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Update on Niger & the least talked about oppression in the world, today

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(Voice of the Persecuted) Information is coming in that the violent protests in Niger are having a much larger impact than first perceived, or reported. It was also brought to our attention of claims that Boko Haram is either endorsing, or played a part in the attacks on churches during the demonstrations. These protests across the Islamic world were in response to a satirical weekly in France depicting their prophet. The magazine is secular not a Christian publication, but was used as an excuse to attack Christians. Though we have not received confirmation, it was reported that the Boko Haram flag was seen during the protests. We have also been told the numbers of churches attacked are under reported, with greater effects than expected.

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) – The Bishops of Niger have suspended “until further notice” all the activities of the Catholic Church (schools, health centers, charitable activities), “following the looting of churches and infrastructure of our institutions, and the desecration of our places of worship”. This is what is said in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides after various churches and religious communities of Niger suffered extensive damage because of demonstrators protesting against the publication of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo (see Fides 21/01/2015). “The measure – continues the note – will allow us to pray and to read, in serenity, the painful events that we have suffered”. “They thank very warmly all those who have expressed their solidarity in these difficult times” the Bishops conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 22/01/2015)

This week, the leader of Boko Haram released a new video challenging and warning the “Kings of Africa.” He singles out the Niger President. These threats must be taken seriously.

He threatened war with Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad for having sympathy with Paris. He told the leaders he had enough weaponry to annihilate Nigeria and burned the Nigerian flag. According to the Daily Mail to the President of Niger, he said : “Is this your true character? Muhammed Yusuf, you have amazed us. You shall soon see our wrath, very soon.” He also had this to say to Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathon:

“Jonathan you are in trouble. All governors of Nigeria are in trouble. All these war equipment that you see being displayed in the screen are gotten from Baga and Doro. ‘Your army kept deceiving the world that you can’t fight us because you have no arms. Liars! You have all that it takes; you are just coward soldiers. You forgot that it is God that arms. Is it not amazing that we, who started with sticks and machetes, are today the biggest headache to the almighty Nigerian soldiers? What a shame.’ ‘This is just the beginning of the killings; what you’ve just witnessed is a tip of the iceberg; more deaths are coming.”

In northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram has put in place a “caliphate” the size of Belgium. Akin to IS, exanding their jihad to neighboring borders. The Nigerian government is either incapable, or too corrupt to contain the militants. W. African State officials met in Niger to discuss forming a multinational task-force to combat the militants. But believe it will not have enough impact, unless Nigeria addresses it’s own difficulties.

Religious leaders have been pleading for Western nations to intervene. The situation has become so dire they believe this is the only way Boko Haram can stopped to save Christians in the region.

It is no secret that the main persecutors of Christians are Islamic. But the widespread outbreak is still the least talked about oppression in the world, today.

Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer warriors are currently praying vigorously for the people of Nigeria and Niger. We are praying for the attackers and for the attacks to stop. For leaders in these countries to have the courage to confront this. We are praying for protection, comfort and strength, we pray that God will give them a renewed spirit.  But most of all endurance, to stand with unshakable faith. These soul’s are precious in God’s sight.

Voice of the Persecuted

World Ignores Christian Exodus from Islamic World

Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid.

Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid. Photo: Ray Ibrahim

(Gatestone InstituteWhile the world fixates on the conflict between Israel and Hamas—and while most mainstream media demonize Israel for trying to survive amid a sea of Arab-Islamic hostility—similar or worse tragedies continue to go virtually ignored.

As Reuters reported:One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….

It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

The amount of jizya-money demanded was $450 a month, an exorbitant sum for Iraq.

Hours after the demand for jizya was made, Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.

Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children.

The Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul said that what is happening to the Christians of Mosul is nothing less than “genocide… not to mention the slaughters and rapes not being reported… Forcing more than a thousand Christian families out of Mosul, and turning Christian churches into Muslim mosques, is equivalent to genocide.”  Of course, the word genocide means to kill or make extinct a people.

Others were not as lucky to flee. According to Iraqi human rights activist Hena Edward, a great many older and disabled Iraqis, unable to pay the jizya or join the exodus, have opted to convert to Islam.

Meanwhile, the jihadis continue destroying churches and other ancient Christian holy sites in the name of their religion, and murdering any Christians they can find. Among other acts, they torched an 1800 year old church in Mosul, stormed a fourth century monastery—formerly one of Iraq’s best known Christian landmarks—and expelling its resident monks.

Most recently, in Syrian regions under the Islamic State’s control, eight Christians were reportedly crucified.

The Islamic State’s call for Christians to pay jizya is not simply about money. It is about subjugation. Most Western media reporting on this recent call for jizya have failed to explain the accompanying dhimma contract Christians must also abide by. According to the Islamic State, “We offer them [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The “dhimma contract” is a reference to the Conditions of Omar, an Islamic text attributed to the caliph of the same name that forces Christians to live according to third class citizen status.

In fact, several months back, when the Islamic State was still called “ISIS,” it applied the Conditions of Omar on the Christian minorities of Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic group had issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS… “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said [emphasis added].

The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.

Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”

In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat. Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”

In late 2012, it was reported that the last Christian in the city of Homs, Syria—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. An escaped teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”

In the African nation of Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.

One can go on and on:

  • In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”
  • In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.
  • In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian nun orders serving the sick and needy since 1921 to flee and killed several Coptic Christians, causing that community also to flee.
  • In Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, where hardly a Sunday passes without a church bombing, Christians are fleeing by the thousands; one region has been emptied of 95% of its Christian population.
  • In Pakistan, after a Christian child was falsely accused of desecrating a Koran and Muslims went on an anti-Christian rampage, an entire Christian village—men, women, and children—was forced to flee into the nearby woods, where they built a church, to permanently reside there.

Despite all these atrocities, exoduses, and even genocides, the mainstream media seems to spend every available moment airing images of displaced Palestinians and demonizing Israel for trying to defend itself. Yet Israel does not kill Palestinians because of their religion or any other personal aspects. It does so in the context of being rocketed and trying to defend itself from terrorism.

On the other hand, all the crimes being committed by Muslims against Christians are simply motivated by religious hate, because the Christians are Christian.

It is to the mainstream media’s great shame that those who slaughter, behead, crucify, and displace people for no other reason than because they are Christian, rarely if ever get media coverage, while a nation such as Israel, which kills only in the context of self-defense, and not out of religious bigotry, is constantly demonized.

by Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by Fronda, a leading website in Poland.  The English-language version of the Polish interview, originally titled “Raymond Ibrahim: Prostration before Islam, English version – Read it HERE

Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group?

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Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world?  And why is their persecution occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world?  (In the category on “Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion,” Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of “the world’s” Christians are actually being persecuted.)

The reason for this ubiquitous phenomenon of Muslim persecution of  Christians is threefold:

Christianity is the largest religion in the world.  There are Christians practically everywhere around the globe, including in much of the Muslim world.  Moreover, because much of the land that Islam seized was originally Christian—including the Middle East and North Africa, the region that is today known as the “Arab world”—Muslims everywhere are still confronted with vestiges of Christianity, for example, in Syria, where many ancient churches and monasteries are currently being destroyed by al-Qaeda linked, U.S. supported “freedom fighters.”  Similarly, in Egypt, where Alexandria was a major center of ancient Christianity before the 7th century Islamic invasions, there still remain at least 10 million Coptic Christians (though some put the number at much higher). Due to sheer numbers alone, then, indigenous Christians are much more visible and exposed to attack by Muslims than other religious groups throughout the Arab world.   Yet as CNS News puts it, “President Obama expressed hope that the ‘Arab Spring’ would give rise to greater religious freedom in North Africa and the Middle East, which has had the world’s highest level of hostility towards religion in every year since 2007, when Pew first began measuring it. However, the study finds that these regions actually experienced the largest increase in religious hostilities in 2012.”

Christianity is a proselytizing faith that seeks to win over converts.  No other major religion—including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism—except Islam itself has this missionary aspect (these faiths tend to be coterminous with their respective ethnicities: Buddhists, Asians; Judaism, Jews; Hinduism, Hindus).    Thus because Christianity is the only religion that is actively confronting Muslims with the truths of its own message, not only is it the primary religion to be accused of proselytizing but, by publicly uttering teachings that contradict Muhammad’s, Christians are accused of blaspheming as well.  Similarly, this proselytizing element is behind the fact that most Muslims who apostatize to other religions overwhelmingly convert to Christianity.  Finally, if indigenous Christians are many in the Middle East, because that is the cradle of Christianity, in other regions with large Muslim populations, such as sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, Christian missionaries have won over millions of converts to the faith—many of whom are now targeted and persecuted according to Islam’s anti-apostasy law, which often calls for the death penalty.

Christianity is the quintessential religion of martyrdom.  From its inception—beginning with Jesus followed by his disciples and the early Church—many Christians have accepted martyrdom rather than recant their faith, in ancient times at the hands of Romans, in Medieval and modern times at the hands of pious Muslims and others.  Few other religions encourage their adherents to embrace death rather than recant, as captured by Christ’s own words: “But whoever denies me before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven” (Matt 10:33; see also Luke 14:33).”   Conversely, Islam teaches Muslims to openly renounce their faith (taqiyya)not just when their lives are threatened, but even as a stratagem of war—as long as they remain Muslim in their hearts.  Other religions and sects also approve of dissimulation to preserve their adherents’ lives.  Back in the 1800s, for instance, Samuel M. Zwemer, a Christian missionary, observed that in Iran “Bahaism enjoys taqiyya (concealment of faith) as a duty, but Christianity demands public profession; and hence in Persia it is far easier to become a Bahai than to become a Christian.”

To summarize, because of their sheer numbers around the globe, including the Muslim world, Christians are the most likely targets of Islamic intolerance; because sharing the Gospel, or “witnessing,” is a dominant element of Christianity, Christians are most likely to fall afoul of Islam’s blasphemy and proselytism laws, as even the barest pro-Christian talk is by necessity a challenge to the legitimacy of Islam; because most Muslims who apostatize to other religions convert to Christianity, it is as Christians that they suffer persecution; and because boldness in face of certain death—martyrdom, dying for the faith—is as old as Christianity itself, Christians are especially prone to defy Islam’s anti-freedom laws, whether by openly proclaiming Christianity or by refusing to recant it, and so they die for it.

 

Whoever wins in Syria, its Christians who will lose

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David Cameron will almost certainly get his Syrian war. Who will fight it, let alone who will win it, remains unclear. But who will lose it is already known — the Christians.

The relentless persecution of Christ’s followers is foretold in the Gospel. Suffering is portrayed as the pathway to triumph. The global position today conforms quite closely to that picture. Three quarters of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians — the expanding part — now live outside the largely tolerant West. At the same time, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that Christians suffer more persecution than any other religious group.

Within the Middle East, however, the story is not of expansion accompanied by persecution, but of persecution leading to elimination. The ‘Sunday’ people are now following the ‘Saturday’ people out of the Middle East. The outgoing Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who knows that history, has called the suffering of Arab Christians ‘a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked’. He complained that ‘people don’t speak more about it’.

But do not expect the British government to speak about it. In all the deliberation about targets, timetables and media opportunities, as they ratchet up Britain’s creaking war machine, not a moment will be wasted on the consequences of intervention for Syria’s Christian population. Whether in Iraq, or Syria, or Egypt, or in any future hotspot (Lebanon will probably be next) the Christian community somehow is always just too insignificant, and usually on the wrong side of the argument. In Iraq, Christians were thought too close to Saddam. In Syria, they are reckoned too close to Assad. In Egypt, where the Coptic Pope openly backed the military ‘non-coup’ against the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Morsi, the Christians find no sympathy from western policy makers.

One reason is that Arab Christians do not fit into the governing global misconceptions. In the Middle East, reflective people are unimpressed by promises of democracy.  In particular, Christians there have understood, after centuries of experience, that western promises are worthless, because westerners never stay engaged. Christians reckon that their only guarantee of survival is stability; that their only hope for equality is secularism; and that their two great enemies are Islamic zeal and anarchy. And they are right, even if that makes no sense to Britain’s neocon Prime Minister and his advisers.

anti_christianWherever any strongly Islamic regime is in power, Christians suffer. It is an immutable rule. And the more Islamic the state, the harsher the treatment Christians receive. Since the Arab Spring, every upheaval or election in the Middle East has brought some brand of Islamist to power. In every case, Christians are threatened.

Iraq’s troubles preceded those of the rest, but they are important because they eerily prefigure them. ‘Democracy’, imposed at gunpoint, has meant in Iraq, among other horrors, the mass persecution of the country’s Christian minority. Murders, kidnappings, intimidation and expulsions, impelled by a mixture of greed and fanaticism, have reduced that ancient, venerable community to total ruin.  Of some 1.4 million Christians living in Iraq before the war, perhaps 400,000 — mostly the poor and the old — remain.

Many Iraqi refugees left to join the two million indigenous Christians of Syria. They now share their hosts’ lot — persecution by the western-supported, Saudi-financed, Islamist-dominated Syrian rebels. Large areas of opposition-held Syria are now under sharia law. Saudi judges have appeared to administer it. Non-Muslims are only tolerated if they pay the jizya, the tax imposed on infidels.

Priests are special targets. This is where a Syrian Catholic priest, Father François Murad, was murdered last month. He was not the first to die. A Syrian Orthodox priest, Father Fadi Haddad, was grabbed last December as he left his church to negotiate the release of a kidnapped parishioner. His body was found by the roadside, the eyes gouged out. Two higher-profile recent cases — if not high enough for the government or most of our press to notice — are those of the Greek Orthodox archbishop Paul Yazigi and the Syriac Orthodox archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. They were seized near Aleppo in April, when trying to negotiate the release of kidnapped priests. Both archbishops are now presumed dead.

The case of Egypt is more problematic for the West, which, with Britain as chief dupe, has managed to misread and misplay every move since the fall of Mubarak in early 2011. The West thought that removing a dictator would ensure democracy. Instead, it permitted the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, not a party but an unreconstructed Islamist movement, which rapidly, if incompetently, sought to reshape Egypt, until non-Islamists rebelled, and the army intervened. Whether the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Tawadros II, turns out to have been inspired or just foolhardy in backing the army, only events will decide.

By his action he rejected the traditional Muslim assumption that Egypt’s Copts — 10 per cent of the population — enjoyed second-class status. That was a direct challenge. The Islamists have reacted wherever they are in control. Since Morsi’s removal, 58 Christian churches, as well as several convents, monasteries and schools and dozens of homes and businesses have been looted, burned and in many cases destroyed. Tawadros himself has gone into hiding. In Cairo, Franciscan nuns watched as the cross over their school was torn down and replaced by an al-Qa’eda flag; the school remains were burnt; and then three of the sisters were marched through the streets, while a mob hurled abuse at them. The reaction of the US State Department’s official spokesman to these outrages was: ‘Clearly, any reports of violence we’re concerned about, and when it involves a religious institutions [sic], are concerned about that as well.’ The words ‘church’, ‘Christian’ or ‘persecution’ could not cross that eloquent spokesman’s lips. Nor, it is safe to say, will they figure in one of William Hague’s innumerable tweets.

3427287791_7a5664d8eb_mThis refusal to acknowledge the systematic maltreatment of Christians by Islamic governments is, of course, shameful, but also revealing. The facts are well known, but they are ignored. They embarrass, because they expose the impotence of the West, whereas its leaders like to pose as statesmen arbitrating the future of nations. But they also embarrass modern liberals generally, because they show how little has changed in the great religious and cultural struggles that dominate history.

In May, Pope Francis canonised some 800 martyrs. These Otranto martyrs were all beheaded by the Ottoman Turks in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam. What now faces Christians in the Arab world, as the West flounders, blunders and postures, may yet provide further reminders of Otranto.

by Robin Harris

Christian Aid Agency Announces Plans to Airlift 3,400 Persecuted Christians from Sudan

Sudan Christian children

SUDAN – Following increased persecution in northern Africa, a major Christian organization has announced plans to evacuate over 3,000 Christians from Sudan in coming months.

Since South Sudan seceded from its northern counterpart two years ago, Christians in Sudan have suffered under heavy persecution from the predominantly Islamic culture, where Sharia law is enforced. Demographic data suggests that 97-98% of Sudan’s population is Muslim, and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir declared last year that he desired “a 1oo% Islamic constitution, without communism or secularism or Western [influences].

The U.S. Department of State identified Sudan as a “country of particular concern” in its most recent International Religious Freedom Report, which was released in late May. The report explains that the Countries of Particular Concern are nations which display “particularly severe, … systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”

“The [Sudanese] government at times enforced laws against blasphemy and defaming Islam,” the Department of State report details. “Authorities harassed religious practitioners of unregistered groups and limited the freedom of the four registered religious groups. There were instances of abuse and mistreatment. … State governments and local authorities razed two churches.”

description of Sudan by the Barnabas Fund—a Christian organization which strives to “support Christians where they are in a minority and suffer discrimination, oppression and persecution as a consequence of their faith”—echoes similar concerns over religious freedom violations in the north African nation.

“Since the mainly Christian South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, Christians and churches in Sudan have faced increasing aggression,” the Barnabas Fund reports. “They already endured discrimination and many restrictions, but now church leaders have been threatened, arrested and abducted, and Christian buildings destroyed.”

As a result of the intense persecution against Christians, Barnabas Fund recently announced plans to evacuate 3,400 Christians from Sudan to the freer South Sudan. This effort is a bold extension of the organization’s “Exodus” project that was initiated last year. Since the Sudanese government has stripped countless Sudanese Christians of their citizenship, Barnabas Fund has provided airlifts to thousands of people seeking better lives in South Sudan.

When Exodus was first launched, Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, admitted that the airlifts—which each cost roughly $275—were a “major endeavour.”

“When faced with such tremendous need, it can be overwhelming, but we have a powerful God and nothing is too difficult for Him,” he stated. “It is an honour for us to be able to help the most vulnerable Christians get to safety in South Sudan, and I invite you to be part of this rescue mission through your prayers and gifts.”

Officials with the aid agency estimate the total cost of the additional evacuation effort will be nearly $120,000.

“We are very grateful that our supporters have been moved by the plight of their Christian family in Sudan to give generously to this rescue mission,” Sookhedeo said in a statement this month. “We must now call on your help again as we prepare to assist more endangered women and children. Perhaps you could ask your church to have a collection for this cause?”

Source

A Middle East Without Christians

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Islamist terrorists have exploited the lawless Sinai to perpetrate vicious attacks on Egyptian Christians there, as reported earlier this week in the New York Times. Indeed, throughout Egypt, the Copts continue to be targeted and scapegoated for the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As defenseless and abandoned as Mideast Christians seem today, it is worth remembering their historical roots, and recognizing just how much the plight of Middle East Christians has deteriorated. Over 2,000 years ago, Christianity was born as a religion and spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the Levant, including territories in modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. The Christian faith flourished as one of the major religions in the Middle East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century.

Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 2-5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would “likely drop to” half of their numbers “by the year 2020″ because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of “exclusion and persecution” leading to emigration.

The “Arab Spring” has only worsened conditions for the indigenous Christians of the Middle East. Like the Kurds, Middle East Christians are a stateless minority, struggling to survive in the world’s toughest neighborhood. But the Kurds at least have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and most of them are Sunni Muslim, making it easier for them to survive in the Muslim-dominated Middle East. Christians, on the other hand, are a religious minority that controls no territory and is entirely subject to the whims of their hosts. These host countries – with the exception of Israel – offer a grim future to Middle East Christians. Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, Egypt also has the largest Christian population in the Middle East, totaling 8-12 million people. But because Christian Copts make up only about 10-15% of Egypt’s estimated 80 million people, they have for decades lived in fear as second-class citizens, subjected to attacks on churches, villages, homes, and shops; mob killings; and the abduction and forced Islamic conversion of Christian women compelled to marry Muslim men. Such abuse took place under the staunchly secular regime of Hosni Mubarak, but grew much worse under the rule of Mohammed Morsi, the jailed Muslim Brotherhood activist who succeeded Mubarak, and they are now being blamed for Morsi’s ouster.

In Lebanon, Christians represent a bigger portion of the population, so their fate is for now less precarious than that of their Egyptian coreligionists, but their long-term prospects are worrisome. The Christian population is estimated to have dropped from over 50% (according to a 1932 census) to about 40%. Over the last few years, the de facto governing power in Lebanon has become Hezbollah, the radical and heavily-armed Shiite movement sponsored by Iran. With all of the spillover violence and instability produced by the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s open involvement in it, and/or the next war that Hezbollah decides to start with Israel, the emigration of Christians out of Lebanon will probably only increase in the coming years, leaving those who stay increasingly vulnerable.

In Syria, 2.5 million Christians comprised about 10% of the population and enjoyed some protection under the secular and often brutal regimes of the Assad dynasty. But as jihadi groups fighting Assad extend their territorial control, the past protection of Christians is often the cause of their current persecution by resentful Sunnis who revile the Assad regime and seek to impose Sharia law wherever they can. Christians have been regularly targeted and killed by rebels, and the sectarian chaos and violence that will likely prevail in Assad’s wake will only increase the number of Christians fleeing Syria.

In Iraq, the bloody aftermath of the 2003 invasion demonstrated how dangerous life can become for a Christian minority when a multicultural society in the Middle East explodes into sectarian violence. By 2008, half of the 800,000 Iraqi Christians were estimated to have left, rendering those remaining even more insecure. In 2010, Salafist extremists attacked a Baghdad church during Sunday Mass, killing or wounding nearly the whole congregation. Such incidents turn any communal gathering into a potential massacre, forcing Christians across the Middle East to ask the ultimate question of faith:

“Am I prepared to die for Christian worship?”

The so-called “Arab Spring” threatens to exacerbate matters in much of the Middle East, as Islamists now either control the government or influence it enough to persecute Christians with impunity. As new Islamist regimes in the Middle East condone religious intolerance and introduce Sharia and blasphemy laws, the long-term trend for Christians in their ancestral lands will only grow bleaker.

The one bright spot is the state of Israel – “the only place in the Middle East [where] Christians are really safe,” according to the Vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. Home to Christianity’s holiest sites and to a colorful array of Christian denominations, Israel has the only growing Christian community in the Middle East.

Because Israel is the only non-Muslim state in all of the Middle East and North Africa, it represents a small victory for religious minorities in the region, and serves as the last protector of freedom and security for Jews, Christians, Bahai, Druze, and others. Without Israel, how much more vulnerable would Christians in the Middle East become?

Source

Pray for Tunisia

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Many consider the city of Kairouan, in the center of Tunisia, the 4th most holy city in Islam. It was once the center of Islamic teaching in North Africa and is home to the oldest minaret in the world (730AD). Father, just as the apostle Paul was once passionate for the traditions of his fathers, transform the worldview of many zealous Muslims in Kairouan through an encounter with Jesus.

I you would like to find out more about Christianity in Tunisia, read testimonies of Tunisian Christians, and learn how to help and pray for them, click here.

Spain: “Soon the Muslims Will Be the Kings of the World”

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(Gatestone Institute) While Spanish Muslims are busy trying to Islamize Spain, Spanish politicians are busy removing all references to Christianity from public discourse…The requirement which will be enshrined in Spain’s legal code law, represents an unprecedented encroachment of Islamic Sharia law within Spanish jurisprudence.

Spanish police have arrested a Muslim immigrant in Mallorca after he claimed to have been sent by Allah to “kill all the Spanish.”

The arrest follows a series of other Islam-related incidents in recent weeks and months which reflect the mounting challenge that radical Islam is posing to Spain.

In the latest incident, police on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca arrested a German national of Tunisian descent on June 13 after he repeatedly threatened to carry out terror attacks in the name of Allah.

According to Spanish authorities, the man made “constant threats of death and references to being a Muslim” and warned,

“I do not mind dying; if I have to die, I will die, but I will take plenty of others with me.”

The man threatened to blow up a hairdressing academy in the Mallorcan capital of Palma and “kill everyone.”

The man said he had “terrorist friends who could plant bombs” and warned that “soon the Muslims will be kings of the world.”

Spanish police said the man — who had previously been arrested on February 15 for threatening to kill a local policeman — became radicalized after visiting Tunisia in 2012.

On June 12, police in Barcelona arrested five Tunisian jihadists for “inciting Islamist terrorism” after they shared more than 400 videos on social networks of speeches of al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as footage of summary executions, terrorist attacks and tutorials on bomb-making.

The Spanish Interior Ministry said the individuals had undergone “strong processes of self-radicalization which led them to embrace the thesis of Salafist jihad.”

The arrests were part of Operation Carthage (Operación Kartago), a nationwide, year-long effort to “neutralize” so-called lone-wolf jihadists as well as Islamists with combat experience returning from conflict zones in Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

Shortly after the arrests, Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz announced that the government would seek to amend the Penal Code to make it a crime of terrorism 1) to give or receive “passive training” by means of “proselytization in prisons” for those serving sentences for crimes of jihadist terrorism, and 2) for imams to “indoctrinate” in mosques or on the Internet or by travelling to Islamist training camps abroad.

Díaz said the legal change is necessary because although Spanish law already makes it a crime of terrorism to “indoctrinate,” prosecutors have found it difficult to prove that those who are involved in terrorism-related training are personally committed to carrying out actual attacks.

Spanish judges have long been accused of using the ambiguous legal framework to justify the lenient treatment of suspected terrorists. For example, four of the five individuals arrested in Barcelona were released from jail on June 14 after a judge decided that keeping them in preventative detention constituted “excessive” punishment.

On June 5, police in Barcelona arrested a Pakistani immigrant after he attacked the bodyguard of local politician with a metal rod. The politician in question was Alberto Fernández Díaz, the leader of the center-right Popular Party in Barcelona who also happens to be the brother of Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz. The Pakistani, whom police describe as being a “radical Islamist,” was shouting chants of “for Allah!” while carrying out the attack.

On May 24, police in the Basque city of Bilbao arrested a 44-year-old Muslim immigrant from North Africa after he raped and cut the toe off a 25-year-old female social worker. According to local police, the man tied the woman to a chair and gagged her with a curtain after she told him he would be evicted from an apartment building for violating the housing rules.

On May 10, police in Gibraltar deported to Spain a Turkish member of Al-Qaeda who entered the British territory illegally. Cengiz Yalcin had been arrested in Spain in August 2012 along with two Chechens for plotting to drop explosives from remote-controlled airplanes onto a shopping mall in Gibraltar during the 2012 London Olympics.

A police raid of Yalcin’s apartment in 2012 yielded enough explosives “to blow up a bus.” The raid also yielded three motorized para-gliders and a video in which Yalcin is filmed flying a large remote-controlled model airplane.

Spanish investigators said they suspected the cell was testing a remote-controlled airplane as a potential bomber. The video footage showed the aircraft — about three meters, or nine feet, long — being maneuvered into a descent during which two packages were dropped from both of its wings.

The three suspects , however, were quietly released on bail in March 2013 after a judge in Madrid ruled that there was insufficient evidence to keep them in custody.

In April, it was revealed that up to 60% of Moroccan immigrants in Spain are unemployed and living off the Spanish social welfare state. According to the Barcelona-based Friends of Morocco Association (ITRAN), many Moroccans in Spain do not know the language “despite having lived here for many years…they are uneducated and qualified only to work in construction, farming and restaurants. The ghettos are becoming larger, the various government administrations are guilty of a remarkable neglect and now the excuse is that there are insufficient financial resources.”

Also in April, an Islamist group known as the Moroccan Ghosts [fantasmas marroquíes] hacked a local government website in Huelva, a town in southern Spanish region of Andalusia.

The hackers uploaded an apocalyptic image showing the Spanish flag in flames with the words: “By attacking your websites we are going to destroy your economy.” The text continued, “You have always believed that our silence in relation to your continual mortal errors towards the kingdom of Morocco and the great Moroccan people is due to fear.” The message continued with a call for Islamic terrorism, and warned Europe and Spain that they will be the targets of a series of attacks that will turn into their “worst nightmare.”

The message also included innumberable references to Al-Andalus, the Arabic name given to those parts of Spain, Portugal and France that were occupied by Muslim conquerors (also known as the Moors) from 711 to 1492.

Many Muslims believe that the territories they lost during the Christian Reconquista of Spain still belong to them, and that they have every right to return and establish their rule there.

While radical Muslims are busy trying to Islamize Spain, Spanish politicians are busy removing all references to Christianity from public discourse.

In May, the Socialist government running the northern Spanish region of Asturias passed a new law that prohibits schools from using “religious terms” when referring to the Christmas and Easter holidays.

In an effort to “avoid offending the sensibilities” of Muslims students, teachers and pupils in Asturias classrooms will now have to refer to Christmas as “winter holidays” and Easter as “second term holidays.”

In February, Spain acceded to the demands of the Islamist government in Morocco by agreeing that Moroccan children adopted by Spanish families must remain culturally and religiously Muslim.

The agreement obliges the Spanish government to establish a “control mechanism” that would enable Moroccan religious authorities to monitor the children until they reach the age of 18 to ensure they have not converted to Christianity.

The requirement, which will be enshrined in Spain’s legal code, represents an unprecedented encroachment of Islamic Sharia law within Spanish jurisprudence. The move also represents a frontal assault on the freedom of religion or belief, which is protected by Article 16 of the Spanish Constitution.

Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s decision to make Spanish law comply with Islamic Sharia law has generated considerable controversy. But it remains to be seen if any lawsuits emerge to challenge what some are calling the “Islamization” of Spanish jurisprudence.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.

Christians should be concerned. This very well may lead to further persecution.
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