EGYPT – As demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the government erupted in Egypt, Islamists in the southern part of the nation broke into two Coptic Christian homes on January 30th, murdering men, women, and children. A total of 11 people were butchered by the cowardly assailants, and four others were wounded seriously. The survivors reported that the assailants were assisted by Muslim neighbors. Fear is escalating among Christians in Egypt, particularly Coptic Christians, regarding who will be in charge of the government. Many believe it will fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Please pray for Christians in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations where persecution is growing due to Islamic radicalization.
A bombing of a New Year’s Eve service at the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria, Egypt, left 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians dead. Riots erupted following the bombing, with frustrated Copts attacking Muslims in a nearby mosque. The Copts have complained bitterly that the government permits attacks against the nation’s historic Christian community by Islamists who desire Egypt’s absolute submission to Islam. Fifty-two anti-Christian incidents occurred the last two years without a single perpetrator being prosecuted.
The U.S. State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, released this past November, revealed the Egyptian government restricts religious freedom in favor of Islam – the official state religion – despite its constitution guaranteeing freedom of religious belief and practice. According to the report, Christians are discriminated individually and collectively, particularly in government employment. The government often arrests, detains and harasses converts from Islam to Christianity, and often refuses to provide them with new identity documents indicating their chosen faith. The government’s refusal to prosecute crimes against Christians contributes to a climate of impunity, encouraging additional assaults by Islamists. In 2009, the government destroyed a quarter of a million pigs, devastating the livelihood of a large community of Christians in Cairo, claiming the action would prevent swine flu.
Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent bipartisan government panel, stated the Egyptian government has failed to take sufficient action to halt the repression and discrimination against Christians, or to punish individuals responsible for severe violations of religious freedom. Regarding the New Year’s bombing, Leo declared, “This attack all too clearly demonstrates the ongoing problem of unchecked violence against Christians in Egypt. At present, there is no real deterrent for those who target Egyptian citizens because of their religious identity. Until there is justice and accountability, the Christian minority, and other minorities in Egypt, will remain vulnerable to extremists and terrorists.”
Islamists are promoting anti-Christian sentiment among ordinary Egyptian citizens according to Youssef Sidhom, the editor of a Coptic newspaper. Sidhom noted, “The infiltration of political Islam into our education, our schools, into the hearts and minds of school teachers and into our school books and is extremely dangerous because it produces innocent children who are infected by the version of Islam that does not accept the other and preaches non-acceptance of Christians.”
Sunni terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked an Assyrian Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 31st. Fifty-nine worshipers were murdered, including two priests, along with five police officers. Over 80 others were injured. The terrorists were all killed in the attack, either with the explosives they detonated or by the Iraqi police. The terrorists at first held the worshipers hostage, demanding the release of two Egyptian Christian women who they insisted were being held against their will and tortured by Coptic Christians.
Christians continue to fear for their safety as false allegations, violent threats, and mass demonstrations escalate against them in Egypt. Islamic rage was ignited when unfounded accusations were made on Al-Jazeera television that Christians aligned with Israel and have been stockpiling weapons in preparation for war against Muslims. The rights of Christians in the nation have been threatened by the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, a government body, which confirmed Egypt as an Islamic state where “the citizenship rights of non-Muslims were conditional to their abiding by the Islamic identity of the State.” Thousands of Islamists with the Front of Islamic Egypt have promised a Christian “bloodbath” in massive demonstrations.
Mark Ebeid, a Coptic activist, stated, “Sheikhs in Egypt decided to spread unfounded allegations and convince thousands of Muslims of their fabrications. Besides, the Coptic Church would have never delivered two of its children, who sought refuge within its walls, to the fundamentalists.”
Several weeks ago, on March 12, approximately 2,000 Muslims attacked the Church of St. Michael in Mersa Matrouh, Egypt, after being incited by a local Imam, Khamis Mohamad Khamis, during prayer services. Using loudspeakers of the adjacent mosque of Al-Ansar, the Imam urged the “faithful” to jihad against the Christian place of worship. He ordered its destruction and called for the expulsion of the “infidels.” 400 parishioners were trapped inside while the Muslims raided their homes and then set them on fire. 23 Christians were injured in the attacks, with two requiring treatment at Victoria Hospital in Alexandria. The hospital is located about 150 miles away from Mersa Matrouh.
Please pray for the Coptic Christians who were attacked and for those who lost their homes and possessions.
During the early morning hours on Saturday, November 21, the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot and the neighboring villages of Abou Shousha, Kom Ahmar, Shakiki, and Ezbet Waziri were filled with Muslim mob violence against Coptic Christians. The violence was prompted by allegations of the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old-girl by 21-year-old Copt Guirgis Baroumi on November 18. Baroumi has been detained by the police pending evidence from investigation and forensic testing. The mob congregated in front of police headquarters in Farshoot in order to abduct and murder the alleged perpetrator who was to be transferred.
The mob of 3000 vandalized, looted, and burned the property of Copts, effectively decimating the Christian economy in Farshoot. Muslims made wooden crosses and burned them in the streets. Coptic-owned businesses, pharmacies and automobiles in Farshoot and Ezbet Waziri were completely destroyed. Seven Coptic women were abducted. Many Christian families were evicted forcibly from their homes, which are now occupied by Muslims. The Rev. Benjamin Noshi, a Coptic priest, was driving when the mob forced him to stop his vehicle. They assaulted him, fracturing his skull. He is currently in a local hospital receiving treatment. Reuters Cairo reported the “chaos is overwhelming.”
Bishop Kirollos believed the attacks were preplanned, and students from the Islamic Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot were used to spark the rioting. The bishop pointed out that even if the allegations are true, such an indecent assault was an individual incident and does not call for the massive attack against peaceful Christians. He also pointed out Christians have denounced such immoral acts which are contrary to Christian teaching.
Please pray for peace to be restored to this region; for the girl who was raped to experience physical and emotional healing; and for the truth to come to light in the case. Pray for justice – for the actual attacker (whether Baroumi or another man) to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and for those involved with the mob violence to be prosecuted as well. Pray for the Coptic Christians who have suffered material loss and the means of their livelihood. Pray for the salvation of the rioters.
It was reported last week that authorities in southern Egypt, in the states of Aswan and Dakahlia and in the resort city of Hurghada, arrested Christians and other non-Muslims for eating and drinking in public during Ramadan. Human rights organizations have been quick to react to the arrests of the 155 individuals, calling the arrests illegal and unconstitutional. Gamal Eid of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information stated, “There is no law that prohibits eating or drinking during the day in Ramadan. Every citizen has the right to eat and drink in Ramadan without being harassed. This means that the government is implicitly endorsing turning Egypt into a religious state.” Magdhi Kalil, director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, declared, “This is against basic human rights of citizens. We (the Christians) are not Muslims and don’t believe in Islamic fasting. We have our faith and our own fasting. Even for Muslims, the decision to fast or not to fast is a personal issue.” This is the first time Egyptian officials have taken such measures, indicating the government is seeking the Islamization of the nation’s officially secular public life. Jonathan Racho, International Christian Concern’s regional manager for Africa and the Middle east, said in a news release dated September 10, “Punishing non-Muslims for eating or drinking during Ramadan is both outrageous and a clear violation of the freedom of religion. We condemn in strongest terms the measure by Egypt to force Muslims and non-Muslims alike to fast during Ramadan. We call upon the international community to hold Egypt accountable for its illegal and unconscionable actions.”
A mob of approximately 500 Muslims descended upon the small Christian village of Al-Hawasiliya, Egypt. The mob was determined to burn down the house of a local man’s home after learning he desired to use his house for Christian worship. The Muslims accused the man of attempting to build a church without proper local permits. Though Egyptian law does not prohibit this, Sharia law prohibits the expansion of church buildings, public Christian ceremonies, or the ringing of church bells. At least two Egyptian police officers, both Muslim, and four Christian Copts were wounded by the mob attack. Police eventually gained control of the mob, but not before setting several Christian farms on fire.
Coptic Christians make up approximately one-tenth of Egypt’s population and are targeted regularly by the Muslim majority for attack. This past April, the Egyptian government seized and slaughtered the vast majority of pig herds in the nation, owned mostly by Coptic Christians, in a supposed effort to protect Egyptians from contracting swine flue. The effort was seen not as a concern for health, but as a targeting and weakening of Egypt’s long-persecuted Christian community. The effort was criticized heavily by the United Nations, which declared the mass cull of 400,000 pigs was a “real mistake” since the new flu strain has not been found in pigs. Christians are also restricted from senior Egyptian government, military or educational positions, and all worship services must have government approval.
The Egyptian government, dominated by the Muslim religion, has once again failed to stand courageously for the democracy which it claims to possess. This is evident in two recent cases, one regarding the restriction of religious liberty and the other in the failure to protect its Coptic citizens. In Yemen, the the height of Islamist cowardice was demonstrated in the kidnapping and murder of unarmed female relief workers.
EGYPT – Kamilia Gaballah, a Coptic Christian, was granted custody of her 14-year-old twins, Andrew and Mario, by an Egyptian court on June 15. The boys turned 15 on June 24. Gaballah has fought with her ex-husband, Medhat Ramses Labib, for the custody of the boys in more than forty different cases since he converted to Islam and abandoned her in 1999. In October 2008, the Appeal Court of Alexandria granted custody of the boys to their father despite the fact that Egyptian law grants custody of children to mothers until age 15. The year prior, Labib changed the religious affiliation on the twins’ birth certificates from Christian to Muslim without their consent. While the court granted Gaballah custody, it also ruled the boys must be identified as Muslims on their national identification cards.
The boys now face the legal challenge of attempting to obtain identification cards listing them as Christians. When asked why they desired to remain Christian, Andrew replied, “I love Christ, and I believe in Him.” Mario responded, “I am born Christian, and I believe in Christianity, and I am not going to change my faith.” The twins’ elder brother, George, who is also a Christian, stated last year that the two have received encouragement from fellow Christians who have heard of their dilemma. He noted, “Christians see them as Coptic heroes and martyrs who stood up in front of all and said they were Christians and held on to it. All of them say they they see the greatness of their ancestors and Christian heroes of long ago in them. . . . they carry a lot of respect and love for what they have done.”
U.S. Citizens concerned about religious liberty in Egypt are urged to contact the embassy in Washington, D.C., at 202.895.5400, in order to vocalize their support for the twins in being identified by their religion of choice.
EGYPT – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has expressed concern over reports of attacks targeting Coptic Christians in the small Egyptian village of Ezbet Boshra-East. On June 21, a group of Christians from Cairo visiting a pastor in the village when a mob of Muslim residents began attacking and looting the church building, Christian homes, and destroying crops owned by Christians. Several people were injured. Felice Gaer, chair of the USCIRF, noted in a news release, “This latest incident is another example of the upsurge of violence against Coptic Christians we have seen in the last few years. The commission has long expressed concern that the Egyptian government does not do enough to protect Christians and their property in Egypt, nor does the government adequately bring perpetrators of such violence to justice.” Egypt is a nation on the USCIRF “Watch List” due its serious violations of religious liberty.
YEMEN – Nine international relief workers, all Christians, were abducted on June 12. Three of those kidnapped, all women, were murdered a short time later. The bodies of two German nurses in training, Rita Stumpp and Anita Gruenwald, and a South Korean, Eom Young-sun, were discovered in Noshour Valley. The remaining hostages, German physician Johannes Hentschel, his wife Sabine, their three children, and an unidentified British engineer, are reportedly still alive.
Please pray for Muslims in Egyptian government to stand courageously for the democracy they claim to possess and desire. Please pray for the safe return of the relief workers who were abducted, and for the families of the ladies who were murdered.
Maher, a Christian in Egypt who comes from a Muslim background, is currently involved in a legal battle to officially change his and his daughter’s religious registrations from Islam to Christianity. This past Saturday, June 13, the Egyptian court ruled against his petition. Human rights advocates present at the trial stated the petition failed on both procedural and substantive grounds. On substantive grounds, the certificate of conversion obtained by Maher from a Coptic priest was invalid because it was not certified by the Coptic Orthodox Church. In regard to procedural matters, while Egypt’s Civil Code provides the process for amending identity cards, the process requires submission of legal documents substantiating the need for any such amendment. Under Sharia Law, there is no legal concept of conversion from Islam to another religion. Therefore, in the Islamic dominated society, there is no organization to provide Maher with necessary documentation for the procedure. The judge in the case accepted a State Council report declaring the conversion of a Muslim to another faith violates Islamic law and poses a threat to public order. One of the attorneys representing Maher stated this report fails to recognize both the Civil Code provisions and Egypt’s commitments to international law to uphold religious liberty. Maher’s legal team is preparing to appeal the ruling.
Christians in Egypt are requesting prayer for the following:
- For Maher and his daughter to sense the presence and experience the peace of Christ every day.
- For all parties involved with the case to act with integrity.
- For Maher’s attorneys to be strengthened by God’s grace and endowed with wisdom.
- For the appeal to ultimately be successful and positively impact other converts from Islam.
- For officials in the case to hear the claims of Christ Jesus and be drawn to Him savingly.
India – Pastor Murugan, traveling home with two other Christians from a prayer meeting in Moodalpalya, Karnataka, on June 24, was ambushed and beaten by Hindu militants. The militants accused Pastor Murugan of converting people forcibly and “spoiling the minds of the children.” After beating him, the militants took the pastor to the local police station where he was detained. The pair traveling with the pastor managed to escape. Two days later, in an unrelated incident, Hindu militants forced their way into a home in Hubli, Karnataka, where Christians were gathered for a prayer meeting. The pastor, Vinod Talakere, was beaten by the militants and then dragged with another Christian to the local police station. The two were accused of forcible conversion.
Uzbekistan – Police officers raided the home of Jandos Kuandikov in Nukus, Karakalpakstan, on June 14. The eight officers, who did not have a warrant, claimed to be conducting an identity check. Those inside the home were Christians gathered for a wedding preparation. Police accused Kuandikov of being a Wahhabi terrorist and took several of the Christians to the police station for further interrogation. All were released except for Aimurat Khayburahmanov.
Iran – A Christian couple who converted recently from Islam, Makan Arya and Tina Rad, were arrested on June 3 in their home on charges of sponsoring Bible studies with Muslims and for attending a house church. Their four-year-old daughter, who was ill at the time, was left unattended. One of Makan Arya’s relatives informed security police of the couple’s spiritual activity. The two were beaten severely at the local jail and interrogated for four days. Makan was accused of “activities against national security” while Tina was charged with “activities against the holy religion of Islam.” Authorities threatened to send their daughter to an Islamic institution. The couple was also threatened with imprisonment on charges of apostasy if they continued their Christian practices. They were pressured eventually into signing a statement they were still Islamic and they would no longer attend the house church or meet with other Christians. Makan was freed on bail charges equaling $19,634 and Tina was released upon payment equaling $29,451. Upon her release, Tina was unable to walk as a result of the treatment she received. The glass window of the couple’s shop was shattered while they were in jail and Makan received a letter on June 23 warning of further attacks if he did not display evidence of holding to the Islamic faith. Makan responded by hanging pictures of Islamic leaders in the window.
China – Officers from the Public Security Bureau (PSB) evicted prominent house church leader Hua Huiqi and his family from their home in Beijing on July 2. Pastor Huiqi’s brother was beaten by the officers and suffered severe eye damage. The entire family was forced out to the street with their furniture. A Christian family in Beijing has taken them in until they are able to find a new home. Authorities have expressed their intention to either detain Pastor Hua until September 30, long after the completion of the Olympics, or to remove the family out of Beijing completely while the Olympics are being held. The government has branded Pastor Hua and other human rights / religious activists as “troublemakers” and is doing everything to prevent them from attending the Olympic events in August.
Egypt – A mob of local Muslims attacked homes and businesses belonging to Coptic Christians in Al Nazla on June 19.
Indonesia – Muslims closed a church building in Jatimula, Bekasi, West Java, recently and prevented Christians from entering the facility and holding services. The pastor led services outside the church building in the alley. Local authorities have placed a sign outside the building declaring, “This church building is sealed.” This is the second time Muslims have closed the church building. The first time occurred on September 10, 2005, when 100 Muslims barred Christians from entering the facility and boarded up the doors and windows.
Azerbaijan – Pastor Hamid Shavanov was arrested on June 20 after police claimed to find an illegal weapon in his home in Aliabad. The 51-year-old pastor’s family and Baptist congregation insist the police planted a gun in the home in order to charge him. He is due to be transferred from the investigation prison in Gyanja to Zakatala on July 10. His trial is scheduled to take place after the transfer. He faces up to three years in prison. Pastor Zaur Balaev, another local pastor, was arrested in May 2007 on fabricated charges and just released this past March. Ilya Zenchenko of the Baptist Union complains Pastor Shavanov’s arrest is part of the the government’s activity focused against Baptists and other religious groups across the nation.
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is reviewing the law enabling citizens to change their religion. Christian-born converts to Islam, desiring to return to their original faith, are currently unable to do so because of appeal placed before the court. Egypt’s highest court was asked by Judge Muhammad Husseini to review the constitutionality of the law giving citizens the right to change religions on March 4, 2008. Just last month the top administrative court in the nation employed Article 47 of Egypt’s civil law to permit a dozen converts to Islam to return to Christianity. Husseini contends Article 47 conflicts with the Egyptian constitution’s second article, designating Islam as the national source for legislation. Mainstream interpretations of Shari’ah law forbid “apostasy” – leaving Islam. Human rights activist Hossam Bahgat stated, “This is a new legal fight that the Supreme Constitutional Court has never dealt with in the past. We see it as the single most important court case since the  amendment that made Islamic Shari’ah the main source of legislation.”
Egypt – PRAISE! An Egptian court recognized the faith of a dozen Christian converts, overturning a lower court ruling which declared the state did not need to recognize conversions from Islam because they constituted “apostasy” – an act often treated as a capital offense in the Islamic world. An attorney for the twelve Coptic Christians described the case as a victory for human rights and freedom of religion which will enable hundreds of Copts to return to their original faith. Concern remains over the ruling court’s mandate stipulating the converts’ former religion must be recorded in their official documents. This may leave them vulnerable to discrimination.
Hazem Boutros Hanna is a Christian facing imprisonment, torture and possible execution, if deported to his birth country of Egypt. Hazem has requested that Christians in the US speak out on his behalf, and I happily acquiesce to that request.
Makram, Hazem’s father, was a cultural Coptic Christian who was awakened by God’s grace when his son was eight years old. This awakening brought about a desire to study the Scriptures and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all who would listen. In 1874, when Hazem was 12, Makram was tortured and then murdered for baptizing a former Muslim. The police in Cairo refused to investigate and Markram’s widow and three sons became neighborhood pariahs. Three years later, Hazem began working in a goldsmith shop. Talented in the craft, he opened a shop of his own after graduating from high school. The business ran successfully for three years. That success came to an end when a Muslim family, whose daughter had been baptized by Makram, beat Hazem and destroyed his shop. Hazem’s mother, fearing for his life, sent him to Italy to study art.
Hazem eventually found work as a goldsmith in Italy, dropping out of school and becoming a full-time apprentice. A few years later, Hazem returned to Egypt. Work was difficult to find, and unable to return to Italy on his student visa since he had dropped out of school while there, Hazem worked with goldsmiths and jewelers around the globe until arriving to Morocco. In Casablanca, Hazem found work with a respected Jewish jeweler, Reva Jakob. Due to Jakob’s reputation and network, Hazem’s skills were noticed by many influential individuals, including the security detail of the king, Hassan II. Hazem was able to again open a shop of his own. While in Casablanca, the goldsmith was contacted by a childhood friend, Hasem Farid. Farid, now a member of the Egyptian secret police, asked Hazem to work with the government by spying on the Jewish community. He was told that information would be collected “to kill troublemakers in Egypt.” Hazem refused the request and came under immediate threats. He was eventually taken to the police, accused falsely of swindling a shop owner out of his building. The case was eventually dismissed, but Hazem was detained by the Egyptian secret police while at the Cairo airport on his way to Israel. He was encouraged again to spy upon the Jewish community and then released for a short period of time. After burying his mother, who succumbed to ovarian cancer, Hazem purchased a ticket to Malta. While at the airport, he was detained by the police. They bound and blindfolded him, placed him in a holding cell, and accused him of being a traitor for supporting Jews in Casablanca. He was interrogated and tortured repeatedly. The torture included having four teeth removed, being attacked by dogs, being electrocuted with wires attached to his ears and genitalia, and having each finger on his right hand broken.
Hazem was finally released from prison in 1997. He found his way to Turkey. At that time in his life he was angry at God and disappointed with Him. It was during this period that Hazem came to faith in Christ after hearing a sermon about the Prodigal Son in a Protestant church. The goldsmith now declares, “I forgive them all who tortured me because I am a Christian.” He now faces deportation back to Egypt, meaning probably imprisonment, torture and even death. Please pray for Hazem Hanna.
HT: Wade Burleson
The China Aid Association reports that 40 leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship were arrested on November 18. Public Security Bureau officers raided the group’s leadership meeting in Fanhu, Hunan, China, and arrested those in attendance. All those in the meeting were senior leaders of the CGF, including its pastor, Shen Yiping. Within a week, 21 were released, but 19 are still being held at a detention center. Family members have been instructed to bring blankets and money to cover living expenses for their imprisoned loved ones. Please pray for those detained and for their families in their absence and with this unexpected financial burden.
Nagui Ibrahim converted to Islam in 1962 and deserted his family, including his two-year-old daughter, Shadia. His identity card in Egypt was changed to reflect this decision. Three years later Ibrahim reconciled with his wife, rejoined his family, and turned back to Christianity. Unable to change his identity card back to indicate his being a Christian, Ibrahim had someone alter the documents to reflect his religion accurately. In 1996 the individual who altered the documents confessed to committing forgery for Ibrahim. Police detained Ibrahim and informed him that he was still a Muslim by law. Since Egyptian children automatically take their father’s religion, Shadia was officially considered a Muslim. She gave her religion as “Christian” when married in 1982, and she was sentenced to three years of imprisonment on November 21 for “providing false information on official documents.” Please pray for Shadia’s unjust sentence to be reversed and for the Egyptian government to permit true freedom of religion within its borders.
Compass Direct News reports that members of the Hindu militant group, Bajrang Dal, joined with local villagers in Mandwa village, Chhattisgarh, India, surrounded a church building there on November 19, bound Pastor Suduru Kashyap and his associates, and then beat them severely. They also destroyed the church building. Pastor Kashyap and his associates went to the local police station following the assault and were detained for 24 hours without food or water. They were finally released, but no official complaint was received against the assailants. The body of 21-year-old Aauatu Kashyap, a relative of the pastor, was found 15 kilometers from the village on the next day. Villagers and militants were irate with the pastor for “criticizing other gods.” Please pray for the Kashyap Family as they mourn Aahatu’s death and for the believers in Mandwa village to continue confessing Christ in the midst of persecution.
A mob of Islamists attacked members of the Protestant Batak Church, outside of Jakarta, Indonesia, throwing stones and bricks at them. The senior pastor, Lau Doloksaribu, received stitches in his temple. Church property was also destroyed. Pastor Doloksaribu replied, “The freedom to worship is a basic human right. It is not given by government or the authorities, but it is a free gift from God that should be respected by everyone. And actually, the freedom to worship is guaranteed by the law.” The Indonesian is doing next to nothing to protect religious freedom. Houses of worship are required to have a minimum of 90 members and worshipers must receive the approval of at least 60 neighbors before they may hold services legally.
A pastor from the West Bank – who fled to the United States this week after receiving threats from a Fatah security official – said he feels as though he is in as much danger in the U.S. as he was in Ramallah. Isa Bajalia, who was born in the U.S. but has served as a minister since 1991 in the Middle East, stated, “We know they do have contacts here in the States, so I’m taking it as serious as I would if I were still in Ramallah.” Please pray for Pastor Bajalia’s security.
The National Security Service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced the arrest of several “foreign spies” and “native citizens working for a foreign intelligence service,” in September. According to Voice of the Martyrs’ sources, however, those arrested are not spies, but Christians. The following nine Christians have disappeared and are believed to have been arrested:
Mr. Chul Huh (34)
Mr. Chun-Il Jang (39)
Mr. Myung-Chul Kim (36)
Ms. Young-Su Jin (32)
Mr. Nam-Suk Kang (48)
Mr. San-Ho Kang (36)
Mr. Suk-Chun Suh (29)
Ms. Mi-Hae Park (30)
Ms. Young-Yae Lee (37)
It is possible these individuals have already been tried and executed. Please pray for their families, friends, and fellow N. Korean church members will be at peace and trust Him who causes all things to work together for good to those who are called and are loved by Him (Romans 8:28). Please pray for members of the National Security Service to be drawn to Christ Jesus as a result of the witness of these nine.
Compass Direct News reports that three Christians have been jailed in Egypt. Wagih Yaob and Victor George were taken from their homes during the early hours of November 10 and attorney Mamdouh Azmy was arrested at his office that afternoon. Yaob and George had their personal belongings confiscated. After being interrogated in New Cairo, the pair were given 15-day detentions and accused of “defaming Islam” and “destroying the reputation” of Egypt. They are being detained at the Tora Prison in Cairo. Azmy has also been transferred to a prison in Cairo. Please pray for the release of these Christians, for the comfort of their families and fellow believers, and for non-believers around them.
Many Christians in Maharashtra state were assaulted during the early part of the month by Hindu extremists. Christian leaders in India say there is a growing history of unchecked violence against the Church in the Thane district. Hindu extremists, armed with clubs, interrupted the worship service of the Mumbai Diocesan Missionary Movement in Kuttal village on November 4. Several members were beaten brutally and required hospitalization. After the attack, Pastor Suresh Suttar went to the police station to file a complaint but ended up being detained. He was released the following day.
Six Christians were assaulted by Hindu militants in the Thane district of Maharastra on November 4. The victims included Pastor Vishnu Barad and his wife. Six days later a group of about 50 Hindu militants attacked Pastor P. C. Nayak in the city of Bareilly, Utter Pradesh. He was hospitalized in relation to the internal injuries he sustained. Please pray for those who were attacked, as well as for their attackers.
Muslims in the West Bengal village of Badarpur (Behrampur district) ostracized a couple who converted to Christianity from Islam. The pair, Johad Sahid and his wife Taslima, were beaten on October 28 and denied access to all common facilities, such as water taps and toilets.
Compass Direct News reports that Adel Fawzy Faltas, the 61-year-old Egyptian leader of the Middle Eastern Christian Association, and Peter Azzat, a 25-year-old associate, were acquitted of charges against them for “insulting” Islam, tarnishing Egypt’s reputation abroad, and posing a threat to national security. Upon the acquittal they were freed after a three month imprisonment. Faltas recounted having thirty State Security Investigation officers and plain clothes police officers raided his home on August 8. He stated that the most trying aspect of the situation was spending the first two weeks of his imprisonment in an isolation cell measuring 1.75 meters in length and .75 meters in width. Praise the Lord for the release of these brothers.
An Iranian Christian couple was sentenced this past July by the Justice Court of the Revolution to be whipped for attending a house church in 2005. After their arrest on September 21, 2005, by government agents, they were required to report to authorities regularly up to the time the court decided their punishment. During one of these reporting sessions the wife was sexually abused by an agent (Haj Agha, a clergyman) and would not report again to the authorities. The court ruled that the both the man and the woman were Mortad, guilty of apostasy for leaving Islam. The two received punishment for their “crime” in September when four men and two women, all agents, came to their home and executed the sentence there. These Christians are under severe emotional strain and in need of our prayers.
Necati Aydin, Tilmann Geske, and Ugur Yuksel were tortured and murdered by Islamists on April 18. The murderers have openly confessed to the crimes and Malatya’s Third Criminal Court has set the opening of their trial for November 23. News regarding the trial in the Turkish press have sensationalized justifications given by the murderers, including allegations against the victims. The Islamists are portraying Turkey’s Protestants as enemies of the state. Turkish Christians expect martyrdom to continue. Pray for justice and for the abiding testimonies of these men to display the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
According to our friends at the Voice of the Martyrs, there is a new wave of persecution against Christians in Iran who meet to worship in the privacy of their homes. Several believers have been detained and interrogated. One home was stormed by a police team that confiscated a computer, several CD’s and Christian materials. One Christian was arrested and remains in prison. Please pray for the release of this believer and for Iranian Christians to remain steadfast in their faith.
Compass Direct News reports that seven Christians were injured during two recent attacks on Coptic Orthodox congregations and Christian-owned shops in northern Egypt. On June 8, Islamists damaged and looted Christian shops and churches in Zawyet Abdel-Qader. Christians were injured when they attempted to protect their property. Two churches were vandalized.
Also on June 8, government authorities in Malaysia demolished a church building belonging to the Orang Asli tribe of indigenous Christians in Kuala Lumpur. The building was destroyed on the grounds that it had been built without state permission. A local church leader, however, stated that the land is owned by a village chief and that the Christians have the legal right to use it as they wish. Local Christians have rejected the district office’s suggest to rebuild a “community center” at a different location. They intend to rebuild the church building in its original location.
Zau Balaev, a Baptist pastor imprisoned in Azerbaijan, has been transferred to the prison infirmary due to serious heart problems. His health has been affected by the heat and poor conditions faced during imprisonment. It has been asked that believers pray for Pastor Balaev’s health and for his family to have financial provision while he is imprisoned.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
- 1 Peter 4:12-13
A mob of Muslims left their Friday prayers on May 11th and attacked Christians in Bahma village, south of Cairo. At least twenty-seven homes and businesses of Christians were set on fire, and no less than 10 Coptic Christians were injured during the assault. It was reported that fifty-nine of the Muslims had been arrested on charges of arson and spreading sectarian strife.
Please pray that the Coptic Christians will demonstrate the love of Christ consistently to their tormentors.