The beginning of the New Year saw only an increase in the oppression of Christians under Islam, from Nigeria, where an all-out jihad has been declared in an effort to eradicate the Muslim north of all Christians, to Europe, where Muslim converts to Christianity are still hounded and attacked as apostates. According to the Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, "The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it's increasing year by year"; in our lifetime alone, he predicts Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.
An international report found that Muslim nations make up nine out of the top ten countries where Christians face the "most severe" persecution. In response to these findings, a Vatican spokesman said that, "Among the most serious concerns, the increase in Islamic extremism, merits special attention. Persons and organizations dedicated to extremist Islamic ideology perpetrate terrible acts of violence in many places throughout the world: the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria is but one example. Then there is the climate of insecurity that unfortunately in some countries accompanies the so-called "Arab spring"—a climate that drives many Christians to flee and even to emigrate."
Categorized by theme, January's batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity.
Iran: A Christian convert who was arrested in her home has been sentenced to two years in prison. Previously, she endured five months of uncertainty detained in the notorious Evin prison, where the government hoped she would come to her senses and renounce Christianity. She was convicted of "broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by formation of what is called a house church, insulting sacred figures and action against national security."Likewise, Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani continues to suffer in prison. Most recently, he rejected an offer to be released if he publicly acknowledged Islam's prophet Muhammad as "a messenger sent by God," which would amount to rejecting Christianity, as Muhammad and the Koran rejected it.
Kenya: Muslim apostates seeking refuge in Kenya are being tracked and attacked by Muslims from their countries of origin: An Ethiopian who, upon converting to Christianity, was shot by his father, kidnapped and almost killed, is now receiving threatening text messages. Likewise, a Ugandan convert to Christianity is in hiding, his movements severely restricted since "the Muslims are looking to kill me. I need protection and help."
Kuwait: A royal prince who openly declared that he has converted to Christianity, confirmed the reality that he now might be targeted for killing as an apostate.
Norway: While out for a walk, two Iranian converts to Christianity were stabbed with knives by masked men shouting "Infidels!" One of the men stabbed had converted in Iran, was threatened there, and so immigrated to Norway, thinking he could escape persecution there.
Somalia: A female convert to Christianity was paraded before a cheering crowd and publicly flogged as punishment for embracing a "foreign religion." Imprisoned since November, "the public whipping was meant to mark her release." She received 40 lashes as hundreds of Muslim spectators jeered. An eyewitness said: "I saw her faint. I thought she had died, but soon she regained consciousness and her family took her away." Similarly, "Somali Islamists arrested a Muslim father after two of his children converted to Christianity" and fled. He is accused of "failing to raise his sons as good Muslims, because "good Muslims cannot convert to Christianity."
Zanzibar: After being robbed, a Muslim convert to Christianity called police to his house; they discovered a Bible during their inspection. The course of inquiry changed from discovering the thieves to asking why he "was practicing a forbidden faith." He was imprisoned for eight months without trial, and, since being released, has been rejected by his family and is now homeless and diseased.
Azerbaijan: A pastor has been threatened with criminal proceedings following a raid on his church during Sunday service. Earlier, he was told that "a criminal case had been launched over religious literature arousing incitement over other faiths," and was pressured by authorities to leave the area, which he did, traveling great distances each week to lead church services.
Egypt: Before a bishop was going to inaugurate the incomplete Abu Makka church and celebrate the Epiphany mass, a large number of Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood members entered the building, asserting that the church had no license and no one should pray in it. One Muslim remarked that the building would be suitable for a mosque and a hospital.
Indonesia: A sticker on the back of the car of a member of the beleaguered Yasmin church saying "We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam," distributed by the family of the late Muslim president, prompted another Muslim attack on the church: scores of Muslims "terrorized the congregation and attacked several church members." Since 2008, the congregation has been forced to hold Sunday services on the sidewalk outside the church and then later in the home of parishioners. Not satisfied, hundreds of Muslims later searched and found the private home where members were congregating and holding service and prevented them from worshiping even there: "It crosses the line now. The protesters now come to the residential area, which is not a public place." A new report notes that anti-Christian attacks have nearly doubled in the last year.
Nigeria: Soon after jihadis issued an ultimatum giving Christians three days to evacuate the region or die, armed Muslims stormed a church and "opened fire on worshippers as their eyes were closed in prayer," killing six, including the pastor's wife. Then, as friends and relatives gathered to mourn the deaths of those slain, Muslims shouting "Allahu Akbar" appeared and opened fire again, killing another 20 Christians. Several other churches were bombed, and seven more Christians killed.
Pakistan: Enraged by the voices of children singing carols at a nearby church, Muslims praying in a mosque decided to silence them—including with an axe: "The children were preparing for mass to be celebrated the next day which was a Sunday. The loud cheers became terrified whimpers when suddenly four men, one of them with an axe, barged into the church. The men slapped the children, wrecked the furniture, smashed the microphone on to the floor and kicked the altar. "You are disturbing our prayers. We can't pray properly. How dare you use the mike and speakers?" (Islam forbids Christians from celebrating loudly in church, banning bells, microphones, and other aids). Also, a center owned by the Catholic church for 125 years, and used for "charitable purposes"—it housed a home for the elderly, a girls' school, a convent and chapel for prayer—was demolished, after it was discovered that its land was worth a considerable amount of money; in the process, demolition workers destroyed Bibles, crosses, and a statue of Our Lady.
Zanzibar: Muslims destroyed two churches: one was torched, while the other demolished—all to shouts of "Allahu Akbar."
[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as "Second-Class Citizens"]
Denmark: In Muslim majority Odense, an Iranian Christian family had two cars consecutively vandalized—windows smashed, seats cut up, and set ablaze—because the cars had crucifixes hanging in them; the family has since relocated to an undisclosed location. Likewise, "Church Ministry" will change its name to "Ministry of Philosophy of Life" to accommodate Muslims.
Egypt: In the latest round of collective punishment, a mob of over 3,000 Muslims attacked Christians in a village because of a rumor that a Coptic man had intimate photos of a Muslim woman on his phone (denied by the man). Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze. Three men were injured, while "terrorized" women and children who lost their homes stood in the streets with no place to go. As usual, it took the army an hour to drive 2 kilometers to the village and none of the perpetrators was arrested.
Nigeria: Boko Haram Muslims set ablaze a Christian missionary home. Occupants of the home, mostly orphans and the less-privileged, were rendered homeless as a result. Meanwhile, a top officer allowed the mastermind behind the Christmas Day church bombings to escape, indicating how well entrenched Islamists are in government.
Pakistan: A judge has denied bail to the latest Christian charged with desecrating the Koran, under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, despite the lack of evidence against him: according to Sharia, the word of a Christian is half that of his Muslim accuser – in this case, his landlord.
Saudi Arabia: Officials strip-searched 29 Christian women and assaulted six Christian men after arresting them for holding a prayer meeting at a private home. Imprisoned last month without trial, they have not been told when or if they will be released. Authorities conducted the strip searches of the women, who insisted they had committed no crime, in unsanitary conditions. As a result, some of the women have experienced physical pain and illnesses, but authorities have provided no medical treatment.
Sudan: Authorities threatened to arrest church leaders if they engage in "evangelistic activities" and fail to comply with an order for churches to provide names and identification: "The order was aimed at oppressing Christians amid growing hostilities toward Christianity… Sudanese law prohibits missionaries from evangelizing, and converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by imprisonment or death in Sudan, though previously such laws were not strictly enforced." Accordingly, shortly after, two evangelists were arrested on spurious charges and beaten by police.
Turkey: A Christian asylum seeker who fled from Iran because of his faith "was brutally assaulted by his employer with hot water, and his body was severely burned," due to "the extreme religious views" of his Turkish Muslim employer, who "told him he had no rights and that he would not pay him any money," after the Christian asked for his agreed wages. He "is just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey."
ABDUCTIONS, RANSOM, MURDER
Egypt: The abduction of a 16-year old Christian girl, who disappeared over a month ago, has become a "tug of war between the Christian family and Muslim lawyers." The court sided with the Islamists, ordering the girl to be held in a state-owned care home until she turns 18—the legal age of conversion—instead of returning her to her family. Coptic activists argue that the decision "encourages Islamists to continue unabated the abduction of Christian minors for conversion to Islam."
Pakistan: A Christian girl who was abducted in 2001 when she was 15 and forced to marry a Muslim, returned to her Catholic family after 10 years. Her case is not an isolated one: "there are at least 700 cases a year of Christian girls kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim." In the same vein, "within the past three months, nine women have been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam."
Sudan: After a large truck smashed through the gates of a Catholic Church compound, Muslims affiliated with Sudan's Islamic government kidnapped two Catholic priests, "severely beat" them and looted their living quarters, stealing two vehicles, two laptops and a safe. Later, the kidnappers forced the priests to call their bishop with a ransom demand of 500,000 Sudanese pounds (US$185,530).
Switzerland: A Muslim man hacked his daughter to death for dating a Christian: were they dating in a Muslim country, the Christian, as so often happens, would have likely received similar treatment.
Syria: The Christian community in Syria has been hit by a series of kidnappings and brutal murders; 100 Christians were killed since the anti-government unrest began; "Children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim, including some who are "cut into pieces and thrown in a river." These latest reports are reminiscent of the anti-Christian attacks that have been commonplace in Iraq for a decade.
Tajikistan: A young man dressed as Father Frost—the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas—was stabbed to death while visiting relatives and bringing gifts. The Muslim mob beating and stabbing him screamed "You infidel!" leading police to cite "religious hatred" as motivation.
About this Series
Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of Muslim persecution of Christians that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
- To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
- To show that such persecution is not "random," but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death to those who "offend" Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum