Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Security Beefed Up for Peaceful Christmas in India

NEW DELHI – Authorities in communally sensitive Kandhamal district, Orissa state, have beefed up security for vulnerable Christians.Thousands of police have been deployed in the district to prevent any attacks or violence during Christmas.
"All hot spot areas in Kandhamal have been secured. We have also intensified checking in all entry and exit points," said Superintendent of Police S. Praveen Kumar.He told media that police patrolling will be enhanced to ensure a trouble-free Christmas.
Major violence against Christians began during the Yuletide celebration in 2007. Dozens of churches were razed down and many were beaten on concocted allegations.Following this, the murder of a Hindu leader in August 2008 triggered one of the worst incidents of anti-Christian violence in the country. Hundreds were killed, thousands of homes were burned and looted, and churches were attacked by anti-social elements....

Christians in Vietnam Hold Another Historic Celebration

HANOI (Compass Direct News)For the second time in 10 days, Protestant history was made in Vietnam Sunday when 12,000 people gathered for a Christmas rally here.The event, which took place in the large square in front of the entrance to My Dinh National Stadium in the heart of Hanoi, was said to be 10 times larger than any prior Protestant gathering in history in northern Vietnam. On Dec. 11 in southern Vietnam, an estimated 40,000 people attended a Christmas celebration in Ho Chi Minh City.
Local sources said long-requested written permission for the event, entitled “Praise Jesus Together,” never came in spite of several reminders. But four days before the event was to take place, Hanoi authorities and police told organizers – in words as close as they would get to granting permission – that they would “not interfere.”
“One can hardly overestimate the importance of such an event in the lives of northern house church Christians,” said one long-time Compass source. “For many, this will have been the first time to join in a large crowd with other Christians, to feel the growing power of their movement, to hear, see and participate in the high quality, and deeply spiritual mass worship.”
The day before the event, Christians gathered near the stadium for final prayer and to help with preparations. Witnesses said the huge public square at the entrance to the stadium was arrayed with thousands of stools rather than chairs – plastic, backless, and bright blue and red. In 10-foot tall letters, “JESUS’ was emblazoned on the backdrop to the stage...
--Unprecedented Christmas Gathering Held in Vietnam

Iraqi Christians Face Bomb Threats in Run-Up to Christmas

Iraqi Christians buy a Christmas tree in central Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 14, 2009. Although the number of Christians has dropped in Iraq, Christmas, a national holiday in Iraq, is very popular in the capital.(Photo: AP Images / Karim Kadim)
Some churches in Iraq have canceled Christmas services to protect themselves against the threats of bombings on churches.Just a day before Christmas Eve, a bomb planted near Church of St. Thomas in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul killed two men and wounded five others on Wednesday.Earlier this month, a series of bombs left four people dead in Mosul.
"I’m very sad that we are not able to have our rituals for Christmas this year and not have a sermon, but we do not want any Christians to be harmed," Edward Poles, a Christian priest at Sa’a Church in Mosul, which was bombed last week, told The New York Times.
While Christians in the United States prepare to gather in churches and homes to celebrate Christmas, believers in more religiously restrictive countries face more intense persecution during the holiday season....