Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Mon, 27 Jun 2016 13:53:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Muslim in Eastern Uganda Burns 9-Year-Old Son for Accepting Christ, Sources Say http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-in-eastern-uganda-burns-9-year-old-son-for-accepting-christ-sources-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-in-eastern-uganda-burns-9-year-old-son-for-accepting-christ-sources-say/#respond Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:15:28 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5682 Nassif Malagara in hospital. (Morning Star News)

Nassif Malagara in hospital. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – The Muslim father of a 9-year-old boy in eastern Uganda who put his faith in Christ this month tied his son to a tree and burned him, sources said.

Nassif Malagara of the Kakira Parish area, Kisozi Sub-County, Kamuli District decided to become a Christian after a neighbor took him to visit a church in another village, undisclosed for security reasons, on June 5.

“At the end of the service, Nassif remained behind and then followed me to the church’s pastry room and requested that he wanted to receive Jesus as his personal savior,” the pastor of the church told Morning Star News. “I was a bit hesitant, but after his continuous press, I then prayed with him, and he left.”

Nassif subsequently declined to participate in any Muslim activities, including attending a madrassa (Islamic school), the pastor said. His father, 36-year-old Abubakar Malagara, and stepmother, Madina Namwaje, 35, became furious when they learned he had converted to Christianity, the pastor said.

The boy told Morning Star News that his parents prohibited him from eating, beyond the day-time fast of Ramadan, so that he went without food for two days before sneaking to his neighbor’s house for food. He brought food back to his home over the next few days, and on June 9 his father caught him eating.

“He started beating me up with sticks, but I managed to escape to a nearby bush,” Nassif said. “My father then followed me and got hold of me back to the homestead, where he tied me up to a banana tree. He went into the house and came back with a hot piece of wood. The banana tree had dry leaves, which caught fire and caused serious burns on my body.”

Neighbors heard his screams for help and rescued him, he said, and took him to Kamuli Hospital. The hospital’s Walwawo Zubari told Morning Star News that Nassif had burns on several parts of his body.

“Nassif has been recovering, but at a very slow pace,” Zubari said. “He might need to be referred to another hospital for specialized treatment.”

A relative told Morning Star News that she hopes to take custody of Nassif after his release from the hospital.

Area residents alerted Kisozi Police Post, and officers arrested Malagara, registering the case under reference number CRR044/2016. Malagara, who attends Nankaduro mosque, has been released on bail.

The neighbor (name withheld for security reasons) who introduced Nassif to the church said he fears for his life after receiving a threatening text message on his phone.

“We know that you are behind the conversion of Nassif to Christianity,” the message read. “You will soon reap what you have sown, which will be a lesson to others. Islam is against such conversion.”

The sender blocked his identity, but the neighbor said he suspects Malagara might have used another Muslim’s phone to send the message.

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.

Kamuli District is about 220 kilometers (136 miles) from Mbale Town in eastern Uganda. Nassif’s case comes after a Christian in eastern Uganda who had received death threats from Muslims after a religious discussion was killed on June 4. The body of Yokannah Zirinkuma of Kasasira village, Kibuku District, was found in a pool of blood in nearby Kadama village, near the home of the primary suspect. Zirinkuma was 50.

On May 15 in Kasecha village, Kibuku District, Micah Byamukama, pastor of Kasecha Baptist Church, died at Kabweri Health Centre after ingesting an insecticide that a Muslim villager was suspected of putting into his food. He was 61.

On May 8 in Mbaale village, Imanyiro Sub-County, Mayuge District, a Muslim strangled his wife to death for leaving Islam, relatives and neighbors said. Awali Kakaire, 34, allegedly killed Mariam Nakirya for embracing Christianity. She was 30.

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, 2015 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, 2015, 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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Hindu Extremists in India Beat 66-Year-Old Pastor Unconscious http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/hindu-extremists-in-india-beat-66-year-old-pastor-unconscious/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/hindu-extremists-in-india-beat-66-year-old-pastor-unconscious/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 20:03:15 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5671 Sheetala, Hindu goddess of healing popular in northern India. (Wikipedia)

Sheetala, Hindu goddess of healing popular in northern India. (Wikipedia)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A church in northern India remains closed more than a month after four masked Hindu extremists stormed a worship meeting and beat a 66-year-old pastor unconscious.

After prayer and song at his church in Naupur, Jaunpur District, Uttar Pradesh state on May 22, pastor Lalta Ram stood up to preach when the assailants with bamboo sticks entered from the back and began accusing him of forceful conversion as they beat him, sources said.

“Pastor Ram was beaten up severely on his body, hand, leg and head,” assistant pastor Vijay Bahadur told Morning Star News. “The cut in his head was two inches deep, and he started to bleed profusely and fell unconscious on the ground.”

About half of the people who gathered for the Sunday service in a makeshift tent started running in different directions, while those who remained were also attacked. When the pastor’s wife, Sushila Devi, and four women rushed to help him, they too were beaten.

Devi, 59, suffered wounds on her face, a broken hand and contusions on her back, and 15 other Christians sustained wounds and cuts. Pastor Ram, whose right hand was broken and who suffered a six-inch cut on his left hand, was hospitalized for five days.

Church members have since been too frightened to go worship services, said Pastor Ram, who has yet to completely recover physically and emotionally.

“Anybody who needs prayer and counseling can come over to my place, and if anyone needs a home visit, I will go and visit,” he said.

Hindu extremists had temporarily shut down the church earlier this year. On Feb. 28, Hindu extremist leader Raj Bhar and four policemen arrived at a church meeting, halted it, and took pastors Ram and Bahadur to a police station.

“The policemen at the station told us to close down the church and questioned us about whether we are forcibly converting anyone,” Bahadur said. “They further claimed that because of the church and the preaching, all the sorcerers in the area had lost their businesses, as the people no longer believed in them but in Jesus.”

About 200 Christians showed up at the police station, however, saying they attended the church of their own free will as they had found peace and healing in Jesus Christ, and that nobody lured or forced them, Bahadur said. The Christians persuaded police to release the pastors without charges.

“After this incident, the church was closed down for two weeks,” Bahadur said.

‘Sedition’

On the same day Pastor Ram was beaten unconscious, police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh arrested three evangelists on false charges of forceful conversion in the Satna area, sources said.

The harassment began in Aber village, when five people, including two policemen in civilian attire, threatened Christians before a worship service as other extremists berated them and shouted anti-Christian slogans, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI).

Later that day, as the Christians returned home from the prayer meeting, the same people blocked their vehicle, summoned evangelist V.A. Anthony to come out, slapped him and told him to leave the area, EFI reported. They continued trailing their vehicle along with another car full of Hindu extremists.

Anthony and two other evangelists, his wife Prabha Anthony and Praveen Choudhary, were then taken to the Kolar police station and into judicial custody. They were released on bail after two days.

The arrests came after Hindu extremists announced a campaign against churches in Satna, where a member of the Madhya Pradesh Backward Classes and Minority Welfare Department, Laxmi Yadav, was reported as saying that the Christians should be tried for sedition, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported. Yadav announced a campaign to stop Hindus from attending Sunday church services, saying pastors “trick them into conversion,” according to the GCIC.

Some villagers have reported that at the time of the arrest of the three evangelists, Hindu extremists including Yadav accompanied police, and that he remained with the officers until the court initially decided to deny bail to the Christians and place them in custody.

“Christians are living in an atmosphere of fear in Madhya Pradesh,” GCIC President Sajan George said. “The anti-conversion law is used to harass and intimate the Christian minority community, and the three innocent Christians are detained on false allegation of forced conversions.”

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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Jailed Advocate for Christians’ Religious Rights in Egypt Released on Bail http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/jailed-advocate-for-christians-religious-rights-in-egypt-released-on-bail/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/jailed-advocate-for-christians-religious-rights-in-egypt-released-on-bail/#respond Wed, 22 Jun 2016 21:01:18 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5665 Mina Thabet with charred cell phone of Copt killed on tour ferry set on fire by Islamists in Minya on Aug. 14, 2013. (Courtesy of Mina Thabet)

Mina Thabet with charred cell phone of Copt killed on tour ferry set on fire by Islamists in Minya on Aug. 14, 2013. (Courtesy of Mina Thabet)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – A noted Coptic human rights activist arrested in May and accused of belonging to a terrorist organization was released from prison Tuesday (June 21) after posting bail.

A judge in the Al-Wayly Court of Appeals on Saturday (June 18) set a 10,000 Egyptian pound (US$1,125) bail for Mina Thabet, 26, director of the Minority and Religious Groups Department at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). Attorneys for the state on Monday (June 20) lost an appeal against the decision to grant bail. Processing of Thabet’s release paperwork delayed his release until Tuesday (June 21), contrary to media reports claiming he had been released earlier.

Sitting at home hours after his release, Thabet said he was relieved to be out of prison.

“I am happy but angry for being arrested in the first place,” he said. “The feeling of being in prison for defending human rights and my country was ‘absurd.’”

Thabet is well-known across Egypt as an advocate for the country’s minority groups, primarily the Christian community, and he has worked tirelessly documenting persecution against the minority group and the government’s apparent apathy toward protecting Christians or resolving their problems. Because of his advocacy efforts, sources said, government authorities have singled him out and harassed him on multiple occasions.

Thabet had expected arrest because of previous threats from security agents working for the Ministry of the Interior.

On May 13, at 3 a.m., several heavily armed, plain-clothes security officers forced open the door of Thabet’s Cairo apartment and, without identifying themselves or producing a warrant, ransacked the apartment, verbally abused Thabet’s mother and brother and then forced Thabet into an unmarked car.

After the arrest, Thabet had to endure close to 12 hours of what he called “traditional Egyptian police treatment.” Thabet said he was slapped repeatedly, insulted and humiliated, then finally threatened with bodily harm including threats to attack him sexually.

The next day, after appearing in court, Thabet said that with the exception of not being able to go to the hospital for severe back pain, his treatment improved. He was moved to a holding cell in a Cairo police station, where he spent much of his time alone, segregated from prisoners accused of non-political crimes.

Security officials have accused Thabet of a litany of crimes, including membership in a terrorist or banned group and inciting terrorist attacks on police stations. He also has been accused of using threats of violence to prevent the president from performing his duties, inciting youth to use force to overthrow the government, using the Internet to incite a terrorist act, inciting protests, spreading false information about the country meant to disrupt public order and damage national prestige, harming citizens and the public interest and possessing documents that would incite people to overthrow the government and change the constitution.

The evidence against Thabet, according to Amnesty International, consists of an illustration of the Virgin Mary, a copy of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, papers on religious minority groups and a paper on Egyptian political party Bread and Freedom. The charges have not been sent to court for formal indictment, and no date has been set for another hearing.

If Thabet is tried and found guilty, the charges could carry a life sentence in prison.

Mohamed Lotfy, executive director of the ECRF, said the state contrived false accusations against Thabet as “a legal cover for arresting activists.”

Thabet has researched and reported on many of the numerous issues the Christian community faces in Egypt and is considered “one of the pillars” of human rights advocates in Egypt by Amnesty International.

Thabet has shed light on the de facto Dhimmi status of Copts in Egypt; unexplained slayings of Copts in the Egyptian military; the disproportionate numbers of Copts in Egypt that are kidnapped for profit; a long-standing epidemic of violence against Christians in Egypt; “weaponized” blasphemy laws being used against the Copts; discriminatory laws against Christians regarding building houses of worship; and numerous acts of persecution against those who leave Islam to embrace Christianity. Thabet was one of the founders of the Maspero Youth, a group of Coptic Christians seeking basic human rights and a member of the Coalition of Minority Groups.

Thabet said being imprisoned gave him deeper insight on the problems the Egyptian people are facing. While Thabet was imprisoned, two attacks took place against Coptic Christians in Egypt.

On May 20 in the village of Al-Karm in Minya Governorate, a mob of about 300 Muslims rioted following a rumor of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and Muslim woman. Sources said numerous Christian properties were attacked and, most shockingly, the mob dragged the mother of the Coptic man, a 68-year-old woman, into the street, stripped her naked and then beat her.

Numerous politicians, Islamic religious figures and media personalities claimed reports of the incident were untrue, but evidence from the scene collected by Copts led Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to issue a statement condemning the attacks and promise compensation for the damages and justice for the victims.

In a separate incident, on June 17 after noon prayers in the village of Amriya, south of Alexandria, a Muslim mob reportedly gathered outside a Coptic-owned construction site of a multi-story apartment building. The Muslim villagers accused the Copts of building a church and attempted to destroy the building.

As police looked on, according to local media reports, the mob assaulted Coptic men in the village, attacked and looted several Christian-owned homes and a Coptic community center, all while chanting, “Islamic, Islamic! Egypt will remain Islamic!” They also burned a motorcycle and vandalized a priest’s car.

Police later arrested six Muslims and six Copts, including the owner of the construction site. The Muslims were released with no charges, in time to break the Ramadan day-time fast, but the Christians were charged with holding prayers without permission and building without permit, then released the following morning.

“I had a lot of time to think and see what are the issues are, who I am defending,” Thabet said. “It gave me a taste of what they go through. It gave me more strength to defend human rights issues.”

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. http://morningstarnews.org 

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

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Catholic Priest Kidnapped in Nigeria Found Dead http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/catholic-priest-kidnapped-in-nigeria-found-dead/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/catholic-priest-kidnapped-in-nigeria-found-dead/#respond Wed, 22 Jun 2016 19:12:04 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5660 he Rev. John Adeyi, vicar general of Otukpo Diocese, Benue state, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. John Adeyi, vicar general of Otukpo Diocese, Benue state, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – The body of a Roman Catholic priest kidnapped two months ago in central Nigeria was found today in bushes near a local government building in Otukpo, Benue state.

A church leader at the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo told Morning State News by phone that the body of the Rev. John Adeyi, vicar-general of the Otukpo Diocese, was found earlier today. Unknown gunmen kidnapped him on April 24.

“The body was in decaying state, and policemen and Christian villagers are at the scene where the corpse was found,” the church leader, who requested anonymity, said two hours after the discovery. “They are currently making effort to move the corpse from the back of the Education Authority office in the town to a morgue.”

Speaking from the site where the body was found, the church official added that, “the body of the priest was dumped by his kidnappers at the place it was found.”

Adeyi was kidnapped at gunpoint while traveling from Otukpo to Ogbokolo for pastoral duties. His abductors contacted church officials and demanded 25 million naira (US$121,224) as ransom, according to a parishioner who requested anonymity. Some 2 million naira (US$9,700) had been paid, according to one unconfirmed press report.

The kidnappers had contacted the bishop of Otukpo Diocese to demand the ransom, the church member said.

“The kidnappers used the mobile phone of the Very Rev. Adeyi to contact our bishop,” he said.

Adeyi also served St. Bernard’s Catholic Parish, Okpoga in Okpokwu.

The bishop of Otukpo Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Michael Apochi, could not be reached for comment as he was said to be involved in the evacuation of the corpse.

Paul Yakadi, police commissioner of Benue state, confirmed the death of Adeyi but declined to give further details.

In a sermon at an event in Abuja in October 2011, Adeyi urged Catholics to always pray for their priests because of the many challenges they face. Preaching at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro Cathedral, Garki, Abuja, on Oct. 28, 2011, Adeyi said that in spite of the many challenges, priests will not give up but are determined to run the race of faith to the end.

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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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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Government in Egypt Fights Efforts to Repeal Controversial ‘Blasphemy Law’ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/government-in-egypt-fights-efforts-to-repeal-controversial-blasphemy-law/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/government-in-egypt-fights-efforts-to-repeal-controversial-blasphemy-law/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 19:00:44 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5654 Engraved image at Temple of Kom Ombo, Egypt. (Wikipedia)

Engraved image at Temple of Kom Ombo, Egypt. (Wikipedia)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – Parliamentary efforts in Egypt to repeal the country’s equivalent of a “blasphemy law” are facing stiff opposition from the Ministry of Justice.

The ministry’s representative to parliament, Chancellor Ayman Rafah, this month told the People’s Assembly that the administration opposed efforts to eliminate the constitution’s Article 98F, which criminalizes any expression “for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.”

The three “heavenly religions” in Egypt are Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but the law is almost always used against those who criticize Islam. Conviction carries a sentence of six months to five years in prison and a fine of 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$55 to US$110).

Rafah told the People’s Assembly on June 12 that dropping Article 98F would violate a constitutional prohibition against inciting hatred against people of a revealed religion, a crime “punished by the law.” The Egyptian government considers irreverent speech a form of incitement.

Rafah also said that limits needed to be placed on some sorts of expression. A spokesman for the ministry later told media that repealing the article would be “unreasonable.”

Members of Parliament Nadia Henry, Mohamed Zakareya Mohi El-Din and Mona Mounir earlier submitted a draft law to remove Article 98F from the constitution. The three MPs and their supporters said the statute is vague, contrary to the constitution and gives too much discretion to judges, who issue draconian punishments against Christians in what amount to show trials.

Supporters of Article 98F, mostly Islamists and government officials, say the law is meant to dissuade and punish those in Egypt who use religion to instigate “strife and division” or spread “disdain and contempt for any of the revealed religions or the sects belonging thereto.” Judges sometimes dismiss the limits of punishment under Article 98F and issue much harsher sentences.

Mohamed El-Messiry of Amnesty International told Morning Star News that the article should be dropped completely. While he sees the need for laws against speech explicitly meant to incite violence, he said the law is not used that way because of its overly broad nature and elements in Egyptian society.

“There should be an [obvious] line between critiquing religion and inciting violence. The problem lies with the subjective element of the judges and the police,” he said. “Basically they are very sympathetic toward Muslims, but they are not to the other side with Copts.”

Ehab Ramzy, a lawyer and former MP, agreed that the statute gives judges and police too much leeway in deciding what can be prosecuted. Many cases that should never see the inside of a courtroom, he said, are pursued very aggressively.

“When you have a [well-crafted] law, the law will have definitions and boundaries of each article,” Ramzy said. “But in this article there is no such thing, so the definitions and the boundaries are left to the judge and the police to identify.”

Various parties enforce the law based on their culture, education and background, he said.

“Everybody enforces this article based on their point of view – some may say insulting a religious figure is a kind of blasphemy or that it’s insulting the religion itself,” he said. “This article is not fair.”

In response to the ministry’s opposition, the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee is seeking input on the statute and possible reforms from Al-Azhar Mosque, the noted group of Islamic scholars Dar al-Iftaa and the Coptic Orthodox Church. After consultation with the three groups, the committee will prepare a report on the statute to be submitted to multiple government agencies and the public.

Human rights activists in Egypt and abroad roundly say that the blasphemy statute is a violation of the country’s constitutional provisions for freedom of religion and expression, that it violates basic standards of human rights and is most often used to stifle free speech or as a weapon by members of the Sunni Islamic majority to attack religious minorities, such as Coptic Christians. Ramzy said the blasphemy law is being used as “a form of jihad.”

“It has become a sword to be used against certain people. For example, if you hate your work partner, you can share something on their Facebook and this can be used as evidence of blasphemy to get rid of the person,” Ramzy said. “If you want to get rid of your neighbor, you find a way to accuse them of blasphemy, using an ordinary insult as evidence.”

Since the Egyptian constitution was passed in 2014 by referendum, there have been numerous, high-profile blasphemy cases filed against Coptic Christians on charges that were either fabricated or completely false, human rights activists said.

Coptic teacher Demyana Abd al-Nour, 27, was sentenced to six months in an Egyptian prison on June 15, 2014 after she lost an appeal of an earlier conviction of violating Article 98f. Al-Nour originally had been sentenced to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (US$14,270), an exorbitant amount that her family could not pay. The judge in the Luxor Court of Appeals, Chancellor Ahmed Abd-Al Maksoud, replaced the fine with the prison sentence.

According to her accusers, while teaching a history class Al-Nour disputed the purported uniqueness of Islam’s proclamation of being a monotheistic religion. They also claimed that Al-Nour compared the late Coptic Pope Shenouda III in favorable terms to Islam’s founding prophet – allegedly going so far as to make a gesture of disapproval when speaking the prophet’s name, Muhammad.

From the start, the accusations were riddled with inconsistences and seemed to be religiously motivated, human rights activists said. Three students claimed that Al-Nour had spoken against Muhammad or made rude gestures against him, but between the three students, the testimony identifying what gesture she allegedly made and what she allegedly said did not match up, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

Also, the rest of the students in the class, 10 in all, said she never even mentioned the late pope or Muhammad. One of the students who testified against Al-Nour was later found to be absent from class the day the alleged incident took place, according to Egyptian human rights group The Maspero Youth Union.

In another case, a judge on June 24, 2014 sentenced Kerolos Shouky Attallah, 29, a Christian from Al-Mahamid village near Luxor, to six years in prison for “liking” an Arabic-language Facebook page administered by an anonymous group of Christian converts known as the Knights of the Cross. The Facebook page was designed to provide Arabic-speaking converts from Islam – many forced to live alone and in hiding – a virtual meeting place to encourage each other and safely discuss the Bible. Members also posted essays about Christian apologetics and entries about perceived errors and conflicts in the Koran.

Attallah’s attorney, Mohamed Ahmed Abd-Alaal, said Attallah did not make any comments on the site, share any of its postings or upload anything to it. Attallah promptly removed his name from the page once he realized the Facebook page offended some Muslims.

In another notable case, on Feb. 25, a court in Minya Governorate sentenced four boys then between 16 to 17 years old, to five years in prison for violating 98f by imitating Islamic prayer and the act of beheading someone in a 32-second mobile phone video filmed by their teacher. According to the boys’ lawyer, they were making fun of ISIS. The teacher was sentenced to three years in a separate trial.

In all the cases, violent mobs of Muslims rioted in reaction to the rumors of blasphemy, but no Muslim was ever charged with any crime in relation to the rioting, despite death threats, significant damage to Christian-owned property and physical injuries to Christians. The families of almost all those sentenced have faced massive financial losses due to legal fees and other costs associated with protecting the accused. Finally, all those found guilty have been forced to flee the country or are hiding in self-imposed, internal exile rather than go to jail, where conditions are deplorable and their lives would be in danger.

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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Christian Killed in Eastern Uganda after Religious Discussion with Muslims http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/christian-killed-in-eastern-uganda-after-religious-discussion-with-muslims/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/christian-killed-in-eastern-uganda-after-religious-discussion-with-muslims/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 14:03:56 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5647 Two daughters, 22 and 17, mourn the death of their father, Yokannah Zirinkuma. (Morning Star News)

Two daughters, 22 and 17, mourn the death of their father, Yokannah Zirinkuma. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Christian in eastern Uganda who had received death threats from Muslims after a religious discussion was killed on June 4, sources said.

The body of Yokannah Zirinkuma of Kasasira village, Kibuku District, was found in a pool of blood in nearby Kadama village, near the home of the primary suspect, an area source said. Zirinkuma was 50.

Well known in the area for evangelistic preaching in a marketplace by which several Muslims came to faith in Christ, Zirinkuma two weeks prior had engaged Muslims in Kasasira village in open debate that became heated. He later received a threatening letter from unknown Muslims.

“You should stop misleading Muslims, and if you fail to adhere to this, then you will face the judgment sword from Allah,” a letter in Arabic warned him. A former Muslim (name withheld) whom Zirinkuma had led to Christ interpreted the letter for him, the convert told Morning Star News.

The evening before his death, June 3, Zirinkuma attended a seminar at Kadama Church of Uganda, which ended at 5 p.m.

“Yokannah mentioned to me that three Muslims from his village followed him till he entered the church for the seminar, and that he did not know where they went after that,” pastor Samuel Keffa, who led the seminar, told Morning Star News. “He looked fearful for his life.”

After the seminar, a Muslim from Kadama village, Ibrahim Mwede, approached Zirinkuma as he was sitting and talking with the pastor. Mwede asked the pastor if he could interrupt to talk with Zirinkuma about his cassava business, and they began discussing it. Eventually Mwede hinted to the pastor that some villagers had some cassava they wanted to sell, and he asked if the pastor would mind if Zirinkuma went with him to talk to them about buying the cassava, which has an edible tuberous root.

The body of Yokannah Zirinkuma. (Morning Star News)

The body of Yokannah Zirinkuma. (Morning Star News)

Mwede told the pastor and Zirinkuma that he could spend the night at his house, as the evening was getting late, Pastor Keffa said. An elder in the Kasasira Church of Uganda, Zirinkuma went away with Mwede.

A church elder who is a neighbor of Mwede heard some commotion at about 3 a.m. near Mwede’s house, along with an unusual cry, Pastor Keffa said. Another neighbor told the church elder that someone had been killed and the body dumped a few meters from Mwede’s house.

Christians rushed to the site and found Zirinkuma’s body lying in a pool of blood, the pastor said. After they reported the case to police, officers arrested Mwede for interrogation.

A police officer told Morning Star News that Mwede has been charged with murder and has been remanded to jail for one year awaiting trial.

The body was taken to Kadama Hospital, where Dr. Fred Awiny conducted an autopsy. The autopsy concluded that Zirinkuma’s body showed signs consistent with murder – several injury marks suggesting a struggle, and ligature marks on the neck indicating he was strangled.

Zirinkuma, a widower, is survived by two daughters, ages 22 and 17.

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.

Mother Attacked

In another part of eastern Uganda, an Islamic sheikh (teacher) beat his wife with a blunt instrument after their 6-year-old daughter told him how she had been healed at a church service, sources said.

After finding out that his wife and their seven children had become Christians at a church service the previous day, 44-year-old Siraji Basalirwa attacked his wife on May 29 in Bulyangada village, Wairama parish, Mpungwe Sub-County, Mayuge District, sources said.

Siida Namaganda, 38, and her children visited Fountain of Living Water Church in Kasitaime on May 28 for special prayers for sick 6-year-old Kuraisi Waiswa. A pastor prayed for the girl, and she was miraculously healed, area sources said. Overjoyed, the mother and children, ages 3 to 14 including two sets of twins ages 9 and 12, decided to be followers of Jesus.

When the healed girl told her father the next day that they had attended the church, he became furious and started to beat his wife with a blunt object, area sources said. The children rushed to help their mother.

“There was loud screaming, and we rushed to Siraji’s house and found his wife bleeding,” a neighbor who requested anonymity told Morning Star News. “Her husband left for a nearby mosque. His wife told us about the healing of her child in the church, and how this attack had caused her pain.”

The neighbor took Namaganda and the children to the church site before her husband returned, but the sheikh and five other angry Muslims arrived looking for them, the pastor said.

“I saw them outside the church gate and sensed danger for the new converts,” he said. “I told the church guard not to open the gate, and after two hours they left. Early the next day, I sent her and her children to some church members.”

The mother and children are in hiding in another village. An area source said they are living in a tattered house with a thatched roof that leaks.

“The children are now unable to go to school,” the source said. “They need prayers, moral support as well as financial support as their situation looks very pathetic.”

Earlier this month, the woman’s husband sold their land and decided to buy property elsewhere, sources 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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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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Persecuted Rights Advocates in Vietnam Seek Help from World’s Democracies http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/persecuted-rights-advocates-in-vietnam-seek-help-from-worlds-democracies/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/persecuted-rights-advocates-in-vietnam-seek-help-from-worlds-democracies/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 11:33:52 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5642 Nguyen Van Dai. (Danluan.org)

Nguyen Van Dai. (Danluan.org)

(Morning Star News) – In 2006, the U.S. State Department removed Vietnam from its list of Countries of Particular Concern, citing the release of religious prisoners and the easing of religious restrictions. Two months later, the United States granted Vietnam permanent normal trade status, paving the way for Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization in January 2007.

As soon as the regime had secured its goals, however, it unleashed a crack-down. Among the first to be arrested was internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer and religious liberty advocate Nguyen Van Dai, a Protestant Christian.

Arrested on March 6, 2007, and deemed guilty of violating Article 88 of the criminal code – “conducting propaganda against the state” – Nguyen Van Dai spent the next four years in prison in Hanoi (to March 2011) followed by four years house arrest (to March 2015).

Dai, 47, was subsequently re-arrested on Dec. 16, 2015, as he was preparing to meet with European Union representatives who were in Hanoi for the annual EU-Vietnam

human rights dialogue. He is being held incommunicado, charged with violating Article 88, the maximum sentence for which is 20 years.

Denied access to her husband and fearing abusive treatment and unjust processes, Dai’s wife, Vu Minh Khanh – also a strong Christian and courageous religious liberty advocate – is seeking assistance from the world’s leading democracies.

On May 10, Khanh presented her testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith. She is now in Australia, traveling with Vietnam Voice. http://vietnamvoice.org/

Green Light for Repression

On May 23, while on an official visit to Vietnam, U.S. President Barack Obama lifted the decades-long embargo on selling lethal weapons to Vietnam without requiring any concessions in return.

This despite the fact that the Vietnam Humans Rights Act of 2015 states, “It is the sense of Congress that: it shall be U.S. policy that further easing of the prohibition on the sale of lethal military equipment to Vietnam shall require Vietnam to take additional and sustained steps to advance human rights protections.”

Smith called Obama’s move an “epic failure of diplomacy.” Phil Robertson, deputy director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch agreed.

“In one fell swoop, President Obama has jettisoned what remained of U.S. leverage to improve human rights in Vietnam – and has basically gotten nothing for it,” Robertson said.

In giving the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam exactly what it wanted without requiring anything in return, Obama has essentially given the party a green light to further escalate repression and persecution.

Consequently, religious liberty advocates hold grave fears for Dai and Khanh, especially as those fears are personified in the plight of pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and his wife, Tran Thi Hong.

Persecution Paradigm

The Rev. Nguyen Cong Chinh, a 45-year-old Protestant in the Central Highlands province of Gai Lai, has suffered systematic, violent persecution at the hands of Communist Party officials since 2003, when he protested ethnic-religious persecution and appealed for religious liberty.

Arrested on April 28, 2011, Pastor Chinh was sentenced on July 31, 2012 to 11 years in prison for violating Article 87 of the criminal code, “undermining national unity.” In prison, he has been subjected to lengthy periods of solitary confinement, numerous beatings, deprivations (including being denied the right to pray), and humiliating and traumatizing Cultural-Revolution- style criticism sessions that fuel inmate hostility against him.

Also targeted for systematic violent persecution is Pastor Chinh’s wife, Tran Thi Hong, for she too is a courageous religious liberty advocate.

On March 30 March, local regime officials forcefully prevented Hong from attending her scheduled meeting with a U.S. delegation led by David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large on International Religious Freedom. The meeting only went ahead after Hong managed to inform Saperstein that she had been ambushed, seized and escorted back home, at which point Saperstein intervened.

On the morning of April 14, however, officials abducted Hong from her home and took her to the office of the People’s Committee of Hoa Lu Ward, where she was interrogated and beaten by plainclothes agents for three hours, leaving her with injuries to her head, knees, legs, hands, and feet.

In May, Hong was forcibly dragged to the police station and interrogated on May 11, 12, 13, 27 and 28. On May 13, when her distressed 18-year- old son tried to protect her, he too was assaulted, strangled, bound and detained for the rest of the day.

Attracting Interest

The violent persecution of Hong and the re-arrest of Dai and have not gone unnoticed. On April 26, Amnesty International demanded “a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation” into “the alleged torture of Mrs. Tran Thi Hong.” https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa41/3911/2016/en/

On June 2, the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the government of Vietnam to stop the persecution of Hong, “who has been repeatedly arrested and tortured as retaliation for informing the international community of human rights violations against her husband, who is in prison for peaceful religious activities.” http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20054&LangID=

On June 7, a joint motion was tabled in the European Parliament requesting a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Vietnam: European Parliament resolution on Vietnam (2016/2755(RSP)) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B8-2016-0761&format=XML&language=EN

New Dynamic Creates Opportunity

China’s territorial expansion in and militarization of the South China Sea has Vietnam looking for friends and allies. This new dynamic gives Western democracies more leverage with Vietnam than they have had in years.

What post-Christian “progressive” Western elites need to understand is that in Vietnam, the church is integral to civil society and is at the center of virtually all humanitarian, pro-democracy, and human rights work.

Consequently, a strong defense of religious freedom is a highly strategic means of advancing humanitarian work, human rights advocacy, and capacity building to further democracy and liberty.

Elizabeth Kendal is a religious liberty analyst and advocate. The author of two books, she publishes a weekly Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, serves as the Director of Advocacy at Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) Canberra, and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology (MST). www.ElizabethKendal.com 

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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Muslim Gang in Nigeria Stabs Non-Muslim for Eating on Ramadan http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-gang-in-nigeria-stabs-non-muslim-for-eating-on-ramadan/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-gang-in-nigeria-stabs-non-muslim-for-eating-on-ramadan/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 19:45:11 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5637 Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering)

Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Young Muslim men stabbed a non-Muslim in Kaduna state on Tuesday (June 7) for failing to observe a day-time fast during the month-long Islamic celebration of Ramadan, according to local reports.

Francis Emmanuel Olokpo, who appears to identify as a Christian though his church affiliation was not immediately clear, sustained multiple wounds in the attack. At St. Gerard Hospital in Kaduna city, he told Vanguard newspaper today that he was recovering well.

“Nobody should worry over me,” he said, “I’m being taken care of very well, and by the grace of Christ, I shall leave here very soon.”

The 41-year-old carpenter said earlier this week that he had gone to a market to buy wood and returned to his workplace in Kakuri, where he was eating some food he had bought.

“As I was eating, about six Muslims came to ask me if I am a Muslim or a Christian, but I did not answer them,” he told journalists from his hospital bed this week. “They asked why I was not fasting, then I told them that I am not a Muslim. Before I know it, one of them slapped me. As I stood up, the rest came and surrounded me and started attacking me with knives.”

Olokpo said no one could come to his aid because of the dangerous cutlasses, knives and scissors they were using to attack him. He fell unconscious and didn’t know who brought him to the hospital, he said.

Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai visited him on Wednesday (June 8) at the hospital and later told reporters that his administration would not accept the use of force and coercion to compel others to embrace religious beliefs.

“Nigeria is a free country, and that means no imposition of faith or religious practices on anyone,” El-Rufai said. “We should not allow differences in faith to be a barrier to harmony or a cause for conflict. Nobody can impose a tenet of his faith on another person. The decision to observe any religious activity is the prerogative of the individual.”

El-Rufai directed police to investigate the attack and ensure that the assailants are arrested and prosecuted.

“The government will not allow anyone to get away with any crime using his or her faith as an excuse,” he said. The attack on Olokpo comes after the June 2 killing of a Christian woman by a Muslim mob in neighboring Kano state over an accusation of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

One factor contributing to such attacks is an intolerant Wahhabi-Salafi Islam that has crept into Nigeria in recent years, according to a study released this week by advocacy group 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. The report says the Wahhabi tradition has filtered into northern Nigeria through the influence of Saudi Arabia and Islamic charities.

“This shift to Salafism helps explain why a country that has had both Muslims and Christians, sometimes living as neighbors within the same community for hundreds of years, has not experienced this level of violence in the past, why religious identity is hardening, and why at least some Nigerian Muslims are willing to employ violence against both Christians and fellow Muslims who are seen as morally culpable given their perceived detachment to ‘correct’ forms of practice,” the report states. Outside support and funding has contributed to a revival of this hard-line Islam within many Islamic communities in northern Nigeria, though to what extent remains unclear, the report states.

“This ongoing Islamic revival in northern Nigeria is manifested in a shift towards Salafist interpretations, which emphasize stricter implementation of sharia and more simplified and ‘pure’ practices of Islam,” the report states.

The Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, said the attacks on Christians this month are unacceptable.

“The ugly things we have seen in the last one week are ungodly and totally unacceptable,” Kukah told reporters. “Somebody goes out to buy food and you attack him and say, ‘Why are you not fasting?’ It is totally unacceptable. The culprits must be arrested, tried and punished. There is no other way you can end this impunity.”

Sunny Oibe, director of National Issues of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said in a press statement the attack on Olokpo shows an intolerance among Muslims that is becoming endemic in Nigeria.

“The attack on the carpenter for allegedly eating when Muslims were fasting goes to show the level of intolerance of some people, particularly some of our Muslims,” Oibe said. “Even if somebody refuses to fast, nobody has the right to embark on such animalistic behavior of attempting murder. The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria is asking Nigerian security agencies to ensure that this matter is not swept under the carpet.”

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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Muslim Mob in Northern Nigeria Kills Pastor’s Wife on ‘Blasphemy’ Accusation http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-mob-in-northern-nigeria-kills-pastors-wife-on-blasphemy-accusation/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-mob-in-northern-nigeria-kills-pastors-wife-on-blasphemy-accusation/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2016 01:40:48 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5633 Kano Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. (File photo)

Kano Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. (File photo)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Nigerian officials scrambled to calm religious tensions after Muslims in Kano state on Thursday (June 2) killed a Christian pastor’s wife on a baseless “blasphemy” charge, according to reports.

Bridget Agbahime, a kitchen utensil vendor at Kano city’s Kofar Wambai Market, asked a Muslim engaged in ritual Islamic cleansing, identified as Alhaji Dauda, to move his ritual from her shopfront. She had had similar conflicts with the suspect.

On this occasion she politely asked him to move the ritual to a corner as she still had customers at the end of the work day, according to online reports. Dauda became upset but left after a crowd began to gather.

The National Helm reported that Agbahime and her husband, pastor Mike Agbahime of Deeper Life Bible Church in Kano, were later meeting with the market landlord about the persistent problem when Dauda and other Muslims returned and began chanting that she must die for blasphemy. The landlord pleaded for them to return later to talk about it, but they began stoning him, and he fled.

Shouting the jihadist chant “Allahu Akbar,” Dauda and the mob accused Agbahime of blasphemy against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, according to online news portal Ndibe.org. Pastor Agbahime tried in vain to protect her. The assailants overpowered the few policemen present, and Agbahime knelt and began to pray before she was beaten and clubbed to death, the National Helm reported, based on an interview with Pastor Agbahime.

The mob killed her before the arrival of the reinforcements that saved the pastor from being killed as well, according to online reports. Pastor Agbahime was said to have denied reports that the mob beheaded his wife.

“The murder of Bridget was planned and executed by these Muslims at the Kofar Wambai Market without any provocation,” a person identified as Odechukwu, claiming to be a native of Agbahime’s area in her native Imo state, in southern Nigeria, posted on Hope for Nigeria, which describes itself as Nigeria’s first Facebook community page. “She did not blaspheme their prophet or have any argument with them as is being reported.”

At a press conference on Friday (June 4), Musa Magaji Majiya, spokesman for the Kano State Police Command, confirmed the killing of the Christian woman.

“At about 4:30 p.m., there was a disagreement between the murdered woman and some traders bordering on religion,” Majiya said. “The woman was said to have blasphemed prophet Muhammad, which did not go down well with the people, and they decided to take the law into their hands.”

The Rev. Joseph Hayab, spokesman for the Northern Nigeria chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), issued a statement from Kaduna on Saturday (June 4) asserting that the suspect deliberately baited the murdered Agbahime.

“We got it on good authority that the slain woman never blasphemed the prophet Muhammad; that the mastermind of the killing was fond of always provoking the [now] deceased and so, on that fateful day, we learned, the said man was doing ablution in front of the woman’s shop and was cautioned – that was all.

“The man raised the alarm that she blasphemed prophet Muhammad. The man deliberately provoked the woman in question just to carry out that gruesome and barbaric act. All those that perpetuated the killing of the innocent woman must be fished out and brought to book.”

Hayab of CAN accused police of trying to downplay the murder.

Nigeria’s national police chief, Solomon Arase, said Saturday (June 5) that two suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder. He promised swift justice and called on community leaders to help in “dousing the tensions,” according to The Associated Press.

After a meeting with the Igbo community to which Agbahime belonged and with Christian and Muslim leaders on Friday (June 4), Kano Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje disclosed the arrest of suspect Dauda, according to the Nigerian newspaper The Whistler.

The killing over alleged blasphemy comes nearly five months after nine Muslims in Kano state were sentenced to death for blaspheming Muhammad. Kano state adopted sharia (Islamic law) in 2000, applying both civil and criminal Islamic law to Muslims, so that blasphemy can be punishable by death. Sharia is not meant to apply to non-Muslims in northern Nigeria, but the sentencing in Kano earlier this year is said to have emboldened Islamist vigilantes.

Kano is one of 12 northern states of Nigeria where sharia is in force in whole or in part.

The killing also comes at a time when the country’s National Assembly is considering expanding the jurisdiction of Nigeria’s sharia courts of appeal. The constitution limits sharia appellate courts to matters concerning family law, and the proposed changes would permit them to address criminal cases from lower sharia courts. Christians fear it could lead to Islamizing Nigeria.

Agbahime’s death marks the second time that a Christian has been killed on claims of blasphemy in Kano. In 1995, Muslims beheaded Gideon Akaluka was after a mob accused him of blasphemy.

Along with the Muslim governor of Kano, Sheikh Abdulwahab Abdalla of the state Council of Ulamas condemned the murder.

The governor made his statement after meeting with Islamic scholars, CAN executives, leaders of different ethnic groups and Pastor Agbahime on Friday night (June 4). State CAN Chairman Bishop Ransome Bello said the chapter was satisfied with resolutions adopted at the meeting, but the northern chapter’s Hayab reportedly said police are not doing enough to protect Christians and warned of a “looming religious crisis.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, through a statement by spokesperson Femi Adesina, described the killing as “sad and regrettable” and prayed that God would give Pastor Agbahime and other relatives the fortitude to bear the loss. He said justice would be done and urged people not to take the law into their hands.

Separately, a press statement from the Nigerian army said officers have intelligence that militants are planning to stage attacks on places of worship during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which starts today (June 5) in Nigeria.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.

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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Muslim Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria Kill Three Christians, Attack Another with Machetes http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-fulani-herdsmen-in-nigeria-kill-three-christians-attack-another-with-machetes/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/06/muslim-fulani-herdsmen-in-nigeria-kill-three-christians-attack-another-with-machetes/#respond Thu, 02 Jun 2016 19:42:07 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5622 Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering)

Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed three Christians in their home in the early hours of Tuesday (May 31) in Kaduna state, days after herdsmen attacked another area Christian with machetes, area sources said.

The armed herdsmen attacked Ninte village, Jema’a Local Government Area in the north-central state of Kaduna, at about 2 a.m. and burned a pastor’s house and those of others, a survivor told Morning Star News.

Zakka Kagoma, 40, and two other Christians yet to be identified were killed in their house where they were sleeping, said Naomi Sali of neighboring Andaha, one of hundreds of Christians from 14 villages who fled the area. A Jema’a LGA official confirmed the attack but said two persons were killed.

Sali, 45, and other residents escaped into the bushes, where she passed the rest of the night before finding her way to Jos, Plateau state to take refuge.

“There were gunshots throughout the night as we hid in the bushes,” she said. “They burned down houses, and set fire to the house of the pastor of ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] Church-Ninte, the Rev. Saleh Yamusa. He escaped with his family unhurt before the Fulani herdsmen burned his house.”

On May 25, she said, three Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked a 55-year-old area Christian.

“A Christian whose name is Ango was returning from his farm at about 5 p.m. when he was ambushed and attacked by a band of three Fulani Herdsmen,” she said. “Ango was pursued by three sons of the Ardo [Fulani leader] in the area. They captured him and dragged him to the bush close to a stream, where they cut him with machetes. He was left there unconscious as they thought he was dead.”

The three assailants went back to their home, packed up their belongings and relatives and fled the area, she said. Ango, treasurer of the Men’s Fellowship of the ECWA-Zakkan Local Church Council, was discovered by a pastor of a Baptist church in Ninte village who was returning from his farm.

“Ango was in pains and crying out after he regained consciousness,” she said. “The Baptist pastor who found Ango in a pool of blood met some Christian women who were also returning from their farms and requested they rush to the village to alert others for help to take him to the hospital.”

The victim was taken to Kafanchan General Hospital, where he has been recovering.

Sali added that on Sunday (May 29), armed men wearing police uniforms shot a woman from Angwan Anjo, near Ninte village in the thigh. She also was taken to Kafanchan General Hospital.

As a result of Tuesday’s attack on Ninte village, residents have fled from the predominantly Christian villages of Dangwa, Nandu, Zakkan, Farin Hauwa 1 and 2,  Mante, Gada Biyu, Golkofa, Angwan Anjo, and Akwa, “as there are threats from the herdsmen to attack them,” Sali said.

Kaduna and Plateau states have been plagued by such attacks for years, but in recent years there are signs that Islamic extremist groups are arming and/or accompanying Muslim Fulani herdsmen and inciting them in their tribal and economic conflicts with Christian farmers. The assaults on unarmed Christians have reached central-eastern states such as Taraba and Benue, as well as more southern areas.

Church leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.

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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