Egypt’s President orders assistance for fleeing Sinai Christians

By Alex Williams

Egypt’s president has ordered the government to “take all necessary measures” to help resettle hundreds of Christians fleeing North Sinai after a recent spate of deadly attacks on believers.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met other political leaders and officials to discuss the situation in the province after seven Christians were killed by Islamic State in the last month.

According to his address, which was quoted by Reuters, he “directed the government to take all necessary measures to facilitate settlements for citizens in their set resettled areas.”

The exodus by Coptic Christians from North Sinai to the neighbouring province of Ismailia comes amid an insurgency being waged by IS, which shot five of the recent victims, beheaded one and set another on fire.

During a summit attended by Egypt’s prime minister and several ministers at the weekend, Sisi also discussed “the importance to resist all attempts to sabotage stability and security in Egypt.”

Coptic Christians, who comprise approximately ten per cent of Egypt’s population, have long complained of persecution against their community.

A bombing by Islamic State on a Coptic chapel next to St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo left 28 people dead, the majority of whom were women and children.

Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed in an insurgency which accelerated in 2013 after a military coup led by Sisi ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Source: Premier Christian

PETITION CALLING FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF CHRISTIANS IMPRISONED BY SUDAN!

Friends In The West supports International Christian Concern in their call for a petition calling for the release of three Christian men imprisoned in Sudan.

Below is the ICC article and an opportunity to sign their petition.

#releasethem

International Christian Concern needs your help! Please join us and raise your voice in defense of three men who have been wrongfully convicted of numerous charges by the Sudanese government. Their crime? Providing money for medical care to a man who had once demonstrated against the Sudanese government.

Petr Jasek, a Czech national, was given a 20 year sentence, while two other men, Reverend Abudraheem and Mr. Abdumawla were given ten year sentences each. Other convictions included three and a half years and 100,000 Sudanese Pound fine for entering and photographing military areas, inciting hatred between sects, propagation of false news, entering the country illegally, and violating Articles 8 and 23 of Sudan’s Volunteer Act. The other two gentlemen were also given additional two year sentences for inciting hatred between sects and for propagation of false news. These sentences are to run consecutively.

We ask you to join us in petitioning the government of Sudan for the immediate and unconditional release of three Christian men! Sign and share the petition today!
Petition to Release Three Christian Men Imprisoned in Sudan!
This case arose when Mr. Jasek gave a gift of $5,000 to a Darfuri student for medical care after he was injured in a student demonstration in 2013. The Sudanese government framed their prosecution that this was actually aid to rebel movements throughout Sudan and that Mr. Jasek and the other men’s actions were crimes against the state, rather than the purely humanitarian act that it was.

For Mr. Jasek’s act of compassion, he, along with the two other men, now faces a wrongful and lengthy prison sentences. Please help these men by signing on to our petition and making your voice heard!

SIGN THE PETITION NOW!

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” -Hebrews 13:3 (ESV)

Source: International Christian Concern

Egypt’s Coptic Christians flee Sinai after deadly attacks

More Christian refugees from Sinai are expected to arrive in Ismailiya

Dozens of Coptic Christian families in Egypt have fled North Sinai province after a number of killings in recent weeks by suspected Islamist militants.

Many have now taken refuge in the Evangelical Church in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.

The Coptic Church has condemned the attacks, saying they were aimed at “dividing” Egyptians.

On Sunday, Islamic State militants released a video, warning of more attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority.

The Copts – who make up about 10% of the country’s 90 million population – have often been targeted by Islamists in recent years.

Most of the Islamist militant attacks of recent years have been focused on the Sinai peninsula, where an IS-linked jihadist group is active, but the capital Cairo has also suffered a string of attacks in the past two years.

‘Scared of our shadows’

About 250 Christians with their belongings were now in Ismailiya’s church, deacon Nabil Shukrallah said on Friday.

“They’ve come running with their children. It’s a very difficult situation. We’re expecting 50 or 60 more,” he told the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, refugees said they were now “scared of our shadows”, adding that they “are being targeted in an ugly way”.

Many of them were from the city of El-Arish, where at least seven Christians have been killed.

Egypt has seen a wave of attacks by militants since 2013 when the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi, an elected leader who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, and launched a crackdown against Islamists.

Some of Mr Morsi’s supporters blamed Christians for supporting the overthrow.

In December, a bomb explosion in the Coptic Christian cathedral in killed at least 25 people.

Source: BBC News

Kidnap of German archaeologists highlights growing insecurity in southern Kaduna

In the village of Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt and shops vandalised in a December attack. World Watch Monitor

Two German archaeologists have been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in southern Kaduna, highlighting the growing insecurity in the northern Nigerian state.
The kidnapping of the two men, who have been working in the region for 10 years, took place in Kagarko*, 80km (50 miles) from Kafanchan, where more than 800 people have been killed since 2011.

Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which includes Kaduna, Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue and other states, is the scene of frequent attacks on Christian farmers (often called indigenes) by mainly Muslim Hausa-Fulani nomadic herdsmen.

Earlier this week, heavily armed herdsmen killed at least 30 people, including two policemen, and destroyed homes over two days in the mostly Christian communities of Kafanchan and Kagoro.

Local Christians say security personnel are preventing the Christians from protecting their own communities while allowing the Fulani to attack without any interference.

The violence had reached a peak over Christmas when dozens of Christians were killed. That prompted local authorities to declare a 24-hour curfew in three Local Government Areas (LGAs): Jema’a, Kaura and Sanga.

The Nigerian National Human Rights Commission in December 2016 had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the ongoing deadly attacks. At the same time, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project asked the UN to investigate the killings. Dr. Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on Extra-Judicial or Arbitrary Executions, promised to look into the massacres, with a view to ensuring that justice prevails and the culprits are punished.

Church groups in northern Nigeria have condemned recent killings, which they say are aimed at wiping out the Christian presence in the region. The attacks, which have claimed hundreds of lives, have affected mainly the central states of Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Benue, but also Kaduna. Southern Kaduna has been particularly targeted, with attacks occurring almost on a weekly, or even daily basis recently.

Kaduna’s state government had responded to the insecurity by relocating the Army Commander and Police Commissioner to southern Kaduna.

Many groups and individuals, including Peter Bawa, the Chairman of the Northern Christian Youth Assembly, have commended the state governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, for initiatives taken so far, believing that they will go a long way to curtail the menace of herdsmen who have plunged many communities in the area into mourning.

However, some of southern Kaduna’s indigenous population interviewed by World Watch Monitor said the government was militarising the conflict, using military force as the first and not the last resort, often without civilian engagement.

The state government has also accused church leaders, activists, journalists and even traditional rulers, seeking to raise awareness about the violence, of committing hate speech, incitement and attempting to secure foreign funding. Several have been taken in for questioning or briefly detained.

On 17 February, activist and lawyer Audu Maikori, who had mistakenly tweeted a false report before retracting it and apologising unreservedly, was arrested in Lagos and flown to Abuja, where he was detained overnight on a warrant reportedly issued in Kaduna.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Sudan Orders Demolition of at Least 25 Church Buildings, Christian Leaders Say

Bahri (North) Khartoum in relation to Nile and capital area. (Wikipedia)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – State officials in Sudan plan to demolish at least 25 church buildings in the Khartoum area, according to Christian leaders.

A June 13, 2016 letter from the Executive Corporation for the Protection of Government Lands, Environment, Roads and Demolition of Irregularities of Khartoum State reveals the names and locations of 25 church buildings marked for demolition, most of them in the Sharq al Neel (East Nile area) locality of Khartoum North. The government reportedly claimed the churches were built on land zoned for other uses, but Christian leaders said it is part of wider crack-down on Christianity.

The Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, moderator of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church’s (SPEC) Sudan Evangelical Synod, told Morning Star News the subsequent order was part of a systematic attack on churches by the Islamist government.

“This is not an isolated act but should be taken with wider perspective,” he said.

The order targets a wide range of denominations, from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal.

The Sudan Council of Churches denounced the order at a Feb. 11 press conference, calling on the government to reconsider the decision or provide alternative sites for the churches. The Rev. Mubarak Hamad, chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, said at the conference in Khartoum that mosques located in the same area were spared from the demolition order.

Hamad said the order was aimed at 27 church buildings, including a Presbyterian Church of Sudan in Jebel Aulia, and one belonging to the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in Soba al Aradi, both south of Khartoum.

The order by Mohamad el Sheikh Mohamad, general manager of Khartoum State’s land department in the Ministry of Physical Planning, urged that it be implemented immediately.

“I am hereby issuing the order of demolition of the churches that are attached to residential areas and public playgrounds in neighborhoods of East Nile locality,” Mohamad wrote in a cover letter dated June 20, 2016 to the Executive Corporation.

Among the 25 church buildings listed are three located on public playgrounds; the rest are located in residential areas, according to the order.

Last Sept. 29, officials from Khartoum state’s Ministry of Planning and Urban Development notified leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan (PCOS) that they had 72 hours to vacate their property. The church building was one of five that officials at that time said were slated for demolition to make way for investor development.

“We were surprised as a church at such a move,” a member of the church told Morning Star News at that time. “The church building has been there since 1991. We are still worshiping there but fearful of the demolition any time.”

The church, whose Sunday attendance ranges from 80 to 150 people, declined to vacate as they had no alternative site for worship, he said. The letter from state officials asserted the land on which the church building was situated was designated as private property for gardens.

Three Sudanese Church of Christ congregations, along with one belonging to the Episcopal Church of Sudan, also received demolition notices on Sept. 29.

Sudan since 2012 has bulldozed church buildings and harassed and expelled foreign Christians, usually on the claim that the buildings belonged to South Sudanese. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

The government’s decision to issue no new church building licenses came after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

After bulldozing a Lutheran Church of Sudan (LCS) building on Oct. 21, 2015, authorities in the Karari area of Omdurman demolished an SCOC building on Oct. 27, 2015 without prior warning, church leaders said. Local authorities said the SCOC building was on government land, a claim church leaders adamantly denied.

Karari officials in Omdurman, across the Nile River from Khartoum, reportedly authorized the demolition of the church building claiming it was built on government land allocated for a field. In the demolishing of the LCS church on Oct. 21, the local authorities said it was built on land allocated for business, though a mosque stands nearby.

Ethnic Nuba have long suffered discrimination from the Arab population and authorities of Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum, including neglect, persecution and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Sudanese authorities on Feb. 17, 2014 demolished another SCOC church building in Omdurman without prior notice. Bulldozers accompanied by local police and personnel from of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) destroyed the worship building in the Ombada area of Omdurman, sources said.

On Aug. 24, 2014, NISS agents padlocked the building of the 500-member Sudan Pentecostal Church (SPC) in Khartoum, which housed the Khartoum Christian Center (KCC).

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2016 report.

Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

 

Source: Morning Star News

Founder of the African Children's Choir, Music For Life and Friends In The West.