Prayer for Persecuted Christians – Recent Reports

Download our recent notes (with more details) as printable PDF: India, Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria, Mexico & Syria

Extracts from notes for 7th December 2017

Follow the links given for the full report in each instance.

India

Christian Family in India Receives Notice to Stop Worship in Their Home
30 Nov. 2017 – Morning Star News

For 12 years Mahendra Nagdeve had met with friends and relatives in his house in Madhya Pradesh state, India to worship Christ until he received this notice from city officials this month: “With effect from the moment you receive this notice, you must not conduct any Christian congregational activity,” the notice read, translated from the Hindi. “If you continue any Christian activities despite receiving the notice, stringent action will be taken against you.”

No official from the Nagar Palika Balaghat municipality had visited to give the 45-year-old father of three any indication that Christian activities in his home in the Lanji area of Balaghat District were problematic, he said. The activities included Bible study with other families and his wife’s Christian women’s group. The Nov. 8 notice came as a surprise. “No officials visited my house to check if it is a house or church,” he told Morning Star News. “I have been paying house tax, electricity and water bills promptly. Unless for the purpose of issuing the bills and collecting any payments, the municipal employees had never contacted me, they never had an objection.”

He and his family attend a local church, but the former Hindu said that when he gave up idol worship 13 years ago, he also began worshipping Jesus Christ in his home with his family and other relatives. “I immediately submitted a response to the municipal officials stating it is my own house where I live with my family, and I had been praying peacefully in this house for 13 years now,” he said. “Even my friends and relatives join us and we pray together.”

7 Pastors arrested in India for ‘Forced Conversion’
6 Dec. 2017 – British Pakistani Christian Association

Seven Pastors were arrested Monday 4th December and detained for allegedly carrying out a ‘Forcible Conversion Campaign’ in Mathura a district of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. On Tuesday they were produced at court and were remanded in Judicial custody and today (Wednesday 6th December) all seven pastors have been refused bail.

Police were called by local villagers who were concerned about the activities of the seven pastors in an area in the district called Irauli Gurjar for the past month. The pastors have been accused of sharing blasphemous words towards the Hindu faith and of sharing ‘evil bibles.’ One of the accusers has also stated that when local Hindus refused to accept the content of speeches and ‘religious book’, that the pastors reverted to violence to forcibly convert people from Scheduled Castes (lowers castes or untouchables) to Christianity. Around 700 of these Scheduled caste individuals are said to reside in the area of Irauli Gurjar.

After police received a call for one of the local villagers, who himself was not from the scheduled castes, they immediately arrived at the village and booked the seven unsuspecting pastors. All seven of the pastors have been charged under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings’ said Superintendent of Police (SP) Adiya Shukla.

Pakistan

Fears grow for Asia Bibi after hardliners force Pak-Government to agree to stiffen blasphemy laws
30 Nov. 2017 – British Pakistani Christian Association

After a countrywide siege led by Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (Movement to Obey the Prophet [TYLRA] ) brought the nation of Pakistan to a violent standstill (click here), nothing could have surprised international onlookers more, then the feeble surrender by the Government of Pakistan to the wholly Islamist demands of the rioters.

TLYRA’s radical cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, surely could not believe his luck when on Monday 30th November 2017, he sat in a room with the Prime Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the Chief of Pakistan’s secret services (Inter Services Intelligence [ISI] ), Major General Faiz Hameed, in which they all signed an agreement to the terms laid out by his group of zealots, His group TYLRA had only formed 2 years earlier in Karachi but have gained popularity on the back of the public hanging of Mumtaz Qadri who murdered former Governor of Pakistan Salman Taseer. The group has condemned what they deem to be the murder of a Muslim saint (Mr Qadri) and are calling for no changes to be allowed to the blasphemy law and for the gradual elimination of any Pakistani laws outside the remit of Sharia. To the detriment to the nation of Pakistan it seems like they are winning.

What most commentators have failed to recognise yet, is that innocent victims such as Asia Bibi are now almost certain to be hanged under the blasphemy charges they have found themselves falsely accused of. Asia Bibi, a mother of five, is Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy victim. On a hot day she offered water to other women working in the field with her, but since Christians are considered “kafirs” they accused and berated her for “defiling” the water. After they began disparaging Jesus Christ Asia Bibi innocently inquired, “My Christ died for me. What did Muhammed do for you?” More violence followed and any politician attempting to intervene has been assassinated. It is unimaginable that any Supreme Court judge will be wiling to exonerate Asia Bibi. In the current socio-political climate, saying the words that set Asia Bibi free would mean certain death.

Pakistan – Pray for our brother Zafar who is in prison and in distress
16 Nov. 2017 – Release International

Zafar Bhatti, who is being held in Adyala Jail in Rawalpindi, was sentenced to life imprisonment in May, after he was accused of sending blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone. Five years on from his arrest, he insists he is innocent.

Please pray for our brother in Pakistan who is in distress and needs to know his Christian family worldwide are interceding for him.

Zafar says there have been several attempts on his life in jail, including a near-fatal poisoning in 2013. His health has deteriorated and he now suffers from a heart condition. He now hopes to take his case to appeal at the High Court.

Earlier report: Another Christian falls victim to Pakistan’s blasphemy law

Egypt

Coptic priest’s murderer sentenced to death
22 Nov. 2017 – Open Doors UK

Egypt’s North Cairo Criminal Court has sentenced to death 19-year-old Ahmad Saeed Ibrahim al-Sonbati for killing a priest and injuring another in a knife attack. The verdict has now been forwarded to the Grand Mufti, who must give his approval. He is expected to give his final verdict on 15 January 2018.

Sonbati, a technician, was found guilty of the premeditated murder on 12 October of 45-year-old Coptic priest Samaan Shehata. The priest, from Beni Suef governorate, was on a visit to the capital, Cairo, when Sonbati attacked him with a cleaver.

The young man ‘had decided to kill any Coptic priest, purchased a dagger, and lay in wait for one to pass by, in a street leading to the local church’, according to the Coptic news site Watani. He reportedly blocked Shehata’s vehicle when it passed by and forced him to get out. The priest who was with Shehata, Benjamin Moftah, survived the attack, according to a statement by the Egyptian Coptic Church.

Algeria

Church and Bookshop Closed by Authorities
21 Nov. 2017 – Middle East Concern

Christians in Algeria ask for prayer for a church in Ain Turk, which has been closed by police. On November 9, 2017, authorities sealed the hall, which was used for worship and a bookshop owned by a member of the church.

Last month police raided the bookshop, accusing its owner of illegally printing Bibles and evangelistic brochures. They confiscated books and equipment but returned them when no proof of the allegations was found. Despite that, police issued and implemented a closure order for both the church and the bookshop. The order, which wrongly identifies the bookshop owner as the pastor of the church, repeated the earlier accusations and also alleges that he uses his private car to distribute illegal Christian material. The closure order also claims the Ain Turk church is illegal, despite its affiliation with the officially recognized EPA (L’Église Protestante d’Algérie).

Mexico

Expulsion of multiple religious minorities
7 Dec. 2017 – Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Multiple expulsions of religious minorities from their homes in Tuxpan de Bolaños in Mexico’s Jalisco State have led to 64 men, women and children from the Huichol indigenous group being forcibly displaced on 4 December. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has also been informed that 13 adults are expected to be expelled on 6 December, along with a group of minors, because of their religious beliefs.

On 4 December, 42 Jehovah’s Witnesses were forcibly displaced from their homes in Tuxpan de Bolaños, along with 7 Protestant adults and 15 Protestant children. They were violently removed from the town and taken by truck into the mountains, where they were abandoned. Dr Jorge Lee Galindo, director of the Mexican religious freedom organisation Impulso 18, told CSW the local authorities destroyed most of the homes, so it will be difficult for them to return.

According to Dr Lee Galindo, the Emanuel Regional Baptist Convention, which oversees Baptist churches in the area, sent transport to the area to provide support to the victims. The twenty-two Baptists are now sheltering in Puente de Camotlán Church in Nayarit State, while the 42 Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently in the municipal auditorium in Bolaños, Jalisco State. Government officials took no action to defend the expelled groups or their properties.

Iraq

Priest: Situation for Assyrians in Mosul Worse Than When ISIS Arrived
15 Nov. 2017 – Assyrian International News Agency

The situation of Christians “is worse than the arrival of ISIS” because they are “caught up in this clash between Arabs and Kurds, Shiites and Sunni,” which “hinders” the return of refugees to Mosul and the Nineveh plain, and “there is no longer any help”. Fr. Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya (Kurdistan), tells AsiaNews that part of the Christian families have “returned to Alqosh and Dohuk” for fear of violence in the Nineveh plain. “They spent two nights in the car, or delayed their departure for the danger of new clashes. There are cases of children traumatized by the violence in Teleskof.”

Fr. Samir, who cares for 3500 families of Christian, Muslims, Yazids refugees who fled their homes in the summer of 2014 with the rise of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) reports that “even Christians begin to be afraid “. The fear is of “a Kurdish response” with “new attacks” that will eventually target “both Christians and Yazidis.” “We are not for or against any party,” the priest adds, “we just want to live in peace with everyone.”

See also: Hashd forces accused of Shiafication of Mosul’s Christian towns
19 Nov. 2017 – Rudaw Media Network: a Kurdish media network


Notes from previous prayer sessions in PDF format: