ISIS Hammers Christian Towns in Syria for Third Day

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS

Breitbart, by Katie Gorka, Feb. 25, 2015:

Today marks the third day in ISIS’ latest offensive against a string of Christian towns and villages in northeast Syria. According to Aziz Mirza, with the Syriac Cultural Association, speaking from Qamishli by phone today, ISIS is continuing to push forward in trying to take control of this predominantly Assyrian Christian region.

Mirza said an estimated 350-400 people are missing from 12 different villages, but it has been very difficult to confirm those numbers because all cell phones appear to be confiscated. When relatives have tried calling, members of ISIS answer the phones, Mirza said.

Kurdish and Christian fighters have been working together for the past year and half to protect this area from ISIS. The Christian fighters, who operate as the Syriac Military Council, had forces in 3 villages: Tel Hormizd, at the southern end of the Khabur valley, Tel Shamiram, at the northern end, and Tel Tawil on the northeast flank. The SMC and Kurdish (YPG) forces had been there since Feb 7, but with the pre-dawn attack that was launched on February 23rd, ISIS has now retaken control. So far, the Syriac Military Council has lost four fighters with another 12 deaths suspected but not yet confirmed.

ISIS is currently focusing its efforts on the town of Tel Tamar, which is the regional center. Yesterday, ISIS set off three car bombs just outside the barricades protecting Tel Tamar, near where the Syriac Military Council forces and Kurdish forces are headquartered. There were no casualties. Mirza also said that fighting ebbed somewhat on Tuesday because of heavy rains, but today, February 25, it was back at full force.

In a separate phone call, Sewerios Malke from the Syriac Military Council confirmed that ISIS is still trying to take control of the region and that they are trying to cross the Khabur river. The Kurdish and Syriac forces have been able to hold them back so far but it is uncertain how much longer that can last. He estimates the number of ISIS fighters at several thousand.

According to a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release, U.S. and coalition military forces have carried out airstrikes in the Khabur River region where this fighting is going on. Between 8 a.m. yesterday (Feb 24) and 8 a.m. today (Feb 25), local time, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:

  • Near Hasakah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, an ISIL fighting position and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions.
AINA Media

AINA Media

However, both Malke and Mirza asserted that there were no airstrikes in the Khabur region, only further south, 22 kilometers below Qamishli. The stark contrast between the stories of hundreds or even thousands of ISIS fighters attacking villages, taking as many as 400 hostages, and three U.S. airstrikes in the same region that struck only one vehicle, suggests the U.S. may be missing the target.

Some have argued that without troops, or at least advisors, on the ground, there is insufficient intelligence to guide airstrikes. In addition, representatives of the Syriac forces have been making the case in Washington for the past several years that their location in Syria made them particularly vulnerable to attack by ISIS and they could be key players in the fight against ISIS. They were therefore lobbying to be included in the equipping and training of opposition forces in Syria. The State Department has confirmed that the Syriac forces were not included in the first round of training.

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. @katharinegorka.

Also see:

Bearing the cross: a letter to the Islamic State

By Mark Durie, Feb. 21, 2015:

This is the first of a two-part post on the 21 Egyptian martyrs killed in Libya.  This first part is a reflection, as a Christian, on aspects of this event and reactions to it.  The second part, ‘A message signed with blood to the Nation of the Cross’ consists of explanatory notes on the texts – spoken and written – which were part of the Islamic State’s film of their ritual beheadings.  This post has also appeared onLapido media.

The Islamic State sent me a letter this week. This letter was in the form of a short film produced by the Islamic State’s Al-Hayat Media centre.  This was not addressed to me personally, but to all Christians everywhere.  Its title was A Message Signed with BLOOD to the Nation of the Cross.  This was a video of the ritual slaughter of the 21 Egyptian Christians.  Their blood flowing in the ocean waves was the ‘signature’ at the end of the video.

As I write this it is Ash Wednesday.  This is the start of forty days of Lent, a period of fasting and contemplation for Christians all over the world.  For many centuries it has been a custom of Christians to receive a mark of the cross in ash upon the forehead as a sign of repentance.

As I received this mark of the cross today I was thinking of the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs.  Copts permanently bear the sign of the cross, tattooed on their wrists, as a sign that they will refuse to renounce their beliefs.

A Coptic Girl with a Wrist Cross Tatoo

A Coptic Girl with a Wrist Cross Tatoo

I intend to read out these men’s names at our morning church services this Sunday, here in Melbourne, Australia.  And I also choose to honour them today by writing to acknowledge the truth about why they were killed, and in particular the explanation given by their killers.

I also wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at theWhite House official statement of February 15 2015 concerning this event.  This makes no mention of the reason the twenty one were killed: their Christian faith.  This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere.

The White House statement claimed that “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.”  Not true.  The Islamic State’s actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians.  It is not an endorsement of the killers’ Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly.

President Obama has defended his administration’s misrepresentations on the grounds that the radicals are “desperate for legitimacy” so “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.” But these are not desperate people.  They are shockingly confident in their beliefs. They do not “try to portray themselves” as Islamic: they sincerely believe they are. Christopher Hitchens got it right over a decade ago when he suggested of Al Qa’ida recruits that “they believe their own propaganda,” and “absolutely subscribe to the tenets of their version … of their religion, Islam.”

Obama also stated that “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”  This too is nonsense.  A lie is a deliberate intention to deceive, and these self-described jihadis are – at least by their own understanding – speaking the absolute truth when they claim to speak for Islam.

Some years ago I had the privilege of reading the Gospel at a Coptic service held in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, here in Melbourne.  The service was held to commemorate the 22 martyrs of the attack on Al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve. It was led by Bishop Suriel, Melbourne’s Coptic bishop.

The Al-Qiddisin martyr’s service impressed me deeply. I long pondered the fact that the Coptic church of Egypt has been grieving over the freshly dug graves of its martyred sons and daughters since the dawn of Christianity.  As I sat through the service and sung the hymns about martyrdom, I thought, “So this is what it means to be a Copt”.

The Islamic State video, a polished production, depicts 21 Christian men, hands bound behind them, being led one-by-one along a beach in Libya to a point where they are forced to bow down with their heads in the sand, and there they are beheaded, crying out Ya Rabbi Yasou ‘Lord Jesus!’, some reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Severed heads were then placed on top of each corpse, their Muslim slayer standing over them.  The final film shots show the Mediterranean washing red with their blood.

One of the Coptic victims with his killer

One of the Coptic victims with his killer

The whole event was meticulously choreographed and rehearsed.  The video’s obvious purpose is to humiliate and terrorise Christians, whom it derisively calls, “The Nation of the Cross”.  I admire the courage of the martyrs, who did not disown the name of Christ and the cross to follow Islam, even as they were being mocked and killed by their tormentors.

It is indisputable (see Part 2) that the whole script of this video is intensely religious. It is packed with references to the Qur’an and the Hadiths of Muhammad.  As Graeme Wood comments in an important recent Atlantic Monthly article, the Islamic State adherents are constantly referencing Islam’s sacred texts. In their everyday speech, “Koranic quotations are ubiquitous”.  This film is no exception.  For anyone who knows anything about Islam it is impossible to view this film without being aware of the heavy constraining influence of the Qur’an and the Hadiths on the script.  These references are essential for understanding the true context, meaning and intent of the film.

The Egyptian government reacted angrily to the executions, bombing Islamic State positions inside Libya.  Egypt was incensed about this massacre – and rightly so – but it has a very long and enduring track record of not prosecuting Muslims who have massacred Christians within its own borders.  General Al-Sisi is a leader who has been complicit in this peculiar form of Muslim cowardice.  This moral inconsistency is causing great division and confusion among Copts at the present time.

My comment after the Al-Qiddisi massacre in January 2011 remains as valid now as it was then:

“I deplore the lack of freedom of religion in Egypt,  the authorities’ apparent unwillingness to protect the indigenous Christian minority and its places of worship, and the lamentable track record of the Egyptian justice system in securing criminal convictions against those who have targeted Christians for attack.  I call upon Egypt’s leaders to respond to these abuses honestly and with integrity, without making excuses or indulging in denial.”

There is a double standard in the house of Islam.  Examples are legion.  The Jordanian royal house has been prominent in speaking up against attacks against Christians in Iraq and Syria, yet at the time when the Common Word letter was being released to the Christian world in 2008 under Jordanian royal sponsorship, its own Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought had posted on its website fatwas by its Chief Scholar – the former Mufti of Jordan – which declared death for Christians for the crime of leaving Islam, and even identified one person by name (see here).

King Abdullah has on the one hand been a champion of the rights of displaced Christians in the Middle East, and God knows they surely need one.  On the other hand he has held up the notorious Pact of Umar as evidence of Jordan’s history of religious tolerance:

“Jerusalem, which is, regrettably, subject to the worst forms of Judaisation today, stands witness to fourteen centuries of  deep, solid and fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, enhanced by the Pact of Omar [ibn al-Khattab], and promoted by my grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, may God bless his soul.”

In contrast to this historical revisionism, the renowned Muslim jurist Ibn Kathir, accurately described the intent and effect of the conditions of the Pact of Umar as guaranteeing the continued degradation of Christians under Islamic rule:

“This is why the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.”

Readers who read classical Arabic may consult the Royal Jordan Aal al-Bayt Institute’s own database of commentaries here, to view Ibn Kathir’s original text.

The problem is that as long as Muslims allow derogatory words like mushrik‘associator, polytheist’ and kafir ‘infidel’ to be applied to Christians, while also preaching Qur’anic verses which denigrate non-Muslims, the hostility and hatred can only continue.

As long as the highest legal authorities of the Islamic mainstream continue to assert the right of Muslims to kill those who leave Islam, bursts of extreme religious hatred such as we have just seen in Libya can only continue.

As long as Muslims claim that the well-documented brutal slaughters of Islamic conquest and the ensuing oppression of nations under the Islamic system of dhimmitude were a mercy to the world, the ‘opening’ up (al-futuh) of dark nations to light and truth, hatred towards non-Muslims will continue to arise in the house of Islam.

The fundamental problem is not peculiar variants of extreme religious worldviews, it is a deeply engrained religious worldview that is not acknowledged by many who hold it.  Those who, like King Abdullah, allow it room to breathe by claiming that it is something other than what it really is are as much a part of the problem as the violent jihadis who are proud to own the worldview.

In the house of Islam, hatred has deep roots stretching back through time.  In 1836 Edward Lane reported in The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians that it was standard practice in many Cairo schools to require Muslim school boys to invoke daily curses on the heads of Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims.  In essence these curses called for the looting, killing and enslavement of non-Muslims.   It is only against the backdrop of inter-generational hatred that a television series on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion could have become mainstream viewing in Egyptian society, and continuing kidnapping, rape and killings of Copts are perpetrated without justice for the victims.

There is an ill-wind of hatred blowing in the house of Islam and it has been blowing for a very long time indeed.  When this wind is whipped up into a tornado, the world is appalled, but it is the constant steady breeze of hatred that is the root of the problem.

As this letter was addressed to the Christians of the world, here I give my personal reply to the Islamic State, written as a Christian:

I am not intimidated by your hatred.  Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us not to fear those who may kill the body.  The people of honour on that beach in Tripoli were those 21 courageous Copts, who dared to confess the name of Christ, even with a knife to their necks. They knew well what choice they were making. You thought to humiliate them, but the Word of God tells me they are the vindicated ones, the men of glory.  I believe they knew that full well.

For you I have no hate, only pity.  You wield the sword to kill ideas and worship you do not understand, but you do this in vain. The truth cannot be killed by your knives.

General Sisi of Egypt was right: because of you, people all over the world are doubting Islam.

Here is how a young Egyptian girl reacted to what you did:  

‘I am encouraged because now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history, but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord! When I saw these young men praying as they were being prepared for execution and then many of them shouting ‘O Lord Jesus’ as their throats were being slit, I realized that the Gospel message can still help us to hold on to the promises of God even when facing death!’

This is the true truth, and it is precisely because of this truth that a new wind is blowing in the house of Islam: a fresh breeze of questioning, a wind of gentleness and openness. This is the life-giving breath of hope that there must be a different way to walk with God.  You are men of the past: the future belongs to those you killed on the beach.

To read the second part of this post, go to this link.

Mark Durie2Dr Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.

Christmas Slaughter Muslim Persecution of Christians, December 2014

Gatestone Institute, by Raymond Ibrahim, February 1, 2015:

“They chopped children in half. They chopped all heads off. How do you respond to that? That is what we have been going through. That is what we are going through.” — The Reverend Canon Andrew White, “Vicar of Baghdad”.

“At dawn on Christmas Day, the barbaric regime of Iran hanged 7 people in mass execution in Shiraz.” — NCR-Iran.

There are always more and more frequent cases where the blasphemy law is used to target religious minorities or to settle cases of disputes or private rivalries, or simply as an instrument of blackmail.” — Shardar Mushtaq Gill, Pakistani Christian lawyer.

Sudan’s security agents and police have “broad powers to arrest Christians and other lowly-regarded people without cause, for creating public disturbance. The Christians were released after paying a fine of $250 each.” — Morning Star News.

Islamic law holds that new churches are never to be built in Muslim lands and existing ones never repaired. Even so, many of these partially wrecked churches continue to be used, and are even packed, during church services.

Once again, the month of Christmas witnessed some of the most barbaric attacks on Christians throughout the Islamic world.

After Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” told of how the Islamic State [S] “chopped [Christian] children in half; they chopped their heads off,” he offered the following anecdote:

IS turned up and they said to the [Christian] children, “You say the words [theshehada, to convert to Islam], that you will follow Muhammad.” And the children, all under 15, four of them, they said, “No, we love Jesus [Yesua]. We have always loved Jesus. We have always followed Jesus. Jesus has always been with us.” They [IS] said, “Say the words!” They [children] said, “No, we can’t.” [White starts sobbing] They chopped all their heads off. How do you respond to that? You just cry. They’re my children. That is what we have been going through. That is what we are going through.

Christmas celebrations were, as usual, tense and sometimes bloody:

Somalia: Islamic terrorists boasted of successfully slaughtering Christians while “they were celebrating Christmas.” Eight Islamic gunmen infiltrated the main African Union base in Mogadishu and killed three peacekeepers and a civilian contractor. Later, the Islamic group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack; it announced it had killed 14 peacekeepers whom it described as “Christian enemies”: “We targeted the enemies at a time they were celebrating Christmas,” said Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for Al Shabaab. Western diplomats who were celebrating Christmas in Mogadishu were evacuated to safety bunkers until the raid was over. Witnesses reported hearing bomb blasts and volleys of gunfire throughout the day.

Iraq: In mid-December, as people in the West were doing their last minute Christmas shopping, churches under IS authority were turned into torture chambers for Christians. According to a witness, “churches are being used as prisons and for torture. Three of the Christian prisoners died because they were sick and nobody cared for them.” The witness, known as Abu Aasi, said that Christian prisoners in the churches are being forced to convert and that IS members have been “breaking all the crosses and statues of Mary.” Other reports told of how Christian prisoners — blindfolded and handcuffed — were held at the ancient Chaldean Church of the Immaculate Conception in eastern Mosul, and that St George’s monastery was now a female prison.

Pakistan: Christian minorities celebrated Christmas “with religious fervor by offering prayers in different churches under tight security,” said one report : “heavy contingents of police were deployed in and around the churches at cantonment and city areas where movement of other people was restricted and the citizens were allowed only after thorough body search.”

In Peshawar alone, approximately “2,000 policemen were deployed in addition to personnel in plain clothes … while the entry points leading to the churches had been closed by placing cemented blocks and barbed wire.” Peshawar, of course, is where Islamic suicide bombers attacked the All Saints Church in September 2013, leaving nearly 90 worshippers dead — including many Sunday school children, women, and choir members — and approximately 120 injured.

Also in Pakistan, Elisabeth Bibi, a 28-year-old pregnant Christian mother of four, was “beaten, scorned and humiliated, deprived of her dignity [and] forced to walk naked through the town” by two Muslim brothers, the pregnant woman’s employers, following an argument. In the ordeal, she lost her baby. Another report states that she was beaten with “pipes” and then robbed by the two Muslim men. Rights activists say the attack “was motivated because of Bibi’s [Christian] religious beliefs.” Bibi herself said that the Muslim family often tried to persuade her to convert to Islam. Police, as often happens when Muslims attack Christians, failed to arrest the two brothers, and Christian activists received threats to drop the charges.

Egypt: With the approach of the Christmas season, Islamic clerics and websites warned Muslims to refrain from any form of participation in Christian celebrations and condemned Muslims who offer their best wishes to their Christian neighbors during Christmas. There were also death threats and incitement to violence against churches, with particular reference to Christian communities in the governorates of Minya, Alexandria and Fayyum, where the Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood have a strong presence.

On December 24, or Christmas Eve, security forces “arrested seven members of a terrorist cell led by a 50-year-old deputy headmaster of a secondary school in the Minya governorate, who is accused of plotting violent acts during the Coptic Christmas celebrations,” reports Zawya. Those arrested “were caught in possession of Molotov cocktails, pictures of the ousted Egyptian president [Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood], and circuitry connected to mobile phones to detonate bombs from a distance, as part of a plan to disrupt the Christmas celebrations.”

Elsewhere in Egypt, Christians “had to pray outdoors in spite of the cold air and the coming of Christmas, as the police were unable to protect them from Islamists’ attacks,” in the words of the president of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, and because many of their churches, despite military promises, remain partially destroyed after 2013 Brotherhood uprisings (see church section below for more).

Iran: On Christmas day in Tehran province, nine Christians were arrested after a paramilitary force and armed plainclothes agents raided a house church where they were celebrating Christmas. The Christians were transferred to an unknown location. NCR-Iran adds, “The clerical regime in Iran continued human rights abuses in Iran during Christmas. At dawn of the 25th December, on Christmas day when hundred[s] of millions of people around the world were celebrating the birth of the Christ, the barbaric regime of Iran hanged 7 people in mass execution in Shiraz.”

Nigeria: The Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, capital city of Borno State in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, experienced another tense Christmas. The city has been besieged by the Islamic organization Boko Haram, and streets were left vehicle-free on December 25 to avoid suicide attacks. Most of the 5,000 displaced persons welcomed in Maiduguri are in fact refugees from other regions that have fallen to Boko Haram.

These people, said Fr. Gideon Obasogie “have no homes, cannot celebrate Christmas as usual with their relatives and friends and are forced to live in a state of hopelessness. Despite fears of terrorist attacks — including widespread rumors of suicide bombers disguised as nuns— “the Catholic faithful went to Christmas Mass … to express their faith in an eloquent manner,” reported the priest.

A Nigerian army emplacement in Maiduguri. (Image source: TV360 video screenshot)

Due to the continually worsening plight of Christians in the Middle East, even Britain’s Prince Charles, who is often criticized of being overly sympathetic to and apologetic of Islam, said:

It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants…. Christianity was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ… Yet today the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world — just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further…. We all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back 2,000 years begins to disappear.

The rest of December’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Read it all

Four years on from Egypt’s uprising, are Copts better off?

Voice of the Copts, by Asma Ajroudi-Al Arabiya News, Jan.25, 2015
coptic-christians

coptic-christians

It has been four years since hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters gathered in the capital’s Tahrir Square in a popular uprising that ousted then-president Hosni Mubarak.

Like the majority of Egyptians living under Mubarak’s 30-decade rule, Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who account for estimated 10 percent of the country’s 85 million population, demanded change.
But as Egypt marks its fourth anniversary of the Jan.25 revolution, many within Egypt’s Christian minority say the country is now better off. In fact the situation for Egypt’s Christians is “better than what it was under the Muslim Brotherhood rule, Hosni Mubarak, and even their predecessors,” according to Charl Fouad El-Masri, editor-in-chief of Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.
While the Mubarak state promoted itself as one of coexistence, the regime cracked down on building new churches and Christian worship sites. Christians were seldom assigned to leading positions in the government and especially in the military, in what many critics described as an official discrimination by the state. And like Muslim Egyptians, a significant number of Christians lived under poverty line and worried about unemployment and lack of freedoms.
But with the rise of religious extremism in the Arab world in the 1970s and with the emergence of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda calling Arab Christians “legitimate targets,” the Christian minority found itself a target of violent sectarian attacks and a victim of an indifferent state. The 2011 revolution coincided with the deadliest year of sectarian violence in decades, including the bombing of an Alexandria church and the killing of two dozen Coptic protesters by Egyptian security forces.
Following the fall of the Mubarak regime and the beginnings of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi’s rule, however, security became a pressing priority in Christians’ demands. Attacks on Copts, who make 95 percent of Egypt’s Christian population, and their institutions have been widely reported on by the national and international media.
The emergence of ultra-conservative groups in post-revolution Egypt brought about a new wave of sectarian clashes that the government, according to critics, did not pay attention to. In 2013, a video emerged online showing Egyptian police standing idly by as a mob attacked a cathedral during a mass funeral.
“Egypt’s Copts suffered during the Muslim Brotherhood rule greatly,” El-Masri added.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won the majority of seats in the 2011 parliamentary election; and its member Mursi became Egypt’s fifth president in June 2012.
Mursi’s decree, which granted him unlimited powers, reports about violent crackdowns on journalists, liberals and demonstrators were among many issues that brought thousands of Egyptians back out on the streets calling for the president’s resignation. On June 30, 2013, and in response to the new wave of clashes that paralyzed Egypt, the Egyptian army, led by General Abdelfattah al-Sisi, ousted Mursi.
Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood was pronounced a “terrorist organization,” and its members became targets of a violent state crackdown, resulting in hundreds of deaths among Mursi supporters. Sisi became Egypt’s president on June 8, 2014.
“The outcome of the January 25 uprising was a disaster for Egyptian Christians who participated in the uprising as citizens of Egypt demanding democracy and liberty,” said Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, the founder and president of Voice of the Copts.
“When the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group achieved power, it became a nightmare not only for Christians but for anyone opposed to them,” Ramelah added.
Under Mursi, Egypt’s Christians were “unwanted, targeted, and about to face the same terror Iraqi and Syrian Christians face under Islamist terrorism there.”
“I feel Egypt would have gone in that exact direction if the Egyptian army had overlooked the people’s demands to overthrow Mursi,” Ramelah added.
Recently, Sisi has promised to rebuild damaged churches in the country.
Also see:

Christian Persecution Worldwide Has Become A Metastasizing Cancer

Religious Freedom Coalition, By Andrew E. Harrod, PhD, Jan. 24, 2015

The “cancer of Christian persecution is metastasizing” in an “epidemic” that is “spreading at an unprecedented rate in modern times,” stated Open Doors USA president David Curry at a January 7 briefing in Washington, DC’s National Press Club.  Curry’s presentation before an audience of about 30 of Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List (WWL) depressingly reviewed ongoing Christian martyrdom, often at the hands of Marxists and Muslims.

The WWL, an Open Doors press release noted, is a unique annual survey of the persecuted church worldwide, praised by Curry as the most dependable study of its kind.  Open Doors research is “meticulous,” concurred at the briefing religious freedom scholarNina Shea from the Hudson Institute.  The WWL “ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian,” the press release explained.  An accompanying map displayed at the briefing and available online with the report showed these countries coded by color according to persecution severity.

“Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world,” the press release observed.  “This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased.”  Curry noted that the number of Christians dying for their faith has more than doubled since last year’s WWL.  “While the year 2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era,” the press release elaborated, “current conditions suggest the worst is yet to come.”

Church destroyed in Aleppo, Syria by Sunni rebels associated with the Free Syrian Army

Church destroyed in Aleppo, Syria by Sunni rebels associated with the Free Syrian Army

North Korea, with an estimated 70,000 Christians imprisoned according to the press release, headed the list for the 13th consecutive year and appeared blood red (“Extreme Persecution”) on the map.  No other regime is so “militantly atheistic” as North Korea’s “Stalinist brand,” Shea observed, where the regime suppresses any competition to what Curry described as a “cult worship.”  North Korea exemplifies in Shea’s words how “remnant Communist” countries like China (list place 29, colored green for “Moderate Persecution”) are one significant source of Christian persecution.  Another threat came from “nationalist regimes,” Shea noted, such as the “Hindu fundamentalism” cited by the press release in India.

Shea’s third “Islamist” category,” however, was the largest threat in the WWL.  “Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries,” the press release noted, including India, where both Islam and Hinduism endangered Christianity from various quarters.  “This relatively small but virulent strain of ideology,” Curry assessed, “has made the Middle East the most perilous region of the world for Christians.”  “More than 70 percent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003,” the press release calculated, “and more than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since the civil war began in 2011.”  Bright red accordingly marked majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East and beyond on the WWL map, including Afghanistan and Iraq, two lands where the United States attempted with much blood and treasure to create stable, free societies.

For Shea, “intensifying persecution” of Christians in Muslim countries makes the word “so inadequate” that Shea prefers “religious cleansing” to describe a campaign of “total Islamization” eliminating non-Muslims.  Under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a “completion of religious cleansing” of Christians as well as Yazidis has occurred in western Iraq, Shea stated.  Absent effective remedies, a “2,000 year-old church will be completely gone,” part of an “attack on the entire Christian presence in the region.”

Iraqi Christians have fled to Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region, where Kurds have “put out a welcome mat” and demonstrated that not all Muslims are hostile.  Unlike half a million Muslims who have fled ISIS there as well, though, the Christians lack regional allies and often avoid United Nations camps where international aid deliveries and refugee registration occur.  Accordingly, Iraqi Christians are suffering a “humanitarian crisis so dire” that it is an “existential threat,” Shea warned.

Referencing Sudan and Iran’s Islamic republics, Shea worried about “extremist influences being mainstreamed” in society and government beyond jihadist groups like ISIS.  The Iraqi government in the past, for example, marginalized Christians, who were therefore “dealt out of the deck” in the distribution of American aid.  Governments in Muslim countries likewise often turn a “blind eye and deaf ear” to persecution of Christians by private actors.

In particular, Saudi Arabia, a “towering figure within Islam” with oil resources, regional Gulf predominance, and control over Islam’s holy sites, has been “very counterproductive” by “spreading an ideology of hatred.”  Thus Saudi textbooks demonize non-Muslims and advocate “violent jihad” in Islam’s name.  As a result, “Saudi Arabia did create its own monster” in ISIS, a group Saudi Arabia has now attacked with air strikes, Shea observed.

Shea identified five “red flags” that characterize the “crime against humanity” of “religious cleansing,” elements taken together that are “greater than the sum of their parts.”  “Forcible conversion,” for example, presented Christians with Islamic law’s traditional trinity of choosing between death, conversion to Islam, or acceptance of “medieval dictates” in a “second-class citizenship.”  Nigeria’s Boko Haram “ruthlessly…applied” these alternatives during door to door searches of villages.  Laws also punished blasphemy and apostasy in Muslim countries such as Pakistan, whose “strictest black letter law” in this matter gave a “license to kill” to Muslim vigilantes.  Targeted assassination of Christian leaders, abductions, and targeted attacks on churches completed Shea’s list.

Like Curry, though, Shea assured that “prominent Muslim voices” and the “majority of Muslims” oppose religious persecution.  Shea asserted that Middle Eastern Christians “have long coexisted with the Muslim majority” in the region.  By contrast, Shea described as “extremists” the perpetrators of the Paris Charlie Hebdo jihad attacks on the very day of her remarks.

Yet the widespread, often state-based Muslim persecution of Christians noted by Shea and the WWL seemed to belie Shea’s confidence and suggest problems larger than a radical minority.  Various Middle Eastern Christians, meanwhile, have consistently contradicted Shea in discussions with this reporter (see here, here, and here).  In their experience, faith-based Islamic repression of Christians has marked the region since its eighth century Arab-Muslim conquest.

Queried about Muslim religious tolerance advocates, Shea cited interfaith activist Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal from Jordan and Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.  The latter, Shea noted, has “not encouraged any kind of eradication of Christianity” in his country and has “condemned the attacks on the churches.”  Shea, however, professed ignorance when this reporter mentioned past criticism of Sistani as a “false moderate.”  Sistani, for example, has supported sharia in Iraq, has advocated executing homosexuals, and has expressed anti-Semitic, anti-Christian sentiments against these non-Muslims and their “impurity.”

Similarly asked about moderate Muslims, Curry responded that “I don’t have any names off the top of my head.”  “We have not yet seen a major movement of moderate Muslims to condemn the teachings and ideologies” of groups like ISIS, Curry stated, his professions of a “relatively small” Islamic extremism notwithstanding.  Moderate Muslims “themselves will become a target” of jihadists by advocating for Christians and other persecution victims.

Shea bemoaned Christian persecution as an “ignored human rights crisis” in America among policymakers while “even our religious leaders are far too quiet” on the matter.  “The world still does not get it,” Curry concurred, and called the WWL a “wakeup call” for Christians to notice a “genocide going on.”  No country on the WWL has improved in recent years, Curry stated in an interview, “it’s only gotten worse.”

Shea criticized that secularized American leaders struggle to comprehend a “strong religious belief” in an “extremist version of Islam.”  Voice of America reporter Jerome Socolovsky, previously criticized for obligingly benign views on Islam, similarly seemed to exhibit at the event such incomprehension.  Socolovsky asked Shea whether American domestic respect for Islam, shown by opposition to mosque vandalism or interfaith events like the National Cathedral’s Muslim prayer service, could influence Muslims worldwide.  Shea countered that “there is no comparison” between Muslims protected by American law and often brutal Christian persecution abroad.  “Gestures” like those at the National Cathedral would also not “make a difference whatsoever” among ISIS jihadists and others.

The Nigerian Damaris Atsen gave personal witness at the briefing to the trials and tribulations of modern persecuted Christian faith.  Boko Haram terrorists in March 2010 seized her husband riding home from work and stomped him to death by the road, leaving Atsen widowed with four children, “gifts from the Lord.”  Romans 8:35 (“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”) “always encourages me” that the “spirit of the Lord is there” during her times of mourning, she said.  “I have to forgive,” she added while discussing her husband’s murderers.  “If I do not forgive, the Lord will not forgive me.”  “Pray for Nigeria,” she concluded.

Christians Burned Alive Muslim Persecution of Christians, November 2014

Gatestone Institute, by Raymond Ibrahim, January 10, 2015:

“They picked them up by their arms and legs and held them over the brick furnace until their clothes caught fire. And then they threw them [alive] inside the furnace.” — Javeed Maseeh, family spokesman, concerning a Christian couple in Pakistan murdered on rumors they had burned verses from the Qur’an.

“I would appeal to your honor to put pressure on the government of Pakistan to end misuse of blasphemy laws against Christians, Ahmadiyyia and other religious minorities and condition US Aid on human rights and repeal of blasphemy laws.” — From a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama by Dr. Nazir S. Bhutti, President of the Pakistan Christian Congress, expressing surprise that the U.S. did not even bother to condemn the burning of Christians alive.

East Jerusalem: Despite constant and ever bolder attacks on a church, police refuse to respond to pleas for help from the Christian congregation.

Denmark: Muslim refugees are persecuting Christian refugees. “Christian asylum seekers are repeatedly exposed to everything from harassment to threats and physical abuse….” — Niels Eriksen Nyman, 10news.dk

“Young Christian men are made scapegoats to show police performance, while the real culprits are carrying out their illegal activities right under the police’s nose.” — Brother-in-law of “Mithu,” 35, Christian father of five, who was arrested in Pakistan on false charges and tortured to death in prison.

The youngest [slave] being the most expensive. 20-30 years old: 100,000 dinars [$86]; 10-20 years old: 150,000 dinars [$129]; 9 years old: 200,000 dinars [$172]. — The Islamic State.

The Islamic State called on its followers to take the jihad to Egypt.

Qaiser Ayub, a 40 year old professor of computer science in Pakistan, of Christian background, was arrested and charged with insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

Both in the Islamic world and the Western world, Muslims continued to attack and slaughter Christians.

In Pakistan, “A mob accused of burning alive a Christian couple in an industrial kiln in Pakistan allegedly wrapped a pregnant mother in cotton so she would catch fire more easily, according to family members who witnessed the attack,” reported NBC News:

Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, were set upon by at least 1,200 people after rumors circulated that they had burned verses from the Quran, family spokesman Javed Maseeh told NBC News via telephone late Thursday. Their legs were also broken so they couldn’t run away.

“They picked them up by their arms and legs and held them over the brick furnace until their clothes caught fire,” he said. “And then they threw them inside the furnace.”

Bibi, a mother of four who was four months pregnant, was wearing an outfit that initially didn’t burn, according to Javed Maseeh. The mob removed her from over the kiln and wrapped her up in cotton to make sure the garments would be set alight.

Shama Bibi (left) and Sajjad Maseeh, a Christian couple and parents of four children, were burned to death by a Muslim lynch mob in Pakistan because of a false blasphemy accusation.

Discussing this latest atrocity against Pakistan’s Christian minorities, an AFP report states:

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the majority Muslim country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.

Anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

A Christian woman [Asia Bibi] has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman.

An elderly British man with severe mental illness, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan in January, was shot by a prison guard last month.

Two days after the Christian couple were burned alive, a policeman in Pakistan hacked a man to death for allegedly making blasphemous remarks against Islam.

About the Christian couple, Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti, President of the Pakistan Christian Congress,wrote a letter to U.S. President Obama expressing surprise that the U.S. did not even bother to condemn this crime:

It is surprising that neither US Administration under your honor nor US State Department even bothered to condemn this horrific crime of burning live of Christian couple by a mob living in country named Islamic Republic of Pakistan which is receiving billions of aid of US taxpayers.

I would appeal your honor to put pressure on government of Pakistan to end misuse of blasphemy laws against Christian, Ahamadiyyia and other religious minorities and condition US Aid to Pakistan on human rights and repeal of blasphemy laws.

Meanwhile, in America itself, in Oklahoma, Jimmy Stepney, a Muslim, stabbed Jerome Bullock, a Christian, after Stepney had said that Muslims need to “step up” beheadings. According to Koco5 News:

The [police] report went on to say Stepney had been making comments about beheading people.

“We were watching the news,” said Bullock. “He said he felt like more Muslims need to step up to the plate and do certain thing. He was talking about beheading people.”

The severity of the plight of Christians in the Middle East was further underscored by Dr. Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, who wrote:

Russia is currently considering the possibility of initiating a draft decision of the UN Human Rights Council on the protection of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. Russian experts are now working on this document.[…]

The scale of the problems demands the coordination of international efforts to protect Christians in the Middle East.

Further initiatives, new measures and relevant discussions aimed at finding durable solutions in this regard are strongly needed. Of course, we believe that Europe, including the UK, should make its contribution to these efforts, taking into account the Christian roots of the European civilization, which are now often forgotten for the sake of political correctness.[…]

The fate of the region’s religious minorities is of the greatest concern. The mass exodus of Christians, who have been an integral part of the Middle Eastern mosaic for centuries, is particularly troubling.

The rest of November’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Bangladesh: Two Christian pastors from the Faith Bible Church of God were arrested for preaching the Gospel to Muslims . They could face two years in prison if convicted for “hurting religious sentiments” and luring Muslims to convert by offering them money. The pastors deny both charges. Police arrested the pastors and 41 other people, including Muslims, after a throng of Muslims disrupted a house meeting. According to a witness: “More than 100 Muslims headed by local Jamaat-e-Islami party members and Muslim clerics gathered at the house and started barking questions at the pastors—why did they propagate Christianity in the locality and convert some of them,” and who gave them permission to preach to Muslims. “The pastors replied that it did not take any permission from any authority to propagate any religion and convert people to any religion. Suddenly the Muslims became apoplectic with rage, tried to pick a fight and started jabbing the pastors’ faces.”

Egypt: Father Timothy Shakar, priest of St. Mina Church in Port Said, confirmed that two homemade bombs were planted near the St. Mina Church but caused no injuries, or losses of life or property. Police searched other churches in the region for more bombs.

Germany: Nine men who had earlier broken into, vandalized, and robbed several Christian churches in the Cologne area—including by stealing money from the collection boxes and liturgical vessels—were caught during a massive raid. Apparently, all of the arrested are German by nationality, but Muslim by background and heritage. Some were also identified as “Salafis”—especially fundamentalist Muslims—connected to international terrorist organizations. Some had even raised hundreds of thousands of Euros from native Germans to support overseas “charities,” the proceeds of which actually went to terrorist groups such as ISIS.

Iraq: As cries of “Allahu Akbar” emanated from surrounding mosques, Islamic State militants blew up yet another Christian church — St. George’s Church and its associated nunnery in the city of Mosul — along with other non-Sunni sites. Separately, after breaking the cross from off the dome of the St. Ephrem Church dome (before and after pictures here) and selling its pews and other furnishings, the IS transformed the church into a mosque and council seat for the jihadis.

East Jerusalem: Despite constant and ever bolder attacks on a church, police refuse to respond to pleas for help from the Christian congregation. According to Morning Star News, “The attacks, driven by both intent to seize property and opposition to Christianity, have been mounted by young men with ties to Palestinian militants who for more than three months have been trying to force Living Bread Church from its rented building. Church pastor Karen Dunham and others have filed at least eight police reports about the assaults.” The most recent incident took place on November 5, when the gas tank of a car owned by a church volunteer was filled with sugar. On November 2, a car owned by one of the pastor’s relatives was stolen. And on October 16, three American Christians were injured while trying to repair a metal security door:A crowd of Palestinian men attacked them with box cutters, sticks, clubs and pepper spray. According to the church’s attorney, authorities “have their [the assailants’] pictures, they have their names, they even have their national ID numbers, and still they do nothing…. The level of brute force compared to the level of lack of response of the police force there is pretty shocking…. It almost seems like if someone is going to go in and murder her [Dunham], that no one is going to lift a finger.”

Malaysia: Approximately 70 local residents in Petaling Jaya protested the construction of a church. They claimed the growing number of Christian places of worship in the area is part of an attempt to evangelize and convert Muslims to Christianity. An NGO, the local branch of Pertubuhan Sahabat, supported the claims of the Muslims. They argued that there are three churches in the vicinity, although close to 70 percent of the residents in the area are Muslims. According to a spokesman, “Even before the church is built, flyers on Christianity have been distributed to our homes, and this could confuse our children and divert them from the path of Islam.” The vacant plot was previously occupied by squatters, a car park and several food stalls. Another local Muslim added “None of our neighbours are Christians, we can vouch for that… it is an insult to Muslims to allow a church to be built here, but none of our representatives seem to have the time to listen to us.” One demonstrator hurled large rocks at the temporary steel fence around the vacant plot.

Jihadi Slaughter of Christians

Kenya: Members of neighboring Somalia’s Islamic group Al Shabaab—”the Youth”—hijacked a bus carrying 60 passengers in the town of Mandera, near Kenya’s border with Somalia. They singled out and massacred 28 non-Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom were Christian. According to an eyewitness, “When we got down, passengers were separated according to Somali and non-Somalis. The non-Somalis were ordered to read some verses of the holy Koran, and those who failed to read were ordered to lie down. One by one they were shot in the head at point blank range.”

Nigeria: On November 10, a suicide bomb attack on a Christian secondary school as students gathered for morning assembly killed at least 47 people. The Islamic group Boko Haram— meaning: “Western education is forbidden”—is believed to be behind the blast. In a separate incident, Christians from the predominantly Christian city of Mubi in Adamawa state were tortured and killed after Boko Haram took control of the town. Churches and homes were torched throughout the city, which was renamed Madinat al-Islam, or “the City of Islam.” In yet another separate incident, Boko Haram militants raided the mostly Christian town of Shani. According to a resident speaking to Reuters, “They rode on motorcycles and were more than 30 men. They started throwing bombs into houses… then the Boko Haram fired shots at people fleeing. They set ablaze the police station, houses and a telecom mast… I saw people fleeing, some bodies on the ground.” Reuters continues: “The Sunni jihadist movement is fighting to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in Nigeria’s north.”

Pakistani Persecution

A few days after the Christian couple, mentioned earlier, was burned alive, a 35-year-old Christian father of five known as “Mithu” was arrested on false charges by police and tortured to death in prison. According to the deceased’s brother-in-law: “It was a fake allegation, because the raiding party failed to recover any contraband from Mithu’s person and his house… On the morning of Nov. 22, we were informed by Ilyas Gill, a local councilor, that Mithu had died in police custody because of heart failure…. Young Christian men are made scapegoats to show police performance while the real culprits are carrying out their illegal activities right under the police’s nose.” Morning Star News adds: “Area police routinely round up young, impoverished Christians on false charges of drug peddling and bootlegging, and then force their families to pay heavy bribes in return for their release… family elders had seen signs of torture on the body…”

Christian families in a Punjabi village were forced to flee after a Christian man married a Muslim woman—an act forbidden by Islamic law. According to the Pakistani report, “The Muslims in this village became enraged when this occurred and began threatening them…. When the news of the marriage was learned, the Muslims in Sahiwal attacked Shahab’s [the Christian husband’s] family as well as other Christian families in the village. The Muslims demanded that Ruksana [the Muslim wife] be returned immediately, according to Sharia which prohibits Muslim women from marrying a man from another religion…. the entire Muslim community was threatening to kill Shahab’s father and all of the village’s Christians…. The Christians’ pleas for help from the local police were all in vain.”

And Qaiser Ayub, a 40-year-old professor of Christian background, was arrested and charged with insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad. The computer science professor had been a fugitive avoiding the police since 2011, when he was first accused of having written blasphemous comments on his blog.

Dhimmitude: Generic Contempt and Hostility

Denmark: In an apparent replication of the Islamic world’s modus operandi, Muslim refugees in the European nation are persecuting Christian refugees. According to 10news.dk, “Christian asylum seekers are repeatedly exposed to everything from harassment to threats and physical abuse by other refugees in the asylum centers, simply because they have converted from Islam to Christianity.” According to Niels Eriksen Nyman, who led the study, “There are certainly many more cases around the country than the ones we hear about in the church. I hate to say it, but I’m afraid that on some of the asylum centers there are some very unhealthy control mechanisms when the staff turns their back… I refuse to support Islamophobia, but we have a serious problem here.” Two recent examples: “An eight year old Christian at the Center Sandholm was bullied and beaten by the larger Arab boys on their way to school. Now the boy nolonger [sic] dares to go to school. On the island Bornholm, somebody had tampered with a Christian asylum seeker’s bike so that he crashed and broke both hands.”

Egypt: The Islamic State called on its followers to take the jihad to Egypt. Abu Mus’ab al-Maqdisi, a leader in the Islamic State, said in a statement titled “Advice to Egypt’s Mujahidin” that “It is necessary to take the battle to Cairo, until the Sinai is safeguarded from the apostates [reference to Egyptian government] and becomes a rear base [qaeda] from which to expand the jihad.” He also called on the jihadis in Egypt to “target the Copts,” the nation’s indigenous, Christian minority: “For targeting them, following them, and killing them is one of the main ways to serve the cause of our virtuous male and female hostages of the tyrants.”

Iraq: Christian homes in Tel Isqof were looted by Kurds who, after fighting the Islamic State, took control of the area on August 17. According to Agenzia Fides, “The city of Tel Isqof was occupied on August 7 by jihadist militias who already in June had conquered Mosul. Faced with the advancing of jihadists, the civilian population, mainly Christians, had fled to the autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, leaving the city deserted. Ten days later [on August 17], with a counter-offensive the Kurdish Peshmerga had regained control of the city. But it is precisely since then that [Christian] residents periodically return to the city to check the status of their homes, and acknowledge that the doors of a growing number of homes and businesses have been forced and property looted: money and jewelry, technical equipment and electronic instruments.” As in the Islamic State, most Kurds are Sunni Muslims.

Islamic State: IS issued a document breaking down the purchase prices of Christian and Yazidi women being sold as sex-slaves. Apparently these enslaved unfortunates are priced based on age— the youngest being the most expensive. The breakdown is as follows (with USD equivalency in brackets): 40-50 years old: 50,000 dinars [$43]; 30-40 years old: 75,000 dinars [$64]; 20-30 years old: 100,000 dinars [$86]; 10-20 years old: 150,000 dinars [$129]; 9 years old: 200,000 dinars [$172].

Spain: Real Madrid, a professional football (soccer) team, stripped the traditional Christian cross from its club crest as part of a deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. “It is believed the European champions’ new crest, minus the Christian cross, was created so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates, where a marketing drive will take place,” wrote the Telegraph. Club president Florentino Perez said, “This agreement will help the club to keep conquering the hearts of followers in the United Arab Emirates.”

Syria: As of November, Raqqa, which once had approximately 1,500 Christian families, had only 23 Christian families remaining in it—the others were driven out or killed by the Islamic State. Those few remaining were unable to leave the city for lack of resources or for reasons of age and health. On November 16 they were told that they must pay $535, an exorbitant sum(human sex-slaves are being sold for as little as $43). “In all likelihood Christian families, impoverished by the war, will not be able to pay the tax and will have to leave their homes” or convert to Islam, as many elderly, debilitated Christians unable to flee have already done.

About this Series

While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians is expanding. “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month.

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

It posits that such persecution is not random but systematic, and takes place in all languages, ethnicities and locations.

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

Christians and Churches Attacked in the West: Muslim Persecution of Christians, September 2014

by Raymond Ibrahim
December 24, 2014

You have a cross on… Do you know what we do to people like you?” — Muslim in Denmark.

Muslim Fulani gunmen forced their way into the church, cut [the pastor], his wife and a daughter with a machete, and then tied the hands and feet of the three of them before setting the building on fire… We only found the charred remains of the three of them in the morning. I heard them shouting at the top of their voices, saying they must obliterate any traces of Christianity in the town.” — Eyewitness account, Nigeria.

Each year, approximately 1,000 women in Pakistan are forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Whenever a case of this nature reaches the law courts, those women, under threat and blackmail, often declare that their conversion and marriage were decisions freely made, and the case is closed.

The Muslim persecution of Christians in September started making prominent appearances not just in the Islamic world, but also in the West—in America, Australia and Europe.

In the United States, in Columbus, Indiana, three churches were vandalized on the same night. The words most frequently sprayed were “Infidels!” and “Koran 3:151.” The verse from the Koran states, “We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve [or “infidels”] for what they have associated with Allah [reference to Christian Trinity] of which He had not sent down [any] authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.”

Father Doug Marcotte of Saint Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, one of those vandalized, said, “There’s a lot of bad stuff being done in the name of Allah and so when people see this happening in Columbus, whether that was truly the person’s intent or there’s something else going on, it makes people nervous. It makes people upset. It makes them scared.”

Meanwhile, in Australia, AAP reported that “Church-goers in Sydney’s west have been left shaken after a stranger shouted death threats from a car bearing the Islamic State flag. The car drove past Our Lady of Lebanon Church at Harris Park on Tuesday and witnesses claim it had a flag similar to those brandished by Islamic State jihadists hanging out the window.” A church official said the people in the car threatened to “kill the Christians” and slaughter their children: “They were strong words and people were scared of what they saw.” Witnesses saw a flag outside the window with the words, “There is only one god and Muhammad is the prophet.” And as happens frequently in Muslim-majority nations, police security was later dispatched to patrol the Harris Park church while hundreds partook of the mass inside.

People in a car bearing a jihadist flag verbally abused parishioners at the Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Sydney, Australia in September, threatening to “kill the Christians” and slaughter their children.

In Denmark—2013’s “happiest country in the world“—Christians of Middle Eastern backgrounds continued to experience “harassment, verbal attacks and in some cases direct violence from Muslims,” reports TV2, especially in Muslim-majority areas, such as Nørrebro. One Christian, “Jojo,” born in Denmark of Lebanese parents, shared her experiences. Once when sitting in her parked car, several Muslims surrounded it, harassing her about her Western attire. When one of them noticed she was wearing a cross, he said “Well, you have a cross on—then you are also a Christian f***ing whore. Do you know what we do to people like you? Do you know what we do to people like you? You get stoned [to death].”

Another Christian woman of Iranian background recounted how she and her son are harassed on the Muslim-majority block where they live—and where she stands out for not wearing ahijab, the Islamic veil: “My son is being called everything. I get called all sorts of things. Infidel. Filthy Christians. They tell me I ought to be stoned to death. My son was beaten at the bus stop. He was called pig, dirty potato (Muslim slang for Danes), and that ‘you and your mother should die.”‘

Islamic dreams of conquering Europe were prevalent. A senior analyst in Spain warned that, because Islamists see the Iberian peninsula as being “under Spanish and Portuguese occupation,” greater risk of terrorism exists there than in other Western areas. Because Iberia—or, in Arabic, Al-Andalus—was under Islamic domination for centuries, many Muslims consider it part of the Islamic world, or Dar al-Islam, which needs to be reconquered, no less than Israel, also seen as occupied Islamic territory.

More pointedly, in the Islamic State [IS], in a lengthy message partially addressed to the “crusaders”—a reference to the West—some members declared, “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah.” Members of the IS also invoked a statement attributed to Muhammad, that Constantinople would be conquered before Rome—and it was, in 1453. The implication was that the Eternal City of Rome would be next.

Around the same time, Rome responded by rejecting a motion to name a street after the late Oriana Fallaci, a veteran journalist who had once written that, “the Muslim world is attempting to conquer the West in the name of Islam.” In explaining their decision, local politicians described Fallaci’s writings as containing “religious hatred,” or “Islamophobia.”

In Canada, while 80 special Muslims went to the trouble of attending a Muslim rally on behalf of persecuted Christians, sadly, another rally, an extremist Al Quds Day Anti-Israel Hate Fest, drew approximately 6,000 participants.

The rest of September’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Muslim Attacks on Churches

East Jerusalem: A Christian church was attacked numerous times: On September 29, young Muslim men, with ties to a Palestinian militant group, wired shut the door of the Living Bread Church and sprayed a gaseous substance at those inside. An earlier gas attack had already occurred on September 17. Hours before the second attack, someone threw a rock through one of the windows of the church, and the day before that, Sunday, September 28, a Palestinian and others assaulted a church member as he was emptying trash into a dumpster outside the church.

On Sept. 21, a Palestinian militant, without warning, ran up behind a church leader, Karen Dunham, and knocked her to the pavement: “This guy charged me as fast as he could,” she said. “He came up behind me and just slammed into my back, and I fell and I hit the ground. My face is bruised. There’s bruises on the side of my cheek, on my face, on my head, on my knee, cuts on my head, and my wrist was fractured.”

Egypt: A Christian priest in Egypt appealed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to intervene on behalf of yet another church being threatened by “religious extremists.” So far, local authorities have done nothing. Four years ago, the Coptic Church of St. Abram in Shubra al-Khaima received a permit to build an additional building. During those same four years, seven “thugs”—in the words of the report—have prevented it from being built. The “thugs” had mobilized local Muslims to threaten and demonstrate against the church. “The priest lamented that ‘after suffering many long years’ they finally managed to acquire the permit to build, but then the next obstacle presented itself in the person of the aforementioned seven ‘thugs’ who constantly harass, and incite Muslim mobs, against the church, whenever it tries to exercise its right to build the services building. Islamic law forbids the building of new churches or the renovation of existing churches.”

Iraq: Islamic State militants “completely destroyed” the ancient Green Church in Tikrit. They packed the church with explosives and detonated them — completely destroying the ancient church, which belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East. Almost from the time it was built in the seventh century, when Islam overran Iraq, the church had been attacked, ransacked, and destroyed by Muslim rulers and others, but was restored on the orders of Iraq’s late President Saddam Hussein in the 1990s.

Nigeria: Many more churches and a Christian university, Kulp Bible College, were forced to shut down as a result of the advances of the Islamic jihadi group, Boko Haram. In one instance, a pastor reported that “Boko Haram violence has been getting worse every day, and our members are fleeing the area by the thousands. Recent attacks in Borno and Adamawa states where our churches are located have seen Boko Haram take over the Army base. As a result, about 350 Christians have been killed.”

Separately, in Kaduna state, where “Muslim Fulani assailants seem driven to rid the area of Christianity and use the land to graze their cattle,” according to church leaders, 46 Christians, including two pastors, were slaughtered in raids. According to an eyewitness,

“Suddenly we heard sounds of gunshots around our village. The pastor was still in the pastorate when the Muslim Fulani gunmen forced their way onto the church premises. They cut him, his wife and a daughter with a machete, and then tied the hands and feet of the three of them before setting the house on fire. The three of them were burned to ashes in the living room of the pastorate. We only found the charred remains of the three of them the following morning…. The gunmen then came onto the church premises and began shooting. I heard them shouting at the top of their voices, saying they must obliterate any trace of Christianity in the town.”

Although Muslim Fulani have historically had property disputes with Christian farmers, Christian leaders say attacks by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

My Brief Discussion of Jihad, Sharia, & the Plight of Middle East Christians with Judge Jeanine Pirro

 

By Andrew Bostom, Dec. 28, 2014:

I am very grateful to Judge Jeanine Pirro that last night (Saturday, 12/27/14), the interview segments embedded above, were aired as part of her special on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The Judge was kind enough to display two of my books in the course of the exchanges, The Legacy of Jihad, and Sharia Versus Freedom—formally quoting from the latter.

My brief comments led off with a quote from Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406; elaborated below), a towering figure in Muslim intellectual history, on the Islamic religious obligation to wage jihad warfare. These remarks were in response to Judge Pirro’s citation of an observation by the late Sudanese Christian leader John Garang (via Sharia Versus Freedom) which complements Ibn Khaldun’s triumphal pronouncement, from the perspective of the hundreds of millions of non-Muslim victims of countless jihad campaigns, and their genocidal impact, since the advent of Islam, through ISIS’s current depredations (see here; here; here). In the midst of the jihad genocide against Sudan’s black southern Christians and animists by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government of northern Sudan, Garang (in 1999) queried, plaintively,

Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right of those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?

I also alluded to how ISIS’s jihad ravages epitomize a modern continuum that dates from the era of the “Islamic revival/Caliphate movements” during the late 19th century, particularly in India, which sought to bolster or replace the tottering Ottoman Empire/Caliphate. The Ottoman Caliphate’s dissolution in the World War I era was accompanied by a convulsive jihad genocide it committed against many of the very same Middle Eastern Christian (and Yazidi) populations targeted by ISIS, at present. Moreover, the Ottoman jihad genocide a century ago, was an order of magnitude larger than ISIS’s current jihadist onslaughts, and just as brutal and depraved, punctuated by massacres (which also “featured” beheadings, disembowelments, and crucifixions), pillage, enslavement (for harems, etc.), and deportations. Occurring largely between 1915-16 (and continuing through at least 1918), some one million Armenian, and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered, or starved to death during forced deportations orchestrated by their Ottoman Muslim rulers, through arid wastelands. Also, like the ISIS campaigns of today, the Ottoman jihadist rampages were aided and abetted by local Muslim populations, who were often the most aggressive perpetrators of atrocities and pillaging against their erstwhile non-Muslim “neighbors.”

The six centuries of Ottoman rule, and its final mass acts of jihad carnage while collapsing, marked the end of an historical process (best chronicled by Bat Ye’or; see below)—whose main instrument was jihad war—whereby indigenous, vast majority, pre-Islamic Christian societies were reduced to the small, vestigial remnant Christian minority populations being further decimated and displaced by ISIS, perhaps with finality. That is why I concluded by stating frankly Western societies must grant refuge to Christians from these beleaguered populations after more than a century of utterly futile Western efforts—diplomatic and military alike—to halt the decimation of Middle Eastern Christianity.

The brief extract I read a {see bracketed portion} of Ibn Khaldun’s discussion of jihad for this Christmas special, is reproduced below in full. Focus upon what this monumental Muslim intellectual also stated about Christianity because it reflects timeless, bigoted Islamic attitudes toward the Christian faith, and Christian peoples.

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 C.E.), was a north African Muslim jurist, philosopher, historian, and sociologist. One of his historical works, The Muqaddimmah (“Introduction to History”) fuses all the elements of his scholarship. As described by the highly venerated Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam, The Muqaddimmah, which deals “with all branch of Arab sciences and culture,” to this day, “remains, as regards the depth of thought, clearness of exposition and correctness of judgment undoubtedly the most important work of the age, which seems to be surpassed by no other Muslim author.” Currently, at American University in Washington, D.C., for example, the Chair of its Islamic Studies Program, is called the Ibn Khaldun Chair. Ibn Khaldun’s The Muqaddimmah proclaims,

{In the Muslim community, the holy war (jihad) is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.} Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in (Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs in (other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all. (Among them,) royal authority comes to those who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before, and not because they are under obligation {to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam.} They are merely required to establish their religion among their own (people).

In a related discussion from this same section, [31] Remarks on the words “Pope” and “Patriarch” in the Christian religion and on the word “Kohen” used by the Jews.] Ibn Khaldun continues,

…among the Christians with regard to their religion and to Christology… [w]e do not think that we should blacken the pages of this book with discussion of their dogmas of unbelief. In general, they are well known.All of them are unbelief. This is clearly stated in the noble Quran.(To) discuss or argue those things with them is not up to us. It is (for them to choose between) conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death.

Ibn Khaldun’s summary formulation of jihad doctrine and the bigoted attitudes and brutal practices it engendered resonate across a continuum of over 13- centuries. From Muhammad’s proto-jihad ravages of the Christians (and Jews) of Arabia, through the lightning conquests of his four “Rightly Guided” Caliphate successors, and all the Arab and non-Arab Muslim Caliphates and dynasties thereafter, including the Ottoman Caliphate—and now in our immediate era, ISIS—the ugly consequences have been the same: massacre, pillage, enslavement, deportation, and/or chronic, oppressive imposition of the humiliating Sharia on surviving non-Muslims.

Almost a quarter century ago, my mentor, the brilliant, courageous, and indefatigable historian, Egyptian Jewess, Gisele Littman, nom de plume, Bat Ye’or (“Daughter of the Nile”), pleaded for the Muslim intelligentsia to acknowledge—and condemn—this living legacy. Bat Ye’or made these wistful observations (in, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 220, and p. 469 note 4, dating the original statement in French to September, 1990), which apply even more urgently today, albeit those Muslims to whom she appealed directly, let alone the Muslims masses, show precious little evidence they are prepared for such mea culpa-based reflection and reform:

[T]his effort cannot succeed without a complete recasting of mentalities, the desacralization of the historic jihad and an unbiased examination of Islamic imperialism. Without such a process, the past will continue to poison the present and inhibit the establishment of harmonious relationships. When all is said and done, such self-criticism is hardly exceptional. Every scourge, such as religious fanaticism, the crusades, the inquisition, slavery, apartheid, colonialism, Nazism and, today, communism, are analyzed, examined, and exorcized in the West. Even Judaism – harmless in comparison with the power of the Church and the Christian empires- caught, in its turn, in the great modernization movement, has been forced to break away from some traditions. It is inconceivable that Islam, which began in Mecca and swept through three continents, should alone avoid a critical reflection on the mechanisms of its power and expansion. The task of assessing their history must be undertaken by the Muslims themselves.

Nigeria Teeters on the Brink: 8 Terrifying Trends

bokoPJ Media, By Patrick Poole, December 18, 2014:

For much of its five-year long insurgency in Nigeria costing thousands of lives, Boko Haram enjoyed no sanction by the U.S. government. That changed just over a year ago when they were finally designated a terrorist organization by the State Department.

That notwithstanding, Boko Haram continues to expand its terror campaign across the north of the country, now controlling an area the size of Maryland.

On the other side of the conflict is the hapless administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, which so far has been unable to mount any substantive opposition to Boko Haram’s advance. With presidential elections looming in February and with Jonathan most likely running for reelection, there appears to be no effective political counterweight that can put Nigeria on a course to mount a counter-offensive against Boko Haram.

The strategic stakes involved for the U.S. are extraordinary, but you would never be able to gauge that from the absence of any alarm from the Obama administration or from either side of the aisle in Congress. Not only does Nigeria have the continent’s largest population at 173 million and the largest economy in Africa, it also is the10th largest oil producer in the world.

With a failed Libyan state (thanks in no small part to the Obama administration), Egypt — the world’s largest Arab country — fighting its own counterinsurgency in the Sinai, and Islamist insurgencies inflamed from Nigeria to Kenya, the loss of Nigeria to jihadists could be the tipping point to lose the whole of Africa.

With those factors in mind, here are eight disturbing trends that warrant immediate attention for Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.

1) Religious cleansing of Christians is escalating: It’s remarkable that not even two years ago senior State Department officials were denying before Congress that there was any religious dimension to Boko Haram’s reign of terror.

Nigerian churches, which should be open and inviting, are now having to install crash barriers and metal detectors. And yet within just the past few months, more than 1,000 churches have been ransacked and burned, and hundreds of thousands of Christians are being driven from their homes.

For instance, in one October offensive in just two northeastern states, Boko Haram reportedly burned down 185 churches and forced 190,000 to flee. Last month they attacked Mubi, the second largest city in Adamawa state, killing hundreds and destroying as they went. Without the slightest hint of hypocrisy, Boko Haram renamed the city “Madinatul Islam,” meaning, “city of Islam and peace.”

2) Massive population displacement: According to a UN press release, the attack on Mubi displaced 13,000 Nigerians, who were forced to flee to neighboring Cameroon, which is struggling to accommodate nearly 50,000 Nigerian refugees and another 250,000 from the Central African Republic with extremely scarce resources. Another 100,000 refugees have fled to Niger, with 30,000 arriving just in the past two months. There’s no guarantee of safety in taking refuge in neighboring countries, as Boko Haram has staged cross-border attacks. Inside Nigeria, it was reported that 400,000 refugees are in the Yolo area, severely taxing the city’s resources. Overall, 1.5 million Nigerians have been displaced by the violence, with 650,000 in the northeast alone.

3) Disease and famine loom: The massive displacement has strained refugee centers past the breaking point. Conditions in the camps are universally reported to be unsanitary and breeding grounds for cholera and measles. Because resources are stretched so thin, most refugees are left to fend for themselves for shelter, food, and water. As winter begins to set in, observers on the ground I have spoken to in the past few weeks warn of possible mass starvation in the months ahead.

Food prices are high and most refugees left their homes with nothing and have no reliable income. Because of the security situation, few relief agencies have a permanent operating presence in the most heavily affected areas. UN and private relief agencies are requesting additional funds, and yet the Strategic Response Plan for Nigeria launched in February was just 14 percent funded by mid-November.

4) Power grab by Muslim militias: In recent weeks there have been efforts by Islamic authorities and the emirs to stand up Muslim militias in the north, ostensibly to fight Boko Haram. But there’s no guarantee that these militias will always be opposed to Boko Haram, particularly if they continue to advance against government forces (this has been true for rebel groups in Syria that were initially opposed to ISIS and other hardline jihadist groups, but ended up allying with or defecting to these same groups).

And it should be noted that Boko Haram has not been the only actor targeting Christians in the north. Muslim militias have been attacking Christian areas for years. Observers on the ground express concern that the real-world effect of these militias will be to create a parallel system to the Nigerian government and eventually grab power in the north. Many Muslims in the north would love to break away from the political influence and governmental control of the Nigerian government, where they are forced to share power with the Christian majority. Thus, many of these calls for Muslim militias by Islamic authorities are couched in openly anti-government rhetoric.

5) Targeting of children: When nearly 300 school girls were abducted from Chibok in April, it grabbed the world’s attention. Some were able to flee, but reportedly 219 remain captive. Last month, Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau said that the girls had converted to Islam and had been married off. When Boko Harm stormed the town of Lassa on December 3, they carried away 20 more girls.

But while girls are targeted for abduction, boys are targeted for killing. Just last month, dozens of young men were killed when a suicide bomber dressed as a student bombed a morning assembly. This targeting of school-age boys is a pattern for Boko Haram, such as when they attacked a boarding school in Yobe state back in February where boys were shot, had their throats slit, or were burned alive when their dorms were set on fire.

6) Women suicide bombers: Last Wednesday, two young girls in hijabs conducted a dual suicide bombing in a high-traffic textile market in Kano city, the largest city in the north. Another 13-year-old girl was found wearing an explosive vest just hours later. Boko Haram is using young female suicide bombers at an increasing and disturbing rate, thoughthis tactic is not isolated to their operations in Nigeria and has been endorsed elsewhere by preeminent Islamic scholars like Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The use of female suicide bombers requires security forces to target women as well as men, and then the terror group is able to use the “abuse” of women being searched as a propaganda ploy. What is especially troubling is a VICE News report last week that indicated that Boko Haram has dispatched 50 female suicide bombers in the hopes of inflicting 100,000 casualties.

7) Jihadist jail breaks: ISIS has used jail breaks to effective use in Iraq, busting out al-Qaeda operatives of the infamousAbu Ghraib prison last year and Mosul and Tikrit earlier this year. Those released have helped swell the terror group’s ranks. So too with Boko Haram, which staged a jail break earlier this month that released 300 prisoners, and one on Sunday that freed another 200. The BBC reported in November that Boko Haram jail breaks had at that time freed 2,251 prisoners, and that they had launched an attack on a French cement plant and recovered a large cache of dynamite that could be used for future jail breaks. With thousands of Boko Haram operatives and supporters presently in jails, along with hardened criminals conditioned to violence, targeting more jails will continue to swell their ranks.

8) Government impotence: One of the primary factors emboldening these power grabs has been the ineffectiveness of the Nigerian military to roll back Boko Haram’s gains. Relatively few small scale victories by government forces are overshadowed by continuing gains by Boko Haram. To mask the problem, the Nigerian government has issued a media blackout in many of these areas and imposed a moratorium on foreign media visas. While President Jonathan’s administration has come under fire for not adequately protecting its own people, it has seemed to be more concerned about its public relations in Washington, D.C. than in regaining the public trust of its own citizens.

A study published this week by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization found that Boko Haram was responsible for 801 deaths last month alone, with more people killed by terror attacks in Nigeria than in Syria or Afghanistan.

NBC News noted last week that Boko Haram’s violence is now on par with ISIS in Iraq, which is why in 2013 Nigeria climbed to fourth in the Global Terrorism Index, up from seventh in 2012 and twelfth in 2011. According to the Council on Foreign Relations tracker, the violence in Nigeria from May 2011 (when President Jonathan came into office) to November 2014 has claimed more than 26,000 lives. Now there are reports that Nigerian special forces have uncovered plans by Boko Haram to expand their attacks by targeting 25 communities in five different states.

But you would never know how desperate the situation is in Nigeria in light of the absence of any urgency or alarm from the Obama administration or from Congress.

It’s worth repeating: Congress had to drag a reluctant Clinton State Department kicking and screaming to get Boko Haram designated in November 2013. Members of Congress also discovered earlier this year that the Clinton State Department intentionally lied and downplayed the threat from Boko Haram, and worked to kill bills in both the House and the Senate calling for their designation in 2012.

At the same time, 21 American academics sent a letter to Hillary Clinton strongly arguing against Boko Haram’s designation in response to the Department of Justice’s National Security Division urging the State Department to do so.

But the November 2013 designation of Boko Haram and the offensives by ISIS in Syria and Iraq have allowed Congress to get distracted as well.

There are considerable national security and other strategic interests for the United States in Nigeria. But as the country teeters on the brink in the face of Boko Haram advances, Washington, D.C. is asleep at the wheel. The risks of inattention and inaction in Nigeria threaten to jeopardize the whole of Africa.

Islam: Built on the Blood of (Christian Child) Martyrs

IRAQ-UNREST-CHRISTIANSFrontpage, by Raymond Ibrahim, Dec. 9, 2014:

In a recent interview on CBN News, Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” tried to recount the horrific atrocities Christians in Iraq are suffering at the hands of the Islamic State.  After explaining how Christian minorities fled Baghdad to Ninevah when Islamic militants began terrorizing them and bombing their churches, White said:

Then one day, ISIS, the Islamic State, the Islamic caliphate came [to Ninevah] and they hounded all of them [Christians] out.   Not some, all f them.  And they killed huge numbers.  They chopped their children in half; they chopped their heads off.

It should be noted that the targeting of Christian children in Iraq goes back years before the creation of ISIS.  For example, in June 2008, a Canadian parliamentary committee heard about how “militant Muslims” were crucifying Christian children: “Since the war began in 2003, about 12 children, many as young as 10, have been kidnapped and killed, then nailed to makeshift crosses near their homes to terrify and torment their parents.”

During his interview, White offered the following, likely surreal to Western sensibilities, anecdote:

ISIS turned up and they said to the [Christian] children, “You say the words [shehada, convert to Islam], that you will follow Muhammad.”  And the children, all under 15, four of them, they said, “No, we love Jesus [Yesua].  We have always loved Jesus.  We have always followed Jesus.  Jesus has always been with us.”  They [ISIS] said, “Say the words!”  They [children] said, “No, we can’t.”  [White starts sobbing] They chopped all their heads off.  How do you respond to that?  You just cry.  They’re my children.   That is what we have been going through.  That is what we are going through.

As callous as it is to say, perhaps these faithful children are better off.  After all, ISIS members have been known to compel Christians to convert to Islam, and still cruelly hack their heads off—thus damning them twice.

Similarly, in one of his Facebook postings, White wrote:

Today’s Pictures are too awful to show.  You know I love to show photos but the photo I was sent today was the most awful I have ever seen.  A family of 8 all shot through the face laying in a pool of blood with their Bible open on the couch. They would not convert it cost them their life.

During his CBN interview, White also told of how ISIS members came to a Christian man saying, “Either you convert to Islam or we kill all your children.”  The desperate father declared the words, the shehada, that “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” thus becoming a Muslim.  Contrite at heart, he phoned White crying, “Abouna, abouna [father, father] I said the words! Does that mean Jesus doesn’t love me anymore?  I’ve always loved Jesus but I said those words because I couldn’t see my children being killed!”

White responded: “No Elias, Jesus still loves you—he will always love you.”

The two types of anecdotes offered by White—Christians refusing to embrace Islam and dying for it, and Christians embracing Islam under duress—are an integral part of how the “Islamic world,” the majority of which was almost entirely Christian before the Islamic conquests, came into being: a historic fact Western people were once well acquainted with, before the current age of political correctness and alternate realities.

A historic anecdote that combines the twain—forced conversion to Islam followed by Christian remorse—comes from Egypt:

In 1389, a great procession of Copts who had accepted Muhammad under fear of death, marched through Cairo.  Repenting of their apostasy, they now wished to atone for it by the inevitable consequence of returning to Christianity. So as they marched, they announced that they believed in Christ and renounced Muhammad. They were seized and all the men were beheaded one after another in an open square before the women. But this did not terrify the women; so they, too, were all martyred. (Crucified Again, pgs. 113-114)

First forced to convert and then forced to remain in Islam—both on pain of death: these are two facts of Islam, past and present; facts that, according to top ranking Islamic cleric Sheikh Qaradawi are responsible for the existence of Islam today.  Just ask  Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim, Egypt’s Muhammad Hegazy, or Iran’s (rather America’s forsaken) Saeed Abedini.

Aside from the numerous historic accounts of Christians slaughtered for refusing Islam—whether 100,000 Georgian beheaded or burned alive, or a “mere” 813 Italians beheaded—Christians are still being forced to convert to Islam, and not just at the hands of ISIS:

•Palestine, July 2012: Christians in Gaza protested over the “kidnappings and forced conversions of some former believers to Islam.”  The ever-dwindling Christian community banged on a church bell while chanting, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”

•Pakistan:  In 2004, a-two-year old child was raped because her Christian father “refused to convert to Islam.”  Another “devoted Christian” was butchered by Muslim men “with multiple axe blows [24 per autopsy] for refusing to convert to Islam.” In April 2014, A Muslim security guard murdered a Christian worker who refused to convert to Islam.

•Uganda, July 2014: After a gang of Muslims brandishing machetes stormed a church during service, hacking one 18-year-old woman to death and leaving three others, including a one-year-old baby, injured, the pastor explained that the attackers belong to a local “group of Muslims” which seeks “to transform [Christian-majority] Uganda into an Islamic nation and would kill anyone who refused to convert.”

•Nigeria, May 2014: A Christian teenage girl told of how Boko Haram came to her household and slaughtered her father and brother because they refused to convert to Islam.  After abusing her, they tied her up and left her in a state of shock between the two corpses.

•Bangladesh, October 2013:  After shutting down the construction of a church, a local government official threatened Christians with eviction from their village unless they renounced their faith and embraced Islam.  Said one of the Christians: “Their threats chilled me to the bone. That is why I pretended to accept Islam, but faith in Christ is the wellspring of my life.” Another said: “The chairman is clipping the wings of our faith. I do not know how long we can grin and bear it. We want religious freedom. We want to practice our religion freely.”

•Russia, 2013: In Tatarstan, a Muslim-majority republic in Russia, seven churches were burned and “increased pressure on Christians to convert to Islam” was widespread.

•Uzbekistan, August 2012: A 26-year-old Christian woman, partially paralyzed from youth, and her elderly mother were violently attacked by invaders who ransacked their home, confiscating “icons, Bibles, religious calendars, and prayer books.” At the police department, the paralyzed woman was “offered to convert to Islam.” She refused and was accordingly fined almost two years’ worth of her wages.

Pakistan, Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Palestine, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh: these are not “ISIS.”  Yet Christians there are experiencing the same intolerance and violence that Christians under ISIS are experiencing.

The lesson?  If all around the Muslim world Christian minorities are being forced to embrace Islam, the very least the non-Muslim world can do is embrace the fact that Islam is inherently hostile—a costly lesson that countless innocents have been paying for nearly 1,400 years.

Raymond Ibrahim on TruNews with Rick Wiles

ibrahimbook_s640x427Raymond Ibrahim:

Last week I was interviewed by Rick Wiles on TruNews. Topics dealt with the Islamic State, Christian persecution, and the Obama administration. The interview can be heard below; it starts around the 9:30 mark:

Mechric Asks Church to Remove Jihadist-Linked Nihad Awad of CAIR

20140413_CAIRNIHADAWAD_LFamily Security Matters:

MECHRIC, the largest coalition of Middle East Christian NGOs in the United States and internationally asked the Archbishop to remove Nihad Awad, the director of Islamist group CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) from a coalition said to be aimed at helping Christian minorities in the Middle East. MECHRIC said “Middle East Christian minorities are offended by having Nihad Awad and his Islamist group CAIR claim they are part of a coalition in defense of Christian minorities.” MECHRIC argued that Awad and his group are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a terror organization in Egypt and other Arab countries, linked to Hamas, and part of a bigoted campaign against Middle East Christians in the US and worldwide.  

Following is the text of the letter, with copies sent to many members of Congress:

Nov 4th 2014

Archbishop Atallah Hanna
Archbishop of Sebastia,
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
P.O. Box 14518, Jerusalem 91145
Re: interfaith Coalition to Protect Christians

Dear Bishop Hanna:

We have learned that you have sponsored the formation of an “interfaith coalition to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.” We are troubled by the fact that among the NGOs and activists invited to join the coalition are a number of Islamist and pro-Jihadi groups whose agenda has been and continues to be hostile to the freedom and survival of Christian and other minorities in the Middle East.

Among the activists you have included is Nihad Awad, the President of the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR), which is an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Terrorism case and is not the civil rights organization it claims to be. For more than a decade, CAIR members and former members have been indicted, and some are serving jail sentences, for terrorism cases successfully brought against them. The Islamist organization is considered by experts as a front to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has inspired leading members of al Qaeda and ISIS (Daesh) and has been put on terror lists by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. Several members of Congress, including the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Pete King, and the Chairwoman of the subcommittee on Intelligence, Rep. Sue Myrick, have considered CAIR an extremist Islamist organization. There are bills introduced in the US House of Representatives calling for identifying the Muslim Brotherhood as a Terror organization.

CAIR has attacked Middle East Christian leaders across America, including Copts such as Dr. Shawki Karas, Lebanese Christians, as well as Iraqi and Syrian Christians while also waging smear campaigns against prominent Middle East experts for raising the issue of persecution of minorities in the Middle East. CAIR stood with the oppressive regimes against Christians and other sectors of civil societies and backed the genocidal regime of Sudan headed by the ICC indicted General Omar Bashir. CAIR backs the Muslim Brotherhood, who in Egypt has been responsible for attacks against Christian Copts and in Libya backed the Jihadi forces responsible for violence against civilians. But even more dangerous, CAIR politically backs the Islamists and the Jihadists who in Syria and in Iraq have persecuted Christians. Some of these factions joined the Islamic State known as ISIS, which has perpetrated war crimes and crimes against Humanity in Mosul, the Nineveh Plain, and Sinjar against Christians and Yazidis.

CAIR and its executive director Nihad Awad have been notorious for suppressing educational programs, both in the public and private sectors, aimed at informing the American public about the persecution of Christian minorities in the Greater Middle East. Awad and his acolytes have politically harassed writers and intellectuals, academics who have been raising the issue of persecution of religious minorities and have become the main obstructers of truth about this persecution. In a sense, Awad and CAIR, by being supportive of the Jihadists and the Islamists and by suppressing the voices defending the persecuted Christians, actually bear some moral responsibility for the persecution and violence against Christians in the Middle East.

It would be unthinkable and unbearable for Middle East Christians and Yazidis to see a so-called interfaith Coalition presided by a Church official, partnering with haters of Middle East Christians and bigots against oppressed Middle East minorities

We therefore, as representatives of the Middle East Christian Committee MECHRIC, representing the largest coalition of Americans from Middle East Christian descent, including Copts, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Maronites, Melkites and other groups, as well as Yazidis, ask you to remove Nihad Awad and any Islamist militant from your coalition immediately. Our communities have been offended by the presence of pro-Jihadists in a coalition claiming to help Middle East Christians and other minorities.

Sincerely,

John Hajjar, on behalf of the Middle East Christian Committee MECHRIC

Executive Committee

 

CC: Members of Congress (Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees in House and Senate)

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman,

Senator Bob Corker, Ranking-

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator John McCain

Senator Lindsey Graham

House committee on Foreign Affairs

Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member

Sub-committees the Middle East and North Africa

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman

Rep. Theodore E. Deutch , Ranking Member

Sub-Committee on Terrorism

Rep. Ted Poe , Chairman

Rep. Brad Sherman, Ranking Member

Committee on Home land security

Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman

Sub-committee on counter terrorism and Intelligence

Rep. Peter T. King, Chairman-

Rep. Chris Smith

Rep. Louie Gohmert

“We Need Your Head”: Muslim Persecution of Christians, July 2014

By Raymond Ibrahim:

“The United States did not come out to say anything about Boko Haram. They kept talking about economic problem. That is not true… The United States deliberately ignored the fundamental issues of religious ideology.” — Nicholas Okoh, Primate, Church of Nigeria

A judge in Iran sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burnt with a cigarette for eating during the day in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A church member added that members of the Muslim group had said they wanted to transform Uganda into am Islamic nation and would kill anyone who refused to convert.

The purge of ancient Christian communities throughout Iraq that started in June culminated in great intolerance in July.

Among other Islamic attacks, a Christian church that had stood Iraq for 1,800 years — a church that was erected less than 200 years after Christ — was reportedly torched by the Islamic State, according to countless news agencies, including Al Arabiya.

A fire rages in the compound of Mosul’s 1800 year-old church, July 2014.

Islamic State jihadis also stormed and took over an ancient monastery in northern Iraq. St. Behnam monastery had stood since the fourth century and was one of Iraq’s best-known Christian landmarks. It was built by an Assyrian king as a penance for executing his children Behnam and Sarah for converting to Christianity.

The jihadis expelled its few monks; they said, “You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately.” The monks pled to be allowed to save some of the monastery’s ancient relics, but the jihadis refused and ordered them to walk miles along a deserted road with nothing but their clothes.

The Islamic State issued a July 19 deadline for Mosul’s Christians either to convert to Islam or face execution. Islamic State members also singled out Christian homes by placing the Arabic letter for “N” — based on the Arabic word Nasara, or “Nazarenes,” the Koran’s pejorative for Christians — on the sides of their homes. The result, in the words of Patriarch Louis Sako, is that, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

In response to the Islamic State’s latest atrocities against Iraq’s Christian minorities, the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, George Saliba, denounced not just the Islamic State but Muslims in general for their long “history of violence and oppression against Christians”:

What is happening in Iraq is a strange thing, but it is normal for Muslims, because they have never treated Christians well, and they have always held an offensive and defaming stand against Christians…. We used to live and coexist with Muslims, but then they revealed their canines [teeth]…. [They don’t] have the right to storm houses, steal and attack the honor of Christians. Most Muslims do this; the Ottomans killed us and after that the ruling nation-states understood the circumstances but always gave advantage to the Muslims. Islam has never changed…

Islamic organizations responded by denouncing the Syriac bishop’s words as “hateful” and Islamophobic, demanding an apology.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made some telling remarks concerning the plight of Christians, especially in those Mideast countries the U.S. is involved in. When asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church USA’s decision to withdraw $21 million worth of investments from Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people, the prime minister said:

You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice; one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.

The rest of July’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Read it all at Gatestone Institute

USA Policy on Nigeria – See No Jihad, Hear No Jihad, Say No Jihad

J. Peter Pham PhD of the Atlantic Center; Emmanuel Ogebe of Jubilee; Anselm John-Miller of the Movement for Ogoni People; and Robin Renee Sanders former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria. Note the Nigerian Ambassador seated behind Mr. Ogebe. http://jubileecampaign.org/congressional-hearing-on-boko-haram-and-the-continued-violence-in-nigeria/

J. Peter Pham PhD of the Atlantic Center; Emmanuel Ogebe of Jubilee; Anselm John-Miller of the Movement for Ogoni People; and Robin Renee Sanders former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria. Note the Nigerian Ambassador seated behind Mr. Ogebe. http://jubileecampaign.org/congressional-hearing-on-boko-haram-and-the-continued-violence-in-nigeria/

Obama Administration can find no jihad in murders and kidnappings in the name of Islam in Nigeria

By Andrew Harrod:

American Nigerian policy is to “see no jihad, hear no jihad, say no jihad,” the Nigerian human rights activist Emmanuel Ogebe from the Jubilee Campaign criticized in submitted testimony for a September 18 congressional hearing.  Along with Christian girls who escaped kidnapping by the jihadist group Boko Haram (BH), Ogebe and others at recent Washington, DC, briefings analyzed Nigeria’s bloody security crisis.

“Stop the denial,” Ogebe stated at the hearing while his prepared remarks criticized United States government agencies for blaming Nigerian conflict on socioeconomic grievances.  “Contrary to” this “recurring…narrative,” BH has “made amply and repeatedly clear” that it is an “Islamist insurgency” seeking an “Islamic Sharia state,” Ogebe wrote.  A BH video, for example, proclaimed “Jihad war against…Christianity…western education, democracy.”

The result is “possibly the worst on-going genocide against Christians” even as globally “Christianity is the most persecuted religion.” “More Christians were killed in Northern Nigeria in 2012 than the rest of the world,” for example, while official reports ranked BH the “second most deadly terrorist group in the world right below the Taliban.”  In total, BH has killed over “10,000 people since 2009, both Nigerian nationals and international victims…from over 15 nations—far more than ISIS, AL Qaeda and possibly the Taliban.”

BH has “not beheaded an American…not for want of trying,” given several abduction attempts in northern Nigeria.  “I want to cut White people,” BH leader Abubaker Shekau stated in a video shortly after the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) beheaded American journalist James Foley.  Several Americans, though, survived an August 26, 2011, BH bombing of United Nations’ Nigerian headquarters in the capital Abuja, including one recently identified.

BH’s “threat to not only Nigerian people but also the world” has a “well documented nexus with global jihad,” as shown by Nigerians captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary visiting Nigeria.  Groups like BH and ISIS globally “feed off each other,” as BH schoolgirl kidnappings have inspired ISIS sex slavery and BH has emulated ISIS’ caliphate declaration.  BH is “paralleling” ISIS atrocities, religious freedom expert Nina Shea seconded Ogebe on a September 19 Hudson Institute (HI) panel, with “clear confirmation” of BH Islamization in Nigeria under a “very brutal religious cleansing.”

“Starving refugees on mountaintops, towns overrun and their Christian population exterminated, children decapitated” characterize not just Iraq, but northern Nigeria, Ogebe wrote.  “Practically every ignoble deed” of ISIS “has been done by Boko Haram in the last three years.”  A “putative third world war” is occurring in an “incremental,” “retail,” or “franchise” manner or, as Pope Francis I recently declared, “piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”  An “iron veil” in some countries has replaced the iron curtain’s tyranny, Ogebe assessed.  “We are all in this together,” Ogebe stated at HI given jihad’s global reach in countries like Iraq, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

“Violent Jihad is as Violent Jihad does” and “cannot be rationalized,” Ogebe’s congressional testimony criticized in assessing American attributions of BH violence to, for example, deprivation.  Nigeria is Africa’s wealthiest economy and BH bribes people from neighboring Niger to fight, Ogebe argued at a September 9 Rayburn House Office Building briefing.  The “good old days” before BH, in contrast, already exhibited Muslim animus against Nigerian Christians; Ogebe recalled a Christian student illegally forced to kneel in the sun while receiving Islamic instruction in a Muslim-majority area.  “Violent jihadist groups are never about an inclusive government,” Ogebe meanwhile qualifies American concerns about sectarianism in Iraq and Nigeria, “they are about an exclusive government.”

Yet “Violent Extremist Organization” or VEO, not jihadist, is the description for groups like BH in American training undergone by African military officers.  An equally anodyne “junket-filled tenure” marked America’s last Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook.  She covered a “record 27 countries in 29 months” with equal time in Nigeria and Ghana, a country with few religious freedom concerns.  While the presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “is playing to the gallery” now by calling BH terrorists, Ogebe noted on September 9, she resisted this designation as secretary of state.

Media such as the Wall Street Journal and American officials have often presented BH as equal opportunity killer. BH’s “campaign against all Nigerians,” for example, concerned Undersecretary of State Sarah Sewall at the September 18 hearing.  (Sewall also did not “have numbers in front of me” concerning Christianity as the world’s most persecuted faith and speculated that claims of more Christians killed in Nigeria in 2012 than the rest of the world “might not be accurate.”)  Yet BH only attacks Muslims “for cause” such as government collaboration in the midst of wholesale targeting of Christians.  Thus about 90% of the 276 schoolgirlskidnapped by BH on April 14 were Christian from Chibok, a specifically targeted majority-Christian community.

Read more at Religious Freedom Coalition