This is a video done by a good friend of ours, Caleb Green (this is in, fact, his first time making a video):
This is a video done by a good friend of ours, Caleb Green (this is in, fact, his first time making a video):
From Baptist Press:
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (BP) — Christians in Sri Lanka, off the southern coast of India, are facing an increase in persecution at the hands of Buddhist fundamentalists who believe the country is a historic Buddhist land that should not be shared with anyone else, a watch group reported.
Christianity is viewed in Sri Lanka as a product of Western colonialism that threatens Buddhists’ identity, the Washington-based International Christian Concern said, adding that the practice of Christian evangelism is seen as an obstruction to Buddhists’ vision for the country.
Open Doors USA, which also closely monitors the persecuted church, corroborated the account in a report June 4, saying Sri Lanka has seen 30 incidents of persecution against Christian churches since January, and “the perpetrators of such acts were not brought to justice.”
A contributor to CNN, in a June 4 opinion piece, wrote that it is time for U.S. pressure on Sri Lanka, which ended a 30-year civil war four years ago but still oppresses people groups.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has cited the continuation of “enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as … discrimination on the basis of religion or belief,” the CNN writer stated.
In late May, a 30-year-old monk set himself on fire to protest the spread of Christianity in Sri Lanka, and his supporters said they would make his dying wish a reality, ICC reported May 29, indicating persecution against Christians there could yet escalate.
About 200 Sri Lankan Buddhists blocked traffic in the capital of Colombo to protest after authorities rejected a state funeral for the country’s first monk to set himself on fire as a form of protest, Agence France-Presse reported May 27.
ICC reported that 2012 and 2013 have seen a dramatic increase in Christian persecution in Sri Lanka, including Christians being attacked in more than 50 incidents in 2012 alone for practicing their faith. Reports of Christian pastors and their families being threatened and having their homes firebombed have almost become common, ICC said.
Catholic World News cited a bishop May 1 in Sri Lanka who said the cause of the uptick in persecution is the growth of what he calls the “Buddhist Taliban.”
Sri Lanka, with 21.5 million people, is 69 percent Buddhist, 8 percent Muslim, 7 percent Hindu and 7 percent Christian, and many of the Christians are Catholic, according to the Catholic World News report cited by ICC.
In March, a large mob attacked a pastor’s home while the family was away and began damaging the property, demanding an end to the church services in the home, ICC said May 5.
The same pastor had been accosted and threatened by a group of Buddhists telling him to close down the church late last year, the human rights organization said. The protesters returned the next day and attacked the building during a worship service, injuring the pastor.
Also in March, more than 10 churches faced persecution in the form of threats, disturbances, harassment or attacks, mostly from Buddhist monks but sometimes with the assistance of the police or a mob, ICC said.
Last summer, a 14-year-old boy, the only Christian in his class at school, reportedly was severely beaten and threatened with death if he did not stop spreading Christianity.
“What is troubling today is the increase in the severity and frequency of the attacks, raising concerns over the motivations behind them and the safety of Christians,” ICC said.
“Although Buddhism is the national religion, the government has expressed its desire to provide religious freedom to all. This is a claim that is severely undermined by the apathy of the police, the courts and the judicial system when it comes to cases filed by Christians against their persecutors.”
Open Doors cited an April press release by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, which expressed deep concern over the “prevalence … of an organized campaign of hatred against adherents of non-majority faiths.”
“There are two alarming factors about the current situation,” the evangelical group wrote. “The first is that the violence seems to be organized and orchestrated by two organizations. Hence the violence has sustainability. Secondly, and most alarmingly, both the extremist violent organizations seemingly have patronage and support from authorities and hence the impunity with which they operate.”
The evangelicals did not identify the two organizations.
ICC believes the motivation for the use of violence by Sri Lankan Buddhists is rooted in politics and ethnic identity.
“Without an urgent initiative to protect its religious minorities, Sri Lanka runs the risk of empowering an unhealthy nationalistic sentiment that will only subvert its earnest efforts to birth a better nation out of the ashes of war,” ICC concluded.
Posted by Theodore Shoebat
Post “Arab Spring” Egypt continues exposing its true nature, including nowlegal persecution of Christians. Earlier this month, according to Fox News, Dimyana Abdel-Nour a “pale, young Christian woman sat handcuffed in the courtroom, accused of insulting Islam while teaching history of religions to fourth-graders.” Her accusers are 10-year-old Muslim children who say she “showed disgust when she spoke of Islam in class.”
According to Islamic law, the word of inferior Christians cannot stand against that of superior Muslims—even if they are resentful or confused children.
Released on bail, Dimyana is unable to talk and “suffering a nervous breakdown.”
The report continues:
Criminalizing blasphemy was enshrined in the country’s Islamist-backed constitution that was adopted in December. Writers, activists and even a famous television comedian have been accused of blasphemy since then. But Christians seem to be the favorite target of Islamist prosecutors. Their fragile cases — the main basis of the case against Abdel-Nour’s case the testimony of children — are greeted with sympathy from courtroom judges with their own religious bias or who fear the wrath of Islamists, according to activists. The result is a growing number of Egyptians, including many Christians, who have been convicted and sent to prison for blasphemy…. Part of the Salafis’ antagonism toward Christians is rooted in the belief that they were a protected group under Mubarak’s regime while they, the Salafis, were persecuted. Now empowered, they may be out to exact revenge on the Christians….
Indeed, before President Obama threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus in the name of “freedom” and “democracy,” Christians were at least legally protected: Muslim mobs were limited to lawless attacks on Christian churches and persons. But now that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis are in charge, Egypt’s Christians are now also experiencing legal persecution in the courtrooms, especially in the context of blasphemy.
The following cases of blasphemy laws targeting Christians, some of which were never reported in the West, represent a mere sampling of post “Arab Spring” Egypt. For many more such cases, including all around the Muslim world, see my new book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (April, 2013, published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute.
- In November 2012, an Egyptian court decreed that eight Christians living in America—seven native Egyptians, and one American, Pastor Terry Jones—be sent to Egypt and executed in connection with the 16-minute YouTube Muhammad video. The prosecution offered no real evidence against the Christians, most of whom deny any involvement, and instead relied on inciting Muslims against the accused by replaying the video in the courtroom.
- Last September, 27-year-old Copt Albert Saber was accused of posting clips of the Muhammad movie—which he had actually downloaded from a Muslim site, not YouTube. Muslims attacked and evicted him and his mother from their home; he was arrested and is currently awaiting a multi-year sentence.
- In March 2012, Makram Diab, a 49-year-old Christian, was sentenced in a 10-minute show trial to six years in prison for “insulting Muhammad.” He had gotten into a religious argument with a Muslim colleague, who went on to protest that Diab had offended the prophet. The judge doubled the sentence to appease an angry mob, 2,500 strong, which had surrounded the courtroom demanding Diab’s death.
- In August 2012, Bishoy Kamil, a Copt in his 20s who worked as a teacher, wasarrested and given six years in prison for posting cartoons deemed insulting to Islam and its prophet on Facebook. Like Diab, he was given more than double the maximum penalty to appease mob calls for his death.
- In April 2012, Gamal Abdu Massud, a teenage Christian student, wassentenced to three years on accusations that he had posted a Muhammad cartoon on his Facebook account, which had only some 135 friends. Apparently the wrong “friend” saw it, for it was not long before local Muslims rioted, burning the Coptic teenager’s house as well as the homes of five other Christians.
- In June 2011, another Christian woman, Naima Wahib Habil, newly hired as director of a junior high school for girls, was sentenced to two years imprisonment on the accusation that she had torn a copy of the Koran in front of her students. The rumor inspired mob riots and calls for her death.
Human rights activist Magdi Khalil of Coptic Solidarity told me that in all these cases “Islamist prosecutors rely exclusively on circumstantial evidence. And the judges do not behave like impartial judges, but rather as demagogues haranguing an already frenzied mob, and then sacrificing the Copts to satisfy them. Nor do they allow any representation for the accused. Judges just show up and pass their verdicts in very brief mock trials.”
Such is the new Egypt that Obama helped create—despite all the glaring warning signs that it would develop just like this. Christian persecution in Egypt has gone from being a common, though technically illegal, phenomenon, to being widespread, and now legal.
From BR Now:
TEHRAN – Iran’s treatment of its Christian minority has come under fresh scrutiny in recent months with some harsh reports on the country’s human rights record.
Reports from the United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) cite evidence of “systematic persecution and prosecution” of Protestants and Christian converts, as part of a widespread violation of international laws.
The United Nation’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, noted in September 2012 that more than 300 Christians have been arrested and detained since 2010, while at least 41 were detained for periods ranging from one month to over a year, sometimes without official charges.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in February that Iran “refuted” the UN’s claim of an increase in discrimination toward religious minorities, claiming “all people of Iran regardless of their religion or ethnicity enjoy equal citizenship rights.”
However, ICHRI’s January report, “The Cost of Faith: Persecution of Christian Protestants and Converts in Iran,” based on interviews with 31 Iranian Christians between April 2011 and July 2012, claims that “despite the Iranian government’s assertions that it respects the rights of its recognized religious minorities, the Christian community in Iran faces systematic state persecution and discrimination.”
This view is supported by Mansour Borji, advocacy officer for the human rights initiative Article18.
“Sometimes the phrase ‘systematic persecution’ is used so loosely that it sounds like a cliché. However, in the case of Iran’s persecution of Christians, it fits the criteria,” Borji told World Watch Monitor.
“Arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, severe restrictions on worship services in Farsi language, a ban on the publication of Bibles and Christian literature in Farsi, threats and harassment of evangelical church leaders, and continued attempts to confiscate church properties – these are all pieces in the puzzle.
“In a nutshell, there is a systematic attempt to deprive churches of membership, literature, leadership training and development, communion with other Christians around the world, and the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by the international covenants that Iran is a signatory of.”
Christians in Iran
The Cost of Faith report states that Iranian Protestants face the “most severe” restrictions on religious practice and association, through “arbitrary” arrests and detentions, state execution and extrajudicial killings.
The number of Christians in Iran was recorded by the World Christian Database in 2010 as fewer than 300,000 (0.36 percent of the population). “Ethnic Christians” from predominantly Armenian (100,940) or Assyrian (74,000) descent comprised the majority of this figure, while 25 percent of Christians (fewer than 70,000) were Protestants, the bulk of which are understood to be converts from Muslim backgrounds.
It is impossible to know the precise number of Christians in Iran due to the perils of professing a Christian faith (particularly for those from Muslim backgrounds), but the figure seems likely to be significantly larger than recorded. Some Christian organizations, such as Iranian Christians International, claim the number of converts alone could be as high as 500,000.
Many Christians in Iran attend underground house churches, which have grown in popularity since 2001. ICHRI attributes this to “growing repression.”
“Theoretically, Protestants, along with Armenians and Assyrians, are among the Christians recognized in the Islamic Republic’s constitution. In practice, however, they have been persecuted and discriminated against, and have faced significantly more aggressive government restrictions and human rights abuses than ethnic Christian groups,” states The Cost of Faith.
Freedom of religion
Iran fails to comply with a number of laws set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to ICHRI, including Article 18, which obligates all countries to safeguard freedom of religion.
In a speech to mark the launch of the UK’s FCO report in April, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that all citizens have certain “unalienable rights,” which are “universal” and not an attempt to spread Western values. These rights, he said, include freedom of religion.
The report states that this freedom is “broad” and “encompasses not only the freedom to hold a belief but also the freedom to share it.”
Iran’s appreciation of this freedom comes under serious scrutiny in both reports through a number of examples of Christians in Iran who have been arrested and detained, “often without fair trial or legal representation” (FCO).
Last September’s release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who had been sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010, is hailed in the FCO report as a “rare positive outcome following sustained pressure from the international community.”
However, Alistair Burt, FCO Minister with responsibility for Iran, said the arrest “should not have taken place” and called on Iran to “respect the religious freedom of its citizens.”
Pastor Nadarkhani was re-arrested on Christmas Day, but released on January 7. In March, photographs of a man being hanged were attributed as evidence of the pastor’s death, but these were later refuted.
A number of other Iranian Christians remain in what the UK’s FCO labels “harsh conditions” in prison, including Pastor Behnam Irani, who is said to be in ill health; Farshid Fathi, who after 15 months in detention was sentenced last year to six years in prison; and Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born American pastor who in January was jailed for eight years.
After his incarceration, Abedini’s wife Naghmeh Shariat Panahi told World Watch Monitor that she feared she wouldn’t hear her husband’s voice for the duration of his imprisonment unless the international community fought for his release.
The Cost of Faith claims the bulk of arrests of Iranian Christians are “arbitrary” and political, rather than because of any crime committed.
The most common charges, according to the report, include “propaganda against the regime,” “acting against national security,” “contact with a foreign enemy or anti-regime group” and “colluding with enemy foreigners.”
Apostasy remains “uncodified” in the Iranian constitution, which according to the The Cost of Faith creates a loophole that could lead to the legal prosecution of Christian converts.
“The Iranian constitution explicitly instructs judges to utilize Islamic legal sources where crimes and punishments are not covered by the code, leaving the door open for the continued practice of relying on jurisprudence that holds apostasy to be a capital crime,” ICHRI stated.
In his latest report in March, the UN special rapporteur called on Iran to improve its human rights record by putting a stop to “continued widespread systemic and systematic violations of human rights,” including discrimination against Christians.
“Christians should not face sanctions for manifesting and practicing their faith,” Shaheed said. “Christians are reportedly being arrested and prosecuted on vaguely worded national security crimes for exercising their beliefs, and the right of Iranians to choose their faith is increasingly at risk.
“Christian interviewees consistently report being targeted by authorities for promoting their faith, participating in informal house-churches with majority convert congregations, allowing converts to join their church services and congregations, and/or converting from Islam. A majority of interviewees that identified themselves as converts reported that they were threatened with criminal charges for apostasy while in custody, and a number of others reported that they were asked to sign documents pledging to cease their church activities in order to gain release.”
Posted by Theodore Shoebat
Here is yet another video of a Pakistani Christian giving his testimony on how Rescue Christians saved him and his family:
His name is Rifaqat Masih, and he was almost killed through the violent instigation of Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistani Taliban); but we managed to get him and his family out of the hells of Pakistan.
We thank God for this, and we ask that you please support this cause by going to rescuechristians.org and giving what you can.
All money goes directly into helping the families who we are supporting and preserving.
How does atheism bring about more freedom?
Posted by Theodore Shoebat
From Stefan J. Bos, reporting for BosNewsLife:
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iran’s largest Persian speaking Pentecostal church was closed Monday, May 27, after one of its leaders was detained during a worship service and moved to an unknown location, Iranian Christians told BosNewsLife.
The closure of the Central Assemblies of God church (AoG) in Tehran and the earlier arrest of its Pastor Robert Asserian on May 21 come while Iran prepares for presidential elections next month.
Eight candidates were approved for the June 14 presidential poll to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot run again because of term limits.
Islamic authorities eager to maintain their influence are wary of groups deemed dangerous to their power base, including growing Christian churches, especially at a time of elections, according to a BosNewsLife analyze based on several reports from Iranian Christians and rights groups
“These incidents appear to be an attempt to stop worship services from being conducted in Farsi, the language of the majority of Iranians,” said George O. Wood, general superintendent of the AoG in the United States. “Services are allowed in Armenian, a minority language that most Iranians do not speak or even understand.”
Wood expressed concern about the future of the AoG in Iran and the whereabouts of the pastor. “Before going to the church, authorities raided Pastor Asserian’s home where they confiscated a computer and several books. Then, they found Pastor Asserian at the church leading the prayer service, immediately arrested him, and announced the church’s imminent closure.”
He confirmed that, “At last report, the pastor’s whereabouts are unknown.”
Iranian Christians said the closure of AoG in Tehran will set a precedent for closing all Farsi-language churches in Iran. “Such a move would essentially remove all open witness of the gospel of Christ in the country,” Wood warned. No exact figures of members of the AoG were released, but mission groups have suggested there are at least 100,000 evangelical Christians across Iran, with some giving higher estimates.
Wood said he had appealed to AoG member churches to “earnestly pray for Pastor Asserian and all fellow believers in the Iranian Assemblies of God” and “request prayer that the authorities in Iran will uphold the rights of people to worship freely according to their conscience.”
Besides Pastor Asserian, other pastors are known to be detained in several prisons across Iran. One of those pastors is Behnam Irani who is held in Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj city, one of the toughest jails in the country, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of the nation’s capital Tehran.
“He has been sentenced to five years in prison for his Christian activity,” explained Jason DeMars of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries, who is involved in the case.
Irani began a one-year prison term in 2011 but was later told he would also have to serve a five-year, previously suspended, sentence for “crimes against national security”.
Iranian Christians also fear a court verdict suggesting prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for “apostasy”, or abandoning Islam, said Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the ‘Church of Iran’ movement to which the pastor belongs.
“He is in a cell with 38 other people, most of whom are in prison for murder and dealing drugs,” DeMars told BosNewsLife.
“As a result of prison conditions he is suffering from intestinal inflammation that is causing a bleeding ulcer, diminished eyesight, and an herniated disc in his back.”
DeMars said the pastor “walks with a limp because of the pain. Some close to the case believe that Iran’s secret police is seeking to use these circumstances so that Pastor Behnam dies in prison.”
WHITE HOUSE PRESSURED
He urged Christians around the world not to forget the pastor and sign a petition asking the White House “to take immediate steps to put pressure on the Iranian government to secure the release of Pastor Behnam Irani.
“Most of the focus of the American church, regarding persecution, has been Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran,” he said.
“I’m very thankful that so much attention has been given to him [but there are also] others in prison serving a sentence for their Christian faith.”
Iranian authorities have defended their perceived harsh policies towards especially evangelical Christians, who include many former Muslims, saying they are upholding the laws of the strict Islamic nation and its Islamic values.
Posted by Theodore Shoebat
Fiorello Provera writes (From AINA):
The recent abductions of Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and his Greek Orthodox counterpart, Paul Yazigi, reflect not only the increasing brutality of Syria’s civil war, but also the escalating crisis for Christians across the Arab world — one that could end up driving them away altogether. According to the International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of all acts of religious persecution worldwide in 2012 were directed against Christians. This surge in discrimination against Christian communities in countries where they have lived for many centuries can be explained largely by increasing Islamist militancy and the rise of political Islam in the wake of the Arab Spring. As Islamist parties have taken power in the region, a wave of intimidation and discrimination has been unleashed on Christian minority populations.
For example, on Feb. 26, at a garment market in Benghazi, Libya, members of a powerful Islamist militia rounded up dozens of Egyptian Coptic Christians — identified by crosses tattooed on their right wrists — whom they then detained, tortured and threatened with execution. Among the victims was a Coptic priest, whom the captors beat severely before shaving his head and moustache. Priests have also been assaulted in Tripoli and churches have been torched. All of this sends a clear message: non-Muslims are not safe in Libya.
While Libya has no significant religious minority, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians live and work in the country, where Christian proselytizing is illegal — and where one can be accused of proselytizing simply for possessing a Bible. But Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government does not seem particularly eager to protect its Christian citizens in Libya; it offered only a halfhearted call for the release of its detained citizens.
This reflects the similarly deteriorating situation for Christians in Egypt, where they account for roughly 15 percent of the population. In early April, a funeral at St. Mark’s Cathedral (the seat of the Coptic Church in Cairo) for four Christians killed in sectarian rioting days earlier descended into chaos, with thousands of mourners attacked as they tried to leave after the service. Police fired tear gas into the compound, standing by as those outside the cathedral launched petrol bombs, hurled rocks and shot at those inside. At least two died and 80 were injured in the five-hour clash.
Christians blame the Muslim Brotherhood not only for allowing Muslim Egyptians to attack them with impunity, but also for permitting — and delivering — incendiary anti-Christian rhetoric. For example, at an open rally for President Mohammad Mursi last year, the cleric Safwat Hegazy warned that Egyptian Muslims would “splash blood” on Christians who “splash water” on Mursi’s legitimacy.
In February, Egypt’s Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, sharply criticized the country’s leadership in a televised interview, calling the new constitution discriminatory and dismissing Mursi’s “national dialogues” as an empty gesture. This unusually assertive stance reflects rising frustration among Christians, as well as among the secular and liberal opposition, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s power monopoly.
Syria, which once welcomed thousands of Christians fleeing war-torn Iraq, is experiencing an analogous change, as the country’s increasingly sectarian civil war generates fear and mistrust throughout the population. Although Christians have largely sought to remain neutral in the conflict, they have become involved gradually, some by taking up arms and others as victims of kidnapping and violence.
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III recently stated that, since 2011, over 1,000 Christians have been killed and more than 40 churches and other Christian institutions (schools, orphanages, and care homes) have been damaged or destroyed. Some estimate that 300,000 Christians have fled Syria.
Furthermore, fallout from relentless regional conflict is destabilizing Lebanon, a country that offers Christians a constitutional guarantee of political representation. Some 400,000 refugees — many of them Sunnis, including fugitive rebels — have poured over the border from Syria, exacerbating sectarian tensions and threatening to disrupt Lebanon’s delicate social and political balance.
Given that, as Gottingen University’s Martin Tamcke points out, there is no remaining alternative for Christian refugees in the Middle East. They are increasingly heading to Europe and North America. If this trend is allowed to continue, the Middle East will gradually lose its Christian congregations. In order to prevent such a tragic outcome, Western leaders must take a more active role in advocating the protection of Christian minorities throughout the Arab world.
Ultimately, Christians and Muslims in the Arab world have the same desires: freedom, dignity and equal rights. Those who are persecuting Christians should recognize that the Arab Spring should benefit all Arabs.
Posted by Theodore Shoebat