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One of the American prisoners recently released by Iran was an evangelical pastor who had been imprisoned for starting home churches. While Pastor Saeed Abedini’s freedom is something to rejoice, JNS’ Shalle’ McDonald reports that Iran’s persecution of Christians continues:
“While Iranian officials allowed Pastor Abedini to board the plane and put this horrible ordeal behind him, they continue to hold dozens of Iranian Christians on vague and overly broad national security charges like ‘propaganda against the system.’ These detentions clearly violate not only Iran’s obligations under international law, but their own constitution,” Heiner Bielefeldt, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, said in a statement.
Christians in Iran have been persecuted on various fronts since the 1979 rise of the country’s theocratic Shi’a Muslim government, whose primary goal is to root out all Western influences that threaten Islamic identity. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, the threat of death, lashing, and torture intensified for Christians. Under Rouhani’s leadership, the U.N. has reported that religious oppression is even greater than it was under Ahmadinejad. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in 2010 that Iran’s underground house churches “threaten the Islamic faith and deceive young Muslims…”
The Iranian regime will sometimes levy criminal charges against Christians relating to the very factors that have aided the church’s growth, such as the use of “religious propaganda” and forming house churches that exceed the maximum allowance of 12 people. But usually, a typical conviction in Iran will imprison Christians on crimes against national security, espionage, or trying to overthrow the government. It is widely known that these charges are euphemisms for committing the apostasy of leaving Islam to become a Christian.
“Iran has been escalating its internal persecution of Christians in recent months. The growing numbers of Iranians rejecting Islam and turning to Christianity is considered a serious political threat by the state. This is a symptom of the widespread disillusionment and sense of hopelessness felt by many Iranians after 37 years of the Iranian…Read More » Comments (5) »
Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 8:18 AM | Stand For Israel
This weekend, four Americans were released from prison in Iran. The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey tells the story of one of those released, Saeed Abedini, an evangelical pastor from the United States who had been jailed for acting on his faith:
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Abedini, 35, of Boise, Idaho, is a convert from Islam to Christianity and pastor who had been imprisoned since 2012 for organizing home churches. His case was the most high-profile religious persecution for Christians in recent years, regularly mentioned by evangelical pastors in pulpits across the country.
His case put a face on the issue of persecution, especially in the Middle East, for Christians across the globe, and his release comes on “religious freedom day” in the U.S.
His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, who grew up in Boise and lives there with the couple’s two children, Rebekka, 9, and Jacob, 7, told the Washington Post on Saturday that she woke her two children up early at 7:30 a.m. to tell them of the news that their father had been released.
“They were shocked,” she said. “You can probably hear them now, jumping up and down, asking ‘When are we going to see him?’ It’s been a time of rejoicing.”
Thursday, January 21st, 2016 at 7:28 AM | Stand for Israel
As the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has spread across the Middle East, the horrors of its religious desecration have only been outdone by its atrocities against the people it persecutes and murders. The Jerusalem Post’s Maayan Groisman reports that ISIS has destroyed another sacred Christian site, this one a 1,400-year-old monastery in Mosul:
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Arab media reported on Wednesday that satellite images have revealed the destruction of one of Iraq’s oldest monasteries, Saint Elijah’s monastery in Mosul, by ISIS fighters.
The monastery, which was built in the 6th century and served Mosul’s Christian citizens for 1400 years, has now entered the long list of ancient sites in the Arab world that were destroyed by ISIS.
Striving to install an Islamic regime based on Tawhid (the oneness of Allah) in all the territories it controls, ISIS views the destruction of Christian temples, as well as temples and graves of Muslim sects that it defines as ‘deviant’, as vital.
Besides its destruction of Christian cultural heritage, ISIS forcefully expels Iraqi Christians from their homes and businesses. On January 16, the organization sold more than 400 apartments and 167 stores belonging to Christians in Mosul in a public auction conducted in order to raise funds for ISIS’ dwindling treasury.
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 at 10:15 AM | Stand for Israel
As the world hopes for peace in Syria and that all refugees can finally find safety from the brutal and ongoing war, we also continue to support and pray for the millions who’ve been displaced. But why isn’t anyone talking about the Christians in the Middle East? Writing at the Jewish Journal, David Suissa wonders why we have forgotten about the many persecuted Christians, who suffer oppression every day because of their faith:
In all the self-righteous talk we’ve been hearing about Muslim refugees from Syria, who’s talking about the Christians? Over the past several years, no religious group has been more persecuted throughout the Middle East than the Christians. And yet, hardly a peep.
Yes, the Jewish way is not either/or. We’re supposed to be inclusive. So, with all the beautiful, heartfelt sentiment so many American Jews are expressing for Muslim refugees, why are we not including oppressed Christians in our hearts?…
The irony is that the very persecution of Christians makes it harder to rescue them. As Patrick Goodenough reports on CNSNews.com, the U.S. federal government relies on the United Nations in the refugee application process – and since Syrian Christians are often afraid to register with the U.N., they and other non-Muslims are left out.
This means that refugees in most need of rescue are hardest to reach. But isn’t that the real meaning of compassion — to go the extra mile for those in greatest need? Even if we put aside the charged issue of Muslim terrorists possibly infiltrating the refugees, and just look at basic human need, don’t we owe it to the Christians to pay more attention to their plight?
If the most powerful country on Earth can’t go the extra mile to rescue Christian refugees, who will?
If the most powerful man on Earth can’t bring justice to the most oppressed, who will?
Who will speak up for the most persecuted religious group in the world?
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Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 at 10:43 AM | Stand for Israel
Leaflets distributed in Jerusalem in the name of the Islamic State terror group threatened Christian residents of the city with a “massacre” if they do not evacuate by the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to Israeli media reports:
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Haaretz reported the discovery of leaflets in several Jerusalem locations on Saturday that were signed by “Islamic State, Jerusalem Emirate” and stated, “We tell the heretic Christians, you must clear out immediately or we’ll massacre you on Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, and one month is time enough to evacuate.” Additionally, Israel National News reported that leaflets signed by “ISIS Palestine,” vowing “revenge” against Christians, were found in eastern Jerusalem on Thursday.
Islamic State is notorious for its brutal slaughtering of Christians and other regional minority groups during its conquests in Iraq and Syria.
Monday, June 29th, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Stand for Israel
As radical Islamist groups rampage across the Middle East, the targets of their terror are most often those whose faith differs from their own. In a troubling report from Breitbart News, the number of Christians killed each year has reached six figures:
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…statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand.
The bishop called the breadth and scale of the suffering of Christians “unprecedented.”
At least 100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their faith, which amounts to 273 per day, or eleven every hour, McAreavey said, without mentioning those who are “being tortured, imprisoned, exiled, threatened, excluded, attacked and discriminated against on a widespread scale.”
In a sobering presentation before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade this past week, McAreavey said that Christianity is the most oppressed religion in the world, and the followers of Jesus are actively persecuted in some 110 countries.
More striking still, he contended, according to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, “80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians.”
The bishop recalled how the former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, recently described this suffering of Christians in the Middle East as “one of the crimes against humanity of our time,” comparing it to the Jewish pogroms in Europe and saying he was “appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked.”
Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 at 2:13 PM | Stand for Israel
Yesterday we brought you Fellowship Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein speaking on Capitol Hill regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Now CBN’s Abigail Robertson reports on Yael and other international speakers who gathered in Washington, D.C. this week for a panel on this religious persecution:
Every day, thousands of Christians in the Middle East are brutally persecuted by Islamic jihadists demanding they convert to Islam or pay the penalties.
Many groups are urging lawmakers to step up to assist those being tortured and discriminated against.
Speakers from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss the horrors Middle East Christians are facing on a daily basis.
“Entire ancient Christian communities right now are being wiped out by hatred and terror,” Yael Eckstein, senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said.
The IFCJ and Concerned Women for America came together to discuss the dangerous persecution going on in the Middle East.
CBN’s Erick Stakelbeck moderated the panel as speakers focused on religious persecution and what American policymakers can do to stop these atrocities.
Terrorism expert Dr. Walid Phares, who took part in the panel discussion, said we are witnessing the worst conditions for Christians in the Middle East since the rise of the Islamic State caliphate.
“The case can be made that in Iraq and Syria alone Christian minorities are under danger of complete ethnic cleansing,” Phares said. “This is a demographic catastrophe.”
Other panelists argued we must not be afraid to refer to those committing these heinous crimes as Islamic jihadists.
“We need to identify what’s happening in order to accurately fight it,” Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance said.
Eckstein emphasized the need for the Jewish and Christian communities to unite against those persecuting them.
“They’re not kicking out the Christian community because they don’t have anywhere to go,” Eckstein said. “They’re just killing them, and so we’re seeing mass killings and I want to see the Christian and Jewish communities coming together to say this is unacceptable.”
Eckstein urges…Read More » Comments (30) »
Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Stand for Israel
As Stand for Israel reported, yesterday The Fellowship’s Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein joined Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to speak on religious persecution in the Middle East. Listen to Yael and Penny speak to the Family Research Council not only about the persecution that is going on, but what we can do to act against it.Comments (8) »
Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Stand for Israel
As the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has spread its tentacles across the Middle East, the horrors of its violent actions against those who don’t share its extremist beliefs have also spread. Yediot Achronot reports that a new video shows the mass executions by ISIS of Ethiopian Christians:
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A new video published Sunday by the Islamic State terror group claims to show two mass executions in Libya. In the video, reportedly shot in Libya, a group of Coptic Ethiopians is executed by a firing squad and another group by a knife to the throat…
According to ISIS, the first group being executed was “adherent of the Ethiopian church” – a possible reference to Coptic Christians – and the execution purportedly took place in Libya’s Fezzan region…
“Despite the cross, we have returned,” the ISIS narrator said with guns pointed at the first group.
According to the video, the execution is a message to Christians in the region according to which, if they fail to convert to Islam they will have to pay with their lives or face execution at the hands of ISIS. A similar fate befell the Christian community of Raqqa, Syria.
ISIS has gained a significant foothold in Libya, posing a clear and imminent threat to both Egypt and Italy.
Monday, April 20th, 2015 at 9:21 AM | Stand for Israel
As the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has spread across the Middle East, it has targeted religious minorities, particularly the Christian communities it comes across. Arutz Sheva provides this tragic story of Assyrian Christians who the terrorists have recently attacked and displaced:
Waiting in an aid line outside Lebanon’s capital Beirut, Assyrian Christian Francie Yaacoub remembers the well-stocked home she left behind in Syria as she fled advancing Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists.
“We left behind a house full of everything. Why do we now have to stand at the church door?” she asked quietly as she waited to receive aid at the Assyrian diocese of Sid al-Boushriyeh, reports AFP.
She is one of hundreds of Assyrian Christians who have arrived in Lebanon in recent weeks after ISIS jihadists stormed their villages in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakeh.
Members of Lebanon’s Assyrian community, many of them related to those who fled Hasakeh, are doing their best to welcome the new refugees, but the displacement has left them traumatized.
Yaacoub, in her fifties, now lives in a small house with her son, husband and five other Assyrian refugees. Her family fled their village, Tal Nasri, during a terrifying ISIS bombardment last week.
“We left in our pajamas. My son walked barefoot, we left without our shoes on,” she said. “The shells were falling all around us…We had to flee because the safety of your children is the most important thing.”
Yaacoub’s family was not alone – thousands of Assyrians have been forced to abandon their villages along Hasakeh’s Khabur river since ISIS jihadists began an attack there in February.
The group has seized at least 11 of the 33 Assyrian villages in the region, and kidnapped more than 200 members of the ancient Christian sect, which numbered around 30,000 in Syria before the war …
“The villages of Khabur are empty now, there is no one left except some fighters,” lamented Chorbishop Yatron Koliana, as he oversaw the distribution at his diocese.
“Our people have experienced a great tragedy in Syria,” he added with a sigh, saying that many of the new arrivals were traumatized. “They are depressed. Some of them…Read More » Comments (7) »
Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 at 8:27 AM | Stand For Israel