The link below is to an article reporting on the conversion of a CIA spy operating within Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who later escaped to the West.
Plain-clothes police in Laos arrested 13 Christians on June 12, Voice of the Martyrs-Canada reports.
The Christians were working in a Christian village, as they did on a daily basis, when the police questioned them. Officials have not yet offered any explanation for the arrest, or for the continued detention of the believers at a provincial police station.
The Laotian government places heavy restrictions on most religious groups, while openly promoting Buddhism and Buddhist organizations. Open Doors Ministries recently named Laos number 8 on its list of the worst places in the world to be a Christian. Authorities have arrested, murdered, and starved Christians and their families in order to pressure them to renounce their faith.
According to the CIA, 67 percent of the country’s approximately 6,800,000 people are Buddhist. Only 1.5 percent are Christian.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
Second attack within one week follows threats from Muslim nationalists.
ISTANBUL, February 17 (Compass Direct News) – Following threats from Muslim nationalists, a Turkish Bible Society bookshop in the southern city of Adana was vandalized for the second time in a week on Thursday (Feb. 12).
Security camera footage shows two youths attacking the storefront of the Soz Kitapevi bookshop, kicking and smashing glass in both the window and the door. The door frame was also damaged.
Bookshop employee Dogan Simsek discovered the damage when he arrived to open the shop. He described security footage of the attack, which took place at 8:19 a.m., to Compass.
“They came at it like a target,” he said. “They attacked in a very cold-blooded manner, and then they walked away as if nothing had happened.”
The security camera did not clearly capture the faces of either youth, and police are still attempting to identify the perpetrators.
During the first attack on Feb. 7, the glass of the front door was smashed and the security camera mangled. Both have since been repaired.
Simsek told the Turkish national daily Milliyet that these are the first such incidents he has witnessed in the 10 years he has worked there.
“We sit and drink tea with our neighbors and those around us; there are no problems in that regard,” said Simsek, though he did acknowledge that local opinion is not all favorable. “This is a Muslim neighborhood, and many have told us not to sell these books.”
The bookshop has received threats from both Muslim hardliners and nationalists. Last November, a man entered the shop and began making accusations that the Soz Kitapevi bookshop was in league with the CIA, saying, “You work with them killing people in Muslim countries, harming Muslim countries.”
The attacks are another example of the animosity that Turkish Christians have faced recently, especially the small Protestant community. The Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey released its annual Rights Violations Summary last month, detailing some of the abuses faced by Protestant congregations in 2008.
The report makes it clear that violent attacks, threats and accusations are symptoms arising from an anti-Christian milieu of distrust and misinformation that the Turkish state allows to exist.
The report cites both negative portrayal in the media and state bodies or officials that “have created a ‘crime’ entitled ‘missionary activities,’ identifying it with a certain faith community” as being primarily responsible for the enmity felt towards Christians.
It urges the government to develop effective media watchdog mechanisms to ensure the absence of intolerant or inflammatory programs, and that the state help make the public aware of the rights of Turkish citizens of all faiths.
Report from Compass Direct News
Young parishioner illegally detained, beaten with wooden rods.
ISTANBUL, October 17 (Compass Direct News) – In ongoing intimidation of a Pakistani pastor working in the outskirts of Lahore, police last week arrested and beat a young parishioner who was visiting his home to receive prayer.
Police on Oct. 9 arrested Javed Masih, a 22-year-old delivery driver and prominent member of pastor Christopher Manzer’s congregation, as he was leaving Manzer’s house. The pastor had already fled after receiving a telephone call warning him of imminent police arrival.
Police attacked Manzer five times between April and July, and the pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Jesus Disciples has recently received death threats.
As Masih was leaving Manzer’s home, police approached him, asked if he was Pastor Christopher and arrested him. Manzer searched for Masih in local police stations without success.
On Sunday (Oct. 12) Masih’s family learned that he had been taken to the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) police station in Ichhra, central Lahore. Authorities held Masih there for three days, kept in a small room with 32 other men and beaten, before allowing him to make a phone call.
“They beat me with wooden rods,” Masih told Compass through a translator.
Police held Masih until 11 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 14). According to human rights group Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) staff, Masih was held illegally and without any official record. He was released after his family and Manzer paid a bribe of 15,000 rupees (US$185). Masih plans to post pre-arrest bail, in the hopes that this will avert future arrests.
The pastor and staff at SLMP believe the man instigating the attacks is Mohammad Nawaz, who opened a court case against Manzer, Masih and seven others, accusing them of kidnapping his wife, Sana Bibi.
Bibi and Nawaz converted to Islam and eloped last year believing Islam could shield and support their union, as their families did not approve of their marriage. Sources said, however, that Bibi filed for divorce and returned to her family, after Nawaz’s ties with devout Muslims led to disagreements.
Manzer counseled Bibi after she decided to return to her family and Christianity, and according to sources Nawaz blames him for the divorce in March and a botched abortion that led to her death in May. Manzer has denied all of the accusations.
There are numerous charges pending against Manzer and members of his congregation based on accusations allegedly fabricated and filed by Nawaz’s friends.
Should these “applications” become official First Information Reports, they would each require pre-arrest bail payments from those indicted.
Both Manzer and Shahzad Kamran of the SLMP have expressed concerns of police corruption, maintaining police make arrests in order to collect release bribes. According to Peter Jacob, a lawyer with the National Commission for Justice and Peace, these issues are surmountable.
“There is a problem of corruption and influence on police, a degree of malpractice,” said Jacob. “On the whole if the allegations are false… there is the possibility of redress if corruption has taken place.”
Kamran told Compass he believes Manzer would benefit from appearing before the Deputy Inspector General (DIG), who has authority over all local police stations, to explain to him the entire episode.
“He could then take action and issue a summary report to all the police stations informing them the pastor is innocent, so all the applications could be cancelled,” said Kamran.
Kamran and Manzer said they plan to bring their case to the DIG within the next week.
Despite these difficulties, Manzer remains hopeful, believing that the case will be settled in his favor. The court has now authenticated the Bibi-Nawaz divorce documents to be used as evidence that Bibi was not kidnapped, according to the SLMP. This is a crucial step in the defense of Manzer, Masih and the seven others.
Report from Compass Direct News