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Kidnapped 12-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan was found chained in home of ‘husband.’
Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Asif Masih beamed with joy to have his 12-year-old daughter back home on Tuesday (Feb. 16) in Faisalabad, Pakistan following her alleged kidnapping and forcible conversion and marriage to a 45-year-old Muslim.
“Praise God, for He has answered our prayers and rescued my daughter,” Masih said hours after Faisalabad Session Judge Rana Masood Akhtar ordered that Farah Shaheen be released from a government shelter “because she wants to go with him.” In a Jan. 23 hearing, Farah had told the court that she wanted to live with her so-called husband, Khizar Hayat – a statement made under threats and pressure at the shelter, her lawyer said.
The court verdict states that since the marriage between Farah and Hayat was not registered and a Nikahnama (Islamic marriage contract) was not verified by the area union council, she could not be kept in the shelter indefinitely.
“She’s deeply traumatized and fearful, but my child is very happy to be back in her family,” Masih told Morning Star News. “Just when we thought that we had lost her, this miracle happened. May God keep all daughters in His protection.”
Masih, a Roman Catholic daily wage laborer, had fought for Farah’s recovery since she was allegedly kidnapped by three Muslims from the family’s home in the Ahmedabad area of Faisalabad in June. The child was allegedly raped, forcibly converted to Islam and forced to marry Hayat.
Although intercourse with a girl below age 16 is statutory rape in Pakistan, in most cases a falsified conversion certificate and Nikahnama influences police and courts to pardon kidnappers.
Hayat was taken into custody and released on bail, but he has yet to be charged for alleged kidnapping or rape, and fears for Farah’s security remain.
Police found Farah chained in the suspect’s home on Dec. 5 after Masih reported she had been kidnapped on June 25, and a judge ordered her to be kept in police custody; she was then sent to a government-run shelter home while her case went to court.
Church leaders and rights activists said they fear that such shelter homes, police and courts were facilitating the forced conversions of Christian girls.
Rights activist Lala Robin Daniel told Morning Star News that Hayat and his alleged accomplices would remain a threat to Masih and his family until they are taken into custody and punished.
“All those who were involved in this case should be given exemplary punishments so that people have a fear of the law,” Daniel told Morning Star News. “Unless stern legislation is brought against forced conversions of minor girls and the accused are punished, there is little hope for safety of our children.”
Legislation on Religious Conversion
A parliamentary panel on minorities has forwarded key legislation to the government on curbing forced conversions of minority girls in Pakistan, recommending that only adults should be allowed to change religion and only after appearing before a senior district judge.
The Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions on Tuesday (Feb. 16) recommended that the Stymie Forced Religious Conversion Bill be forwarded to the Senate, which will decide whether to forward the draft to the relevant ministry.
The bill includes recommendations for validating conversion, stating, “Any person who is not a child and able and willing to convert to another religion will apply for a conversion certificate from the additional sessions judge of the area where the person ordinarily resides.”
The bill calls for an application form that would include conversion candidates’ current religion, age, gender, national identity number, reason for conversion and details of parents, siblings, children and spouse if any.
The committee suggested that the additional sessions judge shall set a date for an interview within seven days of receipt of the application for conversion.
“On the date provided, the person shall present himself/herself before the additional sessions judge who shall ensure that the conversion is not under any duress and not due to any deceit or fraudulent misrepresentation,” the bill states.
The additional sessions judge may, upon the conversion candidates’ request, arrange his/her meeting with religious scholars of the religion the person wishes to convert to, according to the draft. A clause also empowers the additional sessions judge to grant 90 days to the person to undertake a comparative study of the religions and return to the office of the judge.
“Only after satisfaction, the additional sessions judge may issue the certificate of change of religion,” the draft states.
Church leaders endorsed the recommendations in the bill but questioned the will of the government to address the issue.
“This is not the first time such practical recommendations have been proposed to the government, but unfortunately all such pro-minority legislations are either put on the back-burner or outright dismissed under pressure from religious groups,” said Pakistan National Council of Churches President Bishop Azad Marshall.
The Senate’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs recently rejected a bill seeking protection for Pakistan’s minorities against religiously motivated violence.
Committee chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, of the far-right Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, claimed in a Feb. 2 meeting that minorities in Pakistan already enjoyed “unprecedented religious freedom” and that therefore there was no need for more legislation. Sen. Sirajul Haq of the hard-line Jamaat-e-Islami derided the bill as part of the agenda of Non-Governmental Organizations.
Bishop Marshall said it was unfortunate that some religious leaders have created hindrances to such crucial legislation over the years.
“Forced conversions, misuse of blasphemy law, hate speech and religious violence are real issues affecting the minority communities that need to be tackled together as a national cause,” he said.
Former parliamentarian and rights advocate Mary James Gill said the protection for minorities bill introduced by her Muslim party colleague, Sen. Javed Abbasi, was a sincere effort to curb forced conversions and other issues facing non-Muslim citizens, especially Christians and Hindus.
“It’s time that the government and opposition parties should rise beyond party lines and seriously work on these issues,” she said. “Intolerance and extremism are increasing in our country, and if we don’t stop them now, this fire will eventually devour all of us.”
Gill lauded the recommendations made in the religious conversion bill but, like Bishop Marshall, she too voiced concern over how Islamist parties and groups would react to it.
“Religious leaders need to understand that legislation for protection of minorities does not mean an attack on their faith,” she said. “Matters like forced conversion and misuse of blasphemy laws are serious human rights issues, and all of us need to take a firm stand against it.”
Pakistan led the world in forced marriages, with about 1,000 Christians married against their will to non-Christians from November 2019 to October 2020, according to Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report. In terms of abductions, the report listed Pakistan as fourth with an estimated 100 kidnappings.
Overall, Pakistan was ranked No. 5 on the 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
According to the Center for Social Justice, 162 questionable conversions have appeared in the media since 2013. About 52 percent of allegedly forced conversions occurred in Punjab Province, and 44 percent in Sindh Province, while 1.23 percent each were reported in the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas. One case was reported from Balochistan Province.
The data show that 54.3 percent of the girls and women were Hindu, 44.4 percent were Christian and 0.62 percent belonged to Sikh and Kalash communities.
More than 46.3 percent of the victims of forced conversion were minors – with 32.7 percent between the ages of 11 and 15 – while only 16.7 percent of the victims were above 18 years old, though lower courts did not always verify those ages through records of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and schools.
VOP Note: Please pray for the many Christian girls who are kidnapped, forced to convert and married to their abductors. They suffer horrific abuse with physical and mental injuries.
(Morning Star News) – Tribal Hindus persecuted a widowed, Christian mother of four before her body was found severely mutilated in the wilderness near her village in Chhattisgarh, India, sources said.
The body of 40-year-old Bajjo Bai Mandavi was initially unrecognizable as it appeared to have been eaten by wild animals when it was found two miles into the wilderness near her native Kumud village, Kuye Mari, on May 29. She was last seen going into the wilderness of Kondagaon District to collect firewood on May 25.
The death threats, deprivation of water and shunning she had suffered at the hands of villagers who were upset that she left their blend of Hindu and traditional tribal rituals led family members and area Christian leaders to believe she was raped and killed before animals fed on her body, they said.
“There was no way to find out who the people were who raped my sister-in-law and then murdered her, so police and the authorities thought best to call it an attack by a wild animal,” a sobbing Bhajnath Mandavi, her brother-in-law, told Morning Star News.
Bhajnath Mandavi is the younger brother of Bhola Mandavi, who died of an illness four years ago, leaving Bajjo Bai Mandavi with children who are now 6, 8, 12 and 17.
Villagers had met four times to discuss action against her, area pastor Rupesh Kumar Salam told Morning Star News.
“She was threatened and asked to leave her faith and re-convert, but she boldly took a stand for her faith,” said Pastor Salam, who leads a church of about 120 people in nearby Kue Mari.
Bajjo Bai Mandavi had attended Sunday services there regularly with her children. In Kumud village, hers was one of just two Christian families among 21 other families.
The tribal Hindu families prohibited her from fetching water from the common village tap, forcing her to walk miles for it, Pastor Salam said.
“She bravely fought all the odds and refused to deny her faith even after she started to receive death threats from the Hindu extremist villagers,” Pastor Salam told Morning Star News. “Bajjo Bai became a Christian a little more than three years ago, and since then had faced severe opposition from the villagers.”
She regularly talked about the threats and shunning she and her children faced from the tribal Hindu villagers, he said.
“I always told her that we are praying for her and that everything will be fine – we could never imagine that she would face such brutality,” Pastor Salam said. “She was raped and then murdered by religious extremists for her Christian faith.”
Brother-in-law Mandavi said her own brother, who lives in her village, would not speak with her after she became a Christian three years ago.
“Nobody except one Christian family would speak to Bajjo Bai and her children,” he said.
An influential, tribal Hindu family in the village likely had a hand in the alleged rape and killing, said a source close to her family who requested anonymity.
“The villagers and all of us know who they are, but no action would be taken against them,” the source said. “They have a lot of money to enable them to keep themselves out of any trouble.”
If a homicide, it would be the third religiously motivated killing of a Christian in India within a few weeks. In Bari village, Jharkhand state, followers of tribal religion on June 7 abducted and killed Kande Munda. On the night of June 4 in Odisha state, followers of tribal religion abducted 16-year-old Sambaru Madkami for his faith before stabbing and stoning him to death.
In Uttar Pradesh state on May 28, villagers tried to kill pastor Dinesh Kumar in an ambush that left him unconscious.
Foul Play Dismissed
The remains of the semi-naked body were found in the wilderness by the driver of a passing tractor loaded with road construction material, Pastor Salam said.
The driver notified police, and Christians arrived at the site of the body with officers, he said.
The head of Kumud and four other area mountain villages, Gurcharan Bhandari, denied any foul play.
“She was probably killed by a wild animal,” Bhandari told Morning Star News.
Though he had not seen the police report, he said that it states that she was killed by a wild animal. Family members and church leaders also have not received a copy of the police report.
The village chief said an autopsy took place at the site where the body was discovered. Though neither he, victim family members or church leaders have received a copy of the autopsy report, Bhandari said it indicated that she was mauled to death by a wild animal.
The village chief said it was common for wild animals to attack humans in the wilderness but admitted that no such attack had ever taken place in the area where she was collecting firewood. He said the last attack took place three years ago in a far different part of the wilderness.
Bhandari said he suspects a bear might have killed her but could not explain why only her legs appeared to have been eaten.
Siya Yadav, who pastors a church in Keshkal 18 miles from Kumud, said he saw the body while driving his car after road construction forced him to a detour through the wilderness on May 28, but that he did not stop to look closer.
He visited the site later and said a wild animal possibly fed on the body after it lay in the wilderness for days.
“We could see that she died at one spot where the bundle of the sticks lay – there were evident marks that she was dragged by a wild animal to another spot and from there to the third spot,” Pastor Yadav told Morning Star News.
Search for Justice
Brother-in-law Bhajnath Mandavi said he is caring for the deceased’s two younger children. The 12-year-old child has been living with another relative 30 miles away for the past year, he said.
“I am still in shock. I do not know what the future of her four children will be,” said Mandavi, who was unable to attend his sister-in-law’s funeral due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
The oldest son, a contract laborer in Tamil Nadu state, was also forced to miss the funeral due to travel restrictions, he said.
“The eldest son could not come home even at his mother’s death,” Mandavi said.
Bajjo Bai Mandavi had supported her family as a daily-wage laborer. A senior pastor and Christian leader in the area said converts to Christianity in India’s rural areas increasingly face the threats and shunning she suffered.
“Social boycott is very real,” Pastor Son Singh told Morning Star News. “It is practiced even against high-ranking government officials when they accept Christ, so what can we say about this woman who was just a poor person and also a widow?”
Chhattisgarh Christian Forum President Arun Pannalal said Bajjo Bai Mandavi’s death exemplifies violence against Christians that is routinely dismissed.
“This is a crime against a minority community, and the authorities are not doing anything about it,” Pannalal told Morning Star News. “The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum will move to the High Court if this matter is not taken seriously.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on April 28 urged the U.S. State Department to add India as a “Country of Particular Concern” to its list of nations with poor records of protecting religious freedom.
India is ranked 10th on the Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
(Raymond Ibrahim) Hate for and Violence against Christians
Cameroon: Militant Muslims reportedly connected with the Nigerian based Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, “reached new heights” of depravity, according to a report: after devastating the Christian village of Kalagari in a raid, they kidnapped and fled with eight women. Some of the women were later released—but only after having their ears cut off (image here). The report adds that Boko Haram “has terrorised Christian communities in Nigeria for the last decade and has now splintered and spread its violent ideology into Cameroon, Niger and Chad.”
Nigeria: On August 29, Chuck Holton, a CBN News reporter, aired a segment on his visit with Christian refugees who had fled Boko Haram’s incursions into their villages. Among the stories of death and devastation, the following, spoken by a young man, stood out: “On 29 September 2014 was the day that they attacked my village. Around ten I had a call that they have killed my dad. They asked him to deny Christ and when he refused they cut off his right hand. Then he refused [again], they cut to the elbow. In which he refused, before they shot him in the forehead, the neck, and chest.” “Many of the 1,500 Christians living in this camp have similar stories,” adds Holton.
Indonesia: A Muslim preacher in a Christian majority region referred to the Christian cross as “an element of the devil,” prompting outrage among Christians and some moderates. Sheikh Abdul Somad made the comment during a videotaped sermon when he was asked why Muslims “felt a chill whenever they saw a crucifix.” “Because of Satan! Was his response: “There’s an evil jinn in every crucifix that wants to convert people into Christianity.” Christians and moderates condemned his words. Even so, “I can’t imagine the reaction if it had been another preacher of a different religion insulting an Islamic symbol,” observed one moderate. “There would have been a tsunami of protests, with the perpetrator severely punished.” Sheikh Somad responded by releasing another video; his excuse was that he was unaware that non-Muslims might hear his words: “The Quran reciting session was held in a closed mosque, not at a stadium, a football field, nor aired on television,” he explained. “It was for Muslims internally. I was answering a question about statues and the position of the Prophet Isa (Jesus) relative to Muslims.”
Burkina Faso: Although most mainstream media downplay the religious element in Muslim on Christian violence in Africa, attacks on the Christians of Burkina Faso have become so flagrantly based on religion that the Washington Post published a report on August 21 titled, “Islamist militants are targeting Christians in Burkina Faso.” Its author, Danielle Paquette, explained that “A spreading Islamist insurgency has transformed Burkina Faso from a peaceful country known for farming, a celebrated film festival and religious tolerance into a hotbed of extremism.” She noted that the jihadis have been checking people’s necks for Christian symbols, killing anyone wearing a crucifix or carrying any other Christian image. In a separate report discussing several deadly attacks on Christians and their churches, Bishop Dabiré said, “If this continues without anyone intervening, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence in this area and — perhaps in the future —in the entire country.
Egypt: Authorities reinstated Sheikh Yasser Burhami, a notoriously “radical” cleric and hate preacher, to the pulpit (minbar) despite strong opposition. Burhami had previously issued numerous fatwas—edicts based on Islamic scriptures—that demand hate and hostility for non-Muslims, most specifically the nation’s largest and most visible minority, the Christian Copts, whom Burhami has referred to as “a criminal and infidel minority,” and has invoked “Allah’s curse” on them. He once went so far as to say that, although a Muslim man is permitted to marry Christian or Jewish women (ahl al-kitab), he must make sure he still hates them in his heart—and show them this hate—because they are infidels; otherwise he risks compromising his Islam. Burhami has also stated that churches—which he refers to as “places of polytheism (shirk) and houses of infidelity (kufr)”—must never be built in Egypt. He issued a separate fatwa forbidding Muslim taxi and bus drivers from transporting Christian clergymen to their churches, an act he depicted as being “more forbidden than taking someone to a liquor bar.” Burhami’s fatwas also include calling for the persecution of apostates, permitting Muslim husbands to abandon their wives to rape, permitting “marriage” to 12-year-old girls, and banning Mother’s Day. In a video, Dr. Naguib Ghobrial, a Coptic activist, politician, and head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization—which over the years has lodged 22 separate complaints against Burhami—repeatedly questioned Egypt’s leading religious authorities’ decision to reinstate the hate preaching sheikh:
Is what Burhami teaches truly what Islam teaches—is that why no one has done anything to him [in regards to the 22 complaints lodged against him]? Truly I’m shocked! Please answer Sheikh of Al Azhar; please answer Grand Mufti: are the things Burhami teaches what Islam teaches? Is this why none of you oppose him or joined us when we lodged complaints against him?… Why are you so silent? Amazing!
The Slaughter of Christians
Pakistan: “A ten year old Christian child who chose to work in a dangerous scrap factory so he could support his mother who had to fend for a family of two boys and a drug-addict husband, was raped and tortured before being killed by his Muslim employers,” according to a report (with photos). Badil, 10, worked at the men’s factory in order to support his impoverished mother, Sharifa Bibi:
I worked hard for many hours just for the sake of my two sons so that they would not have to suffer as I have suffered without education. My son Badil couldn’t bear to see the struggle of his mother and insisted on working to help the family—despite my insistence that he avoid work till he was older. Badil was such a responsible son. Daily before leaving for work he asked me what should bring in the evening from his wages. I insisted that he kept his money for himself, but he brought groceries like sugar, rice, flour, ghee daily.
Badil had to walk long distances and work for many hours a day to earn the equivalent of one dollar a day. Soon his employer began to cheat him on his wages. His mother insisted that he quit, but the boy persevered; at one point he took his younger brother, 9, with him to help. When the employers refused to pay his brother anything for his contribution, Badil finally decided to quit—which angered his Muslim employer. His younger brother recalls:
As Mr Akram heard this he ran to hit Badil but Badil ran from the shop and Akram gave chase. However, A friend of Akram was standing nearby on his motorcycle and told Akram to sit behind him, then both men chased Badil till they caught up with him. Akram then got off the motorcycle and dragged Badil back to the store. They took Badil inside the store which is full of scrap. For half an hour I was completely unaware of what was happening with Badil inside. Eventually both men came outside and pretended as if nothing had happened inside. I thought my brother had also left the store from another exit so I went to look for him. I searched vigorously for 15 minutes and then saw my mother [approaching to walk the boys home], so I rushed to her to tell her what had happened.
Sharifa and her younger son searched frantically for Badil and finally found him collapsed on the ground near their home. They rushed to him, thinking he was exhausted from the day’s work and subsequent thrashing, but quickly realized that he was barely breathing: “At this point the whole situation was too much to bear for Sharifa who began to scream and wail hysterically,” the report notes. Badil was taken to a hospital where, seven hours later, the boy was pronounced dead. His brother “has been traumatised following his brother’s death and hasn’t left his house since and often screams in terror thinking the men responsible will take him too.”
Cameroon: A Bible translator “was butchered to death on Sunday morning [August 25] during an overnight attack while his wife’s arm was cut off,” according to a report: “Bible translator Angus Abraham Fung was among seven people said to have been killed during an attack carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen sometime during the early hours of Sunday morning in the town of Wum, according to Efi Tembon, who leads a ministry called Oasis Network for Community Transformation.” Fulani herdsmen are Muslim and the chief persecutors of Christian farmers in Nigeria. “They went into houses and pulled out the people,” Tembon explained: “They attacked in the night and nobody was expecting. They just went into the home, pulled them out and slaughtered them.” Fung’s wife, Eveline Fung, who had her arm hacked off was last reported as receiving a blood transfusion at a local hospital.
Attacks against Apostates and Evangelists
Iran: Authorities sentenced a 65-year-old woman, a Muslim convert to Christianity, to one year in prison, on the charge that she was “acting against national security” and engaging in “propaganda against the system.” According to the report, “The hearing was owing to her arrest shortly before Christmas when three agents from Iranian intelligence raided her home and took Mahrokh to intelligence offices where she endured ten days of intensive interrogation before she was released after submitting bail of 30 million Toman (US$2,500).” Friends of the woman said that “the judge was very rude and tried to humiliate Mahrokh after she disagreed with him.”
Separately, a Kurdish bookseller in Bokan, Western Azarbaijan province, was arrested for selling Bibles. According to the August 27 report, “Mostafa Rahimi was arrested on 11 June on charge of selling bible[s] in his bookstore, and he was released later on bail until the court issued his sentence. Hengaw Organization for Human Rights has learned that Rahimi is sentenced to 3 months and 1 day imprisonment. Later in mid-August he was arrested again, and he is currently at the central prison of Bokan.” Another report elaborates: “Iran’s government is officially Islamic, and authorities actively restrict access to Bibles and other Christian literature. Sharing one’s faith is categorized as a criminal offense, usually of the national security nature. The authorities often pressure Christians so extensively, routinely violating their human rights, that they are given no choice but to escape their country.”
Somaliland: An August 16 report shares the experiences a married Muslim woman, 32, underwent after her husband discovered a Bible in her possession.
“I told my husband that I found the Bible in Nairobi and wanted to read it,” the woman responded. “He just pronounced the word talaq [Arabic for divorce] to me. I knew that our marriage had just been rendered null and void because I joined Christianity, so without wasting time I left the homestead…. There and then he took our two daughters [ages 4 and 7] away from me and divorced me. He gave me a stern warning that I should not come close to the children, and that if I do, he will take the Bible to the Islamic court and I will be killed by stoning for becoming an apostate.”
Her former husband proceeded to expose the clandestine Christian to her Muslim family. “My brothers beat me mercilessly with sticks as well as denying me food,” she said. “I feared to report the case to the police or the local administration, because they will charge me with a criminal offense of apostasy in accordance with the sharia.” She has since relocated to an undisclosed location: “God has spared my life, and my fellow underground Christians in other regions of Somalia have received me and shared the little they have, but I am very traumatized.” According to the report,
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims. Somalia is ranked 3rd on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Pakistan: After opening a summer education program for the youth, a Christian family was “terrorized” and forced to shut down on the accusation that they were clandestinely trying to convert Muslim children to Christianity. According to a family member: “We started a project for interfaith harmony and education teaching marginalized children from different faiths about a year ago. In June, we started a summer camp that provided a free program for children that have dropped out of school. The design of this program was to provide guidance for these children to become civilized and tolerant.” Two weeks into the summer program, a group of men, two of whom were armed, stormed into the academy, did violence to the property and harassed the children, and beat one of the instructors: “They threatened us with consequences if the academy was not shut down. They alleged that we were promoting Christianity and were doing Christian evangelism. For safety and security, we had no other choice but to obey the extremists and shutdown the academy…. I don’t want to lose my son or any family member. This terrorizing incident has already put us into trauma.”
In a separate incident in Pakistan, around 4 a.m. of August 2, seven Muslim men stormed into a parish house, where they tied up and savagely beat two young priests, Fr. Anthony Abraz and Fr. Shahid Boota, all while they “humiliated and abused them for preaching the Gospel in a Muslim-majority neighborhood.” The invaders also vandalized the building—including by breaking windows, bookshelves, and cupboards—and desecrated Christian objects, including Bibles, Christian literature, and icons. Afterwards, “We were told we will have to face consequences if this house is not vacated,” Fr. Abraz reported. “They said, ‘We don’t want a Christian center near the mosque.’”
Finally, increasing numbers of Christian girls continue to be targeted for kidnapping, rape, and/or forced conversion in Pakistan. According to one report,
In August, Yasmeen Ashraf, age 15, and Muqadas Tufail, age 14, were kidnapped and raped by three men in Kasur. The pair of Christian girls were taken when they were on their way to work as domestic workers. Also in August, another young Christian girl, named Kanwal, was kidnapped, raped, and forcefully converted to Islam by a group of Muslim men and a cleric in Lala Musa, located in the Gujart District. After reuniting her family, Kanwal shared that she had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and threatened with the deaths of her brothers if she refused to convert to Islam.
In the previous month of July, at least three similar cases occurred. “Oppression exists in different layers for Christian girls in Pakistan. They are suffering on the bases of gender, religion, and class. It has been documented that young Christian girls face higher levels of sexual harassment and are persecuted for their Christian faith,” Nabila Feroz Bhatti, a human rights defender in Lahore, said in response to the aforementioned incidents. Similarly, the Pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need, announced in August that it “is sounding the alarm on the plight of young Christian women, and even teenagers, in Pakistan who are forced to convert to Islam.” “Every year at least a thousand girls are kidnapped, raped, and forced to convert to Islam, even forced to marry their tormentors,” elaborated Tabassum Yousaf, a local Catholic lawyer.
Meanwhile, those who try to protect Christian girls are punished. On August 16, Maskeen Khan and two other Muslim men attacked the home of Bahadur Masih, a Christian. While holding a knife, Khan and his partners tried to rape Masih’s daughter, Rachel, but were prevented by the rudely awoken family that immediately and desperately responded. “Since the Christian family was defending themselves, Khan also got some injuries,” Ahsan Masih Sindhu, a local Christian political leader, reported. “The family handed Khan over to police and he got medical treatment. However, he later died in police custody.” Police arrested and charged four members of the family with murder, even though they were in their own home protecting their daughter from violent intruders. Other members of the family have gone into hiding due to threats from the dead would-be rapist’s relatives. “We are sad about the death of Khan, however, the Christian family did have the right to defend,” Sindhu explained. “The police must conduct a fair investigation into this incident.” Instead, police are denying the family the “right to defend” itself.
Attacks on Churches
Algeria: On August 6, police barged into a church during worship service, evacuated reluctant worshippers, and sealed the church building off. “I am deeply saddened by so much injustice – it breaks my heart,” Messaoud Takilt, the pastor said. “This is not surprising since other Christian places of worship have been closed and sealed as was the case today. But anyway, we will continue to celebrate our services outside while the Lord gives us grace for a final solution.” When police denied, with a veiled threat, his request to at least let the worship service conclude, “The assembly finally yielded and agreed to leave the premises, but with much pain. Some went out with eyes full of tears. ” Police proceeded to empty the premises of all furniture and sealed off every door before the distressed pastor (picture here). Responding to this latest church closure the World Evangelical Alliance issued a statement on August 12 calling on Algeria to cease closing and instead reopen churches. A portion follows:
We deeply regret that two additional churches were forcibly closed by administrative decisions, in May and in August 2019 in the city of Boudjima, northeast of Tizi-Ouzou in Kabylie Region. This brings the number of forcibly closed churches to 6, including one house church…. Many more churches are threatened with closure, amid denial of formal registration and recognition by authorities.
Indonesia: Muslim protestors compelled local authorities to revoke a permit for and cease construction of a Baptist church in Central Java. On August 1, residents went to the partially constructed church and padlocked its fence. A meeting was later held between the church, local residents, authorities, and others. Although the pastor displayed the governmentally issued permit to build a church, Muslim residents insisted that it was wrongly given, leading to a standstill in negotiations. In the previous month, July, two other churches were shut down in Indonesia following local protests.
Turkey: St. Theodoros Trion, an abandoned, historic church—the original Greek congregation of which was purged by the Ottoman Empire—was vandalized, including with genocidal slogans. According to the report,
The vandals sprayed hate speech across the church’s walls. The vandalism was largely a reference to the secularism that Ataturk, modern Turkey’s founder, had forced into the governmental structure…. Just a few years ago, the same church was targeted by Islamist vandals who wrote slogans such as “the priest is gone, he went to the mosque” — a reference to the country’s genocide and the forced conversions which occurred during this time. There are no Christians attending this church. All of the congregants were victims of the genocide. They faced death, deportation, and forced conversions. Those few who survived have since fled the country. The church currently stands as a historic monument to the Christianity that once was commonplace in the region.
Egypt: A Christian toddler was the latest, if inadvertent, victim of Egypt’s draconian restrictions on churches. According to an August 21 report, Youssed Ebid, a 4-year-old Christian boy (photo), was struck by a tractor while waiting outdoors for a bus to take him to church in another village. His own village is currently denied one, forcing its Christian residents to travel long distances to attend church. Many Christians in Egypt are in the same situation, and accidents during their long treks are not uncommon.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed in 2011 to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that occur or are reported each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
Posted on Gatestone Institute
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Somali Muslims who beat and raped a Christian mother of four last month began sending threatening messages more than a year ago at a refugee camp in Kenya, she said.
The 41-year-old Somali woman was a Muslim living in Somalia with her husband when he sent her and their four children to Kenya’s Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Somali border, in February 2016. She put her faith in Christ a year later, though it remained a secret until Somali Muslims saw her coming from church worship at Dadaab International Worship Centre in February 2018.
“We have known that you are a Christian, and one of us saw you come out of a church on Sunday,” read one threat, sources said. “If you continue attending the church, then we shall come for your head soon.”
She stopped attending the church services and relocated nearby.
“But it looks like we had already being marked,” the woman (name withheld) told Morning Star News. “Soon four of my children converted to Christ, and I cut all links with my husband in Somalia.”
When she stopped attending the church, the pastor visited the family and began praying with them in their house, an area source told Morning Star News.
“I think the enemies of Christ might have being monitoring their movements,” the source said.
On Jan. 2, four Muslims from Somalia forced their way into her home.
“I was beaten and then raped by four men who threatened me, telling me not to say anything about the ordeal that I went through,” she told Morning Star News. “As they left the house at 1 a.m., one of them said, ‘We could have killed you for being a disgrace to Islam and joining Christianity, which is against our religion, but since you are a single mother, we have decided to spare your life with the condition that you should not mention our names.’”
The woman is in dire need of trauma counseling, the source said, adding, “We as the underground church in Dadaab need prayers and support for our persecuted believers in Christ.”
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia(Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.
Somalia is ranked 3rd on the Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian; Kenya is ranked 40th.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Baga is a town at the extreme north of Nigeria’s Borno State. The town has had more than its share of atrocities at the hands of the notorious Boko Haram. In January 2015, the fishing town became internationally known when it was targeted in the deadliest massacre in the history of the extremist Islamic group. The attack lasted 5 days (Jan.3-7). Security forces had quickly responded against the militants, but fatalities were reported as ‘heavy’ with possibly 2,000 people killed or unaccounted for. The Ministry of Defence claimed no more than 150 killed, some said the massacre never took place or that the terrorists had been repelled. But this claim was refuted by local officials, survivors, and the international media.
Baga and at least 16 other towns were thought to have been destroyed with 35,000 people displaced. Many were feared to have drowned while fleeing across Lake Chad, others were trapped by the Boko Haram on islands. At that time, the attacks resulted in Boko Haram extending its control to over 70% of Borno State. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the massacre, considered the killings as “not much” and threatened the insurgency “would not stop”. Their goal: Total Islamic Sharia Rule. The group had links to al-Qaeda, but later announced their allegiance to ISIS in March 2015.
If you don’t recall the attack, it may be due to the coverage of attacks in Paris beginning at the the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The terrorists killed a total of 17 in four shooting attacks between Jan.7-9. For weeks, the attacks in France dominated headlines and televised news reports. On January 11, 2015 about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a show of unity. 3.7 million people joined in demonstrations across France. The phrase Je suis Charlie had become a worldwide slogan of support. But compared to the coverage and solidarity with Paris, reports of the Baga massacre were barely a whisper. While the world has had their attention on ISIS, thousands have silently been slaughtered for the past 7 years by the Boko Haram, also known as ‘the deadliest terror group in the world‘. Outside Nigeria, most attacks go virtually unnoticed. The Baga attack was picked up after it claimed so many lives. See our report, World Ignores Victims of Boko Haram Terror Group (VOP January 14, 2015)
Heartbreaking Case of Abduction, Rape and Slavery
Some weeks ago, Voice of the Persecuted received a report from our project leader in Nigeria that literally brought us to tears. In full detail, the report described the ordeal of a Christian woman who had escaped the clutches of Boko Haram militants after being held by the terrorists for 2 years. The family of Mr. Bitrus and his wife Rebecca have an extremely sorrowful story to share. They were residents of Baga when it came under a ferocious attack by the Boko Haram on the August 21, 2014—an attack that came before the brutal massacre and complete terrorists occupation of Baga in 2015. It was extremely hard for the couple to discuss all that had happened. But bravely, Rebecca narrated her story to one of our Nigerian correspondents, Fr. Gideon Obasogie, Directorate of Social Communications in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
With a sober look and a deep feeling of depression, Rebecca explained that in great confusion she fled her lovely home with her husband and their two sons, Zachariah who was 3 years and Jonathan 1. At the time, she was also expecting a third child but lost her pregnancy due to the subhuman conditions she was subjected to.
While fleeing the attack on that fateful day, Rebecca knew her husband would be the terrorists primary target. With the radical militants in hot pursuit, she feared Bitrus could not run fast enough while carrying their one year old son. Rebecca had developed severe pains from running and found it hard to go on. She pleaded with her husband to run and save his life and fervently urged him to leave them behind. In the panic, Bitrus finally heeded her advice and quickly ran to hide in the bush.
While Bitrus shared his story, he looked at his wife with a feeling of deep shame for not being her hero at that desperate moment of their lives. Guilt for not protecting his family when they needed him the most. But Rebecca had been correct, the militants did go after Bitrus. They continually sprayed bullets in his direction but were unsuccessful to find him. Praise be to God, no bullet ever touched him. After some time, Bitrus emerged from his hiding place but had become separated from his wife and children. When the Boko Haram fighters quit hunting him, they had turned back towards the location of his family. He was left imagining what would become of his wife and children and wondered what to do next. Promising himself to reconnect with his family, he trusted God would keep them alive. Bitrus moved with renewed hope to the nearby town of Mongonu. He waited in Mongonu for 15 days, as he scanned the crowds in anticipation of the arrival of his wife. Day after day, Bitrus searched for his family. He met and spoke with a lot of people coming out of Baga..
“I kept on asking them of the whereabouts of my wife….no one could tell me any good news. I became depressed with severe migraines and my blood pressure hit the roof. Some soldiers assisted me with a shelter to lay my head. They gave me some money, which I used to transport myself to Maiduguri. My uncle pleaded with me to not to be discouraged. He even took me to the hospital for medication. He tried to renew my hope, but he couldn’t stop the nightmares or my heartache. Leaving my family and everything I ever had behind was not an easy experience to come by.”
“When Bitrus fled to hide, Boko Haram came to me. They kept saying, “…da mun kashe Mujin ki..da mun Sami lada….ama ton da Allah bai bari ba…ke da yaran ki sai ku je ku yi aikin Allah,” meaning if only we had killed your husband we would have received Allah’s reward…but since Allah did not permit that…. you and your children will go and work for Allah. Thereafter, they hit me with the butt of a big gun and knocked out some of my teeth.”
When asked what happened next, Rebecca broke down in tears. With great compassion, Gideon encouraged her and she quietly told him, “That was when my nightmare began”. After killing all the men they had caught, Boko Haram militants moved Rebecca and her sons into the Lake Chad. They were fed nothing but chin-chin (a crunchy, baked or fried dough) as they were forced to wade through the water for nearly a week. Rebecca said, “crossing the lake was like an evil journey” with the water often coming up to her neck. On the seventh day, they arrived at a place called Kwalleram and stayed there for about 53 days. Rebecca was forced to clean, wash and cook for the for militants and their wives. Sometimes she was assigned the task of clearing pathways for the militants motorcycles.
For fear she might try to escape, the militants moved her and her sons to Gurva, a town in Chad. There she found 2000 other Nigerians who had been captured by Boko Haram and forced to farm and cut wood for fuel.
About two months later, she was moved again. This time they were taken to a town called Tilma.
“It was in Tilma that they branded the number 69 on my back. I don’t really know its meaning, and I never cared to ask. They sold me to a man called Bage Guduma and I was with him for 55 days. I was given palm fruits to eat, but thank God I didn’t eat any of it. It would have drugged me and resulted in the loss of my senses. Most nights, Bage Guduma wanted to touch me, but I did not give in to him. I couldn’t bear the thought, so I took the feces of my children and rubbed it on my body…this kept him away. But for this, his sons would beat me ruthlessly. They made me dig a hole for three weeks until I hit the water level. They often flogged me 98 lashes and I became ill for two weeks. Then, they took my one year old son, Jonathan and threw him into Lake Chad. My son drowned and died. With deep sorrow as tears rolled down her cheeks, she said, “All these terrible things happened because I refused to give my body”.
Rebecca was then given to another Boko Haram militant called Malla.
“They tried to force me to sleep with him but when I resisted they threw me into their prison, a dark pit. I was in the pit for two whole days without food or water. When I came out, Malla brutally forced himself on me and I became pregnant. I tried to kill myself, but the wife of a Pastor, herself abducted from Gwoza, pleaded with me not to take my life. She already had two children fathered by the militants. When the time came for me to give birth, I delivered alone. No one came to my aid. I cut the placenta myself and was in great pain. I received no medical attention. They named my son, Ibrahim. They liked him because he is a boy. The fighters want women who give birth to male children. Malla had traveled out and returned six weeks after I had given birth. I had nothing to do with him.”
Malla began to grow tired of Rebecca and promised to sell her to another man. It was then she decided to try and escape. At a time when most of the Boko Haram fighters had left the enclave, Rebecca sought permission from a female Boko Haram militant, probably the commander’s wife, to see a friend in another area controlled by the Boko Haram. When permission was granted, Rebecca headed instead to a small community called Maitele. From there, Rebecca took her sons and joined others as they walked for 6 days towards what they thought was the Nigerian border. Her son became ill for lack of water and food. Praise God, there came a heavy down pour which renewed and revived their strength for the journey, which for many would be towards an unknown destination. However, not for Rebecca, though she was unsure of her location, she pressed on with much hope and faith in the Lord to have a safe landing.
She eventually ended up in Diffa, a town in Niger. With the help of others, she met military personnel operating in the area. The military in Niger gave them much needed medical care and something to eat. Soon after, they were taken to a town called Damaturu, in Nigeria and left in the care of some Nigerian soldiers. The military eventually helped her to reunited with her husband, Bitrus. Rebecca has nothing but praise for the military personnel she met in Niger and Nigeria, including some of whom she thinks may have been US military personnel.
Reuniting with her husband
Bitrus claimed, “seeing my wife with the son of a Boko Haram father frightens me a lot. I was very happy to see my wife but the boy makes my heart break.” May God make me love him…yes, the son of a snake,” he said with some bitterness.
Rebecca is unsure what will happen between her and Bitrus. If Bitrus does not come to terms with the presence of the child, she is contemplating relocating to join her parents who are currently in Cameroon. She has pleaded with her husband to receive her as she is…and if he is hesitant she said in a hopeless tone, “I will give him his son and go to my parents”.
Sometimes, she too has mixed feelings about her son, Ibrahim. This is compounded by the stigma that traumatized women and girls rescued along with children fathered by Boko Haram fighters encounter from their own communities. Rebecca has even tried to give the child “to the government” but the military personnel encouraged her to keep the child. Ibrahim is only eight months old.
Caring For This Family
For now, Bitrus, Rebecca and the boys are in the custody of a local church. This case seems to place everyone in a moral fix. But time heals and Rebecca is really a strong woman of faith! Voice of the Persecuted is helping to care for this family. All she needs is thorough medical attention, food to eat, cloths to wear, a good shelter, bedding for her troubled head and love from the Body of Christ, us! With the generosity of all of you who are helping to support this mission, Voice of the Persecuted has been able to provide Rebecca and her family with their immediate needs. Thank you so much! It’s because of people like you that we are able to step in and care for this family. To give them hope and know God is with them providing their needs. Rebecca will also need systematic trauma counseling. Her older child, now six years old, would need to go to school. Her husband, Bitrus also needs time to heal and guidance from the Lord. We can do our part by loving and having compassion on this family. Let us step in to continue covering this family, monthly, until they are able to stand on their own. Please could you show them some LOVE?
What horrors Rebecca has faced. Pray for her healing. Pray for her 6 yr. old son, Zachariah, that his little mind will heal from the things he has witnessed. For her husband, Bitrus to have a change of heart towards Ibrahim. Certainly these children born in captivity are not at fault in their fathers brutal sins.
Think of Joseph and the struggles he must have had learning Mary was pregnant. Our Heavenly Father must have loved Joseph very much to call on him to help care for the most important child ever born, His begotten Son, Jesus. Nothing is by chance. This child, Ibrahim may grow up to be a great hero of faith, entrusted by God to Rebecca and Bitrus to keep him safe and raised in faith.
Pray our brother, Bitrus will quickly come to see Rebecca’s son as a gift, not a reminder of his shame. To lift the child to the Lord and raise him to know the sacrifice Christ freely gave so that he may have life. Pray he can sacrifice his bitterness to the Lord and show Ibrahim, he is greatly loved. That he will treat the boy as his own son, equal with Zachariah. To teach him GOD’s word, how to worship HIM with his life and explain he too has a purpose in the Kingdom of our Lord.
Pray he will welcome Rebecca back into his heart, even stronger than the first, accepting her as she is with the boy. Pray for understand of the relief he will give her when he does. Father, have mercy on this family. Comfort and bless them with peace and joy. Surround them with compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ. Bring those with the means to help get them back on their feet. In Jesus Holy name, we pray. AMEN
By L. Kanalos, VOP Founder/Advocate
Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) is on the ground helping to care for the persecuted in Nigeria through our aid program, ‘Project 13:3’. They have suffered much, so many lives have been lost or forever changed by the insurgency. Many suffer from unbearable heartbreak. Living conditions for the displaced brings extreme hardship and too often disease and illness. Their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are immense.
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They’re so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to 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!
You may also send your gift to:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed
(Morning Star News) – Three men beat and raped a 19-year-old Catholic woman in Uganda last week, sources said.
The student at St. Mary’s Teachers College in Bukedea, in the district of the same name about 50 miles from Mbale in Eastern Uganda, said she was returning from class on Sept. 9 when she was ambushed by three masked men who indicated they knew that her parents had left Islam.
“I tried to scream, but one blocked my mouth and another slapped me as they forcefully dragged me off the footpath,” said the woman, whose name is withheld. “I heard one of them telling the others that I should be killed because my parents deserted Islam. But another said, ‘But we are not sure whether this girl is a Christian.’”
Instead of killing her, they raped and beat her so severely that she is still receiving hospital treatment for her injuries, sources said.
“Her father called me over the phone and informed me what had happened to his daughter,” a Christian leader said. “I then met him at their home and prayed with the family, as the daughter is still in the hospital.”
The men attacked her seven miles outside of Mbale on Kumi Road and dragged her about 100 meters off the footpath, she said. After beating her until she was unconscious, they left her to die near a swamp.
Area resident James Kalanga found her early the next morning, Sept. 10.
“Just before connecting to the paved road, I saw a piece of school uniform on top of the trees,” Kalanga said. “I was a bit suspicious, then I saw some marks of human footprints and moved closer. Then I heard the sound of a person from the bush. I got scared and returned back, but good enough I met two men who were traveling on the same route and told them what I had seen.”
The three men went back into the wilderness and found her half-naked and groaning in pain, still unable to speak, he said.
Nearby they found her school backpack; they opened it and discovered her name and school, he said. They took her to a medical clinic and reported the matter to the school.
The school informed her parents, who went to the clinic and then took her to a hospital for treatment.
The family left Islam five years ago and joined Bulefe Catholic Church.
Threat to Take Children
In an undisclosed village in Budaka District, also in eastern Uganda, a 36-year-old mother of eight requested prayer after area Muslims forced her to return to Islam, she said.
Madina (full name withheld) said she maintained her faith in Christ in spite of her husband leaving her 10 years ago because she became a Christian, but that she returned to Islam this month after her former in-laws threatened her.
“The relatives of my husband threatened to kill me and take away the children if I refused to go back to Islam,” she said. “They said, ‘We are not going to lose our children to Christianity. We better kill you and get back the children.’”
Madina told Morning Star News she is spiritually troubled from returning to Islam, and she asked for prayer that God would supernaturally restore her to Christ.
“The family of my husband had cut all ties with me when they discovered that I joined Christianity, but this was not much of a problem to me as compared with the death threats that they have issued,” she said.
A Muslim relative had allowed her family to stay with them after her husband divorced her, and the relative had also provided medicine and funds for her children’s education, “but now he has joined the rest of the family members in issuing death threats to us,” she said. “I have nowhere to go with my children, so I have decided to return to Islam to save the children and myself. I know Issa [Jesus] will remember me one day.”
The Catholic Church has warned against the compounding of the trauma of some of the recently rescued women from the Boko Haram enclave through the abortion of their pregnancies as a result of rape and forced mating of the victims by some members of the terrorist group.
The position of the Church was made known at a press conference addressed in Abuja recently, by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Health Committee Chairman, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren, the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese.
The Church noted that the current flurry of debates over the most appropriate line of action to manage and rehabilitate some of the rescued women who were pregnant and condemned in strong terms “some misguided actions being canvassed by a cross section of persons and groups to the effect that mass abortion should be performed for the women!”
Reiterating the position of the Church on the issue of abortion, Bishop Umoren stated that the Church cannot be persuaded by the shallow arguments being promoted by some individuals or groups in this perspective as this will amount to repaying violence with even more vicious violence.
His words: “Specifically, it is not tenable the suggestion that killing the babies conceived through rape by the terrorists is the most humane action to take in this instance. Since the babies are ignorant and innocent of the crimes (aggression, sexual assault, dehumanization) against their mothers, it is unethical to punish them for the sins and offences of their erring fathers.” The bishop continued: “How can we accept to visit with capital punishment (death sentence by abortion) on young Nigerians simply because their fathers were misguided religious and ideological bigots?”
Pointing out that the life of each baby is distinct, different and unique from that of the parents and requires the maternal love of their mothers, Bishop Umoren declared: “The trauma of sexual assault and rape is enormous, and the Catholic Church in Nigeria in cooperation with all people of goodwill is ever prepared to provide every measure of support to accelerate the healing, rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims so that they can swiftly be reintegrated into the society.”
While commending the supportive care of government agencies and other organizations like Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), for these rescued women and girls, Bishop Umoren called for a more coordinated and robust effort in this respect. He also advocated the establishment of crisis pregnancy management centers to help Nigerians who may stand in need of similar help anywhere in the country; while rescued children could be the unborn babies presented to humane families for adoption.
Bishop Umoren, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops commiserated with the affected women and urged them “to keep faith in God Almighty who has given them the uncommon strength to face the trials and travails. He added: “… we pray for them and urge them to take solace and draw encouragement from the comfort that God has a purpose in their motherhood role for the innocent babies they now carry in their wombs.”
- Lucia Pulici, 75, Olga Raschietti, 82, and Bernardetta Boggia, 79, killed
- They had been at Roman Catholic convent in Kamenge, Burundi, for 7 years
- Two were found ‘partially decapitated’ and raped in their dorm on Sunday
- The nun who found them and raised the alarm was also found dead later
- Pope Francis is ‘greatly saddened’ by attack and has sent his condolences
Three elderly nuns were raped and beaten before two were decapitated and another murdered in a convent in Burundi. The bodies of Bernardetta Boggia, 79, Lucia Pulici, 75, and Olga Raschietti, 82, were found in their dormitory in Kamenge, north of the capital of Bujumbura. Police said three suspects had been detained for questioning as they probe claims it was a botched robbery at the hands of a mentally unbalanced attacker.
Father Mario Pulicini, who is responsible for the parish in a northern suburb of Bujumbura, said Ms Pulici and Ms Raschietti were found ‘partially decapitated’ in their dormitory on Sunday. It appeared all three had been raped.
Police arrested a man for killing and raping the three elderly nuns murdered in twin attacks at their convent. Reports said the man who carried out the first attack killing two nuns on Sunday afternoon, left and then the second attack took place on Monday morning. The police say on Sunday, he stabbed the first two and had beaten one with a rock. On Monday, the third nun was murdered in the same convent, her body beaten and head hacked off. read more
Thousands mourn the death of the Italian nuns. Mourners sobbed as Archbishop of Bujumbura Evariste Ngonagoye praised the life of service the three nuns had given in the impoverished nation, and condemned the “inhuman” crimes of the killer.
VOP: We are deeply sadden by the brutal murder of these women serving in love. Please pray for protection over the faithful in service— the hands and feet of Christ.