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Permission for 27 more churches in Egypt: Number of Christian structures approved by the government 1958

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Cairo- In July and August 2021, the Egyptian government confirmed that a further 76 churches and buildings owned by the church comply with the regulations for the construction of Christian houses of worship and the associated service buildings. This time the declaration concerned 27 Christian houses of worship and 49 associated buildings. The new list of retrospectively “approved” churches and church buildings was published in the Official Gazette and was approved by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on the basis of the review by the relevant government committee, which was used on an ad hoc basis to implement the retrospective building permits for Christian places of worship and associated buildings, which had been built in the past few decades without the necessary government and administrative permits.

On July 25th of this year, the responsible committee announced its judgment on the legal conformity of the newly approved churches and buildings. The Council of Ministers’ decision to “legalize” these buildings was taken on August 9th. This increases the number of churches and auxiliary service buildings that have been approved since the beginning of the “legalization” of Christian places of worship, which were built in the past without the necessary permits, to 1958.

The review and legalization process began with the adoption of the new law on the construction and management of places of worship, which was ratified by the Egyptian parliament on August 30, 2016. Since then, the government committee set up for this purpose has met 20 times and each time has approved the legalization of other churches and ecclesiastical buildings, which up until then were not legally approved in whole or in part. The last subsequent “approval” of the government committee for the legalization of churches, chapels and ecclesiastical properties took place on April 12 of last year and affected a total of 82 church buildings.

The churches examined by the responsible government committee are mainly those that were built before the new law on the construction of Christian houses of worship came into force. The task of the committee is to check whether thousands of Christian churches and places of worship, which were built in the past without the necessary permits, meet the standards set out in the new law. The control usually leads to the legalization of places of worship.

In the past few decades, many churches and chapels across Egypt have been built spontaneously and without any required permits. Even today, such buildings, which were erected by local Christian communities without legal permission, are repeatedly used as a pretext to incite sectarian violence.

The law on places of worship of August 2016 represented an objective step forward for the Egyptian Christian communities compared to the so-called “10 rules” added in 1934 to the Ottoman legislation by the Ministry of the Interior, which prohibited, among other things, the construction of new churches close to schools, canals, government buildings, railways and residential areas. In many cases, the strict application of these rules had prevented the building of churches in cities and towns inhabited by Christians, especially in the rural areas of Upper Egypt.

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Taliban are carrying out mass executions, says Christian missionary helping Afghans

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Less than a month after the U.S. troops withdrew troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have started arresting, and in some instances executing, people they perceive as their enemies. Recent photos and video suggest they’re killing as many as 30 to 40 at a time, Christian missionary David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces and Ranger officer, said in a media interview.

The way the United States pulled out is “dishonorable, and a horrible breaking of promises … and leaving thousands of people behind that we promised we’d take out with us including American citizens,” Eubank, who is from Free Burma Rangers and provides humanitarian services in war-torn areas, told CBN News.

In some instances, the pull-out has been “cowardly,” he continued, speaking from Tajikistan, which neighbors Afghanistan and where many Afghans are arriving after fleeing the Taliban.

“Taliban are hunting down people right now, trying to get all the names of anyone they perceive as an enemy,” Eubank said, adding that the enemies include “people who work with the U.S. government, people who are with other governments, people who work with non-governmental organizations they don’t agree with.”

Eubank, who is in Tajikistan to help Afghans, also said that “many have been executed. … I’ve seen recent photos of 30 to 40 people [being executed].”

Eubank clarified that he doesn’t know the scale of the killings or the arrests, “but I believe it’s countrywide now.”

The Taliban are allowing American citizens who have identity cards to escape, he continued, adding that “anyone who doesn’t have papers, anyone they perceive as an enemy, they are going to arrest them, and, in many cases, execute them.”

The people in Afghanistan “are in terror,” Eubank added.

According to its website, Free Burma Rangers have helped 1.5 million displaced persons to date who would have otherwise died.

In an interview with The Christian Post last year, Eubank shared: “I am motivated by what Jesus does for me and want to share His love and encourage people to follow Him. We are not to be led by comfort, fear or pride, but go in the love God gives us. We go into areas of direct combat to save lives and share love.”

Following the drawing down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly seized control of much of the country, taking the capital Kabul last month and forcing the government to flee.

The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern warned last week that as the Taliban is cracking down on protests and journalists, concerns are also being raised among religious minorities of increased oppression and persecution because the Taliban have promised strict enforcement of Sharia law.

Almost all Afghan Christians — estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000 — are converts from Islam and remain largely closeted and hidden from the public eye due to severe persecution.

“Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general,” ICC reports. “In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.”
Sources:Christian Post

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ICC report on religious persecution of Christians in China over the past year

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International Christian Concern (ICC) has just published a new report on persecution in China. In it, ICC lists and analyzes over 100 incidents of Christian persecution between July 2020 and June 2021, a period marked by a significant campaign by the Chinese government to forcefully convert independent religious organizations into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This forceful assimilation—also called Sinicization—has continued to intensify since it was introduced as part of the Four Requirements campaign launched in 2018. Since then, the government has only increased its attempts to use the Church for political purposes. It has gone as far as converting church buildings into propaganda centers and even regulating the content of sermons in order to promote communist party values.

Three-Self churches are part of the legal framework the CCP uses to systemically curb Christianity, including Catholicism. If a church is not registered as a state-sanctioned church, it is violating the law and the CCP can step in at any time to shut it down, prosecute individuals, and put enormous social pressure on attendees. As described in last year’s report, registered churches are at the mercy of laws that were passed entirely in contradiction to the constitution and enforced by multiple departments, bureaus, and agencies using them to suppress house church activity.

A significant trend throughout the past year was church raids. In them, not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and church attendees were often arrested. One example of a church raid was in September 2020, in Sichuan province, when China’s Public Security Bureau of Nanbu deployed over 30 police officers to raid an underground Protestant house church, known as Sola Fide. When police arrived on the scene, they arrested 50 Sola Fide members. Throughout this process, the police tore down crosses and other Christian symbols and destroyed hymnals and Bibles.

With the intensified crackdown against churches, both state-vetted and underground, there is no longer a safe place to be a Christian in China. Almost every province in China has seen an increase in Christian persecution over the last year.

The Religious Affairs Bureau and the CCP have a single goal: to prevent religious influence from threatening their communist control.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “China tightening down on people of faith comes as no surprise to observers. What is concerning is the depth and width of persecution and that it continues to expand. From Xinjiang to Sichuan, from state-sanctioned groups to underground churches, from verbal threats to imprisonment, believers in China are constantly watched and persecuted, as documented in ICC’s latest incident report. The international community should not appease Beijing and let it get away with its blatant disregard for human rights.”

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