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Today, April 24, marks the “Great Crime,” that is, the genocide of Christians—mostly Armenians but also Assyrians and Greeks—that took place under the Islamic Ottoman Empire, throughout World War I. Then, in an attempt to wipe out as many Christians as possible, the Turks massacred approximately 1.5 million Armenians, 300,000 Assyrians, and 750,000 Greeks.
Most objective American historians who have studied the question unequivocally agree that it was a deliberate, calculated genocide:
More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse. A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years [more than double the amount of time the invading Islamic Turks had occupied Anatolia, now known as “Turkey”] lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century. At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000…. Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.
Similarly, in 1920, U.S. Senate Resolution 359 heard testimony that included evidence of “[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death [which] have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages.”
In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (consistent with Islam’s rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross,” she wrote, “spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.” Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs.
Whereas the genocide is largely acknowledged in the West, one of its primary if not fundamental causes is habitually overlooked: religion. The genocide is usually articulated through a singularly secular paradigm, one that factors only things that are intelligible from a secular, Western point of view—such as identity and gender politics, nationalism, and territorial disputes. Such an approach does little more than project modern Western perspectives onto vastly different civilizations and eras.
War, of course, is another factor that clouds the true face of the genocide. Because these atrocities mostly occurred during World War I, so the argument goes, they are ultimately a reflection of just that—war, in all its chaos and destruction, and nothing more. But as Winston Churchill, who described the massacres as an “administrative holocaust,” correctly observed, “The opportunity [WWI] presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race.” Even Adolf Hitler had pointed out that “Turkey is taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, i.e., the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention.”
It’s worth noting that little has changed; in the context of war in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, the first to be targeted for genocide have been Christians and other minorities.
But even the most cited factor of the Armenian Genocide, “ethnic identity conflict,” while legitimate, must be understood in light of the fact that, historically, religion accounted more for a person’s identity than language or heritage. This is daily demonstrated throughout the Islamic world today, where Muslim governments and Muslim mobs persecute Christian minorities who share the same race, ethnicity, language, and culture; minorities who are indistinguishable from the majority—except, of course, for being non-Muslims, or “infidels.”
As one Armenian studies professor asks, “If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?” The same can be said about the Greeks. From a Turkish perspective, the primary thing Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks had in common was that they were all Christian “infidels.”
According to a 2017 book, Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, the “policy of ethnic cleansing was stirred up by pan-Islamism and religious fanaticism. Christians were considered infidels (kafir). The call to Jihad, decreed on 29 November 1914 and instigated and orchestrated for political ends, was part of the plan” to “combine and sweep over the lands of Christians and to exterminate them.” As with Armenians and Greeks, eyewitness accounts tell of the sadistic eye-gouging of Assyrians and the gang rape of their children on church altars. According to key documents, all this was part of “an Ottoman plan to exterminate Turkey’s Christians.”
Today, from Indonesia in the east to Morocco in the west, from Central Asia in the north, to sub-Sahara Africa—that is, throughout the entire Islamic world—Muslims are, to varying degrees, persecuting, killing, raping, enslaving, torturing and dislocating Christians; where formal Islamic groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, etc., hold sway, Christians and other “infidels” are literally experiencing a genocide. (See my book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians — or my monthly “Muslim Persecution of Christians” report — for a comprehensive and ongoing account of the “great crime” of our times.)
To understand how the historic genocide of Armenians and Assyrians is representative of the modern day plight of Christians under Islam, one need only read the following words written in 1918 by President Theodore Roosevelt; however, read “Armenian” as “Christian” and “Turkish” as “Islamic,” as supplied in brackets:
the Armenian [Christian] massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey [the Islamic world] is to condone it… the failure to deal radically with the Turkish [Islamic] horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.
Similarly, if we “fail to deal radically” with the “horror” currently being visited upon millions of Christians around the Islamic world, we “condone it” and had better cease talking “mischievous nonsense” of a utopian world of peace and tolerance.
Put differently, silence is always the ally of those who would liquidate the “other.” In 1915, Adolf Hitler rationalized his genocidal plans, which he implemented some three decades later, when he rhetorically asked: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
And who among today’s major politicians speaks—let alone does anything—about the ongoing annihilation of Christians by Muslims, most recently (but not singularly) seen in the Easter Sunday church bombings of Sri Lanka that left over 300 dead?
Note: Chapter 4 of the author’s recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, documents how the first “genocide” of Armenians at the hands of Turks actually began precisely one millennium ago, in the year 1019.
Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist. His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).
Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications. He is currently Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute; and Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
As in former years, Easter was under attack in various Muslim nations, most spectacularly in Egypt. On April 9, two Coptic Christian Orthodox churches packed with worshippers for Palm Sunday Mass, which initiates Easter holy week, were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. Twenty-seven people—mostly children—were killed in St. George’s in Tanta, northern Egypt. “Where is the government?” an angry Christian there asked AP reporters. “There is no government! There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives.” Less than two hours later, 17 people were killed in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Since the original building, founded by the Evangelist Mark in the first century, was burned to the ground during the seventh century Muslim invasions of Egypt, the church has been the historic seat of Coptic Christianity. Pope Tawadros, who was present—and apparently targeted—emerged unharmed. About 50 Christians were killed in the two bombings, 126 wounded and many mutilated. (Graphic images/video of aftermath here.)
A few days earlier, on April 1, 3,000 fatwas [opinions by Islamic authorities] inciting the destruction of churches in Egypt had been circulated throughout Egypt. A number of Egyptian Christians interviewed after the twin bombings said that government-funded mosques regularly incite hatred and violence for Christians over their loudspeakers. In other mosques, according to Michael, a middle-aged Christian, “there are prayers to harm Christians. They incite to violence, youths are being filled with hatred against us and acting on it. It concerns us all. It leads to terrorism and to Christians being targeted.” Separately a Christian woman said, “The problem starts at school where children are treated differently. In school some refused to speak to me because I was a Christian.”
In Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen randomly opened fire on a Christian village. According to Bishop Bagobiri, “The attack came when the people were in the church for the Easter Vigil celebration.” The Muslim gunmen killed “at least 12 persons on the spot, with many injured,” including women and children. Instead of celebrating Easter Sunday, the bishop and a local priest presided over the burial of “at least ten Catholics.” The bishop publicly accused the local governor, a Muslim, of complicity with the perpetrators and bias against their victims.
In Pakistan, a “major terrorist attack” targeting Christians during Easter celebrations was foiled, according to the nation’s military. An Islamic militant was killed and four soldiers injured during the raid. Among the Muslim terrorists arrested was a female second-year medical student who said she was preparing to “martyr” herself as part of a suicide attack on a church during Easter Sunday. Last year in Lahore, an Easter Day Islamic attack left more than 70 people dead.
In Indonesia, 300 Christians from two churches that remain sealed by authorities in West Java, celebrated their fifth Easter by protesting outside the presidential palace in hopes that the president lifts a banning order preventing them from holding services in their own houses of worship. Both churches are legally registered but “are being persecuted by local authorities who refuse to allow them to worship in (more…)
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.
“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.
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.” 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. 
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
 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.
 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.
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.”
 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.
 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.
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).
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.
Muslim demands for non-Muslim “infidels” to pay jizya on pain of death are growing, even as the West fluctuates between having no clue what jizya is and thinking that jizya is an example of “tolerance” in Islam.
In the video where the Islamic State slaughters some 30 Christian Ethiopians in Libya last April, the spokesman repeatedly pointed out that payment of jizya (which the impoverished Ethiopian migrant workers could not render, nor the 21 Copts before them) is the only way for Christians around the world to safeguard their lives:
But whoever refuses [to pay jizya] will see nothing from us but the edge of a spear. The men will be killed and the children will be enslaved, and their wealth will be taken as booty. This is the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.
When the Islamic State invaded ancient Christian regions around the Ninevah Plain last June, it again declared: “We offer them [Assyrian Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”
The Islamic State—which most Western politicians ludicrously insist “has nothing to do with Islam”—is not alone in calling for jizya from Christian “infidels.” In 2002, Saudi Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman, discussing the Muslim prophet’s prediction that Islam will eventually conquer Rome, said, “We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians . . . will yet pay us the jizya, in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam.”
And in a video recently posted, Sheik ‘Issam Amira appears giving a sermon in Al Aqsa Mosque where he laments that too many Muslims think jihad is only for defense against aggressors, when in fact Muslims are also obligated to wage offensive jihad against non-Muslims:
When you face your pagan enemy, call them—either to Islam, jizya, or seek Allah’s help and fight them. Even if they do not fight [or initiate hostilities], fight them!… Fight them! When? When they fight you? No, when they refuse to convert to Islam or refuse to pay jizya…. Whether they like it or not, we will subjugate them to Allah’s authority.
In short, if the Islamic State is enforcing jizya on “infidels,” demands for its return are on the increase all around the Muslim world. Put differently, if Abu Shadi, an Egyptian Salfi leader, once declared that Egypt’s Christians “must either convert to Islam, pay jizya, or prepare for war,” Dr. Amani Tawfiq, a female professor at Egypt’s Mansoura University, once said that “If Egypt wants to slowly but surely get out of its economic situation and address poverty in the country, the jizya has to be imposed on the Copts.”
The Doctrine and History of Jizya
So what exactly is jizya?
The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29, in an injunction that should be familiar by now: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (emphasis added).”
In the hadith, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, regularly calls on Muslims to demand jizya of non-Muslims: “If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay jizya, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
The second “righteous caliph,” Omar al-Khattab, reportedly said that any conquered “infidel” who refuses to convert to Islam “must pay the jizya out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.”
This theme of non-Muslim degradation appears regularly in the commentaries of Islam’s authorities. According to the Medieval Islamic Civilization Encyclopedia, Muslim “jurists came to view certain repressive and humiliating aspects of dhimma as de rigueur. Dhimmis [subjugated non-Muslim Christians and Jews] were required to pay the jizya publicly, in broad daylight, with hands turned palm upward, and to receive a smart smack on the forehead or the nape of the neck from the collection officer.”
Some of Islam’s jurists mandated a number of other humiliating rituals at the time of jizya payment, including that the presiding Muslim official slap, choke, and in some cases pull the beard of the paying dhimmi, who might even be required to approach the official on all fours, in bestial fashion.
The root meaning of the Arabic word “jizya” is simply to “repay” or “recompense,” basically to “compensate” for something. According to the Hans Wehr Dictionary, the standard Arabic-English dictionary, jizya is something that “takes the place” of something else, or “serves instead.”
Simply put, conquered non-Muslims were to purchase their lives, which were otherwise forfeit to their Muslim conquerors, with money. Instead of taking their lives, they took their money. As one medieval jurist succinctly put it, “their lives and their possessions are only protected by reason of payment of jizya.”
Past and increasingly present, Muslims profited immensely by exacting jizya from conquered peoples.
For instance, Amr bin al-As, the companion of Muhammad who conquered Christian Egypt in the early 640s, tortured and killed any Christian Copt who tried to conceal his wealth. When a Copt inquired of him, “How much jizya are we to pay?” the Islamic hero replied, “If you give me all that you own—from the ground to the ceiling—I will not tell you how much you owe. Instead, you [the Christian Copts] are our treasure chest, so that, if we are in need, you will be in need, and if things are easy for us, they will be easy for you.”
Yet even that was not enough. Caliph Uthman later chided Amr bin al-As because another governor of Egypt had managed to increase the caliphate’s treasury double what Amr had. In the words of Uthman, the “milk camels [Egypt’s Christians, that is] . . . yielded more milk.” Years later, yet another caliph, Suliman Abdul Malik, wrote to the governor of Egypt advising him “to milk the camel until it gives no more milk, and until it milks blood.”
Little wonder Egypt went from being almost entirely Christian in the seventh century to today having a mere 10%—and steadily dwindling, thanks to ongoing persecution—Christian minority.
Related to the idea of institutionalized jizya is the notion that non-Muslims are fair game to plunder whenever possible. The jizya entry in the Encyclopaedia of Islam states that “with or without doctrinal justification, arbitrary demands [for money] appeared at times.” Even that medieval traveler, Marco Polo, whose chronicles appear impartial, made an interesting observation concerning the Muslims in Tauris (modern day Iraq) in the thirteenth century:
According to their doctrine [Islam], whatever is stolen or plundered from others of a different faith, is properly taken, and the theft is no crime; whilst those who suffer death or injury by the hands of Christians [during the course of a plunder-driven raid], are considered as martyrs…. These principles are common to all Saracens [Muslims].
All this is echoed in recent times by the words of Sheikh Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini, spoken a few years ago, concerning what the Muslim world should do to overcome its economic problems:
If only we can conduct a jihadist invasion at least once a year or if possible twice or three times, then many people on earth would become Muslims. And if anyone prevents our dawa [invitation to conversion] or stands in our way, then we must kill or take them as hostage and confiscate their wealth, women and children. Such battles will fill the pockets of the Mujahid [holy warrior] who can return home with 3 or 4 slaves, 3 or 4 women and 3 or 4 children. This can be a profitable business if you multiply each head by 300 or 400 dirham. This can be like financial shelter whereby a jihadist, in time of financial need, can always sell one of these heads.
So it was for well over a millennium: Muslim rulers and mobs extorted money from “infidels” under their sway as a legitimate way to profit.
Much of this financial fleecing came to an end thanks to direct European intervention. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, one Muslim region after another abolished the jizya and gave non-Muslims unprecedented rights—originally to appease Western powers, later in emulation of Western governance. The Ottoman Empire’s Hatt-i Humayun decree of 1856 abolished the jizya in many Ottoman-ruled territories. Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the jizya was gradually abolished wherever Western powers were present.
Today, however, as Muslims reclaim their Islamic heritage—often to the approval and encouragement of a West, now under the spell of “multiculturalism”—jizya, whether institutionalized as under the Islamic State, or as a rationale to plunder infidels, is back.
Even in the West, in 2013, a UK Muslim preacher who was receiving more than 25,000 pounds annually in welfare benefits referred to British taxpayers as “slaves,” and explained: “We take the jizya, which is our haq [Arabic for “right”], anyway. The normal situation by the way is to take money from the kafir [infidel], isn’t it? So this is the normal situation. They give us the money—you work, give us the money, Allahu Akhbar [“Allah is Great”]. We take the money.”
Academic Lies about Jizya
Yet if Muslims—from Islamic State jihadis to Egyptian university professors—know the truth about jizya, the West is today oblivious, thanks to its leading authorities on Islam: Western academics and other “experts” and talking heads.
Consider the following excerpt from John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University and a widely acknowledged go-to source for anything Islamic:
In many ways, local populations [Christians, Jews, and others] found Muslim rule more flexible and tolerant than that of Byzantium and Persia. Religious communities were free to practice their faith to worship and be governed by their religious leaders and laws in such areas as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In exchange, they were required to pay tribute, a poll tax (jizya) that entitled them to Muslim protection from outside aggression and exempted them from military service. Thus, they were called the “protected ones” (dhimmi). In effect, this often meant lower taxes, greater local autonomy (emphasis added) …
Despite the almost gushing tone related to Muslim rule, the idea that jizya was extracted in order to buy “Muslim protection from outside aggression” is an outright lie. Equally false is Esposito’s assertion that jizya was paid to “exempt them [non-Muslims] from military service”—as if conquering Muslims would even want or allow their conquered “infidel” subjects to fight alongside them in the name of jihad (holy war against infidels) without first converting to Islam.
Yet these two myths—that jizya was for “Muslim protection from outside aggression” and exemption from military service—are now widely accepted. In “Nothing ‘Islamic’ About ISIS, Part Two: What the ‘Jizya’ Really Means,” one Hesham A. Hassaballa recycles these fabrications on BeliefNet by quoting Sohaib Sultan, Princeton University’s Muslim chaplain, who concludes: “Thus, jizyah is no more and no less than an exemption tax in lieu of military service and in compensation for the ‘covenant of protection’ (dhimmah) accorded to such citizens by the Islamic state.”
In reality and as demonstrated above via the words of a variety of authoritative Muslims, past and present, jizya was, and is indeed, protection money—though protection, not from outsiders, as Esposito and others claim, but from surrounding Muslims themselves. Whether it is the first caliphate from over a millennium ago or whether it is the newest caliphate, the Islamic State, Muslim overlords continue to deem the lives of their “infidel” subjects forfeit unless they purchase it, ransom it with money. Put differently, the subjugated infidel is a beast to be milked “until it gives no more milk and until it milks blood,” to quote the memorable words of an early caliph.
There is nothing humane, reasonable, or admirable about demands for jizya from conquered non-Muslim minorities, as the academics claim. Jizya is simply extortion money. Its purpose has always been to provide non-Muslims with protection from Muslims: pay up, or else convert to Islam, or else die.
And it is commanded in both the Koran and Hadith, the twin pillars of Islam. In short, jizya is yet another ugly fact of Islam—add to offensive jihad, imperialism, misogyny, slavery, etc.—one that, distort as they may, the academics cannot whitewash away, even as the world stands idly by watching its resumption in the twenty-first century.
Note: Most quotations not hyperlinked are sourced from Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. Full references can be found there.
Muslims Attack Christian Village Celebrating Easter, Stab Priest, Destroy Bibles and Crosses in Bangladesh
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.”