President Trump Reverses Obama’s Anti-Christian Refugee Policy

Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein, July 19, 2017:

After declaring that Christians have “been horribly treated” by the refugee program under former President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump has reversed the Obama administration’s disgraceful discrimination against Christian refugees.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department refugee data, during the period from January 21, 2017 – President Trump’s first full day in office – through June 30, “9,598 Christian refugees arrived in the U.S., compared with 7,250 Muslim refugees. Christians made up 50% of all refugee arrivals in this period, compared with 38% who are Muslim.”

From April through June 2017, Iraq was “the only Muslim-majority nation among the top six origin countries.” The number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. from January 21, 2017 through June 30, 2017 was 1779. Comparing the number of refugee admissions from Syria for the entire month of January with the entire month of February 2017, the number dropped by nearly half. By June 2017, the number of refugees admitted from Syria was about 26 percent of the already low number of 673 admitted in February.

By contrast, Pew Research Center reported that in fiscal year 2016 – Barack Obama’s last full fiscal year as president – “the U.S. admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became publicly available in 2002.” Overall, the number of Muslims admitted as refugees exceeded the number of Christians who were admitted.

Of the 12,486 refugees from Syria admitted to the United States during that same fiscal year by the Obama administration, about 99 percent were Muslim and less than 1 percent were Christian. Estimates of the Christians’ proportion of the total population of Syria have ranged from 5 to 10 percent since the onset of the Syrian civil war. Muslims made up 87% of Syria’s total population.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry declared in March of last year that the Islamic State had been committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the Obama administration decided that Christians and other refugees belonging to minority religious faiths did not deserve any priority for admission to the U.S.  In fact, the Obama administration discriminated against Christians. It admitted proportionately less Christians relative to the total number of refugees from Syria than even the lower end of Christians’ estimated proportion of the total population of Syria. Incredibly, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, approximately 96% of the Syrian refugees admitted to the United States by the Obama administration were Sunni Muslims even though ISIS and al Qaeda jihadists are themselves Sunni Muslims. The ideology of Wahhabism fueling the jihadists’ reign of terror, exported by Saudi Arabia, is of Sunni Muslim origin.

Obama followed a deliberate anti-Christian refugee policy, while condescendingly lecturing Christians to remember the misdeeds he says were committed in the name of Christ many years ago. During a National Prayer Breakfast in 2015, for example, Obama said: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Obama’s walk through his version of Christian history somehow balances out in his mind the genocide committed by jihadists against Christians on his own watch.

Obama not only insulted Christians who have been facing persecution and death on a mass scale at the hands of Islamist terrorists. He twisted history in trying to invoke his moral relativism. He conveniently left out that the Crusades were a response to Muslim invasions that had resulted in the capture of two-thirds of the old Christian world and that Christian churches took a leadership role in the fights against slavery and segregation.

Thus, it was no surprise that Obama sharply criticized the suggestion that persecuted Christians be given preference for admission as refugees. He said that “when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted… that’s shameful.”  Obama added: “That’s not American, it’s not who we are.”

Obama’s refugee policy was both “shameful” and “not American.” It discriminated against Christians and other non-Muslim minority religious groups who needed refugee status protection the most, while vastly favoring the one group of refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries who needed protection the least– Sunni Muslims. The policy ignored the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which defined the crime of genocide as including “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a religious group.” (Emphasis added)  Obama’s refugee policy also ignored the fact that “refugee” is defined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees as including “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted” because of that person’s “religion.”

Christians and other religious minorities seeking refuge from genocide and persecution in Syria and other Muslim-majority countries are clearly the most at risk today if they are forced to remain in those countries. Any just refugee policy for the United States must be based on the principle that those most at risk receive the highest priority in admission decisions. President Trump has tried valiantly to correct the misdeeds of the Obama administration by following that principle, which explains at least in part his administration’s reversal of the number of Christian versus Muslim admissions. When refugee admissions to the United States resume after President Trump’s temporary suspension order expires, President Trump should continue to undo the Obama administration’s inexcusable discrimination against Christian victims of Muslim jihadist persecution.

Muslim Brotherhood Incites More Terror Attacks Targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Women cry during the funeral for those killed in a Palm Sunday church attack in Alexandria Egypt, at the Mar Amina church, Monday, April 10, 2017. Egyptian Christians were burying their dead on Monday, a day after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in coordinated attacks targeting Palm Sunday services in two cities. Women wailed as caskets marked with the word “martyr” were brought into the Mar Amina church in the coastal city of Alexandria, the footage broadcast on several Egyptian channels. (AP Photo/Samer Abdallah)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 29, 2017:

This past Friday I reported here at PJ Media on the attack just hours before the beginning of Ramadan on Coptic Christian pilgrims in Upper Egypt who were on their way to pray at a remote monastery in the desert.

Three vehicles full of gunmen opened fire on a bus with mostly women and children, killing 28. Only three children survived the attack.

This most recent attack, claimed Saturday by the Islamic State, comes amidst a rising tide of anti-Coptic incitement by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood here and abroad.

Over the weekend Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published an article at Foreign Policy identifying some of the recent examples of Muslim Brotherhood incitement and encouragement of terrorism targeting Coptic Christians.

Among the examples Trager discovered after Friday’s attack on Coptic pilgrims was a Facebook post by Muslim Brotherhood youth leader Ahmed El-Moghir:

That comment has caught the attention of several Middle East media outlets. Here in the U.S., not so much.

Read more

Former Egyptian Terrorism Official Exposes the Muslim Brotherhood’s Terror Networks (Part 1)

Supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans and raise their hands with a four-fingered anti-government gesture that commemorates the deadly crushing by police of a 2013 Islamist protest camp, in the Faysal district of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only group who have called on its supporters to take to the streets this Monday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Poster reads, “Military rule is a shame and a betrayal.” (AP Photo/Hesham Elkhoshny)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 15, 2017:

On my recent trip to Egypt, I met with Col. Khaled Okasha (ret), one of Egypt’s top former counter-terrorism officials, to discuss the developing security situation and to address a question that has received a lot of international media attention:

Is the Muslim Brotherhood directly engaged in terrorism?

Okasha, the director of the National Center for Security Studies, has literally written the books on the development of militant networks in Egypt. He graciously met with me for five hours upon my arrival in Cairo to discuss these issues.

He later sat down for a three-hour, on-the-record interview on the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks, the transcript of which is presented below.

The night previous to our second meeting, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist groups, Hassm, killed three policemen at a checkpoint in Nasr City:

We met in between two of his international media interviews on the Nasr City incident, and we had limited time as he had a scheduled BBC appearance later that day.

In the first part of this three-part interview, Col. Okasha talks about:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s long-time double game with terrorism
  • The crisis caused by Egypt’s rejection of Muslim Brotherhood rule and the massive June 30, 2013 Tamarod protests
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to provoke a sectarian war by launching attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
  • And the development of Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks under Guidance Bureau leader Mohamed Kamal and the two-front war targeting Egypt’s military and police forces

I’ve previously reported here at PJ Media on the Muslim Brotherhood attacks on churches in Upper Egypt, and the killing of Mohamed Kamal last October:

In Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Col. Okasha, we will discuss Mohamed Kamal’s terror networks in depth, and also the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in setting up Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which we know today as the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.

*****

Thank you, Mr. Okasha, for meeting with us again today. Could you briefly describe your professional career?

I started beginning in 1987 as special forces in the counter-terrorism unit active around Cairo until the early 1990s in the suburbs of Cairo, including Imbabah, Ain Shams, and Haram where the Gamaa Islamiya were very active back then.

You mentioned earlier about Gamaa Islamiya in the 1990s. Could you talk about your role when you were stationed in Upper Egypt, and what your later role was in Sinai?

After I served in Cairo there, a movement from the Gamaa Islamiya in Upper Egypt, specifically in Assiut and Minya, they were working on two perspectives. One of them was to wage a political war on the regime of Egypt, and the other was to recruit more jihadis to join the Afghanistan war. And that ended with the Luxor massacre in 1997, where I was stationed.

And Sinai?

I served in Sinai from 2008 until 2012, and I quit about six months after Morsi took office. Since then I’ve dedicated my time to research and to publish a lot of material on the jihadis and the militant Islamists.

In the U.S. we hear repeatedly from the media that the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s. Is that really the case?

Back at the time, the Brotherhood had a strategy to play a double game so that they could earn a place in the Arabic community all over the region before they started their armed militias.

That’s why at the beginning the Brotherhood began approaching the syndicates and political parties creating coalitions to push new faces into the political community and to play the card that they are only trying to be a political partner in ruling the country.

But in terms of their overall strategy, violence still remained a component to their activity?

Violence back then was based on the strategy of using other groups — other terrorist groups — to conduct their operations on their behalf.

Especially at this time was the peak of the Arab-Afghan jihadi and mujahideen network. That’s why they could use others to conduct their business.

At the same point, they were introducing themselves to the political and intelligence communities in the Arab world that they are the moderate face of Islamists, and they offered to work with them because they’re the peaceful face. They used the same tactic with the West, especially in the U.S., UK, and Germany, of course.

When we spoke the other day, you mentioned that after the June 30 protests and Morsi’s removal on July 3, and then the clearing of the Rabaa and Nahda protest sites, those events caused a crisis within the Brotherhood. Could you explain that?

At the beginning of the Arab Spring the Brotherhood were working to gain their dominance in the countries that were infected by the Arab Spring. They succeeded in some countries, they failed in others, and they’re suffering in some countries. In Egypt and Tunisia they politically succeeded in securing the Parliament and then the presidential elections.

Egypt is very special when it comes to the Brotherhood, because the Supreme Guide comes from Egypt, and according to their own constitution the Supreme Guide is the highest spiritual guidance for the Brotherhood all over the world. So they worked hard to maintain their power grabs on the establishments in Egypt.

When they were attacked by the people themselves and felt threatened, they were very afraid to lose all that they had been working on over the last two years to secure their power grab. So it was a real disaster for them because Egypt is the place where they started and the place where they had their headquarters.

And as we discussed the other day, the Brotherhood established two different fronts in response to Morsi’s removal that was a divided effort between Upper Egypt and Sinai. Could you start off discussing the role of Mohamed Kamal, who was a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, and his role in establishing the terror networks and cells operating in Upper Egypt?

As a matter of fact Mohamed Kamal was one of the youngest members of the Guidance Bureau, and he originally came from Assiut. He was responsible for memberships, and running the Brotherhood all over the governorates of Egypt. He had very wide connections with the Brotherhood in Assiut, and during the time that the Brotherhood was in power politically he was very careful not to establish any terror cells so that he wouldn’t attract the attention of the security apparatus in Egypt.

So at that time, the Brotherhood worked hard to present themselves to the Egyptian establishment that they are working politically to advance their position with the Gamaa Islamiya and the remnants of Islamic Jihad. They allowed them to establish their own political parties, and these political parties were used as a cover for the militants. At that time the Brotherhood would use the Gamaa and Jihad to conduct their militant operations and keep their hands clean of any terror attacks that were taking place at the time because they were in power politically.

How did Mohamed Kamal structure his terror cells, and what were some of the groups that were under his control?

The terror cells that are blatantly Brotherhood were formed after June 30 by Mohamed Kamal. It was a mix between the Gamaa Islamiya youth that were ready and trained to deal with a crisis like what happened on June 30 for the Islamists, and the other group of people he used were the Muslim Brotherhood youth. Some of those were at Rabaa and Nahda, while others were elsewhere, but they were shocked that they were ejected. They were not equipped, or they couldn’t form any sort of reaction to what happened, so he made his cells between those components, the Gamaa Islamiya and the Brotherhood youth.

He used them throughout 2013 and 2014, and the remnants of them are still active on the streets. Some of the groups were called Ajnad Misr, Helwan militias, Civil Resistance, another group called the Molotov Movement, another called Walaa, and then lately Hassm and Liwa al-Thawra.

Another very important component was the Hazemoon group, led by Hazem Salah Abu-Ismails, who was actually one of those political allies of the Brotherhood. He had a trained and armed group within his political group. The alliance between him and the Brotherhood started from 2011, and he was entrusted with sending the mujahedeen youth to Syria. So after June 30 Kamal used the Hazemoon group with the other two components to train and equip the Brotherhood youth who were not very familiar with the militant activity. That’s why in a matter of weeks you had active and operating terror cells all over Egypt. They were very focused on Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

Two of the other groups we heard a lot about during this period of time was Revolutionary Punishment and Popular Resistance. Were they also part of Mohamed Kamal’s network?

Yes, Popular Resistance is the Civil Resistance I mentioned earlier. Revolutionary Punishment was of course part of the groups I just listed, I just forgot to mention it, but it’s the same MO, it’s the same formation, it’s the same activity, and of course they both belong to the cells that Mohamed Kamal established.

What kinds of activities were these cells involved in?

They had two main targets when they started: security forces and security personnel, and also the armed forces that were stationed to protect public buildings. They conducted more than 25 to 30 successful operations that resulted in casualties, and they conducted more than 50 operations that had no casualties. The other main target was any public service establishment, like power stations, communications towers, railways, and subways. The point was to keep the pressure on, and to let the people know that they will always be under terror attacks, and these operations would go on at least weekly to keep the people in a constant panic mode.

One of the things we saw after August 14, when Rabaa and Nahda were cleared, were the attacks on the churches, particularly in Upper Egypt. What exactly was the strategy for the Brotherhood in the attacks on the churches?

After June 30 the larger strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood was composed of three main points.  Number one was Sinai, and that entails all the terror cells in Sinai, and their main target was to control the cities like Al-Arish and Rafah and establish an Islamic emirate on the borders with Gaza. The second strategy was creating many terrorist cells all over Egypt. That plan failed so they decided to focus on the central cities like Giza and Cairo as I said before. And number three they targeted the Christians, their buildings and business in order to start a sectarian war in Upper Egypt to put the new regime after June 30 in the midst of a sectarian war in Egypt.

But it doesn’t appear that strategy worked?

They were betting that Christians would fight back with arms, and that is what they were hoping would take place to destabilize the new government. But the pope went on television and told the Christians and June 30 supporters to not defend the churches the Brotherhood was attacking, saying that the churches could be rebuilt but not human lives.

***

PART TWO

PART THREE

Indonesia: Jakarta’s Christian governor guilty in “blasphemy” trial, gets two years prison

Jihad Watch, by Robert Spencer, May 9, 2017:

Ahok committed the cardinal sin of being a Christian in a position of authority. Islamic law forbids non-Muslims to hold authority over Muslims. That Ahok was governor of Jakarta made something like this show trial inevitable. That Islamic supremacists got him on blasphemy, and had to get him in the first place for the crime of being a Christian in authority, is an indication of how far Indonesia has moved from its supposedly “moderate” character.

“Jakarta governor Ahok found guilty in landmark Indonesian blasphemy trial,” by Ben Westcott, CNN, May 9, 2017:

(CNN)Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, has been sentenced to two years in prison, after being found guilty of blasphemy in a trial seen as a test of Indonesia’s religious tolerance.

In April, prosecutors had called for the blasphemy counts to be dropped in exchange for a lesser charge of “spreading hate,” but the judges appear to have ignored that recommendation.

The controversial Chinese Christian politician was put on trial in December over accusations that he insulted Islam while campaigning for re-election. He repeatedly denied the charges.

Ahok was detained immediately after the verdict and taken to the Cipinang detention center in East Jakarta, local media reported. He said he would immediately appeal the court’s decision.

The Jakarta governor sparked controversy in late 2016 after quoting a verse from the Quran to prove to his supporters that there were no restrictions on Muslims voting for a non-Muslim politician.

Almost no one who has been charged under the blasphemy law has ever escaped conviction, associate professor of Indonesian politics at the Australian National University Greg Fealy told CNN.

“The blasphemy law has really been a blight on the rule of law and democracy in Indonesia for decades,” he said, adding that “the fact that Ahok was charged at all was really a product of massive street demonstrations that frightened the government into acting.”

Growing conservatism

…While Indonesia has built a reputation as a tolerant, diverse nation, experts say Ahok’s conviction is the latest example of the country’s growing conservatism.

Recent years have seen large anti-LGBT protests in Jakarta in early 2016, a push to criminalize homosexual sex and passionate reactions to allegations of blasphemy.

An estimated 200,000 people converged on the center of the Indonesian capital to demand the arrest of its minority-Christian governor on November 4.

Since an edited video of Ahok’s remarks was released, hundreds of thousands of Muslim Indonesians have protested against him on the streets of Jakarta, with many calling for his jailing or even execution.
Roads near the Agriculture Ministry where the verdict was due to be delivered were closed from Monday evening in preparation, local media reported….

The Problem Is Not The Islamic State But Islamic Hate

Forget the symptom and consider the source for a moment.

Front Page Magazine, by Raymond Ibrahim, May 10, 2017:

A lie conceals the truth.  And ugly but hidden truths never have a chance of being acknowledged, addressed, and ameliorated.  Because of this simple truism, one of the greatest lies of our age—that violence committed in the name of Islam has nothing to do with Islam—has made an intrinsically weak Islam the scourge of the modern world, with no signs of relief on the horizon.

It is, therefore, useful to expose the main strategy used by liars in government, media, and academia: 1) to ignore the generic but chronic everyday reports of Muslim violence against non-Muslims around the world; 2) to address only spectacular Muslim violence, which, because it is almost always committed by professional jihadi groups can be portrayed as a finite, temporal, localized problem: defeat that particular “terrorist group” and the problem vanishes.

By way of example, consider the Islamic targeting of Christian churches.  Last month, after two Egyptian churches were bombed, leaving 51 worshippers dead, everyone was quick to point out that something called “ISIS”—which of course “has nothing to do with Islam”—was responsible.

On Easter Sunday, 2016, more than 3,000 miles away from Egypt, in Pakistan, approximately 70 Christians were killed in a bomb attack, also specifically targeting Easter celebrations.  Then we were told that something called “Taliban”—also “nothing to do with Islam”—was responsible.

Meanwhile, some 3,000 miles west of Egypt, in Nigeria, Christians are also under attack.  There, 11,500 Christians have been killed and 13,000 churches destroyed.  According to the official narrative, something called “Boko Haram” is responsible.  This is another group that habitually bombs churches during Christmas and Easter; another group that, we are told, “has nothing to do with Islam,” but rather is a finite, temporal, localized problem: defeat it, and the problem vanishes.

About 5,000 miles west of Nigeria, in the U.S., Americans were told that something called “al-Qaeda” attacked and killed 3,000 of their countrymen on 9/11; defeating that finite group would cease the terror.  Its leader, Osama bin Laden, was reportedly killed, and victory loudly proclaimed—until, that is, an even more savage manifestation called the “Islamic State” came on the scene and went further than al-Qaeda could’ve ever dreamed.

The problem is not merely that the liars in media, government, and academia refuse to connect the dots and insist on treating each of the aforementioned groups as disparate, finite groups with different “political” or “territorial” motivations—none of which has anything to do with Islam.  The greater issue is that regular Muslims who are not called “ISIS,” “Taliban,” “Boko Haram,” or “al-Qaeda,” commit similar acts—and much more frequently—though this is rarely mentioned by big media.

Thus, although ISIS claimed the Egyptian church bombing before Easter, it is everyday Egyptian imams who “preach hatred and violence against Christians to the public over loudspeakers”;  it is everyday Muslims who persecute Christians “every two or three days”;  every day Muslims who riot and kill whenever a rumor surfaces that a church is going to be built, or that a Coptic kid “blasphemed” against Muhammad, or that a Christian man is dating a Muslim woman.  In short, it is every day Muslims—not “ISIS”—who cause Egypt to be the 21stworst nation in the world in which to be Christian.

Similarly, though the Taliban claimed 2016’s Easter bombing, it is everyday Muslims who discriminate against, persecute, enslave, rape and murder Christians almost every day in Pakistan.  Thus it is everyday Muslims—not the Taliban—who make Pakistan the fourth worst nation in the world in which to be Christian, that is, a non-Muslim infidel.  And, though Boko Haram is always blamed for the more spectacular attacks on Christians and their churches, it is everyday Muslims, including the Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who make Nigeria the 12th worst nation in which to be Christian.

This is the real issue.  While the media may name the terrorist groups responsible for especially spectacular attacks, few dare acknowledge that Muslims in general engage in similar acts of violence and intolerance against non-Muslims all around the world.  Indeed, Muslims—of all races, nationalities, languages, and socio-political and economic circumstances, hardly just “terror groups”—are responsible for persecuting Christians in 40 of the world’s 50 worst nations in which to be Christian.  Accordingly, what “extremist” “terrorist” and “militant” groups are doing is only the notable tip of the iceberg of what Muslims are doing all around the world.  (See “Muslim Persecution of Christians,” reports which I’ve been compiling every month since July 2011 and witness the nonstop discrimination, persecution, and carnage committed by “everyday” Muslims against Christians.  Each monthly report contains dozens of atrocities, most of which if committed by Christians against Muslims would receive 24/7 blanket coverage.)

It bears repeating: Media aren’t just covering up for Islam by pretending that the spectacular attacks committed by Islamic groups on non-Muslims are finite, localized, and most importantly, “have nothing to do with Islam.” They are covering up for Islam by failing to report the everyday persecution non-Muslims experience at the hands of everyday Muslims—Muslim individuals, Muslim mobs, Muslim police, and Muslim governments (including America’s closest “friends and allies”)—and hardly just Muslim “terrorists.”  They dare not connect the dots and offer a holistic picture.

Accordingly, the world must continue to suffer from Islamic terror.  Not only have these lies allowed countless innocents to be persecuted into oblivion in the Muslim world, but they have allowed the same persecution to enter America and Europe, most recently via mass immigration.

The fact remains: an ugly truth must first be acknowledged before it can be remedied.   It may be hard to acknowledge an ugly truth—that Islam, not “radical Islam,” promotes hate for and violence against non-Muslims—but anything less will just continue to feed the lie, that is, continue to feed the jihad and terror.

In short, the problem is not so much the “Islamic State” as it is Islamic hate.  The former is but one of many temporal and historical manifestations of the latter, which, as an integral part of Islam, transcends time and space.

New Film Documents Muslim Genocide on Christians in the Middle East (Video)

Creeping Sharia, May 7, 2017:

Source: Faithkeepers: New Roma Downey Film Documents Christian Genocide in the Middle East | The Stream

“We want to say ‘never again,’” said Paula Kweskin, film producer, of genocide, “but in the last two decades we’ve seen so many instances of it. Why haven’t we changed?” she asked during an interview with The Stream. Kweskin has just produced a new documentary that details the horror of genocide, kidnappings and rape in the Middle East.

Documenting Genocide

Faithkeepers is a documentary of the Christian, Yadizi and other minorities genocide. Witnesses and victims of violence tell the story of how Christians and other minorities are literally being wiped out in the Middle East by ISIS and Muslim infighting. According to Kweskin, it’s a story that needed to be told.

Kweskin met Juliana Taimoorazy, an Assyrian-Christian activist, and learned of her harrowing story of escaping the Middle East. It was then that she decided to do the human rights project. Kweskin teamed up with Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel, among others) and Clarion Project to produce the film.

Protecting Those Who Bear Witness

But it wasn’t easy to get people to speak on camera. Some of those interviewed were glad to tell their story. Others were hesitant and wanted to be filmed in shadow. “It depend[ed] on how people responded to the trauma,” said Kweskin. Those interviewed saw beheadings of family members or experienced torture, kidnapping and rape. Others may have relatives still living in dangerous areas.

‘If I die, I die as a Christian’

It isn’t random violence. Christians, Yadizis and other faith minorities are tortured and killed because they won’t convert to Islam. Their churches and places of worship are destroyed. One woman described how she and her son watched his father be beheaded. Her son stopped talking. Another woman described how women drank rat poison to avoid the torture at ISIS’ hands. ISIS said they wouldn’t let the women die so easily. ISIS took them to the hospital where their stomachs were pumped. Another woman who was raped and tortured explained why she endured the horror. “My only wish was that if I die … I die as a Christian.”

Those who want to help can visit Faithkeepers‘ website. Screenings will also be held in churches nationwide beginning on May 23 for one month.

Also  see:

Father Samir: Egypt’s Palm Sunday Terror Reflects a Sickness Within Islam

The Egyptian priest, who is an authority on Islam, discusses the factors driving the murderous attacks on Christians and what he hopes the Pope will say when he visits Egypt this month.

National Catholic Register, by Edward Pentin, April 13, 2017: (h/t Christopher Holton)

VATICAN CITY — Oil money, Wahhabi extremism and an Islam unwilling to reform itself are the principal reasons for the terrorist attacks on two Egyptian churches on Palm Sunday and the rise of Islamism over the past 100 years.

This is according to Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, professor of Islamic studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, who says it is false when people say such attacks have nothing to do with Islam. “ISIS is not doing anything which is neither in the Quran nor in the Mohammedan tradition,” he says.

In this April 10 interview with the Register, Father Samir — who is Egyptian himself — discusses the main motivations behind Islamic violence, why it’s important to say exactly how things are within Islam and help reform it, and his hopes for Pope Francis’ April 28-29 visit to Egypt.

What are the primary causes of these attacks? What’s behind them? Is it primarily to do with Islam, politics or something else?

For a year or more, the Muslim Brotherhood were attacking regularly during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi (2012-2013); they were attacking Christians, for any reason. For instance, they alleged a Christian who was building a house for his two children was in fact not building a house, but a church, so they are trying to make problems for the Christians. This happens regularly, but it became much more intense.

Now this time, what we hear from Egypt is that ISIS is saying they are behind these attacks, but there’s also support from the Muslim Brotherhood because they were ejected from the political system. The feeling is that the attacks against Christians in Egypt are becoming more frequent and violent. This has never happened before, that they attack so many churches and precisely on such a great Christian feast. The last ones took place before Christmas, and now these two attacks during Holy Week. The intent is probably to attack the president indirectly, through the Christians, to say he’s not able to govern or control the situation. In north Sinai, they attacked Christians and so the government moved them. Now they’ve come back under the protection of the army. In the past month, we’ve had three big attacks, and four months ago we had the attack near the Coptic cathedral.

Is attacking Christians, therefore, really about attracting negative attention against the government more than it is against Christians per se?

It’s both because they attack Christians without reason, in different situations — this year, last year and so on. Christians and Jews are their enemies, but there are no more Jews in Egypt. Christians are 10% of the population, 9 million people. So this Islamic movement, for six years now, has simply wanted to create a new caliphate, by all means possible, because there’s a great crisis within the Islamic world, and the crisis is turning into violence.

What is precipitating this crisis?

In Islam they are not prepared nor able to renew themselves, as [Egypt’s] President [Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil] el-Sisi said in December 2014 when he took power. He spoke to Al-Azhar University and gave a beautiful speech, in which he said we need to make a revolution in Islam, to rethink the whole system. The scholars all applauded, said, “Yes, Yes,” but they haven’t changed anything in the teaching. Many intellectuals on Egyptian television came and developed this argument and said Al-Azhar is unable to make the reform we need. Nothing has changed.

Are you of the view that Islamism is the true Islam?

ISIS is the application of what is taught. It’s not outside Islam, or something invented. No, they are applying Islam. When we hear it has nothing to do with Islam — that it means salaam; that it means peace — this is all false. It’s not true. ISIS is not doing anything which is neither in the Quran nor in the Mohammedan tradition. Everything is taken after a decision taken by an imam. A mufti and imam will say this is or is not allowed.

This isn’t just a problem in Egypt, but Egypt represents the greatest and strongest country, and also where you have the most important school of Islamic learning — just as we have Rome for the Catholic Church, Islam has Al-Azhar University.

Given this fact, what do you think about the Pope’s visit to Cairo? Should he say this hard truth about Islam, but in a diplomatic way?

Yes. He should certainly be very diplomatic. He wants to be more than diplomatic, to foster good relations with them, this is sure. He is avoiding hard words. He never said Islam is also a religion of violence — he said the opposite. He said there’s no violence in religion and so on, because this is his aim: to help Muslims, who are the second-most important group in the world, to have a dialogue and understanding.

Is that an acceptable way of approaching the issue, in your view?

Well, it’s not my way. I think it’s important to say things with charity, with friendship, but to say things as they are: that it cannot continue like this; we have to rethink Islam. This is my vision. They cannot take the texts of the seventh century literally as they are in the Quran. He [the Pope] does not dare to say something like that because he doesn’t know the Quran well enough, and so on. So I understand his position, but it would be better to have a clearer and more frank discussion — with openness, but also with some realism.

The Pope called for the hearts of the terrorists to be converted and for the conversion of the hearts of those who traffic weapons. Is that a fair point, or is that not going to the root cause?

Certainly, in Egypt everyone says the whole structure of ISIS is something elaborated by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Wahhabi countries, against the Shia. It’s also my opinion. What does ISIS mean? It’s “Islamic State for Iraq and Syria.” This is the name they have chosen, taken from the Arabic Daesh, which means exactly that.

Now why Iraq and Syria? Because in Iraq we have a Shia government after the death of Saddam Hussein. The U.S.A. organized the country like that; they said the Shia are a small majority so the government should be led by Shia, with Sunni. In Syria the government is Alawite, which is a branch of Shia, although they are at most 15% of the population. This has been the case for 50 years now, with the father, Hafez al-Assad, and now his son, Bashar al-Assad. So the Sunni — who are 70%-75% — organized the protest against the government because they want to take power.

The question is religious, too, and supported by the rich countries of Arabia. And the rich buy the weapons from the U.S. principally, but also England, France, Italy and Germany to a smaller degree. So there is in fact an international war going on, but it is not clear. It seems to be they’re using this revolutionary Islamic State, which was partly formed by the U.S., from Iraq, after the occupation of Iraq, after the death of Saddam Hussein, because the U.S. formed a group of well-trained military. The so-called caliph, Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, was one of these people trained by the U.S.

So all the conditions were there, but no one was thinking it would be so savage, that it would be absolutely inhuman. They killed and tortured people; they took women and people as slaves and turned children into bombs.

This was unprecedented?

We had never seen something like that, so the reaction of official Islam is that this has nothing to do with Islam, but this is in fact a lie. It has 100% to do with Islam, with chosen texts from the Quran and sharia [Islamic law]. They’re not doing anything against Islamic law.

How much is Islamism primarily due to Islam rather than, perhaps, Arab culture? Why, for instance, does Islamism appear much less prominent in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, than in the Middle East? 

Everything comes from the Middle East in Islam, this is sure, but, unfortunately, even in Indonesia, where there are 220 million people, they are now no longer as they were 15 years ago. There was a Protestant who was elected to parliament, and they wanted to put him in prison simply because he said something against Muhammad. This was once unthinkable in Indonesia.

Then you have Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are much worse than what we see in the Arab world. The propaganda coming from the Wahhabi countries is organized to go everywhere — to Asia and Africa. You have Boko Haram [in Nigeria] and others in Sudan. This is the general movement of this Wahhabi thinking and for the imams. It’s organized by Al-Azhar, whether they want it to be or not.

Do you think Al-Azhar is also partly responsible for Islamism?

I don’t think Al-Azhar has wanted to create something like that, but the teaching they are giving, as a consequence, is a radical Islam. President el-Sisi some weeks ago proposed that, from now on, a man is not allowed to say to his wife: “You are repudiated” (I divorce you). The repudiation by words, as it is practiced today, means you just had to say three times you are repudiated in the presence of two Muslim men. He said no, from now on, all should go through a tribunal, but Al-Azhar refused with the argument that this was already in force in the time of Muhammad and we cannot touch it.

So the conflict is within Islam, and the solution is within Islam. We have to reform Islam and our understanding of Islam.

Why is it that 50-60 years ago, there wasn’t this level of violence?

Through the influence of the Wahhabi. And how did this influence come? Through oil, through money. The heart of the matter is that they buy the conscience of the people. Al-Azhar is partly financed by the Wahhabi, and all the mosques they’re building, the big mosque in Rome, is funded by the Wahhabi. They put in the imam, they pay and command what to do, and so they’re creating thousands of schools for boys and girls throughout the world, everywhere, also in China. In the Islamic part of China, the Chinese government is reacting very strongly and bringing non-Muslims to this part of the country just to change the mentality. So the question is the money.

Could it, therefore, possibly be argued that it’s more to do with the money — that it is money that is perverting Islam?

Friends from Lebanon now living in Paris said they’d had enough of this Bedouin religion — by that, they meant from Arabia. They said, “We are not Bedouins, and this is not our Islam.” That’s the point: There is a conjunction between people who are very radical because they adopted, at the end of 19th century, the most radical vision of Islam, and you cannot discuss anything.

In the Middle Ages, you had discussions: The fact that the Quran is divine — this was not the teaching of the first five centuries of Islam, but there was a discussion, with part saying it was divine and another that it was human, that it is created and uncreated. The discussion went on until the 11th and 12th century, and only then it became uncreated, divine. And being divine means that every word and comma is divine, and this is what people think today — the official Islam is saying that. That means that if I find a verse — “Kill them wherever you find them” — for instance, then you have to do it. And for Christians and Jews, it’s clear they have to pay the jizya and be humiliated, says the Quran. So they say: “They can live with us, but they first have to pay and, second, to be humiliated.” This is impossible today, so what they do is attack Christians, and nobody is protesting seriously.

How are Christians currently being discriminated against in Egypt?

There’s no jizya, but you cannot have an important post in the government, not like it was until the 1960s. We didn’t have a president, but a king, until 1954, and Christians had very important positions. Egyptian radio recently broadcast a magnificent program showing that the best schools for more than a century were the Christian schools, the ecclesiastical schools, as they say in Arabic, run by the Jesuits, the Anglicans, and so on. They formed all the best people of the state, and this is true. Until today we had in our Jesuit school in Cairo at least 40% Muslims. It was another atmosphere. Christians had a very important part to play in the 19th century, what we called our renaissance in Egypt, and it was achieved through the Christians. You cannot have that now, because they don’t give them their rightful place.

How bad is daily life now for Christians compared to 20-30 years ago, and why has it gotten worse?

Because of this Wahhabi movement, the Salafists also, and the Muslim Brotherhood. It was under control in the time of Nasser and also after that, but not in the time of [Anwar] Sadat. Now they have come back, and especially with the financing of Saudi Arabia, we had the Wahhabi tendency in universities and daily life. For instance, a few years ago, during Ramadan and other periods, they started forbidding beer. It was produced in Upper Egypt, but now it’s forbidden. So they are corrupting people with their money and ideology.

Much has to do with the oil money of the past 100 years.

Yes, and maybe change will come now, because the oil price is going down, and there is a conference now with the advent of fracking [fracking is negatively affecting the price of oil]. The question is the financing. Saudi Arabia is now using up its financial reserves, and the economy is now worsening.

Should we expect Islamism to worsen?

What we expect is that the situation will be more open-minded. This is what we want, not to be against Islam, but for it, for open-mindedness. We, as Christians, have to help Muslims and say: “Look, we’ve been through something similar in other centuries.” We have a mission to work together, to find a way to come out from this. Note that, at the moment, the government says there’s only 40% literacy, but certainly it’s higher. This is Egypt in the 21st century. The education of the 60% is also almost zero.

What are your hopes for the Pope’s visit?

The visit will certainly be positive. He is supposed to speak first with President el-Sisi, which is very important, as he’s open-minded, and he wants to build a modern state and not a religious state. Then he [the Pope] will visit Al-Azhar, which is also very important, and also the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is the great Church in Egypt, with 9 million people and with an open-minded patriarch. So this is important. The second day will be for the Catholic Church, which will also involve positive decisions and orientations.

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