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Guinea: Baptism Service Violently Attacked

November 4, 2005

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 351 - Wed 02 Nov 2005

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GUINEA: BAPTISM SERVICE VIOLENTLY ATTACKED
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Nzerekore is located in the Forest Region of southeastern Guinea,
close to where the borders of Liberia, Ivory Coast and Guinea meet.
The region is awash with bored ex-soldiers, illegal weapons and
illegal immigrants. The wider region, especially neighbouring Ivory
Coast, is simmering with ethnic and religious tensions. Guinea is
85.4 percent Muslim, 9.7 percent African Traditional Religion
(ATR), and 4.7 percent Christian. After decades of Marxist, pro-
Islamic persecution of the Church, there is now religious freedom
in Guinea. The Guinean Church has embraced mission and in the past
decade indigenous workers have begun witnessing cross-culturally to
previously unreached people groups. The Guinean Church is growing.
But in recent years, as Islam has radicalised worldwide, the
Christian minority in Guinea have found themselves increasingly on
the painful end of a revived Islamic intolerance.

On Wednesday 19 October, a baptism ceremony in Nzerekore was
attacked by Muslims complaining about the music from the service
disturbing their prayers at a nearby mosque. Ten people were
injured, two seriously, and several houses were sacked. The Muslims
rioted again on the Friday evening and razed a local video store.
Elite soldiers had to be deployed to restore calm. Several guns
were confiscated and a curfew was imposed. Over the weekend some
100 people were arrested, with 56 still detained.

The Christians belong to the Guerze ethnic group which has a long
history in the Forest Region of southeastern Guinea. Most Guerze
practise Christianity or ATR. The Muslims are Konianke, a sub-
group of the strongly Muslim Mandingo (or Malinki) people. The
Konianke migrated south from northern Guinea during the late
nineteenth century when Guinea was under French rule. There has
been ethnic tension ever since, as the tribes compete for land and
resources. Religious tension, stemming from ethnic tension, has
escalated further as Islam has radicalised and revived its historic
intolerance. The ethnic-religious tension has grown to crisis
levels since the end of the Liberian War in August 2003, when many
hundreds of Liberian Konianke rebels fled into southeastern Guinea,
blending there with the thousands of Liberian refugees and
protected by their fellow Konianke.

Ethnic-religious violence erupted in Nzerekore on 16 June 2004 when
a Guerze youth on a motorcycle accidentally ran into a crowd
leaving a mosque. Of the 238 people arrested, 234 were Konianke and
90 percent were Liberian. Two people died in that clash, but the
toll would have been much higher had the Guinean security forces
not moved so quickly to quell the fighting. The most recent
incident - Muslims attacking a baptism ceremony because they could
hear church music - has all the hallmarks of intolerant Muslims
wanting to establish dominance and even reject religious liberty.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT:

* God will protect, comfort and preserve the minority Christians of
Guinea, especially those in the southeast Forest Region amidst
volatile tensions and erupting violence; may he renew their
strength and bless their witness, for his glory and Kingdom.

* Christ, supreme over all powers and authorities and sovereign
over all creation, will bring a spirit of peace to Nzerekore,
severing the spiritual shackles of those bound to darkness while
light is in their midst. \'So if the Son sets you free, you will
be free indeed.\' (John 8:36 NIV)

* pastors, evangelists and all believers will have great spiritual
understanding to respond with wisdom and grace to the escalating
Muslim presence, dominance and intolerance.

* the government and authorities will continue to protect the
security of Christians and uphold justice and religious liberty
in Guinea, and especially that God will use President Conte to do
his will; may God open his heart to receive the gospel.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
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BAPTISM SERVICE VIOLENTLY ATTACKED IN GUINEA

After decades of Marxist, pro-Islamic oppression and persecution,
the Church in Guinea, West Africa, is now free and growing.
However, in the Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, Muslim tribes
who migrated from the north compete with Christian and animist
peoples for land and resources. Compounding this ethnic tension is
the increase in Islamic intolerance as Islam has radicalised.
Exacerbating the pressure is the large influx there of Liberian
Muslim rebels after the Liberian War ended in August 2003. On
Wednesday 19 October 2005, Muslims attacked a Christian baptism
ceremony in Nzerekore, angry that church music was \'disturbing\'
their prayers at the nearby mosque. Some believers were injured and
several homes sacked. The Muslims rioted again on the Friday. Over
100 people were arrested. Please pray for the Church in this
volatile region.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.