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Rioters Attack Christian Sites over Arrests in Sokoto, Nigeria

College student Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu was stoned to death in Sokoto, Nigeria on May 12, 2022. (Facebook)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Rioters upset over the arrest of two Muslims in connection with the killing of a Christian college student in Sokoto, Nigeria attacked three church buildings and looted and damaged Christian-owned shops on Saturday (May 14), sources said.

Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a 200-level student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, the capital of Sokoto state, was beaten, stoned to death and her body set on fire on Thursday (May 12) after she was falsely accused of blaspheming the prophet of Islam because she had refused to date a Muslim, sources said.

Following the arrest of two Muslim suspects, Muslim rioters started bonfires and damaged the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, St. Kevin’s Catholic Church and an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) building in Sokoto, area residents said. Yakubu was a member of the ECWA church in her native Tungan Magajiya town, Rijau County in Niger state.

Area Muslims demanding the release of the two suspects assembled in strategic areas of the city and then marched to the palace of the sultan of Sokoto, leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, demanding the release of the two Muslims suspected of being behind the killing of Yakubu, residents said.

“Hundreds of Muslims here in Sokoto this morning converged at various points in the city to protest the arrest of two Muslims who were involved in the killing of Deborah, the Christian student of Shehu Shagari College of Education,” area resident Angela Anthony said in a text message. “In spite of efforts by the police and other security agencies to prevent them from becoming violent in their protest, these Muslims still succeeded in attacking and destroying two churches, the Catholic Cathedral and the ECWA church in Sokoto.”

Sokoto resident Precious Arigu requested prayer.

“So far, two churches [were damaged] and dozens of shops belonging to Christians have been looted and then destroyed by these Muslims,” Arigu said. “Please be in prayers for those of us who are Christians living in Sokoto.”

The Rev. Christopher Omotosho, Sokoto Diocese spokesman, said the protestors also shattered the windows of the diocese’s Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a bus parked on the premises. They also attacked the diocese’s Bakhita Centre on Aliyu Jodi Road and set a bus there on fire, Omotosho said .

“St. Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt,” he said. “Windows of the new hospital complex under construction on the same premises were shattered.”

Police reportedly have begun searching for others who appeared in a video-recording of the murder that appeared on social media.

Some of the rioters upset with the sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, for condemning the killing surrounded his palace shouting the jihadist slogan, “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” an area resident told Agence France-Presse (AFP). When the rioters refused to leave, police and soldiers hurled teargas canisters and fired into the air to disperse them, AFP quoted the resident as saying.

The mob then tried to loot shops owned by Christians but were dispersed by security patrol teams, another resident told AFP.

Sokoto Gov. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal on Saturday (May 14) declared a 24-hour curfew in the city. The Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, president of the ECWA, called on the governor to ensure justice.

“The brutal killing and burning of Deborah by some misguided Muslim students is nothing short of overt criminality which we at the ECWA roundly condemn,” Pastor Panya said. “We therefore call on the Sokoto state government under the leadership of His Excellency, Aminu Tambuwal, to be deliberate in ensuring that no step is left to ensure that justice is not only seen to be done, but that it is indeed done.”

He said the ECWA also called on President Mohammadu Buhari to ensure justice.

“Deborah may be just one young girl whose precious life and ambition has been cruelly cut short, but the entire world is watching, waiting and crying out for justice here on earth, otherwise, in heaven,” Pastor Panya said. “In this midnight hour of our nation, at this very trying and agonizing moment, our hearts go out to the parents, siblings and entire family of Miss Deborah and all that are grieving her death; we encourage you to take solace in the fact that no matter how it  may look, Deborah’s martyrdom shall never be in vain. Light will ever prevail over the forces of darkness.”

The Rev. Joseph Daramola, general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said in a statement that the inability of the Nigerian government to prosecute Muslims who have killed Christians over false claims of blasphemy have fueled such criminal acts.

“It is the failure of the security agencies and the government to rise up to such criminalities in the past that gave birth to terrorists and bandits,” Pastor Daramola said. “And as long as the state fails to bring these beasts and criminals amidst us to book, so also the society will continue to be their killing fields.”

Acknowledging that the sultan of Sokoto condemned the crime and called on security agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice, Pastor Daramola called on all “teachers and preachers of religious intolerance, extremism and terrorism to repent before the wrath of God descends on them if the state fails to bring them to book.”

“Killing in the name of blasphemy is ungodly, satanic, foolish, reprehensible, and totally unacceptable,” he said. “This is not a Stone Age, and Nigeria is not a Banana republic. Nigeria remains a non-religious state where no religion is supreme to the other. We acknowledge and commend the restraint of the Christian students of the college who refused to embrace reprisal attacks on those who murdered their colleague. It is our prayer that those vampires in religious garments will not push the country to a religious war.”

Herdsmen Kill 36 Christians

In central Nigeria’s Benue state, Fulani herdsmen suspected of collaborating with Muslim extremist terrorists killed an estimated 36 Christians in multiple attacks last month, sources said.

In Tarka County, about 15 Christians were killed in an attack on Tiortyu village at 2 a.m. on April 12 that killed a grandfather and wounded his young granddaughter, the girl’s mother, Faith Iorshie, told Morning Star News by phone.

“About 15 Christians were killed when the Fulani terrorists attacked our village, Tiortyu,” Iorshie said. “I escaped the attack, but grandpa took my 2-year-old daughter and tried escaping with her and was shot and killed while my daughter was shot and wounded. We’re currently in a hospital where she’s being treated. Pray with us for God to save her life.”

Iorshie, 25, said she and her family are members of the Universal Reformed Christian Church (NKST in Nigeria) in her village.

The attacks in Logo, Kwande, Tarka and Guma counties added to the recent displacement of about 2 million people in Benue state and the bordering areas of Nasarawa and Taraba states. The displaced took refuge in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across Benue state, government officials said.

Two Christians were also killed in Logo County, 10 were killed in Kwande County and 9 in Guma County, sources said. In Logo, Muslim Fulani herdsmen on April 29 attacked Tse Tune, killing two Christians who were working on their farms, said Nathaniel Ikyur, spokesman for the Benue governor’s office.

“The two Christians killed by the bandits are Terkende Injarwua and Mfaiga Ukor,” Ikyur said in a statement. “Their corpses have been evacuated from their farms and buried.”

In Kwande County, herdsmen attacked Waya, Jato-Aka, and Turan the night of April 21, killing 10 Christians, residents said. Lawrence Akerigba identified some of those killed as Gbaeren Orsoo, Terdoo Tsega, Bemdoo Tsega, Abacha Tsega, Terkaa Tsega, Aôndoaseer Tyov, Iorhen Atim and Aôndowase Igba.

Tartor Chianson, a council official of the country, confirmed the attack.

“Ten Christians were killed during the attack on three communities in Kwande Local Government Area,” Chianson said. “The corpses of those killed have been recovered and taken to Jato Aka Hospital Mortuary.”

In Guma County, Fulani herdsmen the night of April 11 killed nine Christians, sources said.

Benue state Gov. Samuel Ortom said officials have called for help without any answer.

“It is becoming increasingly glaring every day that Christians are now endangered species in Nigeria,” he said in a statement. “We have cried for help against these Muslim invaders, but nothing is forthcoming. We are left alone, and it looks like it is a deliberate strategy to eliminate us because of our Christian faith.”

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

Coptic Christian Arrested for Allegedly Insulting Islam on Facebook in Egypt

Egypt, (Morning Star News) – A young Coptic Christian man has been arrested near Cairo, Egypt for allegedly insulting Islam after a hacker posted material on his Facebook page, he and family members said.

Fady Yousef, 25, was arrested early in the morning of June 11 in Giza, southwest of Cairo, despite having posted a video explaining that hackers had placed the offending material on his Facebook page, according to the Coptic Bishopric of Maghagha and El Edwa in Minya.

The previous night (June 10), Muslim extremists angry over the offending material attacked his parents’ home in Eshneen el Nasara village, near Maghgaha in Minya Governorate, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Giza, according to a statement from the bishopric.

“On Monday [June 10] some extremists reaching a few hundred from Eshneen el Nasara village and the villages around it attacked the home of Yousef Todary,” the statement from Bishop Anba Aghathon read. “They entered and destroyed the contents of the house, then moved to the house next door where his brother lived and attacked it from the outside. They were shouting against the Christian religion and the Copts of the village.”

Damage to home of parents of Fady Yousef in village in Minya Governorate, Egypt. (Nader Shukry, Facebook)

Yousef Todary, his wife and daughter were able to escape minutes before the Muslim extremists broke in and destroyed the refrigerator, television set, mattresses, furniture and windows, according to the bishop.

Stating that Muslim extremists alleged the post was insulting to Islam, the bishop defended Fady Yousef, reiterating that he said his Facebook was hacked.

The young Copt posted an apology on the page saying he would never do such a thing, and that people who knew him know this well. His sister, Nermeen Yousef, also posted a clarification, saying her brother apologized not because he did anything wrong, but because people mistakenly believed that he was the author of the post, according to Copts United.

“He is apologizing because he respects your feelings,” she wrote. “He is not a child to do such a thing, and also his friends are Muslims and always tell me they are dear to him and they know this well.”

Along with Fady Yousef, police also detained his brother and uncle; two other uncles turned themselves in as soon as they heard that police sought them, according to various sources. They were all transported to Minya pending investigations, and on Friday (June 15) Copts United reported that the brother and uncles had been released.

Yousef is in custody facing charges of posting material offensive to religion, according to Copts United. Insulting a heavenly religion (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) in Egypt, where the state religion is Islam, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$30 to US$60), according to Article 98(f) of the Penal Code.

Police reportedly arrested 25 people suspected of attacking the home of Yousef Todary and those of other Christians in the village, as well as others who wrote posts on social media to instigate attacks.

Police reportedly dispersed angry crowds and set up protective posts in Eshneen el Nasara and other villages. They also set a protective perimeter around the village the following Friday (June 14) in anticipation of possible violence, according to Copts United.

The bishop’s statement noted that Reda Eid, a Muslim from the same village, during Easter posted derogatory words against Christianity, the church and its leadership. Eid later went to the church leaders to apologize, taking some of his Christian friends with him, according to the statement. Father Soliman responded “You are our son, you came here and I accept your apology, we are all brothers,” thus ending the incident, according to Copts United.

Egypt ranked 16th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

The Indonesian Jihad on Christian Churches

Burnt-church

  • “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!” – Islamic leaders, Aceh region.
  • In other parts of Indonesia, where Islamic law, or Sharia, is not enforced, churches, even fully registered ones, are also under attack
  • On Dec. 25, 2012, with all required paperwork in place, when the congregation assembled on empty land to celebrate Christmas, hundreds of Muslims threw rocks, rotten eggs, and bags filled with excrement at the Christians. Police stood by and watched.
  • For Indonesia, the country once hailed as the face of “moderate Islam,” the “extremist” behavior one would expect of ISIS has apparently become the norm.

(Gatestone Institute) By Raymond Ibrahim: In compliance with Islamic demands, Indonesian authorities in the Aceh region have started to tear down Christian churches. Their move comes after Muslim mobs rampaged and attacked churches. At least one person was killed; thousands of Christians were displaced.

On Friday, October 9, after being fired up during mosque sermons, hundreds of Muslims marched to the local authority’s office and demanded that all unregistered churches in Aceh be closed. Imams issued text messages spurring Muslims from other areas to rise up against churches and call for their demolition.

On Monday, October 12, authorities facilitated a meeting with Islamic leaders and agreed to demolish 10 unregistered churches over the course of two weeks.

Apparently this was not fast enough to meet Muslim demands for immediate action. On the following day, a mob of approximately 700 Muslims, some armed with axes and machetes, torched a local church, even though it was not on the list of churches agreed upon for demolition.

The Muslim mob then moved on to a second church, an act that led to violent clashes. One person, believed to be a Christian, died after being shot in the head. Several were injured, as Christians tried to defend their church against the armed mob.

Approximately 8,000 Christians were displaced; many fled to bordering provinces. Their fears were justified: Islamic leaders continued issuing messages and text messages saying, “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”

Instead of punishing those who incited violence and took the law into their own hands by torching and attacking churches, local authorities demolished three churches (a Catholic mission station and two Protestant churches) on October 19. In the coming days, seven more churches are set to be demolished; in the coming months and years, dozens more.

Authorities had originally requested of church leaders to demolish their own churches. “How can we do that?” asked Paima Berutu, one of the church leaders: “It is impossible [for us to take it down] … Some of us watched [the demolition] from afar, man and women. It was painful.”

The situation in Aceh remains tense: “Every church member is guarding his own church right now,” said another pastor. READ MORE

Police Say Woman Slain in Pakistan Innocent of Blasphemy; Politicians ‘Protecting Killers’

injustpakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan say a Christian couple tortured and slain this month over accusations that the wife desecrated the Koran were innocent, while relatives said politicians are trying to shield the killers from justice.

Urged to act from mosque loudspeakers, a frenzied mob on Nov. 4 tore the clothes off Shama and Shahzad Masih, struck them, broke their legs, dragged them behind a tractor and threw them into the burning furnace of a brick kiln – even though Shama was illiterate and could not have known even if koranic verses were among debris that she had burned.

Kasur District Police Capt. Jawad Qamar told Morning Star News that police had confirmed that Shama Masih was illiterate and had no idea of the contents of pages that she had burned.

“She was not guilty of blasphemy,” he said.

On Nov. 2 Shama Masih was cleaning her quarters in Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan, Karur District, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Lahore, when she found amulets of her late father-in-law, who had used them in the practice of black magic. The amulets may have contained koranic verses, and a Muslim co-worker, Muhammad Irfan, noticed the half-burnt papers andaccused the family of desecrating the Koran, relatives said.

Under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy statutes, intent must be shown for a conviction of desecrating the Koran.

At a press conference in Islamabad on Monday (Nov. 16), family members said Islamists have offered them land and money as compensation for the murders in an attempt to stop them from prosecuting.

While police have reportedly arrested at least 50 of those named in a First Information Report (FIR), relatives of the couple said that influential Muslims of the area, including a Punjab Province lawmaker, were issuing threats in an attempt to force them to reach an agreement with the killers. Shahzad Masih’s brother, Shahbaz Masih, and his wife Parveen Masih demanded that the government provide them with protection, saying they had already informed the Kasur District police officer of the threats.

Shazad Masih and his wife Shama Shazad Masih

Shazad Masih and his wife Shama Shazad Masih

They also demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the mob violence, adding that non-Muslim representatives should be included in the team.

“All we want is a fair investigation of the case,” said Shahbaz Masih, demanding that Justice Waheed Siddiqui, a retired Federal Shariat Court judge, be included in the judicial commission.

Among other demands, the deceased man’s family called for the commission and a Joint Investigation Team to make their reports publicly available immediately after completion. Masih also urged the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice and order an independent inquiry into the attack.

Lawmaker ‘Influencing Case’

The family’s concerns come amid reports that the provincial lawmaker of the area, Muhammad Anees Qureshi, was present at the crime scene when the throng of hundreds tortured and killed Shama Masih, 28 years old and five months pregnant, and 32-year-old Shahzad Masih. They are survived by four children, the oldest 7 years old.

Family sources said that Qureshi, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, was also making efforts to shield the primary suspect, Riaz Kamboh, from justice. Kamboh, a former municipal councillor, is also affiliated with the PML-N and holds considerable influence in the villages surrounding Chak 59 village. He is accused of throwing the couple into the furnace after pouring tractor diesel on their bodies.

“Qureshi arrived on the spot just when the lynchers had tortured the couple unconscious,” said a relative who asked to remain unnamed for security reasons. “They were not hurled into the furnace till then.”

The relative said Qureshi, a member of the Punjab Parliamentary Assembly, was trying to force the impoverished Christians into reaching an agreement in return for a large amount of money. Shahzad Masih was a bonded laborer who was working to repay a sum of money he had received, one of the reasons sources have said his employer locked him in an office at the kiln after a mob formed.

“Hordes and hordes of Muslims loaded on tractor trolleys arrived on the scene during his [Qureshi’s] presence, yet the lawmaker made no effort to rescue them,” the relative said.

Qureshi has requested the family not register a separate case against Kamboh, brick kiln owner Yousaf Gujjar and Imam Ghulam Hussain, among others, he said, adding that the demands were made through local administration and land revenue officials.

Qureshi denied that the couple was thrown into the furnace in his presence.

“Shama and Shahzad were already dead when I reached the spot,” the member of the Parliamentary Assembly said in his statement to police. “That’s why I couldn’t do anything for them.”

Morning Star News made repeated efforts to get Qureshi’s comment on accusations that he was influencing the relatives of Shahzad and Shama to reach an agreement with any of the murder suspects, but the lawmaker declined.

Punjab spokesman Zaeem Qadri told Morning Star News that the suspects would not be able to escape prosecution, because the state was the complainant in the case.

“This is why the government decided to become the complainant in this case, so that the accused are not able to coerce the poor families into reaching a compromise,” he said. “Pardoning the accused is not in the families’ hands now.”

Asked about the chances of convictions in the atrocity, especially when there is a precedent of all suspects in the Joseph Colony arson case last year walking free even when the state was the complainant in the case, the Punjab spokesman cut short the conversation, saying only, “This time it will be different.”

Qamar told Morning Star News that the area’s local police in-charge had sent a team to the site when he was informed of tensions, but that mobs were too large to be contained by just five men.

“It was Ashura [a Shia Muslim commemoration] day, and all district police was deployed on Shia procession routes and Shia places of worship for security, which is why it took time to gather a bigger contingent,” he said, adding that police were now trying their best to arrest all the remaining accused in the case.

Contrary to published reports, Qamar said police have arrested 43 of some 60 named suspects, of whom 39 were in jail, while four were to be produced in an anti-terrorism court today on completion of their police remand.

Tahir Ashrafi, a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Pakistan’s top religious body, held police responsible for failing to act to protect the couple before the mob violence occurred.

“All culprits must be arrested and punished, including the cleric [who made the blasphemy accusation in a mosque] if he’s involved,” he said.

Rufus Solomon, a Christian politician from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said that it was a test case for the PML-N government, which has termed the allegation of blasphemy against Shama “false and baseless.”

“If the perpetrators of Gojra, Joseph Colony and the Rimsha Masih case had been punished, no one would have dared to mete out such barbarity on the poor Christian couple,” Solomon said.

Muslim Mob Injures Church Leaders, Choir Members in Nigeria

nigeriaNIGERIA  (ANS) A Muslim mob with knives and iron rods injured several members of an Anglican church in Nasarawa state on Aug. 17 over a dispute about less than 1 cent in change, area Christians said.

According to a story by Morning Star News, three pastors, four elders and choir members of the St. James Anglican Cathedral were wounded in Lafia, capital of Nasarawa in central Nigeria, as they met for study and worship preparation.
Area residents said they got cuts on their heads and other parts of their bodies when about 30 Muslims attacked with motorcycle chains and wooden clubs, along with the other weapons. An area member of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ in Lafia, Joshua Nuhu Kuju, told Morning Star News that a Muslim woman incited the Muslims to attack after she had an argument  over payment with a young Christian man who runs the church’s water borehole (a way to get water).
“The Muslim woman sent her children to purchase water from the church’s borehole, and then a misunderstanding over about 5 naira (less than 1 US cent),” he said. “The Muslim woman then went and invited some of her Muslim neighbors, who stormed the church and attacked the members of the church.”  The assailants also damaged Bibles and broke chairs, he said.
Rev. Isaac Onwusongaonye of St. James Anglican Cathedral, of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), told Morning Star News that at about 6 p.m., as he and six other church leaders were meeting for Bible study preparation and the choir was about to begin rehearsal, a church member told them that someone was arguing with the young man in charge of the church-run water borehole, Peter Aleku.
“When we enquired of the water seller what happened, he said that a girl, a (Muslim) neighbor, came and bought water worth 20 naira (1 US cent) and did not pay,” Onwusongaonye said.He added, “Shortly after, the girl’s sister came and fetched water worth 5 naira and paid 20 naira and demanded 15 naira in change. But the water seller told her that, for the change, to meet her sister who bought water earlier and did not pay.” The girl was upset and told her mother about the exchange, the clergyman said.

“The woman came and threatened that she had a son who was capable of demolishing the church, and that she would call him to come and fight the water seller,” he said. “One of our sextons decided to give the woman the 20 naira, which the woman collected; the woman also slapped the water seller two times, yet she called her notorious son.”

When the woman’s son arrived, security guards prevented him from entering the church premises at two points – the borehole area and the main gate, Morning Star News reported Onwusongaonye said. One of the church leaders suggested they report the matter to police, but another suggested they wait for tensions to cool and instead talk with the family the next day, he said.
“As we resumed our Bible study, all we saw was a mob coming into the church through the main gate,” Onwusongaonye added.

He continued, “This notorious boy went and called his gang, mostly butchers. They came with knives, clubs, motorcycle chains, iron poles, wood, etc. As they were terrorizing the church members, their fellow Muslim youths playing football at the field adjacent to the church jumped in through the fence and helped the gang. This gang beat the security men at the gate mercilessly with wood, chain and iron.”
Seriously wounded, the security guards were rushed to the hospital, he said.

“They also slapped some of our elders who tried to appeal to them,” Morning Star News reported Onwusongaonye said. “They even forcefully collected a handset from one of our pastors. I narrowly dodged a big stone thrown at me, and Ven Shigudu narrowly escaped from being stabbed.”
The clergyman said intervention by police who were told about the attack saved the cathedral from burning down.

“After some minutes of terrorism, the boys left – some of them were asking why they did not destroy the church, especially the window glass,” Onwusongaonye said. “So they later regrouped to come back for total destruction, but with the quick intervention of police from A Division, the boys ran as they saw the police van.” Police detained the ringleader’s mother when the gang fled, releasing her only after the family later produced her son. He was arrested, and Morning Star News reported that at press time the case was still under investigation.

 

Many years ago the church had decided to create a water borehole and charge a minimal fee because of the community’s difficulties in securing drinking water, Onwusongaonye said. Established in Lafia in the early 1940s, the church has about 300 members.

Nasarawa state is located in Nigeria’s volatile middle belt, west of Plateau state, between the predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian south. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent.

Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.

 

Christians in Egypt Fearful after Five Copts Killed

Morning Star News reports a Priest, four others slain; more violence expected over Ramadan.

Christians assist a wounded Copt in Al Dabaya outside Luxor, Upper Egypt. (Morning Star News photo)

Christians assist a wounded Copt in Al Dabaya

CAIRO, Egypt, July 8, 2013 (Morning Star News) – Following the shooting death of a priest in Northern Sinai, Christians in Upper Egypt and elsewhere are living in fear after four Coptic Christians were killed near Luxor in the wake of the deposing of Mohamed Morsi as president.

“I am too scared to leave – I haven’t been able to go outside my house for four days,” said Maria, a Coptic woman in her 30s who attends the Church of the Virgin Mary in Luxor, which Salafist mobs have attacked unsuccessfully several times since June 30. She requested her last name be withheld for security reasons.

A funeral service was held Sunday (July 7) for the four Christians killed in a village outside of Luxor. In Al Dabaya on Friday, Islamists attacked Coptic Christian Emil Naseem Saroufeem, 42; for reasons that remain unknown, they blamed Saroufeem for the death of Hassan Sayyed Segdy, a Muslim whose body had been found earlier that day, according to a human rights worker and other sources. Saroufeem was known to be a supporter of the Tamard or “Rebel” movement that began gathering in cities across Egypt on June 30 to demonstrate against Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party, created by the Muslim Brotherhood.

A mob formed and began beating Saroufeem, who escaped briefly when two relatives, Mouhareb Noushy Habib, 38, and Romany Noushy, 33, hid him, according to Safwat Samaan, a director at human rights group Nation Without Limits. The rabble caught up with the three Christians in the apartment of Rasem Tawadrous Aqladios, 56. Saroufeem and Aqladios were bludgeoned to death. The other two, Habib and Noushy, died when they were beaten and repeatedly stabbed, Samaan and others told Morning Star News.

The assailants then turned their attention to other Coptic villagers, beating many of them, and then looting and burning down their homes. Three other Copts were seriously wounded, according to Samaan and others.

In all, roughly 20 homes were destroyed. The village is calm now, but most of the Christian residents have left and are homeless because they are too afraid to return or have no homes to return to.

Samaan said it was very difficult to pinpoint the cause of the attack, saying a mix of religious, political and possibly even criminal motives may all have been factors.

“The situation is calm there now,” he said, “but there are about 95 Christian families that are staying at the church of Mar Youhana because they are too scared to go back. Also, a lot of these people had their homes burned down, and if not that, a lot of them had their houses torn apart and looted. The church is trying to get them to return home, but a lot of them are refusing.”

Mourners at funeral for Copts

Mourners at funeral for Copts

In Qena and Luxor in Upper Egypt, scattered attempts to attack churches took place over the weekend with little success. At the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Church of the Archangel Michael, both in Luxor, soldiers pushed away several such Islamist attempts.

As Ramadan approaches, survivors of the attacks and other Copts were girding themselves for this year’s fasting season, historically a time of spikes in attacks on Christians in Egypt and the Middle East. Political tensions could exacerbate the usual increase.

“In general, I think the attacks on Christians will increase,” said Samaan, “as there have been more threats to attack churches. People from the Muslim Brotherhood are taking it upon themselves to wage jihad to defend Morsi and their religion.”

In all, dozens of homes and businesses were burned to the ground, a handful of churches were attacked, and one church guest-house was destroyed, human rights activists said, in attacks meant to punish Christians for their alleged part in a supposed conspiracy to unseat Morsi.

 Corpses of the four slain Copts.

Corpses of the four slain Copts.

“Copts understand and know very well there is a price that has to be paid, and what the Muslim Brotherhood people are saying is stirring people up against the Copts, even though the Copts were just participating in democracy just like everyone else,” said Ishak Ibrahim, freedom of religion and belief officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

On Wednesday (July 3), Egypt’s military chief announced that then-President Morsi had been deposed. In the weeks leading up to the demonstrations against Morsi by millions, Islamists had issued threats against Christians, whom they held responsible for the movement.

Hours after the military made the announcement that Morsi had been deposed, the Islamists attacked. The last attack happened on Saturday (July 6) in the town of Arish in Northern Sinai, when masked gunmen shot and killed the Rev. Mina Aboud Sharubim in front of a church-owned building, according to the Coptic Watani Weekly. No reason has been given for the attack.

The 39-year-old Sharubim was buried today (July 8) after a service in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. He had been ordained a few months more than a year ago.
All photos by Morning Star News

Persecution News Update March 14, 2013

First Report: Muslim Mob Turns Violent in Pakistani Blasphemy Row- Christian Community Flees as Neighborhood Destroyed-(March 9, 2013) LAHORE, Pakistan —After hearing accusations that a Christian man committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet, over 3,000 Muslim protesters turned violent and destroyed a Christian neighborhood on Saturday by torching homes. Reports claim over 100 homes have been burned or vandalized. A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian’s home on Friday night, after a young Muslim man accused a Christian of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet. Police took the Christian man into custody to try to calm down the crowd. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight. Reports say the mob returned on Saturday and began setting the homes of Christians ablaze. Though no one in the Christian community was hurt, several policemen were injured when hit by stones as they tried to keep the crowd from rushing the area. READ MORE

Second Report: Mob loots, torches Christian colony in Lahore- The News (International) in Pakistan reports after a Christian accused of committing blasphemy the mob comprising thousands of people attacked Joseph Colony on Noor Road in the Badami Bagh area. The infuriated protesters forced some 170 Christian families to flee the area. It was reported that the mob not only attacked the houses but also looted them. Disturbing scenes of burning houses, streets strewn with debris and blackened furniture were seen as the mob attacked. An affected woman said people in large numbers came to her home, ransacked it, threw household items out of her house, doused them with gasoline and set fire to them. “They torched the houses of many such people who had nothing to do with the incident,” she added. READ MORE

Pictures in the News: Lahore, Pakistan

Third Report:Pakistani Christians call for repeal of blasphemy law and voting reform/Sister claims accused innocent- New York: March 11, 2013. (PCP) We will only support and vote if the Muslim party will publically promise Pakistani Christians that the blasphemy law will be repealed and Dual voting rights will be granted to Chritians, said Mr. William Shahzad, Chairman of Pakistani Christian Association in USA, PCA here today. Mr. William Shahzad told Pakistan Christian Post PCP that Muslim political parties are not sincere with Pakistani Christians and PPP failed to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan. And the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group which is ruling Punjab province of Pakistan, totally failed to stop the violence against Christians on pretext to the blasphemy law. READ MORE

SC demands answers over arson attack on Christians- Pakistan’s top court yesterday ordered police and provincial officials to explain why they failed to  prevent a riot in a Christian area of Lahore in which more than 100 homes were torched. A mob of more than 3,000 furious Muslims rampaged through the Joseph Colony area of Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, on Saturday looting property and burning buildings after a Christian was accused of blasphemy. Three days went by between the blasphemy claims, which often provoke a violent public response in Pakistan, and the carnage in Joseph Colony.  Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohamed Chaudhry said the violence could have been avoided. “We would like to have a clear stance of (Punjab) provincial government on failure to provide protection to people,” Chaudhry said during a Supreme Court hearing. He rejected a report submitted by the provincial government, saying: “nothing has been produced to establish causes of the incident in Joseph Colony… we need a specific reply”. “Similarly, no specific reply has been submitted in the report about conduct of police officers including the inspector general of Punjab police, city police chief and the local in-charge of police in the area,” Chaudhry said. Police and locals said the blasphemy allegations stemmed from a drunken argument last Wednesday between a Christian sanitary worker and his Muslim friend, who accused the Christian of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad during the row. Punjab was the scene of one of the worst outbreaks of anti-Christian violence in recent years when a mob burned  77 houses and killed at least seven people in the town of Gojra in 2009 after rumours that a copy of the Holy Qur’ran had been desecrated. No one was killed in Saturday’s violence but Chaudhry said lessons should have been learned from Gojra and a system put in place to protect Christians. READ MORE

Call to let Christians migrate if Govt. can’t protect them- LAHORE: If the sate cannot protect the Christian community, it should authorise the migration of every Christian to another country. It wasn’t just Christians’ houses that were burnt in Joseph Colony, but the faith of the minority too was reduced to ashes with them. It’s been so many days and still inquiry report of this incident and similar incidents have not been made public, which further dents the trust of people in the state and its agenda. Regulation needs to be practiced to end the use of religious machinery like the announcements for rallying support for such actions through mosques to fan extremist religious sentiments. These views were shared by the guests at the Jang Forum, held in relevance with the Joseph Colony catastrophe. The guests at the forum were Allama Khalil-ur-Rahman Qadri, Dr Raghib Naeemi, PML-N MPA Mian Naseer and Christian rights activist Joseph Francis. Joseph Francis said that the sentiments of the community cannot be described in words as they have lost their faith in the government.READ MORE

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Request from Christians in Pakistan to Christians from all nations:

On March 15, 2013, PEACEFULLY protest at the Pakistan Embassy in your area. The march will be to petition them to end the violence against Christians suffering in Lahore. …This is the area where a Muslim mob destroyed a community by burning down a church, homes and vandalizing property, including Bibles. This event took place after a Christian was accused of blasphemy, which now is said to be false. Please share this information. Most Christians living in this area are extremely poor and have now lost everything. These Christians have undergone continued abuse by Muslims for many years, and they have reached a breaking point. Please keep them in your prayers. Ask that the Lord bring them peace, protection and that their needs are met. Pray that they refrain from retaliation, which will only bring more violence upon them. And remember the violators also, pray that they may find their way to Christ and become our brothers and sisters through Him. In Christ, we pray.

Pakistan: a study of reconciliation, restoration, and caution- Pakistan (MNN) ―  Police have arrested around 150 men a day after a mob set fire to homes in a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan. The Christian neighborhood of Joseph Colony in Lahore came under attack on Saturday after a Muslim accused a Christian of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed. No one was killed in the attack because police had cleared most of the Christian families from the area.  When it was over, the mob had torched over 170 houses, 18 shops, and two churches.  Christians protested on Sunday over the lack of protection and the existence of the blasphemy laws that have caused them no end of trouble.  Speaking on a spotty cell phone connection, we reached Hana*, a Christian from Pakistan involved in ministry there that encourages and equips the local church to face persecution.   She explains,  “Most of the blasphemy accusations in Pakistan have been false. This one is debatable, and there’s been a lot of speculation on it. We would hope that there would be some further investigation into the blasphemy laws of Pakistan. We don’t know what it holds in terms of a repeal of this law.” READ MORE

CCPO Lahore replaced over Joseph Colony attack-LAHORE: Amjad Javed Saleemi was removed from the post of Lahore’s Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) on Thursday following the Joseph Colony mob attack, reported Express News. Mohammad Amlesh was made the new CCPO who will serve as the 16th police chief of the city. Saleemi was previously serving as Sargodha’s regional police officer and had taken over from Additional IG Aslam Tareen. The Supreme Court, while hearing the suo motu case of the mob attack on Wednesday, had held the CCPO responsible for not stopping a mob from burning down more than 150 Christian homes in Joseph Colony in Lahore. The court had questioned the Punjab government regarding the steps taken against the inspector-general of police and the CCPO. The judges were further distressed when the CCPO himself admitted that the system had indeed failed to keep houses from being torched. SOURCE

Bible-burningWe had to burn our last hidden Bible North Korea– Hye first learned about Kim Il-Sung at school… and about God at home. From her earliest moments, she experienced the daily tension between faith in God and fear of a repressive government. Now living in South Korea, she tells us the story of her journey. Hye’s family has a long Christian heritage; her parents, grandparents and even great-grandfather were Christians. “During the Japanese occupation my grandmother was a member of a Baptist church, which was closed down after Kim Il-Sung came into power. However, she secretly kept meeting with other Christians. Everybody had to work for ten days, after which they had one day off. The Christians tried to arrange to work on their days off so that they could gather for Sunday services. They came on Saturday night and then stayed overnight. There were usually 5 or 6 people, but no more than ten.” Because her father’s job required him to meet a lot of people, visitors were not suspicious. “The people would gather in a small room in our home,” Hye relates. “They were almost silent. Children like me had to go outside and play. We also had to watch out for other people. As soon as someone came near to our house I ran home to warn my grandmother. She was the leader of the group and also the preacher.” READ MORE

New Update- Saeed’s Orphanage, Video:Naghmeh Abedini with children, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is AliveCOVERAGE HERE

SaveSaeed.org: Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh asks you to take action for her husband.

SaveSaeed: 23,000 more signatures needed by Friday, March 15! Join Jay as he goes in front of Congress by signing the petition! SIGN HERE

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Iran Christian Inmates Face “Huge” Bail; Sweden To Deport Converts- TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– An Iranian court has told five jailed members of the evangelical Church of Iran movement that they can be released temporarily if they pay what trial observers call “exorbitant bail terms” of up to $200,000. The ruling, published Tuesday, March 12, came while two Iranian converts reportedly faced imminent deportation from Sweden, despite fears they may be executed as “apostates” in their home country. Church of Iran members Mohammad Roghangir, Surush Saraie, Eskandar Rezaie, Shahin Lahooti and Massoud Rezaie were expected to face a trial on charges of evangelizing, disturbing public order, action against national security and an Internet activity against the system. However the 14th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Shiraz told the Christians they could be released on bail, trial observers said. Mohammed Roghangir was reportedly ordered to pay the equivalent of $200,000, while the others were asked for $80,000 each. It was not immediately clear whether their families and supporters would be able to raise these funds. No date was set for the continuation of the trial. READ MORE

whitehouseCongressman alarmed at Christian plight in Mideast- WASHINGTON – A Republican congressman who just returned from the Middle East  says U.S. aid to Egypt should be conditioned on how it treats its besieged  Christian minority. Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf says  many of the Coptic Christians he met believe the U.S. supports Egypt’s Muslim  Brotherhood regime regardless of the persecution they suffer. Wolf also visited Christian refugees in Lebanon who have fled Syria’s civil  war. Despite overwhelming support in the House, Wolf’s bill  creating a Special Envoy for Religious Minorities in the Middle East and South  Central Asia has been rebuffed by the Senate and State Department. He says the Middle East, where Christianity first took  root, is at risk of losing virtually all of its native Christian population. SOURCE

Six Children Killed in Slaughter of Families in Plateau State, Nigeria- KOGOM TAH, Nigeria, March 8, 2013 (Morning Star News) – Regina Luka does not know whether it was rogue soldiers or Islamic terrorists who invaded her dual-family dwelling here and killed 10 Christians; she only knows her husband and two young children are dead. The 20-year-old Luka was recovering from gunshot and machete wounds on her legs and back when she spoke with Morning Star News about the attack on Feb. 21 in Kogom Tah, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Jos in central Nigeria’s Plateau state.
From her bed at Vom Christian Hospital about six miles from the village, she said she and her brother-in-law’s family had gathered in front of their joint-home compound to discuss burial arrangements for their recently deceased grandfather when gunmen began shooting sporadically at them. “I ran into our house and straight into our bedroom to take cover and to ensure that my children were safe, but minutes after getting into the room, some gunmen forced their way into the room, shooting and cutting anyone they found with machetes,” the tearful Luka recounted. Flying bullets forced her to dive under a bed, but the assailants dragged her out, cut her back with a machete and shot her buttocks and leg.   “Six of us had run into that room, but five were killed while I was the lone survivor in the room,” Luka said. “Those who attacked us thought I was dead, and so they left.” READ MORE

Persecution and the Pope – Pope Francis I should be a strong defender of persecuted religious believers of all faiths. The world is in dire need of such PopeFrancisIleadership. Religious persecution is the gravest human-rights abuse of our day, both in its global reach and the numbers affected and in its implications for regional stability and world peace. When Congress enacted and President Clinton signed into law the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, the United States became a world leader in the defense of religious freedom, with the high point of American leadership being a negotiated end to a religious conflict in South Sudan that had taken some 2 million lives. But it is a world leader no more. Washington has abdicated that role even as religious repression is intensifying internationally.– Ongoing religious persecution should be a major concern of the Catholic Church. In sheer numbers, Christians are the most persecuted religious group, suffering under the remaining militantly secular Communist regimes, under Islamist regimes, and under some nationalist regimes. And these persecutors of Christians typically persecute other religious minorities as well. READ MORE

USCIRF Speaks Out about Religious Freedom Violations in Iran- WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) yesterday met with family members of Baha’is unjustly imprisoned in Iran.  These family members seek to highlight the status of their family members and friends who have been persecuted and imprisoned solely for adhering to their faith.   “During the past year, religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate in Iran, especially for religious minorities, most notably Baha‘is and Christians,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF’s Chair.   “In fact, religious freedom conditions in Iran have regressed to a point not seen since the early days of the Islamic revolution more than 30 years ago.” USCIRF will be testifying on Friday, March 15, before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on The Worsening Plight of Religious Minorities in Iran.

snipped: The Special Rapporteur’s report also highlighted the perilous status of Christians in Iran who are being arrested and prosecuted on vaguely worded national security crimes for exercising their beliefs.  USCIRF has condemned the treatment of Christians in Iran and spoken out against the charging and sentencing of Iranian-born American pastor Saeed Abedini to eight years in prison for “threatening the national security of Iran. For over a decade, USCIRF has recommended, and the State Department has designated, Iran as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).  Iran has merited this most serious and critical designation for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused. READ MORE

Christian Tortured by Libyan Islamists Dies in Custody-An Egyptian human rights organization said that an Egyptian Coptic Christian who died behind_bars_xsmallwhile being detained by Libyan Islamists was tortured to death. Ezzat Hakim Attallah was one of over 50 Coptic Christians detained by Libyan authorities last month and charged with proselytizing. Naguib Guebrayel, a Coptic Christian attorney who heads a group called Egyptian Union for Human Rights, told AFP News that Attallah “died after being tortured with other detainees.” Fox News reported that Atallah, who was among several dozen Egyptian Christian detained since February 25 in Benghazi, had been hospitalized March 6 before he was brought back to his cell and later died, according to family members. Attallah brother, Effat Hakim Atallah, said that Attallah had originally been arrested February 13 while working at a mobile phone shop in a Benghazi marketplace. Other Egyptian merchants from surrounding shop stalls were arrested as well, supposedly because they had displayed Christian symbols in their businesses. Fox News reported that Atallah’s wife visited him three days after his arrest “and found him in a state of severe fatigue and with bruises and cuts, according to Effat Hakim Atallah.” At that time, said the brother, Libyan officials had already subjected him to both physical and psychological torture. “According to Atallah’s wife,” Fox continued, “he was arrested because his telephone number was found on a telephone of another suspect who had been arrested for possession of Christian books.” READ MORE

NigeriaNigerian Christians in U.S. Decry FG’s Inability to Tame Boko Haram- NIGERIAN Christians based in the United States of America, operating under the aegis of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN) have expressed disgust over the continuous killing of Christians in the northern part of the country. Consequently, CANAN recently came down hard on the Federal Government for its inability to checkmate the activities of the Boko Haram sect in parts of the country. The group pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to seek for the intervention and assistance of the US President, Barack Obama to end the menace. At a joint press conference with the Secretary General of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, in Abuja, CANAN president, Dr. James Fadele gave the advice, while donating the sum of $50,000 (about N8 million) as relief funds. At the occasion, a former Minister of Education Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, broke into tears after listening to Pastor Sarana Chinda of All Saints Protestant Church, Hauran Wanki, Barracks, Kano on how eight members of his congregation were wiped out for refusing to renounce Jesus Christ.  READ MORE

China to abolish hated labour camps-Senior Chinese government officials have pledged to abolish the country’s hated re-education-through-labour prison camps. The system involves extra-judicial detention in which dissidents, underground Christians and minor criminals are sent away to remote labour camps for many years at a time, often without their families even being notified. At the end of this week China’s annual session of parliament, the National People’s Congress, will endorse a group of leaders who will immediately become some of the most powerful people in the world. While analysts are still watching for any signs of the direction the incoming administration of Xi Jinping may take the Asian giant, it appears they are already on the record with the key promise. In freezing and remote parts of China there are about 350 labour camps holding about 160,000 prisoners who did not step into a courtroom before their detention. They have been judged by the local police or other officials to be in need of re-education through labour – often for being troublemakers or dissidents – and face up to four years of deprivation, arduous work and physical abuse. China’s legal fraternity has been increasingly critical of the system. Some say it is unconstitutional. READ MORE

Bajrang Dal men attack Christian prayer house in Udupi, 7 injured- Seven persons were injured when they were allegedly assaulted by Bajrang Dal activists during an attack on a Christian prayer house at Moodubelle in Udupi district, on suspicion that conversion activities were being carried out there, a senior police official said. The attack was carried out on Friday night after the activists had lodged a police complaint against a man, accusing him of indulging in conversion, Udupi SP D R Boralingaiah told PTI. A group of Bajrang Dal activists barged into the man’s residence at Moodubelle, also a prayer house, and assaulted the people gathered there, he said, adding that 19 of them had been arrested.  Senior officials, including IGP Pratap Reddy visited the place. The coastal districts of Udupi and Mangalore had in the past seen attacks on churches triggered by suspicion that they were carrying out conversion. SOURCE

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Pakistani Christians call for repeal of blasphemy law and voting reform/Sister claims accused innocent

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New York: March 11, 2013. (PCP) We will only support and vote if the Muslim party will publically promise Pakistani Christians that the blasphemy law will be repealed and Dual voting rights will be granted to Chritians, said Mr. William Shahzad, Chairman of Pakistani Christian Association in USA, PCA here today.

Mr. William Shahzad told Pakistan Christian Post PCP that Muslim political parties are not sincere with Pakistani Christians and PPP failed to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan. And the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group which is ruling Punjab province of Pakistan, totally failed to stop the violence against Christians on pretext to the blasphemy law.
Pictures in the News: Lahore, PakistanThe Punjab government promised to punish culprits of Gojra Town, but later facilitated to let them walk  free. The DPO of Gojra was promoted and given a job in Lahore city which allowed the Muslim mob to burn homes of Gojra Christians.

Mr. William Shahzad who is Chairman of PCA and senior advisor of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC said that I appeal to Christians not to vote PPP, PML (N), PML (Q) Anp, MQM, PML (F) JUI (F), JI and other Muslim political parties in the forthcoming elections, until they announce to repeal the blasphemy law and an election for Christians to vote their representatives on reserved seats in parliament. Source

Though the article claims seven Christians were injured in the fire, at this time we can not confirm it.

Sawan’s sister seeks justice

LAHORE: The sister of the man accused of blasphemy in the Badami Bagh area of the city has called upon the Supreme Court as well as the government to provide her family justice.

Bushra, the sister of blasphemy accused Sawan Masih, says her brother is innocent.

Sawan’s sister-in-law Kiran said Imran Bashir, the man who accused Sawan of blasphemy, was his trusted friend and she never saw the two arguing with each other over any issue.

She said the protesters did not even touch the warehouses owned by Muslim traders and Bashir’s barber shop and this showed only Christians were the target.

She said her family was quite satisfied after voluntarily handing over Sawan to police for investigation on Friday evening. She said police officials visited the locality on Friday night and asked the Christians to vacate their houses to avoid protesters’ wrath. “We all vacated our houses and the protesters looted and burnt them,” Kiran said.

“It seems police were well aware of the plan,” she added. Source

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