Persecution and almost genocide, are Christians the world's newest martyrs?

From Darfur and slavery to the church bombings in the states.

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The New Martyrs
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The New Martyrs
Their Blood Cries Out
Religious minorities imprisoned for their beliefs have been subject to floggings, and other torture and cruel treatment in Iran , Afghanistan, China, Egypt. Many times these minorities are Christians, Why would this be? A jaundiced perspective might suggest that there's just something about the name of Jesus that attracts victimhood. In fact, Friedrich Nietzsche, brilliant iconoclast that he was, as much as DID offer such a cynical view, branding Chrstianity a "slave morality."

So often it seems, it is the non-whites, the vulnerable peoples who are victims of injustice and exploitation, persecution and even genocide.

And Now Darfur?
Mass violence against civilians in Darfur began with a wave of attacks against villages. The people of Darfur have endured a vicious campaign of violence and terror which has led to huge numbers of deaths and forced more than a million people to flee from their destroyed villages in search of safety. Something must be done, and the time is now.

Two countries in northern Africa have been singled out as locations where "a truly endemic, raw anti-black racism and slavery today" exists -- Mauritania and Sudan (Darfur). " There, "Black people have been enslaved on such a scale that the term black became synonymous with slave." [See Serge Trifkovic]

"For the black populations in Sudan and Mauritania, independence marked the end of a slavery-free respite under colonial rule."

"The Anti-Slavery Society's findings (1982) and those of Africa Watch (1990) point to the existence of at least 100,000 'full-time' slaves and additional 300,000 half-slaves, all of them black." (Mauritania). Africa Watch says that the Mauritanian government has not tried to eradicate slavery and failed; it has not tried at all.

Amnesty International found that the old practice of using black slaves, forming them into armies, then unleashing them to take over black African villages has been revived. Thousands of these Haratines are forcibly recruited, armed and sent south to plunder, spoil and massacre the peaceable villagers. (p 177, Sword)

For many years Sudan under al-Bashir has afflicted its own black population, especially the Christians of the South (and Darfur), to a similar ongoing aggression. An extreme Sharia (draconian religious-based) law was instituted in 1983. Since that time, the United Nations and human rights groups have documented countless cases of slavery, often in reality the slavery is not merely degrading and demeaning but includes force sexual gratification. Dr. Susan Rice was sent there by the US government, and returned with a horrific account of rampant slavery.

In 2009, the flogging of Silva Kashif made world headlines. Silva, a sixteen year old Christian, was apprehended in Khartoum wearing a skirt beneath the knee, and forthwith received fifty lashes according to Islamic law. For more on floggings sanction by religion.

And Silva Kashif is not the only Christian to be flogged. The fact that Christian woman in Sudan have felt less constrained than Muslims in matters of dress is something that inevitably incites conflict with the Sharia law that has existed under al-Bashir. Floggings of these Christian women are reportedly rampant. The worst cases occur in areas implementing the more extreme Sharia law. See Sudan Police Flog Christian Girls for Wearing Pants.

The Sudanese government, which is Muslim, has a policy of harassment of Christian churches and believers. Most of the Christian ethnicities, Nuba and Dinka, are located in "black" southern Sudan. Public order police frequently harass women and monitor women's dress for orthodoxy. Guards are posted outside universities to assure women students wear the prescribed baggy Muslim garments. In June the public order police raided a riverside picnic and detained twenty-five Nuba students for "unlawful assembly." The nine women were not dressed appropriately and were flogged despite a decree that women would no longer be flogged except for crimes such as adultery or drinking alcohol. Additionally, all the students were sentenced to forty lashes each and fines. [Human Rights Watch Report]

Their Time On The Cross?
Beyond Darfur
"Sudan shows that genocide need not be perpetrated by huge massacres. The government in Khartoum is doing so by attrition: slowly and methodically grinding down the society and economy of the Nuba and starving the entire population. Meanwhile, in the garrison towns and Orwellian-sounding 'peace camps,' the government is remolding the political and social identity of the Nuba by force: the aim is to transform them into a deracinated underclass, the loyal slaves of an extremist, Sharia fundamentalist regime. In each army attack, soldiers first arbitrarily gun down anyone they find. The government does not pay them salaries: their pay is the booty from the raids on the black villages. The elderly and sick are usually killed on the spot and their food granaries set ablaze. The main objective of 'combing' is to capture live, fit civilians. [p 178, Sword]   Sudan.

South Sudanese Friends has tried to present careful and documented assessment of the slavery charges against Sudan's Arabs. Critics have sometimes been guilty of hyperbole. SSF reports that the allegations of slave trading "come out of western Sudan, the Abei and Gogrial areas. In this area is fighting between the Baggara Arabs and the [Black] African Dinka peoples. Baggara tribesmen abduct people from the Dinka villages and take them north to central Sudan." more re. Sudan slavery

And Somalia in the horn of Africa is, if anything, nearly as bad as Sudan. There, between famine, war and lack of central authority, it is an open season of relentless brutality against Christians and others. The Al-Shabaab terror network has taken advantage of the near-anarchy to viciously persecute those it deems enemies of its cruel brand of Islam.

See horrific instances

Slaughter in the Islands: East Timor was the victim of a "carnage on a scale worthy of Pol Pot." Amnesty International estimated that Indonesia had murdered 200,000 East Timorese (Christians) out of a population of 600,000 - 700,000. Under Suharto, Indonesia's treatment of religious minorities, many of them Christians, had already been witnessed by the world. Link. Beginning in the sixties, the tribal peoples of West Papua (Irian Jaya) began falling victim to the fanaticism of Suharto's (islamic) followers. The Papuans were Melanesians, most all of them animist, or else Christian converts. From primitive times, the pig has been a primary element of their basic economy, but the muslim regiments, offended by the "unclean" animal, slaughter the pigs in scores of peaceful villages. They soon proceeded to killing the villagers, up to an estimated 100,000 by 1990. (p 214, Sword)

Once East Timor was out of the way, the next target was the Christian minority in Indonesia itself. In 1999-2000 the persecution, destruction of property, and killing of Indonesia's Christians amounted to a deliberate campaign of religious cleansing, abetted by the Indonesian military which is overwhelmingly Muslim. The worst atrocities were committed on the island of Ambon, where an upsurge in violence followed the arrival of 2,000 Laskar Jihad -- a militant Muslim force determined to join the 'holy war' against the Christians on the island -- who sent its warriors from Java and South Sulawest. Indonesian soldiers sent to the Molucca Islands were fighting alongside militant Muslims, leading to calls by the Christians for a neutral U.N. peacekeeping force. Most of the fighting took place around the city of Ambon. Violence in North Halmahera has resulted in up to 100,000 people fleeing their homes for the jungles and mountains; the Christian communities were in disarray. (p 216, Sword)

In 2009 a video surfaced of a brutal flogging in Malaysia. "Strapped on a wooden frame, a prisoner braces himself for the brutal onslaught. Within moments of the first blow being struck by the cane-wielding official, the skin on his buttocks breaks and the raw wound begins to open. Lash after lash after lash follows until his flesh is reduced to a bloody mess. With each blow, the body flinches and there is a cry. Prepare to suffer: The official raises his cane high in the air to deliver the first blow to the prisoner." [David Williams, Daily Mail] Read more.

Read more: Malaysian-minister-defends-caning-prisoners-gruesome-video-appears-internet.html
In the Philippines, the kidnapping of Martin and Gracia Burnham by the Abu Sayyef eventually captured international attention. These renegade groups, against whom the government has long waged an ongoing campaign, sought to attract world spotlight (and extort ransoms) by abducting these vulnerable missionaries. While the Burnham's denied they were "mistreated" per se, Martin Burnham did lose his life for his faith, caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between the Government forces, and the Abu Sayyef militants. Gracia Burnham has since written an account of their harrowing experience, titled "In the Presence of Mine Enemies."

Pakistan has a constitution that guarantees religious freedom, but murders, endemic discrimination, and constant harassment of Christians is persistent. Any dispute with a Muslim -- most commonly over land -- can become a religious confrontation; Christians are frequently accused of 'blasphemy against Islam," an offense that carries the death penalty. Pakistan has some of the strictest blasphemy laws in the Muslim world. Charges of blasphemy can be made on the flimsiest of evidence -- even one man's word against another, and since it is invariably a Muslim's word against that of a Christian, the outcome is preordained.

One Pakistan case which attracted huge global outcry was the "court ordered rape" of the young woman, Mukhtaran Bibi, in the Punjab region. Because her brother had been seen in the company of a higher caste woman, the tribal council ordered that, as a way to punish him, his sister Mukhtaran Bibi would be raped by four men. This occurred on 22 June 2002. She was dragged to a hut, screaming, where six men, not four, took turns brutally raping her for an hour. When they finished, she reported she could not move. According to tradition, she was expected to commit suicide after such an event, but instead, she went public. The government of Pakistan, after worldwide outrage, promised that legal changes would be sought so that such rural procedures might have alternative avenues for redress.
[source: Misogyny - the world's oldest prejudice, by Jack Holland - more]

The ease with which blasphemy charges can be made to stick has led to a spate of accusations against Christians, mostly malicious complaints motivated by personal enmity and greed, especially for the Christians' land. Some 2,500 people are said to be in jail or to face charges for blasphemy. Muslim rioters in Rahimyar Khan, a town in southern Punjab, burned a dozen churches in 1997 after attacking Christians they accused of throwing torn pages of the Kuran into a mosque. This turned out to be a fabrication invented by the surrounding Muslims as the pretext to occupy their land. Christians charged with blasphemy have been murdered by fundamentalists before their cases reached the courts. (pp 236-237, Sword of the Prophet)

On March 17, 2002, there was a grenade attack on a Christian church in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Five people were killed, including a US embassy administrator and her daughter. It was preceded by the slaughter on October 28, 2001, in a church in Behawalpur, when two Kalashnikov-brandishing terrorists massacred 18 protestant Christians. Apparently the perpetrators conceived the slaughter out of a Muslim solidarity to avenge American bombing of the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. (p 237, Sword of the Prophet) What a dilemma for America's elected leaders, that Pakistan, a staunch US ally under Mushariff, seems unable or unmotivated to protect its Christian minorities.

Another Pakistan case has put two Christian religious leaders under threat of prosecution by the Blasphemy law. In this 2011 case, Bishop Pervaiz Joseph and Rev. Baber George, who had been meeting with an interfaith group to attempt to bridge good relations with both government as well as the majority Muslim leaders, were accused of blaspheming the prophet Muhammed, and now face prosecution. According to Global Christian Voice, "Bishop Joseph and Pastor George never made any derogatory remarks against their Prophet and did not make any such remarks or words against any Prophet." GCV says Bishop Joseph has left his house and is now is in a safe place with his family. But he has been communicating with Christian sympathizers worldwide using Facebook. See Assist News Service report

Afghanistan has flirted with Islamic extremism for decades. With high rates of illiteracy, oppression of women thrives. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a tribal despot and a fundamentalist fanatic, but at least he allowed religious education for girls. The US, fearful of Soviet influence, allied itself with Hekmatyar even while his regime inflicted brutal floggings of women or offending men. When the Taliban swept into control, the former oppressiveness suddenly seemed mild by comparison. The morals police, under the aegis of the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, had immense arbitrary authority to roam the streets, and administer brutal floggings to women for the flimsiest of pretexts.

Women could be beaten raw and bloody for offenses as slight as wearing make-up, appearing in public without a veil, or travelling without a proper male chaperone. Even men were vulnerable. The definition of depravity and sin became so broad that almost anything qualified a man as (the western equivalent of "gay"). A beard became mandatory. Yet the entire system was so ambiguous and contradictory, that it was rife with hypocrisy.

Bhutan's precarious Christian community has long suffered in silence. Serving their local community with quiet service, they strive nonetheless to be faithful to a Higher Kingdom -- only wishing they might be granted full safety, and freedom of conscience.

Another strong ally of the US has been Saudi Arabia, yet with a powerful Wahabi constituency that Kingdom "remains the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. Within Saudi Arabia the practice of any religion besides Islam is as strictly prohibited now as it was in Muhammad's lifetime. While Saudis continue to build mosques all over the world, thousands of Christians among the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from India, Europe, America, and the Philippines must worship in secret, if at all. They may be mobbed, beaten, arrested, detained, flogged or lashed, humiliated, even deported for the crime of public display of their beliefs. (p 242, Trifkovic, Sword of Islam) See Moral Flogging (in God's name?)
Shari'a link.

In Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, the state of Zamfara, in the Islamic north of the country, has been seeking to impose a religious conformity in line with Shari'a. The state governor Alhaji Ahmed Sani, a devout Muslim, forged ahead with Shari'a imposition despite the objections of the black Christian minority in Zamfara, and protests from the rest of the country. Floggings are rife. Within weeks all bars were closed, cinemas and video parlors were shut down, and boys and girls were segregated into separate schools. Women now must cover themselves; amputations of limbs, stonings to death and beheadings are on the statue books for a variety of offenses; consumers of alcohol in any form are "severely flogged" if caught or implicated. More.

After the imposition of Shari'a in Zamfara, the effort spread to neighboring Nigerian states throughout the entire northern part of the country. Fanatics were emboldened and the victims were in many cases black Christians. Over 2,000 were killed in another northern Nigerian state, Kaduna. Dozens of Christian churches have been burned and desecrated all over northern Nigeria. More on (p 252, Sword) the flogging of Bariya Maguzu (17 year old rape victim)

In Nigeria, local authorities as well as tribal leaders have felt greater freedom to clamp down on a range of different types of offenders. School officals likewise have responded to pressures to conform to stricter moral codes. In the eastern state of Akwa Ibom, a new clamp-down has been reported at the mainly Christian Nigerian University of Uyo. Targetted under the recent clampdown will be, for example, immodestly dressed female students that are reported to the Students Union. With the adoption of the new "zero-tolerance policy," immodestly dressed girls found to be violating the standards may or will receive a flogging (whipping), under the auspices of university authorities. For more on school floggings

Ironically, in some of the areas where the persecution has been most extreme, the earnestness of faith has, if anything, actually increased in tenacity. An excellent commentary along these lines is ... The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (by Philip Jenkins). Jenkins says that seismic changes are underway. The affluent West (pampered and spoilt) is losing its faith, while among the non-white populations worldwide, the gospel faith is experiencing a phenomenal growth.

What is going on, here? Obviously there is no single answer, but one is reminded how Christ told the elites of his day that the Kingdom of God is taken from them, and given to others more worthy.

As no prominent Christian leader is prepared to speak up on behalf of the Christians fleeing Arab lands – just like the Jews before them – this task falls to Michael Oren, Israel’s envoy to the US, writing in the Wall St Journal (with thanks: Denis; Lily):

The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church’s clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives. The trauma of those priests is now commonplace among Middle Eastern Christians. Their share of the region’s population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.

See Shattered Christian Minorities of the Middle East

libera me, domine
libera me domine
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Can Unearned Suffering be Redemptive

Martin Luther King,Jr. often quoted the following lines from Lowell:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.
We must not grow weary. MLK urges us all, as Christians, to remember that "unearned suffering is redemptive."

"The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us....The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us." [Martin Luther King. 25 March 1965 Montgomery, Alabama]
What shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Genocide No More

We Can Save Darfur
I AM my brother's keeper
Interracial victims of abuse
A frightening human rights issue
Torture both 'west' and 'east'
Support Religious Freedom
Dialog : will it help?
Secularly Benign
Darfur Redding

The murder, torture, and persecution of Christians in the Third World, and even prosperous countries, is one of the worst, and least-reported, of global human rights abuses.
[former Time magazine senior correspondent and Beijing Bureau chief David Aikman]

From a Pakistan Christian : The persecuted in PAKISTAN

Father I thank you and I worship you; my heart is open and is pouring out tears for the PAKISTAN. Father this country is so divided that the Muslims are taking the grounds, farms, and properties of the Christians. They are beating, killing, and raping their women in front of their kids. They are mutilating the fathers and the sons; some of the daughters they try to sell off to marry other Muslims at the early age of 12.

My heart goes out to any parent who has to see this or has to sacrifice for the word of God. Father I pray right here right now for the government of this country; I pray for a sweeping change from top to bottom and that this change will bring a new life for the Christians who live there. Father I pray that there will be no more sacrificing of the children, that their lives will be whole and healthy and that they will be able to spread your word for the rest of their lives.

Lift up the mothers and fathers who have been hurting and in pain, wash away their pain, and give them double for what they have lost. All that they have sacrificed, be it property or animals, give them double for what they have lost. And for the Muslims who have caused all this tragedy and pain bring them down to their knees, slowly, and give them a visitation of your magnificent love. Show them what true mercy and grace is even though they may not deserve it, but give it because you are our Lord and Savior and you didn't just die for us, you died for the world therefore the world must come to you.

Let every Christian in PAKISTAN have a heart of forgiveness, father do not allow their hearts to be made cold like stone due to the suffering, but give them a loving fulfilled heart of Christ that will be able to show grace and mercy to the Muslims when they are in a time of need. Do not allow our brothers and sisters to repay them in the same manner they have treated our brothers and sisters. Father I just lift everyone up in this country, pour your blood over them, cleanse, purify, heal, and uplift them. I decree and declared that any spiritual warfare, oppression, and terror must stop right now in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Bishop Pervaiz Joseph

Man cannot live without joy ; therefore when he is deprived of the true
spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures.

[Thomas Aquinas]

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