persecution.org

Shedding light on Christian persecution around the world.

March 31, 2011

Islam

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 “Allah describes [non-Muslims] as the worst of all people…but you still want to follow them.”

British school children educated in Islamic boarding schools (madrassas) are being taught these and other even more hateful teachings. The extremist teachings at some British madrassas were exposed in February of 2011 by Dispatches, a British Television Documentary.

The report was the result of two years of undercover investigation into madrassas. In Britain, there are around 2,000 Muslim schools teaching 100,000 students. While these schools are required (and often praised) for preaching tolerance of other religions, the undercover footage captured by Dispatches in the documentary exposed some shocking facts about the schools:

  • Some of the students are taught to avoid going to church because “they are the gathering place of the devils.”
  • Eleven-year-old students are taught that non-Muslims are the worst of all the creatures.
  • The teachers at madrassas repeatedly refer to non-Muslims as kuffars. Kuffar is a derogatory and hateful term used to refer to non-Muslims.
  • Children are taught not to befriend non-Muslims. At one point in footage from the investigation, one of the teachers tells the students that they should “put away” and “forget” non-Muslim friends. 
  • The students are told that the British society is “Shaytan” (Satan).
  • In some of the footage, the schools depict scenes of violence where students are routinely beaten for failing to recite the Qur’an properly. In less than 3 hours of filmed lessons, the students were beaten more than 10 times by their teacher.
  • The film also reveals a culture of violence among students. Older students beat younger students and the teachers don’t intervene.

To help you further understand how radical brands of Islam are being taught and spread in the UK, we encourage you to watch the full documentary for yourself on YouTube or just watch the embedded video below.

March 28, 2011

Ethiopia, Interview

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Click “play” on the file below to hear an interview with ICC’s Jonathan Racho and a church leader from the area in Ethiopia where Christian churches and homes were burned to the ground by Muslim mobs in the first week of March. The church leader describes the situation for the 10,000 displaced Christians and what Christians around the world can do to help stand with our brothers and sisters.

ICC Interviews Ethiopian Church Leader

March 28, 2011

Indonesia

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Indonesia, the country with the largest Islamic population in the world, has long been considered a model of religious tolerance. However, since 1998, this view has been challenged by a disturbing trend of religious intolerance and persecution.

The trend coincides with Muslim clerics and other hard-line Muslim groups forming new alliances with fundamentalist groups closely linked to international terrorist cells and calling for violence against Christians in Indonesia. Sources have reported that there appears to be a merging of extremist Muslim agendas against the “Christianization” of Indonesia.

Throughout 2010, many of the attacks perpetrated by Muslim extremist groups have showed an escalation in the intensity of violence being used against Christians in Indonesia. In January, a group of fanatic Muslims burnt down the Batak Protestant Church and the church pastor’s home in the North Sumatera Province after Friday prayers at a nearby mosque.

In April, the educational center of the Christian Education Body in the West Java Province was also burnt down by radical Muslims along with two cars and seven houses owned by the center’s Christian employees.

In August, a mob suspected of being led by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a hard-line Muslim group known for its extreme fundamentalist message, attacked Christians while they worshiped in Bekasi, a city located in the West Java Province. Less than a month later, Murhali Barda, the leader of the FPI, incited a mob of Muslims to stab and beat Christians in Bekasi.

Government Not Protecting Religious Minorities

What makes these trends most disturbing for Indonesia is that most of the perpetrators of abuse against religious minorities have not been brought to justice or have only received light token judgments. On February 25th, a court in the West Java Province handed down a sentence of five to seven months incarceration for the beatings and stabbings perpetrated by members of the Islamic Defenders Front in Bekasi last September.

Although the Constitution of Indonesia accords “all persons the right to worship according to their own religion and belief,” the government has not used its constitutional authority to overturn or even review local laws that restrict religious freedom or enforce Shari’a law on all religions.

Local Laws Restricting Religious Freedom

One law that restricts religious freedom is the Joint Ministerial Decree on Houses of Worship No. 8 and No. 9 passed in 2006. This law restricts the ability of Indonesians to build new places of worship and requires congregations to obtain a permit from local authorities before beginning construction. According to the law, in order to build a new house of worship, there must be written support of at least 60 local households, a congregation of at least 90 members, and a clear and present need for the new house of worship. As a result, hard-line Muslim groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front, have used this law to not only block the building of new churches in Indonesia, but to also protest and close other churches that do not meet these requirements.

Just recently, the Yasmin Church in Bogor, a city in the West Java Province, was closed by the Bogor authorities following the protests of 150 Muslims. Bogor officials revoked the building permit it issued, alleging that the signatures by local residents were “false,” even though the Supreme Court of Indonesia upheld the church’s legality. Human rights groups have pointed out that this case is only one in a series of violations of religious freedom against Christians in Indonesia and a sign of the government’s weakness or inability to deal with extremist Muslim pressures.

This is a blatant case of injustice—local authorities ignoring a Supreme Court ruling and getting away with it. With rule of law a critical measurement in gauging the future of Indonesia, it can only be assessed that the outlook is grim.

March 22, 2011

Ethiopia

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We want to thank everyone who has shown their support for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia through your prayers, encouragement, and financial gifts. We just sent our representative in with the first batch of supplies and have provided about a thousand of the displaced with food to sustain them for another week. Your generosity has been such a blessing to these believers and we hope to send a second supply of food and clothing in very shortly. We will continue to pour out as long as we have funds to give. We’re really just your bridge to bless your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our representative sent us pictures of some of the 10,000 displaced from a previous visit (see below). Stay tuned for pictures of the Ethiopians who have received the food and clothing that your gifts have helped to provide! We hope to have those up in the coming days.

March 18, 2011

Ethiopia, Interview

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This one’s for our Ethiopian / Amharic-speaking followers. ICC’s Jonathan Racho gave an interview to Voice of America this week regarding the crisis in Ethiopia – if you understand Amharic, we encourage you to listen to the interview here.

Also, if you have any Ethiopian friends, please pass this link along for their information.

The first part of the interview is the Muslim perspective – claiming that the alleged desecration of the Quran that has been cited as the cause of the attack occurred when Muslims found a Quran in the toilet of a church. Though the man they interviewed cited this as the immediate cause of the attacks, he also mentioned that one of the primary reasons for the attack was evangelism by Christians in Muslim areas.

March 17, 2011

Ethiopia

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Beginning on March 2nd in an Islamic area of Ethiopia, Muslims went on a rampage, beginning with an assault on the church in Asendabo.

ICC and others alerted the world and called on the Ethiopian government to intervene. Sadly, they could not or would not stop the Muslim attacks. After a week, when the smoke cleared, the damage was evident. The Muslims had burned down the homes of 30 Christian leaders, they had killed two Christians, wounded several others, and burned down 69 churches, a Bible school, and a Christian orphanage.

Here is an account from just one of the attacks.

On March 8, armed Muslims entered the home of an elderly Christian leader who had founded a church in a nearby Muslim village. When the militants began to assault the church leader, his grandson rushed to intervene, screaming at the men to leave his grandfather.

The Islamists stopped assaulting the grandfather and turned their attention to the young man – swinging at his head and arms with their machetes. He sustained three wounds to his head and one on his hand before the men proceeded to rob the home and leave the man for dead.

The young man’s family was forced to make a three hour journey on foot to bring him to a hospital in a nearby city, where he is still receiving treatment.

This family’s story is only one of the many Christian families whose homes were robbed or burned to the ground. The violence erupted after a group of Muslims falsely accused Christians in the area of desecrating the Quran. One Christian leader told ICC that a radical Muslim group that fights to establish an Islamic state in Ethiopia is responsible for the attack.

While local police and government did nothing to stop the attacks – allowing for days of unmet violence – Ethiopia’s federal government eventually stepped in to attempt to put a stop the violence and removed the city’s local Muslim administrator for his failure to protect the Christians. Some reports indicate that 130 Muslims believed to be involved in the violence have been arrested so far. We have launched a blog entitled “Ethiopia in Crisis” to provide you with updates on this crisis as it unfolds and the smoke begins to clear.

HELPING THE 10,000 DISPLACED

The violence has displaced more than 10,000 Ethiopian Christians – leaving the churches in the area scrambling to provide basic necessities for the persecuted. Right now, the displaced are in immediate need of food and clothing. ICC, in partnership with churches on the ground, is providing emergency food relief packs of flour, rice, oil, and sugar or clothing. If you’d like to get involved, it only takes $5 to feed one person for a week or provide them with sufficient clothing.

If you would like to give the gift of food or clothing, just click here to give to our Community Rebuilding fund. Please type “Ethiopia” in the note.

March 17, 2011

Ethiopia, Petition

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We just want to say thanks to everyone who has already sent gifts to help the 10,000 displaced Ethiopian Christians. We’ve truly been blessed by your heart to help these suffering brothers and sisters! In addition to giving, you can also help these Ethiopian Christians by speaking out for justice on their behalf. We’ve launched a petition to ask for exactly this! It takes just minutes and will hopefully have a tremendous impact – Ethiopia receives millions of dollars in US aid and is usually quite responsive to this sort of pressure.

It’s simple. Click here to review the full petition, and then click here to sign.

You can forward the link to this blog to your friends through the share icons below and ask your friends to sign, as well! You can also print the petition and collect signatures at your church, school, or other venue and mail them to us at:

International Christian Concern
PO Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907

March 16, 2011

Ethiopia

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ICC Sends Staff to Investigate

ICC has sent an Ethiopian staffer to the scene of the recent violent attacks against Christians in Ethiopia to gather information and investigate the attacks. We have been able to confirm that at least two Christians, not one, were killed during the attack. The second victim, a woman, was stabbed and died after she reached a hospital for treatment.

Our investigation has uncovered more detail on the attacks. We are being told from eyewitnesses that the attacks started on March 2 when Muslims came out of a mosque en masse screaming, “Allah Akbar“  (God is great).  Then they started to burn churches. After that, they burned the homes of church leaders.

More Impending Attacks

After the attacks, the Muslims publicly announced through loudspeakers that this attack is only the beginning, and that they only wanted to send a warning to the Christians. They threatened that more attacks are coming and more Christians will be killed in the future attacks.

Help Is Desperately Needed

There are 10,000 displaced Christians in the area of the attacks. ICC is working with church partners on the ground to supply emergency food packs of flour, rice, oil, and sugar. Incredibly, $5 will supply one Christian with food for a week or a new set of clothes.

ICC will match your gift dollar for dollar. So if you give $5, ICC will give another $5. ICC is matching up to $10,000 in a bid to bring in funds for this time-sensitive effort. You can donate by either using the link on the right (please type “Ethiopia” in the note) or calling us at 1-800-ICC-5441.

Stay tuned for more information!

March 14, 2011

Ethiopia

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Beginning on March 2nd in an Islamic area of Ethiopia, Muslims went on a rampage beginning with an assault on the church in Asendabo.

ICC and others alerted the world and called on the Ethiopian government to intervene. Sadly, they could not or would not stop the Muslim attacks. After a week, when the smoke cleared, the damage was evident. The Muslims had burned down the homes of 30 Christian leaders, they had killed one Christian, wounded several others, and burned down 69 churches, a Bible school, and a Christian orphanage.

Here is an account from just one of the attacks.

On March 8, armed Muslims entered the home of an elderly Christian leader who had founded a church in a nearby Muslim village. When the militants began to assault the church leader, his grandson rushed to intervene, screaming at
the men to leave his grandfather.

The Islamists stopped assaulting the grandfather and turned their attention to the young man – swinging at his head and arms with their machetes. He sustained three wounds to his head and one on his hand before the men proceeded to
rob the home and leave the man for dead.

The young man’s family was forced to make a three hour journey on foot to bring him to a hospital in a nearby city, where he is still receiving treatment.
This family’s story is only one of the many Christian families whose homes were robbed or burned to the ground. The violence erupted after a group of Muslims falsely accused Christians in the area of desecrating the Quran. One Christian leader told ICC that a radical Muslim group that fights to establish an Islamic state in Ethiopia is responsible for the attack.

While local police and government did nothing to stop the attacks – allowing for days of unmet violence – Ethiopia’s federal government eventually stepped in to attempt to put a stop the violence and removed the city’s local Muslim administrator for his failure to protect the Christians. Some reports indicate that 130 Muslims believed to be involved in the violence have been arrested so far.

THE DISPLACED NEED OUR HELP

The violence has displaced more than 10,000 Ethiopian Christians – leaving the churches in the area scrambling to provide basic necessities for the persecuted. Right now, the displaced are in immediate need of food and clothing. ICC, in partnership with Churches on the ground, is providing emergency food relief packs of flour, rice, oil, and sugar or clothing. A gift of $5 can feed one person for a week or provide sufficient clothing for one person.


Christians are in crisis  as we speak. Will you please give generously to bring help to those in need?

If you would like to give the gift of food or clothing, just click here to give to our Community Rebuilding fund. Please type “Ethiopia” in the note.

March 11, 2011

Indonesia

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Anti-Christian extremism in Indonesia is rising. The Setara Institute, a human rights think tank based in Jakarta, recorded 17 anti-Christian incidents in 2008. In 2009, the number was 18. In 2010, the number jumped to 75. It is important to recognize that the vast majority of attacks and incidents are not reflected in these numbers. They are only an indicator of a very disturbing trend.

In 2010, there were some very disturbing incidents that set the context for this increase in extremism.

  • In Bekasi, a gathering of Islamic Organizations at the Bekasi Islamic Conference led to the creation of a group called the Bekasi Islamic Presidium. This group was tasked with preparing local mosques for a religious war through the training of paramilitary units.
  • Churches were burned and shut down, and the construction of new Church buildings was stopped. Sadly this was not exceptional, but widespread. Areas of Indonesia which had previously been peaceful saw an outbreak of religiously motivated violence.
  • Perhaps most alarming is the stance of local authorities who have both failed to restrain extremist groups and overtly stopped Christians from meeting. In 2010, the police were responsible for or condoned 56 violations of religious freedom.

Sadly, in 2011, there has been a continuation of this pattern.

The Indonesian constitution provides for freedom of religion and accords “all persons the right to worship according to their own religion and belief.”  Despite the legal protections, provincial and local laws have been used to restrict religious freedom.

One example of this is when a local law requires Christians to obtain a certain amount of signatures from the community to build a church. In one case, the church obtained the necessary signatures to build. Later, Islamic hardliners intimidated people into withdrawing their signatures, and police blocked construction.  The right to worship freely must include a place to worship freely.

Indonesia has been known for its diversity and openness. But with rising extremist groups, there has been a corresponding rise in religious-related incidents. The Indonesian government needs to realize that its non-confrontational approach towards extremists is only disrupting the peace instead of establishing it.

The question is still unanswered, “Which Indonesia will emerge?” A modern, democratic defender of human rights, or an intolerant, quasi-Islamic state that uses mob rule and terror?