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Cameroonian immigrant has been put on trial in Spain for the murder of six fellow occupants of a flimsy migrant boat because of their Christian religious beliefs.
Survivors of the hellish 2014 crossing from Morocco to the southern shore of Spain described how the accused, the Muslim captain of the inflatable craft identified as Alain N. B., blamed Christian passengers for the onset of a storm and forced six men off the boat to a certain death.
According to some of the 29 survivors from the more than 50 sub-Saharan migrants who boarded the boat near Nador, northern Morocco, the accused “blamed the rough seas which were rocking the boat on the prayers led by a Catholic pastor on board”.
Read survivor accounts of what transpired in the Full Report
(Voice of the Persecuted) France—Father Jacques Hamel, (age 85), was a French Catholic priest in the parish of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in the Normandy region in northern France. Local media reported that he still officiated regularly as an auxiliary priest at the church in St Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, and in neighbouring Elbeuf where he would step in when the parish priest was not available.
While leading the service in the absence of the parish priest on Tuesday morning, two Islamic jihadists entered the church and took Father Hamel, two nuns and two worshipers hostage. But they targeted the elderly priest and slit his throat.
Sister Danielle, one of the hostages, was in the church celebrating mass when the men stormed the building. She described the brutality of the attackers.
“‘They told me, “you Christians, you kill us”. They forced him to his knees. He wanted to defend himself. And that’s when the tragedy happened. They recorded themselves. They did a sort of sermon around the altar, in Arabic. It’s a horror.’
While they were attacking the priest, Sister Danielle managed to escape and call for help. Reports claim one of the hostages, an elderly parishioner, suffered severe knife wounds. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility and two of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.
When police arrived they tried to negotiate with the attackers, whom prosecutor Francois Molins said had lined up three hostages in front of the door as human shields to prevent police storming the church.
The three – two nuns and one parishioner – exited the church, followed by the attackers, one of whom was carrying a gun, who charged police shouting “Allahu akbar”, Mr Molins added. The pair were shot dead by police.
One of the attackers had fake explosives in a backpack. It would take hours for police to ensure the area was safe.
Father Moanda-Phuati, the parish priest of the Église St.-Étienne, where Father Hamel served, quickly returned from his trip. He spoke about the martyred priest and told French news agency—Le Figaro,
“He was a courageous priest for his age. Priests have the right to retire at 75 but he preferred to work in the service of the people because he still felt strong. He was very popular, a good man, simple and without extravagance. We benefited greatly from his experience and wisdom at the parish of Saint-Etienne. He served people for most of his life.”
Fr. Hamel was loved by the congregation. In the June 2016 edition of the parish news letter, Fr, Hamel shared,
The summer holiday time:
Spring was rather cool. If our moral was somewhat lowered, patience, was going to happen eventually. And the holidays.
The holidays are a time to take a distance with our usual activities. But this is not a simple bracket. It is a time of relaxation, but also of healing, dating, sharing, conviviality.
A Healing time: Some will take a few days for a retreat or a pilgrimage. Other reread the Gospel, alone or with others, as a word that sustains today. Others can recharge the great book of creation admiring them so different and so beautiful landscape that we rise and we talk about God.
May we hear in those moments God’s invitation to take care of this world, do, where we live, a warmer, more human, more fraternal.
a time to meet with relatives, friends: a time to take the time to experience something together.A time to be considerate of others, whoever they are.
A time of sharing: Sharing our friendship, our joy. Sharing our support to children, showing that they matter to us.
A time of prayer as: Attentive to what happens in our world at this time. Pray for those who are most in need, for peace, for a better living together.
It will still be the year of mercy. Are we attentive heart of beautiful things to each and those who may feel a bit more alone.
Let the holidays allow us to refuel friendship joy and relaxation. Then we can, better equipped, hit the road together.
Happy holidays to all!
Vatican Radio reported Pope Francis is horrified and shocked by an attack in a church in Rouen, in northern France, where a priest was slain and another hostage was seriously wounded.
A statement released by Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office said: “we are particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a Church, in which God’s love is announced, with the barbarous killing of a priest and the involvement of the faithful”.
Fr Lombardi also said the Pope shares the pain and the horror caused by this absurd violence and expresses firm condemnation of every form of hatred and prays for the victims.
French president François Hollande addressed the nation following the church attack. He visited the scene on Tuesday, said the country is now ‘at war’ with ISIS after the terror group claimed responsibility. He warned that the militant threat in the country has never been so severe. He also said France will use all human and physical resources in the war against Islamist militancy.
(World Watch monitor) Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has released a video, purporting to show that a Swiss nun kidnapped in Mali in January is alive and in good health.
The three-minute video, posted on social media yesterday (16 June), shows a veiled Beatrice Stockly speaking in French, saying that she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and has been treated well, although it has been very hot. She concludes by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all their efforts to secure her release.
Previous report (15 February): Al-Qaeda in Africa has claimed the kidnapping of the Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly, who was abducted in Mali in January.
In an eight-minute video, in which Stockly appears dressed in a black hijab, a masked speaker with a British accent claims responsibility on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
“Beatrice Stockly is a Swiss nun who declared war against Islam in her attempt to Christianise Muslims,” the speaker said.
The conditions of her release include setting free AQIM fighters jailed in Mali, and one of their leaders detained at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Switzerland has demanded her unconditional release.
AQIM, which is based in the Sahara Desert between Mali, Niger and Algeria, was involved in the January attack in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, which left 29 dead, including a US missionary and six Canadians visiting the country on behalf of a church. Last week AQIM released Jocelyn Elliott, an Australian Christian woman kidnapped with her husband in northern Burkina Faso on the same day as the attack in the capital. The Islamist group said in an audio recording that it released Mrs Elliott so as “not to make women involved in the war”.
Stockly was taken from her home in Timbuktu by armed gunmen on 7 January. It was the second time she had been kidnapped by Islamists. The most important condition of her release, the speaker in the video said, was that she did not return to any Muslim land preaching Christianity. The Swiss government had warned her not to return to Mali after her release in 2012.
Original report (11 January):
A Swiss missionary abducted for 10 days in 2012 has been kidnapped again in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu, sources tell World Watch Monitor.
Beatrice Stockly was taken from her residence before dawn on 8 Jan. by armed men, who arrived in four pickup trucks, according to the sources, whose names are being kept confidential for their safety.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Militant Islamist groups are active in the region, where two attacks within the past seven weeks, one of them at a Christian radio station just before Christmas, have left 25 people dead.
A local church leader, who claimed to have previously worked with Stockly, told World Watch Monitor the missionary settled in Timbuktu in 2000, working for a Swiss church, before starting work alone, unaffiliated with any church.
He said Stockly is in her forties and leads an austere life, selling flowers and handing out Christian material. She was described as sociable, particularly among women and children.
Her home is in Abaradjou, a popular district of Timbuktu frequented by armed jihadist groups. She was taken from that same residence in April 2012, when northern Mali was occupied by armed Islamist groups. She was released 10 days later, following mediation led by neighbouring Burkina Faso.
During the 2012 occupation, Christians, a minority in Mali, have paid a heavy price. For most of the year, armed Islamist groups ruled the region, banning the practice of other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship.
Thousands, including many Christians, fled and found refuge in the south, or in neighbouring countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso. Others fled to Bamako, the capital, and other safer towns in the south.
Unlike other Christians, Stockly remained in the city. At her mother and brother’s urging, she returned to Switzerland after her 2012 kidnap, but soon returned, saying, ‘‘It’s Timbuktu or nothing’’.
The Mali government and the predominantly Tuareg rebel groups signed a peace agreement in June 2015, with limited impact. Jihadist groups have regained ground and intensified attacks, targeting Mali security forces and UN peacekeepers. Their scope has spread to southern regions previously spared by their incursions.
On 17 Dec., three men were killed when an unidentified gunman opened fire outside Radio Tahanint (Radio Mercy in the local dialect), which is closely linked with a Baptist Church in Timbuktu. Hamar Oumar Dicko and Samuel Dicko worked for the station; Abdal Malick Ag Alher was a visiting friend.
Dr. Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara, President of the Baptist Church in Mali, told World Watch Monitor at the time that Christians were “shocked to see what happened”.
“We are trying to find out what happened, but for now we don’t have any explanation,” he said.
“It’s a Christian radio station that was broadcasting messages of peace lately. One of the young men who was shot last night, he had just finished broadcasting and his last words were about peace.”
“Insecurity is everywhere in Mali,” Yattara said. “The situation is very frail, but we didn’t see a particular threat to the community.”
About one month earlier, terrorists killed 22 people at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. The government imposed a state of emergency that expired on 22 Dec., then extended it to 31 March.
It is thought that the abduction of Stockly is the first of a foreigner since the kidnapping and killing of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, in the northeastern town of Kidal in November 2013.
(Raymond Ibrahim) On Easter Sunday, March 27, a suicide bombing took place near the children rides of a public park in Pakistan, where Christians were known to be congregated and celebrating the resurrection of their Lord. At least 74 people—mostly women and children—were killed and nearly 400 injured. “There was human flesh on the walls of our house,” recalled a witness. “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” said a Taliban affiliated group. In a media statement, it said it had “deliberately targeted the Christian community,” adding that “we had been waiting for this occasion.”
Click here, here, here, here, and here, for numerous examples of similarly lethal attacks on Christians celebrating Christmas or Easter by other Islamic groups and individuals around the world who also “had been waiting for this occasion.” Even “the terror cell that struck in Brussels [in March, killing 34] was planning to massacre worshipers at Easter church services across Europe, including Britain, intelligence chiefs believe, said a report.
In Scotland, a Muslim man stabbed another Muslim man to death for wishing Christians a Happy Easter. Asad Shah had posted messages on Facebook that said “Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation” and “Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.” Police said a 32-year-old Muslim man was arrested in connection with Shah’s death and confirmed that the attack was “religiously prejudiced.” Islamic law forbids Muslims from participating in or congratulating non-Muslims for their religious holidays as doing so implicitly validates other religions.
A Muslim nanny in Russia beheaded a 4-year-old girl, Anastasia, whom she had been taking care of for the last three years. Gulchehra Boboqulova, the Chechen origin nanny, went to a Moscow metro station and, for 20 minutes, waved the child’s severed while screaming “Allahu Akbar” [“Allah is greater”]. After her arrest, she said the murder “was what Allah ordered.” In the months before the slaughter, Bobokulova was said to have become “more religious,” including by wearing the hijab and telling her son to pray five times a day and live in accord with Sharia. Still, authorities recently concluded that she will not face a murder trial as she is clearly “insane.”
“ISIS carries out Good Friday crucifixion of Indian Catholic priest in Yemen after he was kidnapped three weeks ago in attack on old people’s home where four nuns were shot,” reported the Daily Mail. Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, a 56-year-old Indian Catholic priest, was seized by Islamic gunmen who attacked an old people’s home in Aden (see Yemen entry below). The “Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, told a congregation gathered in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the Austrian capital that the priest had been crucified.” Most recently, a report appeared indicating that Fr. Thomas was likely still alive and “that talks between the Indian government and Yemeni rebels to ensure his release were continuing.”
The rest of March’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Unknown Middle Eastern Nation: Islamic radicals killed four workers of a Christian organization that translates and publishes Bibles during an attack on the organization’s office in a Middle Eastern nation. Wycliffe Associates issued a statement saying that the attackers shot and destroyed all the equipment in the Bible translation office, without noting the nation’s identity. Two workers were apparently killed by gunshots, while two others laid atop of the lead translator and died while “deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons,” and managed to save his life. Several other people were also injured in the raid. The organization explained that the remaining team has vowed to re-double their effort to translate, publish and print the Gospel for the eight language communities that they had been working on.
Bangladesh: Two attackers with sharp weapons killed 68-year-old Hossain Ali, who converted to Christianity from Islam in 1999. ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of the apostate from Islam in a tweet: “A security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate was able, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, to kill the apostate (Ali), who changed his religion and became a preacher for the polytheist Christianity,” said the statement, adding that the murder was “a lesson to others.” In recent months ISIS has said it was behind a series of attacks on religious converts and minorities in Bangladesh.
Yemen: Four Islamic gunmen attacked an old people’s home in the port of Aden, killing at least 15 people, including four Missionaries of Charity nuns of Mother Teresa. Two of the slain nuns were from Rwanda, one from India, and one from Kenya. Another nun who survived by hiding inside a fridge in a store room. The gunmen, who initially told the guard they were at the old people’s home to visit their mother, stormed into the home with rifles and opened fire. The total dead included two Yemeni women working at the facility, eight elderly residents, and a guard. The motive of the gunmen was not known. They fled after the attack.
Ivory Coast: Shouting “Allah Akbar!” – “Allah is greater!”—a squad of boatmen leapt onto a beach in the resort town of Grand Bassam and proceeded to round up and kill Christian tourists. By the time security forces killed the terrorists, 14 tourists and two special forces personnel were dead, “all of them presumably Christians,” notes the report. At some point, witnesses say the gunmen captured a pair of children, one of them just five-years old. A gunman with a long beard threatened them. Both boys went to their knees in prayer, begging for their lives. The first boy knew an Islamic prayer by heart, so he was spared, but the five-year-old, being Christian, had no hope, and was shot dead. Images of the aftermath showed bodies strewn across the beach, several of them believed to be French tourists. Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack via social media. According to the report, “Ivory Coast is becoming a target for Islamic extremists who want to spread Islam around the globe. Previously confined to the desert regions of the Sahara, Muslims have recently started a campaign of aggressive, militant expansion into West and Central Africa.”
Nigeria: According to a March report, since 2000, some 12,000 Christians have been slaughtered for their faith and 13,000 churches destroyed, and not just by Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorist organization: “Northern Muslim political and religious elite are also major actors of targeted violence towards the Christian minority.” From mid-February to mid-March alone, 500 Christian farmers were butchered by Muslim herdsmen.
Pakistan: A Muslim man shot dead the son of a Christian family and threatened to rape his sisters, after their mother rejected his advances in the town of Qayum in Faisalabad City. The Muslim suspect, 57-year-old Tahir Jutt, who had a “known long-term infatuation” with 42-year-old Shazia Tahir, tried to intervene in a family argument Shazia was involved in. She rebuffed his offer to help; he left angry by the rejection. Later that day he returned to Shazia’s family home and started shooting at family members, killing 17-year-old Noel Tahir, and wounding several other family members, including the Christian husband and wife. Although initially detained by police, Jutt was eventually set free, only to continue threatening and terrorizing the Christian family. According to a rights activist, “This family are in desperate need for help, the perpetrator of violence has shown no remorse for the violence he meted out on this poor family and has increased their tension by stating he will repeat the violence if they dare to challenge him through the courts. Local police are being extremely slow and sluggish with this case, allowing Mr. Jutt to exhort great pressure on the family who have already had to suffer the surprising ignominy of the murderer of their son being set free on bail.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
United States: Three Christian statues at St. Maragaret’s, a Catholic church in Massachusetts, were vandalized. Two statues, which sit at the top of a hill on the property, had their hands severed and multiple sets of rosary beads removed and scattered on the ground. The third statue, located near the rectory and depicting the Virgin Mary, had its head severed and both hands removed. Although the identity of the vandals is unknown, Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, correctly observes that “in light of the curious fact that the head and hands were severed, the perpetrators could have been Muslims acting upon this Qur’an verse: “When your Lord inspired to the angels, ‘I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.’” (Qur’an 8:12). Also, Muslims have committed similar vandalism in many churches worldwide.”
Turkey: Late one night, four Muslim men went to the Agape Church in the Black Sea region and began banging and kicking at the front door. The church caretaker and a few congregation members were inside but refused to open the door. After they noticed they were being videotaped by a security camera, the assailants destroyed it and left the premises. (Image of the men kicking the door appears here.) According to the church’s pastor, Pıçaklar, “They attacked us knowing that they would get caught – they even looked at the security camera and smiled. Later they went to the police and turned themselves in, and today they were set free. So what should I do [in response] to these guys who drink until they get drunk, and when they get caught [attacking the church building], instead of fear and sadness, yell, ‘Allahuu Akbar!’? [Allah is greater]”—thus positioning their attack in Islamic terms. Pastor Pıçaklar said the incident was not just a “kick the door and go. These guys wanted the door open and to go inside and hit someone or attack in some other way.”
Greece: The Church of All Saints in Kallithea, Athens region, was set on fire. Although the kitchen was completely destroyed, the fire was quickly contained thanks to the fire department’s quick response. According to witnesses, “Arabic speakers” were behind the arson attack.
Uganda: After several threats and attacks—including the rape of her 13-year-old daughter—a mother who left Islam for Christianity and her five children fled their village. Amina Napiya, a 42-year-old widow, converted to Christianity in 2014, after her husband, Mohammed Dongo, died. She and her family remained secret believers until the beginning of this year, when relatives discovered they were followers of Christ. Attacks started soon thereafter: two motorcycles that had belonged to her late husband were stolen in January apparently by Muslim relatives who left an unsigned note saying, “We have taken the motorcycles, and soon we are coming for your life if you continue embarrassing the religion of the family. You have become an embarrassment to the family as well as the Muslim family.” A month later Napiya’s daughter was raped while fetching firewood nearby their home. The rapist told the girl, “This is the second warning to your mother for disgracing the faith of the Muslims.” Finally, she received an anonymous text, saying, “We have warned you several times, and our warnings are falling on deaf ears. We are on the way coming for you and your children.” The Christian woman and her children fled and were last reported as living in dire straits.
Separately in Uganda, a Muslim youth who converted to Christianity was attacked and ostracized by his family. After Mohammed Nsera graduated from high school last year, his Muslim family built a small house for him on their homestead. One week after he converted to Christianity, they burned it down. According to the convert, “I could not deny Christ when my father asked me whether I had joined Christianity. With a lot of joy I answered him affirmatively, with a yes. My uncle, who had a walking stick, hit me on my back, and my father tried to get hold of my shirt, but I managed to escape with a tattered shirt and a bleeding back.” While recovering at the home of a Christian 13 miles away, he learned that his family had burned down his house. “I received reports that my parents, uncle and some other Muslims were looking for me. I have lost my entire valuables, especially my academic certificates.” He has since taken refuge in an undisclosed village more than 60 miles from his home.
Pakistan: A 30-year-old Christian mother of three who was kidnapped and forced into an Islamic marriage but then escaped months later was returned to her abductor by her own family in hopes that it will spare other family members from persecution and arrest. Fouzia Sadiq, whose entire family works as bonded laborers in Pattoki, was abducted last July by her Muslim landlord, Muhammed Nazir. He told her family to forget about her as she “was now his property.” With her family’s aid, the women eventually escaped back to them. Her abductor-husband sent the police after her. They threatened her entire family, including by suggesting that they might seize and give her younger sister to Muhammad as a “consolation.” According to an involved human rights activist: “This family has gone through a torturous decision making process. They have not wanted to deliver their daughter back but the threats on their family were so extreme, including potential blasphemy law allegations and kidnap charges against Paris the brother of Fouzia, that they felt there was no other way out.” Fouzia is one of about 700 Christian girls who are kidnapped and forced into Islamic marriages every year in Pakistan.
Belgium: The council of Belgian imams rejected an initiative to pray for the souls of the victims of the Brussels terror attacks on the grounds that it is forbidden to pray for the souls of non-Muslims—“infidels.” For instance, Koran 9:113 states: “It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.” Instead, the Muslim scholars recommended the use of tawriya—using words that mean one thing to listeners and another thing from the speaker. One Muslim cleric said “We cannot pray over the souls of non-Muslims, but if we do this, we don’t have to call it a prayer. We can call it something else: ‘solidarity with the families of the victims.’ We can stand by them and support them.” Another said: “since this was a general event, in which Muslims as well as non-Muslims [were hurt], we address all of the victims, and wish them peace, mercy, and health,” though in their hearts they mean Muslims only.
Italy: According to Archbishop Matteo Maria Zuppi, recently appointed to head the archdiocese, “I really think it’s time for a mosque in Bologna. Some people think otherwise but they are wrong…. I also wish Islamic celebrations to be welcomed in schools… We shouldn’t be carried away by hateful generalizations, like the comparison between Muslims and terrorists.” However, according to the report, “Zuppi’s reflections are far distant from those of his predecessors. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, once warned the faithful to be wary of the West’s current integration project of Middle-Eastern, largely Muslim migrants. The late Cdl. Giacomo Biffi, archbishop of Bologna before Caffarra, was a respected theologian known for being “extremely politically incorrect,” and some note that his prophecies about Europe either returning to Christianity or surrendering to Islam were prescient for Italy today….” Zuppi also seems to overlook the historic fact that, whenever a region was conquered by Islam, one of the first signs of consolidation was/is the erection of a mosque atop the sacred sites of the vanquished: the pagan Ka’ba temple in Arabia was converted into Islam’s holiest site, the mosque of Mecca; the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, was built atop Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem; the Umayyad mosque was built atop the Church of St. John the Baptist; and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque upon the conquest of Constantinople.
Sudan: Pastor Ayoub Tilian, moderator of the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Khartoum area, was arrested at his office and taken to an unknown location. He was later released but ordered to report to security officials of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services—which is staffed by hardline Islamists reportedly upset that he may have spoken about the Sudanese government’s persecution of Christians—daily for interrogations. Discussing this incident, an area source said, “Things are very difficult here in Sudan as time after time we hear that a church leader is arrested.”
Iran: A pastor and three other Christians, all of whom appear to be converts from Islam, were sentenced, and banned from holding or attending any church services for two years. They were arrested earlier during a picnic in Daniel-e Shoosh, in southern Iran. The plainclothes secret police came to them with guns drawn, threatening and beating some in the group. The report does not mention what the alleged crime is. Most likely, if this case is like other allegations against non-Muslims, they were sentenced under the pretense that they are a “security threat to the nation.”
U.S. and UK: Despite all the widespread attention and international condemnation the mostly Christian Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram received—recall First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign saying “bring back our girls”—the US and British governments knew exactly where many of the girls were but failed to launch a rescue mission. According to Dr. Andrew Pocock, the former British high commissioner to Nigeria: “A couple of months after the kidnapping, fly-bys and an American eye in the sky spotted a group of up to 80 girls in a particular spot in the Sambisa forest, around a very large tree, called locally the Tree of Life, along with evidence of vehicular movement and a large encampment.” He said the girls were there for at least four weeks but authorities were “powerless” to intervene.
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.
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute
A look at the state of the religion in the U.S., Europe, and the world.
Who stands firm? Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer stands out among the Christian leaders during the Nazi era, for he was one of the few to actively resist the racist actions of the Nazi regime. In addition to his legacy of courageous opposition to Nazism, Bonhoeffer’s theological writings are still widely read in Christian communities throughout the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the sixth child of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer, born in Breslau, Germany, on February 4, 1906. He completed his studies in Tübingen and Berlin. In 1928, he served as vicar in the German parish in Barcelona; and in 1930, he completed his theological examinations at Union Seminary in New York. During this period, he became active in the ecumenical movement and accumulated international contacts that would later aid his efforts in the resistance.
In 1931, Bonhoeffer took a teaching position with the theological faculty in Berlin. There he produced many of his theological writings, in which he took a traditional viewpoint in Jewish-Christian relations, believing that the Jewish people must ultimately accept Jesus as the Messiah. This theological work greatly increased his prominence in the Christian German community.
Hitler Rises to Power
After years of political instability under the Weimar republic, most Christian institutions were relieved with the ascent of the nationalistic Nazi dictatorship. The German Evangelical Church, the foremost Protestant church in Germany, welcomed Hitler’s government in 1933. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, however, although a member of the German Evangelical Church, was not complacent. In his April 1933 essay, The Church and the Jewish Question, he assailed Nazi state persecution.
Bonhoeffer’s defense of the Jews, however, was based on Christian supersessionism – the Christian belief that Christianity had superseded Judaism as the new chosen people of God. Despite his outspoken defense of victims of Nazi persecution, Bonhoeffer still maintained, on a religious level, that the “Jewish question” would ultimately be solved through Jewish conversion to Christianity. The Church strongly advocated this view, as did the ecumenical movements most responsible for aiding Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism.
In The Church and the Jewish Question (1933), Bonhoeffer pledged to fight political injustice. The Nazi injustice must not go unquestioned, and the victims of this injustice must not go unaided, regardless of their religion, Bonhoeffer wrote.
With Hitler’s ascent, non-Aryans were prohibited from taking parish posts, and when Bonhoeffer was offered such a post in the fall of 1933, he refused it in protest of the racist policy. Disheartened by the German Church’s complacency with the Nazi regime, he decided to accept a position at a German-speaking congregation in London.
The opponents of Nazi interference in Church affairs formed the “Confessing Church,” Bonhoeffer was a key founding member of the church. Some members, including Bonhoeffer, advocated open resistance against Nazism. The more moderate Protestants made what they saw as necessary compromises to retain their clerical authority despite expanding Nazi control. But under increasing Gestapo scrutiny, the Confessing Church was soon immobilized.
Bonhoeffer returned to Germany to teach at Finkenwalde, a Confessing Church seminary, where he continued to train clergy for the Confessing Church. But the official church barred his students from taking its clerical posts. In August 1937, the regime announced the Himmler Decree, which declared the training and examination of Confessing ministry candidates illegal. Finkenwalde was closed in September 1937; some of Bonhoeffer’s students were arrested. Secretly, the church continued underground.
A scene from the movie ‘Bonhoeffer: Agent of God’. Bonhoeffer talks about “religionless Christiniaty” “in a world come of age”.
Bonhoeffer went into hiding for the next two years; he traveled secretly from one eastern German village to another to help his students in their small illegal parishes. In January 1938, he was banned from Berlin, and in September 1940, he was forbidden to speak in public.
In the midst of political turmoil, Bonhoeffer continued to question the proper role of a Christian in Nazi Germany. When German synagogues and Jewish businesses were burned and demolished on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, Bonhoeffer immediately left for Berlin, despite having been banned by the Gestapo, to investigate the destruction. After his return, when his students were discussing the theological significance of Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer rejected the theory that Kristallnacht had resulted from “the curse which had haunted the Jews since Jesus’ death on the cross.” Instead, Bonhoeffer called the pogrom an example of the “sheer violence” of Nazism’s “godless face.”2
The Confessing Church resistance expanded its efforts to help “non-Aryan” refugees leave the country. One member of the resistance movement was the passionate anti-Nazi, Hans von Dohnanyi, a lawyer married to Bonhoeffer’s sister. In early 1939, Dohnanyi was transferred from the Justice Department to the Armed Forces High Command Office of Military Intelligence, and used his new post to inform Bonhoeffer that war was imminent. Bonhoeffer, knowing that he would never fight in Hitler’s army, left the country in June 1939 for a teaching position at Union Seminary in New York.
But upon arrival in the United States, Bonhoeffer realized that he had been mistaken, that if he did not lead his people during the difficult years of war and turmoil, then he could not partake in the postwar revival of German Christan life. His place, he decided, was in Germany; he returned only a month after his departure, in July 1939. He undertook a more active effort to undermine the regime. With international contacts in the ecumenical movement, he became a crucial leader in the German underground movement.
In October 1940, despite previous Gestapo tracking, Bonhoeffer gained employment as an agent for Hans von Dohnanyi’s Office of Military Intelligence, supposedly working for the expansion of Nazism. In reality, he worked for the expansion of the anti-Nazi resistance. During his 1941 and 1942 visits to Italy, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries, he attempted to gain foreign support for the resistance movement.
While plans to topple Hitler progressed only slowly, the need to evacuate more Jewish refugees became increasingly urgent. In early 1943, however, the Gestapo, which had traced Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi’s large monetary sums intended for Jewish immigrants, foiled plans for a new refugee rescue mission. Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were arrested in April 1943.
Initially, the Gestapo believed that Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were embezzling money for their own interests. Then the truth began to leak out, and Bonhoeffer was subsequently charged with conspiring to rescue Jews, using official travel for other interests, and abusing his intelligence position to keep Confessing Church pastors out of the military. But the extent of Bonhoeffer’s resistance activities was not fully realized for months.
In October 1944, Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo prison in Berlin. In February 1945, he was taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and then to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he was hanged on April 9, 1945. Hans von Dohnanyi was executed soonthereafter. source