World in Brief

All World

These articles were first published in our April edition of the newspaper, click here for more.

Cameroon: attacks

World Watch Monitor

On 23 February, Boko Haram insurgents carried out attacks outside the borders of Nigeria and began attacking two villages in northern Cameroon, leaving one person dead and many homes destroyed by fire.

Militias set fire to more than 100 huts, and a Catholic church and school. The fires claimed the life of one person. According to a survivor, militants arrived in the villages ‘and simply did as they pleased’. There was no resistance from security forces.

Cuba: right violation

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

A prominent Cuban advocate for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), Leonardo Rodríguez Alonso, was detained on 28 February in Villa Clara, and is being held without charge in Santa Clara.

He was arrested on his way home from the town of Caibarién, where he was leading meetings with human rights defenders who were discussing responses to a series of FoRB violations affecting Apostolic Movement churches in central and eastern Cuba.

India: Bibles burned

World Watch Monitor

In early March, videos emerged of Hindu extremists abusing Christians carrying religious literature.

In one of the videos the extremists are seen setting alight a pile of Bibles. They both show a mob of Hindu extremists abusing Christians who were transporting Bibles and tracts, with the Christians’ books being emptied onto the road. Distributing Bibles is seen as an attempt to lure people into converting to Christianity by ‘fraudulent means’, punishable under ‘anti-conversion laws’.

India: death charge

World Watch Monitor

On 27 February, six Christians were badly injured and a house torched in an attack by Hindu extremists in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, following the death and burial of a Christian baby.

Hindus demanded that the girl be buried outside the village. The bereaved family explained that they would bury the child on land they owned, but the Hindus reportedly only allowed them the go-ahead after they paid them the equivalent of around US $80.

India: funeral anger

Morning Star News

A pastor was accused of being responsible for the death of a woman after she had become a Christian a few months before her death in late January.

The corpse of Seema Devi was brought to his church site and the angry mob of around 1,000 then set the building on fire. The mob also tried to burn the dead woman’s husband with her body. Police brought the mob under control, though not before both Christians and Hindus were injured in the altercation.

Indonesia: Ahok case

World Watch Monitor

A first appeal hearing in the blasphemy case of the Christian former governor of Jakarta on 26 February could prove his only chance to challenge the verdict.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as ‘Ahok’, asked the Supreme Court for a review of the two-year prison sentence he received in May 2017. He was convicted on the basis of a video in which he argued against use of the Qur’an for political purposes – comments for which he was later adjudged to have committed blasphemy.

Indonesia: church attack

Barnabas Fund

A sword-wielding attacker seriously injured a pastor and three other people when he ran into a church service in Sleman, on the island of Java, on 11 February.

The attacker was shot and wounded by police and then arrested. He was later identified as a 23-year-old Muslim university student who had attempted to travel to Syria to fight with Islamic State. Eyewitnesses reported that the attacker damaged religious items inside the church, including Christian literature.

Iran: still held

World Watch Monitor

An Iranian convert to Christ arrested almost three months ago remains in prison in the conservative north-western city of Tabriz.

Ali Amini, known by his friends as Philip, was arrested by revolutionary guards at his workshop in the city. His mobile phone and laptop were also confiscated. His elderly father was present during the raid, and watched as his son was taken away. Amini is married and has two young children, aged one and three.

Iraq: not safe

Barnabas Fund

The presence of Iranian-backed Shia militia in Mosul means Christians do not feel safe, more than seven months since the city was liberated from Islamic State.

The concern for the future of the Christian community in Iraq does not just stem from the threat from Shia militia. Violence against Christians began in Mosul long before the arrival of Islamic State, back in 2008.

Malaysia: can’t change

Barnabas Fund

Malaysia’s highest court ruled on 27 February that Christians converting from Islam cannot change their officially registered religion without permission from a sharia court.

The converts from Sarawak (the only state in Malaysia where Christians are more numerous than Muslims), had requested to be able to remove their Muslim status from their compulsory identity cards. Despite the judges admitting state Islamic courts don’t have formal jurisdiction over conversion, they ruled that it ‘could be implied’ that sharia courts could rule on those wishing to convert from Islam.

Nigeria: retaliation

Morning Star News

On 27 February, armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen in northeast Nigeria killed a pastor and 19 other Christians in apparent retaliation for attacks by ethnic Bachama militia on Fulani families.

The Revd Haruna Enoch was killed along with the others in herdsmen attacks on four predominantly Christian areas in the Numan and Demsa areas of Adamawa state. Tit-for-tat violence between Fulani herdsmen and Bachama militia in recent months has resulted in scores of killings, including women and children.

Nigeria: church shooting

Morning Star News

A worship service was disrupted in Abuja on 25 February when unidentified gunmen shot at worshippers, wounding a security guard.

The shooting at the Good News Church forced members of the congregation to scamper to safety and abandon the service. After about 30 minutes, the pandemonium subsided. Police authorities in Abuja confirmed the church shooting, but declined to give further details.

Pakistan: seeing sense

British Pakistani Christian Association

On 15 February, a landmark decision resulted in the emancipation of a 12 year old Christian girl from her Muslim rapist despite her captor having an ‘official’ Islamic marriage certificate.

After justice was held up by the false arrest of the father, the judge said: ‘This sort of act of abduction under the guise of Islam is totally uncalled for and unacceptable… Muslims, Christians and all other citizens are equal when it comes to constitutional guarantees’.

Pakistan: not broken

British Pakistani Christian Association

In February, an Indian pastor who narrowly escaped with his life after Sehal Christ Church was subjected to an arson attack, spoke out against the ongoing hatred that Christians in Jammu Kashmir have been facing since the incident.

Pastor Jaggar Singh had to flee his home in the district of Sehal after there was an attempt to lynch him for alleged forced conversions. He said: ‘I will not be broken because I know God is with me’.

Russia: church killing

World Watch Monitor

Authorities in one of the least stable parts of Russia identified the suspected gunman who killed five women at a church on 18 February before being shot dead by security forces.

The gunman was a local man suspected of having ties to ‘extremist’ organisations. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Four were killed in the church and one died later in hospital after a man carrying a knife and a hunting rifle opened fire on worshippers.

Syria: marked out

Barnabas Fund

It was reported in February that, in scenes chillingly reminiscent of the 2014 targeting of Christians in Iraq by Islamic State, Kurdish militia in north-east Syria are spraying graffiti on Christian properties to mark them for confiscation.

One read ‘seized by the Executive Committee of Qamishli’. The Committee is the self-proclaimed administration of the Kurdish militia. Christian men have also been abducted as conscripts in the Kurds’ fight against Turkish forces, part of a programme of intimidation against the Christian community.

USA: morality restored

Religion Today

Faith-based adoption agencies in Georgia will soon be allowed to decline to place children in families with same-sex couples after the Georgia Senate passed a Bill granting this freedom to faith-based agencies in a vote in March.

There was contentious debate regarding the Bill, especially since the faith-based adoption agencies in question receive taxpayer funding. In addition, the Bill would grant freedom to decline to place children with unwed couples, single parents and transgender couples.

USA: Jesus, not gold

The Christian Institute

A Christian skier who said that faith is the most important part of his life, won gold at the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea.

American David Wise, twice gold medal winner of the ski halfpipe, insists that his success is only temporary compared to the gift of knowing Christ. He leads the youth group at his church in Nevada with his wife Alexandra. Wise said: ‘Everything that I have is a gift from God, and he can take it away when he wants to.'