Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:01:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Indonesia Faces Defining Moment in ‘Blasphemy’ Protests against Christian Governor Ahok http://morningstarnews.org/2016/12/indonesia-faces-defining-moment-in-blasphemy-protests-against-christian-governor-ahok/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/12/indonesia-faces-defining-moment-in-blasphemy-protests-against-christian-governor-ahok/#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:31:59 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6203 Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. (Wikipedia)

Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. (Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News) – Having concluded their investigations, Indonesian police have now named Jakarta’s ethnic Chinese Christian Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama a suspect in a blasphemy case. The case that has produced virulent protests will now to go trial.

Islamic fundamentalists are now demanding he be arrested and incarcerated, as is normally the case with blasphemy suspects in Indonesia. As tensions soar, debate swirls around whether the charge is political or religious. Ahok himself is certain he is not guilty of blasphemy. Not wanting to blame Islam, he maintains the charge is purely political and is confident that any testing of the charge will see him acquitted. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s fundamentalist Islamic clerics are certain Ahok has indeed blasphemed, giving them exactly what they were looking for: a means of removing him from the gubernatorial race.

Ahok’s political opponents are merely riding the wave, exploiting Islamist outrage for their own benefit. On Feb. 15, 2017, Jakartans will go to the polls to elect a new governor in a high-stakes election.

Politics

It will be a three-way race pitting incumbent Ahok and Deputy Gov. Djarot Saiful Hidayat against the Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno and Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni tickets. Analysts are expecting a two-round contest.

Ahok, the early favorite and frontrunner, is backed by Megawati Soekarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Anies Baswedan, the former culture and education minister, is backed by Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra Party and the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono is backed by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (i.e. his father’s) Democratic Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the United Development Party (PPP).

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has commented that it “feels like a presidential election.” In an Oct. 6 piece entitled “Not Just Another Election” for the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Dr. Dirk Tomsa comments: “The deep involvement of Jakarta’s most powerful party leaders in the nomination process certainly indicates that this election has implications for the national level, not least the 2019 presidential election. But apart from reorganizing power and patronage in the capital, the Jakarta poll will also yield critical insights into other aspects of electoral politics in Indonesia, especially the nature of campaigning and voter mobilization and, given Ahok’s background as a Christian ethnic Chinese, the salience of ethnic and religious sentiments among the Indonesian electorate.”

Religion
Indonesia’s fundamentalist Muslims have long opposed Ahok. Elected as deputy governor in 2012, running with Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”), Ahok ascended to the governorship in the wake of Jokowi’s 2014 election to the presidency. In a foretaste of things to come, Jakarta’s Islamic hardliners – led by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) – were quick to protest, vowing to resist the “kafir” (unclean), “infidel,” “devil” governor.

With early polls showing Ahok the clear frontrunner, Islamic fundamentalist clerics moved quickly to remind Muslims that it is a sin for Muslims to vote for non-Muslims, citing verses such as Sura 5:51 . . . Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies [awliya : allies/friends /guardians/leaders] . . .” And as linguist and Islam expert the Rev. Dr. Mark Durie notes, “In Indonesian translations of the verse, 5:51 is rendered, ‘do not take Jews and Christians as your leaders (pemimpin-pemimpinmu).’”

In a commentary piece entitled, “Violent Protests in Indonesia Blow an Ill Will for Religious Tolerance” (10 Nov.), Durie refers to “Ibn Kathir, an authoritative medieval commentator on the Qur’an, [who] explained this verse as follows: Allah forbids his believing servants from having Jews and Christians as allies or patrons, because they are the enemies of Islam and its people, may Allah curse them.” According to Durie, Ibn Kathir makes it clear that the only valid law is sharia (Islamic law); that only a Muslim can rule over Muslims; and that anyone who looks to an infidel for political or legal direction should be considered an infidel – an apostate.

As tensions escalated, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News film crew led by Indonesian correspondent Samantha Hawley visited the Al Furqon mosque in central Jakarta. Cleric Alwi Wahid’s message was clear: “Be careful on the judgment day,” he preached. “God will ask you, why did you choose the infidel as the leader, while I have warned you not to. Believers should not choose a non-Muslim as their leader,” he said before warning the congregation that there would be “bad consequences” for those who vote for a non-Muslim.

The believers, said Hawley, seemed convinced. “I refuse to vote for Ahok,” one man told ABC. “I am a Muslim and Ahok is an infidel, that’s it.”

Mohammad Siddik of the Indonesian Supreme Council for Islamic Propagation told Hawley: “Muslims call the people not to vote for Ahok because we are also guided by our faith, by the Koran.” He also warned that a non-Muslim being elected to the governorship could lead to instability.

Indonesian Islamists are receiving strong support from transnational Islamists. On Oct. 29, photographs appeared on social media of non-Indonesian and fully armed members of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, (previously known as the al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, Syria) holding signs that read “Sentence Ahok or We Will Sentence Him with Bullets,” and of jihadists standing in front of a large wooden box labelled “Ahok’s Coffin.” On Nov. 4, as Indonesian Islamists prepared to rally in the street of Jakarta, Islamic State (IS) used its messaging services to encourage supporters to use the rally “to fan the flames of jihad” across the country.

On Nov. 27, National Police hinted that some radical groups linked to IS were planning to infiltrate a Dec. 2 rally.

Ahok’s ‘Blasphemy’
The feisty, straight-talking Ahok ran into trouble when he responded to Islamist objections to his political ascent. In a speech to city officials on Sept. 27, Ahok made light of the clerics’ objections, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, you don’t have to vote for me because you’ve been lied to [or fooled] with Surat Almaidah 51 [Sura 5:51] and the like. That’s your right. If you feel you can’t vote for me because you fear you’ll go to hell, because you’ve been lied to [or fooled], no worries. That’s your personal right. These programs will go forward. So you don’t have to feel uncomfortable. Follow your conscience, you don’t have to vote for Ahok.” (translation by Sidney Jones)

By Oct. 5, video footage of the speech had gone viral on YouTube, and Islamic fundamentalists were claiming that Ahok had blasphemed against the Koran and the clerics.

On Oct. 10, Ahok apologized “to all Muslims and anyone who felt offended,” saying it was not his intention to slight Islam or the Koran. But it was in vain. Having taken up the sharia cudgel of anti-blasphemy, his opponents were not about to put it down.

On Nov. 1, the Lowy Institute published an important piece by Indonesia expert Sidney Jones. In her article entitled, “Why Indonesian extremists are gaining ground,” Jones slams Indonesia’s “spineless political leaders [who] have allowed extremists to seize the momentum and foment religious hatred against the governor.” She explains how the anti-Ahok campaign “brings together violent extremists, moralist thugs and powerful political interests. And because of the latter, no one dares challenge it.” She laments that conservative Muslim opposition to Ahok is no longer merely “noise in the political background” but a serious threat to Indonesian unity and security. She wonders why no one – not the president nor vice-president nor any pluralist politician – said “Let’s stop this in it tracks,” or did anything to try to cool tempers or even defend the constitution.

On Oct. 11, the day after Ahok apologized, the Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI) – Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body – held a meeting in which they determined that Ahok had indeed committed blasphemy and should be prosecuted.

Jones elaborates: “In a statement to the media, the MUI said:
• Surah al-Maidah [Koran, chapter 5] explicitly forbids non-Muslims from becoming leaders.
• Based on this surah, ulama are obliged to convey to all Muslims that it is obligatory to choose a Muslims leader.
• Every Muslim must understand the truth of this surah as a guideline for choosing leaders.
• To say that the prohibition against making non-Muslims leaders is a lie constitutes an insult to the Koran.
• To say that ulama who use Surah al-Maidah as their evidence for forbidding non-Muslims from becoming leaders are liars constitutes blasphemy toward ulama and the Muslim community.”

Possible Outcomes
Even before Ahok had been officially named as a suspect, some 100 lawyers had come forward to defend him. So as to maximize transparency, the trial will be open to the public and televised live. President Joko Widodo wants it over in two weeks.

Human Rights Watch campaigner Andreas Harsono told The Australian’s Amanda Hodge that he fears the country’s blasphemy laws have proven such an effective political tool that they will be used more frequently. “I think by next February, Ahok will be detained,” said Harsono. “I don’t think even the political forces that support Ahok can turn this around. I hope I am wrong.”

Speaking to Kate Lamb of The Guardian, Harsono said: “I have studied more than 200 blasphemy cases in Indonesia since it was written by President Sukarno in 1965. Over this 50-year period, I think there was only one case where the suspect was acquitted. I don’t think Ahok can survive this prosecution, he is very likely to end up in jail.”

According to Harsono, a newspaper editor was acquitted of blasphemy in 1968, while in 2012, Alexander Aan, a 30-year-old civil servant from Sumatra, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after he declared on his Facebook page he was an atheist.

“Indonesia had its chance to repeal its blasphemy laws — a legacy of the dying days of the Sukarno era,” Harsono notes. “The late, liberal Muslim scholar and former president Abdurrahman Wahid led an unsuccessful 2009 petition of the Constitutional Court, arguing the laws violated the enshrined right to religious freedom. His daughter Yenny says he was motivated by the escalation of blasphemy charges under successor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [SBY].

“The Setara Institute says 15 blasphemy cases were tried from 1965 to 1998. In SBY’s 10 years in power, from 2004 to 2014, some 51 cases were tried, with a 100 per cent conviction rate.”

Pitan Daslani, a senior political analyst for the Jakarta Globe, writes (8 Nov.): “Objectively, Ahok can only be punished if proven guilty according to Article 156A of the Criminal Code, which stipulates the parameters on defamation of religion … Article 156A of the Criminal Code prescribes a maximum five-year jail term for anyone who ‘utters feelings or commits acts intentionally that [a] contains enmity, misappropriation, or defamation of a religion’ and ‘[b] has the intention to prevent others from adhering to any religion that is based on belief in one God.’ These two factors must be fulfilled to justify his perceived offense.”

While the situation is indeed dire, some political analysts believe Ahok could still manage to turn the situation around.

“Of course,” surmise analysts at Coconuts Jakarta“even if Ahok plays his cards perfectly, there is still the chance that he could lose in court and be found guilty of blasphemy, landing him in jail and almost certainly putting an end to his political career.

“But let’s not forget that Ahok is among the savviest politicians in all of Indonesia. Before he came to Jakarta, he was incredibly popular as the regent of East Belitung, a province with a much higher percentage of Muslims than Jakarta. With a heavily publicized trial, he will have a platform to not only defend himself but also essentially campaign to the whole of Jakarta and Indonesia on a nearly daily basis.

“His loose lips might have gotten him into this mess, but Ahok’s sharp tongue may yet get him out of it and ultimately win him the race.”

Watershed Moment
Whatever the outcome, this is a watershed moment for Indonesia. Indonesia will either appease Islamists and further Islamization, or it will resist Islamists and reject Islamization.

At the end of ABC’s 7:30 Report report, Samantha Hawley asks Abu Jibril, leader of fundamentalist activist group Majelis Mujahidin, what he thinks of the idea that a Christian could one day be president of Indonesia?

“If Ahok does not get the punishment he deserves, [and it’s] not according to the demands of Muslims, then Muslims will get angrier,” responds Jibril. “And when they get angrier, we don’t know what will happen.”

Originally published in Elizabeth Kendal’s Nov. 29 Religious Liberty Monitoring.” Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016)See www.ElizabethKendal.com

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Muslim Extremists in Egypt Torch Coptic Christian Homes, Businesses http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/muslim-extremists-in-egypt-torch-coptic-christian-homes-businesses/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/muslim-extremists-in-egypt-torch-coptic-christian-homes-businesses/#respond Wed, 30 Nov 2016 21:04:27 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6198 Sohag Governorate, Egypt. (Wikipedia)

Sohag Governorate, Egypt. (Wikipedia)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – Dozens of Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt are rebuilding their lives after Muslim extremists on Friday (Nov. 25) attacked them on suspicions that they were converting a meeting hall and community center into a church building.

After noon prayers in Al-Nagameesh village in Sohag Governorate, a group of Muslims set ablaze the community center for the elderly. They then moved on to the village, where they looted and attacked more than 10 homes and a handful of businesses, all Coptic-owned, with Molotov cocktails and stones.

The fire gutted the events hall and left other buildings in ruins, according to human rights activists who requested anonymity for security reasons. Four Copts were slightly injured in the attack.

Because there is no church building in the village, the events hall and community center was the focal point for Al-Nagameesh’s minority Christian community of about 2,000 people. Funerals, weddings and sometimes prayers were held there. A village priest identified only as Father Marqrious reportedly said that the building also had a nursery inside.

The problems started three days before the attack, when Marqrious held a service at the center to mark the one-year anniversary of his father’s death. For unknown reasons, Muslim villagers who heard about the service thought the center was going to be changed into a church building, according to human rights advocates.

Two days before the attack, Muslim extremists went through the town handing out leaflets rejecting the establishment of any church building in the village and demanding faithful Muslims attack the hall and center.

The mob blocked firefighter access to the village and cut off the water supply, and firefighters were unable to reach the burning building until police showed up and suppressed the rioting crowd with tear gas. Police arrested 29 attackers, later releasing 15 of them. Fourteen remained in custody Wednesday (Nov. 30) pending an investigation.

Later on Friday (Nov. 25), the governor of Sohag, Ayman Mohamed Abdel Monaem, ordered a reconciliation meeting among the Christian and Muslim elders of the village to calm tensions.

The attack in Al-Nagameesh came three months after parliament passed a law regulating the building of churches in Egypt. The Egyptian government celebrated the law, but human rights advocates said it merely codified discriminatory standards between Muslims and Christians in Egypt for building houses of worship.

“The new law allows governors to deny church-building permits with no stated way to appeal, requires that churches be built ‘commensurate with’ the number of Christians in the area, and contains security provisions that risk subjecting decisions on whether to allow church construction to the whims of violent mobs,” according to a statement from Human Rights Watch.

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Former Muslim Sheikh in Eastern Uganda Attacked for Embracing Christianity http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/former-muslim-sheikh-in-eastern-uganda-attacked-for-embracing-christianity/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/former-muslim-sheikh-in-eastern-uganda-attacked-for-embracing-christianity/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:48:45 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6191 Malik Higenyi has been unable to return to his home. (Morning Star News)

Malik Higenyi has been unable to return to his home. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Muslim villagers in eastern Uganda on Nov. 23 destroyed the maize crops of a former Islamic sheikh (teacher) in eastern Uganda who was beaten unconscious after revealing his faith in Christ, sources said.

The day before his fields were destroyed, 30-year-old Malik Higenyi of Bufuja village, Butaleja District, received threatening messages on his mobile phone, he told Morning Star News.

“Be informed that you risk your life and that of the entire family if you happen to come back to your house,” read one anonymous text. “We curse you and your family. You are an apostate according to Islamic law, and you deserve to die.”

Higenyi, who along with his wife and two children secretly embraced Christ on April 16, made an open confession of faith at his church on Nov. 13. News of his confession reached a mosque in nearby Lubanga village immediately, sources said.

“Before reaching my house, suddenly I was attacked by three people,” he told Morning Star News. “They started shouting, saying I am a disgrace to the Muslim fraternity of Lubanga mosque.”

Higenyi suffered a head wound and a broken bone in his right hand.

“The attackers hit me with a blunt object, and I fell down and did not know what happened from there,” he said. “I just found myself at Bufuja health center.”

Relatives ostracized him, and Local County 1 Chairman Walubi Mailadi supported their opposition to his conversion, sources said. Fearing attacks, he and his family have been unable to return to their thatched-roof home.

The family received Christ when a local pastor (name withheld for security reasons) visited his home and discipled him the following months.

Since Higenyi’s public confession, Muslims from Lubanga mosque have been holding meetings to discuss his punishment, and after Friday prayer meetings they have issued harsh statements against apostates, sources said.

Higenyi and his family are now without a home and have taken refuge at an undisclosed location.

“Please pray for Higenyi’s family at this difficult time, for they are emotionally troubled,” the pastor told Morning Star News.

The attacks are the latest in a series of aggressions against Christians in eastern Uganda. On Oct. 20, Muslims in Kobolwa village, Kibuku District gutted the home of a Christian family for housing two boys who had been threatened with violence for leaving Islam.

Stephen Muganzi, 41, told Morning Star News that the two teenaged boys sought refuge with him on Oct. 16 after their parents earlier in the month learned of their conversion, began questioning them and threatened to kill them. The two boys, ages 16 and 17, had secretly become Christians nearly seven months before.

On Sept. 18, a Muslim in Budaka District beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service, sources said. Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons.

On Aug. 10, a Christian woman in eastern Uganda became ill after she was poisoned, she said. Aisha Twanza, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, ingested an insecticide put into her food after family members upbraided her for becoming a Christian, she told Morning Star News. She and her husband, who live in Kakwangha village in Budaka District, put their faith in Christ in January.

In Busalamu village, Luuka District, eight children from four families have taken refuge with Christians after their parents beat and disowned them for leaving Islam or animism, sources said. The new-found faith of the children, ages 9 to 16, angered their parents, who beat them in an effort to deter them from sneaking to worship services, and on June 29 the young ones took refuge at the church building, area sources said.

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, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.

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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Life of Christian Imprisoned in Algeria for Blasphemy in Danger, Family Fears http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/life-of-christian-imprisoned-in-algeria-for-blasphemy-in-danger-family-fears/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/life-of-christian-imprisoned-in-algeria-for-blasphemy-in-danger-family-fears/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2016 18:59:49 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6185 Slimane Bouhafs was threatened by Muslim inmates. (Morning Star News via Facebook)

Slimane Bouhafs. (Morning Star News via Facebook)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – The daughter of an Algerian Christian sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of blaspheming Islam fears for his life, religious freedom advocates said.

Muslim prisoners reportedly planned to beat Slimane Bouhafs, 49, for defending his faith, and his health has faltered due to lack of medical care, the advocates said.

Although the date when the assault was set to happen is not publically known, advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) received the first reports about the plans on Nov. 14. A group of inmates planned to attack Bouhafs because he objected to the views of an imam who publically insulted Christians and Christianity in Algeria, MEC’s analyst on religious freedom in Algeria told Morning Star News.

“Bouhafs was defending Christianity, calling for more religious freedom and freedom of speech, which provoked the attempted attack,” said the analyst, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

An inmate who became aware of the plans warned prison guards, who separated Bouhafs from the inmates who sought to attack him before they could carry it out.

Bouhafs was initially imprisoned in a facility in Sétif and then transferred to a prison in Constantine Province, a region in eastern Algeria known for its religious conservatism. Bouhafs’ daughter, Thilleli Bouhafs, has petitioned the government to transfer him to Oued Ghir penitentiary, according to MEC.

“His family fears for his life and is reported to have made an application to move him to another prison nearer to his home town,” the MEC analyst said.

Bouhafs suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which causes extremely painful swelling of his joints. He controls the swelling by eating a special, controlled diet that is unavailable in jail.

“At the end of September when his lawyer saw him, and early in October when his daughter visited him, his daughter reported that he had severely lost weight to a degree where it was hard to recognize him,” the analyst said. “The lawyer said he looked very frail and weak.”

Because of Bouhafs’ deteriorating health, his family and the Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH) in October appealed for a pardon from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, without success.

On Nov. 19 the LADDH held a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Justice in support of the pardon appeal. Authorities explained that no officials were available to deal with their demands and ordered them to return another day. LADDH has planned another demonstration for Sunday (Dec. 4).

“The ‘support group’ of Bouhafs, which organized the demo, has called for another one on this date,” the analyst said. “The police who asked the demonstrators to go back mentioned to them that there are two days in which the Ministry of Justice accepts public petitions, Sundays and Wednesdays – the fourth of December is a Sunday.”

Bouhafs was arrested on July 31 under Article 144 of the Algerian Penal Code for posting a message on Facebook that characterized Islam as a “lie.” Bouhafs, who converted to Christianity from Islam in 1997 and was baptized in 2006, was sentenced on Aug. 7 to five years in prison and fined 100,000 Algerian Dinars (US$900). In September the sentence was reduced on appeal to three years, and the fine was dropped.

Article 144 has been condemned by numerous human rights organizations as a violation of international law. In its report, “Policing Belief,” pro-democracy group Freedom House said the article was commonly used to persecute Christian and allowed “police officials and judges to impose their own religious perspectives on society, and to give at least one version of Islamic practice the force of law.”

MEC’s specialist on Algeria said the blasphemy law was just one of the ways the Algerian government prosecutes converts from Islam.

“Although there are no laws against changing your religion in Algeria, there are several laws which discriminate against Christians in Algeria, especially the Decree of 2006, which governs worship by non-Muslims,” the specialist said. “It limits the ability of Christians to practice their worship, unless in places specially assigned for this purpose. But most important, this law prohibits the ‘shaking of the faith of a Muslim.’ Any discussion with a Muslim about Islam, which may fall under this category, can be punishable.”

Algeria ranked 37th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

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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© 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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Ethnic-Religious Cleansing Cited as Herdsmen Kill More Christians in Nigeria http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/ethnic-religious-cleansing-cited-as-herdsmen-kill-more-christians-in-nigeria/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/ethnic-religious-cleansing-cited-as-herdsmen-kill-more-christians-in-nigeria/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:15:20 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6180 Remains of house of slain ECWA member Daniel Akai by Muslim Fulani herdsmen. (Morning Star News)

Remains of house of slain ECWA member Daniel Akai. (Morning Star News)

GIDAN WAYA, Nigeria, (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed at least 12 Christians in southern Kaduna state on Wednesday and Friday (Nov. 23-25) in what Christian leaders call a campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing.

The killings took place in four communities around Gidan Waya town, near Kafanchan in Jema’a Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria: Pasakori, Mile One, Hayin Gaza and Sakiyo villages.

Area resident Joshua Aku told Morning Star News in Gidan Waya that the attacks began in Pasakori on Wednesday evening (Nov. 23). Herdsmen killed the Pasakori village head, Ayuba Gwafan, in an armed assault that began at about 5 p.m. and lasted an hour, he said.

The heavily armed herdsmen then killed James Adamu of Hayin Gaza village, a Christian identified only as Gayus of Sakiyo village, an unnamed Christian, and three other Christians who were on their way to Kagoro while on the Gidan Waya-Kagoro highway, Aku said.

The herdsmen returned on Friday to attack Mile One village, on the outskirts of Gidan Waya, and started killing villagers and destroying their houses. District head Daniel Akai was killed along with La’azarus Yakubu, Joel Tanko, Fine Gambo and Jolly Dego, the latter from southern Nigeria but resident in Mile One village, Aku said.

Akai was a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Gidan Waya.

“The house of Mr. Akai was burned by the herdsmen, as was St. Paul’s Catholic Church, and the offices of the ECWA Gidan Waya District Church Council (DCC) were also destroyed,” Aku said.

The attack on Mile One village started at about 3 p.m. and continued until midnight, he said.

Remains of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Mile One village, Kaduna state. (Morning Star News)

Remains of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Mile One village, Kaduna state. (Morning Star News)

The killings follow Nov. 13 attacks in southern Kaduna state’s predominantly Christian Kaura LGA, in which at least 35 people, including children and pregnant women, were killed, according to ECWA leaders.

In last week’s assaults around Gidan Waya, the arrival of a military helicopter before and after the attacks on each day led many residents to speculate that renegade elements in the Nigerian military were aiding the herdsmen, he added.

“Most residents of Gidan Waya believe the herdsmen were brought to the area in a military helicopter and were ferried away soon after perpetuating the atrocities on the Christian communities,” said Aku, an ECWA member who was formerly sole administrator of Godogodo Development Area in Jema’a LGA.

Morning Star News was unable to independently confirm the reasons for the presence of the helicopter.

At a press conference on Nov. 16, the Rev. Zachariah Gado of the ECWA decried “a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.”

About 120 homes were looted and destroyed and six church buildings burned down in the Nov. 13 attack on Kaura LGA, Gado said, asserting that ethno-religious cleansing may have intensified after Kaduna officials announced plans to allocate 20,000 hectares of land in southern Kaduna for grazing reserves, beyond that which the herdsmen have already seized and illegally occupied.

“Since the latest onslaught on southern Kaduna began [in May], at least 138 people have been killed, most of them women and children, and at least 1,300 homes and church buildings have been torched,” he said.

In Jema’a LGA alone, 102 people have been killed in 25 Christian communities in the past six months, amounting to ethnic and religious cleansing, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Samson Supo Ayokunle, said at a press conference in Abuja last week.

“Is this not Boko Haram in another color?” he said. “I want to plead with the government – this is a moment of truth. It is not about politics, religion or ethnicity. It is about the value that is attached to life.”

The Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Godogodo Zone, the Rev. Chawangon Nathan, said the nonchalant attitude of state and federal authorities had allowed the attacks that began on May 26 to degenerate into an uncontrolled crisis. Nathan said media had erroneously described the Muslim Fulani herdsmen as “unknown gunmen.”

Asserting that security forces refused to arrest the assailants, he said that beyond 102 people killed in Jema’a LGA, 215 have been wounded and 10,000 displaced in the last six months.

Grace Daniel, a resident of Gidan Waya who was in Kafanchan at the time of the Nov. 23-25 attacks, told Morning Star News that she received distressed calls from relatives in Gidan Waya.

“We in Kafanchan town can even see fire burning houses on the outskirts of Gidan Waya,” she said last week. “Please pray along with us. These armed Fulani herdsmen are out to destroy us completely.”

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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Five Muslims Sentenced to Death in Pakistan for Brick Kiln Murders http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/five-muslims-sentenced-to-death-in-pakistan-for-brick-kiln-murders/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/five-muslims-sentenced-to-death-in-pakistan-for-brick-kiln-murders/#respond Sat, 26 Nov 2016 12:36:21 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6171 Composite of Shahzad Masih and Shama Masih. (Morning Star News courtesy of famly)

Composite of Shahzad Masih and Shama Masih. (Morning Star News courtesy of famly)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A court in Lahore has handed the death sentence to five Muslims for torturing and killing an impoverished Christian couple over allegations of burning the Koran, sources said.

Eight others charged in the attack were sentenced to two years in prison, sources said. Hundreds of villagers in Kot Radha Kishan, incited by Muslim leaders calling for violence via mosque loudspeakers, were involved in the Nov. 4, 2014 assault in which 26-year-old Shahzad Masih and his five-months pregnant wife, Shama, 24, were thrown into a burning brick kiln.

Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Chaudhry Azam on Wednesday (Nov. 25) handed death sentences to Irfan Shakoor, Muhammad Hanif, Mehdi Khan, Riaz Kamboh and Hafiz Ishtiaq, along with a fine of 200,000 rupees (US$1,900) to each for inciting violence against the Christian couple and throwing them into the kiln. The judge ordered the two-year prison terms for Noorul Hasan, Muhammad Arsalan, Muhammad Haris, Hussain, Muhammad Munir, Muhammad Ramzan, Irfan and Hafiz Shahid.

Attorney Riaz Anjum, who represented the father of the deceased woman, told Morning Star News that although more than 50 people had been originally charged in the lynching, most of them had been acquitted after family members of Shahzad Masih recorded statements denying that they were present at the scene.

“Nonetheless, it is encouraging news for the Christian community in Pakistan,” Anjum said. “The families of the deceased people have suffered a lot of pressure, even though the state had become the complainant in the case to thwart any attempt to pressure the victims’ family for reaching a settlement with the powerful accused. But conviction of five people by the court is no small feat, and I hope this verdict would be seen as a stern warning against any such violence against minorities in the future.”

Masih and his wife worked as bonded laborers at the brick kiln when the throng descended on them after area Muslims accused them of committing blasphemy by burning Quranic pages.

The mob tore the clothes off them, struck them, broke their legs, dragged them behind a tractor and threw them into the burning furnace of a brick kiln – even though Shama was illiterate and could not have known even if koranic verses were among debris that she had burned. Under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy statutes, intent must be shown for a conviction of desecrating the Koran.

On Nov. 2, 2014 Shama Masih was cleaning her quarters in Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan, Karur District, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Lahore, when she found amulets of her late father-in-law, who had used them in the practice of black magic. The amulets may have contained koranic verses, and a Muslim co-worker, Muhammad Irfan, noticed half-burnt papers and accused the family of desecrating the Koran, relatives said.

The couple is survived by their four children.

Attorney Anjum said that the convicts would now surely file appeals with the high court against their sentences, “but I am confident that the high court will uphold the trial court’s verdict.”

Commenting on the bail given to the lead suspect in the case, Yousuf Gujjar, Anjum said the brick kiln owner had managed to secure bail from the court after Shahzad Masih’s family members testified that he was not present at the kiln when the mob killed the Christian couple.

In addition, state’s witnesses, including police official Muhammad Ali, who had witnessed the entire crime and had named Gujjar as the main inciter of violence in the First Information Report (FIR), retracted their statements against the kiln owner when the trial began,sources said.

Punjab Province Minister for Human Rights Khalil Tahir Sindhu has stated that police found Gujjar and his son had instigated a local Muslim prayer leader to declare the couple guilty of blasphemy from the loudspeaker of his mosque. Morning Star News made repeated attempts to contact Sindhu to enquire why the police witnesses had retracted their original statements and whether the government had initiated an inquiry, but he remained inaccessible by phone.

Aneeqa Maria, an attorney with The Voice Society, which provided legal support to the deceased woman’s family, said 52 people had been named in the original FIR, while names of 88 others were included later after investigation.

“Shahzad and Shama could have lived that day if Yousuf Gujjar had allowed them to leave the kiln before violence began,” she said. “He told the couple they could not leave until they had paid back their loan, and thus he is equally responsible for their deaths.”

Still, Christian rights activists and socio-political workers lauded the court’s verdict. Prominent minority rights activist and chairman of the Pakistan Interfaith League (PIL) Sajid Ishaq said it was a difficult but just decision.

“Awarding death sentences to five persons and jail term of two years each to eight others is a big reassurance to the minority communities of Pakistan,” Ishaq told Morning Star News. “Today, the minority communities feel protected, and their confidence in the judiciary has gained a great deal of strength.”

On Nov. 3, 2014, Muslim neighbors of the couple accused Shama Masih of burning pages of Islam’s holy book, stoking religious tension in the area. Although police were informed about a possible attack on the Christian families resident at the kiln, the police only sent a mobile squad of five officers to monitor the situation.

Early the next day, a mob of several hundred Muslims gathered at the kiln after announcements were made overnight on village mosque loudspeakers calling for “death to the blasphemers.”

Shahzad Masih and his brothers pleaded with Gujjar to let them escape, but he refused to let them go until they paid their debt, sources said. Soon afterwards, the mob got hold of the Christian couple and subjected them to torture, beating them near death and later throwing their bodies, still believed to be alive, into the flames.

The incident caused an outrage in national and international media and civil society, prompting the Pakistani government to take the unprecedented step of becoming the complainant in the case. But sources have said the state later lost interest, allowing several of those directly involved to walk away free by manipulating gaps in the Pakistani legal system.

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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Deep Love of Jesus, Early Persecuted Church Examined in New Book http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/deep-love-of-jesus-early-persecuted-church-examined-in-new-book/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/deep-love-of-jesus-early-persecuted-church-examined-in-new-book/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 06:44:34 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6066 Heirloom LoveIn a world full of hate and violence, Christians are trying to impact the culture for good.

But it seems we’re losing ground.  What are we missing?

In his timely new book, Heirloom Love: Authentic Christianity for this Age of Persecution, Dominic Sputo compels us to take a deeper look into the legendary first-century Christian love that changed the world.

This book will challenge your assumptions about love and bring a fresh perspective to many familiar New Testament teachings on the love that shines light into darkness.

Do you want to make a difference? Heirloom Love is about restoring the love that will change the world today.

For Morning Star News friends, the Heirloom Love e-book is now available for 50% off at only $4.99 (regularly $9.99).   And, the author has agreed to donate to Morning Star News the proceeds from your purchase.

Please click here to order Heirloom Love from Amazon so that Morning Star News will receive credit for your purchase.

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Pastor in China Upholds Faith after Nearly Year in Prison http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/pastor-in-china-upholds-faith-after-nearly-year-in-prison/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/pastor-in-china-upholds-faith-after-nearly-year-in-prison/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 19:02:23 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6162 Authorities raid house church in Guiyang, Guizhou Province. (China Aid)

Authorities raid house church in Guiyang, Guizhou Province. (China Aid)

(Morning Star News) – A pastor in southwestern China, jailed for nearly a year on fabricated charges and suffering a liver disease, focuses on trusting God in a letter of encouragement to his wife, according to China Aid.

Authorities took pastor Li Guozhi, better known as Yang Hua, into custody after a raid on his church in central Guizhou Province on Dec. 9, 2015. In a Nov. 8 letter to his wife, Wang Hongwu, Pastor Yang encourages her to focus more on God than on the “noise” of humanity, according to the Texas-based advocacy organization.

“Our wonderful God, our Lord forever,” he writes. “Who can guess His wisdom and mystery? Our faith is built on His words (He never changes and never does wrong; this is the unchangeable maxim). Sometimes, somebody will decide something by guessing and then [testing their theory], but we don’t. We listen more to God and less to human beings.”

After describing how doctors applying sulfur ointment were able to heal the scabies he had suffered all over his body, he tells her not to worry about his health.

“The fatty liver disease was diagnosed in prison,” he writes. “The suffering is bearable. The Lord has grace. The canker sore has not returned since May of this year. Thank God.”

Pastor Yang was initially arrested for “obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” after he tried to stop authorities from confiscating his computer hard drive, according to China Aid. He was sentenced to two consecutive, five-day administrative detention sentences for each charge, but on Dec. 20, 2015, when he was supposed to be released, his wife saw authorities forcing the blindfolded pastor into an unlicensed vehicle, the advocacy group said.

She subsequently learned that Pastor Yang’s charge had been changed to “illegally possessing state secrets,” and that he was being transferred to another center to serve a criminal detention sentence, according to China Aid.
“After a month of no word about her husband, who had disappeared into official custody, Wang received a notice on Jan. 22 announcing her husband’s formal arrest for ‘divulging state secrets,’” a press statement from China Aid read. “Initially, officials refused to allow Chen Jiangang and Zhao Yonglin, Yang’s lawyers, to meet with requests to meet with their client, and Wang was also kept from seeing her husband. Eventually, however, Chen and Zhao received permission to confer with their client, and Wang was able to correspond with her husband via letter.”

In the letter, Pastor Yang encourages Wang and the church to encourage and give hope to each other.

“Never be dejected and despondent, always look up at our Lord, and always keep the spiritual life above the chaos of the real environment,” he writes. “Rest in God’s arms. ‘Some rely on chariots, some on horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.” Be upright and take care. Be prepared for the rest of the road. I will go with you. If the Lord doesn’t allow it, not a single hair [from your head] will drop to the floor.”

Pastor Stripped of License

In Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, a pastor who had been jailed and released lost his position when state-run agencies revoked his license to preach and expelled him from leadership, Christian Aid reported.

The Zhejiang Provincial China Christian Council and the Zhejiang Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Movement enacted the orders against Zhang Chongzhu on Oct. 29, outraging area Christians who suspected the government terminated him to keep people from attending unregistered house churches, the group reported.

Zhang had been “placed under ‘residential surveillance in a designated location,’ otherwise known as a ‘black jail,’ last September [2015],” China Aid reported. “On Feb. 5, he was criminally detained for ‘stealing, spying, buying, or illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to entities outside China.’”

He was formally arrested on March 9 under the charges but was released on May 9, the group reported.

In China’s restive Xinjiang Province, three Christians were detained on Nov. 11 for “spreading religion illegally” and “gathering a mob to disturb public order” after police dispersed a meeting they had organized, according to China Aid.

Police on Nov. 11 dispersed a group of Han and Uyghur Christians who had gathered for

Bible training at Xinfeng Church, and the event’s planners – Li Rong, Liu Peijin, Wang Yubiao, Wang Encheng, Wang Hailong, David, and Gu Li – were taken into police custody. Li, Liu, and a Christian identified only as Wang were handed 15-day administrative detention sentences, while the others were released, China Aid reported.

“In the past two months,” the group said in a press statement, “Xinjiang authorities detained or arrested dozens of Christians for holding house church gatherings, including three Christians in Wensu County, two people from Xinhe County, three people from Baicheng County, seven people from Akesu, two Christians in Yanqi County, two individuals in Hejing County, and 16 people in the Kuerle region, 13 of whom were also physically attacked.”

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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Church Attack in Indonesia Kills 2-year-old Girl http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/church-attack-in-indonesia-kills-2-year-old-girl/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/church-attack-in-indonesia-kills-2-year-old-girl/#respond Tue, 15 Nov 2016 22:39:29 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6156 (Morning Star News) – A former terrorism convict with ties to the Islamic State (IS) threw a home-made bomb at a church compound in Indonesia on Sunday (Nov. 13), killing a 2-year-old girl and seriously injuring three other children, according to The Jakarta Post.

Intan Olivia was pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m. on Monday (Nov. 14) from severe burns, the newspaper reported.

The attack by the former convict, identified as Jo Bin Muhammad Aceng Kurnia (alias “Juhanda”), took place at Oikumene Church in in Samarinda. Three other toddlers were receiving medical treatment in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Samrainda, the Post reported.

The prime suspect reportedly visited a mosque before driving to the church site wearing a shirt with the words, “Jihad way of life,” according to advocacy group International Christian Concern.

Juhanda and at least five other people have been arrested in connection with the attack, according to reports. Juhanda lives in a mosque in Samarinda and learned how to assemble a bomb in Aceh between 2009 and 2011, police told the Post.

The country’s largest Muslim organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), condemned the attack, calling it an act of blasphemy, according to the newspaper.

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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Christian School Closed in Sudan Ordered to Re-Open http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/christian-school-closed-in-sudan-ordered-to-re-open/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/11/christian-school-closed-in-sudan-ordered-to-re-open/#respond Mon, 14 Nov 2016 21:40:38 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=6151 Flag of Sudan. (Wikipedia)

Flag of Sudan. (Wikipedia)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A judge in eastern Sudan today ordered a Christian school that government officials had taken over to resume classes under the prior Christian administration, according to the headmaster.

The Appeal Court for Administrative Affairs in Madani, Al Jazirah state, thus cancelled an order by the Madani commissioner calling for the closure of the Evangelical Basic School, which armed police along with civilians from Khartoum and elsewhere had seized on Oct. 24, the Rev. Samuel Suleiman Anglo, headmaster at the school, told Morning Star News.

“The court has ordered that the school continue to function with the current administration without interference from the commissioner,” Pastor Suleiman said. “Things are normal, thank God.”

The court delivered the final order for re-opening after ordering a temporary re-opening earlier this month, he said.

The Oct. 24 government seizure marked the third raid on the school, following efforts to seize it on Oct. 4 and Sept. 5. On Oct. 6, authorities jailed for four days Christian staff members who tried to prevent the seizure of the institution, which serves more than 1,000 students, ages 3 to 18, and belongs to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.

Armed police and officials from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Sept. 5 temporarily arrested Pastor Suleiman and 12 teachers at the school, accusing them of supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N), a rebel group fighting government forces farther south in the Nuba Mountains state of South Kordofan. Pastor Suleiman strongly denied the charge.

In the Sept. 5 raid, police presented a letter from the National Ministry of Guidance and Endowments, addressed to the State Ministry of Social Welfare, ordering the handover of the school to the government. School administrators and teachers are ethnic Nuba – increasingly targeted by a government that has vowed Islamic religion and Arabic culture will reign in Sudan – and from South Kordofan state.

A court for administrative affairs earlier this month had responded to school officials’ pleas by ordering the immediate, temporary re-opening of the school to allow students to take exams, Pastor Suleiman said. Judge Thalot Madani Ishakh issued the court order, which allowed students to resume classes last Tuesday (Nov. 8).

The re-opening came after court hearings on Nov. 7 and 8. The court found that the attempt by the Madani commissioner to close down the school and appoint a Muslim teacher to run it was inappropriate, Pastor Suleiman said.

He said the school had written a letter to the government urging officials to reconsider their decision to close the school. Parents also asked the judge to request the government to reopen the school.

Pastor Suleiman said the government had appointed its own principal, a Muslim identified only as Misbah, to take over and run the school.

Arrested on Oct. 6 along with the Pastor Suleiman was the Rev. Ismail Zakaria and seven other teachers who objected to the takeover of the school. The nine Christian staff members were detained until Oct. 9 before being released on bail, accused of resisting authorities. Civilians who came from Khartoum, 166 kilometers (102 miles) west, and other parts of the country to forcibly take control of the property acted with the help of five policemen, sources said.

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. 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.

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.

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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