Churchgoer killed in IS attack in Chechnya

So-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for a shooting in a Russian Orthodox Church in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny where a church member was killed.

Four men broke into the Russian Orthodox Church on Saturday during a service. There were approximately 30 people inside when the attack started.

Seven people were killed in the attack – two police officers who were guarding the church, one church member and the four militants.

Two more security officers and one church member were injured. They are now recovering in hospital.

The attack on the church was planned; the attackers intended to capture the church with all the worshippers inside as it is Ramadan.

The Quran says good deeds are ‘given manifold reward’ during Ramadan which is often used to justify attacks by Islamic extremists. Therefore, Christians in predominantly Muslim countries often experience increased violence during this Ramadan.

So-called Islamic state has taken the responsibility for the attack and attempted seizure of the church.

Christianity In Chechnya

All Christians face violence and pressure in Muslim majority Chechnya. Converts from Islam face the most persecution as they are considered to be betraying their national identity because Christianity is associated with Russia.

For converts from Islam, Christian ceremonies such as baptism are impossible. Raising children according to Christian beliefs is difficult too, since all children are expected to learn about Islam. Children of known converts are ‘retrained’ by the wider family to make sure they know the ‘right way to be Chechen’ and in some cases they may be taken away from their Christian parents.

Converts can lose their inheritance rights and their Muslim spouse may be pressured to file for divorce.

In the north of Chechnya there have been cases where converts are put under house-arrest by their families to force them to reject their new faith. Over the years, dozens of Christian converts have had to flee their homes and take refuge in safe houses. It is very difficult for them to return home.

Erin James

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