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Muslim Extremists Rape Pastor in Eastern Uganda, Sources Say

(Morning Star News) – Muslim extremists raped a church pastor on Dec. 21 in eastern Uganda, sources said.

The female pastor, whose identity is withheld for her protection, was returning to her home in Kapyani, Kibuku District, from Christmas preparations at her church site at about 7 p.m. when someone near the swamps of Lake Kalyango asked her for help, she said.

“When I stopped,” the 50-year-old pastor told Morning Star News, “I was surprised to see people coming from the bush, and one of them shouted in the Arabic language, ‘Allah is greater – we have warned you several times to stop converting Muslims to Christianity. Today we shall teach you a lesson that you will not forget.’”

One of the assailants pulled out a handkerchief and covered her mouth, and she lost consciousness, she said. When she regained consciousness three hours later, she saw a motorcycle headlamp and shouted for help.

“To my surprise, I realized that he was a son of my sister who was coming back home for Christmas,” she said. “He saw blood on my torn skirt. He could not stop tears rolling from his cheeks, crying and shouting for help, and he took me to a nearby clinic for medical treatment at Kasasira.”

Doctors treated the pastor and took several tests, she said.

“I hope these Muslim rapists have not infected me with deadly diseases. I forgive them,” said the mother of five who was widowed five years ago.

Her children reported the assault to the chairperson and police of central Kapyani, she said.

Two months before, she said, a Muslim neighbor had complained to her, telling her, “I am warning you not to come to our home. My children are now singing some Christian songs. I know soon they will come to your church. We as Muslims have no relations with infidels.”

A member of her church, unidentified for security reasons, said she is traumatized.

“Sometimes she is quiet for about one hour,” the member said. “Her doctor said she needs a trauma counselor; she is having severe headache, swelling at her neck and severe pain in her private parts.”

The congregation member said that with prayer she will recover and soon return to serving her church. The pastor’s son requested prayer and financial help for medical bills and trauma counseling.

“I am hurt,” the pastor said tearfully from her hospital bed to a Morning Star News contact on Christmas Eve. “I will miss Christmas celebration with my church members.”

The assault was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Muslims Ambush, Kill Pastor after Radio Broadcast in Uganda

Mourners at burial of slain pastor David Omara in Aduka, Uganda on Wednesday (Nov. 4). (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Muslim extremists killed a pastor in northern Uganda on Saturday (Oct. 31) after he compared Christianity and Islam in a radio broadcast, sources said.

David Omara, 64-year-old pastor of Christian Church Center and a well-known radio preacher in the area, was beaten and strangled after finishing his broadcast in Aduku, Kwania District at about 9 p.m., according to his son, Simon Okut.

“Immediately after his preaching, someone telephoned my father appreciating his presentation,” Okut told Morning Star News by phone. “He then requested him to meet somewhere with some of his friends. We left the radio station. As we arrived at the said place, there came out of the bush six people dressed in Islamic attire, and they started strangling and beating my father with blunt objects.”

As they beat him, one of the assailants said, “This man ought to die for using the Koran and saying Allah is not God but an evil god collaborating with satanic powers,” Okut said. “As they were hitting my father with blunt objects and strangling him, I fled to save my life. Two attackers ran after me but could not get hold of me.”

Area residents were shocked and saddened by the murder, and church members were both fearful of further Islamist violence and sorrowful as they mourned at a tearful burial on Wednesday (Nov. 4).

“My mother wept and fainted and collapsed with deep groaning and is admitted in the hospital,” Okut said.

She was treated for shock that rendered her unconscious, he said. After Electroconvulsive therapy involving stimulation of the brain, she still did not recognize people, he added.

Associates lauded the many fruits of Pastor Omara’s ministry.

“He worked tirelessly for the kingdom of God to the day he breathed his last breath,” said one colleague.

Pastor Omara is survived by his wife and eight children ages 30, 26, 22, 20, 18, 15, 13 and 10.

“We need prayers and financial support for the Omara family at this trying moment, and the quick recovery for his widow,” a church leader told Morning Star News.

The killing was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Christian in Uganda Loses Children, Mother and Stepfather to Islamist Attack, Sources Say

Gaddafi National Mosque in Kampala, Uganda. (Wikipedia, Laika, ac)

(Morning Star News) – A 36-year-old Christian near Kampala, Uganda is mourning the deaths of his son, daughter, mother and stepfather, who were killed when Muslim extremists set their house ablaze seven weeks ago, sources said.

Before the radical Muslims set Ali Nakabale’s house on fire on Aug. 20 in Nakaseke, Nakaseke District about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Kampala, his wife and other area Muslims had become enraged that he and his mother had converted from Islam to Christianity, Nakabale said. He and his 56-year-old mother, Nankya Hamidah, had put their faith in Christ at an open-air evangelistic event in August 2018.

“I had just visited my aunt only to receive sad news of the burning of our house,” the distraught Nakabale told Morning Star News by phone. “Upon arriving home, I found the house destroyed by fire that burned my four family members, including my two children. On reaching the mortuary, I found their bodies burned beyond recognition.”

Killed along with Hamidah were Joseph Masembe, who had also left Islam to follow Christ and had married Hamidah in November 2018 after her husband’s death earlier that year; Nakabale’s 9-year-old daughter, Afsa Lawada; and his 6-year-old son, Yakubu Njabuga.

A neighbor told Morning Star News that he and others became aware of the fire at 1 a.m. on Aug. 20.

“We saw fire emanating from the house of Hamidah with loud chants from Muslims saying, ‘Allah Akbar [God is greater],’” said the neighbor on condition of anonymity. “Arriving at the scene of the incident, we found that the house had been razed down, killing the four family members.”

Nakabale said that the mosque leader of the Kyanja area of Nakaseke had written a letter to his stepfather, Masembe, stating, “It has come to our attention that since you got married to Hamidah, you have not been attending the mosque.”

“At this, then I realized that the Muslims were monitoring our movements,” Nakabale told Morning Star News.

Relatives first discovered the Christian faith of Nakabale and his family members in May, after he brought his young son to attend an evening worship service. The following day his son, Njabuga, told of his experience at the service to his mother, 32-year-old Sandra Nakamada. She became furious and began beating her son, Nakabale said.

“When my wife began beating my son, condemning his action of going to church, then I knew our visit to the evening prayers had leaked,” Nakabale said. “The same day my wife walked out of the marriage and left the home. We got scared because we knew that our lives were in danger. For three months, no Muslims visited our home.”

During that time, Nakabale’s mother Hamidah was caring for the two children, he said.

Nakabale, his mother and stepfather had been secretly attending the evening worship of an undisclosed church since December, without his wife and children. He said that in April his stepfather built a pork slaughterhouse near their homestead, leading area Muslims to question his presumed Islamic faith – and destroy the slaughterhouse, as pork is forbidden in Islam.

“It was on April 15 that the Muslims destroyed our slaughterhouse, following the incitement of the brother of Sheikh Jamada, claiming that Masembe was practicing prohibited acts,” Nakabale said.

Nakabale reported the deaths of his four family members to police, who have filed a case (No. SD: 32/21/08/2019) and are investigating, he said. Depressed and in mourning, he fears for his life and is living at an undisclosed location, a source said.

“Nakabale is depressed and is questioning God on the brutal deaths of his two little children,” said another source whose name is undisclosed for security reasons. “He needs counseling and prayers at this difficult moment.”

Also in central Uganda, in July a widow in was forced to flee her home after receiving Islamist threats when area Muslims discovered she was a Christian. Such incidents are the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

The Extinction of Christians in the Middle East

  • “I don’t believe in these two words [human rights], there are no human rights. But in Western countries, there are animal rights. In Australia they take care of frogs…. Look upon us as frogs, we’ll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mosul, National Catholic Register.
  • “Those people are the same ones who came here many years ago. And we accepted them. We are the original people in this land. We accepted them, we opened the doors for them, and they push us to be minorities in our land, then refugees in our land. And this will be with you if you don’t wake up.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus.
  • “Threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East. — Amin Maalouf, French-Lebanese author, Le Temps.

By Giulio Meotti (Gatestone Institute) Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the “choice” the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq’s third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word “Nasrani” (“Nazarene,” or “Christian”) . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.

Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in “cleansing” the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had “Christmas celebrations without Christians“.

This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing “Islamophobic” than defending their own brothers, sadly worked. Father Ragheed Ganni, for instance, a Catholic priest from Mosul, had just finished celebrating mass in his church when Islamists killed him. In one of his last letters, Ganni wrote: “We are on the verge of collapse”. That was in 2007 — almost ten years before ISIS eradicated the Christians of Mosul. “Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?” the Washington Post asked. Definitely.

Traces of a lost Jewish past have also resurfaced in Mosul, where a Jewish community had also lived for thousands of years. Now, 2,000 years later, both Judaism and Christianity have effectively been annihilated there. That life is over. The newspaper La Vie collected the testimony of a Christian, Yousef (the name has been changed), who fled in the night of August 6, 2014, just before ISIS arrived. “It was a real exodus”, Yousef said.

“The road was black with people, I did not see either the beginning or the end of this procession. There were children were crying, families dragging small suitcases. Old men were on the shoulders of their sons. People were thirsty, it was very hot. We have lost all that we have built for life and nobody fought for us”.

Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever”, wrote two American scholars in Foreign Policy.

“We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria”.

In Mosul alone, 45 churches were vandalized or destroyed. Not a single one was spared. Today there is only one church open in the city. ISIS apparently also wanted to destroy Christian history there. They targeted the monastery of Saints Behnam and Sarah, founded in the fourth century. The monastery had survived the seventh century Islamic conquest and subsequent invasions, but in 2017, crosses were destroyed, cells were looted, and statues of the Virgin Mary were beheaded. The Iraqi priest, Najeeb Michaeel, who saved 850 manuscripts from the Islamic State, was ordained last January as the new Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul….continue reading this article here

Indonesia on High Alert as Muslim Hardliners plan protest rally against Jakarta’s Christian Governor

Effigy used in recent protests against Jakarta's Christian  Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama falsely accused of blasphey.

Effigy used in recent protests against Jakarta’s Christian Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama falsely accused of blasphemy.

 Jakarta: (Voice of the Persecuted) In a nation where radicalism is on the rise, Indonesian Christians told Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) that many fear potential violence during a mass demonstration planned by hardliners on Friday (Nov. 4).

The rally is being held against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, who has been accused of commiting blasphemy.

The blasphemy accusation came after Ahok spoke in front of citizens of the Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) in September. The Governor had criticized his opponents for referencing a verse in the Koran that warns against allying with Christians and Jews. Ahok suggested those who used the passage against him were “lying” to them.

Many Muslims became angered when a supporter of his opponent shared a heavily edited 30 second video that cut out of context of Ahok’s speech. Hardliners interpreted his comments as criticism of the Islamic holy text and reported him to authorities for blasphemy. An investigation took place and he was cleared of the charge. To calm the situation, he (Ahok) later apologized to those who felt offended, which was clearly not his intention.

Muhyiddin Junaidi, head of International Affairs at MUI, said that it was good Ahok got law enforcement involved and said,  “if we were in Pakistan or India, he (Ahok) would have been killed.”

It’s believed the video was used in an attempt to frame the Christian governor as anti-Muslim. However, in the uncut original video, the context of Ahok’s words completely changed, as he said that some people irresponsibly use the Quran to trick others into not voting for him.

Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama is the second Christian governor of Jakarta in 51 years, following Henk Ngantung, who was governor during the period 1964–65.

Indonesian Christians shared with VOP,

“Many Muslims don’t like him because he is a Christian.”

“They are using the false accusation of blasphemy to stir up hatred prior to the coming election, which Ahok is favored to win.”

“The radical people really want our governor punished or dead.”

“Radical Muslims may be ready to kill or die on [Friday] that day.”

“We are very uneasy.”

“Please  pray for condition in Jakarta.”

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has instructed authorities to be on the alert during the rally, which according to police officials, thousands are expected to attend. the rally  Police predict the rally will be exceptionally larger than the one held on Oct. 10 where 5,000 people gathered. But violence many had feared was avoided during the Oct. protest.

President Jokowi said that demonstration is a democratic right of citizens, but they do not have the right to impose their will or create damages. He also said the government would guarantee the right to free speech, but it would also give priority to public order and security. “I have ordered the security forces to stay alert and perform their duties in a professional manner to overcome any anarchy perpetrated by any one,” the president remarked. Reportedly, Widodo also met with Islamic group leaders in an attempt to calm things down ahead of the Friday’s rally.

National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian urged the people not to be easily provoked with regard to the Islamic mass organizations planned demonstration. He warned the rally could be exploited by certain elements for political purposes ahead of the Jakarta gubernatorial election next February.

“Do not be easily provoked or involve in violence. Please do not be anarchic,” he said.

Jakarta Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Suntana said personnel will be deployed to safeguard the Friday rally which was organized by several Muslim groups, including the hard-line group Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI. Security will be increased in several spots that are prone to conflict and clash.” He too called on protesters to act appropriately and peacefully during  the rally, particularly as the official campaign period for next year’s gubernatorial election, in which Basuki ‘Ahok’ is seeking a second term, has begun.

Said Aqil Siroj, chairman of the country’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, suspected the rally would be infiltrated by other interest groups, separate to blasphemy concerns or other city election issues.

“I am afraid the target of the rally is not the election, but something much larger that that. Something like in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Said said, referencing social unrest in the Middle East.

VOP was also told, “Even liberal Muslims believe ISIS or a terrorist group is behind Friday’s demonstration.”

Terrorism expert, Sidney Jones said terrorists may take advantage of Friday’s protest rally by hardline Muslims to further spread radicalism and launch attacks on security officers, Jakarta Globe reported.

A Telegram chat group managed by groups supporting the Islamic State in Indonesia — which were blamed for several terror attacks earlier this year — was recently revealed to contain messages urging sympathizers to take advantage of Friday’s rally, Jones said.

“There was a call or an order to their followers to create chaos and spread the message of jihad across the country,” Jones told reporters.

“They wanted people to follow the example of the young man who attacked police in Tangerang two weeks ago. They believe a knife attack is an effective way to spread terror,” Jones said.

A man stabbed three officers with a knife during an attack on a police station in Tangerang late last month. The man was reportedly inspired by Islamic State.

The attack left three officers injured, while the attacker died from multiple gunshot wounds.

“Follow the example of the brave young man. Take advantage of the presence of thousands of police officers to do the same on Friday,” the messages said according to Jones. (see full report here)

VOP Founder, Lois Kanalos is encouraging urgent prayer for Friday’s protest to remain peaceful. The ministry is also asking Christians to remember and pray for Indonesian Christians who are facing increased aggression against them.

 

Another Church Building Demolished in Omdurman, Sudan

Sudanese Church of Christ building in Omdurman previously demolished on Feb. 17, 2014. (Morning Star News)

Sudanese Church of Christ building in Omdurman previously demolished on Feb. 17, 2014. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – After bulldozing a Lutheran Church of Sudan (LCS) building on Oct. 21, authorities in the Karari area of Omdurman demolished the SCOC building on Oct. 27 without prior warning, church leaders said. Local authorities said the SCOC building was on government land, a claim church leaders adamantly denied.

“It seems that the government is systemically targeting churches in these times,” one church leader told Morning Star News. “They did not give us notice before the demolition.”

Church leaders said they have filed a complaint with the Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowment but have received no response.

Karari officials in Omdurman, across the Nile River from Khartoum, reportedly authorized the demolition of the church building claiming it was built on government land allocated for a field. In the demolishing of the LCS church on Oct. 21, the local authorities said it was built on land allocated for business, though a mosque stands nearby.

The SCOC church, which has 120 members, was established in 1998.

SCOC church leaders said they would find it difficult for their congregation to find a place for Bible study and Sunday services in coming weeks. The Sudanese Minister of Religious Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Members of the SCOC church said they had decided to hold Sunday worship in the open air at a nearby field early in the morning, before temperatures climb.

SCOC church leaders said they were issued ownership papers for the land but have been hard-pressed to find them.

“We are not happy with the act of demolition, but we cannot do anything now, given this difficult situation,” a church leader said.

In spite of the ban on new licenses for church buildings, church members were contributing funds toward a new worship structure for worship. The Sudanese government’s decision to issue no new church building licenses came after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

Sudanese authorities on Feb. 17, 2014 demolished another SCOC church building in Omdurman without prior notice. Bulldozers accompanied by local police and personnel from of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) destroyed the worship building in the Ombada area of Omdurman, sources said.

Sudan since 2012 has harassed and expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings, usually on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. They have also raided Christian bookstores and arrested Christians.

On Aug. 24, 2014, NISS agents padlocked the building of the 500-member Sudan Pentecostal Church (SPC) in Khartoum, which housed the Khartoum Christian Center (KCC).

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2015 report.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face most persecution, moving up from 11th place the previous year.

Besides recent government demolitions of church buildings, suspected Muslim extremists in Sudan’s eastern city of Al Qadarif set fire to an LCS church on Oct. 16.

Christians in Sudan are calling upon the government of Sudan to stop targeting churches for demolition.

“We urge the government to look into this issue seriously,” a church leader from the SCOC said.

 

Christians flee- Thousands seek refuge at Central African Republic airport

Central-Africa-flee

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.

Source

when we prayVOP is asking you to pray.

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.

Please keep them in your prayers. Ask God for a divine intervention to end this war against Christians in Central and North Africa.

Persecuted Christian’s message to the West and the UNHCR

Pakistan-refugee
Voice of the Persecuted interviews a Pakistani Christian who endured extreme persecution now trying to survive as an asylum seeker in Thailand. 
Asking for a true account of the reality of life for Christians in Pakistan, Sunny Gill, a well-known photo-journalist, explains the cause of extreme persecution against them and why it been a never ending battle. He hopes this interview will serve as a message to Western Christians and nations, as plea to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a dire warning to Pakistani Christians seeking to come to Thailand for asylum.

My name is Pakistani Christian.

Due to serious threats against my life, I was forced to leave Pakistan and move to Thailand. Upon arrival, I put in a request at UNHCR Bangkok for asylum.

In Pakistan, we are considered second class citizens simply because of our Christian religious beliefs. We have always been discriminated against by Muslims. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.

Our story starts when we are born into a Christian family. Often, our parents carefully choose our name in a way which will not become a problem for us in the future. Names such as JOHN, JAMES, THOMAS etc. are easily recognized by Muslims as Christian or Churaa, which means sanitation worker. Due to the unpleasant nature of the job, it is considered a lowly position by Muslims and normally done by minorities, mainly Christians. With a Christian name, the potential for persecution is much greater.

discriminationducksWhen we go to school, our text books teach us that Hindus, Christians, and Jews can not be your brother. There are more than 60 syllabus in Pakistani text books which spread hate in Muslims hearts for a non-Muslim. We are always an easy target for fundamental Muslims.

“If you were to list the ten worst situations in Pakistan, extremism would be #10, but discrimination would be #1!”

Pakistani Christians have always played an important role in fields such as education, medical and others, but still we continually face much discrimination.

It’s very sad that Muslim parents teach their children not to drink water from a Christian or Hindu’s home. Non-Muslims are kafirs (unbelievers, disbelievers, or infidels), so they are considered dirty. It’s not uncommon for them to keep different water glasses for non-Muslims, which I have witnessed. Not all Muslims do such things, there are many  tolerant Muslims in Pakistan who are good people. Often, they have received their education from Christian institutions.

He highlights for us many incidents in Pakistan done by the local people including:

  • In Shanti Nagar on February 6, 1997, thousands of Islamic protesters descended on the village with placards stating: “Kill the Christians because they are blasphemers towards the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet.” 785 houses were destroyed, four churches were burned, and 2,500 Christians forced to flee.

Pakistan-gunman-roof

  • The 2009 Gojra riots were a series of attacks targeting Christians in Gojra, a town in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Forty houses and a Church were set ablaze by a mob on August 1st.  Most of the houses were burnt by young males who had their faces covered with veils. This resulted in the deaths of eight Christians, including four women and a child. The victims were all burnt alive. 18 others were injured. Televised footage showed burning houses and streets strewn with blackened furniture and people firing at each other from their rooftops.

Pakistan-Christian-woman

  • And on March 9th, 2013 a charged Muslim mob of over 3,000 common people attacked a Christian community in Lahore. They were not thugs or gang members, but local paperboys, store owners, family men –among their other identity: Muslim radicals. They attacked over 100 (according to some reports well over 150) homes destroying the entire community. An event that could well be seen by the international community as a genocidal attempt to eliminate Christianity from Pakistan.

Pakistani politicians have oftentimes blamed events on groups such as Mossad, or the CIA. They easily point fingers at others, because it’s very difficult to accept your own mistakes.

Why are school books giving the wrong impressions and spreading hatred? Why are schools telling them that Shia, Christians and others are kafir?
I received my education in a Christian school. Our teachers never taught us anything against Islam. Maybe they didn’t speak against it out of fear, but our religion is not one of hatred towards those of different beliefs. It is one of tolerance towards others.

Among countries with a Muslim majority, Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. The first purpose of those laws is to protect Islamic authority. By the constitution (Article 2), Islam is the state religion. Critics complain that Pakistan’s blasphemy law “is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas,” but calls for change in the blasphemy laws have been strongly resisted by Islamic parties. source

Christian parents in Pakistan realize the extreme danger of the blasphemy law, which the penalty is often death. Christian children are taught from a very young age to not speak against Islam.

All Christians, in fact all minorities, in Pakistan have a fear of the blasphemy law, which is very easy for Muslims to impose on them as revenge for any reason such as personal vendettas.

The Blasphemy law is often misused in Pakistan. Numerous disputes have resulted in a false blasphemy charge against a minority. Pakistan-persecuted

Many have lost their lives because of this law. A large number are tortured and killed in police custody when arrested for a blasphemy charge. The police will then report they have committed suicide. Many are killed outside the courts when extremists wait for those exonerated to leave. They assassinate them in broad daylight, some even on the court house grounds.

Last year, the case of Rimsha Masih displayed all that is wrong with Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law. Rimsha, believed to have been between 11 and 13 years old, comes from an impoverished Christian family living near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. She suffers from Down Syndrome. Rimsha was accused of burning pages with Quranic [Koranic] passages. Police took her into custody on August 17, 2013. The entire Christian community was reportedly assaulted by an enraged mob who demanded that police turn her over to be killed.

Threats against the Christian community were also made. Almost 400 families were forced to flee to other parts of the capital. Later, a Muslim cleric with a known distaste for Christians was arrested for framing the girl to cause problems for the local Christians. Though he was arrested,  he was never formally indicted. The witnesses withdrew and he was acquitted for lack of evidence. The girl’s own family had to go into hiding. After the charges against her were dropped, continued threats forced Rimsha and her family to leave Pakistan. They now reside in Canada and have been granted asylum.

Once an individual is accused of blasphemy, the stain never goes away. Unfortunately even if the accused is found not guilty, the risk of being killed by a radical is still a very grave threat.

Pakistan-blaphemy-protests

All Christians whether educated, or uneducated are at risk of becoming victims of the blasphemy law. Those who speak against the injustice of Christians become targets of persecution. Lawyers, politicians, journalists and activists who highlight the human rights abuses of persecuted Christians will face serious threats to their life, many are killed.

Salmaan_Taseer-001

Salmaan Taseer

Salman Taseer served as Governor of Punjab from 2008 until his assassination in early 2011. He was an outspoken critic of the Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He also called for the pardon and release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy. On January 4 2011, Taseer was shot 27 times by his own guard, Mumtaz Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Afterwards, Muslims who considered him a hero began to call Qadari, ‘GHAZI’.

“Ghazi” is a title of honor for a Muslim who slaughters a non-Muslim for the cause of Islam. After the murder, more than 500 clerics voiced support for the crime. Qadari’s supporters tried blocking police attempting to bring him to the Anti-Terrorism Court, some even showered Qadari with rose petals.

October 1, 2011, Qadri was sentenced to death by a Pakistani Anti Terrorist court at Islamabad for murdering Taseer. Qadri was executed on  February 29, 2016. His home became a shrine to ‘the faithful’, and thousands of supporters have marched in the streets, praising him as a heroic defender of Islam.

Video added as an article update

Asia Noreen Bibi, is a Christian mother of five who was charged with blasphemy in 2009. Her crime? After picking berries in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, Asia went to the well to get water for herself and Her Muslim co-workers. She drank some of the water then dipped the cup again to refill it. Seeing this, a Muslim women blamed her, as a Christian, for defiling the well causing it to become unclean and unfit for them to drink or touch. Asia said some heated words were exchanged, after which two of the Muslim women fabricated the blasphemy case against her. It is also claimed a few days later she was taken, beaten, forced to admit, ask for forgiveness then convert to Islam, she refused to convert. Bibi was then arrested, charged, and sentenced to death by hanging.

Bibi maintains her innocence stating she had great respect and honor for the Muslim Prophet and the Quran, but and never made the alleged blasphemous remarks. Her case has drawn international criticism and her death sentence has so far not been carried out. A Pakistani mullah has advertised a $10,000 reward for anyone who kills her. She remains in prison under solitary confinement and required to prepare her own food, both for security reasons. While this case has drawn widespread attention, it’s not an unfamiliar tale.

Shahbaz Bhatti

Gill also recalled, Shabaz Bhatti who was a Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly. He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Cabinet. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a blasphemer of Muhammad.

“And there are hundreds of other examples.”

I became a victim of religious persecution which forced me to leave my family, job and homeland. He shared life is difficult in Thailand where he and his wife have applied for asylum. “Fear of immigration and the police is always on our head. Though Thailand kindly invited the UN to open its office here, they are not involved with the government of Thailand’s laws.” Thai authorities basically view them as ‘illegal immigrants’.

We are thankful to the Thailand government who issues us visas and grants entrance in their nation. However, we need a place to live until we are resettled by the UNHCR. As a humble request to them, I ask:

“Please ask your agencies to deal politely with the asylum seeker and refugees. We have already been through so many horrific trials. We are away from our families and burdened by great emotional distress.

His warning to Pakistani Christians seeking asylum

“Do not come to Bangkok! It’s not easy here to live and it’s very expensive. It’s also very sad to tell you that there are those claiming to be agents making false papers and selling them to innocent Christians. They will tell you that these false documents will help you in your case to the UNHCR. There are many agents in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi etc., don’t trust anyone! Please, listen! They will be putting you through hell!

Pakistani FIA is also taking lots of money from Christians who are coming to Bangkok. They are asking for a large amount of bribe from Christians. They say, “We know you going for asylum.” Pakistani Christians are giving it to them, or they don’t allow them to go from immigration check to the airplane. Please be warned!

A humble request to the UNHCR

christians-in-pakistan-unhcrPlease provide ‘asylum seeker papers’ to all those seeking asylum nearer to their arrival in the country. Waiting a year for an interview after the six month wait for the paperwork is unbearably long. We are under continued fear of deportation. We don’t have job’s, we don’t haves visa’s, we don’t have enough money to eat even a good meal. I have even had to eliminate a meal each day. We can barely afford to eat twice a day due to financial problems. We appreciate and are grateful for the chance to be rescued from the terrorizing abuse in our nation. Please consider our plight to survive, now that we’ve come this far.

We are converted Christians. Our forefather were Hindus, Sikh, ect. Missionaries from Europe converted us. Now we are true believers in Jesus. Pakistani Christians don’t want to convert to Islam to save ourselves. We would give our life before denying JESUS without any doubts.

UPDATE July 2015:

The UNHCR Thailand office has postponed this persecuted Christian’s asylum interview date another 12 months. They’re money has run out and to get by, they are forced to ask others for support. They, like the many others in Thailand are desperate. Unable to legally work without asylum, threats of being arrested and thrown into detention centers has brought great stress and anxiety upon them. Many face extreme depression with the sense of complete loss of dignity.

Pakistan-Christiancross

PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS NEED YOUR PRAYERS! And pressure must be put on Pakistan to protect all of it’s citizens, regardless of stature, ethnicity, or religion.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech should be a basic human right upheld in all nations. Americans can help by contacting their Senators and Congressmen about the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Ask that future aid and other relations with Pakistan ought to be curtailed in the light of Pakistan’s steadfast refusal to accord Christians and other religious minorities basic human rights. Pakistan ought not receive any but the most urgent humanitarian aid until these totalitarian laws are repealed.
And please remember to pray for our brother in Thailand, as he desperately waits for asylum to be granted!

By Lois Kanalos

UPDATE: Sunny has been granted refugee status from the UNHCR. He and his family are still at risk of being detained by the Thai authorities and sent to the IDC as they do not recognize his UNHCR status. Please pray for them and for a timely resettlement to start a new life living freely in a different country.

This interview may be shared, or reprinted with credit to Voice of the Persecuted

Voice of the Persecuted is helping to relieve Pakistani Christians in Thailand. We cannot continue the work without your generous support. Help us reach life saving goals by joining us in the mission for persecuted Pakistani Christians.

If you would like your gift to be used specifically for those suffering in Thailand, please add Pakistani Christians in Thailand to the note section on the donation page.

In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

 

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