Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rash of False Accusations Spreading Violence throughout the Heart of South Asia

By Bill Bray
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

NEW DELHI, INDIA (ANS) -- False blasphemy charges and fabricated accusations are increasingly being used by religious hate groups to organize persecution against Christians not only in Pakistan, but also in next door India. In both cases, there are similar devastating results, usually carried out as police and government officials stand back watching the violence.

An Indian church being burned
According to a human rights report from The Morning Star News (, Christians have suffered serious head injuries, expulsion from homes and incarceration based on false rumors spread by Hindu extremists carrying on a month-long campaign of false witness and terror in India.

The pattern seems to be well organized. The extremists target an indigenous Christian missionary, file false charges with police, begin the rumor campaign and organize mob action.

Similar organized rumor campaigns in Lahore, Pakistan last week caused a frenzied mob of 3000 vandals to burn down 200 Christian homes and two churches. Police evacuated the Christians and stood by watching as the mob destroyed an entire Christian community. In that case, a street sweeper was accused of "blasphemy" by a friend.

Communal violence is not just limited to the northern areas of South Asia, where an organized "hate belt" historically runs from Lahore in Pakistan through the Pakistan and Hindu Punjab and all the way to Patna in Bihar State.

Two Indian Christian women stand amidst the charred remains of their home that was burned down by extremists
Lately, similar tactics have been used as far south as the southern state of Kerala where some 100 Hindu extremists on March 10 attacked a Brethren Assembly church service in Chirayinkeezzh village, Trivandrum District, beating the Christians with wooden clubs; one church member sustained a serious head injury, said Pastor M. Anil Kumar.

The pastor, who has since relocated due to death threats, said a church member who goes by the single name of Ajith was hospitalized for three days for treatment of his head wounds, and that a Christian woman identified only as Lizie also sustained head injuries. In this case, the mob was responding to false accusations that church members of forceful conversion, he said.

Area Brethren Assembly leader K.V. Varghese said police arrested three of the assailants after Christians filed a complaint. Hindu extremists protested the arrests by calling for an all-day strike on March 12.

False Witnesses

Attack on a Christian church in Karnataka
In Madhya Pradesh in central India, two Christian leaders who were arrested after Hindu extremists beat them and falsely accused them of forceful conversion were granted bail after repeated requests on March 6.

The anti-conversion laws in India and the blasphemy laws in Pakistan are used in a similar way. No real guilt needs to be proved; the false accusation alone is enough to whip up a crowd of ignorant fanatics.

State police arrested Pastor Isaac Rajamani and evangelist Raju Shikaria on Feb. 18 after Hindu extremists beat them on Feb. 16 in a village near Khandwa, Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB) leader Jaisingh Sugumaran told Morning Star News. The extremists mounted the attack at the Gulai village home of a sick couple who had invited Rajamani and Shikaria to pray for them.

Attorney Sanjay Masini said the Hindu extremists held the two Christians for an entire night.

"The extremists took pastor Rajamani and evangelist Shikaria to a nearby house, accused them of forceful conversion, detained them the entire night and mercilessly thrashed them," he said.

Rajamani told Morning Star News the extremists threatened to kill them.

"The extremists were telling me not to conduct worship again, and they were also discussing among themselves whether they should simply kill us or take us to the police station," he said.

India has seen an increase in Hindu violence
against Christians
The next morning, the intolerant Hindus took the two Christians to the Khandwa police station, where a mob was waiting.

"As the two Christians got down from the Jeep, the angry mob shouting anti-Christian slogans ran towards them, pushed them down to the ground and pounded on them," Sugumaran of FMPB said.

The extremists brought two people to the police station who gave false statements that Rajamani was converting people to Christianity by allurement, Sugumaran said.

"There was no case of forceful conversion," he said. "The Hindu extremists forced two people who do not even know Pastor Rajamani to falsely witness against him of forceful conversion."

The man who requested prayer, identified only as Kannaiah, said that he was healed from his illness by Jesus and that Rajamani did not force or allure him to convert to Christianity, Sugumaran added.

Rajamani's wife, Sita Rajamani, tried to contact the pastor by mobile phone throughout the night, but to no avail. The next morning, their landlord told her that police had arrested her husband.

"She rushed to the police station and found her husband and evangelist Shikaria squatting inside the lock-up with bruises all over their bodies and wearing only underwear," attorney Masini said.
Christians protesting the increasing violence against them in India

As Christian women were consoling the pastor's wife at her home later that day, Hindu extremists surrounded the house and began shouting anti-Christian chants.
Rajamani and Shikaria were sent to Khandwa Jail later that evening.

"We were not able to eat food till Sunday, as our heads and necks were too painful after the attack," Rajamani said.

Hindu nationalists believe that all people in India are Hindu by virtue of being born in the country, though many tribal people are raised in tribal religions. They also feel that Christianity is a "foreign" faith that threatens their caste-based religion. India's population is 74.3 percent Hindu, 14.2 percent Muslim, 1.9 percent Sikh, 0.82 percent Buddhist, and 5.8 percent Christian, according to Operation World.


In the eastern state of Orissa, Hindu extremists in Bhalutangara village, Kankadahada block, near Dhenkanal, became furious when a Christian family refused to pay fees for festivals involving idol worship.
The Rev. Christodan Takri, a church leader in Amar Jyoti, told Morning Star News the Hindu extremists on March 1 beat the family of Rabinarayana Marandi, took their mobile phone and drove them from the village.

The Christians submitted a police complaint, and police and administrative officials arranged for the assailants to meet with the church members on March 8 to work out a "compromise." The Christians agreed to contribute payment for social welfare programs and refused to give anything toward the Hindu festival idols, but the extremists insisted that village tribal law required them to contribute to all local Hindu festivals.

Threatening to withdraw government benefits, local authorities ordered the Christians to comply with Hindu extremist demands for payment and to take part in all village religious activities, rituals and rites.

Another Pakistan shocker: After being acquitted of blasphemy, the case against Christian teenager, Rimsha Masih, is to be reopened

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Following the recent savage violence against Christians in a poverty-stricken Lahore ghetto on Saturday, March 9, 2013, during which a frenzied Muslim mob of about 3,000 people burned down about 200 homes and two churches, comes more shocking news.

Rimsha Masih's original
arrest picture
It is that we learned that the blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, an illiterate 14-year-old Christian girl from a suburb of Islamabad, who was arrested on August 16, 2012 (and later acquitted earlier this year) is to be reopened.

A neighbor had accused Rimsha of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, in breach of Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, but on September 22, 2012, police investigating the case declared prayer leader Khalid Jadoon Chishti guilty, adding that there was no evidence against Rimsha and that he had framed her.

Then on January 16, 2013, Pakistan's Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a so-called final appeal against Rimsha in her blasphemy case, which was supposed to have effectively ended all legal proceedings on the issue.
But now, her counsel Abdul Hameed Rana has told The Lahore Times on telephone that Rimsha's complaint has filed an application in the apex court to review the decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

"According to the sources, Malik Ummad, Rimsha's accuser, sought to re-open Rimsha's case through his lawyer who filed an appeal against the lower court's acquittal," said a story in The Lahore Times.
Prosecutors were trying to reopen the case to get the Christian girl convicted.

The bench that made the "final decision", included the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhtar Muhammad Chaudhary, Justices Sh. Azmat Saeed and Justice Gulzar Ahmad and sources say that they are beginning to hear the case again today (Friday, March 22, 2013).

At the time of writing, it was not decided yet who will represent Rimsha in the apex court.

ANS Pakistan correspondent, Shamim Masih, who has been following the case now for us, said, "It is doubted that if this case is not handled properly, it may open new chapter in the history of blasphemy cases in Pakistan."

An angry mob gathered after burning Christian houses and churches in Lahore, Pakistan
In the other case against Sawan Masih, a 35-year-old Christian street sweeper, and the subsequent attacks on Christian homes and churches, so outraged Pakistani Christians that decided that they had had enough of the constant persecution they have suffered for many years and took to the streets of Lahore (and other cities in the country,) to protest against the terrible violence they had suffered.

The complainant, Imran Shahid, is said to have been Sawan's close friend during the past eight years. On the basis of his complaint, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against Sawan at the Badami Bagh Police Station (where the violence erupted) and he is being held in police custody.

"Initially the police held Sawan's father, Chaman Masih, and beat him severely, but he was then released after his constant denial of the accusations. 

Following these events, Sawan was finally handed over to the police on Friday, March 8th - a day prior to the attack," said a source.

Sawan Masih is accused of blasphemy
LEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development) Chief Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill said, "Christians are feeling insecure in Pakistan and remain always under threats of a religious mindset, especially due to the misuse of blasphemy laws against them."

He went on to say, "Almost every person I have talked to condemned the brutal terrorist attack on Christians."

Now, with this latest news of the possible retrial of Rimsha Masih, Pakistan-watchers are wondering when these constant attacks on Pakistan's beleaguered Christian community will end. Surely, they are saying, it is now time for the government of Pakistan to step in and ensure that these travesties of justice be halted, and thus restore the reputation of their country.

Egytian Muslims Accuse Priest of Using Black Magic on Muslim Girl

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

EGYPT (ANS) -- Hundreds of Muslims marched for the second day through the street of the Egyptian town of El-Wasta, 90 kilometers south of Cairo in Beni Suef Province.

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih of the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), they were protesting the disappearance of a Muslim girl, Rania Shazli, 19. They accused the priest of St. George's Church in Wasta of using black magic to lure her to Christianity.

AINA said the girl's uncle lead a group of Muslims to force the Copts in town to close all their businesses until the girl is brought back to her family. Coptic owners who refused were forcefully shut down.

The Shazli family, supported by local Salafists, threatened to kidnap a Christian girl if their daughter is not brought back and vowed to destroy the church after prayers on Friday, March 22nd.

AINA said during the march, a number of Muslims hurled stones at St. George's church. They had intended to stage a sit-in in front of the church, but were persuaded by some Muslim elders to leave.

AINA said they also threw small rocks stones at Coptic-owned homes. The demonstrators roamed the streets of the city starting from the home of the girl and chanted, "Why are you keeping silent. Is she not like your sister?"
AINA said the church instructed Copts to close their businesses after a delegation of Muslims and Christians went to the police department after security failed to find the girl.

Security Directorate in Beni Suef had sent forces to secure the church, after threats to the priest and the Copts were received from the girl's father, Hatem Kamal El-Shazly. Rania, a college student, disappeared three weeks ago.

Her father accused the priest, Father Makkar, to be behind his daughter's Christianization through "black magic," by means of some special Bible readings and smuggling her out of the country. The priest was threatened through loudspeakers all over town.

AINA said Watani newspaper reported that Rania has sent an open letter to her family, which she posted online, explaining that she ran away from home because of family problems. They included reported sexual abuse by her uncle some years ago, and because she was to be forcibly married to someone she did not want to marry. She added that she left Egypt and is married to a Muslim man.

AINA reported that Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Hodeib, head of Beni Suef Security, said the girl has contacted her father more than once to inform him that she is out of the country and married to a Muslim man named Ahmed.

He added that security forces are stationed in front of the church buildings, and warned against rioting, saying he would deal firmly with any violation of the law.

Nigeria - Kano bus bomb prompts religious leaders to joint call for urgent measures

At least 25 dead and 60 injured in Christian enclave of largest city in North

 A car bomb attack in a Christian enclave of Kano, the largest city in mainly-Muslim Northern Nigeria, has heightened religious and ethnic tensions throughout the country.

At least 25 people have been killed and at least 60 others injured, following the 18th March suicide bomb attack in a bus station in the Christian district of Sabon Gari. The bus station is primarily used by passengers heading for the mostly Christian South of the country. Five buses were destroyed, one reported to be full of people.

No group has yet claimed responsibility. The manner of attack is, however, similar to previous ones by the Islamist Boko Haram group. Its scale prompted Christian, Muslim and political leaders to urge the federal government to take urgent measures to avert a major crisis.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and its main Muslim counterpart Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI (Society for the Victory of Islam) in separate reactions expressed deep concern. JNI’s President, the Sultan of Sokoto is spiritual leader of Nigeria’s 70 million Muslims and has huge power and influence.

The country’s two religious leaders noted the Kano suicide attack was capable of threatening the unity of Nigeria, if such attacks continue.



Copyright 2013 World Watch Monitor

Friday, March 22, 2013

Libyan human-rights official flees country after death threats

Attacks, detentions and arson continue to pressure Christian minority

The head of the Libyan Parliament’s Human Rights Committee has resigned and fled to London, saying he’s received death threats. Hassan Al Amin, prominent for his long opposition to the Gaddafi regime, recently spoke out against armed gangs and militias in his Misrata area. His self-imposed exile comes as hostilities against Libya’s Christian minority, many by armed groups in the east, have increased in recent months.

On March 14, in Benghazi, eastern Libya, as-yet publicly unidentified arsonists set fire to the main Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church. Pictures - notably by Libya’s Herald (‘The New Independent Libya Daily’) - show the windows of the church blackened by smoke. No casualties were reported, but reports say the fire produced more damage inside the two-storey building.

Witnesses of this second targeting of the church in recent weeks said they suspected the arsonists were militia members. On Feb. 28, armed men had attacked Rev. Paula Isaac, a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and his assistant. The Libyan foreign ministry has condemned the attack on church and the aggression towards the cleric and his assistant by ‘the irresponsible armed men’, AFP news agency reported.

There is growing pressure on the Christian community in a country where more than 97 percent of the 6.5 million inhabitants are Muslims. However, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers come from neighboring countries such as Egypt, many of them Christians from its large Coptic community. Other Christians in Libya are tiny numbers of American, European and other expatriate workers.

The lack of freedom of religion in Libya was notorious under the rule of the late President Muammar Gaddafi. During his 42 years’ regime, the situation for Christians was described by human rights groups as extremely harsh. His greatly feared secret police imposed severe restrictions on Christian organizations and their activities. Distribution of Christian literature was banned and evangelism was criminalized.

The fall of Gaddafi’s regime, following the 2011 popular uprising, did not bring any significant change. The tiny minority of Christians continue to experience various forms of pressure, mainly from armed groups. In its 2013 report, Human Rights Watch pointed out the failure of Libya's now-governing General National Congress, elected in July 2012, to disband armed groups responsible for numerous abuses across the country.

‘‘Non-Libyans from sub-Saharan Africa, mainly migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to abuse, facing harassment, arrests, ill-treatment in detention, forced labor and no regulated access to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’’.

Attacks against religious minorities since Gaddafi lost his grip on power started in October 2011, and have intensified.



Copyright 2013 World Watch Monitor

Beijing Shouwang Church Continues With Its Outdoor Worship Services despite Police Arrests and Harassment

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) -- The extraordinary battle between the Chinese authorities and the Beijing Shouwang Church (shouwang means "to keep watch", is continuing unabated with the embattled Chinese House Church, the biggest of about 3,000 of such congregations in the city, holding its latest outdoor worship service of 2013.
Members of the Shouwang Church during an outdoor worship service

This evangelical House Church group, were kicked out of their previous location, a restaurant, nearly two years ago, when the landlord of the venue was ordered by the authorities to cancel their lease.

In a posting on Facebook (, a member of the beleaguered church, which has been forced to change headquarters more than 20 times, and was prevented from buying or renting a church building, shared about their latest "illegal" gathering.

The message said, "Dear brothers and sisters:
"Peace in the Lord! On this past Sunday, we held the eleventh outdoor worship service of 2013. It was a cloudy day with haze. As far as we know, two sisters were taken to be detained at a hotel separately on Friday and Saturday, and at least nineteen believers were taken away from locations near the platform or from their homes.
More than 100 church members were taken away when they tried to hold an outdoor service

"Some of them were released soon after they were taken away, and the rest of them were detained at three police stations, including Zhongguancun Street police station. They all got released around noon on Sunday.

"We have held outdoor service for nearly two years now. Although we don't know how much longer this journey will take, we believe that what we have experienced in this journey, with the permission of God, is not in vain."

The message concluded with, "Peace be to the brothers,[a] and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible." (Ephesians 6:23-24)
The church was founded in 1993 by Jin Tianming, a chemical engineering graduate of Tsinghua University. Since then, the number of its members has increased from 10 to 1,000 as of June 2011.

To start with, the Shouwang Church's services are conducted at members' homes or in rented conference rooms; its other activities include 40 biblical reading groups, choir practice and catechism. Shouwang members typically belong to the middle and upper classes, and include professors, doctors, lawyers, students and even Party members.

Not even a snowstorm was able
to stop this pastor preaching
Like other house churches, the Shouwang Church has been subject to constant harassment by the Chinese authorities, who disapprove of religious groups that are not subject to state control.

The only state-sanctioned Protestant Church officially allowed in China is the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or TSPM, but the House Church Movement, including the Shouwang Church, refuses to register with what they consider an atheistic government and so are considered by the government to be illegal.

The House Churches claim that registration brings government restrictions on evangelism, Sunday School, baptizing teens and children and other activities. In addition, ChinaAid's founder and president, Bob Fu, says government-appointed leaders, many of whom are Communist Party members, are at the helm of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

Because of their location in the capital city of China, the Shouwang Church appears to have been especially singled out by the authorities who have tried to shut them down, but despite constant arrests, they have so far failed.

Persecution of this particular church intensified in the context of the general 2011 crackdown on dissidents, following an announcement by church leaders that they would begin holding Sunday prayer meetings in public, if they were not allowed to acquire premises.

As of June 2011, several dozen Shouwang followers were detained every week and forced to sign a disavowal of their spiritual leader before being released, and six church leaders were placed under house arrest at that time.

According to the German weekly Die Zeit, on one occasion, Beijing police used around 4,500 officers to provide surveillance of Zhongguancun Square and of the homes of about 500 church members, to prevent the church from congregating, but despite this, they are still meeting and being arrested.

"The Chinese Communist Party is always afraid of any form of organization independent from the control of the central government," said Mark Shan, news analyst for ChinaAid, a group that monitors religious freedom and has chronicled Shouwang Church's struggles.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another Christian Convert Faces Possible Deportation to Iran

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SWEDEN (ANS) -- Iranian Christian convert Parvaneh Sarabadi was forced to leave Iran due to severe harassment and mental pressure.

Parvaneh Sarabadi
According to a story by Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, Sarabadi left the country illegally and eventually arrived in Sweden. Despite all the hardship she went through in Iran, she is now about to be deported right back there.

Sarabadi converted from Islam to Christianity with her husband around two years ago. She told Mohabat News that after they trusted Christ, one of their relatives who works for the Islamic regime and has government support, found out about their faith and eventually killed her husband in a conflict.

Mohabat News reported Sarabadi said that her husband's murderer also subjected her to physical harassment, sexual abuse and severe mental pressure. Having no one to support her, and knowing that her testimony would not be accepted in the Islamic judicial system of Iran, she was forced to leave the country against her will. After many difficulties sought asylum in Sweden.

Sarabadi soon began ministering in a local church in the city where she was living. However, Mohabat News said, despite confirmation from the church regarding her claim, and the support of a number of human rights advocacy groups, her asylum application was turned down by the Swedish Immigration Board Office. She faces deportation back to Iran.

She is currently being held police detention. Mohabat News said on Feb. 15, she was put on a plane heading to Iran, but when she as well as other passengers objected, the pilot said he wouldn't fly the aircraft if she was on board. The police officers then took her back to detention "and treated her badly as if she were a criminal."

In addition to collecting signatures for a petition supporting Sarabadi, Mohabat News said a group of social activists also held protests and announced that according to international law, she should be released and be granted her rights as a religious and political refugee. One of the many protests held in her support took place on Feb. 15.

The protest was held in partnership with the church of Falun. Mohabat News said a number of Sarabadi's friends and supporters gathered in front of the police detention center in Falun. Another group held a protest in front of the immigration office in Stockholm, expressing their objection to the decision of Immigration authorities regarding Sarabadi's potential deportation.

Mohabat News reported Sarabadi's lawyer said he is following up on her case and going through the legal process to annul the Immigration Board's decision and request that they review her case again.

Mohabat News reported the lawyer said, "I think the support of all media, refugee and human rights advocacy organizations is necessary and sincerely ask for their help. Publicizing Parvaneh's situation through the media, especially in Europe, the advocacy of human rights organizations, as well as protests in support of Parvaneh's refugee claim can be of great help."

Mohabat News commented, "Considering the brutal treatment of the Islamic regime of Iran towards religious and political dissidents, and the death sentence for Christian converts who are apostates in the Iranian regime's eyes, it is clear that deporting religious and political asylum seekers to Iran can put their lives at risk. This is why many social and political activists put all their efforts into stopping the deportation of asylum seekers to Iran."

Mohabat News said according to human rights activists, a large multi-city protest drawing thousands was held in Sweden on March 9 2013, against the inhuman situation of asylum seekers and refugees in the country and the harsh measures taken by Swedish police to deport them.

Five Lives Lost in Attack on Christian Area of Northern Nigeria

Suspected Muslim Fulani gunmen target funeral where Christians were gathered

By Dan Wooding, who was born in Northern Nigeria
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

ADUWAN, NIGERIA (ANS) -- Christian children fleeing from gunmen saved their lives by hiding among the rock formations towering over the eastern side of this northern village, but a six-month-old baby and a 13-year-old girl never got the chance.
Yacham Ayuba, 20, was one of five Christians shot to death in Aduwan village, Kaduna state

According to Morning Star News, the infant, Alexander Blessed, and the girl, Happiness Adamu, were the youngest of five people from five churches who were slain. Christians were still gathered in and about a home where a funeral for the village chief had taken place in the predominantly Muslim state of Kaduna when, under cover of darkness on a Saturday night (Feb. 23), marauding, black-clad gunmen arrived from the west and began firing.

"Eleven Christians were hospitalized with wounds, including Martha Blessed, who was shot as she tried to protect her infant son. Bullets broke both legs of another 13-year-old Christian girl, Gloria Livinus, of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Aduwan," said the Morning Star News story.

"The raid came as a shock as area Christians had been living without enmity toward anyone, said John Audi, 45-year-old grandson of the village chief and a member of St. Patrick's church."

He told Morning Star News, "We were all scattered, and some that were shot were crying. We all ran for cover where we believed we could avoid being hit by the bullets."
Happiness Adamu, 13, was known as a brilliant, committed, hard-working church member

Witnesses reportedly said the gunmen spoke in Fulani dialect, but church leaders said the area had been free of the land and property conflicts that have marked relations between Muslim, ethnic Fulanis and predominantly Christian tribes. Islamic extremist groups have increasingly incited Fulani Muslims to attack Christian areas, and witnesses reportedly said the assailants carried sophisticated weapons.

Area church leaders questioned how the shooting could have gone on for three hours without response from authorities in a north-central state that has been blanketed with military security forces to counteract terrorist violence.

"This village was attacked for three hours, yet no help came to our people here," said the Rt. Rev. Danlami Bello, Bishop of the First African Church, Kafanchan Diocese, whose headquarters are in Aduwan. "These attacks have gone unhindered without security agencies coming to the scenes of the attacks to assist Christian victims."

As did others, he suspected a strong religious element to the attack, added the news story.

"There is no doubt that this attack, like many others on Christian communities in northern Nigeria, had religious bearings," he said. "There is this desire by Muslim leaders in Nigeria to Islamize the country by force; hence the attacks are aimed at forcing Christians into submitting to Islam."

The Rev. Casmir Yabo, vicar of the First African Church Mission in Aduwan, told Morning Star News that church members who hid in farmlands west of the village reported seeing about 10 assailants leaving after the attack.

"We believe that the attackers are Muslim Fulani gunmen who invaded and attacked this village. I wept as I saw corpses of the five killed for no justifiable reason," said Yabo. "The impact of the attack is that at the moment our members are scared of coming to churches for worship services."

The attack came two days after a similar slaughter of 10 people in village near Jos in Plateau state.

Besides hit-and-run attacks by Fulani Muslims, Christians in Nigeria have also been targeted by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group in its effort to destabilize the government and impose sharia (Islamic law) nationwide.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria's population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and reside primarily in the north. Nigerians practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.

Attempted Bombing

Raymond Markus, 31-year-old uncle to Happiness Adamu, told Morning Star News that the villagers had no reason to expect the onslaught.

"We were all gathered here while prayers were being said when suddenly, we were attacked," he said. "We all ran in different directions. We are still in shock about this attack."

He said that his slain niece was a faithful servant of Christ.

"It is a painful thing to lose such a brilliant teenager," Markus said. "She was an obedient child and was committed in church activities; a very hard working church member."

Markus took a Morning Star News correspondent to the auditorium of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in the village, where the gunmen unsuccessfully tried to set off a bomb blast. A chemical substance used to make the bomb remained on the walls of the church building; it left cracks that could collapse the structure at any moment.
Alice Saul, at the grave of her son, Felix Saul, killed at age 22 by the suspected
Fulani Muslim gunmen

Alice Saul, 45-year-old member of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Rebok village, lost her 22-year-old son, Felix Saul, in the attack. She said he was a final-year student at a public high school in Wadon village and a member of the church choir.

Also killed were Theresa Bulus, 35, a member of the Baptist Church in the town of Kagaro, and Yacham Ayuba, 20, a member of the First African Church Mission, in Madobiya village.

Christians injured in the attack included Joshua Kazah, Kazah Bitrus, Shagari Bako, Ahuwan Thomas, Cecilia Elisha, Denise Maliki and Stephen Alpha, sources said.

"At the end of the attack, which lasted about three hours, five Christians from different churches who had congregated here for prayers for the deceased had died, while 11 others sustained injuries," said Audi.

Bishop Bello, the story continued, called for sustained prayer for Christians in northern Nigeria, and he urged Christians worldwide to call on their governments to assist the Nigerian government to defend against such attacks.

Vicar Yabo said the rock formations protecting the village's eastern flank saved many lives.

"One miraculous thing is that the rocky hills on the eastern part of this village became a place of refuge for those who escaped from the attack," he said. "Even children who had never climbed these hills before suddenly were able to escape by climbing the hills at night."

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Accused of Blasphemy: Sawan Masih Is Being Held In Police Custody As Christian Community Agonizes Over Savage Violence

Some 200 homes and two churches were burned to the ground following his arrest

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A 35-year-old Pakistani Christian street sweeper, Sawan Masih, who has been accused of blasphemy by a close friend, is now awaiting the next move in his case as many local Christians are now are trying to survive in make-shift tents.

Sawan Masih
His case has caused outraged Pakistani Christians to take to the streets of Lahore (and other cities in the country,) to protest against the terrible violence they have suffered following a blasphemy accusation against Sawan Masih.

The Christian demonstrators denounced the burning of about 200 Christian homes and two churches by a frenzied Muslim mob of about 3,000, amidst claims spurred by allegations that a Christian man made remarks against the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Some of the hundreds of protesters threw stones at police, saying the government failed to adequately protect Christians, Lahore senior police official Rai Tahir.

"Tahir said video footage of the fires helped lead to the arrests of more than 150 attackers. He said charges of terrorism have been filed against the suspects," said a CNN report.
An angry mob gathered after burning Christian houses in Lahore, Pakistan

The shocking violence that tore through Lahore's Badami Bagh community on Saturday, March 9, 2013, followed the arrest of Sawan Masih, a father of three who was living with his family in this poverty-stricken Christian area of Lahore, who is now accused of blasphemy.

The complainant Imran Shahid is said to have been Sawan's close friend during the past eight years. On the basis of his complaint, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against Sawan at the Badami Bagh Police Station.

"Initially the police held his father, Chaman Masih, and beat him severely, but he was then released after his constant denial of the accusations. Following these events, Sawan was finally handed over to the police on Friday, March 8th - a day prior to the attack," said a source.

LEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development) Chief Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill said, "Christians are feeling insecure in Pakistan and remain always under threats of a religious mindset, especially due to the misuse of blasphemy laws against them."

A Pakistani demonstrator torches Christian's belongings in Lahore during a protest over a blasphemy row
He went on to say, "Almost every person I have talked to condemned the brutal terrorist attack on Christians."

Mr. Gill said that the Punjab and Federal governments have announced a fund for compensation and rehabilitation for those who lost their homes, and are now living in terrible conditions in tents in the area.

"There are many who blame Punjab and some say the people behind this incident are 'Land Mafia.' Others say that this violence was a failure of police and the establishment," said Mr. Gill.

"According to a review of the first incident report (FIR) No 112/13, there is no mention or valid allegation of blasphemy or of the agitation of Muslims," Mr. Will went on to say. "The FIR registered Under Section 295 C PPC at the Badami Bagh Police Station in Lahore, executed the report hastily and without proper and fair investigation, as has happened in almost every blasphemy case.

"Saleem Masih, Brother of Sawan Masih, said that his brother was innocent and that he had not committed blasphemy."

Gill said that during a visit he made to the accused home, his sister wept bitterly and asking about her brother who has a wife and three children.
Chaman Masih weeps as he shares his story

"His wife is also worried and weeping about her husband and said that the children who are asking about their father," he added. "Sawan Masih's father, Chaman Masih, was also weeping while explaining this tragedy, and he says it should not be happened with his Christian (Sharika) relatives because he thinks they will taunt his children.

"Christians are feeling insecure in Pakistan and remain always under threats of a religious mindset, especially due to the misuse of blasphemy laws against them. This tragedy has created an alarming situation for Pakistani Christians. They are considering their new generation's future and their safety. After losing their homes, they wonder who will construct their broken, horrified, terrified minds and hearts.

New Province for Christians?

"The solution to this tense situation is for the government to allow the demand of a separate province for Pakistani Christians as the Pakistan Christian Congress has been demanding for the last 20 years. This notion of a separate province is as important as the presence of Christians in Pakistan.

"This is not due to only political matters but this is due to clash of faiths. At the moment, only the Muslims have a right to say whatever they wish to say and preach, but Christians have no such right of religious liberty and expression of religion and thought and freedom to preach and teach according to our Biblical faith."

LEAD and PCC (Pakistan Christian Congress) have now requested that all Christian political, religious and civil society leaders raise their voices with the Pakistan Christian Congress for the establishment of a separate province for Christians, "where," said Mr. Gill, "we can live without fear from the majority's faith and concepts."

Statement by Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN on the Colossal Loss of Life in the Recent Terrorist Bombing in Kano, Nigeria

Members of a local Islamic group sit after their arrest in Kano,
 Nigeria 28/07/2009. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

NEW YORK, March 20, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by 'Laolu Akande, Executive Director, Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN:

On Monday March 18 suspected Boko Haram terrorists struck again in the ancient town of Kano.

It was not their first attack on that historic city, rich in true Nigerian traditions, but this attack has now left about 75 people dead, according to latest news report from the Nigerian press. This is by far one of the most devastating casualty rates in a single terrorist attack in the country.

Unique in this attack is the targeting, by the suicide bomber, of a mass transportation bus in Kano. While many details are still emerging, it is clear that the perpetrators of terrorism in northern Nigeria remain undeterred, despite some ill-conceived demands for a general amnesty for the Boko Haram group.

True to their certain imprint, style, and mission the terrorists chose to locate this latest attack in the Sabon Gari area of Kano, where Christians from the southern part of Nigeria are mostly based.

The Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN, which only recently concluded a meeting and a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria with some of the victims of Boko Haram terrorists is appalled by this attack in Kano.

(Earlier this month on March 3, at that meeting, CANAN leaders announced a donation of $50,000 to victims of Boko Haram terror, who have been left completely sidelined in the ensuing national review of terrorist activities in Nigeria.)

What we are now witnessing is a gradual but consistent imposition of a regime of fear on law-abiding Nigerians including Christians and non-Christians alike.

When churches were being targeted we cried out; when Christians were being singled out we cried out; when they went for healthcare workers and vaccinators; we cried out! And now they are attacking the public mass transportation system in their persisting reign of impunity!

It is now clear that this gang of terrorists are also set to attack commerce and the socio-economic transactions of the people!

We do not despise the very onerous role of the Nigerian Military in their attempts to confront the terrorists, but the federal government still has a long way to go in dealing effectively and efficiently with the terrorists.

CANAN today is restating its demand for greater international involvement in dealing with this threat to global peace, and asking again for the designation of Boko Haram and all other terrorist groups in Nigeria as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, FTO.

We note that the US AFRICOM commanders have themselves publicly assessed the clear threat posed by Boko Haram to US and western interests. CANAN is also awaiting the submission of a report from the State and Defense departments as ordered in January by the US Congress and President Barack Obama about the activities, operations, and funding of Boko Haram.

The time to act against this menacing threat is now, the US government should not wait. According to the outgoing US AFRICOM Commander, General Carter F. Ham, "If pressure on Boko Haram decreases, they could expand their capabilities and reach to pose a more significant threat to U.S. interests."

We don't want another Mali or another Benghazi!

Survivors of Muslim rampage in Pakistan need help

(Image courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Pakistan (CAM/MNN) ― Christian Aid Mission has sent emergency assistance to help displaced families whose homes and businesses were torched by an angry Muslim mob in Lahore, Pakistan, March 9.

According to reports, many of the now homeless Christians in Lahore are living in the streets and are desperate for food and other necessities, and fearful of retaliation for the protests that followed the attacks.

Hundreds of Christians were left homeless in the wake of the March 9 fiery riots. A local church-planting ministry assisted by Christian Aid began hand-delivering food packages and water to victims the day after the attack. Christian Aid sent funds to the ministry days after the attacks, but much more is needed to assist men, women, and children who have lost everything.

Some 150 people were arrested in connection with the 3,000-strong Muslim rampage through Joseph Colony, in which every Christian home and business in the community was set ablaze. More than 100 homes, over a dozen stores, and two churches were destroyed in the carnage. No injuries or deaths were reported.

The riots stemmed from an argument earlier in the week between two friends: one Christian, the other Muslim, and from allegations that the Christian made derogatory comments about the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The Christian was arrested and charged with blasphemy--a crime that carries a death sentence in Pakistan. As word of the incident spread, enraged Muslims turned their fury on Joseph Colony, a nominal Christian enclave where the accused man and his family live. Most of the residents had already fled by the time rioters began systematically moving through the neighborhood, burning every building that belonged to a Christian and leaving Muslim homes untouched.

Christian Aid's South Asia director has been in almost daily communication with the local Pakistani ministry. The leader e-mailed photographs of the destruction and sent out an urgent message Tuesday saying,"The Christian community here is in dire need of prayer."

In the appeal he wrote,"Christians were threatened to leave their houses; otherwise they would be burned alive. They were frightened and left, only to stand by and watch as their homes were looted and burned by the unscrupulous elements. The local police stood by and watched silently. The whole locality became a heap of rubble. It was turned to ashes within a few hours, while the local police watched. Over 120 families have become homeless and are sitting in the open sky."

Christians are killed every day for the sake of the Gospel in Pakistan, India, and other countries in South Asia. In this case, however, the eruption of violence did not result from Christians who were proselytizing or gathering for worship.

Speculation persists that the large-scale attack was driven more by political and economic gain than for religious motivations. Authorities are investigating whether extremist Muslim businessmen in the area used the blasphemy charge as an opportunity to instigate violence against the entire Christian neighborhood so their land could be seized and turned into commercial development.

Christians across Pakistan followed with their own angry protest and called for the government to provide equal protection for all of its citizens.

A similar incident with more tragic results took place in Pakistan in 2009 in the village of Gojra. A rumor was broadcast that pages from the Koran had been torn out and stepped on by Christians as part of a wedding ceremony in the community. Radical Muslims responded by setting fire to the Christian section of Gojra, killing eight people and destroying over 70 homes. The Pakistani government later said the rumor was unfounded and pledged to help rebuild the houses.

"It is hard for those of us who live in the Western world to understand what it means to be persecuted because you bear the name of Christ," said Christian Aid's South Asia director." We have the freedom to exercise our faith. But for most of our brothers and sisters in the world, it is not so."

Christian Aid worked with an area ministry after the Gojra incident to provide trunks and suitcases for affected families so they could store salvaged belongings.

The ministry also responded to the 7.6-magnitude earthquake in October 2005 that killed nearly 75,000 people. Christian Aid supplied funds to a ministry partner for the rebuilding of 300 small houses in the mountainous Kashmir region.

As rebuilding efforts begin in Joseph Colony, Christian Aid may have the opportunity to assist these families through the ministry they are helping in Lahore. Food and water are the most immediate needs, however. A week's worth of emergency supplies costs approximately $100 for a typical Pakistani family.

Prayer requests:
For Christians in Joseph Colony to be encouraged by the prayers and support of their brothers and sisters around the world
That the Christians will not retaliate in anger and that they will use this opportunity to show Christ´s love to their enemies
For the authorities in Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws that are often used as a means of revenge to resolve interpersonal disputes.