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Speaking of al-Qaeda, on March 18, Joel Shrun, another American teacher, was shot dead eight times in Yemen by gunmen on a motorcycle. The assassins, who escaped after the attack, are members of the al-Qaeda linked “Supporters of Sharia” (which recently beheaded a “witch”). The group issued a message saying, “This operation comes as a response to the campaign of Christian proselytizing that the West has launched against Muslims,” calling Shrun “one of the biggest American proselytizers.”
Shrum’s employers strongly denied the charge: Shrum, 29, “was an American development worker who had been working in Yemen with his wife and two children since 2010. Unfortunately Joel S. has been accused of being a part of a proselytizing campaign, but the staff of ITDC, which consists of Muslims, Christians and other religions working together, has continually focused on human development, skill transfer and community development,” adding that “Joel S. was a very professional employee who highly respected the Islamic religion.” (Note the boilerplate kowtowing to Islam, which one would have thought unnecessary, at least in this context.)
However, an interview with Shrum’s wife makes clear that, not only was Shrum a devout Christian, but he likely shared his faith: “He lived in the reality that we are all created in the image of God and that nothing can separate us from the love of God…. These truths were an inspiration for everything that he did.” Moreover, there is no reason to doubt his Islamic murderers when they say he was killed for “proselytizing.” There are many other Americans in Yemen: if al-Qaeda was simply targeting American infidels in general, there would be more random killings.
To conclude, Small and Shrum were not missionaries devoted to proselytizing Muslims—if so, they would have probably been killed earlier—but they were Christians who were not hesitant to share the Gospel with anyone showing interest, including the Muslims of Iraq and Yemen. This was enough to kill them—the one by a student, the other by al-Qaeda.
Finally, it is well to recall that these two Americans had nothing in common with the indigenous Christians of the Muslim world; the arguments used to dispel the persecution of the latter—sectarian strife, political machinations, etc.—do not apply to the former. Instead, the only thing they have in common is Christianity. This reaffirms, yet again, that the animosity that killed the Americans Small and Shrum, is the same animosity that persecutes and kills the Islamic world’s Christian minorities—an animosity fundamentally based on religious intolerance.
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