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Mob of Muslims Defy Courts to Forcibly Build Mosque on Christian's Land


Government and police officials are complicit to land grab, intimidation, and infringement upon family's religious freedom

5/21/15 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Muslim mob in Deder, Ethiopia, has attacked a Christian man and forced him out of his home on the threat of death. Local Muslims want to appropriate his land so that they can build a mosque.  Their actions are despite recent court rulings that guaranteed his property rights.


Fikere Mengistu's family has owned their land for more than 90 years, but a mob of more than 20 Muslims in Kufanzik village remain intent on forcibly building a mosque on the Mengistu farm in defiance of the law. Muslims make up the religious majority in the area. They have destroyed his fence and have looted his possessions. In addition, the local police are complicit in these attempts to steal his land.


"Their first plan was to kill my husband," Mengistu's wife, Haregewoyan, said. "Now, he has escaped from the area. We are fasting and praying for God to rescue us from this forceful action," she added.


ICC provided legal assistance to Fikere Mengistu to retain his land when Muslims previously attempted to steal it in late 2014. He won the legal battle, but now they've returned and are attempting to take it by force. The authorities are letting it happen. In the past, he has faced threats from local police officers, has been forced to pay bribes, and has been imprisoned simply because he is a Christian.


The harassment started when Mengistu built a house for his 93-year-old mother two years ago. Fearing that the village's 38 Christians would use the house to gather for prayer, dozens of Muslims began to occupy his land and would remain for weeks at a time shouting "Allahu akhbar," meaning "God is great." They even destroyed his elderly mother's home as they attempted to drive the Mengistu family off their land and use it to build a mosque. The Muslims claimed Mengistu's land belonged to the government.


However, courts at the state level (East Harerghe Zone level), and the district level (Deder) both upheld Mengistu's land title in November 2014 and April 2015, respectively. Despite the court decisions, Deder Police Commander Abadir Yuya claimed they were not valid and needed to be reviewed. Since then, the mob has continued harassing the Mengistu family.


"We did our best try to defend our faith based on the law of the country and with all our resources, including ICC budget, to pay for our legal expenses. Muslims are out of the control of the government and the law. What can we do?" Mengistu said.


The Muslim rioters have resumed construction of a mosque on the Mengistu property and have designated the structure as a voting precinct, having placed a ballot box there for the upcoming national election, Sunday, May 24. ICC's Ethiopia staffer says the mob has employed this strategy in an attempt to legally justify continued construction.


"They are expanding their new mosque and building fences," Mengistu's wife said fearfully. She remains with her five children, aged mother-in-law, and 30 other Christians praying on the property. "Please help me protect my land and secure my family and the fellow Christians," she continued.


The main culprits perpetuating the illegal construction include Zone Police representative Abdi, militia leader Heder Abdi, and District Administrator Tajur Shami, who ordered the militia to protect the project.


ICC is working with the Ethiopian Lawyers Association to advocate for the Mengistu family's property rights. Progress has stalled until after the election because government officials remain focused on election-related issues at this time.





14 May 2015

This autumn, Open Doors is hosting a series of events around the country to celebrate our 60th anniversary. One of our speakers will be Yong Sook, a Christian from North Korea. Yong Sook's life began in 1951 in a Chinese village, where she was born into a poor Korean family. It nearly ended 46 years later in a North Korean prison. Her extraordinary life story is both tragic and triumphant; today she can thank the God who answers prayer.

When Yong Sook was seven, her family decided to move back to North Korea. 'Victory belonged to socialism,' said the government, and Koreans in China and Japan were being urged to 'come home'. So they moved to Pyongyang.

In 1964, a man came to their house. He told her father and grandfather about a secret Christian network and how they needed to sign up if they wanted to be saved. The two men argued about it. But in the end her grandfather won.

Three years later five police agents barged into the house, looking for people who'd signed the list. Her father and grandfather were taken away. Her grandfather was soon released. "He lied and blamed everything on my father," Yong Sook says. "The police believed him and he could go home." Her father, however, spent six months in prison. Then, one day, he was called to the prison courtyard with around 140 other people - all members of the Christian network. Her father denied that he was a Christian, as did about half of the prisoners. They were allowed to leave. The others, it is believed, probably died in prison.


Her father turned up suddenly one day at his house in Pyongyang. "We were all so shocked to see him. He was skin over bone. We could just see his skeleton... more dead than alive. He never spoke about his experience but he returned a different man, depressed and silent."

His return also changed Yong Sook's grandfather. "From the day he saw his son again, he did not speak any more. Not a single word. He felt so guilty, that even looking at my father was impossible for him."

This 83-year-old man never overcame his remorse for betraying his son. But Yong Sook remembers him as the man who encouraged her to believe in God. "Now I am grateful for the man he was," she says. "I am convinced that he prayed a lot for us. My faith is the result of that prayer."


It was to be many years before Yong Sook discovered the grace of God and the safety of His love. After the death of 'Great Leader' Kim Il-Sung in 1994, the economy collapsed. To avoid starvation, Yong Sook's family and neighbours fled to China - but at the border they were arrested and imprisoned. There Yong Sook was separated from her husband and son. Incarcerated in the most inhumane conditions, she and her neighbour experienced interrogation, illness and torture. "You cannot imagine the fear of being in that prison," she says.

Yong Sook began to pray, first to her mother, then her father, then her grandfathers. "Then I asked myself: Who is the most powerful person I can pray to? I came to the conclusion it was God. So I prayed for Him to release me. I still was not a believer, but I firmly believe that thanks to those remarkable prayers in that dark prison cell I have been blessed so much ever since."

God did answer her prayers but it was no easy road to happiness. Now in South Korea, reunited with her family, she says she knows "God brought me here."

Meet Yong Sook in person and hear more of her fascinating story at The Greatest Adventure in Birmingham on 14 November, or at Secret Christians and Smuggled Hope in Glasgow on 20 November. Your life could be transformed!

Open Doors


Quake survivors forced to drink contaminated water, “only the Christians help us”
by Christopher Sharma
A village has run out of drinking water and the survivors are forced to drink that is mixed with animal carcasses and dead people. Political parties (majority and opposition) only send aid to their supporters. The director of Caritas Nepal explains the relationship between government and associations in an emergency.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In the Nepalese village of Singati (district Dolhaka) the population has no clean water to drink. Krishna Tamang, a survivor of the earthquake, said: "About 50 percent of the houses were left standing after the earthquake of April 25, but the May 12 aftershock destroyed them all. We residents have pulled out at least 150 dead bodies from the rubble. In the village there is the stink of decomposing bodies. We have no clean water and we are forced to drink from sources contaminated with the carcasses of dead animals and people". In this devastation "just some philanthropic organizations and Christian associations have reached us and brought emergency supplies and food, but until today [yesterday, editor's note] twe have had no sign of the government”.

Almost a month after the earthquake that devastated Nepal, the situation is still far from back to normal. To date, the death toll is 8,567 dead, more than 18 thousand wounded and dozens of people who have suffered permanent mutilation. As evidenced by analysts and survivors themselves, the Catholic Church, Caritas from around the world and foreign and local Christian associations are the only ones helping those who are still stuck in remote areas and still at risk.

The Catholic churches in the country - including the Cathedral of the Assumption in Lalitpur (Kathmandu), the church of Baniyatar and the Godavari - are in full service. In addition to raising funds for the survivors, they have organized teams of volunteers to provide relief and distribute aid.

Celebrating the Mass yesterday Fr. Bijaya Toppo, a Catholic priest, said: "We all should offer humanitarian aid to the victims of the earthquake, according to our ability. We are Catholics and different to others, because our service is not discriminatory: we witness the presence of Jesus with prayer and work. "

Fr. Ignatius Rai, pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, says: "The Church and Catholic organizations are working in the most affected districts, such as Gorkha, Nuwakot, Dhading, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk and Okhaldhunga. We do our best, but our resources are limited and our efforts alone are not enough to help the people".

Professor Kapil Shrestha says: "I have heard many people say that the Christian and international organizations has been swift and honest in distributing aid, as opposed to the government. The government has a lot of relief materials, but most are still stuck in the airport customs or at the border. It is sad to see our leaders argue over where to send aid, while the population struggles to survive. "

In Rome to attend the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis, Father Pius Perumana, executive director of Caritas Nepal, tries to explain the relationship between government and associations in an emergency to AsiaNews: "For years, Caritas has been collaborating with the government and there has never been any problems. " "It is not accurate - he said - to say that the government has asked all those who help to leave. Many countries have sent troops and rescue teams even without the approval of the government of Nepal. "

The director of Caritas Nepal explains: "Every time there is a disaster, the Red Cross has command of all operations and we must follow its directives. All institutions of the country, scattered in the different districts, must work together centrally. " "Often, however - continues Fr. Pius - foreign groups do not understand this complexity, they come with good intentions but do not know the language, the local situation or how the organization works. This creates confusion”.

 "10 to 12 days after the earthquake - says the priest - the government had to make a decision, whether to continue the search or start rebuilding. It decided that the research phase for survivors was over and all the foreign teams that had come for that specific purpose had to stop”.