Friday, October 14, 2011

More persecution of Christians

From Barnabas Trust

A young Pakistani Christian man was shot dead in a violent Muslim takeover of land allocated to a Christian village by the government.

Saqib (Sabir) Masih (22) was killed on the spot, and 37 people, including a one-year-old and seven other children, were seriously injured as a mob of around 60 Muslims descended on the village in Mian Channu, Punjab, on Wednesday (5 October). The wounded were taken to hospital; six of them were described as being in a critical condition.

The Muslim aggressors came to the Christian village to claim a plot of land that had been allocated by the government to house a resident workman. It had been illegally sold to two Muslims by the worker who was being accommodated there; he then fled with the proceeds of US$1,500.


Women from a mainly Christian ethnic group are being raped and murdered by the Burmese military as government forces intensify their offensive in Kachin State.

Human rights activists are reporting an increased incidence of rape against Kachin women since the government broke a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organisation, which controls the territory, by attacking ethnic forces in June.

The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), which has been documenting incidents, reported 18 cases of gang rape over an eight day period in June shortly after fighting broke out between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army. Four of the victims were killed after being raped. KWAT said that in one village, soldiers caught three families who had not managed to flee in time; six women and girls were gang-raped, and seven small children killed.

IRIN, the news service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on 26 September that the number of reported rapes to date that month was 37 in areas where government troops are active.

David Scott Mathieson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: The use of sexual violence is one of the most serious within a whole litany of abuses that include forced labour, torture and ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution.

More than 25,000 people are now believed to have been displaced by the fighting as the Burmese army repeatedly attacks Kachin villages. Most internally displaced persons are living in temporary bamboo shelters with plastic sheet roofing at makeshift camps on the Chinese border. They are surviving on a small amount of rice a day as Kachin aid groups are running out of means to help them. Crowded living conditions, poor sanitation and lack of clean water have led to illness and the death of a number of children. At one site, 2,000 people are sharing ten toilets. Over 90 per cent of the 1.2 million Kachins are Christian. Most Christians in Burma are members of non-Burman ethnic minorities; they are frequently targeted by the military, partly for their ethnicity and partly for their faith.

A Kachin leader said: They want to wipe out our ethnic group and force us to become Buddhists like them, speak like them and become one of them.

The military has been pushing into other border areas including Shan and Karen. Many analysts believe that they want to access and control areas that are rich in energy resources to supply neighbouring China with electricity.

An Iraqi convert from Islam to Christianity was violently attacked in America over a poem he wrote about the Jewish Holocaust.
Alaa Alsaegh was targeted in St Louis, Missouri, because of his Arabic poem, “Tears at the Heart of the Holocaust”, which expresses pain over the loss of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

The attackers carved the Star of David on Alsaegh’s back with a knife while laughing as they recited his poem. They had trapped the Iraqi immigrant using two cars as he was driving along in St Louis. One cut across and struck his car, forcing him to stop, while the other blocked his vehicle from behind. Two attackers then got out of the cars, opened Alsaegh’s door and pointed a gun at him. They pushed his upper body down against the steering wheel, stabbed him and pulled off his shirt before carving the Jewish symbol on his back.

Alsaegh, who survived the ordeal, said that the assailants may have been Somali Muslims; they told him not to publish any more poems. The FBI has opened an investigation into the incident, but no arrests have yet been made.


More than 50 churches have been shut down or demolished by the authorities in Indonesia since the start of 2010, often following pressure from Islamist groups.

The Jakarta Christian Communication Forum (FKKJ), which includes leaders of all denominations, reported that 47 were closed in 2010, plus a further nine in the first four months of 2011.

The official reasons given for the closures were that the buildings were being used as places of worship without a licence or without the minimum required number of 60 worshippers. But the FKKJ questioned: Why is this only applied to the Christian churches and not other places of worship?

In most cases, measures were taken following protests from radical Muslim groups, especially in areas where there is a strong presence of the Islamic Defenders Front.

The treatment of GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor, West Java, is a recent example of blatant discrimination by the authorities. The congregation has been holding services on the street in front of its half-constructed church since its building permit was revoked in 2008. Bogor city chiefs, spearheaded by the mayor, have refused to comply with a Supreme Court order issued in December 2010 that the church be reopened. The mayor has said that churches should not be built on a street with an Islamic name; GKI Yasmin is situated on a road named after an Islamic leader from West Java.

As well as discrimination by the authorities, churches in Indonesia are often attacked by extremists. On 25 September, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive at the Bethel Injil Sepuluh church in Keputon, Solo, Central Java, as people were leaving the service; 28 were injured in the blast.

The FKKJ recommended a number of responses for Indonesian churches that face problems with the authorities. These included knowing the rules and responding with legal action, establishing fruitful dialogue with local Muslim leaders, meeting the civil authorities, and initiating positive activities in the community. It said that Christians in Indonesia “want to be a blessing to society and the nation.”


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