Another sobering reminder of what our brothers and sisters in Christ are going through around the world as they face persecution. It’s also a reminder to the importance of maintaining religious freedom in the Western world!
This persecution update takes a closer look at Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.
Pakistani Christians Ensure Police Arrest Key Murder Suspect
Refusal to bury body until criminal case ‘due process’ starts
Hundreds of Pakistani Christians braved scorching summer heat for three days and two nights in agricultural fields to ensure that police would register the alleged murder of a Punjabi agricultural smallholder in front of his two children.
45-year-old Ishaq Masih, a resident of a village in the Okara district, near Lahore, was shot dead on July 27, his children say, by a man named Muhammad Luqman (alias Ranjha) who, accompanied by others, had illegally occupied Masih’s land.
Fearing the police would not follow “due process” as a minority Christian was involved, local Christians rushed to the scene. They then refused to bury the body for three days (contrary to Pakistani practice of burial the next day) until police had agreed to register the murder, arrest two of the suspects and conduct an autopsy.
On July 29, police promised that they would arrest all other suspects (including Ranjha) within a week, but only if the Christians would bury Masih, and then disperse peacefully. The protesters agreed, and Catholic Father James Bahadur buried Masih that night.
Police, however failed to arrest prime suspect Ranjha by their self-imposed deadline of August 5, the outcome Bahadur and others had feared. (Meanwhile seven suspected accomplices were released on bail).
Court Case Hangs Over Indonesian Pastor
Pastor says he was teh victim, as human rights group questions polic logic
An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.
Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve of last year.
The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser.
However, some eight months after the incident, the case goes on and the pastor was deemed too psychologically fragile to attend his latest hearing last month.
The Asian Human Rights Commission wrote a letter to the Indonesian national police on August 22 imploring them to drop all charges against the pastor and questioning the logic of the local police.
The AHRC stated the case against Panjaitan was “fabricated” and “lacking evidence”.
“With no evidence to support the case against Rev. Panjaitan, we are questioning the legal and moral reasoning of your officers at Bekasi District Police in being so persistent in this case,” AHRC wrote.
The human rights group also claimed the pastor was “more a victim than a perpetrator of a crime”, referencing the hostility of many local residents against the pastor and his congregation.
This position was seconded by Panjaitan’s lawyer, Thomas Tampubolon, who said at a July 29 press conference that there was no case to answer.
A Troubling Call from Syria
Early this morning I received a phone call from Mary, a friend in Sweden who was born in Syria. She wanted me to check my Facebook account. A young Syrian woman, Nour, wanted to become friends with me. I accepted the request. A minute later, Nour wrote me her first message. She had pictures from Tabqa, a town that was totally emptied of Christian Assyrians. Nour also had the contact information of victims of fundamentalist Islam. They, the victims, want the world to know what has happened to them. A group of non-Syrian Mujahedeen drove them out of their homes.The message from the perpetrators was ”convert to Islam or leave”. I called one of the victims, and heard horrifying stories about religious and ethnic cleansing.
Christians in Syria are a vulnerable group. They comprise approximately 8 percent of the population. Tabqa used to be a modern city with cinemas, hairdressers, fashion boutiques and restaurants. Now it is driven by men in beards who no longer allow any of that.
An hour after my interview with that refugee, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared “there must be accountability” on behalf of the victims of a chemical weapon attack. Considering all the evidence emerging from witnesses, from images, from human-rights groups and from medical information provided by Doctors Without Borders, Kerry said “these all strongly indicate” that “chemical weapons were used in Syria”, and that they were fired by the Syrian government.
Non-Stop Attacks in Egypt
Christians in Egypt today are experiencing increased attacks against them in conjunction with the government’s attempt to disperse two pro-President Morsi camps calling for his re-instatement. At least 250 people have been killed and 1,000 wounded during the raid. Egypt has declared a month-long state of emergency after scores of people were killed and more wounded during the protests and raid earlier today.
Forty church buildings have been attacked and set on fire today. Three of the churches were in Minya, two in Fayoum and one in Sohag. On the same day, Christian-owned businesses in Sohag and Assuit were targeted by radical Muslims. A convent called Al Raai Al Saleh in Suez was also set on fire.
In the midst of the chaos, Egyptian Christians have still seen the hand of God at work. According to a VOM worker, the Good Shepherd Monastery in Suiz city was surrounded by a mob of radical Muslim Brotherhood members earlier today. The monastery was full of women and children. Miraculously, everyone was able to flee to safety as the monastery was attacked and burned down.
Sources report that Mohammed El Beltagy, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said “operations against Christians will start now.” The Muslim Brotherhood routinely threatens Christians, chanting and protesting against them. A VOM worker said that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders are seeking to disrupt the national unity by creating sedition between Muslims and Christians.
Five Christians Killed in Roadside Ambush near Jos, Nigeria
Armed ethnic Fulani herdsmen join forces with Islamic extremist mercenaries, pastor says.
As Emmanuel Sunday rode his motorbike near Jos last Thursday evening (Aug. 29), gunmen stopped him and asked him his religion.
The 19-year-old technical school student saw a group of people the gunmen had ordered out of a mini-bus; the Christians had been told to lie on the ground.
“The gunmen asked me about my religion, and when I told them I was a Christian, they asked me to join a group of people already ordered to lie down by the side of the road,” Sunday told Morning Star News. “I did as I was ordered to do, and then one of the men came and searched me and took money from me, including my mobile phone.”
A final year student at the Government Science and Technical College in Bukuru, near Jos, Sunday said the gunmen had also taken the belongings of the others lying on the roadside near the Bisichi/Foron Junction, four kilometers off the Jos-Barkin Kadi Highway.
“It was when the gunmen started shooting and killing those of us that were Christians grouped together that I ran into a nearby maize farm, because it was already dark,” he said. “They shot wildly at me, but I escaped unhurt, except the injuries I sustained while running in the bush.”
Please pray for the persecuted Church!
IMAGE: Open Doors