Posted by Kendall Harmon

How easily the world forgets. It has been only three months, but it feels like a lifetime since more than 200 Nigerian girls were snatched from their school in the dead of night by the brutal Boko Haram. Vigils and marches around the world marked the girls’ 100 days in captivity, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan managed to emerge from his cocoon to finally meet the parents of the abducted girls. I guess we should thank God for his small mercies. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his role as a UN global ambassador, tried to keep up hope for the girls’ return on the bleak anniversary, but his words had a hollow ring.

“The world has not forgotten these girls. Not in a 100 days. Not for one day,” Brown wrote.

Yes it has. The universal outrage that greeted the abduction, and the massive effort to mobilize the global community to confront the terrorists and rescue the girls, has dissipated. Western governments talked tough, promised big, but in the end, did precious little to help save the girls. A world-wide Bring Back Our Girls campaign led by politicians, religious leaders and celebrities swept across continents and energized people. There was hope, but it was only fleeting. Once the sad faces that tugged at our heartstrings disappeared from our TV screens, the outrage faded, and governments moved on to the next crisis in the headlines, promises forgotten. People returned to their busy lives, and the Bring Back Our Girls campaign fizzled. More than 200 girls are brazenly abducted, and what the world does is to shed a little tear, then shrug its shoulders and move on. It is hard to imagine the horror that confronts these girls every waking moment. The terror, the helplessness and the feeling of abandonment must be excruciating.

Read it all.

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Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vicar of Baghdad' Canon Andrew White has warned that Christianity in Iraq could be close to extinction. And he has called on the British government to do more to help Christians fleeing Iraq.

Canon White, on a weekend visit to the UK where he visited churches including the Chiswick Christian Centre and The Church of the Ascension in Balham, said numbers in St George's Baghdad had decreased from 6,500 to 1,000.

Many fled to Mosul, across the river Tigris from the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. Now they have been forced by ISIS to flee Mosul also, most escaping to Kurdistan.

Read it all.

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Posted July 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Sudan frequently face arrests, impromptu questioning and expulsion. But this month, conditions worsened after the government announced a ban on the construction of new churches.

Shalil Abdullah, the Sudanese minister for guidance and religious endowments, made the announcement on July 12, sparking criticism from top Christian clerics who warned of shrinking worship space in the mainly Muslim and Arab north.

After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, many Christians moved to the newly formed country, which has a large Christian population. But a sizable number remained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. pastor who took it upon himself to fly to Sudan to meet with and pray for imprisoned persecuted Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim was among those celebrating her freedom Thursday. He credited the 27-year-old married mother's release to the outcry of people from around the world who were captivated by her steadfast Christian witness in the face of impending death.

"Praise God for that," Pastor William Devlin told The Christian Post in response to Ibrahim's early morning flight out of Sudan, where she had been held imprisoned for nearly one year. Devlin returned to New York City on July 20 after a week-long trip to Sudan, where he says he spent an hour and a half with Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and their two children.

"I think it was really the outcry of people from around the world," added Pastor Devlin, commenting on what he thought led to Ibrahim's release just days after his visit with her at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Indeed, the young woman's case resonated with many around the world and many were moved to petition for her release. One such petition, published on Change.org, had more than one million supporters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Iraqi city of Mosul is empty of Christians for the first time in the history of the country, the country's most senior Chaldean Catholic said.

Patriarch Louis Sako said the city’s Christians – who until last month numbered a few thousand – were fleeing for the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Christian families abandoned homes and belongings and some were robbed of their vehicles by the jihadists and forced to flee on foot. Some Dominican nuns based in nearby Qaraqosh said that the jihadists had demanded the Christians hand over money, personal documents, passports, cars, and all valuable items.

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Posted July 24, 2014 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family landed in Italy en route to a new life in the U.S.

A woman in Sudan who faced the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity safely landed in Italy en route to the U.S. on Thursday after the international community intervened to secure her safe exit, NBC News reports.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, was imprisoned for apostasy in February under Sudan’s strict Islamic law, after converting from Islam to marry her Christian husband, a U.S. citizen. Born to a Muslim father but raised Orthodox Christian, she refused to convert back under threat of death.

Read it all.

Update: Per Catholic News Service--#PopeFrancis spent 30mins with #Meriam&family. Thanked her for her "constant witness" to faith. She thanked him for church's prayers,support

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Posted July 24, 2014 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of Iraq's largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword.

Read it all.

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Posted July 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, has condemned the latest action of Islamic State militants who ordered all Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul to leave the city over the weekend or face execution.

“The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times,” he says. “This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it’s likely nothing else can.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, adds: “Too many of us thought that forced conversions and expulsions of entire religious communities were part of a distant, medieval past. There was little that we could do to stop this horrible episode.

Read it all.

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Posted July 22, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave.

“They are persecuted; our brothers are persecuted, they are driven out, they have to leave their houses without having the possibility of taking anything with them,” Pope Francis voiced in his July 20 Angelus address.

“I want to express my closeness and my constant prayer to these families and these people,” he continued. “Dear brothers and sisters who are so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, I know that you are stripped of everything. I am with you in the faith of the one who has conquered evil!”

Read it all.

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday condemned the Islamic State extremist group’s actions targeting Christians in territory it controls, saying they reveal the threat the jihadists pose to the minority community’s “centuries-old heritage.”

The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Most Christians opted to flee to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control, reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is one of those beautiful Sunday mornings England seems to do so well: sunlight streams across wet grass and the air is filled with the busy chatter of sparrows and the sweet, milky smell of the calves across the way. In hundreds of churches people will be gathering, as we ourselves will gather, to sing the praises of God, ask his intercession and celebrate his sacraments. It is a world away from the horrors of war and exile; but war and exile is precisely what many people are experiencing. There are over 50 million refugees in the world today, and yesterday their number was increased as Christians fled Mosul, Iraq, and those who could, fled northern Gaza.

I find it heartbreaking that we as a nation are standing by as the ancient heartlands of Christianity are ripped apart and destroyed....

Read it all.


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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave.

The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers.

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

hen Boko Haram invaded her village last year, the Islamist extremists burned the churches, destroyed Bibles and photographs and forced Hamatu Juwanda to renounce Christianity.

"They said we should never go back to church because they had brought a new religion," the 50-year-old said. "We were going to be converted to Islam."

The head of the village, a Muslim, presented her with a thick nylon hijab to cover her head and renamed her Aisha.

She submitted, smarting with rage. Women who didn't wear the hijab were beaten.

Read it all.

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and other western nations have ignored the religious motivation of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and must understand the theological dynamics in Nigeria in order to curb terrorism in the western African country, the archbishop of Nigeria's Anglican Church told Baptist Press.

For a long time, "the United States did not come out to say anything about Boko Haram," Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Church of Nigeria, said in an interview. "They kept talking about economic problems, [saying] that Boko Haram is fighting because of economic problems. That is not true ... The United States deliberately ignored the fundamental issues of religious ideology."

Based in northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 10,000 people since 2002 with an escalation in murders recently. In April the group received wide media coverage for kidnapping 273 schoolgirls, 219 of whom remain missing and may be enslaved as wives of Muslim men. Loosely translated, the phrase Boko Haram means "Western education is sinful."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 6:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese court in May sentences a Christian woman married to an American to be hanged, after first being lashed 100 times, after she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.

Muslim extremists in Iraq demand that Christians pay a tax or face crucifixion, according to the Iraqi government.

In Malaysia, courts ban some non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.”

In country after country, Islamic fundamentalists are measuring their own religious devotion by the degree to which they suppress or assault those they see as heretics, creating a human rights catastrophe as people are punished or murdered for their religious beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, on Monday, observed that Christians living in the Northern part of Nigeria are at greater risks of being killed by the Boko Haram Sect.

The group said over 258 Northern Nigerian Christians have been killed by the deadly sect within the last seven days, with the aim to eliminate Christians in the entire Nigeria and imposing Islamic Religion on Nigeria.

In a statement signed by the chairman, Board of Trustees of the organization, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi and released to journalists in Awka, Intersociety alleged that the ethno-religious cleansing campaigns launched in July 2009 was also targeted at forcing the federal authorities in the country to return the presidency to core northern Muslims.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last Sunday, for the first time in 1600 years, no mass was celebrated in Mosul. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized Iraq’s second largest city on June 10, causing most Christians in the region to flee in terror, in new kinship with the torment of Christ crucified on the cross. The remnant of Mosul’s ancient Christian community, long inhabitants of the place where many believe Jonah to be buried, now faces annihilation behind ISIS lines. Those who risk worship must do so in silence, praying under new Sharia regulations that have stilled every church bell in the city.

The media has largely ignored the horrifying stories that are emerging from Mosul. On June 23, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that ISIS terrorists entered the home of a Christian family in Mosul and demanded that they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims). According to AINA, “When the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father. The husband and father was so traumatized that he committed suicide.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted June 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The few available survey measures of religious identity in Iraq suggest that about half the country is Shia. Surveys by ABC News found between 47% and 51% of the country identifying as Shia between 2007 and 2009, and a Pew Research survey conducted in Iraq in late 2011 found that 51% of Iraqi Muslims said they were Shia (compared with 42% saying they were Sunni).

Neighboring Iran is home to the world’s largest Shia population: Between 90% and 95% of Iranian Muslims (66-70 million people) were Shias in 2009, according to our estimate from that year.

Their shared demographic makeup may help explain Iran’s support for Iraq’s Shia-dominated government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ms. Ibrahim's story bears uncanny parallels to another Christian story involving young African mothers who did become Christian martyrs, during the early third century: the story of Felicitas and Perpetua, executed for their faith in the Roman port city of Carthage in today's Tunisia. Vibia Perpetua was a well-educated young woman, not unlike Ms. Ibrahim, who is trained as a doctor. Felicitas was a slave in an advanced state of pregnancy when she was thrown into prison along with Perpetua and other Christians to await their deaths by wild animals in the Carthage arena. Perpetua, like Ms. Ibrahim, went to prison along with a baby son. Felicitas, like Ms. Ibrahim, bore a baby daughter before her execution date.

The most dramatic parallel is the simple affirmation that Ms. Ibrahim gave in court that led to her death sentence: "I am a Christian." Those also were Perpetua's words, as they were of many martyrs in Roman times. Like Perpetua, Ms. Ibrahim, who was brought up in the Ethiopian Orthodox faith of her mother, also refused to recant.

This isn't just a matter of ancient and modern coincidences. More significantly, the Roman world of the third century was strikingly like today's secularized West in its contempt for Christians and indifference to their persecution.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A court convicted an Egyptian Christian to six years imprisonment for blasphemy and contempt of religion on Tuesday.

The Luxor court issued its verdict against Kerolos Ghattas, 30, after his arrest earlier this month for posting pictures deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page.

Read it all.

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria and over two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls that it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently held in Nigerian jails.

Read it all.

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 10, the city of Mosul fell to the forces of ISIS, the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams. Politically, this is a catastrophe for American hopes of preserving the settlement they had uneasily imposed on the region, while a humanitarian catastrophe looms. Particularly hard hit are the region’s Christians, who have no wish to live under jihadi rule. A heartbreaking story in the The Telegraph recently headlined “Iraq's beleaguered Christians make final stand on the Mosul frontline.”

So much has been widely reported, but what has been missing in media accounts is just how crucially significant Mosul is to the whole Christian story over two millennia. Although the destruction of Christian Mosul has been drawn out over many years, the imminent end is still shocking. The best way to describe its implications is to imagine the annihilation of some great European center of the faith, such as Assisi, Cologne, or York. Once upon a time, Mosul was the heart of a landscape that was no less thoroughly Christ-haunted.

Mosul itself was a truly ancient Assyrian center, which continued to flourish through the Middle Ages. No later than the second century AD, the city had a Christian presence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

9 Comments
Posted June 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of a Nigerian ministry supported by Christian Aid recently shared this update on their work. Along with providing necessities for refugees, they share the Gospel with Islamic militants who are curious about Christ.

“We were able to give out 45 of ‘The Treasure’ audio Bibles to Muslims who were ready to hear. Some of them assured us we shall hear from them when we come back,” the leader shares in his report. “Pray for one new convert who accepted Christ after listening to the Gospel of John.

“This is a great tool for reaching Muslims.”

However, these indigenous missionaries are not immune to danger. The ministry leader says Boko Haram attacks continue daily.

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country of crippling poverty, ethnic fault lines and decades of war, Islamic piety offers many Afghans a rare thread of national solidarity. To reject Islam is seen as tantamount to treason.

“Religious identity is the only thing that Afghans can claim,” said Daud Moradian, a professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “They do not have a national identity, they do not have an economic identity, and there is no middle or working class here.”

That leaves Josef almost nowhere to turn for protection. The police would be no help. Converts report being beaten and sexually abused while in custody. His family in Afghanistan is also a dead end: His uncles are hunting for him now, too.

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, and the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, were invited to give the keynote addresses at the inauguration of the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (SRP) at the Nanyang Technological University, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore from 5-11 June 2014. During their visit to Singapore, they shared their Egyptian experience in "working together as a way of promoting national unity in Egypt."

The President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan, received Dr Ali and Bishop Mouneer and was keen to hear about the situation in Egypt, especially as their visit coincided with the installation of the new President of Egypt, el-Sisi. He assured both of them that Singapore will stand with Egypt at this very important time. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, also received them and wrote in his Facebook page, "I could see that Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa and Archbishop Dr Mouneer are good friends, working closely together to promote peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians there."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Christian woman condemned to be hanged for apostasy in Sudan is being kept in comfortable conditions in prison and will have her appeal verdict next month, according to her lawyers, amid indications that the international campaign to free her is having an effect.

Meriam Ibrahim gave birth in chains, in Omdurman women’s prison, after she had been sentenced to 100 lashes and condemned to death last month for renouncing Islam. She was jailed after a judge ruled that she was a Muslim because of her absentee father’s religion. Her marriage to Daniel Wani, an American-Sudanese Christian, was annulled by the court.

After an international outcry, there are indications that the Sudanese government of President al-Bashir is beginning to take heed of her case.

Read it all (subscription required).

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1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Islamist militants pretending to be preachers rounded up and killed at least 42 villagers in northeastern Nigeria, a police source said, as an escalating insurgency increasingly targets civilians.

The shootings on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri late on Wednesday came a day after officials said raiders killed scores in three other settlements in Borno state, where the Boko Haram militant group first launched its campaign to carve out an Islamist caliphate.

The attackers, who were wearing military-style uniforms, drove into the village of Bardari, told people to gather for a sermon and opened fire, the police source told Reuters. "The people couldn't identify them in time as terrorists," the source added.

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Posted June 7, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian Christian schoolgirls focused the world’s attention, at last, on the outrages committed by Boko Haram (“No western education”) in Nigeria. Scores of churches have been destroyed and many Christians killed by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, but the world kept quiet. Now more people realize that there is a serious problem in Nigeria. But what is the problem? Prime Minister David Cameron correctly identified it recently, according to the Rt Rev Dr Ben Kwashi, the Anglican Archbishop of the area where the girls were kidnapped and where most of the atrocities have taken place. Mr Cameron said: “This is not just a problem in Nigeria. We’re seeing this really violent extreme Islamism. We see problems in Pakistan, we see problems in other parts of Africa, problems in the Middle East. Also, let’s be frank, here in the UK there is still too much support for extremism that we have to tackle, whether it’s in schools or colleges or universities or wherever,” (Quoted in The Times, 12 May 2014). Archbishop Kwashi, on a recent visit to the UK, insists that the violence of Boko Haram does not arise out of their poverty or alienation. They have enough funding to arm themselves with weapons that can take on modern armies. There are many poor and alienated groups in Nigeria who do not resort to violence. And if they are representing the poor and alienated then why did they blow up a major fish market which is a centre for food, income and the export of fish many times over? Those fighting on behalf of the poor do not kill the poor or their children. This is a civilizational conflict that roots itself in religious justification. Islam is of the view that it should be supreme in political and economic power. The North of Nigeria is by and large Muslim. The south is by and large Christian.

Nigeria is an uneasy federation of the two.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted June 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite disappointment that word of his involvement in the negotiations for the release of the Chibok schoolgirls was leaked to media last week, the Australian cleric appointed as the Nigerian President’s envoy in the negotiations with Boko Haram remains hopeful that they will succeed in getting the girls released.

Dr. Stephen Davis, an Anglican cleric, told media the fact that his name was leaked is not helping the negotiations, but he remains confident nonetheless that they will succeed.

Read it all.

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of villagers in fresh attacks in Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria, the BBC has learnt.

In one attack, gunmen disguised as soldiers fired on a crowd in a church compound, local MP Peter Biye said.

He said he had warned the army that the area was at risk after troops stationed nearby were withdrawn three months ago.

The latest attacks come as the army denied that several generals had been found guilty of aiding the militants.

Read it all.

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just for a moment, do your best to imagine this scenario:

You’ve been brought up as a Christian in a Christian home and have accepted this faith as your own. This is not a nominal faith; you have chosen to follow Jesus and give your life fully to him. Now as an adult you are married to a fellow Christian, have a son who is nearly two years old and are pregnant with your second child. Your husband is a citizen of another country and you are planning to emigrate. Life where you live is not always easy and you are looking forward to a new start in a place where your children will have far more opportunities available to them as they grow up than will ever be the case if you stay where you are.

One day out of nowhere the police arrive at your door, arrest you and throw you into prison. Apparently your half-brother is furious that you have gone your own way, choosing your own husband and are now intending to move abroad. For him this is simply not acceptable behaviour for a woman in his family. He publicly cries “apostasy” and accuses you of converting to Christianity from Islam. The sole justification for this is that your father had been a Muslim, even though he abandoned your mother while you were still young. In law as a woman your faith is legally determined by your father’s. Up until this point such a technicality has had no bearing on your life, but now that a relative has a grudge against you, everything that you have counts for nothing.

Read it all.

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Posted June 3, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If true, this is a testament to the power of advocacy, as well as an answer to the prayers of many around the world. Trust and verify comes to mind. Too often, the U.S. government has trusted the promises and declarations of Khartoum, and while the U.S. has acted according to the “carrots” it has promised for good behavior, Khartoum’s failed to honor its promises. Hopefully, this is not the case with the pending release of Ibrahim. The U.S. offered no incentives to Khartoum to release Ibrahim, but her imprisonment drew international outrage. Khartoum felt the sting and decided that the reward of pardoning Ibrahim outweighs the approval of the hard-core Islamists who want her dead.

Ibrahim's release will be only the beginning of the push to halt the draconian implementation of Sharia law. Advocates understand that they cannot relax the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Sudan.

Read it all.

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Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death in Sudan after she married a Christian man, is to be freed, a Sudanese foreign ministry official has said.

The decision comes after the Sudanese government faced mounting pressure from the international community over her “barbaric” treatment.

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said the county was committed to protecting the woman and guaranteed religious freedom.

Read it all.

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Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A woman sentenced to death in Sudan after marrying a Christian could be released within days, according to reports.

A senior Khartoum official has told the BBC that Meriam Ibrahim will be freed following worldwide protests about her treatment.

Read it all.

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Wani, 27, said his wife was “frustrated” by her situation but was committed to maintaining that she was Christian.

He told CNN: “There is pressure on her from Muslim religious leaders that she should return to the faith. She said, ‘How can I return when I never was a Muslim? Yes my father was a Muslim, but I was brought up by my mother.’

” I know my wife. She’s committed. Even last week, they brought in sheikhs and she told them, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind’....I’m standing by her to the end. Whatever she wants, I’ll stand by her.”

Read it all (requires subscription) and a picture is there.

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Posted May 30, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The courts have judged that she was born a Muslim (because her absent father was one) and therefore that her claim to be a Christian, following marriage to a Christian man, meets the criteria under Sudan’s version of Sharia for the death penalty. The hanging will not, however, be carried out if she renounces her faith and embraces Islam. This she refuses to do. The sentence of 100 lashes for adultery remains to be carried out some time before her execution.

Pinch yourself. This is 2014 not 1014. Meriam’s imprisonment is an offence against basic human rights. Under any civilised code her crime would be no crime at all, but her murder by the Sudanese state most certainly would be a terrible one. A campaign by Amnesty International for Meriam’s release has already received the support of 147,000 people and we hope that many more will sign up.

But such private pressure, while admirable and necessary, is not enough. It is clear that in many countries of the world archaic religious laws or cultural practices are increasingly becoming a major threat to women and religious minorities.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted May 30, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for marrying a Christian was forced to give birth with her legs chained, it has been revealed today.

Meriam Ibrahim was shackled as her baby daughter was born in jail in Sudan where she is awaiting execution for marrying a Christian U.S. citizen.

Amid the joy of seeing his child for the first time, her husband Daniel Wani has spoken of his anger at the treatment she received during labour.

Read it all.

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Posted May 30, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted May 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's president said on Thursday he had ordered "a full-scale operation" against Boko Haram Islamist militants and sought to reassure the parents of 219 schoolgirls being held by the group that their children would be freed.

Speaking on Nigeria's Democracy Day, Goodluck Jonathan said he had authorised security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that Boko Haram, which operates in the country's northeast is defeated.

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism," Jonathan said in a TV speech.

Read it all.

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Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in Sudan, including the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, have condemned the death sentence handed to a Christian woman who refused to renounce her faith.

Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was convicted of apostasy by a court in Khartoum in mid-May for marrying a Christian.

In a joint statement, the Sudanese churches said the charges against Ibrahim are false. They appealed to the Sudanese government to free her from prison, according to the social communications department of AMECEA, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Read it all.

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Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop will attend services with bishops from the eight dioceses of the 800,000-strong Church of Pakistan, which unites Anglicans, Methodists, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. He will promise global support from the Anglican Communion in fighting discrimination and resisting persecution. At the same time he will try to promote reconciliation among Pakistan’s Anglicans, who is recent years have been riven by court cases over property and sales of church land.

In meetings later with the Governor of Punjab and Muslim leaders, he will raise his concerns about the abuse of the notoriously ill-defined blasphemy laws, introduced in the 1970s, and do more to halt violence against women and religious minorities.

But he will also tell Pakistan’s Muslim leaders that he is determined to improve relations between Christians and Muslims in Britain and the West, as well as in flash points such as Nigeria.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted May 28, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Co-Chairs of the Christian Muslim Forum we call for compassion in this situation and for the death sentence against Mariam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag to be dropped.

Our religions tell us that human interactions should be shaped by compassion and humanity, not by death sentences. It is vital that all people should enjoy freedom of conscience and be able to follow their own religion, as we have already highlighted in our Ethical Witness Guidelines. Christians and Muslims should be able to coexist alongside each other, we emphasise that force and compulsion are not characteristics of either faith.

Read it all.


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Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Celebrating Mass on his first day in the Holy Land, Pope Francis said hope for peace in a region torn by sectarian conflicts comes from faith in God.

"The way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we are all of the same stock and members of one human family, if we never forget that we have the same heavenly father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness," the pope said May 24 in his homily at Amman's International Stadium.

"Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches," he told the congregation of some 30,000 people. "We ought, therefore, to show concrete signs of humility, fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation.

"Peace is not something which can be bought," the pope said. "It is a gift to be sought patiently and to be crafted through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives."

Read it all.


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Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The women of Iran deserve to have freedom of choice about their chadors. It is a disgrace that their mullahs deny them a basic human freedom.

But almost no one in the gallery of gushing approval is raising her voice to defend Meriam Yehya Ibrahim who was condemned to death in Sudan on May 1. Meriam is eight months pregnant, but a court in Khartoum found her guilty of adultery and apostatising from Islam.

The case against her is an absurd travesty of justice by all standards except the standards of the fundamentalist regime which currently governs Sudan. Twenty-seven-year-old Meriam is the daughter of a Muslim father and a Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox mother. Meriam’s father deserted the family when she was a baby and she was raised as a Christian. She qualified as a doctor at University of Khartoum Medical School and married a Christian man from South Sudan, Daniel Wani. Mr Wani is an American citizen who lives in New Hampshire. They have a 20-month-old son and were hoping to emigrate to the US.

Read it all.

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wani, a Sudanese man with US citizenship who lives in Manchester in New Hampshire, is now in Sudan to try and help his wife.

“I was considered innocent and the marriage revoked — the revoking of this marriage means that my son is no longer my son and the one coming is not my son too, will not be my son — so this innocence means nothing and I will appeal for myself and I will appeal for my wife,” Reuters news agency reported.

“Martin [my son] and my wife, they are all in prison and she is pregnant — she could give birth at any time, from today to 1st of June, she may give birth. I am afraid that being in prison is dangerous for her so if they would allow me to take her to the hospital that she delivered Martin in — even if it was under the watch of security guards, I would be thankful.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Boko Haram leader Abubaker] Shekau declared, “To the people of the world, everybody should know his status, it is either you are with us mujahideen or you are with the Christians....”

“We know what is happening in this world, it is a jihad war against Christians and Christianity. It is a war against Western education, democracy and constitution… This is what I know in Quran. This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution, Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”

Contrary to [Ahmed] Bedier’s assertion that Boko Haram’s ideology “comes from nowhere,” it does come from well-established Islamic interpretations, even if most Muslims disagree with those interpretations (a mere 2% of Nigerian Muslims view Boko Haram favorably).

Read it all; GetReligion has all been posting on this angle of the story.

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1 Comments
Posted May 20, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A mob torched Bature’s evangelical church last Monday, one of at least six churches and mosques destroyed in three days of religious clashes that took over the town of Kachia.

As many as 40 people died, police said, and hundreds of Christians and Muslims are now living in displacement camps.

Kachia is in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kaduna, which makes up part of the middle belt splitting the country’s largely Christian south from the mainly Muslim north. These bisecting regions are often home to mixed populations and have long simmered with sectarian friction.

Kachia sits right on top of the fault lines.

Read it all.

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Definitive pronouncements about the group are hazardous, since its communications with the outside world are fragmentary and its tactics and motivations remain murky. Even the group’s leadership is a mystery. The Nigerian government has claimed to have killed Mr. Shekau at least three times, although there is wide disagreement here on whether Mr. Shekau or a secret successor is in charge.

American intelligence officials say they have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the recent video or that the individual who appears in it is Mr. Shekau.

Said to be in his mid-30s to his early 40s, Mr. Shekau was born in a remote village on the border with Niger, in the neighboring state of Yobe. When he was a young boy he was taken by his father for Quranic studies to a mallam, or “learned one,” in Maiduguri, a center of Islamic teaching. “He was the most troublesome of all of his students,” the mallam’s son recalled last week, outside his one-story mud-walled house in a dense neighborhood here. “He was arguing with the mallam all the time,” said the teacher’s son, Baba Fanani.

Read it all.

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Posted May 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following the sentencing to death of a pregnant Sudanese woman for refusing to abandon her Christian faith, the Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia are calling on all people of good-will to raise their voices in protest.

Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, and Winston Halapua, say it is hard to find words to describe the plight of the woman. The Archbishops believe people across all faiths, who seek charity, love, and justice, will find the court’s decision hateful and heartless

Meriam Ibrahim and her Christian husband were married in 2011. They have an 18-month-old son. A court, in the Sudan capital of Khartoum, has sentenced Meriam to flogging for marrying a non-Muslim and to death for abandoning the Muslim faith for Christianity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic militants who have triggered international outrage over the kidnapping of more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls opened fire on a busy marketplace, killing hundreds of people in a new spasm of violence in the country's northeast.

The attack escalates Nigeria's growing crisis from a campaign of bombings, massacres and abductions being waged by the Boko Haram terrorist network in its campaign to impose an Islamic state on Africa's most populous nation.

As many as 300 people were killed in the assault late Monday on the town of Gamboru Ngala on Nigeria's border with Cameroon. The extremists opened fire on a marketplace bustling with shoppers taking advantage of the cooler nighttime temperatures in the semi-desert region, then rampaged through the town for 12 hours, setting houses ablaze and shooting those who tried to escape.

Read it all.

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Posted May 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When someone asked the Rev. Canon Andrew White why members are so happy at St. George’s Church in war-torn Baghdad, the response came from Lina, whom White considers his adopted Iraqi daughter: “When you’ve lost everything, Jesus is all you have left.”

The question was not a theoretical one for Canon White (more popularly known as the “Vicar of Baghdad”), his loved ones, or his parishioners. St. George’s Church is a cathedral that has suffered the loss of 1,276 congregants during the last decade. And yet he declares with joy and a tinge of wonder in his voice, “I have one of the most wonderful congregations you can imagine.”

Visiting Washington, D.C., to receive the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview’s William Wilberforce Award, White spoke on “Reconciliation and Peacemaking in the World, Church, and the Anglican Communion” at Truro Anglican Church on May 1. He is the author of several books, including Father, Forgive: Reflections on Peacemaking (Monarch, 2013).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsIraq War* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After traveling 250,000 miles through Dar al-Islam ("House of Islam") as Muslims call their world, career missiologist David Garrison came to a startling conclusion:

Muslim background believers are leading Muslims to Christ in staggering numbers, but not in the West. They are doing this primarily in Muslim-majority nations almost completely under the radar—of everyone. In the new book, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ, Garrison takes the reader on his journey through what he describes as the nine rooms in the Muslim-majority world: Indo-Malaysia, East Africa, North Africa, Eastern South Asia, Western South Asia, Persia, Turkestan, West Africa, and the Arab world. Muslims in each of those regions have created indigenous, voluntary movements to Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyApologetics

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Posted April 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The jihadist group's escalating campaign of terror has claimed 4,000 civilian lives in just four years, and Boko Haram is now linked to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls. But who are they?

Their name means "western education is forbidden", and while the group has targeted many schools - and schoolchildren - it has also attacked churches, mosques, police stations, government buildings, bus stations and even a UN compound, as well as carrying out assassinations and kidnappings.

The sect claims to be fighting for a strict sharia state in northern Nigeria and is believed to receive guns and money from Salafist al-Qaeda-linked insurgent groups in the Islamic Maghreb and beyond. Boko Haram is estimated to have killed 4,000 people during its four-year-insurgency. The Nigerian military is estimated to have killed almost as many in its efforts to hunt down and kill the insurgents....

Read it all.

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Posted April 26, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The architects of the military takeover in Egypt promised a new era of tolerance and pluralism when they deposed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last summer.

Nine months later, though, Egypt’s freethinkers and religious minorities are still waiting for the new leadership to deliver on that promise. Having suppressed Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters, the new military-backed government has fallen back into patterns of sectarianism that have prevailed here for decades.

Prosecutors continue to jail Coptic Christians, Shiite Muslims and atheists on charges of contempt of religion. A panel of Muslim scholars has cited authority granted under the new military-backed Constitution to block screenings of the Hollywood blockbuster “Noah” because it violates an Islamic prohibition against depictions of the prophets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted April 26, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed in North East Nigeria since Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement. Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.

Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.

Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen have killed 135 civilians in north east Nigeria since Wednesday, a senior official from the region has told the BBC.

Borno state senator Ahmed Zannah said the killings took place in at least three separate attacks in the state.

The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is being expressed for the people of Kessab, an ancient Armenian christian village in Syria. Reports in recent days have claimed that Islamist rebels captured Kassab from government forces, causing residents to leave. Today's Zubeida Malik has been talking to one of the residents of Kessab, an Armenian christian who we are calling ''Panos''.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will Ross reports on the challenge of fighting Boko Haram, and watches rare footage filmed by the group of a recent attack.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the row over the use of the word Allah still simmering, Anglican Christians in Sarawak said they will go all out to defend their right to use the word in worship.

Datuk Bolly Lapok, Anglican Archbishop for Southeast Asia, said they were willing to abandon their calling to be peacemakers and reconcilers, if “turning the other cheek to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that are relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry is tantamount to sending a wrong message to them”.

He said this in a statement after a mass gathering of its Iban speaking congregation in Sri Aman today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.

Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.

Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city's Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

4 Comments
Posted March 28, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Orogodo Okoh, believes strongly that the on-going National Conference must not fail, saying it is a great opportunity to resolve the challenges faced by Nigeria. He also speaks on the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed many lives and affected the Church in the North-east and the controversial anti-gay law.

Excerpts from interview:
There are allegations lately that corruption has crept into Christianity with some men of God accused of sharp practices. How do you react to this?
I think you used an omnibus word ‘sharp practices’. I don’t know what it means because it could mean so many things. Can you be more specific?
Corruption has one definition, unethical practice. That is exactly what I am talking about.

Read it all (from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No amount of investigation about the weather or the mechanical condition of the Malaysian Airlines plane will yield the truth if that is not the problem. From where I sit, it seems to me that there was a hijacking, either by passengers on the plane or a choice by the pilot(s) to fly somewhere else. Now that possibility is finally being examined, lots of information is surfacing. It may be that investigating a pilot with radical politics will yield answers. Perhaps examination of lax security will yield answers, but it appears that radicalism is at the heart of the situation either way. Now as that is investigated, there are all kinds of tidbits of information surfacing. I suspect that not just radicalism, but probably Islamic radicalism, will emerge as the cause. At least it is now being examined.

In Northern Nigeria, no amount of inquiry into “ethnic conflict” will produce answers. It is not an “ethnic conflict.” It is jihad by radical Muslims against Christians. It is Christians who are being attacked and killed. It is the homes and businesses of Christians that are being burned. It is Christians who are having to flee to preserve their lives. It is not tribal, it is not ethnic, it is not economic, it is a spiritual war. It has to be addressed for what it is if there is going to be any answer.

So…what are we to do?

We need to remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10) We need to cultivate our relationship with the Lord through worship and time in the Word of God. We also need to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by being obedient to what the Lord requires and commands us to do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that "the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose" is central to "human dignity," and so "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."

The freedom so central to human dignity is denied by the Kingdom. The State Department has long ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's most religiously repressive governments, designating it a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Yet the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has not pressed Riyadh to respect religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all "officially" Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Imam-Priest exchange initiative for 2014 opened at Al Azhar al Shereef, at the invitation of the Grand Imam. The 30 imams and 30 priests who participated in the initiative in 2013 shared what they learnt and were presented with certificates.

This initiative aims at reducing religious tension through practical dialogue. The need for dialogue has become
more critical after the 25 January 2011 Revolution because of the inter-religious strife leading to incidents of tragic sectarian violence. It is clear that religion will play a significant role in shaping Egypt’s future. Muslim Imams and Christian leaders need to address religious harmony and the importance of unity, because it is known how fragile the inter-religious relationships are and the dangerous consequences of the alternative for Egypt’s future.

‘Together for a New Egypt: the Imam-Priest Exchange,’ is an interfaith initiative which brought together 30 priests (from different denominations) and 30 imams (selected by Al-Azhar) for four weekends in 2013. As a result of these meetings, the participating imams and priests built friendships and engaged together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold — about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in Central African Republic are caring for thousands of Muslims who have been trapped in a cycle of revenge attacks, perpetrated by a pro-Christian militia.

Since December, Anti-Balaka militias have been emptying Muslim quarters and avenging earlier attacks by the Seleka, an Islamist militia. The Seleka rampaged through the country in early 2013, terrorizing Christians and ransacking churches, hospitals and shops.

Now that the Muslim president Michel Djotodia has stepped down, Seleka is being forced to withdraw from its strongholds, as the center of power shifts, amid a mass exodus and displacement of Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church in Egypt has joined the growing number of groups who have condemned Christian attacks on Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR).

In a Tuesday statement, The Reverend Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Episcopal and Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and the President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said he hoped the international community would respond to “stop this humanitarian disaster”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.

“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.

Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We encourage Anglican Christians everywhere to understand the faith of Muslims, to love them, befriend them, and witness to them, building upon what Muslims already know of Jesus Christ in order to lead to what they do not yet know: that is the fullness of the Christian Gospel.

Gathered as we are in Kenya, we rejoice that Muslims are free to worship and to practice their faith in countries like Kenya, and lament that this is not so for Christians and others in the Islamic world.

We commit ourselves to pray and support the persecuted churches throughout the world.

Our churches need both to campaign for greater freedom of belief and expression in Islamic lands, as well as for material, spiritual and social support for converts and others who suffer because of their beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the evening of November 28 last year, Habila Adamu was at home with his wife and kids in the Yobe state of Northern Nigeria when visitors stopped by. He opened the door, shocked to find gunmen wearing robes and masks.

They demanded he step outside and they peppered him with questions. What was his name? Habila Adamu. Was he a member of the Nigerian police? No. Was he a soldier? No. Was he a member of the state security service? No. He told them he was a businessman.

OK, are you a Christian?” they asked.

“I am a Christian,” Habila said.

Initially fearful, Habila came to terms with the realization that it was the day of his death. He began praying for strength, forgiveness and salvation.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last summer, as unrest raged in Cairo, Egypt’s small Anglican community started looking for a way out. One family made for Canada, another went to Australia, and several emigrated to the United States.

As exoduses go, Anglican emigration has been small compared to the torrent of fleeing Coptic Orthodox migrants, but with approximately 3000-4000 congregants, the Anglican Church’s problems over the past few years have mirrored those of the wider Christian population.

When modern Egypt’s worst bout of sectarian violence erupted in August, few Anglicans were left untouched by the fallout. Two of the Anglican community’s 15 churches were attacked, while only the timely arrival of the army spared a third, and those inside it, from an irate mob intent on setting it alight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? That's the question some are beginning to ask about a crisis that has been going on for most of this year but has only just burst through into the mainstream international mass media.

Warlords ruling the countryside by terror, a government that is almost toothless and the collapse of institutions have forced 0.4 million people to flee their homes and left a million dependent on aid.

And now reports of Muslim and Christian communities engaged in inter-communal violence have sparked concern about a slide into religious conflict. The "G-word" -- genocide -- has even been floated as a real risk by some observers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ITV News has found evidence that children are being targeted in one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.

Many have suffered horrific injuries, as violence in the Central African Republic sinks to what the United Nations calls a "vicious new low".

Read it all and note the many video links available.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is the largest and most widely spread faith in the world, with 2.2 billion followers, or 32 percent of the world population, according to a survey by the U.S.-based Pew Forum on religion and Public Life.

It faces restrictions and hostility in 111 countries, ahead of the 90 countries limiting or harassing the second-largest faith, Islam, another Pew survey has reported.

Michel Varton, head of Open Doors France, told journalists in Strasbourg that failing states with civil wars or persistent internal tensions were often the most dangerous for Christians.

"In Syria, another war is thriving in the shadow of the civil war -- the war against the church," he said while presenting the Open Doors report there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that twelve Christians were brutally murdered by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria over the weekend. According to reports, these Christians were killed in two attacks on separate Christian villages in Nigeria's Muslim majority state of Borno.

The first attack took place on Saturday, December 28, in the Christian village of Tashan-Alede where eight people attending a wedding celebration were killed when militants connected with Boko Haram opened fire on the Christians gathered. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, "One attack took place at a pre-wedding bachelor party. Suspected fighters from Boko Haram opened fire on the group, killing eight people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted January 2, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many participate in religious celebrations at this time of the year, our country, the Central African Republic, remains on the brink of religious warfare. In a place that most of the world struggles to find on a map, more than 2 million people, nearly half of the nation’s population, are in desperate need of aid. As we write, approximately 40,000 people without shelter or toilets are crammed into the airport compound in the capital, Bangui. In just the past week in Bangui, hundreds have been killed, including patients dragged out of hospitals and executed. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.” We fear that without a wider international response, our country will succumb to darkness .

As the most senior faith leaders of our country’s Christian and Muslim communities, respectively, we recognize our responsibility to help define a path away from violence. Our colleagues, priests and imams alike, have paid the ultimate price for taking on their own part of this responsibility, and we fear the worst is yet to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales’s powerful intervention last week on the persecution of Christians is a reminder that ancient Christian communities, pre-dating Islam, are on the verge of disappearing from their homelands in the Middle East.

After years of bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in dialogue, Prince Charles admitted that in spite of many such efforts, “fundamentalist Islamist militants” were “deliberately” targeting Christians.

This is something that Western governments have been strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront. In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue, the Government response was full of denial that this was a problem uniquely affecting Christian communities. But, then, successive governments have done little to speak up for Christians facing human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For myself, I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church communities link us straight back to the early Church, as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, Our Lord's own language, spoken and sung a few hours ago.

Yet, today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.

This has an effect on all of us, although, of course, primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East: we all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back two thousand years begins to disappear. It is, therefore, especially delightful to see such a rich panoply of church life here to-day, including the Antiochian, Greek, Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean, and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the Church of the East, and Churches established, dare I say it, somewhat more recently, including the Anglican Church!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

3 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN says more than 1,200 people have been killed in Islamist-related violence in north-east Nigeria since a state of emergency was declared in May.

The UN said the figure related to killings of civilians and the military by the Islamist group Boko Haram in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

It also includes insurgents killed by security forces repelling attacks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians Saturday of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year's worst sectarian violence.

Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.

In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An attack by suspected Islamist militants on a Nigerian air force base indicates the Boko Haram group retains its military capacity even after a seven-month offensive by government forces.

“It is a big deal, it shows the capability of Boko Haram is growing,” Murtala Touray, senior Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said today by phone. “For Boko Haram to plan this attack, it shows they are a force to be reckoned with, they can take on the Nigerian army.”

The pre-dawn raid took place yesterday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, about 860 kilometers (535 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja. Two air force personnel were wounded, 24 attackers were killed and three military aircraft and two helicopters were damaged, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed to journalists....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram militants launched a daring raid against Nigerian troops on Monday in an attack that indicates the Islamist group is still capable of deadly strikes in spite of a six-month military crackdown.

The onslaught by what witnesses described as “hundreds” of militants against a military barracks and an air force base in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram is strongest, left scores dead, helicopters burnt and barracks destroyed, according to local news reports.

The authorities responded by imposing a 24-hour curfew across the state, and Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, summoned senior military officials to a meeting.

Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

EU humanitarian chief Kristalina Georgieva said the country faced the twin risk of a state collapse and potential genocide because of the increasing tit-for-tat killings between the Christian majority and Seleka-backing Muslims.

Speaking at his residence in Camp de Roux, a colonial military camp on a hill that overlooks the Oubangui River, Djotodia attributed the violence to settling of scores between those loyal to the previous government and some Seleka elements.

"We hear people talk of inter-religious war, sometimes they talk of genocide. What group wants to exterminate the other? Who is planning to exterminate the other?" Djotodia asked.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite this relative calm in urban areas, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings have not diminished. Recent analysis of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that they have in fact increased.

Fighting has instead shifted to rural areas. The media reports Boko Haram efforts to cut off access on the road between Kano and Maiduguri by targeting truck drivers, whom they behead using chain saws.

There are also media reports of Boko Haram carrying out forced conversions to Islam in rural areas, with the alternative being death.

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Posted November 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the gloom of a hilltop cave in Nigeria where she was held captive, Hajja had a knife pressed to her throat by a man who gave her a choice - convert to Islam or die.

Two gunmen from Boko Haram had seized the Christian teenager in July as she picked corn near her village in the Gwoza hills, a remote part of northeastern Nigeria where a six-month-old government offensive is struggling to contain an insurgency by the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.

In a new development, Boko Haram is abducting Christian women whom it converts to Islam on pain of death and then forces into "marriage" with fighters - a tactic that recalls Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of Uganda.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a minister has warned.

Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.

Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of State designated Boko Haram and a spinoff group called Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations Wednesday (Nov. 13).

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” is responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria, according to the State Department.

The group has stated that it desires to establish a Shariah-law theocracy in Nigeria.

Boko Haram has attacked churches, local police stations, the United Nations building in Abuja, local security offices and an agricultural college. In September, a single attack in northeastern Benisheik killed 160 civilians.

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here in Africa’s most populous country, where an insurgency by the brutal Islamist group Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in recent months, it is easy to despair over sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians – and between Muslims.

Yes, easy to despair, were it not for the remarkable example set by an imam and pastor in Nigeria, an oil-producing country on the West African coast whose population is evenly split between Muslims and Christians. The two men are former militia leaders whose forces directly fought each other, yet they reconciled after each was moved by a sermon on forgiveness – one preached in a mosque, and one in a church. They have been spreading the practice of tolerance and reconciliation for nearly two decades since forming the Interfaith Mediation Center here in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, where I train staff in dialogue techniques that bridge divides of ethnicity and religion.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the drafting committee entrusted with creating Egypt's new constitution, which is to be put to a national referendum next month, races against time to conclude its final product, concern runs high in most rights quarters about what the expected bill would bear for civil, political and other liberties.

Despite the active engagement of the Coptic church in the committee, representing the vast majority of Egyptian Christians, serious concerns remain in numerous Coptic quarters about the new bill's ability to attend to the grave citizenship issues that have plagued them in past decades – not least of which those added during the Muslim Brotherhood's one-year rule and its now suspended 2013 constitution, on whose drafting committee the liberal forces and representatives of the Coptic church had walked out.

"We are concerned, and for a very simple reason: in its entirety, the text of the proposed constitution – as we have been able to figure out depending on the access we have to the committee's work – is not at all successful in eliminating the key causes for compromised citizenship rights that Copts, and Christians in general, have been facing," said Coptic activist Marceiliano Youssef, a member of the Maspero Youth Union and the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights.

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Syria are accusing al-Qaeda-backed Islamists of having carryied out one of the worst atrocities of the war so far, and killed more than 40 members of the minority Christian community during their occupation of the town of Sadad, north of Damascus. The Syrian government announced last week that its forces had regained control of this strategic town.

In a report by the news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Agenzia Fides, the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, said: "Forty-five innocent civilians were martyred for no reason." It was, he said, the "biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two-and-a-half years".

The Archbishop said that he was shocked at the way in which the world was allowing the killing of Christians in Syria to continue. "Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers?"

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Cameron’s plans to issue sharia-compliant bonds open the way to Islamic law being enforced at the heart of government, a senior clergyman has warned.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, said proposals to make Britain the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that complies with sharia could trigger a series of “unforeseen consequences”.

He also voiced broader fears that Christianity was being increasingly excluded from the administration of law, after one of Britain’s most senior judges said members of the judiciary were “secular” figures serving a “multicultural community”.

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“’God of life, lead us to justice and peace’ has become a prayer around the world.” These were words of Dr Wedad Abbas Tawfik about the theme of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly. She shared her experiences and hopes for social and political stability as a Coptic Christian in her country, Egypt.

Tawfik, who was one of the speakers at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, made special reference to the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Egypt and Syria in particular, inviting prayers for peace for the region.

Tawfik was addressing a plenary session of the WCC assembly on 31 October.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living alongside and evangelizing Muslim neighbors has been a recurring theme at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) meeting this week in Nairobi, Kenya. Relations between Anglican Christians and Muslims have been made more complicated in recent years with the rise of radical Islamists and key differences in how Christians and some Muslims understand moral codes and public law.

“Our arguments should have validity and strength in the pubic square, people should see it is focused on love, truth and graciousness,” declared Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali at a GAFCON mini-conference session on Islam held on Thursday. The former bishop of Rochester, England explained that Christians and Muslims have a different attitude about power.

“Islam believes you change the world by gaining power, Christians believe you change the world by a willingness to give up power,” Nazir-Ali assessed. Yet temptation to theocracy, he reported, is everywhere.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesGACON II 2013* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wedding party stood outside the church, eagerly awaiting the ceremonious arrival of the bride. Instead, drive-by shooters killed four, including two children and the groom's mother, and injured 18.

Beyond its poignancy, the attack in Cairo's industrial neighborhood of Warraq was significant for being one of the first to target Egypt's Christians specifically, versus the now-common attacks on their church buildings.

"Since the revolution, this is the first instance Coptic people were targeted randomly in a church, with weapons," said Mina Magdy, general coordinator for the Maspero Youth Union, a mostly Coptic revolutionary group formed in response to church burnings in 2011 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On 22nd of September 2013, around 500 persons gathered for Divine Sunday Service including another 64 children who were present in the Sunday School Center in the Church compound. Two suicide bombers entered in the compound and exploded themselves while the worshipers were coming out at the end of the Service at All Saints Church, Kohati Gate in Peshawar.

This city is the Provincial head and a main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which has borne the brunt of a bloody Islamist insurgency in recent years.

This bloody blast took almost 130 lives and injured 169 persons. 120 People are still in the different hospitals. 12 women become widows, 24 children become orphan and amongst them 18 children lost both parents.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Brotherhood was toppled in Egypt in a July military coup, and former president Mohammad Morsi will go on trial in November. The coup is also threatening the 6-year-old rule of its Palestinian branch, Hamas, in neighboring Gaza, because the Egyptian military has closed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, depriving Hamas of millions of dollars in foreign donations and customs revenue. In several Gulf Arab states, the movement has been targeted in a crackdown, and Tunisia's Brotherhood-dominated government faces a backlash.

"They fail to make the transition from a closed organization into an open and broad-based transparent government," Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics, said of the Brotherhood. "They behaved, while in government, exactly as they behave internally."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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