Habib Afram, president of the Syriac League in Lebanon, said all Christians in the Middle East are targeted for violence.
He pointed out that Middle East Christians are targeted and the Arab and Islamic world should be aware of the seriousness of the exclusion of Christians in the region.
In a televised interview, Afram said Christians in the region are directly targeted even though they "are not a direct party in the conflict." more >>
American teacher Ronnie Smith, who was shot and killed in Benghazi on Thursday, depended on his faith in Jesus Christ alone while working in Libya, and had decided to move to that restive nation after listening to a message by preacher John Piper, according to reports.
"I want to go where no one could find a church if they wanted to, where no one has access to this gospel," Smith, a Texas native, said in a video before moving to Libya. The video was posted on the website of his home church, Austin Stone Community Church, until his death, according to CNN.
Smith, who served as a deacon in his church and was teaching chemistry at the International School in Benghazi, was killed by gunmen riding in a black jeep while he was out jogging on Thursday morning. The gunmen are suspected to be Islamist militants. more >>
U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini was robbed at knifepoint at Iran's Rajai Shahr prison, the American Center for Law and Justice confirmed, sparking further fears for his life.
"Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives. Pastor Saeed's 'cell' is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners – murderers and rapists – unfettered access to him 24 hours a day," ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow shared in an update earlier this week.
"He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene." more >>
An American chemistry teacher working abroad in Benghazi, Libya was shot and killed by gunmen Thursday during his routine jog near the U.S. Consulate, security sources in the country confirmed Thursday. The man died one week before he was supposed to travel back to his native state of Texas to celebrate Christmas with his wife and young son.
Security official Ibrahim al-Sharaa said that it is unclear why the Texas-native chemistry teacher working at Libya's International School Benghazi was shot, although he was doing his regular exercise routine close to the U.S. Consulate, where Islamic militants attacked and killed American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September. The city's International School is a government-owned institution that follows American standards for curriculum, according to the Association Press.
"He was doing his morning exercise when gunmen just shot him. I don't know why. He was so sweet with everyone," Adel al Mansouri, director at the school, told Reuters. Libya's special forces have reportedly been struggling to contain Islamic extremists in the country, especially in Benghazi. Members of the militant Ansar al-Sharia group reportedly inhabit the city, and this same group is the one the U.S. blames for the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate. more >>
The Lebanese Forces Party (LFP) has called on the United Nations to help protect holy places, archaeological sites, priests and nuns in Syria following recent attacks.
There were also calls stressing the need for the UN Security Council to convene and put the ancient Christian town of Maloula and other Muslim and Christian archaeological areas in Syria under its direct protection to prevent violations against them.
Muslim militants stormed the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Takla in Syria Monday afternoon after seizing the historical Christian town of Maloula. They forcibly took away 12 nuns. The reason for the kidnapping is not yet known. more >>
Syrian rebels have reportedly re-entered the historic Christian town of Maaloula, north of the country's capital of Damascus, this week while battling forces loyal to the country's President Bashar al-Assad. The rebel forces have been occupying the small, predominately Christian town intermittently for the past several months as they battle in the surrounding Qalamoun region. Recent reports from witnesses in Maaloula indicate that the Islamic rebels have reportedly kidnapped a group of nuns from a local monastery in the city.
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a local monitoring group, told The Daily Star on Sunday that the rebels are trying to regain control of the city as they clash with regime troops. The city sits in a mountain region and consists of tall look-out posts in the form of chapels and church spires that prove advantageous for camouflage and sniper nests.
"Fierce clashes are under way between rebel fighters, including the Al-Nusra Front, and regime troops in Maaloula, which the rebels have entered and are trying to gain control of," Abdel-Rahman said. more >>