Tory MP Philip Hollobone has demanded more be done to stop the persecution of Christians across the Middle East and Africa.
Many Coptic Christians have been killed, tortured and raped while churches have been torched, including 100 in Egypt. Last month Taliban suicide bombers killed 85 worshippers at a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Mr Hollobone fears Christians in Syria are now under threat of a genocide on the scale of the 1994 Rwandan massacre of 50,000 Tutsis.
He said: “If Muslims were treated in this country as Christians are in Egypt and Syria, there would be international outrage.”
From The Washington Post, by Ken Chitwood:
NAIROBI, Kenya — While the smoke that hung over the Westgate Shopping Mall has dissipated, a quiet tension still lingers in the air throughout the capital.
Last month’s attack by al-Shabab militants on a mall frequented by Westerners in the capital city, left at least 67 dead. But the burning of a Christian church in the majority-Muslim city Mombasa just two weeks later suggests the nation is on the precipice of more conflict between Christians and Muslims.
This is dispiriting for many in a country that for years enjoyed relative peace between the two monotheistic religions that dominate the region.
“I am afraid that now, Muslims will attack more and the Christians will arm themselves and fight back,” said Paul Komu, a truck driver and Christian who was driving near Westgate when the attacks occurred.
Kenya is predominantly Christian, with Muslims making up about 11 percent of its population, mostly along the Somali border, its coastal region, and in cities such as Mombasa.
John L. Allen Jr., author of “The Global War on Christians,” wrote that just as Africa is the pacesetter for Christian and Muslim growth, it has also become one of the primary fronts for Christian-Muslim conflict, though not always in Kenya. For years, Kenya has been a refuge for people fleeing strife in other parts of the continent.
But Christian mission agencies such as the Mission Network report incidents of persecution pouring over the Kenyan border with Somalia. Mombasa is a flashpoint for conflict and foreign militants and terror groups have wreaked havoc in the past — as was the case with the 1998 al-Qaida bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.
To a large extent, day-to-day relations between the Muslims and Christians have been amicable.
Jamal Faroole, a Somali Muslim living in Nairobi, said, “For a long time we have had peace with Christians in this country.”
Likewise, the Rev. David Ongwaye, a Lutheran pastor in Kebirigo, Kenya, said that while there has been more political correctness than practical cooperation, “there was no thought that Muslims were plotting to cause mayhem.”
Now, sentiments have shifted.
“The human mind gets suspicious,” said Faroole. “People were already suspicious of Somali Muslims and now I fear it will only get worse.”
Ongwaye mentioned the targeting of non-Muslims in the mall attack as particularly unsettling. During the siege, the attackers demanded that Muslims identify themselves and leave the scene.
“The incident at Westgate has, in my opinion, rendered Christians more vulnerable to the Muslims and as such any future ‘ecumenism’ will be met with caution. It was very clear that those hostages who would recite the ‘shahada’ were saved from the bullet,” he said, referring to the Muslim profession of faith.
Denver, Colo., Oct 6, 2013 / 04:06 pm (CNA).- In his new book “The Global War on Christians,” Vatican analyst John Allen, Jr. details anti-Christian abuse worldwide, drawing light to the tremendous scale of violence against the world’s most persecuted religion.
“I don’t think it takes any religious convictions or confessional interests at all to see that defense of persecuted Christians deserves to be the world’s number one human rights priority,” Allen, a noted Vatican journalist and author, told CNA in an Oct. 2 interview.
“You didn’t have to be Jewish in the ’70s to be worried about dissident Jews in the Soviet Union; you didn’t have to be black in the ’80s to be concerned about apartheid in South Africa; and you equally don’t have to be Christian today to recognize that Christians are the most persecuted religious body on the planet.”
Allen’s work, published Tuesday by Image Books, arises directly from a conversation he had with Cardinal Dolan in 2009, in which the prelate made the point that Christians “need to do a better job of telling these stories” of Christian persecution, like the body of “Holocaust literature” showed the suffering of Jews under Hitler.
However, Allen became interested in the subject of anti-Christian persecution while traveling to Ukraine for Pope John Paul II’s 2001 trip there.
At that time, Allen met the granddaughter of an Eastern Catholic priest who had been killed in a gulag during the Soviet era.
“That conversation brought home that martyrdom is very much a feature of the contemporary Christian landscape.”
Prior to that, he said, “like a lot of Catholics … when I thought of martyrdom, I considered it an artifact of the early centuries of the Church, the early Christian martyrs under Nero and Diocletian.”
“The more I would travel the world and meet victims of anti-Christian persecution in various places, the more the scale and scope of this thing came home to me.”
Allen notes that throughout the first decade of the 21st century, 100,000 Christians were killed per year – 11 new martyrs every hour – and secular human rights groups estimate that 80 percent of religious freedom violations are current directed against Christians.
Despite these massive figures, the worldwide persecution of Christians is little known in the U.S., and Allen said the first purpose of his book is “to end the silence about anti-Christian persecution … to put it on the map.”
Highlighting that “this is a literal war against Christians on a global scale,” involving direct physical violence, harassment, and imprisonment, Allen works in the book to chronicle persecution against Christians in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and eastern Europe.
Having done that, Allen then clarified several myths about Christian persecution, such as the claims that no one saw the persecution coming; the issue is solely a political one; and “it’s all about Islam.”
Churches were burning in Pakistan, while African Christians died and radical forms of Islam threatened monasteries, sanctuaries and villages in Egypt, Syria and Iraq.
That was 1997. Human-rights scholar Paul Marshall kept hearing one question over and over when he addressed this rising tide of persecution: Why didn’t more American Christians protest as their sisters and brothers in the faith were jailed, raped, tortured and killed?
Some Christians, he said, were distracted by apocalyptic talk in which persecution was a good thing, a sign that the end of the world was near. Others weren’t that interested in violence on the other side of the world that threatened believers in ancient churches that looked nothing like their own suburban megachurches.
“The result is a stunning passivity that calmly accepts such suffering,” said Marshall, in an interview for an earlier column for the Scripps Howard News Service. “Perhaps this … could be justified if we were dealing with our own suffering. But to do this with the suffering of another amounts to theological sadism.”
That was 1997. Marshall had just co-written the groundbreaking book “Their Blood Cries Out,” with journalist Lela Gilbert. Since then, I have worked with both of these writers in global projects about religion-news coverage.
Now it’s 2013 and the news about the persecution of Christians has only gotten worse. Marshall, Gilbert and Catholic lawyer Nina Shea recently completed a new volume entitled “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.”
The bottom line: This topic is more relevant than ever.
A year ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.” While some mocked her words, a Pew Research Center study in 2011 found that Christians were harassed, to one degree of violence or another, in 130 countries — more than any other world religion. British historian Tom Holland told a recent London gathering that the world is witnessing the “effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace” in the Middle East.
Recent losses endured in Egypt have been staggering, with more than 100 Christian sites attacked by well-organized mobs in mid-August, including the destruction of 42 churches — the worst assault on the Coptic Orthodox Church in 700 years. In Syria, rebels linked to al-Qaeda overran Maaloula — famous for being one of three remaining villages in which locals speak ancient Aramaic, the language of Jesus — damaging the priceless St. Thekla monastery and trashing two churches.
Then the headlines got worse, with Islamist gunmen killing 67 or more people in the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. While Muslims were freed, hostages who would not recite the Shahada — an Islamic confession of faith — were tortured and killed, before their bodies were mutilated. Days later, the Taliban claimed credit for an attack by two suicide bombers on the historic All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which at least 85 worshipers died.
Pope Francis addressed these issues during remarks on Sept. 25, noted John L. Allen, Jr., of the National Catholic Reporter, when reached by email. He is the author of a new book entitled “The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution.”
In Allen’s translation of the event, the pope asked the crowd: “When I think or hear it said that many Christians are persecuted and give their lives for their faith, does this touch my heart or does it not reach me? Am I open to that brother or that sister in my family who’s giving his or her life for Jesus Christ? … How many of you pray for Christians who are persecuted? How many? …
“It’s important to look beyond one’s own fence, to feel oneself part of the Church, of one family of God!”
While the truth is painful, said Marshall, it’s important to asking questions about all those silent believers and their silent churches. If anything, it appears that many American Christians are even less interested in global persecution trends than they were in the past, while their churches are even more independent and focused on a therapeutic, individualistic approach to faith.
“It’s like all of these horrible events are just blips on the screen. They are there, then they are gone and forgotten,” said Marshall. “Sometimes, it’s easy to think that Christians in America don’t even know what is happening to their brothers and sisters around the world.”
From Christian Concern:
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has warned that Britain risks becoming actively “anti-Christian” at the launch of Christian Concern’s publishing house “Wilberforce Publications” which seeks to equip Christians to “face the challenges of the secular world”.
Drawing on his own experience of persecution, both personally and as President of OXTRAD, Bishop Nazir-Ali said that persecution “always begins with marginalisation and discrimination in the workplace and in public life”.
He added that Britain is in danger of becoming not just “unchristian” but “anti-Christian” unless the growing marginalisation of Christian faith in Britain is addressed.
Our team in Pakistan has been focused primarily on the victims of the Peshawar suicide bombing at All Saints Church recently. Below, you will find the history of the church and some exclusive details about what has been going on there since the attacks.
History of All Saints Church:
The Rev. Worthington Jukes built all Saints Church in 1883. This church is famous for its unique architecture, which was adapted from the local mosques and makes it unique in Pakistani church history. The local Muslims of Peshawar were against the building of the Anglican Church from the beginning and attempted to stop its construction. Many Christians lost their lives building this church, which is why the Church was known as CHURCH OF MARTYRS. Sadly, many more martyrs gave their lives on September 22nd 2013.
More than 500 people gathered for Sunday service on September 22nd, with 64 children present in the Sunday school center on the church compound. The two attackers struck at the end of the service outside the church while food was being given out. Peshawar is the main town in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has borne the brunt of a bloody Islamist insurgency in recent years.
The beautiful white-stone Church is located near the frontier tribal areas where Islamist militants have their strongholds. Hundreds of parishioners, many of them women and children, streamed out of the building, when both suicide attackers blew themselves up in the midst of the crowd. Suddenly, all the joy and happiness turned into screams and pain. The blood and pieces of flesh were everywhere; those who survived were crying and searching for their loves ones.
Mr. Khalid Shahzed, a renowned Human rights activist, was quoted as saying:
“After the blast, the local NGO’s ambulances rushed to the church and started taking the injured to the hospital. Sadly, there were no doctors or expert paramedical staff to handle the situation. Due to inexperienced staff, many people who were brought in alive died of their injuries. In the hospital, there wasn’t any emergency equipment, medicine, or any expert doctors. Not only that but the Muslim staff showed their prejudice by not even touching the bodies of the affected.”
One hundred twenty-three people died in this deadly blast and another one hundred sixty-nine people were injured. Amongst those injured there was a large number of women and children. This tragic incident resulted in the murder of many people who had been great assets to our community, to include doctors, teachers, principals, students, and government civil servants.
The Role of Christian NGO’
Many of the phony Christian NGOs played their usual role. The day after the attack they visited the church and many of the victims. There were the usual photo sessions, making of videos and writing reports with promises to help the victims. The phony NGOs performed their usual tricks and instead of helping these victims, they’re using these photo ops to raise money from the world to get donations for themselves with virtually nothing going to the victims.
Apart from us, there is only one other NGO we know for a fact that is helping people to get medical treatment as well as just one political leader of the ruling party. The rest just stand idly by with many taking advantage of the situation for their own personal gain.
The Role of the Church in Peshawar
This is the most disturbing of all and very hurtful to report. The Peshawar diocese is one of the wealthiest dioceses in Pakistan and it appears they are denying help to their own church members. Even one of the church members stated:
“When this blast took place the Presbyter in charge – Rev. Ijaz – who was present in the Church, left the compound and went to his home while people were lying dead and injured. On the Sunday of the attack, the Bishop was in Bannu. Rev. Ijaz didn’t show himself to his flock until Bishop Humphrey Peter arrived in Peshawar.”
The Local Church members also stated to us that the Bishop and his priests only officiated at the funerals of those who were personally known to them. The rest of the funerals were conducted by Pastors from other denominations, including Catholic priests and salvation army pastors who comforted the grieving.
Twenty years ago, this diocese spent millions of dollars on thousands of Afghanis in the Afghan-Russian war. They saved the lives of thousands of people but when it comes to their own people, the Church has been found wanting. Even the Mission Hospital, which is under the Diocese, didn’t have proper medical facilities for the wounded. Rescue Christians – because of the generosity of its donors – has now moved several of the victims from mission hospital to RMI hospital for expert medical care.
According to our sources, there are about 3 to 4 million rupees ($30-40,000) in the church account, as well as millions more rupees in the diocese account. None of this money so far has been appropriated to help any of the victims. This cruelty and negligence has increased the number of the deaths. According to our team, twenty people could have been saved if they had been provided the proper medical treatment.
What makes us different from Others?
Rescue Christians does not have an office located in Peshawar so it was a couple of days before we could get our team there. We worked fast to evaluate the different case histories and within next few days we started providing the medical assistance to the most seriously wounded patients. So far, we are providing medical assistance to eleven people. We have transferred them all to the best private hospitals in Peshawar. In Pakistan, this treatment would be regarded as very expensive but in USA terms it’s quite inexpensive but still in the multiple thousands of dollars. This week alone, we have sent about $15,000 to Pakistan for this emergency aid. If you have not donated yet please do what you can as we expect to have to send much more over in the coming weeks.
Robin Morris was one of the victims of the recent suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan. While his injuries should not have been considered life-threatening, he is no longer alive. Robin’s passing was both tragic and unnecessary, not because of the attack but because of a lack of treatment afterward.
Here is a note we received about Robin from our contact in Pakistan (the note was sent to us earlier today):
Last night, as we were on our way back to Lahore, Robin Morris called us at about 12:00 a.m. He requested us to help him with money so he could be moved to a good hospital; he was in desperate need of an operation. He had ball bearings (which were used in Church blast) in his both legs and had multiple fractures.
We promised him that we would be back within the next couple of days and to please hang on and wait for us.
We just learned that he died a few minutes ago and we feel so helpless.
He was the Employee of the Church of Pakistan but they also did not support him. He requested assistance from almost every NGO but received nothing.
He was the father of two minor kids.
Our contact also provided us with some details about other victims of the bombing…
Sabira Zulifqar – Her one eye had been damaged in the blast and doctors had to remove it. Her daughter had multiple fractures in her arm, whereas her husband had to have chest surgery. We need to shift all the family members to private hospitals and we need about 100,000 PKR (approx. $1000) for this family.
Khalida – She was 7 months pregnant but lost her child as a result of the blast because of infection in her tubes she has been operated on twice. She is in a government hospital and in need of proper treatment. She still needs surgery. This can cost us about between 70,000-80,000 PKR ($700 – $800).
Kashmala Munawar – Thirteen year-old girl in the 9th grade. She lost one of her legs due to the blast. If she were in any Private hospital, her leg likely could have been saved. During this deadly blast, Kashmala’s two sisters (Fiza and Samera) and mother were also badly injured. Her mother and two sisters were moved by the government in Islamabad.
This is my personal request that we should help this family with its most urgent and basic needs. We would like to get her an artificial leg and support her in the treatment. It’s really important.
We need to shift Kashmala to private hospital as well.
Just now I received a call from our contact in Peshawar. She told us that “Doctors have removed Kashmala’s second leg too.” that is why we are requesting to provide her to private treatment, which will cost approximately 150,000 PKR ($1500).
Attached is her picture which we took yesterday.
While our overall mission in Pakistan has not changed, we are compelled to focus right now on the immediate need for getting aid to the victims of the Peshawar suicide bombing. A key problem there right now has to do with the complete lack of care these victims are getting from government hospitals. Many of these victims don’t have to die; they just need more professional care.
We ask for your assistance in helping these victims. Any amount you can afford will help.
If you would like to help us help the victims of the Peshawar suicide bombing, please click here.
It appears that in the wake of the suicide bombing in Pakistan, violence is escalating, not receding. Christians in the area were understandably outraged by the attack. In response, the Muslim community appears to have taken up for the bombers’ cause and is attacking the victims.
We received the following note from our contact in Pakistan…
Just Now i received a call from a Bishop. He told me that the situation in Pakistan is getting worse after Christian reaction to the Peshawar Bomb Blast. Muslims of Iqbal town Islamabad are threatening Christians, and the angry mob of Muslims beaten and tortured the Christians in Zia Musjid Area and Khana Pul Islamabad. Similarly, Muslims have attacked the Christian Colony Korangi No 3, 1/2. Because of this ongoing tension, hundreds of Christians had to flee from there houses.
Need urgent prayers.
One of the many questions those in the west have about terror attacks is why ‘moderate’ Muslims don’t come out in forceful opposition to such attacks. When it comes to this suicide bombing in Pakistan, at least, the most vocal Muslim opposition appears to be directed at the victims of the attack.
In order for us to help to the degree of saving thousands from persecution, we also need thousands of people to participate at any level they can afford. G-d will bless you for your generosity in not turning your back on your brethren. If you can help, great. If you can spread the word of our work by word of mouth and get others to know what we are trying to do, then you will also be doing wonders for G-d’s people.
If you are moved to contribute, please click here.