EGYPT – Palm Sunday suicide bombings leave 46 dead and scores wounded
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two deadly suicide bombings at churches in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday (9 April), which left at least 46 people dead and as many as 110 injured. In Tanta, around 60 miles north of Cairo, the bomber ran up the aisle of the church and blew himself up near the altar, killing at least 30; in Alexandria, the bomber detonated himself outside the church as the congregation were leaving, after police had earlier prevented him from entering.
The attack comes less than four months after a suicide bombing at a church in Cairo, which claimed the lives of 28 believers. Following Sunday’s attacks, President Al-Sisi opened army hospitals to treat the injured free of charge and declared three days of national mourning.
Barnabas Aid is appealing for help to support the bereaved, to provide practical assistance, particularly for families who have lost their breadwinner. Click here for details of how you can help.
From Ahram online here
INDIA – Christians targeted in five separate incidents on Palm Sunday; pastors arrested and assaulted
Christians were targeted in five separate incidents in five different states across India on Palm Sunday. Police arrested three pastors and their wives during a church service in Madhya Pradesh, after Hindu extremists alleged they had forced people to convert to Christianity; at the time of writing the three pastors are still in prison awaiting bail. In Haryana and Rajasthan, Hindu extremists disrupted church services and persuaded police to arrest church members and leaders under the same pretext, although in both cases those arrested were later released. Local officials in Tamil Nadu invaded a private prayer meeting in a pastor’s home, falsely claiming that the believers required permission from the local authorities before meeting, and in Uttar Pradesh, a church pastor was beaten by a mob.
From Evangelical Fellowship of India
INDONESIA – Leader of country’s largest Islamic organisation slams blasphemy trial of Christian governor as “all manipulation”
The leader of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation has condemned the trial of Jakarta’s Christian governor, “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, on charges of alleged blasphemy. Yahya Cholil Staguf, secretary general of the supreme council of Nahdlatal Ulama, stated “It’s all manipulation. To my belief there is no blasphemy done by Ahok at all,” adding, “the case that he is charged with, it has all been a manipulative thing going on for the purpose of the election”.
Ahok is currently on trial for blasphemy after Islamists alleged he denigrated the Quran by countering their claims that the Quran forbids Muslims to be governed by non-Muslims; prosecution witnesses have since admitted threatening mob violence to make police press charges. The final round of voting in Jakarta’s governor elections takes place on 19 April. Ahok, who is running for re-election, secured the largest percentage of the vote in the first round in February.
From ABC News here
AUSTRALIA – Muslim youths attack Christian on Sydney train
A 30-year-old Christian man was attacked by five Muslim youths on a train in south-west Sydney last Tuesday (4 April). “Mike”, who wears a cross given to him by his mother when he was a teenager, said “They ripped the cross off me, threw it to the ground, they said **** Jesus.” The youths referred to Allah and then began to assault him. “It’s not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on what I believe in and every Christian out there.”
A local pastor told journalists that the incident was the fourth attack on Christians by Muslims in the city in the last six months: “This country is nominally Christian, you shouldn’t have to hide … your faith.” New South Wales police have stated that they are investigating an “alleged religiously-motivated” attack on a Sydney train.
From Daily Mail Australia here
INDIA – Church open-air gathering invaded by Hindu mob then shut down by police
A three-day church gathering in Chhattisgarh state was invaded by around 40 Hindu extremists during the first evening meeting on 3 April. The Hindus then called the police, claiming that the Christians were engaging in “conversion activity”, and the police ordered the suspension of the event. Despite the organisers having obtained prior permission from local authorities for the gathering, police refused to allow it to continue; “This was a great loss of resources, time, efforts and finances,” Ramdin Tandan, one of the organisers, told Global Christian News.
In February, police ordered a church pastor in Chhattisgarh to cease holding services after one Sunday meeting was similarly disrupted by a Hindu mob; an independent survey into the persecution of Christians in the state concluded last year that police routinely side with Hindu extremists against Christians.
From Global Christian News here