Morningstar News http://morningstarnews.org First Light Before the Dawn Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:13:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Police Hasty, Brutal in Arrest of Christian Accused of Blasphemy in Pakistan http://morningstarnews.org/2015/09/police-hasty-brutal-in-arrest-of-christian-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/09/police-hasty-brutal-in-arrest-of-christian-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan/#respond Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:38:02 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4776 Rights worker consoles victim of police brutality. (The Voice Society)

Rights worker consoles victim of police brutality. (The Voice Society)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Authorities this week charged and jailed a Christian accused of blasphemy by Muslim business competitors, and police beat area Christians in their search for him, sources said.

Jamshed Masih told Morning Star News that local Muslims had entrapped his brother, 35-year-old Pervaiz Masih, in a false blasphemy case after he obtained a sand contract in Garra village, near Mandi Usmanwala in Kasur District, Punjab Province.

“We were unaware of the incident until the local Muslims, led by the village mosque’s Pesh Imam [prayer leader], started propagating on Tuesday [Sept. 1] that Masih had blasphemed against Islam’s prophet Muhammad during a discussion with some Muslims a couple of weeks ago,” Jamshed Masih said, adding that some 300 to 400 Muslims of the village and surrounding areas shouted chants against the Christians and vowed to avenge alleged “disrespect” of their prophet by burning his brother alive.

He said that Pervaiz Masih had obtained a contract for sand from a local dealer at a better price than that of his Muslim competitors, Haji Muhammad Jamshed and Haji Muhammad Bashir, and that since then they had nurtured a grudge against him. Jamshed and Bashir on Tuesday (Sept. 1) began spreading word that Pervaiz Masih had disrespected Muhammad, he said.

Woman who had Caesarean section and her newborn were among victims of police brutality. (The Voice Society)

Woman who had Caesarean section and her newborn were among victims of police brutality. (The Voice Society)

“A large number of Muslims gathered in the village and demanded Pervaiz be handed over to them,” he said. “However, we were able to move him to a safer location while the rest of us engaged the protesting mob in talks to settle the matter amicably.”

The mob agreed to allow Pervaiz Masih to give his version of the dispute, he said, “but later in the evening a contingent of local police raided our homes, thrashed our women and took two of my brothers with them when they were unable to find Pervaiz there.”

The accused Christian’s employer, owner of a brick kiln, the next day informed Jamshed and other Muslims that he had made Pervaiz Masih surrender to police, who immediately charged and jailed him to appease the Muslim mob and relieve pressure on them from various Islamist quarters, Masih’s brother said.

He said the entire family had been forced to flee the village due to fear of revenge attacks, “as the Muslims had said that they would treat them in the same manner as Christians of Lahore’s Youhanabad area who had lynched and burned alive two Muslims” wrongly suspected of involvement in twin suicide attacks on two churches on March 15.

There are about 15-20 Christian families in Garra village, most of which till lands of local Muslims.

Police Brutalize Christians

A pregnant mother and a woman who gave birth to a girl by Caesarean section eight days prior were among victims of police brutality, sources said.

Police beat female relatives of Pervaiz Masih and other Christians in their search for him, said his wife, Zarina Bibi. The mother of four children, the oldest 9 and the youngest 7 months old, told Morning Star News that officers kicked family members and struck them with their fists and batons.

“The police just wouldn’t listen to our pleas that we did not know Masih’s whereabouts,” she said. “They searched all Christian houses in the village and tortured everyone they came across.”

A pregnant mother in the village whose name is withheld for security reasons said police tore into her Christian family without hesitation.

“They cursed and abused us, and they kicked us in our abdomens and backs regardless of age or gender,” she said. “They did not even spare the children. At first I thought that I was going to lose my child, but thank God it is safe.”

She added that officers reviled the Christians for their faith.

“The police are supposed to protect the helpless, but they treated us as if we were all hardened criminals,” she said.

Another Christian woman in the village said officers did not spare her newborn daughter.

“I had a Caesarean last week, and my newborn daughter is just 8 days old,” she said. “I begged the police not to beat me, but they turned a deaf ear to my pleas and even hit my daughter during the attack. They just kept asking for Pervaiz Masih and would not listen to any of us.”

Attorney Aneeqa Maria, whose human rights group The Voice Society reached the village on Tuesday night (Sept. 1), confirmed that area Christians had been subjected to police brutality.

“Every Christian we met at Garra village had a similar story to tell us,” she told Morning Star News. “They were all tortured by the police for no reason other than that they are poor Christians who cannot fend for themselves.”

Police stopped The Voice Society team at a gas station as they were returning to Lahore that night for two hours and pressured them to reveal Pervaiz Masih’s whereabouts, she said.

“I told the police team’s head that they could not transgress their legal domain by holding us in captivity, but they would not listen,” she said. “We were able to return to Lahore after our friends in the media built pressure on the police to let us go.”

Maria said that The Voice Society would care for Masih’s family and defend him in court.

“The FIR [First Information Report] of the alleged incident clearly shows malice of the complainants, but it is the police’s attitude towards the Christians there that is more appalling and a serious concern to us,” she said.

‘Confession’

Kasur District Senior Superintendent of Police Chief Saeed Ali said by phone said that he had taken notice of allegations of police torturing the Christian families and ordered an investigation, even as Christians suspected his officers of torturing Masih into confessing.

“Torturing innocent people is an inhuman and illegal act and cannot be condoned under any circumstances,” Ali said regarding the officers who sought Masih. “The department will ensure that such policemen are held accountable for misusing their legal authority.”

Ali claimed that Masih had confessed to committing blasphemy.

“Masih has been sent to Kasur District Jail after he confessed to the charges brought against him,” said the police chief.

Pakistani police routinely extract confessions from suspects through torture. Lahore High Court attorney Chaudhry Shoaib Salim told Morning Star News that the police system was not only obsolete but corrupt.

“Torture is the only way many police officials know of extracting a confession,” he said. “They don’t care about whether it is true or not.”

In most blasphemy and other cases, he said, police coerce the accused through threats and torture to admit to charges if they want to save their lives.

“It’s tragic, though, that another member of the Christian minority community has fallen victim to the blasphemy law, which is often used to settle personal scores,” he said, pointing out how hastily police had registered the case under mob pressure. “I doubt that the police even bothered to investigate the charges against Pervaiz Masih before registering the case against him. This is sheer injustice with the victim and the community at large.”

Police chief Ali said Masih’s life would have been in danger if he had not been quickly arrested and kept in custody. He said he had ordered the release of Masih’s brothers, who had been taken into custody the night of the incident.

Pervaiz Masih’s wife said her husband makes little income working at a brick kiln in the village and traded in sand and soil for extra income. She recalled the case of Shama and Shahzad Masih, a young Christian couple who worked at a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan in Raiwind, also in Kasur District. A Muslim mob killed them and threw them into the furnace of a brick kiln on false charges of blasphemy last year.

“He occasionally trades in sand and soil to make extra money for the family, but his part-time business has now put his and our lives in danger,” Bibi said. “I just hope and pray that my husband is not killed for a crime he could not have possibly committed, because we all know what happened to Shama and Shahzad Masih.”

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

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

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

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Let Me Tell You Why Blood Is Flowing in Plateau State, Nigeria http://morningstarnews.org/2015/09/let-me-tell-you-why-blood-is-flowing-in-plateau-state-nigeria/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/09/let-me-tell-you-why-blood-is-flowing-in-plateau-state-nigeria/#respond Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:55:29 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4772 Protestors march against violence in Plateau state, Nigeria. (Sabinews.com)

Protestors march against violence in Plateau state, Nigeria. (Sabinews.com)

(Morning Star News) – What would you say if I told you that between last year and this year an estimated 11,000 people have been killed in Plateau state, mainly in Berom communities?

What if I told you that over 40 villages have been sacked and some wiped out completely in Berom communities alone? If you were Nigerian you would try to correct me and say that I am probably talking about the North East and not the North Central. You would be wrong.

What if I told you that 11,000 is a conservative number?

What if I asked you to station yourself at any mortuary and count the number of corpses that come in every single day from gun and machete injuries from the hands of armed Fulani men, sometimes with cohorts from security agencies? Even if you were able to count the victims, I would ask you about the ones that are missing. I would ask about the bodies thrown into wells. I would ask about hastily prepared, same-day burials because it is easier to bury the people today than to keep them and add the corpses of the next day.

You would then ask me, “Why?”

I would ask you what you have heard. You would tell me that you heard that the Berom people are cattle rustlers.

I would ask you how an 18-month-old baby could rustle cattle. I would ask you how a 6-month-old fetus even knew about cattle.

I would ask you how whole communities collide and steal cattle. I will ask you how many cows are worth 11,000 lives.

I would ask you how hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their ancestral lands, farms and houses because they have been condemned to die for allegedly rustling cattle. I would ask you whether the wages of cattle-rustling is death.

Then you would wonder with me why cows only get rustled in Plateau. When places like Bauchi and Southern Kaduna and even some parts of Gana Wuri in Plateau have more cattle than Berom land does, yet they have not witnessed the pogrom on the scale that Beroms have.

Then you would be puzzled and ask me what was so special about the rustling in Berom land. I would laugh and ask you to sit down.

I will tell you of land rich from the top to the bottom. I will tell you of the unmined lands of tin-rich Kuru. I would tell you of the columbite in Bisichi. I would tell you about Gasish, Rim, Foron, Vat and so many other mineral-rich areas.

I will tell you of Fulani who have discovered that mining makes faster and easier money than herding. I will tell you about the Hausas that sell minerals to the Chinese men. I would tell you about the Chinese with bags of money and determination to evade tax.

I will tell you about the Beroms that have been terrorized out of their land.

I will tell you of exaggerated tales of rustling.

I will tell you of isolated Berom youths in collision with Fulani youth.

I will tell you of Fulani women who no longer carry calabashes full with Fura da Nono on their heads. I will tell of Fulani women that carry large pans filled with earth. Berom earth that is full of tin, columbite, tantalite, wolframite.

You would need to sell hundreds of calabashes to buy a gun. But a pan filled with earth keeps the men armed.

I will tell you of a decline in cattle-rearing that started since the ’80s with education and when Fulanis started embracing dry-season farming.

I will tell you of hectares and hectares of land lying fallow. For the Berom husbands are missing, fleeing, dying or dead.

I will tell you about empty huts and houses. I will tell you about burnt settlements. I will tell you about the new owners.

You would then ask me about government protection.

I will tell you of a politics that looks away from the plight of dying people. I will tell you of compromised lawmakers, chiefs and kings. I will tell you of the rich that have shut their ears because the harrowing cries of the raped interrupt them as they count their gold coins.

I will tell you about angry Berom youths who avenged senselessly the senseless deaths they have witnessed.

You could ask me why the media keeps quiet. I would tell you the rat dances to the tune of the piper.

You will see reason with me and then you will cry with me.

You will agree with me that it is not just a war. It is genocide.

And the spoils are beneath our feet.

Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha is a columnist with Nigerian news site www.sabinews.com, where this commentary was originally published on Sept. 2, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

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

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

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

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Somali Christians Fleeing Islamic Extremists Lose Family, Fingers http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/somali-christians-fleeing-islamic-extremists-lose-family-fingers/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/somali-christians-fleeing-islamic-extremists-lose-family-fingers/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:06:52 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4761 Hargeisa, Somaliland, where leaving Islam is illegal. (Morning Star News)

Hargeisa, Somaliland, where leaving Islam is illegal. (Morning Star News)

HARGEISA, Somaliland (Morning Star News) – Desperate to avoid arrest in Somaliland for leaving Islam, one Christian fled to Ethiopia, while another in Somalia escaped kidnappers after losing fingers for his faith.

Sharif (full name withheld for security reasons) said he had to leave his wife and four children behind in order to sneak out of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia.

After the 31-year-old Sharif put his faith in Christ in May 2014 in Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, a year later rumors began circulating that he had left Islam, he said.

“My association with a visiting white missionary landed me in trouble,” he told Morning Star News by phone from an undisclosed town in Ethiopia. “I feel sad because I cannot see my family, because if I return back to Somaliland, then the government will arrest me.”

Sharif said he was thankful to God for enabling him to miraculously cross the border.

His children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 1, have relocated to an undisclosed town in Somaliland with their mother.

“I am not sure what will happen to my wife and four children,” he said. “I am praying that God will provide for their basic needs. Pray for me that one day I will see them.”

Non-Somalis may practice any faith in Somaliland, but conversion from Islam is forbidden for natives, said a church leader in Hargeisa. The constitution of Somaliland, which stipulates that all laws must comply with the general principles of sharia (Islamic law), prohibits conversion from Islam, according to the U.S. State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report (2013).

The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The constitution of Somaliland enshrines Islam as the state religion and forbids the propagation of any faith other than Islam.

A church leader in Somaliland who requested anonymity requested prayer for God to provide for the many converts to Christianity in Somalia who are suffering persecution for their faith.

Another former Muslim recently escaped from insurgents of the Islamic extremist Al Shabaab in Baidoa, Somalia. After kidnapping the Christian, whose name is withheld, on May 15, the Islamic extremists chopped off four fingers on his right hand while interrogating him about his faith, he told Morning Star News by phone from an undisclosed town in Somalia.

“Please pray for me, because my hand is not yet healed,” he said.

Al Shabaab, the Somali cell of Al Qaeda, has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians as it fights for control of the country against the government and forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Garissa Terror Attack Foiled

In Kenya about 120 miles from the border with Somalia, police in Garissa on Wednesday night (Aug. 26) discovered a stash of deadly weapons at a house after arresting 14 suspected members of Al Shabaab four days earlier, a church leader told Morning Star News.

“On Saturday (Aug. 22), rumors were going all over Garissa town that the Al Shabaab was planning to attack the churches,” said the church leader (name withheld). “That evening, 14 suspects believed to be linked to the Al Shabaab terror group were arrested – eight Tanzanians and four Kenyans.”

Authorities subsequently recovered seven rocket-propelled grenades, three AK-47 assault rifles, 227 rounds of ammunition and hand grenades from a house in the Soko Ngombe area of Garissa.

North-Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh told reporters that Kenya Defense Forces, police and intelligence personnel raided the rented house in Garissa’s livestock market area and also recovered fertilizer that could have been used to make explosives. The weapons were believed to have been smuggled into the country by Al Shabaab militants from Somalia.

Cell phones recovered in the raid indicated how the attack was going to be carried out, the church leader said, citing a reliable source.

Authorities raided the house after receiving information from terror suspects they arrested the previous week, The Standard newspaper reported. The recovery came days after seven pistols, seven grenades, 20 rounds of ammunition and 15 magazines were seized in the Garissa Ndogo trading center in Garissa, the newspaper reported.

A pastors’ fellowship in Garissa has mobilized churches in the town to set aside two days of prayer and fasting for peace in the area.

“We know that this is the work of the devil, which calls for spiritual warfare, hence we are called to confront these spiritual forces,” the church leader said.

Following the April 2 attack by Al Shabaab on Garissa University College that killed 142 students and six others, churches in Garissa are depleted, he said.

“On Sunday, Aug. 23, only 50 church members came to church as compared to 150 the previous Sunday,” the pastor said.

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

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

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

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Stabbed Pastor in Nigeria Goes into Relapse; Plateau State Christians Protest in Abuja http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/stabbed-pastor-in-nigeria-goes-into-relapse-plateau-state-christians-protest-in-abuja/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/stabbed-pastor-in-nigeria-goes-into-relapse-plateau-state-christians-protest-in-abuja/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2015 13:01:05 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4751 Jimmy Pam and family. (Minoritynigeria.org)

Jimmy Pam and family. (Minoritynigeria.org)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A pastor stabbed in April by rampaging young Muslims in Kaduna state has suffered a relapse after an initial recovery, while hundreds of Christians from Plateau state this week traveled to the federal capital to protest ongoing violence in their state.

The Christians charged into the streets of Abuja two days after two more Christians were found killed by suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Plateau state. The bullet-ridden bodies of Ibrahim Nyam and Jimmy Pam were discovered on Sunday morning (Aug. 23) in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area. Muslim Fulani herdsmen active in the area were suspected of killing the two members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) the previous evening as they traveled together by car, said two sources, one a COCIN member.

Christian groups from Plateau state on Tuesday (Aug. 25) went to Abuja to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and present him with a petition outlining attacks on Christian communities by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Ban was in Nigeria to meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Kate Pam, leader of a Christian group petitioning the U.N. secretary-general, told Morning Star News that the killing of Christians in Plateau has become a recurring problem that the Nigerian government has deliberately shied away from tackling.

“How many more do we have to bury?” Pam asked as she led protestors with banners bearing photographs of victims of the killings.

The petition to Ban begins, “We bring you greetings from the traumatized men, women and children of Plateau state. Permit me, sir, to give a summary of the nightmare that our lives have become in the past decade.”

Noting that the predominantly Christian Berom farmers historically gave their land as pasture to the Fulani livestock (the farmers used the manure to fertilize their crops), the petition states that tensions reached a climax on March 10, 2010, in the Dogo Nahawa massacre in which more than 500 men, women and children were slaughtered in a “cowardly dawn attack.”

“From then on, we have not known peace. Our tormentors have moved from village to village, killing, maiming, looting, shooting, burning,” the petition states. “From May this year, the attacks on our villages have increased in frequency and intensity. The people of Riyom and Barkin Ladi are worst hit. An average of 10 people are killed every week. On the 2nd of May, 27 people were massacred in a COCIN church in Foron. Among the dead were the pastor of the church, Rev. Luka Gwom, and a young woman who only just got married two weeks earlier. Two days later, 30 people were killed in Zakupang in Barkin Ladi LGA.”

Another attack on Kakpwis village left two men dead, and villages in Barkin Ladi have continued to suffer attacks at least twice week, according to the petition.

“On the 29th of May, over 500 gunmen invaded Shonong village, leaving a trail of corpses, ashes and smoke,” it reads. “That attack left over a thousand people displaced with about 300 houses razed to rubble. The month of June has also been a nightmare for the people of Barkin Ladi and Riyom. Over 20 villages have been attacked in well-coordinated attacks. In the first 10 days of July, we have witnessed quite a number of attacks already.”

The Rev. Dr. Dachalom Datiri, COCIN president, said the anti-Christian violence has been constant.

“These attacks are lamentable as our church members have continued to be killed, others displaced, and church buildings and houses destroyed,” he said.

Christian communities in Riyom and Barkin Ladi in May informed police through a letter that armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen had established a camp in the area and were planning to carry out more attacks on their communities, a source said. In the letter, the Christians pleaded with police and other security agencies to protect them. The camp, the Christian villagers reported, was located in the hills of Riyom, near Jos.

“We discovered the camp of the Fulanis, and we have informed the police command about it, yet nothing has been done to stop the killing of our people,” a Christian resident of the area told Morning Star News.

Stabbed Pastor’s Condition Worsens

In Nigeria’s troubled middle belt, attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen with sophisticated weapons against largely unarmed Christian farmers have been likened in jihadist ideology to attacks by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

Like the Fulani, the Hausa people of northern Nigeria are predominantly Muslim and have become increasingly antagonistic toward many Christians along tribal, economic and political as well as religious lines; at the same time, observers note, for Muslims politics is of a piece with religion. A Borno state-born pastor working in the northeast state of Yobe was attacked while visiting Kaduna state on April 13 by Muslim youths apparently upset by elections at that time, and they made their anti-Christian sentiments known.

“They called me an infidel and attacked me,” Pastor Emmanuel Danjuma of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Yobe State, told Morning Star News from his hospital bed, still writhing in pain four months after the attack.

Pastor Danjuma said the local Hausa Muslims clubbed and stabbed him several times in Saminaka, Kaduna state, as they rampaged through the town attacking non-Hausas presumed to have voted against their wishes. Before he lost consciousness, he said, he saw a Hausa man dressed in white rush up.

“The man shouted at them and ordered them to stop attacking me,” he said. “I don’t know what happened then, as next I only found myself in a hospital in Saminaka town. After a few days my situation deteriorated and I was transferred to this Christian hospital.”

With an ongoing national medical strike since May paralyzing public hospitals, Pastor Danjuma has remained at Seventh-day Adventist Hospital in Jengre, near Jos, Plateau State, struggling to survive after coming out of coma.

A Roman Catholic priest in the area said at least five Christians were killed in the town on the day of the attack. He gave their names as Habila Daniel, Danlami Gaba, Michael Timothy, Stephen Galadima, and Joshua Akpama.

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

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

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© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

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

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Death Threats, Forced Conversions of Christians Cited in India http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/death-threats-forced-conversions-of-christians-cited-in-india/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/death-threats-forced-conversions-of-christians-cited-in-india/#respond Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:15:37 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4745 Painting from northern India, cerca 1700, of Hanuman god. (Wikipedia)

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

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Heightened hostilities against Christians in India that began late last year continued through a hot summer, with Hindu extremists threatening Christians and forcing them to “reconvert” to Hindusim, church leaders said.

In Rajasthan in the northwest, 10 Christian families in Nakhnool village, near Alwar, have fled after intolerant Hindus harassed and threatened to kill them, area church leaders said.

“Since June 27, we have not been able to have any kind of worship meetings,” area pastor Malkeet Singh told Morning Star News. “The extremists threatened to harm us if we utter the name of Christ or conduct any Christian meetings.”

Tensions grew on July 19 when members of the Hindu extremist Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the village held a “homecoming” to Hinduism (Ghar Vapsi) in front of Pastor Pratap Singh’s house.

“About 600 people gathered in front of Pastor Singh’s house, put up the idol of the Hindu god Hanuman, forced Pastor Singh and 10 family members to worship the idol and forced him to sign a paper which said, ‘I am willing to be a Hindu,’” said Rajamman Johnson, regional secretary of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMBP). “They forced them to drink water procured from the Ganga River and put kumkum [red marks] on their foreheads to show that they were now Hindus.”

As the Hindu extremists had threatened to kill him if he continued to lead worship meetings, Pastor Singh had been in hiding for a month. The extremists found him and took him to his house for the ritual, Johnson said.

“The extremists had been following the movement of Pastor Singh closely for a long time, and then they dragged him back from his hiding place to forcefully convert him along with 10 members of his family to Hinduism in an hour-long Ghar Vapsi ceremony,” he said.

Pastor Singh, who had been ministering in the village for 15 years, began receiving death threats since last Christmas, church leaders said. Hindu extremists undertook a series of largely bogus, forced conversion ceremonies during the Christmas season after the BJP-led coalition government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May 2014.

“The extremists boldly claimed that they were the ruling [BJP] party in the state, and that they can stop whatever they like,” Johnson said. “The support they get from the police and the village head emboldened their actions.”

Anil Masih, another area Christian leader, told Morning Star News that Christians in the village have stopped meeting and are living in fear.

“The extremists threatened to socially boycott the Christians if they continue to worship Christ and threatened to kill them if they submit a police complaint against anyone,” he said.

About seven miles away in Narpur village, Hindu extremists on June 28 held a “reconversion” ritual in which 50 Christians were forcefully converted to Hinduism, said Johnson of the FMBP.

“The Hindu extremists collected 50 Christians from Nakhnool, Kota and Nikkach villages and conducted a Ghar Vapsi on the land of the FMBP, and the extremists further threatened to kill and cut the Christians into pieces if they ever go back to church again,” he said.

In Bandholi, about nine miles from Nakhnool village, Hindu extremists secretly planned to demolish the FMBP building on July 18, he said, adding that they also threatened to harm the family of local evangelist Malkeeth Singh. Christian leaders approached the Alwar Superintendent of Police, and as a result the extremists abandoned plans to destroy the church building.

They continued to threaten to kill the Christians, however, if they hold worship meetings in the area.

Stopping Worship in Maharashtra

In Maharashtra state on India’s western coast, Hindu extremists since July 19 have been massing to stop village Christians from worshipping.

“On every Sunday for more than a month now, around 100 Hindu extremists gathered near where we are conducting Sunday meetings and threatened to harm some of our church members if they continue to attend the prayer meetings,” said Pastor Benjamin Gomes of New Life Grace Ministries in Pinguli village, Kudal, Sindhugurh. “Even the village head told us to stop the meeting.”

The extremists submitted a police complaint alleging forced conversion against the Christians. Police later summoned the Christians and told them to stop meeting, but church members went to the police station and told officers that they attended the church of their own free will and said there was no forceful conversion or defaming of Hindu gods, said the Rev. Anand Chougule, an area pastor.

Police have since provided some measure of protection to the church, but mobs continue to form to try to stop them from meeting every Sunday.

“On Sunday [Aug. 23], the extremists sent some women to stop us from conducting Sunday services,” said Pastor Gomes. “Somehow, we still managed to continue our prayer meetings under pressure.”

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

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

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

 

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Christian in Pakistan Killed, Wife Shot by Muslim Relatives, Attorney Says http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/christian-in-pakistan-killed-wife-shot-by-muslim-relatives-attorney-says/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/christian-in-pakistan-killed-wife-shot-by-muslim-relatives-attorney-says/#respond Thu, 27 Aug 2015 02:33:34 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4738 Nadia Masih, shot by Muslim relatives for leaving Islam and marrying Christian. (The Voice Society)

Nadia Masih. (The Voice Society)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Islamist groups are threatening the family and attorney of a young Christian man shot dead by Muslim in-laws who also wounded his wife over her decision to marry him and leave Islam, the attorney said.

Aleem Masih, 28, married Nadia, 23, last year after she put her faith in Christ.

“The couple fled to Narang Mandi, some 60 kilometers [37 miles] away from Lahore, as Nadia’s Muslim family launched a manhunt for them to avenge the shame their daughter had brought upon them by recanting Islam and marrying a Christian,” attorney Aneeqa Maria of The Voice Society told Morning Star News.

Maria said that the Christian couple had filed a petition in the Lahore High Court seeking police protection due to threats against them by Nadia’s family, who were also threatening Masih’s relatives.

On July 30, Nadia’s family received a tip that the couple would visit a doctor in Khaliqnagar, in the Youhanabad area, that evening, Maria said. Eyewitnesses said Nadia’s father, Muhammad Din Meo, along with her brothers, seized the driver of a three-wheeled rickshaw in which the couple were riding and abducted the couple, the attorney said. They took the couple to a nearby farm.

“The Muslim men first brutally tortured the couple with fists and kicks and then thrice shot Aleem Masih – one bullet hit him in his ankle, the second in the ribs while the third targeted his face,” the attorney said. “Nadia was shot in the abdomen.”

Maria said that the Muslim relatives left believing they had killed the couple.

“The attackers returned to their village and publicly proclaimed that they had avenged their humiliation and restored the pride of the Muslims by killing the couple in cold blood,” she said. “Nadia’s brother, Azhar, then presented himself before the police and confessed to having killed his sister and her Christian husband.”

Police, however, found Nadia still breathing when they arrived at the farm.

“She was shifted to the General Hospital in Lahore, where she is fighting for her life after a major operation in which two bullets were removed from her abdomen,” said the lawyer.

Maria said that when she and her team visited the hospital, a large number of Muslims were gathered there.

“The mob, some of them armed with weapons, was shouting furious anti-Christian slogans,” she said. “They were also praising Azhar for restoring the pride of the Muslim Ummah [community] and saying that he had earned his place in paradise for killing an ‘infidel.’”

She found a similar display at the local police station, where a large number of Muslims had gathered to pressure police.

The next day officers registered a case against Azhar and others, including Nadia’s father, but police have not taken them into custody as they have been granted pre-arrest bail, she said.

Maria said the Muslim family and Islamist groups were now threatening her, demanding that she and the slain Christian’s family drop the case.

“We are pursuing the case nonetheless,” she said. “Murder in the name of religion and honor must not be allowed, and the perpetrators should be held accountable for this brutal act.”

The investigating officer in the case could not be reached for comment.

Blasphemy Charge

In Gujrat District of Punjab Province, three Christians including a pastor have been charged with blasphemy and terrorism for using the word “Rasool” (apostle) on posters referring to the pastor’s deceased father.

Pastor Aftab Gill and two other Christians were taken into custody in Nai Abadi, Gujrat, after police spotted posters that referred to clergyman Fazal Masih as Rasool in marking the 20th anniversary of his death.

Rasool in Pakistan is commonly used to refer to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The word is also used several times in the Urdu Bible as a translation of “apostle” and “disciple,” and it is used frequently in church sermons and in Christian writings.

“We have arrested three men, including the son of the priest, because they used the word Rasool for the late Fazal Masih,” said area police official Shahid Tanveer.

He said that officers had summoned local Muslim clerics and elders of the Christian community to the police station to consult them on the matter.

“The Christians organizing the event apologized and asked forgiveness, saying they had used the word to celebrate Masih’s services to Christianity, but the Muslim clerics refused to accept the apology,” Tanveer said. “A case under anti-terrorism law and blasphemy has been registered against the organizers, and three men have been arrested, while 11 others are at large.”

He did not explain why police filed terrorism charges, though the charge is often used in sensitive and high profile cases as it gives access to a fast-track trial.

The pastor’s brother, Unitan Gill, said that their father had established the local Biblical Church of God in Nai Abadi several years ago. His brother, Pastor Gill, runs a grocery shop in the area besides operating a small English teaching institute.

“My brother’s business was flourishing, and this caused anguish in the local Muslim community,” he said, asserting that area Muslims Rukhsar Butt, Umer Butt, Iftikhar Butt, Faisal Munir and others had instigated police to arrest the Christians “even though the matter did not warrant such harsh action.”

“The mala fide against us is evident, because a local policeman named Mukhtar Ahmed has been made complainant in the case,” Unitan Gill said.

Area residents said police prevented massive destruction by Muslims by arresting the Christians, as Muslims wanted to burn the Christians alive and set their houses and the Biblical Church of God building on fire over blasphemy accusations. There are about 100-120 Christian families in the neighborhood.

Christians, who make up around 2 percent of Pakistan’s population, have been increasingly targeted in recent years, often over allegations of blasphemy. The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear an appeal by a Christian mother against her death sentence in a blasphemy case that has drawn criticism from rights campaigners.

Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, is a mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 after she was accused of insulting Muhammad during a quarrel with Muslim women.

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

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

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 © 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. http://morningstarnews.org 

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

 

 

 

 

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Christian in Egypt Kept in Prison on False Charge of ‘Blasphemy,’ Attorney Says http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/christian-in-egypt-kept-in-prison-on-false-charge-of-blasphemy-attorney-says/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/christian-in-egypt-kept-in-prison-on-false-charge-of-blasphemy-attorney-says/#respond Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:45:21 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4730 Page of Scripture from Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex, 9th century. (Wikipedia)

Page of Scripture from Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex, 9th century. (Wikipedia)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – An Egyptian Christian who was arrested earlier this month for alleged evangelizing of Muslims in suburban Cairo could be held indefinitely in prison on a false accusation of blasphemy, his lawyer said.

Medhat Ishak, a 35-year-old Christian from Ebid village in Minya Governorate, was arrested on Aug. 7 while handing out Bibles to Muslims outside El-Arab Mall in Sixth of October City. Mall security guards took Ishak into custody and then turned him over to national police, who accused him of evangelism.

The day after his arrest, a judge amended the charge against Ishak to “defamation of a revealed religion” and ordered him held for 15 days. On Monday (Aug. 24) the judge extended Ishak’s detention for another 15 days, said Ishak’s attorney, Rafik Rafaat.

He added that he suspects the judge will keep extending the detention order, in violation of Egyptian law, until the case falls out of the public eye, and then hand Ishak a prison sentence of one to five years.

Rafaat said there is no such criminal charge as “evangelism” under Egyptian law, and that handing out Bibles or even promoting Christianity does not constitute “defaming a revealed religion.”

“Inside the mall he met a young man, and he didn’t know if he was a Christian or not, and he offered him a copy of the Bible and told him he should take it to know God more,” Rafaat said. “So that young man told him that he was a Muslim and doesn’t read the Bible, and Medhat apologized and left.”

The young Muslim man, however, told Ishak, “I am not going to let you go,” and informed mall security that a man was evangelizing in the shopping complex, Rafaat said.

“The mall security called the SSI [the former State Security Investigations Service, now known as Egyptian Homeland Security] and told them that a man was evangelizing,” he said. “Then they arrested him and questioned him and found a few Bibles with him.”

The security officials took an official statement from the Muslim stating that Ishak was distributing Bibles inside the mall and produced other witnesses who said they saw Ishak handing out Bibles.

“The word ‘blasphemy’ means that he was insulting the other religion, but he didn’t do that, and he didn’t talk about Islam or prophets or anything like that to be accused of blasphemy,” Rafaat said. “So, now we are surprised that the attorney general accused him of blasphemy when he didn’t commit any act of blasphemy.”

The attorney said that at a prior hearing he described the innocuous exchange at the mall and provided the judge the rationale for releasing Ishak and dropping the charges, “but the judge totally ignored all the evidence.”

Ishak’s arrest was the second such arrest of a Christian in Egypt for evangelizing in a month. In the early morning hours of July 11, three Christians, one a minor, were arrested for handing out small bags of dried dates in Alexandria during the Muslim observance of Ramadan. In addition to the dates, a snack Muslims commonly eat when breaking the Ramadan daytime fast, the bags contained a statement about God’s love and omniscient nature.

A Muslim detained one member of the group, Fawzi Osama, 16, and took him to police. Two friends of Osama, Shady Saeed, 20, and Stephen Botros Fayed, 21, heard about the arrest and went to the police station, where they were detained as well. The next day, all three were released on a bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,280) each.

Hamdy Al-Assuity, one of the attorneys representing the three Coptic Christians, said the attorney general’s investigation is finished. The results, however, have yet to be released. Al-Assuity intends to file a complaint with the general prosecutor’s office about the incident soon.

“Their case has not gone to court yet. However, the case has badly affected these boys and threatened their families financially,” Al-Assuity said, adding that chances of charges being filed against his clients have increased because of the attention Ishak’s case has drawn.

Rafaat, a Coptic Christian, and Al-Assuity, a Muslim, both have considerable expertise with “blasphemy” cases and said such cases are a violation of Egyptian law.

“I am against the idea of arresting people and accusing them of evangelism or taking them to jail for talking about other religions,” Al-Assuity said.

Accusations of evangelism against Christians for handing out religious materials could be considered a degree of religious persecution, as Muslims in Egypt are allowed free rein to hand out all types of religious literature in public places, including Korans, while Christians are restricted or even arrested for doing the equivalent. Rafaat said pressure to criminally charge Christians with evangelizing comes from Muslim extremists or those acting alongside them.

“They claim that inviting others to Christianity is considered telling people to leave their religion, and that that is an insult,” Al-Assuity said, adding that prosecution is all too common when this attitude is combined with police corruption or incompetence.

“A police officer at a station or an officer who makes an arrest always takes the information and states that the case is evangelism, whether it was true or not,” he said. “In all the cases where Christians are accused of blasphemy or evangelism – and I am a Muslim – religious extremists are always somewhere behind it, and they describe the incident as evangelism. In many cases, they make false claims, or act toward the people they are accusing as if they had legal authority, like a police officer.”

Ishak has not been treated well in prison, which is typical for “evangelism” suspects, but Al-Assuity said reports of him being tortured, as some news media have claimed, are false. His next hearing is scheduled in about two weeks.

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

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

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

 

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Muslim Herdsmen Attacks in Nigeria’s Middle Belt Show Jihadist Aims, Sources Say http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/muslim-herdsmen-attacks-in-nigerias-middle-belt-show-jihadist-aims-sources-say/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/muslim-herdsmen-attacks-in-nigerias-middle-belt-show-jihadist-aims-sources-say/#respond Mon, 24 Aug 2015 14:59:15 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4717 The Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

KADUNA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – The killing of Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s middle belt, including two slayings on Saturday (Aug. 22) in Taraba state, is part of a jihadist drive to take over resources and displace the historically Christian population, sources said.

The killing of brothers Ushahemba Kumashenge and Sughter Kumashenge in Kortse village, Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba state on Saturday was the latest of numerous attacks in the state and in Kaduna, Nasarawa and Benue states. Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed the brothers on their farm a few kilometers from the village, a church leader from the area told Morning Star News by telephone.

The Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN), said the slain Christians were members of the Universal Reformed Church (NKST). In the same state on Dec. 17, 2014, a throng of Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians, including an infant boy, and on Oct. 19, 2014 armed Muslim extremists killed 31 Christians in attacks on two Taraba villages.

Ahema described the attacks as a planned genocide against Christians. Also on Dec. 17 in Kaduna state, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians in the predominantly Christian southern part of the state, where area residents said the herdsmen were working in concert with Islamic extremist groups. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency reported that more than 1,500 Christians died in similar attacks in the area last year.

Danjuma La’ah, a senator for southern Kaduna in Nigeria’s National Assembly, said that nine people were killed and 13 others injured on June 16 in an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen on the Christian village of Katsak, Jema’a Local Government Area, the latest in several assaults in southern Kaduna over the past few years. One of those wounded died the next day. On June 11, La’ah said, the herdsmen killed another Christian, 45-year-old Tanko Nyam of Kyari Daddu village in Jaba Local Government Area, who left behind a wife and five children.

“The manner in which our people are being killed with impunity still resembles the same fashion of mindless murder of our people under the former government,” he said in a statement to Morning Star News and other journalists. “This is giving me much concern, and I want to call the attention of the world to this wickedness that has always been going on without any seeming solution.”

Asserting that no authority has shown any interest in the attacks on Christians in southern Kaduna state that began to accelerate in 2011, La’ah demanded the new federal government of Muhammadu Buhari take immediate action.

“We are asking that the federal government should make southern Kaduna one of the areas that need urgent and immediate security response, just like it is doing in parts of Northeast zone,” he said. “Since 2011 there have been no less than 34 bloody invasions of our communities, in which, according to news reports, not less than 10,000 have been killed and estimated 300,000 people displaced after their villages were destroyed. It is time the federal government showed respect and care for the lives of the people of southern Kaduna.”

The middle belt states of Kaduna, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa are comparatively rich in environmental resources that have drawn migration from herdsmen and other Muslims, according to a report released earlier this year by the Nigeria Conflict Security Analysis Network (NCSAN) for Christian support group Open Doors.

Comparing violence in those areas with that of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in the northeast, NCSAN reported that attacks in the middle belt states were based not only on pursuit of environmental resources but were “intrinsically inspired by radical Islamic ideology, both as purported by the expansionist principle of darul [house of] Islam and by Boko Haram. It is a principle that divides the world into Islamic and non-Islamic, and the obligation to ensure that the non-Islamic world is brought under Islamic rule.”

Two displaced persons from Gwnatu, Kaduna state, said Fulani Muslim herdsmen are using conflict over environmental resources to carry out an Islamic agenda of killing Christians and trying to intimidate survivors into recanting Christianity in favor of Islam, according to the report, “Migration and Violent Conflict in Divided Societies: Non-Boko Haram violence against Christians in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria.”

“One of the men, who lost his two children in the violent conflict, blamed the Nigerian state for turning a blind eye to the excesses of Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen migrating to the Middle Belt region,” NCSAN reported. “He wondered why the Fulanis are allowed to possess sophisticated weapons, with no law making such action illegal, while other ethnic nationalities are constantly harassed and arrested by security operatives for possessing similar weapons. According to him, this attitude of the security operatives can only be seen as supporting the impunity of the Hausa-Fulani Muslim nomads.”

The overwhelming number of victims in what mainstream media commonly describe as property disputes between Christian and Muslim ethnic tribes are Christian, according to the report. In Taraba state, 70 percent of the victims of non-Boko Haram violence were Christian and 7 percent Muslim; in Benue state, 88 percent of the victims of non-Boko Haram violence were Christian and 2 percent Muslim, according to the report. In Nasarawa state, the figures were 75 percent Christian and 15 percent Muslim.

National Emergency Management Agency statistics for Kaduna showed 23,890 people were displaced by invasions of Christian communities in Kaura, Kachia and Sanga Local Government Areas last year.

Nasir El-Rufa’i, governor of Kaduna state, has promised that his administration is working towards addressing continual attacks in the state.

“The circles of killing in the southern part of Kaduna have been a source of great concern to us,” he said in a statement last month. “A series of comprehensive measures are being taken to tackle the problem towards sustainable peace in the state … We have briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the security challenges, and he is supportive of the measures being designed to address them. We pray Almighty God to grant the deceased eternal rest, and our hearts go to the injured and the families of the bereaved.”

John Danfulani, a Christian leader from southern Kaduna state, said that since 2011 Muslim Fulani attacks have killed 614 Christians in the region, wounded about 1,200 others and destroyed 1,000 Christian-owned houses.

Christians in southern Kaduna “are being wiped out with impunity, and the casualty figures increase with every attack,” Danfulani said. “Everything points to the fact that our people are being used as sacrificial lambs.”

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

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

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 © 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.  

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

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Freed Pastors Arrive Home from Sudan after Ordeal of False Charges, Travel Ban http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/freed-pastors-arrive-home-from-sudan-after-ordeal-of-false-charges-travel-ban/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/freed-pastors-arrive-home-from-sudan-after-ordeal-of-false-charges-travel-ban/#respond Wed, 19 Aug 2015 16:01:30 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4701 The Rev. Yat Michael (L) and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith (R) after church service in Hai Jebel in Juba. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Yat Michael (R) and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith (L) after church service in Hai Jebel in Juba. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Two South Sudanese pastors arrived home in Juba from Khartoum, Sudan today after an eight-month ordeal of imprisonment, fabricated charges of capital crimes and a ban on leaving the country.

The Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael were acquitted of the crimes calling for the death penalty on Aug. 5 but were prevented from boarding a plane out of the country the next day. Sudan’s notorious National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) had ordered the travel ban when they were initially detained – Michael on Dec. 14 and Reith on Jan. 11 – and gave the orders to the airport personnel.

Attorneys for the two pastors have been working for their release since then, but it was not immediately clear how they were able to leave the country today. Michael and Reith were transported from Juba International Airport to a church in Hai Jebel in Juba, where they attended a thanksgiving service.

“Thank God for their arrival home,” the wife of Michael told Morning Star News after the service.

South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) leaders welcomed the pastors, who expressed their gratitude to Morning Star News amid the cheering congregation. An international outcry erupted over their weeks-long incarceration without charges after Morning Star News on Dec. 28, 2014 broke the news of Michael’s arrest, and on Jan. 20 published the first account of Reith’s arrest.

“Thank you very much, Morning Star News, for your great role which led to our release from jail,” Reith said.

Reith and Michael were convicted of lesser charges and released on the time they had served. Reith was convicted under Article 65 of “establishing or participating in a criminal organization,” while Michael was convicted under Article 69 of “disturbing public peace.”

The SSPEC pastors had also been charged with spying (Article 53), punishable by death, life imprisonment or prison and confiscation of property; undermining the constitutional system (Article 50), punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment and confiscation of property; disclosure and obtaining information and official documents (Article 55), punishable by two years in prison or a fine; blasphemy/insulting religious creeds (Article 125), punishable by one year of imprisonment or a fine or no more than 40 lashes; and joint acts in execution of a criminal conspiracy (Article 21).

Agents from NISS, said to be manned by hard-line Islamists, arrested the pastors.

Michael, 49, was arrested after encouraging Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church; the church was the subject of government harassment, arrests and demolition of part of its worship center as Muslim investors have tried to take it over. Reith, 36, was arrested on Jan. 11 after submitting a letter from SSPEC leaders inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

Police in North Khartoum on Dec. 2 beat and arrested 38 Christians from the church that Michael encouraged and fined most of them. They were released later that night.

On Oct. 5, 2013, Sudan’s police and security forces broke through the church fence, beat and arrested Christians in the compound and asserted parts of the property belonged to a Muslim investor accompanying them. As Muslims nearby shouted, “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” plainclothes police and personnel from NISS broke onto the property aboard a truck and two Land Cruisers. After beating several Christians who were in the compound, they arrested some of them; they were all released later that day.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. 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. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians (see Morning Star News).

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 2015 report.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face most persecution, moving up from 11th place the previous year.

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

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

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© 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

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

 

 

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Muslim Relatives Attack Mother, Sons in Uganda for Turning to Christ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/muslim-relatives-attack-mother-sons-in-uganda-for-turning-to-christ/ http://morningstarnews.org/2015/08/muslim-relatives-attack-mother-sons-in-uganda-for-turning-to-christ/#respond Fri, 14 Aug 2015 18:32:20 +0000 http://morningstarnews.org/?p=4697 Rural Mbale in eastern Uganda. (photo Michael Shade)

Rural Mbale in eastern Uganda. (photo Michael Shade)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in eastern Uganda beat and left for dead his wife and 18-year-old son on Tuesday (Aug. 11) after learning they had converted to Christianity, area sources said.

Issa Kasoono beat and strangled his wife, Jafalan Kadondi, in Nsinze village, Namutumba District, but she survived, said a source who requested anonymity for security reasons. He said other relatives joined Kasoono in beating her and their two sons, Ibrahim Kasoono, 18, and Ismael Feruza, 16, though the younger son managed to escape with only bruises on his arm.

All three were treated at a local clinic. Due to injuries from the strangling, Kadondi has lost her voice and has difficulty eating, according to the source and an area pastor.

“The mother and Ibrahim Kasoono were seriously injured,” the source said. “Ibrahim was hit with a blunt object, had his right arm broken and has stomach pains, while the mother was strangled and sustained neck and throat injuries.”

Kadondi requires specialized treatment for her throat injury, said an area pastor whose name and church are withheld for security reasons.

Issa Kasoono left his wife and oldest son inside the house expecting them to die, the two sources said. After Ismael escaped, he ran to a church and informed the pastor of the violence. The pastor and two elders drove to the house, discovered Kadondi and Ibrahim were alive and took them to the clinic in Nsinze, he said.

On Wednesday (Aug. 12), the pastor took them to a relative’s house in another district, he said.

The mother and her two sons put their faith in Christ three months ago, and Kadondi had occasionally been able to secretly attend church meetings. After attending an open-air evangelistic event in May in Nsinze village, Kadondi and her two sons met with the pastor. After he further explained the gospel, they prayed with him to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, he said.

“It was only during this time, when Ibrahim and Ismael are in their holidays, that Issa discovered that the three had joined the Christian faith when a Muslim neighbor informed him,” he said.

Recently converts from Islam to Christianity in eastern Uganda have been suffering persecution regularly. The wife of a former sheikh (Islamic teacher) was poisoned to death on June 17 after she and her husband put their faith in Christ in Nabuli village, Kibuku District. Namumbeiza Swabura was the mother of 11 children, including a 5-month-old baby.

In Kiryolo, Kaderuna Sub-County, Budaka District on March 28, five Muslims gang-raped the 17-year-old daughter of a pastor because the church leader ignored their warnings that he stop worship services, she said.

Uganda’s population is 85 percent Christian and 11 percent Muslim. 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.

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