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Government and police officials are complicit to land
grab, intimidation, and infringement upon family's religious
freedom and private property rights
Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - International
Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Muslim mob in Deder, Ethiopia, has
attacked a Christian man and forced him out of his home on the threat of death.
Local Muslims want to appropriate his land so that they can build a mosque.
Their actions are despite recent court rulings that guaranteed his property
Mengistu's family has owned their land for more than 90 years, but a mob of more
than 20 Muslims in Kufanzik village remain intent on forcibly building a mosque
on the Mengistu farm in defiance of the law. Muslims make up the religious
majority in the area. They have destroyed his fence and have looted his
possessions. In addition, the local police are complicit in these attempts to
steal his land.
first plan was to kill my husband," Mengistu's wife, Haregewoyan, said.
"Now, he has escaped from the area. We are fasting and praying for God to rescue
us from this forceful action," she added.
provided legal assistance to Fikere Mengistu to retain his land
when Muslims previously attempted to steal it in late 2014. He won the legal
battle, but now they've returned and are attempting to take it by force. The
authorities are letting it happen. In the past, he has faced threats from local
police officers, has been forced to pay bribes, and has been imprisoned simply
because he is a Christian.
harassment started when Mengistu built a house for his 93-year-old mother two
years ago. Fearing that the village's 38 Christians would use the house to
gather for prayer, dozens of Muslims began to occupy his land and would remain
for weeks at a time shouting "Allahu akhbar," meaning "God is great."
They even destroyed his elderly mother's home as they attempted to drive the
Mengistu family off their land and use it to build a mosque. The Muslims claimed
Mengistu's land belonged to the government.
courts at the state level (East Harerghe Zone level), and the district level
(Deder) both upheld Mengistu's land title in November 2014 and April 2015,
respectively. Despite the court decisions, Deder Police Commander Abadir Yuya
claimed they were not valid and needed to be reviewed. Since then, the mob has
continued harassing the Mengistu family.
did our best try to defend our faith based on the law of the country and with
all our resources, including ICC budget, to pay for our legal expenses. Muslims
are out of the control of the government and the law. What can we do?"
Muslim rioters have resumed construction of a mosque on the Mengistu property
and have designated the structure as a voting precinct, having placed a ballot
box there for the upcoming national election, Sunday, May 24. ICC's Ethiopia
staffer says the mob has employed this strategy in an attempt to legally justify
are expanding their new mosque and building fences," Mengistu's wife said
fearfully. She remains with her five children, aged mother-in-law, and 30 other
Christians praying on the property. "Please help me protect my land and
secure my family and the fellow Christians," she continued.
main culprits perpetuating the illegal construction include Zone Police
representative Abdi, militia leader Heder Abdi, and District Administrator Tajur
Shami, who ordered the militia to protect the project.
is working with the Ethiopian Lawyers Association to advocate for the Mengistu
family's property rights. Progress has stalled until after the election because
government officials remain focused on election-related issues at this time.
urges all concerned readers to contact East Harerge Zone Administrator Asegid at
+251-91-574-44-56, the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice at +251-11-554-18-68, or
Ethiopian Ambassador Girma Birru at (202) 274-4570 and express their desire for
justice and protection for Mengistu and his family.
Regional Manager of Africa Troy Augustine said, "The continued harassment of
the Mengistu family in Deder is unacceptable. Governing authorities in the
region are charged to uphold the Ethiopian law and the decisions of the courts
instead of bending to pressure from the religious majority or worse,
participating in the persecution of Christians through illegal activities. These
men should be stripped of their authority if they fail to uphold the Ethiopian
law and religious freedom guaranteed for all Ethiopian citizens in the
The four students were
ordered to be held for additional forty-five days for investigation of defaming
Islam in video
05/20/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that
four students were ordered to remain in prison in Beni Mazar, Egypt for an
additional forty-five days at a hearing held today. The four were taken into
custody on April 9, when their parents delivered them to the police station,
following a series of riots and death threats against the students, their
families, and other Christians in Al-Nasriyah village.
While on a school trip, the
four students recorded a video in which they can be seen mimicking the brutal actions
of the jihadist group ISIS that brutally beheads its victims, as it did to 21 Christians on a beach in Libya, while professing religious
When the video was
discovered by some of those in the village violent protests broke out from April
7-10, as World Watch Monitor reported. The imprisonment of the four students and the teacher
quelled some of the protests, though a few Christian homes were still attacked
with Molotov cocktails, even after the five were detained.
On April 17, a
reconciliation meeting was held in which, to limit the outrage of the Muslim
community and to protect them from continued attacks, Christian leaders
condemned what had happened and formally banned the teacher, Gad Younan, from
the village "in order to preserve his life and to calm the situation in the
village," according to the document published by World Watch Monitor.
A hearing was held on April
22 and again on May 4, in both cases the students had their imprisonment
extended for an additional 15 days, one of their attorneys, Maher Nagib Hanna,
told ICC. At the May 4 hearing, the judge ordered Younan to be released after
paying bail of 10,000 Egyptian Pounds ($1,300). The police refused to release
him for an additional ten days, Hanna told ICC, because he was banished from the
village according to the reconciliation meeting on April 17, the police required
his family to come and sign a vow promising that he would not return again to
"My brother is a
servant in the church, he served the people in the village, he didn't intend to
defame Islam," Samir Younan told ICC'a Egypt Representative. Gad is now
living in hiding. with his wife and two children, while waiting for the final
hearing when he may be convicted and could face as much as five years on the
charge of defaming Islam.
The students are set to
remain in prison for another month and a half where they continue to face
harassment and threats. "One of the Muslim prisoners told the students that the
police stirred them against them and said to them that these Christian students
insulted Islam," inciting them to harass the students, Hanna told
Today's decision to extend
the imprisonment of the students came as a surprise to their legal team.
"This verdict was unexpected, and the case of the teacher and the four
students is considered the first contempt of religion case in Beni Mazar
court," Hanna said. "Their verdict doesn't depend on applying the law
in this case, but on the climate of this case and the point of view of the
judge. The judge considers that the accused committed a great crime in that they
insulted his religion (Islam), so his decision depends on his personal opinion
and the climate of this case and satisfying the other angry Muslims, not the
law," he continued.
Accusations of defaming Islam continue to plague Egypt even since the election
of President Sisi. As ICC reported in 2014, Kerolos Shawky was charged with blasphemy for liking a Facebook
page. He remains in hiding, but has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Christian convert Bishoy Armia Boulos continues to languish in prison under
charges of blasphemy related to his conversion to Christianity. On May 5, Michael Mounir Beshay was convicted of defaming Islam and
sentenced to one year in prison.
Todd Daniels, regional
manager for the Middle East said, "The continued imprisonment of these four
students is a terrible miscarriage of justice and shows the need for serious
reforms to fully protect the rights of Egypt's religious minorities. The change
must come both from the bottom up - putting an end to violent mobs protesting
outside of homes, burning property - and from the top down - a judicial system
that does not act simply to quell public outrage. While Egypt has an important
role to play in countering violent extremism in the region, it must address the
issues of extremism it has domestically. We urge the Egyptian legal system to
rule on the case of the four students and the teacher according to the law, and
not merely bending to public pressure to
Scott Stewart of Statfor.com defines situational awareness as "being aware of one's surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations." That is an okay definition as for as it goes, but is primarily limited to immediate (in both time and location), physical and external threats.
A better definition of situational awareness should incorporate the concept of "environmental scanning" from the business world (especially public relations). BusinessDictionary.com defines environmental scanning as "careful monitoring of an organization's internal and external environments for detecting early signs of opportunities and threats that may influence its current and future plans."
This definition looks for opportunities as well as threats. It expands the scope beyond the immediate, to include developing trends that may lead to future threats and opportunities. It includes not just danger from physical threats, but other threats (political, financial, etc.) as well. Finally, it adds the idea of not just looking at the external situation, but also the internal situation.
A Mindset, not a Skill Set
Situational awareness is more of an attitude - a mindset, rather than a skill set. It is something you need to consciously do on a continuous basis as you go about your normal day-to-day activities. Make it a habit.
There is no need for special training or specialized skills. What is need is thoughtfulness of purpose, rather than distraction, and a willingness to pay attention and to trust your instincts (if a situation doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right).
Realize that you need to be aware of your surroundings everywhere you go. Don't let your guard down just because you are somewhere you feel safe. Bad things don't just happen in bad neighborhoods, but can happen in good neighborhoods as well.
Know what is "normal" for where you are and what's going on around you. Pay close attention to anything that is outside the expected normal. Observe what is going own around you, and evaluate it against what you would expect to be happening.
Part of observing is being able to actually see what is going own. Position yourself to be able to see what is happening around you. This may mean seating with your back to a wall rather than turning your back on the room. It may mean seating where you can observe doors and windows. It means parking in a well-light, highly visible spot. It means avoiding dark alleys.
Don't get so focused on something (your smart phone, your I-Pod, a conversation, reading a book while waiting, that attractive lady in a mini-skirt, or whatever) that you tune out everything else going on around you. This is sometimes called focus-lock.
Micro and Macro
There are two types of situational awareness - the micro and the macro. Both are should be practiced. Micro looks at your immediate surroundings (your neighborhood & community, your workplace, the store you're in, the people around you, the parking lot, the road you're driving on, and so forth). Macro looks at the bigger picture, such as local, regional, national and international events that may affect you in some way.
Micro: As you go about your day, maintain awareness of your physical surroundings. This is the people and activity where you are at the moment. Don't get so involved with your smart phone or I-Pod that you ignore what is going on around you. Stay aware of your immediate surroundings and any
potential risks and threats. Are you parking in a highly visible, well-light location near the entrance to minimize chances of ambush & muggings?
Pay attention to the people around you and what they are doing. Is anyone acting suspicious or nervous? Is anyone loitering, or otherwise looks out-of-place? Are you making yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car? Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, do you look out a window first to identify possible dangers?
Macro: Stay informed of the news (local, national, global). Know your elected officials in Washington, and keep up with what they are doing. Especially pay attention to the flow of money - who are their donors?, who benefits from their efforts?, how are they spending your money? How will any pending legislation affect you? Same goes for your elected officials on the state and local level.
Know your community and how it works: Who are its local politicians, important bureaucrats, community leaders? What are the local power & water sources? How well do you know the roads in and around your community? (hint: you shouldn't need GPS or google maps to find your way around where you live without getting lost.) Do you know the "bad areas" of town to avoid? Pay close attention to economic and business news. How well is your company and industry doing? (Layoffs are never really a surprise to those paying close attention.) Do you know how safe & stable your bank and insurance companies are? Pay attention to their bottom lines and management shake-ups to avoid nasty surprises.
How Might It Affect Me?
When looking for future threats, ask yourself: How might it affect me?
For example, if you here about a new shopping center to be built near your neighborhood, ask How will that new shopping center affect me? Answers might be positive - such as shorter shopping trips, more employment opportunities, and increased home value. And, the answers might be negative, such as more traffic, higher crime, or more pollution.
Think about how the actions of the local government, such as annexations and changes in zoning laws, might affect you.
Also, consider the how changing economic conditions in your area might affect you. A local factory closing and laying off 100s of people might affect you in many ways even if you don't work there. Think through how the actions of others (government, businesses, people) might affect you.
Don't Forget the Internal
We mostly think of threats coming from outside, but often threats come from within ourselves. How is your health - physical and emotional? Are you gaining weight? Losing fitness? Developing health problems? Developing addictions or bad habits? Notice your eyesight getting worse? Are you maintaining your current job skills? Are you learning the new job skills you need? Are you sinking into credit card debt? When is the last time your went to the gun range? Are you as good a shot as you used to be? When is the last time you had a first aid refresher course? Situational awareness needs to include an honest appraisal of yourself.
Don't forget about your stuff. Be aware of any developing problems with your home or vehicle. Are you going to need a new roof anytime soon? Are the batteries in your smoke detector getting weak? Are your car's brakes starting to squeak?
Washington, DC (International Christian Concern) - More than 70
Christians have been murdered in the past month in Plateau State, Nigeria,
including one pastor. The body count has piled up after at least a half dozen
attacks perpetrated by Muslim Fulani cattle herders. They frequently terrorize
Christian farmers in central Nigeria's "Middle Belt" states of Plateau, Bauchi,
Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, and others.
herdsmen regularly raid Christian villages opening up a hail of gunfire, burning
homes and churches, and shooting their victims when they run outside to escape
jihadists, in their quest to eliminate Christians in Plateau State and their
thirst for blood, have succeeded in killing Christians and burning their
houses," said Gyang, a local man whose full name is withheld to protect
most deadly attack occurred on May 2 when herdsmen reportedly set fire to the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN)
located in Foron town, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area (LGA), killing 27
Christians. The victims included Rev. Luka Gwom and a congregant named Pauline
who was married just two weeks prior in the same church building.
recent raids have all occurred in two areas of Plateau State: Barkin Ladi and
Riyom LGAs. These frightening experiences have become nearly a weekly terror for
Christians in the region. From April 25 to May 11, Gyang reported at least six
attacks on more than eight villages, some of them targeted more than once during
that time span.
in Riyom and Barkin Ladi LGAs have been under siege and invasion. Lives have
been lost almost every day, and [there is] no serious action from any quarter by
the government. But we are still faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,"
Gyang said as he recounted an attack that killed two members of the Rim town
community as they were returning from the burial of fellow Christians who were
slaughtered in a Fulani raid that happened just days before.
this recent string of assaults is nothing new for brothers and sisters in Christ
in central Nigeria. In mid-March, Muslim Fulani cattle herders massacred 82
Christians in a village in Benue State, according to Nigerian news reports. However, the secular media
and Nigerian authorities have been slow to acknowledge these events as Christian
is the longstanding issue over grazing rights and cattle rustling between Egba
and Fulani people," police spokesman Ezeala Austin said after the March attack.
the historic tensions Austin cites, witnesses to the assaults often recount that
the herdsmen chanted "Allahu Akhbar" during the attack, the Arabic saying, "God
is Great," which has become associated with jihadist Muslim terrorism. The
herdsmen also continually and specifically target Christian villages.
Plateau State government official vaguely referenced recent incidents of cattle
rustling by predominantly-Christian tribes in Wase LGA in connection to the
attacks of the past month, but reports suggest no linkage between the events. Wase LGA is
located 160 miles away from Barkin Ladi and Riyom.
Christian Concern's Regional Manager of Africa Troy Augustine said, "The world
should wake up to the forgotten persecution happening all over Nigeria's
Middle-Belt. Extremist Muslim Fulani herders are regularly and consciously
attacking Christian villages and slaughtering our brothers and sisters in
Christ. I don't know what else needs to be explained to acknowledge that these
people are persecuted because of their faith. While the world rightly remembers
and prays for Christians in northern Nigeria under threat from Boko Haram, let
us not forget those who live under daily suffering at the hands of jihadists
also happening in central Nigeria."
I read today another well-meaning, but wrong, article on the "gray man" disguise. It seems to have become a trend among some prepper folks to point out that camo (or black, or olive drab, or whatever), isn't really a gray man disguise - that, in fact, it makes you stand out. Well, depending on where you live, they are simply wrong.
It is true that the idea behind the gray man is to not stand out, to look like just any other Average Joe or Jane. You don't want to appear to have money or other valuables, so you don't make yourself a target of criminals. You don't want to look like you have lots of food or other supplies, so you don't make yourself a target of looters or desperate folks. You don't want to look like you are military, or police, or other official, so you don't make yourself a target of protesters or rioters. And you don't want to look like you are part of a militia group, so you don't make yourself the target of the government.
You don't want to look impressive so as to attract attention, but at the same time you don't want to appear weak, so as to attract the attention of predators. It is a balancing act.
(By the way, you don't want to "dress down" so much that you look like a thug or criminal. That will also draw unwanted attention.)
However, looking like just any other Average Joe or Jane depends on what the Average Joe or Jane in your area looks like. If you are in the financial district of Chicago, or live in Manhattan, you will stick out like a sore thumb dressed in camo and boots. You'd probably fit in more by wearing a three-piece suit or a really nice dress.
However, in the mountains of Western NC, where there are lots and lots of farmers, hunters, and other good ol' country boys, the Average Joe (and even the Average Jane) actually wears camo in their everyday life. This was true before Duck Dynasty, and is even more true now that the Duck guys have made camo fashionable. Go to a Wal-mart or Target near where I live, and you will see lots of folks wearing camo. It is the guy wearing a three-piece suit and Italian dress shoes that stands out here.
Other areas of the country are different. Some places you might blend in better by wearing a jersey and ball cap of the local sports team. Other places, the gray man disguise might consist of khakis, a golf shirt, and penny loafers.
The point is, the gray man disguise will vary depending on where you are. There is no one right way, or wrong way, to be the gray man. You may even need to change up your gray man disguise as you travel from place to place.
I cannot tell you how to be the gray man. Anyone who tries to say that a gray man must wear this, or cannot wear that, is simply wrong.
What you need to do is simply pay attention to those around you. How does the Average Joe dress in your area? What do they drive? And so forth... The idea is to look like the average local - neither impressive nor weak. In some areas, that might even mean wearing camo....