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A recent New York Times article exemplifies why the Times simply cannot be trusted. Written by one David Kirkpatrick and titled “Vow of Freedom of Religion Goes Unkept in Egypt,” the article disingenuously interprets general truths in an effort to validate its thesis.
Much of this is done by omitting relevant facts that provide needed context. For example, Kirkpatrick makes Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the military—widely recognized as the heroes of the June 2013 revolution that toppled former President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood—appear responsible for the poor state of religious freedom in Egypt, when in fact the military has no authority over the judicial system, which is independent.
Even so, there is much evidence that Egypt, while far from becoming a Western-style democracy, is on a better path—certainly than under the Muslim Brotherhood. But these are seldom mentioned in the NYT report. Most recently, for example, the military-backed government jailed a popular Islamic scholar for contempt against Christianity—something that never happened under Morsi, when clerics were regularly and openly condemning and mocking Christians.
Similarly, Sheikh Yassir Burhami, the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement, is facing prosecution for contempt against Christianity for stating that Easter is an “infidel” celebration and that Muslims should not congratulate Christians during Easter celebrations. Previously under Morsi, Burhami was free to say even worse—including issuing a fatwa banning taxi drivers from transporting Christian priests to their churches.
Some positive developments are twisted to look as attacks on religious freedom. Kirkpatrick complains that “The new government has tightened its grip on mosques, pushing imams to follow state-approved sermons,” as if that is some sort of infringement on their rights, when in fact, mosques are the primary grounds where Muslims are radicalized to violence, especially against religious minorities like Coptic Christians. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of attacks on churches and Christians occur on Friday, the one day of the week when Muslims congregate in mosques and listen to sermons.
“State-approved sermons” are much more moderate and pluralistic in nature and the government’s way of keeping radicals and extremists from mosque podiums.
If Kirkpatrick truly cared about the religious freedom of Egypt’s minorities, he would laud this move by the government, instead of trying to portray it as an infringement of the rights of the radicals to “freely” preach hate.
Another positive development overlooked by the article is that Egypt’s native church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, was involved in drafting the new, post-Morsi constitution, and was allowed to voice its opinion over controversial Article Two, which deals with how influential Islamic Sharia will be in governing society. The Church accepted a more moderate version than the previous one articulated under Morsi, which the Church as well as millions of Egyptian Muslims, were against due to its draconian, Islamist nature.
Speaking of the Copts—who are Egypt’s litmus test concerning religious freedom—a closer examination of them alone demonstrates the disingenuous nature of Kirkpatrick’s observations.
Early in the report, and in the context of stating that “the new military-backed government has fallen back into patterns of sectarianism that have prevailed here for decades,” Kirkpatrick asserts that “Prosecutors continue to jail Coptic Christians …. on charges of contempt of religion.”
Interestingly, while this suggests Christians are being jailed under the current government on charges of blasphemy, a close reading reveals that that is not the case. Rather, Kirkpatrick is referring to the many Copts who were incarcerated under Morsi’s reign, some of whom still remain in jail.
Kirkpatrick seems to think that those not yet freeing Christians—due to the chaos it would likely cause among the already highly aggrieved Islamist/Salafi population—are as religiously intolerant as those who threw them in prison in the first place.
Of course, back then under Morsi, when the full extent of “legal” persecution of Christian Copts in the context of “blasphemy” was revealed, the NYT and Kirkpatrick were remarkably silent.
The dissembling continues. Writes Kirkpatrick: “Many Coptic Christians and other religious minorities cheered the military takeover because they feared the Muslim Brotherhood, a religiously exclusive movement whose leaders have a history of denigrating non-Muslims” (emphasis added).
Christians did not “fear” the Brotherhood because their leaders have a long “history of denigrating non-Muslims,” but rather because their leaders have a long history of inciting violence and hate against Christians, leading to countless attacks and atrocities on Copts and their churches over the decades.
Under Morsi, Coptic Christianity’s most symbolic church and papal residence, St Mark Cathedral, was savagely attacked by an Islamist mob, aided and abetted by state security. Then, Coptic Pope Tawadros said that Morsi had “promised to do everything to protect the cathedral but in reality we don’t see this…. We need action not only words… There is no action on the ground… This flagrant assault on a national symbol, the Egyptian church, has never been subjected to this in 2,000 years.”
Kirkpatrick also fails to inform his readership that due to Muslim Brotherhood incitement against the Copts for “daring” to participate in the June revolution against Morsi, in “retaliation,” some 80 churches in Egypt were bombed, burned, or simply attacked by Brotherhood supporters.
Also left unsaid by the NYT is that it was Sisi who pledged that the armed forces would rebuild and renovate the destroyed churches. According to church officials, the army will be done renovating and rebuilding 16 of the churches destroyed by the Brotherhood by the end of June, at which point they will begin phase two of renovating the rest of churches.
Far from pointing this out, Kirkpatrick implies Sisi is indifferent to the Copts, writing for example that “unlike a rival presidential candidate, [Sisi] declined to attend Mass” at the Coptic cathedral during Easter. The fact is, due to Brotherhood assassination attempts—which the rival presidential candidate need not worry from—Sisi has had to decline many public events, not just Easter.
From here one can understand why Kirkpatrick’s next assertion makes perfect sense, even as he offers it with some puzzlement: “But the complaints about continued sectarianism have not deterred church leaders from firmly supporting Mr. Sisi as their protector against worse treatment by the Muslim majority. The Coptic pope, Tawadros II, has hailed Mr. Sisi as overwhelmingly popular, ‘a competent patriot’ on ‘an arduous mission,’ and ‘the one who rescued Egypt.’”
In short, when it comes to religious freedom and tolerance, the current government, although far from perfect, is also better than its Brotherhood predecessor. Hence why, not only the Coptic Church, but the majority of Egypt’s millions of Christians, support Sisi.
Needless to say, that is not the impression that Kirkpatrick gives, as he quotes an unknown Copt calling the pope’s statements which were supportive of Sisi “stupid and myopic.”
Thus it is only in the most general of ways that Kirkpatrick’s NYT article is accurate—in that, yes, religious freedom is still very problematic in Egypt, especially for minorities such as the Copts. It is true that police and security often do little to protect the Copts and their churches from Islamists–but this is partially because police stations are also under attack. Pope Tawadros recently confirmed that, in light of the circumstances, the police and government in general are doing better than under Morsi.
Overlooked and ignored are the true culprits of radicalization—the Muslim Brotherhood and allied Islamists, who, through the mosques and satellite stations, have been radicalizing Egypt for decades. It will take a long time, if ever, to eradicate their influence, but the post-Brotherhood government is a first step in the right direction—despite the NYT’s nonstop propaganda to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood and sometimes even al-Qaeda.
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 at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a CBN News contributor. 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.
On April 24, CBN News Senior International Reporter Gary Lane interviewed [Ray Ibrahim] about Egypt. Lane’s write-up, “Will Egypt’s el-Sisi Protect Christians?” as well as the three part interview, follow:
With only one month to go before Egyptians elect a new president, it looks like former Army Chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be the likely winner. The interim government says international observers will monitor the polling to assure the integrity of the electoral process.
But who will give assurances that violent acts against Christians will be minimized in the months ahead?
Not el-Sisi, CBN News contributior Raymond Ibrahim said. Not the Egyptain military, police, or any other political candidate who may become president.
Ibrahim says that’s because a mob mentality dominates Egypt. This is most apparent on Fridays, after prayers in the mosque. That’s when radical imams preaching an extremist intepretation of the Koran incite their followers to attack the “infidels.”
Watch [the] interview with Raymond Ibrahim, presented here in three parts.
Part #1–Raymond discusses the Egyptian mob mentality:
Part #2–Raymond shares his thoughts on the upcoming election:
Part #3– Raymond talks about the vacant U.S. Ambassador to Egypt position:
Prominent indicators confirm that the U.S. is the chief facilitator of the persecution of Christians around the world today.
According to the recently released 2014 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 nations where Christians are most persecuted, Syria is the third worst nation in the world in which to be Christian, Iraq is fourth, Afghanistan fifth, and Libya 13th. All four countries receive the strongest designation, “extreme persecution” (other designations are “severe,” “moderate,” and “sparse” persecution).
Aside from being so closely and harshly ranked, these four nations have something else in common: heavy U.S. involvement. Three—Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya—were “liberated” thanks to U.S. forces, while in the fourth, Syria, the U.S. is actively sponsoring “freedom fighters” against the regime, many of whom would be better labeled “terrorists.”
The Syrian situation alone indicts U.S. foreign policy. According to Reuters:
Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, said on Wednesday it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said. “This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for Open Doors. Estimates by other Christian groups put the annual figure as high as 8,000.
While most Americans are shielded from the true nature of the war by the U.S. media’s reluctance to report on it, Arabic media, websites, and activists daily report and document atrocity after atrocity—beheadings and bombed churches, Christians slaughtered for refusing to convert to Islam, and countless abducted for ransom or rape—at the hands of those whom the U.S. supports.
It’s enough to point out that “the largest massacre of Christians in Syria,” to quote a top religious leader, was left wholly unreported by any major U.S. news network.
At any rate, the statistics speak for themselves: Syria, which used to be religiously tolerant, is now, in the context of the United States’ trying to bring “democracy” to it, the third worst country in the world in terms of “extreme persecution” of Christians.
The Blaze reports that Dr. David Curry, president of Open Doors,
charged that the Obama administration has essentially declined to make the protection of religious minorities a priority . . . “There are many instances where the vacuum of leadership and spokesmanship has created a real problem,” said the human rights leader. “I would say that every significant data point on this year’s ‘2014 Watch List’ is worse—and I think a factor in it is a lack of leadership from Western governments including . . . the U.S. in terms of religious freedom.”
But it’s worse than that. Far from taking any action or providing leadership—or simply ceasing to support the terrorists responsible—the Obama administration recently tried to go to war with Syria on behalf of the “freedom fighters,” amazingly, in the name of “human rights” (Apparently the unsubstantiated rumor that Assad massacred people is enough for the U.S. to go to war, but the ongoing and well-documented massacres of Christians and other civilians at the hands of the opposition is not enough for the U.S. to stop supporting them.)
What’s worse, even the most misinformed mainstream-media-watching American today knows that the so-called “Arab Spring,” which was hailed to justify U.S. support for “rebels” of all stripes—in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (which months ago destroyed some 80 churches); in Libya, al-Qaeda, which has turned Benghazi into a terror zone; and now the “freedom fighters” in Syria—is not what it was touted to be.
In other words, at this point, whenever the U.S. intervenes in an Islamic nation, Islamists come to power. This is well demonstrated by the other three nations to which the U.S. brought “democracy” and where Christian minorities suffer “extreme persecution”:
- Afghanistan: The supposedly “moderate” Karzai government installed by the U.S. upholds many of the draconian laws enforced by the Taliban—including the apostasy law, fiercely persecuting those who seek to convert to Christianity—and, in 2011, under U.S. auspices, it destroyed Afghanistan’s last Christian church.
- Iraq: After the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered, and dozens of their churches were bombed (see here for graphic images). Christians have been terrorized into near-extinction, with well over half of them fleeing Iraq.
- Libya: Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Qaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have indeed suffered extreme persecution. Churches have been bombed; Christians have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert); and nuns have been threatened.
Surely a common theme emerges here: Where the U.S. works to oust secular autocrats, the quality of life for Christians and other minorities takes a major nosedive. Under Saddam, Qaddafi, and Assad, Christians and their churches were largely protected.
Moreover, while George W. Bush was responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq, the argument can be made that, back then (2001 and 2003), this pattern of Islamic radicalization that erupts once autocrats are gone was less well known than it is today. There weren’t many precedents.
Conversely, the Obama administration has had both Afghanistan and Iraq to learn from—and yet still it supports Islamists and jihadis. But by now, what happens once they assume power—religious persecution, terror, oppression—is no longer a secret.
Incidentally, those who care little for the fate of Christians or other minorities in the Islamic world would do well to remember a simple truism: Wherever anti-Christian elements come to power, anti-American forces come to power. The two are synonymous.
Put differently, Muslim persecution of Christians is the litmus test of how radical an Islamic society has become. In all those Muslim nations that the U.S. has interfered in—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt (till the Egyptians revolted, to the chastisement of the U.S.), and now Syria—the increase of religious intolerance is a reflection of the empowerment of forces hostile to Western civilization.
I am often asked, “How can we help persecuted Christians?” At this point, one must respond: “How about starting with getting the U.S. government to stop being the chief facilitator of Christian persecution?” Altruism aside, it would be in the interests of all who value freedom, religious or otherwise—and especially their descendants.
Copts in the village of Tarshoub, Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, are experiencing intimidation after extremists attacked them on Monday. Aggressors threw stones at Coptic homes, burned a tuk-tuk truck owned by a Copt named Magdy Fathi Rizk and a store owned by Badr Maher.
They also destroyed the fronts of some houses and called for the closure of the church, which dates back more than 40 years in the village.
Father Malak Shehata from the Fashn Diocese told Mideast Christian News that the village of Tarshoub has been served by Father Andrawis, who moved to serve in another location. When the Fashn Diocese delegated a new priest to serve in the village and Copts tried to prepare a residence for him in the church, some Muslims gathered and refused to let the priest enter the church. This was led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the village.
During a reconciliation meeting held yesterday to resolve the situation, the Brotherhood members mobilized the villagers to attack the homes of Christians and prevented the priest from entering the village. They closed the church and Copts could not practice their prayers.
A witness from the village said that they had prayed in the church for many years and there was no problem with their Muslim neighbors until a new priest was ordained. When Copts started to furnish a residence for the priest in the church, a Brotherhood-associate named Ramadan Wahballah mobilized his supporters to reject the reconciliation meeting, which was held to resolve the situation.
They chanted against Copts during the meeting and began to throw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Coptic houses, disrupting the meeting. Copts were forced to close the church and the priest has returned to the Fashn Diocese until the crisis is resolved.
The witness added that they are getting close to the New Year celebrations and Christmas, and yet they are not able to open the church. He noted that security authorities have not arrested the aggressors, while Copts were forced to close the church for fear of more attacks, especially in light of continued incitement by the Muslim Brotherhood.
“After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the street ‘like prisoners of war,’ before a Muslim woman offered them refuge.” — Associated Press
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching pandemic proportions.
The attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians and their churches that began in July on the heels of the popular June 30 Revolution — which saw the ousting of President Morsi and prompted the Muslim Brotherhood to scapegoat and incite violence against the Copts — became even more brutal in mid-August after security forces cleared out Brotherhood “sit in” camps, where people were being tortured, raped, and murdered. Among other things, over 80 Christian churches were attacked and often torched. (Click here for a brief video of one of these many churches set aflame.)
Upper Egypt, especially Minya, which has a large Christian minority, was hit especially hard, with at least 20 attacks on churches, Christian schools and orphanages. “The Islamists,” one resident said, “burnt and destroyed everything. Their goal was to erase all the traces of a Christian presence; even the orphanages were looted and destroyed.” After storming the Prince Tadros el-Shatbi Church, Morsi supporters turned their attention to two homes for disadvantaged children located near the parish church; there, they stole church offerings, clothes, and children’s games before torching the entire building in a fire that lasted over five hours.
|The Al-Anba Mousa Church in Minya, Egypt, after being torched by Islamists. (Image source: Screenhot of Human Rights Watch video)|
The attacks were not limited to inanimate objects. According to the BBC, 10-year-old Jessi Boulus, an only child, was walking home from her Bible class in a working-class area of the capital when a gunman killed her with a single shot to the chest. Her mother, Phoebe, devastated, believes Jessi was targeted purely because she was Christian.
The attacks on Egypt’s Christians were so fierce that, at one point, when they started to run out of food, they were afraid to come out of their homes for fear of being killed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many churches canceled services. Even at the Virgin Mary monastery, which was also torched, one priest said, “We did not hold prayers in the monastery on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years.”
Although some in the West assert that the Christian minority needs to fight fire with fire, when one 60-year-old Copt tried to do just that, firing a gun in the air to scare away an invading Islamic mob, “It proved a fatal error,” the Sunday Times reported: “They took offence at the fact that a Christian fired in the air against them, and they stormed his home and shot him to death before taking his body away and hacking it into parts.”
Scenes reminiscent of the original Islamic conquest of Seventh Century Egypt replayed themselves: an Evangelical church in the village of Bedin was not only attacked but converted into a mosque. Similarly, as reported by the AP, “After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like ‘prisoners of war’ before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.”
Meanwhile, the Western mainstream media sympathized with the Brotherhood while ignoring the Coptic victims. Even the Coptic Church criticized the “false broadcast by Western media” and called for an “objective” revision to be made of the actions of those “blood-thirsty radical organizations…. [I]nstead of legitimizing them with global support and political coverage while they are trying to wreak havoc and destruction upon our beloved land, report all events truthfully and accurately.”
One activist said of the U.S. and the EU, that they “almost daily issue statements threatening to take further actions against our interim government and army, portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as victims while not even mentioning the destruction of over 80 churches, as well monasteries, orphanages, businesses and Coptic schools by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Father Rafic Greiche, the chief spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, criticized President Obama for not speaking out against the worst violence against Egyptian Christians in nearly 700 years: “President Obama when he made a speech he just touched on the burning churches instead of telling the Muslim Brotherhood that they are terrorists and they are making terror on Egypt. He did not speak loud for this and shame on him if he is a Christian that he does not speak out loud.”
Even more telling, although human rights activists and lawmakers have long been asking that U.S. aid to Egypt be made contingent on the respect for the human rights of minorities such as the Copts, the Obama administration failed to include such a condition. In a direct response to the ousting of the Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, however, the administration did reduce U.S. aid to Egypt by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The rest of August’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 according to severity:
Attacks on Christian Places of Worship
Nigeria: A report revealed that, since January 2012 alone, 50 Christian churches were attacked and 366 people killed in those attacks. (Attacks on churches, however, have been going on for well over a decade; hundreds if not thousands of churches have been destroyed.) In August, a Muslim mob with knives and iron rods injured several members of the St. James Anglican Cathedral in Nasarawa—including three pastors, four elders and choir members. According to a source, a “Muslim woman sent her children to purchase water from the church’s borehole, and then a misunderstanding over about 5 naira [less than 1 cent US$] occurred. The Muslim woman then went and invited some of her Muslim neighbors, who stormed the church and attacked the members of the church” as well as damaging Bibles and other property.
Syria: The Antiochian Orthodox church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, one of only two churches that served many Christians, was demolished after the Free Syrian Army took over the region of Thawrah. According to one Christian refugee: “They [FSA] tore up the sanctuary curtains, Bibles and other holy books, and broke all the crosses, chairs and icons of Jesus and the saints. They stole electrical appliances like fans, chandeliers and lights. They took whatever was in the church, and sold it all. There is nothing there now.”
Turkey: After the Christian staff of the Saint Abraham monastery told a group of Muslims that visiting hours were over, the Muslims threatened, cursed, and ultimately attacked the staff, saying “we own this land, obey us or you will be sorry.” According to a member of the monastery, “The monastery was attacked two months before this incident by young [Muslim] Kurds from the town of Batman, but we decided not to go public about it, this time we decided it’s enough. We gave the police the footage from the surveillance camera from the previous attack and now it is gone and no one was punished. They promised us to put guards here but we don’t see any and when they [the police] came yesterday, they attacked us with pepper spray instead of the attackers. Certainly all this cannot be merely coincidences.”
Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Proselytism
Iran: Mohammad-Hadi Bordbar, known as Mostafa, an Iranian convert to Christianity, was sentenced to ten years in prison under the pretext of “crimes against state security.” Court documents state that the man confessed to “having abandoned Islam to follow Christianity … considering evangelization his duty, he distributed 12,000 pocket gospels.” According to Agenzia Fides, “After having received baptism, Mostafa had set up a ‘house church,’ an assembly of home worship, with prayer meetings at home, which are considered ‘illegal.’ Mostafa was arrested in Tehran on December 27, 2012, after a police raid at his house. The security officers detained and interrogated all those present at the meeting for hours, about 50 Iranian Christians. In his home the police found material and Christian publications, such as movies, books, CDs and over 6,000 copies of the Gospel. Mostafa had already been arrested in 2009 for conversion to Christianity, found guilty of apostasy, then released on bail. Similarly, Ebrahim Firouzi, another young convert from Islam to Christianity, was sentenced to one year in jail followed by two years in exile, after being accused of starting and directing an evangelism group, launching a Christian website, distributing Bibles and Christian literature, and attending house churches. The judge described such activities as “propagating against the Islamic regime” and said that Ebrahim was “an anti-Islamic Revolution agent inside the country.”
Uzbekistan: In the Samarkand region, some 30 police officers along with 60 other officials raided a Christian children’s camp, subjecting all 22 children to questioning. Brandishing their batons, police collected statements from the nine adults present at the camp, and all the children, including the youngest, and took them all to the police station for further questioning before releasing them. Officials confiscated a number of items including Christian literature and Uzbek-language New Testaments. Next, police raided the homes of the four adults who organized the children’s camp, and confiscated more Christian literature. It is believed that anti-proselytism related charges will be leveled against the four.
Slaughter of Christians
Central African Republic: Anywhere from 15 Christians to dozens, including a five-month-old baby, were slaughtered and 14 Christian villages emptied, after the Islamic group Seleka, which earlier seized the African nation’s leadership, raided their villages. According to Fr. Gazzera, a local missionary priest from Italy, “It was terrible. Many villages are like ghost towns because they are completely empty. Witnesses told me that the rebels had thrown the bodies of those killed in the river.” During a sermon, the priest lamented how the Islamic takeover of the country is producing “victims of the worst kind of barbarism” who “are being tortured and killed,” while “our mothers and sisters are being raped.”
Nigeria: A former Muslim terrorist recounted in detail the jihad on Christians and how Islamic organizations in the nation, not just Boko Haram, see the slaughter of Christians as one of the loftiest goals to which Muslims can aspire. He also explained how, “If we ask our victim, ‘Will you become a Muslim or not’ and he or she refuses, we will slaughter him like a goat…”
Somalia: Suspected al-Shabaab Islamic militants kidnapped and sexually abused a 28-year-old Christian wife and mother, while calling her an “infidel.” They also texted her husband, who had fled with their small children, writing: “Your wife has told us all about your Christian involvement and soon we shall come for you too.”
Syria: Islamic rebels killed Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who had earlier disappeared in the east of the country. Before being slaughtered, the priest had served for three decades in the Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian. Activists say he was killed by the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Dall’Oglio’s disappearance follows the kidnappings of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo; Paul Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim were both kidnapped after gunmen intercepted their vehicle and killed its driver near Kafr Dael as the clergymen returned from a humanitarian relief mission on April 22. They are both believed to be held by Chechen jihadists. Aside from religious leaders, hundreds of regular Christians have been abducted and held for ransom, an activity that is legal according to Sharia in the context of the jihad.
[Infidels as Tolerated, Second Class Citizens in the Islamic World]
Indonesia: During celebrations marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and praying, an unidentified person hurled two Molotov cocktails into the compound of the Assisi Catholic School in South Jakarta, the same school U.S. President Barack Obama attended as a pupil before moving to another facility located in Central Jakarta. According to police sources, the Islamic extremists responsible for the bombings and attacks on religious minorities in Java are linked to the same Islamic groups that beheaded three Christian girls on their way to school in 2005.
Malaysia: A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in favor of the proposed ban on Christians publications from using the word “Allah.” In 2009, when this issue of Christians using the word “Allah” was popularized, churches were vandalized and those supporting the Christians’ using the word “Allah” threatened with death. Also in 2009, the government seized shipments of local language Christian Bibles because they contained the Arabic word for the deity.
Pakistan: A Christian woman and her children are under great pressure to convert to Islam or die by the Muslim family of their deceased husband and father. According to the mother, Martha Bibi, “When I got married, the relatives [of my husband] began to exert pressure so that I convert [to Islam]. But my husband stood up for me, saying that ‘my wife and my children should feel free to profess their faith.’ However, after his death his brothers have begun to terrorize us. They have sworn to kill us if we do not convert to Islam.” Also, approximately 30 armed Muslims attacked a Christian colony by opening fire at residents and throwing projectiles at their homes and local church. The colony, Shah Bagh, is near Joseph colony, where earlier nearly 200 Christian homes were torched by rampaging Muslims. The attack was prompted after a local Christian tried to stop the cable operator from charging Christians more money for cable access. Many Christians were injured, often with bullet wounds.
Sinai Peninsula (Egypt): In the Sinai Peninsula, now populated with jihadis, members of the Muslim Bedouin tribes are abducting Christians and holding them ransom for exorbitant sums. When their often destitute families are unable to pay for their release, the Christians are tortured to death—including by crucifixion. Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, told CBN News : “Sinai was always a place for human smuggling, but since around two years ago—even a bit more—it started also to be a place of human torture. They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies.”
Syria: Concerning the Islamic rebel takeover of Christian regions, one refugee lamented how “if any Christians want to go back they have to become Muslim or else they will be killed.” Displaced Christians further report their property stolen, their homes confiscated, and their possessions sold on the black market. Another refugee lamented they were running out of places to flee: “All the roads are full of rebel fighters. It’s really dangerous. We have lost everything. There is nothing for us over there now, nothing to return to. We just need help to get out of here and settle in a country that is safe.”
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching pandemic proportions. “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 often seems to fail to report.
2) To suggest that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic.
These accounts span different ethnicities, languages, and locations.
Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Media Fellow of the Hoover Institution, 2013
Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies reports) – Egypt’s churches came under attack once again yesterday when a procession of students linked to the Muslim Brotherhood attacked the church of the Virgin Mary in Zaytoun.
The group – which came directly from Friday prayers in the mosque next door – clashed with some young Christians, who prevented the Islamists from storming the building. Thanks to the intervention of some passers-by, who calmed the brawl, a more serious incident of violence was avoided, but the situation remains tense. On 20 October 5 people were killed in an attack on the Church of the Virgin Mary in Al- Warraq .
The Zaytoun attack was filmed and posted online. The video shows the Islamists marching on the place of worship, shouting slogans against the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros . On arriving in the square in front of the Church they are seen tearing down a banner from the front of the church and covering the façade with graffiti insulting the patriarch, the Copts and the Armed Forces.
Local sources said that every Friday after the midday prayer, the Islamists always pass in front of the church hurling insults and anti-Christian slogans . To avoid problems Christians bar the doors of the building. Near the church there is the el- Aziz Bellah mosque, whose faithful militate in the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood. Yesterday, Zaytoun district police arrested a man who had over well 108 thousand posters insulting Christians and the army hidden in his home.
Egypt (MNN) ― Pro Islamist president Mohamed Morsi supporters took to the streets over the weekend. Thousands took part in the protests in Alexandria, Suez, and other cities calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside.
According to an I.N. Network worker we’ll call David, these protests put his family at risk. David says protestors surrounded his home for 50 days a few months ago. “They consider the area as a holy place, and they try to come back to the area again and again. So the police and the army surround the area. Every Friday there is a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood: they try to come back, and they fight with the army and police.”
While David and his family have had to leave their home for a time, they are safe.
Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the government was sacked, Christians had hoped that would change. But, David says, it didn’t. “They are still creating troubles and problems. The last two months they’ve gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed.”
David says that’s why I.N. Network has established an emergency fund to help survivors of the violence. “Winter is approaching in Egypt. And many families–especially in the south–don’t have enough clothes. They need blankets, so we’re doing a project to distribute blankets.”
While the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news.
“Churches are united together. And, the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time.”
The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned out churches the read,
“‘You burned our church, but we love you.’ So it’s a great message of forgiveness. This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus.”
While Muslims are turning, that’s creating another problem.
“Until now, they find difficulty for security reason to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way. They worship the Lord together, and they’re growing. “
As Muslims come to Christ, they’re uniquely qualified to share the Gospel. “The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims,” says David.
While David isn’t praying for more persecution, he’s excited about the Holy Spirit working.
“It’s always like this. When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior.”
If you’d like to help IN Network with their emergency response fund, click here.
Coptic activists and organizations in Canada announced today they are working hard for the conference held on November 19 in the Canadian Parliament under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada, and in the presence of Jason Kenny, Canadian Labour Minister, Chris Alexander, Immigration Minister, and Bob Descartes, member of the Canadian Parliament, Secretary of the Canadian Foreign Minister.