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PERSECUTION: Pakistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Sudan

PERSECUTION: Pakistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Sudan

December 2005



A Pakistani Christian woman was kidnapped on September 2nd by two Muslim men. Ribqa Masih, 22, accompanied a friend to Faisalabad. Unknown to Ribqa her friend had arranged to meet with Ghulam Abbas and Mohammad Kashif, who drugged Ribqa, causing her to lose consciousness. The men took her to a house in Lahore, and repeatedly raped her through the night. They threatened to shoot her and kill her family if she did not repeat the Islamic creed, which would be considered conversion to Islam, but Ribqa refused.

The next day Ribqa was handed over to a third man, who they said would take her home. However this man held her captive a further three days, also repeatedly raping her. Finally he left her at a public bus stop in Faisalabad on September 6th. Her physical injuries were so bad she was unable to walk.

Incidents of Christian women being kidnapped and raped by Muslim men in Pakistan are frequent. It is very hard for the victims to get justice both because of the demanding legal proof required, and because police are often biased against Christians. If they are unable to prove the rape then the women are likely to be found guilty under law of adultery, which carries severe penalties. Ribqa's family have taken a courageous stand to press a case against the two identified kidnappers. The family have received threats from Muslim neighbours to try to get them to drop the case, and her six younger siblings have all been forced to drop from school where classmates were calling them 'prostitutes'.

Pray for physical and emotional healing for Ribqa. She lives in fear, and is still not fully recovered from her ordeal, continuing to have difficulty walking. Pray that she will know the love of Jesus bringing her peace.

Pray for protection for the whole family as the court case proceeds. Pray that justice will be done, and that all three men will be convicted.


Christians in Sangla Hill village in the province of Punjab, Pakistan, were attacked by angry Muslim extremists in November, following a false allegation of desecrating a Qur'an. At least three churches were set on fire as well as several Christian homes, and a Christian girls' school and hostel.

On November 11th Yousaf Masih, a Christian, spent an evening playing cards with some Muslim friends. After Yousaf left a fire broke out in an adjoining building, and a copy of the Qur'an was burnt. Yousaf's friends, angry that he had won their game, accused him of burning the Qur'an, and this story spread quickly. A case was registered with the Sangla Hill police, accusing Yousaf under Pakistan's notorious "blasphemy law" of desecrating the Qur'an (Section 295B of the Pakistan Penal Code).

Reports indicate that within hours, the Muslim youth were being urged by the mosques to attack Christian property. Fearful of violence, the Christian community requested protection; but it appears no action was taken by the police. On November 12th eye-witnesses report that between 2,000 and 5,000 angry Muslims, armed with sticks, rods, axes and kerosene, marched on Sangla Hill, chanting slogans and burning Christian property. Many of the Christians fled for their lives. The attack lasted two to three hours, during which time there was apparently no police intervention to stop the violence.

Pray for grace and courage for the Christians in Sangla Hill to be able to respond to this attack with peace and forgiveness. Pray for those who fled their homes in fear, that they will be able to return and rebuild their community. Pray that Yousaf Masih will not come under any further persecution due to this false accusation.


Dr Osman Sheikh Ahmed, a Somali evangelist and pastor, was shot dead on October 7th. Witnesses confirm that his killers were Islamic hit men from Mogadishu's radical Islamic courts.

Dr Osman became a Christian in 2002, and immediately became a bold evangelist in the Somali capital Mogadishu. In 2003 Sheikh Nur Barud, leader of Kulanka Culimada, an Islamic militant group, was reported to say that all Somali Christians must be killed. Similar statements have been made by Somali Islamists in the past.

Pray for Dr Osman's widow and their nine children, who have gone into hiding, that in their grief they will have joy that he is now with Jesus. Pray for their protection from those who would seek to harm them.

Pray for protection for all Somali Christians, including an evangelist in Somaliland, Miss Ayaan Abdulqadir, arrested in June 2005, accused of converting Muslim women and children to Christianity. Pray for her release.


Three Christian men accused of being responsible for inter-religious clashes in Poso in 2000 have had their death sentences upheld. Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus da Silva, 42, and Don Marinus Riwu, 48, were told on November 17th that they will be executed 'soon'. They remain held in a prison in Palu, central Sulawesi. 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.

The court case has created much controversy, due to the widespread intimidation from Islamic militants. Observers have said that the jury had no choice but to give in to the pressure to find the three Christians guilty.

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.

Pray for peace for Fabianus, Dominggus and Don Marinus, as they await their future. Pray that our Sovereign Father, who is able to overturn their conviction and prevent the executions taking place, will work out His purposes. Pray that justice in Indonesia will cease to be ruled by pressure and intimidation.


Three Indonesian ladies, convicted under child protection laws after they allowed some Muslim children to attend their Christian after school club, for prayer for their appeal. A Barnabas Fund representative visited Rebekka, Ratna and Eti in Indramayu prison in November. They share a 5m x 5m cell with five other women prisoners, sleeping on hardwood platforms with no blankets or sheets. They must pay the prison guard to turn on the water for their toilet.

Despite these harsh conditions and the injustice of their conviction - they stand accused of "Christianisation" while none of the Muslim children have actually changed their faith - the ladies remain full of peace. Rebekka, who has lost her licence to practise as a doctor due to her criminal record, says "I am not angry at the people who brought the charges against me. I forgive them. I bless them." Ratna's thoughts are focused on the city of Indramayu, praying that more people will become open to the Gospel. "Don't be afraid of being persecuted because the glory of God is more important than being persecuted." Rebekka also has the expansion of the Kingdom on her heart: "I pray for the other prisoners and guards. One prisoner converted and became a Christian."

Continue to pray for Rebekka, Ratna and Eti, that they will remain strong and courageous as they daily depend on God. Pray for their children, that they will understand that their mothers are in jail for the sake of Jesus. Pray that their appeal will be heard quickly and they will be released.

Pray that the Kingdom of God will be glorified in the lives of the other prisoners, their families, and the prison guards as they see it reflected in the lives of these three sisters in Christ. Pray that more will be saved.

Pray for the judge who will hear their appeal. The judge in their court case reportedly privately admitted he believed the ladies were innocent, but found them guilty because of the demands from the angry Muslim crowds at the court case.


Churches in Indonesia continue to face persecution in the form of forced closures, especially in West Java. Incidents of forced church closures in Indonesia are increasing, according to some reports there may be as many as 30 a month. Eighteen churches have been closed in north Jakarta, 24 in Malang, East Java, and 60 house churches in West Java.

The closures are forced by a decree which requires local public leaders to approve the construction of non-Muslim houses of worship. In September 2005 Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to a commitment to protect the religious freedom of all

Indonesian citizens. However, in response to a call by Christians for the 1969 decree to be revoked, the President said that the government would not act hastily. He did agree that the decree needed some changes.

Please pray that President Susilo will act to uphold his commitment to protect the freedom of religion of his citizens. Pray that the decree will be revoked, and that local law enforcers will abide by the revoked decree and not continue closing churches regardless.


A church in Khartoum, Sudan, was set on fire on October 18th. The building, a simple traditional structure of bamboo reeds, wooden poles and mud with a straw roof, was completely burned. The church of 200 worshippers has existed in the building since 1980, and until now have experienced no problems. On the Sunday following the arson attack they met to worship in the church ruins.

Sudan's first post-war government, which was inaugurated in the third week of September, has yet to respond to the incident. The day after the fire church leaders filed a case at the police station in El-Thawra district. On Monday 24th Rev Yousaf El-Denger Z Kodi reported the arson in detail to the general secretary of the Sudan Inter-Religious Council (SIRC). The church has now submitted a written report to the SIRC, holding the national unity government of Sudan responsible for solving the crime and providing protection to all churches in Sudan. The peace agreement signed in January 2005 guarantees "to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground", including religion.

Pray that religious tensions will not be sparked in Sudan following this attack. Pray that Christians will be protected from harm.

Pray for the newly established national unity government in Sudan, that they will seek to uphold the guarantee in the peace agreement to protect its citizens from discrimination. Pray for wisdom and courage as they establish their governance over the country.

-- The Barnabas Fund, The Old Rectory, River Street, PEWSEY, Wiltshire, SN9 5DB, UK, Tel 01672 564938, Fax 01672 565030, E-mail info@barnabasfund.org Web www.barnabasfund.org

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