Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:25:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jihadists Swearing Allegiance to Islamic State Kill Priest in Northern France http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/jihadists-swearing-allegiance-to-islamic-state-kill-priest-in-northern-france/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/jihadists-swearing-allegiance-to-islamic-state-kill-priest-in-northern-france/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 14:52:23 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5792 (Morning Star News) – Two men swearing allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) killed a priest by slitting his throat during a morning Mass in a village in northern France today, according to press reports.

The attackers took the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 86 (other reports said 84 and 85), hostage along with others in a village outside of Rouen. A nun who escaped told Fox News that they shouted the jihadist slogan, “Allahu Akbar (God is greater)” during the attack and forced the priest to his knees before killing him.

The attackers were shot dead when they came out of the church building after police had surrounded it, the French Interior Ministry spokesman reportedly said. The Washington Post reported that one person has been detained in connection with the attack.

President Francois Hollande said the assailants claimed to be from IS. The terrorist group’s Amaq news agency said “two IS soldiers” carried out the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Hollande was reported to have arrived in St. Etienne-du-Rouvray and said the attackers had committed a “cowardly assassination,” and that France would fight IS “by all means.”

French officials said investigations would be led by anti-terrorism prosecutors. French intelligence services had been tracking one of the assailants, French TV channel M6 reported.

The Washington Post reported that France is under an extended state of emergency after a truck rampage through Bastille Day crowds in the Riviera city of Nice on July 14 that killed at least 84 people.

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/?   

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/jihadists-swearing-allegiance-to-islamic-state-kill-priest-in-northern-france/feed/ 0
Islamist Militants Kill Nine Christians in Democratic Republic of Congo http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/islamist-militants-kill-nine-christians-in-democratic-republic-of-congo/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/islamist-militants-kill-nine-christians-in-democratic-republic-of-congo/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 18:20:11 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5787 Victims of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo counseled by workers from Barnbas Fund. (Barnabas Fund)

Victims of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo counseled by workers from Barnbas Fund. (Barnabas Fund)

(Morning Star News) – Uniformed men suspected of belonging to the Muslim Defense International (MDI) Islamist militant group have killed five women and four men near a predominantly Christian town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, two months after a massacre in the same area.

Armed with guns and machetes, the suspected militants from the Uganda-based group on July 5 attacked three Christian communities near the town of Oicha in eastern Congo, killing the nine people including a church elder, according to U.K.-based aid organization Barnabas Fund. The assailants also looted homes and stole livestock, Barnabas Fund reported.

The slaughter took place after a similar massacre on May 3 on Christians in a village 15 miles north of Oicha in which MDI killed at least 30 Christians. The violence prompted thousands of area villagers to flee. Barnabas Fund reported that local Non-Governmental Organizations estimate that Islamist militants have killed more than 1,000 people killed in predominately Christian eastern DRC between October 2014 and May 2016, and nearly 1,500 abducted and more than 34,000 forcibly displaced.

“Women and children have also been the target of sexual violence,” Barnabas Fund stated.

Formerly known as Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the MDI established a base in the eastern Congo more than 10 years ago, after the Ugandan army ejected them from of Uganda. The United Nations estimates the group is responsible for more than 500 deaths in the region since 2014.

Analysts believe MDI has links with Somalia’s al-Shabaab, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, and even Al Qaeda, Barnabas Fund stated.

“They are also known to have forced Christians to convert to Islam,” the group reported.

Photo: Victims of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo are counseled by workers from Barnabas Fund. (Barnabas Fund)

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/?   

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/islamist-militants-kill-nine-christians-in-democratic-republic-of-congo/feed/ 0
Baptist Pastor Loses Hand to Muslim Fulani Herdsman in Nasarawa State, Nigeria http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/baptist-pastor-loses-hand-to-muslim-fulani-herdsman-in-nasarawa-state-nigeria/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/baptist-pastor-loses-hand-to-muslim-fulani-herdsman-in-nasarawa-state-nigeria/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:23:00 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5777 The Rev. Hamza Alkali at Federal Medical Centre, Keffi. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Hamza Alkali at Federal Medical Centre, Keffi. (Morning Star News)

KEFFI, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Two days after a slain pastor in one part of Nasarawa state, Nigeria was buried, a Muslim Fulani herder in another part of the state cut off part of the hand of another pastor working on his farm.

The Rev. Hamza Alkali, 66, had to have the rest of his hand and wrist amputated. He told Morning Star News he managed to tackle the assailant and wrest the knife away from him or he would have been killed in the attack in Sabon Gida village, near Keffi, on July 7, two days after Muslim Fulani herdsmen with machetes killed the Rev. Zakariya Joseph Kurah at his farm near Lafia, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) away.

“If God was not with me, the Fulani man could have succeeded in taking my life,” Pastor Alkali said. “God was with me, because I told the Fulani man that God who created me in His image will not give him power to kill me.”

Affiliated with the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Pastor Alkali said when he first saw the herdsman coming onto his farm he thought he was just passing through. He continued working when the Fulani came up to him without greeting and asked him to hand over his mobile phone.

“Shocked at the Fulani man’s audacity, I wanted to know from him whether he was asking for my mobile phone because he lost his somewhere, or he was ordering me to hand over my mobile phone to him. The Fulani man insisted that I should give him my mobile phone. I then responded by telling him that I left my mobile phone at home.”

The herdsman then told the pastor he would search him.

“I was baffled and wanted to know why he would want to search me,” Pastor Alkali said. “He bluntly told me that if I don’t hand over my mobile phone to him he would kill me. Then I now told him, ‘You have no right or power to kill me. The God that created me and sent me to this place will not allow you to kill me.’ I repeated these words twice to him.”

Pastor Alkali came to Nasarawa state from his native Kaduna state more than 14 years ago. The herdsman’s intent was first to take away his mobile phone to prevent him from getting help once he attacked him, he said.

“Suddenly, the Fulani man pulled out his sword and attacked me. When I saw the sword he was dangling coming towards my face, I tried to protect my face raising my hands up, and within seconds the sword cut off my left hand into two. I saw part of my cut-off hand on the ground bouncing up and down. I then realized that if in the first attempt to kill me the Fulani man cut off my hand, unless I do something to protect myself, this Fulani man would no doubt in his second attempt to kill me cut off my head.”

The pastor rushed at him, wrestled with him and held him, in spite of his severed, bleeding hand. While held on the ground the herdsman was still gripping the sword, and the pastor managed to snatch it from him. The assailant ran away.

“I was there and the blood from my cut-off hand was rushing out,” Pastor Alkali said. “I started shouting and calling on some Christians working on farms close to mine to help rescue me. They came and pursued the Fulani man. But then they could not get him, and so they returned to find ways of taking me to the hospital.”

They took him first to the police station at Sabon Gida, where he pastors a congregation of 80 people, and from there police took him to the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi.

Pastor Alkali said he has never had any conflicts with the assailant, whom he had never met before, or any other Fulani herdsman, so he was surprised that he was attacked for no apparent reason except that he was a Christian pastor.

Throughout years of doing ministry in Sabon Gida he has enjoyed good rapport with both Christians and Muslims, he said. Many Muslims visited him in the hospital, he said.

“Both the Muslim leader in community and chief imam of the mosque in the village also visited me here in this hospital,” he said. “And this is all because of the way and manner I related well with them while working as a pastor there.”

A father of four, Pastor Alkali had pastored Sabon Gida Baptist Church between 1992 and 1996 and then retired, but in 2011 members of another congregation (undisclosed for security reasons) asked him to pastor their church.

He said that since Jesus Christ was persecuted, Christians must endure hardship and face any persecution head-on.

“Every Christian that is passing through persecution should stand firm, as God will not abandon such a person,” he said. “Our persecutors should know that one day they will stand before God to account for what they done here on earth. So what they should do is to come closer to God. They should repent and leave the evil ways they are following.”

The pastor said he and many other Christians in Nigeria are attacked for their faith.

“There are many out there who are victims of such attacks, and they are suffering,” he said. “These armed Fulani men are killing innocent people in Nigeria. The best thing that needs to be done by the Federal Government of Nigeria is that it must act to end these atrocities against Christians. These killers should be stopped.”

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/?   

 

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/baptist-pastor-loses-hand-to-muslim-fulani-herdsman-in-nasarawa-state-nigeria/feed/ 2
Government Fires Teacher from Christian School in North Khartoum, Sudan http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/government-fires-teacher-from-christian-school-in-north-khartoum-sudan/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/government-fires-teacher-from-christian-school-in-north-khartoum-sudan/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:31:19 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5771 Police arrive at Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church in North Khartoum on a previous raid on Nov. 24, 2014. (Morning Star News)

Police arrive at Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church in North Khartoum on a previous raid on Nov. 24, 2014. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Police in Sudan last month showed up at a Christian school, handed over a letter of dismissal of the headmistress and physically removed her, installing another teacher in her office, sources said.

Civilians supporting Muslim investors’ desire to take over the church property on which the Bahri Evangelical School stands in North Khartoum accompanied police who came to the site on June 2 and gave school leaders the letter of dismissal of headmistress Gisma Saeed. They then broke her office doors and replaced her with a teacher of their own, sources said.

Police also detained and released Saeed that day.

She was fired for criticizing the attempted handover of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church property, a source said. Her dismissal by higher school officials under orders from the government was seen as part of a government attempt to help the Muslim business interest take over the property on which the school stands.

The dismissal letter, dated in March, was stamped by the Ministry of General Education. The principal said school leaders have written a letter of complaint to the ministry, asking officials to give reasons for the sacking. A ministry worker told school leaders that officials would look into the lack of transparency as to why Saeed was fired, but no time frame was given for doing so. Sources said the government is stalling.

“It has been now two weeks, and the ministry has not properly addressed the issue,” a source said nearly a week ago.

The teacher was among 14 Christians arrested on July 7 for trying to keep authorities from seizing the school. She and the others were released on July 10 after paying a fine of 300 Sudanese pounds (US$50).

Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), has been the subject of government harassment, arrests and demolition of part of its worship center as Muslim investors have tried to take it over. Authorities charged two South Sudanese pastors, the Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael, with crimes calling for the death penalty due to their efforts to defend the church against the illegal sale of its property to the Muslim business interest. They were released following eight months in prison.

Michael, 49, was arrested in December 2014 after encouraging the church. Reith, 36, was arrested on Jan. 11, 2015 after submitting a letter from South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church leaders inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

Last year a court ruled that committees imposed on the church to enable Muslim investors to take it over were illegal.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Sudan fought a civil war with the South Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2016 report.

Sudan ranked eighth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

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

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

###

 © 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/government-fires-teacher-from-christian-school-in-north-khartoum-sudan/feed/ 1
Former Imam in Eastern Uganda Loses Home, Family, Work after Turning to Christ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/former-imam-in-eastern-uganda-loses-home-family-work-after-turning-to-christ/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/former-imam-in-eastern-uganda-loses-home-family-work-after-turning-to-christ/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:23:06 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5764 Damaged red pepper plantation and store of Kuluseni Iguru Tenywa. (Morning Star News)

Damaged red pepper plantation and store of Kuluseni Iguru Tenywa. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A 53-year-old man in eastern Uganda sits alone in a small shanty after losing his family, house and business because he left Islam for Christianity.

Muslim relatives drove Kuluseni Iguru Tenywa, a former imam, from his ancestral home the night of June 27 in Budhagali village, Jinja District. Led by his brother-in-law, 45-year-old Isa Nsaja, the relatives gathered outside Tenywa’s house.

“I heard people talking outside my house around 8 p.m., saying that they wanted to take away my life and, ‘We cannot watch the whole family turning to Christianity,’” Tenywa told Morning Star News.

He escaped through a back door.

“I had to flee that night, leaving my entire family behind,” said the father of four children, ages 10, 12, 14 and 17.

Tenywa said an evil spirit had been tormenting him for many years before he visited Elim Church in his village on May 28.

“I was prayed for in the power of Isa [Jesus] and invited him into my heart, which broke the strength of the evil spirit that was troubling me,” he said. “I remember my vision got blurred and I felt faint. The pastor authoritatively, using some commanding words in Isa’s name, finally delivered me.”

When the story of Tenywa’s conversion reached his family and other relatives, they became incensed and told him to go back to Islam because it was the religion of his clan, he said. Tenywa told them he could not deny what Jesus had done for him.

“Since then they started harassing me, taking me for a nobody at home, including my wife, Fatiyah, and children,” he said. “Fatiyah started provoking me. My wife even refused to give me food and began calling me an infidel.”

Tenywa continued sharing fellowship at Elim Church Budhagali, further enraging his relatives, who on June 6 damaged his red pepper plantation and store and stopped him from cultivating his portion of land. He registered a complaint with the Local Council 1 chairperson, who intervened without effect.

Now without land and the food it provided, Tenywa has no work, no meals and no wife and children. Family members so opposed his new-found faith they had tried to cast spells on him.

“The family even tried to bewitch me,” he said. “But God protected me.”

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.  

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/?   

Photo: Damaged red pepper plantation and store of Kuluseni Iguru Tenywa. (Morning Star News)

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/former-imam-in-eastern-uganda-loses-home-family-work-after-turning-to-christ/feed/ 1
One Dead, Several Injured in Islamist Attacks on Copts in Egypt http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/one-dead-several-injured-in-islamist-attacks-on-copts-in-egypt/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/one-dead-several-injured-in-islamist-attacks-on-copts-in-egypt/#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2016 11:20:14 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5752 Church building burned in Luxor, Egypt.

Church building burned in Luxor, Egypt. (Nation Without Borders)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – One Christian is dead, several others have been wounded and a fire gutted a church building after Muslims across Egypt waged a weekend of violence against Copts.

In Tahana El-Gabal village in Minya Governorate, on Sunday night (July 17) Fam Mary Khalaf, 27, was overpowered by a group of Muslims who stabbed him repeatedly in the chest. One of the knife stabs went directly into his heart, killing him instantly, a statement from the local parish reported.

Three others were seriously injured in the attack: Nagib Hanna, father of the Rev. Metaous, a local Coptic priest; Malak Aziz, brother of the Rev. Boutrous, another local priest; and Azza Jouma, a Christian neighbor of the three victims, was stabbed in the face.

The attack started when four Muslims began harassing Metaous’s primary school-age son as his grandfather was looking after him outside his home. The men threatened to run the boy over, witnesses told human rights activists investigating the incident. Once the stabbing began, the group of four quickly grew into a mob of more than two dozen screaming, “Stand by your Muslim brother!”

The assault was one of numerous cases of violence against Copts in Minya Governorate over the past few months, including an attack in May in which an elderly Coptic woman was stripped, beaten and paraded naked through her village streets because of a rumor, later shown to be false, that her son was having a romantic relationship with a Muslim woman.

Ishak Ibrahim, a human rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), said the attacks in Egypt and specifically in Minya continue because no one is being punished for committing them.

“What happened in Minya is nothing but a natural result of not enforcing the law in previous sectarian attacks against the Copts, and forcing the Copts to go through reconciliation meetings and obey illegal solutions that are demeaning,” he said.

The Tahana El-Gabal stabbing death came about a day after a mob of Muslims, enraged over a rumor that a church building was being constructed in the governorate, attacked Copts in their village. Starting shortly after 9 p.m. on Friday (July 15), groups of Muslims set on the Copts in the village of Abu Yacoub, causing minor injuries and torching five homes.

The attack lasted into the early morning hours of Saturday (July 16). Firefighters showed up several hours after the structures had been destroyed.

The bishop of Minya, identified according to tradition only by his consecrated name, Makarious, said in a press statement that the rioting mobs were in complete violation of the law and that there was no excuse for the violence.

“Nobody has the right to attack others and kill and destroy their property, no matter what,” he said.

The Abu Yacoub riot was the second such incident in 15 days to take place in Minya Governorate over a rumor that a church building was being constructed, and the third in the country in 30 days. In a surprisingly similar incident, on June 30 another mob rioted in response to a rumor of the building of a church in Kom El Loofy village in Minya Governorate. The 300-strong mob torched four Coptic-owned homes and otherwise harassed or assaulted Copts.

On June 17 in Amriya, a village south of Alexandria, local Muslims accused area Copts of building a church in a Coptic-owned construction site and began rioting. The mob assaulted Coptic men in the village and then attacked and looted several Christian-owned homes and a Coptic community center.

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

The EIPR’s Ibrahim said the anti-church riots pose a dangerous problem for Copts, because they indicate that even if laws in Egypt change to allow them to freely construct church buildings, certain elements of Egyptian society still wouldn’t allow it.

“The government is not strong enough to protect the Copts from all these attacks,” he said.

Authorities are now trying to force Coptic communities in all the cases into what is known as a reconciliation process. Instead of criminally charging the perpetrators of Christian persecution, the government seemingly does everything it can to force victims into “Reconciliation Committees.”

Reconciliation Committees are based on traditional tribal councils, where two equal entities come together to solve a dispute. The committees are supposed to lead to equitable justice for all parties, but because Copts have significantly less power coming to the table than members of the Muslim majority, they are often victimized a second time instead of receiving justice. In some cases, Copts have been made to pay damages to attackers who destroyed their property in unprovoked incidents.

Bishop Makarious has urged all the victims to stand firm and refuse to participate in such committees because the perpetrators so often escape without punishment.

“We’re going to continue demanding the enforcement of the law and will not give up,” he said. “Every time they are set free, that is just encouraging others to do attacks in the same way, because they feel they are protected by the government.”

While mobs are burning down Coptic homes, churches are destroyed in mysterious fires. On Saturday (July 16) at 2:30 a.m., Copts rushed out into the streets of Al-Madamoud in Luxor Governorate to find flames shooting out of the roof of the Church of the Archangel Michael. An iconographer restoring the church’s religious paintings was stuck inside the building on the top floor in a room for visitors.

He had been allowed to sleep in facilities on the top floor of the church building. He was screaming for help and was about to jump, likely to his death or at least a crippling injury, but the gathered crowd was able to save him with a ladder.

When people pushed open the doors of the church building to go inside and fight the fire, they found the altar engulfed in flames and the blaze spreading everywhere. The men and women began trying to douse the flames with garden hoses and bottles of drinking water. By the time firefighters arrived two and a half hours later, the building was gutted.

The next morning, Safwat Samaan, director of human rights group Nation Without Borders, was able to visit the scene. Members of the congregation crowded into the blackened shell of the build with tears welling up in their eyes.

“It broke my heart to see old men, eyes full of tears and women wailing,” he said.

Now members of the congregation are afraid authorities will claim the fire was accidental, as officials nationwide have in so many other church building fires. Authorities claim the fires are accidental, started by unattended candles or an electrical short, even when no candles are present and electricity is shut off to the building.

That was the ruling in the fire at the Catholic Church of St. George, also located in Luxor Governorate, which caught fire under mysterious circumstances on April 20 at 3 a.m. Authorities claimed the fire was the result of either unattended candles or a short in a wire, but there were no candles, and a church attendant had turned off the main electric line to the building.

Because of the similarities between the fires at the Church of the Archangel Michael and the Church of St. George, many Copts have suspicions that a serial arsonist is targeting churches in Luxor, Samaan said.

“I wonder if this was just an accident, or if this was a planned arson, but the results will be in the hands of the firefighters and the police,” Samaan said. “I am concerned they will come to yet another all too convenient ruling.”

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/?   

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/one-dead-several-injured-in-islamist-attacks-on-copts-in-egypt/feed/ 1
Deep Love, Indescribable Pain for Family of Slain Evangelist in Nigeria http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/deep-love-indescribable-pain-for-family-of-slain-evangelist-in-nigeria/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/deep-love-indescribable-pain-for-family-of-slain-evangelist-in-nigeria/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 18:32:55 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5743 Slain evangelist Eunice Mojisola Olawale. (Courtesy of family)

Slain evangelist Eunice Mojisola Olawale. (Courtesy of family)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – The last words of an evangelist who was killed while she was street-preaching here on Saturday (July 9) were, “Blood of Jesus,” her husband told Morning Star News.

Eunice Mojisola Olawale, a deaconess in the Redeemed Christian Church of God that her husband pastors in a suburb of Abuja, was stabbed and cut to death by a band of Islamists in the streets of Kubwa in the early morning. Born July 23, 1974, the mother of seven children was killed two weeks before her 42nd birthday.

“My wife loved Jesus so very much,” pastor Olawale Elisha of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), in the Gbazango area of Kubwa, told Morning Star News. “Some of the people living close to the spot where she was killed told us that they heard her last words as she was being murdered. They said she was shouting, ‘Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesus!’ And that was the end.”

A Muslim leader and five other Muslims from a mosque in the Gbazango area of Kubwa have been arrested in connection with the murder, the pastor said. He said he desires the killers to repent and join her in heaven.

“My desire is that our persecutors get to know God – our desire is to see God arresting them one by one to confess Jesus Christ,” Pastor Elisha said. “You know when Jesus Christ saves their souls, Satan and hell will lose. If we desire that those who persecute us should die, then we are increasing the population of hell. The Bible says there is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents.”

Pastor Elisha, whose church has about 70 members, said God has given Christians a ministry of reconciliation.

“Our persecutors were also created in God’s image,” he said. “It is because we are weak that we think people that are doing evil are stronger. But if we are committed, God knows how to handle our persecutors and increase people coming to His kingdom.”

His wife had a premonition about being in heaven a few weeks before her death, he told Morning Star News.

“There was a day three weeks back when she called out and said, ‘…my Husband.’ I responded thinking she had something to tell me, but then she told me she was not talking to me, but Jesus. I responded by telling her that she is right by saying she was a heavenly bride, but by still living here on earth, I was her husband. And she jokingly asked whether I was jealous of her becoming the bride of Christ. After laughing over things, she began to sing of Christ being the lover of her soul.”

The day before she was killed, he asked the family if they would pray together in the living room in advance of her going to Abuja for a women’s fellowship conference.

“However, she asked me to kindly allow her have some quiet time with the Lord,” he said. “And when she went into our bedroom, she was there praying for three hours. She was in there praising and worshipping God. And when she finally came out of the bedroom, I could sense the peace and brightness of God on her face.”

Pastor Olawale Elisha speaks of his slain wife in his home in suburb of Abuja. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Olawale Elisha speaks of his slain wife in his home in suburb of Abuja. (Morning Star News)

Unspeakable pain accompanies the fond memories and martyr theology. When on Saturday (July 9) some of Pastor Elisha’s children overheard neighborhood kids playing soccer say that a woman who preaches regularly had been killed, they rushed home to ask him if she had returned.

“I tried calling her mobile phone but was unable to dial her phone number, as my hands were shaking and my mind unstable at the news,” he said. “We then rushed out to the scene.”

People playing soccer at the scene of the attack could not tell the pastor, his son and daughter what had happened, he said – they only looked at them. A police officer confirmed that a woman had been killed and told him to go to a police station to find out her identity. He and the two children drove to the police station, parking the car outside the station gates since they were barricaded for security reasons.

“As we were entering the premises of the police station, we saw a police pick-up van driving past us at the gate,” he said. “My daughter turned around and looked inside the pick-up truck and saw the corpse of my wife; she screamed, and this attracted my attention to the back of the truck. I saw the corpse of my wife and could not bear what I saw. I collapsed and was on the ground while my children were crying.”

A police officer took his cell phone and called two of his associate pastors to come over to the police station. They also called Pastor Elisha’s younger brother, since the pastor was too devastated to drive. Police later came to his home to get a statement from him.

Olawale had been preaching Christ on the streets for six years, following in the footsteps of her evangelist mother, the pastor said.

“I was told that my mother in-law would go ‘round streets, ringing a bell and urging passersby to receive Jesus into their lives,” he said. “Sharing the gospel with others on the street is a lifestyle to my wife’s family. Her younger sister also goes out to the streets to preach Christ. Love and compassion is the hallmark of the life of my wife.”

Olawale is a martyr whose faith has challenged many people’s lives, he said.

“This challenge is that we need to wake up to the task of sharing the gospel,” he said. “My joy in this tragedy is that my wife is resting in the bosom of the Lord. That a woman with children, not a girl, could just sacrifice her life for Christ. I am telling you if we are going to the same heaven she is in now, then we need to wake up.”

With Christians facing persecution throughout most of Nigeria, especially in the northeast, Pastor Elisha said the more persecution the church experiences, the more growth and glory to God.

“In John 16:1-2, Jesus told us that He would not leave us in ignorance – that a time is coming when people will drag us out of synagogues or churches to kill us and think that they are rendering service to God, because they don’t know Him or the Father.”

Persecution is not a punishment, but rather enduring persecution faithfully is a way of expressing Christ’s love, he said, adding that there is a need to pray for Christians in northern Nigeria and assist those in need. They need to be encouraged in prayers to respond to persecution not with violence, but with Christ’s message of peace, love and joy, he said.

“We are sheep, and He is the Shepherd,” he said. “A sheep cannot fight for itself.”

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/?   

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/deep-love-indescribable-pain-for-family-of-slain-evangelist-in-nigeria/feed/ 1
Authorities in Sudan Jail Christians Defending School on Property of Embattled Church http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/authorities-in-sudan-jail-christians-defending-school-on-property-of-embattled-church/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/authorities-in-sudan-jail-christians-defending-school-on-property-of-embattled-church/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 15:36:18 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5749 Bahri (North) Khartoum in relation to Nile and capital area. (Wikipedia)

Bahri (North) Khartoum in relation to Nile and capital area. (Wikipedia)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Sudanese security personnel in North Khartoum last week jailed 14 Christians after raiding an evangelical school on a church property the government is helping a Muslim business interest to seize, sources said.

Leaders of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church were inside the Bahri Evangelical School in North Khartoum trying to stop authorities from taking parts of the building at the time of the raid on July 7, they said. One source said police insulted the Christians and used force to arrest them. They were detained until Sunday (July 10) and released after paying fines.

Prior to their arrest, police detained 11 Christians at the school that morning but quickly released them. Of the 14 Christians arrested later that day and released on Sunday (July 10), 13 paid fines of 300 Sudanese pounds (about $US50), while one paid a fine of 500 Sudanese pounds ($US80) after a court found them guilty of public disorder and opposing police personnel under Public Order law article 77/169.

Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), has been the subject of government harassment, arrests and demolition of part of its worship center as Muslim investors have tried to take it over. Authorities charged two South Sudanese pastors, the Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael, with crimes calling for the death penalty due to their efforts to defend the church against the illegal sale of its property to the Muslim business interest. They were released following eight months in prison.

Michael, 49, was arrested in December 2014 after encouraging the church. Reith, 36, was arrested on Jan. 11, 2015 after submitting a letter from South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church leaders inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

Christians called for prayers for the church leaders and other Christians arrested last week.

“Pray for them, because they are being persecuted because of Christ,” said one former church leader who fled the country due to persecution in 2011.

Police aboard five vehicles raided the compound of the evangelical school, which is owned by the SPEC.

Last year a court ruled that committees imposed on the church to enable Muslim investors to take it over were illegal.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Sudan fought a civil war with the South Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2016 report.

Sudan ranked eighth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

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

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

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/authorities-in-sudan-jail-christians-defending-school-on-property-of-embattled-church/feed/ 0
Converts from Islam in Malaysia Detained in ‘Faith Purification Centers’ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/converts-from-islam-in-malaysia-detained-in-faith-purification-centers/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/converts-from-islam-in-malaysia-detained-in-faith-purification-centers/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2016 19:39:33 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5736 Classroom at Faith Purification Center in Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Selangor state. (Government of Malaysia)

Classroom at Faith Purification Center in Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Selangor state. (Government of Malaysia)

(Morning Star News) – Converts to non-Islamic faiths in Malaysia can be detained for more than three months in “Faith Purification Centers.”

While some converts are arbitrarily arrested and sent to the centers, detention in one of the three camps is “slowly gaining preference among sharia judges in Malaysia” as an alternative to prison sentencing, Mohd Al Adib Samuri of the National University of Malaysia wrote in 2013.

It is difficult to find descriptions of life in the centers, but one former detainee’s account, smuggled out of Malaysia and published in India, describes how she was taken from her workplace, interrogated, and then placed in one of the religious rehabilitation centers – all on the same day, and without legal representation or court proceedings. The young woman reported that when she asked for a lawyer, authorities told her she didn’t need one.

Supposedly there to be “re-educated,” she was surprised to find nothing was actually taught, according to her account in “Pearls of Great Price” by R. Hunt (OM Press India 2010, reprinted 2014). The warden and staff quickly discovered that she knew more about Islam than they did, and instead of teaching anything, they tried to entice her back to Islam with the “charm approach,” the author notes.

“Folk Islam, with its attendant black magic, was in play here,” Hunt writes.

Faith Purification Center in Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Selangor state. (Government of Malaysia)

Faith Purification Center in Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Selangor state. (Government of Malaysia)

Though the center was filled with male drug addicts, she was an obedient and respectful prisoner. After many months, the warden told her to write a description of her conversion to Christianity, instructing her to blame Christians for fraudulently or forcibly converting her. Instead, she wrote the truth of genuinely placing her faith in Christ. The warden tore it up three times and then caned her, which she endured quietly. Several weeks later, she miraculously escaped during a rainstorm that knocked out electrical power.

In his academic paper on Faith Purification Centers (Pusat Pemurnian Akidah), Samuri changes the translation of the Malay words for “Faith Purification” to “Islamic Rehabilitation.” Of the three centers, two are in peninsular Malaysia and one in Sabah, East Malaysia, which shares an island with Indonesia.

In “Detention of Syariah Offenders in Pusat Pemurnian Akidah (Islamic Rehabilitation Centers) in Malaysia: Legal Framework and Issues,” presented at the Law and the Muslim World International Conference on Oct. 30, 2013 at Oxford, United Kingdom, Samuri summarizes the rehabilitation program: It consists of Koran recitation classes, guidance sessions, congregational prayers, Friday assemblies, group counseling, community service, aerobics on Saturdays, cooking workshops, handicraft workshops, and gardening/farming workshops. Lectures are given on Islamic special days about their importance in Islam. A monthly prayer evening and personal development workshop are part of the program.

The professor gives no details on the content or methods used in the guidance, counseling, or personal development sessions.

The impact of sharia courts and use of the re-education camps could expand as strict Islam gains traction in the country. In May the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party introduced a strict Islamic penal code known as hudud law, to be debated in October, which would be applied to Muslims by sharia courts. The bill was introduced with the backing of the majority United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which heads the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied that the legislation would bring full implementation of hudud law, which calls for such punishments as stoning and amputation, but opponents give little credence to his claim.

Creeping Islamization in Malaysia would mean more cases of violation of Islamic law, more power for sharia courts and more use of the re-education centers.

Dormitory at Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Faith Purification Center. (Government of Malaysia)

Dormitory at Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Faith Purification Center. (Government of Malaysia)

The number of detainees in the Islamic rehabilitation centers is kept secret, though an estimate may be made based upon their size. The one in Ulu Yam (Batul Iman), Selangor state, the largest, has been expanded to house 100 people, up from 50. It now has separate men’s and women’s facilities. The Jelebu facility, in Negri Sembilan state, appears to be somewhat smaller. A photo of the staff and visitors implies a capacity of 50 or 60 detainees.

The three Purification of Faith Centers probably do not hold more than 200 detainees at any given time. The head of the Department of Islamic Development (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia, or JAKIM), Datuk Othman Mustapha, reportedly said in 2012 that there was no need to build new centers.

“We have the experts,” Mustapha said. “Our staff have the zeal and ability to tackle cases that are found in the states.”

The centers in Ulu Yam (Batul Iman) and Jelebu state were built in the late ‘90s. Apparently the center in Jelebu was closed for about five years due to lack of detainees; a remainder had been moved to an internment camp in Kamunting, which operated under the Internal Securities Act. During the closure, the center was used for narcotics rehabilitation, a youth camp and a police training facility.

Conversion Pains

It is difficult to estimate the number of converts from Islam in Malaysia. Online newspaper MalaysiaKini reported that 863 people had applied to leave Islam from 2000 to 2010. During that period, 168 had been allowed to do so. That works out to 86 applications per year, with 19 percent being granted.

Others have done studies at the state level and found the number of applications very small, with approval rates even lower. Many of those requesting to leave Islam are not ethnic Malays but others, including persons who converted for marriage or other such reasons. The low rate of approval undoubtedly influences the application rate, which is extremely low for a country of 30 million people.

A non-Malay Muslim in Sarawak state, Rooney Rebit, won the right to convert to Christianity when in March the High Court in Kuching upheld his choice. Rebit was born into a family that was originally Christian, with his parents converting to Islam along with the rest of the family when he was 8 years old. The judge ruled that Rebit was underage when he became a Muslim and mature enough at age 24 to make a conscious decision to be a Christian, but it remains to be seen what precedent the case could hold for those born into Muslim families, and presumably it would establish no precedent for ethnic Malays.

About 50 percent of the population is ethnic Malay, and the rest are ethnic Chinese, Indian, and indigenous tribes. Article 160 of the Constitution dictates that all ethnic Malays are Muslim, and evangelization of Malays is against the law. As the Malay states became more Islamist in the 1990s, they began to enact more sharia, and the Federal Department of Islamic Development became more active in promoting Sunni Islam.

Most of Malaysia’s states have enacted their own versions of sharia, and in 10 of them leaving Islam is a crime. All states have anti-apostasy laws except Sarawak. At least three states send potential apostates to the Islamic rehabilitation centers, where they can be held for 100 days to three years. Sharia courts determine the time and approve extensions.

The sharia court system is beyond the reach of civil legal procedures and courts in these cases.

“The [civil] courts referred to in Clause (1) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts,” states Article 121 of the Malaysian Constitution. The laws, the sharia court system and the “re-education centers” make conversion from Islam almost impossible to do legally in Malaysia.

It appears that Malays who do change their beliefs do not attempt to change their identity cards; anecdotal evidence bears this out. Fear of re-education centers and persecution by their families force Malay Christians either to follow Jesus secretly or to move to Commonwealth countries such as Australia or New Zealand, where they can openly worship Jesus.

Malaysia’s “freedom of religion” is thus a claim under conjecture. Article 3 of the constitution states, “Islam is the religion of the federation; but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.” Adherents of every religion have the right to propagate their faith, but state and federal law “may control or restrict the propagation of religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam,” according to Article 11. In other words, adherents of all religions are free as long as they do not bother Muslims (who are mostly Malays).

It is illegal in Malaysia to lead ethnic Malays, who are all considered Muslims by law, to Christ. Any Malay who tries to change his or her religion can be detained on the orders of a sharia courts; there is no recourse to civil courts or “right to choose” another religion. For ethnic Malays, leaving Islam is a crime in most states.

Lapsed Malay Muslims can be detained in Faith Purification Centers for 100 days, a period that can be extended by sharia courts. In summary, freedom of religion, the right to legal representation, freedom from involuntary detention, and other rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not available for Muslim Malays who convert to other faiths.

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/?   

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/converts-from-islam-in-malaysia-detained-in-faith-purification-centers/feed/ 0
Christian in Pakistan Charged with ‘Blasphemy’ after Argument with Muslim http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/christian-in-pakistan-charged-with-blasphemy-after-argument-with-muslim-friend/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/christian-in-pakistan-charged-with-blasphemy-after-argument-with-muslim-friend/#respond Wed, 13 Jul 2016 17:41:47 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5727 First Information Report of blasphemy accusation against Nadeem Masih. (Morning Star News)

First Information Report of blasphemy accusation against Nadeem James. (Morning Star News)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian father of two in Pakistan was arrested last night under blasphemy charges after a Muslim friend accused him of forwarding a poem on an instant messaging application, sources said.

Nadeem James, a 26-year-old Catholic in Gujrat District, had argued about religion with his Muslim friend, Yasir Bashir, a few days before Bashir accused him of using WhatsApp messaging to forward a poem allegedly disrespectful of Muhammad and other Islamic figures, James’ brother told Morning Star News.

Talking by phone from an undisclosed location, Shahbaz James said police had falsely charged his younger brother under pressure from local Islamist leaders, particularly Hafiz Muhammad Tariq, prayer leader of Yaqoobabad mosque in Sarai Alamgir, Gujrat District. Shahbaz James said the family learned on Sunday evening (July 10) that Bashir had registered the case with police.

“We were not at home when the police raided our house to arrest Nadeem,” he said. “However, when the cops couldn’t find any of us in the premises, they took away two women of the family – my wife and the wife of my elder brother, Faryad.”

The two sisters-in-law of Nadeem James were released immediately after he was arrested last night, police officials told Morning Star News. Shahbaz James and his older brother have taken shelter with a Christian organization. Nadeem James, son of James Masih, was identified as Nadeem Masih in the police First Information Report (FIR).

“The charge against my brother is completely baseless,” Shahbaz James said. “Nadeem is uneducated and could not have possibly sent that text message. I’m certain that Yasir Bashir downloaded the supposedly blasphemous text onto Nadeem’s phone and then forwarded it to his cell number to build a case against my brother.”

A police official who requested anonymity told Morning Star News that officers registered the case against James under pressure from local Islamist leaders who had threatened to stage protests in the district if police delayed filing the FIR. The site of the alleged blasphemy is near Jehlum, where army troops were deployed in November 2015 after several hundred Muslims went on a rampage on suspicions that an Ahmadi man had desecrated the Koran. The mob burned down an Ahmadi place of worship and a cardboard factory owned by an Ahmadi.

Police confirmed to Morning Star News that Nadeem James was arrested Tuesday night (July 12). Relatives are caring for his two children, as he and his wife are separated, according to his brother. Shahbaz James said the two women, Najma Faryad and Samreen Shahbaz, were taken into custody illegally in order to pressure the accused into surrendering himself.

Inspector Sanaullah Dhillon of the City Police Station in Sarai Alamgir had flatly denied that police had taken the two women into custody, telling Morning Star News the family was spreading fake reports on social media to malign Pakistan, but Gujrat District Police spokesman Muhammad Ateeq acknowledged that they had been in “protective custody for security reasons.”

Ateeq added that some 200 policemen had been deployed to the Yaqoobabad area to maintain law and order. He said police filed case No. 301/16 under Sections 295-C (defaming Muhammad. punishable by death and a fine) and 295-A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings, punishable by up to 10 years of prison and a fine) on the basis of evidence provided by Bashir.

“According to our initial investigation, the WhatsApp text was sent to Yasir Bashir’s cell number on July 4, and the two sides had been negotiating a settlement until the talks broke down and Yasir Bashir informed us about the issue,” he said.

He said that police had taken Bashir’s cell phone and SIM card and had been raiding sites in efforts to arrest Nadeem James.

Bashir remained inaccessible in spite of Morning Star News efforts to contact him.

There are three Christian homes in Yaqoobabad, while some 50 Christian families live in nearby Father’s Colony, Shahbaz James said.

Surge in Blasphemy Cases

According to a recent report, an alliance of hundreds of Islamist lawyers is behind a rise in blasphemy prosecutions in Punjab Province that continued until 2015, when stricter rules slowed the trend.

The alliance, Tehreek-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood), offers free legal advice to complainants and has packed courtrooms with representatives, a tactic critics say is designed to help gain convictions. The stated mission of the Khatam-e-Nubuwwat lawyers’ forum and its leader, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, is uncompromising: to use its expertise and influence to ensure that anyone insulting Islam or its prophet, Muhammad, is charged, tried and executed.

Since Khatam-e-Nubuwwat was founded 15 years ago, the number of criminal blasphemy cases filed in Punjab, the group’s home base and Pakistan’s most populous province, tripled to 336 by 2014, according to police figures. It fell to 210 in 2015 as stricter provincial rules were applied, though watchdog groups said the number was still too high.

Critics of Pakistan’s blasphemy statues, including European governments, assert they are misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges that could see them face fines, life imprisonment or death by hanging.

Christian rights activist Napolean Qayyum said that the case against Nadeem James is yet another instance of blasphemy laws being misused to settle personal disputes.

“Moreover, the police unlawfully took the two women into custody on the pretext of ‘securing’ them,” he said. “The women should have been allowed to go to their relatives if police thought their lives were in danger, but there was no legal justification to keep them in detention for so long.”

The incident arose days after a Christian who reported an attempt to blackmail him for allegedly blaspheming Islam’s prophet was sentenced to death in a bizarre case riddled with police irregularities. Anjum Naz Sindhu, 65-year-old Catholic owner of a prominent chain of schools in Gujranwala, received the death sentence on June 27 following conviction for blasphemy – as did the two men convicted of blackmailing him. Javed Naz and his Muslim friend Jaffar Ali were also sentenced to death for concealing or otherwise handling a recording of remarks that allegedly blasphemed Muhammad.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone convicted of blasphemy, but anyone charged or accused of insulting Islam risks a violent death at the hands of vigilantes. A Christian laborer and his wife were thrown into the furnace of a brick kiln in 2014 after being wrongly accused of throwing pages of the Koran into the garbage.

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/?   

 

###

© 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.

]]>
http://morningstarnews.org/2016/07/christian-in-pakistan-charged-with-blasphemy-after-argument-with-muslim-friend/feed/ 0