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‘Can Christians be butchers?’ Tanzania’s Islamist tensions continue

A Christian butchers in Mbeya, Tanzania. 'Wakristu' means 'Christian'. World Watch Monitor

A Christian butchers in Mbeya, Tanzania. ‘Wakristu’ means ‘Christian’.
World Watch Monitor

Over 90% of the population of Tanzania’s island of Zanzibar is Muslim, with a small Christian and indigenous minority. Addressing complaints by Christians because they are not allowed to slaughter animals for consumption, an authority told World Watch Monitor,

“Our national policies are silent on who deserves to be a slaughterer. But we have experienced seeing Muslims as our animal slaughterers, mainly because they have been directed by their holy book to eat meat slaughtered by Muslims, while for Christians there is no such condition stating that meat must be slaughtered by a Christian. What this means is that Christians can eat meat slaughtered by anyone.

“This is our custom. We will not allow Christians to engage in this business, as we feel that it will create violence in society. Christians are allowed to sell meat, including to their own butchers; the only problem is around slaughtering the animal.”

WWM reported the recent attack on a mosque in Mwanza, northern Tanzania, has highlighted the area as one [undergoing] pressure from political Islam.

More than three years have passed since the murder of a Tanzanian pastor, killed when rioting Muslims protested against Christians working as butchers. Tanzania is believed to have equal numbers of Christians and Muslims, although no official census figures are available. As Muslims are only permitted to eat meat that has been ritually slaughtered, while almost all Christians have no such restraints, it is typically considered acceptable for only Muslims to work in the trade, even though there is no official legislation to enforce this.

On 11 Feb. 2013, after Christians in the north-western city of Buseresere had arranged for a non-Muslim butcher to prepare meat for a Christian funeral reception, Mathayo Kachila, the pastor of the local Assemblies of God church, was hacked to death by rioters.

For six years before, tension had been building between Muslims and Christians in Buseresere over the issue of animal slaughter. The local government had forbidden non-Muslims from working as butchers, but Christians in the Geita district had begun to do so.

When Muslims heard that a non-Muslim was providing the meat for a funeral reception, they began looting Christian butcheries, urinating on the meat, and assaulting other Christian businessmen. Several were injured. Kachila was on his way to a friend’s house, when he was caught in the riot and received fatal machete wounds. Another nine people were injured.

Police arrested six suspects, but those cases have since stagnated due to lack of evidence and witnesses.

Hundreds of people attended Kachila’s funeral. Although they live in a Muslim-dominated area, it was the first time anything like this had happened there and the Christians were stunned.

Following the riots, police arrested and charged two local pastors, Obadiah Mlokozi Madini (who has since died) and Isaiah Rutha Ikiri (now 56), for “slaughtering animals without considering the law on food, medicine and law about livestock diseases”. Their cases lasted for almost two years, before being dismissed early in 2015.

Geita’s Regional Police Commander, Mponjoli Mwabulambo, told World Watch Monitor: “It has been our custom since the establishment of Tanzania – and even before – to see Muslims slaughter animals for public use, and we have not seen any problem. We have to care for our traditions and customs, which is to see Muslims doing this. If Christians slaughter animals, Muslims will not eat them. We feel that it will create violence in society, especially on the Muslim side.”

But some Christians believe that the eating of halal meat goes against their religious beliefs.

There is also an economic element. The halal slaughtering service costs TShs500 (US$0.22) per chicken, 1,500 TShs (US$0.67) per goat/sheep and TShs2,500 (US$1.12) per cow, and customers are issued a receipt from the Tanzania Supreme Council of Muslims, to whom the remittances are paid.

Local Muslims also complained over losing income to Christian butchers, as demand for non-halal meat increased and more Christians took up the trade.

At least 205 Christians Killed by Fulani Herdsmen in Benue State, Nigeria

Nigerian-flag-Wikipedia

Nigerian-flag-Wikipedia

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Reports of Christians attacked in central and northern Nigeria draw more attention, but in more southerly Benue state Islamic extremists killed at least 205 Christians in the last six months alone, sources said.

In the southeastern part of Nigeria’s middle belt, Benue state’s Agatu Local Government Area saw deadly attacks on Christian farmers by Muslim, ethnic Fulani herdsmen from May through November that displaced an estimated 10,000 people, Christian leaders said.

As in attacks in Plateau state, several of the assailants appeared to be mercenaries from outside the area rather than herdsmen, and locals questioned how the Fulani became so heavily armed. In some of the attacks a herdsmen spokesman alleged stolen cattle as the reason for the bloodshed, but frequently the Nigerian press asserted that motives for the attacks were unknown.

Christian leaders, however, said they had no doubt the Muslim assailants aimed to demoralize and destroy Christians.

“These attacks on Christian members of our churches have disrupted church activities, as Christians can no longer worship together in their congregations,” the Rev. David Bello, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Otukpo, told Morning Star News.

The Rev. Michael Apochi, Roman Catholic bishop of Otukpo Diocese, added that attacks by Muslim Fulani gunmen have devastated Christian communities.

“Life has become unbearable for our church members who have survived these attacks, and they are making worship services impossible,” Apochi told Morning Star News by phone.

The two Christian leaders called on the Nigerian government to urgently take measures to curb unprovoked attacks on Christians in rural areas of the state.

In the early hours of Nov. 9, Muslim Fulani gunmen killed 25 Christians in seven villages, said area Christian leader Sule Audu.

“Seven Christian communities were completely ravaged by the rampaging Muslim Fulani gunmen,” Audu said. “The previous Thursday, Nov. 8, two Christian communities of Ikpele and Okpopolo were attacked by the Muslim Fulani herdsmen in a raid that resulted in the killing of three persons, injuring many others, and the displacement of about 6,000 Christians.”

The attacked villages were Ello, Okpagabi, Ogwule-Ankpa, Ogbangede, Ekwo, Enogaje and Okpanchenyi, he said.

Another area Christian leader from Agatu, John Ngbede, confirmed the attacks.

“It is true that Agatu is under attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen at the moment,” he told Morning Star News. “Many of our Christian brethren have been killed. The Muslim gunmen that are attacking our Christian communities are numerous; they are so many that we can’t count them. They are spread across all the communities and unleashing terror on our people without any security resistance.”

 

Most of the 6,000 Christians fleeing for their lives have taken refuge at neighboring Apa Local Government Area and at Obagaji, he said.

“We are tired of these unending bloodbaths being carried by the Fulanis,” Ngbede said. “Moreover, we would also want the Nigerian government to step into the matter by beefing up security and extending assistance to the victims of these attacks in the affected communities.”

In all, Christian leaders in Benue State said that the Muslim Fulani gunmen invaded seven Christian communities in one week in November, killing and maiming members of the communities.

Daniel Ezeala, a deputy superintendent of police and the Benue state police spokesman, said the attacks have continued.

“Seven Agatu Christian villages are currently under heavy attacks from armed gunmen believed to be Fulani herdsmen,” Ezeala said on Dec. 11. “We can’t confirm the exact number of causalities now. However, we are on top of the situation.”

nigerian-gunmen

Christians believe Islamic extremist groups have increasingly incited Fulani Muslims to attack them in Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Benue states. They suspect that Fulani herdsmen, with backing from Islamic extremist groups, want to take over the predominantly Christian areas in order to acquire land for grazing, stockpile arms and expand Islamic territory.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.

On Oct. 12, gunmen killed 30 Christians in Oguchi-Ankpa, Christian leaders said. Apochi and Bello said the Christians were killed in their sleep after Muslim Fulani herdsmen broke into their homes. Houses, church buildings and other property were destroyed in the attacks, they said.

On Oct. 4, Muslim Fulani gunmen attacked Ejima, killing three Christians, according to Stephen Dutse, chairman of Agatu Local Government Council. Three days prior, Christian and community leaders in the area had declared a month of fasting and prayer in the face of unceasing attacks on them, he said.

“It has become necessary to seek God’s intervention in the face of the frequent attacks on Christian communities here by Muslim Fulani herdsmen,” Dutse said by phone. “Not less than 60 Christians have lost their lives in three attacks by Muslim Fulanis within the last two months, November and December, while over 10,000 Christians have been displaced and church activities been suspended.”

On Sept. 29, Muslim gunmen killed 13 Christians in the Agatu area in the early hours of that Sunday morning as they began worship services.

On July 1, Christian leaders said, Muslim Fulani gunmen attacked Christians in Okpanchenyi village, killing 40 people.

On June 8, Muslim Fulani gunmen attacked a Roman Catholic Church farm at Ichama Christian community of Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue state. Juliana Obeta, chairperson of the Okpokwu Local Government Council, said the assailants killed one Christian. Others were wounded and treated at St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital in Okpoga, she said.

Women-weeping

“The Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked our communities on June 7 and 8, killing one person, and carted away 40 cattle belonging to the Catholic Diocese at Ichama,” Obeta said. “Many Christians, mostly children and women, have been forced out of their villages as their homes were destroyed.”

On June 2 and 3, about 45 Christians were killed by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Agatu Local Government Area, Christian leaders said.

On May 12, armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen in the Okpanchenyi and Ekwo Christian communities of Agatu killed 45 Christians. Church leaders said a massive number of Muslim Fulani herdsmen invaded the area on the Sunday night and killed 38 people, while the others were killed in another attack in the early hours of the next day.

Later, authorities reportedly discovered that some of the assailants were dressed like Fulanis but were apparently hired assassins from out of state. Armed with AK-47s, the assailants invaded several communities, including an attack on a funeral, killing Christians and burning houses and church buildings, Christian leaders said.

Audu said that in the May attack, his village was destroyed.

“About 38 bodies of Christians murdered were recovered by us,” Audu said.

“Armed Muslim gunmen numbering over 700 invaded the communities, setting fire on houses in about five villages. They overpowered security men and started killing our people, and thousands of our people have been displaced.”

Ngbede, the Agatu Christian leader who is also state Commissioner for Works and Transport, reportedly described the attacks as unprovoked and “an attempt to eliminate the people of the area.”

In response, Garus Gololo, secretary of the state Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association, reportedly said the herdsmen attacked in order to recover about 550 cows he claimed the Agatu people had stolen.

Morning Star News

Please include those suffering in Nigeria in your prayers.

West Java: Islamists Against Christian Businessman Accused Of Proselytising

photo: Asia News

photo: Asia News

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Anti-Christian sentiment is on the rise in Padang, capital of West Sumatra province. In recent weeks, several Islamist groups, including the Minangkabau People’s Forum, have organized demonstrations and issued press releases against what they call the ‘Christianisation’ of the province.

Recently, Islamists have also targeted the construction of a shopping mall (pictured) with attached schools and hospitals by the Lippo Group, a company owned by James T. Riady, a Protestant businessman from Jakarta who is a personal friend of former US president Bill Clinton.

Posters denouncing the Lippo Group mall construction appeared on 5 November, Islamic New Year, on the walls of Nurural Mosque.

“We are opposed to the plan to build a shopping centre with hospitals and schools in our area,” said Masfar Rasyid, a local Islamist leader,

For many Indonesian Islamist leaders, Riady uses his shopping malls to spread Christianity in Padang. For the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), at least 600 locals have converted so far to Christianity.

This is not an isolated incident. In recent years, anti-Christian Islamist activity has increased across the country. On more than one occasion, Catholic and Protestant communities have been the victims of violent attacks.

When it comes to intolerance, West Java is second only to Aceh, Indonesia’s only Sharia-ruled province. In Bogor for example, the Yasmin Church has been attacked dozens of times.

Local Ahmadi Muslims, deemed heretical by Sunni Muslims, have also been victimised by Islamists.

Asia News

Insurgency Against Christians Underway in Egypt

egyptian-copts-PRAYER

More unrest and violence in Egypt this weekend suggests an Islamist-led insurgency against Christians and the government may now be underway.

An Islamist gunman riding on a motorcycle fired 15 shots at members of a wedding party as they left a Cairo church Sunday.

“Everyone knows that every Sunday there is a wedding in the church,” a witness said. “There was a lot of traffic outside the church when a motorbike and a car approached the crowd outside the church. The car stopped and the gunman on the motorcycle started shooting and ran away.”

The attack killed four people, including 8-year-old Nermien, who was excited about wearing her new dress and boots to the wedding.

“What is happening is targeting all of Egypt and not only the Christians. This is enough, people are getting sick and tired of this,” Father Dawoud, a priest from Virgin Mary Coptic Church, said.

Meanwhile, on Saturday northwest of Cairo in Islamiya, members of a jihadist group that calls itself “Supporters of the Mahdi” claimed responsibility for a car bombing outside a military intelligence.

The group warned Egyptians to avoid military and police buildings, saying they are “legitimate targets for the Mujahadeen.”

The Islamiya bombing and other similar attacks in the Sinai indicate Egypt may be facing the start of an insurgency.

The supporters of the Mahdi accuse Egyptian intelligence services and the military of waging war on Egyptians, which they claim only benefits the enemies of the nation—Jews and Christians.

Militant Islamists blame Christians and the military for the uprising last July that ended Mohammed Morsi’s presidency and led to a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.

And it doesn’t look like attacks against Christians, the military, and police will end anytime soon. At Cairo’s Al Azar University Sunday, pro-Morsi student rioters opposed police.

It was another weekend of political unrest, suggesting Egyptians are likely to face more violence and instability in the days ahead.

Charisma News

A Coptic Exodus From Egypt

SplittingOfTheRedSea-700686

In the aftermath of President Mohammed Morsi’s overthrow earlier this summer, Egypt’s Coptic Church has faced an onslaught of persecution. Pro-Morsi supporters vented their anger by burning Christian homes and shops, and when the military staged an August 14 crackdown on protesters, the repercussions for Copts were enormous and tragic: at least 42 churches were assailed, looted, and demolished. Mobs destroyed Christian convents, orphanages, schools, shops, and homes.

This is the culmination of several years of rising persecution for the Copts, whose freedoms were already significantly threatened under President Morsi’s rule. In this volatile situation, the ancient church is increasingly faced with a sobering choice: stay and be persecuted, or leave.

Hudson Institute fellow Samuel Tadros explains this dilemma along with its historical context in his new book Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity. The book offers timely background on this religious persecution, demonstrating how the Copts’ encounters with modernity and Islam have shaped their role in Egyptian society. Now facing religious repression and violence, Copts’ best option, says Tadros, may be to leave Egypt–ending a 2,000-year sojourn in the country. Tadros sees this as detrimental both to the church’s traditions and history and to the future of Egypt itself.

TAC: What is the historical Islamic attitude toward Coptic Christians?

TADROS: Islamism has adopted this clear language towards Christians. As I explain in the book, the Islamist goal for the Copts is not massacre. We’re not talking about complete genocide or Holocaust … but they want Copts to accept the idea that they are second-class citizens, that they are dhimmis in the land of Islam and acknowledge the supremacy of Islam. The lack of acknowledgement of this, a Coptic attempt to ask for or demand equality, is viewed by the Islamists as an assault, and leads to all the attacks.

The Islamist discourse on Copts is that of the “lucky minority”: they were rescued from Byzantine persecution by the Muslim army, they lived happily ever after under the rule of Islam, and they should be thankful for that. They are the ones trying to destroy Egypt with their foreign conspiracies, but they don’t have equal rights in the country at all.

TAC: Do you think, keeping in mind the Muslim Brotherhood’s history, that Morsi could have eventually delivered a more liberal, representative government?

TADROS: The Muslim Brotherhood was always geared to outside pressure, and not to internal change of hearts and minds. So due to outside pressure, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to be more pragmatic in its efforts and its approach. But once they no longer needed to do that–once they had free hand over the country, and understood that the American president was not going to crack down on them … the army was not that big of a challenge, and they went for getting everything at once. So I don’t think there would have been any internal cooperation.

On the other hand, I don’t think they would have been able to create a sharia-based system, simply because Egypt is not organized enough for anyone to actually build a centralized system of any sort … There’s simply too much chaos and anarchy. The country really doesn’t function on a daily basis. You have a massive bureaucracy with a mind of its own, which was unwilling to work for Morsi’s government. You’ve also got an army that thinks for itself.

TAC: Now the army is back in power, what challenges do you predict for Egypt’s political future?

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Egypt: Churches, Schools Razed to Erase Any Christian Presence

egypt mapCAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News)– After the ouster of Egypt’s Muhammad Morsi, many of his followers took out their frustrations against the Christian houses of worship, schools and orphanages of Minya Governorate, according to AsiaNews.

“The Islamists”, a resident said, “burnt and destroyed everything. Their goal was to erase all the traces of a Christian presence.”

After attacking the Tadros el-Shatbi Church, residents said armed Islamsts looted two nearby homes for disadvantaged children; after they stole children’s clothes and games, they set both buildings ablaze.

In addition to razing the orphanages, Islamists destroyed a nearby art gallery that sold items made by the orphans to support themselves.

Shurkri Huzayn, once an orphan at the facility who grew up to become its guard, said the Islamists attacked anything that symbolized Christianity.

“What kind of people are they?” he asked. “Even unbelievers would not attack an orphanage.”

Islamists also razed nearby shops and schools, including the St Joseph Coptic School, a pharmacy and a restaurant, leaving only anti-Christian graffiti in their wake.

A teacher at St. Joseph’s said the attacks will have a major impact on everyone in Minya.

“The teachers do not know when the school year will start,” she said. “The school is open to Christians and Muslims and has taught hundreds of children from rural areas, many of whom were housed in the two orphanages.”

Worthy News

Pastor Saeed, other Christians Caught in the Crosshairs, Yet Nary a Word from Obama

violence-against-christians

 

An Islamic terror campaign against Christians in Egypt should be headline-grabbing news. Not so. Few media outlets are focusing on the story behind the story in Egypt — a calculated assault against Egypt’s ancient Christian community.

In recent weeks, the violence in Egypt –fueled by hate-filled radical Muslims — has resulted in the murder of Coptic Christians and the destruction of dozens of churches. Radical Islamists have even paraded Christian nuns through the streets like prisoners of war.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-American, anti-Israel terrorist group, put red paint on Christian homes and businesses — marking them as targets.

The attacks are so unrelenting that even one Egyptian church, which has been  open for 1,600 years, had to close its doors — cancelling services for the  first time ever — because of the violence.

The assault on Christians is not confined to Egypt. We see it in our work in  Pakistan,  where Christians are also singled out and face grave dangers because of their  faith.

CaptureAnd, just this week, an American citizen experienced religious persecution  first-hand when a court in Iran rejected his appeal. Christian  pastor Saeed Abedini faces eight years in prison. He’s been imprisoned now  for nearly one year, subjected to beatings and torture, simply because of his  Christian faith.

The disturbing decision by Iran’s judiciary violates the  universally-respected principles of protecting human rights and religious  freedom. And, the decision seems to indicate that it is business as usual Iran  — even under the new President Hassan Rohani.

In fact, one of the judges who rejected the appeal, Judge Ahmad Zargar, was  sanctioned by the European Union for issuing long-term sentences and the death  penalty against peaceful protestors.

At the American Center for Law and Justice we represent Pastor Saeed’s wife,  Naghmeh, and their two young children. The family lives here in the United  States.

The latest news out of Iran is devastating for Saeed family and raises two even more important questions: Why is the Obama administration largely silent on this topic? Why isn’t President Obama forcefully speaking out, condemning this assault on Christians?

Let’s go back to Egypt for a moment. As the anti-Christian violence there  escalates, President Obama has said very little about the slaughter.

Here’s what he said just days ago: “We believe that … the rights of … religious minorities should be  respected . . . .”

That’s it?

Where’s the outrage? Where’s the condemnation?

Continue reading this article on Fox News.

 

Christians restrain anger after Egypt church attacks

Egypt-CopticChristians=pray

Coptic Christians in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya are managing to restrain their anger despite a wave of devastating attacks on their churches and institutions by enraged Islamists.

Tensions are still running high more than two weeks after the attacks in the city some 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Cairo but there have been no calls for vengeance, nor any fiery rhetoric.

“I say to the Islamists who attacked us that we are not afraid of their violence and their desire to exterminate the Copts,” said Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, the archbishop of Minya.

“If we are not hitting back, it is not because we are afraid, but because we are sensible,” he said.

Enraged by a bloody crackdown mid-August on protests in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Islamists lashed out at Coptic Christians in Minya, accusing them of backing the military that toppled the head of state.

The Copts, who account for some 10 million out of Egypt’s population of 80 million, had already suffered persecution in recent years.

But they say they have never such a systematic campaign as this.

“We were expecting a violent reaction but not on this scale, which suggests it was well prepared,” the archbishop said.

In the greater Minya province, where Christians account for about one-fifth of the five million population, Christians say they have suffered systematic and coordinated violence since mid-August.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 40 churches have been attacked in Egypt since August 14, when the security forces launched a bloody crackdown against demonstrations demanding the return of Morsi, who was toppled by the military on July 3.

The attacks have been concentrated in Minya and Assiut, in central Egypt, where attackers torched 11 and eight churches respectively, the US-based rights group said.

Islamists accused Egypt’s Copts of throwing their weight behind the military coup that removed from power the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails.

The perception was fuelled by the fact that Coptic Pope Tawadros II appeared with army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he spoke on television to announce Morsi’s removal from office.

At the ruins of Saint Moses’ church in Minya, Bassam Youssef, a Copt, despairs at the sight of the rounded building with its clock tower, now ravaged by fire.

“Some 500 extremists attacked the building and set it on fire,” Youssef recalled.

“We did not expect such violence,” he added, showing pictures of the church before its destruction.

Read more: Christians restrain anger after Egypt church attacks

 

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