April News from around the World

EGYPT: Army Fires Live Ammunition at Monastery
The recent Egyptian uprising has left Coptic Orthodox monasteries exceedingly vulnerable, as the police who normally guard the monasteries have either deserted their posts or been redeployed to the cities. Exploiting the security vacuum, Arab raiders, jihadists, and prison escapees have attacked and raided several monasteries. When the monks requested protection at the fifth-century Monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi al-Natroun, north of Cairo, they were told they would have to fend for themselves. Islamic law mandates that Christians cannot build or repair churches. On 21 February 2011 soldiers arrived at the monastery in tanks and bulldozers. The demolition was filmed and can be viewed here. The monks held their ground, singing and praying, “Kyrie eleison” (“Lord, have mercy”). (Assist News Service)

ETHIOPIA: Christian Students Attacked by Muslim Mob
According to International Christian Concern, a Muslim mob assaulted and wounded seventeen Christian college students on a short-term mission trip in Oma village on 26 February 2011. The students, who were from Meda Welabu University, went to the Muslim village in Bale province. After the students started to distribute Bibles and speak with the Muslims, one of the villagers argued with them, inciting a mob to attack the students. The Muslims shouted “Allah Akbar” (“Allah is greater”) and hurled stones at the Christians and beat them with rods. The mob overwhelmed the government militia, who attempted to protect the students. When the Christians fled, the mob unsuccessfully attempted to set fire to their car. While Ethiopia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Muslims occasionally attack Christians living in Muslim-majority areas. (Voice of the Martyrs Canada)

IVORY COAST: Political Deadlock Degenerating into Civil War
Internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara has yet to take office in spite of the appointment of a parallel government. The November 2010 election results are being ignored by incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to step aside. Curt Cole, HCJB Global vice president of international ministries, says one of their partners, Fréquence Vie (Life Frequency), was caught in the crossfire in Abobo, a northern suburb of the capital of Abidjan. HCJB Global Voice has partnered with Fréquence Vie since 1999. The crisis in Ivory Coast is creating another “forgotten emergency,” Cole explains, saying up to forty thousand refugees are fleeing into Liberia. Although Liberia has welcomed the refugees and is trying to meet the immediate emergency, HCJB Global is readying their response. ABC University, in the northern part of Liberia, is looking at assisting in some of the refugee camps. (Mission Network News)

LIBYA: Radio Broadcasts Bring Hope Despite Bombings
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi recently launched an air raid on eastern Libya after oil installations appear to have been switching hands between pro-Gaddafi forces and rebel forces. Libya has been in an uproar for weeks. With anti-Gaddafi protests having led to air strikes on protesters, military personnel have fled the country and Tripoli is now surrounded by military tanks, and rebels across the country are armed and ready to fight. The number of deaths associated with the weeks-long, violent uprising in Libya are unclear. Thousands are trying desperately to flee the country. In the midst of tragedy, however, hope has broken through, thanks to radio programming. HCJB Global president Wayne Pederson says, “The satellite provider we have from Europe beaming into North Africa has been able to stay on the air. Other satellite signals have been blocked, but the Lord has enabled our radio signal to continue 24/7 into the households of North Africa and the Middle East.” HCJB broadcasts are able to reach 1.5 million households a week across North Africa and the Middle East. (Mission Network News)

NEW ZEALAND: 6.3-Magnitude Quake Leaves Shattered Churches, Grieving Parishioners
The death toll from the 22 February 2011 6.3-magnitude quake in ChristChurch reached 113, with more than 200 people missing and hundreds injured. About 600 search and rescue workers were working in shifts searching the central city, where several major office buildings were completely destroyed. Estimated damage is $10 billion. Church leaders were searching for alternative places of worship ahead of Sunday services to accommodate parishioners whose buildings are either damaged or in ruins. As many churches are inaccessible, a range of worship options were being considered, from schools to churches that are safe, to open air meetings. (Ecumenical News International)

PAKISTAN: Pakistani Churches Mourn Assassinated Christian Minister
Christian schools and colleges across Pakistan began shutting down for three days to protest the 2 March 2011 assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Roman Catholic and Minister for Religious Minorities. In addition, churches observed Sunday, 6 March as a day of prayer and fasting. On 3 March, Christians and secular groups marched in the cities of Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, and Faisalabad to protest Bhatti's killing. Bhatti, 42, was ambushed and shot dead as he was being driven to his office. A critic of Pakistan's blasphemy law, Bhatti initiated a clemency petition for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman currently in prison on blasphemy charges. “This is a big loss to the Christian community,” said Joseph Francis, founder director of CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement). “We are stunned by the failure of the government to provide proper security to Bhatti. When his car was ambushed, there were no security men around.” Bhatti launched the Christian Liberation Front in his student days and later founded the All Pakistan Minority Alliance. He joined the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in 2002. When the PPP assumed power in early 2008 under President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhatti was nominated to Pakistan’s National Assembly under the reserved quota for Christians. (Ecumenical News International)

SOMALIA: Somali Islamists Kill Twenty-fourth Christian Convert
International Christian Concern has learned that members of the Somali Islamic radical group, Al-Shabaab, killed Abdirahman Hussein Roble, a Christian convert from Islam on 26 January 2011 in Mogadishu. Roble was accused of spying and promoting religious discord by evangelizing Muslims. He is the twenty-fourth Christian to be killed by the Somali Islamists since 2009. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda-linked organization known for enforcing a strict version of Sharia law by stoning adulterers to death, cutting off the hands of thieves, and murdering Christian converts from Islam. According to ICC sources, Al-Shabaab is losing broad support in Somalia due to its brutality. (Assist News Service)