Kidnapped bishop would want Christians to stay in Syria, says nephew
Bishop Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, was kidnapped last Monday, alongside his counterpart from the Greek Orthodox Church, Bishop Boulos Yaziji, close to the Turkish border.The driver of the vehicle, Fathallah Kaboud, was killed.
Kaboud had been the personal chauffeur of bishop Ibrahim for a number of years. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Reports on Tuesday claimed the bishops had been released, but these were later refuted by church officials.
This latest kidnapping comes a week after bishop Ibrahim told the BBC that there has been no targeting of Christians in Syria during the rebel uprising. Yet on April 17, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham told the press that more than 1,000 Syrian Christians have been killed and 20 churches destroyed.
Egyptian activists: Our religion is none of your business
Since Egypt’s revolution began, tensions among Egypt’s Muslims and Christians have only increased. Earlier this month, it once again turned deadly. Tit-for-tat killings left three Muslims and at least six Christians dead.
That and other religious violence is prompting a public debate about religious identity in Egypt. One group of young Egyptians wants to remove religious labels from national ID cards.
‘Where The Trouble Starts’
Aalam Wassef, one of those advocates, will gladly tell you he’s a video artist, a musician and a publisher. When it comes to his religion, though, he says it’s none of your business.
That’s the motto of his new campaign, too. Wassef, along with two other Egyptians, is calling on others to cover up their religion on their national ID card and start identifying as human first. They’re spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
plays images of a particularly bloody day for Christians last year, when the military — in power at the time — drove over Christian protesters, and state television called on “honorable” Muslims to come out and defend the troops from the Christians. Twenty-seven people were dead by the end of that day.
The lyrics sung to these images are just as chilling: “The racist republic of Egypt, the sectarian republic of Egypt. It’s ingrained on your ID, and this is where the trouble starts.”
“Egypt has a long history of sectarian violence and sectarian issues, which have always been covered up with this narrative of national unity,” Wassef says. “And so it’s a big lie, actually, because there’s a lot of embedded discrimination in the society.”
Brazilians’ ordeal in Senegal prison over, but legal challenges remain
Jose Dilson Da Silva is a missionary with the Brazilian Presbyterian Church in the Senegalese capital Dakar. Zeneide Moreira Novais, who works for Missao Servos, runs an orphanage for street children in Mbour, 80 kilometres south of Dakar.
The Brazilian National Organisation of Evangelical Lawyers for the Defence of Fundamental Civic Freedoms, or ANAJURE, says a final judgment on their case is expected within 30 days of their April 5 release.
Da Silva, who has worked in Senegal since 2005, runs a private school in Dakar. He set up the orphanage and Project Obadiah in 2011 to take children from the streets, house and feed them and provide education and sports activities. Novais works as the orphanage “mother”.
ANAJURE President Uziel Santana told World Watch Monitor that the complaint about forceful conversions of Muslims found a legal foothold in the discovery that Da Silva’s projects had been operating without necessary licenses.
Their troubles began when a father became upset that his son, said to be 17 years old, had learned about Christianity in the project, which has 200 registered children. Local media reported that the teenager “refused to take part in Islamic prayers, and was acting like a Christian”.
Walking corpses in Nigeria
VOM workers say Christians in northern Nigeria are facing unprecedented trials and fierce persecution. It was therefore a special privilege for VOM workers to distribute the gift of 37 bicycles, 15 motorcycles and 50 megaphones to pastors and Christians workers in the north recently. These simple tools will help them evangelize and preach the gospel in northern Nigeria.
At a distribution in Gombe state, one of the hardest hit areas in the north, at least 2,500 Christians gathered for a worship service. Widows, orphans, pastors and entire families from all over Gombe came together to hear a pastor preach about loving their neighbors. The pastor reminded worshipers that they must not hate their attackers and that martyrs like Stephen forgave his attackers.
“At this point, I began to realize the weight of love,” a VOM worker at the distribution said. “This made everyone focus on the Lord’s intent and design for us, which surpasses all understanding.”
Christians are targeted and “butchered like animals” nearly every day in northern Nigerian cities, with little alarm sounded by the international community, according to the VOM worker. Christians are targeted in their homes, at their businesses, on farms, while traveling on highways and even in their churches.