Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RLPB 144. EGYPT: the gross insecurity of the dhimmi

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 144 | Wed 01 Feb 2012

EGYPT: THE GROSS INSECURITY OF THE DHIMMI
By Elizabeth Kendal

In an Islamic State, a Jew or Christian may keep their religion as long as they live in total submission to the Islamic order. Known as 'dhimmis', these subjugated second-class citizens are without basic fundamental human rights. Any resistance, and their life and property are forfeit. In accordance with Islam, no Islamic State will ever prosecute Muslims for killing and/or looting Christians who demand their human rights. This impunity creates gross insecurity.

ESCALATING VIOLENCE, THEFT & EXTORTION

On 20 January a Muslim mob chanting Allahu Akbar went on a pogrom, attacking and torching properties belonging to Copts in the village of Rahmaniya-Kebly, Nag Hammadi, in Upper (southern) Egypt's volatile Qena Province. According to Mary Abdelmassih of the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), security forces were present but reportedly did not intervene and the fire brigade turned up 90 minutes late. Miraculously, nobody was killed or injured. It is understood the pogrom started with a Muslim suggesting that a Coptic-owned hut be torched to make way for a mosque. This was no joke nor idle threat, with the trend towards escalating incidents of Muslim appropriation of Coptic properties for the benefit of the Muslim community.

AINA also reports that some 4000 mostly Coptic residents from the village of Bahgourah, a suburb of Nag Hammadi, are presently staging a sit-in at the Nag Hammadi police headquarters to protest the lack of security arising from police laxity. This was triggered by the 26 January attempted kidnap and ultimate brutal slaying of Coptic building contractor Moawad Asaad Samaan and his son Asaad (26) by a Muslim criminal gang angered by Moawad's failure to pay protection money. According to Bishop Kyrollos, Bahgourah's Copts 'are continuously being subjected to terror and kidnapping'. (see also AhramOnline)

ESCALATING KIDNAP, RAPE & FORCED ISLAMISATION

Hundreds of Christian girls are forcibly Islamised every year in Egypt. As Coptic activist Mark Ebeid explains, the Salafi ultra-fundamentalist Muslims 'believe strongly that converting a Christian Infidel is in some ways like earning a ticket to paradise -- not to mention the earthly remuneration they get from the Saudis'. Generally, the Christian girls are kidnapped and pack raped over many days. During this time they are brainwashed to believe they could never return home because of the shame they would bring on their families. The girls are then married off to Islamists and accepted by the Muslim community. The Christian parents frantically searching for their abducted daughters are obstructed at every turn. Today, the Islamisation of Egypt is being facilitated post-Mubarak by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and a massive influx of thousands of Salafis returning from exile and being released from prison. Along with this there has been a marked escalation in forced Islamisation of Coptic girls. It appears that organised Islamisation rings are consolidating due to the overt protection they are receiving from police and prosecutors.

In early December 2011 Coptic teenager Amira Gamal Saber (16) disappeared from Saft-el-Khamar village, Minya Province. The head of security in Minya confirmed her kidnapping but failed to act. On 15 January a man named Mohammad Ahmed Ibrahim phoned the family demanding a ransom. After Amira's mother was permitted to speak with her daughter on the phone, the family travelled to Giza with the ransom money. Once there they were directed to the police station where they were informed that government prosecutors were handling the case. In the court, a bearded prosecutor Boulaq El Dakrour, backed by 12 more bearded lawyers [Salafis do not shave], told Amira's parents that their daughter wanted to convert to Islam. He ruled therefore, that Amira be sent to a state-run care facility in Giza until she turns18 and may legally profess Islam for herself. Amira was subsequently sent to a home affiliated to the Sharia association in Giza. Her father is appealing to the Attorney General.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* the Holy Spirit will draw Egypt's wounded, anxious Christians ever closer to him. May they learn to look to and depend on the LORD; may he answer their cries and may the devil have no victory over them.

* God will reveal himself in Egypt as the One who judges, rules, compensates, loves and saves. (Isaiah 40:10,11 )

* the LORD will not only preserve but build his Church in Egypt (Matthew 16:18), ahead of the day when he will say, 'Blessed be Egypt my people.' (Isaiah 19:25b ESV)


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
GROSS INSECURITY INCREASES FOR CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT

Islamisation is advancing across Egypt post-Mubarak, facilitated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi ultra-fundamentalist Muslims. As the Islamic order is established, Christians are reduced to second-class citizens without fundamental human rights, their lives dependent on their total submission to the Islamic order. Any resistance and their lives and properties are forfeit in accordance with Islam. Murder, theft and extortion are becoming commonplace, as is the abduction, rape and forced Islamisation of young Coptic girls. These crimes are being committed with impunity, in accordance with Sharia. Thus Christians are finding their security is deteriorating dramatically and rapidly. The case of Coptic teenager Amira Gamal Saber (16), abducted and forcibly converted in early December 2011, is being appealed to the Attorney General. Please pray for Egypt and its Christians.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

RLPB 143. Jan. Update; Inc. Nigeria, Kashmir, Iran, Laos, Somalia, Sudan.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 143 | Wed 25 Jan 2012

By Elizabeth Kendal

JANUARY 2012 UPDATE -- During January we prayed concerning . . .

NIGERIA (RLPB 140 & 141), where al Qaeda-affiliate Boko Haram is escalating its terror campaign across Northern Nigeria.

UPDATE: A string of coordinated bombings (including suicide bombings) targeting police rocked Nigeria's second largest city, Kano, after Friday prayers on 20 January. The death toll at present is 185, but is continuing to rise. In claiming responsibility, Boko Haram reiterated that it was not fighting the Nigerian people per se, only those responsible for arresting Boko Haram members. In a highly offensive statement peppered with dangerous, inflammatory disinformation, Boko Haram declared: 'Our fight is against the government that is waging war against Islam, the security services and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) -- an organisation that has been killing Muslims and even perpetrated cannibalism by eating their flesh.'

On Sunday 22 January, 10 people were killed in a pre-dawn gun battle between police and Boko Harram militants in the town of Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi State. Then, at about 5 am, three bombs exploded at two churches in Bauchi City. Whilst the Evangelical Church for Win All (ECWA) suffered only minimal damage at its perimeter, Our Lady of St Lauretto Catholic Church was completely destroyed. There were no casualties. In Kano, police conducting 'bomb recovery' searches found ten bomb-laden cars and 'over 300 unexploded devices'. The violence is causing many Northern Christians to flee their communities. In Minna, the capital of Niger State, a Christian missionary home that cares for orphans and children from impoverished families was torched on 23 January. According to its owner, Pastor Isaac Ogwu, Mission Field Coordinator of Missionary Alliance for Africa, it was the fifth time 'Bethany Home' had been targeted in recent days. Whilst residents had managed to contain previous fires, this time the entire property was engulfed and all its buildings razed. Fortunately the children were all evacuated unharmed. Such an attack is likely to have been perpetrated by local Muslims sympathetic to Boko Haram and eager to exploit the chaos.

NORTH KOREA (RLPB 141), where repression is likely to escalate as the regime of Kim Jong-un consolidates.

KASHMIR (India -- RLPB 142), where on 11 January two Christians were convicted in Kashmir's Sharia Court of hurting Muslim sentiment and threatening communal harmony by engaging in 'unethical' conversions.

UPDATE: On 19 January Srinagar's self-appointed Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat issued a decree mandating the expulsion of Punjabi Protestant pastor MC Khanna along with his wife, Kanta, and associate, Gayoor Masih, as well as Dutch Catholic missionary Father Jaap (Jim) Borst. It was claimed they were involved in 'unethical' conversions. A case against a fifth Christian, Parvez Sameul Koul, principal of Tyndale Biscoe School, is under investigation. Faced with a steady trickle of conversions to Christianity, Kashmir's Islamists have committed themselves to eliminating fitna (anything that could shake the faith of a Muslim), particularly the fitna that arises from Biblical Christianity. [For more details see Religious Liberty Monitoring: Eliminating Fitna in Indian-administered Kashmir.]


JANUARY 2012 ROUND-UP -- also . . .

IRAN: REPRESSION ESCALATES

At a recent conference on 'New-Age Cults' in Varamin, a county south of Tehran, Iranian cleric Akhond Mohsen Alizadeh epitomised the regime's mindset when he described 'evangelical Christianity' as 'the most horrifying intelligence and security organisation in the world'! Also in January, the regime issued regulations giving Internet cafes 15 days to install cameras and start collecting detailed information on all users. The regime is preparing to launch its domestic (internal) intranet. Designed to shield Iranians from all 'un-Islamic' influences, this 'halal' (permissible) intranet will eventually replace the (worldwide) internet. Earlier this month, imprisoned Protestant pastor, Yusuf Nadarkhani, was given the opportunity to secure his release from prison. All he had to do was to renounce Christ indirectly by affirming that Mohammed was a prophet of God. The faithful, long-suffering pastor refused. Consequently he remains incarcerated on death row, separated from his wife and sons. If the regime cannot break him but believes it cannot risk his execution, then it may well opt for an 'accidental' death. Pray for Yusuf, his family and the Church in Iran.


LAOS: DETENTION, TORTURE AND CHURCHES CONFISCATED

On 16 December 2011 Lao police arrested seven Christian leaders after authorities in Boukham village, Savannakhet Province, complained that the beliefs of the Christians 'violated the village's hiit' (traditional customs and spirit beliefs). The Christians were incarcerated in wooden stocks, tortured and told they would only be released if they 'confessed' to their crimes and paid massive fines. When they were unconditionally released in mid-January, each Christian was suffering from the effects of torture, including severe swelling, bruising and infections in their legs caused by the stocks. Lao authorities are reportedly planning to expel at least 47 Christians men, women and children from Natoo village, Savannakhet Province. Until then, the Christians of Natoo continue to worship the Lord in their homes. Meanwhile, Lao authorities have confiscated the Nadaeng Church building and the Dongpaiwan Church building. Many other churches are believed to be at risk. Laos, home to some 200,000 Christians comprising over 3 percent of the population, is one of the world's worst persecutors. The ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party (Communist) has long been open about its intention to eliminate Christianity. Pray for the Church in Laos.


SOMALIA: CONVERT FLOGGED PUBLICLY

On 22 December 2011 al Shabaab Islamic jihadists publicly flogged Sofia Osman (28) for embracing a 'foreign religion'. Sofia, a believer for four years and member of the underground church, was paraded before a jeering crowd before being lashed 40 times in front of several hundred abusive spectators. According to an eye witness, the lashing left Sofia lacerated and bleeding. 'I saw her faint', the eye witness said. 'I thought she had died.' After the flogging, Sofia's parents took her away. Sofia had been in al Shabaab custody for over a month. She is so traumatised that nobody has been able to learn what she suffered during her captivity. She has been relocated for her own safety. Please pray for Sofia and her family. Pray for the besieged, imperilled Church in Somalia.


SUDAN: REGIME THREATENS PASTORS

Addressing cheering crowds on 3 January 2012, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir reiterated his pledge to advance the Islamisation of Sudan in the wake of the secession of the South. That same day, Sudan's Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments sent letters to leaders of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), threatening to 'take legal procedures against pastors who are involved in preaching or evangelistic activities'. The letter also warned that all pastors must comply with new regulations requiring them to provide their names and contact information to the authorities.

On 17 January police arrested evangelist James Kat of the Evangelical Church of Sudan, alleging he was using the place of worship as his place of residence. After being beaten and intimidated, Kat was released on bail the same day. On 15 January a band of armed militiamen (rebel southerns backed by Khartoum) broke into a Catholic compound in Rabak, just south of Khartoum, accusing the parish of harbouring a former member of the oppositional Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Along with computer equipment and other valuables, the militants took two priests, Father Joseph Makwey and Father Sylvester Mogga. According to Bishop Daniel Adwok, an auxiliary of the Khartoum archdiocese, militants are operating right across Sudan with complete impunity, intimidating 'Southerners' and pressuring them to leave.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

142. India: Tensions soaring as Christians charged in Kashmir

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 142 | Wed 18 Jan 2012

INDIA: TENSIONS SOARING AS CHRISTIANS CHARGED IN KASHMIR

By Elizabeth Kendal

TRUTH: India-administrated Kashmir has a population of 12.5 million (2011 census). Christianity is growing across Kashmir. In 1990 there were some 12,000 Christians; by 2000 that number had risen to around 20,000; Operation World 2010 Edition reports 'more than double that'. TRUTH: Islam is totalitarian and apostasy (leaving Islam) is forbidden because the freedom of the apostate is fitna -- something that could shake the faith of other Muslims. Freedom is something the apostaphobic dictators of Islam dare not risk.

On 19 November 2011 the pastor of All Saints Church in Srinagar, Rev Chander Mani Khanna, was arrested on charges of creating 'enmity' between religious communities and hurting religious sentiments. (The Christian community in Srinagar is only about 400.) Remanded in judicial custody for 15 days, Pastor Khanna was released on bail on 1 December. He has since fled the Kashmir Valley. On 10 December the Islamic Court laid charges against Father 'Jim' Borst (80), a Dutch Catholic missionary who has been working in Kashmir for almost 50 years, primarily in education. At a hearing on Wednesday 11 January 2012 the Supreme Sharia Court, led by the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Bashid-ud-din Ahmad, claimed it had 'proved beyond doubt' that Pastor Khanna and Fr Borst had been involved in religious conversions using 'baits and inducements'. Sentencing is due any day now.

Grand Mufti Bashid-ud-din Ahmad is the one who initially accused Khanna. After obtaining video footage showing seven youths being baptised in Pastor Khanna's church, the Grand Mufti accused Khanna of 'luring' Muslims to Christianity with the offer of money. (See here for baptism footage.) Though arrested and beaten by Indian police, the seven youths continue to insist they were never offered any material incentive. Despite this, some local newspapers have quoted anonymous police sources saying the converts were given money. Islamic outrage is being stoked with lies and disinformation. Protests have erupted in Kashmir over the issue. Bishop PK Samantaroy, head of the Amritsar Diocese, fears the issue has put at risk the lives of all local Christians across Kashmir.

Even though Kashmir's self-appointed Sharia Court has no jurisdiction, Pastor Khanna consented to appear before it on 17 Nov 2011, hoping his explanation would help pacify the situation. Standing alone, surrounded by dozens of hostile and abusive Muslims, it was an intimidating experience. Pastor Khanna told the court that the seven youths were baptised of their own initiative with absolutely no inducements. Bishop Samantaroy confirmed to the Evangelical Fellowship of India that he had seen this particular group of young men attending All Saints Church for over a year. 'These converts had approached the pastor for baptism by their own freewill,' he said. 'In such cases, the Church cannot deny baptism.'

Awaiting word of his sentence, Pastor Khanna fears for his life. He said he was shocked the government tolerates such activities. Yet the TRUTH of the matter is this: when it comes to persecution of Christians in India, impunity is the order of the day. This impunity -- for which the Federal government must ultimately be held accountable -- is the reason violence and injustice against Christians is soaring to unprecedented levels, making a mockery of India's claim to religious freedom.

The Deputy Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Nasir-ul-Islam, claims the activities of the men 'have hurt the sentiments of [the] entire Muslim community'. But have they? In TRUTH, the activities of these men -- running schools, caring for the poor and sharing the Gospel -- have simply opened the door to the alternative that threatens the totalitarian hegemony of India's religious dictators, Muslim or Hindu. In TRUTH, this is all about freedom. Muslims should be appalled that they are being lied to and manipulated just so that religious dictators can keep them in bondage.

UPDATE: On 19 January 2012, Srinagar's self-appointed Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat -- a court with absolutely no legal jurisdiction -- issued a decree mandating the expulsion of Punjabi Protestant pastor Reverend M C Khanna of All Saints Church Srinagar, along with his wife, Kanta, and his associate Gayoor Masih; as well as Dutch Catholic missionary Father Jaap (Jim) Borst. The four were directed to leave the Kashmir Valley forthwith for their involvement in "unethical" conversions. A case against a fifth Christian, Parvez Sameul Koul, principal of Tyndale Biscoe School, is under investigation. (For full report see Eliminating fitna in Indian-administered Kashmir, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 22 Jan 2012.)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* surround, protect and deliver Kashmir's Christians from any Islamic reactionary violence and provide all their needs; may Kashmir's light be preserved to shine ever brighter for the glory of God as Christ builds his Church (Matthew 5:14-16).

* use this case to open the eyes of Kashmiri Muslims to TRUTH:
- may they see they are being lied to by their leaders (religious and civic);
- may they see that the purpose of these lies is to perpetuate their bondage;
- may they see that their freedom is the real issue;
- may they see that freedom is found only through truth and in Christ. (John 8:31-37)

'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' (Matthew 5:44 ESV)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
TENSIONS SOARING AS CHRISTIANS CHARGED IN KASHMIR

The Supreme Sharia Court in India-administrated Kashmir is self-appointed and lacks official jurisdiction. Nevertheless on 11 January 2012 it claimed to have 'proved [guilt] beyond doubt' and is poised to sentence Anglican pastor Rev Chander Mani Khanna and Dutch Catholic missionary Fr 'Jim' Borst for gaining converts using 'baits and inducements'. Video footage had emerged from All Saints Church, Srinagar, showing Pastor Khanna baptising seven young men who had attended the church for over a year. Kashmir's Grand Mufti then accused Khanna of hurting Muslim sentiments by 'luring' Muslims into Christianity through the offer of money. These converts, though beaten by Indian police, still insist no inducements were ever offered. As tensions soar the diocesan bishop fears the case is putting at risk the lives of all local Christians across Kashmir.

Baptism footage (singing: 'I have decided to follow Jesus' - lyrics).

News report: J&K: Row over forced conversions in Valley

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

141. Remembering North Korea (plus Nigeria update)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 141 | Wed 11 Jan 2012

REMEMBERING NORTH KOREA (Also urgent NIGERIA Update)
By Elizabeth Kendal

North Korea is an example of how quickly and totally circumstances can change. On 8 January 1907, 960 men registered for a week-long men's winter Bible Study conference in the First Church of Pyongyang. The evening sessions, which were open to the public, attracted up to 2000 each night. A worship service was held on the Sunday, 14 January 1907. After the preaching the session was opened up for prayer. Missionary Graham Lee had already asked a few men to be prepared to lead, but before they could do anything the entire congregation erupted in spontaneous prayer. Missionary Samuel Moffett noted that though the sound was like 'the falling of many waters' it was not chaotic, but absolutely harmonious. Even after the meeting ended and everyone was dismissed, multitudes remained on the site confessing their sins to one another in tears and deep repentance. The Great Korean Revival had begun and it swept Korea in much the same way that the Great Awakening had swept America and revivals had swept Wales. The event -- also known as the Korean Pentecost -- caused Pyongyang to be known as 'The Jerusalem of the East'. (See report by C. Hope Flinchbaugh)

In 1910 Korea was invaded, occupied and annexed by Japan. The intensive religious persecution suffered at the hand of the Japanese contributed to the forging of a strong Christian Korean nationalism. Whilst World War 2 saw the Japanese expelled, the north of the Korean Peninsula came under Soviet communist control. Hundreds of thousands of Christians fled to the US-controlled south to escape communist repression. After the Korean War (1950-53) ended with a ceasefire and the division of the nation into North and South along the 38th parallel, some 200 Christian congregations with some 300,000 believers subsequently disappeared from the North.

In line with its policy of Songun (Military First), North Korea's mismanaged and scarce resources are directed first to anyone with links to the military. While the system benefits the military, guaranteeing their loyalty, virtually everyone living outside of Pyongyang struggles to survive with virtually no food or electricity or anaesthetics and so on.

Today North Korea is regarded as the worst persecutor in the world. There is an 'underground church', but it is gravely imperilled. Possession of a Bible is treated as treason because only the Kim family may be worshipped. Witnessing Christians are publicly executed while their whole family, to three generations, is purged from society in Auschwitz-type concentration labour camps where starvation and unparalleled cruelty are the norm and life is short. Many tens of thousands of Christians are believed to be suffering in North Korea's 'Hidden Gulag'. (see case of Ri Hyon Ok)

North Korea is so tightly closed to the outside world that very little leaks in and even less leaks out. Radios and TVs are all pre-tuned for North Korean propaganda and brainwashing and the borders are tightly monitored. Even Western intelligence only learnt about the death of the 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-il the same way local North Koreans did: via a North Korean news broadcast, two days later. Some analysts are warning we should expect a period of increased repression, complete with purges, as the regime of the 'Great Successor' Kim Jong-un consolidates.

In the absence of news, it is good to have some special dates in our diaries to help us remember North Korea and focus our prayers. For example: 8 January was the birthday of Kim Jong-un (the 'Great Successor'); 14 January, the anniversary of the Korean Pentecost; 27 July, the anniversary of the ceasefire (known as 'Victory Day' in North Korea) and 9 September, Independence Day. (See here for other significant dates.)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* God, who alone is Sovereign, will use Kim Jong-un for his own divine purpose. 'Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.' (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

* the Holy Spirit will again visit North Korea with revival power:
- may the Spirit reach deep into the halls of power to set free those enslaved to and blinded by sin;
- may the Spirit reach broadly across the land so that multitudes amongst the destitute, starving, incarcerated, infirm, grief stricken and hopeless might find a Saviour who not only forgives sins and saves souls, but who answers prayers and for whom nothing is impossible. 'But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."' (Matthew 19:26 ESV)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
REMEMBERING NORTH KOREA

On 14 January 1907 the Holy Spirit visited Pyongyang with revival power in an event that culminated in repentance and conversions on an unprecedented scale. As the birthplace of the Great Korean Revival, Pyongyang became known as 'The Jerusalem of the East'. Today the situation in North Korea is the exact opposite. The regime's policy of Songun (Military First) ensures that all military families are well provided for, securing their loyalty, while the situation beyond Pyongyang is appalling. Citizens must worship the Kim family. Possession of a Bible is treason. Many tens of thousands of Christians are incarcerated in North Korea's 'Hidden Gulag'. Please pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in North Korea. Pray for deliverance from evil.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Also URGENT NIGERIA UPDATE

On Monday 2 January Boko Haram issued an ultimatum giving Southerners and Christians three days to leave the North or face further violence (see RLPB 140). They are fulfilling their threat. On 4 January bombs exploded in Maiduguri (Borno) and Damaturu (Yobe) killing 20. On 5 January Boko Haram shot dead three ethnic Igbo southerners in the north-eastern state of Adamawa. The next day they attacked the families as they met to make funeral arrangements, killing a further 12 and wounding more than 30. Also on Friday 6 January Boko Haram gunmen burst into Christ Apostolic Church in Adamawa and killed 12 young Christians attending a youth leadership training program. Deeper Life Bible Church in Gombe city, Gombe State, was also attacked: nine were killed. Christian Igbo traders holding a prayer meeting in the town hall before the start of trade were attacked: 20 were killed. On Saturday 7 January two Christian students were gunned down at the University of Maiduguri in Borno. The killings continue.

Retaliation and Polarisation. On Saturday 7 January some 2000 southerners armed with axes and knives went on a rampage in Sapele in south-eastern Delta State, sacking the Hausa (ethnic Muslim) Quarter wounding more than 50. An Igbo revolutionary and counter-terrorism group known as Ogbunigwe Ndigbo has reportedly issued the Muslims an ultimatum giving them two weeks to leave the south. Northerners (mostly ethnic Muslims) are fleeing the south-east. On Monday 9 January a mosque was torched in the southern city of Benin, capital of Edo State. The next day another mosque and an Islamic school were torched in Benin in an attack that left five dead and six wounded. Arrests have been made. The violence is beginning to spiral.

Furthermore President Jonathan has admitted there are Boko Haram sympathisers in the executive and legislative arms of government, as well as in the police, the military and other security agencies. He says he now regards the situation as more dangerous and more challenging than during the Biafra civil war (1967-70). Please pray for Nigeria.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

140. Nigeria: Boko Haram threatens Christians

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 140 | Wed 04 Jan 2012

NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM THREATENS CHRISTIANS
- the battle for Nigeria.

By Elizabeth Kendal

Boko Haram -- also known as the 'Nigerian Taliban' -- was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's most north-eastern state, Borno. The group demands the complete Islamisation of all Nigeria. After their leader, Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, died in police custody on 31 July 2009, Boko Haram declared jihad on the state. In June 2010 Boko Haram formalised its ties with al-Qaeda which has long sought strategic depth in sub-Saharan Africa and a foothold in Nigeria. Since then, Boko Haram has been sending militants to Somalia for military training under al-Shabaab and escalating, intensifying and expanding its terror campaign.

Vowing to render Nigeria 'ungovernable', Boko Haram targets anything that does not support its fundamentalist Islamist ends and jihadist means: universities, police, secular courts, Christian churches and even liberal mosques. On 16 June 2011 Boko Haram perpetrated Nigeria's first ever suicide bombing, killing eight and wounding dozens at Police Headquarters in the federal capital, Abuja. In August they followed that up with a suicide bombing at the UN headquarters in Abuja, killing 25. Throughout 2011, citizens have been fleeing Borno in large numbers to escape the gun battles, assassinations and terrorism that have become a near-constant phenomenon there. Despite all this, the Nigerian government has been reluctant to treat the threat seriously. While the federal government has been equivocating, Boko Haram's projection of strength has been winning it popular support from radicalised Muslims amongst the masses and in the military. (Background:The Boko Haram Threat)

On Christmas Day 2011 Boko Haram bombed two churches: one on the outskirts of the federal capital Abuja and one in the volatile Middle-belt city of Jos. The car bomb that exploded in the car park of St Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, just 29km from Abuja, was massive. At least 42 were killed, most incinerated by the massive fireball that consumed 17 vehicles. Dozens were seriously wounded. About the same time, a suicide bomber attacked the Yobe State Command Headquarters of the Department of State Security Services (SSS) in Damaturu, killing three. Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, was subsequently slammed for his lame response quoted in Vanguard 25 Dec 2011: 'The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with,' he said. 'It will not last forever.' (Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had the same lame response to the unconstitutional implementation of Sharia law across the north.) On Friday 30 December four Muslims died in Maiduguri when a bomb planted by Boko Haram exploded outside their mosque after Friday prayers. By the next day, President Jonathan had closed Nigeria's borders with Chad and Niger Republic and declared a state of emergency in 15 hard-hit local government areas of Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger states, sending tanks and soldiers to patrol the streets.

Boko Haram has responded to the state of emergency by upping the ante. On Monday 2 January 2012 Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa issued a statement that southern Christians living in the north -- particularly those in the north-eastern states of Borno and Yobe -- had three days to leave or face further violence. Boko Haram says it is prepared to confront the Nigerian military, which it claims is only interested in killing innocent Muslims. Many believe Boko Haram is keen to trigger a religious civil war that would attract international jihadists who themselves have a strategic interest in Nigeria.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* churches and individual Christians across Nigeria will respond with radical faith: not as the world does, by putting faith in weapons, money or might, but by crying with one voice to the LORD who gives strength and wisdom and deliverance (Psalm 34). 'Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death' (Psalm 68:20 ESV). 'It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes' (Psalm 118:9 ESV).

* God will intervene in Nigeria to end the terror, expose the falsehood of Islam and deliver his people from evil. May the wicked who plot evil against the Church be snared in the work of their own hands (Psalm 9:15,16) and repent and turn to the LORD; may God be glorified (Galatians 1:23,24).

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM THREATENS CHRISTIANS

Since formally linking with al-Qaeda in June 2010, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has intensified and expanded its jihad against the state, vowing to render Nigeria 'ungovernable'. Christians have been hit hard. On Christmas Day 2011 a massive car bomb exploded outside St Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, just 29km from the federal capital Abuja. At least 42 were killed, most incinerated by the massive fireball that consumed 17 vehicles. A state of emergency has been declared with tanks and troops now patrolling 15 of the most hard-hit local government areas. Boko Haram responded by giving southerners and Christians three days to leave the north or face more violence. The battle for Nigeria has begun -- please pray for Christians, the Church and the nation.