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A Message from Al Kresta

Dear friends and partners,

We’ve postponed our Spring membership drive because now is the best time to teach the faith, encourage the anxious, exhort the weary and preach good news without interruption. Our financial need, however, remains as urgent as ever. Please hit the Donate button and contribute as generously as the Lord has enabled you.  Also, ask for the intercession of our patroness, Blessed Mary, ever virgin who, in birthing God’s Son became the first to transmit the Word of God to the world.  Pray that we imitate her in offering Christ Jesus, the Eternal Word of God to the world.

Peace In Him,

Al

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.

4/8/20 – Christians in Guangdong Indicted for Printing Children’s Bibles

Two Christians in Guangdong were arrested at the end of last year for printing children’s Bibles. Now they face charges and imprisonment.

According to China Aid, since March 2018, Liang Rurui and Zhu Guoqing in Guangdong province have been printing children’s Bibles at the request of a Christian with the surname Tang. They have handed 7000 copies of children’s Bibles to Tang.

On November 22, 2019, the local authorities in Zhongshan city inspected their printing plant and confiscated 8,176 printed books. Soon, Liang Ruiru was arrested by the police. A day later, Liang was criminally detained and bailed out on the same day, while Zhu Guoqing was arrested, criminally detained, and formally arrested on Christmas.

Full Story here

4/7/20 – State Department Escalates Pressure on Pakistan for Return of Abducted Teen

Responding to a February letter from International Christian Concern, Sam Brownback—U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom—wrote this week to express his alarm over the October 2019 abduction of Huma Younus, a 14-year old girl from Pakistan who was kidnapped, forced to convert from Christianity to Islam, and married to her captor. Huma’s case is one of many in Pakistan—some studies indicate that as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are subjected to kidnappings, forced conversions to Islam, and coerced marriages every year.

Huma’s case received national and international attention but she remains in captivity despite the fact that her captors are known to the local authorities. They remain protected by the Pakistani judicial system which, in February 2020, ruled in favor of Huma’s kidnappers in a finding that flew directly in the face of established statutory law which explicitly prohibits underage and forced marriage. The ruling sidestepped proof that Huma is only 14 years old, citing Sharia law to the effect that girls who have had their first menstrual cycle are de facto eligible to be married regardless of the circumstances of their marriage.

Full story here 

4/6/20 – Chinese Priest in Fujian Taken Away by the Authorities

A parish priest who refused to join China’s state-vetted Catholic church disappeared in police custody last Friday.

Asia News reports that on April 3, security forces picked Father Huang Jintong up and took him to an unknown location. A few hours later, Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin, underground bishop of Mindong, received a call from public security advising him to prepare clothes for Fr. Huang because he won’t be able to come home for a month.

Fr. Huang is one of the 20 priests who refuse to sign membership to the communist party’s sanctioned Catholic Church. His disappearance most likely means that he will go through political “re-education” and brainwashing sessions to solicit his agreement.

Full story here 

4/3/20 – Christians in India’s Karnataka State Endure Spike in Persecution

 Since the beginning of 2020, there has been a dramatic escalation in Christian persecution in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Reports of violent attacks on the state’s Christians, often justified by false accusations of forced religious conversions, have become a regular part of the news.

Many Christians in Karnataka are worried that their state will become another Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand, where Christian persecution feels like a state policy. With a state government being led primarily by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), some Christians are concerned this wave of persecution may be followed by the enactment of an anti-conversion law.

There are four legal cases filed against my congregation and me,” Pastor Raja Bhovi, a church leader in Karnataka, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “None of the accusations from those cases are true. The radicals first threatened us to deny Jesus and our Christian faith. When we refused to recant, they beat us badly and started filing false cases against us.

On January 12, a mob of 100 radical Hindu nationalists, led by a man named Raghu, attacked several Christian homes in Banni Mardatti village. The radicals, using wooden clubs and sharp stones, ransacked the houses and beat the Christian residents.

According to local Christians, four Christian women had to be rushed to the hospital and were admitted for a week. Following the attack, many of Banni Mardatti’s Christian families fled.

The attackers think they are immune to any law,” Pastor Bhovi explained. “They proudly say that both in the state and at the center our party is ruling.”

The corona lockdown has brought some relief to me,” Pastor Manju Keralli, another church leader from Karnataka, told ICC. “Because of the lockdown, the police are not searching to arrest me.

Full story here 

4/2/20 – Ancha Village, Nigeria Suffers Another Attack, Government Does Nothing

Ancha Village in Plateau State of Nigeria, is a tiny village about 2 hours outside of the state capital. The small farming community is home to less than 1,000 people and yet has been the site of at least a dozen attacks over the past few years. These attacks, often attributed Fulani militants, have killed dozens of the residents, destroyed many homes and properties, and left the villagers in fear. The latest attack took place late last night, April 1, and lasted for about 4 hours. Three locals were killed by gunfire, and another 2 people were injured in the Christian village.

The villagers had noticed suspicious movement in and around their village over the past few days. They then told the government and asked for some protection. Despite these pleas for help and the knowledge that this area has been attacked many times before, the government did nothing. They did not send any help or personnel until well after the attack was over and the attackers had left freely. It is this lack of government support and action that allows the attacker to continue their slaughter of villages like Ancha.

Full story here

4/1/20 – Major Attacks by Boko Haram Could Signify Growing Strength

Over the past few weeks, while the world is distracted and consumed by the Coronavirus pandemic, Boko Haram has been causing mass chaos and devastation in the lake Chad region of West Africa. There have been a number of major attacks by the group in the last month that have involved the Nigerian Military, Niger Military and Chadian military. These attacks have killed hundreds of soldiers and reprisals by the military have reportedly killed hundreds of Boko Haram militants.

The largest and most worrisome of these attacks took place on March 23, when Boko Haram militants ambushed a large Chadian military outpost and killed more than 100 soldiers. According to the President of Chad during a televised address, President Idriss Déby Itno said “I have taken part in many operations, but never in our history have we lost so many men at one time.” This disturbing attack shows just how powerful Boko Haram is becoming. Chad is known for having a strong and effective military compared to much of West Africa. Yet they suffered the greatest loss they have ever had in the President’s 30 year reign.

Full story here 

3/31/20 – Pastor in Nepal Arrested for Praying Against COVID-19 Virus

According to Morning Star News, a Christian pastor in Nepal has been arrested for praying against the COVID-19 virus on a video that has circulated on social media. The pastor, who was taken into custody on March 23, could face up to six months in prison after being wrongly accused of giving false information about COVID-19.

In a video translated by Morning Star News, Pastor Keshab Acharya prayed in front of his church congregation, saying, “Hey, corona – you go and die. May all your deeds be destroyed by the power of the Lord Jesus. I rebuke you, corona, in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. By the power or the ruler of this Creation, I rebuke you… By the power in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, corona, go away and die.

Full story here 

3/30/20 – Minorities in Pakistan Claim They Were Refused Aid Due to Their Religious Identities

On Sunday, March 29, claims of a charity in Pakistan refusing to serve food aid to Christians and Hindus went viral on social media. The story brought into sharp focus the discrimination minorities in Pakistan often face due to their religious identities in the midst of crisis.

News of the discriminatory incident went viral on Facebook after several families posted videos testifying about what happened. According to those testimonies, Christian and Hindu families were refused food aid by Saylani Welfare International Trust staffers who were distributing aid in Karachi in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

According to reports, Pakistan’s first COVID-19 case was detected in late February when a man in Karachi was tested positive for the virus. This man had recently returned to Pakistan from Iran, a country hit hard by COVID-19.

More than 1,000 Pakistani have now tested positive for the virus with the country reporting 11 COVID-19 related deaths. However, 25 others infected have fully recovered according to local media.

Since March 21, most of Pakistan has been placed on lock down by authorities seeking to slow the spread of the virus. This action has left the country’s poor and vulnerable communities in a state of desperation as their search for food and other necessities.

Full story here 

3/27/20 – House Church Pastor in Guangzhou Trapped at Home by the Authorities

Pastor Ma Chao and his wife from the Guangfu house church in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, have not been able to step out from their community to buy groceries, thanks to the authorities.

In order to control the spread of Coronavirus, local authorities have put in place a rule where all residents need a pass so that they can freely leave and return to their compound.

According to China Aid, local police officers have been repeatedly harassing Pastor Ma, questioning him about his whereabouts, their exact address, and the updates about their church.

Full story here 

3/26/20 – Pastors in Northern India Falsely Imprisoned by Police for Three Days

On March 19, two pastors in northern India were falsely imprisoned for three days after being assaulted by members of a radical Hindu nationalist organization. According to local reports, the attack on the pastors took place after they had shared a Gospel tract with a shopkeeper in Faridpur, located in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh.

On March 19, Pastor Sukhiram Kare and Pastor Rohit Kumar were doing routine outreach activities in the marketplace of Faridpur. At around noon, the pastors spoke was a shopkeeper named Sourab Sharma and gave him a Gospel tract. An hour later, Sharma called the two pastors back to his shop telling them more people were interested to learn about Christianity.

When the pastors returned to Sharma’s shop, they were surrounded by a gang of Bajrang Dal activists.

Full story here

3/25/20 – Teacher of Imprisoned Pastor’s Son Still Closely Monitored in Sichuan

The teacher of Joshua Wang, son of imprisoned Pastor from Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC), is still under surveillance despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

An ERCC member showed a video recorded by the teacher to ICC. In the video, the teacher said “It is March 25. Look, those who sit there at the entrance of our compound are the ones who have been watching and following us,” while pointing the camera towards three masked men in uniform. She also spelled out her compound’s address in Sichuan to keep a record of her treatment.

Full story here

3/24/20 – Chinese Christians Caught Between Coronavirus and Persecution

Despite the Chinese government’s claim that there are no new confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the country, China is still very engulfed in the battle against this disease.

Other than the patients and medical professionals who became direct victims from the outbreak, some Christians also face additional challenges during this time.

Christian persecution watchdog China Aid reports on the persecution faced by a member from the Fengle Church in Heshan city, Guangdong province.

Ruan Haonan, who used to be a chef at a hotel, is caught between the disease and harassment from the police. Though he has landed multiple jobs in the past few years, he was laid off repeatedly due to the police’s oppression.

“After our church was raided by the public security bureau in 2017, it has been difficult (for me) to look for a job. Every year local police would call me, question, and scold me, asking me not to share the gospel anymore,” Ruan said.

Ruan was criminally detained for a month for “Organizing and Using a Cult to Undermine Implementation of the Law” in June 2017. After that, he could only stay employed for a short period of time, since the police always find him and pressure his boss to lay him off.

Full story here 

3/23/20 – “Putting a Band-Aid on a jugular vein” Refugees cope with Coronavirus

Iran’s rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak threatens not only Iranians but also a uniquely vulnerable population—the Middle East’s millions of refugees.

By early March Iran’s coronavirus death toll was the second highest outside China. A surge in cases across the Middle East—including Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf states—traces back to Iran. Neighboring states quickly moved to close borders and cut off travel to the country, while aid workers turned their attention to protecting the region’s victims of war and displacement.

At least 12 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) live between Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey—countries with ties to Iran via shared borders, military alliances, common religious observances, and frequent travel. Iran itself hosts nearly 1 million refugees, mostly from Afghanistan.

Within the last six months, new fighting between Turkey and Syrian forces has forced more than 1 million from their homes. Of 900,000 people displaced since December due to fighting in Idlib, more than half are children. The border with Turkey has been closed to them, and with the departure of most large relief groups, organized help is lacking.

Full story here

3/20/20 – Pastor in India Continues Ministry in the Face of Escalating Persecution

On February 2, leaders of the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) held a press conference claiming they identified 30 locations in India’s Uttar Pradesh state where religious conversions were taking place. The VHP leaders went on to say they would put a stop to these conversions in a door to door Ghar Wapsi campaign.

Since this announcement, attacks on Christians and their places of worship in Uttar Pradesh have skyrocketed. Almost every weekend since the press conference, International Christian Concern (ICC) has received reports of Christians in Uttar Pradesh facing intimidation, harassment, arrest, or assault.

Things have become far more difficult for pastors like me,” Pastor Ramesh Kumar told ICC. “Almost daily, I encounter a situation where I am asked to stop preaching the Gospel and recant my faith in Jesus.

Pastor Kumar is a church planter who leads house churches in twelve villages outside of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. In a recent interview with ICC, Pastor Kumar recalled several incidents of persecution he has experienced since the February 2 press conference.

Some days, it is only a mild warning,” Pastor Kumar said. “However, other times, it turns into a frightening physical assault.

On March 16, Pastor Kumar faced one of these more frightening situations.

I was about to leave my house at around nine in the morning when four people showed up at my door,” Pastor Kumar explained. “I have never seen these people before this incident, and they were quite soft in the beginning. But, as the conversation progressed, they started yelling at me and cursing me after I told them that I preach Jesus to people who want to hear.

Full story here 

3/19/20 – Coronavirus Does Not Stop Church Demolition, Cross Removal in China

While most churches in China have canceled in-person services due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, the Chinese government has not ceased its persecution against churches.

A church in Guoyang County, Anhui Province saw its cross removed on March 13. A video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness documented the moment when the crane removed the red cross from the church.

A Christian with the surname Chen told China Aid that this church usually has 40 churchgoers attending the service, but due to the lockdown of COVID-19, local authorities utilized this gap to remove the cross.

Bob Fu from China Aid also shared a video, showing Xiangbaishu Church in Yixing city, Jiangsu province reduced to its bare bones on March 11.

Full story here 

3/18/20 – 2019: Another Difficult Year for Christians in Pakistan

The year 2019 proved to be another challenging year for Christians in Pakistan. Despite lofty claims made by the PTI-led government, the country’s Christian community continued to suffer discrimination, intolerance, and instances of outright persecution. As a result of this continued trend, Pakistan was designated as a Court of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Since the country’s formation in 1947, Christians and other religious minorities have been treated as second-class citizens. Pakistan’s constitution legally bars religious minorities from high government offices and requires that all laws are compatible with Islamic teachings.

Throughout 2019, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 92 incidents of persecution against Pakistan’s Christian community. These incidents included instances of discrimination, sexual assault, abduction, forced conversion, forced marriage, beatings, torture, false blasphemy accusations, and even murder.

False blasphemy accusations continued to negatively affect Pakistan’s Christian community. ICC documented at least 10 Christians accused of blasphemy in 2019. This included Sunaina Amjad, Sophia Amjad, Soneha Amjad, and Sophia Qamar, who were falsely accused of desecrating a Quran by a Muslim neighbor in Karachi in February 2019. The four Christians and their families remain displaced from their homes despite being exonerated by police.

In March 2019, Stephen Masih in Sialkot was accused of blasphemy. In June 2019, Sunny and Noman Masih were accused of blasphemy in Bahawalnagar, as was Saleem Masih in Khanewal. In December 2019, Shehzad Masih was also accused of blasphemy in Faisalabad. Amir Masih was accused of blasphemy in 2019, but police proved him to be innocent at a very early stage in the investigation.

In May 2019, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman that had been on death row for nearly a decade, was finally allowed to leave Pakistan after being found innocent of committing blasphemy in 2009. Bibi and her family were allowed to flee to Canada, where they received asylum.

Full story here 

3/17/20 – Teachers Fleeing Violence Creates Education Crisis in Kenya

Over recent years, al-Shabaab, the ISIS affiliated Somali terror group, has targeted and killed non-local Christian teachers in Eastern Kenya. According to the Kenyan Ministry of Education, at least 32 teachers have been killed in Kenya-Somalia border counties over the past 5 years. This includes the recent killing of three teachers in Kamuthe, Kenya in January this year. More than half of the teachers in primary and secondary schools in have demanded transfers to safer regions of the country.

This exodus is coinciding with a message by the terror group that all non-locals evacuate three counties in Eastern Kenya: Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. According to stats given by the ministry of education more than 800 teachers have moved from Garissa, nearly 300 from Wajir and almost 1000 from Mandera. This creates a major problem for the region as the majority of teachers in Kenya come from outside of these three counties. World Watch Monitor says that locals have reported to them that between 60 and 80 percent of all teachers in Eastern Africa have to come from outside the local Somali population.

Full story here

3/16/20 – Two Christians Killed in Al-Shabaab Attack

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Wednesday, March 11, two Christians were killed and another was abducted when suspected al-Shabaab militants attacked two vehicles on the road between Elwak and Mandera in northeastern Kenya. This region has become a common location for the terror group to conduct attacks, in which they target non-local Christians.

In the first incident, the Somali-based terror group ambushed a passenger bus near the Jabi-bar area, ordering all of the passengers to disembark before the militants began profiling them to identify non-Muslims.

While speaking with ICC, a Mandera security officer confirmed, “The attackers were looking for non-local passengers traveling from Nairobi in order to kill them. The current trend of terror activity in Mandera confirms that. They abducted the only Christian on the bus, the mechanic, and allowed the others to continue with their journey.”

While Kenyan forces pursue the attackers, the status of the abducted Christian remains unknown.

Full story here

3/13/20 – Statues of Christ Forcibly Removed in Karnataka

Statues of Jesus and crosses were removed from a Christian burial ground in Karnataka state, India by the government on March 2. Christians local to Mahima Betta in Doddasagarahalli village claimed that the government acted under pressure from right-wing Hindu groups after being told the statue removal was due to the Christians were encroaching on government land.

The 4.5 acres of land in question has been used by the local Christians for nearly 40 years without any prior issues. During the Lent season, Indian Christians also use the area for the Way of the Cross and prayer gatherings. Rumors were causing tensions as those hostile to Christianity claimed that the area was used for conversions.

Full story here

3/12/20- Muslim Convert in Hiding After Receiving Threats from Community

Ahmed Alnour converted to Christianity in late-2018. After he converted, locals in the area started to notice that he was no longer conducted the 5 daily prayers. After realizing this, Alnour reported to MorningStar News that he started receiving threats shortly after this. “I saw them and heard them saying, ‘We will kill you because you left Islam and became infidel,’” Alnour said. This came as the local community attempted to burn down his home. Neighbors were able to douse the flames and he escaped unharmed, but on April 8 the assailants returned at 1 a.m. as he slept. He awoke to find his house in flames.

After that, he decided that he had to run and hide. He had to leave behind his wife and seven children. He lost his home, his money and all of his possessions. He has not been able to work or return home because of fear that he will be killed. Despite these major challenges, Alnour has not lost his faith in Christ.

Full story here

3/11/20 -Pastor Left in Critical Condition Following Attack by Radicals in India

A Christian pastor in India’s Madhya Pradesh state was left in critical condition after being attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists last week. According to the latest reports, the pastor remains in the hospital in critical condition and has a long recovery period ahead.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. on March 4, Pastor Isaac Palouse’s car was surrounded by a group of radical Hindu nationalists while returning from dropping off his children at school. The 48-year-old pastor was accused by the radicals of converting Hindus to Christianity and spreading a foreign religion.

According to Pastor Palouse, the radicals then beat him severely using wooden clubs. When he fell to the ground, the radicals then rode over him with a motorcycle. As a result of the attack, Pastor Palouse sustained a severe head injury, a broken elbow, several broken ribs, and a broken hand. The radicals also damaged Pastor Palouse’s car.

The attack took place a kilometer off the main road in Sehore, so there were no individuals that could intervene. The radicals left Pastor Palouse injured on the side of the road.

When Pastor Palouse was discovered, he was rushed to the local hospital in Sehore. There, Pastor Palouse remains in critical condition.

Full story here

3/10/20 – The Mystery of Malaysia’s Missing Pastor

“The song ‘I Know Who Holds Tomorrow’ was the song God gave to me at the silent retreat in March 2017 [a month after Raymond was abducted]. It was a time of breakthrough for me.” Susanna Koh shared.

As the trail leading to her husband’s disappearance in 2017 fades, Susanna feels frustrated, impatient, and even angry. Little, if anything, has been done by the government to solve the mystery for Susanna and her family, even though the government itself is allegedly behind Pastor Raymond Koh’s abduction.

Raymond was abducted in broad daylight, allegedly by members of a trained paramili­tary force on February 13, 2017. He was driving in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, when his car was surrounded by three black SUVs and forced to a sudden stop. His car was never found, nor has he been seen or heard from since that day.

A special task force was formed by the government in June 2019 to investigate. The government agreed to probe a report by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), which claimed that the Special Branch, a police intelligence team from Bukit Aman, was involved in the abduction of Raymond.

The report was due in December, but as of January, there have been no updates on the progress.

“Even the Home Minister admitted that he has not received any report from the task force,” Susanna said, frustrated by what little she feels has been done in the investigation to reveal the truth about her husband. She suspects that a cover-up is involved.

Full story here 

3/9/20 – Pastor Left in Critical Condition Following Attack by Radicals in India

A Christian pastor in India’s Madhya Pradesh state was left in critical condition after being attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists last week. According to the latest reports, the pastor remains in the hospital in critical condition and has a long recovery period ahead.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. on March 4, Pastor Isaac Palouse’s car was surrounded by a group of radical Hindu nationalists while returning from dropping off his children at school. The 48-year-old pastor was accused by the radicals of converting Hindus to Christianity and spreading a foreign religion.

According to Pastor Palouse, the radicals then beat him severely using wooden clubs. When he fell to the ground, the radicals then rode over him with a motorcycle. As a result of the attack, Pastor Palouse sustained a severe head injury, a broken elbow, several broken ribs, and a broken hand. The radicals also damaged Pastor Palouse’s car.

Full story here

3/6/20 – ‘Let Nothing Disturb You’ — Syrian Priest and Former ISIS Hostage Finds Hope

Father Jacques Mourad spent five months in the jails of Islamic State militants, in constant danger of death. One day after the Palmyra offensive, May 21, 2015, as the Syrian civil war had been raging for four years, Father Mourad, superior of the monastery of Mar Elian in Al-Qaryatayn, was kidnapped with a deacon of his community by two Islamic terrorists, one of whom he knew. The jihadists abruptly stormed into the convent in the middle of the day and dragged them to the back of a car, where they were locked up for four days, until they reached Raqqa, the ISIS-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State.

This is how his long ordeal began.

The Light of God in the Darkness

During his months of captivity, Father Mourad underwent all sorts of abuse. Confined in a dark and gloomy bathroom without electricity, insulted, whipped, repeatedly threatened with beheading and urged to convert to Islam, he saw the specter of death becoming more concrete and inevitable day after day.

Initially convinced not to be worthy of martyrdom, Father found the spiritual resources to face his destiny in St. Teresa of Ávila — praying every night her famous prayer of abandonment “Let nothing disturb you” — and in Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom he made a pilgrimage after he was released.

Full story here 

3/5/20 – Nigeria’s Government Agrees: Islamist Terrorists Target Christians

The Nigerian government now agrees with what church leaders have been complaining for years: Christians are the target of jihadist terrorism.

“In the wake of a renewed onslaught by our tireless military against Boko Haram and their ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province) allies in recent times, the insurgents have apparently changed their strategy,” said Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, at a press conference last week.

“They have started targeting Christians and Christian villages for a specific reason, which is to trigger a religious war and throw the nation into chaos.”

Full story here

3/4/20 – Nigerian priest kidnapped after Sunday Mass has been released

A Nigerian priest who was kidnapped after offering Sunday Mass March 1 has been freed, his diocese has reported.

“I have been reliably informed that Fr. David Echioda has been released by his abductors,” Nigeria’s Diocese of Otukpo said in a message to priests March 3.

“Thank you for your prayers and support during this trying time,” the diocese added.

Fr. David Echioda, who is assigned to ministry at Otukpo’s minor seminary, was abducted by gunmen as he returned to the seminary from his missionary outpost in central Nigeria, where he had been celebrating Mass.

The kidnapping is the latest in a series of abductions and killings in Nigeria which have involved Catholics and other Christians; clergy, seminarians, and lay people.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to address the violence and kidnappings in his homily March 1 at a Mass with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.

“We need to have access to our leaders; president, vice president. We need to work together to eradicate poverty, killings, bad governance and all sorts of challenges facing us as a nation,” Kaigama said according to Naija News.

Full story here 

3/3/20 – President Trump’s Claims of Religious Freedom in India Not Supported by Evidence

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump made his first state visit to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two-day affair was marked by visits to several cultural sites and a mega-rally entitled ‘Namaste, Trump’.

However, the visit was also marred by many incidents of anti-minority violence against both India’s Muslim and Christian communities.

As President Trump and Prime Minister Modi visited the Taj Mahal, an ashram used by Gandhi, and the Motera Cricket Stadium, violence between Delhi’s police and individuals protesting the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by the BJP-led government in 2019, claimed the lives of dozens, mostly Muslims. In the days leading up to the state visit, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 12 incidents of Christian persecution, many of them taking place in the very state President Trump was to visit.

Despite this upsurge in religiously motivated violence, President Trump praised Prime Minister Modi on the issue of religious freedom. In statements to the media, President Trump said Prime Minister Modi was “incredible” on religious freedom and that the Prime Minister wants “the people to have religious freedom and very strongly.

Full story here 

3/2/20 – Christian in Pakistan Tortured to Death for Bathing in Muslims’ Well

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Saleem Masih, a 22-year-old Pakistani Christian, was severely tortured by a Muslim landlord in Pakistan’s Kasur District because he used the landlord’s tube-well to bathe. Three days later, on February 28, Saleem died at Lahore General Hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

On February 25, Saleem was working as a day laborer in an agricultural field owned by Sher Dogar in Bhagiyana village, located in the Kasur District. Early in the morning, after Masih finished unloading chaff in the fields, he rinsed himself off in a nearby tube-well. When Dogar and other Muslims saw what Saleem was doing, they rushed over, pulled Saleem out of the water, and began to beat him.

They abused and tortured [Saleem] for ‘polluting’ the Muslims’ water,” Waris Masih, Saleem’s uncle, told ICC. “They got aggressive because a ‘Choora’ (a derogatory term used to denote Pakistani Christians as unclean) dared to make their water unclean. They claimed this would make their entire crop filthy.

According to multiple reports, Dogar and six other Muslims, including Muhammad Iqbal, Altaf, Ali Shehzad, Jabbar Arain, Mushtaq, and Haji Muhammad, dragged Saleem to Dogar’s cattle farm where they chained him down and tortured him for two hours. According to Saleem’s relatives, he was beaten with sticks and iron rods, struck with electric shocks, and rolled over by an iron rod, causing multiple fractures to his left arm and ribs.

Full story here 

2/28/20 – The Suffering of Christians in Aceh, Indonesia

Anxiety, worry, fear and happiness flared up in my heart when I learned that I was going to visit one of the provinces that is very distinct in my country, namely the province of Aceh. The special autonomous region is unique for it is the only Indonesian province practicing Sharia law.

From my understanding, every person who enters the Aceh region must follow the regulations there. For instance, in terms of outfit, one must wear Muslim clothing and those who break the rules will be flogged.

After a long journey to Medan airport, an additional eight-hour car ride brought me to the destination of my trip – Singkil district. My worries and fears disappeared immediately, replaced with joy mixed with feeling emotional. Such feelings occurred when I met and witnessed firsthand the lives of the Christian brothers and sisters there.

Even though they have experienced a very heartbreaking event, they remain firm in their faith. Since 2015, Christians in Aceh Singkil have been worshiping in makeshift tents, due to the burning and destruction of a number of churches by extremists, on the grounds that these churches did not have proper building permit. A large number of Christians had to flee to other cities given the heightened tensions. The incident occurred on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, but according to local Christians, the attack on the Church in Aceh Singkil has occurred since 1979.

Back then, a joint agreement between Christians and Muslims was signed, with the former agreeing not to build or renovate their churches before obtaining permission from the regional government.

Full story here 

2/27/20 – Iranian Christians Appeal Trial Postponed for 3rd Time

For at least the third time, the appeal hearing for five Iranian Christians has been postponed. Originally three cases that were later combined into a single case, the first appeal hearing was scheduled for September 2019. When the judge failed to appear, the court hearing was rescheduled for November 2019. At that time, the judge said the court house was “too crowded” and pushed the court hearing.

This most recent appeal was scheduled to occur on February 24th. Although a new judge has been appointed for the appeal that appears more reasonable than those previous, the continual postponement does not incite confidence for the Iranian Christians.

Full story here 

2/26/20 – Stop the Christian Genocide in Nigeria

Just recently, we commemorated the fifth anniversary of the deaths of the 21 Coptic martyrs of Libya. These brave men refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, even unto death. The world looked on in horror as the hooded Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists recorded their crime against humanity in a scarring message to the “nation of the cross.” The incident validated that the genocide ISIS was committing against Christians was not limited to Iraq and Syria.

Boko Haram has killed more than 27,000 civilians in Nigeria. This is greater than the amount of civilians ISIS killed in Iraq and Syria combined.

The Global Terrorism Index states that Nigeria is the third most dangerous country after Afghanistan and Iraq. Open Doors estimates that more than 7,000 Nigerian Christians have been killed because of their faith over the last three years. The international mission to persecuted Christians estimates that 1,350 Christians were killed by Islamic militant groups in 2019. The Christian Association of Nigeria reports that 900 churches in northern Nigeria have been destroyed in their campaign.

Greg Stanton of Genocide Watch states that Boko Haram is committing a genocide against Christians and crimes against humanity against the wider population. In central Nigeria, Fulani militants are also committing ethnic cleansing and genocidal massacres against Christians. Stanton says that what is mistaken as a conflict between herders and farmers is actually “a genocidal war between ethnic groups that previously co-existed, ignited by Islamic extremists with modern weapons.”

Full story here

2/25/20 – Wave of Attacks on Christians Documented Prior to President Trump’s Visit to India

International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented at least 12 incidents of anti-Christian violence taking place in the days leading up to President Donald Trump’s two-day state visit to India. This wave of anti-Christian violence highlights the religious intolerance and persecution growing across India.

Today concludes President Trump’s two-day state visit to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prior to his trip to India, President Trump was asked by members of Congress and the American-Indian Christian community to prioritize religious freedom and the persecution of religious minorities while visiting India.

According to a senior administration official, religious freedom was likely to come up during President Trump’s interactions with Prime Minister Modi.

Full story here 

2/24/20 – At Least 32 Christians Killed in Nigeria

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Fulani militants attacked three Christian villages in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, Nigeria on January 26 and 27. During this attack, at least 32 people were killed in the villages of Kwatas, Rubio, and Marish. In addition to the 32 Christians who were killed, four churches in these communities were also burned down.

These churches include the Kauna Baptist Church and Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Rubio village, and the COCIN Church and Anglican Church in Marish. Although other structures were also destroyed, the destruction of these churches demonstrates a particular hatred toward Christianity. Despite this, the Nigerian government insists that there is no religious motivation in Fulani militant attacks throughout Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.

Full story here

2/21/20 – Leah Sharibu Hits 2 Years in Captivity, Reports of Birth Emerge

Thursday marks two years since Leah Sharibu and 109 other girls were kidnapped from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria by the Islamic State West Africa province branch of Boko Haram. Leah is the only remaining girls from that incident who is still in captivity. She continues to be held by this terrorist group because she has been unwilling to recant her faith in Christ.

In the past month, reports have arisen that Leah was forcefully married to a commander in Boko Haram. She has since given birth to a child according to Ahmad Salkida, a reporter who has access to the group. SAlkida stated on twitter, “Why, I wonder, do we pretend that leaving Leah behind won’t result in pregnancy? Since the terror group announced condemning her to slavery, is there any step or collective focus on preventing similar occurrences? She’s a mother, but I don’t know about the gender of the baby.” Sadly, it is likely that this report is true. Boko Haram is known to use rape, torture and forced marriages against young women who they capture.

Full story here 

2/20/20 – China Appoints New Hong Kong Chief Known for Christian Persecution

In the midst of fighting the Coronavirus epidemic, China announced that it will put Xia Baolong, previously known for removing thousands of crosses from churches in Zhejiang province, in charge of the cabinet-level office that oversees Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

Xia, 67, the vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, will replace Zhang Xiaoming as director of the Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office, while reducing incumbent chief Zhang Xiaoming’s authority in an unexpected demotion.

Xia is a former close aide to President Xi Jinping who served as Communist Party chief of Zhejiang province and initiated a crackdown on Christian churches several years ago.

Full story here 

2/19/20 – Pastor Banished from Village in Northeast India by Radicals Using False Criminal Accusations

A pastor in northeastern India was banished from a village where he led a regular worship service after radical Hindu nationalists falsely accused him of engaging in illegal conversions. Based on the false accusation, local police told the pastor that he would be arrested if he returned to the village.

On Sunday, February 2, a mob of radical Hindu nationalists disrupted a Christian worship service being led by Pastor Salit Barik in the village of Mayurbhanj, located in India’s Odisha state. According to local Christians, the mob abused Pastor Barik with filthy language and accused him of illegally converting Hindus to Christianity using “psychological tricks”. The mob went on to banish Pastor Barik from Mayurbhanj and warned that he would face “dire consequences” if he ever returned.

Full story here

2/18/20 – Latest Burkina Faso Church Attack Kills 24, Including Pastor

Gunmen killed 24 civilians, including a church pastor, and kidnapped three others on Sunday in Burkina Faso, an official said. It was the latest attack against a religious leader in the increasingly unstable West African nation.

The mayor of Boundore commune, Sihanri Osangola Brigadie, said the attack occurred in the town of Pansi in Yagha province. The roughly 20 attackers separated men from women close to a Protestant church. At least 18 other people were injured.

“It hurt me when I saw the people,” Brigadie said after visiting some of the victims in the hospital in Dori town, 180 kilometers (110 miles) from the attack. The gunmen looted oil and rice from shops and forced the three youth they kidnapped to help transport it on their motorbikes, he said.

Both Christians and Muslims were killed before the church was set on fire, said a government security official in Dori who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media.

Attacks have targeted religious leaders in the area in the past. Last week, also in Yagha province, a retired pastor was killed and another pastor was abducted by gunmen, according to an internal security report for aid workers seen by The Associated Press.

Full story here 

2/17/20 – Martyrs’ shrine honors 21 victims of ISIS on 5th anniversary of their death

The shrine to the 21 Christian men beheaded by ISIS on a Libyan beach in February 2015 will hold an exhibition on Feb. 15, honoring the men and marking the fifth anniversary of their death.

Twenty of the men were Coptic Orthodox Christians from Egypt. The 21st victim was a Christian from Ghana. They have been declared martyrs by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The exhibition documents the men’s story, from the time of their abduction to the return of their bodies to the village of Al Our, in Egypt’s Minya province, where the shrine is located.

Visitors will be shown the orange jump suits the men wore when they were beheaded, tools with which they were caught, some sand on which their blood was spilled, and the specially made coffins that hold their remains.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, the mother of two brothers, Samuel and Beshoy, 22 and 24 years old, who were among the 21 martyrs, said: “I’m the mother of martyrs, I’m proud of them. They intercede for me and their father in heaven.”

She said she is praying for ISIS followers, calling on “God to give them the light and open their eyes to the truth and the good.”

Full story here

2/14/20 -Nigerian priest abducted in new attack

A Catholic priest was kidnapped in Nigeria Friday. Fr. Nicholas Oboh of the Diocese of Uromi has been abducted by gunmen in the state of Edo in the southwest region of the country.

“We are sure that he is alive, and since the incident, steps have been taken to ensure that Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oboh is released without any harm,” the chancellor of the Uromi diocese, Fr. Osi Odenore, told local reporters Feb. 14.

Local news outlets have also reported that several children were kidnapped at the same time.

Speaking to reporters, and on Facebook, Fr. Odenore has said that the diocese is now working to secure Oboh’s release. The chancellor also urged prayer for the priest’s release.

Full story here 

2/13/20 – Terrorists Kill 18 People in Northern Burkina Faso

Attacks continue to force people to flee from Northern Burkina Faso. This crisis is becoming the fastest growing in Africa. On February 1, unknown gunmen entered the town of Lamdamol and killed at least 18 people. According to Barnabus Fund, those who were killed, had been selected by the attackers for various reasons. They do not fully explain how those killed were selected, but do say that at least one Christian was among the group.

Christian Robert Milogo was a senior nurse who decided that he needed to travel to Northern Burkina Faso to help with those most affected by the terror attacks. He was then selected and killed by those who conducted this attack. There is a lot of need in this area as at least 500,000 people have been displaced due to the violence.

Full story here 

2/12/20 – Seminarian’s killing a ‘defining moment’ for Christians in Nigeria

At the funeral Mass for Michael Nnadi, the 18-year-old seminarian abducted and killed by gunmen last month, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto said he hoped the death would be a turning point for persecuted Christians in Nigeria.

“This is a solemn moment for the body of Christ,” Kukah said in his Feb. 11 homily at Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, where Nnadi had studied. The text of the homily was obtained through Aid to the Church in Need United States.

“This is for us the moment of decision. This is the moment that separates darkness from light, good from evil. Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids. Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and Pharisaism have caught up with us. Nigeria is on the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in a balance. This is a wakeup call for us,” he said.

Nnadi was taken by gunmen from Good Shepherd Seminary around 10:30 pm on Jan. 8, along with fellow seminarians Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; and Stephen Amos, 23. The four seminarians were at the beginning of their philosophy studies.

Full story here 

2/11/20 – 30 Killed in Recent Attack by Suspected Boko Haram Militants

At least 30 people, including a pregnant woman, were killed by suspected Boko Haram militants on Sunday night in Auno town, Borno state. The attack took place around 10 PM, when the terrorists entered the town and set fire to dozens of vehicles and sleeping people. Many of these vehicles and people seemed to be travelling to the state capital, Maiduguri, bringing supplies and food for the market. They had stopped about 20 km away in Auno town for the night as it is unsafe to travel in Northern Nigeria at night.

Pictures from the scene show fires till burning the next morning. Locals said that they found many of the bodies lying on the ground next to their vehicles.

Full story here

2/10/20 – Elderly Christian Couple Missing for 1-Month

One month has passed since the disappearance of Hurmuz and Simoni Diril, an elderly Christian couple living in Turkey who were abducted by the PKK. There are no indications regarding their status nor whereabouts. An official investigation remains ongoing. A ground search for the couple yielded no results, and was greatly impacted by adverse winter weather conditions.

PKK abductions of Christians were common in this area during the 1990s, prompting several to evacuate. The Diril couple had returned to their village of Mehr a decade ago specifically out of the desire to set an example of restoring Christianity to this area. Their son, Father Adday Ramzi Diril, is a well-known Chaldean Catholic priest known for his pastoral care of 7,000 Iraqi Christian refugees living in Turkey.

Full story here 

2/7/20 – Egypt Detains Christian Past Jail Sentence

An Egyptian Christian imprisoned on blasphemy charges remains incarcerated, although he was due for release on January 22nd. Abd Adel Bebawy was sentenced to three years in jail in 2018, six months after he was arrested in his home village of Minbal. A Facebook post on his profile had motivated extremist Muslims to attack the homes of several Christians. Bebawy’s family was displaced from the village, and still cannot return.

Bebawy’s family had visited him in jail just days prior to his scheduled release, and everyone had the understanding that he was to be released without any issue. However, the day came and went. A group of other prisoners scheduled for release that week gained freedom, but Bebawy remained in jail. The family was told that he cannot be released because of unstable conditions in the country and that Bebawy is being kept in jail to save him and keep the environment calm.

Full story here 

2/6/20 – Iran’s “Torture Factory,” Sanctioned

Last February, International Christian Concern (ICC) requested that the United States Treasury Department issue Global Magnitsky sanctions against Iran’s Evin Prison, an entity with a known human rights abuse record. The following report details a casefile summary of the documentary evidence ICC submitted to the US Treasury Department. Names of victims have been withheld for security reasons. Details contained in the report involve cases documented between 2016 and 2018.

Country Background

Iran is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights. These documents affirm that religious freedom is a key component of human rights and Iran’s constitution verifies that Christians are a protected religious minority. However, the public practice of Christianity is severely restricted and Muslims who convert to Christianity (Muslim-background believers, or MBBs) are not recognized as legitimate Christians.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report for 2018 lists Iran as Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern. Shia Islam is the official religion in Iran and the country’s penal code is written in a manner which opens the door to religious persecution. Through key judicial leaders in Iran, religious minorities are regularly targeted and denied their human right to freely practice their religion.

Full story here 

2/5/20 – Archbishop in Northern India Confronts False Claims of Forced Conversions

The Archbishop of India’s Uttar Pradesh state, Bishop Gerald John Mathias, his publicly denied the allegations of radical Hindu nationalists that Christians are committing forced conversions in his state. According to Crux, this statement by the Archbishop comes only days after a Hindu nationalist organization claimed they had discovered many instances of forced conversions.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) claimed that it had identified 30 places in eastern Uttar Pradesh were forced conversions by Christian missionaries were taking place. The VHP went on to say that they would lead a door to door campaign to “reconvert” individuals back to Hinduism.

Speaking to Crux, Bishop Mathias said, “I deny this report, that forced conversion is taking place in Uttar Pradesh or anywhere in India. Any conversion is voluntary, and everyone has the freedom to follow the religion of his own choice.

Christians in India have constitutional guarantees to practice our faith, share the Good News and the message of Christ, which is for all humanity,” Bishop Mathias continued. “This is not conversion nor is anyone forced.

Our churches and convention centers are open to everyone, all are welcome, we do not stop anyone coming to our churches,” Bishop Mathias added. “I categorically deny the false allegations of forced conversion.

Radical Hindu nationalists often use false accusations of forced conversion to pass regulations restricting religious freedom or to justify attacks on India’s Christian minority. Unfortunately, these false allegations are often accepted by India’s police and governing authorities. This acceptance gives radicals a blank check in their anti-Christian activities.

Full story here 

2/4/20 – 36 People Killed in Attack by Islamic Terrorists in Eastern DRC

On Tuesday, January 28, a group of radical Islamists in Eastern DRC attacked and killed dozens of people in several smaller villages. In total, four villages are reported to have been attacked including Eringeti and Manzingi as the two named villages. Terrorists from the Allied Democratic Forces(ADF), an Islamic Terror organization that started in Uganda, have been attacking and killing people in Eastern DRC for decades now. They conducted these most recent attacks, and are believed to have killed as many as 250 people since November 2019.

An Anglican Pastor was among those who were killed in Eringeti. He was travelling with his wife as they were ambushed. It has not been reported if his wife was killed alongside him.

Full story here 

2/3/20 – Kidnapped Nigerian seminarian has been killed

One of four Nigerian seminarians kidnapped last month has been killed, reportedly by his abductors. The three seminarians kidnapped along with him were released in the weeks following their kidnapping.

“With a very heavy heart, I wish to inform you that our dear son, Michael was murdered by the bandits on a date we cannot confirm. He and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The Rector identified the corpse this afternoon,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said in a statement released Feb. 1.

Michael Nnadi was 18 years old.

Information about the woman killed with Nnadi is not yet available

Full story here 

1/31/20 – Another 32 Killed by Fulani in Plateau, Nigeria

There have been increased attacks in Plateau State, Nigeria over the past several weeks. There have been two large attacks that took place on January 26 and 27. These two attacks took places in Kwatas and Marish villages and left a total of at least 32 dead.

The attack on Kwatas, which took place on the 26th, left at least 15 people killed according to online reports. A local source told ICC that the number is actually 21 however. The attack was also confirmed to have been committed by Fulani according to the online reports.

The second attack was in Marish village on the 27th. During this attack nor only were 17 people killed, but a church was also burned down. Despite this, the media and government will continue to say that there is no religious element to the attacks that are happening.

Full story here 

1/30/20 – Persecuted Church in China Brings Hope Amid Coronavirus Epidemic

A new respiratory virus with origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan has now infected 8,200 people across the world, and has claimed nearly 200 lives.

The outbreak of the coronavirus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, prompted Chinese authorities to quarantine several major cities. The usual lunar new year holidays, which typically last no more than 10 days long, have also been tentatively extended to mid-February to prevent the disease from spreading further.

In this time of desperation and fear, China’s Christian community, which has suffered an intensified crackdown by the government in recent years, has stepped up to fill in the gap left unattended by the incompetent authorities.

Full story here 

1/29/20 – Burkina Faso Suffers Another Large Massacre

Burkina Faso has become the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in Africa since the beginning of 2019. This is due to continued attacks by Islamic extremists in the northern region of the country. Continued attacks by these radicals have displaced as many as 530,000 people since January 2019. The most recent attack took place on Sunday in the town of Silgadji in northern Soum province. The radicals raided the local market in Silgadji as people were shopping. They killed at least 10 people, but the death toll has been reported as high as 50.

This is not the first time that this town has been attacked either. They were also attacked early last April when Islamic militants executed a pastor and 4 others outside of their church.

Full story here 

1/28/20 – Pastor in Northern India Severely Beaten and Falsely Accused of Forced Conversions

According to Morning Star News, a mob of hundreds of radical Hindu nationalists attacked a house church in India’s Haryana state. The attack left the pastor of the house church badly injured and falsely accused of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity.

On January 5, a mob of some 250 to 300 radicals surrounded a small house church led by Pastor Jai Singh in Bichpari village, located about an hour north of Delhi, in India’s Haryana state. According to Morning Star News, approximately 30 assailants broke into the church and attacked Pastor Singh and the other Christians gathered for worship.

They pushed me to the floor and I could not understand who was kicking me, who was slapping or beating on my back,” Pastor Singh told Morning Star News. “As a huge crowd surrounded me, I could only see their hands and shoes kicking me. They picked me up from the floor and took me inside [the] home and told me that I should go with them, if not they would kill me there on the spot.

From the house church, Pastor Singh was taken to a school where he was forced to sit before idols and was further beaten with wooden sticks. In the evening, Pastor Singh was then taken to the Gohana police station where Morning Star News reports he was “severely bruised and howling in pain.

Police took Pastor Singh to the hospital, but when he returned to the station he had been falsely accused of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity. The next day, January 6, Pastor Singh was presented before a judge and sent to judicial custody.

Full story here 

1/27/20 – Christian Aid Workers Kidnapped in Baghdad

Four humanitarian aid workers employed by the French NGO SOS Christians of the Middle East went missing in Baghdad on January 20th. Three of the disappeared workers are French and one is Iraqi. There have been no ransom demands, and the charity has asked that their identities remain undisclosed for security reasons.

Their disappearance comes as kidnappings have become increasingly commonplace in Iraq. Last year, protesters in Iraq had gathered to demand an end to foreign influence and corruption in their country. It was an atmosphere of hope despite a harsh government response. Following a US drone strike against an Iranian general in Baghdad a few weeks ago, the security situation has drastically deteriorated. The protests have continued, but the government’s response has become even more harsh.

Full story here 

1/24/20 – IS child soldier executes Nigerian Christian student, declares ‘we will not stop’

The Nigerian man who was executed by a child militant in a video released by a Boko Haram offshoot group aligned with the Islamic State days ago has been identified as a 22-year-old Christian college student.

Ropvil Daciya Dalep hailed from the Pankshin Local Government Area of the Plateau state and attended the University of Maiduguri in Borno state. His execution video gained media attention this week.

Dalep was a biology major who was returning to school from Christmas break when he was abducted on Jan. 9 allegedly by the Islamic State West Africa Province, according to the United Kingdom-based NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Full story here 

1/23/20 -Boko Haram Executes Pastor Who Turned Hostage Video into Testimony

Boko Haram has beheaded a Brethren church leader in Nigeria, according to the same investigative journalist who shared the pastor’s hostage video which encouraged many with its testimony.

“To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend [Lawan] Andimi, abducted by #BokoHaram was executed yesterday,” tweeted Ahmad Salkida. “Rev. Andimi was a church leader, a father to his children and the community he served. My condolences go to his family.”

“Reverend Lawan Andimi was beheaded yesterday afternoon, the video of the appalling executions with that of a soldier was obtained at 2:42pm,” wrote Salkida. “I made sure that the family, the authorities and the church were duly informed before the news was put out to the public this morning.”

Andimi’s denomination, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), confirmed the pastor’s death.

 Full story here

1/22/20 – Nepal’s Religious Minorities Face an Uphill Battle

Nepal’s constitution, established in 2015, pays lip some service to the ideal of religious freedom. Article 26.1 guarantees the freedom of all persons to “profess, practice, and preserve” their religion in accordance with their faith. Article 26.2 promises the right of every religious denomination to maintain an independent existence and own property. Nepalese Christians enjoy the freedom to practice their faith as required of them by their consciences.

But do they really? A pastor in Nepal recently endured numerous death threats after a video of him sharing his testimony went viral in 2019. He went into hiding and his case made international news, but he is not alone in the harassment that he experienced. 17 Christians, including two Americans, have been arrested and charged since 2018 under an anti-conversion law signed by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. This law makes it a criminal act to convert or “hurt the religious sentiment” of others—a thinly-veiled move to criminalize minority religious belief.

All of this begs a question—how, if religious freedom is enshrined in the Nepalese Constitution, can a law be passed which essentially outlaws conversion and the expression of minority religious beliefs? The answer is that the place of religious freedom in the Nepalese Constitution is shaky at best and nonexistent at worst.

Full  story here 

1/21/20 – 1 of 4 kidnapped Nigerian seminarians released after suffering serious injuries

A Nigerian seminarian who was abducted this month was freed by his kidnappers after 10 days in captivity. Three seminarians kidnapped with him remain in captivity.

The freed seminarian, who has not yet been identified, is being treated at a Catholic hospital in Kaduna, Nigeria. The extent of his injuries is unclear, but he is being treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“From the time of the abduction, this seminarian was stubborn to the abductors; he could hold on anything he could find, resisting the kidnapping,” a source close to Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna told ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.

“The seminarian was beaten up badly resulting in some fractures of his body parts, yet they took him still,” the source said of the Jan. 8 kidnapping.

The seminarian, still suffering injuries from his abduction, was dumped by kidnappers Jan. 18 on the side of Nigeria’s Kaduna-Abuja highway. He was taken to the hospital after being found by passing motorists.

Full story here 

1/20/20 – Christian Activist Arrested in Tehran

Iranian news reports the arrest of Mary Fatemeh Mohammadi, a Christian human rights activist working from within Tehran. She was arrested on January 12th, near Azadi Square, where protesters had gathered to demonstrate against Iran having accidently shot down a commercial passenger plane. Neither her location nor her status is known at this time.

The arrest occurred just after she had made several tweets about the repression of Iran’s government towards its people. Her tweets included statements such as, “tackling soft repression is harder than hard oppression.” She spoke of how batons and tear gas are used to suppress any voice of protests. She also talked about how the protesters were resisting against the regime’s oppression.

Full story here 

1/17/20 –  Christian Pakistani Family Seeks Refuge in Canada

In early 2018, a Canadian woman started raising funds to bring a Christian family from Pakistan to safety in Canada. The family is fleeing violent religious persecution from relatives because they converted from Islam to Christianity.

Pakistan is number five on the Open Doors 2020 World Watch List. It is most known for Islamic oppression against Christians, especially as it is a Muslim state. Therefore, institutionalized discrimination and disproportionate Blasphemy laws are used against Christians. It is more dangerous for converts because it is shameful to their community, and the family of the convert will, at best, cast them out.

Full story here 

1/16/20 – Two Nigerian Christian Villages Attacked In One Night

On January 8, militant Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in Plateau state. Approximately 20 herdsmen surrounded the village of Kulben at 8:00 pm, descending with guns and forcing the villagers to flee into the bush.

In total, 13 Christian villagers were killed and three others were wounded. The victims are members of the Church of Christ in Nations. A Plateau state legislator, Bala Fwengje, reportedly commented that the attacks came in spite of security agency efforts. Fwengje also commented that that the attack came unprovoked.

On the same day four students were kidnapped from a Catholic seminary in neighboring Kaduna state. Unknown armed bandits shot sporadically at The Good Shepherd Catholic Major Seminary late in the evening. Although no injuries were reported, four students were missing in the wake of the incident.

Full story here 

1/15/20 –  Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian

Every day, 8 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith.

Every week, 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked.

And every month, 309 Christians are imprisoned unjustly.

So reports the 2020 World Watch List (WWL), the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for their faith.

“We cannot let this stand,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, during the 2020 list’s unveiling in Washington, DC, this morning. “People are speaking out and we have an obligation to hear their cry.”

The listed nations comprise 260 million Christians suffering high to severe levels of persecution, up from 245 million in last year’s list.

Full story here 

1/14/20 – Four seminarians abducted in Nigeria

Four seminarians, between the ages of 18 and 23, were abducted Wednesday night from their seminary in Kaduna, in northwestern Nigeria.

Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; Stephen Amos, 23; and Michael Nnadi, 18, were taken from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, around 10:30 pm on Jan. 8 by gunmen. Police are searching for the four young men.

Nearly 270 seminarians live at Good Shepherd.

“The security situation in Nigeria is appalling”, Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International, said Jan. 13. “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”

He compared the situation in Nigeria to that of Iraq prior to the Islamic State’s invasion: “Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state. This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late.”

Full story here 

1/13/20 – Three Christian Teachers Murdered in Kenya

International Christian Concern has learned that three Christian teachers from Kamuthe Primary School in Garissa, Kenya, were killed by the Somali-based terror group al-Shabaab in the early hours of January 13, 2020. The armed militants ambushed Kamuthe village around 2:00 a.m., targeting the school’s resource center that hosted the teachers. Prior to the ambush, the attackers destroyed a telecommunication tool in an effort to paralyze communication as they carried out their heinous attack.

Mr. Robert Kibutu, a teacher who resides outside of the school’s residential area, confirmed the attack, saying, “My fellow teachers were fatally shot by an unknown number of suspected al-Shabaab militia who stormed Kamuthe primary school early this morning and leaving one severely injured by two gunshots. We are sad and at the same time scared because we are targeted for being non-local government workers that belong to the Christian faith.”

Those killed were Caleb Mutua, Titus Ushindi, and Samuel Muthui Kyonzu. Joshua Mutua survived with serious leg injuries.

Full story here 

1/10/20 – Boko Haram kidnaps pastor, releases video showing his plea for help

A pastor abducted by a faction of the radical Islamic extremist group Boko Haram during a raid in the Adamawa state of Nigeria last week has issued a plea for help in a video released by the terrorist group.

The Nigeria-based extremist group known for terrorizing the Lake Chad region released a video last week showing the Rev. Lawan Andimi pleading for his release.

Andimi is the head of the Christian Association in Nigeria’s chapter in the Adamawa state and was declared missing on Jan. 3 following a raid in the town of Michika.

His abduction comes as abductions and violence carried about by both Boko Haram factions have increased since December.

Full story here 

1/9/20 – Supreme Court to Consider Ending Decades of Discrimination Against India’s Low Caste Christians

On Wednesday, January 8, the Supreme Court of India agreed to examine a petition that called for Dalit and other low caste Christians to receive the same government benefits and protection given to their Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh counterparts.

According to a 1950 executive order, Muslims and Christians from low caste backgrounds are unable to receive government benefits and protections given to low caste individuals from Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh backgrounds. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of these individuals endure the same caste-based discrimination, regardless of their religious identity.

The petition was filed by the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) and called for all scheduled caste benefits and protections to be made “religion neutral”. Advocates Franklin Caesar Thomas and S. Gowthaman, representing NCDC, said, “[a] change in religion does not change social exclusion. Caste hierarchy continues to hold fort within Christianity even though the religion forbids it.

Full story here 

1/8/20 –  Catholic persecution worse after Vatican-China deal, Congress finds

A new U.S. government report says that human rights abuse in China has worsened in the last year, and specifically highlighted the escalating persecution of Chinese Catholics in the wake of the Vatican-China agreement of 2018.

“During its 2019 reporting year, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China found that the human rights situation has worsened and the rule of law continued to deteriorate, as the Chinese government and Party increasingly used regulations and laws to assert social and political control,” stated the commission’s annual report, released on Wednesday.

The report said that “After the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Holy See in September 2018 paving the way for unifying the state-sanctioned and underground Catholic communities, local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increasing persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy.”

Full story here 

1/7/20 – Imprisoned Chinese Pastor’s Church Vows to Keep Fighting

Following the nine year sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi, his church, Early Rain Covenant Church, has vowed to continue fighting despite his imprisonment and the escalation of persecution against Christians in China.

In an open letter, ERCC began saying, “Do you government officials not know that this is a sin against God? Do you not know that this is an abuse of your authority? Even so, we do not hate you. On the contrary, our merciful and righteous God wants us to love you and to pray for you”.

They continued on in their letter asking for the universal church to pray for Pastor Wang Yi and Pastor Qin Defu who was also sentenced to four years in prison. Citing scripture, the church proclaimed love and God while also calling for truth and justice for China’s Christians.

Full story here 

1/6/20 – Four Christians in India Arrested for Reading Bibles Near Hindu Temple

On December 28, four Christians in India’s Andhra Pradesh state were arrested after they were seen reading their Bibles and posing for a photograph near a Hindu temple. According to Crux, the four Christians were released on bail after appearing in court.

The four Christians were reportedly arrested in Srisailam, located in India’s Andhra Pradesh state. According to Crux, the four Christians were reading their Bibles in a public park close to the Mallikarjuna Temple, a popular tourist destination.

The four Christians were spotted by security guards opening their Bibles and posing for a photo. The guards took the Christians to the local police station where they were accused of violating a 2007 law that forbids the propagation of other religions in places of worship or prayer. After appearing in court, Crux reports that all four Christians were released on bail.

Full story here 

1/3/20 – Coptic Houses Set on Fire

Egyptian Christian houses were set on fire the evening of December 24th in Qena, according to Copts United News. The incident occurred just days before Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. The arson was done because the Christians had wanted to pray together in the days preceding Christmas.  The village had requested that their church become legalized one year ago but no progress has since been made.

The presence of churches is a highly controversial issue within Egypt. The country’s laws heavily regulate this process, although less so compared to previous years. Churches are often an unwelcome presence in villages, even in cases where the population has a strong Christian demographic. Islamic extremists often do all within their power to prevent churches from operating, and to discourage Christians from living comfortably within villages.

1/2/20 – New Chinese law will require churches to promote “the values of socialism”

A brief notice on the English-language website of China’s official news agency said that the nation’s Religious Affairs Administration has released a set of regulations on the management of religious groups.

“In six chapters and 41 articles, the regulations include content on the organization, functions, supervision and management of religious groups,” the Xinhua agency reported. “They stipulate that religious affairs departments of people’s governments are the administrative bodies of religious groups, and should perform their functions such as guiding and supervising the groups’ operation.”

AsiaNews, however, went into more detail, saying that every aspect of the life of religious communities—such as formation, gatherings and annual and daily projects—is subject to approval by the government’s religious affairs department.

Read more at Aleteia

1/1/20 – Nigerian diocesan spokesman: Bridal party beheaded en route to wedding

Father Francis Arinse, communications director of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, confirmed that a bride-to-be, Martha Bulus, and her bridal party were beheaded Dec. 26 at Gwoza, in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state.

Arinse told Catholic News Service that Bulus and her companions were traveling from Maiduguri to her Dec. 31 wedding when they were killed.

“They were beheaded by suspected Boko Haram insurgents at Gwoza on their way to her country home,” he told CNS. He added that Bulus used to be his parishioner at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Maiduguri, after he was first ordained.

Arinse said there had been a series of abductions in the area recently. He said government agencies must beef up security in northeast Nigeria to prevent a recurrence.

Several international media outlets reported Dec. 26 that the Islamic State group released a video showing it had beheaded 10 Christians and shot an 11th Dec. 26. The news agencies said they were unable to confirm the contents of the video but described the victims as men. IS said the beheadings were payback for the late-October killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghadi.

Full story here 

12/31/19 – China sentences pastor to 9 years on subversion charge

China on Monday sentenced a prominent pastor who operated outside the Communist Party-recognized Protestant organization to nine years in prison.

The People’s Intermediate Court in the southwestern city of Chengdu said Wang Yi was also convicted of illegal business operations, fined and had his personal assets seized.

Wang had led the Early Rain Covenant Church and was arrested a year ago as part of an ongoing crackdown on all unauthorized religious groups in the country. The government requires that Protestants worship only in churches recognized and regulated by the party-led Three-Self Patriotic Movement. A separate body oversees the Catholic Church, and China and the Vatican have no formal relations.

 Si Weijiang, a lawyer hired by Wang’s mother, said the charge of illegal business operations stemmed from the printing of books about Christian culture.

“It is actually about the freedom of publication and there has been no social harm,” Si said in a phone interview.

The charge of incitement “involves preaching and is an issue of speech, which has also inflicted no social harm,” he said.

Full story here 

12/30/19 – Church in Eastern India Burned After Christians Attacked by Ax-Wielding Extremists

On December 1, a mob of ax-wielding tribal extremists attacked a church community in eastern India and threatened to chop the Christians to pieces according to Morning Star News. The attack came only five days after the same extremists raided the homes of Christians living in Perigaon village, located in India’s Odisha state, and burned their Bibles.

After we concluded the prayers and community lunch service, a batch of around 15 tribal men came with axes,” Pastor Bibudhan Pradhan told Morning Star News. “[They] surrounded the church and threatened that they would chop us into pieces.”

According to Morning Star News, the extremists captured the pastor and his wife and held them hostage for hours. “They abused us with vulgar language,” Pastor Pradhan told Morning Star News. “[They] threatened us that their gods and goddesses will swallow us alive for propagating Christianity in an Adivasi hamlet.

Full story here 

12/27/19 – ISIS beheads 10 Christian captives in Nigeria as retaliation for Baghdadi death

ISIS released a video Thursday that purportedly shows militants in black masks beheading 10 blindfolded Christian men and shooting an 11th in Nigeria, as part of a grisly campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the group’s spokesman.

The militant group’s video was produced by its own so-called news agency, Amaq, and was released the day after Christmas.

The 56-second video has Arabic captions but does not have audio.

In the video, ISIS soldiers wearing beige uniforms and black masks are lined up behind the Christian men. One captive in the middle is shot while the other 10 are pushed to the ground and beheaded. Not a lot of details were given about the victims other than they were male, Christian and “captured in the past weeks” in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State.

In an earlier video seen by Reuters, the captaives pleaded for the Christian Association of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to save them.

Full story here 

12/26/19 – Cross on Shoes Sparks Controversy

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has stopped the sale of shoes bearing the image of the cross on the sole after receiving multiple complaints from the Christian community. A similar incident happened last Christmas season. The image of a cross on the bottom of a shoe is viewed as a symbol of disrespect to the Christian community.

Full story here 

 12/25/19 – Mother of Three in Uganda Left by Husband After Conversion

According to Morning Star News, Florence Namuyiga, a 27-year-old mother of three in Lwebitati village, Mubende District, converted to Christianity in May of this year. She started secretly attending church shortly after converting and took two of her young children. She was not willing to risk taking her oldest son, who is 7 years old. During the next 6 months, she continued to secretly attend the church services and finally decided to take her oldest son in November.

She then told Morning Star News that the night she took her oldest son to church, he returned home and sang some of the church songs in front of his father. When the husband heard the songs, he questioned Florence about where he had learned them. When she did not answer, the husband, 34-year-old Abudalah Nsubuga, questioned the son. The boy, not knowing what was wrong, told his father about the church service. His father then went to bed without talking to his wife.

Full story here 

12/24/19 -China Bans Public Gatherings for Christmas

Christians around China have been told that they should avoid holding public gatherings to celebrate Christmas.

According to Radio Free Asia, house churches in the southern province of Guangdong, the eastern province of Shandong and the southwestern provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou have been contacted by police and warned off holding any events.

“We are afraid to meet in public [because such meetings] have been designated illegal gatherings,” a Shandong pastor who gave only the name John said on Christmas Eve.

He said the ban appeared to target churches that had so far resisted joining the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches.

“We can’t do Christmas this year; we can’t hold any activities on Christmas,” he said, before adding “We celebrated it a few days ago in [smaller] groups, whereas in the past we were able to celebrate it with thousands of people coming together.”

A pastor of a house church in Sichuan surnamed Li said his church was under a similar ban, where they are “not allowed to celebrate Christmas here, and it’s the same across the whole country.” His church has more than 1,000 members who had been able to celebrate together in previous years.

A member of a house church in Nanyang city, Henan province said his church had been visited on Sunday by officials from the local bureau of religious affairs.

Full story here 

12/23/19 – Christians Prepare for Another Not So Merry Christmas in India

 As many of the world’s Christians prepare to celebrate the Christmas holiday, Christians in India are struggling with a growing sense of fear. In just a single week in December, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented over half a dozen instances of religious persecution against Indian Christians.

As a result of these incidents, at least 10 Christians were arrested on trumped up criminal charges, 25 Christian families were cut off from clean drinking water, and several churches, including one church with nearly 600 members, were shut down. Unfortunately, this trend of increasing intolerance and persecution is nothing new for India’s Christians, and it is having an impact on the community’s ability to freely celebrate the Christmas holiday.

We have cancelled all our Christmas events in Banni Mardatti village, including carols, cottage meetings, and pre-Christmas events,” Pastor Raja Bhovi, head pastor of His Grace Church located in India’s Karnataka State, told ICC. “There is a fear of being attacked by Hindu radicals.

On December 4, Pastor Bhovi’s church community was attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists as they were clearing a plot of land for the construction of a church. The Christians were brutally beaten by the extremists as a result.

Full story here 

12/20/19 – There were over 800 extremist attacks in West Africa in 2019

Extremist attacks have risen dramatically in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, from 180 incidents in 2017 to more than 800 violent attacks in 2019, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The rise in violence by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the al-Qaeda affiliate Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin led the U.S. Secretary of State to declare in November that the Sahel will be a “preferred area of focus” outside of the Middle East for the Defeat ISIS coalition.

Christians have been the target of number of such attacks in the Sahel this year. On December 1 gunmen attacked a Protestant service in Burkina Faso, killing 14 people, including several children.

“There is an ongoing persecution of Christians. For months, we bishops have been denouncing what is happening in Burkina Faso, but nobody is listening to us,” Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya told Aid to the Church in Need following the December attack.

More than 60 Christians have been killed in Burkina Faso alone in 2019, according to ACN.

Full story here 

12/19/19 –  Boko Haram Releases Video of Abducted Christians

Boko Haram recently released a video that shows 11 Christians who were abducted by the militant group at the end of November, pleading for assistance from Christian groups and the Nigerian government.

The spokesperson for the group in the video, Bitrus Bwala, a lecturer at a local college, shared that he was kidnapped on November 27. The group also witnessed the recent killing of several aid workers from Action Against Hunger who had been kidnapped in July. Bwala appeared overcome in the video over what the group had experienced.

Bwala and the 10 other captives are reportedly unsafe because of their Christian faith. They appealed to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to come and save them. Bwala also rebuked the federal government, saying that they had not done enough on behalf of the victims held by Boko Haram. He specifically cited that Leah Sharibu is with them and is still in custody, at least in part, because of the lack of action of the Nigerian government.

12/18/19 – Houses of worship attacked with deadly frequency in 2019

On Dec. 1, a band of assailants opened fire on worshippers at a small-town Protestant church in Burkina Faso, an impoverished West African country where the Christian minority is increasingly a target of attacks. The victims included the pastor and several teenage boys; regional authorities attributed the attack to “unidentified armed men” who, according to witnesses, got away on motorcycles.

The slaughter merited brief reports by international news outlets, then quickly faded from the spotlight – not surprising in a year where attacks on places of worship occurred with relentless frequency. Hundreds of worshippers and many clergy were killed at churches, mosques, synagogues and temples.

A two-week span in January illustrated the scope of this somber phenomenon. In Thailand, a group of separatist insurgents attacked a Buddhist temple, killing the abbot and one of his fellow monks. In the Philippines, two suicide attackers detonated bombs during a Mass in a Roman Catholic cathedral on the largely Muslim island of Jolo, killing 23 and wounding about 100. Three days later, an attacker hurled a grenade into a mosque in a nearby city, killing two Muslim religion teachers.

The worst was yet to come.

Full story here 

12/17/19 – Pakistani Christians Ten Times More Likely to be Accused of Blasphemy

Release International, an organization that supports persecuted Christians around the world, reports that Christians in Pakistan are ten times more likely to be accused of blasphemy than other members of the country’s population. In light of this shocking statistic, the organization has called for Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Speaking to the Church Times, Paul Robinson, Chief Executive of Release International, said, “Given that Christians make up just two per cent of the population, the numbers charged are disproportionately high. Christians are ten times more likely to be accused of religious offenses in Pakistan.

The blasphemy laws have been used to make false allegations against Christians, often to settle scores,” Robinson continued. “Just to accuse someone of blasphemy can light a fuse that leads to murder. The blasphemy laws are weapons of religious discrimination. They must be repealed.

Full story here 

12/16/19 – Over 1,000 Christians in Nigeria killed by Fulani, Boko Haram in 2019: NGO report

Over 1,000 Christians have been killed this year in Nigeria as attacks led by Fulani extremists continue to plague rural farming communities in the Middle Belt, according to an estimation published by the U.K.-based nongovernmental organization Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust.

HART, a nonprofit founded by U.K. member of Parliament Baroness Caroline Cox to “support people suffering from conflict and persecution,” released a report last month sharing details and testimonies from a recent fact-finding mission to Nigeria.

The Nov. 18 report is titled “Your Land or Your Body: The escalating persecution and displacement of Christians in northern and central Nigeria.” A copy of the report was obtained by The Christian Post.

“Islamist Fulani militia continue to engage in an aggressive and strategic land grabbing policy in Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and parts of Bauchi state,” the report reads. “They attack rural villages, force villagers off their lands and settle in their place — a strategy that is epitomized by the phrase: ‘your land or your blood.’”

Full story here 

12/13/19 – Eight Christians in Central India Attacked and Falsely Accused of Forced Conversions

Eight Christians in India’s Madhya Pradesh state have been attacked and taken into police custody in just the past seven days. In all of these attacks, radical Hindu nationalists used false allegations of forced religious conversions to justify their assaults and land these eight Christians in jail.

In the first incident, Pastor Rahul Para was arrested by police after he was accused by radicals of engaging in forced religious conversions. According to local sources in the Jhabua district, Pastor Para was arrested in the middle of the night and his wife and children were forced to vacate their rented home. As a result, Pastor Para was jailed in the local police station as his wife and children were left with nowhere to go.

Full story here 

12/12/19 – Christian Wedding in Pakistan Violently Raided by Police

On December 5, four policemen dressed in civilian clothes violently raided a Christian wedding ceremony in Gojra, located in Pakistan’s Punjab province. According to the victims, the police beat several of the Christians attending the wedding, used abusive language, and vandalized the home where the ceremony was taking place.

According to witnesses, the wedding of Sajid Masih was in progress when the policemen attack. In a video uploaded to Facebook, one of the victims claimed that the police used abusive language, calling the Christian women “Kanjries”, prostitutes, and “Choori”, a derogatory word used to describe Christians as unclean and untouchable.

Full story here 

12/11/19 – At Least Nine Christians Murdered in Kenya Attack

International Christian Concern has learned that on December 6, 2019, 11 non-local Christian passengers were attacked while travelling to Mandera from Nairobi and killed at Kotulo in northeastern Kenya. They were reportedly separated from their Muslim counterparts and killed for failing to recite the Islamic Shahada. Confirming the incident, a Kenyan police officer told ICC, “A passenger bus belonging to Medina Bus Company, traveling between Wajir and Mandera was attacked by a criminal gang at around 1730 hours this evening. The attack happened at Maadathe area, five kilometers to Kotulo. Lives are believed to have been lost.”

According to a reliable source, the militants separated passengers into groups, targeting the non-locals. Nine of the passengers on the Mandera-bound bus who could not recite the Shahada were paraded out of the bus and shot dead at close range by those believed to be al-Shabaab militants. There are two passengers still missing who are believed to also be dead. The names of those confirmed as killed are Athanus Kiti, Enos Odhiambo, Kelvin Mandela, Wisely Meli, Tikane Kasale, Leonard Mukanda, Francis Mbuvi, Rodgers Machuka, and Anchari Okerosi. The two still missing are Emmanuel Barasa and Nathan Bett.

Full story here 

12/10/19 – Amid terrorism fears in Indonesia, heavy security planned for Christmas

Authorities in Indonesia are expected to deploy 160,000 security personnel to ensure Christmas and New Year’s celebrations safe, according to local media.

According to UCA News, the number of security personnel deployed this year will be almost double that of 2018, when nearly 90,000 security personnel guarded about 50,000 churches across the country.

The chief of the National Police Traffic Corps said military personnel and “members of government agencies” will guard churches and tourism sites during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

In addition to attacks on religious minorities in recent years, Indonesia suffered a bombing attack on a police headquarters in Medan in North Sumatra in November, and in October a militant with ties to an ISIS-affiliated terrorist group stabbed the country’s Security Minister.

Full story here 

12/9/19 – Christmas Celebrations Canceled in Iraq After Deaths of 400 Protesters

Distributing food to protesters with 40 fellow church members under the Jumariyah bridge near Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Ara Badalian made a poignant observation.

“This movement is a flood, occupying the hearts of the youth and the poor, without any religious discrimination,” the pastor of National Baptist Church recalled to CT. “It has broken down all the walls that divided Iraqis.”

It is at the bridges—about a dozen span the Tigris River, which bifurcates the Iraqi capital—where most violence has taken place. The protest movement, which began in October, has resulted in more than 400 deaths, around a dozen of them security personnel. Over 17,000 people have been injured.

In response, the Chaldean Catholic Church decided last week to refrain from holding public celebrations of Christmas, trading tree decorations and holiday receptions for prayers of intercession.

“Instead of bringing hope and prosperity, the current government structure has brought continued corruption and despair,” Bashar Warda, the Chaldean archbishop of Erbil, told the United Nations Security Council last week.

“[Iraqi youth] have made it clear that they want Iraq … to be a place where all can live together as equal citizens in a country of legitimate pluralism and respect for all.”

Protesters have demanded the dissolution of parliament, widespread government reforms, and amendment of the sectarian-based 2005 constitution.

Full story here 

12/6/19 – Ethiopian Pastors Beheaded by Radicals

Recent social upheavals in Ethiopia have resulted in the beheading of two local pastors.

Just over 20 miles Southwest of the capital, Addis Ababa, lies the small town of Sebeta. The settlement is predominantly Islamic with only a handful of Christian institutions active in the area. A local Muslim leader, Jawar Mohammed, recently lost his personal security protection granted to him by the state and responded by stirring up social fervor among his local acolytes.

The town’s population erupted, with riots forming and mobs coalescing across the urban center to protest the actions of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. Eventually, the militant locals made their ways en masse to the homes of Pastors Isaias and Assefa Tesfaye, of Full Gospel Church and Mekane Yesus Lutheran Church respectively. Both men were seized and beheaded following the storming of their residence compounds

Full story here 

12/5/19 – Burkina Faso Bishop: As Violence Continues, ‘Nobody is Listening’

Following the death of more than a dozen Christians in a church shooting over the weekend, a Burkina Faso bishop said Western governments have a responsibility to stop the flow of weapons to militants in the region.

“The Western powers should stop those who are committing these crimes, instead of selling them the weapons that they are using to kill the Christians,” Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya told Aid to the Church in Need.

On Sunday, gunmen in the eastern Burkina Faso town of Hantoukoura attacked a protestant church service, killing 14 people, including several children.

“I condemn the barbaric attack against the Protestant Church of Hantoukoura in the department of Foutouri, which left 14 dead and several wounded. I offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” President Roch Marc Kaboré tweeted late Sunday.

Bishop Kientega said the attack is part of an attempt by radical Islamists to “provoke a conflict between the religions in a country where Christians and Muslims have always lived peaceably side by side.”

According to the Washington Post, militants with connections to al-Qaeda and ISIS regularly attack soldiers and civilians in the region.

“No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack, just as no-one claimed responsibility for the previous ones. So we don’t know whether it is one group or several groups that are involved,” Bishop Kientega said.

Full story here 

12/4/19 – Chinese Church Leader Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Qin Derfu, an elder from Sichuan’s Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) who has been detained since last December, was sentenced to four years in prison for “illegal business” on November 29. The sentencing took place four days after his trial at the Qingyang People’s Court.

The police promised Qin’s family that if they allowed the government to employ two assigned lawyers to replace Qin’s own assigned lawyer, Qin “would only need to appear at the court before he can be released.” However, the judge then slapped him with the four-year sentence for illegally printing and publishing publications without authorization from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

According to Radio Free Asia, Qin’s wife received two passes to attend the trial. Qin’s own assigned lawyer was, however, unable to sit in, and Qin was left to be defended by the two state assigned lawyers. The court asked Qin to plead guilty to the aforementioned accusations, to which he refused.

The judge stated that “Qin’s criminal act was especially grave,” for he printed tens of thousands of Gospel pamphlets. An ERCC member told RFA that during the trial, the prosecutor never mentioned Qin’s church, or that he is a Christian and an elder, in a clear attempt to mark this case as non-religious and purely about running an illegal business.

Full story here 

12/3/19 – Church Attack in Burkina Faso Leaves 14 Dead

Gunmen attacked a church in Eastern Burkina Faso on Sunday, December 1. The attack took place in the small town of Hantoukoura and left 14 Christians slain, with numerous others injured. This attack is very reminiscent of the multiple attacks that took place earlier this year in Northern Burkina Faso, when churches, Clergy and Laypeople were killed during religious ceremonies.

Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, it is very likely that these attacks are tied to the growing islamist insurgency that has rooted itself in Mali and Northern Burkina Faso. According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, the number of deaths from the violence in Burkina Faso is roughly 60 percent higher this year when compared to last year when 1,112 people were killed.

Full Story Here 

12/2/19 – Egyptian Christian Detained on Terror Charges

The lawyer of Egyptian Coptic Christian activist Ramy Kamel confirmed on Monday that Ramy was arrested by plainclothes security officials over the weekend. According to Egyptian authorities, Ramy was a member of a terror group who received foreign funding and broadcast “false” information. He is being kept in Tora Prison, just south of Cairo.

Egypt has cracked down harshly on free speech, and this arrest is yet another signpost of the authorities preventing Christians from speaking about the issues which most concern them. Ramy is a leading member of the Maspero Youth Union, a Christian group named after the Maspero Massacre in 2011. The massacre occurred when Christians protested against a church closure, and the government responded with live gunfire. It remains one of the deadliest incidents by the Egyptian authorities against Christians. Ramy has frequently spoken out about the sectarian violence faced by Christians.

Full story here 

11/29/19 – Sichuan Church Members Continuously Persecuted as Anniversary of Crackdown Approaches

As December 9, the date where the local authorities cracked down on Sichuan’s Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) last year approaches, members of ERCC continue to face harassment and hardships.

For Pei Wenju and his wife Jing Jianan, it was already heart wrenching when the authorities forcibly took their four adopted children away from them and sent the kids with special needs to different families, not long after the 1209 crackdown. Yet the persecution did not stop there. They were forced to move out from their rented residence of eight years last January.

Ten months later, on November 25, their current landlord knocked on their door, and a police officer from Taishen Road police station demanded them to move out within two days. If they dare to go downstairs, they would be beaten up every time they spot an officer. Their daughter was frightened and traumatized.

Full story here 

11/28/19 – Vietnamese Priest Banned from Attending Pope’s Mass in Japan

A Catholic priest was recently blocked by the Vietnamese government from travelling to Japan to attend a mass by Pope Francis. On November 21, the priest accused the government of targeting him because of his environmental activism.

Vietnam has a history with fearing organized religion, given its communist nature. Many Catholics in the country have been vocal in speaking out against social injustice and advocating for oppressed people. For this, the government targets them and makes their lives difficult.

Full story here 

11/27/19 – Burkina Faso Could Become Another Syria, Warns the UN World Food Programme

Warnings of an “escalating humanitarian crisis” in Burkina Faso have been issued by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Much of the country is under attack by violent extremist groups from the north of the country and Mali. Due to these violent attacks, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced in just the past four months, according to the UN. These people are in severe need of food, shelter, and water as they struggle to find a safe haven in this dangerous area.

Mary Awad, the spokeswoman for the WFP, told Radio France Internationale, “Burkina Faso is one of the three countries that constitutes the central Sahel in West Africa and it’s facing a toxic combination of rapidly escalating armed conflict, which is leading to population displacement in very large numbers.” The UN agency is worried with this growth of displacement and its coinciding humanitarian crisis, that it could turn into the next Syria.

Full story here 

11/26/19 – Imprisoned Church Leader Faces Trial Today in China

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Qin Derfu, an elder from Sichuan’s Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) who has been detained since last December, faced his trial today at the Qingyang People’s Court.

The court only allowed two family members to sit in, so no one from ERCC was able to witness the trial. Outside of the court, there were many plainclothes officials to intimidate those supporting Qin.

According to Qin’s wife, Xiao Hongliu, the assigned lawyer, Li Gueisheng, was unable to attend the trial, and they knew little about who the government forcibly assigned to Qin as a replacement.

Xiao posted a message on social media today, saying, “Dad and I returned home accompanied by the police. The prosecutor accused Qin Derfu of running an illegal business, and the lawyer defended for his innocence. Qin Derfu also testified [for himself] that it is not a crime to have [Christian] faith. We pray and look up to God for the result— justice is in His hand.”

No conviction was made today, and it is still unknown to the public when the next trial will take place.

Together with Pastor Wang Yi and elder Li Yingqiang, Qin was arrested and accused of “running an illegal business” during the 1209 government crackdown against the house church last year. While elder Li was released last August on bail, Pastor Wang Yi and elder Qin are still being held by the government.

Full story here 

11/25/19 – House Church Pastor Falsely Accused of Forced Conversion in Northern India

Attacks on Christians continue to increase in their frequency and severity in India’s Uttar Pradesh state as the state government, controlled by the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) prepares to enact an anti-conversion law. Among those affected by this increase in persecution was the head pastor of a house church in Sikhanderpur.

Members of my congregation are very disturbed and disillusioned over what happened last Sunday,” Pastor Khaia, head pastor of the house church in Sikhanderpur, recently told International Christian Concern (ICC). According to Pastor Khaia, local police stopped his church’s Sunday worship service on the morning of November 17 and took him to the local police station. There, Pastor Khaia was accused of being involved in religious conversions.

The police did not disclose who complained against me or what evidence was given in order for police to act against me and take me into the custody,” Pastor Khaia said. “I told the police that I am not involved in any religious conversions and that people come to my church to be prayed over and listen to teachings from the Bible.

Full story here 

11/22/19 – Christian Evangelist Murdered in Southeast Turkey

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 19, 2019, Korean evangelist Jinwook Kim was stabbed on the streets in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. He later died in the hospital from his injuries; he was 41 years old. The Public Security Branch Directorate of Murder Bureau has arrested a 16-year-old suspect and an investigation is ongoing.

Kim had arrived in Diyarbakir with his family earlier this year and was pastoring a small community of Christians. The assailant stabbed Kim three times: twice in the heart, once in the back. Officials, however, claim that the incident occurred in an effort to steal Kim’s phone. Local believers urge the authorities to investigate the incident as an assassination, rather than an attempt at extortion. Kim was married and had one child, although his second is expected to be born in the coming days. A funeral service will be held tomorrow. He had lived in Turkey for five years.

Full story here 

11/21/19 – In Pakistan, two kidnappings of underage Christian girls

This is the story of Samra Munir (13) and Neha Pervaiz (14). Both Catholic girls were kidnapped from their homes by Muslims. Samra was forced to marry and convert to Islam; her family has not seen her since her abduction. Nehah was more fortunate and got away from her captor, though she suffered sexual assault. 

These are but two examples of kidnapping of under-age Christian girls in Pakistan and the practice of forced marriage and conversion to Islam. The number of such incidents is sharply on the rise.

Samra loves her family and understands that she must help them; she enjoys cooking and assisting with household chores. She has only completed three years of primary school; the family lives on daily wages and her parents cannot afford school fees. 

On September 16, 2019, Samra was home alone. Her parents were at work and her siblings were at the market. It was then that she was kidnapped; she was forcibly thrown into a car and taken away. Samra’s brother Shahzad saw the car drive away. He ran after it but could not keep up. 

Samra’s parents repeatedly reported the kidnapping, but local police insisted that she was not taken. Police said she ran away from home. Her parents were told not to create a scene. 

Some time passed before the family received any news.  The learned that Samra had married and converted to Islam. Her marriage certificate listed her age as 19. The police ordered her parents not to come again and they were threatened that their other daughter, Arooj, would suffer a similar fate. 

Full story here 

11/20/19 – Chinese Pastor to Face Trial Without Representation

Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor, Wang Yi, has been in custody since December 9, 2018. He is expected to officially start his trial soon.

However, the Chinese government recently fired Wang’s lawyer and has yet to appoint him a new attorney, prompting the presumption that he will therefore be forced to represent himself at trial. Wang’s previous attorney, Zhang Peihong, was endorsed by ERCC. ICC previously reported that, according to ERCC, it would be best for Pastor Wang to defend himself if his two original attorneys were unable to serve, due to government interference.

Full story here 

11/19/19 – Church Attack in Rimenze, South Sudan Displaces Thousands

An attack on the Rimenze Catholic Church in South Sudan has left thousands of people without homes or hope and four people dead. Reports came out that and attack took place on the church compound and surrounding village on November 7th.  The gunmen are still unknown and no groups have claimed responsibility. This makes the reason for the attack hard to determine. According to eyewitnesses, many of the surrounding homes were looted and burned, and everyone has been sleeping in the bush since then. This may mean that it was a criminal attack with the purpose of stealing supplies.

The South Sudanese government has not helped in any way up until this point. This includes that they have not provided any security, leaving the people to live in fear of another attack. “Up to now people are still sleeping in the bush, because there is no security. Even they had come to the church and there is no security in the church. There is no information about the government tackling the security here’‘, said Reverend Father Peter Babetimo of the Rimenze Catholic Church to AfricaNews.com.

Full story here 

11/18/19 – China Increases Church Surveillance and Monitoring

Surveillance and tracking devices have reportedly been installed in churches across China as part of authorities increasing desire to control the movements of Christians in the country.

Facial recognition technology was placed in Three Self Churches in the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur region. Several other churches reported instances of surveillance in different provinces as well. In early October, Muyang Church in Hubei had facial recognition and fingerprint software installed and were required to have congregants scanned before each entry to the building.

Bitter Winter has reported that the fingerprints and scans are being used to not only monitor and track those attending worship services, but also their families. The regular scanning also reveals who is consistently attending services.

Full story here 

11/15/19 – Chinese Bishop Targeted in Church Detachment Strategy

Bishop Vincenzo Guo Xijin of Fujian is currently being pressured and pursued by the Chinese government to sign documentation associating himself with an “independent Church”.

This is part of a broader appeal of Chinese officials against underground Catholics which targets the separation of Catholics from the Vatican and therefore the universal Church. By associating themselves with an independent Church, they are no longer recognized as Catholics.

Full story here 

11/14/19 – Pakistani Christian Family Claims Their Son’s Murder is being Covered Up

The family of Akash Masih, an 18-year-old Christian who worked at Aman Bakery in Sialkot, Pakistan, claims that their son was murdered by his Muslim coworkers on September 24. According to Akash’s father, his son was killed because of discrimination and religious jealousy.

My son was an expert at baking and making shawarma and burgers,” Sarwar Masih, Akash’s father, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “His expertise was liked by the customers, however, he faced discrimination and religious jealousy at his workplace. He often complained about the unfavorable situation at the bakery, but he continued working to help his family.

On September 24, the staff at Aman Bakery informed Sarwar that his son was not feeling well and was taken to the local hospital. When Sarwar arrived at the hospital, he discovered that his son was already dead.

When Sarwar attempted to investigate his son’s death, he was threatened by the Aman Bakery’s administration. “They said, ‘We will teach you a lesson if you go for legal course against us,’” Sarwar told ICC. “We did not get an encouraging response from police either.

According to Sarwar, police claim that Akash committed suicide.

Full story here 

11/13/19 – Two Attacks in Syria target Christians, civilians

Away from the front lines of an ongoing offensive by Turkey against Syrian forces, terror attacks struck at the heart of northeast Syria’s beleaguered civilians, targeting Christians.

Two suicide bombings on Monday exploded in Qamishli, a city jointly patrolled by the semi-autonomous Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian army.

A car bomb in central Qamishli went off in a market and nearby hotel, rattling buildings and shattering glass in a busy commercial area. I sat across the street in a second-floor hotel reception area where the glass spilled across the floor and ductwork fell from the ceiling. Hotel guests gathered in a dark stairwell as secondary explosions, including another car caught in the blast, reverberated down the crowded street at about 3 p.m. Eyewitnesses reported five dead and about 40 wounded in the blast, but so far there’s been no official toll.

Moments later a motorcycle bomber struck the Chaldean Catholic Church only blocks away. An eyewitness, while filming the first bombing, caught on camera the explosion.

Full story here 

11/12/19 – ISIS claims responsibility for murder of Catholic priest in Syria

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the murder of Armenian Catholic priest Father Hovsep Bidoyan, who was gunned down today, Monday, November 11, 2019, on his way a church in eastern Syria.

Both Father Hovsep Bidoyan, from Qamishli, and his biological father were killed while traveling to visit to the Armenian Catholic Church in Deir Ezzor, a city in eastern Syria.

According to a report from the website Rudaw, ISIS took credit for the murders hours after they took place. Fr. Bidoyan and his father were on their way to “supervise the restoration” of a church when they were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights(SOHR), UK-based war monitor, reported Rudaw.

Full story here

11/11/19 – Christian Magazine Forced to Sinicize Biblical Imagery

Since January 2019, China’s state-sanctioned Christian magazine, Heavenly Wind, has published sinicized biblical artwork on its cover. Chinese authorities have required that the magazine, published by the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the China Christian Council, use Chinese culture and style when depicting biblical scenes as well as Scripture.

According to Bitter Winter, the July edition of the magazine included a section that compared Bible verses to Chinese philosophers and adages. The October edition celebrated the 70th anniversary of Communist China with patriotic verbiage. This is only one of the ways that the Chinese government attempts to influence Christian faith and anything that deters undivided faithfulness to the Chinese ruling party.

Full story here 

11/8/19 – Turkish Christian Teacher Suspended

A Turkish teacher of religious culture and ethics lessons is preparing a lawsuit following a suspension from her position after it became known that she was no longer Muslim. The Ministry of National Education is currently investigating the suspension.

According to Turkish law, a teacher is not required to be Muslim for any teacher positions. However, students are required to attend Islamic religious classes. Indeed, the government is slowly transitioning towards an education system that is more Islamic than secular. 798 Imam Hatip Schools were added to the 2018-2019 school year, and the number of students receiving this education has reached 1.3 million, according to Turkish news. It is anticipated that the budget for 2020-2022 will break a record 30 billion TL.

Full story here 

11/7/19 – Burkina Faso Suffers Deadliest Attack in Last 5 Years

Yesterday morning, gunmen attacked a convoy driving to a gold mine in Burkina Faso. The attackers have not yet been identified, but they are likely connected with the large network of Islamic extremist groups that have found a safe haven in the North of the country.

The target of the attack was a convoy of buses moving workers to the local mine. The buses were escorted by military vehicles as the company who operates the mine, Canadian gold mining company Semafo, has already been attacked before. This attack took the lives of 37 people and injured dozens of others. It is the deadliest attack in the country over the past five years of active Jihadists activity. The previous worst attack was in June 2016, when a hotel in Ouagadougou was attacked killing 30.

Full Story here 

11/6/19 – Malaysia Establishes New Regulations for Missionaries

Not without reason, Malaysia has been called the one of the most religiously-diverse nations in the world, maintaining a religious status quo between Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus, Sikhs, and several other religious minority communities. In recent times however, this religious plurality has sparked a series of debates regarding the nature of how missionary activities may impact the nation internally.

Malaysia has begun to pay considerably more attention to missionaries and other religious leaders entering their country. The national government has founded various boards and councils to monitor religious affairs and to review religious officials and missionaries. Missionaries must now obtain passes and licenses from the government and must cautiously choose their words as they minister. Some are concerned that this legislation comes close to infringing upon religious liberty and may greatly hamper the ability of missionaries to continue their work in Malaysia.

Full Story here 

11/5/19 – Priest Kidnapped and Released in Same Week in Enugu, Nigeria

Last Monday, October 28, Father Arinze Madu was abducted by gunmen while leaving the Queen of Apostles Seminary where he is the vice rector. The abduction of Father Madu is just one of many that have taken place across Nigeria involving clergy. These types of abductions often target the teachers as they have congregations who can help raise money for ransoms. Thankfully, it appears that Father Madu’s family and church were able to raise the funds to ransom back the priest as he was released just two days later.

Though Father Madu was freed without harm, not all of the clergy who have been taken are this lucky. Over the past year, several other pastors and priests have also been taken in Enugu State. Father Paul Offu was shot just two months prior to this abduction, and did not survive. Father Clement Ugwu was also abducted and killed earlier in March of this year.

Full story here 

11/4/19 – Chinese authorities offer land for new church after demolition protest

Chinese authorities have offered a compensation to a Catholic community for the destruction of their church. The offer comes after parishioners barricaded themselves in the Church building overnight in protest of the demolition.

In an apparent concession to the protestors, government officials have agreed to provide a piece of land for the church to be rebuilt, as well as money to compensate for the destruction of the original building.

Catholics in Wu Gao Zhang, part of Hebei’s Guantao district, held an overnight vigil in their parish Oct. 31, after local authorities said the church would be destroyed because of an alleged lack of proper building permits. Local Catholics insist that the church was fully approved by the Chinese government, despite the dispute.

The parishioners were joined by priests from the Diocese of Handan. Several of the priests proceeded to help with negotiations between the Catholic community and government officials throughout the night.

After several hours of negotiations, the Chinese government agreed to provide land and compensation to rebuild the church somewhere else. Although the priests requested that the land be given immediately, prior to the demolition of the church building, it was not immediately clear that this happened.

The church was demolished as scheduled.

Full story here 

11/1/19 – Finding Salvation in the Midst of Persecution: Kamcha’s Testimony

Until the night of January 8 this year, I was dead against the Christian faith and used to hate people who follow Christianity, including my husband,” Kamcha Miniaka, a 22-year-old tribal woman from India’s Odisha state recently told International Christian Concern (ICC). For the past 10 months, Kamcha, her husband, Nilli, and their 4-year-old daughter have been displaced from their home village of Getchela. All three were chased out of their home village because of their faith in Jesus.

In an interview with ICC, Kamcha explained the dramatic experience of how her life changed on the night of January 8, 2019.

There were about 200 people in front of my house at around 8:00 in the night,” Kamcha recalled. “Almost the entire village. In the middle of so much of noise, I heard the strong voice of Mugri Mandinga, the village chief, saying, ‘Bring the axe, we will finish them today.’”

According to Kamcha, her husband Nilli and his friend Ramesh became Christians two years ago after witnessing a miraculous healing. Since his conversion, Nilli has faced intense pressure and harassment.

After several attempts by radical Hindu nationalists to persuade Nilli to return to Hinduism, the threats of violence started. Then, on January 8, the village chief along with other villagers attacked the families of both Nilli and Ramesh.

What moved me was the conviction and the determination my husband had in that situation,” Kamcha told ICC. “He was ready to pay the cost, even if it is death.

I remember blackmailing my husband several times saying that I will divorce him if he continues as a Christian,” Kamcha recalled. “All of my relatives follow Hinduism, including my parents and aunts and uncles. But Nilli was always kind to me and used to share about Jesus, even when I was so stubborn in my attitude towards him.”

As the villagers surrounded Nilli and Ramesh, Kamcha recalled the internal conflict she felt. “I thought to myself that they were going to kill my husband,” Kamcha told ICC. “I was hoping that my husband would decide to leave the Christian faith and compromise with the villagers, because there was no other way for Nilli to survive.

To my surprise, he came very close to me, he told me that God will keep him safe and that I should not worry,” Kamcha continued. With these words, Nilli and Ramesh fled into the dark forest with the angry villagers close behind.

The entire episode went on until midnight,” Kamcha said. “It was so scary to think what could happen to my husband in the forest that night. But his faith in Jesus was so strong. As I worried, I remembered his words, that God will keep him safe. These words not only brought me comfort, they infected me and I started to tell myself that there must be something significant about this Jesus.

My husband not only hoped for good things from Jesus, but was willing to face even death,” Kamcha recalled. “With what little I knew, I asked Jesus to make me his and prayed that God would keep my husband safe.”

Full story here 

10/31/19 – Martyrdom cause for All Hallow’s Eve church massacre in Iraq completes first phase

As millions of kids in the United States and other places go trick-or-treating today, Adam won’t be among them. Nine years ago, as he attended Mass, he was murdered on All Hallows Eve. He was three years old. He was killed because no one could quiet him down.

Adam wasn’t having a tantrum. He wanted for his father to take him out of church. But he couldn’t: His father had been killed by several gunshots.

“Kafi, kafi!” Adam kept screaming to the terrorists who entered the Syriac Catholic Church of Our lady of Deliverance Church Oct. 31, 2010, during the evening Sunday Mass. He wanted for it all to stop.

 When his desperate mother couldn’t quiet the child, a terrorist put a bullet between his eyes.

They left her alive: “We want you to suffer too,” they told her and several other women who saw their families get killed during that bloody day.

Adam and his father, Auday Zuheer Marzina Arab, died, while his mother and younger brother, 11 months old at the time of the massacre, survived. In total, 48 people were killed that day.

Full story here 

10/30/19 – American Pastor Arrested and Detained in India

International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that Pastor Bryan Nerren, a Christian pastor from Tennessee, has been arrested and detained in India after being accused of violating the country’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Pastor Nerren and two other pastors from Tennessee arrived in India on October 5 to attend two conferences in India and Nepal. The ACLJ reported that Pastor Nerren was then targeted and arrested by Indian customs agents after he told them he was a Christian.

After the three pastors arrived in New Delhi, Pastor Nerren was detained by customs agents while proceeding through the domestic security check for a flight to Bagdogra. According to the ACLJ, the pastor was carrying funds to cover the expenses for the two conferences as well as the two-week trip for himself and the other pastors. Customs agents questioned Pastor Nerren about the funds and their usage for about an hour. According to reports, Pastor Nerren has been traveling to India and Nepal for the past 17 years to train people to become Sunday school teachers.

Full story here 

10/29/19 – Religious Venue Star Rating System Increasingly Implemented in China

Nowadays in China, not only hotels are rated for their services rendered to their customers, religious venues, including churches and chapels, are subject to ratings as well, except they are rated according to the communist government’s standard.

According to Bitter Winter magazine, some places in Zhengzhou city in Henan province and Hangzhou city in Zhejiang province have already implemented this system for religious venues, which is similar to a broader social credit system, where each individual is judged based on hundreds of behaviors.

Termed “Assessment of the Normalization of Religious Venues,” there are more than 50 items to which these places are judged upon. With the top score being 100, if any place scores under 70, it could face punishment such as removal of those who are in charge, or being shut down.

Dirty restroom? Minus five points. Absence of national flag or flag being too shabby? Minus five points. Using hymns that were not published by state-vetted publishers? Minus ten points. Criticizing the government? Minus ten points. Receive offering from abroad? Minus 15 points. But if you report other house churches, you can get five points.

Full story here 

10/28/19 – Burkina Faso Suffers Another Attack

On Saturday, October 26, unknown gunmen stormed the village of Pobe Mengao in northern Burkina Faso. During the attack, over a dozen people were reportedly killed and many others are still missing. Those who are missing are suspected to have been abducted.

This village is in an area known as Soum. This area has been targeted by Jihadist groups on multiple occasions this year alone. Northern Burkina Faso has become a hotbed of Islamic Extremism activity that has pushed south from Mali across the very porous border. In many of the attacks that have taken place this year, Christians have been singled out and killed. So far, reports have not shown whether those killed and taken during this attack were specifically Christian, but fears will only continue to rise for the Christian populace if these attacks are not stopped.

Full story here 

10/25/19 – ICC Documents 43 Cases of Persecution Against Pakistani Christians in Three Months

On September 27, Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, made lofty claims about protecting religious minorities as he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. Back home, however, as these claims were being made, Pakistan’s Christian community was protesting against the Prime Minister’s government after it announced its intention to nationalize Edward’s College in Peshawar, a century-old Christian education institution.

In the midst of these protests, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities released a report highlighting the widespread discrimination facing non-Muslims in Pakistan’s education institutions. According to that report, 60% of non-Muslim students experienced discrimination and disrespect because of their faith. The report went on to say that 70% of non-Muslim teachers faced discrimination and 72% of parents reported that their children experienced discrimination based on their faith.

While this report and the protests paint a grim picture for religious minorities in Pakistan, the suffering endured by the country’s Christian community continued. Between July and September, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented 43 cases of persecution. These cases included kidnappings, rapes, forced conversions to Islam, discrimination, and several religiously motivated murders.

Full story here 

10/24/19 – The unprecedented scale of anti-Christian persecution in Asia

When an elderly Christian woman in a village in India’s Tamil Nadu state was beaten by extremists, her attackers defended their actions by saying that she had defiled the road by walking on it during a Hindu festival. A dozen Christians who tried to rescue her were also injured when the extremists threw stones at them.

The incident is part of a surge in attacks against Christians in India. The number of reported incidents rose from 440 in 2017 to 477 in 2018, and more than 1,000 attacks on Christians were reported in the 15 months to March 2019.

Investigating the reasons for this outbreak of anti-Christian hatred shines a light not just on the problem in India but also elsewhere in the region, where the complex range of threats has shifted dramatically to pose a unique challenge to the faithful. The result is that South Asia and East Asia have become the new hotspots of persecution of Christians, and the indications are that the situation will only get worse.

That the phenomenon of anti-Christian persecution in Asia is little known in the West compounds the problem. The necessary spotlight on genocidal violence against Christians in the Middle East has run the risk of eclipsing worsening persecution elsewhere.

Full story here 

10/23/19 – Rejected by Family, Harassed by Community, Accepted by Christ

For many in the West, following Christ was an easy decision. One made while young and often with the support of family. For many in other areas of the world, this is not only a difficult decision, but a dangerous one as well. This is especially true in those parts of the world where extreme Islam holds sway, such as eastern Kenya. For those of Somali descent, converting to Christianity is especially risky, because for many Somalis, their religion is a part of their identity.

Sadiq Sharif converted to Christianity in 2013 through the outreach ministry of Rev. Daniel Mutwiri of the East Africa Pentecostal Church, Northeastern Kenya. He belonged to an underground fellowship of Somali Christians in the northeastern county of Mandera, Kenya until 2015 when his family discovered that he had converted. His family immediately viewed him as an apostate and attacked him multiple times.

Through their intelligence, they learned that Sadiq was secretly meeting with other Christians and sometimes attending church services. They were furious that his wife had not notified them when she noticed that he had become a Christian,” Rev. Daniel narrated.

His family held a meeting where it was agreed that stern measures be taken to frustrate Sadiq for putting his trust in Christ. They stormed into his house and beat him before taking his wife and children away,” Daniel continued.

Yet Sadiq never gave up. Daniel explained, “He came to my house at night and assured me that he is not going back to Islam. His conversion brought inner peace and strength and he was ready to suffer for Christ. The family continued to threaten him with death if he did not recant.

Full story here 

10/22/19 – Christians Distributing Bibles in India Harassed by Radical Nationalists

On October 11, a group of 35 Christians distributing Christian literature in India’s Chhattisgarh state were harassed by radical Hindu nationalists and handed over to local police. The Christians were then told that they were no longer allowed to distribute their literature, despite the fact that they had received prior permission from police.

The incident took place in Basuguda village, located in Chhattisgarh. According to Pastor Joseph, a pastor from the Hebron Assembly, the group of 35 Christians were distributing New Testaments and Gospel tracts in the village marketplace when they were confronted by radical Hindu nationalists. The radicals seized the literate and shouted at the Christians with abusive language.

We had taken permission to do the outreach work, but the radicals behaved ruthlessly,” Pastor Joseph told International Christian Concern (ICC).

Later, the Christians were taken to the local police station. There, they were told by police that they would not be allowed to continue to distributed the New Testaments and Gospel tracts.

Full story here 

10/21/19 – Advocate: Turkish forces doing ‘soft’ ethnic cleansing in northeast Syria

Despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly assuring U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that his forces would not persecute religious minorities in northeastern Syria, people on the ground say minorities are being targeted.

Amnesty International reported that the Turkish military and its allied Syrian armed groups have demonstrated a “shameful disregard for civilian life” during the offensive into northeast Syria. A Syrian Christian political leader has joined international condemnation over the attacks and abuses.

Bassam Ishak, who heads the Syriac National Council, told Catholic News Service by phone that Armenians and Syriac Christians in northeastern Syria are being intimidated and forbidden access to their land by pro-Turkey forces in what is now the time of the cotton harvest.

 “They were told, ‘We have orders not to physically touch the Christians, but know that you have no land here anymore,’” said Ishak, a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council in northeastern Syria and a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He said the Syrian armed groups allied with Turkey “are repeating what they did in Afrin,” the Turkish invasion in northwestern Syria using Syrian militants in 2018.

“In Afrin, they took the harvest of the Kurds who lived there and now they are doing it to the Christians. The Christians in Ras al-Ayn own at least one-third of the agricultural land there. These forces are basically carrying out a ‘soft’ ethnic cleansing. The Christians are being frightened by these people, and then they lose their source of income. The Christians then ask why should they stay and live under the Islamists,” said Ishak.

Full story here 

10/18/19 – Attacks Become the “New Normal” for Christians in Jharkhand

There is absolutely no rule of law, whatever the Hindu radicals say, the police execute.” This is the unfortunate reality for many Christians in India’s northeastern state of Jharkhand.

Since Jharkhand’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government ratified the state’s anti-conversion law in 2017, religious minorities, particularly Christians, have experienced heightened threats and attacks at the hands of radical Hindu nationalists. This “new normal” in Jharkhand includes increased physical assaults, Gharwapsi (forced conversion) campaigns, and the mass closure of house churches.

This growing climate of impunity has left Jharkhand’s Christians extremely vulnerable and unsure of their community’s security. Many don’t even know who to turn to for justice.

A police officer threatened me by saying that either you stop the house church worship or I will send you to jail,” Pastor Mantu Prasad, a pastor in Domchanch village, recently told International Christian Concern (ICC). Physically handicapped, Pastor Prasad is the lead pastor of Sower Mission Church. He and his congregation were brutally attacked by a mob of Hindu radicals on September 8, leaving the pastor and several members of Sower Mission Church injured.

According to Pastor Prasad, a mob of 30 Hindu radicals broke into the rental space where nearly 50 Christians were worshiping that Sunday morning. The extremists beat the pastor, his family, and members of the congregation. Pastor Prasad reports that his ear started to bleed after he was severely punched on the side of the head. According to Pastor Prasad, the radicals also kicked his wife and children, leaving them with internal injuries.

Police arrived on the scene 30 minutes after the assault. The officers then took Pastor Prasad and 10 other church members to the station where they were kept until 5:00 in the evening.

Full story here

10/17/19 – Report Shows Religiously Motivated Violence in India Continues to Escalate

According to a recent report by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Christians have endured 218 incidents of religiously motivated violence in 2019 so far. The vast majority of these incidents, 159 of 218, were reportedly perpetrated by “vigilante” mobs.

When compared to historical data, ADF’s report is both concerning and insightful. In 2014, 147 incidents of religiously motivated violence against Christians were documented. This comparison brings up a simple question, what has happened since 2014 that has led to this escalation in religiously motivated violence?

In 2014, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was voted into power. Using religiously divisive rhetoric that has labeled Muslims and Christians as dangerous foreigners, BJP politicians successfully polarized India along religious lines for political gain.

Unfortunately, the use of the rhetoric has had dire consequences for the country’s religious minority communities. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), attacks on Christians have been steadily rising since the rise of the BJP in 2014. In 2017, 351 religiously motivated attacks on Christians were documented. In 2018, the latest data collected by EFI, 325 attacks were documented.

Full Story Here

10/16/19 – Indonesian Christian Woman with Schizophrenia Tried for Blasphemy Law

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Christian woman in Indonesia’s Bogor will be tried for blasphemy law, despite having a serious mental illness. She can face up to five years in prison for an altercation at a mosque that took place last June.

In late June, Suzethe Margaret, 52, wore sandals and brought her dog into the Al Munawaroh Mosque, an act deemed offensive to Muslims because dogs are considered ritually impure. In the video that went viral online documenting the event, she was seen arguing with mosque caretakers. She can be heard saying that she is Christian and demanding to know about her ex-husband who was going to marry another woman in the mosque later that day.

According to Benar News, her family said she suffered from mental illness, a condition confirmed by police following a psychiatric examination at a hospital in Jakarta. The woman’s medical record showed that she suffered from schizophrenia and underwent psychiatric treatment in 2013 but did not complete her therapy, Bogor police spokeswoman Ita Puspita Lena said.

Despite proofs to show her mental condition, she was arrested in June and faced trial last week, which was closed to the public due to her psychosocial disability. If convicted, her charge with committing blasphemy against Islam can put her behind bars for up to five years, endangering her wellbeing.

Full story here 

10/15/19 – Algeria Forces Christians Out of the Country’s Largest Churches

The Algerian government shut down three churches this week, including the two biggest congregations in the North African country. Authorities forced Christians from their buildings and arrested some who continued to protest the crackdown.

Members of the largest Protestant congregation in Algeria—the 700-member Church of the Full Gospel in Tizi-Ouzou—were warned their church would be sealed by the government this Wednesday. When they met for prayer and worship on Tuesday, the gathering was raided by the national guard.

The crowd at the Church of the Full Gospel panicked as they were ordered to leave. Some refused and were forcibly dragged out. When leaders—including pastor Salah Chalah, head the Protestant churches in Algeria (L’Église Protestante d’Algérie), and pastor Tarek Berki—tried to intervene, they were beaten, Morning Star News (MSN) reported.

The second-largest congregation, the 500-member Source of Life Church in Makouda, was shut down the same day, followed by 100-member Light Church (L’eglise Tafat) in Tizi Ouzou.

At least 15 Protestant churches—out of only about 46 in the country—have been shuttered since January 2018, according to the Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern. The country, home to just 125,000 Christians, fewer than 1 percent of the population, ranks 22nd on Open Doors’ World Watch List.

Christian congregations struggle to register with the government agency tasked with regulating non-Muslim worship, per a 2006 law. It never convenes and has not issued a single approval.

Full story here 

10/14/19 – Ministry of Tribal Affairs Perpetuates False Narrative About Christians in India

Article 25 of India’s Constitution protects Indian citizens’ right to religious freedom. According to that article, Indian citizens have the “freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.” However, a recent statement by a BJP government official seems to contradict the rights protected by this article for Indian Christians.

Recently, Renuka Singh, the “in-charge” at the Ministry for Tribal Affairs, claimed that, “The anti-socials, supported by foreign funding, are luring the Hindu tribals in the name of good education and better health services to carry out conversions. All this is sad and offensive.

The “anti-social” elements Singh mentioned in her speech was a clear reference to India’s Christian population. This statement represents only the most recent claim that India’s Christian community is engaged in a nationwide conspiracy to fraudulently convert Hindus to Christianity.

Speaking to Asia News, Sajan K. George, President of the Global Council for Indian Christians, condemned the false statement, saying, “The false propaganda of forced conversions is used on a regular basis by far-right forces. The groups that support Hindutva in Madhya Pradesh fabricate accusations of forced conversions.

Full story here 

10/11/19 – Turkey Hides Genocide Behind Invasion of Syria

nternational Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 9, 2019, Turkey began its Operation Peace Spring incursion into northern Syria. Significant damage and casualties were reported in Christian-dominated areas.

According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, 181 Syrian locations were shelled. A ground offensive began immediately following the artillery strikes. Today, President Erdogan announced that 109 so-called “terrorists” were killed during the beginning stages of the operation. However, initial field reports indicate a severe impact on civilians which included targeted attacks against Christian communities.

Full story here 

10/10/19 – Christian Students and Teachers Kidnapped from School in Nigeria

Gunmen have abducted a pastor and a school principal in two separate incidents in northeastern Nigeria, a police officer said on Thursday.

Police Commissioner Bola Longe, said the cleric identified as Pastor John Elga was abducted by gunmen, on Wednesday from his residence in Lafia town, the capital city of Nasarawa province.

“The way our men are combing the bushes, we will soon rescue Pastor John Elga from his abductors,” the police chief told journalists.

He assured that the police would do everything to halt the activities of kidnappers and other criminal elements.

Also, in northwest Kaduna province, a group of 20 gunmen, stormed a school early Thursday and kidnapped the school principal Maji, a local resident told Anadolu Agency.

“About 20 gunmen stormed Government Technical Secondary School at Maraban Kajuru in Kaduna province and kidnapped the principal,” Aliyu Bawa, a Kaduna resident said.

The police said they are still collating information about the incident. The kidnaping incidents have occurred just a week after, six female students were abducted in a school in the same area.

The latest wave of kidnaping in West African nation, struggling to end a decade of terrorism attacks by Boko Haram have as a shock for the government and public.

In 2014, the armed group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in the Borno state. About 100 of those schoolgirls remain missing.

Full story here 

10/9/19 – Muslim Family Kills Son Over Christian Conversion

A Muslim-background believer (MBB) living in Egypt, Hussein Mohammed, was killed on Sunday after his family discovered that he had converted from Islam to Christianity.

The MBB, who preferred to be called by his baptismal name George, had posted several photos to his Facebook account. His family had known of his conversion prior to these posts, and his uncle had made complaints to the Directorate of Security. However, these Facebook posts were a public acknowledgement of his conversion. It included a photo of a cross tattoo which George had obtained on his wrist, a practice pursued by Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians.

Full story here 

10/8/19 – Militias’ ongoing harassment of Christians in Iraq, Syria focus of hearing

Yesterday, the United States made an official announcement that American armed forces will no longer be present in the immediate area of Northern Syria. The U.S. also announced that they have relinquished responsibility for captured ISIS fighters in this area. Instead, the responsibility was given to Turkey, who is planning an imminent military operation into Northern Syria.

This decision has led to massive upheaval in Northern Syria. For two years, Turkey has been threatening a full-scale military operation into this area. The city of Afrin was taken in March 2018, leading to reports of ethnic and religious cleansing. Many Christians had resided in Afrin prior to that invasion, but completely abandoned the city afterwards. The military and diplomatic presence of the United States helped prevent that operation from expanding. There is significant concern that with the U.S.’s withdrawal, Turkey’s imminent military operation will again include ethnic and religious cleansing.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have responded to the U.S. decision by threatening to release ISIS militants in their custody. These forces have been responsible for the largest detainment camps of ISIS militants and their families. They have long warned about their inability to care for the ISIS militants long-term. The SDF say that because of the U.S. withdrawal, they now have to direct their own attention to defending themselves against Turkey.

Full story here 

10/7/19 – Militias’ ongoing harassment of Christians in Iraq, Syria focus of hearing

The genocide conducted by the Islamic State against Christian communities in Iraq and Syria has turned into continued harassment by Iran-backed militias and shows no signs of abating soon.

This was part of the bleak picture explained Sept. 26 at a hearing conducted by the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

There were outlines of atrocities, but few designated solutions, despite the millions invested in Iraq by the U.S. government.

“Recent years have been especially unkind to Iraqi religious minorities,” said Tony Perkins, chairman of the commission. “The rise of ISIS in 2014 compounded these challenges.”

The Islamic State, or IS, as it is more commonly known now, was driven out of its last caliphate stronghold in Syria in April. But outliers have been conducting guerrilla attacks, and this is compounded by the militias, called Popular Mobilization Forces, surrounding the Christian villages and turning homes into empty hulls without plumbing or electricity.

The Christian minority population in the region before the war was in the millions. Now, there are only an estimated 200,000 remaining. As many as 150,000 remain in refugee camps.

No Iraqi Christian leaders spoke or were represented at the hearing.

Full story here 

10/4/19 – China Intensified Crackdown Against “Disobedient Catholics” Amid Hong Kong Protests

As anti-extradition law protests continue to escalate in Hong Kong, the Chinese government is targeting underground Catholics in China who refuse to join official churches and could potentially form alliance with Hong Kong Catholics.

Bitter Winter reports that some priests have been targeted for arrests, and closures of Catholic places of worship have become more frequent than ever.

According to a Catholic in the Diocese of Yujiang in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, a priest who refuses to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) received news in early September that the government was planning to arrest him in order to “prevent the underground Catholic Church in mainland China from uniting with the Catholic Church in Hong Kong.”

The priest went into hiding and does not dare to use his cell phone or return to his home. Foreseeing the persecution, he once told his parishioners that “You must be prepared. If I’m placed under house arrest one day, you must persevere in your faith, recite the Rosary, and pray.”

To prevent any potential alliance-building, the Chinese regime is also prohibiting these “unruly” clergy from visiting Hong Kong.

A clergyman from the Diocese of Yujiang told Bitter Winter that he had been invited by Hong Kong Emeritus Cardinal Joseph Zen to visit Hong Kong in August to participate in church activities. Yet due to the ongoing protests and intensified control by the authorities, he was unable to go.

Full story here 

10/3/19 – Christians in Pakistan ‘give children Islamic names to avoid abuse in school’

Religious bigotry in Pakistan schools is forcing Christian parents to give their children Islamic names – according to a bishop there.

Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that Christian children and other faith minorities were using different names to prevent them from being subjected to abuse.

He said: “Many minorities give their children Islamic names so they will not be singled out as Christians and become potential targets for discrimination in primary or secondary schools or at the college level.

“In many cases, minority students do suffer abuse in public schools.”

Bishop Shukardin spoke out against textbooks in state-run schools, saying: “The minorities are considered infidels and they are depicted negatively in textbooks, which promote prejudices against minorities.

“The fundamentalists believe that Islam is the only complete religion – that salvation is only found in the Qur’an as the last holy book.”

Bishop Shukardin said the febrile atmosphere whipped up by extremists has put pressure on minorities – including Christians.

The bishop said: “Most of the minorities, and in particular Christians, are afraid of attacks and persecution.”

He described how Christians in Pakistan suffer as a result of extremists falsely associating them with the West.

Bishop Shukardin said: “If the West strikes against Muslims anywhere in the world, enraged fundamentalists in Pakistan often attack the churches.”

But it is not just Christians who are attacked by extremists, he explained – moderate Muslims and other religious minorities are at risk too.

Full story here

10/2/19 – The Prophetic Voice of Hong Kong’s Protesters

The people of Hong Kong have protested for greater freedoms for years, but the latest demonstrations represent a historic outcry.

Since 1997, July 1 has marked the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return as a territory of China after 150 years of British colonial rule. Beginning in 2003, it is also the date of annual protests by Hong Kong residents calling for increased democracy.

These demonstrations have been generally peaceful—until this summer, when a group of protesters stormed the Legislative Council parliament building. They were angry at what they saw as China’s most recent, and most egregious, effort to weaken the freedoms of Hong Kongers.

In April, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, had introduced a bill that would allow Hong Kong to detain and transfer people wanted in countries and territories with which Hong Kong has no formal extradition agreement, including mainland China and Taiwan. The bill, she argued, was necessary to send a Hong Kong man wanted for murder to trial in Taiwan. It specifically included exemptions for political crimes, religious crimes, and certain white-collar crimes.

The Hong Kong public, though, saw the bill as a thinly veiled ploy to give China additional power over the semi-autonomous territory. The bill has kicked off nearly four months of protests that have, at times, had as many as 1.7 million participants—a remarkable number for a city of 7.4 million people.

Even as the extradition bill was suspended by Lam, and then withdrawn altogether, the protests against Chinese overreach have continued, with turnout spiking leading up to another anniversary: National Day. October 1 marks the 70th annual commemoration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Aside from the bill itself, four of the protesters’ five main demands remain: Lam’s resignation, an inquiry into police brutality, the release of those arrested, and greater democratic freedoms.

Many Hong Kong Christians, while comprising less than 12 percent of the population, have played a prominent role in the protests—marching, singing hymns, holding prayer circles, and providing food and shelter to other demonstrators. (The Jesus People song “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” became an unexpected anthem of the protests, as participants sang the tune to calm confrontations with police.)

Full story here 

10/1/19 – Pakistani court overturns blasphemy conviction of Muslim man

Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted a man Wednesday who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2002, saying there was a lack of evidence against him.

Wajih-ul-Hassan was exonerated Sept. 25, with the court deciding that prosecutors hadn’t proven that letters which were the basis of the accusation had in fact been written by him.

Pakistan’s state religion is Islam, and around 97 percent of the population is Muslim. The country’s blasphemy laws impose strict punishment on those who desecrate the Quran or who defame or insult Muhammad. Although the government has never executed a person under the blasphemy laws, accusations alone have inspired mob and vigilante violence.

The allegations against Hassan arose from letters he allegedly wrote to a lawyer, according to Dawn, a Karachi-based daily.

The lawyer, Ismail Qureshi, had sought amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code, saying that blasphemy should be punished only by capital punishment; the PPC also allows life imprisonment as a sentence for the crime.

Hassan allegedly wrote letters to Qureshi in 1998 which the lawyer deemed blasphemous; Qureshi went to the police and filed a petition against Hassan the following year.

Mohammad Amjad Rafiq, additional prosecutor general of Punjab, told Dawn that in 2001 Hassan confessed before a manager at his place of work; the manager then took Hassan to a police station, where he was arrested.

The next week, a handwriting expert said that Hassan’s writing matched the blasphemous letters.

Hassan was convicted and sentenced, a decision which was subsequently upheld by the Lahore High Court.

Full story here 

9/30/19 – Two Nigerian Evangelicals Executed in Boko Haram Video

Islamic extremist group Boko Haram released a video last week showing the execution of two Christian aid workers in Nigeria, sources said.

Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham, both members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Plateau state, are shown kneeling while three masked, armed men stand behind them in a video posted September 22 on Boko Haram’s Amaq news agency site. The two young men, who had gone to Maiduguri to help build shelters for people displaced by Islamic extremist violence, are then shot from behind.

Speaking in the Hausa language, the middle one of the three terrorists says in the video that they have vowed to kill every Christian they capture in revenge for Muslims killed in past religious conflicts in Nigeria.

Dacighir and Shikagham, originally from Plateau state’s Mangu County, were captured by Boko Haram, now called the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), as they carried out their work in displaced persons camps.

Full story here 

9/27/19 – Christian girls are being kidnapped and forced to convert, Pakistan Archbishop warns

A surge in under-age Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan being kidnapped, raped and forced to marry and convert to Islam has been condemned by one of the country’s leading bishops.

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore confirmed reports of abductions involving girls as young as 14, acts he condemned as “a crime”.

His comments come amid research in Pakistan’s Punjab Province stating that up to 700 girls had been abducted in one year.

He said: “Yes, [abductions of under-age girls] are happening” and he added that “there have been many kidnappings recently”.

Archbishop Shaw added: “Kidnapping is a crime. It has to be treated as one. This is the only way to stop it. The girls are usually 14, 15. The men often already have one wife. They can be 25 or older. They can be younger, more like 20.”

He believed there was a religious aspect to the kidnappings, particularly as the girls are Hindu or Christian. Yet, the archbishop did not believe it was the only explanation.

“It is lust. They think ‘she is pretty and I want her’. It is a crime. But it has a possible religious component too.”

The archbishop said that in response to the increase in abductions, Christian leaders took the problem to the police “but they were not listening” so they went straight to the government.

Full story here 

9/26/19 – Christian Woman Attacked Outside Egyptian Church

An Egyptian Christian woman, Marina Sami Rageb, was attacked with bricks as she was leaving church, according to local news. The 21-year-old medical student in Alexandria is currently suffering from a skull fracture and hemorrhage. No other details about her attacker or her condition is known.

This type of incident, unfortunately, is common place in Egypt. Christian women are not religiously compelled to cover their hair, but are constantly pressured to do so by their Muslim peers. Uncovered women are frequently targeted for harassment, and even attacks. This underlying threat greatly impacts their ability to walk freely in Egypt and to choose their clothing preference.

Says one woman, “In Egypt, there are a lot of security threats in the streets. But I always avoid walking in the radical Muslim districts or areas, just preferring the main streets.”

“I always wear long clothes,” explained another Christian woman. “In the streets, I always avoided dealing with the extremists or the radical Muslims. In my workplace, I deal with many Muslim women who wear hijab… just wear loose clothing, and everything will be okay.”

Full story here 

9/25/19 – Iran Removes Tax Exemption from Non-Islamic Institutions

The Tehran City Council will no longer consider churches and synagogues as eligible for tax exemption, according to new media reports. Before this decision, these non-Islamic institutions were eligible for tax exemption so long as they were purely religious in nature. The city’s decision has been heavily criticized by Assyrian parliamentarians on the basis that it preserves these buildings as a cultural heritage of Iran.

Iran’s constitution recognizes the freedom of religious practice only for those who can prove that their families belonged to certain non-Muslim faiths prior to the 1979 revolution. These means that, technically, Assyrian and Armenian Christians should have some (albeit limited) freedom of religious expression. The reality, however, is that Iran does not follow its own laws. All Christian groups, as well as other religious minorities, face heavy persecution from the authorities.

The economy in Iran is greatly suffering, and the regime has taken a number of desperate measures intended to maintain their own wealth. Removing the tax exempt status is both a new way to persecute recognized Christian groups, and an attempt to further shore up the economic suffering of the regime.

Full story here 

9/24/19 – Eight Imprisoned on False Charges in Lakhimpur Khere

In a massive crackdown on house churches by Hindu radical groups in Lakhimpur Khere district, locals have witnessed a dangerous trend against Christian minorities. At least eight people were imprisoned on false charges of forcible conversions and several house Churches were shut down. The Lakhimpur Khere district is in the northern part of the Indian state, Uttar Pradesh.

On September 15, Pastors Ram Kumar and Gokran were taken to jail during a worship service as a result of an incident occurring in Anushkabad village in Lakhimpur Khere district. Pastor Ram Kumar recounted the incident to ICC. “We were around 50 people worshiping in little hut, all of a sudden a mob of 20 Hindu radicals stormed into the hut while shouting at us using filthy and abusive language dragged me and Pastor Gokran out of the hut and started to beat us, and later the police arrived and took both of us to the police station and then sent us to the jail.

Both pastors were falsely charged under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Uttar Pradesh does not currently have anti-conversion laws on their books. Instead, persecutors use section 295A to charge many Christians with blasphemy. Five days later on September 20, Ram Kumar and Gokran were released on bail.

Full story here 

9/23/19 – Nigerians seek security after killing of priests

On Aug. 4, about 1,000 Catholics attended a Mass offered by Bishop Callistus Onaga of the Diocese of Enugu at the Holy Ghost Cathedral following the killing of Fr. Paul Offu.

Offu was killed by gunmen, suspected to be semi-nomadic herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic group, on Aug. 1 when he was returning to his parish, St. James the Greater Parish in Enugu state, South East Nigeria.

The killing of Offu triggered a massive protest by priests in the diocese who marched through the streets in the city.

“Nobody is safe now; we are no longer safe,” Onaga said during the Mass. “We should always pray for peace of our people and land because we are not the only ones affected. We seem to be living in a state of anarchy, total breakdown of law and order. In recent times, an alarming number of our people, including priests and government officials, have been killed by these murderers. The rate of kidnappings have continued to increase, both in the villages and in cities.”

Full story here 

9/22/19 – Priest says he ‘almost died’ after being arrested for ‘forced conversion’ in India

Father Binoy John says he “almost died in jail” after being arrested in India over allegations of “forced conversion.”

The priest was released on bail after a week-long detention in India’s eastern Jharkhand state on Sept. 16, after the intervention of local politicians.

The Kerala native told his story to Malayala Manorama, a daily newspaper.

“I almost died in jail,” he said. “They gave me a shot for fever as I requested medical care and medicine for severe chest pain.”

John, who has a pacemaker, said the police refused to take him to a nearby hospital for a check-up.

“They wanted to kill me slowly by denying medical care. The jailer’s intervention saved me,” he said.

“When I told the magistrate that I was on a pacemaker, he remanded me in custody, saying the jail had medical facilities. On the seventh day in jail, I experienced chest pain. I collapsed as soon as the compounder gave a shot on my thigh. Even when my condition worsened on Sunday, they did not take me to the hospital,” Binoy said.

After his release, John was admitted to a hospital in Lalmati, Jharkhand, but hopes to be able to return to Kerala for further treatment.

John works at Rajdaha mission in the Diocese of Bhagalpur in Bihar state. He was arrested in Agiamur, in the neighboring Jharkhand state, but within the boundaries of the diocese.

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. Jharkhand passed an anti-conversion Bill in 2017, and those found guilty of “forced conversion” face up to three years in jail and a large fine.

Jharkhand is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is affiliated with a Hindu nationalist group and also holds power at the national level.

Christians make up about 4.3 percent of the population of Jharkhand, nearly twice the national average. Most of the Christians belong to the marginalized Tribal community, which are India’s aboriginal people who mostly live outside the caste system.

John also faced charges for “land grabbing” related to land purchased nearly a decade ago by the Diocese of Bhagalpur.

Full story here 

9/19/19 – Eritrean bishops say seizure of Catholic schools is ‘hatred against the faith’

Seven religious schools in Eritrea, four of them sponsored by the Catholic Church, have been seized by the country’s government this month. Catholic bishops in the country say the move was motivated by “hatred against the faith.”

“If this is not hatred against the faith and against religion what else can it be?” Eritrea’s bishops asked in a Sept. 4 letter addressed to the Minister of Public Education, Semere Re’esom.

The seven schools seized by the government include three run Protestant and Muslim groups, according to Comboni Catholic missionaries serving in the area. The schools have been nationalized, and will reportedly now be run by the country’s education ministry.

The Eritrean government has also seized Church-run health facilities.

“The actions that are being taken against our educational and health institutions are contrary to the rights and to the legitimate freedom of the Church,” the bishops wrote in their Sept. 4 letter.

The bishops also suggested that the government raise to them any objections to the way in which Catholic schools and hospitals are administered in Eritrea.

“If there are situations that need to be corrected or adjusted, not only is it good, but even the only viable way, in order for this to take place in a context of an open and constructive dialogue,” the bishops wrote.

Eritrea is a one-party state whose human rights record has frequently been deplored.

It is believed the seizures are retaliatory, after the Church in April called for reforms to reduce emigration.

Full story here 

9/18/18 – Violence, displacement on the rise in Sahel region of Africa

Catholic Relief Services is warning of increasing violence and displacement in the Sahel— the vast area of western and north-central Africa stretching from Senegal to Sudan.

In 2018, more than 320,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were forced to leave their homes, CRS reports. Burkina Faso, in particular, saw a four-fold increase in displaced persons since the start of this year.

“The increase of violent attacks has been devastating to so many families,” Jennifer Overton, CRS’ regional director for West Africa, said Sept. 12.

“People are struggling not only to keep their families safe and together, but also to meet basic needs like food and shelter.”

Ethnic tensions in the region, as well as threats from extremist groups including al-Qaeda affiliates, have boiled over in recent months.

Attacks by jihadist groups have increased since 2015, and AFP reported that almost 400 people have been killed in the past four years. The groups include Ansarul Islam, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

Full story here

9/17/18 – Pastor in Nepal Receives Death Threats After Testimony Video Goes Viral

According to Morning Star News, a pastor in Nepal has received numerous death threats after a video of him sharing his Christian testimony and his experience was a former Hindu went viral. The wide abuse against the pastor and his family is a telltale sign of rising religious intolerance against Christians in Nepal.

In March 2019, Pastor Sukdev Giri, Pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church in Nepal’s Chitwan District, shared about his journey of becoming a Christian at the International Christian Media Workers Summit in Kathmandu. As a part of his testimony, Pastor Giri described how the acts of Hindu gods such as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva led him to question his Hindu faith. This questioning, and Pastor Giri’s discovery of the testimony of Jesus Christ, eventually led him to accept Christianity as his faith of choice.

Full story here 

9/16/18 – Ten Commandments in China’s Henan Replaced with Xi’s Quotations

The Chinese government now doesn’t want Christians to know the Ten Commandments, instead, they want them to familiarize themselves with President Xi Jinping’s quotations.

According to Bitter Winter magazine, a state-run Three-Self church in a county of Luoyang city in the central province of Henan has replaced the Ten Commandments with President Xi Jinping’s quotes after repeated demands.

According to a believer who asked to remain anonymous, against the will of believers, the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in the county and replaced with quotations from Xi Jinping, such as excerpts from his speech at a Central United Front Work Department working meeting in 2015: “The core socialist values and Chinese culture will help to immerse various religions of China. Support religious community in interpreting religious thought, doctrines, and teachings in a way that conforms with the needs of the progress of the times. Resolutely guard against the infiltration of Western ideology, and consciously resist the influence of extremist thought.”

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

 “The current dispensation in Jharkhand is very hostile to Christian missionaries, and our services are selectively targeted and harassed,” said Father Alphonse Francis, the former Vicar General of the Diocese of Bhagalpur.

He told Crux the current allegations are “baseless and fabricated.”

Full story here

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.

Fatemeh Bakhteri, a young woman, and Saheb Fadaie, a house-church worker, have been sentenced to 12 and 18 months in state prison. These charges were based on “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

They were given the opportunity to recount their “hostile faith” and embrace Islam but declined and the cases against them were closed.

Being an Islamic Republic, founded upon the tenants of Islamic faith and clerical governance, Iran’s perception of religious deviants is akin to how any other states may perceive a foreign agent conducting espionage. House churches are equated to a continuing attack on Islam within the nation, and thereby the nation of Iran itself. Iranians are born as Muslims and their conversion is not recognized unless they can prove their family were Christian prior to the 1979 Revolution.

Full story here 

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.

Full Story here

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

 “Sometimes I was so disappointed and losing courage … I used to wonder whether I would get out of jail or not, what would happen next, whether I would remain here all my life,” Bibi said.

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

The shouted at us and were issuing threats that they will demolish Christian buildings,” Livingston Sekar, a son of one of the summoned church leaders, told Morning Star News. “They were screaming aggressively and my father cautioned that we should not have a fight there.

According to local Christians, members of the Hindu Makkal Katchi Party, a local nationalist group, were responsible for instigating the mob and the false accusations against the Christian leaders. The leaders of this group previously warned the Christians that they were not allowed to hold worship in Chennai.

Pray only with your family, your own brother and sister inside four wall of your house–if any outsider joins you, we will attack you and demolish your buildings,” they threatened, according to Livingston.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

 “Two of them pointed the guns at Father Ragheed’s car, and the other two pointed their guns at our car. They shouted at Father Ragheed to get out of the car. Father Ragheed asked them who they were, they replied that they were Ansar Al-suna. I heard them clearly.”

“‘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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

 The center said it was the first killing of a Roman Catholic priest in Mexico this year.

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.

Full Story here 

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.”

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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.”

Full story here 

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.

Full story here

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here 

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?

Full story here

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.

Full Story Here

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here

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.

Full story here

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.

Full story here

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.

Full story here 

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.

Full story here

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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