ISLAMIC MILITANTS ORDER UNMARRIED MUSLIM WOMEN TO “JIHAD BY SEX”
After recently capturing Mosul and other territories in Iraq, ISIS (theIslamic State of Iraq and Syria) is alleged to have issued a decree ordering people to send their unmarried women to “jihad by sex.” According to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), ISIS threatens in the proclamation to impose Sharia law on all who fail to comply with the decree. AINA is also reporting that ISIS has warned all the women of Mosul, including Christians, to wear the Islamic veil, and have set up checkpoints throughout the city to implement the warning. Here is a translation from Arabic of the decree, released by AINA.”
In the Name of Allah the Merciful. “After liberation of the State of Nineveh, and the welcome shown by the people of the state to their brotherly mujahedeen, and after the great conquest, and the defeat of the Safavid[Persian] troops in the State of Nineveh, and its liberation, and Allah willing, it will become the headquarters for the mujahedeen. Therefore we request that the people of this state offer their unmarried women so that they can fulfil their duty of jihad by sex to their brotherly mujahedeen. Failure to comply with this mandate will result in enforcing the laws of Sharia upon them. Allah we have notified, Allah bear witness.”
A website called http://www.syrianperspective.com/ also talks about this news and says, that the Amir of ISIS has “announced the induction of 150 Muslim girls into the ‘Sex Jihad Corps’, an elite class of females whose sole duty, as devout Muslimettes, is entertaining the hard-working men of the ISIS movement.” Other media reports say that ISIS militants have been on a killing spree, executing dozens of civilians working for the police and a court employee in central Mosul. They also say that four women killed themselves after being raped or forced to marry ISIS militants, whilst 16 Georgians had been kidnapped, and prisoners released by the militants had been looking to exact revenge on those responsible for their incarceration.
Elsewhere the Chaldean Catholic Church’s Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, in Kurdish-governed Northern Iraq, is reported as saying that for the first time in 1600 years there was no Mass said in Mosul on Sunday June 15th. This is the city taken over days before by ISIS forces. Reports say the estimated 3,000 or so Christians still there (from about 35,000 in 2003) all fled ahead of the militias’ takeover of control, although some families were reported to have returned. They cited lack of job prospects and shelter once they’d become internally displaced, or refugees in Kurdish Iraq. Amongst those fleeing Mosul, were families sheltering in a Christian-dominated district of Erbil, Ankawa.
In the largely Christian town of Qaraqosh, 50 kms south of Mosul there were about 70,000 Christians living in the area. On Wednesday 25th June, Kurdish Peshmerga forces engaged with the ISIS militias who were trying to move into Qaraqosh where two Christian families were reported killed by mortars. Locals believe that it was ISIS which carried out the bombing. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has confirmed that Syrian government jets have bombed ISIS in other parts of northern Iraq. Locals say that the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, fighting with local Christian residents, were able to repel ISIS from Qaraqosh after 1000 Peshmerga troop reinforcements arrived. Locals say the situation in the town is now much quieter.
Qaraqosh residents initially started to flee to the churches of another nearby Christian town of Karamles. However thousands of cars with people from Qaraqosh and Karamles were seen waiting at the Kurdish-controlled checkpoint to enter Erbil, a safe haven to the north. Other families headed for Dohuk, about an hour’s drive directly north of Mosul. About 40 Christian families reached Erbil’s Ankawa district where they found temporary shelter at a centre for elderly people. They gave accounts of rockets falling near Qaraqosh houses with glass windows shattered and people injured. Local Christians were quick to help the new arrivals: Some are sleeping on a piece of cardboard in 45 degree heat.”
Meanwhile a member of Iraq’s High Commission on Human Rights Dr. Sallama AlKhafaji has told Arabic news website, Al Sumaria, that from June 21 ISIS began to demand a poll tax (jizya) from Christians in Mosul. In a custom rooted in medieval times, under strict Islamic law, Christians were required to have to pay protection money and are not allowed to publicly express their faith. Dr Al Khafaji is reported to have said that in one case, ISIS members entered the home of an Assyrian family to demand it. She reports that when the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father who was so traumatized that he committed suicide.
“The Christians cannot afford to pay this tax,” said Dr. Al-Khafaji, “and they say ‘what am I to do, shall I kill myself?'” Meanwhile, Iraqi church leaders have met in Erbil to discuss a ‘rescue plan’, amid growing fears that the ISIS Islamist attacks have put Christianity at increased risk of being extinguished from the country. Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Saad Sirop, said the crisis could only be solved by reconciliation between the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. He repeated calls for the international community to press for negotiation between the various Islamic leaders. He added that military action would be counter-productive. Bishop Saad added:”We ask God to give us the wisdom to face these problems with courage.”
MERIAM IBRAHIM G IVES FIRST MEDIA INTERVIEW IN SUDAN
There was great rejoicing when Sudanese Christian, Meriam Ibrahim – sentenced to death for apostasy – was released from prison. Within hours, however, she was apprehended on charges of falsifying ID documents as she and her family tried to board a flight to the United States and were detained at a police station in the capital. She has now been freed on condition that she remains in Sudan, although her lawyer insists court documents show no restrictions on travelling. Speaking in her first interview with media after her release, Meriam maintained that she had “always been Christian. I couldn’t have been Muslim and not go back, with all the things they said and the way they treat me.”
“A different sheikh came to speak to me every day in prison and the other women said all sorts of things like ‘don’t eat the nonbeliever’s food’ and called me a Christian,” Meriam said. “There was all this talk and taunts, even from the officers in the prison.” Meriam and husband Daniel are now in the US embassy in Khartoum with their two children – 18-month-old Daniel and baby Maya, who was born in jail and whom Meriam fears may “need support to walk” in future, due to her traumatic birth while Meriam was chained by her ankles to the floor. “To be honest, I’m really miserable” Meriam said. “I left prison to bring together my children and settle down, and now there are protests against me on the streets.”
Meriam’s case highlights the vulnerability of women who express their loyalty to Christ in the face of Muslim opposition. This week, Maria Yusuf, from Boreda, Ethiopia, was killed after her husband beat her for her refusal to recant her Christian faith. A Muslim before she was married, she became a Christian two years ago. A Christian acquaintance arrived at the scene of the crime just before Maria died to hear her say repeatedly, “He killed me.” The local Christian community spoke of their love for Maria and of her spiritual growth. She was baptised at the beginning of this year but endured regular beatings from her husband for converting to Christianity.
Although Christians form the majority in this area, the community of believers in Boreda has been facing considerable opposition from local Muslims and officials. Muslim Background Believers are often placed under huge pressure to recant their faith. Their decision to follow Christ can become even more evident during Ramadan which lasts until 27 July. Families can become very angry, even violent, when one member changes their faith and no longer observes the event.
* for the Holy Spirit to give wisdom to all who are negotiating with Sudanese officials for the final release of Meriam, Daniel, Martin and Maya
* for God to strengthen Christians in Maria’s community who are deeply shaken by her death
* for the safety of new Muslim Background Believers who can be ostracised by their families during Ramadan.
The following is what 15 people-ranging from 18 to 39 years old, representing five countries and four continents, experienced while serving others and sharing about Jesus in Southern Africa during the first Operation Mobilization Africa Trek of 2014 (Note: names have been changed or not included for security reasons): During a time of team prayer and preparation, team leader Eduard received a message from God of rains following the team wherever they went, and it was so. From Potchefstroom, South Africa, to Kang, Botswana, the team drove under heavy rainfall over the Kalahari Desert. From there, waters from Heaven accompanied them.
As team member Josh mentioned, this was taken as a miraculous sign of God’s presence with the team, and for people living in a dry and parched land. The rains stopped every time the team needed to pitch their tents, and as soon as the tents were up rain fell for most of the night. Every morning by dawn, when they held devotions, the rains stopped and they had sunny days for ministry. In coordination with local worker MacDonald, the team helped fix an old Muslim lady’s house. She had been living in another person’s kitchen for 18 months. The team re-thatched the roof with mud and grass, cleaned the yard, fixed the structure and revamped the floor, which took them about four half days of work.
People in the community could not believe what the “white people” were willing to do for them. “Why are you doing this?” This opened a door for the team to share about Jesus with a very receptive audience. The old lady was overwhelmed with gratitude. The chief of the village came to them and said that he was embarrassed. “We walked past that house time after time; but you, followers of Jesus, did for our own Muslim people what we have not done for them,” he said. As Josh said, reflecting upon the experience, “God did more among these people we served through our practical work than through our preaching. Our prayer is that the house we fixed will keep telling them about a God who loves, a God who cares!”
In another village, in Malawi, the team built a toilet and a shower for a local family. Here they also had an audience willing to listen to their message. Inges, a local worker on the team connected the team with the family. He has a Bible study group with the community. The grandfather of the house said, “I want to follow and serve this Jesus! I want to be baptized!” So, the team went with him to the river. As they went, the man complained about pain in his back, but after they baptized and prayed for him, he testified about his complete healing. This man is the father of a chief who has authority over 12 villages, so his testimony of coming to Jesus, being baptized and being healed has the potential to reach many others.
Arab Christians from all over the Middle East were invited to “At the Crossroads” held at Christ Church, in the heart of Jerusalem, to share fellowship with Jewish followers of Jesus. Among those present was an Iranian pastor based in the U.K. An Israeli conference organizer reminded his audience that Iran had not always been a sworn enemy of Israel, and took the opportunity to pray a blessing over Iran, asking God to re-open the gates between them so they would once more be friends. The Iranian Pastor then returned the favour by praying a blessing over Israel. Many delegates risked their lives in some cases, as Christians are undergoing tremendous persecution in a number of Muslim-background countries.
The inaugural Crossroads event in 2012 has already borne much fruit. One Israeli believer put his life on the line no less than 30 times in order to bring aid to suffering Christians in Syria. Reuven Berger, pastor of a Hebrew congregation meeting at Christ Church, reminded his hearers that “Abraham loved Ishmael very much” and that God promised a blessing to Ishmael as well as Isaac, from whom the Jews are descended. Reuven’s parents, respectively German and Austrian, managed to flee the Nazis in 1938 but his grandparents were sadly trapped in Europe and murdered. He said: “We are seeing more and more people from a Muslim background receiving Jesus as Lord.” God is bringing Isaac and Ishmael together.”
Another delegate told of rapid church growth in Algeria which started in the late 1990s with many people having visions of Jesus. Whole villages are being converted and it is like walking through the pages of the Book of Acts with healings and other miraculous manifestations taking place. And the believers there are now reaching out to other countries. David Milburn, a Jewish Israeli originally from North London, recently married Annie, a 30-year-old Armenian Arab. As a couple they felt called to be a role model of Middle East reconciliation. “We see this as our life-calling – God enablingus to live out the life of Christ, who breaks down every barrier,” David explained.
Another work of compassion crossing the political and cultural divide which has also been featured at the conference involves a Christian ministry called Shevet Achim. They rescue children with life-threatening heart conditions from surrounding Arab countries and provide them with the best possible treatment at top Israeli hospitals. Spokesman Jonathan Miles said: “So many people are ready to receive the message of reconciliation with Israel.” Christ Church, built in the 1840s, is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. Opening the conference, rector David Pileggi said: “It was always the vision that this church should actually be a refuge for the people of Israel and a place where the nations find healing.”
UNITED NATIONS REAFFIRMS NATURAL FAMILY AS FUNDAMENTAL UNIT OF SOCIETY
The United Nations put a damper on “gay pride” festivities when it re-affirmed that the natural family is the fundamental unit of society. The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on “Protection of the Family” with a traditional definition of the family, even as revellers readied themselves to celebrate gay pride weekend. It recognizes the importance of the family for society and individuals, and that countries must strengthen and protect the family. The resolution not only echoes language from the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights about the family as the “natural and fundamental unit of society,” it also states that the family is the “natural environment” for the education and development of children.
The resolution does not sit well with countries that give cohabiting individuals of the same-sex similar rights as married couples, or allow persons of the same sex to marry. Some countries, the United States among them, rejected that definition and claimed the resolution threatens the rights of individuals in families and tries to impose a single model of family. The resolution had been in the works for over a year but brought to the floor this year. Their last ditch attempt to include the qualificationof “various forms of the family” failed at the eleventh hour. The resolution passed by a comfortable margin, with 26 votes for, 14 against, and 6 abstentions. It was greeted by thunderous applause.
GOOGLE MAKES GOOD ON PROMISE TO BAN SEXUALLY EXPLICIT CONTENT FROM ADS AND PROMOTIONS
Following a meeting with Morality in Media, internet giant, Google,announced they would be stopping any promotions on its advertising network that contain “sexually explicit content.” This week, Google put the ban into action, warning that any ads that contained “adult entertainment” would not be allowed on Google’s networks. Google also posted parameters for advertising, such as: “graphic depictions of sexual acts; content with underage or non-consensual sexual themes, including child sexual abuse content; and services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation.” Google added, “We don’t allow this content regardless of whether it meets applicable legal restrictions or not.”