Showing posts with label martyrs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label martyrs. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spiegel: "Christianity's Modern Day Martyrs" 26 Feb 2010

Germany's SPIEGEL online international has just published an excellent article on Christian persecution , specifically on Christians as the victims of radical Islam.

Christianity's Modern-Day Martyrs

"The rise of Islamic extremism is putting increasing pressure on Christians in Muslim countries, who are the victims of murder, violence and discrimination. Christians are now considered the most persecuted religious group around the world."

* Part 1: Christianity's Modern-Day Martyrs
* Part 2: 'Creeping Genocide' against Christians
* Part 3: 'We Don't Feel Safe Here'


includes a map, and a photo gallery entitled "Dying for Their Faith" (nine photos)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SAUDI CHRISTIAN BLOGGER ARRESTED

Date: Tuesday 27 January 2009
Subj: Saudi Arabia: Christian Blogger Arrested
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

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SAUDI CHRISTIANITY AND THE CULTURE OF NO LIBERTY IN THE LAND OF NO DIFFERENCE.
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SAUDI CHRISTIAN BLOGGER ARRESTED

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reports that on 13 January 2009, Saudi police arrested Hamoud Bin Saleh and blocked access to his blog -- "Masihi Saudi - http://christforsaudi.blogspot.com " -- because of his opinions and his testimony that he had converted from Islam to Christianity. According to ANHRI, Hamoud Bin Saleh is incarcerated in the infamous Eleisha political prison in Riyadh. (Link 1)

ANHRI reports: "The 28-year-old alumni of the al Yarmouk University in Jordan has been arrested twice before; for nine months in 2004 and last November [2008]." On that occasion (November 2008) Saudi authorities released Hamoud prior to the Saudi-sponsored, UN-run "Culture of Peace" conference that was held in the UN Headquarters in New York on 12-13 November 2008. King Abdullah did not want to put his public relations coup at risk, and clearly it would have been inappropriate for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to stand up and lament mankind's "preoccupation with differences between the followers of religions" (see link 2) while his religious police were abusing a young Saudi intellectual detained purely for his different religion. However once the Saudi-sponsored "Culture of Peace" conference had passed, Hamoud Bin Saleh was re-arrested for professing a different religion.

ANHRI holds great fears for Hamoud's life, concerned that the Saudi authorities might seize the opportunity to make an example of him while the world's eyes are fixed on the situation in Gaza.

As ANHRI notes: "The young man committed no crime and the only thing he has done is exercising his normal right to express his opinions and beliefs, which must not be violated under whatever pretext.

"ANHRI condemns Saleh's arrest and holds the Saudi government fully responsible for his safety. It also demands his immediate release and calls on the Saudi government to meet its commitments and the Saudi king's statements about the respect of freedom of expression and religious tolerance."

THE REALITY OF SAUDI BLOGGING

On 10 December 2007, Fouad Ahmad al-Farhan (32) became the first Saudi to be arrested in Saudi Arabia over the content of a blog. US-educated Farhan, an Information Technology (IT) specialist who is married with two children, was arrested in Jeddah after using his blog to criticise the Interior Ministry Spokesman.

Al- Farhan was a very popular blogger who exposed corruption and appealed for political reform. A huge campaign was subsequently launched calling for his release. Al-Farhan was release on 26 April 2008 after being interrogated and held in solitary confinement for over four months. He was unique amongst Saudi bloggers in that he refused to seek refuge in anonymity and blogged openly under his real name.

According to a January 2008 article in the Washington Post: "Blogging has been on the rise in Saudi Arabia recently, allowing people to 'speak up' in a society where the media is censored and where political parties and public gatherings are banned. There are an estimated 600 bloggers in the kingdom, male and female, conservative and liberal, writing in English and Arabic." (Link 3)

THE REALITY OF SAUDI CHRISTIANITY


On 20 August 2008, the WEA Religious Liberty Prayer (RLP) ministry issued a prayer bulletin (RLP No. 492) entitled: "Saudi Arabia: shaken by apostasy and dissidence." (Link 4)

The case at the centre of the prayer bulletin was that of a young Saudi woman, Fatima Al-Mutairi (26), who revealed in her blog that she had converted to Christianity. When her brother (or father: reports vary), an officer with the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, learned of her conversion, he reportedly cut out her tongue and burned her to death.

Gulf News reported: "The death of the girl sent shockwaves and websites where the victim used to write with various nicknames have allocated special space to mourn her, while some others closed temporarily in protest." (Link 5)

The RLP bulletin highlighted the tensions that are rising in totalitarian Islamic states where Islam is traditionally protected from "blasphemy" (criticism) and "apostasy" (rejection). Today globalisation and advances in information and communication technologies are providing avenues through which differing opinions and ideas infiltrate once closed, totalitarian societies. After discovering diversity, curious and enquiring minds then discover what it means to be living in a culture of no liberty in a land of no difference.

Shortly before her martyrdom, Fatima Al-Mutairi wrote and posted to her blog a poem she entitled "And we for the sake of Christ all things bear". The Barnabas Fund published an English translation of this poem on page 12 of its January-February 2009 newsletter (also available online: link 6).

In her poem Fatima's professes her love for Jesus Christ, and for her homeland, Saudi Arabia -- a love so strong she stands ready to die for both. She laments the cruel persecution while professing no fear and a commitment to remain "unto death a Christian".

She concludes her poem with this prayer:

"As to my last words, I pray to the Lord of the worlds
Jesus the Messiah, the Light of Clear Guidance

That He change notions, and set scales of justice aright

And that he spread Love among you, O Muslims."


Saudi authorities have long repressed and persecuted the kingdom's Christian expatriate workers, and forbidden Bibles, crosses and Christian literature from entering the country, believing that they can keep Christianity out of the Saudi population. But all the effort has been for naught, for Christianity has sprung up in its midst anyway.

"I am a Saudi and a Christian," said Fatima Al-Mutairi (26) before she was martyred.

"I am a Saudi and a Christian," said Hamoud Bin Saleh (28) before he was arrested.


Saudi authorities have no right to promote themselves as beacons of peace and religious tolerance until Saudi Christianity is recognised and Saudis themselves have religious liberty.

By Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) KSA arrests blogger, blocks his blog. His life at risk as he embraced Christianity.
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Cairo, 14 Jan 2009 (note: site mistakenly says 2008)
http://anhri.net/en/reports/2009/pr0114.shtml
ALSO
Blogger arrested after posting opinions, announcing his conversion to Christianity
PaĆ­s/Tema: Saudi Arabia
Fecha: 15 de enero de 2009
Fuente: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Persona: Hamoud Bin Saleh
http://www.ifex.org/es/content/view/full/99886/

2) King Abdullah address at the UN Peace through Dialogue meeting
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz address to the High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Peace Through Dialogue, New York, November 12, 2008
http://www.saudiembassy.net/2008News/Statements/SpeechDetail.asp?cIndex=732

3) Dissident Saudi Blogger Is Arrested. 1 January 2008
By Faiza Saleh Ambah, Washington Post Foreign Service
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/31/AR2007123101915.html
ALSO: Blogger who dared to expose Saudi corruption is arrested
By Claire Soares, 3 January 2008
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/blogger-who-dared-to-expose-saudi-corruption-is-arrested-767807.html
ALSO: Saudi official: why popular blogger Farhan was jailed.
(Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Mansour Al Turki told the Christian Science Monitor that Fouad Farhan had been jailed for violating his (Al-Turki's) rights by criticizing and offending him.)
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0428/p07s02-wome.html

4) WEA Religious Liberty Prayer bulletin No. 492, 20 Aug 2008
Saudi Arabia: shaken by apostasy and dissidence.

5) Saudi man kills daughter for converting to Christianity
By Mariam Al Hakeem, 12 August 2008.
http://www.gulfnews.com/News/Gulf/saudi_arabia/10236558.html

6) Barnabas Fund January/February 2009 newsletter
https://barnabasfund.org/pdfdocs/BFAIDJ-F09.pdf

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Turkey: German Seminary investigates Malatya murders

Date: Tuesday 1 May 2007
Subj: Turkey: German Seminary investigates Malatya murders
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


The following report from Martin Bucer Seminary (MBS) Bonn, Germany, was compiled by Titus Vogt, MBS Dean of International Programs. The English translation was done by Thomas K. Johnson, Ph.D., MBS Professor of Apologetics and Ethics.

Elizabeth Kendal WEA RLC

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THE LAST HOURS OF THE THREE MARTYRS:
Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel, and Tilmann Geske


The assassins deceived the victims in order to gain their trust.

Martin Bucer Seminary (Bonn, Germany) reconstructs the last hours of its student, Necati Aydin.

Martin Bucer Seminary (MBS) Dean for International Programs, Titus Vogt, led an investigation into the tragic events of 18 April 2007 by means of putting together the statements from all the witnesses. MBS remains close to the victims, survivors, and witnesses to the brutal murder in Malatya through its Turkish branch, as one of the victims, Necati Aydin, was their student. Until now, MBS has hesitated to give all the details to the public, but MBS President Thomas Schirrmacher has concluded now that nothing stands in the way of a full public statement of all the details.

MURDERERS SPENT MONTHS SURREPTITIOUSLY GAINING THE TRUST OF THE VICTIMS

Some months ago the murderers gained the trust of their intended victims. To do this, the assassins indicated an interest in the Christian faith and said they wanted more information about the Bible and its contents. What deception could be more powerful to Bible publishers who were themselves adult converts from Islam to Christianity? Under this guise, they met repeatedly with their future victims. Clearly the attack was planned well in advance.

On the morning of 18 April, two of the murderers came to the office of Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, which is an extension of a Protestant publisher based in Istanbul, with distribution offices in various Turkish cities. Among other things, they discussed the Christian faith with Necati Aydin, as they had done frequently over the previous months. On this particular morning, in addition to Tilmann Geske, the bookkeeper, Emin M., was also in the office. Everything seemed to be completely normal. In the course of the morning, M. left the office, not suspecting that he would never see Aydin and Geske alive again.

Shortly thereafter the three other assassins arrived and tied up the first two victims, while they threatened them with pistols. Two days before, the assassins had been taken into custody because of wielding weapons in public, but they had been set free because they were only carrying warning pistols.

As soon as the victims were tied up, the murderers began stabbing them with knives all over their bodies. A short time later Ugur Yuksel came into the office; he was immediately grabbed by the murderers and tied up. Right after that Gokhan H., also a Christian, stopped by the Zirve office, but he could not open the door, because it was locked from inside and the lock was jammed. H. tried to call the office and finally reached Ugur on the telephone. Ugur said that the planned meeting was not going to be held in the Zirve office; it would instead be held in a particular hotel. H. had the impression that something was wrong, so he called a friend in the city. This friend advised him to call the police, which Gokham H. did.

When the police arrived a few minutes later, the victims were still alive. The police demanded that the criminals open the door, at which they slit the throats of the victims. When the police forced the door and stormed the office, they found Aydin and Geske already dead. Yuksel was still alive and was rushed to a local hospital. In spite of emergency surgery and 51 units of blood, he died of his numerous and massive knife wounds.

The autopsy reports lead to the following picture: The bodies were covered with about 156 knife wounds in the pelvis area, lower body, anus, abdomen, and back. Their fingertips had been sliced repeatedly; and they had massive slashes on their necks which severed the windpipe and oesophagus.

The distinctively ritual manner of the murder, particularly the slicing of fingertips, is convincing observers of the consciously religious motivation of the assassins. The perpetrators seem to have been following the instructions of Sure 8:12, from the Koran. There it says (in the Rudi Paret German translation of the Koran), "I will strike terror into the hearts of unbelievers. Flay their necks (with a sword) and strike every finger." The last half of the sentence is translated in even more striking terms in some versions. In the Rassoul and Zaidan translation it says, "chop off every finger;" the Azhar and Ahmadeyya translation says, "chop off every finger tip."

Three of the attackers were arrested directly in the office, where the attack was occurring; two tried to escape by climbing down an external downspout pipe. One more attacker was arrested in the second floor of the building, one floor below the crime scene. The final assassin, who is described by the others as the leader of the group, fell to the street from a significant height when the downspout pipe broke off from the wall of the building. He was brought to a hospital and spent some days in a coma, but he is now awake and is being questioned by police.

In the course of the next few days, some other suspects were taken into custody, including the son of a mayor (AKP party) from a town near to Malatya.

FIRST TURKISH MARTYRS SINCE 1923

At a press conference a day after the attack, Pastor Ihsan Ozbek (from Ankara), President of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, said "Yesterday Turkey was buried in the darkness of the Middle East." He compared the common, country-wide, widely hawked conspiracy theories which accuse Christians of conspiring against Muslims with the medieval witch hunts in Europe. These conspiracy theories contain a deep phobia of foreign missionaries. In responding to an inquiry of why Geske, a foreign missionary, was in Malatya, Ozbek said this is already an unconscionable question, since in a truly democratic state one may not ask "why are you or they in Malatya?" The pastor used very pointed words to portray the background of the murders which led the Turkish media to entitle a report on the news conference, "A gruesome brutality, but no surprise." Ozbek said he was convinced that, "it is not the last martyrdom, though we hope from the bottom of our hearts that it could be the last martyrdom."

Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel are the first known Muslim converts to Christianity to be martyred, since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Ugur Yuksel was buried according to Islamic/Alevitic rituals at the orders of his family which vehemently denies his Christian faith. The German victim was buried on 20 April in the Armenian cemetery in Malatya, following the wishes of his widow. This occurred after a bitter fight with the local authorities who unconditionally wanted to prevent Geske's burial in their city. Because of pressure applied by the German government, his burial was only delayed by three hours, from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eye witnesses say that about 100 mourners from across Turkey came to his funeral. Necati Aydin, who was pastor of the local Protestant church in addition to his work in the Zirve Publishing House, was laid to rest on Saturday, 21 April, in his home town of Izmir. The roughly 500 mourners who attended his funeral were very deeply moved.

MEDIA STORM IN TURKEY


There has been an enormous media storm in Turkey following these events. Many Turks sent letters to the newspapers to express their deep disgust. The widow, Susanne Geske, earned tremendous admiration for her words in a TV interview the day after the massacre. She said she forgave the murderers of her husband, the way Christ forgave his murderers, citing Jesus' prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." This is the reason why she wants to stay in Malatya with her children. Many letters to the newspapers are saying that now they really want to read the New Testament or even to describe themselves as Christians, since they no longer want to have anything to do with Islam.

This brutal attack is not really the act of a group of deluded youth, since the media has been provoking antagonism against Christians for a long time. One of the most harmless media lies is that Christian are paying Muslims to convert to Christianity; one of the more disturbing is that Christians offer prostitutes to Muslims, in order to entice them to become Christians. Two events related to the funeral of Necati Aydin serve to illustrate the deep ambivalence of Turkish society toward Christians. When his coffin was to be flown from Malatya to Izmir, it would not fit into the x-ray machine in airport security. The Turkish newspapers reported that the airport security staff simply broke the handles off the coffin, a sign of their feelings. And during his funeral, one of the police officers standing guard over the funeral called one of the mourners "a son of a whore."

Last Sunday (22 April 2007) the services of many Protestant churches took place under heavy police guard. In one small congregation in one of the parts of Istanbul, two top local police officials came to enquire about their security needs and to urgently suggest the installation of an alarm system and security cameras. And because of the continuing massive threats, many pastors are now accompanied by security guards. This causes great concern for believers in Turkey. In spite of truly positive developments in the realm of freedom of religion in recent years, they now see their freedom of religion as deeply threatened.

END

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Nigeria: Kano's Martyrs

Date: Tuesday 13 May 2003
Subj: Nigeria: Kano's Martyrs
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator


NIGERIA: KANO'S MARTYRS

The Nigerian elections are over. Olusegun Obasanjo's Popular Democratic Party (PDP) won the federal legislative elections held on 12 April 03, securing both houses of parliament. Olusegun Obasanjo won the Presidential poll on 19 April, polling 24.5 million ballots or sixty-two percent of the vote (with the required nation-wide spread), to pro-Sharia (Islamic Law) hardliner Muhammadu Buhari's 12.7 million or thirty-two percent, concentrated in the far north. Also on 19 April were the governorship elections, while the state legislative elections were held on 3 May.

The relative peacefulness of the election period amazed observers who had anticipated wide-scale election violence. Millions of Christians had prayed for peace - God deserves all the glory.

In Kano, Northern Nigeria, the election has however, caused a dramatic escalation of Islamist zeal, which may be responsible for the deaths of a Baptist pastor, his wife, three children and two relatives - burned to death in their home on 22 April. One other son escaped the flames and survived with serious injuries. (Link 1)

RELIGIOUS TENSIONS IN KANO

On 1 March 2000, Kano became the forth northern Nigerian state to adopt Sharia Law. On 21 June 2000, when Sharia was officially launched in Kano, hundreds of thousands of Kano Muslims celebrated, in possibly the largest crowds ever seen on Kano's streets.

At that time, Kano Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso said that although Sharia had been adopted, its actual implementation would not begin for several months whilst the necessary structures were put in place. However, Governor Kwankwaso never did get around to doing much about the implementation of Sharia, preferring to concentrate his efforts on rural development.

The adoption of Sharia did however raise Islamic sentiment and sensitivities in Kano, Nigeria's most populous northern state. The result has been regular violent attacks upon Christians, and the destruction and closure of churches, such that Kano has become one of the most hostile places for Christians in all of Nigeria.

ELECTIONS 2003

Kano was the only one of Nigeria's thirty-six states where an incumbent Popular Democratic Party (PDP) governor lost his governorship to an All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) challenger.

According to a report by Tajudeen Sulaiman in Kano, entitled "Upset in Kano", published in "The News", Lagos, "Kwankwaso's (PDP) administration had electrified and brought portable water to almost every village in the rural areas, and had instituted a welfare scheme whereby rural women received up to N5, 000 every month to run small scale business." (Called the "Women Empowerment Programme".)

Yet, although Governor Kwankwaso (PDP) had achieved much in terms of development, he had, according to his ANPP challenger Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau (who is second only to Buhari himself as an ANPP ideologue and flag-bearer) been "dishonest in the implementation of Sharia."

Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau campaigned for the governorship of Kano on a hardline, full-implementation of Sharia platform. During his campaign rallies in Kano city, chants of "Allahu Akbar" would rent the air. He had no money to fund his campaign, and he relied almost totally on the support of Islamic clerics and proponents of Sharia, particularly the Hisba Committee (Vanguards of Sharia Implementation in Kano) who campaigned for him.

Reporter Tajudeen Sulaiman goes on to say, "Buhari and his campaigners exploited the religious sentiments of ordinary Northern Muslims. Those campaigning for PDP and Obasanjo were labelled as non-believers who did not deserve the vote of 'good Muslims.' ANPP campaigners in Kano went about with megaphones calling on Muslims to see the gubernatorial elections as a jihad." (Link 2)

RESULTS AND RESPONSE

Kano voted overwhelmingly for the ANPP in Federal elections, for Buhari for President, for an ANPP pro-Sharia state governor (Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau) and for an ANPP dominated state parliament.

As the results of the federal parliamentary elections trickled out and it became ever clearer that the PDP would not only retain federal power but hold control both houses of federal parliament, tension rose amongst Buhari / ANPP supporters.

Buhari fuelled the flames with denouncements and a rejection of the results, declaring, "This would be the first election in which, through elaborate collusion, those who lost elections were declared winners and those who won lost," and highly inflammatory remarks about the "massive and state organized rape on democracy," and threats of "mass action." By the time the presidential polls were being held on 19 April, tensions were at boiling point in the ANPP / Buhari stronghold of Kano.

When the presidential and governorship results were announced on the evening of 21 April, Kano's Muslims came out onto the streets to celebrate Shekarau's win as Kano's new pro-Sharia governor. (Link3)

By 4:15am, the home of pastor Chikezie (Sunday) Madumere was alight. The Madumere home was located in an area of Kano city known as "no man's land." Obed Minchak, reporting for Compass Direct, described Pastor Madumere as "a zealous Christian preacher. known for his powerful preaching, which has led many Muslims in Kano to convert to the Christian faith."

The Compass Direct 7 May news release said, "Observers believe the conversions may have angered Muslim militants in the city and they decided to eliminate him.

"Police authorities say the fire may have been caused by an electrical fault. Christian leaders, however, have ruled out that theory, insisting that the pastor and his family were victims of
religious intolerance."

--------------------

With Buhari continuing his inflammatory rhetoric, rejecting the results and demanding re-elections threatening, "Otherwise there will be no government by 30 May," we should expect Kano to become increasingly unsettled and hostile.

Renowned Muslim cleric, Alhaji Surajudeen Asukuna, described Buhari's outbursts as "provocative, un-Islamic and capable of setting the country on fire...capable of truncating the nation's nascent democracy."

The "middle belt" of central Nigeria voted overwhelmingly for Obasanjo, because Buhari was seen as a lackey of a religious group; as a tribalist and a religious leader. Most Nigerians, Christians and Muslims alike, did not want that for Nigeria. But as discontent and anger escalates in "Buhariland" (the northern Sharia states) - Kano will certainly be the state to watch and pray over.

The Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN) has called for the establishment of a new Shariah implementation Committee in Kano State to expedite the full implementation of Sharia. (Link 4)

- Elizabeth Kendal

LINKS

1) Pastor, Six Others Die in Fire Outbreak
Daily Trust (Abuja) 23 April 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200304230568.html

2) "Upset in Kano" By Tajudeen Sulaiman in Kano
The News (Lagos) 5 May 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200305050343.html

3) "Nigeria's powerful new governors"
By Joseph Winter
BBC News Online, Abuja, 22 April 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2967881.stm

4) "SCSN Calls for New Shariah C'ttee"
By Jamilah Nuhu Musa
Daily Trust (Abuja) 30 April 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200304300688.html