Turkish Catholic Church calls for a return of 200 properties. Better to ask for legal recognition *Sudan: Muslim mob burns Catholic church in capital

April 25, 2012 by  
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Turkey, April 23, 2012: The bishops’ request is based on a 1913 list, signed by the Ottoman Empire and France, once the protector of Catholics. The request, difficult to resolve, has stirred controversy and embarrassment among other Christian communities. Archbishop Lucibello, Nuncio in Turkey. It is urgent that Ankara recognize the Catholic Church, after 60 years of diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

The Turkish Catholic Church is trying to regain possession of 200 properties confiscated by the government in Ankara in the 1930s. But several elements of the community think the church should focus its efforts on the legal recognition of the community.

A few days ago, some Catholic bishops, including Msgr. Ruggero Franceschini, president of the Episcopal Conference, met with the Commission for Reconciliation of the Turkish parliament. The Commission has been working to study the return of properties confiscated by the government of Ataturk to non-Muslim communities (see: 29/08/2011 Historic decision: Erdogan returns seized property to religious minorities). But Catholics are not in the list of “non-Muslim communities” because at the time they were recognized as a “foreign” community.

The Turkish Church has submitted a list of over 200 properties (churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals, cemeteries, …) based on a list drawn up in 1913 between the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and France, erstwhile protector of the Church Catholic.

The problem of return of these properties is very complex: first, these assets have passed from hand to hand and it is not certain that they can be returned. But the most important issue is the lack of legal status of the Catholic Church in the current Turkish law. To date, the Catholic Church in Turkey can not own property and these can only be made payable to Turkish private citizens (often secular or church-related nominee), with ambiguous consequences.

Several political parties and newspapers have taken on the requests of the bishops, judging them “greedy”. The request has embarrassed other Christian communities.

Some Church Turkish figures have stressed to AsiaNews that the real problem that needs to be addressed it is obtaining legal recognition by the State. Sources close to the episcopate state that this topic was not even addressed at the meeting with the Commission for Reconciliation,.

“On this recognition – said the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello – there are pour parler dating for decades. Even the pope, in meeting the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican [January 7, 2010], once again asked for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church. This recognition should have already been granted because a country like Turkey has relations with the Holy See for 60 years and really should give this recognition : it would be a logical consequence because the Church in Turkey is in a sense as a derivation of the Holy See. ” According to experts, the forthcoming Turkish constitutional reform could lead to openings for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church.

– asianews

Muslim mob burns Catholic church in Sudan capital

 

Sudan, April 23, 2012: A Muslim mob set ablaze a Catholic church frequented by Southern Sudanese in the capital Khartoum, witnesses and media reports said on Sunday.

The church in Khartoum’s Al-Jiraif district was built on a disputed plot of land, but the Saturday night incident appeared to be part of the fallout from ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan over control of an oil town on their ill-defined border.

Sudan and South Sudan have been drawing closer to a full-scale war in recent months over the unresolved issues of sharing oil revenues and the disputed border.

Last week, South Sudanese troops seized Heglig, which the southerners call Panthou, sending Sudanese troops fleeing. The Khartoum government later claimed to have regained control of the town.

The witnesses and several newspapers said a mob of several hundred shouting insults at southerners torched the church. Fire engines could not put out the fire, they said.

One newspaper, Al-Sahafah, said the church was part of a complex that included a school and dormitories. Ethiopian refugees living in the Sudanese capital also used the church.

The mostly Christian and animist South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, some six years after a peace deal ended more than two decades of war between the two sides. Tens of thousands of southerners remain in Sudan, a legacy of the civil war that drove hundreds of thousands to seek relative safety in the north of what was then a single Sudanese nation.

Vice President Ali Osman Taha rejected suggestions by South Sudan for the deployment of international forces in Heglig, saying in a television interview that the area was internationally recognized as Sudanese territory.

He also said that Khartoum would shortly announce the monetary value of what he said was the destruction caused by Southern Sudanese troops in Heglig and that his government would demand compensation.

Sudanese army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled said that government forces have repulsed an attack by Southern Sudanese forces in the area around the town of Talode in South Kordofan, the same region where Heglig is located. He said the southerners suffered unspecified casualties but did not say when the fighting took place.

In neighboring Blue Nile state, a Sudan military official said his forces have killed 50 rebels linked to the south.

Maj. Gen. Murtada Warraq said his forces will continue to “liberate” territories from rebels linked to the northern wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. His comments were carried by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA.

Clashes in Blue Nile state broke out in September, driving many of the area’s residents to seek refuge in the south.

– ap

Easter bomb attack near Nigeria church kills at least 20 *Southern Sudanese Christians fear forced repatriation

April 9, 2012 by  
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Nigeria, Apr 08, 2012: A car bomb blast outside a church in northern Nigeria on Easter Sunday killed at least 20 people and put the country on alert over fears of further attacks, rescue officials and residents said.

The explosion, a stark reminder of Christmas Day attacks that left dozens of people dead in Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, hit the city of Kaduna, a major cultural and economic centre in the north.

Motorcycle taxi drivers and passers-by caught much of the blast.

As news of the attack spread, security forces boosted patrols in key areas, including in the capital Abuja, where soldiers were sent to reinforce police posted near churches, an AFP correspondent reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

At least one car said to be driven by a suicide bomber was involved in the Kaduna attack, but a rescue official speaking on condition of anonymity said two vehicles packed with explosives detonated.

“Now we have 20 dead from the twin explosions,” the rescue official, who was not authorised to speak publicly, told AFP. Officials were still counting the number of wounded, he added.

“Bombs concealed in two cars went off just opposite this church,” he said.

A police officer at the scene said a man believed to be a suicide bomber driving a car was stopped at a checkpoint near the church and turned back, but drove to a nearby area close to a hotel and detonated the bomb.

Other cars in the area were damaged, but it was unclear if they were also carrying explosives, he said.

A spokesman for the national emergency management agency said most of the victims appeared to be motorcyle taxi drivers.

Police said the explosion was a bomb, but did not comment further.

“We have a bomb explosion. We are trying to sort things out,” police spokesman Aminu Lawal told AFP.

Residents reported seeing dead and injured being taken away. An AFP correspondent said he saw 10 bodies, while one resident said he counted at least 10 wounded.

“From my balcony, I could see policemen loading the dead and the injured into waiting vans,” another resident said.

One resident said the explosion was strong enough to shake his house and cause his ceiling to cave in. He ran to the site, which had already been cordoned off, but he said he could see damage to the Assemblies of God Church as well as cars.

Islamist group Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks on churches and other locations on Christmas day, the bloodiest at a church outside Abuja, where 44 people died.

Authorities as well as foreign embassies had warned of the possibility of an attack on Easter Sunday.

Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody insurgency has left more than 1,000 people dead since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims of such attacks, though Christians have occasionally been targeted as well.

The group also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja which killed 25 people.

Its deadliest attack yet occurred in the northern city of Kano on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead.

An attempt to hold indirect talks between Boko Haram and the government last month appears to have collapsed, with a mediator quitting over leaks to the media and a spokesman for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.

Nigeria’s 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

Despite a number of high-profile arrests and heavy-handed military raids, Nigerian authorities have appeared unable to stop the attacks.

President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta region, said in his Easter message that “as people of faith, we must never succumb to hopelessness and despair.”

There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has links to outside extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda’s north African branch.

Diplomats say such links so far appear limited to training for some Boko Haram members in northern Mali with Al-Qaeda elements, without significant evidence of operational ties.

Analysts say deep poverty and frustration in Nigeria’s north has fed the violence, pushing young people toward extremism.

– afp

Southern Sudanese Christians fear forced repatriation

 

Sudan, April 06, 2012: Christians from South Sudan who have until Easter Sunday (April eight) to try to become citizens of Sudan or be deported fear authorities will use the occasion to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders said.

More than 500,000 citizens of southern ethnic origin who have been living in Sudan for decades – some of them born there – will be considered foreigners after Sunday. Human rights organizations have called on Khartoum to grant them more time to either leave or apply for citizenship.

Christian leaders expressed concern that local media such as the daily Al Intibaha newspaper have been stoking hatred against predominantly Christian southern Sudanese, describing them as “cancer cells in the body of Sudan, the land of the Arab and Islam,” and calling on the government to deport them.

“The local media are becoming very hostile toward us who are still in the north,” one Christian told Compass by phone on condition of anonymity.

Gov. Ahmad Abbass of Sennar state in central Sudan vowed to deport southern Sudanese from his state “without regret,” according to Alsahafa, an Arabic daily. Banners have appeared in Khartoum streets calling on the government and Muslims in general to harass and expel southern Sudanese, some of whom are also Muslims.

“Why are they still here? The government should expel them from the country,” one banner asserts.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in a referendum last July 9. The government of Sudan has begun issuing national numbers to designate citizens of Sudan, denying the designation to Sudanese of southern origin. Without a national number, southern Sudanese have no citizenship rights to work or education.

Churches in Sudan have already suffered losses in numbers as many members prepare for forced repatriation, Christian leaders said.

“We are monitoring the situation and praying to God to protect us,” said a church leader who spoke on condition of anonymity.

As Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pledged to base the new Sudan more deeply on sharia (Islamic law), ethnic southerners are faced with a difficult choice, Elizabeth Kendal writes in the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.

“The message essentially is this: Submit to sharia or get out,” she writes. “Churches may well be targeted immediately and aggressively, starting 9 April. All across the Sudan, churches have been emptying as ethnic southerners – including those born and raised in the north – flee south. This could eventually become a pretext for closing them.”

At the same time, police have been mistreating some of the more than 113,000 southern Sudanese who are living in open spaces in Khartoum after having fled conflict in South Sudan. Officers have removed their make-shift housing, including temporary latrines, according to Jovana Luka, deputy chairperson of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in South Sudan, who recently returned from Khartoum.

Southern Sudanese may not be welcome in South Sudan, either, as increased competition for scarce resources leads to greater tribal conflict, and their fate depends on the mercy of both the Sudan and South Sudan governments, the Rev. Karlo Aika of Khartoum’s St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church told 98.6 FM radio station on Sunday (April 1).

He said he was concerned about security for southern Sudanese whether they stay or return to South Sudan.

“We fear too because we do not know why these things are happening,” he said.

– cdn

700,000 to be evicted from Sudan Easter Sunday

April 7, 2012 by  
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Sudan, April 06, 2012: This Easter Sunday, the Sudanese government is kicking out as many as 700,000 people, many of whom are Christians.

Since South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, there has been debate over what nation each person should call home. Some reports suggested that an agreement had been reached allowing citizens in either country to live, work, and own property on either side of the new international border.

But that was a month ago. Now, the Khartoum government has made the decision to remove all people of South Sudanese origin currently living in the north.

“This affects not just people who have lived in South Sudan in the past, but those who have parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents from the south,” explains Matt Parker with Kids Alive International.

Although many included in the eviction notice have never even been to South Sudan, droves have fled already. Most southerners are Christians and are fearful of what might happen to them if they stay.

“Church leaders fear persecution if they stay in the north. It’s a very difficult, very unpredictable situation,” explains Parker. “So a lot churches are really moving their ministries from Khartoum down to the south.”

Christians may have reason to fear. Parker says there has been a lot of talk about Sudan becoming “more Islamic.” The mostly-Muslim north has a long history of persecution against believers.

Though fear abounds, many questions remain unanswered as to the Sunday deadline. Parker says, “The deadline itself–8th of April–really is unrealistic. It’s a logistical nightmare in many ways. We’re talking about between 500,000 and 700,000 people.”

Another question remains unanswered for Kids Alive. Based on the number of Christians being asked to leave the nation, how will the government respond to ministries still in the area? Kids Alive has already had to reduce programming in Sudan.

Still, says Parker, “We plan to be there for as long as we’re able to be there. There are lots of kids that still need help. There are thousands that live on the streets or are in need.”

Some of the Kids Alive kids in the north have already fled with their families to South Sudan. Thankfully, Kids Alive does have a number of soon expanding programs in South Sudan as well.

The most powerful solution now is intercession through prayer. Pray particularly for safety for the believers who are fleeing the nation and who are being asked to leave. There have even been rumors of a return to war between Sudan and South Sudan.

“It’s very difficult to predict how the government will act and how they will respond to any southerners who are still in Khartoum after the 8th of April,” says Parker.

Pray for safety for the workers and programs of Kids Alive, and pray that this might be an opportunity for them to trust in the Lord and to spread His name.

– mnn

Pak: Threats to Christians during Holy Week *Sudan bombs Churches & forces Christians out

April 5, 2012 by  
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Pakistan, April 03, 2012: In Eidgah Colony, Sarghoda District, fanatics defaced signs and sacred images belonging to the minority. Police refuse to file a report on the incident, tell complainants to leave the station. Human rights activists file a writ before the Lahore High Court for violation of religious freedom.

Islamic fanaticism is casting a dark shadow over Easter celebrations this year in Pakistan. The country’s Christian community has already received threats and warnings against celebrating the occasion. Now sources in Sarghoda District in Punjab tell AsiaNews that someone tore down Easter signs and decorations at the Eidgah Christian colony. The unknown attackers also threw black paint on the community’s sacred images and made threats against those present, warning them not to continue in their preparations.

When residents turned to the local police to file a report, no one at the station would do it. Instead, they told the complainants to leave.

With courage and determination, some of the faithful put back the signs and images. However, once again, in the evening of Palm Sunday, fanatics came back for another raid. This time, they threw away the images and threatened punitive reprisals against the Christian colony.

Yasir Masih, a local resident, spoke to AsiaNews about the situation. “For years, colony residents have come together to prepare Holy Week,” he said. Equally, “for years, we have been threatened. Even though we reported it to the authorities, they didn’t take it seriously. This year, they [the fanatics] have come to our streets and threatened us. We are not safe, and we are scared.”

The Masihi Foundation, a humanitarian organisation, condemned the threats and has filed a writ this morning with the Lahore High Court, demanding protection for the Eidgah Christian Colony, and more generally for Christians in Punjab. More specifically, it has called on the authorities to enforce the residents’ right to freedom of religion.

“Christians live Holy Week in terror,” said Fr John Gill, a priest in Sargodha. “The state has failed to provide them security.”

For him, the Punjab has become a hub of violence against minorities. “We urge the authorities to take immediate action to put an end to the senseless violence.”

– asianews

Sudan bombs Churches and forces its Christians out

 

Sudan, April 03, 2012: Thousands of Christians stripped of their citizenship are now being forced out of Sudan in the wake of the South’s secession back in January 2011.

Christians have until April 8 to either leave the Islamic northern state, or be treated as foreigners under a regime that is openly hostile to non-Arabs and non-Muslims. To date, Sudanese Armed Forces have destroyed 10 churches.

Christians remaining in Sudan after the April deadline may face increased persecution, or forced repatriation; in either case, thousands of refugees to South Sudan will surely trigger a humanitarian crisis.

The Sudanese ultimatum comes as the new state of South Sudan struggles with a food shortage caused by a drought that has ruined its crops. The UN World Food Program estimates that as many as five million people in South Sudan will suffer from malnutrition this year.

Further, South Sudan’s resources are already being strained by the arrival of refugees from South Kordofan and the Blue Nile where 185,000 have already fled the latest genocidal campaign of a dictator demanding a purely Arab Islamic state.

“Despite the end of the long civil war and independence of South Sudan, Christians in both nations continue to suffer grievously,” said Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid. “South Sudan is taking the strain as hundreds of thousands of people flee from President Omar al-Bashir’s ongoing brutal campaign to Islamize and Arabize Sudan completely. Our brothers and sisters need our help and prayers as they are forced to leave their homes and rebuild their lives elsewhere.”

After earlier denying that it had bombed civilians, last week Sudanese aerial strikes targeted church buildings and schools in Kauda, South Kordofan state. Antonov aircraft dropped bombs on homes and livestock near churches and schools in an “ethnic cleansing” campaign against non-Arab peoples in Sudan’s multi-ethnic state. As a result, the churches are holding worship services early in the morning and late at night to avoid these aireal attacks.

The U.N. estimates the conflict has created nearly 400,000 refugees, most of them in danger of starvation. Following last year’s secession of southern Sudan, Christians in Khartoum, notably those from the Nuba Mountains, live under uncertainty as they approach the April 8 deadline to either leave Sudan, or become its citizens and live under shar’ia. Sudan’s Interim National Constitution considers Islamic law as a source of legislation for policies that often favor that religion.

– worthynews

Christian Woman in Darfur, Sudan Arrested & Brutalised for the Gospel

May 28, 2011 by  
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Christian Woman in Darfur, Sudan Arrested & Brutalised for the GospelKhartoum, Sudan, 24 May 2011(Compass Direct News): Sudanese National Security Intelligence and Security Service agents have arrested a Christian woman in a Darfur camp for displaced people, accusing her of converting Muslims to Christianity, said sources who fear she is being tortured. At the same time, in Khartoum a Christian mother of a 2-month-old baby is wounded and destitute because she and her husband left Islam for Christianity. In Darfur Region in northwestern Sudan, Hawa Abdalla Muhammad Saleh was arrested on May 9 in the Abu Shouk camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Al-Fashir, capital of North Darfur state, sources said. Abdalla has yet to be officially charged, but authorities have accused her of possessing and distributing Bibles to others in the camp, including children. Sources said she could also be tried for apostasy, which carries the death sentence in Sudan. Abdalla has been transferred to an unknown location in Khartoum, sources said, adding that they fear she could be tortured as she was detained and tortured for six days in 2009. Intelligence agents, they said, have been monitoring her movements for some time. There is no guarantee of her safety,” said one source in Darfur.
 
The U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report 2010 notes that while Sudan’s Interim National Constitution provides for freedom of religion throughout the country, it establishes sharia (Islamic law) as a source of legislation in the north. The arrest comes as northern Christians become more vulnerable to official and societal pressure with South Sudan set to split from the predominantly Muslim north on July 9. Adding to tensions was the north’s weekend military attack on Abyei Town, located in a disputed, oil-rich region to which both South Sudan and the north lay claim.
 
Knife Attacks
In Khartoum, the Christian couple with the newborn said they have come under attack for converting from Islam to Christianity. Omar Hassan and Amouna Ahamdi, both 27, said they fled Nyala, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of El-Fashir, for Khartoum in June 2010, but knife-wielding, masked assailants on May 4 attacked the couple after relatives learned that they had converted from Islam to Christianity. Hassan told Compass that he and his wife were renting a house from her uncle in Khartoum, but he ordered them to leave after learning they had left Islam. His wife was injured trying to protect him during the May 4 attack, he told Compass. “I have been in Khartoum for six months, with no job to support my sick wife,” Hassan said. “Muslims invaded our house and, in an attempt to kill me, they knifed my wife in the hand.” The knife pierced the palm of Ahamdi, who said her brother had stabbed her three times in the stomach nine months ago, seriously injuring her spleen, after she told him she had become a Christian. “I feel pain, but my husband is alive, and we are praying that we get money for treatment for both my hand and the spleen,” she said.
 
In the violent outburst, her brother also broke her left leg. She was rushed to a local hospital, where personnel were reluctant to treat her because of her conversion, sources told Compass. Ultimately she was hospitalized in Nyala Teaching Hospital for three weeks – where she met Hassan, a recent convert who had also suffered for his faith who visited her after hearing how her family hurt her. He said he found no one caring for her even though she was in agony. He called an Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) pastor to help her, and she was discharged after partial recovery – to the hostile home where she had been attacked. “You don’t deserve to be a member of my family,” her angry father shouted at her, she said. Her family locked her in a room, shackled to a wooden chair, and severely beat her for a month. “I was badly mistreated – they shaved all my hair and my father whipped my head,” Ahamdi said. “But neighbors used to sneak in secretly and provided me food and water.” After freeing her from the chair, they restricted her movement to the property, she said.
 
“I found a chance to escape to the ECS church, where I got married to Hassan,” she said. “My health continued deteriorating, and the doctors recommended that I be transferred to Khartoum for specialized treatment for my ailing spleen. With a small amount of money, we managed to reach Khartoum by train, where my uncle hosted us not knowing that we were Christians.” In Khartoum, they were unable to afford the medicine prescribed for her spleen. “There is only one pharmaceutical shop in Khartoum that deals with spleen-related problems,” Ahamdi said. “The shop has to order the drug from Cairo after making a deposit amounting to US$300 before the drug is ordered. But we are not able to raise the needed amount since we are jobless.” Hassan and Ahamdi depend on friends to provide them occasional food, she said. They sometimes go without eating for two days, she said. “We cannot deny Christ – this is a big challenge to us, because we do not have a place to go,” she said, through tears. “We have no food, and we are jobless. I am still in pain, besides having a 2-month-old baby boy to care for.”
 
Path of Faith
Born in Shendi, north of Khartoum, Hassan was raised in Nyala, son of an imam belonging to the Ansar Al-Sunna, a sect of Sunni Muslims. He said he started questioning the Quran while accompanying his father on a preaching mission in Omdarfu, an area bordering Darfur and the Central African Republic. A high-profile Muslim from Europe happened to be in the area, and young Hassan asked him questions about Muhammad and Jesus, he said. He found no immediate answers. The following day, the European Muslim told his father that Hassan should be warned that soon he could become an infidel or kafir. Hassan denied it when his father summoned him, but the family grew uneasy with him and took his job away. He said he felt he was wasting his time in spreading Islam, and people began suspecting that he had converted to Christianity even though he had not yet done so. He said he decided to be without faith, and his father denied him all basic needs. After obtaining work as a security guard with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), he began comparing Christianity and Islam with his workmate. His friend invited him to visit a church, and Hassan also began attending a Bible study.
 
Hassan said he began having dreams and visions and heard a voice saying, “This is the way.” He told this to church pastor, who told him it referred to Jesus saying it of Himself in John 14:6. “A desire for attending church grew in me, and thereafter I got baptized,” Hassan said. “The pastor encouraged me to keep on praying. One morning, when I was on my knees praying, my father entered into the room and found me.” Furious, his father called out to him, but Hassan did not reply. “He then hit me with a big stick on the back of my neck,” he said. “He closed the door, invited seven relatives plus my elder brother, who started beating me with sticks and broke my shoulder. I almost lost my sight. My elder brother helped me escape to the pastor’s house, where I was hospitalized for 13 days.” After recovering, he returned to the pastor’s house, where he continued working with the NGO on a temporary basis. Early in 2007, he said, he met his uncle in the market, who tricked him into returning home, where his father beat him. His mother helped him escape, and a Christian from South Sudan took him to a hospital.
 
His pastor sent him to Khartoum, but he ended up working for another NGO in Juba, where he joined the ECS church. With his faith strengthened, he returned to Nyala when the contract ended in 2007. When he reached home, his father realized that he remained a Christian and ordered him to leave and never return. He returned to the ESC congregation in Nyala, and in 2008 the church sent him to Shokaya Bible Institute for six months. Upon completion he returned to the church and married Ahamdi in June 2010. They soon fled persecution to Khartoum, where their trials have continued. “We have been given notice to vacate the house,” Hassan said. “Life is becoming unbearable for us here in Khartoum.”

Islamists Suspected in Abduction of Christian Girl in Sudan

May 9, 2011 by  
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Islamists Suspected in Abduction of Christian Girl in Sudan

Islamists Suspected in Abduction of Christian Girl in Sudan

Widow loses her job after taking time off to try to recover kidnapped daughter.
NAIROBI, Kenya, February 22 (CDN) — A Christian widow in north Sudan is agonizing over the kidnapping of her daughter eight months ago by suspected Islamic extremists in Khartoum.

“Since my daughter was kidnapped, I have been living in a state of fear and terror,” said Ikhlas Anglo, 35, a mother of two daughters.

She said her 15-year-old daughter, Hiba Abdelfadil Anglo, went missing while returning from the Ministry of Education in Khartoum on June 27, 2010. Hiba, a member of Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum, had gone to the education ministry office to obtain her transcripts for entry to secondary school.

Two days later, the family received threatening telephone calls and SMS messages from the kidnappers telling them to pay 1,500 Sudanese pounds (US$560) in order to secure her return.

“Don’t you want to have this slave back?” one of the kidnappers told Anglo from an unknown location by cell phone, she said.

Anglo and others said they believe the kidnappers are Muslim extremists who have targeted them because they are Christians, and that police are aiding the criminals. She said that when she went to a police station to open a case, police bluntly told her she must first leave Christianity for Islam.

“You must convert to Islam if you want your daughter back,” officer Fakhr El-Dean Mustafa of the Family and Child Protection Unit told Anglo, she said. Recently transferred to another station, Mustafa was not immediately available for comment.

A relative of the girl said police are fully involved in the crime, as officers had traced the phone number of the kidnappers but were reluctant to admit that to the girl’s family.

‘‘The police have a direct link with the kidnappers,’’ the relative said.

Adding to the anguish of the kidnapped girl’s family was Anglo’s dismissal from her job when she took time off to search for Hiba. Anglo said her supervisor at Asia Health Center, where she had worked for many years as a cleaner, had told her to report back to work after recovering her daughter, but after a month she was surprised to learn that she had been fired as of July 1, 2010.

“They dismissed me because I was looking for my daughter, although they have given me permission,” she said.

Christians in north Sudan are anticipating increased persecution due to a referendum that gave the right of self-determination to the people of south Sudan, the majority of whom are Christians. On Jan. 9, south Sudan voted for secession in order to establish a zone free of sharia (Islamic law). Northern Christians fear further dangers after July 9, when south Sudan will officially become an independent nation.

President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur, has stated that the rights of southern citizens remaining in the north after secession will be respected. But Christians’ fears grew after he said in December that an altered constitution would be based on sharia and that Islam would be the official religion.

Nearly four months ago, police allegedly helped a Muslim businessman to seize property belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum (See www.compassdirect.org, “Police in Sudan Aid Muslim’s Effort to Take Over Church Plot,” Oct. 25, 2010).