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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State Department eventually granted Sister Diana a visa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Pakistan: Three separate incidents involved attacks on churches:

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

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

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

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

Egypt: Two churches were attacked:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom


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

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

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

Dhimmitude

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

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

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

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

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

Italian Dhimmitude

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

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

Egyptian Dhimmitude

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

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

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

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

Coptic Kidnappings

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

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

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

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

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

About this Series

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

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

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


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

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

[3] According to Bishop Mar Mellis:

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

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

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

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

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

[4] According to International Christian Concern:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

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

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Jihad on Churches: Muslim Persecution of Christians, March 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches and Monasteries

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Slaughter of Christian ‘Infidels’

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

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

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

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

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

Dhimmitude: Generic Contempt and Hostility

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

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

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

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

About this Series

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond Ibrahim cross posted on Gatestone Institute

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

Burnt-church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim Attacks on Churches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistani Rape and Dhimmitude

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

Dhimmitude: Islamic Discrimination Against Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

About this Series

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

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

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

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

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

By Raymond Ibrahim – Gatestone Institute

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim

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

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

anti_christian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Slaughter of Christians 

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

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

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

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

Attacks on Christian Churches 

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

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

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

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

Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

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

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

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

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

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

Dhimmitude 

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

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

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

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

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

About this Series

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond Ibrahim cross posted on Gatestone Institute

Verdict for Moroccan Convert from Islam Sentenced for ‘Proselytism’ Expected Feb. 6

Fez, Morocco. (Wikipedia, Zimaal)

Fez, Morocco. (Wikipedia, Zimaal)

 A Moroccan appeals court on Thursday (Dec. 26) heard arguments for a Christian convert from Islam hastily sentenced to prison for alleged “proselytizing,” sources said.

The Court of Appeal in Fez is expected to deliver a ruling on Feb. 6.

Mohamed El Baladi was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Sept. 3, just a week after his arrest on Aug. 28, in a court in the northern town of Taounate, 50 miles from Fez. Unlike that occasion, when the court convicted him before police allowed him to obtain legal representation, several defense lawyers were on hand yesterday at the hearing.

Authorities on Sept. 26 released him from prison after international outcry over his conviction. El Baladi, 31, was charged with inducing young Muslims to convert, punishable by six months to three years in prison and a fine of up to 500 dirhams (US$60), according to Article 220 of Morocco’s penal code. El Baladi’s fine of 1,500 dirhams exceeded the maximum, and police also took 5,000 dirhams from his home during the raid, a source said.

Police in the remote town of Ain Aicha, Taounate Province, arrested him for alleged proselytizing, vilified him for leaving Islam and pressured him to reveal names of other converts to Christianity, sources said (see Morning Star News, Sept. 13). Strict sharia (Islamic law) condemns apostates from Islam to death.

Mohamed Oulad Ayad of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights reportedly said he hopes the sentence will be reduced to a one-month suspended sentence and fine of no more than 500 dirhams.

Human rights advocates say El Baladi’s conviction and sentencing violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Algeria is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which implements provisions of the UDHR.

Along with the 5,000 dirhams police stole, gendarmerie also seized several Christian CDs, books and magazines, sources said.

The West has generally applauded Morocco’s new constitution of 2011, which provides for a fair trial and presumption of innocence until proven guilty for those accused of breaking the law.

While police monitoring and harassment of Christians is common in Morocco, El Baladi’s case comes as Christians have become increasingly unsettled by persecution and violations of religious freedom. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI is seen as a moderate, but Islam is the official religion of the state, and the king’s titles include, “The Defender of the Faithful.” Christians are also suspicious as his government shares power in a coalition that includes the Justice and Development Party, considered to have links with the Muslim Brotherhood; the party calls for a society governed by Islam.

On Dec. 28, 2005, Christian convert Jamaa Ait Bakrim was sentenced to 15 years in prison for proselytism and for destroying the goods of others by burning two abandoned telephone poles touching his property. In March 2010, the government expelled at least 33 Christian foreign residents from the country. Among them were 10 adult Christians, along with their children, who were running The Village of Hope, a foster daycare center for orphans. The foster children were turned over to the care of people they did not know.

In addition to the expulsions, roughly 81 people were declared “persona non grata” for alleged proselytizing.

There are about 8,000 Moroccan Christians out of a population of almost 35 million people, according to the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report of the U.S. Department of State.

Morning Star News

Muslim Persecution of Christians: March, 2013

HolyWar

U.S. Administration Defends “Human Rights” of Worst Islamic Persecutors of Christians by Raymond Ibrahim

Sweden to send Iranian Christian asylum seekers back to Iran to be tortured and possibly executed for the crime of leaving Islam. Also, the Nigerian government recently did go on the offensive to try to contain the jihadis [of Boko Haram], only to be chastised by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying he was “concerned by credible allegations that the Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations” against the jihadi mass murderers.

The Islamic jihad against Christians in Nigeria is proving to be the most barbaric. A new report states that 70% of Christians killed around the world in 2012 were killed in that African nation. Among some of the atrocities committed in March alone, at least 41 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a bus station in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, these attacks

“were a signpost of the intended extermination of Christians and Christianity from northern Nigeria.”

According to the Rev. Jerome Ituah, “Out of the 52 Catholic churches in Maiduguri diocese, 50 of them have been destroyed by [terrorist group] Boko Haram. When two Christian brothers were returning home after Sunday church service, jihadis opened fire on them with machine guns, killing the brothers, as well as three others, and injuring several more Christians.”

Another 13 Christian factory workers in Kano were “gruesomely” slain. According to the local bishop,

“Reports of the attack reaching us disclosed that on that fateful Saturday at about 7 p.m, Muslim faithful were conducting their prayer close to the affected compound occupied by Christian families, when two taxi cabs stopped in front of the compound and the occupants, who all concealed their arms, dashed into the complex and demanded to know why the residents were not part of the 7 p.m. Muslim prayer. They responded by telling the visitors they were Christians and so could not be part of the Muslim gathering. At that point, they separated the men from their wives and children and shot them dead on the spot after ordering the women and children into their homes” to be enslaved.
The bishop added that, “government should show more concern, like it has always done when Muslims are affected; I have not seen that in the case of Christians—that 13 Christians were killed in one straight attack and nothing is heard from the government reflects selective justice because we are aware of compensation paid to Muslim families in situations of this nature.”

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

syriansFear

Church Attacks

Egypt: According to El Watan News, three Christian brothers were shot dead at their home by automatic weapons a few weeks before two of them were set to have their weddings. The victims’ family was earlier accused of trying to build a church on land they owned after purchasing building material to build a house on that land. The rumors about the building of a church spread during the Friday sermon at the mosque, following which, 2,000 Muslims stormed the land and tried to destroy the house, a car and a tractor, resulting in the murder of the three Christian brothers.

Indonesia: Authorities demolished a church building with a bulldozer in West Java, even as Muslim bystanders cheered and denounced Christians as “infidels.” According to Pastor Leonard Nababan, the government is “criminalising our religion.” The congregation had gathered around the church in an effort to save it; so did Muslims, shouting, “They’re infidels and they’ve built their church without permission;” “Knock the church down now,” and “Allahu Akbar”[“Allah is Greater”].

Iraq: According to Fox News, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were more than 300 Christian churches. Today, a decade after a jihad was unleashed on Christians and their churches, only 57 Christian churches remain in the nation. And “The churches that remain are frequent targets of Islamic extremists, who have driven nearly a million Christians out of the land…” An Iraqi-based human rights organization said that,

“The last 10 years have been the worst for Iraqi Christians because they bore witness to the biggest exodus and migration in the history of Iraq…. More than two-thirds [of Christians] have emigrated.” One of the most dramatic cases of Christian persecution came in late October of 2010, when Al Qaeda members laid siege to Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, killing 58 and wounding 78. According to an AP report , “

praying-handsPlease remember to pray for the persecutors. That they will will come to know the love of Christ!

Iraq’s Catholic Christians flocked to churches to celebrate Easter Sunday [in March], praying, singing and rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ behind high blast walls and tight security cordons… [emphasis added].”

Libya: A Coptic Christian church in Benghazi was attacked by armed Muslims. The jihadis severely beat and shaved the beard and mustache of Father Paul, the priest of the church, as a sign of humiliation. They also beat the deacon and nine attendees. Meanwhile, because Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government had done little to restrain the systematic abuse of Egyptian citizens in Libya, including the murder of one under torture, Copts demonstrated in front of the Libyan embassy in Cairo—prompting yet another attack on the Benghazi church, which was set on fire.

Sudan: According to Morning Star News, Khartoum’s jihad continues to “rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity“: the Evangelical Church in the Nuba was “reduced … to ashes” after an aerial bombardment. Days later, another bombing campaign in the Christian-majority region left two dead and twelve injured. “These bombardments,” said a church leader, “are major sources of fear among the people in South Kordofan.”

Turkey: The 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to go from being a branch of the Hagia Sophia — Christianity’s grandest cathedral, which was transformed into a mosque after the Islamic conquest, and is currently a museum — to being an active mosque. Many Turkish Muslims continue calling for the return of the Hagia Sophia itself to a mosque.

 

Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

anti_christianHolland: A 43-year-old Iranian Muslim convert to Christianity was found murdered. According to the Farsi Christian News Network, the victim went to church the afternoon he was killed: “The shocking news of this senseless murder has brought grief and sorrow to the local Christians, Iranian-Christian community, and asylum seekers across the country.” Christians constitute a large percentage of the Iranians seeking asylum in the Netherlands. (Islamic Sharia law calls for the killing of apostates; in the Islamic world, converts to Christianity are regularly targeted.)

Iran: During a major conference, a Shi’ite leader claimed that Islam was under attack by Christianity in Iran: “Christian booklets and brochures are being sent to people’s doors for free in many areas…. Christianity is being preached in many shops in the Islamic city of Mashhad. Also Christian booklets are sent to people’s addresses without restrictions.” But a Mohabat News spokesperson said, “Of course, the Islamic cleric did not provide any supporting evidence for his claim. However, it seems their sole purpose in bringing up and repeating these claims is to provoke security authorities against, and provide the means for increased pressure on Iranian Christians converts.”[sic]

Kazakhstan: Vyacheslav Cherkasov , a Christian street evangelist, was detained for offering Christian literature to passersby and fined the equivalent of one month’s wages on charges of “violating the rules” regarding “importing, publishing and distribution of religious literature,” which came into force in 2011. The court ordered the destruction of his 121 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles and children’s Bibles, in the first such ruling since the nation gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Local Council of Churches Baptists said in published remarks, “We were shocked—this is sacrilege and illegality.”

Pakistan: The blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl, who was earlier arrested for “blasphemy” when a Muslim cleric falsely claimed that she burned a Koran, has been reopened. According to a BosNewsLife report, “A police investigator asked the Supreme Court in Islamabad to reopen the case” against the Christian girl, “saying he was pressured by the government to drop charges against her after an international outcry.” Her family and she are currently in hiding. A court is also considering a death sentence against 47-year-old Martha Bibi, a Christian and mother, due to alleged “derogatory remarks” about Muslim prophet Muhammad. Another Christian man was arrested after a Muslim (falsely) accused him of blasphemy. But his arrest was not enough to appease the 3,000-strong mob that went on to punish collectively the nation’s Christiansburning two churches and some (approx) 200 Christian homes, and stealing the Christians’ property.

Somalia: Muslim militants murdered another Christian, Ahmed Ali Jimale, 42, who was killed by two men as he stood outside his house, near a police station. Among other charges, the man was accused of apostasy—on the widespread assumption that all Somalis are born Muslims—and, because he worked as a teacher, of “introducing the children to foreign Christian religion.” Muslim militants had warned him that, “We shall come for your head.” A friend of the slain said, “Jimale was a good man who helped our community. His widow is very scared and afraid, not knowing what will happen.” He also leaves behind four children, ages 10, 8, 6, and 4.

Dhimmitude

[General Abuse and Suppression of Non-Muslims as “Tolerated” Citizens]

Egypt: Muslim rioters in the town of Kom Ombo threw firebombs and rocks at police after Friday mosque prayers in an effort to storm a church in which they claimed a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity was hiding. Violence began when a 36 year-old Muslim woman, who had been missing for five days, was allegedly seen outside the church with a female Christian friend. Days later, hundreds of Muslims marched in the town of al-Wasta, to protest the disappearance of another young Muslim girl and accuse the priest of St. George’s Church of using “black magic” to lure her to Christianity. They hurled stones at the church; Coptic shops were forced to close down; Salfis threatened to kidnap a Christian girl if their Muslim girl did not return. However, Watani newspaper had already reported that the Muslim girl sent her family an open letter, posted on the Internet, saying that she ran away because she was sexually abused by her uncles, as well as forced to marry a man she did not want, and that she had left Egypt and was married to a Muslim man. Unrelatedly, a Fox News report states that “Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse.” According to a Voice of Russia report, “Up to 100,000 Christians have left Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Some of those have arrived in Moscow.”

Iran: Also according to Fox News, a United Nations report states that “Iran’s hard-line regime has intensified its violent crackdown on Christians and other religious minorities, even imprisoning nursing mothers for practicing their faith…” The March report provides a “rare, detailed view into the shocking treatment of Christians in Iran, where American Pastor Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence for his alleged work with Christians.” According to a UN expert on human rights in Iran, “The persecution of Christians has increased. It seems to target new converts and those who run house churches…. more than 300 Christians have been arrested since June 2010, according to the report.” Most recently, Five members of the Church of Iran denomination, “charged with disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and an internet activity against the system,” appeared before a judge.

Pakistan: After 3,000 Muslims attacked a Christian village—burning two churches and some 200 homes—the government punished Christians for protesting. According to the Daily Times, “Christians around the country are incensed by the recurring theme of blasphemy allegation followed by attacks and burning down of their vulnerable communities. They have held protests across the country in a concerted effort to vent their disgust at the recent incident and to show solidarity with the victims… Lahore police used the opportunity to beat the innocent Christian protesters. They shot tear gas shells at them and beat them with sticks. Yet when the Muslim attack took place they stood back and watched till the town had been razed to the ground…Muslims of Jhelum city have threatened to burn Christians home in response to the protests. Now the community is living in fear of reprisals for their simple act of condemning violence and the blasphemy laws of Pakistan.”

Sweden: According to Charisma News, “Christians in Iran face arrest, torture, even death. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Swedish immigration officials. Sweden wants to send Iranian Christian asylum seekers, who left Islam, back to Iran where they could be killed. Iran is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians. As apostates from Islam, they face grave danger in this country. But their requests for asylum status that could save their lives have been denied.”

Syria: According to a Catholic leader, up to 30,000 Christians have fled the city of Aleppo, and two priests were abducted and held for a ransom of 15 million Syrian pounds each. Christians are regularly kidnapped and beheaded by jihadi rebels. Also, a short English-language video appeared where Fr. Fadi al-Hamzi told of how his uncle was recently murdered:

“They killed him because he is Christian, they refuse to have any Christians in Syria. … I’m not afraid; my uncle died, he’s immortal now. I can be like him.”

PersecutionhandsWhen asked if he was worried if Christians would be massacred if the U.S.-supported jihadis overthrew the government, the priest said,

“Yes, yes, this will be… they don’t want us here.”

Christians were in Syria 600 years before Islam conquered the nation.

About this Series

Because 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:

silence1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim 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 Sharia.

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

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—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.

 

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