MUST WATCH: New Rescue Christians Promo Video
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 Canada Free Press:
A 16-year-old Christian convert from Islam by the name of Aman Ullah was kidnapped by the Taliban on May 25th in Peshawar, the heart of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. “We don’t know which of the 32 different Taliban groups operating both in Afghanistan and Pakistan is responsible,” says John Taimoor, founder of Crossbearers ministry. “My team, workers and disciples from Muslim backgrounds are facing pressures from many sides and physical persecution.”
The young kidnap victim came to Christ about a year ago, and he has already memorized the books of John and Ephesians in the Bible. His goal is to memorize the entire New Testament since he had memorized the Quran as a young person. “He is very dear to me,” Taimoor shares. “‘Aman Ullah’ means ‘peace of God’ in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Pushto languages,” he adds. “He is adiamond, very dedicated and brilliant…. He made public statements and gave his testimony.”
Taimoor asks for prayers for his ardent young disciple. “We are looking to our Saviour who is able to save us to the uttermost but we also look to our friends for prayer and what God places on their hearts!”
Pray for Aman’s protection, asking for favour among his captors. In fact, while waiting for his safe release, may this young disciple be anointed as God’s spokesperson in their lives, helping them to realize their need of Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Also ask God to protect and minister to all who are faithfully serving Him in Pakistan.
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 Charisma News:
Jihadist persecution of Christians around the world is one of the biggest under-reported stories in media circles, says a Christian activist and expert on the issue.
Raymond Ibrahim, a Copt from Egypt—now living in the U.S.—says that Western weakness in confronting radical Islam has left the jihadists feeling emboldened. In his new book, Crucified Again, Ibrahim presents firsthand knowledge and investigation of widespread persecution.
“Although Muslim persecution of Christians is one of the most dramatic stories of our times, it is also one of the least known in the West,” he writes.
Ibrahim’s own country of Egypt is experiencing a resurgence of violence towards Christians, thanks to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.
“As one of the oldest and largest Muslim nations, with one of the oldest and largest Christian populations, Egypt is a kind of paradigm of Islam’s treatment of Christians,” Ibrahim states.
Although the violence is spreading and intensifying, Ibrahim insists that many in the Western media, including Christian media, are not picking up on it.
“CBN has been great in reporting on this phenomenon and promoting the book. One senior CBN reporter, Gary Lane, said ‘While I’ve read many books about Christian persecution over the years, none of those I’ve encountered provide a better historic and contemporary context of Christian suffering in Muslim countries than Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.’ Unfortunately, most other evangelical churches and organizations have been indifferent and uncooperative about getting the story out on Christian persecution—and to this, I am at a loss.”
Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, has some ideas about engaging American evangelicals in this gigantic issue:
“First, they need to acquire the proper knowledge of the situation—which is precisely why I wroteCrucified Again, to fill the vacuum the mainstream media has created by woefully failing to report the reality of Christian persecution under Islam. Christians should read the book, which makes everything clear, and addresses all the hows and whys. Even those who think they are aware of the situation will probably be overwhelmed by the reports in the book—the actual amount of persecution that goes on, and how widespread it is, from Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east, from sub-Saharan Africa in the south, to Kazakhstan and Russia to the north, and even in European nations (as we recently saw with the London) beheading—a thing that happens often to Christians in the Islamic world.”
As for the Copts in Egypt, Ibrahim has direct knowledge of the growing danger:
“Things just keep going from bad to worse. Persecution and discrimination, which was present under the Mubarak era, are now, under the Muslim Brotherhood, becoming legalized. For example, in the context of ‘blasphemy’ charges against Christians.
Most recently, a young female Christian school teacher was arrested and awaiting a prison sentence because a couple of her 10-year-old Muslim students accused her of looking ‘disgusted’ when teaching Islamic history. But if you read the book, you’ll see that her case is the tip of the iceberg, as many other Copts have been incarcerated under the accusation that they ‘insulted’ Islam.
Alex Newman writes (from AINA)
A spokesman for the primary rebel alliance in Syria, known as the “Free Syrian Army,” threatened that opposition forces could start implementing a broad ethnic-cleansing program aimed at Shia Muslims and especially the Islamic Alawite sect to which dictator Bashar al-Assad belongs. As Obama administration-led Western powers and a coalition of Sunni Arab dictators continue to fuel the increasingly ruthless conflict, the rebel FSA spokesperson said in a TV interview that minority communities would be “wiped off the map” if the regime’s forces managed to capture the city of Al-Qusair.
The genocide announcement came shortly after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted his Senate Foreign Relations Committee colleagues for voting to arm the rebels, many of whom openly fight under the banner of al-Qaeda. “This is an important moment,” Sen. Paul said about the vote. “You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda.” While the U.S. government has been supporting the opposition since before open warfare began, Obama has ramped up that support to unprecedented levels. And now, a Senate committee has expressed its backing for arming groups that openly threaten to exterminate minorities.
According to a report in Bloomberg, rebel Free Syrian Army “Colonel” Abdel-Hamid Zakaria made the threat to exterminate minority-denomination Muslims in Syria during an interview from Turkey last week with Al-Arabiya television. “We don’t want this to happen, but it will be a reality imposed on everyone,” Zakaria said during the interview, referring to his alliance wiping certain minority communities off the map if regime forces succeeded in taking Al-Qusair. “It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.”
The city in question, located in central Syria’s Homs province, is seen as crucial due to its strategic location along a major highway connecting the capital Damascus to the coast. It is considered extremely important by rebel forces, which rely on it to obtain weapons and supplies from neighboring Lebanon. For the regime, the city’s value is obvious as it continues to wage war on foreign-backed Islamists described by officials as “armed terrorist groups.”
Regime-run media outlet SANA reported that most of the city was captured last week, with troops loyal to Assad reportedly seizing vast weapons stockpiles and destroying tunnels used by rebel forces. Dozens of opposition fighters were reportedly killed in the battles. More than 20 members of the U.S. government-designated terror group Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia that has joined Assad in the effort to stop the rebels, were also killed, according to news reports.
Opposition spokesmen said the fight for Al-Qusair was ongoing, though everyone acknowledges that government troops had at least made very significant inroads in re-capturing the city. “The Syrian Coalition warns about the outcome of these distressing developments, which come as part of an organized and predetermined military campaign,” read a statement released by the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, an opposition umbrella group dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist forces.
Despite the reported near victory of regime troops in Al-Qusair, it remains unclear whether the ethnic-cleansing plot outlined by the Free Syrian Army spokesman in the TV interview has been formally put into effect. As The New American has documented extensively, minority communities — especially Christians — have long been targeted by rebel forces throughout the ongoing war. However, if the brazen threat of extermination is officially implemented, the results will be unimaginable bloodshed and horror beyond even what has been witnessed so far, experts say.
Sunni Muslims, who dominate domestic rebel forces, make up a significant majority of the population in Syria, possibly as much as three-fourths or more of the 22 million people. Minority groups, however — Shiites, Christians, Jews, and others — represent an estimated 20 to 30 percent of Syrians. Members of virtually all minority communities have been targeted by one rebel group or another due, at least in part, to their perceived support of the secular regime, which largely protected minorities from Islamist violence despite Assad’s iron-fisted rule.
It is not the first time that foreign-backed Sunni Islamist rebels have threatened to exterminate minorities in Syria. In fact, earlier this month, an opposition brigade commander ate a body organ from a dead government soldier in front of a video camera and promised to do the same with others, boasting about slaughtering — and eating — members of the Alawite community to which Assad belongs.
“I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs — we will eat your heart and livers! Takbir! God is Great!” commander Khalid al-Hamad with the “Independent Omar al-Farouk Brigade” says in the video, words that he later defended in interviews with Western media outlets. “Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!” After the brief speech, the Sunni rebel took a bite out of the organ in a video that drew international condemnation.
The Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups promptly distanced themselves from the cannibal commander, saying cannibalism was against Syrian values. FSA spokesmen and the SNC called on the rebel leader to be held accountable, and human rights groups around the world said the video was yet more evidence of the exploding horror now being felt throughout much of Syria. Despite strongly worded statements against cannibalism issued by other rebel leaders, the monstrous video was hardly the first example of the barbaric sectarianism that has reared its head in the nation amid the ongoing conflict.
As The New American has been reporting virtually since the start of the war, the ethnic cleansing of Christians by rebel forces began quickly after open hostilities broke out. In April of last year, for example, multiple churches, aid organizations, and human rights groups reported that the Christian minority — estimated at about 10 percent of the population before the war started — was being massacred and driven from its homeland in growing numbers.
At the time, the Syrian Orthodox Church, which represents over half of Syrian Christians, issued a statement saying revolutionary fighters had expelled some 50,000 Christians from the embattled city of Homs. That figure was estimated to account for about 90 percent of the Christian community in the city. Hundreds more Christians — including women and children — were slaughtered, according to charitable organizations operating in the area.
The Orthodox Church referred to the persecution as the “ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians” by Muslim militants linked to al Qaeda. According to its report, the so-called “Brigade Faruq” was largely to blame, with Islamic extremists going door to door and forcing followers of Christ to leave without even collecting their belongings. Their property was then stolen by rebels as “war-booty from the Christians.”
Christians in Homs were reportedly told by rebels that if they did not leave immediately, they would be shot. Then, pictures of their brutalized dead bodies would be sent to the pro-Syrian-regime-change Al Jazeera — a media broadcaster controlled by the dictatorship ruling Qatar, which is arming and funding the rebels — with a message claiming that forces loyal to Assad had murdered them. It would hardly be the first time opposition fighters perpetrated atrocities and blamed the regime.
Aid agencies also documented the terror aimed at minorities, especially among the church. “Christians are being forced to flee the city to the safety of government-controlled areas,” noted a spokesman for the Christian relief agency Barnabas Fund, which reported that over 200 Christians had been murdered by insurgents at the time. “Muslim rebel fighters and their families are taking over their homes.”
Other reports noted that Christians were being kidnapped by rebels for use as human shields. “Some Christians who tried to escape a week ago were stopped from leaving by the rebels and were instead forced to go to a mosque to act as shields,” a Syrian priest from Hamidiya was quoted as saying by the U.K. Daily Telegraph. “They thought that, because Christians support Assad, the government would not attack them.”
According to reports from sources on the ground, Muslim militias also used churches to attack government forces. “Most of the time militiamen were using the churches and the Christians as shields to protect themselves from shelling,” explained regional director Issam Bishara with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). “It is also important to mention that some icons inside the churches were damaged on purpose by the militias.”
Since then, the brutality has only gotten worse, and countless numbers of Christians have been forced to flee into neighboring countries to avoid the brutality and slaughter. The ancient Christian communities, which were protected by the secular Assad regime, feared genocide if the dictatorship were to eventually fall and be replaced by a Sunni Muslim theocracy — as rebels hope. Analysts said those concerns were well founded.
Such a development would also be in line with what has occurred in other nations where the U.S. government has intervened. In Iraq, for example, the ancient Christian communities were all but eradicated following the American-led, United Nations-approved military invasion and occupation. Many fled to Syria. Following the Obama administration-backed so-called “Arab Spring,” Christians are also under fire in Egypt, Libya, and other nations. President Obama’s unconstitutional war on Libya led to ethnic cleansing of blacks by U.S. government-backed “rebels” as well.
The U.S. and Russian governments are currently planning to host an international conference about the Syrian war in Geneva next month, and the Assad regime has agreed “in principle” to participate. Of course, the Obama administration and its allies, including European powers and ruthless Muslim dictators, have been bankrolling, arming, and training rebel forces for “regime change.” On the surface, Russian authorities have been publicly backing the Assad regime, supplying weapons and international support.
While foreign powers continue to pour fuel on the already-blazing inferno raging in Syria, estimates suggest as many as 100,000 people have been killed. An estimated 1.5 million have already fled abroad. The number of tragedies and the ferocity of the human rights abuses, meanwhile, continue to soar, with innocent civilians paying the heaviest price.
Whether rebel forces will openly begin an ethnic cleansing program to eradicate non-Sunni Muslims, as threatened by the FSA spokesman last week, remains to be seen. However, it appears that minority communities in Syria are already the most vulnerable, and if rebel forces do eventually seize power, the future of Christians, Jews, Shias, and Alawites in Syria is uncertain at best.
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.