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Report Series: Death and Destruction for Christmas: Muslim Persecution of Christians, December 2016

Police at the site of the Berlin Christmas market attack, which left 13 dead.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute

As in previous years, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Islamic attacks on Christians—much of it in the context of targeting Christmas related worship and celebrations.

The one to claim the most lives occurred in Egypt.  There, on Sunday, December 11, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself and killed at least 27 worshippers, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 70.  A witness described the aftermath: “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene.  I saw a headless woman being carried away.  Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people’s flesh off the floor.  There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”  In death toll and severity, this attack (pictures and videos of the aftermath here) surpassed the New Year’s Day bombing of an Alexandrian church that killed 23 people in 2011.  A couple of weeks before Dec. 11’s bombing, a man hurled an improvised bomb at St. George Church in Samalout.  Had the bomb detonated—it was dismantled in time—casualties would likely have been higher, as the church was packed with thousands of worshippers congregating for a special holiday service.  In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate—including “you will die Christians”—were painted on the floor of yet another church, that of the Virgin Mary in Damietta.

In Germany, Anis Amri, a Muslim man from Tunisia and asylum seeker, seized a large truck, killed its driver and pushed his corpse onto the passenger seat, and then drove the truck into the Christmas market of Berlin. Twelve revelers died and 65 were injured, some severely.  Four days later, the suspect was killed in a shootout with police near Milan.  The attack was similar to the Nice, France, terror strike, where another Muslim man drove a truck into crowds, killing dozens.  ISIS claimed responsibility, though initial reports claimed the man had no ties to Islamic terror groups.

In Turkey, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus entered a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year celebrations and shot 39 people dead, wounding several dozens.  The Islamic State later claimed the terrorist attack and portrayed it as an assault on Christian infidels and their Muslims sympathizers.  An ISIS spokesman said a “heroic soldier of the caliphate … attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast”; he characterized the government of Turkey as being “the servant of the cross.”   Separately, and ironically, Turkey’s National Ministry of Education issued an email to about 35 German-funded teachers in Istanbul.  It said:  “No more Christmas celebration and/or lessons on Christmas including carol singing is permitted, effective immediately.”   As the report adds, “That Turkey is the homeland of the real ‘Santa Claus’ is an irony largely lost on most media: St Nicholas, who secretly left gifts for poor children, was in fact Bishop Nicholas who lived in c.300 AD” in formerly Christian Turkey, or Anatolia, before the Islamic conquests.

In the Philippines, as Christians were celebrating Christmas Eve Mass in a Catholic church in Mindanao, a grenade exploded by the entrance.  Sixteen people were wounded.  According to the report, “No group has claimed responsibility for the Mindanao attack, but Muslim rebels and Islamist extremists are known to be active in the province, where there have been blasts in the past.”

On Christmas Day in Cameroon, an Islamic suicide bomber targeting Christians killed a young student and a woman, and injured five others, in an attack on a market full of Christmas shoppers in Mora.  Authorities said the bomber, who also died in the attack, was from the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, centered in neighboring Nigeria, and that the casualties could have been much higher had a vigilance committee not spotted the jihadi, who was pretending to be a beggar, and prevented him from penetrating the crowded market.

During Christmas weekend in Baghdad, Iraq, two Christian shops were attacked with gunfire.  Three were confirmed dead, though local activists say as many as nine were killed.  The shops were presumably attacked for carrying alcohol.  “What a bloody gift they gave us for Christmas,” Joseph Warda, a human rights activist, said.

A Muslim migrant in Italy who, according to police, “wanted to destroy Christian symbols,” managed to set a church nativity scene aflame and destroy a separate statue of Mary.  He was caught in the act by the church’s priest, who notified authorities. They rushed to the scene and fought to restrain the man, who was reportedly suffering from a “visible psycho-physical crisis.”

A fortnight before Christmas in a region in Germany that contains more than a million Muslims, approximately 50 public Christian statues (of Jesus, Mary, etc.) were beheaded and crucifixes broken.  Many local Germans were left “shocked and scared,” said the report.  Police, who called it a “religiously motivated attack,” said they “want this fear to disappear as soon as possible.”

The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group.  One Arabic-language message called “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to mobilize lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.”  Manuals for the use and preparations of weapons and explosives for aspiring assailants were also available on the same social media platform.

Police in Australia arrested seven men—described as “self-radicalized” and “inspired by the Islamic State”—for planning a series of bomb attacks in the heart of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, on Christmas Day.  Among their targets was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Four hundred police were involved in the raid, and more were deployed on Christmas Day as a precautionary measure.

In Pakistan, 43 people, mostly Christian, died, and another 120 were hospitalized, after they drank tainted alcohol at a Christmas celebration in the Muslim majority nation.  Joseph Arshad, Christian bishop of Faisalabad, while visiting the sick in the hospital, said, “This tragic event turned the joyous festivity of Christmas into mourning with many lives still hang[ing] in the balance due to critical conditions” of many patients.  A judiciary inquiry needs to be conducted to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In Uganda, 19 masked Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar” and “Away from here, this village is not for Christians but for Allah,” stormed a church compound during Christmas Day service, and savagely beat 15 Christians.  Five were seriously wounded with broken bones.   “Previously at an all-night Christmas Eve service, a Muslim had put his faith in Jesus Christ and had been immediately healed of illness,” said the report:  “Yasiini Mugoya said he returned home and shared the gospel of Christ with his fellow Muslims early on Christmas morning. ‘They started beating me and forced me to lead them to the church compound where the Christians had prayed for me and I had received salvation and healing.  When we arrived at the church, the Muslims started attacking the church members.’”

In Indonesia, Muslims yelling “Allahu Akbar” stormed a building where hundreds of Christians were lighting candles and singing “Silent Night” as part of a Christmas service, and forced the celebrations to be stopped.  Shortly before the group stormed the building, the pastor had just prayed and said “Christmas is not a day for hatred but Christmas is a day for reconciliation and peace.”  Separately, the nation’s military and paramilitary personnel—a total of 150,000 people—were on high alert during Christmas as militant Muslims stepped up their anti-Christmas rhetoric and threats.   Security forces managed to kill three Islamic terrorists discovered with bombs which they had planned to use; another dozen or so Islamic terrorists were arrested for also planning Christmas time attacks.

Anti-terrorist forces in Bangladesh foiled a planned suicide attack on a Catholic church during Christmas.   The conspirators, who belong to the “New Group of Mujahidin,” planned to bomb Holy Spirit church in Dhaka, the capital, but were tracked and arrested on Christmas Eve.

Authorities from Christian-majority Kenya said intelligence revealed that Al-Shabaab, an Islamic terror group in neighboring Somalia, was planning a series of terrorist attacks during the Christmas season, including on houses of worship.  The nation was placed on high alert and citizens were told to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities.

One Christmas Day, a video was released of a Catholic priest who was kidnapped on March 4, 2016 in Yemen, when Islamic terrorists raided a nursing home and killed 16 people, including several nuns and aid workers. In the video, Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, who appeared weak and out of breath, said “Nothing has been done by Pope Francis or the Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get me released, in spite of contact being made by my captors.”  He also implored the Catholic pope: “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life.”

Several flyers and posters were found plastered on churches all throughout South Sudan during the Christmas season.   They contained anti-Christian rhetoric and “included calls for Muslims to neither visit nor congratulate their Christian neighbours on the festive season,” said the report.

More stories of Christian experiences under ISIS continued to emerge in December. “I just want to go home,” said 80-year-old Victoria Behman Akouma, now in a refugee camp.   When ISIS took over her town in August 2014, “They asked me to convert to Islam, but I told them I will die a Christian and that they can kill me if they want to.”

Based on the findings of a prominent statistician and researcher in Italy who was interviewed on Vatican Radio, “Christians continue to be the most persecuted believers in the world with over 90,000 followers of Christ being killed in the last year”; this comes out to one death every 6 minutes on average, the majority of which occur in Africa.

The rest of the accounts of Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in the month of December, though with little direct relation to Christmas, include:

Austria:  A 22-year-old Muslim asylum seeker from Afghanistan stabbed a Christian woman with a knife for reading from the Bible in the asylum center.  According to the report, the man “had taken offence to the fact that the woman had been invited by Christian residents of the property to discuss the Bible. When he found out what she was doing, he stormed into the kitchen where the woman was standing and tried to plunge the knife into her upper body.” The 50-year-old woman’s thick winter coat deflected the knife, but “she did injure her ear when she fell backwards from the force of the man’s violent blows.”

Crete:  Unknown vandals set fire to the Church of Archangel, in the Lagolio village of Crete.  The only clue to their identity is that they wrote “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic on the walls, “infuriating locals,” said the report.  Although local residents managed to put out the fire before it spread, icons and other sacred items were burned.

Democratic Republic of Congo: In a region where Islamic terrorists associated with the Allied Democratic Forces are highly active and where many people of the Christian-majority nation have been killed, a young nun was found shot dead in her office.  According to the pontifical institute’s World and Mission magazine, Sister Marie Claire joins a growing list of clergy in Africa “who have given their lives for the Gospel.”

Uganda:  Muslim relatives beat a 30-year-old former Islamic teacher unconscious after he publicly confessed he converted to Christianity.  Then, on December 8, Muslims attacked his 60-year-old mother who, after visiting and listening to her ostracized son’s conversion journey, also embraced Christianity; they gashed her head open and broke her hand.   Separately, Muslims destroyed the home of a single mother because she converted from Islam to Christianity.  On December 23, she received a letter in Arabic reading, “Be warned that if you do not return to Islam, then your days are numbered. We do not want to be associated with infidels. You have become a disgrace to Allah and the Muslim community at Kitoikawononi.”  On the following day, Christmas Eve, Muslims came and razed the woman’s home to the ground, leaving her and her three children homeless.

Indonesia: A man entered an elementary school in East Nusa Tenggara, walked to the back of a classroom and began stabbing children. Seven children were injured. The man, who was reportedly Muslim, recently migrated to the village which is reportedly 90% Christian. Angered villagers stormed the police station, overpowered the police, and killed the man who stabbed their children.  Separately, a group from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) stormed and threatened a car dealership which had asked its employees to wear Christmas themed outfits.

Pakistan:  A Muslim man beat and kicked a 58-year-old Christian woman unconscious after she refused to clean his home because she was already overbooked with two other homes.  “She offered to come back another day with a team of a further two cleaners, however the landlord wanted his home cleaned immediately,” said the report.  When Bashiran [the woman] refused, stating that she was too old to take on another job, especially of this size on her own, Afzal [the man] became angry.  He glared at Bashiran and accused her of disrespect as Christians should not be refusing to take orders from Muslims. Bashiran was pushed to the floor, and Mr Afzal began kicking and punching her until she became unconscious.” When her son went to the police, they refused to register the crime; when the family pushed the case, Muslims threatened to kill the Christians unless they dropped it.   Separately, a Christian boy was videotaped being publicly beaten for drinking water from a fountain located inside a mosque.   The video shows the boy yelling and screaming after being whipped with wooden sticks and beaten with shoes. 

Egypt:  A “reconciliation meeting” was held by top officials in Naghameesh, where a building Christians were using to hold church services was torched by angry Muslims.  Although the “brotherhood of all Egyptians”—Christians and Muslims—was the main theme, when it came to the question of giving their fellow Christian brothers the same right to worship, the majority of Muslim leaders and family members at the reconciliation meeting continued to refuse them a place to pray in. Authorities acquiesced and did nothing to support the Christians.  “We don’t understand what is so dangerous about the Copts praying and exercising their legal rights in this matter,” one local Christian said.  Separately, but around the same time, the Egyptian government boasted that it is opening 10 new mosques every week; that there are 3,200 closed mosques that need renovating, and that the government is currently working on 1,300 of them; that it will take about 60 million Egyptian pounds to renovate them, but that the government has allotted ten times that much, although a total of three billion is needed; and that the Egyptian government is dedicated to spending that much—for “whoever abuses public funds [which should be used for Islamic worship], enters a war with Allah, ”  to quote Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom‘a, Minister of Awqaf, or endowments.  But when the nation’s more than 10 million Christian minority seeks to build or renovate a church—and pay all expenses from their own pockets—Muslims riot and authorities acquiesce.

Iran: “Between May and August 2016 [Iranian] security forces arrested at least 79 Christians,” said a December report, even though “the true number of Christians apprehended by the authorities could be notably higher,” because “many” arrests are never recorded.   “At the time of writing some of these 79 Christians remain in detention and have still not been formally charged.”

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.

Raymond Imbrahim

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State Department eventually granted Sister Diana a visa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Pakistan: Three separate incidents involved attacks on churches:

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

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

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

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

Egypt: Two churches were attacked:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom


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

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

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

Dhimmitude

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

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

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

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

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

Italian Dhimmitude

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

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

Egyptian Dhimmitude

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

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

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

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

Coptic Kidnappings

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

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

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

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

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

About this Series

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

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

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


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

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

[3] According to Bishop Mar Mellis:

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

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

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

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

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

[4] According to International Christian Concern:

Fikere Mengistu’s family has owned their land for more than 90 years, but a mob of more than 20 Muslims in Kufanzik village remain intent on forcibly building a mosque on the Mengistu farm in defiance of the law. Muslims make up the religious majority in the area. They have destroyed his fence and have looted his possessions. In addition, the local police are complicit in these attempts to steal his land…. The authorities are letting it happen. In the past, he has faced threats from local police officers, has been forced to pay bribes, and has been imprisoned simply because he is a Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

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

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Egypt: Christian Testimony against Muslims Rejected in Courts

Capture-court

Popular Egyptian columnist Karima Kamal recently wrote that although the Egyptian constitution stipulates equality before the law, the judiciary does not apply this provision and refuses the testimony of Christians against Muslims in courts.   Anecdotal evidence supports her claim.   Some weeks earlier, the following letter was published on Arabic media:

Yesterday I suffered an extremely harsh and psychological shock.   I went to court with one of my neighbors, a widow, to serve as witness in an inheritance case.  Another neighbor and witness accompanying us was a young Christian.  We had all been living as one family.  Imagine my shock, then, at the judge who very rudely and with incomprehensible disapproval rejected the testimony of the [Christian] youth [saying]: “It is unacceptable for a Christian to testify against a Muslim.”

In fact, Islamic law maintains that the testimony of an “infidel” cannot be accepted against a Muslim.

Raymond Ibrahim

Jihad on Churches: Muslim Persecution of Christians, March 2015

On Sunday, March 15, as Christian churches around the world were celebrating morning mass, two churches in Pakistan—one Catholic, one Protestant—were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. At least 17 people were killed and over 70 wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility. It is believed that the group had hoped for much greater death tolls, as there were almost 2,000 people in both churches at the time of the explosions.

According to eyewitnesses, two suicide bombers approached the gates of the two churches and tried to enter them. When they were stopped—including by a 15-year-old Christian youth who blocked them with his body—the Islamic jihadis self-detonated. Witnesses saw “body parts flying through the air.”

According to an official statement of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, despite all the threats received by the churches, authorities only provided “minimal” security.

As in other Muslim-majority nations, churches in Pakistan are under attack.  On September 22, 2013, in Peshawar, Islamic suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church right after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of approximately 550 congregants, killing nearly 90 worshippers. Many were Sunday school children, women, and choir members. At least 120 were injured.

One parishioner recalled how “human remains were strewn all over the church.” (For an idea of the aftermath of suicide attacks on churches, see these graphic pictures.)

In 2001, Islamic gunmen stormed St. Dominic’s Protestant Church, opening fire on the congregants and killing at least 16 worshippers, mostly women and children.

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches and Monasteries

Central African Republic: At least eight churches were burned in the northern province of Nana Grebizi, after heavily armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked several villages. Two Christians, including a pastor, were killed in the attack; another Christian was severely tortured. After the carnage, the Islamic herdsmen started fires and looted the local population. The blaze destroyed swathes of farmland, at least eight churches, several other mission centers and an unknown number of Christian homes.

Egypt: During the early morning hours of March 9, the Coptic Catholic Church of Kafr el-Dawar was attacked by armed men who used an explosive device against the place of worship.  Two policemen were hospitalized after the attack.  Separately, Dr. Yusuf al-Burhami, a leading cleric in Egypt’s Salafi movement, appeared in a video that surfaced in March saying that “Destroying churches is permissible—as long as the destruction does not bring harm to Muslims, such as false claims that Muslims are persecuting Christians, leading to [foreign] occupations.”  He further added that “the reason we agree to their [churches] being built, via the article in the constitution dealing with worship, and the reason we do not collect the jizya [tribute] from the Christians, is because the condition of Muslims in the current era is well known to the nations of the world—they are weak and deteriorating among the people.” Burhami explained that when the Arab Muslims first conquered Egypt in the 7th century, the ancient nation was Christian, and because the Muslims were few in number, Coptic Christian churches were allowed to remain—“just as the prophet allowed the Jews to remain in Khaibar after he opened [conquered] it, but once Muslims grew in strength and number, [second caliph] Omar al-Khattab drove them out according to the prophet’s command, ‘Drive out the Jews and Christians from the Peninsula.’”

Germany: A potential jihadi attack on the cathedral and synagogue in Bremen was averted following action by police, a Belgian newspaper reported.  Numerous police guarded the cathedral and synagogue and searched a local Muslim cultural center.

Iraq: Islamic State militants blew up a 10th century Chaldean Catholic church north of Mosul and bulldozed a nearby graveyard.  According to Nineveh Yakou—an Assyrian Archaeologist and Director of Cultural Heritage and Indigenous Affairs at A Demand for Action—the Saint George monastery was “wiped out” by IS.  The building was founded by the Assyrian Church in the 10thcentury but rebuilt as a seminary by the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1846. “The current monastery was built on an archeological site containing ancient Assyrian ruins. It was an important show of continuity from the Assyrian to our culture,” Yakou said. “ISIS is wiping out the cultural heritage of Iraq. The monastery was classified as cultural heritage. It’s a cultural and ethnic cleansing.”

Kenya: On the afternoon of February 28, in Maramande, Hindi, Muslims from neighboring Somaliset a Christian church on fire.  This same church was set on fire last July 5, 2014, but was built again in January 2015.  According to the pastor of the twice-torched church, “These people do not want Christianity in this area….  They want to finish me so that Christianity will not go on here. But I will continue raising up my eyes to God for help.”  According to Morning Star News, “Violence in Kenya’s coastal region has accelerated in the past few years. On Jan. 11 in the Mombasa area, a gunman shot a Christian dead at the gate leading to a church building, apparently after mistaking him for the church pastor. Police reportedly said the assailants could be members of an active Islamic extremist terror cell in Mombasa blamed for past gun and grenade attacks.”

Lebanon: Unidentified persons invaded Mar Elias, an ancient Maronite church in Bekaa.  Along with damaging one of the church’s windows, they destroyed a portion of the flooring, as they dug a large hole near the altar.  According to Maronite Bishop Joseph Mouwad, much of the church’s sacred items were left intact and not stolen.  Instead, “they broke the tiles and dug the ground, apparently looking for something, though we do not know what.”  Fingerprints and cigarette butts were found. 

Muslim Slaughter of Christian ‘Infidels’

Central African Republic:   An argument between a taxi driver and his Muslim passenger led tothe slaughter of at least 16 Christians in Bangui, the nation’s capital.  A Muslim man known as Aladji hailed a motorcycle taxi and asked to be taken to a Muslim-dominated district of Bangui. He was carrying a bag of grenades. When the motorcycle broke down, the driver stopped to fix it, but his agitated passenger pulled out a knife and tried to stab him. The driver overpowered Aladji and killed him instead.  After his body was found, Muslims marched to the Christian sector of the city where they slaughtered at least 16 Christians—some decapitated.  Authorities arrested 10 members of Seleka—the almost entirely Muslim rebel group—following the killings.

Libya: Two months after the Islamic State in Libya released a video of 21 Coptic Christians having their heads carved off for being “infidels” and “worshippers of the cross,” Copts continue to be targeted and killed.  A least 35 more Coptic Christians have disappeared in Libya since that video was released in med-February.  And, on March 2, the beheaded body of another Egyptian Coptic Christian was discovered on the outskirts of Mechili town in eastern Libya.   In related news, an Egyptian professor claimed that IS received its justification to slaughter Christians in Libya from a book titled (in translation) Christians in the Koran.  The author of this book is Mahmoud Lutfi ‘Amr—president of Damanhur’s Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhammadiya, that is, “The Supporters of Muhammad’s Example.”  The book was being openly sold in Islamic bookstores all throughout Egypt.

Nigeria: Upset that watchmen of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kaduna state dared set up a road-block as a security measure against jihadi raids, Nigerian soldiers opened fire on and killed five church members during Sunday Mass.  According to parish member Christopher Mamman, on Sunday, March 8, “A soldier approached our Cadets who had mounted a blockade during Sunday morning Mass on the road leading to our parish and ordered them to dismantle the blockade.  The Cadets told the soldier that Mass was going on, and they would remove the blockade as soon as it was over, but the soldier was dissatisfied with the explanation.”  It should be noted that hundreds of Christian churches have been attacked and Christians slaughtered during Sunday services—hence the reason for the church blockade.  Regardless, the soldier returned 10 minutes later with other soldiers:  “They stormed the parish, shooting at worshipers inside the church,” Mamman said. “Five of our members were shot and killed, while many others were injured. One other Christian from another church was also killed when the incident escalated and engulfed the town.”

Pakistan: A Christian mother accuses police of torturing her son to death in an attempt to extract from her a confession to a theft she did not commit.  Zubair Masih was buried on March 9 in a Christian graveyard in Lahore, under a heavy police presence. He was 20.  His mutilated body was found on the evening of March 7, outside his house in the Shamsabad sector of Lahore.  His mother, Aysha Bibi, worked until February 20 as a servant in the home of Abdul Jabbar. She said her wages had been paid in full when she left Jabbar’s employment.  But on March 4, she received a phone call from Jabbar’s wife, asking her to return for some work:  “When I went there, Jabbar took me to the Harbanspura Police Station, where I was told that I had stolen things from Jabbar’s house,” Bibi said.  “Jabbar beat me in the police station while other policemen called me names and forced me to confess that I had stolen 35,000 rupees (about US $350) and gold ornaments weighing up to 100 grams.”  On March 6, she said, “the police detained my son Zubair and tortured him in front of me. When Zubair cried with pain, they told him that he would be released only if I confess the theft…. I repeatedly told the police that I had no connection with the said theft, and then they threw me out of the police station while they still detained Zubair there. The next day we found Zubair’s dead body outside our house.”  Rights activist say that the allegation made by her former Muslim employer is suspect because he waited a week to register his complaint with police.

Uganda: A 16-year-old girl who fled from a Muslim uncle who beat her and her sister for converting to Christianity, died under mysterious circumstances on Sunday, March 8, one day after Muslim relatives who had been searching for her found her.  Namwase Aisha died at Iganga Hospital where she had been recovering from malaria after being admitted on March 2, as well as receiving further treatment for a head injury suffered on Feb. 1, when her uncle beat her and her sister with a wooden rod and locked them in a room for nearly three days without food.  According to a source, “On Saturday [March 7], Muslim relatives discovered her location and visited the hospital after tracing her whereabouts for some weeks….  Aisha then was responding very well to the medication, but on Sunday morning, after receiving morning medication, she became restless, and we wondered what could have happened to her.”  Her condition continued to deteriorate until her death, said a pastor caring for her:  “We suspect that the death of our sister Aisha could be related to the medication given the morning of Sunday, which has connection with the arrival of the Muslim relatives on Saturday.” Church leaders considered filing a case against the hospital but felt it would lead to more friction with Muslims, they said.  Aisha received a Christian burial near the area to which she had fled on Tuesday (March 10).  “As we took Aisha to the burial site, her body was swollen and smelling of drugs, which is an indication that her body could have been injected with unknown drug,” said her pastor.  Two years earlier, another convert to Christianity in Uganda was attacked by his Muslim family, including an aunt who poisoned his drink with insecticide.

Dhimmitude: Generic Contempt and Hostility

Egypt: “Unknown persons” set fire to the parked car of Fr. Ayub Yusif, the priest of the Saint George Coptic Catholic Church in the village of Dalga, Minya, Upper Egypt.  By the time authorities put out the fire, the car was completely charred.  Dalga has been the scene of many attacks on Christians.  For example, back in September 2013, Muslim Brotherhood supporters forced Coptic households to pay jizya, Islamic “protection money,” to be extorted from Christians and other non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state.  Then, Fr. Ayub, the same priest whose car has now been torched, complained of how the Muslim Brotherhood was abusing the Christians of the village.

Kazakhstan: A drug and alcohol rehabilitation center run by Christians in the village of Sychevka, Pavlodar Region, was fined and closed down for three months following a court order that the center was “conducting illegal activities,” including religious worship. This charge, which the center denies, was made after police seized 18 Christian books and other materials in a raid on March 9.  The center had housed 14 residents, all of whom had freely chosen to reside there and could leave at any time. Eight of the residents decided to leave after police raided the center last year, scared after being questioned several times.

KenyaMuslims from Somalia attacked two Christian siblings, a brother and sister, in their home.  According to the brother (name withheld): “The attackers made a knock at the door, and my sister decided to go and open the door, only to be hit with a blunt sharp object near the forehead.  My sister fell down screaming, and I decided to rush in to help. Just at the door, I was hit on my right hand, and I fell down.”  When neighbors rushed to the scene, Somali-speaking assailants fled.   While doing so, one of the neighbors heard them saying, “We do not want hard-haired [derogatory for Kenyan] Christians in our region—they should go back to where they came from. We shall soon come back again.”  Less than a year earlier, the siblings’ father was slaughtered, also by Somali-speaking Muslims.

Syria: The International Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic organization, reported that some of its members in Syria were kidnapped by the Islamic State and told that if the adults do not deny their Christian faith, they will be decapitated and “their children burned alive in cages.”  Accordingto Sister Monique, of the Vincentian Daughters of Charity: “Late Sunday afternoon on 1 March 2015, I received a message from M. Francoise, a delegate of the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul [in Rome], and I managed to reach her by telephone.  She was leaving for Paris, and collapsed at the news she had just received: members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Syria were kidnapped, along with their wives and children. The children were isolated and put into cages. Adults who do not deny their faith will be decapitated, and their children burned alive in the cages.”  The fate of most of those kidnapped Christians, well over 200, remains unknown. 

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.

Raymond Ibrahim cross posted on Gatestone Institute

Muslims Attack Christian Village Celebrating Easter, Stab Priest, Destroy Bibles and Crosses in Bangladesh

bangladesh-wikicommons

During last Easter, a Catholic Christian village made up of tribal Khasia people living in Bangladesh was attacked by Muslims.

Syed Ara Begum, a Muslim owner of a tea plantation, along with a Muslim mob,  attacked the Christian village as its population was celebrating Mass for Easter Monday.   The plantation owner reportedly seeks to seize the Christians’ land.  Hearing the cries of his flock, Fr. James Kiron Rozario ran to the site of the attack.  Once there, the crowd of Muslims attacked him with a knife, seriously wounding him and threatening to kill him.

The Muslim mob went on to steal items worth 33,900 taka (4,134 EUR).  They also destroyed Bibles, crosses, holy pictures, musical instruments and homes — and slaughtered goats and chickens.

According to Msgr. Bejoy N. D’Cruze OMI, Bishop of Syleht, “We live in fear….  We want justice and security for our priests and our faithful. We hope that the government will find a peaceful solution and that our people can live free from tensions…. They [Catholic Khasia] are a very peaceful community but often fall victims of the Bengali [Muslim] majority.”

Raymond Ibrahim

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

Burnt-church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Churches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistani Rape and Dhimmitude

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

Dhimmitude: Islamic Discrimination Against Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

About this Series

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

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

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

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

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

By Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

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

Muslim Persecution of Christians, May 2014

cross-persecution

The deplorable state of religious freedom in the Islamic world came to the fore in May when news of the arrest, imprisonment, and death sentencing of a pregnant Christian wife and mother on the accusation that she had left Islam for Christianity reached the world.  On May 15, Meriam Ibrahim of Sudan was sentenced to flogging followed by hanging for apostasy after she repeatedly refused to convert to Islam.

During her 6-month imprisonment with her one-year-old son by her side, she gave birth to another child.  The baby girl was reportedly born with disabilities due to the harsh conditions of the prison cell she was delivered in and because her “apostate” mother was still shackled with chains when she gave birth to her.

However, because Meriam Ibrahim’s plight made it to the mainstream media, international outcry was heard all around the world, prompting Sudan to release her in June.

Prior to her release, Islamic clerics were often sent to her cell where they repeatedly pressured and threatened her with death to convert to Islam.  In a recent interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Ibrahim said: “My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with imams and Muslim scholars because that’s what I believe.  Faith means life. If you don’t have faith, you’re not alive.”

When Kelly asked her why she didn’t simply do what the clerics wanted and convert to Islam in the interest of freedom, Ibrahim replied:

If I did, that would mean I gave up.  It’s not possible because it’s not true.  It’s my right to follow the religion of my choice.  I’m not the only one suffering from this problem.  There are many Meriams in Sudan and throughout the world.  It’s not just me; I’m not the only one”….  With regard to the situation of Christians, this is a well-known fact that they live under difficult circumstances and they are persecuted and treated harshly.  They are afraid to say they are Christian out of fear of persecution.  Sometimes imprisoned Christians with financial difficulties are told that the government will pay off their debts if they convert to Islam….  If you are a Christian and you convert to Islam it will become hard to leave Islam because if you do so you will be subjected to the death penalty.

Ibrahim’s story is in fact the tip of the iceberg of Muslim persecution of Christians.  The fundamental difference, the reason she was eventually released, is that the mainstream media reported her story—a story which countless untold Christians throughout the Islamic world experience daily.

Some, far from released, are killed for being Christian and refusing Islam.  Thus, around the same time the world was hearing about Ibrahim’s plight, a prominent, underground church Christian leader was killed by Muslims from the al-Shabaab group in Somalia.  “Sadness and grief has befallen our community when our dear brother Abdishakur Yusuf was mercilessly murdered in Mogadishu by unknown gunmen,” said a local source: “He was found outside his house lying in a pool of blood… He was shot in the head multiple times, so that his face is barely recognizable.”  Yusuf leaves a widow and three children, ages 11, 8 and 5.

Weeks before this, al-Shabaab Muslims publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin after discovering they were Christians.  According to local sources, the Islamists “called residents to the town center to witness the executions of the 41-year-old mother, Sadia Ali Omar, and her 35-year-old cousin, Osman Mohamoud Moge.”  Before slaughtering the two women, an al-Shabaab member announced, “We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya—we want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin [jihadi] area.”  The two daughters of one of the women, ages 8 and 15, “were witness to the slaughter,” sources said, with the younger girl screaming and shouting for someone to save her mother.

In the context of Meriam Ibrahim, many Americans wondered why the Obama administration was not saying or doing much, even though her toddler that was imprisoned with her was an American citizen from his father’s side.  Speaking of Ibrahim’s ordeal, Sen. Ted Cruz said:  “There is urgency, a dire need for U.S. leadership.  President Obama should speak out publicly and call upon the government of Sudan to free Meriam Ibrahim. Sec. of State John Kerry should speak out loudly and forcibly and call up on.”

Members of Congress are increasingly urging Obama to speak up on behalf of persecuted minorities throughout the Islamic world.   A few weeks earlier, human rights activists criticized the president for not addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities during his talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is banned.

According to the Washington-based International Christian Concern advocacy group, Obama did not “publicly broach the subject of religious freedom” during talks on March 28 with Saudi King Abdullah, despite a letter from some 70 members of Congress urging him to “address specific human rights reforms” both in public and in direct meetings with Abdullah and other officials.

“This visit was an excellent opportunity for the president to speak up on an issue that affects millions of Saudi citizens and millions more foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia,” said Todd Daniels, ICC’s Middle East regional manager, adding that it was “remarkable that the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom” despite pressure from Congress “to publicly address the issue, as well as other human rights concerns, with King Abdullah…”

Another story appearing in May further highlighted the U.S. government’s indifference.  A Christian teenage girl told of how Boko Haram in Nigeria came to her household and slaughtered her father and brother because they refused to convert to Islam.  After abusing her, they tied her up and left her in a state of shock between the two corpses.  Emmanuel Ogebe, the human rights attorney who helped Peters come to the United States, said that visa requests filed on Peters’ behalf were denied “multiple times” in 2013 with the State Department citing no family ties in the U.S. as the reason. After legal appeals, she was finally allowed to come to the United States and testified in congress last April after Boko Haram abducted 300 schoolgirls, including her cousin, from her village.

Similarly, about a month earlier, the United States Institute for Peace brought together the governors of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., but the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, an ordained minister, citing “administrative” problems.

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Iran: Plainclothes security authorities raided an Easter service in a house-church in southern Tehran, arresting and hauling off all those in attendance.  Neighbors said that security authorities were “very disrespectful to those in the house-church as well as to the neighbors.”

Malaysia: Two Catholic nuns in the Muslim-majority nation “were viciously attacked on the grounds of the Church of Visitation in Seremban in what is believed to be a robbery attempt early this morning,” reported the Malaysian Insider.  Sister Juliana Lim was hospitalized in critical condition and on a respirator, while Sister Mary-Rose received treatment for various injuries.  “Both nuns from the Infant Jesus Convent, were left bruised, bleeding and in shock following the attack, said Fr Chan in his Facebook posting, adding: ‘As I anointed them [two nuns], tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t help it. How wicked it is to do this to our nuns, who have given their whole life to God.’”  In response, the Council of Churches of Malaysia said: “The voices of antagonism and hatred have been on the increase in the country and it would be no surprise if the attack on the nuns were not conspired by those out to cause inter-religious conflict in the country.”

Nigeria: Seven churches were attacked and 29 Christians slaughtered.  On Sunday, May 25, during worship service, Islamic terrorists from Boko Haram killed 21 Christians of a congregation of the Church of Christ in Nations in Gwoza town.  The next day Boko Haram Muslims burned down six more churches and slaughtered eight more Christians in the area.

Palestinian National Authority:  St. George’s Orthodox Church in Bethlehem was attacked by Muslims during its annual St. George’s Day services on May 6, leaving one Christian stabbed, several injured, and the building damaged. According to Leila Gilbert, “Some local Muslims either tried to park a car too close [to] the church and/or tried to enter the church during a service honoring St. George—the initial instigation isn’t clear. But when the intruders were asked to leave, one of them stabbed a Christian man who was outside the church serving as a guard. He was hospitalized. Several then started throwing stones at the church. 7 or 8 Christians were injured and some physical damage was done—broken windows etc. The police didn’t show up for an hour.”

Tanzania: Two churches were attacked.  As Christians were gathered for overnight prayers in the Assemblies of God church, around 80 Muslim men armed with arrows and knives attacked the church building while shouting “death to apostates.” They set fire to the church, leaving its interior in ruins, and then went looking for its pastor, a Muslim convert to Christianity, presumably to slaughter him.   Separately, a homemade explosive device in a plastic bag left inside the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania exploded in the face of a female worker who found it, causing serious injuries to her face and legs and leaving her in critical condition.

Turkey: At least one Turkish church was labeled “pornographic” and blocked from computers at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, prompting one legislator to demand an investigation.  When asked, the speaker for the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) said it was likely a technical glitch, but Aykan Erdemir, the legislator who discovered it, said “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some malicious intent.”  Umut Ṣahin, general secretary for Turkey’s Association of Protestant Churches, said the ban was “horrible…  It’s a shame.  It really pains us at having this kind of accusation when we have a high moral standard.”

Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytization

Egypt: A Coptic Christian teacher, Bishoy Camille, was sentenced to four years in prison and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds.  He was found guilty of sharing cartoons of Islamic prophet Muhammad on Facebook, which prompted Muslim riots against the Copts.

Iran: A May report by Morning Star News said that “Iran’s secret police and Revolutionary Guard are subjecting Christians to a continuing wave of arrests, and increased torture and brutal beatings, in an effort to crush the house-church movement, activists said.  Human rights activists confirmed that there has been a noticeable increase this month in the number of reported assaults against Christians imprisoned in Iran. The assaults, which are taking place against converts who lead house churches, are meant to send a message to Christians in the country, said a Middle East Concern (MEC) researcher who focuses on Iran.”  On May 5, for example, internal security agents arrested Silas Rabbani, a leader with the Church of Iran in Karaj. Rabbani, a former Muslim, has been “informally charged” with apostasy and was accordingly beaten while in custody.  “He was then transferred to Gohardasht Prison, also known as Rajai Shahr, where the torture has continued.”

Kenya: Three weeks after converting to Christianity, Hassan Hussein Mohammed, a 26-year-old former Muslim, was severely beaten in a mosque.  Although he was training to become a Muslim leader, he met some Christians, discussed religion, and eventually converted.  According to Morning Star News, “Mohammed later went to the mosque only to collect his identification papers, but leaders ordered him to stay and conduct evening prayers. After some hesitation, he agreed. A voice within, he later told church leaders, told him not to lead the prayers, and when he tried to say them his mind blanked. He then admitted that he had accepted ‘Isa,’ Jesus. Those in the mosque beat him with a blunt object, kicked him and struck him until he was unconscious, he told church leaders. When he regained consciousness a few minutes later, he said, ‘I am ready to die for Isa, and I forgive you for what you have done to me.’”  He managed to escape, but after news of his conversion spread, Mohammed began receiving threatening phone messages and texts.  One said: “You will regret why you left the prophet’s religion.”

Pakistan: When a Muslim religious leader discovered that four Christians, a married couple, and two women, were handing out Christian pamphlets, he immediately informed police who arrested the Christians, taking them away from a growing crowd of angry Muslims.  According to Fr. Arshad John of the Archdiocese of Karachi, who is engaged in the protection of minority rights: “The claims that the religious minorities are free to practice and preach their religion, is clearly evident from this act. Although the act of distributing the religious material and preaching in such areas is not very wise, in the past such cases have produced unfortunate results. We pray for the group and hope they will be released soon.”  Separately, the Pakistan Christian Post reported that Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress, was concerned about a recent example of double standards concerning the implementation of blasphemy laws.  He said that when any Muslim commits blasphemy on electronic media watched by millions, he or she is pardoned after a simple apology note, but when a Christian or Ahmadiyyia community member is accused of blasphemy by one Muslim wittiness, then he faces death sentence even if he swears that he did not insult the name of prophet Muhammad:  “All Christian victims of blasphemy laws after arrests have publically denied committing blasphemy but not any court or complainant have pardoned them but when a Muslim cleric or any Muslim very openly defiles name of Prophet Mohammad then uproar of Islamic decrees appear to Pardon these Muslims.”

Sudan: In the town of al-Gadarif on Sudan’s eastern border with Ethiopia, another Christian woman, much like Meriam Ibrahim, was incarcerated on the accusation that she had apostatized from Islam.  Immigration/Citizenship arrested Faiza Abdalla, 37, when she responded to officers’ questions about her religion that she was Christian.  They immediately arrested her based on her Muslim name.  (Her family had converted to Christianity before she was born but kept their former name.)  As happened with Meriam Ibrahim and others, a court went on to annul Faiza’s marriage to her husband, a lifelong Catholic from South Sudan, on grounds that she had committed “adultery” by allegedly having left Islam and married a Christian.

Dhimmitude: Generic Hostility, Abuse, and Discrimination

Egypt: Lawyers of a Muslim man who attacked Christian properties and persons—stabbing one Coptic woman to death—maintain that he is innocent by reason of insanity, even though psychiatric evaluations found him sane and fit to stand trial.  Last February, Mahmoud Mohamed Ali went on a violent rampage, attacking three Christians with a knife. His intended victim, a male Coptic pharmacy clerk, fought him off, and Ali fled.  Next, Ali stabbed Demian, a Coptic shopkeeper in another Christian-owned pharmacy, severing an artery in her neck; she fell to the floor bleeding to death. Soon after, Ali stabbed a female Coptic high school student, who barely managed to escape with her life.  But according to Morning Star News: “Confirming fears of human rights activists who said attorneys for Mahmoud Mohamed Ali would use a tactic that has freed other Muslims from punishment for premeditated, religiously motivated murder, the lawyers are challenging results of the evaluation.”  Some Islamic teachings state that the life and worth of a Muslim is greater than that of an “infidel” and so they should not be punished, or should receive the minimum punishment when they kill non-Muslims.  Egyptian human rights activist Osama Wagdy said the “insanity” plea is a tactic commonly used in Egypt by those who have violently targeted Christians: “They are pretending, because that is how they get out of cases…  Nobody thinks he is mentally ill. He went from one place to another knowing what he was doing and told one of the victims, ‘You deserve it.’”  Separately, five “unidentified persons” kidnapped a Coptic Christian pharmacy owner at gunpoint in Sohag, Upper Egypt. Soon after Friday mosque prayers, a car pulled up in front of the pharmacy and opened fire on it before the assailants raided it and drove off with the kidnapped owner, one Mr. Marcos, a 52-year-old Copt, at gunpoint.

Eritrea: Five Christians of the Evangelical Lutheran Church were arrested after their church announced that they were set to be ordained for pastoral ministry. “The arrests clearly show how even government recognized churches, namely the Catholic, [Eritrean] Orthodox [Church] and Evangelical Lutheran churches, are not free from government control,” said an Open Doors source on condition of anonymity.  “The arrest of these pastoral candidates reminds us of one of the greatest challenges churches in Eritrea face….  Due to the constant turnover of pastors due to arrest or threats, continuous and biblically consistent pastoral care for Christians is hampered.”  A further “1,500 Christians are languishing in prison for their faith.”  In 2010, an estimated 3,000 Christians were incarcerated for their faith; most were held in shipping containers in desert camps and others in underground cells; some were tortured to death while others perished in the desert trying to escape.

Germany:  A Turkish man being treated in a hospital attacked his nurse because there were too many crosses on the wall.   According to Mainpost, a German publication (as translated by Nicolai Sennels for Jihad Watch),  “A 34-year-old went to St. Joseph Hospital early on Saturday morning due to a ‘gastro-intestinal flu.’ Suddenly he refused to be treated, because he thought there were too many Christian crosses on the wall.  Because of the crosses, the man started insulting the nurse, calling her a bitch, fascist, and the like. Then the man, according to police report, also started becoming physically aggressive. The hospital called the police. The officers seized the man in front of the hospital and checked him.”

Pakistan: Five Christian families that, according to Agenzia Fides, were “kidnapped and enslaved by their Muslim employers” in the Punjab were released after nearly three decades of slavery.  After the release, one of the families told their suffering: they were victims of forced labor and were treated as slaves for over 25 years. One of the women, Safia Bibi, began working at the furnace along with her husband, Anwar Masih, right after her wedding. When their nine children were old enough they also started to work in the same place. They lived in the factory complex with no toilets and often did not receive compensation.  If they tried to leave their job, they were beaten and tortured, left days without food. In 2013, Safia’s husband died due to illness and weakness, and no doctor was called. Her children could not attend his funeral—nor go to prayer meetings or celebrate Christmas—because they were forced to work. Nasir Saeed a human rights activist said: “It is sad to see that even in the 21st century slavery continues to exist in Pakistan. The owners of furnaces are often wealthy and influential and are rarely prosecuted. The workers, often Christian, work a life in slave-like conditions to pay their debts, that last generations. Sometimes they are sold from one furnace to another. The government is aware of the situation, but has never taken serious measures.”

Turkey: According to ANSamed, “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government plans to turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia Basilica into a mosque in the afternoon and evening and a museum in the morning. The historical monument, which draws millions of tourists every year, will have the Byzantine [Christian] frescoes covering its walls cast into shadow by ‘dark light’ so as to avoid offending Islam.  The government would thus like to turn what is today seen as a symbol of Christianity back into a place of worship for Muslims, as it was after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.”   A campaign to turn the Hagia Sofia back into a mosque has been brewing for quite some time now, raising alarm among Christian communities in the east. Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I said that “we and all other Christians will oppose it.”  And Athens called it an “insult to the religious sensibilities of millions of Christians.”  Even so, the Islamist party submitted a formal motion in parliament to transform Hagia Sofia into a mosque.

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.

Raymond Ibrahim

raymond-ibrahim-crucified-again-sm

Obama Administration Suppresses Talk of Muslim Persecution of Christians: March 2014

anti_christian

Why is the U.S. downplaying or denying attacks against Christians?

“What about the churches which were desecrated? Is this not blasphemy? Where is justice?” — Fr. James Channan OP, Director of The Peace Center, Lahore, Pakistan.

Members of the Islamic group al-Shabaab publicly beheaded the mother of two girls, ages 8 and 15, and her cousin after discovering they were Christians. The girls “were witnesses to the slaughter.” — Somalia.

“Christian teaching is extremely harmful to the mental health of the people.” —Kazakhstan.

Five years’ imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines for educators if they…speak to a Muslim child of religions other than Islam. — Brunei

Along with an especially egregious list of atrocities committed against Christian minorities throughout the Islamic world, March also saw some callous indifference or worse from the U.S. government.

President Barack Hussein Obama was criticized by human rights activists for not addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities during his talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is banned.

According to the Washington-based International Christian Concern (ICC) advocacy group, Obama did not “publicly broach the subject of religious freedom” during talks on March 28 with Saudi King Abdullah, despite a letter from some 70 members of Congress urging him to “address specific human rights reforms” both in public and in direct meetings with Abdullah and other officials.

“This visit was an excellent opportunity for the president to speak up on an issue that affects millions of Saudi citizens and millions more foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia,” said Todd Daniels, ICC’s Middle East regional manager, adding that it was “remarkable that the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom” despite pressure from Congress “to publicly address the issue, as well as other human rights concerns, with King Abdullah…”

U.S. officials reportedly responded by saying that “Obama had not had time to raise concerns about the kingdom’s human rights record.”

Separately, after the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) brought together the governors of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister, citing “administrative” problems.  The USIP confirmed that all 19 northern governors were invited, but the organization did not respond to requests for comments on why they would hold talks without the region’s only Christian governor.

According to Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer based in Washington, the Christian governor’s “visa problems” are due to anti-Christian bias in the U.S. government:  “The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram. It also claims that Christians discriminate against Muslims in Plateau, which is one of the few Christian majority states in the north. After [Jang, the Christian governor] told them [U.S. authorities] that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems…  The question remains—why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?”

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

The Slaughter of Christians 

Egypt: During pro-Muslim Brotherhood riots, a young Coptic woman named Mary was murdered—simply because her cross identified her as a Christian to Brotherhood rioters.  According to an eyewitness who discussed the entire event on the Egyptian program, 90 Minutes, Mary Sameh George was parking by the church to deliver medicine to an elderly woman: “Once they saw that she was a Christian [because of the cross hanging on her rear view mirror], they jumped on top of the car, to the point that the vehicle was no longer visible. The roof of the car collapsed in.  When they realized that she was starting to die, they pulled her out of the car and started pounding on her and pulling her hair—to the point that portions of her hair and scalp came off.  They kept beating her, kicking her, stabbing her with any object or weapon they could find….  Throughout [her ordeal] she tried to protect her face, giving her back to the attackers, till one of them came and stabbed her right in the back, near the heart, finishing her off.  Then another came and grabbed her by the hair, shaking her head, and with the other hand slit her throat.  Another pulled her pants off, to the point that she was totally naked.”

Nigeria:  A Muslim father allegedly slaughtered or had someone else slaughter his daughter with a machete, wounding a pastor and four others in the attack, because she had earlier converted to Christianity. According to police reports, “the suspect allegedly sneaked into the church premises and inflicted machete cuts on the four persons” seriously wounding them and killing his daughter. Prior to that, the father had threatened his daughter to return to Islam or else, and she had taken refuge in the church.  Police had not made clear if it was the father or an accomplice who committed the assault.   Separately, Muslim Fulani herdsmen launched another night raid into a Christian majority region, massacring over 150 people, including a pastor, his wife and children; some 200 homes were torched.  A surviving eyewitness said that attackers were about 40 in number and were armed with knives, guns and other unidentifiable equipment.  They came in the night and began by setting fire to the homes, burning dozens of Christians alive: “Those that tried to escape were butchered or gun down.”

Pakistan:  “A young Christian girl was killed by the Pakistani Taliban in the northern region of Pakistan,” reported Agenzia Fide: “The girl had spent a few months on the run and in hiding with her cousin, a Muslim who converted to Christianity a few years ago. Since the conversion, the man is considered an ‘apostate’ and since then he has been the target of the Taliban. In past days, some militants discovered where the two were hiding: the girl in the escape was reached by a bullet and was killed, while the man managed to escape.”

Somalia: Members of the militant Islamic group, al-Shabaab, publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin after discovering they were Christians.  According to local sources, the Islamists “called residents to the town center to witness the executions of the 41-year-old mother, Sadia Ali Omar, and her 35-year-old cousin, Osman Mohamoud Moge.”  Before slaughtering the two women, an al-Shabaab member announced, “We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya—we want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin [jihadi] area.”  The two daughters of one of the women, ages 8 and 15, “were witness to the slaughter, sources said, with the younger girl screaming and shouting for someone to save her mother. A friend helped the girls, whose names are withheld, to relocate to another area,” saying “We are afraid that the al-Shabaab might continue monitoring these two children and eventually kill them just like their mother.”

Attacks on Christian Churches 

Egypt: After numerous death sentences were handed out to convicted Muslim Brotherhood members, their supporters protested and rioted in the streets.  According to Spero News, “Violence spilled over from demonstrations in the Cairo suburb of Ain Shams when Muslim protesters attacked a Coptic Orthodox Christian church on March 28. Four people were killed in the attack on the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael. Among the dead are a 25-year-old journalist and a Coptic Christian worshipper. When Egyptian security forces intervened, violence spread throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Muslim radicals are frequently whipped up into frenzy by their religious leaders on Fridays when they gather for prayer.”

Kenya: During Sunday worship service, two heavily-armed gunmen entered the Joy in Jesus Church in Monbasa—a region which according to authorities has a mosque with ties to the Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab—and “sprayed the congregation with bullets, killing at least seven Christians and leaving several others in critical condition,” including the assistant pastor, reports Morning Star News:  “As the attackers fled Joy in Jesus Church, a box holding 26 bullets dropped outside the church,” indicating that they intended for even more carnage.  According to one church leader, “We as the church feel that what happened is a retaliation for the attack [by police] that took place in Masjid Musa Mosque recently.  When the Muslims are attacked, there is a false generalization that the Christians are the ones doing it. We as the church became a scapegoat for the recent attack on the mosque.”  (This logic is very similar to the barrage of church attacks the Coptic Christians of Egypt suffered in “retaliation” after the Muslim Brotherhood and former president Morsi were ousted during the June 30 revolution.)

Pakistan:  One day after Christians placed a cross on a partially constructed church that was being built on a fellow Christian’s land, a Muslim mob “damaged the building and the land by ploughing the ground with the help of a tractor” and “desecrated” the cross, reported The Express Tribune.  The chairman of the Human Liberation Commission Pakistan added that “the Christian community was not protected in Pakistan and that they face discrimination at every level.” Discussing this incident Agenzia Fides reports that “when a large group of Islamic extremists saw the Christian symbol [the cross] they arrived unexpectedly with bulldozers and started demolishing the building…. the perpetrators were not arrested, thanks to the political clout they have. Christians in the neighborhood who have asked for protection to civil authorities, on the other hand have received threats and have to abandon the idea of the project to build a church.”

Uganda: In the predominantly Muslim districts of the Christian-majority African nation, “Islamic extremists burned down two church buildings of the Free Church of Christ in February and the home of a church leader” in March, reported Morning Star News.  Bishop James Kinyewa, 47, recounted the atrocity: “While I was preaching, I heard loud noise, people saying, ‘Fire! Fire!’ coming from nearby neighbors.”  He found “rowdy Muslim youths with clubs and machetes” who prevented him and others from trying to put out the fire from his house. “They were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar [Allah is greater],’” he said. “Now the same militant group is hunting for my life. My family and I are now hiding ourselves, homeless and waiting for God’s intervention.” Everything inside the two razed church buildings, which served a total of 240 people, was destroyed, leaving the bishop to lament, “My church members have no place to worship.”

Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

Brunei: A new penal code in the Muslim majority nation threatens school principals and schoolteachers with five years’ imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines if they teach or speak to a Muslim child of religions other than Islam.  (Future punishments may include amputation and even execution.) According to the new law, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, it is a crime “to persuade, influence, incite, encourage a child with non- Islamic teaching.”  It is also a crime to “expose the child to any ceremony or act of worship which is not Islamic or allow the child to participate in activities for the benefit of other religions.”  The new law is of especial concern to private Christian schools, where Muslim students attend.

Iran: Vahid Hakkani, a Christian man who was imprisoned and sentenced to 44 months jail-time, after being found guilty of “attending a house-church, spreading  Christianity, having contact with foreign [Christian] ministries” and “disrupting national security,” began a hunger strike in prison to protest the rejection of his conditional release appeal by the Revolutionary Court, despite concerns over his health.  Far from rethinking his sentence, according to his family, “prison authorities will transfer him to solitary confinement because he refuses to stop his hunger strike.”  Separately, eight more Christians were detained, blindfolded, and interrogated by security forces over their “Christian activities,” said rights activists.  Some members of the group had their personal items, including cell phones, confiscated.

KazakhstanChristian preaching is “extremely harmful to mental health of the people”: such was the ruling of a law court which led to the sentencing of a Christian pastor, Bakhytzhan Kashkumayev, to four years in prison. According to Agenzia Fides, “the [67-year-old] Pastor, who is responsible for the Grace Church in the Kazak capital Astana was found guilty of ‘causing serious mental disorder’ to a presumed victim Lyazzat Almenova. The Pastor will also have to pay a heavy fine … for the ‘moral damage’ inflicted.” The pastor’s lawyer said that this is one of the “strangest cases he has ever come across, in terms of legality.”

Pakistan: Last March, 2013, after a Christian man was accused of maligning the prophet of Islam he was arrested by police. Nonetheless, thousands of Muslims attacked Christian colonies, burning churches and homes; protesting Christians were attacked by the police, while not one of the thousands of rampaging Muslims was convicted.  Now, one year later, the blasphemer, Sawan Masih, has been sentenced to death at a hearing held in the prison cell of the Christian, “out of fears that Masih might be attacked on his way to court.”  Separately, two other Christians, a paralyzed, sickly man and his wife, also accused of “blasphemy via sms”—that is, blaspheming via text messaging—remained in prison.  According to “World Vision in Progress,” the “judges of the High Court were initially convinced of what was said by the defense. But after pressure from Muslim religious leaders and the threats of extremists in Gojra, the judges denied bail, saying the case will be completed within two months. Radical Muslims had already threatened defense lawyers many times.” Concerning the aforementioned Christian man sentenced to death, Fr. James Channan OP, Director of the Peace Center in Lahore, Pakistan, said the following: “It was a dispute over a matter concerning property. But the Muslim took advantage, finding a shortcut and accused Sawan of blasphemy. The whole world knows what happened next. Over 100 Christian homes of Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, were destroyed, 2 churches burned, Bibles desecrated and Crosses destroyed by an angry mob of more than 3,000 fanatics. The Christians of Joseph Colony still live in danger and fear that the mob might attack again at any time….  After Sawan’s death sentence, I ask myself: where is justice? Why is nothing done against these innocent Christians who have been attacked and have lost their possessions? What about the churches which were desecrated, Bibles burned and crosses destroyed? Is this not blasphemy?”

Uganda:  when a 23-year-old Muslim woman converted to Christianity and a neighbor informed her father, “My father began beating me with clubs and blows, and I started screaming in great pain,” she said. “While I was down on the floor bleeding, my father went looking for a knife to kill me. A neighbor named Saleem arrived and helped me escape.”  She found lodging from a nearby church and was taken to a hospital the next day.

Dhimmitude 

BangladeshThe home of a Catholic family was torched and destroyed during the night, and the culprits, according to residents, “could be Islamic fundamentalists.”  The family, two women and two children, managed to escape the blaze.  According to one of the women, “Three days before the fire we saw some people unknown to us behind our house. They asked around if we were Christians. We feel that this attack was premeditated by them. We have lost in [sic] everything, including our Bible and the crucifix. All we have left are the cloth[e]s on our backs.” A local priest adds: “This is an attack against the minority, and could be the hands of Islamic extremists. They are very powerful in the area.”

Iraq: A Christian politician and member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement “denounced some officials of the Nineveh province after collecting documented evidence on the corrupt system where many properties—land and houses—belonging to Christians change hands in an illegal and secret manner, without any mandate on behalf of their legitimate owners.”  He also called on Iraqi Christians who fled their homeland to check the status of the property they left in Iraq and reaffirm their full rights on them.

Pakistan: A March report by Agenzia Fides offers a glimpse of the endemic rape and sexual abuse of Christian girls at the hands of Muslims: “The rape of girls belonging to religious minorities is a very common phenomenon in Pakistan. Christian women are a prime target, because [they are] the most vulnerable and defenseless. The majority of cases are not even reported to the police and, when it happens, the perpetrators of violence often go unpunished. The Christian community is still shocked by the recent case of Sumbal, a 5-year-old Christian girl, raped by a group of Muslim men on a street in Lahore….  Another recent case … concerns a Muslim man from Lahore who attempted to rape two Christian girls, sisters, aged 1 and 3….  A few months ago another case aroused indignation: that of a 9-year-old Christian girl who suffered a gang rape by three young Muslims. Violence against children are committed with ease, explains a source of Fides that assists victims, especially because the perpetrators remain unpunished: injustice fuels the vicious cycle of violence.  In 2004, a case that caused uproar around the world was the brutal rape of a-two-year old child Neha Munir raped because her father, Munir Masih, a Christian, refused to convert to Islam.”

Syria: Al-Qaeda linked Islamic jihadis crossed into Syrian territory from the Turkish border and launched a jihad on the Christian/Armenian town of Kessab.   Among other things, “Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.”  Reportedly eighty people were killed.  The jihadis later made a video touring the devastated town.  No translation is needed, as the main phrase shouted throughout is Islam’s triumphant war cry, “Allahu Akbar” (which, according to Sen. John McCain, simply means “thank God”).  About two-thousand Armenians were evacuated to neighboring areas. While occupying Kessab, the jihadi terrorists desecrated the town’s three Armenian churches.

Turkey:  Five men held in prison as suspects in the 2007 “Malatya Massacre”—when three Christian missionaries were tortured to death—were released.  The five walked free from their high-security prison because their time in detention while on trial exceeded new legal limits.  “It is deeply disturbing to hear that the five men responsible for these brutal murders have been freed on bail, including three who were arrested at the crime scene,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas: “We urge the Turkish authorities to take every necessary measure to ensure they remain in the country to face justice, which has been exceedingly long in coming.  This trial has been ongoing for six years with no indication of a conclusion in the near future.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims, to whom the release of these men has dealt yet another blow, no doubt leaving them with a deepening sense of uncertainty as to whether they will ever see justice for their loved ones. For their sakes, the Turkish authorities must ensure that justice is served as a matter of urgency.”

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 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.

Raymond Ibrahim cross posted on Gatestone Institute

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