Watchman Newsletter

Persecution Update

Steel On Steel - Donald McElvaney (December 9, 2010)

  1. Muslim Mob in Egypt Firebombs Christian Homes, Businesses

  2. Ethiopia Imprisons Christian Accused of Defacing Quran

  3. Islamic Groups in Indonesia Demonstrate against Worship in Mall

  4. Somali Teenage Girl Shot to Death for Embracing Christ

  5. Christians Fear Civilian Casualties in Burma

  6. Afghan Authorities Block Lawyer from Visiting Jailed Christian

1.    Muslim Mob in Egypt Firebombs Christian Homes, Businesses

Rumor of romance with Christian sends hundreds into destructive frenzy. By Wayne King

CAIRO, Egypt, November 29 (Compass Direct News) � Christians in a small village in southern Egypt are rebuilding their lives and homes after hundreds of Muslims rampaged through their community firebombing houses and businesses over rumors of a romantic relationship between a Christian and a Muslim. At least 23 homes and numerous businesses, all Christian-owned, were damaged or destroyed in the village of Al-Nawahid in Qena Governorate, 454 kilometers (282 miles) south of Cairo. Five people were injured, two seriously. �It has affected us in every way, financially, physically, spiritually � everything,� said Badier Magdy Demetry, 22. The attack started on the evening of Nov. 15 when a throng of hundreds of Muslims poured onto the streets chanting �God is great!� while brandishing swords, knives, meat cleavers and shooting rifles in the air, according to Ra�fat Samir, a human rights activist in Luxor. Five people were injured, according to Samir, including two 87-year-old men who suffered head injuries. The rioters were responding to a rumor that a 20-year-old Coptic man, Hussam Naweil Attallah, was romantically involved with an 18-year-old Muslim woman. Attallah knew the woman because he and his family lived next door to her. He and the woman, whose name has not been released, were detained and then handed over to police. After subjecting the young woman to a medical examination to confirm her virginity, authorities decided the two had not been intimate, and the woman was released. Egypt�s State Security Intelligence has kept Attallah in its custody, presumably for his protection. It is unclear who started a rumor about an illicit relationship, but Samir said there is a feud going on in Al-Nawahid among three families for political control of the area, and two of the families are inciting violence, using Christians in the area as pawns to depose the current mayor.

2.  Ethiopia Imprisons Christian Accused of Defacing Quran

Islamic principles govern Somali region in southern part of country. By Simba Tian

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 29 (Compass Direct News) � A Christian in Ethiopia�s southern town of Moyale who languished in jail for more than three months after he was accused of desecrating the Quran has been sentenced to three years of prison, church leaders said. Tamirat Woldegorgis, a member of the Full Gospel Church in his early 30s, was arrested in early August after a Muslim co-worker in the clothes-making business the two operated out of a rented home discovered Woldegorgis had inscribed �Jesus is Lord� on some cloth, area Christians said. His business partner later accused him of writing �Jesus is Lord� in a copy of the Quran, although no evidence of that ever surfaced. Woldegorgis was sentenced on Nov. 18 for allegedly defacing the Quran and was subsequently transferred to Jijiga prison, a source said. Jijiga is the capital of Ethiopia�s Somali Region Zone Five, which is governed by Islamic principles, and his transfer there � after a period in which his whereabouts were unknown � puts his life in greater danger, a church leader said. In Ethiopia�s federal state system, each state is autonomous in its administration, and most of those holding government positions in Somali Region Zone Five are Muslims. �Three years in a harsh jail in Jijiga for an innocent man is quite costly,� said the church leader, who requested anonymity for security reasons. The church is concerned about the condition of the father of two from Hagarmariam village.

3.  Islamic Groups in Indonesia Demonstrate against Worship in Mall

Permission for church services in shopping center not necessary, rights advocates say. By Victor Raqual

JAKARTA, Indonesia, December 2 (Compass Direct News) � After closing churches in West Java, South Sulawesi, Sumatra, and other provinces, hard-line Islamic organizations are now attempting to stop Christian worship in or near shopping malls. Dozens of people from Islamic organizations demonstrated in front of the Gandaria City Mall in south Jakarta on Nov. 19, protesting worship of an unnamed church at the shopping center. After about an hour, mall management in the presence of the sector police chief spoke with demonstrators, who said they opposed the services because there is a Quranic boarding school nearby. The head of the mall, identified only as Ridwan, denied that there was any church or worship service there. He told Poskota that the demonstrators were misinformed and that he had resolved the matter with them. Jeirry Sumampouw, executive secretary of the diakonia department of the Indonesian Fellowship of Churches, said that no one has the right to forbid worship in a mall. He said a mall is a public space that can be used for any purpose, including worship. Bonar Tigor Naipospos, vice president of the Setara Institute for Justice and Peace, said he was surprised at opposition to worship at Gandaria City Mall. Malls are public spaces where many different activities may take place, he said. �Because it�s a public space, there is no relationship between permits and worship,� he said. �It�s different if you want to erect a church on your own property.� Naipospos said churches are meeting in malls because obtaining permits is so difficult.

4.  Somali Teenage Girl Shot to Death for Embracing Christ

Nurta Mohamed Farah, 17, had fled parents who tortured her. By Simba Tian

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 3 (Compass Direct News) � A 17-year-old girl in Somalia who converted to Christianity from Islam was shot to death last week in an apparent �honor killing,� area sources said. Nurta Mohamed Farah, who had fled her village of Bardher, Gedo Region to Galgadud Region to live with relatives after her parents tortured her for leaving Islam, died on Nov. 25. Area sources said they strongly suspected that the two unidentified men who shot her in the chest and head with a pistol were relatives or acting on their behest. She was killed in Abudwaq district about 200 meters from where she had taken refuge. Her parents had severely beaten her for leaving Islam and regularly shackled her to a tree at their home, Christian sources said. She had been confined to her home since May 10, when her family found out that she had embraced Christianity, said a Christian leader who visited the area. Area Christians had reported that while living in her home village in Gedo Region in southern Somalia, Farah was shackled to a tree by day and put in a small, dark room at night.

5.   Christians Fear Civilian Casualties in Burma

Junta targets ethnic minority states as civil war looms. By Vishal Arora

CHIANG MAI, Thailand, December 8 (Compass Direct News) � Civilians in two ethnic minority states with large Christian populations fear their lives may be in danger as skirmishes between rebels and a Burmese junta bent on instilling Buddhist nationalism threaten to escalate into war. �It is likely that the military junta will carry out a military offensive against ethnic armed groups now that the elections are over,� Nang Mya Naddy, ethnic program coordinator of the Democratic Voice of Burma radio program told Compass. Christians fear that full-scale civil war in Burma (also known as Myanmar) could result in either ethnic cleansing or total subjugation of minorities. Independent media reports suggest that the possibility of a major clash between ethnic armies and government troops is highest in Kachin and Karen states. Persecution of Christians in Burma is part of a wider campaign against ethnic minority tribes to create a uniform society in which the only accepted religion is Buddhism, according to the British daily Telegraph, citing a 2007 government memo circulated in Karen state giving instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state. Burma�s ethnic minorities, who inhabit states along Burma�s border with Thailand, China and India, have long demanded independence or autonomy. It is estimated that of the 1.2 million people in Kachin state, around 1 million are Christian. About 40 percent of the 3.5 million people in Karen state are estimated to be Christian. The Burmese junta, dominated by an ethnic Burman Buddhist majority, also seems to be preparing for war in the predominantly Buddhist state of Shan.

6.  Afghan Authorities Block Lawyer from Visiting Jailed Christian

Second suspect accused of �blasphemy� is government informant, accused says. By Damaris Kremida

ISTANBUL, December 9 (Compass Direct News) � A Christian in Afghanistan facing �apostasy� charges punishable by death is still without legal representation after authorities blocked a foreign lawyer�s attempt to visit him in prison, sources said. A Christian lawyer from the region who requested anonymity travelled to Kabul on behalf of Christian legal rights organization Advocates International two weeks ago to represent 45-year-old Said Musa (alternatively spelled Sayed Mossa). Authorities denied him access to Musa and to his indictment file. After several court hearing postponements, Musa appeared before a judge on Nov. 27 without prior notice. The judge sent Musa�s case file to the attorney general�s office for corrections, according to the lawyer. The prosecutor in charge of western Kabul, Din Mohammad Quraishi, said two men, Musa and Ahmad Shah, were accused of conversion to another religion, according to Agence France-Presse. But Musa�s letters from prison and other sources indicate that Shah is a government informant posing as a Christian. Musa and Shah appeared before the judge on Nov. 27 �shackled and chained� to each other, according to a source who was present. Musa and the other sources claim Shah sent images of Christians worshiping to the country�s most popular broadcaster, Noorin TV, which aired them in May. The broadcast put in motion the events that got Musa arrested, sources said. In early June the deputy secretary of the Afghan Parliament, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, called for the execution of converts from Islam. Another Afghan Christian is in prison for his faith, sources said. Shoib Assadullah, 25, was arrested on Oct. 21 for giving a New Testament to a man who reportedly turned him in to authorities. Assadullah is in a holding jail in a district of Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan. �

For more information concerning the persecution of Christians around the world, please contact:

Compass Direct at
Frontline Fellowship at
Christian Freedom International at
Jihad Watch at
Open Doors at
The Voice of the Martyrs at
Gospel for Asia at
Voice of the Copts at
Barnabus Aid at
Christian Solidarity International at
Smyrna Ministries International at

Christians ~ Islam ~ Signs of the Times