Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Mon, 06 Jul 2015 17:17:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Catholic Educator Flees Pakistan amid ‘Hate Campaign’ by Islamic Extremists http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/catholic-educator-flees-pakistan-amid-hate-campaign-by-islamic-extremists/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/catholic-educator-flees-pakistan-amid-hate-campaign-by-islamic-extremists/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:39:07 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4579 Bernadette L. Dean. (vmie.org.pk)

Bernadette L. Dean. (vmie.org.pk)

LAHORE, Pakistan, July 6, 2015 (Morning Star News) – In two cases raising the specter of religious profiling, Islamic extremist threats have forced a leading Catholic educator to flee Pakistan, and a judge has upheld the controversial expulsion of three Filipino nuns.

Bernadette L. Dean, an educator on Sindh Province’s committee for curriculum and textbook reform, said she faced a hate campaign by the Islamic extremist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its militant, Al-Qaeda-linked student wing, the Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT), earlier this year. They accused her of being secular and against Islam.

Director of the VM Institute for Education and former principal of St. Joseph’s College for Women and of Kinnaird College in Karachi, Dean on May 12 sent an email to friends and colleagues saying she feared for her life and, on the advice of family, colleagues and police, was leaving Pakistan.

Dean wrote that a “political party” had unleashed a hate campaign against her for writing textbooks as a member of the advisory committee.

“This campaign started a few months ago with threatening phone calls to members of the advisory committee on curriculum and textbook reform and Sindh Textbook Board, visits of religious leaders from the Punjab and Sindh to the STBB to complain about me and the work I am doing with respect to textbook writing, a vicious letter accusing me of being a ‘foreigner woman who has single-handedly made changes to the curriculum and textbooks that made them secular’ and called me an enemy of Islam,” she wrote.

Of Anglo-Indian descent, Dean is a Pakistani national who was born and raised in Pakistan and is recognized as making many contributions in education to the country.

She attached to the email a letter to the Karachi police chief from a civil society organization asking for the removal of banners against her, which the political party had put up. She also referred to the All-Parties Conference at the Karachi Press Club in March, where she was blamed for carrying out amendments to the curricula. She raised concern with authorities, but in vain, she wrote.

On March 28, the IJT organized an All-Parties Conference on curriculum change at the press club, where JI Sindh chief Merajul Huda Siddiqui declared as “intolerable” the Sindh advisory committee’s efforts to remove mandatory religious lessons from general knowledge, Sindhi, Urdu and Pakistan Studies textbooks.

Singling out the only non-Muslim member of the committee, the JI and IJT leaders reportedly attacked Dean’s character. Inflammatory banners deriding her subsequently appeared throughout Karachi.

In her email, Dean noted that she only co-authored the reformed books in conjunction with Muslim authors, and that all the books were reviewed multiple times before being approved.

“The New National Curriculum 2006 approved by the federal government included Islamiat [Islamic studies] as part of general knowledge in class 1-2, and from grade 3 Islamiat was made a separate subject,” she said. “The decision was taken at that time that Islamiat-related content would be removed from the other subjects, as Islamiat is a compulsory subject for grade 3 onwards.”

Dean said the 2006 curriculum was reviewed by Sindh government committee following the decentralizing of educational authority to the provinces. With some minor changes, it was approved in 2011, and textbook-writing based on it began in 2012, she added.

“The general knowledge books 1-3 and social studies books 4-5 are co-authored by me,” she said. “All the co-authors are Muslim, and they were responsible for writing the Islamiat sections. Moreover, all the books go through an internal review and a provincial review.”

Textbooks for class 1 were written, reviewed, published and distributed to schools in 2013, books 2-4 in 2014 and books for class 5 in 2015, she stated.

Dean has served as principal of St. Joseph’s College for Women, Karachi, principal of Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, and as professor at Aga Khan University. She holds a doctorate in education from the University of Alberta, Canada. Dean has fled to the United States, where she has a grown daughter.

Riaz Ahmed Shaikh, who worked with Dean on the curriculum reform committee, said that the Islamists targeting her misunderstood the proposed syllabus changes. Shaikh said whenever any attempt is made to bring education under regulation, there is always an outcry from such Islamic extremist groups.

“People like Dr. Dean are not posing any threat to our religious beliefs and ideology,” Shaikh said. “Rather, they are helping us make our young generation more enlightened and tolerant.”

Expulsion Upheld

In a controversial case that appears to be rooted in other factors that may obscure anti-Christian sentiment, the High Court of Islamabad on Tuesday (June 30) upheld Pakistan’s expulsion of three Filipino nuns. Catholic authorities said the cancellation of their visas owed to a senior government minister settling a personal score against them.

The nuns’ visas were suddenly cancelled last month after they were accused of violating terms of their missionary status by being employed at a convent school, though they had been thus employed since 1992. The Interior Ministry also accused them of covering up an alleged child abuse case, though the school handed the suspect over to police after an internal inquiry. The nuns were also accused of discriminating against Muslims.

The Interior Ministry summed up the allegations as “misuse of authority, discrimination against Muslims in convent schools and commercialization and violation of their visa terms.”

Miraflor Aclan Bahan, principal of the Islamabad Convent School, Sector F-8, Delia Coyoca Rubio, principal of Islamabad Convent H-8, and Elizabeth Umail Siguenza, finance officer at H-8 Convent School, were informed on June 16 that their visas were being cancelled and that they had until June 30 to leave the country.

“As the current position of the following Philippines missionary workers involve employment and constitutes change in category of visa, hence it had been decided to cancel their visa,” stated the expulsion notice. “It is requested that their visas may please be cancelled and foreigners may be directed to leave the country within 15 days.”

The directives of the federal government were passed to the Director General of Immigration and Passports by a section officer of the Interior Ministry. The same office had extended the visas for all three missionaries for a period of two years in May.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rawalpindi and Islamabad challenged the expulsion orders of the three nuns in the Islamabad High Court on grounds that the government had never before raised any objection to their visa status even though they had been serving in Pakistani schools since 1992. The diocese’s legal counsel also said the government action was arbitrary and made without a hearing on the alleged violation.

Rana Abid Nazir, legal adviser to the Convent Schools, said that their petition accused Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of nurturing a personal vendetta against the Islamabad Convent School. He stated that Khan’s wife used to work as a teacher at the school but resigned in 2011 after a dispute with the principal.

More than 4,000 students of Islamabad Convent School, Pakistani nationals, are paying the price “because of a personal liking or disliking,” the Convent legal adviser’s court filing stated.

The Interior Ministry, however, wrote to Roman Catholic Bishop Rufin Anthony on June 26 that “accusations of discrimination” and alleged concealment regarding an accusation of abuse of a 6-year-old boy at a Convent school were under consideration by the Ministry of Interior before it cancelled the visas of the missionary workers, Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday (July 1).

“If you had any reservation over the cancellation of visa of your employees, you should have applied to the federal government for revision of the decision,” an Interior Ministry official wrote to the bishop. “To the contrary, despite being a responsible organization, you chose to scandalize the case through the media … This amounts to giving political twist to a purely legal matter.”

The letter added that there have been serious accusations of discrimination against Muslims and of flouting government regulations. Some parents of students at the Islamabad Convent, however, said they perceived no discrimination by nuns, according Dawn. Rukhsana Amin, whose two daughters and a son are studying in the schools, told the newspaper her children never felt any discrimination against Muslims in the school, and that they were being taught Islamic Studies. Mohammad Zafarullah, the father of another Convent student, told Dawn that the school never signaled anything against Islam or Muslims even though it was run by Christian missionary workers.

Regarding the alleged child abuse, the Interior Ministry in a letter accused the Convent administration of concealment and questioned whether the nuns were “equipped and suited for the job which has been entrusted to them,” according to a letter obtained by Dawn.

Citing a First Information Report registered against a worker of the Islamabad Convent School on June 9 alleging sexual abuse of a 6-year-old boy, an Interior Ministry official stated in the letter that the child’s parents believe the school administration prevented the complainant from “taking medico-legal action against the main culprit.”

The parents accused the administration of blocking “a fair and transparent enquiry into the matter and destroyed the primary/secondary evidence pertinent for proving the accused as guilty,” according to the letter.

An Interior Ministry spokesman reportedly said that when the alleged rape issue emerged, many parents accused the nuns of “misuse of authority, discrimination against Muslims in the school and commercialization and violation of their visa terms.”

According to the spokesperson, it was in light of these initial findings that the Ministry of Interior withdrew the last extension granted in the visas of the nuns. An investigation of all complaints will be carried out, and the school administration and its board will be held accountable for any violations, he added.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

 

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/catholic-educator-flees-pakistan-amid-hate-campaign-by-islamic-extremists/feed/ 0
Islamic Cleric in Pakistan Arrested in Mob Attack on Christians Accused of Blasphemy http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/islamic-cleric-in-pakistan-arrested-in-mob-attack-on-christians-accused-of-blasphemy/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/islamic-cleric-in-pakistan-arrested-in-mob-attack-on-christians-accused-of-blasphemy/#respond Sun, 05 Jul 2015 18:31:01 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4570 Rukhsana and Awais Qamar. (The Voice Society)

Rukhsana and Awais Qamar. (The Voice Society)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – In a rare move by Pakistani police, an Islamist cleric was taken into custody on Friday (July 3) for inciting a Muslim mob to try to kill a Christian couple for alleged desecration of the Koran, a police official said.

Area residents and rights activists told Morning Star News that hundreds of Muslims in Makki village, near Farooqabad in Sheikhupura District, on Tuesday (June 30) attacked Owais Qamar, 35, and his wife Rukhsana after a neighbor complained that they were sleeping on a salvaged advertising sign inscribed with a koranic verse.

The frenzied mob beat Qamar, a father of four, shaved his head and dragged him through village streets. Rukhsana and two other women of the family were also tortured and their faces blackened with dirt before police rescued them. Such police intervention is relatively unusual in Pakistan, where mobs furious over alleged blasphemy are often left to wreak havoc.

The area sources said Islamic leaders made announcements from the local village mosque that Qamar had desecrated the Koran by using as an in-home mat an advertising sign that contained emblems of various colleges and a short koranic verse related to education. They said that as soon as Qamar, his wife, their daughter Farzana and Qamar’s sister-in-law were brought to the village center, the mob pounced on them, blackened their faces and shaved Qamar’s head.

“Qamar was thrashed by men while his female family members were beaten up by the Muslim women,” said a Christian villager. “The mob later put a garland made up of shoes around Qamar’s neck and dragged him in the village streets.”

The neighbor added that they immediately called police, fearing the violence could get worse and put the lives of the family in jeopardy.

Sheikhupura Senior Superintendent of Police Sohail Zafar Chattha played a pivotal role in rescuing the impoverished Christian family from the mob, which the police chief said was bent on killing them without first learning the facts of the case. Chattha told Morning Star News that he had ordered officers to save the couple even if it meant opening fire at the Muslim mob.

“The clerics leading the mob demanded that police arrest the couple and charge them with blasphemy,” he said. “I told them that I would not register a case because no blasphemy has been committed.”

Instead, he ordered registration of a case against the clerics and 400 others for inciting violence and endangering the lives of the Christian couple, he said.

“The mob wanted to kill them right there, all because they are poor, illiterate people who didn’t realize that a line from the Koran was written” on the sign, he said.

He said that one of the clerics who led the mob and fled the village after the police action was arrested on Friday (July 3). The cleric’s name has not been released.

“We are looking for a barber who ignited the whole issue,” he added.

The police chief said that the couple had been handed over to Christian elders, and that he had advised them not to return to the village as it could endanger their lives.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. The charge is hard to fight because the law does not define clearly what is considered blasphemous. Even presenting the evidence in court can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement.

Last year, a British man with a history of mental health illness was sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. The same year, a court upheld a death sentence for blasphemy for a Christian woman, Aasiya Noreen (commonly known as Asia Bibi), in a case that drew global headlines after the assassination of two prominent politicians who took up her cause.

Minorities in Pakistan complain that the state fails to protect them from violence. Last year, a policeman hacked a man to death for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the companions of the Muhammad, the prophet if Islam. Days earlier, a mob beat a Christian couple to death and burned their bodies in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/islamic-cleric-in-pakistan-arrested-in-mob-attack-on-christians-accused-of-blasphemy/feed/ 0
Judge in Sudan Rules Two Pastors Can Be Charged with Crimes Punishable by Death http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/judge-in-sudan-says-south-sudanese-pastors-can-be-charged-with-crimes-punishable-by-death/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/judge-in-sudan-says-south-sudanese-pastors-can-be-charged-with-crimes-punishable-by-death/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:18:54 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4554 The Rev. Yat Michael. (Institute on Religion & Democracy)

The Rev. Yat Michael. (Institute on Religion & Democracy)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A judge in Sudan ruled yesterday that there was enough evidence to charge two South Sudanese pastors with crimes punishable by death.

The charges, including espionage and promoting hatred among or against sects, were formed months after authorities arrested the Rev. Yat Michael in December 2014 and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith in January in response to their efforts to encourage a North Khartoum church in the face of a government-aided take-over of the church’s property.

On Wednesday (July 1), authorities arrested the pastors’ attorney as he tried to defend the government’s demolition of a part of the church property. Even before his arrest, the court had previously barred him from meeting with his clients.

Given the Islamist bias in Sudan’s court system, yesterday’s ruling appalled but did not surprise observers who have watched as officials from Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) have presented the same “evidence” taken from the pastor’s computers – maps and other easily accessible documents – at each hearing over the past two months. The American Center for Liberty and Justice (ACLJ) reported that NISS also presented as evidence a study guide on NISS allegedly found on one of laptops that NISS agents confiscated, and that the pastors told the judge they do not know how the guide got onto the computer.

“Besides these documents, the only evidence brought by the prosecution against the Christian pastors was a sermon Pastor Michael gave, a sermon that was supported by Christian doctrine shared by their common denomination,” Tiffany Barrans, international legal director at the ACLJ, said in a statement.

The charge of spying (Article 53 of the Sudanese Penal Code) is punishable by death, life imprisonment or prison and confiscation of property. The charge of promoting hatred among or against sects (Article 64) is punishable by up to two years in prison. The pastors are also charged with undermining the constitutional system (Article 50), punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment and confiscation of property; disclosure and obtaining information and official documents (Article 55), punishable by two years in prison or a fine; blasphemy/insulting religious creeds (Article 125), punishable by one year of imprisonment or a fine or no more than 40 lashes; disturbance of the public peace (Article 69), punishable by six months of prison, or a fine or no more than 20 lashes; and joint acts in execution of a criminal conspiracy (Article 21).

The judge told the defense attorney he had 10 to 15 minutes to prepare his defense, according to the ACLJ. When the attorney said he needed more time, a hearing was set for July 14.

The pastors’ attorney requested access to his clients at the end of Thursday’s hearing, but the judge said he had the authority only to grant him visitation in court. The right to access to an attorney is guaranteed under Sudanese law.

Attorney, Pastor Arrested

The pastors’ attorney, Mohaned Mustafa, was arrested on Wednesday (July 1) along with a pastor of the church that has been at the center of the legal conflicts, Khartoum Bhari Evangelical Church.

Police arrived at the property with a demolition team and a government order to destroy one section, so the church summoned its attorney, Mustafa, according to the ACLJ. When he arrived, he reviewed the order and pointed out that police were instructing the team to demolish one section of the church compound, while the government order said to destroy another, ACLJ reported.

“He spoke with the engineer on the scene and reviewed the land plot map. Both agreed that they had been pointed to the wrong area,” ACLJ reported. “The engineer took the matter up with the police present, who were angered by the situation. The police then arrested Pastor Hafez and put him in handcuffs. Rather than taking him to the police station by car, which is roughly 200 meters from the church, the police forced the pastor to walk to the police station, parading him through the public market with his hands shackled.”

While the pastor was in detention, authorities struck him on the side of his head with a gun with such force that he required x-rays after his release, according to Middle East Concern.

Mustafa remained and observed as police told the engineer that they did not care if their demolition directions were incorrect. Police soon told the attorney he had no right to be there, and when he calmly refuted the claim, officers arrested him, ACLJ stated. Mustafa and the pastor were released on bail, charged with obstructing a public servant during the course of his duty (Article 99), punishable by up to six months imprisonment, a fine or both.

On June 4, the two South Sudanese pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison in Khartoum North and are being held in separate cells. Michael, 49, was arrested after speaking at the church service in Khartoum, and the 36-year-old Reith was arrested on Jan. 11 after submitting a letter from leaders of their denomination, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC), inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

The Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church that Michael had encouraged in December was the subject of government harassment, arrests and demolition of part of its worship center as Muslim investors have tried to take it over. NISS is manned by hard-line Islamists who are given broad powers to arrest Christians, black Africans, South Sudanese and other people lowly regarded in the country that President Omar al-Bashir has pledged will be fully Arabic and Islamic. The charges appear to be based solely on the two pastors’ nationality, race and faith, sources said.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

On Oct. 5, 2013, Sudan’s police and security forces broke through the church fence, beat and arrested Christians in the compound and asserted parts of the property belonged to a Muslim investor accompanying them. As Muslims nearby shouted, “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” plainclothes police and personnel from NISS broke onto the property aboard a truck and two Land Cruisers. After beating several Christians who were in the compound, they arrested some of them; they were all released later that day.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, when Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians (see Morning Star News).

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2015 report.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face most persecution, moving up from 11th place the previous year.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

 © 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/judge-in-sudan-says-south-sudanese-pastors-can-be-charged-with-crimes-punishable-by-death/feed/ 0
Charges Dropped against Muslim Accused of Killing Christian in Egypt http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/charges-dropped-against-muslim-accused-of-killing-christian-in-egypt/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/charges-dropped-against-muslim-accused-of-killing-christian-in-egypt/#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2015 14:32:18 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4549 Mourners carry away casket at funeral for four Copts on July 7, 2013. (Morning Star News)

Mourners carry away casket at funeral for four Copts on July 7, 2013. (Morning Star News)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – Prosecutors in Upper Egypt have dropped all charges against a Muslim who, according to numerous eyewitnesses, gunned down a Christian with the aim of intimidating his family into withdrawing charges in another religiously motivated killing.

Prosecuting attorneys on June 24 found that the accused in the January shooting, Hasan Baghdadi, was incompetent to stand trial by reason of insanity and closed the case before it could be presented to a judge, according to human rights activists. Additionally, the investigation into Baghdadi’s brother, Mohammed, who was also allegedly involved in the incident, was dropped.

Sometime after the case was withdrawn, Baghdadi was sent to a psychiatric facility where he remained Wednesday (July 1), according to human rights activists.

Safwat Samaan, director of human rights group Nation Without Borders, said he doubts the validity of the incompetency finding. It is a common legal tactic in Egypt for Muslims who have killed Copts or committed other acts of violence against members of the Orthodox Christian minority to use the insanity defense to avoid trial or any kind of punishment, he said.

This “devil made me do it” legal strategy, often conducted with the complicity of the government, is a common fixture throughout the Middle East where religious minorities are often victimized by the majority, Samaan said.

“It is not the first time that a Muslim in Egypt who has attacked a Christian or a church has claimed to be mentally ill, and there seems to be an epidemic of cases in other countries as well, so it seems like ‘the devil’ is leading these people to do such things,” Samaan said.

He added that such abuse of the insanity defense has denied the victims in the January killing their right to justice.

“There is no justice in this case, and the police did not do their job by looking into all the facts and evidence,” he said.

The dismissal of the charges was a double blow to a Christian family that has lost two men to religiously motivated violence in two years.

“We feel like anytime someone kills a Christian, they will claim that he’s got a certificate that he is mentally ill and get away with it,” said a relative, Romany William. “It is like we live in a jungle.”

Shaheed Nesemis Saroufeem, 38, was shot on Jan. 13 in Al Dabaya village in Luxor Province. At the time, Saroufeem was driving a motor scooter back from a trip to a flourmill, where he had ground flour to make bread for his family. Witnesses said that the Baghdadi brothers followed Saroufeem from the back of their motorcycle through Al Dabaya, eventually spraying Saroufeem with machine-gun fire and driving off.

Saroufeem was hit nine times, fell to the ground and died at the scene.

Saroufeem’s death came after months of death threats against the Saroufeem family by Islamists and family members of a group of men accused of killing four Copts during political and religiously motivated riots of 2013.

On July 5, 2013, during the nationwide upheaval that led to the ouster of then-President Mohamed Morsi, a mob of Islamists attacked and killed Saroufeem’s cousin, Emil Naseem Saroufeem, 42, and three other Copts – Rasem Tawadrous Aqladios, 56, Mouhareb Noushy Habib, 38, and Romany Noushy, 33. For reasons that remain unknown, the group blamed Saroufeem for the death of a Muslim whose body had been found earlier that day.

A mob formed and began beating Saroufeem, who escaped briefly when two relatives, Habib and Noushy, hid him, according to Samaan. The rabble caught up with the three Christians in Aqladios’s apartment, and Saroufeem and Aqladios were bludgeoned to death. The group then allegedly beat and repeatedly stabbed Habib and Noushy and left them for dead.

After the killings, a mass riot started and the Muslims began beating Copts in Al Dabaya, then looted and burned down many of the Christian’s homes and businesses in the village. In all, three other Copts were seriously wounded and roughly 40 homes were destroyed. The Copts fled Al Dabaya, and for weeks most refused to return to their homes.

Eventually authorities rounded up about 16 Muslims and charged them with various crimes related to the killings and the destruction of the village.

Saroufeem was shot to death a day after a hearing in the trial of Baghdadi’s relatives for the 2013 murders.

A family member said Saroufeem had been receiving death threats since October 2014, when hearings in the court case against the 16 men began. Relatives of the deceased said the families of those charged put extreme pressure on them to drop the charges or enter into a “reconciliation” meeting, but they refused.

As the months passed, the threats increased in intensity and number, but Saroufeem did not take them seriously, relatives said. Despite the January killing and the insanity ruling, the Saroufeem family said they will not back down. It is not known if a new hearing date has been set.

Saroufeem and his family weren’t the only ones receiving threats before the shooting happened. According to Samaan, one of the priests at the Church of St. John in Al Edisat received threats from the Muslim family through a messenger that Saroufeem was going to be killed weeks before the shooting occurred. Those threats cast into doubt any claim that Baghdadi was not criminally responsible for his actions, but rather that the shooting was premeditated, Samaan said.

Through the messenger, the Muslim family also allegedly threatened the priest, who at the time was encouraging families affected in the 2013 killings not to enter into reconciliation meetings. After the shooting, the priest, whose name has been withheld for his safety, was transferred to another parish outside the province.

The Luxor parish is now encouraging families to participate in “reconciliation” meetings, which usually result in little or no punishment for Muslims accused of crimes against Christians in Egypt. Based on traditional tribal councils where remedies to various disputes can be determined, reconciliation meetings aren’t meant to replace the criminal justice system, according to Egyptian law, but they often do.

Once a reconciliation process starts, it is almost certain that any criminal charges against an accused person will be dropped. In a study of reconciliation sessions conducted by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights released in June, EIPR found that the Muslim majority uses the extrajudicial meetings to escape punishment for attacking Christians and other minority groups.

“Customary sessions have been used to evade the implementation of the law, giving those with a stronger tribal or clan presence more power to impose their own terms,” the study stated. “Such terms, in some instances, have explicitly amounted to punishing citizens for exercising their constitutional and legal rights to resort to the law in the pursuit of justice.”

Some officials in the justice system have also participated in injustice by not heeding the rule of law and by accepting customary rulings without considering the seriousness of the offenses committed, according to the study.

“These offenses have included murder, arson and the looting of public and private property, as well as places of worship, in addition to owning firearms and other acts that are illegal according to the Egyptian penal code,” it stated.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/07/charges-dropped-against-muslim-accused-of-killing-christian-in-egypt/feed/ 0
Christians Fear Creation of Muslim Sub-State in Philippines http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/christians-fear-creation-of-muslim-sub-state-in-philippines/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/christians-fear-creation-of-muslim-sub-state-in-philippines/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:17:18 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4542 Children caught in armed conflict are entertained at an evacuation center in Mindanao. The 40-year-old conflict has claimed more than 140,000 lives. (Morning Star News)

Children caught in armed conflict are entertained at an evacuation center in Mindanao. The 40-year-old conflict has claimed more than 140,000 lives. (Morning Star News)

MINDANAO, Philippines (Morning Star News) – Christians and others in the southern Philippines have expressed strong fears that legislation creating an Islamic sub-state on Mindanao Island will exacerbate religious tensions rather than resolve them.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), proposed by President Benigno Aquino III last September with the aim of ending decades of Islamist rebel violence in Mindanao, was approved by a House Ad Hoc Committee on May 20 with 50 members voting yes, 17 voting no and one abstaining. The area, comprising five provinces with sizeable non-Muslim populations, already enjoys a measure of autonomy as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and the proposed BBL would give leaders sufficient independence to impose sharia (Islamic law).

“What President Aquino is doing is treasonous to Christian communities in Mindanao,” Rolly Pelinggon, national convener of Mindanaoans for Mindanao (M4M), told Morning Star News.

If Bangsamoro, or “Moro Country” with Moro being colloquial for “Muslim,” were ruled under sharia, non-Muslims would become second-class citizens with drastically reduced rights. Critics of the bill say it would render the federal government powerless to redress human rights abuses under Islamic law.

Pelinggon said the BBL would thus worsen Muslim-Christian conflict. Besides intensifying religious-cultural differences between Christians and Muslims, the BBL would also facilitate monopoly of oil and gas resources by vested groups in Mindanao, he said.

The BBL came about as part of a preliminary peace accord, the Bangsamoro Peace Framework Agreement (BPFA), between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group, but it has done little to reduce violence. The BPFA was signed in 2013 as a precursor to a final peace agreement. The government claimed there would be no more Muslim rebel attacks in Mindanao after it was signed, but in some areas violence has increased.

In Basilan Province of the ARMM, Muslim separatist groups raided the town of Maluso on June 1 and cut off the Water District Office, managed mostly by Christians. The municipality is now suffering from water crisis that has destabilized the local economy, while security forces have engaged in a firefight with rebels that put more than 20,000 civilians in evacuation centers.

In Pikit, Cotabato Province, two men aboard a motorcycle in October 2014 threw a grenade at a United Church of Christ congregation at the height of worship, killing a nurse and a teacher. The blast injured another teacher and two other businessmen. Separatist rebels have been active in North Cotabato for past 20 years.

In Zamboanga City, an anti-bomb squad of the Philippine Police detonated an Improvised Explosive Device on Oct. 11, 2014. The bomb was similar to previous devices manufactured by separatist rebels. Zamboanga is home to more than 100,000 evangelical Christians and Ebenezer Bible College and Seminary, one of the first Protestant Bible schools in the Philippines.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabella Climaco announced in public that Zamboanga will never be part of the BBL and is one of the country’s staunchest critics of the legislation.

In Cotabato, indigenous tribal leader and village chieftain Jojo Sibug also told Morning Star News the BBL would aggravate religious conflict in Mindanao. Noting that the first inhabitants of Mindanao were the Manobo and other indigenous tribes, Sibug denied Islamic claims to the region.

“Our ancestors were already here even before Islam came to Mindanao,” he said. “This Philippine government should consider the welfare and plight of the indigenous tribes, and the Aquino administration should not only focus on one sector, but it should remember the indigenous people were also the first inhabitants of Mindanao.”

Tribal chiefs ruled Mindanao until the 1400s, when many of them embraced Islam after an Arab trader arrived to the island. In the 1900s, U.S. missionaries came to the Philippines and built a number of Christian schools in Mindanao. Many of the indigenous tribes embraced the evangelical Christian faith, including the ancestors of Sibug.

As part of the peace process, early this month the MILF surrendered 75 World War II firearms out of its 16,000 weapons to the government. Opposition Sen. Bongbong Marcos questioned why only 75 weapons were surrendered as part of the decommissioning process. Marcos presides over the Senate committee that conducts hearings on the BBL.

The fate of the BBL lies in the hands of the country’s 24 senators now deliberating the bill. A March poll found that 44 percent of Filipinos opposed the bill, and 22 percent supported it. In Mindanao, 62 percent of those surveyed opposed the bill.

Some have also questioned the 75 billion-peso (US$170 million) budget that would be allocated for the Bangsamoro government. Some critics believe that the MILF could use this huge amount to buy more sophisticated firearms to expand its control. By comparison, the Philippine military has a budget of only 15 billion pesos annually (between 2012 and 2017), or US$34 million.

In Manila, three archbishops, former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, former Sen. Francisco Tatad and the Philippine Constitution Assembly on June 19 filed a petition with the Supreme Court to nullify the March 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro that gave rise to the BBL. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case.

While Christian leaders fear abuses if the BBL were passed into law, some lawmakers also warned there would be war if the BBL fails to pass. Rep. Tupay Loong of Sulu, a former member of the rebel Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said in February that if the BBL is not passed, “the war will continue.”

The BBL measure was reportedly fast-tracked by bribes to lawmakers; the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the accord was endorsed by a majority in Congress after lawmakers accepted US$10 million in bribes to endorse it to the Senate.

In spite of congressional denials, investigative journalist Christine Herrera, who first exposed the alleged $10 million in bribes, has said she stands by the story because no fewer than two high-ranking officials of Congress confirmed the wrongdoing.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigue Duterte said the BBL could increase chances of Christians getting caught between the MNLF and the MILF, who are fighting each other.

“What I don’t like about Manila is they make wrong decisions for Mindanao,” he recently told a national newspaper. “They act as if they know everything about our land, and then put us in jeopardy.”

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/? 

###

 © 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/christians-fear-creation-of-muslim-sub-state-in-philippines/feed/ 1
Nun in Chhattisgarh, India Says Two Masked Men Bound, Raped Her http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/nun-in-chhattisgarh-india-says-two-masked-men-bound-raped-her/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/nun-in-chhattisgarh-india-says-two-masked-men-bound-raped-her/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:54:20 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4528 The Rev. Sebastian Poomattam, vicar general of Raipur Archdiocese. (St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church)

The Rev. Sebastian Poomattam, vicar general of Raipur Archdiocese. (St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Contrary to police reports, a nun with her face covered said yesterday at a press conference in Chhattisgarh state that two men raped her at a medical clinic in Raipur on Saturday (June 20).

The unidentified, 47-year-old nun told media that two masked men entered her room at the Christ Help Center (Khrist Sahay Kendre) at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. When she asked them if they wanted money, they replied, “We want much more than money,” she said.

One of the men held her while the other forced drugs into her mouth and gagged her with a cloth, she said, flanked by representatives of minority groups and political parties. The two assailants then tied her to the cot with her sari and used a long head scarf to bind her hands before taking turns raping her, she said.

Police previously told media that she later changed the accusation to attempted rape, legally “sexual assault” under Indian law. The nun said at the press conference that she never denied that she was raped. Police are still publically saying she accused the men of attempted rape, though the First Information Report claims “rape.”

She did not regain consciousness and the ability to say what had happened until hours after the superior at the medical clinic found her after daybreak, according to reports, and she has been receiving treatment for trauma. The Rev. Sebastian Poomattam, vicar general of the Raipur Archdiocese, said in an online statement two days after the assault, “The victim is still not in her normal senses.”

The nun, who is from Kerala state and belongs to the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, was the only nurse on duty and had instructed two female aides to go to bed before she retired for the night, as there were no other patients in the small facility.

Her superior in a nearby building called her the next morning, and when she received no answer, she reportedly came and found the victim unconscious, gagged and tied to her cot.

“Both her hands were tied to rails of the cot behind the head, and one sari was used to tie her waist to the cot,” Poomattam reported. “She was also gagged with cloth. The room was vandalized, and things were thrown all around, including some money on the ground.”

The superior reportedly found money scattered on the floor and 26,000 rupees (US$410) on a shelf that had not been taken, casting doubt on police statements that the men entered the room in search of cash and valuables and assaulted her after failing to find anything.

A doctor from a health center who accompanied police arriving at the scene expressed alarm at the victim’s condition, but a medical examination did not take place until the afternoon, after police transferred the victim to Ambedkar Medical College in Raipur.

“The police version, according to the Inspector General of Raipur, is that it is a matter of sexual assault and that no rape has taken place, but a case has been registered under section 376 [concerning rape] of the Indian Penal Code,” said the Rev. Vijayesh Lal of the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission.

Christian organizations joined advocacy groups and political parties in Raipur on Monday (June 22) to protest the alleged rape and official attempts to diminish the severity and religious motivations of it.

“The breaking into a Christian medical center, the identification of a religious person and the assault shows that it was religiously motivated,” Dr. John Dayal, spokesperson for the United Christian Forum, told Morning Star News. “The focus of the government should be to catch the guilty and to fulfil, nationally, the so-called promise of the prime minister of India that an environment will be created in which such violence will not be attempted against the Christian community.”

He said the attack was one of several cases of anti-Christian violence in Chhattisgarh state, and that it was noteworthy that it took place in an urban setting rather than in a remote village. Dayal added that the attack took place despite an announcement by the prime minister of “zero tolerance of crimes against religious institutions and personnel, which presumably includes Christian religious institutions and personnel as well.”

“The victim was found under circumstances and in a physical condition that shows acute sexual violence, whether the legal definition of rape was fulfilled or not, and therefore it invites as severe a punishment as any other case of rape,” he said.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India condemned the incident in the strongest of terms, Lal said, noting that recent attacks on Christians across India, and the nature of this assault, have given rise to much anguish among the Christian community.

“Nuns live their lives in worship to God and render unconditional service towards fellow human beings, and their targeting in this manner is deplorable,” Lal said. “This is the second major case of sexual assault on a nun since March this year, when a 70-year-old nun was raped by six men at Ranaghat, West Bengal.”

The EFI has urged the state and the central government to intervene and to arrest the culprits.

“We have also demanded that the state government of Chhattisgarh and the central government take measures to provide adequate security to Christian missionaries and clergy,” he added. “We have observed what looks like a deliberate softening of the incident by the government. Even the government spokesperson said that a ‘nurse was raped,’ downplaying the fact that she is a nun. The protest on June 22 by members of civil society and by Christians was against this lax attitude displayed by the police and the administration.”

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.   

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

 © 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

 

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/nun-in-chhattisgarh-india-says-two-masked-men-bound-raped-her/feed/ 0
Christian Mother of 11 in Uganda Poisoned by Muslim In-Laws, Area Sources Say http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/christian-mother-of-11-in-uganda-poisoned-by-muslim-in-laws-area-sources-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/christian-mother-of-11-in-uganda-poisoned-by-muslim-in-laws-area-sources-say/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 21:44:05 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4520 Flag of Uganda. (Wikipedia)

Flag of Uganda. (Wikipedia)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A mother of 11 who left Islam for Christianity was poisoned to death last week in a village in eastern Uganda, area sources said.

Namumbeiza Swabura, mother of a 5-month-old baby, died on Wednesday (June 17) in Nabuli village, Kibuku District, after her sister-in-law visited her and offered to prepare a light meal of cooked plantain called matoke for her, area sources said. Swabura and her husband, former sheikh (Islamic teacher) Mugoya Muhammad, put their faith in Christ in August 2014.

Her husband’s sister, Jafaran Wowa of Kanyolo village, visited her at 4 p.m. and after an hour prepared the dish, sources said. Wowa, who did not eat any of the dish, left soon after Swabura finished it, Muhammad learned.

Muhammad arrived soon after she finished eating to find his wife complaining of stomach pain. She told him the pain started immediately after eating the food that his sister had prepared for her, sources said.

Swabura’s pain grew worse as she began vomiting and her nose began to bleed uncontrollably; her face turned pale, and two hours later she died in their home as Muhammad was trying to rent a car to take her to a hospital, they said.

Her sister-in-law has gone into hiding, the sources said.

Swabura and her husband have received several death threats since putting their faith in Christ, according to Muhammad. During a visit by Morning Star News to the area in late May, he said, “We are fearing for our lives as the Muslims are threatening to kill us if we continue in Christianity.”

Besides her infant and husband, Swabura wife leaves behind 10 other children.

“We suspect that Muhammad’s sister, Jafaran Wowa, was given a lot of money to carry out the heinous act,” an area source said. “This was a deadly drug like rat poison or Bromethalin.”

Unable to bear the costs of pursuing legal recourse regarding Swabura’s death, Muhammad decided to bury her the next day, Thursday (June 18), sources said.

James Kalaja, pastor of the couple’s Muhammad New Hope Church in Nabuli, told Morning Star News by phone that the village has many Muslims hostile to Christians. After Muslims raped his daughter because of his role as a Christian leader, he recently moved his family to a safer village, he said.

“I only go to conduct Sunday service,” he said. “Christians are facing threats here, and the Muslims would not like to see a church in Nabuli village. It is sad that we have just lost our sister. The Christians are shaken by her death. We have been praying for Muhammad due to several threatening messages that he has been receiving through his phone.”

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

 

 

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/christian-mother-of-11-in-uganda-poisoned-by-muslim-in-laws-area-sources-say/feed/ 4
Muslims in Zanzibar Take Worship Hall, Bleed Another Church with Court Costs http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/muslims-in-zanzibar-take-worship-hall-bleed-another-church-with-court-costs/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/muslims-in-zanzibar-take-worship-hall-bleed-another-church-with-court-costs/#respond Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:45:19 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4507 Part of church land sought by hard-line Muslims outside of Zanzibar City. (Morning Star News)

Part of church land sought by hard-line Muslims outside of Zanzibar City. (Morning Star News)

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (Morning Star News) – Hard-line Muslims on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania have driven a pastor and father of five into hiding and taken over his church’s rented worship hall, he said.

“I have changed my place of residence four times since 2012” due to threats from area Muslims, said Pastor Philemon, whose full name is withheld for security purposes.

Once a congregation of 100, his New Covenant Church has shrunk to 25 members. Intent on removing his church from the undisclosed area, the Muslims cajoled a landlord into renting the congregation’s worship hall to them before the term of church’s lease ended, the pastor said.

“The church faithful are so scattered,” he said. “Some members are always knocking at my door requesting a place for worship.”

The remaining members now rotate among their homes for worship. At times they discuss joining other churches.

The pastor said the church has identified a safe place for worship that would cost about $15,000, of which he already has already raised $5,000. Getting land for churches is difficult in Zanzibar, and initially he must purchase it as private property; were he to mention that it will be turned into a church building, the seller on the Muslim-majority island would decline to sell, he said.

While Tanzania’s population is 34.2 percent Muslim and 54 percent Christian, according to Operation World, the Zanzibar archipelago is more than 97 percent Muslim.

The pastor is helping to care for several converts from Islam who have fled their homes because of persecution, he said, and he has been struggling financially to help them and provide for his family. He is married with five children ranging in age from 6 to 16.

“We urgently request financial support from friends so that we can restore back our members to the fellowship,” he said.

Awash in Legal Costs 

In Chukwani, outside Zanzibar City, hard-line Muslims have forced another church to incur monthly legal costs for eight years in an effort to take over its property, sources said.

Since 2007, pastor Amos Lukanula of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God has been battling area Muslims who obtained a court order to stop construction of his church building, asserting that the party that sold it to the church was not the rightful owner. The church has legal ownership papers.

The church is spending $100 dollars in legal charges every month for a monthly court hearing.

“The Muslims are waiting for the time when we shall fail to attend the court hearing, implying losing the case and subsequently having to pay a substantial amount of money,” Pastor Lukanula said.

Harun Gikaro Wanzo, a policeman from Musoma, Tanzania, had bought the land from Amina Binti Saleh and Saleh’s son, Sadik, and another relative in 2003, according to court documents. In 2004 Wanzo sold part of his land to the church, and construction of a worship building began immediately. After six months, however, the Muslims demolished the structure, saying it was located in a residential area.

The pastor then erected another temporary church structure despite the opposition, leading the leader of a mosque in Chukwani to tell him, “We do not want to see a church building here in Chukwani.”

The church prayed and fasted as building continued. But in 2007, the area Muslims demolished the structure under construction.

The pastor went to the land commission and paid the legal fees necessary for construction of a permanent church building, and permission was granted. When construction began, however, the area Muslims took the matter to court on Feb. 15, 2007. On Feb. 21, 2011, the court ruled in favor of the church.

The church continued with the construction, but after the death of Amina Binti Saleh, the seller of the property to Wanzo, the area Muslims and Saleh’s daughter, Jilubai Binti Saleh, filed another appeal to stop construction in 2011. The Muslims claimed that Saleh’s son, Sadik, was not the blood son of her late husband, Abdul Shakar, and hence did not have the right of ownership of the land that was sold to Christians. They held that Saleh’s daughter, Jilubai Binti Saleh, had been the rightful heir.

The church then hired a lawyer from mainland Tanzania, which has become an expensive monthly cost.

In 2009, Wanzo, the policeman who had bought the land from Saleh and sold it to the church, died, leaving his widow, Annah Philippo Barihuta, and seven children. In the church’s bid to show that her late husband had the right to sell the land to the church, the impoverished widow and her family have borne much of the costs of the court case.

Barihuta, a member of the church, risks losing all her land, including the part her late husband sold to the church.

The Muslims claim in court that Barihuta invaded Saleh’s land in 2004 and uprooted 20 coconut trees, then put up a house illegally; that in 2007, Pastor Lukanula illegally put up the church building within a residential area and destroyed trees worth 2 million Tanzanian shillings; that Amina Binti Saleh has been unable to develop the land and should receive 3 million Tanzanian shillings for the alleged losses; and that the church disobeyed a court order to stop construction and should pay 8 million Tanzania shillings to Saleh.

Thus the Muslims are not only seeking the land and the removal of the church building, but 13 million Tanzanian shillings (US$5,670).

The church of 50 members receives no denominational help and has been paying for the monthly legal costs, the pastor said.

“We have been strengthening the members by having home fellowships, which has kept the church spiritually strong,” he said.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

 

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/muslims-in-zanzibar-take-worship-hall-bleed-another-church-with-court-costs/feed/ 0
Two Injured in Arson Attack on Historic Church in Galilee, Israel http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/two-injured-in-arson-attack-on-historic-church-in-galilee-israel/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/two-injured-in-arson-attack-on-historic-church-in-galilee-israel/#respond Fri, 19 Jun 2015 20:49:43 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4503 Damage at Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee. (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Damage at Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee. (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – An elderly monk is recovering from smoke and toxic fumes he inhaled in an arson attack on a Galilee church yesterday as Israeli police investigate the blaze that caused more that $1 million in damages.

Before dawn on Thursday (June 18) someone set fire to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, a Roman Catholic church run by Benedictine monks on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Tabgha village.

Officials have not released the name of the monk, who according to local media reports is 80 years old. Both the monk and a German volunteer at the church required hospitalization. Both suffered from smoke inhalation, with the monk’s injuries appearing to be more serious.

No arrests have been in connection with the fire, but 16 Jewish “youths” were held, questioned then released, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri in press statements.

“In an area near the church, 16 youths were detained for investigation in order to check their involvement in the incident before dawn,” Samri said. “All 16 … were released with no conditions attached, after being interviewed and giving statements.”

According to officials from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the damage was substantial. The worship hall sustained minor damage, but the fire gutted one of the rooms in the complex, damaged a book storage room along with the books inside and caused significant damage to offices and an event hall.

Grafitti in red paint on an inside wall of one of the buildings read, “The false gods will be eliminated,” apparently a reference to a Jewish liturgical text, though some in Israel translated the marking as “idol worshippers” will be eliminated.

The church building was constructed in the 1980s on the site of fourth- and fifth- century churches that commemorated the spot where the New Testament records that Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. Some Christians believe the miracle happened at the church site.

The attack is similar to numerous other arson and vandalism attacks against churches, Christian cemeteries and, more often, other Christian-owned property. Known as “price tag” attacks for the costs they bring to victims, they are carried out by Jewish extremists to punish Christians for their faith, Palestinians for their nationality, or both.

Price tag attacks are now common throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories, with little done to prosecute the perpetrators.

This is the second time the church has been attacked. On April 27, 2014, young extremist Jews desecrated crosses and an altar at the site.

On May 26, 2014, at the Benedictine Dormition Abbey close to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, someone started a fire during a service officiated by Pope Francis in an adjacent building. The Benedictines of Mount Zion also are constant victims of contempt and violence where they live and work. Monks there see getting spit on and yelled at by yeshiva students and other Orthodox Jews almost as a rite of passage.

In a statement released this morning, The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land demanded an “immediate investigation and the perpetrators of this acts of vandalism be brought to justice.”

“Such criminal acts seriously undermine the coexistence of religious communities in the country. Jews, Christians and Muslims together must fight against such manifestations of violence and extremism,” the statement read. “Our society needs our testimony of respect for the dignity of every man and woman, respect for their faith, and safeguard the sanctity of all holy places and their free access to believers.”

A lay worker for the Latin Patriarchate of Jersusalem who requested anonymity said the attack has left him feeling apprehensive.

“I feel insecure now here in Israel in my own shrines where I go to pray, and very sad, because Christians here are a constructive community,” he said. “I don’t know why they do this.”

Israeli officials at several levels condemned the attack, eager to send the message that Israel is safe for tourism and that sectarian violence will not be tolerated. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a swift investigation into what he called an “outrageous arson attack” that amounted to “an attack on all of us.”

“Freedom of worship in Israel is one of our core values and is guaranteed under the law,” he said. “We will bring to justice those responsible for this crime. Hate and intolerance have no place in our society.”

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/two-injured-in-arson-attack-on-historic-church-in-galilee-israel/feed/ 0
Blasphemy Law Reform Drafted in Pakistan as Three More Christians Are Accused http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/blasphemy-law-reform-drafted-in-pakistan-as-three-more-christians-are-accused/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/blasphemy-law-reform-drafted-in-pakistan-as-three-more-christians-are-accused/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 20:24:54 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4489 Christians look on as Muslims carry out ritual prayer after council meeting over blasphemy accusation in church building. (Morning Star News)

Christians look on as Muslim leaders recite ritual prayer after council meeting over blasphemy accusation in church building. (Morning Star News)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – The Pakistani government has finished drafting a bill to combat abuse of blasphemy laws to which three Christians in the past month alone have fallen prey, sources said.

In Nankana Sahib District of Punjab Province, a Muslim accused a 94-year-old Christian landowner of blaspheming Islam in retaliation for the landowner’s attempt to resolve a disagreement over profit-sharing on a cornfield. Chaudhry Habil Qaiser of Martinpur village on May 27 filed an application with the predominantly Christian area’s inter-faith harmony committee asserting that Maulvi Muhammad Bashir, who used to till his land, was spreading false rumors that he had blasphemed Islam.

“Despite my repeated calls to Bashir, he refused to come to my house and discuss the issue,” Qaiser told Morning Star News. “On May 25, Malik Ghulam Amjad, a Muslim from a neighboring village, told me on the telephone that Bashir was propagating that I had mocked Islamic tenets in his presence. This propaganda was disseminated in several Muslim-inhabited villages.”

Qaiser has spent all his life in the same village and is widely respected throughout the district, and the allegations of blasphemy fell on deaf ears. But Bashir then filed an application with Abdul Hameed Rehmani, local head of a group called Tahafuz Khatam-e-Nabuvat, or Protectors of Prophet’s Finality, stepping up fears that the Christian village could face a mob attack.

Police had information about the matter and were waiting for either of the two parties to approach them for intervention, said the district police chief of Nankana.

“Our intelligence sources reported that no one in the villages had taken notice of Bashir’s claims, and there was no imminent threat of an attack on the Christians,” the chief, Kamran Yousaf, told Morning Star News.

He said police were closely monitoring the situation and were ready to intervene if necessary, but that it was better that the village council deal with the accuser.

On Sunday (June 14), a 30-member council comprising Christians and Muslims and headed by the Islamist leader, Rehmani, gathered at a local church in the village, where they asked Bashir to repeat his allegations and present witnesses and evidence against Qaiser. Bashir admitted that he had no case and apologized for trying to turn a monetary dispute into a religious issue.

Reform

Pakistan’s internationally condemned blasphemy statutes also are used to punish people whose psychological challenges cast doubt on whether they could intentionally blaspheme, and if so whether they legally could be held responsible.

In the Mehmoodabad area of Mirpur Khas in Sindh Province, Christians earlier this month abandoned their homes to escape possible Islamic attacks after a young Christian man who is said to be mentally challenged, Yaqoob Bashir, allegedly told local Muslims he had burned a copy of the Koran.

A mob gathered and threatened to set him on fire. Police took Bashir into custody, which saved his life, sources said.

Bashir’s neighbors said the accused frequently visited a Muslim cleric who told him that reciting koranic verses would help in treating his mental condition. Bashir on June 4 reportedly approached the cleric and sought a copy of the Koran. He then allegedly burned the Koran at his home and buried the ashes.

A case against Bashir was registered in the Mehmoodabad Police Station, where Bashir is said to have confessed and sought forgiveness. Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes require intent to be proven for conviction.

Another Christian said to be mentally unstable, Humayun Faisal, was accused of desecrating the Koran a couple of weeks earlier in Lahore. Faisal was immediately taken into custody, and a case was registered against him under Section 295-B for desecrating the Koran, but that did not stop Muslim mobs from rampaging in the Dhoop Sari area of Lahore where Faisal lives, source said.

Police and paramilitary troops averted major losses by baton-charging the crowds to bring calm.

In light of frequent abuses, the federal government has finished drafting of a bill to forestall abuse of the blasphemy statutes. Proposed by the Interior Ministry and vetted by the Law Ministry, the bill aims to keep anyone from taking the law into their own hands. According to a report by the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies, 52 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered since 1990.

The bill also metes out harsh penalties for those who have levelled false accusations of blasphemy, according to officials.

A report in the Express Tribune cited a senior official at the Interior Ministry as saying that procedural loopholes in Pakistan Penal Code’s Section 295-C, blaspheming Muhammad, have been identified and some new clauses incorporated into the bill. Speaking ill of the prophet of Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan.

According to the official, the new law would make it necessary to prove not just intent but “bad intent,” or mens rea, for conviction. Mens rea is a legal phrase used to describe the mental state a person must be in while committing a crime for it to be considered intentional. It can refer to a general intent to break the law or a specific, premeditated plan to commit a particular offense.

European countries’ concern over the rising tide of abuse of the blasphemy law is said to be a primary reason for the new legislation.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recently reported that abuse of the blasphemy law continues to take a heavy toll in terms of human lives and harassment of citizens. At least 14 people are on death row, and 19 others are serving life sentences, on blasphemy charges. Investigations have revealed that the reasons for the accusations often stem from personal enmity, property disputes and religious hatred.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at http://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. http://morningstarnews.org

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2015/06/blasphemy-law-reform-drafted-in-pakistan-as-three-more-christians-are-accused/feed/ 1