Despite a reduction in attacks against Christians in Nigeria in the second half of 2022, with Release International partners initially speculating that this was because of the lead-up to the elections, violence appears to have returned in January with more and more believers killed or kidnapped on an almost daily basis.
Morning Star News (MSN) reports that according to its sources suspected Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians on Sunday, January 22, in northeast Nigeria, following the slaughter of 12 believers the previous Friday in the country’s Middle Belt.
In Bauchi state’s predominantly Christian Tafawa Balewa County, area residents said militant herdsmen attacked the community of Gambar Sabon Layi, killing five Christians and kidnapping another. The area has been attacked by Islamist terrorists and Fulani herdsmen for several years and many of the villages lie in ruins, destroyed by raids that have driven Christian survivors to other parts of Nigeria.
In Benue state, in the country’s Middle Belt, armed Fulani in the pre-dawn hours of Friday, January 20, invaded the predominantly Christian community of Abagena, near Makurdi, the state capital, and killed 12 believers, area residents said in text messages to MSN.
Just three days before, five Christians were killed in the northern Kaduna state, while a church leader in the southeastern Enugu state said Christians there were ‘under siege’ following a terrorist attack and kidnappings.
- This year we are running a major campaign to raise awareness about the ongoing plight of persecuted believers in Nigeria. ‘Out of these Ashes‘ will be launched in the April edition of our Voice magazine.
Pakistan blasphemy law fears
Pakistan’s lower house of parliament has passed legislation to make the country’s blasphemy laws stricter even as their blatant misuse again came to light in a threat falsely to accuse a Christian woman.
The Christian, a widow, was terrified after a Muslim colleague threatened to file the false blasphemy charge because she refused his demand to commit wrongdoing in their work, she said.
Samina Mushtaq, a security official with Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said a Muslim facilities official had demanded she allow an unauthorised vehicle into the parking area of the cargo terminal at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport.
‘[He] threatened to accuse me of blasphemy when I refused to surrender to his illegal demand,’ she told MSN. ‘He said he would call clerics and cut me up.’
The Pakistan National Assembly’s passage on January 17 of legislation that would expand blasphemy statutes has raised fears among Christians. The unanimously passed Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill would increase punishment for insulting the companions, wives and family members of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, from three years to no fewer than 10 years along with a fine of 1 million rupees (£3,100).
The legislation, under Section 298-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), would also make the charge of blasphemy an offence for which bail was not permissible. The legislation is expected to pass unanimously in the Senate, and then it would require the President’s signature to become law.
Anglican Church of Pakistan’s Moderator Azad Marshall said the lower chamber’s unanimous approval of the legislation was worrisome for Pakistani Christians. ‘The existing blasphemy laws have encouraged religious persecution for decades, and this new legislation is bound to exacerbate the problems for our people,’ he told MSN.
Christians care for communist guards!
When the authorities in Chengdu, the capital city of China’s Sichaun province, assigned young guards to watch the home of Dai Zhichao from Early Rain Covenant Church and his family 24 hours a day, they did not give any of the officers warm clothes even in the freezing temperatures. When the church found out that these young people were sitting outside in the cold carrying out surveillance of their innocent pastor they responded by sending them hot water, clothes and quilts to keep them warm!
- That God would sustain Christians across Nigeria in the midst of intensifying persecution
- For an end to the violence and kidnapping perpetrated against believers in Nigeria
- That attempts to extend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws would fail
- Thank God for the members of Early Rain church in China who are showing the love of Christ to their persecutors
(Sources: ChinaAid; Morning Star News)