Archive for Persecution

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.

China Cracking Down on House Churches Leading Up to Games

Posted in China with tags , , , , , , on June 9, 2008 by Mike

The Christian Post is reporting that China is intensifying its crack down on “illegal” house churches.

[A] report, entitled “China: Persecution of Protestant Christians in the Approach to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games,” by U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide and U.S.-based China Aid Association, provides information on different tactics used by the government to restrict the religious freedom of Christians.

“While Chinese house churches have long suffered persecution, this is believed to be the first time that the authorities have systematically cracked down on the ‘third wave churches,’” the report noted. “These are churches amongst the more educated and wealthy sections of society with greater awareness of their rights, which generally meet in urban areas and have been tolerated, even though operating under certain restrictions.”

Tactics used to crack down on unregistered Christians include: targeting well-established unregistered churches; sending landlords directives ordering them to not rent space to those engaging in religious activities; charging Christians in the Xinjiang region of separatism; expelling foreign Christians; targeting repression at the Chinese House Church Alliance; and carrying out the largest mass sentencing of house church leaders in 25 years.

The report also highlights the “disturbing news” that some house church Christians were arrested and fined for trying to help victims of the massive earthquake in Sichuan Province.

Christians in Gaza Targeted

Posted in Gaza with tags , , , on May 26, 2008 by Mike

One News Now is reporting that Christians in Gaza are trapped in a time when persecution of Christians is increasing.

A building in Gaza with an Internet café owned by a Christian was bombed. However, no one was hurt; but windows were shattered. The café had been the target of another failed bombing earlier in the week. Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA says it is the latest in a string of attacks against Christians.

Moeller says it is obvious that the Christian community is being targeted, and that many Christians are faced with the difficult choice to “… [f]lee or to try and stay in their homes.”

“The unfortunate thing for most Christians in Gaza is that they are not able to flee,” notes Moeller. “There’s no possibility of immigration from Gaza for the vast majority of the Christian population there,” he maintains.

Turkmenistan Church Tense After Police Raid

Posted in Turkmenistan with tags , , on May 11, 2008 by Mike

Back in April, 10 officials from various Turmenistan government agencies raided a Bible study being held in a private home.

“Some ten officials from the local Religious Affairs Department, the police, secret police, Justice Ministry and Tax Ministry” raided the Bible class from the Greater Grace Protestant church on April 11, said Forum 18, a Norway-based human rights group.

Murad Aksakov of the local administration reportedly defended the raid saying they wanted to find out how many people attended the classes, who those people were, and “whether everything was in order” with the church’s documents. “We went there as guests, and I don’t see anything wrong with that since we have the right to check up on religious organizations,” he said in published remarks.

Pastor Vladimir Tolmachev reportedly said he was warned that the church was not allowed to teach its own members without permission from the government’s Religious Affairs Committee. Officials allegedly told Tolmachev he would receive an official warning.

China Cracking Down Ahead of Olympics

Posted in China with tags , , , on March 16, 2008 by Mike

BP Sports is reporting that China seems to be in the midst of a crackdown on Christians before the Olympics.

“We seem to be seeing a crackdown ahead of the Olympics. Whether that’s to send a message to the church to lay low or whether it is to make sure that anybody who might cause international embarrassment is taken care of ahead of time, I don’t know,” Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs, told Baptist Press. “But we do see an increase in the level of arrests, the level of house church services being raided, that sort of activity.

“We also have seen a number of foreigners who are Christians who, when the time came to renew their visa they have been denied a new visa and told that they had to leave the country,” Nettleton added. “So it’s happening both amongst the house churches of native Chinese people as well as foreign Christians who are living and working in China. They’re finding that they’re no longer welcome.”

Sri Lanka Christians Facing Attacks

Posted in Sri Lanka with tags , , , on March 8, 2008 by Mike

BosNewsLife is reporting that attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka have been on the rise lately.

Britain-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a major rights group, told BosNewsLife there this month saw a “dramatic” increase in attacks against Christians in the country, including Monday, March 3 when the Zion Mount Prayer House in Sri Lanka’s Mulaitivu District was set on fire. “The pastor, his wife, child and two other people were inside at the time, although it is believed they were able to escape.”

The previous day ten Bible School students in Lunuwila, Putlam District, were reportedly attacked by ten masked men on motorbikes.

The violence apparently occurred as the students of the Believers Church Bible College were walking from the railway station. “They were beaten, kicked and attacked with rods. More attackers arrived in a van and dragged one student into the vehicle, where he was beaten and kicked. Nine students were treated in hospital for injuries,” CSW said in a statement.

Exiled Chinese Pastor Has Guarded Hopes

Posted in China with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2008 by Mike

The Rev. Bob Fu of the Chinese Aid Association says in the Ecumenical News International that while the relative freedom that Chinese Christians might experience the year of the Beijing Olympics could be short-lived, he has high hopes for the future.

Concerning religious harrassment in China in 2008, Fu noted, “It may decrease a little, in terms of cases of persecution, given the Olympic diplomacy and image-making gestures.” These efforts had trigged in him a desire that the statements about religious freedom of the Chinese leadership would be translated into genuine policy instead of being temporary diplomatic manoeuvres.

“I am very hopeful and optimistic for the future of the Christian faith in China. And I think eventually in the next two decades or so, China will become a world Christian hub for the 21st century,” Fu told ENI.