Saturday, November 20, 2010

Afghan Christian to face judge Sunday - UPDATE

 Said Musa Trial postponed until next week.

BosNewsLife reports today (Tuesday, November 23rd) that Afghanistan has postponed the trial of  Said Musa.

Said Musa, 45, was to appear without a lawyer Sunday, November 21, in front of a court where a judge was expected to use 'sharia', the word for Islamic law, to reach a verdict.

Officials suggested that the trial was delayed to give the court more time to study the case amid international concerns he may be executed under legislation that was introduced by the toppled Taliban regime.

More of the story here.

Also, the Jubileee Campaign and Advocates International seem to be hot on the case.

Good news.


Compass Direct News (CDN) reports that an Afghan amputee in prison for his Christian faith since May will face a judge tomorrow (November 21, 2010) without legal representation or knowledge of the charges against him, according to local sources.

"Authorities arrested Said Musa, 45, on May 31, 2010, days after the local Noorin TV station broadcast images of Afghan Christians being baptized and worshiping," notes the CDN story.

"Though there were other arrests in May and June during the ensuing man-hunt against Christians, Musa is the only known Christian facing a court case."

Local Christians and religious freedom monitors have expressed concern that Musa may be made an example.

“The court case against Said Musa is unique,” said one religious freedom advocate, a Christian, under condition of anonymity. 

“Authorities usually don’t want court cases against Christians. This is high profile, as Musa has been on TV and was put under pressure to deny his faith publicly. This is a kind of a test case to see which law prevails in the country: sharia [Islamic law] or international agreements.”

Read more here.

Update: CNN reports that Musa could face trial as early as next week.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Japanese Media Ignores UC Japan Rights Protests

A press release announcing several American rallies calling on Japan to stop persecution and imprisonment of religious minorities has been refused for distribution in Japan by K.K. Kyodo News Agency.

The press release provides details about coordinated protests taking place in several major cities throughout the United States on Tuesday, November 16th.

Since 1966, more than 4,000 members of the Unification Church of Japan have been confined by their families and “deprogrammers” in an attempt to force them leave the religion which they, as adults, freely chose to join.

Currently, 10 to 20 Unificationists in Japan are abducted each year. Victims who escape their captors report the use of force, prison-like conditions, and intense pressure to change his or her faith. There have been reports of beatings, starvation, and rape.


Japanese Ambassador Refuses Meeting

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Iraq’s Christians Still Under Siege

Iraqi Christianity has suffered another catastrophic blow that is likely to hasten the church’s wholesale flight from the country: Last evening, al-Qaeda suicide bombers laid siege to Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad during Sunday Mass while 120 local Chaldean Catholics were worshiping inside. The Washington Post reports that 42 Iraqi worshipers were killed, along with seven Iraqi rescue commandos. Among the dead are two priests, Father Wasim Sabieh and Father Thaier Saad Abdal, while a third, Father Qatin, has a bullet lodged in his head and is in uncertain condition. This is only the latest in a series of direct attacks on Iraqi churches that began in 2004.
Joseph Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America, wrote to me that “since Iraq has no government, we are calling for the international community to intervene in protecting and saving the indigenous people of Iraq , the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Community.” He emphasizes, “Things are deteriorating very fast in Iraq , our people are left with no choice but to flee because they are losing hope and there is no serious actions taken to protect them as of today.”

Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Church of the East, another persecuted Christian church with an ancient presence in Iraq , sent a report as well. Apart from the widely covered information that the terrorists demanded prison releases, he documents (with two links) another, directly religious motive that enraged al-Qaeda: the conversion of Muslim girls into another Christian denomination in another country.

The terrorists belong to Al-Qaieda organization in Iraq called: Islamic State of Iraq.They were demanding according to the Iraqi sources the release of their colleagues in Iraq and Egypt . A statement by this terrorist group and circulated on the internet in their websites is warning and demanding the release of the Muslim girls from Christian background who are, according to the statement, prisoners in Egyptian Coptic Church monasteries. The statement is giving 48 hours warning time to release those girls or they will explode the church. The statement, as other cases, is fill [sic] of threats against infidels everywhere.

Christians remain the largest non-Muslim minority in Iraq , but church leaders express a real fear that the light of the faith in Iraq — which is said to have been kindled personally by Thomas, one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles — could soon be extinguished. Iraq ’s Christian population has been reduced by as much as half; adherents have been driven out by brutal terrorist attacks and government marginalization. Iraq ’s other non-Muslim religions — the much smaller groups of Mandeans (followers of John the Baptist), Yizidis (an ancient angel-centered religion), Bahai’s, and Jews — are also being forced out, and in some cases, their unique languages and cultures may not survive in exile.

Religious persecution in Iraq is so “egregious” that the country has now been included by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on a recommended short list of “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act, alongside the likes of Iran and China . No group in Iraq, Muslim or non-Muslim, has been spared massive and appalling religiously motivated violence; however, as the independent federal commission found, the one-two punch of extremist ruthlessness and deep governmental discrimination now threatens the “very existence” of Iraq’s Christian churches (some of whom still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus of Nazareth) and Iraq’s communities of Mandeans and Yizidis, which are even older. As last night’s attack again shows, these smallest minorities are not simply caught in the middle. They are being fiercely targeted for their faith.

As I have written before, this raises an urgent question for the West: Without the experience of living alongside Christians and other non-Muslims at home, what would prepare the Muslim Middle East to peacefully coexist with the West?

Posted with permission from Nina Shea.

— Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom

Women Clergy Protest Japan’s Human Rights Violations

At Independence Hall, Birthplace of Religious Freedom, 120 Women Clergy Protest Japan’s Human Rights Violations


October 29, 2010

The depth and weight of history is felt at Independence Hall. This is the place where George Washington was chosen to command the Revolutionary Army and is the place that the Declaration of Independence was signed. It is the place where the Constitutional Convention was held over which Benjamin Franklin presided. It is the place that a nation proclaimed that all men are equal and are endowed by God with inalienable rights which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty is so central at this historic place. Just across the green is the Liberty Bell which symbolizes what America fought for – God given rights. The Constitution established in its first Amendment that religious liberty was the most essential right and that all other rights are strengthened when religious freedom is secured.

On Friday, October 29th in front of the Independence Hall, 120 Women Clergy of all denominations of the American Clergy Leadership Conference Women in Ministry gathered to take a stand against the abductions and human rights violations in Japan. Representing all 50 states, the women faith leaders visited and prayed together for Religious Freedom at this hallowed place. Joined by representatives of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, they cried out from Hawaii to Texas, to New York to Chicago to Atlanta. They cried out for the freedom of others have been violently abducted, beaten and held prison under mental and physical abuse to break their faith. Why are they held. Because, they are being persecuted for their faith. The Women in Ministry decried the ongoing abduction and faith breaking of members of the Unification Church in Japan and demanded the release of the victims.

Three courageous women stood up and spoke on behalf of the 120. Rev. Fannie Smith of WFWP and ACLC WIM served for years with Operation Push in Chicago was appalled that this was not being stopped. She said, “Our sisters and brothers in Japan are being abducted from their homes, when we go back we will pledge that as Women In Ministry from all 50 states we will go to our Congressmen and Senators and we vow that we will get them to stop this injustice and free our brothers and sisters.”

Rev. Fannie Smith (WFWP and WIM), Rev. Tanya Edwards and Rev. Reiko Jenkins demand that Japan Stop the Abductions and Free the Victims

Rev. Tanya Edwards National Co Coordinator of Women in Ministry is a direct descendant of William Penn the founder of Pennsylvania and the origin of its name. She said to those gathered, “We stand at the birthplace of the Constitution and religious freedom. We are grateful because of the religious freedom that was established here, we have a place where we can worship God and serve according to our faith. We ask the leaders of Japan, if you are any kind of a leader you will let the people know about these victims and release them. We say it is time to LET THEM GO NOW.”

Rev. Reiko Jenkins, National Co Coordinator and counterpart to Rev. Tanya Edwards said, “I am from Japan and I am an American citizen. I am grateful to be in America to be able to practice my faith. The ACLC Women in Ministry will fight for this religious freedom in Japan. We will never give up until our people are free.”

At the Women In Ministry National Convention the night before Mr. Luke Higuchi and Mrs. Kumiko Francis , both victims of this violent attack on faith shared their testimony bringing the women faith leaders to tears. Mr. Higuchi who heads SAFE now shared, “I was physically thrown in a van. I was committed to a mental institution with no medical exam. I was treated like a dog. I was in solitary for months. I cannot express how terrible it was in words.” Mr. Higuchi was able to escape this torment by convincing the doctors that he was sane and they released him. Mrs. Francis, spoke through her tears, “I was abducted for my faith. (she sobbed). It was so shocking to be held against my will. It is frightening.“ I escaped, but still I am afraid to go home. Her husband is a U.S. Citizen and they have 5 children who cannot go to Japan to see their loved ones because of fear.
Rev. Jenkins, Chairman of ACLC said, “ACLC is totally committed to stop this violation of human rights. The State Department has investigated and confirmed that there is a lack of government action on the local level. Many Congressmen and Senators are now showing deep concern that an important ally such as Japan is not upholding the fundamentals of religious freedom and human rights. Mr. Dan Fefferman, President of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom briefed the Women In Ministry in preparation for the rally. He said, “There are currently several victims held right at this time. Ms. Fujita who was held against her faith and broken, tragically committed suicide in captivity – because no one would help from the police or her family. She lost all hope. Mr. Fefferman traced the human rights and religious persecution in Japan all the way back to an early Christian woman who suffered death and even family betrayal in Rome for their “new” faith. He also highlighted the egregious mistreatment of Mr. Toru Goto who was abused and held captive for 12 years and 5 months. Prosecutors have refused to prosecute when he pressed charges against the known criminals hired by his family."

ACLC Clergy and the women leaders of Women in Ministry have joined together with ACLC Presiding Prelate Rev. In Jin Moon in many visits to congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. The Women’s Federation leaders and the Ambassadors of Peace of UPF have also joined in. Dr. Luonne Rouse a New York pastor and Civil Rights leader supported the Philadelphia rally. He has already organized protests for ACLC at the Japanese Consulate in New York and is calling for a march to the embassy in Washington. He is saying let clergy before the Japanese Consulate in New York saying “We Shall Overcome.” Just as the women concluded their rally and began to march – good news came from Japan - one of the victims escaped to freedom !! One pastor said, “If we as women cry out about injustice, the walls of hate and oppression will come tumbling down.”