India (Morning Star News) – A week after a pastor fell into a coma following harassment by hard-line Hindus in southern India, a gang of Hindu extremists in the same state beat another pastor after he prayed for healing at the home of an elderly church member, family members said.
Police altered the statement of the Rev. Gandham Padma Rao, 49, so that the 10 young men who assaulted him on Jan. 27 in Medipally village, Telangana state, were described only as drunken youths, not members of a Hindu nationalist group as the pastor had stated, his son told Morning Star News.
Pastor Rao fulfilled church duties the two days after the assault before seeking medical help, and doctors told family members that his blood pressure was so high that he could have suffered a hemorrhage had he waited any longer. Another pastor, 47-year-old K.A. Swamy of Hyderabad, on Jan. 21 fell into a coma after suffering high blood pressure and a brain hemorrhage hours after Hindu extremists threatened him with highly offensive language and took him to police for distributing Bibles.
Pastor Rau’s son, Samuel Mark, told Morning Star News his father had left the home of the elderly church member, who had just been released from a hospital, at about 9:30 p.m. and was walking to his car when the young men blocked his way with their motorcycles.
When the pastor ignored them and began walking on the other side of the road, one of the assailants shouted, “Why are you coming to our village? Why are you praying here?” as four others began hitting him, knocking him to the ground, relatives said.
Pastor Rao and eyewitnesses said the youths were members of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Vahini.
“They spoke to me in vulgar language: ‘You must never come to our village to pray. You should never enter our village,’” Pastor Rao told Morning Star News.
Two of the assailants held him while the others punched and kicked him, he said.
“I could not balance myself and fell in a pit nearby,” he said. “They picked me up, threw me on the road and started battering me again. I tried hard to regain my strength and run, but they followed me quickly held my collar, pushed me off with their feet. When I fell down again, they began kicking and beating me again.”
One of the Hindu extremists tried to pick up a large stone and throw it at him, he said. Area residents heard his cries and came out of their homes, including a member of his church who came running and cried out for help.
The church member, identified only as Mariyamma, along with her relatives and other area residents said the assailants were members of the Vishwa Hindu Vahini. A First Information Report was filed in the NTPC Ramagundam police station, but police removed references to the Hindu nationalist group from Pastor Rao’s statement and described the assailants only as drunken wage workers, his son said.
Sub-Inspector P. Chandra Kumar told Morning Star News only that the suspects were young men in police custody.
“The investigation is not yet completed,” he said. “Yes, it is true that the pastor was beaten and the attackers were all youngsters in between ages 24 and 27.”
He declined to reveal the identity of the assailants, but sources said the primary suspect, Chandragiri Shiva Prasad, was in custody.
Pastor Rao drove back to his home in Ramakrishnapuram, where he conducted a baptism ceremony at his church the next day. The following day (Jan. 29), he took painkillers and carried out duties at his church’s Sunday service, but later that afternoon he felt light-headed and was taken to a hospital.
His blood pressure was 200 over 140 mmHg, Dr. D.B. Vamsi told Morning Star News, and the pastor was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Medilife Hospital, Mancherial. A hypertensive crisis is said to begin when blood pressure reaches 180 over 110 mmHG.
“The patient complained of pain,” Vamsi said. “Immediately after we heard about the assault, we sent for more tests. His pains will last for a few weeks.”
The pastor’s family members told Morning Star News that the church’s cross was uprooted and broken two years ago. The church’s sound equipment was destroyed a year ago, and in December, while he joined in Christmas carols, the pastor’s car was punctured with nails, they said.
Family members and visiting pastors said the attack appeared to have been planned. They said the Hindu extremists knew how to strike him so that there would be no bleeding but multiple contusions.
The pastor’s son told Morning Star that his father has been unable to lie down since his back was severely bruised.
“My dad went to visit the families who had been attending our church over years now,” he said. “He had no business to do with the assailants. He didn’t bother anyone. He didn’t even respond to them when they shouted at him. All of a sudden, they began kicking him on the road. Don’t you see it was all planned?”
(World Watch Monitor) More than 200 men, some armed with sticks, suddenly gathered on Wednesday morning (8 Feb) beside the Alba Presbyterian Church in Sankhatra, 115km north of Lahore, intent on building a boundary wall.
“Children were going to school and men were leaving for work when this large number stormed into the area and started construction,” said Asher Moon, 38, the church’s pastor. “Some of our men and women tried to intervene but they were called names and men armed with sticks beat them.”
Sankhatra is part of Narowal District, where Presbyterian missionaries from the US city of Philadelphia journeyed in 1855 to begin a mission that would spread the message of Christianity across Punjab, which had only come under British rule in 1849.
Thirty Christian families still live in Sankhatra, but their land has been under legal threat.
Moon, who took over the leadership of the church when his father died in 2011, said the police were “reluctant to register a case” against the attackers, although five women and a 13-year-old boy were among those hurt.
“For [the police], our being insulted has no meaning,” he said.
“We called the emergency response police three times, but they only arrived after two hours, after the crowd had beaten and insulted our men and women. The construction work was still going on and we showed them a magistrate’s injunction that no party can change the current status until the ownership of the land is decided in the court, but the police refused to acknowledge this court order.”
The legal battle has been raging for ownership of the 1750-square-yard piece of land since April 2016.
“It was even worse at that time,” said Moon. “They brought bulldozers and fired shots in the air and beat our men and women. They even demolished some of our houses.”
Moon said they had “rushed to court” to obtain an injunction against their eviction. They received it and the court case is ongoing.
But Moon said that last week “false propaganda” was spread that the court had ended the temporary injunction, leading the men to think they could return to demolish more buildings.
“Most of our people are illiterate and work menial jobs, so [the locals] had thought that it would be easy to fool them,” he said. But Moon had the injunction renewed at court on 6 February.
Chaudhry Kashir, a local Christian councillor, told World Watch Monitor that the attackers want to set up a market of between 50 to 100 shops on the land, which is beside a main road.
“The other party has documents that show that someone gave this [government-owned] land to the Christians for living about seven decades ago but there is no valid proof that is provided in the court yet,” he said. “Mostly, civil litigation on land issues goes on for 20 to 30 years in Pakistan. So parties indulge in criminally evicting the weaker side to show to the court that they are in possession of the land to strengthen their case.”
A local police officer, Ishtiaq Ahmed, said he didn’t know if the land had ever been owned by the government, but that the Christians were “lying” in saying that “this is their land, or that they have any connection with it”.
“The other party had legal documents,” he added.
Ahmed also claimed that no violence had taken place on Wednesday morning – only a “verbal clash”.
“If their women had been beaten, then the police would have registered a case,” he said. “There are no houses on the land and I don’t know if there were houses 10 months ago that were demolished.”
But Moon said there have been Christian homes on the land “since my childhood”.
“I was told that there used to be a pond for sanitary water but when the sewerage system was set up, this pond dried up and Christians filled it in with earth and built their homes,” he said. “Now this land has commercial value and they are trying to snatch it from us. Our opponents have encroached on the church land too: up to five feet on one side of the church, and 15 feet on the other side.
“The same police who were unwilling to register a case, and then were unwilling to accept the court injunction, are now having to acknowledge the court injunction because of pressure from higher authorities.”
Several attacks on Pakistan’s Christian minority have been linked to land disputes and it is thought this has also been the motive in several accusations of blasphemy against Christians. Incidents include the 2009 Gojra communal violence in which seven Christians died; the blasphemy accusation against 16-year-old Rimsha Masih in 2012 and the Joseph Colony arson attack in Lahore in March 2013.
As World Watch Monitor reported last year, Christians were also threatened with eviction from government land in Islamabad, the capital, because their “ugly” settlements spoil the landscape of “one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.
It used to be prohibited for members of the so-called “untouchable” castes – which includes many Christians – to buy land. Even today, most Christians live in irregular or illegal settlements on government land.
Narowal is significant for the Pakistani Christian population because it’s the district where Christianity first started to spread through Presbyterian missionary Andrew Gordon in 1855.
In 1873 there were only about 4,000 Christians in Punjab, from diverse metropolitan backgrounds.
Then, 10 miles from Narowal, in 1873 an “untouchable” man known as “Ditt” (who had to skin dead animals and pick up garbage from the streets to survive) converted to Christianity. Ditt spread the Gospel among his caste in surrounding villages as US and European missionaries spread education and healthcare. From 1881, the number of Christians in Punjab multiplied from just a few thousand to over half a million by 1941.
Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A 70-year-old Christian in Pakistan was jailed on blasphemy charges on the same day 106 Muslims accused in a 2013 attack on a Christian colony were acquitted.
A mosque leader in the Lambanwali area north of Gujranwala, Punjab Province, on Jan. 28 accused Mukhtar Masih of writing two letters containing derogatory remarks about the Koran and Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, police records show. He was charged under Section 295-A, deliberate and malicious acts intending to outrage religious feelings, which carries a sentence of 10 years of prison and/or a fine, and under Section 298, derogatory remarks against “holy personages,” punishable by three years’ imprisonment and/or fine.
Police raided Masih’s house on Jan. 28 and took his entire family into custody, an area source told Morning Star News.
“The police took with them Masih, his son, daughter, and three children,” he said. “The family was later released on the intervention of rights outfits, but Masih was detained under blasphemy charges.”
The source said that the charges against Masih were fabricated by local Muslims seeking to seize his property. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used to settle personal scores, and Islamist groups and lawyers advocating the harshest punishments often apply pressure for convictions on police and courts.
Mosque leader Qari Shahbaz Hussain alleges in the First Information Report (FIR No. 49/17) that area residents on Jan. 26 brought to his notice two letters containing the alleged blasphemous comments. He stated that an investigation by a local committee he headed revealed the letters were written by Masih.
Hussain claimed in the FIR that the committee had found Masih guilty and sought his prosecution under blasphemy charges. Hussain and other accusers were unavailable for comment, and Masih’s relatives have gone into hiding and were also unavailable.
The investigating officer refused repeated requests for comment, citing orders from his superiors.
Also on Jan. 28, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore acquitted 106 Muslims accused of a massive attack on Joseph Colony, sparked by a blasphemy accusation in March 2013, after prosecution witnesses said they did not recognize any of the accused assailants.
More than 80 prosecution witnesses, 63 of them with statements recorded about the attack that destroyed more than 150 homes, said they did not recognize the accused. The 106 suspects, who were released on bail the day they were accused, appeared before judge Muhammad Azam.
On March 9, 2013, thousands of rioters armed with sticks, clubs and stones besieged Joseph Colony and torched the houses in the predominantly Christian neighborhood following allegations of blasphemy against a Christian, Sawan Masih.
The mob also torched three church buildings, several shops and a number of vehicles. Police later arrested both the rioters and the blasphemy suspect, who was charged under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for derogatory remarks about Muhammad, which mandates the death penalty.
Sawan Masih was sentenced to death on March 28, 2014. His appeal against the conviction is pending in the Lahore High Court.
Witnesses and police said the enraged mob ransacked and burned the entire locality a day after all Christian families left the area, as police apparently had alerted them about the possibility of an attack. The affected people, however, also accused police of doing nothing to stop the attack and plunder.
Blasphemy Suspect Released on Bail
Separately, a Christian facing the death penalty on blasphemy charges was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Feb 1) because of gaps in the investigation of his case, sources said.
Evangelist Adnan Prince had been in prison since Nov. 6, 2013, after he sought to correct misconceptions about Christianity in a Muslim book. He was charged with outraging religious feelings (Section 295-A), defiling the Koran (295-B) and derogatory remarks against Muhammad (295-C) of Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws. He denied having written anything against Islam or Muhammad when he scribbled in a Muslim book he found in a glassworks shop where his brother worked.
The accused’s lead counsel, Asma Jahangir, indicated that deficiencies in the case against Prince led to his release on bail. She told reporters that there were no direct eyewitnesses, and all forensic evidence failed to link the accused in the case against her client.
She added that the case should have been decided within two years. Prince was jailed on Nov. 9, 2013. Jahangir said the case was not decided within two years due to lawyers’ strikes and prosecution delay tactics. She added that legal formalities were not fulfilled when investigating the matter.
“According to guidelines passed by the Supreme Court, a police officer not below the rank of a superintendent should have conducted the probe,” she reportedly said.
Attorney Nadeem Anthony, another member of Prince’s defense team, said that on the court’s directions, Sections 295-A and 295-B have been dropped, and the evangelist is facing only 295-C, punishable by death.
Blasphemy suspects have long been targeted by Islamist vigilantes in Pakistan. At least 65 people, including lawyers, defendants and judges, have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures from a Center for Research and Security Studies report and local media.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Dost Muhammad Khan on Wednesday (Feb. 1) ordered Prince’s release on bail.
Indonesia’s Christian leaders have urged the country’s president, Joko Widodo, to take action against a radical Islamist group.
This comes after a petition called for the disbandment of the group, which is accused of being responsible for a series of violent attacks against Christians.
The Christian leaders said the Islamic Defenders Front posed a “serious threat to national unity”.
The group was responsible for organising a series of mass rallies in Jakarta at the end of last year, in the wake of the blasphemy accusations that still surround Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known as “Ahok”), as he campaigns for re-election on 15 Feb.
“[His] case has attracted a lot of national and international attention and is seen as a test of religious freedom in the Muslim-majority nation,” says Thomas Muller, analyst at Open Doors, a global charity that supports Christians under pressure for their faith.
“Having mobilised more than 200,000 protestors from across the country, radical Islamic groups seem to be gaining ground. Societies are not radicalised all of a sudden; at first a creeping conservatism will be observed, which begins to limit and then suffocate all minorities. This is the case in Indonesia.”
Muller points to the recent evidence that violations of religious freedom are on the rise in Indonesia and a report by the New York Times focusing on how Sharia by-laws are spreading across the country. He says the province of Aceh is “proudly leading the way as a model for other regions in the implementation of such laws”. Some churches destroyed by extremists there in Oct. 2015 have not been allowed to be re-built.
source World Watch Monitor
(Agenzia Fides) The debate to amend the controversial “blasphemy law”, composed of the articles of the Penal Code that punish with life imprisonment or the death penalty insults against Islam has begun in the Pakistani Senate. It was Muslim Senator Farhatullah Baber, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party and representative of the Special Committee of the Pakistani Senate on human rights, to introduce the theme to look for ways to stop the abuse of the law.
The new attempt to discuss the matter in Parliament comes a decade after parliamentary Minocher Bhandara, a Zoroastrian, presented in 2007 a bill with amendments to the blasphemy law. The proposal was immediately blocked by the then Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sher Afgan Niazi, for fear of offending the feelings of Muslims, appealing to the principle that “no law should contradict Islamic law”. (more…)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5
(Voice of the Persecuted) Since the time of the 1st century Church, persecution and suffering for bearing the cross for Christ has never stopped. In fact, it has increased drastically since death of the first martyr, Stephen.
Pakistan is notoriously famous as a breeding ground for radical terrorism. Sporadic targeting of Pakistani Christians has made life miserable for the innocent. Over the years, rising persecution has claimed thousands of lives and continues to hang as a sword of Damocles over those who practice their faith in one of the world’s most hostile environments. According to the 2017 World Watch List, Pakistan ranked above Syria and Iraq as the 4th worst place to live as a Christian.
Youhanabad, a Christian colony in Lahore, Pakistan, was attacked by the Taliban in 2015. Worshippers were killed after 2 suicide bombers struck at 2 churches crowded with hundreds of church attendees.
This attack dramatically changed the lives of one family who were forced to flee their home and stay in hiding.
The persecution against Adnan’s family began after the 2015 suicide attack in the Christian colony where they lived. They had attended an early church service that day when terror engulfed their community. A suicide bomber detonated near the Church which curtailed the lives of at least twenty Christians and wounded dozens of church attendees. In an interview with the family, Adnan told Voice of the Persecuted,
“When we heard the blast, I asked my family to keep themselves in hiding. Fearing it was very close to where we live, I went with my brother to check the situation. We saw fragments and traces of blast, even human flesh and body parts scattered all over the area. It was horrifying. We saw angry victims and their loved ones running after the accomplices of the bomber and were beating them to stop them from escaping. Eventually, they were caught and badly beaten by the deeply upset and agitated Christians.”
Next day, the scenario was an extremely opposite of what was expected. Based on the footage taken by the media, the victims’ family members who caught the terrorists (who succumbed to their injuries) and those visible at the time of incident were now considered perpetrators and criminals.
“My brother and I were one of those who were seen in the footage and thus my brother went into hiding. But later, he was arrested and even now is still in jail.” He further explained, “Taunted by this, I feared most for the safety of my wife and two sons who at that time were only 3 and 1 years old. My wife had to leave her job as a teacher and as did I, a security guard at the bank.”
With any hope of living free quickly fading, they believed there was no choice but escape to Thailand to save their lives. Filled with hope and the dream of no longer living in terror, they arrived in Bangkok to seek asylum in September 2015. They were excited to start to new life strong in their faith, openly as true Christians without fear. However, things were not easy as expected. Fear and the safety of their children had brought them to another oppressive situation in Bangkok. Adnan, his wife and children are one of thousands of Pakistani Christian families hoping to gain asylum and begin a peaceful life in freedom.
Adnan’s asylum case and the UNHCR asylum certificate he holds is not recognized by the Thai government. After their visa’s expired, he had to make ends meet by illegally finding a work in a factory. To support his family, Adnan had been left with no other option but to take temporary illegal work at a lesser wage with no insurance.
April 29, 2016 marked another critical ordeal for the family. While on the job, the father of two was hit by a fork lift that severly damaged his ankle. Doctors told Adnan that he needed a series of major surgeries which required a large sum of money.
His wife asked for help from practically everyone and even begged the factory owner for mercy and to support the medical expense of her husband’s severe injury. The factory owner paid a portion of the cost for surgeries, but the rest had to be borrowed from the factory owner and other non- asylum seeking individuals.
Gradually, Adnan has begun to walk with the help of crutches, but to this date cannot walk properly. He and his family are burdened by the loan for the surgeries, and trying support basic survival needs for themselves and their children. It’s indeed hard with no recourse but to beg for help. Still, their is little to eat as support trickles in.
The family has appealed to the international Christian community to pray for and uplift them morally, spiritually and financially. Our correspondent told us the father’s spirit is still high despite all the troubles in his life. Adnan recalls one bible verse from Roman 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This verse gives him great hope and the courage to face another day.
Let us continue to remember and pray for this beleaguered family. Let us share our blessings and shine the light and love of Christ on them. Voice of the Persecuted is seeking sponsors to bring hope to our brothers and sisters suffering in Thailand. Unfortunately, we are unable to care for all the families on our waiting list. If you would like to sponsor a persecuted Christian family suffering through the asylum process, please set up a regular monthly payment and add in note section when donating, Pakistani Christians in Thailand. One-time gifts to this relief project is also welcome and greatly appreciated.
Example: A gift of $100 cover monthly food expenses and a portion of their room rent.
Please consider sponsoring Adnan and his family by adding his name to the note. Your gift of support blesses them with hope and means more than you could ever imagine.
- For persecuted Christian families suffering in Thailand.
- For the children will never again have go to bed hungry.
- Pray for sponsors who can help them survive.
- Pray for the Thai government to have a change of heart.
- That the UNHCR will expedite their interviews so they may go to a welcoming nation with the opportunity to provide for themselves, worship freely and live in peace.
- Pray for the Lord to bless them with joy, to strengthen their faith and to feel His loving presence surround them.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Donations are always desperately needed.
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
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Note: Voice of the Persecuted encourages Christians to refrain from violence at all costs.
Indonesia: Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, is gaining support from undecided voters, following a debate held last week ahead of a gubernatorial election in Indonesia’s capital next month.
Support for the Christian governor, popularly known as “Ahok” dropped significantly after he was accused of blasphemy in October and went on trial in December.
The trial is expected to last for months, which enables Ahok to stand in the election scheduled to take place on Feb. 15.
According to pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting, the Jan. 13 debate has convinced many undecided voters to vote for Ahok as they believe he is the best choice to manage Jakarta and its problems. Voters believe the other candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, eldest son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Anies Baswedan, a former education minister, do not have much to offer.
Yohanes Handoyo Budhisedjati, chairman of Vox Point Indonesia, a Catholic political organization, said the debate has helped people see how good Ahok’s political will is.
“People can see what he has done and I believe he will get more votes, despite the blasphemy accusations,” Budhisedjati told ucanews.com on Jan. 16.
In the debate Ahok vowed to continue successful policies undertaken during his first term that included providing better housing for former slum dwellers and tackling corruption.
Ermelinda Tara from St. James Parish in North Jakarta, said the debate proved Ahok was the better candidate. “I believe Ahok will finish what he has started if he is given the chance,” said Tara who added that her home has been flood free since Ahok took office in November 2014.
“The debate strengthened my decision to vote for Ahok,” said Asamanduru, a member of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia. “The blasphemy case will not affect it,” he said.
A second debate will be held on Jan. 27 and the third on Feb. 10, five days before around 7 million voters go to the polls. (source: UCAN)
Muslim encourages Catholics to vote in Indonesia polls
A prominent Muslim intellectual is urging Indonesian Catholics to put prejudices aside and vote in regional elections next month for leaders who can make society a better place for all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds.
“We have to vote for a brave leader who can make changes in this capital,” Mohammad Qodari, executive director of Indo Barometer, an independent research and survey institute, told hundreds of Catholics at a gathering at Sacred Heart Church in Central Java, on Jan. 15. At the gathering Qodari, who appeared to back Ahok for his reforms, said that Catholics are not only good citizens but also good nation-builders.
Father Guido Suprapto, executive secretary of Indonesian Bishops’ Commission for the Laity, said the bishops’ conference issued a pastoral letter in November last year, encouraging Catholics to participate in the election and even monitor the entire process. Catholics can change society by voting for leaders who understand religious values, take the side of poor people and who love peace and care for the environment, he said. (Source: VR)
Previously considered secular and tolerant, hardliners and persecution against Christians has increased throughout Indonesia, Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the nation.
The price of the modern West’s inability to comprehend Islam’s medieval tactics is not just ignorance concerning the nature of the enemy, but ignorance concerning his victims as well—in this case, countless, nameless children
Past and present, Muslim militants continue relying on the same inhumane tactics to terrorize “infidels.” The devastating effects of one of these occurred last August in Turkey: a child “recruited” by the Islamic State blew himself up in a suicide attack that left at least 51 people—mostly fellow children—dead.
This child was one of countless, nameless, faceless children seized, beat, and indoctrinated in Islam, until they become willing “martyrs” and executioners. Known as the “cubs of the caliphate,” they are graduates from “schools [established by ISIS] to prepare hundreds of children and teenagers to conduct suicide attacks.” The Islamic State is fond of showcasing these abducted children turned criminals.
A few days ago, it posted a video of these “cubs,” most who appear to be about 10 years of age, walking around an abandoned amusement park, where they savagely execute hostages tied to rides. One child, reportedly only four years old, shoots five rounds into a tied up victim while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” (see image above). Another little boy slits the throat of his victim next to a kiddie train before planting the knife in his back. Last November ISIS posted another video of four children—one Russian, one Uzbek, and two Iraqis—executing civilians.
One Christian clergyman explained the Islamic State’s strategy: “They dislocate the families, they take the newborn babies, and they put them in Islamist families,” where they are indoctrinated in jihad, or what is called in the West, “terrorist activities.”
Children who’ve managed to escape ISIS say they were repeatedly beat and fed “endless propaganda,” including that they must kill their non-Muslim parents: “We weren’t allowed to cry but I would think about my mother, think about her worrying about me and I’d try and cry quietly,” one little boy said.
Seizing and indoctrinating children for the jihad is hardly limited to ISIS. Over the last three years, Boko Haram, the Islamic jihadi group terrorizing Nigeria, has kidnapped, enslaved, beat and indoctrinated more than 10,000 boys—some as young as 5 years of age, and many from Christian backgrounds—into becoming jihadis/terrorists.
“They told us, ‘It’s all right for you to kill and slaughter even your parents,’” said a former captive who witnessed a beheading on the day he was enslaved. Other boys held down the victim and explained: “This is what you have to do to get to heaven.”
Girls were kept in a separate camp and raped, often by captive boys, as a way to show the latter the boons of becoming warriors for Allah (the deity that permits his slaves to enslave and rape “infidel” women). An escaped girl, Rachel, now 13 and pregnant by rape, told of how dozens of boys from her village tied up a kidnapped man and beheaded him. They told the younger children watching not to “have feelings about it.” “If you go there [Boko Haram training camps], you can see 12-year-olds talking about burning down a village,” said another escaped girl, adding “They have converted.”
A boy, now 10, served as babysitter for infants and toddlers kidnapped or conceived by rape: “The children, none older than 4, watched jihadist propaganda videos and rehearsed a game called ‘suicide bomber’ where they ripped open sacks of sand strapped to their torsos.”
These Nigerian children, some as young as 6, have been used to terrorize neighboring Cameroon, a Christian majority nation. During a jihadi raid, more than 100 screaming boys suddenly appeared—barefoot, unarmed, or swinging only machetes—and ran toward a military unit which gunned them down. As Col. Didier Badjeck explained, “It’s better to kill a boy than have 1,000 victims. It’s causing us problems with international organizations, but they’re not on the front lines. We are.”
Another report, published just days ago, tells of more experiences from abducted boys and girls, and how Boko Haram showed the former to “have fun” with the latter, including by “learning to subdue a struggling victim during sexual assault.” One escaped 16-year-old girl said, “I was raped almost on a daily basis by different men. When they became fed-up with me, they asked the little boy, who has often watched them do it, to take over.”
But it’s not just ISIS and Boko Haram who seize, enslave, beat and indoctrinate boys for jihad (and girls to “make it up” to the boys). This practice is also taking place in Yemen, Somalia and even “moderate” Mali. Indeed, a cursory Internet search reveals the extent of this phenomenon.
In 2012, 300 Christian children were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam in Bangladesh. After convincing impoverished Christian families in Bangladesh to spend what little money they had to send their children to study at supposed “mission hostels,” Muslim conmen would “pocket the money” and “sell the children to Islamic schools elsewhere in the country ‘where imams force them to abjure Christianity.’” The children are then instructed in Islam and beaten. After being fully indoctrinated, the once Christian children are asked if they are “ready to give their lives for Islam,” presumably by becoming jihadi suicide-bombers.
Why are Islamic jihad groups resorting to this tactic of enslaving and indoctrinating children into becoming jihadis? Most Western analysts believe this is a reflection of weakened, desperate groups: “The growing trend for ISIS to use child soldiers as suicide bombers, particularly in Iraq, has been suggested as a sign of how stretched their resources are in the region,” noted one report.
Or it could suggest that ISIS, Boko Haram, etc., are simply following another page of the jihadi playbook. For over a millennium, Muslim caliphates specialized in seizing and enslaving tens if not hundreds of thousands of young non-Muslim boys, converting them to Islam, and then beating, indoctrinating, and training them into becoming jihadis extraordinaire.
The most famous of these were the Ottoman Empire’s janissaries—Christian boys who were seized from their homes, converted to and indoctrinated in Islam and jihad, and then unleashed on their former families. As the author of Balkan Wars explains, “Despite their Christian upbringing, they became fanatical Muslims and earnestly maintained their faith as warriors of Islam. This cruel practice of what today can be defined as the ‘brain cleansing’ of the Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire is perhaps the most inhuman Turkish legacy.”
That Turkey is now suffering from the effects of this system—such as when a child suicide bomber killed 51 people in the name of jihad—may be called “ironic.”
Western analysts would not be oblivious to this “new” jihadi tactic—optimistically portraying the reliance on children as proof that jihadi groups have “stretched their resources”—if they had Islamic studies departments that actually disseminated facts instead of pro-Islamic myths and propaganda. As with all unsavory aspects of Islamic history, the institution of child slave soldiers has been thoroughly whitewashed. Although young, terrified boys were seized from the clutches of their devastated parents, the academic narrative is that poor Christian families were somewhat happy to see their boys taken to the caliphate where they would have a “bright future” as “soldiers and statesmen.”
The price of the modern West’s inability to comprehend Islam’s medieval tactics is not just ignorance concerning the nature of the enemy, but ignorance concerning his victims as well—in this case, countless, nameless children. As Mausi Segun, a human rights activist discussing the plight of Boko Haram’s child jihadis put it: “There’s almost an entire generation of boys missing. My guess is that a large majority of them will die [as forced jihadis] in the conflict.” And they will die completely unknown in the West—just another victim group to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, lest Islam’s reputation be besmirched.
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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.