Al-Shabaab slaughters seven Christians in door-to-door ID checks in Kenyan villages

July 25, 2017 by admin  
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Kenya, July 25, 2017: Somali-based terror group al-Shabaab killed seven Christians in a series of deadly raids in Kenya earlier this month where the Islamic radicals went door-to-door in villages looking for believers.

Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern reported on Monday that seven Christians were among the victims in the raids carried out by al-Shabaab between July 5–8, when the militants attacked the villages of Pandanguo, Jima, and Poromoko.

Previous reports noted that the militants beheaded nine civilians in Jima in Lamu County in their hunt for non-Muslims, though more information is being released now about the victims.

ICC listed the names of the Christians killed: Said Mbigo, Matei Mlatia, Peter Mburu, Teresio Munyi, Mwangangi Muneni, Katana Karisa Chai, and Musyoka Maithya.

A local pastor said the radicals have been searching for Christians to kill.

“The attackers have been targeting Christians living in Lamu County, especially farmers in the interior areas where small-scale agriculture thrives,” said Pastor Henry Divayo, head of the church in Witu town.

“[The militants in Jima] were asking the villagers to produce their identification cards and if you were found to be a Christian you would be shot or slaughtered.”

“Victims have been evacuated to camps where food and security is provided by [the] government and the Kenya Red Cross,” Divayo added. “We are hosting more than 200 people in our church and we expect the number to increase as more families are evacuated from Boni Forest.”

The pastor urged the Kenyan government to provide more help in terms of equipping police to protect churches, schools and hospitals.

The slaughter earlier this month follows a number of other attacks al-Shabaab has carried out against Christians in Kenya in the past few years. The deadliest attack being the massacre at Garissa University in April 2015, where nearly 150 students, most of them Christians, were killed.

The U.S. military continues to carry out air strikes against al-Shabaab bases in Somalia, with Trump recently authorizing expanded operations in a bid to eradicate the terror group.

In response, the radicals have taken aim at the U.S. president in a newly released video, calling him a “brainless billionaire.”

SITE Intelligence Group reported on Sunday that the radicals accused U.S. voters of electing “arguably the most stupid president a country could ever have” in retaliation for escalating attacks on their terror compounds.

The terrorists further vowed to continue carrying out attacks in Kenya.

“Your military’s invasion of Somalia will continue to destabilize your country,” the militants stated, referring to Kenya’s military operations against al-Shabaab.

“When we do strike, your government will not be able to protect you.”

- christian post

Church leaders decry extending military rule in Mindanao

July 24, 2017 by admin  
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Manila, July 24, 2017: Church leaders in the Philippines have decried a decision by lawmakers to extend martial law across the southern region of Mindanao until the end of 2017.

In a joint session of Congress on July 22, legislators voted to approve the request of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to extend military rule in the southern Philippines where security forces continue to battle Islamic State-inspired terrorist gunmen.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 shortly after gunmen claiming to have links with the so-called Islamic State occupied the city of Marawi, resulting in armed clashes that have displaced more than 300,000 people after two months of fighting.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, however, said the decision to extend martial law showed that the government “did not achieve anything” when it first placed Mindanao under military rule.

Martial law is not an urgent need, said the prelate, adding that what is most urgent is to secure the country’s borders, maintain security, and rehabilitate the city of Marawi.

“To continue with martial law is to increase the humanitarian crisis in Marawi,” he said. “What is happening in Marawi is not a just and fair reason to impose martial law,” Bishop Santos said.

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said he was disappointed with the lawmakers, saying that even the bishop of Marawi believes that the extension of martial law is “not necessary.”

“The situation will get worse because of the abuses that will surely be committed in the name of martial law,” said Bishop Bastes. “Our economy is already going down because of martial law,” he said.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan said it was expected that legislators would support the president’s decision to extend the duration of military rule.

The prelate said he supports “limited martial law only in some places in Mindanao…. I oppose martial law for the entire country,” he said, adding that it would send “bad signals to the international community.”

Benedictine nun Mary John Mananzan said the government could fight terrorists without martial law.

She said Duterte’s declaration of martial law “seems to be following the path that [former dictator Ferdinand] Marcos’ martial law took.” She said threats and dangers have been exaggerated.

“It really is an intensification of the move towards authoritarianism,” said Sister Mary John.

Sister Susan Bolanio, executive director of the non-government Hesed Foundation in Mindanao, said the extension of martial law is “unwanted.”

“We trust the capability of the military and the police to suppress the current actions of the enemies of the state even without martial law,” said the nun.

Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, retired prelate of Kalookan, said one should understand the situation in Mindanao and what martial law is all about “to be able to make an objective comment.”

Aileen Villarosa of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said her group was “greatly disturbed” by Congress’ decision.

“We are greatly concerned about the communities that would be affected by extending martial law,” said Villarosa, adding that even before it was introduced, rural communities in Mindanao “had already been subjected to grave human rights violations.”

“Now that civil authority can easily be undermined by military power, what protection do they have left?” she said.

Last week, Duterte said communist rebels and their supporters would be the government’s next target after security forces have crushed the terrorists in Marawi.

- ucan

Iran cracks down on Christian converts, sentences believers to 10-years in prison

July 23, 2017 by admin  
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Iran, July 22, 2017: Authorities in Iran are increasingly targeting Christian converts with arrests and imprisonments, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights In Iran.

“In less than two months, since June 2017, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran has issued long prison sentences to at least 11 Christian converts and the former leader of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church in Iran,” CHRI said in a report.

“Christians are recognized as an official religious minority in Iran’s Constitution, but the state continues to persecute members of the faith, especially converts,” said CHRI’s executive director Hadi Ghaemi. “The state must respect its own laws and international obligations and allow Christians and all religious minorities full freedom of worship.”

On July 6, the judge sentenced four Protestant Christian converts to 10 years in prison each “in a trial completely lacking due process,” the group said, quoting Mansour Borji, the advocacy director of a London-based group, Article 18, which defends Christians in Iran.

The four converts — Yusif Farhadov, Eldar Gurbanov and Bahram Nasibov from Baku in the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Iranian national Nasser Navard Goltapeh — were arrested at a reception hosted by their Christian friends in Andisheh last June.

Prosecutors couldn’t produce any evidence to show the converts had acted against national security, Borji said. Yet they were convicted of being “Zionist Christians” who “acted against national security with the intention of overthrowing the state in a soft war.”

Two weeks earlier, the same judge had given Christian converts Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie 10-year prison sentences for propagating house churches and promoting “Zionist Christianity.”

The lawyers of these four Christians are preparing to appeal the verdict.

A ruling is still overdue for a decision on an appeal by Omidi, Mossayebzadeh and Fadaie against a sentence of 80 lashes each for drinking wine during a communion service.

The Christians were arrested May 13 during a series of raids by security service agents on Christian homes in Rasht.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was recently reelected largely due to his promises to improve civil and political rights in Iran, Ghaemi said. “Yet we’re seeing an increasing number of arrests of religious minorities, as well as activists, by the Intelligence Ministry, which is supposed to operate under him. … Rouhani must use all his authority to reign in the ministry and ensure it stops its trampling of citizens’ rights.”

The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has also criticized the government of Iran for persecuting converts.

“We are deeply disappointed by these excessive sentences, which are based on spurious charges and are clearly part of an intensified campaign of judicial harassment aimed at intimidating members of minority faiths,” CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.

Thomas added: “We reiterate that the national security charges leveled in all of these cases amount to the criminalization of the Christian community for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, and that this is occurring despite the fact that the Iranian constitution recognizes Christianity. We urge members of the international community to extend the sanctions still in place against Iranian individuals to include members of the judiciary who are implicated in ongoing and severe harassment and persecution of religious minority communities.”

Christians face severe persecution in the Shia Muslim country, including regular crackdowns and jail sentences due to their faith.

House churches are not permitted, and Christian converts are beaten and arrested for gathering to worship.

- christian post

ISIS bride who fled the UK for Raqqa must not be allowed to come back home, Britons demand

July 21, 2017 by admin  
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U.K., July 20, 2017: U.K. residents are signing onto a petition opposing the re-entry of Sally Jones, a former British punk rocker who left England in 2013 to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria.

Jones, who once said she wanted to behead Christians, now reportedly “wants to come back.”

“Sally Jones, formally of Chatham Kent, wants to return to Britain after joining ISIS,” states the petition on Change.org, which has been signed by over 17,000 people as of Thursday afternoon.

“This is pure madness to even consider this. We must stop her and all other jihadis that wish to threaten our society by returning after fighting and training. Remove citizenship and passports,” the petition adds.

Jones, 48, married an IS jihadi in Raqqa, Syria, and became the leading female recruitment officer for the terror group, Huff Post reported on Wednesday.

Her husband was killed in 2015 by a drone strike while traveling in a vehicle.

As The Christian Post reported back in 2014, the Muslim convert has threatened followers of Christ on Twitter.

“You Christians all need beheading with a nice blunt knife and stuck on the railings at raqqa … Come here I’ll do it for you!” Jones said in one message.

As a recruitment officer, Jones also made repeated terror threats against the U.K., U.S., and Europe, and has urged IS supporters to carry out attacks.

The wife of another immigrant to IS told Sky News earlier this month that Jones wants to return home to the U.K.

The woman, named Aisha, who is under guard at a refugee camp in Syria, said, “She was crying and wants to get back to Britain but ISIS is preventing her because she is now a military wife. She told me she wish to go to her country.”

Sky News also noted that Jones’ son, who the radicalized woman took with her to Raqqa and is now about 12 years old, is believed to have been forced to execute prisoners.

A report from The Times following the Sky News article contradicted Aisha’s claims, however, with a source identified as a friend of Jones in Raqqa insisting that the radicalized British woman will stay with IS “until she dies,” adding that “she doesn’t want to go anywhere.”

“I am full of admiration for her. Muslims from the outside are not like us,” the source said.

“A convert will catch Islam tightly and not let it go. Because she is a Muslim she will come here and never leave.”

The Sun reported that Jones is a former guitarist in an all-girl punk band and has an adult son who remained in the U.K.

Jones is suspected of being involved in several terror plots, including a failed plan to attack Queen Elizabeth II in London in 2015.

She also reportedly published more then 1,300 names of U.S. personnel that her deceased jihadi husband had hacked.

- christian post

Not enough being done to halt persecution of Christians: Marmur

July 20, 2017 by admin  
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Middle East, July 17, 2017: “Neither the horror of what Christians go through at the hands of Islamists and others, nor the scale of the crisis of Christian populations in the Middle East especially, appears to be widely known, let alone the subject of public concern.” So wrote Peter D. Williams, the Catholic social and political commentator in the online journal Spiked.

His article was published at the end of last May, days after 28 Coptic Christians were killed and many more wounded on their way to a monastery in Egypt. The same week, Williams reported, there were also two attacks on Christians in the Philippines.

His conclusion is that “it’s hard not to suspect that the reason why the persecution of Christians is not being reported widely across the globe is not merely due to over-familiarity, but because of active disinterest.” He suggests that “more could and would be done if the Western media gave Christians subjected to the cruellest and filthiest forms of tortuous hate the attention and concern their situation truly deserves.”

As a result, according to Prof. Jonathan Adelman of the University of Denver writing in The World Post, the Christian population in the Middle East has dropped from 20 per cent in 1900 to 4 per cent today. It’s likely to drop another per cent by 2050.

The only exception is the Jewish State of Israel where, according to Adelman, “the 160,000 Israeli Christians live as citizens in a democratic First World country with freedom of religion, rule of law and open elections.” They can move anywhere, their holy places are secure and their churches own much land in Jerusalem.

Adelman isn’t blind to problems that the Christian minority is facing also in Israel, mostly by the hands of bureaucrats and some Jewish fanatics. Yet, he insists, “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where the Christians are growing in number. They are excelling in education, doing well in business and feeling relatively safe from their radical tormentors.”

Jews have known for much of their history the lethal power of religious prejudice, much of it manifest as Christian anti-Semitism. It’s therefore gratifying to know that, despite the past, Jews are now providing a safe haven for Christians.

But Israel isn’t in a position to solve the global problem. Collectively, however, the Western world — where most Christians reside and many still greatly influence public discourse and policy — could and should do very much more than they seem to be doing.

- the star

State and Pentecostal bishop collude in persecution of white Christians

July 19, 2017 by admin  
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Zimbabwe, July 13, 2017: The Smart family have farmed in Zimbabwe for generations. But now they have been driven from their land and forced into poverty by the state and a corrupt churchman.

The family lost more than 90% of their farmland in the year 2000, when Mugabe’s government “redistributed” two million hectares supposedly to redress the historical imbalance of land ownership between blacks and whites; the Smarts went from working a large-scale farm of 8,000 hectares to cultivating 700 hectares, only 120 of which were fertile enough to grow crops. Then a local Pentecostal Bishop, a former President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, announced he was commandeering 100 of their remaining hectares.

Bishop Manhanga sent his workers onto the Smart’s land and, when some of the Smart family’s employees confronted them, 71-year-old Rob Smart and his son Darryn were arrested; they were made to spend the night sleeping on a concrete prison floor. On 31 May 2017 the Smarts were served an eviction notice and armed police in riot gear expelled them from their homes. The whole Smart family, including Darryn and his young children, fled to the hills as gunshots echoed behind them. They can now no longer access their land, as the roads have been blocked with logs and their farm is guarded by armed men. The Smarts managed to rescue two horses, but all of their one hundred chickens have starved to death.

For years, Zimbabwe’s dictator has oppressed the white farming community, but in the Smart’s case, the state was aided and abetted in its programme of persecution by a supposed man of God.

Barnabas Fund is supporting poor white farmers and pensioners in Zimbabwe – as well as ex-servicemen – through feeding programmes. These provide regular meals to Christians who have been abandoned to starvation by their own government.

- barnabas persecution update

Christians barred from seeking Asylum after leaving refugee camp amid harassment by Muslim migrants

July 18, 2017 by admin  
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Greece, July 18, 2017: A Christian charity is pressuring the Greek government to change a policy that is preventing homeless Christian refugees who fled persecution, bullying and threats inside the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos from being able to apply for asylum with the United Nations.

The London-based British Pakistani Christian Association recently wrote to the U.N. and Greek authorities on behalf of Pakistani Christian refugees who fled from the U.N.’s Moria camp and Lesbos island due to the level of persecution they experienced at the hands of Muslims inside the camp.

BPCA President Wilson Chowdhry told The Christian Post Monday that he has been told Greek authorities have put in place a “geographical restriction” that is effectively blocking asylum seekers who escaped persecution at one of the refugee camps on the Greek islands from being able to apply for asylum with the U.N.’s refugee agency UNHCR without having to return to the very camp they were persecuted in.

Chowdhry explained that the only exception to that rule is if an asylum seeker has a severe health condition that qualifies as a mitigating factor to allow his or her asylum application to be assessed on the Greek mainland. Chowdhry said the policy is designed to make it easier to track asylum-seeking refugees.

Chowdhry called on Greece’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dimitris Caramitsos for help in seeking a change to the policy.

“I would like to bring to your attention several reports of persecution that have been raised with the British Pakistani Christian Association, relating to persecution of Christians within the Muslim-majority … Moria Camp,” Chowdhry wrote in an email to Caramitsos last Friday. “Christians are being prevented from holding church services, worshiping and praying by their Muslim neighbors. Moreover, reports of tents being burned down, violence, bullying, harassment and severe threats paint a very bleak picture of the quality of life for Christians caught up within the camp.”

“The majority of Christian refugees escape but are being refused asylum by Greek authorities who only consider adverse health as a mitigating factor and not Christian persecution,” Chowdhry’s email continued. “We are seeking your help in obtaining a change in the current Greek policy in which the risk of proven re-persecution of Christians counts as a mitigating factor for asylum assessment for escapees of Moria Camp.”

Caramitsos has not yet respond to Chowdhry’s email.

One of the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers suffering from the policy is Haroon Maqbool, who is father of two from Rawal Pindi, Pakistan.

Maqbool fled Pakistan, which ranks as the fourth-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution according to Open Doors USA, in 2015 after being imprisoned and tortured.

In August 2016, Maqbool arrived in Lesbos on a boat with other asylum seekers and the group was taken to Moria camp to register for asylum.

According to the BPCA: “Muslim’s pushed the Christians to the back of the queue and told them not to enter the camp or they would be killed.”

BPCA reports that Maqbool and the other Christian men in the group “realized they would not survive long in the camp.” Even though they submitted their fingerprints at the camp, the group did not complete their asylum applications before they escaped the camp and the island.

“Haroon become bullied straight away and all the Christians left the camp … and escaped by ship rather than be harrassed and bullied everyday,” Chowdhry told CP in a phone call.

Even though it’s been nine months since Maqbool fled the camp, the policy has prevented him from completing the U.N. asylum application on the Greek mainland, where he now lives as an illegal immigrant at risk of being arrested for overstaying his visa.

“In Haroon’s case, you have a clear case of how the system is not working,” Chowdhry asserted.

BPCA is helping aid as many as seven Pakistani Christian asylum seekers who were found homeless on the Greek mainland by another charity and are accepting online donations that will provide much-needed aid to homeless Christian refugees in Greece like Maqbool.

“The victims had no recognised status as they had fled Moria Camp due to persecution and bullying. The camps are severely under-policed and Christians were being told they were not allowed to hold worship services or pray to God,” Chowdhry told CP. “Moreover through threats, intimidation and bullying attempts were being made to forcibly convert these Christians who had fled their homelands to be free of such oppression.”

“To date many still have not been registered for asylum as they refuse to return back to Moria camp on Lesbos island, where they first entered Greece,” he added.

Chowdhry asserted that it’s not just Moria camp where Christians are being persecuted, adding that many Christians flee from refugee camps on the Greek mainland also. He noticed during a visit to a refugee camp on the Greek mainland earlier this year that there was very little policing inside the camp.

In addition to the persecution, refugees face dire and inadequate conditions inside the camps that force them to live in squalor.

“Many just choose to be homeless rather than return back and stay at those camps,” Chowdhry said. “Those camps are extremely terrifying.”

Chowdhry has been informed that UNHCR is compiling a list of cases like Maqbool’s where asylum seekers are too frightened to return to island refugee camps to complete their asylum applications.

“We hope that that report will help redefine accepted mitigating factors for registration for escapees from asylum camps on the basis of religious persecution,” Chowdhry said. “In the meanwhile, we have written to the Greek Ambassador to the U.K. and have asked him to intervene on behalf of Haroon Maqbool and other Pakistani Christians.”

- christian post

Churches in Egypt shut down summer activities amid heightened attacks against Christians

July 17, 2017 by admin  
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Egypt, July 16, 2017: Acting on the advice of Egypt’s security services, the country’s churches have cancelled conferences, tours and other events scheduled for this month amid threats of more attacks on the minority community.

“These measures have come after our community has experienced brutal attacks against innocent women, men and children across Egypt, and we pray will help to safeguard against future atrocities,” Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said, noting that he has spoken to colleagues in Cairo and learned that “the current campaign of terror against Christians is escalating rapidly.”

He added, “This unfortunate step comes at a time when children, young people and families will be deprived of the conferences and trips that they so look forward to over the summer period and have grown accustomed to over decades. Saying that however, it is of course more important, while recognising their huge disappointment, to do our best to ensure their safety.”

At least 117 Coptic Orthodox Christians have been murdered across the country since December, according to the Coptic Orthodox Church in Europe.

“This campaign began with the bombing of St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo in December 2016, and followed by Palm Sunday church bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, an attack on pilgrims visiting a monastery in Minya, and targeted attacks on individuals across Egypt,” Bishop Angaelos notes.

Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 Christians.

Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, claimed responsibility for those attacks. IS also signaled while claiming responsibility that more attacks were coming: “The Crusaders and their apostate followers must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large, and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God is willing.”

Among the 29 killed in the Minya attack on May 26 were also children, including a 2-year-old girl.

The Christians were traveling in two buses and a small truck in Minya, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority, when they were attacked. Masked gunmen stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire.

One of the survivors of the massacre said that IS extremists forced the women off the bus and ordered them to renounce their faith in Christ, but the Copts refused.

Sinai Province, the name of the local affiliate of IS in Egypt, is seeking to impose a hardline interpretation of Islam in the country.

The killing of Christians and efforts to instill terror in everyday life are part of the extremists’ mission to unravel the entire country, according to experts.

Mokhtar Awad, a research fellow in the program on extremism at George Washington University, told Reuters that IS wants to tear “at the fabric of society.”

“A confluence of factors has seen this escalation happen now,” Awad said. “They hope that this is the first step to basically unravel the country.”

“The developments reflect how Islamic State is expanding operations in the Arab world’s most populous country as the extremist group faces setbacks in Syria, Iraq and Libya, say analysts,” according to a Reuters report. “While the group has failed to capture territory in Egypt, it is trying to stoke sectarian tensions and social unrest. An examination of what’s happening in North Sinai, a region rarely accessible by reporters, shows the strategy is scoring some success.”

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million.

- christian post

Mosul needs help to rebuild, Iraqi official cautions

July 16, 2017 by admin  
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Iraq, July 14, 2017: Just days after Iraqi forces completed their recapture of Mosul from the Islamic State, the nation’s ambassador to the Holy See has said that they are eager to rebuild the city and have people return home, but it will require help to do so.

“We reiterate our need for greater cooperation and greater help for the reconstruction and stability of the freed areas, including Mosul, because there is no complete victory until the displaced are returned to their homes and guaranteed essential services,” Omer Ahmed Karim Berzinji said July 13.

“The most important challenge now is the effort for the reconstruction and the stability of the city through the construction of infrastructures in order for the displaced to return. We have need of international support to bring back stability and to prevent the return of the terrorists.”

Berzinji spoke to journalists at a press conference in Rome July 13.

The presser was held in response to the July 9 declaration that Mosul had been recaptured. The government operation to free Mosul, one of the Islamic State’s remaining key strongholds, had been underway for nine months. The group still controls areas around the Iraqi cities of Tal Afar, Hawija, and Al-Qa’im, as well as portions of Syria.

During this time, thousands were killed and nearly 1 million residents fled the city, the major part of it destroyed.

Fr. Ghazwan Baho, a parish priest in Alqosh – the last major Christian city on the Plain of Nineveh not taken by the Islamic State – told CNA they are thankful Mosul has been freed, but the future of the city is still uncertain.

“We thank God that the evil was overcome, but Mosul is a city almost 80 percent destroyed. The future is dark. There isn’t much hope of reconstruction.”

“It’s not enough to win the war, but we need to rebuild,” he said. “We are afraid of the future, of revenge; our area is a land of conflict. Let’s hope for the best.”

The Islamic State had controlled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, since June 2014. It has imposed a rigid version of sharia in territory it controls, but its rule also features arbitrary violence, including killing and enslavement.

A 2016 U.N. report said that 800 to 900 children in Mosul have been abducted and put through Islamic State religious and military training. There have been accounts of child soldiers who were killed for fleeing fighting on the front lines of Iraq’s Anbar province.

The U.N. also estimates that as of Jan. 2016 the group held about 3,500 slaves, mainly women and children of the Yazidi religion. Some of the women are killed for trying to escape or for refusing sexual relations with Islamic State fighters.

The Iraq ambassador couldn’t give specifics on the government’s plan for how to free the women, but told CNA that it will certainly be one of their top objectives. Regarding the Islamic State, he said he considers the victory in Mosul the “beginning of their end.”

“I am very enthusiastic to take all of that (remaining) occupied territory,” he continued.

Another result of the battle, he told journalists, has been the unification of the various “factions” of the Iraqi army who “joined together for the liberation of Mosul.”

The ambassador emphasized that Iraqis worldwide are celebrating the victory, saying that “the first thing after the liberation of Mosul, the most important thing, was that all Iraqis were united.”

Berzinji also noted the help from outside forces, saying “friends and allies have played a distinct role in supporting the efforts of the Iraqi government in this battle through the intervention of the international coalition or outside it.”

“That is why victory in Mosul is a victory for all those who have helped and have collaborated with us in the fight against this criminal organization.”

- cna

Four Christians were sentenced to forty years prison terms in Iran

July 14, 2017 by admin  
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Iran, July 6, 2017: The Islamic Revolution court sentenced three Azerbaijani Christian citizens and an Iranian converted Christian to forty years prison terms altogether.

Report received by “Mohabat News” indicate that the Islamic Revolution court in Tehran, has sentenced each of these Christians to ten year prison terms, totaling forty years altogether.

These individuals are:

1: Naser Navard Goltapeh, aged 46, a new converted Christian in Iran

2: Bahram Nasibov Alkan Oglu, aged 38, married, from Baku, Azerbaijan

3: Yusif Farhadov Talt Oglu, aged 53, married, from Baku, Azerbaijan

4: Eldar Gurbanov, aged 49, married, from Baku, Azerbaijan

According to this report, these prison terms were announced on 22nd of June 2017 by Judge Ahmadzadeh, in 26th branch of Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran with the knowledge of their lawyers. These four Christians were accused and charged, subsequent to a raid, and sentenced to a maximum of 10 year prison terms for each of the defendants based on the section 498 of Islamic Republic’s Penal code. They were accused of violating the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the destruction of the government’s limitations on religious activities by promoting Christianity and association with a foreign organization, “Word of Life” church, and promoting Zionist Christianity. Bahram Nasibov, Yusif Farhadov, and Eldar Gurbanov are three Azerbaijani Christians who are also the members of “Word of Life” church in Baku. These three believers are out of Iran presently and their sentences were announced in absentia. Their lawyers were nevertheless informed of the verdicts.

These three Christian tourists had come to Tehran on June 24, 2016 to visit one of their peers, but were arrested by the secret security agents of Sepah Information Organization along with a several other converted Christians, at the home of one of the Christian participants in the Andisheh township of Karaj.

These three Christians from Baku, along with “Naser Navard Goltapeh”, the converted Iranian Christian in Iran and the other member accused in this raid, were temporarily released with heavy bail postings from Evin prison in Tehran on November 7, 2017, having spent more than 4 months in detention and after signing a promissory covenant. After their temporary release and exiting the country, these three individuals spoke of the incident and their arrest with CBN Christian News agency in a TV show. Bahram Nasibov said that more than 30 security agents came to arrest them on that day and they immediately transferred them to Evin Prison.

He added: “although l had been arrested by Azerbaijan security agents many times in the past for my Christian beliefs, this one was much more difficult.” He sees this incident as a very harsh one. Later, Eldar Gurbanov followed by stating: “the judge in Evin Prison had told us that we might be in prison for 10 years.”

Once these people were arrested in Iran and after their transfer to Evin Prison, the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) and the Protestant news agency (IDEA), wrote letters to the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, calling for the release of these believers.

Although the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic was aware that these three Azerbaijani believers had posted heavy bails and had left the country and they would definitely never come back, nonetheless the 10 years prison term for Naser Golnavard was upheld- a very high price for his family and the Christian society in Iran.

Mansour Borji, the spokesperson for 18 CLAUSE Organization that is active for the rights of Christians in Iran said in his interview with Mohabat News: “the accusations directed toward these believers lacked any legal basis and the punishments prescribed for them was an obvious violation of religious freedoms.”

The religious government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned the entrance of any Persian speaking citizens into any “Official Church buildings” since 2012. That is why converts are left with no other options than gathering in non-official churches like “house churches”.

According to the government and security officials, these gatherings are illegal and they periodically raided by the security agents. The officials and leaders of such “House Churches” often face charges like “actions against national the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hosting House Churches.”

- mohabat news

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