for their safety after it was demanded that they stop wearing Christian symbols, like crosses around their necks. And that they were not welcome in common areas, such as kitchens when the aggressive Muslim group was there.
After receiving no help when the atmosphere became intimidating, the Christian refugees dared not stay and decided it would be safer to find other accommodations.
In a newly shared CBN report, they describe as shocking, an ordinary French citizen who has been watching the Islamization of Paris decided that the world needed to see what was happening to his city. The report also offers a warning to the West by French politician, Jean-François Copé.
In April 2014, we shared a video report highlighting ‘No Go Zones’ in France. The report Muslim immigrants refusing to assimilate into French society, taking over areas and terrorizing French natives in communities some families have lived in for generations.
Abigail Frymann Rouch for The Tablet, reports the Council of Paris, the governing body of the French capital, on Tuesday unanimously adopted a proposal by the city’s socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo to award honorary citizenship to Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who has been on death row since 2010.
Mrs Bibi, mother of five, was condemned to death for blasphemy after her Muslim co-workers objected to her drinking from the same water as them and accused her of insulting Muhammad. The High Court in Lahore upheld her sentence in October 2014. On 30 November the Supreme Court agreed to re-open the case. A new trial should begin in May, the mayor’s office said in a statement.
“Falsely accused of insulting the Prophet of Islam, Asia Bibi is the victim of squabbles between families in her village linked to her adherence to the Christian faith in a majority Muslim country.
“To support her in her fight against ignorance and obscurantism, Anne Hildago wishes that Paris raises Asia Bibi to the level of honorary citizen, a rare distinction granted to the world’s most emblematic defenders of human rights,” the statement explained.
“To be an honorary citizen is to embody the values of Paris, the values of liberty and tolerance. By this bold gesture, I wish to testify to the solidarity of Paris towards the numerous women around the world of all confessions who are religious obscurantism and political extremism,” Ms Hildago said.
The mayor reiterated her commitment to supporting Mrs Bibi until a presidential pardon or a new sentence restores her liberty, and restated that the city would welcome her, with her family, as soon as this freedom is restored to her.
In December she unveiled a banner of Mrs Bibi which has remained on display on the steps of the City Hall. At the unveiling she stressed: “We must support Asia Bibi, because women in all regions of the world are the first victims of an order which theocrats, who twist the messages of all religions, try to impose.”
VOP Note: Asia’s husband and five children are desperately missing her. Please pray for her release!
(Voice of the Persecuted) The top persecutors grows by the day, but here is our list for 2014. As you may know, it’s hard to obtain solid numbers on refugees let alone those facing extreme abuses and the many who have been killed. Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, North Korea, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are among those that rank at the top our list. It’s hard to put a numerical value on countries for human and religious rights abuses, as it can change daily. We are actively watching these top ranked nations for abuses against Christians and other minorities, including women and children.
2014 is described by the media, and experts as the worst year in history for the persecution of Christians. They liken it to genocide and ethnic cleansing with reports of crucifixions, beheadings, stonings, along with rape, torture, kidnapping and slaughter.
A representative of the UNHRC describes the numbers as not seen since WWII, with 8 million refugees from the Middle East alone. 8 million people fleeing to refugee camps—that doesn’t include those who have been murdered. At least 200,000 of them are children. This doesn’t include areas in Africa. In Nigeria, 2 million have been displaced and thousands killed. Again these numbers include innocent children.
It’s hard to even begin to understand such staggering amounts. And harder to imagine that this type of slaughter and evil acts can happen in modern times. A so-called technological, ‘civilized’ world that’s being compared to WWII when Hitler and his Nazi party ravaged the world. History repeating itself, because history is no longer taught. Ask high school and college kids and you’ll be surprised how many have no idea who Hitler is, or have never heard of the holocausts perpetrated by the Ottoman’s, Nazi’s and others.
The Armenian people have made their home in the Caucasus region of Eurasia for some 3,000 years. For some time, the kingdom of Armenia was an independent entity–at the beginning of the 4th century AD, for instance, it became the first nation in the world to make Christianity its official religion–but for the most part, control of the region shifted from one empire to another. During the 15th century, Armenia was absorbed into the mighty Ottoman Empire. Persecution began under the despotic Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Between 1894 and 1896, Armenian villages and cities and massacred their citizens. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were murdered.
The “Young Turks” overthrew Sultan Abdul Hamid and established a more modern constitutional government. At first, the Armenians were hopeful. But non-Turks–and especially Christian non-Turks–were seen as a grave threat to the new state.
When WWII intensified, the Young Turks created a “Special Organization,” which in turn organized “killing squads” or “butcher battalions” to carry out, as one officer put it, “the liquidation of the Christian elements.” These killing squads were often made up of murderers and other ex-convicts. They drowned people in rivers, threw them off cliffs, crucified them and burned them alive.
Records show that during this “Turkification”campaign government squads also kidnapped children, converted them to Islam and gave them to Turkish families. In some places, they raped women and forced them to join Turkish “harems” or serve as slaves. Muslim families moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property. source
When the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, there were approximately 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre. By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. Today, most historians call this event a genocide–a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people.
When reading the details of these historic events, they closely resemble modern times. And God’s unchanging Word rings true for us, still.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV)
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
If the UNHRC using WWII as a comparison, expect the numbers to be much higher than the reports given. Some facts about WWII:
- An estimated death toll in World War II ranged from approximately 60 to 85 million, making it the deadliest war in world history in absolute terms of total dead, but not in terms of deaths relative to the world population.
- The higher figure of 85 million includes deaths from war-related disease and famine.
- Estimates of 38 to 55 million civilians killed, including 19 to 25 million from war-related disease and famine.
- Total military dead: from 22 to 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 5 million prisoners of war.
One expert on Fox News said the world would have to unite like it did against the Nazi’s in WWII, or it wouldn’t be able to stop this murderous rampage.
The World Watch List 2014 ranks the top 50 countries that are most dangerous for Christians and the top 10 as (in numerical order according to Open Doors):
- NORTH KOREA
We intend to focus and bring to the forefront, the aftermath of this holocaustic frenzy. To tell the stories stories of suffering and survival and to describe incredible and enduring faith throughout unspeakable trials. (Here) Yes, we will continue to research and report, but the need is great. The Harvest is ripe, but few are the workers. Radical Islam is spreading like an advanced cancer. It’s time to focus our prayers & our attention on our brethren and the innocent people who are suffering. At least one in the UNHCR is willing to speak out about the refugees and their suffering, and how the world should focus on not only their survival, but their future.
Attacks from Boko Haram is now a regional problem, spreading and advancing their caliphate takeover. Recently, they attacked an army base which gave them a huge advantage. The numbers are doubling even tripling.
More than 3,000 refugees fleeing the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram have been welcomed in Chad. This was announced by the Prime Minister of Chad, Kalzeubé Pahimi Deubet, according to whom even 500 Chadians have returned to the country because of the violence of the extremist Nigerians.
According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, the crisis in the north-east of Nigeria is increasingly spreading to neighboring States, even for the threats made in a video, attributed to the leader of Boko Haram, Aboubakar Shekau, to the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya. In the video, a man who looks like the leader of the Islamist sect, has threatened to increase violence in Cameroon if the country does not abolish the Constitution and embraces Islam. In recent months, the military of Cameroon have rejected several offensives launched on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. The conquest of the base of the so-called Multinational Task Force (formed by soldiers of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon) in Baga on the Nigerian banks of Lake Chad, now offers Boko Haram a strategic location from which to launch attacks not only against Maiduguri (the capital of the Nigerian State of Borno) but also against Niger, Chad and Cameroon. (L.M.) ((Agenzia Fides 08/01/2015)
The cemeteries in Nigeria are overflowing with Christians, and even dignitaries are visiting them to pay respects and mourn the deaths of our brothers and sisters. Turning their final resting places into a memorial. These souls are precious to our Lord.
Persecution takes many forms, such as the slaughter in Nigeria, and the Middle East against Christians and other minorities. Yesterday, the slaughter of a dozen people in Paris is also is persecution. And even in the US, although not on a scale like Africa and the Middle East, discrimination against Christians is growing. There are 2 cases making news this week of children (here) & (here) being punished in school for simply reading a Bible, there is a case of a Fire Chief who was fired recently for his Christian views and faith, also a teacher who is a Gideon was fired for simply giving a Bible to a student, and countless others. This is the way it begins, as warned by those in nations facing extreme persecution.
The world holds it’s breath while we await the next slaughter and attack. Why? Why are so many held hostage by one group committing war crimes and genocide.
When you have persecution of this magnitude and on this scale, it is hard to use demographics, political leadership……or news reports who are biased, we spend countless hours verifying, and researching everything we share. We have reported for months on the ‘Super Highway’ of Terror flowing from the Middle East to Nigeria. This super highway has grown into a full fledged Audubon with a corridor that can not be controlled or closed off. The Stench of Death is ever increasing.
The last few days Nigeria has seen the worst massacre yet, with reports saying that 2,000 have been killed and an entire village destroyed. This village had a population of 10,000 people. Churches were burned and bodies thick in the streets and the bush. Most of those killed were the elderly, women and children and others who could not run fast enough.
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) – Even several churches have been burned in the last series of attacks committed by Boko Haram in the city of Baga and in the surrounding villages, in the Nigerian Borno state, which according to some media reports have claimed up to 2000 victims.
“I received a message of the Christians Association of Nigeria, the association of Christian churches in Nigeria, which states that in that area Boko Haram has burned several churches and caused numerous victims” says Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria to Agenzia Fides.
The Boko Haram group attacked Baga town on Wednesday, where in recent days it had conquered the multinational military Task Force base in charge of ensuring the safety of the area. In the attacks committed in the past two days, according to official Nigerian media, a hundred people have died. “Though it is noted that in general the national media tend to reduce the number of victims not to further inflame the minds” says Fr. Patrick.
“One must bare in mind that the presidential election campaign for February has opened this week. The situation is particularly delicate”, says the priest.
The population in the area is fleeing from the advance of Boko Haram. “When those of Boko Haram arrive in a major city they make no distinction between Christians and Muslims, and the population flees, without distinction of religion. Boko Haram separates Muslims from Christians only in the smaller villages”, recalls Fr. Patrick. “Next to the combatants from Nigeria, Boko Haram has been strengthened by jihadist members from Libya and Mali. Their goal is to create a caliphate in northern Nigeria”, concluded the priest. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 09/01/2015)
Most major news agencies are beginning to cover this latest massacre with even Amnesty International calling it the worst massacre in the country.
We feel it is not a coincidence that this massacre happened at virtually the same time as the massacres in Paris. And the protection of our brothers and sisters at risk of extreme persecution are at the forefront of our prayers. O Lord, hear our cries.
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.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Hundreds of years before the Muslim prophet began receiving ‘revelations’ around 600AD, the beginnings of Islam, Christians have lived in the Iraqi city of Mosul for nearly 2,000 years.
ISIS militants imposing harsh Sharia law in Mosul (Iraq’s second largest city) gave Christians a 24 hour ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a steep tax in submission, leave, or be executed. Thousands of terrified Iraqi Christians evacuated their homes—many headed towards Kurdistan for protection. Unconfirmed reports claim only 20 Christian families still remain. About 100,000 Christians had resided in the city 10 years ago, but their numbers have diminished as they became targets of Islamic hardliners and ongoing violence.
CT reports the Vicar of Baghdad’ Canon Andrew White who visited the UK over the weekend said an ISIS presence was also in Baghdad. He added, “They just go around and shoot the odd person dead.”
“I can’t do anything. I can’t go and visit my people any more.”
“The only answer is that we stay together, we keep loving each other and loving God, that is all we can do. There is no solution in a place where you cannot even have a government.”
“Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near.”
He called on the British government to do more to help Christians fleeing Iraq.
On Monday, French ministers offered asylum to the thousands of Mosul Christians forced from their homes.
The offer was made in a statement, by Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, who said they were shocked by the persecution of the minority.
“France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness,” the statement said. “We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum on our territory.”
Present-day Mosul encompasses the site of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where, the Bible teaches, the Prophet Jonah preached. Although this is disputed, a tradition holds that Jonah was buried within the city, on Tell Nebi Yunus, or Hill of the Prophet Jonah.
An Assyrian church stood over the tomb for centuries. After the Muslim conquest, the church became a mosque.
Last week, ISIS prevented worshipers from entering the mosque and using explosives reduced it to rubble, as a crowd looked on.
Scholar, Sam Hardy, told the Washington Post that the destruction of the tomb shows that ISIS is willing to destroy “pretty much anything in the Bible.”
The violent jihadist group is part of the Salafi movement, a Sunni branch of Islam trying to cleanse the area of anyone who won’t follow an extreme form of Sharia, Islamic law. The movement rejects the centuries of subsequent developments in Islam as unjustified innovations–pagan accretions that adulterated the faith. The veneration of the tomb is considered by them as a kind of idolatry.
Salafi Islam is widespread in Saudi Arabia, where it enjoys the patronage of the royal family. On the Arabian Peninsula, as now in Iraq, Salafis have destroyed the tombs of Islamic holy men. When the Saudi royal family captured the city of Medina in the 19th century, Salafis systematically destroyed the tombs of several of the Prophet Mohammed’s companions and family members, leaving only the Prophet’s tomb. Some think that the Saudi government plans on dismantling even that tomb, but hesitates to do so because of the uproar it would cause.
The fighting between the Sunni Muslim militant group and the Shia-dominated Iraqi military gives us a glimpse into the wider sectarian war plaguing the country. For years, Sunnis and Shiites have been in disagreement with each other about everything from politics to religion to shares of national wealth, and have fought for power. That infighting is now presenting itself on the frontlines in the form of ethnic cleansing — a crime against humanity punishable under international law.
Ethnic cleansing is not easy to define, especially during wartime. At times, it is indistinguishable from forced emigration and it also merges with aspects of deportation and genocide. A 1993 report to the U.N. Security Council, during the Bosnian war, defined ethnic cleansing as “rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of a given group from the area.”
ISIS, now calling themselves IS (Islamic State) has been instilling fear by executing innocent civilians and sharing the atrocities on video.
Where is the moderate majority of Muslims doing more to stomp out the radical factions of Islam and protect minorities, throughout the Islamic world. To not take on this responsibility is consent of the extreme intolerance and violence and they will see the extremism continue to spread. One day, they too will find themselves forced to join the radicals or face the same type of oppression we’re witnessing today.
Please keep Christians, others being persecuted and the nation of Iraq in your prayers.
By L. Kanalos, Voice of the Persecuted