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Persecution of Christians

(for the full story, go to the Manilla Times) The Christmas season does not end until after the solemnity, or feast, of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus on January 13. The season is a time of hope and joy. Sadly, there is little joy among Christians suffering persecution in countries where they are a minority.

The said thing is that, as the famous international human rights lawyer and expert on the Palestinian Christian minority, Justus Reid Weiner, has been saying, “The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs.” The same can be said of Christian minorities in other parts of the world.

Here are some cases of Christian persecution reported by various advocacy groups based in the countries where the incidents occurred.

In India’s state of Orissa, last Monday (December 24), a mob of militant Hindus attacked a Christmas worship service. The attackers destroyed the crib and the figure of the Baby Jesus, the lights and the sound equipment.

An ecumenical Christian group representing churches and mission societies has reported that in the past two years, Hindu militants—backed by local political parties and activists—have carried out 500 or more attacks against mainly Christian missionaries.

In a Chinese province, on Dec. 19, local police—or men of the public security bureau—arrested and tortured the leader of an underground-church community. This incident is part of an annual Christmas season crackdown on Christians, whether Catholic or Protestants, who refuse to join the approved churches. They hold Masses and services clandestinely in private homes. The approved churches operate under the government’s religious affairs section.

A Christian group sent a report to Hong Kong that at least 150 house-church pastors were believed to be behind bars in the second week of December. They were arrested by Chinese security forces that broke up a their meeting in Shandong province.

In Pakistan, on December 18, a Pakistani couple and their children went into hiding because they converted to Christianity and their Muslim relatives threatened to kill them. They could not seek protection from authorities whom they feared of being ideologically militant Islamists themselves.

Also in Pakistan, the secretary-general of the Churches of Pakistan was kidnapped in early December. The suspected abductors are Muslim militants who had earlier killed at least three Pakistani Christians.

In Indonesia, after a group of Muslim militants attacked a Baptist pastor’s chapel and carried out a noisy protest against Catholics who had built a chapel in the same town, Indonesian officials agreed to the militants’ demand for the closure of both chapels.

In the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, two Baptist pastors were detained and now face deportation. Police in both countries have been cracking down on evangelical churches.

In Egypt, the husband of an Egyptian woman who had converted to Christianity and married him last year reported that on their wedding anniversary the police arrested his wife.