On May 30, Egyptian authorities seized land belonging to the ancient Coptic Monastery of Saint Macarius (pictured), originally founded in 360 CE — nearly 300 years before Islam invaded and conquered Egypt in the seventh century. Authorities arrived with bulldozers and police at the monastery in the deserts of Wadi al-Rayan in Fayum and demolished a fence of the annex-farm and other structures — including a church — that had been erected by the monks living there. Several monks who protested, or who tried to prevent this state-sanctioned destruction, were arrested. (Image source: Faris knight/Wikimedia Commons)
The following are among the abuses inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of June 2021:
The Rape, Forced Conversion, and Child Marriage of Christians
A Muslim father of four abducted a 13-year-old Christian girl, forced her to convert to Islam, and then "married" her. According to the father of Nayab Gill, when the beauty school she was attending shut down due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Saddam Hayat, a local Muslim who ran his own beauty shop, "told me that rather than wasting time, Nayab should learn salon skills to help her in supporting the family financially. He even offered to pick her up from home and drop her off after work, assuring us that she was just like his daughter."
Hayat had also promised to pay the girl Rs.10,000 (US $63) per month for her services, but stopped paying her after a couple of months. When the girl went missing on May 20, her frantic parents turned to Hayat, who claimed not to know where she was, and kindly offered to help them find her. He even instructed Nayab's simple and trusting mother to fill out the missing person's report in a way that did not implicate him.
"On May 26, we were informed by the police that Nayab was in the Darul Aman [women's shelter] since May 21," her father continued. "In an application submitted to a magistrate's court, Nayab claimed she had willfully converted to Islam a month ago ..."
According to this application, Nayab also claimed to be 19-years-old, and on May 20 an Islamic marriage certificate had been registered claiming she had married Hayat. The same day, the family managed to meet with Nayab at the women's shelter. She told her grandmother that she wanted to go home and was willing to sign anything to do so. At that point, her "husband" and the police — having been notified by a shelter staffer that Nayab was in direct contact with her family — barged in and forcibly separated them. The following day, a visibly battered Nayab appeared before court and reaffirmed that she was 19 years old and had converted to Islam of her own free will. "Our lawyer did not show up at the hearing, so my wife and I directly approached the judge and presented all official documents to prove that my daughter was born on Oct. 16, 2007, which makes her 13 years and seven months old," her father said.
"We told the judge that she was lying about her age under duress. She had bruises on her face, and her eyes were also red, which should have caught the judge's attention, but he ignored it.... [In the end] Judge Jameel relied solely on Nayab's statements made under obvious threat, rather than official documents, and failed to order an ossification test to determine her age.... My mother [the girl's grandmother] collapsed in the courtroom as soon as the judge gave his order, and while we were attending to her, the police quietly spirited Nayab away."
In a separate incident, a group of Muslims abducted a Christian teenager, drugged, held him captive for five days, and repeatedly raped and tortured him before dumping him in a desolate region. Danish Masih, 17, vanished on June 6. Although his father immediately reported his son's disappearance to police, they showed no interest and failed to look for him. Discussing this incident, a local human rights activist said, "As Christians we are a minority and we are alone. For us there is no justice and no equal rights." No one has been arrested. According to the report, "Danish's is not an isolated case. Violence against Christians in Pakistan is commonplace," and includes a "rising number of abductions, child sexual abuses, forced conversions and forced marriages."
In another incident, a young Christian woman was beaten and raped in her home for refusing to convert to Islam and marry her rapist. Neelam Masih shared her experiences in a June 7 report. She was home alone when Faisal Basra "entered my home at gunpoint."
"[He] dragged me to my bedroom and began to punch and kick me. He threw me on the bed and started to rape me. He demanded I marry him and convert to Islam. I refused. I am not willing to deny Jesus and he said that if I would not agree he would kill me. He hit me on the face with his pistol and I shouted and screamed and tried to escape but he kept pulling me back, dragging me by my hair."
Eventually Neelam's neighbor heard her cries and came rushing to the house, at which point the rapist fled into the night. Neelam, who is studying for a Master of Philosophy degree, said that as the only educated Christian woman in her village, she is committed to speaking out against oppression and abuse, despite "reports that friends and family" of the Muslim rapist "are trying to hunt her down and kill her for standing up to him."
"I want the world to know what happened to me... I am determined to struggle for my faith, my life and my community.... My family is very poor. My mother has two jobs as a sweeper and has done everything she can for my education and it is very important that I stand up for my community."
"Neelam is a very brave woman," said her lawyer, adding that it is "very unusual" for rape victims to go public in Pakistan.
"Struggling against this man has taken great courage.... Most girls feel ashamed and submit to the demands of the attacker. They don't want to tell anyone. They are usually easily threatened. But Neelam remains faithful to Jesus and is determined to tell her story to bring an end to attacks on Christian girls and young women."
In still another incident, a group of Muslim men led by one Muhammad Akbar — a man known to have kidnapped Christian women before — abducted a Christian mother of five. She spent more than 20 days in captivity, drugged, raped, and beaten. Discussing her ordeal, her husband said during an interview between tears:
"We are poor and Christian therefore the police are not taking any action against the abductor, and because he has heavily bribed the police. But I want justice for my wife. I want all the kidnappers arrested and punished for their crimes so they can stop kidnapping more Christian women."
Finally, according to a June 24 report, a "Muslim doctor forcefully converted a 13-year-old Christian girl to Islam," so she could "work in their family kitchen." The doctor was initially looking to employ two girls in his house. An impoverished Christian family with eight children sent two of their daughters, aged 13 and 11, to work there. The agreement was that they would be paid Rs.10,000 per month (US $63); and although this was a live-in job, the girls' family could visit them. At the end of the month, however, Dr. Altaf only paid them Rs.3,000 (US $19). The poor family had no choice but to accept it, but matters soon worsened. According to the report:
"Neha and Sneha worked there for four years, during this time they started complaining about mistreatment by the family, who would swear at them and even physically assault them. The girls were being treated like slaves and were hardly allowed to meet their parents. They told the family that they wanted to go back home and live with their family, but Dr Altaf did not allow them to leave.
"Both girls were missing their family. Sneha [aged 11] fell ill and wasn't any help to Dr Altaf's family therefore they agreed to send her back to her parents, but they were not willing to return Neha [aged 13].
"Masih requested that Dr Altaf return his oldest daughter too as he was not willing to leave his daughter behind, but Dr Altaf told him that Neha had embraced Islam therefore she could not live with him.
"It was a shocking revelation for Masih and [he] refused to accept it. Dr Altaf explained that since they were Muslims, it was not possible for them to allow any non-Muslim to enter the kitchen and touch their food items and kitchen utensils.
"Dr Altaf dropped another bombshell on Masih, telling him they had mistakenly overpaid him, 275,000 (US $1,750) and until you pay it back, he won't be able to get his daughter back."
"Perhaps Pakistan is the only country where such crimes are happening on a daily basis under the cover of Islam," said one human rights activist while discussing this incident.
"It cannot be justified at any cost that a young girl was converted to Islam against her will and without her parents' knowledge and now she cannot be returned to her parents because her parents are Christians."
Uganda: Death and Destruction for Christians
On June 11, a Muslim imam slaughtered a 70-year-old Christian pastor. Pentecostal bishop Francis Obo was killed after a group of Muslims stopped him and his wife as they were returning home in the evening after grocery shopping. The slain man's wife, Christine, said the men had accused him of being an "infidel" who causes Muslims to leave Islam and that, accordingly, "Today Allah has judged you." One of the assailants told her to go away because "Today, it is a day for your husband," she said. "As I moved a few meters in a hurry trying to save my life, I heard a little noise and wailing from my husband and realized that his life was in danger." She ran home, "trembling and unable to speak, and her children took her to a hospital where she was treated for shock." In the early morning, when she told her eldest son what had happened, he and other siblings went to search for their father where she had last seen him. "Reaching there, they were shocked and fearful as they found a big number of Christians and relatives gathered around the dead body mourning their bishop after being murdered by Muslims," she said.
Police arrested suspect Imam Uthman Olingha, for having blood splattered on his clothes, as well as another Muslim. An officer later told the family that "Olingha openly confessed that he can't regret that he killed the bishop because he did it in the cause of Allah's word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims." The murderer added that "Allah will be with him in jail, but the kafiri [infidels] deserved the killing." Bishop Francis is survived by his wife Christine and 13 children. He oversaw 17 churches in the area and was active is spreading the Gospel among Muslims — the reason he was targeted.
In a separate incident, the Muslim employer of Fred Isiko, a Christian evangelist, had him killed by assassins. Earlier, Isiko had recorded his boss, Ashirafu Kasenyi, a Muslim sheikh who was pressuring him to convert: "You need to convert to Islam if you are to remain as my employee," Kasenyi said in a May 7 recording. Isiko replied, "I am not going to leave Jesus Christ; better to resign than leave Christianity." On the day he was killed, Kasenyi had sent Isiko to fetch supplies from the local market. Isiko's Christian friend, Francis, explained what happened next:
"As we were about to reach the trading center, three people stopped us. They said that they have some information for Fred. So I moved at a distance, and immediately one of them removed a long knife and cut his neck as I fled for my life and reported the incident at Kagumu police post."
Police later confirmed that their suspect confessed that the Muslim employer had hired him for the killing.
In yet a further occurrence, the Muslim relatives of a recent convert to Christianity burned down his family home. After Louis Levi Baula, 46, had taken his 3-year-old son, who suffered from seizures, to the local imam several times, and paid him for prayers of healing, nothing had changed. So he took him to a nearby Christian church where, Baula and his wife Sifah Ainekisha said, prayers, healed their son. Ainekisha said:
"We went back home but did not tell anyone, except I shared with my mother-in-law about the prayers in church that made my child well, and that we were planning to go back to the church the following Sunday. She kept quiet."
The next Sunday, after the family had attended the religious service and thanked the church for the prayers that healed their son, when they returned home, they found more than 20 Muslim relatives gathered there. When the family began questioning them, one got extremely animated and began crying "Allahu Akbar." "We thought that they were going to kill us," Baula said, "but they only warned us not to attend the church, and the meeting ended."
The family at first stopped going to church, but then attended again. On returning home that Sunday, they found three of their goats missing. "A [Muslim] relative named Hamisi told me that Allah had taken the goats," Baula said. "I was scared by that statement and came back and told my wife." She insisted that they and their three children, ages 3, 6, and 10, relocate.
"As we were thinking of where to go, at around 9 p.m. we heard hens making a lot of noise in the kitchen, and when I came out, I saw smoke and flames going up the roof, and I went back and told my wife that we are dying. We picked up our children and went out very fast, and within a short period my brothers, sisters and Muslim neighbors together with an imam arrived. The imam recited the Koran, and then later told my brothers to start destroying the house."
They watched helplessly as their Muslim relatives and the fire destroyed their home, property, and livestock. According to Baula:
"The imam told us that from today we were no longer one of the family members, that we were kafir [infidels] and that we should leave the homestead immediately to go and look for other infidels. He added that had it not been the law of our state, we would face death, but 'go out of here since you have disobeyed Allah and his messenger.'"
The family fled with nothing and, as of the last report, took refuge in another Christian's home.
More Christian Slaughter in Africa
Mozambique: As the southeastern African nation continues to fight off the Islamic State and other terrorists — nearly a million people have been displaced since 2017 and thousands slaughtered — in a June 28 report, Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs USA explained how the terrorists mostly target Christians:
"They say their goal is to set up a caliphate similar to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And they are in some cases, literally going door to door. They ask, 'Are you a Christian? Or are you a Muslim?' If you're a Christian, you're killed. If you're a Muslim, then you get the opportunity to quote some Quranic verses. And if you can quote them sufficiently, you save your life. Otherwise, you also get killed [sometimes by crucifixion]."
In another report on Mozambique from June 23, Amy Lamb of Open Doors said,
"Because of [the rise in Christianity], we're seeing jihadist groups including those who are affiliated with the Islamic state, with al Shabab, with Boko Haram, al Qaeda.... [They are] organizing together in order to expand their territories throughout the African continent, and their goal is really to eradicate Christianity from this territory and, unfortunately, in some ways, it's working. Even specifically from this northern part of Mozambique, an estimated 800,000 people have fled the region, and those who remain, including women, children, families, are facing starvation even if they're spared from ... violence."
Nigeria: Among several lethal attacks on Christians, which claimed at least 17 Christian lives, Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot to death Precious Emeka Chinedu, a Christian doctor, on June 17 in Niger State. Five Muslims entered the hospital he worked in, seized and left with him, and then killed him and left his body in the bush. Discussing this incident, the doctor's colleague, Baridueh Badon, said:
"His killers, who are herdsmen, came to the hospital, specifically asked for him, didn't harm anybody, collected his money, took him away, and killed him without asking for ransom. What did he do wrong? Your blood will keep crying until justice is done.... Everyone loved him, always smiling, and he was one of the most hard-working persons I have ever known. His hospital boomed because he was saving lives. If you had any problems, Emeka would be there to help."
Attacks on Churches
Democratic Republic of Congo: On Sunday, June 27, a makeshift bomb placed in the first row behind the altar exploded inside a Catholic church in Beni, leaving at least two injured. One of the injured women, Antoinette Kavira, said from her hospital bed:
"I had just entered the church, I hadn't even managed to sit down, I heard 'Boom'... Blood started flowing from my mouth. I lost four teeth and was injured in the arms."
The blast occurred shortly before the start of a confirmation ceremony. "They were targeting a large crowd because the ceremony would bring together children, their parents and the faithful," said a church official. The Allied Democratic Forces, a terrorist group connected to the Islamic State, is believed to be responsible for the attack. While discussing this latest attack, local Bishop Paluku shed light on the devastation committed by the Islamic terrorists:
"Armed groups are destroying schools and hospitals. Teachers and pupils are being killed. They are even killing the sick as they lie in their hospital beds. Not a day goes by without people being killed... We need centers where people can go for therapy. Many people are traumatized... A large-scale project is underway to Islamize or expel the indigenous populations. Anyone who has been kidnapped by these terrorist groups and managed to escape from them alive has told the same story. They were given the choice between death and converting to Islam."
Indonesia: In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 27, a Protestant church was vandalized and then set on fire in the world's most populous Muslim nation. The blaze was put out before it could do extensive damage. Although evidence indicates that the arsonist acted purposefully — he first broke the church's windows, vandalized the interior, and then torched the exterior, all under the helpful cover of darkness — police concluded that the suspect was mentally disabled. The description prompted some critics to say that the incident was being "played down."
Separately, police arrested "11 suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting attacks at several Christian churches in easternmost Papua province." According to a May 31 report:
"The arrests led police to another suspect who was detained Sunday, and led them to seize items from various locations including chemicals for explosives, modified air guns able to fire real bullets, jihadist books and documents on planned attacks."
Those arrested are members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and has carried out a series of suicide bombings in Indonesia, including the bombing of a cathedral during Palm Sunday mass in March 2021 in Makassar, in which 20 were seriously wounded.
Finally, on June 19, ten Muslim schoolchildren, between the ages of 5 and 12, vandalized and desecrated a Christian cemetery by breaking the crosses off a dozen gravestones. After inspecting the damage done, the mayor of Solo laid the blame on the Islamic madrasa the children attend, and its teachers, "because they are teaching intolerance to their students." He even urged police to prosecute the teachers and punish the students despite their being children. "Their actions were a gross act of intolerance."
Pakistan: According to a June 22 report, a group of armed Muslim men attacked Harvest Church in the Punjab province. They broke in, shooting their guns in the air and severely beating the watchman. Several other Christians, men and women participating in evening prayers, were also hurt and hospitalized.
Egypt: Authorities seized land belonging to an ancient Coptic monastery, originally founded in 360 CE — nearly 300 years before Islam invaded and conquered Egypt in the seventh century. On May 30, authorities arrived with bulldozers and police at the Monastery of Saint Macarius in the deserts of Wadi al-Rayan in Fayum and demolished a fence of the annex-farm and other structures — including a church — that had been erected by the monks living there. Several monks who protested, or who tried to prevent this state-sanctioned destruction, were arrested but shortly thereafter released. The reason given for this takeover was that the monastery had been unable to pay the exorbitant levies that the government imposed on it a few years ago, in large measure due to the many government-enforced Covid-19 restrictions, such as on tourism, which would have helped keep the ancient monastery afloat. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organization, said:
"Whilst we recognise the right of the government to collect the agreed taxes, we also recognise that this monastery has been on this site for centuries and that the rental levies are a relatively recent expense in its historic existence. We encourage ... a just settlement in this matter, including a reappraisal of the rent that the monastery is required to pay, which is a considerable financial burden even outside the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted livelihoods in Egypt and across the world."
It is not the first time that the Egyptian government has harassed the ancient Christian monasteries scattered in the deserts of Egypt — including St. Macarius. In 2015, the government initiated a project in Fayum to build a road that threatened to destroy ancient heritage sites connected to the Monastery of St. Macarius.
In the end, the monks had no choice but to lay their bodies down before the path of the bulldozers, which arrived to the accompaniment of triumphant cries of "Allahu Akbar" from the drivers and workers (pictures here). The monks were again arrested, although later released, and the road construction begun, against their will.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again and Sword and Scimitar, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by extremists is growing. The report posits that such persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location. It includes incidents that take place during, or are reported on, any given month.
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