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Author Topic: Christian Persecution Around the World  (Read 36752 times)
Shammu
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« Reply #225 on: November 22, 2008, 06:26:16 PM »

Ami Ortiz: Where's the Justice?
Added: Nov 18th, 2008 12:50 PM

by George Whitten

Ariel, Israel (Worthy News) -- It has been nearly eight months since 15-year-old Ami Ortiz was almost killed by an explosion while opening an innocent looking Purim basket on March 20th, however no arrests have been made despite the fact that the Ariel police have months of surveillance tapes and a considerable amount of evidence in their possession. (Photo to right: Area in the Ortiz family home where bomb filled with metal shards exploded forward into the dining room table and backward, ripping into the full length of Ami's body. He was found on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood.)

The Ortiz family continues to seek justice in view of the massive injuries they've sustained, but also in the hope of preventing tragedies like this in the future. Pursuing every avenue, the Ortiz family, along with believers from around the world have written numerous letters and contacted some of the highest ranking officials in the Israeli government seeking help, yet while having received acknowledgment of their letters, no action has been taken.

The Ortiz' criminal lawyer, Yossi Graiver, when asked by Worthy News to update the case, responded saying, "There's nothing happening yet." Questioned about the strategy the legal team is pursuing, he said, "We will continue to cooperate with the police, and different ministries involved, trying to create more pressure" in order to see a breakthrough in the case.

Last June, the family's story was broadcast on Israeli Channel 1 during Prime Time on a show called Yoman Shishi. Prior to the program date, Channel 1 battled two separate police injunctions in Israeli courts aimed at preventing the broadcast from being aired.

In addition, a television program called "Uvda" ("Fact" in Hebrew), similar to America's "60 Minutes", is preparing to run an episode covering the case within the next few months. As investigators continue to gather evidence, it is apparent to those involved that this was no ordinary bomb -- but rather a device created by an explosives expert. This carefully designed explosive package has been designated a "stable bomb", meaning that it had to be detonated in a precise manner, and it's construction required components which are not available on the open market.

As investigators continue to pursue leads in the case, there is some evidence that may connect the Ortiz bombing to another bombing that targeted left wing activist, Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, which took place in October. In both of these acts of terror, no arrests have been made, and many in Israel are wondering why, especially in light of Israeli expertise in discovering and ferreting out Arab terror cells.

Meanwhile, Ami has been recovering steadily. Worthy News, having reviewed the photos and the physical evidence of destruction, concluded that Ami's recovery is not simply amazing -- it is unquestionably miraculous! Shortly after the horrendous event took place, Ami described his pain level on a scale of 1 to 10, as, consistently between 8 and 9. Now eight months later, having undergone multiple operations, the level of consistent pain has considerably lowered to around 3 or 4.

Ami continues to struggle daily, as his mother Leah commented, "Everything for him is a procedure, from taking a shower, to getting out and having to put special creams on his scars, to the pressure suit, and just getting dressed is painful for him. He has longer and longer periods of being able to joke his way through all the procedures, but sometimes it gets him down, which is understandable." Although recently, Ami has begun to practice and play basketball again! He's even played in a few games. There's still a long road ahead of him, including several operations and some skin grafts, yet each and every day those closest to him notice the real progress this brave young man is making. (Photo to left: Ortiz Family)

As you may imagine, for any young man whose life has been radically changed by circumstances beyond his control, Ami struggles from time to time. But when asked by Worthy News, whether or not he feels resentment or anger toward those who tried to kill him, he showed no trace of bitterness or anger -- an amazing testimony of the faith and grace in this young believer. His father David commented further, stating that Ami's response of complete forgiveness toward those who succeeded to drastically harm him has, and continues to be an amazing testimony to the television crews, and the program staffers reporting on his case.

Since this tragedy, the Ortiz family has received thousands of letters of encouragement from people from all over the world as they continue their work in the city of Ariel. And while many expected the family to abandon the city, they have not only stayed, but continue to press forward, despite the many obstacles which continually besiege them. The family's faith and perseverance has been a powerful example to the Body. (Photo to right: Posters warning Ariel's citizens to beware of the Messianic Jewish cult which is intent on converting all Jews to Christianity. The posters incite ultra-Orthodox Jews to violence.)

A few weeks after the bombing, New York Times best selling author Joel Rosenberg hosted his Epicenter 08 conference in Jerusalem, and he invited David Ortiz to share about his family's ordeal. To this day, it is the most frequently viewed video on the Epicenter 08 website.

One blessing clearly emerging from this tragedy is how the body of Messiah has unified in support, embracing Ami and the entire Ortiz family. Many believers have commented that this single event has worked to unify the body in Israel like none other. And again, the invincible faith and commitment of the Ortiz family are a shining example of how we must all face persecution whenever it may come.

Ami Ortiz: Where's the Justice?
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« Reply #226 on: November 27, 2008, 11:42:48 PM »

Egypt: Christians Arrested, Shops Looted in Village
Nov 24th, 2008 5:44 AM

Funeral incident leads to disproportionate response from Muslim mobs, police.

ISTANBUL, November 21 (Compass Direct News) -- Authorities in an Egyptian village arrested 50 Coptic Christians, whose shops were then looted, to pacify Muslims following violence that erupted on Nov. 4 over a Christian boy’s unwitting break with custom.

Muslim villagers attacked the homes and shops of Coptic Christians in violence-prone Tayyiba, a town with 35,000 Christians and 10,000 Muslims, after 14-year-old Copt Mina William failed to dismount his donkey as a funeral procession passed.

William was watching the procession in Tayibba, 220 kilometers (137 miles) south of Cairo, with Nathan Yaccoub, also 14. William’s failure to dismount violated a local custom of showing respect, Copts United reported, and members of the procession reportedly beat him before completing the procession. William suffered minor injuries.

After the funeral procession, the processional members began throwing stones at the homes of local Copts and attacking their shops before police broke up the crowd with tear gas.

A priest said members of the procession did not attack the youths for showing disrespect but as an excuse to lash out against the community’s Christians for a previous episode of sectarian violence.

“These two children with the donkey didn’t know about the traditions,” said Father Metias Nasr, a Cairo-based priest with connections in areas south of the capital. “The Muslims there were angry about the last case of violence and wanted to create a new problem with these two children there.”

When the violence began, police presence increased significantly in the city. But rather than quell the unrest, police reportedly made matters worse for the Christians. After breaking up the crowd, officers detained 50 Copts and 10 Muslims.

A source told Compass that police arrested a disproportionate amount of Christians to create a false sense of equanimity and to pressure the Christians into “reconciliation” with the attackers so the Copts would not prosecute them. The arrested Christians have since been released.

In the two weeks since the attacks and looting, the increased police force in the village has harassed Copts through intimidation, “fines” and racketeering. Police have taken an estimated $50,000 from village Copts, the source said.

Once police lifted the curfew, Coptic shopkeepers returned to their stores to discover that they had been looted. Sources said the perpetrators were “supply inspectors,” local government inspectors who do quality control checks on goods. They gained access by smashing locks and doors of the shops.

The sources said supply inspectors plundered grocery stores, a poultry shop, an electronics store and a pharmacy.

According to Coptic weekly Watani, looters stole nearly $2,000 worth of goods from grocer Bishara Gayed. Another victim of the looting, an owner of a poultry shop who declined to give his name, blamed supply inspectors for running off with his stock.

A local clergyman condemned the violence.

“It is unreasonable that a mistake by some 14-year-old should lead to all that rampage,” a village Coptic priest known as Father Augustinus told Watani. “Something ought to be done to halt all this.”

Orphanage Bulldozed

Numerous instances of sectarian violence have struck Tayyiba in the last few months.

Last month a Coptic Christian was killed over a dispute with a Muslim who wanted to buy his house. Violence escalated, resulting in damaged storefronts, 48 arrests and injuries sustained by three Christians and a Muslim.

Such quarrels typically arise from land ownership issues. A Coptic source told Compass that Christians in Tayyiba are generally wealthier than their Muslim counterparts, often leading to resentment.

Tayyiba was stable at press time, though the town is considered to be continually in danger of religious violence flaring. This situation is common throughout Egypt, Fr. Nasr told Compass.

“The village is like anywhere in Egypt,” he said. “In every place in Egypt we can say that in one minute everyone can be destroyed by fanatics, sometimes through the encouragement of security [forces].”

The Coptic Church has faced recent difficulties in other Egyptian cities, with government officials attempting to obstruct their religious activities. On Wednesday (Nov. 19), city officials in Lumbroso, Alexandria destroyed an unfinished but recently furnished Coptic orphanage owned by Abu-Seifein Church and worth 6 million Egyptian pounds (US$1 million).

Officials claimed the building did not have a license, although church leaders said the demolition came on orders from the religiously zealous Islamic mayor. Ali Labib, former head of police and state security in Alexandria, in his two-year tenure as mayor has refused license applications for new church construction or rebuilding, said a Cairo-based Coptic priest who requested anonymity.

The priest said the orphanage was only able to obtain a license because it was issued before Labib’s tenure.

Islam is a growing presence in Egypt’s public sphere. While the government has attempted to crack down on extremists, Islamic civil groups that have drawn widespread support by offering cheap medical assistance and private lessons to school children include the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization with jihad in its credo that has been accused of violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood is well regarded by the average Egyptian, who equates the government with autocracy, corruption and repression, author and intellectual Tarek Heggy reportedly said. Over the last four decades, the Muslim Brotherhood has introduced its brand of fundamentalist Islam into Egyptian schools, mosques and media, he added.

Egypt’s ethnic Christians, known as Copts, belong to the Orthodox Church and number 12 million among the country’s 79 million inhabitants. There are smaller groups of Catholics and Protestants.

Egypt: Christians Arrested, Shops Looted in Village
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« Reply #227 on: November 27, 2008, 11:44:42 PM »

Mexico: Oppression of Christians Persists in Various Parts of Country
Nov 27th, 2008 5:29 AM

MEXICO CITY, November 25 (Compass Direct News) -- As the number of evangelical Christians in southern Mexico has grown, hostilities from "traditionalist Catholics" have kept pace, according to published reports.

Especially in indigenous communities in southern Mexico, the prevailing attitude is that only traditionalist Catholics, who blend native rituals with Roman Catholicism, have rights to religious practice, according to news reports. Moreover, the reports indicate the traditionalist Catholic villagers believe they have the right to force others to conform to their religion.

In Oaxaca state, four Christians in Santiago Teotlaxco, Ixtlan de Juarez district, were jailed on Nov. 16 for refusing to participate in a traditionalist Catholic festival and for not paying the high quotas they were assigned to help cover its costs, according to La Voz news agency. Their neighbors, now fewer than the town’s 180 Christian evangelicals, have been trying to force them to practice what the evangelicals regard as idolatrous adoration of saints and other rituals contrary to their faith.

As a result of such pressure, according to the news agency, non-Catholics in the area, including children, live in fear of being expelled from their properties.

In the community of Nachit, municipality of Zinacantan, Chiapas, five indigenous Christians were jailed for 24 hours on Nov. 4 for refusing to accept work assignments related to traditionalist Catholic festivals, according to the National Confraternity of Evangelical Christian Churches. Local officials ordered them to give up their Christian faith or they would “invent some crimes with which to accuse them and get them imprisoned,” according to Chiapas newspaper Expreso.

Also in Chiapas, Mexico’s southern-most state, local political bosses (caciques) deprived 24 evangelical families of a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Muctavits, municipality of San Andres Larrainzar, of their rights to government social programs, according to news reports. Local officials made the decision on Nov. 3 and a week later said they would fine the Christians 3,000 pesos (US$220) if they refused to contribute funds toward traditionalist Catholic festivals, according to Expreso.

Officials have also threatened to cut off the Christians’ electricity and water, church representative Hortencio Vasquez told La Jornada, and have eliminated all their community rights, thus depriving some evangelicals of their service on local government committees.

Last month local caciques forced evangelical families in the community of Nicolás Ruiz, Chiapas, to sign documents promising to hold religious services only on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday or pay fines of up to 1,000 pesos (US$74) pesos per family. Seven evangelical families had already been expelled from the town for their faith, leaving behind all their possessions and property and taking refuge in the nearby municipality of Acala, reported Cuarto Poder newspaper in Chiapas.

In Guerrero state, two Christian families in Olinala had their drinking water and electricity cut off recently because they refused to participate in local religious customs, La Jornada reported. The families have been under threats to give up their faith since 2006.

“They were threatened with hanging due to their religious beliefs if they did not obey the orders of the municipal authorities,” the National Bar of Christian Lawyers’ Jorge Garcia Jimenez told the newspaper’s Guerrero edition.

As do traditionalist Catholics elsewhere in Mexico, officials in Olinala cited a constitutional provision protecting local “uses and customs” of communities in order to justify forcing evangelicals to contribute to and participate in the festivals, in violation of Mexico’s constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Christian lawyers say the “uses and customs” section was meant to prevent the government from prohibiting native practices – not force villagers to participate in them.

The threats and deprivation of basic services in Guerrero came on the heels of the kidnapping of the teenaged son of a prominent evangelical pastor in the same state. The kidnappers apparently rejected the ransom paid by the family as inadequate and have held the boy for two months.

Even in a state as far north as Hidalgo, a longstanding conflict erupted anew this month. After years of hostilities rooted in traditionalist Catholics’ intolerance of evangelical Christians, La Jornada reported, officials in San Nicolás, municipality of Ixmiquilpan, had finally granted a construction permit for Protestants to build a chapel.

But villagers claiming that construction without a town assembly vote violated a previous agreement stopped workers at the building site on Nov. 7. Local officials had to call in state police to forestall a violent confrontation, and no construction has been permitted since then.

Chiapas pastor and attorney Esdras Alonso González said at a press conference this week that cases of intolerance of evangelical Christians – all allowed and encouraged by local officials –also remain in the Zinacantan, Chiapas communities of Nachig, Pasté, Chiquinivalvó, Pestó and Buonchén.

In Pasté, he said, four families remain without water since October 14 for having refused to contribute funds for the traditionalist Catholic festivals, which often also involve drunken revelry.

“The municipal authorities of Zinacantan are not doing anything to resolve the problem,” he told reporters.

Mexico: Oppression of Christians Persists in Various Parts of Country
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« Reply #228 on: November 27, 2008, 11:46:28 PM »

Egypt: Thousands Protest, Vandalize Church
Added: Nov 27th, 2008 5:30 AM

At least five hurt as rioters stone, burn structure after inauguration of extension.

ISTANBUL, November 26 (Compass Direct News) -- Thousands of Muslim protesters on Sunday (Nov. 23) attacked a Coptic church in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, burning part of it, a nearby shop and two cars and leaving five people injured.

Objecting to a newly constructed extension to the Coptic church of St. Mary and Anba Abraam in Ain Shams, the huge crowd of angry protestors gathered outside the church at around 5 p.m. following a consecration service for the addition earlier that day.

Chanting, “We will demolish the church,” “Islam is the solution” and “No God but Allah,” according to Helmy Guirguis, president of the U.K. Coptic Association, rioters pelted the church with stones and burned part of the structure; priests and worshipers were trapped inside, and five people were injured.

“It was a terrifying moment,” said lawyer Nabil Gobrayel, who was inside the church at the time. “They were shouting ‘holy slogans’ like, ‘We will bring the church down,’, ‘The priest is dead’ and ‘The army of Muhammad is coming.’”

Police slow to arrive were not prepared for the scale of the protest. Angry Muslims swarmed to the area from a two-kilometer radius, and although estimates varied, some suggested as many as 8,000 people gathered.

Rioters’ stones broke the structure’s windows, and a nearby shop and two cars belonging to Christians were set on fire.

Reinforcements for the overwhelmed security forces did not arrive until two hours later and were then engaged in clashes with the mob until the early hours of Monday (Nov. 24) morning.

Armored vehicles brought in riot police, who used tear gas to disperse the crowd while fire services aided their efforts with water cannons.

A United Copts of Great Britain statement suggested that police were slow to arrest perpetrators in the early stages of the demonstration but did eventually detain 41 people around midnight.

Of the 38 Muslims arrested, 30 were quickly released “under the pretext of being minors,” according to the United Copts statement. Three arrested Christians, however, remained in prison without charges.

United Copts also reported that Wael Tahoon, a police officer, was said to be involved in instigating the attacks.

A source told Compass that Pope Shenouda, head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, ordered that prayers at the church site be stopped.

According to Gobrayel, the church will be closed for two months while officials consider its future.

Opposition from Outset

The newly constructed extension stands on the site of an old factory that was demolished 18 months ago, when the land was purchased using funds raised by donations from the congregation.

When building began, church members were surprised to find that construction of a mosque also started just across the street.

During construction of the church addition, Muslim radicals insulted and harassed workers, issuing death threats and urinating on the structure’s walls.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 23), the morning of the consecration service, the adjacent mosque began broadcasting verses from the Quran at high volume.

According to witnesses, the imam of the mosque justified the unusual broadcasts by saying that they were in celebration of the Muslim festival of Eid. Christians said this would be highly irregular, however, with area parishioners maintaining it was done to provoke them.

Government Role

Church leaders had obtained the necessary permits for building the extension, Coptic leaders said, but protestors said the addition was not licensed for prayer and worship.

Christians have found obtaining church building permits from Egyptian authorities rife with obstacles, with many applications never granted.

“The National Assembly cannot make a decision for 15 years about building projects for churches,” said lawyer Naguib Gobrail. “Every time they say, ‘This session we can discuss this project,’ but the session ends and we see nothing. Everything is only a promise.”

In a recent editorial, Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of Egyptian weekly Watani, addressed the inequality of regulations that govern the building of places of worship.

“It now appears obvious that the government has no intention whatsoever of placing the long-awaited bill for a unified law for building places of worship on its agenda,” he wrote. “For four consecutive rounds [of Parliament], the bill has remained shelved despite the need for it to ward off so called sectarian problems that erupt every so often.”

Wedding Violence

Advocacy group Voice of the Copts issued a report on Monday (Nov. 24) that, a day before the attack on St. Mary and Anba Abraam, Muslim radicals ambushed a wedding party at a church just 10 minutes away.

A man and woman interrupted the ceremony shouting obscene remarks, according to Voice of the Copts, and when angered wedding guests ushered them outside, the Copts were set upon by a gang of people waiting in a shop across the road. Two were severely injured.

While Christians account for varying estimates of 10 to 15 percent of Egypt’s population and date back to the first century of the faith, churches are still seen as foreign bodies and, in the words of the Ain Shams rioters, an “infidel’s worship house in an Islamic Land.”

Egypt: Thousands Protest, Vandalize Church
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« Reply #229 on: December 11, 2008, 09:46:21 AM »

Russia plans 'liquidation' of ministries
Dozens of Christian organizations on the list

Dozens of Christian organizations that have been providing social services, ministry and other help inside Russia are being targeted for "liquidation" by the nation's Ministry of Justice, according to a new report.

The information comes in a newsletter from a leader with an American Christian organization, Youth With A Mission, who reported he found a declaration recently on the webpage of the Russian Ministry of Justice listing the pending "liquidation" of 56 religious organizations.

The American ministry leader was out of the country and unavailable today, but his wife, contacted by WND, explained the pressure on evangelical groups is coming from a combination of resurging Russian hatred for the West, and pressure from Orthodox churches to ban outside organizations.

However, the ministry leader's wife asked that her husband's name not be used, because he continues to work in Russia, and could be targeted for retaliation.

She told WND all of central Asia is seeing an increasing level of persecution of Christians, since there are Muslim majorities in many locations.

"[Russian authorities] definitely want [Christians] out. They are targeting them," she said. "They are allowing only three-month visas, and then you have to leave. Obviously you can't do long-term ministry there."

The American ministry leader's original newsletter said other groups also were targeted in Russia, including Buddhist, Jewish and Islamic organizations.

"Yet at least 35 of the 56 listed qualify as Protestant organizations," the newsletter said. "These include the humanitarian 'World Vision' and 'Youth with a Mission." At least six Baptist organizations are listed. These include one established by the Russian branch of the 'Billy Graham Evangelistic Association' and three regional districts of the 'Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists,'" he said.

"Apparently; several entire churches are up for liquidation, including the 'Union of Churches of Presbyterian Christians' and the 'Assemblies of God.' Even the 26-congregation-strong 'Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians' is scheduled for elimination," the newsletter said.

The leader continued, "The situation in Russia has continued to worsen this past year as the new visa law went into effect. This limits missionaries to three-month stays after which they need to leave for three months then reapply for a new expensive three-month visa. This has made it especially difficult on families and many have been forced to leave. This has affected every mission.

"We have been spared this in some of the rural areas where some of our workers have received residency permits, but in the cities this has been impossible and has reduced our numbers to the nationals themselves," he said.

“Our Russian YWAMers have continued the work in a number of places but further restrictions could be coming," he continued.

“Things seem to be heating up for the surrounding countries as well. Georgia remains in somewhat of a delicate state as well as Ukraine. Meanwhile the Central Asian countries where we have seen so many breakthroughs in the last decade are also beginning to follow Moscow’s example.”
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #230 on: December 17, 2008, 07:41:16 AM »

Mutilated Christian girl, 10, forgives attackers
'They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus'
Posted: December 16, 2008
9:42 pm Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Hindu extremists may have burned a 10-year-old Christian girl's face, inflicted shrapnel wounds on 40 percent of her body and forced her family to hide in a forest and flee to a refugee camp in Orissa, India, but her plight hasn't shaken her faith and thankfulness to God this season.

"Christmas is a time to thank the baby Jesus who saved me from the fire and saved my face which was disfigured and wounded," Namrata Nayak told Asia News.

Nayak's face was severely mutilated after Hindu extremists bombed the home where she was staying on Aug. 26. They broke into the house and burned it while Nayak and her siblings hid in a small bathroom. Before exiting the home, they left a bomb in a dresser, according to the report.

While the little girl surveyed the destruction, the bomb detonated and burned her face.

The explosion also lodged shrapnel into her face, hands and back.

Nayak's mother, Sudhamani, came running out of the forest where she was hiding.

"We saw everything burned, and feared that everyone had died in the flames," Sudhamani said. "Instead, thanks to God, everyone was safe. Only that my daughter had been wounded. But Jesus took care of her. We took her to the hospital in Berhampur, still unconscious and badly hurt."

Nayak spent 45 days recovering in the hospital. Despite all her troubles, she is cheerful and giving thanks to God for healing her.

"There is so much pain and suffering, and I don't know how long the special forces will protect us," she told Asia News. "But Christmas is a time of gratitude. I am afraid that my people will still be attacked, but this is our life. If God has saved me, he can save other Christians too." (AMEN!!  DW)

The Hindu attackers have vowed to launch another widespread assault on Christians during Christmas. The violence began after Christians were blamed for the death of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 24. They continue to be persecuted even though Maoists openly admitted to murdering Saraswati.

Hindus have offered money, food and alcohol to anyone who murders Christians and destroys their homes – especially pastors. Thousands of homes and churches have been destroyed, and Christians have been forced to flee the violence. Many have been doused with kerosene and torched after refusing to renounce their Christian faith.

Nonetheless, Nayak urges India's Christians to forgive their Hindu attackers.

"[W]e forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes," she told Asia News. "They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future."

Nayak said her life plan is to share the message of God's love.

"The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace," she said. "I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel."
~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm praying that God blesses her, and protects her while she is spreading the Gospel.
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« Reply #231 on: December 17, 2008, 04:14:57 PM »

AMEN!
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« Reply #232 on: December 20, 2008, 11:26:54 AM »

7 students suspended for refusing anti-Christian class
Officials are 'veering into creepy Orwellian political territory here'

Seven Christian students in Quebec have been handed suspensions in the last few days – and could face expulsions – for refusing to participate in a new mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course that, according to a critic, is a "superficial mishmash of trendy theoretical platitudes" with the goal of convincing children that "all religions – including pagan animism and cults – are equally 'true.'"

Canada's National Post has reported on the developing confrontation between educators who have ordered students to take the course and students and their parents who object to what they see as a virtual indoctrination into a social and moral relativism.

While seven students already have been targeted for punishment, hundreds more are demanding to be relieved of the obligation to attend the classes, and several parents have begun legal actions over the course.

Diane Gagne's 16-year-old son, Jonathan, is one of those hit with a suspension. He has refused to take part in the two-hour-per-week course because it teaches values that run counter to his religious beliefs.

"He told me, 'Mom, I am still standing, and I'm going to keep standing and fight this to the end,'" said Diane Gagne. "We're prepared to go right to expulsion."

Lawyer Jean-Yves Cote is representing the family against the suspension imposed by the public high school in Granby, Quebec, as well as another family with a court challenge to the state demand.

Under the course requirements, "it is the state deciding what religious content will be learned, at what age, and that is totally overriding the parents' authority and role," Jean Morse-Chevrier, of the Quebec Association of Catholic Parents, told the newspaper.

In 2005, a change in the law eliminated a family's right to choose among "Catholic," "Protestant" or "moral" instruction in classrooms, a change that took effect last summer.

Quebec Education Department spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay told the newspaper school boards have gotten more than 1,400 requests from parents for their children to be exempted from the instruction, which emphasizes feminism over Christianity, and suggests Raelians are centuries ahead of other beliefs.

She also confirmed school boards have rejected every request for an exemption.

She explained it is not "religious instruction."

"It is religious culture," she stated. "We introduce young people to religious culture like we introduce them to musical culture."

Officials at Voice of the Martyrs, who work daily against persecution of Christians worldwide, noted on a blog posting the students are to be applauded for their opposition to state religious teaching.

"We believe that the state has no right to mandate religious education, force students to learn the content of other religious and to deliberately seek to undermine the religious convictions of those who refuse to accept a relativistic view of truth. It is the right and responsibility of parents to train their own children according to their own religious beliefs, not those of the state," said the posting.

"Religious courses, if offered, should be optional or alternatives provided. But the state must not mandate what religious content will or will not be taught to children, especially against the wishes of their parents."

In the National Post, columnist Barbara Kay took school officials to task for teaching what she described as "a chilling intrusion into what all democratically inspired charters of rights designate as a parental realm of authority."

She continued, "ERC was adopted by virtual fiat, its mission to instill 'normative pluralism' in students. 'Normative pluralism' is gussied-up moral relativism, the ideology asserting there is no absolute right or wrong and that there are as many 'truths' as there are whims."

"The program is predicated on the worst worst possible educational model for young children: the philosopher Hegel's 'pedagogy of conflict.' As one of the founders of the ECR course put it, students 'must learn to shake up a too-solid identity' and experience 'divergence and dissonance'…

"The curriculum is strewn with politically correct material that openly subverts Judeo-Christian values. In many of the manuals, ideology and religion are conflated. Social engineering is revealed as the heart of the ECR program; in the most recently published activity book, for example, Christianity is given 12 pages, feminism gets 27 pages...."

She continued, "Paganism and cults are offered equal status with Christianity. Witches 'are women like any other in daily life;' 'Technologically [the Raelians] are 25,000 years in advance of us.' And considering that of the 80,000 ethnic aboriginals in Quebec only 700 self-identify with aboriginal spirituality (the vast majority of ethnic aboriginals are Christian), aboriginal spirituality (falsely equated with environmentalism) is accorded hugely disproportionate space and reverence."

Cote said the issue could end up before the Supreme Court of Canada soon. He said his second case, in Drummondville, is to be heard before Superior Court in May, and will test if the course infringes guaranteed rights in Canada.

Since the course is required for all students, not just public school students, 600 of the students at Montreal's Jesuit Loyola High asked for exemptions and all were rejected.

Now the school has started its own court challenge. Principal Paul Donovan told the Post the mandates require relativism.

"What it essentially says is that religion is just, 'You like tomato soup and I like pea soup, so don't be all offended because someone likes tomato soup. It's really just a matter of preference,'" he told the Post. "Religion could be Wiccan or Raelian or any of the new movements or atheism or agnosticism."

Sylvain Lamontagne told the Globe Campus education publication the course is religious fast food.

"We can't do this to children. It will only confuse them," he said. "Religion isn't a Chinese buffet. You can't just pick one and then another however you want."

Kay cited the course's "gloss" of the Golden Rule:

"Christianity's 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' Judaism's 'Love thy neighbour as thyself ' and Islam's 'None of you is really a believer if he does not wish for his brother what he wishes for himself.' All are posited in the ERC text as the same acknowledgement of the common humanity of all God's children," she wrote.

"But in fact, there is a deep interpretive chasm between Christianity's 'others' and Judaism's 'neighbour' – both of which refer to all people – and Islam's 'brother,' which refers only to fellow Muslims. Here is 'divergence and dissonance' truly worthy of 'le questionnement.' But encouraging real critical thinking is precisely what the ERC course employs duplicity to avoid," she wrote.

"Quebec is veering into creepy Orwellian political territory here," she said.

The government requirement for teaching a potpourri of religious concepts as equal is just the latest effort on the part of the Canadian government to put new restrictions on Christians.

WND previously has reported on a number of Human Rights Commission cases in the nation that have targeted Christian pastors and others for "hate" crimes for stating their biblically-based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle.

Last spring, Pastor Stephen Boisson was ordered by the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal to stop expressing his biblical perspective of homosexuality and pay $5,000 for "damages for pain and suffering" as well as apologize to the activist who complained of being hurt.
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« Reply #233 on: December 20, 2008, 11:38:02 AM »

Messianic Jews still face persecution in Israel     
jpost.com

A director of the US Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations and his wife were detained Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport by Interior Ministry officials amid allegations he is involved in illegal Christian missionary activity.

It is illegal in Israel to proselytize among minors. It is also prohibited to engage in missionary activities among adults when economic incentives are offered.

After over eight hours of detention, Jamie Cowen, a former president of the union, and his wife, Stacy, were permitted to enter Israel only after they agreed to sign a document that they would not engage in missionary activities during their stay.

The Cowens are in Israel to visit their two daughters, one of whom is an Israeli citizen. The other is in the process of obtaining citizenship after she and a group of other Messianic Jews won a Supreme Court case against the state.

The Cowens and their daughters all identify as Jews but believe that Jesus is the messiah.

"This type of religious discrimination would be expected of Iran, not Israel," said Jamie Cowen, a US immigration lawyer, a few hours after he was released by immigration police.

"In the US we imprison individuals suspected of terrorism. Here apparently one can be jailed for his religious convictions. This is a case of blatant discrimination against basic rights. It is a story of a bureaucracy run amok. Someone has to crack down and bring in people of integrity."

Cowen said he had visited Israel about 10 times, and had been active in social causes via the Knesset Social Lobby.

"I've brought $100,000 in humanitarian aid to Israel. We've provided lone IDF soldiers with about $50,000 in aid. This is unbelievable," he said.

The Interior Ministry, which directed the police to arrest the Cowens, said they had classified information regarding missionary activity.

"The Immigration and Population Authority has reliable information that the Cowens were involved in missionary activity prohibited by Israeli criminal law during their last visit to Israel," a ministry spokesman said.

"This is the reason they were detained. As soon as they agreed to refrain from any missionary activity they were allowed in."

The Cowens arrived in Israel on a flight from Frankfurt at 3 a.m. They were arrested at passport inspection and placed in detention at the airport.

"As an immigration lawyer I have visited many detention facilities for illegal immigrants. This one was particularly dirty, smelly and overcrowded," Cowen said.

According to Cowen, the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations has 90 member congregations with membership ranging between 50 and 400 per congregation.

Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of The Jerusalem Institute, which provides legal advice and representation to messianic Jews, said the Interior Ministry was filled will clerks who identified with a strictly Orthodox definition of who is a Jew.

"During the years that Shas controlled the ministry they made sure to appoint clerks who were willing to carry out their policies," Myers said.

"As a result, Israel is the only Western country where basic freedom of religion is denied. Today those who being discriminated against are messianic Jews. Tomorrow it will be Conservative and Reform Jews."

Myers said anti-missionary organizations such as Yad Le'achim often tipped off Interior Ministry officials regarding messianic Jews attempting to enter the country.

However, Meir Cohen, a Yad Le'Achim activist, said that while it was true that his organization did provide the ministry with information, they were not involved in the Cowens' case.

Cohen said the ministry had its own intelligence unit that gathered information on missionaries and on messianic Jews who were ineligible for Israeli citizenship due to their religious convictions.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Jews who embraced Christianity are not eligible for Israeli citizenship. However, the court has also ruled that people who are not Jews according to Orthodox standards, but who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return do not forfeit this right if they adopt Christian beliefs.
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« Reply #234 on: December 20, 2008, 11:43:35 PM »

Islamic threats in church: bible burned, appeal to conversion
by Qaiser Felix
12/19/2008

The sacrilege took place two days ago, in a small village of the diocese of Faisalabad. Many families of Muslims, who are in the majority, are supporting the Christians. The priest asks the faithful to remain "calm and peaceful," in imitation of Jesus.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Desecration at the church of St. Paul in the village ‘Chak 77-RB’, ‘Lohekay’, about 30 kilometers from Faisalabad: on December 17, suspects burned a bible and other sacred texts, leaving a letter threatening Christians that they will "burn in the fire of hell" if they do not convert to Islam.

Pervez Masih tells AsiaNews that on that day, he and others were whitewashing and decorating the little church for Christmas. They stopped at noon for lunch, leaving the church open. When they returned, they found the bible and other sacred texts reduced to ashes, and a handwritten letter telling them to convert to Islam if they wanted to "live in peace" and avoid hell. In Pakistan, there is significant controversy over the law on blasphemy, condemning even to death those who offend the sacred book of Islam, the Qur'an. But nothing is done against blasphemous acts toward the books of other religions.

Fr. Yagoob Yousaf arrived in the village that same evening, having been told about the sacrilege. He celebrated Mass in the church (in the photo), and in the homily, he condemned the sacrilege and the threats, and told the faithful to remain calm and peaceful and not to be afraid, because the police have promised the highest vigilance. He said that Christ preached love and peace, and the government would see to guaranteeing security for the Christians for the Holy Nativity. In recent years, at Christmas, there have been attacks against Catholic and Protestant churches. Often the Christmas celebrations have taken place under police protection.

He observes that "this is a high holy season for all Christians and they are preparing themselves for Christmas but such type of incidents are creating fear and is a move to disturb Christians in the season of Advent."

Most of the people in the village are Muslim, and there are between 50 and 70 Christian families. The church is used by Catholics and Protestants, without conflict. When they became aware of the sacrilege, many Muslims went to the church together with the Christians. Now the police are investigating the "suspects" for the crime of blasphemy.

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« Reply #235 on: December 20, 2008, 11:46:21 PM »

Indonesia Muslims Burn Churches, Homes Over Blasphemy
Dec 18th, 2008

JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- A tense calm returned to a village in Indonesia's Central Maluku province, where angry Muslims torched churches, dozens of homes and other properties after a Christian teacher allegedly made comments insulting Islam, rights investigators said Wednesday, December 17.

Welhelmina Holle, a Christian elementary school teacher in the village of Letwaru village in the province's Masohi district, apparently made the remarks while tutoring a Muslim student last month, and has since been detained by local police on blasphemy charges, said Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), which investigates reported persecution of Christians.

News of the blasphemy incident "spread throughout the Muslim community, sparking the Indonesian Ulema Council" representing Muslims, "to file a complaint against Holle to the police," VOMC added in a statement to BosNewsLife.

The group said some 500 Muslims protested in recent days outside the Central Maluku Education Agency, accusing Holle of blasphemy and calling for his dismissal. "The mob then gathered outside Central Maluku Police headquarters and demanded to meet with the police chief, but [was] informed that he was not on the premises..."

VIOLENT PROTESTS

Protests soon turned violent, with several Muslims reportedly burning at least two churches, 65 homes, a health clinic and several vehicles on December 9. Police and soldiers eventually intervened, preventing more damage, Christians said.

However on Wednesday, December 17, Holle "remained in detention" for blasphemy, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment, according to VOMC. Government officials have promised to rebuild churches and homes, but it was not clear when the reconstruction would begin.

There have been mounting tensions between Christian communities and Muslims in Indonesia's, the world's most populous Islamic nation, with reports of attacks against churches in several areas, Christians said.

In one of the more serious incidents, the mainly Christian village Horale, in a remote area of Maluku province, was nearly completely razed to the ground this year by an angry mob, injuring 56 Christians and "brutally killing four, including an 84-year-old man and a six-year-old girl," explained rights group Barnabas Fund.

MORE FIRE

The local school, three churches and 120 houses "were burnt down and crops, fishing boats and motor-cycles destroyed," said Barnabas Fund, which supports Christians in especially Muslim nations. "The villagers fled to the jungle to hide from the attackers," following the May 2 violence, explained the group, which is involved in reconstructing Horale.

Christians comprise roughly nine percent of the country's mainly Muslim population of over 237 million people, according to estimates by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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« Reply #236 on: December 20, 2008, 11:47:54 PM »

Vietnam: Authorities Destroy New Church Building
Dec 18th, 2008 6:12 AM

Five Christians injured as officials raze 'illegally constructed' worship place.

HO CHI MINH CITY (Compass Direct News) -- Local government officials in Dak Lak Province this morning made good on their threat to destroy a new wooden church building erected in September by Hmong Christians in Cu Hat village.

At 7 a.m. in Cu Dram Commune, Krong Bong district, a large contingent of government officials, police and demolition workers arrived at the site of a Vietnam Good News Mission and Church, razing it by 8:30 a.m. Police wielding electric cattle prods beat back hundreds of distraught Christians who rushed to the site to protect the building.

Five injured people were taken away in an emergency vehicle authorities had brought to the scene. The injured included a child who suffered a broken arm and a pregnant woman who fainted after being poked in the stomach with an electric cattle prod. Villagers said they fear she may miscarry.

By day's end one badly injured woman had not yet been returned to the village, and authorities would not divulge where she was.

One sad Vietnamese church leader said that the demolition of the church ahead of Christmas showed the heartlessness of officials toward Christian believers.

'They think no one will notice or do anything about what they do in a remote area,' he said.

Nearly eight years ago a congregation numbering more than 500 Hmong Christians had joined thousands of others fleeing persecution in Vietnam's northwest provinces, migrating to the Central Highlands. They aspired to construct a church building so they could worship protected from the rain and sun.

In September they were finally able to assemble materials needed to erect a 12-meter by 20-meter church building, large enough for them to meet. Eventually they were able to put a durable tile roof on the building, and with great joy they began worshipping together in a single location.

Although virtually all buildings in this area of Vietnam are erected without building permits, local authorities accused the Christians of 'illegal construction' and ordered the congregation to 'voluntarily' tear it down. On Dec. 2, Krong Bong district officials made a formal decision to demolish the church within two weeks if the Christians would not do so themselves.

The Vietnam Good News Mission and Church is an organization that for more than a year has tried to register more than a hundred of its congregations without any success. Contrary to Vietnam's new religion legislation, these requests for registration have either been denied or ignored.

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« Reply #237 on: December 20, 2008, 11:49:38 PM »

Massive Arrests Of Christians In China
Dec 19th, 2008 3:31 AM

BEIJING, CHINA -- Over a dozen Christians will spend Christmas behind bars in China after police raided a Christian leaders gathering in Henan province, while in the capital Beijing two officials of the banned Chinese House Church Alliance were detained, an advocacy group and Chinese Christians confirmed Thursday, December 18.

More than 40 Christians were arrested Tuesday, December 16, in an area of Henan's Nanyang city, where authorities interrupted a meeting of Christian leaders, said the US-based China Aid Association (CAA).

After paying fines of up to $300 in local currency, most were freed, but 16 Christian leaders, including a man hosting the gathering, Yan Linshan, received 10 to 15 days "administrative detention" on charges of involvement in an "illegal religious gathering," the group added.

Elsewhere in Beijing news emerged Thursday, December 18, that Pastor "Bike" Zhang Mingxuan was being forcibly escorted from the Chinese capital Beijing to Hubei province by three officers of the Public Security Bureau (PSB), China's main law enforcement agency.

HUBEI HOTEL

The PSB officers dropped off Pastor Bike at a hotel in Hubei, without enough money to pay for a room, in an apparent effort to force him to end his activities as president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, which authorities banned in recent weeks.

The Alliance represents many of China's expanding 'house churches', named this way as they are held in homes of believers, outside the government backed denominations. "This is the second time in two weeks Pastor Bike has been forcibly escorted out of Beijing," said CAA, who added it reached the preacher by mobile phone Thursday, December 18, while he traveled in a police van.

"During the call, PSB officers raised the volume of the car radio to try and drown out the conversation, but Pastor Bike was able to communicate to CAA that he was taken while staying with Pastor Hua Huiqi at his home..."

The pastor was quoted as saying that he has been "secretly followed and watched" since a similar incident on December 9, when he was reportedly also forced to leave Beijing.

"Pastor Bike was staying with Pastor Hua Huiqi when police broke into the home around 11: 30 p.m. This incident happened on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the UN's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the signing of "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" by the Chinese government," CAA recalled.

RADIO INTERVIEW

Speaking to US-funded Radio Free Asia Pastor Hua reportedly said that [ "Bike"] Zhang Mingxuan "let me read the document of abolishing the Chinese House Church Alliance." Soon after their dinner, security forces and officials allegedly broke into his house and "dragged and pushed" him to another room. "I told them I had a guest in my home and they shouldn't tell me that my guest couldn't stay here."

He said Pastor Bike was eventually escorted by force to a police vehicle. "Since he came to Beijing, we have been very good friends. We are also very good brothers in Christ and there is nothing wrong in receiving him as a guest."

Police allegedly harassed Pastor Hua, as well, trying to convince him to cooperate. Pastor Hua's mother, Shuang Shuying, 78, is currently in prison. She is serving a two-year sentence for "intentional damage of properties" in February 2007. Pastor Hua said, "The Municipal Public Security Bureau has been telling me that as long as I cooperate with them, I can, first of all, make a fortune and then I can also get my mother out," CAA reported.

Pastor Hua reportedly said the requirements for "cooperation" include spying on other Christians and not helping those who are persecuted.

The pastor regularly hosts allegedly persecuted Christians in his home and helps them pursue legal cases.

Church groups say there there has been growing pressure on Christians worshiping outside official churches. Officials have denied wrongdoing, saying Christians are enjoy religious freedom within the official Protestant and Catholic churches.

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« Reply #238 on: December 20, 2008, 11:51:40 PM »

Pakistan Police Raid Christian Slum; Women Injured
Dec 19th, 2008 3:32 AM

By Jawad Mazhar BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

SARGODHA, PAKISTAN -- Pakistani police ransacked run-down homes of Christians living in a slum of Pakistan's 10th largest city and "severely tortured Christian women" leaving several of them "critically injured", local residents told BosNewsLife.

The situation in the ‘Maryam Town’ area of the city of Sargodha in Punjab province remained tense Friday, December 19, after police, dressed in plain clothes, stormed several homes last week, witnesses said.

Police, arriving in two vehicles, allegedly made their way into at least two Christian homes on December 11, wrecking house hold appliances and other valuables.

During the raids, "policemen also inflicted severe torture on Christian women leaving them critically injured...[They] left with their bags containing cash, jewelry and pricey cosmetics," said residents protesting against the violence in front of the nearby police station.

LICENSED GUN

Christian families also lost their mobile phones, a licensed gun and other household valuables, Christians said.

Christian youngsters attempting to end the attacks against women, were allegdly beaten with truncheons.“Those ruthless policemen arrested and took with them an innocent Christian youth Imran Masih with out any allegations”, Christian protesters told BosNewsLife on condition of anonymity.

They said the young man was released after he was forced to pay a bribe of about 1000 Pakistani Rupees (some $13), a major amount in a country where average monthly wages hover around $90 or lower.

In a reaction, Sargodha Police chief Usman Anwer told BosNewsLife that he "condemns this sort of police terrorism" and that he wants those responsible to be prosecuted. Anwer said he had "issued directives to the Deputy Superintendent of Police of Sargodha to probe into the matter in detail and report back as soon as possible."

CHRISTIAN CONCERN

The attacks by police comes amid rising tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country.

Authorities have been under pressure to end extremism, but rights activists say police have often not done enough to protect the Christian minority in the country.

US-based Christian rights group International Christian Concern has expressed concern about the situation. "This group of police officers completely violated their charge to protect the innocent and uphold law and order," said ICC Regional Manager for South Asia, Samuel Wallace. "To their shame they have behaved instead like the very criminals they should be putting in jail," Wallace added.

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« Reply #239 on: December 25, 2008, 10:57:46 PM »

Eritrea Christians Apparently Killed In Massive Detentions
Dec 22nd, 2008 7:47 AM

ASMARA, ERITREA -- Several churches in Eritrea were without their leaders or other believers Sunday, December 21, as a government-backed campaign of mass arrests reached the capital Asmara amid fears several detainees died of mistreatment, Christians said.

Over 100 men, women and children from a variety of Christian denominations were jailed in recent weeks, confirmed Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) a major rights group investigating the situation.

The wave of house to house arrests reportedly began late November in the areas of Keren, Eilabered, Hagaz, Adi Tekelezan, and Deki Zeru, followed by further raids in Dekemhare, Adi Quala, Areza and Mendefera before the campaign reached Asmara, December 12.

Christians were reportedly transferred to a military facility and fellow believers said they were severely mistreated. "Local sources indicate that an unspecified number may have died after being denied medical attention subsequent to this mistreatment," CSW noted. Eritrean officials have denied religious persecution, but say they want to protect the country against sects and dangerous outside influences.

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

The latest apparent crackdown comes amid reports of food shortages and growing dissent within Eritrea's army as Major General Philipos Woldeyohannes, a close ally of President Isaias Afewerki, reportedly escaped an assassination attempt on December 4.

"Elsewhere, a visit to Europe by a delegation headed by the Orthodox Church's government-imposed administrator Yoftahe Dimetros and the largely unrecognized substitute patriarch Bishop Dioscoros, is reportedly proving less successful than anticipated," CSW added.

In Italy, they apparently failed to gain an audience with the Catholic hierarchy, allegedly on grounds that there had been "no prior communications with Patriarch Antonios concerning the visit." The delegation was later denied entry into Milan's Kidist Mariam Eritrean Orthodox Church by church leaders, who said they did not represent the official church, CSW said.

"DEEPLY TROUBLING"

CSW's Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert, said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife that the tensions and the "resumption of mass arrests" are "deeply troubling." She said CSW is especially concerned about "reports indicating that some detainees may even have died from injures" sustained during mistreatment. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who may now be grieving for friends and family members," Lambert explained.

Eritrean authorities began persecuting Christians in May 2002 after controversial legislation only recognized the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church as "official denominations", although church leaders there have also reported tensions, rights groups said.

At least 2,000 Eritrean Christians are held without charges in local prisons of military camps, including in shipping containers, to pressure them to abandon their faith in Christ, according to churches and independent investigators.

CSW said it has urged the international community "to remind the Eritrean government of its international and constitutional obligations with regard to freedom of religion and the humane treatment of prisoners, and to urge the regime to permit all detainees to have unhindered access to immediate family members, medical treatment, and legal representation."

Eritrea Christians Apparently Killed In Massive Detentions
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