‘One week’ deadlines for Iraqi Christians to convert or ‘face the sword’

A Christian Iraqi refugee sweeping the concrete floor of the unfinished building where she now lives.
Ankawa; August 20 2014
A Christian Iraqi refugee sweeping the concrete floor of the unfinished building where she now lives. Ankawa; August 20 2014 

An Iraqi Christian Mikha Qasha, fleeing from Qaraqosh, has given a personal account of members of the Islamic State, IS, coming to his house and threatening him to leave, convert to Islam or face the sword.

Qasha told Mid-East Christian News, specializing in Christian minorities in the Middle East, that IS members gave him a week to think about it; the threat came with weapons pointed at his head.

Elderly and paralyzed, Qasha, was taken away from Qaraqosh by a friend -in his wheelchair. Eventually he found his grandson, who took him to the predominantly Christian suburb of Ankawa in the province of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.

According to MCN Direct, others who fled from a district in Nineveh, and from Qaraqosh and Bartella, said IS is now imposing a conversion deadline of one week for any non-Muslim. Qasha’s neighbour, a young man who fled the city this week, said he was hiding in his home with his father when IS members found them on August 17. They gave them a week, until August 24, to convert to Islam or be killed.

Tents of 
about 650
refugee 
families.
Ankawa
Iraq
August 19 2014
Tents of about 650 refugee families. Ankawa Iraq August 19 2014 

70,000 Christians have arrived in Ankawa, the Christian neighbourhood in Erbil and some 60,000 displaced people are in Dohuk, said Louis Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq.

Dohuk, mainly inhabited by Kurds and Assyrians, is in the north in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan while Qaraqosh, a town of about 50,000 people in Nineveh Province, sits between Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, to the east.

The Islamic State took over Mosul in June. At the time there were 3,500 residing Christians who fled east to Qaraqosh, which is often referred to as the Christian capital of Iraq. Of the 3,500 about 25 people decided to stay home in Mosul. Since then nine have converted to Islam, while the others are paying jizya – the Islamic tax for non-Muslims.

The UN has launched a major aid operation: UNHCR said tents and other goods will be sent to Erbil via air, land and sea beginning Wednesday, August 20.

Christian persecution ‘off the scale’ in Iraq, says Archbishop of Canterbury

The slaughter of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq is “off the scale of human horror,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury on August 18.

Archbishop Justin Welby said that IS members are “particularly savage…In a globalised world where even distant nations are our ‘neighbour’, we cannot allow these atrocities to be unleashed with impunity…The international community must document the human rights abuses in northern Iraq so that the perpetrators can later be prosecuted”.

Christian
refugees
in  
Erbil, 
displaced 
from 
Mosul. 
August 2014
Christian refugees in Erbil, displaced from Mosul. August 2014 

Also on August 18, Pope Francis appeared to endorse military action to stop Islamist militants from attacking religious minorities in Iraq. This is an exceptional statement as it goes against the Vatican’s standard guidance which is against the use of force.

Pope Francis said that he is willing to visit Iraq himself but has been warned against it.

“I am willing (to go there),” he said. “I said if it were necessary when we return from Korea we can go there. It was one of the possibilities… At the moment it is not the best thing to do, but I am ready for this,” he told Zenit news, a Catholic news agency.

Iraqi safe zones are overflowing

Open Doors, an international ministry working with persecuted Christians, has been working through local Iraqi partners across Kurdish Iraq to distribute goods. Its partners have reported that the majority of the displaced people have fled from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other towns and villages on the Nineveh plain.

With such a large influx of internally displaced people, churches in Erbil are running out of space and houses have become full.

Boy 
lying 
in classroom,
pile of 
mattresses 
in the corner. 
Primary school 
in Erbil 
where 
refugees of 
Qaraqosh 
are housed.
Boy lying in classroom, pile of mattresses in the corner. Primary school in Erbil where refugees of Qaraqosh are housed. 

A local worker told World Watch Monitor, “When the church is full, the people go into other buildings or the halls of the church. If these are full too, then they flow out into the gardens or courtyard of the church. Also unfinished concrete constructions, which have only a few rough floors, are taken by refugees as a place to stay. They are everywhere!”

Open Doors says that it is actively helping local churches and partners to provide basic goods such as hygiene kits and food packages.

Another local worker said “Most had to sleep on the ground. So I decided to try to meet their needs, not only with food, but also trying to provide mattresses and pillows. I quickly started counting the number of people who were there, and it was not only 13 families – as I was told – but more than 50! In total I counted about two hundred people.”

During that same weekend, a church team had organised distributions in and around Dohuk, helping nearly 500 families with food and hygiene parcels.

Trauma of refugees

Those fleeing IS have lost their homes, witnessed killings and suffered sexual violence.

One worker spoke with several families who had fled within the past week.

“The families we met are related to each other and originally from Mosul. They had fled a little while ago to a village near Al Qosh. When the rumours came – about fighters of the Islamic State (IS) coming that way as well -they again had to flee. Now they are in Dohuk. It is terrible what they have gone through.

“Leaving Mosul they had to pass IS checkpoints. One of the women was humiliated at an IS women-only checkpoint when a female fighter pulled down her skirt because it was ‘too tight’. Until the day we visited her, four days later, she was still crying – terribly traumatised by that, on top of having to flee and all the other things she’s seen.”

Calm in the Storm

At a refugee camp on the grounds of a church in Erbil, some joy can be found among the masses of internally displaced people, despite the scorching hot sun where temperatures easily reach to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

Inflatible pools
for fun and 
cooling down.
Ankawa,
Iraq. 
August 17 2014
Inflatible pools for fun and cooling down. Ankawa, Iraq. August 17 2014  

A volunteer reported “To my surprise, I was welcomed into the great stir of things in a refugee camp. A leader of the Chaldean church arranged some games for the men and inflated some little swimming pools for the children. The pools are filled with water so they can cool down a little bit, have some fun and keep up their spirits. At the same time we use some of the pools to wash the hands and heads of the children, so they also get a bath with soap every once in a while.”

“At the same time a group of people stands in line to receive shoes handed out by church workers.”

This group of church workers helps more than 360 families who are staying in Erbil, of whom 216 families live in the church courtyard. Every day they give out breakfast, lunch and dinner to more than a thousand people.

“Help is coming from a lot of different sides. A telephone company is giving free SIM cards away. People send mini-buses to the church to pick up women and their little children so they can shower at their homes. Children get toys to play with. The list of help is endless.”

While such small gestures are welcome – such as a Dohuk barber and his team of five offering a free haircut and a shave for those who’ve lost everything. The question on everyone’s mind remains – how sustainable is life like this long-term?

SOURCE

 

Australian Stephen Davis risked life in attempt to rescue kidnapped Nigerian girls

Stephen Davis

 

A Perth-based international adviser has survived months of extreme danger to try to rescue more than 270 schoolgirls kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Stephen Davis, 63, has returned from a four-month sojourn with rare footage of the intense fighting in Nigeria’s north-east, as Boko Haram stepped up efforts to establish an Islamic state.

Dr Davis, who has a PhD in political geography, has worked as an adviser to the past two presidents of Nigeria.

He established extensive contacts with tribes and terrorist groups in Africa, including three small cells of Al Qaeda, while working as a trouble-shooter for oil and gas company Shell in the Niger delta.

When news broke in April about the girls’ kidnapping from a school in the village of Chibok, near the Cameroon border, Dr Davis, who had recently moved to Perth from London, decided he could not sit on his hands.

During the journey his life was threatened more than once, but his Australian passport saved him.

They told me they’d be prepared to release some as a goodwill gesture towards a peace deal with the government.

Stephen Davis

“When confronted by groups with an AK-47 in my face they’d say, ‘you are American, we have to kill you’,” Dr Davis said.

“When you say, no I’m not American, they think you are British, and say you will still die, but when I said I’m Australian, they said that’s all right.

“I have no idea why but it’s certainly been helpful.”

The devout Christian managed to smuggle out of the country footage of a handful of schoolgirls who escaped from Boko Haram.

They detail the atrocities they endured, including being raped almost on a daily basis.

Release agreed as ‘goodwill’ gesture

Following media reports that nobody knew where the girls were, he decided to reach out to his contacts.

“I made a few phone calls to the Boko Haram commanders and they confirmed they were in possession of the girls,” he said.

“They told me they’d be prepared to release some as a goodwill gesture towards a peace deal with the government, so I went to Nigeria on the basis of being able to secure their release.”

Arriving in Nigeria, Dr Davis quickly set up talks with commanders and he believed he had brokered a deal.

Fearing being arrested, the Boko Haram commanders – holding the girls across the border in Cameroon – had a list of conditions.

They wanted the military stood down and promised to drop the girls in a village before phoning to give their exact location.

Dr Davis said they lived up to their promise, but in a country ravaged by war and corruption, the rescue was sabotaged.

“The girls were there, 60 girls, there were 20 vehicles with girls,” he said.

“We travelled for four-and-a-half hours to reach them, but 15 minutes before we arrived they were kidnapped again by another group who wanted to cash in on a reward.

“The police had offered a reward of several million Naira just 24 hours before we went to pick them up.

“I understand, from the Boko Haram commanders I spoke to, the girls eventually ended up back with them.

“I don’t know what happened to the group that took them but I suspect it wasn’t good.”

Four girls escaped by heading west

Dr Davis said a young man kidnapped by Boko Haram and used as a driver later helped a handful of girls escape.

One kidnapped girl, who managed to avoid having her mobile phone confiscated by turning it off and hiding it in her bra, managed to call her family while hiding in bushes, but had no idea where she was or which direction she should be heading.

After being told to walk west by following the sunset each evening the four girls managed to cross the border from Cameroon and into Nigeria before being reunited with their families.

So far they are the only girls to have escaped from a Boko Haram camp.

When Dr Davis later tried to contact, via text, the young man who helped them, he received a sobering reply.

“The person you are trying to contact has gone on a journey from which there is no return,” the reply read.

“He was an infidel.”

Dr Davis said the longer he stayed in Nigeria the more it dawned on him the kidnappings would not end.

“It became very clear that if I was able to get 50 girls released then another group would kidnap 70 or 80 more,” he said.

“So by freeing 50 you were consigning 70 or 80 more to the same fate.”

Atrocities going unreported

Dr Davis said initially journalists from around the world including CNN, the ABC and the BBC flooded into the country, but they concluded it was far too dangerous to send any crews into the north-east of the country.

He said since then, the violence in north-east Nigeria and the threat of foreign journalists being kidnapped and beheaded meant there had been limited coverage of the crimes being committed by Boko Haram.

“Boko Haram used to telephone Nigerian journalists and give them a story, but that doesn’t happen anymore,” he said.

“They go straight to social media. They post their own material and they’ve learnt to become very savvy on social media and use it as an instrument to terrorise.”

Dr Davis said he had realised the only way to stop the kidnappings was to stop the sponsors of Boko Haram.

While Al Qaeda was involved in training Boko Haram recruits, Dr Davis said one of their major sources of funding – aside from raiding banks – was Nigerian politicians.

“That makes it easier in some ways as they can be arrested, but of course the onus of proof is high and many are in opposition, so if the president moves against them, he would be accused of trying to rig the elections due early next year,” he said.

“So I think this will run through to the election unabated.

“These politicians think that if they win power they can turn these terrorists off, but this has mutated.

“It’s no longer a case of Muslims purifying by killing off Christians. They are just killing indiscriminately, beheading, disembowelling people – men, women and children and whole villages.

“I would say it’s almost beyond the control of the political sponsors now.

“Terror groups are linking up in Somalia, southern Sudan, Egypt and we have fairly strong evidence they are talking with ISIS members.

“They will link up with ISIS and Al Shabaab and I think that what we are seeing in that region is the new homeland of radical Islam in the world.”

SOURCE

Divorce Rumour: Pastor Chris Oyakhilome Deletes Wife From Church Website

Pastor chris n wife

 

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the Chris Embassy has removed every information about his estranged wife, Anita from the church’s website, DailyPost Reports.

This we gathered is not unconnected with the wind of divorce currently blowing in the family.

TheCable had exclusively reported that the wife, Anita who is also the Vice President of Loveworld Assembly, better known as Christ Embassy has filed for divorce in a London Court over alleged adultery.

Following the shocking revelation, DailyPost ran a quick check on the church’s website (http://www.christembassy.org/) only to discover that every information about the wife has been expunged.

Previously, the picture of Pastor Chris and his wife, Anita were on the homepage of the website, but following the shocking revelation, the wife’s has been removed from the site.

SOURCE

Raped and Slaughtered: Muslim Persecution of Christians, April, 2014

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah… There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.” — Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.

Hillary Clinton repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

In Malaysia — regularly portrayed in the West as a moderate Muslim nation — any attempt to promote religions other than Islam is illegal.

“The reason they want to kill me is very clear — it is because of being a convert to Christianity.” — Hassan Muwanguzi, Uganda.

From one end of the Islamic world to the other, the abduction and rape of Christian girls at the hands of Muslims—both terrorists and laymen—was a dominant theme in April.

On Easter Sunday morning, for instance, four Muslim men raped a 7-year-old Christian girl named Sara in a Pakistani village. Last reported, the child was in an intensive care unit in “critical” condition. According to Asia News, “the police, instead of arresting the culprits, helped the local clan to kidnap the girl’s father; Iqbal Masih was taken and hidden in a secret place to ‘force the family not to report the story, to reach an agreement with the criminals and to avoid a dispute of a religious background.'”

According to a human rights lawyer involved in the case, “Such cases are frequent: abuse against women and girls by Muslim men are examples of how the minorities in Pakistan live under constant fear of persecution. We believe that many cases of violence go unreported.” A new report appearing in April by the Solidarity and Peace Movement—a coalition of NGOs, associations and institutions including the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the Pakistani Bishops—confirmed that “an estimated 700 cases per year involve Christian women, 300 Hindu girls…[T]he true extent of the problem is probably much bigger, since many cases are not reported.” (Click herefor a better understanding of the extent of this tragedy.)

The biggest story, however, came from Nigeria, where the Islamic terrorist organization known as Boko Haram abducted nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls, mostly Christians. The group justified its actions in Islamic terms. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared on video, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah. …There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.”

Some of the Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram. (Image source: Boko Haram video)

The so-called mainstream media, which generally downplays or ignores Boko Haram’s terror campaign, actually reported on this particular atrocity, prompting Western authorities—who are much more accustomed to, and comfortable with, pretending these sorts of things do not exist—to respond in awkward, hypocritical and bewildering ways.

Secretary of State John Kerry, after saying the U.S. had been in touch with Nigeria “from day one” of the crisis, then asserted, “I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort. And it will begin immediately. I mean, literally, immediately.”

It is not clear to whom Kerry was referring when he said, “convinced everybody”—unless he was referring to himself. After all, there might not have been any need for “greater effort,” or the need to act “immediately. I mean, literally, immediately,” had Kerry only let the Nigerian government do its job a year ago, when it was waging a strong and successful offensive against Boko Haram in the same region in which the schoolgirls were kidnapped.

Back then, in May 2013, soon after Nigerian forces killed 30 Boko Haram members, Reuters reported that “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strongly worded statement [to the Nigerian president] saying: “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations, which, in turn, only escalate the violence and fuel extremism” from Boko Haram.

As for Kerry’s predecessor, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she publicly bemoaned the lot of the kidnapped girls. “[It’s] abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible,” she said from a position to help offer “the fullest response possible.” But she repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram a “foreign terrorist organization,” despite the countless atrocities it had already committed; despite that under her tenure Boko Haram had boasted that it would “strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women,” and despite extensive urging from the CIA, FBI, Justice Department, and several congressmen and senators.

Her logic was once voiced by her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. In February 2012, he declared that “inequality” and “poverty” are “what’s fueling all this stuff“—a reference to Boko Haram’s terror—and he warned the Nigerian government, “It is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence.”

The rest of April’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Afghanistan: Three Americans were shot and killed at a Kabul hospital funded by an American Christian charity. The murderer was a policeman employed as a security guard at the hospital. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for similar attacks this year, but issued no comment. Those killed were a doctor and a father and son visiting the hospital. “As they were walking out of the hospital, the security guard opened fire on them, killing three and wounding another one,” said a statement from the Interior Ministry. The attack was one of increasing attacks against Christians and Westerners in the country. Three weeks earlier, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed and reporter Kathy Gannon, 60, wounded while they were sitting in the back of a car in the east of the country. Also in March, a gunman shot dead Swedish journalist Nils Horner, 51, outside a restaurant in Kabul.

Central African Republic: Father Labbe Christ Formane Willbona was slaughtered by Muslim herdsmen believed to be close to the Islamic rebel organization, Seleka. Local security sources reported that the corpse was mutilated before being buried.

Egypt: A Coptic Christian teacher at the Marzouk prep school in Minya province was shot in the head by a student belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Eyewitnesses said that the student was caught smoking in class and was reprimanded. Apparently he decided to show his “infidel” teacher his place, and therefore shot him in the head while he was returning home. Two more Christian Copts were killed in villages near Asyut, according to Agenzia Fides, during “sectarian clashes” over land disputes between a Coptic family and local Muslims. On the same day as the Coptic funeral, a young Coptic entrepreneur, Mohsen Morris, was also kidnapped near Asyut. The kidnappers extracted a ransom of 250,000 Egyptian pounds [$35,000] from his family.

Libya: Three more Coptic Christians—all cousins—were targeted in post “Arab Spring” Libya. One wasslaughtered and brought back to Egypt to be buried in a Coptic cemetery; another, half dead, was carried back home in an ambulance, with a bullet lodged in his skull; another cousin disappeared and is believed to have been killed by Islamic militants. Islamic enmity for Christians has been regularly on display in Libya after the U.S.-supported “Arab Spring”: Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (often for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. Earlier, Islamic militants said they would reward any Muslim who finds and kills Christians. Such persecution did not occur under the leadership of the late Colonel Moammar Gaddafi.

Pakistan: A Muslim security guard is accused of murdering a Christian worker who refused to convert to Islam. According to Morning Star News,

Sunny Masih, a father of two, was working as a cleaner at a branch of Bank Islami under construction on Nisbat Road in Lahore. On Wednesday morning (April 16), the bank security guard informed police that Masih had shot himself in the forehead with a pump-action shotgun that the guard had left unattended before going to the washroom.

The guard, Omar Farooq, of Khushab District in central Punjab Province, told police that Masih “looked depressed” when he arrived at the bank at 8 a.m. Sub-Inspector Muhammad Iqbal of the Nolakha Police told Morning Star News that Farooq told officers Masih was in the lobby of the bank when Farooq went to the washroom, leaving his weapon unattended.

Haider Masih, father of the deceased, told Morning Star News that his son was a lively young man and had shown no signs of depression.

On April 15, my son told me that Farooq had mocked his Christian faith and had asked him to ’embrace’ Islam. He told my son, ‘You are a good-looking boy, and I don’t like to see you sweeping floors and cleaning the washrooms. If you embrace Islam, I’ll connect you with people who will take good care of you, provide you with a decent job and even get you married into a wealthy Muslim family.'”

Masih said his son told Farooq that he was satisfied with his Christian faith, and that he should stop nagging him.

“My son told me that when he snubbed Farooq, the guard had threatened him that he would have to face the consequences for refusing the Dawaat [an invitation to accept Islam],” the grieving told Morning Star News at the Mayo Hospital mortuary. “I took the matter lightly and told my son not to worry, as being Christians we have to face such people every second day. I told Sunny to avoid discussing religion with Farooq even if he brought up the matter and keep distance from him, and everything would be alright. Little did I know that my son would end up in a mortuary a day later.”

According to a Christian activist involved in the case,

Masih was hit on the forehead just above his eyes, and his skull and brain were completely blown away by the impact at point blank range. The doctor said he found it hard to believe that Masih could have shot himself in the head with a big weapon such as a shotgun. This is what we want the police to find out, but instead they are trying to cover up the matter. We believe the police are showing bias in its probe because it involves a ‘righteous Muslim’ who was trying to convert a Christian.

Syria: Frans van der Lugt—a 76-year-old Jesuit priest from the Netherlands who had established a community center and farm near the city of Homs where he had worked for over forty years for the betterment of people with disabilities and for Christian-Muslim harmony—was shot dead in the garden of the community center. After the Islamist-led siege of Homs, the priest continued to care for the sick and the hungry. In early 2014 he made a number of YouTube videos, asking the international community to help the besieged city. Yet he chose to remain in Homs, struggling with the daily bombings and the lack of food, until he was slain.

Uganda: The teenage daughter of a Muslim man managed to attend one church service after converting to Christianity before her father killed her. Abdul Hakim Ibanda severely beat his 17-year-old daughter and her 19-year-old sister with a blunt instrument after learning that they had attended a church service on April 6. The surviving sister said, “On Sunday morning we arrived at the United Believers Church… After prayers we then went to church, where the pastor introduced us to the church and that we were new members of the church. The church faithful were cheerful to receive us.” However, local Muslims who saw them enter the church immediately reported it to the father. He gathered a group of 32 “youths” to attack the church but the mob was eventually dispersed without incident. When the girls returned home, the father, described as “furious,” began questioning and eventually beating them with a blunt object, killing the girl. According to the pastor of the majority-Christian nation, where Muslims make some 11.5 percent, “The girl [surviving sister] is still traumatized as a result of the death of her sister and needs prayers and counseling.” Said the girl: “I know I cannot go back to my father because I have become a Christian. I am grateful to the church for welcoming me and taking me as their child. I now have a new home.”

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Austria: After reportedly listening to Muslim chants, a man, known only as Ibrahim A., went on a church-vandalizing spree, desecrating four churches. According to the Vienna Times, “the attack left Lazaristenkirche with all of its statues and side altars largely destroyed as well as statues damaged at St. Stephen’s, the Breitenfeld church in Josefstadt and the Neuottakring church in Ottakring.” The Archbishop of Vienna described the attack on churches as “so far the worst act of vandalism in my time as Archbishop…. I am shocked by the devastation in the churches. I hope that the perpetrator or perpetrators did not know what they were doing.” Ibrahim A., 37-years-old, was caught in the act of vandalizing St. Stephan’s but was released at the time because police did not realize it was one of many attacks that that had been carried out that day. Police have since been unable to find him.

Nigeria: According to AP, “Witnesses and an official say angry Muslim youths set ablaze a Catholic church and tried to destroy an attached school in northern Nigeria over an alleged insult to the Prophet Muhammad. Witness Tukur Musa says soldiers on Monday stopped the mob from setting ablaze the school in Funtua town in Katsina state, but they arrived too late to save St. Rita Catholic Church. He says the town was in an uproar about an examination question last week which they considered an insult to the Prophet Muhammad. They reported the matter to district authorities. When no action was taken, young Muslims attacked. Deputy Police Superintendent Aminu Abubakar Saddiq confirmed the church was burned and school damaged but said no one was injured. Religious strife is common in central and northern Nigeria.” Also, during early Easter Sunday morning, unknown gunmen, later attributed to the Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram, launched an attack on the Christian-majority regions of Taraba State. The Christian Church of Nigeria was burned down, as well as many Christian homes. At least 15 corpses were seen littering on the streets.

Syria: Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite Catholic patriarch of Antioch, visited some of the dozens of Christian churches hit by Islamic rebels, particularly churches in the historic town of Ma’aloula, where the Christian inhabitants still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus, and where some were executed for refusing to convert to Islam. (Click here for several pictures of the types of desecration that churches undergo if they fall into the hands of the Islamic terrorists. In St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church alone, icons had their faces scratched out, church pews broken, statues of the Virgin Mary and Christ smashed, and Bibles burned.) In the prelate’s words: “An apocalyptic spectacle presented itself. Other churches have been destroyed in Syria, but I have never seen anything like this. I cried and I sought in vain a moment of solitude to pray. I am heartbroken. Ma’aloula’s four historic churches were hit. Our parish church, dedicated to Saint George, is riddled with bullets. The convent’s dome was damaged in two places. The walls were ripped open by cannon fire. Some parts of the convent is in danger of collapsing and must be rebuilt. The icons are scattered on the floor, dirty, or stolen. It is currently completely uninhabitable.” The patriarch further described the wanton destruction of churches as a “war crime.”

Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

Malaysia: An Islamic organization known as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia accused a Christian church of trying to evangelize to Muslims, simply because they used Bahasa Malaysia, the national language, for an Easter pageant. The organization’s website said that while freedom of religion for non-Muslims was guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, the open use of Bahasa Malaysia to promote the event outside the church compound was an abuse of this liberty. The organization also called on Muslim officials “to closely monitor this Easter Musical.” It further declared that “the notion of Easter was against Islam.” In Malaysia — regularly portrayed in the West as an example of a moderate Muslim nation—any attempt to promote religions other than Islam is illegal.

Pakistan: Eight days after a court in Lahore sentenced Sawan Masih, a Christian man, to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, another illiterate Christian couple in Punjab Province was sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages. Along with Asia Bibi, a wife and mother incarcerated since 2010, there are now four Christians on death row in Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming Islam or its founder. Also, a Muslim landlord almost beat to death his Christian tenant and employee, Saleem Masih, for observing Easter. According to Mushtaq Gill, a Christian activist and lawyer, because Saleem took time off to observe Easter, “the landlord became furious and beat him severely. He was eventually rescued and saved by some other villagers, otherwise he could have been beaten to death.” Gill added that many other Christian field workers “are forced into bonded labour, denied minimum wages and harassed and implicated in fake cases if they try to resist the oppression of their influential masters.” As for Mushtaq Gill, the Christian lawyer representing these Christians, he is facing death threats. In his own words: “On April 2, a stranger came to the Lahore Court and warned me that I might be attacked or involved in some fake criminal cases or even killed.” Such threats are not limited to “extremists.” Gil received information that he could also be expelled and barred from practicing law. “What am I supposed to do, stop?” said Gil. “Psalm 118 says: ‘The Lord is with me, I have no fear of anything. What can man do to me?’ My other colleagues and I have been threatened and attacked several times by strangers because of our work for human rights in Pakistan. But we are not afraid. We know that we could be killed because we support the campaign for the abolition of the blasphemy law. But this will not close our mouth and will not stop our work on human rights. The Lord tells us to have courage.”

Uganda: Muslim relatives of a convert to Christianity tried to poison him to death. Hassan Muwanguzi converted to Christianity in 2003. Soon thereafter, his wife left him and he was fired from his job as a schoolteacher. Most recently, he was hospitalized after an aunt put insecticide in his tea. According to Hassan: “After eating and taking tea, I started feeling stomachache, then I realized that she was the one responsible for it—and I believe she did not do it alone, since they have been hunting for me directly and indirectly, because when I left them and converted to Christianity it pained them so much. The reason they want to kill me is very clear—it is because of being a convert to Christianity; above all, to them it is like I brought shame by converting…” During the family meeting, when he started to feel ill, he telephoned a local Christian bishop, who advised him that he should leave secretly. “I knew if he were to mention to them that he was getting sick, they would harm him more,” said Bishop Kinyewa.

Uzbekistan: Christians are being prevented from burying their dead in the state cemeteries of the Muslim-majority nation. There have been three known cases so far this year. Most recently, the family of Gayrat Buriyev, who died on 9 April, was told by officials, “The cemetery is state property, but is under the management of the local mosque, and if the imam is against the burial then it will not take place. And the local imam said he was “acting in accordance with sharia law,” even though Uzbekistan is officially a secular state. The imam also cursed the family for being Christians, calling them “unclean and defiled infidels.” Although they took the matter to local authorities, officials refused to intervene, siding with the imam. (According to Islamic teaching, being buried next to an “infidel” could cause the Muslim corpse to suffer the “torments of the grave.”)

About this Series

While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians is expanding. “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month.

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

It posits that such persecution is not random but systematic, and takes place in all languages ethnicities and locations.

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

Reactions From Christ Embassy Members Over Pastor Chris Oyakhilome & Wife Divorce Rumour

Where is Anita

 

Members of the Christ Embassy are divided over a divorce suit filed against the Senior Pastor of the church, Chris Oyakhilome, by wife, Anita, in a London court.

Oyakhilome is the President of the Believers’ Love World Incorporated, the registered name of the Christian ministry, while his wife is the Vice President.

Some members of the church on a Facebook page, ‘Where is Rev. Anita Oyakhilome,’ which is believed to have been opened by Anita’s fans, expressed differing opinions on the matter.

On Saturday, one of the church members, Ijeoma Olive Ehirim said, “I am a Christ Embassy member. I hate one thing there: How can a pastor be working together with a lady hand in hand, attending meetings and lodging in a hotel for days. My girlfriend travels with our branch pastor annually for PPCF which holds in Lagos. Only God knows.”

Sharing a similar view, Samantha Iwowo, described adultery as one of the grounds for divorce.

Iwowo said, “Pastor Chris Oyakhilome must have been discovered compromising his marital bed business. It is what it is. God says judgement will start from His house. ‘Touch not my anointed’ is God’s instruction regarding all His children, not an individual nicking, scheming, threatening monies off people’s purses and telling them that salvation is tied to tithes and that seed sowing is only money donation to the church/pastor’s coffers. One down, more to roll. Christ be praised.”

In her post, Chinyere Okechukwu-George, claimed to have left the church when she observed some irregularities.

“I and my family left Christ Embassy for our own good after worshiping there for three years plus and seeing all the things going on under the disguise of church. And I can comfortably say that for over a year now, we have had so much peace in our Christian lives. I don’t care how you view my comment but truth must be told.”

Joseph Osagiede, however, responded saying the Oyakhilomes were still together.

He said, “I have been in Christ Embassy for 12 years. All is totally well with thier marriage. All those wishing them to split and also those going about saying nasty things about the church, be careful.”

Faith Ebunoluwa Adetayo also said, “I have been in Christ Embassy since 1990s and I can authoritatively say some things: I have seen the power of God work, demonstrated in healings and many other things. I have seen how that Pastor Chris is less concerned about mistakes we make.

“He believes that these sins of the flesh will disappear, only if we listen to the word of God. Rather than condemning us, he speaks words of encouragement. And for your information, Pastor Anita is still very much in the ministry and she’s with her darling husband.”

Meanwhile, the Christ Embassy has kept mum on the divorce case.

SOURCE