Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (September 16, 2011)
1. Nepal’s Churches Live under Threat, Discrimination
Lack of official recognition exposes Christians to litigation and other perils. By Sudeshna Sarkar
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 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.
2. Church Building in North Sudan in Ruins as Hostilities Grow
Presbyterian congregation sees little hope of rebuilding amid growing anti-Christian sentiment. Special to Compass Direct News
KHARTOUM, Sudan, 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.
3. Nigerian Army Said to Help in Slaughter of Christians
Plateau state governor fears alleged involvement of soldiers sets dangerous precedent. By Obed Minchakpu
JOS, Nigeria, 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.”
4. Church Leaders in Bangladesh Beaten at Police Station
Christians filed complaint, protested over seizure of house by ruling party activists. Special to Compass Direct News
LOS ANGELES, 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.
5. Turkey Overturns Historic Religious Property Seizures
Christian and Jewish communities to reclaim state-confiscated properties. By Barbara G. Baker
ISTANBUL, 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.
6. Two Pakistani Christians Seriously Injured for Refusing Islam
Muslims beat young men with iron rods, leave them for dead. By Murad Khan
LAHORE, Pakistan, 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.
7. Muslim Extremists from Niger Help Kill Christians in Nigeria
Boy, 10, and security guard for local official among those slain. By Obed Minchakpu
KADUNA, Nigeria (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.”
8. Christians in China Suffer for Supporting Shouwang Church
Members of other house churches detained, threatened, or condemned to labor camp. By Sarah Page
DUBLIN, September 1 (Compass Direct News) – Christians from various house churches are paying a price for supporting Beijing’s unregistered Shouwang church. When five members of a house church in Fangshan, Hebei township tried to worship publicly with the Shouwang church last Sunday (Aug. 28), police sent them back to their local police station two hours away, according to a report posted Tuesday (Aug. 30) on Shouwang’s Facebook page. Officials then urged them to sign documents repenting of their decision to support the Shouwang church, which they refused to do. Among worshippers police detained at Shouwang’s public worship on Aug. 14 was pastor Wang Shuanyan of Beijing’s Xinshu house church, one of 17 house church pastors who submitted a petition to the National People’s Congress calling for a complete overhaul of China’s religious policy. Police have stationed themselves outside Xinshu church every Sunday since Wang signed the petition in May, sometimes entering the meeting room and checking identity cards. Xinshu church members have also received threats and pressure from their work units, according to the China Aid Association. Another signatory, pastor Shi Enhao of Suqian house church in Jiangsu Province, was sentenced in late July – without trial – to two years in a labor camp for “illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings.” Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, wrote a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao. According to Zhang, when Shi’s family hired a lawyer on his behalf, officials refused to grant access to Shi on grounds that state secrets were involved. “Isn’t this a joke of the century that a peasant Christian knows classified state secrets?” Zhang wrote. †
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