Muslim Persecution of Christians: June, 2012
Saudi Arabia officially bans all religions other than Islam.
U.S.-backed rebels are committing Christian genocide in Syria, where they are sacking churches and issuing threats that all Christians will be cleansed from rebel-held territory. A mass exodus of thousands of Christians is taking place, even as mainstream Western reporters, such as Robert Fisk, demonize these same Christians for being supportive of the secular regime.
The bloody jihad waged against Nigeria's Christians, which has seen hundreds killed this year alone, now includes plans to kill Christians with poisoned food, as part of the Islamic organization Boko Haram's stated goal of purging Nigeria of all Christian presence.
During Egypt's presidential elections, Al Ahram reported that "the Muslim Brotherhood blockaded entire streets; prevented Copts, at gunpoint, from voting and threatened Christian families not to let their children go out and vote" for the secular candidate.
Meanwhile, under President Obama, the U.S. State Department, in an unprecedented move, purged the sections dealing with religious persecution from its recently released Country Reports on Human Rights. Similarly, the Obama administration insists that the Nigeria crisis has nothing to do with religion, even as Obama offered his hearty blessings to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, in the midst of allegations of electoral fraud.
Categorized by theme, June's assemblage of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity.
Egypt: Because many visitors were in attendance, Muslims surrounded a Coptic church during divine liturgy, "demanding that the visiting Copts leave the church before the completion of prayers, and threatening to burn down the church if their demands were not met." The priest contacted police and asked for aid, only to be told to comply with their demands, "and do not let buses with visitors come to the church anymore." Christian worshippers exited halfway through liturgy; they were subjected to jeers outside. As the Christians drove away, Muslims hurled stones at their buses. Also, repairs to a Coptic church that was torched and gutted a year ago by rioting Muslims were woefully inadequate, leaving the congregation with a staggering debt from further necessary repairs.
Indonesia: A Muslim mob of 300 wrecked a store that was being used for a Sunday church service on the pretext that it had not obtained "permission to hold Mass." The mob wrecked the first floor of the store, breaking windows and damaging furniture. Police stopped the mob before it reached the third floor, where some 60 Christians had congregated. Twelve Christians were taken into custody for questioning; none of the Muslims was arrested.
Separately, in compliance with calls by Islamic clerics, authorities ordered 20 churches to be torn down after the closure last month of 16 smaller Christian places of worship in the same district. The congregations continue to hold services inside their sealed-off buildings as a few members stand guard outside.
Iran: Authorities ordered the closure of yet another church in the capital, Tehran, "amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking services," according to a human rights group. The church originally served Christians of an Assyrian background; however, "due to an increasing number of Farsi-speaking believers—mostly [MMBs] Muslim Background Believers—it [the church] has become a cause of concern for the authorities and they now ordered it to shut down."
Kashmir: A 119-year-old church was torched by Muslims. The local bishop "said that the Muslim fundamentalists want Christians to leave the state…. He said that the church had filed a case with the police but had been advised not to 'play up' such incidents." Christian minorities "are coming under growing threat from Kashmir's Muslim majority. A Christian human rights group in India said that over 400 Christians have been displaced as a result."
Kazakhstan: Land use regulations are being exploited "as a means to prevent religious communities and their members exercising freedom of religion or belief." Most recently, authorities "forced a Methodist church to close 'voluntarily'," and fined the wife of the Church's Pastor, who paid for an announcement in newspapers; it said the church was "liquidating itself," because "We do not want more punishment from the authorities."
Nigeria: Islamic militants attacked several churches with bombs and guns during every Sunday of the month; they killed dozens of Christian worshippers, and critically wounded hundreds, including many children. Growing numbers of Christians "dare not" attend church services anymore, even as reports suggest that some police are intentionally abandoning their watch prior to such attacks.
Sudan: Authorities bulldozed two church buildings to the ground and confiscated three Catholic schools, as a response to the secession of South Sudan in July 2011; the authorities said that such buildings, largely associated with the South Sudanese Christians in this Islamic-ruled country, are now unwelcome. Another church building belonging to the Full Gospel Church was destroyed in the same area two months ago, also on the claim that it belonged to the South Sudanese.
Turkmenistan: An Evangelical church in this Muslim-majority nation was raided by authorities: "All adult believers at the meeting were questioned about their faith and all of their Christian literature was confiscated." Their literature was returned two weeks later.
Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism
Egypt: A Christian student handing out Christian literature in Assuit University "raised the ire of Muslim students;" this action apparently resulted in clashes on campus, and caused many injuries "amid shouts of sectarian chants." Likewise, a Salafi leader declared on Egyptian TV that Muslims have no right "to convert to Christianity."
Iran: Five months after five Christian converts were arrested, their condition and fate remain unknown. They are accused of "attending house church services, promoting Christianity, agitating against the regime and disturbing national security." Being imprisoned for 130 days without word "is an obvious example of physical and mental abuse of the detainees…. One of the prison guards openly told one of those Christian detainees that all these pressures and uncertainties are intended to make them flee the country after they are released." In addition, a young Iranian woman, who recently converted to Christianity and was an outspoken activist against the Islamic regime, was found dead, slumped over her car's steering wheel, with a single gunshot wound to her head.
Pakistan: A banned Islamic group filed a blasphemy case against a 25-year-old Christian man, later deemed mentally retarded. Muslims had converted him to Islam two years earlier, to use him as a pretext to annex his Christian village. In the words of a witness: "These people [Muslims] do not let us live. We are poor but are working hard to survive. On the night of the incident a mob of Muslim clerics gathered [around] our colony to burn us all because of the blasphemy Ramzan [the retarded man] committed. Everyone was scared. We all have small children in our houses and we didn't know what to do. The mob surrounded our colony and shouted a slogan to burn all the houses; they had torches in their hands and petrol in the cans. We called police; thank God the police arrived just in time."
Saudi Arabia: Thirty-five Ethiopian Christians who were arrested in December for praying in a private home remain jailed, even as Saudi officials offer contradictory reasons for their arrest. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Christians have been beaten and subjected to interrogations and strip searches. Saudi Arabia formally bans all religions other than Islam. In 2006, Saudi authorities told the United States that they would "guarantee and protect the right to private worship for all, including non-Muslims who gather in homes for religious practice."
Sudan: A Muslim woman divorced her husband, a convert to Christianity; the court therefore automatically granted her custody of their two sons. When their father tried to visit his children, his wife threatened to notify authorities. "They might take the case to a prosecution court, which might lead to my being sentenced to death according to Islamic apostasy law—but I am ready for this," said the Christian. "I want the world to know this. What crime have I done? Is it because I became a Christian? I know if the world is watching, they [the Sudanese authorities] will be afraid to do any harm to me."
United States: Two Christian men in Saint Louis, Missouri received death threats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, apparently for converting to Christianity and preaching it. One of the men formerly served in the Revolutionary Guard and was once even assigned a suicide mission against Israel, before converting and immigrating to the U.S. "The two men believe that Islam is a religion that could easily radicalize a Muslim into a terrorist." Similarly, in Dearborn Michigan, Christian demonstrators exercising their free speech rights were stoned by Muslims shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" ["Allah is Greater!"].
[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]
Indonesia: "The number of violations of Christians' religious rights in Indonesia reached 40 in the first five months of the year, nearly two-thirds the amount of anti-Christian actions in all of last year," according to the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum. The Christian minority in Indonesia faced 64 cases of violations of religious freedom last year, up from 47 in 2010." Violence against Christians also increased.
Mali: "Islamists in control of northern Mali are enforcing a strict version of Sharia law that victimizes Christians, women and other vulnerable groups." The radicals took control of northern Mali in April after ousting the armed forces of the government of Mali. "All the Christians have left Timbuktu (the main city in north Mali) because of the Sharia law as well as because of the presence of people linked with al-Qaeda," said a Christian leader who fled from northern Mali.
Pakistan: Police are siding with the Muslims accused of beating a pregnant Christian woman, causing her to miscarry twins, and gang-raping her 13-year-old Christian niece. "Muslim criminals believe police and courts will give little credence to the complaints of Christians in the country, which is nearly 96 percent Muslim," adds the report. The Christian family is "paying a huge price for being poor … and for being Christian," said the uncle. "What can we expect from the police when they are not paying heed even to the court orders? They are distorting facts and have even gone to the extent of accusing a 13-year-old [raped girl] of committing adultery with three men." Another Christian politician's ID mistook him for a Muslim, causing him to insist "on the floor of the Punjab Assembly that he was born a Christian and appealed to them and the media not to indulge in propaganda against him that could incite Muslim extremists to kill him."
Turkey: Thousands of devout Muslims prayed outside the Hagia Sophia—formerly Christendom's greatest cathedral, now a museum—shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" and demanding that the building be opened as a mosque in honor of the jihadi sultan who conquered Constantinople in the 15th century.
South Africa: More than 70 students were kicked out of the Coastal KZN As-Salaam campus dormitories and are currently homeless because campus officials tried to make the students observe Islam, including by banning Bibles, which the students resisted. "All we wanted was to be free to practice our own religions and not be forced to follow Islam, but now we have been punished by being deprived of safe accommodation," said one student.
About this Series
Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic 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:
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.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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