Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coptic Solidarity Conference Recommends New Policy Towards Egypt

"America could be on the wrong side of history by its continued support for a fascistic regime that is rejected by the Egyptian people."

WASHINGTON - AINA -- Coptic Solidarity recently held its fourth Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. titled "To What Extent Will the U.S. and the International Community Support an Islamist Government in Egypt?"

Renowned speakers shared expertise and recommendations clarifying priorities facing the increasingly marginalized Coptic community and the embattled people of Egypt. Speakers included 81st Attorney General, Judge Michael Mukasey; Canada's Religious Freedom Ambassador, Dr. Andrew Bennett; R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence; Baroness Cox, Member of UK House of Lords; a total of 9 Members of Congress and Parliamentarians; Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at DRL; author Judith Miller; leading Egyptian and American experts, and speakers from Russia, UK and Australia. Altogether, 39 speakers shared their views.

The conference included a Policy Education Day on Capitol Hill followed by a second day at a hotel. Coptic Solidarity president, Adel Guindy, opened the conference stating, "America could be on the wrong side of history by its continued support for a fascistic regime that is rejected by the Egyptian people," and warned against the banality of evil.

Melia contended the US has been proactive in supporting democracy and human rights in Egypt, yet the Egyptian government has not heeded all of their suggestions. He claimed the Administration has to provide incentives for Egypt. Yet the Administration remains unconvinced that withholding the aid that Secretary Kerry just released to Egypt, would have been sufficient inducement for the Morsi Regime to protect human rights and operate democratically.

Coptic Solidarity released recommendations from the conference. These include: opposition groups in Egypt must unite in efforts to defeat the Muslim Brotherhood by all peaceful and political means, rewriting of a constitution compatible with international standards and the fundamentals of modern state, resist the newly proposed NGO law before it curtails civil society any further, press the State Department to designate Egypt as a 'Country of Particular Concern' this year followed by measures "with teeth" such as conditioning of foreign aid, and support passage of both House and Senate bills for the Creation of a Special Envoy to Promote Religious freedom in the Near East and S. Central Asia.

Obama’s Proxy War on Mideast Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim

With the recent decision to arm the opposition fighting Syrian President Assad, the United States has effectively declared a proxy war on Syria’s indigenous Christians—a proxy war that was earlier waged on Christians in other Mideast nations, resulting in the abuse, death, and/or mass exodus of Christians.

Ironically (if not absurdly) this proxy war on Christians is being presented to the American people as a war to safeguard the “human rights” and “freedoms” of the Syrian people.  Left unsaid by the Obama administration is the egregiously inhuman behavior these jihadis visit upon moderate Syrians in general Christians in particular, from bombed churches to kidnapped (and often beheaded) Christians.  Days ago they massacred an entire Christian village.

Nor can one argue that the Obama administration is unaware that Christian persecution is an ironclad aspect of empowering jihadis.  Both past precedents and current events repeatedly demonstrate this.

In Libya, the administration armed/supported the “freedom fighters” fighting Gaddafi, even though it was common knowledge that many of them were connected to al-Qaeda.  Again, the rationale was “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings,” as Obama declared in April 2011, and how not assisting them “would have been a betrayal of who we are.”

Soon after their empowerment, some of our U.S.-supported “fellow human beings” decided to rub America’s face in it by attacking the U.S. consulate—on the anniversary of September 11, no less—resulting in the murders and possible rape of American diplomats, even as Obama tried to attribute the attack to American freedom of speech (a la a YouTube flick).

Lesser known, however, is that Libya’s small Christian minority is also being targeted.  Among other things, the very few churches there are under attack and bombed; nuns that have been serving the sick and needy since 1921 have been harassed and forced to flee; foreign Christians possessing Bibles have been arrested and tortured (one recently died from his torture).

In Egypt, Obama and Hillary joined the bandwagon to eject Hosni Mubarak, America’s most stable and secular ally for thirty years. Then the administration cozied up to the Muslim Brotherhood—an Islamist organization that until recently was banned in Egypt and which no U.S. president would have been involved with.   Among other “achievements,” the Brotherhood produced Sayyid Qutb, who is idolized by al-Qaeda as the chief theoretician of modern jihad and issued a 1980 fatwa calling on the destruction of Coptic churches in Egypt.

Syrian Priest Francois Murad Beheaded by Muslims with support from Obama

I posted on Friday about Syrian jihadi rebels (supported by the Obama regime) murdering Franciscan priest Fr Francois Murad. Now video has surfaced of him being beheaded. If you choose to follow the link to watch the video, imagine your beloved parish priest, or perhaps one of the hieromonks you know, suffering martyrdom in this way.

These Muslim jihadis who beheaded this humble priest are being supported by the United States government at the expense of the Syrian Christian population.

On the spiritual plane, this means the Obama regime is making all Americans accomplice to genocide against Christians. Obama is trying to make us guilty of the blood of our brothers and sisters while he raises up another Islamic Sharia regime in the Middle East.

Time to start saying NO to the tyrant in the White House and the deluded congressman and senators who are enabling these crimes against God.

God have mercy on us all...

Syrian Priest Francois Murad Beheaded by Muslims

Franciscan Priest Francois Murad
  • By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
  • 6/29/2013
  • Catholic Online (
Jihadists are terrorizing Syrians and persecuting Christians.

Syrian terrorists have beheaded a Catholic priest who they accused of collaborating with the Assad regime. Those accusations have not yet been verified. Father Francois was summarily executed and the Vatican has confirmed the martyrdom.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.
Below is the news release from the Vatican, via  
On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge. This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.  
Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh. After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary.  
"Let us pray," writes the Custos of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, "so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life." Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis reports to Fides: "The whole story of Christians in the Middle East is marked and made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs of many persecutions. Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world."

This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue. 

We have a link to video provided via LiveLeak. We must warn you, the video is extremely graphic. We believe the first victim is Father Francois, and the second victim that is depicted is another person said to be a collaborator with the Assad regime. 

The video CLEARLY depicts the beheadings of these victims. DO NOT follow the link unless you are over the age of 18, and are prepared to view content of this nature. 

Catholic Online believes it is very important the world knows that Christians are being murdered for their faith, and that martyrdom isn't an ancient phenomenon.

Click here for video of the beheading. ***WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC***

For Kosovo Serbs, Pentecost on the Ruins

For Serbs from around Suva Reka, Pentecost is a very special day, when they have the modest opportunity to see if only briefly their homeland, their native villages and homes--or rather, what is left of them.

This day, is the patronal feast day, or Slava as the Serbs call it, of their ancient holy shrine, the Holy Trinity Monastery, now in ruins for over a decade. The monastery had its beginnings in the fourteenth century--the height of the Nemanjić dynasty, when Kosovo and Metochia were the very heart of Serbia and the cradle of Serbian culture, history, and faith.

In 1999, before the very beginning of the war, eight nuns lived and prayed to God in the monastery of the Holy Trinity. The head of the convent was Abbess Katarina. On June 12, 1999, the sisters of the monastery and the entire Serbian population of the nearby village of Mušutište were forced to abandon their native regions to save themselves from the Albanian terror. The KLA soon burned down all the villages, along with the ancient church of the Hodigitria Mother of God (1315), and then destroyed the Holy Trinity Monastery.

Serbs have not returned since that time, but the memory of their homeland and sacred places lives on in the hearts of those “resettled” and “relocated” persons, as those who forced them out now call them.

With the blessing of Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren, the brothers of Visoki Dečani Monastery have been coming here for the past few years on the day of Pentecost to cut the overgrowth of grasses and serve the Divine Liturgy under the open skies. Serbs who used to live in this region also come to pray, along with other guests.

This year, Hieromonk Petr (Rojevich) served, and Nuns Iezekieka and Jeremiah attended. After Communion and a modest repast, those who came took advantage of the opportunity to visit their forebear’s graves, and the corners and grounds so dear to their hearts.

Full photo gallery here.

Syrian and American Christians: A Horror That Binds

The Economist - June 28, 2013

WHEN really tragic events occur, categories of people who previously didn’t feel much in common can find themselves coming together in a community of pain and indignation. Categories like… American Christians and Middle Eastern Christians, for example.

Yes, I meant to write that. Until recently, America’s politically engaged Christians, especially those on the right, seemed deeply ambivalent in their attitude to co-religionists in the Middle East. When Christian residents of Bethlehem and other West Bank towns complained that their land was being appropriated to make way for new Israeli settlements (including ones that the American government had deplored), they rarely found much much sympathy in the United States. Or take Iraq: the displacement of more than half of that country’s Christian minority in the mayhem that followed the 2003 invasion has received remarkably little attention in American religious circles. Nor have church-going Americans been much engaged with Lebanon, unless they belong to denominations with Middle Eastern links. And when they do try to make sense of Lebanon’s internal feuding (in which Christian militias have fought on different sides, and committed their share of atrocities), American church people haven’t felt any automatic loyalty to their Lebanese counterparts. Back in the 1980s when the Reagan administration was deeply engaged in war-torn Lebanon, protecting the Christian cause never seemed to be a stated American concern.

The horrors in Syria may have changed all that. At a hearing on Capitol Hill this week, called by Republican congressman Chris Smith, campaigners who testified about the sufferings of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria found a very sympathetic audience. News of that hearing, and of some horrific recent incidents in which clerics were reportedly beheaded, killed and targeted for assassination, have been circulating furiously in the American religious media, electronic and otherwise. In part, this concern is fueled by partisan point-scoring. Arming the wrong people in Syria is being portrayed as one of the many sins of the Obama administration, along with socialist health-care and undermining marriage.

Politics aside, there is of course plenty to be concerned about. In recent days, a stomach-churning video (since taken off YouTube) has been circulating that appears to show a Syrian Christian priest, and another man, having their heads cut off with a small knife before a cheering crowd in a rebel-controlled area. The Roman Catholic authorities have reported the death of a Franciscan monk during a raid on a monastery in the north of Syria on June 23rd. Yesterday there was a suicide bombing outside the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (pictured) in Damascus that killed four people who were queuing for food. The Patriarch, John X, had entered the premises shortly beforehand and the bombing may have been aimed at him. The Patriarch’s brother is one of two bishops from Aleppo who were kidnapped in April; the absence of any concrete news about them seems deeply worrying.

In testimony to the congressional hearing, Nina Shea, a religious-freedom watcher with the Hudson Institute, said that Syria’s Christians “are not simply caught in the middle, as collateral damage. They are…targets of an ethno-religious cleansing by Islamic militants and courts. In addition they have lost the protection of the Assad government, making them easy prey for criminals and fighters, whose affiliations are not always clear.” She quoted a Christian bishop as saying: “Christians are terrified by these (Islamist) militias and fear that in the event of their victory they would be…forced to leave the country.”

All these reports are getting a wider hearing in America than has any other recent chapter in the turbulent history of Christianity in the Middle East. Particularly in the measured form delivered by Ms Shea, who by no means ignores the misdeeds of the Assad regime, they are well worth the attention of all outsiders, Christians or otherwise, who claim to care about the region.

Source: h/t Pravmir 

The Slaughter of Christians By Turks and Kurds in Diarbekir in 1895

Here is an account of one of the earliest phases in the Armenian Genocide, which may also accurately be termed the Orthodox Genocide. You can read my earlier posts here and here.

The Slaughter of Christians By Turks and Kurds in Diarbekir in 1895

The Commemoration of the Brutal Slaughter of Orthodox Christians Under Kurdish Hordes in Diarbekir of Asia Minor was established by the Patriarchate of Alexandria in 1896, to be remembered on June 30th.

Because of its territorial losses in the Balkans due to the Russian intervention and the rise of Armenian nationalism, Turkey began a policy of systematic extermination of its Christian citizens between 1894-1896. Though many refer to this as the "Armenian Genocide", in reality a great number of Assyrian and Greek Christians equally suffered at the same time.

On October 20 in 1895, Turkish and Kurdish gangs began the slaughter of Christians in Diarbekir (Amid/Amida/Diyarbakır). This region was mainly made up of Armenians and Assyrians, yet many Greeks lived there as well. At this time. the Assyrian Church of the Holy Mother of God gave refuge to many Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks. Here a revealing exchange occurred when several Assyrians suggested to their priest that the Armenian refugees be expelled from the building so as not to aggravate Turkish sentiment. The Assyrian cleric replied: "The people who cross themselves will stay in church to the end. Should we be killed, we will be killed together." In the end, 119 villages in Diarbekir were scorched and ruined; 6000 Christian families - about 30,000 people - were killed. In October 1895, the Turkish army and Hamidiye regiments entered Urfa and killed 13,000 Assyrians. The massacre in Diarbekir city was one of the most violent and bloody massacres in the period, extensively reported on by the French Consul in the city, Gustave Meyrier.

In a letter from Paul Cambon to his mother on November 4, 1895: "At Diarbekir they have been killling and looting since Friday. Our consul is locked in his house with 500 refugee and from his window, he watches policemen take up arms with groups of savage Kurds from outside the city and Muslims from within. They are massacring all Christians without distinction." (Sebastien de courtois, translated by Vincent Aurora, "The Forgotten Genocide" Gorgias Press p. 106.)

In a later report on December 18, 1895 Gustave Meyrier wrote: "That day at sunrise the carnage started and lasted until Sunday night." Armed Turks were divided into groups going systematically from one house to another making sure not to disturb the Muslims. "They kicked the doors, looted evrything, and if the people were home, they slit their throats. They killed everyone they could find, men, women, and children, the girls were kidnappped." (Sebastien de courtois, translated by Vincent Aurora, "The Forgotten Genocide" Gorgias Press p.105.) The massacres continued way into 1896.

Sultan Abdul Hamid's anti-Christian pogroms had disastrous consequences for his Christians as up to 300,000 Armenians and 55,000 Assyrians died. Many Christians were forcibly converted to Islam or murdered. About 100,000 people from 245 villages were Islamicized and countless Assyrian women were forced into Turkish harems.

The decline of the Ottoman Empire resulted in the coming to power of the Young Turks who saw World War One as another opportunity to rid Turkey of its Christian population, the indigenous people of the country. The massacres spilt over into the mountains north of Mosul and Urmia's province in northwest Iran. About 750,000 Assyrians in the three regions lost their life along with more than a million Armenians and an unspecified number of Greeks.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

St. Gregory Palamas - Confessor and Defender of Orthodoxy Against Islam

by Ralph Zosimas Sidway

I. Introduction

St. Gregory Palamas is one of those profound and pivotal saints with whom one becomes better acquainted over time, and who often surprises with his insights, message and significance. While rightly revered and commemorated in Greece and elsewhere in the Orthodox world and by Orthodox monastics generally, in America, the relatively recent publications of his life and sermons, and studies of his significance, has led to a growing appreciation in the English-speaking world over only the last few decades for this “Light of Orthodoxy,” who is honored on the Second Sunday of Great Lent (often called a “Second Triumph of Orthodoxy”).

In this essay, I intend to explore a lesser known episode from St. Gregory’s life, which is no less significant than his dominant legacy, especially for our troubled times. In a manner similar to St. Gregory’s handling of the Hesychast Controversy, this episode from later in his life is rich in theological insights, and reveals much about the saint’s strength of Christian character; I believe these two lessons are providentially intended for us today, as a model of missionary pedagogy towards Muslims, and as an example of being a faithful confessor of Jesus Christ.

II. Captured and Held Hostage by Muslim Turks

The capture by the Muslim Turks of Archbishop Gregory Palamas when he landed at Gallipoli on March 10, 1354 while on a political mission of reconciliation for the Emperor John V Paleologos, set the stage for an unexpected and providential chapter late in the revered archpastor’s life.  

Archbishop Gregory was held as a hostage by the Muslims for an entire year, suffering considerable hardships, sometimes beatings, chains and deprivations, which left him greatly weakened by the time he was ransomed by the Serbs. [1]

In spite of being a prisoner (his status was somewhat more rigorous than house arrest; he was not locked up in a prison), he used the opportunity to encourage the Orthodox Christians he encountered in the various towns he passed through, who had only recently been conquered by the Ottomans. At the same time, he engaged in several discussions with his Muslim captors, which were preserved by a certain Dr. Taronites from Nicaea, or by Gregory’s biographer Philotheos. These accounts present a dynamic image of St. Gregory, who, in a manner sometimes similar to the Apostle Paul, takes spontaneous advantage of opportunities to engage with his captors in order to share the Orthodox Gospel. In one instance, after seeing a Muslim funeral, Gregory asks the Muslims what was said. On learning that they were asking Allah to forgive the sins of the deceased, he praised their initiative and their beseeching God, pivoting from this starting point to speak of Jesus Christ as the only Judge, using that to lead into the teaching of Jesus as the Logos of God, undivided from Him yet eternally begotten. [2]

Friday, June 28, 2013

Atrocities Against Christians Accelerate in Syria

The Syrian Islamist rebels we are now supporting with weapons are committing horrible atrocities in broad daylight, before cheering crowds, beheading Christian clergy and innocents, as these recent reports document (click on headline links for full stories):

Cheryl K. Chumley The Washington Times - 27/6/13 A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy, President Bashar Assad’s military, foreign media reported. An undated video that made the Internet rounds on Wednesday showed two unnamed men with tied hands surrounded by a cheering mob...

27/6/13 A revered Syrian monk and hermit, Father Franҫois Mourad, has been killed during an assault of the Franciscan monastery in a predominantly Christian village in the north near the Turkish border, Vatican Radio reported...

Associated Press - 27/6/13 DAMASCUS, Syria –  A suicide attacker blew himself up near one of the main churches in the Syrian capital Thursday, killing at least four people, state-run TV said. The blast struck in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Virgin Mary Church in the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Bab Sharqi in central Damascus...

Syrian Christians are asking why the United States supports extremists who want to turn Syria into an Islamic state. That testimony came during a congressional hearing on Syria’s religious minorities Tuesday. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who chairs the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, called on President Barack Obama to defend the rights of Syrian Christians. In an opening statement at Tuesday’s hearing, Smith said statistics show “that Christians are even more fearful for their lives and safety than other segments of the Syrian population.”...

Huge Banner in Tahrir Square: 'OBAMA SUPPORTS TERRORISM'

Raymond Ibrahim is quick on reporting the build up to the June 30 protests in Cairo. This will be the most significant stand yet against the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist tyranny under President Morsi.

‘Obama Supports Terrorism’ — Large Banner in Tahrir Square

Placed hours ago in Tahrir Square in preparation for the mass anti-Brotherhood protests planned beginning June 30 in Egypt, a large banner says in both English and Arabic, “Obama Supports Terrorism.”

It’s hard to dispute this unflattering charge, when one considers that all throughout the Islamic world, Obama offers his support for Islamists and jihadis — al-Qaeda “rebels” in Libya and Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the Brotherhood in Egypt — laughably, under the pretext of “democracy.”
Yet when secular Egyptians and Christians who do not want to live under Sharia law protest, the Obama administration tells them not to.

So much for what the people want…

Thus large numbers of Egyptians are intimately aware of what only a few Americans understand.

Related News:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What About the Violence in the Old Testament?

This essay, by Orthodox priest Fr. John Whiteford, tackles one of the perennial challenges posed by not only atheists, but all those who hold to the fallacy of religious universalism or equivalency. Those who hold this view consider Islam as functionally no different from Christianity or Judaism, and point to the violence in the Old Testament (specifically God's commands to Israel to wage war) to make their point.

Of course, there is a functional difference between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In the context of God's commands alone, Islam considers Allah's commands to wage jihad and subdue the whole world under the rule of Allah as a perpetual command. This is the mainstream view in Islam, and is taught in 80% of the mosques in the U.S.A., not merely in Islamic countries where Muslims openly oppress Christians and other non-Muslims.

What About the Violence in the Old Testament?
by Fr John Whiteford

Question: "What are we to make of passages of Scripture in the Old Testament in which God commanded  the Israelites to slaughter entire cities or tribes, including the women and children? How do we square such a vengeful God with the merciful God we find in the New Testament?"

This is a question that is often raised by atheists to attack the Christian Faith, but it is also raised by sincere laymen who are unsure of how we should understand these passages. To answer the question requires that we consider several issues, and not look at the question in a superficial way.

What is interesting is that people do not generally raise moral objections to the flood in the days of Noah, even though every man, woman, and child, except Noah's family, was drowned. Nor do they raise moral objections to the fact that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even though women and children were no doubt killed. And no one raises moral objections when the Scriptures talk about God sending other nations to destroy the Israelites, even though men, women, and children were killed as a result.

The problem we have with God telling the Israelites to kill women and children is that we live in a rationalistic age, and people are not so sure God really talked to people like Joshua. Also, we don't want folks to go around killing people because they claim God told them to do it. But if God could wipe out a city with fire and brimstone, there's no reason why He couldn't do it via the Israelites if that was indeed His choice. And so if He did indeed tell the Israelites to utterly destroy a city, He had the sovereign right to do so, and the people of Israel, who had seen so many miracles worked by God had every reason to believe that God was speaking to them through, Joshua, and later through their Judges. The Church has not taken this as a precedence, but has seen it as something of literal application only to that specific time and place. The applications we can make from these passages today would be primarily of an allegorical nature, from a patristic perspective.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s appeal regarding tragic events in Syria

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made an appeal with regard to tragic events in Syria.

Your Graces the archpastors, all-honourable fathers, dear brothers and sisters!

Syria has been suffering from ongoing hostilities for nearly two years. Tens of thousands of people have died, many of them were civilians – old people, women and children.

Our brothers in faith constitute a considerable part of the Syrian people: the centre of an oldest Orthodox Patriarchate, Patriarchate of Antioch, is located in the city of Damascus. At present human blood is being shed in the streets of this city which remembers St Paul and heroic deeds and labours of ancient saints. Orthodox Christians and Muslims used to live side by side in peace in this Biblical land where the shrines are being desecrated, churches are being profaned, and Christians are being driven out of their houses, persecuted and often tortured and killed.

Houses are ruined, infrastructure is destroyed, people lack for food and medicaments; and many are homeless. Some people have gone to their relatives, others have found shelter at special centres, still others had to flee to neighbouring countries with nobody to welcome them there.

Our people endured similar hardships not long ago. Thousands of our compatriots, many bishops, priests, monks and laypeople among them, were killed in the years of revolution, civil war and persecutions against the Church. We venerate the exploit of the Russian new martyrs and confessors, and we must not be indifferent when we see innocent blood being shed.

We cannot stop this war, but we can pray zealously for its soonest cessation and help the suffering people, including our Christian brothers.

Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place. Such was the man, who had suffered at the hands of robbers, for the Good Samaritan.

I ask you to respond to Christ’s appeal and help our neighbours, who are now in particular need of support and sympathy.

For this purpose, I give my blessing to organize a fund-raising on the next Sunday in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church to help the needy in Syria. Money should be transferred to accounts of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service which is charged to coordinate this good initiative. The money collected will be transferred to the Patriarchate of Antioch.

I am praying for the end of bloodshed and for peace in the land of Syria. I hope that our offerings will be pleasing to God.


Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

Source: Pravmir

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Christendom’s Greatest Cathedral to Become a Mosque

Hagia Sophia as it looked before the Muslim conquest in 1453
by Raymond Ibrahim

While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey — and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks — are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque.

Why does the fate of an old building matter?

Because Hagia Sophia — Greek for “Holy Wisdom” — was for some thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral. Built in 537 A.D. in Constantinople, the heart of the Christian empire, it was also a stalwart symbol of defiance against an ever encroaching Islam from the east.

After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts, Constantinople was finally sacked by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Its crosses desecrated and icons defaced, Hagia Sophia — as well as thousands of other churches — was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph.

Then, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as part of several reforms, secularist Ataturk transformed Hagia Sophia into a “neutral” museum in 1934 — a gesture of goodwill to a then-triumphant West from a then-crestfallen Turkey.

Thus the fate of this ancient building is full of portents. And according to Hurriyet Daily News, “A parliamentary commission is considering an application by citizens to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque…. A survey conducted with 401 people was attached to the application, in which more than 97 percent of interviewees requested the transformation of the ancient building into a mosque and afterwards for it to be reopened for Muslim worship.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Syrian Rebels Behead Christian, Feed Him to the Dogs

Can anyone suggest a more apt or horrific metaphor for the genocide against Christianity in the Middle East, which the United States is actively aiding and supporting? Just as Secretary of State John Kerry circumvented human rights requirements and Congressional oversight in delivering over $1 billion in military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt (which is increasingly persecuting the Coptic Christians there), so we can presume the Obama Administration will support the Islamists in Syria at the expense of the Christians being slaughtered village by village there.

Syria rebels 'beheaded a Christian and fed him to the dogs' as fears grow over Islamist atrocities
  • "The free and democratic world is supporting extremists... They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria."
  • 300,000 Christians have been displaced in the conflict, with 80,000 forced out of the Homs region alone.
by Nick Fagge - Daily Mail Online

Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.

The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.

She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.

Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix said: ‘His only crime was his brother criticised the rebels, accused them of acting like bandits, which is what they are.’

There have been a growing number of accounts of atrocities carried out by rogue elements of the Syrian Free Army, which opposes dictator Bashar al-Assad and is recognised by Britain and the West as the legitimate leadership.

Sister Agnes-Miriam, mother superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, has condemned Britain and the west for supporting the rebels despite growing evidence of human rights abuses. Murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery are becoming commonplace, she says.

‘The free and democratic world is supporting extremists,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam said from her sanctuary in Lebanon. ‘They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria.’

Georgia: Land of Exile for Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Regis Gente - Pravmir, via

Increasingly under pressure in Egypt, the Copts, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, are starting to migrate to Georgia, a bastion of Orthodox Christianity in the South Caucasus. But the transition is not entirely a smooth one.

In Egypt, violent clashes between Copts and Muslims have been on the rise since the 2011 ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, with many Christians reportedly preferring to leave than experience continuing harassment and discrimination. Earlier this month, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom announced that Egypt “is failing to meet international religious-freedom standards.”

Copts, who classify themselves as an Orthodox Christian denomination, say that Georgia’s strong Orthodox Christian heritage – Eastern Christianity took root here in the 4th century – motivated them to make the move. The country’s relative proximity (Tbilisi is roughly a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Cairo) and reputation for relatively lax business and visa regulations also played a role.

Around 2,500 Coptic Egyptians currently live in Georgia, according to the Ministry of Justice’s Public Service Development Agency, which manages residence data. Most arrived this year and live in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi; a few hundred have settled a few hours’ drive to the west in the parliamentary seat of Kutaisi.

The focal point for the Coptic community has become a Catholic church in downtown Tbilisi that allows the Copts to use its sanctuary. Each Wednesday morning, hundreds gather for a two-and-a-half-hour mass, rich with the smell of incense, the sound of cymbals and the haunting melody of songs in Coptic and Arabic.

“We came here because in Egypt there were a lot of commercials saying ‘Welcome [to] Georgia,’” explained Samir, a young father of two, who moved to Tbilisi from Alexandria four months ago. “As it is also an Orthodox country, we thought it was the right decision to move here.”

Many more Coptic Egyptians may opt for Georgia in the near future, predicted Father Johan, a priest from Egypt’s Saint Anthony Monastery who came to Georgia in May. Land has been purchased on the outskirts of Tbilisi for a Coptic Orthodox Church, he added.

But not everything has proven to be easy.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Muslim Persecution of Christians: March 2013

Raymond Ibrahim's monthly report; these become increasingly more harrowing each month.

Muslim Persecution of Christians: March, 2013
by Raymond Ibrahim

The Islamic jihad against Christians in Nigeria is proving to be the most barbaric.  A new report states that 70% of Christians killed around the world in 2012 were killed in the African nation.  Among some of the atrocities committed in March alone, at least 41 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a bus station in a predominantly Christian neighborhood.  According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, these attacks “were a signpost of the intended extermination of Christians and Christianity from northern Nigeria.”

According to the Rev. Jerome Ituah, “Out of the 52 Catholic churches in Maiduguri diocese, 50 of them have been destroyed by Boko Haram.   When two Christian brothers were returning home after Sunday church service, jihadis opened fire on them with machine guns, killing the brothers, as well as three others, and injuring several more Christians.

Another 13 Christian factory workers in Kano were “gruesomely” slain.  Said the local bishop: “Reports of the attack reaching us disclosed that on that fateful Saturday at about 7 p.m, Muslim faithful were conducting their prayer close to the affected compound occupied by Christian families, when two taxi cabs stopped in front of the compound and the occupants, who all concealed their arms dashed into the complex and demanded to know why the residents were not part of the 7 p.m. Muslim prayer. They responded by telling the visitors they were Christians and so could not be part of the Muslim gathering. At that point, they separated the men from their wives and children and shot them dead on the spot after ordering the women and children into their homes” to be enslaved.

The bishop added that, “government should show more concern, like it has always done when Muslims are affected; I have not seen that in the case of Christians—that 13 Christians were killed in one straight attack and nothing is heard from the government reflects selective justice because we are aware of compensation paid to Muslim families in situations of this nature.”

However, the Nigeria government recently did go on the offensive to try to contain the jihadis in northern Nigeria—only to be chastised by the Obama administration, in the person of John Kerry, who recently warned the Nigerian government not to violate the “human rights” of the jihadi mass murderers.

Categorized by theme, the rest of March’s Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:

Syria Militants Massacre Christian Village Population

And the Obama Administration, cheered on by Sen. John McCain and others, will soon have us supporting these same Syrian jihadists who are committing genocide and cleansing Syria (and eventually the entire Middle East) of all Christians. See my earlier posts on Syria here and here also.

Syria Militants Massacre Christian Village Population
via Syria Report (with many more images) 

More details of a massacre in Homs late last month have emerged following the global outcry of a massacre in Deir el-Zour yesterday.

The massacre, carried out by Free Syrian Army militants reportedly targeted men, women and children in the Christian village of al-Duwayr/Douar close to the city of Homs and the border with Lebanon. The incident received little media attention, having occurred at the same time as thousands of Syrian troops converged on the insurgent-occupied town of al-Qusayr.

According to sources, around 350 heavily armed militants entered the village, broke into homes and assembled residents in the main square of the village where they were executed. The final death toll is not known but photos show severe damage to property in the village.

Syrian army sources said that they reached the village after the massacre, resulting in clashes with militants. Sources also reported that Turkish and Chechen extremists were among the perpetrators. Chechen militants are known to have kidnapped two Christian bishops in Aleppo earlier this year. The following images show al-Duwayr/Douar village after the massacre:

Conditions for ethnic and religious minorities have been made increasingly worse as Free Syrian Army affiliated organisations including Jabhat al-Nusra increase ethnic and sectarian cleansing across Syria. Kidnappings, executions and assassinations are common.

Late last month, around the time of the massacre in Homs, a fifteen year old girl was kidnapped by militants in Damascus, who demanded $100,000 for her release. Miryam Jbeil, a niece Damascus-based Catholic priest Nader Jbeil, was released after a number of days in captivity.

In the aftermath of the Syrian army assault on al-Qusayr, the church was discovered to have been desecrated by Free Syrian Army militants...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Former Taliban Muslim Baptized at Mt Athos

Ahmed was born and raised in a village in Afghanistan in the middle of war. His childhood memories are dust, poverty, and compulsory Islamic education in the holy writings and war.

"I do not remember anymore who fought whom, however there was constant warfare."

For years he worked for the Taliban doing various things. He was a fanatical Muslim who belonged to so-called radical Islam. At some point he could no longer bear this sort of life - misery, poverty, violence, pain, and death which he saw everywhere.

At 23 he journeyed through the impassable mountains into Pakistan and then to Iran. His only "passport" was the common language of Farsi.

He worked for two years there "without documents" and eventually arrived at the coast of Asia Minor in Turkey, which for him was the gate to the paradise of the West.

One winter evening nine years ago, with an inflatable that children play with on the beaches, two oars and four to five bottles of water, he along with a friend jumped into the sea across from Lesvos, which seemed so close.

In his own words:

"The sea was pitch black, it was a moonless night in the winter and very windy. We did not know how to swim. The waves looked like mountains to us. Somewhere in the distance a red light was flashing. The boat was like a nutshell in the waves. I soon realized that the journey to paradise was neither near nor easy. After about ten hours we came to the steep coast with rocks. We were in despair because we did not know if we would be able to climb it, it was so sharp. Eventually we climbed and came to an unpaved road. Before long we came to an elderly woman in black with a head-covering - we thought she was a Muslim - and with a child. My friend spoke a little English, but she nothing. With hand signals she showed us the way to a paved road and gave us a few coins, which we knew was all she had, in order to take the bus into the city. We arrived at the port and took the first ferry to Piraeus. At the door they caught us. After three months in a small reception center for immigrants that had many people like us, they gave us a map and we drove to Athens. I learned Greek and worked various jobs until I found a regular job with a company that placed solar panels. They payed me well, they wrote me up with the Social Insurance Institute, and I did my papers to receive political asylum. I worked for the same company in Athens for six years. All these years after work I would go to the outside of the churches in the beginning - something was pulling me there - and afterwards I began to enter within. I would become calm. As my Greek was getting better, I wanted to know more about Christ. I found a New Testament, however it was in a language I did not understand [Koine Greek]. Eventually I found a blue one in the Greek I had learned. I began to read it. I decided that I wanted to become a Christian. I left Athens when the company closed and went to the provinces to find various rural jobs. Eventually I found a small basement apartment in the city nearby. It had a beach. I like the beaches very much in Greece. Shortly before Pascha in 2013, I decided to ask to become a Christian."

On Wednesday June 5th, in the evening, on Mid-Pentecost according to the Old Calendar, on the balcony of the Athonite Cell of Marouda over Karyes, looking towards the Skete of Saint Andrew and the endless blue Aegean, the same sea he crossed one night from the opposite direction, under a beautiful sky and brilliant sun, Ahmed became a Christian.

He took the name Alexander.

Source: (including more photos) Mystagogy

Christians face being driven from the Middle East

Orthodox priest Fr. Peter-Michael Preble is featured in this good overview:

Christians face being driven from the Middle East
by Simon Kent - Toronto Sun

This could be the greatest story never told.

The Arab Spring has turned to bitter mid-winter for Christians across the Middle East.
Members of orthodox faiths are being driven from their biblical heartlands by hard line Muslim governments with no toleration of religious diversity.

All behind the increasingly opaque veil of chaos and civil war as the rest of the world looks the other way.

The exodus comes just 24-months into the biggest political upheaval in a generation, according to Father Peter-Michael Preble, an Orthodox priest with the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas.

He says Christians are the single most persecuted minority in countries including Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria Iraq, Iran and the Lebanon.

The Southbridge, Mass. priest points to the recent kidnapping of two prominent Orthodox bishops by rebel Syrian fighters as evidence of the bind Christians find themselves in.

“Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yaziji were both taken after they were tried to negotiate the release of two other Orthodox priests being held for ransom,” Preble told the Toronto Sun.

“Sadly, they were also outspoken in highlighting the threat to religious tolerance from the conflict engulfing their country. “They were warning against a Christian holocaust.

“Look across the entire Middle East and you see flames and war with radical Islamists fighting either governments or each other with Christians in the crossfire.

“At the political level it is the Muslim Brotherhood making life very difficult for the faithful. Christians have made their lives in those countries for millennia yet now face the prospect of either being murdered or banished forever.”

Preble says the entire Judeo-Christian heritage that once underpinned the region is threatened with collapse.

A century ago, more than 20% of the region’s population was Christian and as recently as the 1980s, places like Lebanon had a Christian majority. Now, with Christian numbers fading, it’s split between brawling Shia Hezbollah and Sunni fanatics.

Estimates put the Christian population in the Middle East at under 5% and sinking rapidly — and the figure only remains that high because of the Coptic Christians who remain, for now, in strife-torn Egypt.

All are part of the largest and most widely spread faith in the world.

Christianity has an estimated 2.2 billion followers or 32% of the world population, according to a report by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Despite these numbers, Christianity faces restrictions and hostility in 111 countries around the world, ahead of the 90 countries limiting or harassing the second-largest faith, Islam, another Pew report reveals. Father Preble laments the plight of followers caught up in war-torn states has been little remarked in the west’s mainstream media.

“It seems to be very much out of sight, out of mind,” Preble said. “Followers have to tolerate a host of restrictions in many countries that include — but are not limited to — laws prohibiting conversion to Christianity under penalty of death, state destruction of churches even when they have been approved, torture of Christian dissidents and often socially sanctioned vigilante violence.

“The latter has been most widely seen in Egypt where Coptic Christians have been targeted by gangs eager to drive them from a land they have lived for almost 2,000 years.”

In an effort to raise public awareness of the plight of the faithful, Father Preble has written to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and asked him to work for the release of the captive priests.

So far he has heard no response but warns the fate of Christians in the Syrian city of Homs may be one that awaits all followers in the area.

“Opposition fighters have driven out 80,000 Christians from the Homs region alone and they know they can never return,” Preble said. “Their churches have been destroyed, businesses taken and their future denied. What if this pattern is repeated across all of Syria and the persecution of the Copts in Egypt goes on?

“These are the very places that gave birth to Christianity and sheltered Jesus when His family was on the run. Now they are a killing field for Christians.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Neo Martyr St Ephraim of Nea Makri

Updated March 10, 2014 with new icons of St Ephraim's Life and Martyrdom

St Ephraim was martyred by the Muslim Turks over six-hundred years ago, but like the newly-appeared Martyrs Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, his story was concealed by God's providence, only to be revealed in our days.

The lives of these newly-revealed Neo-Martyrs are a sign and call to us to persevere in Christian faith, godliness and holiness, and to be strengthened to defend our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ even unto death. They ought also to be a great encouragement to those who struggle and persevere in isolation and obscurity, for God preserves and rewards the righteous, and reveals them in His time.

Saint Ephraim the Newly-Revealed Wonderworker of Nea Makri
Whose Martyrdom Occurred On May 5th And Relics Were Discovered On January 3

The holy New Martyr and wonderworker Ephraim was born in Greece on September 14, 1384. His father died when the saint was young, and his pious mother was left to care for seven children by herself.

When Ephraim reached the age of fourteen, the all-good God directed his steps to a monastery on the mountain of Amoman near Nea Makri in Attica. The monastery was dedicated to the Annunciation and also to St Paraskeva. Here he took on his shoulders the Cross of Christ, which all His followers must bear (Matt. 16:24).

Being enflamed with love for God, St Ephraim eagerly placed himself under the monastic discipline. For nearly twenty-seven years he imitated the life of the great Fathers and ascetics of the desert. With divine zeal, he followed Christ and turned away from the attractions of this world. By the grace of God, he purified himself from soul-destroying passions and became an abode of the All-Holy Spirit. He was also found worthy to receive the grace of the priesthood, and served at the altar with great reverence and compunction.

On September 14, 1425, the barbarous Turks launched an invasion by sea, destroying the monastery and and looting the surrounding area. St Ephraim was one of the victims of their frenzied hatred. Many of the monks had been tortured and beheaded, but St Ephraim remained calm. This infuriated the Turks, so they imprisoned him in order to torture him and force him to deny Christ.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Holy New Martyr Zafeirios of Halkidiki

With the Revolution of Halkidiki in 1821 many families, men and women, fled the area and went to Mount Athos in order to escape the slaughter and capture by the Turks. There were cases where the Halkidonians, who refused to change their Orthodox Faith, accepted the wreath of martyrdom, and among them was the young Zafeirios. As a teenager he was the only one of the young children taken from Mount Athos and brought to Thessaloniki that remained faithful to Christ. His exact place of origin is unknown, but certainly he was from one of the villages of Halkidiki. His Service (here) was composed by Athanasios Simonopetritis in 2011 and he is commemorated on June 11th.

Codex 743 (6250) of the Russian Monastery of Saint Panteleimon notes the following:

"On the Most-Holy Mountain of Athos around 1821, 1822, 1823, when Revolution erupted in Greece, Pasha Abu Bout of Thessaloniki came and captured the Mountain and much suffering occurred. Thereupon he sent his own men to the Mountain, gathered the found children, 70 in number, and brought them to Thessaloniki to make them Turks. Only one stood firm in the faith and was martyred, named Zafeirios."

According to Monk Moses the Athonite, his memory, unknown in the Synaxaria, is honored with the Synaxis of the Athonite Fathers.

Source: Mystagogy

Monday, June 10, 2013

Report recommends changes for translator that altered Bible to appease Muslims

This is a very significant story, as it points to the danger of Christians being so concerned about not offending Muslims that they wind up teaching false theology:

Report recommends changes for translator that altered Bible to appease Muslims
h/t Creeping Sharia, original in World Magazine

After a year’s work, a World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) panel has released its report on the Muslim-context translation practices of Wycliffe Bible Translators and its partner SIL International. Wycliffe requested the audit of its policies after controversy erupted last year over the world’s premier translator supporting translations that altered the phrases “Son of God” and “God the Father” in Muslim contexts.
Western mission agencies have been concerned about literal translations of “God the Father” and “Son of God” in Muslim contexts because the terms imply God had sexual relations with Mary. One SIL-supported translation of Matthew in Turkey rendered “God the Father” something along the lines of “the great protector,” according to locals. (See “The battle for accurate Bible translation in Asia” from the Feb. 25, 2012 issue of WORLD Magazine.)

Both the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterian Church in America threatened to withdraw support from Wycliffe over the issue. Western mission agencies have also felt backlash from local believers in Muslim contexts who felt the agencies were changing the terms out of impatience over church growth. Frontiers, a missions agency that funds translation work, has also supported translations that alter the divine familial terms, but unlike Wycliffe it has not publicly submitted to an audit of its practices or policies. The WEA report may set the standard for Frontiers whether it officially adopts the recommendations or not.

The report never overtly rebukes Wycliffe/SIL, but it does draw clearer lines for the organizations’ translation practices. (Download a PDF of the report.)

Wycliffe’s earlier standards said translators should use a literal translation of the divine familial terms in a “majority” of cases, but left open the possibility of using an “alternative term with equivalent meaning” when the literal translation might “communicate wrong meaning.”

The new report is clearer. “The WEA Panel (hereafter referred to as ‘Panel’) recommends that when the words for ‘father’ and ‘son’ refer to God the Father and to the Son of God, these words always be translated with the most directly equivalent familial words within the given linguistic and cultural context of the recipients,” the report says.

The panel says where the familial words had a sexual implication, the translators should add qualifying adjectives to the familial word rather than change the word itself, using terms like “anointed Son of God” or “heavenly Father.” They also recommend that translators use “paratext” (footnotes or commentary) to explain the terms rather than alter the text itself.

[Let the Scriptures be translated accurately!  Qualifying adjectives like "anointed Son of God" are in danger of presenting a false Christology like that of Paul of Samosata or adoptionism, rejected by the early Church Fathers. - zosimas]

The report notes “the centrality of the word for “son” in the biblical presentation of salvation,” and says the centrality “demands that translators render the word with the most direct equivalent possible.”

The report also recommends standards for local involvement in translations and urged Wycliffe to set up a process for handling controversies over the familial terms. The panel says Wycliffe should be transparent about the translation decisions it makes.

Wycliffe had suspended the controversial translations while the review moved forward. A Wycliffe spokesman said that all the suspended translations (and all future translations) would meet these new standards prior to publication.

Critics of Wycliffe’s translation practices were cautious about embracing the report until they had studied it more fully.

Pakistan: hundreds accused of taking part in anti-Christian rampage released

Collective punishment of an entire Christian neighborhood, by an entire Muslim neighborhood, because one Christian man is accused of insulting Muhammad.

Pakistan: hundreds accused of taking part in anti-Christian rampage released

Three months after a mob of 3,000 Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, few of the perpetrators are in prison.

Hundreds of those detained immediately after the incident were released; of the 83 who were arrested, 31 have been released on bail.

“Most of the people who were stopped after the attack were declared innocent by the police and immediately released, for corruption or political pressure,” said Naeem Shakir, a Christian lawyer.

Meanwhile, the Christian whose arrest on blasphemy charges was the occasion for the rampage has gone on trial. Sawan Masih denies that he insulted Muhammad.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Russia Deals Properly with Jihad: 300 Muslims detained at prayer room following crackdown by Putin

I feel badly for the Putins regarding their unfortunate divorce, but President Vladimir Putin's handling of the danger of Islamic jihad is spot on.

300 Muslims detained at prayer room following crackdown by Putin
by Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

Russian authorities detained 300 Muslims, including 170 foreigners, on Friday after President Vladimir Putin ordered a crackdown on radical Islamists ahead of next year’s Winter Olympics, Fox News reported.

The Muslims were held at a prayer room in Moscow, and Islamist literature was confiscated, police said, according to Radio Free Europe.

It is the third time this year such a raid has been ordered, targeting Muslim places of worship, Reuters reported.

Mr. Putin told a meeting of security force officers on Friday that the “fight against corruption, crime and the insurgency has to be carried out harshly and consistently.”

He said “the situation in the North Caucasus should be kept under particular control,” Radio Free Europe reported.

The NEH 'Muslim Journeys' Project: Washington Openly Propagandizing for Islam in Local Libraries

This is nothing short of a cultural jihad on unsuspecting Americans, combining revisionist history with Islamic dawah (preaching/proselytizing) to aggressively promote the false religion of Muhammad through nearly 1000 libraries nationwide.

Stacking Library Shelves: How Washington is pushing Islamic propaganda into local communities. Where's the ACLU when we need it?
Marvin Olasky - World Magazine

Libraries in America, like schools, have a long tradition of local control. In 2009 Minnesota librarian Barbara Fisher told Library Journal readers how she chose books: “I know my community, and I know what their interests are.” Wisconsin librarian Abigail Goben wrote about choosing books based on reviews, patron requests, and librarian blogs: “We’re a chatty bunch and love recommending things to each other.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities has a different process. Earlier this year NEH, as part of a “Muslim Journeys” project, shipped to 953 local libraries and humanities groups 25 books chosen by five “national project scholars” known for their positive appraisals of Islam. We’ll go book-by-book through some of the choices, but four critics of Islam who reviewed for WORLD the 25-book collection all said it was one-sided. 

Alvin Schmidt, author of The Great Divide, said the selection “conveys the message that Islam is a peaceful religion,” which is “the biggest, unmitigated lie in circulation today.” Andrew Bostom, author of Sharia versus Freedom, said the books “whitewash” Islam and “amount to ‘dawa’—Islamic proselytization.” Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer said, “This is an egregiously propagandistic selection of books, designed not to give readers a balanced view of jihad, but solely a positive one.”

Read the full article at

This follow-up article shows this initiative, which involves our government actively promoting Islam by using the National Endowment for the Humanities, is partnering with other organizations to get the (Islamic) word out:
Muslim Journeys: Let's talk about it... again - American Library Association (ALA) offers grant funding to expand penetration of NEH 'Muslim Journeys' propaganda initiative. 
World magazine, however, has run a series of articles discussing the NEH push, and offering titles on Islam which portray a more accurate picture. I own or am familiar with many of the books referenced in the following three articles, and encourage you to expand your library based on these trustworthy recommendations:
Good Reading on Islam - Some suggested titles to counter the NEH propaganda list, recommended by Dr Daniel Pipes.
More Good Reading on Islam - This list comes from Professor Alvin Schmidt, author of The Great Divide: The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West (Regina Orthodox Press), and The American Muhammad: Joseph Smith, Founder of Mormonism (Concordia Press).
More Books to Read on Islam - Marvin Olasky, World magazine correspondent and author of this entire series on books about Islam, and himself a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Texas, gives his own suggested reading list, with comments. Again, many of these are quite familiar to me, and in my personal library.

Syria: "We have a persecution equivalent to the massacre of Diocletian"

And as Dr. Mark Durie relates, this is due to the jihadists zealously applying the terms of the dhimma, as done by Muhammad, and by the caliph Umar when he conquered Syria in the 7th century.

The Persecution of Christians in Syria
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

We are following whatever comes to light from the war occurring in Syria. Whatever is going on there is presented as a civil war, but in actuality other external powers are involved, that want to have influence in the region. On one side is Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and on the other side is Russia, Iran and China. Clearly we have here a geopolitical crisis, because Syria is in a critical area where many nations have interests.

However, that which escapes the attention of many is that in Syria there is a massacre of the Christian population. Recently there came to light the disclosure of the fact of the abduction of the Orthodox Metropolitan Paul and the Syro-Jacobite Metropolitan John-Ibrahim. It is a sad fact that shows the savage face of war in the region and its consequences. Yet, the problems are even worse for Christians.

Stathis Efstathiades ("To Vima tis Kyriakis" 05/19/2013) gives us important information and I will quote it below:

From a bulletin of the Commission of the EU on April 16 we are informed that the number of Christians that have been killed, murdered or are missing "it is believed to have surpassed 1,220". A Syro-Orthodox Clergyman of Amman (Monophysite) told the Arabic CNN that "we have a persecution equivalent to the massacre of Diocletian". He continued: "Those who did not manage to leave will have the fate of our fellow Orthodox in Iraq".

And because there is mention of the Christians in Iraq, we should record the statements of Nina Sia who is the spokeswoman for the American Commission on Human Rights, according to whom that during the two-year period of 2012-2013 in Iraq "a total 2,310 Iraqis, members of religious minorities of which Christians are the majority, were murdered, strangled and disappeared". Also, on Christmas in 2012 "there was not one church to liturgize", since they had been burned and destroyed, while most of the Clergy fled Iraq or went into hiding "because they are and remain the main target of Islamists". And these things are happening in Iraq after May of 2005, when the war "officially" ended. It seems that "there has begun an organized, systematic persecution of Iraqi Christians".

This year, which is 1700 years since the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.), which established freedom of religion in the Roman Empire, there are occurring terrible persecutions against Christians (Orthodox, Monophysite), who are being decapitated and killed, religious freedoms are being overturned and violence and inhumanity have returned.

Whatever is happening in Syria, in Iraq and in the eastern Nations, unfortunately is being done with the assistance, tolerance and participation of western Christian Nations, because above all there are economic factors.

And what are we Orthodox Christians to do? How do we react? Are we moved by the plight of our brethren? Does their drama concern us? Are we praying for them? Pained?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In Eritrea, ‘Persecution greater than ever and getting worse’

Patriarch Abune Antonios,
Detained since 2007

Religious persecution in Eritrea is at its “highest level ever and getting worse”, an Eritrean Christian leader, who cannot be named for security reasons, has told the Christian charity Open Doors International.

Thirty-seven Christian students from the College of Arts and Social Sciences in the town of Adi Kihe, and five men from the Church of the Living God in Asmara, were arrested last week, taking the total number of Christians known to have been arrested this year to 191.

Open Doors, a ministry to Christians who live under pressure because of their faith, estimates around 1,200 Christians are now incarcerated in Eritrea. However, some estimates claim the figure to be as high as 3,000.

Churches in Eritrea have been monitored closely since May 2002, when the government closed all Protestant and Pentecostal churches which did not apply for registration with the department of Religious affairs.

Eleven years later, there is evidence of widespread human rights abuses by the Eritrean government, according to human rights organisation, Amnesty International.

“Twenty years on from the euphoric celebrations of independence, Eritrea is one of the most repressive, secretive and inaccessible countries in the world,” Amnesty International’s Eritrea Researcher, Claire Beston, told the BBC.

In its latest report this month, Amnesty International reported evidence of “arbitrary arrest and detention without trial on a vast scale to crush all actual and suspected opposition, to silence government critics and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the restrictions on human rights imposed by the government”.

The government of Eritrea rejected the report as “wild accusations” and “totally unsubstantiated”.
However, Selam Kidane, an Eritrean expatriate and Director of Release Eritrea, a UK-based human rights organisation, told World Watch Monitor there had been an “intensification” of religious persecution since January.

“We can’t pin it down to anything that has happened, or triggered it, but there have been lots of arrests,” she said.

Kidane said the Eritrean government is following the leaders of illegal underground churches to gather information and make arrests.

And while religious persecution in Eritrea is not limited to Christians, Kidane said the underground Christian church has suffered most.

“Any religion that’s not willing to come under the control of the government is being persecuted,” she said. “It’s not just confined to Christians. But in terms of being completely banned, it’s the minority churches that have suffered the most – the Pentecostal Church, the Evangelical Church – they are ones that have been stigmatised and been accused of all sorts of things by their communities and by other faith groups.”

Almost half the population of Eritrea is Christian. Nearly nine out of 10 Christians belong to the Orthodox Church, while almost all the rest are Catholic or Protestant.

Eritrea is ranked 10th on the World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which Christians are most under pressure for their faith.

“When Christians [in Eritrea] are discovered, they are arrested and held in shipping containers in military camps. At least 105 Christians were arrested in 2012, and 31 Christians were reported to have died in prison,” the World Watch List reports.