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Crackdown On Christianity In Middle East And North Africa, Group Suggests

Friday, October 24, 2008 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife Middle East and BosNewsLife Africa Services

CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife) -- An association of Christian agencies and individuals advocating human rights of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, remained concerned Wednesday, October 22, over the situation of several Christian prisoners, some of whom may be executed under recently adopted legislation.

In 'prayer alerts' send by the Internet to supporters, Middle East Concern (MEC) said it was particularly concerned about detained Christians in Iran who it claimed may face the death penalty. "Iranian Christians have requested our prayers for Ramtin, an Iranian believer arrested on August 21 in [the area of] Mashad, and the son of pastor Hussein Soodmand who was [executed] in 1990."

Ramtin is married with two young children. "In August his wife was informed that he would be in prison for a long time. Throughout September she was allowed minimal contact with him, just a minute or two each week on the phone. However, this stopped recently and it is understood that Ramtin is now in solitary confinement," MEC said. "One recent report states that he has now been formally charged with promoting anti-government propaganda and is expected to appear in court within 20 days."

Although two Christian converts detained in May were recently releases, at least over 40 other Christians are believed to be jailed in several towns of Iran, MEC and other sources told BosNewsLife. "One confirmed example concerns three male believers who were detained in [the area of] Urumieh,” in late September, the group said. “These events are occurring in the context of new legislation that will make apostasy, [and especially] leaving Islam a capital offence..."

PARLIAMENT ADOPTION

The draft legislation adopted by parliament awaits approval of the Guardians Council, which investigates all legislation for compliance with Islamic principles. MEC said it was investigating similar cases elsewhere in the region. "Christians in an Arab country have requested our prayers for a believer from a Muslim background who has allegedly been told by an extremist group to revert to Islam by the end of September or be killed. Christians close to our brother are exploring several options for ensuring his safety."

MEC said it was investigating similar cases elsewhere in the region. "Christians in an Arab country have requested our prayers for a believer from a Muslim background who has allegedly been told by an extremist group to revert to Islam by the end of September or be killed. Christians close to our brother are exploring several options for ensuring his safety."

In addition, other Christian workers in the Middle East face detention, including a believer from a Muslim background, who “has [already] been imprisoned because of his faith several times,” MEC said. "In 2004 he was released and started rebuilding his life including taking a manageable business loan to open a shop. However, his family and police have continued to oppose him because of his faith, obstructing his business which has led to our brother incurring mounting debts."

FINANCIAL TROUBLES

MEC said the Christian has been “been unable to pay off these debts and has missed a repayment date. He is now effectively dodging the police for fear of being arrested and imprisoned."

Elsewhere, an African believer in North Africa remained jailed Wednesday, October 21, years after being detained for requesting Christian literature to a Christian media organization in 2001, MEC said. The group did not specify the country and Christian by name, apparently amid security concerns and ongoing negotiations for his release with authorities.

"He wrote in English, but the [media] ministry saw his address and sent him materials in Arabic. When our brother went to his post box to collect the materials he was arrested for importing evangelistic materials." Although the man does not speak or read Arabic, authorities “refused to acknowledge that this was a mistake, MEC said. "It was confirmed recently that he remains imprisoned and is the leader of a small fellowship in his part of the jail. Efforts continue to secure his release."

MEC suggested that the two sensitive cases have underscored a wider crackdown on Christianity throughout the Middle East and North Africa, amid growing influence there of Islamic groups and extremists.

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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Crackdown On Christianity In Middle East And North Africa, Group Suggests