The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic, writes Raymond Ibrahim who is a regular contributor to The Herland Report.
This is the second article in the series about the persecution against Christians in the Middle East. Read the first article here.
Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. Here are some examples.
Nigeria: Muslim herdsmen slaughtered 45 Christians in coordinated attacks targeting five Christian-majority villages. “Most of the victims in the latest atrocities were women, children and elderly people, who could not escape the gunfire of the attackers. More than 120 buildings, including eight churches, were also razed to the ground,” the report said. Separately, a Christian pastor and eight others were killed in a suicide attack that targeted a refugee center. The female suicide attackers were sent by the Islamic group, Boko Haram; they may have been among the many Nigerian girls kidnapped, raped, and indoctrinated into believing that death in jihad is their only salvation. Aid workers who visited these refugee camps described them: “Life has become hell for the more than 3,000 people living here… Already people are resorting to eating leaves. Children are dying of hunger. If nothing is done for these people, this will lead to a huge tragedy. People cannot go home because Boko Haram is constantly regrouping and continuing attacks.”
France: A masked man carrying a knife and sawed off gun invaded a missionary retirement home in Montpellier that houses 60 retired missionaries, as well as several nuns, and repeatedly stabbed an elderly French woman to death. “The attack has echoes of the murder of Catholic priest Jacques Hamel, stabbed at the altar of his church in July. However, officials are keeping an open mind about the crime,” noted the report. An older report from January 2015 describes the region around Montpellier, near where the attack occurred, as “a centre of jihadist recruitment.”
Egypt: After 54-year-old Magdy Makeen, a poor Christian villager who provided for his family by selling fish, accidentally hit a police car with his horse-drawn cart, angry officers arrested and took him to prison, where they tortured and eventually killed him. As happens whenever authorities kill arrested Christians, they offered the slain man’s family an implausible story concerning how he died, in which police were exonerated of any wrongdoing. But before authorities could bury the body, family members saw many bruises and other signs of violence on it.
Liberia: After converting from Islam to Christianity, 17 young people were persecuted by their Muslim families. “They have been threatened, beaten and ordered to stop attending church and listening to Christian music, and many have fled to nearby villages for safety,” said the report. “The young believers placed their faith in Christ after hearing the Gospel from visiting Christian pastors, who also gave each of them a pocket-sized Bible. Although they were initially afraid to listen to the pastors for fear of persecution, they continued visiting with them and other believers at night. Eventually, the new Christians’ relatives noticed they had stopped attending the mosque and learned of their conversion to Christianity.”
Uganda: After two boys, aged 16 and 17, converted from Islam to Christianity, their parents declared them apostates deserving of death. When they ran for their lives, the home of a Christian man who gave them refuge was torched and gutted by Muslims. The man remains in fear for his life; the arsonists left leaflets promising more attacks: “Be informed that we are not yet finished with you. Expect more, worse things are on the way.” Now he, too, and his family are on the run.
Europe: Christians, especially Muslim converts to Christianity, in refugee camps with Muslims throughout Europe continue to be persecuted. In the words of Iranians living in a refugee center in Germany:
We, the Iranian refugees based in the city of Rotenburg, have fled from the Islamic Republic of Iran because we have been accused of being Christians and, therefore, have repeatedly been threatened by torture, imprisonment and the death penalty. Here, where we have been accommodated presently, we are exposed to the same kinds of threats as before, this time at the hand of Afghan Muslims, and we fear for our lives… The Afghan refugees…call us Iranian Christians ‘apostates’ and ‘infidels’ because of our decision to leave Islam and consider the shedding of our blood as legitimate (or even necessary).
Separately, a Kurdish church leader said he received death threats for having left Islam for Christianity while living in camps outside the French cities of Calais and Dunkirk. In both camps Muslims antagonized him: “In Calais, the smugglers [saw] my cross [round my neck], and said: ‘You are Kurdish and you are a Christian? Shame on you.’ I said, ‘Why? I’m in Europe, I’m free, I’m in a free country.’ They said, ‘No, you are not free, you are in the Jungle. The Jungle has Kurdish rule here – leave this camp.’ The smugglers were from inside the camp, and were Kurdish. They said to me, ‘We will tell the Algerians and Moroccans to kill you.’”
Pakistan: While he was at school, a nine-year-old Christian boy was falsely accused of burning a Koran. His mother and he were imprisoned on the charge of blasphemy. They were eventually released from prison after police found no evidence to substantiate the accusation. However, “despite their innocence, the two imprisoned Christians revealed upon their release that they were interrogated and tortured during their four days in prison, saying their interrogators tried to force them to confess to a crime they did not commit. The interrogators, however, failed to get any confession from them,” said the report. Separately in Pakistan—a nation where dozens of Islamic stations are free to air their programs on television, including ones that glorify jihad against “infidels”—all Christian television stations have been ordered to shut down, despite the fact, as Christian minorities point out, that article 25 of the Pakistani constitution states “all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.” “What is the future of church media in Pakistan? It is a very difficult time for us. We were just trying to reach our own community who are generally ignored by other TV channels,” Fr. Morris Jalal, founder and executive director of Catholic TV, told reporters as his team packed up their equipment.
Ethiopia: Last October, four young Christian girls—aged 18, 15, 14, and 14—handed out a booklet entitled, “Let’s speak the truth in love.” Because it challenged Islamic accusations against Christianity, local Muslims rioted. They attacked a church and assaulted Christians. The girls were arrested and, after a brief court hearing on November 15, sentenced to a month in prison. All four girls will serve their sentence among common criminals, even though three are under 18.
Afghanistan: A report published in November highlighted the great dangers Afghans who convert to Christianity face daily: “The representation of Christians in Afghanistan is so small that to be one means certain persecution. With the majority of the population Muslim, these new Christians aren’t just deciding to follow Christ. They’re abandoning an old faith and the safety that comes with it. According to the Joshua Project, 99.8 percent of the population follows Islam. Only .03 percent of the population could be described as Evangelical Christians.” Bob Blincoe of Frontiers USA adds, “The Islamic doctrine is clear and incontrovertible that a person who comes to [the Christian] faith and leaves Islam should be killed. This is not up for discussion in Islam.”
Dhimmitude: Muslim Contempt for and Abuse of Christians
Egypt: Despite the nation’s constitutional guarantee at freedom of worship, all throughout various public school districts, Christian girls who refuse to wear the Islamic veil, or hijab, and Christians of both genders who refuse to recite the Koran—including verses that directly contradict the Christian faith—are being kicked out of school. Some report being beaten before their expulsion.
Algeria: Silmane Bouhafs, a Christian man currently carrying out a three year prison sentence for “attacking Islam,” regularly experiences persecution at the hands of the other inmates. In November, after the prisoners were shown an Islamic religious program, where the cleric incited against all non-Muslims in Algeria, the Christian argued with the other viewers on behalf of religious freedom. The inmates responded by physically assaulting him. Another prisoner intervened in time to alert the guards who broke up the attack. In a message to his daughter, the Christian says he is considered “an enemy of the Islam” and lives in daily risk.
Morocco: A Muslim man in Casablanca tried to kill another man with a sword. The police showed initial concern—until they discovered that the victim, Saeed Zoa, was a prominent Christian who works to promote equal rights for Christians in Morocco. The police then dropped the investigation on the grounds that the Christian is a “troublemaker” who had it coming. Zoa fears that since police have publicized their indifference to his rights, he will be even more aggressively targeted.
Algeria: When mostly Christian family members wanted to bury their 70-year-old father, also a Christian, with Christian rites—rather than Islamic death rites in which Muslims gather in the home of the deceased, imploring Allah and Muhammad to welcome their loved one—the village imam and other Muslims “threatened ostracism from the rest of the village if they did not reverse their decision, and urged the villagers to put pressure on the family,” according to a report. The Muslim sheikh added, “We are Muslims, and we will remain so. The funeral of our dead will be as it always was, and we will not compromise our customs and religion. If someone wants to bury his dead in our cemetery, he should do it according to our traditions.”
Pakistan: In a nation where the most implausible accusation that a Christian offended Muhammad on social media sparks off riots as well as attacks on and arrests of Christians, Christians learned what happens when Muslims mock Jesus. In November, a number of social media posts attacking Jesus and his disciples appeared; although Christians appealed to authorities to take action against those responsible, nothing was done—even though the nation’s “blasphemy” law is written in a way that technically also protects Christianity.
Turkey: While highlighting the persecution Christians suffer in Turkey, a report said that this persecution “is so intense that even dead Assyrians [ancient Christians] and their cemeteries cannot escape it.” The example of Miho Irak is then given: the 77-year-old Christian exile recently died in Belgium; as a paying member of the funeral fund of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs, the government had guaranteed to transfer his body to and bury it in his ancestral homeland in Turkey. However, once officials learned that he was Christian, they immediately reneged on their pledge.