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Egypt, (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Christian is in critical condition after he, his mother and brother were stabbed in Egypt on Sunday night (Nov. 17), according to media reports.
The Muslim assailant in a village in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate told them that Christians must not sit outside before attacking them, leaving the adult son in critical condition at a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with several wounds to the stomach, according to media reports.
Area residents told Egyptian news media that a non-Christian with a criminal reputation assaulted the family members with a dagger at about 10:30 p.m. after arguing with them as they sat in front of their house in Nassiriya village, near Beni Mazar. Beni Mazar is 219 kilometers (136 miles) south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River.
The residents said the argument started when the assailant, identified only as Ali M., walked by the family members as they sat in front of their house and began shouting for them to go back in, saying no Christians were allowed outside. A Facebook post identified the assailant as a Muslim named Ali Eid Morsi; the post has since been removed.
When the adult son, identified as Shinoda Aziz, objected and stood up to the assailant, the suspect retrieved a dagger from his home, returned and attacked him, according to the area residents. When his mother started screaming, the assailant started stabbing her in the head and also attacked the younger son, cutting his face, they said.
Al Mowatna News reported that news anchor Osama Eid confirmed the attack. The news outlet added that the assailant is known for involvement with drugs and prostitution.
The family reportedly told police the assailant intended to kill them.
Security forces in Minya have reportedly arrested the suspect and are questioning witnesses.
An area source told Morning Star News by phone that the village is tranquil. The area was said to be predominantly Coptic Christian in the country that is about 90 percent Muslim.
Egypt ranked 16th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
(Voice of the Persecuted) NIGERIA – Francis Emmanuel, a Christian and a carpenter, was attacked by a gang of young men, believed to be Muslims,with machetes and daggers at a restaurant in Kakuri, Kaduna. They accused him for not fasting.
While eating his lunch, Emmanuel claimed the young men approached him because he was not fasting. He nearly lost his right arm trying to protect himself and sustained deep wounds from a machete on various parts of his body. He also nearly lost his eye. Relaying the ordeal to journalists from his hospital bed, Emmanuel said,
“I went to buy wood to do some work. When I came back, I bought food to eat. As I was eating, about six Hausa boys came and asked me whether I was a Muslim or a Christian. I did not answer them. They asked me why I was not fasting. I told them that I am not a Muslim. Before I knew it, one of them slapped me. As I stood up, the rest came and surrounded me and started attacking me with knives. I didn’t know them. Nobody could come to my aid because of the type of dangerous knives they were carrying. They used cutlasses, scissors, and knives. I became unconscious; I don’t even know who brought me to the hospital.”
Sunny Oibe, Director of national issues of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) described the perpetrators as enemies of the people. He said,
“The attack on the carpenter for allegedly eating when Muslims were fasting goes to show the level of intolerance of some people, particularly some of our Muslims. “Even if somebody refuses to fast, nobody has the right to embark on such animalistic behavior of attempting murder.”
“We, in CAN, will ask the security agencies to ensure that this matter is not swept under the carpet. The perpetrators should be brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others because the laws of this country forbid taking the lives of another. “The government should therefore live up to its bidding and bring the perpetrators and their sponsors to book.”
Mr. Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer said the government should have acted quickly to arrest the perpetrators to serve as a deterrent to others.
“It is already too late now. The perpetrators should have been immediately arrested and arraigned to serve as a deterrent to others.” source
Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer now living in the U.S. shared on social media,
“A couple of years ago, a retired Christian general from the north said something that has haunted me. Speaking to an Igbo guy, he said, “if my people see you and I eating corn in my village during the Ramadan fast, they would kill me and leave you alone because we are not permitted to be Christians. When I read the story [of the recent attack], I realized things have gotten far worse in the last two years. Even non northerners are now being attacked for eating during the fasting even when they are not Muslim!”
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(Morning Star News) – A pastor in northern Laos who disregarded officials’ orders to stop preaching Christ has been stabbed to death, sources said.
A prison official identified only as Wansai entered the home of pastor Singkeaw Wongkongpheng in Na-ang village, Chomphet District, Luang Prabang Province on the night of Sept. 8, relatives told advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
While four other unidentified men who accompanied Wansai waited outside the pastor’s home, Wansai entered shortly after 10 p.m. and first grabbed Pastor Wongkongpheng’s wife. When the pastor came to help her, Wansai tried to take him away, according to HRWLRF.
“Witnesses said Pastor Singkeaw asked the attacker if he needed money,” the director of HRWLRF said. “Relatives of Pastor Singkeaw reported that Mr. Wansai responded saying he was with the secret police and that he came to take the life of Pastor Singkeaw and nothing else.”
The pastor called out for help, and Wansai stabbed him three times in the back, according to HRWLRF. Pastor Singkeaw’s son, identified only as Manh, arrived and chased Wansai as he fled, severely injuring the assailant, witnesses said.
As Wansai received treatment at a hospital, relatives of the slain pastor learned that Wansai is a Luang Prabang provincial police serving as a prison guard in Pha-Oh Prison.
The HRWLRF director (name withheld for security reasons) said area Christians believe the killing was the direct result of the pastor’s refusal to stop speaking of Christ.
“His strong stance on practicing his constitutionally guaranteed religious right in holding and spreading his Christian faith was believed to finally result in him meeting with his cruel death at the hands of those who opposed him,” said the director. “He left behind his wife and six children, four boys and two girls.”
Area Christians in Luang Prabang, a northern province bordering Vietnam, suspected the five men meant to abduct and kill the couple in the same way that a pastor and his wife in Luang Namtha Province were slain several years ago, he said; their bodies were never found.
Officials had ordered Pastor Singkeaw to stop spreading Christianity a few years ago. The history of orders for him to cease preaching Christ began in 2000, during a period of severe persecution of Christians in Luang Prabang Province from 1997 to 2002, the director said. Lao officials delivered orders that no Christians be allowed to spread the Christian faith in Chomphet District and many other districts in Luang Prabang Province.
“Pastor Singkeaw ignored the orders and continued spreading the Christian faith,” the director said. “Actually, the church that he had been pastoring up to his death was founded by him in 2000 during the great religious persecution.”
Pastor Singkeaw’s Na-ang Church in Na-ang village has 58 members, with some coming from Hueytat village in the same district.
A local Christian leader reported that Pastor Singkeaw was a law-abiding citizen who lived a simple life with very little material goods. He had no enemies, nor had he received death threats.
Christians in Laos are frequent targets of harassment by communist officials, Buddhist leaders or animist villagers. Buddhists make up more than 57 percent of the population of the Communist country, according to Operation World. About 35 percent of the population adheres to indigenous religions, and only 3.4 percent of the population is Christian.
“The HRWLRF is calling upon the Lao government to investigate into the death of Pastor Singkeaw and bring justice to his family and church as well as to hold the police officer and four other unidentified attackers responsible for their cruel and cold-blooded murder,” the director said.
The group is also urging the Lao government to respect religious freedom as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009. The covenant upholds the individual’s right to adopt a religion/belief of choice as well as the right to manifest that religion/belief in a corporate worship (Article 18).
“Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the covenant,” the director said.
‘Illegal Doctors’ Freed
In Savannakhet Province, a pastor and four other church leaders who were convicted in February of being “illegal doctors” because they prayed for a sick woman who later died have been freed pending outcome of their appeal.
The People’s Court of Savannakhet Province on Feb. 12 sentenced the five Christians to nine months in prison and a fine of 500,000 kips (US$62) each. In addition, the defendants are to jointly pay 20 million kips (US$2,448) in emotional damages and funeral costs to the family of the deceased, according to court records.
The woman who died, identified only as Chansee (also known as Chan), had been ill for two years with an unknown condition. Various kinds of healers and doctors in Saisomboon village, Atsaphangthong District, had treated her without success, area residents told a representative of HRWLRF.
Held in stocks after their arrest in June 2014, the Christians – female pastor Kaithong Khounphaisane and four leaders of other churches identified in court records as Phouphet, Muk, Hatsady and Thiang – were released in March and are awaiting the outcome of their appeal.
On Saturday, Feb. 14, a Detroit area man stabbed two people at a suburban bus stop after asking the victims whether or not they were Muslims.
The men were waiting at the bus stop near Detroit when the suspect, 39-year-old Terrence Lavaron Thomas began talking with several people and asked if they were Muslims. The two victims answered they were not Muslims.
A Southfield police officer reported that Thomas was not not happy with that answer and without provocation, he pulled out a 3-inch folding knife and attacked the victims. Both are in their early 50’s. One was stabbed five times, the other was stabbed in the hand while he tried to stop the attack. Both men have been released from the hospital with “non-life threatening injuries.
Thomas fled the scene, but the police arrested him shortly after. He was found carrying two knives, including one which appeared to be the one used in the attack. They also reported the suspect was in possession of marijuana.
A Southfield police officer claimed Thomas said that he was a Muslim and was not happy that the victims indicated that they were not Muslims.
Thomas has been charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder, one count of carrying a dangerous weapon, and one count of possession of a controlled substance.
He could also face a charge of ethnic intimidation. Prosecutors were still determining whether or not to add it to the charges. Thomas’s bond was set at $1 million. A preliminary examination is scheduled for March 4.
The FBI was contacted to determine whether Thomas will also face federal charges.
CAIRO, Egypt (Morning Star News) – More than a week after a Muslim went on an anti-Christian rampage in Upper Egypt that left one woman dead and another wounded, many area Coptic women are still too afraid to leave their homes, residents said.
In Kom Ombo, 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Aswan, the Muslim on Feb. 8 attacked several Christians, including employees of two Coptic-owned pharmacies and two students who were walking nearby. Although the alleged assailant has been arrested, residents fear there could be others whose sole motivation for attacking was hostility toward Christians.
Madline Wagih Demian, 30, was killed solely because of her faith, said her brother, Ayman Wagih Demian, while religious rights advocates say rumors about the mental stability of the suspect, Mahmoud Mohamed Ali, are circulating in order to conceal the religious motive and begin to build his defense.
“He killed her because she is a Christian,” Demian said. “There was nothing else. He was targeting Christian pharmacies. He went and tried to attack a Christian, and when he failed, he went to the next Christian pharmacy.”
Security officials arrested Ali, a Kom Ombo resident, around midnight the night of the attacks and are holding him in the town. Witnesses of the attacks, including three victims who survived, have identified him as the culprit.
The attacks began shortly before 7 p.m. when Ali walked up to the service counter of a Coptic-owned pharmacy, requested some medication and asked for the price. The clerk, who gave Morning Star News only his last name, Abanoub, told Ali that he had to check the price on his computer, and then Ali attacked.
“I told him, ‘What are you doing?’” Abanoub told Morning Star News. “And he said, ‘I am going to kill you. I am going to kill you.’ I held his hand that had the knife in it and the other hand and kicked him … [I] kept hitting him there until he fell on the floor and went outside the pharmacy.”
Ali went to another Coptic-owned pharmacy and, once inside, he pulled out the knife and plunged it into Madline Wagih Demian’s neck, severing one of her arteries, witnesses said. Demian screamed, fell to the floor and bled to death within seconds, they said.
Ali ran out of the pharmacy and found two high school girls, Marian Kamal Shafik, 19, and Youstina Nasser Gendy, 18, walking down the street. Moments before, Gendy and Shafik had waved hello to Demian, a mutual friend of theirs, as they passed. As they continued on their way, the two heard Demian’s last scream, not realizing something was wrong until seconds later.
“When I turned around to tell my friend to hurry up,” Gendy said. “I saw this guy come running out of the pharmacy, and he stabbed her in the shoulder from the back. Marian fell face-down on the ground. I went toward her, and she said, ‘Help me.’”
Ali had left the knife in Shafik’s back, and Gendy said she didn’t know whether to pull it out or not. Before she could act, Gendy saw Ali coming back for the knife, she said.
“He came back and pulled the knife out of her shoulder and told her, ‘You deserve it,’” Gendy said.
Gendy fled, running into a crowded street to escape Ali and to find help for Shafik. When she returned, Ali was gone.
Gendy was taken away from the attack in an ambulance carrying Shafik, who survived, and the body of Demian. For days Gendy was unable to talk and, without warning, would break into fits of screaming. She is starting to recover, but the words Ali said keep playing through her mind.
“What was the girl who was killed guilty of?” she said, her voice filling with anger. “What are we guilty of that we are not able to walk the street? What have we done to ‘deserve’ this?”
Ayman Wagih Demian said the killing has crushed his family. His sister, who was married, worked at the pharmacy to raise money to help take care of her ailing parents.
“I am deeply hurt. The whole house is hurt,” he said. “My father is so sad. The whole town is shocked and hurt by the incident. Since the incident, no woman comes out on the street alone as they used to.”
Unstable Drug Addict?
Almost immediately after Ali’s arrest, rumors began circulating throughout the town about possible reasons for the killing. Some townspeople said Ali was a drug addict seeking either drugs from or revenge against pharmacists. Others said Ali lost touch with reality after, in rapid succession, he was let go from a job, lost his mother to illness and then his wife was diagnosed with the same disease that killed his mother. Other townspeople, citing ties that some members of Ali’s family have with the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the Brotherhood capitalized on the mounting medical bills of Ali’s wife and paid him to commit the crimes.
Osama Wagdy, a human rights activist at Nations Without Borders, based in Kom Ombo, said the rumors are part of a smoke screen to shift blame away from Ali and establish the groundwork for his defense. Wagdy and other Copts are concerned that Ali will be characterized as insane or somehow otherwise mentally incompetent to stand trial, allowing him to escape punishment.
The tactic has been employed all too frequently in clear-cut cases of violence against Copts. And because of it, the impunity with which people can attack Christians in Egypt without punishment encourages other attacks, Egyptian human rights activists say. There are no jury trials in Egypt, and judges accepting dubious insanity pleas allows leaders in Egypt to claim there is no persecution in Egypt, human rights activists say; if officials can claim perpetrators of anti-Christian violence aren’t products of a system rife with religious bigotry but are instead mentally ill, then they can claim assailants are therefore not representative of Egyptian society at large.
Wagdy said Ali clearly chose his victims “because they are Christians.” The retail pharmacy trade in Egypt is seen to be dominated by Copts, and according to witnesses, Ali passed up several opportunities to attack Muslims, instead, going from one Coptic-owned pharmacy to another.
While many persecution-related crimes against Copts have more than one motivation, such as monetary gain in the recent spate of Coptic kidnappings, or political revenge in the past month’s shootings of police who guard Egypt’s numerous churches, the Feb. 8 stabbings seem to have been motivated purely by a desire to kill Christians.
“If he was attacking random people, he could have attacked anybody on the street even if they weren’t Christian,” Demian said. “Not every time a crime happens against a Christian, the one that does it is mentally ill.”
Pain and Faith
One of the young women stabbed, Shafik, has come to some level of resolution about the attack. She said she feels God was protecting her during the attack and is now using what happened to her to make sure Ali is kept from harming others, and that Demian’s death will be punished. She also feels God allowed her to be attacked to teach her an important lesson.
Shafik said she didn’t feel the knife go into her back. At first she didn’t even see the assailant, she said. He “came all of a sudden and stabbed me. I didn’t turn around. I was stabbed quickly while my friend was screaming,” she said.
The knife went in deep but missed vital organs, she said, adding, “It was a miracle.”
Saying she didn’t remember what Ali yelled at her, Shafik said she only remembers “his face was full of anger.”
Shafik was taken to the closest medical facility that could be found until an ambulance arrived – a veterinary clinic.
“I was out of breath and I couldn’t talk,” she said. “My wound was bleeding, but I didn’t feel it. I feel God has given me the strength to deal with the pain.”
She was treated in a hospital, and then hours later was taken to the site where Ali was arrested. She was able to identify him to authorities, she said.
“I also feel like God let me go through this to identify the person who killed Madline, otherwise no one would have witnessed this, and no one would know for certain who killed her.”
The most important thing that happened through this incident was that her faith in God was renewed, Shafik said. Before the attack, she was buried in loneliness and thought God had abandoned her, she said.
“I was away from God,” she said. “I was upset at God, and He let me go through this to tell me He hasn’t left me, and that He would be with me in all situations.”
Please pray for the victims of this crime and for all Christians in Egypt. May the Lord give them strength to endure and to not live in fear. Pray also for their persecutors. They are lost and without God.
Increasing incidents of attacks on pastors and churches have alarmed the Christian community in the state prompting the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC) to lodge a complaint with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Saturday. Officials said in the last two years, 76 incidents were reported in the state.
On January 11, pastor P Sanjeev of Vikarabad in Ranga Reddy was stabbed to death outside his house by four persons. Police arrested activists of Hindu Vahini for the murder. On December 13, pastor Nama Moses and his wife were attacked at Narketpally in Nalgonda district. In November, pastor Talla Christopher was attacked in the same district by two persons and on the same day pastor of Ippathi church G Niladri Pal was attacked. On October 16, a pastor in Budvel in Ranga Reddy districts was dragged out of his home and beaten up.
Pastors of many churches in Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Kurnool, East and West Godavari have also complained of threats and intimidation. Police arrested a few activists of Hindu Vahini for the attack on the Vikarabad pastor P Sanjeev of Hebron Church. “A few days before the attack there was an altercation in which a few persons came and accused the pastor of organising forcible conversions. On January 11 four persons knocked on the door and when pastor Sanjeev opened, they asked him to accompany to pray for a dying person. He was stabbed when he stepped out ,” said Inspector V L Ram.
A delegation of APFC, a state-level apex body of archbishops, bishops and heads of mainline churches and major Christian denominations representing the Christian community in the state, had a meeting with the CM and requested him to make efforts to rein in the Hindu Vahini and extremist elements involved. APFC president Archbishop Thumma Bala and others submitted the memorandum.
“Some of those arrested told the police the conspiracy and systematic plan of the Hindu Vahini for attacking and killing of the pastors all over the state. Now with the general elections around, we fear there is an attempt to whip up trouble by attacking Christians,’’ Father Thumma said. The APFC demanded that the government ban Hindu Vahini to guarantee the security of Christians.
Written by Janyala Sreenivas
Reblogged via The Indian Express
Morning Star News reports a Priest, four others slain; more violence expected over Ramadan.
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.”
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.
“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