China ‘Holding at least 120,000 Uyghur Muslims in Re-Education Camps’

There are media reports of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, which are forbidden to Muslims, as well as reports of torture and death.

One million Muslims are being held against their will right now in Chinese internment camps, according to estimates cited by the UN and U.S. officials. Former inmates—most of whom are Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority—have told reporters that over the course of an indoctrination process lasting several months, they were forced to renounce Islam, criticize their own Islamic beliefs and those of fellow inmates, and recite Communist Party propaganda songs for hours each day. There are media reports of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, which are forbidden to Muslims, as well as reports of torture and death.

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Police patrolling the old town in Kashgar, Xinjiang. The city has been the focus of a major crackdown on the Muslim Uighur people. Photograph: Tom Phillips/The Guardian

The sheer scale of the internment camp system, which according to The Wall Street Journal has doubled in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region just within the last year, is mind boggling. The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China describes it as “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.” Beijing began by targeting Uyghur extremists, but now even benign manifestations of Muslim identity—like growing a long beard—can get a Uighur sent to a camp, the Journal noted. Earlier this month, when a UN panel confronted a senior Chinese official about the camps, he said there are “no such things as reeducation centers,” even though government documents refer to the facilities that way. Instead, he claimed they’re just vocational schools for criminals.

Xi-Jinping
Xi-Jinping

China has been selling a very different narrative to its own population. Although the authorities frequently describe the internment camps as schools, they also liken them to another type of institution: hospitals. Here’s an excerpt from an official Communist Party audio recording, which was transmitted last year to Uighurs via WeChat, a social-media platform, and which was transcribed and translated by Radio Free Asia:

Members of the public who have been chosen for reeducation have been infected by an ideological illness. They have been infected with religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology, and therefore they must seek treatment from a hospital as an inpatient. … The religious extremist ideology is a type of poisonous medicine, which confuses the mind of the people. … If we do not eradicate religious extremism at its roots, the violent terrorist incidents will grow and spread all over like an incurable malignant tumor.

“Religious belief is seen as a pathology” in China, explained James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University, adding that Beijing often claims religion fuels extremism and separatism. “So now they’re calling reeducation camps ‘hospitals’ meant to cure thinking. It’s like an inoculation, a search-and-destroy medical procedure that they want to apply to the whole Uighur population, to kill the germs of extremism. But it’s not just giving someone a shot—it’s locking them up for months in bad conditions.”

Muslim Uyghur woman in Keriya mosque Xinjiang China
Muslim Uyghur woman in Keriya mosque Xinjiang China

China has long feared that Uyghurs will attempt to establish their own national homeland in Xinjiang, which they refer to as East Turkestan. In 2009, ethnic riots there resulted in hundreds of deaths, and some radical Uyghurs have carried out terrorist attacks in recent years. Chinese officials have claimed that in order to suppress the threat of Uighur separatism and extremism, the government needs to crack down not only on those Uyghurs who show signs of having been radicalized, but on a significant swath of the population.

The medical analogy is one way the government tries to justify its policy of large-scale internment: After all, attempting to inoculate a whole population against, say, the flu, requires giving flu shots not just to the already-afflicted few, but to a critical mass of people. In fact, using this rhetoric, China has tried to defend a system of arrest quotas for Uyghurs. Police officers confirmed to Radio Free Asia that they are under orders to meet specific population targets when rounding up people for internment. In one township, police officials said they were being ordered to send 40 percent of the local population to the camps.

muslims-xinjiang-china

The government also uses this pathologizing language in an attempt to justify lengthy interments and future interventions any time officials deem Islam a threat. “It’s being treated as a mental illness that’s never guaranteed to be completely cured, like addiction or depression,” said Timothy Grose, a China expert at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. “There’s something mentally wrong that needs to be diagnosed, treated—and followed up with.” Here’s how the Communist Party recording cited above explains this, while alluding to the threat of contagion:

There is always a risk that the illness will manifest itself at any moment, which would cause serious harm to the public. That is why they must be admitted to a reeducation hospital in time to treat and cleanse the virus from their brain and restore their normal mind. … Being infected by religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology and not seeking treatment is like being infected by a disease that has not been treated in time, or like taking toxic drugs. … There is no guarantee that it will not trigger and affect you in the future.

Having gone through reeducation and recovered from the ideological disease doesn’t mean that one is permanently cured. … So, after completing the reeducation process in the hospital and returning home … they must remain vigilant, empower themselves with the correct knowledge, strengthen their ideological studies, and actively attend various public activities to bolster their immune system.

Several other government-issued documents use this type of medical language. “This stuff about the poison in the brain—it’s definitely out there,” said Rian Thum, noting that even civilians tasked with carrying out the crackdown in Xinjiang speak of “eradicating its tumors.” Recruitment advertisements for staff in the internment camps state that experience in psychological training is a plus, Thum and other experts said. Chinese websites describe reeducation sessions where psychologists perform consultations with Uyghurs and treat what they call extremism as a mental illness. A government document published last year in Khotan Prefecture described forced indoctrination as “a free hospital treatment for the masses with sick thinking.”

Uyghur refugee tells of death and fear inside Chinas cultral project
Mihrigul Tursun says she and her son are victims of Beijing’s growing crackdown on Muslim majority Uyghurs in China’s far western Xinjiang region.

This is not the first time China has used medical analogies to suppress a religious minority. “Historically, it’s comparable to the strategy toward Falun Gong,” said Adrian Zenz, a researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany. He was referring to a spiritual practice whose followers were suppressed in the early 2000s through reeducation in forced labor camps. “Falun Gong was also treated like a dangerous addiction. … But in Xinjiang this [rhetoric] is certainly being pushed to the next level. The explicit link with the addictive effect of religion is being emphasized possibly in an unprecedented way.” Tahir Imin, a U.S.-based Uighur academic from Xinjiang who said he has several family members in internment camps, was not surprised to hear his religion being characterized as if it’s a disease. In his view, it’s part of China’s attempt to eradicate Muslim ethnic minorities and forcefully assimilate them into the Han Chinese majority. “If they have any ‘illness,’ it is being Uyghur,” he said. In addition to Uyghurs, The Washington Post has reported that Muslim members of other ethnic groups, like the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyz, have been sent to the camps. “I think the Chinese government is saying: ‘This ideological hospital—in there, send every person who is not [ethnically] Chinese. They are sick, they are not safe [to be around], they are not reliable, they are not healthy people.’”

An inmate told The Independent he suffered thoughts of suicide inside the camps. And as Uyghurs in exile around the world learn what is happening to their relatives back home, some have told reporters they suffer from insomnia, depression, anxiety, and paranoia.  

China 3

Murat Harri (Uyghur), a 33-year-old doctor who moved to Finland in 2010, said he has received word from relatives that both his parents are in the camps. He has launched an online campaign, “Free My Parents,” he said will raise money to start an advocacy organization to help them, but he told me he suffers from recurrent panic attacks. He also described finding himself prone to feelings of anger, powerlessness, and exhaustion. “I try to be normal,” he said, “but I have a psychological problem now.”In an interview with The Globe and Maila Uyghur woman in Canada who said she had a sister in the camps said, “I cannot concentrate on anything. My mind is off. I cannot sleep.” She added, “I lost a lot of weight because I don’t want to eat anymore.”

China Rebukes Trukey Over Uighur Refugees
China Rebukes Turkey Over Uighur Refugees

Some Uyghurs I spoke to who are living abroad also have to cope with a pervasive sense of guilt. They know that Beijing treats any Uyghur who’s traveled internationally as suspicious, and that their family members are treated as suspicious by association. For example, a 24-year-old Uyghur attending graduate school in Kentucky, who requested anonymity for fear that China would further punish his relatives, said it’s been 197 days since he’s been able to contact his father in Xinjiang. He tracks the days on a board tacked to his bedroom wall. “I’m afraid for my dad’s life,” he said. Asked why he believes his father was sent to an internment camp, he replied without a trace of doubt: “Because I go to school here in a foreign country.”

“Now I know that if I ever go home,” he added, “I will be imprisoned just like my dad.”

Uighur Muslims accuse China of cultural genocide
Uyghur Muslims accuse China of cultural genocide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abducted Mali nun appeals to Pope Francis for release

Gloria’s missionary work in Mali, was caring for children orphaned at birth, and teaching literacy to about 700 Muslim women.

A Nun who was abducted by Al-Qaeda nearly a year ago has appeared in a propaganda video begging Pope Francis to negotiate her release.
Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti, a Franciscan Sister and missionary, was kidnapped on 7 February 2017, in Karangasso, near Koutiala, in southern Mali by the Al-Qaeda-linked group, “Groupe de soutien à l’ Islam et aux musulmans” (Group for Support of Islam and Muslims).

Gloria speaking in French said, “I ask of you to help in my freedom and to do the impossible and release me.”

She went on to congratulate Pope Francis on his “tour of Latin America” expressing a regret that she was in captivity while Christians are celebrating Christmas.

The video said, “Others are parading around the world, calling for support of the weak, calling for peace, and helping the needy…or so they claim.” The narrator added added that Gloria was neglected because she was not “the First World”. The reference to Christmas showed the video was made in late December.

Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb

As if to demonstrate its willingness to negotiate the video showed former hostages it had released in the past.

Gloria who had worked as a missionary for six years before her abduction previously appeared in a propaganda video in July 2017. At that time they accused her of “supporting the crusaders in Mali by preaching Christianity” and presented this as the reason for her abduction, together with six other Western hostages. Three of their number kidnapped in Mali or Burkina Faso have since been released.

Gloria, in the video, also pleaded with her family in Colombia to work towards her release.

Gloria and women she works with

Responding to the request on the propaganda videoGeneral Fernando Murillo, head of the Colombian National Police’s anti-kidnapping division, said, “We’ll have to wait for a statement from that group to know what they will demand.”
He added: “The Pope is aware of what Colombia is doing and to what point we’ve come to obtain her release,”

Gloria’s missionary work in Mali, was caring for children orphaned at birth, and teaching literacy to about 700 Muslim women.

Wife and son of imprisoned Christian leader to be jailed in Iran

Since last year, Iran’s government has increased their crackdown on Christianity, with many – especially converts – arrested for various charges

The wife of an Iranian pastor sentenced to prison for ten years has been given a five-year jail sentence.

pastors wife jailed

Last week (6 January 2018) a judge of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh to five years in prison for “acting against national security and against the regime by organizing small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies.”

Shamiram was detained in June 2017, and released on $30,000 bail.  Her husband, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, was previously sentenced to ten years imprisonment on 4 July 2017, also for acting against national security. Their son faces similar charges.

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From left: Victor Bet-Tamraz, Amin Afshar-Naderi, Kaviyan Fallah-Mohammadi, and Hadi Asgari

A convert from Islam, Amin Afshar Naderi was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment and was granted bail on 25 July 2017. Hadi Asgari – another convert – was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for acting against national security, and was refused bail. Both have been under intense pressure to reconvert to Islam, but have remained firm in their faith.

All have appealed their sentences. Their hearing, initially supposed to be held in December 2017, has been postponed.

iranchurchfeb012016

Since last year, Iran’s government has increased their crackdown on Christianity, with many – especially converts – arrested for various charges

 Four Iranian converts to Christianity in the city of Karaj, Alborz province, were arrested less than two weeks before Christmas. Two others, Abdol-Ali Pourmand and Mohammed Ali Torabi were forced to sign blank confession papersduring their time in prison prompting speculation that Iranian authorities were attempting to use the documents to forge a fake confession to use against them.

 

ISIS Threatens Attacks on Churches in Washington DC, New York on Christmas

“We meet at Christmas in New York soon,” reads the caption of the poster…

Islamic State supporters have threatened to launch a terror attack in Washington, D.C. and New York on Christmas, according to the SITE intelligence group. A propaganda poster carries a picture that shows Washington’s National Cathedral erupting in flames while indicating that New York could be their target.

ISIS

“We meet at Christmas in New York soon,” reads the caption of the poster, which otherwise carries an image of Washington’s National Cathedral, reveals SITE, which monitors extremist communications online.

The poster was found circulating through a pro-Islamic State encrypted channel, Telegram.

“ISIS is incentivized to make threats like this, which come at no cost to them. ISIS is not dispatching fighters around the world for complex coordinated terrorist attacks, but has largely relied upon individuals and citizens already living in Europe and the United States to commit unsophisticated attacks,” Newsweek quotes Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center, as saying. “These individuals’ affiliations with ISIS are often tenuous and are perhaps better described as ‘inspired by’ rather than operationally directed. So perhaps somebody within the U.S. will take it upon themselves to commit an attack on Christmas, which falsely bolsters the perceived capabilities and reach of the group.” 

In October, a 27-year-old man from Virginia, Mohamad Khweis, became the first U.S. citizen to be convicted of successfully joining the Islamic State terror group, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Over 100 people in the U.S. have been charged with trying to support or join IS, but Khweis succeeded.

IS managed to encourage over 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries to travel to join their fight before and after the declaration of the “caliphate” in June 2014, according to a report, “Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees.”

The report, recently released by the Washington-based security intelligence consultancy Soufan Center, states that there are now at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home — accounting for about 15 percent of the fighters.

The report claims that for the U.S., 129 fighters succeeded in leaving the country and only seven have returned.

While IS has lost its territory in Syria and Iraq, the threat is far from over in the  Middle East or elsewhere.

Iraq declared earlier this month that its territory is now “fully liberated” from IS, overlooking warnings by allies that the terror group still poses a threat to the country in the form of guerrilla warfare.

“As ISIS continues to lose land, influence, funding streams and conventional capabilities, we expect them to return to their terrorist roots by conducting high-profile attacks on helpless civilians such as those we’ve already seen in Nasiriyah, Ramadi, and elsewhere over the past weeks,” a spokesperson of the U.S.-led international coalition said at the time.

Iranian influence is now present in Nineveh towns once mostly populated by Christians before IS took over, and has prevented some from returning to their homes.

Egypt reeling from attack on mosque in Sinai that killed 305

Friday’s assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s.

Egypt was reeling Sunday from the horrific militant attack on a mosque in northern Sinai that killed 305 people two days earlier — the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in its modern history and a grim milestone in a long-running fight against the insurgency led by an Islamic State affiliate.

sinai-mosque-attack

Survivors and Egypt’s top prosecutor have given accounts of the massacre that unfolded as more than two dozen assailants, carrying a black IS banner, unleashed gunfire and explosions during Friday prayers at the Al-Rawdah Mosque in a sleepy village by the same name near the small town of Bir al-Abd.

The attackers arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque’s door and windows, and just as the imam was about to deliver his sermon from the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 people inside.

The worshipers screamed and cried out in pain. A stampede broke out in the rush toward a door leading to the washrooms. Others tried desperately to force their way out of the windows. Those who survived spoke of children screaming as they saw parents and siblings mowed down by gunfire or shredded by the blasts. 

When the violence finally stopped, 305 people, including 27 children, had been killed and 128 wounded.

One of the witnesses, Ebid Salem Mansour, recalled how the attackers shouted Allahu Akbar, or God is great, as they fired on the worshippers.

So composed were the militants that they methodically checked their victims for any sign of life after the initial round of blazing gunfire. Those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, the witnesses said. When the ambulances arrived they shot at them, repelling them as they got back into their vehicles and fled.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the attackers, some masked, numbered between 25 and 30. Those with bare faces sported heavy beards and long hair, his statement added. Clad in military-style camouflage pants and black T-shirts, one of them carried a black banner with the declaration of the Muslim faith — there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.

Despite the banner, IS still has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Survivors of the bloodshed spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, where some of the wounded are hospitalized.

“We knew that the mosque was under attack,” said Mansour, a 38-year-old worker in a nearby salt factory who had settled in Bir al-Abd three years ago to escape the bloodshed and fighting elsewhere in northern Sinai. He suffered two gunshot wounds to his legs on Friday.  

“Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you get shot,” he said. “The shooting was random and hysterical at the beginning and then became more deliberate. Whoever they weren’t sure was dead or still breathing was shot dead.”

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed that the attack “will not go unpunished” and that Egypt would persevere with its war on terrorism. He did not specify what new steps might be taken. On Saturday, he ordered that a mausoleum be built in memory of the victims of Friday’s attack and cancelled a visit to the Gulf Sultanate of Oman that was scheduled for next week.

Egypt’s military and security forces have already been waging a tough and costly campaign against militants in the towns, villages and desert mountains of northern Sinai, and Egypt has been in a state of emergency since April. Across the country, thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on suspected Islamists as well as against other dissenters and critics, raising concerns about human rights violations.

Seeking to spread the violence, militants over the past year have carried out deadly bombings on churches in the capital of Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. Egypt’s IS affiliate has also claimed responsibility for the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people over Sinai. That attack decimated the country’s already ailing tourism industry.

Friday’s assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s. The death of so many civilians in one day recalls the killing of at least 600 in August 2013, when Egyptian security forces broke up two sit-in protests in Cairo by supporters of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist president ousted by the military the previous month.

The local IS affiliate has targeted Sufis in the past. Last year, the militants beheaded a leading local Sufi figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, and posted photos of the killing online. In the January edition of an IS online magazine, the Sinai affiliate vowed to target Sufis, accusing them of idolatry and heretical “innovation” in religion and warning that the group will “not permit (their) presence” in Sinai or Egypt.

Millions of Egyptians belong to Sufi orders, which hold sessions of ritual chanting and dancing to draw the faithful closer to God. Sufis also hold shrines containing the tombs of holy men in particular reverence.

Islamic militants stepped up their campaign of violence in northern Sinai after the military ousted the elected but divisive Morsi. Authorities followed up with a fierce crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group, jailing thousands.

The result has been a long, grinding conflict centered on el-Arish and nearby villages and towns in north Sinai. The militants have been unable to control territory, but the military and security forces have also been unable to bring security, as the extremists continuously carry out surprise attacks, mostly targeting outposts and convoys.

 

ISIS Threatens to Attack Vatican on Christmas

ISIS militants see the Vatican as a prime target because it represents Christianity and the West.

The Islamic State has threatened to attack the Vatican on Christmas, in what they are calling a “Christmas blood” attack.

In a propaganda video released by ISIS supporters, a masked figure is shown driving toward the Vatican with a gun and a backpack, supposedly containing a bomb. The video is accompanied by the words “Christmas blood. So wait…” ISIS AND VATICAN

According to Fox News, Christmas is historically a time when ISIS has stepped up their attacks. One such attack occurred in 2015, when a terrorist who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State carried out an attack in San Bernardino, California which killed 14 people.

The terrorist group is especially looking for opportunities to be on the offensive since they are losing more and more ground in the Middle East, the seat of their so-called “caliphate.” Terror experts have warned that, because the Islamic State has lost territory they previously controlled, they may focus their efforts on isolated attacks in various parts of the world. 

ISIS militants see the Vatican as a prime target because it represents Christianity and the West. Security is being stepped up in the Vatican and in other places around the world as the holiday season approaches.

Street Preacher Arrested for Offending Islam Released from Prison

While his actions may have gotten him in trouble with police, Sleeper says he’s not quieting down any time soon. 

A street preacher in the UK, who was arrested for criticizing Islam, has been released from jail. 

Ian Sleeper was arrested for holding up a sign in Central London that said “#Love Muslims Hate Islam Time For The Truth.” He was held for 13 hours for allegedly causing disorder. 

However, after being unable to charge Sleeper with an actual crime, prosecutors let the case go. 

Sleeper said his decision to hold the controversial sign came when he realized the Muslim employees at his restaurant knew very little about their religion. 

“After reading the Qur’an and observing the behavior of my Muslim staff, it became clear that they were not practicing much of their religion’s teachings,” he told Christian Concern. “I found this curious, and, after chatting to them about their belief, I realized this was due to their ignorance of the Quranic verses. They simply do not know what their religion teaches.”

“Their ignorance is almost on a par with the wider public’s, where the horrors and gross gender inequalities of Islam are not apparent to most people,” he added. 

That’s when he decided to publicly share his message about Islam even if it cost him his freedom.

While many people view Sleepe’s actions as hate-filled, he says that’s not the case. 

“As Christians we must hate sin, spread the gospel and love God. Through my actions I aim to achieve all three,” he says. 

In fact, he believes there is a strong distinction to be made between Muslims and the ideology of Islam. 

“I differentiate between Muslims the people and Islam the ideology”, he said. “I love my Muslim neighbor as the Bible commands, and I am friends with all my Muslim staff. But I hate the religion’s ideology. It is not Muslims we should be attacking, it’s Islam. Islam makes Muslims victims with a tight grip that holds them captive to an evil ideology.”

While his actions may have gotten him in trouble with police, Sleeper says he’s not quieting down any time soon. 

“Truth cannot be taken for granted in our modern world, and so I will be back out on the street soon,” he said. “Please pray for me and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all seek to expose deception and turn people to Christ.”

Police in Pakistan Beat Christian Boy to Death, Father Says

Christian rights activists said the killing showed that religious intolerance was seeping into all sections of society, including government departments.

Police in Pakistan beat a 14-year-old Christian boy to death on Monday (Oct. 9) because he had gotten into a fight with a Muslim classmate who tried to bully him into renouncing his faith, sources said.

Mushtaq Masih, father of Arsalan Masih, said that his son was a student at a private center in Jhabran Mandi village, Sheikhupura District in Punjab Province. Arsalan was at the center when seven policemen from the Bahu Chowk Police Post arrived at about 5 p.m. in their official vehicle and stormed the premises, Masih told Morning Star News.

“Arsalan was attending his tuition classes at the Ideal Science Academy when Head Constable Imtiaz, Driver Rashid, Constable Arshad and some other unidentified policemen kicked open the door and dragged him out of the classroom,” Masih said. “Sardar, alias Billu, a police constable, helped them to identify the boy. With this, they all started beating Arsalan with fists, kicks and rifle butts.”
 
Teacher Farhan Ali tried to stop the assault, but the officers shoved and slapped him and continued beating the boy, Masih said.
 
“Rashid struck Arsalan’s head with a pistol, and he started bleeding,” he said. “When they bundled him into the police van, Arsalan collapsed and died. Later the police team threw Arsalan’s body on the roadside and fled.”
 
Numerous bystanders witnessed the assault, but the policemen threatened them if they intervened, he added.
 
Four months ago Arsalan had fought with a Muslim boy after the classmate tried to bully him into renouncing his Christian faith, said Masih, a member of the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan.
 
“I did not know about the fight until recently,” he said. “Arsalan had reportedly beaten up a boy whose uncle, Sardar alias Billu, is a constable in the Sheikhupura District police. Billu nurtured a grudge against Arsalan, and that’s why he brought his police friends with him to teach the poor boy a lesson.”
 
Masih said that he had registered a case (No. 653/17) with the Sheikhupura Saddar Police Station against seven officers, but that police had so far been unable to arrest them.
 
Accused Police Flee

Sheikhupura Superintendent of Police Sarfraz Virk told Morning Star News that he had ordered the registration of a case against the accused policemen and also suspended the in-charge of the Bahu Police Post for negligence in official duties.
 
“We are trying our best to arrest the nominated accused, who have fled the area since the day of the incident,” he said. “The boy was not wanted in any case, and it’s quite clear that the policemen had gone there on their own and misused their official authority.”
 
Sub-Inspector Safdar Javed of the Bahu Police Post told Morning Star News that he had just taken charge and was investigating the case.
 
“So far, no accused has been arrested,” he said. “My investigation till now has revealed that no case or complaint was registered against Arsalan with the Bahu police. The policemen transgressed their authority and will be brought to justice at all costs.”
 
He said investigators were taking into consideration the family’s claim that the killing was religiously motivated.
 
The maternal grandfather of the Arsalan, identified only as Pastor Shafqat, said that there were 300 to 400 Christian families in the Jhabran Mandi area.
 
“Fights do take place among boys from both communities over petty issues, but this is the first time a boy has lost his life,” he said. “The murderers didn’t even [have pained conscience] for a second that they were ruthlessly beating a 14-year-old boy. What had he done to deserve such a brutal death?”
 
The case has been taken up by the Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ). Attorney Kashif Naimat of the PCLJ told Morning Star News that police were initially reluctant to register a First Information Report (FIR) against their colleagues.
 
“However, the police were forced to register the FIR after Arsalan’s family and other Christians blocked the main highway for several hours on Monday night in protest,” he said. “PCLJ has taken up the case voluntarily, and we will do our best to bring perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice regardless of their influence.”
 
In August, another Christian student was killed. On Aug. 27, 17-year-old Sharoon Masih was killed by a Muslim classmate during school hours in Punjab’s Vehari District because he had drunk water from a glass used by all students – an act many Muslims hold in disdain as they regard Christians as “unclean.”
 
Christian rights activists said the killing showed that religious intolerance was seeping into all sections of society, including government departments. Rufus Solomon, a leading Christian rights advocate, said it was tragic that another Christian boy had fallen victim to “extremist Islam.”
 
“The situation won’t improve for Pakistani Christians until the government repeals the blasphemy laws,” he said. “These laws promote extremism and encourage Muslims to force their views on members of the minority communities, particularly Christians. No government in Pakistan has the spine to take on religious extremism therefore our people will continue to suffer losses, both human and material.”
 
It is highly likely that police will favor their own colleagues even though the murder of the Christian boy took place in front of numerous witnesses, he said.
 
“Arresting the accused is one thing, taking the matter to its logical end is another,” he said, adding that like other departments, the Pakistani police too had double standards when it came to issues involving members of the minority communities.
 
Napolean Qayyum, another Christian rights activist, echoed Solomon’s views, saying he saw little hope for justice for the family of the slain boy.
 
“How many people actually believe that the police will build a strong prosecution against their own fellows? Not many, I’m sure!” he said, adding that no Christian political leader had shown interest in assisting the family in the case.
-Morning Star News
 

Somalia Suffers Worst Terrorist Attack in its History

Heartbreaking stories have been emerging from Somalia in the wake of the bombing…

At least 276 people have died in a deadly bomb attack on Saturday in what is being called Somalia’s worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

BBC News reports that the massive bombing occurred in a busy part of Mogadishu, the country’s capital. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack, although the al-Shabaab terrorist group is known for targeting the region.  

“The family is so shocked, especially our father who travelled all the way from London to attend her graduation, but instead he attended her burial,” said Maryam’s sister, Anfa’a.

Witnesses and survivors of the attack say it was unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Local resident Muhidin Ali said it was “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area.”

“What happened yesterday was incredible, I have never seen such a thing before, and countless people lost their lives. Corpses were burned beyond recognition,” added Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, the director of the Madina Hospital in Mogadishu.

Only 111 of the dead have been identified by family members. One hundred sixty-five others will be given a national mass funeral and buried by the government.

Heartbreaking stories have been emerging from Somalia in the wake of the bombing. One victim, Maryam Abdullahi, had been in medical school and was due to graduate the day after the bombing took place.

Maryam’s father had flown to Mogadishu to celebrate her graduation, but instead ended up mourning her death.

written by Veronica Neffinger

Bodies of 21 Christians Found Beheaded by ISIS in Mass Grave in Libya

In February 2015, ISIS had posted a video online of the beheadings, which sparked air strikes from Egypt against ISIS units in Libya.  

The bodies of 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded by ISIS have been found in a mass grave in Libya, according to Libya’s interior ministry.

The men had been killed more than two years ago on a beach near Tripoli, the Agence French Presse reported. In February 2015, ISIS had posted a video online of the beheadings, which sparked air strikes from Egypt against ISIS units in Libya.  

ISIS fighters had kidnapped the Christians in separate incidents in Libya from December 2014 to January 2015, The Christian Post reported.

“The heads are separated from the bodies clad in orange jumpsuits, hands bound behind the back with plastic wire,” said the Libya’s interior ministry unit for fighting organized crime in the city of Misurata.

Authorities found out about the mass grave after ISIS prisoners confessed to the killings.

Twenty of the bodies were determined to be of Egyptian descent, while one body was found to be of an unknown African nationality. The remains have been transferred to Misurata for forensic examination.

Egyptian officials have been notified of the finding of the remains, which will be returned to Egypt.

Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced seven people to death over links to ISIS units in northwest Egypt and the killings.

Earlier this year, International Christian Concern reported that the relatives of those who were killed were proud that their family members stood up to ISIS in the name of Christ.

One wife said her husband “kept the faith, and was martyred for Christ.”

“His faith was very strong,” she said. “I’m proud of him. He has lifted our heads up and honored us and all the Christians.”