Andrew Brunson is an American pastor who has lived in Turkey for the past 23 years. He was imprisoned in the sweep of arrests that followed the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the summer of 2016. After being held for over a year with no charges, the Turkish government charged him in August of “spying” and “insurgency” against the government and membership in an unnamed armed terrorist organization, demanding he be given four consecutive life sentences.
Erdogan recently made clear that Brunson is being held as a negotiating chip to force America’s hand to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a powerful Turkish imam living in Pennsylvania whom Erdogan accuses of being behind the coup. Brunson’s release is reportedly a high priority for U.S. President Donald Trump, who publicly asked Erdogan to release Brunson when the two met last May.
However, in a letter to Trump sent through an attorney, Brunson wrote, “Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me.”
Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria are waging an ongoing battle against Christians in the Plateau State. In October alone, 21 Christians were massacred. Samson Ayokunle, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the main Christian organization in the country, said the “government’s failure to arrest them is simply seen by reasonable people as complicity. We demand justice for our dead brothers and sisters.”In 2016, the Fulanis, who are militant Islamists, killed over 800 Christians and non-Islamist Muslims and destroyed at least 16 churches. In addition, they burned down 53 villages including 1,422 houses. Thousands of Christians have also been slaughtered by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The brutal Islamist terror group was founded in 2002 and began a violent insurgency in 2009.
A menacing 1,000-strong mob gathered outside a newly-renovated Coptic church in Mina, Egypt in late October threatening the worshipers. While the doors were bolted shut, the police were called to disperse the crowd. The Christians were subsequently held responsible for the incident and forced to attend a “peace” meeting with the aggressors.
Coptic Christians in Egypt have been subjected to severe abuse by local Islamists icluding Muslim Brotherhood members and ISIS. Christian girls are routinely kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam or trafficked; Christians are targeted in extrajudicial killings and churches are bombed and burned.
Sixteen-year-old Maryam Khalid, a Christian girl in Pakistan who stepped outside her house to visit a friend, was abducted by a Muslim landlord in the area, forcibly converted and married off to one of the landlord’s friends. No action was taken by the authorities after the victim’s parents appealed to them for help. Unfortunately, stories like these are commonplace, as in the case of another 16-year old, Sonia Nasar, who was kidnapped and raped by her Muslim neighbor as she walked home from choir practice at her church.
Even after Sonia ended up in the hospital in critical condition (which forced authorities to register the case), no legal proceedings were commenced against her attacker, who was well connected with the ruling Muslim League Party in the area.More often than not, Christian families in Pakistan are forced to flee their homes and jobs after such incidents to avoid mob violence directed against them.
ISIS targeted Christians in their recent insurgency against the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, executing at least 25, taking mass hostages and looting their property. There were also reports that Christians were abused by government forces fighting ISIS, who were suspicious of the fleeing Christians. Refugees detailed how they were detained and tortured by the army and how the soldiers looted their property.
Host a screening of Clarion Project’s new film, Faithkeepers, which documents the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, and find out what you can do to help stop the genocide. Watch below the trailer for the film: