For refusing to renounce their faith in Christ, four Christian orphanage workers in Somalia were beheaded in August by the country’s main Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab. According to the International Christian Concern (ICC), a major advocacy group investigating reports of religious persecution, an unidentified junior member of al-Shabab, notified families of Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi and Maaddey Diil, that the four Christians kidnapped earlier on July 27 in the coastal town of Merca. had been beheaded for apostasy. "All the four apostates were given an opportunity to return to Islam to be released but they all declined the generous offer," a witness of the beheading was reported as saying.
Earlier in July, the al-Shabab beheaded seven people in the southwestern town of Baidoa after accusing them of converting to Christianity and spying for the transitional federal government of Somalia, The group was also responsible for the deaths of 11 African Union (from Burundi and Uganda) peacekeepers who they targeted while they were attending a Sunday Church service in Mogadishu earlier in the year.
In a related development, human rights groups in South Korea say North Korea has stepped up executions of Christians, some of them in public. A recent report described one particular case of a woman allegedly publicly executed in June in a northern town close to the Chinese border. She was accused of distributing Bibles, spying for South Korea and the United States and helping to organise dissidents. Her parents, husband, and children were sent to a prison camp. It is estimated that up to 30,000 North Koreans practice Christianity secretly in their homes.
Similarly, two young Iranian women arrested and being tried for converting to Christianity, Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh, have adamantly refused to recant their faith in Christ, despite great pressure being mounted on them. Originally arrested on March 5, 2009 the two women have suffered greatly while in prison, suffering ill health, solitary confinement and interrogations for many hours while blindfolded. In a dramatic court room session, the deputy prosecutor, Mr. Haddad, questioned Maryam and Marzieh about their faith and told them that they had to recant in both verbal and written form. According to the Assyrian International News Agency (Aug 11), they responded, "We will not deny our faith."
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