Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (June 6, 2011)
1. Muslim Extremists Burn Church Building, Homes in Nigeria
At least 35 Christians have fled Plateau state town after attack. By Obed Minchakpu
DENGI, Nigeria, May 16 (Compass Direct News) � Christians from a local Evangelical Church Winning All congregation of this Plateau state town have been displaced after Muslim extremists set their church building and some homes on fire last month. The Rev. Ishaku Danyok of the church told Compass that the April 29 incident occurred after Muslims approached Christian music shop owner Gabriel Kiwase and told him that his music was disturbing them as they said their prayers. The young Christian man quietly switched off the music, and 20 minutes after the Muslims left, they returned and burned down the music shop, then set fire to the pastor�s house and the property of five other Christians, Danyok said. The pastor�s family, his wife and four children were left homeless, he said. Christians from his church, a Roman Catholic parish and Deeper Life Bible Church in Dengi town lost property in the attack, he added. Danyok said that as a result of the destruction, most members of his church have fled the town, reducing attendance at services to 50. �We currently worship in the destroyed church building with no roof to shield us from the sun and the rains,� he said.
2. Kidnappers Allegedly Called Murdered Iraqi Christian�s Employer
Murderers said to have told contractor to fire Chaldean because he was Christian. By Damaris Kremida
ISTANBUL, May 18 (Compass Direct News) � A pastor in Kirkuk, Iraq told Compass that sources close to a Christian reportedly kidnapped, tortured and murdered by al Qaeda over the weekend said the kidnappers had pressured his employer to fire him because he was a Christian. The body of Chaldean Christian Ashur Issa Yaqub was found on Monday (May 16) with marks of severe torture and mutilation. He had worked as a construction worker from the northeastern city of Kirkuk, and al Qaeda members had demanded $100,000 for his release, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). �It seems that the contractor that Ashur was working for was told he had to fire Ashur because he was Christian, but he refused,� said the pastor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. �Because the contractor was rich and they couldn�t do anything to him, they kidnapped Ashur, and unfortunately they killed him.� The 29-year-old Yaqub, whose surname is also spelled Jacob, is survived by his wife and three children. Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako told Compass by phone from Rome that he was shocked to get the news of Yaqub�s death. While noting that the murder was unusually brutal, the archbishop said it was probably the work of criminal opportunists trying to make money, and that Yaqub was not necessarily targeted as a Christian. �It was horrible,� Sako said. �When I heard it, I was ripped. He was kidnapped for money. That happens, but kidnappers don�t usually torture and kill this way. This wasn�t human �this is like they were beasts.�
3. Pakistani Muslims Kidnap Christian Girl over Brother�s �Affair�
Religious tensions high in village where influential family has threatened further retaliation. By Murad Khan
LAHORE, Pakistan, May 19 (Compass Direct News) � An influential Muslim family in a village near Sheikhupura is holding a 17-year-old Christian girl hostage because one of her brothers allegedly eloped with a woman from the Muslim family. The Muslim parents have threatened further retaliation against the Christian family if they do not produce their daughter, whom they have also threatened to publicly shoot dead as an �honor killing.� An area clergyman identified only as Father Emmanuel called the situation �critical,� saying it has pitted the area�s 1,800 Muslim families against its 70-to-100 Christian families and could lead to violence. Abid Masih, a welder at a factory in Sheikhupura, told Compass by telephone that the family was asleep in their home in Ghazi Minara village on Friday night (May 13) when armed Muslims belonging to the village�s influential Gujjar family arrived at their doorstep. They took him, his sister Rakhel, an uncle and a cousin to their house and beat them throughout the night in an effort to disclose the couple�s whereabouts, he said. The Muslim woman who allegedly eloped with Sajid was identified as Saleha; both are in their early 20s. Masih said that on Saturday (May 14), the Gujjars freed the three Christian men but kept Rakhel hostage in their home, and on Tuesday (May 17), they released her but forcibly took her 17-year-old sister Maryam. �They have warned us that if we approach the police, they will turn the issue into a religious matter, and the bloodshed there would make the Gojra carnage small by comparison,� he said. At least seven Christians were burned alive by Muslim mobs in Gojra after the spread of a rumor of blaspheming Islam on Aug. 1, 2009.
4. Authorities, Islamists in Egypt Stop Church from Re-Opening
Egyptian officials bow to Islamic pressure to keep Orthodox building closed. By Wayne King
CAIRO, Egypt, May 20 (Compass Direct News) � Hundreds of Muslims, angered by the prospect of a government-closed church re-opening in their neighborhood, protested outside the church yesterday, causing the provisional military authority to back away from its promise to allow Orthodox clergy to reopen it. Protestors started gathering on Thursday afternoon (May 19) outside the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Abraam in Ain Shams, a poor section of northeastern Cairo. The church was scheduled to reopen that day, but protestors surrounded the building, preventing anyone from getting into it and trapping priests who were inside. Several people were injured in fights between the Copts and the Muslims. Protestors threw rocks at each other, according a witness. One Coptic bystander was seriously injured, another witness said, when he took out a cell phone camera to record the protest and a group of Muslims surrounded and beat him. Several Copts were arrested, according to church officials. Peter Rizq, a lay minister at the church, said he, the priests and others trapped in the building found a way to sneak to safety after Muslims threatened to kill the head priest of the congregation. �He told us, �We need to go home now,�� Rizq said. �He told us we couldn�t stay any longer in the church because it would cause more problems.� The men left the church building one by one, but some of them were later arrested and charged with illegal possession of weapons, a charge Rizq said was untrue.
5. Christian Woman in Darfur, Sudan Arrested for Evangelizing
Another, mother of 2-month-old, is wounded in knife attacks. By Simba Tian
KHARTOUM, Sudan, May 24 (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, Hawa Abdalla Muhammad Saleh was arrested on May 9 in the Abu Shouk camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Al-Fashir, sources said. Abdalla has yet to be officially charged, but authorities have accused her of possessing and distributing Bibles to others in the camp. 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. In Khartoum, Omar Hassan and Amouna Ahamdi, both 27, said they fled Nyala for Khartoum in June 2010, but knife-wielding, masked assailants on May 4 attacked them after relatives learned that they had converted to Christianity. Ahamdi was injured trying to protect Hassan during the attack, he told Compass. Ahamdi 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. �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.�
6. Provincial Official in Algeria Orders Churches to Close
Christians plan to attend services this weekend despite intimidation tactics. By Damaris Kremida
ISTANBUL, May 25 (Compass Direct News) � Seven Algerian churches face closure this week after the governor of their province sent them written notice that they were operating �illegally.� The notice on Sunday (May 22) from Police Chief Ben Salma, citing a May 8 decree from the Bejaia Province governor, also states that all churches �in all parts of the country� will be closed for lack of compliance with registration regulations, but Christian leaders dismissed this assertion as the provincial official does not have nationwide authority. The May 22 notice from the governor of Bejaia Province in Kabylie region to the president of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) asserted that all churches in the province were illegal because they were unregistered. Registration is required under controversial Ordinance 06-03, but Christians report the government refuses to respond to or grant their applications for registration. The controversial law was introduced in 2006 to regulate non-Muslim worship. In 2008 the government applied measures in accordance with Ordinance 06-03 to limit the activities of non-Muslim groups, ordering the closure of 26 churches in the Kabylie region because they were not registered. No churches had been closed down since then. EPA members argue, however, that the law is impossible to implement as officials refuse to register their churches despite efforts to comply. They said authorities apply the law when they want to harass churches. �It�s always the same thing,� Mustapha Krim, president of the EPA, told Compass. �They use this law when they want to pester us.�
7. Algerian Christian Sentenced Beyond Prosecutor�s Request
Five-year prison term handed down for �insulting� Muhammad despite lack of evidence. By Damaris Kremida
ISTANBUL, May 30 (Compass Direct News) � Convicting a Christian convert for insulting the prophet of Islam, a judge in Algeria last week stunned the Christian community by sentencing him beyond what a prosecutor recommended. In Oran, 470 kilometers (292 miles) west of Algiers, a criminal court in the city�s Djamel district on Wednesday (May 25) sentenced Siaghi Krimo to a prison term of five years for giving a CD about Christianity to a neighbor who subsequently claimed he had insulted Muhammad. Krimo was also fined 200,000 Algerian dinars (US$2,760), according to Algerian news reports. The prosecutor had reportedly requested the judge sentence him to a two-year prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$690). �He gave a CD to a neighbor, and for that he has to spend five years in prison,� said the president of the Protestant Church of Algeria, Mustapha Krim, trying to contain his disbelief. Defense lawyer Mohamed Ben Belkacem told Compass that the judge�s verdict was unexpected and heavy, indicating the legal system�s prejudice against Christians. The lawyer said he plans to appeal the case. Krimo is not required to serve his prison sentence until the court hears his appeal and upholds the conviction. The court delivered its verdict the same week that the governor of the province of Bejaia ordered the closing of seven Protestant churches. Over the weekend (May 27-29) authorities did not interfere with the scheduled worship meetings in the district of Bejaia despite the order for all the churches of the area to close and threats that police could use force.
8. Police Reluctant to Prosecute Attack on Pakistan Church
Armed Muslims disrupt worship, damage altar, Bibles, cross. By Murad Khan
LAHORE, Pakistan, June 1 (Compass Direct News) � Armed Muslims disrupted the worship service of a church outside Lahore on Sunday (May 29), cursing the congregation, smashing a glass altar and desecrating Bibles and a cross, Christian leaders said. Police initially tried to protect the leader of the Muslim intruders, the nephew of a former Member of the Punjab Assembly (MPA), and instead of making arrests eventually pressured Christians to accept an apology from the accused, they said. Pastor Ashraf Masih of Numseoul Presbyterian Church in Lakhoki Kahna village told Compass that Muhammad Shoaib, nephew of former MPA Mansha Sindhu, entered the church building accompanied by four men armed with rifles and pistols and started cursing the congregation for �disturbing the peace of the area by worshipping on loudspeakers,� though the congregation was using loudspeakers only inside the church building. Police were reluctant to register a case on the incident until the pastor told police that their colleagues had witnessed the damage done to the church building, that journalists had also photographed the site, and that unless officers registered the case they would block the main road in protest. After negotiating with Christian representatives, Sindhu agreed to make Shoaib publicly apologize. A local newspaper quoted a police official as saying that Shoaib had not carried a weapon and had not desecrated Bibles. The police superintendent declined to answer calls from Compass about why the former legislator�s nephew had apologized if he was innocent and why police hadn�t registered vandalism charges.
9. Nepal Plans New Criminal Code Forbidding Evangelism
Deadline again passes for completing new constitution. By Sudeshna Sarkar
KATHMANDU, Nepal, June 2 (Compass Direct News) � Five years after it abolished Hinduism as the state religion, Nepal is working on a new criminal code forbidding a person from one faith to �convert a person or abet him to change his religion.� Article 160 of the proposed code also says no one will be allowed to do anything or behave in any way that could cause a person from a caste, community or creed to lose faith in his/her traditional religion or convert to a different religion. Offenders could be imprisoned for a maximum of five years and fined up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees (US$685). Nepal�s Christian community, which has no representation in the Council of Ministers or in parliament, was caught unaware of the new criminal law in the offing. �We have not heard of this,� said Lokmani Dhakal, general secretary of Nepal Christian Society. �We need to look into this.� Nepal last weekend failed to complete a new constitution providing for religious freedom, thanks to a protracted battle for political power. Once the only Hindu monarchy in the world and now the youngest federal republic, Nepal was to have unveiled the document by midnight on Saturday (May 28). �
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