The Persecution & Prayer Alert
“How then will they call on (Jesus) in whom they have not believed?
|EGYPT: Reformers Seek to Remove Blasphemy Law
Sources: Release International, Daily News Egypt, Morning Star News
Reformers in Egypt’s parliament want to have a controversial blasphemy law removed from the constitution, but the Ministry of Justice is trying to block their efforts. The law has frequently been used to prosecute people who seem to criticize Islam, and it’s also misused to persecute minorities such as Christians.
The Ministry of Justice opposes any repeal of the blasphemy law, claiming it helps stop the spread of “strife and division.” However, reformers say the statute is contrary to the constitution. Additionally, the law is vague, giving judges too much discretion to issue harsh punishments.
Since Egypt’s new constitution was passed in 2014, there have been many controversial prosecutions of Christians, while extremists who attacked Christian communities were allowed to act with impunity.
Earlier this month, hundreds of Muslims gathered in Qaryat Al Bayda village, south of Alexandria, and vandalized property belonging to Pastor Karas Nasr’s church. Security forces didn’t intervene to stop the attack, but instead arrested six Christians on accusations of planning to illegally build a church.
In 2014, there were two high-profile cases in which the blasphemy law was used against Christians. Dimyana Abd al-Nour, a 27-year-old teacher, was sentenced to six months in prison for comments she allegedly made in a history class; and 29-year-old Kirollos Shawqi Attallah was given a six-year sentence merely for “liking” a Facebook page for Christian converts. Other reports may be found at the Egypt Country Report.
Please pray that the blasphemy law will be repealed, and that the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will choose to support freedom of religion. Uphold all who are being unjustly imprisoned in Egypt at this time, asking the Lord to grant them the strength they need to endure until their release. Continue to pray for the protection of Pastor Karas and his congregation, especially those who have been arrested and falsely accused.
|BANGLADESH: Christian Killed in Violent Attack
Sources: Asia Network News, The Daily Star
A 60-year-old Christian businessman in Bangladesh has been killed in a violent attack, and the terrorist organization Islamic State has claimed responsibility for his death. Shunil Gomez of Boraigram region in the northern district of Natore died on Sunday, June 5th, after receiving three deep gashes on the back of his neck. According to police inspector Inam Ahmed, the attack bore similarities to previous local fatalities perpetrated by militants.
In the past seven months, at least six people have died in violent incidents within the region. Attacks have targeted Christian pastors and Hindu temples, as well as mosques belonging to the Shia minority. “For many years, in the Muslim-majority nation of Bangladesh, Christians were relatively free to practise their religion,” reports a VOMC correspondent in Bangladesh.
The correspondent explains why there has been a dramatic increase in persecution: “Two years ago this began to change, and now a small minority of radical Islamists are having a big impact upon religious freedom by targeting well-known leaders and secular bloggers for assassination. Our VOM partners are taking new precautions, but they are still finding ways to share the Gospel and disciple new believers without drawing attention to themselves.” Learn more by reviewing the Bangladesh Country Report.
Thank you for lifting up Shunil Gomez’s family, praying that they will tangibly sense the loving comfort of our Lord Jesus as they grieve during this difficult time. Ask Him to protect our VOM ministry partners and all the other Christian believers in Bangladesh. May they be filled with wisdom and power as they continue to obey the Great Commission despite the threat of persecution.
|MALI: Kidnapped Swiss Missionary “Still Alive”
Source: World Watch Monitor
The militant group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has released a new video on June 16th, purporting to show that a Swiss nun whom they kidnapped in January is still alive and in good health. The three-minute video, which was posted on social media, shows a veiled Beatrice Stockly speaking in French. In the clip, Beatrice says she has been detained for 130 days, but is in good health and has been treated well, although it has been very hot. She concludes by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all of their efforts to secure her release.
In January, after armed men abducted Beatrice from her home in Timbuktu, AQIM released an initial video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping. In that particular video, a masked man speaking English stated, “Beatrice Stockly is a Swiss nun who declared war against Islam in her attempt to Christianize Muslims.”
Conditions of Beatrice’s release included setting free AQIM fighters jailed in Mali, as well as one of their leaders who is presently detained at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, South Holland. However, Switzerland is demanding that she be unconditionally released.
Please join us in interceding for Beatrice’s safe release and for the protection of all Christians in Mali. Continue to uphold this missionary as she endures captivity. Pray that her friends and family will be comforted in the fact that God is working in the midst of her challenging situation. Also intercede on behalf of her captors, that they would understand the seriousness of their actions. Through this Christian worker’s witness, may they be given an opportunity to learn of the Lord’s great love for them, repent of their ways, and receive His wonderful plan of salvation.
If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC’s prayer wall.
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