December 19, 2012
American pastor imprisoned without notice of charges while visiting family in Iran
By Lisa Daftari
Saeed Abedini is seen with his family.
A 32-year-old Iranian who is a U.S. citizen and a Christian convert has been imprisoned without notice of any formal charges while visiting his family in Iran, according to his wife and attorneys in the U.S., who are now hoping that a media campaign will help set him free.
The Rev. Saeed Abedini, who lives in the U.S. with his wife and two young children, was making one of his frequent visits to see his parents and the rest of his family in Iran, his country of origin and where he spent many years as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts.
On this last trip, the Iranian government pulled him off a bus and said he must face a penalty for his previous work as a Christian leader in Iran.
He is currently awaiting trial at Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin Prison, where he has been incarcerated since late September.
“When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country. His passion was to reach the people of Iran,” Naghmeh, his wife, said in an exclusive interview with Fox News.
“He comes from a very close-knit family, and he loved evangelizing and passing out Bibles on the streets of Tehran. This was his passion,” she said.
In July, Abedini left his wife and kids to go to Iran to visit family and continue a humanitarian effort he began years ago to build an orphanage.
After a short visit to a nearby country, Abedini was traveling back into Iran to catch his flight back to the U.S. when members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard stopped his bus near the Turkey-Iran border and pulled Abedini from the bus, confiscating his passports and subjecting him to intense interrogation, according to his wife.
After weeks under house arrest and many calls to Iran’s passport control office about the status of his confiscated passport, Abedini was told that his case has been referred to the Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian government’s elite military force.
On Sept. 26, five men kicked open the door of Abedini’s parents’ residence in Tehran where they collected all communications devices and arrested him while placing the rest of his family members, who are also Christians converts from Islam, under house arrest.
The family remains under house arrest, according to Naghmeh.
Two days before the home raid, Naghmeh reports getting a call to her cellphone in the U.S., from someone she thinks was an Iranian government agent threatening that she would “never see him again.”
Abedini is the father of a house church movement in Iran, a community of underground places of worship for former Muslims who convert to Christianity and are not allowed to formally pray in recognized churches.
Over the course of his involvement, his home church movement had about 100 churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.
“It was just growing so fast. They see the underground churches as a threat and they see Christianity as a tool from the West to undermine them,” Naghmeh said. “They think if the country becomes more Christian, they are no longer under Islamic authority. That’s why it’s a threat.”
But “Christianity saved his life,” Naghmeh says of her husband, who converted at the age of 20, after becoming severely depressed from undergoing suicide bomber training by a radical Muslim group.
Abedini was recruited in high school and taken to the mosque to be trained, she says. The more he sought to be a devout Muslim and the deeper he went into training, the more depressed he became.
Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is on a par with someone waging war against Islam. Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s Constitution, which allows judges to rely on fatwas for determining charges and sentencing on crimes not addressed in the Iranian penal code.
All religious minorities in Iran, including Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, have faced various forms of persecution and political and social marginalization throughout the regime’s 30-year reign. But the government saves its harshest retribution for those who have abandoned Islam.
During the many rounds of interrogations, Abedini has informally been told he will be charged for threatening the national security of Iran and espionage, due to his involvement with Christian house churches and foreign Christian satellite TV ministries.
The Iranian government offered bail in the amount of 500 million toman, or roughly $410,000. Abedini’s family has prepared the bail documents many times already but have not been successful in having it accepted or approved, they say.
Just this week they prepared yet again the bail documents but were told they were not going to be accepted. When they inquired, they were told, “Boro Gomsho!” or get lost.
“It’s hardest on the kids,” Naghmeh said. “Saeed was a stay-at-home dad. My daughter said she is forgetting Daddy’s voice and she asked me, ‘Do you think he has a beard now?’ I didn’t even think of that. She keeps playing the home videos over and over. It’s the hardest at night because he had a night routine with them when he would read them books and tuck them in. They miss that the most.”
Abedini and his wife had met in Iran in 2002, while she was there working for Iranian relatives, and were married shortly thereafter. Together, they worked as Christian leaders in the underground house churches. After facing persecution for these activities, in 2005, they moved to the U.S. together.
His first trip back to Iran was in 2009 with his wife and two children to visit his family when he came under government scrutiny. As the family attempted to catch their flight back to the U.S., Abedini was detained and told he would have to stay in the country for further questioning. His wife and children were put on a plane bound for the U.S., separated from their husband and father.
After the arrest and rounds of intense interrogation, in which the interrogators threatened Abedini with death for his conversion to Christianity, they agreed to release him, according to his attorneys, but only after he signed a written agreement in which the government would not charge him for his Christian activities, and he would be allowed to enter and exit the country so long as he ceased all official house church activities.
According to his attorneys, he had honored this agreement. “He thought if he honored his part, they would honor theirs. He was transparent about his humanitarian work there,” said Tiffany Barrans, International Legal Director at the American Center for Law and Justice based in Washington D.C, the organization representing Abedini’s U.S.-based family.
This was ninth trip since 2009 to visit family and to continue his humanitarian work on developing a non-sectarian orphanage in the city of Rasht on a family-owned land plot.
“You have a situation of arbitrary detention here. Iran is violating its own constitution and its international obligations. As citizens of the world, we need to wake up to these violations. Iran needs to be exposed for its violation of these laws,” said Barrans, who has been working very closely with Naghmeh to push for her husband’s release.
The American Center for Law and Justice is providing legal support to Naghmeh by working through the US government, members of Congress, various governments around the world, and with leaders in the United Nations to help release Pastor Saeed.
The ACLJ previously played an integral role in reaching various government representatives in the case of imprisoned minister Youcef Nadarkhani, who was freed from an Iranian prison after nearly three years following a tremendous international outcry demanding his release.
Despite the fact that Abedini was arrested Sept. 26, the family elected to work through different private means to get him released. In that time, however, he was denied access to an attorney and was badly been beaten by prison guards. According to his wife, Abedini is also being severely beaten by his cell mates who self-identify as members of Al Qaeda. The family is greatly concerned for his health and well being.
The U.S. has not had formal diplomatic ties with the Iranian government since 1980 and relies on alternative efforts in such instances.
Fox News reached out to the State Department for comment on Abedini’s case but has not received a call back yet.
“We were hopeful that the Iranian government would have released him by now and that private efforts would have been more successful. Also, as Saeed has family in Iran, we had to be mindful of the fact that any public action taken could put his family at risk,” said Barrans.
“They see that the house church culture is alive and thriving. They believe that making an example out of their former leader will deter others from practicing and converting to Christianity.”
Several house church members, friends and distant relatives of Abedini have had to flee the country in recent months after being summoned by the government to collect evidence against him.
As a convert away from Islam, worshippers are not permitted to attend services at official churches. Underground house churches became a popular way to get around this restriction.
“They have denied converts the opportunity to worship in an official place of worship. Then they tell them they can’t practice their faith underground, and doing so is a crime against Iran’s national security interests. How is this not a violation of religious freedom?” Barrans said.
December 17, 2012
Muslims gloat over take-over of Christian church
MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) held their convention at All Saints Church in California.
- Los Angeles-based Muslim organization whose leadership defends extremist violence
- Opposes the shutdown of Muslim charities suspected of supporting terrorism
- Opposes the Patriot Act
- MPAC speakers regularly complain that the U.S. is “dominated” by Zionists and favors Jews over Muslims.
- Condemning Israel’s “apartheid-like ideology,” MPAC warns: “History shows that Muslim and Christian religious rights are not safe under Israeli occupation.” (morre here)
We had operatives at the event. Here is their first report.
Muslims gloat over take-over of Christian church
As the Muslim Public Affairs Council settled into their convention home at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, there was hardly a whimper from the Rector Ed Bacon. And that whimper wasn’t over the Muslims praying their anti-Christian and anti-Jewish prayers three times in the facility. (see this ) Rather, it was over the nationwide-outrage over All Saints’ partnering with the American Muslims’ political arm, giving them free use of their campus. Rev. Bacon lamented, “Christians can be very hateful.” One-third of the convention’s agenda was devoted to a pity party analyzing what the opposition to the conference location meant, moderated by Channel 4 Newscaster Beverly White. The “backlash” was called one of the most vile and mean-spirited campaign in memory.
The Muslims at the conference could hardly retain their exuberance over their unprecedented coup. Gloated speaker Haris Tarin, “We have made a church our home!” Muslim-convert Alejandro Beutel observed that by 2050 whites will be a minority in the U.S., and he asked, “Are Muslims up to the challenge.” Their mission must be to be marginalize and silence the racist, Islamophobic bigots who are defaming Islam. Dustin Craun asserted that Islamophobes are part of a long history of white supremacy dating back to the Klu Klux Klan. One presenter showed a slide that stated, “Islamophobia has become the accepted form of racism in America. (Note: To Muslims, racism isn’t biological – traits that cannot be changed – but rather cultural, indicating their refusal to assimilate or allow freedom of choice with regard to religion.) White Republicans, Pamela Geller, and those who provide financial support to the extremists were among the specific objects of contempt.
The two most repeated words during the conference were “bigotry” and “justice.” MPAC was selling a 400 page book on their agenda titled, “In Pursuit of Justice.” (Note: The Muslim view of “Justice” consists of the commands in the Quran: “And you shall see every nation bowing down; every nation shall be called to its book: today you shall be rewarded for what you did. This is Our book that speaks against you with justice. . . .” (Surah 45:28-29). Rev. Bacon declared, “We have to work towards justice, and to do that we have to join forces.” Perhaps he didn’t see the command in the Quran, “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. “ (Surah 5:51)
In view of this specific prohibition, one wonders why Muslims would join forces with Christians? Their agenda was to gain acceptance and support for Islamic Sharia Law via the endorsements by a Christian church as well as by vote-seeking elected officials. The conference brochure contained 14 gushing letters of support from state and federal representatives. Dr. Maher Hathout minced no words about their objective: “Our job is to make Muslims better people. What would be better than the Laws of Allah?”
However, former Muslim Brotherhood activist Dr. Hathout, may be getting some push-back from a younger generation of Muslims who also addressed the conference. Darakshan Raja, a victimology specialist at the Urban Institute, said there is an urgent need to protect Muslim women and children from violence and abuse. Imams need to be trained in dealing with domestic violence. “Muslims have a right to life free of violence,” she said. Since Sharia Law empowers all Muslims to “command the right and forbid the wrong” with all means short of using weapons, to beat their wives, and to kill apostates with impunity, Ms. Raja took a brave swipe at Sharia Law which was not lost on those at the convention. Brava!
Yes, it is very good that young Muslim women speak out. But her fear or reluctance to tie honor violence to the Islamic honor code speaks to the larger problem.
UPDATE: From my very good source inside the Muslim community:
As for what seems to be a bit of rebellion against the Muslim elders, I would not be too optimistic. There is a refuge for battered women in the Orange County area. It does not exist because Muslims are aghast at violence against women and children. It exists so that these women have a place to go instead of calling the police. I have heard Muslim social workers talk about domestic violence, and the theme is always: keep it contained within the Muslim community.
November 28, 2012
Egypt court sentences in absentia
7 Coptic Christians, US pastor to death over anti-Islam film
By Associated Press, (From Washington Post)
AP Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 1:03 PM
CAIRO — An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.
The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the sentence. The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.
The low-budget “Innocence of Muslims,” parts of which were made available online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.
Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information — charges that carry the death sentence.
Maximum sentences are common in cases tried in absentia in Egypt. Capital punishment decisions are reviewed by the country’s chief religious authority, who must approve or reject the sentence. A final verdict is scheduled on Jan. 29.
The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, was among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to one year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.
Multiple calls to Youssef’s attorney in Southern California, Steve Seiden, were not returned Wednesday.
Florida-based Terry Jones, another of those sentenced, is the pastor of Dove World Outreach, a church of less than 50 members in Gainesville, Fla., not far from the University of Florida. He has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the film, as well as Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who posted the video clips on his website.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jones said the ruling “shows the true face of Islam” — one that he views as intolerant of dissent and opposed to basic freedoms of speech and religion.
“We can speak out here in America,” Jones said. “That freedom means that we criticize government leadership, religion even at times. Islam is not a religion that tolerates any type of criticism.”
An Associated Press reporter knocked on the door of Sadek’s home in Chantilly, Virginia. No one answered.
The connection to the film of the other five sentenced by the court was not immediately clear. They include two who work with Sadek at a radical Coptic group in the U.S. that has called for an independent Coptic state, a priest who hosts TV programs from the U.S. and a lawyer living in Canada who has previously sued the Egyptian state over riots in 2000 that left 21 Christians dead.
The other person is a woman who converted to Christianity and is a staunch critic of Islam.
The official news agency report said that during the trial, the court reviewed a video of some defendants calling for an independent Coptic state in Egypt, and another of Jones burning the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The prosecutor asked for the maximum sentence, accusing those charged of seeking to divide Egypt and incite sedition. All the defendants, except Jones, hold Egyptian nationality, the agency added.
Some Christians and human rights groups worry that prosecutions for insulting religion, which existed to a degree under the secular-leaning regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, will increase with the ascent of Islamists to power in Egypt.
Egypt’s Islamic (Muslim Brotherhood) government started applying Shariaa and disregarding current criminal code.
This ruling is according to Shariaa which states that if you blaspheme against Allah you can be forgiven if you repent BUT if you blaspheme against prophet Muhammad, you must be killed even if you repent.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke.
October 28, 2012
Bombing of Catholic church during Mass in northern Nigeria
October 28, 2012 /MCN/
Eye witnesses say suicide bombers rammed two explosive-laden cars into a Catholic church during Mass in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens.
One of the witnesses who survived the two blasts, Linus Lighthouse, told Reuters the attackers were able to drive the cars against the walls of St. Rita’s Church in Kaduna
Kaduna, an ethnically and religiously mixed state in northern Nigeria, has witnessed periodically sectarian killing
September 28, 2012
Christians flee Egypt town after death threats: officials
Cairo: Several Christian families have fled their homes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula after receiving death threats from suspected Islamist militants, officials and residents told AFP on Friday.
Last week, flyers began circulating in the town of Rafah on the Gaza Strip border demanding that its tiny Coptic population move out, residents said.
Officials at the local church informed the authorities of the threats, but no action was taken, they added.
Days later, a shop belonging to one of the families was fired on with automatic rifles, witnesses said.
The events prompted the families to leave Rafah but there were conflicting accounts over whether they had done so voluntarily or been evicted.
“The families have left Rafah and gone to El-Arish,” one official said on condition of anonymity.
Another official denied that any Coptic families had left at all.
Representatives of the families, many of whom hold government jobs as well private businesses, sat down with the governor of North Sinai earlier this week and asked to be transferred to the nearby town of Al-Arish, the official said.
The events come amid heightened sectarian tensions in the country, particularly in the lawless Sinai Peninsula where the armed forces launched an unprecedented campaign in August to root out Islamic militants.
Father Mikhail Antoine of El-Arish church told AFP “the families moved voluntarily because they feared for their lives after the threats.”
He said the Coptic population of North Sinai numbered 5,000 to 6,000, adding that around seven Coptic families had been living in Rafah before the move.
Copts have been nervous since Islamists came to power following an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.
They have also been fearing the backlash from an anti-Islam film apparently produced by a Copt in the United States that sparked violent protests worldwide, and that they believe will lead to further persecution at home.
Egypt’s Christians, who make up six to 10 percent of the country’s population of 82 million, have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalization. They have also been the target of numerous sectarian attacks.
September 10, 2012
Pastor Yousef and Rimsha released!
We have joyful news to share! Pastor Yousef has been released from his prison in Iran and has been able to join his family, while in Pakistan Rimsha, the Christian Down Syndrome girl we told you about a short while ago, has been released on bail. We are delighted about these developments and wanted to share our joy with you and thank you for your efforts on their behalf.
This does not mean that Pastor Yousef or Rimsha are out of danger. The charges of blasphemy against Rimsha remain outstanding and even if they are dismissed, as we hope they will be, if her family stays in Pakistan they will be forced to live in hiding in order to avoid being killed by Muslim extremists exercising vigilante justice. While the situation in Iran is a little different, Pastor Yousef’s case has had a very high profile and his family may face continued dangers if they stay in Iran.
Many organizations have been working hard on these two cases and your voices joining together with thousands of others around the globe on behalf of Pastor Yousef and Rimsha succeeded in securing their release. Justice will not be done, however, until all Iranians and Pakistanis are free to believe and to worship God in accordance with their religion and beliefs.
September 10, 2012
Jihadists Threaten to Burn U.S. Embassy in Cairo
Written by Raymond Ibrahim
Monday, 10 September 2012
Jihadists groups in Egypt, including Islamic Jihad, the Sunni Group, and Al Gamaa Al Islamiyya have issued a statement threatening to burn the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to the ground.
According to El Fagr, they are calling for the immediate release of the Islamic jihadis who are imprisonment and in detention centers in the U.S. including Guantanamo Bay: “The group, which consists of many members from al-Qaeda, called [especially] for the quick release of the jihadi [mujahid] sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman [the “Blind Sheikh”], whom they described as a scholar and jihadi who sacrificed his life for the Egyptian Umma, who was ignored by the Mubarak regime, and [President] Morsi is refusing to intervene on his behalf and release him, despite promising that he would.
The Islamic Group has threatened to burn the U.S. Embassy in Cairo with those in it, and taking hostage those who remain [alive], unless the Blind Sheikh is immediately released.”
September 3, 2012
Kansas Governor Signs Sharia Ban into Law
Written by CBN News
Monday, 03 September 2012
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a measure blocking the use of Islamic law in the state. The new law doesn’t specifically mention Sharia law, but it does bar Kansas courts and government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes.
Muslim groups oppose the measure, arguing it promotes discrimination. They say state bans could nullify wills or legal contracts between Muslims.
Supporters say the move will reassure Kansas residents that courts will rely only on the laws of that state and the U.S. They cited divorce and property cases around the country where judges or state agencies took Islamic law into account in their rulings.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the new law is discriminatory and a court challenge is likely.
August 9, 2012
Copts to be Excluded from Egypt’s Constitutional Committee for Believing Jesus is Son of God?
A Muslim lawyer in Egypt is arguing that, because Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God, they are clearly polytheistic infidels, and not the “Christians,” the “Nassara,” that the Koran speaks tolerably of, on occasion. Accordingly, Egypt’s Copts, because they profess the Trinity, must be barred from having any say regarding the new constitution. “Lawyer Requests Exclusion of Copts from Constitutional Committee for being ‘Polytheists,’” from Coptic Solidarity, July 30:
Sherif Gadallah, a lawyer from Alexandria has submitted a report to the public prosecutor, against the president of the court of appeal, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, the interim Pope of Alexandria as well as President Mohamed Morsy requesting the exclusion of Copts from the committee in charge of forming Egypt’s constitution, claiming that Orthodox Copts are not representative of Egypt’s Christian population, because they are simply not “nassara”; a substitute term employed by Salafists to refer to people of Christian faith, this term has developed pejorative connotations, being used by those who loathe Christians the most; the use of which often justified by the fact that the term “Christian” was never mentioned in the Quran.
According to Mr. Gadallah Orthodox Copts are not “Nassara, or even Christian”; they can be counted among the “polytheists” which makes them non-representative of Egypt’s Christians.
Mr. Gadallah bases his request on purely Islamic grounds. He states that the essence of all heavenly religions is that “Allah is one and there is no god but Him”, and that the prophets of Allah, Moses, Eissa [Arabic for Jesus] and Mohamed, are but humans sent by Allah to pass along His message to His Creatures, so if a certain denomination of a certain religion claims that their prophet is the “son of God” or “is God”, it is then considered infidel and a dissident of that religion. Gadallah goes on to ask the Grand Mufti to have Al-Azhar issue a clear statement about the verdict of Sharia regarding Copts who claim that Jesus is the son of God.
August 1, 2012
120 Christian families flee village following death of a Muslim
“Arab Spring” democracy and pluralism in full flower: “120 Christian Families Flee Egyptian Village Following Death of a Muslim,” by Mary Abdelmassih for AINA, August 1:
(AINA) — The sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians which took place last week in the village of Dahshur has prompted over 120 Christian families to flee their homes today after news that a Muslim man who had suffered 3rd degree burns in the incident died this morning in a Cairo hospital. Before his death, the father and brother of Moaz Hassab-Allah told the media yesterday that should he die, “the whole village will avenge his death.”
Coptic villagers were terrorized today after a Muslim Brotherhood cleric roamed the village vowing that the village church of St. George will be burned down, its pastor and all the entire Christian inhabitants killed and their homes torched after the burial of Moaz tonight, reportd [sic] Coptic activist Maariam Ragy.
Coptic professional garments presser Sameh Samy accidentally burned the shirt of his Muslim client Ahmad Ramadan. “They agreed to meet after the Muslim breaks his fast and settle the damage,” said father Takla of St, George’s church to MidEast Christian News, “however, Ramadan came back before the appointment.” He added that after breaking their Ramadan fast nearly 2000-3000 Muslims congregated; Mr. Samy locked his launderette and his home.
Fighting broke out between the Muslims and Sameh’s family, during which Molotov’s cocktails, firearms and knives were used. The priest explained that Sameh faced this huge mob in “self-defense,” threw a Molotov’s cocktail which hit the passer-by Moaz.
“This made the villagers extremely angry and they torched his home and his launderette and his brother’s home after they looted the contents, a loss of nearly 400,000 Egyptian pounds. They prevented the fire brigade from reaching the fire,” said Takla. The mob wounded Sameh, his father, his cousin and another Copt. Father Takla said that over 500 moderate village Mulims [sic] stopped the Salafist mob from storming the church, until security forces arrived and secured it.
Prosecution ordered the arrest of five Muslims, while Sameh Samy, his father and brother were detained pending investigation on charges of attempted murder and possession of explosives. Today, prosecution renewed their detention for 15 days and changed the charged to contemplated murder. No Muslim has yet been arrested.
In another incident in Shubra el Khayma, Qaliubya province, On July 26, Dr Maher Ghaly looked out from his window at dawn and asked a group of Muslim Salafis who have a shop in the same building not to fire their weapons in the air in celebration of another day of the Ramadan fast. He explained to them that in his household there are sick persons and children who are greatly disturbed. “Their answer was to shoot at him. One of his eyes was blown away and there is no hope of replacing the cornea in his other eye,” said his brother Fayez. He said that the Muslims wanted to break the main building door and go to his flat but were unable. “Although the police issued a report, they have done nothing to arrest the culprits.”
Dr. Ghaly is hospitalized in the French hospital in Cairo.
Two days ago, a Muslim attacked a church in the area of Sheikh Zayed, Qaliubya. Prosection did not make any charged against him as he is “mentally unstable,” and was subsequently released.
“Simce [sic] Morsy became President of Egypt, there is systematic persecuion [sic] of the Copts, ” said Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization. He said that in the last ten days of the Muslim Ramadam fast, twelve incidents took place against the Copts, including the arrest of the six Copts in Dahshur, while no Muslim was arrested.
“Displacement of Copts has become fashionable,” said Gabriel. “Now any small melee between a Muslim and a Copt is used by Islamists, turning it into a sectarian incident, pushing for Coptic arrests, torching of their homes or enforced displacement, while not a single action is taken against the Muslim culprits.”
July 11, 2012
Pastor arrested for holding home Bible study
JULY 11, 2012
- BY: DONNA SUNDBLAD
When you hear of a pastor being arrested for holding a Bible study in his home what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Must be someplace like Iran where Christians are persecuted, right? Not this time. It happened right here in the good old U.S.A.
Pastor Michael Salman arrested for Bible study
Pastor Michael Salman and his family live on about 4 ½ acres in the Phoenix area. Salman is an ordained minister who holds a number of biblical degrees, but since 2005, they have chosen to gather like the biblical church, in homes.
“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46)(HCSB).
Today, Michael Salman sits in jail following a raid on his home because the city doesn’t allow people to hold private Bible studies on their own property! Fox News quoted Phoenix City Prosecutor Vicki Hall as saying, “It came down to zoning and proper permitting. Anytime you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does, we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire.”
Serving 60 days for home Bible study
Police raided the Salman home on July 6, 2012. Funny that just two days following Independence Day, that a Christian following what the Bible teaches would be arrested for practicing their religious liberty.
The other side of the story
The Salmans have been gathering in the home since 2005, but in 2007 they did receive a notice from the City of Phoenix that Bible studies and other church-like activities are not permitted in a residence unless the property is converted to an A3 occupancy, which allows commercial and public use. Michael Salmon argued his case pointing out that their gatherings are not opened to the public. Just like in the Bible, gatherings were among believers who knew one another. It was part of body life. With only 15-20 people meeting, Salmon argued that the code was unconstitutional. They tried to take steps to meet the requirements, but did not want to become a commercial entity.
The church is the people not a building
For the first almost 300 years, there were no church buildings. People knew where to meet because they knew one another. It wasn’t like a sign was posted saying “services at 11:00.” People knew where and when to meet because they were connected. It wasn’t until the reign of Constantine and the establishment of Christianity as the state religion that Christians started meeting in buildings other than homes.
Today many have lost the understanding that the building is not the church. Believers are the church. To have laws that prevent or restrict the gathering of the church is scary business. Michael Salman is serving 60 days in jail for “creating an unsafe building environment.” He has received a $12,180 fine for his crime and he’s looking at probation. The city has tried to paint it as a safety code rather than a religious issue, but when the facts are examined it seems more like an infringement of first amendment rights.
Pastor Now In Jail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7tpX6oXZwA
Pastor Michael Salman and his family:
July 3, 2012
Pakistan: Jihadis blow up girls’ school
Will the Islamophobia never end? “Girls’ school blown up in NW Pakistan,” from PressTV, July 1 (thanks to Lachlan):
Unidentified attackers have destroyed a state-run girls’ primary school in the troubled northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, where government troops are fighting militants, Press TV reports.
Local officials told Press TV on Saturday that the assailants carried out the attack by detonating explosives in the remote village of the Mata Shah in the Salarzai area of the Bajaur tribal region, located 180 kilometers west of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, in the early hours of Friday.
The incident did not have any casualties since the school was empty at the time of the blast, local officials said.
Law enforcement agents cordoned off the area after the blast and launched an investigation. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. However, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants are the main suspects in such incidents.
The TTP has banned female education in northwestern Pakistan in a move that has affected thousands of girls there and caused the number of enrolments to drop dramatically.
The group warns parents against sending their daughters to schools, describing education as ‘unnecessary’ or ‘harmful’ for girls….
Obviously it is.
July 1, 2012
Masked ‘goons’ kill at least 17 in attacks on churches in Kenya
Masked attackers killed at least 17 people on Sunday in gun and grenade attacks on churches in a Kenyan town used as a base for operations against al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Somalia.
At least 45 people were wounded in the simultaneous attacks on Garissa, in the north of the East African country which has suffered a series of blasts since sending troops into Somalia last October to crush Somalia’s al Shabaab militants.
“We have 17 bodies at the mortuary so far,” regional medical officer Abdikadir Sheikh told Reuters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Police said they suspected the attacks could have been the work of al-Shabab sympathizers or bandits, but it was too early to say. Inside Somalia, al Shabaab declined comment.
“The goons were clad in balaclavas,” regional deputy police chief Philip Ndolo told Reuters from Garissa.
He said a total of seven attackers hurled grenades inside the Catholic Church and the African Inland Church and then opened fire with guns. They struck the churches, which are two miles apart, at around 10.15 a.m. local time (03:15 a.m. ET).
Two policemen were among the dead.
They were the latest attacks on Christian worshippers in Kenya after two people were killed in grenade blasts in March and April.
But Sunday’s coordinated attacks on churches resembled the tactics of Nigeria’s Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has killed hundreds of people on the other side of the continent.
Other blasts in Kenya have hit nightclubs and bus stations in the capital Nairobi, the coastal city of Mombasa and areas near the Somalia border.
Kenya’s border region has been tense since it sent troops into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab Islamic militants, the BBC reported.
Although a majority of Kenyans are Christian, Garissa is more heavily Muslim.
The town of around 150,000, a market centre for the trade in camels, donkeys, goats and cattle, is largely populated by ethnic Somalis.
“You can imagine for such a small town how the police and medical services have been stretched trying to deal with this,” the police’s Ndolo said.
Garissa is about 60 miles from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, where gunmen kidnapped four aid workers and killed a driver on Friday before fleeing towards the border with Somalia.
Last Sunday, three people were killed in a grenade attack at a night club in the port city of Mombasa, a day after the U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned of an imminent attack on the city.
April 5, 2012
Egypt gives Christian student three years in jail for insulting Islam and Muhammad
This is the kind of free speech restriction that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is trying to compel Western states to adopt. “Egypt sends Christian student to jail for insulting Islam,” from Reuters, April 4 (thanks to David):
CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence.
Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population and the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda.
“Assiut child’s court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud … for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet,” the court said in a statement seen by Reuters.
The cartoons, published by Massoud in December, prompted some Muslims to attack Christians. Several Christian houses were burned and several Christians were injured in the violence.
Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai said the jail sentence was the maximum penalty under Egyptian law for such a crime.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s 80 million population, have long had a difficult relationship with Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim majority.
Tension between Muslims and Christians has simmered for years but has got worse since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Christians have become increasingly worried by a surge in attacks on churches, which they blame on hardline Islamists, though experts say local disputes are often also to blame.
February 27, 2012
A Pakistani settled in Spain asks formally “the prohibition of Quran”
“Imran Firasat” A Pakistani citizen with legal residence in Spain as a political refugee has presented an official petition to the numerous institutions of Spanish government for calling the prohibition of Quran.
Imran has formally sent the petition to the President of Spain, Parliament of Spain, Ministry of exterior and also to the ministry of interior. A copy of the petition is attached at the end of this news.
In the document presented to the government of Spain, Imran reveals 10 points which will support his petition for banning the Quran:
(1) The Quran is not a sacred and religious book, but a violent book, full of hatred and discrimination.
(2) The Quran is a horrible book which provokes a community calls Muslims to undertake Jihad, kill innocent people and destroy the peace of the world.
(3) The Quran is responsible for all the terrorism we have seen in recent years in which thousands of people lost their lives.
(4) The Quran is a book which contains evil teachings and forces its believers to capture the entire world and total power at any price.
(5) The Quran is a book which legally permits and incites hatred and violence and for that reason it is not compatible with the modern world including Spain.
(6) The Quran is a book which directly discriminates between human beings.
(7) The Quran is a book which doesn´t allow the freedom of expression neither the religious freedom.
(8) The Quran is a book which causes women to suffer and be tortured by means of its full of injustice and macho laws.
(9) The Quran is a book which rather than teaching unity, teaches disunity and in this way it doesn´t allow it´s believers to form friendship with those who are not Muslims, because in the eyes of Quran they are infidels.
(10) The Quran is a major threat to the free society of Spain. A book which clearly preach the messages of Jihad, killing, hate, discrimination and revenge. For that reason it can´t be compatible with the Spanish system in any sense. It is a book totally contrary to what the law and constitution of Spain say and it is inciting the hatred and violence in our country.
Thank you very much
Imran Firasat (Madrid – Spain)
February 15, 2012
Colorado student quits high school choir over Islamic song praising ‘Allah’
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials.
A Colorado high school student quit the school choir after an Islamic song containing the lyric “there is no other truth except Allah” made it into the repertoire.
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials. When the school stood by choir director Marcia Wieland’s selection, Harper quit.
“I don’t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don’t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,” Harper told KREX-TV. “This is worshipping another God, and even worshipping another prophet … I think there would be a lot of outrage if we made a Muslim choir say Jesus Christ is the only truth.”
District spokesman Jeff Kirtland rejected Harper’s analogy.
“This is about bringing diversity to the students and showing them other things that are out there, ” Kirtland told KREX. “The teacher was open with the parents and students do not have to participate in this voluntary club choir.”
Kirtland did not return multiple calls for comment from FoxNews.com.
Rahman, who has sold hundreds of millions of records and is well-known in his homeland, has said the song is not intended for a worship ceremony. Messages seeking comment from Rahman were not immediately returned.
The song is written in Urdu, but one verse translates to “There is no truth except Allah” and “Allah is the only eternal and immortal. “Although the choir sang the original version, Wieland distributed translated lyrics.
Grand Junction High School Principal Jon Bilbo did not return calls for comment.
School officials told KREX-TV that Wieland — aware that there would be questions regarding the song — asked her students to watch a YouTube videoof the song prior to performing it.
February 13, 2012
Egyptian village expels Coptic families amid sectarian tensions
The police and army forces failed to protect Christian residents’ homes and property.
REPORTING FROM CAIRO — Eight Christian Coptic families have been evicted from their village in the coastal governorate of Alexandria after violence erupted last month amid rumors of an affair between a Coptic man and a Muslim woman.
A report issued by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) confirmed Sunday that the Coptic residents had been told to leave their homes after a reconciliation session sponsored by local police, Muslim clerics and a Coptic priest was held Feb. 1.
The unrest stems from a Jan. 27 incident when homes and shops owned by Copts were looted and attacked by hundreds of Muslims angry over the alleged romance. One Coptic home was set ablaze. In its report, the EIPR condemned the “collective punishment” of Christians in the village of Ameriya based on an “individual act of social dishonor” by one Copt.
The report criticized police for not only failing to protect Copts from assault by Muslims, but also for overseeing and supporting an agreement that forced the deportation of Copts from their homes. “The EIPR harshly condemns the failure of police and army forces to protect Christian residents’ homes and property,” the report said.
Clashes between Copts, who make up about 10% of the population, and majority Muslims have intensified in recent years over alleged romantic affairs or the conversion of Copts to Islam or vice-versa. Such cases have sharpened sectarian tensions, especially since last year’s overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and the rise of Islamist political parties. Extremists Muslims set fire to churches in a poor Cairo neighborhood in May, and 24 Coptic protesters were killed by thugs and security forces during a demonstration calling for Christian rights in October.
The Mubarak regime had long been criticized by human rights advocates for skirting national laws and constitutional rights by sponsoring customary and local settlements of religious-related disputes.
“The EIPR utterly rejects the perpetuation of Mubarak-era policies that force victims of sectarian attacks — particularly those who have no stake in the original dispute — to accept the outcomes of illegal reconciliation processes and thus compel them to abandon their rights and accept the assaults on them,” the report added.
A number of political parties and movements have also expressed exasperation over authorities’ handling of the conflict. A joint statement issued by movements including the Popular Socialist Coalition Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination Movement, condemned the eviction of Coptic families.
January 10, 2012
Court: Oklahoma can’t enforce Sharia law ban
By Robert Boczkiewicz | Reuters – Tue, Jan 10, 2012
DENVER (Reuters) – A federal appeals court upheld an injunction against a voter-approved ban on Islamic law in Oklahoma on Tuesday, saying it likely violated the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against religion.
A three-member panel of the Denver-based U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the rights of plaintiff Muneer Awad, a Muslim man living in Oklahoma City, likely would be violated if the ban on Sharia law takes effect.
The decision upholds the ruling of a lower federal court.
“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out … the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” the appeals court said in a 37-page written decision.
The Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the ruling, calling it “a victory for the Constitution and for the right of all Americans to freely practice their faith.”
Oklahoma’s “Save Our State Amendment,” which was approved by 70 percent of state voters in 2010, bars Oklahoma state courts from considering or using Sharia law.
The lawsuit challenging the measure was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Awad, who is director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR.
A federal judge in Oklahoma City issued a court order in November 2010 barring the measure from taking effect while the case is under review, finding a substantial likelihood that Awad would prevail on the merits.
The Council said the Oklahoma amendment is among 20 similar proposed laws introduced in state legislatures nationwide.
Defenders of the amendment say they want to prevent foreign laws in general, and Islamic Sharia law in particular, from overriding state or U.S. laws.
But foes of the Oklahoma measure, also called State Question 755, have argued that it stigmatizes Islam and its adherents and violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition against the government favoring one religion over another.
State Senator Anthony Sykes, one of the measure’s sponsors, called the decision an attempt “to silence the voice of 70 percent of Oklahoma voters. At some point we have to decide whether this is a country of, by and for the judges, or of, by and for the people.”
Opponents also say it could nullify wills or legal contracts between Muslims because they incorporate by reference specific elements of Islamic prophetic traditions.
(Editing by Mary Slosson and Paul Thomasch)
January 2, 2012
Court orders Google and Facebook to remove all anti Islamic content
Social websites including Google and Facebook have been ordered by an Indian court to remove all ‘anti-religious’ and ‘anti-social’ content within six weeks.
On Saturday a Delhi Court ordered 22 social networking sites, including Yahoo and Microsoft, to wipe the objectionable and defamatory contents and file compliance reports by February 6, 2012.
Additional Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar passed the order on a suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi seeking to restrain the websites from circulating objectionable and defamatory contents.
Qasmi had objected to a number of images on the websites which he complained would cause ‘irreparable loss and injury to the people who are offended by them’.
He argued that some of the images defamed Hindu gods, Prophet Mohammed and other religious figures, India Today website reported.
The order will raise serious questions about how users’ posts and opinions will be edited, censorship and freedom of expression.
On December 22 Judge Kumar had issued summonses to the social networking sites, demanding they remove photographs, videos or texts that might offend religious sentiments, the Hindustan Times website reported.
The order comes a day after a criminal court issued summonses to the sites for facing trial for allegedly webcasting objectionable contents.
Santosh Pandey, appearing for complainant Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, told The Hindu Times after the court hearing that the websites have to submit a report to the court by February 6 describing the action they had taken to remove the contents from the websites.
Representatives of Yahoo India Pvt Ltd and Microsoft told the court that they had not got copies of the order and complaint against them, but Qasmi’s counsel told the court that he would supply the relevant documents to them, according to the Hindustan Times.
The order comes at a controversial time as IT minister Kapil Sibal had recently discussed with representatives of some of the companies ways to guarantee the offensive contents are not posted.
India Today quoted him as saying: ‘There were some demeaning, degrading, clearly pornographic depictions of gods and goddesses which no reasonable, sensible person anywhere in the world would accept, on any site.
The minister insisted he was not smothering free speech but was suggesting screening possible ‘incendiary’ material.
The Hindu Times reported Facebook India, Facebook, Google India Pvt Ltd, Google Orkut, Youtube, Blogspot, Microsoft India Pvt Ltd, Microsoft, Zombie Time, Exboii, Boardreader, IMC India, My Lot, Shyni Blog and Topix were all given the order.
A Google spokesperson told the website: ‘We comply with valid court orders wherever possible, consistent with our long standing policy.
‘We’re yet to receive the details of this order and can’t comment on this specific case.’