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Convert from Islam to Christianity slaughtered by Muslims

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Tunisia

Video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being slaughtered by Muslims has been shown on Egyptian TV in an alarming depiction of the threat posed to religious freedom after the Arab Spring.

Proclaim Freedom
Barnabas Aid's latest campaign in defence of religious freedom

The graphic incident, which is reported to have taken place in Tunisia, was aired on a programme called Egypt Today. The footage shows a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. One man chants a number of Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity. The man holding the knife to the Christian convert's throat begins to cut amid cries of "Allahu Akbar" ("god is great"). It takes him two minutes to sever the head.

The Egypt Today presenter was visibly distressed by the scenes. Then, referring to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, who together hold the majority of seats in the country's parliament, he asked, "How are such people supposed to govern?"

The footage of this brutal beheading is the latest alarming indication of the violent threat to religious freedom in the post-Arab Spring order. That movement, which was initially heralded as a victory for democracy and freedom, has been hijacked by Islamists for whom those values are meaningless.

Islamists, who were restrained under the deposed Arab dictators, now dominate the political arena, and their influence is spreading through Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Kuwait and Syria.

Religious freedom in the region is under severe threat, and Christians, especially converts from Islam, are extremely vulnerable.

Last month, a leading figure in Egypt's Salafi movement, Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami, said:

Is it the right of the Muslim to convert to Christianity or another religion? Of course this is not a right; this is a matter that Sharia has clearly addressed, according to the agreed upon hadiths. It is impermissible, for any reason, for a Muslim to leave the community. Of course, you cannot coerce any infidel to enter into Islam [Quran 2:256] – except for the apostate. It is impossible to let the apostate remain in [a state of] apostasy, deeming it a form of "freedom."

The "agreed upon hadiths" to which Burhami refers include the following command regarding apostasy: "Whoever leaves his religion, kill him."

The Kuwaiti parliament passed a bill on 3 May that would make insulting key Islamic figures and the Quran punishable by death. But it required the approval of Kuwait's ruler, Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, before becoming law, and he rejected the bill on Wednesday (6 June).

Barnabas campaigns

Barnabas Aid has been campaigning for many years for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law, which specifies the death sentence for an adult male Muslim who chooses to leave Islam.

Our latest campaign, Proclaim Freedom, aims to press governments to be active in promoting human rights – especially religious freedom – for all minorities in other countries. Sign our petition here.

This is not merely a professional matter for Barnabas Aid's International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo; it is extremely personal. As a convert from Islam to Christianity himself, he is, according to Islamic law, deserving of the death penalty for his decision to follow Christ.

Dr Sookhdeo said:

To be beheaded for your faith in this day and age is utterly abhorrent. I will not rest from campaigning against this barbaric law, and call upon people of every faith and none to play whatever part they can to defend religious freedom, including the freedom to choose your faith, which is one of the cornerstones of a civilised society.

For more information about Dr Sookhdeo, visit his website: http://patricksookhdeo.com/

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Aid partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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