Persecution and Prayer Alert, Voice of the Martyrs
The Call for Freedom of Religion in Conflict-Prone Countries
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On December 10, 2012 (Human Rights Day), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) participated in a panel discussion regarding the importance of increasing global attention on the right to freedom of religion or belief, and how the international community can translate this into action to protect and promote this universal human right.
Sofia Lemmetyinen, Senior EU Advocate for CSW, joined the panel which included foreign ministers and the EU’s Special Representative on Human Rights. They discussed how the situation in conflict-prone countries can be addressed through the promotion of freedom of religion or belief. (Prior to this, the UK and Canadian governments jointly hosted a conference on combating intolerance and promoting freedom of religion for all.)
CSW continues to highlight threats to this right, including the situation of religious minorities in many countries around the world. In Egypt, a president elected as an alternative to a member of the former regime is attempting to force a draft constitution that limits the rights of religious minorities and women. In northern and central Nigeria, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram and its offshoots are mounting a deadly campaign aimed at eradicating Christianity, utilizing tactics that could amount to war crimes. In Burma, Rohingyas in Rakhine State has been subjected to a systematic campaign of persecution and ethnic cleansing. In Pakistan, the frequency of extremist violence against religious minorities has reached alarming levels.
The fact that there is heightened concern being expressed on a unified global platform over these alarming reports of religious persecution, and that measures are being presented to proactively deal with the issue, is most encouraging for Christians all around the world. Pray that God will grant these political leaders wisdom, strength and divine strategies as they endeavour to ‘stand in the gap’ on behalf of those who are suffering severely because of their faith. As a result, may the victims of persecution experience God’s mighty deliverance, vindication and peace in their lives and communities.
Christian Girl in Pakistan Abducted, Raped and Tortured
A 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl by the name of Asiya Masih was innocently picking flowers outdoors when two Muslim men kidnapped her on the 11th of November. The two men, Mohammad Javed and Mohammad Mumtaz, whisked the girl away to a secret location where she was forced to sign a document stating that she had converted to Islam. They also raped and tortured her during the 11 days of captivity.
When the girl’s father, Francis Masih, discovered that these men had abducted his daughter, he issued a complaint at the local police station but, unfortunately, the officers did not cooperate with him. Afterwards, the abductors contacted Francis personally, threatening that if he was to contact the police, they would kill young Asiya. They also proposed that if he wanted his daughter back alive, then he would have to give them a written document promising that he will not take any police action.
Although the young teen was eventually rescued by her father, with the help of an influential Christian businessman, local imams are stating that she is now “legally” a Muslim and, therefore, cannot live her life any longer as a Christian. In fact, one imam is now threatening to burn Christian homes if the young girl does not follow Islamic practices. Check the Pakistan Country Report for an historical overview of Pakistan and its stance on Christianity. While there, you will discover other information and video reports provided by VOM Canada.
First of all, please pray that the Lord will provide complete physical, emotional and spiritual healing to distressed Asiya. May He also grant her and her family justice in this very heart-breaking situation. In addition, ask that His protection to be extended to all of the defenceless girls and women in Pakistan, and that the perpetrators behind these harmful acts will realize the seriousness of their actions against God’s people and thus repent of their sins.
Threatening Mob Violently Storms Church in Sri Lanka
A large mob, which included Buddhist monks, stormed into a church in southern Sri Lanka on Sunday, December 10th, causing serious damage to property and injuring the pastor. According to a preliminary report from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), the raid took place during the Sunday morning meeting in Weeraketiya, Hambanthota, a district of Southern Province. Children were in the congregation during what is being described as a “distressing attack.”
The pastor of the church was reportedly hit with a rock and, as a result, has been suffering with “severe pain in his lower abdomen.” Others in the congregation were injured in the attack as well. The mob destroyed furniture and equipment inside the church, as well as vehicles that were parked outside belonging to church members.
NCEASL reports that a group of Buddhist monks and lay people visited the pastor on Saturday, declaring that he needed permission from Buddhist clergy to conduct Christian services in Weeraketiya. The pastor insisted that freedom of worship was his constitutional right but the visitors threatened to destroy the church if he did not stop conducting worship services.
It appears that the mob started demonstrating outside the church before entering the building. Policemen posted outside to monitor the demonstration were overpowered and two of the officers were reportedly harmed in the attack. Additional police reinforcements and soldiers were drafted in to contain the mob. To learn more about the various challenges facing Christians in this part of the world, please go to the Sri Lanka Country Report.
Pray that the pastor, the members of his congregation, and the police officers who were wounded during the attack will make a full recovery. May the Lord use this ordeal to further strengthen the faith of these Sri Lankan believers, granting them the courage to overcome the threats of the enemy and continue meeting together. Also remember to lift up the dear children who witnessed the event and are now in need of God’s reassuring comfort. Of course, we are to be mindful of our need to pray for the Lord to radically transform the hearts and minds of the persecutors.