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Iraqi Churches bombed: link with Danish cartoons?

Country/Region: IRAQ

A spate of car bombs exploded outside churches in Iraq last Sunday 29th January in what appears to have been a coordinated attack. The explosions occurred within a half hour period, apparently chosen to coincide with the time at which Christians would be going to church.

Two churches in the northern city of Kirkuk and at least two others in the capital Baghdad were targeted. At least three people, including a 13-year-old boy, were killed and an estimated 16-20 people injured. According to some reports as many as seven churches were bombed.

The bombings were condemned by some Muslim political leaders including Ali al-Adeeb (Shi'a) and Naweer al-Ani (Sunni).

A similar incident of near-simultaneous explosions at Iraqi churches happened on Sunday 1st August 2004 during the time of the evening service. Four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were bombed on that occasion, with some 15 fatalities.

LINKS WITH DANISH CARTOONS?

Many Christians in Iraq are connecting this week's church bombings with the growing furore across the Muslim world caused by the publication of some cartoons caricaturing Muhammad in a Danish newspaper on 30th September 2005.

These cartoons have been republished this week by newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

IRAQI CHRISTIAN STUDENTS BEATEN UP FOR DANISH CARTOONS

On the same day, 29th January, Christian students at Mosul University were beaten up by Muslim students. Some days earlier a number of fatwas had been issued by sheikhs in Mosul, acting in reponse to pressure from Islamic militias in the city. The fatwas called for their followers to "expel the crusaders and infidels from the streets, schools and institutions because they insulted the person of the prophet in Denmark".

FATWA FOR KILLING OF THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR CARTOONS

Yesterday, 1st February, a Kuwaiti newspaper reporting on the Danish cartoons stated that Islamic cleric Sheikh Nazem Mesbah had issued a fatwa calling for the killing of people who insulted Muhammad in this way. Other Islamic clerics rejected this fatwa citing the need to comply with the realities of the modern era.

Please Pray:

1. Pray for the protection of Christians in Iraq from those Muslims who want to punish them for the actions of other people in "Christian countries" like the US, UK and Denmark. Pray that Christians will be recognised as loyal citizens instead of constantly mistrusted. Pray that Christians will not give way to fear, despite the efforts of those who want to intimidate them into fleeing from their homeland.

2. Pray that the Muslim political leaders who condemned the bombings will have greater influence in society at large than the radical leaders who encourage such anti-Christian violence. Pray for courageous Muslim clerics to issue fatwas calling for justice and security for Iraqi Christians.

3. Pray for stability and peace in Iraq, remembering all who mourn those of every nationality who have died in the violence there.

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 18 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Aid partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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