Around the world, Christians are being persecuted for their faith. They are restricted from practicing their faith publicly and building churches. They are tortured, raped, imprisoned and killed. This persecution comes from many sources and for many reasons, from Islamic terrorism in the Middle East to Hindu nationalism in India to bans on religions in China and North Korea. We share their stories daily here and on Kresta in the Afternoon.
9/13/19 – North Korea Sees Christians as Spies in Propaganda Video
A video obtained by The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a Christian NGO that supports persecuted Christians globally, shows how the North Korean government sees Christians as spies and the state’s enemy.
In this propaganda video, the story of a female Christian evangelist, Cha Deoksun, was featured.
Cha suffered during the Great Famine in the 1990s. In search for food and help, she crossed the border into China illegally and found God at Seotap Church. She was deeply moved by the message and decided to bring the Gospel back to her country.
She secretly formed an underground church and the government allowed her to travel to different parts of the country due to her poverty (to make ends meet). During these trips, she gave money to people who were poor, lower class, or suffering. She also connected with the descendants of several prominent Korean Christians and worshipped together with them.
The video claims that these groups of underground Christians gathered every Sunday to worship, pray, sing hymns, and study the scripture—even during the busiest farming season. However, her worship was seen as anti-state activity. The video describes her as a spy seeking to recruit other spies, a typical definition of evangelism used in NK propaganda.
9/12/19 – Christian Activists in Pakistan Under Threat
In the past month, International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented multiple cases of Christian activists in Pakistan being targeted for speaking out against the oppression of their community. These activists have been harassed, threatened and, in one extreme case, even killed.
On August 16, Chaudhary Asghar Fazal, a well-known Christian activist, was murdered by Azizurehman and Muhammad Iqbal, two Muslims, in Village #31 – 10R, located in the Khanewal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. According to local Christians, Fazal was targeted because of his support for the Christian community.
“My father was murdered for his activism and human rights approach,” Asif Asghar, Fazal’s son, told ICC. “He was a voice for the voiceless and a friend of the oppressed. He was an active voice and passionate worker for the rights of minorities, especially Christians.”
According to Asghar, his father was killed because of his active role in a legal case where local Christians were falsely accused of murdering a Muslim.
“In 2013, local Muslims initiated an attack on Christians which resulted in the Muslims killing one of their own,” Asghar explained. “However, they accused Christians of murdering him.”
According to Asghar, his father worked tirelessly to support the Christians who were facing the false murder charges. “My father was often offered gifts and pressurized to step back,” Asghar remembered. “However, he never valued such stuff. He was even once threatened with blasphemy charges.”
Recently, the local court declared all of the Christians who were falsely accused of the murder innocent. This reportedly enraged the Muslims who had leveled the false charges.
9/11/19 – Christians in Burkina Faso face options: ‘Flee, convert or die’
Christians in Burkina Faso are being forced to “flee, convert or die” by Islamic jihadists, according to a leading Catholic aid charity.
Burkina Faso’s government said on Monday that suspected extremists have carried out two attacks killing a total of 29 people.
One attack Sunday on the Dablo-Delbo road killed at least 14 civilians, while another 15 people were killed when a truck hit an explosive device on the road between Barsalogho and Guendbila in Sanmatenga province.
Islamic extremist violence has increased this year in Burkina Faso’s north and east near its Mali border. Hundreds have been killed in the attacks and thousands have fled.
However, Christians have been especially targeted. In June, seven Christians were killed by jihadists in a targeted attack in the northern town of Bani. The victims were searched for “signs of Christianity,” such as Bibles or crosses, before they were killed.
9/10/19 – Priest, catechist accused of ‘forced conversion’ in eastern India
Police in eastern India arrested a priest and catechist on Friday, accusing them of “forceful conversion” and the illegal occupation of land.
Father Benoy John and Munna Hansda work at Rajdaha mission in the Diocese of Bhagalpur in Bihar state. They were arrested in Agiamur, in the neighboring Jharkhand state, but within the boundaries of the diocese. Another priest, Father Arun Vincent, accompanied the two men in custody, but he wasn’t formally arrested and was later free to leave.
The police were acting on a complaint from a villager who accused the priests of exercising constant pressure for the locals to convert to the Christian faith.
He told Crux the current allegations are “baseless and fabricated.”
9/9/19 – Two Christians Begin Harsh Imprisonment in Iran
Two Iranian Christians have been officially imprisoned by a religiously-biased national judiciary for their faith in Christ Jesus. In recent years, the Christian community of the Islamic Republic of Iran has seen growing levels of popular and state-sponsored persecution.
They were given the opportunity to recount their “hostile faith” and embrace Islam but declined and the cases against them were closed.
9/6/19 – Egypt Reinstates Hate Preaching against Non-Muslims
Egypt’s leading authorities have reinstated a notoriously “radical” cleric and hate preacher to the pulpit (minbar), despite strong opposition.
According to Arab Weekly, “The Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, which controls the mosques, gave Yasser Burhami, the deputy head of the Salafist Call, the umbrella organisation of Salafi movements, approval to deliver sermons before Friday prayers at the Wise Caliphs Mosque in Alexandria.”
“Everybody is shocked at the decision to allow this man to preach at the mosques,” said Saad al-Zunt, the head of the Strategic Studies Centre, a local think-tank.
“Salafists adhere to a strict version of Islam,” the report explains. “They do not believe in women’s rights and call for women to be clothed from head to toe. The Salafists adopt a hostile stance towards non-Muslims, saying they are not full citizens.”
Indeed, Sheikh Yasser al-Burhami has authored 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,” one that he regularly invokes “Allah’s curse” on.
For example and in keeping with the doctrine of al-wala’ w’al bara’ (“Loyalty and Enmity”), Burhami has called on all Muslims to hate all non-Muslims—going as 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.
9/5/19 – Indian Christians Attacked Following Rumors of National Anti-Conversion Bill
A new wave of religious violence against Christians has swept over northern India in recent weeks. According to local Christians, this new hate campaign started after Zee News, a media outlet in India, reported that the BJP-led government intends to propose a bill that would make religious conversion illegal nationwide in the next session of parliament.
“We are already feeling the heat of the news that the government is preparing to bring a national anti-conversion law,” a Christian leader from Chhattisgarh, who requested to remain anonymous, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “Just the media reports are enough for the radicals on the ground to be more aggressive.”
“We already have a similar law in our state,” the Christian leader continued. “Christians in Chhattisgarh are already paying heavily as a consequence. However, the proposal of a national law that prevents religious conversion gives the hardliners the idea that a ‘Hindu Rastra’ is to be established.”
Out of India’s 29 states, anti-conversation laws, officially called Freedom of Religion Acts, are currently enacted in eight states. This includes Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. In these states, Christians report that the laws are widely abused.
According to these reports of abuse, radical nationalists falsely accusing Christians of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook violence perpetrated against Christians because radicals use the allegation of forced conversion to justify their actions.
9/4/19 – Boko Haram Attacks Town in Chibok, Nigeria
On Saturday, Boko Haram invaded the Yimirmigza village in Kautikari ward, Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State. According to the report given by a local resident to TheCable, the attack began around 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. The villagers first noticed far-off gunshots, and thought that it was just the military. It was not until the gunshots began to get closer that the locals decided to flee the village.
According to the unnamed source, the villagers have had to remain in hiding ever since because the terror group has continued to hold the village since that time. As is common with types of attacks in Nigeria, the displaced locals are now likely living in other areas with relatives as they hope to see their property and homes returned. The Nigerian military has supposedly responded and is trying to capture the terrorists involved in this attack. According to the report given by The New Telegraph, it is members of the 117 Task Force Battalion of the Nigerian army that are dealing with the situation.
9/3/19 – Turkey Fails to Hold Religious Freedom Abusers Accountable
A new report was published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee which evaluates religious freedom in Turkey during the first quarter of 2019. The report finds that Turkey has failed to hold religious freedom abusers accountable, and that these type of experiences are widely reported by religious minorities.
The report cites multiple reasons for this failure. One the one hand, the burden of proof is difficult to obtain. There is also a fear among victims that bearing witness to their abuse would increase greater exposure to these challenges, and also cause employment loss.
9/2/19 – Pakistani Christian voices thanks for freedom, regret for those still behind bars
Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman released earlier this year after a decade on death row facing blasphemy charges, has broken her silence, expressing gratitude for an international campaign to free her as well as regret for those still behind bars under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
“My whole life suffered, my children suffered and this had a huge impact on my life,” she said in a series of voice messages in response to questions posed by The Telegraph.
The former farm laborer was sentenced to death in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy in a dispute with Muslim women in her village over a cup of water. Two Pakistani politicians, including the country’s lone Christian cabinet member, were killed for publicly supporting her and criticizing the blasphemy laws.
8/30/19 – Nigerian priest killed as car set ablaze
A Catholic priest was killed in Nigeria this week when the car he was driving was set ablaze.
Fr. David Tanko was traveling within the Jalingo diocese of Nigeria, near the country’s border with Cameroon, when he was attacked Aug. 29. The priest was traveling to a “peace meeting” of local clergymen to discuss a conflict between the local Tiv and Jukun ethic groups.
“We received the news of his death with shock. This is sad. The diocese is mourning,” Bishop Charles Hammawa of Jalingo told local media.
“We have been preaching peace and making efforts to bring both parties in the crisis in the area to a roundtable discussion,” the bishop added.
Shiban Tikari, chairman of Taraba State Council, told local media that a Tiv militia carried out the attack.
Hammawa encouraged a peaceful response to Tanko’s killing.
“Our basic concern now is to give him a befitting burial,” the bishop said.
“We don’t want any group to go on reprisal. Going on reprisal will only worsen the situation.”
The bishop announced a Vigil Mass for the priest on Monday, Sept. 2 and burial the following day at the diocesan cemetery in Jalingo.
8/29/19 – Series of Sexual Assaults Highlights the Vulnerability of Pakistani Christian Women and Girls
“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, Pakistan, recently told International Christian Concern (ICC).
Bhatti made this grim statement in response to reports that five young Christian girls have been sexually assaulted in different parts of the province of Punjab in just the last two months.
Christian women and girls are among Pakistan’s most vulnerable members of society. In many cases, Christian women and girls are considered soft targets for abuse and assault because they are a “double minority”. To the assailants, these victims follow the “wrong religion” and are members of the “weaker gender”.
On July 2, Saira Shoukat, age 15 and a student of grade ten, was sexually assaulted by Muhammad Jafar and Ateequllah in Muzaffarghar. After several attempts by Shoukat’s family, local police finally registered First Information Report (FIR) #140/19 against Jafar and Ateequllah. This simple process, which initiates a police investigation, took almost a month for the local police to complete. However, the victim family is still facing significant problems as they are being pressured into withdrawing the case.
8/28/19 – Increasingly Violent Mobs of Radical Hindu Nationalists a Sign of the Times in India
According to Morning Star News, in early July, three Christian leaders in India’s Tamil Nadu state were summoned to the local police station after being falsely accused of using foreign funds to convert Hindus to Christianity. While at the station, a mob of radical Hindu nationalists gathered outside and harassed the Christians leaders.
8/27/19 – Kidnapping Christians for Ransom Continues to Plague Nigeria
Kidnapping of Christians continues in Nigeria. So far this month there have been at least 4 reported cases of abduction of Kaduna State alone. The first took place on August 4th when gunmen ambushed a pastor, Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church, and his wife while they were driving. The gunmen killed the pastor and then abducted his wife, holding her for ransom.
Next, the same day that Pastor Omolewa’s wife was released, another group of gunmen stormed a church in Kasuwan Magani. Here, they killed a security guard and attempted to capture the priest of that church, Rev Joseph Kato Kwassau. Thankfully he was able to escape.
8/26/19 – Martyrdom causes of 5 Iraqis to be presented to Vatican in early September
On Sunday, June 3, 2007, Bayan Adam Balah really wanted to avoid going to another Mass. She, together with her husband, Subdeacon Waheed Hanna Isho’a had already fulfilled their Sunday obligations, and “female intuition” – or survival mode – told her if they left the town of Qaraqosh towards neighboring Mosul with Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, something bad would happen.
She was right.
Aziz Ganni, Hanna Isho’a, and two other subdeacons, Bassman Yousef and Gassan Issam Bidawid, were murdered by four gunmen, self-identified as Ansar Al-suna, an Islamic fundamentalist group that would later become the Islamic State group.
“We were stopped by four gunmen with masked black suits and Kalashnikov rifles,” Balah said, recalling the day.
“‘How many times did we tell you to close the church? How many times did we tell you not to pray in the church?’ the masked men shouted,” she continued. “‘How could we possibly close the house of prayer, and the place that helps poor people?’ the priest replied.”
The gunmen who attacked them killed Ganni and Yousef. When the other two men went to their aid, “as they fell in a pool of their own blood,” shots were fired again. Balah and her husband ducked down, but the gunmen opened fired on them, all the time shouting ‘Allah Akbar!’ (God is Great).
She’s the lone survivor, and the lone witness to the massacre. Today she lives as a refugee in Australia.
8/23/19 – Eritrea Arrests Another 150 Christians Between June and August
Eritrea, one of the world’s worst violators of Human Rights, has again clamped down on Christians in their country. Since 23 June, more than 150 Christians have been rounded up and thrown into prisons that are inhumane and unsanitary.
As documented by World Watch Monitor, the first arrest took place on 23 June in the city of Keren. Eritrean security officials arrested 70 members of the Faith Mission Church of Christ, of which, 35 were women and 10 were children. These Christians were then taken to the Ashufera Prison, which is a prison made of underground tunnels.
These Christians and thousands like them, are being held without charges; their only crime typically is gathering to worship without government approval. This is due to the paranoia and insanity of the president of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, who has been running the country since they gained independence in 1991. Anytime people are found to be gathering without government consent, they are arrested as conspirators and traitors, because the government believes that the West is trying to destroy their culture. This is especially true for Christians, who they see as western spies.
8/22/19 – Catholic priest stabbed to death in Mexico border city
A Catholic priest was stabbed to death in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, church officials said Friday.
The Diocese of Matamoros identified the victim as Father José Martín Guzmán Vega and called on authorities to investigate the killing.
The church’s Catholic Multimedia Center said neighbors heard shouts late Thursday and found Guzmán Vega stabbed and bleeding inside his parish church. He died soon after at a local hospital.
8/21/19 – Imprisoned Pastor John Cao Moved to Kunming’s Prison
On August 19, the mother of imprisoned pastor John Cao confirmed that her son has moved from Menglian detention center to a prison in Yunnan province’s capital city, Kunming.
His transfer came after the Chinese government announced its decision to uphold his seven-year prison sentence for “organizing illegal border crossings” last month.
The Chinese pastor, known for his work among Myanmar’s underprivileged communities in Wa state, was arrested and charged with “organizing illegal crossings of national borders” in 2017. Many believe that he was targeted for his Christian faith.
8/20/19 – Two Algerian Churches Warned
On Sunday Algerian police visited two churches and informed the congregation that within ten days, the authorities would seal the church. The churches are located in Akbou and Ighzer Amokrane.
In 2017 the Algerian government began a campaign that has left several churches closed and even more threatened with closure. The authorities first visited churches under the guise of conducting “safety inspections.” Soon after, churches began closing, even though they were affiliated with the legally protected Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA).
As part of these safety inspections, the authorities asked congregations to produce a license authorizing a building for non-Muslim worship. This license is impossible to obtain.
The government established a process of issuing the license in 2006, but the required approval committee has never met and therefore no license has been issued. For this reason, churches choose to affiliate with the EPA and thereby obtain legal protections. There is much concern that these church closures are a new way for the government to target the EPA.
8/19/19 – Four Christians in Nepal Arrested for “Preaching Christianity”
According to The Annapurna Express, four Christians in Nepal have been arrested and charged under the country’s strict anti-conversion law. This report comes only days after authorities in Nepal released a 73-year-old South Korean Christian arrested on similar charges.
On Thursday, August 15, Tul Bahadur Pariyar, Rupa Sonam, Chandrakali Rawat, and Bhim Kumari were arrested in Salyan after they were accused of “preaching Christianity”. When arrested, police confiscated a bag containing Christian literature.
The four Christians have been charged with violating Nepal’s strict anti-conversion law. The law makes any act that causes an individual to convert from one religion to another illegal. If found guilty, it could result in a five-year prison sentence and a significant fine.
On Friday, the Christians were taken before the district court in Salyan. There, they were remanded to police custody while the investigation was ongoing.
Seventeen Christians have been accused and arrested under Nepal’s anti-conversion law in the past year. Those arrested include both Nepalese Christians and foreigners, including several Americans. Forced deportations have been the results of foreign Christians being accused and arrested.
8/16/19 – Brave Muslims Save 20 Christians from Al-Shabaab Attack in Kenya
Al-Shabaab was planning yet another attack on Christians in Northern Kenya. The plan was for gunmen to storm a construction site for a new hospital in Kutulo, Kenya and kill any Christian workers they found there. When some of the local Muslim population heard of the impending attack, which was to take place on July 21, they rushed to the area to tell all Christians to evacuate. They then waited for the gunmen to arrive and confronted them.
They were unable to prevent the gunmen from opening fire on the construction site, however, thanks to their bravery and quick action, more than 20 Christians were able to flee the site and escape without injuries.
Kutulo is in Mandera County, Kenya, which has been a very dangerous place for Christians to live and work. There is a high concentration of Somalis and Muslims that live in Mandera, and most of the Christians who work there are from other parts of Kenya. This has made them easy targets for al-Shabaab, as they are easily identifiable. Since 2017, ICC has helped in at least 4 attacks on Christians in Mandera, where men were executed for their faith. Please pray that these brave Muslims would continue to fight for the safety of their fellow Christian Kenyans and that this act might be a new start for Christians living in Mandera.
8/15/19 – Turkey Issues Veiled Threat Towards Greek Christians
he Daily Sabah, a Turkish government run news agency, has run yet another article inciting hatred and opposition towards Christians. The article categorizes Greek Cypriot Christians as a national threat, then gravely warns that “Turkey proved what it is capable of doing against threats toward it in Syria and Iraq… we hope that the Greek Cypriots are analyzing the latest developments correctly.”
Cyprus remains a controversial topic within Turkey. A founding document of modern Turkey renounces the country’s Ottoman-era claims to the island, which is populated with Greek Orthodox Christians (78%) and some Turkish Muslims (18%). However, following Cyprus government upheaval in 1974, Turkey invaded. Since then, the country has remained partitioned between Greek Christians and Turkish Muslims. The situation is the longest peacekeeping mission in United Nations history and has proven intractable.
Turkey has engaged in a strategy which seeks to move mainland citizens into Cyprus. As part of this program, the government engages in a media messaging strategy that encourages the belief that foreign Christians seek to undermine Turkey. The recent article in the Daily Sabah is quick to assert that the Orthodox Church is the main “provoker of enmity toward Cypriot Turks.”
8/14/19 – Extremists Attack Parish House in Southern Pakistan and Demand Priests Vacate Muslim Neighborhood
On August 2, two young priests, named Fr. Anthony Abraz and Fr. Shahid Boota, were attacked, beaten, and robbed by a group of seven Muslim extremists in Karachi, located in Pakistan’s Sindh province. After the attack, the extremists demanded that the priests vacate the parish house, which constitutes the only Christian home in the Korangi neighborhood of Karachi.
Speaking to International Christian Concern (ICC), Fr. Abraz, explained that the seven armed men forcefully entered the parish house around 4:00 in the morning. They damaged the main door, widows, bookshelves, and cupboards in the house. They also desecrated Bibles, Christian literature, as well as icons of saints.
The extremists tied up the two priests and beat them. They also humiliated and abused them for preaching the Gospel in a Muslim-majority neighborhood.
8/13/19 – Boko Haram Maimed 8 Christian Women During Attack on Cameroonian Village
On July 29, Boko Haram attacked the village of Kalagari in Northern Cameroon. During this attack, Boko Haram terrorists approached the village, surprising the local vigilante force. When Boko Haram chased them off, they were able to then kidnap at least 8 women. They reportedly held these women for hours, and ended by cutting off their ears.
According to the reports, these women were all Christians, as is the rest of that village. This is also not the first time that Boko Haram has targeted villages or Christians in Cameroon. The have killed at least 2,000 people in Cameroon since 2014. This is a miniscule number compared to the devastating 70,000 that they have killed in Nigeria, but it shows that they have had an international influence for years and are able to still conduct this attacks across borders even today.
8/12/19 – Mob of Nationalists Attack Christian Wedding in India
According to Morning Star News, a Christian wedding in India was brutally attacked by a mob of Hindu-nationalists. The mob, organized by a Sikh leader named Dr. Gurmeet Singh, stormed the ceremony and threatened to kill and beat everyone in the room. When police were called to the scene, the Christians were falsely accused of forcefully converting people and disturbing the peace of the community.
The police arrested several Christians, including women and even a 3-year-old child. Through the intervention of local awareness groups, these Christians have been released.
The incident took place on June 29 near the Raisinghnagar bus station in Sri Ganganagar, a town located in India’s Rajasthan state. According to Morning Star News, Pastor Pankaj was officiating a late night wedding when the mob attacked.
8/9/19 – Pastor in Northern India Dragged from House Fellowship and Beaten
On 28 July, individuals believed to be radical Hindu nationalists disrupted a private prayer meeting and beat the pastor in northern India. The pastor was then reported to local police for allegedly converting individuals to Christianity.
Pastor Raju Prassad is the leader of a small fellowship group in Kanshiram Colony, Uttar Pradesh. Being a pastor in India, he expected opposition from radical Hindu nationalists. However, he was very surprised and fear-stricken when members of Bajrang Dal barged into his private prayer meeting on July 28.
According to Pastor Prassad, he was only praying for the people in his fellowship when the nationalists attacked.
8/8/19 – Another Attack Targets Christians in Nigeria
On August 1, 2019, Fulani militants ambushed and shot three young men, all members of the Baptist church in Ancha village in Nigeria’s Plateau State. The three men were serving as part of the community volunteer watch. Thankfully, all three survived.
Rev. Nanchwat Laven, pastor of the local Baptist Church, lamented about the toll that the recurring attacks have taken on his congregation. Yet, he continues to look up to God to intervene and bring them relief and peace.
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “This attack is deeply concerning. Ancha village is a small community that has suffered on numerous occasions. They lost 20 lives during an attack in 2017 and have suffered several other smaller attacks since. I have personally prayed over the mass graves in Ancha that these attacks have created. The Nigerian government must intervene, protect their citizens, and prosecute those who are killing wantonly.”
8/7/19 – Burkino Faso attack leaves 4 believers dead
Our field is reporting that on Thursday, June 27, unidentified armed individuals entered the Burkina Faso village of Bani, looking for Christians. According to testimonies gathered from survivors, the militants told everyone to lie down and proceeded to look for Christians by asking for first names or looking for anyone wearing Christian insignia (like crosses).
The deadly search yielded four men: David Zoungrana, his younger brother Philippe, Theophile Ouedraogo and Ernest Kassoaga. They were all wearing crosses.
At this stage we don’t know much about them – just that they followed Jesus and their faith was a part of them. They weren’t afraid to make a public statement of their belief in an area known internationally for its display of seven adobe mosques–six of which are built at the top of Bani’s main hill.
Before the terrorists left the village, they torched David’s shop. Then they moved on to another village, where they warned residents against calling in any government officials or military forces, indicating they would return. They also told Christians to convert or risk execution.
8/6/19 – Christians Arrested in Shenzhen for Selling Audio Bible Players
Seven employees at Shenzhen Cedar Electronics in China’s Guangdong province were arrested on July 22 for “illegal business operations,” according to Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian fellowship of Righteousness.
The company specializes in the development, production, and promotion of biblical audio products and their accessories.
Human rights lawyer Wen Yu shared that he met with one of the employees with the last name Hu at a police station, after they were arrested for selling audio Bibles. The local police told him that their case actually was put forth by the Public Security in Shenzhen city, but they did take Wen’s application for bail pending further investigation.
The company’s audio Bible players can still be found and purchased at several Chinese online shopping websites such as Tmall as of now, but it is hard to say how long this will last.
China has intensified its crackdown against Christianity in recent years. Beijing not only targets churches and believers, now Christian publications are under unprecedented scrutiny – the state-sanctioned Christian organizations were asked to re-translate the Bible, sales of printed Bibles are banned in major online shopping sites, and Christian materials are often confiscated when the police raid on churches.
8/5/19 – No Update On Detained ERCC Christian After Eight Months
After her husband was arrested in the December 9th crackdown last year, the wife of a detained Christian from Sichuan’s Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) has been longing to hear about the update of his case. She was let down again, even though China’s criminal procedure law clearly states that any suspect cannot be detained for more than seven months after his/her arrest. In a post she put out on August 4, Qin Derfu’s wife Xiao Hongliu said that all the police she came into contact with had told her to trust in the system, that Qin’s case would be handled according to rule of law, and all his legal rights would be protected by the country. All she knows from his lawyer is that Qin’s case has never reached People’s Procuratorate. There was also no record of the authorities conducting further “interrogation” to extend his period of detention. When the lawyer tried to poke further, they simply replied that a response can only be given once higher level approves.
8/2/19 – India’s Informal Churches Caught in the Crosshairs
“For the first time in 45 years, I feel like I don’t have the right to live as a Christian in my own country.” So says Pastor Sheeja Thomas, a house church leader in Hyderabad, India. Pastor Thomas made this observation as attacks on unregistered house churches across India continue to take place with greater frequency and severity. Her parish was attacked by Hindu radicals three Sundays in a row. After the third attack, local authorities finally shut down the house church altogether.
She continues, “What is happening now is unprecedented. My daughter and I had to sit in the police station as criminals while the people who attacked the Sunday worship service enjoyed the support of the police officers right in front of our eyes.”
Across India, unregistered house churches account for a considerable portion of the Indian Church, especially in rural areas and these churches are under attack. Will India’s government protect these Christians’ Article 25 religious freedom rights and protect their places of worship from attack and sudden closure? Or will the government continue to give a free hand to Hindu radicals seeking to drive Christianity out of India?
8/1/19 Indian Christians Falsely Accused of Bribing Converts
In a continuation of attacks on India’s small Christian community, Vasudev Devannai, a member of the Legislative Assembly in Northern India, insisted that the Pentecostal community of India bribes people with money to convert to Christianity. He referred to an incident that happened last week, claiming that three women who gave their lives to Christ did it as a result of a bribe. He provided no evidence for these claims and has not named who may have paid the bribes. Nonetheless, he proceeded to call for an investigation into the Pentecostal church and its funding. Sajan George, the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians responded to the claims. Sajan insisted that the politician is biased and even intentionally reported false news. He also highlighted that whatever the Christian community does is seen with suspicion in India and said that the Pentecostal church is poor, and would not be offering money for conversion, especially since it truly has very little money on its own.
7/31/19 – Indian Christians Falsely Accused of Bribing Converts
In a continuation of attacks on India’s small Christian community, Vasudev Devannai, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan in Northern India, insisted that the Pentecostal community of India bribes people with money to convert to Christianity. While speaking, he referred to an incident that happened the day before in Rajasthan. According to Devannai, three women gave their lives to Christ as a result of a bribe and were encouraged to rid themselves of any Hindu idols which still remained in their homes. Interestingly, he did not address who had paid these women to follow Christ or if the bribery he referred to was truly confirmed. Nonetheless, he proceeded to call for an investigation into the Pentecostal church and its funding. Some Christian leaders responded to the politician’s claims, one being Sajan K George, the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Sajan insisted that the politician is biased and even intentionally reported false news. He also highlighted that whatever the Christian community does is seen with suspicion in India and said that the Pentecostal church is poor, and would not be offering money for conversion, especially since it truly has very little money on its own.
7/30/19 – Suspected Boko Haram attack on a funeral leaves 65 dead in Nigeria
At least 65 people were killed in an attack on a funeral in northeastern Nigeria on Saturday, July 27. Boko Haram is suspected to be responsible. 21 were killed in the initial attack during the burial ceremony and an additional 44 were killed when villagers ran after the assailants.
Boko Haram militants have inhabited the northern states of Nigeria for the past decade. The terror group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa’s most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.
The group has bombed churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders.
In January, the escalating violence forced 30,000 Nigerians to flee the country over a two day period, the UN refugee agency said.
7/29/19 – More Than a Dozen Killed in Continued Islamic Extremism in Burkina Faso
On Thursday, July 25 about 20 individuals attacked the village of Diblou in the northern part of Burkina Faso. The attackers killed 15 people and destroyed several shops. The village’s market was also torched and. This attack, propagated by Ansarul Islam, comes months after several attacks on Christians, also attributed to the group.
Ansarul Islam emerged near the Mali border in December 2016 and is linked to other groups who have sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda. While this specific attack was not exclusively targeted at Christians, in the previous months, these extremist groups have targeted churches, priests and believers congregating outside of church buildings. Christians in Burkina Faso continue to worry about the rise of Muslim extremist groups because it increases their vulnerability and the likelihood that they are going to be singled out, and attacked.
7/26/29 – Missionary Priest Says Plight of Iraq’s Christians Continues to Worsen
ISIS’ Caliphate is gone, but life for Christians and Yazidis in the region is still very difficult. In this interview with the National Catholic Register, Fr. Benedict Kiely shares what he has seen there, including new threats from militant Shiite Muslims and laws that specifically target religious minorities.
7/25/19 – Son of Slain Governor Claims ‘There are 200 More Asia Bibis’ in Pakistan
Shaan Taseer, son of the assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer who was assassinated in Pakistan in 2011 for his own opposition to blasphemy laws, claims that there are more than 200 people imprisoned in Pakistan under blasphemy charges.
“I want you all to know that there are 200 Asia Bibis in jail accused of [the] blasphemy law in Pakistan today and these are only the reported cases,” Taseer claimed. Many of them are elderly, poor, mentally ill, and physically challenged.
“Of them, 40 are probably on death row,” Taseer further explained. “The rest are basically waiting for trail. It is as difficult, it is as bad, it is bleak when you are awaiting trial because you are living in a legal vacuum.”
7/24/19 – Boko Haram Displaces Thousands in Northern Cameroon
Boko Haram has been wreaking havoc and destruction across northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad regions of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger for over a decade. Just over a week ago, the terrorist group again attacked a group of villages in Northern Cameroon, displacing as many as 1,100 Christian families. This attack took place on 10 July in Roum village, a small Christian village in rural Cameroon. There were also other attacks in other small villages on July 5thand 11th.
Reports claim that the group burned down most of the villages, destroyed food stores, and either killed or stole all of the livestock. The families who were able to flee with their lives are now struggling with hunger, thirst and lack of shelter.
7/23/19 – Christian Woman Stoned to Death in Syria
On July 8, 2019, an Armenian Christian woman living in the Syrian Governorate of Idlib went missing. Suzan Der Kirkour was 60 years old and her body was found the next day just outside of her village. An autopsy revealed that Suzan was tortured and repeatedly raped over an estimated period of nine hours. She was then stoned to death.
Suzan was a gardener and Arabic teacher. Although retired, she often volunteered at the Kneye Village Church where she helped youth achieve their baccalaureate. The church was concerned by Suzan’s absence, and it was parishioners who found Suzan’s body.
It is widely reported among locals that Suzan’s attackers were members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group. Suzan’s village is a Christian village, but most of the women have left because of violent aggression from the terrorists. Some estimate that only 18 women, including Suzan, were living in the village.
The Syrian Civil War has raged for eight years, opening the door for Islamic extremism to take a strong foothold. Jabhat al-Nusra is the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. They and many other terrorist groups are active in Idlib Governorate, which was supposed to provide a safe haven for internally displaced persons.
Instead, the governorate has become center stage for the Syrian conflict. Most Christians have fled the country, although they made up approximately 10% of the population prior to the war.
7/22/19 – Priest & Passenger Attacked in Enugu, Nigeria
Fr. Ikechukwu Ilo was travelling to his parish on Wednesday night with a woman from his church. While driving, the Father said that two men with AK 47s came out of brush on the side of the road. They shouted at the driver to stop his car. Rev. Ilo was not willing to stop, but tried to drive past them. As he was fleeing, the two gunmen shot at his vehicle, hitting both the priest and the passenger.
Rev Ilo reported that the two men were speaking in Fulbe and English, and identified the two men as Fulani herders. The local police, who confirmed the attack, said that the two gunmen remain as yet unidentifiable, and said that they are not sure they were Fulani.
Attacks have become a regular occurrence in rural Nigeria, especially on Christian ministers. It is likely that the two men were planning on kidnapping the father in order to ransom him back to the church. There have been many similar abductions and ransom and often happen while church leaders are travelling. Though it remains unclear who committed this attack, it shows that there are still significant security issues in Nigeria, which often affect the church. Church leaders and members remain much more likely to be kidnapped or killed in all but far Northeast Nigeria than their Muslim counterparts. Please pray that men like Father Ilo would remain safe.
7/19/19 – Iran Arrests Christian Reporting Assault
A 19-year-old Christian woman was arrested after going to a police station to file a complaint. Fatemeh Mohammadi was assaulted by a woman dressed in a chador, a long black robe worn by conservative Muslim women, who did not approve of the way Fatemeh was wearing her headscarf while on a public bus. Last spring, Fatemeh had completed a six-month prison sentence for membership in a Tehran house church. She is a rare public Christian activist inside Iran, and has raised a number of issues to the forefront of conversation. She has publically accused her interrogators of sexual harassment and published material questioning the government’s treatment of Christians. She has particularly raised awareness about how the government’s persecution of Christians is in violation of Article 23 of the Constitution, which says that “no one may be molested or taken to task for simply holding a certain belief.”
7/18/19 – Pakistani Christian Woman Killed for Refusing to Convert to Islam
Saima Sardar, a resident of a Christian-majority neighborhood in Faisalabad, was reportedly shot and killed on July 10 by Muhammad Waseem, a Muslim man, after she refused to convert to Islam and marry him.
Samia was reportedly engaged to another man and was supposed to be married in November. Waseem, angered by the rejection from a Christian girl, continued to push for a relationship with Saima. He reportedly insisted that if her family failed to allow her to marry him, he was willing to go to court with the issue.
When ICC spoke to a friend of Saima, she said, “Saima was a committed and practicing Christian, therefore she did not betray Jesus.”