Sudan: Update on believer sentenced to death

Posted on 15th May 2014


Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

 

On Monday we requested prayer for Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a believer from a Muslim background, who was arrested on 17th February and charged on 4th March with adultery and apostasy. Recall that she is married to a Christian of South Sudanese origin. The couple have a young son (who is with Meriam in prison) and are expecting their second child later this month. The government does not recognise the couple's marriage, hence the adultery charge.

 

A further court hearing was held today (15th May). Meriam had been given three days to recant. However, at today's hearing she calmly confirmed to the judge that she remains a Christian. The judge accordingly confirmed the sentence for apostasy of death by hanging. He also sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery. The death sentence is to be imposed two years after she gives birth to their second child.

 

The lawyer acting for Meriam is preparing an appeal which must be submitted within 15 days. Meriam's husband was not permitted to attend the court hearing today, and has been denied access to Meriam and their son in the prison.

 

Christians supporting this family give thanks for Meriam's faith and courage. They request our continued prayers that:
a.  Meriam, her husband, their son and their unborn child will know the peace, presence and protection of Jesus
b.  The appeal against the convictions and sentences will be successful
c.  Christians across Sudan will know the peace and presence of Jesus, the Spirit's daily guidance and be equipped to live without fear
d.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

 

 

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.

Latest Requests

  • Iran: Continuing Arrests and Harsh Sentences for Christians

    Posted on 16th September 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

     

    Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following the recent arrests of house church members and further extraordinary charges filed against church leaders.

     

    On 1st and 2nd September five Christians were arrested in Esfahan. Bibles, computers and mobile phones were confiscated and Mohammad Taslimi, Hamidreza Borhani and his wife Zainab Akbari, Moluk Ruhani and her sister, Sepideh Morshedi, were arrested and taken to Dastgerd prison, Esfahan. They have yet to be charged.

     

    Prior to this on August 12th Iranian security authorities arrested two Christian men at a house church in Tehran. They are being held in Ghezal Hesar prison, Karaj. The owner of the house was unable to return for several weeks as his house was being watched.

     

    A worrying development is the serious charges being levelled against church leaders. Recall that on 3rd August a leader within the "Church of Iran" denomination, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad, was charged with "Moharebeh"- enmity against God - a crime that can carry the death sentence. He has since been charged with "Mofsed-e-filarz" - generally translated as "spreading corruption on Earth". This charge also carries the death sentence.

     

    Two other members of the "Church of Iran" movement are reported to have recently been charged with "Mofsed -e-filarz" as well: Behnam Irani, serving a six year sentence for "action against the state and against order", has received an additional 18 other charges including "mofsed -e-filarz" and Reza (Silas) Rabbani, who was arrested on 5th May 2014 and has suffered much physical abuse at the hands of security agents has also recently been charged with "mofsed -e-filarz".

     

    The charge of "Mosfed-e-filarz" has been applied to a wide range of expressions of political or religious dissent and carries the death sentence. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, possibly more than 8,000 people have been executed under this charge ranging from former members of the Shah's government, leaders of opposition or terrorist groups, to opponents of the regime and some Baha'i leaders.

     

    The 26th September, 2014, will mark the second anniversary of Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini's imprisonment in Iran. Saeed was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for "anti-state activities" due to his work with house fellowships. Saeed's wife, Nagmeh, has organised a prayer vigil for 26th September to pray for Saeed and the persecuted church. A current list of vigil locations can be found at this web site http://beheardproject.com/prayer-vigil/saeed.

     

    Iranian Christians request our prayers that:
    a)  The charges of  "Mosfed-e-filarz"- spreading corruption in the Earth - against Abdolreza, Behnam and Reza would be overturned
    b)  All those recently arrested on account of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will know the Lord's presence and support
    c)  Families of prisoners will know God's grace, strengthening and support
    d)   All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God and that those in prison on account of their faith in Jesus will be released.
    e)  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

     

    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.

     
  • Iran: Update on Christians detained in prison

    Posted on 19th August 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd,

     

    Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following several significant changes in the situation of those detained in Iranian prisons for their faith in Jesus.

     

    Typically, those arrested for their faith in Jesus are charged with crimes against national security. However, on 3rd August a leader within the "Church of Iran" denomination, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad, was charged with "Moharebeh"- enmity against God - a crime that can carry the death sentence.

     

    Recall that Abdolreza was arrested on 5th July in conjunction with a number of other leaders from the same denomination. Security officials raided his home in Rasht and confiscated Christian materials, including Bibles.

     

    On 23rd July Mehdi Ameruni, another member of the "Church of Iran" denomination, was called to serve his three year prison sentence in Adel-Abad prison, Shiraz.

     

    Recall that on 12th October 2012 seven believers were arrested in a raid on a prayer meeting in Shiraz. Mehdi Ameruni was among them. Although they were released from detention on 19th March 2013, they were then tried on 16th July 2013. Mehdi was sentenced to three years in prison. He remained at liberty pending an appeal which was later rejected.

     

    Fatemeh Torkkajouri, wife of Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, a "Church of Iran" leader, has been summoned to appear before a court in Iran. They are resident abroad, but security officials are putting pressure on her family still in the country to see that she attends a court hearing in Iran.

     

    Prisoners not only face hardships from guards and other state officials, but are also exposed to threats from fellow prisoners. Saeed Abedini in Rajai Shahr Prison, serving an eight year sentence for Christian activities has said that other prisoners have told him that radical islamists in the same prison plan to kill him. During exercise times, when there would be opportunity for them to harm him, Saeed has decided to stay in his cell.

     

    Recently a number of prisoners have been relocated to different prisons or different wards within the same prison. Farshid Fathi, for example, has been moved from the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. Farshid is serving a six year sentence for offences against national security. Saeed and Farshid are now being held in the same facility. However, Christian prisoners in Rajai Shahr and other prisons complain that they are being kept apart from one another.

     

    There is concern about the recent emigration of Christians from Iran, some in leadership positions. In recent weeks MEC has been notified of several families who have left the country because of the dangers they face inside Iran.

     

    Iranian Christians request our prayers that:
    a)  The charge of  "Moharebeh"- enmity against God - against Abdolreza would be overturned
    b)  Abdolreza, Mehdi, Saeed and Fathi (and all other Christian detainees in Iran) will know the Lord's presence and support
    c)  Saeed will know special protection against the threats of extremists in the same prison
    d)  Prisoners will have opportunities for fellowship and to encourage one another
    e)  Families of prisoners will know God's grace, strengthening and support
    f)  Iranian Christian families will have clarity when faced with the dilemma of whether to emigrate
    g)   All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God
    h)  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

     

    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.

     
  • Iraq: Update on deepening crisis facing Christians

    Posted on 13th August 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the eternal Rock,

     

    Christians in Iraq request our renewed prayer as the crisis in their country continues to deepen.

     

    During the night of 6th-7th August, Islamic State (IS) militants attacked towns and villages to the east and north of Mosul with mortars and heavy weapons. The protecting Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew, leaving the area to be seized by the IS. This area, including the towns of Qaraqosh, Karamlis, Bartella and Tel Kayf, is the ancestral home of Iraq's Christian communities and had the largest concentration of Christians in Iraq, including many who fled from Baghdad due to violence over the last few years. This area is now virtually emptied of Christians.

     

    The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch has estimated that one hundred thousand Christians fled overnight, mostly on foot and with little or nothing in their possession. Many of these had already been displaced, having taken refuge in these towns in recent weeks after fleeing from Mosul. Most have now fled to cities in the Kurdish controlled areas nearby.

     

    Earlier last week, the IS seized the city of Sinjar, a traditional home of the Yazidi minority, forcing two hundred thousand to flee to the surrounding mountain areas. There are many reports of atrocities, including summary executions of men and treatment of women as "spoils of war" (including abduction, forced marriage and rape).

     

    The humanitarian needs of these displaced communities are overwhelming. Trapped Yazidi communities have suffered dehydration and starvation, and are grateful that air-drop operations have now started. Among Christians who have fled to Kurdish areas, many have taken refuge in Church halls and corridors, or in public schools, gardens and in the streets. There is an urgent need for water, food and shelter.

     

    Church leaders have expressed deep concern for the future of the Christian presence in this area as many seek to emigrate. Asia News quotes Msgr Rabban Al-Qas, Chaldean Bishop of Amadiyah in the Kurdish controlled area, who says: "The majority of Christians want to get their documents and leave, go away, because they are afraid. Thousand of Christians want to escape." He notes that the lack of effective government in Baghdad is a key part of the problem.

     

    In the midst of this existential threat to the church in Iraq the church continues to be involved in the distribution of aid without distinction as to religion. Msgr. Al-Qas asserts that the Chaldean Church "is active, and we witness our presence with love."

     

    Iraqi Christians urge us to pray, asking that:
    a. A permanent political solution would soon be found in Iraq, leading to the effective challenge of all who pursue violence and to the establishment of justice and a lasting peace
    b. All those who have been displaced will find sanctuary, receive the humanitarian assistance they need, and in time be able to return to their homes
    c. Christians in Iraq, and especially those who have been forced to flee their homes, will know the peace of Jesus, the protection of the Father and the comfort of the Spirit

     

    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.

     
  • Sudan: Update on Meriam and family, now in Italy

    Posted on 24th July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

     

    In recent months we have requested prayer for Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Sudanese believer from a Muslim background, who was sentenced to death on 15th May for apostasy but then released on 23rd June following a successful appeal. Recall that she was then re-arrested at the airport as she and her family were attempting to leave the country, and then released again on bail on 26th June.

     

    We are pleased to report that Meriam and her family have now left Sudan. They arrived in Rome at about 9.30am today (24th July) after the Italian government had negotiated her release with the Sudanese authorities. The family is expected to stay in Italy for a few days before continuing their journey to the US.

     

    Meriam's lawyers were not given prior notification of her departure. There remains a lack of clarity about the status of legal proceedings against Meriam in Sudan. It is not yet known whether the Attorney General has decided against filing charges for travelling on allegedly false documents. Nor is it yet known whether a court case brought by those claiming to be Meriam's relatives, to have her marriage cancelled, has been dropped.

     

    Sudanese Christians thank us for our prayers  and rejoice that Meriam, together with her husband Daniel and their young children Martin and Maya, are now in a place of safety. However, they are concerned about the possible repercussions for other Christians in Sudan.

     

    They request our continuing prayer that:
    a. Meriam, Daniel, Martin and Maya will know the comfort, healing and restoration of Jesus
    b. They will know the Father's provision and the Spirit's guidance at each stage of their journey
    c. Any outstanding court cases against Meriam will be dropped
    d. Christians across Sudan, and especially those from Muslim backgrounds, will know the Father's protection, the Son's peace and the Spirit's wisdom
    e. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

     

    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.

     
  • Iraq: Update on the situation of Christians in Mosul

    Posted on 24th July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the eternal Rock,

     

    Iraqi Christians request continued prayer, especially for the Christians of Mosul and surrounding areas, most of whom have now fled.

     

    Recall that the Islamic State (IS), now in control of the area, has acted violently towards and imposed stringent conditions on religious and ethnic minority communities. Most members of the Yazidi and Shi'ite Turkman and Shabak communities have reportedly fled from the area.

     

    IS demanded that Christians convert to Islam or agree to adhere to strict Islamic rules including payment of the jizya tax - or else face execution. When Christian leaders failed to attend a meeting on 17th July, an ultimatum was set, giving Christians until noon on 19th July to leave.

     

    More than 200 families are reported to have fled, leaving all their belongings behind, as demanded by the IS. Some were beaten or otherwise humiliated at checkpoints while fleeing, and many were stripped of their remaining possessions (including vehicles, money, jewellery, phones, ID documents and even food and medicines).

     

    A few Christians remain in Mosul, including some elderly or infirm who were not able to leave. In some cases Christians are being shielded by Muslim neighbours. There are credible reports that some have been compelled by the IS to convert to Islam by reciting the Islamic declaration of faith before a Shari'a court.

     

    On 20th July, IS militants overran the Syriac Orthodox monastery of Mar Behnam, 30 km south east of Mosul, violently expelling all residents. Within Mosul, the cross on the Cathedral of Mar Afram, the Archbishopric of the Syriac Orthodox church, has been removed. It was replaced on 22nd July with loudspeakers for broadcasting the call to prayer.

     

    Iraqi Christians request our continued prayer that:
    a. Christians in Iraq, and especially from the Mosul area, will know the peace of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father
    b. Christians who stayed behind in Mosul would not suffer repressions or reprisals by the IS, or be threatened to change their beliefs.
    c. All the displaced will find places of sanctuary, and that humanitarian assistance will reach all who are in need.
    d. Peace will be restored and that those displaced, including Christians, would be able to return to their towns.
    e. A peaceful and permanent political solution would soon be found, enabling all Iraqis to live in safety and prosperity.

     

    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.