Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (September 27, 2011)
1. Iranian Authorities Free Christian after Year in Prison
Dual Dutch-Iranian citizen of Armenian descent worked with drug-addicted Muslims. By Damaris Kremida
ISTANBUL, September 1 (Compass Direct News) – Iranian authorities on Monday (Aug. 29) released a Christian after 359 days of detainment on charges of spreading Christianity among Farsi-speaking Iranians and having ties with foreign Christian organizations, according to Mohabat News. Authorities arrested Vahik Abrahamian, 45, a dual Iranian and Dutch citizen who belongs to Iran’s Armenian community, and his wife on Sept. 4, 2010 in Hamadan, 337 kilometers (210 miles) west of Tehran, along with another Iranian Christian couple, Arash Kermanjani and Arezou Teimouri. On April 30 authorities released Abrahamian’s wife, Sonia, along with Kermanjani and Teimouri, and Abrahamian was ultimately held in the Hamadan general prison ward. The couple worked with drug addicts and other marginalized Iranians, according to Farsi Christian News Network. Abrahamian had become a Christian in the Netherlands, where he visited an Iranian church. At that time he found freedom from his own drug addiction, and in 2006 he returned to Iran to work with drug users. Authorities were incensed that Abrahamian worked with marginalized Farsi-speaking Muslims, and even more that he had connections with foreign Christians, said an Iranian Christian pastor in the region on the condition of anonymity. “The reason he was in prison for so long wasn’t about his , but because he was connected with foreign Christians,” the source said.
2. Christians Live in Cloud of Fear in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Young man flees family death threats on Muslim isle; another chooses jail over violent mob. By Simba Tian
NAIROBI, Kenya, September 5 (Compass Direct News) – On Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, Christians live in a climate of fear. It’s a place where a young man flees the island to escape death threats from his Muslim family, and a Christian who accidentally burned pages of the Quran opts for jail by entering a guilty plea rather than face certain death from a furious mob. Yusuf Abdalla, 23, fled to Moshi, mainland Tanzania, after a beating from family members left him with injuries to his head, hand and torso, as well as a serious mouth wound and substantial loss of blood, said an area pastor who requested anonymity. In Kiembesamaki, near Zanzibar city’s airport, area pastors said 28-year-old Ramadhan Hunda Tuma earlier this year entered a plea of guilty to charges that he burned the Quran rather than face an enraged mob calling for his death. More than 50 Muslims had packed into the courtroom to hear the judge’s Feb. 21 ruling on Tuma, whose landlady had ordered him to burn his trash after evicting him for his conversion to Christianity; he was not aware that among the trash was a small copy of the Quran used by beginning students in madrassas (Islamic schools), area pastors said. “Outside the courtroom, there was a mob baying for his blood in case he was set free,” said Pastor Leonard Massasa of the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania. Tuma, member of a church of another denomination in Zanzibar city, accidentally burned part of the Quran. “Due to the conditions prevailing then, Tuma pleaded guilty because he feared for his life,” said another pastor, who requested anonymity. “He chose to go to jail rather than to be released only to be killed.”
3. Iranian Christian Pays for Faith with 105 Days in Evin Prison
Convert from Islam reflects on the cost of following Christ. By Damaris Kremida
ISTANBUL, September 6 (Compass Direct News) – It was early in the morning the day after Christmas. It was cold. Mehdi Forootan sat in the back seat of an undercover police car in front of his house in Tehran, Iran. An officer pointed a camcorder at him. “Do you know why you were arrested?” the officer asked him. “No,” Forootan said. The officer turned off the camera and looked Forootan in the eyes. “I can beat you until blood is coming out of your mouth and every part of you. The next time I turn on the camera, you tell me why we are taking you,” the officer said and turned the camera back on. Forootan spoke of his faith in Christ, and he spent the next 105 days in Iran’s harshest prison. On Dec. 26, 2010, authorities had arrested Forootan in a wave of persecution against Iran’s underground church; more than three months later, he was one of a few who had not been released. During one interrogation, an officer turned on a camcorder and pointed it toward him, demanding that Forootan tell him about his “crime.” Forootan began to tell him how he had struggled with substance abuse as a teenager, “and how when I was in university I found Jesus and He saved me, and I have been free ever since. But he became angry and turned off the camera. He said: ‘I asked you to tell about your crime, not evangelize us.’” After months of trying to get him to write statements confessing a crime, authorities inexplicably released him. Forootan said his first month out of prison was one of the worst of his life. He couldn’t speak to anyone of his prison experience for fear that authorities were watching and would re-arrest him. His parents had given the deed of their house to authorities as bail. He and his fiancée decided it was best for him to leave Iran and go to Turkey as a refugee. For Forootan, this meant an illegal escape through the mountains, because authorities had confiscated his passport.
4. Christian Nurse in Pakistan Boldly Opts to Report Videotaped Rape
Colleague tries to blackmail her into converting to Islam, marrying him. By Murad Khan
LAHORE, Pakistan, September 8 (Compass Direct News) – A Christian nurse here filed a police report on Saturday (Sept. 3) alleging she was raped by a Muslim colleague who filmed the act in an attempt to blackmail her into renouncing her faith and marrying him, she and hospital sources told Compass. Shaista Samuel, a 27-year-old nurse at the Services Institute of Medical Sciences, filed a First Information Report (FIR) at Shadman police station accusing Ali Adnan, an assistant accounts officer at the hospital, and an armed accomplice of abducting her at gunpoint from the government hospital on Aug. 21 and taking her to a house in Lahore where Adnan’s accomplice filmed the rape. Later Adnan began trying to blackmail her by phone, she said. “At first he demanded that I convert to Islam, and only then would he consider forgiving me for refusing his proposal,” she said. “My defiance angered Adnan to such an extent that one evening he turned up at my home and showed the film to my parents. He then told my shocked family that they had no other option but to hand me over to him.” Adnan left the house – and the family in deep anguish. “We had a very tough decision to make,” Samuel said. ‘We could have either conceded to his demand or be ready to face the shame and dishonor by reporting his crime, but we chose the latter. Adnan must be punished for ruining my life.” Compass tried to reach Adnan for comment, but he was unavailable as he had turned off his cell phone.
5. Christians in Bhutan Seek to Dispel Regime’s Mistrust
Church leaders call for dialogue to defend against accusations of unethical evangelism. By Vishal Arora
THIMPHU, Bhutan, September 9 (Compass Direct News) – Christians in this Buddhist nation have been awaiting a decision on whether they will receive official recognition, but it appears they will first see a measure against fraudulent conversion that the prime minister acknowledges is essentially designed to deter evangelism. Prime Minister Jigmi Yoser Thinley told Compass the proposed clause in the penal code was “essentially… to deter conversion,” saying there was no reason why Christians should seek to induce others to join their faith. “There are a few Christians and followers of other faiths as well , and there is no difficulty with that,” Thinley said. “That is good… we promote diversity of cultures. But then, when there are those who try to convert others without understanding the values, the principles, and the essence of the other religion, we have here what constitutes the worst form of discrimination.” In an exclusive interview in his office, Thinley said Christians seek to convert other Bhutanese citizens with the power of money and an attitude of spiritual superiority, accusations that Christian leaders in the country denied. Church leaders said they were distressed with the government’s notion of Christians and Christianity, which they said was far from true. “No evidence of such allegations has come to our knowledge, but still we will never try to defend anyone who indulges in unethical conversions,” said a Christian leader from Thimphu on condition of anonymity. Bhutan Minister for Home and Culture Minjur Dorji told Compass that his department has yet to decide whether Christians could be recognized officially. “There is no legal provision for that,” he said. “It’s not in the constitution, and not in the Religious Organizations Act.”
6. Somali Convert to Christianity Kidnapped, Beheaded
Islamic extremists from al Shabaab suspected of murdering Christian. By Simba Tian
NAIROBI, Kenya, September 12 (Compass Direct News) – A kidnapped Christian convert from Islam was found decapitated on Sept. 2 on the outskirts of Hudur City in Bakool region, in southwestern Somalia. Juma Nuradin Kamil was forced into a car by three suspected Islamic extremists from the al Shabaab terrorist group on Aug. 21, area sources said. The kidnapping and subsequent manner of murder suggests that al Shabaab militants had been monitoring him, Christian leaders said. Muslim extremists from al Shabaab, a militant group with ties to al Qaeda, have vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity, and they control the area some 400 kilometers from Mogadishu. A Christian who saw Kamil’s body said it bore the marks of an al Shabaab killing, according to a leader in Somalia’s underground church who lives in another city. “It is usual for the al Shabaab to decapitate those they suspect to have embraced the Christian faith, or sympathizers of western ideals,” the leader said. “Our brother accepted the Christian faith three years ago and was determined in his faith in God. We greatly miss him.” A Christian said the area community initially did not bury the body out of fear of al Shabaab extremists seeing them associated with a newly discovered convert to Christianity. “The community feared burying him, and his body lay in the open for two days before unknown people buried him secretly,” the Christian said. Another Christian convert who lives in another city said Kamil had become a Christian three years ago. “This is very sad news for the community,” he said.
7. Muslim Extremists in Sudan Threaten to Target Christians
Pastors in north fear increased persecution from local and foreign Islamic extremists. Special to Compass Direct News
KHARTOUM, Sudan, September 13 (Compass Direct News) – Muslim extremists have sent text messages to at least 10 church leaders in Khartoum saying they are planning to target Christian leaders, buildings and institutions, Christian sources in Khartoum said. “We want this country to be purely an Islamic state, so we must kill the infidels and destroy their churches all over Sudan,” said one text message circulating in Khartoum last month. The text messages were sent in July and August. Church leaders here said they fear more persecution as they and their flocks become targets of local Islamists. In addition, Muslim extremists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh arrive in Sudan every two weeks to undergo training in secret camps in Khartoum before they are sent to various parts of Sudan to preach Islam and demolish church buildings, according to a Christian source in Khartoum. On July 18 a group of Muslim extremists attacked the home of Anglican Church of Sudan Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail in an attempt to kill him and two other pastors, Luka Bulus and Thomas Youhana, who all happened to be out of the house at the time, sources said. No one was hurt, but the assailants left a threatening letter warning them of similar attacks. The letter left on the gate of the bishop’s house asserts that Sudan is an Islamic land, and that the authors secretly plan to carry out a series of attacks to destroy church buildings across “Sudan,” which denotes the north following the secession of South Sudan on July 9. Christian sources in Khartoum said they take the threats seriously. “These people are not joking – they can kill any Christian,” said a church leader who requested anonymity for security reasons.
8. Messianic Jews Singled Out in Israeli Town
Flyers post addresses, phone numbers of harassed minority. By Wayne King
ISTANBUL, September 15 (Compass Direct News) – Messianic Jews in a suburb west of Jerusalem continue to be harassed for following their faith, this time by someone anonymously placing flyers in public areas singling out members of Messianic congregations. The flyers began appearing two weeks ago in the town of Mevasseret Zion. Asher Intrater, leader of the Ahavat Yeshua Congregation, said he thinks the flyers are “an effort to drive us out of the neighborhood.” The flyers posted the addresses and phone numbers of the Messianic Jews, and in some cases included their photographs. This is the second time in three months that a group has singled out Messianic Jews in Mevasseret Zion for ridicule. On June 26, members of Yad L’Achim, an ultra-Orthodox, anti-Christian group, protested outside the home of Serge and Naama Kogen, a messianic couple. It is unclear who actually posted the flyers, and Intrater declined to speculate. But according to a classified communiqué issued by the U.S. State Department in May 2008 and leaked on Aug. 30 by Internet activist group Wikileaks, “‘Outing’ Messianic Jews and Evangelical Christians through the publication of names, photos and addresses alongside flyers with hysterical allegations about ‘soul stealing’ and ‘brainwashing’ is a favorite tactic of Yad L’Achim branches throughout the country.” †
For more information concerning the persecution of Christians around the world, please contact:
Compass Direct at www.compassdirect.org
Frontline Fellowship at www.frontlinefellowship.net
Christian Freedom International at www.christianfreedom.org
Jihad Watch at www.jihadwatch.org
Open Doors at www.opendoorsusa.org
The Voice of the Martyrs at www.persecution.com
Gospel for Asia at www.gfa.org
Voice of the Copts at www.voiceofthecopts.org
Barnabus Aid at www.barnabasfund.org
Christian Solidarity International at www.csi-int.org
Smyrna Ministries International at www.smyrnaministries.org