PAKISTAN – Another Pakistani Christian girl kidnapped, raped and forced to convert to Islam
On Tuesday 22 August, police found Sameera, a 16-year-old Christian girl who had been kidnapped on 31 July. She had been raped, forcibly married to her captor, and forced to convert to Islam. A 2014 report by a Pakistani NGO estimated that each year at least 700 Christian girls and young women and 300 Hindu girls and young women suffer similar abuse. Many abductors escape justice because the girl is not able to testify freely in court, while her abductor claims she is now a Muslim and freely consented to marry him. Abductors often produce a “conversion certificate.” So great is the problem that in November 2016 the provincial assembly in Pakistan’s Sindh province unanimously passed a bill to make forced conversion illegal. However, in January this year the assembly was told to “think again,” after Pakistan’s Council on Islamic Ideology objected to it.
From Barnabas Aid project partner
PAKISTAN – Innocent Christian dies in Pakistan prison
An innocent Christian man has died in a Pakistan prison. In March 2015, suicide bombers killed 22 and injured another 85 in attacks on two churches in Youhanabad, a poor area of Lahore where an estimated 130,000 Christians live. Although police quickly arrested two suspects, some people took the law into their own hands and attacked the suspects, leading to their deaths. Police arrested 42 Christian men, even though the vast majority could not be identified in film footage of the attack. All the men deny being involved and have been held since then in poor conditions in prison, unable to support their families. Among them was 36-year-old Indrayas Ghulam, who has now died in prison while awaiting trial. He had only lived in the area a few months before the attack and was arrested as he and his wife left home to go shopping that evening. He was held by the police for ten days without a case being registered against him and then transferred to prison, where he remained until his death. For the last four months he suffered so badly from tuberculosis that he could not walk to the bathroom. However, he was not taken to hospital until 12 August and even then within an hour he was sent back to prison, where he died the next day. He leaves behind a widow and children aged 12, 10 and 6.
From Christians in Pakistan here
MYANMAR (BURMA) – Christians injured and have properties destroyed in Buddhist mob attack
In an attack by a local Buddhist mob on 7 July on Christian worshippers, four people were injured, of whom two were hospitalized, and properties belonging to Christian families were destroyed. The four-hour attack, beginning at 8.00 pm, came the day after the Buddhist monk abbot in Teetaw village summoned four new Christian converts to the village monastery. The Christians were given the option to either re-convert to Buddhism or be banished from the village, which is near Htee Chaik, Sagaing region. The four Christians refused to convert.
The monk had sent a letter of complaint to the Chair of the local townships, claiming the Christian converts had “insulted the village monk abbot and other Buddhists, defied orders not to celebrate Christian festivities and that the predominant Buddhist villagers do not want to live side by side with those worshipping ‘Kalar’ God.” The Chair took a team to investigate the claim but found it to be untrue and that no actions needed to be taken since “freedom of religion is ensured in Myanmar.”
An eyewitness had this to say of the attack: “Had the police not arrived in time, the attackers were ready to burn down the house and kill the occupants. Some of the attackers were yelling, ‘burn them down,’ while others tried to stop them for fear that the fire could spread to other houses nearby.”
From Chinland Guardian here
EGYPT – Christians banned from Sunday service and forcibly dispersed from the street by police for chanting “Lord, have mercy”
Police banned Christians in Minya, Egypt, from attending their church on Sunday morning (20 August) to attend a service. Security forces cordoned off the area and stopped the minister from entering the church premises. The police then forcibly dispersed the Christians who had gathered in the street and were chanting “Lord, have mercy”. The police filed a report citing claims from Muslims that there was no permit to hold religious services in the building. The building has been used for worship over many years, in a Christian-majority neighbourhood of the village of al-Furn.
Following these events, Christians in the village of al-Furn have sent a letter to President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi saying: “In all your talks and speeches, Mr President, you insist that Egyptian citizens should live in dignity and equality. Today, we met treatment totally opposed to that. We were treated as though we were criminals or outlaws who had to be taken to justice on charges of practising our religious rites.”
At least 16 churches in Minya province remain closed after the government voiced “security concerns” in recent years
From Wataninet here
INDIA – Pastor arrested and accused of wrongful conversion
On 30 July, a mob of about 20 – 25 Hindu extremists led by members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP – World Council of Hindus) and the Gau Rakshaks (cow vigilantes) disrupted Sunday worship in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh state. “They threatened the worshippers and chased them away. They manhandled me and threatened to assault me if I did not stop conducting the Sunday worship,” Pastor Mahendra Gangwar told Global Christian News. The Hindu extremists also informed the police, which led to Pastor Gangwar being arrested, with the police being pressured into acting against him.
A group of Christian leaders from Bareilly attended the police station and Gangwar was later released. One day after the arrest, local newspapers made allegations that Gangwar had promised to find a wife for a Hindu man if he converted to Christianity. Police have informed Gangwar that charges of ‘forceful conversion’ have been levied against him and that after initial investigations they have found these charges to be true. “The allegations against me are baseless. If the police summons him and digs into the facts, I am sure he will easily deny that I ever tried to convert him neither forcefully nor by allurement,” said Gangwar in response to the claims.
From Global Christian News here
IRAN – Ayatollah warns that many Iranian young people are converting to Christianity
An Iranian ayatollah in Qom, one of the most conservatively Islamic cities in Iran, has warned that more and more Iranian young people are converting to Christianity. Although sometimes Islamic religious leaders make such statements as a way of inciting violence against relatively small Christian minorities, external evidence corroborates his assertion that many Iranian young people are embracing Christianity. This is despite those converting facing prison or even death for doing so.
From Mohabat News here
Two weeks ago, Barnabas Aid reported on the story of prominent Iranian actress Aideen Strandsson, who converted to Christianity while living in Sweden. She now faces deportation to Iran, where her life will be at risk, after the Swedish government refused her asylum application. As in all such cases that we publicise through our Christian Action in the West articles, we would encourage our supporters to write a firm but polite letter of concern to the country’s embassy. To find the postal address, telephone number and email address of the Swedish embassy in your country, click here and select the appropriate country in the bar at the top of the web page.
EGYPT – Egyptian authorities bow to extremist pressure and close church
A church in Egypt’s Minya province has been closed for the last month by the local authorities after Muslim extremists threatened to riot if it were not closed. At least 15 other churches in Minya province remain closed after the government voiced similar “security concerns” in recent years. Rather than protecting the Christians, the local authorities give the extremists what they demand. Islamists have repeatedly tried to either close down or destroy churches in Minya. For example, after President Morsi’s government was ousted in 2013, more than 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked and set fire to churches there. In 2015, after 21 Christians were beheaded by Islamic State in Libya, Islamists attacked and set fire to the church to which 13 of those killed belonged.
On 20 August police also banned Christians in the village of al-Furn, Minya from attending a service at their church
From Global Christian News here
From Wataninet here