From Xyklon B to Machetes: Our Lady in the Age of Genocide

I wrote this a couple of years ago. Since I was too busy to write anything yesterday, I’ve decided to post it again today. It’s in serious need of updating in light  of recent events, (which I may do on Monday) but I think it’s still worth a look, as it is. 

Genocide was the 20th Century’s iconic crime. It was, for much of the world, a 100-year bloodbath.

Murderous governments used killers armed with everything from Xyklon B to machetes to wage war against civilians with the aim of wiping entire tribes and populations of people from the earth. It began with the Armenian Genocide and kept on rolling through to the Sudan. Other eras were guilty of genocidal war. But when it came to efficiency and numbers, nobody did it better than the genocidal warriors of the 20th Century.

Our hope, as we left the old century behind, was that we had somehow contrived to leave these impulses for organized murder behind us. We thought they belonged in the forgotten junk drawer of that era, beside the vacuum tubes and eight track tapes. Unfortunately, genocide trailed us into the 21st Century and is already making a real name for itself here.

Not so long ago, within living memory, we stood beside the mass graves and crematoriums of the Third Reich and vowed “never again.” But, as my grandmother used to tell me, “Never say never.”

Genocide led us on a blood-drenched march through the last half of the 20th Century. In 50 short years of history, it drug us from the Nazi death camps to the Killing Fields of Cambodia, through the slaughter in Rwanda, and on to the Sudan.
 Today, it is the Christians who are being targeted for extermination.

Each day brings a new and horrific story of Christians murdered because they are Christians in many places around globe, but particularly the Middle East and parts of Africa. Deacon Greg Kandra, over at The Deacon’s Bench, posted Monday on the plight of Christians in Syria.

In his post, Can Syria’s Christians Survive? Deacon Greg quotes a Wall Street Journal article that says in part:

“… Syria’s Christian communities are being severely tested by the uprising that has racked the country for more than a year. They think back to 636, when the Christian Byzantine emperor Heraclius saw his army defeated by Muslim forces south of present-day Damascus. “Peace be with you Syria. What a beautiful land you will be for our enemies,” he lamented before fleeing north to Antioch. In the 8th century, a famed Damascus church was razed to make way for the Umayyad Mosque—today one of Islam’s holiest sites.

Not a few Christians in modern-day Syria worry that the current crisis could end the same way for them if Bashar al-Assad and his regime are defeated by the rebel insurgency … ” Read more here:  Can Syria’s Christians Survive?

This is especially poignant today, on the Feast of the Assumption, since this feast honors Mary, Our Lord’s mother. Our Lady spent her last years in what is modern day Turkey. Her last home is believed to have been high on a hillside not far from the city of Ephesus.

When I visited this site last year, I was impressed by the long lines of believers who had traveled from all over the world to stand in the cool shade of this hillside. It was equally striking to see Muslims and Christians in line together, waiting their turn to enter the tiny rooms of the reconstructed ruin of Our Lady’s home.

You can touch the stones that formed the lower portion of her original house, hear the breeze riffling through the trees, and drink from a spring that may have supplied her water. It’s easy to imagine how peaceful this home would have been for her, especially after visiting the stone metropolis of Ephesus not far away. Her empty grave must lie a short distance from this place. She was assumed into heaven from here.

I wanted to attend mass at this spot, but we got there too late in the day. What I did instead was break the “no entry” rule posted beside the ropes surrounding the little outdoor chapel and take a seat in one of the chairs. I wanted to be alone, to feel the Presence in that place and to pray. The guard eyed me quietly and then respectfully backed away, his rifle hanging limp at his side.

When I had told one of my Muslim companions that I wanted to be alone to pray, he said, “Pray for me too,” and I did.

It was easy here, in this quiet bubble of grace next to the long lines of pilgrims chattering in their many languages, to believe that we could put it all aside. We could give up the things that divide us and remember the things that make us one.

We are all born of woman. We will all die. We are children of the same One God Who loves us the way any parent loves his children.

That should be enough. It should be more than enough to make us think long and hard about this nasty habit we have of killing one another.

What are we going to say when we stand before God and try to explain ourselves?

It was unfathomable to me, sitting in that holy place, that there are people so demented and lost that they honestly believe that God will reward them for the wanton killing of His children. But I know that such people exist. I’ve witnessed first-hand the carnage that terrorists cause.

If there is one message in this Feast of the Assumption, it’s that we not only have One Father; we have One Mother, as well.

I saw Muslims and Christians, standing in line together to honor her. A hardened Turkish guard respectfully backed away to let me pray my Christian prayers. From The Deacon’s Bench, to the bleached stones of Ephesus and on uphill to the riffling breezes of her last home, Our Lady does what mothers always do.

She makes us family.

Mary truly is the Mother of God. Jesus gave her to humanity when He told the Apostle John, “This is your mother.” She is mother to us all, Muslim and Christian alike.

I think her love is the bridge that will one day bring us together.

Fifteen Nigerian Military Officials Found Guilty of Arming Boko Haram


Now it’s beginning to make sense.

Boko Haram, the mass murderers in the name of Allah who have rampaged at will over Northern Nigerian for years never made sense of me.

They were heavily armed and appeared to be able to burn down churches and schools, engage in protracted assaults on large institutions, without undue interference from the government of Nigeria. Boko Haram could waltz into any location, kill, raze, burn and kidnap, then waltz back out and nobody stopped them.

They are a good-sized band of armed men, rampaging over the countryside, yet nobody can figure out where they are. They have no visible means of support, yet they are fed, clothed, sheltered, armed and trained — all, we are led to believe, by magic, or the terrorist fairy or some such.

It never made sense. Not one bit of sense.

In fact, it reeked of government corruption on a vast scale.

This has been going on, and the bodies have been piling up, for a long time. So far as I know, I was the only one who kept asking these impertinent questions about who was funding them, why the Nigerian military couldn’t find them and take them out, and what, exactly, was so rotten in Nigeria. My questioning ranged far and wide, including what I fervently hope turns out to be wrong fears that somehow or other the oil in Nigeria had involved American interests in this killing on some level.

Whatever was going on, I knew absolutely that the stories we were hearing did not add up.

The smell of it all finally got seriously international when Boko Haram kidnapped around 300 school girls with the stated purpose of selling them as sex slaves. (They did say they were going to sell some of them as “wives,” but “wife” in this context sounds like sex slave to me.)

All it took was a bit of looking. Or rather just a tad of not ignoring the obvious. The international outrage allowed the obvious to come up and start biting prominent Nigerians in the nose.

In what I expect, if there is any genuine honesty building in Nigeria, will be the very first and smallest revelation, ten of Nigeria’s generals and five other high-ranking officers have been found guilty of supplying arms to Boko Haram. These are generals from the same military that was in charge of protecting the civilian population from the terrorists.

Reports coming out of Nigeria say that soldiers have been talking about this — and being ignored — for quite some time. There are other reports that members of the Nigerian military actually participate in Boko Haram’s raids on the civilians that the military is supposed to protect. Then, after murdering the people whose safety they are charged to maintain, these same soldiers go back into column with whatever passes for a “legitimate” military in Nigeria.

I’m guessing that the police, as well as government officials on every level, are involved in this, as well.

People I know in Nigeria have told me that the corruption there is overwhelming. They tell me that it is impossible to engage in business with the government at any level without bribing officials. Bribes are taken as a commonplace, something expected in order to function. I’ve been told that Christians demand and accept bribes, as well as others.

I have a small message for every Nigerian Christian: Do not ask for or accept bribes.

I have another small message for every Nigerian Christian clergyman: If you are not preaching about honesty and exhorting your parishioners to stop soliciting and accepting bribes, you are ignoring one of the most poisonous sins in your society. Get with it preachers: Preach.

As for the generals and members of the Nigerian military who have committed this treason, I think the death penalty is warranted. I generally oppose the death penalty, but this is a situation in which the government is too corrupt to trust to keep these people out of action where they can not continue to do harm. When the government cannot provide for the public safety without the death penalty, then the death penalty becomes a necessity.

This breakdown of governance needs to be stopped if Nigeria is to survive.

From ABC News:

Ten generals and five other senior military officers have been found guilty in courts-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram extremists, several Nigerian newspapers said Tuesday, though the military insisted there was no truth in the reports.

They follow months of allegations from politicians and soldiers who told The Associated Press that some senior officers were helping the Islamic extremists and that some rank-and-file soldiers even fight alongside the insurgents and then return to army camps. They have said that information provided by army officers has helped insurgents in ambushing military convoys and in attacks on army barracks and outposts in their northeastern stronghold.

Leadership newspaper quoted one officer saying that four other officers, in addition to the 15, were found guilty of “being disloyal and for working for the members of the sect.”

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, who last week denied reports saying senior officers were being investigated, reiterated in a statement on Tuesday that defense headquarters “wishes to state once again categorically that there is no truth whatsoever in the report.”

He called it a “falsehood” concocted by those who “appear hell-bent on misleading Nigerians and the international community to give credence to the negative impression they are so keen to propagate about the Nigerian military.”

Nigeria’s military often denies substantiated reports, such as on extrajudicial killings of civilians and detainees. It is accused of such gross human rights violations that the U.S. efforts to help in the rescue of nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls have been limited by U.S. law restricting sharing of some types of information and technology with abusive security forces.

The alleged sabotage by senior officers could explain the military’s failure to curb a 5-year-old Islamic uprising by Boko Haram that has killed thousands despite a year-long state of emergency in the northeast.

Nigerian Villagers Kill Boko Haram Terrorists

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It appears that the ordinary people of Nigeria are getting enough of Boko Haram.

Villagers in Northern Nigeria have evidently lost faith in the government and begun taking things in their own hands. According to reports in Al Jezeera, local people in Northern Nigeria have killed and detained scores of Boko Haram “fighters” suspected of planning another attack.

After locals from the village of Kalbalge learned of an impending Boko Haram attack, they ambushed two trucks loaded with gunmen. At least 41 fighters were killed in the attack and approximately 10 armed men were disarmed and detained.

Kalbalge is in Borno, the same province where more than 300 girls were abducted last month. Boko Haram has been burning churches and murdering innocent civilians with impunity for years. I have personally talked to an Anglican bishop from Northern Nigeria whose church was burned, daughter was abducted and a parishioner beheaded.

In January, Boko Haram attacked a large Nigerian school, killed 29 boys, some as young as 11, burned their bodies and set fire to the school. They bombed the bus station in Abuja, just a few days after kidnapping the girls. On May 8, Boko Haram attacked the Nigerian village of Gamboru Ngala, killing at least 150 people, some of whom they burned alive. They have abducted more schoolgirls since the abduction in April.

From the New York Post:

I normally do not like vigilante law. But if the government of Nigeria either can’t or won’t defend the people of their nation, the ordinary citizens must do something themselves.

They’re still stealing children.

Islamist extremist group Boko Haram continues to rampage freely through northeastern Nigeria, blowing up a second strategic bridge, killing an unknown number of villagers and abducting the wife and two children of a retired police officer, residents said Saturday.

News of the ongoing carnage came as a team of French intelligence experts landed in the country, joining American and British teams with hopes of rescuing 276 school girls kidnapped more than three weeks ago by the terrorist group.

Details were murky on the latest child captives, taken Friday as Boko Haram converged on the town of Liman Kara on the Cameroon border, driving 3,000 people from their homes.

Officials and residents said they fled the carnage without having time to count their dead.

…  The group, which seeks to abolish Western-style schools and impose fundamentalist Sharia law on the country, has captured or shot hundreds of schoolchildren in its five-year reign of terror.

First Lady: Bring Back Our Girls

First Lady Michelle Obama made a public statement about the barbarous kidnapping of over 200 school girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Mrs Obama broadened her discussion to talk about the war on girls, in particular the war on the education of girls, which is occurring in many parts of the world today. Cowardly men throw acid in little girl’s faces, maiming and disfiguring them for life are unfit to be called men.

A society in which bands of armed men abduct hundreds of girls from their school in order to use and sell them as sex slaves is unfit to cohabit with the civilized world.

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Nigeria’s President Asked for US Aid Against Boko Haram Last Fall

President Jonathan Goodluck of Nigeria asked President Obama to help him fight Boko Haram last fall.

I know he was serious about it because he does what anybody who is serious about making their case with our elected officials must do: He hired a high-dollar lobbyist to do his talking for him.

It cost Nigeria $3 million to hire the Patton Boggs lobbying firm to explain that Boko Haram are terrorists to American politicians. If that doesn’t tell you where things are with our government (and I’m not talking about the Rs and the Ds, I am talking about our government) then nothing will.

One of the most important things President Goodluck wanted was to have Washington define Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, something the State Department has refused to do. This would have made it possible to track monies going to fund Boko Haram, which, in my opinion, is a key factor in bringing them down. I’ve written before about the American government’s refusal to do this.

American officials have been talking a lot since the groundswell of public outrage created by the kidnapping of around 300 Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram. As it becomes clear that the girls were kidnapped to sell and use as sex slaves, public outrage has deepened, leading to even more Beltway chatter on the subject.

First Lady Michelle Obama has even gotten into the act.

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Unfortunately a good bit of what American officials have been saying has turned out to be either lies or a reflection of how badly misinformed they are. Claims that Nigeria has refused American help due to an insular resistance to outsiders have turned out to be untrue. Instead, the Nigerians have been asking for our help and have been turned away.

So, where does that leave us, other than concerned about these poor girls and, as usual, feeling cynical about the lying liars in our own government?

I think one thing we should consider is the fact that Nigeria is an oil producing nation. As such, that makes it prey for all sorts of corporatist interests. I do not know what part that plays in this sad drama, but I’m guessing that it is a significant one.

I was talking about this situation in Nigeria with friends over dinner a few nights ago. One of them said, “be careful about blaming the Nigerians. Once we get into this, we may find out that the we’re (meaning our government and corporatist interests) are mixed up in it somehow.”

That still hasn’t been proven.

What we know is that people in Washington have spewed out a bunch of inaccurate statements about America’s behavior and that of the Nigerian government. We also know that our government has refused to help Nigeria in the recent past, and that there is oil money involved in Nigerian politics.

I’ve been critical of President Goodluck’s government and its inability or unwillingness to respond appropriately to Boko Haram’s terrorism. I am still utterly confounded by the Nigerian government’s long-term failure to protect its citizens. I am disgusted by the lies coming out of Washington, as well.

Maybe instead hiring expensive lobbyists to make his case before the American government, President Goodluck should just have hired someone like Blackwater. I’m not much for mercenary soldiers. But when the military of a nation is so inept, and the other nations it goes to for help are so … whatever this bunch in DC are … that may be something to consider. How many lives and how much chaos does Boko Haram have to cost before enough is too much?

That speculation aside, the important issue of when these deadheads are going to stop lying and blaming each other and get those girls back hasn’t been addressed.

From ABC News:

WASHINGTON – The Government of Nigeria last fall hired a powerful Washington lobbying firm to press its case for intelligence on violent terror group Boko Haram and to persuade the Obama administration to donate non-lethal equipment in the hunt for extremists, according to documents filed with the U.S. government.

Since nearly 300 schoolgirls in the northeastern town of Chibok were abducted nearly a month ago by a large force of Boko Haram militants, some officials in Washington have blamed the challenge of confronting the al Qaeda-aligned group formed in 2009 — but designated only last November as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. – on Nigeria’s resistance to accepting outside help.

The U.S. designation allows freezing of bank assets, adding Boko Haram members to no-fly lists and prioritizes law enforcement actions. ABC News and The Daily Beast reported Thursday that debates within the U.S. and Nigerian governments over how much of a threat was posed by the group delayed it being declared an FTO and a military Tier One Threat Group for two years.

Amid an international outcry over April’s abductions by Boko Haram of the Chibok schoolgirls, some U.S. officials have insisted that Nigeria didn’t want the FTO designation earlier than 2013 because it might elevate Boko Haram’s global jihadi status.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks Monday echoed those who’ve said that the African nation’s fierce pride also led it to shoo away offers of American and British counter-terrorism assistance, even after a United Nations office in Abuja was bombed three years ago.

“The [Nigerian] government had its own set of strategies, if you will, in the beginning,” Kerry said at a press conference. “And you can offer and talk, but you can’t do [anything] if a government has its own sense of how it’s proceeding. I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort.”

The FBI Stands Ready to Help Rescue Nigerian Girls

The FBI stands ready to assist Nigeria to help find the approximately 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Considering the abysmal failure of Nigeria’s government to deal effectively with Boko Haram, I think they should consider taking the offer.

What role does government corruption play in the continued successes that Boko Haram has had at killing unarmed civilians and burning down churches and schools? This kidnapping is not the first time Boko Haram has attacked a Nigerian school.

On February 24 of this year, they slaughtered 59 boys aged 11 to 18 by shooting and burning them at a government school in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, Nigeria. They also burned the school’s 24 buildings to the ground.

The government was not able to stop them, even though an attack like this must have taken quite a bit of time. The government has been unable to track Boko Haram down and kill or capture their leaders.

Boko Haram appears to be heavily armed with expensive weapons, as well as having pickup trucks, armored vehicles and motorcycles. I’ve raised the question of money before. It takes money to buy these things. It also takes money to buy gasoline, food and the other necessities of maintaining this group.

Who is funding Boko Haram?

Why is the Nigerian government unable to track them down? How can they manage to engage in sustained attacks on schools in which they murder large numbers of people by shooting them, then have the time to burn down the facilities and burn the bodies as well without the government responding?

I have no doubt that the FBI can find these people. Nigeria needs to take all the help it can get.

From ABC News:

U.S. law enforcement officials said today that the FBI is standing ready for a possible deployment to Nigeria to help find the 276 teenage girls abducted from a school, but that no help had yet been requested.

Related: Who are the kidnapped Nigerian girls?

“Last week, the attorney general told U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare a report for him on the kidnapping of the 300 girls in Nigeria and also requested an assessment of Boko Haram, the militant group behind the kidnapping,” a government official told ABC News.

As many as 300 girls, ages 16 to 18, were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 15, according to the Associated Press. The students had been studying for final exams at their local school.

Police said that about 53 had escaped but as many as 276 remained in captivity. The leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for the kidnapping and said he intended to sell the girls in the marketplace, according to a video obtained by the news agency AFP.

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Nigeria: Islamic Extremists Kidnap 100 Girls from School

Boko haram

Boko Haram has kidnapped over 100 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Nigeria.

Boko Haram gunmen stormed the town after dark, set fire to several buildings and engaged government troops who were guarding the school in gunfire. They evidently overpowered the troops, then loaded the girls on a truck and drove away.

According to a RightScoop article, the purpose of the abductions is to use the girls for both sex slaves and slave laborers.

Al Qaeda and charitable fronts, including at least one such front in Britain are reputed to be funding the terrorist organization.  This raises the question in my mind as to who, exactly, “Al Qaeda” is. I know that we’ve heard the name in news stories over and over, but who are they? Where are they getting the money to fund rebels in a war in Syria and a guerrilla war in Nigeria, as well as all sorts of disruptive engagements elsewhere?

Aside from all other questions, war on any scale does not come cheap, and money on a war-making scale is not quiet. Who is selling them their armaments, and who is paying for them? Who is supplying them with food, clothing and shelter? Who buys the pickup trucks and motorcycles they ride around in? Who sells them the gasoline and who maintains the vehicles? Where are these vehicles parked when they’re not in use?

This is a large scale operation, and it is inexplicable to me that the Nigerian government can not track it down. If they are coming over the border from neighboring countries, why can’t that be tracked?

As for Syria, this an outright war effort that has engaged the Syrian government in a fight for its life. Again, who is feeding/supplying/training/housing a whole army of rebels?

I do not believe that governments in the West are ignorant of the answers to these questions. Money of this magnitude is a force. It’s like a big river, and like all big rivers, it has tributaries and runs in a course. Shoulder-shrugging and waving of the Al Qaeda bogeyman is beginning to look like a way to keep from telling the truth.

I’m asking these questions because I don’t “get” why the Nigerian government is so incapable of tracking these killers down and taking them out. If this was the first time this kind of attack had happened, the government’s inability to respond would make a kind of sense. However, after years of these atrocities, you’d think somebody would have figured out a plan of action.

Reports I’ve read about this raid said that the terrorists showed up riding motorcycles and driving trucks. I know this is a naive question, but why is the Nigerian government so helpless in the face of that?

People I know from Nigeria have told me that corruption is a way of doing business there, including corruption throughout all levels of government. Does corruption play a part in the government’s inability to track these killers down? What effect does the divided loyalties of the country’s Muslims have on the issue?

To circle back around, who, exactly, is putting this together? I seriously doubt that a bunch of thugs on motorcycles and driving pick-up trucks are the big brains who have raised the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to fund and organize a long-term operation like this.

These repetitive stories of Boko Haram attacking unarmed civilians and then riding off into the night unchallenged are beginning to grate.

I’ll go back to my earlier question. Who is Al Qaeda? By that I mean who is bankrolling them, arming them and feeding this blood-thirsty beast of war on civilian populations by groups of thugs?

 

Nigerian Christians Want Peace, Not Vengeance

Nigerian Christians call for peace, not vengeance. They even talk of forgiveness. The Nigerian Christians I have corresponded with have — every single one of them — asked for prayer.

Our resolve to help them and stand by them must not falter. What that means — among other things — is that we must not allow ourselves to bullied into silence by personal attacks against us from those who want to turn a blind eye to Christian persecution. We must never allow them to divide us from other Christians.

We all stand in solidarity before the cross. We in the West are called to show that solidarity when it comes to the violent persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need to lift up the witness of these martyred Christians and their families and friends for all the world to see.

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Bleeding Nigeria and Boko Haram

Boko Haram has killed at least 1600 people in Northern Nigeria since 2010.

It’s a repetitive story of bombings, mass shootings and knife attacks, much of it centered on the northern city of Kano. I used to know people who lived in Kano and I’ve heard their stories of atrocities against the Christians there.

This business of killing Christians in Kano precedes Boko Haram. LIke all forms of persecution, it gets and has gotten worse over time. A couple of decades ago, I knew people who were  victimized by deadly anti-Christian riots that were more or less disorganized and at least somewhat spontaneous.

But for the past 10 years or so Kano and all of northern Nigeria has been subjected to the organized violence of Boko Haram. I’ve published posts here at Public Catholic indicating that Boko Haram is funded and trained by extremist Muslim forces from outside Nigeria, indeed, from outside Africa. It appears that at least some of the funding for Boko Haram may be coming through England,

That’s an interesting and sad thought. A small child who is blown to bits on a summer’s evening may owe his or her death to the actions of international financiers and organizers who have given over their lives to organized killing.

A few days ago, Boko Haram struck again with a series of bomb blasts in Kano. These happened during the evening hours in the Christian section of the city. Many Muslims were out at the same time, because of Ramadan.

As usual for these things, Boko Haram has taken to killing other Muslims who don’t conform to their ideas, in addition to Christians.

My question: Why don’t the Muslims and Christians unite against these killers and get rid of them?

Another question: Why don’t the rest of us in the “civilized” world put their money people in prison? I don’t think it would be too difficult to write a law that could shut them down.

In the meantime, the killing and the dying go on in bleeding Nigeria.

From the Associated Press:

Associated Press

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Multiple explosions rocked a Christian area in Nigeria’s northern Kano city Monday night, with security forces ferrying scores of wounded to hospitals.

A mortuary attendant at Murtala Mohammed Specialists Hospital said at least 10 bodies had been brought in from the scene. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Nigeria is fighting an Islamic uprising by extremists based mainly in the northeast, where the government has declared a state of emergency. Kano city and state are not part of that emergency.

Nigeria’s government is fighting an Islamic uprising by a network called Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden.” The group wants Islamic law imposed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million, which is divided almost equally between Christians who live mainly in the south and Muslims who dominate the north.

Witness Kolade Ade said at least one blast appeared to come from a Mercedes-Benz parked beside a kiosk selling alcohol and soft drinks.

“After the first bomb, I threw myself into the canal (drain) to hide. There were at least three blasts,” he said.

The explosions came as hundreds of people thronged the area in Sabon Gari neighborhood, where some were playing snooker and others table tennis.

 

15 Countries Named for ‘Systematic, On-Going’ Abuse of Religious Freedom

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a recent report that named 15 Countries of Particular Concern because of the threats that their governments pose to religious liberty.

These countries are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. The governments in these countries have “either engaged in or tolerated systematic, on-going, egregious abuse of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Based on the stories I’ve seen since I’ve been writing about Christian persecution, I would guess that the most consistently persecuted group in these countries is Christians.

From CNA:

Washington D.C., May 4, 2013 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- A recent report on international religious liberty cautioned that severe threats to freedom of religion exist in diverse communities through the world and should be discouraged through actions by the U.S. government.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the commission that released the report.

“Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos,” she explained.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom gathers information throughout the year by meeting with government officials, citizens, analysts and non-governmental organizations across the globe in order to assess the state of international religious liberty. The independent, bipartisan group then advises the president, U.S. Congress and State Department on recommended actions to be taken.

Issued each year, the commission’s report marks “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), which are defined as “countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.” The State Department has the opportunity to officially label CPCs and decide whether to impose sanctions or other penalties on each country.

The 2013 document recommended 15 countries to be designated as CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. (Read the rest here.)


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