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World News

World in Brief

  • Brazil: Bible right?


    Geologists are reported to have discovered, deep below the earth’s surface in Brazil, a diamond that contained ringwoodite.

    The mineral ringwoodite was 1.5% water contained as hydroxide ions. Scientists believe this could prove there is a store of water in the earth’s mantle. Graham Pearson, a geochemist at the University of Alberta in Canada, said: ‘It translates into a very, very large mass of water, approaching the sort of mass of water that’s present in all the world’s oceans.’ This idea seems to match Scripture’s description of ‘waters below and waters above’ in Genesis 1.7.

  • Burma: attacks

    Morning Star News

    Artillery and air strikes by Burma (Myanmar) government forces on rebel bases in Kachin state in November displaced hundreds of ethnic Kachin, a predominantly Christian people long targeted, partly because they are not Buddhist.

    The Revd Lama Yaw of the Kachin Baptist Convention, who visited areas near Mohnyin where the offensive intensified on 15 November, said that 200 civilians took shelter in churches after attacks against the Kachin Independence Army. Another Christian leader in Mohnyin said that some 300 villagers had fled their homes on 19 November and were taking shelter in his church.

  • Cameroon: raids

    Barnabas Fund

    On 17 November, Boko Haram militants made a night raid on the village of Tayere, robbing Christians of their possessions and ransacking their church.

    In the neighbouring village of Goldavi, the militants left eight dead and caused significant damage.

  • China: detentions

    Morning Star News

    Zan Aizong, a Christian activist writing against harassment of churches in Zhejiang Province, was temporarily detained and threatened on 3 November, while Zhang Kai, a Christian attorney for churches in Zhejiang, has not been seen since 25 August.

    The detentions are the latest signs of a government crackdown on at least 230 human rights lawyers and activists since July.

  • China: suicide?

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    Chinese church leaders have questioned the official explanation of suicide in the case of a Catholic priest reported dead on 11 November.

    Father Pedro Yu Heping (also known as Wei Heping) departed from Taiyuan in Shanxi province on 6 November, bound for Xingcheng, but never arrived. On 11 November, police informed his family that his body had been found in the Fen River several days earlier. Father Yu, 41, was heavily involved in pastoral work, particularly in poor and remote areas of the country, following his clandestine ordination in 2004 by a bishop from the ‘underground’ church.

  • Egypt: attacks

    Barnabas Fund

    Three gunmen opened fire on a church near the Giza pyramids on 12 November before fleeing the scene.

    This is the latest in a string of attacks against Egypt’s churches.

  • Egypt: disrupted


    In November, there were no new developments for SAT-7 Egypt after the visit of the Censorship Police to the studios on 10 October.

    Police have kept custody of confiscated equipment, which includes a router, cameras and all the computers used for editing, and SAT-7 Egypt’s normal activities remain severely disrupted. There are no live shows running and very few programmes are being recorded. SAT-7 Egypt director Farid Samir was temporarily detained, then released, but potentially still faces charges associated with licensing.

  • Egypt: delayed

    World Watch Monitor

    Bishoy Garas, an Egyptian Christian who was sentenced to six years in prison from September 2012 for offending Islam, was due to have a ruling in favour of his acquittal on 14 November.

    However, the judge adjourned the case until 13 February 2016, owing to ‘the issue’s sensitivity’. The charges, relating to Facebook posts, were found on a fake Facebook page opened in his name. Garas was sentenced, despite new claims by his friends of a named hacker, as well as cyber investigation reports attesting his innocence.

  • India: beaten

    British Pakistani Christian Association

    On 21 November, seven Christian brick kiln workers were detained and beaten by local police after they were stopped and searched on their rickshaw journey home from work at Adha Sukhaira in the district of Sumandri.

    Police officials took the impoverished workers’ salary for the week, which amounted to about £100, after viciously beating them upon discovering that they were Christians. The men were arrested without charges and had to be bailed out on the guarantee of a local community leader.

  • India: defeat for BJP

    World Watch Monitor

    Church leaders and Christian activists in November hailed the defeat of Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party in the state of Bihar as a ‘people’s verdict’ against growing intolerance.

    The BJP-led coalition won just 58 of 243 seats in the Bihar Assembly, while the state’s current ruling coalition (of Janata Dal United and Rashtriya Janata Dal) swept the polls, winning 178 seats. However, the BJP still gained the most votes for a single party – with almost a 25% share of the vote and an increase from the state election of 2010.

  • India: Hindus in decline

    World Watch Monitor

    Hindu nationalists have hit out at Christians and Muslims in India, after the number of adherents to ‘Bharatiya’ (traditionally Indian) faiths fell, according to the recently released results of the 2011 decen-nial national census.

    Although the overall proportion of Christians fell marginally in the last decade from 2.34% to 2.30%, there was a 13% increase in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, causing Hindus to complain of a ‘serious religious imbalance’ in the state.

  • Indonesia: destroyed

    Barnabas Fund

    Although Indonesian authorities in early November said that they would tear down ten churches in Singkil, Aceh province, they have now destroyed a total of 12, after bowing to pressure from Islamists.

    Church leaders are being forced to sign documents saying that they agree to the closures, and local believers are wondering where they will worship now that all the churches in their town are being torn down.

  • Iran: released

    Barnabas Fund

    Suroush Saraie, a convert to Christianity, was released from Adel Abad prison in the city of Shiraz on 11 November, 14 months early.

    Arrested along with six other believers on 12 October 2012, when Iranian security forces raided a prayer meeting in Shiraz, he was detained for five months before facing a court in March 2013. He was found guilty of ‘action against the national security’ and ‘propaganda against the order of the system’ and, on 16 July 2013, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

  • Iran: house church arrests

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    Thirteen Christians were arrested in the city of Varamin, south east of Tehran, following a raid on a house church, while another member of the church who was not at the gathering was arrested at his home in Tehran during the early hours of 2 November.

    Most of the group were previously members of the Emmanuel Protestant Church in Tehran, which was forced to close by Iranian authorities in 2012 and to end its Farsi (Persian) language services. Since the arrests, their whereabouts remain unknown and family members are concerned for their safety.

  • Iran: leave from prison

    Elam Ministries

    Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargarn (also known as Nasim), who suffers with severe health issues, was in early November granted a short period of leave from prison to receive treatment in hospital, although the treatment was cut short because her leave was not extended.

    Maryam, who has been in Evin prison in Tehran since July 2013, has suffered for many years with a heart condition and had heart surgery nine years ago. During her imprisonment she has not been able to receive the regular medical check-ups she requires.

  • Iraq: new law

    Barnabas Fund

    The Iraqi Parliament passed a law on 27 October that states that the Christian children of a father who converts to Islam or of a mother who marries a Muslim automatically become Muslim.

    An amendment proposed by Iraq’s non-Muslim religious communities, suggesting that minors keep their religion until the age of 18, was overwhelmingly rejected by 137 votes to 51.

  • Iraq: Christians delayed

    World Watch Monitor

    Some Eastern European countries have indicated that they are happy to take Christians direct from Iraqi IDP camps.

    But the closure in early December of all airports in northern Iraq because of anticipated air attacks on Islamic State has left 150 already-displaced Christians temporarily stranded in the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The group attended a farewell service held in Mar Elia church in Ankawa, the Christian neighbourhood of Erbil.

  • Kenya: escaped

    Morning Star News

    A secret Christian in November escaped Muslim in-laws who sought to stab him and took his wife and children.

    Former Muslim Hassan Ali narrowly escaped death when Muslim neighbours and in-laws armed with knives knocked on his door in Witu, Lamu County, on 11 November. ‘I thank God that I am alive’, Ali said. ‘I know they were out to kill me. I am praying that my wife will not lose her faith in Christ.’

  • Lebanon: refugees’ plight

    World Watch Monitor

    A church leader still in Aleppo recently visited Beirut to meet some of Lebanon’s 1million Syrian refugees, it was reported in November.

    He met especially with those who had left Aleppo, where they had a decent life with jobs and apartments and were serving in the church and their communities. Unfortunately, many Lebanese view Syrians as second-class citizens and have not welcomed them. They pay almost double the rent paid by locals for small apartments. Those fortunate enough to find work often work long hours for little pay. Even some Lebanese Christians seem to be encouraging this injustice.

  • Syria: betrayed

    Bible Society’s Newswatch (Christian Today)

    The head of the Syrian Catholic Church, Mar Ignace Youssif III Youan, in November said that the West has betrayed Syrians and caused an endless conflict in the country.

    He said: ‘We Christians are not able to live in this chaos’ and added that the West ignored the advice of Syrians, assuming that Assad’s regime could be destroyed in a few months, and now has too much faith in airstrikes as the answer.

  • Syria: 10 released

    Barnabas Fund

    Islamic State (IS) on 24 November released a group of ten more of the 253 Christians who were taken captive nine months ago when militants raided 35 predominantly Christian villages in Hassake province.

    The freed hostages arrived safely in Tel Tamar village in north-eastern Syria and were met by family members. Five of the hostages released are women and five are men.

  • Turkey: church reopened


    Christians of all denominations in November celebrated the reopening of a Protestant church in south-eastern Turkey, just 30 km from the Syrian border.

    On 7 November, the Protestant church in Mardin rang with the praises of a packed congregation, some 55 years after persecution and migration forced its closure. Local politicians and church leaders of all denominations attended the reopening and welcomed it as a sign of the democracy and coexistence of different language and religious groups that could bring positive change to the region.

  • USA: James Ryle dies


    Promise Keepers founder and TruthWorks President James Ryle died on 21 November from congestive heart failure.

    In addition to his work with Promise Keepers and TruthWorks, Ryle served as the pastor of two churches, chaplain for the University of Colorado football team and as a Bible teacher and conference speaker.

  • Uzbekistan: raided

    F18 News (www.forum18.org)

    Police in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent raided a Protestant worship meeting on 8 November, detaining and torturing members of the group and their nursing children.

    Police also stole money and confiscated a large amount of Christian literature, as well as personal property including computers and other electronic devices.