Pray for Christians under threat this Christmas
Barnabas Aid is calling for urgent prayer over the Christmas and New Year period for Christians living in persecution hotspots in light of a series of threats and attacks against them.
Anti-Christian violence is often focused on Christian festivals, and sadly this year looks set to be no exception; recent weeks have seen growing instability for Christians in , , , and .
Christmas has been all but cancelled in , with many church services in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk called off after threats of attacks were posted on the websites of armed groups. Efforts are being made by the Iraqi authorities to protect church , including the erection of tall concrete barriers and airport-style security at the entrances.1 On Monday, Iraqi army special forces killed three Libyans suspected of planning suicide bombings in a raid in the northern city of Mosul, where Christians have been murdered in their homes and workplaces.
In , countrywide demonstrations are being planned for tomorrow (Christmas Eve) and New Year’s Eve by Islamic extremists in defence of the country’s controversial "blasphemy law", which is often misused against Christians and other non-Muslims. The campaign was sparked by proposals to change the law after Christian mother-of-five Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Police in said they were on alert for terrorist attacks against Christians over the Christmas period in light of a series of incidents, which included the explosion of a homemade bomb at a church near Solo in central Java.
Christians are particularly vulnerable to attack around the Western Christmas Day on 25 December and the Eastern Christmas Day on 7 January. The Western New Year on 1 January is also a frequent focus of anti-Christian violence, as it is believed by many in other parts of the world to be a Christian festival.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, said:
Christmas is meant to be the season of peace and goodwill, but for many of our brothers and sisters around the world it will bring only fear and danger. As we enjoy the freedom to celebrate openly the coming of our Lord to His troubled world, we must pray for their protection and peace this Christmas.