Pakistani Police Investigate Fire at Christian TV Station

KARACHI, Pakistan — Police officials said Thursday that they were investigating a fire this week that destroyed the office of a Christian cable television station in this southern port city.



Karachi: November 25, 2015. (PCP) A Pakistani Christian Television Channel named “Gawahi” was set on fire by some masked men destroying studios, computers, Bibles, cable network equipment and furniture on night of November 24, 2015.

Employees of the station, Gawahi TV, said the fire at their office was deliberately set.

There have been a number of recent attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan. More than a dozen people were killed in two bombings outside churches in Lahore in March, and Christians in Pakistan are routinely targeted by sectarian militant groups and local criminals.

Last week, a factory was burned, and a mosque owned by the Ahmadis, a Muslim sect considered heretical by Pakistan’s Sunni majority, was attacked over allegations that a factory worker had burned pages of the Quran. Army troops were called in to calm the situation in Jhelum, a city in Punjab Province.

Such acts of violence have continued in Pakistan despite the government’s repeated pledges to safeguard religious minorities, prompting some advocates of religious rights to question the government’s commitment.

The fire at Gawahi TV’s office was reported around 3 a.m. on Tuesday and took nearly two hours to extinguish. By daybreak, the three-room office was a burned-out hulk.

On Thursday, employees who days before had been planning their Christmas broadcast schedule gingerly stepped around large piles of half-burned religious books as they walked through the office. A charred copy of the Bible sat atop the reception desk.

Javed William, whose brother, Pastor Sarfraz William, is the owner of Gawahi TV, said the fire appeared to be a planned attack. “The door locks were cut and the things were not where we had left them,” he said, adding that a security camera system had been destroyed in the fire.

Employees said computers were destroyed or stolen.

“The hard disks are missing,” said Irfan Daniel, an assistant manager. “Someone did this with a lot of thought.”

Javed William said he was not aware of any threats to the organization. “This is not an attack on us,” he said. “It is an attack on Christianity. Whoever did this does not want God’s work to happen.”

Gawahi TV’s religious programming includes recitations of the Bible, Christian hymns and music videos, and is shown on local cable networks in Karachi.

On Thursday, the channel broadcast images of its damaged office, with Pastor William sitting amid the rubble. “A lot of people called and said, ‘We’d protest at one call from you,’ ” Javed William said. “We said our God does not allow us to do this.”

Source:  The New York Times

Christians Face Imminent Expulsion in Mexico


International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 15, local government officials and community leaders in the village of Mariano Matamoros in Mexico have threatened to expel 158 Christians from the small Chiapas community. The threat comes after years of severe religious freedom violations perpetuated against the Christians, and after a recent farmland raid instigated by community leaders against the small Protestant community which left many without food.

Since 2012, Protestant Christians in Mariano Matamoros have suffered severe discrimination, persecution, and gross abuse of their basic human rights, but the October 15 farmland raid left the Protestant community in an especially desperate situation. According to local ICC sources, Protestants have now been given a November 30 deadline to leave the community for failing to “reconvert” to Catholicism. However, according to Luis Herrera, Director of the Coordination of Council of Christian Organizations, the community delegates are using the threat of expulsion as leverage to extract concessions from the Chiapas State government.

According to Mr. Herrera, the community delegates of Mariano Matamoros have been demanding that the State Government of Chiapas construct a paved road that leads from Mariano Matamoros to larger cities in Chiapas since 2009. Village leaders have also asked the state government to pay a fine of 1.5 million pesos ($90,857 USD) to cover the fees that the Christians have failed to pay for refusing to participate in village festivals.

Furthermore, Mr. Herrera states that authorities at the state level in Chiapas have repeatedly refused to take action in the Mariana Matamoros case. After the recent threat of expulsion by the community leaders, Mr. Herrera placed a call to a high level government official in Chiapas who, upon hearing about the threat, told Mr. Herrera, “Don’t worry, the village leaders will never follow through with their threats.”

Isaac Six, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said “For decades, Mexico has ignored rising tensions among religious communities in rural areas of central and southern Mexico. Thousands have been displaced and left homeless, simply because they belonged to a religious minority and refused to make financial contributions to religious festivals they did not believe in. For the State and Federal governments of Mexico to ignore this impending threat to more than two dozen families in Mariano Matamoros is egregious, and we call on authorities to take immediate action by publically denouncing the threat as unconstitutional, ordering local police forces to investigate these threats, and to prosecute those responsible for previous attacks on this small Protestant community.”

Source: International Christian Concern (ICC)

Iran says Washington Post reporter Rezaian sentenced to prison

An Iranian court has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to a prison term, the state news agency said on Sunday quoting a judiciary spokesman, a case that is a sensitive issue in contentious U.S.-Iranian relations.


Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian

The length of the prison term was not specified. “Serving a jail term is in Jason Rezaian’s sentence but I cannot give details,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference in Tehran, according to IRNA.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters he was aware of the IRNA report but could not independently confirm it. It was not clear why Iran has not given details of the ruling against the 39-year-old Rezaian, who Iranian prosecutors accused of espionage.

The foreign editor of the Washington Post, Douglas Jehl, said the newspaper was aware of the reports but had no additional information.

Jehl told Reuters Television the reported sentencing might move the case closer to a final resolution in the judiciary, so it can then go to Iranian leaders. “It’s these senior leaders who have the power to pardon, the power to overturn a verdict, the power to make things right,” he said.

Ali Rezaian, Jason’s brother, criticized the lack of transparency around the judicial proceedings.

“Although we cannot confirm the validity of these reports, we do know that the Iranian judicial process around Jason’s case has been profoundly flawed from the outset,” he said in a statement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement that Rezaian, who is the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief and a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen, is being held on “bogus espionage charges,” and also called for his release.


On Oct. 11, Ejei said Rezaian had been convicted, without elaborating. He said at that time that Rezaian had 20 days to appeal the verdict.

The Washington Post said last month the verdict, issued soon after Iran raised hopes of a thaw in its relations with the West by striking a nuclear deal with world powers including the United States, was “vague and puzzling”.

It said the vagueness of Ejei’s remarks showed Rezaian’s case was not just about espionage and that the reporter was a bargaining chip in a “larger game”. The Washington Post and his family denounced the espionage charges against Rezaian as absurd.

Influential Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani hinted in September at the possibility that Rezaian could be freed in exchange for Iranian prisoners in the United States, but officials then played down the possibility of such a swap.

Two other U.S. citizens – Christian pastor Saeed Adedini and Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant – also are jailed in Iran. Robert Levinson, a private American investigator, disappeared there in 2007.

Among the charges, Rezaian was accused of “collaborating with hostile governments” and disseminating “propaganda against the establishment”, according to a statement from Rezaian’s attorney, the Washington Post reported in April.

In the indictment, Iranian authorities said Rezaian had written to U.S. President Barack Obama and called it an example of contacting a “hostile government”, the Washington Post said.

Rezaian was arrested in July 2014. His brother said on Oct. 13 that Rezaian had heard of his conviction on Iranian state TV and was depressed and angry about being deprived of information about his case.

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Lesley Wroughton and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Stephen Powell, Digby Lidstone and Paul Simao)

Source: Reuters

Prayer and meditation focus

Is Your Mind Stayed on God?

by Oswald Chambers
From: My Utmost For His Highest



Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of exhaustion and weakness in a servant’s life. If you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to Him and be saved (see Isaiah 45:22).

Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. You should seek to be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This will be one of the greatest assets of your faith when a time of trial comes, because then your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. When you have thoughts and ideas that are worthy of credit to God, learn to compare and associate them with all that happens in nature— the rising and the setting of the sun, the shining of the moon and the stars, and the changing of the seasons. You will begin to see that your thoughts are from God as well, and your mind will no longer be at the mercy of your impulsive thinking, but will always be used in service to God.

“We have sinned with our fathers…[and]…did not remember…” (Psalm 106:6-7). Then prod your memory and wake up immediately. Don’t say to yourself, “But God is not talking to me right now.” He ought to be. Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.

Nigeria blast: Boko Haram blamed for suicide bombing in Yola, kills 32 and wounds 80

A night-time suicide bombing blamed on Boko Haram extremists killed 32 people and wounded 80 Tuesday at a truck stop in northeastern Nigeria, an emergency official said.


Tuesday night’s blast breaks a three-week hiatus in bombings after a string of suicide attacks culminated in twin explosions in mosques in two northeastern cities that killed 42 people and wounded more than 100 on 23 October.

One of the mosques attacked was in Yola, capital of Adamawa state, where the insurgents struck again. It was the third suicide bombing in as many months in a city overflowing with some of the 2.3 million refugees driven from their homes by the Islamic uprising.

At least 32 people were killed and about 80 wounded victims were evacuated to hospitals after Tuesday night’s blast, coordinator Sa’ad Bello of the National Emergency Management Agency told AP.

Most victims were vendors and passers-by, said Deputy Superintendent Othman Abubakar, the police spokesman for Adamawa state.

Nigeria’s military has reported foiling several suicide bombers recently, and killing and capturing insurgents as it destroys Boko Haram camps in air raids and ground attacks.

“The enemies of humanity will never win. Hand in hand, we will rid our land of terrorism,” Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said in a tweet.

Analysts say Nigeria’s military is too thin to hold ground and that as it takes one area, the extremists slip into another in the vast arid spaces dotted by forests in the northeast.

Some 20,000 people have been killed in the six-year-old Islamic uprising that has spread to neighbouring countries.

Forces from Chad and Nigeria drove Boko Haram out of a self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate earlier this year, as former President Goodluck Jonathan faced elections. Jonathan lost, in part because of his failure to curb the insurgency. Buhari, a former military dictator, was elected and has promised to break the back of the insurgency by year’s end, but Boko Haram persists with deadly raids on remote villages and urban suicide bombings that have killed more than 2,000 people this year alone.

Source: AP