For many Western Christians, the mention of "Iraq" gives rise to mental images of Saddam Hussein and the Gulf War. Few realize that there are Christians in Iraq and that those Christians have arguably suffered more from the U.N. sanctions imposed after the 1991 war than from government oppression.
LONDON (Compass) -- Mobs attacked five East Java churches, and six Ambon Christians were hacked to death in May in a sudden escalation of religious violence being played out in Indonesia against a backdrop of increasing political instability.
HO CHI MINH, Vietnam (Compass) -- There has been a long history of persecution of minority Christians in Vietnam's Western Highlands, where churches have largely had to operate underground since the communist takeover in 1975.
The wife and children of Baptist prisoner Shageldy Atakov in Turkmenistan have been told by the local mullah, administration officials and officers of the country's political police, the KNB (former KGB), that they may not believe in Jesus Christ and must convert to Islam. According to a statement from local Baptists -- passed on to Keston News Service by the German-based Friedensstimme mission -- officials in the town of Kaakhka, close to Turkmenistan's southern border with Iran, also warned Atakov's wife, Artygyul, that the family home would be confiscated if Christians continue to meet there.
Police in Pakistan's Punjab province registered another questionable blasphemy case against one of its Christian citizens on April 1, jailing a respected high school principal for slander he allegedly spoke two months ago against Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. Pervaiz Masih, founding director of the Iqbal Memorial High School in Chelay Kay village near Sialkot, was arrested at his home on April 1 during a late-night police raid.
One Christian was seriously injured and 35 more were hospitalized when about 100 Buddhist extremists assaulted the congregation of the Sanasum Sevana (New Life) Christian Center as they prayed on Sunday morning, February 18. The church is located in Nurwarawatte, near Hinguragoda, 220 kilometers northeast of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.
Turkmenistan's political police evicted a Protestant Christian pastor with his wife and two children from their home near Ashgabad on December 9, confiscating their personal deed of ownership and sealing the gate to prevent their return.
Maluku's head of police admitted that authorities cannot dislodge the hundreds of Muslim jihad fighters scattered throughout eastern Indonesia's Maluku province and who have escalated the inter-religious conflict as Christmas approaches. More than 100 Christians were reported killed in November fighting.