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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’Map reflects the 30 most recent Persecution Reports. Click HERE for the Map Legend.
Syria's president marked the Easter holiday with a visit to the recently recaptured Christian village of Maaloula. Maaloula has changed hands several times throughout the Syrian civil war and President Assad is using this recent victory as an opportunity to spread new propaganda. While touring the villages Christian heritage sites, Assad claimed that he intents to protect Christians and their places of worship. Whether these these statements are anything more than propaganda remains to be seen. Christians on the other hand fear direct association with Assad, fearing reprisal attacks from rebel groups still operating across the war torn country.
According to a recent report, more and more Muslim majority countries are beginning to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws to the determent of religious minorities. In many cases, the people who suffer the most under blasphemy laws are religious minorities. Many believe that blasphemy laws are not compatible with international human rights standards because the violate individuals religious freedom and free speech right.
According the Britain's Minister for Faith Christian communities across the world, particularly in the Middle East, are in danger of becoming extinct due to targeting by Islamic extremists. From Egypt to Syria to Pakistan, Christian communities across the Middle East and South Asia have come under attack as extremists gain influence. In Pakistan, a church of 600 attendants was attacked by two suicide bombers shortly following a Sunday service. Around 130 Christians were killed as a result of this attack. Scenes of destruction like this are being faced by Christian in many of Christianity's ancient homelands. Please pray for these persecuted brothers and sisters.
Four Iranian Christian who were imprisoned for attending a house church lost their appeals and now face 3years and 8 months in prison. The Christians were originally sentenced in June for their faith activities. In February 2012, 6 Christians were arrested attending a house church. Iran is currently imprisoning over 300 Christians for attending house churches across the country, one of who is an American pastor. Please pray for these imprisoned brothers in Christ.
The desecration of a church in Syria has been caught on tape and posted to the internet. In the video, Sheikh Omar Raghba smashes a statue of the Virgin Mary after rebels took control of Yakubiya village. In the video, the Sheikh claims that no other religion besides a strict Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabism will be tolerated in Syria. This video further shows the difficult situation faced by Christians in Syria. On one hand there is Assad, who has shown a willingness to kill thousands of his own citizens to keep power, and on the other is the rebels, who Christians fear are becoming more and more radical as the war drags on.
According to news sources at AINA, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) desecrated and set fire to an Armenian church near Syria's northern border with Turkey. According to sources on the ground, these rebels decided to burn the church to show the superiority of Islam over other religions. Attacks like this on Christians in Syria have been on the rise since the beginning of the civil war as foreign Islamic extremist enter Syria to join the fighting. Please pray for the persecuted of Syria.
As Syria's civil war continues, Christians continue to be caught between both government and rebel forces. How are they surviving day to day? One priest in Syria shares 5 days from his journal about what some Christians in Damascus are doing to help build peace and get captives released. Please pray for these Christians risking their lives as witnesses to the power of Jesus Christ and his message of peace and love.
As Christian towns and neighborhoods in Syria are becoming caught up in Syria's civil war, many Christians feel that they are being targeted for violence by rebel groups fighting government forces. Recently, two major Christian areas, Sadad and Maaloula, have been taken by rebel forces and then re-taken by government forces. When rebel groups took these areas, churches were vandalized and many Christians fled, fearing rebels would assume they support the government forces and punish them. Syria's civil war has left the Christian community to with the unanswerable question of who should they support. The future of this community, which makes up 10% of Syria's population, remains unclear.
As the Syrian civil war continues, the Syrian Christian community continues to find itself caught in the middle of the bloody struggle. In recent months, cities with large Christian populations have been caught up in the conflict and have forces some Christians to pick a side in the civil war. While many Christians initially supported the rebels, recent developments regarding the identity and ideology of the rebel groups in Syria have turned more and more Christians to support the government. Where will the Christian community be when the civil war is over? Will there even be a Christian community in Syria any more?
The sentencing of 4 Iranian Christians to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine is only the latest incident of persecution in Iran's longstanding crackdown on Christianity. Many speculate Iran's Shite Muslim government views the growing Christian community as a threat to their majority rule, so for decades, the government has been taking steps to stomp out its growth. The arrest of pastors, the treat of death sentences for converts from Islam and the routine raiding of house churches are only part of Iran's overall strategy to persecute Christians.
Sadad, a Christian town briefly held by Syrian rebels, was retaken by government forces on Monday. The Christian population of Sadad has found themselves caught in the middle of Syria's civil war, many afraid of what the future holds for the persecuted religious minority group. In Damascus, Christians protested outside of a cathedral calling on the government to secure the release of their Christian relatives who they claim are being held by armed rebel groups.
Christian communities across the Middle East and South Asia continue to endure ever increasing levels of persecution and religious intolerance. This has lead to the decline of many Christian populations in these countries. In Syria, one of Christianity's oldest homes, the Christian population has declined by 25 %. As the world continues to sit in watch this injustice continue, please remember to pray for these communities.
Iran has a history of arresting and imprisoning Christians for attempting to spread Christianity in the Islamic republic. Christian convert Mohammed-Hadi "Mostafa" Bordbar has recently been sentenced to 10 years in prison for proselytizing in Iran. Officially, he has been convicted of "crimes against state security." According to reports, police raided his home and discovered thousands of copies of the Gospel Mohammed-Hadi had planned on using to witness to others in Iran. Please pray for this persecuted brother.
Christians and Muslims used to peacefully coexist in Syria. Unfortunately, the last two years of civil war have erased this peaceful coexistence, leading Christianity to face an "existential threat" in Syria. According to reports, over 300 Christians have been killed during the civil war, even though they did not participate in hostilities. Christian leaders, including priest and monks have been targeted by extremists and hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled the country seeking safety as a refugee outside Syria's borders. Please pray for these persecuted people.
Blasphemy and defamation of religion laws continue to repress the Christian faith in countries across the world. Known for inciting violence, accusations and prosecutions on the basis of blasphemy or religious defamation have proven detrimental to the free exercise of religion and harmful to minority Christian communities throughout the world. Social hostilities, advanced by cultures of impunity, continue to pose a serious threat to Christians worldwide.
The Pope met with leaders of the Anglican church in an effort to bring unity to Christians and explore how to encourage brothers and sisters in Syria who suffer persecution at the hands of oppression, war and violence.
“The conclusion of a new report by the US Hudson Institute researcher Lela Gilbert is clear and unequivocal: gender-based violence plays a key strategic role in the plans of those who wish to eradicate Christians and Christian belief from Muslim lands.”
All around the world there is a notable rise in persecution of Christians at the hands of Islamists—it is on its way to “reaching pandemic proportions. This includes entire Christian colonies burned down in Pakistan and the bombing of churches in Nigeria. “The Nigerian government recently did go on the offensive to try to contain the jihadis [of Boko Haram], only to be chastised by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying he was "concerned by credible allegations that the Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations" against the jihadi mass murderers.”
“Experts say a society's treatment of religious minorities is a reliable bellwether for its human rights record across the board, and the situation facing Christians in Turkey offers a compelling case in point.” This article discusses some of the past violations of religious freedoms and attacks on Christians as well a recent survey of the country which revealed that 1/3 of Turkish Muslims would object to having a Christian as a neighbor.
The Christian community in Syria finds itself in an extremely challenging situation as the conflict between rebel and government forces continue. Many within the rebel forces are known to be foreign fighters with ties to Islamic terrorist organizations and are anti-Christian. These groups have magnified the divisions between Syrians of different faith traditions and have created conflict where there was previously tolerance.
It seems the effects of Islamization in Turkey have reached a tipping point, as is evidenced by the recent protests in the streets. It is increasingly difficult to be a Christian, as this young man found when his friends disapproved of his choice of spouse. In this article he shares about the beating he received from police and the threats they made to “rape his Christian wife.”
As conflict carries on in Syria the future for the Christian community appears dim. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have retaken some significant territory in recent days perhaps signaling a turning of the tide. At present two Bishops kidnapped more than a month ago remain missing. It is a complex issue but as foreign governments contemplate what steps to take in the conflict they must certainly take into consideration the effects it will have on the minority groups in the conflict.
Five Christian schools are set to be closed down in Gaza as a result of a decision taken by the Hamas government. The decision is to ban coeducational institutions as a reflection of an increasing conservative Islamic value system. While the law does not specifically target Christians the only coeducational schools are the two Catholic and three Christian schools. The two Catholic schools would be forced to shut down, ending their service to more than 1,000 students.
Christians caught in the middle of the ongoing violence between the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the various rebel groups face an extremely difficult situation. A new report highlights how the Rebels, including a large number of foreign Islamic groups, have specifically targeted the Christian community offering them no safe options. The situation has left the Christians living in the unsustainable state of “constant terror that paralyzes him completely.”
The wife of American-Iranian Pastor brought his case before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Saeed is not guilty of violating any Iranian law; instead, he is being held as a prisoner of conscience because he had exercised his fundamental human rights and converted from Islam to Christianity,” Naghmeh Abedini told the council. Despite mounting international pressure the Iranian government continues to subject Pastor Saeed to harsh treatment in Evin Prison.
As the Syrian crises continues and the fate of two kidnapped Christian leaders remains unknown. The Bishops Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church were taken while returning from a humanitarian mission in Turkey in late April. Christians remain caught in the middle of the ongoing conflict between primarily Sunni Rebels and the Shi’ite president Bashar al-Assad. U.S. Congressmen Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., recently wrote on the significance of the kidnapped Bishops. "At stake are not just the lives of two religious men, or even the fate of the Syrian Christian community, but the fate of any hope of tolerance and pluralism in the Syrian endgame — and perhaps in the region as a whole."
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