Hundreds of kidnapped Arab Christians have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year, including a priest who was chopped into pieces, in attempts to raise funds for radical Islamic terror groups and to strike fear into the hearts of Christians across the Middle East and throughout the world.
"Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy," John Newton told The Christian Post. Newton is spokesman for Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. "I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months ... they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. ... But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family."
The process of trying to free kidnapped priests poses a difficult challenge. In many cases, Christian organizations are left in the dark with little information on who the kidnappers are or where the victims are being held. more >>
As many as 15,000 Assyrian Christian families might be in danger from the Islamic State terror group and the ongoing conflict in Syria, the Assyrian Church of the East in Lebanon bishop has said. Christians from over 100 families were kidnapped on Friday, with human rights groups fearing they will be beheaded or sold into sexual slavery.
"My personal sources say there are about 15,000 families left in Syria. Of course, they do not live in the villages captured by militants, but were able to temporarily relocate to nearby towns," Bishop Yatron Koliana told RIA Novosti on Monday.
Koliana said the families face uncertainty in the war-torn country, which is caught in a conflict between the central government, various rebel groups, and IS. The latter has conquered significant territory in Syria and Iraq, and has heavily targeted religious minorities, including Christians. more >>
A Sydney-based evangelist as well as the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), both recently condemned the crackdown on Christians under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who had promised better treatment of religious minorities before taking office, and called for the release of prisoners of conscience, including Iranian American pastor Saeed Abedini.
"The Iranian government actively pursues Christian ministers and believers, placing them in prison under trumped up political charges, or simply killing them in accordance with their law," asserted Christian worker Marlene Mathew, who works with immigrants from the Middle East, to The Christian Post on Monday. "These people are innocent and need to be set free....In recent weeks the Iranian government has openly declared that 'Christians are enemies' who are a major threat to the state."
The USCIRF also condemned the detention of prisoners of conscience, and called for their immediate release, adding that since President Rouhani assumed office, he has failed to fulfill his promise to improve the climate for religious freedom, despite sparking hopes in 2013 when he said, "All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice," as reported by The Jerusalem Post. August marks the second anniversary of Rouhani's presidency. more >>
ERBIL, Iraq — Thousands of displaced Arab refugees, including a large number of Christians and Yazidis, are continuing to flee Iraq following the Islamic State's mass execution of around 2,000 Iraqis in the city of Nineveh — followed by a series of car bombs in Baghdad on Monday — resulting in dozens of causalities, according to Reuters.
It's been one year since the Islamic State began its reign of terror in the Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of northern Iraq's Nineveh Province, which has included a hate-fueled campaign to wipe out Christians and Yazidis as well as other religious communities.
"Islamic State has unleashed untold misery and suffering on defenseless religious and ethnic communities, while destroying treasured religious and historical sites in both Iraq and Syria," said Robert P. George, chairman of the U.S.Commission on International Religious Freedom, last week. "Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and others are all at risk. Due to IS's reign of terror, millions of people from Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee and now are refugees or internally displaced." more >>
Former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Republican, has proclaimed that the nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the United States and five other world powers is nothing more than the fulfillment of End Times prophecy found in the Bible, and added that the world will likely see the "strong right arm" of the Lord strike in judgement.
While speaking on Jan Markell's "Understanding the Times" evangelical radio program last Saturday, the 59-year-old Bachmann argued that if Congress fails to strike down the agreement reached with Iran, then Christians should rejoice because it is a sign that the End Times are coming to fruition.
In July, the U.S., China, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Germany signed on to an agreement that could potentially grant Iran access to nuclear capabilities within a decade's time. Fearing that Iran has every intention to use nuclear capabilities to wipe out Israel and the U.S., Bachmann equated the agreement to "all the nations of the world" turning their backs on Israel. more >>
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley believes the U.S. government needs to be doing more to help protect the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Islamic State's "genocide" of Christians in Iraq and Syria.
At a time when President Barack Obama's State Department is doing very little to allow the scores of persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians to come and live legally and safely inside the United States, the 52-year-old former Maryland governor wrote in a Friday op-ed published by Detroit Free Press that there is "no excuse" for the United States' "inaction" on the issue of protecting the endangered Middle Eastern Christian and religious minority communities.
"'Genocide' is not a word to be used lightly. But it is not hyperbole to say Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria face genocide at the hands of ISIS today," O'Malley, a practicing Catholic, wrote. "In the face of unthinkable terrorism and bloodletting on the basis of religion and ethnicity alone, the U.S. must do more to protect the Middle East's religious minorities from extremists committed to their annihilation." more >>