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The following are among the abuses Muslims inflicted on Christians throughout the month of May 2020:
The Slaughter of Christians
Nigeria: From January 2020 to mid-May 2020, Muslim terrorists massacred at least 620 Christians (470 by Fulani herdsmen and 150 by Boko Haram). According to a May 14 report:
Militant Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram … have intensified their anti-Christian violence … with hacking to death in the past four months and half of 2020 of no fewer than 620 defenseless Christians, and wanton burning or destruction of their centers of worship and learning. The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming apogee with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists. Houses burnt or destroyed during the period are in their hundreds; likewise dozens of Christian worship and learning centers.
The report further states that, since 2009, “not less than 32,000 Christians have been butchered to death by the country’s main Jihadists.”
Earlier this year, Christian Solidarity International issued a “Genocide Warning for Christians in Nigeria,” in response to the “rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants…” More recently, in a May statement, the Christian Rights Agenda, another human rights group, expressed concern for “the seeming silence of Nigeria’s President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces has not only failed to protect the Christian communities but has remained silent over these killings. To date, no Fulani herdsmen have been arrested and prosecuted over the killings, a development that has helped to embolden them.” It is worth noting that Buhari himself is a Fulani Muslim.
Separately, the Muslim man who murdered Michael Nnadi, an 18-year-old seminarian at the Good Shepherd Seminary, confessed from his jail cell that he did so because the youth “continued preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ” to his captors. According to the May 3 report, “the first day Nnadi was kidnapped … he did not allow [Mustapha Mohammed, his murderer] to have peace” due to his relentless preaching of the Gospel. Mohammed “did not like the confidence displayed by the young man and decided to send him to an early grave.”
Democratic Republic of Congo: Muslim fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces, which earlier pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), murdered at least 17 people, possibly many more, in the Christian-majority (95%) African nation. “They fired several shots in the air,” a local said. “When the population was fleeing, they captured some people and cut them up with machetes.” In late 2019, the same group murdered a pastor after he refused to stop preaching and convert to Islam.
Attacks on Christian Churches, Cemeteries, and Crosses
Greece: Muslim migrants ransacked and transformed a church into their personal toilet. This public restroom was once the St. Catherine Church in Moria, a small town on the island of Lesvos, which has been flooded with migrants who arrived via Turkey. “The smell inside is unbearable,” said a local. “[T]he metropolitan of Mytilene is aware of the situation in the area, nevertheless, he does not wish to deal with it for his own reasons.” According to the report:
This is only the latest incident … [I]t has become extremely common for Greek Orthodox Churches to be vandalised and attacked by illegal immigrants on Lesvos….
As a deeply religious society, these attacks on churches are shocking to the Greek people and calls to question whether these illegal immigrants seeking a new life in Europe are willing to integrate and conform to the norms and values of their new countries.
These continued attacks have ultimately seen the people of Lesvos, who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, become increasingly frustrated by the unresolved situation that has restricted and changed their lives as they no longer feel safe on their once near crime-free island.
Other incidents on Lesvos include “African immigrants ridiculing and coughing on police in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of olives trees being destroyed.”
Turkey: On May 8, a man tried to torch a church in Istanbul; the church had been attacked in the previous years, sometimes with hate-filled graffiti. When police detained the arsonist, he said “I burned it because they [Christians] brought the coronavirus [onto Turkey].” Discussing this incident, another report said that “Minorities in Turkey, such as Armenians, Rums and Syriacs [all Christians], as well as their places of worship, are occasionally targeted in hate attacks.”
Two weeks later, on May 22, in broad daylight, a man climbed the fence of a historic Armenian church in Istanbul and proceeded to yank off its metal cross and hurl it to the ground, as captured on surveillance footage. The man, who looks more like a Westernized “hipster” than an ardent Islamist, walks up to and stares at the cross for a while — he even looks at and strikes a pose for the security camera — before attacking the crucifix.
Pakistan: After Friday prayers on May 8, an armed Muslim mob shouting “anti-Christian slogans” attacked and tried to set fire to the Trinity Pentecostal Church in Hakeem Pura. Built 22 years ago, the church was desecrated, and a large cross and part of a wall broken. The Muslim man behind the attack had sold land to the growing church a year earlier, and now wanted it back. A Christian eyewitness said that the mob, “after attacking the walls and the cross, challenging anyone who dare oppose them, fled… Not only was the cross broken, but our hearts were crushed too.”
The Christian community there reportedly protested against the violation and tried to stop the vandalism. However, they were allegedly threatened with guns… [A]ll graves that were destroyed had crosses fixed on the top… [S]ome of the houses occupied by the Christians were demolished and people were forced to flee from their homes. Amid widespread discrimination against the Christian community in Pakistan, the properties owned by the minorities are often subjected to injustice including land grabbing and being the target of criminals. Moreover, the economic disparities and religious bias in Pakistan’s judiciary have increased the struggles Christians face to recover the lost land.
Serbia: On Sunday, May 31, two Muslim migrants entered the St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Belgrade during service and robbed several of the mostly elderly congregants. “There were two of them. They broke into the church during the liturgy, which was in progress, and they stole two purses along with three mobile phones,” a church leader said, adding:
Upon entering the temple, they split up on two sides, and after the people saw what was happening, they managed to catch one of them and take away his mobile phones and the money he stole. The other managed to escape. He took two purses, in one there were 3,500 dinars, while in the other there were 18,000, which was the entire pension of one woman. We handed that young man over to the police, while the other managed to escape. This is an insult. Isn’t anything sacred to people, such as the liturgy? Terrible.
Egypt: On May 30, 2020 — two days before President Trump recognized Global Coptic Day — Egyptian authorities demolished the only Coptic church in village of Koum al-Farag, even though it had stood for 15 years and served 3,000 Christians. According to the report:
The destruction of the church was a punishment for the ‘crime’ of building rooms for Sunday school…. When the work began, some extremist Muslims began to attack Christians.
A separate report on this incident relates:
According to an ancient Islamic tradition, or common law, churches are prevented from being formally recognised or displaying any Christian symbols if a mosque is built next to them.
The authorities decided to solve this issue by demolishing the church, which took a tractor “six long hours,” a Copt recalled:
The decision was not welcomed by the Christians in the village, so they protested by appearing at the site in possession of the documents. However, the police and some radicals began to insult and assault Christians, including women and children. The church leader received so many punches in the face and chest that he passed out.
Security camera footage led to his apprehension. Fortunately, no one was injured in this attack. Predictably, however, the prosecutors appear to be [pursuing] an acquittal on the claim that the perpetrator of the religious hate crime is also mentally ill. Based on precedent, it is extremely unlikely that this perpetrator will face any consequences for his attempt to torch a church.
Mozambique: Islamic terrorists attacked a monastery. The four monks residing in it managed to hide and emerge unscathed. However, the hospital they were building for a nearby village was destroyed by the armed Muslims. According to the May 18 report:
Little is known about the insurgents, and until recently there were doubts they were actually islamists, but they have claimed to be fighting for the imposition of Sharia law in the North of Mozambique…. The attack on the monastery, which included the destruction of a hospital that the monks were building in the village, is the second most serious attack against a Christian target since the troubles began. Last month a Catholic mission was also attacked, although, as here, nobody was killed. Other communities have not been so lucky, as the insurgents have left a trail of death and destruction behind them in the towns and villages they attack.
Nigeria: On May 7, a helicopter bombed and destroyed a church. The building was empty at the time; no casualties were reported. According to a local leader,
The helicopter used to hover around the area, dropping some things. We don’t know what they have been dropping but yesterday in the afternoon, the helicopter came and dropped a bomb … [The] Assembly of God church was destroyed including a nearby building…. Hours after the incident, a group of people numbering about 100 pass through the village carrying guns. Some were trekking while others rode on motorcycles. One of them was carrying a flag which is not a Nigerian flag; one other person was making some incantations in Arabic… People have fled the village… The question is who was in the helicopter dropping bomb?… We are very concerned … If it was a mistake by security agencies, they should come out and explain so as to allay the fears of the community.
Algeria: Four Muslim guards responsible for protecting a church vandalized and overturned its statue of the Virgin Mary. According to the report,
[T]he chapel of Santa Cruz built in stones extracted from the mountain of Murdjadjo where it is perched, was the object of an attempted theft… Four looters allegedly destroyed the statue of the Virgin Mary by attempting to steal it. They have even destroyed other holy monuments in their path….
It was later found, however, that the chapel’s four hired guards were themselves the “looters” responsible for the desecration. The report continues:
In addition, the Christian community in Algeria denounces… the intimidation which the faithful are subject to. Many Christians have denounced the series of closings of churches in the national territory. Several evangelical associations and organizations have called for an end to “the increasing pressure and intimidation from the Algerian government.”
Iran: On Sunday, May 17, a Christian cemetery was set ablaze, just two days after the tomb of the biblical Esther and Mordecai was also set on fire on the 72nd anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. Damage at the tomb — a holy site shared by Jews and Christians — was reportedly minimal. Few other details concerning the burned Christian cemetery aside from video footage showing smoke billowing over its walls are available. A Hindu temple was also reportedly set on fire in May.
While Europe has experienced a growing number of acts of vandalism and profanation of Christian sites, the greatest number of such acts have occurred in France, where churches, schools, cemeteries, and monuments “are being vandalized, desecrated, and burned at an average rate of three per day,” according to reports drawing from government statistics.
Although the identity of the vandals responsible for this latest outrage is unknown, it appears that Western European nations that have large Muslim migrant populations are seeing a disproportionate rise in attacks on churches and Christian symbols. According to a 2017 study on France — which has the largest Muslim population in Europe — “Islamist extremist attacks on Christians” rose by 38%, going from 273 attacks in 2015 to 376 in 2016; the majority occurred during Christmas season and “many of the attacks took place in churches and other places of worship.” Similarly, around Christmas 2016, in a German region where more than a million Muslims reside, some 50 public Christian statues (including those of Jesus) were beheaded and crucifixes broken.
Abduction, Rape, and Forced Conversion of Christian Women
Nigeria: Between March 23 and April 30, six young Christian girls and one older married woman were kidnapped. “We are saddened to report to you the battles we have been fighting even amidst the lockdown,” the Hausa Christians Foundation reported on May 4, adding that it “has been working on the following tragic incidences of abduction and forceful Islamization, despite the fact that the lockdown has limited our efforts.” The statement continues:
The usual practice is that these girls will be forced into marriage and perpetually be abused sexually, physical and emotionally. We are doing our best to rescue these precious lives but our efforts have been truncated by the current government imposed lockdown that has put everything on hold…. The simple reason for the injustice and the persecution we have been subjected to… is because of our faith in Christ Jesus.
Two of the young girls have since been rescued.
Pakistan: Another young Christian girl was kidnapped. According to a May 2 report,
On Sunday, April 26, a 14-year-old Christian girl … was abducted by a group of armed Muslim men… [T]he Christian girl’s family has filed a police report and is begging police to recover their relative…. Myra Shehbaz was abducted by a group of Muslim men led by Muhammad Naqash. Eye witnesses claim that Myra was attacked while she was traveling to her workplace as a domestic worker on Sunday afternoon…. Myra’s abductors forced her into a car and Myra tried to resist…. [The] abductors were armed and fired several shots into the air…. [The girl’s mother] fears her daughter will be raped, forcefully converted is [sic] Islam, or even killed…. [A]n estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian community are assaulted, abducted, forcefully married to their captor, and forcibly converted to Islam every year.
Egypt: In a May 22 report, Coptic Solidarity, a human rights organization focused on the plight of Egypt’s Christians, made the following remarks:
The indigenous Coptic Christians of Egypt continue to experience increasing persecution, by the government and society…. To illustrate, at least five Coptic women, including some minors, have reportedly been kidnapped or disappeared in just the last few weeks, and Egyptian state security has made no concerted effort to recover them…. Ranya Abd al-Masih, a Coptic wife and mother of three from a town just north of the capital, Cairo… remains hidden despite protests, including from the region’s church, which laments “the total lack of reaction by the authorities.”
Hate for and Abuse of Christians
Austria: A local newspaper reported:
A graffiti that rightly causes a lot of agitation. The lettering “Christians must die” can be seen at the Traisen-Markt train station. Above it, in the same style, the words “Allach Akkbar” [sic]. The removal of the graffiti has already begun and will cost about 500 Euros.
Uganda: A Muslim father burned his daughter for converting to Christianity. While traveling with her father, a sheikh (respected elder) of the Muslim community, Rehema Kyomuhendo, 24, heard the gospel and secretly converted. On the night of May 4, while she and her father were staying at her aunt’s home, she called a Christian associate: “As she was sharing Christ with me, I was so overjoyed,” Rehema later explained, “and my father heard my joy and woke up, came from his bedroom furiously and started beating me up with blows, slaps and kicks.” He also shouted that he was “going to kill her.” He broke a gas container, lit the pieces with the unspilt fuel, and began to burn his daughter. Her cries awakened her aunt, who protected her from the sheikh. Last reported, Rehema was expected to need more than a month of hospitalization due to “serious burns on her leg, stomach, rib area, near her neck and on part of her back.” No one has “reported the assault to police for fear that her father might try kill her.”
Pakistan: In another example of abuse of Christians in connection to COVID-19, “an Islamic cleric claims his organization is using COVID-19 food aid to convert non-Muslims to Islam,” according to a May 8 report. Speaking on Pakistani television, the cleric boasted of how when a destitute Christian man came for aid, the “staff of the organization offered him conversion against food which he accepted.” The man was subsequently renamed Muhammad Ramadan, signifying his conversion had occurred during the Muslim holy month. The cleric had added that Muhammad was then fasting (which is ironic considering hunger is what prompted him to convert in the first place).
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed in 2011 to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that occur or are reported 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 second-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.
Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications. He is theauthor of the recent book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Too many have been forced from their homes, villages, even countries from the violence and threats against them. Many are left with no means to fend for themselves. Without the love and support of caring hearts, they go hungry, homeless and often succumb to illness and disease. Each day we hear, “Please give us a chance” from those who are suffering for Christ. They cry, “Please help us”.
The picture above reflects the ongoing suffering many experience through persecution. When John and his family fled from their home seeking freedom from persecution, they faced a new battle and ongoing suffering in Thailand. Because his father is prevented from legally working, there was no money to take his son for much needed medical treatment. Unfortunately, his hands became worse and he developed a severe infection. This little boy experienced great pain and suffering. By the time treatment was finally provided, John had to spend 10 days in the hospital. How heartbreaking it progressed to this point before someone provided the funds to care for this child. Infections like John’s are common and likely due to a lack of nutrition and and the inability to purchase hygiene products. Many find it hard to even buy a toothbrush.
The situation for this family has not changed. John and his 2 siblings continue to go underfed. From month to month, his parents wonder how much longer they will have a roof over their heads or be forced out on the streets. Families like John’s suffer silently while waiting on the UNHCR asylum process which takes years. A staggering amount of these Pakistani Christians suffer to the extreme. They receive very little or no help to sustain and help them endure the painfully long wait to be moved to a welcoming nation. Many parents can’t even buy milk and diapers for their babies. Sadly, too few are trying to cover their needs. The UNHCR does not have a program to care for their needs, nor can they protect them from being arrested as illegals. Thailand doesn’t recognized asylum seekers. In 2011, James Lynch, a UNHCR Representative for Thailand said,
“The UN refugee agency believes no refugee should be locked up simply for being a refugee, so we applaud any measure that gets refugees out from behind bars. At the same time, we continue to work with the Thai government to prevent refugees from being arbitrarily rounded up and sent to detention centres.”
Unfortunately, it’s 2016 and the arrest rate of innocents fleeing persecution and hold UNHCR asylum certificates has risen. The approx. $1450USD to bail them out is an extremely high amount for most of us working for their survival. This costs takes food and shelter away from families suffering ‘outside’. The Thai government has developed a monthly plan to raid places known to house these Christian asylum seekers. They have ramped up their efforts to round them up and hold them in the most horrific conditions at the immigration detention centre. When funds are available, Voice of the Persecuted delivers nutritional food and toiletries for those suffering in the IDC. We remain in prayer that something can be worked out between the government and the UNCHR Bangkok office for their protection. We continue pray their asylum interviews can be fast tracked and moved to a country where they can worship Christ freely…this is their hope.
Severe depression and high blood pressure from stress, even in the young, is a critical issue among Pakistani asylum seekers. They are overlooked by government agencies and the Church as a whole. How can the Church ignore the suffering of the weakest members of the Body of Christ? They tell us the world has forgotten them, or looks at them as beggars. We assure them they are not, the world has left them no other choice.
Voice of the Persecuted is able to pay the costs of John’s medical care and hospitalization, but the family’s ongoing needs are a major concern. Without help, they’re lives remain at great risk.
To help John’s family, those we already cover month to month, and the many praying for relief on our waiting list, we ask, we beg, we pray for your help. In one of our cases, multiple families stay together in a two room ‘apartment’. All the adults except one woman have been arrested and taken to the IDC. She’s caring for 9 children on her own and is worried how they will survive. In another case, a woman with 6 children waits near the top of our list. She too cares for her children alone…her husband has been detained in the IDC for over 4 months.
We are short on the amount necessary to provide next month’s expenses for those we already care for. Voice of the Persecuted relies on the generosity of people like you, members of the Body of Christ to help this mission continue. If you can and would like to sponsor John’s family, the costs to cover shelter, food and basic necessities is only $230 USD per month. So many families are in great need. Take this information to your church, or faith group. Ask if the congregation could sponsor even one of these families or those still waiting on the lists. The costs would barely be felt by each individual. We are happy to send you or your church updates, photos and messages from ‘your family’. They would also love prayers, encouragement and messages from you!
For more information to aid a persecuted family in Thailand, contact us at email@example.com
Let us not forget them, nor think as the world, ‘someone else will step up to help’. Let us not regret the loss of even one of these ‘family members’ when there is surely a way to share and provide. But any help you can give is appreciated more than you could ever know.
L Kanalos, VOP Founder
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.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and 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
Trenton, MI. 48183
Article/photos may be reprinted with credit to Voice of the Persecuted.
There is something very dark happening throughout the world to our most precious, the children. In the Middle East, they are being used as pawns, tortured, raped, maimed and even killed. Used to force parents to convert or confess. There are horrific stories reported about these abuses. Reports recently from the UN show children starving, eating grass and living in boxes in Syria. The crimes being executed against these precious, helpless children are implausible and preposterous to us in the West, yet they are happening daily. It seems the West has turned it’s back not willing to deal with the issue. But these faces will be forever etched in our minds, and most importantly God’s mind.
Children are very precious in God’s eyes. They are not considered less in His eyes. Every child is a gift from heaven. We have done a great disservice to these suffering children of the world, ignoring the atrocities committed against them. Hearts have closed to their plight.
There are reports of torture that no one should endure, cigarette burns, ripping out of fingernails, rape, and even death.And targeted by rebel snipers in Syria. There are credible reports that children are recruited as soldiers. Children have been used as shields for terrorists, and a cover for weapons. This is pure unadulterated evil. What does God say? Does He say children are expendable, and they are less, or of a lesser God? No!
- Psalms 127:3 – Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
- Matthew 19:14 – But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 18:10 – Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
- Mark 9:37 – Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
There are many words from God in the Bible regarding His Children. Many words that go unheeded. There are a few that are trying to help, but for the most part those in a position to help close their eyes. And they are describing the humanitarian crises as the worst since WW2, as world food program are cutting rations.
Children should be held in high regard all in the world, as they are our next ‘Generation’. Certainly we know that God hold’s them in the Highest Esteem.
What can you do? Help us to educate the West on the atrocities taking place. Share these stories, speak out at church, ask your Church leaders to raise awareness. Write and call your representatives, and most of all pray. There are those that think prayers go unanswered, but they do not. Our prayers are taken before God. Pray for these innocent children, for they to are our brother’s and sister’s. Please pray for young and old suffering through this persecution.
‘Eating grass to survive’ in besieged Homs (BBC News)
Living in a Box, Eating Weeds: Syria’s Children on the Edge (NBC News)
U.N. Report Details Abuse of Children in Syrian War (New York Times)
FAQs: War in Syria, children, and the refugee crisis(World Vision)
C. Refsland, VOP Advocate
Ethiopian migrants pushed to the edge?
This attack comes following an operation by Saudi officials to expel all illegal immigrants from the oil rich nation. Since the operation began early in November, there are reports that about 3 Ethiopian nationals have been killed and many others gravely abused. Ethiopians across the world have held protests in the past two weeks, rebuking the Saudi government’s clamp down. The Ethiopian government is reportedly in the process of repatriating over 23,000 of its citizens who are in Saudi Arabia illegally.
According to the report of the incident, the suspected Ethiopian attackers confronted the Saudi Arabian man, who was driving around Casablanca, Al Ha-da area, knocking him unconscious before carving a cross on his chest with a metal object. The suspects fled the scene before the police arrived, but the authorities are reported to have been able to apprehend a number of suspects of Ethiopian origin in the area with the aid of locals.
Following reports of this attack, there have been speculations that the Ethiopian nationals behind the attack may be retaliating the perceived wrong wrought on their kinsmen by Saudi officials during the ongoing mass repatriation exercise. But neither Saudi Arabia nor Ethiopia have so far issued a statement to validate or dispute this claim.
This is not the first incident that highlights an underground religious conflict in the Muslim kingdom. Although no public churches operate in Saudi Arabia, Christians are reported to exist in the country—holding their meetings in individual houses and other locations. Several people reported to be Christians have been arrested by Saudi Arabia’s “religious police”, the Mutaween (or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) in the past for practicing their faith in public or attempting to proselytize to Muslims. Last year, about 36 Christians who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia were released after much criticism from governments and human right groups.
Pundits say Saudi official are dedicated to ensuring the kingdom retains its characteristic Islamic roots. Last year, Fox News quoted the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh saying it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.” But Saudi officials insist Christians are only arrested when they attempt to convert Muslims to their faith–by practicing in public. In Saudi Arabia, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.
Ethiopia is a traditionally orthodox christian state, the faith is reported to have been practiced in the state at least since the 4th century. Naturally, the thousands of Ethiopian migrants who are reported to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia yearly attempt to practice their religion— but with great difficulty. While Christians face persecution in Saudi Arabia, Muslims also face persecution in Ethiopia. In the past few years, the Ethiopian government is reported to have increased surveillance of its relatively small Muslim population, with several clashes and arrests recorded.
In a Wikileaks report, Sheikh Elias Redman, a notable figure in the Ethiopian Muslim community noted that fundamentalist Wahhabist influence is spreading among Ethiopian Muslims, threatening the existence of Ethiopia’s Sufi version of Islam which promotes religious tolerance and co-existence with Christians. The Sheikh also revealed that these attempts are being supported by Saudi Arabia, allegedly to influence Ethiopia’s moderate Muslims with the Kingdom’s more traditional version of the religion.
Photo: Migrants wait to be transported to deportation centres in Riyadh. [AFP/Fayez Nureldine]
David Cameron will almost certainly get his Syrian war. Who will fight it, let alone who will win it, remains unclear. But who will lose it is already known — the Christians.
The relentless persecution of Christ’s followers is foretold in the Gospel. Suffering is portrayed as the pathway to triumph. The global position today conforms quite closely to that picture. Three quarters of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians — the expanding part — now live outside the largely tolerant West. At the same time, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that Christians suffer more persecution than any other religious group.
Within the Middle East, however, the story is not of expansion accompanied by persecution, but of persecution leading to elimination. The ‘Sunday’ people are now following the ‘Saturday’ people out of the Middle East. The outgoing Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who knows that history, has called the suffering of Arab Christians ‘a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked’. He complained that ‘people don’t speak more about it’.
But do not expect the British government to speak about it. In all the deliberation about targets, timetables and media opportunities, as they ratchet up Britain’s creaking war machine, not a moment will be wasted on the consequences of intervention for Syria’s Christian population. Whether in Iraq, or Syria, or Egypt, or in any future hotspot (Lebanon will probably be next) the Christian community somehow is always just too insignificant, and usually on the wrong side of the argument. In Iraq, Christians were thought too close to Saddam. In Syria, they are reckoned too close to Assad. In Egypt, where the Coptic Pope openly backed the military ‘non-coup’ against the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Morsi, the Christians find no sympathy from western policy makers.
One reason is that Arab Christians do not fit into the governing global misconceptions. In the Middle East, reflective people are unimpressed by promises of democracy. In particular, Christians there have understood, after centuries of experience, that western promises are worthless, because westerners never stay engaged. Christians reckon that their only guarantee of survival is stability; that their only hope for equality is secularism; and that their two great enemies are Islamic zeal and anarchy. And they are right, even if that makes no sense to Britain’s neocon Prime Minister and his advisers.
Wherever any strongly Islamic regime is in power, Christians suffer. It is an immutable rule. And the more Islamic the state, the harsher the treatment Christians receive. Since the Arab Spring, every upheaval or election in the Middle East has brought some brand of Islamist to power. In every case, Christians are threatened.
Iraq’s troubles preceded those of the rest, but they are important because they eerily prefigure them. ‘Democracy’, imposed at gunpoint, has meant in Iraq, among other horrors, the mass persecution of the country’s Christian minority. Murders, kidnappings, intimidation and expulsions, impelled by a mixture of greed and fanaticism, have reduced that ancient, venerable community to total ruin. Of some 1.4 million Christians living in Iraq before the war, perhaps 400,000 — mostly the poor and the old — remain.
Many Iraqi refugees left to join the two million indigenous Christians of Syria. They now share their hosts’ lot — persecution by the western-supported, Saudi-financed, Islamist-dominated Syrian rebels. Large areas of opposition-held Syria are now under sharia law. Saudi judges have appeared to administer it. Non-Muslims are only tolerated if they pay the jizya, the tax imposed on infidels.
Priests are special targets. This is where a Syrian Catholic priest, Father François Murad, was murdered last month. He was not the first to die. A Syrian Orthodox priest, Father Fadi Haddad, was grabbed last December as he left his church to negotiate the release of a kidnapped parishioner. His body was found by the roadside, the eyes gouged out. Two higher-profile recent cases — if not high enough for the government or most of our press to notice — are those of the Greek Orthodox archbishop Paul Yazigi and the Syriac Orthodox archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. They were seized near Aleppo in April, when trying to negotiate the release of kidnapped priests. Both archbishops are now presumed dead.
The case of Egypt is more problematic for the West, which, with Britain as chief dupe, has managed to misread and misplay every move since the fall of Mubarak in early 2011. The West thought that removing a dictator would ensure democracy. Instead, it permitted the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, not a party but an unreconstructed Islamist movement, which rapidly, if incompetently, sought to reshape Egypt, until non-Islamists rebelled, and the army intervened. Whether the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Tawadros II, turns out to have been inspired or just foolhardy in backing the army, only events will decide.
By his action he rejected the traditional Muslim assumption that Egypt’s Copts — 10 per cent of the population — enjoyed second-class status. That was a direct challenge. The Islamists have reacted wherever they are in control. Since Morsi’s removal, 58 Christian churches, as well as several convents, monasteries and schools and dozens of homes and businesses have been looted, burned and in many cases destroyed. Tawadros himself has gone into hiding. In Cairo, Franciscan nuns watched as the cross over their school was torn down and replaced by an al-Qa’eda flag; the school remains were burnt; and then three of the sisters were marched through the streets, while a mob hurled abuse at them. The reaction of the US State Department’s official spokesman to these outrages was: ‘Clearly, any reports of violence we’re concerned about, and when it involves a religious institutions [sic], are concerned about that as well.’ The words ‘church’, ‘Christian’ or ‘persecution’ could not cross that eloquent spokesman’s lips. Nor, it is safe to say, will they figure in one of William Hague’s innumerable tweets.
This refusal to acknowledge the systematic maltreatment of Christians by Islamic governments is, of course, shameful, but also revealing. The facts are well known, but they are ignored. They embarrass, because they expose the impotence of the West, whereas its leaders like to pose as statesmen arbitrating the future of nations. But they also embarrass modern liberals generally, because they show how little has changed in the great religious and cultural struggles that dominate history.
In May, Pope Francis canonised some 800 martyrs. These Otranto martyrs were all beheaded by the Ottoman Turks in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam. What now faces Christians in the Arab world, as the West flounders, blunders and postures, may yet provide further reminders of Otranto.
by Robin Harris
NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremists suspected to be rebel Al Shabaab militants have kidnapped a Christian mother of two young children in Somalia and threatened her husband because of their faith, her husband said.
Three masked men abducted Shamsa Enow Hussein, 28, on Aug. 5 in Bulo Marer, Lower Shebelle Region, at 7 p.m. outside her home after determining that she was a secret Christian, 31-year-old Mohamed Isse Osman told Morning Star News.
“I just heard screaming from my wife and the children as I approached my house,” Osman said.
That night, his wife was able to send him a text message saying he should flee the area, he said.
“Please leave immediately because of what we believe,” she said in the text. “They have abused me sexually saying I am an infidel.”
Osman said he has received anonymous, threatening text messages from the kidnappers from a withheld number, including one reading, “Your wife has told us all about your Christian involvement and soon we shall come for you too.”
A leader of the underground church in the undisclosed town to which Osman and his daughters, ages 3 and 5, have fled said Osman has not heard from his wife since her Aug. 5 text message.
“Our two young daughters are crying for their mother,” Osman told the church leader.
A resident of the Bulo Marer area whose name is withheld confirmed that Hussein was abducted but that local residents knew little else about it.
“What little we knew about Osman’s family was that they were not very committed to attending the mosque during Ramadan time,” he said.
Somalis consider themselves Muslim by birth, and apostasy, or leaving Islam, is punishable by death.
Al Shabaab, said to have ties with Al Qaeda, reportedly has a base in Bulo Marer. The group has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians, who meet secretly due to persecution. Al Shabaab is battling the Somali government that replaced the Transitional Federal Government a year ago, on Aug. 20, 2012.
On June 7 in Jamaame District in southern Somalia, insurgents from the group shot 28-year-old Hassan Hurshe to death after identifying him as a Christian, sources said (see Morning Star News, June 20). Al Shabaab members brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said.
The insurgents have lost control of several areas of Somalia since Kenyan military forces helped to dislodge them in the past year, but they are suspected in the shooting death of a Christian pharmacist on the outskirts of Kismayo in February. Two masked men killed Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on Feb. 18 as he stood outside his house in Alanley village (see Morning Star News, Feb. 28).
On April 13, Al Shabaab rebels shot his widow, 42-year-old Fartun Omar, to death in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Beledweyne, leaving their five children orphaned (see Morning Star News, April 22).
On March 23, Al Shabaab militants in Bulo Marer jailed and tortured a Christian, 25-year-old Hassan Gulled, for converting from Islam, sources said (see Morning Star News, April 16).
On Dec. 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, gunmen killed a Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam. Two unidentified, masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home, Muslim and Christian sources said (see Morning Star News. Dec. 14, 2012).
Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before. The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.
In the coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16, 2012, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said (see “Morning Star News, Nov. 17, 2012).
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in the Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim.
How can we sit back and do nothing, while innocent people are tortured and abused? How can we call ourselves civilized? Have we really become that desensitized? Have our hearts really grown so cold? What have we become? The silence is deafening!
As long as we have our freedom to do so, STAND UP for those who need you! One day they may stand for you!
We must increase our effort to bring Pastor Saeed’s story to the world. Our actions could SAVE HIS LIFE! If you have not already done so, please sign the International petition #Save Saeed. Our brother needs us!
ACT NOW, we are short 57,175 signatures needed by the beginning of March. Please share this link and ask all you know to SIGN! To those outside of America, we need your signatures too!
I pray God stirs your heart to action and may peace be upon you all.
The ACLJ reports:
Yesterday, Saeed’s Iranian family was able to visit Saeed in Evin Prison and tell him the truth about the outpouring of love and concern for him across America.
The Iranian prison guards told Saeed we’d abandoned him, that he was forgotten and alone. Saeed’s family told him that hundreds of thousands of Americans had signed petitions for his freedom, and they told him of the musicians who were all rallying to support him and call for his freedom.
His wife, Naghmeh told us how much the musicians’ support touched his heart:
When I first met Saeed, music was an important part of worship and prayer. He would often listen to Christian radio. When he heard about Savesaeed.org and the number of artists that he admired he was encouraged by their involvement – advocating for his release. It brought him hope as he suffers in his dark prison.
While Saeed’s spirit is strong – stronger now that he knows he is far from forgotten – his treatment is still intolerable. He reports he is being abused physically and psychologically. We must redouble our efforts to #SaveSaeed. The first U.N. meetings are in early March, and we want to tell the U.N. that 300,000 Americans have called on the international community to demand Saeed’s release. More than 240,000 have signed, and thousands more are signing each day.
Now is the time. Sign the petition to Save Saeed. Your support helps keep hope alive!
To learn more about Pastor Saeed Abedini, wrongfully imprisoned in Iran click here
American Pastor Saeed Abedini, has been charged with threatening national security and sentenced to 8 years in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. Many in this prison do not survive only a few months of the extremely brutal mistreatment. While there, he has been tortured and abused and has received minimal medical care. Being that Saeed is a Christian, the Muslim medical staff do not want to tend to, or even come near him. He is considered “unclean”, because of his faith in Christ. Why is this happening? Simply for sharing his Christian faith in homes across Iran. For this reason, he is seen as a threat to the Islamic Iranian government.
In 2009, he was briefly detained by the Iranian regime for leading a house church movement. He signed an agreement to discontinue these activities and Iran agreed to release him. The purpose for his return to Iran was to visit family and to work on building a much needed orphanage, open to children of any faith. Pastor Abedini has a heart for orphans, children so easily forgotten in the world. His wife, Naghmeh says he has held up to his part of the agreement, but Iran has not. Naghmeh and their two small children are desperate for him to return home to the U.S. quickly and safely!
Saeed has shown COURAGE few of us can comprehend. Pastor Saeed is being wrongfully held in Iran. ACT NOW and SIGN the International petition. Your signature could SAVE HIS LIFE! People from all nations may sign this petition. Please help us Save Saeed, OUR BROTHER!