More than 550 Coptic Christian schoolgirls in Egypt have been kidnapped by Muslim men and forced to convert and marry their abductors during the last three years, according to the Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance (AVAFD).
"The world reacted in horror and revulsion at the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in April," writes Mark Ellis of Godreports. "But twice as many Coptic Christian schoolgirls in Egypt have vanished slowly, one-by-one, in kidnappings that remain unsolved."
The kidnappings and captivity, occuring since January 2011 through March 2014, often include violence against the girls. For example, the traditional cross the Coptic minority tattoos on their wrists is erased with acid before these forced marriages, according to Terrasanta, a Catholic news service. more >>
An online petition calling for the White House to act to save a Christian woman in Sudan sentenced to be executed has gotten more than 50,000 signatories, but it needs to garner 100,000 signatures by June 27 to be guaranteed an official response by the Obama administration.
Posted on the "We the People" site, the petition calls for action to save Meriam Ibrahim, the mother of two young children awaiting a punishment of 100 lashes and execution for allegedly leaving Islam for Christianity.
"We strongly urge the administration to take action in the case of Dr. Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese mother who with her toddler and newborn baby (who pending the proper documentation are American citizens), is languishing inside a prison in Khartoum," reads the petition in part. more >>
Dr. David Curry is the CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization which advocates for persecuted Christians around the world. He recently returned from Egypt encouraged about the state of Coptic Christians, the focus of which will be featured in the second part of this Q&A. In Part 1, Curry discusses ISIS' surge in Iraq and its implications for Iraq's remaining 500,000 Christians and its effects on neighboring Syria.
CP: What type of impact is ISIS having on Christians?
Curry: The group ISIS is an Islamic terrorist group that had in the past been closely associated with al-Qaida, although it's not an official part of al-Qaida now, it is part of that ilk. It has been fighting against the Syrian government in Syria and so it's part of this string of countries that is fighting Islamic terrorists. The goal of this group, as with other groups, is to set up Sharia law. Now Sharia law has already been proclaimed by the group in the northern parts of Iraq in Mosul that they've taken over and their agenda is clear. They want to set up a regime that forces Islamic faith and its most extreme tenants on people and this is going to directly affect Christians who choose to practice and wish to practice their faith in Iraq. It already has affected it in the sense that there's been an exodus over the last several years, even in the course of the last several days, of Christians who remained in northern Iraq away from there because they know what it means when a group like ISIS tries to implement Sharia law. more >>
For at least three reasons, the contemporary persecution of Christians demands attention: It is occurring on a massive scale, it is underreported, and in many parts of the world it is rapidly growing.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that Christians are suffering persecution in more places today than any other religious group; between 2006 and 2012, Pew says, they were targeted for harassment in 151 countries-three-quarters of the world's states. Similar findings are reported by the Vatican, Newsweek, the Economist, and the 60-year-old Christian support group Open Doors. Most people in the West are unaware of these facts, though that may be changing.
A few cases do get press coverage-the desperate plight of Meriam Ibrahim, for instance, who gave birth in a Sudanese prison just the other day. She was raised a Christian, but after officials learned that her long-absent father was a Muslim; she was sentenced to death for apostasy-for leaving Islam. And since in Sudan a Muslim woman may not be married to a Christian, her marriage to her American husband was declared void, and she was convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes to be administered before her execution. These punishments will be dropped if she renounces her Christian faith, which she steadfastly refuses to do. more >>
Christians in Mosul city in northern Iraq are fleeing en masse with others, as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, who captured the city last week, are now looting and burning churches and forcing all women to wear the Islamic veil.
Assyrian International News Agency reports that the Sunni group ISIS – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – has gone on a rampage, looting and burning government buildings, raising its black flag and burning churches throughout Mosul, the capital of the Nineveh Province.
Men from ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq that was formed last April, have bombed an under-construction Armenian church in a Left Bank neighborhood near al-Salaam hospital, the agency says, adding that the Church of the Holy Spirit has also been looted. more >>
In an interview with Spanish-language magazine "La Vanguardia," Pope Francis said he is "deeply concerned" about the persecution of Christians today, which is "stronger than in the first centuries of the Church." He also discussed fundamentalism and anti-Semitism.
"The persecuted Christians are a concern that touches me very deeply as a pastor," Francis told the magazine, according to Catholic News Agency.
The people said while he knows a lot about persecution, "it doesn't seem prudent to talk about them here so I don't offend anyone." more >>