11 December 2019
For the full reports please follow the links.
Please note the items below are only a selection from four pages of extracts and links to recent reports concerning the persecution of Christians around the world.
There has been another brutal attack on Christians in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
On Sunday December 1, armed men stormed a Protestant church in the town of Hantoukoura near the border with Niger. They killed the pastor, Tchintchiéba Ouoba and 13 other worshippers, including five teenagers. The attackers fled on scooters.
This is the latest in a series of attacks specifically targeting Christians. At least 41 Christians have been killed in 9 reported jihadist attacks since the beginning of the year. An unknown number of pastors and their families have been abducted and remain in captivity, and many Churches in the north have been closed to prevent further attacks.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is assumed to be the work of an Islamic extremist group. Although there are many factors contributing to unrest and violence in Burkina Faso, clearly some militants are deliberately targeting Christians because of their faith. Extremists have started expelling Christians from their villages, with villagers given an ultimatum: convert to Islam or leave your homes. Many thousands of Christians are now living in IDP camps or seeking refuge with family and friends.
Suspected members of Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab intercepted a bus in northern Kenya on Friday (Dec. 6), separated out those who were not local ethnic Somali Muslims and executed them, sources said.
The Medina Bus Co. vehicle en route from Nairobi to Mandera had 56 people aboard when it was intercepted at 5:30 p.m. between Kutulu and Wargadud in Wajir County, where the population is largely ethnic Somali Kenyans, sources said. A witness who escaped told a Morning Star News contact that the assailants separated out 11 Kenyan workers from the interior (assumed to be Christians) from local residents, assumed to be ethnic Somali Muslims.
“One of the Muslim men gave me Somali attire, and when the separation was being done I went to the side of the Muslims, and immediately we were told to get into the bus,” the survivor told the Morning Star News contact. “As the locals were getting back into the bus, the non-locals who were left behind were fired upon with gunshots.”
Recent social upheavals in Ethiopia have resulted in the beheading of two local pastors.
Just over 20 miles Southwest of the capital, Addis Ababa, lies the small town of Sebeta. The settlement is predominantly Islamic with only a handful of Christian institutions active in the area. A local Muslim leader, Jawar Mohammed, recently lost his personal security protection granted to him by the state and responded by stirring up social fervor among his local acolytes.
The town’s population erupted, with riots forming and mobs coalescing across the urban center to protest the actions of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. Eventually, the militant locals made their ways en masse to the homes of Pastors Isaias and Assefa Tesfaye, of Full Gospel Church and Mekane Yesus Lutheran Church respectively. Both men were seized and beheaded following the storming of their residence compounds.
In the end, they were only two of 67 total fatalities and 213 wounded as the unrest continued in protests. Locals were beaten and stoned on horrific scales; town infrastructure and private residences were wrecked by the spontaneous furor. The government summoned the Ethiopian military to restore order to the township over the days following. Such incidents akin to this have been on the rise for the past couple years, and have resulted in the internal displacement of over two million Ethiopian natives.
Please pray for three Egyptian Christians who are fighting for their lives after being stabbed. Houda and her two sons, Shenouda and Ishaq, were seriously wounded in an attack outside their home in Al-Nasriyah, Minya, Upper Egypt. Even worse, the local police have declared that the attack was ‘just a normal quarrel’. The incident is part of a trend faced by our family in Egypt: authorities turning a blind eye to serious faith-based persecution.
Houda was sitting on her doorstep with her two sons when a Muslim neighbour passed by. He ordered them to move into the house, ‘because Christians should not be out on the street’.
“After they responded that they were not going to honour his order, he got angry,” a relative told Open Doors. “He ranted that he would ‘kill these dog infidels’. He then rushed home, came back with a knife and started hitting and stabbing them.”
Shenouda was stabbed in the belly and needed a partial removal of his intestines, while his brother Ishaq required stitches on six different areas of his body. Houda was treated for serious head wounds.
Despite the deliberate attack, which was witnessed by a neighbour who gave their testimony, the police refused to classify it as an attempted murder.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In the last month alone, our brothers and sisters in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have endured a string of at least 10 attacks by the Islamic extremist group (Allied Democratic Forces). Reportedly, the attacks have killed at least 84 people, including men, women and children. Our field has confirmed that more than half (47) were Christians. At least 13 people are missing, thought to be kidnapped.—including a 16-year-old girl,
Reportedly, most losses occurred after the government launched Operation Sukola 1, an effort to dislodge Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) forces from the area.
But the operation has come at great cost to the mostly Christian population with at least 10 attacks since the beginning of the month. The ADF—one of several extremist groups supporting Islamization—is known to carry out atrocities, such as murder (including children), rape, abduction of women and children and subsequent, slavery and/or indoctrination.
Pastor Gilbert Kambale, president of the Beni city civil society organization, has called on Christians in North Kivu and elsewhere to keep praying and looking up to God for deliverance for Beni and the DRC.
“Even as the night is long, day will surely dawn,” Pastor Gilbert remarked.
New report reveals mass detention of Muslims – but Christians such as Alimujiang Yimiti are suffering too.
Leaked documents from China have exposed the reality of massive detention camps for Uyghur Muslims. It’s claimed these are places of brainwashing and even torture, where a million or more Uyghurs have been rounded up and held.
This network of detention camps was exposed on BBC’s Panorama and in the Guardian newspaper. One former inmate said she faced constant video surveillance, brainwashing and electric shocks.
But it’s not only Uyghur Muslims who suffer persecution. Alimujiang Yimiti is a Uyghur Christian from a Muslim background. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for allegedly leaking state secrets to a foreigner.
His charge and conviction were based on two private conversations between Alimujiang and an American friend. Despite the charge and stiff prison sentence, there is no evidence to suggest those conversations included any sensitive information.
Andrew Boyd of Release International asked China Aid’s Bob Fu how many Uyghur Christians there are and what kind of persecution they are facing…
[Audio & Transcript of interview available on above page.]
Popular protests across the globe
Currently, there are citizen protest movements occurring in many countries around the world. Many of these, with the exception of those in Hong Kong, seem to be overlooked by the main-stream British media unless they are about climate change or similar high-profile causes.
In the last month on going street protests of various kinds have been taking place in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Malta, France as well as Hong Kong. Christians who live in these places are faced with sometimes hard decisions whether or not to get involved in genuine attempts to secure justice for ordinary people. At other times, like the Christian Uyghur man (named in the above report from China) they are rounded up as part of a wider sweep.
Here are reports from two places about the dangers and opportunities for Christian believers in such situations.
A childhood friend of the Assyrian Christian killed during the protests in Iran has told Article18 he was “one of the kindest men I ever met”.
Ashoor Kalta, 37, was killed as he passed by the protests in his car in his home city of Fardis, near Tehran, on Sunday 16 November. His family were eventually able to recover his body from the morgue and to hold a small funeral for him last Thursday, 21 November.
His childhood friend, Omid Moloudi, who is now an Anglican priest in the UK, shared with Article18 some of his fondest memories of their days together in Tehran:
The killing of an Assyrian Christian citizen by the Islamic Republic’s security forces in Fardis, Karaj, came as another bitter and shocking piece of news in a series of horrifying reports of hundreds of Iranians being killed and wounded as a sharp rise in fuel prices sparked protests and outrage across the country.
The news of Ashoor Kalta’s loss of life becomes even more distressing when one considers that during his life the 37-year-old, like other members of religious-minority communities, had been forced to live as a second- or even third-degree citizen under Islamic rule, deprived of many of his basic rights.
I could not remember the last time I heard a hymn that’s been repeated this many times, until I stepped into the prayer vigil held in front of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong on June 11 around 9:00 p.m. Hundreds swarmed around the government building and filled the air with the hymn “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.”
Among the crowd, some raised up their hands in the air as they sang. Some knelt at the fenced entrance of the Council, saying a prayer for the city. A woman stood with a white cross in her left hand, flowers in the other held up high, as if she was using these items to defend against the anti-extradition law that was scheduled for its second reading the next day.
It did not take long for anyone to feel the weight this solemn song carries. It is Hong Kongers’ deepest cry for freedom. As the woman standing beside me silently wiped away her tears as she sang the hymn, tears soon filled my eyes. I could sympathize, because I too come from a place where my forbearers were oppressed in their quest for democracy and freedom.
Three hours passed. Yet the hymn never ceased to ring, in front of riot police with full gear, and in spite of the sudden rain. Whenever a crowd member stopped singing, another would catch on. Praise was what they sang to protect their home.
The video below shows one minute of the occasion described above.