Posted on 11th March 2013

 

 

Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace.

 

On 22nd February we requested prayer following the arrest on 10th February of Sherif, an Egyptian Christian businessman, in Benghazi. Sherif remains detained. A number of other Christians were arrested in the following days, including four Egyptians and three non-Arab expatriates who were working as language teachers or businessmen, each of whom knew Sherif in business or social contexts.

 

We regret to report that one of the Egyptians, Ezzat Hakim Atalla Abdel-Malak, died in detention yesterday (10th March). A few days ago he reported having severe chest pains. He was taken to a hospital and received some treatment before being returned to the detention facility. However, this treatment proved insufficient. His body is understood to show extensive bruising caused by physical abuse whilst detained.

 

Recall that Sherif runs a bookshop in Benghazi. The stock includes Christian books, intended for sale to the many expatriate Arabic-speaking Christians living and working in Benghazi and the surrounding areas. He, and the others detained, have been accused of proselytising, although no formal charges have yet been made against any of them.

 

Christians supporting those detained and their families request our prayers that:

a.      Ezzet’s widow and two teenage children will know the peace and comfort of Jesus

b.      Sherif and the others detained will know the presence and peace of Jesus each day, and be released soon

c.       Members of their families will know the close presence of Jesus

d.      All involved will know the healing touch of Jesus, both physically and psychologically

e.      Those supporting these Christians will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom

f.        All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

 

 

May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organizations, as well as to the press for publication citing “Middle East Concern” as the source of the information.

Latest Requests

  • Iran: three Christians detained in Rasht

    Posted on 17th May

    Iranian Christians request prayer for three Christians belonging to the self-styled “Church of Iran” network who were arrested on 13th May and remain in detention in Rasht.

    On 13th May security agents raided the home of Yousef Nadarkhani, a church leader who attracted international attention after he was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in 2010. He was finally acquitted of apostasy charges, but sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for evangelising. He was eventually released on 7th December 2013.
     
    Yousef and his wife Tina were arrested along with Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Yousef and Tina were released later that day, but Yasser remains in detention.
     
    Related to these arrests, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammedreza Omidi were summoned to report to the security offices. Their homes were then raided and phones, computers and Christian literature were confiscated. Saheb and Mohammedreza were then detained and are thought to be held in Lakan prison near Rasht.
     
    Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza were all previously arrested in similar raids in February 2015. Mohammedreza was also one of four Christian converts sentenced in 2013 to receive 80 lashes for drinking communion wine and possessing a satellite receiver and dish.
     
    It is reported that the three detained men have been offered bail equivalent to US$3,000 each.
     
    These arrests are part of a larger systematic action on the part of Iranian authorities to harass Christian communities and put pressure on active Christians to leave Iran.

    Those close to Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza request prayer that:
    a. they will be released soon, and God will bring peace and comfort to them and their families
    b. no charges will be brought against the three men, and there will be no further action against Yousef and Tina
    c. God will strengthen and encourage faithful Christians in Iran to withstand the pressure to leave
    d. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

    Open sources used: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    May be circulated to general mailing lists and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Algeria: church ordered to close

    Posted on 4th May

    Algerian Christians request prayer for a church in the south of Tizi Ouzou province which has been ordered to close.

    On 24th April the church leaders received a letter from the district authorities requiring the church to cease all religious activities on the grounds that they are in breach of a 2006 decree which regulates non-Muslim worship. This is the second time a church in this province has been ordered to close in the last two months.

    The letter cited a breach of section 5 of the decree, which states that use of a non-Muslim place of worship is subject to prior authorisation by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups (overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs). The letter also claimed that the lease for the church building, rented on behalf of the Protestant Church of Algeria (L'Église Protestante d'Algérie / EPA), is not valid because the building is registered as residential premises. The letter ordered the church leaders to ensure that the building is used for residential purposes only.

    Because the National Commission does not actually meet and so never gives permission for buildings to be used as churches, most churches affiliated to the EPA rent buildings and inform local authorities that the buildings will be used as places of worship. One month before they received this closure order, the leaders of this particular church had informed local authorities that they intended to use the building they had rented as a place of worship. EPA leaders say that the closure order limits freedom of worship which is guaranteed in the Algerian constitution. The issue of permission for places of worship is one of several points in the 2006 decree which clearly restrict the religious freedom of non-Muslims and contradict not only the provisions of the country's new constitution but also Algeria's commitments to religious freedom under international law.

    Christians in Algeria ask for prayer:
    a. that the church's leaders will know the peace of Jesus, the wisdom of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they try to deal with this difficult situation
    b. that the closure order will be withdrawn, and that the church will be able to worship in the building without further hindrance
    c. that the law will be changed so that it ensures religious freedoms such as freedom to worship and freedom to evangelise
    d. that those responsible for the closure order will know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Syria: third anniversary of abduction of Bishops

    Posted on 22nd April
     
    Syrian Christians request prayer for their country on the third anniversary of the abduction of two Bishops of Aleppo.
     
    On 22nd April 2013 Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yaziji of the Greek Orthodox Church were stopped by armed militants while travelling north of Aleppo. The militants abducted the bishops and murdered their driver. A fourth Christian travelling with them escaped. They had been travelling to an area near the border with Turkey as part of negotiations for the release of two priests abducted on 9th February 2013. The fate and whereabouts of the bishops and priests remain unknown.
     
    Marking the anniversary, the Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch issued a joint statement [1] in which they appealed for the release of the bishops and called on the international community to take substantive action on their behalf.
     
    The Patriarchs describe the plight of the bishops as “a miniature of the great human suffering” inflicted on Syria. They categorically reject the notions that Christians should be considered as a “minority” and that Christians can be protected by facilitating emigration. They emphasise that Syrian Christians share the pain and uncertainty of their compatriots and, together with all Syrians of good will, are committed to working towards peace “based on co-existence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse”.
     
    The Patriarchs’ appeal comes as the latest round of peace talks in Geneva is faltering amid seemingly intractable political disagreement and escalating levels of violence in Syria. With Orthodox churches preparing to celebrate Easter (1st May), the Patriarchs note that Christians are “children of the Resurrection, and of Light”, and that their hope is ultimately in their risen Lord.
     
    Syrian Christians request prayer that:
    a. violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in every part of Syria
    b. all who remain abducted will know the Lord's strength and sustaining, and that they will be released soon
    c. those who are bereaved will know the comfort of Jesus, and the wounded and traumatised will know His healing and presence
    d. the needs of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced, either internally or abroad, will be adequately met
    e. those engaged in peace talks will prioritise the needs of the Syrian people and not their own agendas
    f.  all who are intent on violent means would know the Spirit's conviction of sin and respond to the Father's offer of new life through the work of the Son

    [1] the full statement is available at: www.antiochian.org/joint-statement-three-years-abduction-metropolitans-paul-and-youhanna
     
    May be circulated to general mailing lists and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Turkey: US Christian released from detention

    Posted on 19th April 2016

    Christians in Turkey are very happy and thankful to God that evangelist David Byle has been released from an immigration facility in Istanbul after receiving a deportation order.

    As mentioned in a Middle East Concern prayer request on 11th April, David was arrested and taken to a police station after being summoned to the immigration centre regarding an extension to his residency in Istanbul. The Governor’s office then issued three orders against David: a 30-day observation order keeping him detained at the immigration centre, a deportation order and a re-entry ban.

    When the order to detain David at the immigration centre was examined by a judge on Thursday 14th April, the judge overturned it due to a lack of evidence and David was freed later that night. David’s lawyer is hopeful that the deportation order and re-entry ban will also be overturned through lack of evidence.

    At the immigration centre David had the opportunity to meet many refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan and a new door of ministry has apparently opened up. David asks us to pray that the director of the immigration centre, a committed Muslim, will be willing to allow David and others to provide the refugees with clothes to replace the ragged items they have worn since fleeing to Turkey.

    Please join Middle East Concern in thanking the Lord for David’s release from the immigration centre and pray:
    a. that the deportation order and entry ban will also be overturned
    b. that the director of the immigration centre will allow David and others to bring help to the detainees
    c. that David's lawyer will continue to have wisdom to know how to contest the Governor's orders
    d. that God will overrule the injustice against David and make blessing come out of it

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Turkey: US Christian arrested and facing deportation

    Posted on 11th April 2016

    The US Christian David Byle has requested that we pray for his present situation as he is detained in a government facility in Istanbul pending deportation.

    On 6th April David was asked to go to the police immigration centre regarding an application for an extension to his residence permit. He was promptly arrested and taken to a police station in Fatih in Istanbul.

    After two days the Governor's office gave a deportation order on the grounds that David is a threat to public order. David was then taken to a hospital for a health check and detained in the Kumkapi immigration centre. He has also been given a ban forbidding him from entering Turkey and has a month-long observation order, effectively keeping him detained at the immigration centre. David's lawyer today submitted papers challenging these orders.

    Since 2010 David has consistently had problems obtaining residency in Turkey and at one stage in 2014 he was separated from his family for a period of several months after being banned from entering the country, while his wife and children remained in Istanbul.

    Some people surmise that David's arrest and pending deportation could be in response to developing security issues in Turkey. The Ministry of the Interior has recently issued security warnings to congregations and church leaders and it has been noted that terrorists have scouted some churches as potential targets.

    Please pray:
    a. that David will know God's peace at this difficult time and that the deportation order and entry ban will be overturned
    b. that God will help and strengthen David's wife Ulrike and their five children
    c. that David's lawyer will have wisdom to know how to contest the Governor's orders
    d. that embassies in Turkey will also address this treatment of a foreign Christian who has committed no crime, but is being treated as a criminal on account of evangelistic activities
    e. that the present situation in Turkey will become more secure and that terror attacks against churches and Christians will be discovered and prevented

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.