February 2017 Persecution Magazine

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FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


COOKED!<br />

Turkey’s Islamist President<br />

Puts the Final Nail in<br />

the Coffin of 100 Years of<br />

Democracy<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Table of Contents<br />

In This Issue:<br />


14 | An Uncertain Future for<br />

Iraq’s Christians<br />

As ISIS is pushed back by coalition<br />

forces, many Christians are looking towards<br />

a complex and uncertain future.<br />


20 | The Fulani Plague<br />

The view of Fulani attacks is shifting<br />

from disputes between neighbors to one<br />

of jihad and religious targeting.<br />


24 | From Mourning to Joy: Chibok<br />

Girls Restored to Their Families<br />

After more than two years of agonizing<br />

uncertainty, the families of 21 of the<br />

kidnapped Chibok girls were reunited.<br />


26 | The Perfect Excuse: Coup<br />

Attempt in Turkey<br />

Since the July 15, 2016 attempted coup,<br />

unease and confusion rule and many<br />

see little hope for their country in the<br />

near future.<br />

16<br />

LETTER<br />

30 | A Letter to the President<br />

A letter from a persecuted Christian in<br />

Egypt to President Trump.<br />

Regular Features<br />

3 Letter from the President<br />

A few words from ICC’s president, Jeff<br />

King, on Turkey - its location, its history,<br />

and its current leader.<br />

4 World News<br />

A snapshot of the persecution that<br />

impacts our brothers and sisters daily, in<br />

every corner of the world.<br />

8 Your Dollars at Work<br />

Learn how your gifts are providing<br />

comfort, relief, Bibles, education and<br />

vocational training to the persecuted.<br />

12 Impact Report<br />

See this quarter’s statistics of how<br />

ICC’s funds are helping the persecuted<br />

across the globe.<br />

22<br />

26<br />

25<br />

31<br />

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FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


President’s Letter<br />

“‘The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our<br />

bayonets and the faithful our soldiers...’”<br />

- Turkey’s President and Chief Islamist, Recep Erdogan, reciting a poem<br />

Turkey is an incredibly important country in terms of geopolitics and religion.<br />

It has stood as a buffer between Europe and radical Islamist regimes and populaces<br />

in the Middle East. It is also the land bridge between Europe and Asia, and<br />

has been a secular democracy and important ally to the West since the 1920s.<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

At the turn of the century though, the populace elected Recep Erdogan as president, largely as a protest against the longstanding<br />

secular and corrupt ruling party.<br />

Pretending to be a moderate, he has since been revealed to be a radical Islamist and despot who has systematically destroyed<br />

all opposition to his rule and has established himself as an all-powerful, Islamist, semi-dictator.<br />

The Christians and moderate Muslims of Turkey are very fearful of the future, and should be, as Erdogan is quite dangerous<br />

and has shown his desire to rule as dictator.<br />

The Church in Turkey is sure to suffer more and we must be ready to serve them.<br />

So please join with us as we bandage and build His persecuted Church around the world. As always, your donations will be<br />

used efficiently, effectively, and ethically.<br />

I promise!<br />

Jeff King<br />

President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

www.persecution.org<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



News<br />

Eighteen Killed in Al-Shabaab Attack<br />

1 | KENYA In the month of October 2016, the Islamic<br />

terror group al-Shabaab was responsible for killing 18<br />

Christians in the town of Mandera, Kenya. On October<br />

6, six people were murdered when al-Shabaab militants<br />

attacked a residential building. Several more were<br />

wounded. During this attack, the police chief noted<br />

that the al-Shabaab militants were also singling out<br />

non-locals. Thankfully, he also reported that police<br />

intervention prevented further violence and led to the<br />

rescue of 27 others who may have otherwise been<br />

injured or killed.<br />

Later, on October 25, al-Shabaab carried out another<br />

attack on a hotel, killing an additional 12 Christians.<br />

The attackers stormed the front gate with explosives<br />

to gain entry, before fatally shooting residents in their<br />

rooms. These people were all needlessly murdered in<br />

the night simply because of their faith. Shortly after<br />

the attack took place, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility<br />

for the attack.<br />

4<br />

3<br />

1<br />

2<br />

5<br />

6<br />

Eighteen families<br />

and countless loved<br />

ones are now grieving<br />

the loss of their family<br />

members due to these<br />

brutal acts of violence.<br />

Al-Shabaab has justified<br />

violence against<br />

Mandera’s Christian<br />

community by saying<br />

that the attacks are a<br />

response to the Kenyan<br />

military’s presence in<br />

Somalia. Yet, these<br />

attacks and many others<br />

specifically target<br />

Christians, proving<br />

that there is also religious<br />

motivation.<br />

While some parts<br />

of Kenya maintain<br />

relative peace among<br />

differing religious<br />

communities, the border<br />

between Somalia<br />

and Kenya, where<br />

Mandera is located,<br />

is a regular hotspot<br />

for violence against<br />

Christians. Unless the<br />

international Christian<br />

community pays<br />

greater attention to<br />

the senseless violence<br />

taking place in eastern<br />

Africa, Christians in<br />

Mandera will continue<br />

to risk their lives simply<br />

for placing their<br />

faith in Jesus.<br />

He has been<br />

the target of<br />

imprisonment<br />

largely because<br />

of his activity in<br />

the community of<br />

house churches<br />

in Iran.<br />

Iranian Pastor Released from Prison<br />

2 | IRAN Iranian pastor Behnam Irani, 43, was released<br />

from prison on October 18, 2016, after serving almost<br />

six years in prison. Irani was initially arrested and<br />

given a one-year sentence in 2011 based on charges<br />

related to his Christian faith, in the name of “national<br />

security.” He was later told that he would have to serve<br />

an additional five years for a sentence that was previously<br />

suspended.<br />

This is not the first time that Irani was imprisoned.<br />

He was previously arrested in 2006 on similar<br />

charges, but was released only one month later.<br />

He has been the target of imprisonment largely<br />

because of his activity in the community of house<br />

churches in Iran. Even after his arrest in 2006, he<br />

returned to his position<br />

as the pastor of<br />

a 300-member house<br />

church.<br />

At the time of his<br />

release, Irani said<br />

that the conditions<br />

in prison led to various<br />

medical issues,<br />

but he found encouragement<br />

through his<br />

faith. Despite government<br />

pressure to convert,<br />

the pastor stated<br />

that he held fast to<br />

his faith during his<br />

imprisonment.<br />

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FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Anniversary of the Murder of the 21 Martyrs<br />

3 | LIBYA On <strong>February</strong> 15, <strong>2017</strong>, the world is recognizing one of the most heinous acts of violence on the Christian community in recent history:<br />

the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. Two years ago, ISIS released a report showing the photos of the kidnapped Christians. Just days<br />

later, a five-minute video was issued, depicting the beheading of the captives. We consider it the utmost privilege to honor the legacy that these<br />

men have left behind, while praising the Name of Jesus in their final moments.<br />

Pastor and Eight Others Killed by Boko Haram<br />

4 | NIGERIA On October 29, 2016, two attacks led by female suicide<br />

bombers left a Christian pastor and eight other individuals dead in<br />

Maiduguri, Nigeria. It is believed that the women responsible for<br />

the bombings were affiliated with the militant Islamic group Boko<br />

Haram. After declaring their commitment to specifically targeting<br />

Christians, particularly in Nigeria, Boko Haram’s attacks have ravaged<br />

countless Christian communities in West Africa, leaving many<br />

without loved ones or a place to call home.<br />

Christians in Kazakhstan Fined<br />

5 | KAZAKHSTAN Two Christians from the Council of Baptists in<br />

Kazakhstan were issued fines after distributing New Testaments and<br />

other uncensored religious materials to the public. Kazakhstan and<br />

many other countries in Central Asia severely censor religious materials,<br />

often with harsh punishment for violating such censorship restrictions.<br />

For those who refuse to pay fines for refusing to comply with<br />

these policies, punishments can vary from bans on leaving the country<br />

to jail sentences.<br />

House Church Shut Down in China<br />

6 | CHINA Yet another house church has been closed down as part of China’s<br />

ongoing campaign called “Three Rectifications and One Demolition.” The church<br />

was located in the Zhejiang province which has been a major target for government<br />

persecution, due largely in part to its significant Christian population.<br />

Christians and human rights advocates throughout China have found themselves<br />

as victims of imprisonment, church demolitions, and occasionally violence.<br />

The owners of the building were contacted by government officials who<br />

told them that they must cease religious activities due to the fact that religious<br />

activities were taking place in an unregistered building. Despite the ongoing<br />

government crackdown on Christianity, the Church continues to grow. In fact,<br />

the Church is growing so rapidly that experts estimate that China will be home<br />

to the largest Christian population in the world by the year 2030.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



News<br />

3<br />

5<br />

1 2<br />

6<br />

4<br />

Several armed<br />

men stormed<br />

American<br />

missionary<br />

Woodke’s home.<br />

Cairo University Takes Steps to End<br />

Religious Discrimination<br />

1 | EGYPT On October 11, 2016, Gaber Nassar, president<br />

of Egypt’s Cairo University, implemented a major policy<br />

change in order to reduce religious discrimination on<br />

campus. According to the new policies, the school will no<br />

longer require students or faculty to identify their religious<br />

affiliation on university paperwork.<br />

Among other factors, this decision was enacted after<br />

several Christian students came forward claiming that<br />

they were rejected from the school’s Institute of African<br />

Research and Studies program earlier in the year. At least<br />

one student alleged that his application was rejected after<br />

identifying himself as a Christian; the department would<br />

not provide him with a valid reason for his denial from<br />

the program.<br />

While ICC and other human rights groups view this<br />

decision as a clear step in the right direction, some do not<br />

feel similarly. Member of Parliament Atef Makhalif spoke<br />

out strongly against the decision and called for Nassar’s<br />

resignation over the matter. Others, while also in support<br />

of the decision, are hesitant to believe that discrimination<br />

will truly decrease as a result of this policy.<br />

Although it is too soon to predict how effective this<br />

policy will be in protecting religious minorities in<br />

Egypt’s education system, this is an encouraging development<br />

led by a body with a significant amount of influence<br />

in the region.<br />

Muslims and<br />

Christians<br />

Unite<br />

2 | PAKISTAN In an<br />

encouraging step<br />

forward for religious<br />

freedom, Christians<br />

and Muslims in<br />

Pakistan united to<br />

protect a nine-yearold<br />

boy from blasphemy<br />

charges. The<br />

boy and his mother<br />

were taken into custody<br />

by police after<br />

being accused of<br />

allegedly burning<br />

pages of the Quran.<br />

Upon their imprisonment,<br />

protests broke<br />

out among leaders in<br />

both Christian and<br />

Muslim communities.<br />

In response to the<br />

protests and the work<br />

of multiple activists,<br />

the charges were<br />

dropped. Although<br />

this response from<br />

the community is<br />

cause for celebration,<br />

we must be sure<br />

not to ignore the fact<br />

that the government<br />

has begun targeting<br />

minors under blasphemy<br />

laws that<br />

could potentially<br />

lead to the death<br />

penalty.<br />

American Missionary Kidnapped in<br />

Niger<br />

3 | NIGER American missionary Jeff Woodke was<br />

abducted in mid-October while serving in northern<br />

Niger. Woodke was working with a branch of the<br />

ministry organization called Youth With a Mission<br />

(YWAM) at the time of his kidnapping. According<br />

to local authorities, Woodke had been serving the<br />

region for 24 years. His ministry activities were<br />

largely based in community development as he<br />

helped provide better access to education, agricultural<br />

assistance, healthcare and clean water.<br />

It is believed that the kidnappers belong to the<br />

radical Muslim group MUJAO, translated in French<br />

as the acronym for “Movement for Oneness and<br />

Jihad in West Africa.” This group formally entered<br />

the world stage in 2011 after breaking off of the<br />

more widely recognized al-Qaeda in the Islamic<br />

Maghreb (AQIM).<br />

Reports indicate that several armed men stormed<br />

Woodke’s home in the evening, forcibly capturing<br />

him, before fleeing the country with him. Many<br />

suggest that the group took him toward Mali. The<br />

attack has left the local missionary community filled<br />

with both worry and uncertainty. Local ministries<br />

are operating with caution as this is allegedly the<br />

first incident where a Christian missionary has been<br />

kidnapped in the area.<br />

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FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Indonesian police investigate<br />

the church attack that lead to<br />

the death of a two-year-old.<br />

AFP Photo.<br />

Toddler Killed in Church Attack<br />

4 | INDONESIA On November 13, 2016, a church in Samarinda,<br />

Indonesia, was attacked by Muslim radicals believed to be affiliated<br />

with ISIS. During the attack, the perpetrator threw a Molotov cocktail<br />

into a parking lot of children playing, leading to the death of a twoyear-old<br />

Christian girl who sustained burns to three-quarters of her<br />

body. Four other children were hospitalized. The suspect attempted to<br />

flee by jumping into a river, but was apprehended by a group of locals<br />

shortly after and taken to the police station.<br />

Daughter Denied the Burial of Her Mother<br />

5 | KYRGYZSTAN After losing her 76-year-old mother, Jyldyz<br />

Azaeva and her family did not think that their Christian faith would<br />

make the grieving process much more painful. This family in<br />

Kyrgyzstan was forced to bury and exhume their mother three times<br />

over disputes on where she could be buried on account of her faith.<br />

As a Baptist, both the Russian Orthodox and Muslim communities<br />

made the burial process a nightmare until their mother was finally<br />

laid to rest in an undisclosed location.<br />

Christian Family Beaten by Hindu Radicals<br />

6 | INDIA In a brutal attack led by suspected Hindu radicals, a Christian family<br />

was beaten in India after their home was invaded. The attackers stormed into the<br />

home of Sularam Kashyap, his pregnant wife, and his elderly parents, sparing<br />

none of the family members. All four were hospitalized due to the severe beatings.<br />

During their time in the hospital, an aid worker visited the family in order to<br />

obtain their testimony. According to reports, this visit angered the police who<br />

then forced the family to leave the hospital prematurely. Unfortunately, due to<br />

the severity of his condition and being denied adequate care, Sularam’s father<br />

died approximately two weeks after being forced out of the hospital.<br />

Furthermore, due to a social boycott against Christians in his village,<br />

Sularam was initially denied the right to bury his father in the village cemetery<br />

and was only granted access following police intervention.<br />

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Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Hope House<br />

Egypt<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

In November 2016, ICC celebrated the opening<br />

of its first Hope House in Egypt. For<br />

more than two decades, ICC’s mission to the<br />

persecuted has mainly focused on relief, seeking<br />

to bandage the wounds caused by persecution.<br />

Although this relief mission was successful,<br />

it did not address some of the systemic<br />

challenges faced by persecuted Christians<br />

around the world.<br />

To begin solving some of these systemic<br />

challenges, ICC developed a new program<br />

in 2016 called the Hope House. Through this<br />

Hope House program, ICC plans to establish<br />

a holistic center within countries and communities<br />

particularly affected by persecution.<br />

Through these centers, ICC will be able to<br />

provide persecuted Christians with a better<br />

education, micro-finance opportunities,<br />

vocational training, spiritual discipleship, and<br />

holistic community transformation.<br />

After months of fundraising, and thanks<br />

in large part to a generous partner church,<br />

ICC was able to launch its first Hope House<br />

in Egypt in November 2016. To start, Hope<br />

House Egypt will be serving primarily on<br />

three fronts. First, an education center has been<br />

established and renovated, where Christian<br />

children will receive tutoring and have access<br />

to English and computer classes that will make<br />

them more competitive in Egypt’s job market.<br />

To date, Hope House Egypt is already providing<br />

educational support to more than 100<br />

Christian children.<br />

Second, Hope House Egypt seeks to provide<br />

vocational training to Christian individuals<br />

seeking to improve their careers. Thus far,<br />

Hope House Egypt has surveyed the Christian<br />

communities and is preparing a relevant vocational<br />

training program.<br />

Finally, Hope House Egypt has already<br />

started providing access to micro-finance<br />

loans for Christians with quality business<br />

ideas. Hope House Egypt has been able to<br />

provide five micro-finance loans to Christians<br />

in the community it serves thus far.<br />

As ICC continues to support the Hope<br />

House Egypt program, please remember to<br />

keep it in your hearts and prayers.<br />

8 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Supporting<br />

Somali Pastors<br />

Underground Pastors<br />

As Somalia is a safe haven for Islamic<br />

radicals, such as the militant group al-<br />

Shabaab, openly practicing Christianity in<br />

Somalia is a death sentence. It has been among<br />

one of the worst countries for Christian persecution<br />

for decades. Churches are forced to<br />

operate underground for fear of being captured<br />

and punished.<br />

Given these circumstances, it is more<br />

important than ever to continue to provide<br />

financially for those who risk their lives<br />

every day to share the Gospel. ICC provides<br />

monthly support to several underground pastors<br />

in Somalia. This financial assistance<br />

allows each underground pastor to continue<br />

to preach the Gospel and provide for their<br />

congregations.<br />

The generosity of donors makes it possible<br />

for these pastors to continue the work of the<br />

Great Commission in one of the most closed<br />

nations in the world.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


All Saints Church<br />

Anniversary<br />

Suffering Wives & Children<br />

In September 2013, two suicide bombers<br />

attacked All Saints Church in Peshawar,<br />

Pakistan. More than 600 worshipers were<br />

present at the church at the time of the<br />

explosion. When the dust settled, 130<br />

Christians were dead and many more were<br />

seriously injured. Since April 2014, ICC<br />

has assisted the victims of the attack by<br />

providing schooling, medical aid, food, and<br />

psychological healing.<br />

This past September marked the three-year<br />

anniversary of the deadly bombing at All<br />

Saints Church. The survivors and families of<br />

those killed reached out to ICC to help cover<br />

the costs of a memorial service to honor the<br />

martyrs who were killed in the attack. ICC<br />

covered the expenses of the memorial service,<br />

as well as providing food aid, in hopes<br />

of continuing the emotional and psychological<br />

healing for this Christian community<br />

affected by such a tragic loss.<br />

Aid to Family<br />

Devastated by<br />

Al-Shabaab<br />

Suffering Wives & Children<br />

E<br />

vans Araka was one of six Christians who<br />

were killed when al-Shabaab attacked<br />

his residential building in Mandera, Kenya,<br />

on October 6, 2016. He suffered several<br />

shots to the stomach and shrapnel injuries<br />

from exploding grenades that were hurled at<br />

the bedroom where he was sleeping.<br />

Araka left behind his wife and five children.<br />

As the main breadwinner of the family,<br />

his death left his family struggling for<br />

basic necessities. Having spent much of<br />

their valuable resources on funeral costs,<br />

the family was in dire need of assistance.<br />

ICC stepped in and provided enough food<br />

for a month as they mourned the loss of their<br />

loved one.<br />

“You are a miracle today,” said Araka’s<br />

wife, who expressed her deep gratitude to<br />

ICC and its donors.<br />


Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Bibles to<br />

Churches in<br />

Zanzibar<br />

Bibles<br />

On the island of Zanzibar, where the vast<br />

majority of the population is Muslim, the<br />

need to share the Gospel is crucial. Thankfully,<br />

many former Muslims are turning to Christ due<br />

to the work of faithful Christian ministries in<br />

the region. However, financial difficulties and<br />

rural locations have made it difficult for many<br />

new Christians to obtain a Bible of their own.<br />

In early October, ICC provided several<br />

churches in Zanzibar with Bibles to assist them<br />

in their ministries. The six pastors and churches<br />

that ICC worked with have been facing continued<br />

persecution which has left them without<br />

the financial resources to effectively preach and<br />

distribute the Gospel in their communities.<br />

With the help of generous donors, ICC<br />

was able to provide a stockpile of Bibles<br />

to be split among the six pastors who will<br />

distribute them among new believers hungry<br />

for the Word of God. Please remember these<br />

pastors in your prayers as they reach out to<br />

new believers and communities that have yet<br />

to accept the Gospel.<br />

Car Wash Business<br />

for Displaced<br />

Family<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

ISIS attacks have displaced thousands of<br />

Christian families from their homes in Iraq.<br />

The number of Christians living in Iraq has<br />

decreased drastically, from one million in<br />

2003 to approximately 275,000 today.<br />

Simon (name changed for security) was once<br />

a typical 20-year-old college student studying<br />

engineering. However, as ISIS gained increasing<br />

control in Iraq, he and his family were<br />

forced to abandon their home in Qeraqosh.<br />

Shortly after the family’s displacement,<br />

Simon’s father fell ill, shifting some of the<br />

responsibility of providing for the family<br />

onto Simon. Therefore, Simon put his college<br />

career on hold in order to open a car<br />

wash business. ICC provided Simon with the<br />

necessary tools to open up this small business<br />

to support his family. With this business assistance,<br />

Simon and his family will be relieved<br />

of the financial burden they are facing and he<br />

will hopefully be able to return to college once<br />

his family is back on their feet.<br />

While reflecting on the recent changes in<br />

his life, Simon said, “We used to have [an]<br />

amusement park in Qeraqosh, half of it owned<br />

10 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Your Dollar$ at Work<br />

Indian Pastor’s Hearing Restored<br />

Underground Pastors<br />

Last year, an Indian pastor was attacked by<br />

Hindu radicals on his way home from a<br />

service. Pastor Rao was dragged out of his<br />

bus and taken to a deserted area. The attackers<br />

recorded the ordeal during which Pastor Rao<br />

was severely beaten to scare other pastors and<br />

Christians. Although he survived, Pastor Rao<br />

sustained major injury and lost his hearing.<br />

Pastor Rao desperately needed surgery, but<br />

had to borrow the finances to pay for the operation.<br />

Upon learning of his situation, ICC paid<br />

his debt in October. Pastor Rao expressed his<br />

gratitude: “ICC’s help is such great relief, from<br />

the burden of such big loan that would take<br />

years for me to clear, having [a] rural ministry,<br />

and with limited income is almost impossible<br />

to pay back. I praise God for the healing on my<br />

ear, that I am able to continue the ministry.”<br />

by my father and he used to encourage us to<br />

study and he will take care of everything, I<br />

think the day has come [for] us to take care<br />

of him since he is having medical treatment.”<br />

It is ICC’s hope that this business will help<br />

Simon and his family return to a sense of<br />

normalcy, despite the abnormal obstacles that<br />

they are facing.<br />

Simon has also requested prayer for the health<br />

of his father. Medical issues are always difficult,<br />

without the added stress of forced relocation.<br />

Please keep this family in your prayers this year<br />

as they face new challenges, with the encouragement<br />

that their brothers and sisters in Christ<br />

around the world are supporting them.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Aiding & Encouraging Indonesian Church<br />

Where Most Needed<br />

Pastor N. (name changed for security) and<br />

his congregation in Aceh, Indonesia,<br />

are forced to hold services in a tent<br />

because their church has been destroyed.<br />

There is no electricity or shelter from<br />

mosquitos. Despite these obstacles, the<br />

believers still faithfully worship God in the<br />

makeshift church.<br />

In October, a representative of ICC visited<br />

the congregation and met with the pastor.<br />

During the visit, ICC was able to organize aid<br />

and encourage the believers in Aceh.<br />

According to Pastor N. the church has been<br />

unable to secure a license to construct a new<br />

building. Nonetheless, he is confident in<br />

God’s grace and ability to continue to see the<br />

body of Christ grow in Indonesia.<br />


Impact Report<br />


NEEDED<br />



and CHILDREN<br />





low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

2016 Q3 2016 Q3 2016 Q3<br />


• Due to the campaign of violence led by<br />

Boko Haram throughout Nigeria, countless<br />

Christian families have been displaced<br />

from their homes and forced to<br />

live in internally displaced people (IDP)<br />

camps. While meeting their immediate<br />

needs, such as food and shelter, is<br />

an essential part of ICC’s ministry, it is<br />

also important to address the long-term<br />

effects of persecution. ICC has been<br />

able to support a school for displaced<br />

Christian children so that, even though<br />

they are away from home, they can still<br />

receive a quality education.<br />

• In September, ICC helped coordinate and<br />

fund a memorial prayer service in commemoration<br />

of the 2013 bombing of All<br />

Saints Church in Pakistan. During the<br />

service, candles were lit in honor of the<br />

martyrs, Scripture was read, and there<br />

was a time of prayer before the families<br />

of those affected by the bombing gathered<br />

for a meal.<br />

• One of the major roadblocks to success<br />

for North Korean defectors is adjusting<br />

to life in an entirely new community. In<br />

a school for defector children, ICC helps<br />

provide basic needs as they cope with a<br />

constantly changing life. Last year, ICC<br />

provided 28 bunk beds to the school in<br />

order to replace the old furniture that was<br />

worn down.<br />

• The Bridge, the annual conference on the<br />

persecuted Church, is a movement bringing<br />

together the Church along with leaders from<br />

Congress, government and other nongovernment<br />

organizations (NGOs) to learn from each<br />

other about how to connect and fight for the<br />

persecuted Church. ICC held its first Bridge<br />

in 2016 and began initial planning for the The<br />

Bridge <strong>2017</strong>. This year, we will focus on the<br />

prison state of North Korea. We are calling the<br />

Church together to pray and to work proactively<br />

with NGOs and the US government to bring<br />

down the world’s evil regime and break the<br />

chains of the persecuted in North Korea.<br />

• In an effort to combat the abduction,<br />

forced conversion, and forced marriage of<br />

Christian women in Egypt, ICC’s advocacy<br />

department initiated a petition. We gathered<br />

more than 5,500 signatures. The international<br />

reach of ICC’s petitions and its<br />

followers serves as a major benefit in ICC’s<br />

work with international governments.<br />

• One of the most crucial parts of ICC’s<br />

ministry is the on-the-ground operations. In<br />

order to ensure that projects are effectively<br />

and efficiently implemented, ICC staff regularly<br />

travels overseas to provide aid and<br />

verify project implementation. In a trip that<br />

spanned countries in both the Middle East<br />

and South Asia, ICC was able to meet with<br />

local partners and persecution victims who<br />

have received assistance.<br />

• In 2013, several churches in Indonesia were<br />

forced to close their doors after radical Islamic<br />

groups gained influence within government<br />

operations. However, after receiving the<br />

miraculous news that they were permitted to<br />

reopen, the church thanked God for answering<br />

their prayers. With the help of generous<br />

donors, ICC provided this church with the<br />

means to rebuild and renovate, which would<br />

not have been possible otherwise due to the<br />

church’s limited financial resources.<br />

• Fulani attacks have ravaged many Christian<br />

communities across Nigeria. In these<br />

attacks, there are often many warning signs<br />

that signal that an attack is coming. In order<br />

to prevent future attacks, ICC provided<br />

several villages in Nigeria with two-way<br />

radios. With these devices, village leaders<br />

are able to connect with one another to warn<br />

them of impending attacks in order to protect<br />

their communities and prevent as much<br />

violence as possible.<br />

• As ISIS gained influence throughout the<br />

Middle East, thousands upon thousands<br />

of Christian families were forced to leave<br />

their homes in Iraq. One group of 10<br />

Christian families in particular relocated<br />

to a compound of tents located on a church<br />

yard. Due to their struggle to provide for<br />

themselves during this difficult time, ICC<br />

stepped in to provide food packages and<br />

shelter to the families in need.<br />

12 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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Impact Report<br />

HAND OF<br />

HOPE<br />







low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

low medium high<br />

2016 Q3 2016 Q3 2016 Q3<br />


• While countries in Central Asia do not<br />

receive the media attention that many<br />

other countries do, government-led persecution<br />

makes life for Christian leaders<br />

in the region very difficult. ICC had the<br />

opportunity to partner with pastors in<br />

several Central Asian countries in order<br />

to support them financially in their ministries<br />

so that they can continue sharing the<br />

Gospel in this region.<br />

• Since the rise to power of the Bharatiya<br />

Janata Party (BJP) in India’s 2014 general<br />

elections, Christians have seen a sharp<br />

increase in persecution. Last year, two<br />

pastors were attacked by Hindu radicals in<br />

two separate attacks. One pastor sustained<br />

a back injury and the other pastor suffered<br />

from internal injuries. With the support of<br />

donors, ICC covered the medical expenses<br />

that these pastors needed in order to<br />

provide them with encouragement as well<br />

as a full physical recovery.<br />

• In the summer of 2016, a pastor in Nigeria<br />

lost his wife in an act of violence led<br />

by Muslim radicals accusing her of blasphemy.<br />

While ultimately there is no way<br />

to bring back this pastor’s wife or ease his<br />

pain, ICC provided the pastor with a much<br />

needed food package and words of encouragement<br />

as a sign of solidarity among the<br />

Church during his time of grief.<br />

• A Christian man in Kenya found himself<br />

among the wounded during an al-<br />

Shabaab shooting in the summer of<br />

2015 after being shot in the hand. While<br />

the government provided for his initial<br />

medical treatment, his injuries were<br />

severe enough to require further surgery<br />

in order to regain full function. ICC covered<br />

the cost of his surgery to help him<br />

on the path to full recovery.<br />

• Societal discrimination prevents many<br />

Christians in Egypt from adequately<br />

providing for their families. Many are<br />

relegated to manual labor. Due to health<br />

issues, a Christian man was unable to<br />

work in this field and was left without<br />

a sustainable income. In order to assist<br />

him, ICC established a transportation<br />

business which will help him provide<br />

for his family.<br />

• In 2012, Hindu radicals in India attacked<br />

a Christian pastor and accused him and<br />

his church members of forcing conversions.<br />

On these unfounded accusations,<br />

police arrested the pastor shortly thereafter.<br />

Through ICC’s Hand of Hope - Legal<br />

Fund, ICC provided a lawyer for the<br />

pastor to assist him in the ensuing legal<br />

battle. Thankfully, the courts cleared the<br />

pastor of all charges, allowing him to<br />

return to his ministry.<br />

• In Upper Egypt, children of impoverished<br />

Christian families often do not have the<br />

same opportunities that children in other<br />

communities have. In partnership with<br />

a local ministry, ICC is able to provide<br />

these children with the tools for success<br />

that they may not otherwise receive, such<br />

as school supplies, medical care, food,<br />

and Christian mentorship.<br />

• The harsh reality in many countries is<br />

that children are often not spared from<br />

persecution. A young student in Pakistan,<br />

who is the only Christian in her class,<br />

often found herself as the target of harassment<br />

from other students and occasionally<br />

even faculty. Once, conflict escalated<br />

so severely that a teacher fractured<br />

the girl’s hand by punishing her with a<br />

cricket bat. In order to ease her pain,<br />

ICC covered the medical expenses from<br />

the incident and provided a food package<br />

to the family.<br />

• In 2008, anti-Christian riots in Orissa,<br />

India, left many Christian children<br />

orphaned. Years ago, ICC provided a new<br />

home for these children by setting up an<br />

orphanage for Christian children who lost<br />

their families in the riots. In this ongoing<br />

program, children receive an education,<br />

food, a place to call home, and, most<br />

importantly, the Gospel.<br />

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ICC Exclusive<br />

An Uncertain<br />

Future for<br />

Iraq’s Christians<br />

As ISIS is pushed back by coalition forces, many Christians are left<br />

looking towards a complex and uncertain future.<br />

By William Stark<br />

I<br />

was living with my husband and two<br />

sons when ISIS attacked Qeraqosh.<br />

We were lucky as we had sent our<br />

daughter out of the village a week<br />

earlier to be with her aunt.”<br />

Sana’a was speaking of that fateful<br />

day in 2014 when ISIS militants<br />

began their assault on Christian towns<br />

and villages across the Nineveh Plain,<br />

the homeland of Iraq’s Christians, to<br />

establish their caliphate in northern Iraq.<br />

“Our house was far from the center of the<br />

city,” Sana’a explained. “That’s why we didn’t<br />

know that ISIS occupied our city and why we<br />

didn’t try to flee right away. After three days,<br />

we realized that ISIS occupied our town. We<br />

tried to hide in our house, but three armed men<br />

broke the lock on the gate and then knocked<br />

down the door when we didn’t reply to their<br />

knocking. That was when the most terrible<br />

period of my life started.”<br />

Immediately, the armed men took the<br />

“<br />

Christian family to a local mosque where<br />

other Christian families were also gathered.<br />

The Christian men and women were then<br />

separated by the armed men they soon discovered<br />

were ISIS militants.<br />

“They told us that they would be releasing<br />

the elderly women,” Sana’a continued. “When<br />

they started separating us, I realized that this was<br />

the last time that I would see my husband and<br />

two sons. I wish that they would have left my<br />

youngest son with me at least. But they didn’t.<br />

When they forced [the elderly women] to leave<br />

the mosque, my youngest son waved his hand<br />

at me, telling me not to leave. I can’t forget my<br />

son waving his hand. I didn’t have [a] choice.”<br />

Over 200,000 Christians were forced to<br />

flee their homes, becoming either internally<br />

displaced people (IDPs) in Kurdistan or refugees<br />

abroad.<br />

Since ISIS captured international headlines<br />

over two years ago, many have questioned<br />

what the future holds for Iraq’s Christians.<br />

Often, this gets broken down into a simple<br />

dichotomy. Will the violence unleashed by<br />

ISIS cause Iraqi Christians to fade into the<br />

pages of history or will Iraqi Christians, now<br />

more visible on an international level, rebuild<br />

the towns and villages devastated by ISIS?<br />

Unfortunately, both the questions and the<br />

answers surrounding the uncertain future of<br />

Iraq’s Christians are likely more complex.<br />

Despite its complexity, the future of Christianity<br />

in Iraq is one of the most important issues that<br />

must be answered for the Church today.<br />

Life as an IDP<br />

Truly, no one will be able to detail the full<br />

suffering endured by Christians during the<br />

initial stages of the crisis. Many were faced<br />

with life or death decisions, like Sana’a and<br />

her family, and were forced into IDP camps<br />

spread across northern Iraq.<br />

Those who were displaced were totally<br />

14 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced by ISIS; many Christian communities were afraid to move into IDP camps because<br />

of safety concerns, so they chose to live in tents on church properties or move into half-finished construction sites as seen above.<br />

dependent on aid from both the international<br />

community and local churches. The numbers<br />

of internal refugees were massive and little<br />

attention could be given beyond meeting their<br />

needs beyond basic survival.<br />

“After more than two years of displacement,<br />

we have noticed a difference in<br />

Christians’ situation,” Rabea Soran, an IDP<br />

camp manager in Erbil, told ICC. “Still, the<br />

situation doesn’t meet the minimum requirement<br />

of a suitable life.”<br />

“I can remember how Christians lived here<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


and there and everywhere in parks for several<br />

months,” Soran recalled. “Some of them were<br />

able to move to caravans, others to unfinished<br />

buildings during the first year.”<br />

Despite sheltering in Erbil for two years,<br />

many Christians still struggled to meet basic<br />

needs. “Christians couldn’t find good jobs in<br />

Kurdistan to support their families because the<br />

government was already overloaded because<br />

of the war,” Soran explained. “Also, the official<br />

language here is Kurdish and no one speaks it,<br />

so it’s hard for Christian IDPs to communicate.”<br />

“Most Christian IDPs are completely<br />

dependent on the aid they get from churches<br />

and non-profits,” Soran continued. While<br />

that’s painful, their most haunting question<br />

is when and how they can get back to their<br />

homes and what life will be like after ISIS.<br />

A Fighter’s Perspective<br />

As many Christian IDPs look with uncertainty<br />

towards the future, there are some among<br />

them who are taking action in order to secure<br />


The entrance to a church ransacked by ISIS in Qeraqosh.<br />

their own vision of that uncertain future.<br />

Last October, the long anticipated operation<br />

to liberate Mosul and the other areas occupied<br />

by ISIS began. Christian militants among<br />

the IDPs participated in the operations that<br />

ultimately recaptured many of the homes and<br />

businesses formally seized by ISIS.<br />

“We attacked Qeraqsoh with the Iraqi army<br />

and Christian [militia] NPU,” Habib, a member<br />

of the Nineveh Plains Protection Units<br />

(NPU), told ICC. “ISIS didn’t put up much<br />

resistance and everyone thought that Qeraqosh<br />

had been recaptured.”<br />

“An experienced general commanded us to<br />

withdraw from part of Qeraqosh and saved<br />

many lives because ISIS started a heavy attack<br />

that night,” Habib said. “At 10:00 p.m., ISIS<br />

fighters started attacking from tunnels we<br />

discovered. These tunnels lead to Mosul. ISIS<br />

must have asked for support from Mosul and<br />

that’s why they didn’t resist at the beginning.<br />

The length of tunnel was 27 kilometers.”<br />

When the operation to liberate Mosul and<br />

the surrounding areas began, Christian militias<br />

insisted on participating in the fight, Habib<br />

explained to ICC. “After what happened in<br />

2003, both the Shia and Sunni Muslims and<br />

even the Kurds created their own militias. The<br />

Christians didn’t though. They had neither<br />

the arms or the political vision. There was<br />

no Christian militia until ISIS devastated the<br />

Christian villages, and then the Christian militias<br />

formed,” Habib said.<br />

Early in the morning of May 3, 2016, ISIS<br />

fighters launched a heavy attack on Telskuf,<br />

a Christian village near Alqosh, where Habib<br />

and other Christian militias were stationed.<br />

Similar to other Christian villages in the<br />

Nineveh Plain, Telskuf residents had deserted<br />

the village in the summer of 2014 when ISIS<br />

swept through the region. In late 2014, ISIS<br />

forces withdrew from the village, which was<br />

recaptured by the Kurdish Peshmerga and,<br />

more recently, guarded by Christian militias.<br />

“We were able to prove ourselves as<br />

Christian forces when ISIS attacked Telskuf,”<br />

Habib told ICC. “I saw that Christian women<br />

were kidnapped and no one hurried to help.<br />

“Most Christian<br />

IDPs are completely<br />

dependent on the<br />

aid they get from<br />

churches and nonprofits.”<br />


IN ERBIL<br />

ISIS took everything and no one was able<br />

to push them back far from our families,<br />

region and belongings. That’s why I joined the<br />

Christian forces.”<br />

When asked about what the future holds for<br />

Iraq’s Christians, Habib explained that there is<br />

wide disagreement over what’s next. “Many<br />

say they will not go back without guarantees<br />

and restitution,” Habib said. “More than 60<br />

percent of homes are destroyed and burnt. My<br />

parents had nine homes; seven of them are<br />

destroyed.”<br />

For Habib, who has already risked his life to<br />

push back ISIS, the future is much clearer. “As<br />

soon as the government provides clean water<br />

and electricity in Qeraqosh, I will be living<br />

there again,” Habib stated with confidence.<br />

“Most people will not be doing the same.”<br />

A Community Destroyed<br />

Weeks after Qeraqosh was secured in<br />

October 2016, many displaced Christians<br />

began visiting the area once considered Iraq’s<br />

largest Christian town. Curious to see what<br />

remained, many were devastated to discover<br />

that they had lost everything. From homes,<br />

to places of worship, to vehicles, everything<br />

in Qeraqosh has been marred by ISIS and the<br />

battle to drive them out.<br />

For many Christian IDPs, the prospect of<br />

16 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


“Our country is like<br />

this for Christians...<br />

It’s hard to live, it’s<br />

hard to leave and you<br />

don’t have any other<br />

comfortable choice.”<br />



returning to these homes and trying to rebuild<br />

their communities in Iraq looks to be a daunting<br />

task. Furthermore, the Christian community of<br />

many villages will forever be changed by the<br />

fact that many Christians fled Iraq as refugees.<br />

“I am happy that my two brothers arrived in<br />

Germany with their families because they went<br />

through the sea,” Rami Hekmat, a 28-year-old<br />

Christian from Qeraqosh, told ICC. “But at<br />

the same time, life will not be the same if my<br />

family goes back to Qeraqosh. I used to work<br />

with my brothers for many years, but because<br />

of ISIS they left. Moving back to Qeraqosh<br />

will never be the same.”<br />

“Our country is like this for Christians,”<br />

Hekmat concluded to ICC. “It’s hard to live,<br />

it’s hard to leave and you don’t have any other<br />

comfortable choice.”<br />

An Uncertain Leadership<br />

Even among the Christian leadership of<br />

Iraq, there is uncertainty over what the future<br />

holds for their community.<br />

“Sure, we don’t want Christians to leave<br />

the country,” Archbishop Nicodemus, the<br />

Syriac-Orthodox Bishop of Mosul, told ICC.<br />

“Because immigration is another type of<br />

death. It’s an unknown fate.”<br />

“We want Christians to stay, but only if they<br />

are given dignity.” Nicodemus continued. “In<br />

many ways, we are strangers in our homeland.<br />

We are minorities in this country, we have<br />

been killed and we have been robbed here.”<br />

“No one is sure what the future for<br />

Christians in Iraq is,” Pastor Malath of<br />

Alliance International Church in Erbil simply<br />

told ICC.<br />

As Iraq’s Christians face this complex<br />

and uncertain future, ICC is committed to<br />

supporting this devastated community. To<br />

date, ICC has spent hundreds of thousands<br />

of dollars providing relief for those displaced<br />

and affected by ISIS. Looking forward, ICC<br />

will remain committed to helping rebuild<br />

the Christian communities of northern Iraq.<br />

Whether it be rebuilding homes, repairing<br />

churches, or restarting businesses, ICC is<br />

prepared to stand as one body with these<br />

Christian brothers and sisters.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Top: These Christians displaced by ISIS violence chose to live outside of IDP camps in a<br />

construction site that became an unofficial Christian IDP camp.<br />

Middle: ICC staff follows a member of the liberation militia into one of the many tunnels<br />

ISIS dug throughout Qeraqosh.<br />

Bottom: Shops and businesses along a main street in Qeraqosh were burned by ISIS as they<br />

pulled out of the city. ISIS has left scars that will take many years to heal and rebuild.<br />


ICC’S<br />





MAY/JUNE <strong>2017</strong> - TBD<br />

Breaking the Chains of<br />

North Korea<br />

At Saddleback Church<br />

Los Angeles, CA<br />

www.thepersecutionconference.org<br />

18<br />


“Imagine what the Church could do if it tore down<br />

the denominational, ideological, and societal fences<br />

that separate us. Imagine if the Church, leaders of the<br />

US government, and ministry leaders came together in<br />

unity against the persecutors with prayer and action.<br />

The Word tells us that the Lord commands a blessing<br />

where there is unity. In unity, we shall do what none<br />

of us could do separately. Together, we will tear<br />

down the gates of hell and break the chains<br />

to set the prisoners free.”<br />

Jeff King<br />

President<br />

ICC<br />

The Bridge is an annual<br />

conference for the persecuted<br />

Church where the Church, government<br />

leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and<br />

ministries unite to break the chains of the persecuted.<br />

Join us at Saddleback Church in Los Angeles for<br />

The Bridge <strong>2017</strong>: NK-LA.<br />

For the latest info, visit:<br />

www.thepersecutionconference.org<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />




PLAGUE<br />

When the Fulani attacks first began, many saw<br />

them as farming and herding disputes between<br />

neighbors, but as their armory increases and<br />

their attacks grow in number, the narrative is<br />

shifting to one of jihad and religious targeting.<br />

By Sandra Elliot<br />

Fulani nomads herd their<br />

flock through the brush in<br />

central Nigeria. Though not<br />

all Fulanis are part of militias,<br />

as attacks on Christian<br />

farming villages continue<br />

and raiding parties gain<br />

better arms, the death toll<br />

continues to grow. Flickr<br />

Creative Commons image<br />

by user Rita Willaert.<br />

20 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />



GTI RANK 3<br />

GTI SCORE 9.213<br />


Private citizens & property<br />

Military, militia or terrorist groups<br />

Religious<br />

Business<br />

Other<br />


Boko Haram<br />

Unknown<br />

Fulani militants<br />

Other<br />

In 2014 Nigeria experienced the biggest yearly deterioration in<br />

terrorism on record. There were 5,662 more people killed from<br />

terrorism in 2014 than in 2013, an increase of almost 300 per cent.<br />

This is largely due to the increasing ruthlessness of Boko Haram,<br />

an Islamist terrorist group based in north-east Nigeria.<br />

Boko Haram was the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2014<br />

killing 6,118 people in Nigeria through terrorist attacks. In 2013<br />

Boko Haram had killed 1,595 people. Despite this very large<br />

increase in deaths, the proportion of the total deaths that Boko<br />

Haram was responsible for fell slightly. In 2013 Boko Haram was<br />

responsible for 86 per cent of deaths in Nigeria, whereas in 2014<br />

they were responsible for 81 per cent.<br />

The reason for this change is the Fulani militants who killed 1,229<br />

people in 2014, up from 63 in 2013. They now pose a serious threat<br />

to stability. There has been an ongoing conflict over access and<br />

control of land between the semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen and<br />

farmers in north-eastern Nigeria. There have been reports of a link<br />

between Boko Haram and Fulani militants, 63 particularly in regards<br />

to smuggling and organised crime. However, unlike Boko Haram<br />

who are now affiliated with ISIL and align with Deaths<br />

the establishment<br />

of a caliphate, the Fulani militants have very localised goals,<br />

mainly greater access to grazing lands for livestock.<br />

In Nigeria private citizens are overwhelmingly targeted, most often<br />

with firearms resulting in very high levels of deaths per attack. In<br />

2014 Boko Fulani Haram killed militants on average 15 people were per responsible<br />

attack whereas<br />

Fulani militants killed eight per attack.<br />


662<br />

DEAD<br />


2000<br />

7,512<br />



DAMAGE<br />

1,512<br />


7,512<br />

Most terrorist attacks were in the northeast of Nigeria where<br />

Boko Haram is based, with 40 per cent of attacks in their home<br />

state of Borno. The most attacks were seen in Maiduguri, the<br />

regional capital of Borno State, and Kano in northern Nigeria<br />

which is the second largest city in Nigeria. There were 146<br />

cities that had at least ten people killed from terrorist attacks<br />

in 2014 and 19 cities that had at least 100 people killed. The<br />

two areas with the most deaths from terrorism were Konduga<br />

with 444 and Maiduguri with 431 deaths. Konduga is a<br />

community in Borno State with a population of less than<br />

20,000. Konduga served as a minor base for Boko Haram<br />

members which led to government forces clashing with Boko<br />

Haram members in early 2015.<br />

The nature of terrorism in Nigeria is different to Iraq and<br />

Afghanistan. Terrorist activity in Nigeria has more in<br />

common with the tactics of organised crime and gangs,<br />

focusing more on armed assaults using firearms and knives<br />

than on the bombings of other 1,229<br />

large terrorist groups.<br />

Firearms were used in over half of all attacks in Nigeria and<br />

were responsible for 67 per cent Deaths<br />

of all deaths by Boko Haram<br />

and 92 per cent of deaths from Fulani militants.<br />

Whilst previously the use of suicide attacks by Boko Haram was<br />

rare, in 2014 they were responsible for 31 suicide attacks with an<br />

average of nearly 15 deaths per attack. The majority of these<br />

Fulani attacks were militants against private were citizens responsible<br />

and education and religious<br />

institutions. No other group in conducted suicide attacks<br />

for 1229 deaths in Nigeria in 2014.<br />

in 2014.<br />

GLOBAL TERRORISM INDEX 2015 | Results<br />

*Data gathered from Global Terrorism Index, 2015, p. 22, 43-44<br />

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2014<br />

2,246<br />

+7,492<br />


An attack at a mosque killed 122<br />

people and injured 270 when Boko<br />

Haram set off explosives and shot at<br />

worshippers fleeing.<br />

Nigeria spread in the Institute for Economics & Peace’s 2015 Global Terrorism<br />

Index Report, page 22. Nigeria experienced a sharp increase in terror-related<br />

deaths and an extremely high rate of targeting civilians in 2014.<br />

Focus on Fulani Militants *<br />

In 2013: In 2014:<br />

for 63 deaths in Nigeria in 2013.<br />

= 25 People<br />

That is almost a 2000% increase<br />

92% Civilian Attacks<br />

81% Civilian Deaths<br />

In 2014, Fulani militants overwhelmingly targeted private civilians<br />

and not security forces. Civilian targets accounted for 92 percent of<br />

Fulani attacks and 81 percent of Fulani victims – one of the highest<br />

civilian target rates by any terror group in the world.<br />

The annual cycle of a<br />

family farm has been<br />

the same for millennia<br />

and is the same the<br />

world over; plant and<br />

plow, reap and sow.<br />

Nigeria’s Christian<br />

farmers formerly lived<br />

under the simple discipline<br />

of this annual<br />

cycle until 15 years ago when they started to<br />

regularly face the storms of attacks by Fulani<br />

Islamist militias that are attempting to cleanse<br />

the land of Christians by burning their crops<br />

and homes and slaughtering their families.<br />

“They came upon us suddenly,” a survivor<br />

told ICC, “I struggled with the attackers to<br />

escape from my house. I was fleeing with my<br />

children when the bullets hit me.”<br />

When Fulani militants raid a village, they<br />

usually do so at night, armed with machetes<br />

and heavy firearms, murdering anyone in their<br />

path and leaving whole towns ablaze.<br />

The Fulani militants are a Muslim tribe that<br />

spans several African countries. They are a nomadic<br />

people who go wherever their cattle can find<br />

feeding grounds, too often on Christian farms.<br />

While Boko Haram grabs most of the<br />

headlines in Nigeria, the Fulani were killing<br />

Christians there for years before the existence<br />

of Boko Haram. What is staggering is the<br />

growth in deaths attributed to Fulani attacks<br />

– from 63 people in 2013 to 1,229 in 2014<br />

(Global Terrorism Index, 2015, p. 44).<br />

The maddening part about the massive<br />

number of attacks and deaths is that few outside<br />

of Nigeria are even aware of the scale<br />

of what’s happening. Even worse is the fact<br />

that Nigeria hasn’t made serious headway in<br />

protecting the Christian victims from Fulani<br />

militant attacks.<br />

Unfortunately, Nigeria’s armed forces are<br />

controlled by Muslims and the government is<br />

riddled with those protecting and even abetting<br />

these terrorist groups.<br />

22<br />

<strong>February</strong> 21-24, 2016<br />

In <strong>February</strong> of 2016, the Fulanis attacked<br />

10 villages in Benue state, killing over 500.<br />

The United Nation’s High Commissioner in<br />

Nigeria, Angele Dikongue Atangana, said<br />

at the time that it was the most destructive<br />

attack she had seen in her more than 20 years<br />

of experience.<br />

Carrying their trademark AK-47 rifles, the<br />

militants invaded the villages and farming<br />

settlements, gunning down children, women,<br />

men and elderly alike.<br />

When aid groups and journalists arrived<br />

on the scene, corpses littered the roads in<br />

various stages of decomposition as the killings<br />


Feature Article<br />

Predominately Christian<br />

farming communities in<br />

the Middle Belt of Nigeria<br />

remain in constant fear of<br />

Fulani militias raiding and<br />

killing in their villages. Flickr<br />

Creative Commons image by<br />

user Conflict & Development<br />

at Texas A&M.<br />

occurred at different times. After the assault,<br />

when relatives of the deceased returned for<br />

the bodies of their loved ones, they were often<br />

ambushed and likewise slaughtered by the<br />

Fulani militants.<br />

Aside from the sheer magnitude of the attack,<br />

the Benue massacre marked a turning point<br />

for Fulani militant aggression. While previous<br />

attacks by Fulanis were confined to the Middle<br />

Belt regions of Nigeria, Benue is a southern<br />

state. This was the first time that the terrorists<br />

showed territorial expansion past central Nigeria.<br />

Reverend Yunusa Nmadu, chairman of the<br />

Kaduna Central District Church Council, told<br />

ICC that they have seen a significant increase<br />

in attacks from Fulani militants in 2016.<br />

“In previous years, it was an average of [one]<br />

attack in four months,” he said. “This year it has<br />

become two attacks per week average.”<br />

October 15, 2016<br />

“It came to us like it was the end of life,”<br />

Jummai Awuje, 65, told ICC, “The attackers<br />

came upon us suddenly so we fled for our lives<br />

carrying nothing…my husband was killed, his<br />

brother who was our breadwinner was also<br />

killed in the attack.”<br />

Awuje escaped with her children and grandchildren,<br />

running more than two kilometers<br />

to the nearest hospital. They have nothing left<br />

but the clothes on their back. Awuje was one<br />

of the more fortunate survivors of the October<br />

“We fled for our<br />

lives carrying<br />

nothing…my<br />

husband was killed,<br />

his brother who was<br />

our breadwinner<br />

was also killed.”<br />



15 attack in Godogodo, Nigeria.<br />

By the end of the assault, 40 Christians<br />

had died. It took days before the dead could<br />

be buried, as the Fulani militants stayed to<br />

occupy farms and loot crops.<br />

The attack in Godogodo was strategically<br />

planned and timed. According to some in the<br />

village, Muslim villagers conveniently left<br />

their homes a day before the attack.<br />

“There are Muslims and Fulanis in<br />

Godogodo, but we discovered that they had<br />

secretly informed them to move out ahead of<br />

the attack,” one survivor told ICC.<br />

Thousands were displaced following the<br />

attack and are now living as internally displaced<br />

people in their own country.<br />

“My very pressing need is survival—food<br />

for my family,” a survivor told ICC, “We<br />

Christians are all scattered in different places.”<br />

October 27, 2016<br />

Two weeks after the Godogodo massacre,<br />

Fulani militants killed another seven<br />

Christians in four different villages. Pasakori,<br />

Mile One, Misisi, and Tudn-Wadea in Kaduna<br />

state were all attacked.<br />

Southern Kaduna once maintained a longstanding<br />

peace with the Fulani tribes, leading<br />

many to wonder why such historical peace<br />

should be disturbed for no apparent reason.<br />

“The sudden turn of events where herdsmen<br />

have taken up arms against their host communities<br />

is giving us a serious cause for concern,”<br />

read a statement from the Kaduna state elders<br />

after the attack.<br />

November 13, 2016<br />

Within days, Fulani militants numbering<br />

around 200 attacked four more villages in the<br />

Kauru local area of Nigeria’s Kaduna state.<br />

This time, 34 villagers were butchered, some<br />

beyond recognition.<br />

“We did mass burials today in two locations,”<br />

an official of the Chawai Community<br />

Development Association told ICC at the time.<br />

“The attackers came over the hills, first in two<br />

22 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Sokoto<br />

Kebbi<br />

Zamfara<br />

Katsina<br />

Kano<br />

Jigawa<br />

Yobe<br />

Borno<br />

Oyo<br />

Ogun<br />

Lagos<br />

Niger<br />

Kwara<br />

Ekiti<br />

Osun<br />

Ondo<br />

Edo<br />

Delta<br />

Abuja<br />

Kogi<br />

Kaduna<br />

Nasarawa<br />

Benue<br />

Enugu<br />

Ebonyi<br />

Anambra<br />

Cross<br />

River<br />

Abia<br />

Imo<br />

Bauchi<br />

Plateau<br />

Taraba<br />

Gombe<br />

Adamawa<br />

Nigeria<br />

Middle Belt region<br />

Bayelsa<br />

Rivers<br />

Akwa<br />

Ibom<br />

Area of particular concern<br />

States with major Fulani massacres<br />

in 2016<br />

groups, then converging into one, firing gun<br />

shots and moving in on the cluster of villages.”<br />

The Southern Kaduna People’s Union,<br />

speaking on behalf of the people, urged the<br />

Nigerian government to protect its citizens<br />

from such butchery. One of the mass graves<br />

held three generations of one family.<br />

“It is now abundantly clear to even the worst<br />

skeptics that southern Kaduna has become a<br />

killing field, where genocide is taking place<br />

unabated,” they wrote in a press statement.<br />

A Narrative Shift<br />

The Fulani militant incursion has brought a<br />

new level of devastation to Christians living in<br />

the Middle Belt of Nigeria. These blitzkrieg massacres<br />

wipe out entire communities at a time and<br />

create a manner of religious war in the country.<br />

When the Fulani attacks first began, many<br />

saw them as farming and herding disputes<br />

between neighbors. But as their armory<br />

increases and their attacks grow in number,<br />

the narrative is shifting to one of jihad and<br />

religious targeting.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


“This is an aggressive attack on peaceloving,<br />

innocent natives,” Reverend Yunusa<br />

Nmadu told ICC. “We hear that they appeal to<br />

other Fulanis in other countries to come help<br />

them persecute and ethnically cleanse and<br />

fight to occupy.”<br />

The jihadi narrative also comes from the obvious<br />

connection between Boko Haram and the<br />

Fulani terrorists. Where else could poor nomadic<br />

herdsmen acquire military weapons and ammunition<br />

on a large scale other than from the existing<br />

terrorist network in Nigeria and elsewhere.<br />

The difference is in their ambitions.<br />

Boko Haram has political objectives and<br />

works to indoctrinate fellow Nigerians to join<br />

their cause via terrorism and territorial expansion.<br />

Fulani militants are not aiming to indoctrinate<br />

since they kill every man, woman and<br />

child they encounter. Their actions are more<br />

genocidal than oppressive.<br />

Call to Prayer<br />

The Nigerian Christian community in the<br />

middle of the country is in massive pain. We<br />

spoke with survivors of the recent attacks and<br />

gathered prayer requests from them. We ask<br />

you to pray and care for these brothers and<br />

sisters in Nigeria.<br />

“Pray that God will grant us peace in our<br />

homeland so that we can return. Some are<br />

heartbroken and need consolation and encouragement.”<br />

–Rhoda, mother<br />

“That God will help us to forgive the<br />

attackers, and open doors for us to find help<br />

and the means to take [care] of our families.”<br />

–Bulus, father<br />

“Pray for us that our hearts will be<br />

calmed down so that we can forgive. Pray<br />

that God will restore us back to our homes<br />

and help us to return to normal life and survive.”<br />

–Elisabatu, grandmother<br />

“That God will grant us peace, restore us to<br />

our homes and keep away this kind of evil from<br />

happening again.” –Jummai, grandmother<br />

“Pray for the pool of orphans that are being<br />

created for us as a result of the attacks. We<br />

don’t know what to do. That God will provide<br />

for the Church so as to help victims.”<br />

–Reverend Yanusa Nmadu.<br />


Feature Article<br />

From Mourning to Joy:<br />

Chibok Girls Restored to<br />

Their Families<br />

By Ashley Shay<br />

Imagine the anguish you would<br />

feel, agonizing over whether or<br />

not you would ever hold your kidnapped<br />

daughter in your arms again.<br />

Hundreds of parents experienced<br />

this unimaginable pain on April 14,<br />

2014, when their daughters were<br />

abducted by militant jihadists. In a<br />

single day, Boko Haram snatched<br />

276 girls from their beds at a government<br />

secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria,<br />

and promised to sell them as wives to their<br />

militants. A number of the parents initially<br />

pursued the Islamists in an attempt to rescue<br />

their daughters, but returned empty-handed,<br />

forced to wait almost two years before hearing<br />

a word about their fate. Though few<br />

could ever conceive of the pain of that kind<br />

of uncertainty, countless people around the<br />

world joined these parents in crying out to<br />

God for the safe return of the Chibok girls.<br />

Finally, after more than 900 days, mourning<br />

turned into joy for almost two dozen families.<br />

On October 13, 2016, Boko Haram released<br />

21 of the kidnapped girls into the hands of<br />

the Nigerian government in negotiations brokered<br />

by the International Committee of the<br />

Red Cross and the Swiss government. Within<br />

a few short days, elated parents had their<br />

daughters back in their arms – no doubt held<br />

tighter than ever.<br />

A ceremony in the Nigerian capital of Abuja<br />

to formally reunite the families revealed the<br />

miraculous nature of the girls’ survival and<br />

newfound freedom.<br />

“We never imagined that we would see this<br />

day, but, with the help of God, we were able<br />

to come out of enslavement,” said one of the<br />

girls. Another student, according to a BBC<br />

report, shared how she and her peers were<br />

forced to survive without food for 40 days.<br />

She escaped unharmed when a plane dropped<br />

a bomb near her location in the woods.<br />

“We thank God. I never thought I was going<br />

to see my daughter again, but here she is,”<br />

a parent told the BBC. “Those who are still<br />

out there – may God bring them back to be<br />

reunited with their parents.”<br />

Of the 276 Chibok girls who were kidnapped,<br />

57 escaped within the first few days,<br />

but 218 remained in captivity until a vigilante<br />

group found and rescued Amina Ali Nkeki<br />

(opposite top) on May 17, 2016. Her rescue<br />

came a month after the release of a Boko<br />

Haram video meant to establish “proof of life”<br />

for at least 15 of the missing girls. Though its<br />

date and location proved impossible to determine,<br />

the video, coupled shortly thereafter<br />

with Nkeki’s rescue, was the first real glimmer<br />

of hope for families who had begun to<br />

fear the worst.<br />

Sources said Nkeki was discovered carrying<br />

a four-month-old baby, presumably<br />

her child with the Boko Haram fighter who<br />

“Those who are<br />

still out there –<br />

may God bring<br />

them back to be<br />

reunited with<br />

their parents.”<br />


traveled with her and claimed to be her<br />

husband. Nkeki’s husband was arrested, and<br />

she was briefly reunited with her parents.<br />

She reportedly told her mother, “Wipe your<br />

tears. God has made it possible for us to see<br />

each other again.”<br />

In addition to being the first of the Chibok<br />

girls freed, Nkeki brought greater hope to the<br />

parents of her fellow students when she told<br />

authorities that all of the girls were still in the<br />

Sambisa Forest, where she had been found,<br />

with the exception of six who had died.<br />

Three months later, on August 14, 2016,<br />

Boko Haram produced another video alleging<br />

proof of life for approximately 50 girls<br />

and demanding the release of their fighters<br />

in return for the girls. In September, a second<br />

video sparked outrage when the terrorist<br />

group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, mocked<br />

the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement that<br />

helped raise so much global awareness for<br />

the girls, saying, “There’s still more to do [to]<br />

‘Bring Back Our Girls.’ …If you want your<br />

girls, bring back our brethren.”<br />

The families of the girls seen on the video<br />

and other supporters rallied the Nigerian government<br />

to take decisive action to rescue their<br />

daughters. However, details of the negotiations<br />

that eventually did lead to the release of<br />

the 21 a month later are being kept confidential.<br />

Some sources have reported that Boko<br />

Haram militants were released in exchange<br />

for the girls, while others suggest that a large<br />

sum of money was paid. The Nigerian government<br />

is denying both claims, but notes that<br />

they see this release as a positive “first step”<br />

in the eventual release of all the Chibok girls.<br />

In November, another one of the abducted<br />

schoolgirls was reunited with her family<br />

after Nigerian soldiers discovered her and her<br />

24 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


The 21 Girls<br />

Released on 10/13/16<br />

Amina Ali Nkeki was<br />

was rescued on May<br />

17, 2016. Nigeria<br />

Military image.<br />

The kidnapping of<br />

the Chibok girls started<br />

a worldwide social<br />

media movement:<br />

#BringBackOurGirls.<br />

Wikimedia image.<br />

On October 13,<br />

2016, Boko Haram<br />

released 21 of the<br />

Chibok girls after<br />

more than 900 days<br />

in captivity.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


1. Mary Usman Bulama<br />

2. Jummai John<br />

3. Blessing Abana<br />

4. Lugwa Sanda<br />

5. Comfort Habila<br />

6. Maryam Basheer<br />

7. Comfort Amos<br />

8. Glory Mainta<br />

9. Saratu Emannuel<br />

10. Deborah Ja’afaru<br />

11. Rahab Ibrahim<br />

12. Helen Musa<br />

13. Maryamu Lawan<br />

14. Rebecca Ibrahim<br />

15. Asabe Goni<br />

16. Deborah Andrawus<br />

17. Agnes Gapani<br />

18. Saratu Markus<br />

19. Glory Dama<br />

20. Pindah Nuhu<br />

21. Rebecca Mallam<br />

10-month-old son during a screening of escapees<br />

from Boko Haram’s base in the Sambisa<br />

Forest. According to ICC’s partners in Nigeria,<br />

the girl is Maryam Ali Maiyanga, who was a<br />

student leader in the school where the girls were<br />

kidnapped. She was abducted with her sister,<br />

but her sister is unfortunately believed to be<br />

among the 195 girls still in captivity.<br />

As we rejoice with the families of the 22<br />

young girls who have been restored to their<br />

families and rescued from a life of unthinkable<br />

horrors, we must remember those whose<br />

parents’ agony did not end in October, as<br />

well as all of the Christians who live in fear<br />

that their children may be taken or that they<br />

may lose their own lives. Weeks before Boko<br />

Haram released the 21 students, their insurgents<br />

attacked Christian villages in the Chibok<br />

area two weeks in a row – killing eight during<br />

the first week and two the following.<br />

Please continue to pray for our suffering<br />

brothers and sisters in Nigeria.<br />


The<br />

Perfect<br />

Excuse:<br />

A Coup Attempt and an<br />

Islamist President Send<br />

Turkey Spiraling Towards<br />

Radical Islam<br />

Since the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016,<br />

the people of Turkey are uneasy, stressed, confused,<br />

mistrusting, and see little hope for their country in the<br />

near future.<br />

26 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


Hagia Sophia<br />

Meaning “Holy Wisdom”<br />

in Latin, Hagia Sophia<br />

was built near the center<br />

of Istanbul in 537 AD<br />

originally as a church,<br />

then converted to a<br />

mosque, and is now a<br />

museum. Flickr Creative<br />

Commons image by user<br />

Pedro Szekely.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />



Feature Article<br />

On July 15, 2016,<br />

Turkey reported<br />

that factions<br />

within its military<br />

had attempted and<br />

failed to overthrow<br />

the increasingly<br />

Islamist government<br />

of President<br />

Erdogan.<br />

Many long-term Turkey watchers had serious<br />

doubts as to whether it was a real coup. It<br />

was seen by many as a classic false flag operation<br />

(a covert government-initiated operation<br />

to create public pressure or justification for a<br />

desired military response) that was designed<br />

by Erdogan to defang the only Turkish institution<br />

capable of opposing him.<br />

The failed coup allowed Erdogan to declare<br />

Turkey to be in a state of emergency in order<br />

to completely purge every possible opponent<br />

of his rule, real or imagined. The military<br />

and nearly every aspect of Turkish society<br />

has been affected. Thousands of teachers,<br />

judges, lawyers, police, military personnel,<br />

journalists, academics, and others have been<br />

suspended or arrested.<br />

It was the perfect justification for Erdogan<br />

to assume the role of dictator, placing the<br />

nail in the coffin of almost 100 years of<br />

secular government in Turkey and putting this<br />

80-million strong Muslim nation on the fast<br />

track toward radical Islam.<br />

This has had a huge impact on Turkey’s<br />

small number of Christians. On July 20, only<br />

five days after the coup attempt, ICC spoke<br />

with a missionary from Istanbul who accurately<br />

predicted the downfall we’ve witnessed<br />

in the country to date.<br />

“Honestly, this is probably the worst case<br />

scenario for Christians living in Turkey,”<br />

the missionary explained to ICC at the time.<br />

“Christians will probably be among those targeted<br />

because their lack of adherence to Islam<br />

could be seen as a threat to the government.”<br />

Christians in Turkey now find themselves<br />

in a country where the government<br />

has indefinitely suspended the concept of<br />

democracy in the name of national security.<br />

It is in this Turkey that ICC is seeing an<br />

“The mosques are our barracks,<br />

the domes our helmets, the minarets<br />

our bayonets and the faithful<br />

our soldiers. . . “<br />

Poem recited by Turkey’s Chief Islamist and<br />

President Erdogan<br />

“Christians will probably be among those targeted<br />

because their lack of adherence to Islam could be seen<br />

as a threat to the government.”<br />


increased crackdown against Christians, especially<br />

affecting those from outside Turkey.<br />

Andrew and Norine Brunson<br />

On October 7, 2016, Andrew and Norine<br />

Brunson were detained by the Turkish government.<br />

The Christian couple has lived in<br />

Turkey for more than 23 years, running a<br />

church under the full knowledge of local<br />

authorities. It was a huge surprise when the<br />

couple was summoned to the police department<br />

and taken into custody.<br />

The Brunsons’ phones were confiscated<br />

and they were denied legal counsel. No family<br />

or friends, lawyers or even the US State<br />

Department were allowed contact with them.<br />

Twelve days after their arrest, Norine was<br />

released. However Andrew was held for<br />

over two months and, at time of writing, had<br />

been transferred to a formal prison facility<br />

and accused of membership in an armed terrorist<br />

organization.<br />

“This is disconcerting to Americans living<br />

28 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


here,” said Mark* (name changed for security),<br />

a missionary in Turkey, “as it seems that now<br />

if anyone is detained, it will be indefinitely and<br />

that America will or cannot do anything.”<br />

Ryan Keating<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


Top Recep Tayyip<br />

Erdogan, the<br />

president of Turkey,<br />

assumed the office<br />

on August 28, 2014.<br />

Wikimedia image.<br />

Bottom Left Anticoup<br />

protesters after<br />

the July 15, 2016<br />

Turkish coup d’état<br />

attempt in Bağcılar,<br />

Istanbul, Turkey.<br />

Wikipedia image.<br />

Bottom Right<br />

General Erdal<br />

Öztürk (left) was<br />

arrested over alleged<br />

involvement<br />

in the coup attempt.<br />

Wikipedia image.<br />

In October 2016, Ryan Keating’s residency<br />

visa was revoked. Turkey banned him for<br />

life after 10 years of living and studying incountry.<br />

Keating, 39, was refused reentry to<br />

Turkey after being in London for 10 days.<br />

“It was [a] shock to be taken into custody, and<br />

to hear that I was being given a lifetime ban,”<br />

Keating told World Watch Monitor. “No explanation<br />

was given, even when I asked about it.”<br />

Keating was forced to sign a coded document<br />

that clarified that he was being banned<br />

due to “national security” issues. This is one<br />

of the many ways in which the government is<br />

targeting Christians in Turkey.<br />

Shortly after Keating’s deportation, the<br />

Turkish government passed an emergency<br />

order that allows the Ministry of Interior to<br />

rid the country of anyone it deems a threat<br />

without judicial order or review.<br />

“There is a growing expectation among<br />

many in the missionary community that ‘they<br />

will be next’ concerning deportation or detainment,”<br />

Mark explained.<br />

Spiritual Oppression<br />

It’s believed that the Christian population<br />

of Turkey, once two million strong, now<br />

stands at just 120,000, less even than in ultrarepressive<br />

Iran.<br />

Since Erdogan’s party took power in 2002,<br />

the education system has been gradually transformed<br />

into a pro-Islamic training ground,<br />

with Erdogan himself urging the creation of a<br />

“devout generation” of Muslim Turks. With<br />

the firing of thousands of teachers, judges,<br />

and government employees after the coup,<br />

many believe that graduates of far more radical<br />

Islamic schools will now be chosen to fill<br />

the vacant positions.<br />

In 2007, three Christians were tortured and<br />

murdered by Islamic radicals who, despite being<br />

known by local authorities, have largely remained<br />

free to live and travel for the past eight years.<br />

Several leaders of the Turkish Church are<br />

laying low and advising their congregations to<br />

do the same. This may be precisely why we are<br />

seeing a greater attack against Western churches<br />

as opposed to grassroots congregations.<br />

Additionally, expressions of Islamic devotion<br />

have grown rapidly since July, with many<br />

Turkish Muslims adhering to more traditional<br />

Islamic customs.<br />

During the night of the coup attempt, calls from<br />

the loudspeakers of the country’s 85,000 mosques<br />

urged faithful Muslims to resist the uprising.<br />

Many thousands responded. In two cities, church<br />

windows were smashed by angry mobs.<br />

On October 20, 2016, in one of the most<br />

ominous symbolic moves yet, the Turkish<br />

Religious Affairs Directorate appointed a permanent<br />

imam to lead prayers in the famous<br />

Hagia Sophia for the first time in 80 years.<br />

One of the most widely recognized buildings<br />

in the world, the Hagia Sophia was built and<br />

used as a church for nine centuries before<br />

Muslim invaders conquered Constantinople<br />

in 1453 and converted it into a mosque. The<br />

appointment of an imam at such a major landmark<br />

is a clear signal of the direction Erdogan<br />

is taking Turkey.<br />

“The spirit of Islam is rising throughout<br />

the country,” Mark told ICC, “But at the<br />

same time, there is dissatisfaction with Islam<br />

among many youth…this has caused them to<br />

question Islam and has kept us busy.”<br />

Please pray for foreign Christians who are at<br />

risk of losing everything if dubbed a “national<br />

security threat.” With no evidence or forewarning,<br />

families may lose their visas, their<br />

ministries, and their homes. Pray also for local<br />

Christians to have strength as they enter into<br />

what may prove to be a very dark time for the<br />

Church in Turkey.<br />


A Letter to the President<br />

St. Mark Church in<br />

Cairo, Egypt at sunset.<br />

Flickr Creative<br />

Commons image by user<br />

Andrew A. Shenouda.<br />

A letter from a persecuted<br />

Christian in Egypt to<br />

President Trump.<br />

Dear President Trump,<br />

First, I congratulate<br />

you on your<br />

victory in the US<br />

presidential election.<br />

I send my best<br />

wishes to both you<br />

and the administration<br />

you will lead.<br />

I also pray that the<br />

Lord would enlighten and sustain you in your<br />

service to both the United States and to the rest<br />

of the world.<br />

As an Egyptian Christian, I hope that you<br />

will continue to forge strategic relations<br />

between Egypt and the United States. I am<br />

confident that you and President Sisi will<br />

continue to strengthen the unique alliance<br />

between the United States and Egypt and<br />

bring it to even greater heights.<br />

With that said, I would like to now draw<br />

your attention to the lack of religious freedom<br />

in the Middle East. Today, religious freedom<br />

for minorities in the Middle East is under<br />

siege and, in some places, even threatened<br />

with complete annihilation.<br />

In Saudi Arabia, a country that controls<br />

two of the most holy cities of Islam, Mecca<br />

and Medina, building a church is forbidden.<br />

Foreign nationals who are not Muslims cannot<br />

become citizens and are prohibited from<br />

entering Mecca.<br />

In Libya, although the interim constitution<br />

protects religious freedom, the government continues<br />

to prohibit proselytizing to Muslims. Also,<br />

attacks on Christians and their properties continue<br />

to go uninvestigated. Like Saudi Arabia,<br />

there are no churches in Libya, but Christians<br />

are allowed to worship in their homes.<br />

Extremist groups have carried out numerous<br />

attacks against Christians in Libya. As<br />

30 PERSECU ION.org<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2017</strong><br />


The Pyramids of Giza. Flickr Creative Commons image by user Charles Sharp.<br />

Cave church at The Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner.<br />

I am sure you are aware, Islamic State militants<br />

filmed the beheading of 21 Egyptian<br />

Christians and later an additional 31 Ethiopian<br />

and Eritrean Christians in two separate attacks<br />

in 2015. A grisly reminder of how dangerous<br />

it is for religious minorities when groups<br />

who do not believe in religious freedom are<br />

allowed to rule.<br />

In Tunisia, although it is not illegal to convert<br />

from Islam to another religion, converts<br />

from Islam face extreme pressure from their<br />

families and former religious communities.<br />

Some Tunisian Christians have even reported<br />

receiving violent threats. Islamic religious<br />

education is also mandatory in Tunisia’s public<br />

schools and the government continues to<br />

imprison people for speech deemed blasphemous<br />

or offensive to Islam.<br />

In Morocco, conversion from Islam is not<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />


illegal, but converts can be prosecuted for<br />

“shaking the beliefs” of other Muslims and<br />

sentenced to prison for up to three years.<br />

Those found guilty of proselytism or converting<br />

others also face criminal punishment or<br />

expulsion from the country.<br />

In Syria and Iraq, religious minorities continue<br />

to be targeted by Islamic State militants.<br />

Homes, places of worship, and entire Christian<br />

communities have been overrun and occupied<br />

by a terrorist organization that stands in<br />

complete opposition to religious freedom. The<br />

attacks on religious minorities in these countries<br />

have gotten so bad that your government<br />

has termed the situation a genocide.<br />

Even in my home country, Egypt, full religious<br />

freedom is not a reality. Coptic Christians,<br />

who are the indigenous population of Egypt,<br />

continue to make up 10 percent of the country’s<br />

population despite the discrimination and, at<br />

times, outright persecution we endure.<br />

In recent years, attacks by Muslim radicals<br />

against the Christian community of Egypt<br />

have increased. For example, on November<br />

25, 2016, Muslim radicals in El-Naghamish<br />

village, located in the Sohag governorate,<br />

attacked a Coptic Christian community<br />

because a rumor spread that Christians were<br />

building a church.<br />

Fanatics carrying gas canisters, rocks, and<br />

other weapons carried out a vicious assault<br />

following Friday prayers, resulting in four<br />

Christians being injured, a Christian guesthouse<br />

being destroyed, nine Christian homes<br />

being burned, and four Christian businesses<br />

being looted. Unfortunately, this was not the<br />

first time this has happened in 2016. In<br />

fact, three other Christian communities across<br />

Egypt suffered similar assaults after rumors of<br />

a church being constructed were spread.<br />

In many ways, our government has failed<br />

to protect us and, at times, are amongst those<br />

denying us full religious freedom. Repressive<br />

laws and discriminatory policies are often<br />

used to restrict Christians from freely practicing<br />

their faith. This has left many Christians<br />

feeling that they are not equal to their Muslim<br />

counterparts as Egyptian citizens.<br />

Truly, we Egyptian Christians often feel<br />

oppressed and marginalized by the laws and<br />

actions, or in some cases inaction, of our<br />

own country.<br />

As a member of one of these threatened<br />

minority communities, it is my hope and<br />

prayer that you and the United States will<br />

remain a strong leader in the Middle East and<br />

will continue to champion the universal right to<br />

religious freedom for all, Muslims, Christians,<br />

Jews, and Yazidis, in the Middle East.<br />

For generations, the world has looked to<br />

the United States as a stalwart advocate for<br />

the right to religious freedom. As you take<br />

the office of President of the United States,<br />

I urge you to continue this noble tradition so<br />

that someday, a religious minority like me<br />

could truly experience what it feels like to<br />

practice his or her faith freely.<br />

Sincerely,<br />

An Egyptian Christian<br />


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Black scorch marks<br />

cover a door of what<br />

was once a church<br />

in Qeraqosh, Iraq<br />

that ISIS burned as<br />

they were forced out.<br />

Keep Iraqi Christians<br />

in prayer during and<br />

after the battle for<br />

Mosul, Iraq.<br />

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