Wednesday, March 24, 2010

048. March Update; Incl. India, Morocco, Pakistan.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 048 | Wed 24 Mar 2010

MARCH 2010 UPDATE -- During March we prayed concerning . . .

BURMA (Myanmar), where ethnic-religious minorities suffer Buddhist imperialism and horrific human rights abuses at the hands of the junta. (The largest ethnic minority, the Karen, are 40 percent Christian, while the Kachin and Chin are both around 90 percent Christian.) Tensions are escalating.


NIGERIA, where some 500 predominantly Christian ethnic Berom residents of Jos South were massacred by Hausa and Fulani Muslims in the early hours of Sunday 7 March.

* UPDATE: Early on Wednesday 17 March, ethnic Fulani Muslims laid siege to two more ethnic Berom villages in Jos South. Once again villagers were burned in their beds or shot and hacked to death as they fled. This second massacre left 12 dead. In a demonstration of extreme hatred, the mouths of some of the victims were mutilated. While the security forces were absent during the 7 March massacre, survivors of the 17 March massacre are claiming that several of the attackers were actually dressed in military fatigues. The ethnic-religious fault-line city of Jos is a tinderbox. (For more information see Religious Liberty Monitoring)


UZBEKISTAN, where a Baptist church member Tohar Haydarov (27) has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on what local Baptists and neighbours believe to be false drugs charges. Christians in Uzbekistan are experiencing escalating persecution. They are being heavily fined, removed from their posts and threatened with prison, accused of all manner of religious offences. Meanwhile, state-run media are busy inciting hatred of Protestant Christians.


MARCH 2010 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .

* INDIA: HATE AND VIOLENCE IN KARNATAKA

The Evangelical Fellowship of India reports that on 15 March police in India's southern state of Karnataka arrested Pastor M S Valsalan (55) of Bethesda Assembly of God Church after Hindutva (Hindu nationalists) elements lodged a complaint against him, accusing him of 'forceful conversions'. Paster Valsalan was detained in Mangalore's central jail. Further details concerning bail and a trial date are as yet unknown. Then on 17 March, Christians attending a funeral at St Thomas Church in Gijahalli were shocked when some 150 Hindu militants stormed the compound shouting, 'Jai Shri Ram [Victory to Lord Ram].' The militants then ripped the coffin apart and stole the body of the deceased Christian who had been a member of St Thomas Church for 50 years. They threw the body into a tractor and dumped it outside the village. The Hindu militants said they did not want the bodies of Christians contaminating their soil.

Jesus also bore reproach and suffered 'outside the gate' (Hebrews 13:11-14). He understands, so we can draw near to him, and find mercy, grace and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).


* MOROCCO: UNPRECEDENTED CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN CHRISTIANS

In an unprecedented move, Morocco -- formerly known for its religious tolerance -- has expelled up to 70 Christian aid workers they accuse of proselytising. Some of those deported had been working in Morocco for ten to twenty years with the acceptance of the authorities. This crackdown against Christians (or anyone for that matter) seen to be threatening the faith of Muslims could well be aimed at appeasing Islamic fundamentalists agitated by government reforms. (For more information see http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/ )


* PAKISTAN: VIOLENT HATE CRIMES AGAINST CHRISTIANS

(1) When a group of six Muslims in Khanewal district, southern Punjab Province, grew envious and resentful of local Christian Rasheed Masih (36) because his potato business was more successful than theirs, they first tried to convert him to Islam. Compass Direct reports that for six months the Muslims tried, with insults and threats, to get Rasheed Masih and his brother Munir Asi to become one of them. Eventually on 9 March, when it was clear the Christians would not convert, Rasool (a radical Muslim) in collusion with the other five lured Rasheed to his farmhouse under the pretence of wanting to purchase potatoes. Once there, Rasheed was ambushed and then tortured and struck repeatedly with an axe over several hours. When Asi and two other Christians came looking for him, the Muslims sped away with the fatally wounded Rasheed, who died before he could be found.

(2) Arshed Masih (38), his wife Martha and their three children aged 7-12 are a Christian family who have been living in the servant quarters of Sheikh Mohammad Sultan's estate in Rawalpindi since 2005. BosNewsLife reports that Arshed (a driver) and Martha (a maid) recently fell out of favour with their wealthy employer because they refuse to convert to Islam. When Arshad offered to resign, Sultan threatened to kill the family if they ever tried to leave. On Friday 19 March a group of Islamic fundamentalists (including local police) set fire to Arshed and raped Martha in front of their two younger children. Arshed has burns to 80 percent of his body and is not expected to survive.

Not so long ago Muslims would have used a false blasphemy charge to remove or punish Christians they resented. (In Pakistan, anyone accused of blaspheming Islam can be immediately imprisoned.) Increasingly now it is 'convert or die!' The situation in Pakistan is deteriorating rapidly.

'He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!' (Rev 22:20 ESV)