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The kidnapping, sexual abuse, and forced conversion of Christian women and girls in Egypt—a “particularly vulnerable group to exploitation” that is quietly living an “unimaginable nightmare”—is rampant with no signs of abatement. This is the finding of a report published on September 10, 2020 by Coptic Solidary (CS), an international organization based in Washington D.C., that works to promote equal citizenship rights for Egypt’s Christian minority.
In its 15-page report, titled “‘Jihad of the Womb’: Trafficking of Coptic Women & Girls in Egypt,” CS documents “the widespread practice of abduction and trafficking” and estimates that there have been “about 500 cases within the last decade, where elements of coercion were used that amount to trafficking,” according to the UN’s own definitions, particularly per its “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children.”
According to CS:
The capture and disappearance of Coptic women and minor girls is a bane of the Coptic community in Egypt, yet little has been done to address this scourge by the Egyptian or foreign governments, NGOs, or international bodies. According to a priest in the Minya Governorate, at least 15 girls go missing every year in his area alone. His own daughter was nearly kidnapped had he not been able to intervene in time.
The report offers 13 separate case studies. Victims range from teenage girls, to newly-wed and pregnant young women, to married women with children. Most of the 500 disappeared in one of two ways: either they were publicly kidnapped, often by being forced into a car while traveling to school, church, or work; or—and this is especially true for teenage girls—they were lured into relationships with young Muslim men who promised them the world, until, that is, it was too late.
According to a former Egyptian trafficker, “one of the strategies they used to gain the girls’ trust was for the kidnapper, a Muslim man, to tell the Christian girl he loved her and wanted to convert to Christianity for her. They start a romantic relationship until, one day, they decide to ‘escape’ together. What the girls don’t know is that they are actually being kidnapped. Most of the time they will not marry their kidnapper, but someone else.”
The same repentant trafficker shared another story: “I remember a Coptic Christian girl from a rich, well-known family in Minya. She was kidnapped by five Muslim men. They held her in a house, stripped her and filmed her naked. In the video, one of them also undressed. They threatened to make the video public if the girl wouldn’t marry him.” He continues:
Salafist networks began in the seventies and it’s reached its highest levels now, in the era of President Sisi… A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls]…. The kidnappers receive large amounts of money. Police can help them in different ways, and when they do, they might also receive a part of the financial reward the kidnappers are paid by the Islamisation organisations. In some cases, police provide the kidnappers with drugs they seize. The drugs are then given to the girls to weaken their resistance as they put them under pressure. I even know of cases in which police offered help to beat up the girls to make them recite the Islamic creed. And the value of the reward increases whenever the girl has a position. For example, when she is the daughter of a priest or comes from a well-known family…. The Salafist group I knew rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic. There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly they change their ID…. If all goes to plan, the girls are also forced into marriage with a strict Muslim. Their husbands don’t love them, they just marry her to make her a Muslim. She will be hit and humiliated. And if she tries to escape, or convert back to her original religion, she will be killed.
Other tactics “include utilizing or planting Muslim female neighbors, colleagues, coworkers or friends to invite Coptic women to their home or travel across town during which time they are kidnapped by the groups who organized with the known female.”
Unfortunately, these kidnapping “networks are often supported by like-minded members (including high-ranking officials) of the police, national security and local administrations,” adds the report. “Their roles include refusal to lodge official complaints by the victims’ families, falsifying police investigations, organizing the formal sessions of conversion to Islam at Al-Azhar, or harassing families into silence and acceptance of the de facto trafficking of their loved ones.”
Why so many officials help in the abduction and forced conversion of Christian girls and women—or at the very least look the other way—“can be traced back to the second article of the Egyptian Constitution.” Its states that “Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.”
While there is no formal apostasy law in the Egyptian judiciary system, “as a matter of fact, it is prohibited for anyone wishing to convert away from Islam,” notes the report. Meanwhile, “conversion to Islam is always accepted and encouraged” without any fuss. “Based on shari‘a law,” then, the “obvious problem for kidnapped Coptic women and girls who are forcibly converted is that they are nearly always denied the autonomy to choose their faith or to return to their faith once forcibly converted.”
Such sharia stipulations undermine parental guidance of minors in other ways: Although Egyptian minors (aged 18 or under) cannot marry without parental consent, “a minor is allowed to formally convert to Islam, after which another (Muslim) custodian is assigned to approve a marriage. This effectively allows Muslim men to strip Copts of their parental rights and Coptic girls of their constitutional protections…”
Moreover, if a married Christian woman “converts to Islam, courts immediately annul her existing marriage (unless the husband agrees to convert likewise) and the woman becomes free to marry a Muslim man. (Needless to say, a vice versa scenario—a married Muslim woman trying to convert and marry a Coptic man—in no way invalidates her Muslim marriage.)”
Whenever asked or put on the spot regarding the abduction or disappearance of Christian girls, the government’s response, to quote Laila Baha’ Eldin, Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights of Egypt, is that “All reported cases of abduction had been investigated…. In most cases, it was about young women falling in love with someone from a different denomination.”
But as the report explains, “this defense … does not acknowledge or protect the ongoing rights of Coptic females”:
Regardless if a women is kidnapped from her home or in public, or if she agrees to elope and then discovers she has been tricked and wishes to leave, the elements of trafficking in persons and crimes against children are all still applicable. A woman in Egypt should have the right at any time to seek safety, have the right of movement, right of freedom of conscience and belief, and the right to change her views during her lifetime.
According to its mission statement, Coptic Solidarity works “to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt.” Since its establishment in 2010, CS has been at the forefront of reporting and advocating for Egypt’s trafficked Christian women and girls. In 2011, its president, Caroline Doss, testified at a Congressional hearing titled “Minority at Risk: Coptic Christians in Egypt” (broadcast by and available on C-SPAN)
Perhaps the most salient paragraph of its report follows:
The rampant trafficking of Coptic women and girls is a direct violation of their most basic rights to safety, freedom of movement, and freedom of conscience and belief. The crimes committed against these women must be urgently addressed by the Egyptian government, ending impunity for kidnappers, their accomplices, and police who refuse to perform their duties. Women who disappear and are never recovered must live an unimaginable nightmare. The large majority of these women are never reunited with their families or friends because police response in Egypt is dismissive and corrupt. There are countless families who report that police have either been complicit in the kidnapping or at the very least bribed into silence. If there is any hope for Coptic women in Egypt to have a merely ‘primitive’ level of equality, these incidents of trafficking must cease, and the perpetrators must be held accountable by the judiciary.
(Morning Star News) – A 16-year-old girl, a father of nine children and a church pastor were among 11 Christians killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen this week in southern Kaduna state, sources said.
On Tuesday (Aug. 18) in Zangon Kataf County, herdsmen attacked Unguwan Gankon village, killing a 16-year-old student, Takama Paul, and another Christian, 30-year-old Kefas Malachy Bobai, a father of three children, Luka Binniyat of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) said.
“Armed Fulani militia invaded Unguwan Gankon village in Gora Ward, Zangon Kataf LGA, and killed two persons and burned seven houses,” Binniyat said in a press statement. “Wary neighbors, however, came to the rescue, and the murderers fled.”
On Monday (Aug. 17) in Kajuru County, he said, herdsmen killed a Christian farmer and father of nine, Bulus Joseph, 48. His wife and three of his children were also attacked but survived, he said.
“Bulus Joseph was murdered gruesomely on his farm at Sabon Gida Idon, along the Kaduna-Kachia road, by armed Fulani militia,” Binniyat said. “He stood up to the killers so that his wife and three children could escape, which they did. But he paid the price with his life, as he was sub-humanly butchered by the cold-blooded murderers.”
Four Christians killed in an attack on a vehicle on Sunday, Aug. 16, (not Monday as previously reported) included a pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), according to SOKAPU.
The Rev. Adalchi Usman, pastor of an ECWA congregation in Unguwan Madaki village in Kajuru County, was shot dead in an ambush on him and three other Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen as they were traveling out of the community, Binniyat said.
Also slain were Christians Mariah Na’Allah of Unguwan Madaki village, Shekari of Unguwan Ali, originally from Anchuna village in Zangon Kataf County, and Ezekiel Maikasa of Gadanaji in Kajuru County, he said.
“Pastor Adalchi Usman, 39, and a father of two, was ambushed while in a commercial vehicle he had boarded with three others,” Binniyat said. “The killers came from the bush and just started shooting at the car. The driver of the vehicle, Danlami Dariya, was abducted and at the time of releasing this statement his whereabouts were still unknown.”
Binniyat confirmed a previous report to Morning Star News from a Bugai village area resident of a herdsmen attack on the community on Sunday (Aug. 16).
Armed Fulani militia attacked the village near Banikanwa, Kachia County, killing village head Dan’azumi Musa, 67; his mother, Kande Musa, 97; and his siblings Aniya Musa, 60, and Angelina Irmiya, 45, Binniyat said.
Six others sustained serious injuries, he said: John Dan’azumi, Danbuzu Anita, Blessing Soja, Patricia Anita, Precious Friday and Mercy Yohana.
“Part of the village was burnt after the attackers looted the village,” he said. “This is to further show that the siege on southern Kaduna communities is still ongoing. The genocide is still much on. For southern Kaduna, the past five years that Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has been governor, it has been a grim horror tale of blood, destruction, and hopelessness which we shall never forget.”
Enoch Barde, a resident of Abashiya village in Kaduna state’s Kachia County, told Morning Star News that the corpse of Godwin Jonathan Bakoshi, a village Christian who was kidnapped on July 29, was recovered by Christians on Monday (Aug. 17).
Bakoshi, 23, had gone to a farm with two of his brothers and the 12-year-old son of a local ECWA pastor when armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked them on July 29, Barde said in a text message to Morning Star News. Bakoshi was taken captive and killed, but the other three escaped, he said.
“The two brothers who escaped were able to return to the village the following morning after sleeping in the bush,” Barde said. “The third escapee [12-year-old’s name withheld for security reasons] only returned to the village after wandering in the bush for three days and told us that while he was hidden, he heard the gunshot sound when Godwin Jonathan Bakoshi was killed by the Fulani herdsmen.”
Binnayat said that 50,000 Christians have been displaced from 109 villages now occupied by armed Fulani herdsmen in Kachia, Kajuru, Chikun and Kaura counties, all in southern Kaduna state.
“Indigenous rural, Christian communities of southern Kaduna have been sacked by rampaging armed Fulani militia and displaced to various communities and Internally Displaced Persons camps,” he said. “These villages are now under the full occupation of Fulani some for over a year.”
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.
“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
In January, Christian Solidarity International issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.
(Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in northwest Nigeria killed 12 Christians and kidnapped a couple from their church wedding ceremony in attacks this month, sources said.
In Tegina Kabata village in Niger state’s Shiroro County, herdsmen attacked a church site where a wedding was taking place on April 12, abducting the couple and some church members, area resident Danjuma Iliya told Morning Star News.
“As the pastor was officiating during the wedding solemnization, the herdsmen stormed the church and took away everyone who was unable to escape from the church building, including the bride and groom,” Iliya said. “In that village, five Christians were killed in the series of attacks carried out by the herdsmen.”
Two other Christians were killed by herdsmen in Niger state’s Gidigori village, Kusherki District, in Rafi County, on April 20, area resident James Ayuba said. They were two of seven Christians killed in three herdsmen attacks over five days in Rafi County, he said.
Others were injured in herdsmen attacks in the county’s Madaka and Sabon Gari villages on April 20-21, he said.
Church Elder Abducted
Also in Niger state, five missionaries kidnapped on March 2 were released on April 22, sources said. In a short statement on April 22 that gave no details, leaders of Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) expressed joy that their missionaries had just been released
“Please rejoice with us as the remaining five of our missionaries kidnapped in Kamuku Field, Niger state 52 days ago are now safely back to freedom,” the statement read.
The missionaries were abducted when armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen on March 2 raided a school in Maruba, Shiroro County, run by CAPRO.
The announcement came the same day that a church elder in north-central Nigeria’s Kaduna state had been kidnapped. Armed Fulani herdsmen abducted Emmanuel Iliya Agiya, elder and treasurer of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Atang village, Jema’a County on April 22, area resident Aku Joshua Shai told Morning Star News by phone.
After shooting into the air to send villagers scampering into the bushes, the herdsmen broke into Iliya’s house that night and took him away at gunpoint, he said.
“The armed herdsmen first tried to forcefully gain entry into the house of the brother of the victim but were unsuccessful,” Shai said. “They then proceeded to the next house, the victim’s house, dragged him out, and then took him away at gunpoint.”
Iliya is son of community leader Chief Iliya Agiya, Shai added.
Also in Kaduna state’s Jema’a County, armed Fulani herdsmen on April 14 attacked Zakkan village, killing one Christian and wounding two others, Shai said.
Abel Danjuma, 40, was killed, and his two brothers, 45-year-old Henry Tuta, 50-year-old Chairman Tuta were injured. Henry Tuta was treated and discharged from Kafanchan General Hospital, while Chairman Tuta’s serious injuries required that he be transferred to Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Shai said.
“The three victims are members of the Catholic Church at Zakkan village,” he said. “The herdsmen, too, blocked the Abuja-Jos route at Zakkan village and kidnapped two young girls who were traveling from Abuja to Taraba state. The girls were later rescued and set free by Christians from Zakkan village who went in pursuit of the herdsmen and rescued the girls.”
On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.
(Morning Star News) – A day before the Kaduna governor said kidnappers terrorizing the state are working with Boko Haram, Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Thursday (Oct. 3) kidnapped six teenage girls and two staff members from a Christian-run high school in north-central Nigeria, sources said.
Suspected to be herdsmen who have carried out numerous kidnappings and attacks in southern Kaduna state, the armed Fulani at 12:20 a.m. invaded Engravers’ College in Kakau Daji village, in Chikun County Local Government Area near Kaduna city, as students and staff members fled into the bushes, the sources said. The eight victims were taken away at gunpoint.
Kaduna Gov. Nasir el-Rufai told media on Friday (Oct. 4) that “bandits,” the term used by officials and Nigerian media wary of connecting the kidnappings to their fellow tribal Fulani, are working alongside elements of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
“We have been receiving intelligence some three months ago that the bandits have connected with some elements of Boko Haram, and they will be targeting schools to kidnap children because they know that that is what makes the news,” El-Rufai said.
Shunom Giwa, vice principal of Engravers’ College, said that five armed herdsmen appeared at the door of his house and spoke with each other in the Fulani language.
“They asked me to lie down, and I did as instructed,” Giwa told Morning Star News by phone. “They then attempted to enter my bedroom and, fully aware that my wife and children were inside, I stood up to distract them, but they asked me to lie down again, which I did.”
A few minutes later, he said, another set of the armed Fulani herdsmen appeared at his house with Joel Adamu, the school’s vice principal academics, and they ordered his colleague to lie on the floor beside him.
“When I discovered that their attention was on my colleague, I just ran into the bush, and on realizing I was escaping, they shot at me, but fortunately they didn’t get me,” Giwa told Morning Star News. “They searched for me without success, and when they couldn’t get me, they started looking for where the students were.”
As the assailants went to the school hostel and forced the door open, Giwa tried to distract them by shouting, “Police, JTF [Joint Task Force] security come, there are kidnappers here!” he said. “On hearing me shouting, they began to shoot at to my direction again. I then ran and jumped over the fence and ran out of the school.”
He remained hiding behind the fence until the sound of barking dogs signaled to him that the assailants must be leaving, he said. He headed toward a school official’s house where female students had gathered after hearing gunshots.
“When we recovered from the shock of what was happening, we started doing a head count to know which students were missing,” Giwa said. “We found that Joel Adamu, the vice principal of academics, the house mistress and six female students were abducted.”
The school, which is open to both Christian and non-Christian students, has a secular curriculum in accordance with Nigeria’s Ministry of Education but includes a Christian perspective, and students take Christian Religious Knowledge as a subject, an official told Morning Star News.
The school has a student population of 100, with rampant insecurity in the state compelling some parents to withdraw their children from the school, Giwa said.
The kidnappers have contacted school officials with their demands for ransom, he said. Initially they demanded 30 million naira (US$82,327) per student before negotiating lower, according to local reports.
“We are trusting God for the protection of the captives and hoping they would be released without being hurt,” Giwa said.
The 15-year-old daughter of Julde Juli was among the abducted students.
“I was shocked on receiving the news of the kidnapping of my daughter and other students,” he told Morning Star News. “I just pray that nothing happens to them, and that they come out alive. I trust that our God is sovereign over all things. We are trusting that through divine intervention our children would be rescued.”
The high school has suspended classes, school Director Samuel Amamchukwu told Morning Star News in a text message.
“We can’t continue with academic activities while the six students and two staff are in captivity,” he said.
Remaining students have returned to their parents, he said.
The village lies in the kidnapping belt of the state and is on the route to Kwanti village, where Morning Star News last year reported the displacement of many Christians due to kidnappings by armed Fulani Herdsmen, according to area residents.
Kaduna State Police Command spokesman Yakubu Sabo said authorities are making efforts to rescue the captives.
“The Command immediately mobilized combined teams of anti-kidnapping, SARS, and conventional police to the area for possible rescue of the victims and arresting the perpetrators of the unfortunate incident,” he said.
Kaduna state Commissioner for Information, Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan said in a statement on Friday (Oct. 4) that Gov. El-Rufai has dispatched a government delegation to sympathize with the school community and assure them that security agencies are working to rescue those abducted.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen this month kidnapped and killed a pastor’s wife in north-central Nigeria’s Kaduna state three days after suspected herdsmen killed a Baptist pastor in another part of the state, sources said.
Unaware that Esther Ishaku Katung had been killed after being kidnapped in Bagoma, 122 kilometers (75 miles) west of Kaduna City on Sept. 14, her family paid a 250,000 naira (US$690) ransom before discovering her body, said the Rev. Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Her husband, the Rev. Ishaku Katung of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation in Bagoma, escaped but was wounded by gunfire when the herdsmen broke into their home on church premises at 11:30 p.m. as they slept, Pastor Hayab said.
“Information we got from some of the kidnapped victims who escaped from the herdsmen’s enclave shows that Esther Katung and two other victims had escaped from the herdsmen’s captivity, but she was recaptured by them,” Pastor Hayab told Morning Star News. “She attempted to escape with two others after they were kidnapped by the herdsmen; this infuriated the herdsmen, leading them to kill her. They broke her legs in order to prevent her from escaping and smashed her head too. This led to her death.”
The kidnappers dumped her corpse in the bush, he said.
“After they had killed her, they were still demanding the ransom without telling her family that they had killed her,” Pastor Hayab said. “It was only after the ransom was paid that it was found by her family that she had been killed by her abductors.”
Baptist Pastor Slain
In Jema’a County about 230 kilometers (142 miles) south of Kaduna City, suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot a Baptist pastor dead on Sept. 11, sources said.
The Rev. Alhamdu Mangadus, pastor of Nasara Baptist Church in Asso, was killed while working on his farm at about 1 p.m., said the Rev. Danladi Boyis Hassan of the ECWA church in the Ungwan Kadara area of Kaduna City.
Given the high level of killings and kidnappings by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in southern Kaduna in recent years, Christian leaders suspect herdsmen killed the pastor. Pastor Hassan, a native of the slain pastor’s village, visited the area after the killing and was told that the assailants were Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
“Pray along with the church and family as they mourn the barbaric act by Fulani terrorists,” Pastor Hassan told Morning Star News.
Pastor Hayab of the CAN also said Fulani herdsmen were behind the killing.
“He was shot dead on his farm, and the attackers injured another fellow from Tanda,” he said. “The corpse of the pastor was taken away by the Fulani herdsmen but was eventually recovered in the bush after a frantic search by our brethren in the area.”
Pastor Hayab said the killing of the pastor was one too many for Christians in violence-wracked Kaduna state.
“We are going back to the era of senseless killings. When will people be safe to go out and seek food to feed their families?” he said.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Please keep these suffering brothers an sisters in your prayers.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Baptist pastor kidnapped and tortured last month in Nigeria was released over the weekend after his family and Christian leaders paid a ransom, sources said.
Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state who abducted the Rev. Elisha Noma on Aug. 14 received 3 million naira (US$8,181) before freeing him on Saturday (Aug. 31), the chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) told Morning Star News.
“He was released after a ransom was paid following a series of negotiations with the bandits on the ransom,” the Rev. Joseph Hayab told Morning Star News in a text message. “We thank God for his mercies. We pray for God’s intervention in the calamity that seems to have befallen us as a nation.”
Pastor Noma, 60, of the Baptist Church Ungwan Makeri in Kaduna, identified the kidnappers as armed herdsmen. After his release, he received medical treatment for injuries while in captivity.
His left hand was broken, and his captors switched on their phone to let his family hear him cry in pain as they beat, cut and burned him to compel them to pay the ransom, according to CAN. He was left with scars from burns on his head and face.
In August alone, more than 40 pastors in Nigeria were either kidnapped or suffered some form of violence from herdsmen or Boko Haram terrorists, according to figures obtained from CAN.
“We will also continue to call on the government and the security agencies to do everything within their powers to stop the increasing spate of criminality across the country, especially the increasing wave of kidnappings in Kaduna state,” Pastor Hayab told Morning Star News.
James Kantiyok, a deacon at the kidnapped pastor’s church, expressed joy over his release in spite of mistreatment while in captivity.
“We can’t hold back our joy for his freedom, despite all he went through,” Kantihok told Morning Star News. “Let’s all pray for his total recovery as he is currently receiving medical treatment. We thank you all for praying with the family and the church.”
About 20 Muslim Fulani herdsmen kidnapped Pastor Noma and his son, Emmanual Noma, after storming their home at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 14. They released the pastor’s son a few hours later with a demand to raise 20 million naira (US$55,155) in ransom.
The kidnappers later lowered the demand to 7 million naira (US$19,304), Pastor Hayap told Morning Star News at that time.
In the city of Kaduna on Aug. 4, Fulani herdsmen killed pastor Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the Romi New Extension area of the city and kidnapped his wife, a church source told Morning Star News. Attacked along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on their way to Abuja, he was killed when the herdsmen shot at their car after the pastor finished leading three services at his church, the source said.
Pastor Omolewa’s wife was released after the church paid 3 million naira (US$8,273) to the herdsmen as ransom, the source said. A press statement from the church reported that the ransom was paid after negotiations with the herdsmen brought the amount down from 10 million naira (US$27,577). She was released on the Aug. 8 at about 10 p.m.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
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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Please pray for Pakistani Christians
Thousands of Christian civilians sought refuge at an airport guarded by French soldiers yesterday, fleeing from the mostly Muslim ex-rebels with machetes and guns who now rule the country.
A day after the worst violence to hit the chaotic capital in nine months erupted, people sang with joy as they banged on plastic buckets and waved rags into the air in celebration of the arrival of several French helicopters.
Outside the barbed-wire fences of the airport, bodies lay decomposing along the roads in a capital too dangerous for many to collect the corpses. Thursday’s clashes left at least 280 dead, according to national radio, and have raised fears that waves of retaliatory attacks could soon follow.
“They are slaughtering us like chickens,” said Appolinaire Donoboy, a Christian whose family remained in hiding.
France had pledged to increase its presence in its former colony well before Christian militias attacked the capital at dawn Thursday. The arrival of additional French troops and equipment came as the capital teetered on the brink of total anarchy and represented the greatest hope for many Central Africans.
About 1,000 French forces were expected to be on the ground by last evening, a French defense official said on condition of anonymity.
As night fell across the capital, Christians fearing retaliatory attacks by the mostly Muslim ex-rebels crowded as close to the runway as possible, laying out their woven mats in front of a barbed-wire coiled fence.
The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence and praised France’s quick intervention.
France signaled its amped-up presence yesterday by sending out armored vehicles to patrol the streets. A French fighter jet made several flyovers, roaring through the sky over an otherwise lifeless capital as civilians cowered at home. Britain also flew in a C-17 plane loaded with equipment to help with France’s intervention.
As many as 250 French troops are carrying out permanent patrols in Bangui, and “we didn’t notice any direct clashes between armed groups today,” said French military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron in Paris.
On Thursday, however, 10 armed attackers in a pickup truck fired on a French position at the airport, including with a rocket-propelled grenade whose charge did not detonate. French forces returned fire, killing four attackers and wounding six, Jaron said.
A planned vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution Thursday allowed France to proceed with its mission. It coincided with the worst violence to roil the capital since March, when the mostly Muslim rebels known as Seleka overthrew the president of a decade.
On Thursday, Christian militias believed to be loyal to ousted leader Francois Bozize attacked the city, and hours of gunbattles ensued. The conflict in one of Africa’s poorest countries has gathered little sustained international attention since the government overthrow in March, and the dramatic developments were overshadowed yesterday by global mourning for South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, who died at 95.
“Thanks to France and the United Nations who want to save the Central Africans; soon, the Seleka attacks on civilians will stop,” said Abel Nguerefara, who lives on the outskirts of Bangui.
Streets were empty yesterday except for military vehicles and the trucks favored by rebels, who now claim control of the government. Nine unclaimed bodies lay sprawled in front of the parliament building alone — local Red Cross workers didn’t dare retrieve them or other bodies that were left out to decay.
Despite the cheers that went up when a jet engine roared overhead, France insisted it was going only reluctantly into the country and with the limited aim of doubling its presence to 1,200 troops.
Still, it remains an open question how France can achieve even its limited goals in the six months allotted to the mission.
The growing oppression of Christians in Africa has been a long ongoing scene. Villages are destroyed, their homes and churches burned down, women and children kidnapped and taken as slaves. Rape, torture and brutal slaughter are widely reported. As the violence continues to escalate without an end in sight, Christians have grown weary of the constant attacks and now feel they must defend themselves. Armed Christian forces are fighting back. If the government cannot curtail the aggression from Muslim extremists, we fear many more will be killed in the clashes and add to the suffering.