Zprávy HCJB 15.2.2005

   Představitelé znepokojené křesťanské menšiny vyjadřují obavy z důsledků historických voleb 30. ledna. Spojená Irácká Aliance podporovaná hlavně šítskými muslimy a opírající se o muslimské duchovenstvo získala skoro polovinu hlasů. Dvoutřetinová většina nutná ke kontrole 275 členného parlamentu to není, což vede ke spekulacím, že Šíté by mohli utvořit koalici s Kurdy, kteří byli s 26 procenty druzí. Strana současného ministra vnitra Iyada Allawiho byla se 14 procenty až třetí. Křesťané se tak obávají, že by se mohli dostat mimo politický vliv, a že země bude směřovat k islámskému státu s malou nebo žádnou svobodou pro náboženské menšiny. Asyrští křesťané budou mít v parlamentu pravděpodobně 10 míst. Tento zákonodárný sbor vybere prezidenta a premiéra. Především však vytvoří výbor pro tvorbu nové ústavy, o které se bude hlasovat 15. října. (BosNewsLife/Associated Press/Chicago Tribune)

*Tato a další zprávy jsou v originální anglické verzi zde.


Representatives of Iraq's troubled Christian minority are expressing concerns about the outcome of Iraq's historic Jan. 30 election. The United Iraqi Alliance, a clergy-backed coalition of mostly Shiite Muslims, placed first with nearly half the votes. However, the alliance failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to control the 275-member National Assembly. This has led to speculation that the Shiites may form a coalition with the independence-minded Kurds which placed second, winning 26 percent of the 8.5 million ballots cast in the election. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi finished third with 14 percent, the country's election commission reported. Christians are concerned that they have become "politically marginalized" and that the country will move toward an Islamic state with little or no freedom for religious minorities. Assyrian Christians are expected to secure 10 seats in the National Assembly. The assembly will serve as a lawmaking body, and it will help select and approve the president and prime minister. Its most important task will be to create a committee to draft a permanent constitution which Iraqis will vote on by Oct. 15. (BosNewsLife/Associated Press/Chicago Tribune)


More than 30 churches in West Java, Indonesia, are still searching for approved worship facilities after objections from Muslim neighbors forced them to close last year. Recently two churches were forced to close after applying for permits to hold Christmas services in private homes. Jawadi Hutapea, a parish representative, said many churches in West Java were afraid because of threats received in recent months. "We have tried approaching local authorities and we are looking at other options," he said. Options are limited. Local bylaws require approval from the surrounding community before a permit is granted to build a church or to hold church services in an existing building. Since West Java is a Muslim-majority area, permits for church construction are seldom granted. Officials in Rancaekek ordered 12 churches to close last September after Muslim leaders protested that the churches were meeting illegally. The congregations had applied for permits to build churches as early as 1993, but permits were consistently refused. (Compass)


Tribal Christians in western India's Dadra and Nagar Haveli territory say Hindu militants are threatening to kill them and burn their homes unless they leave the troubled region. The apparent campaign of intimidation and "religious cleansing" began in the village of Sili Talavpada on Friday, Dec. 31, when activists from the Hindu fundamentalist organization, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), entered the area, witnesses said. "The VHP activists attacked while Christians were attending a prayer meeting peacefully," said a missionary with the Friends' Missionary Prayer Band. "They stormed the meeting and made the Christians vacate the hall immediately, threatening them with deadly weapons," said the missionary who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. The attack took place in a thatched cottage where the tribal members, who became Christians 12 years ago, gathered for prayer and worship every Sunday and Tuesday. The tribal Christians also sent a letter to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) complaining about violent attacks from VHP activists. "They used dangerous weapons such as axes, hockey sticks and chains, and they threatened to kill us and burn down our houses and churches," the letter stated. "The VHP activists asked us to leave our village and go to Italy or America." Tribal Christians from Sili Talavpada asked the EFI to intervene in the conflict which they describe as the most serious since 2002. An estimated 25,000 tribal Christians live in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

In a separate incident, A Hindu cleric in the Catholic village of Rajura in neighboring Maharashtra state insisted that tribal Christians turn their church into a Hindu temple or face violent consequences. "This morning I received news that the situation is extremely serious," said Bishop Edwin Colaço of the Amaravati Diocese. "The Christians are living in fear of their lives." Hindu cleric Sunil Ji Maharaj initially threatened about 40 Catholic families in the village with social ostracism and even death if they did not "reconvert" to Hinduism or leave the village, Asia News reported. "He urged Hindu villagers to kill the Christian adivasis (tribal people) with 'swords,'" Colaço said. Mumbai sociologist S.M. Michael attributes such aggression to desperate attempts by fundamentalist Hindus to reclaim political power after the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party in last year's elections. (BosNewsLife/Compass)

* "The Voice of the Great Southland," the shortwave station operated by HCJB World Radio-Australia since January 2003, airs more than 108 hours of weekly Christian programming in 11 languages, including nine spoken in India (English, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Nepali, Malayalam, Chattisgarhi, Hmar and Meeitei). Programs in these languages are produced at HCJB World Radio's studio in New Delhi. Programs also air via FEBA Radio's transmitters in three languages (Bhojpuri, Chattisgarhi and Mundari).


Since 2001 thousands of Montagnards have fled Vietnam for Cambodia to escape ongoing persecution by the Vietnamese government. However, it appears that option is no longer available for the Montagnards, the predominantly Christian indigenous people of Vietnam's central highlands. The Montagnard Foundation has learned that Cambodian police are continuing to arrest and forcibly return Montagnard asylum seekers back to Vietnamese police in exchange for cash bounties. In the latest incident earlier this month, 21 Montagnard Degar refugees were arrested and turned in to Vietnamese police. They were arrested at Dat village in Cambodia's Ratannakiri province. Last November 15 Degars faced a similar situation. The Vietnamese government paid a bounty of 5 million Vietnamese dong (about US$335) to Cambodian police. Montagnard Foundation President Kok Ksor added that many of the refugees "have been tortured and imprisoned when they are returned to Vietnam. The international community needs to protect our people now." (Assist News Service)

* HCJB World Radio, in cooperation with Campus Crusade for Christ, worked with a local partner to plant Cambodia's first Christian radio station in 1998. New Life Radio in the capital city of Phnom Penh broadcasts the gospel in Cambodian and English.


As many relief groups rushed aid to the tsunami victims, Wycliffe Bible Translators has found that partnering with other groups was the most valuable way to help. They linked with national partners in Indonesia to serve tsunami victims. "After we began to realize how widespread the devastation was and the breadth of the tragedy, we began to look around for ways in which we could be helpful in terms of relief work," explains Wycliffe spokesman Bob Creson. "We don't do relief work, but we just felt like we needed to extend some compassion to those that were a part of that devastation." Wycliffe is channeling funds to its Indonesian partner, Karti Daya, which is giving aid to relief group, Friends of Aceh. Through those partnerships, the gospel is going forth, Creson says, "We just need to be praying that God will use what is, in human terms, a tragedy and bring honor and glory to Himself. And my prayer is that through some of these relief efforts, that in some way, the doors will be opened to the Gospel message in that part of the world." (Mission Network News)


National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) President Dr. Frank Wright said that Christian radio in the U.S. has shown "tremendous growth" in the last five years. He was speaking at a press conference on Friday, Feb. 11 in Anaheim, Calif., at the start of the 62nd annual NRB Convention and Exposition. Wright referred to Arbitron numbers that showed growth in the number of radio stations with religious formats during the five-year period, increasing by 12 percent to 2,014. Of the 13,838 U.S.-based radio stations, nearly 15 percent have a religious format. "NRB is greatly encouraged by these numbers because of the strong commitment to proclaim, transform and preserve," Wright said. He added that a new NRB channel will be available on satellite television. "This channel will give NRB greater opportunities to further reach into the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ," Wright explained. "Furthermore, NRB is pleased to announce the new Global Media Alliance. This is an effort to recognize evangelical international ministries (radio and television) and help to improve the work that they do every day. NRB has many international broadcasters in its membership. However, this new effort is hoped to strengthen and grow these numbers." (Assist News Service)

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