Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Germany: According to a November 11 report in The European, approximately 200 churches have been attacked and desecrated in the Alps and Bavarian regions alone. Large summit crosses atop mountains have also been felled and destroyed by axes and saws. "Young Islamists" are believed to be behind the widespread vandalism.
Philippines: Supporters of an Islamic militant group desecrated and tried to torch a Catholic chapel in the Mindanao region on Friday evening, November 10. According to the report, Archbishop Quevedo said "This criminal act is an abhorrent desecration of a place of Catholic worship." The Muslim governor, Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao insisted the act had nothing to do with Islam: "Islam teaches respect for religions and worship sites. Islam teaches religious tolerance. We have a principle in our religion that says there is no compulsion in religion." (He neglected, however, to add that some Muslim scholars claim this sura, 2:256, has been abrogated.)
Similar incidents occurred in May 2017, when "Islamic State-inspired gunmen burned the St. Mary's Cathedral in Marawi," notes the report; and in June 2017, Muslim militants "also desecrated a chapel in the neighboring province of North Cotabato."
Egypt: As in the previous month of October, when Muslim mob riots and attacks on churches prompted authorities to close at least four churches, the Pope Kerlis VI and Archdeacon Habib Gerges church continued to be threatened and was eventually shut down. On November 16, "workers from the national electricity company reportedly tried to cut the church building's power," says a report. "Coptic priests and youths stopped them before they cut the main power cable," and Christians refused to leave the church building and spent the night inside it..." On the following day, the local Muslim governor warned the local bishop to close the church down, as terror attacks against it were imminent. The bishop obliged.
Algeria: On November 9, authorities shut down another church as well as a Christian book store. According to the report, "police raided the bookshop, accusing its owner of illegally printing Bibles and evangelistic brochures. They confiscated books and equipment but returned them when no proof of the allegations was found. Despite that, police issued and implemented a closure order for both the church and the bookshop. The order, which wrongly identifies the bookshop owner as the pastor of the church, repeated the earlier accusations and also alleges that he uses his private car to distribute illegal Christian material. The closure order also claims the Ain Turk church is illegal, despite its affiliation with the officially recognized EPA (L'Église Protestante d'Algérie). Churches in Algeria faced long-standing legal difficulties. Permission is required before a building can be used for non-Muslim worship, however authorities have always failed to grant such permission to churches."
Nigeria: A decade after Muslims attacked, slaughtered, and displaced Christians in a northern town—and then destroyed their churches—authorities continue to forbid returned Christians from rebuilding their eight destroyed (Catholic and Protestant) churches because local Muslims reject it. "Christians who have braved it and returned after the attacks in 2007 have no worship buildings up to today," explained a local Christian, because "the government of Kano state has banned us from rebuilding our churches." In such a "hostile environment, the few Christians there continue to "conduct services under trees." Even when asked where such-and-such church meets and worships, officials often respond by saying, "Do you see that tree over there? That's where the ... church is." The original 2007 attacks were sparked by false accusations of "blasphemy" against a Christian high school student (he supposedly drew a cartoon of Muhammad): "The Muslim students attacked Christian students, and soon they were joined by Muslims in this town. All eight churches were destroyed, Christians were displaced, and many Christians were also killed. I personally saw three corpses of members of the St. Mary's Catholic Church who were killed by the Muslim attackers."
Muslim Hate for and Abuse of Christians
Syria: Rita Habib Ayyub, an Assyrian Christian woman sexually enslaved by ISIS and other Muslims for over three years until rescued by the Syrian Democratic Forces, shared her experiences in an interview:
My name is Rita. The terrorists changed my name to Maria [indicating her Christian identity]. I am 30 years old. In the hospital in Mosul, we women were subjected to the most degrading abuse. Three children from my people were with me, and I witnessed them being sold to emirs in Mosul. I was sold to Abu Mus'ab al-Iraqi. In his home, there was also a Yazidi girl from Sinjar named Shata...she was only 14 years old. He raped the both of us over and over again. He made us watch videos with terrorists slaughtering non-Muslims. In one of them, they were beheading Shata's brother.... After six months, Abu Mus'ab sold me to another terrorist, and I was transported to Raqqa, Syria. But he did not keep me...he sold me to a third terrorist, a Saudi named Abu Khalid al-Saudi. Abu Khalid was married to a woman from Morocco. I was beaten and tortured by her every day. She would not give up until I was bleeding, from my head, for example. They made me read the Quran and threatened to kill me if I did not convert to Islam.
Months later she was sold again, transported to several regions between Iraq and Syria, until she was taken near Deir ez-Zur, where she was eventually rescued.
Nigeria: A comprehensive report—riddled with accounts of abduction, rape, sadistic torture, murder, and wholesale massacres—substantiates its charge that Muslim Fulani herdsmen are engaged in the "ethnic cleansing" of Christians. In one case, "A 13 year old girl was gang-raped and abandoned in the bush for hours before local vigilante group came to her rescue." In another, "A 10 year old boy" was "whipped severely with different sizes of cane and was abandoned in a shallow pit." One of the more telling portions of the report follows:
Some of the tactics used by the Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen include abduction, rape and other forms of assault on women and children. Another strategy used by the Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen ... is the disemboweling of pregnant women, to ensure that both mother and baby are killed. On the few occasions, when men are captured ... their limbs are cut off and they are then shot in the presence of their family. Sometimes, the family members are made to run and are then shot at; those lucky enough to escape the bullets are pursued. What lends credence to the perceived complicity of stakeholders from the Muslim north, is the silence and inaction of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the face of the massive atrocities committed against indigenous Christian communities in Benue State.
The authors of the report conclude that the data presented "gives clear indications of ethnic cleansing based on religious affiliation."
Philippines: New documents and reports made clear that, contrary to some initial reports, the Islamist siege of Marawi last summer, which included the slaughter of at least 25 Christians, was fundamentally fueled by an anti-Christian bias. According to Amnesty International,
The civilian victims were nearly all Christians, and most – if not all – were targeted because they were not Muslim. Militants often gave civilians a de facto religious test prior to killing them; they were asked to recite the Shahada, which is an expression of Muslim faith, or to respond to Muslim greetings. Civilians who did not recite the Shahada or failed to respond appropriately were often summarily executed.
Pictured: A building burns in the city of Marawi, Philippines on June 15, 2017, as the Philippines military battles Islamist terrorists for control of the city. At least 25 Christians were slaughtered in the city during an Islamist siege last summer, and "Islamic State-inspired gunmen burned the St. Mary's Cathedral." (Image source: Mark Jhomel/Wikimedia Commons)
Egypt: The Wafa Media Foundation, a jihadi propaganda network affiliated to the Islamic State issued a message aimed at inciting the nation's Muslims to rise against Christians and their churches. Agenzia Fides summarized the message contained in a dossier as follows: "Coptic Christians in Egypt do not accept the condition of submission imposed on Christians in Islamic societies: they continue to build churches and even promote television networks to spread the Christian proclamation. This is why they must be attacked as 'infidel fighters,' and their churches must be blown up." The Catholic report concludes by noting that "In 2017 alone, Jihadist terrorism committed three massacres regarding Coptic Christians, as well as several murders. On April 9, Palms Sunday, attacks were carried out on two Coptic churches ... causing 45 deaths and more than 130 wounded. On May 26, a terrorist assault against a coach of pilgrims in the governorate of Minya caused the death of 28 Copts."
Separately, Rasha Magdi , a non-veiled, Western-looking Egyptian female television news host inadvertently showed just how ingrained contempt for Egypt's Christians is among the general populace, when she went off script during her show and suggested that Islamic terror attacks against Christians are understandable whereas those against Muslims are not: "These radical groups have attacked a number of churches and we said, 'Ah, they see it as a religion other than the religion of Islam, and an enemy to them,' and we said, 'Fine'—but [to kill] Muslims, how?!" Magdi said. Due to the outrage her comments provoked, the owner of Sada al-Balad Media Group suspended Magdi and issued the following statement: "We in Egypt are one people, there is no difference between a Muslim and a Christian. All of us are equal. We live together in safety. [...] terrorism and aggression against the [people] are criminal acts." That is not the first time this secular looking but radicalized woman incited against Christians. "When Magdi worked for the state television network, several legal cases were filed against her for inciting hatred against Egypt's Coptic Christians," says a report, "particularly regarding the killing by the Egyptian army of more than 25 Christians during what has become known as the Maspero massacre."
Pakistan: The father of Sharoon Masih, a Christian teenager who a month earlier was beaten to death by a group of Muslim classmates during school for being a "filthy Christian" spoke out after police and local authorities, supported by various Pakistani media, said the case was isolated and had nothing to do with the slain 17-year-old's Christian faith:
"My younger children are frightened and are bullied in their schools, since their brother died they have all expressed that they do not want to go to school .... Speaking up about bullying and harassment in the schools in Pakistan brings about absolutely no change. Our Government presents no help and obstructs it in fact by building teaching material that target minorities."
A local Christian councilor, Pervaiz Masih, confirmed the grieving father's contentions:
"It is totally true that the other Christian children have suffered discrimination, as a local Councillor I recently resolved a similar issue when a Christian boy in BTM school in Burewala was beaten because he refused to convert to Islam. The boys who attacked the Christian boy were suspended for a few days but then resumed their attacks as soon as they returned to school. I suffered the same when I was at school, nothing changes despite the efforts of Christian leaders who often highlight these concerns. This is one of the many reasons Christians fail to excel in education."
United Nations and United Kingdom: Critics accused the United Nations in general and the British government in particular of continuing to discriminate against Christian refugees in favor of Muslim refugees from Syria. Barnabas Fund said it had "finally obtained figures proving that the UN has only recommended tiny token numbers of Syrian Christians ... for resettlement in the UK," whereas the "overwhelming majority of refugees recommended by the UN have been Sunni Muslims who form the majority in Syria. But Christians, and other minorities, have been repeatedly targeted for attack by Islamist groups such as IS." The new statistics, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request to the UK's Home Office revealed:
In 2015 out of 2,637 refugees there were only 43 Christians, just 13 Yazidis and only one Shia Muslim. In 2016 the statistics were even worse. Out of 7,499 refugees there were only 27 Christians, five Yazidis and 13, Shia Muslims. It is widely accepted that Christians made up 10 per cent of Syria's pre-war population... Disturbingly, UK officials tried to prevent the release of this information.
The rest of the report accuses officials of going to great lengths not to provide the information, which they were "legally required to release"; they "repeatedly stalled or simply did not answer correspondence" until a formal complaint caused them to comply: "Even then, the information was only released at the very last minute..."
Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom
Kenya: A group of Muslims attacked and seriously injured a Christian widow's three children—aged 13, 17 and 21—on the charge that the family had apostatized from Islam. According to the report, "Hadiya (surname withheld), an immigrant from Somalia, had not yet returned from a trip to a funeral when the assailants of Somali descent broke into her home at a town (undisclosed for security reasons) outside of Nairobi, at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 17." Her children were still asleep when the Muslim gang began knocking on the door. When the brothers inquired who it was, they smashed a window. "We have warned you several times to stop taking the children to church," a voice shouted. "You have become an embarrassment to our clan as well as the entire Muslim community. We are here today to finish you and your children." Then the Muslims stormed the house and beat the three siblings, "so much that blood was found throughout the front room," notes the report. Neighbors intervened in time to save the children's lives; two of the three were so wounded as to require a four day hospital stay and were last reported as being "in continuous pain." According to the report, "Somalis generally believe all Somalis are Muslims by birth and that consequently any Somali who becomes a Christian can be charged with apostasy, punishable by death." The Christian widow says, "We are living in great fear and experience sleepless nights. It is not safe for us to stay in this particular place. We need prayers and financial help at this difficult moment."
A separate report chronicles the trials and tribulations that Muslim converts to Christianity—in this case, in Kenya.—experience. Rahma, a young Muslim girl, raised in strict Muslim households, continuously doubted the things she was taught, and on some occasions was abused by family members, particularly her father and an aunt (her mother died early on). "Islam was a yoke to my heart. I felt as if I was forced to believe in things that were a heavy burden to carry." She began to sneak out and attend church services: "My desire to become a Christian was gaining momentum as well as having a very strong dislike for Islam, but I wanted to know exactly what Christianity is all about and who could understand me and help me change my faith." She eventually secured a Bible and began reading it. One night, while "I was deep in reading and meditation," her aunt came into her bedroom "and found me doing my devotion. She was so mad at me and asked me when I started bringing Bibles into her house. I gathered my courage and told her that I had given my life to Christ. She was struck by a hard reality and shock, and everybody in the house was awakened to come and hear what I just said. I reiterated that I had given my life to Christ...." The report concludes, "At the time of ICC's interview, Rahma  has been completely rejected by her family. They do not want to be associated with her because she is seen as a disgrace to their community. According to Sharia law, she is now an apostate. Her family took Rahma's possessions including her telephone, clothes and shoes," though she shows little regret: "It's as if a load has been lifted off my back... [even though] my conversion to Christianity has made my family view me as a kafir (infidel) and they have chased me out of the house."
Uganda: A Muslim man who had been posing as a Christian teacher at a Christian elementary school attacked the school director and terrorized students after he was exposed. Mugooda Siraji, the Muslim, had earlier lied to the board by giving them a false name and saying he was Christian. After being hired as a teacher, "Siraji came to our class and openly said he was a Muslim, and that his real name was Mugooda Siraji and not Simon Siraji," a fourth-grade child told a school official. "He has been introducing to us Islamic ablution and how to be a true Muslim by believing in Allah and Muhammad." The board responded by asking him to take a leave of absence: "We as the board learned that you did not provide to us the right profile of yourself, and that you have been propagating Islamic religion, which is against the school's principles, which are based on Christian foundations. Therefore, the school administration recommends that you step aside as we carry on further investigations." The report continues:
Siraji forced his way into the office shouting "Allah Akbar" and hit Muwanguzi with a blunt object, Kakonge said. "Muwanguzi suffered face and right hand injuries, with serious bleeding from the face," Kakonge said. Teachers managed to overpower Siraji, but he managed to escape, sources said.
Siraji is one of many local Muslims trying "to form a strategy of how to stop activities on the Christian school and terminate it. The school has an enrollment of 162 children." "The Muslims have complained that the school every evening makes noise in praising, worshiping and praying," Kakonge said. "We need prayers at this trying moment for quick recovery for our school director, and that this criminal act will be brought to book."
Mauritania: "Showing repentance will no longer prevent the death penalty from being applied for blasphemy and apostasy, Mauritania said on Friday [November 17], as the conservative Muslim nation hardens up its religious laws," is how a report explained the west African nation's announcement that it is introducing a new bill that would "harden up expected sentences for blasphemers": "Every Muslim, man or woman, who mocks or insults Mohammed (peace be upon him), his angels, books," the Ministry of Justice statement reads, "is liable to face the death penalty, without being asked to repent. They will incur the death penalty even if they repent." Because Mauritania is 99 percent Muslim, critics suggest that the new law is meant to target those Muslims who are rethinking their Islam or considering conversion to Christianity (which accounts for the remaining one of the nation). "Although Mauritania's Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and thought," notes a separate report, "in practice this is not guaranteed and prosecutors have appealed the court's decision."
Germany: "After several reports showed that Christians were being systematically persecuted in German asylum homes," says a report, "the problem has now moved from the homes to the streets," where growing numbers of Christians, especially those from Muslim backgrounds ("apostates") have been attacked and in one notable instance (in May 2017) killed. Observers, such as Rosemarie Götze (AKA Sister Rosemarie) say the problem is much more worse than previously thought, particularly as many of those who are attacked never report it because they "are afraid that they will continue to be attacked or that families who are still abroad may learn that they have become Christians" with dire repercussions for loved ones.
Christian "Blasphemers" in Muslim Pakistan
Muslim threats prompted five Christian families to abandon and flee their homes after an 18-year-old youth among them was falsely accused of, and portrayed as, engaging in blasphemy against Islam. The perpetrators had created a fake Facebook page attributed to the youth and with a picture of him, prompting the Muslims in the area to call for his and his family's death. According to the report, however, police said "there was no proof of the Christian boy named Arshad had submitted any blasphemy whatsoever. It was a phony campaign." A Christian counselor involved in the case said that "he had no clue where were the Christian families who had fled the area to save their lives and what conditions they are in. He additionally had no idea of why Arshad Masih was being encircled for this case."
Separately, on the same day of his son's funeral, another Christian man suffering from mental illness was arrested on the charge that he had blasphemed against Islam. Whenever he failed to take his medicine Iqbal Masih, 65, a retired father of nine was known to "go out into the street and shout abuse at passers-by" or suddenly "start calling names in the middle of the night," say locals. That is what he did when his young son, Bobby, died of illness. "Bobby's body was at home and people from the neighbourhood were visiting to pay their condolences when Iqbal started shouting abuse, after which the women left his home," said a man involved in the case. "Iqbal then recited the kalima [or shahada, Islamic declaration of faith] and shouted abuse. Realising that he was not behaving normally, the police were called to take him away so that tension between Christians and Muslims of the area might not arise." Local clerics and others, however, were initially unsatisfied with this approach: "Some of them," notes the report, "wanted to set him on fire, but other sensible people suggested that Masih be handed over to the police as he was experiencing a mental health crisis."
In addition to those events, Mukhtar Masih, a 70-year-old Christian man accused of blasphemy, died of gastro-internal bleeding before his trial. He was originally arrested in January 2017, after a "blasphemous" letter was found pinned on the door of a local mosque. "Mukhtar insisted he was innocent of the crime and expressed that any language expert could recognize that the writing on the letter was not his," says the report. "Moreover he also maintained that no Christian in Pakistan would be foolish enough to take such a risk with his life." The accusations are believed to have been concocted as a way to appropriate his property. A spokesman for the deceased said, "we were extremely confident that Mukhtar would be exonerated and that his reputation would once again become unsullied. His distraught family have expressed great disappointment that Mukhtar Masih died with charges of blasphemy over his head. We are challenging our local MP's to call for a posthumous exoneration for a man who did not commit any crime. Mukhtar's only offence was the hurt he apparently caused to Muslims for adhering to the Christian faith."
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by Muslims is growing. The report posits that such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.
Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (published by Regnery with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).
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