Issue: "Sciavo: Saved by the bill," Nov. 1, 2003

Persecution monitors may have been a little too prescient in choosing Indonesia as this year's International Day of Prayer poster child. The annual focus on persecution of Christians, held this year Nov. 9-16, coincides with widening attacks on Christian villages in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi. Nine families, all members of Bethel Church, were taken into police custody for protection after their homes were destroyed in September. Last month four villages with large Christian populations came under attack by bands of masked militants using automatic weapons. Nine people were killed and a dozen hospitalized. "People are too scared to remain in their isolated villages," said Mona Saroinsong, coordinator of the Crisis Center of the Protestant Church in North Sulawesi. "They have been walking through the jungle to the coast or making for Tentena, the nearest Christian town. When I questioned them, they said they did not trust the authorities to protect them."

At least a dozen young evangelical Christians have been arrested in Eritrea as they met in a home for worship. Police ordered that their food rations be withheld until they sign papers denying their faith. Compass Direct estimates that there are over 200 Christians currently jailed in Eritrea for their faith.

Kano, one of 12 states in northern Nigeria to implement Shariah, or Islamic law, now is outlawing Christian worship. A directive from the local governing council in Kumbotso prohibits Sunday worship. Officials have also seized Christian school property and plan to convert it to businesses. Kano state governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau told reporters of plans to prohibit women from riding in the same vehicles with men. He also plans to increase the number of Shariah courts to deal with violations.

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