Muslim Persecution of Christians: January 2012

February 22, 2012 by  
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War on ChristiansThis write-up is being presented to indicate how a few radical “Islamists/Muslims”, as used in the article below, misuse the religion to create communal discord, while the community, as a whole, remains peace-loving and civil world citizens. The CSF condemns such demonising or profiling of Muslims and stands alongside with them, to safeguard their fundamental rights. The governments, religious leadership, human and minority rights activists and civil society, irrespective of any faith, must speak out against fundamentalism of any kind. The CSF does this, even if the extremism comes from Christians, in the interest of communal harmony; besides the unity, integrity and sovereignity of India – which comes first. Let us together build a world that is – free, equal, plural, secular and free of exploitation.
– Joseph Dias csfpost@gmail.com

World, February 12, 2012: The beginning of the New Year saw only an increase in the oppression of Christians under Islam, from Nigeria, where an all-out jihad has been declared in an effort to eradicate the Muslim north of all Christians, to Europe, where Muslim converts to Christianity are still hounded and attacked as apostates. According to the Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year”; in our life time alone, he predicts “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.”

An international report found that Muslim nations make up nine out of the top ten countries where Christians face the “most severe” persecution. In response to these findings, a Vatican spokesman said that “Among the most serious concerns, the increase in Islamic extremism merits special attention. Persons and organizations dedicated to extremist Islamic ideology perpetrate terrible acts of violence in many places throughout the world: the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria is but one example. Then there is the climate of insecurity that unfortunately in some countries accompanies the so-called “Arab spring”—a climate that drives many Christians to flee and even to emigrate.”

Categorized by theme, January’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity of anecdote.

Apostasy

Iran: A Christian convert who was arrested in her home has been sentenced to two years in prison. Previously she endured five months of uncertainty detained in the notorious Evin prison, where the government hoped she would come to her senses and renounce Christianity. She was convicted of “broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by formation of what is called a house church, insulting sacred figures and action against national security.” Likewise, Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani continues to suffer in prison. Most recently, he rejected an offer to be released if he publicly acknowledged Islam’s prophet Muhammad as “a messenger sent by God,” which would amount to rejecting Christianity, as Muhammad/Koran reject it.

Kenya: Muslim apostates seeking refuge in Kenya are being tracked and attacked by Muslims from their countries of origin: An Ethiopian who, upon converting to Christianity, was shot by his father, kidnapped and almost killed, is now receiving threatening text messages. Likewise, a Ugandan convert to Christianity is in hiding, his movements severely restricted since “the Muslims are looking to kill me. I need protection and help.”

Kuwait: A royal prince who openly declared that he has converted to Christianity, confirmed the reality that he now might be targeted for killing as an apostate.

Norway: While out for a walk, two Iranian converts to Christianity were stabbed with knives by masked men shouting “infidels!” One of the men stabbed had converted in Iran, was threatened there, and immigrated to Norway, thinking he could escape persecution there.

Somalia: A female convert to Christianity was paraded before a cheering crowd and publicly flogged as punishment for embracing a “foreign religion.” Imprisoned since November, “the public whipping was meant to mark her release.” She received 40 lashes as hundreds of Muslim spectators jeered. An eyewitness said: “I saw her faint. I thought she had died, but soon she regained consciousness and her family took her away.” Likewise, “Somali Islamists arrested a Muslim father after two of his children converted to Christianity” and fled. He is accused of “failing to raise his sons as good Muslims, because “good Muslims cannot convert to Christianity.”

Zanzibar: After being robbed, a Muslim convert to Christianity called police to his house; they discovered a Bible during their inspection. The course of inquiry immediately changed from searching for the thieves to asking why he “was practicing a forbidden faith.” He was imprisoned for eight months without trial, and, since being released, has been rejected by his family and is now homeless and diseased.

Church Attacks

Azerbaijan: A pastor has been threatened with criminal proceedings following a raid on his church during Sunday service. Earlier, he was told that “a criminal case had been launched over religious literature arousing incitement over other faiths,” and was pressured by authorities to leave the area, which he did, traveling great distances each week to lead church services.

Egypt: Before a bishop was going to inaugurate the incomplete Abu Makka church and celebrate the Epiphany mass, a large number of Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood members entered the building, asserting that the church had no license and so no one should pray in it. One Muslim remarked that the building would be suitable for a mosque and a hospital.

Indonesia: A sticker on the back of the car of a member of the beleaguered Yasmin church saying “We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam,” distributed by the family of the late Muslim president, prompted another Islamic attack on the church: scores of Muslims “terrorized the congregation and attacked several church members.” Since 2008, the congregation has been forced to hold Sunday services on the sidewalk outside the church and then later in the home of parishioners. Not satisfied, hundreds of Muslims later searched and found the private home where members were congregating and holding service and prevented them from worshiping there as well: “It crosses the line now. The protesters now come to the residential area, which is not a public place.” A new report notes that anti-Christian attacks have nearly doubled in the last year.

Nigeria: Soon after jihadis issued an ultimatum giving Christians three days to evacuate the region or die, armed Muslims stormed a church and “opened fire on worshippers as their eyes were closed in prayer,” killing six, including the pastor’s wife. Then, as friends and relatives gathered to mourn the deaths of those slain, “Allahu Akbar” screaming Muslims appeared and opened fire again, killing another 20 Christians. Several other churches were bombed, and seven more killed.

Pakistan: Enraged by the voices of children singing carols at a nearby church, Muslims praying in a mosque decided to silence them—including with an axe: “The children were preparing for mass to be celebrated the next day which was a Sunday. The loud cheers became terrified whimpers when suddenly four men, one of them with an axe, barged into the church. The men slapped the children, wrecked the furniture, smashed the microphone on to the floor and kicked the altar. “You are disturbing our prayers. We can’t pray properly. How dare you use the mike and speakers?” (Islam forbids Christians from celebrating loudly in church, banning bells, microphones, etc.) Also, a center owned by the Catholic church for 125 years, and used for “charitable purposes”—it housed a home for the elderly, a girls’ school, a convent and chapel for prayer—was demolished, after it was discovered that its land is worth much money; in the process, demolition workers destroyed Bibles, crosses, and a statue of Our Lady.

Zanzibar: Muslims destroyed two churches: one was torched, while the other demolished—all to yells of “Allahu Akbar.”

Dhimmitude

[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslim “Second-Class Citizens”]

Denmark: In Muslim majority Odense, an Iranian Christian family had two cars consecutively vandalized—windows smashed, seats cut up, and set ablaze—because the cars had crucifixes hanging in them; the family has since relocated to an undisclosed location. Likewise, “Church Ministry” will change its name to “Ministry of Philosophy of Life” to accommodate Muslims.

Egypt: In the latest round of collective punishment, a mob of over 3000 Muslims attacked Christians in a village because of a rumor that a Coptic man had intimate photos of a Muslim woman on his phone (denied by the man). Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze. Three were injured, while “terrorized” women and children who lost their homes stood in the streets with no place to go. As usual, it took the army an hour to drive 2 kilometers to the village and none of the perpetrators were arrested.

Nigeria: Boko Haram Muslims set ablaze a Christian missionary home. Occupants of the home, mostly orphans and the less-privileged, were rendered homeless as a result. Meanwhile, a top officer allowed the mastermind behind the Christmas Day church bombings to escape, evincing how well entrenched Islamists are in government.

Pakistan: A judge has denied bail to the latest Christian charged with desecrating the Koran, under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, despite the lack of evidence against him: according to Sharia, the word of a Christian is half that of his Muslim accuser (his landlord).

Saudi Arabia: Officials strip-searched 29 Christian women and assaulted six Christian men after arresting them for holding a prayer meeting at a private home. Imprisoned last month without trial, they have not been told when or if they will be released. Authorities conducted the strip searches of the women, who insisted they had committed no crime, in unsanitary conditions. As a result, some of the women have been injured and are suffering illnesses, but authorities have provided no medical treatment.

Sudan: Authorities threatened to arrest church leaders if they engage in “evangelistic activities” and fail to comply with an order for churches to provide names and identifications: “The order was aimed at oppressing Christians amid growing hostilities toward Christianity… 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.” Accordingly, days and weeks later, two evangelists were arrested on spurious charges and beat by police.

Turkey: A Christian asylum seeker who fled from Iran because of his faith “was brutally assaulted by his Turkish employer with hot water and his body was severely burned,” due to “the extreme religious views” of his Muslim employer, who “told him he had no rights and that he would not pay him any money,” after the Christian asked for his agreed wages. He “is just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey.”

Abduction, Ransom, Murder

Egypt: The abduction of a 16-year old Christian girl, who disappeared over a month ago, has become a “tug of war between the Christian family and Muslim lawyers.” The court sided with the Islamists, ordering the girl to be held in a state-owned care home till she reaches 18—the legal age of conversion—instead of returning her to her family. Coptic activists argue that the decision “encourages Islamists to continue unabated the abduction of Christian minors for conversion to Islam.”

Pakistan: A Christian girl who was abducted in 2001 when she was 15 and forced to marry a Muslim, returned to her Catholic family after 10 years. Her case is not an isolated case: “there are at least 700 cases a year of Christian girls kidnapped and forced to marry Muslims. Likewise, “within the past three months, nine women have been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.”

Sudan: After a large truck smashed through the gates of a Catholic Church compound, Muslims affiliated with Sudan’s Islamic government kidnapped two Catholic priests and “severely beat” them and looted their living quarters, stealing two vehicles, two laptops and a safe. Later, the kidnappers forced the priests to call their bishop with a ransom demand of 500,000 Sudanese pounds (US$185,530).

Switzerland: A Muslim man hacked his daughter to death for dating a Christian: were they dating in a Muslim-dominated country, the Christian, as so often happens, would have likely received similar treatment.

Syria: The Christian community in Syria has been hit by a series of kidnappings and brutal murders; 100 Christians were killed since the anti-government unrest began; “children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim, including some who are “cut into pieces and thrown in a river.” These latest reports are reminiscent of the anti-Christian attacks that have become commonplace in Iraq for a decade.

Tajikistan: A young man dressed as Father Frost—the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas—was stabbed to death while visiting relatives and bringing gifts. The Muslim mob beating and stabbing him screamed “you infidel!” leading police to cite “religious hatred” as motivation.

Conclusion:
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (tribute); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed “dhimmis” (second-class citizens); and simple violence and murder. Oftentimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the west, to India in the east, and throughout the West, wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam.

– raymond Ibrahim

Nepali widow burned alive, accused of witchcraft

February 22, 2012 by  
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nepali-widow-burnt-aliveNepal, February 20, 2012: Thegani Devi Yadav, 40, supported two children and in-laws with her work. The government provides compensation and punishes the culprits. A famous healer and magician, tied her and set her on fire with the help of some villagers. Human rights activists explain that “it is a very common practice” and the legacy of a society “dominated by Hinduism.”

A Nepalese woman was burned to death on charges of witchcraft. A terrible story, which has shaken the conscience of a country where – human rights activists explain – the traditional influence of Hinduism is still alive and women are excluded. The government has promised compensation for the family of around 10 thousand Euros, to ensure the education of children and promises to punish those responsible for a crime, which “happens very frequently,” only that “today the cases emerge” with more ease than ever before.

The victim is Thegani Devi Yadav, a widow of 40 years, mother of two children – a boy of 12 years and a girl of 9 – who, through her work at a building site, also took care of her in-laws guaranteeing them two meals per day. The woman was originally from Chitwan district, 150 km from the capital Kathmandu and was killed for “witchcraft”. She was accused of this by a famous healer and expert in magic arts, named Guruwa, who burned her alive with the help of his cousin and other villagers.

An eyewitness named Ram Bahadur Tharu confirms that “[she] was tied up and burned alive”, while “strongly rejecting the charges and pleaded for her life.” The incident has raised controversy and condemnation of the National Commission for Human Rights, over an “inhuman” act against someone who was “poor and marginalized”. Activist Sharmila Sharma points the finger at “traditional society dominated by Hinduism” and confirms that similar cases occur frequently, but “in the past were hidden by society itself” and the police “did not intervene in time to stop the crimes “.

Interviewed by AsiaNews Dan Bahadur Chaudhari, Minister for Women, Children and Welfare, said he was “saddened” by the tragic event and confirms that “the law does not do enough” because “for many years the traditional Hindu practice recognized witchcraft” . “In many villages, several women – he adds – suffer from this terrible practice and ask for it to be repressed with the appropriate standards.” Nepalese society, in fact, is still inspired by the Hindu religion and sees women as the “second class” sex, more so if widows. For this a reform of the laws is needed and policies that promote equality between men and women as well as an end to discrimination against minorities and the marginalized.

– asianews

Indian fishermen not hostile to Italian marines

February 22, 2012 by  
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INDIA_ITALIA_PescatorIndia-Itali, February 21, 2012: This is what the chancellor of the archdiocese of Trivandrum (Kerala) says. The death penalty is not likely to be imposed, he adds. Two weeks ago, another Indian fishing boat was attacked by an unknown ship. No one was killed on that occasion. Tense relations with Italy are part of domestic Indian politics.

“Victims’ relatives, survivors and the people of Kerala do not hold a grudge against the marines and Italy. They are just saddened by what happened and concerned about their safety,” said Fr Ignaci Rajasekaran, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, capital of the Indian state of Kerala. He spoke to AsiaNews about the diplomatic tensions between Italy and India.

Yesterday, a court in Kochi remanded in custody (but not prison) Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, two Italian marines from the San Marco Battalion, who will be heard again in 14 days.

For Fr Rajasekaran, the two marines do not face the death penalty, as claimed in Italian media. “In India, no one is talking about that possibility. Although the death penalty exists, it is rarely applied. It is unlikely that our courts would impose it.”

In Kochi yesterday, a group of protesters called for the arrest of the Italian soldiers. However, some people suspect that the Hindu ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in the opposition in the state, might be behind it.

A source, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews that “political reasons are behind all the fuss caused by the case. Kerala is governed by the Indian National Congress led by Sonia Gandhi, who is Christian and was born in Italy.”

“There are upcoming national parliamentary elections and the BJP certainly wants to take advantage of the situation. It could be that it wants to push Sonia Gandhi to intervene to reduce tensions so that it can say that the Congress party is more interested in international relations than the good of the people.”

This morning, some fishermen in Poovar (archdiocese of Trivandrum) told the priest that they were attacked by an unidentified ship two weeks ago.

The fishing boat has bullet holes “but no one was killed,” Fr Rajasekaran. “The authorities and the media did not show any interest on that occasion. Now, after the loss of two lives, the government is trying to clarify the situation.”

For the fishermen and their families, “it does not matter whether it was a cargo ship or an oil tanker, an Italian vessel or that of another country,” the priest said. “When they saw two of their colleagues die, the fishermen did not know who fired the shots. They only sounded the alarm. Their problem is safety. A fisherman’s life is hard. You might be at sea for two weeks and come home empty-handed or with 3,000 rupees worth of fish. They want to go out into the open sea and not lose their boats, or worse, their life.”

Meanwhile, the State of Kerala is planning to help the victims’ families. This morning, Ajesh Binki’s widow (Ajai Tinki, from Kerala) received 500,000 rupees as previously announced. State authorities also said they would find her a public service job.

The situation of Gelastine’s widow is more difficult. She and her family live in an area of the archdiocese of Trivandrum that borders with Tamil Nadu.

“The two states must find an agreement,” Fr Rajasekaran. “I hope they find a solution quickly. Hindu culture is hostile towards widows and without a job it will be hard for her.”

– asianews

Oriental Christians observe Ash Monday

February 22, 2012 by  
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Ash MondayNew Delhi, February 21, 2012: Most Catholics of the Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara Churches adopt a vegetarian diet and foreswear alcohol during lent.

Catholics of India’s two Oriental rites yesterday observed Ash Monday to mark the beginning of lent.

Lent for these Churches lasts 10 days more than what Latin rite Catholics and Protestant Christians observe.

Most Catholics of the Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara Churches adopt a vegetarian diet and foreswear alcohol during lent.

These Catholics are part of seven mainstream Christian Churches in Kerala that trace the origins of their faith to Saint Thomas the Apostle.

The practice is the same for other Christian groups, such as Orthodox Christians.

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church keeps a 50-day Lenten observance but do not observe Ash Wednesday or Ash Monday.

Oriental Catholics attended churches in large numbers on the first day of Lent. The ceremony includes a penitential Mass in which the priest makes the sign of the cross with ashes on the forehead of each Catholic.

The Latin rite that follows the Roman liturgy introduced by European missioners in the 15th century, the Oriental Catholics follow Syrian liturgies and customs.

Unlike the Latin Church, the Oriental Churches do not skip Sundays when the length for Lent is calculated.

Traditionally, Lent in Eastern Churches begins on the seventh Monday before Easter.

The Church laws do not stipulate abstention from meat and fish on all days of Lent, especially on Sundays, but Oriental Christians abstain from meat, fish and alcohol throughout Lent voluntarily.

– ucan

SC questions Gujarat govt’s case against Teesta Setalvad

February 22, 2012 by  
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Teesta SetalvadNew Delhi, February 21, 2012: The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the Gujarat government for initiating a probe against social activist Teesta Setalvad for her alleged role in a case of illegal exhumation of the bodies of the 2002 riot victims, saying it is a “spurious” case to victimise her.

“This is a hundred percent spurious case to victimise the petitioner (Setalvad),” said a bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai.

While criticising the state government for beginning the probe against Setalvad, it added, “this type of case does no credit to the state of Gujarat in any way.”

“This case is hundred percent spurious. In other cases against petitioner, there may be something,” the bench said.

Besides this case, the Gujarat government has also lodged criminal proceedings against her in other riot-related cases.

The bench was of the view that it was not correct on the part of the Gujarat government to go ahead with the case.

It asked senior advocate Pradeep Ghosh, who appeared for the Gujarat government, to go through the First Information Report (FIR) of the case and advise the government not to proceed with it.

“You advise your client not to proceed with this type of case. You should show some responsibility and tell the government not to proceed with the case,” the bench said.

While posting the matter for March 23, the bench asked the senior counsel to go through the FIR “passionately” and tell the court as to what does he feel about it.

The bench also asked Gujarat government’s standing counsel Hemantika Wahi to go through the FIR.

The bench was hearing a petition by Setalvad against the May 27 order of the Gujarat High Court, which had refused to quash the FIR registered against her at a police station in Panchmahal district of the state on exhumation of the bodies from a graveyard near river Panam.

While making the critical remarks against the Gujarat government for initiating the probe against Setalvad in the body exhumation case, the bench said its interim stay, imposed on July 29, 2011 on criminal proceedings against Setalvad in the case would continue till the next date of hearing.

“Interim stay to continue till the next date” it said.

Responding to the apex court notice, the state government had in its affidavit justified its probe against Setalvad in the case saying she actually planned and executed the digging of the graves without any permission in 2006.

It had claimed that during the probe into the case, it has emerged that “Teesta Setalvad, the petitioner herein, was the main accused, who actually planned and executed this operation of digging of graves near Pandarwada through her staff.”

The government had said the other accused have claimed innocence and had blamed Setalvad for instigating them to carry out the exhumation, which is a penal offence.

“Exhumation of the dead bodies without prior permission of the competent authorities constitutes an offence under sections 192 (fabricating false evidence), 193 (punishment for false evidence, 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 120-B criminal conspiracy), 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 297 (trespassing on burial places) of IPC,” the affidavit had said.

It was alleged that in 2002, about 28 unidentified bodies of the riot victims from Pandarwada and surrounding villages in Khanpur taluka were buried in the graveyard.

Earlier, the high court had declined to scrap the FIR, but had quashed the summons, which had termed her as absconding.

In its May 27, 2011 order, the high court had observed that by showing Setalvad as an absconding accused in the charge sheet filed in April “a glaring mistake has been committed by the investigating officer”.

The FIR had alleged that Setalvad, who had earlier secured anticipatory bail from a local court in Panchmahal district, was the prime conspirator behind the incident.

The state government, in its affidavit, had named five accused Rais Khan Pathan, Gulam Kharadi, Sikander Abbas, Qutub Shah Diwan, Jabir Mohammed who in their respective statement blamed Setalvad for instigating them.

– dna

Cardinal urges caution in India-Italy row

February 22, 2012 by  
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Cardinal-George-AlencherryVatican City, February 22, 2012: Cardinal George Alencherry urged the Kerala government not to precipitate in the controversy.

India’s new cardinal has urged the Kerala government not to precipitate in the controversy over the killing of fishermen by Italian mariners.

“I immediately contacted the Catholic ministers to ask the Kerala government not to take precipitate action,” Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, yesterday told Fides news agency in Rome.

The cardinal also urged Kerala’s opposition parties not to exploit the situation. “It seems that the opposition wants to manipulate the situation for political motives by talking about Western powers and the drive for American domination,” the news agency quoted the cardinal as saying.

The congress party led by Italian-born Sonia Gandhi heads Kerala’s ruling United Democratic Front. The opposition Left Democratic Front is led by the Communist Party of India’s Marxist faction.

The cardinal’s comments came a day after a magistrate in Karunagapally near Kollam remanded in custody for two weeks the two guards of an Italian oil tanker accused of killing the fishermen on February 15. She has also allowed the police three days to question marines Latorre Massimillaino and Salvatore Girone.

The police arrested them on Sunday triggering a diplomatic row between India and Italy.

Italy wants the mariners released on bail arguing that they shot the fishermen mistaking them for pirates in international waters. The Indian side says the shooting of the unarmed fishermen took place in Indian waters.

Cardinal Alencherry said he would give the controversy his “constant attention” in coming days. He was in Rome along with 21 other prelates to receive the cardinal’s red hat from the Pope on Saturday.

Federal Minister of State for Agriculture K. V. Thomas, a Catholic from Kerala, had accompanied the cardinal.

The Kerala Church leader said the minister is a “man of great moral stature and significant influence, both in the local and in the central government, who has assured me of his maximum effort.

Italy has sought diplomatic immunity for the pair who was part of a six-member naval security team on board the MV Enrica Lexie tanker.

“Italians want the prosecution and investigation done according to UN rules and not per Indian laws. But we maintain the killings happened within Indian waters. Now only the court will have the final word,” said P. Chandrasekhran, additional director general of police.

According to an Italian Foreign Ministry press release, the presence of armed guards on board the ship was permissible under Italian law and in line with UN resolutions.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi reportedly said there are “considerable differences” with India over the killing of the fishermen.

– deccan herald / ucan

Churches raided, leaders fined and Christian literature seized in Kazakhstan

February 21, 2012 by  
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Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazakhstan, February 20, 2012: Churches are being raided, leaders fined and Christian literature confiscated as the Kazakh authorities enforce new laws intended further to restrict religious freedom in the country.

Aleksei Asetov, a father of ten, was fined 485,400 Tenge (US$3,300) – an estimated average local wage for 18 months – for leading a small unregistered church that meets in his home in Ekibastuz in Pavlodar Region. The property, including the parts where the family lives, was raided on 30 November by two officers from the Department for the Fight against Extremism, Separatism and Terrorism. They seized Christian literature in their search of the building.

On 19 January, a case was brought against him under the new legislation, and he was found guilty on 8 February of carrying out banned religious activity.

Aleksei is the fourth Christian known to have been fined since the harsh new Religion Law and changes to another associated law came into force in October 2011.

The other three are all from the Karaganda Region. Ivan Yantsen (62) was fined 75,600 Tenge (US$510) following a raid on 17 November, as part of “Operation Legal Order”, on a private home where his church meets. He was found guilty of “participation in the activity of a banned religious organisation”.

Aleksey Buka was fined on 1 December 2011 for participating in unregistered meetings for worship.

On 11 January, Yevgeni Savin was fined 161,800 Tenge (US$1,091) for leading unregistered religious meetings, following a raid on his home, where the church meets.

The council of churches to which all four belong has a policy of not paying fines issued to them for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. Those who have previously refused to pay have been imprisoned for a short period or had property confiscated or the value of the fines taken directly from their wages.

Literature confiscated

A church in Petropavl in North Kazakhstan has twice been raided by the Police Department for the Fight against Extremism, Separatism and Terrorism, and an official from the Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA).

The first raid took place on 29 January during its Sunday service. Officers confiscated several New Testaments as well as Christian books and DVDs that were on a table in the foyer of the hall that the church rents, saying that the items were subject to “expert analysis”.

Officials returned to the church during its service two weeks later.

The head of North Kazakhstan’s Regional Department of the ARA said the church had “violated the Religion Law by distributing religious literature”.

– barnabas team

The Italian tanker “was in Indian waters, not international.” Justice for Catholic fishermen

February 21, 2012 by  
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India-Italy tankerIndia-Italy, February 20, 2012: Fr. Ignaci Rajasekaran, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum (Kerala) confirms facts to AsiaNews by. The priest actually met the survivors and relatives of victims. The accident occurred at 16.30 (local time) and the Indian fishing vessel returned to port at 22.30: “Too little time. To reach international waters from the coast takes more than a day”. 2 Marines arrested believed guilty.

“When it opened fire, the Italian oil tanker was in Indian waters, not international. And the fishermen were resting, except the two victims: the helmsman Ajesh Binki, 25, and his shipmate Jalastein, 45. They were on watch”, says Fr. Ignaci Rajasekaran, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, tells AsiaNews. This version does not coincide at all with that of the Italian navy. The 11indians on board the vessel are Catholics and Jelestein belonged to the Archdiocese of Trivandrum. Together with the Archbishop, Mgr. Soosa Pakiam M, Fr. Rajasekaran has accompanied the family to claim the bodies of the victims, and organize the funeral. This afternoon (Indian time) Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the Marines found guilty of having opened fire, will appear before Kochin magistrate to answer the accusation of murder, under Art. 302 of Indian Penal Code. The Indian police yesterday arrested two soldiers. The Indian and Italian versions still do not match. The Italian Navy maintains that the tanker Enrica Lexie was in international waters at the time of the accident and that the two marines shot the fishermen mistaking them for pirates due to their “hostile” behaviour.

Fr. Rajasekaran, who met with the families of nine victims and survivors, said: “The fishermen were from the diocese of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum and Quilon. At 16.30 (local time), the men were resting, because they fish at night. At that moment, the Italian vessel was within the limits of territorial waters of India. Binki, the helmsman, was on lookout. He was hit in the face, below his left eye and died instantly. Jalastein got up and received a gunshot to the chest. Meanwhile, the other nine woke up and communicated with the closest boat. This has raised the alarm with the Coast Guard.”

The time and place where the accident actually occurred are the points on which the Italian and Indian authorities diverge. “When contacted – the priest told AsiaNews – Kochin the Coast Guard ordered the vessel back to port. On its return, the boat stopped three times because of technical problems. Eventually, the Indian vessel reached the coast at 22.30 (local time). Considering the time of the attack and the arrival in port, it is evident that the Italian tanker and the boat were in Indian territorial waters. This must be very clear, because no boat could reach the coast in less than a day if it is in international waters.”

Fr. Rajasekaran thought’s go to the survivors and families of the victims. In particular that of Jelestein, a member of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum. “Jelestein – he explains – was married and had a child. Having no parents, he was taking care of two younger sisters, aged 13 and 17. They are all very young and he was the only one to provide for the family. Who will take care of them now, how will widow survive? “. Currently, the Government of Kerala has promised 500 thousand rupees (about 7,700 euros) to each of the families of two victims. However, the priest points to a security issue: “Often, our fishermen have to go far offshore, where they encounter foreign cargo or cruise ships that go beyond the limits of the high seas and destroy the fish, or cause damage to nets. This seriously compromises the life and survival of these workers and their families.”

The incident with the Enrica Lexie, however, represents an extraordinary case. “It is inhumane and unacceptable – he concludes – that a foreign vessel can shoot with this freedom within the territorial waters of another country. The Italian ship did not launch any warning before firing. The families of these poor men have the right to seek justice”.

– asianews

What If

February 21, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

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What If

We are giving below a set of questions on which we request you to think over (original author unknown).

What if, GOD couldn’t take the time to bless us today because we couldn’t take the time to thank Him yesterday?

What if, GOD decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn’t follow Him today?

What if, we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when GOD sent the rain?

What if, GOD didn’t walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day?

What If

What if, GOD took away the Bible tomorrow because we would not read it today?

What if, GOD took away His message because we failed to listen to the messenger?

What if, GOD didn’t send His only begotten Son because He wanted us to be prepared to pay the  price for sin?

What if, the door of the church was closed because we did not open the door of our heart?

What if, GOD stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others?

What If

What if, GOD would not hear us today because we would not listen to Him yesterday?

What if, GOD answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service?

What if, GOD met our needs the way we give Him our lives???

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

 
– fwd: samuel machado

Legacy of US Iraq’s Invasion : Near extinction of Christian population?

February 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Iraq, newsletter-asia, Persecution

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Operation-Iraqi-Freedom

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Iraq, February 14, 2012: With the withdrawal of the US led forces from Iraq, Operation Iraqi freedom turns into Operation Iraqi Christians decimation.

Around fourteen months back, in November 2010, I had written about the pressures on the Christian minority community in Iraq and my fear about their extinction from their motherland in one of my piece, “Operation Iraqi freedom and Christians in Iraq” which was carried by number of news portals. (http://www.aina.org/news/20101102214511.htm / http://twocircles.net/2010nov02/operation_iraqi_freedom_and_christians_iraq.html and others)

Some of the admirers of US regime, my friends in US and even some of the Muslim activists had disagreed with the analysis and had responded with their disagreement for different reasons. A good number disagreed because of their hate for Saddam and others for the exposure of the indifferent temperamental behavior of the some Muslims towards the religious minorities in Muslim society.

A month after the withdrawal of the Allied forces from Iraq and its becoming a sovereign state, one of the serving US Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio admitted in an interview to CNA in Rome, “Yes, you can say in a certain sense that the invasion of Iraq did provoke this tremendous diminution of the Christian population in that country. And what the future holds, that still remains to be seen,” Archbishop Timothy believes that the collapse of Iraq’s Christian population is among the legacies of America’s invasion in 2003 and he is absolutely correct.

Before the invasion of Iraq, Christian population was around 1.4 million of the total population and the community had enjoyed all kinds of support and patronage during Saddam’s regime which dwindled to around one hundred forty thousand at the time of the withdrawal of the Allied forces. Did they just vanish? Its a million dollar question.

Secular Saddam Hussein had always trusted Christians and had appointed them to the highest government posts beside giving them freedom to profess their religion with dignity.

Overwhelming majority of the world’s population had considered Tariq Aziz, a Christian and the international face of Saddam’s regime, who was also foreign minister, as a Muslim. Christians being considered staunch supporters of Saddam’s regime faced twin pressures with its downfall, the foremost being the coreligionists of the invading forces and for others as the former ally of tyrant Saddam Hussain.

The Sunni Muslims of Iraq were nearly convinced and shocked to see the switch of the loyalty of the Christian community to the invading Allied forces and the Kurds & the Shia’s hate reached its zenith because of the community’s past alliance with Saddam. The irony of the whole scenario was that Saddam protected them where as the Allied forces under US command totally shied to extend a protective cordon for them. With the rising violence against the community the Christians were forced to live as displaced community in their own country and in other countries.

What the Americans did was a catastrophe for a multi- religious Iraqi society when they literally open their embassy gates for granting refugee visas to the Assyrians, Armenians and the Catholic Christians and created zones for them at different places in the suburbs of the American cities. The European Union too followed the policy and a good number of them migrated to the invading member countries of the European Union.

During one of my visit to the hub of the Chaldean Christian community in USA, I was amused to know about the fair treatment the community had received from Saddam. One of the Chaldean refugee pastor in US told me that after the Iraq invasion, the open patronage of Condaleeza Rice, the then National Security Advisor to President Bush, morally and financially to her fellow Protestant Iraqi Christians angered the Iraqi Muslims-Sunni’s and the Shia’s and they started targeting Christian churches and the community with more vigor.

The pastor was of the view that ‘Wahhabi Sunnis soon started getting patronage from one of the gulf allies of America’ and the problem took alarming proportions. More than one hundred thousand migrated to neighboring Jordan too and are still living there. Thousands internally displaced took refuge in Northern Iraq in the plain of Nineveh, the historic homeland of Christians of Iraq.

Monsignor John Kozar, President of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, recently spoke of the “strong determination” some Iraqi Catholics have to go back home. After his visit to Jordan, Monsignor opined, “I think they have a yearning to return to the homeland, and that homeland for them means practicing their Chaldean-rite Christianity, that has become very, very important to them.”

While announcing the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, President Obama had confidently thundered on 15th December 2011, “they we are leaving behind a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant,” country and just 10 days after his pronouncement the Christian community in Iraq was under such tremendous pressure that fear of an attack forced Christians during Chrism to cancel the Chaldean Catholics’ midnight Christmas celebrations. Services were moved to the daytime, and Christians were warned by community leaders not to display decorations outside their homes.

I wonders whom to blame for the decimation of the patriotic Iraqi Christians from Iraq, invading Allied forces under US command or Al Qaida?

– navaid hamid

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