Dean Franck is a first year student in the Master's of Divinity Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.
The Orthodox Christian Network features the important work of organizations that promote religious freedom, defend Christian Rights, and stand against Christian persecution. You have our resounding commitment to be a resource of compassion, a voice of help, and an active participant to helping all in need.
On Friday, November 20, 2015, Islamic extremists descended upon the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali. The terrorists, armed with guns and grenades, stormed the hotel floors and took many hostages. The local security forces were able to respond to the act of terror and liberate many hostages, but 18 bodies had been found dead by the time all hostages were freed. It was noted that special operations forces from both American and France assisted the local troops in their response to the terrifying situation.
The former Al-Qaida leader Moktar Belmoktar said that he was responsible. Mali was once a French colony and many took this as another militaristic move towards France, after the horrible attack in Paris last week (article). The NY Times reports, “As people ran for their lives near the luxury hotel along a dirt road, the soldiers in full combat gear pointed the way to safety, sometimes escorting civilians with a protective arm around their shoulders. Within hours, local TV images showed heavily armed troops in what appeared to be a lobby area, apparently led by a white officer. Malian state TV reported that 80 people have been freed. An extremist group that two years ago split from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch and led by Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for the attack, in a recorded statement carried by Al-Jazeera. The group said it wanted fighters freed from Mali’s prisons and for attacks against northern Malians to stop (article).”
President Barack Obama has been keeping a close eye on all the situations at hand. The U.S. special forces were very involved in the hostage rescue efforts in Mali. There were at least six Americans staying in the hotel at the time. “Ten gunmen had stormed the hotel shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” in Arabic before firing on the guards, Traore said. A staffer at the hotel who gave his name as Tamba Diarra said over the phone while the attack was in progress that the jihadis used grenades in the assault. French President Francois Hollande said: ‘We should yet again stand firm and show our solidarity with a friendly country, Mali.’” – NY Times
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HOW YOU CAN HELP IN DEFENSE OF REFUGEES
We invite you to share with the Orthodox Christian Network substantive philanthropies that are coming to the aid of all that are persecuted. Notable is the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) whom “in the spirit of Christ’s love, offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond”. The IOCC has undertaken significant initiatives to help save Syria’s children whom are displaced or living as refugees. Notably 92% of every dollar donated to the IOCC “directly helps those affecting dire situations”.
“You can help the victims of poverty and conflicts around the world by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund which will provide immediate relief, as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit iocc.org or call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297.
An additional notable philanthropy is “The Barnabas Fund’s Operation Safe Havens program which has pressed governments to issue visas to persecuted Christians, on condition that the organization will foot their expenses”. Operation Safe Havens was featured in an August 20, 2015, editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Robert R. Reilly, director of the Westminster Institute in McLean, Va.
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