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(ACLJ) Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, had the opportunity to present the case of 33-year-old American Pastor Saeed Abedini before the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council.
For the first time, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, was able to speak directly to the U.N. – to make her husband’s case in her own voice. At 10:30 this morning (Geneva time), she made a passionate and heartfelt plea for husband’s life, urging the nations of the world to stand up for religious liberty and Iran to release Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen.
For nearly a year, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to silence my husband, Saeed Abedini, through illegal imprisonment, torture, and threats against our family. Why is he being held – because he exercised his rights of religious freedom, expression, and peaceful assembly. This past week and today, this Council has called on member states to recognize and uphold these fundamental freedoms. I hope that my presence here today will put a face to those who suffer when a government does not uphold its obligation to protect these freedoms. . . .
My husband has broken no Iranian law – he simply exercised fundamental rights that Iran has acknowledged before this body that it would uphold. Iran has kept Saeed imprisoned because he believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for forgiveness of sin and to reconcile humanity to God.
While I do not know the outcome of my husband’s case or whether he will live or die in Evin prison, I do know that the international community must do more to ensure that Iran upholds its obligations to protect all human rights for every individual, regardless of religious creed, nationality, or ethnic background. I call on this body to do more. Each member state here has an obligation, and I respectfully ask that you join me in this fight. Please help bring my husband home to me and our two young kids.
Naghmeh’s complete statement, as prepared, is available here.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of this unique opportunity for Pastor Saeed’s wife to present her husband’s case directly to world leaders. They looked her directly in the eyes, heard her pleas and saw her pain. The empathy and compassion of the world could be felt as she delivered her remarks. Her comments were well received by non-governmental organizations as well as member states.
In fact, Naghmeh reflected on the importance of this testimony before the Council:
“Being able to present my husband’s case before the United Nations forces countries that generally talk about human rights in abstract themes to stare at the face of persecution. I am not just an advocate, but a wife currently enduring the effects of Iran’s human rights abuses. It is important that countries be able to see the human rights abuses as a reality, not simply abstract words. I do hope that through this experience, countries will join me in advocating for my husband’s immediate release.
On one hand, speaking to world leaders stretches me far beyond my comfort zone. But on the other hand, it gives me purpose as Saeed’s wife to know I am doing everything I can for my husband. I cannot ask others to stretch themselves on behalf of my husband by writing letters, demonstrating before Iranian embassies and the such if I do not first set the example myself. I will continue to urge the international community to stand for my husband and all prisoners of conscience in Iran, no matter how difficult it may be for me, and I hope and pray there is someone empathic on the other end to hear my cries.”
Naghmeh’s testimony is significant and comes just days after I had the opportunity to raise Pastor Saeed’s case before the Human Rights Council detailing our ongoing international efforts to free Pastor Saeed.
And one of the most powerful developments is the fact that more than 600,000 people around the world are standing with Pastor Saeed – demanding his freedom.
If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment and add your name to our petition. Share his story. SaveSaeed.org.
Naghmeh tells us:
I did not get to finish my actual speech as I only had two minutes to speak and I felt by the Lord to finish with the Gospel message as an Ambassador of Christ. The seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was planted. The Lord will do the rest. Thank you for your prayers.
VOP: How wonderful that she used her time to glorify our God! We continue to pray daily for Saeed, Naghmeh and their small children.
Please join us in prayer and share Saeed’s story with all you know. Still many Christians have no idea who this man is. Many have no clue of the persecution happening in the world, today. Knowledge is power.
You can make a difference…Be a VOICE!
To learn more about Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Ameican pastor imprisoned in Iran- CLICK HERE
(FoxNews) A staggering 100,000 Christians are killed annually because of their faith, according to the Vatican — and several human rights groups claim such anti-Christian violence is on the rise in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt.
On Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Monsieur Silvano Maria Tomassi said in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council,
“Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year.”
“Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders, as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo [Syria],” Tomassi said.
While several human rights groups could not comment specifically on the Vatican’s number, organizations like Persecution.Org said the persecutions of Christians have been on the rise in places like Africa and the Middle East over the last decade.
“Two-hundred million Christians currently live under persecution. It’s absolutely on the rise,” Jeff King, the group’s president, told FoxNews.com.
“It’s easing in the old Communist world and it’s rising in the Islamic world,” King said, noting in particular countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Nigeria. King said that the first major killing spree in recent years happened between 1998 and 2003, when he claims 10,000 Christians were murdered in Indonesia,” Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year,” alone during those years.
Last March, a Nigerian Christian leader was killed when suspected Muslim militants burst into his home and shot him. Two members of Islamic militant group Boko Haram shot Faye Pama Mysa, a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in his home Wednesday, according to multiple reports. The killing happened just after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency because of ongoing attacks in Africa’s most populous nation.
King spoke of another example in which young Christian girls were forced into sex slavery in Bangladesh. More than 140 children were rescued from Islamic training centers over the last year — with the majority of girls being targeted because of their religion, according to King.
John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, has raised grave concerns over what he calls “religious cleansing” in Syria.
“Religious minorities are under constant threat in Syria,” Eibner told FoxNews.com. “If things continue as they have been for the past two years in Syria, with an increase in religious cleansing, it’s reasonable to think that there will be no more Christian communities or other religious minorities in the near future.”
“Anti-Christian violence is on the increase throughout the world, especially throughout North Africa and the Middle East,” he added. “It’s hard for me to say with precision what the numbers are, but without doubt anti-Christian violence is on the increase.”
Dinah Pokempner, general counsel for Human Rights Watch, was not able to independently verify the Vatican’s figure, but said, “I think there’s little doubt that every week, every day, someone in the world is being persecuted – even to the point of losing their life – based on their religion.”
“Persecution is a daily event on the basis of religion,” Pokempner said. “This persecution affects Christians just as it does Muslims, Jews, Bahá’ís and people of other faiths.”
A spokesman with the Vatican could not be immediately reached for comment.
Jane Zimmerman, the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said in a statement that: “While I’m unfamiliar with the methodology that was used to reach that number, we have certainly followed numerous cases in recent years in which Christians and others of many faiths have been attacked or killed on account of their religious beliefs.”
“Whatever the numbers, no one should die for professing or practicing their faith, whatever that faith is,” Zimmerman told FoxNews.com. “The United States firmly supports the freedom to profess and practice one’s faith, to believe or not to believe, and to change one’s beliefs. As Secretary Kerry said on May 20, religious freedom ‘is a birthright of every human being.”
God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians and yet did, or do nothing to intervene.
Pastor Saeed was:
- Arrested and imprisoned by Iranian Revolutionary Guards;
- Repeatedly beaten in prison.
- Continues to be denied access to needed medical care treatment for internal bleeding caused by this abuse. This has been ongoing for months now.
- Denied access to his attorney until mere hours before his trial;
- Given a sham trial before a judge so notoriously biased and corrupt that he was condemned by the European Union for issuing egregious verdicts;
- Disallowed, along with his counsel, from attending the second day of his trial; and
- Sentenced to eight years in Evin Prison for exercising his Christian faith. In addition to directly abusing Pastor Saeed and violating his rights, Iranian officials directly threatened an Abedini family friend assisting the family in seeking Pastor Saeed’s release on bail. And the list goes on…
I covet your prayers. I know I am not alone, I have Jesus by my side and I have all of you behind me with your love and prayers. Thank you.
I would like to emphasize again that this is a crucial time to be a voice for Saeed and those imprisoned for their faith in Iran. As Christians or even as humans, we should care about justice and human rights. This is the time to get together one day before the Iranian election (June 13, 2013) to make our voice known to the Iranian government. Please join me and ask others to join by participating in the peaceful demonstration where you live (closest Iranian Embassy near you) and by praying for His Leading in all of this.
From the Standing together for Human Rights in Iran, Facebook page:
My Dear Friends دوستان عزیز
I need your support more than ever as I am coordinating a worldwide day of peaceful demonstration at all Iranian Embassies around the world on June 13, 2013 (one day before the Iranian Election) at noon in your …country.
من بیشتر از هر زمان دیگری به حمایت و پشتیبانی شما نیاز دارم زیرا در حال هماهنگ سازی روز جهانی اعتراض صلح آمیز در سفارتخانه های ایران در سراسر جهان در کشور خودتان، ظهر روز 13 ژوئن 2013(یک روز مانده به انتخابات ریاست جمهوری ایران) میباشم.
The Iranian government has tried to silence the Iranian people and has showed no care to respond to any international voices (US, more than 15 countries around the world, the UN and…) in regard to their continued imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American Citizen, and their continued violation of human rights in Iran.
دولت ایران سعی کرده که مردم ایران را ساکت کند و هیچ اهمیتـــــــی نیز به اعتراضات بین المللی (امریکا، بیش از 15 کشور در سراسر جهان، سازمان ملل و …) نشان نمی دهد. همچنین به نقض حقوق بشر و نگه داشتن کشیش سعید عابدینی (شهروند امریکایی ) در زندان ادامه میدهد.
They cannot silence millions of voices all around the world as we unite together to voice our concern for the human rights violation of Saeed Abedini and other political prisoners at Evin Prison.
و خاموش کنند؛ چنانچه همۀ ما در خصوص اعتراض به نقض حقوق انسانی سعید عابدینی و همچنین سایر زندانیان سیاسی در زندان اوین با هم متحد شویم.
As the Iranian election nears, the Iranian government has used all methods to silence media and the Iranian people. We need to be louder than ever the day before their election and to let them know we care about the tortures and human rights abuse in Iran.
با نزدیک شدن به انتخابات ریاست جمهوری، دولت ایران از هر روشی برای ساکت کردن مردم ایران و رسانه ها استفاده می کند. لازم است که در روز پیش از انتخابات بیش از هر زمان دیگری اعتراضاتمان محکمــتر باشد تا بدانند که ما به شکنجه ها و سوءاستفاده های انسانی در ایران توجه می کنیــــم.
Please join me in coordinating and spreading this great cause.
لطفاً برای هماهنگی، اطلاع رسانی و گسترش این اتفاق مهمّ به من بپیوندید.
The day of peaceful demonstrations will occur on June 13th, 2013 at noon in your country.
اعتراض صلح آمیز در ظهر روز 13 ژوئن 2013 در کشور خود شما می باشد.
In order to make this coordinated effort a reality, I have created a Facebook page to serve as a focal point for invitations and communications. If you are willing to “host” a demonstration at an Iranian embassy or mission in your country, please.
بمنظور تحقق بخشیدن و هماهنگی این روز، یک صفحۀ فیس بوک در جهت برقراری ارتباط و دعوت ساخته شده است. چنانچه می خواهید میزبان این اعتراض در سفارتخانۀ ایران در کشور خود باشید، لطفاً نکات زیر را ملاحظه فرمایید:
1. Post information on the address of the embassy, UN mission, or consulate and what time you will be there, in your own language, on the page. You can find addresses of Iranian Embassies and Consulates here: http://ir.embassyinformation.com/
1.اطلاعت مربوط به سفارتخانه، سازمان UN یا کنسولگری و همچنین ساعتی که در آنجا حضور خواهید داشت را به زبان خود بر روی صفحه پُست کنید. می توانید آدرس سفارتخانه ها و کنسولگــری های ایران را از این سایت بیابید: http://ir.embassyinformation.com/
2. Spread the word about your demonstration through e-mail, word of mouth, and social media, encouraging others to join you in peaceful demonstration.
2.دربارۀ این اعتراض صلح آمیز می توانید از طریق ایمیل، رسانه های اجتماعی و صحبت با افراد دیگر اطلاع رسانی کرده و آنها را تشویق نمایید تا در این اعتراض صلح آمیز به شما بپیوندند.
3. I would love for this Facebook page to unite us in remembrance of those we know and love whose basic rights of conscience have been violated by the Iranian Regime. To this end, I invite you to post pictures, short stories, and names on the Facebook page to explain the reason you are participating in this peaceful protest and in whose honor you demonstrate your disappointment with the government’s human rights abuses.
3. خواستۀ قلبی من این است که این صفحۀ فیس بوک ما را متحّد و یکدل کند؛ بمنظور یادآوری کسانی که می شناسیم و دوستشان داریم و حقوق ابتدایی عقیدتی آنها توسط رژیم ایران نقض شده است. بدین منظور از شما دعوت می کنم تا با گذاشتن تصویر، داستان کوتاه و اسامی بر روی این صفحه، دلیل شرکت خود در این اعتراض آرام را توضیح دهید و همچنین راجع به اشخاصی مطلب بگذارید که بخاطر آنها می خواهید ناامیدی خود را در این اعتراض نسبت به نقض حقوق بشر دولت ایران نشان دهید.
4. Please avoid violence and insults against the Iranian Regime or specific government leaders. This hostility may endanger those who are currently being held as prisoners of conscience.
4.خواهش می کنم از خشونت و توهین نسبت به رژیم ایران یا رهبران خاصّ دولتـــــــی پرهیز و اجتناب کنید. چنانچه خشونتی صورت گیرد، جان کسانی را که در حال حاضر زندانی عقیدتـــــــی هستند، به خطر می اندازد.
Please contact me with questions and ideas. I look forward to hearing of your action on June 13th.
چنانچه سؤال یا پیشنهادی دارید، با من تماس بگیرید. مشتاقانه منتظر آگاه شدن از فعالیتهای شما در روز 13 ژوئن می باشم.
VOP: Please join with our sister, Nagmeh. Let’s stand together for Saeed and all our brothers and sisters in Iran! STAND – IN SOLIDARITY!!!
Help us meet this goal before May 30th! SIGN HERE
For more information on Naghmeh’s husband, American Pastor Saeed Abedini imprisoned in Iran–Click Here
Pastor Saeed’s Case Heads to the U.N. – #SaveSaeed
ACLJ‘s international campaign to free Pastor Saeed is reaching a critical stage. Yesterday our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) – which is based in Strasbourg, France – filed a written statement on Saeed’s behalf before the United Nations Human Rights Council. The ECLJ has special consultative status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the U.N., which enables us to engage the U.N. and its member states in an official capacity. The Human Rights Council, which represents 47 member states, identifies its own mission as being “responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.” There is no better case for the HRC to engage than that of Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – imprisoned in a nation that not only rejects religious freedom and human rights laws but also exhibits a hostile disdain for international laws that protect the most basic rights of people around the world. The ECLJ Statement clearly states Pastor Saeed’s plight: READ MORE
Here is the petition that needs 300,000 signatures by Feb. 20, 2013. There are approximately 100,000 more signatures needed. Any person from any nation can sign this! Please click here and add yours today!
Fear haunts Christians in post-Gathafi Libya
“Not a day goes by without tombs being vandalised,” says Dalmasso Bruno, caretaker of the Italian cemetery in the Libyan capital where Christians fear rising Muslim extremism.
“Human bones have been taken out of their tomb and scattered across the cemetery” in central Tripoli, he said. “The Libyan authorities came and took pictures. They promised to take measures but nothing has been done.”
Since the 2011 fall of Moamer Gathafi’s regime, the small Christian community’s fears for its safety have increased, especially after a church bombing in December killed two people in the Mediterranean town of Dafniya. But despite such fears, dozens of worshippers mostly from India, the Philippines and African nations attend mass each week at the Catholic church of Saint Francis near central Tripoli to pray for security to be restored in Libya. READ MORE
Saudi Arabia Arrests 53 Ethiopian Christians at Private Worship Service
Saudi authorities on Feb. 8 arrested 53 Ethiopian Christians, mostly women, who were attending a worship service in the private, rented home of an Ethiopian believer in Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, WEA-RLC has learnt from sources inside the Arab kingdom. The Christians – 46 women and six men including three church leaders – were arrested at about 10 a.m. last Friday, a close relative of one of those arrested told WEA-RLC. The three church leaders – two of them women – were produced in an Islamic court in Dammam the same day when authorities alleged they were converting Muslims to Christianity, the source added. Authorities are likely to release two of the Ethiopian Christians who have residential permits on Monday, and the others are expected to be deported. READ MORE
Pakistani Court To Decide The Fate Of Martha Bibi Accused Of Blasphemy After Giving Death Sentence To Asia Bibi
The Chief of LEAD Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill with Martha Bibi appeared in Court and she shared her agony and hardships which she and her family is enduring due to the allegation leveled against her. On January 22, 2007, a blasphemy case under section 295C PPC was registered at Police Station Changa Manga,FIR No.33/07 against her. The same day she was arrested and put behind the bars after being beaten and tortured by Muslims. On April 30, 2007, the bail petition was accepted by the Lahore High Court which was filed by Advocate High Courts, Mr.Sharafat Qasim Gill after submitting and furnishing Rs.100,000/ surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court. READ MORE
PASTOR FROM INDONESIA IMPRISONED AFTER SIGNING AFFIDAVIT
59-year-old Christian pastor Bernard Maukar was sent to prison on Jan. 31, 2013 after signing an affidavit that accused him of operating a church without official permit. He also has been receiving threats. Pray with us:
Dear Father God, we pray that You will strengthen pastor Bernard and his wife during this chall…enging time. May they take refuge under Your wings and may Your Holy Spirit be their comfort. We pray that even in the midst of this storm, they will be able to experience the fullness of Your joy in their hearts. Protect them and grant them Your divine wisdom and discernment. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy, granted bail and now facing trial at Lahore
Pakistan (LEAD) – On October 22, 2012 a judge of the High Court, Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi granted Khuram Masiha bail of 100,000 rupees (US$ 1,000). Masiha is a Christian accused of blasphemy.
On December 5, 2011, a blasphemy charge was registered (FIR NO 1211/11) at Police Station Shahdara Town, Lahore. The charge was against Mr. Khuram Shahzad a poor, young Christian man alleged of burning pages of Quran and was arrested that same day and put behind bars. He was physically beaten and tortured by police officials during custody. Due to the conditions of the jail and the food he was served, he became ill and had blood in his urine among other complications. READ MORE
South Sulawesi: Molotov cocktail attack on Protestant church, fear among Christians
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of unknown assailants attacked the Protestant Church Toraja Mamassa in Makassar, the capital of the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi with Molotov cocktails. The episode took place at 4 this morning and so far, nothing is known of the authors of the act and there are no official claims. In an attempt to set it on fire, the unknown assailants caused minor damage to the building. Investigators are focusing on Islamic extremist factions in the area, but there is no physical evidence so far. Local authorities have tightened controls and the level of security around the Christian place of worship and throughout the area. Local witnesses reported that, in the night, three unidentified people hurled Molotov cocktails at the building, then they hastily abandoned the scene of the crime. The act has caused minor damage to the walls of the structure. READ MORE
Attackers kill 3 North Korean physicians in Nigeria, official says
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) Three North Korean doctors serving at a hospital in Nigeria’s northern Yobe state were killed early Sunday morning, police said.
There were mixed reports initially on where the victims were from, but the police chief of Yobe told CNN they were North Korean physicians assisting at Potiskum General Hospital as part of a government agreement. The government in Pyongyang has not confirmed that the victims were North Korean nationals. Authorities say 10 suspects are under arrest. “At this point we cannot say if they are Boko Haram, hired killers or common criminals, but we have cordoned off the area and are in the process of interrogating them,” Commissioner Sanusi Rufa’i said. Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group that has carried out scores of attacks across the north over the years. READ MORE
Violence Against Christians Spreading in India
Maharashtra state increasingly vulnerable, rights leaders say. Hindu extremist attacks on Christians in Maharashtra state could expand even as violence elsewhere in India grows in areas where extremist groups had not been so active, Christian leaders said. Ram Puniyani of the All India Secular Forum said at press conference in Mumbai this month that Maharashtra is vulnerable to increased attacks on Christians after “a decade of heightened Hindutva [Hindu nationalism], especially targeting tribal and Adivasi [indigenous] communities, as they are easy targets, with little fear of retaliation.” READ MORE
Nazareth Christians a dwindling minority
Israeli business newspaper Globes recently ran a feature story on the fast dwindling number of Christians living in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth in northern Israel. The article notes that while the city once had a strong Christian majority, today a mere one-third of residents are Christians. In reality, Nazareth today is a Muslim city, and local Christians are feeling the squeeze. Across the Middle East, Muslims view Christians with hostility. But the Muslims of Nazareth have even more reason to hate their Christian neighbors, many of whom are loyal to the State of Israel and even send their children to the Israeli army. READ MORE
LAOS: Police Arrest Three Pastors
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that three Christian pastors in Laos have been arrested and detained for “spreading the Christian religion” by reproducing a DVD of a Christian film. Pastor Bounma of Alowmai Village Church, Pastor Somkaew of Kengsainoi Village Church and Pastor Bounmee of Savet Village Church, were arrested on Feb. 5 by the Phin District police in Savannakhet province. READ MORE
From a believer in Pakistan:
“My son, Issac Samson, he is kidnapped since 29-02-2012 at 8:15am, He was working at GOOD SAMARITAN HOSPITAL, Orangi Town, Karachi, Pakistan (South Korean-Run hospital). And yet there is no news about him. Please Pray for him!”
Christian Women Beaten by Police After Arrest of Rapist
PAKISTAN-Pattoki: (LEAD) On January 25, 2013 a Christian minor girl, Fouzia Bibi, 15 from a small village of Roday, Dristrict Kasur, in Punjab Province became a victim of rape by local two influential Muslim men, Sher Muhammad (meaning Lion Of Muhammad) and shabbir Ali. LEAD intervened the case and registered FIR bearing No.22/13 at Police Station Serai Mughal by submitting a criminal report to DSP Pattoki. READ MORE
‘Voice of the Copts’ Requests Holy See Investigation
As an Italian citizen and a Catholic by marriage, I am writing to your Holiness on behalf of my human rights organization, Voice of the Copts. Our mission is to raise awareness in the West about the plight of the Egyptian Christians and their struggle against Islamic supremacy. Born into a Coptic family in Cairo, Arabic was my native language while growing up. Today I find these assets valuable in interpreting and explaining current events as they pertain to the hidden realities of Islam and its impact on the free world. READ MORE
19 Christian children rescued from a Trafficker intending to sell them to Radical Islamist Center
“International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that 19 children, who were to be sold to fundamentalist Islamic boarding schools (madrassas), have been rescued. Traffickers lied to the children’s parents, saying they would take the children to Christian boarding schools in Dhaka, when in fact, they were intending to sell the children to various madrassas. Students from Dhaka University discovered the children and rescued them. This is not the first instance of Christian children being trafficked to madrassas, as upwards of 150 children have been rescued from similar situations since July 2012.” READ MORE
After fatwas, security upped for Egypt opposition
A cleric suggested that violent sexual assaults of women protesters in Tahrir Square the past week were justified, calling them “either Crusaders (Christians) … or widows who have no one to rein them in.” READ MORE
From a brother in Nigeria:
Pray for our fellow Eggon Christians in Nasarawa. Yesterday Fulani militants numbering about 3000 attacked Eggon Christians at Atmala, Burumburum, Bakin Kogi, Takpa and Akuya communities of Nasarawa Eggon LGA and B.D.A community in Lafia LGA.
Death Imminent for Protectors of Christian Blasphemy Girl
Basharat Khokhar hunched over the table as his eyes nervously scanned the restaurant where we had chosen to meet. When a bearded man sat down at a table nearby, Basharat had us move across the room. “My life is in danger,” Basharat explained. “Even my friends and colleagues will no longer be seen with me. ‘If you’re spotted, we’ll be killed with you,’ they tell me.” Basharat, a Christian police officer in Pakistan, risked his life to look after Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl who had been accused of burning pages of the Quran. The accusation led to her arrest in August, and after languishing for three weeks in a high security prison in Rawalpindi, Rimsha was released on bail and flown by helicopter to an undisclosed location. Two months later, Rimsha’s accuser was arrested for fabricating the issue and the case was dismissed. When Muslim mobs demanded Rimsha be burned to death and threatened her family, Basharat offered shelter to the girl’s parents in his own home. When Rimsha was weeping in prison, Basharat brought her food and tried to comfort her. When Rimsha was taken to court, Basharat reached out to hardline Islamist groups, like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, believing that if he could garner their support in denouncing Rimsha’s arrest, other extremist factions might follow suit and drop allegations made against her. READ MORE
Chinese preacher arrested for hymn session
Cao Nan, a 39-year-old charity worker from the southeastern city of Shenzhen, was detained on December 15 last year after meeting with other Christians in the city’s Lizhi Park to sing hymns and preach. Mr Cao, who worships at an unofficial local ‘house-church’, said he had been accused of “falsely using the name of Christianity to harm social order” – charges he rejects.”I am indeed a Christian,” he told The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, a day after filing a lawsuit against police. “I did not pretend to be one or use the name of Christianity [falsely]. We were just singing the gospel and preaching Christian principles. I think they just found an excuse to detain people, to warn and to threaten.” Mr Cao blamed much of the persecution he claimed to suffer on “national security” agents. READ MORE
University of Michigan allegedly ejects Christian group in the name of tolerance
Tolerance and diversity are all the rage on college campuses these days. And for the University of Michigan, a Christian group that requires its leaders to be Christians is allegedly beyond any standard of decency.
The Asian chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Michigan requires students in leadership positions to sign a statement of faith. Members of the group says school officials banned the group until it amends its constitution to conform to the prestigious school’s non-discrimination policy, reports Fox News. READ MORE
RELATED: Christian Wolverines get special exception
University of Michigan officials are rethinking their decision to kick a chapter of college ministry InterVarsity Christian Fellowship off campus. After telling the group’s leaders last week they would lose their status as an official student organization, administrators changed course on Monday and approved their application for recognition. READ MORE
Bishops expose ploy to convert under-aged students to Islam
The Catholic Church in Sabah has exposed a covert ploy to convert under-aged students to Islam in Labuan. In a strongly worded letter signed by the four Roman Catholic bishops of Sabah, they complained that non-Muslim students at the Labuan Matriculation College between 17 and 18 years old, “are constantly subjected to various forms of harassment, ridicule and pressure to change their religion.” READ MORE
Egypt’s pope criticizes Islamists
AL-MUHARRAQ MONASTERY, Egypt — Egypt’s Coptic patriarch delivered a cautious but unusually sharp criticism of the nation’s Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, dismissing the new constitution as discriminatory and rounds of national dialogues sponsored by the president as meaningless. Pope Tawadros II’s dive into politics came as he tried to energize the spiritual solidarity of a demoralized community with a visit to a historic monastery that no Coptic pontiff has been to in decades because of security tensions in southern Egypt. READ MORE
2 attacks prompt Christians to stop meeting at Indian church
New Delhi, January 31 (World Watch Monitor) — An uneasy calm prevails 20 miles east of India’s largest city, in a rural village where Hindus recently have twice attacked Christians, who in turn have agreed to stop holding meetings in a prayer hall. The first attack came Dec. 30, when Adivasi tribal Christians living in the village of Tamsai gathered for a worship service at the Yehovah Nisih Prayer Church. About 20 people burst in, said church member Bharat Patel.
The intruders “shouted that there is no place for worship meeting in the village for Christians, and if we want to pray, we should all go to Mumbai. (They) tore bibles and broke musical instruments and stared to beat us up,” he said. READ MORE
Well-known house church minister in Shenzhen initiates administrative litigation against police
ChinaAid reports a well-known Chinese minister taken into police custody twice for evangelizing before Christmas in a public park and administratively detained for 13 days has initiated administrative litigation against the police, using the law to protect his legal and religious rights. Cao Nan was taken into police custody on Dec. 8 and 15 while he was evangelizing at the Lychee Park in Shenzhen. On the first occasion, seven other church lay leaders who were evangelizing with him were also detained, and everyone was released the next day. On Dec. 15, eight other church lay workers evangelizing with Cao were also detained. They were released the very late the same day, but Cao was transferred to the local detention center. The next day, he was administratively detained by the Futian Sub-Bureau of the Public Security Bureau for “masquerading under the name of Christianity to disturb social order multiple times at Lichi Park in Futian District.” He was not released until Dec. 28. READ MORE
Two Children to be Tried for Insulting Islam in Egypt
Among files on arrested converts from Islam, kidnapped Christian girls and beaten monks piling up on the desk of a noted lawyer in Egypt, on top is the case of two boys about to be tried for allegedly showing contempt of Islam. Attorney Karam Gabriel said anti-Christian hostilities in the restive country are getting worse as the two boys are to be tried in a court in Beni Suef – the same city where a mother and her seven children were convicted last month for reconverting to Christianity – for showing “contempt to Islamic religion and insulting the Koran.” READ MORE
ACLJ‘s international campaign to free Pastor Saeed is reaching a critical stage. Yesterday our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) – which is based in Strasbourg, France – filed a written statement on Saeed’s behalf before the United Nations Human Rights Council. The ECLJ has special consultative status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the U.N., which enables us to engage the U.N. and its member states in an official capacity. The Human Rights Council, which represents 47 member states, identifies its own mission as being “responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.” There is no better case for the HRC to engage than that of Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – imprisoned in a nation that not only rejects religious freedom and human rights laws but also exhibits a hostile disdain for international laws that protect the most basic rights of people around the world. The ECLJ Statement clearly states Pastor Saeed’s plight:
Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian with dual United States–Iranian nationality, is currently imprisoned at Evin Prison in Tehran, the Islamic Republic of Iran, because he encouraged peaceful assemblies of Christians in private homes. Over the last six months, Pastor Saeed was: (1) arrested and imprisoned by Iranian Revolutionary Guards; (2) repeatedly beaten in prison; (3) denied access to medical care made necessary by this abuse; (4) denied access to his attorney until mere hours before his trial; (5) given a sham trial before a judge so notoriously biased and corrupt that he was condemned by the European Union for issuing egregious verdicts; (6) disallowed, along with his counsel, from attending the second day of his trial; and (7) sentenced to eight years in Evin Prison for exercising his Christian faith. In addition to directly abusing Pastor Saeed and violating his rights, Iranian officials directly threatened an Abedini family friend assisting the family in seeking Pastor Saeed’s release on bail.
And it also clearly states Iran’s legal obligations:
As a Member State of the UN, the Islamic Republic of Iran is obligated to adhere to norms set forth in the UN Charter, such as those requiring members “[t]o achieve international cooperation . . . in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and . . . fundamental freedoms . . . without distinction as to [inter alia] religion”. By trying and imprisoning Pastor Saeed because of his religion, the Islamic Republic of Iran is violating its obligations under the UN Charter and Pastor Saeed’s fundamental rights: freedom of religion and belief, freedom of peaceful assembly, and rights to be free from arbitrary detainment and from torture. Therefore, these violations concern not only the Islamic Republic of Iran and every Member State, but every agency of the UN. [footnotes omitted]
The Statement also goes on to detail Iran’s violations not just of the U.N. Charter but also of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In short, Iran’s actions violate significant international human rights treaties and cannot be tolerated by the international community. Filing this written submission is a vital first step in our formal U.N. efforts to free Saeed. Next, we’ll attempt to engage each of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, in hopes that one or more of these states will raise Pastor Saeed’s case in oral comments at the Council’s next plenary session. Our #SaveSaeed campaign continues to gather momentum – as thousands upon thousands of Americans are tweeting, Facebooking, and signing our petition – so now is the time to bring additional international pressure on the Iranian government. This pressure has worked before, to free Iranian Pastor Youcef, and we believe it can work again, but we must be relentless. Your voice has been heard here at home, as the White House and Secretary of State have called for Pastor Saeed’s release. Now, your voice is being heard in the United Nations. Iran must be held accountable.