Newsdesk - 30 Mar 2017

India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan

 

IRAQ – As Mosul is reduced to rubble, what will be the future of Christians in Iraq?

The battle for Mosul is reaching its peak, yet the question still remains: what is the future of Christians in Iraq? Iraqi forces are facing waves of suicide car bombings in their push towards the Old City of Mosul, once the centre of the country’s ancient Christian heartland. Thousands of civilians continue to flee the city, although the Christians left long ago in 2014 when Islamic State (IS) marked believers’ houses with the Arabic letter ‘N’ for Nazarene and gave them the choice to become refugees or be killed.

Christian soldiers gather to pray in a church near Mosul, after it was liberated from IS in October 2016
Christian soldiers gather to pray in a church near Mosul, after it was liberated from IS in October 2016

Displaced Christians remain unable to return home – they faced persecution at the hands of the Muslim majority long before the arrival of IS – and, according to church leaders in Iraq, there is now also a new threat from a “radical anti-Christian” generation.

From Sky News here

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INDONESIA – West Java authorities shut down two churches and a Sunday school following Islamist protests

Local authorities in West Java have shut down a Sunday school and banned two churches from holding services because the government “cannot guarantee their safety” following protests by Islamists. The two churches, from different denominations, and a house used as a Sunday school have been forced to cease religious activity after Islamists conducted a protest march. The pastor of one of the church congregations, which has experienced intimidation since 2014, said: “We are struggling for our right to worship.”

From UCA News here

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PAKISTAN – Muslim governments to launch strategy to oppose social media blasphemy

Pakistan’s Interior Minister is spearheading an international effort to counter so-called blasphemous content on social media. Following a meeting on 24 March, it was announced that 22 Muslim governments would collaborate on a strategy paper to be put before the UN to oppose the “madness unleashed against Islam and its holy personalities in the name of freedom of expression”.

Two Christian men give evidence to a lawyer following a case in Punjab, where a Christian was accused of "blasphemy" for allegedly watching anti-Islamic videos on Youtube
Two Christian men give evidence to a lawyer following a case in Punjab, where a Christian was accused of "blasphemy" for allegedly watching anti-Islamic videos on Youtube

The following governments were represented at the meeting: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Qatar, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Jordon, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

From Dawn News here

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INDIA – Pastor and Bible student attacked, as police admit “we have to abide by what the Hindu mob says”

A church pastor and a Bible college student were publicly assaulted by Hindu extremists on 17 March and then arrested by police, after the believers were accused of attempting to force Hindus to covert. Hindu extremists first tried to trap the pastor into accepting a bribe, before beating him and the student. When a policeman attempted to intervene, the attackers told him to “let them handle the Christians in their own way”. The two Christians were later arrested. When interviewed by Global Christian News, a local policeman said: “We will investigate but what can we do, we have to abide by what the Hindu mob says. This is what has been happening these days”.

From Global Christian News here

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NIGERIA – Fulani gun down 30 people in market shooting in Christian village

More than 30 people were slaughtered in a predominantly Christian village in Nigeria’s Middle Belt on Monday 21 March, when Fulani gunmen “stormed the yam market … and started shooting at everyone in sight”. The attackers also set fire to multiple cars and a petrol station. The villagers had no known previous conflict with Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, but there have been multiple attacks on Christian communities in the same state by Fulani in the last year.

Christian-owned farms have been targeted by Muslim Fulani herdsmen
Christian-owned farms have been targeted by Muslim Fulani herdsmen
Jeremy Weate / CC BY 2.0

Ethnic Fulani Muslims – traditionally cattle herders – have waged an ongoing campaign of violence against Christian towns in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, often using disputes over grazing land as an excuse for attacks on believers, many of whom come from farming communities.

From Global Christian News here

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