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Eritrea

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These Eritrean Christian refugees are cared for at a sanctuary in Israel supported by Barnabas

Incarcerated in metal shipping containers with extreme temperature changes; forbidden to pray aloud, sing, preach or have a Bible; tortured to make them recant their faith. These are some of the extremely harsh conditions that thousands of Christians in Eritrea are experiencing in prison. Some have died under torture or because they were denied medical care. The country is ranked among the world’s worst persecutors of Christians.

The repressive Marxist government of Eritrea appears to have intensified its campaign against Christians in unregistered churches. At least 150 were seized in October 2013 at a single prayer meeting in Maitemenai near the capital, Asmara.

Most denominations are illegal in Eritrea. The government regards Christians as a threat to national unity because they give their ultimate allegiance to God. The state-controlled media characterises evangelicals as imperialistic groups that promote religious intolerance amongst the people.

In 2002 the authorities required all non-registered religious groups to register or cease their activities, but since then it has refused to grant any new registrations. The buildings of unregistered groups have been closed down, and their members are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without due process of law. Christians conscripted to serve as soldiers in the army can be imprisoned for attending prayer meetings and receive severe punishments even for possessing a Bible.

Only three Christian denominations are officially recognised, and they have to submit reports of their activities to the authorities every three months. The national leader of the largest group was appointed by the government, and his predecessor has been under house arrest since 2006.

Many Christians have fled to nearby countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt to escape persecution. Every month hundreds make the arduous journey across the Sinai desert to seek safety and freedom in Israel. Some die along the way; others are shot dead at the border; still others are taken hostage for ransom by nomads; and those who are caught may be sent back to Eritrea. Those who claim asylum in Egypt may be thrown into prison, while others end up in the hands of traffickers. They can suffer rape, harassment, torture, beatings or even slavery.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 4 hours ago

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • “Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 23 June, Vahid Hakkani, a Christian convert in prison in Iran, resumed a hunger strike in protest against the refusal of a court to grant him and two other Christians conditional release. Vahid had broken his previous strike in May after another of his fellow-detainees was set free. The prison authorities have reportedly confiscated his personal belongings from his cell and are denying him the right to make phone calls; they have also separated the Christian prisoners from one another. Even before his first hunger strike, Vahid had been suffering from a digestive problem and internal bleeding. Pray that his health may not fail altogether and that his action will secure justice and freedom for him and his friends (Psalm 69:33). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

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