Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Thu, 04 Feb 2016 20:22:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Humiliating Attack in India Tests Young Pastor’s Faith http://morningstarnews.org/2016/02/humiliating-attack-in-india-tests-young-pastors-faith/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/02/humiliating-attack-in-india-tests-young-pastors-faith/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:31:46 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5266 Protestors march for protection of Christian community on Jan. 31. (Morning Star News courtesy of Rev. Daniel Inbaraj)

Protestors march for protection of Christian community on Jan. 31. (Morning Star News courtesy of Rev. Daniel Inbaraj)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A pastor in northern India who was beaten and paraded through streets with his head half-shaved as crowds called for him to be cut to pieces said he is thankful that he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.

On Friday (Jan. 29) Hindu extremists posing as policemen picked up Avdhesh Savita, a 35-year-old father of four, from his home in Rendhar village in Uttar Pradesh state and took him to Orai, Jalaun District. They beat him, shaved half of his head, one eyebrow and one side of his moustache, and put him on a donkey as they led him in a procession through Orai.

They and others in the frenzied crowd mocked him, falsely accusing him of forcible conversion.

“The mob that was parading me was shouting, ‘Kill him, cut him in pieces,’ but I kept telling them that faith unites, it does not divide,” Savita told Morning Star News. “I told my tormentors that I believe in Christ out of my own freewill, and that I have never hurt anyone, but they just did not listen to me.”

The assailants were reportedly members of Yuvavahini (Youth Brigade), a Hindu nationalist group, and took him to the head office of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal in Orai, where others joined in the abuse.

“I kept praying throughout the ordeal, I am not afraid of dying,” Savita said. “I thought, ‘This is the day when I will stand before my Savior.’ But I also thought of my children, they are young, and that was my only concern. In the Lord I am persecuted, I am thankful for this privilege.”

The extremists picked up Savita, who became a Christian four years ago, in Rendhar, about 45 kilometers (27 miles) from Orai, in what appeared to be a police Jeep, and told him to come along for questioning, he said. Like him, his family members believed the men who came were policemen though they were in civilian clothes.

“They started hitting me once I was in the Jeep and continued hitting me on the way,” he told Morning Star News, in anguish. “They took me to the Bajrang Dal head office in Orai, where they hit me with their legs and fists, verbally abused me with the filthiest of language, shaved half my head, removed one eyebrow completely and half shaved my moustache. They then put me on a donkey and paraded me for about a half hour.”

The Hindu extremists took his jacket, which had money in it, and his mobile phone, said Savita, a poor lay pastor from the Dalit “untouchable” class that is lower than any of the Hindu caste levels.

Savita has two daughters, 16 and 14 years old, and two sons, 11 and 8.

Revenge Attack

The attack was rooted in the alleged instigator deciding to take vengeance on Savita because the pastor refused his request to give him money for alcohol and tobacco, a Christian leader said.

When Savita went to a Christian program in Varanasi from Dec. 18 to 23, Sangam Jatav was among three men from his village who had shown an interest in attending and accompanied him, the Rev. Daniel Inbaraj of the Mizpah Ministries told Morning Star News.

“On the fourth day of the program, Sangam Jatav asked Pastor Avdhesh for some money to buy alcohol and tobacco,” Pastor Inbaraj said. “When Avdhesh refused, he got furious. After returning from the program, Sangam Jatav went to Avdhesh’s house, threatened him and demanded money.”

Jatav demanded 20,000 rupees (US$294), saying that if Savita refused he would spread rumors that the pastor had tried to fraudulently convert him, and that he would get Bajrang Dal members to beat him, Savita said. Jatav subsequently called the Bajrang Dal, saying Savita had “converted him without his knowledge” and made him eat beef and desecrate photographs of Hindu gods by walking on them.

Jatav leveled the accusations in interviews with television stations, Pastor Inbaraj said.

“During the interviews, he alleged that the Christians forced him to eat beef, locked him in a room with the other two who had accompanied Avdhesh and him to the program, and forced him to walk on pictures of Hindu gods, Ram and Hanuman,” he said. “He also alleged that he was given 5,000 Indian rupees to become a Christian. But when the other two were quizzed by the police, they denied any such accusation.”

The other two men who attended the Christian program, Sunil Jatav and Ravi Saxena, said that they were never forced to eat beef, and that only vegetarian food was served, Pastor Inbaraj said.

“They did say that they attended religious discourses but denounced the claim of Sangam Jatav that they were forcibly converted,” he said. “‘We went to the program and came back safe,’ they said.”

Jatav was arrested on Sunday (Jan. 31) and remains in jail, police officials told Morning Star News. Three cases are registered against him, including one of attempted murder in connection with the attack on Savita, they said.

Orai Senior Inspector Alok Sinha told Morning Star News that nine Bajrang Dal members have been arrested, but he declined to give any more information, except to say that police were searching for other members.

Pastor Inbaraj said he would raise the issue of Hindu extremists using what appeared to be a police Jeep with the superintendent of police.

The Rev. Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesperson of the Roman Catholic Delhi Archdiocese, called the attack a “glaring example of the impunitythat Hindu extremist groups enjoy under the federal government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We demand a reply from the RSS [Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh], the parent body and the government,” he said.

John Dayal, spokesman for the United Christian Forum, told Morning Star News that election time in India seems to breed even more Hindu nationalist violence than that which takes place in provinces and towns where elections are not imminent.

“Uttar Pradesh, which is preparing for its legislative assembly elections, has seen considerable Hindutva activity in recent months, with both Christian and Muslims as its victims,” he said. “The state government, which is not controlled by the BJP, seems complicit on this violence.”

At the very least, Dayal said, the state government has failed to act on complaints.

“This blatant attempt to terrorize the community in the guise of protesting conversions is a case in point,” he said. “Uttar Pradesh does not have laws banning [fraudulent or forced] conversion such as exist in the states of Orissa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and three others. And yet both these Hindutva gangs and the police seem to believe that even the profession and propagation of faith is illegal. We condemn this manifestation of religious terrorism and call upon the state and Union governments to take strict action against it. Policemen guilty of complicity or impunity need also to be identified and brought to book.”

Two First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered against 150 to 200 unknown people at Orai and Rendhar police stations. The FIRs also name 13 people, including Jatav, who has been charged with attempt to murder (Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code), voluntary causing hurt (323), intentional insult to provoke breach of peace (504) and criminal intimidation (506) at Orai Police Station; and cheating by impersonation (419), cheating and dishonesty (420), punishment for extortion (384), impersonating a public servant (170) and public mischief with intent to incite (505) at Rendhar Police Station.

One FIR also names Akhilesh Dhiya, district convenor of Bajrang Dal at Jalaun. He has been charged with house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint (452), punishment for dacoity (395), kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person (365), promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion (153A), criminal intimidation (506), voluntary causing hurt (323) and punishment for defamation (500). Dhiya is absconding, and the police have yet to find him.

After the ordeal, Savita spent a night at the police station for interrogation and was released the next day when local Christian leaders intervened.

Living in Fear

Savita have moved to his parents’ place at a different village out of fear over his family’s safety. Because his wife and family must care for two animals, they cannot leave the village, he said. If the family left the area, they would have to sell their animals.

“My three elder children have stopped going to school, as they are very fearful,” he said. “We fear that they too might be kidnapped or insulted in the same manner.”

His brother, Mukesh Savita, said the attack seemed to be well-planned.

“My brother is in shock, but what can we do?” he said. “We are in a minority, we are Dalits. Even my family is very afraid. These people who did this to my brother are criminals, and till they are all arrested, we will not be able to live in peace.”

Village onlookers also mistook the assailants for policemen, he added.

“It would have been better if they had shot him,” he told Morning Star News. “This humiliation is a lot worse than death.”

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/2016/02/humiliating-attack-in-india-tests-young-pastors-faith/feed/ 0
Al Shabaab Kills Christians in Raid on Village in Coastal Kenya http://morningstarnews.org/2016/02/al-shabaab-kills-christians-in-raid-on-village-in-coastal-kenya/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/02/al-shabaab-kills-christians-in-raid-on-village-in-coastal-kenya/#respond Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:17:14 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5259 Kenya's Coast Province. (TUBS, Wikipedia)

Kenya’s Coast Province. (TUBS, Wikipedia)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – In a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya on Sunday (Jan. 31), Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them, area sources said.

In the Kaisari area of Maporomoko village, near Pandanguo about 25 miles inland from the Indian Ocean town of Lamu, Al Shabaab rebels attacked from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., a wounded survivor at Mpeketoni Sub-County Hospital told Morning Star News.

The victim, a Christian from the Maporomoko-Bondeni area who was shot in his right hand, said there were five or six heavily-armed assailants who spoke Somali and were dressed in military uniform. They shot two Christians to death, hacked and beheaded another and killed at least one other by setting his house on fire, he said.

“I could not understand them, so they shot me in my hand, but I managed to escape while a neighbor who was with me was beheaded by the other attackers,” the Christian (name withheld) said from his hospital bed. “As I fled for my life bleeding, I could see two houses burning. Those who were attacked are Christians. I am very sure that the attackers were looking for Christians.”

The beheaded man was identified only as Mwaura, a Christian.

“This is the third time the area has been attacked, and we have lost several Christians,” the survivor said.

The rebels, who are fighting government and regional forces in Somalia, regard the northern coastal area of Kenya as Islamic territory. Al Shabaab, linked with Al Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack in a call to news organization Al Jazeera.

“Our fighters attacked non-believers in the occupied Muslim land of Lamu,” a spokesman said. “Our Mujahideen [Jihadists] killed several non-believers in the attack. We will give more details later.”

Unknown people resembling Al Shabaab militants had previously been seen in Pandanguo, a predominantly Muslim area, an area Christian leader said. Pandanguo is about 60 miles from the Somalia border.

“The Muslims want to wholly own the coastal region, and they want that the Christians should leave the area for them, but our presence in Lamu will bring many to the Christian faith,” the pastor said. “God has called us to be the salt and the light and to lead many to the marvelous light of Christ.”

Maporomoko village has a population of about 2,000 people from Christian tribes – Kikuyus, Meru and Kamba – and from non-Christian or Muslim Orma, Boni and Wasanye tribes, as well as Somalis. The Al Shabaab militants attacked only the Christian areas, the Christian leader said.

The rebels burned homes, left several people wounded and kidnapped some Christians, according to various sources.

“Security forces were following the footpaths of those kidnapped, who disappeared into the Pandanguo area, which is the home of the Boni and Somalis,” the pastor said. “The Christians are now finding out about some of their missing neighbors. The security personnel are not disclosing information, as tension remains high in areas where Christians have settled themselves: Mpeketoni, Hindi and some parts of Maporomoko area, which has been a target of Al Shabaab militia.”

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet told media the attack occurred near Pandanguo, which witnessed killings during June 2014 Al Shabaab attacks. Boinnet reportedly said security personnel were in the area tracking down the militants.

“They were dressed in military attire and heavily armed,” a senior police officer reportedly said. “They spoke in the Somali language and shot at locals and beheaded others before escaping on foot.”

On June 15, 2014, Al Shabaab rebels attacked Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, selecting out Christian males as they killed more than 57 people, area sources said. The estimated 50 Al Shabaab militants attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in a five-hour assault with guns and grenades. Sources told Morning Star News the attackers were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater]” and killing whoever could not recite verses from the Koran.

After Sunday morning’s assault, Mpeketoni residents on Monday morning (Feb. 1) protested terror attacks by Al Shabaab militia in the region. Police had to stop the demonstration of angry Mpeketoni residents to keep them from retaliation attacks on Somalis living in the area. At the same time, hundreds of people in Kaisari, greater Maporomoko and nearby Jima and Nyatha villages have been seen fleeing their homes.

“We feel very insecure, and our lives are in danger,” a mother of four in Hindi told Morning Star News. “Next time, the attackers will come and destroy us completely.”

Al Shabaab rebels have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011, in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.

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/2016/02/al-shabaab-kills-christians-in-raid-on-village-in-coastal-kenya/feed/ 0
Sudan Releases One of Two Pastors Detained in December http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/sudan-releases-one-of-two-pastors-detained-in-december/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/sudan-releases-one-of-two-pastors-detained-in-december/#respond Sun, 31 Jan 2016 19:48:19 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5253 The Rev. Kwa Shamaal. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Kwa Shamaal. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Sudanese authorities have released one of two pastors detained in December, sources said.

The Rev. Kwa Shamaal, head of missions for the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), was arrested on Dec. 18 and released on Dec. 21 but had been required to report daily to the office of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), where he was held from 8 a.m. until midnight, sources said. That requirement was removed on Jan. 16.

His colleague, the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, SCOC vice-moderator, remains in detention without charges.

NISS officials were said to have been upset with the pastors for telling others that Christians faced persecution in Sudan. Authorities had arrested the two pastors from their respective homes at the same hour. No charges have been brought against them, although NISS officials were said to have objected to their Christian activities.

Since their arrest last year, Christians in Sudan and elsewhere have been praying fervently for the two pastors and for other Christians jailed in Sudan.

“Please do your best in prayer, and leave the rest to almighty God,” one leader said to his prayer group.

“We really miss you very much, my dad,” Abdelrahim’s son wrote in a Facebook post.

Both church leaders are from the Nuba Mountain region of South Kordofan state. Ethnic Nuba, along with Christians, face discrimination in Sudan, where President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

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

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

The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.

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 2015 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/2016/01/sudan-releases-one-of-two-pastors-detained-in-december/feed/ 0
Suicide Bombings in Two Towns in Nigeria Leave 26 Dead, Dozens Injured http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/suicide-bombings-in-two-towns-in-nigeria-leave-26-dead-dozens-injured/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/suicide-bombings-in-two-towns-in-nigeria-leave-26-dead-dozens-injured/#respond Fri, 29 Jan 2016 20:57:23 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5240 Parents in Chibok lament kidnapping of their daughters. (VOA)

Parents in Chibok lament kidnapping of their daughters. (VOA)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suicide attacks on two predominantly Christian communities in northeast Nigeria today and on Wednesday (Jan. 27) left at least 26 persons dead and dozens of others injured, sources said.

At noon today a suicide bomber suspected to have been sent by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group detonated explosives in a crowded market in Gombi, Adamawa state, killing at least eight people, sources said. Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, has continued to carry out terrorist attacks since losing territory to the Nigerian military last year.

“Some members of our church who escaped the attack in the market said they saw eight dead bodies, while about 28 others were injured,” the Rev. Bitrus Njidda, pastor of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in the town, told Morning Star News.

The Red Cross reported eight persons killed and 25 wounded in the bombing, said to have been carried out by a teenage boy.

Gombi was one of several Christian communities taken over by Boko Haram, and many of the town’s displaced Christians are EYN members still living in camps for internally displaced people in other parts of the country, the pastor said. Though the Nigerian military has since reclaimed Gombi, many of these displaced Christians have refused to return to the town due to fear of terrorists.

In Chibok, Borno state, suicide bombers suspected to have been sent by Boko Haram bombed a crowded market on Wednesday (Jan. 27), killing at least 17 civilians and a soldier and injuring at least 30 others, sources said. Following the government troop recovery of the town, the market had reopened that day for the first time since Boko Haram took over Chibok two years ago, area Christians said.

Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 high school girls in Chibok in April 2014 because of its mainly Christian population. Of the girls kidnapped since the Islamic extremist rebels seized the town two years ago, 219 remain missing.

Six suicide bombers reportedly entered Chibok on Wednesday, and The AP reported a military spokesman said that two of them were disguised as women.

Ayuba Ali, a resident of Chibok town, told Morning Star News that more than 15 persons lost their lives and another 30 were injured in the attack carried out in three locations in the town.

“Twenty-one wounded people have already been taken to Askira Uba General Hospital,” Ali said by phone. “Chibok is still not safe for displaced persons to return to.”

Njidda, who was a pastor and EYN church secretary in Chibok District before his transfer to Gombi, told Morning Star News that reports reaching him from Chibok indicate members of the church were affected.

“While I was pastoring the church there,” he added, “I had to bury more than 45 members of my church who were killed by Boko Haram Islamists in a single day. It is an incident I cannot forget in my life.”

The first explosion in Chibok reportedly hit at a military checkpoint, where a soldier was wounded and later succumbed to his injuries. At the crowded market, a woman that authorities were about to search blew herself up, killing several people and wounding a commander, according to The AP. Veiled women or men dressed as women detonated other explosives at the market, it reported.

Recently Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri, Borno state and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has increasingly used child and adult suicide bombers who may have been captured by the terrorist group. The bombers may not be carrying out the atrocities willingly; some explosives have been detonated remotely, a military bomb expert has told The AP.

Boko Haram launched a violent campaign in 2009 that has killed an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 people and forced more than 2.5 million to flee their homes. Muhammadu Buhari, president of the 51-percent Christian and 45-percent Muslim country, last month declared that Boko Haram had been “technically” defeated.

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/2016/01/suicide-bombings-in-two-towns-in-nigeria-leave-26-dead-dozens-injured/feed/ 0
Turkish Court Rules Government Failed to Protect Christians Killed in Malatya http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/turkish-court-rules-government-failed-to-protect-christians-killed-in-malatya/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/turkish-court-rules-government-failed-to-protect-christians-killed-in-malatya/#respond Wed, 27 Jan 2016 21:09:24 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5236 Susanne Geske, widow of martyr Tilmann Geske, after memorial ceremony for Uğur Yüksel in 2014. (Morning-Star-News)

Susanne Geske, widow of martyr Tilmann Geske, after memorial ceremony for Uğur Yüksel in 2014. (Morning-Star-News)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – A Turkish court ruled on Tuesday (Jan. 26) that the government was negligent in its duty to protect three Christians who were tortured and killed in 2007 and ordered it to pay damages to the victims’ families.

The Malatya Administrative Court ruled that, nearly nine years ago, the Interior Ministry and the Malatya Governor’s Office ignored reliable intelligence that Turkish nationalists were targeting the three Christians days prior to the April 2007 killings.

Five young men with alleged links to Turkish nationalists killed three Christians on April 18, 2007, in the office of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in southeastern Turkey. Ugur Yüksel, 32, and Necati Aydin, 36, both Turkish converts from Islam, and Tilmann Geske, 45, a German national, were bound, interrogated about their Christian activities and then mutilated and killed with knives, according to court evidence.

According to several Christians close to the victims, one or more of those accused of the killings cultivated relationships with the three Christians, one even going so far as to pose as a new convert to the Christian faith.

The court also ordered the Interior Ministry to pay the families close to 1 million Turkish lira ($333,980) in damages.

Susanne Geske, Tilmann’s widow, and her three children were awarded $105,000 for emotional distress and $5,500 for physical harm. The remainder of the damages were awarded to Aydin’s wife and Yüksel’s father.

Geske said Wednesday that the concept of a monetary award for the death of her husband and her children’s father is lost on her, as no amount of money will bring him back or fill their loss.

“Four-hundred thousand lira for someone being killed is baffling, funny,” she said. “And anyway, although the money is welcome, we’re not yet believing we will see the money.”

Geske said government appeals to the court-ordered award, if filed, could take years to settle. After taxes, civil fees and lawyer’s fees are assigned, the amount her family receives could be greatly reduced.

The Geske family filed its civil case with others in 2008, around the same time criminal proceedings began against the five men accused in the killing. The civil ruling offers some resolution, but the criminal case grinds on with little hope of resolution.

Although police arrested the five suspects – Salih Gurler, Cuma Ozdemir, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker and Emre Gunaydin – almost immediately after the crime was reported, prosecuting them has been problematic from the start. The judges have been changed at least twice, and the prosecutors have been changed four times, causing significant delays.

At times, subpoenaed witnesses have simply refused to show up in court to testify without legitimate reason, and without being punished later for contempt of court.

Most significant in delays was the attempt to explore links between the killings and a larger alleged attempt by the Turkish military to subvert the Justice and Development Party-led government.

In 2009, the murder case was linked to the Ergenekon file, concerning a suspected cabal plotting against the government. As a result of this, a host of new witnesses were called into court, including a colonel in the gendarmerie and three army officers.

Especially galling to families of the victims, the five suspects in the trial were released on bail on March 10, 2014 under a new reform law that reduced the allowable period of pretrial detention from 10 years to five. Under public pressure, authorities required them to wear electronic monitoring devices, but the release caused extreme distress among families and friends of the victims.

The suspects had previously threatened family members of the victims. The wife of a Christian witness of the killings suffered a nervous breakdown after the March release and was hospitalized until she recovered, her husband told Morning Star News.

In the most recent criminal court hearing that took place earlier this month, on Jan. 5, Geske voiced her frustration about the length of time the court was taking in coming to a verdict. Today she said she thinks the civil verdict will have no impact on the criminal trial.

“I don’t think one thing has to do with the other,” she said.

The next hearing is set for March 1.

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/2016/01/turkish-court-rules-government-failed-to-protect-christians-killed-in-malatya/feed/ 0
Pastors in Nigeria Fall Prey to Kidnappers http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/pastors-in-nigeria-fall-prey-to-kidnappers/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/pastors-in-nigeria-fall-prey-to-kidnappers/#respond Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:47:52 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5226 The Rev. David Onubedo was visiting his hometown of Okene, Kogi state, when kidnapped. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. David Onubedo was visiting his hometown of Okene, Kogi state, when kidnapped. (Morning Star News)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Two Nigerian pastors have been abducted this month in Kogi state, as kidnapping cartels that have plagued the central state the past three years directed their aim at Christian leaders.

In a departure from numerous kidnappings of high-profile business and government leaders in Kogi state since 2013, gunmen abducted pastor David Onubedo of Deeper Life Bible Church on Monday night (Jan. 25) in Okene after a Bible study, according to local reports. In the same state in Emi-Oworo village, U.S. missionary Phyllis Sortor was kidnapped on Feb. 23, 2015, and not released until March 6.

Onubedo’s captors are reported to have contacted his wife and the leadership of the church to demand 50 million naira (US$249,000) for his release.

“Pastor David Onubedo is a serving minister at a parish of the church in the city of Kebbi, northwest Nigeria, and was only visiting his hometown of Okene when he was kidnapped yesterday as he was returning to his home after attending evening Bible studies in the church here in Okene at about 9 p.m.,” a church member who requested anonymity told Morning Star News.

In Lokoja, capital of Kogi state, gunmen on Jan. 10 kidnapped pastor Ayo Raphael during a worship service of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Resurrection parish, sources said. Masked gunmen disrupted the service and took the pastor away at gunpoint, a member of the congregation told Morning Star News on condition of anonymity.

“The gunmen attacked the church while Pastor Ayo was preaching,” the member said. “They ordered us to lie down and close our eyes as they shot into the air and dragged our pastor away at gunpoint.”

The kidnappers of the Pentecostal pastor are also demanding 50 million naira (US$249,000) for his release, the source said.

William Aya, spokesman for the Kogi State Police Command, confirmed the kidnapping of the pastor to Morning Star News.

In the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria, gunmen on Sunday (Jan. 24) shot and wounded a pastor during an Anglican church service in the course of kidnapping a member of the congregation, sources said.

The Rev. Obata Ezekiel was delivering a sermon at the church in Igbedi, Bayelsa state, when the gunmen stormed the service at about 12:40 p.m., shot him and kidnapped engineer Dunkan Eke.

“Our parish priest, the Rev. Obata, is currently in the hospital where he’s being treated for bullet wounds,” a member of the parish told Morning Star News by phone.

Asinim Butswat, spokesman for the Bayelsa State Police Command, confirmed the shooting of the Anglican priest and the kidnapping of the parishioner.

“We are on the trail of the unknown gunmen, and we are assuring the public that we shall try to ensure that those who carried out this attack are arrested and brought to book,” Butswat told Morning Star News in a text message. “The injured victim is responding to treatment at a clinic in Polaku. Efforts have been intensified to rescue the victim and arrest the abductors.”

Organized crime syndicates carried out numerous kidnappings in oil-rich Bayelsa state in 2015, where widespread poverty is a stark backdrop to well-off people involved in drilling and other oil-production activities. Many kidnappings are aimed at those in the industry.

Regarding the kidnapping of Onubedo in Kogi state, the Deeper Life Bible Church sent a text message throughout Nigeria urging fervent prayer for his release.

“Please, begin to pray and send prayer request to others for the release of Pastor Onubedo, a state overseer in Deeper Life Ministry who was reportedly kidnapped at his residence immediately after the Bible Study tonight [Monday],” the message reads. “The pastor wants us to immediately enter prayer closets both as individuals, families and in groups for his immediate and safe release.”

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/2016/01/pastors-in-nigeria-fall-prey-to-kidnappers/feed/ 0
Muslim Extremists from Sudan Suspected of Burning Church Building in South Sudan http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/muslim-extremists-from-sudan-suspected-of-burning-church-building-in-south-sudan/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/muslim-extremists-from-sudan-suspected-of-burning-church-building-in-south-sudan/#respond Tue, 26 Jan 2016 17:00:31 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5219 Unity state, where Yida is located in South Sudan. (Wikipedia)

Unity state, where Yida is located in South Sudan. (Wikipedia)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Muslim extremists from Sudan have been arrested in connection with the burning of a church building in South Sudan, sources said.

Members of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in the refugee settlement of Yida awoke the morning of Jan. 16 to find their worship building in flames, area Christian leaders said. Tens of thousands of refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan state have set up homes in Yida, about seven miles from the Sudanese border.

“I learned that those who set our church on fire were sent from Sudan purposely,” said a church leader who wished to remain unnamed.

The following week his congregation of nearly 200 people held their worship service in the open air in the remains of the charred church building, a structure of unbaked bricks. Most church members are ethnic Nuba who have fled bombing of civilians in South Kordofan in Sudan’s fight with rebels.

The fire burned both the exterior and interior of the structure, destroying all chairs, a pulpit and some copies of Arabic Bibles.

Authorities arrested a Muslim suspect, identified only as Tia, who revealed the names of three other Muslim suspects, and police also captured them, including one identified only as Mohammad, sources said. One of the arrested men said they were sent from Sudan to attack churches and aid workers helping Nuba Christians from Sudan, a local Christian leader said.

The source told Morning Star News that he witnessed one of the suspects telling police, “We are sent from South Kordofan to target churches and NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations].”

Over the past year, three church buildings were reportedly burned in Yida, home for refugees that number nearly 70,000, according to one estimate. Most of them are Nuba Christians from South Kordofan state who believe the Islamist government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is targeting Christians and bombing churches as part of its war against rebels.

Ethnic Nuba, along with Christians, face discrimination in Sudan, where Bashir has vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.

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

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 2015 report.

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

A ministry leader who visited Yida last week confirmed the burning of the SCOC building. He described it as an act of the devil but asked for prayers that those who carried it out would repent.

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/2016/01/muslim-extremists-from-sudan-suspected-of-burning-church-building-in-south-sudan/feed/ 0
Police in Pakistan Torture Christian to Death, Family Says http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/police-in-pakistan-torture-christian-to-death-family-says/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/police-in-pakistan-torture-christian-to-death-family-says/#respond Mon, 18 Jan 2016 20:10:02 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5211 Loved ones keep vigil over the body of Liaqat Masih at home. (Morning Star News)

Loved ones keep vigil over the body of Liaqat Masih at home. (Morning Star News)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Pakistani police last week tortured a devout Catholic to death in Punjab Province after the victim’s employer singled him out for a theft charge because of his faith, family members said.

Riasat Masih of Kalaskey village, Purana Kot in Gujranwala District, told Morning Star News that police killed his brother, 47-year-old Liaqat Masih, on Wednesday (Jan. 13) during interrogation in which he was hung upside down and beaten.

For more than a year Liaqat Masih had been employed as a driver for Raza Hameed, and several years previously for Hameed’s father, influential Gujranwala politician S.A. Hameed. Both Raza Hameed and S.A. Hameed were present at the police jail during the torture of Liaqat Masih, his brother said, adding that none of the employer’s Muslim employees were questioned about the theft last year of millions of rupees in cash and gold jewelry.

“Why was only my brother named and handed over to police custody, while the Muslim employees were not interrogated?” Riasat Masih said. “My brother had honestly served his employers for 15 years, but they did not even consider this fact before turning him in to police custody and asking them to torture him until he ‘confessed’ to the theft.”

Gujranwala Cantt Police arrested Liaqat Masih in mid-November 2015 after Raza Hameed registered a case against him (First Information Report No. 570/15). Riasat Masih said police had failed to produce any evidence against him or extract a confession despite torturing him last week during interrogation.

Riasat Masih said that his brother, who is survived by four children ranging in age from 9 to 20, languished in jail until Jan. 10, when police came for him claiming they had fresh evidence they sought to question him about.

“The police had picked him up and moved him to a private torture cell, and we were unable to trace his location for nearly four days,” he said. “Then someone told us that he had been moved to the Gujranwali Cantt police station, but that they would not show his formal arrest in official records until they had managed to extract a confession from him. We immediately hired a lawyer and filed a habeas corpus petition in court, which deputed a bailiff to raid the police station and produce Liaqat in court.”

After the bailiff’s raid and Liaqat Masih’s subsequent appearance in court, police obtained a four-day physical custody of the accused. Police meantime also arrested his eldest son, Khurram Masih, who had been named as an accomplice in the theft case despite having almost no contact with his father at work, he said.

Attorneys had obtained interim bail for Khurram Masih to keep police from mistreating him as well, “but they still arrested him even though his protective bail was intact,” Riasat Masih said.

“The police then tortured both father and son, beating them up mostly in front of each other,” he said. “On the night of Jan. 13, Liaqat’s frail body couldn’t take any more beatings, and he succumbed to his internal injuries. Khurram, who was tortured so badly that he can barely stand now, has told us that the night his father died, the police had hung him [Liaqat Masih] upside down with a rope and beat him up indiscriminately.”

Officers also denied water to Liaqat Masih, whose shoulder was dislocated, he said. The brutal violence last week was carried out on the orders of Raza Hameed and S.A. Hameed, a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in Gujranwala, who along with Raza Hameed and another son, Ahsan Hameed, came to the police station to get the two Christian men tortured in their presence, Riasat Masih said.

Raza Hameed, S.A. Hameed and local police officials could not be reached for comment.

Police handed over Liaqat Masih’s body to the family early Thursday morning (Jan. 14) but refused to give them a copy of the autopsy that had been carried out without the family’s knowledge, Riasat Masih said. Accompanied by a large number of village Christians, the family then went out to the main highway carrying the body in protest.

“We were demanding a fair probe into the killing and for registration of a murder case against those responsible for his death,” Riasat Masih said. “Rather than listening to our grievance, the police attacked us with batons and sticks and threatened to arrest and torture Christian youths if we did not stop demanding registration of a case against the police officials. Several women were also injured in the police baton attack, so we retreated to our homes with Liaqat’s body and have now decided that we won’t bury him until a case is registered against Inspector Sajid Suhal, Investigation Officer Amin Butt and the sons of S.A. Hameed, Raza and Ahsan, on whose orders the police were acting.”

Nazir S. Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress political party, in a statement released over the weekend demanded Punjab Province Chief Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif arrest S.A. Hameed and the chief and investigator of the Gujranwala Cantt police station for the torture and killing of Liaqat Masih.

Family members identified marks of torture on the body, which was still lying at the family’s house in Kalaskey village as area police pressured relatives to bury him with assurances that the officers responsible for the killing would be arrested. Family members and other area sources said the accused police officers, however, were moving freely in the area, indicating authorities had no intention of arresting them.

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/2016/01/police-in-pakistan-torture-christian-to-death-family-says/feed/ 0
Iran Releases U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini in Prisoner Swap http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/iran-releases-u-s-iranian-pastor-saeed-abedini-in-prisoner-swap/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/iran-releases-u-s-iranian-pastor-saeed-abedini-in-prisoner-swap/#respond Sat, 16 Jan 2016 20:18:50 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5202 Saeed Abedini and wife Naghmeh. (ACLJ photo)

Saeed Abedini and wife Naghmeh. (ACLJ photo)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – Iran released U.S.-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini today, more than three years after authorities arrested him on charges of “threatening national security” by planting churches, according to several sources.

Abedini was released along with four other prisoners, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, in a prisoner swap, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported this morning. U.S. officials reportedly confirmed that the release was part of a prisoner swap involving seven Iranians held on charges of violating sanctions and came after more than a year of closely guarded talks.

The pastor’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, told Morning Star News that she heard about the release from friends in Iran who saw reports about it on state TV. U.S. officials confirmed the release to her this morning. Her two children have been jumping up and down with excitement since then, she said by phone from her home in Boise, Idaho, where she said the atmosphere was joyfully chaotic.

“Over the past three years I have felt a huge weight, not only as a wife, but as a mom, seeing my kids in so much pain,” she said. “Birthdays, Christmases – we just passed another Christmas, so I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.”

The pastor’s wife said on Saturday that Abedini would undergo medical tests in Switzerland, be transferred to Germany and then flown to the United States, and on Sunday she Tweeted that he had left the country on Sunday. She and her two children, ages 9 and 7, hope to see him soon.

“It’s exciting,” she said on Saturday. “We heard about it this morning, and it’s been a whirl of media. I told the kids as soon as we confirmed it with our government, and they’re very excited. They keep asking me, ‘When are we going to see him?’”

Naghmeh Abedini, who in her advocacy for her husband’s release has given heart-rending accounts of the effects of the imprisonment on her and the couple’s children, told Morning Star News she had learned to trust God with her husband’s fate while in the middle of a 21-day fast that she began on Jan. 5.

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but I felt the Lord saying, ‘Let it go – don’t touch the situation with Saeed, and I will take care of it,’” she said. “So I let go. I stopped my travels. I stopped speaking. Interestingly enough, it happened when I let it go.”

The release of Abedini and the three others came the same day that the United Nation’s nuclear regulating body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was expected to determine whether Iran complies with a July agreement to reduce its nuclear capacity. Some economic sanctions could be lifted if the IAEA finds Iran complies with requirements.

Also freed, according to IRNA, was U.S. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosrawi, whose case’s details were not immediately clear.

Jay Sekulow, lead counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, has advocated for Abedini’s release.

“For more than three years, Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – has endured imprisonment in Iran,” Sekulow said in a statement. “This is a major victory. We are incredibly grateful to the more than 1.1 million people who have joined us in fighting across the globe for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.”
Abedini was tortured at various times throughout his imprisonment, and last year prison officials further pressured him to recant his faith by threatening to hold him in prison indefinitely. In 2013, Abedini wrote of enduring torture, death threats and pressure to renounce his faith.

On Jan. 27, 2013, an Iranian court sentenced Abedini, 35, to eight years in prison for allegedly threatening “national security” by planting house churches in early 2000.

Seven months earlier, in July 2012, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had briefly arrested Abedini during his visit to set up an orphanage he was building. After interrogation, authorities placed him under house arrest and told him to wait for a court summons to face criminal charges for his Christian faith.

Two months later, on Sept. 26, 2012, he was arrested at his parents’ home and taken to prison, where he remained until today. Abedini has steadfastly claimed his innocence on all the charges filed against him.

Naghmeh Abedini asked for prayer for her husband’s transition back to freedom.

“I would appreciate continued prayers,” she said. “The journey is not over yet. He’s home, but there’s a lot of things that we’ll have to go through.”

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/?   

(Updated Jan. 18)

###

© 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/2016/01/iran-releases-u-s-iranian-pastor-saeed-abedini-in-prisoner-swap/feed/ 0
Muslims in Pakistan Disrupt Christians’ Worship, Storm Homes http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/muslims-in-pakistan-disrupt-christians-worship-storm-homes/ http://morningstarnews.org/2016/01/muslims-in-pakistan-disrupt-christians-worship-storm-homes/#respond Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:33:04 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=5193 Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. (Wikipedia, Builhem Vellut)

Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. (Wikipedia, Builhem Vellut)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Muslims in a town in Pakistan’s Punjab Province who seized a church property have disrupted a prayer meeting at a private residence, sources said.

After police arranged a reconciliation meeting between the Muslims and members of the congregation in Sialkot District on Jan. 4, the Muslims instead armed themselves with guns and machetes and attacked the Christians’ family members in their homes, said Bashir Masih, a Christian in Nawan Pind, Sadho Mahal, 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Lahore.

Masih said area Muslims have “made it almost impossible” for church members to worship even in their homes.

“We obtained written approval from the district police chief, Rai Ijaz, to hold a three-hour prayer meeting in the private courtyard of a Christian, Javed Masih, on Jan. 3, which was a Sunday,” said Masih, adding that the police chief had also assigned two policemen to provide security at the venue.

When the congregation of about 30 Christians began worshipping, Rashid Jutt, a Muslim in his late 20s, arrived to disrupt the meeting, Masih said.

“The policemen assigned our security were late, therefore one of our boys, Gulshan, stepped forward to stop Jutt from harassing the congregation,” he said. “The two soon started fighting, but we intervened and separated them. Jutt then left, vowing to ‘teach all of us a lesson.’”

Masih said that later in the evening, Christian residents learned that Jutt had filed a report with police accusing Gulshan and five others of torturing him.

“We immediately reached the police station and told the inspector in-charge what had really happened,” Masih said. “He said we could file a counter application against Jutt for disrupting the prayer meeting, but at the same time he advised us to let go of the matter and reconcile with the Muslim youth.”

The police official offered to set up a meeting between both parties the next day, Jan. 4, at a property of the municipal chairman, Chaudhry Arshad.

Masih said that seven Christians went to the site at the scheduled time, but Jutt and his supporters did not show up.

“After waiting for some time, we returned to our homes,” he said. “There we saw Jutt and some 30 other men armed with guns, machetes and batons storming through our houses and beating up our boys. We immediately telephoned the police emergency helpline, and a patrol vehicle arrived there after some time. The police rescued our boys from the attackers’ clutches, but they did not arrest any of the Muslims.”

Instead, police told the Christians to resolve the issue at a village council meeting (Panchayat).

Masih said that although none of the Christians were seriously injured, the area’s 10 to 12 Christian families were shocked and fearful.

“We feel that the entire Muslim community has turned against us for standing up against their aggression,” he said. “Even the local police are on the Muslims’ side, as raids were being conducted to arrest Christian boys while no effort is being made to arrest Jutt and his accomplices, whom we have named in our police complaint for attacking our homes and beating up our boys.”

Noting that this was not the first time area Christians have been persecuted for their faith, he said young Muslim men gang-raped a Christian girl about four months ago. The suspects escaped arrest by forcing the victim’s impoverished family to withdraw the case, he said.

The church lost its worship venue two years ago area when the area Muslims put a lock on the 25-year-old building, claiming that they had bought the land on which it was built. Though they showed no ownership documents, the Muslims prohibited the Christians from entering the church building, Masih said.

“We are poor people, and most of us are employed as cattle herders or at factories, so we are not in a position to fight a legal battle for our church,” he said. “But now it seems that the Muslims just want us to renounce our faith, as they have been forcibly stopping our prayer gatherings.”

Though he has little faith in the local police, Masih said Christians have met with the local police chief, Ijaz, about the attacks.

“Now a Punchayat headed by a deputy superintendent of police, Mian Moazzam, will take up the matter on Sunday [Jan 17],” he said. “We will demand our right to worship and to practice our faith freely in that meeting. The Muslims cannot deprive us of our basic right to worship, and they also cannot take away our church just like that.”

Sialkot District Police Officer Ijaz said that he has assigned officials to resolve the issue.

“We will not allow anyone to force their beliefs on any other person,” he said. “The police will protect the Christians of Nawan Pind, and no harm will come their way. They are free to practice their faith, and we will ensure their security.”

Ijaz said that he would also investigate the Muslims’ appropriation of the church building.

“I will ask my officers to investigate the matter,” he said. “We will ensure that justice is served on merit.”

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/2016/01/muslims-in-pakistan-disrupt-christians-worship-storm-homes/feed/ 0