Monthly Archives: June 2013

Music in Mali – Festival in the Desert

By Martin Roth

My subscription copy of Songlines has arrived, with a cover story, “Top 25 Mali Albums.” I’ve been a fan of Malian music for more years than I can remember, and I have some of the recordings on the list.

In fact, my novel “Festival in the Desert” originated from an article in Songlines. Back in the October 2011 issue I read a cover story on the Touaregs – the desert nomads of the Sahara – with the following:

The Touareg rebellion has been knocked squarely off the front page by the murderous presence of mafia gangs posing as Islamist extremist militias allied to Al Qaeda…But elsewhere fear roams the desert. Traffickers who used to carry a quaint payload of Marlboro cigarettes, illegal diesel and cooking oil, now transport hard drugs, weapons and humans. Planeloads of cocaine fly in from South America, disgorge their corrosive cargo into huge convoys of 4x4s which disappear eastward towards Egypt and the Middle East.

I knew at once I had the material for an exciting novel. And the novel was actually right up-to-date with events. It was about Islamist extremists and their efforts to kick out Westerners and take over the society. And as it was being published Islamic extremists associated with Al Qaeda did take over a large part of the region, expelling all Westerners.

Time to Recognize Buddhist Persecution of Christians

By Martin Roth

Time magazine confirms what many Christians already knew – that Buddhism too has its extremists, and persecution of Christians is a fact in parts of the Buddhist world.

Laos – a Buddhist and a Marxist-Leninist nation – ranks at Number 18 on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians face the harshest persecution. Vietnam is Number 21 and Myanmar is Number 32.

The Time report concerns mainly Buddhist opposition to Islam, though it notes: “In Sri Lanka, where a conservative, pro-Buddhist government reigns, Buddhist nationalist groups are operating with apparent impunity, looting Muslim and Christian establishments.”

The Baptist Press has an excellent summary of a growing wave of disturbing incidents in Sri Lanka:

International Christian Concern reported that 2012 and 2013 have seen a dramatic increase in Christian persecution in Sri Lanka, including Christians being attacked in more than 50 incidents in 2012 alone for practicing their faith. Reports of Christian pastors and their families being threatened and having their homes firebombed have almost become common, ICC said.

Catholic World News cited a bishop May 1 in Sri Lanka who said the cause of the uptick in persecution is the growth of what he calls the “Buddhist Taliban.”

…In March, a large mob attacked a pastor’s home while the family was away and began damaging the property, demanding an end to the church services in the home, ICC said May 5. 

The same pastor had been accosted and threatened by a group of Buddhists telling him to close down the church late last year, the human rights organization said. The protesters returned the next day and attacked the building during a worship service, injuring the pastor.

Also in March, more than 10 churches faced persecution in the form of threats, disturbances, harassment or attacks, mostly from Buddhist monks but sometimes with the assistance of the police or a mob, ICC said. 

Last summer, a 14-year-old boy, the only Christian in his class at school, reportedly was severely beaten and threatened with death if he did not stop spreading Christianity. 

Copts Have Georgia on Their Mind

Egyptian Coptic Christians are migrating to Georgia – formerly part of the USSR – in growing numbers, according to AhramOnline.

The reason is simple.

Those waiting in line at the embassy say many Copts are increasingly afraid to live in Egypt. They attribute this fear to April’s Al-Khosous incident – in which six people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians – and subsequent clashes outside Cairo’s Abbassiya Coptic-Orthodox cathedral.

…”My son is a doctor and was attacked by thugs. He received severe head injuries on a normal weekday in a main street,” explains 60-year-old business owner Osama Shehata. “Just give Egyptians one thing – security – and they will never think of leaving their country.”

Some reports say that many thousands of Copts have made the move. However, Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II has denied that Christians migrating from Egypt has become a trend, adding that there have only been individual cases.

A Week of Depressing Headlines

By Martin Roth

In Brotherhood’s Egypt, blasphemy charges against Christians surge ahead

The Arab Christians’ existential crisis

Intense Christian persecution in the Central African Republic ignored by the world

Mob Attack Copts and their Businesses in Northern Egypt

Abduction of Young Coptic Girls in Egypt Showcased to Western Journalists

Muslim Persecution Against Christians Is ‘Spreading, Intensifying,’ Says Egyptian Copt