Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (August 6, 2011)
1. Pastor in Iran Awaits Decision on Execution
Death penalty dependent on whether officials determine if he was once Muslim. By Wayne King
ISTANBUL, July 28 (Compass Direct News) � A pastor in Iran found guilty of leaving Islam awaits the outcome of a judicial investigation into his spiritual background to see if he will be executed or, if possible, forced to become a Muslim, according to Christian groups with ties in Iran. The court-ordered investigation will take place sometime this fall to determine whether Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, 34, was a Muslim as a teenager before he became a Christian at 19. On Sept. 22, 2010, a regional court sentenced Nadarkhani, who leads a 400-strong house church movement in Rasht, to death by hanging for �convert(ing) to Christianity� and �encourag(ing) other Muslims to convert to Christianity.� Nadarkhani�s lawyer appealed the verdict to the Iranian Supreme Court, in part because the pastor said he had never actually been a Muslim and therefore could not be found guilty of abandoning the religion. The court issued a written response to the appeal on June 12, upholding the death penalty but ordering the investigation. Even if the investigation releases him from the charge of apostasy, it is likely the charge of evangelizing Muslims will still carry a lengthy prison sentence, sources said. Jason DeMars, president of Present Truth Ministries, said officials have repeatedly used pressure tactics to force Nadarkhani to become a Muslim, including threats to seize his children and arresting his wife on apostasy charges. On June 18, 2010, officials found Fatemah Pasindedih guilty of the charges, but her conviction was stricken on appeal, and she was released in October.
2. Muslims Seize Christian Burial Sites in Tanzania�s Archipelago
Authorities of predominantly Islamic Zanzibar island chain decline to act. By Simba Tian
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania, July 28 (Compass Direct News) � Influential Muslims on this East African island have begun building what appears to be a hotel on a 100-year-old burial site owned by an Anglican church, Christian leaders said. Church leaders with ownership papers for the land told Compass they are disturbed that authorities have taken no action since they filed a police complaint in December about the seizure of the burial site three kilometers (nearly two miles) from Zanzibar city�s airport. The Rev. Canon Emmanuel John Masoud told Compass that he led church members from nearby Mbueni to the site to offer prayers on Dec. 29, 2010, two days after the daughter of former Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume placed boundary markers and a metal storage container full of belongings on the land, indicating the take-over. Near the city of Wete in Pemba, the archipelago�s second largest island, authorities refused to help Christians who also suffered the seizure of their land at the hands of Muslims, church leaders said. Wete�s Anglican church purchased a burial site worth 1 million Tanzanian shillings (US$630) in 2007 in Finya village, about five kilometers (nearly three miles) from Wete, but in November 2010 the Rev. Stephen Aaron Kamwendo received word that an unnamed Muslim forestry worker had begun planting trees on the site as a boundary marker and claim of ownership. The forestry worker had unofficial backing from the island government, which supports opposition to Christian activity, Kamwendo said. He told Compass that rumors were flying that the church � which had lost its property in Wete after local officials decided to build on it � was planning to relocate to the two-acre property in Finya, prompting the Muslims to plan the takeover. �We are being cheated like some children,� Kamwendo said. �Our rights are not respected.�
3. House Church Alliance Leader in China Sentenced to Labor Camp
Government advisor: �abnormal growth� of Christianity threatens national security. By Sarah Page
DUBLIN, July 29 (Compass Direct News) � Authorities this week sentenced Shi Enhao, deputy leader of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), to two years of �re-education through labor� � a sentence that requires no trial or conviction, according to the China Aid Association (CAA). Shi was officially charged with holding �illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings,� due to his leadership of a house church movement of several thousand people meeting in several venues around Beijing, CAA reported. Police have since ordered Shi�s church members to stop meeting for worship and confiscated musical instruments, choir robes and some 140,000 RMB (US$21,740) in church donations. They also raided Shi�s house on June 1 and have threatened and intimidated Shi�s wife, Zhu Guangyun, and their four adult children, according to the CAA. A government article analyzing reasons for the growth of Protestant Christianity in China last year indicates how much the expansion of Christianity threatens officials. �Western powers, with America at their head, deliberately export Christianity to China and carry out all kinds of illegal evangelistic activities,� writes government advisor Ma Hucheng and in the article published by the China Social Sciences Press. �Their basic aim is to use Christianity to change the character of the regime in power in China and to overturn it.� Ma also claims that Christianity would endanger national security by destroying the �present balance between religions� in China, largely because house churches have �avoided government control� and persisted in �illegal Christian evangelism.�
4. Muslim Extremists Torch Churches in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Worship buildings burned on east African archipelago�s Zanzibar, Pemba islands. By Simba Tian
NAIROBI, Kenya, August 1 (Compass Direct News) � Muslim extremists on Saturday (July 30) burned down a church building on Zanzibar island off the coast of Tanzania, church leaders said, just three days after another congregation�s facility on the island was reduced to ashes. In Fuoni on the south coast of Zanzibar island (known locally as Unguja), Islamic extremists torched the building of the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania (EAGT) at around 2 p.m., said Pastor Leonard Massasa, who oversees Zanzibar�s EAGT churches. The assailants were shouting, �Away with the church � we do not want infidels to spoil our community, especially our children,� Pastor Massasa said. The EAGT church is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Zanzibar town. In Kianga about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Zanzibar town, another church building was burned down on July 27 at about 2 a.m., said Pastor George Frank Dunia of Free Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Africa. On neighboring Pemba island, suspected Muslims extremists in Konde on June 17 razed a Seventh-day Adventist Church building, a witness said. Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) Pastor Yohana Ari Mfundo said he has witnessed a series of attacks on Christians on Pemba island. The pastor had bought a half-acre of land for a church building some three kilometers (nearly two miles) from Chake-Chake town, but when area Muslims learned of it they arranged for a road to be built through it, he said. The smaller size made it fit only for residential use. �We are here in Pemba because God wants us to be. But Muslims always point a finger at us � especially at my house, and we have been receiving several threats,� Pastor Mfundo said.
5. Two Bombs Explode Near Churches in Jos, Nigeria
Police probe motives for weekend blasts in areas where Islamic sect leaders live. By Obed Minchakpu
JOS, Nigeria, August 2 (Compass Direct News) � Security officials are trying to determine suspects and motives for two weekend bomb explosions in predominantly Muslim areas of Jos where three churches and the residences of Islamic sect leaders are located. The explosions led many Christians to remain indoors on Sunday (July 31). One bomb exploded on Saturday night (July 30) in the Angwan Rimi area of Jos near a Baptist Church building no longer in use because of previous damage by Muslim extremists. A second bomb exploded early Sunday morning near a Church of Christ in Nigeria building on Sarkin Mangu Street and an Assemblies of God sanctuary in the Kwarrarafa Area, according to police reports obtained by Compass. No one was hurt in either of the explosions. Prominent Islamic leaders residing in the area of the Sunday morning blast include Sheik Balarabe Dawud, chief imam of Jos Central Mosque, and Sheik Sani Yahaya, leader of the Izala Islamic sect. The churches near both blasts are located in areas that are predominantly Muslim because of displacement of Christians during religious conflict earlier this year. Christians have been forced to relocate to safer areas of the city. The explosion on Saturday (July 30), from a bomb disguised as an empty can of ground nut oil, occurred in an area of Jos where Sheikh Saidu Hassan, deputy leader of the Izala Islamic sect, lives. The explosions occurred a week after five persons were killed in violence that broke out on July 26 between Muslims and Christians in the Angwan Rukuba area of Jos.
6. Kidnapped Christian Girl in Sudan Escapes, Traumatized
Muslim abductors tried to force her to convert to Islam. Special to Compass Direct News
KHARTOUM, Sudan, August 3 (Compass Direct News) � Hiba Abdelfadil Anglo, 16, has escaped from a gang of Muslims who kidnapped her last year, but it may be a long time before she recovers from the trauma. As she told Compass how the kidnappers beat, raped and tried to force her to convert from Christianity to Islam, she broke into tears for nearly half an hour. Abducted on June 17, 2010, she was reunited with her family on July 10. �Several times I was warned that if I do not convert to Islam, then I risk losing my life,� she said. �The man who put me in his house on several occasions tortured me and threatened to kill me. He did not allow me to pray Christian prayers. He even insulted my family as a family of infidels.� Hiba said that after a year of captivity, she had given the unidentified man who housed her enough of an impression that she had converted to Islam and accepted her fate that he left her unguarded. She was able to leave the house in the Soba Al Aradi area south of Khartoum and beg a motorist to take her to her home two hours away, she said. Her widowed mother, Ikhlas Omer Anglo, told Compass the kidnappers targeted them because they are Christians, members of Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum. She was initially locked in a room and beaten until she was unconscious. The leader of the group raped her, and she is still suffering pain in her right eye from a blow he recently dealt her, she said. �Apart from abusing me sexually, he tried to force me to change my faith and kept reminding me to prepare for Ramadan,� she said. �I cannot forget this bad incident, and whenever I try to pray, I find it difficult to forget. I ask believers to pray for me for inner healing.�
7. Blast Near Church in Kirkuk, Iraq Injures 13
Christian leaders say senseless violence designed to confuse, shock. By Damaris Kremida
ISTANBUL, August 3 (Compass Direct News) � A car blast outside a Syrian Catholic church in Kirkuk, Iraq yesterday left 13 wounded as police located and disarmed two more car bombs targeting churches in the city, according to area sources. Online video images of the attack against the Holy Family Church showed one of its walls blasted open and all its surfaces covered with broken glass, rubble and dust from the entrance, where the explosion took place, to the sanctuary at the far end of the building. The blast occurred on the second day of the month-long Muslim fasting period of Ramadan. Nearby houses in one of Kirkuk�s oldest quarters were seriously damaged, and cars on the street were left in twisted piles of metal. Today all but one of the wounded residents in the church�s neighborhood � an elderly man who was seriously injured � reportedly had been released from the hospital. No terrorist or extremist group has taken responsibility for the attack, and local church leaders said it seems Christians in Iraq are trapped in a senseless game of power and intimidation. �Sometimes we feel there is some pressure over the Christians all over Iraq to make them leave their cities and go to the northern part of Iraq, to Kurdistan,� said a pastor on condition of anonymity, �but who knows? I can�t say those who did this want us to leave our city.�Authorities also located two other cars full of explosives in the area � one parked in front of the church building of Mar Gourgis, of the Assyrian Church of the East, and another packed with explosives was parked in front of a Protestant church.
8. Muslim Extremists in India Attack, Threaten Christian Women
Convert from Islam, others threatened with burning. By Mahruaii Sailo
NEW DELHI, August 5 (Compass Direct News) � Four months after a recent convert to Christianity from Islam in eastern India�s West Bengal state was stripped and beaten, about 50 Muslim extremists yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting held in her home, threatening to burn it down if she did not return to Islam, area Christians said. The extremists warned Selina Bibi of Motijil village in Murshidabad district that if she did not return to Islam, then she must either leave the area or see her house burned down. At her baptism at Believers Church on March 29, a large crowd of Muslim extremists disrupted the service, said a pastor identified only as Bashir. On April 5, two Muslim women along with members of the extremist group summoned Selina Bibi to one of their homes and stripped her naked, believing that converts get �Christian marks� on their bodies. Though finding none, they beat her. Police called both parties, and they agreed in writing to allow each other to practice their respective faiths. In Natungram, also in Murshidabad district, Muslim extremists held three Christian women for an hour on July 21, threatening to beat and burn them alive if they continued worshipping Christ. Moyazan Bibi and Aimazan Bibi of Believers Church told Compass that they were arriving at the house of a widow, Suryja Bibi, when a large mob of Muslim extremists pushed them around and rushed Suryja Bibi, asking her why she invited �infidels� into her home. One of the assailants twisted her hand, the women said. Suryja Bibi tried to file a police complaint the next day, July 22, but the local Muslim head and other extremists stopped her, threatening to harm her, area Christians said. �
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