Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (October 23, 2011)
1. Hard-line Muslims in Egypt Attack Coptic Church, Homes
Throng of 3,000, including Salafists, burn Christian-owned houses, businesses. By Wayne King
CAIRO, Egypt, September 30 (Compass Direct News) – A group of hard-line Muslims attacked a church building in Upper Egypt this afternoon, torching the structure and then looting and burning nearby Christian-owned homes and businesses. The 3,000-strong mob of hard-line and Salafi Muslims gutted the Mar Gerges Church in the Elmarenab village of Aswan, then demolished much of its remains, multiple witnesses at the scene said. The mob also razed four homes near the church and two businesses, all Christian-owned. Looting was also reported. The Mar Gerges burning is the third church in Egypt in seven months to be burned down by a mob. No casualties have yet been reported in today’s attack. The tension in Elmarenab started the last week of August, when Muslim extremists, many of them thought to be members of the Salafi movement, which patterns its belief and practices on the first three generations of Muslims, voiced anger over renovations taking place at the church and anything perceived as a Christian symbol that could be seen from the outside. To force the Copts to acquiesce to their demands, the Muslim extremists blockaded the entrance to the church and threatened Copts on the streets, in effect making them hostages in their own homes.
2. Why Is Islamic Extremism Growing in Indonesia?
Expediency is behind government’s reluctance to check the extremism that is fueling terrorism. By Vishal Arora
JAKARTA, Indonesia, October 3 (Compass Direct News) – The suicide bombing of a church in Central Java on Sept. 25 pointed not only to a new level of attacks on religious minorities in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country but to a political bent that accommodates Islamist extremism. Pino Damayanto, aka Ahmad Yosepa Hayat, who blew himself up and wounded more than 20 members of the Sepenuh Injil Bethel Church (Bethel Full Gospel Church) in Solo on Sept. 25, apparently believed it was his religious duty to kill “the enemies of Islam.” Extremism has constantly grown since the fall of the authoritarian President Suharto in 1999, who kept radical groups under control. A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable dated May 9, 2006, published on the WikiLeaks website in May, revealed that a member of the National Intelligence Agency told the U.S. Embassy that a top official of the national police had “provided some funds” to the hard-line Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front or FPI), and that police were using the FPI as an “attack dog.” Extremist groups and officials close to them flout laws and violate the rights of minorities with almost complete impunity, sources said. Bonar Tigor Naipospos, vice-chairman of the Setara Institute, said extremist groups have infiltrated at all levels, including the clerical body representing all Indonesian Muslim groups to the government. “The government has no will to control extremist groups,” said Rumadi of the Wahid Institute, adding that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono doesn’t want to be seen as “anti-Islamic.” The government shrugs off the threat from extremists, claiming they are tiny in number.
3. Progress in Pakistani Rape Case, but Alleged Victim’s Father Dies
One suspect arrested, bail of another cancelled after intervention by rights group. By Murad Khan
LAHORE, Pakistan, October 4 (Compass Direct News) – A Christian mother of five who was allegedly raped by two Muslims rejoiced after police in Pakistan’s Kasur district arrested a suspect and suspended an officer who had dismissed her complaints, but her solace was short-lived when her father collapsed and died Friday night (Sept. 30) after learning of her ordeal. The 32-year-old woman and her husband, Mushtaq Masih, told Compass that they had lost hope of getting justice as they were facing threats from area Muslims to withdraw the case even as police were deliberately slow to investigate and arrest the accused. Heartened after advocate pressure led to the arrest last week of one of the primary suspects in the case, the woman, whose name is withheld, went to visit her father late Friday night (Sept. 30). “As soon as my wife shared her ordeal with her family, her father collapsed and died on the spot,” Masih said. “He could not take the pain.” Community Development Initiative (CDI) Executive Director Asif Aqeel told Compass that after intervention by his team, District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Khurram Ali Shah suspended Investigating Officer Muhammad Sharif, who had dismissed the Christians’ complaints that police had sought money in exchange for dropping the case and had refused to acknowledge that Muslims were making serious threats. The woman told the DPO how the suspects and other Muslims had intimidated her into declining to identify a primary suspect identified only as Shera, and Shah ordered his subordinates to bring Shera to his office so she could identify him again, Aqeel said. “Shera was produced before the DPO and was handcuffed soon after the woman pointed him out as one of her two rapists,” Aqeel said. He added that CDI also won the cancellation of bail for the other primary suspect.
4. Pakistani Muslims Fire on Christians in Land-Grab, Killing One
Heavily-armed assailants fire indiscriminately, injuring 21 others, six critically. By Murad Khan
LAHORE, Pakistan, October 7 (Compass Direct News) – Muslims in Pakistan’s Mian Channu area in southern Punjab Province shot dead an unarmed Christian and injured 21 others, six of them critically, during an attempted land-grab on Wednesday (Oct. 5). Residents of the area told Compass by phone that 40 to 45 heavily-armed Muslims on 10 to 12 motorcycles, two tractor-trolleys and in a car reached Chak 134-16/L village in Khanewal district and forcibly entered the home of Adeel Kashif, a Christian carpenter who was living on a government-owned piece of land. “The attackers forced their way into Kashif’s house and started throwing the family’s belongings onto the street,” Wazir Masih, a Christian elder in the area, told Compass. “They also tore the clothes off Kashif’s three female family members – Violet, 40, Parveen, 35, and Esther, 17, and tortured the family.” Masih said the Muslims wanted to take illegal possession of the 18-marla piece of land (in Pakistan, one marla equals 30.25 square yards), which the government makes available to laborers or craftsmen in exchange for the help they can offer to villagers. A previous Muslim resident of the property had falsified a sale of the land to a local Muslim group, a fraudulent act as no one is permitted to sell government land in a personal capacity, Masih said. He said the Muslims suddenly began firing indiscriminately on the Christians, killing 25-year-old Sajid Bashir Masih and seriously injuring 21 others, including women and children. Six of the injured were in critical condition, one of them Sajid Bashir Masih’s younger brother, Haroon. “The Christians had done nothing to provoke the Muslims into employing such brute force,” Masih said. “They just opened fire on the defenseless people with their automatic rifles and shotguns.”
5. Maldives Arrests, Deports Indian Teacher for Owning Bible
Island nation cracks down on preaching unofficial Islam, non-Islamic faiths. By Vishal Arora
NEW DELHI, October 21 (Compass Direct News) – Police in the island nation of Maldives held a teacher from India for about 15 days before deporting him on Oct. 14 for having a Bible in his house, a source said. Shijo Kokkattu, a 30-year-old Catholic and teacher at the Raafainu School in Raa Atoll, was arrested in late September after police found a Bible and a rosary in his house during a raid, a foreign source in the capital city of Male told Compass. Charging that Kokkattu was preaching his Christian faith in the Muslim nation, police took him to another island for interrogation and kept him in custody for more than two weeks, said the source. Last month, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published new regulations under the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994, signaling a renewed commitment to control unlicensed preaching of Islam and propagation of non-Islamic religions in the country. The Act outlaws promotion of anything that represents a religion other than Islam or any opinion that disagrees with Islamic scholars. The new set of regulations maintains a longtime ban on propagation, display and expression of any religion other than Islam. The regulations state that only preachers licensed by the government are allowed to speak in public, and they must not create hatred towards people of any other religion – the latter stipulation has been criticized by members of Islamic organizations such as the Islamic Foundation of Maldives, who say that because the Quran speaks against Judaism and Christianity, they too should have the right to do so. Any violation under the Act is punishable by an imprisonment of between two and five years, banishment or house arrest. Foreigners who are found proselytizing are to be deported, it says.
6. Pakistani Mother Condemned for ‘Blasphemy’ Allegedly Beaten
Christian woman, husband apparently pressured into denying incident. By Murad Khan
SHEIKHUPURA, Pakistan, October 20 (Compass Direct News) – A female prison officer assigned to provide security for a Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death on “blasphemy” charges beat her earlier this month, sources said. The sources in Pakistan’s Sheikhupura District Jail said Asia Noreen, also known as Asia Bibi, was beaten on Oct. 5 by a prison officer identified only as Khadeeja, allegedly because of the Muslim officer’s anti-Christian bias, while other staff members deployed for her security looked on in silence. Khadeeja was later suspended for three months, and jail Superintendent Sheikh Khalid began an inquiry of her actions after an intelligence agency reported the matter to the Punjab Province government. The Home Department also sent a senior police official to Sheikhupura to investigate, and he recommended Khadeeja’s immediate removal from service. Based on communications with jail staff members, a source told Compass on condition of anonymity that Noreen had not received any life-threatening injuries, but that jail personnel had apparently pressured the Christian woman and her husband, Ashiq Masih, to refrain from telling anyone about the beating. “It seems that Ashiq has been pressured by the jail authorities to say that Khadeeja did not attack Asia,” the source said. “Why would the jail superintendent suspend Khadeeja for three months, and why would the inquiry officer recommend her removal from service, if she just ‘got angry with Asia’ over a minor issue?” While reluctant to admit that the Muslim prison officer had beaten Noreen, a jail official acknowledged that Noreen had struck back in self-defense. Adamant that Noreen was secure in custody, he said the incident had negatively affected her security and that authorities were considering transferring her to another prison.
7. Islamic Extremists in Somalia Behead 17-year-old Christian
Al Shabaab militants monitored home Bible studies of boy’s family. By Simba Tian
NAIROBI, Kenya, October 19 (Compass Direct News) – Militants from the Islamic extremist al Shabaab beheaded a 17-year-old Somali Christian near Mogadishu last month, a journalist in the Somali capital told Compass. The militants, who have vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity, killed Guled Jama Muktar on Sept. 25 in his home near Deynile, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Mogadishu. The Islamic extremist group had been monitoring his family since the Christians arrived in Somalia from Kenya in 2008, said the source in Mogadishu, who requested anonymity. The Islamic militants, who are fighting the transitional government for control of the country, knew from their observations of the family that they were Christians, the source said. “I personally know this family as Christians who used to have secret Bible meetings in their house,” he said. Based on talks with the boy’s parents and their neighbors, the source said al Shabaab members arrived at Muktar’s home at 6 a.m., when his parents, whose names are withheld for security reasons, were already at work at their retail space at the Hamarweyne market on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Neighbors informed the parents of the murder, and they hurriedly returned home and buried their son’s body quickly, fearing the militants would kill them as well. They then fled to an unknown destination, the source said. “When the incident happened, the parents called to tell me that their son had been killed and that they feared for their lives,” the source said. “Since then, I have not heard from them.” †
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