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Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.
Several reports appearing in July indicate that Christian minorities all around the Muslim world—especially women and children—are being abducted, tortured, raped, forced to convert to Islam, and/or enslaved.
In Egypt, at least 550 such cases have been documented in the last five years, and have only increased since the revolution. Christians who manage to escape back to their families often find the government siding with their Muslim abductors. One young mother who recently testified before the Helsinki Commission explained how she was snatched in broad daylight, as her abductor shouted to bystanders while dragging her to a waiting taxi, “No one interfere! She is an enemy of Islam.”
Identical reports are emerging from Pakistan, where “persecution, kidnapping and abduction of Christian women and girls,” including many married women with children, are on the rise. Last year the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that 1800 Christian and Hindu girls were forcibly converted to Islam. Most recently, the sister of a pastor was “kidnapped raped and forcibly converted to Islam.” She “was kidnapped around a month ago by some Muslim men while returning home from college. She was held for days, suffered sexual abuse, threats and violence. In such a state of terror and exhaustion, first she was coerced into converting to Islam, and then marriage. Her family reported the incident to the police station in Chunian, but no investigations have been conducted and instead her abductors have presented a report to the court attesting to the girl now being Muslim and legally married. Among other things, the girl is a minor and, according to the law, marriage is not permitted to minors.”
The tiny Palestinian Christian community in the Hamas-run Gaza strip is also under siege and charges that five Christians were abducted and pressured into converting to Islam. Because they made this forced conversion charge known, “members of the Christian community now fear reprisal attacks by Muslim extremists.” Some have appealed to the Vatican and Christian groups and churches in the West for help. Yet “we only hear voices telling us to stay where we are and to stop making too much noise,” said a Christian man living in Gaza City: “If they continue to turn a blind eye to our tragedy, in a few months there will be no Christians left in Palestine. Today it’s happening in the Gaza Strip, tomorrow it will take place in Bethlehem.”
Categorized by theme, July’s assemblage of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity.
Indonesia: Muslim protesters forced a church to shut down during a Sunday worship on claims that it was operating without a permit, and hung a banner on the church’s gate reading “We the people … hardily reject the use of this building … for religious activities.” The church’s committee secretary said the church has the necessarily permits to hold services,” yet “the majority of the people still reject the church’s activity.”
Iran: Both the Central Assembly of God Church in Tehran and its summer campsite—once a popular site for Christian gatherings and conferences—were closed by authorities of the Islamic Republic, who also posted a large notice on the gates “warning of severe consequences should anyone try to enter the premises.” These latest closures follow the official termination of Friday Persian language services and the compulsory cancellation of all Bible classes and the distribution of Christian literature. Also, as part of the crackdown on house churches, plainclothes agents of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance continued raiding, arresting, and “aggressively interrogating” assembled worshippers.
Lebanon: Ahead of the Maronite Patriarch’s visit to Akker, flyers signed by the “Soldiers of the Great Prophet” made anti-Christian threats in what has traditionally been the safest Mideast country for Christians, calling “on the infidels to stop their blasphemy … We will start from the infidel’s church in Akker and we won’t stop … this is not the end but the beginning,” read the flyer.
Kenya: Seven Islamic jihadis launched simultaneous grenade and gunfire attacks on two churches while the congregations were at prayer. Five militants attacked the Africa Inland Church, killing 17 people and wounding approximately 60, including many women and children; two other Muslim terrorists attacked the nearby Catholic Church, wounding three.
Kuwait: After approval was issued for the construction of a church, a group of Islamic preachers, echoing the words of the Saudi Grand Mufti, reasserted that churches are not permitted to be built in Muslim countries. One sheikh “expressed displeasure” against those approving the construction of the church, “stressing that it is not permissible as per the Sharia,” adding that “excuses” such as saying that the building of a church “is a matter of human rights and international norms is not acceptable, as Islam comes first, and people should respect religion first before serving humanity or anything else.”
Turkey: The existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery near the Turkish-Syrian border, is at risk after a ruling by Turkey’s highest appeals court. Inhabited today by only a few dozen Christians dedicated to learning the monastery’s teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and the Orthodox Syriac tradition, neighboring Muslims with the support of an MP member of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) filed a lawsuit accusing the Christians of practicing “anti-Turkish activities” and of illegally occupying land which belongs to Muslim villages. The highest appeals court in Ankara, which is close to the government, ruled in favor of the Muslim villagers, saying the land that has been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, and even claimed that the monastery was built over the ruins of a mosque—even though Mohammed was born 170 years after its foundation.
Apostasy and Blasphemy
Egypt: A Christian teacher was arrested and detained after being accused of posting cartoons insulting to Islam and its prophet on Facebook. The man faces up to five years in jail if convicted of blasphemy. While admitting he manages the site in question, he said the site was hacked. Earlier in April, a Christian teenager was sentenced to three years in prison for posting cartoons perceived to mock Islam’s prophet on his Facebook page. Likewise, Christian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris posted Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed in Islamic attire, which landed him in court, though he was later acquitted.
Iran: Pastor Youssef Nadarkhani, who has spent over 1,000 days in prison awaiting execution for refusing to recant Christianity, is only one of many persecuted in Iran for their faith. A six-year prison sentence for Pastor Farshid Fathi Malayeri—another Muslim convert to Christianity—was recently upheld following an unsuccessful appeal hearing. Also, another prominent house church pastor, Benham Irani, remains behind bars, even as his family expresses concerns that he may die from continued abuse and beatings, leading to internal bleeding and other ailments; authorities refuse to give him medical treatment. The verdict against him contains text that describes the pastor as an apostate, adding that apostates “can be killed.”
Pakistan: A Christian couple continue to be on the run since they embraced Islam back in 2006, only to reconvert to Christianity. Upon learning that the couple returned to Christianity, neighboring Muslims attacked and persecuted them; one of the husband’s best friends abducted and tortured him, while beating the wife. “[One] should have the freedom to choose the religion one wishes to follow,” said the Christian husband.
Saudi Arabia: A court is looking into an apostasy case concerning a 28-year-old Muslim woman’s conversion. The father alleges that a Saudi and a Lebanese played a role in converting his daughter to Christianity and smuggling her to Lebanon, where she has received sanctuary in an anonymous church.
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