"The rumor of possible attacks on Christians during this year's Christmas celebration is gaining more momentum. The Christians are calling on the government of Nigeria to ensure the protection of lives and properties, and we call on the church worldwide to bear up the church in Nigeria on the wings of prayer," said a Nigerian church leader in a statement to ICC.
Last year at Christmas time, 38 people were killed in bomb attacks in the Nigerian city of Jos. Members of the Islamic radical group, Boko Haram, took responsibility for the attacks. AFP reports that pamphlets are now circulating in Jos warning of attacks this Christmas. The Nigerian security is taking the threats seriously.
Pakistan is also taking steps to protect churches during Christmas celebrations. Pakistan's police spokesman reportedly told AFP that 2,500 police will be sent to protect churches from attacks.
Christians living in Orissa, India are also on edge due to fears of attacks by Hindu radicals. Orissa was a scene of anti-Christian violence during Christmas of 2007. More than 100 Christians were killed and over 55,000 displaced in 2008 following Hindu radical violence.
"Hindu radicals are rallying on December 24th and 25th to stop Christians from celebrating Christmas. The only churches that will get protection from the attacks are registered churches. Churches which are not registered will not have the protection. Christians from unregistered churches may not celebrate this year's Christmas at their churches," said an Indian church leader in an interview with ICC.
Jonathan Racho, ICC Regional Manager for Africa, said, "We are extremely concerned with the impending anti-Christian violence during this Christmas. We ask Christians around the world to pray for their brothers and sisters who face death simply because of their faith in Christ. We urge government officials in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to step up protection of Christians and their properties."