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

“One Christian Slaughtered Every Five Minutes”

Facts feature (01a)

“I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.” — Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III.

The White House said it was preparing to accuse the Islamic State of genocide against religious minorities, recognizing various groups, such as the Yazidis, as victims. However, Christians are apparently not going to be included.

An NGO report states that one Christian is slaughtered every five minutes in Iraq, and that, “Islamic State Militants in Iraq are using Christian churches as torture chambers where they force Christians to either convert to Islam or die.”

When Pope Francis stood before the world at the UN, his energy was, once again, spent on defending the environment. In his nearly 50-minute speech, only once did Francis make reference to persecuted Christians — and their sufferings were merged in the same sentence with the supposedly equal sufferings of “members of the majority religion,” that is, Sunni Muslims. Sunnis are not being slaughtered, beheaded, and raped for their faith; are not having their mosques bombed and burned; are not being jailed or killed for apostasy, blasphemy, or proselytization.

“What is happening in Lebanon is an attempt to replace the people with [Muslim] Syrians and Palestinians.” — Gebran Bassil, Foreign Minister of Lebanon.

Throughout September, as more Christians were slaughtered and persecuted for their religion — not just by the Islamic State but by “everyday” Muslims from all around the world — increasing numbers of people and organizations called for action. Meanwhile, those best placed to respond — chief among them U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Francis — did nothing.

“Why, we ask the western world, why not raise one’s voice over so much ferocity and injustice?” asked Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III said: “I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.”

As one report put it:

Human rights activists see it. Foreign leaders see it. And more than 80 members of the U.S. Congress see it. Together, they are pressuring the leader of the free world [President Obama] to declare there is a Christian genocide going on in the Middle East.

In response, the White House said it was preparing to release a statement accusing the Islamic State of committing genocide against religious minorities, naming and recognizing various groups, such as the Yazidis, as victims. However, Christians are apparently not going to be included as victims, as Obama officials argue that Christians “do not appear to meet the high bar set out in the genocide treaty.”

Meanwhile, Father Behnam Benoka, an Iraqi priest, explained in a detailed letter to Pope Francis the horrors Mideast Christians are experiencing. To his joy, the pope called the Middle Eastern priest and told him that “I will never leave you.” As Benoka put it, “He called me. He told me certainly, sure I am with you, I will don’t forget you… I will make all possible to help you.”

However, later in September, when Pope Francis stood before the world at the United Nations, his energy was, once again, spent on defending the environment.

In his entire speech, which lasted nearly 50 minutes, only once did Francis make reference to persecuted Christians — and even then they did not receive special attention but, in the same breath, their sufferings were merged in the same sentence with the supposedly equal sufferings of “members of the majority religion,” that is, Sunni Muslims (the only group not to be attacked by the Islamic State, a Sunni organization):

I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.

Yet, as the following roundup from September shows, “members of the majority religion” –Sunnis — are not being slaughtered, beheaded, and raped for their faith; are not having their mosques bombed and burned; are not being jailed or killed for apostasy, blasphemy, or proselytization.

 
Savagery and Slaughter

• UGANDA:

Three Muslim men beat and raped a 19-year-old Christian woman. The young student was returning home from St. Mary’s Teachers College in Bukedea when she was ambushed by three masked men. “I tried to scream, but one blocked my mouth and another slapped me as they forcefully dragged me off the footpath,” said the victim. “I heard one of them telling the others that I should be killed because my parents deserted Islam. But another said, ‘But we are not sure whether this girl is a Christian.'” Instead of killing her, they raped and beat her so severely that she is still receiving hospital treatment for her injuries.

• UNITED STATES:

Freddy Akoa, a 49-year-old Christian healthcare worker in Portland, Maine, was savagely beaten to death in his own home by three Muslims. Found next to Akoa’s body was his blood-splattered Bible. The slain had cuts and bruises all over his body and a fatal head trauma. Internally, he suffered 22 rib fractures and a lacerated liver. The police affidavit stated that Akoa “had been beaten and kicked in the head, and bashed in the head with a piece of furniture in an assault that continued relentlessly for hours.” Akoa was apparently throwing a party before or during the attack. The three assailants were all Muslim refugees of Somali origin. In recent times, both in America and Europe, several “refugees” have turned out to be Islamic terrorists, some with direct ties to ISIS. (A faction of Al Shabaab, Somalia’s premiere jihadi organization, recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.)

• SYRIA:

A Christian from the Qaryatain village in the province of Homs was executed by the Islamic State for refusing to obey the dhimmi [second-class, “tolerated”] conditions imposed on Christian villagers. ISIS also killed a Christian priest, chopped his body into pieces, and sent the pieces back to his family in a box. Earlier ISIS had kidnapped the priest and demanded a ransom of $120,000 from his family, which finally managed to raise the ransom money after two months. But after paying it, ISIS reneged on their word and brutally killed the Catholic priest anyway.

• PAKISTAN:

The Muslim family of a woman who converted to Christianity and married a Christian murdered her husband and wounded the young woman. Aleem Masih, 28, married Nadia, 23, last year after she put her faith in Christ. The couple then fled their village as the woman’s family sought “to avenge the shame their daughter had brought upon them by recanting Islam and marrying a Christian,” said a lawyer involved in the case.

Eventually Nadia’s father, Muhammad Din Meo, and his henchmen managed to abduct the couple and took them 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.”

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.”

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.”

A large number of Muslims were gathered at the hospital when the critically wounded woman arrived. “The mob, some of them armed with weapons, was shouting furious anti-Christian slogans…. 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.”

• PHILIPPINES:

Islamic terrorists from the jihadi group Abu Sayyaf were suspected in the bombing of a passenger bus in the predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga on September 18 that killed a 14-year-old girl and wounded 33 others. Intelligence sources had warned that Abu Sayyaf would be targeting cities and communities with heavy Christian populations. Only 20% of Zamboanga is Muslim, and the rest almost entirely Christian (mostly Catholic).

• EGYPT:

The mother of a Coptic priest was robbed and killed in Fekria city in Minya.

 
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

• UNITED STATES:

On Sunday, September 13, 40-year-old Rasheed Abdul Aziz was arrested for threatening the Corinth Missionary Baptist Church in Bullard, Texas. The Muslim-American had a gun and was dressed for combat — complete with camouflage helmet, camouflage pants, tactical vest and boots — when he entered the church around 1 p.m. According to Pastor John Johnson, Aziz said that Allah had told him to “slay infidels” and that “people are going to die today.” The pastor added, “I believe that his intent was when he came to our church was to actually kill somebody.”

• TANZANIA:

During the course of one week, six Christian churches were burned down. On September 23, three churches were set ablaze: The Living Waters International Church, Buyekera Pentecostal Assemblies of God, and Evangelical Assemblies of God Tanzania Church. Three days later, on September 26, another three churches were also set ablaze: The Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kitundu Roman Catholic Church, and Katoro Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church. According to a local source, “The people woke up on 27th Sep to find their sanctuaries burnt down… The scenarios are the same; unknown people broke in, piled things onto the altar, poured petrol over it and set it alight. They fled before anyone could respond and so remain unknown.” The east African nation is mostly comprised of Christians and Muslims, though the ratio is disputed.

• BETHLEHEM:

Muslims set fire to the St. Charbel Monastery. Sobhy Makhoul, the chancellor of the Maronite Patriarchate in Jerusalem, said, “It was an act of arson, not a fire caused by an electrical problem [as local authorities had claimed], an act of sectarian vandalism by radical Muslims.” The fire caused no casualties or injuries — fortunately the building was unoccupied and under renovation — but the damage is evident, and the local Christian community evidently feared further violence. The Maronite leader added that, “The attack is… anti-Christian, like many other incidents across the Middle East. Extremist groups operate in the area, including some Hamas cells.”

• IRAQ:

A report that discusses how one Christian is slaughtered every five minutes in Iraq, adds that, “Islamic State Militants in Iraq are using Christian churches as torture chambers where they force Christians to either convert to Islam or die.”

• SYRIA:

Within days of capturing the city of Qaryatain, the Islamic State destroyed an ancient Catholic monastery and threw away the remains of a revered saint. The Sunni terror group then gave an ultimatum to the Christians in Qaryatain to either pay jizya (extortion money), convert to Islam, or leave.

Islamic State jihadists in the midst of destroying the ancient Mar Elian monastery in Qaryatain, Syria.

• YEMEN:

A day after a Catholic church in Aden was vandalized, another group of unidentified assailants set the Christian building “in flames,” in the words of a witness. Of the 22 churches that operated in Aden before 1967, when the city was a British colony, only a few remain open, used rarely by foreign workers and African refugees. The now-torched St. Joseph Church was one of those few.

• INDONESIA:

On Sunday, September 27, the GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor held its 100th open-air service since 2008, when local Muslims had begun complaining that the church existed. Even though the church was fully registered, the authorities obligingly closed it. In December 2010, the Indonesian Supreme Court ordered the church to be reopened, but the mayor of Bogor refused to comply and kept it sealed off. Since then, the congregation has been holding Sunday services at the homes of members, and occasionally on the street, to the usual jeers and attacks by Muslim mobs.

 
Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom

(Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Proselytization)

• UGANDA:

A 36-year-old mother of eight requested prayer after area Muslims forced her to return to Islam, or lose her children and be killed. Although Madina remained Christian after her husband abandoned her a decade ago for her apostasy from Islam, she returned to Islam in September: “The relatives of my husband threatened to kill me and take away the children if I refused to go back to Islam. They said, ‘We are not going to lose our children to Christianity. We better kill you and get back the children.’… I have nowhere to go with my children, so I have decided to return to Islam to save the children and myself. I know Issa [Jesus] will remember me one day.”

• UNITED KINGDOM:

A Pakistani man, his wife, and their six children are suffering “an appalling ordeal at the hands of neighbours who regard them as blasphemers.” Their “crime” is converting to Christianity— more than 20 years ago. Despite being “prisoners in their own home after being attacked in the street, having their car windscreens repeatedly smashed and eggs thrown at their windows” the Christian family said that both police and the Anglican church have failed to provide any meaningful support and are “reluctant to treat the problem as a religious hate crime.” Nissar Hussain, the father, said, “Our lives have been sabotaged and this shouldn’t happen in the United Kingdom. We live in a free democratic society and what they are doing to us is abhorrent.”

• TURKEY:

Since August 27, as many as 15 churches received death threats for “denying Allah.” Even so, “Threats are not anything new for the Protestant community who live in this country and want to raise their children here,” said church leaders. As former Muslims, many of the congregation, apostates from Islam, were threatened with beheading. The messages accuse the Christians of having “chosen the path that denies Allah” and “dragged others into believing as you do… As heretics you have increased your number with ignorant followers.” One of the messages depicted the Islamic State flag along with the words: “Perverted infidels, the time that we will strike your necks is soon. May Allah receive the glory and the praise.”

• PAKISTAN:

Police arrested a Christian brick kiln worker, Pervaiz Masih, in the Kasur District of Punjab province, after a Muslim business rival falsely accused him of insulting the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Pervaiz, a father of four, including a seven-month-old boy, fled his home after Muhammad Kahlid filed a report, which said that he had made derogatory remarks about Muhammad during a dispute. Police detained four of Pervaiz’s relatives; then officers dragged his wife into the streets and ripped off her clothing as they tried to get information about her husband’s whereabouts. Police also beat local Christians and raided Christian homes for information in Pervaiz’s town. Pervaiz eventually handed himself over to police in order that his relatives be released.

• ETHIOPIA:

A group of 15 young Christians were attacked and arrested for engaging in evangelism in eastern Ethiopia. Separately, six Christian leaders were found guilty of inciting public disturbance, destroying public trust in government officials, and spreading hatred. The six men, members of a church administrative committee, had written a letter to their national church leadership on March 11 describing the persecution they endured as Christians living in the Muslim-majority Silte zone. They complained of discrimination in employment opportunities, unfair dismissal from jobs, harsh job performance feedback, burned church buildings, physical attacks and death threats. The letter was leaked to local media and widely disseminated, prompting their arrest and conviction.

 
DHIMMITUDE

• GERMANY:

According to a report, “Many Christian refugees from Syria, Iraq or Kurdistan are being intimidated and attacked by Muslim refugees. In several refugee centers set up by the local authorities, Sharia law is being imposed and Christians — which are a minority — are the victims of bullying.” Gottfried Martens, pastor of a south Berlin church, said that “very religious Muslims are spreading the following idea throughout the refugee centers: Sharia law rules wherever we are.” Martens expressed especial concern for Muslims who convert to Christianity — apostates who, according to Islamic law, can be killed: “There is a 100% chance that these people will be attacked.”

• LEBANON:

Christians are being overrun by Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq, and are in danger of losing their place in their country, said Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil: “What is happening in Lebanon is an attempt to replace the people with [Muslim] Syrians and Palestinians.” Because Lebanon’s Christian population is, and has historically been, a minority, Bassil said their rights are being threatened because “some are attempting to impose Muslims over Christians” (a situation also occurring in the U.S.) In an earlier interview, Bassil said that the Mideast Christian community as a whole has been eroded “in large chunks”: “In Iraq, it happened over 20 years, and we saw that 90 percent of the Christians have left Iraq. In Syria, we don’t have actual numbers because of the chaos. We cannot tell. We know that there has been a lot of internal and external immigration and displacement…. But definitely churches have been destroyed and people have left already.”

• UNITED KINGDOM:

An Iranian, Noureden Mallaky-Soodmand, 41, was supposed to have been deported to Iran after he was arrested for hurling threats and brandishing knives on the streets of London. However, he was not deported, apparently because the Iranian Embassy was closed. He was, instead, re-housed 250 miles away in Stockton-on-Tees. Earlier, on April 2, holding a curved knife, he had run amok, screaming: “I’m a Muslim and I’ll chop your f***ing head, mother f***ers…. I’m Isis and my people will cut off your balls, Christians…. I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you all. I’m going to chop your head off and f*** you up.”

• EGYPTIAN DHIMMITUDE:

Muslim attacks on Christians erupted in two separate villages in Samalout, north of the Minya governorate. One attack apparently took place in “revenge” for the construction of a small church. In one village, five Copts were injured; In another village, Muslims packed into a number of cars attacked a Christian wedding ceremony. Three Copts were injured; throughout the area, young Christian girls were sexually harassed.

Separately, a group of Muslims in the village of al-Oula, near Alexandria, attacked Christian homes and a church on September 20, after police attempted to return land stolen by a Muslim to its rightful Christian owner. When the police arrived to implement the order, they were attacked and fled. “After the security forces fled,” said a church leader, “a large crowd surrounded [the] church and hurled stones at it. Then they attacked four homes owned by Christians.” At least two Christians were seriously injured, one had his spine fractured. “The El Houty family [Muslim family that stole Christian land] used microphones in the local mosque and in nearby villages to call out for the Muslims from everywhere around the village saying that the police have come to take the lands and give it to the Christians.”

A Coptic Christian female student, Mariam, who was discriminated against, made headlines in major Egyptian media and created a scandal. Known as “Student Zero,” she was described by former teachers as a “brilliant student,” planning on becoming a doctor. She had scored 97% in her first two years and was expecting similar results in her final year — only to find that she had failed: her final grade was zero. She insisted on seeing the results for herself but was denied. When the issue made headlines, the results were shown to her. She and others — including handwriting experts — said that the handwriting on the test shown to her was not hers.

• PAKISTANI DHIMMITUDE:

A Christian family was almost burned alive during a “land grab” attempt of their home by Muslims. Because Boota Masih, 38, and his wife and family refused to abandon their home and property to some Muslims, they were violently beaten. The Muslims next sprayed petrol over the house to set fire to it, and locked Boota and his family in a room. The Masihs managed to escape by breaking through a window. Despite the presence of eyewitnesses, the local police were reluctant to register a formal complaint, and instead, according to the lawyers, arrested Masih on spurious charges.

Most degrading jobs continue to be reserved for Christians and other minorities. The latest example comes from the announcement of vacancies from the Punjab Institute of Cardiology Lahore. In the list, all jobs are open to all applicants — except for “sanitary worker” positions, such as toilet cleaners: only non-Muslim applicants are eligible. According to labor lawyers, “this is a form of direct oppression, racism and bigotry against the nation’s religious minorities,” primarily Christians, Hindus, and non-Sunni Muslims.

About this Series

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

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

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

December 14, 2015 | by Raymond Ibrahim | Source: gatestoneinstitute.org "One Christian Slaughtered Every Five Minutes"

The Indonesian Jihad on Christian Churches

We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!” – Islamic leaders, Aceh region.

• In other parts of Indonesia, where Islamic law, or Sharia, is not enforced, churches, even fully registered ones, are also under attack

• On Dec. 25, 2012, with all required paperwork in place, when the congregation assembled on empty land to celebrate Christmas, hundreds of Muslims threw rocks, rotten eggs, and bags filled with excrement at the Christians. Police stood by and watched.

• For Indonesia, the country once hailed as the face of “moderate Islam,” the “extremist” behavior one would expect of ISIS has apparently become the norm.

In compliance with Islamic demands, Indonesian authorities in the Aceh region have started to tear down Christian churches. Their move comes after Muslim mobs rampaged and attacked churches. At least one person was killed; thousands of Christians were displaced.

On Friday, October 9, after being fired up during mosque sermons, hundreds of Muslims marched to the local authority’s office and demanded that all unregistered churches in Aceh be closed. Imams issued text messages spurring Muslims from other areas to rise up against churches and call for their demolition.

On Monday, October 12, authorities facilitated a meeting with Islamic leaders and agreed to demolish 10 unregistered churches over the course of two weeks.

Apparently this was not fast enough to meet Muslim demands for immediate action. On the following day, a mob of approximately 700 Muslims, some armed with axes and machetes, torched a local church, even though it was not on the list of churches agreed upon for demolition.

The remains of a church in the Aceh region of Indonesia, still on fire, after hundreds of Muslims attacked it on October 13, 2015. (Image source: CCTV video screenshot)

The Muslim mob then moved on to a second church, an act that led to violent clashes. One person, believed to be a Christian, died after being shot in the head. Several were injured, as Christians tried to defend their church against the armed mob.

Approximately 8,000 Christians were displaced; many fled to bordering provinces. Their fears were justified: Islamic leaders continued issuing messages and text messages saying, “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”

Instead of punishing those who incited violence and took the law into their own hands by torching and attacking churches, local authorities demolished three churches (a Catholic mission station and two Protestant churches) on October 19. In the coming days, seven more churches are set to be demolished; in the coming months and years, dozens more.

Authorities had originally requested of church leaders to demolish their own churches. “How can we do that?” asked Paima Berutu, one of the church leaders: “It is impossible [for us to take it down] … Some of us watched [the demolition] from afar, man and women. It was painful.”

The situation in Aceh remains tense:

“Every church member is guarding his own church right now,”
said another pastor

As for the displaced Christians, many remain destitute, waiting for “desperately needed clean water, food, clothes, baby food, blankets, and medicines.” As Muslim militants were reportedly guarding the border with an order to kill any Christians crossing the line, reaching the Christians is difficult.

Many Muslims and some media try to justify this destruction by pointing out that the churches were in the wrong for not being registered.

In reality, however, thanks to Indonesia’s 2006 Joint Decree on Houses of Worship, it is effectively impossible to obtain a church permit.

The decree made it illegal for churches to acquire permits unless they can get “signatures from 60 local households of a different faith,” presumably Muslims, as well as “a written recommendation from the regency or municipal religious affairs office” — that is, from the local sheikh and council of Muslim elders: the same people most likely to incite Muslims against Christians and churches during mosque gatherings.

Christian activists say there are many mosques that are unregistered and built without permits, but the authorities ignore those infractions.

Others try to justify these recent attacks on churches by pointing out that they took place in Aceh, the only region in Indonesia where Islamic law, or Sharia, is officially authorized, and where, since 2006, more than 1,000 churches have been shut.

Yet in other parts of Indonesia, where Islamic law is not enforced, even fully registered churches are under attack.

These include the Philadelphia Protestant Church in Bekasi — nearly 1,500 miles south of Sharia-compliant Aceh.

Even though it had the necessary paperwork, it too was illegally shut down in response to violent Muslim protests.

On December 25, 2012, when the congregation assembled on empty land to celebrate Christmas, hundreds of Muslims, including women and children, threw rotten eggs, rocks, and plastic bags filled with urine and feces at the Christians.

 POLICE STOOD BY AND WATCHED. 

A church spokesman stated,

We are constantly having to change our location because our existence appears to be unwanted, and we have to hide so that we are not intimidated by intolerant groups. … We had hoped for help from the police, but after many attacks on members of the congregation [including when they privately meet for worship at each other’s homes], we see that the police are also involved in this.

Bogor is another area where Islamic law is supposedly not enforced.

Yet the ongoing saga of the GKI Yasmin Church there illustrates how Islamic law takes precedence over Indonesian law.

In 2008, when local Muslims began complaining about the existence of the church, even though it was fully registered, the authorities obligingly closed it. In December 2010, the Indonesian Supreme Court ordered the church to be reopened, but the mayor of Bogor, refusing to comply, kept it sealed off.

Since then, the congregation has been holding Sunday services at the homes of members, and occasionally on the street, to the usual jeers and attacks by Muslim mobs. On Sunday, September 27, the church held its 100th open-air service.

JIHAD

The Indonesian jihad is taking place in varying degrees all throughout the East Asian nation and is not limited to Sharia-compliant zones such as Aceh.

For the country once hailed as the face of “moderate Islam,” the “extremist” behavior one would expect of the Islamic State (ISIS)

hating, attacking, and demolishing churches — has apparently become the norm
November 11, 2015 | by Raymond Ibrahim | Source:  gatestoneinstitute.org "The Indonesian Jihad on Christian Churches"

Nearing 100 Sunday Services Outside Indonesia’s Presidential Palace

International Christian Concern (ICC) (01) feature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Locked out of their churches, two congregations protest government delays

GKI-HKBP-01Two Christian churches in Jakarta, Indonesia, are protesting the wrongful closing of their church buildings by holding joint services outside the gates of the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia. The two congregations, Gereja Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Yasmin Bogor and Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) Philadelphia Bekasi, have been gathering there every other Sunday for nearly two years, hoping that Indonesian government officials would enforce the ruling on their case made in their favor by the Indonesian Supreme Court in December 2010 and June 2011, respectively.

The conflict began in February 2008, when GKI Yasmin Bogor was shut down because the Bogor City Planning Office claimed the church lacked proper building permits. Upon further investigation, however, International Christian Concern (ICC) discovered that the permits were only brought into question after Muslims objected to the construction of the church. Even after the Indonesian Supreme Court ruled in favor of GKI, Diani Budiarto, Bogor mayor at the time, withdrew his required approval for the building, a response that the Indonesia Ombudsman’s Office deemed “malpractice.”

HKBP was sealed by the government in January 2010 after an official claimed the church had forged the signatures of the Muslim neighbors who signed the petition agreeing to the establishment of the church. According to Indonesian law, a house of worship must have the approval of 60 members of other faiths before construction may begin. Despite a favorable ruling by the court, HKBP is still unable to reopen its doors.

According to Article 29(2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, “The state guarantees each and every citizen the freedom of religion and of worship in accordance with his religion and belief.” Additionally, the government officially recognizes Protestantism, the particular faith practiced by both GKI and HKBP. Despite these Constitutional guarantees and Supreme Court victories, true freedom of religion does not exist for Christians in Indonesia. The promised return to traditional Indonesian religious tolerance is still seriously stagnant, even after almost nine months into the new administration of President Joko Wikodo, according to SETARA Institute Research Director Ismail Hasani.

The Sunday gatherings continue in peaceful protest, featuring hundreds of believers who gather to sing songs and hear teachings from Scripture. Members of the churches say they will continue to meet there on alternate Sundays for these services. So far, they have met nearly 100 times, and it can, of course, be discouraging. GKI Yasmin’s media coordinator said, “Sometimes we feel tired and…abandoned, not only by the government but also by Christians…. We seem [to be] fighting this battle alone. We really need other brothers and sisters to stand with us. However, if we have to stand alone, we will fight to the end.”

“I certainly hope that the worldwide Christian Church can step up to show support for its brothers and sisters persecuted in Indonesia,” says Chris Warner, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia. “We are all one body and when one part of the body is hurting, we all hurt. We urge President Wikodo, and the entire government of Indonesia, to honor its constitutional commitments and the decisions of its Supreme Court to reopen the doors of these Christian houses of worship without further delay.”


For interviews, contact Christopher Warner, Regional Manager for Southeast Asia: RM-SEAsia@persecution.org

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference International Christian Concern (ICC) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.

Bali Nine: Indonesia says executions of Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran were ‘perfect’

Bali-Nine

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“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

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“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

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“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

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Execution site ... the crosses that the death row prisoners were strapped to can be clearly seen in the images. Picture: Detik.com Source: Supplied

Execution site … the crosses that the death row prisoners were strapped to can be clearly seen in the images. Picture: Detik.com Source: Supplied

FIRST photos have emerged of the killing fields where Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukamaran and the other death row prisoners were executed by firing squad in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The images, taken during daylight hours on Tuesday, show preparations for that night’s execution taking place.

The crosses that the men were tied to with cables can be seen four metres apart from one another on a slight rise, slightly beyond a tarpaulin structure.

Mary Jane Veloso’s execution cross was there, in the middle of the wooden crosses lined up.

It is not know whether the firing squads stood underneath the structure during the execution.

Local Catholic priest Charlie Burrows has described how the men were strapped with their arms outstretched on what were effectively crucifixes.

They were singing on the crosses and we were in a tent not too far away from the execution place trying to support them, Father Burrows told News Corp. The Australians seemed to be more or less leading the singing. He said they sang Amazing Grace and other hymns.

The Australians met most of their fellow victims for the first time just before the executions. Father Burrows said all the men hugged and said goodbye to each other.

AFP directive debated in blame game

As the pictures of the killing fields emerge, yesterday’s simmering row about the role of the AFP in the Bali Nine affair has erupted into a full blown controversy.

The federal government insists police are still taking the death penalty into account before they tip off foreign agencies about suspected Australian drug smugglers.

Despite removing reference to the death penalty in his 2014 ministerial directive for the Australian Federal Police, Justice Minister Michael Keenan says strict guidelines that govern the agency’s decisions on such matters remain in place.

The guidelines state the AFP must consider whether sharing information could put an Australian at risk of facing execution. Mr Keenan said the coalition is using the same guidelines introduced by the Rudd Labor government in 2009 following a review.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the ministerial directives did not dictate the operations of the AFP.

She accused Labor of playing cheap politics over the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, a day after the drug smugglers were put to death in Indonesia.

“Shame on them,” Ms Bishop told reporters in Sydney.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the government must explain why the death penalty was removed from the ministerial directive and not absolve itself of responsibility.

Australians expected reassurance there was sufficient oversight of the AFP, he said.

“What we do want to make sure is that what happened in the early hours of yesterday morning can’t happen again,” he said.

Myuran’s last birthday

Smiling … Sukumaran (left) receives gifts to mark his 34th birthday on April 17. Picture: Indonesia’s TV one Source: Supplied

The release of the killing fields photos came just after photos emerged of Myuran Sukumaran celebrating his 34th birthday on April 17.

They are the last known photos of the Bali Nine ringleader.

The photographs were taken on Indonesia’s execution island and feature a smiling Sukumaran receiving cakes and a banner from fellow prisoners Andrew Chan and Okwuduli Oyatanze.

Twelve days later, the Bali Nine duo and six others would be killed by Indonesia’s firing squad.

Most of Sukumaran’s family was absent from the makeshift party on Nusakambangan Island. They only raced to Indonesia from Australia last weekend after authorities gave formal notice that the executions were imminent.

His brother, Chinthu, had delivered the black forest cakes into Besi Prison two days earlier.

A photographer was provided by the Attorney-General’s office to document the pair’s final weeks in isolation, capturing precious memories of milestones such as Sukumaran’s birthday party and Chan’s wedding.

Final birthday … Sukumaran’s 34th birthday would be his last. Picture: Indonesia’s TV one Source: Supplied

The pictures were broadcast to the public on Indonesian television on the eve of yesterday’s executions.

The Chan and Sukumaran families were banned from taking their own photographs of the men on Nusakambangan and have asked for copies of the state-sanctioned pictures.

Heartbreaking … A much younger Myuran Sukumaran celebrates his birthday with loved ones. Picture supplied by Raji Sukumaran. Source: News Limited

How the bodies will travel home

Final preparations are being made in Jakarta to transport the Chan’s and Sukumaran’s bodies home.

Photos show funeral parlour workers measuring and building huge wooden boxes that will contain the bodies when they are repatriated tonight.

Final preparations … The men’s bodies are in Jakarta awaiting repatriation after 10 years off Australian shores. Source: Supplied

The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran have now reached Jakarta. Their families trailed behind in a bus. The bodies will remain in a Jakarta funeral home before being flown back to Sydney.

Journey home … A funeral parlour in Jakarta, Indonesia, sizes up the boxes that will be used to transport Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan’s bodies home. Picture: Supplied. Source: Supplied

Tied to crosses for ‘perfect’ executions

Earlier, Indonesia declared the executions of Chan, Sukumaran and six others to be “perfect” and a “success”, as revulsion for the brutal midnight slaughter crossed the globe.

Indonesian Attorney-General HM Prasetyo appeared satisfied with the result.

Chilling … Father Charlie Burrows says Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed with their arms outstretched on what were effectively crucifixes. Picture: Adam Taylor Source: News Corp Australia

“The executions have been successfully implemented, perfectly,” said Mr Prasetyo, who in a previous role had personal oversight of his country’s execution program.

“All worked, no misses,” he said of the executions of Mr Chan, Mr Sukumaran, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man.

Chan and Sukumaran courageously declined the offer of hoods and watched the firing squads take aim and fire. Medical teams declared all the men dead three minutes after they were shot.

Father Burrows, who has lived in Cilacap near the prison island of Nusakambangan for 40 years, spent hours with Brazilian schizophrenic Rodrigo Gularte up until he was shot with the others.

Before being taken to the execution ground, the men each spent 90 minutes alone with their chosen religious adviser in their isolation cells at Besi Prison on Nusakambangan.

COMING HOME: Families begin long journey home

The first to be collected from the cell block was Myuran Sukumaran. Andrew Chan followed him, then the other six.

Father Burrows said that as the men farewelled the guards, some of them were in tears themselves. They had grown to love the two Australians in the short time they had been locked up in Besi Prison.

Show of force … Indonesia’s Attorney-General says his nation’s very survival is under threat from the scourge of drugs. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro. Source: Supplied

The men’s hands were cuffed behind their backs and they were shackled. Each man was then half-lifted and helped into the back seat of an SUV type van, sitting in the middle of the back seat with a Brimob police officer on each sides.

The six cars drove in a convoy to the shooting field, while the six religious advisers followed behind in another vehicle.

Father Burrows said that when the advisers arrived at the execution site the men were already wearing white tunics, a black marker over their hearts to guide the marksmen. They had been strapped to wooden poles.

Father Burrows said their arms were outstretched and secured to the poles with what appeared to be white cable ties. Their legs were tied at the bottom.

The religious advisers were then allowed to spend three minutes with the men. Charlie Burrows said each adviser stood in front of the person they were assisting, speaking and praying.

After three minutes the advisers were lead to a tent about 30 metres away.

Tied to the crosses, led by Chan and Sukumaran, they started singing hymns. They were joined by their spiritual advisers. “We could hear them singing and they could hear us singing,” Father Burrows said.
APRIL 30, 2015 | Original Source: news.com.au "Bali Nine: Indonesia says executions of Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran were ‘perfect’"

2 dead and $600 million Aid going to their killers. Makes sense NOT!

Profile: Tony Abbott

4cm says.

600 million Aid to Indonesia and Mr Abbott you want to make pensioners pay for doctors visits, reduce benifts paid  and force retirement to 75.

We are not short of money its just being wasted on things outside our domestic borders. Take a referendum on the aid budget Im sure the will of the nation will speak a decisive no, to places like Indonesia.

Our tax dollars shouldnt be used to buy open door’s to allow commerce to profit a (micro section of Australia),  by which provides doors of tax evasion in Australia and assets and profits never staying in Australia.  Let business fund its own activities! cut the umbilical cord to the peoples taxes which business feeds off.

The Commerce and the banking  world have been feeding of the breast of the nations taxes far too long.


Papers report News today : Chan and Sukumaran dead.

Mr Abbott described the executions as “cruel and unnecessary”.

“We deplore what’s been done and this cannot be simply business as usual,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott said Australia’s reaction could not be “simply business as usual”.

“For that reason … our ambassador will be withdrawn for consultations.”

In a joint statement, Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop offered their thoughts to the Chan and Sukumaran families, and expressed regrets toward Indonesia.
“The Government had hoped that Indonesia would show mercy to these young men, who have worked hard since their arrests to rehabilitate themselves and improve the lives of other prisoners,” they said.

“Australia respects Indonesia’s sovereignty, but deeply regrets that Indonesia could not extend the mercy it so often seeks for its own citizens.”

‘We will withdraw our ambassador’ … Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and PM Tony Abbott hold a press conference in Canberra.

The government hasn’t ruled out cutting Australian aid to Indonesia in protest over the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Australia gives Indonesia about $600 million in aid annually, and is its second largest international benefactor behind Japan. Asked if Australia would respond to the executions by reducing the aid budget, Ms Bishop said it was under different consideration to diplomatic actions such as recalling the ambassador.

“Any announcement to the aid budget will be made at budget time in early May,” she told reporters in Canberra.

Any cut to Indonesian aid is likely to have strong political support in Australia.

At the Indonesian consulate in Sydney, a single bunch of flowers has been tied to the fence with a stinging note addressed to Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution,” the card read, quoting Nelson Mandela.

Sharia Showdown

Indonesia: Women Public Canning Sharia Law feature

Dateline gets a rare glimpse into life under sharia law in Indonesia – on patrol with police in Aceh as they hand out harsh punishments to anyone breaking Islamic law.

By Patrick Abboud
Airdate: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – 21:30
Channel: SBS

The police chief of the Indonesian province of Langsa in Aceh wants to see people beaten and even killed… not by criminals, but by his officers enforcing sharia law.

Patrick Abboud gets unprecedented access to follow Captain Ibrahim Latif and his notorious sharia police as they go out on patrol.

A policewoman from Aceh tells Patrick, “Women who wear tight clothes are inviting bad things to happen to them, such as rape. Actually, crime happens because we invite it.”

Women are caned in public for breaking Islamic dress code and men for gambling or drinking alcohol – and punishments are set to get even worse if Captain Latif has it his way.

He tells Patrick, “The usual punishment for adultery is that they are buried in the ground on the road. The man is buried up to his waist at a crossroads and whoever passes by has to throw a stone at him until he dies. A married woman would be buried to the neck and be stoned until she dies.”

Although the majority of Acehenese are devout Muslims, it’s the heavy handed and unforgiving enforcement of Captain Latif that’s the issue here.

Human rights groups are pressuring the Indonesian Government to step in, but there’s such fear that even Patrick has to hurriedly leave Aceh after coming under scrutiny for questioning the law.

See his fascinating insight above, plus read our SBS explainer with more information about sharia law.

Blog

Earlier this year international outrage was sparked after a horrific story of gang rape in the town of Langsa in the Indonesian province of Aceh emerged.

A group of men raided a woman’s home and found a 25-year-old woman with a married man.

Accusing them of adultery, the vigilantes, one of whom was a 13-year-old boy, gang-raped the woman, dousing her and the man with sewage before marching them to the sharia police.

Despite what happened and the trauma of gang-rape, the sharia police in Langsa insisted the woman would be caned for alleged adultery.

That story never left my mind.

Securing access to meet sharia police chief, Ibrahim Latif, I found myself in Langsa soon after.

For the first time, Captain Latif allowed cameras to follow him and his sharia squad out on patrol.

“I have a responsibility to God. It’s my job to encourage good and prevent wrong,” he explains to me.

Sharia Police officers stop women at one of their checkpoints to ensure they're complying with the Islamic dress code.

Upon arrival into the town of Langsa, I witnessed a routine street raid. A checkpoint was set up and within minutes dozens of women were being pulled over.

The female sharia officers interrogated the women about their clothing.

The most senior wanted to make certain I was clear that it is women’s responsibility to prevent what she described as ‘crime’.

“Women who wear tight clothes are inviting bad things to happen to them, such as rape,” she told me. “If a man doesn’t see anything he won’t feel lust. Women invite it. Their curves arouse men’s lust.”

In addition to strict Islamic dress regulations and harsh penalties for adultery, living with sharia law in Aceh – whether Muslim or not – also demands no alcohol, no gambling and no homosexuality.

Caning is now a common punishment in Aceh, with up to 100 lashes for the most extreme cases.

If you dare disobey Captian Latif’s version of the sharia code, the penalties are severe.

Caning is common – in extreme cases those considered guilty could recieve up to 100 lashes. Some crimes come with a prison term of more than three years. Others escape physical harm and instead pay a fine of up to 800 grams of gold.

New laws passed just weeks ago already provide harsher penalties. But punishments are set to get even worse under Captain Latif’s rule.

He’s pushing for more religious by-laws with deadly consequences.

“If it’s proven that someone is a thief, they could have a hand cut off. If someone commits murder, they will be killed… an eye for an eye,” he tells me.

Captain Ibrahim Latif is in charge of Aceh's Sharia Police and wants to see even harsher punishments.

While shooting and reporting this story for Dateline, I expected to hear extreme views from a violent man but I did not expect to get caught up in his wrath myself.

After being given unprecedented access to go on patrol with his morality squad for the afternoon, I assumed we were on good terms.

From the outset I was under the impression that the rapport myself and my fixer/translator had worked to build with him was paying off.

He allowed us to enter his home where I interviewed him. He took us inside police headquarters.

But after being in Langsa for less than 24 hours and capturing rare glimpses of some of what I’ve described here, there were reports Captain Latif and his followers suddenly turned on us.

We were in an unpredictable situation.

Instead of accompanying his sharia police team on a late night raid as planned, we found ourselves reluctantly fleeing. We were advised word had spread that we were here to ‘shame’ Islam.

Warned by a tip-off that it was too dangerous to stay, we had no choice but to leave Aceh immediately.

The next morning, the local paper headline read: ‘Australian Journalists Monitoring Sharia Law’.

Patrick was featured in a local paper with the headline 'Australian Journalists Monitoring Sharia Law’.

Although devout Muslims, many people in Aceh, particularly women, say the issue here is the heavy handed enforcement.

Human Rights Watch says Islamic laws enacted in the province violate basic rights. They’re urging the Indonesian government to revoke the implementation of sharia in Aceh.

People like Ibrahim should be investigated. There are many men like him all over Indonesia,” Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch tells me.

“This is not an isolated case. They are abusing their power and this is very dangerous.”

28 OCTOBER 2014 By Patrick Abboud  http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/sharia-showdown

 

Inside Sharia law: SBS reporter Patrick Abboud reveals life under the morality police in Aceh

Behind her, a masked man holding a long cane prepares to whip her several times.

PUBLIC CANING INDONESIA

Her punishment was selling food during Ramadan.

This is how punishment is carried out in Aceh, Indonesia, the only province in the South-East Asian country to practice Sharia law.

Behind her, a masked man holding a long cane prepares to whip her several times.

Her punishment was selling food during Ramadan.

This is how punishment is carried out in Aceh, Indonesia, the only province in the South-East Asian country to practice Sharia law.

Behind her, a masked man holding a long cane prepares to whip her several times.

Her punishment was selling food during Ramadan.

This is how punishment is carried out in Aceh, Indonesia, the only province in the South-East Asian country to practice Sharia law.

Behind her, a masked man holding a long cane prepares to whip her several times.

Her punishment was selling food during Ramadan.

This is how punishment is carried out in Aceh, Indonesia, the only province in the South-East Asian country to practice Sharia law.

Behind her, a masked man holding a long cane prepares to whip her several times.

Her punishment was selling food during Ramadan.

This is how punishment is carried out in Aceh, Indonesia, the only province in the South-East Asian country to practice Sharia law.

“The usual punishment for adultery or sex between a man and a woman who are both married is that they are buried in the ground on the road,” Captain Latif told Abboud in a one-on-one interview.

“The man is buried up to his waist at a cross roads and whoever passes by has to throw a stone at him until he dies.

“A married woman would be buried to the neck and be stoned until she dies”

inside sharia law sbs reporter patrick abboud reveals life under the morality police in aceh

OCT 31, 2014 | By Patrick Abboud | http://mobile.news.com.au/world/asia/inside-sharia-law-sbs-reporter-patrick-abboud-reveals-life-under-the-morality-police-in-aceh/story-fnh81fz8-1227104751492

Indonesia Has An ISIS Problem

About Islam Religion feature
Motorists ride past a graffiti of the Islamic State group's flag in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia.

Motorists ride past a graffiti of the Islamic State group’s flag in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia.

CIANJUR, Indonesia (AP) —

A businessman who proclaims himself leader of the Indonesian chapter of the Islamic State group says he has personally overseen the departure of scores of fighters from this Southeast Asian nation to Syria and Iraq. Police detained him for a night recently, but were unable to charge him with a crime.

Chep Hernawan reflects both the success IS has had in attracting support in the region, and the challenges Indonesia faces in responding.

The government, home to most of the up to 200 Southeast Asians believed to be fighting in Syria and Iraq, has forcefully spoken out against the Islamic State, as have mainstream Muslim organizations in the country. But Indonesia is limited in what it can do to stop suspected militants from traveling abroad.

The country lacks the sort of laws that neighboring Malaysia and Singapore have, allowing for detention without trial or criminal charges under limited, legally defined circumstances. It also does not ban speech that could incite hatred and intolerance.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said his force could only monitor IS supporters.

“If they have no record of terrorism activities then they can’t be charged under our criminal law,” he said.

Any changes will be a challenge given the fractious nature of the new Parliament and other legislative priorities, according to a recent report into the evolution of the Islamic State group by the Institute of Policy Analysis for Conflict.

For the first time since the 1990s and the Afghan jihad, Indonesians, Malaysians and other extremists in Southeast Asia are traveling abroad in an organized fashion to join a global militant movement, picking up battlefield skills and militant contacts.

Security officials fear they could take part in terrorism on their return to Southeast Asia, as those trained in Afghanistan did in attacks such as the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people. Radicals at home also could heed the Islamic State group’s exhortations to carry out revenge attacks on Western targets.

Motorists ride past a graffiti of the Islamic State group’s flag in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia.

Read more:  businessinsider.com

Australia's Back Door: ISIS Presence in Indonesia

About Islam Religion feature

ISIS Presence in Indonesia Raises Concern

Extremists open branches across the country in support of the terror group rampaging through the Middle East
Jakarta. The establishment of representatives of the Iraqi militancy group, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in Indonesia has raised concern, with analysts saying that the sympathetic support could turn into extremism — or worse, acts of terror.
Jihadist group ISIS has continuously advanced toward Baghdad in an effort to re-establish an ancient caliphate based on Islamic law, or Shariah, in Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean. The movement has claimed more than a thousand lives in Iraq and Syria.
More than 30 Indonesians have joined the jihadist movement fighting across the Middle East, and some of them have returned home to establish ISIS branches in Jakarta and West Nusa Tenggara. Full Story Here