Hong Kong, December 3, 2015: China’s ruling Communist Party has officially signaled that it will hold its long-awaited first summit on religion for 10 years in coming weeks, as it prepares to make sweeping changes to its regulations on religious affairs.
The meeting, which reports said could be chaired by party leader Xi Jinping, comes amid growing concerns by the party about surging interest in major religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and its home-grown offshore Daoism.
There is also rising concern in Beijing about violent fundamentalism among ethnic Muslim Uighurs.
There are more than 100 million religious believers in China, with about 6 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants, according to government statistics. However, the figures are often disputed as underestimated.
Chen Zhongrong, vice director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), told a meeting of religious officials Nov. 10 that the central government has planned to convene a national meeting on religious work this year.
Chinese authorities are revising the regulations on religious affairs, he said, according to a Nov. 20 report on SARA’s website.
The regulation was promulgated in 2005 following a party summit in 2001.
Chen said at the meeting that a key focus of the religious affairs department will be to implement the newly amended regulations through the intensive training of religious officials.
The Chinese government has been laying plans to revise the regulations since early this year with Yu Zhengsheng, one of Xi’s key party allies and chairman of the top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, making three visits to the religious sectors.
In 50 days from January to March, he visited headquarters of the five officially recognized religions in Beijing, made a field trip to Baoding — a Catholic stronghold in Hebei — and participated for the first time in the discussion of the conference’s religious affairs committee.
The topic of adapting religions to the socialist country was the subject of a major speech by Xi in the first central meeting for the United Front Work Department in May.
Since then, there have been conferences and learning classes about the “Sinicization of religions and Christianity” in almost every province. In particular, two were held for the Catholic Church in Shandong during and immediately after a Vatican delegation visited Beijing Oct. 11-16.
New regulations, aimed at Muslims in Xinjiang, have also been introduced. Xinjiang issued a ban on burqas in January and urged residents to inform on women wearing them and young men with “large beards.” T-shirts and flags featuring the Islamic crescent — the symbol of the pro-independence East Turkestan flag — also are banned.
As well, there has been a two-year campaign to remove crosses in Zhejiang province.
On Nov. 30, Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory body to the country’s legislature, wrote in the state-run “Global Times” that reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism is a political matter and Beijing would not give up its authority.
In an exclusive interview with Hong Kong-based “Wenweipo” in March, SARA director Wang Zuoan told the pro-Beijing Chinese newspaper that the time was ripe to revise the comprehensive administrative regulations and it would be best to get it done by this year.
He said the government faced new issues in regulating religion such as property rights and use of the Internet.
While the Chinese authorities are amending the regulations, some scholars renewed the call for a religious law.
However, others maintained that each religion has its different aspects and thus a religious law needs careful consideration.
London, December 4, 2015: An Anglican effort to show an ad of the Lord’s Prayer in movie theaters before the upcoming Star Wars movie was rejected by leading U.K. theaters, drawing criticism from many sectors.
Carrie Fisher, the actress who returns to play Princess Leia Organa in “The Force Awakens,” was among the critics.
“I have no idea why they would do that,” Fisher told the U.K. newspaper the Mail on Sunday, comparing the ad to the placement of Bibles in hotel rooms.
“I have never seen an advertisement like this, but if the theater is like a hotel room, then they have every right to put up a power of prayer advert.”
The next Star Wars movie opens in the U.K. on Dec. 17, one week before Christmas Eve.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head prelate of the Church of England, told the Mail on Sunday he thought it “extraordinary” that an ad for prayer was found inappropriate to be shown the week before Christmas.
“Billions of people across the world pray this prayer on a daily basis. I think they would be astonished and deeply saddened by this decision,” he said Nov. 20. “This advert is about as ‘offensive’ as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury appears in the minute-long ad, as do Christians from all backgrounds. They pray the Lord’s Prayer, also called the Our Father.
Digital Cinema Media, the company that supplies advertising to Britain’s major movie theaters, initially offered the Church of England a discounted price for the ad slot.
It later said that the ad had been rejected by its clients, the three major movie theaters of the U.K.: Odeon, Cineworld and Vue. They said they could not carry religious ads. Executives’ emails said that such ads risked upsetting or offending audiences.
The advertising company also implemented a policy barring ads connected to personal beliefs following objections to ads related to the campaigns for and against the Scottish independence vote in 2014.
Richard Dawkins, an atheist polemicist, objected to the idea that the Lord’s Prayer ads should be barred on the ground they could be offensive.
“If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended,” he told The Guardian.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he was “flabbergasted” that anyone would find the prayer offensive.
The Church of England is considering legal action under the Equality Act.
Washington, December 3, 2015: Deadly terrorist attacks like the one in Paris last month and the one in California on Wednesday are indications that a third world war is on the horizon, the Vicar of Baghdad argued Thursday.
Canon Andrew White, who was the only Anglican Vicar in Iraq when the Islamic State terrorist organization rose to power in Iraq and Syria, spoke at a lunch discussion hosted by the Washington-based Institute on Religion & Democracy and explained that Muslims, Christians and Jews need to work together to support the persecuted refugee communities in the Middle East and combat extremist ideologies that are causing society to “fall apart.”
In the wake of Islamic State’s attacks in Paris that killed over 130 civilians and injured over 350 others in November, terror struck in the United States on Wednesday when two gunmen, one of whom was believed to have been in contact with domestic and international Islamic extremists, shot up a social services building in San Bernardino, California, and killed 14 people and injured 21.
While most people in the West have had the luxury of hearing about heinous acts of terrorism by IS and other extremists in the Middle East from afar, White argues now that terror is striking in the heart of Western nations with some regularity, the world is entering a time of war.
“On a day after those events in California yesterday, those awful, terrible events, we realize that the destruction of religion is not just over there, [in the Middle East], it’s here where you are,” White contended. “What we are seeing going on, what we saw in Paris, what we saw yesterday in California, is, as far as I am concerned, the beginning of the third world war. It’s unlike any concept of war we may have had before. Society is falling apart. It’s not just Iraq that is broken — It is society.”
Although IS has been at the forefront of the world’s terror concerns in the last two years, the 51-year-old England native stated that IS is not solely to blame. He said the larger problem facing the world is not the rise of IS, but the rapid rise of radical Islamic extremism throughout the world.
“We talk about ISIS, and it is easy to blame ISIS, ISIL, DAESH, or however you want to call them, for everything. But, they are just part of the problem. The problem is far bigger than one extremist organization,” White, who fled Iraq last year because of death threats from IS, reasoned. “That one extremist organization will have influence throughout the world and so many people are now looking to that group as a means of salvation and a means of identity. Why? Because they, as Muslim, have lost influence and lost power.”
White, who is now residing in Israel and has been visiting the U.S. and Canada for the last couple weeks, said that some Sunni Muslims in Iraq were driven to extremism because they felt as though they have been marginalized.
“Every terrorist group has lost something,” White said. “These people were in Al-Anbar, were in Ramadi and Fallujah, and they lost any significance under the Maliki regime. … And so, when Maliki fell, they fought back and they have fought to show they have power. How do they show they have power? By blowing up people and killing them.”
“Do you know who they are killing most?” White asked. “The people they are killing most are not even the Shiite, it’s now Sunni Muslims. It’s not just that group against the Christians. Yes, they do kill so many Christians, so many Yazidis.”
As millions of Christians, Yazidis, and Muslims have been driven from their homes in Iraq and Syria, White said it is vital for Muslims and Christians to unite in order to help each other and those in need.
“I want to make that clear, as the world goes on about how evil Islam is, whether you like it or not, my biggest partner is Muslim and we have to work together, not against each other,” he said.
White explained that one of his most important partners working in Kurdistan to support the persecuted refugee Christian community is a Muslim dentist named Dr. Sarah Ahmed, who is the executive director of White’s Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
“She is there protecting all of the Iraqi Christians. You never hear anything about it in the news but you hear about the work I am doing. The work that I am doing is being done by a Muslim caring for the Christians,” White stated. “We think and hear about Islamic terrorism all the time. What about Islamic people working for the protection of Christians? I mean, she is feeding thousands of Christians. She is working for them in the refugee camps.”
- christian post
Rome, November 30, 2015: Father Piero Parolari, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), returned to Italy this morning from Bangladesh, following an attack by Islamic extremists on 18 November in Dinajpur.
The clergyman is out of danger, but he will have to undergo a lengthy recovery and follow intensive care. Two physicians, Dr Rapacioli and Dr Rossetti accompanied him on his trip home, courtesy of Alitalia, which provided special assistance.
Now he is recovering as an exceptional measure in Rome’s Bambin Gesù Hospital. The Holy See’s Children’s Hospital has a long history of friendship and cooperation with PIME.
Fr Parolari, 64, is a medical missionary and associate pastor in Suihari and worked at the St Vincent Hospital in Dinajpur. He first came to Bangladesh in 1985.
On 18 November, three armed men on a motorcycle ambushed him on his way to the hospital. The priest fell to the ground and hit his head, bruising his eyes and other parts of the body. He has several broken ribs, which caused a pneumothorax, and a pneumocephalus due to a fracture to the Ethmoid bone.
Local authorities confirmed that Islamists were behind the attack. This reflects growing tensions vis-à-vis Bangladesh’s Christian community.
“Our community would like to thank the government and the authorities, who made themselves immediately available to help Fr Piero,” said PIME regional superior Fr Michele Brambilla, who spoke to AsiaNews.
“The situation remains very tense,” he added. “Today, extremists threatened the life of leading Muslim politician. Intimidation is not aimed only at Christians but also at all those who are working for peace. It is a political-religious problem, not a purely confessional issue.”
Office of Christian TV Channel in Pakistan Burned to the Ground
Earlier this week, the office of a Christian television channel was burned to the ground by unknown assailants in Karachi, Pakistan. Owners and employees of the Christian channel claim the attack was religiously motivated and took careful planning to execute. Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan are often targeted by radical groups. In March, suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore killing almost 20 people.
Pope Francis in Africa: What Are the Key Issues He will Face?
Pope Francis has maintained a strong voice for the persecuted Church. Now that his three-nation tour of Africa has begun, will he address Christian persecution as he visits the continent most racked by such violence towards believers. While he’s there, Kenya has declared Thursday a national holiday to accommodate his visit, but a Kenyan atheist group challenges the institution citing separation of church and state. He also plans to visit Uganda and Central African Republic.
17 Refugees of the Christian Montagnard Minority Return to Vietnam
17 Montagnard refugees are planning to return home to Vietnam after they had fled to Cambodia citing religious and political persecution. The past few years have seen hundreds flee to Cambodia from the central highlands in Vietnam. The Montagnard are predominately a Christian minority group which has experienced persecution and discrimination by local authorities in the region as the central highlands is more rural to the south bordering both Laos and Cambodia. These are the latest to voluntarily return home as their requests for refugee status have gone unfulfilled by the United Nations.
More than 150 Christians Face Imminent Expulsion in Mexico
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 15, local government officials and community leaders in the village of Mariano Matamoros in Mexico have threatened to expel 158 Christians from the small Chiapas community. The threat comes after years of severe religious freedom violations perpetuated against the Christians, and after a recent farmland raid instigated by community leaders against the small Protestant community which left many without food. Since 2012, Protestant Christians in Mariano Matamoros have suffered severe discrimination persecution, and gross abuse of their basic human rights, but the October 15 farmland raid left the Protestant community in an especially desperate situation.
The Paris Attacks Are Bad News For Christian Refugees
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, the shifting tide of sentiment towards refugees fleeing from Syria means even less chance of support for Syrian Christians who were already in bad situation. Every nation is reviewing how such a thing could happen – and what they need to do to prevent an occurrence within their own borders. The conflict and persecution on one side and the fear on the other, leaves them in the middle with dwindling aid and support.
Singapore, November 28, 2015: The Conservative government of Singapore has lifted the ban on 240 publications hitherto forbidden. These include texts that are inspired by Chinese communist doctrine such as “The Long March”, as well as short stories and tales of the colonial past such as the collection of erotic stories “Fanny Hill” of 1748. However, according the Media Development Authority (MDA), religious texts that refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses, outlawed since 1972, are still banned.
Mda explain officials say The Media Development Authority said it “routinely reviews prior classification decisions, in order to ensure that they keep pace with societal norms”.
The “Undesirable Publications Act” maintains the ban for 17 publications which, according to the executive of the city-state, are contrary to public order and morality. This is while the ban remains on the importation, sale and distribution of this material.
These include magazines and books for adults with evident pornographic content and also religious material relating to the doctrine and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The sect has been outlawed since 1972, because they are opposed to compulsory military service and refuse to sing the national anthem.
The Constitution of Singapore on paper guarantees religious freedom but it is restricted in practice. The government requires and encourages the so-called “religious harmony”, prohibiting speeches or initiatives that could be sources of division or discord interfaith.
Buddhists are the largest religious group in Singapore, with about 33% of the population, followed by Christians who represent 18% (7% Catholics), agnostics with 16% and Muslims with just over 14%. There is also a large representative sample of other religious groups, such as Sikhs, Jews and Zoroastrians.
Religion is carefully monitored and each group with more than 10 members must register with authorities. In addition, the law provides for the possibility of outlawing any religious group considered potentially dangerous by the State or inclined to disturb the harmony, public order or the welfare of citizens. To date, only two religious groups have been declared as such by the Government: Jehovah’s Witnesses, outlawed in 1972, followed a decade later by the Unified Church, founded by Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Speaking to Le Messenger, an Egpytian Catholic magazine, Youan spoke passionately about the “chaos” that Western governments have caused by ignoring the advice of Syrians, assuming that Assad’s regime could be destroyed in a few months, and now having faith in airstrikes as the answer when ISIS has thoroughly infiltrated Iraq, Syria and beyond.
“We Christians are not able to live in this chaos,” the Syrian Patriarch said. “The West has betrayed us.”
The patriarch accused Western governments of wanting to “perpetuate the endless conflict in Syria” and of having “betrayed the Christians of the East. We explained from the beginning that our situation was different from that of other nations in the region, they were not listened to. And now we mourn deaths over the past five years. ”
He described the current situation in Syria as “dramatic, and all the Syrian people are living in pain” as they are trapped under the regime of ISIS and other terrorist groups “who use Islam as an excuse to ‘purify’ areas under their control in the name of religion, and Muslim scholars who tell us that Islam is alien to these facts.
“It’s a shame that the West has abandoned Christians to this situation,” he said.
The patriarch said that terrorist groups, with financing from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the area, have thoroughly infiltrated Iraq and Syria, and there are now terrorists moving into Europe posing as refugees.
ISIS “have already infiltrated in European populations. For years they have received money, weapons and religious indoctrination from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, with the supervision of the West. To claim that the solution is to carry out air strikes [in Syria and Iraq] is a lie”, he said.
This is futile, he said, “because their supporters have infiltraded the population, they are financed and have access to weapons and religious indoctrination.”
- christian today
Uzbekistan, November 24, 2015: Ten Christians have been fined by a criminal court in Uzbekistan for meeting together without state permission. The court ordered that their confiscated Bibles and church songbooks be destroyed. In a separate incident, a believer in capital city Tashkent was bullied by police for carrying a Bible in his bag, and fined by a court.
On 25 September, the Karshi Criminal Court in Uzbekistan’s south-eastern Kashkadarya Region fined three Christians 50 times the minimum monthly wage and seven more 30 times the minimum monthly wage, for violating the Religion Law and illegally storing religious literature, according to news agency Forum18.
The same court also ordered that the believers’ personal Bibles, Easter greetings cards, and church songbooks, all of which had been seized by Uzbek authorities, be destroyed.
The Christians had been meeting together without the required state registration when authorities raided their meeting on 26 April. They recorded the names of the believers, questioned them, and filmed the worship service, said Forum18.
Children were also present at the meeting. The authorities filmed a man who said he was speaking on behalf of the Karshi City Education Department. The Church “poisons the minds of the children and deprives them of their bright future,” he said. The head of the Karshi Education Department later confirmed to Forum18 that this man was unknown to them.
Authorities again raided a meeting on 2 August, asking why the Christians were continuing to meet. They promised court action would soon be taken.
Christian man detained and bullied by police in capital city
In a separate incident, Timur Akhmedov, an Uzbek Christian, was stopped by police at a Metro Station in the Mirabad District of the country’s capital city, Tashkent, on 21 September. He was searched, and when the officers discovered his Bible, Christian literature and discs, they confiscated them.
Two weeks later, he was summoned by police and questioned. “Mirabad Police bullied Akhmedov, pushing and pulling him, hitting him a couple of times,” said local Christians. “Officers questioned him about where he received the literature.”
The Tashkent Mirabad District Criminal Court fined Akhmedov five times the monthly minimum wage for illegally storing religious literature, and ordered that it be destroyed.
The publication and distribution of religious literature is subject to intense state control in Uzbekistan and all Christian activity is illegal for members of unregistered churches. Uzbekistan has long been recognised as one of the most repressive regimes in Central Asia with respect to religious freedom.
- barnabas team
Syria, November 20, 2015: “This grace was given to me for the comfort of many,” said Father Jacques Mourad, a priest in the Syriac Catholic Church. When he was in Beirut, we met at the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation. Head of the Mar Elian monastery and responsible for the Christian residents in the village of Al-Qaryatayn, near Palmyra, Fr Murad was abducted by men from the Islamic State group (Daesh), back on 21 May. He was held in captivity for 4 months and 20 days, before he was able to join the so-called free world on 10 October.
Harassed, threatened, and pressured to convert to Islam, he went through several mock decapitations. He was even flogged once, and went through a mock execution the next day. He was held with a seminarian in a bathroom lit only by a skylight, and was reduced to a diet of rice and water, twice a day, without electricity or a watch, completely cut off from the outside world. Yet he managed to remain watchful, and never saw his faith weaken. On the contrary.
His grace, or the miracle in Fr Mourad’s words, was staying alive, not abjuring his faith, and finally finding freedom. “The first week was the hardest,” he said. “After being held for several days in a car, on Pentecost Sunday, I was taken to Raqqa. My first days of captivity were full of fear, anger and shame.”
For Fr Jacques, the turning point in his captivity came on the eighth day when a masked man in black came to the cell, someone who looked like those who appear in Daesh’s videos. “My time is up. That’s it,” he thought. Instead, after asking him his name and that of his fellow prisoner, the man addressed him ‘As-salamu alaykum’, ‘Peace be upon you,’ and entered the cell. A long talk followed as if the unknown man wanted to understand really the two men in front of him.
“Think of this as a spiritual retreat,” he told him, when Father Jacques asked why he was being held. “From then on, my prayers and my days made sense,” the Syrian priest said. “How can I explain this to you! I felt that through him, the Lord was speaking to me. That was very comforting.”
“Through prayer, I was able to regain my peace,” he added. “It was May, the month of Mary. We began to recite the rosary, which I had not done a lot before. My relationship with the Virgin was renewed. The prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila ‘Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid’, also helped me. For her, one night I came up with a melody that I started to hum”.
“Charles de Foucauld’s prayer [also] helped me abandon myself in the hands of the Lord, conscious that I had no choice. For every indication suggested that it was either conversion to Islam, or decapitation. They came into my cell almost every day to ask me about my faith. I lived every day as if it were my last. But I did not give in. God gave me two things, silence and friendliness. I knew that some answers could provoke them, that any word might condemn you.” For instance, “They asked me about the presence of wine in the convent. When I started to answer, the man cut me off. He found my words unbearable. I was an ‘infidel’.”
“Thanks to the prayers, at the Psalms, I entered a peace that has never left me. I even remembered Christ’s words in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, ‘bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’ I was happy to be able to live out these words. It is no small feat to experience the Gospel, especially these difficult verses, which previously were theoretical. I started to feel compassion for my captors.
“Occasionally I would remember Fairuz’s poetic songs,” Fr Jacques said, “especially one about dusk, which I sang during June’s long nights in Raqqa, when we were left in the dark. Even these words and their music became a prayer. They spoke of suffering carved ‘in the twilight’.”
Then one day, Father Jacques Mourad was flogged.
“It was the 23rd day of my captivity,” he said. “They came in suddenly. It was all staged. Flogging lasted about 30 minutes. The whip was made from a piece of garden hose and ropes. It hurt physically, but inside of me, I was at peace. I was consoled by the knowledge that I was sharing something of Christ’s suffering. I was also extremely confused because I felt unworthy of it. I forgave my tormentor even as he whipped me.
“From time to time, I comforted deacon Boutros, my fellow prisoner, with a smile, who could hardly contain himself over my flogging. Later, I remembered the verse in which the Lord says that his strength manifests itself in our weakness. That really struck me because I felt I was weak, spiritually and physically. You see, I have suffered from a bad back since childhood and my conditions in detention were such that the pain should have in principle gotten worse. At the monastery, I had a special mattress, and an ergonomic chair. In prison, I was sleeping on the floor, and I could not walk around the bathroom.
“Later, I got really scared,” Fr Jacques said, “when a man armed with a knife came into our cell. I felt the blade on my neck and the countdown for my mock execution began. In my fright, I entrusted myself to God’s mercy. But it was nothing but a sham.”
On 4 August, the Jihadis took Palmyra and Al-Qaryatayn. The next day at dawn, they took 250 civilians hostage, and brought them to Palmyra. On 11 August, Father Jacques and his companion followed. This is how, “A Saudi sheik came into our cell. ‘Are you Baba Jacques?’ He said. ‘Come on, move it! Qaryatayn Christians can’t stop jabbering about you!’
“I thought I was being taken to be executed. Instead, we travelled by van for four hours. After Palmyra, we took a mountain path leading to a building with a big iron door. When it was opened what do I see? The whole population of Al-Qaryatayn, amazed to see me. It was a time of unspeakable suffering for me – for them, an extraordinary moment of joy. Twenty days later, on 1 September, we were brought to Al-Qaryatayn, free but banned from leaving the village.
“A collective religious contract was signed. We were now under their protection (ahl zemmeh), upon payment of a special tax (Jizya) imposed on non-Muslims. We could practice our rites, provided they did not offend Muslims.
“A few days later, after one of my parishioners died of cancer, we went to the cemetery, near the Convent de Mar Elian. Only then did I find out that it had been levelled. Strangely, I did not react. Inwardly, I felt that Mar Elian had sacrificed his convent and his grave to save us.
“Today, I still feel the same about my captors as I felt when I was their prisoner: compassion,” said Fr Jacques, who is tight-lipped about the way he defied the ban to leave Al-Qaryatayn. “This feeling comes from my contemplation of God’s gaze upon them, despite their violence, as he does upon any man, a gaze of pure mercy, without any wish for revenge.
“Today I know that prayer is the way to salvation,” said the priest, who was a monk at the monastery of Mar Musa, founded by Father Paolo Dall’Oglio. Hence, “We must continue to pray for the still missing bishops and priests whose fate is still unknown; we must pray for my brother, the Father, Paolo Dall’oglio, who disappeared in Raqqa in July 2013).
“We also must pray for a political solution in Syria. This year, we mark a hundred years since the slaughters and exodus of 1915. Without a political solution, emigration will finish the work that began with the 1915 massacres.”
Proposed Iraqi Law Would Force Some Children to Become Muslim
Iraq, November 16, 2015: A new law in Iraq would require the conversion of Children to Islam if their father were to convert or if their mom were to marry a Muslim man or a Muslim-Background Christian. The long-term implications for this would be devastating as changing your ID back to Christian is nearly possible. This puts even greater strain on the church in Iraq and raises serious questions regarding the basic rights and religious freedoms in the country.
1,000 Schools Destroyed by Boko Haram, many Christian Institutions
Nigeria, November 17, 2015: This year alone, Boko Haram has destroyed 1,000 schools in the northeastern portion of Nigeria. Boko Haram, which means no western or ‘non-Islamic’ education has targeted countless schools and universities since their inception as an Islamic terror group. They are most infamous for their attack and subsequent kidnapping of 276 Christian school girls in Chibok, a government area in Borno State, Nigeria. Since their abduction in 2014, 53 have escaped but the rest remain missing. It is likely those who remain missing are either hidden as converted Muslim wives or dead as a result of being used a suicide bombers.
Assyrian Protestant Church in Turkey Reopens 6 Decades Later
Turkey November 17, 2015: One of the oldest protestant churches in the Middle East has been reopened after sitting in ruins for nearly 60 years. The Mardin Protestant Church in Turkey has reopened for services, the first in 60 years. There is just a small population of protestants, or Christians of any denomination, remaining in this part of Turkey, a region that a century ago was home to a substantial number of Christians.
The Priest Who Provides a Safe Haven for Iraqi Christian Refugees
Iraq, November 15, 2015: In the small town of Marka, Jordan, about 20 minutes from downtown Amman, hundreds of Christian refugees and their families live under the steadfast care of Father Khalil Jaar, a humble priest originally from Bethlehem. As hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Iraq and Syria, many have sought refuge in the region, in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. While many of these congregations are themselves small and struggling, they have stepped up to serve those in need.
Large-Scale Islamic Terrorist Attacks in Paris Kill at Least 128
France, November 14, 2015: ICC condemns the horrific attacks and mourn with the families of those who lost loved ones and condemns the brutal attacks which took place across the heart of Paris on Friday evening. The Islamic State (IS, ISIS, Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attacks, threatening that the operation was the “first of the storm.”
Christians And Muslims Fight To Protect Ancient Christian Town Against ISIS
Syria, November 11, 2015: The fighting in Syria has now put another Christian town squarely in the crossfire of Islamic groups attempting to control the country and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The historic town of Sadad has been under fire since October 31 as militants try to advance along a strategic highway linking Damascus and Homs. Hundreds of Christian and Muslim fighters are battling to defend it. Sadad is considered strategic because it lies between Homs and Damascus, the capital of Syria, and two years ago was overrun by ISIS. It was recaptured by the Syrian army, but not before almost 50 Christians were massacred, and believers are once again fleeing the town in fear of the militants.