Dec 12 2018

Ingo Breuer

Islamic Extremists Strike Yet Another Church in Upper Egypt

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Christians Forced to Pray in the Streets Following Church Attack

12/11/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Sunday, December 9, a group of Islamic extremists attacked a church in the Upper Egypt village of Kom Al-Raheb. Security forces arrived before the attack ended and closed the church, which had recently opened a new building.

A local Christian carpenter, Sobhi, told ICC, “It’s a hard time. We don’t know what we should do. How does the government permit us to open new churches and then force us to close churches? We barely open churches, and the police don’t want to keep us safe!”

“They are easily building many mosques, and when we try build a church, all of them try to harm us,” another local Christian, Madonna, told ICC. “It’s unfair, the situation has become so ridiculous!”

Peter added, “Why [are] you so shocked!! Every day we witness incidents like that [which] happen close to us. It’s the normal life, especially in Shosha and Kom Al- Ahmar; there are many extremists there.”  

Approximately 2,500 Coptic Christians attend the church in Kom Al-Raheb. With the church now closed pending the outcome of a reconciliation session, these Christians no longer have access to a local church. Some Christians gathered on December 10 outside of the church to pray in the streets for its speedy reopening.

“We are so depressed,” said a local pastor. “It’s not the first time extremists [have done] this; I think it’s government policy toward the Christians. We have nothing to do, just pray… God is good.”

The Egyptian Parliament passed a law in 2016 which reformed the church legalization process. The new law included a provision which dictated that for a church to be officially recognized, it cannot be considered a security risk. Islamic hardliners use the vagueness of this provision to create incidents which lead to the indefinite closure of churches that would otherwise receive official recognition. Egypt’s constitution adds another element of uncertainty for the country’s Christians.

“In Egypt’s constitution, it is said that Egypt is a Muslim country and the country’s religion is Islam,” explained Karim, a Bible college student, to ICC. “With this item in the constitution, it gives the idea to radical Muslims that having a church is not part of the Islamic country and that Christians are not a part of the Islamic community.”

According to Isaac Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the incident is “the result of the state’s adoption of clear discriminatory policies and there is no desire to change. What happened is a single pattern… A prayer begins and then demonstration starts.”

He continued, “[Then], security services come into the church or the building of services and they prevent prayer, assembly, and then cut off facilities, there is no arrest of any of the instigators… The church building law is a trap and will not give the right to pray.”

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Unfortunately, church closures are a common occurrence in Egypt. Although the 2016 law purports to streamline the process, the vagueness of certain provisions within the law allows for the continued closure of churches in order to appease hardline extremists. If Egypt is truly sincere about providing religious freedom, this problem must be addressed. We must also keep Egypt’s Christians in our prayers as we approach the Christmas season, as it is common for the public practice of their faith to become even more risky during this time.” 

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Dec 10 2018

Ingo Breuer

More Than 100 Sichuan House Church Members Arrested

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Leaders, Members of Autumn Rain Covenant Church Unaccounted For

12/10/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that more than 100 members and leaders of Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province have been arrested. The arrests took place on December 9 after local authorities raided the homes of many church members.

According to a statement from the church, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, the police raided and surrounded the church, arresting a church staff member. Around 9:00 p.m., members’ WeChat accounts and cellphone group discussions were blocked, while the church’s telephone line was also shut down. In the meantime, the police ambushed dozens of homes, arresting numerous church members and leaders, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife. Some were forced to sign a document stating that they will no longer attend the house church.

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Dec 10 2018

Ingo Breuer

Egyptian Christian Receives Three-Year Prison Sentence for Insulting Islam

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Village Atmosphere Remains Tense Following July Mob Attack Against Christians Over Facebook Post

12/10/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 27, Coptic Christian Abd Adel Bebawy was sentenced by an Egyptian court to three years in prison for “insulting Islam in the first degree.” His lawyer was granted access to the verdict on December 6 and has opened an appeal which is expected to be heard at the end of December.

Bebawy was originally arrested in Minbal, a village located in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate on July 6, 2018. He had posted on Facebook an image of God, the angel Gabriel, and a verse from the Quran. The day after he was arrested and charged by the police, a mob gathered in Minbal and attacked several Christian homes. It is common for Islamic extremists in Egypt to collectively punish the Christian community for the perceived wrongs of one individual.

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Dec 10 2018

Ingo Breuer

Iraq’s One-Year Military Defeat of ISIS Marred by Security Concerns

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Displaced Christians Worried About Continued ISIS Presence and Ideology in Nineveh Plains

12/09/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – Today, International Christian Concern marks the one-year anniversary of the declared military defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq.

On December 9, 2017, Iraq’s former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that all of the country’s territory previously held by ISIS was fully liberated. ISIS reached the height of its power in Iraq when, in June 2014, the militants’ declared an Islamic Caliphate. The declaration was made from Mosul, the administrative capital of the Nineveh Governorate. This region is the traditional homeland of Iraq’s Christians; over 200,000 were displaced by ISIS.

On the anniversary of Iraq’s liberation from ISIS, one Iraqi Christian shared with ICC, “I was happy that day. I felt like Iraq brought back the missing part… I hope we can have peace here.”

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