Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (July 11, 2011)
1. Muslim Mobs in Egypt Attack Christian Homes, Threaten Priest
Two separate anti-Christian incidents break relative calm in country. By Wayne King
JERUSALEM, June 27 (Compass Direct News) � Enraged Muslims burned down several Christian-owned homes, surrounded a church building and threatened to kill a priest last week in two unrelated incidents in Upper Egypt. On Saturday (June 25) in Awlad Khalaf village, just outside Sohag, 240 miles (386 kilometers) south of Cairo, local Muslims attacked Coptic Christian Wahib Halim Atteyah, robbed him of 32,000 Saudi Riyals (US$8,530), and bulldozed his home along with the other structures on his property, according to local media. The group then raided six other Coptic-owned homes and burned them to the ground. Villagers had begun circulating a rumor that Atteyah was constructing a church building on his property. Atteyah and another Coptic Christian, Ihab Na�eem, were later arrested for allegedly repelling the attack with firearms, a charge Atteyah said was untrue. Two Muslims accused of setting houses on fire also have been arrested. In a previous incident on Thursday (June 23) in Beni-Ahmed al-Gharbiya village near the town of Minya, 136 miles (220 kilometers) south of Cairo, a group of Salafi Muslims surrounded the Church of St. George and demanded that the Rev. Gorgy Thabet leave the village or they would kill him and hold Muslim prayers in the church building. Security police kept the mob from breaking into the church building, then removed the priest from the village. It was not known if there were any injuries in the incident.
2. Chinese Authorities Expel Shouwang Church Member from Beijing
Christian detained at market, sent to parents� home in Shandong Province. Special to Compass Direct News
BEIJING, June 29 (Compass Direct News) � Chinese authorities detained a member of one of Beijing�s largest unregistered churches on Monday (June 27) and sent him to his home town in Shandong Province, sources said. Three officers from Beijing�s Dongsheng police station detained the Shouwang church member at about 5 p.m. while he was at a market to get a mobile phone fixed, they said. They handed him over to a Shandong office based in the capital, which sent him to his hometown that evening. He was the second member of the church to be expelled from the city since authorities allegedly compelled the owners of the church�s rented facility to stop leasing to the congregation in April, forcing them to meet outdoors the past three months. The Shouwang member expelled on Monday notified the church yesterday that his identity card was confiscated, and he was warned not to return to Beijing before July 1, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. The first church member detained was arrested on May 8; he had already been forced to quit his job as an instructor at an international school for children under 3 years old, and as he had lived at the school office, he also lost his lodging. In a press statement, Shouwang church leaders said yesterday, �The forced expatriation by Dongsheng Police Station and Haidian Public Security Bureau has constituted a complete contempt for and a flagrant violation of the law, in effect depriving a citizen of any guarantee of the most basic of foundational existential rights.�
3. Beleaguered Chinese Church to Provide Legal Aid to Members
Government continues harassment, propaganda campaign, assisted by Three-Self churches. By Sarah Page
DUBLIN, June 30 (Compass Direct News) � Leaders of the troubled Shouwang house church in Beijing have established a legal committee to assist church members facing arrest or house arrest, the loss of employment or homes and forced relocation to their home towns. The unregistered church has described the forced relocation of one church member to Shandong province as �a flagrant violation of the law,� and Shouwang�s leaders last week formally established a committee of legal experts within the church charged with collecting evidence of �citizens of faith being forced to leave their jobs or being evicted because of their religious belief.� For the past three months, Shouwang church members have committed to meet in a public square in Zhongguancun, northwestern Beijing, in response to repeated attempts by the government to deny them access to a permanent worship venue. On Sunday (June 26), police arrested 15 people who showed up at Shouwang�s designated outdoor worship venue, including several from other house churches. Many church leaders remained under permanent house arrest, while scores of church members were detained in homes or hotel rooms, according to a China Aid Association (CAA) report. The CAA also claimed that officials pressured the management of the Beijing office of World Vision to dismiss employee and church member Xia Xiao, a claim that World Vision refutes. �World Vision has fired no one and has come under no pressure to fire anyone,� World Vision spokesperson Cynthia Colin said in a press statement. �The staff member in question has in fact been working as normal out of her office this week.�
4. Messianic Christian Couple in Israel Accused of Converting Minor
Ultra-Orthodox Jews harass, threaten pair even though 16-year-old has not converted. By Wayne King
JERUSALEM, July 2 (Compass Direct News) � A hard-line Jewish ultra-Orthodox group in Israel that singles out Jewish Christians known as Messianic Jews for harassment and abuse is taking aim at a couple it claims is manipulating minors into becoming Christians. The Yad L�Achim group this week placed leaflets around the home of Serge and Naama Kogen, 37 and 42 respectively, in Mevasseret Zion, a suburban community located just west of Jerusalem. The same week someone took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper giving the couple�s address and telling residents they were part of a missionary group �targeting� the community. The Kogens are native Israelis and hence not part of any missionary group. The advertisement invited the public to a protest planned against the Kogens, and on Sunday (June 26), about 20 of the group�s supporters demonstrated outside the couple�s home. The protests came after Yad L�Achim lost a court case against the Kogens and their congregational leader, Asher Intrater. The group had accused them of �proselytizing� minors. During the protest, a distraught 16-year-old girl, the alleged target of the couple�s �missionary� efforts, said all of Yad L�Achim�s claims were false. Donna Lubofsky maintains that she has never converted to Christianity. She wanted to speak at the protest to give her side of what happened, but the organizers wouldn�t let her, she said. �They are all liars, all liars! Ask them, why won�t they let me speak?� Donna told Compass at the protest. �They won�t let me speak because what they are saying is untrue. They never tried to get me to believe. They are just good people.�
5. Pastor�s Father Beaten Unconscious in Attack in Rajasthan, India
Hindu extremists threaten to kill church leader in spite of pact to stop assaults. By Mahruaii Sailo
NEW DELHI, July 5 (Compass Direct News) � Hindu extremists in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan have threatened to kill a pastor after beating his family and violating an agreement to stop attacking them, the pastor said. Pastor Shantilal Ninama of Believers Church told Compass that the Hindu extremists beat his 65-year-old father until he fell unconscious in one of the attacks last month. On the evening of June 8, after agreeing to do no further harm to Pastor Ninama and his family in exchange for him dropping police charges he�d filed over a previous attack, the enraged Hindu extremists stormed into his home and began beating and stoning his father, sister, wife and three children, he said. As the pastor sought police help, his father fell unconscious and his wife and two of his children ran out into the darkness. Another daughter hid beneath a bed, and his sister escaped and hid in a valley. The Rev. Prabhatkar Malladi, secretary of the Udaipur Diocese in Rajasthan, told Compass that the extremists were threatening to kill the pastor. �The villagers are not allowing any Christian leaders to enter into the village to meet Pastor Ninama, but we are taking necessary steps to help the pastor, and one advocate is now taking up the case,� he said.
6. Pakistan�s Christian Sanitation Workers Swept into Societal Gutter
�Sweeper� leader faces suspension, criminal charges; for others, disease, death � and murder.
LAHORE, Pakistan, July 7 (Compass Direct News) � While one Christian sanitation worker here has been suspended and criminal charges filed against him for objecting to discrimination against fellow workers, another was killed the same month for not tending to a shopkeeper�s command fast enough. Anayat Masih Sahotra, who has worked as a street sweeper for Lahore�s Solid Waste Management (SWM) department for 24 years, said he is facing baseless charges of forgery and fraud from his employers because of his work as a labor leader for area sweepers, who are nearly all Christians. He was suspended and accused of the crimes on May 14 after he asked SWM Managing Director Wasim Ajmal Chaudhry to fulfill a promise to make 400 Christian workers regular employees with full benefits, he said. The deep, culturally-rooted disparagement Christian sanitation workers suffer was apparent in another incident in May. Abbas Masih, 36, was cleaning the streets on May 21 when he was murdered for not picking up trash quickly enough, human rights advocates said. Contempt for sweepers is rooted deeply in cultural history, the result of a merging of Brahmanic Hinduism�s ritual impurity with Islamic ceremonial uncleanness in regard to sweepers � almost all of whom were Hindu �untouchables� who converted to Christianity in the late 19th century. Pakistani officials appear to want to keep Christians in this degrading occupation. Several job advertisements from government departments clearly state that sweeper candidates must be non-Muslim; some even specify that they must be Christians.
7. Cuban Pastor, Family Arrive in U.S. after Suffering under Regime
Authorities imprisoned, fined church planter who fought for religious freedom. By David Miller
MIAMI, July 8 (Compass Direct News) � An evangelical pastor once jailed by the regime of Fidel Castro arrived in the United States from Cuba yesterday with his family under a special resettlement program for political refugees. The Rev. Carlos Lamelas, 50, his wife Uramis and two daughters landed at Miami International Airport Thursday evening (July 7) on a direct flight from Havana. Lamelas, who once served as national president of his denomination in Cuba, was granted asylum in the United States due to persecution he has endured for more than five years at the hands of Cuban authorities. On Feb. 20, 2006, security officials arrested Lamelas on charges of �human trafficking,� but those close to him said police targeted him because he had challenged the Castro regime on religious liberty issues. Four months after his arrest, Lamelas was unexpectedly released, and in December of 2006 the state prosecuting attorney recommended acquittal on the human trafficking charge. Later that month, however, the court convicted Lamelas on a previously unannounced charge of �falsifying documents� and fined him 1,000 Cuban pesos (US$45). Lamelas said the resettlement news came as a shock, albeit a welcome one. �For our part, we have been open to the will of God, and we know He will take us where we can best serve Him,� he wrote.
8. Imprisoned Lao Pastor �Extremely Weak,� Family Says
Two church leaders in prison; conditions improve for expelled Katin Christians. By Sarah Page
DUBLIN, July 8 (Compass Direct News) � A Lao pastor imprisoned six months ago for holding a �secret meeting� has lost weight under harsh prison conditions and is extremely weak, according to his family. Police arrested Wanna and fellow pastor and inmate Yohan, both identified only by a single name, on Jan. 4 along with several other Christians in central Laos�s Khammouan Province. Prison authorities have repeatedly told the men that they will �walk free� as soon as they sign documents renouncing their faith, advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) said in a press statement today. Wanna is the pastor of an unregistered church in Nakoon village, Hinboun district, while Yohan pastors a similar church in nearby Tonglar village. Hinboun district police arrested Wanna, Yohan and nine others at gunpoint on Jan. 4 and charged them with holding a �secret meeting� after they celebrated Christmas without prior approval. Police then loaded the Christians onto a truck and took them to Khammouan provincial prison in Takkhet City. In Katin village in Ta-Oih district, Saravan Province, conditions for a group of Christians expelled from the village last year have vastly improved since the beginning of the dry season in February, when the group resorted to begging for food. �They�re still living at the edge of the jungle, but they�re in good health, with a good supply of rainwater and food from the jungle,� an HRWLRF spokesman said. �Each family is now growing rice on a few hectares of land near their settlement. But they will need a supply of rice every month until their first harvest matures in mid-September.� �
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