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Yonge-Dundas Square concert ban Christian bigotry

Yonge-Dundas-Square-Toronto

Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto Ontario Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Canada. Let’s call it like it is: Our society views some cultures and creeds as more equal than others. Simply put: Christians are fair game for unfair treatment.

The latest case of unabashed anti-Christian bigotry hails from the heart of our nation’s most populous city. A Christian concert has literally been banned from Toronto’s public square.

Voices of the Nations (VOTN) has been using city property since 2006 for their annual multi-denominational event that celebrates Christianity through peaceful praise and worship. While the group used Yonge-Dundas Square for the past five years without issue, the City of Toronto is refusing to grant VOTN a permit for next year’s music festival. Read More

STOP, be still! Can you hear that?

Who has held the oceans in His hands? Who has numbered every grain of sand? Kings and nations tremble at His voice. All creation rises to rejoice

Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

Who has given counsel to the Lord? Who can question any of His Words? Who can teach the One who knows all things? Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon His hands bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave. Jesus, Savior risen now to reign! (Behold Our God, original lyrics)

STOP, be still. Turn off the all that distracts you. Shhh, be silent and listen. Can you hear that? The ONE who loves you is calling your name…Go to HIM!

 

U.S. State Dept. Bars Christians from Testifying about Persecution

 

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  • “This is an administration which never seems to find a good enough excuse to help Christians, but always finds an excuse to apologize for terrorists … I hope that as it gets attention that Secretary Kerry will reverse it. If he doesn’t, Congress has to investigate, and the person who made this decision ought to be fired” — Newt Gingrich, former Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives.

  • “The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram… The question remains — why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?” — Emmanuel Ogebe, Nigerian human rights lawyer, Washington D.C.
  • “Stop building churches. Convert to Islam, which is the true religion. Otherwise we will make a horrible example of you.” — Javed David, head of Hope for the Light Ministries, quoting a biker.
  • The Free Front of Algeria demands that all Christian churches remaining in the North African nation must be closed and reopened as mosques.
  • A Muslim mob in Deder, Ethiopia attacked a Christian man and forced him out of his home on pain of death in an effort to appropriate his land and build a mosque on it — despite recent court rulings confirming the Christian man’s property rights.
  • Accounts of Muslim immigrants taunting and even assaulting Christians in Italy are increasing.
  • “We are a poor nation. These people [Christian captives] have not done anything wrong and won’t harm anyone. We as Assyrians do not have this amount of [ransom] money you are asking for” — Bishop Mar Mellis, Syria.

During the height of one of the most brutal months of Muslim persecution of Christians, the U.S. State Department exposed its double standards against persecuted Christian minorities.

Sister Diana, an influential Iraqi Christian leader, who was scheduled to visit the U.S. to advocate for persecuted Christians in the Mideast, was denied a visa by the U.S. State Department even though she had visited the U.S. before, most recently in 2012.

She was to be one of a delegation of religious leaders from Iraq — including Sunni, Shia and Yazidi, among others — to visit Washington, D.C., to describe the situation of their people. Every religious leader from this delegation to Washington D.C. was granted a visa — except for the only Christian representative, Sister Diana.

After this refusal became public, many Americans protested, some writing to their congressmen. Discussing the nun’s visa denial, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said:

This is an administration which never seems to find a good enough excuse to help Christians, but always finds an excuse to apologize for terrorists … I hope that as it gets attention that Secretary Kerry will reverse it. If he doesn’t, Congress has to investigate, and the person who made this decision ought to be fired.

The State Department eventually granted Sister Diana a visa.

This is not the first time the U.S. State Department has not granted a visa to a Christian leader coming from a Muslim region. Last year, after the United States Institute for Peace brought together the governors of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang.

According to a Nigerian human rights lawyer based in Washington D.C., Emmanuel Ogebe, the Christian governor’s “visa problems” were due to anti-Christian bias in the U.S. government:

The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram. It also claims that Christians discriminate against Muslims in Plateau, which is one of the few Christian majority states in the north. After the [Christian governor] told them [U.S. authorities] that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems…. The question remains — why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?

The testimony of another nun, Sister Hatune Dogan, also made in May, indicates why the State Department may not want to hear such testimonials: they go against the paradigm that “Islam is peace.” According to Sister Hatune:

What is going on there [Islamic State territories], what I was hearing, is the highest barbarism on earth in the history until today… The mission of Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please. Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this is, he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS… We know that in Islam, there is no democracy. Islam and democracy are opposite, like black and white. And I hope America will understand. America today has the power that they can stop this disaster on the earth, with other Western countries.

The rest of May’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed by theme.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Pakistan: Three separate incidents involved attacks on churches:

1) On May 28, in the city of Chakwal, south of Lahore, Muslim men destroyed a Protestant church and beat six Christians, including the pastor. Some of those wounded had to be hospitalized. A few days earlier, Pastor Suhail Masih and his companions had been accused by local Muslims of carrying out “proselytism and conversions of Muslims,” according to a preliminary report.

2) Javed David, head of Hope for the Light Ministries in Lahore, and his associates, have beenreceiving death threats since February. The latest incident occurred in April, but became public knowledge only in May. According to David:

I had been to church in Sheikhupura to attend a meeting with colleagues. It was 8 o’clock in the evening when we left to return to Lahore. We were about to reach the main road when a motorbike drove up and blocked the way. Maybe they were following us. The two bikers were wearing a helmet (sic). One of them came up to my window and spoke to me. “We know what you are doing here,” he said. “Stop building churches. Convert to Islam, which is the true religion. Otherwise we will make a horrible example of you.”… [On another] occasion too, I was going home when a motorcycle stopped in front of me. The driver knocked on the window and threw in a piece of paper. I did not open it before I got home. It said, “This is an Islamic nation. We cannot allow church building. Either you convert to Islam or you leave this country! Stop building churches or you’ll pay the consequences!”

3) On May 29 in Faisalabad, around 2 a.m., a gang of Muslims on motorcycles attacked a church near the Sadar police station. They opened fire on the church and set its main gate on fire, damaging its windows. According to church cleric Dilawar Masih, “Though no human loss was reported in this incident, attackers gave a clear-cut message that Christians and their places of worship are not safe and they may be attacked any time by the terrorists.”

Egypt: Two churches were attacked:

1) On May 16, a homemade explosive device planted next to a Coptic Christian church was detonated around sunset. As the St. George Church in Tamiya (Fayum governorate) was mostly empty at the time, there were no casualties. However, the church’s administrative offices and second floor windows were shattered, creating chaos and panic in the area. Church security cameras captured the two men on a motorcycle, who stopped at the church. One of the men dismounted and placed a bag containing the bomb next to the church, and they then sped off.

2) On Sunday morning, May 31 in Senoras city, Fayum, masked men on motorcycles opened fire on an Evangelical church. Security forces guarding the church briefly exchanged fire with the masked men before they fled on their motorcycles. No one was reported hurt.

Canada: On May 26, a 22-year-old man of Muslim background was charged with alleged hate crimes committed against the St. Catherine of Siena Church and its neighboring elementary school in Mississauga, Ontario. Iqbal Hessan faces five counts of mischief, and over $5,000 in fines. On May 20, the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue that stands in front of the church was covered in black paint and the fingers of its outstretched arms were broken off. Behind the church, graffiti with the words “There is no Jew God” was scrawled across the brick wall along with a drawing of a face labelled “Jewsus.” That vandalism was the fourth time the church was targeted. On April 9, surveillance cameras caught a young man breaking into the church, ripping pages of the Sacramentary book on the altar, throwing them at the tabernacle, and then stealing one of the church’s sound-system speakers. On May 17, a drawing of a hand gesturing with the middle finger was found spray-painted on the front steps of the church. And on May 25, graffiti was sprayed on the school walls.

The St. Catherine of Siena Church and its neighboring elementary school in Mississauga, Ontario were vandalized this year by Iqbal Hessan, a 22-year-old Muslim man.

The St. Catherine of Siena Church and its neighboring elementary school in Mississauga, Ontario were vandalized this year by Iqbal Hessan, a 22-year-old Muslim man.

Algeria: According to Abdel Fattah Zarawi, the Muslim leader of the Salafi party, also known as the Free Front of Algeria, any and all Christian churches remaining in the North African nation must be closed and reopened as mosques. Although the transformation of Christian churches into Muslim mosques is nearly as old as Islam itself — Algeria was Christian-majority and even gave the world St. Augustine before Islam invaded and conquered it in the seventh century — the Salafi leader tried to portray his proposal as a “grievance” against rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, especially France. Launched on social media and networks, the Salafi campaign against Algerian churches even calls for the transformation of the nation’s most important churches into mosques — including the Church of Notre Dame d’Afrique in Algiers, the Church of St. Augustine in Annaba, and the Church of Santa Cruz in Oran — since “they have no relation whatsoever to the religion of Algerian Muslims,” in the words of the Free Front.

Saudi Arabia: Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani, former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and current prayer leader of Muhaisin Mosque in Riyadh, issued a tweet from his personal Twitter account, saying, “My beloved nation: It suffices me that you shelter me from hearing church bells ringing in you.” Due to his importance, the New York Times once issued an entire spread about al-Kalbani. The “hopeful” theme is how al-Kalbani managed to rise to the top in Saudi Arabia by becoming the first black Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. No word in any English language media, however, about his abhorrence for Christian churches and their bells.

Turkey: A 900-year-old Christian church in Turkey is to be renovated into a functioning mosque — despite previous governmental assurances that it would be renovated into a museum. Enez’s Hagia Sophia, the name of the ancient church, is located inside the city of Ainos, along the border with Greece and stationed atop a hill, visible to all. Another centuries-old church, Hagia Sophia in Trabzon, along the Black Sea, was reopened in 2013 as a mosque, although it was a museum for many years. Meanwhile, a majority of Turks await there-transformation of the greatest Hagia Sophia (Constantinople’s) into a mosque.

Yemen: A Catholic church was seriously damaged during a Saudi bombing raid around mid-May. The church of the Immaculate Conception in Aden had earlier been occupied by Houthi rebels who had vandalized its interior. The airstrike by Saudi bombers — in support of the Yemeni government in its struggle with the rebels — did further damage to the structure. Only one Catholic priest remains in Yemen. Two priests fled the country to escape the violence, while another, who was out of the country when the fighting began, has been unable to return. Twenty members of the Missionaries of Charities have chosen to remain in the war-torn country, tending to the sick and the poor.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom


Pakistan: On Sunday, May 24, a Christian man in the Sanda neighborhood of Lahore wasaccused of blasphemy when some Muslims saw him burning newspapers that reportedly contained Arabic verses from the Koran. After the accusation, a Muslim mob caught the Christian, severely beat him, and even attempted to set him on fire. A few months earlier, another Muslim mob burned a Christian couple alive inside a kiln after they, too, were accused of insulting Islam. The Christian youth — named Humayun Masih, said to be “mentally unstable” — was imprisoned and charged under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, which prohibits the desecration of the Koran. After the attack on the Christian youth, the Muslim mob, reportedly thousands, rampaged through the neighborhood and set fire to Christian homes and a church. Christians in the region were attacked, and most fled the region; some of the mob was armed and gunshots were heard.

Egypt: On May 5, another Coptic Christian was convicted of blaspheming against Islam: “ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion” in violation of Article 98 (f) of the Egyptian Penal Code. A judge in Daqahliya sentenced Michael Munir Beshay to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of one thousand Egyptian pounds. As International Christian Concern puts it: “Despite steps taken by the Sisi-led government to bring about greater tolerance and reforms, the conviction of Beshay is just another of many recent incidents highlighting the continued persecution of the country’s Christian minority.”[1] And Bishoy Armia Boulous — formerly known as Mohammed Hegazy, an apostate from Islam to Christianity — has remained imprisoned now for approximately a year, well past the legal six-month investigation period. All this time, he has been subject to physical and verbal abuse, from both prison guards and fellow inmates, on account of his “apostasy” from, and “blasphemy” against, Islam. He has been denied a Bible and has not had eyeglasses since they were intentionally broken some time ago. [2]

Iran: Ibrahim Firouzi, a Muslim convert to Christianity, was sentenced to the maximum five years in prison for “action against national security through collusion and gathering.” After Firouzi converted to Christianity, he was arrested on August 25, 2013 and convicted of evangelizing, colluding with “anti-regime” foreign networks, launching a Christian website, and working against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although his prison term was supposed to end on January 13, 2015, authorities continued to hold him illegally, and on March 8 they sentenced him to serve another five years “in very difficult conditions.”

Dhimmitude

Syria: After failed negotiations, the Islamic State (IS) refused to release 242 Christian hostages captured during a late February raid along the Khabur River. On May 1, the IS demanded $242 million USD for the release of 93 women, 51 children, and 98 men taken captive. The Assyrian church, family and friends, unable to raise such a large sum, made a lesser, undisclosed offer, which IS rejected, saying it would no longer negotiate concerning the fate of the captive Christians. Based on Islamic law, their fate will now likely be slavery (especially women and children) or execution (especially men).[3]

Ethiopia: A Muslim mob in Deder attacked a Christian man and forced him out of his home on pain of death, in an effort to appropriate his land and build a mosque on it — despite recent court rulings confirming the Christian man’s property rights. “Their first plan was to kill my husband,” said Fikere Mengistu’s wife. “Now, he has escaped from the area. We are fasting and praying for God to rescue us from this forceful action.” She remains with her five children, elderly mother-in-law and 30 other Christians, praying on the property. “We did our best try to defend our faith based on the law of the country… Muslims are out of the control of the government and the law. What can we do?” said Mengistu.[4]

Iraq: Juliana George, a 16-year-old Christian girl living in Baghdad, was abducted from her home. According to her family, a person knocked on the door of their home and when she answered, she was seized by four men who forced her into a waiting taxi and sped away. Her grandfather, Joseph, a priest, chased the taxi on foot and grabbed its door, but eventually fell to the side as the vehicle sped away. She was eventually released after her family paid a $55,000 ransom to the abductors for her return. Juliana’s father, George, said that she has been traumatized by the experience: “I fear for her and my two other daughters…. There is no reason to believe that we will not be targeted again. I don’t see how we can stay in Baghdad after this.”

Turkey: On the same year that millions around the world commemorated the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Turkish authorities started the demolition of Kamp Armen, an Armenian orphanage in the metropolitan district of Tuzla, despite the attempts by some political representatives to intervene. The orphanage was built in 1962 on the initiative of the Armenian Protestant community. A brief historical recap of the orphanage follows:

Thanks to its activities, the institution has helped 1,500 children to grow up in an environment based on the spirituality and culture of Armenian Christianity. There was also Hrant Dink among its students, the Armenian Turkish journalist, founder of the bilingual magazine Agos, killed in 2007 after being repeatedly threatened with death for his positions on the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish State had expropriated the orphanage in 1987, and all legal attempt (sic) by the Armenian Protestant communities to regain control of the building fell on deaf ears.

Italian Dhimmitude

Accounts of Muslim immigrants taunting and even assaulting Christians in Italy are increasing. Earlier this year, a crucifix was violently destroyed in close proximity to a populated mosque, and a statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed and urinated on by a group of North Africans in Italy. In addition:

  • A Muslim schoolboy of African origin beat a 12-year-old girl at a school because she was wearing a crucifix around her neck. The boy, who had only started to attend the school a few weeks earlier, began to bully the Christian girl — “insulting her and picking on her in other ways all because she was wearing the crucifix” — before he finally assaulted her. Italian police did not charge the boy with any offense; they said he was a minor.
  • On Sunday, May 10, after church mass, a group of young Muslim immigrants from the Islamic Center interrupted a Catholic procession in honor of the Virgin Mary. They shouted verbal insults and threats as the group passed in front of the Islamic Cultural Center in Conselice, a small town in lower Romagna. Approximately 100 Catholic Christians, including several small children, were preparing to receive their first Holy Communion. They were reportedly stunned and confused and halted the procession before regrouping and hurrying past the Center.

Egyptian Dhimmitude

On Sunday, May 24, in the village of Kafr Darwish, just south of Cairo, a Muslim mob attackedCoptic Christian homes by throwing stones and Molotov explosives at them. More than 10 homes were torched and damaged. This attack was apparently prompted by a familiar narrative: one of the Coptic villagers, Ayman Youssef, was accused of posting cartoons offensive to Muhammad on his Facebook account. Youssef is illiterate and says he lost his mobile phone a few days before the alleged Facebook posting. Village elders and security representatives held a “conciliation session” and decreed that Youssef’s entire family — including the 80-year-old father and 75-year-old mother — must leave the village if angry Muslims were to calm down. The Christian family was told by the village mayor Ahmed Maher that police “cannot guarantee their safety if they remained in the village.”

Dr. Khaled Montaser, an Egyptian intellectual and frequent critic of the Islamization of the country, discussed how discrimination against Coptic Christians is widespread in certain medical professions. He said during a televised program that, although the pioneer of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Egypt was a Coptic Christian (Dr. Naguib Mahfouz), his grandson is banned from entering these professions because he is a Christian. Montaser confirmed that this policy, even if not a formal law, has caused Christian students increasingly to continue their studies abroad. He pointed out that this “policy” has become a norm — one of many that discriminates against Copts.

In a 25-minute interview on Arabic satellite TV with Dr. Mona Roman, Coptic Christian Bishop Agathon fully exposed the plight of his Christian flock in Minya, Egypt — a region that has a large Coptic minority that is steadily under attack. It was pointed out that the Egyptian state itself is often behind the persecution of and discrimination against Christians. According to the bishop, local governmental authorities — including the State Security apparatus — do not just ignore the attacks on Copts, but are often the very ones behind them.[5]

During a recent interview on Egyptian television, Dr. Yunis Makioun, head of the Al-Nour Party, the political wing of the Salafis, insisted that Islam commands Muslims to “protect” the nation’s Christian minority — a reference to their “dhimmi” status — and treat them properly. Even so, said the Salafi spokesman, Muslims, according to Islam, are forbidden to offer greetings or congratulations to Copts on any Christian holiday.

Coptic Kidnappings

Since the “Arab Spring” came to Egypt, the kidnapping of Coptic Christians has been on the rise. In Nag Hammadi alone, 77 persons have been abducted, and two killed.

Makram Nazir , a 55-year-old Coptic Christian man was kidnapped and killed. Nazir was returning home from his second job in the middle of the night on April 26, when he was seized. His abductors called his brother and demanded a million Egyptian pounds (equivalent of $131,000 USD). As it was an impossible amount to raise, the Coptic man’s family negotiated a significantly reduced price by phone with the abductors. The brother went to the local police station, provided them with all the information, including recordings of the phone calls, but, according to Watan News, “no one made a single move or took the matter seriously.” After paying the ransom, three days passed before Nazir’s family found the Coptic man’s corpse in a canal. Killing Christian hostages even after being paid the ransom is not uncommon in Egypt. The same happened to 6-year-old Cyril Joseph: on May 2013, it was reported that his “family is in tatters after paying 30,000 pounds [about $4000 USD] to the abductor, who still killed the innocent child and threw his body in the sewer system, where the body, swollen and moldy, was exhumed.”

Armed gunmen seized an 8-year-old Coptic Christian child, Antonious Zaki Hani, who was walking with his mother to school in Nag Hammadi. Four armed gunmen appeared, forced the child from his mother on the threat of death, and fled in a car. The kidnappers demanded two million Egyptian pounds ($262,000 USD) in ransom. Police eventually released the boy 17 days after he was kidnapped, although some activists say police knew earlier where the boy was being held.

On May 2, another Coptic Christian girl, Marina Magdi Fahim, 17, vanished after leaving her home around midday in the Hanofil region of Alexandria. Her family reported her disappearance to the authorities. Human rights activists say the girl was not reported injured at any hospital — a sign that she was kidnapped. She has not been seen since.

A few days earlier, another 17-year old Coptic Christian was kidnapped in the village of al-Kom al-Qibliyya in Samalout. An eyewitness said he saw a Muslim neighbor named Ahmed Khalifa seize the girl. Although the family planned to organize a protest, the village elders counseled against it, lest it backfire by provoking more of the area’s Muslims to retaliate against the Christian minority of the region, as often happens whenever Copts ask for their human rights.

About this Series

While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians is expanding. “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some — by no means all — of the instances of persecution that surface each month.

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

It posits that such persecution is not random but systematic, and takes place in all languages, ethnicities and locations.


[1] Beshay’s case is only one of several concerning Christians accused of, and punished for, insulting Islam. In April, Gad Yunan, a Coptic Christian teacher, and some of his Coptic students, were arrested on the charge of insulting Islam. Their crime was to have made a 30-second video on Yunan’s iPhone mocking the Islamic State — which Egypt’s Muslims and authorities apparently equate with mocking Islam, even as Muslims in the West insist ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam. Last year, Kerolos Shouky Attallah, a young Coptic Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam for simply “liking” an Arabic-language Facebook page administered by an anonymous group of Christian converts, was sentenced to six years in prison. The Copt did not make any comments on the site, share any of the postings or upload anything to it, and removed his name from the page once he realized that it might offend Muslims. In the hours preceding the sentencing, a rioting mob burned down several Christian-owned shops. He remains in hiding.

[2] According to lawyer Karam Ghobrial, the reason his client is being held and tortured in prison has to do with what made Bishoy notorious some years back in the first place: his audacity not only to convert to Christianity, but to try formally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his ID card — prompting much public animosity and death threats against him at the time.

[3] According to Bishop Mar Mellis:

We tried many times to negotiate with the people that captured them and for their release.

We offered them an amount of money in accordance with the law of jizya but sadly after a week the negotiator between us returned and told us that ISIS wanted $100,000 for each person. They were asking for over $23 million.

We are a poor nation. These people [Christian captives] have not done anything wrong and won’t harm anyone. We as Assyrians do not have this amount of money you are asking for. We offered an amount of money that we cannot disclose at this time. With the amount we offered, we thought it was acceptable, to have the return of the 230 people.

After two days, they [Islamic State] told us: “The amount the church offered was not acceptable. From now on, we will no longer negotiate with you.” We then thought we would wait, hoping they would come back to talk. Sadly, we received word that the 230 kidnapped people will be sent to the Court of Sharia in Raqqa, where a Muslim judge from Mosul will deliver their fate.

In the context of these ongoing attacks that the ancient Assyrian Christian community has been exposed to, particularly at the hands of IS, Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East declared before a European parliament on human rights that “Assyrian Christians are facing a danger that threatens their existence in their historical regions.”

[4] According to International Christian Concern:

Fikere 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…. 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.

[5] For example, when the Copts were having a serious council meeting with government officials about the possibility of building a church, one of the authorities actually contacted the Islamic sheikhs of the village asking whether they “stand with the Coptic church or with the State?” If the latter, each Muslim household was instructed to send one family member to protest against the proposed building of a church — so that security can then point to the mob and, as usual, just tell the Copts, “Sorry, no can do.”

Other times, State Security is complicit: Male and female Christian minors — currently 21 from just Minya alone, said the Coptic leader — are habitually abducted by surrounding Muslims. At the moment, the youngest Christian girl abducted had just started elementary school. Whenever any of these attacks occur, Copts, working with the church, prepare bundles of documents, including photos and other verifications, incriminating the culprits. These then are placed into the hands of top officials, to make sure they don’t get “lost” or “misplaced” by underlings. The bishop named many of these top people — at no small risk to himself — and said he even put such proofs and documents into the hands of the Director of Intelligence himself. “Absolutely nothing was done,” said the despondent Christian.

He discussed the difficulties that Copts encounter whenever they want to build a church — due to their dearth, some of the current churches serve tens of thousands of Christians — or even make simple repairs. By way of example, he explained how the Virgin Mary Church in Safaniya village has no bathrooms or running water. Christians “tried time and time again to get approval to build bathrooms, to no avail.” The bishop lamented how elderly and sick people sometimes urinate on themselves during service, while mothers must change their crying babies’ diapers right on the pews.

In response, authorities told the bishop to “Go and ask the Muslims of your region if they will approve the building of a church, or bathroom, or anything — and if they do, so will we.”

It should be noted that Islamic law specifically bans the construction or repair of churches.

Clearly frustrated, the bishop added: “We as Copts are human beings. And envy takes us when we see our Muslim brothers build mosques where they will, how they will, at any place and at any time. And the State helps them! But as for us, we cannot build anything and that which is already open is being closed…. We, the Copts, are citizens with rights; and we see Muslims get whatever they want, while we are always prevented.”

The Coptic bishop also said that sometimes Christians are punished whenever they go and “bother” authorities about their treatment. For example, when a Coptic delegation went to make a formal complaint, one of them was immediately kidnapped. His kidnappers demanded and received 120,000 Egyptian pounds for his release. Police were notified — even told where the exchange of money for hostage was to take place — but did absolutely nothing. The bishop referred to this incident as a “punishment” while Dr. Roman, the Coptic hostess, called Minya, Egypt a “State of Retribution” against those Copts who dare refuse to suffer quietly,” adding, “Al-Minya is apparently not an Egyptian province; it is governed by ISIS.”

Finally, Bishop Agathon made clear the despondency he and the average Christian in Egypt feel, repeatedly saying that, no matter which official they talk to, “nothing will change.” If anything, the plight of Egypt’s Christians has gone “from bad to worse,” said the bishop: “We hear beautiful words but no solution.”

Dr. Roman concluded by imploring Egyptian President Sisi, saying: “I’ve said it before: President Sisi is very meticulous and aware of the nation’s issues. Why, then, is it that the Coptic plight in Minya is being ignored? Why is he turning a blind eye toward it?”

Bishop Agathon concluded by saying that “Copts are between a state anvil and aggressor hammers,” meaning that, the state serves only to keep its Christian citizens in place while Islamic radicals pound away at them.

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

Raymond Ibrahimis author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

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News For Concern: Canadian Pastor Missing After Aid Trip to North Korea

A head pastor of a large Canadian church has failed to return from a humanitarian mission to North Korea, and the Canadian government has reached out to try to locate him. Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto said that 60-year-old Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim has made hundreds of trips to North Korea, where he helps oversee a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage in the Rajin region. Pak said they have not heard from Lim since Jan. 31 but were not initially worried because he is an experienced traveler and knows the country well. They also thought he could be caught up by North Korea’s quarantine of foreign travelers who may have been exposed to Ebola.

Christians and Churches Attacked in the West: Muslim Persecution of Christians, September 2014

Burnt-church

The Muslim persecution of Christians in September made prominent appearances not just in the Islamic world, but also in the West—in America, Australia and Europe.

In the United States, in Columbus, Indiana, three churches were vandalized on the same night. The words most frequently sprayed were “Infidels!” and “Koran 3:151.” The verse from the Koran states, “We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve [or “infidels”] for what they have associated with Allah [reference to Christian Trinity] of which He had not sent down [any] authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.”

Father Doug Marcotte of Saint Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, one of those vandalized, said, “There’s a lot of bad stuff being done in the name of Allah and so when people see this happening in Columbus, whether that was truly the person’s intent or there’s something else going on, it makes people nervous. It makes people upset. It makes them scared.”

Meanwhile, in Australia, AAP reported that “Church-goers in Sydney’s west have been left shaken after a stranger shouted death threats from a car bearing the Islamic State flag. The car drove past Our Lady of Lebanon Church at Harris Park on Tuesday and witnesses claim it had a flag similar to those brandished by Islamic State jihadists hanging out the window.” A church official said the people in the car threatened to “kill the Christians” and slaughter their children: “They were strong words and people were scared of what they saw.” Witnesses saw a flag outside the window with the words, “There is only one god and Muhammad is the prophet.” And as happens frequently in Muslim-majority nations, police security was later dispatched to patrol the Harris Park church while hundreds partook of mass inside.

Another Christian woman of Iranian background recounted how she and her son are harassed on the Muslim-majority block where they live—and where she stands out for not wearing a hijab, the Islamic veil: “My son is being called everything. I get called all sorts of things. Infidel. Filthy Christians. They tell me I ought to be stoned to death. My son was beaten at the bus stop. He was called pig, dirty potato (Muslim slang for Danes), and that ‘you and your mother should die.”‘

Islamic dreams of conquering Europe were prevalent. A senior analyst in Spain warned that, because Islamists see the Iberian peninsula as being “under Spanish and Portuguese occupation,” greater risk of terrorism exists there than in other Western areas. Because Iberia—or, in Arabic, Al-Andalus—was under Islamic domination for centuries, many Muslims consider it part of the Islamic world, or Dar al-Islam, which needs to be reconquered, no less than Israel, also seen as occupied Islamic territory.

More pointedly, in the Islamic State [IS], in a lengthy message partially addressed to the “crusaders”—a reference to the West—some members declared, “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah.” Members of the IS also invoked a statement attributed to Muhammad, that Constantinople would be conquered before Rome—and it was, in 1453. The implication is that the Eternal City of Rome is next.

Around the same time, Rome responded by rejecting a motion to name a street after the late Oriana Fallaci, a veteran journalist who had once written that, “the Muslim world is attempting to conquer the West in the name of Islam.” In explaining their decision, local politicians described Fallaci’s writings as containing “religious hatred,” or “Islamophobia.”

In Canada, while 80 special Muslims went to the trouble of attending a Muslim rally on behalf of persecuted Christians, another rally, an extremist Al Quds Day Anti-Israel Hate Fest, drew approximately 6,000 participants.

The rest of September’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Muslim Attacks on Churches

East JerusalemA Christian church was attacked numerous times: On September 29, young Muslim men, with ties to a Palestinian militant group, wired shut the door of the Living Bread Church and sprayed a gaseous substance at those inside. An earlier gas attack had already occurred on September 17. Hours before the second attack, someone threw a rock through one of the windows of the church, and the day before that, Sunday, September 28, a Palestinian and others assaulted a church member as he was emptying trash into a dumpster outside the church.  On Sept. 21, a Palestinian militant, without warning, ran up behind a church leader, Karen Dunham, and knocked her to the pavement: “This guy charged me as fast as he could,” she said. “He came up behind me and just slammed into my back, and I fell and I hit the ground. My face is bruised. There’s bruises on the side of my cheek, on my face, on my head, on my knee, cuts on my head, and my wrist was fractured.”

Egypt: A Christian priest in Egypt appealed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to intervene on behalf of yet another church being threatened by “religious extremists.” So far, local authorities have done nothing. Four years ago, the Coptic Church of St. Abram in Shubra al-Khaima received a permit to build an additional building. During those same four years, seven “thugs”—in the words of the report—have prevented it from being built. The “thugs” had mobilized local Muslims to threaten and demonstrate against the church. “The priest lamented that ‘after suffering many long years’ they finally managed to acquire the permit to build, but then the next obstacle presented itself in the person of the aforementioned seven ‘thugs’ who constantly harass, and incite Muslim mobs, against the church, whenever it tries to exercise its right to build the services building. Islamic law forbids the building of new churches or the renovation of existing churches.”

Iraq: Islamic State militants “completely destroyed” the ancient Green Church in Tikrit. They packed the church with explosives and detonated them – completely destroying the ancient church, which belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East. Almost from the time it was built in the seventh century, when Islam overran Iraq, the church had been attacked, ransacked, and destroyed by Muslim rulers and others, but was restored on the orders of Iraq’s late President Saddam Hussein in the 1990s.

Nigeria: Many more churches and a Christian university, Kulp Bible College, were forced to shut down as a result of the advances of the Islamic jihadi group, Boko Haram. In one instance, a pastor reported that “Boko Haram violence has been getting worse every day, and our members are fleeing the area by the thousands. Recent attacks in Borno and Adamawa states where our churches are located have seen Boko Haram take over the Army base. As a result, about 350 Christians have been killed.”  Separately, in Kaduna state, where “Muslim Fulani assailants seem driven to rid the area of Christianity and use the land to graze their cattle,” according to church leaders, 46 Christians, including two pastors, were slaughtered in raids. According to an eyewitness,

Suddenly we heard sounds of gunshots around our village. The pastor was still in the pastorate when the Muslim Fulani gunmen forced their way onto the church premises. They cut him, his wife and a daughter with a machete, and then tied the hands and feet of the three of them before setting the house on fire. The three of them were burned to ashes in the living room of the pastorate. We only found the charred remains of the three of them the following morning…. The gunmen then came onto the church premises and began shooting. I heard them shouting at the top of their voices, saying they must obliterate any trace of Christianity in the town.

Although Muslim Fulani have historically had property disputes with Christian farmers, Christian leaders say attacks by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria.

Sudan: In the latest incident of a nearly two-year wave of church demolitions, closures and confiscations, security agents padlocked a 500-member church building, the Sudan Pentecostal Church in Khartoum. The church also houses the Khartoum Christian Center. “The church is concerned that the building might be sold by the government, which renders more than 500 worshippers to have no place for worship,” a source told the Morning Star News. The Islamist government appears to be seeking any pretext for closing churches, sources said. In this instance, the space for the church was originally designated as “office space.” But, as one source asked, “How do you close a church building that has been in operation for 20 years in the name of the church being meant for offices?” The church has a deed showing that it owns the building and property — a situation that raises the question of the government’s right to sell it.  Earlier, on June 30 bulldozers demolished the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Thiba Al Hamyida area of North Khartoum as church members watched, while security personnel threatened to arrest them if they tried to block the bulldozers, church members said.

Syria: The Islamic State destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor, seen as the “Auschwitz” of the Armenian Genocide. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished in Der Zor and the surrounding desert during the genocide. In the summer of 1916 alone, more than 200,000 Armenians, mostly women and children, were massacred by Ottoman Turks. Armenia’s foreign minister issued a statement calling the church’s destruction a “horrible barbarity,” and referred to the Islamic State as a “disease” that “threatened civilized mankind.” The church was built in 1989-90 and consecrated a year later. A genocide memorial and a museum housing the remains of the victims of the genocide were also located in the church compound. Thousands of Armenians from Syria and neighboring countries gathered at the memorial every year on April 24 to commemorate the genocide.

Pakistani Rape and Dhimmitude

  • Four young Muslims gang raped a 15-year-old Christian girl and filmed it. The girl’s father, although he was threatened against filing a complaint, went to police, who confirmed the existence of a video that corroborates the violence. The video will apparently be introduced as evidence against the youths. A lawyer, Mushtaq Gill, issued a statement that, “Many Christian girls continue to be victims of sexual assault by young Muslims, who go unpunished” and that, “in this case there is also a video, flaunted as a trophy.”
  • Two Christian women were abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Lawyer Mushtaq Gill said, “A Christian girl, Sairish, forced to marry a Muslim in 2009, in her heart never abandoned the faith and continued to pray to Jesus Christ even after her marriage. After a few years she found the courage to rebel against the situation and run away…. Her life is now in danger because if she declares herself Christian, Muslims may accuse her of apostasy and the punishment would be death.” Each year, approximately 1,000 women in Pakistan are forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Whenever a case of this nature reaches the law courts, those women, under threat and blackmail, often declare that their conversion and marriage were decisions freely made, and the case is closed.
  • Another Christian family fled their hometown, Lahore, to save their daughters from forced conversion to Islam. According to the Justice and Peace Commission, the two sisters, aged 12 and 8, were studying in public schools, where learning to recite the Koran is mandatory. Apparently, because the girls recited the shehada, the Islamic declaration of faith, “an Islamic cleric, the father of a student stated that these girls had become Muslims and thus needed to be taken from their Christian parents and entrusted to adult Muslims.” The parents pulled their daughters out of school, but then the headmaster and other Muslim teachers “warned the parents to send them back to school, offering the family financial aid regarding the school fees.” The parents quit their jobs and fled the region.
  • Police arrested 15 Christians and booked 45 other members of the minority community under the blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating Muslim graves in a village in Punjab province. According to the AP, “The case was registered after a local cleric filed a complaint alleging that the Christians had desecrated over 400 Muslim graves to occupy the land in Chak village in Faisalabad, about 150 kilometres from Lahore.” Rights groups said it was a spurious charge meant to prevent the Christians from acquiring the land. In fact, the accusations were later proven false.

Dhimmitude: Islamic Discrimination Against Christianity

Egypt: Iman Sarofim, a 39-year-old Christian mother of five, returned home to her family after being kidnapped. Initially it was believed that she had voluntarily converted to Islam and fled her family to be with a Muslim man. The woman contacted the family from Suez, where she had been brought by the kidnapper. The return of the woman was celebrated by neighbors and relatives in the city of Gabal al-Tir. Her disappearance had been the cause of clashes between Copts and police, who believed the narrative that she had voluntarily left. In retaliation, police officers entered the homes of dozens of Coptic families and violently arrested dozens of Christians. Separately, Ehab Karam, a Coptic dentist, was killed after he was abducted by unknown persons, most likely for ransom. The kidnapping of Copts for ransom has evidently become a regular part of life in Egypt for Christians, particularly in Upper Egypt. Last February, for instance, police dismantled a crime network that for months had been organizing kidnappings, robberies and extortion against the local Coptic community. “Unfortunately,” said the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assist, Kyrillos William, “the phenomenon continues and there are no signs of improvement. Police operations are episodic and ineffective, they are unable to solve the problem.”

Iraq: The Islamic State decreed that all schools in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain which bore Christian names, some since the 1700s, must be changed. Also, the teaching of the Syriac language and culture and Christian religious education has been abolished. Reports indicate that the Islamic State took these moves “in order to erase all traces of cultural and religious pluralism in the conquered areas and turn schools into propaganda tools of jihadist ideology among the new generations.”

Saudi Arabia: In the Eastern Province city of Khafji, “religious police,” or agents from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, raided a house where at least 27 Christians, mostly expatriates from various Asian nationalities, were gathered. The Christians, including children, were accused of practicing Christianity in a house church, and were arrested and detained overnight. Authorities also confiscated musical instruments and copies of the Bible. The house had been placed under surveillance after a citizen reported that his Indian neighbor had converted his home into a Christian church. After witnessing a large number of individuals enter the home, officers raided the house. The only religion allowed to be practiced in public in Saudi Arabia is Islam. In the land of the prophet, no public places of worship for non-Muslims are permitted to exist.

Turkey: According to the Armenian magazine, Agos, many of the primary and secondary education books being used for the current school year still describe the Armenians and other Christian communities as enemy forces at the service of foreign powers, including Russia and England, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. One eighth-grade history book tries to whitewash the Armenian genocide, which is portrayed as a “necessary deportation,” never as a massacre.

Uzbekistan: Security forces reportedly raided the home of Pastor Stanislav Kim in Chirchik, 20 miles northeast of Tashkent, the capital. They detained 11 teenagers and three adults, who had gathered there for a volleyball game, and questioned them for more than four hours before releasing them. Officials also searched the pastor’s home and confiscated a New Testament, a Bible, several other Christian books, more than 100 slides of hymns, as well as some computer equipment. Voice of the Martyrs, which says there are at least 65 unregistered congregations scattered throughout Uzbekistan, said in a statement, “Please pray that this pastor and his son will not face fines, but will soon be acquitted of any perceived wrongdoing. Ask God to strengthen each believer who was present during this unwarranted raid so that they will not give in to governmental intimidation and pressure, but instead be emboldened to serve our Lord faithfully.”

About this Series

The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic.  Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

1)          To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.

2)          To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam;  theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

By Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow, David Horowitz Freedom Center; a CBN News contributor; a Media Fellow, Hoover Institution (2013); and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum . Ibrahim’s dual-background — born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East — has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.

TORONTO CANCELS JESUS PARADE

Though other parades and protests have been permittted the City of Toronto is saying a parade celebrating Jesus can’t proceed because of construction. Will media coverage change their mind?

UPDATE: 

TORONTO – Praise Jesus, it looks like the parade is back on.

Sources tell the Toronto Sun that an arrangement has been worked out between organizers of the cancelled Jesus in the City parade and City of Toronto staff.

The group tried to persuade the city to offer another route but, up until Thursday, they were told this was not possible.

Enter Mayor Rob Ford, who told the Sun he wanted the parade back on and called a meeting of all involved. READ MORE

“He was animated” and vocal, McVety said of the mayor. “He made it clear to city staff he wanted to find a solution.”

Before noon Thursday, that solution was worked out.

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