Compass Direct News
AP Images/Gemunu Amarasinghe
Defying pouring rain and flooded streets, over two dozen people have gathered faithfully at the Putalisadak Church in the heart of capital city Kathmandu for the regular Thursday evening Bible study class, bringing a smile of satisfaction on the face of Pastor Dev Kumar Chetri.
The smile fades, however, when he talks about the problems that Nepal’s second-oldest church has faced due to government discrimination. Hundreds of other churches scattered through the former Hindu kingdom have faced the same problem.
AP Images/Slamet Riyadi
Suspected Islamists were behind the burning of three homes used as churches on Sumatra Island’s Riau Province this month, though a political motive may also have played a role, Christian leaders said.
Muslim mobs burned the meeting places of a Batak Karo Protestant Church (GBKP) congregation and a Pentecostal Church in Indonesia (GPDI) group on Aug. 1, and that of a Methodist Church of Indonesia on Aug. 2, all in Kuantan Singingi district.
Provincial GBKP leader Sahat Tarigan reportedly said about 100 people on motorcycles arrived at the home at 11 p.m. on Aug. 1, throwing stones, threatening church members with knives and ultimately pouring gasoline and setting it on fire. A number of church members were inside painting at the time of the attack, but there were no casualties, Tarigan told Radio 68H News Agency.
Iraqis inspect the site of a bombing in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday (Aug. 15). (AP Images/Emad Matti)
An insurgent blast left a church building in Kirkuk, Iraq, severely damaged on Monday in a second round of attacks against the city’s Christian community in two weeks.
The bombing of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram was the only attack against Christian targets amid a wave of violence that swept across Iraq yesterday, hitting 17 cities and claiming about 70 lives, according to The Associated Press.
An explosive device next to one of the church’s walls exploded at 1:20 a.m. on Monday. Photos showed the bricks of one of the side walls strewn across the church floor and furniture, and one of the metal doors twisted open.
A mayor in West Java who disregarded a Supreme Court ruling to reinstate the building permit of a church in Bogor has now dismissed a recommendation by the National Ombudsman Institute to do so.
Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto rejected the recommendation to reinstate the permit for the Indonesian Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Indonesia, or GKI) Yasmin Bogor Church last month, leaving the congregation to worship on a small strip of land as 15 to 20 Muslim demonstrators taunt them.
A 14-year-old girl in western Uganda is still unable to walk 10 months after her father tortured her for leaving Islam and putting her faith in Christ, according to area Christians.
Susan Ithungu of Isango village, Kasese district, has been hospitalized at Kagando Hospital since October 2010 after neighbors with police help rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released, sources said.
Susan and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist from Bwera Full Gospel Church spoke at Susan’s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation.
A Coptic Christian was killed and several others were injured in Upper Egypt after Muslims on Sunday attacked a predominantly Christian village following an argument between a Muslim and Christian.
The attack at Nazlet Faragallah village in Minya, 218 kilometers south of Cairo, lasted until Monday morning, Christians said. The attackers raided an unknown number of homes owned by Christian villagers and set eight on fire, area residents said.
The assailants killed Maher Nassif, 46, a civil servant and livestock farmer, when he tried to defend his home. The men burst into Nassif’s house, shot him in the head and slit his throat while his teenage son watched from under a bed where he was hiding, Christian villagers said. The men looted the home and stole Nassif’s livestock as his son escaped into the night, according to villagers who spoke with the boy.
In this photo taken July 26, Pakistani children fetch water in a camp where hundreds of people displaced by last years's flooding live. (AP Images/B.K. Bangash)
Many Christians living in the southern belt of Pakistan’s Punjab Province who lost their houses in last year’s floods remain homeless despite a plan by the Punjab government to allocate land to residents in the area, area Christians said.
Hameed Masih, a resident of Kot Addu in Muzaffargarh district, said the provincial government has not set a quota for granting of land to members of minority communities left homeless by the devastating floods that began in late July 2010.
The government has begun four plans in Kot Addu under which around 435 plots of five marlas (151 square yards) each were to be distributed among people who lost their property. Several people were allotted land last month, but so far no minority member has been given land, he said.
AP Images/Manish Swarup
Four months after a recent convert to Christianity from Islam in eastern India’s West Bengal state was stripped and beaten, about 50 Muslim extremists yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting held in her home, threatening to burn it down if she did not return to Islam, area Christians said.
The extremists warned Selina Bibi of Motijil village in Murshidabad district that if she did not return to Islam, then she must either leave the area or see her house burned down. At her baptism at Believers Church four kilometers from her home on March 29, a large crowd of Muslim extremists disrupted the service, said a pastor identified only as Bashir.
“I pleaded with them to let me at least finish the worship service before they attack us,” he told Compass.
In a rare move in Pakistan, a lower court in Punjab Province on Tuesday released on bail a young Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam.
The Magisterial Court of Chichawatni, Sahiwal district, granted bail to Babar Masih, who suffers from a psychiatric disorder that causes him to shout in fits of rage for as long as an hour without knowing what he is doing or saying. In the face of Islamic extremist threats, generally lower courts in Pakistan do not dare grant bail or acquit a Christian accused of blasphemy, leaving such decisions for higher court judges who enjoy greater security measures.
The complainant in the case, Zeeshan Arshad, states in the First Information Report (FIR) that Masih was “addressing the stars and calling names of Muslim sages and holy personages” when he made the alleged remarks blaspheming Islam. The FIR itself states that Masih never intended to hurt Arshad’s religious feelings, and that no sane person would draw the ire of area residents by talking in this way.
Hiba Abdelfadil Anglo, 16, has escaped from a gang of Muslims who kidnapped her last year, but it may be a long time before she recovers from the trauma.
As she told Compass how the kidnappers beat, raped and tried to force her to convert from Christianity to Islam, she broke into tears for nearly half an hour.
“They did many bad things to me,” she said, tears streaming down her eyes.
The damaged interior of the Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church after an early-morning car bomb attack in Kirkuk on Tuesday. (AP Images/Emad Matti)
A car blast outside a Syrian Catholic church in Kirkuk, Iraq, Tuesday morning left 13 wounded as police located and disarmed two more car bombs targeting churches in the city, according to area sources.
Online video images of the attack against the Holy Family Church showed one of its walls blasted open and all its surfaces covered with broken glass, rubble and dust from the entrance where the explosion took place to the sanctuary on the far end of the building. The explosion occurred on the second day of the month-long Muslim fasting period of Ramadan.
Nearby houses in one of Kirkuk’s oldest quarters, where Muslims and Christians had lived together peacefully, were seriously damaged, and cars on the street were left in twisted piles of metal. Shattered glass wounded 13 residents as they slept, area sources said.
Women voters on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania,
on Oct. 31. (AP Images/Ali Sultan)
Authorities of predominantly Islamic Zanzibar island chain decline to act. Influential Muslims on this East African island have begun building what appears to be a hotel on a 100-year-old burial site owned by an Anglican church, Christian leaders said.
Church leaders with ownership papers for the land told Compass they are disturbed that authorities have taken no action since they filed a police complaint in December about the seizure of the burial site three kilometers (nearly two miles) from Zanzibar city’s airport. Tanzania’s Zanzibar Archipelago, including the largest island of Zanzibar (officially known as Unguja), is 99.9 percent Muslim.
“We see that the government is partisan and would not like to see the church grow in Zanzibar,” the Rev. Canon Emmanuel John Masoud told Compass. “The retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadani, who is a member of the Anglican church, was appointed to be a link between the church and the government to facilitate the negotiation process, but it seems that nothing is bearing fruits. Hence the church is not supported in any way.”
A pastor in Iran found guilty of leaving Islam awaits the outcome of a judicial investigation into his spiritual background to see if he will be executed or, if possible, forced to become a Muslim, according to Christian groups with ties in Iran.
The court-ordered investigation will take place this fall to determine whether Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, 34, was a Muslim as a teenager before he became a Christian at 19.
On Sept. 22, a regional court sentenced Nadarkhani, who leads a 400-strong house church movement in Rasht, to death by hanging for “convert(ing) to Christianity” and “encourag(ing) other Muslims to convert to Christianity.” Nadarkhani’s lawyer appealed the verdict to the Iranian Supreme Court, in part because the pastor said he had never actually been a Muslim and therefore could not be found guilty of abandoning the religion.
Authorities in a village in northern Laos have ordered all Christian residents to cease meeting for worship in private homes following the arrest of four Christians on July 10, rights advocates said.
Also on July 10, police arrested a Christian in Luang Prabang Province, ordering him to abandon his faith or face imprisonment, according to a statement from the advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom.
In Luang Namtha Province, Pastor Seng Aroun of Kon church in Namtha district, and three other Christians from Sounya village church identified only as Souchiad, Naikwang and Kofa had met at Kofa’s house for Sunday worship on July 10, HRWLRF reported. Kofa had also asked them for advice regarding a vehicle accident in May in which he had unwittingly caused the death of another person.
Three Muslims convicted of killing a Christian in Pakistan’s Punjab Province for refusing to convert to Islam last year have been given life sentences, according to attorneys for the European Centre for Law and Justice in Pakistan.
The Sessions Court in Mian Channu on July 7 convicted Ghulam Rasool, Amjad Iqbal and Kashir Saleem of torturing and killing Rasheed Masih on March 9, 2010, and sentenced them to life in prison, which in Pakistan is 25 years. The court also ordered each convict to pay 100,000 rupees ($1,153) to Masih’s family. A fourth suspect, Muhammad Asif, was acquitted.