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Muslims have destroyed a Pentecostal  Church in Shaikhpura, Pakistan

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Shaikhpura: Pentecostal shrine in Hakimpura in Shaikhpura district of Punjab province of Pakistan was attacked by a mob of militant Muslims. Following the attack on Friday, the church was left empty, which destroyed a wall and cross of the Trinity Pentecostal church. Behind the attack were armed Muslims led by property developer Abbas and Ali Shan with anti-Christian slogans demanding the return of the land purchased for the shrine.

The former owner was demanding that the 101-square-meter vacant land be sold back to the shrine. Believers say the attack is blasphemy and needs action.

There are more than sixty families under the Trinity Pentecostal Church. Abbas and seven others have been charged with blasphemy by the police, but no arrests have been made so far. Usually when such cases occur, the police intervene and rescue the victims. The Christians had staged a protest demanding the arrest of the attackers.

Last Friday, the attackers, led by Awan Abbas, a property developer, and Ali Shan, came armed with guns. They entered the church around noon, taking advantage of the fact that the building was empty due to the coronavirus-related lockdown.

Shouting anti-Christian slogans and showing contempt for the place of worship, they attacked the walls and broke a cross, desecrating the building.

He explained that the community was involved in a dispute over land duly bought last year near the church to accommodate the growing community.

After selling it, the former owner of the empty plot of 101 square metres now wants it back, perhaps to get a better deal.

The Church filed a report of the attack with police and launched a blasphemy case against Abbas and seven other men who vandalised the church.

News of the incident quickly spread across the country, causing anger and sadness among Christians. The community wants Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government to provide greater protection to Pakistan’s minorities and demand the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Boota Masih, a local Christian, told  that the group of thugs, after attacking the walls and the cross, challenging anyone who dare oppose them, fled as soon as they heard police was arriving. “Not only was the cross broken, but our hearts were crushed too,” he said.

Tariq Masih Gill, a member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, visited the church. “The cross that was desecrated has great importance and value in both Christianity and Islam,” he said. “The culprits have not only dishonoured our faith, but also our national flag, which also represents minorities.”

Provincial Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Minister Ijaz Augustine also visited the church. He asked police to take immediate action against the perpetrators, without favouritism or discrimination.

Senior officers at the local police station said they were fully committed to the case, and would bring the culprits to justice soon.

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Vietnamese Christian Imprisoned for Trumped Up Charge Returns Home

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Vietnam– A pastor in northwestern Vietnam told ICC that on January 10, a Christian man named Sung A Khua returned home after serving two and a half year in prison.

In 2018, when Sung A Khua and his family converted to Christianity, they were facing a lot of hostilities and persecution from the local authorities and villagers. Soon after his conversion, the local authorities and villagers came and prevented him and his family from attending church. They were asked to denounce their Christian faith. But he ignored them, continued to attend church, and grew in his faith. Later that year, the villagers destroyed his house and confiscated his properties, so his family had to move out and lived temporary near the forest.

With the intervention of the leading pastor, the authorities allowed them to return home and repaired their house with some support from friends. Similar to many other tribal people living in that area, he went to the forest to log some wood to repair his house. He was soon arrested by the local authorities and brought to the court. On Nov 26th, 2018, he was charged for illegally logging and destroying the forest and was sentenced to a 30-month imprisonment. This is a common tactic used to intimate Christian converts.

Though he has now returned to his family, he will be placed under the surveillance of the local authorities for at least six months to two years. The local government forbids any visit to his family. Some pastors and friends have tried to reach out to him but to no avail. A Khua will probably face many challenges from now on as he begins life anew. Please remember him and his family in your prayer.

Sources:persecution

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Christians in Nepal Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

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Nepal– Persecution in Nepal continues to be an increasing concern for the growing Christian population of the predominantly Hindu country. The Global Press Journal recently published an article discussing the story of Pastor Hari Tamang, a current example of this persecution. Pastor Tamang has been falsely charged with trafficking children and attempted conversions after he had agreed to shelter children who would have otherwise been put on the street because their former shelter could not help them any longer. Although the trafficking charges were dropped, Tamang is still years later fighting the charges of attempted conversion of the children.

Nepalese law allows for the free exercise of one’s religion but forbids the conversion of others. This has produced a context of growing tensions in the society. The Nepalese Christian community says that they are holding fast to the principle that Christ calls His followers to share their faith, but choosing to follow Him is an individual choice, not something to be forced on anyone. Nevertheless, this community is consistently accused of forcefully converting.

Similar cases to that of Pastor Tamang have become more common throughout Nepal as the growth of Christianity as skyrocketed. Advocacy organizations estimate that Christians now number between 2 and 3 million throughout Nepal, comprising a larger portion of the Nepalese population than ever before. Nepal’s churches number between 10,000 and 12,000 across the country.

In neighboring India, similar anti-forced conversion laws have been implemented in several states across the country with similar penalties. India, however, has been leading the way in persecuting religious minorities – a trend that only encourages the predominantly Hindu country of Nepal to take similar actions.

The Church also conducts a good deal of aid distribution in communities of need throughout Nepal, which also raises the suspicions of local authorities and devout Hindus who see it as a ploy for conversions. In other words, the charitable actions of the Church are viewed with suspicion. Regardless of this, the Church continues their mission and remains adamant that no forced conversions are taking place, arguing that they are simply fulfilling the teachings of their faith in aiding and serving the poor. The free exercise of religion for Christians means doing exactly that.
Sources:persecution

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