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PERSECUTION NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD - 2006

PEDRSECUTION NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD - 2006

IRAN: CONVERT KILLED
UK: CONVERT FAMILY
UK: RELIGIOUS HATRED AUSTRALIA
INDONESIA: MUSLIM SUPPORT MUSLIM PROTECTION
CHURCHES DESTROYED SUNDAY SCHOOL ATTACKED
INDIA: POLICE BIAS
IRAN: CONVERT KILLED

January 2006

Ghorban Tori, a 50-year-old Iranian convert, was kidnapped from his home in Gonbad-e-Kavus, Iran, on 22nd November. He was stabbed to death, and his body dumped in front of his house a few hours later. Within hours the secret police arrived at the murdered pastor's house, searching for Bibles and other Christian literature. They also raided the houses of all other known Christians in the city. It is reported that in the following week ten other Christians across Iran were arrested and severely tortured.

Ghorban became a Christian more than ten years ago while in Turkmenistan. On returning to Iran he brought several friends and relatives to Christ and became pastor to a small convert church in his home. He had received several death threats from Islamic extremists to force him to stop sharing his faith.

Pray for peace for Ghorban's widow and four children in their grief. Pray for protection of all Christians in Iran.

UK: CONVERT FAMILY

An Iranian convert family living in the UK has been forced to relocate following abuse from their Muslim neighbours. The Christian couple and their 10-year-old son had been housed in an area with Muslim neighbours, who were initially friendly. On a visit to one neighbour the father was asked 'You look Pakistani, you are Muslim?' to which he replied 'No, I am a Christian from Iran.' The Muslim neighbour did not believe he could be Iranian and a Christian, but the father explained that there are many Christians in Iran. When the neighbour realised the father was serious he spread the word in the neighbourhood and all hospitality or friendliness towards them disappeared.

When their son went out to play, he was often surrounded by older youths who would ask him 'Are you Muslim or Christian?' When he said he was a Christian they would beat him. They told him he could not be a Christian because his name was Ali. Ali stopped leaving the house to avoid the bullying, so instead the youths threw stones at the house, breaking the glass in the front door on several occasions. The family have now moved, but are fearful of meeting their new neighbours in case they again receive abuse.

Pray for this faithful family, especially Ali, who have continued to confess their faith in Christ despite the intimidation and violence they endured. Pray that they will find security and support in their new church. Pray also that their new neighbours will not persecute them when they learn of their Christian faith.

UK: RELIGIOUS HATRED

The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill put forward by the UK government has had its third reading in the House of Lords delayed. It was initially due for 19th December, but is now delayed until possibly the end of January 2006.

The Lords voted in October on an amendment to the Bill which would have drastically changed its contents, including making it clear that exposing a religion to ridicule, insult or abuse should not constitute an offence on its own, and forcing the prosecution to prove intent to incitement to hatred. Since then the government has been trying hard to secure a deal with opposition parties, who have held firm against any compromise. Barnabas Fund and others have criticized the proposed legislation since it was first introduced in July 2004 as part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill. Of particular concern is that it could be used to prevent reasonable debate and criticism of another person's religion, and potentially silence those who speak out on behalf of the millions of people suffering as a result of a particular religious teaching.

Each time the Bill has been defeated the Labour government has announced its determination to bring it back. The Bill is likely to go back to the Commons early in 2006, when Labour MPs may push hard for the opposition parties as well as their own backbenchers who have previously voted against the Bill, to agree to a new version.

Pray that those in favour of the Bill will listen to the arguments against it and understand the serious nature of its potential negative effects. Pray for God's sovereign will to be done in this complex situation.

AUSTRALIA

Recent violence in Cronulla Beach, Sydney, led to churches being attacked. Violence erupted on 11th December when white youths attacked a Lebanese gang. However the Lebanese youths responded by attacking non-white Christian targets. The hall belonging to a church with a mainly Tongan congregation was burnt to the ground, while nearby St Thomas' Church, which has mostly Chinese members, had its windows smashed. On 12th December shots were fired outside a Christmas carol service at a church school.

Pray for peace and security to return to the Sydney communities, and for protection for the Christians.

INDONESIA: MUSLIM SUPPORT

Muslim leaders have asked for the death penalty to be changed to a life sentence for three Christian men accused of being responsible for inter- religious clashes in Poso in 2000. The Muslims visited Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus da Silva, 42, and Don Marinus Riwu, 48, in prison in Poso, Indonesia, where they listened to what the condemned men had to say. The three men, who have claimed that at least 16 people were responsible for the violence, including government officials, were pleased to receive the attention to their case. They were told in November that they will be executed 'soon'.

The frequent inter-religious violence in Indonesia is almost always instigated by Muslim extremists against Christians. The Christians then face the difficult choice of whether to try to defend themselves or flee for their lives.

Christian leaders have lodged a second appeal for clemency. They ask for the case to be reopened and that eye-witnesses who could exonerate the three men, who were ignored by the courts, be taken into consideration. It is thought that the conviction against them was given in order to balance the death sentence given to three Islamic terrorists responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.

Pray for peace for these three men. Thank our Heavenly Father for the attention brought to the case by the Muslim leaders and also the Christian appeal. Pray that President Susilo will respond to the appeal for clemency and retract the death sentence.

MUSLIM PROTECTION

Some churches in Indonesia will have Muslims standing guard this Christmas to protect them from violence. Attacks from Muslim extremists are expected again, after police found plans in a Malaysian terrorist's hideout indicating attacks using explosives planned for Christmas. However, in an announcement on 5th December, Muslim paramilitary group Barisan Serba Guna (known as Banser), has pledged to help the Indonesian police to protect Christians in their communities.

Some 5,600 security forces will be deployed, hoping to avoid a repeat of

the church bombings witnessed on Christmas Eve 2000. At least 300 of Banser's members will be volunteering with the police in Jember, 250km from East Java's provincial capital Surabaya. Members will also be standing guard in Jakarta, collaborating closely with the 17,000 policemen being posted in this area alone. A representative of Banser, Tatang Hidayat, also said that he had contacted Hindu and Buddhist groups to ask them to also protect the churches, and had received positive responses.

Pray that God will protect Christians in Indonesia as they celebrate Christmas. Thank the Lord for the Muslims willing to protect the Christian community around them. Pray that relationships between all faith groups will be strengthened, and as fear and tensions lessen God will provide opportunities for witnessing to His glory.

CHURCHES DESTROYED

Five churches in Tangerang, West Java were pulled down by Indonesian police forces on 30th November. According to the police the churches were destroyed because they did not have the required buildings permits. However Christians from the churches have refuted this, saying that the reason does make sense when each of the buildings were built before the regulations requiring permits were introduced.

Pray that the ongoing attacks on churches (forced closures and destruction) will cease. Pray for the Christians of these five churches, that they will find new locations to meet to worship our Father.

SUNDAY SCHOOL ATTACKED

A Sunday school class of approximately thirty children was interrupted by a mob of Islamic militants in Indonesia. As the class gathered on the morning 27th November in Curug, West Java, for their Bible study, the mob descended on the home where they were meeting. They destroyed several musical instruments as well as desks and chairs. The children scattered in panic.

When they had finished vandalising the premises the attackers forced the teachers and children outside, then sealed the building with posters denouncing the Sunday school.

Pray for the children to recover from their fears following this attack. Pray also for guidance for their teachers over where to meet for classes in future. They had already agreed to stop meeting in their current location by January 2006 after receiving threats.

INDIA: POLICE BIAS

On Sunday 4th December a church in Chattisgarh state was interrupted during worship by 25 members of Hindu extremist group Dharma Sena. In what appears to be a planned attack, the invaders severely beat four of the worshippers, including visiting speakers Masih Das Rai and Anmol Kamble. They then forced the four men, along with Pastor Ramesh Das Manikpuri who had not been at the service, into a Hindu temple. Inside the temple the extremists continued to beat the Christians, and attempted to force them to bow down to idols, which they refused to do.

The militants later took four of the Christians to the police station. Despite the requests of the Christians, the police refused to file any charges against Dharma Sena for the attack. Instead all four Christians were held for questioning before they were released.

On the same day in Madhya Pradesh state 15 extremists attacked Pastor Anil Mehra as he led the morning service. They beat Mehra around the head and kicked and punched him. One attacker allegedly threatened to slit his throat. They then forced Mehra and the other church members outside, while they called the police accusing Mehra of disturbing them with too much noise.

The police detained Mehra, allegedly also beating him. They refused to accept that he had beaten at all. They locked him up for two hours at the local station. After 10 hours in custody Mehra was eventually asked to sign a blank paper and then released.

Pray for the Christians in India, who not only have to endure such attacks, but also police injustice. Pray for healing for the injured Christians, and for peace for all those who were at the attacked services. Pray that the police will be prevented from acting with bias against Christians but will instead defend the victims.

This news is provided by the British based BARNABAS FUND which provides its supporters with short urgent news briefs and prayer requests for suffering Christians around the world.

END

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