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Friday, April 29, 2011

USCIRF identifies world’s worst religious freedom violators: Egypt cited for first time

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released its 2011 Annual Report and recommended that the Secretary of State name the following nations “countries of particular concern” or CPCs:, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Burma, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

For the first time, USCIRF recommended that Egypt be designated a CPC.

“CPCs are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers," said USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo. “In the case of Egypt, instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice.  Consequently, USCIRF recommends CPC designation for Egypt.”

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Copts demand return of missing Christian girls

ALMASRYALYOUM

Dozens of Copts staged a protest on Thursday in front of Egypt’s High Court, demanding the return of a number of Christian girls they describe as “disappeared".

A number of Coptic lawyers have submitted a report to the attorney general requesting that the minister of interior, Mansour al-Essawy, establish the location of eleven Christian girls who they say have disappeared since the 25 January revolution.

Demonstrators, including the families of the missing girls, also demanded that the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, help locate the girls.

A statement by a Coptic group called the Maspero Youth Union denounced the “kidnapping" of Christian girls, giving the names of some of the lost females.

According to the statement, they include Heba Iskandar, who disappeared from Maadi along with her children, Heba Adel, who has been lost since 6 April after driving her son to school, and Maryam George Boqtor, who was lost with her children while buying them clothes before Easter celebrations.

Feuds have been raging between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts over the past few years concerning converts on both sides, with each camp accusing the other of forcing people, particularly females, to change their faith.

The latest case of this type was that of Kamilia Shehata, the wife of a priest in Minya, Upper Egypt, whose disappearance in July 2010 enraged the Coptic community. Many Copts believe that she was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.

Many Muslims, meanwhile, believe that Shehata is now being held against her will by the Coptic Church as a punishment for converting, and have staged several protests demanding her release.

University campuses are 'hotbeds of Islamic extremism'

Islamic fundamentalism is being allowed to flourish at universities, endangering national security, MPs and peers say.

Islamic fundamentalism is being allowed to flourish at universities, endangering national security, MPs and peers said yesterday.

Academics are turning a blind eye to radicals because they do not want to spy on students, a report claimed.

Despite "damning evidence" of a serious problem, little progress had been made in tackling the unsustainable situation, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security said.

They urged the Government to tackle the issue on campuses with "utmost urgency".

Such extremism "endangers our security at home and has international implications that are serious enough to threaten our alliance relationships", said the group, which includes the former home secretary Lord Reid.

Secret files obtained by The Daily Telegraph and WikiLeaks disclosed this week that at least 35 terrorists held at Guantánamo Bay were indoctrinated by extremists in Britain.

The leaked documents, written by senior US military commanders, illustrated how Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism over the course of two decades.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Persecution of Christianity in Islam and the old world

THENEWAMERICAN

Ann Coulter once wrote that the cure for Islamic terrorism was Christianity. This politically incorrect statement drew condemnation from many corners of established elitism. Forcible conversion to Christianity, of course, is not real conversion and it is certain that Ann did not sincerely intend such deeds. But there is another aspect to the modern situation of Christians (and also of Jews) that we need to grasp in order to understand the hellishness of much of the life of mankind: Christianity is under violent, bigoted attack throughout much of the world.

As one example, tens of thousands of Muslims in Egypt began angry demonstrations against the appointment of Coptic Christian Emad Mikhail to be the new governor of the southern Egyptian province of Qena, replacing a Muslim who held that office. The Friday protests coincided with the Muslim and Jewish Sabbath and with Good Friday, among the most sacred days of devout Christians. The religious nature of these demonstrations was obvious. The protesters began their demonstrations after leaving mosques.Their demand was to replace Mikhail with a Muslim governor. Islam, these protesters believe, does not allow an infidel to govern Muslims.

Some Coptic Christians were also troubled by the appointment, citing that Christian officers often failed to genuinely protect the interests of other Christians. Coptic Christians need real protection. Although they comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, their status has never been secure, and relations cooled significantly when a suicide bomber killed himself — and 21 Christians — on January 1, outside a church in Alexandria.

The fate of Christians and Jews around the world is a legitimate concern for Americans. Our nation was founded quite straightforwardly upon Judeo-Christian theology and values. The pursuit of a U.S. foreign policy designed to take into consideration the interests of both Jews and Christians has been a consistent theme of our nation. Both peoples came to America, in many cases, to live freely and without persecution.

Tragically, the fate of Christians around the world has stopped being a factor in our policies. The invasion of Iraq, for example, has resulted in a significant increase in the persecution of Christians and their massive migration out of Iraq. Iraqi Christians are actually worse off as a result of our intervention there. Whatever syrupy hopes globalists might profess for “democratic” Iraq, it is impossible to see that land of ancient rivalries and hatreds evolving into a free and righteous nation when those very people who have created the notion of human freedom, Christians and also Jews, have fled the land.

Persecution of Christians, in fact, has been the salient feature of nearly every odious totalitarianism of modern history. The persecution of Christians in imperial Japan was noted even by agnostic Americans who viewed the Christian faith as foolish. The persecution of Christians in Nazi Germany was noted by nearly everyone who wrote on the subject during the years before the defeat of Germany. Hitler and all the other leaders of the Third Reich professed utter contempt for Christianity, and the closing of churches and monasteries, the hauling of priests and ministers to concentration camps, and other vile mistreatment was once common knowledge.

Soviets, of course, reviled Christianity and put true Christians in the Gulag. The OGPU and its successors also infiltrated seminaries and placed agents within the Russian Orthodox Church (just as the Soviet Union used such sweet-sounding groups as the National Council of Churches as a front organization which always, conveniently, found America and its values “un-Christian” and Marxism to be some sort of rudimentary Christian faith). Men such as John Hadam captured the spirit of this age well when he wrote in 1941 (before Barbarossa) in his book God and the World at War: “For people after people the light of freedom has gone out at the bidding of the totalitarianisms of Russia, Japan, Germany and Italy … Men are tortured and slaughtered in the name of a new religion of the all-powerful state … The attack of all totalitarianisms on religion is significant … the real basis for their hostility is that … a church is witness to, and claims the loyalty of men to, a moral power beyond and greater than the ideal totalitarian state.”

The brutal murder by Chinese Communists of Christians such as John Birch are proof of how mendacious and hateful toward Christians they were at the end of the Second World War, when Christians had been helping them defeat the Japanese. Nothing out of Chinese government policy since then gives any hope of change. The persecution of the faithful in China may take different forms and be muddled by a statist church which is the mockery of true Christianity, but the roots of persecution are ever present.

Less noticed, but very real, is the venom which Brahmanism spits at Christianity. Mahatma Gandhi, who was intensely disliked by the “untouchables” of India, found the universal brotherhood which Christianity offered to be contrary to Indian values. Contrary to much common belief, Gandhi did not reject the caste system, but believed that it should be simplified and reformed. While Christian missionaries in India helped end the suttee, child marriage (and young girls forced to bear children), thugee, and other vices of Hinduism, Gandhi displayed an appalling lack of gratitude toward the British and the West. Today, the persecution of Christians in India is very real. The conversion of untouchables (now called “Dalits”) is a particular sore point, and those Dalits who renounce Hinduism are denied government benefits provided to other Dalits.

And, of course, Europe is receding into the darkness of paganism. The shocking lack of resistance to Muslim infiltration in much of western Europe is because the thin gruel of progressive secularism offers nothing tangible to resist Islam. The searching of the soul for meaning, an itch placed there by our Creator, will find something to scratch it with — that is certain.

So it was that many former Communists spoke of their former “ideology” as rather an intolerant religion and described Marxism as “The God That Failed.” The savage Shinto of imperial Japan, the radical Muslims of the Indian Ocean basin, the brutal pagans of Nazi Germany — all the ugly spirits which menace our world — are opposed by people such as Mother Teresa, who came into India bringing only God’s compassionate love, and David Livingston, who entered the unknown heartland of an uncivilized continent to bring that same love.

Do we yearn for that overworked desideratum, “world peace”? Then we should all tell the aching hearts and angry minds of Muslims in Egypt or Hindus in India and of Marxists everywhere that the answer they seek is not in any hateful ideology, but rather in a glorious theology.

Four Ethiopian Muslims Beat Evangelist To Death, Assault His Pregnant Wife

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on April 21 four Muslims beat an evangelist to death and assaulted his pregnant wife in Worabe, Ethiopia, an area that is 97% Muslim. The Muslims lured Evangelist ….

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Uganda: No to Sharia

UGANDA PEOPLE NEWS

Pastor Umaru Mulinde of Life Gospel Church in Namasuba has asked Parliament to remove the Islamic Sharia Laws (Kadhi Courts) in the constitution.
The pastor says the constitution favors Islam than other religions because other religions have not been given platform in the constitution.

In his petition addressed to the Speaker of Parliament Edward Sekandi, Mulinde says the special treatment given to Islam creates divisionism with other religions, which may cause problems like those in Nigeria and Sudan.

However, Sekandi says that Christians particularly the Pentecostal churches should learn to coexist with Muslims otherwise amending the constitution to the pastor’s favor may cause more problems.

Sekandi adds that religions should not be preaching against each other but their gospels to their respective followers.

Muslim rioters in Nigeria have killed more than 100 Christians and burned down more than 40 churches

This revelation is contained in a report by the Regional Manager for Africa, International Christian Concern (ICC), Jonathan Racho noting that this latest demonstration is in response to the election of Jonathan Goodluck, a Christian, as president of Nigeria.

He pointed out that the rioters even destroyed the homes of many Muslims who supported President Jonathan Goodluck adding that the Muslim attackers allege that the election was rigged and General Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim presidential candidate, is the rightful winner.

He said that the Commonwealth observers’ report judged that election as “this election the fairest in decades. The elections for the National Assembly and the Presidency were both credible and creditable and reflected the will of the Nigerian people."

According Racho, it is difficult to know the full extent of the damage. The casualties could be much higher as the attacks took place over many of the 12 Muslim majority states in northern Nigeria.

He noted that the situation is beginning to calm since security forces were deployed and enforced a 24 hour curfew. Christian minorities living in northern Nigeria have faced repeated bouts of violence and discrimination at the hands of the Muslim majority.

He said that since the introduction of Sharia law in northern Nigeria in 2001, tens and thousands of Christians have been killed.

A Christian leader in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna stated: “Christians in northern Nigeria are being killed and their churches and property destroyed for voting for the candidate of their choice. Why should churches be burned when just it’s an issue of politics?

He also queried: “Why should Christians be killed just because someone won an election? Goodluck is not the president just for Christians; he is the president for every Nigerian. Why should Christians suffer because Jonathan won the election?

Racho stated: “We are very saddened by the violence against Christians and their property in northern Nigeria. Disputes over elections shouldn’t have been allowed to lead to religious violence against Christians.”

He continued: “We have repeatedly seen Muslims attack and kill those of other faiths at the slightest provocation. We urge Nigeria to fully investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. As long as these attackers operate with impunity, the attacks will continue.”

Egypt: We don't want a Christian as governor

Islamists in southern Egypt are continuing their protests against the appointment of a Coptic Christian as governor, and have vowed not to stop until he was removed from office, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

The ultraconservative Salafis began their protest on Friday in Qena against the new governor, Emad Shehata Michael, who, they fear will not properly implement Islamic law. Protestors also accuse Mr. Michael, who worked as assistant to Giza security during the revolution, of being a member of the old regime that killed protesters, claiming many came from Qena, according to a report in Al Ahram Online.

Attempts by the newly appointed interior minister, Mansour El-Eissawy, who hails from the same region, did not halt the protests by the Salafis who sat on train tracks, took over government buildings and blocked main roads in the southern city of Qena.

Mr. Michael’s predecessor was also a Christian and a former police general, but he was appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak and was largely disliked for his alleged incompetence, enabling the Salafis to draw on local dissatisfaction in their current campaign, reported AP.

“They started out by camping at the local government's office then they set up a tent on the railroad tracks,” local resident Wafy Nasr told AP. “They also tried to block the road and stopped buses to separate men and women passengers.”

Mr. Nasr said tensions were so high that Christian residents had to stay indoors and couldn't go to church to celebrate Palm Sunday.

“This won't work. A Copt won't implement Islamic law,” a speaker told a crowd at Qena’s government office, as seen on a YouTube video.

Salafis believe only a Muslim can be governor in the country that cites Islam as its primary source of legislation.

“When there is a decision to change the governor to a civilian Muslim, we will end the strike and life will return to normal,” said Sheikh Qureishi Salama, the imam of the local mosque as he questioned why their impoverished province kept getting Christian governors.

“Why is Qena becoming a testing ground for Christians?” he asked. “We aren’t guinea pigs.”

Diaa Rashwan, an expert on Islamic groups and a native of Qena said the problem amongst the majority of the population with the new appointment was that it was a continuation of a trend of installing former police generals as governors.

“The Salafis mobilized many people, many of them religious by nature,” he said.

After forcing out President Mubarak from office in February 11, Islamists seem to be gradually gaining ground. The Muslim Brotherhood, which was prevented from forming a party during Mr. Mubarak’s regime, is increasingly becoming vocal.

A senior party leader caused uproar after he was quoted in local papers as saying his group sought to establish an Islamic state, one that implemented Islamic punishments—including amputating hands for theft.

“We can't sleep anymore, so we give room for this religion to thrive in Egypt. Don’t let us waste this opportunity,” Saad al-Husseini, a leader from the Brotherhood leader was quoted as saying, according to the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Coptic Christians makes up about 10 percent of the country’s 82 million people and have long complained of discrimination in the country, have also been deeply unsettled by the development.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ethiopian disease

Reader's post: L. Kavakos

Some things in history are just amazing to me, among them is the survival of a Christian Ethiopia that was completly cut off from the rest of Christianity for over a milennium and was compleetly surrounded by muslims (who had a special religious interest in Ethiopia, because Muhammad himself ordered the king of Axum to submit and because a rouge Ethiopian general suposedly dared to ATTACK THE BLACK STONE (pbui) ITSELF!!!!! (and even draged an elephant through the sands of half Arabia (and fed and drank it on the whole way). But this small people on the fringe of (at that time broad) Christian world did not only refused to submitt, it also withstood one muslim invasion after the other. Sadly the complete hostility of the surrounding world has taken a toll on this once very civilized people (who took much from the greek colonys on the cost of whats now Eritrea, who were subjects to the Axumite king). Despite keeping their Christianity, European travelers who came to Ethiopia in the 18th century saw the large difference between the old Ethiopian civilisation they read about in books and the much harsher reality. Constant struggle for survival as well as little trade and contact with Christians outside of Ethiopia (while a lot of "contact" with Muslims and pagans) has barbarized the Ethiopians. It is sad to see how the Islamic ounslaught that mostly reduced Christianity to Europe crippled and hurt even thous who were able to survive it. What was crippled ruined and closed minded Byzantion compared with Justinians splendid, multiethnical Roman empire, what was the Kilikian rump state created by a rag tag bunch of imigrants, compared to the splendid Armenia that as the first country in the world compleetly embraced Christianity, what was Ethiopia of the 1500s or even the 1800s compared to the great Axumite kingdom.....

I look at it and get such a feeling of overwhelming sorrow, how much has Asia and Africa (and Europe too) lost because a tribal warlord from Asias most barbaric region unleashed Islam on the world and while truly great even the achievments of thous few Christians who survived Jihad seem so small compared to what they COULD have been if the unity of the Mediteranian world, if the great Christian and Hellenistic Euro-Asian-African unity would not have been destroyed by Islam. As great as european civilisation has become this united hellenistic civilisation that would have spread deeper into Asia and Africa had the potential to become even greater (I can bring just such names as Alexandria and Antiochia were so many inventions and great Christian ideas came from before Islam obliterated them and what about the old Roman frase (more or less) "From Africa allways comes good" showing the wealth and the high culture of Roman north Africa and Egypt)......the advance of Islam and the inability of Christians (especialy us, Orthodox Christians) to stop it is one of the greatest tragedys in the history of mankind. I pray for the Ethiopians but I fear the wound inflicted on them by Islam will never heal, it is sad that an act of kindness (An Axumite king allowed most of Islams core comunity to take refuge in his country) had such tragic consequences.

1,000 Muslims attack non-Muslim village in Nigeria

CCO

Armed with machetes and guns, 1,000 militants attacked the village of Bar Arewa in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi on April 7. “Almost every home in the village was destroyed, and some elderly people were reported to have been burnt to death in their homes,” according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The group is part of a larger band of 2,000 militants that has been attacking non-Muslim villages.

Ivory Coast resolution turns into Neo-Colonialism

Gbagbo arrest sends 'strong signal' to dictators ... The capture of Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo sends a strong signal to dictators that they cannot ignore the will of their people, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) said Monday. Clinton told reporters his arrest "sends a strong signal to dictators" in the region and beyond that they "may not disregard" the voice of their own people in free and fair elections. – AFP

Dominant Social Theme: Africa is a better place with one less tyrant and such individuals have got to respect the will of the electorate.

Free-Market Analysis: Now that former president Laurent Gbagbo has been captured by his rival Alassane Ouattara, the mainstream media is predicting a return to normalcy for the Ivory Coast. It is no doubt hoped by many in the West that Hillary Clinton's specific warning shall encourage democracy throughout the continent, as there are supposedly some 30 elections to be held in that vast region in the near future. The question emerges however as to whether Gbagbo's removal was done in such a way as to enforce the message that the West and the UN wanted to send or detract from it. This is the issue we examine below.

Start with a summary. The recognized story is that Ouattara – as we've written previously – won the Ivory Coast election but his rival Gbagbo refused to step down. Now some five months later, Ouattara has captured Gbagbo and proposes to put him on trial for what turned into a violent confrontation between the two leaders and their respective armed backers.

It's been a tragedy for Ivorian citizens. Perhaps a million or more have been displaced and thousands killed during the struggle between the two men. What was an election in a somewhat impoverished, tiny country has become world news; its resolution officially been turned into a larger object lesson: Respect the UN and its mandate. And listen to your wiser, Western elders.

Yet there are other interpretations as well. An analysis by CNN, no less, in an article entitled "Civil war may continue despite Gbagbo's arrest," points out there are reasons to wonder whether real peace shall return to the Ivory Coast anytime soon. "Ouattara takes over a deeply divided country," writes CNN's Amar C. Bakshi, "and accusations that his forces committed serious crimes while advancing towards Abidjan will complicate any reconciliation effort."

Bakshi explains that even U.N.-certified results show that 46 percent of the population voted for Gbagbo, and therefore the Ivory Coast, a small nation that produces much of the world's cocoa, is fairly evenly divided over the results. Not only that, but in removing Gbagbo and eventually placing him on trial, the opposition risks creating further divisions. The reports of atrocities cut both ways. Bakshi adds the following:

Human Rights Watch said forces loyal to Ouattara had killed hundreds of civilians, raped over 20 women and girls perceived as belonging to Gbagbo's camp and burned at least 10 villages in western Ivory Coast ... Religious and tribal faultlines in the West mirror the divide between Gbagbo, whose traditional powerbase is in the Christian and animist south, and Ouattara's Muslim, northern-based forces.
"The conflict in Cote d'Ivoire is not simply one between two presidential candidates, but between two entrenched ethno-political factions which won't be ended simply because Gbagbo gives up," said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, managing director at DaMina Advisors. Bottom line: the world should not take its eye off Ivory Coast just because Gbagbo has been detained.

Even Baskshi's post doesn't explore the full ramifications of what has just taken place. As we've reported previously, what continues to be left out of this story by the mainstream media reporting on it (thousands of articles by now) was that Gbagbo questioned the initial results of the election in a legal manner, or at least one that observed the niceties of Ivory Coast judicial process.

The query was brought before the Ivorian Supreme Court which threw out certain results and declared Gbagbo the winner. It was at this point that the UN stepped in and declared that Ouattara was the winner nonetheless. In doing so, the UN nullified Gbagbo's complaint to the Ivorian Supreme Court and the decision of the Court itself. (Even if the court was corrupt, it would seem that this would have been the place to begin an inquiry.)

Gbagbo's refusal to abide by the UN's decision is what eventually set off the bloodshed. But Gbagbo, a history professor by training who supposedly reads classics in the original Latin and Greek, may have had other more personal reasons to confront Ouattara. The two men have a history going back several decades. They have been political rivals but also they embody, as the CNN article points out, the larger schisms of Ivory Coast society.

Ouattara was not apparently born in the Ivory Coast and constitutionally was barred from running for over a decade. Somehow, eventually, he ran anyway, as the recent election shows. In power previously, as the result of an appointment, he (or his regime) had Gbagbo and his wife arrested and tortured – or so we've read in several news articles. This could explains some of the bad blood between the two men as Gbagbo blames Ouattara directly for his plight and the attacks on his wife.

Having decided that Ouattara had won the election, the UN and the French who initially colonized the Ivory Coast had a fine line to walk. For four months, outside forces negotiated with Gbagbo asking him to step down. But eventually Ouattara had had enough. With the help of French troops and UN forces, he fought back from the hotel where he had taken refuge and managed to gain control of most of the important cities.

Unfortunately, Ouattara's forces including mercenaries left behind a string of murders and rapes that are now being investigated. (Gbago's troops are accused of atrocities as well.) Additionally, these forces had difficulty making the final attack to bring Gbagbo and his family out of the presidential palace where they hiding. Ultimately, it took the combined massed might of both French and UN troops to excavate Gbagbo. The French have claimed that they did not set foot in the presidential palace and that Ouattara's forces handled the final assault.

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UN-backed Muslim forces slaughter Christians in Ivory Coast

Backed by French and United Nations military forces, and approved by President Barack Obama, Muslim militias loyal to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara are on a rampage in the Ivory Coast that, according to news reports and officials, has left over a thousand Christians dead so far in an effort to oust current President Laurent Gbagbo.

Though conflicts have been a regular occurrence in recent decades, the current civil war engulfing the West-African former French colony stems from a contested presidential election held in November. The original vote count indicated a narrow victory for Ouattara, a U.S.-educated Muslim from the largely Islamic Northern part of the country who has worked at the International Monetary Fund and the Central Bank of West African States.

But after the nation’s Constitutional Council discovered evidence of alleged voting fraud and ballot stuffing, it nullified the results, re-counted the votes, and declared Gbagbo the winner. Gbagbo, who has ruled the Ivory Coast since 2000, is a leftist Catholic from the largely Christian Southern part of the country. He is claiming to be the legitimately elected President and is refusing to leave power.

The UN, Obama, and the French government, however, maintain that Gbagbo should step down and allow Ouattara to assume the presidency. And at least the French and the UN are using armed force to make sure that happens, providing military support to Islamic militias loyal to Ouattara while bombing the Ivory Coast’s soldiers and equipment from the air.

Reports of brutal massacres have been pouring out of the country, intensifying in recent days as the struggle becomes more violent. One of the most barbarous attacks left around 1,000 civilians dead in Duékoué at the hands of Ouattara supporters as they advanced on the capital. Even Ouattara’s international supporters blasted the slaughter.

The victims, members of a pro-Gbagbo Christian tribe, were reportedly fleeing their homes to a nearby Catholic mission. But according to news reports, they were mowed down or hacked to death with machetes shortly before arriving at the compound.

"I can't go home, the rebels have guns. I don't have a gun," 25-year-old refugee Djeke Fulgence told the U.K. Guardian from a camp across the border, where he fled with his wife and children. "They kill people and rape women. They can kill children and then they take the small children to go and fight. It's impossible. I can't go back."

Over 30,000 civilians are estimated to be taking refuge at the mission to escape the violence. But reports indicate that food and water supplies are running low. Meanwhile, up to a million refugees have reportedly fled their homes, with an estimated hundred thousand crossing the border into Liberia.

As both sides blame each other for human-rights abuses, even the UN has now jumped in and urged Ouattara’s forces to show “restraint” after reports of looting, abductions, and ill-treatment of civilians by his supporters went public. Talk of prosecuting those responsible for the atrocities at the International Criminal Court is already making headlines.  

But as the UN helicopters were bombarding Gbagbo forces earlier this week, critics of the international body’s military support for Ouattara blasted the campaign. The Russian government, for example, said the UN and the French government had no right to intervene on one side in the dispute.

“The UN peacekeepers and supporting French forces in Ivory Coast have started military action taking the side of Ouattara, carrying out air strikes on the positions held by supporters of Gbagbo. We’re now looking into the legality of this situation because the peacekeepers were authorized to remain neutral — nothing more,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “An emergency briefing in the UN Security Council has been held upon our request, but we have not received any concrete answers. We will keep looking into the matter.”   

In the United States, conservative critics of the international intervention have also attacked efforts to oust Gbagbo. World Net Daily described the situation as “the forced Islamist takeover of [the Ivory Coast] government.” It also noted that UN and U.S. government leaders were “ignoring the nation's own procedures that determined Laurent Gbagbo, a Christian, legitimately was re-elected president.”

WND also compared the situation to another recent “Muslim-Christian battle” in Africa. In 2007, Obama backed Kenyan Muslim Raila Odinga, a socialist currently serving as Prime Minister following a power-sharing agreement. After Odinga lost the election and accused his opponent of rigging the vote, his Islamic supporters went on a rampage that included burning churches, hacking more than a thousand Christians to death with machetes, and eventually displacing an estimated 500,000 people. To placate the rioters, an agreement eventually allowed Odinga to serve as Prime Minster.

In another recent foreign dispute, Obama backed socialist Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya. The leftist Hugo Chavez ally was lawfully removed from office through established constitutional procedures for violating the law. But Obama demanded that he be reinstated.

In the Ivory Coast conflict, like in the Kenya dispute, Obama also expressed support for the Muslim candidate. And despite the Ivory Coast Constitutional Council’s ruling, which is supposed to be the final word on election results, Obama demanded that Gbagbo leave power.

"Tragically, the violence that we are seeing could have been averted had Laurent Gbagbo respected the results of last year's presidential election," Obama said on April 5, without mentioning the Constitutional Council’s ruling. "To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbagbo must stand down immediately, and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms.”

But despite the administration’s declared support for Ouattara, prominent U.S. lawmakers blasted the international intervention and criticized Obama’s choice of sides. In an interview with the U.S. government-funded Voice of America news service, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said it was clear that Ouattara was chosen by the French government and that “quite frankly, they rigged the election.” Inhofe also said the original election results purportedly showing that Ouattara won were statistically impossible.

Citing the massacre in Duékoué, Sen. Inhofe called the situation “a reign of terror by Ouattara” that was being “supported by the French.” He also said the Obama administration “had it wrong” and that letters he had sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the matter were ignored.

Inhofe accused the UN of violating its charter, too. “They went in and immediately assumed that it was a legitimate election and, yet, we have all the evidence to the contrary,” he told VOA. “By the way, there are a lot of people in Africa who agree with me.”

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Monday, April 11, 2011

THE THREAT OF ISLAMISM IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: The case of Tanzania

The states of Africa south of the Sahara, with their large Muslim populations, certainly are vulnerable to the popular unrest sweeping across North Africa and the Gulf region since January 2011. These states present a “backdoor” opening for radical jihadist Islam, which is already a strong presence in Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and, (if Qaddafi lasts) in Libya. With about 25 percent of the world’s Muslim population living in Africa, the overall restrictive economic and political conditions, and an expanding youth population, extrude Islamist ideology as a plausible alternative for self-styled repressed out-groups. Consequently, Sub-Saharan Africa merits more attention for signs of more radical, jihadist Islamism.

Islamism is a political ideology, not an offshoot religious cult. Its strategy ranges from violence as a prime tactic to political militancy, to competitive political parties that seek local or national representation in parliaments or local governments. Islamism may spawn violent jihadi groups that dream of recreating a global Islamic community (umma) or groups attempting to restore ultra-traditionalist, Salafist tenets of Islam, similar to what prevails in Wahabbist Saudi Arabia.

This essay examines both the extent and dynamics of Islamism and radical, violent Islamist groups in Tanzania, the location of the 1998 al Qaeda bombing. Additionally, the piece considers the appeal and spread of Islamist ideology, and the “state of play” today. Tanzania is examined here for the number of Muslims in the population—about a third of the total; for its proximity to the eastern African cockpit of Islamism—Somalia; and for the character of its internal politics, a one party-dominant political system—with the position of its Muslim population emerging as a divisive political issue.

Thus far, Tanzania harbors a low level of Islamist activity compared to, for example, Sudan, Somalia, and Egypt. It is representative of countries in Africa south of the Sahara with significant Muslim populations, whose cooperation is necessary if global jihadist terrorism is to be controlled and overcome. Not least is the problem of spillover of sporadic, small scale wars (Congo, Rwanda and Burundi are western neighbors). Secular nationalism, a lame parliamentary democracy, slow and uneven economic growth, and perceived unequal opportunity permit Muslim Africans, in Tanzania, as elsewhere, to subscribe to an alternative ideology of Islamism.

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20 Canadians have joined Somali terror group

About 20 Canadians have travelled to Somalia to join Al-Shabab, a federal official said two weeks after a Toronto man was arrested as he was allegedly leaving to enlist in the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group.

As many as three of the Canadians may have been killed so far, the official added, although such deaths are hard to verify because of the armed conflict and the lack of a diplomatic corps in Somalia.

The figures suggest the scale of Canada’s problem with Al-Shabab recruitment is comparable to that experienced by the United States and Europe, which also have sizable populations of ethnic Somalis.

The Al-Shabab threat was underscored late last month when police arrested Mohamed Hersi at Toronto’s Pearson airport. The RCMP alleged he was on his way to Somalia “to join Al-Shabab and participate in their terrorist activities.”

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eritrean Christian faces death penalty in Saudi Arabia

BARNABASFUND

An Eritrean Christian is facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia after being arrested for sharing his faith with Muslims.

Mussie Eyob was detained by the authorities at a mosque in Saudi's second largest city, Jeddah, on 12 February. He had gone there to meet and talk with local Muslims after speaking about Christianity at the Eritrean Embassy for three days. Eyob was arrested for preaching to Muslims, an offence that carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Eyob, who was initially assumed to have mental health problems, was examined by doctors, who confirmed that he is fit for trial and sentencing. He was then transferred to the notorious high-security Briman Prison. His family are very concerned for his welfare there.

They visited Eyob on 20 March and found that he had lost weight, though he was in relatively good spirits. He said that he is ready to die for his faith in Christ.

Eyob, who committed to follow Christ just over two years ago, felt compelled to share his faith with local Muslims, despite the danger.

Saudi Arabia is a strictly Islamic country that follows an extreme and puritanical version of Islam, Wahhabism. The country claims that the Quran is its constitution and that all its laws and regulations are promulgated in line with sharia, which prescribes the death penalty for converts from Islam. Consequently most converts keep their faith secret.

All forms of public religious activities other than those consistent with the government's own interpretation of Sunni Islam are banned. The government has stated that expatriate Christians, of whom there are many in Saudi Arabia, are free to worship in private. But the religious police (mutawaah) sometimes raid private worship services.

The country has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. In late 2009, Amnesty International denounced the presence of at least 141 people on death row in Saudi Arabia, including 104 foreign nationals.

State Dep’t and U.N. silent about Latest anti-Christian violence in Ethiopia

CNSNews

While the Obama administration cited human rights atrocities in Libya as part of the reason for U.S. and U.N. military intervention there, neither the State Department nor the United Nations have apparently condemned an outbreak of violence in western Ethiopia, led by Muslim radicals. Since early March two Christians have reportedly been killed, more than 3,000 displaced and at least 69 churches destroyed.

Also, leading human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First appear not to have publicly condemned the attacks.

“Extremist Muslims killed two Christians, burnt 69 Christian churches, and destroyed 30 homes, leaving between 4,000 to 10,000 Christians displaced,” Jeremy Lim, International Christian Concern (ICC)’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, told CNSNews.com. ICC is a human rights group promoting religious freedom and assisting Christian victims of persecution.

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Ivory Coast: Islamic takeover

Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing an Islamic takeover of the Ivory Coast. And the French (and the UN, US, and Europe)are helping them. We are witnessing one of those watershed moments in history: Ivory Coast is about to toggle from a (mostly) Christian country to a Muslim country. The winner of the election is a Muslim — the head of the Muslim rebel forces in the north of the country — and the loser is a non-Muslim. Ivory Coast is on the verge of officially joining the Ummah.

What made this possible for Mr. Ouattara’s victory are illegal immigrants from Ivory Coast’s Muslim neighbors.

Muslims do not need to be in the majority to force Islamic rule on a country. They simply need to be present in numbers sufficient to terrorize, threaten, bribe, and defraud their way into power. The exact percentage varies according to circumstances, but absent intervention from an external force, full Islamization can be expected by the time a country becomes 40% Muslim.

Like Sudan and Nigeria, Ivory Coast sits atop a volatile ethnic-religious fault-line. Whilst the less-developed North has long been predominantly Muslim, the South -- Ivory Coast's economic and political engine -- has historically been predominantly Christian and African Traditional Religion (ATR). Decades of mass immigration (1960-1993) from the neighboring Muslim states of Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea might have been great for the economy, but they have tipped the demographic balance so that Ivory Coast -- officially about one-third Muslim -- is actually majority Muslim.

The nation’s thriving cocoa industry has created one of the highest living standards in the West African region, so people from neighboring countries, such as Mali and Burkina Faso, migrated there to earn their living and benefit from the thriving economy. Some of these people shared ethnic ties to those living in northern Ivory Coast and like them were mostly Muslim. Some southerners, encouraged by populist politicians, began to resent the influx and demanded action to protect the country's "Ivoirite (Ivorian-ness)".

After being portrayed as not being real Ivoirians, northerners [Muslims] started to complain that they were being discriminated against. Mr. Ouattara, a Muslim, who was a former Prime Minister, is a prime example. He was banned from standing for president in previous elections because it was said his parents came from Burkina Faso. Similarly, many northerners said they were being refused national identity cards and the right to vote.

The civil war that erupted in September 2002 was portrayed by the international media as a crisis of democracy and human rights caused by Southern xenophobia and Islamophobia. In reality, Ivory Coast's crisis is the consequence of decades of mass Muslim immigration coupled with political ambition and an internationally-sponsored Islamic agenda. The civil war was fought essentially between those who want all Ivory Coast's Muslim immigrants naturalised -- giving Ivory Coast a Muslim majority overnight -- and those who do not. Though he denies it, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, a Northern Muslim, was doubtless behind the September 2002 failed coup that triggered the war. Ouattara and his party, the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), have been playing the race and religion cards for political gain. Ouattara's intent has been to have all the Muslim immigrants naturalised (over 4 million: estimated to comprise between 30 and 40 percent of the total population) so that he (their champion) can dragnet the Muslim vote. Ouattara has long had his eye on the presidency.

The civil war left Ivory Coast totally polarized, split between a virtually ethnic-religiously cleansed, rebel-controlled Muslim North and a government-controlled predominantly Christian, non-Muslim South. Since the war the North has been in serious decline with AIDS, poverty and lawlessness increasing exponentially. In November 2004 Ivory Coast's Christian president, Laurent Gbagbo, launched surprise airstrikes against rebel positions in the North in an attempt to reunify the country. However, former colonial power France (which backs the rebels for economic gain) intervened, razing all IC's airforce planes, destroying runways and sending tanks against the Presidential Palace, around which loyalists formed a human shield.

About four million of the 21 million people now living in Ivory Coast are illegal immigrants, and almost all of those immigrants are Muslims. It has changed the electoral balance, because many of them register to vote, especially in the north of the country where they speak the same languages as the local citizens. Southerners are afraid that they will lose control, and so they back Gbagbo.

The West had insisted that Ivory Coast could be reconciled, reunified and essentially saved by means of democratic elections, such is their faith in 'democracy' and the inherent goodness of man. In reality, the divisions are so profound and the stakes are so high that, unless genuine reconciliation occurred first, elections could only trigger conflict. Elections were held on 28 November 2010, with both Gbagbo and Ouattara claiming victory. The US, European Union and African Union have recognised Ouattara as the winner and called for Gbagbo to respect democracy and step down. Russia meanwhile is blocking a UN statement that would recognise Ouatarra, saying that this is not the UN's role. Ivory Coast's non-Muslims are traumatised, fearing that their homeland -- once the most prosperous 'Christian' nation in West Africa, home to the region's largest cathedral, home-base to most of West Africa's regional Christian ministries -- is about to come under Muslim political domination.

Ivory Coast: The next Rwanda?

Thousands of refugees from the Ivory Coast in Liberia are reporting that the the pro-Quattara Muslim rebels are killing people and raping women. They are killing “everyone and anyone.” There are even rumors of cannibalism.

A massacre in a Roman Catholic mission compound in the heart of the Ivory Coast’s cocoa-producing region could come to be seen as a crucial moment in the West African state’s escalating civil war.

Reports are mounting of atrocities by both sides in the conflict − those loyal to head of state Laurent Gbagbo, besieged in his presidential residence in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, and those who follow northern leader and president-elect Allasane Ouattara.

Events at the Italian Salesian Roman Catholic mission in Duekoue increasingly echo a notorious church massacre during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Early reports suggested that more than 800 people, largely from the Gbagbo-supporting Gueré tribe, were killed in a single day at the sprawling Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue, 300 miles west of Abidjan towards the Liberian border. The attackers seem to have been largely soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara.

Late yesterday the Roman Catholic charity Caritas said more than 1000 people were massacred in Duekoue. A Caritas spokesman said Caritas workers visited the town and reported seeing a neighbourhood filled with bodies of people who had been shot and hacked to death with machetes.

More than 5000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus sheltering in the Roman Catholic church at Nyarubuye were massacred by Hutu militiamen on April 12, 1994. Nyarube became the supreme symbol of the Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 people were murdered in just a hundred days.

The Duekoue massacre seemed to have stiffened the resistance, at least temporarily, of Gbagbo. His 10-year grip on power in Ivory Coast looked as though it was in its final hours on Friday after Outtara’s New Forces (NF) northern army encircled both his residence and the presidential palace, battling to unseat the man who has refused to recognise his defeat in last year’s election.

But yesterday forces loyal to Gbagbo – a southern Roman Catholic who has vowed not to step down in spite of being narrowly defeated by Outtara in a presidential election last November – put up stiff resistance to the New Forces and re-established control of the headquarters of the state TV station, RTI. It went off the air for 24 hours after it fell to Outtara’s soldiers, but by yesterday was again broadcasting pro-Gbagbo propaganda, calling on people to “resist the enemy”.

With control of RTI back in the hands of Gbagbo and updated reports being received intermittently from Duekoue, human rights organisations raised fears of widespread killings in a situation described in a United Nations document obtained by Reuters as “one of generalised chaos”.

Corinne Dufka, senior Africa researcher of Human Rights Watch, said: “We’re extremely concerned about the potential for mass atrocities.” She added: “Given Gbagbo’s prominent use of violent militia groups and the state-controlled media’s incitement to violence, we are asking UN peacekeepers to do everything in their power to protect non-combatants.”

However, the early evidence reported by Italian media from Duekoue suggests the Saint Teresa mission massacre was carried out by Outtara’s NF forces. “The incident is particularly shocking by its size and its brutality,” said Dominique Liengme, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Ivory Coast.

“Red Cross representatives themselves have seen a huge number of bodies [at the mission station],” said ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas in Geneva. “There is no doubt that something on a large scale took place in this city, on which the ICRC is continuing to gather information. Everything indicates that this was inter-ethnic violence.”

Duekoue was one of the many centres overwhelmed by the NF as its soldiers, wearing “magic” amulets, neckbands and masks, swept through the country last week in a well-organized assault, bringing more than 80% of Ivory Coast under fragile control.

For days the national army, under Gbagbo’s control, put up almost no resistance and its head, General Phillippe Mangou, fled to the home of the South African ambassador with his wife and five children. However, after several days of easy progress, the NF is now facing Gbagbo’s most reliable fighters, the roughly 2500-strong elite Republican Guard, clustered in Abidjan along with remaining regular army troops.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting around Duekoue and Oxfam reports more than 120,000 people from the area have crossed the nearby border with Liberia in the last week-and-a-half.

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Muslim gang leader terrorizing Christians in Egyptian village

AINA

Ten human rights organization staged a rally on March 30 in front of Attorney General’s offices to bring to public attention the tragedy of some nine thousand Coptic villagers living in terror since the end of January in the Upper Egyptian villages of Badraman and Nazlet Badraman in Deir Mawas, Minya.
rights activists and Badraman villagers were joined by attorney activist Peter elNaggar, who filed a complaint with the Attorney General against 34-year-old Muslim police informer Ali Hussein, nicknamed “Holaku” after the ruthless Mongol leader.

AINA said Hussein was accused of terrorizing the Copts, raping their wives, kidnaping their children for ransom and extortion. Attorney elNaggar said that if proven, these charges are punishable by the death penalty.

Security forces were informed last January of the incidents in both villages, "but they just turned a blind eye," said Coptic activist Nader Shoukry, who publicized the story last week after registering all crimes against the Coptic villagers.

AINA said the terror started on Jan. 28, when Ali Hussein assaulted Copt Khalil Suweiha and his family. Suweiha filed a report with the police in Deir Mawas but was forced to drop the charges after being threatened with death by Hussein and his 200-man armed gang.

AINA said Hussein then started extorting money from Copts and attacking their homes. They all had to retract the police reports they filed against him after being threatened.

On Jan. 29, Hussein, broke into the house of another Copt (name withheld), and raped his wife and mother after being restrained by Hussein's men. AINA said according to activist Mariam Ragy, he was too frightened to report the crime to the police after being threatened that his children would be killed.

AINA said Alaa Yusuf Iskandar, 30, was kidnaped and his family paid a ransom of 200,000 Egyptian pounds to Hussein to set him free. Although the family reported the kidnaping to the police, no action was taken.

In addition, AINA said, Hanna Samuel had his 12-year old son kidnaped on March 8; the well to do Coptic family paid a ransom of nearly 500,000 Egyptian pounds to free their child.

According to Shoukry, AINA said, “Ali Hussein has set himself up as governor of the two villages despite the presence of two village mayors. He is practicing injustice and tyranny only against the Copts in the villages. He walks between Christian homes, carrying a weapon on his shoulder, followed by his brothers and cousins and more than fifty armed thugs from outside the villages.”

He added that Hussein and his gang declared that they are the government of the Copts.

The incidents of extortion, looting, crop destruction and kidnaping children for ransom have become so prevalent many families have left the villages as they have no more money to give him.

“His despotism and tyranny reached the extent of imposing a curfew on the Copts from six o'clock in the evening to seven o'clock in the morning. Any Copt daring to break the curfew is beaten up and terrorized,” AINA reported Shoukry said.

On April 2, AINA said, Ali Hussein forced 23 Coptic villagers to go with him to Cairo to the offices of the Attorney General to withdraw their complaints against him, which they had filed on March 30. He detained their children to make sure they would follow his orders.

When they arrived in Cairo the offices of the Attorney General were closed, so Hussein brought the Copts to several newspapers to say the Copts and Muslims live in harmony on Badraman. Only the semi-official newspaper Al-Ahram published his story.

AINA said on the morning of April 3, police and army forces stormed the village to arrest Hussein and his gang, but he was tipped off and he and most of his gang fled beforehand. Only a few members of his gang were arrested. The police stayed only three hours in the villages before withdrawing, leaving the Coptic villagers again at the mercy of a furious Ali Hussein.

Since then, AINA said, Hussein has been assaulting the Copts in the villages to force the army to release the members of his gang who were arrested on Sunday.

On April 4 the villagers appealed to Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi to urgently rescue them from the oppression of Ali Hussein, who is holding them as hostages in the village until the release of his men.

Another rally was scheduled to be held on April 6 by the villagers of Badraman, joined by human rights organizations, in front of the offices of the Attorney General in Cairo. After the rally the villagers planned to meet with the Attorney General to submit a report about the latest incidents, and to demand quick action to save them from the oppression they are experiencing at the hands of Ali Hussein and his gang.

Nigerian Muslims kill Christians

DAILYTRUST

Youths in Iraqi area of Sokoto metropolis yesterday sparked a violent protest over an alleged defilement on the Holy Qur'an.

The incident, according to eyewitnesses, came when a boy (name withheld) was discovered to have urinated on a copy of the holy around book the area. Some youth who saw the unholy act were said to have descended on the boy and severely beat him up before he was rescued by security men attached to the Sultan of Sokoto's palace and later taken to the police for protective custody.

However, the youths was said to be still unsatisfied by the boy's rescue and later staged a violent protest against the palace guards who had saved him....

Attackers stormed three villages in Bauchi State ahead of elections, killing at least two people and setting a number of houses ablaze, police said yesterday....
A group of attackers stormed three predominately Christian farming villages in the Bogoro area, state police spokesman Mohammed Barau said.