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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ethiopian Muslims warn Christians to convert, leave city or face death


International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christians in the Ethiopian city of Besheno are being harassed and physically abused after Muslims posted notices on the doors of Christian homes warning them to convert, leave the city or face death.

Three Christian leaders were forced to flee the city and two Christians have been forced to convert to Islam. In the Muslim majority city, the entire evangelical Christian community consists of about 30 believers.

Evangelist Kassa Awano remains in critical condition after Muslims attacked him on November 29, 2010. A few days after the attack, nearly 100 Muslims surrounded a vehicle carrying Christian leaders on their way to negotiate for peace with Muslim leaders. Two men, Tesema Hirego and Niggusie Denano, were seriously wounded, and the other leaders suffered minor injuries. On January 2, Muslims assaulted Temesgen Peteros with a knife after he testified about the attacks on these Christians in court.

Christians in Besheno have been targeted by Muslims for many years. On May 21, 2004, Muslims murdered the 7 year-old daughter of Evangelist Tesfaye Hobe. Muslims continuously attack Christians for listening to Christian songs and watching Christian videos.

"We ask for our constitutional right [to freedom of religion] to be respected. We want this inhumane act to stop. We are unable to live in our own city due to the inhumane acts," one of the Christian leaders who fled the city told ICC.

The local Muslim officials of the city refuse to protect the Christians. The officials ignore their appeals for justice, declining repeated requests for the building of a place of worship and a cemetery. On January 19, a Christian mother was forced to bury her deceased daughter in a town more than 20 miles from Besheno, due to the absence of a cemetery for Christians.

Besheno is a city located in the province of Alaba in Southern Ethiopia. According to the 2007 national census, 93.84% of the population of the province is Muslim. Christians make up 5.82 % of the population.

"We are alarmed by the posting of threats on Christian homes and the attacks against Christians in Besheno. We urge Ethiopian officials to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice, protect the Christians from further attacks and grant them permits to build a place of worship as well as a cemetery," said Jonathan Racho, ICC's Regional Manager for Africa.

Jihad defeated in Sudan


The residents of South Sudan have voted almost unanimously in favor of secession. President Omar Bashir has said that he would react to the new country’s creation by modifying Sudan’s constitution so that Sharia is the only law of the land and Arabic the only language. The U.S. has a potential new ally in South Sudan, but the Bashir regime is now more radicalized and will try to undermine its neighbors with the help of Islamist allies.

Faith McDonnell, the Director of Religious Liberty Programs and Church Alliance for a New Sudan at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, told FrontPage that South Sudan will be a pro-Western secular democracy with religious freedom.

“South Sudan’s independence means that a people who fought against jihad and forced Islamization/Arabization have won. They have rolled back the plan to impose Sharia, they have refused to be dhimmis, at great coast,” McDonnell said.

President Bashir says that his country will now be based strictly on Sharia law, a move intended to appease the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic forces inside his country that have turned on him. His former ally, Hasan al-Turabi, was arrested shortly following the referendum after he said the government could be overthrown as has just happened in Tunisia. An estimated 300 supporters of al-Turabi protested his arrest and were dispersed by the security forces.

The internal opposition that the Bashir regime faces is forcing it to take an aggressive stance. A successful South Sudan will inspire the opposition that exists throughout the country, especially the youth who “hate the regime and want freedom and democracy,” McDonnell said. The Sudanese regime should be expected to undermine its new neighbor through the use of non-state actors and possibly direct confrontation.

Bashir has already said war would erupt if the tribes of the oil-rich Abyei Province declared they are joining the South. The province’s vote on whether to become part of the new country has been delayed because of disputes over voter eligibility and those disputes could result in fighting. The Bashir regime is also unlikely to allow the crucial province to leave. It has also warned of war if South Sudan harbors militants fighting in Darfur, setting up a possible pretext for confrontation.

South Sudan as its independence is seen as a theft of Muslim land by the West. It is not inconceivable that the Bashir regime will ally with these terrorists as it has done so in the past to undermine South Sudan and please al-Turabi and the like. In fact, an intelligence report from 2006 claimed that about 15 members of Al-Qaeda were training the regime-sponsored Janjaweed militia in Darfur.

Bashir’s Sudan will also become even closer to Iran, which is eager to extend its reach into East Africa. The Iranian regime opposed the referendum and said it would help Sudan ensure its territorial integrity. Bashir can count on Iran to help him undermine South Sudan as it stands in the way of the Islamic Revolution.

The Iranians have grown closer to Eritrea and an expanded presence in Sudan would allow Iran to threaten the Red Sea shipping lanes and the Arabian Peninsula from the west side. Egypt could also be pressured from the south. In April 2009, the Mubarak regime arrested about 50 Hezbollah operatives planning to attack an Israeli site in the country. The interrogations revealed that they planned to send other members to Sudan for training in suicide bombing and other terrorist tactics.

Sudan is also sponsoring Hamas. In January 2009, the regime admitted that a truck convoy that was bombed by the Israelis was transporting Iranian arms to Hamas. The Revolutionary Guards had been managing the supply line from Port Sudan. An opposition newspaper has reported that the Revolutionary Guards is running a factory in Khartoum that is making weapons for Hamas, the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, and unidentified militants in Somalia. The deputy-editor of the newspaper was arrested after the story broke.

The Bashir regime may also be trying to build nuclear weapons or at least assist Iran in doing so. Since at least 1998, it has been known that an Iranian-owned company in Khartoum was acquiring nuclear technology. It is no coincidence that Ayatollah Khamenei was in Sudan when he stated in 2006 that Iran would share nuclear technology with Islamic countries. Khartoum has since officially told the IAEA that it is beginning a nuclear energy program and would build its first reactor by 2020. Agents of the regime have reportedly tried to make contact with the remnants of the A.Q. Khan network over the past year. This is made all the more dangerous by Bashir’s decision to make Sudan a state based solely on Sharia law.

The new country of South Sudan offers the West an opportunity to have an ally to counter Iran’s bloc in East Africa. It will come under attack from a Bashir regime that must not allow it to succeed and terrorists that see its creation as part of a Zionist plot against Islam. The largely Christian and African state of South Sudan will need the West’s help in defending itself against the Islamists, but how far the U.S. is willing to go to provide it remains to be seen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The War against the Christians

By Clifford D. May for the NATIONAL REVIEW

Imagine if Muslims in Europe were being arrested for nothing more than peacefully practicing their religion. Imagine if Muslims in South America were being sentenced to death for “insulting” Jesus. Imagine if mosques were being bombed and burned by terrorists in a growing list of Christian-majority countries.

Now here’s what you don’t need to imagine because it is all too real: In recent days, Christian churches have been bombed in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, and the Philippines. In Indonesia a mob of 1,000 Muslims burned down two Christian churches because, according to one commentator, local Islamic authorities determined there were “too many faithful and too many prayers.” In Iran, scores of Christians have been arrested. In Pakistan, a Christian woman received the death penalty for the “crime” of insulting Islam; the governor of Punjab promised to pardon her — and was then assassinated for the “crime” of blasphemy.

I could provide dozens more examples of the persecution and, in many cases, “cleansing” of Christians in what we have come to call the Muslim world. If the situation were reversed, if such a war were being waged against Muslims, it would be the top story in every newspaper, the most urgent item at the U.N., the highest priority of all the big-league human-rights groups.

What we have instead is denial. I cited some of the above examples on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Power and Politics program last week. In response, Prof. Janice Stein of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto insisted that these dots do not connect. The assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, she said, should be viewed as the consequence of Pakistan’s “terrible distribution of wealth.” Class conflict, not religious extremism, she added, is the correct explanation for the tragedy.

I noted that 500 Pakistani religious scholars not only justified the killing of Taseer; they praised his killer’s “courage” and religious zeal, and said he had made Muslims proud around the world. They warned that anyone attending Taseer’s funeral, praying for him, or expressing grief over his death would deserve the same fate he suffered.

The assailant who gunned down Taseer — Mumtaz Qadri, one of his own bodyguards — exulted afterward: “I have killed a blasphemer!” He did not say: “I have killed a member of the bourgeoisie!”

Professor Stein spoke, too, of the “conflict” between Muslims and Christians in Egypt as though both were equally to blame when, in fact, it is clearly Egypt’s ancient but diminishing Coptic community that is under siege with little means to defend itself, much less to wage a campaign of reciprocal oppression. 

I offered a similar analysis on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox last week, prompting Media Matters and several other left-wing blogs to accuse me of attempting to start a religious war. These bloggers failed to mention that those attacking Christians call themselves “jihadis” — meaning warriors who fight for Islam. The crowds that gathered in front of the destroyed Egyptian church shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — “Allah is greatest!”  Is this message really so hard to interpret?

Apparently so. Investor’s Business Daily recently quoted James Zogby, head of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “The guy who gets up on the plane and says ‘Allah!’ or whatever and then blows the plane up is not making a statement about his faith,” Zogby told congressional staffers. He added that it’s like a Christian hitting his thumb with a hammer and exclaiming “Jesus Christ.” Commented IBD: “The comparison is absurd. Muslims say ‘Allah is greatest’ to exalt their God. When Christians mutter ‘Jesus Christ,’ they in contrast are taking their Lord’s name in vain. There’s no corresponding ‘Jesus Christ is greatest!’”

Zogby is an intelligent man. He must be aware that hateful, oppressive, and terrorist religious ideologies have sprouted like weeds in the broader Middle East and that their seeds have now spread from Europe to Africa to the Americas. I suspect he fears that acknowledging that fact will lead to prejudice against all Muslims and Arabs.

He’s wrong: It is not lost on me and others that Salman Taseer was himself a Muslim and that other Pakistani Muslims defied the extremists by attending the governor’s funeral — though few of Pakistan’s political leaders were bold enough to take that risk.

There is abundant evidence to suggest that most Muslims do not want to live under al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, or Hamas rulers. They do not want to live under a mullahocracy. I remain convinced that most Muslims do not want to be at war with the West — with Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others.

Which leads to this question: How do moderate and tolerant Muslims fight the tyrants within their community? How do they avoid being killed if they dare speak up in defense of their own freedom and rights — much less in defense of religious minorities, ethnic minorities, and women?

We cannot possibly come up with an adequate answer so long as we refuse to look reality in the eye. And the reality is this: Within the Muslim world today are regimes, movements, and individuals convinced that their religion justifies — and benefits from — the most heinous atrocities. They are determined, ruthless, and lethal — as Christians and other minorities across a broad swath of the world have been finding out.

If we in the West fail even to speak up for them, can we really expect moderate Muslims to do more?


Somali women say Islamists becoming more draconian


Women living in areas controlled by Somalia's Islamists say they are increasingly the target of more draconian rules meted out by the rebels bent on enforcing their ideologies.

In the latest decree by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group that governs most of southern Somalia, women in the seaside town of Kismayu have been banned from carrying out barter trade with the male crews of ships calling at the port.

The women have also been told they cannot shake any male's hands in public, travel on their own, sell anything or work in an office.

"A woman cannot be seen with a man from another country at the port. The punishment for any woman caught near the port or foreign vessels will be arrest," a senior al Shabaab commander said in a statement this week.

The al Shabaab group -- which means "the youth" in Arabic -- have in the past banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and watching soccer.

Many Kismayu women, mostly widowed or divorced, have survived for years solely from selling or bartering vegetables and fruits for fuel and other commodities from ship crews.

"I have three children and raise them from the little I earn from exchanging goods at the seaport, but now I can't do my job," Hawa Olow told Reuters in a telephone conversation.

Al Shabaab has also prescribed that the women must buy and wear uniform robes that only it supplies.


It has banned khat, a mild stimulant popular with men in the Horn of Africa. Dozens of women in Kismayu caught smuggling khat have been sentenced to 20-day jail terms and fined one million Somalia shillings.

"During the war we used to have a life and a little peace. Now Islamists control much of the south and mete out punishments for the slightest thing. They say women should do nothing," one khat seller told Reuters.

"Some women have no husbands, they are single or divorced or their men died fighting. It is totally destroying life."

Women cannot sit next to a man in a bus and have to be accompanied by a male relative when travelling.

"We have been born and raised as Muslims and we don't know where Islam says women can't work. They have taken these ideologies from outside Somalia, from the Taliban and other militants," said Abdiwahab Abdi Samad, professor of history at the University of Nairobi in neighbouring Kenya.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jihad against non-Muslims

Translated from Arabic, 8 Jan 2011

"Offensive Jihad Is Permissible to Secure Islam's Borders, to Extend God's Religion, Remove Every Religion but Islam from the Arabian Peninsula" is listed as the 6th most popular Islamic website in the world. And yet, Western apologists of Islam assure us that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful, and that Islam rejects offensive jihad. (See Original Arabic here.) Fighting Against Non-Muslims -- Legitimacy and Rulings

Q: When is it permissible to fight against non-Muslims, and when is it not permissible? Please elaborate.

Mufti: Dr. 'Imad Mustafa, Professor of Fiqh and Its Origins, at the Universities of al-Azhar and Umm al-Qary

In the name of God, praise be to God, and prayers and peace be upon the prophet of God, etc.:

Fighting against non-Muslims is what is known in Islamic jurisprudence as Jihad in the path of God. Jihad is a prescribed duty in cases of aggression from the infidels against Muslims, for we must resist them, make jihad against them, and defend against them. This is according to the text of the Qur'an, for Almighty God has said: "Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors" (Qur'an 2:190). This type of jihad is known as defensive jihad, and it is a duty agreed to by all Islamic scholars and all who are wise, and is endorsed in our day by recognized international charters. However, the occupier and his associates have come to label this "terrorism."

Then there is another type of fighting against the non-Muslims known as offensive jihad. Islamic scholars have differed on the issue of offensive jihad, which is to pursue the infidels into their own land without any aggression or assistance to him. Some scholars have gone as far to say that this jihad is illegitimate, while others have gone as far as to say that it is legitimate and even required.

However there can be no disagreement that offensive jihad is not totally prohibited, for two schools [of Islamic jurisprudence] have ruled that offensive jihad is permissible in order to secure Islam's border, to extend God's religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it, such as the Pharaoh did with the children of Israel, and to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula, and to save the captive and weak.

Egyptian train shooter yelled "Allahu akbar!" as he fired


A gunman shouting "Allahu akbar" and checking wrists for Coptic cross tattoos will tend to raise questions like that. "Cairo protests against the Vatican. Another Christian killed and five wounded," from AsiaNews, January 12:
The very day Egypt recalls its ambassador to the Holy See over the Pope's declarations of solidarity with Copts, another attack, in all likelihood inspired by Islamic fundamentalism, has resulted in on Christian dead and five people wounded in the land of the Pyramids. Yesterday Cairo recalled its ambassador for consultations. The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hossam Zaki, said that the recall is the result of "new statements by the Vatican that affect the internal affairs of Egypt, and that Egypt considers an unacceptable interference in its internal affairs." A Vatican source told Agence France Presse that the move "does not constitute a break in diplomatic relations."

He called for the protection of the Copts. Egypt has certainly paid lip service to doing just that, so he has not called for anything they don't claim to be doing. All he did was dare to state the obvious: that all is not well.

In a statement, the Vatican said it "fully supports" the will of the Egyptian government to "avoid an escalation of tensions for religious reasons ... and appreciates the governments efforts in this direction." The statement follows a meeting between the Vatican's "foreign minister", Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, and the Egyptian ambassador, Lamia Aly Hamada Mekhemar, who in turn said she was "expressing the concerns of his government in this difficult time." The Vatican press release concludes by saying that during his meeting with Msgr. Mamberti Mrs. Mekhemar "receive dinformation and gather necessary details to be able to report the Pope's recent intervention, particularly on religious freedom and protection of Christians in the Middle East, properly."

Meanwhile, another serious incident occurred on the railway line linking Cairo to Assiut. A police officer, Amer Abdel Zaher Ashur, took the train to Salamut, about 200 km south of Cairo, and opened fire with his police weapon. He killed a 71 year old Coptic Christian, Fathi Said Ebeid, and wounded his wife of 61 and four others. Medical sources say that all the wounded, two of them in serious condition, are Christians. A police officer who was not in uniform tried to flee but was arrested in the station. He was questioned about the motives for his attack, but the investigators are maintaining secrecy on the outcome of the interview. Ayman Mohyeldin, Cairo correspondent for Al Jazeera, said that the authorities do not seem eager to disclose the reasons for the attack. "The bombing of Alexandria is on everyone's mind. There will be many questions whether the Salamut attack has religious roots. "

Bishop Morcos, bishop of the Coptic Church in Salamut, claims to have spoken to some witnesses of the attack. "This madman went back and forth on the train looking for Christians. Seeing a group of women and girls who were not wearing a veil, he thought they were Christian and fired, shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great). " Following a few hundred Copts gathered in front of the Good Shepherd Hospital in Salamut, where the injured are hospitalized, and clashed with police, who responded with tear gas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nigerian Muslims kill 18 Christians


Eighteen persons have been confirmed killed in an attack launched early this morning on four villages near Jos. The police confirmed the attack and the number of deaths, saying the attackers came in military uniforms.

The villages attacked include Nyarwai, Fagawang, Ding, in Barkin Ladi LG and Kuru Tasha in Riyom LG.  A police bulletin signed by ASP Sieon Obinna confirming the deaths said three persons were killed in Nyarwai while 11 houses were burnt, two others were killed in Fagawang with three others injured and three houses burnt while in Ding, three houses and a church were burnt and at Kuru Tasha 13 persons were killed.

Egyptian police clash with Coptic protesters

Al-MASRY Al-YOUM (Egypt)

Egyptian police on Tuesday fired tear gas to disperse Coptic Christian demonstrators protesting the killing of a 71-year-old Coptic man by a gunman who boarded a train in Upper Egypt and opened fire on Christian commuters, eyewitness said.

A Muslim policeman began shooting passengers aboard a Cairo-Aswan train as it entered Minya's Samalut Train Station en route to the capital, killing Fathi Ghattas and injuring five other Christians. A Samalut Train Station official said the incident occurred at 5:35 PM.

Eyewitnesses told Al-Masry Al-Youm that angry Christian protesters had hurled stones at security forces stationed outside Salamut's Good Shepherd Hospital, where injured victims are currently being treated. Some of the tear gas fired by police wafted into the hospital, eyewitnesses said.

Several local Coptic clergymen attempted to calm angry protesters in an effort to avert further escalation.

Hospital Director Mariam Salah said hospital officials had admitted five people suffering injuries.

10 south Sudanese killed at north border


Armed Misseriya Arab tribesmen killed 10 south Sudanese civilians and wounded 18 near the border as they were returning from the north, southern internal affairs minister Gier Chuang said Tuesday as the landmark independence vote went into a third day with large crowds again forming outside polling stations.

"A convoy of returnees coming from the north to the south were ambushed on Monday by armed Misseriya. Ten were killed and 18 were wounded," Chuang told a news conference, according to AFP.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Online petition for the Christians of Egypt

A letter to the World Leaders. Please sign and help us get 500 thousand more signatures. After we achieve a large number of signatures, the letter will be printed with all signatures and sent to each Effective Leader in the Western World. For example, in Canada, it will be addressed to the Prime Minister, in the U.S . to the President Obama and Congressional leaders and it will be hand delivered by one of our representatives.

For: The Blood of the Christians of Egypt (the Copts)
To: The International Community, The U.N. Seceratary General, World Leaders

For 27 years, the current regime has used religion to further its grip on power. As puppeteers, our government is pining Muslims (85% of the population) against Christians. While talented and educated, Christians and Muslims have not been able to realize their full potential. As a result, recent years have witnessed radical islamic movements escalate the tension, to the point of calling for “Jihad” against non-Muslims in the world in general (recall the 911 attacks on US soil), and against Christians in Egypt.

The recent heinous attacks on the churches in Iraq (57 dead), Naga-Hammadi (7 dead), and Alexandria (23 dead), just to mention a few, are undeniable facts that radical Islamic militants are on the rise and corrupt regime give them breeding ground.

We are now standing together, shoulder to shoulder, Muslims and Christians alike, and ask for your help. We are asking that the International Community, the U.N, the U.S. Congress, the European Union, and all other freedom loving nations exert pressure on the Egyptian President Mubarak to take the following actions:

1- Allow for an investigation that is monitored by an international organization of the Alexandria Church attack to find out who the actual perpetrators are, and bring them to justice. Please note that immediately after the attack, and without any fact gathering efforts, members of the Egyptian government pointed fingers to ‘foreign elements’.

2- The immediate arrest and trial of Mohamed Salim El Awaa who has been documented to propagate and incite hatred and violence all over Egyptian media which resulted in the latest attacks on Coptic Churches.

3- The immediate firing of the Minister of Interior who not only failed to protect Christians, but also is responsible for the killing of two protestors in Al Umraniah three weeks prior. Under his watch security forces have beaten protesters, attacked and assaulted women, and rigged elections.

4- The passing of, and without delay, the “Unified Law for Building Places of Worship” so Christians can build badly needed places of worship.

5- The immediate arrest and trial of those security forces responsible for the killing of Copts in Al Umraniah, as well as those responsible for the killing of Copts in Naga-Hammadi, El Kosheh, Abu Kurkas and many other areas where Christians fell victims to religious violence.

6- The passing of, and without delay, the “Anti Discrimination Law” and making it a crime to discriminate based on religion, color, gender, race/ethnicity, national origin, disability, or age.

7- Changing the elections laws so that parliamentary elections are ran by ‘A List’ rather than the current system to allow all Egyptians to have representations of their parliament, instead of the current one party system.

8- Modifying all public education material including the removal of all mandated Islamic texts for non-Muslims, and religious hatred and incitement against Christians, Jews, Bahaiis, or any other sects, and replacing this material with topics that teach children the values of democracy, human rights, religious freedom, openness, and diversity.

9- In accordance to the constitution the above will not be possible to enforce in the Egyptian courts without, modifying the second article of the Egyptian constitution which contradicts the civil liberty and rights of all non-Muslims in Egypt.

In short we are asking for basic human rights, equality, and prosperity for all Egyptians living side by side in a democratic and free country. We are confident that if Egypt becomes a democratic and fair country, the entire world will benefit from what the Egyptians can offer.

Click here to sign the petition

Worst persecutors of Christians 2011

International Christian Concern (ICC) has released its annual Hall of Shame report, a list of the globe’s worst persecutors of Christians in 2010.

Islamic fundamentalism has replaced Communism as today’s number one persecutor of Christians. Iraq and Egypt have been added to the list this year due to a substantial increase in anti-Christian violence. One of 2010’s worst attacks occurred in a Baghdad church on October 31 and left more than 50 worshippers dead. The next day, Al-Qaeda declared Christians throughout the Middle East as legitimate targets for the Mujahedin, or Holy Warriors. Since the declaration, Christians have been murdered almost weekly and thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes, adding to the largest exodus of Christians in modern history.

Egypt, more than any country outside of Iraq, has suffered the most from the Al-Qaeda threat. Religious tensions were inflamed early this year when six Coptic Christians in Naga Hammadi were shot dead in January. Anti-Christian demonstrations – inflamed by Muslim propaganda – followed. On November 24th, Egyptian security opened fire with live ammunition on Christian protestors in Giza, killing two people. The attacks on Copts have continued into the new year. On January 1, a suicide bomber murdered 21 Christians outside a church in Alexandria.

The other countries ranked in this year’s report remain on the top persecutor list from last year, having made little to no progress in religious freedom. They include North Korea, Eritrea, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, India, Vietnam, Nigeria and China.

Jeff King, ICC’s president, said, "In compiling the report, it was striking to see the rate at which Christian persecution has accelerated around the globe, especially in the Islamic world. Anti-Christian hatred arising from Islam has flowed into 2011, as seen in the horrific attacks in Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq already this year. Constant vigilance is needed in the struggle to defend the fundamental human right of religious freedom. Those of us fortunate to live in countries that grant religious freedom must not forget nor neglect the plight of Christians who are condemned by extremist ideology or government tyranny to suffer – or die – for their faith."

Countries to watch:

1.Iraq Iran
8.North Korea


Islamists in Somalia ban handshakes between men and women

Al-Qaida-linked militants in war-torn southern Somalia have banned unrelated men and women from shaking hands, speaking or walking together in public, residents said Saturday. People who break the rules could be imprisoned, whipped or even executed.

The insurgents already have banned women from working in public, leaving many mothers with a terrible choice: risk execution by going to sell some tea or vegetables in the marketplace, or stay safely at home and watch the children slowly starve.

"It's an awful rule. I feel like I'm under arrest. I've started to ignore the greetings of the women I know to avoid punishment," Hussein Ali said by phone form [sic] the southern Somali town of Jowhar. The edict is also being enforced in the town of Elasha.

Gunmen are searching buses for improperly dressed women or women traveling alone, said student Hamdi Osman in Elasha. She said she was once beaten for wearing Somali traditional dress instead of the long, shapeless black robes favored by the fighters.

The Islamists' insistence that women wear the long, heavy robes also forces many women to stay at home because they can't afford the new clothing....

The insurgents even control parts of the capital, brazenly carrying out amputations, whippings and stonings in public places. The list of forbidden things differs from town to town and commander to commander.

In Jowhar, the insurgents are now also insisting that men grow their beards but shave their mustaches, said another resident, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

The Islamists have also banned the cinema, music, and bras because they say they are all un-Islamic. Such restrictions are influenced by foreign fighters practicing Wahhabi Islam, which is much stricter than Somalia's traditional Sufi Islam that incorporates a long tradition of poetry and song.

"The last time I listened a song or music, was two years ago, before the insurgents managed the full control of my village," said Bile Hassan. Now, he says, even the memory of music makes him feel afraid.

Monday, January 3, 2011

80 East African migrants feared drowned


As many as 80 African migrants, mostly Ethiopians, were feared drowned after two boats capsized off the coast of south Yemen, the interior ministry said on Monday.

"The accident was caused by high winds and a tsunami which capsized the two boats taking them towards the coast," it said in a statement, quoting the coast guard in the southern port city of Aden.

One boat with 46 migrants, most of them Ethiopians, "capsized in a coastal region ... of Taez province, with all those on board drowning except for three Somalis who survived", it said.

Another boat carrying "between 35 to 40 people, all of the Ethiopians and among them women and children" went down off the coast of another southern province, Lahij, the ministry said.

"Their fate is not yet known," it said, adding that a search was underway but without specifying what day the incidents took place.

Each year tens of thousands of Ethiopians and Somalis make the perilous crossing to Yemen in the hope of escaping the economic deprivation, persecution and conflicts of their home countries.

Many die on board often overcrowded and rotten small boats, while others, already weakened by long journeys from the hinterland to the coast, die at the hands of ruthless smugglers.

The migrants generally slip by boat into the south of Yemen, itself one of the world's poorest countries, before heading towards the border with oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said last April that the exodus of Somalis across the Gulf of Aden had slowed dramatically since the start of 2010, despite recurring violence in Somalia.

Nigeria's Christians condemn ongoing attacks

The largest Christian body in Nigeria issued a statement Friday that condemned the recent attacks against Christians that began Christmas weekend.

In the past week, six people were killed in assaults on churches in the northern town of Maiduguri on Christmas Eve and a series of bombings in Jos killed at least 32 people the same day. But sectarian conflicts that resulted from the Jos bombings have raised the death toll to more than 80 people.

On Thursday, another eight people were killed, including three policemen, by suspected Islamists in Maiduguri.

"These acts of violence and arson against peace loving and law abiding Christians and our churches ... must stop now as churches are not political/party offices," stated the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a statement.

The group added, "There is a limit to human tolerance.”


Pope Shenouda mulls canceling Christmas celebrations

Pope Shenouda ended his spiritual mediation at St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi Notroun to go back to the Cathedral's headquarters in Abbasiya on Sunday, meanwhile mulling whether or not to cancel Coptic Christmas celebrations.

Some church leaders requested that the Jan. 7 Coptic Christmas celebrations be cancelled after the bombing of a church in Alexandria that left 21 dead and 97 injured.

The Pope met on Sunday the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and Minister of Religious Endowments Hamdy Zaqzouq.

The Pope has not yet made a final decision regarding Christmas celebrations, while some church leaders think it is necessary to hold the celebration on time.

"The Pope will meet with church officials to address the incident and to reach a final decision regarding the cancellation of the celebrations," the sources added.

Bishop Basanti of Helwan and Maasara told Daily News Egypt that there is a disagreement among church leaders over the possible cancellation.

"The Pope is investigating the matter, and he will take the final decision."


Egyptian security guards withdrew one hour before Church blast


The car explosion that went off in front of Saints Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria killed 21 and injured 96 parishioners who were attending a New Year's Eve Mass. According to church officials and eyewitnesses, there are many more victims that are still unidentified and whose body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants (video showing dead bodies and limbs covered with newspapers in the street).

According to eyewitnesses, a green Skoda car pull up outside the church shortly after midnight. Two men got out , one of them talked shortly on his mobile phone, and the explosion occurred almost immediately after they left the scene. On the back of the Skoda was a sticker with the words "the rest is coming" (video of car explosion and Muslims shouting "Allah Akbar").

It was reported that the bomb, locally made, had 100KG of explosives in addition to having nails, glass and iron balls inside. The strength of it not only caused glass panes to be shattered in all the neighborhood, but also made body parts fly into the building's fourth floor, and to the mosque facing the church.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but officials hastily blamed either Al-Qaida or the Israeli Mousad of being behind the blast, but none of them mentioned the Egyptian state security which is viewed by Copts as the real culprit.

To clear his security forces of negligence, the Minister of Interior said that the blast was an "individual" case, caused by a single suicide terrorist detonating his vest, and has nothing to do with an exploding car. The governor of Alexandria claimed the attack as being aimed at Muslims and Christians alike.

After the blast, traumatized Copts were angered by chants of "Allah Akbar" from Muslims and began hurling stones at the mosque. Immediately security forces which were absent during the car blast and the ensuing events, appeared and starting shooting tear gas at the Copts, and they in turn hurled stones at them, said an eyewitness. Fifteen Copts were rounded up from their homes by the authorities....

Eyewitnesses confirmed that security forces guarding the church withdrew nearly one hour before the blast, leaving only four policemen and an officer to guard such a big church and nearly 2000 people attending the midnight mass. "Normally they would have waited until the mass was over," said el-Gezeiry. He also commented on the Muslim's schadenfreude at the massacre at the church, who were heard chanting "Allah Akbar."...

On January 6 2010, just before the Christmas Eve Massacre in Nag Hammadi, security withdrew its forces from guarding the church a couple of hours before the shooting of the Coptic congregation took place.

Attorney Mamdouh Nakhla, Head of Al-Kalema Human Rights Center, wondered if state security is an accomplice or just too cowardly to confront the Islamists in Egypt who carried out the Church massacre. "The crime is local and those who committed it are known, in addition there was a demonstration on the same day using the same rhetoric like al-Qaida. The Al Mujahedeen website threatens to repeat the attack in more churches. The site has addresses of churches and even how to make a bomb. Does security not know about it?"

"Anyone who says that it was a foreign or Israeli plot is trying to play down the crime and is trying to clear those murderers of this massacre, and I consider them their accomplices," said Nakhla.

Nakhla said that he was preparing a complaint to be presented to President Mubarak asking for the resignation of Interior Minister Habib el Adly for failing in his duty of protecting the Copts, and for not telling the truth by saying that it was a suicide attack by one individual, when everyone could see the detonated car, just to clear his security personnel of the responsibility of letting the Skoda park in front of the church. "This 100KG bomb could not have been transported by one individual as the Interior Minister wants us to believe."...