Muslim Jihad in Christian Ethiopia: Lessons for the West

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). 


Not only does last week’s Muslim rampage against Ethiopia’s Christians highlight the travails Christians encounter wherever Islam has a sizable population, but it offers several insights, including some which should concern faraway, secular nations with Muslim minorities. According to Fox News:

Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes. At least one Christian has been killed, many more have been injured and anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 have been displaced in the attacks that began March 2 after a Christian in the community of Asendabo was accused of desecrating the Koran.

Remains of one of the churches destroyed during Muslim rampage.

For starters, this “medieval” attack is a reminder that countless churches have been destroyed or desecrated by jihadist terror since Islam rose to power in the Medieval era, evincing centuries of continuity. While the media mentions the more “spectacular” attacks on churches—in Iraq, in Egypt—most attacks go either unreported or underreported. (Some Muslim nations, such as U.S. “friend-and-ally,” Saudi Arabia, nip it in the bud by outlawing churches in the first place.)

Moreover, the dubious excuse used to justify this latest barbarous outburst—”desecration of the Koran”—is a reminder of the double-standards Bibles suffer in the Islamic world, where they are routinely confiscated and burned. Indeed, even as Muslim Ethiopians were rampaging, Muslim nations hailed as being “moderate”—Malaysia and Bangladesh—also made headlines last week with their deplorable treatment of Christians and Bibles. Worse, the West helps standardize such a biased approach: the U.S. government—Obama, Hillary, and any number of other grandstanders—rose up in condemnation when a virtually anonymous, small-town pastor threatened to burn the Koran, while saying nary a word about the countless Bibles daily mutilated in the Muslim world.

Such a gutless response is not surprising considering the sort of people who advise the military, such as Lt. Cmdr. Youssef Aboul-Enein, who recommends that, if ever an American soldier desecrates a Koran, U.S. leadership must offer “unconditional apologies,” and emulate the words of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond: “I come before you [Muslims] seeking your forgiveness, in the most humble manner I look in your eyes today, and say please forgive me and my soldiers,” followed by abjectly kissing a new Koran (Militant Islamist Ideology, p. 26).

Dispossessed Ethiopians pray.

Finally, for those Western observers who live beyond the moment and have an interest in the big picture, the long run—the world bequeathed to future generations—the issue of numbers revealed by this Ethiopian anecdote should give cause to pause. The Fox News report continues:

The string of attacks comes on the heels of several reports of growing anti-Christian tension and violence around the country where Muslims make up roughly one-third of the total population but more than 90 percent of the population in certain areas, 2007 Census data shows. One of those areas is Besheno where, on November 9, all the Christians in the city woke up to find notes on their doors warning them to convert to Islam, leave the city or face death.

As Jonathan Racho, an official at International Christian Concern, said, “It’s extremely disconcerting that in Ethiopia, where Christians are the majority, they are also the victims of persecution.” This oddity is explained by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s assertion that Ethiopian Islamists “have changed their tactics and they have been able to camouflage their activities through legal channels”—a strategy regularly implemented by Islamists wherever they are outnumbered, like in the U.S., prompting countermeasures such as Islamist Watch and the Legal Project.

That Muslims are an otherwise peaceable minority group in Ethiopia, but in enclaves where they represent the majority, they attack their outnumbered Christian countrymen—giving them a tweaked version of Islam’s three choices to infidels—suggests that Muslim aggression and passivity are very much rooted in numbers: the more Muslims, the more potential for “assertive” behavior.

Ethiopia has some of the world's oldest churches, including St. Mary of Zion, which was originally built in the 4th century but nearly destroyed during a 16th century jihad waged by the Somali Ahmad ibn Ibrahim.

This has lessons for the West, especially Europe, which in recent years has seen an unprecedented influx of Muslim immigrants, reaching some 53 million, a number expected to “nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim will shrink by 3.5%,” due to higher Muslim birth rates. In short, it is a matter of time before Muslims account for significant numbers in Europe—perhaps not the majority, but, as the Ethiopian example establishes, a majority is not necessary for the winds of jihad to blow.

Indeed, the story of Islam’s entry into Ethiopia, one of the oldest Christian civilizations, is illustrative. Around 615, when the pagan Quraysh were persecuting Muhammad’s outnumbered Muslim followers in Arabia, some fled to Ethiopia seeking sanctuary. The Christian king, or “Negus” of Ethiopia, welcomed and protected these Muslim fugitives, ignoring Quraysh demands to return them—and thus winning Muhammad’s gratefulness. Today, 14 centuries later, when Islam has carved itself a solid niche in Ethiopia, accounting for 1/3 of the population, Muslim gratefulness has turned to something else—not least a warning to Western states.

  • http://italiasvegliati.ilcannocchiale.it/ Francesco Mangascià

    Hypocrisy is the main characteristic of the Obama Administration, has nothing else to defend the intolerance of islamist..

  • Geppetto

    This type of news is not getting any play of significance in American media in particular and probably in the European media as well. From a limited perspective it would appear that fear of ridicule, defamation, condemnation and the threat of legal action, not to mention death threats and marginalization are probably significant. The Islamic Jihad is and has been at work in America for decades to create just this environment that the world now finds itself in. It's not a wolf in the woods keeping the "kids" in the house it's the wolf pack at the door, hungry and ready to pounce. They don't want just your food and your kids, they want you, your entire family, your house, everything in it and everything you own. Civilized, Judeo/Christian, western individuals can just not wrap their minds around it. At least not yet but there are cracks beginning to appear and Mr. Ibrahim and his ilk deserve all the credit.

  • abebeted

    what a sad newes whe people try to divided and roll policy folowed. first last time i saw
    they sayed 8 churches 6 churches and soo on and on.But does any body ask why?
    and also can you report to what happen muslim socaity they burn quran ,they burn mosques they kill muslims no body riport even the government teaking side too.
    this isn,t the solition the solition is equlity government has teak hands out off riligon
    the midya also do n,t teak sid

  • morristhewise

    Humanitarian assistance to the besieged civilians of Benghazi must be expanded to Black Africa. Millions are being hacked and raped to death while the US and Europe plays with their Ipods. One town on the Ivory Coast recently had over 800 of its citizens murdered. Humanitarians can stop the rapes and slaughter, they should pack their bags and visit Black Africa. Their moral values might shed light into the hearts of darkness.

    • Jhon

      The leaders of US and Europe only concern about Palestinians, you see?

  • ObamaYoMoma

    The article contains the untold truth, you can’t import Muhammadans into your country without also importing jihad and sharia, as jihad and sharia are intrinsic to Islam, meaning they are inseparable, and consequently you can’t get one without the other. Hence, once the population of Muhammadan immigrants eventually reaches critical mass, the Muhammadans will suddenly stop pretending to be moderate and peaceful, and start making demands. It happened like clockwork everywhere Muhammadan migration has occurred.

    Too bad we only have leftwing media in this country, i.e., the so-called MSM, and moderate media, i.e., Fox News. We really need a real rightwing media in this country. Indeed, there is a large vacuum in this country that needs to be filled and whoever fills this unfilled niche in America will inevitably make a killing. By the way, what would right wing media consist of? Only the unvarnished truth!

    The leftwing media and sorry to say Fox News, which is now partially owned by the House of Islam, will always disguise the truth about Islam.

  • Dispozadaburka

    "Malcom X wears a ring of the Black Muslims while giving the Masonic sign. Both Malcolm X and Black Muslim Leader Louis Farrakhyan were initiated into the 33rd degree of Prince Hall Freemasonry, an order exclusively made up of African ethnics."
    Texe Marrs- Author
    US, Islam Not in conflict Clinton says: Tells UN that only foe is terrorism By Barbara Slavin
    Sept 22, 1998 USA Today "President Clinton made an overture Monday toward Muslim nations, saying that terrorism was a global problem and those who view a clash between the West and Islam as inevitable are "terribly wrong.""
    "False prophets may use and abuse any religion to justify whatever political objectives they have – even cold-blooded-murder." Clinton told the UN General Assembly. "But that is not OUR UNDERSTANDING of Islam."
    Clinton's speech was seen as a gesture to the wider Muslim world.

  • Dispozadaburka

    Typo —Farrakhan .

  • White Hosue

    How many mosques are being burnt down by evangelist in Ethiopia?
    What is the benefit of evangelist using Quran as a toilet paper ?
    What is the benefit of building a church in an area where there is no christian resident for miles ?
    Do we care to know the answer for this or just be a bias and echo one sided story line only ?

    • Martin K.

      1) You tell…
      2.) A clean bottom, and paper is just that PAPER! Especially since ONLY the Kooran in the Arabic language should be venerated, not any book containing the "translations" of it
      3.) Again since you brought this up, can you cite a evidence that this did happen?
      4.) It seems to me the author of this story had in mind the Muslim violence meted out against Christians. Now if you want a "balanced" article why don you write one, in which both sides are equally vicious…. Or will you then downplay the Muslims crimes?

      The "unholey trinity" in Isam:

      1.) allah the "stoned-gawd" residing in mecca a former pagan idol
      2.) MoHAMmel the lice-ridden profeet sole spokesperson and "partner" of the above
      3.) the plagiarized Kooran containing so much foolishness, no wonder criticism is punished by death, especially if a Muslim leaves this worst man-made religion….

  • Badhaso

    The title read: "Muslim jihad in Christian Ethiopia".
    What does that mean? Isnt Ethiopia a secular nation? Or does it mean Ethiopian are 100% chrisitians? This is big lie. There are more than 40% muslims in ethiopia. Stop your lie.