News from the Frontlines

Tuesday August 25, 2015

Christian in Egypt Kept in Prison on False Charge of 'Blasphemy,' Attorney Says

Second arrest in one month of a Christian for 'evangelism.'By Our Middle East Correspondent
ISTANBUL, Turkey, August 25, 2015 (Morning Star News) – An Egyptian Christian who was arrested earlier this month for alleged evangelizing of Muslims in suburban Cairo could be held indefinitely in prison on a false accusation of blasphemy, his lawyer said.
Medhat Ishak, a 35-year-old Christian from Ebid village in Minya Governorate, was arrested on Aug. 7 while handing out Bibles to Muslims outside El-Arab Mall in Sixth of October City. Mall security guards took Ishak into custody and then turned him over to national police, who accused him of evangelism.

The day after his arrest, a judge amended the charge against Ishak to “defamation of a revealed religion” and ordered him held for 15 days. On Monday (Aug. 24) the judge extended Ishak’s detention for another 15 days, said Ishak’s attorney, Rafik Rafaat. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Monday August 24, 2015

Syria: Destruction Of Monastery, Update On Abducted Christians

According to reports issued on 20th August, Daesh militants(so-called "Islamic State" or ISIS) proceeded to demolish the Syrian Catholic monastery of Saint Elian in al-Qaryatain, built on the site of the 1,500-year-old tomb of Saint Elian. Reports also claim that Daesh has moved more than 100 abductees to its heartland in Raqqa province, including Christians who have been forced either to convert to Islam or be subjugated under the 'jizya' tax. It remains unclear whether those moved to Raqqa include the priest Father Jacques Mourad and deacon Boutros Hanna, who were abducted in al-Qaryatain on 21st May.

Syrian Flag

In a separate development 22 elderly Assyrian Christians (14 women and 8 men) were released by Daesh on 11th August. These Christians were among the group of more than 230 Christians abducted from villages in al-Hassaka governorate on 23rd February. More than 180 of these abductees are understood to remain in captivity. Ransom demands have previously been made for the release of these abductees, though church sources deny that payments were made to Daesh for the 22 recently released.

Elsewhere, Father Antoine Boutros, a Greek Catholic priest of Saint Philip's church in Shahba in Suweida governorate, was released on 15th August following a month of captivity and after intervention by local dignitaries. Father Antoine and his driver Said al-Abdoun were abducted on 12th July as they travelled to a nearby village to celebrate mass. It is not yet confirmed whether Said has also been released. Nor is it known which group was responsible for their abduction.


Syrian Christians request prayer that:

a. all those who are still abducted will find refuge in God in their distress, and that He will strengthen and protect them

b. the abductors will treat their victims with compassion and set them free

c. the Christians among those abducted will be faithful witnesses to their captors and fellow captives

d. those who have recently been released will know the Lord's comfort, healing and provision

e. violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in Syria


News from the Frontlines

Monday August 24, 2015

Muslim Herdsmen Attacks in Nigeria's Middle Belt Show Jihadist Aims, Sources Say

In 2014 alone, 23,890 people displaced from Christian areas in southern Kaduna state, agency reports.By Our Nigeria Correspondent
KADUNA, Nigeria, August 24, 2015 (Morning Star News) – The killing of Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s middle belt, including two slayings on Saturday (Aug. 22) in Taraba state, is part of a jihadist drive to take over resources and displace the historically Christian population, sources said. [READ MORE]

The killing of brothers Ushahemba Kumashenge and Sughter Kumashenge in Kortse village, Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba state on Saturday was the latest of numerous attacks in the state and in Kaduna, Nasarawa and Benue states. Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed the brothers on their farm a few kilometers from the village, a church leader from the area told Morning Star News by telephone.

The Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN), said the slain Christians were members of the Universal Reformed Church (NKST). In the same state on Dec. 17, 2014, a throng of Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians, including an infant boy, and on Oct. 19, 2014 armed Muslim extremists killed 31 Christians in attacks on two Taraba villages.

News from the Frontlines

Thursday August 20, 2015

Freed Pastors Arrive Home from Sudan after Ordeal of False Charges, Travel Ban

NISS prevented them from leaving country.By Our Sudan Correspondent
JUBA, South Sudan, August 19, 2015 (Morning Star News) – Two South Sudanese pastors arrived home in Juba from Khartoum, Sudan today after an eight-month ordeal of imprisonment, fabricated charges of capital crimes and a ban on leaving the country.
The Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Yat Michael were acquitted of the crimes calling for the death penalty on Aug. 5 but were prevented from boarding a plane out of the country the next day. Sudan’s notorious National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) had ordered the travel ban when they were initially detained – Michael on Dec. 14 and Reith on Jan. 11 – and gave the orders to the airport personnel.

Attorneys for the two pastors have been working for their release since then, but it was not immediately clear why they were released today. Michael and Reith were transported from Juba International Airport to a church in Hai Jebel in Juba, where they attended a thanksgiving service.

“Thank God for their arrival home,” the wife of Michael told Morning Star News after the service. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Wednesday August 19, 2015

Muslim Relatives Attack Mother, Sons in Uganda for Turning to Christ

Husband who beat, strangled wife leaves her and son for dead.By Our East Africa Correspondent
NAIROBI, Kenya, August 14, 2015 (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in eastern Uganda beat and left for dead his wife and 18-year-old son on Tuesday (Aug. 11) after learning they had converted to Christianity, area sources said.
Issa Kasoono beat and strangled his wife, Jafalan Kadondi, in Nsinze village, Namutumba District, but she survived, said a source who requested anonymity for security reasons. He said other relatives joined Kasoono in beating her and their two sons, Ibrahim Kasoono, 18, and Ismael Feruza, 16, though the younger son managed to escape with only bruises on his arm.

All three were treated at a local clinic. Due to injuries from the strangling, Kadondi has lost her voice and has difficulty eating, according to the source and an area pastor. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Friday August 7, 2015

Sudan Bans Freed South Sudanese Pastors from Leaving Country

NISS said to be behind orders preventing them from boarding plane.By Our Sudan Correspondent
JUBA, South Sudan, August 7, 2015(Morning Star News) – Two South Sudanese pastors released on Wednesday (Aug. 5) after about eight months in jail have been banned from leaving the country, according to one of the attorneys who defended them against crimes calling for the death penalty.
The Rev. Peter Yein Reith and the Rev. Michael Yat were acquitted of the capital crimes but convicted of lesser charges, and they were released on the time they had served. The attorney clarified that Reith was convicted under Article 65 of “establishing or participating in a criminal organization” (not breaching the peace as previously reported), while Yat was convicted under Article 69 of “disturbing public peace” (not inciting hatred as previously reported).

The two pastors were preparing to board a plane with their families on Thursday (Aug. 6) when Khartoum International Airport authorities stopped them. The attorney said Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) ordered the ban when they were initially detained – Yat on Dec. 14 and Reith on Jan. 11 – and gave the orders to the airport personnel. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Thursday August 6, 2015

Two South Sudanese Pastors on Trial in Sudan Released; Serious Charges Dropped

Church leaders convicted of lesser counts.By Our Sudan Correspondent
JUBA, South Sudan, August 5, 2015 (Morning Star News) – Two South Sudanese pastors on trial for crimes calling for the death penalty were convicted on lesser counts today and released on time served, sources said.
The Rev. Yat Michael, 49, was convicted of “inciting hatred,” according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), for delivering a message of encouragement to a North Khartoum church in December 2014 in the face of a government-aided take-over of the congregation’s property. The Rev. Peter Yein Reith, 36, was convicted of “breaching public peace,” CSW reported, following his Jan. 11arrest for submitting a letter from leaders of their denomination, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC), inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

Michael had been arrested following his homily on Dec. 14. An international outcry erupted over their weeks-long incarceration without charges after Morning Star News on Dec. 28, 2014 broke the news of Michael’s arrest, and on Jan. 20 published the first account of Reith's arrest. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Thursday July 30, 2015

Police Complicit in Attack on Christians in West Delhi, India, Sources Say

Officers intervene only after Christians 'beaten enough,' pastor says.By Our New Delhi Correspondent
NEW DELHI, July 29, 2015 (Morning Star News) – After watching idly as a mob of Hindu extremists dragged Christians from a prayer meeting in West Delhi and beat them, police questioned those who were attacked as if they were guilty of fraudulent conversion, sources said.
A mob said to be members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stormed the prayer meeting in Nangloi, Nihal Vihar on July 18 and beat them, leaving one Christian with a damaged eardrum, they said. Police watched without intervening, and initially officers refused to register a case against the assailants, Christian leaders said.

Three pastors had gathered at the home of Ayaid Prasad to pray for his sick daughter when about 15 Hindu extremists accused them of forceful conversion as they barged in with clubs at about 4 p.m. They shouted at the Christians to stop the meeting and beat pastor Harchand Singh and two guest pastors from Kerala, Pastor Singh said. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Monday July 27, 2015

Attorneys for South Sudanese Pastors Facing Execution Make Final Appeal for Justice

Charges stem from 'political motives,' source says.By Our Sudan Correspondent
JUBA, South Sudan, July 24, 2015 (Morning Star News) – Attorneys for two South Sudanese pastors facing the death penalty made their closing arguments on Thursday(July 23) before a judge who appears to favor the prosecution, sources said.
Defense lawyers concluded their case at Khartoum Bahri Court with the assertion that agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) illegally arrested the Rev. Yat Michael on Dec. 14, 2014 and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith on Jan. 11.

“Justice requires that you don’t judge [arrest] simply because you doubt [suspect] them without any concrete evidence,” one lawyer said. [READ MORE]

News from the Frontlines

Monday July 27, 2015

Christian Family Awaits Word on Copt Kidnapped in Libya by Islamic State Affiliate

Militants also seize Christians from Nigeria, Ghana. By Our Middle East Correspondent
ISTANBUL, Turkey, July 23, 2015 (Morning Star News) – As unconfirmed reports and rumors about the status of three Christians kidnapped in Libya by the Islamic State (IS) continue to spread in Egyptian media, a Coptic family waits in fear over the fate of their loved one.
On Friday (July 17), an IS affiliate in Libya known as Islamic State, Barqa Province, announced that it had kidnapped three men, all of them Christians. As evidence of their claims, they released photographs of the three men and photographs of their passport cover pages.

Bakhit Nageh Efrank Ebeid, 21, was traveling on July 10 in a 14-seat van from Alexandria, Egypt to Tripoli with a group of men, most of them Muslims from his hometown of Kom Badar, when IS militants stopped them in Sirte, Libya, according to Ezz Tawfik, a Coptic activist and journalist in Upper Egypt. Two other Christians, Adeola Ibrahim from Nigeria and Sekyere Kofi Frimpong from Ghana, were also in the van.

“ISIS soldiers were there to search their car and check their passports,” said Tawfik, who is in close contact with the victim’s family. “They took all their passports, and saw his, and asked if he was a Christian, and he said ‘Yes.’ So they asked him to stand aside and released the Muslims who were in the same van.” [READ MORE]

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