Iraq: anti-Christian violence hit new peak in 2010

Saint Elijah's Monastery, Mosul, Iraq - the ol...

Saint Eijah's monastery, Mosu, Iraq. The oldest monastery in Iraq. Image via Wikipedia

Anti-Christian violence in Iraq left 92 dead and 47 wounded in 2010, making the year the worst to date for the Christian minority, according to the human-rights group Hammurabi.

Hammurabi reports that all of Iraq’s Christian churches have been badly hurt by violence and by the emigration of families leaving the country to find security elsewhere. More than 800 Christians have been killed in the years since the start of the US-lead military intervention.

Nevertheless the group found that the Christians remaining in Iraq who a strong sense of commitment. On July 4 the Chaldean Catholic Partiarch Emmanuel III paid a courtesy call on Ali al Sistani, Iraqi’s leading Shi’ite cleric, to demonstrate ‘the unity of Iraq and of Iraqis, Muslims and Christians.”

via Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Iraq’s anti-Christian violence hit new peak in 2010.

Egypt: Muslims threaten to kill priest in Egypt

More peaceful guys:

Coptic cross modified
Image via Wikipedia

The Assyrian International News Agency reports a Coptic priest in the same region was threatened late last week by a mob of Muslims that surrounded the church of St. George.

Father George Thabet was serving the morning mass when hundreds of Muslims, some armed, surrounded the church vowing to kill him.

Eye-witnesses reported the Muslims chanted, “We will kill the priest, we will kill him and no one will prevent us..” One Muslim said they would “…cut him to pieces.”

Security forces arrived and escorted Father George in a police car to the Coptic Diocese in Minya. Youth from the church remained to defend the building from the Muslims.

via The Voice of the Martyrs Canada: Muslims threaten to kill priest in Egypt.

UK: Christian peer questions the government’s role in Pakistan

The coat of arms of Pakistan displays the nati...

Image via Wikipedia

A Christian peer\’s speaking out about the persecution of minorites in Pakistan. Lord Alton has asked a question in the House of Lords inquiring what the government is doing to support the religious in the country.

via Christian peer questions the government\’s role in Pakistan | Premier.org.uk, Current News.

Very interesting link: it has lots of information about the persecution that Pakistani Christians are suffering.

Pakistan: Court Acquits 70 Muslim Radicals of Burning 8 Christians Alive during 2009 Gojra Massacre

Pakistan’s fundamentalists are rejoicing following the acquittal verdict. The country’s Christian minority is “under shock” because, this time as well, the massacre of innocent victims done in the name of the infamous blasphemy law will go unpunished. The justice system also shows its powerlessness vis-à-vis extremists who can carry out heinous crimes with total impunity, whilst the government remains silent. Meanwhile, a Muslim religious leader publicly says that Christians “deserve” to be murdered.Burning

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted 70 people who, in various roles, were involved in the Gojra massacre of August 2009 (see Fareed Khan, “Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” in AsiaNews, 2 August 2009). The anti-Christian violence broke out following blasphemy allegations. During a wedding, a group of Christians supposedly burnt pages of the Qur‘an, a pretext used to strike at the religious minority.

More here.

Background: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Egypt: War against Copts

“When they were beating me, they kept saying: ‘We won’t leave any Christians in this country,’” Mr. Mitri recalled in a recent interview, two months after the March attack. Blood dripped through a plastic tube from his unhealed wound to a plastic container. “Here, there is a war against the Copts,” he said.

His attackers, who were never arrested or prosecuted, follow the ultrafundamentalist Salafi strain of Islam that promotes an austere, Saudi-inspired worldview. Before President Hosni Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11, the Salafis mostly confined themselves to preaching. Since then, they’ve entered the political arena, drawing crowds and swaying government decisions. Salafi militants also have blocked roads, burned churches and killed Copts.

The Salafi vigilantes who brutalized Mr. Mitri later ignited a bigger controversy that is still playing out here in Qena, an upper Nile governorate of three million people—almost one-third of them Copts. In April, Egypt’s new government appointed a Christian to be Qena’s new governor, replacing another Christian who had held the post under Mr. Mubarak. The Salafis responded by demanding a Muslim governor and organizing mass protests, showcasing the movement’s new political influence.

Angry crowds left the mosques and converged outside the governor’s headquarters for a sit-in. Qena’s revolutionary coalition split. Some liberal Muslims, such as Mr. Yasin, were offended by bigoted slogans and left. Others, including Muslim Brotherhood youths, stayed.

Hala Helmy Botros, a Coptic blogger active in the uprising against Mr. Mubarak, was stunned to see a former comrade-in-arms with a poster that read: “I am against sectarianism—but I refuse a Copt as governor!” Other protesters screamed: “Islamic, Islamic—we want a Muslim, not an infidel.”

More here.

Iran: Two Christians freed, charges remain

 Two Christian Iranian women, Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, were released from prison this afternoon with no bail amid an international campaign calling for their freedom since their arrest on March 5.

The two women, whose health deteriorated while in detention at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, are at their homes recovering from their nine-month ordeal, an Iranian source told Compass. They still could face charges of proselytizing and “apostasy,” or leaving Islam.

More here.

Algeria: “All buildings for non-Muslim religious worship will be permanently closed down”

even Algerian churches face closure this week after the governor of their province sent them written notice that they were operating “illegally.”

The notice on Sunday (May 22) from Police Chief Ben Salma, citing a May 8 decree from the Bejaia Province governor, also states that all churches “in all parts of the country” will be closed for lack of compliance with registration regulations, but Christian leaders dismissed this assertion as the provincial official does not have nationwide authority.

“All buildings permanently designated for or in the process of being designated for the practice of religious worship other than Muslim will be permanently closed down in all parts of the country, as well as those not having received the conformity authorization from the National Commission,” Salma stated in the notice.

Read more. Tx to VH.

Pakistan: Christians are forbidden to eat in restaurants

“The Muslim dominated society of Pakistan forbids Christian to eat in any restaurant in Pakistan, a Christian student is forbidden to drink water in a glass in schools in which Muslim student drinks water, a roadside Vendor will beat you and charge you for cup in which you drink tea when he recognize you as Christian, it is Pakistan where Muslim members of National Assembly of Pakistan can block a move to offer prayers for slain Christian member of parliament, so, its not surprising if Muslim members of ruling party in Punjab Assembly are resisting on presentation of annual budget by a Christian Minister Michael Kamran on June 10, 2011” said Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC, here today.

More here.

Iran: Christian convert detained in Evin prison, whose fate remains unresolved and unclear

According to reports obtained by the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, this 32 years old new Christian man, Farshid Fathi, who resides in Tehran, pursuant to a pre-planned series of home invasions by the security forces, was arrested on September 26, 2010. Now, after more than 5 months from his arrest and remaining in custody at the 209th wing of Evin prison, his fate remains unresolved and unclear.

Mohabat News has reports indicating that this Christian prisoner has been held in solitary confinement for months and has been given permission to speak to his family once a week only and despite the conclusion of all interrogations there has been no court orders or instructions issued in his case.

The security forces and the interrogators have been using psychological torture methods to force Farshid to confess and provide a full list of all individuals he has evangelized and who and where are the domestic and foreign contacts.

More here.

Every five minutes, a Christian is killed in the world

Photo of Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne

Massimo Introvigne. Image via Wikipedia

Every year 105,000 Christians are killed because of their faith.

This shocking figure was disclosed by Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne, representative of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, at the “International Conference on Inter-religious dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims,” sponsored the Hungarian presidency of the European Union (EU) in Gödöllo, near Budapest.

“Every five minutes”, Introvigne said in his speech, “a Christian is killed for his faith.” The figure does not include the victims of civil wars, or wars between nations, but only the people put to death because they are Christians.

“If these figures are not cried out to the world, if this massacre is not stopped,” Introvigne continued; “if it is not recognized that the persecution against Christians is the first worldwide emergency with regard to religious discrimination and violence, dialogue between religions will only produce wonderful symposia but no concrete results.”

More here.

Pakistan: court orders government not to change blasphemy law

Asia Bibi

The Lahore High Court has ordered the Pakistani government not to change the nation’s blasphemy law before the court hears the appeal of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother who was sentenced to death for blasphemy after she refused to convert to Islam.

Terrorist organizations associated with the Taliban have issued a fatwa against Shabhaz Bhatti, the Catholic layman and cabinet minister who is leading a commission that will consider changes to the nation’s blasphemy law.

Shaheryar Gill, a Pakistani Christian who serves as associate counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, shed light on the effects of the blasphemy law.

“You see, 20 years or more of the blasphemy law in Pakistan has instilled in people that punishment for insulting Islam is death,” Gill said in a recent interview. So, rather than going to the court, people have taken the law into their own hands.”

via Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Pakistan: court orders government not to change blasphemy law.

Shahbaz Bhatti

I want you to read two interviews, with the Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, who speaks about his hope of changing the blasphemy law, the death threats against him and asks the Pope and the faithful to pray for him:

Threats and intimidation follow one after the other. I take them all seriously, however, my life mission is to protect religious freedom, minority rights, justice and equality. I will continue to do so without hesitation.

…I am deeply religious, and the Pope’s words are very important in my life. I thank him for his closeness and solidarity with the Christians in Pakistan. His solace encourages me to witness to the faith in my life, despite the difficulties. I ask the Holy Father and all the faithful of the world to pray for me.

Asia Bibi's husband with two of their daughters

Fides.org also interviewed Asia Bibi’s husband:

Today we are leading a threatened life: we are being targeted by extremist groups, and we fear for our lives. We are ready to leave for Italy or for America, as soon as Asia is freed.

…Thanks to the Masihi Foundation we are going through all the necessary legal steps for Asia’s case and for our protection. The President and the Government are interested in our case, realizing that Asia is innocent and they have expressed concern, but they are under pressure from extremist Islamic groups.

It’s interesting that this family have to hide from violent gangsters but those guys who threaten them don’t have to.

Background:

  1. Pakistan: Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
  2. Pakistan: your signature to save Asia Bibi.
  3. Asia Bibi: Pope appeals for “full freedom“.
  4. Pakistan: Asia Bibi NOT pardoned, protests are announced in case she is.
  5. Pakistan: Both Minister of Minorities and Punjab Governor threatened by Islamists over Asia Bibi’s release.
  6. Pakistan: Taliban-linked cleric offers $5,800 reward for anyone who kills Asia Bibi.
  7. Pakistan: Taliban-linked cleric offers $5,800 reward for anyone who kills Asia Bibi (II)

Egypt: House Converted Into Mosque Overnight In Egypt to Prevent Church Services

In an effort to end any hope of the Coptic Christians using the Church of St. Mary and St. Michaels in Talbiya for prayer services, the Giza Governorate converted overnight a house facing the church into a mosque.The new so-called “Ekhlass” mosque was converted secretly Thursday evening when a cloth sign was hastily hung outside a 4 story house. It was used on Friday morning, when over 3000 Muslims prayed there, despite the presence of a large mosque on the other side of the bridge, not far from the new mosque. It was reported that the owner of the house, which is still under construction, donated it.

Of course the new mosque did not have to get a building license, local council or state security permission, as is the case with churches,” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid.

Due to the minimum distance required by law between a church and a mosque, Copts view this conversion of the house into a new mosque “as a trick on the part of the government to make the completion and use of St. Mary’s Church an impossibility.”

We are devastated,” said a local Copt. “This church cost the poor people 7 million Egyptian pounds, which we collected by having to go without a lot in our homes, and there comes the governor and state security, angry because we built a dome and destroy it, kill our children, leave others maimed and the rest in prison for a very long time.”

Church building in Egypt is still partly governed by the Haayoni Decree of 1856, when Egypt was under Ottoman rule. After gaining independence in 1922, Egypt abolished all laws except for the Hamayouni Decree, which required the permission of the king or the president to build a church. In addition, in 1934 the Interior Minister, Al-Ezaby Pacha, issued a decree that stipulated 10 conditions that must be met prior to issuance of a presidential decree permitting the construction of a church. The conditions include the requirement that the distance between a church and a mosque be not less than 100 meters and the approval of the neighboring Muslim community. Additional considerations or conditions are the number of Christians in the area and whether or not the proposed church is near the Nile, public utility or a railway.

via House Converted Into Mosque Overnight In Egypt to Prevent Church Services.

Absolutely shameful. Of course, this happens without a word from major MSM or communication broadcasting companies, which of course, would shout Islamophobia at any moment. And what about Christianphobia?

Background:
Egypt: Islamists lay siege against Coptic church in Giza, 1 Christian killed.
Egypt: Security Used Live Ammunition on Christian Coptic Protesters, 4 Killed.
Egypt: Wounded Christians from Talbiya attack, mistreated at state hospitals

Afghan Convert’s Trial Rejected by Judge; Corrections Ordered

As you know, Sayed Mousa was arrested after converting to Christianity. Father to six children, one of them disabled, is an amputee and had worked for the Red Cross for the last 15 years helping others. His trial has already been delayed on several occassions and he has not been sent the affidavit containing the charges laid against him.

An Afghan judge temporarily rejected the trial of a Christian man who converted from Islam to Christianity and ordered unknown corrections to his file, according to the convert’s lawyer.

“We understand this to mean that the judge ordered the Attorney General to effect some correction of what is on file,” explained the lawyer, Washington-based International Christian Concern reported Monday. “In terms of Afghan law, Said is entitled to receive a copy of the indictment and to peruse the evidence, if any on file, so as to file affidavit(s) countering any damaging allegations therein. Said had not received such a document and our own inquiry at the Attorney General had no success.”

via Afghan Convert’s Trial Rejected by Judge; Corrections Ordered | Christianpost.com.

Ethiopia: Christian sentenced to three years in prison for defacing Qu’ran

This is an update of this story. It is not even clear he actually defaced the Qu’ran, even if imprisoning someone for defacing it would be so unjust and stupid. But I as said, it’s even worse: it isn’t even proved that he actually did what he is accused of (and condemned afterwards):

A Christian in Ethiopia’s southern town of Moyale was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly desecrating a Qur’an, church leaders said. Tamirat Woldegorgis, a father of two and member of the Full Gospel Church, was arrested in early August after a Muslim co-worker in the clothes-making business the two operated discovered Tamirat had inscribed “Jesus is Lord” on some cloth, area Christians said. His business partner later accused him of writing “Jesus is Lord” in a copy of the Qur’an, although no evidence of that ever surfaced. Tamirat was sentenced on November 18 and transferred to Jijiga prison, a source said. Jijiga is the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali Region Zone Five, which is governed by Islamic principles. Tamirat’s transfer there puts his life in great danger, a church leader said. The church is concerned about Tamirat’s condition.

via The Voice of the Martyrs Canada :: Christian accused of defacing Qur’an :: Providing Information and Support for Persecuted Christians.

Uzbekistan: Christian group has their religious books confiscated by State

Uzbekistan has confiscated Christian books from a youth group returning from Kazakhstan. An Uzbek customs official told Forum 18 that the confiscations were “not confiscation, but temporary removal.” Customs officials claimed that a court would decide what would happen to the literature. Believers said that a customs official swore at them, saying “We are the bosses here, and we will do what we like. If we need to, we’ll lock you away.” Officials refused to provide copies of Confiscation Certificates, and the group was held for nine hours before being released.

In other incidents, the head of Ukraine’s Baptist Union has been denied entry to Uzbekistan, and another Christian has been denied permission to leave — no reasons were given for either action. Additionally, two foreign religious websites have had access blocked from within Uzbekistan. These actions appear to be part of a policy of isolating religious believers from their fellow believers in other countries.

via The Voice of the Martyrs Canada :: Christian books confiscated :: Providing Information and Support for Persecuted Christians.

Read also Uzbekistan: Country report.

Officials claim that Uzbekistan is a Muslim country and Islam is primarily controlled from inside its state-run structures. Other religious communities are required to officially register. Police make surprise visits to churches and forcibly close those who cannot immediately produce registration papers.

Pakistan: Taliban-linked cleric offers $5,800 reward for anyone who kills Asia Bibi (II)

 

Maulana Yousef Qureshi, center

Photo: MSNBC.

Video: The Religion of Conquest.

Background: I.

The lawyers are trying to expose the false testimonies some witness gave at Asia Bibi’s trial.

On related news, another man, a Muslim this time, has been also accused of blasphemy:

Muhammad Amin, a Pakistani blogger in the city of Bahawalpur, province of Sindh. The young man had posted material considered blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad on his blog and exchanged it with a friend, who was also charged. A police officer noticed it by chance, and thus the complaint and the arrest were triggered.

Pakistan: Taliban-linked cleric offers $5,800 reward for anyone who kills Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi

A hardline, pro-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric Friday offered a reward for anyone who kills a Christian woman sentenced to death by a court on charges of insulting Islam.

The sentence against Asia Bibi has renewed debate about Pakistan’s blasphemy law which critics say is used to persecute religious minorities, fan religious extremism and settle personal scores. Non-Muslim minorities account roughly 4 percent of Pakistan’s about 170 million population.

Asia Bibi's family

Maulana Yousef Qureshi, the imam of a major mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, offered a $5,800 (3,700 pounds) reward and warned the government against any move to abolish or change the blasphemy law.

We will strongly resist any attempt to repeal laws which provide protection to the sanctity of Holy Prophet Mohammad,” Qureshi told a rally of hardline Islamists.

Anyone who kills Asia will be given 500,000 rupees in reward from Masjid Mohabat Khan,” he said referring to his mosque.

via Hardline Pakistan cleric offers reward to kill Christian woman – The West Australian.

Background:

  1. Pakistan: Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
  2. Pakistan: your signature to save Asia Bibi.
  3. Asia Bibi: Pope appeals for “full freedom“.
  4. Pakistan: Asia Bibi NOT pardoned, protests are announced in case she is.
  5. Pakistan: Both Minister of Minorities and Punjab Governor threatened by Islamists over Asia Bibi’s release.

Found here.

Asia Bibi’s family photo.

Pakistan: Both Minister of Minorities and Punjab Governor threatened by Islamists over Asia Bibi’s release

Asia Bibi

As I have posted earlier, the Minister of Minorities is Cristian:

Pakistan’s religious parties have come down heavily against the government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). They are also critical of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for his “unIslamic” attempts to obtain a pardon and exile for Asia Bibi in the United States. They have called for his immediate removal from office and punishment. Various Islamic organisations have held demonstrations and rallies against the government and the country’s “secular” lobby, accusing Mr Taseer of being part of an “international conspiracy” to change the blasphemy law.

Shahbaz Bhatti

…Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti is set to meet President Zardari today to hand him the Asia Bibi report. Bhatti denied rumours that she had already been released.

He said that the pardon should be granted very soon, adding that Asia Bibi would be at risk because extremists have threatened to kill her.

There is a shared willingness to amend it [the blasphemy law] to avoid its distorted use against minorities,” he said. “We must build a consensus in favour of its abolition, but that is not easy to do politically.”

If Ms Bibi is freed, extremists have threatened Mr Bhatti as well. “I am not afraid of these threats,” he said. “I am ready to sacrifice everything for the justice that I believe in.”

via PAKISTAN Asia Bib report to Zardari, but Islamist parties threaten Minister Bhatti – Asia News.

Well, he should be prepared for what’s coming, we should be prepared to pray and God bless us all, specially Pakistani Christians. I know that saying that is fairly rare in Europe, but these guys are threatened with death, and they really merit our support, whatever their religion.

Background:

  1. Pakistan: Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
  2. Pakistan: your signature to save Asia Bibi.
  3. Asia Bibi: Pope appeals for “full freedom“.
  4. Pakistan: Asia Bibi NOT pardoned, protests are announced in case she is.

Egypt: Muslims Attack Christians over Romance Rumors

Muslim-Christian tensions broke out on Monday in southern Egypt, where a Muslim mob stormed a Christian neighborhood in the mixed city of Abu Tesht and set fire to several homes. The arson attack followed rumors that a Christian man was romantically involved with a young Muslim woman.

None of the town’s Christian residents were hurt in the mob attack. Police were sent to the area to restore calm.

The Christian man and Muslim woman who became the subject of rumors after being seen walking together have been arrested. Police say they will investigate.

Last year a Christian man was accused of raping a Muslim girl. The alleged assault led to Muslim demonstrations and ultimately to violence, when six Christians and one Muslim guard were murdered at a church.

via Egyptian Muslims Attack Christians over Romance Rumors – Defense/Middle East – Israel News – Israel National News.

More here.

More here.

Asia Bibi: Pope appeals for “full freedom”

Asia Bibi

An appeal for the restitution of “full freedom” to Asia Bibi was launched today by Benedict XVI, at the end of the general audience. He noted that “the international community is following with great concern the difficult situation of Christians in Pakistan, often victims of violence or discrimination.” The Pope expressed his “spiritual closeness” to Asia Bibi and her family and called for the liberation of women. “I pray - he concluded - for those who are in similar situations that their human dignity and their fundamental rights be fully respected.”

via VATICAN Pope appeals for “full freedom for Asia Bibi” – Asia News.

Asia Bibi, her lawyer has told, was offered by the same judge who has condemned her, to walk free if she converted to Islam. She answered: “I prefer to die as a Christian than to live as a Muslim“. See? This is a true martyr and not the people that commit suicide to kill others. :roll:

Background:
Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy
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Pakistan: Your signature to save Asia Bibi and Pakistan.