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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

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 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Comoro Islands

Comoros has seen 19 attempted coups since 1975. A new constitution was adopted in 2001, and in May 2006, an Iranian-trained Sunni Muslim cleric, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, was elected president.

Religion: Muslim 98.07%, Christian 0.84%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi

Persecution: Persecution against Christians generally takes the form of social discrimination. In June 2006, four men were sentenced to prison for their faith. Police beat them and tried to get them to renounce Christianity. There are no official Comoran churches.

 2008/5/23 0:49









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Cuba

Cuba stands as one of the last “champions” of communism. In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power threatening Cubans with socialism or death. In the last two years, President Castro’s health has appeared to decline. Observers hope a change in leadership might bring greater societal openness.

Religion: Christian 46.88%, Non-Religious/Other 35.47%

Ideological Influence: Communism

Head of State: President Fidel Castro; due to health problems, Castro handed provisional control of the government over to his brother, Raul Castro, on July 31, 2006.

Persecution: In the 1960s, Castro labeled Catholics and Protestants “social scum” and forced lay people and clergy into labor camps under inhumane conditions. Cuba’s constitution was amended in 1992 to guarantee freedom of religion. Yet, today Christians are still imprisoned and churches destroyed. Strict regulations against house churches went into effect in September 2005, prohibiting a church from being located within a mile and a quarter of another of the same denomination and restricting meetings to three per week. On December 22, 2006, a court in Havana found the Reverend Carlos Lamelas not guilty of “trafficking in human beings” as previously charged, but convicted him on unannounced charges of falsification of documents. A co-defendant in the case, evangelical pastor Joel Rojas of Holguín, was convicted of “human trafficking” (helping Cubans flee the country) and sentenced to seven years in prison.

 2008/5/23 0:51









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Egypt

Egypt was predominantly Christian in the first centuries after Christ. In 969 A.D.,the country was conquered by Islam,but thankfully Egypt's Coptic Christian Church never disappeared.

Religion: Muslim 86.52%, Christian 12.98%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak

Persecution: The country's constitution gives preference to Muslims. Christians are treated as second-class citizens,denied political representation and discriminated against in employment.


 2008/5/23 1:04









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Eritrea

Eritrea is dominated by war and drought. The Eritrean Marxist government ordered all independent Protestant churches to close in May 2002, declaring only a few religions were legal.

Religion: Muslim 47.97%, Christian 47.43%

Ideological Influence: Military dictatorship/Communism

Head of State: President Isaias Afworki

Persecution: Magos Solomon Semere, 30, died in military prison in February 2007, four and a half years after he was imprisoned for worshipping at a banned Protestant church. He died from relentless physical torture and lack of treatment for pneumonia. He was the third Christian killed within a year. There are at least 2,000 Eritrean Christians now under arrest without trial or legal charges, solely for their religious beliefs. Under the totalitarian regime of President Isaias Afworki, religious repression has escalated further in the past two years.


 2008/5/23 1:05









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Ethiopia

Ethiopia experienced a revolution in 1974 which imposed a Marxist-like government. The regime persecuted Christians and allowed the Islamic movement to grow strong. Since this iron-fisted reign ended in 1991, there has been great freedom to worship and evangelize. Recently, however, Muslims have started massive campaigns to Islamize Ethiopia by penetrating Christian areas with bribes and mosque-building programs.

Religion: Christian 65.02%, Muslim 31%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Girma Woldegiorgis

Persecution: Evangelist Taddese Tefera Akufo was beaten to death by militant Muslims in Jimma on March 26, 2007. Akufo and two female co-workers were evangelizing on Merkato Street when a mob of Muslims emerged from a mosque. The two women were able to flee, but the militants dragged Taddese inside the building and beat him to death. The killing was apparently a direct attack against a local evangelism campaign. In April 2007, Muslims bombed a tent where a group of Christians was gathered in Jijiga, a town in Eastern Ethiopia. Two Christians were killed and several were injured in the bombing. The Christians were meeting together to mourn two Christians killed by rebels on April 24.

 2008/5/23 1:06









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Gaza and the West Bank

Gaza and the West Bank were occupied by Israel in 1967. The Islamic terrorist group Hamas won democratic elections in Gaza and the West Bank in late January 2006. Repeated efforts to form a unified government with the Fatah organization led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have failed.

Religion: Muslim 98.7%, Christian 0.7%, Jewish 0.6%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas

Persecution: There are about 2,000 Arab evangelical Christians in 30 churches. Political turmoil has created an environment where it is easy for militant Islamic groups to persecute Christians. Many Christians left following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, in the city of Arad, Messianic Jews face persecution from some ultra-Orthodox Jews. The Messianic Jews ask for prayer for their persecutors, not that persecution will stop, but that it brings glory to God. Christian leader and bookstore owner Rami Ayyad, 30, was kidnapped and murdered in Gaza on October 6, 2007. Christians feel the murder was religiously motivated. Rami is survived by his pregnant wife and two children.

 2008/5/23 1:07









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

India

India has staggering racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. Pressing problems include border disputes, overpopulation, poverty and economic and religious strife. India elected its first female president in July 2007, Pratibha Patil.

Religion: Hindu 79.83%, Muslim 12.50%, Christian 2.40%

Ideological Influence: Hinduism

Head of State: President Pratibha Patil

Persecution: In the past, persecution was confined to specific regions of India. It has now spread to nearly every part, as radical Hindus seek to purify India of all religions except Hinduism. In 2007 there was an average of three attacks per day against Christians. Pastors have been killed; wives and daughters harassed and raped. Many Christians have been beaten or subjected to other acts of violence. At press time, four Indian states had anti-conversion laws. They impose prison terms and hefty fines against anyone who converts Indians by force, fraud or allurement. However, many Indian believers rejoice in their suffering; they see it as a way to testify to Christ’s victory in their lives.


 2008/5/23 1:09









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Indonesia

Indonesia is a collection of 18,306 islands; 6,000 are inhabited. The government forces people to carry an identification card that includes their religious status. The government promotes a belief called “Pancasila,” which means all may freely choose to follow Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, but in reality, Muslims receive preferential treatment.

Religion: Muslim 80.30%, Christian 16.00%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Persecution: Forty-one Indonesian believers were in prison at press time. They were charged under Indonesia’s religion abuse laws. Fundamentalist Muslims obtained a video of a prayer meeting where these believers held a copy of the Koran and prayed for Muslims. The Muslims perceived it as blasphemous. All 41 Christians received five-year prison sentences. During the last 40 years, evangelicals have grown from 1.3 million to 11.5 million. The increase of Christian persecution has brought about a greater unity among the Body of Christ, the growth of a national prayer movement and a commitment to outreach in Indonesia and beyond.


 2008/5/23 1:10









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Iran

Iran’s state religion is Shi’a Islam, and the followers of all other faiths are treated severely. The government has specifically taken an increasing anti-Western and anti-Christian stand. Iran has been called the world’s number one producer of terrorism.

Religion: Muslim 99.02%, Christian 0.33%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khamenei

Persecution: In 2007, the government organized a highly-coordinated crackdown that included the arrest and interrogation of Christians, along with the confiscation of thousands of Bibles. Pastors are forbidden to preach in Farsi (the official language) and can only use the Armenian language. Mission organizations are not allowed to enter Iran. Open witnessing to Muslims is banned, and the government sends spies to monitor Christian groups. Believers are discriminated against in education, employment and property ownership. Muslims who leave Islam can receive the death penalty. After decades of existing under government oppression, Iranians are hungry for spiritual meaning, as well as freedom from their oppressive government. Christian programs broadcast by satellite have received very positive responses. Hundreds of callers ask for more information about Christianity or pray with a counselor to receive Christ. House church leaders are nearly overwhelmed caring for these new believers. Careful attention is being given to training Christians into mature believers and integrating them into a fellowship.

 2008/5/23 1:11









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Iraq

Iraq has experienced a troubled history since Bible times. U.S. military operations have both helped and hindered Iraqi Christians. Fighting between Muslim factions has directed attention away from Christians for the time being. There are around 70 evangelical congregations in Iraq, but conversions are doing little more than replacing emigrating Christians.

Religion: Muslim 96.85%, Christian 1.55%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Jalal Talabani

Persecution: Iraq is a complex mix of severe persecution and a place of increased freedom for believers and evangelism. Since 2003 there has been a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq. Many of those who stay behind have been kidnapped. Amidst the chaos of a country being rebuilt with ongoing conflict, many churches have succumbed to threats and a spirit of fear by closing the doors in 2007. The few churches that remain recognized the potential for division and have begun meeting to encourage each other. One church reports of an outreach ministry to Muslims that began when one person came asking about Christianity. Muslim converts now tell others about the ministry.

 2008/5/23 1:12





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