Christian Convert from Islam Slain in Bangladesh

March 23, 2016 | Posted in Persecution | By

arabic letter n 250(Morning Star News) – The Islamic State (IS) today claimed its members were responsible for hacking to death a Christian in Bangladesh who had left Islam, while Bangladeshi police said the claim was “bogus.”

At least two unidentified assailants on Tuesday (March 22) killed Hossain Ali, 68, who converted to Christianity in 1999, as he took in Garialpara, Kurigram District.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported that IS posted a statement on Twitter saying the murder was “a lesson to others.”

“A security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate was able, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, to kill the apostate [Ali], who changed his religion and became a preacher for the polytheist Christianity,” the IS statement read, according to SITE.

The Bangladesh government denies IS has operatives in the country, and police today rejected the its claim of responsibility for the killing of Ali, stating that was “bogus,” according to the AFP.

Police have arrested five men for questioning, a police official in Kurigram District told AFP.

IS has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on converts from Islam and minorities in Bangladesh, including Christians, Shiites, Sufis, Hindus and Ahmadis. Bangladeshi officials have blamed the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group, for the violence.

Ali’s son, Ruhul Amin Azad, said his father had no enemies, but that the family has had disputes with area residents over land ownership, according to The Daily Star.

Another Christian convert from Islam in Bangladesh, 75-year-old pastor Khaza Somiruddin, was slain on Jan. 6 in Jenaidah. Active in evangelism, he had received several threats from Islamic extremists.

© 2016 Morning Star News.


Baptist Pastor in North Khartoum, Sudan Arrested without Charges

The Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor has been detained without charges since his arrest on Dec. 18, 2015. (Morning Star News)

March 18, 2016 | Posted in Persecution | By

The Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor has been detained without charges since his arrest on Dec. 18, 2015. (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor has been detained without charges since his arrest on Dec. 18, 2015. (Morning Star News)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Sudanese authorities detained another church leader in the Khartoum area without charges on Monday (March 14), releasing him that night before arresting him again the next day, according to an area source.

The whereabouts of pastor Philemon Hassan of Baptist Church Hai El Esbah-Khartoum North were unknown after personnel from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested him again on Tuesday (March 15).

The pastor’s wife urged Christians to pray for her husband as she does not know why he was detained.

“Pray for him and our family,” she said.

Several sources told Morning Star News that, prior to arresting the pastor on Monday, NISS officials had raided his home, scattered his belongings about the house and confiscated his laptop and documents. He was jailed for more than 10 hours and released around 1 a.m. before his re-arrest on Tuesday.

The pastor is well-known for composing worship songs.

“May God be with those who are oppressed,” a Sudanese Christian wrote in a prayer campaign on her Facebook page. “He will keep you safe from every evil.”

Sudanese authorities arrested two pastors without charges in Khartoum in December, releasing one, and they also arrested Telahoon Nogose Kassa that month, presumably for his advocacy against the government confiscation of the property of his church, Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church. Kassa has been detained without charges since Dec. 14.

The Rev. Kwa Shamaal, head of missions for the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), was arrested on Dec. 18 and released on Dec. 21 but had been required to report daily to NISS offices, where he was held from 8 a.m. until midnight, sources said. That requirement was removed on Jan. 16. His colleague, the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, SCOC vice-moderator, remains in detention without charges since his arrest on Dec. 18.

NISS officials were said to have been upset with the pastors for telling others that Christians faced persecution in Sudan. Authorities had arrested the two pastors from their respective homes at the same hour.

The arrest of Pastor Hassan comes after two South Sudanese pastors, the Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael, were released following eight months in prison on false charges of capital crimes due to their efforts to defend Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church against the illegal sale of its property.

Michael, 49, was arrested in December 2014 after encouraging Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church; the church was the subject of government harassment, arrests and demolition of part of its worship center as Muslim investors have tried to take it over. Reith, 36, was arrested on Jan. 11, 2015 after submitting a letter from SSPEC leaders inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

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

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

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

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

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

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2015 report.

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

© 2016 Morning Star News. Reprinted with permission.  


Hundreds of Nigerian Christians killed in attacks

March 3, 2016 | Posted in Persecution | By

39877By Illia Djadi, World Watch Monitor

Several days of attacks in February’s final days killed hundreds of people and sent thousands fleeting from largely Christian areas of Nigeria’s farming belt.

The armed attacks in and around Agatu, in the central Nigerian state of Benue, had features long familiar to Nigerians: ethnic Fulani cattle herders, largely Muslim, moving in on farmers, largely Christian. The long-running land conflict frequently is framed in economic terms, but it also has distinctive religious contours. Survivors quoted by Christian-rights advocates said the attackers specifically targeted Christians and churches and spared Muslims and mosques.

The violence broke out 23 Feb. and continued across several villages for several days, culminating 29 Feb. in what witnesses told Nigerian news media was a massacre in Agatu. The killings sparked protests in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. A week after the attacks began, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered an investigation.

A complete assessment of the number of dead and displaced is not available. Early social-media postings by Signal, a news startup in Abuja, reported “scores” dead. An aide to Benue Gov. Samuel Ortom told Agence France-Presse that “hundreds of lives were lost.”

The Agatu violence appeared to be worse than the 2010 attacks in Plateau state that killed more than 200 Christians, according to a 2 March email sent to supporters by Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human-rights lawyer based in Washington, D.C. who specializes in crimes against Nigeria’s Christians.

A Nigerian news organization, Vanguard, quoted a survivor, Ada Ojechi, as saying the fatality  rate was very high but could not put a figure to it because no survivor could take the risk of counting the dead.

Ojechi told Vanguard that the promise of Federal military and Benue state police created a false sense of security. Many of the people who fled began to return on Sunday. The next day, the attackers returned.

“Our people were caught napping because we relaxed when we heard what we considered the cheering news that the federal government has intervened,” Ojechi was quoted as saying.

“Unfortunately, the Fulanis knew we had relaxed and took advantage of us to unleash a terrible massacre on us. As we speak, corpses litter everywhere in the village. I have been trying to reach many of my family members without success. We feel terribly let down by the government that announced a joint security team. We have not seen the security men- be they policemen or military, as I speak.”

Nigerian news reports said more than 7,000 people have been internally displaced and are living in camps as a result of the violence.

In announcing an investigation, President Buhari said: “The only way to bring an end to the violence once and for all is to look beyond one incident and ascertain exactly what factors are behind the conflicts.”

“There should not be any reason why Nigerians of any group or tongue cannot now reside with one another wherever they find themselves after decades of living together.”

In his 2 March email dispatch from Nigeria, Ogebe said the area remained in an “active shooter” situation.

In meeting with eight survivors 28 Feb., Ogebe said a Muslim man claimed to have been spared when he was able to recite a verse from the Quran for the attackers.

“They claimed they were told that [the Muslim man’s] people did not support Islamic worship. He denied this and showed them his mosque. It was spared but village churches were burnt,” Ogebe wrote.

“Yet the US embassy still maintains that this is purely a turf war between farmers and grazers without religious undertones.”

Open Doors, a global charity that provides support to Christians and churches that are under pressure for their faith, ranks Nigeria as the most violent country on Earth for Christians. Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist insurgency that has pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, is responsible for the great majority of anti-Christian violence. But its attacks “also inspire others, thus creating a ripple effect leading to further fanatical movements and violent, more spontaneous mobs,” according to an Open Doors assessment of Nigeria.

“Hausa-Fulani herdsmen and settlers have been conducting massive operations over the years as a result of which thousands of Christians have been evicted or killed,” the Open Doors assessment says.

Nigeria ranks No. 12 on the Open Doors World Watch List, which comprises the 50 countries where life as a Christian is most difficult.

World Watch Monitor reports the story of Christians worldwide under pressure for their faith. Articles may be reprinted, with attribution.