Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 14 April 2011
Anti-Christian attacks threaten worse to come
Recent incidents of brutal anti-Christian violence and persecution suggest that vulnerable believers are facing a menacing upsurge in such attacks across the world.
For example, in Afghanistan the Muslim Taliban have beheaded an Afghan Christian, Abdul Latif, in Herat Province. A video of the murder sent to Barnabas Fund shows one of the killers saying:
All praise be to our creator almighty god that he helped and blessed the holy warriors ... so that we can implement the commandment of god on this infidel ... so that he is punished according to his wrong deed, he is punished according to the commandment of god so that it is a warning to other infidels.
They shout "Allahu Akbar" ("god is great") over and over again during the beheading, and they bring an execution notice to hang on the wall.
The life of Christians is cheap in areas of the country controlled by the Taliban. But Christian converts are also in danger from the Afghan government as it tries to prove its commitment to Islam. Last year many were arrested, and some remain in prison facing possible execution for apostasy.
In Nigeria, in the latest of several recent incidents, a group of attackers stormed three mainly Christian farming villages in the Bogoro area of Bauchi State, in the predominantly Muslim North of the country. At least two people were killed and a number of houses were set on fire.
The episode was reminiscent of an eruption of anti-Christian violence in Bauchi two years ago, when nine Christians died at the hands of Muslim militants and churches and homes were destroyed. Then as now, the authorities failed to ensure the safety of Christians in the state.
In Egypt, a Christian mother-of-two, Heba Adel, disappeared on 6 April after walking her young son to school in the El Maadi suburb of Cairo. When her mother called her at 9 am, she said she was returning home. She never arrived, and when the family called again her phone was switched off.
Heba's husband, Fadi, believed that his wife has been kidnapped, and her disappearance was reported to the police immediately, but they were reluctant to investigate. Many Christian women and girls in Egypt are abducted, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. But as in this case, the security forces are often slow to respond, and the attackers are rarely brought to justice. Relations between Muslims and Christians have worsened rapidly since the fall of former President Mubarak.
In China, at least 160 Christians were arrested when they attempted to hold a worship service in the open air. Most of the believers from Shouwang Church, Beijing, which had already lost its indoor meeting-place owing to government pressure, were later released, but the pastor and his wife remain in custody.
These latest incidents, which are only a few examples of many, also occur against a background of growing international instability that further threatens the security of Christian minorities. As Islamist groups manoeuvre for position in Egypt, civil war rages in Libya, and unrest breaks out in many other parts of the Muslim world, Christians are often left without protection against attacks by the hostile majority. In Egypt some Christians have even been killed by the army that should have been defending them.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
At this time of turmoil in many parts of the world, our brothers and sisters are even more vulnerable to hatred and violence. Often the authorities cannot and will not protect them, and sometimes they even join in the anti-Christian attacks. Please strengthen our hand to support the victims with practical help.
If you would like to help brothers and sisters affected by anti-Christian attacks please send your donation to project 00-345 (Victims of Violence). Please click to donate online using our secure server.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference 00-345 (Victims of Violence).
If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference 00-345 (Victims of Violence).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/345 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).
- For the victims of recent anti-Christian violence and their families, that the Lord will comfort them in their distress and bind up their wounds.
- For governments to take seriously their responsibilities to their Christian citizens and afford them proper protection and equal rights.
- For the protection of vulnerable Christian minorities in hostile contexts, and that the current political changes will eventually result in greater security and freedom for them.