CHRISTIANS CLEARED OF CHARGE OF OFFENDING MUSLIMS
August 15 (Compass Direct News) – A court in Bangladesh on Thursday (Aug. 11) exonerated two Christians along with four Muslim friends accused of “hurting religious sensibility.” Nurul Islam, another Christian and their Muslim friends were cleared of the charge after police failed to provide documentation of any evidence against them, an attorney said. In March Christians under the direction of the Way of Peace movement had arranged a two-day health camp offering free treatment to poor villagers in Damurhuda area in Chuadanga district, some 210 kilometers (126 miles) northwest of Dhaka. Two of the Christian organizers and their Muslim friends were arrested on March 24 under Section 54 of the penal code, a special power granted to police to arrest anyone on any suspicion. Police are required to submit a primary investigation report within 15 days of the beginning of prosecution, and when they failed to do so, the Christians were released at a hearing on April 10. Police again filed a case on April 13, however, charging them with “hurting religious feelings” of area Muslims as a Japanese doctor had offered Bibles to patients at a health camp. The Japanese volunteer doctor offered Christian leaflets and Bibles to the patients, telling them they were under no obligation to take the literature, Christian said. The foreign doctor was not named in either of the cases. Lawyer Aksijul Islam Ratan told Compass that police had harassed his clients from the beginning, saying officers rather than any known victim filed the case as plaintiff. “The police harassed them from the very beginning, and what the police did was excessive,” he said. “Again police could not show relevant documents regarding their charge. So the honorable court did not take the charge into cognizance and discharged my clients.”
CHURCH LEADERS BEATEN AT POLICE STATION
August 29 (Compass Direct News) – Hundreds of Christians this month protested the hitting of two church leaders at a police station in southern Bangladesh after a Christian reported a local ruling party activist had occupied his house. Bablu Biswas of Christianpara village in Gopalganj district, 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Dhaka, had filed a police complaint accusing the son of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) district president of illegally occupying his house. Biswas said Sohel Miah, son of Gopalganj district AL leader Raja Miah Batu, seized his house on July 23. A police official called the Christians and the ruling party leaders, who are Muslims, to the police station to resolve the complaint on Aug. 2, and Miah ended up punching one of the elderly church leaders. Miah and his supporters also beat Mitul Bala, a Church of the Nazarene of Bangladesh elder, for protesting their hostility. Biswas told Compass that a group of Muslims headed by Miah had ordered him to leave his house, falsely telling him that they had bought it. The 35-year-old Biswas said he fled the house when they issued the July 17 threat to evict him. The Rev. Samuel S. Bala, president of Gopalganj Christian Fellowship, told Compass that the violence showed flagrant disregard for the Christian community. “If they can beat us in the police station, they can do anything on us – where will we get protection?” Bala said. Police and district administrative officials assured the demonstrators that they would recover the land within three days. “Police and other government officials recovered the house within three days, but the son of the political leader remained unpunished,” Bala said.
COPTIC CHRISTIAN KILLED IN ATTACK ON VILLAGE
August 10 (Compass Direct News) – A Coptic Christian was killed and several others were injured in Upper Egypt after Muslims on Sunday (Aug. 7) attacked a predominantly Christian village following an argument between a Muslim and Christian. The attack at Nazlet Faragallah village in Minya, 218 kilometers (136 miles) south of Cairo, lasted until Monday morning (Aug. 8), Christians said. The attackers raided an unknown number of homes owned by Christian villagers and set eight on fire, area residents said. The assailants killed Maher Nassif, 46, bursting into his house, shooting him in the head and slitting his throat while his teenage son watched from under a bed where he was hiding, Christian villagers said. The men looted the home and stole Nassif’s livestock as his son escaped into the night, according to villagers who spoke with the boy. Initial reports on what sparked the attack varied widely, but the general consensus was that on Saturday (Aug. 6) a Muslim man in the village had an argument with a Coptic woman that ended when several Coptic men came to the aid of the woman. Several hours later, a group of Muslims arrived at the village church and started pelting congregants with rocks as they left the building, villagers said. The Copts responded in kind. By Sunday, groups of Muslim men carrying long knives and automatic weapons were seen gathering around the village. “They went around all the neighboring villages spreading a rumor that ‘the Christians burned the mosque and killed some Muslim people,’ which isn’t true,” Thabet said.
MUSLIM EXTREMISTS ATTACK, THREATEN CHRISTIAN WOMEN
August 5 (Compass Direct News) – Four months after a recent convert to Christianity from Islam in eastern India’s West Bengal state was stripped and beaten, about 50 Muslim extremists yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting held in her home, threatening to burn it down if she did not return to Islam, area Christians said. The extremists warned Selina Bibi of Motijil village in Murshidabad district that if she did not return to Islam, then she must either leave the area or see her house burned down. At her baptism at Believers Church on March 29, a large crowd of Muslim extremists disrupted the service, said a pastor identified only as Bashir. On April 5, two Muslim women along with members of the extremist group summoned Selina Bibi to one of their homes and stripped her naked, believing that converts get “Christian marks” on their bodies. Though finding none, they beat her. Police called both parties, and they agreed in writing to allow each other to practice their respective faiths. In Natungram, also in Murshidabad district, Muslim extremists held three Christian women for an hour on July 21, threatening to beat and burn them alive if they continued worshipping Christ. Moyazan Bibi and Aimazan Bibi of Believers Church told Compass that they were arriving at the house of a widow, Suryja Bibi, when a large mob of Muslim extremists pushed them around and rushed Suryja Bibi, asking her why she invited “infidels” into her home. One of the assailants twisted her hand, the women said. Suryja Bibi tried to file a police complaint the next day, July 22, but the local Muslim head and other extremists stopped her, threatening to harm her, area Christians said.
BRIEFS: RECENT INCIDENTS OF PERSECUTION
August 17 (Compass Direct News) – After receiving a letter from Hindu extremists demanding the closure of Grace Church in Dhamtari, district government officials on Aug. 6 stopped the church’s worship service, warning those present that they could be attacked if they continued to hold services in the area. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the officials warned that if there is anymore Christian worship at Grace Church, the Christians would be responsible for any subsequent rioting. The church, led by Pastor Rohit Sahu, discontinued meeting, but area Christian leaders are taking steps to solve the matter.
Andhra Pradesh – In Ramagundam, Karimnagar, police on Aug. 3 arrested a pastor, five of his evangelistic team members and a local bystander after Hindu extremists filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion. All India Christian Council representative Moses Vattipalli told Compass that the Christian team was on an evangelistic outreach that included scrawling Bible verses on the rocks of a hill near a Hindu temple when the extremists appeared and began verbally abusing them, took their cell phones and beat them. The assailants forced the Christians to erase the Scripture verses and manhandled an onlooker who had been reading them, according to Vattipalli. Six Christians and the bystander were charged with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and were sent to the district sub-jail of Karimnagar, he said, adding that they were released on bail after two days.
Uttarakhand – A mob of about 300 Hindu extremists in Makhdoompur on July 31 beat Christians at a church service and accused Pastor Bachan Singh of forceful conversion. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that as the church was about to take the Lord’s Supper, a large mob of Hindu extremists gathered, accusing the congregation of forceful conversion. Those the extremists beat included women and children as the extremists demanded that the Christians stop all church activities, according to the AICC. Local police arrived after about 25 minutes and stopped the commotion, and no one was seriously hurt.
Chhattisgarh – Police in Bilaspur, Kawardha district on July 29 arrested Pastor Diwarkar Kumar after an attorney along with Hindu extremists filed a complaint against him of forceful conversion. A source told Compass that on July 28 Rani Matle visited a lawyer for help in submitting a legal request to the church stating her wish to attend a seminary. Another lawyer, Naval Kishore Pandey, learned that Believers’ Church Pastor Diwaker Kumar had advised her to do so and contacted a local Hindu extremist group, which filed a complaint against Kumar of forceful conversion. Subsequently police took Kumar and Matle into custody for questioning, the source said. Matle told police that there was no forceful conversion and stated that she willingly chose to follow Christ, and police released the pastor without charges. The next day, however, police summoned Kumar, Matle and her father to the station and forced Bharat Matle to sign a First Information Report (FIR) against Kumar “for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs,” the source said. The FIR also cited sections 3 and 4 of the Chhattisgarh law outlawing forcible and fraudulent conversion. The pastor was sent to Pandariya Jail and was released on bail on Aug. 5.
Madhya Pradesh – Hindu extremists in Dewihar, Bajna, Ratlam on July 15 barged into a prayer meeting conducted by a Christian convert from Hinduism, damaging a roof and ransacking the house, stealing 20,000 rupees (US$440), some silver and five kilograms of corn. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that they entered Suresh Maida’s house and verbally abused those at the gathering for their faith in Christ. The Christians filed a police complaint, according to GCIC, but at press time police had made no arrests.
Uttar Pradesh – Police in Katra Divan Kheda, Dhagpur, Unnoa on July 14 arrested pastors Om Prakash, Ganga Prasad, Premshankar, Desh Kumar and one identified only as Vinod of the New India Church of God for leading a prayer meeting in Prakash’s home. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hindu radicals ordered Prakash and his family to give up their faith in Christ and stop the services in their home. Police along with the Hindu extremists had earlier threatened Prakash’s wife, Uma, and her three grown daughters if they continued in their faith, according to the GCIC. The church subsequently stopped Christian activities in the area.
Orissa – Hindu extremists in Banapur, Khurda, on July 8 harassed a Christian family for their conversion from Hinduism to Christ, ending in a Hindu woman beating her Christian daughter-in-law. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that after Satyaban Nayak and his family began to trust Christ as Lord and Savior and were healed from physical ills, Nayak’s mother strongly opposed her son’s worship of Christ and warned him to either forsake Christianity or be deprived of his birthright; she also told him she might commit suicide if he and his family did not deny Christ. When this failed, according to the GCIC, she planned a village meeting or “panchayat” with area hard-line Hindus so that the community would pressure him into forsaking his faith, but the village head questioned him and his wife about their faith in Christ and found them guilty of no wrongdoing. Nayak’s mother took a firewood log from a burning furnace and began beating her daughter-in-law in front of the crowd, cursing and verbally abusing her, knocking her to the ground as the extremists demanded the family’s expulsion from the village, the GCIC reported, adding that Nayak’s wife, Sarojini, continued to pray and praise the Lord amid the beatings. As her mother-in-law continued to deal her painful blows, Sarojini prayed louder, praising God with calls of “Halleluiah” and asking forgiveness for her, according to the GCIC. The village head and some villagers rescued the Christians.
MAYOR AGAIN BALKS AT GRANTING CHURCH PERMIT
August 15 (Compass Direct News) – A mayor in West Java who disregarded a Supreme Court ruling to reinstate the building permit of a church in Bogor has now dismissed a recommendation by the National Ombudsman Institute to do so. Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto rejected the recommendation to reinstate the permit for the Indonesian Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Indonesia, or GKI) Yasmin Bogor Church last month, leaving the congregation to worship on a small strip of land as 15 to 20 Muslim demonstrators taunt them. “The Ombudsman’s recommendation is only a suggestion,” the mayor told Tempo magazine. Church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said the mayor sent two letters to the church, one in May and one on July 9, urging the congregation to cease services on the roadside strip. In the letter he claimed that the church created a general annoyance and suggested they worship at the Harmony Building some 500 meters from the sealed GKI Yasmin Church building. The congregation paid no heed to the letter, Sigalingging said, because the church’s worship on the roadside is a result of the mayor’s own doing. The vice president of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, said that there is suspicion that the Bogor City government intends to prevent the existence of the GKI Yasmin church by all possible means. Budiarto has staged an attack because he has clearly broken the law, he said. “The decision of the Supreme Court is final; why did he revoke the GKI Yasmin building permit?” Naipospos said. “Similar problems are going to arise, if this is left [unresolved].”
MOTIVES FOR CHURCH BURNINGS QUESTIONED
August 17 (Compass Direct News) – Suspected Islamists were behind the burning of three homes used as churches on Sumatra Island’s Riau Province this month, though a political motive may also have played a role, Christian leaders said. Muslim mobs burned the meeting places of a Batak Karo Protestant Church (GBKP) congregation and a Pentecostal Church in Indonesia (GPDI) group on Aug. 1, and that of a Methodist Church of Indonesia on Aug. 2, all in Kuantan Singingi district. Provincial GBKP leader Sahat Tarigan reportedly said about 100 people on motorcycles arrived at the house church at 11 p.m. on Aug. 1, throwing stones, threatening church members with knives and ultimately pouring gasoline and setting it on fire. A number of church members were inside painting at the time of the attack, but there were no casualties, Tarigan told Radio 68H News Agency. The same mob also set the GPDI home on fire some five kilometers (three miles) away, he said. Tarigan said area resident have never objected to any worship there, though Metrotvnews reported that a local Muslim said the site lacks a permit and that the singing bothers Muslims fasting by day for Ramadan. But the executive secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, Jeirry Sumampow, said he suspected political motives. An election in April in which all churches in the Kuantan Tengah sub-district backed the winning regent may have played a role, he said. At press time Riau Provincial Police had reportedly questioned 21 witnesses and arrested two suspects.
BLAST NEAR CHURCH IN KIRKUK INJURES 13
August 3 (Compass Direct News) – A car blast outside a Syrian Catholic church in Kirkuk, Iraq yesterday left 13 wounded as police located and disarmed two more car bombs targeting churches in the city, according to area sources. Online video images of the attack against the Holy Family Church showed one of its walls blasted open and all its surfaces covered with broken glass, rubble and dust from the entrance, where the explosion took place, to the sanctuary at the far end of the building. The blast occurred on the second day of the month-long Muslim fasting period of Ramadan. Nearby houses in one of Kirkuk’s oldest quarters were seriously damaged, and cars on the street were left in twisted piles of metal. Today all but one of the wounded residents in the church’s neighborhood – an elderly man who was seriously injured – reportedly had been released from the hospital. No terrorist or extremist group has taken responsibility for the attack, and local church leaders said it seems Christians in Iraq are trapped in a senseless game of power and intimidation. “Sometimes we feel there is some pressure over the Christians all over Iraq to make them leave their cities and go to the northern part of Iraq, to Kurdistan,” said a pastor on condition of anonymity, “but who knows? I can’t say those who did this want us to leave our city.”Authorities also located two other cars full of explosives in the area – one parked in front of the church building of Mar Gourgis, of the Assyrian Church of the East, and another packed with explosives was parked in front of a Protestant church.
INSURGENT BLAST RAVAGES CHURCH BUILDING ***
August 16 (Compass Direct News) – An insurgent blast left a church building in Kirkuk, Iraq severely damaged on Monday (Aug. 15) in a second round of attacks against the city’s Christian community in two weeks. The bombing of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram was the only attack against Christian targets amid a wave of violence that swept across Iraq yesterday, hitting 17 cities and claiming about 70 lives, according to The Associated Press. No Christians were killed in the attack on the church building. On Aug. 2, insurgents targeted three churches in the city. Abuna Gourgis Alyes, a priest at the Mar Afram church, told Compass that Monday’s attack was the third and most devastating one against his church in the last five years. A Protestant pastor who requested anonymity spoke to Compass by phone as he stood in the rubble of Mar Afram on a visit to the Orthodox priest’s church. “Now I am here and seeing it with my own eyes,” the pastor said, overwhelmed at the sight of the blown-out wall and wreckage. “They have to demolish the church and rebuild it.”
*** A photo of the damaged Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Ankawa. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
CHURCHES LIVE UNDER THREAT, DISCRIMINATION ***
August 18 (Compass Direct News) – Stung by government discrimination and apathy, Christians in Nepal this month joined forces with other excluded religious communities like Buddhists and Muslims to begin a campaign seeking an end to religious discrimination. The Inter-Religious Secularism Protection Movement is asking the government to allow churches, mosques, Buddhist monasteries and all other institutions run by religious minorities to be registered as religious institutions and be exempted from paying taxes. The campaigners are demanding that the government amend the draft of a new penal code that has triggered widespread controversy and condemnation over the inclusion of clauses that make conversions a punishable offense. Instead, they are asking for a new Religion Act as well as Religion Commission to resolve religious disputes. Perhaps the greatest concern of Christians is the delay in promulgating a new constitution that was to have bolstered the nascent republic’s secular status. The major political parties failed to meet two deadlines – one last year and one in May – to get the charter ready. A third deadline looms on Aug. 31, and it is evident that not even the first draft of the document will be ready. The inordinate delay has given militant Hindu groups time to push for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion and for a referendum to decide if Nepal should remain secular.
*** A photo of an Inter-Religious Secularism Protection Movement press conference is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
TWO BOMBS EXPLODE NEAR CHURCHES IN JOS
August 2 (Compass Direct News) – Security officials are trying to determine suspects and motives for two weekend bomb explosions in predominantly Muslim areas of Jos where three churches and the residences of Islamic sect leaders are located. The explosions led many Christians to remain indoors on Sunday (July 31). One bomb exploded on Saturday night (July 30) in the Angwan Rimi area of Jos near a Baptist Church building no longer in use because of previous damage by Muslim extremists. A second bomb exploded early Sunday morning near a Church of Christ in Nigeria building on Sarkin Mangu Street and an Assemblies of God sanctuary in the Kwarrarafa Area, according to police reports obtained by Compass. No one was hurt in either of the explosions. Prominent Islamic leaders residing in the area of the Sunday morning blast include Sheik Balarabe Dawud, chief imam of Jos Central Mosque, and Sheik Sani Yahaya, leader of the Izala Islamic sect. The churches near both blasts are located in areas that are predominantly Muslim because of displacement of Christians during religious conflict earlier this year. Christians have been forced to relocate to safer areas of the city. The explosion on Saturday (July 30), from a bomb disguised as an empty can of ground nut oil, occurred in an area of Jos where Sheikh Saidu Hassan, deputy leader of the Izala Islamic sect, lives. The explosions occurred a week after five persons were killed in violence that broke out on July 26 between Muslims and Christians in the Angwan Rukuba area of Jos.
ARMY SAID TO HELP IN SLAUGHTER OF CHRISTIANS ***
August 28 (Compass Direct News) – Muslim extremists with the alleged help of Nigerian army personnel killed 24 Christians this month in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, area sources said. The attacks started Aug. 11 in Ratsa Foron village, where assaults that day and on Aug. 15 left six Christians dead; also on Aug. 15 in Heipang village, Muslim extremists killed nine members of one Christian family along with another Christian, the sources said. “I can swear to God Almighty that the attack was carried out with the support of the soldiers; I saw them,” said a tearful Nnaji John, who lost her family in the attack. Attacks on Aug. 21 in Kwi, Loton, and Jwol villages killed six more Christians, said the sources, who added that Nigerian army soldiers participated in the assaults or at least accompanied the assailants. In the community of Chwelnyap in Jos on Aug. 14, Muslim extremists killed two and injured one woman, the area sources said. Chollom Gyangof Chwelnyap confirmed that the Aug. 14 attack on his neighborhood was carried out with the support or tacit approval of Muslims in the army’s Special Task Force, a unit designed to stop sectarian attacks. Plateau Gov. Jonah Jang called for immediate withdrawal of the Nigerian army because, he said, Muslims in the army have taken sides with Islamist assailants. “I am convinced that the armed forces are being polluted with the religious crisis in the country,” Jang said. “Before now, the military personnel used to stay in the barracks, but today the armed forces have started taking sides in this religious crisis, and if they are not called to order it will be dangerous for the country.”
*** A photo of a victim of the Heipang attack is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
MUSLIM EXTREMISTS FROM NIGER HELP KILL CHRISTIANS
August 31 (Compass Direct News) – Armed Muslims from Niger entered Nigeria’s Kaduna state this month to help Islamists there invade Christian communities, where they killed two Christians, including a 10-year-old boy, area sources said. In the early morning hours of Aug. 21, the Muslim extremists entered Fadiya Bakut village in Bajju district of the Zango-Kataf Local Government Area, and attacked the home of Andrew Allahmagani, the district head in Fadiya, Allahmagani told Compass by telephone. “They moved to the quarters of my brother, where they shot and killed my nephew, Fidelis Ishaku, who was 10 years old, and shot and injured my mother, who is 70.” A Christian security guard at the house, 52-year-old Zaman Kaki, was also killed in the attack by about 10 assailants armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons, Allahmagani said. The slain boy’s grandmother, Laraba Ishaku, received a life-threatening wound in the thigh but survived after receiving treatment at Zonkwa Medical Centre, he said. Also receiving hospital treatment for wounds was Bartholomew Ishaku, 20, and 31-year-old Clement Yohanna, he said. Jonathan Asake, a former member of Nigeria’s National Assembly, confirmed the attack, as did Kaduna State Police Spokesman Aminu Lawal, who said one of the assailants has been arrested. “It is true that a security guard was killed, and a small boy was also killed,” he said. “The target was not only the Christian community leader but also the Fadiya Bakut community.”
CHRISTIAN ACCUSED OF ‘BLASPHEMY’ GRANTED RARE BAIL
August 4 (Compass Direct News) – In a rare move in Pakistan, a lower court in Punjab Province on Tuesday (Aug. 2) released on bail a young Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam. The Magisterial Court of Chichawatni, Sahiwal district, granted bail to Babar Masih, who suffers from a psychiatric disorder that causes him to shout in fits of rage for as long as an hour without knowing what he is doing or saying. In the face of Islamic extremist threats, generally lower courts in Pakistan do not dare grant bail or acquit a Christian accused of blasphemy, leaving such decisions for higher court judges who enjoy greater security measures. The complainant in the case, Zeeshan Arshad, states in the First Information Report (FIR) that Masih was “addressing the stars and calling names of Muslim sages and holy personages” when he made the alleged remarks blaspheming Islam. The FIR itself states that Masih never intended to hurt Arshad’s religious feelings, and that no sane person would draw the ire of area residents by talking in this way. On the day he made the alleged remarks (May 2), however, a large Muslim mob gathered that refused to hear that Masih was suffering any mental disorder. They demanded he be turned over to them so that they could kill him publicly. Chichawatni City police intervened and took Masih into custody. Niaz Aamer, an attorney for the Center for Law and Justice-Pakistan, said the center plans to file an application to exempt Masih from court appearances on grounds that it would be too dangerous.
MANY CHRISTIAN FLOOD VICTIMS STILL HOMELESS ***
August 9 (Compass Direct News) – Many Christians living in the southern belt of Pakistan’s Punjab Province who lost their houses in last year’s floods remain homeless despite a plan by the Punjab government to allocate land to residents in the area, area Christians said. Hameed Masih, a resident of Kot Addu in Muzaffargarh district, said the provincial government has not set a quota for granting of land to members of minority communities left homeless by the devastating floods that began in late July 2010. The list of homeless people was prepared by local land revenue officers who did not do so fairly, said another Christian, Sarwar Masih. A Christian identified only as Wasim, who is minorities coordinator of Kot Addu, added that one person who owns 22 acres of agricultural land has been allotted more land under the government rehabilitation plan. Napoleon Qayyum, a minority rights activist and leader of the Minorities Wing of the Pakistan People’s Party, said that under Pakistan’s constitution, minorities should be given a 5 percent quota in all government plans. He added that the Punjab government should adhere to that quota as well. Officials from the local administration responded to the allegations by saying they did not directly handle flood rehabilitation, adding that plots were allotted to homeless people through a lottery draw.
*** A photo of a flood-damaged home in Pakistan is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal
TWO CHRISTIANS SERIOUSLY INJURED FOR REFUSING ISLAM
August 31 (Compass Direct News) – Two Christian men were seriously injured by young Muslim men this month in Karachi when they refused to convert to Islam, a family member told Compass. Liaqat Munawar, a resident of Essa Nagri in Karachi, told Compass by telephone that his brother, Ishfaq Munawar, and another young Christian man, Naeem Masih, were returning home after an early morning prayer service at their church in Sohrab Goth on Aug. 14 when ethnic Pashtun youths near Sea View harassed and later attacked them. After cajoling the two Christians to recite the Islamic conversion creed, the Pashtuns sat in a white car parked nearby and eventually drove away. Ishfaq Munawar and Masih got back on their motorcycle and were about to start it, Liaqat Munawar said, when suddenly the young Muslims reversed their car and rammed it into the Christians’ motorcycle. “The Muslims got out of the car armed with iron rods and attacked Ishfaq and Naeem, shouting that they should either recite the Kalma or be prepared to die,” Liaqat Munawar said. He said the Pashtuns severely beat the two Christians, fracturing Ishfaq Munawar’s jaw and breaking five teeth, and seriously injuring Masih. The young Muslim men left them for dead. Liaqat Munawar said his brother underwent jaw surgery at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and is now recovering. He said the family had not registered a case with police, fearing reprisal by the Muslims, but were now considering filing a formal complaint.
KIDNAPPED CHRISTIAN GIRL ESCAPES, TRAUMATIZED
August 3 (Compass Direct News) – Hiba Abdelfadil Anglo, 16, has escaped from a gang of Muslims who kidnapped her last year, but it may be a long time before she recovers from the trauma. As she told Compass how the kidnappers beat, raped and tried to force her to convert from Christianity to Islam, she broke into tears for nearly half an hour. Abducted on June 17, 2010, she was reunited with her family on July 10. “Several times I was warned that if I do not convert to Islam, then I risk losing my life,” she said. “The man who put me in his house on several occasions tortured me and threatened to kill me. He did not allow me to pray Christian prayers. He even insulted my family as a family of infidels.” Hiba said that after a year of captivity, she had given the unidentified man who housed her enough of an impression that she had converted to Islam and accepted her fate that he left her unguarded. She was able to leave the house in the Soba Al Aradi area south of Khartoum and beg a motorist to take her to her home two hours away, she said. Her widowed mother, Ikhlas Omer Anglo, told Compass the kidnappers targeted them because they are Christians, members of Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum. Hiba was initially locked in a room and beaten until she was unconscious. The leader of the group raped her, and she is still suffering pain in her right eye from a blow he recently dealt her, she said. “Apart from abusing me sexually, he tried to force me to change my faith and kept reminding me to prepare for Ramadan,” she said. “I cannot forget this bad incident, and whenever I try to pray, I find it difficult to forget. I ask believers to pray for me for inner healing.’
CHURCH BUILDING IN NORTH IN RUINS AS HOSTILITIES GROW
August 23 (Compass Direct News) – More than seven months after Muslim extremists burned its church building, a Presbyterian Church of the Sudan (PCOS) congregation is still afraid to meet for worship, according to Christian sources. The Rev. Maubark Hamad said his church in Wad Madani, 138 kilometers (85 miles) southeast of Khartoum, has not been able to rebuild since the Jan. 15 devastation due to the congregation’s meager resources. Christian sources said they are increasingly fearful as Muslim extremists pose more threats against Christians in an attempt to rid what they call Dar al Islam, the “Land of Islam,” of Christianity. The PCOS building in Wad Madani was burned after a series of threats against its members by Muslims extremists, sources said. When PCOS leaders reported the case to police in Wad Madani, they were surprised to find officers reluctant to investigate. “These anti-Christian activities continue to be growing these days, aiming to cause fear among the believers in North Sudan,” said another church leader on condition of anonymity. Christians in North Sudan are living beneath a blanket of fear since South Sudan seceded on July 9. Just one month after the South voted for independence from the predominantly Islamic North, pressures on churches and Christians have increased, with Muslim groups threatening to destroy churches, kill Christians and purge the country of Christianity.
MUSLIM EXTREMISTS TORCH CHURCHES IN ZANZIBAR ***
August 1 (Compass Direct News) – Muslim extremists on Saturday (July 30) burned down a church building on Zanzibar island off the coast of Tanzania, church leaders said, just three days after another congregation’s facility on the island was reduced to ashes. In Fuoni on the south coast of Zanzibar island (known locally as Unguja), Islamic extremists torched the building of the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania (EAGT) at around 2 p.m., said Pastor Leonard Massasa, who oversees Zanzibar’s EAGT churches. The assailants were shouting, “Away with the church – we do not want infidels to spoil our community, especially our children,” Pastor Massasa said. The EAGT church is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Zanzibar town. In Kianga about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Zanzibar town, another church building was burned down on July 27 at about 2 a.m., said Pastor George Frank Dunia of Free Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Africa. On neighboring Pemba island, suspected Muslims extremists in Konde on June 17 razed a Seventh-day Adventist Church building, a witness said. Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) Pastor Yohana Ari Mfundo said he has witnessed a series of attacks on Christians on Pemba island. The pastor had bought a half-acre of land for a church building some three kilometers (nearly two miles) from Chake-Chake town, but when area Muslims learned of it they arranged for a road to be built through it, he said. The smaller size made it fit only for residential use. “We are here in Pemba because God wants us to be. But Muslims always point a finger at us – especially at my house, and we have been receiving several threats,” Pastor Mfundo said.
*** A photo of the charred remains of the Free Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Africa building is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
GOVERNMENT OVERTURNS HISTORIC RELIGIOUS PROPERTY SEIZURES
August 30 (Compass Direct News) – The Turkish government made a historic U-turn in state policy this past weekend, issuing an official decree inviting Turkey’s Christian and Jewish communities to reclaim their long-confiscated religious properties. Saturday’s (Aug. 27) decree comes 75 years after the Turkish government seized hundreds of lands and buildings owned by its Greek, Armenian, Syriac and Jewish communities. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the surprise decision on Sunday evening (Aug. 28) in Istanbul, addressing a large gathering of Istanbul’s non-Muslim religious leaders representing 161 minority foundations. Invited as the honored guest for an iftar (breaking the fast) meal near the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, Erdogan declared, “The times when citizens in our country were oppressed for their beliefs, their ethnic heritage or the way they dressed is over.” The landmark decree is a significant step toward eliminating decades of unfair practices imposed by the Turkish state against its non-Muslim citizens. Their former holdings include schools, churches, cemeteries, stores, hospitals, orphanages, houses, apartment buildings and factories that were seized by the Turkish state and re-registered as public or foundation properties. A number were later sold to third parties. The new decree states that owners of properties sold by the state to third parties will be reimbursed at market value. The return of these extensive properties to their rightful owners has been a key demand of the European Union, to which Turkey is applying for full membership.
GIRL LOSES USE OF LEGS AFTER LEAVING ISLAM FOR CHRIST
August 11 (Compass Direct News) – A 14-year-old girl in western Uganda is still unable to walk 10 months after her father tortured her for leaving Islam and putting her faith in Christ, according to area Christians. Susan Ithungu of Isango village, Kasese district, has been hospitalized at Kagando Hospital since October 2010 after neighbors with police help rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released, sources said. Susan and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist from Bwera Full Gospel Church spoke at Susan’s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation. “Our father warned us not to attend church or listen to the gospel message,” Susan said. “He even threatened us with a sharp knife that he was ready to kill us in broad daylight in case we converted to Christianity.” Pastor Joseph Baluku of Bwera Full Gospel Church in Kasese said neighbors who discovered the girl was being kept locked in a room with almost no food or water notified authorities, and after her release took her to the hospital. It is unknown when Susan will be released, but Pastor Baluku said area residents and church members will try to gather funds for the medical costs incurred. “By God’s grace Susan is still alive,” he said after a visit last week. “Though she can’t walk, she can now talk. She is still feeding on soft foods. The great news is that Susan is still strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. She needs prayers and support, so that she can resume her education soon.”