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Iraq

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Barnabas provides medical care to
Christians in Iraq

Following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, there was a huge surge in anti-Christian threats, kidnappings and murders, and the violence has continued ever since. Many of the attacks have been centred on church buildings and church leaders, a clear message to the Christians that they are being persecuted because of their faith. Numerous Christians have received messages telling them to convert to Islam, leave or be killed.

In July 2013, the body of a Christian man who had been kidnapped six weeks earlier was found inside his truck. Salem Dawood Coca’s vehicle was booby-trapped with explosives; it is thought his captors tried to force him to carry out a suicide bombing but he had refused. The kidnappers had contacted Salem’s family, calling him a “Christian infidel”.

Also in 2013, a church in Baghdad was fired at by masked men who seriously wounded two security guards; Christian-owned businesses in the area had been the target of bombings the previous day.

As well as violent attacks, Christians also suffer significant discrimination, marginalisation and injustice.

Hundreds of thousands of believers have fled their homes, reducing the Christian population to a quarter of the size it was in 1990. Many took refuge in Syria or Lebanon, while others are internally displaced in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which once provided relative peace and stability. But Iraqi Christian refugees are no longer safe in Syria, as anti-Christian violence threatens all Christians in the country, while Iraqi Kurdistan is now also seeing escalating tensions; Christians also struggle to find work to support themselves there. Iraq’s Christians have few safe havens left.

Some Muslims have expressed support for Christians. In October 2013, on the third anniversary of a deadly anti-Christian attack, Muslims held a vigil at the targeted church and urged their beleaguered Christian compatriots not to flee Iraq.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Leaders imprisoned for up to 60 days and members for up to 45 days; fines, corrective labour or community service: these are the penalties for taking part in religious gatherings in Kazakhstan held without state permission, according to a new criminal code. Those who finance unregistered religious activity will be liable to the same punishments as leaders. In addition, a new Code of Administrative Offences lays down a wide range of penalties for exercising the right to religious freedom. Both codes have been condemned by 119 Kazakh and international human rights groups and individuals. They further tighten controls on religious practice in a context where it is already much restricted. Pray for wisdom and courage for Christians in Kazakhstan as they seek to maintain their worship and witness. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks that 55 Christians, almost all church leaders and converts from Islam, received Bible training at a three-day seminar in Kyrgyzstan that was supported by Barnabas Fund. The participants have virtually no access to Biblical training, and so the studies were a great boost to their faith and ministry. Meeting fellow church leaders, who are all dealing with similar issues, such as isolation and persecution from Muslim relatives and local Muslim communities, was also very encouraging to them and gave them the opportunity to build up a Christian support network. Pray that the Lord will continue to speak to them through the Bible passages they studied at the seminar, and that He will bless their ministries. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

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    • Pray for the members of two churches in Yogyakarta that were attacked in separate incidents in June. On Sunday 1 June, members of Islamist groups and local residents threw stones at one church building, shattering the windows. Then on 29 June, three groups of masked intruders burst into another building in Pugaram, dressed in black and shouting “Allah is great”. They vandalised property and posters on display. This incident coincided with the start of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Pray for protection for Christians in the area and that the intimidation and violence against them will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

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