Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 444 | Wed 29 Aug 2007
WELCOME to the 17 intercessors who have joined the list this month.
EGYPT, where a debate over religious liberty is heating up. A group
of Coptic converts to Islam wanting to return to Christianity
were denied permission in the courts. However, they successfully
appealed and their case will be reheard in Egypt's Supreme
Administrative Court on 1 September. Subsequent to the Copts'
appeal, a Muslim convert to Christianity named Mohammed Ahmed
Hegazy launched legal action against the Interior Ministry as it
would not officially recognise his conversion to Christianity.
* UPDATE: EGYPT'S RELIGIOUS LIBERTY STRUGGLE. Compass Direct
reports that after Hegazy's case became public, his lawyer
resigned due to death threats and public outrage. Then on 8
August Egyptian police arrested and are holding two Coptic human
rights advocates who interviewed Hegazy (25) on an Internet
forum. Dr Adel Fawzy Faltas (61), Egyptian head of the
Canada-based Middle East Christian Association (MECA), and Peter
Ezzat, a senior MECA member, stand accused of insulting Islam.
Coptic lawyer Peter Ramses Raouf el-Nagar has taken on their case
as well as Hegazy's. Persistent death threats have forced Hegazy
into hiding. Meanwhile Egyptian clerics are debating the issues
and trying to redefine apostasy and religious liberty as issues
of national security rather than of Islam.
LAOS, where Hmong Christians are the primary targets of a
government-sponsored military crackdown against subversives. The
Hmong, who are pro-American and anti-communist, fought alongside
the Americans in the Indochina war. The Hmong have experienced
several periods of revival and thus many are Christians. Several
pastors have been arrested, more are on the run and many
Christians have been arrested or shot.
NORTH KOREA, where the presidents of North and South Korea, having
met just once before in June 2000, will meet 2-4 October for a
hugely important, confidence-building, future-planning summit. It
should be a focus for prayer by Christians everywhere.
* UPDATE: The death toll from the worst floods in North Korea's
recorded history now stands at 600, with thousands injured. It
is hugely significant that now just prior to the summit, South
Korea is sending North Korea aid consisting of building material
and equipment worth 37.4 billion won (US$40 million) as well as
7.1 billion won worth of food, medicine and other supplies. Pray
for growing openness, for human rights to be addressed and
for religious liberty to become a reality for North Korea.
OTHER ISSUES FROM AUGUST
* AFGHANISTAN: KOREANS TO BE RELEASED BUT NATION HELD HOSTAGE
On 19 July, 23 Korean Christian aid workers (mostly nurses and
teachers) were kidnapped south of Kabul and held hostage by Islamic
militants. Subsequently two of the men were murdered and two
seriously ill women were released as 'a gesture of good will'.
As announced on 28 August the remaining 19 Korean Christians are
now being released as a result of negotiations between Korean
officials and pro-Taliban militants. To secure their lives the
Korean government agreed to withdraw all its troops from
Afghanistan by the end of this year (210 non-combatants engaged
purely in reconstruction), withdraw all Korean NGOs and ban Korean
Christians going to Afghanistan for missionary work. Due to the
Taliban's Islamic terrorism, Afghanis will now lose the dedicated
service of hundreds of Korean soldiers and humanitarian workers who
were there simply to improve the lives of Afghani men, women and
children. Pray that our Almighty God will demolish the strongholds
of Islamic repression in Afghanistan.
'The weapons we fight with [mission and prayer] are not the weapons
of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish
strongholds.' (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV)
* INDIA: THREAT ESCALATES IN KARNATAKA
Hindu militants in Chitradurga district of India's southern state
of Karnataka have distributed thousands of leaflets threatening
Christians with death if they do not leave India, or else cease
their 'crimes' and 'return' to Hinduism. Christian 'crimes' are
listed as: 'Treating everyone with love and showing compassion to
the helpless, helping the poor and converting them, educating the
orphans and converting them, promoting freedom to marry, organising
free medical care and ignoring the caste system.' President of the
Global Council of Indian Christians, Sajan K George, appealed
through AsiaNews for 'all right-thinking persons, the media and the
government [to] cry a halt to the violent hate-mongering being
engaged in the name of religion'. Kanartaka's state government,
which is a BJP (Hindu nationalist) - Janata Dal (secular)
coalition, tacitly supports the persecution of Christians. On 3
October Kanartaka's present chief minister, a Janata Dal member,
will step down and be replaced by a BJP member.
SERBIA: TENSIONS RISE IN KOSOVO
Ethnic tensions between Albanians (mostly Muslim) and Serbs (mostly
Serbian Orthodox) continue to rise as talks about the province's
future falter. In July allegations of corruption involving the UN
special envoy for Kosovo, Marti Ahtisaari, and the Albanian mafia
became public. The allegations arose from a UN-sponsored
investigation and the Kosovo Liberation Army has since been
threatening the UN not to interfere. In mid-August authorities
uncovered a massive cache of 93 kilos of explosives in two houses
in the vicinity of Pec, 80km west of Pristina. Two Kosovo Albanians
were arrested. Also in mid-August, a group of well-armed prison
guards at Kosovo's top-security Dubrava prison aided the breakout
of seven inmates. The escapees included the Saudi-born convicted
murderer and terrorist Ramadan Shyti as well as two commanders and
other members of the Albanian National Army. (The ANA is not a
genuine national army but a terrorist group fighting for a Greater
On 22 August 2007 the Serbian church and graveyard in Novake,
Kosovo, was reduced to ashes. During the Kosovo war Novake was
violently 'cleansed' of its 90 Serb families. In March 2004
Novake's 65 families who returned were attacked in a Muslim pogrom
and again forced to flee. Twenty-five traumatised families along
with their vandalised church and graveyard were all that remained.
Now their church and graveyard are gone. Arson is suspected but has
not been confirmed.
'I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My
help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.' (Psalm
We usually provide a summary to use in news-sheets unable to
run the whole of an RLP. As a summary is not practicable with
this monthly update posting we suggest one or more of the above
items be used instead.
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.