October 20, 2007
This article was originally posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006. Sharp-eyed readers will note that Kareem was arrested soon after that date. This article is taken from Faith Freedom International. Special thanks to them and everyone who helped. Please keep them, Kareem, and others like Kareem in your prayers this month (and every month!).
On February 22, 2007, Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by his Internet pseudonym Kareem Amer, was sentenced to four years in prison for criticizing Islam and Egyptian President, Hosny Mubarak, on his personal blog .
The article below is a translation of an entry he published after Ramadan in 2006. It was translated by Baal and other Faith Freedom International volunteers.
Permission is granted to reproduce this translation on any Web site, organization, blog, human rights group, etc., provided an explicit reference to this Web page is provided.
For the first time since I was five, I found sufficient courage in myself to refuse fasting Ramadan this year. This is despite all the difficulties, obstacles, and challenges that accompanied me during the implementation of this decision. It restored in me a portion of my free will, which was stripped from me when I used to find myself compelled to perform practices and acts with insufficient conviction, only for the sake of courtesy to those who are around me if nothing else.
I emerged from this successful experience with new perspectives about the show-off society that we live in, in which the individual is fated to display a measure of hypocrisy to the society so he can get the approval of those around him, even if what is inside him were completely different [from his outward display].
Several years ago, a member of the Egyptian Parliament came forward with a bill that criminalizes those who publicly eat in the Ramadan daytime: A law which sends a clear message to the non-fasting to be hypocrites of the society by convincing those around them that they are fasting just like they are. This is in spite of the fact that the rite of fasting is supposed to be a private matter between the person fasting and his deity. However, what happened during the Islamization of our societies caused fasting to turn from a personal act of worship of the believers who wish to perform it to a habit that must be outwardly displayed so as to not affect the feelings of those fasting; as though the non-fasting should refrain from food and drinks in front of the fasting people in order to help them delay their desire for food and drinks until Iftar*!
Although this bill never saw daylight, this law is already applied in one way or another in the Egyptian street, as a way of life. We find the cafe’ and restaurants closing their doors until the hours of Iftar. Additionally, fast foods, juices, and drinks are not allowed to be sold during the daytime under the argument that everybody is supposed to be fasting, and that the person not fasting should veil away far from the sights of the people, on the grounds that he is plagued with this matter and he has to hide while breaking the fast!
The Month of Fasting [Ramadan] has turned into a public auction of hypocrisy. Everybody vies to prove that they are more hypocritical than others in various ways. It is very natural to find many who cannot tolerate fasting and so they eat, or you find them not performing the fast because they are not convinced of it, or because they do not essentially believe in it, or because they are not Muslims to fast in the first place. Nevertheless, the people’s stares at them force them to pretend to fast in order to avoid the looks of inferiority that the society directs to whoever abandons his customs and goes against the great majority of people’s consensus.
If it happened to be that someone was to publicly not fast in the Ramadan daytime, then do not enquire about all the insults he receives, either directly or by finding people’s eyes following him with fiery and intrusive stares. These looks make the non-faster imagine they are intruding him inside, and they wish to transform into sharp daggers that stab him until he makes his last breath.
When I was a child in elementary school, my classmates used to mock-celebrate their nonâ€‘fasting classmates in the Ramadan daytime with a song with the following lyrics:
Ya faater Ramadan,
ya khaaser deenak!
[O non-fasting in Ramadan,
O loser of your faith!
(May) the knife of the butcher,
Cut your innards!]
This is how we were educated, as children on this harsh-worded song that wishes to have the intestines of the non-fasting person during Ramadan cut off. This displays an integral part of the looks that we fast-breakers receive during the Ramadan daytime from the society and people around us.
Last Friday, I was in Cairo with a friend. A short time before Iftar, we felt hungry so we decided to have lunch in the first place we find in our way. It seems that bad luck placed us in front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken branch in the middle of the city. We purchased what we wanted and headed off to the eating hall. It had not occurred to me that the time of Iftar had not come yet. I was surprised to find the restaurant completely filled with families who appeared to be waiting for the Iftar cannon so they can eat. My friend and I sat in the midst of the crowd and started eating. All what happened then was that our table turned into a theatre, with everybody staring at us as if we had come from another planet. Consequently, our eating turned into unbearable pain from all the stares haunting us from those around us.
On the night of Eid ul-Fitr**, I sent several letters to my friends telling them, “Kullu ‘aamin wa antum bikhair.” [“May you be well every year.”] I was talking to a non-Muslim friend of mine, and I started congratulating her as well. She interjected, saying that she is not a Muslim, but I explained to her my position by saying that I am congratulating her for the end of the Month of Hypocrisy, and not for any other occasion.
To every human who had to display to people a face different from his true face during this month…
To every person who suffered from the stares of people, and their satirical and offensive remarks, for not matching them in hypocrisy…
To every human being who respected himself and apostatized from Islam…
“May you be well every year.”
* Iftar: The evening meal breaking the Muslim fast. It occurs immediately after sunset.
** Eid ul-: An Islamic holiday celebrated at the end of Ramadan.
October 9, 2007
I don’t quite get what’s going on in these, but if it’s anti-Islamic, I’m there!
PS=Note that I did say anti-ISLAMIC and not anti-MOSLEM. Get it right!
October 9, 2007
30 Churches will march around hospital after hospital CEO Louis Bremer resigns
LEESBURG, Fla., Sept. 14 /Christian Newswire/ — Hospital Chaplain Danny Harvey, recently fired for praying “in Jesus name” by the Leesburg Regional Medical Center, will hold two press conferences, Friday at 2 pm, and Saturday at 8:30 am, on the public steps of City Hall (corner of 5th and Main) in Leesburg Florida.
Clergy and citizens from over 30 churches will gather at 8:15 am, to march around the hospital at 9:00am, on Saturday 15 Sep, starting from the steps of Leesburg City Hall. The marchers will walk in silent prayer for two-miles around the South Campus of the hospital, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the rallying cry, “My Jesus, My Freedom, My Stand.”
Public outcry in support of Chaplain Harvey has already resulted in the sudden resignation of hospital CEO Louis Bremer, the same man who publicly supported Human Resource director Darlene Stone who fired Chaplain Harvey for praying in Jesus name.
Hospital Board Chairman Bill Binneveld (available for public comment at 352-323-5001 through secretary Angela Lackey) personally received CEO Louis Bremer’s resignation, but remains undecided about Chaplain Harvey’s current request to be reinstated.
Hospital Spokeswoman Diane Maimone wrote, “the issue was not about praying in the name of Jesus Christ, as has been claimed.” But documents newly available at http://www.prayinjesusname.org prove that Chaplain Harvey was directly threatened by hospital administrators with termination if he continued to pray in Jesus name in public.
March organizer Pastor John Kimer said, “This march was inspired by Chaplain Danny Harvey, but this march is not protesting the hospital, or demanding his job back, but for the churches to unite in the community, and stand up for the name of Jesus Christ.”
Former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who made national headlines after facing court- martial for praying in Jesus name in uniform, will join the march. “We want Chaplain Harvey reinstated,” Kingenschmitt said, “The fact CEO Louis Bremer resigned in the face of public scandal should serve as a warning to employers everywhere, that the American public will not tolerate religious discrimination against chaplains or any employees who pray in Jesus name, or share their faith in public.”
October 9, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 10 /Christian Newswire/ — The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization criticized last week’s decision by the 9th Circuit Court to remove a cross from a World War I veterans memorial in California’s Mojave Desert as the beginning of the “slippery slope of extreme secularism.”
“This is one more prime example of wrong-headed political correctness and one more critical reason why the current Congress must pass the Public Expression of Religion Act,” said American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser. “This is not about freedom of religion. The First Amendment also says Congress shall pass no law ‘prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion. The cross is an important symbol to millions of veterans, some of whom had to make the ultimate sacrifice for this nation.”
Referring to the federal Court’s September 6 decision, Conatser said that across the nation litigation is being brought by the ACLU and other groups attacking the Boy Scouts, the public display of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of America’s religious history. “Today’s lawyers and judges are outlawing the values and religious symbols that the Founding Fathers revered and proclaimed as the very foundation of the American republic,” he said. “Today it’s a memorial. Tomorrow, these same judges can order the removal of crosses on veterans gravestones, the dismissal of military chaplains and the closure of base chapels.”
Conatser pointed out that a loophole in the current law allows the ACLU and other groups to collect millions of dollars in attorney’s fees from the taxpayers, who, by and large, support the memorials.
Congress, in 2004, passed legislation that transferred one acre of the Mojave Desert Memorial on which the cross sits to private ownership, in exchange for five acres of land and thereby effectively removing it from federal jurisdiction. But the circuit court decreed that the federal government couldn’t exchange federal lands for private lands in order to maintain the cross that has been the center of the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial for three quarters of a century.
The American Legion is spearheading a nationwide effort to develop a grassroots groundswell of support to pass legislation in Congress that would amend federal law to prevent the use of the legal system in a manner that extorts money from state and local governments.
“Passage of ‘The Veterans Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2007′ (PERA) would prevent the ACLU from mugging America’s taxpayers in this manner,” Conatser said. “I hope all Americans who are angry about this, write their senators and representatives and demand that they pass PERA. The bills, H.R. 725 and S. 415 are languishing in the Judiciary Committees of both chambers. It’s time for Congress to make this public law, before other veterans’ memorials are literally desecrated at the whim of judges.”
The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. The Legion’s 2.7 million wartime veterans work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
October 9, 2007
Released August 24
HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 31 /Christian Newswire/ — September Dawn fires controversy not only between Christians and Mormons, but within the media. Catch phrases from media reviews such as “anti-Mormon,” “ham-fisted tale,” and “a distortion of history” have only fueled the flames.
The movie’s controversial screenplay, co-written by Carole Whang Schutter and Christopher Cain, is based on the true life story of a wagon train of Utah settlers who venture into Mormon territory and stop there at the wrong time. On September 11, 1857, in Mountain Meadows, more than 120 innocent men, women, and children were slaughtered because they were not Mormons.
According to Wayne Atilio Capurro, the great-great grandson of Philip Klingensmith, the Mormon Bishop of Cedar City, Utah, in 1857, his ancestor, portrayed by Jon Voight in the film, was a participant in the Mountain Meadows Massacre and one of three men assigned to deliver personally to Brigham Young the valuables taken from the murdered immigrants.
The controversy regarding Mountain Meadows Massacre began in 1857 and continues today following the airing of September Dawn:
“September Dawn presents a ham-fisted cautionary tale of religious fanaticism that would have been hooted out of even 19th-century theaters as melodrama of the most lurid kind…” –Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun
“The early reviews are in on September Dawn, the long-gestating drama set against the Mountain Meadows Massacre–and it’s a critical slaughter.” — Sean P. Means, movie critic, The Salt Lake Tribune
“The leadership of the LDS religion has a 150-year history of blaming the Indians, blaming the victims and scapegoating their members while denying all responsibility for a crime that disgraced humanity. They continue to do so in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” –Wayne Atilio Capurro, ancestor of Mormon Bishop and author of White Flag
Carole Whang Schutter, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, began her writing career at age 54. She is a motivational speaker and has appeared on TV and radio shows. Her enduring interest in religion and passion for history led her to write September Dawn, her first screenplay, in collaboration with Director/Producer Christopher Cain.
October 9, 2007
HYDERABAD, India, August 26 /Christian Newswire/ — “India is no longer safe from terrorist attacks,” declared Gospel for Asia founder and President K.P. Yohannan in the wake of two deadly bomb blasts in one of the nation’s largest cities over the weekend.
“The frequency of terrorist attacks and the presence of terrorists is increasing in India, a nation historically known for peace and harmony between all religions.”
Dr. Yohannan made the comments following news of two deadly bomb blasts, minutes apart, in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. One explosion was at an open-air amusement park, while the other devastated a popular restaurant. At least 40 people were killed and nearly 100 were injured.
Investigators have stated in their preliminary assessment that terrorist groups based out of Bangladesh and Pakistan are suspected, but so far no one has claimed responsibility. Hyderabad has a large Muslim population and heritage dating back approximately 400 years. In May, at least 14 people were killed in an explosion outside the city’s Mecca Masjid, one of India’s most famous mosques.
Police discovered 16 other unexploded devices in Hyderabad, including one in a movie theater, which has prompted the closing of theaters throughout the city.
“The entire city is paralyzed, and all the roads are blocked,” Dr. Yohannan reported. A number of Christian ministries are based in Hyderabad. One of GFA’s main Bible colleges is located nearby, as well as its regional administrative headquarters.
While Dr. Yohannan admits that this tragedy makes it more complicated for GFA missionaries and pastors to do their work in the area, it is also an opportunity to share the love of Christ with those affected.
“We have to look at this from God’s perspective,” he explained. “We all belong to God-India belongs to God. The enemy of mankind is seeking to destroy people’s lives; we must be agents of peace and Christ’s compassion.”
He and other GFA leaders are asking the Body of Christ around the world to pray for this situation.
“Pray for the Muslim community in India, a significant percentage of our population, that they will experience God’s mercy and love. Pray that extremist groups like the Taliban will not have an influence in India.
“Pray also that we as the Body of Christ will be His true representatives during this time. We want to be peacemakers and help in whatever way we can.”
Gospel for Asia is a mission organization involved in evangelism and church planting in Asia’s unreached regions. Currently Gospel for Asia supports more than 16,500 native missionaries in 10 countries. On average, these missionaries establish approximately 10 fellowships every day among unreached villages and people groups. Gospel for Asia is also committed to training native missionaries in its 54 Bible colleges.
October 9, 2007
Massive Arrests Occurr in Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Xinjiang, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, and Anhui
MIDLAND, Texas, Aug. 24 /Christian Newswire/ — China Aid learned that Chinese central government has launched a nationwide targeted campaign to clamp down the so-called “illegal religious activities” since mid-July 2007. Reports indicate massive arrests have occurred in at least 8 provinces including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi and Anhui. Some are still being detained for receiving bibles while some were persecuted by having their water and electricity cut off by the government because of hosting Sunday schools at home.
Photo: the criminal detention notice to Xinjiang Christian businessman Zhou Heng for receiving 2 tons of Bibles
According to a report posted at the official website on July 6 by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), Mr. LIU Jiaguo, deputy Minister of MPS, urged all local officials to start a one month campaign to “severely crack down illegal religion and evil religious activities” in order to eliminate the political unstable elements in the countryside. (The Chinese text of his speech can be viewed in both the official news report and MPS website)
According to CAA investigators reports:
Seven house church leaders have been detained since August 21 from a house church meeting in Inner Mongolia. Four pastors from Liaoning province including pastor QIN Tao(29 year-old), WANG Cong (34 year-old), WANG Shengjun(34 year-old), WANG Youjun(47 year-old) along with three Christian women leaders from Inner Mongolia were taken away from their worship location at Leizhiwa village, Kouhe town, Kulun Qi, Inner Mongolia. They are detained at the PSB office of Kulun Qi now.
One church leader was detained with two others and all three were wounded during a raid of a house church at Jianhu city, Jiangsu province on August 19 while the believers were having their Sunday worship service. That same church was attacked on July 11 when they hosted a summer VBS for 150 children.
Three church leaders from Henan, Anhui and Shanxi were detained for five days when they took some Sunday school literature from a house church at Zaolin village, Guanjin town, Xincai county, Henan province on August 17.
Three church leaders were detained from 5 to 10 days as administrative punishment on August 9 while they were having a worship meeting at Qinghe town, Yutai town, Shandong province. The names of the detained are pastor DU Dafeng, CHENG Zhenan and Ms. Yue Ying.
A well-known Christian businessman Mr. ZHOU Heng has been under criminal detention since August 3. He was arrested when he tried to pick up 2 tons of Bibles at a bus station sent by someone from another province to distribute to local believers. A number of local house church leaders and believers had been questioned since then. According to his detention paper sent to Mr. ZHOU’s wife CHEN Jihong, brother Zhou Heng was put “on criminal detention on suspicion of illegal business operation at 21:00 on August 3, 2007.” He could face up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted. Currently, ZHOU Heng is being detained at Xishan Detention Center by Urumqi Municipal Public Security Bureau, Xinjiang. The Chinese government only allows the official sanctioned churches to print and distribute limited number of bibles.
On July 14, 2007, Sister Kong Lingrong and several young Christians between the ages of 10 to 15 were reading the Bible and praying in the house when Li Zhizhong, head of Company 4, Regiment 31, 2nd Agricultural Division of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps of the Communist Party of China, Wang Cairong, deputy director of the company, Zhang Chunlan, the political director, and Jiang Wei, member of the security staff of the company, came in and said this was an illegal gathering and that children are not allowed to believe in Jesus. Sister Kong Lingrong told them that she was only reading some Bible passages to them and telling them how to be a true human being. Sister Kong also showed them a copy of “United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights.” They asked: “Where did you get these things?” They questioned the students and asked them which grades they are in and who are their class instructors. After that, the persecution against sister KONG intensified. Sister KONG was told she conducted illegal gatherings at her home. They also ordered her to write a statement of self-criticism and self- examination on this matter. On July 20, Wu Zhilu, deputy political commissar of the company, four policemen from the local police station, six leaders and over 20 people from the TV station, water station, and five to six other work units, stopped electricity and water services to Sister Kong Lingrong’s house. It was reported in that night’s news program on the company’s TV channel.
Ruan Boping: Regiment leader of Regiment 31, 2nd Agricultural Division, Xinjiang Construction Corps. Office Tel: +86-996-435-0666
Political Commissar of Regiment 31, 2nd Agricultural Division, Xinjiang Construction Corps. Office Tel: +86- 996-435-0046
Comprehensive Management Office of Regiment 31, 2nd Agricultural Division, Xinjiang Construction Corps. Office Tel: +86-996-435-0015 Phone number of Sister Kong Lingrong’s residence +86-996-435-3020
Public Security Bureau
“The Chinese church believers are faithful peace- makers in building a stable moral society in China,” said Rev. Bob Fu, President of CAA. “We call upon the Chinese government to correct this grave misunderstanding by allowing these faithful to contribute more social service without fear of arrest and retribution.”