where repression is escalating and Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has
been sentenced to death for apostasy, awaits the 'opinion' of the
supreme leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei. Please continue in prayer.
where proposed amendments to the Law on the Freedom of Conscience and
Religious Organisations (1997) threaten to impact non-Russian Orthodox
denominations negatively and significantly restrict religious freedom.
where Copts are reeling from the 9 October Maspero Massacre, when
Egyptian security forces attacked Coptic Christians (and sympathetic
Muslims) who were peacefully protesting against religious
discrimination. Twenty-six people -- mostly Christians -- were killed
and over 300 were wounded as the army beat, shot and drove armored
vehicles into the protesters whom they abused as 'infidels' and 'sons of
dogs'. The military has assumed control of the investigation. The Copts
are the indigenous people of Egypt and the descendants of the Pharaohs.
The Copts have been Christian for 2000 years.
DEATHS IN PAPUA (formerly Irian Jaya)
Some 5000 Papuans
from across the Eastern Indonesian province gathered in Jayapura for the
third Papuan Congress from 17 to19 October, its 50th anniversary. The
Congress opened with prayers and included several church leaders amongst
the speakers, including Rev Benny Giay, Rev. Socrates S. Yoman and Rev.
Yemima Krey. By 8am on 19 October the streets were lined with some 3100
military and police officers wearing full combat gear and holding
assault rifles. Armored vehicles and police trucks were also out in
force. As in past Papuan Congresses (1961 & 2000), a declaration of
independence was read and the Morning Star flag raised. The police
responded by storming the Congress ostensibly to put down the 'coup'.
More than 300 Papuans were arrested, dozens wounded and six killed. The
Melanesian Christian Papuans seek an end to the racial-religious
discrimination and persecution they suffer at the hands of Javanese
Muslims and the Indonesian government. Please pray.
SHARIA TO RULE NEW LIBYA
On Monday 24 October,
National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil declared Libya
to be 'liberated'. Operating free of any democratic constraints, Jalil
also declared that the law against polygamy will be repealed (bad news
for women), Islamic banking will be adopted (bad news for the economy)
and Sharia (Islamic) Law will form the basis for all Libyan law (bad
news for all who desire religious liberty). As has happened in Iraq and
Afghanistan, any concession to religious freedom will be rendered void
by the supremacy of Sharia which prohibits fitna (anything that could
shake the faith of a Muslim), especially proselytism (Christian
witness), blasphemy (criticising Islam) and apostasy (leaving Islam).
Please pray for the Church in Libya.
ISLAMISTS DEMAND END TO APOSTASY
On 3 August Islamic
religious leaders and police raided the church of Pastor Daniel Ho,
ostensibly to prevent 'apostasy'. Whilst Muslims were present, the
meeting was actually a dinner for people involved in the church's
welfare programs, including single mothers and HIV/AIDS victims. The
raid caused a stir in Malaysia. On Saturday 22 October an Islamist
non-government organization, with permission from the ruling Umno and
police, held an anti-apostasy rally in Shah Alam on the outskirts of
Kuala Lumpur. An estimated 5000 slogan-chanting Muslims attended, though
the organizers had hoped for a million. BN-Umno (which rules, but with a
greatly reduced majority) doubtless supported the event hoping to
dragnet the Muslim vote. This can only embolden Malaysia's intolerant
ISLAMISTS EMERGE VICTORIOUS
Islamist 'Ennahda' party has claimed victory in the first democratic
elections of the 'Arab Spring'. Ennahda party officials have said they
are prepared to form an alliance with two left-wing secularist parties,
the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol. Early results indicate that
Ennahda will win more than 40 percent of the 217 seats. The anti-Islamist
Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) will lead the opposition. Ennahda
leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, recently returned from 22 years in exile in
the UK. Prior to the elections, the formerly-banned party opened offices
across the nation and flooded it with fliers, though where the funding
came from is unclear. The Ennahda-dominated national assembly will have
one year to draft a new constitution. Pray for tolerance and religious
freedom to survive in the new Tunisia.
On 13 October President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed into law two
amendments that will effectively repress all non-officially sanctioned
expression of religion. The new laws came in to force on 24 October.
Any lingering hopes for reform may be discarded as Maldivian authorities
expel an Indian teacher accused of spreading Christianity after he was
found with a Bible in his house. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs is
signaling its intention to enforce fully the Protection of Religious
Unity Act (1994) which bans the promotion of any religion other than
Islam or any opinion that disagrees with Islamic scholars. This is the
result when reformists hold power only by means of alliances with
Islamists as it gives Islamists the balance of power, the most powerful
It was recently reported that Guled Jama Muktar, a 17-year-old Somali
Christian, was kidnapped from his home and beheaded by al-Shabaab
militants in Hudur City in south-western Somalia last month. After
quickly burying their son, Guled's parents, also Christians, fled for
their lives. Nobody has heard from them.
October the president of Sudan, Omar el-Bashir, announced that Sudan
will go ahead with plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution and
strengthen Islamic law. Meanwhile authorities in Omdurman, on the Nile
River opposite Khartoum, have threatened to demolish three churches in
the Madinat al Fath area if they continue to conduct worship services.
One Christian leader told Compass Direct News he fears that 'evil plans'
are being directed against the churches and against Christianity in
Sudan. The Islamic jihad continues in South Kordofan and Blue Nile where
the SPLM-North is fighting for the survival of the Christians and
non-Arabs of Sudan's 'new south'. Humanitarian corridors remain closed.
An estimated 100 million Christians
worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their
faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and
alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers
in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian
literature distribution, leadership training and assistance,
Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry
and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers.