ISIS ‘burned alive’ 20-Y-O Girl after she refused ‘extreme sex act,’ forces sex slaves to become prostitutes, UN rep says

May 27, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

ISISIraq, May 26, 2015: Islamic State militants have allegedly burned a 20-year-old women alive because she refused to perform what a United Nations official deemed was an “extreme sex act.” The same official also disclosed that ISIS is forcing some sex slaves to be prostitutes.

As The Christian Post previously reported, Zainab Bangura, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual crimes in war, recently conducted interviews with displaced ISIS victims in Iraq and Syria, as she toured through five Middle East countries compiling information on ISIS’ sex crimes.

Bangura, who also visited Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, recently spoke with the Middle East Eye and provided more shocking details of the horrors that women and children face at the hands of ISIS’ systemic sex trafficking operations.

“They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality,” Bangura asserted. “We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.”

Through the course of Bangura’s investigation, she has gained an understanding of how ISIS processes religious minority women and girls through its sex slave operation. After capturing the women and girls, Bangura said militants check them to see if they are virgins and examine the women for the features before shipping them off to be sold in sex slave markets.

“After attacking a village, IS splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness,” she said. “The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.”

In a media briefing earlier this month, Bangura stated that ISIS even strips girls naked and puts them on display for sale in sex slave “bazaars.”

In her interview with Middle East Eye, she further explained the pecking order in which the ISIS chain of command gets to pick which girls they get to buy, take home, rape and beat.

“There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market,” Bangura said. “At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.”

As virgins are valued more in ISIS sex slave markets, Bangura told the media briefing that one enslaved woman, who was bought and sold by over 20 different ISIS fighters, was forced to undergo virginity restoration surgery each time she was give to another ISIS fighter. She also mentioned how another sex slave was sold over 22 times.

As more and more radicalized foreign fighters are joining ISIS from nations all over the world, Bangura said that means more fighters are coming with the expectation of receiving a sex slave or jihadi bride, thus continuing to fuel the market.

“To understand this, we must examine the concept of jihad al-nikah, or sexual jihad — whereby women’s bodies are used as part of supporting the IS campaign,” Bangura stated. “There are tens of thousands of men who expect that they will ‘get’ women to ‘marry.’ A woman’s contribution is to marry them and cater for them in many ways, including sexually. IS men may have a wife, as well as several slaves. We heard few stories of wives who helped the slaves to escape.”

- christian post

“Kill them, or else…” Ethiopian Christian jailed, then told to murder pastors

May 26, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Ethiopian Christian jailedWashington, May 23, 2015: Aman Kuni was crammed into a tight jail cell with barely enough room to sleep on the floor, but that was only the beginning of the terror that he would face for his faith in Christ. Just five days after being released from prison in Asella, Ethiopia, he was forced to kneel down, with a pistol pressed between his teeth, and was given the mission to kill two pastor friends, or else his children would die.

“I was commanded to follow the instruction of four covered, armed, persons who spoke in the Oromo language. I was also slapped two times and asked to kneel down. They put their pistol in my mouth and gave me instructions to kill pastors Girma Hippo and Endezina,” Kuni told International Christian Concern’s Ethiopia staffer.

Kuni was instructed to accomplish the mission in three months’ time. If successful, he was promised an easier life abroad, but if he refused, the masked assailants vowed to murder his three children. His wife’s Muslim family had already forcibly taken them away from him, and now he faced this terrifying threat.

Christians Imprisoned on Trumped-Up Charges

On April 25, an estimated 15 police officers surrounded a Christian worship service in Asella about 100 miles south of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. The congregation of the Meseret-Kiristos Church had just witnessed the baptisms of 40 new believers in Christ.

“We were gathered for sharing and encouraging each other with the Word of God,” Kuni recounted. “After we finished the service, police imprisoned us. Some of our friends ran away when they saw the way we were harshly handled,” he added.

Witnesses reported that the police harassed several worshipers and four new converts from Islam fled the scene. Police later arrested them also at a nearby bus station. The number of arrested Christians also reportedly included three church leaders.

The men were held at a police station for two days until they appeared in court where the judge ordered for the case to be investigated.

Kuni and his friends were charged with “holding illegal meetings in secret locations,” and he remained unsure about how long he would stay in jail. The men insisted they had fulfilled all of the legal obligations to hold their meeting, but all Kuni could cling to was his faith in Christ.

“Our main crime was preaching the Good News,” Kuni said.

During the investiagtion, Kuni said he and the others were taken to court twice with no tangible evidence found against them. They were moved to the Assela prison where they were detained for two more weeks.

“The overall situation in the prison is very difficult. More than 168 inmates are stuffed into one small space. The Christians each have just enough space to lie on their sides at night. One of them has to sleep in the area they use as a toilet,” an anonymous source said.

The men were released May 12 on 250 dollars bail each. Kuni says his faith in Jesus helped him to endure this difficult persecution.

“We count ourselves as privileged to be imprisoned like Paul,” he said

Kuni said the court warned their accusers to produce evidence or the charges would be dropped. During the investigation, officials reportedly confiscated documents about church membership. Church leaders fear the persecution will add immense burden on the vulnerable community, particularly on the new Muslim converts who are already facing pressure from their families to return to Islam.

Kuni claims that three Muslim government officials were behind the arrests: Asella Mayor Yusuf, town Security Officer Shemsedin, and Arsi Zone Police Commander Adam.

“If the case is not approved with evidence and dropped the court, it seems those officials were using the government institutions to attack Christianity,” ICC’s Ethiopia staffer said.

The cost that Kuni has paid to follow Christ has been steep. With charges pending over his head, his family estranged, and his children threatened, he now prays for strength and protection for his family during this difficult time.

“For the past five and a half years, I was struggling to care for these three kids,” he said. “Now, I am just praying to God to provide them a safe place.”

- icc

Communist Party to purge officials of faith in ‘Jerusalem of the East’

May 23, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

China ChurchBeijing, May 22, 2015: China’s Communist Party is planning to purge members who secretly follow a faith in Wenzhou, dubbed ‘Jerusalem of the East’ due to the city’s substantial Christian population.

The latest anti-Christian campaign in the city will see the party probe its own ranks, the state-run Global Times reported, following 18 months in which authorities have removed crosses and destroyed churches across Zhejiang province.

“Whoever loses loyalty in the party will be expelled,” it said. “The daily performance of potential members and the possibility that they practice a religion will be examined.”

The planned purge follows a visit late last year by the inspection team of the Communist Party’s Central Disciplinary Committee, which reported that “individual party members in some places participate in religious activities and believe religion”.

Catholics in Zhejiang have told ucanews it is a relatively common for party members to practise their faith in secret in a bid to find a sense of “peace”.

“The central inspection team’s report cannot stop officials from believing in religion,” said one Church source who declined to be named for security reasons. “If you believe in Buddhism, you don’t need a particular inception or sign, and you don’t have to go to church every week.”

In June last year, Zhejiang government websites posted a “commitment letter” for party members to sign, vowing that they would not believe in any religion.

Those who sign up have to make a public commitment to following the Marxist view on religion and are required to further their study of atheist education.

In 2013, the head of the religious committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Zhu Weiqun, warned that party members who follow certain religions would likely become internal agents of their faith.

In turn, that would cause them to be biased when dealing with different religions in China, he added.

- ucan

Beware of ‘white-gloved’ terrorism, Pope tells Middle East nuns

May 20, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Nuns PrayVatican City, May 19, 2015: One day after canonizing the first two Palestinian saints since the early days of Christianity, Pope Francis met with a group of sisters from the Holy Land — urging them to pray for peace against “white-gloved terrorism” and persecution.

Speaking of the newly canonized women, Saints Mariam Baouardy and Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, the pontiff said: “I give you a mission: pray to the two new saints for peace in your land, in order that this never ending war may end, and that there may be peace among your people.”

He made these remarks during a May 18 audience with members of the Religious Carmelites of Bethlehem and the Middle East, and the Sisters of the Rosary of Jerusalem, who were in Rome for Sunday’s canonization.

Meeting with them in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope urged the religious present to also pray for persecuted Christians suffering at the hands of what he described as “white-gloved terrorism.”

These Christians, he said, are “driven from their homes, from their lands, and are victims of persecution ‘with white gloves.’ It is hidden, but it is done!”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has made reference to “white-gloved terrorism.” In June 2014, he spoke of this persecution with “white gloves,” referring to those Christians forced out in a so-called “elegant way”.

The sisters present at the audience with the Holy Father were among the tens of thousands in attendance for the canonization Mass of the Palestinian sisters on May 17.

Saint Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878), canonized Sunday, was a mystic and stigmatic also known as Mary Jesus Crucified. She was a Palestinian and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem. She and her family were members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. She spent time in France and India before helping to found the Carmelite congregation in Bethlehem in 1875.

The other new Palestinian saint, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), was a co-founder of the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters. Born in Palestine, she spent much of her life in Bethlehem and its area, where she helped the poor and established schools and orphanages.

Pope Francis expressed his happiness that the sisters had made the pilgrimage for the canonization. He then recounted a story told him by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, of how he left Jordan in a plane full of nuns.

“Poor pilot,” the Pope joked. “Many thanks!”

The pontiff urged those present once again to “pray much for peace”, and invited them to recite the Hail Mary with him, each in their own language.

The Palestinian women were canonized alongside two others: Saint Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve (1811-1854) and Saint Maria Cristina Brando (1856-1906), from France and Italy, respectively.

- cna

Nigeria: Muslim Fulani Herdsmen have murdered more than 70 Christians

May 18, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Nigerian Christians

Washington, May 15, 2015: More than 70 Christians have been murdered in the past month in Plateau State, Nigeria, including one pastor. The body count has piled up after at least a half dozen attacks perpetrated by Muslim Fulani cattle herders. They frequently terrorize Christian farmers in central Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” states of Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, and others.

Fulani herdsmen regularly raid Christian villages opening up a hail of gunfire, burning homes and churches, and shooting their victims when they run outside to escape the fires.

“The jihadists, in their quest to eliminate Christians in Plateau State and their thirst for blood, have succeeded in killing Christians and burning their houses,” said Gyang, a local man whose full name is withheld to protect his safety.

The most deadly attack occurred on May 2 when herdsmen reportedly set fire to the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) located in Foron town, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area (LGA), killing 27 Christians. The victims included Rev. Luka Gwom and a congregant named Pauline who was married just two weeks prior in the same church building.

The recent raids have all occurred in two areas of Plateau State: Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs. These frightening experiences have become nearly a weekly terror for Christians in the region. From April 25 to May 11, Gyang reported at least six attacks on more than eight villages, some of them targeted more than once during that time span.

“We in Riyom and Barkin Ladi LGAs have been under siege and invasion. Lives have been lost almost every day, and [there is] no serious action from any quarter by the government. But we are still faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Gyang said as he recounted an attack that killed two members of the Rim town community as they were returning from the burial of fellow Christians who were slaughtered in a Fulani raid that happened just days before.

Sadly, this recent string of assaults is nothing new for brothers and sisters in Christ in central Nigeria. In mid-March, Muslim Fulani cattle herders massacred 82 Christians in a village in Benue State, according to Nigerian news reports. However, the secular media and Nigerian authorities have been slow to acknowledge these events as Christian persecution.

“It is the longstanding issue over grazing rights and cattle rustling between Egba and Fulani people,” police spokesman Ezeala Austin said after the March attack.

Despite the historic tensions Austin cites, witnesses to the assaults often recount that the herdsmen chanted “Allahu Akhbar” during the attack, the Arabic saying, “God is Great,” which has become associated with jihadist Muslim terrorism. The herdsmen also continually and specifically target Christian villages.

One Plateau State government official vaguely referenced recent incidents of cattle rustling by predominantly-Christian tribes in Wase LGA in connection to the attacks of the past month, but  reports suggest no linkage between the events. Wase LGA is located 160 miles away from Barkin Ladi and Riyom.

International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager of Africa Troy Augustine said, “The world should wake up to the forgotten persecution happening all over Nigeria’s Middle-Belt. Extremist Muslim Fulani herders are regularly and consciously attacking Christian villages and slaughtering our brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t know what else needs to be explained to acknowledge that these people are persecuted because of their faith. While the world rightly remembers and prays for Christians in northern Nigeria under threat from Boko Haram, let us not forget those who live under daily suffering at the hands of jihadists also happening in central Nigeria.”

- icc

Chinese province bans rooftop Crosses on churches & remove 400 Crosses.

May 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

China Bans Christian rooftop crossesChina, May 7, 2015: The Chinese province of Zhejiang is set to ban all rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches, and has already removed hundreds of such crosses despite mass protests from Christians.

“The authorities have attached great importance to this religious symbol,” pastor Zheng Leguo from Zhejiang told The Associated Press. “This means no more prominent manifestation of Christianity in the public sphere.”

While the draft for the ban is yet to be approved, authorities have removed nearly 400 crosses from the rooftops of churches since early 2014. Officials have claimed that these crosses violate government building codes, but the growing Christian community in China has said that it is being persecuted and is seen as a threat to the Communist Party.

Exact statistics of how many Christians there are in China are hard to come by, with estimates ranging from 23 million to as many as 100 million, AP noted. With the Communist Party boasting a membership of 85 million people, the rise of Christianity has prompted stricter government measures for believers and their houses of worship.

Officials have also arrested Christian pastors on a number of occasions, accused them of “disturbing public order” by gathering Christian crowds. Pastor Huang Yizi is one pastor who was arrested in August 2014 under such a charge, and threatened with seven years in prison for speaking out against the government’s crackdown of churches.

In another major crackdown in September in the Guangdong province, nearly 100 Christians, including children, were arrested while they were attending a service at a house church.

“It is unbelievable that local authorities arrested over 100 church members, including children, in Foshan city. Even though most people have been released, the experience has been traumatizing,” International Christian Concern Regional Manager for Southeast Asia Sooyoung Kim said at the time.

While the Chinese government allows for some Christian churches to operate under its guidelines, it has banned house churches and arrested underground church leaders.

Beijing authorities have also called Christian pastors and religious scholars into meetings to instruct them that the Christian faith must be free of foreign influence but “adapt to China,” meaning to follow the rules of the Communist Party.

Zheng noted that the Communist Party has cracked down even harder on Christians in the past. He added that although the proposed ban on crosses is so far limited to one province, the measure represents “a restriction on the public space for Christianity.”

- christian post

From hip-hop to jihad, how the Islamic State became a magnet for converts

May 8, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Europe IslamistEurope, May 6, 2015: She was a redheaded rebel, the singer in the family, a trash-talking, tattooed 21-year-old wrapped up in a hip-hop dream of becoming Holland’s Eminem. Then Betsy found Allah.

After her sudden conversion to Islam last summer, Betsy — a name given by her family to protect her identity — began dressing in full Muslim robes. By January, the once-agnostic Dutch woman, raised in a home where the only sign of religion was a dusty Bible on a shelf, began defending homegrown terrorists. A feud with her father over her apparent radicalization prompted her to leave home — turning up days later, her parents and Dutch authorities now say, in Syria, where she would become the bride of an Islamic State fighter.

She also became part of a growing crisis in Europe, where a surging number of young people from non-Muslim homes are flocking to the Middle East to heed the call of violent jihad. It is happening, terror experts say, as converts emerge as some of the most dangerous and fanatical adherents to radical Islam — a fact driven home this week by Elton Simpson, a 30-year-old American convert who joined one other man in opening fire on a Garland, Tex., contest for cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

“I don’t blame Islam,” said Betsy’s mother, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her daughter. “I blame the people who made her believe in a radical way of life.”

As the Islamic State’s recruiting efforts have grown, concern in the West has largely centered on Europe’s entrenched Muslim communities — communities that have spawned more than 4,000 mostly young and socially isolated Muslims who have left to join Islamist militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. Once there, the new arrivals can transform into what intelligence officials call the most dangerous kind of radical: one with a Western passport.

Yet the Islamic State’s allure is hardly confined to traditional Muslim homes. In fact, as many as 1 in 6 Europeans joining the self-styled caliphate are converts to Islam from non-Muslim faiths including Christianity, as well as nonreligious backgrounds. In some countries, such as France, the ratio of converts among those leaving is significantly higher: about 1 in 4, according to European intelligence officials and terrorism experts.

[Islamic State appears to be fraying from within]

The swell of converts happens as the Islamic State appears to be actively wooing them, using savvy social media outreach and recruitment drives. A number of female converts who have joined the Islamic State, for instance, have turned to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to encourage others to join. Increasingly, converts are being deployed in Islamic State propaganda aimed at the West, including videos for recruitment as well as for stirring fear.

In one video, for instance, Swedish convert Michael Nikolai Skramo — who grew up near Gothenburg and who European security officials believe moved with his wife and two children to Raqqa, Syria, in September — is shown calling, in Arabic and Swedish, for more Western fighters to join the Islamic State. “The door to jihad is standing there waiting for you,” he says. “It is the fastest way to paradise.”

In another Islamic State video released last year, several fighters — including “Jihadi John,” identified by The Washington Post as Mohammed Emwazi — were shown cutting the throats of captured Syrian pilots. At least one of the killers has been identified as Maxime Hauchard, a French convert to Islam from Normandy. And last month, a high-quality video released by the group graphically depicts its ruthless deeds as Denis Cuspert, a German hip-hop artist known as Deso Dogg who converted in 2010 and later joined the Islamic State, delivers a rap-like chant portraying the path to jihad as a chance for empowerment, spiritual fulfillment, vengeance and adventure.

Simpson — who, along with 34-year-old Nadir Soofi, was killed after opening fire on a security guard at the Texas event — was an Illinois-born homegrown radical who converted at a young age. His attorney described him as extremely devout, and U.S. officials think he and Soofi may have been inspired by the Islamic State.

Simpson was suspected previously by authorities of attempting to fly overseas to wage violent jihad, telling an FBI informant in May 2009, “It’s time to go to Somalia, brother,” later adding, “We gonna make it to the battlefield. . . . It’s time to roll,” according to court records.

Converts “are the most vulnerable because they do not yet fully understand Islam,” said Jamal Ahjjaj, an imam at As-Soennah Mosque in The Hague, where Betsy’s parents say she occasionally worshiped. “When we have religious classes for converts, sometimes there are people — the wrong people — waiting outside the mosque to greet them.”

Who are the converts?

Latifa, a converted British Sunni MuslimIn the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era, cases of converted extremists have cropped up on both sides of the Atlantic and include the likes of Adam Gadahn, an American who rose through the ranks of al-Qaeda, and John Walker Lindh, another American who fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet the number of converts streaming to aid the Islamic State, experts say, is far greater than in any other modern conflict in the Islamic world.

For Europe, in particular, the broad appeal of the Islamic State is rapidly morphing the group’s message of violence into a dangerous social problem at home, increasing the risk of homegrown terror and the chance that lost youths become indoctrinated into a perilous, cultlike lifestyle.

The profiles of converts joining the Islamic State often mirror that of Betsy. The child of divorced parents, she dropped out of school by age 14, was busted for shoplifting by 16 and was struggling with a drug problem at one point.

Here in the Netherlands, more than a dozen of those who have left for the Islamic State came, like Betsy, from the single largest pool of converts: young women. For instance, at As-Soennah Mosque, the heated national debate in the Netherlands over ­Islamist extremism has fueled a mini-boom in converts. Last year had the highest number, 97, since the mosque opened in 1993. Most were ages 19 to 21, and more than 70 percent were women. Many of them, mosque officials said, were dealing with problems at home.

“You find that a lot of the converts going to the Islamic State are girls, girls with problems, girls who have been prostitutes, girls with psychological and behavioral issues, sometimes borderline personalities,” said Marion van San, a senior researcher on foreign fighters at an institute affiliated with Erasmus University in Rotterdam. “Then someone comes along and promises that Allah is going to give them a second chance.”

Converts, experts say, also make easier targets. At least some tend to be lost souls searching for answers. For a minority of them, the radical ideology of the Islamic State is providing a heady sense of belonging, structure and a clear set of rules.

‘This is the way, brother’

A 30-year-old former convert to Islam who asked that his name be withheld because he has received death threats for leaving the faith and is still on parole after serving a prison sentence in the Netherlands on terrorism charges cited his own spiritual and political journey as an example. His first contact with Islam came after his parents divorced when he was a teenager and he began socializing with devout Muslim friends in the immigrant neighborhood where his alcoholic father had relocated.

“I noticed they had all the answers,” he said. “They offered me what I was looking for.”

After the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, he followed a more radical path. He began surfing the Internet for information on the Taliban and found its absolutist worldview to be intoxicating. He began skipping school to read the Koran, spending more time studying the lives of “martyrs,” whose deaths in violent jihad had, he believed, paved their way to paradise. He left his moderate mosque for a more conservative one and quickly met a Dutch Moroccan extremist in the Netherlands who would further radicalize him.

Soon he was on a plane to Pakistan to train in a terrorist camp. After his arrest and deportation to the Netherlands, he connected again with a group of homegrown radicals whom he had known before, some of whom were advocating domestic terrorist attacks akin to the 2004 killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Not knowing that his home was under police surveillance, the convert agreed to store a cache of hand grenades in an apartment. When the hideout was stormed, he threw a grenade at police. “I wanted to die in bullets and go to paradise,” he said.

But he was apprehended alive. And during 8 1/2 years in prison, he began clearing his head of radical notions by, “of all things,” reading the works of Plato and by putting his faith in science and philosophy instead of religion. He emerged, he said, as if from a dream, shedding the hold that Islamist thought had over him.

Although he abandoned his adopted faith, his radicalization left a painful legacy in the form of his younger bother. The 30-year-old had helped to convert him years earlier, and, as the older brother sat in jail, the younger one maintained his associations with radicals, growing increasingly extreme. Three months ago, the 30-year-old said, his brother left the Netherlands for Syria to join the Islamic State.

“Dutch parents tend to be very liberal. They aren’t giving clear answers to what’s right and wrong, so some of us go looking for answers elsewhere,” the older brother said. “You don’t understand what it’s like when you meet someone who can set aside all your doubts and has convincing arguments and tells you, ‘This is the way, brother, and all you have to do is follow it.’ ”

Such transformations, like Betsy’s, can occur before parents understand what is happening.

‘Looking for something’

In the fall of 2013, a slightly awkward redhead with thick Poindexter glasses took the stage at “The Next MC” — a contest show like “American Idol” for aspiring hip-hop artists in the Netherlands. A YouTube video shows Betsy, with her long locks in cornrows and sporting a navy blue sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “b—-,” rapping in Dutch to an insouciant crowd.

“You try to be tough, but you aren’t,” one of the judges tells her. “You are really a sweet girl.” That was the Betsy her parents knew.

They divorced when she was still a child, so Betsy grew up between homes, initially living with her mother. After her mother suffered a serious illness, Betsy moved in with her father. By then, she was a teenager hanging with a tough crowd, experimenting with drugs and running afoul of the law. She got a tattoo on her middle finger — “C’est la vie” — to accentuate her point when flipping the bird.

Still, her father, Pete, 53, who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used, said, “She had a softness about her.” And he sensed a change for the better brewing in 2013. She had sought out the old Bible he kept on a shelf. “She was looking for something, I don’t know what, but some kind of peace,” he said.

The precise timing of her leap from aspiring rapper to Islamic State bride is somewhat unclear. But in 2013, she started a relationship with a young Dutch Turkish man who, according to people familiar with the situation, had left for Syria in 2014 to join the Islamic State. That same year, a close friend of Betsy’s who had converted to Islam, began introducing her to the faith, Betsy’s parents said.

Betsy, said her mother, contacted another Dutch convert in 2014 who had left for Syria that year with a former boyfriend, whom she married. Betsy also began to attend special events with a small Muslim prayer group that was not sanctioned by the local mosque and that her parents think included radical voices that wooed their daughter into extremism.

In a religious ceremony late last year, she married a Syrian man but left him only days later, claiming he was “too soft” a Muslim.

Yet the timing of her departure, Betsy’s family thinks, appeared spontaneous — a choice born of anger following the blowup at home after she defended the Islamist shooters who went on a rampage in Paris. After the family had heard nothing from her for days, Betsy finally sent a text to her father.

“Where are you?” he asked.

“Where do you think,” she replied, “in Syria.”

“No!!!” he texted back.

“Don’t pretend that you care,” she answered.

Her parents later found evidence on a computer that she had cashed in her savings and booked travel to Turkey. An arranged contact met her in Istanbul and took her by bus to the Syrian border, which she eventually crossed. Dutch authorities declined to comment on her case beyond confirming that they think she is still in Syria. She has told her parents that she is now the bride of a Dutch Moroccan national fighting for the Islamic State and that she spends most of her time learning Arabic and studying the Koran.

[The Islamic State’s war against history]

Her parents now live for her texts, which come once a week at best, apparently during rare times when she has an Internet connection. She has relocated from place to place, her parents said, because of bombing campaigns. A photo that she recently sent them shows her in a flowing blue niqab, in a room with a Middle Eastern-style wood-burning oven. But something about her face seemed different, Pete said.

“You can see there is no innocence left,” he said. “I look at that hard expression, and I cannot see my baby girl.”

- the washington post

New Islamic state video shows militants killing 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya

April 29, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Islamic State fightersLibya, April 23, 2015: “To the nation of the cross, we’re back again,” says a masked Islamic State (IS) fighter on a video posted on social media sites on Sunday (19 April), just before 30 Ethiopian Christians are brutally executed on screen. Their killings justified by their refusal to accept Islam or pay the humiliating jizya tax, 15 Ethiopian Christians are gruesomely beheaded on a Libyan beach and another 15 are shot in the back of the head in the Libyan desert.

The title of this latest video is “Until There Came to Them Clear Evidence”, a quote from the Quran (98:1) that says: “Those who reject (Truth) among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them Clear Evidence”. The message of IS is clear: the killing of Christians who deny the “Clear Evidence” and refuse to accept Islam is upon their own head and therefore justified.

Denouncing Christianity as having deviated from true monotheism after the time of Christ, the 29-minute-long IS production begins with a history of the early church. Muslims believe that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity renders Christians “polytheists”. For Islamic State fighters, the penalty for the so-called deviation from the truth is subjugation (dhimma) or death.

The recorded voice of cleric Abu Malik Anas Al-Nashwan presents Christians with two options if they do they do not accept Islam. “Those who embrace Islam or jizya will be safe,” he says. An Islamic provision that subjugates Christians living in areas under Islamic rule, the payment of a jizya head tax allows them to live in the land and practice their religion, but always in the knowledge that they owe their very lives to those who rule over them.

If, however, Christians refuse to accept the dhimmi status offered to them through the jizya, they “will have nothing from us but the edge of the sword,” says Al-Nashwan. “The men will be killed, the women and children enslaved, and the money seized. That is Allah and the prophet’s judgment.”

The rest of the video is devoted to presenting the two possibilities offered to the world’s Christians. First, Christians living in Raqqa, Syria, are shown testifying to living in peace and holding onto their property after having paid the jizya. They claim that the Islamic courts set up by IS are able to deal with any matters that arise, and do not discriminate against them. They are heard urging fellow Christians to return to Raqqa and follow suit.

The scene then changes to Mosul, Iraq, where Christians refused to accept Islam or the dhimmi status. Images of fighters destroying churches and crosses flash across the screen. Al-Nashwan is heard saying that Caliph Ibrahim, as the leader of IS is known among his followers, decided to send Mosul’s Christians into exile rather than kill them, in a display of mercy. Their homes, however, are now in the possession of IS.

Finally, the video records the beheadings of 15 Christians, dressed in orange uniforms and lined up on a beach in Libya’s Barqa province, followed by the shooting of another 15, dressed in dark-coloured uniforms, in a desert in Libya’s southern Fezzan region. Rolling subtitles name the victims as “worshippers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church”.

Reminiscent of a video posted in February this year in which 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded on the Libyan coastline, the latest video threatens Christians all over the world. “We tell Christians everywhere that the Islamic State will spread, God willing,” says Al-Nashwan. “It will reach you even if you are in fortresses.” A masked militant warns believers everywhere, “We swear to Allah… you will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam”.

In response to the video, Ethiopia has said, “We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians or not.” Following the killings of Egyptian Christians earlier this year, Egypt has called on all migrant workers living in Libya to return home. Like Egypt, many Ethiopians live and work in Libya, their Christians extremely vulnerable to the spread of IS violence.

- barnabas

More Christians martyred today than in first century: Pope Francis

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

christian first century martyrsVatican City, April 7, 2015: The number of Christians being martyred today surpasses that of the first century, Pope Francis has said.

In his Regina Caeli prayers the Holy Father said: “Persecuted Christians are the martyrs of our time. May the international community not remain mute and inert in the face of this crime.”

Last week almost 150 Kenyan Christians were murdered by al-Shabaab terrorists at Garissa university. It is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year worldwide.

In his address, Pope Francis spoke about the meaning of Easter, saying: “In Him, through our Baptism, we are risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love.

“This is the Good News that we are called to carry to others in every environment, animated by the Holy Spirit. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters.

“To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is risen,” he urged the crowd, adding that the Good News of the resurrection should “shine on our face, in our feelings and in our behavior, in the way in which we treat others.

“We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able to share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile, and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness,” the pope said.

“And there — with our attitude, with our witness, with our life — we say ‘Jesus is Risen,’ with our soul. Let our lives be conquered and transformed by the resurrection.”

- the catholic herald

Pope prays for end to persecution in Easter Sunday address

April 6, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

pray for the persecutedVatican City, April 6, 2015: Pope Francis prayed for the students massacred by Islamist militants at Garissa University in Kenya during his Easter Sunday address, asking for an end to the persecution of Christians.

Francis, after saying Mass for thousands of people in a rainy St. Peter`s Square, delivered a mostly sombre and grim “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

Attacks on Christians in Africa and the Middle East have been the grim backdrop of all Holy Week ceremonies leading up to Easter.

“We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence – and there are many,” he said.

The pope spoke as churches in Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen massacred nearly 150 people, singling out Christians for point-blank executions, turned to armed guards to protect their congregations on the most important day of the Christian liturgical year.

“May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya – for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.”

The 78-year-old Argentine pope, celebrating the third Easter of his pontificate, spoke from the central balcony of St Peter`s Basilica after saying a Mass below for tens of thousands of people wearing plastic ponchos and holding umbrellas against the driving rain.

Calling for peace in Libya, where last February Islamic State militants beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, the pope called for an end to “the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence”.

He prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, where Boko Haram Islamist militants have also targeted Christian churches.

“We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subjected to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups,” he said.

“Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who make their money from the blood of men and women” he said.

Just about the only positive part in the pope`s address was a reference to the deal reached in Switzerland last week between Iran and the international community on a framework for a nuclear accord.

“In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,” he said.

- zee news

Next Page »