|04 JANUARY 2011|
Scores of Christians killed over Christmas and New YearBarnabas Fund’s pre-Christmas warning that the festive season would probably see an increase in anti-Christian violence has sadly been proven true by a series of deadly attacks in Nigeria, Iraq and Egypt.
"It is sad that when Christians were supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, some people, out of wickedness, would come to perpetrate such evil,” said Rev Yuguda Ndirmva, Borno State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, after a series of attacks on Christmas Eve, 24 December. Seven explosions in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, killed 32 people and injured 74 more, following threats to disrupt Christmas celebrations in the area. On the same day a 30-strong mob of Muslim militants armed with guns, knives and petrol bombs attacked a church in the city of Maiduguri, killing five people, while another church in the city was attacked by three armed men, who murdered a security guard.
At least two people were killed and 14 others wounded in coordinated bombings targeting Christian homes in Baghdad, Iraq, on 30 December. And in the early hours of yesterday morning, a Christian woman, Rafah Butros Toma (44), who survived the attack on a Baghdad church in October, was shot dead in her bed.
A suicide bomber who detonated explosives outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt, killed at least 21 people and injured scores more as worshippers were leaving a service on New Year’s Day. Bishop Angaelos, a senior Egyptian church leader in the UK, said:
Men, women, children and the elderly gathered together in prayer for a happy and peaceful new year. Instead, they became the innocent victims of a most horrific, callous and cowardly act of terror and violence.The attack came two weeks after an Al-Qaeda group, the Islamic State of Iraq, posted a statement on its website calling for militants to bomb Egyptian churches during Christmas celebrations. A Barnabas Fund contact in Egypt who was at the scene of the bombing said she saw Muslims coming out of a nearby mosque saying the traditional Islamic war cry “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”) as they watched Christian mothers frantically searching for their children. She said there were bodies and blood everywhere.
Because anti-Christian violence is often focused on Christian festivals, Eastern Christians – who celebrate Christmas Day on 7 January – remain vulnerable to further attack this week. Following the bombing in Alexandria, threats have been made against Egyptian churches across Europe, including two in the UK, according to senior church leaders.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
My heart breaks for our brothers and sisters who are being violently attacked at a time when they should be able joyfully to celebrate the birth of Christ. We must continue to uphold them in our prayers – for they remain in grave danger.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Scores of Christians killed over Christmas and New Year (Barnabas Fund)
Those of us who live in places where religious extremism is under control need to be thankful. For those who are Christians, let me urge you to at least spend some time in prayer for your brothers and sisters who are suffering. Instead of spending so much money on gifts and new gadgets and toys for yourselves, how about setting aside some money to help those in need?