The Islamic State terror group has released 22 Assyrian Christians who were part of a group of over 200 believers kidnapped in February in raids on villages in the Khabur region in northeastern Syria.
The Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights has said the Christians were released due to "the tireless efforts and negotiations by the Assyrian Church of the East in the city of Hasakeh," and noted that there were 14 women among the hostages.
Two Sudanese pastors who were released from prison last week after facing the death penality on trumped-up charges are now being barred from leaving the Muslim country.
Pastors Yat Michael and Peter Yein Reith were planning to leave Sudan last week, however authorities met them at the airport and told them they were not allowed to leave the nation.
"[The pastors] were preparing to board a plane Aug. 6 with their families when Khartoum International Airport authorities stopped them, according to one of the men's attorneys," reported Morning Star News. 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 >>
As the plight of Christians across the Middle East worsens, a Jerusalem archbishop has condemned the entire political world for its silence and lack of action on the issue. Former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu has meanwhile pointed the finger at President Barack Obama, accusing the latter of "indifference" in the face of the suffering Christian communities.
Archbishop Maroun Lahham, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem's vicar for Jordan, said in an interview that "the international community is absolutely inert, absent, or rather a silent accomplice" in the persecution of Christians, Catholic World News reported.
"The international Christian community, however, has never ceased to send aid to meet the needs of the brothers of the Church," Lahham added. "The political world is absolutely to be condemned, but the world of Caritas helps us, especially the Italian Episcopal Conference." 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 >>
Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled the Islamic State terror group to neighboring countries such as Jordan have said they are stuck in limbo, with nowhere to go and limited ways to provide a living. Pope Francis has condemned the world's silence on the issue, while an Iraqi archbishop has said that Christians in the region are hated because they want to keep hold of their faith.
"The Church is unable to offer and guarantee the fundamental security that its members need to thrive. It is no secret that hatred of minorities has intensified in certain quarters over the past few years. It is difficult to understand this hate. We are hated because we persist in wanting to exist as Christians. In other words, we are hated because we persist in demanding a basic human right," His Exc. Mgr. Bashar Matti Warda, C.SS.R., Archbishop of Erbil, said in a statement to Fides News Agency.
The Associated Press reported on Sunday that close to 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq alone have fled to Jordan. They have not been granted permission to work and have not been resettled to the West as hoped, leaving them in a state of limbo. more >>