http://www.barnabasfund.org Anti-Christian violence is often focused on Christian festivals, and 2010-2011 was no exception. In Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, threats to disrupt Christmas celebrations in the area were realised when seven explosions killed 32 people and injured 74 on 24 December 2010. That same day two churches in Maiduguri were attacked. Five people, including the pastor and two choir members, died at one church when a 30-strong mob of Muslim militants armed with guns, knives and petrol bombs attacked. Violence against Christians in Nigeria has continued into 2011 with a brutal assault on the villages of Kuru Station and Fagawon on 11 January. Fifteen people, including women and children, died in the attacks.
In Iraq, explosives were left outside at least six homes belonging to Christians on 30 December. Two people were killed and 14 wounded in the targeted attacks. Four days later, a Christian woman, Rafah Butros Toma (44), who survived the church attack in Baghdad in October, was shot dead in her bed. And on 15 January prominent Christian cardiologist Dr Nuyia was severely injured when he was shot at point blank range outside a private hospital in Mosul.
In Egypt a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a church in Alexandria, killing at least 21 people and injuring scores of worshippers as they were leaving a service on New Year’s Day. The Western New Year is considered to be a Christian celebration by many people of other faiths. The attack came two weeks after an Al-Qaeda group, the Islamic State of Iraq, posted a statement on its website calling for militants to bomb churches during Christmas celebrations. Two Christians were also murdered when an off-duty police officer opened fire on Christians travelling on a train on 11 January.
Egypt is experiencing large-scale civil unrest and protests fuelled by economic, social and political grievances, but there are growing fears that radical Islamists may capitalise on the unrest and seize power. Christian gatherings and church meetings have been cancelled, with Christians staying in their homes, “praying hard and trusting God” amid the turmoil.
- Pray that the Lord will comfort all those who lost loved ones in anti-Christian violence in December 2010 and January 2011.
- Give thanks that arrests have been made in connection with the drive-by shooting outside an Egyptian church that killed six Christians on 6 January 2010. Pray that the authorities in all three countries will pursue justice for the Christians who have died or been injured so far this year.
- Pray that Dr Nuyia will make a full recovery and that the Lord will be close to him and his family at this time.
- Pray for peace and religious freedom in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria and other places where Christians were attacked over Christmas and New Year. Pray that our Christian brothers and sisters may continue to be a witness to Christ’s love even as they face discrimination, harassment and violence.