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World News

World in Brief

  • Algeria: vandalised

    Morning Star News

    Unknown ‘thugs’ who wrote a jihadist slogan on a church building in the centre of Tizi-Ouzou, a city on the Algerian coast, on the night of 7 January, looted and damaged the property.

    The assailants vandalised or stole furniture, worship items and money worth about £5,500 from the Light (Tafat) Church during the night, pastor Mustapha Krireche said. The church, which has about 100 members, is surrounded by upmarket houses that would be more profitable for thieves interested solely in material goods and money.

  • Bangladesh: murdered

    Open Doors

    A senior pastor, Khaza Somiruddin (75), was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists on 6 January in Jenaidah.

    Pastor Khaza came to Christ in 2001, started pastoring the One Way Church of Bangladesh in 2014 and throughout his ministry ministered to over 250 believers in the area. He had received several threats from Islamic extremists because of his conversion and evangelistic work. Pastor Khaza’s body was refused a Christian burial and was eventually buried with a Muslim ritual.

  • EU: IS ‘genocide’

    World Watch Monitor

    The European Parliament has declared the violent campaign by the so-called Islamic State against Christians and other religious minorities to be genocide.

    ‘Daesh commits genocide’, according to the resolution passed 4 February by a show of hands from representatives of the 28 nations. Daesh is an English representation of the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The vote in Strasbourg, France, came eight days after the Council of Europe, a legally non-binding human-rights consortium, adopted a largely similar resolution.

  • Cameroon: call for peace

    World Watch Monitor

    Christian and Muslim leaders in northern Cameroon in January reiterated their call for tolerance and peace in the face of a surge of terror attacks by the Nigerian radical Islamic group Boko Haram.

    On 21 January, several prominent religious leaders gathered in the town of Mora to discuss peaceful coexistence. The conference was co-chaired by the Sultan of Wandala, Boukar Alhaji Yerima Brahim; the Revd Gregory Cador, Episcopal Vicar of Mora; and the Revd Samuel Heteck, president of the Protestant Churches Council in northern Cameroon.

  • China: arrested

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    Chinese church leader and activist Hu Shigen was formally arrested on 8 January, having been detained on 10 July 2015 during a spate of detentions, disappearances and interrogations affecting over 300 human rights lawyers, activists, their associates and family members.

    Hu is among 11 others detained since July 2015, who were formally arrested in January. Detained at Tianjin Municipal Detention Centre Number 1 on suspicion of ‘subversion of state power’, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, he has not been allowed any contact with family or a legal representative.

  • Cuba: arrested

    Barnabas Fund

    Police in Cuba arrested the leaders of two churches in two different parts of the country on 8 January, while government officials destroyed the buildings with no prior warning.

    Both pastors had the correct government permits for the buildings. The recent demolitions are cause for concern in a country where churches are forbidden from evangelising, running schools, and broadcasting on radio or television.

  • Germany: alternative TV

    Fellowship of European Broadcasters (FEB)

    Bibel TV is advertising in a nationwide poster campaign on 10,000 billboards, it was reported in late January.

    It started in December in five cities – Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Cologne – with stickers in U- and S-bahn trains. Social media accompanies the billboard campaign, asking users to send photographs of billboard sightings to zuschauer@bibeltv.de. The campaign is especially targeted towards people who do not yet know Bibel TV, telling them that there is a worthwhile alternative to conventional programmes.

  • Iran: released

    Morning Star News

    US-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini was released on 16 January as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and the US.

    On 27 January 2013, an Iranian court sentenced Abedini (35) to eight years in prison for allegedly threatening ‘national security’ by planting house churches in early 2000. He was tortured at various times throughout his imprisonment, and in 2015 prison officials further pressured him to recant his faith by threatening to hold him in prison indefinitely. Abedini’s wife Naghmeh asked for prayer for her husband’s transition back to freedom.

  • Iran: 30,000 Bibles

    Elam Ministries

    30,000 copies of the ‘Action Bible’ have been published in Persian, it was reported in late January.

    In 2013, the New Testament ‘Action Bible’ was launched in Persian and has been incredibly popular with Iranian children and young teens. Now they will also be bowled over by the action-packed illustrated stories of the Old Testament. Another 150,000 New Testaments were also printed recently, ready for more evangelism in the Iran region.

  • Iraq: properties sold

    Barnabas Fund

    Islamic State (IS) held an auction on 16 January to sell off the Christian homes seized by the group in Mosul when it drove out hundreds of thousands of Christians in 2014.

    The properties and their furniture were sold off cheaply, apparently in a bid to raise funds to stem IS’s financial difficulties. Syrians who had fled to Mosul to escape the conflict in Syria bought most of the properties. But one woman, Umm Alaa, bought back her Christian neighbour’s house for her so that her home would be waiting for her when she came back to Mosul.

  • Iraq: released

    Bible Society’s Newswatch (Premier)

    An Iraqi priest, who has been kidnapped twice by Islamic Militants in Syria, has been released, it was reported on 5 January.

    Fr Dhiya Aziz, from the Custody of the Holy Land mission agency, was serving in Yacoubieh, but failed to return to his parish in Turkey on 23 December.

  • Kenya: four killed

    Morning Star News

    In a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area on 31 January, Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels killed at least four Christians in the Kaisari area of Maporomoko village, near Pandanguo about 25 miles inland from the Indian Ocean town of Lamu.

    A wounded survivor said that there were five or six heavily armed assailants who spoke Somali and were dressed in military uniform. They shot two Christians dead, beheaded another and killed at least one other by setting his house on fire. ‘This is the third time the area has been attacked, and we have lost several Christians’, he said.

  • Mexico: displaced

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    On 26 January, 20 Protestant families were forcibly displaced from their homes in Tuxpan de Bolaños, Bolaños municipality in the state of Jalisco, because of their beliefs.

    The group of approximately 50 individuals, including children, are all Baptists and members of the Huichol indigenous group. They were expelled from their homes under threat of violence after the Mexican government failed to take measures to stop the forced displacement. The group is hoping for government intervention to allow them to return home and retain their lands.

  • Middle East: increased

    Bible Society’s Newswatch (Christian Today)

    Over 100 years ago in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Christianity was practically non-existent, it was reported in January.

    There were only 80 Christians in the UAE in 1910 (0.1% of the population) and 50 in Saudi Arabia. However, according to recent figures, in 2010, Christianity increased to 12.6% of UAE’s population and 4.4% of Saudi Arabia’s. Between the two countries alone there are now well over one million Christians.

  • Pakistan: kidnapped

    British Pakistani Christian Association

    Saima Masih, 15, was kidnapped on 3 January.

    Saima and her family were worshipping at their local church in Kasur on Sunday 3 January. During the service Saima felt thirsty, so went out to get water. She never returned, as a local Muslim called Munir had kidnapped her. Munir was seen taking her to his home town of Harrapa, 184km away, where he forced her to marry him, despite her being below the legal age of consent. So far little has been done to apprehend Munir and return Saima to her family.

  • Sudan: one released

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    The Revd Kwa Shamal of the Sudan Church of Christ, arrested by National Intelligence and Security Service officers in December 2015, was unconditionally released on 16 January 2016.

    His colleague, the Revd Hassan Abduraheem, and Christian activist Talahon Nigosi Kassa Ratta, a member of the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church, who were also arrested in December, remain in prison.

  • Syria: released

    Barnabas Fund

    Sixteen Christian hostages were released by Islamic State (IS) militants on 14 January, almost 11 months after they were captured from the predominantly Christian villages along the Khabur river in north-eastern Syria.

    The latest group of freed hostages consists of eight children, five men and three women. The hostages form part of a much larger group of 253 believers who were taken hostage after IS stormed their villages in late February 2015.