Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Islamic intolerance is devouring Pakistan

Islamic intolerance is escalating unchecked across Pakistan as Islamic fundamentalism emanating from mosques and madrassas cultivates hatred which is then fuelled by the impunity the persecutors enjoy.

As chaos and lawlessness escalate, religious intolerance and hatred are unleashed without restraint, and the situation for Christians deteriorates.

The following reports represent the tip of the iceberg. All are recent.
(Credit to Compass Direct News for their phenomenal reporting on the plight of Pakistan's minority Christians.)


KYBER PAKHTOONKHWA (formerly North West Frontier Province).

On 14 June, Samuel John, a Christian psychology professor at the University of Peshawar, was savagely bashed outside his home by a group of five students for refusing to convert to Islam. When his wife rushed to his aid, she too was beaten. Both required hospitalisation, with the professor in a critical condition. The police refuse to register a First Information Report (FIR), and John continues to be threatened with death unless he converts to Islam or leaves the University.

PUNJAB PROVINCE.

Sunil Masih, Shazia Masih and Nasir Naeem, three Christian 8th grade students in Danna village, southern Punjab, have long faced pressure from teachers to convert to Islam. On 16 June, after their parents complained, the principal backed his staff, agreeing that the students should convert to Islam or leave the school. When the police refused to help, the three Christian families fled the area.

On 19 June, Rehmat Masih (85), a Christian of Faisalabad district, was arrested and jailed after a hard-line Muslim named Muhammad Sajjid Hameed filed a false blasphemy charge against him. Hameed and Masih had both made application for the same parcel of land.

Christian policeman Jamshed Masih was recently transferred to the predominantly Muslim Mustafa Colony in Jhelum, south of Islamabad. However, local Muslims unwilling to have the Christian family living amongst them, immediately began conspiring against them.

On 21 June, a mob led by local Muslim religious leader Maulana Mahfooz Khan descended on the family's home after Masih had left for work. Sensing trouble brewing, Masih's wife, Razia, had already phoned her husband and asked him to come home urgently. Khan accused the eldest son (11) of blasphemy, drawing a crowd. As Razia pleaded for mercy someone in the crowd hit her on the head with a hard object, causing her to bleed and her children to cry. The agitated crowd began baying for blood, and by the time Jamshed Masih got home, his wife and four children lay murdered -- massacred. Masih tried to file a complaint, but the Station House Officer refused to register a FIR.

On 1 July Rev. Rashid Emmanuel (32) and Sajid Emmanuel (30), leaders of United Ministries Pakistan, were falsely accused of blasphemy. They were supposed to have written a blasphemous document and signed their names to it (a highly unlikely scenario in any case, except for someone with a death wish).

Over 10 and 11 July many hundreds of enraged Muslims marched through the predominantly Christian colony of Dawood Nagar. Spewing abuse and obscenities, they called for the immediate death of the two Christian brothers. According to Compass Direct News, while Islamic extremists led the protests, most participants appeared to be teenagers who pelted the main gate of the Waris Pura Catholic Church with stones, bricks and shards of glass and pounded the gate with bamboo clubs.

It was widely expected that the brothers would soon be exonerated as handwriting experts had notified police that the signatures on the papers denigrating Muhammad did not match those of the accused.

On 19 July 2010, the brothers were shot dead outside the Faisalabad courthouse by five masked men. The bodied of the slain brothers showed signs of torture. The killings have caused religious tensions in Faisalabad to soar.

In Farooqabad in eastern Punjab, on the night of 21 July, three Muslim co-workers of a Christian man allegedly raped his 16-year-old daughter at gunpoint. Then, on 29 July, after Masih complained to police, two other Muslims who work for his employer, kidnapped him and took him to the employer's farmhouse where they allegedly shackled and tortured Masih, leaving him in critical condition.

In Rawalpindi district, students from the local Jamia Islamia Madrassa have been harassing Christians in the villages around Gujar Khan. According to a local pastor, they routinely beat Christian children and throw stones at the church. 'They openly announce that "the Christians are our enemies, we should not talk to them, eat with them or do business with them".' (NOTE: the Qur'an repeatedly commands Muslims to maintain enmity towards and separation from Christians.) On 22 July, a 12-yr-old girl from a local Christian family was gang-raped by 7 or 8 madrassa students. A teacher who witnessed the incident overheard one of the 16-strong student-mob saying: 'We will teach these Christians a lesson they will never forget'.

When the girl's distraught parents subsequently went to the police station to file a complaint, the officer in charge refused to register it, yielding to local Muslim pressure. According to the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), 'Such vicious incidents are not being stopped by the government, and day by day the rate of rapes of Christian girls is escalating instead of plunging.' (As would be expected when rape is rewarded with impunity.)

SINDH PROVINCE.

On 13 July 2010, Dr. Abdul Jabbar Meammon, his driver, another Muslim doctor and two other men, beat, tortured and gang-raped Christian trainee nurse Magdalene Ashraf at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Karachi, Sind Province. In an effort to cover up their crime, the three Muslim men then attempted to kill Magdalene by throwing her out of a window on the hospital's 4th floor. While Magdalene survived the attack, she is a critical condition with serious head and shoulder injuries.

Magdlene told the Christian Lawyers' Foundation (CLF) that a nurse named Sajjad Fatima had set her up, sending her to Dr Meammon's room on false pretenses. When Magdalene entered Dr Meammon's office, he grabbed her. “When I resisted and tried to escape, nurse Fatima slapped both my cheeks and pushed me into Dr. Jabbar,” Ashraf said. “I cried out but no one arrived there to rescue me. They not only gang-raped me, they also tortured me physically and ruthlessly beat me.”

Dr Jabbar Meammon, a known sexual predator, has been charged with attempted murder. No-one has been charged with rape or assault. Meanwhile, as Dr Meammon and his legal team work on his contrary story (where he the victim!), Ashraf's family is receiving threats.

On 15 July, Pastor Aaron John, Rohail Bhatti, Salman John, Abid Gill and Shamin Mall were shot dead -- massacred -- and six others were wounded when a dozen masked men opened fire on them as they exited their church property in Sukkur, Sindh Province.

Students from a local madrassa (Qur'anic school) have been threatening the church since 2008, and according to reports, while the gunmen had young physiques like those of students, their manner of attack indicated they were trained militants.

The church members had been meeting to discuss security in the light of a threatening letter the church had received in May from Islamic extremist group Sip-e-Sahaba warning the Christians to leave the area because they were not welcome and were polluting the land.

The police and ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive.

A church member told Compass Direct News that, not only had the police refused to register a FIR in relation to the threats, they have also yielded to Muslim pressure and refused to register a FIR in relation to the Sukkur massacre.

FLOODS

Pakistan's devastating floods are the result of unprecedented monsoonal rains AND bad governance, for Pakistan has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.

Pakistan today has less than 5 percent forest cover. (Five percent is the official government figure, but the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says forests only amount to about 2.5 percent of the country's total area.)

The floods have wiped out millions of homes AND, accord to TIME magazine, some 17 million acres of agricultural land have been submerged, and more than 100,000 animals have perished.
A humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions is unfolding.

Further to this, Bishop Humphrey Peters of Peshawar warns that aid is unlikely to reach marginalised minority Christians.

Meanwhile, the people's anger, hunger and desperation, combined with the government's virtual collapse in credibility, and the Army's diversion into rescue and relief, provides the al-Qaeda-Taliban with a phenomenal window of opportunity. As TIME magazine notes, it will be difficult -- suicidal in fact -- for the government to crack down on Islamic fundamentalist and militant groups -- like the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, an Islamic "charity" with alleged links to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba -- when these groups are extending aid and assistance to the displaced and are receiving donations from the "urban middle class of Punjab, who are turning increasingly to religious conservatism".

Is the battle for Pakistan essentially already over?

In a 4 Aug 2010 column for Dawn (Pakistan), Rafia Zakaria (a US-based attorney who teaches constitutional history and political philosophy) writes that while the Pakistani army might be having some military successes against the Pakistani Taliban, the Taliban's "social project of producing a radicalised Pakistan attracted to literal and intolerant interpretations of faith is flourishing. Examples of such societal radicalisation abound, a notable one being the lack of public outcry against the rampant persecution of minorities who do not fit into the idealised mould of the Sunni Muslim Pakistani citizen."

See: Everyday intolerance
By Rafia Zakaria, for Dawn, Wednesday, 04 Aug 2010

In lamenting the Islamisation of Pakistan, Zakaria notes not only the persecution of religious minorities -- Christians, Ahmadis and Hindus -- but also the banning of Facebook (deemed blasphemous, the ban was supported by 70% of Pakistanis), and the banning of Teray Bin Laden, a comedy film that pokes fun at Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and features Pakistani pop star Ali Zafar. "The affinity for bans suggests the increasing prevalence of a worldview that wants to eliminate perspectives that are repugnant, rather than develop intellectual arguments against them."

Zakaria deplores the Islamisation of college campuses, noting that some have banned "Western dress", and decries the rise of Islamic vigilantism.

Zakaria expresses a widely held fear that, "while the Pakistani military may be winning the territorial conflict, the war for the Pakistani psyche may already have been lost."


This post is an extended version of Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 069 | Wed 18 Aug 2010, "PAKISTAN: SITUATION CRITICAL".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

PAPUA: evidence of human rights abuses


Video sheds light on Indonesia security forces

By ROBIN McDOWELL (AP) 5 Aug 2010
excerpts
The jumpy video shows a prisoner lying in a jungle clearing in eastern Indonesia moments after troops allegedly sliced open his abdomen with a bayonet, sending intestines tumbling from his stomach.

Using the little life he has left in him, Yawen Wayeni lifts his arm into the air, and says weakly, "Freedom! Papua ... Freedom!"

At the sound of his muffled voice, gun-toting, uniformed officers resting in the shade approach.
"Speak up," one taunts. "What? You all are never going to get freedom." [. . .]

The seven-minute video appears to have been made by the Korps Brigade Mobil, or Brimob, the paramilitary police who took part in the arrest. It too has a legacy of abuse in Papua.

It's not clear how the clip made its way to the Internet, and few here have seen it.

The troops caught up with Wayeni at his home in the jungle village of Matembu on Aug. 3, 2009.

Wayeni's wife told the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence that they tied his arms and legs to a log and forced him to chant "Free Papua!" before slicing him in the abdomen with a bayonet.
They all but ignored him as he stumbled to the ground, landing in a patch of rough grass and propping his head up on a log.

"Look, he's tired," one officer says as the prisoner's head lolls back, his eyes rolling.

The police ask Wayeni if he is an atheist and call him a "savage," saying his prayers will never be answered. They then ask how, in his condition, he thinks Papua will ever shake free of Indonesian rule.

"It's equally surreal and horrific watching as the grievously injured Yawan Wayeni answers teasing questions from uniformed Indonesia security forces about his political beliefs," said Phil Robertson, a deputy director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Getting medical help, he notes, seems the furthest thing from their minds.

Despite his suffering, however, the dying man refuses to give in.

"This land was promised by God to us, the Papuan people," Wayeni says. "God, the suffering of the simple people, there are so many! They are crying, oh God!"

  • NOTE: In the video the soldiers refer to Yawen as "orang kaffir". The translation incorrectly translates the term"kaffir" as "atheist". Yet clearly Yawen is not an atheist -- he is cyring out to God. The correct translation would be "infidel", the term used by Muslims of non-Muslims. Thus "orang kaffir" = "this person is an infidel".
Papuan Detainee in Gruesome Video Was Shot, Not Disemboweled: Police
By Farouk Arnaz and Banjir Ambarita,
Jakarta Globe,
August 06, 2010
The National Police have denied allegations that officers disemboweled a Papuan detainee with a bayonet and taunted him, saying his injuries were caused by a gunshot wound sustained during a firefight . . .

MEANWHILE: Rev Sofyan Yoman summonsed

Rev Sofyan Yoman, the chairman of the Central Board of the United Baptist Churches in Papua, has been summonsed to give an account to the police of a statement he recently made regarding actions of the army and police in Puncak Jaya. He is purported to have intimated that the Indonesian military (TNI) has committed human rights abuses and that it does not always report the truth.

"What I was reported to have said is not rubbish. There is good reason for us to have made that statement, we have the data and we have the experience. The government and the security forces misrepresent the situation and they fail to understand us. We are not an ignorant people who are deaf, dumb and blind," he said.

Rev Yoman has declined the summons, saying that the church is not subordinate to the Indonesian government or the security forces. According to Rev Yoman, the church must always and at all times be the voice of its people who are voiceless and oppressed.

"We continue to be amazed that the acts of violence that have been happening since 2004 in Puncak Jaya have continued to this day. . . What we hope for is that the security forces should end this game that is going on in the Land of Papua. . ."

Rev Yoman appealed for the police to stop summoning indigenous Papuans. "Let's live together, side by side, as equals, respecting each other. Don't treat the creatures of the Lord like hunted animals, stigmatised, trivialising the people of God."

While Rev Yoman has rejected the summons, the police are saying they will force him to appear.
The director for criminal affairs Petrus Waine said that Rev Sokrates Sofyan Yoman had created the impression in his speech that the TNI/Polri were responsible for the shootings. He must take responsibility for his remarks, including those about the shooting of civilians and members of the security forces. "He needs to produce data and facts," he said, "and if he fails to do so, it is not ethical."

But according to Gustaf Kawer, a lawyer who closely follows legal affairs in Papua, "Yoman has not committed a criminal offence, and there's no need for a police summons. Criticisms from the people are quite natural in this era of democracy and should not be seen as violations of the law."

Kawer also said that it was within the rights of Sokrates to refuse to respond to a police summons
.

See:
Socrates Yoman rejects police summons; Alleged OPM attack on civilian in Mulia
Bintang Papua, 8 August 2010
Translated by TAPOL
WPapua news: Police will force Sokrates to appear Articles in Bintang Papua
Bintang Papua, 9 August 2010
Translated by TAPOL with abridgements

The reality is, as with all Papuan human rights advocates, Rev Yoman's life is perpetually at risk.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sharia-phobia?

Kenyans have voted and the new constitution has been accepted.

See:
Kenyans Approve New Constitution
By Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, 5 Aug 2010

New constitution for Kenya as 'No' team concedes
By Tom Odula, Associated Press, 5 Aug 2010

No need to apologise, Moi tells clerics
By BEATRICE OBWOCHA and RENSON BULUMA, The Standard, 8 Aug 2010

2010 REFERENDUM PROCESS AND OUTCOMES
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE KENYA CHRISTIAN CHURCH LEADERS
Thursday, 05 August 2010

On the entrenchment of Kahdi Courts

Before the referendum, Kenya's retired Anglican Archbishop David Gitari, head of the Christians for Yes campaign, maintained that Christian fears over the entrenchment and legitimisation of Kahdi (Islamic/Sharia) courts were misplaced. "There is a lot of sharia-phobia in the Christian church," he said.

Sharia-phobia?

International Crisis Group's July 2006 report entitled "Islamic Law and Criminal Justice in Aceh", is worth revisiting, for Aceh can serve as a model for how Sharia not only divides Muslims, but has a tendency to expand once implemented.

The ICG report notes that the Muslim Acehnese have long been divided over Sharia. During Indonesia's battle for independence Acehnese elites clearly expressed their preference for Dutch-style secular administration. Even Aceh's ulama (religious scholars) were divided between those who favoured secular administration and those who wanted an Islamic State based on Sharia Law. ICG notes that for many, the issue had more to do with power than ideology - the elites did not want a religious bureaucracy established that could expand and threaten their authority, while the Islamists were determined to establish a formal religious bureaucracy from where they could expand and advance their influence and power.

ICG notes that the leader of the Acehnese Islamists, Daud Beureueh, led the Acehnese in jihad against the "kafir" Dutch occupier specifically with the aim of achieving an Islamic state. Sukarno courted and rewarded Beureueh with assurances that Indonesia would be built on Islamic principles and Aceh would have Sharia Law. This was radical as Sharia had no historic precedent in Aceh.

After Suharto's downfall, President Habibie offered Islamic Law to Aceh as a political solution to Acehnese unrest and disaffection, which really arose out of neglect and frustration. ICG reports that Jakarta regarded Sharia law as "something the Acehnese wanted (although how much was debatable - after the Indonesian parliament granted it, one Acehnese called it an 'unwanted gift', and he was not alone)". (ICG p 4)

Since Sharia has been legitimised and implemented in Aceh it has expanded considerably, for the religious bureaucracy tasked with codifying and implementing Sharia in Aceh is committed to "its own expansion; a focus on legislating and enforcing morality; and a quiet power struggle with secular law enforcement".

According to ICG, many Acehnese worry "that extension of Shari'a has been taken on as an agenda by conservative organisations. . . Women's organisations have been particularly active in raising questions about proposed changes to the khalwat qanun [laws on relationships between men and women] but in general, the conservatives, who support more extensive Shari'a application, are more vocal than those concerned about its consequences".(ICG p7)

The religious bureaucracy constantly extends the reach of Sharia by revising legislation and increasing the number of crimes that can be dealt with by the Sharia Courts. It has already been proposed that revisions be made to the laws covering khalwat (illicit relationships between men and women) so that any woman who alleges she was raped must follow Sharia protocols and produce four male adult Muslim eye-witnesses to support her claim in order to prove it. If she cannot, she will be found guilty of making a false accusation of rape, guilty of illicit sex, and caned accordingly.

In 2004, Aceh established the highly unpopular vice and virtue patrol, the wilayatul hisbah (WH), which is responsible for monitoring compliance with Islamic law. Not only did Aceh's WH grow from 13 members to 33 in one year, its powers are constantly increasing. What's more, the very presence of the WH is fueling the rise of hard-line Islamic vigilantism.

ICG also notes that as the religious bureaucracy expands it will rely more and more on young recruits who are motivated primarily by their contacts with intolerant radical foreign elements, in particular Wahhabis, jihadists, and groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

----------

Secular law and Sharia law are not parallel systems. Rather, they are conflicting systems that intersect continuously. The question eventually must arise, when the laws conflict, which is supreme?

In secular, free Malaysia the solution has been to give the Sharia Courts jurisdiction over everything pertaining to Islam -- including the right to leave Islam. (Sharia prohibits apostasy, so all requests to leave Islam must be denied.)

See: The Islamisation of Malaysia
By Elizabeth Kendal, WEA RLC New & Analysis, 7 June 2007.

Bid to nullify conversion fails
Straits Times, 4 Aug 2010

In Kano, in secular, free Nigeria, the Hisbah (vice and virtue Islamic police) constantly clash with state police overconflicting issues of morality, including the sale of alcohol.

See: Nigeria: The Battle for Shari'ah Supremacy
by Elizabeth Kendal, for WEA RLC News & Analysis, 20 March 2009

Kano State’s Islamic Police Destroy 80,000 Bottles of Beer
The Nigerian Inquirer, 4 Aug 2010

Now they are entrenched in the constitution of secular, free Kenya, the kadhi Courts are destined to grow in administration and influence. They will be divisive, and a force for Islamic expansion. What will be the situation now for Christians who are apostates from Islam? If a man converts to Islam will he be permitted to take a second wife? What will be the fate of Christian children deemed Muslim by khadi courts on account of the conversion of their father?

The rod of repressive Islam might not touch the flesh of Dr David Gitari, but it will certainly strike any Kenyan Muslim who puts their faith in Jesus Christ, and any Kenyan Christian caught up in the web of Islamic family law.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

IRAN: PERSECUTION SURGES

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 067 | Wed 04 Aug 2010

------------------------
IRAN: PERSECUTION SURGES
------------------------

Biblical revelation preaches freedom in love. Islam -- like all man-made religions -- demands submission to law. While the God of the Bible demands perfection in love, he freely provides a remedy for sin -- Jesus Christ -- and the Holy Spirit as helper. This is indeed Good News! On the other hand, while Islam demands submission to law, it provides no remedy for sin and so can only culminate in failure. Meanwhile, the dictators of Islam employ religious forces -- Revolutionary Guards, Basij, muttawa, hisba, taliban and others -- to police 'vice and virtue'. To protect their own privilege and hegemony they deny Islam's failure and deflect scrutiny from Islam by blaming the victims. Driven by apostaphobia, they strive to eliminate fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to doubt Islam). Sunni reformation (as in Saudi Arabia) and Shi'ite revolution (as in Iran) have only produced repressive, totalitarian police states wracked with poverty, cruelty, despair and disillusionment.

In Iran the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was set up to defend Islam. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was established to eliminate all opposition and dissent which they virtually did through purges, terrors and serial killings. When President Khatami (1997-2004) pressed for reforms in the style of 'glasnost' (openness) and 'perestroika' (restructuring) , Ayatollah Khamenei engineered his removal. Through the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since 2005, the hegemony of the blood-stained IRGC and MOIS
hardliners of the 1980s-90s has been restored. The regime has just announced a massive boost in funding for the Basij (state-sponsored Islamic vigilantes) and will establish 7000 new Resistance Bases across Iran. All this is unsurprising, for whilst Christianity requires radical, personal, spiritual transformation, Islam merely demands the enforcement of Islamic law.

Persecution of the Church escalated through 2009, aided because the US no longer has leverage -- due to Iraq, the US now needs Iran more than Iran needs the US. As noted in RLPB 041 (3 Feb 2010), the regime is escalating repression to curtail unrest due to widespread social dissatisfaction and economic distress. A wave of persecution hit the Church in late December 2009 and early January 2010 when many Christians were harassed, interrogated, threatened and arrested. Whilst most have been released on bond, some remain incarcerated and others have been added to their number.

Pastor Behrouz (Marco) Khanjani was arrested on 11 January when he responded to a request from the authorities to come in for questioning in Chiraz. He was bailed on 17 March only to be re-arrested on 16 June. His wife, Fatemeh (Marie) Torkkajouri, was arrested the next day and placed in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. After informing Pastor Behrouz of his wife's fate, the authorities reportedly incarcerated him in 'Plate 100', a dungeon of the intelligence services in Chiraz. Their daughter Esperance is in the care of Muslim family members.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was arrested in Rasht on 13 October 2009 for protesting the regime's plans to force Islamic education on all children in violation of the constitution. He has reportedly been sentenced to death. Furthermore Pastor Yousef's wife, Fatemeh (Tina) Passandideh, was arrested on 8 June 2010 and is in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. The authorities have threatened to put the couple's children, Yoel and Daniel, in an Islamic institution.

A group of 15 new believers were travelling by bus to the provincial town of Bojnoord on 18 July 2010. Security forces were informed and ambushed and arrested them in the city of Mashhad. After a week of harsh interrogation, believers who signed 'confessions' were freed on conditions including due payment of all bail. Mr Reza (48, also known as Stephen) and Mr Ehsan Behrooz (23) refused to co-operate and so remain incarcerated in the 901st branch of the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL:

* fill Iranian believers with courage and faith to face persecution in a way that brings glory to God.

* fill persecuted Iranian believers with the inner peace and joy that comes from trusting the LORD, from assurance of salvation, and from the experience of God as 'sanctuary' (Isaiah 8:14a).

* give all Iranian Christians -- especially pastors -- great spiritual wisdom to be 'wise as serpents and innocent as doves' (Matthew 10:16 ESV).

* awaken multitudes of Iranian Muslims to the deficiencies of Islam (and not just Iranian economics and foreign policy) and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

* enlighten especially the Muslim relatives, friends and neighbours of Iran's persecuted Christians that they may be so shocked and challenged by Islamic injustice, and so surprised and moved by Christian grace, that they will seek love over law and find truth in Jesus Christ.

IRAN: Islamic police state escalates repression and persecution

Biblical revelation preaches freedom in love. Islam (like all man-made religions) demands submission to law. While the God of the Bible demands perfection in love he freely provides a remedy for sin -- Jesus Christ -- and the Holy Spirit as helper. This is indeed Good News! On the other hand, while Islam demands submission to law it provides no remedy for sin, and so can only culminate in failure.

Meanwhile, the dictators of Islam employ religious forces -- Revolutionary Guards, Basij, muttawa, hisba, taliban etc -- to police 'vice and virtue'. To protect their own privilege and hegemony they deny Islam's failure and deflect scrutiny from Islam by blaming the victims. Driven by apostaphobia, they wage war against fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to doubt Islam).

Sunni reformation (as in Saudi Arabia) and Shi'ite revolution (as in Iran) have only produced repressive, totalitarian police states wracked with poverty, cruelty, despair and disillusionment.

In Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) was established for the defence of Islam, while the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was established to eliminate all opposition and dissent -- which they virtually did, through purges, terrors and serial killings.

When President Khatami (1997-2004) pressed for reforms after the manner of 'glasnost' (openness) and 'perestroika' (restructuring), Ayatollah Khamenei engineered his removal. Through the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005 - ), the hegemony of the blood-stained IRGC and MOIS hardliners of the 1980s-90s has been restored.
See:
Iran: The Islamic Revolution is complete.
WEA RL News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal 29 Aug 2005
Iran: Old Guards Return.
WEA RL News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal 14 Dec 2005

The regime has just announced a massive boost in funding for the Basij (state sponsored Islamic vigilantes) to enable more recruitment and to establish 7000 new Resistance Bases across the state.
See:
Exclusive: Millions allocated to recruiting Bassij militia
Iran Focus, Tehran, 29 may 2010

Commander: IRGC, Basij Forces Ready to Defend Islamic Revolution
Fars News Agency, Tehran, 22 July 2010

Basij Forces Plan 7,000 New Bases
By Arash Aramesh, for InsideIran.org, 29 July 2010

Iran militia murder baker for calling Supreme Leader a dog
Iran Focus, Isfahan, Monday 2 Aug 2010

PERSECUTION

Persecution of the church escalated through 2009, aided by the fact that on account of Iraq, the US now needs Iran more than Iran needs the US -- leaving the US without leverage.

As noted in RLPB 041 (3 Feb 2010), the regime is escalating repression in order to curtail unrest emanating from widespread social dissatisfaction and economic distress. A wave of persecution hit the church in late Dec 2009 and early Jan 2010, during which time numerous Christians were harassed, interrogated, threatened and arrested. While most have been released on bond, some remain incarcerated and others have been added to their number.

Pastor Behrouz (Marco) Khanjani, who was arrested in Chiraz on 11 January after responding to a request from the authorities that he present himself for questioning, was bailed on 17 March only to be rearrested on 16 June. His wife, Fatemeh (Marie) Torkkajouri, was arrested the following day and placed in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. After informing Pastor Behrouz of his wife's fate, the authorities reportedly incarcerated him in 'Plate 100', a dungeon of the intelligent services in Chiraz. Their daughter Esperance is in the care of Muslim family members. Fatemeh was released on bail of $20,000 on 22 July.
See:
Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani and His Wife Held Incommunicado.
Human Rights House of Iran (RAHANA) 13 July 2010

Christian Citizen Fatemeh Tork-kajouir released on bail
RAHANA 23 July 2010

Meanwhile, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was arrested in Rasht on 13 October 2009 for protesting the regime's plans to force Islamic education on all children in violation of the constitution, has reportedly been sentenced to death. Furthermore, on 8 June 2010, Pastor Yousef's wife, Fatemeh (Tina) Passandideh, was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. The authorities have threatened to remove the couple's two children, Yoel and Daniel, to an Islamic institution.

On 18 July 2010, a group of 15 new believers travelling together by bus to the provincial town of Bojnoord were ambushed by informed security forces and arrested in the city of Mashhad. After one week of harsh interrogations, believers who signed 'confessions' were freed on conditions including that bail payment would be forthcoming. Mr Reza (48, also known as Stephen) and Mr Ehsan Behrooz (23) refused to cooperate. They have been incarcerated in the 901st branch of the Revolutionary court in Mashhad.
See:
IRAN- The Mass Arrest of New Christian Converts in Mashhad
Farsi Christian News Network, 2 Aug 2010

For prayer bulletin and preayer suggestion see:
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin 067 (5 Aug 2010).