Newsdesk - 3 August 2017

Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, Egypt, Philippines, Sudan

 

PHILIPPINES – Muslim children see jihadis as heroes

Government forces are now reported to be closing in on the last areas controlled by Islamists in Marawi, but authorities have expressed concern that Muslim children are glorifying Islamist fighters.

Some Muslim children from Marawi have said they want to grow up to be Islamic State fighters
Some Muslim children from Marawi have said they want to grow up to be Islamic State fighters

The leader of a government-backed sports programme for children displaced by the violence in Marawi said, “when we had our children’s games for peace [coaches reported] that some, if not many of these Marawi ... children, considered ISIS as their heroes.” He also added that Muslim children thought they “could not trust” Christians and some said they wanted to be Islamic State fighters when they grew up.

The reports raise the prospect that even if the Philippines’ Army can successfully defeat the Islamist military threat in Marawi, the ideology behind the deliberate targeting of Christians will be harder to eradicate.

From Rappler here

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MYANMAR (BURMA) – Mob destroys pastor’s house and church

On 22 July, a Buddhist mob attacked three Christian homes and a church in a village in Myanmar, allegedly following the conversion of some members of the Buddhist community to Christianity. The church pastor’s house and the church were completely destroyed, along with several motorbikes owned by Christians. The pastor and his family are now living on the side of the road. The pastor said, “I and my family decided to serve the Lord in this village, we cannot run from this village, if we die, then we will die."

Myanmar is 87% Buddhist and in 2015 the government passed a law requiring anyone wishing to change their religion to obtain official approval.

From Barnabas Fund Project Partners

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CAMEROON – Boko Haram attacks reduce, but refugees now face starvation

The situation for Christians in Cameroon has improved since this time last year. Attacks from Boko Haram are now sporadic and isolated, but our project partner still reports the “theft of domestic animals, kidnapping of children, and killings … suicide bombers and bombs in markets and public places.” It is currently the rainy season, when many roads are impassable, which restricts the mobility of security forces and benefits Boko Haram “who can easily follow the trails on foot to go to mount their attacks.”

The funeral of Christian man from Kolofata, northern Cameroon who was killed by Boko Haram
The funeral of a Christian man from Kolofata, northern Cameroon who was killed by Boko Haram

The greatest danger is now starvation for the many refugees and internally displaced people who have previously fled to Cameroon to try and escape Boko Haram. “Many lack food,” our partner says, “the price of cereals in the markets is very expensive for these people. A 100kg bag of millet costs between 23,000 to 25,000 frs [£31.30 - £34.00] … Another thing is that some schools and hospitals are still closed in many villages. People who stay living in these areas are paying a high price, because their children do not have access to education and health care.”

Barnabas Fund has assisted displaced Christian families by providing emergency aid – such as blankets and food – and by suppling water pumps, fertiliser and rice and maize seeds to enable them to start growing their own food.

From Barnabas Fund Project Partners

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EGYPT – Christian army recruit murdered four days after joining up

A 22-year-old Christian Egyptian army recruit was beaten to death on 20 July, hours after arriving at a new camp near Cairo, only four days into his military service. Joseph Reda Helmy’s body was found with serious bruises and signs of torture, according to a lawyer representing the family. Joseph had been planning to get married in October. Military police have detained three non-commissioned officers who are reported to have claimed that an officer ordered them to beat up Joseph; the family’s lawyer believes he was targeted because of his faith.

At least one year’s military service is mandatory for Egyptian men aged 18-30, unless they quality for an exemption
At least one year’s military service is mandatory for Egyptian men aged 18-30, unless they quality for an exemption

Following his murder, Joseph’s death was announced from the loudspeakers in mosques in his village, where he is said to have been well loved by both Christians and Muslims.

From Wataninet here

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SUDAN – Government to force Christian schools to follow Muslim calendar and open on a Sunday

The Ministry of Education has reportedly ordered all Christian schools in the country to follow the Muslim calendar and close on Fridays and Saturdays, instead of following the traditional Christian weekend. The ruling will require schools to be open on a Sunday.

Sudan’s autocratic Muslim president, Omar al-Bashir
Sudan’s autocratic Muslim president, Omar al-Bashir
CC BY-SA 2.0 by Al Jazeera English

Since the predominantly Christian South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, President Omar al-Bashir has intensified efforts to Islamise the country. There has been a wave of church demolitions – typically enforced as a result of alleged disputes over land ownership – while church leaders have been imprisoned and deported after being accused of having connections with anti-government rebels; two were imprisoned after highlighting government persecution of Christians. This latest decree, targeting Christian schools, appears in line with the statement of a Sudanese church pastor, who told Barnabas Fund last year that “there is no more recognition of other religions in the country except Islam.”

From All Africa here

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