Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Istanbul gives Syriac Christians Cemetery

Syriacs call it a ploy to pit Christian communities against each other.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, once a Catholic Cathedral (Wikimedia.org)


By Barbara G. Baker
ISTANBUL, Dec. 17 (World Watch Monitor) —Three years after a Syrian Orthodox foundation applied to build a church in Istanbul, the Greater Istanbul Municipality has granted them a large plot of land and a building permit.

Banner headlines in the Turkish media praised the early-December decision as “a first in the history of the Republic,” declaring that never before had Turkey allowed a non-Muslim minority to build an official new house of worship.

Still, Syriac Christians were far from pleased. For one thing, the land they were “granted” by the municipality is, in fact, a Latin Catholic cemetery.

We don’t want a Syriac church on top of a cemetery!” the website suryaniler.com stated. “This is a big scandal.”

In fact, the graveyard had been donated back in 1868 to the Italian Catholic Church in what is now Istanbul’s Yesilkoy district. It was then officially registered as Catholic property in 1936, although later confiscated in 1951 by the city.

The Council of Europe’s 2011 progress report noted that Turkey was not fully implementing Law No. 3998, which states that cemeteries belonging to minority communities can no longer be taken over by local municipalities.

According to lawyer Nail Karakas, the Latin Catholic foundation had applied to the city last summer, in accordance with the government’s August 2011 pledge to restore expropriated minority properties, to regain possession of their property and resume Christian burials in the graveyard.

So Syriac leaders are insisting that the cemetery land newly designated for their church be returned instead to its rightful owners.

It is clear that (the authorities) want to cause conflict between the minority communities,” commented Syriac layman Sabo Boyaci. Boyaci also faulted the government for trying to exploit the Syriac community politically.

I don’t believe the government’s sincerity. They delivered this land to us in order to silence us on the matter of Mor Gabriel Monastery. The government simply aims to make a good impression on the European and Turkish public,” he told Hurriyet Daily News.

Copyright 2012 World Watch Monitor
World Watch Monitor is distributed to raise awareness of Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Articles may be reprinted, with attribution, by active subscribers only.
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Have a BLESSED CHRISTMAS! And remember you can affect the Wide World by your Prayer, for Nothing is impossible to God. Nothing, if only you'll pray....
Bill Hunt     


Thursday, December 6, 2012

NIGERIA: Nine Christians killed, Four Churches burned

Christmas Love? Pray for the 100 Million's Persecuted and Abused around the World. What if it were you? 

Messiah Came! the Reason for the Season (by Bill Hunt)

Lagos, Nigeria, Dec. 4 (Open Doors News) — Nine Christians were killed and four Churches burned in two separate Dec. 1 attacks in northeast Nigeria by gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram Islamist group.

The Christians and a Muslim were killed in Kwaple village, Chibok Local Government Area of Borno state when the Islamic group members went on rampage and burned 20 houses and a Church in the area, while three Churches were burned in Gamboru Ngala.

“I have just received a message from my people at Chibok and Gamboru Ngala that four of our Churches were attacked by the militants this morning and 10 people killed at Kwaple in Chibok LGA,” 

--the Borno State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Titus Pona, said in a text message to the association’s president on Dec. 2.

Nuhu Clark, a former Chibok local government area council chairman, said the attackers entered the village at about 9 p.m. Saturday, then torched houses before using guns and machetes to kill their victims.

“Most of the victims were buried today,” Clark said on Sunday. “It is unfortunate that such could happen in such a peaceful village.”

According to Pona, the attackers burned The Church of the Brethren, Church of Christ in Nigeria, and Deeper Life Church Gamboru Ngala, and another Church of the Brethren in Chibok.

“It is clearly an attack on Christians by the Boko Haram members in a local government that that is predominantly Christian,” said a Christian leader in the region, who requested anonymity because churches had agreed that only the Christian Association of Nigeria chairman would speak to the press.

“The government is worried about the implication of this attack and is offering to support the rebuilding of the affected Churches.”

The State governor met Monday with state and local officials of the Christian association, the local government area council, and community leaders. They determined how to support the affected families.

“The affected families will be compensated, though life cannot be paid for,” said the anonymous Christian leader.

“The attack by members of the Islamic group, who are apparently not from the community, was unjustified and we have the assurance of the government that necessary measures will be taken to prevent a reoccurrence.”

Sunday Oibe, spokesman for the northern group of the Christian Association of Nigeria, decried the continued attacks on Christians, which he said were not getting enough attention from the government.

 “What people get to hear is just a fraction of the attacks Christians are subjected to,” Oibe said. “It is unfortunate that when the (Christian Association of Nigeria) president comments on the issue, they accuse him of not being sensitive or raising false alarm. We cannot continue to keep quiet in the face of provocative attacks like last Saturday’s attack in Borno.”

Borno State is the headquarters of the Boko Haram group that has launched various terrorist attacks in the country, killing hundreds.

Read the Persecution News at

Copyright 2012 Open Doors News
Open Doors News is distributed to raise awareness of Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Articles may be reprinted by active subscribers only.
For subscription information, contact: jeffth@opendoorsnews.org

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Pray for the World this Christmas.... 
Bill Hunt


Saturday, December 1, 2012

SYRIA, Orthodox Priest Brutally Murdered

Urgently pray for the People and Peace to the War in Syria. So many have suffered so dearly.

Past Pro-Hamas Rally in Damascus (www.wikimedia.org)

DAMASCUS, Syria, 29 Nov, 2012 (Open Doors News) — Syria appears to be heading towards deepening breakdown, with sectarian fragmentation likened to its neighbor, Lebanon’s civil war. Inevitably, Christians have been caught up in the chaos over the past months, as we report here - starting with a Syrian Orthodox priest who was deliberately killed. 

In an act of courage 43 year old Father Fadi Haddad set off by car to negotiate the release of one of his parishioners, who had been kidnapped. A week later, it became clear that the parish priest from Qatana, some 20 kilometers south-west of Damascus, had paid the highest price. On Oct. 25th, his lifeless and mutilated body was found on the side of a road. Qatana had been terrorized by radical fighters.

Locals told Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “‘Extremists went through the streets shouting ‘Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut’. They want to kick us out”.

A pastor who often provided Haddad with Bibles and who met him a few days before he was kidnapped told us, "Father Fadi’s superiors had asked him why he kept traveling back and forth between Qatana and Damascus.

"‘I cannot not serve Jesus; I need to help people, that is why I have to move around,’ he responded." 

Christians in Syria say the particularly gruesome death of Father Fadi - his eyes had been gouged out - marks a turning point for them. Before, Christians were caught up in the war in the same way as Kurds, Druze, and all other ethnic groups. Also, a part of the Christian community in Syria has been actively supporting President Assad, thus being an actor in the civil war. 

But some Syrian Christians say a series of incidents recently points to a trend of violence against Christian civilians, including priests. Particularly worrying, they say, is the growing presence of foreign radical Islamic fighters in the country, and the many Islamist brigades within the opposition Free Syrian Army. Yet there is fear of government forces as well. On Nov. 14, four missiles struck the Christian village of Tel Nasri in northeast Syria. St. Mary’s Church was severely damaged, as were many houses. As the Assyrian International News Agency reports, a 14-year old boy was killed and many were wounded, apparently by Assad’s fighter planes, though that is not confirmed. 

Before that, on Oct. 21st, a car bomb exploded near the gate of Bab Touma, the historical Christian neighborhood in Damascus. The car was parked next to two churches, a Maronite and a Latin church in Bab Touma street, which emerges into ‘the straight street’ mentioned in the Bible. The explosive detonated at a time when local Christians were heading to church for Sunday Mass. At least 10 people were killed and more than 16 injured. While the nearby police station may have been the target, the timing of the explosion meant that churchgoers would be hurt. 

Read the Persecution News at
Copyright 2012 Open Doors News
Open Doors News is distributed to raise awareness of Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Articles may be reprinted by active subscribers only. For subscription information, contact: jeffth@opendoorsnews.org

The violence of man's inhumanity to man is horrific. “The wicked are brought down by their own wickedness,” says Proverbs (NKJV Prov 11:5 ). “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18 NKJV) commands God.

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Please Pray for the people of Syria....
Bill Hunt