Pastors Raymond Doui, 46; Elisée Zama, 33; and Jean-Louis Makamba, 48, were killed on Dec. 5 as members of the disbanded Séléka rebel forces went on a rampage following an offensive by Christian-dominated anti-Balaka militias.
Doui, pastor of the Community of Independent Baptist Churches, died at his house in the northern suburb of Fondo. He leaves behind a wife and 11 children. Zama, of the Evangelical Church of the Brethren, was among those killed as ex-Séléka forces raided a hospital. He leaves a wife and five children. Makamba, pastor of the ELIM Church in the north Begoua area, was killed alongside one of his sons by former members of Séléka, which had entered the church compound. His wife and nine surviving children have fled, after hearing that the rebels were after them.
Another pastor, whom World Watch Monitor is not naming to preserve his safety, is on the run with his family after he learned the rebels were looking for him. He is from a Muslim background and went into hiding after the rebels burned his home and that of relatives living close by.
These incidents highlight the religious nature of the conflict, as Muslims and Christians continue to clash.
In all, more than 400 people died in three days, according to the Red Cross, while dozens have sought treatment in the corridors of overcrowded hospitals.
The number of deaths is likely to be far higher, according to a source cited by Open Doors International, a charity that works with Christians under pressure for their faith. Open Doors quotes a source, not named for security purposes, as saying:
“In reality we must speak of at least 700 dead. The Red Cross has not counted the people that have been slaughtered and thrown into the river or buried directly by relatives or by fishermen.
“In spite of the arrival of the French and the beginning of the disarmament, the killings continue. The war has become purely religious. Anti-Balaka defensive forces attacked the ex-Séléka and other Muslims first. This invited terrible retaliation against the Christians. The ex-Séléka and Muslim men women and children armed with firearms and machetes went from house to house, killing Christians regardless of their age. The streets of Bangui are littered with corpses. The Red Cross buried hundreds of bodies in mass graves.
“Most people are hiding indoors. Some have fled into the bush, and about 20,000 Christians fled to the church of Pastor Nicolas Guerékoyamé, the president of the Evangelical Alliance, because he is one of the religious leaders who always denounced the abuses of the ex-Séléka.”
Djotodia took control of a transitional government but lost control of Séléka soldiers. He disbanded Séléka in September, but its members continued to loot, rape and murder Christians in particular. Since September, the mostly Christian and animist local population have formed self-defense groups named anti-Balaka, which have attacked Muslims, in turn inviting brutal reprisals from ex-Séléka members and raising fears of interfaith genocide.
CAIRO — An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year’s worst sectarian violence.
Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.
In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.
He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s population, have long complained of discrimination and sectarian strife — usually fueled by hate speech from religious extremists, attempts to build new houses of worship or interfaith love affairs.
The sense of fear was heightened when Islamists rose to power following the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The Khosoos dispute was the worst violence during the one-year rule of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was removed in a popularly backed coup in July.
The fight started when young Muslims drew inflammatory symbols on an Islamic school and the vandalism was blamed on local Christians.
Two defense lawyers in the case said a cleric of the local mosque urged revenge for the death of the Muslim man, leading to three consecutive days of violence that also saw a church attacked and private shops and homes of Christians looted and burned.
Assailants doused one of the Christians with gasoline and set him on fire. They contend that only two Christians were convicted in the case. The difference with the court’s number of convicted could not be reconciled.
Samaan Youssef, one of the Christians’ lawyers in the case told The Associated Press that the prosecution failed to identify any of the suspects in the killing of Christians because local witnesses were afraid to speak out and possibly provoke revenge attacks and renewed violence.
The violence later spread to the doorsteps of the country’s main Coptic Cathedral after funerals for the Christian victims. An angry mob of Muslims threw firebombs and rocks at the church forcing a group of Christians, who attempted to march against the government, back into the church.
The violence left two dead, including one Christian. Reports at the scene said few police were present.
Iskandar Samir, another lawyer and relative of some of the defendants, said he would appeal the verdict. He described it as the “continuation of a series of sectarian rulings,” adding that few Muslims are ever held responsible for violence against Christians.
Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said investigations into the attack on the cathedral were never completed and no one stands charged. He lamented what he called selective justice in the case.
“This opens the door for more sectarian strife,” he said. “The prosecution neglected the investigation.”
Both the two lawyers and Ibrahim said one of those acquitted has been dead for five years, “raising questions about the prosecution’s handling of the case.”
With hundreds of people killed in the past three years of turmoil, rights groups have criticized prosecutors and police for weak evidence collection and shoddy prosecution. The groups say the weak process perpetuates a culture of impunity.
YOU know I am not very happy with Nigeria. I have made that very clear on many occasions. Yes, Nigeria stood by us more than any nation, but you let yourselves down, and Africa and the black race very badly. Your leaders have no respect for their people. They believe that their personal interests are the interests of the people. They take people’s resources and turn it into personal wealth. There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that should be unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians are not more angry than they are.
“What do young Nigerians think about your leaders and their country and Africa? Do you teach them history? Do you have lessons on how your past leaders stood by us and gave us large amounts of money? You know I hear from Angolans and Mozambicans and Zimbabweans how your people opened their hearts
and their homes to them. I was in prison then, but we know how your leaders punished western companies who supported Apartheid.
“What about the corruption and the crimes? Your elections are like wars. Now we hear that you cannot be president in Nigeria unless you are Muslim or Christian. Some people tell me your country may break up. Please don’t let it happen.
“Let me tell you what I think you need to do. You should encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making personal wealth. Corrupt people do not make good leaders. Then you have to spend a lot of your resources for education.
Educate children of the poor, so that they can get out of poverty. Poverty does not breed confidence. Only confident people can bring changes. Poor, uneducated people can also bring change, but it will be hijacked by the educated and the wealthy…give young Nigerians good education. Teach them the value of hard work and sacrifice, and discourage them from crimes which are destroying your image as a good people.”
(Excerpts taken from a 2007 interview with Mandela conducted by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed).
The fatwa committee was among 13 committees, majority of which are headed by traditional rulers in the North, inaugurated by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, at the national headquarters of the body in Kaduna.
Speaking at the event, the Sultan said setting up the committee was as a way of uniting Muslims, pointing out that it was important for Muslims to come together as one.
He said: “The work of Islam should be taken seriously, as our religion has problems and we should fight towards embracing peace and unity amongst ourselves to achieve what has been before.
“I urged the appointees to be proactive as they accept this wondrous task to serve in the different committees, and make sure that you discharge you duties diligently.”
The Secretary-General, Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, said the JNI has gone a long way in propagating the ideals of Islam, unity of the Ummah and protecting the overall interests of Muslims since its inception in 1961.
Aliyu added that the committees are to collaborate with stakeholders to source for support or counterpart funding and further articulate a blue print for the JNI.
JNI’s spokesman Umar Zaria said the Fatwa Committee was set up to look into current Islamic issues that do not have clear interpretations in Islamic Jurisprudence.
The committee, Zaria said, has the power to proffer advice, even the passing of a death sentence on an individual.
He said: “The Fatwa committee will look into areas of modern times and Islam. It would be saddled with the interpretation, for example, whether or not it is Islamically right to eat with fork, spoon or not.
“It would look into current trends as they concern Muslims and decide on the kind of judgment they would get.
“This would be more practical in areas where Sharia law is now being practised.
“Yes, on the passing of a death sentence, even if it is on a non-Muslim, the Fatwa Committee is capable of doing that.
“But, as I said, it all depends on whether the issue in question is in Islamic Jurisprudence. But the Fatwa committee is strictly on individual behaviour and not a communal committee. And Muslims are the most affected.”
Duck Dynasty features a number of things that run against the grain of popular culture. They’re a strong family that runs their own business, which is based on their patriarch’s invention. They go to church. They don’t engage in microwave marriages to pop stars. Their daughters aren’t famous for sex tapes or appearances in men’s magazines. They hunt. With guns.
When the producers of Duck Dynasty asked the stars to stop saying “in Jesus’ name” during prayers because it might offend Muslims, Phil Robertson stood his ground and gave an eye-opening response.
“So they would just have me saying, ‘Thank you Lord for the food, thank you for loving us. Amen.’ So I said, ‘Why would you cut out ‘In Jesus’ name?’ They said, ‘Well those editors are probably doing that. They just think that they don’t want to offend some of the Muslims or something.’” source – PJ Media.
Bishoy Armiya, Egypt’s most famous Christian convert from Islam, has been arrested by national security forces.
Armiya, formerly known as Mohammed Hegazy, had fought publicly to change his religion on his identification card. He and his family had been running for their lives after Muslim leaders pronounced a death sentence against him.
In a 2010 interview, he told CBN News he had been jailed and tortured by Egyptian state security agents who wanted him to return to Islam.
Now Mideast Christian News reports he’s been arrested again, this time for proselytizing.
“The defendant photographed military and police institutions, a Copt who was attacked by Muslim Brotherhood members, and Nazlet Ebeid and Badraman villages, where the defendant met with several Christian citizens. Security services tracked him down and were able to arrest him,” a security source told MCN.
As the woman served the team coffee, OM team member Rebecca* asked if their family wanted prayer for anything. The woman’s eyes brightened, and with uncommon honesty she explained their struggles.
“We are always working so hard for the harvest,” she said, “but are never seeing the results of our efforts.”
A team from Transform (an OM outreach to Mediterranean peoples) heard this prayer request as they trekked the villages of Kosovo. For one week in July, 22 believers from around the world set out by foot to deliver Albanian New Testaments house by house.
While they walked, the teams kept their eyes open for opportunities for deeper spiritual conversations and prayer. When this Egyptian family opened their door, the team sensed this was a wider opening for Jesus’ work.
After Rebecca’s question, the woman continued to share the difficulties facing her family: “We have tried to arrange a marriage for our son many times, but even though the girl’s family said yes, in the end they said no, which is not normal,” she said. “And our family cow, which is a big part of how we provide for our family, suddenly died yesterday.”
Since the problems were of an unusual and inexplicable nature, she believed their family had been cursed through folk Islam. In Kosovo, folk Islam is a superstitious faith interwoven with traditional Islam. It is often seen in practices like fear of “the evil eye,” or reading coffee cups to see the future. It can also be used as a way to try and curse others.
Rebecca described how folk Islam is dangerous, and urged the family not to practice it. Then she shared that Jesus’ power is stronger than folk Islam, and that the family can find freedom through the power of Christ.
The team then prayed for the family to be freed from the curse of folk Islam. As they left, the women had tears in their eyes and were visibly touched by the prayer. The team left the family with a New Testament in their own language, as well as a DVD of stories about Muslims who had dreams of Jesus.
Dark forces do exist and can have a powerful grip through the practices of folk Islam, but Christ’s power always proves mightier.
Pray that this family and others from the Transform outreach would be touched by the Word of God and the stories from the DVD. Also pray that other families who practice folk Islam would turn to the salvation and forgiveness of Christ. Pray for Christian workers in Kosovo and across the Muslim world to battle dark forces with wisdom, and utilize the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer.
Their crimes: handing out Bibles and sharing their faith through two home churches—one for their friends and acquaintances, and one that reached out to prostitutes.
Authorities ransacked Maryam and Marziyeh’s apartment without a warrant, confiscated anything related to Christianity, threw them into jail and denied them access to a lawyer for months.
“I remember one day they sent us to a dark and dirty cell in a basement,” Maryam says.
The two women were interrogated for hours, as their captors demanded names and addresses of every Christian they knew.
“Otherwise, we will beat you until you vomit blood,” Maryam recalls them saying of the threat of punishment that became a gruesome reality for so many of her fellow prisoners.
The women refused to identify their Christian friends. They were left in the dark, not knowing if the next interrogation would lead to beatings or torture.
“For days, we did not have anything to eat or drink,” Maryam says. “We could only use wet blankets strongly smelling of urine to keep ourselves warm.”
As they huddled together, terrified, all they could do was wait and pray.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war” (Rev. 19:11).
Born into Muslim families in a country that forces Islam on its people, it’s a miracle Maryam and Marziyeh ever discovered the truth about Jesus—a man who is just another prophet in the eyes of Islamic believers.
They grew up in separate cities, but both women sensed at a young age that something was missing from their lives. They were thirsty for a relationship with God, but they couldn’t seem to quench their thirst, even when they prayed to Allah five times a day and faithfully read the Quran.
Then, in their teenage years, each woman had an encounter with Jesus.
For Marziyeh, it started with a dream about a white horse. She wrote about it in the book Captive in Iran:
“The horse ran like the wind to save me. As I held fast to its neck, I felt its love pouring into me with a power and a purity I had never known. … For a week after that, all I could think about was the deep love I had experienced in the dream. I have never since experienced love like that in this world.”
Not long after she had that unforgettable dream, Marziyeh was invited to a church, where she learned about Jesus and experienced His healing power. After years of seeking, the Lord had revealed Himself to her. She was convinced Jesus was the Son of God.
Maryam discovered Jesus when a Muslim friend who knew she was seeking answers gave her a Christian booklet.
“She told me, ‘Don’t read the last page of the booklet, because it’s a conversion prayer,’” Maryam recalls. “From the first page I could feel my heart was deeply moved.”
As Maryam prayed the prayer on the last page and accepted Christ, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she had known about Jesus all along; she just hadn’t been able to get her hands on a Bible to learn His name.
Prison Becomes Church
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:12-14).
Maryam and Marziyeh spent two weeks in jail before they were transferred to Evin Prison, a notorious Iranian penitentiary known for torture, rape and executions.
At Evin, the women experienced daylong interrogations, solitary confinement and the pain of numerous infections left untreated by the staff at the medical clinic.
Their hearts broke as they watched 2- and 3-year-old children abused inside the prison—the place where they were born and spent their formative years.
But in the midst of the heartache, something miraculous happened.
The women locked up with them—many of whom had initially shunned Marziyeh and Maryam, calling them “dirty Christians” and apostates—began to see something different about them.
Maryam and Marziyeh refused to hide or deny their faith in Christ. They responded to insults and curses with love, compassion and forgiveness. And they were always asking their fellow inmates—prostitutes, murderers and political prisoners—how they could pray for them.
“They couldn’t understand that God still loved them,” Marziyeh says. “They’d cry and confess their sins. They could see miracles through our prayers.”
Maryam and Marziyeh were no longer the “dirty Christians.” Their fellow prisoners—and even some guards—sought them out, wanting to know about this Jesus they loved more than life itself.
“Evin Prison, the dreaded hellhole of Tehran and symbol of radical Islamic oppression, had become our church,” Maryam writes. “And so we prayed on.”
The maximum punishment for apostasy in Iran is execution. Time and again, Iranian officials told Maryam and Marziyeh they could live and go free if they would just renounce their Christian faith. The women wouldn’t even consider it.
They spent almost nine months in Evin Prison. Before they were locked up, they delivered Bibles—20,000 of them in three years—secretly, under the cover of darkness.
At Evin, they shared their faith freely. Women came to them, hungry for truth and desperate for God’s love. Many found that truth and love in Jesus, inviting Him into their lives right there in their prison cells.
“We started to trust His plan,” Maryam says. “We believe it’s not about us. It’s about God.”
They still don’t know exactly how they won their freedom after countless promises of execution. They know it was ultimately an act of God, and that the prayers and pressure from Christians and human rights activists around the world helped convince their captors to let them go.
Now both women live in the United States, outside Atlanta. Knowing that returning to Iran would mean certain death, Maryam and Marziyeh use their book and their voices to spread the word about what happened to them—and what’s still happening to countless Christians and other prisoners locked away in Iran.
“We promised those women in prison to be a voice for them and to share their stories with the world,” Maryam says.
Their story has inspired the church around the globe, especially in the United States, where the freedom to follow Christ is too often taken for granted.
Maryam and Marziyeh pray Americans will cherish their ability to worship Jesus openly and that they’ll remember to share the gospel through their lives, no matter where the Lord takes them.
“Our view about church changed,” Marziyeh says. “Even a dark and brutal prison like Evin can be a church.”
To learn more about Maryam and Marziyeh’s book, Captive in Iran, and to learn how to help Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, click here.
Kegs containing more than 8,000 litres of a local alcoholic brew called “burukutu” and 320,000 cigarettes were also destroyed.
“We hope this measure will help restore the tarnished image of Kano,” said Daurawa.
Since September, the Hisbah have launched sweeping crackdowns and made hundreds of arrests in Kano following a state-government directive to cleanse the commercial hub of so-called “immoral” practices.
The 9,000-strong moral police force works alongside the civilian police but also has other duties, including community development work and dispute resolution.
Sharia was reintroduced across northern Nigeria in 2001, but the code has been unevenly applied.
Alcohol is typically easy to find in Kano, including at hotels and bars in neighbourhoods like Sabon Gari, inhabited by the city’s sizeable Christian minority.
But the Hisbah boss vowed that this was set to change.
“We hereby send warning to unrepentant offenders that Hisbah personnel will soon embark on an operation into every nook and corner of (Kano) state to put an end to the sale and consumption of alcohol and all other intoxicants,” Daurawa said.
People accused of engaging in prostitution and homosexual sex have been among those arrested in the latest crackdown, along with alleged drunks and drug addicts.
Nigeria is divided between a mostly Christian south and a predominately Muslim north.
It is ludicrous and sardonic that some disgruntled elements under the disguise of religious bigotry are calling for disunity and intolerance in this nation.
Reading through the headline of today’s dailies tagged: School principal and teachers sent a child home for using an Hijab and the show of grievances by aggrieved youth make me to be pondering on where we are heading to in this nation as a result of our inability to see any good in our diversity as human beings living together under one Nation.
It is very wrong for anybody to singlehandedly send any child out of school as a result of unconstitutional claim that such child uses Hijab. I see this act as a breach of Nigerian constitution “Freedom of Religion” (1999 as ammended).
If care is not taken, we are heading to a place where ANARCHY will be looming as a result of our inability to tolerate each other. Sometime ago, a protest was led by a group under the aegies of Osun Baptist Conference when the State government introduced the policy of mixing Muslims and Christians together in public schools so as to pave way for unity in our diversity as human beings living together under the nomenclature called NIGERIA.
Later on, the government called all the religious bodies into a meeting and explained the reason for its policy and that they should embrace the policy by giving peace chance to reign. This made the Baptist Conference and the State Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) to apologize publicly that they were mis-informed by media propaganda. Since then things have been moving freely in the State without hindrance but the recent denial of constitutional right of “freedom of religion” as a result of sending children homes for using Hijabs heated up the polity.
The religious sentiment is affecting the mentality of Nigerians as we always lure any government policy with our beliefs as Muslims or Christians and this religious bigot is part of barriers disrupting the progress of this nation.
Despite the fact that the schools were founded by missionaries; since the schools had been taken over by the government for a long period of time ago and the schools are being funded by the government it is abnormal and illogical to singlehandedly send children out of the school by the Principal and teachers who are being paid salaries and wages by the State government just because the children used Hijabs. In as much as the schools are being funded by government, it is very unreasonable to have a contrary view on the policy based on religious sentiment.
If the unconstitutional excuse made by the Principal and teachers of the said school replicates itself in some Muslims named public schools there will always be a cause for alarm everyday and this may be a total call for ANARCHY.
What should perturb a sensible mind is how can the policy be of immense contribution to the development of the State. According to the Nigerian constitution; it is ridiculous, pathetic and a total disregard of the fundamental human right of the 1999 constitution (as amended) for any Christian group to deny a Muslim child the constitutional right of “freedom of religion” to attend a Christian named public school simply because such child uses Hijab. On the other hand, it is a total breach of law for a Muslim group also to deny a Christian child an opportunity to attend a Muslim named Government school just because such child refuses to wear Hijab.
I went to Muslim named school – Ansar-Ud-Deen High School and there was nothing like sending students to their homes just because of unconstitutional excuse that they didn’t wear Hijab and this is supposed to be in all government schools whether named by Muslims or Christians nomenclatures.
We need to call a spade a spade; the unconstitutional act embarked by the said government school’s Principal and teachers should be properly looked into in order to prevent total ANARCHY in the State.
Ismael Taiwo A.
PRO, NANS-Joint Campus Committee, Oyo State.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters