‘Every day there are suicide bombers, there is theft of cattle, there are killings and kidnapping of people and theft of goods’, a Barnabas Fund partner based in Cameroon wrote on 10 February.
Boko Haram attacks in the far north of Cameroon have increased since the New Year, targeting the country’s Christian population as well as moderate Muslims.
CAR: new President
Faustin-Archange Touadéra, Christian and former rector of the University of Bangui, was elected as the Central African Republic’s new President, it was reported by national radio on 1 March.
The news was greeted with shouts of joy on the streets of Bangui, capital city of the Christian-majority country, and follows Mr Touadéra’s victory in the run-off election against Anicet-Georges Dologuélé on 14 February.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
The Revd Alain Toledano, who leads the Emanuel Church which was demolished on 5 February, was threatened with arrest later in February.
The pastor was told by the chief of police in Santiago de Cuba that charges are being prepared against him concerning the alleged illegal possession of chairs and supports for the roof of the destroyed church. Mr Toledano, who belongs to the Apostolic Movement, a network of churches that the government has refused to register, was out of the country attending a religious event when the demolition of his church and home took place.
Egypt: case dismissed
Morning Star News
A regional prosecuting attorney in February dismissed a case against three Christians arrested last summer and accused of blasphemy during an evangelistic outreach.
The three Christians, one of them a minor, were being investigated pending possible charges of ‘showing disdain’ to a ‘heavenly religion’ under a statute that in every way but its official title constitutes a blasphemy law. The case was dismissed on 2 February, but the ruling was not officially issued until the 24th.
Egypt: not instated
World Watch Monitor
An Egyptian headmistress is not being instated in her post ‘because she’s a Christian’, it was reported in February.
Mervat Sefein, a teacher in Beni Mazar, a town of Minya, 220km south of Cairo, was included on an 8 February Egyptian Ministry of Education (MoE) promotion directive, but could not assume her new position due to ‘student protests’. The other candidates named in the directive took up their new senior school posts across the province of Minya’s nine regional centres, except for Sefein, whose promotion is still in limbo.
Bible Society’s Newswatch (Christian Today)
3,000-year-old fabrics, leather and seeds dating back to the time of David and Solomon were discovered in an excavation at the ancient copper mines of Timna during January and February.
The textiles, from the 10th century BC, provide ‘the first physical evidence’ of what residents of Israel wore. Erez Ben-Yosef, lead archaeologist with Tel Aviv University, said the fabrics provide ‘new and important information’ about the Edomites, Esau’s descendants who mined in Timna. The discovery ‘is an affirmation’ of biblical texts.
Morning Star News
On 7 February, a Christian of Somali descent was beaten unconscious outside Nairobi by Muslim relatives, leaving him severely injured.
Hassan (26) and his 15-year-old brother were on their way to Sunday worship at a church 10 km from their home when they were attacked. For security reasons, Hassan and his brother usually take a different route to church to that of their mother and other siblings. The relatives indicated to Hassan that they ambushed him because they had learned that he and others were holding mid-week Christian devotional times in their home.
27 families in the state of Chiapas will have their access to water and electricity restored after local authorities agreed to respect religious freedom in the village of Unión Juárez, Trinitaria Municipality.
The families, all Protestants, have been living without access to clean water or electricity since February 2014 because of their refusal to contribute to or participate in Roman Catholic festivals.
Myanmar: Christian MPs
40 Christians have been appointed in Burma’s new government and two ethnic minority Christian Speakers in the houses of parliament, it was reported in early March.
As the National League for Democracy (NLD) prepared to take control of the government, the party announced that it had nominated ethnic minority politicians as Speakers in both the upper and lower houses of parliament. Two of these are from ethnic groups to which most Christians in Burma belong.
A minor, who was abducted from her home state in southern Nigeria and transported to a northern state seven months ago, was reunited with her mother on 2 March at a police station in the capital city Abuja.
14-year-old Ese Rita Oruru from Opolo in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, was abducted on 12 August 2015 by Yunusa Dahiru, a regular customer at her mother’s food store. Dahiru is reported to have transported Ese, then aged 13, over 800 miles north to Kano State, where she was obliged to change her religion and name, and was ‘married’.
World Watch Monitor
Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, was executed on 29 February, after his appeal to the President for mercy had been dismissed.
Qadri had justified the 2011 assassination upon Taseer’s desire for reforms in the blasphemy law, and for his support of Asia Noreen, a Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy. Protests and riots broke out across Pakistan following the execution.
Syria: seven killed
Scores of rockets fell on the Christian areas of Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, over the weekend of 13 and 14 February, killing seven Christians, wounding many more, and devastating buildings.
Many of those killed were young, one of them just 13 years of age.
The ﬁnal group of 43 Syrian Christians, who were abducted from their villages in the Khabur river area of north-eastern Syria one year ago, were released on 22 February by Islamic State militants.
These 43 were the last remaining Christian hostages being held from the large group of 253 believers snatched from their homes in February 2015.
Tanzania: pigs banned
The local government in Shinyanga, a city in northern Tanzania, has banned the keeping of pigs in the city on the basis that it may cause a breach of the peace, it was reported in early March.
This new act affects only the Christians, as Muslims do not keep pigs because pork is forbidden to them. Despite the fact that the region is 60% Christian, the authorities have bowed to the demands of the minority Muslim population to implement this part of shari’a law.
World Watch Monitor
The local government of the north-western city of Bursa ordered that its only church, which serves four congregations, be vacated by 26 February before rescinding the order on 23 February.
Ismail Kulakcioglu, pastor of the Protestant congregation, said they were given less than a week to vacate the building. Approximately 200 Christians share the church for their Sunday worship services.
USA: Bible valued
A survey revealed in February that the majority of Americans value the Bible and want to see it have a greater role in politics as well as in the church.
The American Bible Society’s fifth annual State of the Bible survey polled 2,000 Americans on questions related to the Bible, culture, the church and politics. Surprisingly, 51% of Americans said that the Bible has too little influence on society today. However, according to part of the survey summary, ‘one-quarter of adults say they never hear the Bible read aloud at a church service or mass’.
A group of seven or eight Christians were arrested and taken to the police station after ofﬁcials on 7 February raided their gathering in the Samarkand region.
Among the Christians who had gathered were a church leader and his family. Police seized his documents and ordered that he return the next day for questioning. The believers were detained until 4 am. One of the women in the group lost consciousness and an ambulance had to be called. Children were among those detained and some later became ill from the cold.
World Watch Monitor
Four Catholic nuns were among 16 victims killed on 4 March by six unidentiﬁed gunmen at a home for the elderly in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden.
The four missionary nurses were serving breakfast to the home’s 80 residents when armed assailants stormed the facility in Aden’s Sheikh Othman district. At least five of the victims were Ethiopians.
Famine is imminent in Zimbabwe as a massive drought throughout the region takes its natural course, it was reported in February.
In the worst affected areas, hunger is already beginning to bite and children are too weak to attend school. Some 70% of Zimbabwe’s population live off their own crops, but this year the rivers are dry, the crops have wilted and animals are dying in large numbers.