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Shedding light on Christian persecution around the world.

August 29, 2011

Imbaba Attack

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A radical mob throws a Coptic family’s furniture from the rooftop of their home near St. Mina Church in Imbaba, Cairo on May 7, 2011. A number of Coptic-owned homes and businesses were attacked and one church was burned to the ground.12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded from the day’s violence.

August 26, 2011

Pakistan

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In the Faisalabad District of Pakistan, Muslim families on their way to and from mosque routinely pass by the home of Skeena Bibbi, an elderly Christian woman who hosted weekly prayer meetings in her home until she was forced to flee the area with her family last month.

Skeena BibbiWhen some of Bibbi’s Muslim neighbors discovered that she was inviting Christians from around the community to weekly prayer, they incited one another to break in to the woman’s home on July 28th and harass the believers who had gathered for the meeting.  The next day, they returned to Bibbi’s home when all of her family members were away at work and she was left alone. Arriving at her door armed with sticks and guns, the Muslim attackers mercilessly beat Bibi – severely injuring her head and arm.

When the Muslims finished beating the elderly woman, they left her and traveled to her son’s workplace. After luring him outside, they beat the young man with rods. His injuries to his head and ribs can be seen in the picture at right. Bibbi's Son

When the family attempted to submit a complaint to the police, their Muslim neighbors intervened and forcefully told the family to make peace with their attackers. In Pakistan, it is very common for Christian victims to be forced into accepting reconciliation when they decide to take their case to the police.

Bibbi and her family have now abandoned their home and fled their community due to continued pressure from their Muslim neighbors and fear of another attack. Please keep this family in your prayers.

In this video, a radical Islamist mob, known as Salafists, storm into Virgin Mary Church in Cairo before setting the building on fire. The video captures the mob breaking windows and destroying furniture. Notice that one person is clearly holding a pistol before heading upstairs where Coptic Christians are hiding. At least 12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the May 7th attack. In all, two churches and surrounding Coptic-owned homes were targeted by the extremists.

August 22, 2011

Islam

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ICC’s President, Jeff King, has just completed his first book: Islam Uncensored. The book is a collection of 14 interviews with experts on Islam from across the spectrum, including: liberals, conservatives, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, feminists, and more. Last month, we introduced you to each of these 14 experts. This month, we want to highlight snippets from our interviews with two of the men we approached for their understanding of the role Saudi Arabia plays in the spread of radical Islam.

The CIA Director

James Woolsey has served five times in the federal government, holding presidential appointments in two Democratic and two Republican administrations including serving as the 16th director of Central Intelligence under President Bill Clinton (1993-1995). Having received degrees from Stanford University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School, Mr. Woolsey has coauthored many articles and argues that the West is in the middle of fighting a “Long War” against radical Islam.

In our interview with Mr. Woolsey, he discussed the role of Saudi Arabia in advancing radical Islam and what must be done in order to defeat it.

On Saudi Arabia and Radical Islam:

“The Saudi’s and Al-Qaeda’s underlying beliefs are for all practical purposes identical. … They both believe in an extreme form of Sharia, they both believe apostates and homosexuals should be killed, they both believe in stoning women who are convicted of adultery. When they stone a man, they bury him only up to his waist and he is able to scrape the dirt away, often extricate himself before he’s hurt too badly, and if he can get out and get away from where he’s being stoned, he’s let go. The woman is buried up to her neck and tied in such a way that she can’t escape.”

On the Advancement of Islam in the West:

We asked Mr. Woolsey about a recent call he made to support Oklahoma’s voters’ call to ban any application of Sharia law by the state courts:

“The problem tends to come up in the West with respect to women’s rights, particularly the beating of wives and the killing of daughters—so called honor killings. It’s come up a lot in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. What happens is a husband will beat his wife and she’ll bring charges against him, but he’ll say it is his right under his religion. One of these cases went all the way up to the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation and the beater was upheld.

“We’ve only had one case I know of in the US where that kind of a defense was offered when a man beat and raped his wife and was upheld at the trial level in New Jersey. This was a year or so ago, and then he lost at the appellate level. When they asked me to make this robo-call, they said, “We haven’t had any cases like this in Oklahoma,” and I said, “I don’t know that you have to have one woman per state beaten, and a beater exonerated, before you pass a Constitutional amendment.”

On Fighting Radical Islam:

“The first thing we’ve got to do is stop talking in euphemisms and dancing around the issue. This business of the government filing a report of Major Hassan’s killing of his 13 fellow soldiers and never mentioning the word Muslim or Islam, or anything. He’s just a random violent extremist. That’s nuts.”

“Sometimes I feel like they’ll go to the extreme in thinking up euphemisms. Instead of calling terrorists ‘violent extremists,’ maybe they will call them ‘Anger Management Challenged Candidates for Therapy.’”

The Convert to Islam

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz is an American journalist who converted to Islam (Sufi) in 1997. He is a vociferous critic of Islamic fundamentalism and especially targets Wahhabi Islam. As the executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, he is an expert on Islamist extremism and has appeared in many periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal, The Spectator and the Weekly Standard.

Mr. Schwartz also discussed the critical role that Saudi Arabia plays in radicalizing the world’s Muslims.

On Saudi Arabia and Radical (Wahhabi) Islam:

“There was a powerful clan in Nejd, headed by Muhammad Ibn Saud (the House of Saud), and they formed a partnership with the house of Muhammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism. The agreement was that the House of Saud would control political, financial, and governance practices while the house of the descendants of Ibn abdul-Wahhab would control religious life. The two families married and they continue to marry among themselves. This created the situation of a joint Wahhabi/House of Saud plan for control of Arabia. They took over for the second and last time in Mecca and Medina in 1924 and the Saudi kingdom was established in 1932.”

On the Advancement of Radical Islam in the West:

“[Authentic] Islam did not really emerge as a significant religion in the United States until after the 1980s. When it began to emerge in numbers it had no hierarchy, no apparatus, and no organizations. Suddenly, Saudi-financed Wahhabi organizations emerged, like The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society in North America and some Pakistani jihadist organizations like The Islamic Circle in North America. They essentially set up a social, political and religious apparatus for the Muslims in America. All of a sudden the Muslims in America had organizations that claimed to speak for them. They ended up creating a structure in the United States with Saudi money, South Asian functionaries, and [Muslim] Brotherhood literature.”

On Fighting Radical Islam:

“Very simple solution. King Abdullah should cut off all money going to foreign Wahhabis. He should say Wahhabism is no longer a State religion in this country, and we’ll no longer allow any money to go to finance international radicalism by Wahhabi. That will be it. It will be just like it was when the Soviet Union stopped being Communist. With an end to the flow of money, the phenomenon will end.”

Order your copy from ICC today for only $14 with free shipping. Just call us at 1-800-422-5441.

All profits go to ICC and ministry funding.

Virgin Mary Church was set ablaze on May 7 by a radical mob. At least 12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in attacks that day that targeted two churches and a number of Coptic owned apartments.

“We don’t talk — the church screams for itself,” Rev. Mittias Ilias, head priest of the Virgin Mary Church in Imbaba, told Compass Direct News. “The church has five floors, and there is no space where the fire didn’t reach. The floors, the ceiling, the pillars, the church box, the chairs, the icons, all of it — everything was burned. Just give me one reason for all that. There is no reason for all that, nothing.”

A Bible found in Virgin Mary Church just after the fire was put out

More burned Christian literature found in Virgin Mary Church

On May 7, twelve people were killed and more than 200 were wounded when radical Islamists attacked two churches in the poor Cairo district of Imbaba.

Muslim protestors had gathered outside of St. Mina Church to demand the release of two women who had allegedly converted to Islam and were being detained against their will. As the protest ensued, Copts barricaded the church from the inside with pews and other furniture. Reportedly, the Islamists were armed and threw Molotov cocktails at the church.

Unable to push through the barricade, Islamists broke into Virgin Mary Church, a ten minute walk from St. Mina, and lit it on fire. “Islamists killed one guy in the church by slitting his throat. Most of the people killed were inside, and then they torched the church,” an eyewitness told ICC.

A week prior to the attack, 2,000 Islamists protested outside of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo demanding the release of the same two women. At that time, ICC began receiving reports that a larger and more violent demonstration was being plotted. Despite having ample warning, the Egyptian military neglected to increase security at Coptic churches. During the attack on May 7, security forces were unprepared, raising concerns that they may be influenced by or allied with radical Islamists. “Many are voicing sharp criticism of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and its transitional cabinet, accusing them of failing to apply the law so far as radicals are concerned,” the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported.

Coptic Christians believe that Salafis, also known as Wahhabis, were responsible for the attack. Last weekend, 50,000 Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood members held a joint rally in Giza, chanting slogans of unity and support for an Islamic state. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is the most organized and financed contender in Egypt’s September elections. Many predict that Islamists will win the majority seat in parliament, including presidential candidate and nationalist Amr Moussa. “Mr. Moussa… described a political landscape in which the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, is dominant. It is inevitable, he said, that parliamentary elections in September will usher in a legislature led by a bloc of Islamists, with the Brotherhood at the forefront,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

There is no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are allied,” said Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic human rights activist. “The Brotherhood plays politics and the Salafis are causing chaos so they can empty Egypt of Christians and make it an Islamic state. Lots of Egyptian people, including moderate Muslims, are worried. If Egypt becomes an Islamic state, it may mean civil war. We won’t get protection from the military council or the police forces. Our homes will be attacked at any minute, any time. Lots of people are scared. How will we protect ourselves? There will be bloodshed.”

Click here to read a detailed account by Compass Direct News

Wedding photo of Sama'an and Rasha

Sama’an Nazmi, a Coptic Christian from the garbage slums of Manshier Nasr, jumped up off the couch and sprinted out the door upon hearing gunfire and screams in the streets outside. Coptic youth had been staging a protest, causing enough racket that village priests urged them to stop before they attracted the attention of radical mobs who may use violence to forcefully halt the demonstration. The protestors – agitated over a church that had been burned to the ground by Islamists days earlier in a nearby village – refused to back down.

Villagers knew the protests were getting out of hand once the military arrived. Still, they could not convince their sons to come home. Instead, families gathered together, locked their doors, held hands, and prayed. When gunfire was heard, no one was surprised. In fact, many, like Sama’an, had been expecting it and were waiting to respond, knowing that help would be needed.

Don’t go!” Sama’an’s mother shouted after him as he fled out the door. “I’m not afraid,” Sama’an replied on the run. “I need to protect my church and family.”

We didn’t want to see him go,” Sama’an’s mother told ICC. “But he wanted to help those who were injured.”

Bullets still flying, Sama’an hurriedly searched for the injured and offered whatever assistance he could give.

Sama’an’s efforts were short lived, however. His wife, Rasha (not real name), had followed closely behind him before stopping at the top of the hill where she could see the upcoming events unfold. “I saw Sama’an helping an injured youth to his feet,” Rasha explained through a translator. “And then Sama’an dropped to the ground.”

A shrill scream pierced the village. Rasha tried to go to her husband, but her legs locked and she fell desperately to her knees. Crawling toward him and toward the battle that pressed on, villagers had to grab her to hold her back.

I couldn’t get to him,” she lamented. “But when he fell, I knew he was dead. I knew there was nothing I could do.”

They take our children, our money, our power. They take everything,” Sama’an’s mother continued. “What do they want from us?

Sama’an’s family lives off less than two dollars a day which is earned by collecting and recycling Cairo’s trash. With Sama’an’s death, the family lost their only provider. Sama’an’s father is also out of the picture, having been arrested a year earlier for owning a pig, which became illegal in Cairo after the swine epidemic of 2009. It will be another four years before he is released. The women and children are now left to fend for themselves.

Sipping tea with Sama’an’s family in their home, Rasha took a framed wedding photo from the wall and handed it to me. A beautiful bride and handsome groom, in love, posed confidently for the camera. I looked at the bride and hardly recognized her. Rasha’s face, though still young, had aged quickly over the past few months by the stress and hard labor that a poor widow must bear in Egypt. How could Rasha have known her life would turn out this way?

Still gazing at the photograph, Sama’an’s five-year-old son Hany and two-year-old daughter Mariam chased after baby chicks scurrying across the living room rug. Amongst the chirps and laughing children, Rasha broke down in tears. The group I was with came to her, prayed, and offered what little comfort we could. “What will she do now?” I asked myself. “How will she raise her children on her own?

Today, ICC continues to seek a solution to these questions. Upon our visit, ICC was able to bless Rasha and eight other families who lost loved ones in the protests on March 8 with a gift to help their immediate financial needs. Now, ICC is developing a small business for Rasha and providing the support needed to ensure that her children will attend school. Lastly, we have connected these families with a local church that will visit them monthly and continue to ensure that there spiritual and physical needs are being cared for.

Please consider partnering with ICC by praying or sending a donation for families in Mokattam. If you would like to give a gift to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Egypt, please make a donation to our Hand of Hope Fund for the Middle East and include a note designating your gift for “Egypt.” You may also give by check or by calling us at 1-800-ICC-5441.

To learn more about families in Mokattam who lost loved ones on March 8, please sign up for our newsletter to read a full article in our September edition.

August 11, 2011

Egypt

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Sama’an Nazmi, a Coptic Christian from the garbage slums of Manshier Nasr, jumped up off the couch and sprinted out the door upon hearing gunfire and screams in the streets outside. Coptic youth had been staging a protest, causing enough racket that village priests urged them to stop before they attracted the attention of radical mobs who may use violence to forcefully halt the demonstration. The protestors – agitated over a church that had been burned to the ground by Islamists days earlier in a nearby village – refused to back down.

Villagers knew the protests were getting out of hand once the military arrived. Still, they could not convince their sons to come home. Instead, families gathered together, locked their doors, held hands, and prayed. When gunfire was heard, no one was surprised. In fact, many, like Sama’an, had been expecting it and were waiting to respond, knowing that help would be needed.

“Don’t go!” Sama’an’s mother shouted after him as he fled out the door. “I’m not afraid,” Sama’an replied on the run. “I need to protect my church and family.”

“We didn’t want to see him go,” Sama’an’s mother told ICC. “But he wanted to help those who were injured.”

Bullets still flying, Sama’an hurriedly searched for the injured and offered whatever assistance he could give.

Sama’an’s efforts were short lived, however. His wife, Rasha (not real name), had followed closely behind him before stopping at the top of the hill where she could see the upcoming events unfold. “I saw Sama’an helping an injured youth to his feet,” Rasha explained through a translator. “And then Sama’an dropped to the ground.”

A shrill scream pierced the village. Rasha tried to go to her husband, but her legs locked and she fell desperately to her knees. Crawling toward him and toward the battle that pressed on, villagers had to grab her to hold her back.

“I couldn’t get to him,” she lamented. “But when he fell, I knew he was dead. I knew there was nothing I could do.”

“They take our children, our money, our power. They take everything,” Sama’an’s mother continued. “What do they want from us?”

Sama’an’s family lives off less than two dollars a day which is earned by collecting and recycling Cairo’s trash. With Sama’an’s death, the family lost their only provider. Sama’an’s father is also out of the picture, having been arrested a year earlier for owning a pig, which became illegal in Cairo after the swine epidemic of 2009. It will be another four years before he is released. The women and children are now left to fend for themselves.

Sipping tea with Sama’an’s family in their home, Rasha took a framed wedding photo from the wall and handed it to me. A beautiful bride and handsome groom, in love, posed confidently for the camera. I looked at the bride and hardly recognized her. Rasha’s face, though still young, had aged quickly over the past few months by the stress and hard labor that a poor widow must bear in Egypt. How could Rasha have known her life would turn out this way?

Still gazing at the photograph, Sama’an’s five-year-old son Hany and two-year-old daughter Mariam chased after baby chicks scurrying across the living room rug. Amongst the chirps and laughing children, Rasha broke down in tears. The group I was with came to her, prayed, and offered what little comfort we could. “What will she do now?” I asked myself. “How will she raise her children on her own?”

Today, ICC continues to seek a solution to these questions. Upon our visit, ICC was able to bless Rasha and eight other families who lost loved ones in the protests on March 8 with a gift to help their immediate financial needs. Now, ICC is developing a small business for Rasha and providing the support needed to ensure that her children will attend school. Lastly, we have connected these families with a local church that will visit them monthly and continue to ensure that there spiritual and physical needs are being cared for.

Please consider partnering with ICC by praying or sending a donation for families in Mokattam. If you would like to give a gift to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Egypt, please make a donation to our Hand of Hope Fund for the Middle East and include a note designating your gift for “Egypt.” You may also give by check or by calling us at 1-800-ICC-5441.

To learn more about families in Mokattam who lost loved ones on March 8 or about the garbage districts of Cairo, please visit ICC’s Out of Egypt blog or sign up for our newsletter to read a full article in our September edition.

August 4, 2011

China, North Korea

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North Koreans live in one of the most inhumane and cruel regimes in the world. There’s no doubt about that.  Starvation, arbitrary arrest, torture, forced labor, and public execution are just a few of the horrors that North Koreans fear each day.  Most North Koreans have no option but to live under the rule of this repressive regime, but some have risked imprisonment and possible execution attempting to flee the country. No one knows exactly how many have fled the nation, but estimates range from 100,000 to 400,000 in the last few decades alone.  For the majority of North Koreans fleeing the nation, the only viable option is to cross by foot into China and then eventually seek asylum in nations such as South Korea or Thailand.

Unfortunately, China is making every effort to ensure that these brave men and women never find asylum.  Chinese government officials actively hunt down refugees and forcibly repatriate them back to North Korea, all but condemning them to death or a lifetime in prison. Not only does China seek out refugees for immediate detainment and openly pays bounties for reports on refugees’ whereabouts, the communist regime also actively blocks refugees from entering into refugee-friendly embassies in Beijing and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office, where refugees could begin the asylum process.

China’s cruel policy of repatriation is a blatant violation of its international treaties, including the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.  Despite vast international pressure, the communist regime continues to actively pursue North Korean refugees for arrest and repatriation.  “There is no reason for China to continue its inhumane and barbaric treatment of North Koreans,” stated the Chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, Suzanne Scholte, “because unlike any refugees in the world today, they can be immediately resettled as they are citizens of South Korea under the Republic of Korea’s constitution.  This is a crisis that could be solved overnight if China would simply follow international law and allow the UNHCR to do their job.”

China’s Policies Fueling the Sex Trade

For those refugees who are not caught and repatriated, an estimated 90% are sold and trafficked into the sex trade.  Experts point to China’s one-child policy that has resulted in a shortage of women in the nation.  It is estimated that by 2030, nearly 30 million Chinese men of marriageable age will be without prospects of marriage – thus creating a severe gender imbalance and fueling the sex trade.   China’s ruthless repatriation policy leaves North Korean refugees especially vulnerable to traffickers.

Raise Your Voice on September 22

Protesting outside the Chinese embassy for protections for North Korean refugees

In order to bring global awareness of China’s cruel policy and practice of repatriation of North Korean refugees, ICC is partnering with the North Korea Freedom Coalition for an International Protest to Save the North Korean Refugees on Thursday, September 22. This protest will call Chinese embassies and consulates throughout the world to stop their policy and practice, and to stand up for the rights of North Koreans.

Would you be willing to coordinate a protest at the Chinese embassy or consulate in your city or country? We’re looking for people to organize a protests or rally, conduct a prayer vigil, host a film screening of movies that depict the plight of North Korean refugees, or simply to deliver a petition to the Chinese embassy. If you think you would be interested in any of these opportunities, please email ICC at icc@persecution.org.