Chinese Church Leader and Wife Buried Alive While Blocking Demolition of Church

International Christian Concern (ICC) (01) feature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Leader Survives, but Wife Suffocates as Chinese Government Continues Assault on the Church

04/19/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that the wife of a church leader in the central Chinese province of Henan was buried alive with her husband underneath the rubble of their freshly demolished church where she suffocated and died.

1)http://www.chinaaid.org/2016/04/church-leaders-wife-dead-after-buried.html

On April 14, a demolition team was instructed to begin the demolition of the Beitou Church in Zhumadian, Henan Province to pave the way for new developers to take ownership of the lucrative property. The church leader, Li Jiangong and wife Ding Cuimei, stood in front of the bulldozers in an attempt to stop the destruction of their church. As a result, both Li and his wife were buried beneath the dirt by the demolition team.

According to China Aid, a US-based human rights group, a member of the demolition team was heard saying to the other workers, “Bury them alive, I will be responsible for their lives.”

Ding Cuimei suffocated under the weight of the dirt released by the bulldozer while her husband was able to dig his way to the surface. The responsible individuals have been subsequently detained by local authorities due to pressure from the media.

Bulldozing and burying alive Ding Cuimei, a peaceful and devout Christian woman, was a cruel, murderous act!

The events which took place in Zhumandian, Henan Province are an example of an ongoing pattern within the Chinese government’s “Three rectifications, one demolition,” campaign. Over 2,000 church crosses have been forcibly removed across the country by the government in an attempt to reduce foreign influence upon the Chinese people.

While most cases involving church members standing between demolition crews and the church end peacefully, the death of Ding Cuimei has the potential to become a larger piece in an ever evolving mosaic between the government and the Christian community.

ICC’s president, Jeff King, stated, “The events which transcribed in the heart of China have deeply saddened ICC and its NGO partners who continue to work tirelessly to promote religious freedom for all. The death of Ding Cuimei has added to the storyline of how the Chinese government does not hold life to be precious. Rather than stopping, they decided to literally bulldoze human beings as they stood their ground to protect a house of worship. While it does not hold the same historical weight as Tiananmen Square, it serves as a reminder of Chinese citizens standing in front of mammoth machines to stop what is clearly an injustice. Our prayers go out to Li Jiangong for his loss and for the loss his congregation has experienced. We stand with China Aid and call on the Chinese government to bring those responsible to justice and to stop its oppressive pursuit of whitewashing Christianity from its shores.”

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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References   [ + ]

1. http://www.chinaaid.org/2016/04/church-leaders-wife-dead-after-buried.html

Bombed, Burned, and Urinated On: Churches Under Islam

Muslim Persecution of Christians, January 2016

When Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for U.S. military efforts against ISIS, was asked about the status of Christians in Iraq soon after the monastery’s destruction, he replied “We’ve seen no specific evidence of a specific targeting toward Christians.”

Kuwait lawmaker Ahmad Al-Azemi said that he and other MPs will reject an initially approved request to build churches because it “contradicts Islamic sharia laws.” He added that Islamic scholars are unanimous in banning the building of non-Muslim places of worship in the Arabian Peninsula.

“We have little hope left that there can be a future for us, Aramean Christians, to stay in the land of our forefathers.” — Fr. Yusuf, head the last Christian family to flee Diyarbakir, Turkey.

Yet another Christian girl in Pakistan was abducted by a group of Muslim men, forced to convert to Islam, and, at the age of 15, marry one of her kidnappers.

MUSLIM ATTACKS ON CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

  Iraq:

The Islamic State blew up the country’s oldest Christian monastery, St. Elijah’s. The 27,000-square-foot building had stood near Mosul for 14 centuries. For several years, prior to 2009, U.S. soldiers protected and sometimes used the monastery as a chapel. “Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled,” reported a Roman Catholic priest in Irbil. “We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, [and] eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.” Yet, when Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for America’s military efforts against ISIS, was asked about the status of Christians in Iraq soon after the monastery’s destruction, he replied, “We’ve seen no specific evidence of a specific targeting toward Christians.”

  Kosovo:

Muslims urinated in an Orthodox Christian church in Pristina, the capital. Deputy Prime Minister Branimir Stojanovic condemned the desecration of the Temple of Christ the Savior: “Urinating in a sanctuary is shameful, uncivilized, vandalism.” (Last year in Italy, Muslims broke a statue of the Virgin Mary and also urinated on it.) Stojanovic added that, “The quiet observation of the demonstrators by the police, as they entered the temple and urinated is also shameful.” Serbian [Christian] sanctuaries in Kosovo are constantly desecrated,” the deputy prime minister said.

  Algeria:

On January 7, unknown vandals damaged, robbed, and wrote jihadi slogans on a church. Furniture, ritual objects, and money worth about U.S. $8,000 was stolen from Light Church in Tizi-Ouzou, around 62 miles from Algiers. According to Pastor Mustapha Krireche, “Thieves broke into the inside of our church through the window, because we installed a reinforced door very hard to force open. … They took the music equipment like guitars, synthesizer, percussion, and sound equipment, plus a printer, the trunk of tithes, a sum of money, and other material.” The assailants left Islamic supremacist graffiti on the church walls including “Allah Akbar [“Allah is Greater”].” The church was targeted at least twice before: in 2009, “about 20 Islamist neighbors tried to block the congregation … from meeting for worship”; in 2010, a group of Muslims rampaged through the church building, trying to burn it down and damaging Bibles and a cross.

  Kuwait:

Lawmaker Ahmad Al-Azemi said that he and other MPs will reject an initially approved request to build churches because it “contradicts Islamic sharia laws.” He added that Islamic scholars are unanimous in banning the building of non-Muslim places of worship in the Arabian Peninsula.

  Mongolia:

Days after a church celebrated Christmas, explosives were thrown into the stove chimney of a Kazakh house-church. As a result, “Believers decided not to come together for a while. They [are] afraid of a repetition of the explosions in the homes of believers,” said a church leader. Large numbers of people had attended the church’s Christmas services and local Christians believe that this turnout had “angered some of the local Muslims and led them to carry out the attack.”

  Pakistan:

Three churches were attacked:

1) Apostolic Church was burned in the Punjab. The church building was torched a day after a prayer vigil for Epiphany on Jan. 6. Pastor Zulfiqar of the Apostolic Church said Bibles and sacred vessels were also lost in the blaze. An earlier dispute between Muslims and Christians is believed to be behind the arson attack. Locals accused police of being negligent, as usual. According to a local resident: “All the local Christians are now in great fear, the fire illustrates that Christians are not wanted in the local area.”

2) Akba Azhar, a 26-year-old Muslim man, broke into the Victory Church in Kasur and burned copies of the Bible and other sacred books. Although he was captured and detained by a group of Christians who handed him over to police, and although any act of blasphemy against any religion is punishable in Pakistan by death, police claimed that he was mentally unstable and therefore could not be tried. Local Christians disagree, insisting that he is of sound mind. Several Christians are on death row in Pakistan due to accusations of blasphemy against Islam.

3) A group of Muslims illegally seized a church property. The Christian congregation eventually gave up trying to reacquire its church building and a reconciliation meeting was held by police: “the Muslims instead armed themselves with guns and machetes and attacked the Christians’ family members in their homes,” said local Christian, Bashir Masih. After the church seizure, Muslims in the area “made it almost impossible” for church members to worship even in their own 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…” But when the congregation of about 30 Christians began worshipping, Rashid Jutt, a Muslim in his late 20s, appeared and disrupted the service. A young Christian in attendance stepped forward in an effort to stop the Muslim’s harassment. A fight started, but the congregation separated the two men. The Muslim vowed to “teach all of us a lesson” as he left, said Masih. Apparently the Muslim’s revenge was to tell police that the Christian congregation tied him up and tortured him. The Christian congregation “immediately reached the police station and told the inspector in-charge what had really happened.” A police officer advised them to drop the matter and instead try to “reconcile with the Muslim youth.”

The Christians agreed to a reconciliation meeting, but the Muslim never showed up. Instead, they found him “and some 30 other men armed with guns, machetes, and batons storming through our houses and beating up our boys.” The Christians instantly called police, who arrived slowly and “did not arrest any of the Muslims. … We feel that the entire Muslim community has turned against us for standing up against their aggression. … Even the local police, are on the Muslims’ side,” Masih concluded, “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.”

  South Sudan:

Muslims “sent” from the Muslim majority in Sudan, a country in which Sharia law is enforced, are suspected of burning down a church building in its southern neighbor where there is a Christian majority. On January 16, members of the Sudanese Church of Christ in the refugee settlement of Yida awoke in the morning to find their place of worship in flames. “I learned that those who set our church on fire were sent from Sudan purposely,” reported an anonymous church leader. The fire burned both the exterior and interior of the structure, destroying all of the chairs, a pulpit, and some copies of Bibles in Arabic. The following week his congregation of nearly 200 people held their prayer service in the open air in the remains of the charred church building, an adobe structure.

  Egypt:

A makeshift bomb was found near a church on January 22. Father Paul of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt found what he described as a “foreign object” next to the garbage can outside of the Church of the Virgin Mary in Aswan. He took it to the authorities for analysis, and it was discovered to be a makeshift bomb. Separately, security forces arrested 10 Coptic Christians for trying to build a wall around a piece of vacant land in order to expand their current church into the territory or possibly even build a church. A church already exists in the village of Abu Hannas in Samalout, Minya but it is too small to serve the village’s large Christian population. So the church purchased an unused piece of land next to it in the hope of expanding the current church or building another.

  Iran:

Authorities from the Islamic Republic are trying to convert the Assyrian Christian church in Tehran into a mosque. The church was illegally confiscated two years ago, when church leaders were told that an Islamic prayer hall would be built there.

Left - The Assemblies of God Assyrian church in Tehran, Iran. The church was illegally confiscated two years ago by the regime, which now wants to convert it into a mosque. Right - On January 7, vandals damaged, robbed, and wrote jihadi slogans on the Light Church in Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria.

  Indonesia:

Authorities in the Sharia-governed province of Aceh plan to remove tents built by Christians in which to worship after their churches were torn down late last year by authorities in response to Muslim violence against churches. The attacks left one dead and thousands of Christians displaced. The government claims that the removals were agreed to, as the tents were built only for Christmas services — a claim that Christian leaders reject. When Sharia police and other officials arrived in early January to remove the tents, the congregation resisted. “Mothers, children, and youths blockaded them. They made their objections clear,” said a pastor. Two church tents were torn down.

  Turkey:

A Syriac Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, considered to be a “unique heritage site,” is believed to have been destroyed during fighting between the Turkish army and the Kurdish PKK. According to the last Christian family to flee the area, Fr. Yusuf and his wife: “My wife and I managed to escape the Church just moments ago with great difficulty… A few days ago, we already sent our children away in order to put them in safety. My wife and I, however, could not leave this ancient-old Church,” which symbolizes the last living presence of the Arameans in this once flourishing Aramean city.

“We heard the fighting coming closer to us and we felt the ground shaking more and more. Especially my wife got terribly afraid and then we both decided that we had to run for our lives. … Not even at home or church we were safe. Our psychology has been greatly impacted by what we have experienced lately. … We don’t know what has happened to our Church, because we didn’t dare to look while we were running for our lives. Now we have little hope left that there can be a future for us, Aramean Christians, to stay in the land of our forefathers.”

Fr. Yusuf

MUSLIM SLAUGHTER OF CHRISTIANS

Pakistan:              At least three Christians were raped and/or tortured to death by Muslims:            

1) A group of Muslim men went into a Christian district, abducted a 7-year-old boy, and took turns gang-raping him before finally strangling him to death with a rope. Locals found the child’s body the next day dumped in a field: “[T]he body was sent for post-mortem examination which revealed that the 7-year-old was killed after being brutally raped,” a local said. “The suspects belonged to rich families and were drunk when they kidnapped the child, took him away and they raped him.”


2) A week later, another group of reportedly “rich and drunk” Muslims in a car accosted three Christian girls walking home from work. They sexually harassed them, saying “Christian girls are only meant for one thing, the pleasure of Muslim men.” When the girls tried to run away, the Muslims chased them down in their car and ran them over, killing one 17-year-old girl.


3) A Christian man was brutally tortured to death by police in an attempt to get him to confess to stealing from his Muslim employer. Khurram, the son of Liaqat Masih, the 47-year-old slain Christian, was also tortured by police for the same reason; he shared his eyewitness testimony of the beating his father endured before expiring. Police stripped him naked, made him stand on a chair, tied his hands behind his back, and hung him from the ceiling, causing Liaqat’s shoulders to become dislocated. Each time the captive’s feet hit the floor, a police officer would pull the rope to lift him up again and continued applying tension to his arms and dislocated shoulders. Because both Khurram and Liaqat adamantly maintained their innocence during the ordeal, the officers continued to beat his tied-up father with wooden logs until he eventually died. About an hour into the beating, the guards noticed that Liaqat was no longer breathing. The officers then released the tension on the rope and laid the father’s beaten body down in a pool of his own urine, said the son who watched. At the autopsy, doctors concluded that Liaqat died of a heart attack and failed to record the numerous injuries and bruises suffered during the beating.


  Bangladesh:

ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of an 85-year-old Muslim man for reportedly converting to Christianity. He was found lying in a coffin-like structure with blood on his chest. It is believed that he was stabbed to death while working at his homeopathic practice. According to the report, “Soldiers of the caliphate were able to eliminate the apostate, named ‘Samir al-Din’, by stabbing him with a knife.” Although al-Din’s son claims that his father never converted to Christianity and frequently prayed facing Mecca, One Way Church disagrees, stating that he was just “in a meeting of the church at Gopinathpur village on Jan 3” and that he had told others that his life was in danger. “The local church has shown us papers confirming his conversion to Christianity in 2001,” said local police.

  Syria:

A bomb attack on a mostly Christian neighborhood killed three people and wounded 10 others, all Christians. The attack occurred on January 24 in the Kurdish city of Qamishli. While rumors began that ISIS was behind it, according to one Christian leader, “So many people think that behind the bombing there could also be Kurdish masterminds and executors. It is another disturbing factor of this war: there is terrorism, but sometimes we do not know who really terrifies us.”

DHIMMITUDE

  Germany:

In a letter to the Federal Minister for Special Affairs, Hegumen Daniil, Father Superior of St. George the Victorious Monastery in Gotschendorf and a member of the Integration Committee at the German Federal Chancellery, wrote:

Christian refugees from Syria, Eritrea, and other countries are exposed to humiliation, manhunts, and brutal harassment at the camps for refugees by their Muslim neighbors. This also relates to the Yazidi religious minority. The cases when humiliation turns to injuries and death threats are frequent. … According to the Islamic tradition, they {former Muslims, who are at special risk} should be punished, because they moved away from Islam. They are exposed to great pressure and are afraid for their lives, because “renegades” lose any right to it as far as radical Muslims are concerned. … Many Christians who came from the Middle East are suffering from such great harassment that they want to return home, because their situation there seems to them to be a lesser evil as compared with the circumstances in the German refugee accommodation centers.

Hegumen Daniil

  Egypt:

“The tombs of the Copts [Egypt’s indigenous Christians] are being turned into garbage dumps.” This was the message from Fr. Ayoub Yousef, who heads the Coptic Catholic church of St. George in the village of Dalga, in Minya, Upper Egypt. According to the priest, local Christian cemeteries are in a “piteous state,” and all types of sewage and waste are being dumped into them to the point of filling the tombs. He has filed numerous complaints with the prime minister and many other officials “to no avail, to the point that the situation has become unacceptable” and urged “immediate intervention.”

Separately, during a televised Egyptian talk show that aired on January 18, Ahmed ‘Abdu Maher, a lawyer, denounced Al-Azhar, the Islamic world’s oldest and most prestigious university, for continuing to radicalize its students. By way of example, he said: “There is a book in Al-Azhar that calls for the forceful shaving of the heads of the Copts, placing a sign on their homes [so Muslims know where the ‘infidels’ live], and refusing to shake hands with them.” As it happens, the Islamic State and similar Muslim groups all make it a point not to shake hands with “unclean” Christians — one Egyptian cleric said he finds Christians utterly “disgusting” — and that Christian homes should be distinguished with signs, as ISIS did when it placed the Arabic “N” (nun) letter on their homes in Mosul and elsewhere. Even forced head-shaving is being practiced. Back in 2013, jihadi groups in Libya abducted around 100 Copts and abused them—including shaving their heads.

  Turkey:

Out of almost 2 million Syrian refugees within Turkey’s borders, 45,000 are Christian and are finding that “life is only slightly better at best.” Many have to pretend to be Muslims in public in order to avoid being attacked. They restrict their Christian worship to the privacy of their tents and homes. According to the report, “Another group of refugees in Turkey that was attacked is the Armenians. Zadig Kucuk reportedly found his 85-year-old mother murdered in December 2012, even though she was living in a large Armenian community in Istanbul. When her body was found, a large cross had been carved into her chest. There have also been incidences of refugees being beheaded.”

  Iran:

Instead of receiving much needed medical treatment, a Christian prisoner was instead given five additional years in prison. Ebrahim Firouzi was first arrested by agents of the Islamic Republic in 2013. He was later condemned by a court of law to one year in prison and two years’ exile. After his sentence ended, Firouzi was kept in prison when new charges of “acting against national security” were levied against him. He remains in prison even though he has been suffering acute pain in the left side of his chest for over a year, and his condition has continued to deteriorate in the last three months.

  Kazakhstan:

After he appealed the decision, a court in Astana, the nation’s capital, increased the sentence originally handed to Yklas Kabduakasov, a convert from Islam, from seven years’ house arrest to two years at hard labor in a prison camp. The father of eight was arrested last year on charges of “inciting religious hatred.” He was convicted last November and allowed to go home to begin his seven years of house arrest. Local Christians believe the real reason behind the arrest of Yklas Kabduakasov is his conversion from Islam to Christianity and that he was sharing his Christian faith with Muslims.

  Mali:

A Swiss Christian missionary, who was abducted for 10 days in 2012, has been kidnapped again in Timbuktu. On January 8, Beatrice Stockly, a woman in her 40s, was taken from her home before dawn by armed men who arrived in four pickup trucks. Militant Islamic groups are active in the area in which she lives and had launched two attacks in the previous weeks, one of them on a Christian radio station just before Christmas, which left 25 people dead. In 2012, when the jihadis ruled the area, they outlawed the practice of Christianity and desecrated and looted churches and other places of worship.

  Pakistan:

Yet another Christian girl was abducted by a group of Muslim men, forced to convert to Islam, and marry one of her kidnappers. The girl, 15-year-old Saima Bibi, was alone in a village in the Kasur district when she was seized. The family filed a complaint with police against her captors. Her parents hope that providing a birth certificate verifying her underage status will prove useful in the case, as the legal age for marriage in Pakistan is 16. Police, however, already confirmed that Saima has converted to Islam and officials have documents proving the marriage.

About this Series

While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by Muslims is growing. The report entitled “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some — though by no means all — of the instances of the Muslim persecution of Christians that surface each month.

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

It posits that such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place in all languages, ethnicities, and locations.

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of  Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with the Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

Previous reports

March 2, 2016 | by Raymond Ibrahim | Source: gatestoneinstitute.org "Bombed, Burned, and Urinated On: Churches Under Islam"
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Egypt’s “Security Threat”: Churches

Islam vs. Christianity

• Whenever Christians attempt to repair, renovate, or build a church — all of which contradict Islamic law — the same chain of events follows. Local Muslims riot and rampage, and local (Muslim) officials conclude that the only way to prevent “angry youths” from acts of violence is to ban the church, which is then declared a “threat” to security.

• Repeatedly, Christian leaders accuse local officials of inciting Muslim violence against churches. Muslim leaders then point to this violence to deny the church a permit on the grounds that it has attracted violence.

On February 1, Tharwat Bukhit, a Coptic Christian member of Egypt’s parliament, announced “there are approximately 50 churches in Egypt closed for reasons of security.”

When the “Arab Spring” broke out in 2011, Egypt’s Christians compiled a list of 43 churches that had been shut down by local authorities over the years. This list was given to the prime minister of Egypt at the time, Dr. Essam Sharaf, who said that the churches would be opened as soon as possible. Yet since then, according to Bukhit, “Today, the number of closed churches has grown to almost 50.”

Why are Christian churches being “closed for reasons of security”?

Whenever Christians attempt to repair, renovate, or build a church — all of which contradict Islamic law1)According to the Conditions of Omar, a Medieval Muslim text that delineates the debilitations Christians must accept in order not to be killed by an Islamic state, Christians are commanded Not to build a church in our city—nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas—and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters; Not to clang our cymbals except lightly and from the innermost recesses of our churches; Not to display a cross on them [churches], nor raise our voices during prayer or readings in our churches anywhere near Muslims… See Crucified Again, pgs. 24-30– the same chain of events follows. Local Muslims riot and rampage, and local (Muslim) officials conclude that the only way to prevent “angry youths” from acts of violence is to ban the church, which is then declared a “threat” to security.

Such events have occurred repeatedly throughout Egypt. For instance, Abdel Fattah Sisi, Egypt’s president, agreed to build a memorial church in the village of Al-Our, which was home to 13 of the 21 Christians beheaded in February 2015 by the Islamic State in Libya. The families of the victims still live there. After Islamic prayers on Friday, April 3, 2015, Muslim mobs from Al-Our village violently protested Sisi’s decision. They yelled that they would never allow a church to be built. They chanted, “Egypt is Islamic!” and then attacked a Coptic church with Molotov cocktails and stones. Cars were set on fire, including one belonging to the family of a Christian beheaded by the Islamic State. Several people were seriously hurt.

In Sohag City, a similar chain of events took place. After waiting 44 years, the Christians of Nag Shenouda were issued the necessary permits to build a church. According to a 2015 report, local Muslims rioted and burned down the temporary worship tent. When a Christian tried to hold a religious service in his home, a Muslim mob attacked it. Denied a place to worship, the Christians of Nag Shenouda celebrated Easter 2015 in the street.

The Christians of Nag Shenouda, Egypt celebrated Easter 2015 in the street after local Muslims rioted and burned down their temporary worship tent, and attacked their religious service at a home.

In a separate incident, also after waiting years, the Christians of Gala’ village finally received formal approval to begin restoring their dilapidated church (see pictures here). Soon after, on April 4, 2015, Muslims rioted, hurling stones at Christian homes, businesses and persons. Christian-owned wheat farms were destroyed and their potato crops uprooted. The usual Islamic slogans were shouted: “Islamic! Islamic!” and “There is no God but Allah!”

In July 2015, Muslims suspended prayer in a church in the village of Arab Asnabt. They called for the church to be demolished as part of an effort “to prevent Coptic Christians from practicing their religious rites.”

Repeatedly, Christian leaders accuse local officials of inciting Muslim violence against churches. Muslim leaders then point to this violence to deny the church a permit on the grounds that it has attracted violence.

More recently, a church under construction in the village of Swada was attacked by a mob of at least 400 Muslims, possibly incited by local officials. After the attack, the church was closed by the same officials who had previously granted the necessary permits required for its construction. The 3,000 Coptic Christians in Swada, who make up approximately 35% of the population, do not have even one Coptic Orthodox Church to serve them.

This year, on February 1, the same day as Coptic Christian MP Tharwat Bukhit said nearly 50 churches had been shut down, the priest of St. Rewis Church described how, on the first day Christians met to worship in a fellow Christian’s home that he had transformed into a church, “Muslims prevented them so that the church was closed on the very day it was opened.”

On February 2, Father Lucas Helmi, an official of the Franciscan Order in Egypt, explained how “the closure of St. George’s Church in the village of Hijazah in Qous [shuttered 25 years earlier] goes back to tensions between Coptic and Muslim families in the village, especially the Muslim neighbors around the old church, which is still unfinished because they refused to allow it to be rebuilt after it was demolished.”

During a 25-minute interview on Arabic satellite TV, Bishop Agathon revealed2)In his May 2015 interview, Bishop Agathon made many remarks accusing the Egyptian government of being behind the persecution of Christians in Egypt—including the rampant kidnapping of Christian children. A translation of his remarks can be read here. how, after an official council meeting with government leaders on the possibility of building a church, one of the authorities contacted the Islamic sheikhs of the village. The official asked the sheikhs if they stood “with the Coptic church or with the State?”

The sheikhs apparently told the Muslim households to each send one family member to protest the building of the church. Security officials could then point to the “rioting mob” and, as usual, on grounds of security, ban the church.

February 15, 2016 | by Raymond Ibrahim | http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7433/egypt-churches "Egypt's "Security Threat": Churches"
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References   [ + ]

1. According to the Conditions of Omar, a Medieval Muslim text that delineates the debilitations Christians must accept in order not to be killed by an Islamic state, Christians are commanded Not to build a church in our city—nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas—and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters; Not to clang our cymbals except lightly and from the innermost recesses of our churches; Not to display a cross on them [churches], nor raise our voices during prayer or readings in our churches anywhere near Muslims… See Crucified Again, pgs. 24-30
2. In his May 2015 interview, Bishop Agathon made many remarks accusing the Egyptian government of being behind the persecution of Christians in Egypt—including the rampant kidnapping of Christian children. A translation of his remarks can be read here.

Detained without charge – Help to free two (more) Christian pastors in Sudan

International Christian Concern (ICC) (01) feature

Kept in an unknown location and detained without charge…

Help free two (more) Pastors in Sudan

Rev. Telahoon Rata and Rev. Hassan Taour were both detained in mid-December by Sudan’s NISS (National Intelligence and Security Service) agents, who took them into custody at their respective homes.

However, they have not been charged and are now being held,against their will, in an undisclosed location – cut-off from legal defence, from their families, and from their congregations.

The reason their cases are only now coming to light, is because, under Sudanese law, detainees must be presented before the court or released after 45 days.

Now that more than 45 days have elapsed, serious concerns are being raised about their physical condition and legal status.

* SIGN THE PETITION TODAY *

CitizenGO petition

In fact, their lawyers and supporters, who have been prevented contact with the pastors, have, by now, written several formal letters to Sudan’s Human Rights Council, as well as to several Sudanese government ministries, including the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

But, no reply has been received.

Additionally, sources, close to the case, say that Rev. Rata was initially taken into custody on “religious charges”, but, now, rumours are that he may be charged with espionage.

This is the same modus operandi used – that is, presenting trumped-up spying charges – by the Sudanese Government when they arrested two other Christian pastors, Rev. Yat Michael and Rev. Peter Yein Reith, in early 2015.

Both of those pastors were eventually released…but, only after 8 months of jail time…

So, before more time elapses, and before the Sudanese Government presents bogus charges against these two Christian pastors, we must raise our voices against this unjust detention.

Therefore, this petition seeks the immediate release of Pastors Rata and Taour.

By this petition, we will contact the UN, the US, and the Sudanese Government. The UN and the US need to apply pressure on Sudan, and the Sudanese Government needs to understand that there are consequences for attempting to suppress religious freedom.

In the case of the US, the Ambassador at-large for International Religious Freedom, Mr. David Saperstein, can propose that his colleagues at the State Department push for economic sanctions to be applied for this presumed violation of religious freedom.

And, on the UN side, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, can take the Sudanese Government to task, publicly, for presumptively violating Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (dealing with religious freedom) AND Sudan’s own constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, found in Section 6 of their Constitution.

Both the US and UN representatives need to hear from you.

* SIGN THE PETITION TODAY *

CitizenGO petition

Please sign this urgent petition, and let’s help get these Christian Pastors, Rata and Taour, released!

02/12/2016 | By CitizenGO | SOURCE: citizengo.org


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

SOURCE: worldwatchmonitor.org

Published; Feb. 10, 2016, Christian leaders kept in Sudan since December uncharged, but incommunicado.

SOURCE: christiantoday.com

Published; 10 February 2016, Two Sudanese pastors detained without charge in 'campaign to eradicate Christianity'
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World Watch List – Country Profiles

Open Doors Logo (01) feature

World Watch List 2016: Released

The list showing the countries where Christians are persecuted most, has just been released. Resources will be available from 1 February.

The countries listed below make up the current World Watch List – a yearly ranking of the top 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most intense. Click on a country to read about its current situation.

Source: World Watch List – Country Profiles

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Turkey: Christian Refugees Live in Fear

In the eyes of many devout Muslims, tolerance seems to be a one-way street.

“The relation between Islam and the rest of the world is marked by asymmetry. Muslims may and do enjoy all kinds of freedoms and privileges in the lands of the Kuffar [infidels]; however non-Muslims are not granted the same rights and privileges when they live in countries governed by Muslim governments… In our globalized world, this state of affairs should not continue.” — Jacob Thomas.

The West, coming as it does from the Judeo-Christian culture of love and compassion, would seem to have a moral responsibility to help first the Christians, the most beleaguered and most benign of immigrants.

Around 45,000 Armenian and Assyrian Christians (also known as Syriac and Chaldean) who fled Syria and Iraq and have settled in small Anatolian cities in Turkey, are forced to hide their religious identity, according to the Hurriyet daily newspaper1)http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/christian-refugees-face-difficulties-hide-religion-in-turkey-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=92719&NewsCatID=339.

Since the Islamic State (ISIS) invaded Iraqi and Syrian cities, Christians and Yazidis have become the group’s main target, facing another possible genocide at the hands of Muslims.

Anonis Alis Salciyan, an Armenian who fled Iraq for Turkey, told Hurriyet that in public, they pretend to be Muslim.

“My husband and I fled [Iraq] with our two children one year ago with around 20 other families. There was pressure on us in Iraq,” Salciyan said, recalling that her husband, who ran a jewelry shop in Iraq, is now unemployed. “We have relatives in Europe. Only thanks to their support are we getting by. Our children cannot go to school here; they cannot speak Turkish.”

What makes the plight of Christian refugees in Turkey even more tragic is that the ancestors of some of those refugees were driven out of Anatolia by the Ottoman authorities and local Muslims a century ago, during what are known as the Armenian Genocide and Assyrian Genocide of 1915.

Another family, Linda and Vahan Markaryan, also fled to Turkey with their two children. Their home in Baghdad had been raided by ISIS jihadists.

“My daughter, Nuşik, seven, stopped talking that day. She has not spoken since. We are working hard to provide her treatment, but she still will not speak,” Linda Markaryan said, adding that it was hard for them to practice their religion. “We have to conduct our prayers at home.”

Islamic jihadist armies invaded Middle Eastern and North African lands starting in the 7th century. The indigenous, non-Muslim, peoples of those lands have doubtless forgotten what safety, security and religious freedom mean.

In every country that is now majority-Muslim, there are horror stories of violent subjugation, rapes, slavery and murder of the non-Muslim people at the hands of jihadists.

Christians have existed in Syria since the earliest days of Christianity; today, after the raids of ISIS, they are fleeing for their lives.

Left: A memorial in France commemorating the 1915 Assyrian Genocide in Turkey. Right: An Islamic State member destroys a Christian tombstone in Mosul, Iraq, in April 2015.

Muslim invasions of Byzantine Syria occurred under Muhammad’s successors, the Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khattab in the 7th century. In 634, Damascus, then mostly Christian, became the first major city of the Byzantine Empire to fall to the Rashidun Caliphate.

Damascus subsequently became the capital of the Ummayad Caliphate, the second of the four major Islamic caliphates, and Arabic became the official state language.

In Iraq, where many Christian refugees in Turkey also come from, there has also been a campaign of Islamization.

Muslim Arabs captured what is today termed “Iraq” from the Persian Sassanid Empire in 636. They burned Zoroastrian scriptures, executed priests, pillaged cities and seized slaves — just as ISIS does today.

When Muslim armies captured non-Muslim lands, the Christians and Jews were given the choice of either converting, being killed, or living as “dhimmis2)https://www.jewishmag.com/57mag/dhimmi/dhimmi.htm“: third-class, barely “tolerated” people in their dispossessed land, and having to pay a tax (the jizya) in exchange for so-called “protection.”3)For more about dhimmitude, please see “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam“, by Bat Ye’or, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985.

NOW, IN THE 21ST CENTURY, CHRISTIANS IN TURKEY SAY THEY STILL LIVE IN FEAR.

On December 28, 2012, for instance, 85-year-old Maritsa Kucuk, an Armenian woman, was beaten and stabbed to death4)http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3857/maritsa-kucuk-cinayeti-ve-yetkililerin-dayanilmaz-suskunlugu in her home in the neighborhood of Samatya (one of the largest Armenian communities in Istanbul), where she lived alone. Her son, Zadig Kucuk, who found her dead body at home, said that a cross had been carved on her chest.

In December 2012, also in Samatya, another woman, T.A., 87, was attacked, beaten, and choked5)http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3857/maritsa-kucuk-cinayeti-ve-yetkililerin-dayanilmaz-suskunlugu in her home. She lost an eye.

“The press, the police, politicians, and authorities have not focused on this issue,” wrote6)http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3857/maritsa-kucuk-cinayeti-ve-yetkililerin-dayanilmaz-suskunlugu Rober Koptas, the then chief editor of the Armenian bilingual weekly newspaper, Agos. “They prefer to stay silent as if these attacks never took place. It increases the uneasiness of all Armenians living in Turkey.”

In January, 2013, Ilker Sahin, 40, a teacher working at an Armenian school in Istanbul, was beheaded7)http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3889/aramyan-okulu-ogretmeni-bogazi-kesilerek-olduruldu in his home.

In 2011, a Turkish taxi driver in Istanbul punched8)http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3816/samatya-cinayeti-karanlikta-kalmasin an Armenian customer. “Your accent is bad,” he told her. “You are a kafir [infidel].”

In the eyes of many devout Muslims, tolerance seems to be a one-way street. Many Muslims have apparently still not learned to treat other people with respect. Non-Muslims all around the “Muslim world” are either murdered or forced to live in fear. Many Muslims evidently still think that non-Muslims are their dhimmis, and that they can treat them as terribly as they would like.

In Western countries, Muslims are equal citizens with equal rights. But some of them often demand more “rights” — privileges from their governments — such as Islamic sharia courts with a parallel legal system. If their demands are not met, they accuse people of “Islamophobia” or “racism.”

In majority-Muslim countries, including Turkey, non-Muslims are continually insulted, threatened or even murdered — and most Muslims, including state authorities, do not seem to care.

“The relation between Islam and the rest of the world is marked by asymmetry,” wrote the author Jacob Thomas9)http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/thomas/dhimmis_damascus.html,

“Muslims may and do enjoy all kinds of freedoms and privileges in the lands of the Kuffar {infidels}; however non-Muslims are not granted the same rights and privileges when they live in Daru’l Islam {“the home of Islam”, countries governed by Muslim governments}. Western politicians don’t seem to notice this anomaly; while most Western academicians don’t appear concerned about this lack of quid pro quo in the Islamic world. In our globalized world, this state of affairs should not continue.”

Jacob Thomas

Unfortunately, hatred of Christians has become a norm in Muslim countries, and this norm will not soon go away. This means that Christians in the Middle East will continue suffering or even being murdered, and will eventually become extinct in the Middle East if the civilized world does not help them.

As Linda Markaryan, the Christian refugee who fled ISIS in Iraq and is now living in Turkey, said10)http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/christian-refugees-face-difficulties-hide-religion-in-turkey-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=92719&NewsCatID=339: “We do not have a future here. Everything in our lives is uncertain. Our only wish is to provide a better future for our children in a place where they are safe and secure.”

“We are only working in temporary jobs in places like construction sites,” her husband, Vahan Markaryan, said. “The other workers [Turkish citizens] are paid around 100 Turkish liras a day but we are only paid 25 liras a day for the same work. We cannot demand our rights.”

Linda & Vahan Markaryan

Hurriyet also reported that Christian refugees in Turkey have applied to the United Nations to be able to go to the U.S., Canada or Austria; they have been granted residency in Turkey only until 2023.

All Western states should give priority to Christians from Muslim countries when granting refugee status to people. The West, coming as it does from the Judeo-Christian culture of love and compassion, would seem to have a moral responsibility to help first the Christians, these most beleaguered and most benign of immigrants.

January 24, 2016 | by Uzay Bulut11)Uzay Bulut, born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara. | Source: gatestoneinstitute.org “Turkey: Christian Refugees Live in Fear”

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References   [ + ]

1, 10. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/christian-refugees-face-difficulties-hide-religion-in-turkey-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=92719&NewsCatID=339
2. https://www.jewishmag.com/57mag/dhimmi/dhimmi.htm
3. For more about dhimmitude, please see “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam“, by Bat Ye’or, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985.
4, 5, 6. http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3857/maritsa-kucuk-cinayeti-ve-yetkililerin-dayanilmaz-suskunlugu
7. http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3889/aramyan-okulu-ogretmeni-bogazi-kesilerek-olduruldu
8. http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/3816/samatya-cinayeti-karanlikta-kalmasin
9. http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/thomas/dhimmis_damascus.html
11. Uzay Bulut, born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.

Saeed Abedini Freed From Iranian Prison After Three Years

Profile: Saeed Abedini (02) feature

(PHOTO: ACLJ.ORG) U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini in this undated photo.

 Pastor Saeed Abedini has been released from prison in Iran after more than three years in captivity for his Christian faith.

Abedini, a U.S. citizen who has attracted high-profile advocates for his release including President Obama and members of Congress, was released on Saturday along with three other detained Americans: Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian; former Marine Amir Hekmati, and Nosratollah Khosavi-Roodsari, The Washington Post reported. Senior U.S. administration officials also confirmed the release of the four prisoners, according to CNN.

Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, who has tirelessly campaigned for his release since his imprisonment, said in a statement, “This has been an answer to prayer. This is a critical time for me and my family. We look forward to Saeed’s return and want to thank the millions of people who have stood with us in prayer during this most difficult time.”

Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, who has publicly advocated and prayed for Abedini’s release, posted on his Facebook Saturday: “American Pastor, Saeed Abedini along with the 3 other American prisoners have been released from Prison in Iran! This is an answered prayer! For years the hashtag has been #SaveSaeed Now, we can update it to #GodsavedSaeed”

The four Americans were released by Iran in exchange for at least six people imprisoned by the United States and also ahead of the nearing implementation of the July 2015 historic nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had previously said that Abedini would not be released until 19 Iranian prisoners held in the U.S. are granted their freedom.

American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the legal group representing Abedini’s wife and family, noted that they first heard news that Saeed was released from his prison cell to Iran’s Central Intelligence agency late Friday night. It was not until Saturday morning that they were able to confirm that the pastor was really freed.

“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,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of ACLJ, in a statement.

“We’re delighted this day has finally arrived,” Sekulow continued. “We have worked and prayed that this day would finally arrive. And now, Pastor Saeed can return home.”

Pastor Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho, had served over three years of an eight year sentence in Iran for the supposed crime of endangering national security, but in reality it was because of his Christian faith. Abedini is a Muslim convert to Christianity and was in Iran working on building an orphanage when he was suddenly arrested. He had endured physical, emotional and psychological abuse during his imprisonment, according to his family, but resolutely stated that he would not renounce his Christian faith to escape punishment.

Naghmeh Abedini often shared that their two young children, aged 9 and 5, have missed their father terribly and it was difficult as a mother to endure her children’s pain. With news that Saeed has indeed been released, the family will finally be reunited after years apart.

“We are grateful for the release of Pastor Saeed. The prayers of the Body of Christ all over the world have been answered,” reflected Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This day of celebration should remind us to pray and work all the more for the multitudes still persecuted for their faith all over the world, including in Iran. We hope and long for the day when Iran, and nations like it, are free from those who wish to enslave the conscience at the point of a sword.”

January 16, 2016 | by Ethan Cole , Christian Post Reporter | Source: christianpost.com "Saeed Abedini Freed From Iranian Prison After Three Years"
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AMERICA IS UNHINGED: Atheist Group Appeals Decision Allowing 40-Foot Cross on Public Property

USA: America Unhinged feature

(PHOTO: LIBERTY INSTITUTE) A veterans memorial located in Bladensburg, Maryland.

An atheist organization continued its legal effort to have a large cross removed from a memorial in the state of Maryland.

The American Humanist Association filed an appeal in federal court Monday before the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn a lower federal court decision allowing for the cross to remain on public land in Bladensburg.

Monica Miller, senior counsel for the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement that the Bladensburg Cross must be removed from its present location.

“The Bladensburg Cross is an enormous Christian symbol on government property and has the clear effect of endorsing religion,” stated Miller.

“We will continue defending the First Amendment rights of our clients as well as all non-Christian service members who are excluded from the government’s Latin cross monument.”

Placed at the intersection of Maryland Route 450 and U.S. Route 1, the Bladensburg Cross was an American Legion memorial project completed in 1925.

In 2012, the American Humanist Association sent a letter to the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission demanding that the cross be removed.

In February 2014, the AHA filed a lawsuit against the Planning Commission on behalf of two members who lived in the area and a third person from Beltsville.

“This action challenges the constitutionality of the defendant’s ownership, maintenance and prominent display on public property of a massive Christian cross (the ‘Bladensburg cross’) as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S.Constitution, as applied to Maryland by the Fourteenth Amendment,” read the suit.

“The plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief and nominal damages under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the defendant to redress this Establishment Clause violation, together with recovery of attorney’s fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. §1988(b).”

On Nov. 30, U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ruled in favor of the cross, arguing that it did not have an exclusively religious purpose.

“Although the Latin cross is undeniably a religious symbol … Other courts have recognized that displaying a cross to honor fallen soldiers is a legitimately secular purpose, and does not always promote a religious message,” wrote Judge Chasanow.

“Even the purpose of the private citizens who were behind the Monument’s construction 90 years ago was a predominantly secular one … The Monument’s groundbreaking was a predominantly secular affair that also included the groundbreaking of the National Defense Highway.”

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the Liberty Institute, which helped represent the American Legion in their defense of the cross, said in a statement that the AHA “is facing an uphill battle.”

“After a thorough analysis of the facts and the law, the Court was clear that the Memorial is completely lawful,” stated Shackelford.

“We are confident the Fourth Circuit will agree and uphold the constitutionality of this historic veterans memorial.”

December 28, 2015 | By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter | Source: christianpost.com "Atheist Group Appeals Decision Allowing 40-Foot Cross on Public Property"
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Christian persecution increasing worldwide

Facts feature (01b)

A new report from the Catholic group, Aid to the Church in Need, has documented the dramatic decline of Christian communities in a number of countries in recent years. This report, entitled Persecuted and Forgotten? A report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-2015, has found that if current trends continue, Christian survival in parts of Africa and the Middle East is threatened. The well-founded fear of genocide has resulted in an exodus of Christians from those areas of the world where Islamist groups are carrying out “religiously-motivated ethnic cleansing of Christians”. Iraq is predicted to be Christian-free within five years, while Syria has seen a mass-fleeing of its Christian communities. As the Guardian reports, up to 120,000 Christians fled Mosul and Ninevah in Iraq after Islamic State took over these cities in 2014. The principal findings of the report further note that:

“…increasing pressures on the faithful in Saudi Arabia and Iran mean that the Church is being silenced and driven out of its ancient biblical heartland.”

Further afield than the birthplace of Christianity, militant Islamist groups in Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania are threatening the Christian presence in parts of Africa. According to the Guardian, 100,000 had left the Nigerian diocese of Maiduguri by May 2015 due to attacks by Boko Haram. And it is not just Islamist groups that are targeting Christians:

“Christians have been targeted by nationalist religious movements – Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist – many of which increasingly see Christianity as a foreign ‘colonial’ import, worthy of suspicion as a result of its perceived links with the West which is seen as corrupt and exploitative… Totalitarian regimes, including China, have put increasing pressures on Christianity which is perceived as a threat not least because of growing ‘underground’ support.”

Over the past two years the report concludes that the situation facing Christians has worsened in 15 of the 19 countries reviewed. Since its last report, Aid to the Church in Need claims that the number of countries in which Christians suffered “extreme persecution” had risen from six to 10. China, Eritrea, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam were joined by Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Nigeria. The Guardian again:

“[The report] says that Christians are the most persecuted faith group in the world, citing the Frankfurt-based International Society for Human Rights 2012 report, which estimated that 80% of all acts of religious discrimination were against Christians. The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the US estimates that 100,000 Christians die every year, although some question the legitimacy of this figure.”

Whatever the true number of martyrs, the situation in many countries is becoming increasingly intolerable for Christians. The authors of the report lament that the worsening situations raises the danger of Christianity ceasing to be a truly global faith and changing to a regional one with large areas of the globe becoming free of Christians.

If Tertullian was correct that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church then there are an awfully large number of seeds being planted around the world today. 

15 October 2015 | by Marcus Roberts | Source: mercatornet.com "Christian persecution increasing worldwide"
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