Muslims beheading Christians was a visibly growing spectacle throughout the month of August. Islamic State [IS] militants cut off a Christian man's head—after compelling him to say the shehada, the Islamic profession of faith, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger." When the shehada is spoken before Muslim witnesses, the speaker becomes Muslim and thus, in theory, safeguards his life and possessions from the jihad. Not so for this hapless man, who, after renouncing his Christian faith for Islam, was still slaughtered on camera (graphic video can be viewed here).
The Christian Post has the story:
A Christian man in Syria recently had his head brutally hacked off by Islamic militants after being forced to deny his faith and salute Mohammed as "the messenger of God".
The incident was caught on video for the world to see and broadcast as a warning to "everyone like him".
In the video that was posted to YouTube with translated captions, the helpless Christian man is surrounded by armed militants wearing masks and he is heard reciting as instructed: "There is no God but God and I testify that Mohammed is the messenger of God."
An apparent leader in the group of militants is then heard instructing the group: "No one will shoot him now, do you understand? He will not be killed by shooting because it is merciful for him."
"He will be beheaded because he is Kaffir, non-Muslim, sided [with] the government and was not praying at all. Everyone like him will have the same end, beheading," said the militant.
A militant armed with a machete then grabs the defenseless man by the hair and begins to cut his head from his body as the group cries "Allahu Akbar... there is no God but God."
Apparently inspired by the spate of beheadings conducted by the Islamic State, a female British convert to Islam, who is believed to have relocated to IS-controlled territories, "is threatening to behead Christians with a blunt knife," according to the Daily Mail. Umm Hussain al-Britani—formerly Sally Jones of Chatham, a member of an all-girl rock band and single mother of two—warned in messages since deleted "You Christians all need beheading with a nice blunt knife and stuck on the railings at raqqa … Come here I'll do it for you!"
In Nigeria, the Islamic group Boko Haram, which seeks to enforce Islamic law over the whole African nation, beheaded a six-year-old boy, because he was Christian. During Sunday church services, over 100 Islamic militants descended upon Attagara, a Christian-majority village. With machetes and machine guns, they slaughtered men, women, and children.
According to Christian Today, "One villager, Sawaltha Wandala, was arriving at church for the second service when he saw children being massacred. One six-year-old boy had been slashed and thrown into a ditch, but he was alive. Wandala picked him up and was carrying him to a hospital in Cameroon, when he was stopped by five of the militants. The men reportedly took the child from Wandala's arms and beheaded him, then began beating the 55-year-old with tree branches. After striking him in the head with a rock, they left him for dead."
Another Christian man, John Yakuba, was told by Boko Haram members, "You must convert to Islam or else you will die a painful death."
When Yakuba refused to denounce Christ, they tied his arms and legs to a tree, and hacked his hands with a knife.
"Can you become a Muslim now?" the militants asked.
"You can kill my body, but not my soul," Yakuba cried out.
The men continued to cut his feet and back with a machete and knife to torture him.
"We will show you," they said.
Yakuba's head was slashed, and an axe was driven into his knee, reaching the bone.
He lost consciousness and was left tied to the tree for three days before someone found him, after which he was taken to the hospital in a coma.
In a separate attack by Boko Haram, where approximately 100 people from a Christian-majority region were killed, a survivor reported: "I thank God for sparing my life, but three of my neighbors and members of our church were killed during the attack. These Christians in our village had their throats slit with knives while their hands were tied behind their backs. Some houses were bombed as the Boko Haram gunmen were chanting, 'God is great!' in Arabic."
In Kenya, militants from the Somali Al Shabaab Islamic organization abducted a group of traders near the resort island of Lamu, and drove them into a dense forest. The militants eventually released three of them, because they were Muslims, but beheaded the fourth, a Christian.
While "infidel" Christian men were beheaded, Christian women—including children—were raped and enslaved in various regions of the Islamic world.
In Iraq, approximately 1,500 Christian and other minorities not able to escape the advance of the Islamic State were gang-raped and sold as sex slaves, some for as little as $25. A joint statement by two senior UN officials declared that "Atrocious accounts of abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner." One young woman, who managed to hide a mobile phone in the prison, spoke of horrific experiences, including being raped by dozens of men over a few hours. Other women said children born out of rape were ripped from their mothers' arms, and never seen again.
In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where Christians make up less than one percent of the population, dozens of men armed with machetes, knives and iron rods attacked the convent of Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions nuns in Boldipuku, a village mission in north Bangladesh. "The nuns were beaten and molested, ending when police arrived," reported Bishop Sebastian Tudu. According to Catholic Online,
"[S]ome 60 men attempted to loot the building and rape the nuns... The attackers first tied the hands and legs of the mission's two night watchmen and gagged them in the early morning hours .... Three PIME nuns suffered attempted rape and were sent to their provincial house in Dhaka, the national capital where they are trying to overcome the shock and mental suffering."
In Pakistan, yet another Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas ("Sacred"), was raped by a gang of Muslim men. The girl, who worked as a maid for a Muslim family, was returning home from work,
"when Muqadas was kidnapped by two Muslim men and three women. They took her inside a school (which was closed) and the two men, identified as Ashraf Alias Achi and Ghaffor Alias Paida raped her repeatedly in turn. The girl was later abandoned."
As usual, for filing a complaint with local police, her family received threats of more violence. According to the family's Christian lawyer, Sardar Mushtaq Gill,
"In Pakistan rape is used as an instrument of arbitrary power over Christian girls, who come from poor and marginalized families. It is a form of violence that wants to reiterate the submission to Muslims. The rest of society is not outraged because the victims mostly belong to religious minorities, who are the most vulnerable. Rarely rapists are punished. Furthermore, rape victims face terrible difficulties; they do not receive adequate medical treatment for sexual assault. Many girls are traumatized and become depressed and in need of psychological assistance."
(See here for more on the sexual abuse of Christian minors in Pakistan.) For his troubles, Gill, a vocal human rights activist who represents abused Christians, was again targeted for assassination: his home was sprayed with bullets overnight, for the second time.
Although beheadings and rape in the Islamic world may seem distant from the minds of most in the West, the exiled Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Iraq, warned the West that its turn will come. In an interview, Archbishop Amel Shimoun Nona, said:
Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.
Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.
The rest of August's roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.
Muslim Attacks on Churches
East Jerusalem: Seven years of harassment and attacks by Muslims finally forced Calvary Baptist Church to leave their church building. The attacks began in 2007, soon after the congregation moved into the building, located in a predominantly Muslim area. Within 10 days of beginning meetings and worship services, a Muslim who lived near the church attacked a member with a knife. Then someone tried to set the building on fire. Next came vandalism. First, cars parked at the church were damaged, then property. Finally, some children were physically assaulted on their way to church. The congregation was finally evicted after the landlord was threatened. "How dare you do this," he was told. "This is a disgrace to Islam. If you don't do anything about this, we will." The landlord eventually succumbed to the pressure and the 110-member congregation had to leave the building. This is the third church in Muslim-majority East Jerusalem to be forced shut in recent years.
France: In the early morning of August 5 at Thonon-les-Bains, a man of about 30, described as a "young Muslim," committed major acts of vandalism in the church of Saint-Hippolyte and in the adjacent basilica of Saint-François-de-Sales. He overturned and broke two altars, the candelabras and lecterns, destroyed statues, tore down a tabernacle, twisted a massive bronze cross, smashed in a sacristy door and even broke some stained-glass windows. (Click for images of the destruction caused in the church.)
Iraq: Soon after the unprecedented Christian exodus from Mosul, after the Islamic State told Christians to convert to Islam or die, a human rights organization went to northern Iraq to provide assistance and support to all displaced Christians. It reported that "around 45 churches in Mosul ... were destroyed and converted into mosques and centers for the Islamic State." According to Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako "This is a humanitarian disaster. The churches are occupied, their crosses were taken down," and up to 1,500 manuscripts, many ancient, were burnt.
Nigeria: According to Vatican Radio, "In Madagali, Boko Haram are said to have looted parish property, vandalized and then set alight buildings belonging to the church. Fr. Obasogie was not sure of the number of people killed or of other causalities in the Madagali attack but he says there are many. .... Christian Churches within Maiduguri Diocese have borne much of the brunt of the terrorist activities…According to Fr. Obasogie, all Christian churches on the major road linking Maiduguri and Adamawa state have been closed after several acts of terrorism at the hands of Boko Haram sects."
Muslim Attacks on Converts to Christianity
Iran: According to the Idaho wife of Iranian-American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years, her husband has received death threats from Sunni militants from the Islamic State, held in the same detention center: "He's already under threat because he is a convert to Christianity. Now we understand that ISIS members in the prison have said he is their number one target." The pastor is in the same ward but a separate section from the Islamic State adherents, his wife said, adding that he is afraid to leave his cell and join the general prison population in the yard for exercise. "I fear for his life," she said, adding that the couple's young children have submitted a video to President Barack Obama pleading with him to bring their father safely home. Separately, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, a former Muslim, is charged with enmity against Allah, a crime that can be punishable by death, while the fate of two other Christians arrested with him remains unknown. The pastor was arrested when intelligence agents stormed his home. They arrested the church leader along with Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir and Suroush Saraie, two other converts staying with him. The agents also seized Bibles, Christian booklets, and the pastor's personal computer. On August 3, after being interrogated for two hours, the pastor was charged with "Moharebeh," or "waging war against Allah," a capital offence in Iran. All three converts have been targeted by the authorities in the past, including for "evangelism" and "actions against public security."
Iranian-American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012, is pictured here with his family in happier times.
Kenya: Hussein Hassan Mohammed, 30, a Muslim convert to Christianity, tearfully recounted his experiences at the hands of Muslims at Mogotio King's Outreach Church, where he originally announced his conversion in April. He told of how he was beaten unconscious inside a mosque, how Islamic leaders had paid assassins to kill him, and how his own father tried to poison him to death (similar to the experiences of another Muslim convert to Christianity in Uganda, whose aunt tried to poison him). For a while, he was arrested and tortured because authorities refused to believe that he had really converted to Christianity (they thought he was an Islamic terrorist pretending to be Christian, which happens frequently). Then, while he was recuperating in hospital, he called his father, 72-year-old Hassan Mohammed, who came to visit him at the hospital:
"Are you serious about what you told me, that you had embraced the Christian faith?" his father asked, to which Hussein, replied, "Yes." According to the Christian convert:
"My father came with the food, but my conscience rejected the food. The doctors noticed that I was restless. I was told to eat the food, but I refused. The doctor tried to give the food to the cat, but it too refused to eat it, hence the food was taken to the laboratory, where it was found that it was a poisoned food."
Police guarding Mohammed arrested his father. Questioned about why he would want to kill his son, he told them, "My son has forsaken Islam as well as defiling our community by joining Christianity." Said Hussein: "I thought my father had come to help, but I realized that he had come to kill me." Still, when he was discharged from the hospital, Hussein pled for the release of his father. Mohammed said he had forgiven his father, and police released his father.
New Zealand: Friends of Khalid Muidh Alzahrani, a Muslim convert to Christianity known as Daniel, "fear the refugee has been abducted from his Christchurch flat and taken back to Saudi Arabia—home to the Islamic holy city of Mecca—where it is against the law for Muslims to abandon their faith." Daniel arrived in Christchurch about five years ago on a Saudi government scholarship to study English, eventually converted to Christianity and applied for asylum. He was granted refugee status on the grounds that he would be persecuted in Saudi Arabia, and told friends he was terrified he would be kidnapped and forced to return. The Saudi ambassador to New Zealand said that Daniel had "insisted" on returning home to visit his mother and the consulate had paid for his air ticket. But, according to National,
[H]is friends don't believe it—they say he was last seen in the company of two strange Arab men and believe he was taken out of the country under duress, possibly by agents of the state or family members....
There have been numerous documented cases of Saudi nationals being uplifted from foreign countries. In 2012, columnist Hamza Kashgari, who'd been accused of insulting the prophet Mohammad on Twitter, tried to seek asylum in New Zealand but was intercepted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, sent home and jailed without trial.
In May last year, a young Saudi Christian who had arrived in Auckland two months earlier and claimed asylum was snatched off the street by three men just three days before his refugee interview and was flown back to Saudi Arabia, where it is believed he spent time in prison and was tortured. His lawyer, Roger Chambers, said the man had managed to secretly make contact with his friends in Auckland.
"He has had a dreadful time in Saudi Arabia," Chambers said. "[He was told] more than once if he did not renounce his Christianity that he could expect to be beheaded."
Yemen: Muslim relatives of a woman who converted to Christianity placed gasoline in one of her kitchen bottles, which caused her to catch fire while cooking breakfast for her family; eventually she died from the burns. Morning Star News reports:
In southern Yemen, Saeed woke to the sound of screaming. He shot out of bed, pushed panicked family members aside and saw his wife stumbling out of their kitchen, engulfed in flames. His wife, Nazeera, had been preparing breakfast at about 9 a.m. when she poured liquid from a cooking oil bottle into a hot pan. The liquid flashed, and the bottle exploded. While her four children watched, screaming, Nazeera was being burned alive. "I rushed out of the room," Saeed (full name undisclosed for security reasons) told Morning Star News, weeping. "I couldn't even speak to ask her what happened. All I could think about was putting the fire out and then getting her to the hospital. But my 16-year-old son, he couldn't stop himself and held on to her, hugging her while she was burning. He got hurt, and I had to pull him away from her." About two weeks later, Nazeera, 33, died as a result of her burns. When Saeed returned to his home in a village (undisclosed for security reasons) after her death, a relative told him the unthinkable—members of both his family and hers had taken the vegetable oil out of the bottle and replaced it with gasoline. Saeed knew the reason—many years ago, the two had become Christians and refused to return to Islam.
Dhimmitude: Islamic Discrimination Against Christianity
Libya: Roaming bands of armed Islamic militants went door to door in Tripoli's jewelry stores. They ordered the owners to stop selling any crosses or Christian icons. "Immediately thereafter," report Arabic media, "the store owners collected all the crosses and Christian icons and delivered them to their Christian villages outside of Tripoli. Other store owners hid the Christian crosses and icons deeply, in the hopes of transferring them somewhere later, because they live in Tripoli and have no outside Christian villages to deliver the banned Christian items to."
United Kingdom: Yasmin Jackson, a 24-year-old Christian mother, claims staff at Kingswood Daycare Nursery in Mitcham, south London "starved" her five-year-old daughter because her packed food was not halal—that is, prepared according to Islamic custom. According to the Daily Mail, Ms Jackson, a single mother and former nursery worker, said, "When I picked her up at the end of the day the first thing she said to me was, 'mummy I'm really hungry, can I have my lunch now?'" The mother went to speak with the manager. When she asked why her daughter was not allowed to eat her packed lunch, the manager said "We didn't know if it's halal." The mother responded, "We are a Christian family and it was a chicken sandwich," to which the manager said, "We don't allow any non-halal meat in the nursery."
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.
Raymond Ibrahim is 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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