At least three dozen killed in church bombings in Egypt
- At least 25 were killed and 78 injured at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, while a second targeted St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Pope in Alexandra, killing at least 11 and wounding 35.
- The bombings, claimed by the Islamic State, came during Palm Sunday observances, a week before Easter and ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis.
- The attacks are the latest in a series committed by fundamentalist Islamic militants, with the Islamic State having shifted its strategy in Egypt to targeting the country’s Coptic Christian minority.
“Bombings at Egyptian Coptic churches kill 36, injure more than 100” (Reuters | April 2017)
“ISIS Claims 2 Deadly Explosions at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday” (The New York Times | April 2017)
“Egypt: Isis claims responsibility for Coptic church bombings” (The Guardian | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Khaled Elfiqi/European Pressphoto Agency, via The New York Times)
Hundreds of Christians flee as Islamic State violence increases in Egypt
- Dozens of families and more than 200 students fled the province of North Sinai as the Islamic State warned of more attacks against Christians in the country.
- Seven Christians have been killed over the last month in the provincial capital Arish, where the Islamic State is making an insurgent push.
- Militants circulated “death lists” online, forcing Christians to choose between flight or death.
(Image Credit: Ahmed Aboulenein/Reuters)
Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World
Source: Al Jazeera YouTube
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas
The Endless Labors of Pakistan’s Debt-Bound Women
A form of indentured servitude persists in the vast fields of Pakistan’s poorest regions, where families labor on lands to pay off debts whose balance never seems to decrease. But while men may find their “payments” limited to hard labor, women and girls find themselves vulnerable not only to physical labor, but to domestic, sexual, and even marital labor forced under conditions of extreme duress. Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls trafficked as a result of these debts, sold off to predatory landowners and forced to convert to Islam. The Associated Press examines the conditions faced by the more than 2 million Pakistanis living in what human rights organizations have called modern-day slavery and the particular indignities to which women and girls are subjected.
“A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt” (The Associated Press)
(Image Credit: B.K. Bangash/AP)
Christians see restrictions on Christmas celebrations as crackdown by Chinese government continues
- A hotel in Zhejiang province canceled plans to host two services by local churches after a warning from the government.
- Zhejiang authorities have also moved to prevent informal “house churches” from operating and have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals.
- Officials have condemned many forms of religious expression in the name of national security, considering Christianity an example of the “infiltration of hostile Western forces.”
“China Cracks Down on Christmas Celebrations, Bans Protestant Services” (Radio Free Asia)
“China’s Zhejiang Bans Religious Activities in Hospitals as Crackdown Widens” (Radio Free Asia, August 2016)
“Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland” (The New York Times, May 2016)
(Image Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press, via The New York Times)
IS claims responsibility on Cairo church bombing that left dozens dead
- The attack on St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral killed at least 25 people and injured nearly 50, most of them women, in Egypt’s deadliest mass killing driven by sectarian conflict since 2011.
- The cathedral was the seat of the Egyptian Orthodox Church and a prominent symbol for Egyptian Copts, who comprise around 10% of the country’s population and who have been subject to systemic discrimination.
- Following the attack, the Islamic State threatened to escalate its “war on polytheism,” leading members of the Christian community and government officials to suspect more large-scale attacks are on the way.
“ISIS Claims Responsibility for Egypt Church Bombing and Warns of More to Come” (The New York Times)
“Blast at Egyptian Coptic cathedral kills at least 25” (The Washington Post)
“23 killed in explosion inside church attached to Cairo’s Coptic cathedral” (Al-Ahram)
(Image Credit: Khaled Desouki/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images, via The New York Times)
Pro-diversity mass demonstration takes place in Jakarta
- Known as the Bhineka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”) Parade, the event brought hundreds of pro-diversity demonstrators out dressed in red and white (the national colors) and traditional dress to support ethnic and religious unity in the country.
- The peaceful event was a response to growing concerns about the influence of fundamentalist Islamic leaders in the Muslim-majority country.
- Recently, hundreds of thousands protested in a call for Jakarta’s governor, an ethnic Chinese Christian, to be charged with blasphemy, and an attack on a church in Samarinda left three children injured and one dead.
“Hundreds join Bhineka Tunggal Ika Parade” (The Jakarta Post)
“Thousands of Indonesians rally against racial, religious intolerance” (Reuters)
“Indonesia Says Jakarta’s Christian Governor Is Suspected of Blasphemy” (The New York Times)
(Image Credit: Wienda Parwitasari/The Jakarta Post)