CAR – Killing of Christians continues despite “peace agreement” with rebels
Attacks on Christian communities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have continued, despite the government signing a peace agreement with 13 rebel groups in Rome on 19 June. On 21 June, the house of a church pastor in Bria, around 350 miles north-east of the capital Bangui, was torched. Barnabas Aid’s project partner reports that “many churches are still being burned down and Christians are fleeing into bushes … Several pastors in the hinterland have already paid the price”. Reprisal attacks on Muslims by so-called Christian “anti-balaka” groups have also continued; church leaders have repeatedly condemned violence by the militias. Our partner concludes, “Please pray for the hearts of the children of God, and for the servants of God who are victims of atrocities”.
From Barnabas Aid Project Partners
EGYPT – Police foil planned Alexandria church suicide bombing
Egyptian police have foiled the planned suicide bombing of a church in Alexandria, the location of one of the two deadly church suicide attacks carried out by Islamic State (IS) on Palm Sunday in April. Six members of a terrorist cell were arrested on Saturday (24 June). One attacker had reportedly planned to explode his suicide device inside a church, while another was going to detonate a bomb when emergency services arrived. In February, IS released a propaganda video threatening to eliminate Egypt’s “apostate” Christians.
From AFP, via i24 news here
INDIA – Police grant bail to minor but six still held over Christian summer camp “kidnapping”
Police in Madhya Pradesh have granted bail to a youth who was arrested along with six other believers who were taking a group of children to a Christian summer camp in May. Six adults remain in custody. They face charges of kidnapping and forced conversion. Although the children and their parents are Christian, authorities have claimed the parents had not submitted the necessary paperwork when they converted to Christianity and therefore their children are still officially Hindu. Consequently, taking the children to a Christian camp was alleged to equate to “forced conversion”, which is illegal in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Relatives who visited one of the Christians imprisoned reported that he was beaten by police during interrogation; the family also told Global Christian News that they have been harassed by police.
From Global Christian News here
IRAN – Christian cemetery destroyed
An historic Assyrian and Armenian cemetery in north-west Iran has been destroyed recently in what appears to be part of a continued effort to eradicate historical evidence of Christianity in Iran. A video of the destroyed cemetery in Kermanshah city shows flattened and smashed gravestones, some of which have been defaced with graffiti. Christians from Iran’s ancient Assyrian and Armenian minorities are the only Christian groups legally permitted to meet to worship; Iranian Farsi-speaking believers (converts from Islam and their children) are brutally repressed by the country’s autocratic Islamist government.
From Mohabat news here
PAKISTAN – Christian female medical worker attacked with acid by Muslim colleague
A Christian medical worker in Lahore was attacked with acid by a Muslim colleague earlier this year. Twenty-five-year-old Stella Masih, the only Christian member of staff at a medical clinic in Dunyapur, Lahore, had been repeatedly insulted and falsely accused by a Muslim colleague. Despite receiving abuse, she continued to work at the clinic, where she was highly regarded by the management, who supported her position. On 25 April, when Stella was staffing reception, her colleague came up behind her and threw acid on her lower abdomen. Stella lost consciousness and required medical treatment. Stella’s mother reported the attack to police the following day and, despite being threatened by the attacker’s family, Stella is refusing to drop her case. She is now receiving assistance with her medical bills and legal support from a Christian legal aid organisation supported by Barnabas Aid.
From CLAAS report
VIETNAM – Nationalist gangs terrorise Christian community
Gangs of nationalist youths have terrorised a Christian community in Song Ngoc, north-east Vietnam, attacking a church and homes and targeting Christian business owners. Local Christian leaders have appealed to the authorities to act, noting that "we see that the attacks have been carried out in an orchestrated manner, and the police know well what is occurring, but are ignoring what is going on". The acts of intimidation and violence have taken place throughout June. Some of the perpetrators have called for the expulsion of two church leaders who are helping impoverished local fisherman in a legal case against the government following a marine pollution disaster in April last year (2016).
Vietnam’s communist government ruthlessly cracks down on dissent and Christians are viewed as enemies of the one-party state. All churches are required to be officially registered with the authorities. In November 2016, the government passed a new religion law which was hailed by state media as guaranteeing religious freedom, although the vague legislation banning any religious activity that could “harm social order and/or national unity” seems likely to give authorities leeway to crack down on religious freedom, where it is deemed against the interests of the state.
From UCA news here
PHILIPPINES – Christians used as human shields in Marawi; women kept as sex slaves by Islamists
Islamist militants in Marawi are reportedly holding more than 100 Christians as human shields, as the government continues efforts to re-take parts of the city, which was taken over by Islamists in May. The “Maute” Islamist group responsible has declared allegiance to Islamic State (IS) and used an IS media outlet to publicise their desecration of a church in the city. Hostages freed by government troops have told harrowing stories of living under Islamist rule. According to a Philippines Army spokesman, women have been kept as sex slaves, while civilians have been forced to search houses to find gold, money and firearms for the militants. President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to defeat the militants; previous governments had pursued a policy of appeasement with Islamists.
From Daily Mail and Gospel Herald