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The Armenian Weekly – “A delegation of priest from the Catholicosate of Cilicia who had visited Latakia to assess the needs of Kessab Armenians and express solidarity returned to Antelias after the Sunday Badarak.
According to the delegation, the local Armenian community, the International Red Cross, and the Red Crescent are providing assistance to those who have sought refuge in the city. An estimated 2,000 Kessab Armenians are currently in Latakia.
‘Many Armenian families are staying with relatives and friends, while others have sought refuge in the Armenian Church and the church’s hall,’ said Syrian Armenian community activist Nerses Sarkissian during a phone interview with Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian.
‘The Aleppo Armenian Prelacy as well as the Red Crescent are providing relief and assistance to these families in Latakia,’ Sarkissian added.
Extremist fighters engage in robbery and desecration
The fighters, mostly from the extremist Nusra Front, who have entered Kessab are desecrating churches, pillaging houses, and destroying government buildings, Sarkissian told the Weekly. A few Syrian Armenians have been unable to leave Kessab, and their fate is unclear, he added.
Sarkissian underlined that the fighters came from the Turkish side of the border and are receiving support from the Turkish military. He noted that the injured among them are being transported back to Turkey to receive medical attention…
Perched in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, evaded major battles between the army and rebels. Many Syrians had taken refuge there because of the relative calm in the area over the past three years.” Read more.
Watch: American Pastor Saeed Imprisoned in Iran – why the petitions make a difference
Kashmir-Mob tries to lynch 12 Christian Tourist
Srinagar (AsiaNews) – On the basis of false allegations of forced conversions, more and more Christians in Kashmir are victims of persecution. This according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after the attempted assault on a group of 12 foreign tourists, accused via Facebook of practicing forced conversions in Tangmarg area north of Jammu and Kashmir. The incident occurred late in the evening of 2 February. Around 10 pm a crowd of people gathered in front of a hotel in Srinagar, the capital, throwing stones against the walls and asking for the immediate trial of foreigners, eight Americans and four Koreans. Intervening on the spot, the police searched luggage and documents of the tourists. On finding nothing, the officers dispersed the protesters. When checking their passports, the police reported that the group has also visited other Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. The violent reaction was triggered by a photo published on the Facebook page Gulmarg News. The image shows three oriental girls, while the caption warns, “Caution Kashmir! Islam in Kashmir is under attack, Christians trying to convert Muslims,” recounting the testimony of a boy, who in exchange for chocolate would have been forced to recant Islam and convert to Christianity. READ MORE
Increasing Target Killing of Innocent Christians in Pakistan
Recently target killing has been growing increasingly in Karachi in which two guiltless Christians lost their lives, last month. They were crossing the road in the middle of a protest which was going on against the killing of one of their campaigners by an Islamic Fundamental Group. The campaigner of this political party became a victim of target killing along with his 3 security guards. Thus, we can say that even the political leaders are not safe in our City which been a threat for its citizens because of its current situations. Last year, more than 2000 people were killed in Karachi due to target killing. (Gill, 2013) SOURCE Please Pray for Pakistan!
Christian Man Cries for Justice After Being Fired For His Faith In Christ!
On4 February 2013, Mr.Riaz visited the Chief of LEAD and told of the mishap of being fired from his job on false allegations mentioned in the charge sheet against him. He gave all written evidences to the respective department regarding his innocence, but his appeal and legal right was not being considered and a decision and action was unjustly taken against him. He said that the alleged charge of misconduct was false and his dismissal was based on religious prejudice. READ MORE
Orissa: Hindu extremists have Christians arrested on false accusations of proselytism
by Nirmala Carvalho Since 18 January, two faithful are in prison, following a police raid on a private home. The raid resulted from trumped up charges of local fundamentalists. “Political” pressure preventing their release on bail. Christian activist: project for state “Hinduisation” underway. READ MORE
Christian man mortally wounded in Baluchistan for refusing to convert to Islam
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Younas Masih died this afternoon after he was shot five times last Thursday as he made his way home. An unknown gunman fired at the 55-year-old Christian man. From the beginning, his conditions appeared critical. It is believed he was attacked after he resisted pressures from co-workers to convert to Islam. Masih worked for a company in Chaman. His friends describe him as honest and reliable. Strong in his Christian faith, he was regularly involved in his local parish. Speaking anonymously, local sources told AsiaNews that Muslim co-workers had began pressuring him to convert, which he rejected, standing firm in his beliefs in Christ. Despite the fact that people were talking behind his back and had made repeated threats against him, he continued to work for the same company and stood firm against pressures and attempts at blackmail. Last Thursday, his co-workers tried again, asking him to convert. A heated discussion followed that included insults and threats. When he went home Masih was attacked by a gunman who fired five bullets into him. READ MORE
Young Christian girl raped by Muslim Landlord
Pakistan-The females members of minorities are routinely subjected to abduction, rape and forcible marriage by Muslim men while culprits remain scot-free. Legal Evangelical Association Development reports: A Christian minor girl, Fouzia bibi, 15 from a small village of Roday, Dristrict Kasur, in Punjab Province of Pakistan became victim of rape by local influential Muslim men. READ MORE
Ugandan Pastor Arrested, Chained to Tree by Police For Giving Away Gospel Film on Street
Uganda, Africa – A Ugandan pastor reports that he was arrested and chained to a tree last weekend for distributing a Gospel film outside one of the largest megachurches in the nation. Pastor Bill Issa of Reconcilation Outreach Ministries states that he and a team of five Christians set out last Saturday to distribute copies of the film The Biggest Question at Miracle Center Cathedral in Kampala when they were met with opposition from police. They had just finished up a distribution at St. Lawrence University where approximately 300 students received copies of the Gospel film, which features Kirk Cameron, Todd Friel and RW Glenn sharing about matters of life and eternity. Issa serves as the Ugandan team leader for the global The Biggest Question distribution effort, headed up by Friel’s Wretched outreach in Minnesota. READ MORE
Yemen’s Forgotten Christians
When one thinks of Yemen—the impoverished Arab country that begat Osama bin Laden and is cushioned between Saudi Arabia and Somalia, two of the absolute most radical Muslim nations—one seldom thinks of Christians, primarily because they are practically nonexistent in such an inhospitable environment. In fact, most tallies suggest that Yemen’s entire non-Muslim population is less than one percent. READ MORE
Cuba: Pastor Gude Perez and family arrive in the United States as refugees 01/02/2013
Pastor Omar Gude Perez, his wife Kenia Denis and their two children arrived in the United States as refugees yesterday. They were finally granted permission by Cuban emigration authorities to leave the island following an 18-month wait for the appropriate paperwork. Family blocked from leaving Cuba for 18 months Former prisoner of conscience Pastor Gude Perez and his family were granted asylum by the United States in July 2011 after he was barred from working as a pastor and following a campaign of official harassment lasting a number of years. Despite multiple verbal promises on the part of government officials, the family was blocked from leaving the country for 18 months. State security officials contacted Pastor Gude Perez on 14 November following his wife’s high profile visit to Washington DC, facilitated by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), during which she highlighted their case. He received a citation to present himself a police station the following day in Havana in order to sign a series of documents that they assured him would allow him to leave the country. There were no further developments until mid-January when state security officials contacted the family to inform them that an exit permit had been issued. READ MORE
Iraq, #4 on the World Watch List. Watch the video to learn more on how you can be praying for this country.
All eyes on Kenya as elections approach
Kenya (ODM/MNN) ― Kenya is at a crossroads. On March 4th, voters will decide the president, senators, county governors, members of Parliament, civic wards, and women county representatives. What makes this election unique, says the Open Doors coordinator for the region, is that “these are the first elections under the new constitution with its very many new structures.” However, recent memories of 2007 and the deadly rioting cast a shadow of concern over the impending vote. The tensions are heightened especially after the setup of a tribunal was blocked by politicians in Kenya, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to prosecute six politicians. Charges against two were dropped, while two of the remaining four are running in the elections: one for president and the other as his running mate. Some reports of violence have already surfaced. Al-Shabaab influences have been growing in the region, triggering political instability and fears that religious freedom hangs in the balance. Additionally, Open Doors reports that the pressure on the government allowing for greater official influence for Islam remains a high priority. READ MORE
- Pray for safety for the Open Doors team working in tense areas.
- Pray that the process will go forward peacefully.
- Pray that God gives the new president wisdom.
Syria refugees surpass 700,000; deaths, 60,000
NASHVILLE (BP) -Refugees keep streaming from Syria as a cycle of violence and revenge threatens to destroy their homeland, and even the United Nations cannot keep up with the “unrelenting flow,” a Southern Baptist humanitarian leader said. Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response, said the number of refugees has topped 700,000 and the death toll has surpassed 60,000 in the 22-month conflict. Families who thought they would be able to outlast the fighting are giving up and fleeing the country as reports of atrocities like the recent discovery of another mass grave in Aleppo continue to mount. The fragmentation of regime and opposition forces has thrown the entire situation into doubt, Palmer told Mission Network News, an evangelical news service based in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I wish I could point out who’s the bad guy, who’s the good guy, but that’s the problem. That’s why a lot of people are fleeing. Nobody knows who’s who,” Palmer said. “It’s just literally chaos, fear for safety, fear for their children, fear for their families and future. “A lot of time it’s women and children coming out and more and more, it’s the men too because they’ve got to protect their families,” Palmer said. READ MORE
Persecution in China climbs for 7th year
WASHINGTON (BP) – Government persecution of Christians in China increased in 2012 for the seventh consecutive year, ChinaAid reported Feb. 4, with the government especially moving to eradicate house churches. Data collected by ChinaAid in 2012 showed a 125 percent increase in sentencings and a 41.9 percent increase in incidences of persecution over 2011, according to the religious liberty group’s 2012 annual report. Specifically, a total of 132 cases of persecution across China targeted 4,919 individuals, including 442 clergy; the detaining of 1,441, including 236 clergy; and the sentencing of nine people. In 2011, ChinaAid reported 93 cases of persecution, involving 4,322 individuals, 337 of them clergy; the detaining of 1,289 individuals, including 267 church leaders; and the sentencing of four individuals.
“Compared with the statistics in ChinaAid’s past annual reports, this trend of worsening persecution has persisted for the past seven years,” the report said, “with an average increase of 24.5 percent in the total of all six categories of persecution statistics tracked by ChinaAid.”
A secret Chinese government document issued in September 2011, which was released by ChinaAid, verified the focus on eradicating the house church, as did the number of incidences reported. READ MORE
Nigeria: Walking Corpses
VOM workers say Christians in northern Nigeria are facing unprecedented trials and fierce persecution. It was therefore a special privilege for VOM workers to distribute the gift of 37 bicycles, 15 motorcycles and 50 megaphones to pastors and Christians workers in the north recently. These simple tools will help them evangelize and preach the gospel in northern Nigeria. At a distribution in Gombe state, one of the hardest hit areas in the north, at least 2,500 Christians gathered for a worship service. Widows, orphans, pastors and entire families from all over Gombe came together to hear a pastor preach about loving their neighbors. The pastor reminded worshipers that they must not hate their attackers and that martyrs like Stephen forgave his attackers.
“At this point, I began to realize the weight of love,” a VOM worker at the distribution said. “This made everyone focus on the Lord’s intent and design for us, which surpasses all understanding.”
Christians are targeted and “butchered like animals” nearly every day in northern Nigerian cities, with little alarm sounded by the international community, according to the VOM worker. Christians are targeted in their homes, at their businesses, on farms, while traveling on highways and even in their churches. READ MORE
Over 500 Christian girls kidnapped by Muslims in Egypt since revolution
Country/Region: Egypt, Middle East and North Africa
Over 500 Christian girls have been abducted in Egypt since the revolution of January 2011; they are taken by Salafists who forcibly convert them to Islam and marry them to Muslim men against their will. The number of cases has been documented by the non-governmental Christian organisation Association of Victims of Abduction and Enforced Disappearance (AVAED), which says that Salafist sheiks are behind nearly all of the abductions and the interior ministry colludes with them. Founder Ebram Louis said:
In every Egyptian province there is a Salafist association which handles the kidnapping of Christian girls. They have homes everywhere where they keep them. If we inform the police where the kidnapped girl is being kept, they inform the Salafists, who then move her away to another home and then we lose all trace of her.
AVAED lawyer Said Fayez said that the age of the abducted girls is becoming younger at typically 13-14 years old.One case involves 14-year-old Sarah Ishaq Abdelmalek from el-Dabaa. She disappeared on her way to school on 30 September 2012, having stopped at a bookshop; Sarah’s father subsequently accused the Salafist bookshop keeper of abducting his daughter and marrying her against her will.Mr Louis said that Sarah was smuggled across the border to Libya with the help of the interior ministry. READ MORE
Dagestan Martyrs for Christ – Dagestan is the most dangerous place in Russia- George Thomas reports
Deliberate attacks on churches by rebels in Syria condemned as war crimes
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria: Human Rights Watch has condemned opposition groups in Syria for “unjustified attacks against minority places of worship”, saying that these amount to war crimes. The leading human rights organisation released on 23 January the findings of investigations it carried out in Latakia and Idlib governorates in November and December 2012. It found evidence that opposition fighters had “deliberately destroyed religious sites” and that the attacks had been carried out after the areas had fallen to opposition control and government forces had left. Churches were raided by armed gunmen after they seized control of the Christian villages of Jdeideh and Ghasaniyeh in Latakia. They took control of the former on 11 December and, once the government troops had fled, broke into the village church; they stole items and fired numerous shots inside, causing structural damage. The rebels also used the minister’s quarters next to the church to fire at a neighboring village, where government troops were present. One resident told Human Rights Watch that opposition fighters stole medicine from a church-run clinic, looted homes and kidnapped civilians. READ MORE
Sudan cracks down on Christian activity with arrests and school closures
The Sudanese authorities are cracking down on Christian activity in the strongly Islamic country with an upsurge of arrests and closures of Christian-run schools. Three Christians of South Sudanese origin were ordered last week to leave the country within 24 hours, following their detention. Pastor Ismail Bashir had been arrested on 7 January for his involvement with a Christian radio station. Cecilia Jamu was detained under suspicion of aiding Sudanese churches; her husband Anthony was also subsequently jailed, leaving their children in the care of friends. The three had to leave the country on 30 January. On 19 December, four members of staff at a non-profit organization that produces Christian songs and films were arrested and interrogated. They were released the following day. Over the past two months, dozens of foreign Christians have been ordered out of Sudan, and the government is refusing to renew the visas of many others. A Christian source in Khartoum said that the “atmosphere in Sudan is alarming and frightening”. READ MORE
News in brief: (BarnabusAid)
Cross carved into dead body of murdered Armenian woman
Turkey: An elderly Armenian woman has been stabbed to death in her home in Istanbul; a cross had been carved onto her body. The murder of 85-year-old Marissa Kucuk on 28 December is just one of five attacks on elderly Armenian women in the Samatya neighbourhood over the last two months. Samatya is home to around 8,000 Armenians, who are predominantly Christian. Khatchig Mouradian, an Armenian activist and academic, said, “The attacks highlight the unbearable heaviness of being Armenian in Turkey.” More than 1.5m Armenian and Assyrian Christians were killed during the Armenian genocide of 1894 to 1923.
Christian appeals against jail term for allegedly trying to convert a Muslim
Algeria: A Christian man who was sentenced to a year in prison for allegedly pressuring a Muslim to leave Islam has appealed against the conviction. Mohamed Ibaouene (36), himself a convert from Islam, was unknowingly convicted of the offence in his absence on 4 July 2012; he did not find out until 11 December. Mohamed had been accused by a Muslim colleague; he said that it was actually the Muslim who tried to pressure him to return to Islam and that he made the accusation only after Mohamed refused to renounce Christ. He was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 50,000 dinars (US$635). An appeal against the ruling was heard on 23 January; the decision is expected this week.
Christian woman facing jail after police seize religious materials from her home
Uzbekistan: The home of a Christian woman in north-west Uzbekistan was raided by police twice last month; she now faces up to three years in prison for illegally storing religious literature. Officers confiscated three Christian books, two DVDs of a Christian film and a sermon, and a video called “Life in the Church” in the first raid on Sharofat Allamova’s home in Urgench on 4 January. A further raid took place twelve days later; no religious materials were found on this occasion. In 2007, Sharofat was given a six-month suspended jail term after Christian books and films were found in her bag on a bus. And she was fined ten times the minimum monthly wage in May 2012 for possessing religious literature. Because she has previous convictions, Sharofat could now face a fine of between 100 and 200 times the minimum monthly wage or up to three years behind bars, if found guilty again.
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The mission of the Barnabas Aid is to support Christians where they are in a minority and suffer discrimination, oppression and persecution as a consequence of their faith. Our goal is to strengthen Christian individuals, churches and their communities by providing material and spiritual support in response to needs identified by local Christian leaders. To learn more about the work BarnabasAid is doing click here