Newsdesk - 22 June 2017

Egypt, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Philippines

 

KENYA – Al Shabaab terrorists murder Christian teacher

Elly Ojiema, a Christian teacher from the village of Fafi in Garissa, north-east Kenya, was murdered by Al Shabaab militants last Wednesday night (14 June). Local Somali Muslims warned the Christian community that an attack was imminent and around 9pm on 14 June, armed men entered the school compound. Barnabas Aid’s project partner in Garissa reported that “They found Elly under the bed and shot his leg, dragged him out and killed him by cutting his throat.” Another Christian teacher who was also in the compound escaped.

Al Shabaab was responsible for the 2015 attack on Garissa University in which Christians were singled out and murdered
Al Shabaab was responsible for the 2015 attack on Garissa University in which Christians were singled out and murdered

The Somali-based Islamist group, Al Shabaab, has repeatedly targeted Christians in north-east Kenya. In October 2016, twelve believers were murdered at a guest house in Mandera. Most infamously, in April 2015, 148 people were killed when Al Shabaab attacked Garissa University and singled out Christians for execution. Last month (May 2017), Al Shabaab released a video showing a militant “graduation ceremony” which encouraged attacks on Kenyan Christians.

Our project partner concludes: “It has been a very tough two weeks for us … Keep us in your prayers.”

From Barnabas Aid partners

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INDIA – Hindu nationalists aim to make India “Hindu nation” by 2023

The leader of a Hindu nationalist organisation, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has called upon Hindus to make India a “Hindu nation” by 2023. Speaking at a gathering of Hindu organisations, Sadhvi Saraswati stated that “Christians and Muslims in the country have to … do a ghar wapasi,” a Hindi phrase meaning “homecoming” which implies that all non-Hindus should return to their original “home” which is regarded as Hinduism. This concept is applied to all non-Hindu Indians, whether or not they were born into a Hindu family originally.

Saraswati also claimed that “the Hindu population [in India] is living under threat today. If there is a need to pick up arms to protect our religion, I see no wrong in that." He asserted that the goal of establishing a Hindu nation would not be held back by the Indian constitution – which defends the rights of minorities – because “the [true] constitution is one that was written by Ram and Krishna [Hindu deities]”.

From Times of India here

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MALAYSIA – Islamic organisations call for “dangerous movement” of evangelical Christianity to be outlawed

A group of Islamic organisations has called for evangelical Christianity to be effectively outlawed in the country, claiming that "In Malaysia, the dangerous movement that is evangelicalism must be kept in check as it threatens religious harmony … the government needs to consider introducing anti-evangelicalism laws.” The group also voiced support for the banning of a four-day Christian event in Malacca last week, suggesting that police actions were "in line with the duties of the country's administrators in protecting the Muslim faithful”.

The National Evangelical Fellowship of Malaysia stated that the accusations, which were published in a national newspaper, promoted “ill-will and hostility against evangelical Christians” and violated “the basic human rights and protections guaranteed under our [Malaysia’s] Federal Constitution.”

Around 60% of the 30 million people who live in Malaysia are Muslim. Although there is a sizeable non-Muslim population and one of the country’s eleven states (Sarawak, on the island of Borneo) is majority-Christian, national identity has been built around ethnic Malays’ connection to Islam.

From The Malaysian Insight here

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PHILIPPINES – Muslims protecting Christians in IS-controlled Marawi city by lending them hijabs

Muslims in the Marawi have been lending Christians hijabs (Islamic head covering for women) so they can escape the attention of Islamic State militants, who still control parts of the city. Around 1,500 civilians are still reported to be trapped in the Marawi, nearly a month after Islamist militants stormed the city on the island of Mindanao and began targeting Christians and torching churches. President Rodrigo Duterte sent further troops to Marawi on Monday (19 June) as government forces continue to battle with militants who have campaigned for Mindanao to become an Islamic state governed by sharia.

From the Independent (UK) and Philippines Inquirer

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EGYPT – Police trash and close down church and Christian community centre

On 16 June police forcibly entered a three-storey Christian community centre in Saft al-Kharsa, a village around 60 miles south of Cairo. The centre is also used for church meetings. They flung furniture and worship materials on to the street and barred the door with chains. The building is not officially registered as a church. However, local Christians applied to formally register it in November 2016 – following the Egyptian Parliament’s landmark ruling which was supposed to replace Ottoman-era restrictions on the construction of churches – but to date have received no official reply.

Police raided the Christian community centre and flung furniture and worship materials on to the street (source: Wataninet)
Police raided the Christian community centre and flung furniture and worship materials on to the street (source: Wataninet)

The regional Governor, who is responsible for church applications under the new law, met with church leaders on 17 June. He informed them that the new legislation is not yet in force locally and that he understood the community centre building was “dilapidated and that a demolition order had been issued”. Following discussions with church leaders, the Governor agreed to re-open the centre, but refused to permit religious services without direct permission from the Prime Minister.

The Christian community in Saft al-Kharsa were targeted by a Muslim mob in July last year (2016) after false rumours circulated that a timber workshop was to be converted into a church.

From Wataninet here

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