J & K Holy Family Church Priest’s motorcycle burnt in day light *Angry Brides: online game to fight dowry murders

January 30, 2012 by  
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Holy Family ChurchJammu and Kashmir, January 29, 2012: On 28th January, around 2.30 p.m some unidentified miscreants, suspected to be fundamentalists, entered The Holy Family Catholic Church campus and burnt the motorcycle of the Parish Priest, which was parked in the veranda of priest’ house.

The GCIC has condemned the attack as one perpetrated by fundamentalists. The Church located at Kashmir, near Srinagar has just about a hundred odd Christians left behind, even though it was started in 1893  and is still running.

– persecution

“Angry Brides “: an online game to fight dowry murders

 

BangladeshBangladesh, (Dhaka) January 28, 2012: An Indian marriage agency launches “Angry Brides”, where a woman throws things at future husbands seeking exaggerated dowry. In Bangladesh at least 325 women were tortured and killed by their husbands or their families in 2011. In India more than 8 thousand cases in 2010.At least 325 women were tortured and killed for dowry-related reasons, in 2011. This is confirmed by a joint investigation of Ain-O-Salish Kendro (Ask), Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Odhikar. The three NGOs, however, specify that these are only partial data, taking into account the many cases not reported or passed off as suicide. Brides are beaten and burned alive by their husbands (or their relatives), dissatisfied with a dowry that is too little or non-existent. Alternatively, strangled, then tied with a rope and hanged on a pole to simulate a suicide (see 05/04/2011, “When wives are set on fire for their dowry”). A practice prohibited by law, but rooted in Bangladeshi culture and growing: according to the survey, 198 in 2011 were certain data.Dowry murders are widespread in other South Asian countries. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, in 2010 the country had 8,391 cases of dowry deaths and at least 90 thousand cases of torture and abuse by husbands and their families. To raise awareness in the fight against this practice, the marriage agency Shaadi.com launched Facebook Angry Brides, an online game modeled after Google’s more famous Angry Birds.In the game, three potential husbands – a doctor, a police officer and an engineer – approach a woman, each demanding a very high dowry. The bride has eight arms against the three men and throw various objects (shoes with heels, a pan, a broom, pots and vegetables).In Bangladesh, the current dowry system, which is the practice whereby the bride’s family must give a sum to her future husband, dates to about fifty years ago. Before the dowry there was the “bride price”: according to Islamic family law, the groom had to give a sum to the woman to get married. A recent change, the cause seems to be linked to a numerical imbalance between men and women in Bengali society: in 1950 women were 10% more, even 43% more in 1975. (NI)- asianews

Mumbai Canossian Inter-Faith meet on Republic Day

January 28, 2012 by  
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Mumbai, January 26, 2012: The Canossian Sisters of Mumbai Region organised on Republic Day a grand celebration with the coming together of People of All Faiths, comprising parents and students of all their institutions across the city and also neighbouring Vasai diocese. The inter-faith programme was organised with the assistance of Fr. SM Michael and Fr. Aniceto Pereira, who was the moderator and crystalised very effectively the essence of the unity in diversity, as brought out by the speakers. Joseph Dias, the general secretary of The CSF represented the Christian viewpoint, which was much appreciated by the speakers of all other religions.
 
The work of Sr. Rose D’souza and her band of sisters – Monica, Fatima, Priscilla, Elma, Vailankanni, Connie, Philo Joseph, Dolly, Philo George, Meena, etc – was much appreciated by the Provincial Superior, Maggie Mathew and the guests, who were assembled. The Canossa primary students had a prayer dance, which was followed by the lighting of the lamp, by way of inauguration. The youth of Manickpur out up a skit on the state of the nation, with it scams, corruption, et al.

Republic Day

The theme of the inter-faith meet being “Peace, Harmony & Brotherhood”, Joseph Dias quoted the following scriptures:
 
* Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:14

* Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9

* “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. – Luke 6:27

* And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:18
 
* Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:11

* If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

* Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:14

* Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11
 
* Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than this. – Matthew 22:37-39

* But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. – Luke 6:35
 
* Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
 
Joseph Dias concluded with –
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . .And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – excerpts from – 1 Corinthians 13:4-13
 
The CSF general secretary pointed out that The Second Vatican Council states that salvation includes others who acknowledge the same creator and the repeated Holy Fathers encouraged inter-faith dialogue, especially begining with the 1986 Peace Prayer in Assisi called Pope John Paul II, which the current Pope Benedict XVI has more vigorously followed up with representatives of all world religions. He drew the attention of the audience to The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which had as it objectives the following:  to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of others religious traditions; to encourage the study of religions; to promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue.

The meeting ended with a resolution and pledge taken by the house to fight communalism and protect the unity, integrity and independence of India. A dance by the Snehasadan girls and singing the national anthem concluded the session, with plants being given to the guests, who were happy with the eco-friendly token gesture.

– canossian sisters

Report on religious freedom violation submitted to European Union

January 28, 2012 by  
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OrissaNew Delhi, January 26, 2012: A delegation of Christians and human rights activists has submitted a report on violations of minority rights and religious freedom in India to the European Union.

The report entitled “Freedom of Religion in India: Joint Stakeholders Report for the Universal Periodic Review 2012″ was submitted yesterday during a meeting between the Indian delegation and the Delegation of the European Union in India in Delhi.

Every four years the human rights situation of a country is assessed by the United Nation’s human right’s council.

The report focuses on the state of religious freedom of the minorities especially of Christians and Muslims, said S Prasad, member, National Dalit Human Rights Campaign.

He said that despite being a secular country, very often “non-state actors in connivance with the state machinery snatch minority rights.”

In many states like Karnataka and Orissa, Christians are not allowed to freely practice their faith by Hindu fundamentalists.

“The report is the outcome of three national consultations held in New Delhi, Bangalore and Bhubaneswar”, said Dhirendra Panda, human right activist from Orissa and coordinator of National Solidarity Forum that coordinated the report.

John Dayal, All India Christian Council general secretary, said the Targeted Violence (Prevention, Control and Reparations) Bill 2011 should be brought into Parliament to safeguard the minorities from the fundamentalist attacks.”

He said the anti-conversion laws that take away the freedom of faith in contradiction to the fundamental right of a citizen should be repealed.

Phillip Oliver Gross, First Secretary, Political Affairs EU said, “We are quite keen to see that human rights are protected and freedom of faith respected and would draw the attention of our members towards the issue during the UPR process”.

Besides Dayal, Panda and Prasad, Fr. Charles Irudayam, Secretary, Office of Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India and Fr. Ajaya Kumar Singh, Orissa Forum for Social Action were the members of the delegation.

The report was prepared by six international NGOs, including Pax Romana (International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and International Movement of Catholic Students), World Council of Churches and Dominicans for Justice and Peace (Order of Preachers), Geneva and 87 civil society groups in India.

– ajay kumar singh, ucan

Story of two horses

January 28, 2012 by  
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Two horses……Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.

Horese A

Two Horses
Author Unknown

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.
From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse.
But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice

something quite amazing….

This alone is amazing. If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Horese
Attached to the horse’s halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is,

trusting that he will not be led astray.
Horese
When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back,
Making sure that the blind friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.

Horese
Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell,

Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way….

Horese

Good friends are like that… You may not always see them,
but you know they are always there..

Please listen for my bell and I’ll listen for yours, and remember…

Be kinder than necessary-
Everyone you meet is fighting
Some kind of battle.
Horese
Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly…….

FOR WE WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT

 

fwd: a n dass

Horese B

Opposition mounts to growing use of sharia law in Britain

January 28, 2012 by  
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Opposition mounts to growing use of sharia law in BritainEgypt, January 25, 2012: Opposition is mounting to the growing use of Islamic law to settle civil disputes in Britain as a Muslim campaigner backs a bill that aims to stop sharia councils from falsely claiming legal status England and Wales.

A report by the BBC’s Asian network last week highlighted the increasing use of sharia by thousands of Muslims to settle disputes each year. An estimated 85 sharia councils now operate in Britain, and several bodies, such as the Islamic Sharia Council, have reported a large increase in their case-load.

Sheikh al-Haddad said:

Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years. On average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that. Muslims are becoming more aligned with their faith and more aware of what we are offering them.

As demand for the use of sharia law increases, opposition to it is also growing. Campaigners are concerned that women are being denied justice in sharia courts. Under Islamic law, a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man’s, she receives only half the compensation a man would for the same injury, she can inherit only half what her brothers would, and it is far more difficult for her to divorce her husband than for him to divorce her. Non-Muslims are also discriminated against under Islamic law.

The Christian and humanitarian campaigner Baroness Cox introduced a bill to the House of Lords last year that seeks to create a new offence – punishable by up to five years in prison – of falsely claiming legal jurisdiction over criminal or family law.

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, which has the backing of the National Secular Society and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, last week also gained the support of Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. She is concerned that Muslim women are not aware of alternatives to sharia law.

Ms Kazi said:

They don’t have any legal power and are completely informal so very hard to regulate… We want to educate women so they know what their rights are.

Another advocate for Muslim women’s rights is also backing the bill. Cassandra Balchin, co-founder and chair of the Muslim Women’s Network-UK, said that the bill, if made law, would probably increase pressure on sharia councils to make clear to their clients before they initiate mediation that their decisions have no legal weight.

The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation is campaigning for sharia councils to be completely banned.

PARALLEL LAW

Sharia councils have been operating in Britain since 1982, effectively creating a parallel legal system by which Muslims can resolve disputes. They deal with family, financial and commercial matters in accordance with sharia principles; 95 per cent of their cases relate to divorce.

Although they have no legal powers and cannot impose their rulings, in practice they function as courts and carry the same authority within the Muslim community as a legally binding process of arbitration. And in 2008 the British government acknowledged that it had for some time accepted the role of sharia tribunals in arbitration, in certain limited fields.

Opponents are concerned that the acceptance of certain aspects of Islamic civil law in Britain could be the start of a slippery slope into full-blown sharia. In a report, Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights, published in June 2010, human rights campaign group One Law For All argued:

Despite all efforts to package Sharia’s civil code as mundane, its imposition represents a concerted attempt by Islamists to gain further influence in Britain. By undermining British legal principles of equality before the law, the universal concept of one law for all and the protection of the rights of women and children, these courts help to increase discrimination, intimidation and threats against the most vulnerable. They also deny people their rights and leave countless human beings at the mercy of Islamists. 1

– barnabas team

Nag Hammadi: Muslim bandits kill two Copts. Christians live in fear of being kidnapped

January 28, 2012 by  
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Copti UccisiCairo, January 27, 2012: Father and son were shot dead in front of their house because they refused to submit to extortion. Bishop Kyrollos: “I believe that the police, and Muslims, are fully responsible for the situation of terror in which Bahgourah Copts live.”

Two Copts, father and son, were killed yesterday in Bahgourah, a suburb of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, shot dead by a Muslim bandit, and his accomplices because they refused to pay the money demanded by the racket. Four days ago the head of the gang, Ahmed Saber, asked Moawad Asaad, a Coptic contractor for a large sum of money to enable him to continue working.

Yesterday afternoon Ahmed Saber went to Asaad’s home to demand the money, the Copt refused to get into Saber’s car to speak, for fear of being kidnapped. At that point, four men came out of the car armed with machine guns and opened fire on Moawad and his son Asaad Mowad an engineer. Both were killed instantly. Their deaths have sparked the protest of thousands of Christian Copts outside the government building at Nag Hammadi, demanding protection for the Coptic community, the victim of racketeering and violence by Muslims. A sit-in is taking place in front of police headquarters, attended by four thousand people who have vowed to continue the protest until Ahmed Saber and his accomplices are arrested.

The Bishop of Nag Hammadi, Kyrollos, said since last year Ahmed Saber, well known to the police, has extorted money from members of the Coptic community, and kidnapped the children of Christians to get the ransom money. “Police have received numerous complaints about these crimes. I do not understand why they have not arrested them. I think that the police, and Muslims, are fully responsible for the situation of terror in which the Copts of Bahgourah live. ” The bishop called the authorities in Cairo, and the Interior Ministry demanding that protection be provided to the Copts living in the Nag Hammadi, “who are constantly subject to kidnappings and terror.”

– asianews

BJP manifesto opposes minority quota; promises Ram temple

January 28, 2012 by  
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Promises Ram templeNew Delhi, January 27, 2012: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its manifesto for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls Friday said it was against the announced 4.5 percent reservation for minorities within the backward castes quota and also revived its promise to build a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya.

In its manifesto, released Friday, the BJP also highlighted good governance, removing corruption and remodelling of the many memorials erected by the present Bahujan Samaj Party government as its main poll promises.

The manifesto, released by party leaders including Uma Bharti, Surya Pratap Shahi, Kalraj Mishra, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Narendra Singh Tomar and Sudheendra Kulkarni, also mentioned the construction of a “Ram temple” on the disputed site in Ayodhya as one of the main poll planks.

Asked about it, Shahi said the party was committed to building a Ram temple.

“Construction of a grand temple is associated with the faith of crores of people of the country. Ram is the symbol of prestige, pride and dignity of the country. Unfortunately due to pseudo-secularism and vote bank politics it is being opposed. BJP is committed to removing all hurdles in the path of construction of Ram temple,” he said.

The main highlight of the manifesto remained the party’s opposition to minority reservation within OBC quota.

It went a step ahead and proposed a special committee to identify the economically weaker sections among the forward castes.

“The UPA government decision is motivated by vote bank politics and when BJP comes to power, 4.5 percent reservation for minorities would be scrapped and 27 percent quota of the OBCs will be restored,” leader of BJP legislative party Om Prakash Singh said.

The manifesto also said BJP would restructure the memorials built by the Mayawati government.

The manifesto said the party would erect statues of other eminent historical figures in these parks.

It also targeted the BSP, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress, for making the state backward.

The manifesto promises one crore jobs in five years, 10 percent allocation for education in budget, four AIIMS-like hospitals, Rs.200 old age pension, and a separate ministry for backward castes.

Luring the sugarcane farmers, it has offered Rs.300 per quintal for sugarcane.

– ians

Catholic bishops of Sri Lanka against pro-abortion law

January 28, 2012 by  
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UntitledSri Lanka, January 27, 2012: The Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (Cbcsl) is “firmly” opposed to the proposed abortion law. “The human race – the statement of the Catholic bishops – is not safe if the child is not protected in the womb.” The government emphasizes that the bill will only cover “unjustifiable pregnancy “, but promised to consider “alternatives” offered by religious groups opposed to abortion.

However, the Cbcsl declares: “We categorically reject any attempt to legalize abortion, a synonym for murder. Therefore, we ask the government not to proceed with this law, since murder, in all its forms, is an abominable crime. ”

“The Bible – the bishops continued – teaches that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27). The Church has always affirmed that God is the author of life, the supreme and sacred gift He has given us. Our biggest obligation is to protect human life from conception to natural death. ”

Responding to criticism of the Church, Tissa Karaliyadda, Minister for Development of the child and the woman, said the bill is for “those girls and women victims of unwanted pregnancies, the result of the violence of men.”

“Blessed John Paul II – the Cbcsl has stressed – teaches that the Church should be at the service of life, in the midst of a culture of death of our days.”

Although abortion is illegal in the country in recent years the Sri Lanka Family Health Bureau (a body set up by the Ministry of Health, ed) recorded an increase of cases: in 2008 there were about 700 cases a day, 250 thousand for the year in 2011 rose by a thousand, for a total of 300 thousand abortions a year.

The same figures from the Ministry of Health – which appear purposely inflated- even speak of 500 abortions a day in Colombo, the capital of the state. The total population of the island is about 20 million.

Even the Buddhists (the majority of Sri Lankans) have sided against the proposal to legalize abortion.

– melani manel perera, asianews

The CSF: Don’t use religion lightly *Karnataka aicc leaders meet on persecution

January 27, 2012 by  
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HinduMaharashtra, January 27, 2012: The CSF protests American TV station calling Hindu deities as “weird”, saying one needs to respect all religions and not hurt sentiments of the followers of any. “Thankfully, the channel realised its folly and removed the remarks from the website. It is why we have been constantly urging very careful use of religion in common parlance, as it is a sensitive issue. Look at how the authorities are dealing with “Hosanna” which has been objectionably used” said Joseph Dias, general secretary, The CSF. If you have not as yet signed the online petition, please do so at Change Hosanna Petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-government-authorities-and-cbfc-get-the-word-hosanna-removed-from-the-song-2?share_id=DHNvCQMHRD

YouTube link to show how vulgar the song Hosanna has been made into: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SDb7FTuHIk

Chicago: An American television station in Chicago has offended the Hindu community after a sports commentary on its website used the term ‘weird’ to describe their deities. The commentary on an ice hockey match published on NBC Chicago website on Wednesday titled ‘Why a 3-1 Blackhawks Loss Isn’t So Bad’, detailing Nashville Predators beating Chicago Blackhawks 3-1, said Predators were ‘swallowing up space like some weird Hindu god’.

Nevada-based Hindu community leader Rajan Zed, in a statement on Thursday said about one billion Hindus worldwide worshipped their deities almost on a daily basis and labelling them as ‘weird’ was highly hurting their feelings. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, demanded immediate removal of inappropriate words from the website and publication of an apology. He stressed these deities were highly revered in Hinduism and inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt devotees. He said Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with a rich philosophical thought.

Karnataka aicc leaders meet to face persecution

 

Karnataka aicc leaders meet on persecutionKarnataka, January 23, 2012: Justice Michael F.Saldanha (Retd), the Chairman of Karnataka All India Christian Council (aicc) called for all Christians to join forces unitedly to fight communal forces in the state. He said he would stand by the community, in its efforts, especially that of the aicc and build the organisation up. “We have got to be serious about what is happening in Karnataka. I see the hand of God is working and like many others in the state, I feel Christians, minorities and secular civil society in Karnataka will not tolerate communalism, as it happened to Gujarat and Orissa. It is going to be possible through the power of God which is going to work through us”, he added. Justice Saldanha said he gave full marks to the dedicated aicc team, especially those led by Rev Kumar Swamy and Rev. Anand Kumar for their hard efforts and struggles. Some of the breakthroughs were clearly visible at some of the meetings organized by aicc for persecuted pastors and victims in Mangalore and Davangere.
 
BG Koshy, Vice Chairman of Karnataka aicc shared his thoughs on the subject of persecution, quoting scripture from the Bible and asking the gathering to stand united at all costs for attempts were being made to divide the community and we need to guard against it. He said we needed to stand firm, as we are aware, we are standing for the truth and the right cause. He called upon all present to treat each other like as children of God and let His light shine through each one of us. 
 Karnataka AICC Leaders
A panel of community leaders comprised of the two gentlemen, besides Sis Cynthia and Mr. Kasim Sab, a Muslim community representative associated closely with aicc also answered the many questions and guided the gathering. Rev. Kumar Swamy and Rev.Anand Kumar welcomed the office-bearers, members of the state executive and aicc activists, who had come from 10 districts of Karnataka, all at their own expense, showing their commitment to the cause. 
 
The fellowship, prayer and discussions will go a long way towards preparing the community to face the peculiarly challenging situation, Christians and minorities in Karnataka find themselves in. Justice Saldana also proposed to have district level meetings, where grass-root activists could bring forth their ideas on a common platform and make plans to face the local situation. He and BG Koshy said that as aicc, much needed to be done in Karnataka encouraged each to give his/her best, aim for the highest and then leave the rest in God’s hand, to achieve His purpose.
 
– rev. anand kumar

Two Catholic priests kidnapped in Sudan

January 27, 2012 by  
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KidnappingSudan, January 26, 2012: Islamic militias loyal to the Sudanese government have kidnapped two Catholic priests in Rabak, Christian sources said.

A large truck smashed through the gates of the St. Josephine Bakhita’s Catholic Church compound in Rabak, 260 kilometers (162 miles) south of Khartoum, on Jan. 15 at 10 p.m., and the assailants broke down the rectory door, the sources said. The Rev. Joseph Makwey and the Rev. Sylvester Mogga were kidnapped at gunpoint.

Four days later, on Jan. 19, the kidnappers forced the two priests to call their bishop with a ransom demand of 500,000 Sudanese pounds (US$185,530), 250,000 Sudanese pounds each.

Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok told Compass by phone that there was no direct communication between the bishop and the kidnappers, though the priests managed to convey that they were being mistreated.

“We are worried about the two priests,” he said. “They are not treating them well.”

The kidnappers have attempted no communication with church leaders since then, Adwok said. Neither Makwey, in his 40s, nor Mogga, in his mid-30s, are supporters of southern Sudan military forces in territorial conflict with Sudan over border areas, he added.

Eyewitnesses told Compass that they saw the assailants severely beating the priests while abducting them. The kidnappers also looted the priests’ living quarters, stealing two vehicles, two laptops and a safe.

The incident caused panic and terror among Christians in Rabak, with church leaders saying they fear for their lives as they become targets of the Islamic government and its allied militias.

Sudan has seen a steep increase in persecution against Christians, according to an annual ranking by Christian support organization Open Doors. Sudan – where northern Christians experienced greater vulnerability after southern Sudan seceded in a July referendum, and where Christians were targeted amid isolated military conflicts – jumped 19 places last year from its 2010 ranking, from 35th to 16th, according to Open Doors’ 2012 World Watch List.

Sudanese law prohibits missionaries from evangelizing, and converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by imprisonment or death in Sudan, though previously such laws were not strictly enforced. The government has never carried out a death sentence for apostasy, according to the U.S. State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report.

Christians are facing growing threats from both Muslim communities and Islamist government officials who have long wanted to rid Sudan of Christianity, Christian leaders told Compass. They said Christianity is now regarded as a foreign religion following the departure of 350,000 people, most of them Christians, to South Sudan following the July 9, 2011 secession.

Sudan’s Interim National Constitution holds up sharia (Islamic law) as a source of legislation, and the laws and policies of the government favor Islam, according to the state department report. Christian leaders said they fear the government is tightening controls on churches in Sudan and planning to force compliance with Islamic law as part of a strategy to eliminate Christianity.

As he has several times in the past year, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Jan. 3 once again warned that Sudan’s constitution will be more firmly entrenched in sharia.

“We are an Islamic nation with sharia as the basis of our constitution,” he told crowds in Kosti, south of Khartoum. “We will base our constitution on Islamic laws.”

His government subsequently issued a decree ordering church leaders to provide names and contact information of church leaders in Sudan, sources said. Christian leaders said the government is retaliating for churches’ perceived pro-West position.

Muslim scholars have urged heavy-handed measures against Christians to Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

– cdn

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