The Fallacy and Myth of Islamic Tolerance In Religion
Muslims kill and persecute Christians in their home countries, while demanding their religious freedoms in the Western world.

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Islam: Truth or Myth? start page



No Religious Tolerance In Islam Today!

Muslims kill and persecute Christians in their home countries, while demanding their religious freedoms in the civilized world.

Muslims claim that Islam is a religion of love and peace and tolerance. They cite the Qur'an and Surah 2:256

"Let there be no compulsion In religion. Truth stands out Clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth And knoweth all things." (Surah 2:256)

Claims and reality, however, are two different things. Each month, I plan to present several news stories that focus on Islamic violations of their claims. These stories will not be focused on radical fringes, but upon instances of Islamic governments persecuting those who do not hold to Islam.

It is my belief that Islam cannot endure the light of the truth of the Bible. Consequently, Islam's adherents make every effort to suppress Bible teachers. Error cannot stand when exposed to truth, thus Muslims feel they must not allow any who believe the Bible the right to declare their belief, nor will they allow the Bible to be taught to Muslims. Their very persecution of Bible believers declares their lack of trust in their own religion. They do not trust the power of the Qur'an, but must rely on physical force and intimidation. Islam converts with the sword while Christianity converts with the heart!

Christians need to be aware of the danger in believing the lie that Islam is tolerant of other religions.. Read the following news articles that prove the point.

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Master Index

717 AD

Click to View The Pact of Umar is an important historical document. It sets the legal foundation for the way Muslims mistreat Christians right down to the present time.

1998 AD

Click to ViewChristians On Trial For Public Prayers In Nigeria
Click to ViewEgyptian Police Terrorize Christians To 'Confess' Crime
Click to ViewGovernment Orders Church Closed In Nigeria
Click to ViewAiling Sudanese Convert Has 'Made Up His Mind'
Click to ViewSharif Calls For Imposition Of 'Sweeping' Islamic Law

2000 AD

Click to ViewPakistan News Stories of Muslims killing and persecuting Christians.

2002 AD

Click to ViewSummary of killings in Pakistan in 2002
Click to ViewSunday Service Ends in Carnage for Christian Worshippers in Pakistan
Click to ViewInternational Church Attacked In Pakistan
Click to ViewSaudi Arabia Still Holding Two Foreign Christians
Click to ViewLast Two Christian Prisoners Deported From Saudi Arabia
Click to ViewMuslim Who Converted To Christianity In Grave Danger
 Click to ViewIs Release Imminent For American Missionary Hostages In The Philippines?
Click to ViewReturning Christians Face Threats And Violence In Indonesia
Click to ViewJordanian Christian Widow Loses Custody Of Her Children
Click to ViewState Government Closes 24 Christian Schools In Nigeria
Click to ViewNigerian State Bans House Churches
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Christians On Trial For Public Prayers In Nigeria

by Obed Minchakpu

JOS, Nigeria (Compass) -- Thirteen Christians were recently arrested at the New Benin Market, in Benin, Edo state, for allegedly disturbing other traders with their public prayers. The arraignment and trial of these Christians climaxed a long crisis that has been brewing since July between Christians and adherents of African traditional religion in this southwestern Nigeria state.

A confrontation occurred July 23 when Christians went to the market to preach and were attacked by the traditionalists. Prior to the incident, the traditional ruler of Benin, Omo N'oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa II, had given orders banning Christians from praying in the markets. Christians responded to the order by asking him to withdraw the directive or he "would face the wrath of the Almighty God."

The traditional ruler, who is the spiritual head of adherents of African traditional religion, said he was very upset by the actions of the Christians. "We have been doing everything humanly possible to ensure that peace reigns in Edo state and Benin city, the state capital, in particular. And we pray that God and the ancestors will not allow enemies of peace and progress to destabilize the peace in Edo Land," he said.

The traditional ruler quoted from Matthew 6:1-5, which he said enjoined Christians not to pray in open places. "We consider it a strange development that with such injunctions from their master, Jesus, the Christians in Benin city and environs chose to do the very opposite and harass innocent women in market places."

Christians gave the ruler an ultimatum to withdraw his order banning Christians from praying at their workplaces because the directive was an infringement on their rights, said Apostle B.O.C. Esiri, a leader of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Benin. Esiri reminded the traditional ruler that "every Nigerian citizen in Benin city has the right to pray anywhere, anytime and in any place to their God."

The state chairman of PFN in Edo state, Rev. Dr. Felix Omobade, told journalists, "The injunction to preach the gospel to every creature is to all believers, and Jesus Christ said we should go into all the world. A close look at the ministry of Jesus showed that He went everywhere. He was in the market. He preached in the market. We have records in the Bible that apostles that lived after Him preached at every nook and cranny. The right to pray and conduct our faith is both spiritual and constitutional."

The PFN Edo State chapter has taken the problem to the office of the State Military Administrator.

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Egyptian police terrorize Christians to 'confess' crime

Murder Investigation Subjected 1,000 Coptic Villagers to Harsh Treatment

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL (Compass) -- At least 1,000 village Christians were arrested by local police and subjected to harsh interrogations and torture during a month-long investigation into the August murders of two Coptic men in Upper Egypt.

Not until mid-September, however, did news of police abuse in El-Kosheh village filter into Cairo and out of Egypt. Located in Sohag Governate some 300 miles south of Cairo, El-Kosheh has approximately 40,000 inhabitants, 70 percent of them Coptic Christians.

Coptic Orthodox Bishop Wissa of El-Belyana, whose diocese includes El-Kosheh, told Compass that he began hearing about hundreds of Christians being tortured under police interrogation just three days after the August 14 murders of Samir Aweida Hakim, 25, and Karam Tamir Arsel, 27.

Coptic villagers had complained to their local priests that large numbers of Christian "suspects" were being arrested and tortured in order to force "confessions," the bishop said.

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Government Orders Church Closed In Nigeria

by Obed Minchakpu

JOS, Nigeria (Compass) -- Muslim officials in Nigeria's Nasarawa state ordered the closure of a church recently established in a predominantly Muslim area of Lafia. Citing "security reasons," the directive is the latest action in a series of incidents bringing increased pressure on the state's Christians.

In an August 4 letter, Lafia local government council officials told pastor Nelson Tatadi of the Covenant of Faith Mission to immediately close his church. Pastor Tatadi was instructed "to comply strictly" with the directive for "his own interest." According to Tatadi, the order follows an earlier directive by the former local government chairman of Lafia, Alhaji Abdulahi Angibi, who visited the church on April 24 and ordered it closed.

"February 2, to be precise, two Muslim leaders in company of a security officer, visited me in my house and wanted to know why I was building a church in an area that is dominated by Muslims," the pastor told Compass. "I told them that it was God that sent me to that city, and it was through Him that I got the land to build the church. All I know is that this land in which we've built our church does not belong to any Muslim. I bought it from a Christian woman who sold it to us for this purpose. I cannot therefore see why they should be complaining about our presence there," he added.

A month later, two men came to his house again at about 11 p.m. and asked that he follow them to the office of the State Security Service, but the pastor refused. The following morning, another security officer came to his house and arrested him. He was taken to the office of the State Security Service, interrogated, and asked never to worship there again.

Security officers claimed the land on which the Covenant of Faith Mission was built belongs to a Muslim who sold it 18 years ago and now wants to reclaim it.

However, Pastor Tatadi said he told them that what they were asking was impossible. He also said it was a deliberate provocation and an act of discrimination against the church.

After the closure order, the pastor and officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria made several attempts to discuss the matter with the chairman of the local government council, but without success.

The pastor and church members have also received threats against their lives. "Sometimes at night, some unknown persons come to attempt to attack the church. This has adversely affected us, as some members of our church who are afraid have decided to leave the church," Tatadi said. So far 11 members of his congregation have left the church because of the fear of their being attacked while worshiping there.

The Covenant of Faith Mission was established in Lafia two years ago. According to the pastor, the church desires to reach the Muslim Kambari ethnic group who live in the area.

So far, about three Muslim families from this unreached Muslim ethnic group have converted to Christianity, and the church has relocated them because of the threat to their lives.

COMPASS DIRECT Global News from the Frontlines September 23, 1998 Copyright 1998 Compass Direct

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Ailing Sudanese convert has 'made up his mind'

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL (Compass) -- Sudanese convert Al-Faki Kuku Hassan has been diagnosed with serious medical problems that require hospital treatment, his defense lawyer Abel Alier confirmed in early September. Alier told Compass that he was requesting the prosecutor general to transfer his client to the hospital as soon as possible.

Arrested in late March on charges of apostasy, Hassan is being held at Omdurman Prison while his case in Criminal Court remains under study by the Justice Ministry.

The state prosecutor gave Hassan two months to recant and return to Islam, or face the death penalty. However, the judge has yet to rule on the controversial case, which has been given only brief public mention in Khartoum newspapers since the last week of June.

Hassan, 44, is a former Muslim sheikh who converted to Christianity in 1995. He and his wife, who finally won court permission to visit him in jail, have six children.

According to Alier, a well-known Christian lawyer from Southern Sudan defending Hassan, his client has a history of serious health problems. He said these included a chronic heart ailment and "a variety of complaints. He's not a very healthy man," Alier said.

Admitting that the convert's medical condition "worried" him, Alier said he had requested a physical examination for Hassan, "to see whether we can have him transferred from the prison cell to the hospital." The lawyer stressed, however, that Hassan's condition stemmed from chronic health problems, not from any known physical mistreatment since he was arrested six months ago.

"But he has had a lot of pressure to change his mind, and to recant his new position," Alier told Compass by telephone from Khartoum. "They have also tried to make attractive suggestions. But he is a fellow who has made up his mind," he said.

A member of the fast-growing Sudanese Church of Christ, Hassan has continued to testify to his Christian faith before the courts and among his fellow prisoners.

In a letter dated August 10, the British Foreign Office stated that its embassy in Khartoum "had been informed that at present Al-Faki Kuku Hassan is released on bail." In a telephone interview from Khartoum in late August, Alier declared: "This is disinformation. I would have been the first to know, or the second, because his wife is quite keen."

Alier said he was waiting for a decision on Hassan's case sometime in September. "That's my expectation," Alier said. "We do not want him to stay in that condition under detention."

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Sharif Calls For Imposition Of 'Sweeping' Islamic Law

Pakistan's Christians Oppose 15th Amendment Bill

ISTANBUL (Compass) -- Pakistan's Christian community spoke out forcefully in early September against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's new 15th Amendment Bill, which is designed to replace the nation's civil legal system with Islamic law.

Both Catholic and Protestant church leaders declared the proposed constitutional amendment would curb religious freedoms and subject many non-Muslims to further persecution.

Addressing a September 2 press conference in Islamabad, Roman Catholic Bishop Armando Trinidade and Church of Pakistan Bishop Alexander John Malik publicly appealed to Sharif to withdraw the bill. They were backed by Christian members of both the national and provincial assemblies, who pledged to resign their posts in solidarity with their church communities over the controversial legislation.

Sharif's proposal would scrap the country's civil laws and install the Koran and Sunnah, the holy books of Islam, as "constitutionally and legally supreme." Introducing the measure on August 28, the prime minister stated that Islamization was "the key to solve deep-rooted problems" such as rampant corruption, social injustice, economic inequality and maladministration.

Sharif and his close aides, Religious and Minorities Affairs Minister Raja Zafar ul-Haq and Law Minister Khalid Anwar, insisted the amendment would "protect the rights" of the non-Muslim minorities, some five percent of the national population. However, they admitted that the formal establishment of what Sharif called a "new Islamic order" over Pakistan's 140 million people was "sweeping."

Under the bill, the federal government would be required to enforce Islamic prayers five times a day, collect religious tithes and take responsibility "to prescribe what is right and to forbid what is wrong."

Sharif's three-page proposal to impose Islamic law through a multi-party parliamentary democracy would erode certain provincial powers, the Senate's role in parliament and an independent judiciary. As such, critics claimed, it would enable the federal government to move towards a personal dictatorship.

Even veteran Muslim Leaguer Syed Ahmed Saeed Kirmani stated that the bill would enable Sharif to declare himself the nation's caliph (both political and spiritual leader) and establish dynastic rule over the country.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad accused Sharif of imitating past rulers who had "tried to save their own skins by misusing Islam." Some Muslim religious leaders publicly agreed, declaring the prime minister was using Islam for his own political gain, not trying to conform the nation into an ideal Muslim society.

"We are already exposed to discrimination and victimization," protested Cecil Chaudhry, a Catholic layman heading the National Christian Action Forum. "This new law will multiply our woes," Chaudhry told the Associated Press. Members of the minority Christian and Ahmadi communities have been targeted heavily in recent years by a heavy-handed blasphemy law, which requires the death penalty for insulting the prophet Muhammad.

According to Washington Post correspondent Pamela Constable, a "variety of observers" see Sharif's new amendment as a deliberate "bombshell to distract the nation's attention from more urgent crises in the economy and foreign policy."

So far, the Supreme Court has refused to accept petitions filed against the bill, which opposition parties, human rights advocates and women's groups claim violate the current constitution.

Although a vocal political alliance has formed to block the amendment, Sharif controls a comfortable two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

"But we hope and pray they will not be able to pass it in the Senate," one of the leading Christian bishops told Compass in mid-September. "They are having difficulty to find a two-thirds majority in the upper house." Opposition parties currently hold a majority in the 87-member Senate.

Asawal Sardar contributed to this article.

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Sunday Service Ends in Carnage for Christian Worshippers in Pakistan

Agence France Presse: Islamabad, March 17, 2002

What should have been a quiet morning service for foreign and Pakistani worshippers at the Protestant International Church here ended in carnage Sunday when at least one attacker hurled grenades into the congregation, killing five and injuring dozens more.

Around 60 to 70 Christians, including foreigners and children, were attending the service when a "local-looking man" entered the church around 10:50 am (0550 GMT) and threw up to eight grenades into the crowd of worshippers.

Five people, including two Americans, a Pakistani woman, an Afghan man and another man of unidetermined nationality, were killed in the resulting deadly blasts which were heard in the heavily-guarded US embassy nearby. As shocked and panic-stricken worshippers ran for the door, residents rushed to the church in the quiet and—until now—safe district in the heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave of southeast Islamabad.

"I was playing tennis in the embassy when I heard loud explosions from the church," an American woman at the scene said.

"Because my colleagues and friends were there I rushed towards the church and it was sheer panic. I don't know who is injured and who is dead."

From the outside the low white modern building which served as the church bore no obvious signs to indicate the devastation which occurred inside.

A boy whose father worked as the church security guard was playing outside making paper boats when he heard the blasts.

"I was playing in the courtyard of the church when I heard a big explosion. And I saw everyone trying to come out of the church screaming and there was severe panic," the 13-year-old Afghan boy told AFP before being whisked away by a security official.

A police guard had also been deployed, even though there had been no direct threats against the church.

Sixteen Pakistanis from the minority Christian community were massacred at a church in Bahawalpur, Punjab, in October, but Sunday's attack is the first on foreign christians.

Only a handful of the worshippers escaped unhurt, with 46 injured in the attack, including Sri Lankan ambassador Srilal Weerasooriya, his wife Dilhani and their child, and the wife of a Japanese diplomat.

Reflecting the cosmopolitan makeup of the congregation, the injured also included eight Pakistanis, nine Americans, seven Iranians, two Australians, five Britons, a Candian, a German, an Ethopian, one Iraqi, one Swiss, one Afghan and five as yet unidentified others.

Police were already on alert for the Islamic holy month of Moharram—which began Saturday—as authorities had feared further sectarian violence, but trucks full of soldiers accompanying senior military officials inspecting the site were also posted outside the church following the blasts.

The church, in an area of the enclave near the fashionable Clara Apartments which are home to expatriates and diplomats and the US embassy, was cordoned off by dozens of armed police who further increased the usually high security presence in the area.

Dozens of bewildered foreigners gathered outside the church after hearing of the attack, but were held back from entering by police while ambulances and firefighters stood ready.

While no-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, Muslim religious extremists are opposed to President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown on militants.

Since outlawing five religious extremist groups in January, more than 2,000 suspected radicals have been detained in a nationwide sweep.

While Islamabad is usually regarded as the safest place in Pakistan, last month gunmen killed 11 people in a Shiite mosque in the capital's twin city of Rawalpindi.

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

International Church Attacked In Pakistan


Five Killed, 40 Wounded in Grenade Blitz in Islamabad
by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL (Compass) -- Unidentified terrorists hurled grenades into a Protestant worship service in the diplomatic quarter of Pakistan's capital city on March 17, killing five worshippers and wounding another 40 members of the congregation.

The dead included an American mother and her teenage daughter, a Pakistani woman and an Afghan man. A fifth body remains unidentified. At least six of the wounded were listed in critical condition at intensive care units of local hospitals after the attack.

The shocking assault began just before 11 a.m., when a loud explosion rocked the back of Islamabad's International Protestant Church during the Sunday morning sermon. One assailant with a grenade in his hand and several more on his belt ran down the aisle, shouting and lobbing the explosives directly at the 70 people in the sanctuary.

"At that point I hit the deck," a Briton working for the Tearfund aid agency told Reuters. "There were five or six more explosions," Nick Parham recalled. Between six to eight grenades were used in the attack, with at least two live grenades later recovered and disabled.

Windows were blown out, with the walls and ceiling of the church splattered with blood and body parts, survivors said. Some people dove to the floor for cover, and one woman hid under the piano until the smoke cleared. "Almost everybody was covered in blood," one person said, with mangled and unconscious bodies covering the floor. Panicked parents began calling for their children, trying to grope their way downstairs to the Sunday School rooms.

U.S. diplomatic sources confirmed that Barbara Green, wife of a U.S. Embassy diplomat, was killed along with her teenage daughter, Kirsten. Local police officials have also confirmed the deaths of a Pakistani woman, identified as Rabia Edward, and an Afghan man, Anwar Baizar.

A man's dismembered body still remains unidentified, with Pakistani investigators uncertain whether he was a victim or possibly one of the assailants.

Islamabad Police Superintendent Nasir Khan Durrani said that investigators believed only one attacker was involved. But several of the survivors told reporters they had seen two men throwing grenades. One U.S. diplomat told Reuters he had "reason to believe" that the fifth body was not that of an attacker.

"There was a lot of confusion," a U.S. Embassy press spokesman in Islamabad told Compass on March 18, "but I think things are becoming clearer." Although he said he did not yet have precise figures for the number of Americans wounded, he said the total was close to 15.

Among the injured were the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Pakistan and several members of his family, as well as the wife of a Japanese diplomat. Citizens of Pakistan, Germany, Iran, Great Britain, Canada, Ethiopia, Iraq, Australia, Afghanistan and Switzerland were also wounded.

One of the six worshippers on the critical list is the president of the congregation, Dr. Christy Munir. A retired chemistry professor from Quaid-i-Azam University, Munir is under intensive care at the Pakistani Institute of Medical Sciences. Munir's youngest son, Harun, confirmed to Compass that his father, now 62, has undergone three operations since his hospital admission on the day of the attack.

Built 10 years ago in a protected diplomatic enclave of Islamabad, the International Protestant Church has been without a permanent pastor for a number of months. The congregation of some 150 diplomats, teachers, NGO representatives and professionals shrank to half that number last fall, when many diplomatic missions and commercial companies sent their employees' dependents back to their home countries in the wake of September 11.

According to a "Washington Post" report, weekly services were still being held in the church in Korean, Urdu, two Afghan dialects and English. But members of the church said the building was now "in ruins," and virtually unusable.

The carnage was the second deadly attack against Christians at worship in Pakistan since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. In a previous assault on October 28, fanatic militants shouting Islamist slogans machine-gunned 15 Pakistani Christians and a Muslim guard to death during Sunday services at a church in Bahawalpur.

Calling the attack "an act of sabotage against Pakistan's national interests," President Pervez Musharraf told the nation on March 18 that his government was "undeterred" in fighting terrorism in all its forms, vowing that the culprits would be tracked down and brought to justice.

U.S. President George W. Bush condemned the carnage, declaring the murders "cannot be tolerated by any person of conscience nor justified by any cause."

"It is very, very clear that this was done to embarrass our government," one Pakistani Christian leader told Compass hours after the attack. "But we must keep going on, doing what we do, or otherwise it will be a victory for the terrorists."

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

Is Release Imminent For American Missionary Hostages In The Philippines?


Mission Officials Balance Hope with Realism and Experience in the Burnham's Case
by Deann Alford

SANFORD, Florida (Compass) -- It was hoped that American missionary hostages Martin and Gracia Burnham were within days of gaining freedom from their radical Muslim captors in the southern Philippines, officials with the couple's sending agency said on March 16.

But New Tribes Mission (NTM) leaders remember five NTM hostages held in Colombia in the 1990s. None of the five survived, and the Burnhams have yet to see freedom.

"We have been down this road many times already in this kidnapping, so there is a high level of excitement but also an experience of disappointment when things do not materialize," said NTM spokesman Scott Ross. "[But] we're optimistic and believe [the Burnhams] are going to be released. It could happen any time."

Ross declined to elaborate, citing the possibility of further endangering the missionaries. The Burnhams were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary when the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) snatched them from Dos Palmas Resort more than 10 months ago. They are currently being held on the southern Philippine island of Basilan.

While the FBI and others working to free the Burnhams are constantly updating NTM and the hostages' families on the case's status, "We're being coy about what we know, and I'm afraid we're going to have to stay that way," said NTM vice chairman Dan Germann.

But keeping the Burnhams' story in the media and before the Christian community has been key, Ross said. That's why Ross sometimes grants 60 interviews in a week.

"If the constituency begins to believe a situation is important, that gets people in Washington believing it's important, and then you'll see people getting things done," Ross said.

For the first five months of the Burnhams' captivity, nothing was happening. Once NTM officials started making trips to Washington, the mission believes, those in power became responsive to the case and developed a strategy to resolve the kidnapping, Ross said.

"We have assurances from the administration that the White House is doing everything that it can," he said. "In my mind, there's a big difference between 'everything it can do' and 'everything that can be done.' The U.S. is probably doing everything it feels it can do within the political arena it finds itself. I don't think it's doing everything that can be done."

Heather Mercer -- the Shelter Now aid worker in Afghanistan who was jailed by the Taliban -- joined NTM officials in meetings with U.S. Senators in December. Mercer spoke with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice about the Burnhams. In January, Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Kansas -- where the Burnhams are from -- went to the Philippines to support their case.

Germann said the mission's crisis management team is keeping close contact with Philippine sources that are able to gather information -- sources that in the past have delivered to the Burnhams letters, pictures and even packages with food and supplies. The team maintains daily contact with the U.S. Embassy and State Department and with the Philippine military and government.

NTM officials have interviewed several hostages held with the Burnhams who either escaped or paid ransom and were freed. The former hostages have been unexpected sources of support, Germann said.

"They deeply loved Martin and Gracia and received spiritual strength from them," he said. "They have been calling and asking how they could help and what they could do. Always without exception they said they don't know what they would have done if it hadn't been for the spiritual support of Martin and Gracia."

Ross said that he is encouraged by the presence of U.S. troops and equipment, which includes a spy plane and helicopters, "so the rebels will feel they should be dialoguing."

When Mercer and fellow Taliban prisoner Dayna Curry speak about their arrest, imprisonment and rescue from Afghanistan, they also talk about the Burnhams' plight and ask prayer for them. NTM co-workers worldwide hold a monthly prayer meeting; March was for the Burnhams.

"[We are] rejoicing in a God who can lovingly care for Martin and Gracia in the midst of their suffering," Germann said. "The ultimate victory is His."

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Saudi Arabia Still Holding Two Foreign Christians

Ethiopian, Filipino Both Jailed at Jeddah Deportation Center by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, March 11, 2002 (Compass) -- Two expatriate Christians jailed since last August by Saudi Arabia's religious police still remain in custody, their deportation orders stalled by the inaction of either their employer or their respective consulate.

Both Filipino Dennis Moreno and Ethiopian Worku Aweke (Ismail Abubakr) remain incarcerated at Jeddah's Bremen deportation center, rated by a fellow Christian released last month as "the very worst prison among all the prisons we had seen."

Since Tinsaie Gizachew left for Ethiopia February 14, Moreno had been the last foreign Christian detained at Bremen awaiting formal deportation by Saudi authorities. But on March 7, he was rejoined by Aweke, an Ethiopian isolated for the past six weeks in a jail near Mecca.

"Worku is together with my husband now at Bremen," Moreno's wife confirmed today from Jeddah. "Dennis has seen him and talked with him."

Moreno and Aweke were among 14 foreign Christians arrested and jailed without charges in Jeddah since last summer. All were active members of expatriate house churches meeting privately for worship in the port city. After holding them five months without consular access, Saudi Arabia began to deport them during January and February.

Speaking by telephone today from Jeddah, a vice consul of the Ethiopian Consulate confirmed that Aweke's deportation details had been completed with his employer in Mecca, clearing the way for his transfer back to Jeddah last Thursday.

"Our liaison officer met with him and is processing his travel documents," the official said. "When this is finished, he will be going back to Ethiopia, maybe this coming Thursday, March 14."

Members of Jeddah's Ethiopian Christian community became alarmed last week, after six weeks passed with no direct communication from Aweke. The unmarried Ethiopian had been isolated shortly after he was sent to Mecca's Matta Jail in January, reportedly to facilitate the completion of his discharge papers from his employer residing there.

An Ethiopian of Christian descent, Aweke began working in Saudi Arabia six years ago. But at some point, either he or his employer changed the name on his passport and Saudi identity card to Ismail Abubakr, perhaps hoping the Muslim name would facilitate job openings in the strict Islamic nation. Just two months before his arrest, he had professed personal faith in Christ and become involved in an Ethiopian house church in Jeddah.

Last week, the Washington, D.C.-based International Christian Concern had expressed fears that Saudi authorities might target Aweke because of his Muslim name, concluding that he was an apostate from Islam who should be executed for becoming a Christian.

Moreno's departure appears to be stalled by unresolved issues with his Saudi employer, including one last set of car registration papers. After working in Saudi Arabia for 16 years, the Filipino driver and car mechanic has accrued considerable work benefits that his employer is apparently reluctant to honor. A foreigner's official Saudi sponsor must sign his exit visa before the employee is allowed to leave the country.

"Our consulate is doing nothing," his wife Yolly Moreno said today. "They even ask information from me! So I'm the only one who is going around." She said she would go to the consulate tomorrow to get a power-of-attorney form for her husband to sign, and then take it to be filed at the Labor Office, so that he would get his contractual benefits.

"But in Saudi Arabia, it is very hard for a female," she sighed. "So I have to press more, to push more." While her husband has been jailed the past six months, Yolly Moreno has continued her daily shifts as a full-time nurse in Jeddah, while caring for their two school-age children and seven-month-old baby.

Meanwhile, Moreno and Aweke remain jailed in the Bremen deportation center, described last week by a former prisoner as "a shed for sheep or pigs."

"It was like hell for me," Indian national Prabhu Isaac told Compass by telephone from Madras, India. "It can only accommodate 400 people, but when we came, there were 1,200 people there. There was no place to stand or sit or sleep, and only three toilets."

"I never thought that in this 21st century, in the so-called number-one Islamic country, they would do something like this," Isaac said. "It was full of hardened criminals, with people who were infected by skin diseases, tuberculosis, and also AIDS patients. They supplied water for just two hours a day, one hour in the afternoon and again once in the evening. It was very horrible."

But his worst experience there, Isaac said, was being forced to watch the lashing of three of his fellow Christians from Ethiopia, in front of 500 other prisoners. The three Ethiopians—Tinsaie Gizachew, Bahru Mengistu and Gebeyehu Tefera—were given 80 lashes each with a steel cable on January 28, after an Ethiopian Muslim cooperating with local jail authorities accused them of "preaching against Islam and the prophet Muhammad" among the other prisoners.

According to the U.S. State Department report released last week on human rights in Saudi Arabia for 2001, "Non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, lashing and deportation for engaging in overt religious activity that attracts official attention." 

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

Last Two Christian Prisoners Deported From Saudi Arabia


Philippines' Diplomat Identifies Charges as 'Proselytizing'
by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL (Compass) -- An Ethiopian and Filipino Christian jailed since last summer in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah were released and deported to their home countries over Easter weekend.

Filipino Dennis Moreno flew home to Manila on Emirates airlines on Saturday, March 30, the Philippines Consulate in Jeddah confirmed on April 1.

Ethiopian Worku Aweke, identified as Ismail Abubakr on his Saudi identity papers, left Jeddah's Bremen deportation center the previous night on a flight back to Addis Ababa, Moreno reported.

The two were the last of 14 expatriate Christians imprisoned for months by the Saudi "muttawa" (religious police) without formal charges for allegedly illegal Christian activities.

Moreno, who spoke with Compass by telephone from Manila, said he had "no revenge in my heart" toward the Saudi authorities for the mistreatment and injustices done against him and the other Christians jailed for so many months. "My heart desire is that they will change," he said. "They are really scared. The government is afraid because people there are changing their faith."

A spokesman at the Philippines Consulate blamed the last 10 weeks of delay in Moreno's deportation on the "traffic of outbound passengers from Jeddah," as thousands of pilgrims returned home at the conclusion of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. According to the official, deportees from Saudi Arabia are classified as stand-by passengers, even if they have a confirmed booking for a particular flight.

"And there were some problems with the cars registered in his name, so he had to clear that up first," the spokesman said. Moreno's wife said she had delivered the final paperwork for his release to the deportation center just hours before he was escorted to the airport Saturday afternoon.

"Even Dennis didn't have any news of it beforehand," Yolly Moreno told Compass. But three hours after she returned home, he called her from the Jeddah airport, saying he was about to leave for Dubai. "I was so shocked," she said, "but I was happy, believe me!"

According to the Philippines Consulate spokesman, his office had been informed back in October by the Saudi police that Moreno was "charged for proselytizing." He admitted, however, that these charges were never produced in writing.

Arrested from his home on August 29, 2001, Moreno had worked as a driver and car mechanic in Saudi Arabia for 16 years. His wife and three children remain in Jeddah, where she will complete her current hospital contract as an ICU nurse in May.

Aweke, an unmarried Ethiopian of Christian descent, had worked for six years in the Gulf kingdom.

Aweke was seen in person by Moreno's wife in mid March, when she was visiting her husband at the deportation center. "He looked very thin," she said, and his clothes were in tatters. "I told Dennis to share the food I brought for him with Worku," she said. During the six weeks Aweke was isolated in a prison in Mecca, he reportedly had not had money for food or clothing.

On March 20, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Consulate in Jeddah had confirmed that "every travel arrangement had been made" for Aweke's deportation the previous week, but his March 14 departure was delayed by Saudi authorities "because of a computer failure at immigration."

Moreno and Aweke were among 14 foreign Christians, citizens of India, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Philippines, who were involved in expatriate house churches meeting privately for worship in Jeddah. After refusing them consular access for five months, Saudi authorities began deporting them in January and February. All have lost their jobs and most of their work benefits in Saudi Arabia, which enforces a strict interpretation of Islamic law forbidding non-Muslims from meetings for public worship.

Moreno said he had been "blessed by God" to be released and arrive home safely, after seven long months in Saudi custody. "God humbled me," he declared, "and at the same time, I know that I need to know Him more. I keep praying for the people there."

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Muslim Who Converted To Christianity In Grave Danger

Former Muslim in 'Critical Danger,' Church Leader Says

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, February 27 (Compass) -- Sudanese security police have mounted a widening manhunt to track down a local convert to Christianity who went into hiding in Khartoum three weeks ago to escape arrest and possible death.

According to a church leader in contact with Aladin Omer Agabni Muhammad, the former Muslim is in "a real tough situation now."

"He is being hunted everywhere," said the Khartoum churchman, who requested anonymity for the protection of all concerned. "The situation is really becoming intolerable, and I am not sure how he is going to survive, because he's really being threatened."

As a known "apostate" who left Islam 11 years ago to become a Christian, Muhammad is subject to the death penalty under Sudanese criminal law. Now 34 and unmarried, Muhammad was denounced by his family and expelled from his university studies shortly after his conversion. He has since been jailed on several occasions for months at a time.

But so far as Muhammad knows, formal legal charges have never been filed against him. Instead, authorities of the Islamist Khartoum regime have resorted to a pattern of harassment, trying to force him to renounce his faith and return to Islam.

Since late January, Muhammad has been subjected to ongoing interrogations, beatings, drug injections and death threats by Khartoum authorities.

When he tried to leave the country by plane on January 30 and again on February 3, the police intervened, pulling him out of the check-in line at the Khartoum airport. Both times, Muhammad had bought a ticket to Uganda, where he planned to apply to study theology in neighboring Kenya.

Ordered to stay in Khartoum, Muhammad was put under constant surveillance and summoned repeatedly to a security office located opposite St. Francis School in Khartoum. But after the second travel ban was imposed, he decided to go into hiding, changing his lodging frequently and maintaining only occasional telephone contact with relatives and friends.

"Up to this moment Aladin is safe," one of his friends told Compass. "He is now ready for any relocation anywhere, but traveling by land and escaping is too dangerous." Muhammad's passport remains in the hands of the security police, who must also approve his exit visa before he can leave.

Since his release last September after four months in prison, Muhammad stayed with relatives in Khalakla, a district of south Khartoum, and in Morzuk, an area in the adjoining city of Omdurman. But when he spoke with family members by telephone two weeks ago, he said they all admitted they were being watched by the police, who had instructed them to report immediately any contact with him.

Muhammad's relatives reportedly pressed him to say where he was and turn himself in, accusing him of "causing our family much trouble."

So far, his Christian friends have been unable to arrange for any medical check-up for the former Muslim, who in January was forcibly given a series of injections of unknown drugs that left him drowsy and disoriented.

"We really wanted to find out what medical injections were being given," the source said today, "but we are not in a position to do this now." He identified this as an "immediate need" for Muhammad, along with prayer support, protection and his daily necessities while he waits in hiding.

"We are even getting more worried," the source admitted. "It's like we are passing through a tunnel which is completely dark, and when we reach the end, we don't know whether there will be some glimmering light there or not."

According to the church leader, two other Sudanese converts to Christianity are caught in a similar situation, facing "critical danger" under threats from the security police. Both are reportedly in hiding to avoid arrest and further torture, he said.

"Since [the authorities] do not want them, then they should be allowed to get out!" he declared.

U.S. Congressman Joseph R. Pitts commented on Muhammad's case from Washington, D.C., today, noting that leading Islamic scholars had assured him that according to the Quran, "There is no compulsion in religion."

"The government of Sudan disturbingly appears to be following the pattern of the Taliban in its treatment of people," Pitts observed. He urged the Khartoum authorities to "protect religious freedom for all people in Sudan, and allow Aladin Muhammad to freely leave the country."

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

Returning Christians Face Threats And Violence In Indonesia


Muslim Leader Refuses to Guarantee Safety of Refugees
by Geoff Stamp

MANADO, Indonesia (Compass) -- Muslim groups are trying to prevent Christians from rebuilding their homes, says Mona Saroinsong, coordinator of the Crisis Centre of the General Synod of Protestant Churches in North and Central Sulawesi.

Following last November's violence in Central Sulawesi, the presence of additional armed forces has resulted in "a significant cooling down." The government, keen to implement last December's Malino agreement which seeks to re-establish the peaceful cohabitation of Christians and Muslims, is pressuring people to return to their villages.

Nevertheless, Christian families are experiencing threats and stone-throwing when they start to rebuild their houses or tend their crops.

On Sunday, March 17, more than 500 Laskar Jihad, a Muslim extremist group, went to Tagolu, a village five miles south of Poso, and threatened the Christians using a public address system.

"If you do not listen, we will have to speak with our guns. If Muslims try to hinder us, we will throw them into the river. We will take back all of this land from the Christian dogs," the Muslim leader said. The Laskar Jihad extremists threw stones at Christian houses and spray-painted insults on the walls. They promised to return the following week, but were prevented from doing so by the presence of armed forces.

Christians from Toini and Malei villages, from Poso city and Poso Pesisir, confirmed the stone throwing and threats. They told Saroinsong they were living in constant fear of anti-Christian violence. Muslim fishermen who had resumed trading in Christian communities, however, said that nobody had threatened them and they felt at ease.

A bomb exploded at the Department of Social Affairs in Poso on March 26, destroying most of the main building. Crisis Centre workers believe this was a deliberate act to destroy any evidence of misuse of public funds. A rehabilitation grant of $4.50 per person per month had not been made available to the refugees since the government program began last December.

A Crisis Centre spokesman said that few people had ever received any of the allocated funds, but when questioned about this, local officials had claimed the funds were needed for other projects. Representatives from the refugee groups, the aid organizations and the Crisis Centre recently asked for proof of these projects. This now appeared impossible as all documents were destroyed in the blast.

In Palu and Poso, 155 Christian prisoners were released during February and March following the advocacy efforts made by the Crisis Centre supported by national and international advocacy organizations.

Fifteen Christians remain in Poso prison, including five men facing murder charges. The men were arrested following violence in Peleru during July 2001 when several villagers were killed. Muslims arrested for the same offense were released within three months. The men -- Imanuel Mokere (35), Pagi (25), Mudar (32), Sabar Prenta (27), and Boy Puai (25) -- have been in prison for eight months without trial, and their morale is low: one of them recently attempted suicide.

Twelve Christians are left in Palu prison. Among them are the three men sentenced to death for their alleged part in the June 2000 violence in Poso: Fabien Tibo, Marinus Riwa and Dominggus da Silva, who await presidential clemency or a re-trial.

The Crisis Centre advocacy team constantly raises matters of inequality and injustice to no avail. Crisis Centre spokesman Jan Patris Binela said there was "no justice for Christians." Christians received 18-month prison sentences for weapons-related charges while Muslims were given three months. In one instance, 29 Laskar Jihad Muslims who had been caught in the destruction and looting of Christian property last year were allowed to finish their month of fasting before arrest. "To date, these men have still not been arrested," said Binela.

"We need international human rights lobbying to bring these cases to the attention of Western governments," he added.

In Manado (North Sulawesi), six non-governmental aid organizations (NGOs) are pleading for Christian refugees threatened with forced repatriation to Halmahera in North Maluku. Government funding for almost 10,000 refugees in North Sulawesi has been stopped and refugee camps could all be closed by the end of April.

Those people who have returned to Halmahera face desperate conditions: no medical facilities, shortages of food, fuel and power supplies; children have no schools, books or clothes, and infants are malnourished. Tuberculosis and malaria are rife in the makeshift camps.

"We are beginning to see disease and malnutrition among the refugees in camps here," said Saroinsong. "We need to distribute medicines and good food now but lack the means. International NGOs seem to have no more funds. We are appealing for help from the international community.

"The authorities push the refugees to return to their burnt-out villages but have prepared nothing for them. Aside from starvation and disease, these people face the constant threat of Muslim aggression."

Laskar Jihad leader Jafar Umar Thalib recently stated that there was no guarantee for the safety of refugees returning to North Maluku. Unrest could break out at any time.

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

Jordanian Christian Widow Loses Custody Of Her Children


Case Hinged on Husband's Alleged Conversion to Islam
by Barbara G. Baker

AMMAN, Jordan (Compass) -- An Arab Christian mother widowed seven years ago has been ordered by Jordan's highest court of appeals to surrender custody of her two minor children to be raised as Muslims.

Siham Suleiman Moussa Qandah's final appeal to the Court of Cassation was rejected on February 28. Her 13-year-old daughter Rawan and 12-year-old son Fadi could be taken at any time from their home in Husn, 50 miles north of Amman.

Written notification of the ruling arrived in late March at the court where the case originated, empowering local authorities to immediately transfer Rawan and Fadi to the guardianship of a Muslim sheikh (mosque prayer leader) who is Qandah's blood relative. The two have only seen their Muslim uncle once, years ago, and have never met his wife and children.

The "compelling evidence" presented by a local Muslim court to the Irbid Civil Court of First Instance which first heard the case was a document dated three years before Qandah's husband died, declaring that he had secretly converted to Islam. Under Islamic law, if a father converts to Islam, his minor children automatically become Muslims.

Dated July 29, 1991, the document was signed by two Muslim witnesses. But except for a simple scrawled "X," it does not carry the signature of Qandah's husband, Hussam Rasmi Issa Jibreen. Qandah told Compass that Jibreen never once indicated to her or any of their relatives that he had made such a decision, and that he even returned from army duty abroad to attend the baptism of his second child.

"His funeral was in the church, and he was buried in Husn's Christian graveyard," she said. "How is it possible that he was deceiving us for three years?" A soldier in the Jordanian army, Jibreen died in November 1994, just weeks before he was due to return from serving in the U.N. Peacekeeping Forces in Kosovo.

The Irbid court acknowledged in its ruling that "no one was aware of his conversion to Islam" in Husn, and that he was given a Christian burial and death certificate by St. George's Orthodox Church.

But when his widow went some weeks later to apply through Jordanian's civil courts for legal transfer of her husband's army benefits for herself and the children, the local sharia court stopped the process, stating that Jibreen was a Muslim, not a Christian. His conversion also made his children Muslims, the Islamic court declared, so his children could only receive his inheritance through a court-designated Muslim guardian.

Shocked, Qandah turned to her family for advice. The youngest in an Arab Christian family of seven brothers and three sisters, Qandah attends the Husn Baptist Church where two of her brothers are also members. But they have one brother who became a Muslim as a teenager, in order to meet the legal requirements to marry a certain Muslim girl.

"He was following his heart," recalled his sister. "But when the girl's father rejected his proposal, then it was too late, and he couldn't change back." Like most Muslim nations, Jordan allows its Christian citizens to convert legally to Islam, but Muslims cannot change their religious identity, which is considered an act of apostasy.

Under the common interpretation of Islamic law, anyone who recites the Muslim creed has automatically converted to Islam, even if the words are repeated in jest, and once said they cannot be revoked. So Qandah was advised that under Jordanian law, it was hopeless to contest her husband's "conversion" certificate filed in the Islamic court.

But rather than accept a court-appointed Muslim guardian for her children, Qandah decided to ask her brother who had converted to Islam to become their legal guardian. Long estranged from his family after joining the Muslim community, her brother had taken the name Abdullah al-Muhtadi (the converted one). By then married with several children, he had become a bearded Muslim sheikh.

"He is our blood brother, and we thought this would satisfy the legal requirements for a Muslim guardian," Qandah said. But a few months after her brother agreed to be appointed by the court, in April 1995, she began to regret her decision.

Although Al-Muhtadi received the regular monthly stipends to which Qandah and her children were entitled, he only forwarded the money to her sporadically over the next two years.

Then, he began to object that the children were studying at Husn's Roman Catholic School, where he learned they were registered as Christians and attending Christian religious instruction, rather than the Islamic classes required for Muslim students. Demanding that they be transferred to a local Muslim school and take Muslim instruction, Al-Muhtadi opened a case in May 1998 requesting full custody of the children.

Throughout the three-year civil court battle which followed, Qandah said her Muslim defense lawyer assured her that she was sure to win permanent custody of her children.

Under Jordan's dual judicial system, the jurisdiction of religious courts (sharia for Muslims and ecclesiastical for Christians) is distinct from the civil courts. But inexplicably, the Orthodox Ecclesiastical Court refused to comment on Qandah's predicament, issuing a decision on May 5, 2001, to negate its previous decisions on the case and refer jurisdiction in the matter to the sharia court.

Six weeks later, the Irbid Civil Court of First Instance ruled that custody of Qandah's children be handed over to their Muslim uncle.

Dated on June 21, 2001, the judgment faulted Qandah for enrolling her children in Christian religious classes at school and taking them to church services with her. In so doing, the decision said, she was "trying to change their religion" and "insisting that her children are Christian," whereas by law they are Muslim.

"The defendant's actions are legal enough reason to devolve her custody, for fear that the youngsters may embrace other than the Islamic religion," the ruling stated.

Seven months later, the Irbid Court of Appeals cited Article 155 of Jordan's Personal Status Law as a basis for upholding the lower court's decision, noting a woman guardian was required to be "of age, mature, sane, and reliable." Although it was a mother's legal right to raise her children, the January 22 decision noted, Qandah had proved herself "unfit to be a custodian of her children" by "distancing them from Islamic rituals and doctrine."

"Her registering them in a Christian school and her insistence to teach them Christian education and accompanying them to church is contrary to what trustworthiness and reliability means," the court stated.

In the final judicial appeal heard February 28, the Court of Cassation in Amman ratified the two previous rulings, ordering Qandah to surrender Rawan and Fadi to their Muslim guardian. After reviewing the entire case file last week, one Amman lawyer declared it had been "very badly mishandled" by the defense counsel, who simply repeated his original arguments in the subsequent appeal hearings.

"But the case is finished," he said. Despite some "gaps in the legal process" which could have been addressed earlier, he said, "No legal action is possible now." It has also been confirmed that the names of both children are blacklisted on immigration computers, forbidding them to leave the country.

In the weeks following, Qandah has appealed to Jordan's top judicial experts and religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian, seeking a solution to her dilemma. Her choices, she was told, were two: "Either become a Muslim yourself, or leave the country."

Fighting back weary tears, the 36-year-old mother told Compass she could no more deny her Christian faith than abandon her children. "Both are unthinkable," she said.

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

State Government Closes 24 Christian Schools In Nigeria


The Schools Must Adhere to Islamic Law
by Obed Minchakpu

KANO, Nigeria (Compass) -- Nigeria's Kano state government closed 24 Christian schools in the state following the schools' refusal to implement a government decision that all Christian schools must provide Islamic religious studies as part of their curricula.

The schools were forceably closed by an education task force set up by the state government to enforce the implementation of Islamic studies in line with Islamic law, or "sharia."

Dr. Muhammad Tahir, Chairman of the Education Task Force, told Compass in Kano on March 19 that the law enforced the Islamic education policy and supported the closure of the schools.

He said more Christian schools would be closed unless they adhere to the Islamic education policy, pay the required education taxes and employ Islamic clerics to teach Islam.

Tahir added that the schools closed down so far have not complied with the government requirement of paying $16,000 in tax, employing Muslim teachers and enforcing the Islamic dress code in their schools.

"Because of these reasons, we were left with no option than to use the powers conferred on us to close down the schools," he said. Some of the schools closed included Prime College, Samandi International School, Tropical College, Prince International School, Rhema International College, and Translate College.

Rev. Dr. Joseph Fadipe, chairman of the Kano chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said the closures resulted from Christians resisting the government's discriminatory religious policies that favor Muslims over Christians.

"It is a plan to spread Islamic law, sharia, to Christian schools. They intend to hoist Islam on our children by all possible means. We refuse this manipulation of religion. We cannot accept the indoctrination of our children with a religion we do not ascribe to," he said. "We are determined to fight this injustice. We are considering legal action to seek for a redress over this matter."

Students and parents of the affected schools are already finding it difficult to cope with the situation, as the children no longer attend schools and parents fear for their future.

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COMPASS DIRECT, April 19, 2002

Nigerian State Bans House Churches


New Church Buildings Must Secure Government Approval
by Obed Minchakpu

LAGOS, Nigeria (Compass) -- Nigeria's Lagos state has outlawed the use of residential buildings as house churches, and new church building projects must secure governmental approval.

The Lagos state government communicated the new regulations to churches on March 27. Failure to adhere to these measures, the government said, would lead to prosecution.

Kola Animashaun, permanent secretary for the Office of Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment, told Compass that the measures were adopted to create a "peaceful environment." He said all churches located in residential areas would no longer be permitted to hold all-night programs such as prayer vigils unless their worship halls installed soundproofing materials.

"There is no doubt that we are going to demolish illegal church buildings being used as house churches, as we never gave approval for their construction," Animashaun said.

However, Rev. Mike Okonkwo, president of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), told Compass that the government decision is a "ploy by the Muslim government in the state to persecute Christians and deny them their right to worship God."

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The war against what?

By Daniel Pipes

National Post: Thursday, October 03, 2002

Militant Islam keeps on killing, but politicians and journalists continue to avert their eyes.

One terrible example comes from Pakistan, where a sequence of assaults on Christians, both local and foreign, has taken place over the past year:

- Oct. 28: an attack on St. Dominic's Church in Behawalpur kills 16.

- March 17: an attack on the Protestant International Church in Islamabad kills five (including two Americans).

- May 22: an attack on the executive secretary of Karachi Diocese of Church Pakistan, who was tied to a chair and injected with poison.

- Aug. 5: an attack on the Murree Christian School kills six.

- Aug. 9: an attack on the Christian Hospital in Taxila kills four.

- Sept. 25: an attack on the Institute for Peace and Justice, a Christian charity in Karachi, kills seven.

There have also been many more non-lethal assaults on churches and church services, the most recent this past Sunday.

There is no doubt about the motives of the perpetrators, for militant Islamic groups brazenly speak their minds, declaring their goal "to kill Christians" and afterwards bragging of having "killed the nonbelievers."

Victims know full well why they are targeted -- "just for being Christians," as one person put it. A local Christian leader states "that the terrorist attack was an act by al-Qaeda or some pro-Taliban organizations."

Pakistani law enforcement also recognizes who engages in this violence and why. "We are investigating whether there is an anti-Christian gang operating in Karachi, made up of jihadis," the city's chief investigator explains. A provincial police chief comments about the Sept. 25 carnage: "Unlike the usual terrorists, the killers [last week] showed no haste. They took a good 15 minutes in segregating the Christians and making sure that each one of their targets gets the most horrific death."

A survivor of that slaughter recounts that the murderers separated Christians from Muslims by requiring each hostage to recite a verse from the Koran. Those who could not were seated at a table in the library, bound to chairs, gagged, and shot in the head (except for one person who was shot in a bathroom).

Politicians and journalists, however, pretend not to recognize the problem.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf reacted to the Sept. 25 butchery with seeming bewilderment: "I could not say who [was behind the killings]. It could be al-Qaeda, it could be any sectarian extremists within, or foreign elements of RAW" (RAW is the Research and Analysis Wing, India's intelligence agency). Pakistan's interior minister likewise emphasizes that RAW's role "cannot be ruled out."

The media is almost as bad: Paul Marshall of Freedom House shows that North American and European reporting on these many massacres in Pakistan overlooks the militant Islamic dimension, instead presenting the atrocities as vaguely anti-Western in purpose.

This pattern of reluctance and euphemism in the case of Pakistan fits into a more general context.

George W. Bush declared war not on militant Islam but on a faceless enemy he has variously called "terrorists," "a radical network of terrorists," "terrorists in this world who can't stand the thought of peace," "terrorism with a global reach," "evildoers," "a dangerous group of people," "a bunch of cold-blooded killers," and even "people without a country."

The establishment media has been complicit. With the notable exception of CNN's Lou Dobbs, who talks about "the war against radical Islamists," it unthinkingly echoes the U.S. government's line that the conflict has nothing to do with religious motives.

It's as though Franklin D. Roosevelt, after Pearl Harbor, declared war on surprise attacks rather than on the Japanese empire.

This evasion has consequences, for an enemy who cannot be named cannot be defeated. Only when "war on terrorism" becomes "war on militant Islam" can the war actually be won.

Fortunately, the President has on occasion hinted at this, as in May when he called the enemy those "defined by their hatreds: they hate ... Jews and Christians and all Muslims who disagree with them."

It is not a war on terrorism, nor a war on Islam. It is a war on a terroristic version of Islam. Authorities in the United States, Pakistan, and elsewhere need to face this unpleasant fact. Not to do so will mean the unnecessary loss of lives.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Militant Islam Reaches America.

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