DAR ES SALAM, Tanzania — Christians and their churches here in Tanzania and Kenya are on alert this Easter weekendin anticipation of potential attacks against them. Many have armed police guarding their buildings.
A militant Islamic group known as Muslim Renewal has threatened to burn “homes and churches.” They say they “are not finished, at Easter, prepare for disaster.”
The Al Shabaab-linked group is believed responsible for the murder in Zanzibar last month of Catholic priest, Father Evarest Mushi. It may also have been involved in the killing of Pastor Abdi Welli in Garissa, Kenya.
Militant Muslims have killed church leaders and they’ve attacked more than 30 churches in Tanzania and Kenya in the past year.
Pray for Christians and their leaders who are under a new wave of persecution in East Africa. Pray that God will intervene to protect them this Easter season.
Watch the video comments below of Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar Bishop Michael Hafidh. He discusses fear in the Tanzanian church and the Christian response to the threats.
Source : AFP
Amid hooting cars and other traffic noise, men, women and toddlers sang hymns and said prayers in a two-hour service that also served as a protest against the lack of protection for religious minorities.
The worshipers came from three areas on the outskirts of Jakarta where local government officials shut churches, citing community opposition or the lack of proper building permits.
Rights activists have said local governments are using the permit issue as an excuse to kowtow to religious hard-liners, with churches and Islamic minorities bearing the brunt of attacks.
They say mosque building permits are rarely challenged.
“We are here to show the president and the world that law enforcement, constitutional supremacy and protection of minority groups are not as sweet as the president had claimed,” said Bona Sigalingging, a spokesman for GKI Yasmin church.
Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim but the constitution guarantees freedom of religion.
“The Easter celebration this year, including Good Friday, touched our hearts more than before because now our church is in ruins,” Panahatan Siregar of the Taman Sari church told AFP.
Rights group Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy says cases of intolerance are on the rise, with 543 reported in 2011 compared to 491 in 2009. More than 300 incidents were recorded in the first half of 2012.
ASHTABULA, Ohio (AP) — Witnesses say the 25-year-old man accused of walking into an Ohio church and fatally shooting his father after an Easter service Sunday was yelling about God and Allah after the killing.
Police say Reshad Riddle walked into the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in Ashtabula and killed his father, 52-year-old Richard Riddle, with a single shot from a handgun Sunday afternoon.
Associate Pastor Sean Adams told The (Ashtabula) Star Beacon newspaper that worshippers started screaming, ducking down and calling 911 on cellphones after the shooting.
Reshad Riddle was quickly subdued by officers, who arrived just moments after the shooting. They say he has been mostly cooperative.
“People pushed me into a back office and said, ‘Somebody’s here with a gun,’” said the Rev. David Howard Jr. “The guy was outside hollering and acting crazy.”
County Coroner Pamela Lancaster said Richard Riddle’s wound was “immediately fatal.”
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said the younger Riddle offered no motive for the shooting.
“Witnesses at the scene said the shooter entered church and made some references to Allah, but we are not sure if that was a motive or if there was a family problem,” Stell said. “There is no indication that the father and son had a bad relationship. Everyone thinks this was very surprising.”
Court records show Reshad Riddle has an extensive criminal record.
Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court records show he was arrested and charged with two counts of felonious assault, kidnapping, abduction and tampering with evidence in 2006.
Records show that in 2007, Reshad Riddle was charged with felonious assault, and in 2009 he was charged with possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and possession of cocaine.
According to police reports, one of the felonious assault charges stemmed from an incident when Reshad Riddle allegedly attempted to cut his girlfriend’s throat. Capt. Joseph Cellitti said the young woman’s neck had been cut with a knife and she suffered bruising on her side and chest.
Church parishioners said Reshad Riddle was a member of the church as a child, but did not attend services regularly as an adult.
“No one would have thought twice about him being here with his family on Easter,” Adams said. “His family (has) been members here for years and years.”