Study: Christians Under Threat Around the World

persecution_image250wtn

Christians are rapidly disappearing from the region of Jesus Christ’s birth – the modern Middle East – and are being persecuted in many other regions of the world where their religion is viewed as “Western” and foreign.

The new study, reported Sunday by the British Telegraph newspaper,warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group. It also claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The most dangerous threat to the religion is militant Islam, the report by the think tank Civitas says, because oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.

Converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East, the report says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree.

“A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers,” the study adds.

The study also estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”

“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood,” the author, Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, tells the Telegraph.

He adds: “The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”

The report, entitled Christianophobia, highlights a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani: ‘I’m Alive Because of God’s Will and Your Prayers’

At a recent national conference in London, newly freed Iranian pastor expressed immense gratitude to his many supporters who prayed for his release during his three-year imprisonment, saying that he is alive today because of “what your prayers did for me.”

 

yusuf

“It is the opportunity for me to share about what the Lord did for me and to thank you because you supported me by your prayers, you supported my family in a very difficult time,” Nadarkhani, 35, told those in attendance at the persecution watchdog group Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s National Conference in London in early November.

“My prayer is I ask the Lord to bless you for what you did for me as a small member of the Body of Christ. Today my presence here is the will of God and the result of what your prayers did for me,” Nadarkhani added, according to a press release issued by CSW, which has maintained an active role in Nadarkhani’s release from prison.

Nadarkhani, a house pastor in Rasht, Iran, was released from prison on Sept. 8 after three years imprisonment for charges of apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

Although he initially faced the death penalty for his charges, Nadarkhani eventually had his apostasy charge removed, and was therefore freed.

Shortly after being released from jail, Nadarkhani issued a “Thank You Letter” to his supporters, saying:

“I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy. You are all very dear to my heart. May the Lord bless you and give you His perfect and sovereign Grace.”

Observers contend that Nadarkhani’s release depended highly on the amount of international pressure Iran received regarding his case.

Countries around the world, including Germany, the United States, and Brazil, openly condemned Iran’s imprisonment of the Christian minister due to his faith, arguing that the country was disregarding international human rights laws.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide said Nadarkhani’s speech at the organization’s national convention was an inspiring, faith-filled testimony of perseverance and love.

“It was a pleasure to welcome Pastor Nadarkhani to our conference and to hear his testimony of faith and perseverance, and of his love for God, for his family and for his nation,” CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a press release.

“His quiet courage, integrity and lack of recrimination cannot fail to have inspired anyone who heard him to deepen their own commitment to their faith,” Thomas added.

Nadarkhani reportedly spoke at four religious services at a local church in the small town of Brompton, near Medway, England, before returning to his wife and two sons in his hometown of Rasht.

Although Nadarkhani was successful in fighting the Iranian government’s practice of religious persecution, his lawyer, human rights defender Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, has been detained.

Dadkhah, one of the few human rights lawyers in Iran, was arrested in Oct. 2012 and sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly acting against national security and spreading propaganda.

The American Center for Law and Justice, another pro-human rights organization that has closely monitored Nadarkhani’s case, urges all Christians to continue their fight for religious freedom in Iran.

“As the world awakened to the realities of religious persecution in Iran when the masses fought for Pastor Youcef’s freedom, we must now shift our attention to defend those who defend the persecuted,” Tiffany Barrans, International Legal Director for the ACLJ, previously told The Christian Post.

Click to article

Is Egypt about to become the new Iran?

It is not only the anti-government protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who should be concerned about President Mohammed Morsi’s audacious power grab. Mr Morsi’s claim at the weekend that “God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship” has echoes of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s claim during the 1979 Iranian revolution that his mission to overthrow the Shah enjoyed divine guidance.

Since his announcement that he was granting himself sweeping new powers, Mr Morsi has been trying to reassure sceptical Egyptian voters that he has no ambition to become Egypt’s new Pharaoh. But you only have to look at the violent scenes that have once again erupted in Tahrir Square to see that the majority of Egyptians remain unconvinced.

When Egyptian demonstrators first occupied Tahrir Square last year to call for the overthrow of Mr Morsi’s predecessor, President Hosni Mubarak, they were calling for a secular, democratic system of government that would represent the interests of all Egyptians, and not just the corrupt clique of presidential supporters. Similar sentiments were expressed by Iranian demonstrators during the build-up to the Shah’s overthrow in February 1979 as they sought to remove a similarly corrupt regime.

But as we now know to our cost, the worthy aspirations of the Iranian masses were hijacked by Khomeini’s hardline Islamist agenda, and within months of the Shah’s overthrow Iran had been transformed into an Islamic republic.

Mr Morsi says he has no desire to become a dictator, but his announcement that, henceforth, all presidential decrees will be immune from legal challenge does not bode well for Egypt’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy.

I am sure I am not the only one wondering whether Mr Morsi is about to become the new Ayatollah Khomeini.

Certainly, unless Mr Morsi backs down, all those who sacrificed their lives in the cause of the Egyptian revolution will have died in vain.

Click to article

Hamas says ‘Israel failed in its goals’, thanks Iran

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said on Wednesday that Israel had “failed in all its goals” after a Gaza truce deal came into effect, while thanking Egypt and Iran for their support during the conflict.

“After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance,” Meshaal said.

“Israel has failed in all its goals,” he told reporters in a Cairo hotel.

Meshaal also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, as well as Iran, which he said “had a role in arming” his Islamist movement during the conflict.

“I would like to thank our dear Egypt, aided by the brave elected President Mohamed Morsi… Egypt acted responsibly and understood the demands of the resistance and the Palestinian people,” he said.

Meshaal also praised Iran, despite “disagreements on the situation in Syria”.

And the Hamas leader warned Israel against violating the agreement.

“If you commit, we will commit. If you do not commit, the rifles are in our hands,” he said.

Earlier, Egypt announced the ceasefire agreement would come into effect at 1900 GMT on the eighth day of Gaza-linked violence that has killed at least 155 Palestinians and five Israelis.

Click to article