Archive for Muslims

Another Surge Needed

Posted in Iraq with tags , , , , on June 24, 2008 by Mike

Robin Harris at National Review Online has an excellent article about the imminent extinction of the Christian Church in Iraq.

Members of all religions have been affected by the violence since the toppling of Saddam Hussein. But Christians are in a worse position since they suffer directly because of their Christian faith. Targeted by Islamist extremists, they are confronted by demands to convert, death threats, looting of their homes and businesses, systematic intimidation, abductions for ransom, bombings, and frequently murder. Because Christians are known to be weak they and their property are also prey to gangsterism. Churches and church leaders are particular targets for Islamists. The 65-year-old Chaldean archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul was abducted and murdered in March. Numerous priests and deacons have been tortured and shot or beheaded. At least 40 churches have been burnt.

The Iraqi Christian community has disappeared altogether from many areas of the country. Baghdad is rapidly emptying of its once flourishing Christian community, whose members have fled north to the traditional Christian homeland in the towns and villages of the plains of Nineveh. But here too they are hugely vulnerable. The regionally dominant Kurds, with whom relations have historically been bad and occasionally bloody, have little interest in offering protection. The Shia-dominated government in Baghdad is distant, unsympathetic, and has its own interests and problems. Even the relative success of the U.S. surge strategy has brought difficulties for the Christians, because the struggle with al-Qaeda is now focused on the regional centre Mosul, where Christians had hoped to find security. The Christian population itself is unused to bearing arms. It has no militia to defend it. It has no regional protectors. It is subject to pressures of illegal land confiscation and annexation, aimed at pushing it out of its last refuge.

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Iranian Christian Arrested Without Charges

Posted in Iran with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2008 by Mike

Compass Direct News is reporting that Eight policemen arrested Mohsen Namvar, 44, from his Tehran home on May 31, refusing to provide any reason for his arrest.

The officers confiscated a number of the Christian’s personal belongings including his computer, printer, CDs, books and money. His location remains unknown.

An Iranian pastor residing outside the country said that Namvar had anticipated that police would come for him.

“I know that if they decide to kill me as a martyr, you will care for my wife and my children,” the father of two told the Iranian pastor last month.

Acquaintances warned Namvar that he had been implicated during police interrogations of Christians in the city of Amol in April, the pastor residing abroad said. That month officials had detained several Christians in Amol, 80 miles northeast of Tehran, releasing them over the following weeks.

Treatment of Christians in jail follows a customary pattern, the pastor said: Authorities put them in jail for a few weeks and beat them in an attempt to get information about other converts.

Police had previously detained and tortured Namvar for baptizing Muslim converts to Christianity. The Christian was unable to walk for several months after police repeatedly applied electrical shocks to his back in the spring of 2007.

A Nigerian Shepherd Fighting For His Sheep

Posted in Nigeria with tags , , , , on December 23, 2007 by Mike

Pastor Pam (photo by Shola Oshunkeye)The Rev. Yakubu Pam, an Assemblies of God minister in Nigeria, once met with the (now former) president of Nigeria after a series of attacks by Muslims and Christians against each other in 2004. At the meeting, at which Pam was accompanied by other fellow Christian leaders, President Obasanjo called Pam an idiot and mocked the Christians.

Shola Oshunkeye and Ndidi Kenedy-Ukaga from The Sun News recently interviewed Pastor Pam about the religious violence still occuring in Nigeria and the challenges he faces as a minister and a Christian in northern Nigeria. This is a great interview which gives insight into the fight that one Christian is fighting on the front lines of a war, both spiritual and physical, in a war-torn country.

Do you take your positions on national issues due to a deep conviction or are you just doing what you are doing to win the people’s heart and cheers?
It is pure conviction. If you look at the scripture in Luke 10, Jesus Christ sent his disciples to diverse cities to preach the gospel. I believe, as a pastor, we are called to serve the nation as well. I never bribed God for me to be born in Nigeria. If I had an option or a choice as to where I wanted to be born, I wouldn’t have chosen to be born here but since I am a Nigerian and a pastor, I will speak the truth and the word of God. The bible says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” So, when we speak the truth to the nation, we are offering drugs that cure all forms of diseases attacking the nation. It is only God that can heal Nigeria.

Are you saying that only the truth can heal Nigeria?
Yes, only the truth can heal Nigeria.

Talking about speaking the truth, you, as a northerner based in the North, which is a volatile place in terms of religious disharmony, how much of the truth can you speak boldly in an environment like that?
If by speaking the truth, I have been brought to the limelight, if I had the courage to speak the truth to former President Olusegun Obasanjo the way I did during my altercation with him, then what volatility are we talking about here? Wherever you are, you should be bold enough to defend the truth. Boldness is an attribute from God. We must be bold when we have and know the truth. It does not matter where you are speaking. Christians in the North are rated as second-class citizens, with a lot of discrimination. Yet all these factors can’t stop me from speaking out from the North. I have seen the result of speaking the truth.

7 Suspects in Attacks on Christians Released

Posted in Egypt with tags , , , , on December 21, 2007 by Mike

The Assyrian International News Agency is reporting that 7 Muslims who were arrested in the wake of Muslim attacks on Coptic Christians in a town south of Cairo, Egypt, were release just two days later.

The attackers had hurled stones and set fire to several shops, smashed windows of a Coptic church and damaged two cars in the early morning hours Sunday in Isna, about 560 kilometers (350 miles) south of Cairo.

Police detained 15 people suspected of taking part in the attacks. The seven released were believed to be the main suspects, the official from the prosecutors’ office said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The grounds for the release of the seven, the fate of the remaining detainees or what this meant for the investigation was not immediately clear.

Muslim Mob Destroys Christian Stores

Posted in Egypt with tags , , , , on December 18, 2007 by Mike

The Christian Post is reporting that a mob of angry Muslims attacked and destroyed numerous Christian-owned stores in a city south of Cairo, Egypt.

At least 13 shops were destroyed and the windows of a church damaged, according international news agencies. Although the motivation behind the destruction remains unclear, Reuters claimed the riot started after a Muslim girl was suspected of having sexual relations with two Christian boys.

This was followed by another report that a Muslim woman had her veil forcefully removed by two Coptic Christians in a car parking lot on Saturday, reported the Canadian Press.

Currently, police have upgraded security and imposed a curfew on the town.

Coptic Christians account for 10 percent of the total population of Egypt and often face persecution from the Egyptian government. They claim that their rights in particular are being curtailed through requirements such as needing a license to build a church whereas Muslims can build mosques anywhere as they please.

The Pope’s Meeting with Saudi King

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , , on November 11, 2007 by Mike

Regarding my earlier post regarding the Pope’s meeting with the Saudi King, I mistakenly stated that the Pope was going to visit Saudi Arabia. Actually, King Abdullah visited the Vatican. Here’s some of BBC News’ account of the historic meeting:

The Vatican said the talks allowed a wide discussion on the need for religious and cultural dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jews “for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family.”

Both sides also emphasised the need for a “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Vatican said.

About a million Catholics, many of them migrant workers from the Philippines, live in the conservative desert kingdom, which is the home of Islam’s holiest shrines.

They are allowed to worship in private, mostly in people’s homes, but worship in public places and outward signs of faith, such as crucifixes, are forbidden.

Christians complain that rules are not clear and hardline Muslim authorities sometimes crack down on legitimate congregations.

Christians in Pakistan Fearful During Unrest

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , on November 5, 2007 by Mike

Ekklesia is reporting that with the present turmoil in Pakistan, Christians and other minorities are worried that Muslims will use the violence as an excuse to commit further acts of violence against them.

In one of a number of incidents in recent weeks, two Catholic sanitary workers were reportedly shot and killed because they refused to convert to Islam. Bribery allegations were also involved.

A Catholic-run public high school in Sangota, in the Swat Valley, was also attacked by a group calling itself Janisaran-i-Islam, allegedly for “forcibly converting students” and “encouraging un-Islamic behaviour.” The school has re-opened after a period of closure.

But some Muslims who boycotted and attacked Christians in Gowindh, a Punjabi village of 10,000 people, have subsequently apologised for their actions, which were stirred up by misinformation from extremists.

Several Pakistani Christian leaders and church officials have distanced themselves from General Musharraf and criticised his policies recently, amidst claims from militants that they back the West and US policies.

Keep our Pakistani brothers and sisters in your prayers during this time of turbulence.