Watchman Newsletter

Steel On Steel Persecution Update

Steel on Steel - Donald McElvaney (August 24, 2011)

  1. Christian Accused of �Blasphemy� in Pakistan Granted Rare Bail

  2. Many of Pakistan�s Christian Flood Victims Still Homeless

  3. Motives for Church Burnings in Indonesia Questioned

  4. Insurgent Blast Ravages Church Building in Iraq

  5. Christians in Bangladesh Cleared of Charge of Offending Muslims

  6. Mayor in Indonesia Again Balks at Granting Church Permit

  7. Girl in Uganda Loses Use of Legs after Leaving Islam for Christ

  8. Coptic Christian Killed in Attack on Village in Upper Egypt

1.  Christian Accused of �Blasphemy� in Pakistan Granted Rare Bail

Move usually considered too dangerous in face of Muslim hostilities. By Brian Sharma

LAHORE, Pakistan, August 4 (Compass Direct News) � In a rare move in Pakistan, a lower court in Punjab Province on Tuesday (Aug. 2) released on bail a young Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam. The Magisterial Court of Chichawatni, Sahiwal district, granted bail to Babar Masih, who suffers from a psychiatric disorder that causes him to shout in fits of rage for as long as an hour without knowing what he is doing or saying. In the face of Islamic extremist threats, generally lower courts in Pakistan do not dare grant bail or acquit a Christian accused of blasphemy, leaving such decisions for higher court judges who enjoy greater security measures. The complainant in the case, Zeeshan Arshad, states in the First Information Report (FIR) that Masih was �addressing the stars and calling names of Muslim sages and holy personages� when he made the alleged remarks blaspheming Islam. The FIR itself states that Masih never intended to hurt Arshad�s religious feelings, and that no sane person would draw the ire of area residents by talking in this way. On the day he made the alleged remarks (May 2), however, a large Muslim mob gathered that refused to hear that Masih was suffering any mental disorder. They demanded he be turned over to them so that they could kill him publicly. Chichawatni City police intervened and took Masih into custody. Niaz Aamer, an attorney for the Center for Law and Justice-Pakistan, said the center plans to file an application to exempt Masih from court appearances on grounds that it would be too dangerous.

2. Many of Pakistan�s Christian Flood Victims Still Homeless

Government said to allot land only to Muslims in southern Punjab Province. By Murad Khan

LAHORE, Pakistan, August 9 (Compass Direct News) � Many Christians living in the southern belt of Pakistan�s Punjab Province who lost their houses in last year�s floods remain homeless despite a plan by the Punjab government to allocate land to residents in the area, area Christians said. Hameed Masih, a resident of Kot Addu in Muzaffargarh district, said the provincial government has not set a quota for granting of land to members of minority communities left homeless by the devastating floods that began in late July 2010. The list of homeless people was prepared by local land revenue officers who did not do so fairly, said another Christian, Sarwar Masih. A Christian identified only as Wasim, who is minorities coordinator of Kot Addu, added that one person who owns 22 acres of agricultural land has been allotted more land under the government rehabilitation plan. Napoleon Qayyum, a minority rights activist and leader of the Minorities Wing of the Pakistan People�s Party, said that under Pakistan�s constitution, minorities should be given a 5 percent quota in all government plans. He added that the Punjab government should adhere to that quota as well. Officials from the local administration responded to the allegations by saying they did not directly handle flood rehabilitation, adding that plots were allotted to homeless people through a lottery draw.

3.  Motives for Church Burnings in Indonesia Questioned

Outside Islamist groups use lack of permits as pretext for violence. By Victor Raqual Ambarita

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 17 (Compass Direct News) � Suspected Islamists were behind the burning of three homes used as churches on Sumatra Island�s Riau Province this month, though a political motive may also have played a role, Christian leaders said. Muslim mobs burned the meeting places of a Batak Karo Protestant Church (GBKP) congregation and a Pentecostal Church in Indonesia (GPDI) group on Aug. 1, and that of a Methodist Church of Indonesia on Aug. 2, all in Kuantan Singingi district. Provincial GBKP leader Sahat Tarigan reportedly said about 100 people on motorcycles arrived at the house church at 11 p.m. on Aug. 1, throwing stones, threatening church members with knives and ultimately pouring gasoline and setting it on fire. A number of church members were inside painting at the time of the attack, but there were no casualties, Tarigan told Radio 68H News Agency. The same mob also set the GPDI home on fire some five kilometers (three miles) away, he said. Tarigan said area resident have never objected to any worship there, though Metrotvnews reported that a local Muslim said the site lacks a permit and that the singing bothers Muslims fasting by day for Ramadan. But the executive secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, Jeirry Sumampow, said he suspected political motives. An election in April in which all churches in the Kuantan Tengah sub-district backed the winning regent may have played a role, he said. At press time Riau Provincial Police had reportedly questioned 21 witnesses and arrested two suspects.

4.  Insurgent Blast Ravages Church Building in Iraq

Attack on Syriac Orthodox building in Kirkuk is its third in five years. By Damaris Kremida

ISTANBUL, August 16 (Compass Direct News) � An insurgent blast left a church building in Kirkuk, Iraq severely damaged on Monday (Aug. 15) in a second round of attacks against the city�s Christian community in two weeks. The bombing of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram was the only attack against Christian targets amid a wave of violence that swept across Iraq yesterday, hitting 17 cities and claiming about 70 lives, according to The Associated Press. No Christians were killed in the attack on the church building. On Aug. 2, insurgents targeted three churches in the city. Abuna Gourgis Alyes, a priest at the Mar Afram church, told Compass that Monday�s attack was the third and most devastating one against his church in the last five years. A Protestant pastor who requested anonymity spoke to Compass by phone as he stood in the rubble of Mar Afram on a visit to the Orthodox priest�s church. �Now I am here and seeing it with my own eyes,� the pastor said, overwhelmed at the sight of the blown-out wall and wreckage. �They have to demolish the church and rebuild it.�

5.  Christians in Bangladesh Cleared of Charge of Offending Muslims

Workers at free health clinic exonerated after what lawyer calls police harassment. Special to Compass Direct News

LOS ANGELES, August 15 (Compass Direct News) � A court in Bangladesh on Thursday (Aug. 11) exonerated two Christians along with four Muslim friends accused of �hurting religious sensibility.� Nurul Islam, another Christian and their Muslim friends were cleared of the charge after police failed to provide documentation of any evidence against them, an attorney said. In March Christians under the direction of the Way of Peace movement had arranged a two-day health camp offering free treatment to poor villagers in Damurhuda area in Chuadanga district, some 210 kilometers (126 miles) northwest of Dhaka. Two of the Christian organizers and their Muslim friends were arrested on March 24 under Section 54 of the penal code, a special power granted to police to arrest anyone on any suspicion. Police are required to submit a primary investigation report within 15 days of the beginning of prosecution, and when they failed to do so, the Christians were released at a hearing on April 10. Police again filed a case on April 13, however, charging them with �hurting religious feelings� of area Muslims as a Japanese doctor had offered Bibles to patients at a health camp. The Japanese volunteer doctor offered Christian leaflets and Bibles to the patients, telling them they were under no obligation to take the literature, Christian said. The foreign doctor was not named in either of the cases. Lawyer Aksijul Islam Ratan told Compass that police had harassed his clients from the beginning, saying officers rather than any known victim filed the case as plaintiff. �The police harassed them from the very beginning, and what the police did was excessive,� he said. �Again police could not show relevant documents regarding their charge. So the honorable court did not take the charge into cognizance and discharged my clients.�

6.  Mayor in Indonesia Again Balks at Granting Church Permit

Bogor chief dismisses ombudsman�s recommendation to obey Supreme Court ruling. By Victor Raqual Ambarita

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 15 (Compass Direct News) � A mayor in West Java who disregarded a Supreme Court ruling to reinstate the building permit of a church in Bogor has now dismissed a recommendation by the National Ombudsman Institute to do so. Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto rejected the recommendation to reinstate the permit for the Indonesian Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Indonesia, or GKI) Yasmin Bogor Church last month, leaving the congregation to worship on a small strip of land as 15 to 20 Muslim demonstrators taunt them. �The Ombudsman�s recommendation is only a suggestion,� the mayor told Tempo magazine. Church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said the mayor sent two letters to the church, one in May and one on July 9, urging the congregation to cease services on the roadside strip. In the letter he claimed that the church created a general annoyance and suggested they worship at the Harmony Building some 500 meters from the sealed GKI Yasmin Church building. The congregation paid no heed to the letter, Sigalingging said, because the church�s worship on the roadside is a result of the mayor�s own doing. The vice president of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, said that there is suspicion that the Bogor City government intends to prevent the existence of the GKI Yasmin church by all possible means. Budiarto has staged an attack because he has clearly broken the law, he said. �The decision of the Supreme Court is final; why did he revoke the GKI Yasmin building permit?� Naipospos said. �Similar problems are going to arise, if this is left .�

7.  Girl in Uganda Loses Use of Legs after Leaving Islam for Christ

Muslim father locked 14-year-old in room with almost no food or water for months. By Simba Tian

NAIROBI, Kenya, August 11 (Compass Direct News) � A 14-year-old girl in western Uganda is still unable to walk 10 months after her father tortured her for leaving Islam and putting her faith in Christ, according to area Christians. Susan Ithungu of Isango village, Kasese district, has been hospitalized at Kagando Hospital since October 2010 after neighbors with police help rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released, sources said. Susan and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist from Bwera Full Gospel Church spoke at Susan�s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation. �Our father warned us not to attend church or listen to the gospel message,� Susan said. �He even threatened us with a sharp knife that he was ready to kill us in broad daylight in case we converted to Christianity.� Pastor Joseph Baluku of Bwera Full Gospel Church in Kasese said neighbors who discovered the girl was being kept locked in a room with almost no food or water notified authorities, and after her release took her to the hospital. It is unknown when Susan will be released, but Pastor Baluku said area residents and church members will try to gather funds for the medical costs incurred. �By God�s grace Susan is still alive,� he said after a visit last week. �Though she can�t walk, she can now talk. She is still feeding on soft foods. The great news is that Susan is still strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. She needs prayers and support, so that she can resume her education soon.�

8.  Coptic Christian Killed in Attack on Village in Upper Egypt

Muslim mob murders him in his home in assault on village. By Wayne King

ISTANBUL, August 10 (Compass Direct News) � A Coptic Christian was killed and several others were injured in Upper Egypt after Muslims on Sunday (Aug. 7) attacked a predominantly Christian village following an argument between a Muslim and Christian. The attack at Nazlet Faragallah village in Minya, 218 kilometers (136 miles) south of Cairo, lasted until Monday morning (Aug. 8), Christians said. The attackers raided an unknown number of homes owned by Christian villagers and set eight on fire, area residents said. The assailants killed Maher Nassif, 46, bursting into his house, shooting him in the head and slitting his throat while his teenage son watched from under a bed where he was hiding, Christian villagers said. The men looted the home and stole Nassif�s livestock as his son escaped into the night, according to villagers who spoke with the boy. Initial reports on what sparked the attack varied widely, but the general consensus was that on Saturday (Aug. 6) a Muslim man in the village had an argument with a Coptic woman that ended when several Coptic men came to the aid of the woman. Several hours later, a group of Muslims arrived at the village church and started pelting congregants with rocks as they left the building, villagers said. The Copts responded in kind. By Sunday, groups of Muslim men carrying long knives and automatic weapons were seen gathering around the village. �They went around all the neighboring villages spreading a rumor that �the Christians burned the mosque and killed some Muslim people,� which isn�t true,� Thabet said. �

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