Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:44:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Islamic State Warns Those Who Refuse Islam Will Die like Ethiopians in Libya Video http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/islamic-state-warns-those-who-refuse-islam-will-die-like-ethiopians-in-libya-video/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/islamic-state-warns-those-who-refuse-islam-will-die-like-ethiopians-in-libya-video/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:01:11 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4345 Islamic State representative in Libya addresses viewers in video. (Screen-save Morning Star News)

Islamic State representative in Libya addresses viewers in video. (Screen-save Morning Star News)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – In a video showing the cruel execution of 28 Ethiopian Christians, the militant Sunni terrorist group Islamic State (IS) says persecution of Christians is fundamental to Islam.

In the video released late Sunday night (April 19), IS (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) warns that if Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere refuse Islam, they also will be slain. An IS spokesman gives Christians three options – convert to Islam, submit to the rule of Islam and pay the Jizya (tribute) or be killed.

“We say to Christians everywhere, the Islamic State will expand, with Allah’s permission,” a spokesman identified as Sheik Abu Malik Anas An-Nashwan says. “And it will reach you even if you are in fortified strongholds. So whoever enters Islam will have security, and whoever accepts the Dhimmah contract will have security. But whoever refuses will see nothing from us but the edge of a spear. The men will be killed and the children will be enslaved, and their wealth will be taken as booty. This is the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.”

The statement comes after the execution of 28 men identified by IS as, “The worshipers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian Church.” IS shows the 28 Christians divided into two groups of men being marched to their place of execution with their arms bound behind their backs. One group is held at a coastal area identified as “Wilayat Barqa” (Barqa State) in Libya, and the other is located inland in the desert scrub brush of “Wilayat Fazzan” (Fazzan State), also in Libya.

The men in both groups are lined up and then forced to kneel in the sand. After a man who appears in at least one other IS video gives a statement, the men in the desert are shot in the back of their heads. The video switches seaside, where the men there are pushed down into the sand and their throats are slit. Then all the men are beheaded.

The segment ends with close-ups of the heads of several victims being stacked onto their bodies as blood flows into the sea. Then the screen goes blank, and An-Nashwan appears.

On Tuesday (April 21) the Ethiopian Ministry of Information confirmed the men were Ethiopian migrant workers who were living in Libya. Their identities, if privately known, have not been released. The government ordered a three-day official mourning period, set to conclude today.

The video comes more than two months after IS released a video of the execution of 21 Christians, all but one of them Egyptian, on Feb. 15. The Ethiopians and the Egyptians who were executed on the beach appear to be executed in the same general area.

The latest recording issues what could be termed a treatise on persecuting Christians. Using numerous citations from the two primary sources of Islamic authority, the Koran and the Sunnah (the sayings and actions of Muhammad), along with quotes from a consensus of Islamic scholars, IS labels Christianity a false religion and calls persecution of Christians a “fundamental” aspect of Islam that has fallen out of use in the modern era.

“In the recent past, these rites were absent from the condition of the Muslim Nation. Rather, these rites were the hostages of jurisprudence books and theoretical legal discussions,” An-Nashwan says. Quoting the Koran, he adds, “Allah said, ‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day, and those who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful, and those who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Book. Fight [them] until they give the Jizyah willingly while they are humbled.’”

Going further, An-Nashwan quotes numerous religious edicts issued in consensus by Islamic scholars regarding the treatment of Christians and Jews.

“Whoever does not consider the Jews and Christians to be disbelievers and does not hate them is not a Muslim,” An-Nashwan says, quoting Islamic scholar Al Islam Ibn-Taymiyyah. Citing a Hadith (saying or action of Muhammad), An-Nashwan says Muhammad told his followers to be aggressive toward Christians and Jews, declaring, “If you meet Jews or Christians, do not great them in peace.”

The video is similar to previous IS execution videos with one major difference: In a recording that lasts just over 29 minutes, 24 minutes are spent explaining the Islamic version of the life of Jesus Christ, giving an equally inaccurate account of the history of Christianity and justifying persecution of Christians.

In a possible attempt to give credibility to IS claims that “Dhimmi” (non-Muslims living under protected but second-class status) are treated well in Islamic society, several people who identify themselves as Christians in Raqqah, the de facto capital of IS in Syria, are interviewed. All claim they were well treated under IS rule.

“The one who comes to Raqqah (after paying Jizya) does not have to worry, whether he is Christian or even Jewish,” says one man. Another assures his fellow Christians that life is safe for Christians in Dhimmi status, saying, “By Allah, we are happy. We’ve seen security under the Islamic State.”

It is unclear what type of duress, if any, was used against the speakers during the filming of the video in Raqqah.

Islamic State, in the wake of its 2014 push through Syrian and Iraqi, expelled the entire Christian population from several villages and cities in the region. In Iraq’s Nineveh Valley alone, IS threw out more than 15,000 Christian families, according to aid workers in the area. Those expelled reported forced conversions for those who couldn’t escape their respective communities, mostly the sick and elderly.

In addition to forced conversions, those fleeing reported IS fighters seized their property and destroyed or occupied church buildings and monasteries, some of them several hundreds of years old.

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

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

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© 2014 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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Religious Persecution in China Dramatically Worsened in 2014, Group Says http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/religious-persecution-in-chinal-dramatically-worsened-in-2014-group-says/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/religious-persecution-in-chinal-dramatically-worsened-in-2014-group-says/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:15:49 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4331 Outdoor site where Shouwang Church met in Beijing. (Morning Star News)

Outdoor site where Shouwang Church met in Beijing. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Persecution of Christians in China reached its highest level in more than a decade last year as the government cracked down on church growth perceived as a threat to Communist Party power, according to a U.S.-based advocacy group.

Texas-based China Aid Association (CAA) this week reported 572 cases of religious – mainly Christian – persecution last year, a 300 percent increase over the previous year’s 143 cases. The number of people affected in those cases jumped from 7,424 to 17,884 people. More than 1,592 were church leaders, compared with 800 the previous year, CAA reported.

“In 2014, the scope, depth, and intensity of persecution against religious practitioners far surpassed that of 2013,” China Aid reported. “The increase in government-sanctioned persecution against religious practitioners and human rights lawyers and advocates reflects the overall political transformation that is occurring within the Communist Party in China (CPC), namely an orchestrated effort to consolidate power and suppress dissent and any perceived threats to the Chinese government, including the growth of religion in China.”

Among church leaders persecuted, 449 were detained, compared with 54 the previous year, according to the report. In 2014, the number of people sentenced for activity related to their faith reached 1,274, compared with just 12 the previous year.

Authorities last year engaged in 71 cases of verbal, mental or physical abuse of believers, an increase of 343.75 percent over the previous year’s figure of 16, CAA reported. In those instances, 242 people were abused, an increase of 384 percent compared with 2013’s figure of 140.

Overall, in six categories combined – numbers of religious persecution cases, people persecuted for their religion, people detained, people sentenced, severe abuse cases and individuals severely abused – persecution last year increased 152.74 percent compared with 2013, CAA reported. Statistics indicated a crack-down growing over the last several years, as the overall figure was 250.85 percent worse than in 2012, 296.64 percent worse than in 2011, 465.19 percent worse than in 2010, 549.48 percent worse than in 2009, 673.31 percent worse than in 2008 and 1,331.76 percent worse than in 2007, according to CAA.

A government campaign to eradicate church buildings exceeding size limits in Zhejiang Province accounted for some of the increase in cases of persecution. The campaign included actions against church buildings belonging to the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM).

“In reality, the campaign indiscriminately removed and demolished crosses on church buildings and, in many cases, demolished the entire church building, regardless of whether the building had been previously approved by the Chinese government,” the CAA reported.

Besides the campaign against oversized church buildings and crosses in Zhejiang Province, CAA said a number of factors led to the increases in persecution in 2014. A wide-spread crackdown on “cult activities” played a large role, affecting 1,000 religious adherents, it reported.

Communist authorities consistently cited “attacking cults” as a pretext for launching large-scale campaigns against Christians and house churches, the report said. Cases in Shandong, Sichuan, and Hunan provinces show that authorities regularly cited Clause 300 of the Criminal Law, defined as “organizing cults and sects and using superstition to undermine law enforcement,” in an attempt to harass and persecute house church pastors, elders, and church members, it said.

“The CPC’s handling of the majority of cases has disregarded the rule of law and standard legal procedures,” the report noted. “A large number of ‘anti-cult’ trials were conducted in secret, and many of those accused were not permitted to hire legal counsel and were forced to accept government-appointed lawyers. The Chinese government has also intimidated and pressured family members of those accused of so-called ‘cult activities’ to not raise their legal cases and incidents of persecution publicly; thus many remain unknown.”

Christian support organization Open Door’s annual ranking of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian placed China 29th last year, a deterioration from 2013, when it landed at 37th place.

CAA reported the government forcibly collected and documented information about house churches and church members and forced house church members to join the government- sanctioned TSPM.

A Chinese government campaign begun in 2011 that aimed to eradicate house churches within 10 years escalated in 2014, the CAA report said.

“The overall number of house church leaders and members who were administratively detained, arrested and sentenced or summoned to court, the number of forcibly demolished churches and prohibited church gatherings, and the total number of church members who experienced physical or verbal abuse or threats all demonstrated a dramatic increase in comparison to China Aid statistics from 2013,” the report said.

Shouwang Church in Beijing continued to be harassed, house churches in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region were persecuted for teaching religion to minors, and a house church in Cao County was persecuted under the guise of “engaging in cult activities,” the report said.

2014 marked the fourth year Shouwang Church was forced to hold outdoor worship services after it was deprived of its building. Pressure escalated in May 2014, with authorities subjecting members to administrative detention, typically five to seven days for first-time attenders and 10 days for regular members.

Nearly 100 members of Shouwang Church received administrative detention notices, and some were held multiple times, the report said.

“In addition, police physically injured more than 10 church members, including Jin Shaohua,” CAA reported. “Senior Pastor Jin Tianming and other pastors and elders from the church have been under house arrest for the past four years with limited personal freedom, bringing church operations nearly to a halt.”

The Cao County Public Security Bureau in Heze, Shandong Province, in June dispatched forces to apprehend Zhao Weiliang, Cheng Hongpeng and 20 other house-church members for allegedly “engaging in cult activities,” CAA reported. In the aftermath, 18 of the church’s 22 members were charged, nine criminally.

“The only alleged offense the church members committed was gathering to practice worship songs,” CAA reported. “As a result of the public attention given to their case and the intervention of human rights lawyers, a majority of the detained church members were released on probation and are awaiting trial.”

While urban churches such as Shouwang in Beijing and Wanbang Church in Shanghai continued to meet in spite of ongoing persecution, large house churches in mid- to large-size cities remained subject to strict control and harassment by local public security and religious affairs bureaus; examples were Chengdu’s Xiuyuzhifu Church, Guangzhou’s Liangren Church and Guiyang’s Huoshi Church, according to the report.

House churches in rural areas also saw increased levels of violence and persecution, the report said.

“In reviewing statistics, it appears that the Chinese government’s persecution of the house churches was most severe in north, northwest, south, and southwest regions of China,” CAA reported.

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

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

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 © 2014 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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Bones Broken in Attack on Evangelistic Gathering in Telangana State, India http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/bones-broken-in-attack-on-evangelistic-gathering-in-telangana-state-india/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/bones-broken-in-attack-on-evangelistic-gathering-in-telangana-state-india/#respond Mon, 20 Apr 2015 14:06:45 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4322 Sangameshwar Temple at Alampur, Mahabubnagar District, Telangana state. (Suman Amarnath, Wikipedia)

Sangameshwar Temple at Alampur, Mahabubnagar District, Telangana state. (Suman Amarnath, Wikipedia)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Christians sustained broken bones and wounds when Hindu extremists on April 8 attacked an open-air gospel event in Telangana state, India, sources said.

Police initially refused to help church members after the mob of about 100 Hindu extremists seriously injured four Christians in the attack in Pebbair, Mahabubnagar District, they said. Area church leaders submitted a complaint citing inaction by police.

“We are deeply disappointed that police in charge of Pebbair initially refused to help the Christians who were bleeding when they approached him for help, and we wrote to the National Human Rights Commission to intervene,” the Rev. Sunder Paul told Morning Star News.

Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bajrang Dal charged into the evangelistic meeting on the final day of the three-day event at about 9:30 p.m. Shouting “Jai Shri Ram [Praise Lord Ram],” the Hindu extremists led by local leaders of the RSS and Bajrang Dal attacked the Kristhu Suvartha Ujiva congregation, beating pastors, women, children and the aged while insulting their faith.

“The extremists with knives and clubs stormed the prayer meeting and randomly beat up the Christians, including one pregnant woman and children, and threatened to stab the Christians with their knives,” said Y. Prathap, an area pastor who was attacked. “Gouni Verma Reddy was the first to punch the pastors and threatened to stab us with his knife.”

The Hindu extremists clubbed Christians trying to run away, said Pastor Paul.

“Many of them were bleeding from the beating,” he said.

The assailants broke the left leg of one of the organizers, a pastor identified only as Sudhakar, as they continuously beat him while he lay on the ground, church leaders said.

“Besides a broken leg, Pastor Sudhakar sustained wounds and abrasions all over his body, and he remains in a hospital,” Pastor Paul said.

Similarly, Pastor Prathap received a deep cut on his upper lip, and the hands of a pastor identified only as Timothy were fractured, as were those of pastor Yesu Tidam, church leaders said. All of them were beaten black and blue, sustaining contusions and abrasions.

The assailants also damaged furniture, electrical lights and the windows of Christians’ vehicles.

Pebbair Station House Officer (SHO) Jeetendra Reddy initially refused to file a First Information Report (FIR) against the assailants when the attacked Christians approached him, church leaders said.

“It was only after four days that an FIR was registered against the attackers following the state home minister’s instruction to make the arrests,” Pastor Prathap said.

Police filed only minor charges, Pastor Paul said.

“The SHO booked the attackers under petty sections, while they should be booked under more serious sections of the Indian Penal Code as they hurt our religious sentiments by hurling verbal abuse against our faith, and our friend Pastor Sudharkar is still battling for life in the hospital,” said Pastor Paul.

SHO Reddy told Morning Star News only that an investigation was underway.

Three days earlier, on Easter Sunday in the same district in Makthal Mandhal village, extremists hoisted two flags, each the Hindu nationalist color of saffron, on one of the poles of Bethel Church and harassed a pastor. A subsequent police-mandated “compromise” resulted in the pastor having to acquiesce to the extremists’ demands.

“When we returned back from the sunrise service at about 8 a.m., we saw two saffron flags hoisted up inside the church premises,” the Rev. Christopher Meesaul told Morning Star News.

Church members took down the flags, but at about 9:30 a.m. Hindu extremists turned up at the church premises and questioned Pastor Meesaul about the removal, insulted him and his faith and put another saffron flag on the pole, he said.

“They found the other flags we took down on the ground, threw them in the drain before my eyes, took a picture and then falsely accused me of hurting their religious sentiments by throwing their flags in the drain,” Pastor Meesaul said.

More Hindu nationalists gathered about 90 minutes later at the church premises, yelling at the pastor to stop the service and telling him to go to a Hindu temple to meet with Hindu leaders.

The church meeting came to a halt, he said, and the extremists took the pastor to the temple.

“The extremists mob were walking both on my left and right sides, and some were walking behind me while they all mocked me, abused my faith in Christ, pushed and slapped me from both sides, and they kicked me from behind as well,” Pastor Meesaul said.

The Hindu leaders were sitting in circle when the pastor reached the temple, and they told him to sit in the middle of the ring as the Hindu nationalists continued to verbally abuse him and his faith.

Police arrived, reprimanded the attackers for putting up the flags on the property and told the pastor to resume his church service. But officers later summoned Pastor Meesaul.

“Under the extremists’ pressure, the police officials told me to move back the front side of the church from the road by three feet, and they told me to oblige and not to file any police complaint on the matter,” Pastor Meesaul said. “I was compelled to do it.”

Bethel Church has existed in the area for 28 years and has 1,000 members.

Telangana, created out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, had the fourth-highest rate of attacks against Christians last year with 15 violent incidents, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

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

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

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 © 2014 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

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

 

 

 

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Police in Pakistan Deny Christian Youth’s Statement on Who Attacked, Killed Him http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/police-in-pakistan-deny-christian-youths-statement-on-who-set-him-on-fire-killed-him/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/police-in-pakistan-deny-christian-youths-statement-on-who-set-him-on-fire-killed-him/#respond Thu, 16 Apr 2015 21:33:31 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4317 The body of Nauman Masih, 14, at his funeral. (The Voice Society)

The body of Nauman Masih, 14, at his funeral. (The Voice Society)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian boy in Pakistan told police two Muslims set him on fire because of his faith before he died from his burns Wednesday (April 15), according to a human rights advocate, but police denied taking the statement.

Nauman Masih, 14, told police in Lahore that two masked men on a motorbike who had just left a mosque after Friday prayers engaged him in conversation on April 10. The boy said that when they found out that he was Christian, they assaulted him, doused him with kerosene and set him on fire.

Attorney Aneeqa Maria Akhtar of The Voice Society said she was present when Nauman told police two Muslims had set him on fire because he was a Christian. A pastor using his cell phone recorded Nauman giving the same details of the assault; the video recording, a copy of which Morning Star News has obtained, shows Nauman giving details that are substantially no different than the boy’s initial statement to police, Akhtar said.

Nauman said that after he was set on fire, he ran to a pile of sand and rolled in it. Bystanders poured more sand on him to help put out the flames, and he was rushed to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital. Doctors said he had burns over more than half of his body.

The boy said he did not know the assailants but would be able to identify them if he saw them again.

A senior police official denied police recorded the boy’s statement, however, and doubted religious motives for the assault – even as questions arose about the sudden and mysterious manner in which Nauman died. Acting Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rana Ayaz Saleem, head of the Lahore Police Investigations Wing, told Dawn newspaper that repeated attempts by police to record Nauman’s statement were unsuccessful due to “the life-threatening condition of the boy,” but Akhtar said there was no indication that Nauman’s burns were life-threatening.

“On the day he got operated on, the doctors told us that Nauman had not suffered any serious internal injuries, and all his organs were working in order,” she said. “He had suffered superficial burn wounds on 55 per cent of his body, which the doctors said were treatable. Nauman was active, he conversed with everyone who visited him, and had also started taking his meals normally. Just when we had started hoping for his recovery, the news came that he had expired.”

Furthermore, Akhtar said, she was surprised that security personnel repeatedly barred her from asking Nauman certain questions.

“This is the first time I have seen secret agencies ‘guarding’ a burn victim,” she said. “They were keeping record of all people who were coming to visit the child. Whenever I tried approaching him, a person in civilian dress would stand next to the bed. They said they were just doing their job.”

The security agents did not allow her to ask him who set him on fire, she said.

Saleem, the acting deputy inspector general, reportedly said police had filed a First Information Report (FIR) on the complaint of Nauman’s uncle, Nadeem Masih, who along with his wife raised Nauman and his older sister. Nauman was 4 years old when his father died, and his mother, Shazia Bibi, renounced Christianity after marrying a Muslim.

Nadeem Masih, the boy’s paternal uncle, said in his complaint that two unidentified men had set Nauman on fire after pouring kerosene on him. The deputy inspector said Nauman’s uncle did not mention the assailants were Muslims.

Police were also hesitant to assign a religious motive to the murder after Nauman’s maternal grandfather, Heera Masih, accused Nadeeem Masih – the uncle who raised the two children – of setting the boy on fire. The maternal grandfather, along with the boy’s Muslim mother, have been vying for the rights to the pension and property of Nauman’s deceased father, Rafaqat Masih, which the boy’s uncle has said belonged to Nauman and his sister; the allegation that Nadeem Masih set his nephew on fire alleged the uncle sought to obtain rights to the pension and property.

Nauman’s sister, 22-year-old Saba Masih, said the allegations against her uncle were baseless.

“Uncle Nadeem and his wife raised us just like their own children,” she said. “It was only after this incident that most of our neighbors had come to know that they weren’t our real parents.”

Saba Masih said her mother and maternal grandfather were accusing Nadeem Masih of the assault as part of their attempt to seize the pension and property of her deceased father.

With officials denying Nauman’s statement and a conflicting murder accusation from relatives seeking to seize the children’s inheritance, police said they have not yet ascertained the motive of the assault. But police say neither Nadeem Masih’s statement nor that of his accuser indicates the boy was attacked for reasons of faith, and that investigators have found no witnesses to the assault.

Attorney Akhtar said she believed Nauman knew who his attackers were but feared identifying them; likewise, there is speculation that his uncle feared identifying the assailants as Muslims in his complaint out of fear of reprisals.

The boy’s video-recorded statement should be considered his dying declaration in any court proceedings, Akhtar said. A dying declaration in Pakistan is testimony that is normally barred as hearsay but may still be admitted as evidence in some cases.

The incident comes less than a month after Christians upset over Taliban suicide attacks on two churches in Lahore on March 15 took revenge by killing and burning two Muslims, and Akhtar said this incident had left Nauman frightened.

“Workers at the tailor shop where Nauman worked as an apprentice said that the boy had on more than one occasion expressed fears that he would be burned to death the same way two Muslim youths were lynched, and their bodies burned, by a charged Christian mob in Lahore’s Youhanabad Christian colony,” she said. “However, the boy did not share any details with them.”

A supervisor at the tailor shop where Nauman worked told police that three days before the attack, the boy said he had a feeling he might be set ablaze.

“When I asked him who would do that, he said it was just his sixth sense,” the supervisor told police, according to the deputy inspector general.

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

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

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 © 2014 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 Girl in Uganda Seriously Injured, Traumatized after Gang-Rape, Father Says http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/christian-girl-in-uganda-seriously-injured-traumatized-after-gang-rape-father-says/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/christian-girl-in-uganda-seriously-injured-traumatized-after-gang-rape-father-says/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 13:26:22 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4311 Rural Mbala, Uganda. (Michael Shade)

Rural Mbala, Uganda. (Michael Shade)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Five Muslims in eastern Uganda gang-raped the 17-year-old daughter of a pastor because the church leader ignored their warnings that he stop worship services, she said.

The daughter (name withheld) of the pastor of New Hope Church was approaching the church building at Kiryolo, Kaderuna Sub-County, Budaka District, at about 7:30 p.m. on March 28 when the men took her into bushes and assaulted her, an area church leader told Morning Star News. The site is about 300 yards from her home.

“The five Muslims took hold of me, and they raped me there,” she told the Morning Star News source. “I tried to scream, but they threatened to kill me. One of them said, ‘Your father should stop this prayer meeting of trying to change Muslims to become Christians and close the church building – we have warned him several times.’”

The suspects, whom she did not recognize, fled when church members arrived at the building for an all-night prayer vigil. They rushed her to a local medical clinic, and she later transferred to Mbale General Hospital.

Her father (name withheld) said her injuries are so serious that he would like to send her for specialized treatment at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala. He said she continues to be traumatized.

“The girl still has problems communicating,” he said. “She just says a few words and then keeps quiet. She needs trauma counseling.”

The pastor said he had received several threatening text messages.

“One of the short messages in my phone read, ‘Be you informed that we do not want your church in this area. If you continue worship here, then you will live to regret it,’” he said.

Budaka District is about 65 percent Muslim and has been the site of other attacks against Christians. Muslims make up only 11.5 percent of the total population Uganda, which is 85 percent Christian.

The pastor reported the case to police. Officers were investigating but there have been no arrests.

In the same district, Muslim schools recently declined to write letters of recommendation to students who have left Islam and wish to register at a Christian school, effectively blocking them from enrolling.

Hope of Glory Nursery and Primary School in Budaka District has received applications for enrollment from five Christians who left Islam so they can take primary seven exams, but the students require the letters of recommendation from the three Muslims schools they came from to enroll, said school director Hassan Muwanguzi.

“These schools rejected the registration of our students because they had left Islam and embraced the Christian faith,” Muwanguzi told Morning Star News.

Of the school’s 107 pupils, 58 are converts from Islam and 23 are Muslims, he said. The student population includes 10 orphans.

“Our school is like a safe haven for children who have been ostracized for choosing the Christian faith,” he said.

The private school is registered with the government but seeks funds in order to become accredited as a center where students can take high school entrance exams, he added.

“Our prayer is to get support so that our students will be able to be registered for exams in the future,” Muwanguzi said. “Our students can be registered in other private schools, but we do not have money to send them to such schools.”

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

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Hindu Extremists Block Good Friday Service, Beat Christians in Uttar Pradesh, India http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/hindu-extremists-block-good-friday-service-beat-christians-in-uttar-pradesh-india/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/hindu-extremists-block-good-friday-service-beat-christians-in-uttar-pradesh-india/#respond Fri, 10 Apr 2015 17:23:15 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4304 Pastor Daniel Singh at Salvation for Asia Church in Swar, Uttar Pradesh. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Daniel Singh at Salvation for Asia Church in Swar, Uttar Pradesh. (Morning Star News)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Under pressure from Hindu extremists, local officials kept a church from meeting on Good Friday (April 3) in India’s Uttar Pradesh state and ordered the pastor to vacate the property, the church leader said.

Pastor Daniel Singh of Salvation for Asia Church in Swar, near Rampur, told Morning Star News his two-year lease of the land allowed him to build a worship site, but Hindu extremists in the northern state have been threatening to burn his church building if he does not leave the property.

“The extremists summoned me one night to one of their meetings, and they threatened to burn up the church if we do not empty the land,” Pastor Singh said. “The BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] district president also threatened to terminate the job of one church member if he continues to come to our worship meetings.”

Local officials kept the church from its Good Friday services after the Hindu extremists submitted a complaint against the pastor of “forceful conversion” to police and warned him to vacate the property.

On Wednesday (April 8), the Rampur District magistrate ordered the pastor to immediately vacate the land, where about 1,000 people regularly worship.

“We have rented land to build a structure for conducting worship meetings, and we have two more years to conduct worship services according to the lease deed we made with the landlord,” Pastor Singh said. “However, pressured by the Hindu extremists, the government official along with the landlord are telling us to vacate the land as soon as possible.”

Hindu extremists first objected to worship services on March 28, when they accused the pastor and other church members of forceful conversion. Uttar Pradesh does not have an “anti-conversion” law, routinely used by Hindu extremists in more than five other states to harass Christians with false charges of forcible or fraudulently conversion.

While not governed by the Hindu nationalist BJP, Uttar Pradesh has seen a high number of anti-Christian incidents since the federal election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose governing alliance is headed by the BJP. In the first 10 months since Modi took power in May 2014, there were 22 cases of violence against Christians in the state, compared with three such incidents in the prior 10 months, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI).

Also in Uttar Pradesh, about 30 Hindu extremists in Maharajganj, Rae Bareilly, on March 25 stormed a prayer meeting at the home of the Rev. Manoj Samuel and pushed, kicked, punched and strangled participants while cursing at them and accusing them of forcible conversion, he said.

“They broke the wall of the hut and stormed in, accused me of giving money to people to make them follow Jesus and mercilessly attacked us,” Pastor Samuel told Morning Star News. “Four Christians, including three women, were rushed to the hospital for treatment. They sustained injuries on their heads, backs and legs, and they complained of internal pain as well.”

Church leaders maintained that there was no instance of forceful or fraudulent conversion.

Also on March 25 in Agra, about 20 Hindu extremists barged into a Lent prayer meeting at the Light Worship Centre, verbally abused the Christians and beat them, according to the EFI. As the mob grew more furious, police took 10 people to the police station, including three women and a girl, as a preventative measure.

The Rev. Dr. Raju Thomas, general secretary of the National Christian Federation, told Morning Star News that the group had filed a police complaint and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, but that no action has been taken.

Yusuf Dass, a prominent church leader in the state, said recent Hindu extremist “homecoming” or “reconversion” events have created an anti-Christian atmosphere.

“There is a feeling of insecurity among the Christian community with the frequent occurrence of physical attacks against the churches and the Christians, the ‘homecoming’ programs and the hate speech and campaigns by the top leaders of the Sangh Parivar and ministers of the BJP almost on a daily basis,” Dass told Morning Star News. “We have submitted a letter to the state minority commission addressing these issues.”

Last year there was only one incident in Uttar Pradesh until May. After the BJP-led alliance obtained central government power on May 26, the state witnessed 18 incidents against Christians, according to the EFI.

The jump in cases of violence against the Christians, and the Ghar Vapsi (“homecoming”) programs by Hindu nationalist groups, are a clear indication of attempts to polarize voters along communal lines ahead of state elections in 2017, human rights leader Dr. John Dayal told Morning Star News.

“Uttar Pradesh has been a particular focus of the BJP and its strong arms, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, World Hindu Council and the Bajrang Dal, and the BJP is working aggressively towards winning the 2017 state legislative assembly poll,” Dayal said. “Electoral victory will result in having a majority in the upper house of Parliament in New Delhi, and this will enable them to make any constitutional changes they like, such as a national law against conversion or against beef.”

As the most populated state in the country with more than 166 million people, Uttar Pradesh has the most seats, 80, in the lower house of Parliament. Election outcomes in the state thus have a significant influence on the formation of a central government.

The Uttar Pradesh Minority Commission earlier this year held “conspiracy of the BJP” as one of causes of “reconversion” programs in the state, under which Christians and Muslims were “encouraged,” with various threats and monetary incentives, to “return” to Hinduism, though most were never Hindus in the first place.

Commission Chairman Shakil Ahmad said at a press conference that local intelligence had failed to gather timely information about the “reconversion” events.

“The team, during its probe, found conspiracy of the BJP and failure of intelligence responsible for the conversion row,” reported Daily News and Analysis newspaper.

The state’s ruling Samajwadi Party leaders said the BJP wanted to stir communal tensions to gain political mileage. In a scathing attack on the BJP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav yesterday (April 9) was reported to have accused it of misleading people and fanning sectarian conflict.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India has sought Prime Minister Modi’s urgent intervention to end the “anxieties of the Christian community” over “reconversion” attempts and the “saffronization of education,” an attempt to overhaul school curriculum according to Hindu nationalist sentiments that threaten the secular basis of the country.

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

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

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 © 2014 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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Shocked Kenyans Grieve Worst Islamic Extremist Assault since 1998 http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/shocked-kenyans-grieve-worst-islamic-extremist-assault-since-1998/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/shocked-kenyans-grieve-worst-islamic-extremist-assault-since-1998/#respond Wed, 08 Apr 2015 22:44:50 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4295 Photo of Garissa University College attack victim Selpher Wandia, 21. (Morning Star News via Twitter)

Photo of Garissa University College attack victim Selpher Wandia, 21. (Morning Star News via Twitter)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – As Kenya comes to grips with the worst attack on its soil since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, survivors revealed grim details of last week’s Islamic extremist assault.

Separating out Christian students from Muslims, members of Somalia’s rebel Al Shabaab killed 148 people on Thursday (April 2) and wounded 104 at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya, sources said. The gunmen first targeted a chapel service where Christians had gathered for prayer at 5 a.m., area church leaders told Morning Star News.

The assailants sprayed them with bullets, killing 22 students. A female student and member of the East Africa Pentecostal Church (EAPC) lay in a pool of blood among the bodies, feigning death.

“One terrorist picked up a call from a phone on a dead body close by, and he said that they were continuing to kill their children, and that they need to know that Garissa is for Muslims only,” Millicent Murugi told a Morning Star News source.

Those killed at the chapel were five members of the EAPC, six Roman Catholics, five Anglicans, four members of the Africa Inland Church, church leaders said. The church affiliation of two others has not been established, they said.

Attack victim identified on Twitter only as Alex, 19, an only child. (Morning Star News via Twitter)

Attack victim identified on Twitter only as Alex, 19, an only child. (Morning Star News via Twitter)

Another Christian survivor, Esther Kawira of the EAPC, verified statements that the assailants targeted Christians.

“Bullets missed me narrowly as I fled for my life while the terrorists were separating Muslims from non-Muslims before gunning down the Christians,” she told a Morning Star News source.

Family and friends who lost loved ones wept as they gathered in Chiromo Mortuary in Nairobi to identify and receive bodies. On Tuesday (April 7), hundreds of mourners gathered at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, placing 147 crosses into the ground. A later tally said 148 had been killed besides four assailants; the onslaught reportedly took the lives of 142 students, three security officers and three university security personnel.

Kenyans created the hashtag #147notjustanumber to share photos and comments about the victims on Twitter.

“We need to talk about the bright futures cut short,” said vigil organizer Boniface Mwangi, according to CNN. “Today’s meeting will be a calling to say, ‘We need to remember the 147; they are not just a number.’ We are trying to avoid remembering these people as just a number.”

On Saturday (April 4), several students were rescued inside a university building as they hid above a ceiling, a church leader told Morning Star News.

Representatives of Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, said the attacks came in retaliation for Kenya’s involvement in helping the Somali government fight the Al Shabaab insurgency. The rebels also oppose education for women.

Al Shabaab militiamen or their sympathizers have carried out several attacks on Kenyan soil the past two years; it took responsibility for killing four Christians on March 17 in Wajir, and another on March 15 in Mandera, in northeastern Kenya.

The Garissa attack caused greater loss of life than Al Shabaab’s assault on the Westgate Shopping Mall on Sept. 21, 2013, which killed at least 67 people, with dozens still unaccounted for. The assailants killed those they could identify as non-Muslims.

The Muslim population of Kenya is about 8 percent, according to Operation World.

In 2011 Kenya joined African Union forces battling the Al Shabaab insurgents after a series of Somali attacks on tourists and other targets in northern Kenya, and since then Al Shabaab has carried out several retaliatory attacks on Kenyan soil.

Airstrikes on Monday (April 6) against Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia were reportedly part of ongoing operations and not in retribution for last week’s attack in Garissa.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry has identified Mohamed Mohamud, a senior Al Shabaab leader, as the organizer of the attack and has offered a reward of 20 million Kenyan shillings (US$215,000) for information leading to his capture. Mohamud reportedly heads up external operations against Kenya and commands a border militia.

Also involved in the attacks, authorities said, is Abdirahim Abdullahi, a Kenyan-Somali and the son of a government chief in Mandera in northern Kenya.

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

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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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Al Shabaab Gunmen Target Christians in Attack on University in Kenya http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/al-shabaab-gunmen-target-christians-in-attack-on-university-in-kenya/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/04/al-shabaab-gunmen-target-christians-in-attack-on-university-in-kenya/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:02:39 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4272 Garissa University College. (www.guc.ac.ke)

Garissa University College. (www.guc.ac.ke)

NAIROBI, Kenya – Islamic extremists from Somalia-based Al Shabaab today targeted Christians in an attack on Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya, killing at least 147 people, including two policemen.

An area church leader who visited some of the more than 79 wounded people in a hospital told Morning Star News that patients said members of the Islamic extremist rebel group went through dormitories asking if students were Christians or Muslims.

One of the victims at Garissa General Hospital, a member of the pastor’s church, said, “They started questioning the students whether they were Christians or not before shooting.”

The Christian student, whose name like the pastor’s is withheld for security reasons, said he and his dorm mates became terrified when they heard the assailants shouting, “We are Al Shabaab.”

“I even heard some of my fellow students reciting verses from the Quran as the attackers moved close by then,” he said. “That is when I was shot on my left hand, but I managed to escape to a nearby military base, then was taken to the hospital.”

The pastor said one of the wounded Christians said the attackers cut off the head of one of his colleagues.

The attack began between 5 and at 5:30 a.m.

“I just heard  several gunshots as I woke up in the morning, and this continued for several hours within the university compound, which is close to my church,” the pastor said. “What shocked me was that there was no noise of shouts or screaming coming from the university.”

Students remained quiet in hopes of avoiding execution.

“I only heard gunshots with no screaming,” the student told the pastor.

The church leader said that after talking with the wounded patients at the hospital, he was convinced that Christians were targeted.

“It was a selective kind of attack, as many Muslims went unhurt,” he said.

The Associated Press reported that a student who escaped, Collins Wetangula, locked himself and three roommates in their dormitory room. He said that he heard the gunmen opening doors, asking if those inside were Muslims or Christians and shooting the Christians.

Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for attack in the town of Garissa. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters that many Christians were being held by the militants, saying, “We sorted people out and released the Muslims.”

Rebel militants from Somalia held hostages until security forces killed four Al Shabaab members, Kenya’s Interior Ministry announced on Thursday evening. It was not clear how many gunmen initially attacked.

Officials said 500 students had been rescued at the 815-student campus.

Garissa is about 90 miles from the border with Somalia.

CNN quoted campus witness Joel Ayora as saying the Islamic extremists stormed into a Christian worship service. They took hostages and then went to the dormitories, shooting “anybody they came across except their fellows, the Muslims,” he told CNN.

Al Shabaab militiamen or their Somali sympathizers have carried out several attacks on Kenyan soil the past two years, usually separating out Christians and executing them, in retaliation for Kenya’s military involvement in the Somali government’s fight against the insurgents.

Al Shabaab took responsibility for killing four Christians on March 17 in Wajir, and another on March 15 in Mandera, in northeastern Kenya.

Thursday’s attack appears to have caused greater loss of life than Al Shabaab’s assault on the Westgate Shoppiing Mall on Sept. 21, 2013, which killed at least 67 people with dozens still unaccounted for. The assailants killed those they could identify as non-Muslims.

In 2011 Kenya joined African Union forces battling the Al Shabaab insurgents after a series of Somali attacks on tourists and other targets in northern Kenya, and since then Al Shabaab has carried out several retaliatory attacks on Kenyan soil.

The population of Kenya is 83 percent Christian, though only 7 percent are active in churches, according to Operation World. Only about 8 percent of Kenya’s population is Muslim.

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

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

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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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Christians in Haryana, India Hit with Beatings, Official Opposition, Discrimination http://morningstarnews.org/2015/03/christians-in-haryana-india-hit-with-beatings-opposition-from-chief-minister-discrimination/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/03/christians-in-haryana-india-hit-with-beatings-opposition-from-chief-minister-discrimination/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:10:42 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4262 Painting from northern India, cerca 1700, of Hanuman god. (Wikipedia)

Painting from northern India, cerca 1700, of Hanuman god. (Wikipedia)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A rash of anti-Christian attacks this month hit Haryana state in northern India, where a new chief minister spoke against Christians and 45 were severely beaten at a burial service.

A mob of more than 700 Hindu extremists on March 6 assaulted the 45 Christians as they began burial rites for an elderly Christian woman at a cemetery in Faridabad.

“The Christians were beaten very severely as the mob targeted the Christians individually,” the Rev. Virendar Kumar of Bethenia Church told Morning Star News. “Each and every Christian was being beaten up by 10-12 people from the mob. Around 35-plus Christians are hospitalized in different hospitals in Faridabad. Some are seriously injured.”

The Christians were forced to flee, taking the body of the deceased with them.

The assailants said the Christian burial ground was too close to their village, Pali, a half kilometer away, so they would not allow Christians to bury their dead there. The local administration had assigned the graveyard to the Christians, and Christian churches in Faridabad have all necessary permissions and papers for it.

“This was the third plot allotted for the cemetery purposes to the Christian community in Faridabad after the old one got filled,” said pastor Sunil Salvation, president of the Faridabad Pastors Fellowship and secretary of the Faridabad Cemetery Committee.

A plot was first allotted to Christians in 2008 near Budhana village outside Faridabad, but strong opposition from villagers in Budhana compelled authorities to allocate another space, called Sector 8, next to Hindu and Muslim cemeteries.

“Trouble arose related to the Sector 8 cemetery as well, as someone claimed it was his personal land,” Salvation said. “We went to the administration, and finally this present cemetery was allotted to the Christians in 2013. We were told by the Joint Commissioner to go ahead with the burials, and that the local administration would build a boundary wall later.”

Two burials have already been conducted in this cemetery.

“We were given police protection for both the previous burials that we conducted, but March 6, being a holiday on account of the festival of Holi [Hindu festival of colors], we decided not to bother the police and perform the burial ourselves,” Salvation said.

Christians reached the cemetery at 11 a.m., Kumar said, and soon a small mob began following them, which quickly grew. As threats increased, some of the Christians began leaving.

“Only those who escaped early escaped the beating,” said Kumar. “I was one of them. It was a mostly young crowd, but because of color on their faces due to the festival, we cannot identify them.”

Salvation, who said he lost a new motorcycle in the attack, said the assailants beat Christians with the tools they had brought for digging.

“We were beaten mercilessly,” Salvation said. “The ambulance in which we were carrying the body was also broken; the glass windows were shattered. The spade with which we were digging the ground was taken up by someone in the mob, and he swung it at the ambulance driver with full force. Thankfully the driver ducked, and the spade did not hit him. If it had, the driver would not have survived.”

Other cars and motorcycles belonging to Christians were also damaged as a result of the attack. A car belonging to Mahavir Singh was destroyed.

Kumar said the Hindu cemetery is in the middle of Pali village, and the Christian burial ground is 1 kilometer away on government-allotted land.

“How can this happen in a country where law and order is supposed to prevail?” Kumar asked.

Salvation added that an illegal Hindu temple has been built next to the cemetery.

The village head of Pali was also present with the mob when the Christians were beaten, they said.

The Christians later returned with the body, this time with two police vehicles for protection, but the mob blocked them from burying it.

“Even with the police, we were not able to bury our dead in our allotted cemetery,” Salvation said. “She [the village head] stopped us again. So we left and somehow buried the dead in the old cemetery, which is already full.”

The next day a First Information Report (FIR) was filed in the local police station, naming only the village head, as the rest were unidentified. There have been no arrests so far. Christian leaders led by the Rev. S.P. David, president of the Faridabad Cemetery committee, submitted an application to the commissioner of police and the district magistrate.

The district collector has asked Christians to seek police protection before each burial.

“We do not feel bad that we were beaten up but are sad that the community is being targeted in this way,” Salvation said.

The Rev. Vijayesh Lal of the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission said Haryana has not been a hot spot for anti-Christian action until the past few months.

“Things have changed in the last few months, and now more than ever the minority Christian community in Haryana is being victimized by hate crimes,” Lal said. “We are concerned and urge the chief minister, Mr. Khattar, to intervene in the situation to restore the confidence of the community.”

Chief Minister Defends Desecration

Following the desecration of a church building under construction in Kaimri village, Hissar District, the newly elected chief minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, on March 16 defended the attack and accused the pastor of fraudulent conversion.

The Rev. Subhash Chand of the Believers Church returned to Kaimri after a trip to a nearby city on March 13 to find Hindu extremist groups had replaced the church’s cross with an idol of Hanuman and installed a flag of the Hindu extremist umbrella group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) depicting Ram, a Hindu deity.

Along with damaging and vandalizing the church building, the assailants also stole a water cooler and other items, he alleged in his First Information Report to police on March 14. The report accuses 14 people under Indian Penal Code sections 147 for punishment for rioting, 153A for promoting enmity between groups, 295 for destroying or damaging a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class of persons, 380 for theft in a building, and 506 for criminal intimidation.

Chief Minister Khattar of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who took power in October 2014, defended the vandalization during a budget session of the Haryana assembly and accused Chand of trying to convert Hindu boys by promising them brides. Saying villagers were opposed to the “so-called church,” the chief minister told the assembly that a complaint has been filed against Chand for allegedly assaulting a youth who ran away from a prayer meeting because Chand had insulted Hindu gods.

“The youth was shunted out and beaten up when he opposed the priest’s statement,” Khattar said.

Chand denied the accusations, saying the charge was frivolous.

On the same day (March 16), the Union Home Ministry asked the Haryana government to send a report on desecration of the church and action taken so far. On March 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern through social media over the church desecration and an incident in West Bengal, prompting police to arrest Anil Godara that day.

This led to widespread outrage by Hindu groups in the area; VHP leader Ravinder Goyal and Bajran Dal leader Kapil Vats led mobs that demanded the release of Godara and asked for the return of the Hanuman idol the church had taken down.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also issued notices to the chief secretary and director general of police in Haryana, calling for reports within two weeks. The NHRC has enquired about the steps being taken for the protection of religious places of minorities in the state.

Pastor Chand, meantime, has moved his family to the nearby city of Ambala for security reasons.

John Dayal, spokesperson of the United Christian Forum, told Morning Star News that he was astounded by the chief minister’s comments.

“His government has showed its commitment to Hinduism by its recent actions and comments on beef, making Gita [part of an epic tale in Hindu scripture] a part of the curricula and such,” he said. “His justification of the actions of the violent elements who oppose the church and attacked it undermines the rule of law in the state.”

Khattar’s comments also open vulnerable religious minorities to coercive action and violence by vigilante groups, he added.

“The chief minister has lowered the dignity of his office and betrayed the trust of people he is sworn to protect,” Dayal said.

This was not the first time that Chand had faced opposition. Members of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal on Feb. 11 attempted to destroy the church cross after objecting to construction of a church building in the area. More than 20 people gathered at the site demanding a halt to construction with chants and foul language. Chand had informed police.

Christian Loses Job

In the state’s Rohtak District, a Christian identified only as Mukesh lost his job after a mob publically targeted him over his faith.

On March 9 a mob gathered outside the small government hospital where Mukesh was working as a sweeper.

“The mob consisted of around 15-plus people and was stirred by Raj Kumar Dhaka, a lab technician working in the same hospital,” Mukesh told Morning Star News.

Mukesh said Dhaka, a local leader of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had called media to record the Hindus shouting chants against him. Originally from Farmana Badshahpur village, Rohtak District, Mukesh is a member of a church in nearby Kalanaur.

“They objected to me being a Christian and attending church in Kalanaur,” he said. “I am attending the Uddhar Ka Jeevan Kalisia [Eternal Life Church] since April 2012, when my wife was healed miraculously as a result of prayers.”

The media questioned Mukesh, as did the crowd.

“I know most of them who were in the crowd – they are good-for-nothing people who idle away their time, drink and fight; Dhaka used them against me,” Mukesh said. “I do not evangelize at work, but people know I am a Christian. There is no prayer being held at my house, but I do attend church. This is a frame up.”

When Mukesh reported for work the next day, the medical officer in charge, Dr. Vikram Sagwan, summoned him.

“Dr. Sagwan handed me a letter from the contractor which said that they are not satisfied with my work, and just like that I was without a job,” he said.

Mukesh said he has lost his salary of the equivalent of US$110 per month and has no means of income.

“I was not given any notice period, and neither were the charges explained,” he told Morning Star News. “I have been terminated because I am a Christian. I don’t know what to do now. I have a family to support.”

Pastor Summoned

Following the attack at the cemetery in Faridabad on March 6, Hindu extremists belonging to Hindu nationalist groups attacked Bethenia Church’s service on March 8, said pastor Kumar. He was later summoned to a police station after an unidentified person asserted that the elderly woman who died should have received a Hindu burial.

The assailants beat church members, threatened them with demands to leave the area and verbally abused them, though no one was seriously injured. The Christians went to a neighboring branch church and continued their worship there.

The 42-year-old pastor Kumar was summoned to the police station after a Hindu who had been attending his church filed a complaint against him. The complainant, whom Kumar declined to name, was offended at the Christian burial given to a relative of the pastor.

“My relative was a recent believer in Christ from the Hindu background, and this church member was offended as to why we did not perform the last rites according to Hindu rituals,” Kumar told Morning Star News.

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

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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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Pastor in South Sudan Jailed, Lashed after Radical Muslims Threaten Him http://morningstarnews.org/2015/03/pastor-in-south-sudan-jailed-lashed-after-radical-muslims-threaten-him/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/03/pastor-in-south-sudan-jailed-lashed-after-radical-muslims-threaten-him/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:14:48 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4255 Thatched huts in Aweil, South Sudan. (Kebreker at German-language Wikipedia)

Thatched huts in Aweil, South Sudan. (Kebreker at German-language Wikipedia)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A Sudanese pastor in South Sudan was jailed and tortured for more than three months after Islamists who tried to kill him accused him of being a spy, sources said.

Adam Haron, a 37-year-old convert from Islam and a native of West Darfur, Sudan, said Muslim extremists called him on Nov. 9 and 10 threatening to kill him if he continued to proclaim Christ among Muslims in Aweil, near the Sudanese border. Pastor of a church in an undisclosed area of South Sudan, Haron had gone to Aweil, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) northwest of the capital city of Juba, to plant a church.

Evangelism is not illegal in South Sudan, where Christians outnumber Muslims, and the Transitional Constitution following the country’s secession from Sudan in 2011 guarantees religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith.

Haron said he knew the Muslims who threatened him as they were from his home region of West Dafur. The following day they tried to kill him when a Land Cruiser with no license plate nearly ran him over, he said.

Haron, who came to South Sudan in 2010 after converting to Christianity in 2005, said that three days later six armed men, including three in military uniform, entered his hotel room in Aweil and started to search his personal bag and laptop and scattered his clothes around. They also took his cell phone.

As the armed men ordered him to get into their car, they began kicking his legs and groin, he said.

“Thank God, who protected me from serious injury from them,” he said.

One of assailants took out a pistol, pointed it at Haron’s head, and asked him if he was a Christian pastor. He answered, “Yes, I am a pastor,” and they took him to a detention center in Aweil, he said.

Haron said the three men in uniform were military intelligence personnel. Based on a military officer’s interrogation of him, he concluded that the radical Muslims had the military personnel arrest him after falsely accusing him of being a spy for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party.

On Nov. 15, two soldiers gave him 364 lashes using a tree branch as a whip, he said.

“We will beat you every Saturday in this way,” one of them told him during the lashing.

Haron told Morning Star News he was encouraged because he was considered worthy to suffer for his faith and replied, “I am ready to die for the sake of the gospel.”

They threw him into a narrow cell, his legs bound with chains, he said. On Jan. 3 he was transferred to another jail cell. He was released on Feb. 18.

In the course of his incarceration, those who arrested Haron stole 2,600 South Sudanese Pounds (US$820) from him, he said.

Haron, who pastors an underground church made up primarily of converts from Islam, said he was gratified that the mistreatment tested his faith.

“This detention has been a great encouragement to my spiritual life,” he said.

Pastors Held in Sudan

In the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, two pastors of South Sudanese descent continue to languish in prison following their arrests in December and January.

Officials from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) are demanding that the Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael pay $12,000, but even that may not guarantee their release, sources said.

Reith, from Khartoum but of South Sudanese descent, was arrested on Jan. 9 and is being held without charges. NISS officials arrested Michael, a visiting South Sudanese pastor from Juba, after Sunday worship at Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church on Dec. 21. He also has been held without charges.

Nuba Mountain Bombing

Bashir’s regime, meantime, continues to bomb civilian targets in its war with rebels in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state.

On March 11 at 2 p.m., Russian-made Sukhoi jets bombed Tanase village, Bram County, wounding a 15-year-old girl, an area source told Morning Star News. Saloom Habil Tiya of the Sudanese Church of Christ was walking near her home when the bomb landed a short distance away.

The source said the girl was seriously injured.

There is no military installation near the area, the source said.

“We hope the international community will pay attention to the crimes committed,” the source said.

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

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

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© 2014 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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