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Persecution Brief: Violence Reigns in Nigeria, Kenya; Iranian Pastor's Attorney Arrested

Among the recent cases of most striking persecution of Christians around the world were new attacks in Africa and, notably, the arrest of an attorney who tried to come to the aid of imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

Iran – The attorney representing Iranian Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has reportedly been sentenced to nine years in prison for alleged acts violating national security and spreading propaganda against the Iranian regime. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, who has defended several people on death row in Iran in the past, told the press that he has also been banned from practicing law for 10 years and prohibited from teaching at universities. His imprisonment would place Nadarkhani's case in further jeopardy, according to observers. The Iranian pastor has been accused of apostasy and is facing a death sentence, despite protests from the international community.

Nigeria – The head of Nigeria's Christian community issued a "final" warning Wednesday to the government that it must bring an end to attacks targeting the faithful, after a new surge in deadly violence in recent days. Islamist group Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of attacks that have left hundreds dead in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south. Among most recent attacks, a pastor and at least 20 worshipers were killed when gunmen suspected to be Islamist militants opened fire in two separate incidents targeting worship services in northern Nigeria on April 29.

Nigeria, Kenya – The Vatican has expressed sympathy for the two dozen victims of the latest terrorist attacks in Nigeria and Kenya targeting Christians, but has called on believers to not give in to the "temptations of hate."

In early April, two twin grenade blasts killed an estimated two people and injured over 30 in a Kenyan city where Christians had gathered to hold an outdoor worship service.

Vietnam – A group of Vietnamese Christians arrested last spring and sentenced to 30 months in prison will remain in detention for now, after the local court did not overturn the verdict Thursday, local media reported.

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