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Egyptian authorities extend prison sentence of Coptic Christian activist

Egyptian authorities extend prison sentence of Coptic Christian activist

A prominent Coptic Christian human rights activists has had his detention extended by a further 45 days by the Egyptian authorities.

Rami Kamil was arrested on 23rd November 2019 after police raided his home in the early hours of the morning. He is known for founding the Maspero Youth Union following the brutal Maspero Massacre in which 27 Christians were killed by the Egyptian military. Following his arrest, it is thought that Kamil was subject to intimdation and relentless questioning. He was subsequently accused of joining a terrorist organisation, receiving foreign funding, disturbing public order, inciting the public against the state, and using social media to incite sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians. 

Sources say that the authorities have demanded that Kamil stop writing about violations of freedom of religion or belief if he is to be released from custody. Mr Kamil is currently being held in Tora Prison in Cairo, which has garnered a terrible reputation for overcrowded and unsatisfactory conditions. In addition, with the increasing risk of covid-19 spreading through Egypt’s prison system, there are concerns for Kamil’s health, as he suffers from severe asthma.Get the latest Christian World News stories via emailSIGN ME UPSee our privacy notice

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Kamil’s detention has been extended multiple times and the security services have been targeting his friends, lawyers and supporters with threats and harassment.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW is deeply disappointed by news that Mr Kamil’s detention has been extended once again. The charges levelled against him are excessive and his detention lacks transparency. We urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Kamil, and all others who are currently detained on charges relating to their peaceful defence of human rights.

“We also call upon the Egyptian administration to accelerate efforts to reform and improve the situation of freedom of religion or belief in the country, and to offset the spread of COVID-19 by releasing vulnerable, non-violent and low-risk prisoners from pre-trial detention.”

Lord,

We thank you for Rami Kamil’s desire to advocate for human rights. 

Draw near to him by your spirit, and strengthen his resolve, we pray. 

Father, we pray for your protection over all those who are persecuted for their faith. 

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen

Source: Premier



Nigerian seminarian executed for refusing to stop sharing the gospel

A group responsible for the kidnapping and killing of a Nigerian trainee priest has admitted that they executed him because he refused to stop sharing the gospel while in captivity. 

Michael Nnadi was abducted on 8th January from the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna state along with three other students. While his colleagues survived, sadly, Nnadi was later found dead. Now, the alleged leader and mastermind behind the abduction has spoken out about his reasons for committing the atrocity. Mustapha Mohammed, a 26-year-old Fulani man, said he was part of a 45-man kidnapping gang that has attacked and abducted numerous people traveling along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.

Speaking to The Daily Sun, Mustapha said that Nnadi’s incessant sharing of the gospel meant he “decided to send him to an early grave.

The report added: “[Mustapha] said the deceased kept preaching and told him to his face to change his evil ways or perish from the day he was abducted alongside his colleagues.”

The suspect added that his gang targeted the seminary because they believed they could make good money by kidnapping people there. They initially demanded a ransom of $250,000 from the college, but this was later reduced to $25,000.

A member of the seminary staff called Nnadi a “young gifted seminarian” who was an “orphan brought up by his grandmother.”

Over recent years, Nigeria’s Christian community has been subject to increasingly brutal attacks at the hands of Islamic militia, with Open Doors listing the country at number 12 on its World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution for their faith. 

Prayer

Lord, 

We thank you for Michael Nnadi’s bold faith and conviction to share the gospel even in the most dangerous circumstances.

May we learn from his life and seek to proclaim your name without fear. 

Draw near to Michael’s family as they continue to grieve, we pray. 

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen

Source: Premier



Sewer Cleaners Wanted in Pakistan: Only Christians Need Apply.

In Pakistan, descendants of lower-caste Hindus who converted to Christianity centuries ago still find themselves marginalized, relegated to dirty jobs and grim fates.

Jamshed Eric working in a sewer in Karachi last year. He feels it is only a matter of time before he dies on the job.Credit…Zia ur-Rehman

By Zia ur-Rehman and Maria Abi-Habib

KARACHI, Pakistan — Before Jamshed Eric plunges deep below Karachi’s streets to clean out clogged sewers with his bare hands, he says a little prayer to Jesus to keep him safe.

The work is grueling, and he wears no mask or gloves to protect him from the stinking sludge and toxic plumes of gas that lurk deep underground.

“It is a difficult job,” Mr. Eric said. “In the gutter, I am often surrounded by swarms of cockroaches.”

After a long day, the stench of his work lingers even at home, a constant reminder of his place in life. “When I raise my hand to my mouth to eat, it smells of sewage,” he said.

A recent spate of deaths among Christian sewer cleaners in Pakistan underscores how the caste discrimination that once governed the Indian subcontinent’s Hindus lingers, no matter the religion.

Like thousands of other lower-caste Hindus, Mr. Eric’s ancestors converted to Christianity centuries ago, hoping to escape a cycle of discrimination that ruled over every aspect of their lives: what wells of water they could drink from, what jobs they could hold.Manual sewer cleaners, known as sweepers, are at the bottom of that hierarchy, the most untouchable of the untouchable Hindu castes.

But when the Indian subcontinent broke up in 1947 and Pakistan was formed as a homeland for the region’s Muslims, a new, informal system of discrimination formed. In Pakistan, Muslims sit at the top of the hierarchy. And as one of Pakistan’s small Christian minority, Mr. Eric has now been forced into the same work his Hindu ancestors had tried to avoid through religious conversion.

Some areas of Karachi are plagued with sewage and trash. In the sewers, cleaners use their bare hands to unclog drainpipes of feces, plastic bags and hospital refuse.Credit…Mustafa Hussain for The New York Times

Although India has outlawed caste-based discrimination with mixed success, in Pakistan it is almost encouraged by the state. In July, the Pakistani military placed newspaper advertisements for sewer sweepers with the caveat that only Christians should apply. After activists protested, the religious requirement was removed.

But municipalities across Pakistan rely on Christian sweepers like Mr. Eric. In the sprawling port city of Karachi, sweepers keep the sewer system flowing, using their bare hands to unclog crumbling drainpipes of feces, plastic bags and hazardous hospital refuse, part of the 1,750 million liters of waste the city’s 20 million residents produce daily.

On a recent day Mr. Eric, 40, had been hired to clean three sewers for $6.

Mr. Eric sends his son to school far from the crowded and segregated neighborhood the city’s sewer cleaners live in, hoping to free him of the discrimination that forced him into this work. Back home, the neighborhood lacks safe drinking water and schools. Swarms of mosquitoes, piles of garbage and overflowing gutters are the area’s only abundance.

While most sweepers like Mr. Eric are illiterate, his generation has been more determined to push their children to attend school to break the cycle of discrimination, just as their ancestors tried to do when they converted. But the children still find themselves discriminated against, forced to adopt the profession of their fathers.

Mary James Gill, a former parliamentarian who runs the Sweepers are Superheroes advocacy group, has lobbied for years to pressure the government to formally ban manual sewage cleaning work. But most of the sweepers are illiterate and unorganized, she said, making it easy for the authorities to pressure them to accept the jobs as their only means of income.

While Christians make up only 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population of some 200 million, according to a 1998 government census, rights groups believe they fill about 80 percent of the sweeper jobs. Lower-caste Hindus mostly fill the rest of the slots.

When Karachi’s municipality tried to recruit Muslims to unclog gutters, they refused to get down into the sewers, instead sweeping the streets. The job was left to Christians like Mr. Eric, known derogatorily as “choora,” or dirty.

They spend hours inside the city’s sewers. Almost all of them develop skin and respiratory problems because of constant contact with human waste and toxic fumes. And for some, the job has been lethal.

“I have seen death from very near,” said Michael Sadiq, legs trembling as he thought about his two-decade career as a sweeper.

“This work has become so dangerous that I need to find a way out,” said Michael Sadiq, a sewer cleaner for two decades.Credit…Zia ur-Rehman

Last August, Mr. Sadiq and his relatives, Rafiq Murad and Riaz Masih, sweepers for Karachi’s municipality, were relaxing on their only day off when they were interrupted by a call from their supervisor, ordering them to snap to it.

Mr. Murad was the first to step into a gutter 18 feet deep with a rope tied around his waist. As he cleaned the detritus, a flood of putrid black water carrying sand, stones, sludge and a swarm of gases swept him away.

Mr. Sadiq scrambled into the sewer to save his cousin but was overwhelmed by the toxic mix and fainted. Mr. Masih followed to help his cousins, but the fumes asphyxiated him, his lifeless body swept away without a struggle.

While Mr. Sadiq and Mr. Murad were saved, Mr. Masih was buried so deep, an excavator worked for four hours to extract his dead body from the stinking sludge it was buried under.

“This work has become so dangerous that I need to find a way out,” Mr. Sadiq said. But he, like the rest of the sweepers, is a poor and illiterate Christian, and no other jobs are open to him, he lamented.

Two months after Mr. Masih died, two more sewer cleaners died on the job a few miles away. Another sweeper died at the beginning of this month.

Doctors often refuse to treat the sweepers, who are seen as unclean and untouchable.

Officially, Pakistan denies the existence of caste-based practices in the country. But across the country, the discrimination persists.

One form of abuse commonly meted out on Pakistan’s religious minorities has been to accuse them of blasphemy, a crime that is punishable by death in the country, and that at times has been used to settle personal disputes.

Pendants for sale in Karachi in 2018. Pakistan has taken a few steps to protect and empower some minorities, but the efforts have failed to help much. Credit…Shahzaib Akber/EPA, via Shutterstock

In one infamous case in 2010, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death, accused of blaspheming Islam. It later emerged that her Muslim colleagues had ordered her to fetch water as they harvested berries on a hot day. When she drank from the communal cup, they accused her of polluting it and an argument ensued.

The case was eventually thrown out for lack of evidence, after Ms. Bibi spent eight years on death row and her family was forced into hiding by the death threats they received.

Pakistan has taken a few steps to protect and empower some minorities, but the efforts have failed to help much. A bill was passed in 2009 to reserve 5 percent of all government jobs for non-Muslims. But over a decade later, that goal has not been reached, officials say.

Mr. Eric feels it is only a matter of time before he dies on the job. But he hopes his son can excel in school and shake off the discrimination that has plagued the family for generations.

“After hearing of the deaths in the gutters, I think about what will happen to my family if I die,” Mr. Eric said. “But Jesus Christ will take care of them.”

“I don’t care about my life as long as I can provide my family with a decent living.”

Source: New York Times

Maria Abi-Habib is a South Asia correspondent, based in Delhi. Before joining The Times in 2017, she was a roving Middle East correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. @abihabib



Vicar of Baghdad warns Islamic State is returning to Iraq ‘in force’

Canon Andrew White

A prominent church leader from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad has warned that the Islamic State is mounting an increasingly ferocious resurgence across the country. Canon Andrew White suggested that with coronavirus saturating the mainstream media coverage, this terrifying surge of ISIS activity is being passed over and must be brought to the public’s attention immediately. 

“NEW MEGA CRISIS IN IRAQ,” Canon Andrew White wrote on Facebook. “Amongst all the Corona Virus news there has been no mention of the massive crisis in Iraq. Many people have been killed by gun fire and morters. The sad fact is ISIS has returned in force. Some politician friends say it is like ISIS returning on steroids. They seem more empowerd now than ever before. We need serious prayer that order will be restoredi. Things are truly desperate.”

Following a brutal three-year military campaign, the Iraqi army declared victory over ISIS back in 2017. Then, in October 2019, a US-led assault in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Despite these setbacks, ISIS has reportedly been regaining its footing by exploiting the recent territorial disputes between Iraq’s central government and the autonomous Kurdish areas in the north. Experts believe that President Trump’s much-criticised decision to order a drawdown of US troops from the region may have also played a part in the resurgence.Get the latest Christian World News stories via emailSIGN ME UPSee our privacy notice

ISIS fighters launched a series of attacks on Iraqi security forces over the weekend, some of which were less than 100 miles from Baghdad. The fighters were reported to have killed 10 Iraqi militia members in the city of Samarra, along with six members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) in Mekeeshfa, which is located around 60 miles north of Baghdad.

At the height of its insurgency, ISIS controlled a third of Iraq and Syria.Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Source: Premier



Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Kill 13 Christians, Kidnap 13 Others in Kaduna State, Nigeria

More than 1,000 people flee their homes.

National Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

JOSNigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians and kidnapped 13 others in attacks on April 23-25 in north-central Nigeria, sources said.

The attacks on five villages in the counties of Kajuru and Chikun in Kaduna state displaced more than 1,000 people from their homes. The sources said those killed were members of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Catholic, Baptist, United Church of Christ in Nations (HEKAN) or Assemblies of God churches.

The herdsmen invaded Kikwari and Kujeni communities in Kajuru County on April 25 at about 3 p.m., said Luka Binniyat, spokesman for the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), in a press statement.

“The armed herdsmen stormed Kikwari Village, Kajuru LGA, and shot three persons and carted away livestock and foodstuff in large quantities as residents fled for dear lives,” Binniyat said.

He identified those killed as Ado Maisamari, a 56-year-old father of eight children; Titus Amos, 27, survived by his wife and three children; and Habila Amos, 25, survived by his wife and child.

“All the villagers numbering over 1,000 are now taking refuge with relations in nearby towns under tough conditions in this grim period of coronavirus lockdown,” Binniyat said.

The herdsmen attacked Kujeni village on April 23, killing three Christians and kidnapping 12 others, he said. The armed herdsmen were accompanied by assailants who wore military uniforms, according to Binniyat.

Those killed were identified as Maigida Maisama, Yahuda Mallam and Bulus Danzaria, he said.

“As the overpowered Christians made bids to escape, some were rounded up and herded into the vast forest,” Binniyat said. “To date, no one has any information about their conditions. No one is sure if they are dead or alive and in what condition. There is now uncertainty and anxiety over the disappearance of these Christians.”

He identified the kidnapped Christians as Bako Machu, Isaiah Bako, Timothy Musa, Hakuri Maigida, Apolo Ali, Emmanuel Maikasa, Haruna Dogo, Titus Ahmadu, Caleb Bakinpa, Tanimu Ami, Samuel Usman and Maigida Gamashewa.

Binniyat appealed to the federal and Kaduna state governments to rescue the abducted Christians and end herdsmen attacks on defenseless Christian communities.

“We are calling on Kaduna and the federal government to assist in the search for our missing Christians to reduce the mounting tension in the affected communities,” he said. “We are also appealing to Kaduna state government to enforce its resolve in dealing with all evil-doers who do not wish peaceful coexistence among the people.”

Peter Aboki, president of the Gbagyi Development Union (GDU) in Kaduna State, said seven Christians were killed and one kidnapped in herdsmen attacks on April 23 on the predominantly Christian communities of Akwunakwo, Kabirasha, and Damba in Chikun County.

Five other Christians were injured in the herdsmen attacks and are receiving treatment at the Sabon Tasha General Hospital, in Kaduna city, he said.

“The attacks on our communities started in the early hours of Thursday, April 23, and lasted up till about 4 p.m. as the herdsmen went from village to village attacking our defenseless Christian villagers,” Aboki told Morning Star News by text message.

Two of the Christians were killed in Akwunakwo village, where the attacks started early on April 23.

“The herdsmen then moved to the neighbouring Kabirasha village, where they abducted a deaf and dumb Christian,” Aboki said. “Damba village was attacked at about 4 p.m., and five Christians were killed there. They burned houses, foodstuffs and vehicles during the attacks on the villages.”

Displaced Christians are unable to return their villages as the herdsmen are still there, he said last week.

“We want the government to do something urgently, because Christians are being killed or abducted almost on a daily basis,” Aboki told Morning Star News. “Those areas are becoming a no-go area as a result of the deadly activities of herdsmen, and we want the government to do everything possible to stop this frequent loss of lives and destruction of property.”

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Source: Morning Star News