Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poverty in the Arab World

The Arab media have been flooded with reports on poverty rates throughout the Arab world, and despite various discrepancies, the consensus is that poverty and unemployment in these nations are threatening their future growth.

A report published by the Arab League and the United Nations Development Program (UNPD) Sunday said that 140 million people were living under the poverty line throughout the Arab world.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, however, recently told a League convention that 65 million people were living under the poverty line throughout the Arab world, and while the discrepancy is large, it may stem from various definitions of the "poverty line." MORE HERE

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Situation of the Christians in the Arab World

The ongoing Christian flight from the Middle East was high on the agenda of the Vatican's secretary for the relations with states, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, when I met with him recently in Rome.
The lengthy exodus of ancient Christian congregations from the greater Middle East's last redoubts of religious pluralism is accelerating. Terrorism, conflict, and the rise of intolerant Islamism are to blame, Vatican officials explain. There is a real fear that the light of Christian communities that was enkindled personally by the apostles of Jesus Christ could be extinguished in this vast region that includes the Holy Land.
This trend could be reversed or at least halted, but probably not without Western help. Thus far, the rapid erosion of Middle Eastern Christianity has drawn little notice from the outside world. MORE HERE

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - Thousands of pilgrims and dignitaries crowded into Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity for a Christmas Mass, where Latin Patriarch Fuad al-Tuwal urged visitors to return home bearing a message of peace for the Holy Land.

Entertaining crowds outside, bagpipers played carols and whirling dervishes danced, unfurling giant white skirts embroidered with the word peace in various languages.

Some 15,000 visitors packed into the stone flagged square opposite the small Door of Humility where pilgrims stoop to enter the multi-denominational church, built above the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born. MORE HERE

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Syrian Orthodox Church in Mosul attacked

Last week we requested prayer after bomb attacks outside two churches in Mosul on 15th December. We regret to report that there was a further attack yesterday (Wednesday 23rd December) at another church in Mosul.

A Syrian Orthodox Church appears to have been deliberately targeted. Two Muslims were killed outside this church building. One report indicates a neighbouring Chaldean Church may also have been damaged in the bombing.

Recall that Security forces had voiced concern in recent days that Christmas gatherings and Shiite Ashura holiday observances would potentially draw attacks. In addition to the attack against the church in Mosul, reports indicate six Shiite pilgrims preparing for Ashura were killed by bombs exploding at different times on Wednesday in three Baghdad neighbourhoods. 43 People are reported to have been wounded in these attacks.

Some churches had curtailed their programme of events. After yesterday's attack, all services at Catholic churches have been cancelled in Mosul and Kirkuk.

These attacks are occurring within a context of an increased number of bomb attacks, which many regard as part of a campaign to destabilise the country in the run up to parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year.
(c) Middle East Concern

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Morocco thinks of Algeria. And of Egypt

Finally! The Algerian people have had a chance to witness the true feelings of millions of Moroccans harbor toward their neighbors to the east.  Moroccans’ celebrations of the historic win of the Algerian soccer team against Egypt were heartwarming. The spontaneous explosions of joy by thousands of Moroccans celebrating a well deserving Algerian team were unprecedented considering the tense relations between Rabat and Algiers over the Western Sahara conflict. Moroccans, holding Algerian flags, streamed into the streets of several Moroccan cities including Casablanca, Rabat, and the border town of Oujda rejoicing along with the Algerian public across the “closed” borders.
In the last thirty years, the Algerian people were subjected to several rigorous anti-Morocco campaigns conducted by the Algerian Military establishment. To reinforce their grip on power, some in the Algerian  demonized Morocco, making it a favorite punching.  Events such as the Sands war, the Moroccan Green March, the mass expulsion of thousands of Moroccans by the Algerian government, and Morocco’s impulsive and one sided closure of Morocco-Algeria borders in 1994 led to a progressive worsening the relations between the two peoples and re-enforced the “evil” image of“suspicious” Morocco in the eyes of millions of Algerians. MORE HERE

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pew Forum: US 'allies' Egypt and Saudi Arabia very poor on religious freedom

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among 10 mostly Muslim nations whose governments impose the most curbs on religion, according to a report on Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Afghanistan's government also ranked poorly, highlighting a potentially sensitive diplomatic flashpoint as President Barack Obama sends more U.S. troops to the Central Asian country to quell a growing insurgency.
The Pew report says nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people who live in countries that have severe restrictions on religion.
The report ranked countries by two measures: government restrictions on religion and restrictions from violence or intimidation by private individuals or groups. Saudi Arabia was the only country to rank "very high" in both measures. MORE

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Iraqi Christians have requested our prayers

In Mosul there were three bomb attacks outside churches. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on 15 December small bomb damaged the wall of a Syriac Catholic Church. Four people were killed, possibly bystanders, when a second bomb exploded 10 minutes later and grenades were thrown at a nearby Christian school. That afternoon a larger bomb at a Syriac Orthodox Church caused significant damage, injuring a number of people.

These attacks followed the bombing on 26th November of two other church properties in Mosul. There were no casualties, though a Chaldean Catholic Church was virtually destroyed. Church leaders in Mosul described these attacks as the latest in a campaign to force Christians to leave.

Church leaders in Baghdad have been warned by the authorities that further bomb attacks might target church buildings, especially during the Christmas period.

These attacks have occurred within a context of an increased number of bomb attacks, which many regard as part of a campaign to destabilise the country in the run up to parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. Recent large-scale bomb attacks in Baghdad have targeted government buildings. However, some church properties located nearby have been damaged, including the Anglican Church and the offices of the Chaldean Patriarch. In the latter case nobody was injured, despite the building being badly damaged, because all staff were attending mass at the time.

Iraqi Christians request our prayers that:
a.  All Christians in Iraq will know the Father's peace and protection as they attend worship services over the Christmas period
b.  Church leaders will know the Spirit's wisdom and guidance in all aspects of planning services and providing pastoral support to their congregations
c.  The bereaved will know the peace and comfort of Jesus
d.  The wounded and traumatised will know the healing touch of Jesus, both physically and psychologically
e.  The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and seek the Father's forgiveness through the Son's death for them
f.  The authorities will provide adequate protection, and actively promote religious and other forms of tolerance.
Source: www.meconcern.org

Is it the Virgin? is it a pigeon?

Hundreds, if not thousands, have been lining up for hours every night at the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in a Cairo neighborhood just off the Nile. Many of them claim that a mysterious light hovering above the church's domes is an apparition of the Virgin Mary who will bring Christian Copts prosperity and relief in a time of national and religious struggle.
The crowds began appearing Thursday evening when a number of residents spotted a flickering light. No one was sure where the illumination was coming from, and word quickly spread that the light took the shape of the Virgin Mary wearing a blue gown and standing in the sky between the church's two high crosses. MORE

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who is this Majed el Shafie from Egypt?

We are curious whether of our brothers in Egypt, anyone knows more of this gentleman who calls himself 'Rev Majed al-Shafie'?  This is what we see on his website:
Born in Cairo , Egypt into a prominent Moslem family of Lawyers and Following in the footsteps of his father and uncles, he too chose to become a lawyer.
Through the witness of his best friend, Tamir, he experienced the love of Christ and made the decision to give his life and service to the LORD.
He began the mission to bring the Christian community all the same legal rights as the Moslem community in Egypt . He began a ministry which in just 2 years grew to 24,000 Christians. The Egyptian Government did not tolerate this and Majed wound up in the torture section of the Abu Zaabel prison in Cairo. MORE HERE

Ongoing war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen

At least 70 people were killed in a Saudi air raid on a Yemeni village near the border with Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Yemen's Huthi rebels alleged, declaring the attack a "massacre."
A spokesman for Yemen's army, Askar Zuail, confirmed air raids in the region but said they were carried out by Yemeni planes and targeted rebel positions and not civilians.
An Internet rebel statement said the attack was carried out Sunday morning against the village of Bani Maan in Razeh region of northern Sadaa province, the mountainous stronghold of the rebels. MORE

the Arabic Greek Oriental Orthodox Church in Prayer

Watch HERE a video of Christians in the Holy Land in the Greek Oriental Orthhodox Church in Akko. Every year they celebrate the festival of Saint George;  they pray that they will share in his love for the Christian community in the Holy Land. 
Lets all pray together for peace and harmony between all human being and let God to be our guidance because with his love and mercy we can never make mistakes.  God is love and only true love can come from him and last forever.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hypocrisy: Saudi Arabia, the country that won't allow churches or synagogues, calls for boycott of Switzerland over minaret ban

From www.jihadwatch.org:

That is, it is hypocrisy from a Western point of view. As far as the Saudis are concerned, Islam is the truth, its truth is self-evident, and therefore the Swiss are obligated to accommodate it in a way that the Saudis are not obligated to accommodate non-Muslim religious observance.
"Saudi Arabia calls to boycott Swiss over minaret ban," by Roee Nahmias for Ynet News, December 8 (thanks to Fjordman):
A number of religious figures in Saudi Arabia called to boycott Switzerland and withdraw all Muslim deposits from bank accounts in the country in protest against the Swiss referendum that banned building new minarets. The UAE-based newspaper al-Bayan reported that religious moderator Khaled al-Shamrani called for afar-reaching boycott on all good and products originating in Switzerland. He also called upon Muslims to avoid traveling to the country. Religious figure Ahmed al-Hassan called wealthy Muslims to withdraw their deposits from Swiss banks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Egypt Christian Group Seeks to Change Muslim Status

Ayman Raafa, an Egyptian born a Christian, was nine months old when the father he never knew converted to Islam.
Now 23, Raafa is fighting to get the Christian faith he professes recognized by the state and registered on his identity documents vital to daily life.
Raafa was raised a Christian but the state says children automatically become Muslim on a father's conversion, a policy that places dozens of people in limbo in a society that does not -- in practice -- recognize conversion away from Islam.
Raafa is one of a group of 40 facing the same identity conundrum and now filing a lawsuit to have their Christian faith recognized, touching a raw spot in relations between Muslims and 10 percent of Egypt's 77 million people who are Christian. MORE HERE

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iraq the worst abuser of human rights in the Arab World

Human rights conditions in 12 Arab nations continued to deteriorate last year, according to a report issued Dec. 9 by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS). The publication, entitled "Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform," is the group's second annual report. It condemns violations of human rights, including those against political and reform activists. According to the report, Iraq continues to be the region's worst offender despite "relative improvements," while Egypt, Morocco, and Bahrain are identified as having regressed significantly since last year.
The report criticizes the Organization of the Islamic Conference for its efforts to subvert human rights protections and international monitors on governmental accountability. Additionally, the League of Arab States is condemned for citing "national sovereignty" as grounds for refusing to take action against rights abuses in the region, including those occurring in Sudan.
CIHRS released its inaugural report, "From Exporting Terrorism to Exporting Repression," last year to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That edition also found Iraq to be the leading offender in human rights violations, a conclusion similar to those of other prominent human rights and refugee organizations. Last year, the UN envoy to Iraq praised the creation of an Independent High Commission for Human Rights, calling it a "milestone" for human rights in the region. (Jurist, Dec. 9)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Human Rights worse in Arab World in 2009

Human rights deteriorated across the Arab world in 2009 with torture widely practised in several countries, namely Egypt, an Arab watchdog said in a report released on Tuesday.
The report by the independent Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies surveyed 12 countries and said that most of them repressed human rights activists, press freedoms and discriminated against religious minorities.
The state of human rights in the 12 countries -- Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen -- "has worsened compared to 2008," the report said.
"Arab governments remained wedded to a broad array of repressive laws that undermine basic liberties," compared to the previous year, said the report, "Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform."
"Peaceful rotation of power through representative politics, and clean and competitive elections remained a dream in most countries covered by this report," it said.
Egypt and Syria were singled out as leading offenders, with Cairo said to lead the region in practicing torture and Damascus for repressing rights activists. MORE HERE

AFP reports: 5 Swiss missionaries evicted from Morocco

Morocco has expelled five foreign Christian missionaries for holding "undeclared meetings" in the mainly Muslim north African kingdom, police said Tuesday.
Police at Oujda in northeast Morocco also accused the five of "evangelist proselytism," or missionary preaching, according to a source contacted by AFP. The five were expelled on Saturday.
Two of the foreigners came from South Africa, two from Switzerland and one from Guatemala. They were part of a group that also included 12 Moroccans, who were freed the same day.
The whole group was arrested on Friday during a raid on a house in Saidia, a seaside resort 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of Oudja.
Three of the foreigners -- the two Swiss and the Guatemalan -- were "sent out through the frontier post with Melilla," one of the Spanish enclaves on Morocco's coast.
The two South Africans, who already had airline tickets, were taken to Casablanca airport, the police source told AFP.
Last March, four Spaniards and a German woman were similarly expelled after they held a missionary meeting with Moroccan nationals, according to a statement from the ministry of the interior.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Egyptian state media: first love Mohamed ElBaradei, now hate him

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yemen on the brink of collapse

The president's new mosque shimmers over this ancient city like an illusion of stability against images of MIG fighter jets screeching overhead toward rebellion in the north or the latest news of pirates seizing ships in the treacherous Gulf of Aden.

In Sana's snug alleys, men speak of war, secession and Al Qaeda, which is busy scouring schoolyards and mosques for new recruits while much of the population spends hours each day getting a mellow buzz from chewing khat leaves.

If Yemen were a theater, which sometimes it appears to be, it would be an unnerving place of trapdoors and shifting facades. This is the poorest nation in the Arab world and one of the most strategically located, with 3 million barrels of oil sailing daily past its shores, tucked between Saudi Arabia and Somalia. MORE HERE

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How to pray for Saudi Arabia

 9 Prayer Challenges for Saudi Arabia

1 Saudi Arabia once had a large Christian population. They were expelled when Islam gained control 1,300 years ago. It is now one of the least evangelized nations on earth. No Christian workers are permitted and all Christian "propaganda" banned. No Christian is permitted to set foot in Islam's holiest city, Mecca. Pray that one day soon this land may have many Christians praising the Lamb that was slain.
2 The world's 1.2 billion Muslims are required to pray towards Mecca five times daily. Every year over two million make the Hajj or pilgrimage to the city. This is the culmination of many people's religious lives. Pray that many may have their eyes opened to see the emptiness and bondage under which they live, and embrace the freedom that is in Christ. Praise God that a small but growing number are doing just that – even in Saudi Arabia!  MORE HERE

Saudi's panicking because of Shiite Yemeni rebels cross border

Jordan has sent several hundred troops from its special operations forces to help the Saudi military with its many Shi'ite units contain the Yemeni Shi'ite rebellion, which has spread deep into the Arab kingdom. MORE HERE

Friday, December 4, 2009

Egyptians Protest ‘Islamic Hate Channels’

Egyptian human rights advocates demand the government remove provocative television channels from the air. 
Egyptian human rights activists submitted a report to the Egyptian government this week demanding it ban aggressive religious Islamic channels from broadcasting.
The activists, who include lawyer and human-rights activist Nagib Gabriel, described these channels as extremist and said they were disseminating “subversive ideas that call for discrimination against women and Copts and lean towards radical behavior that is far from the spirit of Islam,” according to a report in the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida.
Gabriel, who heads the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, expressed concern about these channels and stressed the need to “close any channel that fuels internal strife and threatens the social peace, whether among Christians or Muslims.”
The activists demanded that the Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat stop carrying these “extremism channels,” naming stations such as A-Nas, A-Rahma and Al-Hafiz. MORE HERE

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corruption in Jeddah led to deaths by drowning

Last week the Saudi city of Jeddah was afflicted by heavy rains that lasted only a few hours but caused massive flooding and the deaths of more than 500 people. To lessen the embarrassment, official reports shrank the number of flood-related deaths to just over 100.
Many Saudis are asking how such a catastrophe could occur in one of the world's richest countries and in its second-largest and most cosmopolitan city.
This was the most severe nature-related calamity that the world's largest oil exporter has seen in the past 50 years but the real reason for the death and destruction that occurred last Wednesday is endemic corruption in the Saudi government.
Jeddah is a great example of corruption. This city of more than 4 million people still lacks a sewage system and treatment facility. The rain that fell last week had nowhere to go but to flood the streets and neighbourhoods, creating havoc and death in its path. MORE HERE

Why Dubai matters, according to Businessweek

After Dubai announced in late November that the state-controlled investment firm Dubai World was seeking to reschedule payments on some $26 billion of debt, global markets went into a tailspin. While foreign bourses quickly rebounded, local shares have taken a pounding, and the credibility of Dubai's leadership has suffered serious damage. Yet lost in all the drama is the fact that Dubai is an important economic experiment in a strategically vital region. The humiliating debt implosion aside, the emirate remains the most dynamic business hub in the Gulf and has become a model for its neighbors.
In a region of conservative, autocratic countries long chained to the boom-and-bust cycles of the oil industry, Dubai stands out for creating an open economy that has diversified well beyond energy. With nowhere near the oil and gas reserves of other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it had to. "Dubai shows that if you are part of the global economy, you do well; you don't have to have oil," says David Aaron, director of the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy in Washington.MORE HERE

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Egyptian government is shameless and insults the Coptic minority

It is so habitual in Egypt.  Muslims attack Christians, the police acts too late, and then the authorities put pressure on Christians to not file charges in order for the perpetrators to not be punished.  This is shameless behavior by the authorities. Minorities deserve protection, especially when they are the victims of abuse by the government.

But the Copt of Farshoot are not prepared to give up on their rights.   They have said they will not be coerced into overlooking the mass riot that left reportedly 65 Christian shops damaged, as reported by Assyrian International News Agency on Sunday. Instead, they are uniting to make authorities recognize what happened and punish perpetrators.

Authorities, however, reportedly are putting pressure on the Coptic Church in Nag Hammadi, which is under the same governorate as Farshoot, to tell the victims to accept extrajudicial reconciliation and reopen their businesses without compensation. Police in Farshoot are also reportedly refusing to issue police reports to victims, forcing them to travel 37 miles away to make a report with the Attorney General in Qena, the capital of the governorate. Authorities have also not carried out an estimated loss investigation despite requests the church has made for a week. MORE HERE