On 17 February, more than 14 homes and churches were torched and missionary centres vandalised in the area around Kaga-Bandoro, in the north-central part of the Central African Republic.
Local Christians said that many pastors fled to the town of Kaga-Bandoro, where another church was burned.
Bible Society’s Newswatch (BBC)
Hate, anger and grief were all part of the reaction in Egypt to the news of mass beheadings of 21 Christian Egyptians in Libya in February.
But one Christian Egyptian shared a different message, one of forgiveness and peace. A video by Anne Alfred, a young Christian singer, calling for mercy instead of hate has been watched over half a million times and messages of support and solidarity poured in from Egypt's Christians and Muslims alike.
French Catholic groups are suing the Gleeden website for openly encouraging people to break their marriage vows, it was reported in February.
Catholic associations in January succeeded in persuading several local councils around Paris to remove Gleeden’s advertising posters promoting the ‘joys’ of adultery after 23,000 people signed a petition against them and are taking the dating website for married people who fancy an affair to court in France, where the site counts more than a million members. The site was founded by two Frenchmen based in New York.
India: 4 beaten
Morning Star News
In February, Hindu extremists in Jharkhand state sought to shame Christians, as four women were publicly beaten.
On 8 February, 11 assailants dragged four Christian women from their prayer meeting in Navardi, Chatra, to a public meeting site, where they beat them and partially stripped one. The women had just finished their meeting at a home when the Hindu extremists charged in, reviled them for praying to Christ and dragged them out to the road, said area church leader Rampath Nayak.
India: right to freedom
World Watch Monitor
Critics of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were ‘pleasantly surprised’ by his unequivocal assertion of the right to freedom of religion while addressing a major church event in New Delhi on 17 February, ending his silence on a recent spate of anti-Christian violence and propaganda.
However, while hailing Modi’s stand, the mood among Christians, secular activists and media remains unanimously to urge Modi to ‘walk the talk’. Modi’s federal government is led by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for espousing a Hindu nationalist agenda.
India: religious apartheid
Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
On 26 February, India's Supreme Court opened the way for Christians to convert to Hinduism and access scheduled caste beneﬁts.
Indian law mandates that only Hindus can be members of 'scheduled' castes who are eligible for government benefits and reserved jobs. Now converts will need merely to prove that they have an ancestor who was a member of a scheduled caste and that they have the support of the local Hindu community. The Supreme Court ruling consolidates the inequity and religious apartheid of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) at a time when Hindutva forces are escalating their re-conversion efforts across the nation.
World Watch Monitor
20 Christian men on an evangelical mission in north-western India were illegally detained and tortured by police in late February, according to a human rights group which intervened to force their release.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties worked with local Christians to persuade senior officials to sanction the release of the men, but several were left with severe bruising after the 25 February incident in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state.
The Libyan prime minister appealed to Western nations for help ﬁghting ISIS after a mass beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on 15 February.
The murdered Christians were Egyptians who had been captured by ISIS in Libya. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said he is concerned that the militants will continued to wreak havoc in the area and continue into Europe. ‘We have absolutely confirmed information that al Qaeda and IS are in Tripoli and ... near Ben Jawad’, Thinni said. ‘I ask world powers [to] stand by Libya and launch military strikes against these groups. This threat will move to European countries, especially Italy.’
Led by a Buddhist monk, a group of assailants attacked the church in predominantly Christian Borang village in Dhading district on 1 February.
The monk forced the Christian villagers to convert to Buddhism and ordered them to stop all Christian worship. The pastor and elder of the church, who refused to obey, were attacked. The church elder managed to escape, but the pastor was captured and beaten for three days, then forced to place his finger print on a document stating that he would stop running the church and would not report the incident to police authorities or leave the village. He is still in Borang.
African Christian Textbooks / World Watch Monitor
70-year-old Phyllis Sortor, a long-serving Free Methodist missionary active in education, health services and clean-water development, was kidnapped on 24 February.
Born in Rwanda to Portuguese and French missionary parents and based in the US state of Washington when not in the field, Phyllis was taken by several men from the Hope Academy, in the central state of Kogi. She has been very involved in starting schools especially for the benefit of the Fulani people of Nigeria. There has been contact with the kidnappers. Friends describe Phyllis as ‘very courageous’ – please pray for her.
Nigeria: election fears
World Watch Monitor
Ahead of Nigeria’s general elections on 28 March, hundreds, fearful of election violence, have ﬂed back to their place of origin.
The election, originally scheduled for 14 February, was postponed for security reasons. The two main candidates are incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Retired Gen. Muhammed Buhari of the opposition (All Progressive Congress, APC). This has crystallised tensions and divisions along religious and ethnic lines. The conflict after the 2011 election provoked an eruption of violence which claimed more than 800 lives and left lasting scars on many Nigerians.
Sudan: land seized
Morning Star News
The Sudanese government on 18 February helped Muslim investors take over the remaining property of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church (afﬁliated to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church) in Khartoum North.
Riot police on two trucks arrived at the church property at noon and assisted in the seizure of the land by force. ‘Over the past year they have aided another Muslim businessman to seize a piece of the land, and today they are taking the only piece of land left for the church’, a church leader said. The church is appealing to Christians worldwide to pray for them.
Turkey: permit granted
Morning Star News
After a ﬁve-year court battle, a US evangelist, singled out by Turkey’s Ministry of the Interior for deportation because of his outreach activities, was in January granted a residency permit to stay in Turkey.
During the five years, David Byle, cofounder of the Holy Book Information Association, also known as the Bible Correspondence Course in Turkey (BCC-Turkey), was unsure from month to month if he might be detained and deported. Byle attributes the visa coming through to God’s power, but also said that it is an example of the system in Turkey – byzantine though it may be – working properly.
Saturday. F18 News (www.forum18.org)
Umid Gojayev, a 32-year-old Protestant imprisoned on charges of hooliganism which local Protestants insist were brought because of his religious beliefs, was freed from the general regime labour camp in Seydi on 17 February under a prisoner amnesty to mark Flag Day.
After his release, Gojayev boarded a train for the two-day journey via the capital Ashgabad [Ashgabat] to return to his wife and three young children in the northern city of Dashoguz. Once home, he will have to report to his local police officer every
A legal advocacy group, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in February labelled potential presidential candidate Ben Carson an ‘extremist’ because of his support of biblical marriage, which the group calls ‘anti-LGBT’.
In response to the ‘extremist’ label, Carson said: ‘When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. It is important for us to once again advocate true tolerance’.
World: new WEA CEO
Fellowship of European Broadcasters
Bishop Efraim Tendero, previously National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, began his ﬁve-year tenure as the new Secretary General and CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance on 1 March.
Bishop Tendero said: ‘I am humbled by the trust that is given to me to be the leader of evangelicals around the world. This is an enormous task and I put my whole trust and confidence in the Almighty God who called me into this ministry, believing that he will provide the wisdom, favour and grace needed in carrying out this solemn responsibility.’