Friday, October 20, 2006

ERITREA, ETHIOPIA, SOMALIA: DEATH AND DANGER IN THE HORN OF AFRICA

Date: Friday 20 October 2006
Subj: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia: Death and Danger
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


Tensions are rising across the Horn of Africa - there is death and danger. Irredentist Somali Islamists have declared jihad against Ethiopia. Christians are being attacked and murdered by Muslims in Ethiopia. Eritrea, which is accused of arming the Somali Islamists, is exploiting an
opportunity and has breached the 2000 cease-fire agreement by moving troops into the Eritrea-Ethiopia border buffer zone. Two Protestant Christians were recently tortured to death in Eritrea. The savagery of persecution appears to be escalating in proportion to regional tensions - and it could be about to get much worse.

(Irredentist: One who advocates the recovery of territory culturally or historically related to one's nation but presently subject to a foreign government. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language))

TENSIONS RISE THROUGH THE HORN OF AFRICA

Political and religious tensions have been rising throughout the Horn of Africa ever since Islamists captured Mogadishu, Somalia, in June.

As noted in the 29 July 2006 WEA RLC News & Analysis posting, "Somalia: Igniting jihad in the Horn of Africa" (Link 1), Islamist leaders in Somalia are actively reviving Somali irredentism while simultaneously effecting a massive military build up. The head of Somalia's Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC), Sheikh Hassan Dahir 'Aweys, himself a veteran of the failed 1977-78 Ogaden War for a Greater Somalia, has recently publicly voiced his support for the idea of Greater Somalia. He regards Ogaden as Ethiopia-occupied Somali territory. As noted in the July WEA RLC posting, this situation has the potential not only to erupt in regional conflict, but
to inflame Islamic zeal, stoke traditional animosities, agitate belligerents and seriously impact and escalate the already perilous situation faced by Christians across the Horn of Africa.

On Monday 16 October, Eritrea moved 1,500 troops and 14 tanks into a security buffer zone established in 2000 after the 2-year border war with Ethiopia. While Ethiopia described this as a "minor provocation" the UN regards it as "a major breach" of the cease-fire agreement reached in 2000. (Link 2)

Stratfor Intelligence reported on 20 October: "Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said Eritrea is taking advantage of the standoff between the SICC and the Ethiopia-backed transitional federal government to take a swipe at its longtime enemy."

Associated Press writer Les Neuhaus writes, "Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have been strained since the peace pact ended their war six years ago, with tensions on the rise because of unrest in Somalia, with Eritrea and Ethiopia supporting opposing factions.

"Eritrea's move [into the buffer zone] may be part of a regional strategy to place military pressure on Ethiopia. The United Nations reported earlier this year that Eritrea has sent weapons to a radical Islamic group that has been increasing its power in Somalia and that opposes Ethiopia's moves to prop up Somalia's internationally backed government.

"By moving troops closer to the border, Eritrea could be aiming to keep Ethiopian troops tied up there so that they cannot move into Somalia. Ethiopia would presumably want to avoid trouble on two fronts, but Eritrea's action raised the threat of renewed war between the feuding neighbors." (Link 3)

Meanwhile on another front tensions are escalating between Ethiopia and Somalia, inflaming Islamic zeal across the region. Islamists, other Muslims, and anti-Western elements who resent the loss of Southern Sudan, are keen to support Somalia, any Muslims - or any belligerents for that matter - against any Christian and any West-allied force.

Somali Islamists continue to actively recruit youths for jihad against Ethiopia. Chief registration officer Sheikh Abdulrahman Abdulle told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) the Islamists would provide the recruits with military training, as well as arms and vehicles. (Link 4)

Stratfor Intelligence reported on 19 October: "Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused Somalian fighters Oct. 19 of coming within nine miles of the Ethiopian border backed by troops from Indonesia, Pakistan, the Arab world and other African countries. Zenawi said the troop movement threatens Ethiopia's sovereignty and that 'if these groups attempt to violate our border our defense forces will be obliged to hit back exercising the right of self-defense.'" Another source names Egyptian and Libyan military elements as working with the Islamic Courts Union. (Link 5)

ETHIOPIA: MUSLIM ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS INTENSIFY

JIJIGA, the capital of Ethiopia's Somali Ogaden region, is about 720 kilometres due east of the capital Addis Ababa, towards the Somalia border. In May, Muslim youths in Jijiga stoned the homes and businesses of Christians after taking offence at what they claimed was the desecration of the Koran. (Link 6)

HENNO is in southern Ethiopia, 404 kilometres South of Addis Ababa, towards the Kenyan border. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Islamic leaders, angry about the conversion of two prominent Muslims in 2005, have reportedly been urging Muslims in the area to kill full-time Christian evangelists. ICC reports that on 20 July 2006, seven Muslim clerics brutally attacked 50 or more Christians, seriously injuring twelve. Local Muslims in Henno have so far been rejecting their leaders' calls to violence. (Link 7)

DEMBI is a small village 90 kilometres northwest of Jimma (which is about 350 kilometres west of Addis Ababa) towards the Sudan border. Muslims in Dembi had allegedly told the Christians that they would not let them celebrate Meskel this year because it was "their [Muslim] land". Meskel ("cross" in Amharic) is an annual Orthodox festival commencing mid September which marks the arrival of Spring.

When the Orthodox Christians in Dembi did celebrate Meskel the Muslims rioted. According to news agency Reuters, four days of religious conflict in early October left three religious centres and some 800 houses burned, more than 100 displaced, numerous people injured and 10 dead. The Islamic Affairs Supreme Council of Ethiopia claimed that nine Muslims were killed. Council vice-president Elias Redman said that most of the Muslims in the area practise the ultra-conservative Wahhabi brand of Islam. Religious conflict resumed on the weekend of 14 - 15 October, resulting in a further five deaths.

Local officials said they are growing increasingly concerned about conflict between faiths. A local official of the Orthodox Church said, "This is a very worrying situation for us. These things never used to happen but they seem to be starting now." (Link 6)

Reformatorisch Dagblad gives a more detailed account of the Meskel riot: "Within a matter of two days, they [armed 'Muslim fundamentalists'] had burned over 350 homes belonging to Christians, killed 31 Christians, and taken dozens as hostages, according to local church leaders. Muslim attackers burned one Catholic church, one Orthodox church, and three evangelical churches. The latter are part of the 75-year-old Kale Heywet Church (EKHC), which began under the missionary influence of what was then known as Sudan Interior Mission and now includes over 5 million Ethiopian believers. Attackers quickly converted five local EKHC churches into mosques.

"Local church leaders estimate that nearly 3,000 Christians have been displaced. Last week they hastily organized themselves into five camps for protection and to share food and other supplies. The humanitarian relief group Samaritan's Purse has provided $50,000 in emergency food aid to the displaced." (Link 8)

ERITREA: BELIEVERS DIE FROM TORTURE

Compass Direct's most recent News Flash on Eritrea gives insight into the escalating savagery of the persecution suffered there by Christians. (Link 9)

Compass Direct (CD) reports that on 15 October 2006, Immanuel Andegergesh (23) and Kibrom Firemichel (30) were arrested while attending a religious service in a private home south of Asmara. The ten Christians worshipping with them (three women and seven men), all members of the evangelical Rema Church, were also arrested.

CD reports that the Christians were detained in a military camp outside the town of Adi-Quala and, according to one source, were subjected to "furious mistreatment". On 17 October, Andegergesh and Firemichel died in custody as a result of dehydration and torture inflicted by Eritrean security police. The fate of the other ten believers is as yet unknown.

According to CD, Andegergesh and Firemichel had been performing their military service in a southern Eritrean town close to the Ethiopian border.

CD also reports that Eritrean-born American citizen Aregahaje Woldeselasie (early 60s) and his assistant, a married man identified only as Mushie, were arrested on 4 October and have been held in Asmara's Police Station 5. CD reports: "Woldeselasie has been working with Nehemiah Ministry International in Eritrea since 1991, providing leadership training to new congregations."

Furthermore: "Earlier this month, Eritrean authorities returned popular Christian singer Helen Berhane to military detention after she spent three days in Asmara's Halibet Hospital for medical treatment. Berhane's leg had been seriously damaged as a result of beatings she received while imprisoned in a metal shipping container since her arrest in May 2004."

And: "In its apparent campaign to bring all religious groups under its control, the government of Eritrea has recently focused its efforts on schools run by religious groups."

As reported by CD on 8 September: "A total of 35 pastors, priests and church elders are confirmed under arrest in Asmara's Wongel Mermera investigation center. An additional 1,758 Christians of both evangelical Protestant and Orthodox confessions are jailed in 14 other cities and towns." Eritrea is one of the world's most serious religious liberty violators.

REGIONAL THREAT RISES

Islamic irredentism is threatening Ethiopia - and Eritrea knows an opportunity when it presents. As the tensions rise, Christians throughout the Horn of Africa are likely to face increased hostility from zealous Muslims and belligerents such as agitated Eritrean security police. If war breaks out between Somali irredentist Islamists and Ethiopia, and between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the situation for Christians throughout the region will be diabolical.


Links

1) Somalia: Igniting jihad in the Horn of Africa.
By Elizabeth Kendal, WEA RLC. 29 July 2006
http://www.worldevangelicalalliance.com/news/view.htm?id=634

2) U.N. Accuses Eritrea Cease-Fire Breach
16 October 2006. By Edith M. Lederer. UN (AP)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6151413,00.html

3) Ethiopia, Eritrea trade accusations of peace-deal violations
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Oct. 17, 2006
By LES NEUHAUS Associated Press Writer
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/17/ap/world/mainD8KQJDAG0.shtml

4) Somalia Islamists recruit hundreds after call for jihad on Ethiopia
Mogadishu (dpa) 18 Oct 2006
http://www.ecanadanow.com/world/2006/10/18/somalia-islamists-recruit-hundreds-after-call-for-jihad-on-ethiopia/

5) Ethiopia: Somalian Fighters Near Border
STRATFOR. 19 October 2006
http://www.stratfor.com/products/premium/read_article.php?id=278464
Will Somalia be the final battle between Islam and the West?
18 Oct 18, 2006, 11:16 By Charles Onyango_Obbo
http://www.garoweonline.com/stories/publish/article_5525.shtml

6) Muslims, Christians clash in western Ethiopia, 5 Killed
6 October 2006. Addis Ababa.
http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17975
15 killed in Ethiopia's sectarian violence
16 October 2006
http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18155
ALSO
Nine Muslims dead in Ethiopia riots with Christians
AFP, 6 October 2006, ADDIS ABABA
http://ethiounited.blogspot.com/2006/10/nine-muslims-dead-in-ethiopia-riots.html

7) Muslims Attack Christians in Henno, Ethiopia
http://www.aina.org/news/20061019171402.htm

8) Holy war against Horn of Africa rival Ethiopia
Reformatorisch Dagblad . 13 Oct 2006
http://www.refdag.nl/artikel/1278084/Holy+war+against+Horn+of+Africa+rival+Ethiopia.html

9) Two Eritrean Christians Tortured to Death
Special to Compass Direct. 18 Oct 2006
http://www.compassdirect.org/content/index.php?id=27

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bosnia: Fragile stability threatened by Islamisation.

Date: Thursday 12 October 2006
Subj: Bosnia: Fragile stability threatened by Islamisation.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

On Tuesday 10 October 2006 at around 4:30am, an unidentified assailant armed allegedly with a "Zolja" hand-held grenade launcher shot a missile into a mosque in the Jasenica area of Mostar, southern Bosnia. Jasenica is a Croat majority suburb of Mostar which is split evenly between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats. The attack happened before Muslims arrived for a pre-dawn Ramadan meal, so the mosque was empty and there were no injuries. (Link 1)

While the attack may have been perpetrated by a disgruntled voter unsettled by the outcome of the 1 October elections, it is just as likely that the mosque was struck by an Islamist tasked with triggering a sectarian conflict that would enable a "justified" military expansion of Islamist control.

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FRAGILE STABILITY THREATENED BY ISLAMISATION
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The scenario of ethnic-religious polarisation envisaged in my earlier WEA RLC News & Analysis posting - "Bosnia and Herzegovina: Religious tensions rising" (link 2) - is coming to pass. Bosnia's peace is extremely delicate. As ethnic-religious identity, zeal, insecurity and defensiveness rise in the various communities, all religious groups that exist as minorities are likely to suffer increased discrimination and persecution.

Of course Protestants are a minority across all of Bosnia. According to a report by Forum 18 (Link 3), Sarajevo is the only place where Protestants have not had difficulties getting building permits. This is probably because America supported the Islamist cause in the Bosnian war (as they did in Kosovo) with devastating effectiveness. So in Sarajevo at least, the Bosniac Islamists who doubtless have the power to turn persecution of Protestants on and off presently want it turned off. How long this will last is questionable, as the US-led War on Terror and the post-war radicalisation of much of the Bosnian Muslim population (particularly youths) makes the US-Bosniac Islamist alliance extremely delicate too. Protestants will probably only be tolerated in Sarajevo as long as the US-Bosniac Islamist alliance holds and the Islamists believe their friends in Washington are still useful with regard to the advance of the Islamist or Muslim nationalist agenda for Bosnia.

Forum 18 reports that in Croat areas, Protestants wanting building permits are obstructed, while in the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic), Protestants face considerable obstruction and harassment. Of course Serbs generally (and understandably) are suspicious and resentful of Protestants whom they view as pro-American, which to them means pro-Bosniac Islamist and anti-Serb.

FROM DAYTON TO 1 OCT 2006:
SEPARATED PEOPLES, COMFORTABLY GROWING APART


Bosnia has three main ethnic groups: Serbs (Eastern Orthodox), Croats (Roman Catholic), and Bosniacs (Muslim). The Dayton Accords, which brought an end to the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, kept the state unified and independent but divided it into two autonomous entities: the Muslim-Croat federation, and the Republika Srpka (Serb Republic). (Full background at link 2)

Since the war, states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have invested heavily in the Muslim-Croat federation's physical and ideological reconstruction in line with Sarajevo's Islamisation strategy. According to locals, mosques have sprung up in Sarajevo "like mushrooms after the rain". Sources report to Forum 18 that the number of mosques in Sarajevo is now "at 250 or more". (Link 3)

Meanwhile, older and war-damaged mosques have been "renovated" by Arabs with Saudi funds. They ensure the "renovated" mosques conform to Wahhabi standards (stripped of European and Sufi icons and decorations). Wahhabi missionaries have flooded in to teach the nominal Muslims of Bosnia how to be "good Muslims", following the "true way", being more observant, more assertive, less tolerant, wearing veils and growing beards. But by advancing Islamisation, Sarajevo has been increasing the incompatibility of Muslims and Christians and directly threatening the stability brought by the Dayton Accords.

Meanwhile the Republika Srpska has maintained its ethnic and religious distinctives - using Cyrillic rather than Latin script, and building Orthodox Churches rather than mosques - and progressed in rather a different direction. While the Bosniac leadership is developing ties with Islamic states (advancing cultural ties with Iran and an air-traffic agreement with
Libya), RS is advancing cultural ties with, and building bridges (literally) to Serbia, much to the chagrin of the Bosniac Islamists and Muslim nationalists who have protested this "conspiracy against Muslims". (Link 4)

RESULT OF 1 OCTOBER 2006 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
CONFLICTED PRESIDENCY REFLECTS CONFLICTED PEOPLE.


Bosnia has a national central government with a three-person rotating presidency. Each entity - the Muslim-Croat federation and the Republika Srpska - also has its own president and parliament. Each ethnic group has a representative in the central presidency. The Serbs must vote for their Serb representative, whilst in the Muslim-Croat federation, Muslims and Croats may vote for a Muslim or a Croat. The leading Muslim and the leading Croat win positions as the representatives of their ethnic group.

Religious tensions have been rising in Bosnia because of the Islamist, Muslim nationalist and Western, US-led push for constitutional reform which would strengthen the central (Muslim dominated) government at the expense of the entities. For Islamists, the US-proposed reforms don't go far enough as they maintain the Republika Srpska (RS) as an entity. For Serbs in RS, the reforms go too far too fast and threaten to undermine Serb autonomy and return the Serbs to dhimmitude. Islamist Bosniacs, driven by Islamist ideology, are keen to dissolve theRepublika Srpska. In response, the Serbs have threatened to hold a referendum on secession rather than live as a Christian minority under Muslim domination. The constitutional reforms and the status of Republika Srpska were central election issues.

The winners of the national presidential election are polar opposites, creating a conflicted presidency which reflects a conflicted people. The new federal parliament does likewise.

The Muslim representative in the new Bosnian presidency is Haris Silajdzic who was the war-time Foreign Minister and Prime Minister under Islamist President Izetbegovic. Silajdzic campaigned as an advocate of the dissolution of Republika Srpksa (RS) (as quoted in "Bosnia and Herzegovina: Religious tensions rising" WEA RLC: link 2).

The Serb representative is Nebojsa Radmanovic of the pro-West "Union of Independent Social Democrats", the party of Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik who has vowed to hold a referendum on secession if the Muslims press for the dissolution of RS. A Serb referendum on secession is something the Bosniac Islamists have vowed to resist.

As if this does not create enough tension, the Croat representative to the three-person rotating presidency is allegedly not the Croat choice. (Link 5)

The current Croat President, Ivo Miro Jovic, is believed to be the real Croat choice. However, he came in second behind Zeljko Komsic, a Croat who fought with the Bosnian Muslim army against the Bosnian Croat army in 1993 when Bosnian Croats tried to secede from Izetbegovic's independent unified state of Bosnia. Komsic, like Silajdzic, ran on the platform of a unified "anti-sectarian" Bosnia. Croats (who are about a 14 percent minority) believe Komsic was elected with Muslim votes and will not represent Croat interests. This, along with growing Croat discomfort in the increasingly Islamised Muslim-Croat federation, has re-ignited Croat calls for a third autonomous ethnic entity to carved out in Bosnia.

The Roman Catholic Croats and the Muslim Bosniacs were both allied to the Nazis during World War Two, joining SS Units tasked with exterminating the "lesser races" - Serbs, Jews and Roma - in the Holocaust in Yugoslavia. After WWII both groups were allied to the Communist Partisians led by Tito (a Croat) against the pro-democracy, pro-West Serbs.

However, the post-WWII radicalisation of Bosnia's Muslims, from the 1970s, but especially through and since the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, has caused this alliance to become strained over recent years. Many Croats may now feel they have more in common with their Serb former enemies than their Bosniac former allies. A little over a year ago, Croats in the northeastern Bosnian town of Brcko were forced to appeal to local authorities for protection after they were threatened by an extremist Islamic group from the nearby village of Gornja Maoca. Wahhabi leaders in Gornja Maoca had been calling Catholic Croats "the worst kind of crusaders" and saying they should all be exterminated. (Link 6)

So the 1 October elections have not only polarised the Bosniac and Serb populations (between unity and autonomy), but also deeply unsettled the Croats. The majority Bosnian Muslims have voted for non-sectarian unity and democracy. It sounds heavenly except that Islamists, modern nominal or liberal or secular pro-European Muslims, and non-Muslim minorities all interpret that quite differently (as Islamic domination, European-style equality, and repressive dhimmitude respectively).

Meanwhile non-Muslim minorities who recoil at the idea of living as dhimmis under Islamic domination are labeled obstructionist, divisive, sectarian and racist. (Link 7)

DAYTON'S STABILISATION SERIOUSLY THREATENED


We truly are drifting right back into the pre-Dayton and pre-war Bosnia of 1992. And just as in 1992, if Bosnia's Muslim nationalists and Islamists attempt to turn their rhetoric into reality and impose Muslim rule over the Bosnian Serb minority, the Serbs will not submit - they will resist. Then the Islamists will cry foul and deploy their ready Army and jihadist forces to an aggressive, offensive "defence" of Bosnia against Serb "aggression" (resistance) and under the banner of "justice". It is all very familiar.

Today, with modern political and religious understanding and post-9/11 knowledge (the links between Bosniac Islamists and 9/11 are now well documented: link 8), the West surely cannot support the Islamist agenda to Islamise all of Bosnia and place Bosnian Christians (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) in a state of "democratic" dhimmitude.

Peace, religious liberty and security for all Bosnians of all confessions and traditions can only be achieved by means of a lengthy and patient national and international truth and reconciliation process (something the US would doubtless resist), along with the total rejection and absolute abandonment of all Islamist rhetoric, politics and goals (something the Islamists would certainly reject). Without those two things, this conflicted, forced, sham marriage that is post-Dayton Bosnia, cannot last, and lasting peace and true religious liberty will never be the reality.

Links

1) Missile hits Bosnia mosque ahead of Ramadan meal
Tue 10 Oct 2006 SARAJEVO, 10 Oct 2006
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=L10888408&WTmodLoc=World-R5-Alertnet-2
http://www.serbianna.com/news/2006/02424.shtml (has picture)

2) Bosnia and Herzegovina: Religious tensions rising
By Elizabeth Kendal WEA RLC. 20 September 2006
http://www.worldevangelicalalliance.com/news/view.htm?id=692

3) BOSNIA: To legally build a place of worship...
By Drasko Djenovic, Forum 18 News Service
http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=811

4) BOSNIA: Muslims and Serbs in rift over bridge.
Sarajevo, 2 August 2006 (AKI)
http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Religion&loid=8.0.326873544&par=0

5) Nationalist party rejects result of vote for Bosnian Croat presidency
The Associated Press. 3 October 2006
http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/ap/2006/10/03/europe/EU_POL_Bosnia_Election_Dispute.php

6) Croats lack protection in Bosnia as Islamists put threats. 29 Sept 2005
http://newsfromrussia.com/yougoslavia/2005/09/29/64010.html

7) Serbs block road to Bosnian unity
By Nicholas Walton. BBC News, Sarajevo. 2 October 2006
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5399856.stm

8) Bosnian Official Links With Terrorism, Including 9/11
International Strategic Studies Association.
Balkan Strategic Studies. 17 September 2003
Analysis by Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS [Global Information Systems],
with input from GIS stations in the Balkans.
http://128.121.186.47/ISSA/reports/Balkan/Sep1703.htm