Voice of the Martyrs - January 8, 2010
1. Seven people killed in Egypt
At least seven people were killed in the town of Nag Hamadi in Quena province, Egypt on January 6 when gunmen opened fire on churchgoers exiting a Christmas Eve midnight mass service. Christian Copts in Egypt observe Christmas on January 7. At least nine people were also injured in the attack, three of whom are in critical condition. The shooting was reportedly in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man, which sparked violence in November (see www.persecution.net/eg-2009-11-25.htm). The lead shooter has allegedly been identified but at last report had not been arrested. (Sources: AP, AFP)
Pray for peace and stability in this area. Pray that Christians will respond to this violence with Christ-like love. Ask God to comfort those mourning the loss of loved ones. Pray for healing for those injured.
For more on Egypt's suffering Christians, go to www.persecution.net/egypt.htm.
2. Christians shot, kidnapped in Mosul, Iraq
Christians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have continued to face attacks in recent weeks. On December 24, Basil Isho Youhanna was shot and killed in front of his house in the northern neighbourhood of Tahrir. On December 28, a university student, Sarah Edmond Youhanna, was kidnapped from The University of Mosul. The kidnappers have since telephoned Sarah's family and stated they are members of an Islamic group. Two days later, on December 30, a deacon, Zhaki Homo Bashir, was seriously injured when unknown assailants shot him in his shop in the district of al Jadida. (Source: AsiaNews)
Pray for the loved ones of Basil as they grieve. Pray for a complete recovery for Zhaki. Ask God to protect Sarah and bring her home safely. Pray that authorities will provide protection for Christians and other minorities in the country.
Learn more about the persecution Christians face in Iraq at www.persecution.net/iraq.htm.
3. Christian family attacked by Muslims in Pakistan
A Muslim mob brutally attacked a Christian man, who suffers from schizophrenia, and his family on December 28 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Shumail Aleem (32) was accused of blasphemy when he commented to another Christian at a nearby general store that movie channels weren't being shown on the shop's television because Muslims were observing Yom-e-Ashura. On Yom-e-Ashura, Shiite Muslims mourn the death of Muhammad's grandson while Sunni Muslims believe Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for freeing the Israelites from Egypt. Even though Shumail's comment apparently supported the shopkeeper's reasoning to not show a film that day, the shopkeeper, Naveed, began to beat Shumail and demanded to know why he had profaned Muhammad's grandson's name.
Later that day, when the family returned home, they found some of their possessions thrown around the house. They were told by a neighbour that approximately two dozen men and some police had come searching for Shumail because Naveed had accused him of blasphemy. When Shumail's father, Mansoor, later tried to bring his son to the police station to clear up the allegations, they were attacked by more than a dozen Muslims. More than a hundred enraged Muslims eventually gathered at the scene. Shumail's sister, Elishba (20), tried to defend them and was struck on the head with an iron rod. After she fell unconscious, the assailants continued to beat her and broke one of her legs. The Muslims also injured Mansoor's wife, sister-in-law, and another of his sons, Shazir. Shazir's wife was also beaten and her infant daughter was snatched out of her arms and thrown on the ground. The infant was not seriously injured. Elishba received medical treatment and eventually regained consciousness, but was struggling with intense pain at last report. Members of the mob reportedly paid off medical staff to withhold Elishba's medical information and bribed officers to pressure the family to drop the case in exchange for an out-of-court settlement. (Source: Compass Direct)
Pray for healing for those injured in this attack. Pray that authorities will act justly and with integrity in this case. Ask God to protect this family and other Christians in their community.
To find out more about the persecution Christians face in Pakistan, please visit www.persecution.net/pakistan.htm.
4. Iranian Christian arrested, sentenced to house arrest
On the morning of December 16, several Iranian security officials forcibly entered the home of Hamideh Najafi in the city of Mashhad and seized her personal belongings, including books, CDs and hand painted portraits of Jesus Christ. Hamideh was then arrested and detained. Authorities interrogated her about the names of other Christian evangelists in Iran. They also demanded that she deny her faith and return to Islam. When she resisted them, her husband was summoned to the detention centre where they blindfolded him and told Hamideh he would be beaten unless she signed a confession saying that she was mentally and psychologically disturbed. Hamidesh reportedly succumbed to pressure and gave this confession. Officials then set up a court date on December 30. She appeared only briefly, without the services of a lawyer. Although there were no formal charges placed against her, she was sentenced to three months of house arrest and has been accused of committing a "political" crime for contacting a foreign Christian television network.
While Hamideh was detained, the couple's 10-year-old daughter, Hadi, was held under supervision of the welfare office. Following the court verdict, Hadi was ordered to be transferred to foster parents due to her mother's alleged mental condition. However, as Hadi is suffering from a kidney and bladder infection, she was conditionally left in her mother's care. Officials have told the couple that if they insist on their Christian beliefs and speak publicly about their faith, Hadi will immediately be taken away from them and transferred to the custody of the welfare office. (Source: Farsi Christian News Network)
Pray for strength for Hamideh during her time of house arrest. Ask God to protect her and her family and embolden them to proclaim His name amid great pressure. Pray that Hadi will recover from her infection and that she will be able to remain with her parents.
For more information on the persecution of Iranian Christians, go to www.persecution.net/iran.htm.
5. Muslims block Christmas service in Algeria
Approximately 50 Muslims blocked a congregation of converts from Islam from holding a Christmas service in the city of Tizi-Ouzou, northern Algeria on December 26. Members of the Tafat Church were gathering for the meeting when they were confronted by protestors who barred the church building's doors. "This land is the land of Islam! Go pray somewhere else," some of the protestors allegedly said. The pastor was also threatened with death. The protestors stayed outside the church until December 28. Some of them broke into the new building and stole microphones and speakers. The building's electricity was also cut off.
The believers, who used to meet together in a small rented building, have been gathering in a new building since November to accommodate nearly 350 congregants. A few weeks before the Christmas service attack, community residents signed a petition saying they did not want the church to operate near their homes and wanted it to close. Local authorities presented the petition to the church, which is legally authorized to exist under the Protestant Church of Algeria, but the believers reportedly do not plan to respond to the document. (Source: Compass Direct)
Pray that these Christians will remain committed to their faith. Pray that freedom of religion will be upheld by Algerian officials. Pray that the ministry of churches in Algeria will continue and that the Gospel will be preached throughout the nation. You can post a prayer for these Christians on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall at www.persecution.net/prayerwall.
For more on the suffering of believers in Algeria, go to www.persecution.net/algeria.htm.
6. Update: Vietnamese priest sent back to prison
Father Nguyen Van Ly (63), who suffered a severe stroke on November 14 (see www.persecution.net/vn-2009-11-18.htm for more), was sent back to a Vietnamese prison on December 12 after several weeks of treatment in a hospital. According to Father Van Ly's sister, "His situation is a bit better now, but his life is not normal yet. We don't know why they decided to transfer him back to prison, as he still needs help." At last report, he was half-paralyzed on the right side of his body and was only able to walk a few steps with a walking stick. (Source: AFP)
Pray for continued healing for Father Van Ly in prison. Pray that he will be released from detention. Ask God to give him the strength in his weakened condition to continue showing Christ's love to others.
Learn more about the plight of Vietnamese Christians at www.persecution.net/vietnam.htm.
7. Update: Christian released on bail in Pakistan
Naveed Masih, a believer who was arrested and tortured by officials following an Islamic attack on Christians in Gojra, Pakistan in August 2009 (see www.persecution.net/pk-2009-10-28.htm), has been granted bail. Although Naveed (32) and his brother, Nauman (25), were arrested in early September for "rioting with deadly weapons and spreading terror with firing," Naveed has since been accused of killing one of the Muslim assailants. This accusation arose after one of the Muslims accused of participating in the attack tried to make a deal with him. When Naveed refused to accept money in exchange for withdrawing his testimony as a key witness, the Muslim implicated him in counter-charges. The Lahore High Courted granted Naveed bail on December 23. The brothers earlier requested bail in October, but only Nauman was released. (Source: Compass Direct)
Thank the Lord that Naveed has been granted bail. Pray for his safety, as he is fearful for his life. Pray that the charges against Naveed and Nauman will be dropped. You can post a prayer of thanksgiving for Naveed's release on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall at www.persecution.net/prayerwall.
To learn more about the suffering of Christians in Pakistan, go to www.persecution.net/pakistan.htm.