iDigress

Musings of an antipodean contrarian

Archive for the category “persecution”

Dark side to the Arab Spring

According to Salim Mansur, writing in the Toronto Sun, in the 1990s western democracies dispatched NATO forces to help stop ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia.  Some 16 years later, the Arab Spring mirrors the conflict that ripped through the Balkans.

But whereas in the Balkans, the suffering minority were Bosnian Muslims, those suffering most in the Arab-Muslim world are Christian minorities.

While Arab despots provided some protection to Christians, the situation has worsened with Islamists taking power.  There have been numerous attacks on Christians and churches in Egypt.  From Gaza reports have come of forced conversions to Islam.  Iraqi Christians fled persecution and found refuge in Syria, but now the sectarian conflict in Syria has intensified, and Syrian Christians are endangered.

The West’s failure to respond effectively is more than an immense moral failure, says Salim Mansur.  It is scandalous appeasement of Islamist totalitarianism, just as Europe’s major democracies appeased Hitler in the 1930s.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 2 September 2012.

Denial of religious freedom on the rise

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is just one example of the rampant persecution of Christians around the world. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, another Christian Pastor, Reverend Matthias Haghnejad, and eleven members of his church, have been tried in Iran for alleged “crimes against the order,” a charge often levelled as a cover for religious persecution.

The trial took place on Easter Sunday in a provincial court known for issuing harsh sentences to religious minorities, including the death penalty for apostasy. The twelve are now awaiting a verdict.

Elsewhere, Chinese authorities are said to be investigating the activities of Christians with a view to eradicating all Protestant house churches in China.

Life is far from easy in many parts of the world for people who identify as Christians.  Let us be grateful for the religious freedom we enjoy, and pray for the wellbeing and courage of Christians suffering at the hands of their governments.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 29 Apr 2012.

Free Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

Last week I mentioned Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, arrested and sentenced to death in Iran for changing his religion and telling Muslims the truth about Jesus.  Support and advocacy for the pastor is growing around the world as people realise the brutal truth about religious freedom in some Muslim-dominated nations.

Pastor Nadarkhani is under constant pressure to renounce his faith and embrace Islam in order to have the charges annulled and the death sentence lifted.  He has not obliged.

This week a member of the Dutch Parliament delivered a petition with more than 20,000 signatures to the Iranian Embassy in The Hague, urging Iran to revoke the death sentence and order Nadarkhani’s immediate release.  And a group called Christian Solidarity Worldwide has launched a month of prayer and action for him in the run-up to his 34th birthday on April 12.

What can we do?  Pray for Pastor Nadarkhani, and contact Australian politicians, asking them to defend religious freedom and save this man’s life.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 18 Mar 2012.

Iranian pastor faces execution

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was the spiritual leader of a 400-member Christian congregation, and a network of Christian house churches in the city of Rasht in northwestern Iran.

But in October 2009, Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested for changing his religion, evangelising Muslims, and a number of moral offences that have since been dismissed.  His punishment was recently upgraded to a death sentence, and reports indicate that an execution order has been issued and he could be executed at any time.

Wherever the fundamental human rights to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are denied, responsible citizens have a duty to speak for justice and take appropriate action to defend these basic rights.

The Australian Government must continue to express its opposition to the execution order, and Christians need to pray for Pastor Nadarkhani, and take responsible action themselves to demand that the Iranian Government reverse the execution order and order his immediate release.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 11 Mar 2012.

Muslims attack Nigerian Christians

Unprovoked and deadly attacks on Christians by Islamic extremists have been on the increase since Christmas, none more so than in Nigeria, where the Boko Haram group is seeking to impose sharia law.

On January 2, Boko Haram issued an ultimatum giving southerners and Christians three days to leave the north of Nigeria or face further violence.

On January 4, bombs exploded in two northern cities, killing 20.

In January 5, Boko Haram members shot dead three southerners, and then attacked the families as they made funeral arrangements, killing a further 12 and wounding more than 30.

On January 6, Boko Haram gunmen burst into a church in Adamawa and killed 12 young Christian leaders.

Boko Haram has support in the Nigerian government, military and police.  And it’s increasingly difficult to maintain law and order when violence is motivated and justified by religion.  If extremists can overturn the rule of law in Africa, they can do it closer to home.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 15 Jan 2012.

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