Wednesday, October 22, 2014

RLPB 283. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Islamic rebels slaughter villagers

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 283 | Wed 22 Oct 2014

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Supporting International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2014: Sunday 2 or 9 November
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR) 
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC): ISLAMIC REBELS SLAUGHTER VILLAGERS
By Elizabeth Kendal

Bordering South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda, the heavily forested, mineral-rich, north-east region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been wracked with insecurity. Numerous armed groups including the Lord's Resistance Army, the M23 militia, the Mai Mai, and most recently the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have inflicted immense suffering on the predominantly Christian communities that dot the region. For the Congolese Army, it is a perpetual war zone.

On Thursday evening 16 October ADF fighters armed with machetes and other blades attacked the Ngadi and Kadowu neighbourhoods on the northern outskirts of Beni City in North Kivu Province, which borders Uganda. Twenty-six local residents were killed and dozens wounded in a rampage of appalling violence. Earlier, on 10 October ADF rebels attacked nearby Oicha, killing nine people including small children. On Friday evening 17 October ADF fighters attacked the town of Eringeti, about 55km north-east of Beni City. Using machetes, axes and hoes, they slaughtered four men, ten women and eight children, bringing the toll from ten days of extreme violence to at least 80 dead, with hundreds wounded and more than 50 women raped.  On Saturday night 18 October unidentified bandits compounded the insecurity when they raided a jail in Butembo, south of Beni, releasing some 370 prisoners. Local people have begun organising their own defence militias, fearing that the Congolese Army is incapable of keeping them secure. By Sunday 19 October the exodus had begun with people fleeing the area.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a Ugandan militia that formed in 1989 aiming to  overthrow the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni and replace it with Islamic rule. It is the product of a merger between the Islamic fundamentalist proselytising Tabliq sect and remnant fighters from the (Islamic) National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU). Reportedly the ADF also includes several former commanders from Idi Amin's army. The ADF's founder and leader, designated terrorist Jamil Mukulu (68), was a Catholic and outspoken critic of Islam until Muslim scholars won him over and he converted to Islam. Mukulu spent the early 1990s in Khartoum, Sudan, where he became close to Osama bin Laden and several leading Sudanese Islamists in the ruling regime. The ADF became operational in 1995, committing several terrorist attacks before the Ugandan Army drove it out of the country and into the DRC in 2002.

Mukulu laid low for the next decade, focusing on recruitment, indoctrination, illegal gold mining and timber smuggling. The ADF receives support from the Islamic regime in Khartoum which sponsors proxies to destabilise the predominantly Christian states neighbouring and allied to South Sudan, i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, DRC and Central African Republic. Since 2002 the ADF is said to have killed around 3000 Congolese and kidnapped over 900, including some 600 Congolese women and girls. Women who have escaped report being kept in a hole in the ground and only taken out to be used for sex. Sources report that in the Oicha region, north of Beni, many priests and doctors have been kidnapped with those refusing to convert to Islam beheaded.

The ADF resurfaced as a fighting force in 2012 and reportedly has developed ties with the Somali terror group al-Shabaab. Ex-ADF fighters report that Mukulu has been sending trained jihadists to Somalia since November 2011. Mukulu was implicated in the September 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, amidst claims that he is seeking to establish himself as an al-Qaeda leader in east Africa. Since January 2014 the ADF has been under severe pressure as the Congolese Army has gained ground, capturing some of its main bases. It seems the ADF is retaliating by escalating its terrorism against civilians. DRC is 92 percent Christian and Uganda is 85 percent Christian. This is a spiritual battle, and 'we are not ignorant of [Satan's] designs'. (2 Cor 2:10-11 ESV)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* thwart Sudan's plans to destabilise the region, thwart the ADF's plans to terrorise and Islamise Christian peoples and thwart Jamil Mukulu's terrorist ambitions.  'The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.' (Psalm 33:10 ESV)

* draw the people of terror-stricken North Kivu province into prayer, may their prayers be answered and may the Church in north-east DRC grow in faith.

* impress his grief on all the churches across DRC and Uganda, so those in the troubled border region are not left to face this trial alone; may believers unite in prayer, calling on the LORD for peace and security in DRC and the wider region. 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD ...' (Psalm 33:12a ESV)


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE 
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ISLAMIC REBELS SLAUGHTER VILLAGERS IN CONGO

In 2002 the Ugandan military drove Ugandan Islamic rebels out of the country and into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which, like Uganda, is predominantly Christian.  Since then the (Islamic) Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has killed and kidnapped many hundreds of Congolese civilians with support from the Islamic regime in Khartoum, Sudan. Recently the ADF has forged links with the Somali terror group al-Shabaab and has escalated terrorism in its stronghold in DRC's North-Kivu Province bordering Uganda. Recently the Congolese Army has been making gains against the ADF, capturing several bases. The ADF is retaliating -- at least 80 civilians have been killed, hundreds wounded and some 50 women raped by ADF fighters in the Beni region in the past two weeks. Please pray for the Church in DRC.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RLPB 282. Malaysia & Indonesia. In Malaysia 'defending Islam' guarantees impunity. Plus: Update on the battle for Indonesia.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 282 | Wed 15 Oct 2014

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Supporting International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2014: Sunday 2 or 9 Nov.  See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR) 
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MALAYSIA: 'DEFENDING ISLAM' GUARANTEES IMPUNITY
Also: The battle for Indonesia (Update)

By Elizabeth Kendal

Little inflames Malaysia's Muslim fundamentalists more than the fact that Malaysian Christians use the word 'Allah', even though it is just the Malay word for God, adopted from Arabic centuries ago. The issue has gained traction in recent decades as Malaysian Muslims have radicalised, as Malaysia has gradually Islamised and, most critically, as Muslim politicians in this democracy have exploited the issue for political gain.
A seven-year legal battle over the use of the word 'Allah' culminated in June 2014 when Malaysia's highest court dismissed an attempt by Christians to have the October 2013 ban overturned. Therefore it is now official: Christians are banned from using the word 'Allah'; it belongs to Islam. As Sudanese-born British writer Nesrine Malik remarks, 'The ban is less about religion than about putting minorities in their place, subordinating their status to that of Muslims.' Indeed, it is little more than an act of religious bullying. The other issue that inflames Malaysia's Muslims is the usual Muslim grievance about Muslims leaving Islam for Christianity. The language issue plays into this, as it is used as grounds to ban Malay-language Bibles.

Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali
Tensions rose in January 2013 after it was revealed that Malaysian Christians had been distributing Bibles outside a secondary school in Penang. At the time, the word 'Allah' was not restricted, so the Bibles were legal, as was the evangelism. Despite this, the president of the Malay Supremacist organisation Perkasa, Ibrahim Ali, commented on the matter at a press conference, saying: 'Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them. This is the way to show our anger against disrespect to our sensitivity.'  A police investigation was launched to see if Ibrahim Ali had breached the Sedition Act or the Penal Code, in particular Section 298 which criminalises uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings, or Section 505 which criminalises uttering statements that could cause public mischief.

On 8 October 2014 the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for law, Nancy Shukri, confirmed that the police and the Attorney General's office had concluded that Ibrahim Ali would not be charged with anything because -- and this is where it gets dangerously convoluted -- 'he only meant to defend the sanctity of Islam'. The Christian Federation of Malaysia was quick to point out the problem with this ruling, warning that in viewing threats to burn the Bible as acts in defence of Islam, the government was giving 'free rein to other extremists to do likewise, not just to Christians but to any other religious community that is not Muslim'. By no logic, it said, could 'a call to violent action, [such as] desecration of a sacred text, be considered defensive'. The ruling establishes a dangerous precedent: defending the 'sanctity of Islam' guarantees impunity.

UPDATING The Battle for Indonesia (Updating RLPBs 268 & 271 of July 2014)

On Monday 20 October Joko Widodo (known as 'Jokowi') will be inaugurated as President of Indonesia. The election of this 'new breed' outsider has caused the 'old guard' political elite to go quite apoplectic. The 'old guard', who rose to power during the Suharto dictatorship, is not used to seeing its monopoly on power challenged. With the inauguration looming, the attacks on Jokowi and on Indonesian democracy have begun in earnest. Exploiting their majority in parliament, the 'old guard', led by Prabowo Subianto (who lost to Jokowi in the presidential election), has already passed a law returning Indonesia to indirect elections for mayors and governors. This way the political elite, not the citizens, will elect Indonesia's mayors and governors. Direct elections were introduced only in 2005, and Jokowi is the first 'new breed' politician to gain office via that process.  Now the 'old guard' has said, 'Enough!' Indonesians are outraged by this attack on their democracy. The opposition has called for the inauguration to be delayed as they launch a corruption inquiry against Jokowi. The 'old guard' will do everything it can to restrain and ultimately remove Jokowi, and to ensure that no 'new breed' politician challenges its monopoly on power again.

Meanwhile, several hundred members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) marched on Jakarta's City Hall on 24 September. They were protesting against the incoming 'infidel' and 'devil' mayor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as 'Ahok'), the ethnic Chinese Christian directly elected as deputy mayor of Jakarta under Jokowi. While that protest was generally peaceful, but the FPI returned on 3 October and rioted, leaving 16 police officers wounded. The FPI insists that Sharia Law does not permit a Christian to rule over Muslims [e.g. Qur'an, Sura 4:141 'God will not let the unbelievers triumph over the faithful']. Ahok said he was not surprised by the FPI protest and vowed not to be intimidated by their intolerance. 'They are only a small group who have yet to accept me,' he said. 'Everyone else has.'


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* roll back Malaysia's rising tide of Islamisation; may he raise up voices to say 'No!' to injustice and intolerance, while opening eyes, ears, hearts and minds to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which there is hope not only for individuals, but for nations.

'He [the Lord Jesus Christ] will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.' (Isaiah 42:4 ESV)

* bless the Church in Malaysia with divine wisdom as she navigates the language issue that essentially renders all Malay-language Bibles illegal; may Jehovah-jireh (the Lord our provider) provide the Malaysian Church with all her needs.

* bless, protect and preserve Jokowi (president of Indonesia) and Ahok (governor of Jakarta);
  * may Jokowi survive politically as president to press through reforms -- to ease suffering in Papua and to rein in Islamic intolerance across the archipelago; may God use Jokowi for his purposes.
  * may Ahok (a Christian) survive; may no violent hand be permitted to touch him and may God use Ahok for his purpose and for his glory.

'[The Lord] is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.' (Psalm 144:2 ESV)


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE 
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TROUBLES STIR IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Two rulings in Malaysia have serious implications for the Church. In June 2014 the Supreme Court dismissed the Christians' appeal against the ban on Christians using the word 'Allah' (the Malaysian word for God). This ruling effectively makes all Malay language Bibles illegal. On 8 October the government confirmed that the head of a Malay-supremacists organisation who called for Malay language Bibles to be burned would not be charged because he was only defending the 'sanctity of Islam'. This ruling establishes a dangerous precedent of impunity. Please pray for the Church in Malaysia. In Indonesia, Jokowi (new reformist president of Indonesia) and Ahok (new Christian governor of Jakarta) are facing intensive opposition from the Suharto-era political establishment and from Islamists. Please pray for Indonesia and its Church.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).