Monday, October 27, 2008

IRAN:Muslims converting to Christianity

PS:Remember our brothers and sisters in Iran and PRAY for them!!!!!!!!!!

As in the days of Noah...

Eritrea among worst violators of religious rights

Eritrea-The latest U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report indicates Eritrea has made little positive progress on religious liberty.Adelle Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, "They're trying to crackdown on evangelical Christians as a means of controlling or even ridding Eritrea of Christianity. The government basically is cracking down on anyone who is outside of those registered bodies."In May 2002, the government's first step led to the ban and closure of all independent churches not operating under the umbrella of the Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, and Muslim religious structures.Authorities want to quash the spread of anything they consider "too radical," which appears to be aimed at stopping the growth of Christianity. Konyndyk says, "The military seeks to imprison key leaders, making it hard for these churches to publicly worship and spread the Gospel in Eritrea." "The Eritrean government, itself, maintains that no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or their religion," says Konyndyk. However, in 2004 the State Department designated Eritrea as a Country of Particular Concern on a list of the worst violators of religious freedom.Further, although Eritrea provided for religious freedom in a 1997 constitution, a border war with Ethiopia delayed the implementation.Of the more than 2,000 Christians under arrest in police stations, military camps and jails across Eritrea for of their religious beliefs, many have been incarcerated for years. No one has been charged officially or given access to judicial processes.According to Konyndyk, that means leaders of large unregistered bodies like the Full Gospel Church and Rhema Church are viewed as threats.Keep praying, because it is making a difference. "It is a positive sign that human rights organizations and the U.S. Department of State are publicly taking notice of the persecution that is going on here. "Pray for believers in prison to be strengthened and stand firm in their faith.Pray too, that the government will stop the campaign against evangelicals and allow freedom of religion for all.
If you can support the body of Christ in Eritrea, click here.
As in the days of Noah...

British Aid Worker Gayle Williams Buried in Kabul

Slain British aid worker buried in Afghanistan

KABUL-Surrounded by tight security, some 50 mourners gathered in the Afghan capital on Sunday for the funeral of Gayle Williams, a British aid worker killed by Taliban gunmen on her way to work a week ago.The killing, together with the shooting of a South African and a British man in the city on Saturday, has led to fears Taliban insurgents could target Westerners to scare off aid workers and undermine efforts to bring development and security.The Taliban said they had killed Williams, 34, because she worked for SERVE Afghanistan, a British-based Christian aid organisation that the militants said was trying to convert Afghanistan's fiercely conservative Muslim population.SERVE denies it tries to spread Christianity and says its work concentrates on teaching children with disabilities."A completely defenceless young woman with a heart of love for the people of Afghanistan, was walking alone to work to care for the people who were defenceless here in this country," said the man leading the service, who declined to be named."Two armed men gunned down a young defenceless girl. It is hard to see this as anything other than a cowardly act that brings shame on the people who carried out this murder," he said.Family, friends and colleagues, including her mother Patricia and her sister Karen, attended the funeral at the British Cemetery in the heart of the city.Dozens of police surrounded the cemetery and blocked roads to traffic, a stark reminder of Afghanistan's deteriorating security. Police patrolled the hill overlooking the ceremony.
Williams' mother sat beneath the shade of a tree, at times weeping as friends and colleagues paid tribute."Gayle was a special colleague, she was a precious sister to all of our SERVE staff," said one of Williams' colleagues. "She was a joyful and courageous woman. We lost a dear co-worker."In the weeks before her death, Williams had attended the funeral of a friend at the same cemetery and had expressed her desire to be buried there if she were to die in Afghanistan."Now we have seen this cemetery, and if I die here, I know where I will be laid to rest," Gayle had told friends.A friend paying tribute, said Williams had discussed the possibility of one of them coming to harm in Afghanistan."'These bodies are only temporary. When I get to heaven I will have a new body'," Williams had told her friend.Taliban insurgents have increasingly targeted aid workers this year in their campaign to spread an atmosphere of fear and undermine claims by the Afghan government and its Western backers that they are bringing security to the nation.Some 4,000 people, a third of them civilians were killed this year. There were more than 120 attacks on aid programmes in the first seven months of this year, the United Nations says.Thirty aid workers have been killed and 92 abducted.The cemetery was built in the 1870's during the second Anglo-Afghan War and there are several headstones of British soldiers from that time, but most graves are of Kabul's European residents buried there up to the 1970s. Following the funeral, Williams' mother and sister were taken to meet President Hamid Karzai who wished to express his condolences.
As in the days of Noah....

Soldier Protecting Christians Mutilated, Killed in Orissa, India

NEW DELHI-A paramilitary soldier assigned to protect Christians from Hindu violence in Kandhamal district, Orissa was mutilated and killed by a mob in Sisapanga village on Oct. 13.The body of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldier was recovered from a nearby forest. He was believed to have been hacked to death by tribal people in the wake of the worst anti-Christian violence in the history of modern India.“Police recovered the body on Monday night-he has injuries on his torso and head,” District Superintendent of Police S. Praveen Kumar told national media. “It appears he was first beaten up by sticks and then killed by a sharp weapon.” Sisapanga village is under Raikia police jurisdiction.“The soldier had been to Sisapanga village, accompanied by a driver, to buy provisions. A group of six-seven men attacked him from behind, dragged him into the jungle and hacked him to death,” Kumar told The Times of India (TOI). “The driver fortunately managed to escape.”The death marks the first time that central security personnel have been targeted in Orissa in the riots that have raged since Hindu extremists insisted on blaming Christians for the Aug. 23 murder of Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, even though Maoists admitted killing him and four associates.“The murder of the CRPF jawan [soldier] comes in the wake of persistent demands from the tribals to withdraw the paramilitary force,” a police spokesman told TOI. “The CRPF has made mass arrests, mostly of tribals, during the past two weeks.”A local source who wished to be unnamed told Compass that the attackers have warned authorities through local media that they will carry out more killings of CRPF soldiers if the forces are not withdrawn.
Assurances, Assurances
Amid several assurances of protection by the state government, a mob demolished a Church of North India building on Oct. 11 in Sikuli village, Kalahandi district. The same day, the gang burned down two Christian houses in the village.Two women who previously were driven from their homes when Hindu extremists set the structures on fire have died from illnesses. Minakshi Pradhan, 22, contracted malaria after fleeing to a refugee camp, later developing typhoid, and was admitted to MKCG Berhampur hospital, where she died on Thursday (Oct. 16).“She has a 4-year-old child she left behind,” said a local source who wished to remain unnamed. Also survived by her husband, Anand Pradhan, Minakshi Pradhan was from Murudipanga village, Raikia block division, in Kandhmal district.Another woman, Mili Pradhan, had a tumor detected in her stomach after her house was burned on Aug. 29, and she and husband Joshi Pradhan had to flee to Berhampur. Doctors operating on her detected blood cancer, and she died in the same hospital on Wednesday (Oct. 15.) She left behind an 18-month-old daughter.Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in an interview to television channel NDTV that half of the 1,000-odd people arrested in the state for rioting belonged to the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). He added that he considered the Bajrang Dal a fundamentalist group.In reaction, Subash Chouhan, national co-coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, said “It’s not the Bajrang Dal but Naveen Patnaik who is the real fundamentalist...He is trying to show his secular character by trying to implement the Christian organizations’ agenda.”Orissa police have arrested one of the “most wanted” in the anti-Christian riots in the state’s Kandhmal district.
Manoj Pradhan, a key tribal leader, was reportedly arrested at a lodge in Berhampur on Wednesday (Oct. 15) night.“While investigating the case, we are finding it to be one of the most complicated cases in the state,” Arun Ray, inspector general of police, told media. “The crime was planned much before. We have identified the perpetrators of the crime. We have arrested three people and are likely to arrest some more people in the near future.”

As in the days of Noah...

Christians of Iran

Australian Lawmaker Puts Lord's Prayer Up for Debate

CANBERRA, Australia-The speaker of Australia's Parliament has called for a public debate about whether the country's lawmakers should end the practice of starting each session with the Lord's Prayer.Lawmakers have started every day of Parliament with the Christian prayer for more than a century-a tradition inherited from Britain during colonial rule.But some are now questioning whether a prayer adopted by the first Australian Parliament in 1901 remains relevant in an increasingly secular and religiously diverse nation. Dumping the prayer is unlikely to happen any time soon, though, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull said Sunday said they wanted to keep the prayer.More than 65 percent of Australians still identify as Christians, and there are no Muslims or Aborigines among Australia's 226 federal lawmakers. The only two Jewish lawmakers, both members of the government, did not return calls by The Associated Press on Monday.Speaker of the House of Representatives Harry Jenkins told News Ltd. newspapers that lawmakers and members of the public had repeatedly raised the issue with him since he took office in February. "One of the most controversial aspects of the parliamentary day ... is the prayer," Jenkins was quoted on Sunday as saying."On the one end of the spectrum is: Why have a prayer?"Jenkins declined to be interviewed Monday but issued a statement saying he had "received a wide range of opinions about the opening prayer" and its relevance "in modern Australia."Sen. Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, a minor opposition party, wants the prayer replaced by a period of silent reflection, while independent lawmaker Rob Oakeshott wants each day to begin with a recognition of Aborigines as Australia's original inhabitants.Brown failed in 1997 to replace the prayer with a period of silence. He has said he plans to propose 30 seconds of silence after the prayer, as a "period of reflection" for those who did not want to pray.Ikebal Patel, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president, said he did not object to the prayer, but supported Brown's proposal as more inclusive."There should be an attempt to try and be a little bit more generic and inclusive," Patel said.Aborigines and other religions should be acknowledged, he said."Parliament shouldn't be seen to be a Christian club," he added.,2933,444217,00.html
As in the days of Noah....

Iraq:"We are killed because we are Christians"

The Christians in Iraq, although they have lived there longer than the Muslims have and have nothing to do with the United States, are considered, because they share the religion of the American "Crusaders," to be kuffar harbi-infidels at war with Islam-and thus by the terms of Islamic law their lives are forfeit. Persecution of Christians in Iraq Update: "'We are killed because we are Christians,'" by Deborah Haynes in the Times, October 27 (thanks to James):
One grey-haired woman understands more than most the fear that has gripped Iraq's beleaguered Christian community over the past month.Her brother, Bashar al-Hazim, was among the first to be murdered in a wave of targeted killings that has forced more than 2,000 Christian families to flee the northern city of Mosul.Masked gunmen walked up to Mr Hashim as he stood with his two children outside their house in the east-side of Mosul in late September.They demanded to see his identity card, confirmed he was Christian and executed the 41-year-old on the spot."I could have died when I found out. He was a dear brother and was killed in a very despicable way," said the woman, 60, who was too afraid to give her name.She, like thousands of other Christians who have left the city since the start of October, claims to have no idea who carried out the attack. Fear of potential repercussions appears to prevent many in the region from speaking their mind."We're peaceful people. When my brother was executed he had no enemies. Why was he killed? He was not a member of a party. There was no reason except for being Christian," the woman, dressed in a black gown, said....
Read it all.
Posted by Robert
As in the days of Noah....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nun Meena Lalita Barwa tells of brutal rape by Hindu mob in India

A Roman Catholic nun who says that she was raped and paraded half-naked through the streets by a Hindu mob in eastern India emerged from hiding yesterday for the first time to make an emotional public appeal for justice.With her head and face covered by a black scarf, Meena Lalita Barwa, 29, described how she was attacked at a prayer hall in the eastern state of Orissa in August during the worst anti-Christian riots in India in decades.The violence-which the Catholic Church says killed 60 Christians and left 50,000 homeless-has drawn international criticism from the Pope and President Bush and prompted calls for a ban on India's powerful Hindu nationalist movement.Sister Meena said that a mob of up to 50 men armed with sticks, axes, spades, crowbars, iron rods and sickles dragged her and a Catholic priest from the house where they were sheltering on August 25.One of the mob raped her, while two more held her down, and then a fourth tried to rape her again, before they paraded the priest and her, minus her blouse and underwear, along a road, she said.When the crowd passed a group of a dozen policemen she begged for help, but they ignored her and talked in a “very friendly” manner to her attackers, she said.“State police failed to stop the crimes, failed to protect me from the attackers,” she said. “I was raped and I don't want to be victimised by the Orissa police.God Bless India, God bless you all.”She demanded that her case be handled by the Central Bureau of Investigation-India's FBI-rather than the Orissa police, who have been criticised for their inaction during the violence.Sister Meena went into hiding after the attack to protect herself from Hindu extremists but decided to come forward after the Supreme Court turned down her initial request for a CBI inquiry earlier this week.Her public appeal comes as pressure mounts on the Indian Government to ban Bajrang Dal, one of India's Hindu extremist groups, for their alleged role in violence in Orissa and elsewhere.The Government fears that such a move would provoke a backlash from other Hindu extremists and mobilise votes for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of national elections, due in May.The accused groups deny any involvement in the Orissa violence, saying that it was a spontaneous reaction to the murder of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, a local Hindu nationalist leader, on August 23.They blame Christians for the murder, although Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility and accuse Christian missionaries of bribing and coercing poor Hindus to convert.However, victims in Orissa, church leaders and rights groups accuse Hindu extremists of executing the attacks to stir up their supporters ahead of next year's elections.Father Thomas Chellan, the priest who was with Sister Meena when she was allegedly raped, told The Times that many of the mob were chanting Hindu slogans and were wearing the trademark saffron bandannas of the Hindu nationalist movement.He said that they forced him to kneel on the ground and doused him in kerosene. One man brought out a box of matches and fumbled with it. “I thought, my God, now I will die.”Another member of the mob interrupted and said that they should “burn him where others could see”, prompting the crowd to parade him and Sister Meena along the road.
Jeremy Page in Delhi and Rhys Blakely in Bombay
As in the days of Noah...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christianity in Iran

See how Christians are thriving under the Islamic government in Iran with this story from CBN News...

"HATE CRIMES LAW":The 'how-to' plan to criminalize Christianity

A growing movement that experts believe could end up in the criminalization of Christianity in the United States is being exposed in a new documentary being prepared for airing on October 26, officials at Coral Ridge Ministries have announced."Hate Crime Laws" is a half-hour expos̩ that shows how Christians in America, Canada, Australia, and Sweden have been arrested and prosecuted for expressing opinions that are rooted in the Bible regarding homosexual conduct, Islam or other topics about which Scriptures express clear teachings. "On the surface, hate crime laws might sound like a good idea," said Jerry Newcombe, of Coral Ridge, who hosts the special. "After all, none of us advocates hatred or violence against another person. But if you look below the surface, suddenly you realize that these laws are really thought crime laws."The program will air on The Coral Ridge Hour time slot and local airing times are available online.WND has reported previously on hate crimes plans at the local level. In Colorado, for example, Gov. Bill Ritter(picture left) signed into law earlier this year a plan that analysts believe effectively bans publication of the Bible in the state. The gender "anti-discrimination" law bans publication of statements that can be perceived as being negative toward those individuals choosing alternative sexual lifestyles.WND also has reported when family groups with alarm have warned constituents about pending plans in Congress to institutionalize nationwide such laws.Pro-homosexual advocates long have sought such a law, but opponents fear it would be used to crack down on those who maintain a biblical perspective that condemns homosexuality as sin. Observers note it would criminalize speech and thought, since other criminal actions already are addressed with current statutes.Canada already has an aggressive "hate crimes" law, and there authorities have gone so far as to tell a Christian pastor he must recant his faith because of the legislation that bans statements that can be "perceived" as condemning another person.Some states already have similar statutes, too, and in New Mexico, a photography company run by two Christians was fined $6,600 by the state for declining to provide services to a lesbian couple setting up a lookalike "marriage" ceremony.The documentary cites the New Mexico case, as well as others."Canadian youth pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to the editor in 2002 criticizing homosexual activism and offering compassion and hope for people trapped by homosexuality. A human rights tribunal took notice and slapped him with a $5,000 fine, ordered him to apologize in writing, and snuffed out his free speech rights by placing a prior restraint on his public expression of any 'disparaging' opinions about homosexuality," Coral Ridge officials said."In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green spoke out against homosexual conduct in a 2003 sermon and was prosecuted for 'hate speech,'" the announcement continued.In Australia, all it took to bring two ministers into a courtroom on charges of vilifying Islam was a seminar in their own church about Muslim beliefs.The late Coral Ridge founder D. James Kennedy repeatedly had warned such developments would endanger Americans' civil rights."This will silence churches, which is their great desire Рthat churches ... may not be able to say anything negative about homosexuality," he said in an earlier presentation.An online presentatiion on the issue features Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council."Homosexuals know they must silence the church in this country, and that's what's behind this," he warns.Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute, also appears.The goal, he said, is the "criminalization of Christianity. If you say traditional morality is now a form of hate and bigotry, and bring the full weight of the government, you have criminalized basic Christian moral doctrine."Other guests include Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel; and Tristan Emmanuel, a Presbyterian minister who resigned from the pulpit to found the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre.Opponents of such actions note the deceptiveness of some of the proposals. In Colorado, for example, "Section 8 of the bill makes it a crime to publish or distribute anything that is deemed a 'discrimination' against the homosexual and transsexual lifestyle," according to the Christian Family Alliance.Mark Hotaling, executive director for the Alliance, said initially supporters and even some opponents of the bill explained that there was an exception for churches and church organizations. However, lawmakers then attached to the bill a state "safety clause" which is supposed to deal with laws that are fundamental to protecting the lives of residents.That, he said, simply stripped away any potential allowances for churches and church groups."Anyone who claims that there's an exception for churches really doesn't know the ins and outs of the bill," Hotaling told WND."So the religious exemption is purely window dressing and very deceptive," he said. "The Word of God literally now is banned, and that's a legitimate slam-dunk First Amendment issue there."President Bush has fended off at least one federal plan by deciding it was unnecessary and promising a veto if Congress would pass it.
As in the days of Noah...

Judge Rules in Favor of Religious Speech

A federal judge has decided in favor of a Wisconsin man who was threatened with arrest for distributing Christian literature. The judgment came after the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) challenged a city ordinance that restricted the Michael Foht's constitutional right to free speech.“Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs,” ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum said.“Exercising your First Amendment rights is not a crime. The ordinance was unconstitutional for that reason, so we are pleased to reach this agreement for the benefit of all residents who value their free speech rights.”
by Devon Williams
As in the days of Noah...

Aid threatened in Afghanistan

Kazakhstan religion law stiffened, to Christians' dismay

Kazakhstan-Kazakhstan is looking at tightening already draconian restrictions on its controversial religion law.Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association says there have been some new amendments this week that are being debated in the Kazakh Senate. "It would, for the first time, explicitly ban unregistered religious activity. It would ban sharing beliefs by individuals not named by registered religious organizations, or without personal registration as missionaries. It would require all registration applications to be approved centrally, and it would pose a wider range of fines on individuals and communities."In short, the proposal calls for tighter registration requirements for all religious groups, a smaller number of religious communities and increased penalties for members of unregistered communities. Under the current draft, repeat "offenses" would lead to a religious community being banned.Although Kazakhstan's constitution guaranteed freedom of religion in early 2002, the Parliament's action has moved a different direction. That has also gotten the attention of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The country is being closely monitored by the commission for its violation of religious liberty.According to Forum 18, several legal specialists in Kazakhstan believe the provisions and amendments of the draft Law allow for broad interpretations which could be used to restrict religious freedom.Griffith urges prayer. "Pray for the protection of Kazakh churches, not only their freedom to worship, but also to proclaim the Gospel. We trust that they're going to do what the Lord has called them to do anyway, but it's certainly going to make life a lot more difficult for the believers there."
--Pray that believers will be a bold witness to the Gospel.
--Pray that authorities will cease their harassment of unregistered church communities.
--Pray that the amendments fail.
As in the days of Noah...

Christian Families Targeted

India's Christians get federal help

India-India's federal government is acting in Orissa after fresh clashes between Hindus and Christians over the weekend. These appear to have been triggered by religious conversions.Ron Green is with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India. He says, "The attacks continue, but the initial sweep of violence through Kandhamal province seems to have toned down. The state government and state police were actually part of the problem and helped organize some of the attacks, but the federal government of India has sent in federal police to try to just stop movement."More than 700 federal police were sent Friday to Orissa to join the 3,000 federal police who have already been deployed in the region to restore order.Mission India staff report that at least 2,400 homes were destroyed, as many as 35 people are dead, and at least 40 churches have been burned or vandalized in Kandhamal.Since the violence began, believers were forced to retreat from the areas that have been their homes for centuries. "Christians want to go back. They want to rebuild their churches. They want to rebuild their homes. They are frightened, but not panicked. They're still counting the cost there."Among some of the stories coming back to the ministry are accounts where church planter students have been threatened and attacked.Believers are being forced by extremists to renounce Jesus in "re-conversion" ceremonies, and a literacy teacher's life was threatened if he continued to teach in his village.Violence against Christians is not new in Orissa, where just 2.4% out of 36.8 million people are followers of Jesus. Orissa is one of six states in India that have passed "Freedom of Religion" Acts that require people to get government permission before they can become Christians or be baptized.The good news is that weeks of nonstop violence failed to stifle the Gospel. "I would say maybe 20-percent of the work that we have in Orissa has been disrupted, and the rest continues. There's a high level of responsiveness in Orissa."Keep praying for an end to this wave of brutal violence.
--Pray that those who persecute Christians will come to repentance and faith in Christ.
--Pray for an end to this wave of brutal violence.
--Pray that believers under attack will set Christ apart as Lord and not give in to fear.
As in the days of Noah...

The Taliban's grip on Afghanistan threatens ministries

Afghanistan-The Taliban executed a Christian aid worker in Afghanistan on Monday.Tom Doyle with E3 Partners explains,"There's been a resurgence with the Taliban.Some believers have actually been escaping into Iran. Wherever we went in Afghanistan, we just sensed that there was so much more tension."Gayle Williams, a 34-year-old British national, had been working with handicapped Afghans for two years with SERVE Afghanistan. "Here you have someone like Gayle Williams who is just helping the people,not out there evangelizing,and they kill her.The Taliban is claiming 'proselytizing.'"Afghanistan is a conservative Islamic nation. Proselytizing is prohibited by law, and other Christian missionaries or charities have faced severe hostility. However, SERVE Afghanistan rejected the charge of preaching and said it believed the claim was opportunistic. The group's Web page says the charity has been working with Afghan refugees since 1980 in Pakistan, explaining that "SERVE Afghanistan's purpose is to express God's love and bring hope by serving the people of Afghanistan, especially the needy, as we seek to address personal, social and environmental needs."The murder exacts a high price: life or death for those who can least afford the latter. The Afghanistan aid agency which employed Williams has stopped operations and may pull out altogether.Doyle says he met Williams during his visit in Afghanistan two weeks ago.Her murder has sent shock waves through the Christian community there.Workers and those in other forms of ministry are close, and they won't be intimidated into silence.However, Williams' death has a clear message from the Taliban: "You're not welcome here.""Bottom line is that it is dangerous out there," agrees Doyle. "We don't want to see ministries do things foolishly and be put in harm's way. But on the other hand, we want to make sure the work continues, so there's a tension there. We just really need prayer from the body for the leaders there to know when to pull back and when to move forward."
--Pray that Christians in Afghanistan will be able to stand for their faith, despite the small numbers, and that they will reach out to those around them with the Gospel of Christ.

--Pray that teams continue to act as the living Gospel.
--Pray that God protects those in service.

As in the days of Noah....

Iraqi Christians Flee Religious Violence

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Football Coach asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Prayer Case

A New Jersey high school football coach is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he cannot kneel or bow his head during team prayer."The Supreme Court needs to hear this case because it is a matter of national importance, not only for public school coaches but for public school teachers and administrators," Ronald J. Riccio, the former dean of Seton Hall University Law School, told, who is representing Marcus Borden pro bono, is joined in his petition by some of the country's largest and most prestigious law firms, including Sidley Austin LLP, which at one time employed Sen. Barack and Michelle Obama.The American Football Coaches Association, with more than 10,000 members nationwide, is expected to file its own petition in support of Borden. The group estimates more than 50 percent of coaches nationwide engage in team prayer.

No Head Shall Bow

— Jennifer Mesko

As in the days of Noah....

Christian Woman Killed for Preaching Under Guise of Aid Work:Taliban

Monday, October 20, 2008

Aid worker shot dead in Kabul

British aid worker killed as Afghan violence spreads

Afghan Policemen investigate the site of incident in Kabul October 20, 2008.
REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Gayle Williams
KABUL-Two Taliban gunmen killed a British woman aid worker in the Afghan capital on Monday, accusing her of spreading Christian propaganda, in an attack that could help further restrict humanitarian activities in Afghanistan.Taliban insurgents have increasingly targeted aid workers this year in their campaign to spread an atmosphere of fear and undermine claims by the Afghan government and its Western backers that they are bringing security to the war-ravaged nation."She was walking to work this morning. There were two people on a motorcycle. They got off the motorcycle and shot her and then went away on the motorcycle. She was dead pretty soon afterwards," said Mark Lyth, the board chairman of SERVE Afghanistan, the aid agency which employed the woman.The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. "We killed her for spreading Christian propaganda," Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the militant group, told Reuters by telephone.SERVE Afghanistan is a British-based Christian aid organization focusing on community development and education and training for people with disabilities.
Though NATO insists increased Taliban attacks this year bely its success in weakening the Islamist rebels, targeted Taliban assassinations, suicide and roadside bombs have increased the sense of personal insecurity among Afghans and foreigners alike.A suicide bomber hit a convoy of German troops in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan on Monday, killing five children and two German soldiers, a senior police official said....
To read more go to:
PS:Gayle is now strolling the streets of gold in heaven....!!!Thank you Gayle for being brave and obeying the Lord about Afghanistan....!
Please remember to pray for her family and loved ones and for SERVE and all the other aid workers that are there to HELP afghanis...!!!!!
Please pray for all those who were touched by Gayle's life in Afghanistan....!!!!
Pray for the church in Afghanistan!!!!!!
As in the days of Noah....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Iran feeling the tensions between faith and religious freedoms

Iran-The Iranian Government is being asked to reconsider their highly controversial draft bill on apostasy.Al Janssen with Open Doors says, "The European Union has issued a declaration urging Iran to drop the apostasy bill and also to release Christian converts from prison. So, I'm hoping that other nations will get involved on that and that there will be a lot of pressure put on Iran."According to the declaration, the European Union reportedly "is very concerned at the deterioration in the exercise of freedom of religion or belief, and especially the freedom of worship in Iran where the pressure on people belonging to religious minorities has worsened in recent months."It goes on to say, in part, that "if adopted, that law would be a serious infringement of the freedom of religion or belief, which includes the right to change religion and the right to have no religion. It would violate Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was freely ratified by Iran, and would threaten the lives of a number of Iranians who have been arrested and held without trial for several months on account of their religious beliefs."Is the declaration effective? Iran's response to the protest of their nuclear threat is telling. But Janssen says it makes a statement to believers, as does a special training course Open Doors is providing.Because the official church is under strict control, personal growth is heavily retarded. Open Doors believes the best way for these Christians to meet for growth, worship and fellowship in safety is to join in independent cell groups."We have been developing, for some time, a discipleship course for Muslim-background believers.They have not grown up in a Christian context; they really are starting from scratch when it comes to discipleship. Those have huge impact on their lives. How do they practice their faith while still remain in an Islamic context?"
Click here if you want more details, or if you can help .

As in the days of Noah...

Violence Against Christians in Orissa:Please call your Representative today!

During these uncertain economic times, it can be hard to focus on issues on the other side of the world. Yet, this is a good opportunity to empathize with and act on behalf of Christians in Orissa who face great physical uncertainties.Recently Congressman Akin introduced a Congressional resolution calling on the Indian government to stop the violence against Christians and to protect religious freedom for Indians of all faiths.We need your help to get more Congressional signatures on this resolution. To be more effective, the resolution needs bi-partisan support. We are partnering with other like-minded organizations to gather more Congressional signatures.Please take a minute to call your Representative’s office and ask him/her to co-sponsor House Concurrent Resolution 434 when Congress reconvenes. This resolution calls on the Indian government to stop violence against Christians in Orissa. You can find your Representative’s phone number here, and a sample phone script here.
From Open Doors USA
As in the days of Noah...

A church in Kenya attacked by Muslim mob

Kenya-A longstanding effort to replace a church with a mosque in Kenya's northern town of Garissa culminated in an attack by 50 Muslim youths this month that left the worship building in ruins.Compass Direct reports the gang stormed the building of Redeemed Gospel Church and pelted the congregation with stones, sending many Christians fleeing while others became embroiled in fistfights.Ten Christians received hospital treatment for minor injuries and were released.Jonathan Racho with International Christian Concern says anti-Christian violence is growing in Northern Kenya. "It's a part of Kenya where Muslims make up the majority, so there is a growing hostility against Christians in these parts, and this is partly because of the growth and influence of Islam elements inside Somalia."Most of the people there are ethnic Somalis.Tensions between Christians and the Muslim-majority population in the semi-desert town of 20,000 people began simmering after Muslims built a mosque next to the church in June 2007. Purchasing its land on Nov. 1, 1999, the church had begun worshipping there by early 2001, eventually growing to 400 members.Church leaders complained to the district commissioner in June 2007 that the new mosque was built too close to the church-only three meters separate the two structures-and that it was blocking the church entryway.The government is striving to avert further incidents by preventing the Christians from returning to the ruined structure, according to a Provincial Police official identified only as Chelimo. With tensions expected to rise during the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said police were taking precautionary measures to ensure that the congregation never returned to their property."To allow this would be suicidal," Chelimo told Compass. "We have deployed five security guards every day to make sure that the members of the church will not enter its structure."Racho says Christians are turning to authorities, but "no one in the administration is protecting them. The Christians are not being protected. The people who attacked them are free on the streets. They are not in prison. This is really disappointing."Christians are concerned the more violence is coming, says Racho."The Muslims in Garrisa are openly saying that they are going to destroy other churches, too. So there is no reason why they won't implement what they are saying."International Christian Concern is asking you to contact the Kenyan Embassy and ask them to protect Christians in Northern Kenya.
Here's the Kenya Embassy Contact Information:
Embassy of Kenya
2249 R Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Telephone: (202) 387-6101
As in the days of Noah.....

REMEMBERING RAMI AYYAD Murdered on 10/7/07:Palestinian Christian Stabbed To Death in Hamas Controlled Gaza

Rami Ayyad the director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza was stabbed to death and his body dumped in a field near Gaza city;s Zeitoun neighborhood. Since the Hamas takeover in Gaza there have been an increasing number of attacks against Palestinian Christians who comprise a small percentage of the 1.5 million living in the Gaza Strip. Since the outbreak of the Al Aksa intifada seven years ago, thousands of Palestinian Christians have fled abroad. Bethlehem is no longer a predominently Christian city and in the Gaza Strip, the small Christian population has to depend on Hamas security forces to protect them...

PS:Please remember Rami's wife Pauline and children in your prayers....!!!!
As in the days of Noah...

October 7 marked the first anniversary of the murder of Rami Ayyad

Rami Ayyad
Rami Ayyad's Funeral--October 2007
Your prayers and notes of encouragement to Pauline Ayyad, wife of Rami, the manager of the Bible Society Bookshop in Gaza, and their children, Georg, Sam, and 8-month baby girl Wisam, have meant so much to the family.
Continue to encourage this young family by sending them a card or letter, please refer to the Letter Writing guidelines....
As in the days of Noah...

Philippino Christians Fear Failed Pact Increases Risk of Reprisals:Frustrated Muslim demand for larger autonomous region in Mindanao could lead to war

DUBLIN-Militant Islamists in the southern island of Mindanao have stepped up their attacks on majority-Christian villages following the failure of a peace agreement that would have enlarged an existing Muslim autonomous region there.With Muslim commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the southern Philippines yesterday saying ongoing support from the international community was necessary to prevent a full-scale war breaking out in Mindanao, both Muslim and Christian residents in the disputed territories were fearful of what the future might hold.“The problem is that many people living in these areas don’t want to be part of a Muslim autonomous region,” a source in Mindanao who preferred to remain anonymous told Compass.“The closer you get to these zones, the more nervous people are,” he said. “The town of Kolambugan, where most of the fighting took place in mid-August, became a virtual ghost town for a while. It had a population of 25,000. But people are slowly returning to their homes.”A Christian family from the area said many people were afraid to sleep at night because they kept hearing reports that they would be attacked at midnight.“When MILF forces attack Christian villages, Muslim neighbors are afraid that Christians will retaliate against them, even though they have nothing to do with the violence,” the source added. “This has happened in the past.”He also explained that some moderate Muslims are drawn to support the MILF because the rebels claim the Christians have stolen their ancestral homelands. Communities in Mindanao often struggle with extreme poverty.“If MILF is successful in gaining control over these lands, the people assume that their economic situation will improve,” he said. “So although they want the fighting to stop, they sympathize with the MILF.”While the conflict is primarily political, religion plays a significant role. As a member of the Moro Youth League stated in an Aug. 5 national television interview in the Philippines, “As a Muslim, in order to live in a righteous way, you need to be living under sharia [Islamic] law and with an Islamic government. We believe we have the right to fight for this.”Other Youth League members on the program agreed that sharia was a primary objective of autonomy, and that Islam was the only “real path of doing anything in this world.”
Violence Erupts
Some 2,000 MILF supporters yesterday held a protest march in Marawi city, Lanao del Sur, appealing to the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to compel the Philippine government to revive the aborted peace agreement that would have enlarged the existing Muslim autonomous region in the south.Breakaway MILF commanders on Aug. 18 attacked several majority-Christian villages after the Supreme Court prevented the Aug. 5 signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). The agreement potentially would have given the MILF power to establish an Islamic state governed by sharia law.Christian leaders in Mindanao appealed to the Supreme Court when they realized that if they voted against inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), their majority-Christian villages would become small islands in the midst of MILF-administered territory. As a result, they feared, they would be forced to move elsewhere.Incensed by the 11th-hour stalling of the agreement, three MILF commanders on their own initiative led attacks against towns in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte provinces on Aug. 18, burning homes, seizing livestock and killing at least 37 people. Another 44,000 residents immediately fled the area.When some Christian residents armed themselves in defense, Secretary of Interior Ronaldo Puno warned that anyone carrying weapons would be disarmed.The MILF has only 11,000 active fighting men, according to local estimates. But by Aug. 20, the National Disaster Coordinating Council had reported a total of 159,000 people displaced by the rebel attacks.The Philippine army quickly retaliated, sweeping villages in an attempt to seize the rebel commanders.After two weeks of violent clashes, the Philippine government officially abandoned the MOA-AD. Spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would seek a new agreement based on consultation with legislators and local politicians rather than negotiations with the MILF.Furthermore, the government would concentrate on the “disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation” of MILF cadres, Fajardo said.In response, MILF leaders rejected any renegotiation of the peace deal with Arroyo’s administration.
Overcoming Prejudice
An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Aug. 7 stated that the MOA-AD would only reinforce prejudices between Christian and Muslim communities.Under the agreement, WSJ claimed, the government would further divide Mindanao into Muslim and Christian enclaves, increasing the likelihood of territorial disputes. Separating Muslims from the rest of Philippine society, it stated, would encourage a vision already held by MILF to help create a pan-Islamic state covering several countries in the region, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Finally, the WSJ said, less Philippine control of Mindanao would “invite even more terrorist activity in an area that already has strong ties to al Qaeda.”While there are proven terrorist leanings in groups such as the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf, not all area Muslims approve of or engage in such activities.Camilo Montesa, a key figure in peace negotiations, in his blog on Aug. 30 described an encounter with a young man who believed that Muslim residents would readily seize property from Christians once the BJE were formed.Others told Montesa that, “Muslims were scouting and marking the big houses of Christians in Cotabato and staking a claim over them in anticipation of the signing of the peace agreement.”“The hearts and minds of the people are the battlefields, and not some hill or base camp,” Montesa concluded. “There is a limit to what arms and war can produce ... It is unfortunate that we are so divided as a people at this point in our national life.”
Reclaiming ‘Ancestral Domains’
As Islamic identity strengthened in the Middle East after World War II – and as many Philippine Muslims traveled to study in Middle Eastern countries – certain sectors of the Bangsamoro population became committed to reclaiming “ancestral domains.”Their claims dated back to the rule of the Sultanate of Sulu, which existed prior to Spanish colonial rule in the 1500s, and the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935. When the last sultan died in 1936, the fledgling Philippine government refused to recognize his heir, effectively eradicating the traditional Bangsamoro power base.When the Philippines became a republic in 1946, its constitution allowed for the establishment of an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. Initially the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fought alone for this autonomous territory; in 1977, however, MNLF member Hashim Salamat – who had studied in Saudi Arabia – and his followers seceded from the movement and founded the rival MILF.The Philippine government signed an agreement with the MNLF in January 1987, and territories were added to the resulting Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) through a series of plebiscites or referendums in 1989, 2001, 2002 and 2006.MILF commanders later laid claim to a further 712 villages outside the ARMM.Negotiations between the government and the MILF began in earnest in June 2001. Both parties were to formally sign the resulting MOA-AD on Aug. 5, a deal which could have led to the creation of the separate Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, or fully-functioning state, replacing the ARMM by 2010.When details of the agreement were leaked to the press, however, Christian politicians in regions of Mindanao affected by the agreement appealed to the Supreme Court, which in turn issued a temporary restraining order on the signing of the agreement on Aug. 4.
As in the days of Noah....

Iraq's Christians "sacrificial lambs" as attacks mount

Displaced Christian children do their homework in a room in al-Saida monastery in Al-Qosh village, 45 km (28 miles) north of Mosul October 18, 2008. Christians have become targets of sectarian attacks. Such is the plight of some 1,500 Christian families who in the past two weeks have fled homes in Iraq's ethnically mixed, and stubbornly violent, city of Mosul. Picture taken October 18, 2008.
REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani
AL-QOSH, Iraq-A Christian family huddles in an austere room in a monastery in northern Iraq, their belongings piled up around them. It is now home, since members of their religious minority became targets of sectarian attacks.The father, an engineer who was so scared that he asked to keep his name and that of his family unidentified, rushed his wife and two daughters to the Chaldean Catholic al-Saida monastery at the foot of arid mountains in northern Iraq on October 9, a day after hearing that four fellow Christians were killed."The explosions continue. There is no safety," he says with his youngest daughter draped on his lap.Such is the plight of some 1,500 Christian families who in the past two weeks have fled homes in Iraq's ethnically mixed, and stubbornly violent, city of Mosul.U.S., U.N. and Iraqi officials have condemned the attacks, which some in Iraq believe could foreshadow renewed bloodshed even as violence drops sharply across the country.The exodus of close to half of Mosul's Christians shows the fragility of security gains, especially in areas where cultures, religions and ethnicities collide. It also raises the specter of violence ahead of provincial elections that could alter the power balance in strategic cities like Mosul.So far, no one has taken responsibility for the deaths of about 12 Christians this month, which were followed by death threats and property attacks that prompted thousands to flee.Christians whisper that they are targets of a systematic campaign against them. Some blame Islamic militants, while others quietly point a finger at Mosul's politically powerful Kurdish minority. Most are too frightened to go into details.
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Son of Pastor Bike Zhang in Critical Condition after Severe Beating from PSB officials

BEIJING – ChinaAid has learned that Zhang Jian, the elder son of Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan, was severely beaten by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials while at home with his mother, Xie Fenglan, in Beijing on October 16. Xie Fenglan testified that at about noon Beijing time, 15 Beijing PSB officers entered their residence and secured the exits before severely beating Zhang Jian with iron bars for 25 minutes. As Zhang Jian lay bleeding profusely, his mother called an ambulance, but the receptionist told her that a higher government authority gave a directive not to dispatch any ambulance to rescue her son because he is related to Pastor Bike Zhang. Zhang Jian’s mother then called her younger son, Zhang Chuang, who rushed to the house where he was also beaten by the same authorities. After some time, a personal friend of the Zhang family was able to take Zhang Jian to the Beijing Min Hang (Aviation) Hospital emergency room where Zhang Jian remains now. His doctor said Zhang Jian’s right eye may lose sight forever because of the severe damage resulting from the repeated beating. Pastor Bike Zhang, who was traveling in Yunnan province at the time, is currently unable to be contacted. It is assumed that he has been detained by authorities.
Pastor Bike Zhang’s wife, Xie Fenglan, was kicked out of her legally rented apartment, located at Room 206-102 at the Beijing Olympic Garden apartments, after her elder son Zhang Jian was sent to the hospital. The family’s furniture was thrown into the street. Government authorities ordered all hotels in Beijing not host her so she is now residing at Dr. Fan Yafeng’s home. Dr. Fan, a house church leader in Beijing, is an internationally renowned Chinese Constitutional law scholar and rights defender.
ChinaAid strongly condemns the unjust and criminal actions of the Chinese government. The brutal and unprovoked assaults on innocent civilians are acts of desperation and cowardice of a regime that has continued to ignore basic human rights and freedoms despite outcries from the international community. These reprehensible acts by the Chinese government should serve as a reminder to the international community that the Communist Party of China is only interested in self-preservation and will gladly sacrifice its own citizens’ freedoms in order to maintain its corrupt power.
During the past 22 years, Pastor Bike and his family members have been arrested, beaten and evicted from their home numerous times because of their Christian faith, yet he and his family continue to serve the house church Christians in Beijing.
Voice your concern for this incident by contacting:
Chinese Embassy in Washington DC
Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.,
Washington D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 338-6688,(202)5889760
Fax: (202) 588-9760

As in the days of Noah...

Iraqi Christians Targeted

Christians flee Mosul after threats, attacks: UNHCR

GENEVA-About half of the Christians in Iraq's northern town of Mosul, nearly 10,000 people, have fled in the past week after attacks and threats, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Iraq's ministry of displacement and migration had reported that about 1,560 families or 9,360 people left Mosul. UNHCR could not confirm the figure but was concerned about the mass displacement."The displaced population would represent about half of the Christians in the Mosul area," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.Most Christian Iraqis had decided to leave Mosul following "direct as well as indirect threats and intimidation," he said.Printed threats had been received on the university campus, in homes and on text messages sent to mobile phones, Redmond said. "We really don't have a firm indication or do people we've talked to know exactly where the threats are coming from."Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, remains one of Iraq's most restive cities even as violence has dramatically dropped elsewhere in the country.The Iraqi authorities and the U.S. military says that al Qaeda, the Sunni Islamist militant group allied to Osama bin Laden that Washington blames for much of Iraq's violence, are still active in Mosul.At least a dozen people were wounded in a series of bomb explosions on Tuesday and Wednesday in the city, and at least two insurgents were killed in clashes with police.Most of the Christians who fled Mosul are staying with relatives in surrounding areas, while some have gone as far as Dahuk and Arbil, Redmond said.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shariah sentence threatens Christian woman's family:'All of their children and grandchildren would be registered as Muslims'

Lawyers for a woman arrested for living as a Christian despite her father's conversion to Islam when she was a child now worry that her country's confusing blend of national and Shariah legal systems may result in a punishment that sweeps through her entire family, even down to her grandchildren.As WND reported, Christian sisters Shadia Ibrahim and Bahia El-Sisi of Egypt were surprised in their late 40s to learn that their father had briefly converted to Islam when they were children.Under Egyptian law, their father's conversion made the sisters Muslim for life, so they were convicted of fraud for putting "Christian" on their identity documents, including Bahia's marriage certificate.Now, a lawyer for Bahia worries if the courts enforce her legal identity as a Muslim, her entire family could pay the price.According to Islamic jurisprudence, parental custody is awarded to whichever parent has the "superior" religion, and no non-Muslim is allowed jurisdiction over a Muslim.In other words, Bahia's legally dictated status as a Muslim could mean that her husband would be compelled to convert to Islam or have their marriage nullified. Her children, too, would be reclassified as Muslim, creating the same problem for their Christian spouses and their children."All of their children and grandchildren would be registered as Muslims," attorney Peter Ramses told Compass Direct News. "(The ruling) would affect many people."The sisters were charged with fraud even though they didn't know that according to Egyptian law, their father's conversion in 1962 made them Muslim, the South African Press Association reported.Their father, Nagui Ibrahim, left home and converted to Islam when the sisters were very young. He reconciled with his wife three years later and re-converted to Christianity. In the process, he had someone forge his personal identity documents to say he was Christian.The man who forged Nagu Ibrahim's documents was detained in 1996 for falsifying dozens of documents and confessed to changing Ibrahim's papers, SAPA reported.When the two daughters visited the man who had helped their father, according the Egyptian national weekly Watani, they were detained and accused of forging their Christian identification documents.Convicted of fraud, Shadia later served time in prison while her sister, Bahia, went into hiding, reports Compass Direct News. When Shadia's sentence was retracted two months later following rallies and legal pressure from various organizations, Bahia resurfaced.But last month, despite the retraction in her sister's case, a judge sentenced Bahia to three years in prison for "forgery of an official document," her marriage license."This is a sick environment that we struggle to change," said Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of Watani. "According to what is taking place here freedom is protected and provided for Christians to convert to Islam while the opposite is not provided.""How can the government say to (someone) who has lived 50 years in a Christian way that they must become a Muslim and their children must be Muslim and their whole family must all be Muslims?" asked Ramses. "This is very important for the freedom of religion." Ramses has vowed to appeal Bahia's case to Egypt's Supreme Court. He told Compass Direct News he worries that if the judges decide against Bahia, it might endanger the already precarious position of religious minorities in the Muslim-dominated country.Other legal sources assured Compass Direct News that the court is likely to agree with Ramses and follow her sister's path by retracting Bahia's sentence.
by Drew Zahn
As in the days of Noah...

Terrified Christian Families Flee Iraq's Mosul

BAGHDAD-Hundreds of terrified Christian families have fled Mosul to escape extremist attacks that have increased despite months of U.S. and Iraqi military operations to secure the northern Iraqi city, political and religious officials said Saturday.Some 3,000 Christians have fled the city over the past week alone in a "major displacement," said Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, the governor of northern Iraq's Ninevah province. He said most have left for churches, monasteries and the homes of relatives in nearby Christian villages and towns."The Christians were subjected to abduction attempts and paid ransom, but now they are subjected to a killing campaign," Kashmoula said, adding he believed "Al Qaeda" elements were to blame and called for a renewed drive to root them out.Political and religious leaders interviewed said the change in tactics may reflect a desire on the part of extremists to forcibly evict all Christians from Iraq's third largest city. Earlier this week, Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako said he was worried about what he termed a "campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian citizens in Mosul."Mosul police have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians in separate attacks so far this month, the latest a day laborer found on Wednesday. On Saturday, militants blew up three abandoned Christian homes in eastern Mosul, police said.Father Bolis Jacob of Mosul's Mar Afram Church said he was at a loss to understand the violence."We respect the Islamic religion and the Muslim clerics," he said."We don't know under what religion's pretexts these terrorists work."The violence in Mosul occurs despite U.S.-Iraqi operations launched over the summer aimed at routing Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents from remaining strongholds north of the capital.The killings come as Christian leaders are lobbying parliament to pass a law setting aside a number of seats for minorities, such as Christians, in upcoming provincial elections, fearing they could be further marginalized in the predominantly Muslim country.Iraq's Christian community has been estimated at 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, or about 800,000, and has a significant presence in the northern Ninevah province.In Mosul, where Christians have lived for some 1,800 years, a number of centuries-old churches still stand. Joseph Jacob, a professor at Mosul University, said there were nearly 20,000 Christians in the city before the 2003 U.S. invasion. But over half have since left for neighboring towns, or new countries, he said.Islamic extremists have frequently targeted Christians since the invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee Iraq. Attacks had tapered off amid a drastic decline in overall violence nationwide, but that appears to be changing with the deaths this month.On Saturday, Bashir Azoz, a 45-year-old carpenter, said he was forced to flee his home in the city's eastern Noor area after gunmen warned a neighbor the day before to leave or face death."Where is the government and its security forces as these crimes take place every day?" asked Azoz, who is now staying with his wife and three children in a monastery in the Christian-majority town of Qarqoush, east of Mosul.Separately on Saturday, a U.S. soldier died when a bomb exploded near his vehicle outside Amarah, southeast of Baghdad. The U.S. military said it was withholding soldier's name until it notified next of kin.
As in the days of Noah....

Two Pakistani Christians accused of desecrating Quran

All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) chief calls for repeal of Pakistan blasphemy laws...
FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN-A Pakistani Christian man and his daughter have been arrested by the police after they were accused of desecrating the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in Gojra, a famous village of Tehsil Jhumra in district Faisalabad in Punjab province in Pakistan.ANS has learnt that a seven year old son of Gulsher named Amsal picked a polythene bag from the street and brought it to his home on October 8.The child gave the bag to his 18 year old sister, Sandal, who found torn pages of Quran among the contents of the bag.Sandal gave the bag to her female Muslim neighbor, asking her to give it the local cleric.A Muslim lady, Samina bibi, a resident of the area, had a minor clash with Gulsher’s family some time back. She had then allegedly threatened Gulsher’s family with dire consequences.In an apparent bid to settle personal scores with Gulsher’s family, Samina alleged that Gulsher and Sandal had desecrated pages of Quran before handing them to their Muslim neighbor.Local clerics made announcements from minarets of mosques to make the “desecration” public with a view to incite Muslims to attack the “blasphemers”.On October 9, hundreds of angry Muslims came out of their houses after learning about the alleged desecration of the Quran. The charged mob attacked Gulsher’s house but the police managed to pull the family out of harm’s way.The local Muslims later pressured the police to lodge a blasphemy case against Gulsher and Sandal.A case vide, Police First Information report no. 396/2008 under section 295-B, which carries life imprisonment if convicted, has been filed against the accused by one Farooq Alam, a complainant in the case.ANS has learnt that Farooq denied witnessing any desecration either by Gulsher or Sandal.He reportedly told the police that he had been told that Gulsher and Sandal had committed profanity.The police presented Sandal, one of the accused, before a magistrate. Eric Sandhu, APMA lawyer and district legal coordinator of Faisalabad defended Sandal in the court.He pleaded in the court that the Christian teenage girl is innocent and prayed the court that she be granted post-arrest bail. The magistrate sent her to district jail Faisalabad after refusing post-arrest bail plea.A Muslim mob maintained its presence outside the court. They chanted slogans against the accused and their family. Talking to ANS the Chief of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, a leading umbrella organization of Pakistan minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti said that the APMA team members from Jhumra, a nearby village, and from Faisalabad rushed to the scene of incident and rescued the endangered family with the help of the Police.Sensing danger to the lives of the rest of family members, the APMA members have moved them to safety, Shahbaz told ANS. He said he would also take up the case with the higher authorities. Lamenting the misuse of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, he said the law had become a death warrant in the hands of extremists, who he said were already bent upon destabilizing the country. Shahbaz called for repeal of all discriminatory laws including Pakistan blasphemy laws. The APMA has also taken up the case of Dr. Robin, a resident of district Hafizabad and other blasphemy accused as well. Shahbaz expressed optimism that Dr. Robin would be acquitted. The APMA Chief said that the APMA lawyers would defend the accused. He said the APMA will extend needed support and assistance to the family members of the accused. He said that the fresh blasphemy case was a clear example of misuse of the disputed laws. “The case is baseless, fallacious, concocted and based on personal enmity with the accused”, he remarked. Shahbaz appealed for prayers for the protection and release of Gulsher and his daughter.
By Sheraz Khurram Khan
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service in Pakistan
As in the days of Noah...

India church: 50,000 flee anti-Christian clashes;Dozens of 'sacrificial lambs' killed in violence blamed on Hindu hard-liners

NEW DELHI - Indian church leaders said Tuesday that Christians killed in recent clashes were "sacrificial lambs" targeted by hard-line Hindus seeking an advantage in upcoming national elections.The All India Christian Council said the toll after nearly two months of sporadic violence has reached 59 dead and 50,000 displaced. Officials in the eastern state of Orissa, site of the worst violence, say 34 people have been killed. The recent violence began after Hindu activists blamed Christians for the slaying of a Hindu leader killed in Orissa on Aug. 23. Retaliatory attacks left scores dead, dozens of churches destroyed and thousands of people homeless, despite the government's claim that Maoists killed the Hindu leader."A frenzied and well-armed band of political criminals has threatened our community as perhaps it has never been in its 2,000 year-old history in India," said John Dayal, secretary-general of the All India Christian Council.There is a long history of tension between the religious groups in Orissa because Hindu leaders accuse Christian missionaries of forcing low-caste Hindus to convert, charges denied by Christian leaders.Leaders from the council on Tuesday said the violence was led by hard-line Hindu parties preparing for national elections, expected early next year, by whipping up religious fervor."The sole motive is to gain political advantage in coming national elections," said Dayal. "We have been made sacrificial lambs."The Christian leaders blamed the violence on radical Hindu groups, including the Bajrang Dal and the World Hindu Council, organizations loosely affiliated with the hard-line Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP rules Orissa and Karnataka, the two states that have seen anti-Christian violence, and is looking to challenge the ruling Congress Party for power in New Delhi.Roughly 2.5 percent of India's 1.1 billion people are Christians, while more than 80 percent are Hindu. India is officially a secular nation.The Christian leaders called Tuesday for a federal probe into the violence.

As in the days of Noah...

Iraqi Christians Flee Mosul

Iraqi officials to probe attacks on Christians

MOSUL, Iraq-Iraq's government pledged on Tuesday to send senior officials to northern Iraq to tackle violence against Christians which has led thousands to flee their homes fearing for their lives."The cabinet stressed the need to move quickly to support the security effort with intensive military operations to restore security and order in Mosul and to reassure citizens," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.Dabbagh said the government would send a cabinet-level delegation to Mosul, an ethnically mixed city where hundreds of Christian families have fled their homes in recent days, to investigate this "painful situation."Yunadim Kanna, a Christian lawmaker, said more than 1,500 families had left following recent killings of Christians.The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim, has condemned the attacks and has sent more than 1,000 police to keep watch over the Christians in the city, some 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.Kanna, who met Maliki along with other Christian officials Monday, said the situation had stabilized somewhat. "We expect these areas to be controlled, and the families to return to their homes in coming days," he said. Major-General Ali Ghaidan, commander of Iraqi ground forces, said the fruits of the recent crackdown would soon be visible, attributing the exodus to "media exaggeration that gave rise to fear and horror among these families...even if no threat was received."The targeted violence in Mosul has brought renewed attention to the plight of Iraq's Christians, who number in the hundreds of thousands and who have tried to keep out of violence between Muslim sects in the past four years.A number of Christian clergy have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq and churches have been bombed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul was kidnapped in February and his body was found two weeks later...
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