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.

China Ramps Up Christian Persecution After Two Missionaries Are Murdered

Chinese officials have repeatedly targeted the country’s Christians and destroyed more than 1,000 church crosses in  2015 and 2016. 

After Muslim extremists murdered two Chinese missionaries, many hoped the Chinese government would take efforts to protect the country’s Christians. Instead, the government is cracking down on the spread of the gospel even more.

According to a BBC report, Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng  went to Balochistan, one of the most violent cities in Pakistan, to tell local Muslims about Jesus. However, they were met by violent extremists who murdered them in cold blood.

Now, the Chinese government is cracking down on Christians in their country. Chinese officials arrested four preachers from a church in the Zheijing province shortly after the murders. They later released them but they are banned from preaching the gospel and are prohibited from giving any media interviews.

Xinheng’s mother says she is “proud” of her son for sharing his faith, but is upset the Chinese government didn’t “save our children.”

Many suspect China’s economic interests in Pakistan are keeping them from condemning the terrorists who murdered its citizens. China is investing more than $55 billion in Pakistan, a key country in its plan to connect Asia and Europe with a new Silk Road.

Experts also say China’s atheistic government views its Christian missionaries as a problem.

“They thought Christianity was a western religion imported into China, so how can you export Christianity from China?” Says Fenggang Yang, an expert on religion in China at Purdue University.

“This is new and the Chinese authorities are still struggling to figure out what to do with this,” he added.

Chinese officials have repeatedly targeted the country’s Christians and destroyed more than 1,000 church crosses in  2015 and 2016.

However, despite the crackdown, the recent murders of the two Chinese missionaries reveals that not only is the church in China alive and well, believers are even trying to take the gospel beyond the country’s borders and to some of the most hostile parts of the world.

How Saudi Arabia’s religion textbooks promote hate against non-Muslims

Saudi Arabia’s school religious studies curriculum contains ‘hateful and incendiary language toward religions’ and labels Jews and Christians ‘unbelievers’ with whom Muslims should not associate..

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) presents US President Donald Trump with the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Their two countries remain close despite human rights violations in Saudi.Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s school religious studies curriculum contains ‘hateful and incendiary language toward religions’ and labels Jews and Christians ‘unbelievers’ with whom Muslims should not associate, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

A comprehensive review by the charity of religion books produced by the Education Ministry for the 2016-17 school year found that some content that first provoked widespread controversy for violent and intolerant teachings in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, remains today, despite promises by Saudi officials to eliminate the intolerant language.

‘As early as first grade, students in Saudi schools are being taught hatred toward all those perceived to be of a different faith or school of thought,’ said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. ‘The lessons in hate are reinforced with each following year.’

This research was part of a broader investigation into the use of hate speech and incitement to violence by Saudi officials and religious clerics for a forthcoming HRW report. The curriculum that was reviewed, entitled al-tawhid, or ‘Monotheism,’ consisted of 45 textbooks and student workbooks for the primary, middle, and secondary education levels.

The US Department of State first designated Saudi Arabia a ‘country of particular concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act for severe violations in 2004, and has continued to do so every year since.

HRW pointed out that while the designation should trigger penalties – including economic sanctions, arms embargoes, and travel and visa restrictions – the US government has had a waiver on penalties in place since 2006, allowing ongoing cooperation between the two countries.

In February 2017, Saudi’s education minister admitted that a ‘broader curriculum overhaul’ was still necessary, but did not offer a timeframe for when this overhaul should be completed.

Saudi Arabia does not allow public worship by adherents of any religion other than Islam, and HRW said: ‘Its public school religious textbooks are but one aspect of an entire system of discrimination that promotes intolerance toward those perceived as “other.”‘

The charity said that the country ‘should address the hostile rhetoric that nonconforming Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and non-Muslim expatriate workers face in Saudi Arabia’.

The curriculum text states that people use shrines as a place to commit acts of illicit innovations or polytheism, including: ‘praying at them, reading at them, sacrificing to them and those [interred] in them, seeking help from them, or making vows by them…’

[written by James Macintyre]

Muslim Extremists Hack Christians to Death With Machetes After They Refuse to Say ‘There is No God But Allah’

Muslim extremists in Kenya brutally murdered four Christians – one of them mentally challenged – after they refused to recite the Islamic prayer of faith.

Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported that on August 18, soldiers with the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabaab dragged Changawa Muthemba out of his home in Kasala Kairu, Lamu County and took him to the nearby home of his brother-in-law, Joseph Kasena, 42, where a 17-year-old neighbor, Kadenge Katana, also happened to be at the time.

The three men were held at machete point and ordered to recite the Shahada – “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

When none of them did, the attackers tied them up and hacked them to death. The Muslim extremists then went to the home of Joseph’s older brother, Charo, who was mentally challenged, burning his body.

Joseph’s wife, Caroline, reportedly watched everything happen and is “severely traumatized”, according to a local source.

“Joseph was an elder at a local church. He did communal farming, worked as a cook in a local hotel and also served as a night guard at the home of an expatriate family, who had to leave the area due to the deteriorating security situation. His wife runs a small kiosk,” said the source.

The source said the family of the 17-year-old boy, who was part of a local Catholic church, are “devastated” at his murder.

Kenya is ranked #18 on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The outlet notes that Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, has targeted Kenyan Christians for years, attacking churches, public places and buses.

Last month, the terrorist group beheaded nine Kenyans-some of whom belonged to a local church-in the Pandaguo area of Lamu West in an attack that targeted non-Muslim men only. Two days earlier, attackers killed four people (including police), also in the Pandaguo area, and in June beheaded nine in the coastal district of Lamu.

Last year,  al-Shabab gunmen attacked a bus full of teachers in the same region, pulling 28 non-Muslim passengers from the vehicle and shooting them point blank, according to the Guardian.

The following month, the BBC reported, the militant group did the same to non-Muslim workers at a quarry near the Somali border and violently killed both Muslims and non-Muslims during deadly attacks in Kenya.

Last April, the terrorist group stormed Garissa University College, gunning down two security guards before singling out Christian students and killing 148 of them.

( news@gospelherald.com ) Aug 29, 2017