Written by Compass Direct News
Compass Direct News is a news service dedicated to providing exclusive news, penetrating reports, moving interviews and insightful analyses of situations and events facing Christians persecuted for their faith.
October 28 (Compass Direct News) – A recent attack on Christians and church buildings by Burmese soldiers in Kachin state showed that Christian civilians are targeted in the military offensive against insurgents. “Targeting of Christians is not unusual in Burma’s conflict zones,” Nawdin Lahpai, editor-in-chief of the Kachin News Group, told Compass by phone, referring to the Oct. 16 military firing at a church, detention of a priest and four parishioners, and burning of church property in Kachin state. “The incident reflects the long-time policy of the Buddhist-Burman-majority Burmese government, which discriminates against the ethnic Christian minority.”
About 90 percent of the roughly 56 million people in Burma (also known as Myanmar) are Buddhist, mostly from the Burman ethnic group. Armed and unarmed ethnic Kachins have struggled for independence or autonomy from successive military-led regimes for decades. In the Oct. 16 attack, about 150 soldiers stormed Nam San Yang village in the Daw Phung Yang area of Bhamo District in Kachin state, which borders China, reported Mizzima, a Delhi-based news organization run by Burmese journalists. Members of a Catholic church who were preparing for Sunday mass heard gunfire and saw soldiers approaching them. They lay on the ground as the army men opened fire at them. No one was hurt. The soldiers caught Catholic priest Jan Ma Aung Li and four other men. “They said that all males in the village were people’s militiamen and KIO staff,” Mizzima quoted Aung Li as saying.**********
October 10 (Compass Direct News) – Funeral services were held today in Cairo for some of the victims of a military attack against a group of Christian protestors that left 26 dead and hundreds wounded. In the wake of what could be the worst act of violence against Egyptian Christians in modern history, leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church have called for three days of fasting and prayer for divine intervention, along with three days of mourning.
Leaders from other faith traditions among Egyptian Christians reported similar efforts among their congregations. Samia Sidhom, managing editor for the Coptic weekly Al Watani, said Copts across Egypt were distraught about the attack and the future for Christians across the country. The attack started late Sunday afternoon (Oct. 9) when Christians protesting the Sept. 30 burning of the Mar Gerges Church in Aswan, Upper Egypt began getting pelted with rocks and other projectiles near an overpass that cuts through downtown Cairo. By the time they made it to a television and radio broadcasting building, the army began shooting into the crowd and ramming riot-control vehicles into the protestors. Sidhom said Christian protestors were particularly upset about the church attack because the government blamed them for it, claiming the building was a hospitality house with illegal construction taking place, despite legal documents parish priests put forth to the contrary.
October 6 (Compass Direct News) – Hindu extremists in West Bengal, India who earlier this year refused to admit Christian orphans to a high school have forced them to contribute funds for idol worship in order to gain admission, sources said. The conflict in Kharagpur, Paschim Medinipur, last month led the hard-line Hindus to throw stones at a Christian orphanage, shut it and other social programs down and threaten to arrest the head of the organization that operates them.
The Rev. Dr. Subimal Dutta, director general of Ambassadors Service Society, which operates the Gilgal Children’s Home, told Compass he faced the threats after opposing the collection of money for idol worship at government schools or government-aided schools. Dutta said that he has tried to stop school officials from collecting money from the Gilgal Children’s Home and from non-Hindu students at public schools for the “Puja subscription,” or idol worship fee. Hindu extremists led by Achinty Hatui, headmaster of the Dudhebudhe Gram Sava Tribal Institute, forced the Christian students to pay the fee for idols and warned Dutta that they would ransack the properties of the Society. On Sept. 9, the extremists stormed into the Society compound and warned Dutta to stop all Christian activities within seven days or that they would forcibly shut down the mission. They also sternly warned him that his life would be in danger if he involved police or any administrative officials. At a meeting with the village head, the local political party and the Ambassadors Service Society on Sept. 23, an agreement was reached for re-opening the Society, but it required all students at the government high school to pay the idol worship fee without complaint.
October 31 (Compass Direct News) – The government on Oct. 20 deported U.S. evangelist William Lee, blacklisted him and prohibited him from visiting India again after police arrested him on Oct. 14 for participation in a musical concert in Kaloor Stadium, Cochin and jailed him for allegedly violating terms of his visa by preaching, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Lee participated in an indoor musical program organized by Faith Leaders Church of Lord, Tiruvalla.
After three days in jail, the evangelist complained of chest pain and was admitted to a hospital. The Ernakulam magistrate’s court fined him 10,000 rupees (US$202). The GCIC condemned Lee’s arrest as selective, releasing a statement that, “The moral policing, sectarian violence and the selective arrest of Christian evangelists demonstrate very clearly a failure of secular institutions in India.”
Karnataka – On Oct. 17 in Sullia, South Kanara, Hindu extremists along with the village head exhumed the body of a Christian woman, alleging that Christians were guilty of an illegal burial. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that a pastor identified only as Moses V. conducted the funeral service of Asha Latha of Bethsaida Assembly of God Church on land he had bought as a burial ground.
Just as the Christians had completed the ceremony and interned the body, the village head and about 100 extremists forced them to exhume the body and bury it elsewhere and complained to Sullia police. Officers arrived and took the pastor to the police station. As Christians buried Latha’s body on her land at Ivara Nadu, police questioned the pastor till about midnight, GCIC reported. He was released only after area leaders’ intervention, but on Oct. 18 police took him back to the station for further questioning.
Andhra Pradesh – Police on Oct. 16 detained Christians after Hindu extremists beat them and damaged a pastor’s car in Ramagudam. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that about 100 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) barged into the evening youth meeting, beat the young Christians and took them to the police station. A pastor identified only as Suresh rushed to the station, but the RSS stopped him and damaged his car. After beating the pastor, the RSS members filed a false charge of forcible conversion, according to the GCIC. Pastor Suresh also filed a police complaint against the attackers, after which the youth leaders were released without charges.
Karnataka – Police on Oct. 15 seized the passport of a pastor who runs an orphanage after he reported a missing orphan in Kadugodi, near Bangalore. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Joseph Victor notified authorities that a 15-year-old girl at his Navajeevan Orphanage left the facility to attend a tailoring class. Police told him he could file a written complaint the next morning, and Pastor Victor sent his associate pastor and a clerk to the police station the next day to do so. While police made the Christians wait, the station inspector and sub-inspector went to the orphanage and demanded to know whether Pastor Victor had permission to operate the facility. After questioning, they took him to the police station. Detaining the Christians till evening, police forced them to sign a statement that they themselves should search for the missing girl, demanded that they produce all documents for operating the orphanage and a house church and confiscated the pastor’s passport, reported the GCIC.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Oct. 15 accused Christians of forceful conversion and attacked them in Ramagundam. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported the extremists accused the Glorious Ministries youth group as they were preparing for three days of meetings at Calvary Temple on Oct 18-20. The extremists took the youth group to the police station. When a pastor identified only as Suresh along with three other Christians went to the station, about 100 extremists led by Thota Kumara Swamy attacked them, seriously injuring their heads and eyes and badly damaging their car with boulders, according to the GCIC. The Christian youths were charged and taken to the Karim Nagar Magistrate Court. At press time area Christian leaders were taking steps to resolve the matter.
Karnataka – Police in Arasikere arrested Pastor Sunder Raj on Oct. 13 after Hindu extremists filed a complaint alleging that he tried to demolish a temple and had attacked and abused them with foul language. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that police, bowing to the extremists’ pressure, filed an anti-religion atrocity case against the pastor, whom a judge sent to Hassan Jail; he was released on bail the next day. In 2004 the Arasikere Municipality, pressured by Sangh Parivar extremists, had demolished a church building alleging that it was constructed without permission and then built a temple on the same spot. Police had refused to accept the pastor’s complaints. Pastor Raj fought the case for more than two years but lost it in 2006. He then appealed to the District Sessions Court at Hassan, which ordered a fresh survey of the land. Knowing this, some Sangh Parivar extremists damaged a small part of the temple wall to make it appear the pastor was guilty of an anti-religious atrocity, according to the GCIC.
Karnataka – Police arrested six tribal Christians on Oct. 12 in Kulshalnagar, Coorg after Hindu extremists barged into their prayer meeting, verbally abused them and filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the incident took place on the previous day at about 7 p.m., when the extremists forcefully entered into the prayer meeting at a Christian’s house. Accusing them of forceful conversion, the angry extremists destroyed vehicles parked outside the house, according to the GCIC. The police who arrived soon after arrested the Christians and took them to the Siddapura police station. They were sent to Virajpet jail and were released on bail the next day.
Maharashtra – Hindu extremists led by Gupsingh Raya Paurana threatened to murder a convert Christian from Hinduism, Ram Balli, and other Christians after launching repeated attacks on them in Virla Town, Sirja, Dhule. “Gupsingh Raya Purana claimed that he was imprisoned several times on charges of murder and other criminal acts and he threatened to murder me because I am a Christian,” Balli told Compass. “He told me that he would murder me and go back to jail and that it does not matter to him.” On Sept. 7, the village head summoned all the Christians and detained them for about eight hours after a Sept. 2 attack by Hindu extremists on a home prayer meeting that severely wounded the head of Raju Narayan. The village head along with Hindu extremists mocked them, and, in coarse language, told them they must not follow Christ. “They forced us to kneel down and worship the idols and also forced us to drink alcohol, and threatened to kill us if we didn’t oblige,” Balli said.
On Oct. 8, while the Christians were getting ready to sleep, the extremists started throwing stones at their houses, sending Meena Raju to the hospital with a severe head injury. The Christians filed a police complaint against the attackers. The next day, the enraged extremists went to Balli’s house and other Christian homes and verbally abused them, threatening to kill them. Balli ran for his life to the police station, and other Christian family members hid in a field. The extremists destroyed the houses of the Christians. Police summoned the two parties. “The police told the Christians to worship the idols like all the other villagers and live in harmony with each other,” reported a pastor identified only as Sarichar, coordinator of the Indian Evangelical Team of Chodada division. After the intervention of the National Commission for Minorities, Shirpur Police in-charge P.R. Gulate and his team on Oct. 19 went to the site and investigated, and then registered a case against Dev Das, Gup Singh Paurane and Sai Singh. The attackers were charged with voluntarily causing hurt and intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace. Tensions still prevailed in the area, and at press time police were trying to arrange another meeting between the two parties.
Andhra Pradesh – On Oct. 2, Hindu extremist Goli Suman and a drunken mob broke into Jesus Prayer Hall at Govindupally Jagitiyal town and threatened pastor Badugu Lazarus and other members of the church during a praying meeting. The Catholic Christian Forum reported that the extremists drank on the church premises. That night at 2 a.m., pastor A. Paul Chand rushed to the church and called police. An assistant sub-inspector of the town police station immediately visited the church, and after daybreak the Deva Reddy inspector of police also arrived and gave moral support, suggesting the pastor file a complaint. The Christians filed a complaint, and police arrested three extremists. Six months before, Hindu extremist Malla Reddy and the same group had objected to church construction and threatened to harm Pastor Lazarus if he built a church.
Kerala – On Sept.27 in Ambalavaval, Wayanad, Hindu extremists beat a pastor for his faith in Christ, seriously injuring him. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that a pastor identified only as Jaison E.T. and his wife were distributing gospel tracts and praying for the sick in various homes until one resident ordered them to get out of his family’s house. The Christians left, but later the same man and two Hindu extremists caught up with him in a house where the Christians had been welcomed and severely beat him. The owner of the house tried to stop them and called her husband to help, according to GCIC, and within five minutes he reached their house and gave protection to the pastor. Meantime, more than 20 people turned up to keep the intolerant Hindus from attacking the pastor’s wife.
Karnataka – In Nagnure, Belgaum district, a pastor and another Christian en route to evangelistic work on Sept. 27 were stopped by Hindu extremists who then tied them to a tree and beat them for their faith in Christ. The All India Christian Council reported that upon learning of the assault on the pastor, identified only as Kashinath, and the worker from the Indian Missionary Society, Christian youths from the area gathered and retaliated, requiring police intervention. Both parties filed cases against each other the following day. No arrests had been made at press time.
Karnataka – In Sakleshpur, about 50 Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the World Hindu Council, on Sept. 25 forced their way into the End Times Full Harvest Church, manhandled pastor Balzy D’Souza and some Christian women. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists took Bibles and called police, who quickly arrived and joined the extremists in bullying the Christians. The area sub-inspector ordered them to stop their worship service and close down the church. Three weeks prior, an area inspector of police identified only as Ganesh visited the church and asked the pastor whether he had a license and the necessary permission from authorities to run a church in his house.
The officer told him that there had been complaint against him that he had been involved in forcible and fraudulent conversions and that he must stop such illegal activities immediately. Area Christian leaders intervened, meeting with Hassan district official Ajit Singh and arranging a meeting between the Christians and the assailants. The extremists, however, gathered and fabricated a story with a couple of false witnesses that pastor John D’Souza and his colleagues had tried to bribe two people, supposedly paying them10,000 rupees (US$202) each to become Christians. Hindu leaders then issued an ordered that the pastor must stop his activities immediately, as they accused him of causing communal disharmony.
Karnataka – Police in Hulimavy, Bangalore Rural District on Sept. 25 threatened to jail pastor Arunachala Paramashivam of the Church of God Full Gospel India and shuttered his church. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hulimavu police station’s sub-inspector, identified only as Chandru, visited the pastor and asked him whether he had permission for a church, and that he had received complaints against him of forcible and fraudulent conversions. The pastor was arrested and subjected to lengthy questioning by Inspector Balram Gowda, who warned him that if he persisted in continuing with his prayer services, he would be arrested and sent to jail, reported the GCIC. He then ordered him to stop worship services and closed down the church. With area Christian leaders’ intervention, the pastor was able to continue Sunday worship meetings, reported GCIC.
October 3 (Compass Direct News) – The suicide bombing of a church in Central Java on Sept. 25 pointed not only to a new level of attacks on religious minorities in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country but to a political bent that accommodates Islamist extremism. Pino Damayanto, aka Ahmad Yosepa Hayat, who blew himself up and wounded more than 20 members of the Sepenuh Injil Bethel Church (Bethel Full Gospel Church) in Solo on Sept. 25, apparently believed it was his religious duty to kill “the enemies of Islam.” Extremism has constantly grown since the fall of the authoritarian President Suharto in 1999, who kept radical groups under control.
A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable dated May 9, 2006, published on the WikiLeaks website in May, revealed that a member of the National Intelligence Agency told the U.S. Embassy that a top official of the national police had “provided some funds” to the hard-line Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front or FPI), and that police were using the FPI as an “attack dog.” Extremist groups and officials close to them flout laws and violate the rights of minorities with almost complete impunity, sources said. Bonar Tigor Naipospos, vice-chairman of the Setara Institute, said extremist groups have infiltrated at all levels, including the clerical body representing all Indonesian Muslim groups to the government. “The government has no will to control extremist groups,” said Rumadi of the Wahid Institute, adding that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono doesn’t want to be seen as “anti-Islamic.” The government shrugs off the threat from extremists, claiming they are tiny in number.
October 25 (Compass Direct News) – Members of a church in Bogor, West Java, are determined to continue meeting outside their sealed building each Sunday until they are granted freedom to worship inside it, despite a ban on street meetings issued by the local mayor. “The church will never give up meeting together,” a local source who preferred to remain unnamed said of the Indonesian Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Indonesia, or GKI), in the Yasmin area of Bogor. The ban on street meetings forced church members to worship at an alternative location on Sunday (Oct. 23).
Amid the stand-off, religious freedom for groups such as the Yasmin church would be dramatically reduced under a “Religious Tolerance Bill” under consideration by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, critics of the proposal say. On Oct. 9,Yasmin church members and police officers clashed on the street in front of the sealed church building over the Christians’ right to meet there. According to local media reports, a police chief has accused church members of knocking him unconscious, while the church has countersued police for disrupting its service. In defiance of a Supreme Court order early this year affirming Yasmin’s constitutional right to freedom of worship, Bogor Mayor Diani Budianto canceled the church’s worship permit, locked and sealed their church building and banned church members from meeting on the street.
*** A photo of GKI-Yasmin church is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
October 11 (Compass Direct News) – Nuria and her family, whose names must be withheld for their safety, are Iraqi Arabs who converted from Islam to Christianity. Whereas Assyrian Iraqis are accepted as Christians by ethnic identity, Iraqi Muslims believe Arabs have no business becoming Christians; it is not possible, according to society and the constitution. If the children say they believe in Jesus, they face beatings and scorn from their teachers. Nuria’s parents became Christians seven years ago. Her dad, a carpenter in Kirkuk, used to speak openly about his faith. These days he is not so brave; he has had to change jobs one too many times because his employers discovered his faith. In Erbil, a Kurdish convert to Christianity, Majeed Muhammed, is fighting for his children’s right to not have “Muslim” written on their IDs. And a 9-year-old Iranian refugee to Iraq, Surush Bidookh, has been beaten and insulted for his faith.
His family fled to Iraq from Iran for political reasons before he was born and came to faith in Christ in Iraq. Like other converts to Christianity, his father, Siyamand Bidookh, said that persecution was tolerable until it affected his children. When Surush started first grade in Erbil, a teacher beat him in front of the class and told him he was a “kafir” (infidel) like his father. Bidookh’s daughter, Sevda, came home from kindergarten last year and asked why her teacher said their family was going to “burn” for being Christians. After this she was too afraid and stopped attending for the rest of the year. “When my kids go to school and say hello to the teachers, they don’t respond,” their mother said. “I say to them, ‘What kind of an example are you setting for these kids?’”
*** A photo of Surush and Sevda is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
AUTHORITIES ARREST, DEPORT INDIAN TEACHER FOR OWNING BIBLE ***
October 21 (Compass Direct News) – Police in the island nation of Maldives held a teacher from India for about 15 days before deporting him on Oct. 14 for having a Bible in his house, a source said. Shijo Kokkattu, a 30-year-old Catholic and teacher at the Raafainu School in Raa Atoll, was arrested in late September after police found a Bible and a rosary in his house during a raid, a foreign source in the capital city of Male told Compass. Charging that Kokkattu was preaching his Christian faith in the Muslim nation, police took him to another island for interrogation and kept him in custody for more than two weeks, said the source. Last month, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published new regulations under the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994, signaling a renewed commitment to control unlicensed preaching of Islam and propagation of non-Islamic religions in the country.
The Act outlaws promotion of anything that represents a religion other than Islam or any opinion that disagrees with Islamic scholars. The new set of regulations maintains a longtime ban on propagation, display and expression of any religion other than Islam. The regulations state that only preachers licensed by the government are allowed to speak in public, and they must not create hatred towards people of any other religion – the latter stipulation has been criticized by members of Islamic organizations such as the Islamic Foundation of Maldives, who say that because the Quran speaks against Judaism and Christianity, they too should have the right to do so. Any violation under the Act is punishable by an imprisonment of between two and five years, banishment or house arrest. Foreigners who are found proselytizing are to be deported, it says.
*** A photo of the Maldives parliament building is available to subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.**********
October 17 (Compass Direct News) – Violence-weary Christians in Borno state have been further upset to learn of the murder of a Nigerian evangelist by Boko Haram less than three months after the Islamic extremist group killed a Maiduguri pastor. Mark Ojunta, a 36-year-old evangelist from southern Nigeria who was ministering amid the Kotoko people of Nigeria’s northeastern state with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO), was shot on Aug. 27 in Maiduguri. In a press statement, CAPRO International Director Amos Aderonmu said Ojunta died “as a martyr on his field among the Kotokos.” CAPRO had learned that all its staff members working among the Shuwa Arab, Kotoko and Kanuri peoples were on a Boko Haram list of people to be killed and had evacuated them, Aderonmu said. Ojunta had returned to teach a class after the evacuation of his family. In his statement, Aderonmu said that four days before his death, Ojunta had received an invitation to leave work among the Kotoko people to take a position at CAPRO’s International office in London. He declined. Ojunta is survived by his wife, Ema, and two children, 3-year-old Kambe and 9-month-old Akira, besides his parents and sisters. The killing came less than three months after the June 7 murder of a Church of Christ in Nigeria pastor David Usman, 45, and church secretary Hamman Andrew, who were shot by members of Boko Haram in Maiduguri.
October 24 (Compass Direct News) – Nigerian soldiers summoned to stop inter-religious fighting between Muslim and Christian youths last week shot and killed a Christian mother of five in the Yelwa area of Bauchi city, according to family and church sources. Soldiers were called in to restore calm following fighting that broke out at a high school soccer match on Thursday (Oct. 20), and later three Muslim soldiers shot and killed Charity Augustine Agbo and a Christian boy. The circumstances leading to the shooting of the boy, who is unrelated to Agbo, were not immediately known, and his name was not disclosed. “There was not any justifiable reason for the soldiers to have shot the woman,” said the Rev. Lawi Pokti, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Bauchi State. Pokti confirmed the shooting of the boy, who was initially reported as having been killed, and said he had been resuscitated in a hospital. Augustine Agbo, husband of the murdered woman, told reporters that three soldiers shot his wife after storming their house on Lagos Street in the Yelwa area of the city. Agbo said his wife later died at a Church of Christ in Nigeria-owned hospital. The inter-religious violence erupted during a soccer game at the Baba Tanko Secondary School in Kagadama, a part of the Yelwa area, and then spread to other parts of Bauchi city. Other Muslims reportedly joined Muslim students from the school, attacked Christians and set their homes ablaze.
October 4 (Compass Direct News) – A Christian mother of five who was allegedly raped by two Muslims rejoiced after police in Pakistan’s Kasur district arrested a suspect and suspended an officer who had dismissed her complaints, but her solace was short-lived when her father collapsed and died Friday night (Sept. 30) after learning of her ordeal. The 32-year-old woman and her husband, Mushtaq Masih, told Compass that they had lost hope of getting justice as they were facing threats from area Muslims to withdraw the case even as police were deliberately slow to investigate and arrest the accused. Heartened after advocate pressure led to the arrest last week of one of the primary suspects in the case, the woman, whose name is withheld, went to visit her father late Friday night (Sept. 30). “As soon as my wife shared her ordeal with her family, her father collapsed and died on the spot,” Masih said. “He could not take the pain.” Community Development Initiative (CDI) Executive Director Asif Aqeel told Compass that after intervention by his team, District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Khurram Ali Shah suspended Investigating Officer Muhammad Sharif, who had dismissed the Christians’ complaints that police had sought money in exchange for dropping the case and had refused to acknowledge that Muslims were making serious threats. The woman told the DPO how the suspects and other Muslims had intimidated her into declining to identify a primary suspect identified only as Shera, and Shah ordered his subordinates to bring Shera to his office so she could identify him again, Aqeel said. “Shera was produced before the DPO and was handcuffed soon after the woman pointed him out as one of her two rapists,” Aqeel said. He added that CDI also won the cancellation of bail for the other primary suspect.
October 7 (Compass Direct News) – Muslims in Pakistan’s Mian Channu area in southern Punjab Province shot dead an unarmed Christian and injured 21 others, six of them critically, during an attempted land-grab on Wednesday (Oct. 5). Residents of the area told Compass by phone that 40 to 45 heavily-armed Muslims on 10 to 12 motorcycles, two tractor-trolleys and in a car reached Chak 134-16/L village in Khanewal district and forcibly entered the home of Adeel Kashif, a Christian carpenter who was living on a government-owned piece of land. “The attackers forced their way into Kashif’s house and started throwing the family’s belongings onto the street,” Wazir Masih, a Christian elder in the area, told Compass. “They also tore the clothes off Kashif’s three female family members – Violet, 40, Parveen, 35, and Esther, 17, and tortured the family.” Masih said the Muslims wanted to take illegal possession of the 18-marla piece of land (in Pakistan, one marla equals 30.25 square yards), which the government makes available to laborers or craftsmen in exchange for the help they can offer to villagers.
A previous Muslim resident of the property had falsified a sale of the land to a local Muslim group, a fraudulent act as no one is permitted to sell government land in a personal capacity, Masih said. He said the Muslims suddenly began firing indiscriminately on the Christians, killing 25-year-old Sajid Bashir Masih and seriously injuring 21 others, including women and children. Six of the injured were in critical condition, one of them Sajid Bashir Masih’s younger brother, Haroon. “The Christians had done nothing to provoke the Muslims into employing such brute force,” Masih said. “They just opened fire on the defenseless people with their automatic rifles and shotguns.”
October 20 (Compass Direct News) – A female prison officer assigned to provide security for a Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death on “blasphemy” charges beat her earlier this month, sources said. The sources in Pakistan’s Sheikhupura District Jail said Asia Noreen, also known as Asia Bibi, was beaten on Oct. 5 by a prison officer identified only as Khadeeja, allegedly because of the Muslim officer’s anti-Christian bias, while other staff members deployed for her security looked on in silence. Khadeeja was later suspended for three months, and jail Superintendent Sheikh Khalid began an inquiry of her actions after an intelligence agency reported the matter to the Punjab Province government. The Home Department also sent a senior police official to Sheikhupura to investigate, and he recommended Khadeeja’s immediate removal from service. Based on communications with jail staff members, a source told Compass on condition of anonymity that Noreen had not received any life-threatening injuries, but that jail personnel had apparently pressured the Christian woman and her husband, Ashiq Masih, to refrain from telling anyone about the beating. “It seems that Ashiq has been pressured by the jail authorities to say that Khadeeja did not attack Asia,” the source said. “Why would the jail superintendent suspend Khadeeja for three months, and why would the inquiry officer recommend her removal from service, if she just ‘got angry with Asia’ over a minor issue?” While reluctant to admit that the Muslim prison officer had beaten Noreen, a jail official acknowledged that Noreen had struck back in self-defense. Adamant that Noreen was secure in custody, he said the incident had negatively affected her security and that authorities were considering transferring her to another prison.
October 19 (Compass Direct News) – Militants from the Islamic extremist al Shabaab beheaded a 17-year-old Somali Christian near Mogadishu last month, a journalist in the Somali capital told Compass. The militants, who have vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity, killed Guled Jama Muktar on Sept. 25 in his home near Deynile, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Mogadishu. The Islamic extremist group had been monitoring his family since the Christians arrived in Somalia from Kenya in 2008, said the source in Mogadishu, who requested anonymity. The Islamic militants, who are fighting the transitional government for control of the country, knew from their observations of the family that they were Christians, the source said. “I personally know this family as Christians who used to have secret Bible meetings in their house,” he said. Based on talks with the boy’s parents and their neighbors, the source said al Shabaab members arrived at Muktar’s home at 6 a.m., when his parents, whose names are withheld for security reasons, were already at work at their retail space at the Hamarweyne market on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Neighbors informed the parents of the murder, and they hurriedly returned home and buried their son’s body quickly, fearing the militants would kill them as well. They then fled to an unknown destination, the source said. “When the incident happened, the parents called to tell me that their son had been killed and that they feared for their lives,” the source said. “Since then, I have not heard from them.”
October 12 (Compass Direct News) – Local authorities have threatened to demolish three church buildings in Omdurman as part of a long-standing bid to rid Sudan of Christianity, Christian sources told Compass. Church leaders from the three churches in the Madinat al-Fath area of Omdurman – the Sudanese Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the Roman Catholic Church – said they were surprised to see government officials come to their church premises on Sept. 11, accusing them of operating churches on government land without permission. The church leaders told Compass the buildings were not located on government land and required no permission. Officials from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Public Utilities-Khartoum State appeared and asked church leaders who gave them permission to build on government land, the church leaders said. The officials marked the three church buildings for demolition with red crosses. Jaafer al Sudani, manager of Church Affairs in the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment, said officials there had no knowledge of church buildings to be demolished. At the same time, area Christians said they believe the government is quietly carrying out surveys on Christians and church programs as part of a broader effort to make Islam the official state religion; officials from the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment have called church leaders asking them to reveal information about their church members and activities of the Churches, they said. “This is purely for intelligence purposes, so that they can put more restrictions on churches and Christians,” said the Rev. Yousif El-Denger Kodi, general secretary of the Sudanese Lutheran Church.
October 24 (Compass Direct News) – Emboldened by government calls for a Sudan based on Islamic law since the secession of South Sudan, Muslims long opposed to a church near Khartoum have attacked Christians trying to finish constructing their building, sources said. The Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) congregation in Omdurman West has continued to meet for Sunday worship in a building without a roof in spite of opposition from area Muslims and local authorities, the sources told Compass. Claiming that Christianity was no longer an accepted religion in the country, Muslims in the Hay al Sawra, Block 29 area of Omdurman West on Aug. 5 attacked SCOC members who were constructing the church building, the sources said. Muslims in the north, where an estimated 1 million Christians still live following the secession of South Sudan on July 9, fear the potential influence of the church, they said. “They want to reduce or restrict the number of churches, so that they can put more pressure on believers,” said a church leader on condition of anonymity. The church had filed a complaint with the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, which last month informed the SCOC that officials will investigate the matter, though they gave no time frame.
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