Sept. 27, 2012 (Open Doors News) — Across much of the Muslim world, more than two weeks of backlash to the internet video “Innocence of the Muslims” has occasionally been directed at Christians, from computer hacks to church burnings.
In Zinder, Niger, on Sept. 14, about 1,000 Muslims emerged from the Friday Jumu’ah prayers, divided into groups of several hundred each, and started marching toward the churches in town. They set the Winners Chapel afire. They severely vandalized the Union of Evangelical and Protestant churches’ community center, the Church of the Assemblies of God, and a Catholic church.
Several Christians were injured, though the exact number has not been verified. After police regained control at the churches, smaller groups damaged the homes of the evangelical church pastor and homes of members of the Catholic church. Police made numerous arrests.
Meanwhile, as far away as Pakistan, Christians anticipated the wave of Muslim anger to wash into their country. On Sept. 21, an angry mob torched St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pakistan’s Mardan district. Protestors destroyed not only the church building but a school attended by Christian and Muslim children.
Yet amid the anger and violence in several countries, there have been some moments of peace.
Unable to breach the perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, some Egyptian protesters turned their attention to the nearby Kasr-el-Dobara Evangelical Church. “Death to the worshippers of the cross!” they painted on the wall.
The mob began to damage the downstairs bookshop. Then a man emerged from the crowd and started yelling. He said the Christians from the church had come to his aid, tending his wounds, during the 2011 popular uprising against the Egyptian government. Then another man stepped forward, and said the church had offered water, earlier that very day, to wash the feet of Muslims before prayers.
The crowd fell silent, turned, and left.
London, Sept. 14 (Open Doors News)— Pope Benedict started a visit to Lebanon in the Middle East on Friday, as angry demonstrations and attacks on Western interests continued to spread across the region and into Asia. They came in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his U.S. colleagues.
The Libyan U.S. consulate attack was allegedly triggered by the discovery of an anti-Islamic film produced in the United States by someone linked to Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Copt resident in the United States. It was the film’s translation into Arabic and broadcast on Arab TV stations and talk shows which sparked the violence - although investigations are now under way in Washington to establish whether the worst of the violence was not spontaneous.
Egyptian Coptic organizations moved quickly to distance themselves. Egyptian intellectual and researcher Adel Guindy, president of Coptic Solidarity, said the much-hyped film was “stupid and sickening… We don’t know for sure if Maurice Sadek has anything to do with the film” but if he has, “I think Sadek took the opportunity to provoke Muslims in Egypt, as usual.”
Other Egyptian Christian leaders also condemned the film. The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement condemning the film as “abusive” to the Prophet Mohammed, “carried out by some Copts living abroad,” and “rejecting such acts that offend religious beliefs and all religions.”
For the present, many Christians in the region are keeping a low profile while the furor boils on the streets.
“We were told at church today that demonstrations were planned for 1 p.m. at mosques after prayer, so it would be best to stay put. We did,” a Cairo Christian told Open Doors News.
Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Pope Benedict is using his trip to Lebanon to meet both the region’s Christian and Muslim leaders. During his three days there, he’s scheduled to meet politicians and leaders from Lebanon’s 18 religious groups.
His trip comes as Lebanon - including the Christian community - is deeply divided over the conflict in neighboring Syria. On his plane to Lebanon, the Pope told reporters that Syrian arms imports were a “grave sin”. He also called for an end to the conflict there, saying fundamentalism was “always a falsification of religion…Religious fundamentalism seeks to take power for political ends, at times using violence, over the individual conscience and over religion,” the Pope said.
“All religious leaders in the Middle East [should] endeavour, by their example and their teaching, to do everything possible to uproot this threat, which indiscriminately and fatally affects believers.”
The pontiff’s exhortations were made public as he signed recommendations on how to improve the lives of the Christian minority, making up 40% of Lebanon’s population, and its relations with Judaism and Islam.
The pontiff described the Arab Spring as “a desire for more democracy, for more freedom, for more cooperation and for a renewed Arab identity”. The Pope told Lebanese President Suleiman he was visiting the country as a “pilgrim of peace”.
Middle East (MNN/SAT7) ―Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called for a nationwide peaceful demonstration today to condemn insults to Prophet Mohammad from an amateurish film.
North Korea (MNN) ― Spotted easily on satellite images but heavily denied by the government, North Korean prison camps harbor horrors equal to the Holocaust. A biography released earlier this month profiles the only man to escape from a “total control zone” camp, Shin Dong-hyuk. After spending a few weeks on bestseller lists, Escape from Camp 14 is drawing international attention to North Korea.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich., Sept. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Christian Freedom International (CFI), a Michigan-based organization dedicated to assisting persecuted Christians around the world, is expressing concern that Middle Eastern Christians will feel extended repercussions of the recent bombings in Libya and Egypt that killed four American workers, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Chris Stevens.
SANTA ANA, Calif., Sept. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — On Aug. 16, Rimsha Masih, a young Christian girl with possible learning disabilities, was arrested on charges of “blasphemy” in Islamabad, Pakistan. Open Doors USA announced today it has launched a campaign on her behalf.
International (MNN) ― The world is on alert in the aftermath of the attack on two United States embassies. First, protesters scaled the walls of the embassy in Cairo, tearing down the U.S. flag and replacing it with an Islamic one
Russia (MNN) ― Earlier this week, Russian Christians were uncertain what the destruction of the Holy Trinity Church would mean for religious freedom in the former Soviet Union nation.