The Islamic jihad against Christians in Nigeria is proving to be the most barbaric. A new report states that 70% of Christians killed around the world in 2012 were killed in that African nation. Among some of the atrocities committed in March alone, at least 41 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a bus station in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, these attacks "were a signpost of the intended extermination of Christians and Christianity from northern Nigeria."
According to the Rev. Jerome Ituah, "Out of the 52 Catholic churches in Maiduguri diocese, 50 of them have been destroyed by [terrorist group] Boko Haram. When two Christian brothers were returning home after Sunday church service, jihadis opened fire on them with machine guns, killing the brothers, as well as three others, and injuring several more Christians."
Another 13 Christian factory workers in Kano were "gruesomely" slain. According to the local bishop, "Reports of the attack reaching us disclosed that on that fateful Saturday at about 7 p.m, Muslim faithful were conducting their prayer close to the affected compound occupied by Christian families, when two taxi cabs stopped in front of the compound and the occupants, who all concealed their arms, dashed into the complex and demanded to know why the residents were not part of the 7 p.m. Muslim prayer. They responded by telling the visitors they were Christians and so could not be part of the Muslim gathering. At that point, they separated the men from their wives and children and shot them dead on the spot after ordering the women and children into their homes" to be enslaved.
The bishop added that, "government should show more concern, like it has always done when Muslims are affected; I have not seen that in the case of Christians—that 13 Christians were killed in one straight attack and nothing is heard from the government reflects selective justice because we are aware of compensation paid to Muslim families in situations of this nature."
However, the Nigerian government recently did go on the offensive to try to contain the jihadis in northern Nigeria—only to be chastised, according to Reuters, by the Obama administration, in the person of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, "in a strongly worded statement, saying: "We are… deeply concerned by credible allegations that the Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations….." against the jihadi mass murderers.
Categorized by theme, the rest of March's Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:
Egypt: According to El Watan News, three Christian brothers were shot dead at their home by automatic weapons a few weeks before two of them were set to have their weddings. The victims' family was earlier accused of trying to build a church on land they owned after purchasing building material to build a house on that land. The rumors about the building of a church spread during the Friday sermon at the mosque, following which, 2,000 Muslims stormed the land and tried to destroy the house, a car and a tractor, resulting in the murder of the three Christian brothers.
Indonesia: Authorities demolished a church building with a bulldozer in West Java, even as Muslim bystanders cheered and denounced Christians as "infidels." According to Pastor Leonard Nababan, the government is "criminalising our religion." The congregation had gathered around the church in an effort to save it; so did Muslims, shouting, "They're infidels and they've built their church without permission;" "Knock the church down now," and "Allahu Akbar"["Allah is Greater"].
Iraq: According to Fox News, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were more than 300 Christian churches. Today, a decade after a jihad was unleashed on Christians and their churches, only 57 Christian churches remain in the nation. And "The churches that remain are frequent targets of Islamic extremists, who have driven nearly a million Christians out of the land..." An Iraqi-based human rights organization said that, "The last 10 years have been the worst for Iraqi Christians because they bore witness to the biggest exodus and migration in the history of Iraq…. More than two-thirds [of Christians] have emigrated." One of the most dramatic cases of Christian persecution came in late October of 2010, when Al Qaeda members laid siege to Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, killing 58 and wounding 78. According to an AP report , "Iraq's Catholic Christians flocked to churches to celebrate Easter Sunday [in March], praying, singing and rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ behind high blast walls and tight security cordons… [emphasis added]."
Libya: A Coptic Christian church in Benghazi was attacked by armed Muslims. The jihadis severely beat and shaved the beard and mustache of Father Paul, the priest of the church, as a sign of humiliation. They also beat the deacon and nine attendees. Meanwhile, because Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led government had done little to restrain the systematic abuse of Egyptian citizens in Libya, including the murder of one under torture, Copts demonstrated in front of the Libyan embassy in Cairo—prompting yet another attack on the Benghazi church, which was set on fire.
Pakistan: In response to one Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam's prophet, thousands of Muslims attacked the Christian Joseph Colony of Lahore. They burned two churches, one Catholic, the other Seventh Day Adventist, as often happens in Pakistan, in the context of collectively punishing Christians.
Sudan: According to Morning Star News, Khartoum's jihad continues to "rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity": the Evangelical Church in the Nuba was "reduced … to ashes" after an aerial bombardment. Days later, another bombing campaign in the Christian-majority region left two dead and twelve injured. "These bombardments," said a church leader, "are major sources of fear among the people in South Kordofan."
Turkey: The 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to go from being a branch of the Hagia Sophia -- Christianity's grandest cathedral, which was transformed into a mosque after the Islamic conquest, and is currently a museum -- to being an active mosque. Many Turkish Muslims continue calling for the return of the Hagia Sophia itself to a mosque.
Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism
Holland: A 43-year-old Iranian Muslim convert to Christianity was found murdered. According to the Farsi Christian News Network, the victim went to church the afternoon he was killed: "The shocking news of this senseless murder has brought grief and sorrow to the local Christians, Iranian-Christian community, and asylum seekers across the country." Christians constitute a large percentage of the Iranians seeking asylum in the Netherlands. (Islamic Sharia law calls for the killing of apostates; in the Islamic world, converts to Christianity are regularly targeted.)
Iran: During a major conference, a Shi'ite leader claimed that Islam was under attack by Christianity in Iran: "Christian booklets and brochures are being sent to people's doors for free in many areas…. Christianity is being preached in many shops in the Islamic city of Mashhad. Also Christian booklets are sent to people's addresses without restrictions." But a Mohabat News spokesperson said, "Of course, the Islamic cleric did not provide any supporting evidence for his claim. However, it seems their sole purpose in bringing up and repeating these claims is to provoke security authorities against, and provide the means for increased pressure on Iranian Christians converts."[sic]
Kazakhstan: Vyacheslav Cherkasov , a Christian street evangelist, was detained for offering Christian literature to passersby and fined the equivalent of one month's wages on charges of "violating the rules" regarding "importing, publishing and distribution of religious literature," which came into force in 2011. The court ordered the destruction of his 121 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles and children's Bibles, in the first such ruling since the nation gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Local Council of Churches Baptists said in published remarks, "We were shocked—this is sacrilege and illegality."
Pakistan: The blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl, who was earlier arrested for "blasphemy" when a Muslim cleric falsely claimed that she burned a Koran, has been reopened. According to a BosNewsLife report, "A police investigator asked the Supreme Court in Islamabad to reopen the case" against the Christian girl, "saying he was pressured by the government to drop charges against her after an international outcry." Her family and she are currently in hiding. A court is also considering a death sentence against 47-year-old Martha Bibi, a Christian and mother, due to alleged "derogatory remarks" about Muslim prophet Muhammad. Another Christian man was arrested after a Muslim accused him of blasphemy. But his arrest was not enough to appease the 3,000-strong mob that went on to punish collectively the nation's Christians -- burning two churches and some 200 Christian homes, and stealing the Christians' property.
Somalia: Muslim militants murdered another Christian, Ahmed Ali Jimale, 42, who was killed by two men as he stood outside his house, near a police station. Among other charges, the man was accused of apostasy—on the widespread assumption that all Somalis are born Muslims—and, because he worked as a teacher, of "introducing the children to foreign Christian religion." Muslim militants had warned him that, "We shall come for your head." A friend of the slain said, "Jimale was a good man who helped our community. His widow is very scared and afraid, not knowing what will happen." He also leaves behind four children, ages 10, 8, 6, and 4.
[General Abuse and Suppression of Non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]
Egypt: Muslim rioters in the town of Kom Ombo threw firebombs and rocks at police after Friday mosque prayers in an effort to storm a church in which they claimed a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity was hiding. Violence began when a 36 year-old Muslim woman, who had been missing for five days, was allegedly seen outside the church with a female Christian friend. Days later, hundreds of Muslims marched in the town of al-Wasta, to protest the disappearance of another young Muslim girl and accuse the priest of St. George's Church of using "black magic" to lure her to Christianity. They hurled stones at the church; Coptic shops were forced to close down; Salfis threatened to kidnap a Christian girl if their Muslim girl did not return. However, Watani newspaper had already reported that the Muslim girl sent her family an open letter, posted on the Internet, saying that she ran away because she was sexually abused by her uncles, as well as forced to marry a man she did not want, and that she had left Egypt and was married to a Muslim man. Unrelatedly, a Fox News report states that "Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse." According to a Voice of Russia report, "Up to 100,000 Christians have left Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Some of those have arrived in Moscow."
Iran: Also according to Fox News, a United Nations report states that "Iran's hard-line regime has intensified its violent crackdown on Christians and other religious minorities, even imprisoning nursing mothers for practicing their faith…" The March report provides a "rare, detailed view into the shocking treatment of Christians in Iran, where American Pastor Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence for his alleged work with Christians." According to a UN expert on human rights in Iran, "The persecution of Christians has increased. It seems to target new converts and those who run house churches…. more than 300 Christians have been arrested since June 2010, according to the report." Most recently, Five members of the Church of Iran denomination, "charged with disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and an internet activity against the system," appeared before a judge.
Pakistan: After 3,000 Muslims attacked a Christian village—burning two churches and some 200 homes—the government punished Christians for protesting. According to the Daily Times, "Christians around the country are incensed by the recurring theme of blasphemy allegation followed by attacks and burning down of their vulnerable communities. They have held protests across the country in a concerted effort to vent their disgust at the recent incident and to show solidarity with the victims… Lahore police used the opportunity to beat the innocent Christian protesters. They shot tear gas shells at them and beat them with sticks. Yet when the Muslim attack took place they stood back and watched till the town had been razed to the ground…Muslims of Jhelum city have threatened to burn Christians home in response to the protests. Now the community is living in fear of reprisals for their simple act of condemning violence and the blasphemy laws of Pakistan."
Sweden: According to Charisma News, "Christians in Iran face arrest, torture, even death. But that doesn't seem to matter to Swedish immigration officials. Sweden wants to send Iranian Christian asylum seekers, who left Islam, back to Iran where they could be killed. Iran is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians. As apostates from Islam, they face grave danger in this country. But their requests for asylum status that could save their lives have been denied."
Syria: According to a Catholic leader, up to 30,000 Christians have fled the city of Aleppo, and two priests were abducted and held for a ransom of 15 million Syrian pounds each. Christians are regularly kidnapped and beheaded by jihadi rebels. Also, a short English-language video appeared where Fr. Fadi al-Hamzi told of how his uncle was recently murdered: "They killed him because he is Christian, they refuse to have any Christians in Syria. … I'm not afraid; my uncle died, he's immortal now. I can be like him." When asked if he was worried if Christians would be massacred if the U.S.-supported jihadis overthrew the government, the priest said , "Yes, yes, this will be… they don't want us here." Christians were in Syria 600 years before Islam conquered the nation.
About this Series
Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching pandemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
2) 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 those who "offend" Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like dhimmis, or second-class, "tolerated" 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 author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.