Newsdesk - 14 September 2017

 

PAKISTAN – Christian school-boy beaten to death by Muslim classmates

On 30 August, Sharoon Masih, a 17-year-old Pakistani Christian student, was beaten to death by Muslim classmates. Sharoon was the only Christian in the 9th grade at the school he had recently started at, MC Model Boys Government High School in Burewala. According to reports, this event took place after Sharoon drank water from the same glass as the other boys. Teachers and other students allegedly watched these events unfold but did nothing to help. Unconscious and unresponsive, Sharoon was taken to hospital but doctors had confirmed his death half an hour before he arrived there.

A murder case has been registered against Ahmed Raza and one unknown person. Ahmed is in police custody but the co-accused is yet to be arrested. In their report on the tragic events, the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement noted, “Although anti-Christian violence is common in the Muslim nation, the youthfulness of the mob, in this case, marks an ugly first for the country.”

Christians in Pakistan are viewed as unclean by Muslims and therefore some Muslims refuse to use any utensils that Christians have handled. Sharoon’s death is one of many incidents that Barnabas has reported on, where Christians have been attacked for touching or drinking water. In 2009, Aasia Bibi was taken into custody after she was accused of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad during an argument with fellow women field-labourers. The disagreement started when they refused to drink water that she had fetched because she was a Christian. In 2016, in Faisalabad, Pakistan, a Christian was told he could not be the “water man” at the school where he was employed because he was a Christian.

From The Express Tribune here & CLAAS here

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SUDAN – Christian refugees from South Sudan forced to recite Islamic shahada to receive food aid

Reports emerging from Sudan suggest Christian refugees fleeing the fighting in South Sudan have been denied government food aid unless they convert to Islam.

South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, following a civil war resulting from the attempt of the Arab and mainly Muslim north of Sudan to enforce sharia on the mainly Christian and African south. However, since then, tribal rivalries between the President and Vice President of the new country have led to a devastating civil war in South Sudan itself.

Nearly a million people have fled south into Uganda, where they are being assisted by local Christians with the help of Barnabas Aid. However, for others, fleeing south has been too difficult or dangerous and they have been forced to flee north to Sudan, of all places. As Barnabas Aid has previously reported, Sudan is a country which arbitrarily arrests and imprisons Christians, closes down Christian schools and churches and does not even officially recognise that its citizens can be anything other than Muslim. Yet, the UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that there are now approximately 460,000 South Sudanese who have been forced to flee as refugees to Sudan.

Disturbingly, there are now reports emerging that not only have churches in Sudan been banned from providing food aid to Christians, but also, Christian refugees including children have been forced to recite the Islamic creed, the shahada, in order to receive government food aid. If these reports are true – and they fit the broader pattern of what is happening in Sudan – then since reciting the shahada is viewed by Muslims as converting to Islam, this amounts to “forced conversion” to Islam.

From ICN here

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ISRAEL – Work ban to be enforced on Eritrean Christian asylum seekers

Interior Minister Ayre Dery has said that he will make sure that African asylum seekers who refuse to leave for Uganda or Rwanda are unable to work in Israel.

“If successful, the new policy will enforce a full work ban on any Eritrean asylum seeker who receives a deportation notice but refuses to leave. This law will essentially legalize starvation and homelessness as a punishment for our simply being in Israel.” – reported a Barnabas Aid project partner.

Eritrean Christians
Eritrean Christians

This announcement came just a few days after the Israeli Supreme Court amended a law which would automatically sentence any Eritrean who refuses to leave to indefinite imprisonment in Saharonim prison. Now the Eritreans can only be sentenced to a maximum of two months in prison. The project partner told Barnabas, “Arbitrary imprisonment is so common for the Eritrean people that another two months is not enough to break our spirits.” 

About 40,000 African refugees currently live in Israel, mainly Eritreans with a smaller number of Sudanese. Israeli government policy towards them was already harsh, and the planned new work ban for those who refuse to leave will make their lives all but unendurable.  

From Barnabas Aid project partner

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NIGERIA – Christian leaders accuse government of “stealth jihad”

Christian leaders in Nigeria have accused the government of complicity in a jihad against them. In a press release dated 6 September, the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) voiced their frustration about attempts to deny the existence of the jihad that is being waged against Christians in Northern Nigeria. The Christian leaders stated that when they speak out the truth about what is happening they are “criminalized” and their criticism described as “hate speech.”

The NCEF point to statements by Boko Haram saying that, “This war is not political. It is religious. It is between Muslims and unbelievers.” They also point to a 2015 report suggesting that, by December 2014, 13,000 Christian places of worship had been destroyed in Northern Nigeria.

They also accuse the Nigerian government of ignoring the constitution, stating, “Every key and sensitive position in National Security is held by Muslims from the North, in outright violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.”

From GCN here

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