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Newsdesk - 15 June 2017

14 June 2017


JORDAN – Christian girls forced off bus for eating; government shuts down restaurants during Ramadan

On 5 June, two Christian girls were forced off a bus travelling between Amman and Aqaba because they were eating during Ramadan, when many Muslims observe a strict daytime fast. Following a complaint from a Muslim passenger, the driver evicted the girls from the bus at the next intersection, where they were met by police; even Muslims are in fact permitted by sharia law to eat during Ramadan if they are on a journey. Earlier this month, Jordanian security forces shut down a restaurant on the outskirts of the capital Amman which was serving food to students from an international university.

Although Jordan is generally viewed as one of the more tolerant countries in the Middle East, Islam is the country’s state religion and eating in public during Ramadan is technically an offence punishable by imprisonment or a fine. There are indications that Islamic extremism is growing. Last year, a prominent writer from Jordan’s small Christian community was shot dead by Islamist gunmen outside a court in the capital where he was due to go on trial for contempt of religion after sharing an allegedly offensive cartoon on social media.

From Al Monitor here



NIGERIA – Muslim youth condemned for call to evict Christian ethnic community

Sixteen Muslim youth organisations have issued an ultimatum for the predominantly Christian Igbo tribe to leave northern Nigeria by 1 October 2017. “From today, June 6, 2017, when this proclamation is signed, the North, a critical player in the Nigerian project, hereby declares that it will no longer be disposed to coexisting with the Igbo.”

Regional governors in Kaduna state were reportedly planning to send buses to evacuate Igbo communities, but the Muslim state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, intervened to halt the plans and ordered the arrest of the signatories to the anti-Igbo ultimatum. El-Rufai asserted that “the state government condemns in the strongest terms the press statement by some self-appointed northern youths that threatened the safety and property of our citizens of Igbo extraction … This government has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement. People … cannot use our state to do or say things that threaten the peace."

Christians in Kaduna state have suffered a wave of attacks in the last two years. In the face of violence and threats they remain in the Muslim-dominated region – but for how much longer?

From Global Christian News here



PAKISTAN – Christian sanitary worker refused treatment by Muslim doctor who did not want to become “unclean”

A Christian sanitary worker, Irfan Masih, died on 1 June, after a Muslim doctor at a hospital in Lahore refused to treat him because touching his sewage-covered body would make him “unclean” during Ramadan. After Irfan collapsed while cleaning a sewer, he was taken to hospital, but the first doctor who saw Irfan refused to treat him until he had been cleaned, because it was Ramadan. Another doctor later attempted to treat Irfan, but he could not be resuscitated. Most sanitary workers – one of the lowest-status jobs, which involves sweeping streets and cleaning sewers – are Christians.

Although it is not clear that the doctor refused to treat Irfan specifically because he was a Christian, Irfan’s unnecessary and tragic death is a stark example of how the lowly position of the Christian minority in Pakistani society leads to great vulnerability and much suffering.

From Global Christian News here



NIGERIA – Church leaders call for action against murderous Fulani herdsmen

Church leaders in Nigeria have called on the government to take concerted action to stop attacks on Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

The joint communique by Anglican leaders in Delta state said:

"We are worried that the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen have continued unabated and unchecked. The recurring and orchestrated killings of Christians in Southern Kaduna, mass killings in parts of Benue State and others across the country have increased suspicion that the so-called herdsmen are an extension of terrorist groups carrying out an evil agenda of ethnic and religious cleansing. Characteristically, these mindless attacks are often unprovoked.

“They sack entire villages, rape women and girls, maim, kidnap, kill and commit other forms of violence while destroying farmlands and economic sources, which are the natives' source of livelihood. Several communities in Delta State such as Uwheru, Olomu, Abraka, to mention but a few, have been under siege by these herdsmen. Very appalling is the near silence and indifference of the Federal Government and the ineffectiveness of the security agencies to tackle this problem.

“We therefore, call on the Church today to wake up, be keenly observant, watchful, vigilant and mindful of the enemies of our souls and our faith. Rather than become careless, indifferent, anxious or fearful in the face of these threatening events and disturbing trends, Christians must be more prayerful, focused and strategic in order to escape the many dangers looming in the atmosphere, being conscious that the world is coming to an end and at last to triumph and be able to stand before our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In January of this year, the Christian Association of Nigeria organised mass protests calling on Nigeria’s Muslim president to defend Christians from Fulani violence.

From All Africa here



INDIA – School text book “typing error” refers to Jesus as a demon

Christians in the western state of Gujarat are calling on authorities to withdraw a government-school text book which refers to Jesus as a “demon”. In a section of the high school (secondary school) textbook on the “Guru-disciple relationship in Indian culture”, a Scripture reference is preceded by the phrase that, “one statement by the demon Jesus is always memorable”. A government spokesperson claimed that the reference, which reads “hevaan Isa” in Hindi, “may be a typo”.

The Christian faith, and often the history of Christian communities, is deliberately misrepresented in government school text books in many countries in which Christians are in the minority. India is officially a secular state and the constitution formally upholds the rights of the country’s minorities. However, since the rise to power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (leader of the Hindu nationalist BJP party) in 2014, incidents of persecution against Christians, including violent attacks, have shown a marked increase.

From the Times of India here



IRAQ – Christian girl freed from Islamic State reunited with her parents

A six-year-old Christian girl has been reunited with her parents, three years after she was kidnapped by Islamic State (IS). Christina was snatched when the family home in Qaraqosh was overrun by IS militants in August 2014. Her mother and father, Aida and Khader, spent years trying to track down their daughter and eventually found her in a poor neighbourhood in the city of Mosul. On 9 June they were reunited. “The best day of my life is the day when Christina came back,” said her mother.

Although back with her parents, Christina’s future remains uncertain. The family home in Qaraqosh has been completely destroyed and they now live in a Christian refugee camp in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Aida and Khader are hoping to be able to emigrate, with Christina and her two brothers and two sisters.

From Reuters here