If you are reading this then you are serious about praying for the persecuted church. Around the world today in scores of countries Christians face discrimination, persecution and intimidation for their faith. It takes real courage for these men, women, boys and girls to stay committed to Jesus in light of the conditions that they find themselves. They need to know that they are not alone nor forgotten by the Christian community. Through prayer our voices mingle with theirs in seeking God’s protection and guidance for their survival in these persecuting countries.
Many years ago a number of friends and myself began the Nine-o’clock Club to remember to take time each day to pray. We would stop whatever we were doing for a few minutes to seek God’s guidance and wisdom through prayer. It is time, I believe, to reinstate the concept of corporate intercessory prayer on behalf of the persecuted Christians who live as virtual outcasts in their own countries. I would encourage you to join with us in lifting up your voice in prayer each evening at nine-o’clock with us to remember those Christians who are displaced from their homes, are locked up in prisons, face beatings and enslavement for their faith.
Through this page, Ruth and I will try to keep you updated on what is happening to the church in more than 50 countries where it is not safe to be a follower of Jesus. We will post articles, video and news items that help us have a better understanding of what our fellow believers face. The rest is up to us. Please let others know about the Nine-o’clock Club so they can pray along with us no matter where they are located.
Clearly God is at work in Mongolia!
Mongolia: Church grows from 4 known Christians to 40,000 since 1990
January 10, 2015
1 2 10 166
By Reach Beyond
The church in Mongolia has seen spectacular growth since 1990 when the country moved from communism to a democratic form of government. At that time there were only four known Christians in the nation of 3 million.
By 2000 the number of believers had increased to nearly 10,000, and a decade later it reached 40,000, the new believers gathering in some 600 churches—300 in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and 300 in the provinces.
Today the growth continues. Mongolia has the eighth-fastest growing church in the world, althoughOperation World indicates that evangelicals still represent only about 1.2 percent of the population.
Meanwhile, Christian radio is playing an increasingly important role in that growth. “Through radio, thousands of people now can hear the truth, and in this [once-communist] country—nearly void of religious influence for decades—people are listening,” said Sam Joseph, a Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) radio planter who joined the mission with his wife, Brooke, earlier this year.
“I think the spiritual void left by communism has left people curious about Christianity,” he added. “I believe that hope is contagious, and many Mongolian people are finding that Christ is the greatest hope of all.”
The Josephs, along with John Brewer, engineering director of the Asia Pacific Region, worked with partner FEBC-Mongolia and local churches in late October to put a pair of 24-hour-a-day FM community stations on the air just two days apart. Both outlets rebroadcast programing from the original Christian FM station launched by FEBC in 2001 with help from Reach Beyond engineers.
The latest partnership was birthed as a result of a series of meetings with the Asia by Media (formerly Asia by Radio) group in early 2014.
“I asked our partner to share his vision for FEBC-Mongolia,” explained Asia Pacific Executive Director Ty Stakes. “It was an extremely exciting conversation—his vision and strategy ideas fit so clearly with ours, I knew it was more than a random meeting. In a very short time, we were discussing how we could join with them to help them fulfill their radio-planting vision for Mongolia, and we made an agreement.”
Joseph said the installation team overcame a plethora of obstacles, including a lack of advance planning and difficult weather conditions.
“If God were not working in our favor there is no way that those stations would be on air today,” Joseph noted. “We clearly saw the passion and love for the lost Mongolian people motivating the pastors we worked with, and they slaved to see the work completed. God also protected us from potential dangers working at height in frigid weather, and kept us healthy in spite of unusual foods and exhaustion.”
Local partners went beyond the call, working long hours to make the stations a reality. “The partner from FEBC is one of the most driven workers I’ve ever labored with, welding until 2 a.m. one day, freezing on a tower for five hours another day,” Joseph recounted. “The main pastor stayed up until 4 a.m. on his birthday to finish getting the studio ready for installation on time.”
“I have no doubt that the reason we were able to finish was largely due to their dedication and push-through attitude,” he said. Brooke Joseph also helped throughout the visit, such as documenting the trip by taking and organizing photos and even playing piano during the on-air ceremony at one of the new stations.
The head of FEBC-Mongolia said the programming on the new stations is aimed primarily at non-Christians. “Our partners are very eager to reach unsaved Mongolians, and their broadcasts reflect that eagerness,” Sam Joseph noted. “The programming is pre-evangelistic with popular, clean secular music and some talk radio interspersed with biblical truth and directions for learning more.”
“One unique thing they do in programming is provide all sorts of developmental and educational content on the stations, and then create home groups for seekers who meet regularly for nine months to study together,” said Stakes.
“They study the content more deeply, and also look into spiritual truth together. It’s quite effective, and more than 200 people [gather to hear the] station at a time in the capital. The call-in programs are apologetic in nature, attracting great interest by local people who do not know Jesus yet. Exciting stuff!”
Mongolia’s nearly treeless terrain is conducive to sending the FM signal long distances, and the Asia Pacific staff looks forward to helping establish many more stations in the future.
“Our plans are to continue to partner with them in coming years, expanding their reach to every provincial capital city in the country,” Stakes added. Mongolia has 21 provinces divided into 329 districts.
Inner Mongolia strikes out against Christians in order to “educate” the Chinese people
THE MONASTERY OF GANDANTEGCHINLIN IN ULAN BATOR
A violent persecution campaign against the underground Church is going on, as the succession of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao takes place
Christians are being struck down in order to “educate” the entire Chinese population. In Inner Mongolia, a violent campaign against the underground Church is underway, as the new changeover in China’s leadership takes place with Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang succeed Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. This has led to the regime arresting dissidents, suppressing revolts and destroying the resistance in Tibet and Xinjiang.
Catholics and Protestants are among those paying the price in Inner Mongolia. “As a result of a series of priests being arrested, 30 thousand faithful are unable to go to mass, the seminary has been closed and students are forced to go home,” AsiaNews agency stated, mentioning that “the police has forced priests to take part in joint mass celebrations with the official bishop.”
The offensive against the Church is part of a security campaign ahead of the People’s National Assembly (due to take place on 5 March) which also aims to stop any potential social revolts. At the national Assembly, a decision will be taken as to the succession of China’s current President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. For almost two decades, the community has been able to grow thanks to the relatively relaxed approach taken by the authorities. They did not put up any obstacles as long as faithful met discreetly, in private houses or small buildings, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) pointed out. Last 30 January, six priests were arrested during a rally. Among them was the rector of an illegal seminary, Fr. Giuseppe Ban Zhanxiong, whose seminary was closed on 14 February.
All students were forced to go home. On 31 January, the diocesan administrator, Fr. Gao Jiangping was also arrested, along with another priest. The approximately thirty priests who remained free all went into hiding to prevent being arrested.
As of 19 February, faithful have not been able to take part in any celebration because priests are avoiding coming out into the open, given the strong presence of security forces. Meanwhile, four of the priests who were arrested on 30 January were set free, but they are still forced to report to the police station every day and are forced to attend indoctrination sessions on the government’s policy on religion, which almost amounts to brain washing. “They were also forced to concelebrate mass in the presence of the official bishop of Hohhot, Mgr. Meng and two other priests from the official community,” AsiaNews said. “The two priests were forced to concelebrate against their wishes, remaining physically present without pronouncing one prayer or moving one little finger.”
For the Chinese government, the underground community and the diocese of Suiyuan do not exist: by order of the political authorities, its ecclesiastical territory was absorbed by the diocese of Hohhot during the ‘80s. The official community is made up of approximately 2000 faithful and as of April 2010, it has had a bishop, Mgr. Paolo Meng Qinglu, who is recognised by the government and the Holy See.
At the time of his ordination, Mgr. Meng had hoped for reconciliation with the underground Christian community. But he then took part in the illegal ordination in Chengde and was nominated Vice-President of the the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. It remains unclear as to whether it is for these reasons that he asked for forgiveness and reconciled himself with the Holy See. Meanwhile, in the space of just a few weeks, a number of priests have been arrested; others have had to go into hiding so as not to be captured; the dozens of communities that are spread across the area are unable to participate in the sacraments; many priests are forced to undergo brain washing sessions on religion policy; the seminary has been closed. The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions attributes the worsening of the general political situation to the attempt to guarantee utmost security before the all important People’s National Assembly scheduled for 5 March.
“But there are also internal conflicts going on within the community, that are linked to the ambiguous status of the official bishop, Mgr. Paolo Meng Qinglu, who has received the approval of the Holy See, but is Vice-President of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, an entity that is “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”,” AsiaNews emphasised. The underground Catholic community of the diocese of Suiyuan (Inner Mongolia) consists of approximately 30 thousand faithful, 35 priests and 90 nuns. Given its ambiguous position, many underground priests prefer not to join the official community and are asking the Vatican for clarifications. The Vatican on the one hand affirms that the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association is “incompatible” with Catholic doctrine (because it wants to build a Church that is independent from Rome); on the other hand however, the Holy See accepts the compromise of a bishop who is bound to the Pope whilst still participating in the Association, even if he holds top roles within the organisation.
Meng is becoming increasingly “politically oriented” and is following the indications of the Patriotic Association to the letter. And the government is aiming to eliminate the underground community in order to gain an even greater control of the situation. The need for greater control derives from two factors: “On a provincial level, some revolts led by pastors broke out last year in Inner Mongolia against the government’s mining policy, which pollutes and destroys land and pastures,” AsiaNews explained. On a national level, there is a need for complete control ahead of the upcoming People’s National Assembly.
Sadly, we are all used to hearing about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, particularly with the rise of ISIS. But the Christian minority in India is facing persecution of its own since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party won the election last year.
Now, one group is trying to get the U.S. government to designate the party responsible as a foreign terrorist organization.
Radical Hindu nationalists closely aligned to the Indian government warned Christians in Punjab state late last year to prepare to convert to Hinduism “or get ready to die,” according to a complaint before a U.S. federal court.
A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York calls on the U.S. government to designate as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) a radical Hindu organization with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party.
Late last week attorneys filed an amended complaint in a case brought by an advocacy group called Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) against Secretary of State John Kerry.
The amended document adds three additional plaintiffs, two Christians and a Muslim, who claim to be victims of a forced conversion campaign carried out by the Hindu group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Corps).
The three say that threats by RSS radicals determined to forcibly convert minorities to Hinduism have increased since Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won India’s general election last year.
Modi, a generally highly-regarded leader whose high-profile visit to Washington last fall was reciprocated when President Obama traveled to India in January, was once a full-time RSS activist, and the RSS is viewed as the BJP’s parent organization.
The complaint claims that Kerry ignored an SFJ appeal sent last December urging him to designate RSS as an FTO under U.S. law.
It wants the court to issue a judgment declaring RSS to be an FTO, for “practicing a fascist ideology and for running a passionate, vicious and violent campaign to turn India into a ‘Hindu’ nation with a homogeneous religious and ethnic identity.”
The complaint cites a recently-released report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent statutory watchdog, which criticized India for violations and recommended it be placed on a second-tier watch list of countries which the U.S. should closely monitor and encourage to reform.
“Based on the evidence and recent report of USCIRF, [the] Obama administration is bound under law to declare organizations like RSS as terror groups,” SFJ attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said in a statement after filing the amended complaint.
In the court documents, the Christian and Muslim plaintiffs describe death threats for failure to convert and forced reconversion ceremonies.
“Prominent leaders of RSS have stated the party’s policy, goal and aim as there won’t be a single Muslim or Christian left in India,” according to the complaint.
Open Doors, a persecution watchdog group, ranks India as No. 21 on a list of the world’s worst places to be a Christian. According to their analysis, the new Hindu government is radicalizing society.
“All traditions of Christianity are affected by persecution in India, but Christian converts from a Hindu background and non-traditional Protestant groups are suffering most. At the top level the influence of fundamentalist Hindus has increased. Hindu radicals have started monitoring Christian activity in much detail. Many of them have planted spies in churches. Reports on pastors and church members beaten because of allegations of conversion are frequent; sometimes Christians are even killed.”
Kerry’s attorneys, however, say neither SFJ nor the court have the authority to force the secretary of state to designate a group as an FT
MORE CHRISTIANS KILLED BY BEHEADING IN LYBIA BY ISIS
Once again, ISIS has orchestrated and filmed the dramatic mass killing of African Christians who refuse to deny their faith.
This time, the approximately 28 men targeted by the Libya affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as Daesh) were Ethiopian Christians. In February, the killing of 21 mostly Egyptian Christians drew widespread horror and fears of future massacres, but also led to Egypt’s largest Bible outreach.
Describing the 30-minute propaganda video released Sunday, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) explained:
The exact numbers of victims in the latest incident cannot be confirmed. The video of the executions, entitled “Until there came to them clear evidence”, switches between a scene on a beach in eastern Libya, where an estimated 15 men in orange boiler suits are beheaded by masked militants in camouflage, and a scene in a desert area in southern Libya where similarly dressed Daesh members execute a similar number of men in black boiler suits by shooting them in the head. A subtitle refers to both groups of victims as “worshippers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church.”
The video also includes scenes depicting the destruction of churches in Syria and Iraq and condemns the doctrine of the Trinity as a form of apostasy. Prior to the executions, an English-speaking masked narrator dressed in black warns that “the nation of the cross” must either embrace Islam, pay the jizya tax or face death.
The New York Times reports more details on the video, as does CNN. Regarding how Mosul Christians were told to convert to Islam or pay a protection tax, the speaker in the video says, “The Christians never cooperated.”
This icon honors the 21 Christians killed in previous propaganda video.
The video was released the same day the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, arrived in Cairo to offer condolences for the previous martyrs in Libya: 20 Coptic Orthodox Christians and a sub-Saharan African. (CT reported how their deaths were unifying Egypt andinspiring Muslimsthroughout the Arab world, as well as honored in the Coptic calendar.)
“Why has Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” asked Welby during a public sermon. “The way these brothers lived and died testified that their faith was trustworthy.”
Ethiopia is Africa’s second most-populated country, and approximately two-thirds of its 90 million people are Christians, notes AsiaNews. “Many have moved to Libya, where they found work, or are waiting to board a migrant ship to reach Europe.”
Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an Orthodox Church official, believes the victims were likely migrants, seeking work or a passage to Europe, according to the Daily Mail.
And while it is too early to determine the denominational affiliation of the Ethiopians, 44 percent of their nation’s population belongs to the Orthodox Tawahedo Church, according to the CIA World Factbook. Protestants represent 19 percent.
The Ethiopian government has not yet been able to confirm the video, or certify the victims are its citizens.
But Grant LeMarquand, the Anglican bishop of the Horn of Africa, says they certainly appear to be.
“If they were given the chance to convert and did not,” he told CT, “they should be considered what ISIS calls them: ‘People of the Cross’, and therefore true followers of the crucified one.”
Bishop Angaelos, the general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, underscored the Ethiopians’ testimony.
“Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith,” he said in a statement.
“As Christians, we remain committed to our initial instinct following the murder of our 21 Coptic brothers in Libya, that it is not only for our own good, but indeed our duty to ourselves, the world, and even those who see themselves as our enemies, to forgive and pray for the perpetrators of this and similar crimes,” he said. “We pray for these men and women, self-confessed religious people, that they may be reminded of the sacred and precious nature of every life created by God.”
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church is the largest Oriental Orthodox denomination in the world. It claims descent from the Ethiopian eunuch converted by Philip in Acts 8, and dates formally to the preaching of Frumentius in the early fourth century and the acceptance of Christianity in 330 A.D.
The word tawahedo is a Ge’ez term meaning “unified,” referring to Christ’s one nature, both human and divine. In 451 A.D., the Oriental Orthodox churches rejected the Council of Chalcedon’s pronouncement of his two natures.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church remained administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when Egypt granted the church the right to appoint its own patriarch.
LeMarquand remarked that Muslims and Christians in Ethiopia have for the most part lived together in peace. The radicalization of neighboring Somalia, however, has strained local coexistence. He requested prayer for upcoming elections on May 24.
Mobs of Muslims burned more than 60 churches in March 2011. Ethiopia ranks No. 22 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List.
Over the last several years, the Ethiopian government has been active in military response to the atrocities of the Somali Islamist terrorist group al-Shabab. The ISIS video may have indirectly referenced this as motivation for the group’s killing of the Ethiopian Christians.
“’Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap,” it said. “To the nation of the cross we are now back again.”
To this threat, Welby urged solidarity. “We must grieve for them, support their families, and seek to change the circumstances that lead to their death,” he said during his Cairo sermon. “All Christians are witnesses. The God who raised Jesus from the dead will raise them also, whose testimony brought many to the truth of Christ.”
More than 40 percent of immigrants to the European Union are Christians—the largest population of any religious group, according to the Pew Research Center. CT previously noted that many of the 250 migrants who drowned crossing the Mediterranean in 2013 were African Christians fleeing persecution.
Thousands of Ethiopians have migrated to Middle East, North Africa, and Europe in search of work, though many have faced later deportations or abuse. Last December, 70 Ethiopians drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen. (None of the Christians thrown overboard last week by fellow Muslims migrants were Ethiopian.)
Many emigrating Ethiopians are Oromo, a people group of 24 million who have been “ruthlessly targeted” and tortured by the government, as they have fought for increased self-determination. Nearly one third are Orthodox Christian, one in five Protestant, and half Muslim.
CT reported how Egypt’s Bible society turned the previous 21 martyrs in Libya into a Bible tract that is rivaling the Bible for circulation, as well as how Christian forgiveness has gone viral in the Arab world. CT has also noted how US Christian leaders are increasingly advocating for persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, and Frank Wolf’s plan for their safety.
One year after the kidnaping of 232 Nigerian girls, Australian Stephen Davis still says his contacts indicate complicity among Nigerian politicians.
A year ago April 14, Boko Haram kidnapped 275 girls from the government secondary school in the Christian-dominated town of Chibok, Borno State.
Students reported to the Chibok Government Secondary Boarding School on Sunday, April 13, to take an exam on Tuesday morning, April 15, despite the fact that the government had closed schools across the state because it could not offer protection.
At about 11pm armed Boko Haram insurgents broke into the school. They burned the administration block and classrooms. Dressed in military uniforms, they told the girls that Chibok was under attack but that they were there to protect them. The girls believed them and obeyed their orders to mount the vehicles outside.
Forty three girls escaped, some during the attack at the school; others during the journey to a camp in the Sambisa forest, where the captive girls were initially kept.
One year on, the 232 girls taken that night from Chibok remain in rebel custody. It is not clear where they are being held or what circumstances they had been facing this past year. The first of the babies born to the girls since their captivity arrived in mid-February this year. Four girls who managed to escape after their arrival at the Boko Haram camp reported that they were raped almost on a daily basis. They said those who did not cooperate with the rebels faced severe punishment. Some other girls who were captured before the Chibok girls, and who managed to escape after varying time in captivity, said some girls were killed because they would not renounce their Christian faith.
The Nigerian Government has been under harsh criticism for its handling of the crisis. Critics say it has not done enough to secure the girls’ release or to support their families.
In May last year, news surfaced that an Australian, Stephen Davis, had been negotiating behind the scenes for the release of the girls. Although he secured an agreement to win the release of about 60 girls, the exchange was compromised. In October, there was another glimmer of hope when the government announced it had reached an agreement for the release of the girls. But just as the news broke, fighting intensified and a person claiming to be the leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, whom the military previously had announced was dead, declared in a video released to media there was no deal. “War is what we want,” the speaker said.
Dr Stephen Davis, the Australian who had been involved in the negotiations for the release of the Chibok girls, served as Director at the International Centre for Peace and Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral in the U.K. in 2005 and 2006. Davis also served as an advisor to two Nigerian presidents: Olusegun Obasanjo, and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Davis became involved in the negotiations because of his recent history of interaction with the forerunner of Boko Haram, Jama’atu Ahlul Sunnah Lih Da’awa Wal Jihad. He was confident from telephone conversations he had with contacts in the group soon after the kidnapping that there was a good chance of securing the release of some, if not all, the kidnapped girls. “I arrived in Nigeria on 03 May 2014 for the specific and only purpose of securing the release of the Chibok girls,” he said.
Although he enjoyed logistical support from the Nigerian presidency, he received no payment for his negotiations for the release of the girls and was never formally contracted.
“Soon after arrival in Nigeria and discussions with the Presidency I travelled to Borno State in the north east by military aircraft provided through the Presidency,” Davis said. “As the visit was to be discreet, it was decided that I would be met at the military airbase by a civilian and travel in a private vehicle. Over subsequent days I met with the head of the Maiduguri University Teaching Hospital who was cooperative in providing medical team support for any kidnapped girls who might be handed over.”
Davis learned that the majority of the girls were not held in Nigeria, but in camps in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. A small group was confirmed to be in Nigeria, ready to be handed over.
Around the same time, Davis received a phone call from a young man named Idris, who claimed to have been kidnapped by Boko Haram and forced to drive vehicles during their attacks. “Over subsequent weeks and many interactions by phone, we arranged a vehicle to assist Idris to escape and bring with him four girls who had been kidnapped in Chibok. The girls managed to escape, but Idris, and the driver we sent to pick them up, were apparently killed by Boko Haram,” Davis said.
“The girls escaped (from Cameroon) by walking west to follow the setting sun each evening, knowing that would eventually lead them to Nigeria. After several weeks, they arrived at a village on the Nigerian side of the border and through a local pastor they were reunited with their families.”
When news of his involvement in the negotiations was leaked to the media, Davis expressed disappointment and said it was not helpful to the negotiations. “This noise and clutter slows down the process, and muddies the water.”
Davis said he came close to brokering a release three other times, only to have each handover ruined at the last moment. In one episode, he told World Watch Monitor, “we had set out on a trip to receive a group of Chibok girls who were to be handed over at the village of Kirenowa near the northern border with Niger. At New Marte we picked up a military escort and continued to Kirenowa.”
Fifteen minutes before the exchange was to happen, another group kidnapped the girls to try and cash in on the several million Naira reward the police had announced just 24 hours before. Shortly afterward, Boko Haram attacked Kirenowa, wiping out the military barracks. They also took New Marte and Dikwa, both large towns with substantial military presence.
Taking on the sponsors
Davis became aware that powerful figures with “vested interests” were sabotaging his efforts to reach a deal. “While I was making efforts to secure the release of the girls, I realised that if I got 30 or 40 girls out, the political backers of the group would have the militants kidnap another 60 to replace them and a further 100 villagers would likely die in the process. I became very frustrated. The backers threatened that any commander of the group who agreed to participate in any peace dialogue or handover of girls would be slaughtered by other commanders.”
Davis implicated former Borno State Governor, Modu Sheriff in funding the group for political gains. In addition, he accused former National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi of pocketing money from generous defence budgets designed to fight the insurgency. He also said a senior Central Bank of Nigeria official has provided an official channel by which to supply a Boko Haram agent in Egypt with funds to buy weapons and military uniforms.
“In short, the sponsors of Boko Haram clearly want to show that a Christian President cannot overcome the current insecurity caused by Muslim extremists,” Davis said.
Davis has concluded that the first step in defeating the highly radicalised and increasingly organised Boko Haram is to arrest the sponsors, cut off arms supplies and communications, and isolate them geographically. In a previous interview with World Watch Monitor, he had said commanders of the political arm of Boko Haram were tired of the ritualistic bloodletting, and that once the sponsors’ influence has been removed, these leaders would be ready to negotiate an end to the insurgency. As long as the sponsors are in the picture, he said, no negotiation would take place.
Observers have described Nigeria as a country with one of the most complex political landscapes in the world. Members of the same political parties fight each other in partisan wars that are fuelled by a culture of extreme corruption. The country ranks as the 38th most corrupt nation among the 136 listed on the 2014 world corruption index. Though Davis was not the first to accuse Nigerian politicians of supporting Boko Haram, his detailed allegations created enormous media attention.
In Nigeria there was a chorus of support for Davis including calls for formal investigations into Sheriff.
And in January, the UK-based news website Nigerian Watch reported that Davis’ allegations regarding Sheriff had prompted the People’s Democratic Party, or PDP, to drop him as its senatorial. “Apparently concerned by the implications of fielding Alhaji Sheriff as a candidate, the PDP has removed his name from the list of candidates submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission,” Nigerian Watch reported. “He has been replaced with the little-known Muhammad Baba Kachalla, 49, who is the official PDP candidate for the Borno Central senatorial district.”
At the same time, corners of Nigeria’s media speculated Davis was somehow plotting with Boko Haram and that his revelations were an attempt to discredit President Goodluck Jonathan.
Although State Security Services, or SSS, said Sept. 5 it would investigate the fresh accusation against Sheriff, having already invited him for questioning in the past, it instead started arresting people associated with Davis.
The SSS have arrested workers of a charity called the Shehuri North Community Development and Youth Empowerment Association in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, and have been holding them without formal charges since October. This group has been locating girls who have escaped from Boko Haram camps, providing them food, connecting them to medical care and verifying their stories in order that the President’s Victim Support Fund might provide ongoing support and trauma counselling.
The SSS also arrested Junaidu Idris, a resident of Maiduguri and a Kanuri speaker, who had previously helped Davis in peace discussions. Needing a Kanuri speaker, Davis asked Idris to accompany him on the trip to Borno for the planned hand-over of the girls. “The SSS has arrested Junaidu for providing such support to efforts to return kidnapped girls to their families,” Davis said.
“He, too, has been held without charge and without access to legal counsel.”
Davis said the arrests are an “expected strong response from powerful and wealthy people who have a lot to lose.” Davis also asserted that any confessions made by those arrested have been made under threat.
Now almost a year after making his allegations public, Davis told WWM that, despite the media criticism and the arrest and extrajudicial detention of people associated with him, he stands by his assertion.
“I have learned years ago as an expert witness that the guy on the other side’s job is to destroy your credibility,” he said. “They spend all their time destroying your credibility, so they do not have to contend with your evidence… They will marshal all of their forces to try to discredit you because they will not address the issue, the facts, the evidence.
“If you worry about defending your reputation you are back fighting where they are comfortable and they have strength,” he said. “Jesus didn’t do this. The New Testament is not full of Jesus walking around justifying himself. He carried on with the work.”
Have the difficulties caused him to rethink the wisdom of taking on the politicians?
“For me it is a non-question,” he said, “because if you have sought the Lord before you have gone into it, it is irrelevant whether you see or don’t see a result. You do it in good faith that this is what the Lord wanted you to do and that He will provide the ways, the means and the strength to do it.”
Davis said he maintains contact with factions within Boko Haram. Recently he received a message from one of his contacts in the group which read: “Moving a large number of girls across the border from Nigeria into Niger”. When Davis asked why, the source replied: “The contract is almost over”.
Davis said he understands the statement to mean that when the Nigerian presidential election is held March 28, the contract to hold the girls will expire.
“A contract! This proves yet again that politicians are paying money to create this sort of mayhem – paying to have people slaughtered!” Davis exclaimed. “This is terrible! These guys are getting paid to go and slaughter tens of thousands of people.”
Davis continues to call on international authorities to formally investigate Sheriff.
Davis also said the media play into the hands of the terrorists by redistributing videos captured during raids, and called for a campaign to ensure social media platforms and news media do not host or distribute Boko Haram propaganda.
“They took 150 mostly non-Muslim hostages from a village shortly before Christmas,” he said. “Boko Haram decided they no longer wanted these hostages, so they told the hostages to lie face down on the ground, and then executed every one … and they filmed it.”
The footage ended up on some major media outlets.
“Ten years ago, Boko Haram’s minimum expectation was to provoke a reaction by way of notoriety,” Davis said. “This served to attract more recruits and helped to bind the group tighter together. As they became more radical, Boko Haram found the media, and in particular the new opportunities opened up by social media, to be a useful tool. The growing sophistication of their strategy, and their ability to exploit the world’s media, challenges the traditional media in ways that it has not yet found an answer to.
“The world’s media – denied any real access to these conflicts, where Western journalists have been beheaded along with other Westerners — are starved of dramatic footage. In the world’s media the terrorists have the most efficient distribution network for their propaganda.
“The terrorists are delighted that the world’s media show these terrorist ‘victories,’ which intimidates the general population and attracts more recruits. We should not give them the notoriety they crave. The media can responsibly report without the need for publicising the shocking acts of murder, rape and genocide. This is a matter that needs our urgent attention,” he said.
A critical part of the strategy to defeat terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Davis said, should be to isolate them from media outlets and to take down all content that could sustain and perpetuate terrorist activities. Media who resist should be punished, he said.
“People should write to their members of parliament to ask for terrorist-generated propaganda to be banned from the internet. It is very clear from research and from history that if you close down the channel, you close down the organization. The correlations are very high. We should be simply choking off terrorist access to media, and politicians have the power to do this. It should be handled the same way as paedophilia is handled,” he told World Watch Monitor.
Even as he advocates for a media blackout on Boko Haram atrocities, Davis said the worldwide Church must make more noise about it.
“I have visited many villages and towns attacked by Boko Haram. I have seen first-hand the devastation and talked to families in the attacks. These are tragic stories of loss of life, slaughter, rape and the worst abuses of human life one can imagine,” he said.
“The Christian churches and congregations around Gwoza on the Cameroon-Nigeria border have been decimated, with many congregations killed in their churches.” Davis said he asked the local Bishop how many people were killed in the most recent attack on Gwoza, and the bishop replied, “We have yet to see any living.” And there have been several other attacks on Gwoza.
In a recent report about the impact of the violence on the Anglican Church in Nigeria’s northeast, Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi said the effects of the displacement, attacks, destruction and violence perpetrated on the Church is unquantifiable. Archbishop Kwashi says one of the groups that has suffered severely is the EYN Church of the Brethren, whose “entire denomination of nearly 2 million membership has been uprooted.”
By the count of the Archbishop, the Anglican Church in Nigeria has lost 60 churches in its province covering the northeast. In one area, 36 of 42 churches have been lost.
Davis pointed out that “the report relates to the Anglican Church only. Keep in mind that there are at least as many Catholic Churches in that area and at least three or four times the number of Pentecostal Churches that would be affected in similar ways.”
“People in the north of Nigeria face unbelievable hardship. Some women walk all day to get a bucket of muddy water. People are thin as rakes because there is not enough food. You wonder what the future holds for a child born there. But they go on. There is hope and a desire to live. They don’t despair. Those who have the least in Nigeria are not the ones who despair over their general living conditions, the lack of water and the lack of food… It is the war and terror that causes them despair,” Davis said.
“These Christians feel abandoned by their brothers and sisters and the rest of the world. They are asking, ‘Why aren’t we hearing from them? Why aren’t they trying to help us? Why aren’t they trying to stop this?’ When word seeps through that congregations in the West are praying for the situation of Christians under attack in Nigeria’s northeast, they weep to know they are being held up in prayer.”
“More must be done to support the Church in the northeast,” he said, “and to get word to these Christians that they are being prayed for.”
ISIS BEHEADS OVER THIRTY COPTIC CHRISTIANS THEY KIDNAPPED IN LIBYA
A video purporting to show the mass beheading of Coptic Christian hostages was released Sunday by militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group.
The killings raise the possibility that the Islamic militant group — which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate — has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the southern tip of Italy. One of the militants in the video makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”
The militants had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians hostage for weeks, all laborers rounded up from the city of Sirte in December and January. It was not clear from the video whether all 21 hostages were killed. It was one of the first such beheading videos from an Islamic State group affiliate to come from outside the group’s core territory in Syria and Iraq.
The Associated Press could not immediately independently verify the video. But the Egyptian government and the Coptic Church, which is based in Egypt, both declared it authentic.
The Egyptian government declared a seven-day mourning period and President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed the nation late Sunday night, pledging resilience in the fight against terrorism.
“These cowardly actions will not undermine our determination” said el-Sissi, who also banned all travel to Libya by Egyptian citizens and said his government reserves the right to seek retaliation. “Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals.”
The Coptic Church in a statement called on its followers to have “confidence that their great nation won’t rest without retribution for the evil criminals.”
The video’s makers identified themselves as the Tripoli Province of the Islamic State group. A still photo, apparently taken from the video, was published last week in the Islamic State group’s Dabiq online magazine — indicating a direct connection between the Libyan militants and the main group.
The video, released Sunday night, depicts several men in orange jumpsuits being led along a beach, each accompanied by a masked militant. The men are made to kneel and one militant, dressed differently that the others, addresses the camera in North American-accented English.
“All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together. Therefore we will fight you all together,” he said. “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama Bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”
The men are then laid face-down and simultaneously beheaded.
The militant speaker then pointed northward across the red-stained waves and said, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
In el-Aour, a dusty and impoverished village some 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Cairo and home to 13 of the hostages, friends and family assumed the worst as soon as the photo was published on Thursday.
On Saturday, two days after the photo appeared, the community was wrapped in sorrow. Men covered their heads with dirt in a sign of both grief and shame. Women slapped their own faces or let out heart-wrenching shrieks of pain.
Villagers accused the Egyptian government of doing little to help the captives. The authorities, they say, were able to free Muslim Egyptians abducted in Libya in recent months but have done nothing to save the 21 because they are Christian — an accusation rooted in the deep sense of religious discrimination felt by most Egyptian Copts.
Samuel Walham’s family immediately recognized him from the picture, showing him kneeling on the beach alongside four other hostages — each flanked by a knife-wielding militant.
“Look at my love. Look how beautiful he is,” Walham’s mother, Ibtassal Lami, said through tears as she cradled a photo of her son and women wailed in the family’s ramshackle, two-story home. “He only went there to earn his living.”
Libya, rich in oil and short on labor, has long been a magnet for Egyptians from all professions. Laborers have flocked there to escape poverty and unemployment at home, while professionals have gone in search of a better salary. Libya’s 2011 civil war left much of the country in ruins, creating a boom for skilled foreign workers.
Egyptians have jumped at the opportunity: they are the largest single group of foreign workers in Libya. But over time, the risks have grown for those looking to Libya for a better paycheck. Egyptians, and Copts in particular, have become frequent targets for Islamic extremists who have flourished amid Libya’s political turmoil. Islamic and tribal militias have overrun Libya’s two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi — forcing the elected Western-based government and parliament to meet elsewhere.
Egyptian authorities have responded by suspending most flights to Libya and issuing travel warnings. Yet, Egyptian workers remain undeterred, and still line up outside the Libyan Embassy in Cairo in search of visas.
Walham secured his visa in late 2013. He arrived months before militias seized the capital Tripoli in August 2014. He found work as a plumber in the coastal city of Sirte, which was largely destroyed during the war and was the hometown of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi
It was there that Walham was kidnapped on Dec. 28. Six days later, gunmen seized another 13 Egyptian Christians from Sirte in a targeted raid on a housing compound for laborers.
Abanoub Ishaq, a 19-year-old worker from el-Aour, was there the night the militants burst in just before dawn, knocking on doors with a list of names. Those who answered were hauled away, Ishaq said. He managed to evade capture by remaining silent after receiving a phone call from a Muslim neighbor who warned him not to open the door because militants were searching for Christians.
“We heard nothing but my friends’ screams, then they were silenced,” he told The Associated Press.
The video at the end makes reference to the case of Camelia Shehata — a longstanding rallying point for Muslim fundamentalists. Shehata is an Egyptian Coptic woman who went missing and was rumored to have converted to Islam to escape an unhappy marriage to a Coptic priest. The Coptic Church bans divorce.
Shehata was eventually found by Egyptian police and returned to the Church and promptly disappeared from public view. Her case became a rallying point for fundamentalist Muslims, who regard her as a Muslim being held prisoner by the church. Salafist Muslims in Alexandria held weekly rallies on her behalf throughout 2010, and Shehata’s case is believed to be one of the motivations for a deadly bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve 2010.
As the men are being beheaded, a subtitle on the video declares: “This filthy blood is just some of what awaits you, in revenge for Camelia and her sisters.”
UN: ISLAMIC STATE SELLING, CRUCIFYING, BURYING CHILDREN ALIVE
Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists are selling children as sex slaves, murdering children by crucifixion, and burying children alive,reported the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child watchdog committee on Wednesday.
“The scope of the problem is huge,” said UN committee expert Renate Winter. “We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding.”
Christian children and those of the Yazidi sect are common targets for brutality.
The UN’s Iraq review was the first since 1998. The report condemned “the systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL [also known as Islamic State or ISIS], including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.”
The UN report comes one day after the release of a video of Islamic State terrorists immolating a live Jordanian pilot inside a cage.
As thousands of women and girls are being raped, abused and victimized as part of the Islamic State’s sex slave operation in Iraq and Syria, one Iraqi man is buying ISIS sex slaves in order to free and reunite them with their families.
In the Islamic State’s sex slave market, captured religious minority women, girls and even babies are sold to militants and supporters willing to dish out good money for a new jihadi bride or woman they just want to abuse and hand off to their buddies when they are finished.
Although many find it unethical to participate in the Islamic State’s human trafficking market that helps fund the terrorist organization that has killed thousands, one unnamed Iraqi man is purchasing ISIS’s sex slaves not for phyiscal pleasure but to give them freedom.
As Walid Shoebat reports, an Iraqi man, who remains nameless, disguises himself as a human trafficking dealer in order to “infiltrate” the Islamic State and get the militants to sell him sex slaves. But in purchasing sex slaves, the man finds a way to reunite them with their fathers, husbands, and the rest of their family.
The report cites a video from the Iraqi news site Rudaw, which can be viewed through the YouTube channel StreamDZ, that shows one of the yazidi sex slaves the man purchased finally being reunited with her father. In the video, the woman and her father hug and cry tears of happiness as they are finally reunited.
The woman in the Rudaw video was fortunate that her father was still living, because ISIS killed most of the yazidi men upon capturing them last summer when they seized most the Yazidi territory. Upon seizing a Yazidi town, the militants captured the yazidi people, separated the males from the females, hauled the females away in the back of large trucks as their male family members were typically shot execution style
Upon arriving in the stronghold, the women were held captive in tight, overpopulated rooms, until they were sold to militants.
After being sold off, the fate of the women vary. The woman in the Rudaw video was lucky because she was sold to someone who reunited her with her father. Others, however, are not so fortunate as they are usually forced to convert to Islam, marry a militant and sometimes change their names.
According to a 15-year-old Yazidi taken by ISIS as a sex slave, she was sold to a militant who tried to force her to convert to Islam and change her name to Abeer, according to The Telegraph. But she found a way to escape from her sex slavery and avoid changing her name or converting.
She drugged tea that she served to the ISIS fighter that purchased her and escaped out the door as he was unconscious.
“He told me, ‘I’m going to change your name to Abeer, so your mother doesn’t recognize you,'” the 15-year-old Yazidi girl explained. “You’ll become Muslim, then I will marry you. But I refused to become a Muslim, that’s why I fled.”
Some sex slaves are not fortunate enough to escape. Some ISIS sex slaves have taken up the practice of committing suicide just so they don’t have to endure the daily abuses they suffer.
One unnamed former ISIS captive explained to Amnesty International how one sex slave named Jilan took her own life.
“We were 21 girls in one room, two of them were very young, 10 to 12 years. One day they were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom,” the woman said. “She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was beautiful. I think she knew that she was going to be taken away to a man and that is why she killed herself.”
Nigerian terror group Boko Haram is believed to have killed close to 2,000 people in an attack on the city of Baga and surrounding villages in Borno state. Christian leaders have confirmed that several churches have also been burned in the attack.
“I received a message of the Christians Association of Nigeria, the association of Christian churches in Nigeria, which states that in that area Boko Haram has burned several churches and caused numerous victims” said Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, director of social communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja.
Boko Haram first attacked Baga on Wednesday, over-running a key military base there. Scores of people fled the surrounding area, and media reports have noted different estimates for the numbers of killed — though Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official in the area, said that close to 2,000 people have died.
“I escaped with my family in the car after seeing how Boko Haram was killing people … I saw bodies in the street. Children and women, some were crying for help,” Mohamed Bukar, one of the people who managed to escape, told Reuters.
Nigerian lawmaker Maina Maaji Lawan said that Boko Haram, which has been fighting against the Nigerian government and against Christians since 2009, now controls more than 70 percent of Borno state.
“The indiscriminate killings went on and on and on,” he said of the latest attack.
The jihadists have also reportedly been setting up checkpoints in thearea and killing people trying to escape.
Lawan estimated that as many as 10,000 people have fled to neighboring Chad since Saturday, in hopes of escaping the violence.
Fr. Patrick noted that although Nigerian national media have placed the number of those killed in the past few days smaller than 2,000, that is simply an attempt “not to further inflame the minds.”
The priest added that Muslims suffer heavily during Boko Haram’s raids as well.
“When those of Boko Haram arrive in a major city they make no distinction between Christians and Muslims, and the population flees, without distinction of religion. Boko Haram separates Muslims from Christians only in the smaller villages,” he said.
“Next to the combatants from Nigeria, Boko Haram has been strengthened by jihadist members from Libya and Mali. Their goal is to create a caliphate in northern Nigeria.”
Nigeria recently found itself at No. 10 on persecution watchdog group Open Doors’ list of countries where Christians are most heavily targeted for their faith, largely because of the actions of Boko Haram.
The terror group has also looked across Nigeria’s borders and launched a number of attacks against Cameroon, though has been defeated in key battles. Cameroon President Paul Biya has called for international help in the war against the jihadists, saying that Boko Haram has become a global threat.
Vicar of Baghdad: ISIS Beheaded 4 Christian Children; They Said, ‘We Love [Jesus]’
Reverend Canon Andrew White, head of the only Anglican church in Iraq, described in a recent interview some of the atrocities committed against Iraqi Christians by the Islamic State, including the beheading of four children who refused to convert to Islam and told their killers, “We love Yeshua [Jesus], we have always loved Yeshua.” Canon White, known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” because of his church there, St. George’s, talked about the murders during an interview in Israel earlier this month with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). White, who was being hunted by Islamic State jihadis in Iraq, was ordered to go to Israel several weeks ago by his religious superior, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Canon White, who has multiple sclerosis that slightly affects his speech and movement, told CBN, “Things have gotten so bad in Iraq. They came to one of our people the other day, one of the Christians – two days, two stories. They said to one man, an adult, ‘Either you say the words of converting to Islam or we kill all your children.’”
“He was desperate, he said the words,” related Canon White. “And then he phoned me and said, ‘Abouna, Abouna [Father], I said the words, does that mean that Yeshua [Jesus] doesn’t love me any more? I said those words because I couldn’t see my children being killed. I said, ‘Elias, no, Jesus still loves you, he will always love you.’”
Canon White continued, “A few days later, another story of some of our young people. ISIS turned up and they said to the children, ‘You say the words that you will follow Mohammed.’”
“The children, all under 15, four of them,” he recounted, “they said, ‘No, we love Yeshua, we have always loved Yeshua, we have always followed Yesua. Yeshua has always been with us.’ They said, ‘Say the words!’ They said, ‘No, we can’t.’”
“They chopped all their heads off,” said Canon White. “How do you respond to that? You just cry.”
“They’re my children” spiritually, said Canon White. “That’s what we have been going through. That’s what we are going through.”
He then talked about how most of his church staff is in northern Iraq, helping the Christians, and that the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had ordered him to leave Iraq.
“They [ISIS] were threatening to kill me, they were after me,” said Canon White. “They wanted that Abouna [priest] from England. So, theArchbishop of Canterbury said, ‘You’ve got to leave now.’ I can’t argue with the archbishop of Canterbury, especially as he used to be my colleague. We used to work together. So, I’m in Israel now. He wanted me to get out of Baghdad.”
Women Are ‘Merely Property’ in ISIS’s Guide for Slave Owners
By James Morrison
ISIS is believed to be holding as many as 5,000 women and children of the minority Yazidi sect who were kidnapped in early August and are being held in the terrorist capital of Raqqa, Syria.
The document, issued by the ISIS “Department for Prisoners and Women’s Affairs,” explains which women can be held as slaves, when they can be beaten and when minor girls can be raped, among other rules for slave owners.
“Written in the form of questions and answers, it clarifies the position of Islamic law (as ISIS interprets it) on various relevant issues, and states, among other things, that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with non-Muslim slaves, including young girls, and that it is also permitted to beat them and trade in them,” MEMRI added.
Among the less lurid rules, the manual says Islam allows a slave owner to sell his captives, but he cannot separate a mother from her young daughter until the daughter becomes an adult.
“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property,” the document says.
The manual goes into some detail about disposing of the slaves of dead terrorists.
“Female captives are distributed as part of his estate, just as all [other parts] of his estate [are distributed],” it says.
A runaway slave has committed the “gravest of sins,” but sharia law proscribes no “earthly punishment,” the manual notes. She can be reprimanded, it adds.
The Telegraph newspaper in London reported that the department is headed by a terrorist known as Abu Suja. It enforces decisions made by the Shura Council, a religious advisory body that is supposed to study the Koran and interpret Sharia law. The members are appointed by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
PAKISTAN: Final Appeal for Woman Sentenced to Death over Cup of Water
Sources: Legal Evangelical Association Development, New York Times, Daily News
Following a confrontation while picking fruit with Muslim co-workers, Asia Bibi was accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Mohammed after drinking water from the village well. As a non-Muslim, the Christian mother of five was considered unfit to touch the water, thus making it impure. According to other witnesses, a group of men and women then began beating Asia, claiming that she had made derogatory remarks against Mohammed, a charge she denies. Several days later, blasphemy allegations were filed, resulting in the November 2010 conviction. (A previous report on Asia’s situation is available here.)
Four years later, after losing the initial appeal in the High Court of Lahore, Asia, who remained in prison on death row, is now sentenced to be hanged. Although acquittals are rare in blasphemy cases, on November 24th a second appeal was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Raising global criticism and serious concerns about the fairness of her trial, Amnesty International has called for her release. Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has also made a personal plea to Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, asking that the sentence be overturned. “My prison cell has no windows, and day and night are the same to me,” states Asia. “But if I am still holding on today, it is with thanks to everyone who is trying to help me.”
In a country where about 96 percent of the population is Muslim, Christians living in Pakistan constantly risk persecution in the form of threats, attacks, discrimination, and possible death. According to human rights defenders, the current blasphemy laws pose great dangers to Christians, as well as members of other religious minorities. Blasphemy remains a highly sensitive issue in this country, as even unproven allegations continue to erupt in violence. For a brief overview of such cases in this country, go to the Pakistan Country Report.
Women belonging to Iraq’s Yazidi minority, who follow a religion that is neither Christian nor Muslim, have borne much of the worst of the horrors to which Islamic State terrorists subject so-called “infidels.” Turned into sex slaves for and sold as wives to jihadists, the Iraqi doctors who treat them say the abuse is often beyond anything they have seen.
Speaking anonymously to Niqash, a publication focusing on Iraqi issues, doctors working in and around Mosul, the largest city in Iraq under Islamic State control, say Yazidis are among the most abused of those facing extinction at the hands of the terrorist group.
“It is a public, collective act of rape,” said one doctor, who remained anonymous for fear of retribution from Islamic State terrorists. “I treated about ten women and I was stunned to find one who was just 13 years old. Her mental and physical health were very bad,” he noted.
Another woman arrived in a such a state that doctors almost pronounced her dead. “She had been on a hunger strike after being raped by several of the IS gunmen and if she had not been brought to hospital, I am sure she would be dead by now,” the doctor said.
Another doctor in Mosul told the story of “Layla,” a Yazidi girl who is the focal point of the article, perhaps because hers was the story doctors could tell with the most detail. Layla was not a sex slave, but married off to a jihadist, one who forced her to convert to Islam and was clearly abusive. Layla was brought to live in the small town of Tal Afar, where her Arab neighbors noticed her deterioration, and finally one woman requested that her husband let her travel to Mosul for medical treatment. He, surprisingly, acquiesced, though demanding another Islamic State jihadist accompany the women.
A doctor described Layla as “pale and she had physical and psychological pain,” yet by virtue of being relatively intact, he said, “she was in better condition than some of the other Yazidi women we have treated here. Those women were beaten because they did not yield to the demands of the IS group members.”
The plight of Yazidi women during the Islamic State takeover of northern Iraq has become one of the most catastrophic humanitarian disasters of this war. The few that have escaped tell of a miserable existence in terrorist-run brothels, in which the jihadists force themselves by the dozen on the women, some barely adolescents. The brothels are often run by women, the wives of Islamic State jihadists or recruits to the Islamic State themselves, many from Western countries. While the number of Yazidis being subjected to this abuse remains unknown, it is estimated that it may be in the thousands, withreports of hundreds of Yazidi women being abducted in individual attacks on towns.
Slavery still a major problem in the world.
A joint study by Gallup and the Walk Free Foundation finds that the global scourge of slavery has now grown to include 35.8 million adults and children worldwide.
In raw numbers, India was found to have the highest number of slaves (14.3 million), followed by China (3.2 million), and Pakistan (2.1 million).
“When I refused to return, my father dug a deep hole in the ground. He forced me into it and began to bury me. I still wonder if he really would have buried me alive if the neighbours hadn’t heard my screaming and stopped him,” said Shahida.
“Religion and slavery are closely interrelated in Mauritania,” says the report. “Religion is often used by masters as justification for ownership over another person. Activists say some Imams (Islamic religious leaders) continue to speak in favour of slavery in mosques, particularly in rural areas.”
Poverty was found to be a risk factor for slavery; however, “poverty alone does not tell the whole story,” reports Gallup. Other drivers of modern slavery included belief systems and attitudes, as well as corruption and poor governance.
Children Sold for Sex by ISIS
Children sold on slave market as young as 6 years old for sex by ISIS.
A regulatory price list recently released by the Islamic State leadership shows that ISIS militants are selling captured Christian and Yazidi girls, as young as one to nine years old, as sex slaves and charging nearly three to four times the amount that they would charge for a grown woman.
A document obtained by IraqiNews.com, issued by the Islamic State, puports to be an updated price guide detailing how ISIS fighters must price their spoils of war, which include female slaves and cattle. The document, which is dated Oct. 16 and was first reported earlier this week, claims that ISIS’ sex slave and cattle trading markets have seen a recent decline in demand, and because of that, ISIS’ overall revenue has been affected.
The document states that price changes are needed in the face of ISIS’ declining revenue from those markets. The terrorists must now abide by the new pricing scheme, or else they could face execution for disobeying Islamic State law.
“In the name of Allah, most gracious and merciful. We have received news that the demand in women and cattle markets has sharply decreased and that will affect Islamic State revenues as well as the funding of the Mujaheddin in the battlefield,” the document states. “We have made some changes. Below are the prices of Yazidi and Christian women.”
Yazidi and Christian girls that are 10 to 20 years old are to be sold for nearly $129, while those aged 20 to 30 are to be sold for about $86. The cheapest of ISIS sex slave prices are for women that are 40 to 50 years old, who can be bought for 50,000 dinars, or $43, while 30 to 40 year olds would cost about $64.
The document also specifies that individuals may not purchase more than “three items” unless they are fighters from Turkey, Syria or the Gulf countries.
ISIS’ price guide was released a few days after a video spread across the Internet that purports to show ISIS fighters negotiating a trade of captured Yazidi women at one of the ISIS slave markets. In the videoed conversation, it becomes apparent that ISIS fighters charged more for girls with blue or green eyes.
ISIS’ biggest sex slave trade centers are based in their largest strongholds in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. As the Daily Mirror reported, females from the ISIS al-Khanssaa Brigade, which includes many female radicals from the U.K., are in charge of running the brothel in Raqqa.
“It is the British women who have risen to the top of the Islamic State’s sharia police and now they are in charge of this operation,” an unidentified source told the Daily Mirror. “They believe militants can use these women as they please as they are non-Muslims.”
While the prices that ISIS has now set for its female captives might not seem like a high price for human life, multiple teenage Yazidi captives, who escaped after they were sold by ISIS in Raqqa, explained earlier in October that they were sold for $1,000.
The Yazidi girls said they were brutally treated, underfed, forced into sex slavery, and in some cases, forced to change their name.
Although previous reports have indicated that ISIS relies heavily on trading young women and teenage girls, the IraqiNews.com report is the first indication that children younger than 10 are also subject to that same slave market.
In mid-October, the Islamic State tried to justify, through religious reasoning, why it is right for its fighters kidnap religious minority women and use them as sex slaves. In an article in the fourth edition of the ISIS English-language digital magazine called “Dabiq”, the group claims that Islamic law permits its fighters to take religious minority women as concubines.
“Before Shaytan [Satan] reveals his doubts to the weak-minded and weak hearted, one should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shari’ah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur’an and the narration of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam,” the article states.
Pakistani police have detained forty-three people believed to have taken part in a mob killing of a Christian couple who allegedly damaged a Koran. According to several reports, the couple was beaten to death by a hundreds-strong mob, who were enraged after hearing that their religion had apparently been insulted.
About 200 or so in the small Christian community of Lahore, Pakistan, took to the streets in hopes to raise awareness towards the country’s poor treatment of Christians. Some signs held by the protesters read, “Christian carnage in the name of blasphemy should be stopped” and “the government has failed to give protection to minorities,” the BBC reported.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recognized the need for more acceptable law enforcement practices, calling the mob-killing an “unacceptable crime.” He added, “a responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity. The Pakistani state has to act proactively to protect its minorities from violence and injustice.”
Even Pakistan’s Muslim community isn’t free from danger when accused of having “insulted” the country’s dominant religion.
On Thursday, a police officer hacked to death an individual who allegedly “insulted the Prophet” during an interrogation. The victim, Syed Tufali Haider, got into an argument with officers before hurling an insult about Mohamed. What the Daily Mail describe as a “senior Police Officer” then reportedly struck the detainee in the neck with an axe, which caused immediate death.
“Assistant Sub-Inspector Faraz Naveed, 36, became very angry on hearing the derogatory remarks against the companions of the Prophet and he killed the detainee with an axe in the lock up,” said an officer regarding the incident.
A recent Pew poll showed that 75 percent of Pakistanis believe: “Blasphemy laws are necessary to protect Islam in our country.” Pakistan’s blasphemy laws entail that insulting the prophet is punishable by death.
Forced Into Sexual Slavery by Poverty
Poverty, like the kind in Mao’s family, is common. According to a Millennium Development Goals’ report, close to 30 per cent of Cambodians lived in poverty in 2010. This extreme destitution can lead to an increase in children in the workforce—as families’ seek to add to their income. For Mao, ‘work’ was selling her body repeatedly. Several days after incident one, and still in pain from it, she accepted another offer. For all the shame she felt, she couldn’t see any other option.Mao’s final client happened to be a man who was being investigated by the Cambodian Department of Anti-human Trafficking and Minor Protection. This investigation led to Mao’s rescue from the perpetrator. Mao was sent to World Vision’s Trauma Recovery Center to treat her physical, emotional and psychological injuries. A New Dawn
Several months later, Mao has received counseling, as well as training in health issues, life skills and languages at the Centre. She has also discovered a newfound love: weaving.She is just about to start weaving a traditional Cambodian Krama, a type of scarf, which she’ll then sell.This young woman, who spent much of her childhood hiding her shame, vows to not let her past control her future.”I will share my difficult experience with friends who are living in poverty, and I will convince them not trade themselves, because if they fall into sexual slavery, they will be hurt and will regret it for their entire lives.”When you make the committment to sponsor a child, you’re also taking action against people who take advantage of vulnerable children like Mao. Your support will help ensure that communities and families have the resources to keep their children safe and healthy. Sponsor a child.*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Captured Women, Given as Award to Fighters
An Islamic State security official revealed that when ISIS seized the Yazidi religious minority region of Sinjar in northern Iraq in early August, ISIS militants separated virgin girls from the rest of the captured women for the sole purpose of designating them to be given away as sex prizes to ISIS fighters, a group of anti-Islamic State activists reported.
In an interview with the Syrian activist group called “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” and published to the group’s website on Saturday, an unnamed ISIS security official stationed in Raqqa highlighted the militant organization’s sex slave practices and revealed that Yazidi virgins were filtered out from Yazidi married women and mothers so that they could be awarded to ISIS fighters who contributed on the front lines for the militant group.
The ISIS source told the activist group that after battles in northern Iraq, the militants gathered all the detained religious minority women and “captured the virgins, without others.” The source said the virgins were then dispersed “exclusively” among the ISIS militants who participated in that particular battle in the region where the virgins were captured. The source added that the militants preferred virgins and did not concen themselves over married or pregnant women.
Once the ISIS militant had picked out his virgin, the girl would be forced to convert to Islam so that she could marry the militant, the ISIS official said. However, after the militant was done with his “wife” he could also divorce the girl so that he could “pass” the girl on to another ISIS fighter.
“After marrying her [and using her for sex], he might decide to divorce her and pass her onto another fighter,” the ISIS official said.
“The inner circle of leaders and security officials, and were careful that this issue should not be known as much as possible to the civilians,” the report stated.
Although the ISIS leaders in Raqqa are trying to hide the fact that they are shipping sex slaves in and out of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s practices of shipping sex slaves to Raqqa has been widely reported. A United Nations report from earlier this month that interviewed multiple witnesses stated that over 150 Christian and Yazidi women were transported to Raqqa on Aug. 5 to be sold as sex slaves. Testimony from a 15-year-old Yazid girl who escaped captivity as an ISIS sex slave published in early October states that she and 200 other Yazidi girls were also were transported to Raqqa to be sold as well.
Although the Raqqa Being Slaughtered Silently article quotes the ISIS officer as saying that the ISIS fighters separated the virgins and suggested that married women or mothers were not being used as sex slaves, the 15-year-old Yazidi girl said that in her experiences, ISIS militants have used married women and mothers as sex slaves and have sometimes chosen not to believe that a woman is married if she has no way to prove it.
The Telegraph was the first to report the English analysis of the interview by the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently group, which was conducted in Arabic. However, neither The Telegraph nor the activist group were able to verify the claims.
But in mid October, the Islamic State issued a justification in the fourth edition of its English magazine, Dabiq, for using Yazidi and other religious minority women as sex slaves, claiming that in jihad there is a clear difference between a muslim woman and the women of religious minority sects, which they label with the term “mushrikin”.
“Their women could be enslaved, unlike female [Muslims].” The Dabiq article stated.
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men’s families to travel great distances to see
“We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
“We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party.”
The sentences were handed down by Judge Asef al-Hosseini of the Iranian court. Irani, who has faced serious health issues while in prison, was ordered to serve his punishment in a prison in the northern city of Zabol, while pastor Haghnejad and deacon Rabbani will be transferred to a prison in Minab, an island in the Persian Gulf.
Irani now faces a total of 12 years behind bars, having been initially arrested in December 2006 for “action against the state” and “action against the order.”
Back in September, the evangelical Christian leader was hit by 18 new charges, including one of “spreading corruption on Earth,” which carries the death penalty.
Irani, who led a 300-member Church of Iran in Karaj city near the capital Tehran, has suffered from serious health problems, including severe bleeding due to stomach ulcers and colon complications. There were concerns that he had been executed without notice by Iranian authorities back in June after going missing for nearly three weeks, but was then finally reported back in prison.
Christians have faced a wave of persecution under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, with pastors routinely imprisoned for their faith. Another famous case of a Christian pastor behind bars in Iran includes Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen who has been the subject of an international campaign calling for his release.
CSW noted that the continuing persecution of religious and ethnic minorities under the Rouhani regime has occurred despite initial promises that Iran would uphold the rights of religious minorities during the elections process in 2013.
ASIA BIBI TO RECEIVE DEATH SENTENCE FOR “BLASPHEMY” IN PAKISTAN. HER CRIME: SHE IS A CHRISTIAN
The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called on Pakistan’s Supreme Court to be prompt in hearing the appeal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children whose death sentence for “blasphemy” was upheld by the Lahore High Court this week.
CSW also called for proper security for Bibi, whose appeal was rejected by the Lahore High Court Thursday.
The Christian mother has “endured grueling conditions in nearly four years of detention on death row, much of it spent in solitary confinement,” CSW said in a statement. “Her health has suffered and she has had severe restrictions on visitors.”
The Christian rights group explained that her prolonged detention is partly due to security concerns, as blasphemy law victims are often attacked by Islamist extremists. “There has been a lack of progress in her case, with five hearings cancelled this year alone, as well as the intimidation of judges and lawyers.”
Bibi’s lawyers have said they will now appeal the death sentence in the Supreme Court, which is the only hope.
“We are disappointed and terribly upset over the decision, however we look forward to the appeal in the Supreme Court, with optimism and with the hope that the Supreme Court of Pakistan will do justice in this case,” Michelle Chaudhry, president of the Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation, was quoted as saying.
Bibi “has wrongly been convicted of blasphemy,” Chaudhry added. “We remain optimistic that the rule of law will prevail and justice will be done. For now that is our only hope.”
Bibi was sentenced in 2010 following an incident the previous year where she was harvesting berries with a group of Muslim women in Sheikhupura. The Muslim women accused her of drinking from the same water bowl as them, which was considered unclean as she is a Christian. Following an argument, the women went to a local cleric and told him that Bibi had blasphemed against Islam.
Bibi’s appeal hearing was initially scheduled to take place on March 17, but was delayed and rescheduled, before finally taking place Thursday.
“We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the Lahore High Court,” CSW’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said, calling the sentence “a tragic reminder of the continued abuse of the dysfunctional blasphemy laws and the underlying weaknesses in Pakistan’s justice system.”
“Deeply-rooted problems of prejudice, inefficiency, corruption, and under-resourcing are amplified in blasphemy cases, and even more so for religious minorities,” Dipper added. “The only hope she has for justice is when the case is heard in the Supreme Court.”
CSW urged Pakistan’s Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk to consider Bibi’s case “with the utmost urgency, and to ensure her safety both throughout and after the process.”
The rights group pointed to a June 19 Supreme Court judgment recommending the establishment of “a special bench to entertain complaints of violations of fundamental rights of minorities in the country.”
A proactive approach to providing justice for Bibi would prove the Supreme Court’s commitment to ensuring fundamental human rights and justice for all citizens of Pakistan, it said.
killed a Sunni Imam because he had denounced the terrorist organization. Then on Aug. 31, witnesses say that 19 Sunnis were executed for failing to pledge allegiance to the group and then on Sept. 9 another Sunni Imam was executed for the same reason.
New Iran Bible Debuts as 460 Prayer Vigils Seek To ‘Save Saeed’
Update (Sept. 29): World Watch Monitor reports on the new translation of the Bibleinto modern Persian and how some of its contributors were martyred.
Supporters of Christians in Iran observed two significant milestones this week—one discouraging and one encouraging.
Two years ago, Idaho pastor Saeed Abedini made one of his frequent trips to Iran. A convert from Islam to Christianity, the Iranian-American citizen had been warned by the Muslim nation against his involvement with house churches, so he had returned instead to continue building a government-approved orphanage. While there, Abedini was pulled off a bus, charged with undermining national security, andsentenced to eight years in prison.
The sentence has resulted in torture and beatings and pressure to recant for Abedini, whose American wife and two children live in Boise, Idaho. His release has been requested by Billy Graham, President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the United Nations.
Today more than 460 prayer vigils will be held in 30 countries and territories to draw more attention to his plight on the second anniversary of his imprisonment.
“Pastor Saeed has become the face of the persecuted Christian church worldwide, one of many Christians around the world who face imprisonment, beatings and even death for their faith,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
However, Abedini is only one of at least 60 Christians in Iran—which contains between 200,000 and 750,000 Christians—currently in prison, according to Middle East Concern (MEC).
“A worrying development is the serious charges being leveled against church leaders,” MEC noted. In August, a leader within the Church of Iran denomination was charged with “moharebeh,” which means “enmity against God” and can carry the death sentence. Since then, he has also been charged with “mofsed-e-filarz,” which translates to “spreading corruption on Earth.” This charge also carries the death sentence, MEC said.
Two other Christians have also been charged with “mofsed-e-filarz,” which has traditionally been applied to political or religious dissenters. More than 8,000 people have likely been executed under this charge since 1979, according to MEC, which is also concerned about eight men killed for “moharebeh” already this year.
Elam Ministries is championing the cause of Farshid Fathi, who has been imprisoned for twice as long as Abedini and was recently relocated to the same prison. Activism on Abedini’s behalf has dwarfed activism on Fathi’s behalf. The “Save Saeed” campaign has garned 290,000 supporters, while the “Free Farshid” campaign hasyet to break 4,000.
Voice of the Martyrs highlights Fathi and two other Iranian pastors on its alert list of16 notable imprisoned Christians. Of notable released prisoners, Iran’s Youcef Nadarkhani was jailed for 1,062 days.
This summer has been a tough one for Iranian Christians. Iran has been stepping up persecution of house churches, including torture and beatings, Morning Star News (MSN) reports.
The assaults are meant to scare those who belong to house churches, one observer told MSN. “These beatings are not being kept hidden at all. It’s being done to make it quite visual when relatives come to the prison to visit. If they see what happened and they pass on the information to the church community; it’s a tactic of intimidation.”
As a tactic, it appears to be backfiring. Iran is seeing a record number of conversions, according to Elam. The crackdown seems to be making the faith more appealing to Iranians disillusioned with their government.
And this week, Elam celebrated a “massive milestone” for the Iranian church: a new translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into Persian.
In an email to supporters, Elam’s U.S. director David Yeghnazar announced that 500 Chrisitan leaders from 40 countries came to London for the dedication ceremony of the New Millennium Version. “The meeting was a magnificent proclamation of the global church’s commitment to the Bible,” he stated.
The project’s original translator was murdered shortly after it began in 1994; the first copies were given to family members of other Iranians martyred for their faith. (Full announcement below.)
Iran has been designated a Country of Particular Concern since 1999 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. This summer, Congress created a special envoy to promote religious freedom in the Middle East, but the position has not yet been filled.
CT has reported on Abedini’s sentencing, torture, and pressure to convert back to Islam, along with the best way to help save him. CT also covered house pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s imprisonment and release, and talked with Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh after they spent eight months in Iran’s most notorious prison for their faith.
CT’s previous coverage of Iran includes how it is one of the world’s hardest countries in which to be a Christian, but also one with excellent evangelists and arecord number of baptisms.
Announcment from Elam:
How I wish all of you could have been with us on Monday night. Over five hundred people, mainly Chrisitan leaders, came to London for the dedication service of Elam’s new translation of the Bible in Persian. Over a hundred had flown in specially for the meeting from about forty different countries. The meeting was a magnificent proclamation of the global church’s commitment to the Bible.
It was a tremendous honour that Juliet Michaelian, the widow of Rev.Tateos Michaelian, was with us for the dedication. In May 1994, right at the start of this Bible project, Elam’s director, my father Sam Yeghnazar, had written to his friend Tateos Michaelian, Iran’s most experienced translator, asking him to take a leading role in the work. He accepted the invitation, but one month later Tateos Michaelian was shot dead. He was murdered for his faith.
It was fitting that the translation project was then called, ‘The Michaelian Project’. It was a very emotional moment on Monday evening when my father gave the very first copy of the new Bible to Tateos Michaelian’s widow, Juliet. The next copy was given to Tateos Michaelian’s grand-daughter. Copies were then also given to the members of other families who had endured the martyrdom of a loved one in recent years.
My father also presented the new Bibles to the project co-ordinator, Rev. Dr Mehrdad Fatehi and his wife Mojdeh, the chief administrator and also an exegetical checker. They led a team of over thirty translators and specialists for nearly twenty years. Every single verse was checked to ensure the text was the most accurate translation possible from the original Hebrew or Greek.
Then the Bibles – which are beautifully bound – were handed round the whole auditorium. There was then an intense time of intercession for the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who will soon receive this new translation which is known as the ‘New Millennium Version’.
The title for our evening was, ‘New Bible, New Iran’. We believe that when a country receives a new translation of the Bible, the church is always strengthened.
Teenage Girl Who Escaped ISIS Tells of Rape, Forced
Conversion by Islamic Militants
A teenage girl at a refugee camp in Iraq who escaped from ISIS militants has described some of the atrocities being committed by the terror group, including forced conversion to Islam and the rape of young women by ISIS leaders.
“In Mosul they tried to make us change our faith and religion,” a 15-year old girl identified as “Aria” told CNN at the Khanke refugee camp in northwest Iraq. “They said to us, ‘Read our Quran.’ A couple of the girls said, ‘We never went to school — we can’t read.’ I couldn’t understand the Quran.”
Aria was kidnapped over six weeks ago while her family was trying to flee by car from their home in Sinjar, knowing that ISIS militants were coming. A convoy of vehicles carrying the terror group’s black flags surrounded them, and the young girl was taken.
“They forced us out of the car,” Aria said. “The girls and women were separated from the men, including my 19-year-old brother. But they only took the girls, forcing us into a minivan.”
The women were then driven to Mosul, where ISIS has created a stronghold, and taken to a house where they were locked with other teenage girls who had been captured.
“He forced himself on her. I was so scared. A lot of my friends were raped. It’s hard to talk about it,” she said.
“I see their faces all the time,” Aria continued. “I have nightmares. I can’t stop thinking about how they forced themselves onto the girls. I have seen and been through too much.”
ISIS, which is active in Iraq and Syria, has been accused of beheading children and carrying out mass rapes in the region.
“They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for a generation. There’s actually a park in Mosul that they’ve actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick,” National spokesman for Iraqi Christians and Chaldean-American businessman Mark Arabo said in a previous interview.
“And they have them in the park. This is crimes against humanity. The whole world should come together. This is much broader than a community or faith. This is crimes against humanity and they are doing the most horrendous, the most heartbreaking things you can think of,” he explained.
Other victims who have managed to escape the terror group, including a 13-year-old boy identified as Mohammed, have also said that ISIS isindoctrinating boys into their ideology at children’s camp, where the militants carry out beheadings, stonings and crucifixions.
Aria and a friend managed to escape by calling her friend’s uncle who knew people that were prepared to help. The girls put on veils and broke through the door in the house where they were being kept, and later the uncle’s friends were able to take them to a safe house on Fallujah.
When she was reunited with her family, Aria learnt that her brother had been killed.
“That made me very sad. I only had one brother. He was only married for six months. I was sad to hear this. They killed him and other men when they took me. They shot him in the head. My mother slept next to my brother’s body all night.”
She said that she is also haunted by guilt that ISIS members raped the other girls at the house once they discovered Aria and her friend had left.
“They raped them because we escaped. That was the punishment. They tightened security so no girls can escape anymore,” the girl said. “I have to live with that.”
Nigerian Christian leaders have said that Islamic terror group Boko Haram has killed over 350 Christians in just the past week, forcing the closure of churches and Christian schools.
Officials from the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) said that the country’s Kulp Bible College along with several churches have been forcibly shut down due to the ongoing hostilities, according to Morning Star News.
Over the weekend, the Church President Samuel Dali said that Boko Haram was continuing to advance towards the doorstep of his community, forcing many to flee for fear of their lives. Dali said:
Boko Haram violence has been getting worse every day, and our members are fleeing the area by the thousands. Recent attacks in Borno and Adamawa states where our churches are located have seen Boko Haram take over the Army base. As a result, about 350 Christians have been killed. Every night at the EYN headquarters, our staff and their families go to bed with hearts bound in fear for their lives. This have forced them to be prepared to flee anytime of the night in an event an attack occurs during the hours of darkness.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau recently announced in an online video that his Boko Haram terror outfit was declaring the formation of an Islamic State in northeast Nigeria, one that will be governed under the ruthless Shariah law, a religious Islamic political structure that treats women and religious minorities as second-class citizens.
Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau
The Nigeria-based jihadi group largely shares the identical ideology of the Islamic State terror entity that is ravaging Iraq and Syria, which has also announced the establishment of its own Islamic caliphate. Both groups seek the formation of a Muslim world united behind a Sunni caliphate that is governed under the Shariah.
Boko Haram has recently taken to beheading male opponents and forcing christian women to marry them and convert to Islam, according to a CBN news report.
Boko Haram captured the eye of the American public in April when the jihadi group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls, who are still being held in captivity to this day. Boko Haram has been responsible for the deaths of some 4,000 Nigerians in this year alone.
SEXUAL JIHAD NOW A REALITY
Muslim women sympathetic to the cause of the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, are reportedly offering up their bodies for sex to comfort militant members of the group in a practice known as Jihad Al-Nikah, or sexual jihad. According to a 16-year-old girl who was repeatedly subjected to the practice, it is nothing more than rape that made her so sick, she passed out.
Senior intelligence officials in Malaysia, told The Malaysian Insider that at least three Malaysian women had travelled from that country to the Middle East to join ISIS specifically for sexual jihad.
The controversial practice began in 2013 after a Wahhabi edict called for Sunni Muslim women to present themselves for sexual jihad in order to boost the confidence of men fighting Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria, according to the Insider.
“These women are believed to have offered themselves in sexual comfort roles to ISIS fighters who are attempting to establish Islamic rule in the Middle East. This concept may seem controversial but it has arisen as certain Muslim women here are showing sympathy for the ISIS struggle,” an unidentified intelligence official told The Malaysian Insider.
The official said one of the Malaysian women travelled to the Middle East last December.
“The woman, in her 30s, went to Turkey before meeting up with middlemen who helped her to complete her journey to Syria via land routes,” said the official. Another woman in her 40s also joined ISIS in April.
The source pointed out that Muslim women were travelling from several countries to join ISIS for the sexual jihad.
“Intelligence exchanged with other countries revealed that Sunni Muslim women from Australia and the United Kingdom had also joined up with ISIS,” said the official.
The official explained that shortly after ISIS took over the city of Mosul in Iraq, where all the Christians were reportedly chased out in June, the militants issued a conscription of sexual Jihad.
“Shortly after the town of Mosul in Iraq was captured by ISIS forces, people were ordered to send unmarried women to jihad for sex,” said the official. “In its proclamation, ISIS threatened to impose sharia law on all those who failed to comply with the edict or decree.”
A teenage girl from Syria, however, who was offered up for sexual jihad by her father to rebels linked to Al-Qaeda, described her experience last year as brutal rape which she was forced to endure repeatedly even though it made her sick.
“While I was taking a shower, a man came in and he was about over the age of 50 and he was wearing nothing but normal clothes….he started to come close to me in the bathroom but he didn’t care … the room was small and I was screaming and yelling…so he grabbed me by the hair and took me to the room,” she explained in a YouTube clip.
“I was screaming, yelling my father could hear me but never hesitated to do anything or come to take the man away from me. He (man) did what he did, unstrapped and at the same time another man came. The first one was not even done yet and another one [came] into the room,” she continued.
She explained that she lost consciousness and eventually fell ill after she was raped repeatedly. She explained that she was eventually saved by Syrian soldiers after she called for help at a check point while on her way to a sexual jihad with her mother later on.
_________________________________________________________________________________JAMES FOLEY WAS TORTURED AND CRUCIFIED TO A WALL BEFORE BEHEADING.
(Daily Mail) James Foley was singled out for the harshest treatment by his ISIS captors after they found pictures of his brother who serves in the U.S. Air Force on his laptop computer, fellow prisoners said on Thursday.
He was regularly the victim of mock executions including once when he was ‘crucified against a wall,’ said French journalist Didier Francois. Francois, 53, told Europe 1 Radio that the captors gave Foley rougher treatment from the rest of them because they discovered a picture of John Foley — the hostage’s 35-year-old officer brother — on his computer.
Giving an insight into the physical and mental torture the hostages endured at the hands of the terrorists, Francois called Foley ‘one of the pillars of the group,’ who ‘never cracked even under the most difficult conditions’. ‘He was an extraordinary guy, an extremely nice companion in detention, very solid.
Francois described the conditions in which all the hostages were held in Syria, as always ‘rough and sometimes violent.’
A second French hostage, Nicolas Henin, who spent seven months in captivity with Foley in Syria, including a week during which they were handcuffed together, said the American was always seen as ‘some kind of scapegoat’ by his captors. ‘Being an American he was probably more targeted by the kidnappers. Well, he would be beaten a bit more probably, he was some kind of scapegoat,’ Henin told the BBC. ‘And the kidnappers knew that his brother was in the U.S. Air Force,’ added Henin, who was released in April.
‘He became the whipping-boy of the jailers but remained unperturbed’. The hostages were led by Foley’s British killer ‘John’ – ringleader of gang of British jihadis known as ‘The Beatles’, who guarded western hostages for ISIS. Francois, 53, said he has ‘a rough idea’ as to the identity of the left-handed killer.
US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into his death.
Full story is at Daily Mail.
Boko Haram abduct dozens of boys in northeast Nigeria: witnesses
MAIDUGURI Nigeria (Reuters) – Suspected Islamist Boko Haram fighters have abducted dozens of boys and men in a raid on a remote village in northeast Nigeria, loading them onto trucks and driving them off, witnesses who fled the violence said on Friday.
The kidnappings came four months after Boko Haram, which is fighting to reinstate a medieval Islamic caliphate in religiously mixed Nigeria, abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok. They are still missing.
Several witnesses who fled after Sunday’s raid on Doron Baga, a sandy fishing village near the shores of Lake Chad, said militants clothed in military and police uniforms had burned several houses and that 97 people were unaccounted for.
“They left no men or boys in the place; only young children, girls and women,” said Halima Adamu, sobbing softly and looking exhausted after a 180 km (110 mile) road trip on the back of a truck to Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno.
“They were shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is greatest), shooting sporadically. There was confusion everywhere. They started parking our men and boys into their vehicles, threatening to shoot whoever disobeyed them. Everybody was scared.”
They said six older men were also killed in Sunday’s raid, while another five people were wounded.
Boko Haram, seen as the number one security threat to Africa’s top economy and oil producer, has dramatically increased attacks on civilians in the past year, and what began as a grassroots movement has rapidly lost popular support as it becomes more bloodthirsty.
Its tactic – kidnapping boys and forcing them to fight and abducting girls as sex slaves – is a chilling echo of Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, which has operated in Uganda, South Sudan and central Africa for decades.
The military did not respond to a request for comment. A security source said they were aware of the incident but were still investigating the details.
“I am appalled to see reports of another large abduction by terrorists in the northeast of Nigeria.” British Minister for Africa James Duddridge said in an emailed statement.
“Officials at the British High Commission in Abuja are urgently looking into the details. The UK stands firmly with Nigeria as it faces the scourge of Boko Haram.”
Britain and the United States have offered help to try to find the missing Chibok girls, but there has been no success yet.
The kidnappers overpowered local vigilantes who had no support because this is no military presence there, the villagers said.
Talatu Abubakar, another villager who fled to Maiduguri, said the invaders had taunted the men for being unable to defend themselves.
“They were shouting ‘Where is your pride? You people used to be warriors. Today you are all just women, not as brave as we thought’,” he said.
He said that from his Hadeija clan alone, some 47 people were missing and feared to have been abducted.
The raid shows how mobile Boko Haram units can be.
After a military offensive in May last year broke their hold on the area around Lake Chad in the far northeast of Borno state, the rebels relocated to the south of the state, near the Cameroon border nearly 300 km (190 miles) away. Chibok, where the girls were abducted, is in this area.
Their re-appearance in the area demonstrates their ability to move across vast swathes of northeastern Nigeria without being intercepted by the military.
Nigerian forces are overstretched against a determined foe. In the past week they have fought gun battles with Boko Haram Islamists in two key towns in the south of Borno – Gwoza, the security sources said, and the garrison town of Damboa, which the militants sacked a month ago.
————————————————————————————————————————————————-Christian persecution in Iraq leads to beheadings and crucifixion while west looks on.
The reports coming out of Iraq are horrendous. Christian homes have been marked with the sign of theNazarene for slaughter. Children are beheaded and even crucified. Christian women are being sold as sex slaves.
This jihadist army has unleashed unthinkable atrocities on Christians in the region. It is believed that over 400,000 Christians have been displaced from their homes. ISIS militants gave them an ultimatum: leave or face “death by the sword.”
They are fleeing in droves, but it is not stopping the onslaught of ISIS.
Iraq’s Christians are crying out in desperation for aid from the West, from America.
A spokesman for Iraq’s Christians, Mark Arabo, says ISIS is engaged in “a full-blown genocide.”
Well, ISIS did a convert or die campaign. They eradicated all Christians from their villages. The reason why it’s a genocide? Two reasons: Targeted displacements and targeted killings. They’ve taken away their passports, they massacred men. They’ve raped women. They’re displaced from their homes. They actually mark their homes with ISIS red death stamp of N, which stands for Nazarene and they’re systematically trying to wipe off the oldest Christians in the world. . . .
I think the whole world should join us hand by hand, shoulder by shoulder for humanity. This – these are crimes against humanity. Let’s work together with the United Nations to offer asylum, offer a home for these people. . . .
Right now, we should do everything we can to save their lives, whether it be air lifting them, whether it be establishing a safe zone. Currently, there is no safe haven for Christians and they’re massacring them one by one. We’re getting hundreds of phone calls from Americans that have family in Iraq that are telling us the most horrendous stories and we have to act. As a world community, for humanity, we must act.
He reiterated that Iraqi Christians are begging the Obama Administration, the United Nations, anyone who will listen, to come to their aid.
President Obama acted, slowly, in response to a religious minority trapped on top of a mountain, but what about the Christians facing mass genocide? We can be doing more. We must do more.
The international Christian ministry Open Doors has called it the “worst genocide since Rwanda.” Pope Francis has called for international action saying, “Our brothers are being persecuted, chased away,” and urged the world’s nations to “adopt measures to protect those who are threatened by violence and assure them necessary aid.” He went even further, saying there are “more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries.”
That is the stark reality that Christians in Iraq face today.
At the ACLJ, were working with Members of Congress to provide aid to Christians and arms to the people of Kurdistan who are willing and able to defend these Christians from ISIS terror. The Obama Administration must not stand by as Christians are slaughtered, massacred, by the evil that is ISIS.
Maryam & Marziyeh
In their first interview since their release, Maryam Rostampour (29) and Marziyeh Amirizadeh (32) speak about what life in prison in Iran was like.
They share how they had strengthened themselves in the Lord to overcome the fear of execution or life-imprisonment and maintain peace and hope through very dark days.
Maryam: When we were arrested, most of the guards treated us badly, especially when they knew we had been involved in evangelism. They would curse us and would not let us drink water from the public tap or use the wash basin.
This changed evenutally and they began asking us to pray for them.
Marziyeh: I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support, and the letters you sent us. This was a great encouragement for us. We felt your presence alongside us. So please keep praying for those who are in prison for their faith. Dont’ think that your prayers are unimportant.
Marziyeh: Some of the prisoners called us ‘dirty, unclean, apostates,’ but their opinion changed and they asked for forgiveness. We had become an example to them and they would take our side.
Marziyeh: We heard that people sent us letters in prison, however we didn’t get any of them: Just hearing the people sent us letters was a great encouragement to us. And what’s interesting is that the guards who opened our letters and read the Bible verses and the prayers were impacted. We know this because they told us and mentioned some of the verses from the Gospel.
Maryam: I thank them. It’s true we didn’t see the letters they sent, but we knew there was a large group supporting us. This was a huge encouragement to us and helped us to stand firm. We heard from our guards that 40 – 50 letters were coming every day. They saw how Christians stood together to support their own. This was something that gave us hope.
————————————————————————————————————————————————-ISIS is in the process of destroying the entire Christian community in Northern Iraq. This hate group of Islamic terrorists have a free hand to undo 2000 years of Christianity while the Western nations wilfully remain blind to this atrocity. Please continue to pray for these brothers and sisters as they suffer under the storm of persecution.
|IRAQ: Christians Forced to Flee Upon Threat of DeathSources: Middle East Concern, Release International, CNN
Christians in Iraq, and especially those from the city of Mosul, are enduring yet more hardship and persecution because of their faith. The militant group called the “Islamic State” (previously known as ISIS), which is presently in control of Mosul, summoned Christian leaders to a meeting on July 17th to notify them of Islamic rules that are to be applied to non-Muslims. When the Christian leaders did not attend this meeting, it was announced that the remaining believers in the city should leave, pay a “protection” tax, or face execution. The Christians were also ordered to leave all of their property behind.
The ultimatum was initially set for noon on July 18th, but was then extended by 24 hours. Earlier, the Islamic State (IS) sought the takeover of houses belonging to members of minority communities by marking them with the phrase “property of the Islamic State” — including homes that were still inhabited by families. Christian houses were marked with the letter “N” for “Nazarite.”
It is believed that most Christian families have now fled from Mosul, many to areas of northern Iraq under Kurdish control. Some fleeing families were reportedly stopped at checkpoints manned by IS militants who ruthlessly confiscated their personal belongings, including money, jewelry and mobile phones.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda, said of this upsetting news: “Christians have lost their trust in the land and in the future. Since 2003, two-thirds of the Christians have left the country. June was the first month in 1,600 years in which Mosul did not celebrate any mass. The attack on Christians has been immense.” To view a recent BBC video clip about this situation, click here.
Trusting that God is ultimately in control, pray that He will use even these devastating events for His greater purposes. May His suffering children not despair or grow weary while under such severe trial, but look to Him for daily sustenance, strength and grace. Pray that those who have been forced to flee their homes will find safe refuge in other areas of the country, so that they may begin to rebuild their lives. Please also intercede for the militants of IS, asking God to work powerfully in their hearts so that they may turn from evil and instead embrace Jesus Christ as Lord. For it is God’s desire that Iraq become a country where Christians can live peaceably and continue with the building of His Kingdom without threat of danger or loss.
In light of the immense needs facing our persecuted family in Iraq, VOMC is working with our trusted partners to provide emergency relief and pharmaceutical support. To join us in this vital work, please visit our website or contact our office by phone at 1-888-298-6423.
Sharia in action–
ISIS terrorists stoned a woman to death after she was accused of adultery.
ISIS terrorists held their first public stoning in Raqqa province in Syria on Thursday. A woman accused of adultery was stoned to death in a public square
The Daily Star reported:
It was the first “execution” of its kind by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) group in Syria, which has proclaimed the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq.
“ISIS carried out its first sentence of death by stoning against a woman in Tabaqa, accusing her of adultery,” said the Britain-based Observatory, referring to a town in Raqa province, most of which is under ISIS control.
An activist in the province confirmed the report, and said the stoning took place in a public square in the Tabaqa market area Thursday evening.
“This is the first time that this has happened here,” added Abu Ibrahim.
Meriam Ibrahim Reveals Baby Daughter Will Undergo Ultrasound to See if She Can Walk; Family Hopes for US Move
(Photo: Screen Grab via YouTube/ITN)Baby Maya was born in a Sudanese jail while her mother Meriam Ibrahim was in shackles. Meriam (pictured with husband Daniel Wani in inset) was sentenced to hang this month for her Christian faith.
Sudanese Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim said that her newborn daughter Maya, whom she gave birth to while in prison, will undergo an ultrasound to see if she can walk. Her family is currently staying at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan and hoping to be able to move to America soon.
While previous reports suggested that Maya is physically disabled, The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that hopes are now that the two-month-old girl will be fine, but the ultrasound will be needed to confirm that she will be able to walk. A doctor who came to the U.S. embassy in Khartoum performed the physical examination.
The publication says that it spoke with Italian journalist and activist Antonella Napoli, who visited Ibrahim’s family at th U.S embassy, and revealed that Meriam, her two children, and her husband Daniel Wani, an American citizen, are sleeping in the embassy and are being cared for by staff.
Fears were that Maya, who was born in jail while her mother was in shackles, could be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, like her father, who has muscular dystrophy.Ibrahim had initially been sentenced to death for marrying Wani, a Christian, as the Sudanese court recognized her as a Muslim and charged her with apostasy and adultery.
Following an international outcry for her release, led by several persecution watchdog groups, Ibrahim was freed from prison in June after an appeals court found the lower court’s death penalty sentence to be unfounded. As Ibrahim’s family tried to fly out of Sudan and head for the U.S., however, she was re-arrested and accused of using forged travel documents.
Ibrahim and Wani were released from the police station shortly after, but remain in legal limbo as they try to find a way to come to the U.S. and seek refuge there.
U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) and other American lawmakers have pushed for Ibrahim to be granted safe passage, and on Tuesday backed the passage of H. R. 4653, a bill which reauthorizes the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal commission aimed at defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
“As someone with deeply-held religious convictions, I believe that everyone has the fundamental right to profess their faith and practice their religion wherever in the world they may live. As Miriam Ibrahim remains safe but in legal limbo at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, it is imperative we maintain vigilance in protecting religious freedom abroad,” said Rep. Hultgren.
“By nature, every human being is given certain rights, including the fundamental right of belief, which no government can justly attack. It is in the common interest of humankind to defend those persecuted for expressing their beliefs and practicing their religion.”
Napoli, who is one of the few journalists to speak with Ibrahim after her release, attested that “Meriam knows that her and her family will be safe only when they will be very far from away from Sudan.”
Napoli added that the Sudanese mother was in “good physical and mental condition, although she’s naturally been tested by this experience.”
“When I started to talk to her she was keeping her eyes down,” she noted. “It was difficult for her to meet my gaze. Her hands were folded in her lap as if to protect herself. Her experience in the prison was shocking.
The journalist said that the family is very thankful for all the people around the world who have rallied to petition for Ibrahim’s release and safety.
|LAOS: Christians Charged with Murder after Praying for Health ConcernSources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Morning Star News, Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious FreedomA church leader and four other Christians in a village located within Savannakhet Province have been charged by authorities with murder after praying for a sick woman who later died. The deceased, who has only been identified by her surname, “Chan,” had been ill for two years with an unknown condition. Various kinds of healers and doctors in her village of Saisomboon had treated her without success. However, when a church leader named Kaithong prayed for her, she became well for a short time. Chan and her eight grown children converted to Christianity in April. However, she suddenly passed away on June 21st, after which time her family began making arrangements for a Christian funeral.Although the village chief originally granted permission for the funeral, on June 22nd, the chief and local police ordered the Christians to stop the funeral proceedings. Chan’s children were also pressured to sign an affidavit recanting their faith. These new young believers refused, insisting that their mother be buried with a Christian funeral ceremony.The following day, Kaithong appealed the case with the chief of Atsaphangthong district. However, the next afternoon, the police arrived at Chan’s home, where grieving family and friends had been gathering, and arrested Kaithong. Four other Christians — Puphet, Muk, Hasadee and Tiang — were also apprehended. The village chief then arranged for some monks to conduct a Buddhist ceremony and burial.The village chief and police also reportedly forced one of Chan’s daughters to sign a statement claiming that Kaithong had given Chan medication, which they allege is the cause of her death. All five detainees have now been implicated in what the accusers say is murder; although, at last report, it is unclear whether or not they have been formally charged.Please bring this heartbreaking case to the Lord, asking Him to intervene for these brothers and sisters in Christ who were wrongfully arrested and charged while grieving the sudden loss of their dear loved one. May the truth soon be revealed so that these believers can be released from detention and returned to their families. Also remember in prayer all those who are mourning the death of Chan. May they find comfort in knowing that she is now experiencing life to the fullest in heaven. Pray that her children will have the strength and determination to continue following Jesus and resist the pressure to recant. Finally, please also intercede on behalf of the authorities involved in this case, praying that they instead seek justice and truth for these falsely accused Christians.
The Chaldean Catholic Church’s Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, in Kurdish-governed Northern Iraq, is reported as saying that for the first time in 1600 years there was no Mass said in Mosul on Sunday June 15th. This is the city taken over days before by ISIS forces.
Reports say the estimated 3,000 or so Christians still there (from about 35,000 in 2003) all fled ahead of the militias’ takeover of control, although some families were reported to have returned. They cited lack of job prospects and shelter once they’d become internally displaced, or refugees in Kurdish Iraq.
Amongst those fleeing Mosul, World Watch Monitor met families sheltering in a Christian-dominated district of Erbil, Ankawa.
The largely Christian town of Qaraqosh is, 32 miles southeast of Mosul. Its official Arabic name is Baghdeda; there were about 70,000 Christians living in the area.
On Wednesday 25th June, Kurdish Peshmerga forces engaged with the ISIS – also called Daash – militias who were trying to move into Qaraqosh. WWM has seen direct messages confirming that there was bombing of Qaraqosh, during which two Christian families were reported killed by mortars.
Locals believe that it was ISIS which carried out the bombing.
However today (Thursday) Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has confirmed that Syrian government jets have bombed ISIS in other parts of northern Iraq.
Reports today (Thursday) from locals say that the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, fighting with local Christian residents, were able to repel ISIS from Qaraqosh, especially after 1000 Peshmerga troop reinforcements arrived. Locals say after that, from about 10pm, the situation in the town became quieter, while some news agencies say Qaraqosh is now completely abandoned.
Qaraqosh residents initially started to flee to the churches of another nearby Christian town of Karamles. However, from mid-afternoon Wednesday, thousands of cars with people from Qaraqosh and Karamles were seen waiting at the Kurdish-controlled checkpoint to enter Erbil, a safe haven to the north across the ‘border’ into Kurdistan. Other families headed for Dohuk, about an hour’s drive directly north of Mosul. About 40 Christian families reached Erbil’s Ankawa district where they found temporary shelter at a center for elderly people.
They gave accounts of rockets falling near Qaraqosh houses, one of a Christian man, Rammo; as glass windows shattered, people were injured.
Local Christians were quick to help the new arrivals: “Immediate needs are obvious: water and food” said one. “Some are sleeping on a piece of cardboard, so mattresses and pillows are needed too. And with temperatures reaching 45 degrees during the day, we need air coolers, especially important for families with young children or elderly.”
Imposition of ‘jizya tax’ on Mosul Christian minority
Meanwhile a member of Iraq’s High Commission on Human Rights Dr. Sallama Al Khafaji has told an Arabic news website, Al Sumaria, that last Saturday, June 21 ISIS began to demand a poll tax (jizya) from Christians in Mosul. In a custom rooted in medieval times, under strict Islamic law, Christians were required to have to pay protection money and are not allowed to publicly express their faith.
Dr Al Khafaji is reported to have said that in one case, ISIS members entered the home of an Assyrian family to demand it. She reports that when the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father. The husband and father was so traumatized that he committed suicide, she reported.
“The Christians have told me that they cannot pay this tax,” said Dr. Al-Khafaji, “and they say ‘what am I to do, shall I kill myself?'”
Meanwhile, Iraqi church leaders, including those from the capital Baghdad – hundreds of miles to the south, have met in Erbil to discuss a ‘rescue plan’, amid growing fears that the ISIS Islamist attacks have put Christianity at increased risk of being extinguished from the country.
Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghad Saad Sirop, who’d risked travel to the north to Erbil for the meeting, said the crisis could only be solved by reconciliation between the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. He repeated calls for the international community to press for negotiation between the various Islamic leaders. He added that military action would be counter-productive. “Military intervention did not resolve anything in Syria, nor here in Iraq, so we should not think this will work this time.”
Bishop Saad added: “We ask God to give us the wisdom to face these problems with courage. There is no doubt that we are passing through some difficult days.”
MERIAM IBRAHIM’S BABY BORN WITH PHYSICAL DEFECTS BECAUSE OF MERIAM BEING SHACKLED DURING BIRTH.
(Photo: Screen Grab via YouTube/NewsVault)Meriam Ibrahim, 27.
Ibrahim, who is currently trying to leave Sudan after being freed from prison, spoke for the first time about the May 27 birth in a recent interview with The Guardian. At eight months pregnant, Ibrahim had been sentenced to death for apostasy and adultery due to her Christian faith. She was then forced to give birth while shackled in the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum, Sudan.
Ibrahim, who also has a 21-month-old son, now says that because she was forced to give birth while her legs were shackled, her daughter, Maya, was born in an unconventional position and is now physically disabled. Ibrahim added that it is unclear at Maya’s young age if she will need assistance for walking when she grows older.
“I gave birth chained,” Ibrahim recalled of the traumatizing birth, adding “Not cuffs – but chains on my legs. I couldn’t open my legs so the women had to lift me off the table. I wasn’t lying on the table.”
When The Guardian asked Ibrahim if she was concerned such conditions would affect the health of her baby, she replied, “Something has happened to the baby,” explaining that her daughter had been physically disabled by the birth. “I don’t know in the future whether she’ll need support to walk or not.”
Ibrahim was freed from prison last week after an appeals court found the lower court’s death penalty sentence to be unfounded. Ibrahim and her husband, who has dual Sudanese and U.S. citizenship, then traveled to the airport in Khartoum to leave the country and head for the U.S. They were arrested at the airport and accused of using forged travel documents to leave the country, a claim denied by Ibrahim.
Ibrahim and her husband were released from the police station after being questioned, and they have now been forced to stay in Sudan until they get their travel documents in order. Ibrahim was reportedly traveling with South Sudanese travel documents, and the Sudan government claims she needs a Sudan-issued passport to leave the country.
“It’s my right to use the papers and have a South Sudanese passport because my husband is a South Sudanese citizen. He has an American passport and South Sudanese passport,” Ibrahim told The Guardian, adding “I never forged any papers.”
The Christian mother and her family have now reportedly sought refuge somewhere in Khartoum until they can decide on their next move. Ibrahim told CNN that she’s “currently in a safe place. It’s definitely safe but not comfortable.”
Ibrahim was honest in saying that the experiences of the past month have left her unsure of the best decision that will include the least amount of risk for her family. “I can’t even decide what I should do right now. I want to travel but at the same time I don’t want to travel. But the state I’m in right now means that I’m forced to. There’s a new problem every day about me leaving.”
Although Sudan claims that Ibrahim cannot leave the country using South Sudan travel documents, the U.S. State Department has said that the Christian woman has all the necessary travel documents to leave the country. “It’s up to the government of Sudan to allow her to exit the country,” Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said last week.
PLEASE PRAY FOR THE PASTOR AND HIS FOUR FRIENDS WHO WERE ATTACKED BY MOB IN SRI LANKA
|SRI LANKA: Taunted Christians Attacked by MobSources: National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, VOM USA
A pastor and his family were attacked recently by an angry mob after filing a complaint with police on behalf of four Christians who were threatened at a prayer meeting held at their home. The four believers were confronted on May 11th by about 30 people who warned them that they would be assaulted if they came back to the village for future prayer meetings.
The next morning, the pastor went to the police station to file a complaint and was asked to meet with police at his home later that day at 4 p.m. The police also asked the four Christians who were accosted to attend the meeting. While the Christians were waiting for the police to arrive at the pastor’s home, approximately 150 people surrounded the house and began shouting out slurs. The family immediately called the police who told them that they were on their way.
At around 5:30 p.m., roughly 40 people from the mob broke through the security fence surrounding the house. Taking poles from the fence, they smashed the pastor’s van while others poured into the home and attacked those inside. The pastor was knocked unconscious after receiving a harsh blow to the back of his neck with a pole. Afraid that they had killed him, the crowd immediately fled. The police, having finally arrived 10 minutes after the crowd dispersed, took the Christians to the police station. The believers were then held for questioning for seven hours, while their attackers were neither questioned nor arrested. The pastor spent four days in the hospital recovering, and three others were hospitalized for two days.
The Christians filed a case against their attackers two weeks later. When the case was heard on May 29th, a magistrate reprimanded the police and instructed that all the attackers be arrested immediately.
Please join us in praying for these fellow believers as they recover from this unwarranted attack. Ask God to grant physical and emotional healing to all who were injured. May our Lord encourage them in their faith so that they will not give in to fear or discouragement but rather entrust themselves fully to Him. Please also remember the perpetrators of this violent assault, praying that the Holy Spirit will work mightily in their hearts, and lead them to salvation in Jesus Ch
The ISIS victories in Iraq have opened up new doors of persecution for Christians in territory they control. The following article was taken from the Christian Post and gives an update on what is happening within the Christian community in Iraq. The once strong Christian community has faced hardships for many years now and is even more vulnerable now that civil war threatens the country. Please remember the people of Iraq and Syria in your prayers and that they could enjoy peace and freedom within their countries.
Pastor Behnam Irani has been returned to his cell in an Iranian prison. He has been held elsewhere for the last three weeks and no one knows what happened to him during that time.It was feared that he was murdered. We need to pray for him and all the others in prison in Iran as they face abuse, torture and threats daily.
Christian Pastor Feared Executed by Authorities Returned to Prison in Iran
(Photo: Present Truth Ministries)Pastor Behnam Irani smiling in this undated photo.
Present Truth Ministries, which has been campaigning for Pastor Behnam Irani’s release, said on Wednesday that the pastor has been able to get back in touch with his family.
“He was unable to say where he had been taken or what they did to him,” the group reported.
“He was missing since June 7, 2014 without any information being given to his family regarding his whereabouts. The fear was that he was taken and executed without any notice. Thank you for praying and taking action on his behalf.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that in the early hours of June 7, Irani was beaten in prison and transferred to an unknown location.
The pastor, who in 2011 was sentenced to six years in prison on political charges, was apparently summoned by Judge Mohammad Yari, Chief of the Sixth Chamber of the Revolutionary Tribunal. After he protested the irregular summons, intelligence agents entered his prison cell, beat him and took him to see Yari, before sending him to an undisclosed location.
Christian in Egypt sentenced to 5 years in prison for liking a Christian Facebook page. Keep this young man in your prayers.
Christians Convicted of ‘Blasphemy’ in Egypt for ‘Liking’ Facebook Page
Severity of sentence shocks Christians, free speech advocates
ISTANBUL, Turkey – A young Christian man in Upper Egypt accused of blaspheming Islam for “liking” a Facebook page was sentenced Tuesday (June 24) to six years in prison, shocking the Coptic community and other Facebook users.
Judge Hazim Hany of Armant Criminal Court found Kerolos Shouky Attallah, 29, of Al-Mahamid village near Luxor, guilty of violating two articles of the Egyptian Penal Code – Article 98F, defaming a divinely revealed religion, and Article 176, inciting sectarian violence.
Attallah was charged for “liking” an Arabic-language Facebook page administered by an anonymous group of Christian converts known as the Knights of the Cross. His attorney, Mohamed Ahmed Abd-Alaal, said Attallah did not make any comments on the site, share any of the postings or upload anything to it. Attallah promptly removed his name from the page once he realized the Facebook page offended some Muslims.
The guilty verdict and the severity of the sentence came as a surprise, said Safwat Samaan, chairman of Nation Without Borders, a human rights and development group headquartered in Luxor.
“The sentence today was a shock not just to Kerolos but to everyone who uses Facebook in Egypt,” Samaan said. “Any person who uses Facebook in Egypt and presses ‘Like’ on any page … can be put into prison for six years.”
Abd-Alaal told Morning Star News that the cause of Islamist anger in Al-Mahamid wasn’t a satirical cartoon about the Salafi movement but religious extremism and oversensitivity.
“Nobody could upset Christ or Muhammad by these comments; the accusation came out of nowhere,” said Abd-Alaal, a Sunni Muslim.
The Knights of the Cross Facebook page was designed to provide Arabic-speaking converts from Islam – many forced to live alone and in hiding – a cyber-place to encourage each other and safely discuss the Bible. Members also post essays about Christian apologetics and entries about perceived errors and conflicts in the Koran.
The number of years in prison Attallah received for each charge will be released within 30 days. An appeal is planned for next month.
It is unknown what day Attallah “liked” the Knights of the Cross Facebook page. Attallah obtained a cell phone sometime in May and started his own Facebook page soon thereafter. Days later, Muslims in his village became aware that he had “liked” the offending page, and by May 28, they printed and distributed leaflets demanding vengeance against him. One leaflet read, “You will not be men if you don’t kick him out of your village,” according to Samaan.
The Muslims tried to attack Attallah at his home the next day, but security authorities intervened by arresting Attallah. Authorities did not arrest any of the Muslims involved in the attack or those who incited it with the leaflets. Up until the day before the sentencing, Muslims were intermittently attacking Christian-owned homes and businesses, using the Facebook site as an excuse.
Human rights activists regard courts in and around Luxor as predisposed against those accused of committing blasphemy, human rights activists have said. Area Christians are disproportionately accused of committing blasphemy, and sentences are severe and swift while evidence, testimony and legal procedure that would exonerate the accused are ignored.
“When Copts are accused of blasphemy, the courts have to act as fast as they can,” Samaan said. “But when Copts are kidnapped, Copts’ land is stolen, or Copts are being killed … the law is not used at all.”
Historically, Samaan said, judges in Luxor Province in Upper Egypt have been very aggressive in prosecuting blasphemy cases, handing down sentences well above statutory limits.
Exacerbating the problems Attallah has to endure is his family’s financial situation. The legal fees have been ruinous, Samaan said. Also, in most prison systems across the Middle East, families are expected to bring food to augment the rations prisoners receive. On a recent visit to the prison, Attallah’s father brought him three bottles of water and a bag of potato chips.
“When will they stop persecuting Christians?” Samaan said. “When will the Copts stop paying the price and being sacrificed for every revolution? When will the Copts stop being a scapegoat and a target for every extremist in the country?”
Another bad report out of Nigeria. Over 60 women and 30 men kidnapped by Boko Haram according to the Los Angeles Times.
Nigeria kidnapping: 60 girls and women, 31 boys said to be abducted
At least 91 people – more than 60 women and girls, and 31 schoolboys – were abducted last week by suspected Boko Haram militants, two months after the terror group kidnapped more than 300 schoolgirls in northeastern Nigeria, according to witnesses.
Local media reported about 60 people were abducted in attacks on villages south of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, between Thursday and Saturday.
The attack comes as more than 270 schoolgirls are still being held by Boko Haram more than two months after their abductions from a school in Chibok town in April. Several dozen of the girls managed to escape.
About 30 people were reported to have been killed by the extremists in the latest attack. Elderly residents fled their homes, trekking 15 miles to seek help.
Among those abducted by gunmen were women with young children and babies – a common occurrence in Borno state since last year, Nigeria’s Premium Times reported.
Boko Haram, a violent Islamist militia fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria stepped up its attacks beginning five years ago and has recently launched violent raids on villages, markets, bus stations, churches and schools.
Nigeria has also seen bomb attacks on soccer fans watching World Cup soccer matches at public soccer viewing venues, which have been blamed on Boko Haram.
Last week’s attacks were on Kummabza, Yaga and Dagu, in the Damboa local government area, according to witnesses cited in local media reports.
Nigerian local and federal government officials and police haven’t confirmed the reports. But Premium Times quoted an unnamed federal security official who confirmed the abductions took place, while a village councilor confirmed the kidnappings to Associated Press.
Attacks on villages in northeastern Nigeria have been occurring almost daily, with Nigeria’s army seemingly incapable of enforcing security in vast swaths of the country.
The abductions of the Chibok schoolgirls put intense international pressure on Nigeria’s government and military to recover the girls and restore security in the northeast. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a chilling video in which he threatened to sell the schoolgirls into slavery.
But Nigerian authorities appear to lack the will or capacity to overcome the security crisis. Boko Haram has demanded the release of prisoners in return for surrendering the Chibok girls but Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has ruled out negotiating with terrorists. Military commanders have said a military-style rescue is impractical because it would result in the deaths of many of the hostages.
Given the deadlock, Nigerians are questioning how the girls will be released.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said earlier this month that he had been trying to negotiate the release of the girls, but had been given no support from the Nigerian government. He said it would be a “near-miracle” if all the girls were returned to their parents alive.
Obasanjo said the government should have acted immediately after the girls were taken in order to secure their release.
Nigeria’s military have been strongly criticized for failing to intervene to protect villages under attack and for failing to take steps to recover the missing girls.
Nigerian authorities have accused activists who have been campaigning for the girls’ release under the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls of being aligned with Nigeria’s opposition, and acting out of political motives, claims the activists have denied.
A Sudanese woman and mother of two who was sentenced to death for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity has been freed, her lawyer confirms.
Ibrahim’s lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa El-Nour, confirmed the news, saying that she was reunited with her husband, Daniel Wadi, according to CNN. Her lawyer said the appeals court found the lower court’s ruling faulty.Sudan’s state-run news agency, Suna, also confirmed the news via text message on Monday that Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s death sentence had been canceled and that a Sudanese appeal court had ordered her release.
Ibrahim, whose husband Wani is an American citizen, had been sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging, in an incident that has provoked international outrage, including a letter signed by 38 members of Congress asking the U.S. government to act.
“We request that the U.S. State Department, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, review granting Mrs. Ibrahim Significant Public Benefit Parole, asylum, or refugee status, as appropriate. In short, we urge that every legal means necessary be exhausted to ensure that she and her young children are provided safe haven,” read the letter, led by Congressman Trent Franks, R-Arizona, and Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Virginia.
Throughout her time in prison, Ibrahim has maintained her innocence, arguing that she was raised Christian by her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox, and therefore never renounced Islam. She has also denied allegations of adultery, maintain that she was a Christian before she met her husband. The Sudanese government had accused Ibrahim of adultery because it did not recognize her marriage because the government considers her a Muslim and her husband is Christian.
Ibrahim’s case has drawn international condemnation from Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair and current Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The 27-year-old mother was recently forced to give birth to her second child, Maya, while in prison and one of her ankles was reportedly chained while she was in labor. She is now living with her two children behind bars.
Several online petitions have called for Ibrahim’s release, though a White House petition that would have prompted a response from the Obama administration lacked nearly 45,000 signatures.
“We urge you to pressure the Sudanese government to release Meriam and her children so she can escape execution and possible death of her children and be rejoined with her husband in the U.S. Please grant her expedited safe haven in the U.S., where she could seek asylum,” the petition urges President Obama.
Ibrahim was first arrested in August after members of her father’s side of her family accused her of adultery for marrying Wani.
Earlier reports at the end of May that Ibrahim was expected to be freed turned out to be false.
Susan and her younger brother, both Muslims, lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. Life was routine… school, chores, a little time to play. But, on that fateful day in March 2010 Susan’s life took a dramatic turn when an evangelist visited her school and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation. “After a month of keeping it secret, news reached my father that I had converted to Christianity,” recalls Susan.
Enraged, her father confined her to a small room. Her brother Mbusa was warned to not to tell anyone that Susan was locked up and was instructed to not give her any food. Young Mbusa tried to help his sister by roasting bananas when their father was away. He also dug a hole under the door where he could pour water through. “My sister could drink water using her tongue. But most days she could only feed on mud,” he said.
For six long months Susan never saw the sunlight.
A nearby neighbor became concerned after not seeing her. Finally, when Mbusa feared that his sister was dying, he told the neighbor that Susan was locked up in one of the rooms in the house. Alerting authorities, the police rushed to the house and broke down the door. Rescuing Susan, they took her to a nearby hospital. During her ordeal Susan had lost the use of both of her legs.
After spending the next 10-months confined to a hospital bed recovering, Susan was later transported to a home in Kenya. Living now with an Open Doors co-worker and his family her love for the Lord has grown. When asked how she is feeling, she confidently responds, “I am happy and not in pain. I would never leave my Jesus who died for me.” Although the months of torture were horrific, Susan has forgiven her father and asks for just two things; the ability to walk again so that she can tell others about Jesus… and salvation for her father.
- Susan’s total healing and to regain the use of her legs.
- Susan’s father’s salvation.
Open Doors lists North Korea as the most dangerous place on earth to be a Christian. Thousands of Christians suffer in appalling conditions within the prison system. Arrest in North Korea can mean that not only the individual but his/her entire family can be arrested with them. The following video tells of one woman’s experience as a prisoner of the state because of her belief. She is one of the fortunate because she is now free, but thousands more of our brothers and sisters in Christ continue in captivity for their faith. Please pray for the church in North Korea.