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:
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
Editor’s note: The following is Part Three a three-part series examining the many parallels between Islam and the mafia following Bill Maher’s recent exclamation that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” Click for Part One and for Part Two.
Coercion and Death Threats
Although the novel turned movie, The Godfather, is fictitious, it also captures much of the mafia’s modus operandi. Consider, for example, that most famous of lines—“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”—spoken by the Godfather to one of his “godsons,” an aspiring actor and singer, who, after being turned down by a studio director for a role that he desperately wanted, turns to his Godfather for aid.
As the movie progresses, we discover that the offer that the director can’t refuse is nothing less than violence and the threat of death: after the Godfather’s messenger to the director asking that the actor be given the role is again rejected, the studio head awakes to find the bloodied and decapitated head of his favorite stallion in bed with him. The godson subsequently gets the movie role.
Throughout the context of the entire Godfather trilogy—and indeed, in the context of the mafia—making someone “an offer they can’t refuse”—comes to mean “do as I say or suffer the consequences,” possibly death.
Compare this to Islam’s threefold choice. On Muhammad’s orders, whenever Islamic jihadis conquer a territory, they are to give the non-Muslim inhabitants three choices: 1) convert to Islam, 2) maintain your own religion (an option technically only available to Christians and Jews) but pay tribute and live as a subdued third-class citizen, a “dhimmi,” or 3) die.
Not only do the primary historical texts written by authoritative Muslims record this aspect of Islam, but to this very day, Islam’s threefold choice is making headlines, most recently at the hands of the Islamic State.
The ‘Protection Racket’
Once the mafia gains a “territory,” one of the primary ways it profits is by collecting “protection money” from the inhabitants. While the protection racket has several faces, one in particular is akin to an Islamic institution: the idea of coercing people in the mafia’s territory to pay money for “protection,” ostensibly from outside forces, when in fact the protection bought is from the mafia itself—that is, extortion money, or pizzo. Potential “clients” who refuse the mafia’s “protection” often have their property vandalized and are routinely threatened and harassed.
Compare pizzo with the Islamic concept of jizya: The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (emphasis added).”
In the hadith, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad—in our analogy, the “underboss”—regularly calls on Muslims to demand jizya of non-Muslims: “If they refuse to accept Islam,” said the Islamic prophet, “demand from them the jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay jizya, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
The root meaning of the Arabic word “jizya” is simply to “repay” or “recompense,” basically to “compensate” for something. According to the Hans Wehr Dictionary, the standard Arabic-English dictionary, jizya is something that “takes the place” of something else, or “serves instead.”
Simply put, conquered non-Muslims were to purchase their lives, which were otherwise forfeit to their Muslim conquerors, with money. Instead of taking their lives, they took their money. As one medieval jurist succinctly puts it, “their lives and their possessions are only protected by reason of payment of jizya” (Crucified Again, p. 22).
Interestingly, just as the mafia rationalizes its collection of “protection money” by portraying it as money paid to buy mafia protection against “outsiders”—when, as mentioned, the money/tribute serves only to protect the client from the mafia itself—so too do Islam’s apologists portray the collection of jizya as money meant to buy Muslim protection from outsiders, when in fact the money/jizya buys protection from Muslims themselves.
Conclusion: Mafia—What’s In a Word?
What accounts for all these similarities between Islam and the mafia? It is further telling that the word mafia itself,which means “hostility to the law, boldness,” is believed to be derived from the Arabic slang word, mahya, which in translation means “bragging, boasting, bravado, and swaggering.”
This etymology is a reminder that Sicily, birthplace of the mafia, was under Arab/Islamic domination for over 200 years. Aside from a borrowed etymology, could much of the mafia’s modus operandi also have been borrowed from Islam? Could native Sicilians, over the centuries, have co-opted the techniques of social controls that they had lived under and learned from their former overlords—albeit free from its Islamic trappings?
Either way, when HBO personality Bill Maher recently proclaimed that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book”—he was barely touching the tip of the iceberg of similarities between Islam and the mafia.
Don’t miss Raymond Ibrahim on The Glazov Gang discussing ISIS’s Islamic Inspirations:
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
The value of actor Ben Affleck’s recent outbursts in defense of Islam  on HBO’s Real Time is that here, in one 10-minute segment , we have all the leftist/liberal bromides used whenever Islam is criticized.
In what follows, Affleck’s main arguments are presented and then discredited.
Relativism and the Islamic Heterogeneity Myth
At the start, when author Sam Harris began making some critical remarks concerning Islam, a visibly agitated Affleck interrupted him by somewhat sarcastically asking, “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that?”
Affleck was essentially arguing that really no one is qualified to say what is or is not Islamic, since all Muslims are free to interpret Islam anyway they want. This notion has less to do with how Islam is practiced and more to do with Western relativism, specifically the postmodern belief that there are no “truths,” that everything is open to individual expression. Thus even if an Islamic sheikh from Al Azhar University were to tell Affleck that the criticism leveled against Islam were true, the actor would no doubt reply, “Fine, that’s your opinion, but I know that most other Muslims disagree.”
The fundamental mistake in this position is that it places Muslims on a higher pedestal of authority than Islam itself (even though muslims are by definition “one’s who submit” to islam, which is “submission” to Allah’s laws). Islam is based on the law, or Sharia — “the way” prescribed by Allah and his prophet. And Sharia most certainly does call for any number of things — subjugation of women and religious minorities, war on “infidels” and the enslavement of their women and children, bans on free speech and apostasy — that even Affleck would normally condemn.
In short, Sunni Islam, which approximately 90% of all Muslims follow, is far from heterogeneous. It has only four recognized schools of jurisprudence, and these agree over the basics, with only minor differences over detail. Even in the other 10% of Islamic sects, most of which are Shia or Shia offshoots, one finds that when it comes to intolerant aspects, they too are in agreement. For example, while all Islamic schools of law prescribe the death penalty for leaving Islam, some argue that female apostates should “only” be imprisoned and beat until they embrace Islam again.
The ‘Racism’ Card
When Bill Maher, the host of Real Time, asked “But why can’t we talk about this [Islamic issues]?” Affleck shot back with, “Because it’s gross, it’s racist.”
This meme is as common as it is absurd and does not deserve much rebuttal. Suffice to say that Muslims are not a race. There are Muslims of all nations, races, ethnicities — from sub-Saharan Africans to blonde haired, blue-eyed Europeans. Yet many apologists for Islam, including congressmen and congresswomen , habitually rely on this lie — I won’t even deign to call it an “apologetic” — simply because accusing someone of being “racist,” in this case, critics of Islam, is one of the surest way of shutting them up.
Conflating Muslim Teachings with Muslim People
At one point, after the other speakers made certain statistical points, Affleck made the following outburst, to much applause: “How about the more than a billion people [Muslims], who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who wanna go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you’re saying of all Muslims. It’s stereotyping.”
Again, Affleck conflates the actions of people — Muslims — with the teachings of a religion — Islam. Going back to the apostasy example, Islamic law clearly teaches that those who abandon Islam — including as the world recently saw, one pregnant Christian woman, Meriam Ibrahim  — are to be executed. One can therefore say that Sharia calls for the death of apostates.
But can one say with similar certainty that every single Muslim alive today believes that the apostasy penalty should be upheld? Obviously not. Yet this is not a reflection of Islam; it is a reflection of individual human freedom — a freedom that ironically goes against Islamic teaching.
Nonetheless, this conflation of Islam with Muslims is an all too common approach used to shield the former from criticism. (See this 2007 video  where I respond more fully to this question from a concerned reporter.)
Read more at PJ Media
The following is an envisioning of what might eventually unfold if the Islamic State is left to flourish. Although it is only one of several scenarios, due to its ostensibly implausible nature, it deserves some delineation.
The Islamic State (IS) continues expanding its territory and influence through jihad. Religious minorities that fall under its sway—at least the fortunate ones—continue to flee in droves, helping make the Islamic State what it strives to be: purely Islamic.
Left unfettered, with only cosmetic airstrikes by an indecisive Obama administration to deal with, IS continues growing in strength and confidence, as Western powers again stand idly by.
More and more Muslims around the world, impressed and inspired by what they see, become convinced that the Islamic State is in fact the new caliphate deserving of their allegiance. Such Muslims—the most “radical” kind, who delight in the slaughter and subjugation of “infidels”—continue leaving Western nations and migrating to the Islamic State to wage jihad and live under Sharia.
In other words, a sizable chunk of the world’s most radicalized/pious Muslims all become localized in one region. There they openly and proudly display their anti-infidel supremacism.
Throughout, Western media have no choice but to report objectively—so thoroughly exposed for its barbarity has IS become that it is an insurmountable task to whitewash its atrocities. The world has seen enough about IS to know that this is a savage, hostile, and supremacist state without excuse. Even Obama, after originally citing “grievances”as propelling the Islamic State’s successes, recently made an about face, saying “No grievance justifies these actions.”
Put differently, the “Palestinian card” will not work here. Western media, apologists, and talking heads cannot portray IS terror—including crucifying, beheading, and raping humans simply because they are “infidels”—as a product of “grievances” or “land disputes.”
Indeed, the Islamic State itself, which is largely composed of foreigners, is the one invading other territories (Iraq, Syria), massacring and driving out their most indigenous inhabitants, from Christians to Yazidis.
In time, the Islamic State’s borders are fully consolidated and the “caliphate” is a fact of reality. Its war on fellow Muslim “apostates”—its current excuse for not engaging the greatest of all “infidels” in the region, Israel—eventually comes to a close or stalemate.
Then the inevitable happens: another conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas; Muslims around the word, including those under IS authority, drunk with power and feelings of superiority, demand that the time to wipe out the Jewish infidel has finally come; that the second phase of the caliphate is now or never—conquest of “original infidels.”
As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recently declared during his U.N. speech, “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree. ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.”
Thus the Islamic State will eventually be compelled to start saber rattling and worse against Israel. After all, its entire legitimacy is founded on its namesake—that it is the“Islamic state,” the state that magnifies and protects Islam and Muslims. It must eventually confront Israel or else be proven the greatest of all hypocrites or munafiqun—a term of great rebuke in the Koran, which some Muslim authorities are already applying to IS for not confronting Israel now.
Conflicts inevitably ensue between Israel and its neighboring Islamic State. But unlike the Jewish state’s war on Hamas—which the mainstream media can manipulate and portray as a war on innocent Palestinian women and children—world governments and media will find it exceedingly difficult to criticize Israel should any conflict between it and IS arise.
Unlike sympathy for the Palestinians, non-Muslims around the world vacillate between hate for and fear of the Islamic State; even Karen Armstrong, John Esposito and their ilk cannot apologize for this particular group of Islamic savages—other than to insist that theirs is not true Islam (an irrelevant point for the purposes of this scenario).
Moreover, the argument habitually used against Israel—that its war on Hamas creates innocent Palestinian casualties—loses all legitimacy in any war on the Islamic State.
After all, IS, the state itself—not some terrorist organization ensconced within the state—is beheading, massacring, and enslaving humans solely on the basis of their religious identity. Its citizens—who went there of their own accord, unlike “displaced” and “trapped” Palestinians—are fanatical, extremist Muslims, whose greatest aspiration is to decapitate an infidel.
No one can apologize for this. The best that can be said is that this is not “true” Islam.
This is why, even now, the pro-Islamic Obama administration is forced to condemn IS and even (if perfunctorily) militarily engage it.
In short, conventional war becomes very justifiable against IS—especially because there is no longer any worry of accidentally killing this or that moderate or non-Muslim, as they have all been driven away, replaced by Islamic terrorists from around the world.
And conventional war has traditionally been the bane of Islamists, who prefer terrorism, hiding among civilians, using them as shields, and playing the victim.
Safe from international censure and pushed to the edge, Israel eventually obliterates the Islamic State, while even Islam’s greatest apologists in the West must hold their tongue or else be seen as defenders of the state responsible for the greatest atrocities—crucifixions, beheadings, rapes, slavery, and wholesale massacres—so far committed in the 21st century.
Three positive consequences emerge from all this:
1. Not only is the Islamic State destroyed, but with it, some of the world’s most supremacist and hate-filled Muslims—those who quit their home countries, including from the West, to persecute and kill the “infidels.”
2. The rest of the world’s Muslims get a major and much needed wakeup call. Some may start to rethink the notion of “jihad” and eternal enmity for the rest of the world. Some may start to rethink Islam altogether.
3. The non-Muslim world also gets a much needed wakeup call, another lesson to add to the major wars and conflicts of the 20th century, this time about Islamic fascism, which, finally, becomes catalogued as the danger it is.
Note: I am not advocating for this scenario—admittedly, one of many different kinds of scenarios that can develop if the Islamic State is left to flourish—and would prefer to see IS made extinct now. For even if this scenario comes to pass, matters must first get significantly worse before they can begin to get better.
Don’t miss Raymond Ibrahim on The Glazov Gang discussing ISIS’s Islamic Inspirations:
I just spent the better part of the day reading and listening to sermons by the leaders and jihadis of the new “caliphate” in Mesopotamia, the Islamic State (formerly “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”).
I did so in the vain hopes of learning something “new.”
But it was absolute déjà vu—taking me back to a decade ago, when I was reading and translating the Arabic writings and speeches of al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, as collated inThe Al Qaeda Reader.
Now as then, it’s the same Koran verses; the same hadiths of Islamic prophet Muhammad waging and praising jihad; the same threats of hellfire for the munafiqun (hypocrites or lukewarm Muslims); the same carnal rewards in the now or hereafter for those who join the “caravan” of jihad.
Consider for instance the following opening words of a recently released short video from the Islamic State titled, “There is No Life Without Jihad”:
If you wish to know the way to glory and power, to goodness, security and joy, you must learn that there are no rights without jihad, no justice without jihad, no dignity without jihad, no security without jihad, no future without jihad, no life without jihad, no life without jihad.
After this rather hackneyed opening, one Abu Muthana, a jihadi from Britain, appears quoting some more of the usual Koran verses, hadiths, and ulema, in this case, Imam Qurtubi, who wrote that “jihad gives life.” Finally he summarizes the goal of the jihad—in case anyone is still not sure—namely, to fight until “the law [Sharia] of Allah is implemented and the caliphate restored.”
To reiterate, there is little new or original in the videos and communiques from the Islamic State. Just static Islamism.
If one turns to the speeches of other Islamic and jihadi groups around the world—from the African groups such as Boko Haram (Nigeria) and al-Shabaab (Somalia), to Asian groups such as Abu Sayyaf (Philippines) and the Islamic Movement (Uzbekistan)—it’s the same thing, same themes, same scriptures, same quotations, same exhortations, same condemnations. Only their temporal circumstances and vicissitudes of victory or defeat differ.
While the Western mentality, so used to seeing and hearing about the “latest” or “newest” fad, may deem the Islamist approach as static or insipid, it is, quite the contrary, immensely effective for its purposes, and thus dangerous.
Consider: It’s the same exact message—of supremacism, hate, and violence, capped off with divine sanctioning—repeated over and over again, from a myriad of sources and organizations, all of which claim authority.
One can think of few better ways to brainwash and indoctrinate young and impressionable minds—to the point that they eagerly embrace death, including through suicide (AKA “martyrdom operations”).
Nor is this message of jihad, conquest, and death-to-the-infidel, limited to the verbiage that transpires among terrorist organizations; instead, this sort of rhetoric has spread far and wide, thanks to modern technology—including the Internet and social media—and the rich Gulf States, chief among them Saudi Arabia, which have seen to it that the jihadi books and passages being quoted are available to all and sundry.
Indeed, and has been demonstrated repeatedly, such jihadi rhetoric is regularly used in mosques all throughout Europe and America—explaining why an inordinate amount of jihadis in Syria and Iraq, such as Abu Muthana, the aforementioned “Brit,” are in fact from the West.
If the West, in the name of “religious freedom,” is still too fretful to monitor and ban such sermons, in Egypt—a Muslim nation in the heart of the Islamic world—the post Muslim Brotherhood government has come to understand the necessity of outlawing “certain” kinds of rhetoric from the mosques, specifically, those about jihad against infidels and apostates.
Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by CBN News’ George Thomas on the rise of the Islamic State, its aspirations for caliphate, and what all that means for free peoples around the world:
Raymond Ibrahim, July 1, 2014:
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in two parts but is being published again as one article due to some confusions prompted by its original appearance as two parts.
In order to prevent a clash of civilizations, or worse, Islam must reform. This is the contention of many Western peoples. And, pointing to Christianity’s Protestant Reformation as proof that Islam can also reform, many are optimistic.
Overlooked by most, however, is that Islam has been reforming. What is today called “radical Islam” is the reformation of Islam. And it follows the same pattern of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation.
The problem is our understanding of the word “reform.” Despite its positive connotations, “reform” simplymeans to “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”
Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve”—splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western references.
Muslim notions of “improving” society may include purging it of “infidels” and their corrupt ways; or segregating men and women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home; or executing apostates, who are seen as traitorous agitators.
Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—can be deemed an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society.
In short, an Islamic reformation need not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society—simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their reference points and first premises. “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they, secular and religious alike, are to a great extent products of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation; and so, a priori, they naturally attribute positive connotations to the word.
At its core, the Protestant Reformation was a revolt against tradition in the name of scripture—in this case, the Bible. With the coming of the printing press, increasing numbers of Christians became better acquainted with the Bible’s contents, parts of which they felt contradicted what the Church was teaching. So they broke away, protesting that the only Christian authority was “scripture alone,” sola scriptura.
Islam’s reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation—specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate—but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam.
As with Christianity, throughout most of its history, Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims. Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures. The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”
In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world. Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,
translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands… [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).
This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears. The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet, is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists. Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.
In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished. Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted than their ancestors with the often black and white words of their scriptures, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.
Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it more closely with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it,” in the words of Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p. 333).
The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the reformists.
Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty). This is an important point to be revisited later. Muslims who do not become disaffected after better acquainting themselves with the literal teachings of Islam’s scriptures and who instead become more faithful to and observant of them are the topic of this essay.
How Christianity and Islam can follow similar patterns of reform but with antithetical results rests in the fact that their scriptures are often antithetical to one another. This is the key point, and one admittedly unintelligible to postmodern, secular sensibilities, which tend to lump all religious scripture together in a melting pot of relativism without bothering to evaluate the significance of their respective words and teachings.
Obviously a point by point comparison of the scriptures of Islam and Christianity is inappropriate for an article of this length (see my “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam” for a more comprehensive treatment).
Suffice it to note some contradictions (which will be rejected as a matter of course by the relativistic mindset):
- The New Testament preaches peace, brotherly love, tolerance, and forgiveness—for all humans, believers and non-believers alike. Instead of combatting and converting “infidels,” Christians are called to pray for those who persecute them and turn the other cheek (which is not the same thing as passivity, for Christians are also called to be bold and unapologetic). Conversely, the Koran and Hadith call for war, or jihad, against all non-believers, until they either convert, accept subjugation and discrimination, or die.
- The New Testament has no punishment for the apostate from Christianity. Conversely, Islam’s prophet himself decreed that “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”
- The New Testament teaches monogamy, one husband and one wife, thereby dignifying the woman. The Koran allows polygamy—up to four wives—and the possession of concubines, or sex-slaves. More literalist readings treat women as possessions.
- The New Testament discourages lying (e.g., Col. 3:9). The Koran permits it; the prophet himself often deceived others, and permitted lying to one’s wife, to reconcile quarreling parties, and to the “infidel” during war.
It is precisely because Christian scriptural literalism lends itself to religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Western civilization developed the way it did—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.
And it is precisely because Islamic scriptural literalism is at odds with religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Islamic civilization is the way it is—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.
Those in the West waiting for an Islamic “reformation” along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation, on the assumption that it will lead to similar results, must embrace two facts: 1) Islam’s reformation is well on its way, and yes, along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation—with a focus on scripture and a disregard for tradition—and for similar historic reasons (literacy, scriptural dissemination, etc.); 2) But because the core teachings of the scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam’s reformation has naturally produced a civilization markedly different from the West.
Put differently, those in the West uncritically calling for an “Islamic reformation” need to acknowledge what it is they are really calling for: the secularization of Islam in the name of modernity; the trivialization and sidelining of Islamic law from Muslim society.
That would not be a “reformation”—certainly nothing analogous to the Protestant Reformation.
Overlooked is that Western secularism was, and is, possible only because Christian scripture lends itself to the division between church and state, the spiritual and the temporal.
Upholding the literal teachings of Christianity is possible within a secular—or any—state. Christ called on believers to “render unto Caesar the things of Caesar (temporal) and unto God the things of God (spiritual)” (Matt. 22:21). For the “kingdom of God” is “not of this world” (John 18:36). Indeed, a good chunk of the New Testament deals with how “man is not justified by the works of the law… for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
On the other hand, mainstream Islam is devoted to upholding the law; and Islamic scripture calls for a fusion between Islamic law—Sharia—and the state. Allah decrees in the Koran that “It is not fitting for true believers—men or women—to take their choice in affairs if Allah and His Messenger have decreed otherwise. He that disobeys Allah and His Messenger strays far indeed!” (33:36). Allah tells the prophet of Islam, “We put you on an ordained way [literarily in Arabic, sharia] of command; so follow it and do not follow the inclinations of those who are ignorant” (45:18).
Mainstream Islamic exegesis has always interpreted such verses to mean that Muslims must follow the commandments of Allah as laid out in the Koran and Hadith—in a word, Sharia.
And Sharia is so concerned with the details of this world, with the everyday doings of Muslims, that every conceivable human action falls under five rulings, or ahkam: the forbidden (haram), the discouraged (makruh), the neutral (mubah), the recommended (mustahib), and the obligatory (wajib).
Conversely, Islam offers little concerning the spiritual (sidelined Sufism the exception).
Unlike Christianity, then, Islam without the law—without Sharia—becomes meaningless. After all, the Arabic word Islam literally means “submit.” Submit to what? Allah’s laws as codified in Sharia and derived from the Koran and Hadith.
The “Islamic reformation” some in the West are hoping for is really nothing less than an Islam without Islam—secularization not reformation; Muslims prioritizing secular, civic, and humanitarian laws over Allah’s law; a “reformation” that would slowly see the religion of Muhammad go into the dustbin of history.
Such a scenario is certainly more plausible than believing that Islam can be true to its scriptures in any meaningful way and still peacefully coexist with, much less complement, modernity the way Christianity does.
By Raymond Ibrahim:
While other scriptures contain contradictions, the Qur’an is the only holy book whose commentators have evolved a doctrine to account for the very visible shifts which occur from one injunction to another. No careful reader will remain unaware of the many contradictory verses in the Qur’an, most specifically the way in which peaceful and tolerant verses lie almost side by side with violent and intolerant ones. The ulema were initially baffled as to which verses to codify into the Shari’a worldview—the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims till they either convert, or at least submit, to Islam (8:39, 9:5, 9:29). To get out of this quandary, the commentators developed the doctrine of abrogation, which essentially maintains that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career take precedence over earlier ones whenever there is a discrepancy. In order to document which verses abrogated which, a religious science devoted to the chronology of the Qur’an’s verses evolved (known as an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh, the abrogater and the abrogated).
But why the contradiction in the first place? The standard view is that in the early years of Islam, since Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by their infidel competitors while living next to them in Mecca, a message of peace and coexistence was in order. However, after the Muslims migrated to Medina in 622 and grew in military strength, verses inciting them to go on the offensive were slowly “revealed”—in principle, sent down from God—always commensurate with Islam’s growing capabilities. In juridical texts, these are categorized in stages: passivity vis-á-vis aggression; permission to fight back against aggressors; commands to fight aggressors; commands to fight all non-Muslims, whether the latter begin aggressions or not. Growing Muslim might is the only variable that explains this progressive change in policy.
Other scholars put a gloss on this by arguing that over a twenty-two year period, the Qur’an was revealed piecemeal, from passive and spiritual verses to legal prescriptions and injunctions to spread the faith through jihad and conquest, simply to acclimate early Muslim converts to the duties of Islam, lest they be discouraged at the outset by the dramatic obligations that would appear in later verses. Verses revealed towards the end of Muhammad’s career—such as, “Warfare is prescribed for you though you hate it”—would have been out of place when warfare was actually out of the question.
However interpreted, the standard view on Qur’anic abrogation concerning war and peace verses is that when Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should preach and behave according to the ethos of the Meccan verses (peace and tolerance); when strong, however, they should go on the offensive on the basis of what is commanded in the Medinan verses (war and conquest). The vicissitudes of Islamic history are a testimony to this dichotomy, best captured by the popular Muslim notion, based on a hadith, that, if possible, jihad should be performed by the hand (force), if not, then by the tongue (through preaching); and, if that is not possible, then with the heart or one’s intentions.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, was recently interviewed about Syria. While many of his assertions can be debated, one especially requires a response.
Throughout the interview, he repeatedly insisted that, if Bashar Assad would only leave power, everything would go well — especially for all of Syria’s minorities.
In his words: “I believe that a peace can protect all of the minorities: Druze, Christian, Isma‘ilis, Alawites — all of them can be protected, and you can have a pluralistic Syria, in which minority rights of all people are protected.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Kerry declared that “The world would protect the Alawites, Druze, Christians, and all minorities in Syria after the ousting of Assad.”
The problem here is that we have precedent — exact precedent. We’ve seen this paradigm before and know precisely what happens once strongman dictators like Assad are gone.
As demonstrated in this article, in all Muslim nations where the U.S. has intervened to help topple dictators and bring democracy, it is precisely the minorities who suffer first. And neither the U.S. nor “the world” do much about it.
After the U.S. toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered, and dozens of their churches were bombed (see here for graphic images). Indeed, Christians have been terrorized into near-extinction, so that today, a decade after the ousting of Saddam, more than half of them have fled Iraq.
The “world” did nothing.
Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Libya’s Qaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert), their churches bombed, and their nuns threatened.
Not much “pluralism” there.
Once the Muslim Brotherhood replaced Mubarak in Egypt — and all with U.S. support — the persecution of Copts practically became legalized, as unprecedented numbers of Christians—men, women, and children—were arrested, often receiving more than double the maximum prison sentence, under the accusation that they had “blasphemed” Islam and/or its prophet.
Not only did the U.S. do nothing — it asked the Coptic Church not to join the June Revolution that led to the ousting of the Brotherhood and Muhammad Morsi.
In short, where the U.S. works to overthrow secular autocrats, the quality of life for Christians and other minorities takes a major nosedive. In Saddam’s Iraq, Qaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria (before the U.S.-sponsored war), Christians and their churches were largely protected.
Today, Syria is the third worst nation in the world in which to be Christian, Iraq is fourth, Libya 13th, and Egypt 22nd. Such are the fruits of U.S. intervention in the name of “democracy.”
So how can anyone, especially Christians and other minorities, have any confidence in Kerry’s repeated assurances that religious minorities will be safeguarded once secular strongman Assad is gone — and by the “world” no less — leading to a “pluralistic” Syria?
And from an American point of view, what are we to make of Kerry? Is the U.S. Secretary of State that deluded and detached from reality, or, as Russian President Vladimir Putin once accused Kerry, also in the context of Syria: “he is lying and knows he is lying. It’s sad.”
by Raymond Ibrahim:
As Christians in the West go to church and worship during this Christmas season, it is well to reflect on how these two simple acts—going to church to worship—can be life-threatening for Christians in the Islamic world, especially on Christmas. The following excerpt from my book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (pgs. 42-45), provides a glimpse of the horrors and humiliations Christians throughout the Muslim world can be exposed to whenever they try to meet and worship in church on Christmas and other Christian holidays. One can only hope—perhaps in vain—that this coming Christmas does not add new victims to the list.
Christians in the Islamic world today are suffering attacks motivated by the very same diabolical animus as a thousand years ago under Hakim [Egyptian caliph who ordered the destruction of reportedly 30,000 churches in the 10th –11th century]. Proof of this is that some of the most terrible assaults occur precisely on Christian holidays—Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s Eve (which is a major church day in the Middle East). And no wonder, considering that some Muslim clerics insist that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication . . . or killing someone.”
After some fourteen centuries of church attacks and other persecution—punctuated by a brief Christian Golden Age—Egypt’s Copts began the new year in 2011 once again under assault, at one of their largest churches: during midnight Mass in the early hours of January 1, 2011, the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria, crowded with hundreds of Christian worshippers, was bombed, leaving at least twenty-three dead and approximately a hundred injured. According to eyewitnesses, “body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants,” including “Allahu Akbar!” Witnesses further attest that “security forces withdrew one hour before the church blast.” And a year earlier, Muslims shot and killed six Christians as they were leaving church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Nag Hammadi.
December 25, 2011, was called Nigeria’s “blackest Christmas ever.” In a number of coordinated jihadi operations, Reuters reported, Islamic terrorists bombed several churches during Christmas liturgies, killing at least thirty-eight people, “the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church after celebrating Christmas Mass as blood pooled in dust from a massive explosion.” Charred bodies and dismembered limbs lay scattered around the destroyed church. This attack was simply a reenactment of Christmas Eve one year earlier, in 2010, when several other churches were set ablaze and Christians were attacked, also leaving nearly thirty-eight dead. There was no reprieve for Nigeria’s Christians when the next religious holiday came; some fifty Christians were killed “when explosives concealed in two cars went off near the Assemblies of God’s Church during Easter Sunday services” in April 2012 in a predominantly Muslim region. According to the pastor, “We were in the Holy Communion service and I was exhorting my people and all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise that shattered all our windows and doors.” December 25, 2012, saw a repeat of the last few Christmases: in two separate attacks, Islamic gunmen shot and killed twelve Christian worshippers who had gathered for Christmas Eve church services, including one church’s pastor.
The violence in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, was not so bloody, but Muslims’ hostility was equally clear. In December 2012, more than two hundred Muslims threw rotten eggs at nearly one hundred Christians desiring to hold a Christmas Mass in empty land outside Jakarta, since their church, the Philadelphia Batak Protestant Church, had been illegally closed. A photographer saw angered Muslims—men, women wearing the hijab (the Muslim headscarf), and children—blocking the road and hurling rotten eggs at those attempting to worship. According to the Reverend Palti Panjaitan, the incident followed a Christmas Eve attack when “intolerant people” threw not only rotten eggs but also “plastic bags filled with urine and cow dung” at the Christians. “Everything had happened while police were there. They were just watching without doing anything to stop them from harming us.”
The attack was a repeat of what had happened several months earlier, during an Ascension Day church service in May 2012. Then some six hundred Muslims threw bags of urine, stones, and rotten eggs at the same congregation. The mob also threatened to kill the pastor. No arrests were made. The church had applied for a permit to construct its house of worship five years ago. But pressured by local Muslims, the local administration ordered the church to shut down in December 2009—though the Supreme Court recently overruled its decision, saying the church was eligible for the permit. Regardless, local Muslims and officials demand the church cease to exist.
In the Philippines, during Mass on Christmas Day 2010, a bomb exploded inside a packed Catholic church in the “Muslim-dominated” island of Jolo, injuring six worshippers including the priest. The bomb was planted by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which according to the Daily Mail “has been blamed for several bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo since the early 2000s and for kidnapping priests and nuns.”
While many more examples of church attacks on Christian holidays could be given, the four examples above demonstrate an important point. Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, and the Philippines have very little in common. These countries do not share the same language, race, or culture. What, then, do they have in common that explains this similar pattern of church attacks during Christian holy days? The answer is Islam. All four countries have large Muslim populations.
Muslim Persecution of Christians: October, 2013
By Raymond Ibrahim:
On October 21 in Syria, the U.S.-supported Islamic rebels invaded and occupied the ancient Christian settlement of Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the military. During that week, “the largest massacre of Christians in Syria,” in the words of Orthodox Archbishop Alnemeh, took place. Among other things, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; mass graves were discovered; all of Sadad’s 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found buried at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for “subhuman” Christians).
The jihadis even made a graphic video (with English subtitles) of those whom they massacred, while shouting Islam’s victory-cry, “Allahu Akbar” (or “Allah is greater,” which John McCain equated to a Christian saying “thank God”). Another video, made after Sadad was liberated, shows more graphic atrocities.
The day before rebels invaded Sadad, on Sunday, October 20, the Church of the Virgin Mary in Warraq near Cairo, Egypt, was attacked during a wedding ceremony, leaving four dead and nearly two dozen wounded. According to a report issued by forensics, two of those murdered were young girls, each named Mary: 12-year-old Mary Nabil Fahmy, who took five shots in the chest, and 8-year-old Mary Ashraf Masih (“Masih” meaning “Christ”), who took a bullet in the back which burst from the front.
As happens frequently in Egypt and other Islamic nations, the security forces charged with protecting the church were seen leaving their posts immediately before the massacre began. Similarly, in the words of Asia News, “Eye-witnesses of the al-Warraq attack confirm that despite numerous distress calls, police and ambulances only arrived on the scene two hours after the shooting.”
Both the massacres in Syria and Egypt received scant attention and even less condemnation by Western media and government. Instead, people like Mohamed Elibiary, an Obama administration Homeland Security adviser, condemned Copts who raise awareness of anti-Christian violence in Egypt as promoting “Islamophobic” bigotry.
Similarly, although Christians are habitually killed in Muslim countries—as this monthly series attests—with little condemnation or even acknowledgment by the U.S. government, when five Muslims were killed in western Burma, the United States, according to Voice of America, formally condemned it, “urging authorities to do more to address the long-standing sectarian tension there.”
The rest of October’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 more at Gatestone Institute
by Raymond Ibrahim:
Yet another phenomenon with a long paper trail in Islamic history has just taken place, even as the Western “mainstream”—little acquainted with true history or reality—dismisses it as an aberration. Asia News has the details:
Islamist rebels have kidnapped a group of nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla (Mar Taqla) in Maaloula [an ancient Christian community where Christians were earlier forced to convert to Islam or die]… “Armed men burst in the monastery of St Thecla in Maaloula this afternoon [Dec. 2]. From there, they forcibly took 12 women religious,” Mgr Zenari said …. Neither the nuncio nor the Greek Orthodox Church know [the] reason behind the kidnapping.
The “reason behind the kidnapping”? Sexual abuse and rape certainly should not be discounted, as these have been the lot of thousands of women abducted by U.S.-sponsored “freedom fighters” in Syria. Indeed, a new report issued by the National Reconciliation Commission in Syria states that some 37,000 women have been raped since the war started.
To keep the jihad in Syria alive, pro-war Islamic clerics have issued any number of fatwas, or Islamic rulings, permitting sexually-frustrated, female-deprived rebels to rape women. Most of these are based on the simple fact that Islam permits jihadis, based on the example of their prophet, to copulate with any captured woman—or, in the words of the Koran, “what your right hands possess” (see “The Jihad on Christian Women: Abduction, Rape, and Forced Conversion,” pgs. 186-199 in Crucified Again for detailed information).
One cleric permitted the abduction and rape of any Syrian woman, provided she is not Sunni. Yet apparently because there are still not enough women for the jihadi hordes, many of whom are foreigners—one Christian child was recently raped by 15 men before being killed—Sunni Muslim women are also being targeted through sex jihad fatwas.
So would such jihadis and their clerics have any special respect for Christian nuns?
The fact is, raped nuns is a phenomenon that goes back centuries. According to Muslim historian Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi (1364-1442) during his raids on Egypt, Caliph Marwan II (r.744–50) “made captive a number of women from among the nuns of several convents. And he tried to seduce one of them.” The account describes how the enslaved nun tricked him into killing her, by claiming she had a magic oil that make skin impenetrable: “She then took some oil and anointed herself with it; then stretched out her neck, which he smote with the sword, and made her head fly. He then understood that she preferred death to defilement.”
Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the DHFC, recently appeared on Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to discuss his new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. In the course of an engaging discussion—including why the media, academia, and government ignore Muslim persecution of Christians—Lori Rothman, filling in for Lou Dobbs, asserted “Throughout history, wasn’t it always the Christians who were doing the persecuting? Why does it seem now the tables have turned?” Be sure to watch Ibrahim’s blitzkrieg course in history giving the lie to that false but widespread notion. And click here to order his must-read Crucified Again.
The month of May continued to prove that Nigeria is the most dangerous nation for Christians—where more Christians have been killed last year than all around the Muslim world combined. In one instance, Boko Haram Muslim militants stormed the home of a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and opened fire on him, instantly murdering him.
Separately, other Boko Haram gunmen killed 14 Christians, including the cousin and two nephews of the Rev. Moses Thliza, head of a Christian organization dedicated to preventing AIDS and caring for AIDS patients and orphans: Said Thliza: “My cousin, Bulus [Paul] Buba, was dragged out at gunpoint from his house by the Boko Haram members. They collected his car keys, demanded money and asked him three times to renounce his Christian faith, and three times he declined to do so [prompting them to execute him]. The attackers met three guards on duty, killed two of them by cutting their necks with knives, and then proceeded to take the third guard, Amtagu Samiyu, at gunpoint to lead them to where the keys of the deputy governor’s house is.”
As for some Christians observing a wake two kilometers away, Boko Haram Muslims asked to know what was going on there, and when they learned that people were saying prayers for an elderly Christian woman who had died, they charged in and shot into the crowd. “The attackers went there and shot indiscriminately at the worshippers, killing eight Christians—two women and six elderly men,” said Thliza. “In all, we buried 14 Christians. Some were injured and taken to the hospital.”
Despite all this, when the Nigerian government tried militarily to confront and neutralize Boko Haram, the Obama administration criticized it, warning it not to violate the “human rights” of the Islamic terrorists.
Categorized by theme, the rest of May’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:
Bosnia: The Serbian Orthodox church of Saint Sava in Sarajevo, where Muslims make up approximately half of the population, was “desecrated” and six of its windows panes broken. The unidentified vandals wrote “Allah” in dark paint twice on the church wall. A month earlier, unidentified persons tried to set the church on fire.
Central African Republic: According to the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, since an Islamic rebel leader proclaimed himself president, the situation for Christians, has “deeply worsened.” The organization warns against “the evil intentions for the programmed and planned desecration and destruction of religious Christian buildings, and in particular the Catholic and Protestant churches…. All over the country the Catholic Church has paid a high price.” Several dioceses have been seriously damaged and plundered, and priests and nuns attacked (more information below, under “Dhimmitude.”)
Egypt: Two Coptic Christian churches were attacked, one in Alexandria, the other in Upper Egypt. St. Mary in Alexandria was attacked by Molotov cocktails and bricks, causing the gate to burn and the stained glass windows to shatter. One-thousand Christians tried to defend the church against 20,000 Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar” [“Allah is Greater”]. One Copt was killed and several injured. In the village of Menbal in Upper Egypt, after “Muslim youths” harassed Christian girls—including hurling bags of urine at them—and Coptic men came to their rescue, another Muslim mob stormed the village church of Prince Tadros el-Mashreki. They hurled stones and broke everything inside the church, including doors and windows. The mob then went along the streets looting and destroying all Coptic-owned businesses and pharmacies and torching cars. Any Copt met by the mob in the street was beaten.
Iran: Because it refused to stop using the national Persian language during its services—which makes the Gospel intelligible to all Iranian Muslims, some of whom converted—the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran was raided by security services during a prayer meeting; its pastor taken to an unknown location, and the church was searched and its books, documents and equipment seized. Security agents posted a sign stating that the church was now closed. One local source said, “They constantly threaten the church leaders and their families with imprisonment, unexplained accidents, kidnapping and even with execution. We cannot go on like this.” A number of its members have already been killed and its activities greatly restricted over the last few years.
Libya: The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Benghazi was bombed. In the words of the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, “They put a bomb at the entrance of the corridor leading to the courtyard where there is the door of the church. The church, therefore, was not touched directly, but the attack is not a positive sign. The Church in Libya is suffering. In Benghazi the Coptic Church was hit, its chaplain was killed and now the Catholic Church. As I reported on other occasions, in Cyrenaica different religious women’s institutes have been forced to close their doors, in Tobruk, Derna, Beida, Barce, as well as in Benghazi. The nuns who were forced to leave, served the population with generosity.”
Syria: A violent explosion destroyed the church and convent of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Deir Ezzor. According to Fr. Haddad of the region, “It was the only church in Deir Ezzor [that] so far still remained almost untouched.” It is not clear how it was destroyed, but some say a car bomb was placed next to the church. Fr. Haddad lamented that, as in other regions, “there are no more Christians” left in Ezzor, due to “all this hate and desecration.”
Tanzania: During a service to mark its official opening, a new church in a predominantly Christian suburb was bombed, killing at least five people and wounding some 60. According to a local source, “This was… a well-planned attack. Even before it, the threat was given and we still have many threats. Pray for us, and that God will overcome all these in Jesus’ name.” He added that, “radical camps in the country were teaching young Muslims that Christians must be killed or live as second-class citizens,” or dhimmis. Among those arrested, four were Saudi Arabian nationals. The bombing follows the slaying of two church leaders in February, and the shooting in the face of a third on Christmas Day. In October, several church buildings were torched and vandalized.
Read more about persecution for Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism, and Dhimmitude at Gatestone Institute
by Raymond Ibrahim:
“The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has again declared that it is ‘necessary to destroy all the churches in the region.’”
Before Egypt’s President Muhammad Morsi was ousted, April was one of the worst months for Christian Copts there. On April 5 near Cairo, when a longstanding feud between a Christian family and a Muslim family—based on male Muslims sexually harassing Christian girls—culminated in the violent deaths of six Christians, including two of the participants, a Christian and a Muslim, being set on fire, and local Muslims went on another “collective punishment” spree. It resulted in the injury of at least 20 other Copts, an Evangelical church being set on fire, and an attack on a Coptic church, Two days later, after Copts had mourned their dead in the St. Mark Cathedral—Coptic Christianity’s holiest site and home to the Coptic pope—Muslim mobs, who had waited outside, launched yet another attack—aided by state security forces. Eyewitnesses said as many as 40-50 tear gas canisters targeted the mourners, many of whom were women and children hiding in the cathedral. Two more Copts were killed and many dozens wounded as other officers stood by while the Muslim mob tried to destroy the cathedral.
Muslim “youth” climb to the roof of a building adjacent to St. Mark Cathedral to attack it. To the left, a man winds to hurl a projectile at it. And in the white circle to the right, high-ranking Egyptian officials and security stand by watching (easily recognizable by their hats and helmets). Source: RaymondIbrahim.com
On one Friday after prayers, the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Cairo was turned into a “torture chamber” for Egyptians, many of whom were Christians, protesting the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the victims, Amir Ayad, a Christian, said he was severely beaten before being left for dead at the side of the road. He suffered a fractured skull, a broken arm, bleeding in his right eye and pellet wounds. Coptic Christian children, mostly boys, weretargeted for kidnapping and held for ransom; one 6-year-old, after his family had paid the Muslim kidnapper, was killed. And a video appeared on Arabic-language websites showing a crowd of Muslims in Egypt assaulting and raping two Christian women on a crowded street and in broad daylight. Throughout, the women scream in terror as the men shout Islamic slogans such as “Allahu Akbar!” “["Allah is Greater!"] None of the many passersby intervenes in any way.
Also in April, during Easter week in Nigeria, Muslim herdsmen launched a series of raids on Christian villages, killing at least 80 Christians. Most of those slain were either children or the elderly. Over 200 Christian homes were destroyed, eight churches burned, and 4,500 Christians displaced. According to a pastor present at the time, “It was a helpless situation, as no Christians had any weapon to fight back. Women, children, and the elderly who were not able to escape were shot and killed. Luckily, all my children are in school, so this made it easier for our escape from the Muslim attackers. We sneaked away in the midst of the confusion and trekked for more than 20 kilometers [12 miles] to find a place to stay.”
Categorized by theme, the rest of April’s Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:
Central African Republic: A number of church buildings were attacked and the homes of Christians looted in the aftermath of a bloody coup by Sharia-adherent Muslim rebels. During the chaos, as in a standard jihad, Christian property was targeted for plundering, while Muslim property was spared. The leader of the Muslim rebels, Michel Djotodia, “assumed the presidency from the ousted François Bozizé, becoming the predominantly Christian nation’s first Muslim president.” According to one Christian, “We are no longer at home. They pillage our goods which are then sold by the Muslims, who export them.“
Indonesia: Local officials, at the behest of Islamist forces, demolished the Batak Protestant Church building in West Java and threatened to close others, causing hundreds of Christians to protest in the streets. Once again, as happens with increasing regularity in Indonesia, congregation members then held services in the street, near the site of the destroyed church. As the Morning Star News added: Indonesian officials routinely delay or deny church building permits… thus providing Islamic extremists a pretext for protests and attacks.” Newspapers covering the event posted photos of “church members in tears—singing hymns, crying and begging local officials not to demolish their facility. Hundreds of police and army officers guarded the area while Muslim militants, shouting Koranic verses, cheered the excavator.”
Saudi Arabia: Apparently once again “The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia—the top Islamic official in the country of Saudi Arabia—has [again] declared that it is ‘necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” (First reported here over a year ago.)
Sudan: In the latest of a series of moves that have put pressure on Christians, a Muslim government minister announced that no new licenses will be granted for church buildings; he claimed that the existing churches are sufficient for the number of worshippers. Building churches has, in fact, been disallowed since South Sudan seceded in July 2011; the Islamist government of Khartoum responded by making the lives of Christians in Sudan even more difficult than usual. Days before this latest measure, the government deported a senior church leader and two expatriate missionaries who had been working with children in Khartoum. No reason was given. The government has also demolished countless church buildings on the pretext of paperwork irregularities.
Turkey: A 13th century church building, the Hagia Sophia of Trabizon (not to be confused with Constantinople’s famous Hagia Sophia) is set to become a mosque again.
After the Ottoman conquest it had been turned from a church into a mosque, but later, under Turkey’s secularist President, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and apparently due to its “great historical and cultural significance” for Christians, it had been turned into a museum. Local authorities decreed that its Christian frescoes must again be covered in preparation for its reopening as a mosque. [Update: As of July, the Hagia Sophia of Trabizon has become a functioning mosque.]
Continue reading at Gatestone Institute for accounts of Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism and Dhimmitude