Wednesday, October 27, 2010

079. October Update; Incl. Egypt, Nigeria

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 079 | Wed 27 Oct 2010

So now, O LORD our God, save us from [their hands], that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD. (Hezekiah's prayer -- Isaiah 37:20 ESV.)

OCTOBER 2010 UPDATE -- During October we prayed concerning . . .

ALGERIA
, where the government appears to have traded religious liberty for 'peace' with Islamic militants. The persecution is targeting the less Arabised, less Islamised, mostly Berber, Kabylie region east of Algiers.

* UPDATE: On 5 October 2010, Christians Hocine Hocini (44) and Salem Fellak (34) were acquitted of the charge of violating Ramadan (RLPB 075). However, on 18 October the same court fined a 27-year-old Muslim man 100,000 dinars and sentenced him to two years in prison for 'breaching a precept of Islam' by violating Ramadan and eating during daylight hours. Nine others caught breaking the Ramadan fast will face court in Akbou on 8 November. As noted in RLPB 076, the trial of Pastor Yahou Mahmoud and three elders charged with 'practising non-Muslim worship without government authorisation' has been postponed to 28 November. False charges of 'swindling' still loom over Ali Arhab, the Algerian-born, France-based director of Channel North Africa (gospel satellite TV).

CENTRAL ASIA,
where the Church is suffering escalating persecution from local Muslims who reject Christianity as foreign and non-traditional as well as from authoritarian administrations that denounce Protestant Christianity as a threat to social cohesion and harmony.

* UPDATE: On 21 October Protestant Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev, who had been falsely accused of 'swindling' more than US $2.4 million from church members (despite Turkmenistan being one of the poorest countries in the world -- see RLPB 072) was convicted and jailed for four years. Forum 18 reports: 'Judge Agajan Akjaev of Mary Town Court in south-eastern Turkmenistan ruled that Nurliev will serve his sentence in the general regime labour camp in Seydi.' The court also ordered that Pastor Nurliev undergo forced treatment for an alleged drug addiction. As Forum 18 notes, reports indicate that prisoners at the Seydi camp are routinely 'treated' with psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs. An American diplomat who travelled from the capital, Ashgabat, to Mary to observe the trial was refused entry. As noted in RLPB 072, the religious liberty situation in Turkmenistan has deteriorated dramatically.


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

* EGYPT: SERIOUS INCITEMENT AGAINST COPTIC CHRISTIANS ESCALATES


Persecution is escalating against Egypt's Christians -- particularly the indigenous (non-Arab) Copts -- as the government implements Sharia provisions that prohibit Christians from testifying against Muslims, enabling radicalised Muslims to assault, rob and even kill Christians with impunity. In May 2010 Youssef Ibrahim (a New York Sun reporter) claimed President Mubarak had brokered a quid pro quo deal with the Muslim Brotherhood: they would accept dynastic succession of power to Mubarak's son, Gamal, in exchange for freedom to advance Sharia (Islamic law) as well as restore over the Copts the rules of dhimmitude (i.e. accept subjugation or face jihad).

On 15 September Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, former secretary-general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, raged against Egypt's minority Copts on Aljazeera TV, falsely accusing them of planning a coup against the Muslims. He claimed the Copts were importing weapons from Israel which were being stockpiled in churches. Equally ridiculous was his claim that Egypt's security forces are unable to gain access to churches and monasteries to investigate. At the same time, Islamic inciters are spreading rumours that the Coptic Church is kidnapping converts to Islam and whisking them away to desert monasteries where they are tortured back to Christianity -- the exact opposite of what actually happens. (Muslim converts to Christianity have been kidnapped and tortured to revert.) Muslims have staged at least ten mass demonstrations since September with calls to massacre the Copts. Muslim demonstrators burned an effigy of Coptic Pope Shenouda (86) on 8 October while chanting, 'Shenouda, just wait, we will dig your grave with our own hands.' As incitement escalates and genocidal violence looms, the government of President Hosni Mubarak remains totally silent. The situation is extremely dangerous. Please pray for God to intervene, drawing the Copts into prayerful dependence and then answering their prayers for the glory of his own holy name. (Isaiah 37:20.)

* NIGERIA: AL-QAEDA SUPPORTS BOKO HARAM EXPANSION


According to terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky (Strategic Policy 8, 2010), in-mid June 2010 Boko Haram ('the Nigerian Taliban') formalised its links with al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Bodansky also reported that AQIM is receiving aid and intelligence from Sudan and Iran 'who are operating jointly in the Sahel'. AQIM leader Abu Mousab Abdel Wadoud asserts that the international jihadist movement will assist Boko Haram with weapons and training to enable al-Qaeda to gain 'strategic depth' in sub-Saharan Africa and the solid foothold in Nigeria required for operations in West Africa.

Boko Haram jihadists attacked a federal prison in Bauchi in September 2010, freeing about 750 inmates, including numerous imprisoned sect members. A spate of attacks over recent weeks, targeting police officers, politicians and traditional leaders in the city of Maiduguri, has forced Nigerian security forces to escalate their efforts against Boko Haram. On Sunday 24 October, Boko Haram jihadists attacked the police station in the town of Bara in the northern state of Yobe. The AQIM link could lead to the emergence of 'spectacular terrorism' al-Qaeda-style -- such as suicide-bombings -- hitherto unknown in Nigeria. Boko Haram has been behind most outbreaks of mass violence against Christians in the north since 2004. Please pray for the Church in Nigeria as Boko Haram's new relationship with AQIM does not bode well.