Nigeria, September 28, 2012: On Thursday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Pastor Laolu Akande, Executive Director of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN), blasted the terrorist group Boko Haram for the bombing of a Catholic church in northern Nigeria. The terrorist group — an al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist organization — killed a woman and a child and injured 48 other churchgoers.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the latest atrocity waged by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria. The bombing at Saint John’s Catholic Church in Bauchi is the latest in ongoing, coordinated attacks by Boko Haram on Catholic and other Christian churches in Nigeria, including the 2011 Christmas Day and 2012 Easter Day bombings,” said Rep. King.
“The Muslim world exploded over a ridiculous YouTube video and the Obama administration couldn’t apologize enough, but Christians being murdered, tortured and having their churches burned to the
ground by Muslims appears to be ignored by Obama and his sycophants,” said counterterrorism expert and former police commander George Wilkinson.
Since January 2011, these terrorist attacks have killed over 1,500 Nigerian Christians, according to the Nigerian government.
“Boko Haram is closely tied to al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates in North and East Africa, and presents a potential threat to our Homeland and citizens. With a renewed sense of urgency, we once again call upon the U.S. Department of State to formally designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” said King.
Twice this year, Rep. King and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, have requested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Last year, under the leadership of Subcommittee Chairman Meehan, the Committee released a bipartisan report entitled, “Boko Haram – Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland” and convened a related hearing.
Pastor Akande and other Nigerian-American Christians established CANAN on Sept. 11, 2012, to address the Boko Haram terrorist killings in Nigeria and other broader issues related to Nigerian-Americans.
Boko Haram is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt and apostate Muslims. It is waging a war against them in order to set up a separate caliphate.
- examiner, usa
A suicide bomber struck a church in Bauchi, Nigeria, on Sunday (23 September), killing himself and at least four people.
The attack on the church in the Bayan Gari area of Bauchi Town happened at around 9am as worshippers were leaving after the first service of the day. The bomber detonated his explosives at the church gate after failing to gain access to the site.
A boy aged around seven was among the fatalities. The death toll could rise, as many of the 48 people who were wounded suffered life-threatening injuries.
The incident followed another attack on Christians in the town the previous Sunday (16 September). Gunmen opened fire at a place where people gather to socialise in the evening; nine were killed.
LAOS: FIVE CHRISTIAN LEADERS FROM SAME DISTRICT ARRESTED
Five Christian leaders were arrested as part of a crackdown on the Church in one Lao district.
On 11 September, three pastors, Bounlert of Alowmai church, Adang of Kengsainoy church and Onkaew of Kapang church, along with two other Christian leaders whose names have not been made public, were detained by police in Phin district, Savannakhet province.
The latter two were released on 13 September, but the other three have been held in harsh conditions, their hands and feet chained. Adang and Onkaew are seriously ill.
While the church pastors were locked up, police officers went to their congregations and questioned their wives and other leaders; they were asked about church finances, their own Christian faith and that of others, as well as details about the pastors’ work.
IRAQ: YOUNG CHRISTIANS HOLD PRAYER VIGIL AFTER CHURCH BOMBING
Over 150 young Christians held a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Saturday (22 September), following an explosion in front of a church there. Inspired by the International Day of Peace on Friday, they were also joined by older believers.
A bomb hidden in a bag had exploded at the door of the cathedral in Kirkuk on Sunday 16 September at 8.45pm. The building was damaged but nobody was hurt.
- barnabas team
USA, May 21, 2012: Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on lawsuits filed today against the Obama administration. At issue is the constitutionality of the Health and Human Services edict seeking to force Catholic non-profits to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptive services and sterilization in their insurance plans:
This is a great day for those who believe in religious liberty. Suing the Obama administration for seeking to trash the First Amendment rights of Catholics are 43 Catholic dioceses and institutions from all over the nation.
Among those filing suit are: the Archdiocese of New York; the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.; the Archdiocese of St. Louis; the Diocese of Rockville Centre; the Diocese of Dallas; the Diocese of Fort Worth; the Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend; the Michigan Catholic Conference (which represents all seven dioceses in the state); Catholic University of America; Franciscan University of Steubenville; and the University of Notre Dame. Entities ranging from retirement homes to publishing houses joined the lawsuits.
There will be more. And depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules next month on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, this may just be the beginning.
Catholics are sending an unmistakable sign to President Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, et al. that we will not be obedient. We will not do as we are told. Instead, we will do what is just. The Catholic rebellion has begun.
Indonesia: Historic Christian prayer gathering underway
It’s a historic prayer gathering in many ways, not the least of which is Indonesia’s decision to host the event. The huge Southeast Asian island nation is home to the world’s largest Muslim population.
“That’s what we are well-known for, but there’s something else taking place in our country,” one Indonesian woman said.
Her words echo a deep desire among Indonesia’s minority Christians to make the name of Jesus Christ famous.
“We are a small percentage of the population, but we are compelled to tell others about Christ,” the woman said.
Winds of Revival
A massive prayer movement is underway, connecting some 500 Indonesian cities with more than 5 million believers.
This week, an hour’s drive south of Jakarta, the capital city, Indonesian churches invited more than 9,000 Christians to take part in the World Prayer Assembly 2012.
“We feel that the epicenter of the world revival is going to be Asia and especially Indonesia,” World Prayer Assembly’s John Robb told CBN News.
Such a large Christian event has never been held in this majority Muslim country.
“We see the WPA as kind of a stepping stone toward the fulfillment of Habakkuk 2:14: ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,’” Robb said.
For five days, representatives of more than 60 countries will network and strategize on how to bring Christ’s salvation and healing to the nations.
“A new wave is coming so we wanted to catch it, the spirit of prayer, so that we can bring revival to our nation,” Pricilla Abbathurai of India said.
Chechen Dagir Khasavov, the founder of an organisation that defends the rights of Muslims, said in an interview broadcast on 24 April by the independent channel Ren-TV:
Muslims do not want to get involved in the multi-layered court system, it is alien to them. You think that we come here to Russia like to some alien place. But we think that we are at home. Maybe you are alien, and we are at home. And we will set the rules, the rules that suit us, whether you want it or not. Any attempts to change it will end in blood, it will be the second Dead Sea. We will flood the city with blood.
The statement provoked a backlash in Russia, and Khasavov fled the country after receiving death threats. The Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation after experts from The Russian Institute of Culture found that the speech was aimed at exciting hatred and animosity based on religion, and could be considered a call for extremist activity.
Khasavov’s call for sharia courts in Russia was rejected outright by Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the country’s Presidential Human Rights Council.
He said on 25 April:
The creation of parallel justice systems is impossible in a modern law-governed state. It undermines the foundation of the justice system.
Attempts to force sharia courts on people are only possible in theocratic states.
Mr Fedotov said that the only way sharia courts could be created in Russia was to give them a role in arbitration hearings.
In 2008, the British government acknowledged that it had for some time accepted the role of sharia tribunals in arbitration, in certain limited fields. Opponents fear a slippery slope effect; that the acceptance of certain aspects of Islamic civil law could eventually lead to the introduction of full-blown sharia.
Khasavov has subsequently claimed that his words were distorted and said that he was referring only to inter-family cases, not criminal law. His son believes Khasavov was provoked, possibly by Chechen authorities.
- barnabas team
Turkish Catholic Church calls for a return of 200 properties. Better to ask for legal recognition *Sudan: Muslim mob burns Catholic church in capital
Turkey, April 23, 2012: The bishops’ request is based on a 1913 list, signed by the Ottoman Empire and France, once the protector of Catholics. The request, difficult to resolve, has stirred controversy and embarrassment among other Christian communities. Archbishop Lucibello, Nuncio in Turkey. It is urgent that Ankara recognize the Catholic Church, after 60 years of diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
The Turkish Catholic Church is trying to regain possession of 200 properties confiscated by the government in Ankara in the 1930s. But several elements of the community think the church should focus its efforts on the legal recognition of the community.
A few days ago, some Catholic bishops, including Msgr. Ruggero Franceschini, president of the Episcopal Conference, met with the Commission for Reconciliation of the Turkish parliament. The Commission has been working to study the return of properties confiscated by the government of Ataturk to non-Muslim communities (see: 29/08/2011 Historic decision: Erdogan returns seized property to religious minorities). But Catholics are not in the list of “non-Muslim communities” because at the time they were recognized as a “foreign” community.
The Turkish Church has submitted a list of over 200 properties (churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals, cemeteries, …) based on a list drawn up in 1913 between the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and France, erstwhile protector of the Church Catholic.
The problem of return of these properties is very complex: first, these assets have passed from hand to hand and it is not certain that they can be returned. But the most important issue is the lack of legal status of the Catholic Church in the current Turkish law. To date, the Catholic Church in Turkey can not own property and these can only be made payable to Turkish private citizens (often secular or church-related nominee), with ambiguous consequences.
Several political parties and newspapers have taken on the requests of the bishops, judging them “greedy”. The request has embarrassed other Christian communities.
Some Church Turkish figures have stressed to AsiaNews that the real problem that needs to be addressed it is obtaining legal recognition by the State. Sources close to the episcopate state that this topic was not even addressed at the meeting with the Commission for Reconciliation,.
“On this recognition – said the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello – there are pour parler dating for decades. Even the pope, in meeting the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican [January 7, 2010], once again asked for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church. This recognition should have already been granted because a country like Turkey has relations with the Holy See for 60 years and really should give this recognition : it would be a logical consequence because the Church in Turkey is in a sense as a derivation of the Holy See. ” According to experts, the forthcoming Turkish constitutional reform could lead to openings for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church.
Muslim mob burns Catholic church in Sudan capital
The church in Khartoum’s Al-Jiraif district was built on a disputed plot of land, but the Saturday night incident appeared to be part of the fallout from ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan over control of an oil town on their ill-defined border.
Sudan and South Sudan have been drawing closer to a full-scale war in recent months over the unresolved issues of sharing oil revenues and the disputed border.
Last week, South Sudanese troops seized Heglig, which the southerners call Panthou, sending Sudanese troops fleeing. The Khartoum government later claimed to have regained control of the town.
The witnesses and several newspapers said a mob of several hundred shouting insults at southerners torched the church. Fire engines could not put out the fire, they said.
One newspaper, Al-Sahafah, said the church was part of a complex that included a school and dormitories. Ethiopian refugees living in the Sudanese capital also used the church.
The mostly Christian and animist South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, some six years after a peace deal ended more than two decades of war between the two sides. Tens of thousands of southerners remain in Sudan, a legacy of the civil war that drove hundreds of thousands to seek relative safety in the north of what was then a single Sudanese nation.
Vice President Ali Osman Taha rejected suggestions by South Sudan for the deployment of international forces in Heglig, saying in a television interview that the area was internationally recognized as Sudanese territory.
He also said that Khartoum would shortly announce the monetary value of what he said was the destruction caused by Southern Sudanese troops in Heglig and that his government would demand compensation.
Sudanese army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled said that government forces have repulsed an attack by Southern Sudanese forces in the area around the town of Talode in South Kordofan, the same region where Heglig is located. He said the southerners suffered unspecified casualties but did not say when the fighting took place.
In neighboring Blue Nile state, a Sudan military official said his forces have killed 50 rebels linked to the south.
Maj. Gen. Murtada Warraq said his forces will continue to “liberate” territories from rebels linked to the northern wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. His comments were carried by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA.
Clashes in Blue Nile state broke out in September, driving many of the area’s residents to seek refuge in the south.
Hungary, April 18, 2012: Legislative reforms in Hungary that restrict religious freedom have been deemed “excessive” and “discriminatory” by the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional affairs.
Following widespread opposition to the country’s new constitution and associated laws, the Venice Commission was asked to examine the code, which came into effect on 1 January, to assess whether it complied with Hungary’s obligations under international human rights law.
Barnabas Fund was among those to raise concerns about restrictions to certain rights and freedoms, particularly for religious groups. A new law on religion granted state recognition to 14 religious groups and decertified the rest, meaning that over 300, including a number of major Protestant denominations and many small Catholic orders, lost their official status.
In its assessment published on 19 March, the Venice Commission confirmed our fears, identifying a number of sections of the act that fail to comply with internationally-recognised minimum standards, including aspects of religious freedom, freedom of association, access to effective remedies, and non-discrimination amongst religious beliefs and denominations.
The Act sets a range of requirements that are excessive and based on arbitrary criteria with regard to the recognition of a church.
The Act has led to a deregistration process of hundreds of previously lawfully recognised churches that can hardly be considered in line with international standards … The act induces, to some extent, an unequal and even discriminatory treatment of religious beliefs and communities, depending on whether they are recognised or not.
The Hungarian government has argued that one of the main justifications for the law is to prevent certain organisations that are masquerading as bone fide religious groups, while operating for illicit and harmful purposes or personal gain, from receiving public funding. The Venice Commission accepted that this was a “legitimate concern”.
In response to the Commission’s report, the Hungarian government has said that it intends to introduce amendments, but the details of these have not yet been made public.
Other concerns about the constitution, chiefly restrictions on media freedom and the independence of the judiciary and central bank, have also been criticised by the EU and Council of Europe. The European Commission started legal action, known as “infringement proceedings”, against Hungary on 17 January. It is now considering the country’s response.
- barnabas team
USA, April 12, 2012: In recent years, we’ve begun to brace ourselves for news of bombings, burnings, and other attacks on churches full of Christian worshipers on religious holy days — for example, in Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Ethiopia. This violence comes out of the growing community of Salafi Muslims, adherents of the radical brand of Islam that is Saudi Arabia’s official doctrine and which Saudi Arabia exports throughout the Sunni world. We’ve also come to expect the willful blindness of the Obama administration about the religious implications of these horrific events. Last weekend’s Easter Sunday was no exception.
On Easter morning, a Protestant church in Kaduna, Nigeria, was targeted by a suicide car bombing that killed 39 and wounded dozens, apparently the handiwork of Boko Haram, the Salafi network whose stated aim is to turn Africa’s largest country into a sharia state. Last Christmas, Boko Haram had bombed St. Theresa’s Catholic Church outside the capital Abuja killing 44 worshipers, as well as attacked various Christian churches in the towns of Jos, Kano, Gadaka, and Damaturu.
Four days have now passed and there has been no official comment from the Obama administration about this most recent monstrous example of anti-Christian persecution. However, on April 8, that is, Easter, Secretary Clinton did manage to issue one press release. It announced that “today we celebrate the history, impact and culture of Romani people” (formerly called “gypsies”), and inveighed against Europe, demanding that it become “more inclusive.” But for the northern Nigerian Christians savagely attacked on one of their most important religious days, there has not been a word of condolence.
Even worse, the day after the Nigeria church bombing, at a forum on U.S. policy toward Nigeria held at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson — overlooking Boko Haram’s self-proclaimed identity, pattern of behavior, statements and very name, which means “Western education is a sin” — publicly denied that Boko Haram has religious motives. He went out of his way to stress: “Religion is not driving extremist violence in . . . northern Nigeria.”
Carson is articulating official U.S. policy. Its theory is that Boko Haram is “exploiting religious differences” to “create chaos” to protest “poor government service delivery,” poverty, and a variety of good-governance concerns. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (on which I served as a commissioner until last month) finds that Boko Haram’s violence is indeed “religiously motivated.” Even Nigeria’s Committee of Imams of the Federal Capital Territory has acknowledged that the church bombings are done in the name of Islam and condemned them as “deviant.”
Elsewhere, too, the Obama administration has demonstrated a persistent refusal to acknowledge the pattern of Salafi persecution of Christians. On November 1, 2010, Salafis blew up Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church during a Sunday Mass, killing or wounding virtually all of the congregation, including three priests. This is what the White House said:
The United States strongly condemns this senseless act of hostage taking and violence by terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq that occurred Sunday in Baghdad killing so many innocent Iraqis. Our hearts go out to the people of Iraq who have suffered so much from these attacks. We offer sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and to all the people of Iraq who are targeted by these cowardly acts of terrorism.
There was no acknowledgement that the “innocent Iraqis” targeted in this catastrophic attack were all Christians, that the massacre took place in a church, and that it occurred during Sunday worship. It mistakenly describes as “senseless” what was all too sensibly a deliberate and horrific act of religious cleansing against Christians targeted for their faith. That church bombing — one of 70 in Iraq since 2004 — was the watershed moment for Iraqi Christians: Many then concluded that there would be no future for them in Iraq, and en masse abandoned their ancient homeland.
And in Egypt, in October 2011, when the Arab Spring had long since turned into the Coptic Christian Winter, Egyptian government forces massacred two-dozen Copts as they were staging a peaceful street protest in Cairo’s Maspero area. They were demonstrating precisely to demand religious freedom in the face of Salafi religious violence against Coptic churches and the failure of the Egyptian security forces to protect them from it. After the Maspero massacre, the White House stated: “Now is a time for restraint on all sides so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt.”
The statement made no mention of the identity of those who were killed. Nor did it acknowledge that they were attacked while demonstrating against church bombings and burnings in that country on Christmas, New Year’s Day, and many other occasions. And, it drew a moral equivalency between the victims and their aggressors. My Hudson colleague and Coptic expert Samuel Tadros ironically commented: “Perhaps I ought to join the president in his concern and call for restraint: I call upon the security forces to refrain from killing Christians, and upon Christians to refrain from dying.”
It is not as though the administration is reticent in cases involving other religions. On October 4, 2011, and on January 11, 2012, when two mosques were vandalized — though no one was hurt — in Israel, the State Department issued two statements. They were quite specific about the identity of the victims and impassioned in moralizing against the attacks:
The United States strongly condemns the dangerous and provocative attacks on a mosque in the northern Israeli town of Tuba-Zangariyye, which took place on October 3. Such hateful sectarian actions are never justified.
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s most recent vandalizing of a mosque, as well as the burning of three cars, in the West Bank village of Deir Istiya. Hateful, dangerous, and provocative actions such as these are never justified.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia –the fountain head of Salafi thought and our “strategically” — King Abdullah retains in his distinguished cabinet as Grand Mufti, Salafi Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Aal al-Sheikh, who recently issued a fatwa declaring it “necessary to destroy all the churches in the region,” including those outside of Saudi Arabia, itself (which, of course, does not have any churches to blow up). The Kingdom will not be hearing from the Obama administration about the need to be “inclusiveness” though — here, again, it has fallen silent.
- nina shea, hudson institute’s center for religious freedom
Nigeria, April 08, 2012: At least 50 people were killed when explosives concealed in two cars went off near a church during Easter Sunday services in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, eye-witnesses said.
Shehu Sani, the President of Civil Rights Congress based in Kaduna, said two explosions took place at the Assemblies of God’s Church near the centre of the city with a large Christian population and known as a major cultural and economic centre in Nigeria’s north.
“There were two explosions and the casualty figure may go up because some injuries were really critical,” he said on phone.
Another resident of the city, Miss Blessing Audu said that the explosion has caused panic among Christians celebrating Easter.
She said some parts of the church were damaged even as the vibration caused by the explosives were heard in several parts of the city.
An emergency worker on condition of anonymity explained that the bombs were planted in two cars near the church.
At least 50 people were killed amid fears that the casualties may rise from the blasts.
He said his agency has been able to recover 20 bodies from the site.
Police spokesman Aminu Lawal confirmed the incident but sought more time before making a formal statement.
Ahead of Easter celebrations, the US and the UK had warned of possible bomb attacks, advising its citizens against travelling to certain parts of the country.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the BBC reported that Boko Haram recently said it would carry out attacks in the area over the Easter holiday.
The radical group has carried out a series of attacks on churches and other locations on Christmas Day, including outside the church in capital Abuja, where 44 people died.
It is waging a bloody war against the government to seek the enforcement of strict Shariah law and the release of all its detained members.
The group has bombed churches and attacked mosques in the 150-million nation that has both Muslim and Christian population, with Muslims predominant in the north while Christians mostly living in the South.
Coordinated multiple bombings and gun attacks in the northern city of Kano by Boko Haram cadres killed 185 people, including an Indian from Gujarat on January 20. A suicide bomb attack by the group at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in July last year killed 26 persons.
Easter bomb attack near Nigeria church kills at least 20 *Southern Sudanese Christians fear forced repatriation
Nigeria, Apr 08, 2012: A car bomb blast outside a church in northern Nigeria on Easter Sunday killed at least 20 people and put the country on alert over fears of further attacks, rescue officials and residents said.
The explosion, a stark reminder of Christmas Day attacks that left dozens of people dead in Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, hit the city of Kaduna, a major cultural and economic centre in the north.
Motorcycle taxi drivers and passers-by caught much of the blast.
As news of the attack spread, security forces boosted patrols in key areas, including in the capital Abuja, where soldiers were sent to reinforce police posted near churches, an AFP correspondent reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
At least one car said to be driven by a suicide bomber was involved in the Kaduna attack, but a rescue official speaking on condition of anonymity said two vehicles packed with explosives detonated.
“Now we have 20 dead from the twin explosions,” the rescue official, who was not authorised to speak publicly, told AFP. Officials were still counting the number of wounded, he added.
“Bombs concealed in two cars went off just opposite this church,” he said.
A police officer at the scene said a man believed to be a suicide bomber driving a car was stopped at a checkpoint near the church and turned back, but drove to a nearby area close to a hotel and detonated the bomb.
A spokesman for the national emergency management agency said most of the victims appeared to be motorcyle taxi drivers.
Police said the explosion was a bomb, but did not comment further.
“We have a bomb explosion. We are trying to sort things out,” police spokesman Aminu Lawal told AFP.
Residents reported seeing dead and injured being taken away. An AFP correspondent said he saw 10 bodies, while one resident said he counted at least 10 wounded.
“From my balcony, I could see policemen loading the dead and the injured into waiting vans,” another resident said.
One resident said the explosion was strong enough to shake his house and cause his ceiling to cave in. He ran to the site, which had already been cordoned off, but he said he could see damage to the Assemblies of God Church as well as cars.
Islamist group Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks on churches and other locations on Christmas day, the bloodiest at a church outside Abuja, where 44 people died.
Authorities as well as foreign embassies had warned of the possibility of an attack on Easter Sunday.
Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody insurgency has left more than 1,000 people dead since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims of such attacks, though Christians have occasionally been targeted as well.
The group also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja which killed 25 people.
Its deadliest attack yet occurred in the northern city of Kano on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead.
An attempt to hold indirect talks between Boko Haram and the government last month appears to have collapsed, with a mediator quitting over leaks to the media and a spokesman for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.
Nigeria’s 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
Despite a number of high-profile arrests and heavy-handed military raids, Nigerian authorities have appeared unable to stop the attacks.
President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta region, said in his Easter message that “as people of faith, we must never succumb to hopelessness and despair.”
There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has links to outside extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda’s north African branch.
Diplomats say such links so far appear limited to training for some Boko Haram members in northern Mali with Al-Qaeda elements, without significant evidence of operational ties.
Analysts say deep poverty and frustration in Nigeria’s north has fed the violence, pushing young people toward extremism.
Southern Sudanese Christians fear forced repatriation
Sudan, April 06, 2012: Christians from South Sudan who have until Easter Sunday (April eight) to try to become citizens of Sudan or be deported fear authorities will use the occasion to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders said.
More than 500,000 citizens of southern ethnic origin who have been living in Sudan for decades – some of them born there – will be considered foreigners after Sunday. Human rights organizations have called on Khartoum to grant them more time to either leave or apply for citizenship.
Christian leaders expressed concern that local media such as the daily Al Intibaha newspaper have been stoking hatred against predominantly Christian southern Sudanese, describing them as “cancer cells in the body of Sudan, the land of the Arab and Islam,” and calling on the government to deport them.
“The local media are becoming very hostile toward us who are still in the north,” one Christian told Compass by phone on condition of anonymity.
Gov. Ahmad Abbass of Sennar state in central Sudan vowed to deport southern Sudanese from his state “without regret,” according to Alsahafa, an Arabic daily. Banners have appeared in Khartoum streets calling on the government and Muslims in general to harass and expel southern Sudanese, some of whom are also Muslims.
“Why are they still here? The government should expel them from the country,” one banner asserts.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in a referendum last July 9. The government of Sudan has begun issuing national numbers to designate citizens of Sudan, denying the designation to Sudanese of southern origin. Without a national number, southern Sudanese have no citizenship rights to work or education.
Churches in Sudan have already suffered losses in numbers as many members prepare for forced repatriation, Christian leaders said.
“We are monitoring the situation and praying to God to protect us,” said a church leader who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pledged to base the new Sudan more deeply on sharia (Islamic law), ethnic southerners are faced with a difficult choice, Elizabeth Kendal writes in the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.
“The message essentially is this: Submit to sharia or get out,” she writes. “Churches may well be targeted immediately and aggressively, starting 9 April. All across the Sudan, churches have been emptying as ethnic southerners – including those born and raised in the north – flee south. This could eventually become a pretext for closing them.”
At the same time, police have been mistreating some of the more than 113,000 southern Sudanese who are living in open spaces in Khartoum after having fled conflict in South Sudan. Officers have removed their make-shift housing, including temporary latrines, according to Jovana Luka, deputy chairperson of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in South Sudan, who recently returned from Khartoum.
Southern Sudanese may not be welcome in South Sudan, either, as increased competition for scarce resources leads to greater tribal conflict, and their fate depends on the mercy of both the Sudan and South Sudan governments, the Rev. Karlo Aika of Khartoum’s St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church told 98.6 FM radio station on Sunday (April 1).
He said he was concerned about security for southern Sudanese whether they stay or return to South Sudan.
“We fear too because we do not know why these things are happening,” he said.
Since South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, there has been debate over what nation each person should call home. Some reports suggested that an agreement had been reached allowing citizens in either country to live, work, and own property on either side of the new international border.
But that was a month ago. Now, the Khartoum government has made the decision to remove all people of South Sudanese origin currently living in the north.
“This affects not just people who have lived in South Sudan in the past, but those who have parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents from the south,” explains Matt Parker with Kids Alive International.
Although many included in the eviction notice have never even been to South Sudan, droves have fled already. Most southerners are Christians and are fearful of what might happen to them if they stay.
“Church leaders fear persecution if they stay in the north. It’s a very difficult, very unpredictable situation,” explains Parker. “So a lot churches are really moving their ministries from Khartoum down to the south.”
Christians may have reason to fear. Parker says there has been a lot of talk about Sudan becoming “more Islamic.” The mostly-Muslim north has a long history of persecution against believers.
Though fear abounds, many questions remain unanswered as to the Sunday deadline. Parker says, “The deadline itself–8th of April–really is unrealistic. It’s a logistical nightmare in many ways. We’re talking about between 500,000 and 700,000 people.”
Another question remains unanswered for Kids Alive. Based on the number of Christians being asked to leave the nation, how will the government respond to ministries still in the area? Kids Alive has already had to reduce programming in Sudan.
Still, says Parker, “We plan to be there for as long as we’re able to be there. There are lots of kids that still need help. There are thousands that live on the streets or are in need.”
Some of the Kids Alive kids in the north have already fled with their families to South Sudan. Thankfully, Kids Alive does have a number of soon expanding programs in South Sudan as well.
The most powerful solution now is intercession through prayer. Pray particularly for safety for the believers who are fleeing the nation and who are being asked to leave. There have even been rumors of a return to war between Sudan and South Sudan.
“It’s very difficult to predict how the government will act and how they will respond to any southerners who are still in Khartoum after the 8th of April,” says Parker.
Pray for safety for the workers and programs of Kids Alive, and pray that this might be an opportunity for them to trust in the Lord and to spread His name.