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Christian protests ignored as cross is torn down from church in China

Authorities forcibly removed the cross from the top of a registered church in Jiangsu province, China, on 10 February, despite the protests of Christians.

Builders arrived with a crane at Chengdong Christian Church and hoisted the large cross from the four-storey building. The national flag was flying next to it.

More than 20 of the church’s 3,000-strong congregation were present. Many objected to the removal and others called for more prayer. Chengdong Christian Church is a government approved “three-self” church that was officially registered in 2007.

Authorities have forcibly removed crosses from churches across China as their crackdown against religious freedom continues (Image credit: ChinaAid)

The past year has seen an intensification of government action against the official “three-self” churches, and unofficial congregations, known as “house churches” in China, a country where there are thought to be at least 150 million Christians, possibly even 200 million.

In November 2018, a “three-self” church in Henan province was ordered to erase the First Commandment from display by government officials. Also in Henan in 2018, crosses were torn down at churches in Jiaozuo, Shangqiu and Anyang and, in mid-April, a church at Gongyi was forcibly demolished.

Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong from the unofficial Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan province, detained on 9 December, remain in jail along with at least twelve members of the congregation.

A statement signed by 500 church leaders in November 2018 said authorities have removed crosses from buildings, forced churches to display the Chinese flag and sing patriotic songs, and barred children from attending worship services.

Source: Barnabas Fund



REPORT SHOWS 57 PERCENT JUMP IN AGGRESSION AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN INDIA

Hate and targeted violence up first two months of year.



Nigeria’s Middle Belt Report: Boko Haram and Fulani Militants Terrorize Central Nigeria in February 2019

Boko Haram and Fulani militants continued their brutal campaign of violence throughout Nigeria’s Middle Belt region in February.

The uptrend in attacks by Fulani militants has persisted throughout 2019, with the heaviest attacks taking place in Plateau State. This undeclared war has turned Muslims and Christians against each other in a confrontation that threatens the stability of Nigeria. In February, ICC documented at least 60 attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani militants that killed a total of 205 people. Of these, Boko Haram was responsible for 126 deaths, 83 of which were civilians. Fulani militants were responsible for at least 79 deaths.

Persistent ethnic tension, religious differences, and a lack of economic resources inflict suffering in Christian areas as Fulani militants attack defenseless farmers, impoverishing many. Human Rights Watch reported, “Increased frequency of violent conflict has been linked to intense pressures on land because of expansion of commercially cultivated areas, corporate mining activities, and competitive overuse of common resources, such as forests, pastoral rangelands, and water sources, exacerbated by climate change.”As Nigeria’s farmer-herder conflict continues to unleash bloodshed, the humanitarian crisis continues to worsens in the state.

Despite these violent attacks, there have been no major attempts by the Nigerian government to hold the Fulani accountable or disarm them. The recent re-election of President Buhari ensures that the government will remain dormant as the perpetrators continue to inflict suffering in Nigeria. Although Buhari assured Nigerians that Boko Haram would be a “thing of the past” if he were re-elected, there is little confidence that militant groups will be defeated in 2019. The Middle Belt should remain a cause of great concern for all those interested in Nigeria’s growth and stability.

Below are the largest attacks that took place in February:

1. February 10, 2019: Fulani militants attacked Adara Christian community, killing 11
2.February 18, 2019: Boko Haram beheads merchants, killing 18
3. February 20, 2019: Fulani militants attack Benue State, killing 16

According to Global Terrorism Index’s 2018 ranking, Nigeria remains the third “Most Terrorized Country” for the fourth consecutive year. This trend continues to worsen as militants are able to operate freely. Boko Haram and Fulani militants’ brutal campaigns have claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions more in recent years. The Nigerian government and the rest of the world must remember to pray for those affected by the deadly violence taking place in the Middle Belt. 

Source (International Christian Concern) – persecution.org



Nigeria: Protect Christians, Release International tells re-elected Buhari

Report: Hassan John

Release International, the organization speaking and campaigning for persecuted Christians worldwide, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, who just won a re-election, to protect the Christian population in Nigeria against the ongoing attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group and the Fulani cattle herdsmen militia.

Nigeria ranks third on the Global Terrorism Indexas the most terrorized country in the world for the fourth consecutive year. The terrorist groups have killed more than 300, 000 people and displaced over two million in the predominantly Christian regions of the middle and north-eastern Nigeria.

Burnt Church by Fulani attackers in Dogo na Hauwa, Jos: Photo Credit: Author

Many Christians in Nigeria believe these armed groups are well funded by Islamist movements both within and outside the country. The Christian Association of Nigeria and Christian Elders have accused the Nigerian government and President Buhari of complacency and protecting particularly the Fulani Islamists because he is a Muslim from the same nomadic tribe. Some elements in the Nigerian armed forces have also been accused of collusion in the massacre of Christians.

‘They have killed with impunity, and that impunity must stop,’ said Paul Robinson, Release Chief executive said.

“Questions remain about who is arming the Fulani and why? Whose agenda do they serve by attacking Christians? And why has the government of Nigeria done so little to disarm them?” said Robinsonand added that “Nigeria’s re-elected president must answer these questions – and take immediate action to stop the violence.”

The Archbishop of Jos Ben Kwashi, a Release International partner, said “the government has been unable to provide security for the poor. The government must rise to its responsibility to mete out justice and save lives.’

Former Military President and dictator, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, while congratulating Buhari, also charged the President to make insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria a priority among other things.

Leah Sharibu: Photo Credit: Leah’s Family

Meanwhile Rebecca Sharibu,mother of Leah Sharibu, the only Christian girls who is still under Boko Haram’s captivity, has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory at the polls and begged him to fulfil his promise to do everything possible to secure the release of Leah.

“I want to remind the President that, as he celebrates his victory, he should not forget that Leah is still in the hands of Boko Haram. As for me, my heart is heavy because I have not seen my daughter for more than one year now. I am calling on the President to fulfill his promise of freeing my daughter from the hands of Boko Haram. My cry is still the same, today and tomorrow until I see my daughter,”Rebecca said

Addressing the terrorist group, Rebecca pleaded with them, “to have mercy on my daughter and other captives and release them unconditionally,” pleading with the terrorists to “know that we have been subjected to psychological torture and trauma since my daughter was taken away. Please have mercy on my daughter,” she sobbed.

The Al-Barnawi Boko Haram terrorist group had kidnapped 115 Muslim girls at the Dapchi Girls Secondary School in February 2018. Leah Sharibu was the only Christian among them. Boko Haram later released the Muslim girls after a paid ransom but refused to release Leah because she refused to convert to Islam.

Cover image CC: Nigerianmonitor

Source: Global Christian News




Church Bombings In Philippines Kill 20, Injure Dozens

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (BosNewsLife) — Two bomb blasts shook a Catholic cathedral in the troubled southern Philippines where Islamic militants are active, killing at least 20 people and wounding some 80 others, police officials said.

The first explosion went off inside the Cathedral of ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel’ in Jolo, the capital of Sulu province, while worshipers gathered for Mass, according to witnesses and authorities. It was followed by a second blast outside, which was detonated as security forces rushed to the scene.

Debris and bodies were seen lying on a busy street outside the cathedral, which was hit by bombs in the past.

Police and the military confirmed that the casualties included both troops and civilians. In a statement, the government pledged to hunt down the attackers “until every killer is brought to justice and put behind bars.” The “ruthless perpetrators” will be shown “no mercy,” the government warned.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte condemned the bombing as an “act of terrorism.”

POPE REACTS

Pope Francis expressed his “firmest reproach” about the attacks and prayed that the Lord would “convert the hearts of the violent and grant the inhabitants of that region a peaceful coexistence”.

Speaking in Panama on the last day of World Youth Day 2019 the pontiff remembered the victims and noted that it brings “new mourning to this Christian community” in the heavily Muslim area.

Elsewhere, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “for the perpetrators of these crimes to be swiftly brought to justice.”

The Philippine Catholic bishops expressed outrage about the “act of terrorism” and offered their condolences to the families of the dead and the injured. “We condole with the families of the several soldiers and civilians who were killed by the explosions,” Archbishop Romulo Valles, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in a statement.

“We also express our sympathies with those who were wounded and extend our solidarity with the rest
of the church-goers inside the Cathedral and the rest of the church community in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo.”

DEADLIEST ATTACK

Sunday’s church attack was one of the deadliest in recent years in a region plagued by instability. Jolo island has long been troubled by the presence of Abu Sayyaf militants, who are blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist group following years of bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest violence.

However, the blasts came at a time when the region voted this week in a referendum aimed at bringing peace to the area after nearly five decades of a separatist rebellion that left some 150,000 people dead.

The vote for the so-called Bangsamoro Organic Law, ratified this week, created an autonomous region in the Muslim-heavy region of Mindanao. The area is to be ruled by a transitional authority before a regional government is set up.

Although most of the Muslim areas approved the autonomy deal, voters in Jolo in Sulu province rejected the legislation but would still be considered part of the autonomous region. Analysts say it will be difficult to implement the law in that part of the area. The province is home to a rival rebel faction that opposes the deal and smaller militant cells that do not participate in any peace process. (BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos contributed to the story).

Source: By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by Linda Bordoni and Robin Gomes