Persecution News

“If one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”(1 Corinthians 12:26-27).

(Compass) -- Taliban authorities arrested 35 more Afghan aid workers, bringing the total to more than 50 Afghans jailed by the strict Islamist regime since early August on suspicion of aiding covert Christian missionary work. At least 35 Afghans employed by the recently banned International Assistance Mission (IAM) were taken into custody at the Planning Ministry office in Kabul when they came to get their salary payment. The Taliban have accused IAM and another Christian agency, SERVE, of links with the Shelter Now relief organization, shut down in early August for allegedly trying to convert Muslim Afghans to Christianity.
The regime's religious police arrested eight foreigners and 16 Afghans working for Shelter Now.
Taliban officials continue to sidestep the death penalty possibility which hangs over both the foreigners and their Afghan workers, stating that once a verdict is reached, the punishment will be decided "according to the principles of Islamic law." Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said on Thursday a decree offering lenient treatment to foreigners accused of spreading Christianity did not apply in this case.
Last week, CNN reported that all foreign aid workers had been ejected by the Taliban, and that they were in the process of leaving when the attacks on the US happened. It is unknown whether all aid workers were able to leave before the closing of the Afghani borders yesterday. It is also unknown if the trial is progressing despite the threats of war. It is also not known whether the attacks might have been religiously motivated.
(We've also received word that The US State Department fears that if military actions against Afghanistan proceed, the Taliban government will execute the American prisoners without waiting for the outcome of the trial, in retaliation for any Afghani deaths. The prisoners are now presumed to be hostages.) FOTC
The Taliban, who espouse a purist form of Islam, have been internationally condemned for rights abuses -- especially against women -- and the destruction of pre-Islamic heritage.

(Compass) -- At least 13 foreign Christians have been arrested since mid-July in Jeddah, where Saudi Arabia's religious police are apparently trying to track down Saudi nationals thought to have contact with expatriate house churches in the city. The detained Christians, all nationals from India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Eritrea, are members of house church groups within Jeddah's expatriate community.
A gathering of about 400 Christian foreigners in a rented hall in late June may have triggered the wave of arrests. A report filed with police complained that the party was"a Christian meeting in a public place," which is strictly forbidden under the Islamic laws of the Saudi kingdom.

Christians and Muslims clashed again Sept. 12 in central Nigeria, causing the loss of at least 500 lives within less than a week. Residents said the attacks on New York and Washington, welcomed by some Muslims in the Middle East, had fueled fresh fighting in the central city of Jos.
"Some (Muslim) people have been jubilating because of what happened in the United States, and I believe that must have encouraged them," one resident told Reuters by phone after fleeing fighting in Nasarawa district on the outskirts of Jos.
The state-run national newspaper Daily Times, quoting unnamed sources, said three trucks had carried at least 500 bodies to a mass burial.
Residents said the real toll could be higher. One reported seeing at least five trucks loaded with dead since Friday.
Red Cross officials confirmed at least 165 people had been killed and 928 injured earlier in the week, but then said they would release no more casualty figures for fear of fueling hostilities.

(Compass) -- On August 15, statements made by India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during a book release gathering startled Christians in India. "There is a conversion motive behind the welfare activities being carried out by some Christian missionaries in the country's backward areas and it is not proper, though conversion is permissible under the law,"
Vajpayee said. His comments came soon after Christians had been involved in relief work in the wake of the Gujarat earthquake, the Orissa floods and a number of other natural calamities. Some considered the remarks "a slap of ingratitude in the face." The last 10 days of August saw unprecedented and unprovoked violence in India against Christian workers by Hindu extremists allegedly encouraged by Vajpayee's statements.

(Compass) -- A Christian community center in Malaysia was set ablaze on July 21 by suspected Muslim extremists. The building was unoccupied during the alleged arson attack. The early Saturday morning fire gutted the Marthoma Christian Community Center in Sungei Patani, a city located about 190 miles northwest of Kuala Lumpur in Kedah state on peninsular Malaysia.
Damage to the center was estimated at 300,000 ringgits ($79,000). Police told church authorities that they believe members of the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM, or Kumpulan Militan Malaysia) are responsible for the fire.
Since the fire, the congregation has been forced to meet in homes for Sunday morning services. Church members are reported to be "discouraged and demoralized" by the destruction of their building.
Christians comprise about seven percent of Malaysia's 21 million people.

(Compass) -- After months of threats, fears, meetings and prayers, the persecution crisis in San Nicolas, Ixmiquilpan, in Mexico's Hidalgo state, appears to be resolved. The evangelical Christian families who were to be expelled from their homes -- and had gone for months without services such as water and drainage -- can finally sleep at night in peace.
State and federal government officials had stepped in to resolve the conflict after a June deadline was given to 230 evangelicals to renounce their faith or be expelled from their homes and community. At an August 22 meeting, the state governor and other top officials met in Pachuca, the state capital, with evangelical representatives and town leaders.
At that time, a "definitive agreement" was signed by all concerned. By August 27, pipes for water service to evangelical homes were being installed after having been torn out months earlier.

(Compass) – The Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) has accused the government of Bauchi state in northern Nigeria of using Muslim mercenaries to attack Christians in Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro local government areas, which are mainly inhabited by Christians. Religious conflicts broke out between Muslims and Christians in the two areas on June 18 and August 5.
Executive Council members of the church, who met on the issue in Jos, August 6-8, expressed concern over the violence between Muslims and Christians.
They accused the Bauchi state government of aligning with the Muslims to attack Christians.
As proof of their claims, the church leaders said, “Three vehicles have been intercepted, loaded with warriors (mercenaries) and weapons entering the conflict areas. …This has resulted in many deaths and widespread destruction.”
The clashes left more than 100 persons dead, and about 5,000 Christians have become refugees.
Five Christian students died during a clash between Muslim and Christian students of the Kaduna State Polytechnic University in Zaria City in northern Nigeria. The conflict broke out on Monday, August 27, during students' union elections of the school.
When the results of the students' polls were announced showing that contesting Christian students had won the elections, "The Muslim students attacked Christian students, injuring many of them, some of whom were hospitalized, and five of them were killed," said youth leader Mr. Sunday Oibe. He believes that the conflict is a result of the tension created by the introduction, adoption, and implementation of the Islamic legal code, or "sharia," in several states in northern Nigeria.
Oibe stressed that the Islamic legal code has led to the polarization of Nigerians along religious lines.

(Compass) -- After nearly five years in jail and more than three on death row, Pakistani Christian Ayub Masih is one step away from either Supreme Court acquittal -- or the gallows. Masih, now 34, is the most high-profile Christian prisoner victimized by Pakistan's blasphemy law. In July, the Multan High Court confirmed the April 1998 "guilty" verdict against Masih by the Sahiwal Sessions Court.
Under Section 295-C of the Pakistan penal code, anyone convicted of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed must be executed.
Masih's neighbor filed the blasphemy case against him, claiming that Masih said, "If you want to know the truth about Islam, read Salman Rushdie." So Masih is down to the last appeal allowed within Pakistan's judicial system: petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn the first two judgments. It is not known when the appeal will be heard.

PERSECUTION NEWS is a non-regular periodic service of Foot of the Cross Publications. Articles are copied from various sources, including Newsweek, Australian Broadcasting Corp, Compass Direct, Religious News Today and FridayFax and others as noted with each article. Persecution News is published for the sole purpose of disseminating information about persecution of Christians around the world, and subscriptions are free.
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The INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH (IDOP) is coming up Sunday November 4, 2001. Thousands of churches throughout the world will be remembering, praying for and calling public attention to the persecuted Christians by participating in IDOP activities on that day, and for weeks beforehand.
With the many current news stories about Christians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and other places, there has never been a better time to bring persecution to the attention of the world.
Read the book of Esther during the month of September in preparation for IDOP activities.
Write letters to the editor of your local paper, pass out copies of this newsletter to others in your community, contact Voice of the Martyrs for information about having a special presentation in your community, obtain a presentation packet from VOM and show the video to your church.
Even wearing a “Christians Still Die” t-shirt can have an impact in curbing persecution activities.
Last year, many Christians hung mini Christmas lights, made by imprisoned Christians in China, on their front window and lit them for the world to see as a show of support for the persecuted brethren. You might even write to your local paper saying that you are going to do this and why.
Evil thrives on silence. Let’s not be silent anymore.