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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rain from Ethiopia to Mecca

The rain is like a baptism

Heavy rain moving from east to the Arabian peninsula from the Ethiopian Mountains is pouring down on Mecca during this year's Hajj pilgrimage might be another sign from the generous and merciful God, Jesus Christ showing to the lost sheep the way, the only way, the truth and life to his kingdom?

Yesterday, November 25, rare, heavy rainstorms, the heaviest in 25 years, soaked pilgrims and flooded the road into Mecca, snarling Islam's annual hajj as millions of Muslims headed for the holy sites. The downpours add an extra hazard on top of intense concerns about the spread of swine flu.

Pilgrims in white robes holding umbrellas, some wearing face masks for fear of the flu, circled the black cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, the opening rite for the hajj. But the shrine — Islam's holiest site — and the nearby, rain-soaked streets did not see the usual massive crowds, because many tried to stay inside nearby hotels or were caught up in the traffic jams heading into the city.

Russian Priest Killed in Church

The Rev. Daniil Sysoyev, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church who was known for promoting missionary work among Muslims, was shot and killed in his parish church late Thursday night, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Father Sysoyev, 35, died at a Moscow hospital of gunshot wounds to the head and chest, RIA Novosti said. The Web site of the Moscow patriarchate confirmed his death. The parish’s choir director was wounded in the shootings at the Church of St. Thomas by the unidentified assailant.

A Moscow Patriarchate official called Father Sysoyev a “talented missionary” whose work among Muslims, including Tatars, might have been the motive for the shooting.
“I don’t exclude that the murder is connected to the fact that he preached among and baptized those who belong to Muslim culture,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk with the news media, said in a telephone interview.

Father Sysoyev had spoken out in opposition to Islam and had warned Russian women against marrying Muslim men.


Copts between the rock of Islamism and a hard place

The first two months of the Coptic new year have been a sombre time for Egypt’s ancient Christian community. The new year fell on the inauspicious date of September 11. And a spate of attacks on this large and downtrodden community by Islamist extremists or villagers giving a religious pretext to petty quarrels have provoked accusations of officially tolerated discrimination and heightened fears that Islamists will be emboldened to undercut the laws that promise religious freedom and legal equality in Egypt.


Muslim Violence Ongoing in Egypt -- Christians Plead For Help

Since the early morning of November 21, the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot has been the scene of ongoing Muslim mob violence against Coptic Christian residents.

The violence has also extended to a number of neighboring villages,

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), the mob ramsacked and burnt Coptic property, while Copts hid indoors fearing to go outside. Reuters Cairo reported a witness said, “Chaos is overwhelming (in the city).”

The violence was prompted by reports of sexual abuse of a girl by 21 year-old Copt Guirgis Baroumi, from Kom Ahmar, on Nov. 18.

AINA said the 12-year-old Muslim girl has been identified as “Yousra.” Baroumi is being detained by the police pending an ongoing investigations and forensic results. Many Copts believe that the rape incident is being used by Muslims as a pretext to start violence against them.

The violence is continuing. There are reports that seven Coptic women have been abducted.

Witnesses said nearly 3000 angry Muslims gathered in front of the Farshoot Police Headquarters. They were there, AINA reported, planning to kidnap and kill Baroumi while he was being transported to court.


20 Somalis charged for terrorism in the U.S.

United States officials on Monday unsealed terrorism-related charges against men they say were key actors in a recruitment effort that led roughly 20 young Americans to join a violent insurgent group in Somalia with ties to Al Qaeda.

With eight new suspects charged Monday, the authorities have implicated 14 people in the case, one of the most extensive domestic terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11 attacks. Some of them have been arrested; others are at large, including several believed to be still fighting with the Somali group, Al Shabab.
The case represents the largest group of American citizens suspected of joining an extremist movement affiliated with Al Qaeda, senior officials said. Many of the recruits had come to America as young refugees fleeing a brutal civil war, only to settle in a gang-ridden enclave of Minneapolis.


Friday, November 13, 2009

How mosques suffocate churches in Egypt

A Christian "dreaming" of building a church in Egypt must adhere to the ten stringent conditions laid by the Ezaby Pasha along the Hamayouni decree(Ottoman Empire-laid rules for building Churches), and may even have to seek the consent of the street stall radish seller in the vicinity !!

Simply put, building of churches in Egypt is almost impossible.
Amongst the conditions of Ezaby Pasha is one which stipulates that the church may not to be built in the vicinity of a mosque, as "churches are houses of sin and shirk" !!. Mosques, however, may be built at will, adjacent to any church, suffocating the Church and the Churchgoers physically and mentally, and ironically, it is called "national unity" between Muslims and Christians with hollow slogans of "Long live Egypt", "Long live national unity", but you would be crazy to believe it works both ways and that building a church next to the mosque is considered "national unity" too!!.

It is common that you will see the Muslim call of prayer coming out of 6 loud speakers in a mosque directed at the adjacent church, just to annoy Christian worshipers during their prayers, specially during Sunday liturgy

Take for instance the Church of the martyr "Abu Kastor" in Berdanoha of Matai, an ancient church dating back to the second century AD where the Muslims built a new mosque adjacent to and facing the old church Martyr "Abu Kastor" was born in the town of Berdanoha in 195 A.D. SO, and the church is one of the most ancient churches in Egypt and the world. However, like other Coptic villages which suffer from the persecution by the majority, Muslims did not find any other a place to build a mosque except adjacent to an archaic Church, and they built one about a year ago and proceeded to install six loud speakers and directed them towards the "infidels" and their church !!. Another way of Jihad by "Noise" which result in stopping prayers at the Church with the speakers broadcasting the Koran continuously, especially when Christians go to church to attend Mass.

And the Copts have no right to express their indignation and rage, for as they would be considered traitors of the cause of "national unity ".... of course!!

It is worth mentioning that the Christians of the village have been applying to get a building permit to add a services building to the church for twenty years, but alas, the rule of "national unity" stood in the way.

This is Egypt, the country of faith and of worshipers, although it depends whom you worship.

The first Christian satellite television channel in Egypt began broadcasting

Aghapy Television was established by the Coptic Christian church, the main church in Egypt.

Copts make up an estimated 10% of the Egyptian population and they complain of discrimination.

Three people died in Alexandria in October after Muslim demonstrators attacked a church which had put on a play seen as offensive to Islam.

Aghapy TV is the first ever television channel in Egypt to broadcast programmes with a purely Christian outlook.

The Coptic channel will carry church services, family programmes and documentaries about ancient monasteries.

But some here are worried that the presence of a Coptic channel may exacerbate the tensions between Muslims and Christians which periodically flare up into violence, says the BBC’s Heba Saleh in Cairo.


The bishop in charge of Aghapy TV says the channel will not carry anything that could upset Muslims.

The aim, he says, is to provide a link with the church to all those Copts who may not have access to a place of worship or who live abroad, but in the current volatile atmosphere many will be watching closely to see if the new channel gives offence in any way.

Last month three people were killed when Muslims tried to storm a church in Alexandria because a play had been performed there two years earlier which was deemed offensive to Islam.

Egyptian Christians complain of discrimination in employment and of restrictions on the construction of churches.

The violence in Alexandria prompted an unusually frank debate in the press, with many commentators accusing the government of ignoring the festering problems between the two communities.

According to a new report on religious freedom in Egypt says Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the 80 million population (CIA factbook), face major rights violations and are being increasingly persecuted. 

The quarterly 36-page report (see Arabic version) by independent rights organization the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), said the government denies Copts the right to build churches or pray at home.

It said the homes of some Copts, particularly in southern Egypt, were demolished or closed because the government suspected them of being clandestine churches, and that physical attacks against Copts had continued over the past three months, with at least three losing their lives.

According to EIPR, there are an average of four attacks against Copts every month; there have been 144 attacks nationwide over the past three years.

Muslim Extremists Attack Worship Service in Uganda

About 40 Muslim extremists with machetes and clubs tried to break into a Sunday worship service outside Uganda’s capital city of Kampala on Nov. 1, leaving a member of the congregation with several injuries and damaging the church building.
Eyewitnesses said the extremist mob tried to storm into World Possessor’s Church International in Namasuba at 11 a.m. as the church worshiped.

“The church members were taken by a big surprise, as this happened during worship time,” said Pastor Henry Zaake. “It began with an unusual noise coming from outside, and soon I saw the bricks falling away one by one. Immediately I knew that it was an attack from the Muslims who had earlier sent signals of an imminent attack.”

The pastor said the disturbance brought the worship service to a standstill.
“There was a tug-of-war at the entrance to the church as members tried to thwart the Muslim aggression from making headway inside the church,” he told Compass.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Somali Group threatens Israel

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to control the east African country, accused Israel of "starting to destroy" the Al Aqsa mosque, where standoffs have taken place recently between Israeli police and Palestinians. The mosque is part of the complex that Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call Haram al-Sharif.

"The Jews started to destroy parts of the holy mosque of Al Aqsa and they routinely kill our Palestinian brothers, so we are committed to defend our Palestinian brothers," said Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, a prominent Al-Shabab commander.

His threat was part of a series of fiery sermons delivered after Friday prayers in Baidoa in southwest Somalia. Al-Shabab controls the region, which is part of a country that has been without an effective national government for nearly 20 years.

Other leaders of the group also threatened Israel, the first time the group is known to have done so.

"We will transfer and expand our fighting in the Middle East so we can defend Al Aqsa mosque from the Israelis," Al-Shabab commander Abdifatah Aweys Abu Hamza said in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.


Egyptian Christians hide in homes

Egyptian security forces have intensified their presence in the Upper Egyptian town of Dairout, in anticipation of a recurrence of Muslim violence against Christians. Copts expressed their fear over leaflets entitled "These have to Die!" which are being distributed to all Muslims in Dairout and neighborhoods, enticing them to "burn, vandalize and clean the country of these evil immoral infidels."

Reports from Dairout, 313 km south of Cairo, confirm that Christian Copts are afraid to leave their homes and have stayed indoors since violence against them erupted on October 24, 2009. This collective punishment of Copts was caused by an illicit sexual relationship between a Muslim girl, Hagger Hassouna, and the Christian Romany Farouk Attallah. It was rumored that he sent videos of them intimately together to cell phones in Dairout before fleeing. This prompted the Hassouna family to kill his father, Farouk Attallah, on October 19, 2009, in revenge. Four of the Hassouna killers were detained by prosecution, leading to Muslim riots against the Copts