Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:45:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pastors in India Put Trust in God amid Persecution http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/pastors-india-put-trust-god-amid-persecution/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/pastors-india-put-trust-god-amid-persecution/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:56:32 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7061 HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – As two Hindu extremists gripped his hands while others beat him last week in northern India, Pastor Amar Stephen was asking God to forgive them. “Some attackers were holding both my hands so I couldn’t move, while others in the mob beat me,” he told Morning Star News. “At that […]

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Pastor Mahendra Pal. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Mahendra Pal. (Morning Star News)

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – As two Hindu extremists gripped his hands while others beat him last week in northern India, Pastor Amar Stephen was asking God to forgive them.

“Some attackers were holding both my hands so I couldn’t move, while others in the mob beat me,” he told Morning Star News. “At that time, I did not feel the pain of a single blow. I was praying to the Lord, ‘Lord please forgive them. Please begin your work in the hearts of these people.’”

The hard-line Hindu mob on Thursday (Aug. 10) had gone to his residence in Muzzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh state, to warn him against returning to Mohanpur village in neighboring Uttarakhand state, where he had preached at a house church two days earlier, he said.

“You can do nothing to us – we will attack you again, if you don’t stop Christian activities in Mohanpur,” one told him.

At the Aug. 8 service in Mohanpur, in Roorkee District, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members had stormed into the worship service and beaten him with belts, shoes and sticks.

“They barged inside the house church and questioned, ‘What is your business here?’” he said. “I told them we were praying. They said, ‘You are not praying, you are converting people.’ I said, ‘No, no. We are not converting. We are praying to the Lord, we are worshiping Him. Is taking the name of the Lord itself conversion?’”

They seized Bibles and Christian literature and took hold of him, telling him to come with them to the police station. Although he consented, as they were about to leave the room they began beating him, he said.

The mob of about 150 people videotaped their assault as they beat him with belts and kicked him, he said.

“I was dragged to the police station held by the hands by the RSS activists,” he said. “They took out a procession to a distance of about half a kilometer with an intent to shame. They shouted, ‘Look, look here is the man who follows Jesus Christ. God who could not save Himself, how can He save the world? How can He save you?”’

They continued mocking him, spitting out derogatory, hateful words against Christianity and Christ, he said.

Police took a written statement from him and released him. After coming home from the police station that day beaten and bruised, Pastor Stephen went to his knees in prayer and began reading the Scriptures.

“The Lord spoke to me from Isaiah 64 in the verses 10, 11 and 12,” he said. “I am confident that the Lord will establish His church in that very place and among those very people.”

A convert from Hinduism, since he began pastoring in the area five years ago he has never faced any opposition, he said. His visit to Mohanpur drew attention to his ministry, as the assailants know some of the church members there.

“I am asked to not enter the village,” he said. “But with this incident, my faith grew stronger. I am spending more time in prayer for the believers there. I’m hoping even more strongly that the Lord’s house be built there, and the people who attacked me, that they must know Christ. They must experience His love.”

He asked for prayer for the Christians in Mohanpur, saying they are living under great pressure.

Waiting on God 

In Uttar Pradesh state, also in northern India, pastor Mahendra Pal, 45, was attacked by Vishwa Hindu Parishad extremists on July 30. Police then arrested him.

Five days earlier he has been arrested on charges of forcible conversion in Nawabganj, Bareilly District. Police soon released him when they found the allegations were baseless, as they did on his re-arrest on July 30.

“Police were under pressure by the RSS and VHP activists in the village,” Pastor Pal said.

The assailants, Akhilesh Kumar Gangwar, Amit Kumar, Sathyendra Gangwar, Naresh Gangwar, Sarvesh Gangwar, Guddu Gangwar and Sunil Saini are aides of village President Jamna Prasad Gangwar, who filed the complaint with police, Pastor Pal said.

Kumar made false allegations that the pastor would get him married and pay him 200,000 rupees (US$3,117), and secure him a house and job if he converted to Christianity, Pastor Pal told Morning Star News. Another VHP member accused the pastor of promising him a gas cylinder.

“I passed the first test of arrest, and when the re-arrest happened, I stood firm in faith that even this time the Lord will come to my refuge,” Pastor Pal told Morning Star News.

Pastors from other parts of India came and spoke to authorities, and he was released, he said. Calls from organizations in Delhi questioning his re-arrest also helped.

Last week, Hindu extremists warned him not to lead any worship services, he said.

“The Lord spoke to me from Isaiah 41:10 – I am waiting on Him for the doors to open,” he told Morning Star News. “Very recently, a Muslim brother also has come into faith. When we gathered to worship as church, it was being filled by at least 150 attendees, on non-Sundays too. Even the rich and the Hindus from upper castes came into light, hearing the gospel. The Lord will lead His sheep, He will not leave them alone. I am waiting for His call, I am ready to go whichever direction Christ points me to.”

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

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© 2017 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.

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Herdsmen in Plateau State, Nigeria Quietly Seizing Christians’ Property, Pastors Say http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/herdsmen-plateau-state-nigeria-quietly-seizing-christians-property-pastors-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/herdsmen-plateau-state-nigeria-quietly-seizing-christians-property-pastors-say/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:05:20 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7052 JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state, Nigeria amount to “economic terrorism,” Christian leaders told Morning Star News. While Plateau state officials say “relative peace” prevails, Christian leaders point to herdsmen attacks in the past eight months that saw 18 Christians injured and two villages […]

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Plateau state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

Plateau state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state, Nigeria amount to “economic terrorism,” Christian leaders told Morning Star News.

While Plateau state officials say “relative peace” prevails, Christian leaders point to herdsmen attacks in the past eight months that saw 18 Christians injured and two villages seized.

Whether the “peace” is said to be relative to violence in northern neighbor Kaduna state, where attacks are so prevalent that officials dictated a news blackout, or with Plateau state flare-ups of past decades in which thousands died, Christian leaders told Morning Star News that attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen since December have quietly continued.

A pastor and his 5-year-old son were injured in May, four Christian women were raped, 12 Christians were injured and two communities displaced in attacks on 17 villages in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas, said Christian leaders Choji Chuwang, Jatau Gyang, and Da Jelkyes.

Chuwang said all those affected were members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) and Assemblies of God.

“As we gleefully wallow in the false sense of peace on the Plateau, know it today that a deliberate economic terrorism and land-grabbing strategy is being launched on Christians of Riyom and Barkin Ladi on a daily basis with the sole aim of making them poor, weak and destitute in their own land,” he said.

Management Committee Chairman of Riyom Local Government of Plateau State Mafeng Gwalson told media in May that the area was enjoying relative peace because the relationship between the security operatives and the citizens had been strengthened.

Pastor David Dalyop of the Assemblies of God and his 5-year-old son were wounded when Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked Gana Ropp, Barkin Ladi LGA, the night of May 25, Chuwang said. In Jol, Riyom LGA, Fulani assailants on March 17 stoned secondary school students, injuring 14-year-old Nehemiah David. When security personnel intercepted the attackers’ cows, Chuwang said, “there were sporadic gunshots into homes of our people. This left them panicking.”

Two Fulani herdsmen on June 6 assaulted and raped a Christian woman (name withheld) in Dayan Rim, Riyom LGA, then tied her to a tree from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m., he said. Later apprehended, the Fulani herders admitted they had raped her and tied her to a tree. Later that night, Fulani herdsmen invaded Lwa community of Riyom LGA and removed the roofs of all the houses while Christians there were away from their homes at a wake.

In the past eight months, Fulani herders have attacked eight Christian women, he said: Tanitha Luka, Rifkatu Emmanuel Pam, Victoria Monday, and one identified only her surname, Maichibi. The identities of four other women were not disclosed because they were raped by the herdsmen, he said.

On July 2, Fulani herdsmen ambushed and attacked Christian women returning from a mining site, injuring many of them, he said. On July 7, Fulani pastoralists grazed their cows on maize farms of Christian villagers of Rim community, Riyom LGA, at night, destroying about six hectares of farmland.

On the evening of June 17, when inhabitants had returned home, herdsmen grazed their cattle on the farmland of Gyang Yarima and Davou Mwagwong, both of Vwak hamlet in Jol, Chuwang said. The next night, the herdsmen destroyed the maize crops of Joshua Peter of Dajol hamlet, Jol, he said. On June 28, Fulani herdsmen ambushed Christian villagers of Jol who were returning from mining, seriously wounding five of them.

A heated argument on May 1 between Fulani leaders and Solomon Mandiks resulted in an altercation at the Riyom police station; Mandiks had been petitioning against the forceful occupation of lands sacked by the herdsmen. On May 8, Chuwang said, a Fulani man had threatened Mandiks, saying that his days were numbered as Fulanis had just met in Gwav and decided that he should be “silenced” for petitioning their “rightful claim” to lands they have seized.

On May 9, Fulani herders attacked and seriously injured Gyang Dambwarang for raising his voice when they grazed their cows into his compound, Chuwang said.

On May 19, Fulani herdsmen attacked three Christians on the Rafin-Acha to Tanjol road, fatally injuring David Yakubu. “They ran away and their cows were apprehended and handed over to security operatives,” Chuwang said. The cows were released to the owner that night “on the excuse that the owner of the cows showed some scratches to his hand, saying that he was also attacked,” he said.

On May 17, the head of Darin, in Jol, was attacked by Fulani herders, who left him in a coma, apparently thinking he was dead, he said.

In Werreng Rim, Davou Joro Mangai was attacked on April 4 and seriously injured by suspected Islamic terrorists and/or Fulani herdsmen, who cut down cactus trees that Christians used as a fence around their houses, and grazed their cattle on their lands. Two of the Fulani attackers were apprehended and handed over to Riyom police, Chuwang said.

“There was an invasion of a mining site at Hei-Sho of Rot-Chun (Rafin Acha) in Jol community, which had suffered the brunt of terrorism in the recent past,” Chuwang said. “The Islamists have invaded a vast land richly endowed with tin and claimed it as a ‘conquered territory.’”

On April 5, at about 7 p.m., herdsmen grazed their cattle on crops belonging to Emmanuel Gankis of Jol community, he said. At a mining site at Rafin-Acha of Jol on April 21, Fulani herders attacked Mathew Samuel; the next day, two young Christian men were attacked by herders along Rafin-Acha Road in Jol.

“On March 9, Fulani herdsmen mowed down the banana farms of our people of Lwa community of Bachit District in Riyom LGA,” Chuwang said.

On Feb. 20, Fulanis erected massive and settlements on the Tagabos area of Sho community, which had been sacked by overnight raids “in a definite statement of occupation,” Chuwang said.

“On Feb. 28, Fulani herdsmen, in a lame excuse of searching for a cow, terrorized inhabitants of Tanjol hamlets with sporadic gunshots,” he said. “Christian inhabitants said it was a ploy to know if any of the villagers would return shots too, so that in an eventual attack, they would know which house to target first.”

On Jan. 18, Islamic extremists attacked and injured a Jol woman, Rifkatu Emmanuel Pam, he said. Also in Jol on the morning of Jan. 28, Fulani herdsmen tried to kidnap Dachung Maichibi, his wife and son in the Darin area. Later that night, they destroyed mud blocks molded by Internally Displaced People of Zim community in Ropp District of Barkin Ladi LGA, along with those of Jol who were trying to rebuild their razed houses, he said.

“On Jan. 20, Fulani herdsmen attacked our women on their farms at Mere hamlet of Rahoss Community in Riyom LGA, injuring one Mrs. Victoria Monday as others escaped,” he said.

One Dec. 8, 2016, Fulani herdsmen set ablaze piles of freshly harvested millet and beans belonging to the people of Nachur and Sopp communities, he said. On Dec. 9, Fulani herders attacked children at Kum of Byei community; Tabitha Lula of Werreng escaped after she was nearly killed, he said.

On the evening of Dec. 18, Fulani herdsmen led their cows to graze on the cabbage farm of Christians. They were apprehended, and the cattle of one of the herders, Musa Shuaibu of Rankum community (renamed Mahanga by the Fulani), were handed over to security agents, Chuwang said.

These encroachments and attacks should not be ignored, he said.

“If this doesn’t disturb us collectively as Plateau people, then let’s keep playing the ostrich as they forcefully take Plateau state inch by inch, day by day,” Chuwang said.

Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

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© 2017 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.

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Christian Rights Activists in Vietnam Charged with Serious ‘Crimes’ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/christian-rights-activists-vietnam-charged-serious-crimes/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/christian-rights-activists-vietnam-charged-serious-crimes/#respond Fri, 11 Aug 2017 11:17:16 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7041 (Morning Star News) – After 19 long months of investigative detention following his Dec. 16, 2015 arrest, renowned human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai was finally charged with a crime on July 30. Vietnamese authorities charged Dai, 35-year-old legal associate Le Thu Ha and four other human rights activists, including Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, 45, […]

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Nguyen Van Dai. (Danluan.org)

Nguyen Van Dai. (Danluan.org)

(Morning Star News) – After 19 long months of investigative detention following his Dec. 16, 2015 arrest, renowned human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai was finally charged with a crime on July 30.

Vietnamese authorities charged Dai, 35-year-old legal associate Le Thu Ha and four other human rights activists, including Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, 45, with “carrying out activities with the purpose of overthrowing the Peoples’ administration,” under article 79 of the Penal Code.

The latter four were taken into custody on July 30, according to state news outlets. Sources said they assume their names came from examination of Dai’s computers or were obtained from him by “enhanced interrogation.”

State-run Viet Nam News reported that the Investigative Security Agency of the Ministry of Public Security had commenced legal proceedings against Dai. If found guilty of the serious charge, Dai could face 12 to 20 years in prison or even the death penalty. Officials have labeled him the “instigator.”

Dai has already served eight years in prison and was under house arrest from 2007 to 2015.

His wife, Vu Minh Khanh, who has courageously dared to advocate internationally for him, is reported to have been allowed to see him only twice during the 19-month investigation period – contrary to Vietnamese law, which stipulates monthly family visits. Her first visit came right after his arrest, and the other in January 2017.

In early April, authorities at the Hanoi airport prevented Khanh from boarding a plane to Germany, where she was to receive a human rights awards from the German Association of Judges on her husband’s behalf.

Pastor Chinh Exiled with Family

On July 28, pastor, long-time advocate and prisoner-of-conscience Nguyen Cong Chinh, his wife Tran Thi Hong and children arrived in Los Angeles, California, their exile a condition of Pastor Chinh’s early release from prison.

Often in trouble with authorities, the maverick pastor and human rights/religious freedom activist was sentenced in 2011 to 11 years in prison for “undermining national unity.”

His wife was very vocal and public about his solitary confinement, abuse and deprivation of treatment for serious medical conditions while incarcerated. She reported that authorities assaulted her after she divulged the abuse of her husband to U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom David Sapperstein on his visit to Vietnam in April 2016.

Aggressive advocacy by U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commissioners and other advocacy organizations finally secured his early release, but with the condition of immediate exile.

Though Vietnam has undergone stunning economic reforms in the last three decades, it tolerates no political dissent or what authorities see as threats to their power.  Religion-motivated advocates are deemed especially dangerous.

On June 29, well-known Catholic human rights activist and blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, nicknamed “Mother Mushroom,” was convicted of “spreading anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to 10 years of incarceration.

Ambassador for Religious Freedom Named

On July 26 President Trump nominated Kansas governor and former long-time senator Sam Brownback as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom. Religious freedom advocates, who have been promoting a quick replacing of out-going Ambassador Sapperstein, consider this a strong choice.

Brownback, a devout Catholic, was an active participant in the passing of the original 1998 U.S. Law on International Religious Freedom that created the position he has now been nominated to fill.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

 

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© 2017 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.

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Kidnapped Pastor in Nigeria Released from Five Days of Captivity http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/kidnapped-pastor-nigeria-released-five-days-captivity/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/kidnapped-pastor-nigeria-released-five-days-captivity/#respond Thu, 10 Aug 2017 03:27:27 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7026 JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspecting corrupt police and accusing the Nigerian government of failing to contain a rash of kidnappings, Christian leaders announced that a pastor abducted last week was freed on Wednesday (Aug. 9). The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses, kidnapped by young Fulani men on Friday (Aug. 4) on the highway from Jos […]

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The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses after his release by kidnappers. (Morning Star News courtesy of Mose family)

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses after his release by kidnappers. (Morning Star News courtesy of Mose family)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspecting corrupt police and accusing the Nigerian government of failing to contain a rash of kidnappings, Christian leaders announced that a pastor abducted last week was freed on Wednesday (Aug. 9).

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses, kidnapped by young Fulani men on Friday (Aug. 4) on the highway from Jos to Abuja in Plateau state, was brought back to Jos at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday, according to a statement from leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).

The church leaders would not say whether a ransom was paid to the kidnappers, who had demanded 1 million naira (US2,730), but church sources told Morning Star News a payment was made to secure his release.

The Rev. Ishaku Yaro, a pastor at ECWA headquarters in Jos, wrote a Facebook post on Wednesday excitedly announcing the release of the pastor, adding that special prayers were held for him at the residence of the general secretary of the ECWA in Jos.

“Praise God we arrived in Jos safely with our CE [Christian Education] Director at about 1 a.m. on the 9th August 2017,” Yaro stated. “Special prayers took place at the ECWA GS house, and he was reunited with his wife. Please allow him to rest … Presently, he will be somewhere resting for at least 3 days before coming back home.”

Pastor Moses was kidnapped by armed gunmen believed to be Fulani herdsmen while he and his driver were on their way to attend a church leadership seminar set for Saturday; the event was cancelled as a result of the kidnapping.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Gado, president of the ECWA, and the Rev. Yunusa S. Madu, ECWA general secretary, suggested “bad egg” police were allowing Christians to be kidnapped.

“Considering the short distance between the police checkpoint and the spot in which the pastor and other passengers were attacked by the kidnappers, one would have expected a swift response by the police to rescue them, but unfortunately they were helplessly abandoned in the hands of the kidnappers,” they said in the statement. “This scenario, like many others as have been attested to by many residents along Abuja-Kaduna road, lends credence to the possible collaboration of some bad egg police and other security personnel in the increasing crime of kidnapping and armed robbery along that highway, or how do you explain the fact that for all the period our pastor was in the hands of the kidnappers, they neither changed position nor mobile number, and yet the security agents were not able to apprehend or track them.”

In recent days other ECWA pastors and members, including heavily pregnant women and children, have been kidnapped by young Fulani men along the Abuja-Kaduna road and subjected to various degrees of trauma before being released after payment of ransoms, they said.

“Very recently, one of our pastors who had just regained his freedom was held hostage for 5 days by some daredevil young Fulani kidnappers who seized him along Jere-Bwari road, just 200 meters away from a major police checkpoint on the curve bridge after shooting the driver of the vehicle in which he was travelling,” they said. “We therefore use this opportunity to call on the federal government to do the needful in strengthening security of lives and property in the country, especially in the country’s highways, through which many Nigerians ply in search of their daily bread.”

They urged the Nigerian government to step up its effort to secure lives and property.

“The Evangelical Church Winning All is seriously worried about the growing spate of insecurity and criminality in Nigeria which appears to have overwhelmed the government and its security agencies, as nowhere, either in home, marketplaces, workplaces, worship places and our highways, are now safe,” they said. “Like many other Nigerians, members of the ECWA are suffering the brunt of insecurity on our highways, which have been taken over by armed robbers and kidnappers who kill, maim, torture, rape, steal and extort outrageous ransoms from their helpless poor victims while security agents look away.”

The situation is alarming, they said, alleging that cases of kidnapping and armed robbery continue throughout the country on an hourly basis against already impoverished citizens on the highways and in their homes.

“The federal government should do more to closely monitor the activities of security personnel on the highways and fish out bad eggs among them who metamorphose into criminals on the roads,” they said. “We recommend that the federal government should consider the payment of ransom for kidnap victims where it failed to protect the people.”

Pastor Moses’ driver, Yohanna Maina, sustained a gunshot to his thigh when the assailants shot into the windshield of the car as he neared a police checkpoint. The captors released him late that night on the highway.

The ECWA leaders said they will remain committed to praying for the government “and all those in authority, for wisdom to lead justly in accordance with God’s will.”

Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

 

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© 2017 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.

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Fulani Herdsmen Kidnap Pastor in Plateau State, Central Nigeria http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/fulani-herdsmen-kidnap-pastor-plateau-state-central-nigeria/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/fulani-herdsmen-kidnap-pastor-plateau-state-central-nigeria/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:45:29 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7021 JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Armed Fulani herdsmen on Friday (Aug. 4) kidnapped a pastor as he and his driver were traveling in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, the wounded driver told Morning Star News. The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses and his driver, Yohanna Maina, were on their way to Abuja from Jos to attend a […]

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The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses. (Morning Star News via ECWA Christian Education Dept.)

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses. (Morning Star News via ECWA Christian Education Dept.)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Armed Fulani herdsmen on Friday (Aug. 4) kidnapped a pastor as he and his driver were traveling in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, the wounded driver told Morning Star News.

The Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses and his driver, Yohanna Maina, were on their way to Abuja from Jos to attend a church seminar planned for Saturday (Aug. 5) when the armed Fulanis stopped them on the Kafanchan-Kwoi-Bwari highway at about 8 p.m. near Jere village.

Maina said that Pastor Moses, director of the Christian Education Department of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), was praying loudly when he last saw him held at gunpoint by the kidnappers. Church officials said the kidnappers have demanded a 1 million naira (US$2,730) ransom for his release.

“I am glad I survived this ordeal, and I pray that Rev. Moses comes out alive,” Maina said. “I am saying this as, while the gunmen led us into the bush, Rev. Moses was praying very loud, and they disliked this so they were beating and threatening to kill him.”

Maina and the pastor had passed a police checkpoint and were approaching another that police were setting up when they heard gunshots, he said. Their car and the vehicle in front of them were shot, and a bullet coming through his front windshield struck him in the thigh. It was so dark that he was not even aware he was bleeding, he said.

The gunmen ordered them out of the car and led them through the bush. Maina said he saw that some occupants of the other car were shot, and he saw lifeless bodies lying beside the vehicle. A group of armed men led occupants of the other car in a different direction. The gunmen asked him and the pastor which of the two was the boss, he said, and Pastor Moses told them he was a pastor and Maina was his driver, and that the head of their church was in Jos.

“We realized that the armed gunmen were Fulani herdsmen, as they spoke to us in Hausa language but communicated with each other in the Fulani language,” he said.

Leaving their car behind, three of the Fulanis forced them to trek through the wilderness for hours, stopping to rest at midnight, while four remained on the highway to continue with their terror. Maina and the pastor heard their captors say it was midnight and their colleagues had yet to join them, and the assailants then took the Christians’ mobile phones and money.

When they noticed that Maina was wounded, they asked another group of armed men they met there to take him away, while Pastor Moses was taken to another site. They ordered Maina to hand over his jacket to Pastor Moses, who had nothing on his torso but a shirt, and told Maina they were taking the pastor to a very cold place.

They marched Maina another two hours before leaving him on the highway, telling him to remain on it or their colleagues located throughout the bushes would kill him, he said. They told him the highway would lead him to his car.

Recalling that Pastor Moses had the car keys in the jacket he had given to him, Maina continued on in hopes of finding someone to help him, watching in vain as no vehicle stopped for him.

“I trekked for two hours or so until I arrived at a village where I found some youths keeping watch outside their homes,” he said. “I told them how we were kidnapped and how I found my way to their village. The youths in the village were suspicious and afraid as they found me with bullet wounds, and it was bleeding.”

One of them believed him, however, saying he had ridden his motorbike past the spot of the attack that Maina had mentioned. One of the young men told Maina he knew of an ECWA pastor in a nearby village, and he telephoned the pastor, who arrived and took him to another village, from which a military patrol team took the Christians to Bwari town in the Federal Capital Territory.

“The soldiers took me to the police station in Bwari, where I lodged a complaint, and the police then accompanied us to the hospital where I was treated,” he said. “A surgery was carried out on my right thigh to extract the bullet that had lodge there.”

When Morning Star News visited ECWA headquarters in Jos on Monday (Aug. 7), leaders and church workers were holding prayer vigils at the conference hall for Pastor Moses. ECWA officials said the kidnappers have contacted the pastor’s wife and the accountant in his church office to make the ransom demand.

“Rev. Moses is a man of prayer and strong faith, and I am convinced that God will see him through this terrible ordeal,” Maina said.

Predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have launched numerous attacks on Christians in northern and central Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

 

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© 2017 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.

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Christians Killed, Injured in Church Shooting in Southern Nigeria http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/christians-killed-injured-church-shooting-southern-nigeria/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/christians-killed-injured-church-shooting-southern-nigeria/#respond Sun, 06 Aug 2017 22:54:46 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7012 JOS, NIGERIA (Morning Star News) – At least 11 people were killed in an attack on a Catholic church service in southern Nigeria today that apparently was rooted in a conflict with a relative of one of the parishioners, authorities said. At least 18 others were injured in the shooting at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in […]

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Exterior of worship site attacked in Amakwa Ozobulu in Anambra state, Nigeria. (Morning Star News via Anambra Police)

Exterior of worship site attacked in Amakwa Ozobulu in Anambra state, Nigeria. (Morning Star News via Anambra Police)

JOS, NIGERIA (Morning Star News) – At least 11 people were killed in an attack on a Catholic church service in southern Nigeria today that apparently was rooted in a conflict with a relative of one of the parishioners, authorities said.

At least 18 others were injured in the shooting at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Amakwa Ozobulu, near Onitsha of Ekwusigo Local Government Area (LGA) in tiny Anambra state, a state official said.

A police statement emailed to Morning Star News stated that “unknown gunmen” attacked.

“Intelligence report/preliminary investigation proved that it is a fight between the two sons of the community living outside Nigeria that caused the incident, because one of them built the church [at] which the incident happened,” the statement said. “It is sacrilegious, but for now, [it] is still premature to disclose the identities. We will brief the public after investigation is concluded.”

Police Commissioner Garba Umar told journalists that the shooting was the result of a conflict between two Nigerian siblings now living in South Africa. While asserting that the attack was carried out by local people, he said it was rooted in conflict between the siblings’ rival gangs abroad.

Text messages and emails received by Morning Star News soon after the attack indicated gunmen attacked as parishioners were worshiping during early morning Mass at about 8 a.m.

“Commissioner Umar commiserates with all those who lost their loved ones in the act and pledges that the command would not rest on its oars until perpetrators are brought to book,” the police statement read. “However, citizens are advised to be vigilant and report suspicions movements and actions in their locality.”

Anambra state spokesman Ifeanyi Aniagoh said in a statement that a lone gunman was responsible.

“The Ozubulu community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra state were this morning thrown into mourning as a gunman walked into St. Philip’s Catholic Church and started shooting sporadically, killing 11 and injuring 18 persons,” Aniagoh said.

The assailant reportedly targeted at least one person before opening fire on others.

Umar said motives for the shooting were also based on one of the rival gang member’s father being a member of the church.

A police statement by Nwode Nkeiruka, an assistant superintendent of police for Anambra state, stated that eight worshipers were killed. He described it as an unpardonable sin against the church.

State spokesman Aniagoh said the governor had visited the church site and the hospital where victims were taken.

“Speaking at the church premises, the governor revealed that preliminary security investigations show that the shooting was caused by a feud between two brothers from the community living outside Nigeria,” Aniagoh said in his statement. “The deeply saddened governor asked the people to go about their businesses without fear or panic, noting that this isolated case must be followed to the root and all perpetrators must be brought to book.”

The dead and the injured were reportedly taken to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Nnewi.

“Thanking over 50 doctors who were on ground looking after the injured, the governor assured their families that all medical bills will be taken care of by the state government,” Aniagoh said.

Another attack on a Catholic church in Anambra, this one politically motivated, occurred more than a year ago. Nigerian security agents on May 30, 2016 killed eight Christians when the officers targeted secessionist Biafra agitators at a church service in Nkpor town.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

 

###

© 2017 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.

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Police Disingenuous in Hindu Extremist Assault on Pastors in Tamil Nadu, India, Sources Say http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/police-disingenuous-hindu-extremist-assault-pastors-tamil-nadu-india-sources-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/08/police-disingenuous-hindu-extremist-assault-pastors-tamil-nadu-india-sources-say/#comments Tue, 01 Aug 2017 16:36:36 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=7002 HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Hard-line Hindus used steel rods and a butcher’s knife to attack a father-son pastoral team in Tamil Nadu state, India, injuring the brain tissue of the elder clergyman, sources said. In Thyagaraja Nagar, in the Sirkali area of Nagapattinam District, 28-year-old pastor Daniel Jebraj was returning home on July 19 […]

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Pastor Muniyandi Elangoan Jebraj. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Muniyandi Elangoan Jebraj. (Morning Star News)

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Hard-line Hindus used steel rods and a butcher’s knife to attack a father-son pastoral team in Tamil Nadu state, India, injuring the brain tissue of the elder clergyman, sources said.

In Thyagaraja Nagar, in the Sirkali area of Nagapattinam District, 28-year-old pastor Daniel Jebraj was returning home on July 19 at about 7:45 p.m. when he noticed five men drinking alcohol, smoking and ridiculing Christianity in front of his church gate, he said.

“I told them this is not the right place for drinking and smoking activities,” Jebraj told Morning Star News, adding that he asked them to leave. “I was not aware they were waiting for me. They pulled out the weapons and attacked me.”

As they struck with the knife, wooden sticks and steel rods, his 61-year-old father, pastor Muniyandi Elangoan Jebraj, rushed out to help him.

“They were spewing very dangerous words – I can’t say such words, they are highly derogatory and foul,” Daniel Jebraj said. “My father came out running, and he too was beaten.”

Christians identified the assailants as members of the Hindu Makkal Katchi, a wing of the Hindu extremists Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the state.

The elder pastor received a CAT scan of his head at Sirkali Government Hospital in Nagapattinam District. Dr. Pon Rajendran told Morning Star News that the two pastors suffered injuries from repeated battering with a knife, wooden sticks and steel rods.

Pastor Daniel Jebraj. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Daniel Jebraj. (Morning Star News)

“Soft tissue in his brain is injured,” Rajendran said of Elangoan Jebraj. “And Daniel’s bruises and cuts had to be stitched.”

Elangaon Jebraj was referred to Nagapattinam Medical College to consult a neurologist for further treatment.

Superintendent of Police Abhinav Kumar told Morning Star News that a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against two people, and that they appeared in court and were sent to judicial custody, but Daniel Jebraj said only one suspect was arrested plus an innocent young man who took no part in the beating.

Kumar denied the religious motive for the attack.

“It is a simple, independent incident,” he said. “There is no groupism, no enmity between two groups. One of the accused belongs to a minority.”

Of the five assailants, police arrested a Hindu identified only as Hariharan and an 18-year-old Muslim, Mhamadhu Abdullah Barish; the latter took the pastors to the hospital, Daniel Jebraj said.

“The police falsely framed the boy to prevent exposing the case as Hindu extremist violence on Christians,” he said. “Abdullah has no relation to this case. He heard our screams and came and tried to take us to the hospital. He did not beat us.”

Sirkali police filed charges against both men of causing hurt by dangerous weapons (punishable by up to three years in prison), criminal intimidation with threat to cause death or grievous hurt (punishable by up to seven years in prison), and uttering obscenities near a public place.

The district vice president of the Tamil Muslim Munnetra Kazagham, a group working for the progress of Muslims, agreed that Barish was falsely accused.

“Abdullah is falsely framed in the church priest’s attack,” the official, who identified himself only as Mujheebudhin, told Morning Star News. “When the pastor complained against the five accused, identifying them as Hindu Makkal Katchi activists, police arrested a minority community boy to show there is no communal violence in the state.”

Barish, now held at juvenile detention facility, and his widowed mother live in a predominantly Hindu colony close the church premises.

The Hindu Makkal Katchi have been aggressively inciting Hindus in Tamil Nadu to attack Christians, sources said. Previously active only in the Kongu belt comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu and parts of the states of Karnataka and Kerala, they now have spread to the rest of Tamil Nadu, a source said.

Hindu Makkal Katchi leader Arjun Sampath has circulated posters spreading hate against Christians in Tamil Nadu, sources said. Translated, a poster on a wall in Nagapattinam District says, “Don’t be cheated hereafter. Christians have spoiled our culture and historical importance. Their pastors are deceiving us with foreign funds. Anyone who converts from our mother religion to Christianity is an anti-national and deshdrohi [traitor]. Don’t fall for the sweet talk and foreign funds of Christian pastors.”

Three months ago, when area Christians distributed 50,000 gospel tracts and pastors from across southern India gathered, about 150 Hindu extremists surrounded them on a main thoroughfare in the Sirkali area. Police arrived and brought calm, Daniel Jebraj said.

After five years in ministry, the church has seen Christians growing in numbers and breaking down caste-based barriers, he said. The latest attack, he said, was a setback for the community.

“It was a pre-planned attack, an attempt to murder,” he said. “They carried weapons.”

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

 

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© 2017 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.

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Hunger Strikes in Iran Protest Upsurge in Harsh Sentences, Treatment of Christians http://morningstarnews.org/2017/07/hunger-strikes-iran-protest-upsurge-harsh-sentences-treatment-christians/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/07/hunger-strikes-iran-protest-upsurge-harsh-sentences-treatment-christians/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:53:17 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6985 JERUSALEM (Morning Star News) – Two Christian prisoners in Iran went on hunger strikes to protest increasingly harsh treatment of those arrested for house-church activities. Since June 2016, courts in Iran have given 11 Christians prison sentences of at least 10 years, mostly on charges related to house-church activities for converts from Islam, according to advocacy […]

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Amin Nader Afshar. (MEC)

Amin Nader Afshar. (MEC)

JERUSALEM (Morning Star News) – Two Christian prisoners in Iran went on hunger strikes to protest increasingly harsh treatment of those arrested for house-church activities.

Since June 2016, courts in Iran have given 11 Christians prison sentences of at least 10 years, mostly on charges related to house-church activities for converts from Islam, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).

The hunger strikes are meant to draw attention to the severity of the sentences, as well as the poor treatment these prisoners often receive once they are in custody, according to human rights advocates. The abuse includes being held without charges, detained for long periods without trial and prolonged isolation and interrogation.

“It’s one of the ways, in a way, to raise objections to the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” MEC’s Nikoo Cordman, said. “Because they don’t treat them well, don’t care for their concerns, don’t hear them out. This is the only way, in some cases.”

Amin Afshar Naderi lost 10 kilograms (22 lbs.) after a 21-day hunger strike in Evin Prison that ended when he was released on $80,000 bail on Tuesday (July 25). Naderi, a convert from Islam, is serving a 15-year sentence for charges that include “acting against national security” and “insulting the sacred,” according to MEC. The 15 years may include time already served, according to the group.

Shortly after Naderi went on the hunger strike, 30-year-old Ebrahim Firoozi declared a 10-day hunger strike on July 17 while serving a four-year sentence.

“The government of Iran does not determine or confirm the Christian faith of people, and this matter is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Church,” Firoozi wrote in a letter to the Prosecutor General of Tehran the day before he started the strike.

Among those sentenced to 10-year sentences in the past year are Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, Hadi Asgari, Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammad Reza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie, Naser Navard Goltapeh, Bahram Nasibov, Yusif Farhadov and Eldar Gurbanov, according to MEC.

The sentences were handed down by Judge Ahmadzadeh, according to MEC.

All but Tamraz are converts to Christianity. The theocratic regime seems to view Christian converts as having betrayed Islam and the state itself, according to advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Christian converts from Islam in Iran may face charges of apostasy, even though such a charge is rare, according to MEC’s Cordman. In the last 10 years, advocates say, the government has put growing pressure on the country’s rapidly spreading Christian community.

“It’s a testament to how harsh the Iranian regime is acting against Christians, specifically Christian converts, trying to destabilize the church and ruin and destroy the existence of the church,” Cordman said.

Family Hardship

Naderi was arrested along with Hadi Asgari and a few other Christians on Aug. 26, 2016 while attending a picnic in Firuzkooh, northeast of Tehran, according to CSW. Previously he had been arrested at a Christmas celebration on Dec. 26, 2014 at the Tehran home of Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz.

Naderi was given a 15-year sentence and a two-year ban on July 3 and 4, which may include time already served, according to MEC.

Tamraz, who is an ethnic Assyrian Christian, and Asgari were both sentenced at the same time as Naderi to 10 years in prison and were also given two-year travel bans, according to MEC. Charges for Tamraz included “conducting evangelism,” “illegal house-church activities” and “Bible printing and distribution,” while those against Asgari included, “acting against national security” and “organizing and creating house churches.”

Tamraz was released on bail March 1, 2015, according to MEC, and Hadi remains in prison.

All have filed appeals against their sentencing.

Obtaining high bail amounts creates severe hardships on the families of detained Christians. By keeping Christians incarcerated for long periods, the government sends a threatening message of deterrence to other underground Christians, rights advocates said.

Three days after Naderi started his hunger strike, he released a letter to the judiciary condemning his treatment in prison.

“It has been a year now that I have tolerated all the insults from my inmates, the prison guards and you all, while I have not done anything wrong and have been deprived of basic needs. However, I have always prayed for you to be fair and just,” Naderi wrote, adding that he was hidden from international representatives when they visited the prison on July 5.

Along with procedural problems and intimidations, Christian converts also are protesting treatment such as lack of medical care and not being provided Christian literature, Cordman said.

Naderi went on a previous hunger strike in February, along with Asgari, after Asgari was not given medical care for a kidney infection. The two were also protesting delays in their case, according to CSW.

Shortly after their hunger strike ended, the head of the attorney general’s office visited Evin Prison and, during the visit, promised to deal with their case promptly, according to CSW. It was not clear if the promise was made as a direct result of the hunger strike, Cordman said.
Since Naderi’s recent release from prison, friends and family are praying and working on improving his deteriorated health, including weight loss and a blood pressure of 100/60, according to Mohabat News.

The physical deterioration of the hunger strikers and possible death can be a liability for the Iranian regime, Cordman said.

“Internationally it pressures them to show front and face to the international world to say they are upholding religious rights and are allowing religious freedom,” she said.

‘Insulting Islamic Sacraments’

Firoozi was given a sentence of more than five years in January for “acting against national security through collusion and gathering,” according to CSW.

He had served 10-month sentence for “propaganda against the regime,” “insulting Islamic sacraments” and “acting against national security” and should have been released in January 2015.

The 30-year-old’s physical and mental health has weakened in prison, according to Mohabat News, and he was not allowed to take leave to visit his sick mother.

He started a hunger strike on July 17 in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj.

Previous Hunger Strikes

The men are carrying on the tradition of previous prisoners, including Maryam Naghash Zargaran, who was arrested in January 2013 in connection with her work with a former prisoner and also charged with “acting against national security,” according to CSW.

Zargaran began her four-year sentence in July 2013 in Evin Prison. She started a hunger strike in July 2016 after the prison was not able to address her multiple health challenges, including a heart condition. She had been allowed to leave prison in June 2016 to receive treatment after posting a bond of $100,000 but was ordered to return later that month.

She reportedly ended her hunger strike in early August 2016 at the request of her family, according to CSW. She was allowed to receive treatment at the end of that month, but her furlough was cancelled on Sep. 17 when she felt she could not meet with the stipulated terms. She was allowed to receive treatment again in December 2016, but on her return five days later she was informed that 42 days had been added to her sentence.

On Aug. 1 she was released after serving her four-year term.

In Christian support organization Open Doors’ list of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Iran had a score of 85 out of 100 in the 2017 World Watch List, leaving it ranked eight out of 50.

“House-church leaders, anyone in a leadership position is mostly targeted,” Cordman said. “They know the leader might be connected to other Christians, and by taking the leader, they’ve dismantled the church.”

Because Armenian and other ethnic churches are not allowed to have Farsi-speaking worship services, a house church is the only option for a Christian convert in Iran, and pressure on these churches has gradually increased.

Various aid and rights groups affirm that the underground church is growing in Iran despite the crackdown. As many as 450,000 Iranians are worshipping Christ within Iran’s borders, according to Open Doors, and other organizations believe the figure could be as high as 1 million in the country of 80.3 million.

“In the past 10 years or so, there has been worse treatment of religious minorities, specifically Christian converts,” Cordman said. “That is probably because church has been growing as well. More people are coming to Christ.”

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

(Updated August 6, 2017)

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© 2017 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.

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Buddhists in Burma Attack, Injure Newly Converted Christians  http://morningstarnews.org/2017/07/buddhists-burma-attack-injure-newly-converted-christians/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/07/buddhists-burma-attack-injure-newly-converted-christians/#respond Sun, 30 Jul 2017 22:11:02 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6978 YANGON, Burma (Morning Star News) – About 150 angry Buddhists and monks this month attacked newly converted Christians in Burma (Myanmar), destroying their homes and property and injuring seven people. In Thi Taw village in northwest Burma’s Sagaing Region, the mob threw stones and broke into houses on July 6, two days after two families put […]

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One of the ruined houses of the Christians attacked in Thi Taw village. (Morning Star News via Soe Thura Hlsaing)

One of the ruined houses of the Christians attacked in Thi Taw village. (Morning Star News via Soe Thura Hlaing)

YANGON, Burma (Morning Star News) – About 150 angry Buddhists and monks this month attacked newly converted Christians in Burma (Myanmar), destroying their homes and property and injuring seven people.

In Thi Taw village in northwest Burma’s Sagaing Region, the mob threw stones and broke into houses on July 6, two days after two families put their trust in Christ and left Buddhism, a local official told Morning Star News. Four women and three men who were hit with stones and sticks and suffered injuries on their heads, faces and backs. Three motorbikes were destroyed.

The Buddhists told local press that the Christian villagers sang and preached late into the night to celebrate and welcome the new Christians. The local Buddhists told Morning Star News that the Assembly of God Church members, visiting from neighboring Chin state, held services for three days, prompting them to attack on the third day.

The two converted families are ethnic majority Burman who put their faith in Christ on July 4.

Prior to the attack, a monk in Thi Taw told the worshiping Christians to be quiet and stop making noise late at night, several residents told Morning Star News.

“They made noise every night when neighbors were asleep,” a local Thi Taw official, Soe Thura Hlaing, told Morning Star News. “They were clapping, and dancing until late at night. On the third day, neighbors were angry and went to attack them. They took sticks and stones with them.”

As is common in Burma, the Buddhists made unfounded accusations that the Christians gave money to the two Buddhist families to convert to Christianity.

“I don’t know whether they were given money,” Hlaing told Morning Star News. “But what I know is that they were attacked because they were converted to Christianity.”

Several witnesses told Morning Star News that the mob got very angry after local police and local authorities tried to stop them from attacking the Christians’ houses. Police shot into the sky to warn and frighten the assailants, which only further infuriated them, and they destroyed the Christians’ furniture and other belongings, besides beating them, Hlaing said.

“When we turned on the torch [light] toward them [the assailants], they threw stones also toward us,” said Hlaing, who tried to help police stop the attackers. “So a policeman in our group fired the gun in the air three times. When they heard gunfire, they become more aggressive and threw more stones at us.”

Unable to stop the attack, he and police asked other monks to help them, he said.

“When the monks arrived, we shouted for them not to throw stones,” Hlaing said. “And the monks took pastors and injured people and sent them to local clinics.”

Christian families have relocated to a compound belonging to a local church until their houses can be rebuilt.

The Chinland Guardian reported that the attack was well-organized, as local monks and authorities brought villagers in five vehicles to hurl stones at the Christians’ homes, where the worship services were taking place. The attack reportedly lasted four hours.

Monks and authorities tried to pressure the newly converted Christians to return to Buddhism by making them choose between “re-conversion” and being banished from the village, local press reported.

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

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Sudan Orders Christian Schools to Operate on Sundays http://morningstarnews.org/2017/07/sudan-orders-christian-schools-operate-sundays/ http://morningstarnews.org/2017/07/sudan-orders-christian-schools-operate-sundays/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 22:10:15 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6971 JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – In an ongoing campaign to rid the country of Christianity, officials in Sudan this week ordered all Christian schools in the capital to regard Sunday as a work day, sources said. The Ministry of General Education of Khartoum State sent a letter dated July 26 (Wednesday) ordering all Christian schools […]

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Workers tear down church building in Omdurman, Sudan. (Morning Star News)

Workers tear down church building in Omdurman, Sudan. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – In an ongoing campaign to rid the country of Christianity, officials in Sudan this week ordered all Christian schools in the capital to regard Sunday as a work day, sources said.

The Ministry of General Education of Khartoum State sent a letter dated July 26 (Wednesday) ordering all Christian schools in the Khartoum area to stop regarding Sunday as a public day off, effective immediately.

“In order not to affect the educational process and the ongoing plan, we ask you not to observe Sunday holiday,” the ministry’s Awadia El-Sheikh Saleh Omer wrote in the letter.

Sunday is considered a working day in Sudan, but traditionally Christian schools have not operated on their day of worship and rest. Fridays and Saturdays are public days off in Sudan, which has a sizeable Muslim majority.

The move prompted widespread outrage and led many Christians in Sudan and around the world to view it as another means of harassment and discrimination against Sudanese Christians.

“The government’s decision to abolish Sundays for Christian schools is discrimination against Christians in Sudan,” said a Sudanese church leader whose name is withheld for security reasons.

Sudanese Christians are calling on rights groups and the Vatican to intervene. Other voices are calling for national prayer and fasting.

The move comes at a time of increased government pressure on ethnic and religious minorities in Sudan. On May 7, the last remaining church building in the Soba al Arabi area outside Khartoum was demolished.

A church elder died on April 3 from injuries sustained in a raid on an embattled Christian school by supporters of a Muslim business interest in Omdurman, Sudan, sources said. Younan Abdullah, an elder with Bahri Evangelical Church, died in a hospital after being stabbed while he and others were defending women at the Evangelical School of Sudan, Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC).

Christians had staged a protest against the attempted seizure of the school by a Muslim businessman, they said. Police from the Omdurman Central Division along with a group supported by Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment arrived at the school first and arrested all the men in an attempt to hand it over to the businessman, they said.

Advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) confirmed that after the arrests, about 20 men, including members of a committee the government has illegally imposed on the SPEC, arrived at the school with knives and other weapons and began to beat the women.

“Several men from the nearby Bahri Evangelical Church rushed to the church to try and protect the women,” MEC leaders said in a statement. “The armed men attacked them, and two church members were stabbed.”

Elder Abdullah later died of his injuries, and a second church member, Ayoub Kumama, was treated at a nearby hospital and has been released, according to MEC.

Abdullah is survived by his wife and two young children.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. 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.

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.

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 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations 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/?   

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© 2017 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.

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