Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Fri, 27 May 2016 19:32:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Police in Pakistan Arrest Christian Victim of Beating, Blasphemy Accusation http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/police-in-pakistan-arrest-christian-victim-of-beating-blasphemy-accusation/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/police-in-pakistan-arrest-christian-victim-of-beating-blasphemy-accusation/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:37:12 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5594 Blasphemy allegations inflame Islamist passions in Pakistan. (File photo)

Blasphemy allegations inflame Islamist passions in Pakistan. (File photo)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan on Monday (May 23) jailed a Christian after Muslims upset that he tried to stop them from teasing girls beat him and accused him of posting blasphemous content on Facebook, sources said.

Hospital staff refused to treat Usman Liaqat after the beating, saying he had to first file a police report, but after the 32-year-old Christian reported the attack, police arrested him based on a blasphemy accusation filed by one of the Muslims who beat him, his wife said.

“Rather than arresting those who were involved in torturing my husband, the police promptly arrested Usman and took the injured man to the police station,” Farah Usman said.

Liaqat had left for work from his home in Nabipur village, Sheikhupura District in Punjab Province, on Monday (May 23) when a group of young Muslim men led by Ahsan Asmat beat him until he was heavily bleeding, she said. A local Muslim rescued Usman and took him to a nearby hospital, where staff members said he first had to file a police report before they would admit him, she said.

Liaqat told police how he had stopped a group of Nabipur village boys from teasing girls and posting their photographs on Facebook without the girls’ knowledge; how on Sunday (May 22), he went to the home of the father of one of the boys to show him the Facebook posts on his laptop; and how, rather than rebuke his son, the father, identified only as Zulfiqar, and his relatives pushed Liaqat out of their home.

Liaqat reported how Asmat and the other young men beat him the following day. As word of the incident spread, members of a local Muslim outfit organized a demonstration on Tuesday (May 24) demanding registration of a case against the Christian. Asmat and others filed a complaint against Usman with Factory Area Police Station accusing him of posting blasphemous texts on Facebook, his wife said.

“Please pray for the early release of my husband from this fake case,” Farah Usman said. “His only crime is that he had revealed the misdeeds of the boys to protect the honor of the girls of the village. He is already in great pain due to his injuries, and now the police send him to jail for a crime he hasn’t even committed, leaving us to the mercy of others.”

Sheikhupura District Police Officer (DPO) Sarfraz Khan Virk said that police had registered a case under the blasphemy law against Liaqat after villagers filed a complaint alleging that he had posted blasphemous text on a social networking website.

Initial investigations showed that the allegedly blasphemous texts were posted last year by another man who is now living abroad, officials said. Virk said the social media account through which the content was posted had been dormant for the last eight to nine months.

“We are trying to verify the account details, after which we will reach a conclusion,” he said, adding that police were also looking into Usman’s complaint of the violence against him.

The police official said that there was no record of any complaint filed against the person who had originally posted the content.

“Our investigation is continuing, and if it turns out that Usman is innocent, we will release him,” he said, adding that the First Information Report of the blasphemy case had been sealed on the orders of senior officials until the investigation is completed.

The investigating officer in the case, Rana Younis, told Morning Star News that the blasphemous texts were posted on Usman’s Facebook page a year ago, but that Usman said that they appeared on his timeline because someone had tagged him on the posts.

“According to Usman, the person who tagged him in the posts is not in Pakistan now,” Younis said. “We are investigating the case from all angles and will soon reach the bottom of things.”

Dismayed by the police decision to book Usman for blasphemy despite knowing the backstory to the accusations, Christian rights activist Napolean Qayyum said the case was a clear manifestation of how Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws are misused to settle personal scores.

“Another helpless man is being made to suffer needlessly for a crime he hasn’t committed,” Qayyum said. “Usman has three children and was earning a decent livelihood for them, but now life will never be the same for this family. He risks losing his job and may even have to relocate to another place when he comes out of police custody.”

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Pastor Re-Arrested in Sudan Could Face Capital Crime Charges, Sources Say http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/pastor-re-arrested-in-sudan-could-face-charges-calling-for-death-penalty-sources-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/pastor-re-arrested-in-sudan-could-face-charges-calling-for-death-penalty-sources-say/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 21:09:51 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5586 The Rev. Kwa Shamaal. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Kwa Shamaal. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Sudanese authorities on Wednesday (May 25) re-arrested Sudanese church leader Kwa Shamaal, who along with a denominational colleague could face charges calling for the death penalty, attorneys said.

Pastor Shamaal, head of missions for the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), was re-arrested in Khartoum after a National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) prosecutor interrogated him at security offices, they said. Pastor Shamaal and the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, SCOC vice-moderator, had been arrested from their respective homes on Dec. 18, 2015, with Pastor Shamaal released on Dec. 21 but required to report daily to NISS office, where he was held from 8 a.m. until midnight. That requirement was removed on Jan. 16.

On May 10 his colleague, Abdelrahim Tawor, was transferred from prison to a holding cell of a court for those facing crimes against the state, indicating to attorneys that his trial could come soon under fabricated charges of spying and other serious offenses calling for the death penalty. An attorney said Pastor Shamaal could face the same charges.

“The prosecutor who interrogated him told him that he was included with other church leaders who are accused of spying and other capital offenses,” he said.

Lawyers defending Abdelrahim Tawor said NISS, which has broad powers to arrest Christians, non-Arabs and other minorities without cause, typically concocts charges against church leaders of undermining the constitutional system, forming foreign organizations and spying.

Abdelrahim Tawor, along with other pastors, was arrested after attending a missions conference in Addis Abba, Ethiopia last year. Upset by the conference, NISS official interrogated Abdelrahim Tawor about accusations that those in attendance spoke of Sudan’s government persecuting Christians, a claim church leaders deny.

One church leader said the conference dealt only with how to carry out missions.

“We do not know why they are asking this question [about persecution],” said the church leader, whose name was withheld for security reasons. “Let us continue to pray for Rev. Hassan.”

Most SCOC members have roots among the ethnic Nuba in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan’s South Kordofan state, where the government is fighting an insurgency. The Nuba along with other Christians in Sudan face discrimination, as President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to introduce a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and Arabic language.

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 2016 report.

Sudan ranked eighth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 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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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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‘Accident’ Kills Evangelical Pastor, New Christian in Vietnam http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/accident-kills-evangelical-pastor-new-christian-in-vietnam/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/accident-kills-evangelical-pastor-new-christian-in-vietnam/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 17:39:33 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5583 Street in Vinh, Vietnam. (Quang Trung Vinh, Wikipedia)

Street in Vinh, Vietnam. (Quang Trung Vinh, Wikipedia)

VINH, Vietnam (Morning Star News) – On the evening of May 5, pastor Dang Ba Nham, his wife, and a church elder were praying on a roadside with a woman who had recently converted to Christianity in this city on the north central coast of Vietnam.

They stood in front of the property of the new Christian, Phan Thi Thanh Huyen, to ask God for His blessing in building a new house. As they were praying, a large pickup truck with red military plates veered across the street and ploughed squarely into the small group.

Pastor Nham was dragged about 15 meters and died at the scene. He was 56.

The new believer, Huyen, died of injuries the next day. Pastor Nham’s wife underwent complex surgery for serious neck and upper body injuries on May 9; she is weak, and her recovery uncertain. The church elder, Hoang Ngoc Hung, was transported to Hanoi by the military and has also undergone serious surgery. An attending doctor said his chances of surviving are no more than 20 percent.

Serving the Vietnam Good News Mission Church, Pastor Nham was an effective evangelist in Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh – probably the four provinces in Vietnam most hostile to the gospel, and the location of regular incidents of persecution. He had been recently warned to stop sharing his faith.

Mrs. Huyen had also faced strong opposition from relatives.

No one believes the trajectory of the vehicle across an oncoming lane directly into a group of people standing together was an accident, although some church reports published on the Internet use the term to avoid trouble. Staged “accidents” are a common way for authorities in Vietnam to take care of those they deem trouble-makers.

The funeral of Pastor Nham was held on May 8 at his church in Vinh. It was crowded to overflowing. The speaker at the very moving funeral service informed Morning Star News that some 30 young people stood in response to his question, “Who will take his place?” In this way, he added, those attending also received amazing courage and blessing to accompany their tears and deep grief in a place where being a follower of Jesus can carry a high cost.

Christians from all over Vietnam and Vietnamese around the world sent their condolences and some gifts to console the bereaved and help the injured.

Leaders of the Vietnam Good News Church reported their concerns about the accident to government officials, but redress in such cases is rare in Vietnam.

Earlier this year, pastor K’sor Kiem of an independent Montagnard church In Gia Lai Province died of injuries he received at the hands of police during a brutal 2015 Christmas Eve interrogation in which he refused to deny his Christian faith.

On May 19, ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Vietnam on May 22, Vietnam in a small gesture released the elderly and ailing activist, the Rev. Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, from a cumulative prison term of more than two decades.

Among the 100 or so human rights and democracy advocates remaining in prison is prominent evangelical attorney Nguyen Van Dai. Contrary to Vietnamese law, the activist has been held for five months without charges or trial and denied any visits by his wife.

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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© 2016 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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Infant Boy Killed in Sudanese Air Force Bombing of Christian Family http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/infant-boy-killed-in-sudanese-air-force-bombing-of-christian-family/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/infant-boy-killed-in-sudanese-air-force-bombing-of-christian-family/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 14:03:03 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5576 A relative of two children killed on May 1 in Heiban points to the site where a government bomb hit. (Nuba Reports)

A relative of two children killed on May 1 in Heiban points to the site where a government bomb hit. (Nuba Reports)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A Sudanese Air Force bombing of civilians in the Nuba Mountains town of Heiban on Monday (May 23) struck a Christian family, killing a 6-month-old boy and wounding six others, a rebel source said.

One of several bombs dropped from a Russian-made Antonov plane on the town in South Kordofan state killed infant Kacho John and wounded 4-year-old Kuku John, 7-year-old Zainab John and Kaka John, 20, of the Sudanese Church of Christ. Others injured were identified as Hafida Abdurahman Banat, 10, Hani Saeed Kori, 35, and Ismail Alnur.

A spokesman for the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N), which is battling government forces in southeastern Sudan, noted the bombing in a press statement on Facebook. There was no independent confirmation of the bombing as of this writing. The area’s predominantly black ethnic Nuba believe that since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, the government’s goal of quashing SPLA-N rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity.

Since April 2012, Sudan has dropped 4,082 bombs on civilian targets, according to Nuba Reports. This week’s killing follows bombing of Heiban on May 1 in which six children ages 4 to 13 were killed, including four from a Muslim family.

Church leaders said a government jet fighter dropped four parachute bombs at about 6 p.m., and one struck next to a foxhole where the children had taken cover. There are no military installations in the area.

“One of the bombs exploded at my house, and I knew my kids and other children were dead,” Al-Sheikh Abdelrahman Ibrahim Al-Toum told area journalists.

The other two children killed belonged to Yacoub Omar and his wife, Hanan Ismail, who was also wounded and received hospital treatment, according to Nuba Reports.

The attack triggered protests within Sudan as hundreds of people signed a petition calling for a halt to government bombing of civilians, Nuba Reports stated. The petition includes 620 signatories from 29 opposition parties, 31 civil society organizations and 560 individuals that “call for the re-awakening of the Sudanese national consciousness to take campaign actions in response to this crime … and make Heiban the last aerial bombardment against civilians,” according to Nuba Reports.

On April 17 a government Antonov plane dropped six bombs on the Nyukur area of Delami County, wounding three civilians, according to SPLA-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi. Civilians in Umserdiba were killed in shelling on March 24, killing 34-year-old Hawa Sabit, a member of the Sudanese Church of Christ and a mother of four, according to Lodi. An unrelated child, 7-year-old Mubarak Tutu, was reportedly wounded during the same attack but died en route to a hospital.

On April 3 Najala Omer, a Christian civilian, was killed when four bombs struck Hakima Medical Training School, according to an area journalist. Six others were wounded.

The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.

The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.

Ethnic Nuba, along with Christians, face discrimination in Sudan, where President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

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 2016 report.

Sudan ranked eighth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 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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© 2016 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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Hard-line Hindus in India Burn Christian, Set Fire to Houses of Others in Chhattisgarh http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/hard-line-hindus-in-india-burn-christian-set-fire-to-houses-of-others-in-chhattisgarh/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/hard-line-hindus-in-india-burn-christian-set-fire-to-houses-of-others-in-chhattisgarh/#comments Wed, 25 May 2016 14:32:09 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5571 Families driven out of Katholi village, in Chhattisgarh state, India. (Morning Star News)

Families driven out of Katholi village, in Chhattisgarh state, India. (Morning Star News)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – After deciding their gods were angry at them because neighbors had become Christians, Hindu villagers in Chhattisgarh state last month attacked 28 Christians, drove them from their homes and set their houses on fire, sources said.

Christians in Katholi village, Kanker District who were beaten and twice chased out from their homes by Hindu extremists returned on May 3 after police registered a case against 12 assailants and the hard-line Hindus agreed not to attack again. The Christians had fled their village on April 25 when the radical Hindus partially burned their houses after beating them at a public meeting.

“For a long time, the Hindu villagers had harbored hatred against the Christians and finally summoned them to a public meeting, told them to renounce Christ, beat them up severely and burned up their houses,” pastor Able Varghese told Morning Star News.

Prior to the attack, the assailants met and resolved that all area Christians should “reconvert” to Hinduism because their gods were angry over the villagers putting their faith in Christ.

“The Hindu extremists started performing all kinds of rituals in the village and threatened to harm the Christians, as they accused them of being the reason for their gods being silent and not responding to them, and they pressured the Christians to leave Christianity,” another Christian source told Morning Star News on the condition of anonymity.

As the Christians refused to renounce Jesus, the radical Hindus summoned them to a public meeting at about 9 a.m. on April 25, where they again demanded they renounce Christ.

“The Hindu extremists started to beat the Christians when they refused to renounced Jesus, paraded them back to their houses while they continued to beat them, burned their houses and threatened to kill them as well,” the source said.

Bruised and swollen, the four Christian families fled the village. Six people sustained major injuries, including 65-year-old Manganu Ram, whose ear was seriously injured. No children were attacked, and the wounded Christians received medical treatment at a health care center in Bhanupratappur, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Katholi, the source said.

The Christians took refuge in the homes of Christians in Kaviti, sources said.

The next day the Christians filed a police complaint and returned to their village, where they immediately encountered angry faces and verbal abuse.

“As the Christians reached the village, some started verbally abusing them, and later at around 9 p.m., the massed up extremists surrounded their houses, dragged them outside, beat them and told them to take back their complaint against them,” the source said.

The 28 Christians, including eight children, once again fled, reaching Bhanupratappur at midnight. For five days some were put up in a small church building in the village, and others in the homes of Christians, the source said.

With the help of the area Christian leaders, Korar police registered a case against the 12 attackers.

“The police made a compromise between the two parties, wherein the Hindu extremists agreed that they will not repeat any kind of attacks or discrimination against the Christians, and whereby the Christians also agreed to go back to their village,” Pastor Varghese said, adding that they returned in fear.

Tongue Burned

Similarly, 82 kilometers (50 miles) from Kanker in Sukma, Dantewada District, Hindu extremists on April 20 stopped two Christians on their way to a market and forcibly “purified” them with Hindu rituals, an attorney said. They later burned one of the Christians with hot coins on several parts of his body.

A 55-year-old Christian who goes by the single name of Jaisingh and his son-in-law were on their way to the market to buy vegetables when five Hindu extremists led by the village head, Praveshi Nath, stopped them and accused them of defiling their gods, attorney Sonsingh Jhali, coordinator of Alliance Defending Freedom-India’s Legal Aid Cell, told Morning Star News.

The hard-line Hindus told them that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ was not permitted to stay in the village.

“They surrounded them and said that the Christians need to be purified, and they forcefully applied oil and turmeric powder all over their bodies as a form of ritual cleansing,” Jhali said.

Some 35 villagers looked on during the assault as the two Christians were told to deny Christ. When they refused, the extremists took five coins, held them to a lighter and plied them to Jaisingh’s body.

“They put the hot coin on the backbone, leg, hands and tongue of Jaisingh,” Jhali said. “The harassment went on for about two hours, and thereafter they imposed a fine of 5,051 rupees [US$75] on him for being a Christian.”

Thereafter, some Christians arrived at the spot, rescued the two Christians and rushed Jaisingh to the hospital.

The Christian submitted a police complaint against the five attackers – Praveshi Nath, Rama Nath and three others identified only as Pandru, Sonu and Shitu. Police launched a case only against Rama Nath and another person, identified only as Aiyata, whose name did not appear in the complaint.

“We are extremely upset by the twisting of this matter,” Jhali said. “We are meeting the area superintendent of police, and we demand that the five attackers whose names are clearly mentioned in the complaint be arrested.”

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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© 2016 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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Baptist Pastor Poisoned to Death in Eastern Uganda http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/baptist-pastor-poisoned-to-death-in-eastern-uganda/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/baptist-pastor-poisoned-to-death-in-eastern-uganda/#respond Fri, 20 May 2016 15:52:33 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5566 Coffin of Baptist pastor Micah Byamukama. (Morning Star News)

Coffin of Baptist pastor Micah Byamukama. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim villager in eastern Uganda is suspected in the poisoning death of a pastor on Sunday (May 15), sources said.

Micah Byamukama, pastor of Kasecha Baptist Church in Kasecha village, Kibuku District, died at Kabweri Health Centre at 9 p.m. after ingesting an insecticide that Ahmed Mupere put into his food that evening, area sources said. He was 61.

Mupere was said to be upset with Pastor Byamukama, a fervent evangelist, after public discussions in which the pastor challenged his belief in Jinn, supernatural creatures in early Arabic mythology and later Islamic theology. The pastor had asserted that “the true God is the God of the Lord Jesus Christ, who conquered the power of Satan including the Islamic Jinn,” an area source said.

“He maintained that the Islamic Jinn are acts of Satan and should be denounced,” he said.

Last week unidentified persons whom neighbors believe Mupere hired attacked the pastor with knives. The pastor was wounded before the neighbors responded to his cries for help and rescued him, they said.

A widower with no children who lived with another member of the church, Pastor Byamukama was alone when he received a visit from Mupere at 7 p.m. on Sunday (May 15), five days after the knife attack. Feigning reconciliation as he dined with the pastor from a shared dish, Mupere secretly put poison on the food and stopped eating as Pastor Byamukama continued, a neighbor said.

Before he died, the neighbor said, the pastor told him, “Ahmed took a little food with me and then stopped. When I asked him why not continue with the food, he said he had eaten at his home, and that he wanted go back home because it was getting late.”

Shortly after Mupere left, the pastor began having stomach pains. He was rushed to Kabweri Health Centre, where the pain continued, accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, before Pastor Byamukama died, said the neighbor, who was with him at the hospital.

A hospital nurse who requested anonymity said that the pastor died from ingesting organophosphate, a highly toxic insecticide. It inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of acetylcholine, which functions as a neurotransmitter.

Police are investigating, and Mupere has absconded, an area source said.

Pastor Byamukama was an animist who believed in ancestral spirits before putting his faith in Christ. Formerly named Mukama, upon becoming Christian he changed his name to “Byamukama,” meaning “All for God.”

About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

The incident is the latest in a series of attacks by non-state actors against Christians in eastern Uganda, including other poisonings. On April 19, Muslims in Pallisa District beat and raped a young Christian woman for testifying that a mosque leader killed her father because of his faith, sources said. The imam at a mosque in Kanyumu village, Sheikh Musana Ibrahim, and two other Muslims killed Samson Mukama on Jan. 28, according to his daughter.

On April 4, a Muslim in Kachomo village, Budaka District, attacked his wife for becoming a Christian, telling a judge that Islam allows him to kill any apostate, sources said. Having moved to another village with their four children following an attack last year, Ntende Hawa, 38, said she was visiting her estranged husband to discuss child support when he questioned her about her faith and began strangling her. Her husband’s brother stopped the assault.

Threats from hard-line Muslims and the rape of her 13-year-old daughter forced a Christian mother of five children to flee their village in eastern Uganda in March, sources said. Amina Napiya, a 42-year-old widow, fled her home in Nakajete village, Budaka Town Council, on March 16.

Napiya and her five children fled after receiving a text message that the family would be killed for leaving Islam, she said. Napiya’s daughter was raped on Feb. 25 while fetching firewood a kilometer from their home at about 4:30 p.m., the widow said. Napiya believes relatives may have hired Taika Suleiman, arrested in connection with the alleged rape, to assault her daughter because of their faith, as her daughter told her that the rapist said, “This is the second warning to your mother for disgracing the faith of the Muslims.”

On Jan. 10, relatives of Abdu Nsera, a recent high school graduate in Katende village near Busede, Jinja District, beat him after finding out he had left Islam to become a Christian. They burned down a house they had built for him and have been searching for him after he fled.

On Jan. 27 in Numuseru village, Naboa Sub-County in Budaka District, the body of Laurence Maiso was found at his house, his head in a pool of blood. Four days earlier, Imam Kamulali Hussein had met him and his wife on a local road and told him, “Allah is about to send to you the Angel of Death in your house. Please prepare to meet him at any time.”

On Dec. 23, 2015, a pastor in eastern Uganda was hacked to death as he and other church members resisted an effort by Muslims to take over their land in Nansololo village near Mazuba, in Namutumba District, area church leaders said. Pastor Bongo Martin is survived by a widow and two children.

In another area of eastern Uganda, five underground Christians in a predominantly Muslim village, including a pregnant mother, died from a pesticide put into their food after a Bible study on Dec. 18, area sources said. The Bible study took place in Kachomo village, Kachomo Sub-County, Budaka District at the home of Hajii Suleiman Sajjabi, a convert from Islam who had begun the study with eight family members who had come to faith in Christ under his influence.

Four of Sajjabi’s relatives have died, as did a pregnant neighbor, according to area sources. A doctor at Mbale Regional Hospital said a postmortem test showed a substance known as Malathion, a low-toxicity pesticide, in those who had died. Though low-level toxic, Malathion when ingested quickly metabolizes into highly toxic Tomalaoxon.

Islamic extremists in eastern Uganda on Dec. 8 set a deadly trap for a Christian policeman who had left Islam, and the next day other hard-line Muslims kidnapped three children from another convert in a nearby village. More than 20 Muslim extremists in the Komodo area of Kadama Sub-County, Kibuku District, killed officer Ismail Kuloba at about 4 p.m. after he responded to an urgent call to intervene in a supposed land dispute between warring parties, an area Christian told Morning Star News. Kuloba was 43.

One of the assailants, Mudangha Kasimu, threw a stone that hit Kuloba in the forehead. Kasimu then shot him twice in the head, and he died as other Muslims were shouting, ‘Allah Akbar [God is greater],’” sources said.

About 12 miles east in Kabuna, near Budaka in Kaderuna District, a group of Muslim men from Pallisa on Dec. 9 kidnapped three children of Madengho Badir, a Christian convert from Islam, sources said. Badir, 42, arrived at his home in Kabuna Sub-County, Kabuna parish, at 10 p.m. to find 5-year-old Nabukwasi Shakira, 7-year-old Gessa Amuza and 10-year-old Wagti Musitafa missing.

An area source said a 14-year-old boy from Kabuna, Karami Hassan, was with Badir’s three children when they were abducted near their home. The boy said a group of Muslims from Pallisa were looking for Badir, and the boy led them to Badir’s children.

Outside of Kabeshai, near Pallisa, a Christian father of five who supported 10 children whose families had disowned them for leaving Islam was killed on Dec. 2. One of three men who attacked Patrick Ojangole reproached him for failing to heed a warning to cease his Christian activities before the Christian was killed, said a witness who was with Ojangole and escaped. Ojangole was 43.

On Nov. 12, the father of a young Muslim woman in east Uganda tried to beat her to death after she became a Christian, but community leaders intervened and limited him to disowning her, sources said. Kibida Muyemba learned that his 21-year-old daughter, Namusisi Birye, had put her faith in Christ at an evangelistic campaign held that day in Nandere village, Kadama Sub-County, Kibuku District, 41 kilometers (25 miles) west of Mbale, church leaders told Morning Star News. Birye and a man in the traditional dress of an imam confessed openly to receiving Christ, they said, and angry Muslims cut the event short.

On Oct. 19, 2015, Muslims in Kalampete village, Kibuku District who were angry at a Christian for leaving Islam killed his wife, a month after his brother was killed for the same reason.

Mamwikomba Mwanika, mother of three adult children and five others ranging in age from 17 to 9, died en route to a hospital after Muslims unknown to her dragged her from her home at about 9 p.m. and assaulted her, survivors said.

Her husband’s brother, Samson Nfunyeku, was killed in the village on Sept. 23 after flaring tempers cut short a religious debate he’d had with Islamic scholars.

In Nsinze village, Namutumba District, a Muslim beat and left for dead his wife and 18-year-old son on Aug. 11 after learning they had converted to Christianity, area sources said. Issa Kasoono beat and strangled his wife, Jafalan Kadondi, but she survived, said a source who requested anonymity. He said other relatives joined Kasoono in beating her and their two sons, Ibrahim Kasoono, 18, and Ismael Feruza, 16, though the younger son managed to escape with only bruises on his arm.

The wife of a former sheikh was poisoned to death on June 17, 2015 after she and her husband put their faith in Christ in Nabuli village, Kibuku District. Namumbeiza Swabura was the mother of 11 children, including a 5-month-old baby.

In Kiryolo, Kaderuna Sub-County, Budaka District on March 28, 2015, five Muslims gang-raped the 17-year-old daughter of a pastor because the church leader ignored their warnings that he stop worship services, she said.

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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Muslims in Pakistan Threaten Christians after Fatwa Issued against ‘Blasphemer’ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/muslims-in-pakistan-threaten-christians-after-fatwa-issued-against-blasphemer/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/muslims-in-pakistan-threaten-christians-after-fatwa-issued-against-blasphemer/#respond Fri, 13 May 2016 15:28:45 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5558 Pakistanis protest against blasphemy laws and violence against Christians. (File Photo)

Pakistanis protest against blasphemy laws and violence against Christians. (File Photo)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Muslims in Pakistan have told 300 impoverished villagers they must either produce a Christian accused of blasphemy, leave the area, convert to Islam or be killed, sources said.

Imran Masih, a 28-year-old resident of Chak 44 village in Punjab Province’s Mandi Bahauddin District, was accused on April 19 of keeping a “blasphemous” video clip on his cell phone. Area Christians said he is an illiterate man with no knowledge of the Internet.

Tensions flared after a local Islamist outfit issued a Fatwa (Islamic edict) against Masih and sanctioned his killing. Masih, a sweeper at a rural health center in nearby Bosaal, and his family have since fled the village. Some 44 Christian families are now left at the mercy of the 2,000-plus Muslim population, which has imposed a social boycott on the community after police thwarted an attempt to burn down their homes on May 6.

While some details surrounding the blasphemy accusation remain unexplained as Masih and his family were not available for comment, a Christian who represents the villagers told Morning Star News that Masih was accused of possessing a video clip offensive to Islam. Amir Yaqub said that Masih was working at the health center on April 19 when a Muslim pharmacy worker identified only as Bilal arrived.

“According to Masih, he had left his cell phone on a desk for charging the battery, and when he came to the room he saw Bilal and a couple of other men inspecting the device,” Yaqub said. “Masih told me that as soon as they saw him, the three men accused him of possessing a blasphemous video in his phone. The men later pounced on the Christian sweeper and beat him black and blue despite denials that he did not know anything about the video clip.”

Yaqub previously told a local Christian outfit that Masih had handed over his phone to a Muslim coworker, but in two interviews with Morning Star News, Yaqub clarified that he had been misinformed about that. He reiterated that Masih had left his phone unattended on a desk to charge the battery.

The Muslim assailants locked Masih in a room, Yaqub said, and from there Maish contacted his family through a second phone, informing them about the accusation against him.

“The family contacted the local Catholic church committee, and a delegation from the village immediately left for the health center where Masih was being held hostage,” he said, adding that he was part of the team that went to rescue Masih. “We assured the Muslims, including the doctor in-charge there, that no Christian could even think of committing blasphemy against Islam’s prophet, and that Masih, an illiterate man with no knowledge of the Internet, had been wrongly accused by his colleagues of downloading a sacrilegious sermon.”

Yaqub said that during the attack, Masih’s phone was destroyed.

“I am not sure how the cell phone [containing the alleged evidence against Masih] got damaged,” he said. “Some people say that Masih had himself smashed his phone on the floor in a bid to placate the angry Muslims, while some say that a Muslim coworker had thrown it on the floor in a fit of rage.”

Yaqub said the church committee managed to persuade the Muslims that Masih had no ill intentions towards their faith, and that they should pardon him.

“The in-charge of the health center agreed to let Masih continue working there, and the matter was apparently resolved in our eyes,” he said.

But Bilal, the pharmacy worker, approached an unnamed Islamist outfit based in Sargodha seeking a Fatwa against Masih, Yaqub said. The Islamist leaders there reportedly declared that even though Masih had not spoken anything blasphemous, possession of a sacrilegious video in his phone amounted to blasphemy, and that Masih was therefore liable to be killed.

Masih found out about the Fatwa when he went to work the next day, Yaqub said.

“He immediately fled the center and went into hiding, fearing that he might get killed by angry Muslims,” he said.

Bilal and other Islamist elements then reached out to the mosque committee of their village in Chak 44 and informed them about the incident. While Masih’s family, still in the village, was told to produce him before the committee, a local Muslim businessman announced a 1 million rupee (US$9,500) bounty on Masih’s head, dead or alive.

One of the mosque committee members, Riaz Ahmed Dhadhra, had proposed burning down area Christians’ homes if they did not hand Masih over to them, he said.

“They had even filled jerry cans with petrol and were about to launch an attack when someone asked them to first get evidence of Masih’s blasphemy,” Yaqub said. “We came to know that six or seven Muslims led by Dhadhra went to Bosaal the next day to find evidence against Masih, but no person at the center could authenticate the charge and kept passing the buck to each other.”

Nevertheless, the Muslims then concluded that by going into hiding, Masih had shown that he was guilty of blasphemy, he said.

“If he hadn’t escaped, the Muslims would have surely burned him to death,” Yaqub said.

On May 6, Dhadhra summoned a meeting of the mosque committee with committee Chairman Muhammad Tufail Ghumman present, he said. They decided that Muslims of Chak 44 and nearby villages would gather at the mosque after the Friday prayers that day and burn down all Christian homes to avenge the alleged blasphemy.

“Fayyaz Ashraf, a local Muslim who is sympathetic towards the poor Christians, tried to stop the mob from attacking our homes, but he was beaten up and left for unconscious,” Yaqub said. “Ashraf telephoned me from his cell phone and asked us to immediately vacate our houses as the situation was going out of hand. I informed the other Christian families, besides calling the police helpline.”

A large police contingent arrived in the village just in time to prevent the mob from burning down their homes, he said. Some Christian families had already left the village by then, fearing a repeat of attacks on Gojra in 2009 and Lahore’s Joseph Colony three years ago.

Dhadhra is regarded as hostile to Christians even though all of the 40-45 Christian families in the village have been serving area Muslims of as laborers since 1947, when they were first settled there by Christian missionaries.

Dhadhra and Ghumman, the mosque committee’s chairman, declined to comment to Morning Star News in spite of repeated attempts to reach them. Attempts to reach Punjab Minister for Minorities Affairs Tahir Khalil Sindhu regarding the government’s awareness of the crisis were unsuccessful as of this writing.

On details leading up to the cell phone incident, there are conflicting reports. Some claim that Masih had recorded a video of a colleague’s daughter’s wedding on his cell phone on April 16, which somehow led to an inspection of his device. Other reports suggest that Masih was in a relationship with a female Muslim co-worker, prompting other Muslim staff members to take revenge with a false accusation of blasphemy.

Police Doubt Accusation

According to Yaqub, the charge against Masih was first brought to the notice of Iftikhar Jhakkar, Masih’s supervisor at the rural health center.

Jhakkar, a monitoring and evaluation assistant at the center, had told local media that he was there when some of Masih’s colleagues accused the Christian of watching a blasphemous video on his cell phone. When a local media outlet asked if Jhakkar had verified the accusation, he said he had not checked Masih’s cell phone.

Jhakkar reportedly said he had urged his colleagues to not take the matter lightly and to ensure that Masih was punished if he had committed blasphemy.

Inspector Zafar Iqbal, officer in-charge at the local police station, told Morning Star News that an investigation revealed that the accusation against Masih had been cooked up by Jhakkar and another colleague, identified only as Manzoor.

Iqbal said that none of Masih’s colleagues admitted to having seen the alleged video on his cell phone. Each one tried to put the onus of providing evidence against Masih on the other, he said.

“It’s quite clear that no incident of blasphemy has taken place,” he said. “I have refused to register a case against Imran Masih and also warned the local Muslims and the mosque committee of stern legal action if they try to harm the Christians or their homes. I hope there will be no incident of violence in the village because of our intervention.”

The officer had immediately sent a police party to the village when informed about the mob’s plan to burn down Christian homes, he said.

Iqbal said he had no knowledge of the Christians’ claim regarding a social boycott against them.

“I am not aware of any social boycott of the Christians, but I will certainly look into this matter,” he said. “No one can force the Christians out of their homes just because one person is being accused of a crime for which there’s no evidence.”

Yaqub said that, as part of the boycott, no Christian was hired for wheat harvesting this season.

“We get wheat grains as compensation for our hard labor, and it caters to our food needs for the rest of the year,” he said. “Unfortunately, this incident has taken place just when wheat harvesting began in our village, and now the Muslims are punishing us by hiring Muslim laborers from other villages.”

Muslim shopkeepers are also denying Christians basic, everyday items, making their lives even more miserable, he said, and Christians are being pressured to renounce their faith or leave.

“Some local Muslim landowners are eyeing this as an opportunity to force us out of the village so that they can grab our homes,” he said. “We have been living among the Muslims for over 70 years. We work for them as bonded labor, use our hands to remove dung and filth and cultivate their lands, and this is how they repay our years of service – by forcing us out of our village.”

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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© 2016 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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Sudan Releases One of Two Church Leaders Arrested in December http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/sudan-releases-one-of-two-church-leaders-arrested-in-december/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/sudan-releases-one-of-two-church-leaders-arrested-in-december/#comments Tue, 10 May 2016 17:56:59 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5554 Telahoon Nogose Kassa. (File photo)

Telahoon Nogose Kassa. (File photo)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Sudan today released one of two church leaders jailed since December, sources said.

Telahoon Nogose Kassa, head of discipleship at the embattled Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, was released after Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested him without charges on Dec. 13, 2015, according to church members.

“Finally, Telahoon is released, thanks for your prayers and hope the rest will be released,” Kassa’s brother wrote on his Facebook page.

It was unclear why Kassa was released, but NISS can hold detainees for up to four and a half months without judicial review, according to Human Rights Watch. Sudan was also subject to a United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review on human rights abuses last week.

Historically holding wide-ranging powers to arrest people without cause, NISS was further empowered in January 2015 by amendments to Sudan’s constitution, which designated it a regular security force with a broader mandate to combat “political and social threats.” Said to be staffed by hard-line Islamists, NISS is known for its torture and other abusive tactics.

NISS agents went to the home of the 36-year-old Kassa the night of Dec. 13, 2015 and told him to report to their offices, sources said. When he went to a NISS office the following day, they said, officials arrested him and took him to a detention center in Khartoum.

NISS officials gave no reasons for the arrest, though they questioned him for five consecutive days about his relationship with a foreign missionary who had attended a discipleship class, sources said. They believe he was targeted for his Christian activities and his opposition to government interference with his church.

Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church has fought a government takeover of its property. Kassa’s arrest came four months after two South Sudanese pastors, the Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael, were released following eight months in prison on false charges of capital crimes due to their efforts to defend the church against the illegal sale of its property.

Michael, 49, was arrested in December 2014 after encouraging Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church; the church was the subject of government harassment, arrests and demolition of part of its worship center as Muslim investors have tried to take it over. Reith, 36, was arrested on Jan. 11, 2015 after submitting a letter from South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church leaders inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

A pastor with another church who was arrested in December remains in detention without charges. Authorities arrested the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, vice-moderator of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), at his home on Dec. 18, 2015. No charges have been brought against him, although NISS officials were said to have objected to his Christian activities.

NISS had also required another SCOC leader, the Rev. Kwa Shamaal, to report daily. He was arrested on Dec. 18 and released on Dec. 21 but had been required to report daily to a NISS office, where he was held from 8 a.m. until midnight. That requirement was removed on Jan. 16.

Many SCOC and other church members are from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, where the government is fighting an insurgency. Ethnic Nuba, along with Christians, face discrimination in Sudan, where President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

Shamaal’s church building was demolished in the Hai Thiba Al Hamyida area of Khartoum North on June 29-30, 2014. After bulldozing a Lutheran Church of Sudan (LCS) building on Oct. 21, 2015, authorities in the Karari area of Omdurman demolished an SCOC building on Oct. 27, 2015 without prior warning, church leaders said. Local authorities said the SCOC building was on government land, a claim church leaders adamantly denied. The SCOC church was established in 1998.

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. 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 2016 report.

Sudan ranked eighth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 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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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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Hindu Extremists in Uttar Pradesh, India Torture Christian Convert http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/hindu-extremists-in-uttar-pradesh-india-torture-christian-convert/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/hindu-extremists-in-uttar-pradesh-india-torture-christian-convert/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 19:37:37 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5548 Hindu extremists beat the soles of Joginder Gold's feet. (Morning Star News)

Hindu extremists beat the soles of Joginder Gold’s feet. (Morning Star News)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Police in India initially declined to take action after Hindu extremists tortured one Christian and severely beat another, sources said.

In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Hindu extremists in Tewardih, Varanasi who have long insisted that a 30-year-old convert from Hinduism, Joginder Gold, stop worshipping Christ took him to a farm house on April 9 and tortured him.

“They tied me upside down on a tree and started verbally abusing me for my faith in Christ and started to beat me on the soles of my feet,” Gold told Morning Star News.

One of the assailants beat Gold for three hours and then inserted a stick into his mouth while two others sat on his chest. During the assault, the Christian vomited blood three times before losing consciousness.

Thinking that he had died, the radical Hindus put Gold in a shallow pit and covered him with hay and leaves, an area church leader said. A villager who witnessed the assault took Gold into his home and called his family and police.

“The man lay Joginder on a Charpoy [traditional woven] bed and thereafter put the bed out on the road, and the villagers gathered up to see Joginder lying almost dead on the bed,” the Rev. Patsy David [Editors: pastor is male] told Morning Star News.

Police took Gold to a government hospital. When area Christian leaders submitted a police complaint against the assailants, however, officers took no action and instead cast into question the legality of Gold’s conversion, asking when he had converted and “who converted” him, said Pastor David.

Area Christian Leaders visit Joginder Gold in hospital. (Morning Star News)

Area Christian Leaders visit Joginder Gold in the hospital. (Morning Star News)

Gold told police that Jesus Christ healed his sister from an illness eight years ago, and that after seeing the love and healing touch of Christ, his family put their trust in Him and chose to follow Him, the pastor said.

Area Christian leaders later approached higher officials, who assured them that action would be taken against the attackers, and a high-level investigation has begun, he said.

“The injuries he suffered on the soles of his feet were so severe that they affected the veins in his head, and he suffered severe head pain along with severe pain in his chest, thigh, arm, buttock, upper back and left calf,” Pastor David told Morning Star News.

Gold initially was not able to talk, and at this writing he was still not able to walk properly. After six days of treatment at the district hospital, he was transferred to a private hospital and was discharged after 20 days.

The six Hindu extremists had stopped him at about 11 a.m. in Tewardih, Varanasi as he was on his way to a market to sell vegetables; they accused him of robbing the vegetables from their farm house, Pastor David said. When Gold denied it and told them he would take them to the person who had sold him the vegetables, one of the radical Hindus put him on his bike on the pretense of taking him to the seller but instead took him to the farm house.

The radical Hindus, who are from a high caste, have long harassed Gold and his family because of their faith in Jesus Christ, Pastor David said.

“For the past two years, they tried to implicate Joginder in a false case and told him to stop worshipping Christ or that he will pay for it,” he said.

Accused, Beaten

On the same day in Saidpur Garur, Jaunpur, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Varanasi, Hindu extremists severely beat a 57-year-old pastor, sources said.

In an apparently pre-planned attack at about 10:30 a.m., three radical Hindus on motorcycles came to the Indian Pentecostal Church, asking for pastor Samuel Marikuda Joseph, who was overseeing construction of a new church building at the time.

The pastor approached the three people and asked them what they wanted, and they replied that they wanted to know about God. Sensing their intention and seeing that they were drunk, Pastor Joseph told them to come back later and that he would talk with them when they were sober.

They insisted that he explain to them immediately, and then they began denigrating him and his faith, said the pastor’s son, Sijo Joseph.

“The three people told my father to simply leave the village and to stop conducting worship services,” he told Morning Star News. “They shouted, ‘Bharat mata ki Jai [Victory for Mother India],’ and they started to kick, punch and beat him with sticks.”

A Christian who was part of the construction team tried to help the pastor, but the Hindu nationalists struck and threatened him. They then pushed Pastor Joseph into the side seat of a motorcycle and took him away.

They accused him of forcible conversion and beat him, his son said.

Meantime, area Christian leaders and relatives of the pastor called police. At about 2 p.m., the assailants brought the pastor to the police station – with a deep cut on his lip and other wounds and abrasions all over his body.

“Initially, the local police refused to take our complaint and told us to leave the area and go back to our native place, Kerala,” Sijo Joseph said. “They even told us rewrite our complaint and delete many of the details.”

Area Christian leaders intervened, however, approaching higher officials and submitting a fresh complaint against the attackers. Police registered a case against the Hindu extremists, but they absconded, and no arrests have been made as of this writing.

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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© 2016 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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Bill in Kaduna State, Nigeria Would Criminalize Street Evangelism, ‘Offensive’ Preaching, Clergy Say http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/bill-in-kaduna-state-nigeria-would-criminalize-street-evangelism-offensive-preaching-clergy-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/05/bill-in-kaduna-state-nigeria-would-criminalize-street-evangelism-offensive-preaching-clergy-say/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 20:52:19 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5540 The Rev. George Dodo, chairman of Kaduna State chapter of CAN. (Aid to the Church in Need)

The Rev. George Dodo, chairman of Kaduna State chapter of CAN. (Aid to the Church in Need)

KADUNA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Street evangelists would be fined and “offensive” preaching at church services would send pastors to jail for up to two years under legislation proposed by the Muslim governor of Kaduna state, church leaders said.

As discussion of the legislation heated up in the past month, Christian leaders voiced alarm over the bill Gov. Nasir El-Rufai sent to the state assembly last October, which would also require clergy to obtain a preaching permit renewable every year. Church leaders said the Religious Regulation Bill, which would apply to all religions including Islam, is a ploy to stifle and persecute Christians under the guise of quelling extremists and charlatans.

“The proposed law is in contravention of the Nigerian Constitution and shall inhibit the preaching of the gospel when it becomes operational,” the Rev. George Dodo, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Roman Catholic bishop of Zaria Diocese, told Morning Star News. “We have reservations over the bill and believe that it will curtail religious freedom of the people, particularly, Christians in Kaduna state.”

Under consideration by the Muslim-dominated Kaduna State House of Assembly, the bill stipulates that clergy would lose preaching rights if the state government or its agencies consider any of their words to be offensive. Preachers found guilty could be imprisoned for up two years or fined 200,000 naira (approximately US$1,000), or both.

Besides criminalizing street evangelism and confining all preaching to be carried out within church walls in the predominantly Muslim north-central state, the bill forbids the playing of evangelistic tapes and CDs in public places. Violators would be subject to a fine of up to 200,000 naira.

In recent round-table discussions, Christian leaders said that the legislation is unnecessary as all churches or ministries in Nigeria are already registered by the federal Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Sections 2, 3 and 5 of the bill are unconstitutional in that they mandate regulating religious groups that are already registered under federal requirement, some Christian leaders noted.

“The danger in Nigeria is the manipulation of structures and institutions by strong individuals,” said the Rev. Evaristus Bassey, director of Caritas International, speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at a press briefing in Abuja on April 19. “Thus, the fear is that even if the proposed bill contains good aims, the proposed restrictions would play into the hands of officials of state who have a hegemonic mentality and would allow them the freedom to persecute one religion in favor of another.”

Bassey said the principle of separation of state and church/mosque in Nigeria’s secular constitution would be “severely battered if this bill is pursued in the way it is.”

“Gov. El-Rufai, who is quite dogged in the pursuit of anything, given this tool, would pursue ardently both what is good and what may be divisive,” Bassey said. “We advise that Kaduna state rely on existing laws and existing state instruments of law enforcement to maintain religious harmony in Kaduna state, instead of reinventing the wheel.”

The bishops asserted that most people in Kaduna state appear to be opposed to the legislation.

In a discussion with journalists last month, El-Rufai defended the bill, saying it is designed to curb the rising wave of religious extremism in the state.

The law would empower the CAN and its Islamic equivalent umbrella group, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (Society for the Support of Islam, or JNI), to check strange ideological beliefs that are contradictory to teachings of both the Koran and the Bible, he said.

“The state government will not be responsible for issuing any license to preaching bodies or a new preacher who just surfaces,” El-Rufai said. “A committee that will consist of clerics nominated by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam and the Christian Association of Nigeria will issue religious bodies permits, depending on their faith.”

He emphasized that the government would not be issuing licenses.

“It is a committee of an umbrella Christian body and an umbrella Muslim body [that would issue the licenses],” he said. “We will just have an inter-ministerial committee checking once in a while and keeping records.”

El-Rufai said the law is needed not only in Kaduna state but in many others in Nigeria.

“I want to assure you, we just came back from the Economic Council meeting, and a handful of governors asked me to send them our own law because they feel they also need it in their states,” he said. “Everybody is watching to see how we will handle our own.”

Lack of regulation of religion has led to the cycle of death and destruction in the state, he said.

“I believe that before you start preaching in any religion, you should have gone through a system of education, training and some kinds of certification, because even doctors have to be certified, and doctors are regulated – those who only deal with the physical life. What about those that deal with the spiritual?”

El-Rufai said he was saddened that some Christians preach things that are contradictory to biblical tenets. The bill is meant to ensure that those who are given the opportunity to preach are knowledgeable and responsible, he said.

“This is our goal,” he said. “We don’t have anything against anybody or any religion.”

If the assembly passes the bill, it would begin to be enforced as soon as El-Rufai signs it.

Solomon Musa, a Christian community leader in Kaduna state, said in a press statement that the government needs to curtail incessant attacks on Christian communities by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen instead of further burdening them with an anti-Christian law.

“We also want to tell the governor that he goofed when he said that no killing took place in southern Kaduna in the last six months,” he added. “On March 24, a Christian, one Mr. Daniel, was shot dead in his house around 7 p.m. in Antor, Aboro District of Numana Chiefdom, Sanga Local Government Area.”

In the same month, another Christian was butchered in Ancha Gida, Ancha District of Ninzo chiefdom on his farm by suspected Fulani gunmen, Musa said.

“Again, another Christian man was killed last December on his farm by suspected Fulani herdsmen at Yaute, Wasa District of Numana chiefdom,” he added.

The Rev. Johnson Suleman, general overseer of Omega Fire Ministry, a Pentecostal group in Nigeria’s Niger Delta city of Auchi, appeared to believe the bill was destined to pass when he said in a YouTube video posted on March 13 that El-Rufai was trying to use it to intimidate Christians.

“Revoke this law,” the Pentecostal pastor demanded.

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