The following are among the murders and abuses inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of July 2023.
The Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Uganda: On July 9, a Muslim man murdered his wife, a mother of three, hours after she became Christian. Ten days earlier, Amina Nanfuka, 31, while being treated for medical complications, had gone to stay with a relative. During her stay, a pastor visited and prayed for her recovery. According to the relative (name withheld), who had become Christian prior to Amina's visit:
"I shared the saving power of Jesus, and she showed a desire to accept and to believe in Jesus but requested waiting for the day that the doctor in Kampala had given her for a check-up and thereafter attend the church."
On the morning of July 9, they attended church, where she converted and was given a Bible. As they were leaving the church, a Muslim business partner of Amina's husband saw her. "You mean nowadays you go to church?" he asked, but she just smiled and left. The two women returned to Amina's home around 5pm, and by 8pm, her husband was back from work and knocked loudly on the door. According to the relative:
"Without greeting us, he started shouting at his wife saying, 'Why did you lie to me that you were going for a medical check-up and instead decided to go to church?' Amina was tongue-tied."
He then yanked his wife into their bedroom, locked the door, and began demanding that she surrender the Bible.
"Immediately I heard a loud bang inside with kicks and slaps. She started screaming and calling for help. I feared for my life and rushed outside the room shouting and wailing for help."
Neighbors approached, at which point they saw the husband storm out of the house:
"We then went inside the bedroom and found her unconscious with blood coming out of her mouth. She was rushed to a nearby clinic in Bugiri, but soon the doctor pronounced her dead upon arrival. She was strangled and hit with an object around her mouth."
In a separate incident, on July 8, Muslims murdered a former Muslim for converting to Christianity. According to a church pastor who knew the victim, 22-year-old Abudu Amisi:
"Immediately after his conversion [on June 22], Amisi was very fearful of his life from the Muslims in his village ... The church then housed him in a rental house, and he remained indoors for two weeks."
On July 8, the church sent two young Christians to accompany Amisi to the local market to buy food. One of the youths said Abudu was met by a Muslim who seemed to know him, and who "greeted them cheerfully," chatting for ten minutes before leaving them to shop.
"After buying the food items, we then began our journey back to the church. About 50 meters from the market area, people began shouting and mentioning the name of Amisi, saying, 'Here comes the betrayer of Islam. He should not see the light of the day.' There and then they surrounded him and then began cutting him with long knives on his head, face and neck, and fractured his legs and hand."
The two young Christians fled and contacted their pastor, who immediately called police. The pastor continued:
"They hurriedly tried to rescue him, but it was too late, they had already cut Amisi, and he had lost a lot of blood and died on the way to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital."
Amisi is survived by his wife and 3-year-old son.
Mozambique: On July 9, jihadists beheaded a Christian fisherman in Cabo Delgado Province. According to the report:
"[T]he terrorists abducted two men, both fishermen. The other man was allowed to go free because he was a Muslim. Pray for the grieving family and friends of our brother, and ask the Lord to bring an end to the Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique."
Nigeria: As part of the jihadist genocide being waged on the West African nation's Christians, on July 1, militants raided the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Ogun State. They murdered the pastor and abducted seven other Christians who were eventually released. In a statement, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria said it mourned "the loss of the Pastor and condemn the kidnapping of worshippers who were simply exercising their religious freedom to worship."
Separately, 35 Christians were butchered in a series of raids by Fulani herdsmen between July 4 and July 11. According to the report:
"The attacks are attributed to Islamic terrorists, members of the Fulani ethnicity. The violence has been ongoing in the region since May 16, taking the lives of over 350 residents... A radicalized faction of the Fulani people has been accused of killing three times more Christians than the insurgency known as Boko Haram in recent years. According to Intersociety, this year alone [between Jan-Jun, 2023], Fulani militants have jointly killed more than 2,500 Nigerian Christians, including at least 500 in Plateau State."
Democratic Republic of Congo: Jihadists of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamic terror group, massacred 17 Christians and torched two churches in separate attacks throughout July. A survivor of a church attack said these terror raids are getting "worse," because they are "targeting the church leaders," adding:
"We are overwhelmed. What can we do? Because of this massacre in which we are [living], which is one too many and we don't know what to do... So keep praying for us; whatever difficulties become harder and harder, may God sustain us to stand firm."
General Muslim Persecution of Christians
Egypt: According to a July 31 report:
"Two Christian women in Egypt have been reported missing from an area of Cairo known for persecution incidents. Both women disappeared while traveling to or from church. Neither family has received adequate help from the police in locating them."
The husband of one of these missing women, Neveen Lamei, 24, said:
"On Sunday morning, Neveen followed her usual routine. She got up early, prayed, and read the Bible. She left her son Tadros sleeping and went to attend her regular Sunday morning church service. After she didn't return, I tried to call her mobile phone many times, but it was switched off. I searched for her everywhere, but I couldn't find her. I found out that she never arrived at church."
After her husband filed a formal report with police, one of them suggested that maybe she "ran away" to become Muslim. Her husband said that would be completely out of character:
"Neveen loves her faith very much.... She was constantly praying and reading the Bible every day. She was constantly going to church to attend prayer meetings and masses. I believe my wife was kidnapped while she was on her way to the church."
The other missing Christian is a teenage girl, Mariam Nasser Kamal, 17. Also a regular church-goer, she too disappeared while returning home from a prayer meeting. According to the report, the region in which both these Christian women "disappeared" has a history:
"The El Marg district in Northern Cairo has historically been a dangerous place for Egyptian Christians, with overt attacks and incidents of sectarian violence. In 2017, two Coptic Orthodox priests were brutally assaulted, resulting in one death and another with severe injury. Another Christian man was killed in the same neighborhood two years later. Many Christians in this area feel that the police and government are not on their side since they are of a minority faith."
Iran: More than 50 converts to Christianity were arrested in a "rash of new incidents across five Iranian cities over the past seven days," a July 18 article reports, "with fears the number could rise much higher as fresh reports keep coming." Most of those arrested were plucked out of their homes or church-homes and "remain in detention on unknown charges." According to Mansour Borji, Article18's advocacy director:
"The reason for this sudden surge in nationwide arrests of Christians is not clear at this stage. What is obvious is that Iran has begun a fresh crackdown on civil liberties, and the traditionally vulnerable groups, like Christians, are on the front line of those targeted."
Iraq: According to a July 13 report:
"Under mounting pressure from a pro-Iran militia group, the Iraqi president earlier this month revoked a decade-old decree that formally recognized Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako and granted him powers over Christian endowment affairs."
Christians believe this move is meant to facilitate the further confiscation of their property, which begun under ISIS. In the words of Diya Butrus Slewa, a human rights activist from Ainkawa,
"This is a political maneuver to seize the remainder of what Christians have left in Iraq and Baghdad and to expel them. Unfortunately, this is a blatant targeting of the Christians and a threat to their rights."
Other Christians gathered in peaceful protests, holding up "placards telling the Iraqi government that they had committed 'enough injustice' against the long-suffering Christian community." Another sign read:
"Mr. President, the protector of the constitution should not violate the constitution. The Iraqi president orders the displacement of Christians, and opens the way for violating the property of the Chaldean Church which represents nearly 80 percent of Christians in Iraq and Kurdistan."
Afghanistan: A July 13 report sheds light on the horrific condition of Christians under Taliban rule:
"The Taliban are working to completely erase Christianity or any religious minority from the country, even stating that there are no Christians in Afghanistan, an obviously false claim. Many Christians have gone underground to avoid being kidnapped by the Taliban 'courts.' The rising starvation rates and increasing poverty in Afghanistan create an even higher security threat to these believers since now the Taliban are offering financial compensation to anyone who reports on Christians... and Afghans are desperate, further heightening the security risk [to Christians.] Unless ransomed by their families, Christians captured by the 'courts' face brutal torture and even death. If redeemed, the survivors and their families, often bankrupt from the exorbitant ransom demands, must flee their homes to avoid repeated kidnappings from the various Taliban gangs. Because of the persecution, many Christians escape to Pakistan and risk capture and death by the Taliban. Even if they make it to Pakistan, they must conceal their faith for fear of receiving worse treatment in already poor conditions. Some Christian refugees decide to return to Afghanistan, deciding they have a better chance of survival under the Taliban than in Pakistan."
Austria: Two young Muslims living in Austria recently confessed that they would like to "kill Christians" and "restore the caliphate." The boys, aged 15 and 16, were put on trial at the Leoben Regional Court on July 16, 2023. They had made plans to massacre as many people as possible during an attack on the middle school attended by the 15-year-old, in Bruck an der Mur, where they both lived. When confronted in court, the boys — who both have a history of violence and criminality— admitted that "We wanted to shoot all the Christians in the class!" Asked how they would have responded if police had intervened, they said, "We would have surrendered" — adding that "Allah would have forgiven" them in prison, since "Killing Christians takes us to paradise." According to one report:
"The boys also made it clear via platforms that they didn't believe in 'boring knife attacks.' They wanted to use explosives much more because they could 'kill' many more people at the same time.... and they repeatedly expressed their hatred of the West, which oppresses Muslims."
Based on their monitored chats, authorities also discovered that another friend had "offered them a submachine gun from his father's collection. Unfortunately, he later posted, he couldn't get into the safe. The youngsters then decided to save up for a gun." The court sentenced them to two years' imprisonment—though they only need to serve eight months. (The maximum penalty for juveniles is five years.) The court also ordered that they undergo "anti-aggression training and a de-radicalization program."
Muslim Attacks on Churches and Christian Symbols
Indonesia: Arguing that churches should never exist in Muslim-majority regions, on Sunday, July 2, Muslims broke up a Christian worship service even as police stood by looking on.
According to the report:
"After demonstrations against the church, a hijab-clad Muslim woman led the disruption of the service, a video on social media shows. Standing next to a police officer, she is seen loudly refusing to allow Christians to worship."
She was heard yelling, "You the minorities should not always ask to be respected!" A human rights activist responded by saying:
"Suddenly they come screaming in protest, 'Why are they worshiping in Muslim-majority areas?' Since when are non-Muslim[s] not allowed to worship in a Muslim area?"
This is the second disruption experienced by the Mawar Sharon Church congregation in two months:
"The church's worship was previously disrupted on May 19, when at least 40 Muslims stopped the midday service at the café."
Austria: On July 3, in Vienna—a city which has more Muslim than Catholic students—several statues of Jesus and Mary in a prayer garden long known for being a "spiritual oasis" were found desecrated and beheaded, leaving visitors who had come to meditate and pray shocked and terrorized. The garden has been attacked before. In one instance, a Mary statue had hard -to-remove lipstick smeared on it; in another, police caught but released the vandals, described in the report only as "young people." This video captures some of the most recent damage of beheadings and desecrations. The report concludes by saying the motivation of the "unknown vandals" remains "a mystery to police."
Italy: On July 14, the altar of Saint Lucia Church in northern Italy—where most of the nation's large Muslim migrant population reside—was vandalized and a beloved statue of the saint "thrown to the ground and completely destroyed." Responding to this incident, Denis Paoli, the provincial councilor of Trento, said:
"What happened constitutes an intolerable outrage not only for the religious community, but for the entire civil society. The damages, both material and moral, are of an unprecedented gravity and what arouses greater indignation is the treatment reserved for the statue of the Saint."
France: On July 5, the Saint-Martin Church in Avallon was found vandalized and robbed of valuable items. According to the report, the historic tabernacle, where the consecrated hosts are kept—and "in particular to bring communion to the sick"—was "smashed in broad daylight." A gold adorned monstrance and two ciboria (religious vases which also keep the hosts) were also stolen. The report adds that a few days earlier, on June 26, the nearby Saint-Lazare church was also vandalized and robbed.
Blasphemy in Pakistan
On July 8, police arrested Zaki Masih, a 35-year-old Christian man, on the accusation that he shared a Facebook post (dealing with food) deemed offensive to Islam. According to the accused's brother, Wasim Masih, Zaki was framed by the complainant, a Muslim man named Awais, with whose friends the brothers had earlier been engaged in a property dispute:
"We reconciled with the other party due to the intervention of the village elders, but it seems they nurtured a grudge and trapped my brother in the fake case."
On Friday, July 7, when Awais first tried to incite local Muslims against the Christians, "Even the imam of the village mosque told them that the post contained nothing derogatory against Islam," said the brother, "and that they should desist from stoking religious tension. However, the complainant filed a case against my brother, and the police raided his shop and took him into custody."
He is charged under Section 295-A of Pakistan's Penal Code concerning "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs." If convicted, he faces up to ten years' imprisonment. According to the report:
"Blasphemy laws are often used as a weapon of revenge against both Muslims and non-Muslims to settle personal scores or to resolve disputes over money, property or business. A mere allegation is enough to provoke a mob to riot and lynch falsely accused suspects in Pakistan. At least 1,949 persons were accused under the blasphemy laws between 1987 and 2021, according to the Center for Social Justice. A large number of these blasphemy cases are still awaiting justice."
These laws are, moreover, becoming more, not less, severe:
"In January, the National Assembly passed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, increasing punishment for insulting the companions, wives and family members of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, from three years to 10 years and a fine of 1 million rupees."
In a separate incident, on Friday, July 30, police arrested a Christian man for posting biblical verses on Facebook that "infuriated Muslims" and caused them to rise up in violence. Without adding any personal commentary, Haroon Shahzad posted 1 Corinthians 10:18-21, which condemns food sacrificed to idols as food sacrificed to demons that should be refrained from eating. Unfortunately for him, he made this post right around when Muslims were celebrating Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), which involves slaughtering and eating an animal. A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the biblical post and shared it with other Muslims, accusing Haroon of insulting Islam. According to Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a Christian and former lawmaker,
"The post began circulating in Muslim circles on Thursday, but the situation became tense after the Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers asking people to gather for a protest."
Before long, large Muslim mobs, including from other villages, had formed around the mosque, preparing to dish out some retribution. Chaudhry continued:
"Fearing that the situation could get out of hand, a majority of the Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.... The police registered a case against Haroon on Friday under Sections 295-A and 298, under the pressure of the mobs backed by the extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan [TLP]. The FIR [First Information Report] is unwarranted, because Haroon had only shared a biblical verse and had made no personal comment that could be deemed blasphemous or inflammatory."
Before police even arrived, Haroon and his wife and six children—and several other family members and siblings—went into hiding. Speaking from an undisclosed location, Irfan Shahzad, Haroon's younger brother, said that, in an effort to prompt Haroon to come out of hiding and surrender himself, police seized two of his sisters-in-law:
"When we learned that [Muslim] people from at least two or three villages had started gathering, we ran to save our lives. We couldn't take our parents along because of their medical condition, so my two sisters-in-law volunteered to stay back and look after their needs. It's a shame that the police detained them despite knowing that they have infant children."
The women were finally released after another of Haroon's brothers and two other youths presented themselves for detention in their stead. Soon thereafter, Haroon gave himself up. The report concludes:
"The blasphemy charge against Shahzad stems from personal grudges against him by the complainant, Ullah ... [who] had engaged in legal battles with Shahzad over a piece of land allotted by the government for constructing a church building."
If found guilty, Haroon faces up to ten years in prison.
Finally, in yet another incident in July, more Christian families were forced to flee Islamic fury from an accusation of blasphemy. On July 16, Muslim masses protested, partly by blocking a major highway for hours, after mosques urged them to protest the alleged appearance of posters carrying unflattering caricatures of Muhammad and his child-bride, Aisha, on the walls of a mosque. As a result, based on precedent, the 3,500 Christian families of Maryam Town, near to the mosque in question, "panicked." Discussing this situation, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a former lawmaker (the same quoted above in the case concerning Haroon) said:
"The mosque announcements accused Christians of being involved in the incident because the posters were purportedly written by 'an unknown soldier of Maryam Town.'"
Both Chaudhry and other human rights activists expressed suspicions that the Christians are being framed. Chaudhry said:
"This third incident points to a deliberate attempt to spark religious unrest and target Christians... We told police and Islamic leaders that Christians already live in fear due to the abuse of blasphemy accusations. It's highly unlikely that anyone would commit such a heinous crime and put the entire community at risk, so we have no objection to a fair investigation."
Even more telling, the mosque that called for protests is the same mosque that had incited mobs against Haroon, in the incident above. As Chaudhry observed:
"There are two other mosques near the mosque where the blasphemous posters were found, but they did not initiate the call for protests. The police must investigate this aspect."
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West, Sword and Scimitar, Crucified Again, and The Al Qaeda Reader, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the 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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