"Get lost, this [France] is not your country...." — Muslims confronting a Catholic procession on December 11, 2021 in Nanterre, France. Pictured: The Saint-Joseph-des-Fontenelles Church in Nanterre. (Image source: Guilhem Vellut/Flickr CC by 2.0)
Hate for Christmas; Violence against Christians
The Islamic State: As always happens before the festive Christmas season, professional Islamic terrorists sought to incite Muslims to launch "lone wolf" attacks on Christians. On December 20, the ISIS-operated Rocket.Chat communication platform posted a drawing of a veiled jihadist brandishing a bloody knife in one hand while holding the severed head of Santa Claus in the other. Messages on the platform included:
"With the advent of the so-called polytheistic celebrations that the unbelievers are experiencing these days, we send a message to our monotheist brothers in Europe, America, Australia, Canada, Russia, and other countries of unbelief and apostasy.... Attack the citizens of crusader coalition countries with your knives, run them over in the streets, detonate bombs on them, and spray them with bullets."
Canada: Days before Christmas, on December 17, a Muslim cleric told his congregation, following mosque prayers, that wishing non-Muslims a Merry Christmas is "like congratulating murderers and pedophiles" and, therefore, a "major sin." During his "sermon" at the Islamic Center for Muslim Youth in Victoria, Imam Younus Kathrada, said:
"Yes, it's Christmas season, and so many people are asking, 'Why shouldn't I congratulate people on this occasion?'... Would you like to congratulate a fornicator? Would you congratulate a murderer? Obviously not? Would you like to congratulate a pedophile? Obviously not.... So how can you praise people for insulting Allah (God)?... Where is your love for your creator when you approve of people who insult Allah? It is a major sin and it is unbelief."
The imam concluded by calling on Allah to "give strength to Islam and Muslims, to humiliate infidels and polytheists, to destroy the enemies of (our) religion and to annihilate heretics and atheists."
France: On December 11, a group of Catholic worshippers celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at their parish in Nanterre. During a short procession near their church, Muslim passersby began to call them names, threaten them, and even engage in violence. According to the report, written by one of the procession participants,
"several young men began to surround us, about ten in all, giggling as they insulted us. Then the giggling was followed by increasingly violent insults 'children of whores,' 'gang of whores,' then more and more Christianophobic words: 'This is not a cathedral.' 'You are Khouffars, infidels,' 'Get lost, this is not your country."
As the procession continued on its way, the Muslims drew in more closely and became more confrontational—including by spitting on the Christian procession: "The priest is the first to be attacked because he is leading the procession," the report continues. "He is spat at and then cold water is poured on him. Tension rises and the group that has surrounded us makes contact." One Muslim proceeds to cry out—"wallah [by Allah] on the Quran I will cut your throat." When the priest explained that the procession was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Muslims reply: "This is the land of Allah, f**k off!" The report concludes:
"More words are spoken in Arabic while several parishioners are violently pushed around by the youths. We were followed almost during the entire procession and insulted with the foulest possible language... No one was hurt, but the parishioners were shocked by this inexplicable violence against a simple procession that was taking place in a peaceful atmosphere, had been authorised by the prefecture and was following a traditional route. There was hatred in their eyes without anyone being able to explain it in any way. ... [T]he atmosphere is very stressful and it is becoming more and more complicated, even dangerous, to be a Christian in certain areas."
Parisian authorities arrested two 23-year-old Muslim men on November 29. "According to a confession from one of the suspects," a December 8 report notes, "they planned to [attack with knives and] kill passers-by in popular places before Christmas and die martyrs." The two men were indicted for terrorism and imprisoned.
In response, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanine called on "the prefects to reinforce security in front of places of worship and businesses as the Christmas holidays approach because of the terrorist threat and the increased risk of robberies." He asked for "the systematic presence" of police in front of "Christian places of worship."
Finally, on December 24, a man, apparently intoxicated, burst into Saint Vincent Church as Christmas Eve Mass was underway and started crying aloud that he was a Muslim. Police, who were already nearby due to heightened security, quickly arrested the man, a 52-year-old Moroccan; after sobering up at the police station, he was released. No complaints were filed.
India: Angered by the sounds of Christmas carols, hundreds of mostly Rohingya migrant Muslim workers, some armed, violently attacked a group of Christian migrant workers near a factory in Kerala. "A scuffle broke out at around 11.30 pm when some Muslims objected to carols being sung by Christian migrants from Nagaland and Manipur," according to the December 28 report. "While they were celebrating and dancing late at night, Muslim migrants attacked them." Several police and others who tried to intervene in the riot were also injured; the Muslims even "tried to burn policemen alive." Twenty-four people were arrested and 132 detained.
The Slaughter of Christians
Democratic Republic of Congo: On December 25, an Islamic suicide bomber connected to the Allied Democratic Forces attacked a restaurant crowded with families enjoying Christmas Day dinner. At least eight people were killed and many injured. According to one local:
"This is an action of terror. ... Today's attack was unexpected because we are used to hearing incidences of Christians being killed in the villages. The last time we had such terror attacks in this town of Beni was in May and June, where the attackers also planted bombs in churches, but that was stopped by the government forces. In June, one woman was killed and others injured when a bomb planted inside a church's compound exploded. Another bomb had been trapped at a bar that killed several revelers."
Separately, on December 8, Muslim terrorists of the Allied Democratic Forces slaughtered 16 people. "It was horrible to see mothers, children and elderly people fleeing the cruelty of the ADF," said Pelka Josaphat, a resident of Mangina. "The victims were killed by machetes and within my family four people are not responding to calls because they were carried away by the enemy."
Mozambique: After decapitating a Christian pastor, Islamic State-linked Muslims handed the pastor's severed head to his widow and ordered her to deliver it to the police. The pastor had been working in his fields when the militants found and beheaded him. The beheading took place in the resource-rich Cabo Delgado region, which has been targeted and terrorized by ISIS-militants since 2017. There, 3,340 people have been killed and nearly a million displaced.
A December 17 report offers background on how the Islamic State came to power in this southeast African nation:
"Mozambique is a majority Christian country, with Muslims comprising around a fifth of its population. A religious movement, Ansar al-Sunna, first appeared in 2015 in the north of the country, formed by followers of radical Kenyan cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed who has been linked to the 1998 US embassy bombings.... It started building mosques and religious schools, becoming more and more popular with locals. But in 2017, the group starting launching attacks and became known locally as al-Shabab [the Youth], although they do not have any known connection to Somalia's jihadist rebels of that name. Militants started posting photos on the encrypted messaging service Telegram posing in front of the ISIS flag and praising its then leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Islamic State then confirmed that jihadis in Mozambique had joined its Central Africa Province division (ISCAP), along with militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. ISIS have since claimed responsibility for many of the attacks carried out in Mozambique, including brutal beheadings and massacres, often posting photos of the victims online.... The militants still refer to themselves as al-Shabab but they are now strongly considered to be an arm of ISIS, which was confirmed by US officials in December."
According to a separate Human Rights Watch report published on December 7, since 2018, Islamic terrorists have kidnapped and enslaved more than 600 women and girls in Cabo Delgado province:
"The [ISIS-linked] group... forced younger, healthy-looking, and lighter-skinned women and girls in their custody to 'marry' their fighters, who enslave and sexually abuse them. Others have been sold to foreign fighters for between 40,000 and 120,000 Meticais (USD $600 to $1,800). Abducted foreign women and girls, in particular, have been released after their families paid ransom."
Commenting on these findings, Mausi Segun, Africa, director at Human Rights Watch, said:
"They should take all necessary steps to prevent rape and sexual abuse by their fighters, end child marriage, forced marriage, and the sale and enslavement of women and girls at their bases and areas of operation."
Nigeria: Some of the accounts of terrorization and slaughter that Christians experienced in the month of December follow:
Muslim gunmen, believed to be Fulani, ambushed three Christians on their way home, following an evening of Christmas caroling. According to the December 29 report, "Two were killed with bullets and a female survived dangerous bullet wounds." Discussing this incident, a Christian youth leader in the area said that the government had "abandoned them to the mercy of Jihadist gunmen":
"Ambushes are not new to us. We lost over 300 people in an ambush without any effort by the security to arrest the terrorists... Fulani (militants) are killing Christians... but some are still referring to it as a clash."
"When some money was raised, they asked the wife to bring the money which she took to them on November 18. They collected the money and kidnapped her. They kept her until December 6 and released her to go and look for more money. From that time, they were not talking to the wife again...
Three days later, on December 9, the terrorists phoned the Rev. Dauda's church and said they had killed him.
Between December 17-19, the Fulani murdered at least 45 Christian farmers in Nasarawa state.
On Sunday, December 19, an ISIS offshoot targeted and killed 12 Christians as they left their churches in Borno State. "I feel very sad that our people have continued to be attacked ceaselessly by Boko Haram elements without the government doing anything to end these attacks," Joseph Yohanna, a local, said. "Please pray that God deliver our people and the country from these murderers."
On December 16, Muslim Fulani murdered four Christians; the bodies of two other Christians killed earlier were discovered on the same day.
On December 3, Christians in the Muslim majority north of the nation were reported as "living in terror after receiving letters threatening death unless they close their churches." "There's fear and panic here since the letter was received," Mary Ibrahim, a Christian local said. "Christians no longer find it easy to attend fellowship and Bible Study programs in churches." Ayuba Matthew, another local, explained:
"A letter was sent to our churches warning that the Christians must close down churches, or we'll be attacked... We are worried that these Fulani terrorists will carry out their threats, as they're now in complete control of the rural areas of Zamfara state."
Attacks on Apostates, Blasphemers, and Evangelists
Uganda: On December 20, the Muslim husband of Aisha Nambeya, 27, found a Bible in her possession; she had become Christian days earlier. He violently beat her, prompting Aisha and her five children, aged between two and nine, to flee their home. Aisha explained:
"My husband arrived at 4 p.m. while I was still asleep and found me with the Bible. He was furious and wanted to know who gave me the Bible. I would not disclose it even after him beating me up."
He "slapped her and struck her on the back and head with a stick, leaving her with swelling near her ear." Before leaving the house an hour later, her husband warned her that when he returned she must be prepared to confess to everything, including who gave her the Bible, and if indeed she had dared to apostatize from Islam.
"As he left, I knew I was going to have serious problems, so I decided to take all my small children to the church. The church quickly relocated us to another place. We left everything back at home and managed to come with only a few clothes. We need prayers for help from God."
Separately, on December 12, a Muslim mob invaded Umar Opoloto's banana plantation after learning of his conversion to Christianity on the previous day, when he invited an evangelist he had heard at an open air event to dinner at his house. Umar explained:
"I was touched with the preaching of the pastor because he was using the Koran and Bible, yet some of our sheikhs had talked bad of Jesus as a lower prophet than Muhammad... I wanted to know the truth of what he was preaching, so I invited the pastor for supper at my house. That very evening, I and my entire household gave our lives to Christ as Lord and Savior."
Responding to this development, local Muslims called for mosque prayers at 10 a.m. on December 12, a Sunday, a highly irregular time to do so, according a neighbor whose name is being out of fear for his safety. "Thereafter I saw a huge number of Muslims chanting his name, 'Umar, Umar, Umar,'" the neighbor said. "I then rang him to alert him so as to save his family." Umar managed to escape before the angry Muslims broke into his home with machetes, sticks and stones. The neighbor continued:
"They broke into the house but could not find anyone inside. They destroyed some of the property then went ahead and started destroying his cassava, banana plantation and livestock, shouting the name of Umar, saying he has blasphemed Islam and the Islamic community."
Pakistan: A young Christian college student, Ayesha Masih, was pressured into dropping out of medical school in Lahore, after repeated harassment from her Muslim classmates. The bullying began when Ayesha attended an Islamic studies course. "A Muslim girl sitting behind me asked about my faith background," she explained. "I proudly told her that I am a Christian."
"The Muslim girl did not like my response and objected to me studying Islamic studies because I am not a Muslim. I made it clear that I have been studying this subject since grade nine and ten and have always received excellent results. The next day, she refused to shake my hand in the morning. The girl said she did not want to touch a non-Muslim. Her attitude scared me a bit; however, I ignored it as I just wanted to focus on my studies."
A few weeks later, in December, the harassment became more threatening and violent:
"I had to leave the medical college because I was afraid my Muslim classmates would accuse me of insulating [sic] Islamic books. One day, I left the classroom for the cafeteria and retuned [sic] to see a group of girls gathered around my desk. They started abusing me for allegedly insulting the Islamic textbooks by putting my backpack on the ground. I refused this allegation as I did not put my backpack on the ground. However, none of them listened and they started beating me."
Although her parents submitted a formal complaint to the college, administrators failed to investigate the situation. Because false blasphemy accusations against Christians are both common and punishable in Pakistan—either by mob violence, prison sentencing or both—Ayesha and her parents decided the safest route for her was to drop out of medical school.
Indonesia: On December 14, police arrested Joseph Suryadi, a 39-year-old Christian man, on the charge that he had committed blasphemy against the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Joseph is accused of posting a caricature of Muhammad on Twitter and comparing him with a notorious Islamic boarding school owner known as Herry Wirawan, accused of raping 13 girls at his school. According to the report:
"The caricature shows a man with a woman in a hijab along with a message saying that the age of Aisah, the Prophet Muhammad's wife, was young [9-years-old] when she was married to the prophet and that his desire for the young woman was like what Wirawan had for his victims. Police arrested Suryadi after receiving more than 7,000 complaints from Indonesian Muslims. He faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of blasphemy."
Jakarta police spokesman Endra Zulpan said Suryadi had denied posting the caricature and said it happened after he discovered his mobile phone had gone missing.
Kenya: On December 3, four Kenyan-born, ethnic Somalis attacked a Christian pastor, also of Somali origin, on the road. He had converted to Christianity and was also leading other Somali Muslims to Christ—including 13 whom he was returning from meeting with at an underground prayer meeting. Two weeks earlier, the pastor had received an anonymous, threatening text: "We are getting reports that you are now a Christian. You have been missing our Friday prayer meeting. If this is true, then you are risking your life." In fact, he had converted four years earlier but had kept it secret by attending mosque until COVID-19 gave him a pretext to withdraw. On the day of his beating, when the four Muslims stopped him, "They started questioning me about not attending Friday prayers at the mosque," the pastor said. "I kept quiet, and one of them threatened to kill me if I continued keeping quiet." Another of the Muslims told the others, "I think it's true that he has joined Christianity, that is why he is not answering our question." The pastor continues:
"Immediately one began to slap me while another held me with the intention of strangling me, and I fell down. They started beating me with hard objects around my knee. I then shouted for help and screamed with a lot of pain. Thank God that at that moment a vehicle approached with bright lights, and the attackers fled away, leaving me bleeding in a pool of blood."
He was taken to a hospital; he had, among other injuries, a fractured bone in his leg. After he was released from the hospital five days later, he, his wife and three children (aged three, five, and eight), fled to an undisclosed location. The pastor added:
"I know if I report this case to the police, then the attackers can easily find a way of killing me and my family. My family is very fearful and terrified, and it is causing a lot of pressure on us."
General Abuses against Christians
Turkey: On December 31, unknown vandals defaced Istanbul's Kadıköy Protestant Church by writing "Allah 1" on its door. The church is just the latest of several in Istanbul alone to be desecrated in recent years. In July 2021, three people danced to loud music on top of the wall of the Armenian Church of Surp Takavor in Kadıköy. In May 2020, surveillance footage showed a man tearing down the cross outside Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church. Also in May 2020, a man tried to burn the entrance door of Surp Asdvadzadzni Armenian Church.
Egypt: On December 2, Marna, a 15-year-old Coptic Christian girl, disappeared on her way to a private tutoring lesson. Immediately her family contacted the police and pled with them to find and retrieve her. Two days later, on December 4, after the police had displayed nothing but apathy, the Christians of al-'Amoudain village, where the girl is from, gathered together to stage a protest against both the disappearance of yet another Christian girl, and the police's lack of concern. They held signs and chanted "Marna must be returned to us" and "We want our daughter back." The police were quick to respond; they descended on the village, and, according to eyewitnesses from the girl's family, "in order to disperse the protest, police opened fire on us with tear gas," prompting "loud screams from the women and a state of panic in the village." The police further arrested 22 Christian protesters during the clash. "We demand our rights in returning our daughter," a family representative responded, "[and] in peacefully gathering to demand a revelation of the girl's fate." Due to such persistence and incessant calls for police to act, days later Marna was returned to her family—a happy though rare ending for Egypt's Christian minorities.
Separately, a heated discussion broke out at the Egyptian parliament during a discussion on a suggested bill that would require all Egyptian students—including millions of Coptic Christians—to memorize portions of the Koran. According to the December 15 report:
"In the session, a representative of Al-Azhar suggested students be required to memorize more Quranic verses, but parliamentarian Youssef Al-Husseini objected to provisions in the bill that retain Quran memorization in primary school. 'There are non-Muslim students like Copts who should not be forced to memorize the Quran,' argued Husseini, who is deputy chairman of parliament's media and culture committee."
Further pursuing the matter, Al Azhar later issued a statement claiming that the Koran was the first text to establish the "principles of freedom and respect for religions" and call for "human fraternity and equality without discrimination on the basis of religion, color, race or language." Parliamentarian Husseini responded by saying that "There is no relationship between strengthening the Arabic language and imposing a holy book on all Egyptians regardless of their religion." He pointed to several other forms of Arabic literature and poetry that can be used in teaching and suggested that Al Azhar had a different motive:
"There are still some hard-liners within Al-Azhar, and it is necessary to call and insist on establishing a civil education system, not a religious one."
Isaac Hanna, a journalist and head of the Egyptian Association for Enlightenment, agreed:
"Quranic texts are not the only way to teach Arabic in schools. There are other methods such as literature, poetry and rhetoric.... Separating students in the religion class is [a] form of discrimination that divides society.... The government always backs down from any removal of Quranic texts in school curricula or the subject of religion, fearing attacks and criticism by extremist groups."
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.
- November, 2021
- October, 2021
- September, 2021
- August 2021
- July, 2021
- June, 2021
- May, 2021
- April, 2021
- March, 2021
- February, 2021
- January, 2021
- December, 2020
- November, 2020
- October, 2020
- September, 2020
- August, 2020
- July, 2020
- June, 2020
- May, 2020
- April, 2020
- March, 2020
- February, 2020
- January, 2020
- December, 2019
- November, 2019
- October, 2019
- September, 2019
- August, 2019
- July, 2019
- June, 2019
- May, 2019
- April, 2019
- March, 2019
- February, 2019
- January, 2019
- December, 2018
- November, 2018
- October, 2018
- September, 2018
- August, 2018
- July, 2018
- June, 2018
- May, 2018
- April, 2018
- March, 2018
- February, 2018
- January, 2018
- December, 2017
- November, 2017
- October, 2017
- September, 2017
- August, 2017
- July, 2017
- June, 2017
- May, 2017
- April, 2017
- March, 2017
- February, 2017
- January, 2017
- December, 2016
- November, 2016
- October, 2016
- September, 2016
- August, 2016
- July, 2016
- June, 2016
- May, 2016
- April, 2016
- March, 2016
- February, 2016
- January, 2016
- December, 2015
- November, 2015
- October, 2015
- September, 2015
- August, 2015
- July, 2015
- June, 2015
- May, 2015
- April, 2015
- March, 2015
- February, 2015
- January, 2015
- December, 2014
- November, 2014
- October, 2014
- September, 2014
- August, 2014
- July, 2014
- June, 2014
- May, 2014
- April, 2014
- March, 2014
- February, 2014
- January, 2014
- December, 2013
- November, 2013
- October, 2013
- September, 2013
- August, 2013
- June, 2013
- May, 2013
- April, 2013
- March, 2013
- February, 2013
- January, 2013
- December, 2012
- November, 2012
- October, 2012
- September, 2012
- August, 2012
- July, 2012
- June, 2012
- May, 2012
- April, 2012
- March, 2012
- February, 2012
- January, 2012
- December, 2011
- November, 2011
- October, 2011
- September, 2011
- August, 2011