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This article is reprinted from Stonegate Institute.
The Nigerian church bombings, wherein the Islamic group Boko Haram killed over 40 people celebrating Christmas mass, is just the most obvious example of anti-Christian sentiment in December. Elsewhere around the Muslim world, Christmas time for Christians is a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear, which is not surprising, considering Muslim clerics maintain that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication or killing someone.” A few examples:
• Egypt: The Coptic Church is being threatened with a repeat of “Nag Hammadi,” the area where drive-by Muslims shot to death six Christians as they exited church after celebrating Christmas mass in 2010. Due to fears of a repeat, the diocese has “cancel[ed] all festivities for New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.”
• Indonesia: In a “brutal act” that has “strongly affected the Catholic community,” days before Christmas, “vandals decapitated the statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto … a cross was stolen and the aspersorium was badly damaged.”
• Iran: There were reports of a sharp increase of activities against Christians prior to Christmas by the State Security centers of the Islamic Republic. Local churches were “ordered to cancel Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as a show of their compliance and support” for “the two month-long mourning activities of the Shia’ Moslems.”
• Malaysia: Parish priests and church youth leaders had to get “caroling” permits—requiring them to submit their full names and identity card numbers at police stations—simply to “visit their fellow church members and belt out ‘Joy to the World,’ [or] ‘Silent Night, Holy Night.’”
• Pakistan: “Intelligence reports warned of threats of terrorist attacks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” adding that most church security is “inadequate.” Christians also lamented that “extreme power outages have become routine during Christmas and Easter seasons.”
Meanwhile, if Christians under Islam are forced to live like dhimmis—non-Muslims under Muslim authority, treated as second-class citizens—in the West, voluntarily playing the dhimmi to appease Muslims during Christmas time is commonplace: the University of London held Christmas service featuring readings from the Quran (which condemns the incarnation, that is, Christmas); and “a posh Montreal suburb has decided to remove a nativity scene and menorah from town hall rather than acquiesce to demands from a Muslim group to erect Islamic religious symbols.”
Categorized by theme, the rest of December’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed according to theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily severity.
Ethiopia: A video of some 500 Muslims burning down a church on November 29 while crying “Allahu Akbar!” appeared. The pretext for burning this church was that it had no “permit”—even though it was built on land owned by Christians for 60 years.
Indonesia: An “Islamic extremist” group is pushing hard to have five churches demolished, again, to claims that the churches have no permit. The congregation of another “embattled church” that Muslims are trying to shut down “was forced to move its Christmas prayers to a member’s house after Islamic groups assembled at the disputed site making threats.
Iran: While celebrating Christmas, a church was raided by State Security. All those present, including Sunday school children, were arrested and interrogated. Hundreds of Christian books were seized. The detained Christians suffered “considerable verbal abuses”; the whereabouts of others arrested, including the reverend and his wife, remain unknown. “Raids and detentions during the Christmas season are not uncommon in Iran, a Shi’a-majority country that is seen as one of the worst persecutors of religious minorities.”
Nigeria: Weeks before the Christmas Day church bombings, another jihadi attack, enabled by “local Muslims,” left five churches destroyed and several Christians killed: “The Muslims in this town were going round town pointing out church buildings and shops owned by Christians to members of Boko Haram, and they in turn bombed these churches and shops.”
Turkey: A large-scale al-Qaeda plot to bomb “all the churches in Ankara,” was exposed. An official indictment against al-Qaeda members earlier arrested revealed the homegrown terrorist cell’s plans to attack Ankara’s churches and their Christian clergy.
APOSTASY, BLASPHEMY, and PROSELYTISM
Algeria: In May, a Muslim convert to Christianity was sentenced to a five-year prison term on charges of “insulting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and with ‘proselytism’ for giving a Muslim a CD about Christianity.” Now the judge has decided “to indefinitely postpone” the man’s appeal, thus “show[ing how] the judicial system keeps Christians in limbo without officially punishing or acquitting them.”
Kashmir: The top Islamic clergyman launched a website against apostasy and the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. The website works to “check the conversion of young [Muslim] boys and girls [to Christianity]”; its “fundamental goal” is to “thwart catastrophic [Christian] missionary activities.”
Iran: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who caught the attention of the world after being imprisoned and awaiting execution for leaving Islam, may have to wait another year for a ruling on whether the sentence will be upheld, as authorities continue to delay, in the hopes that the world will forget. Meanwhile, authorities continue “to pressure Nadarkhani to recant his faith,” giving him and ordering him to read “Islamic literature aimed at discrediting the Bible. The court reportedly has been told to use whatever means necessary to compel Nadarkhani to recant his faith.” Another convert to Christianity recently told of his experiences: “When my family and friends learned of my decision, they didn’t accept it and rejected me as a result. They made me leave our family home. In addition, my friends treated me like my family had and began calling me an apostate and an infidel. In Iran, anyone who converts to Christianity faces various problems. In spite of the love I had for my family, I had to leave my home. Everyone rejected me.”
Malaysia: Lamenting that “It could be hundreds, maybe even thousands” of Muslims converting to Christianity, a former state-commissioner has been “collecting data” to “persuade” the apostates to return to Islam: “We are helping them, hoping they will come back to Islam.” Likewise, the Sultan of Selangor, a Malaysian state, has ordered top-level Islamic organizations to take strategic steps against proselytism, “so that Muslims who have began distancing themselves from Islam will return to the fold and repent.”
Pakistan: After a Muslim family discovered their son had converted to Christianity, not only did “his father put up a notice in local newspapers disowning him,” but his family “file[d] a police complaint against him because—as a murtad or apostate deserving death—he was said to have committed “blasphemy.” Likewise, after a rent-related quarrel, a Muslim landlord accused his Christian tenant of desecrating the Quran, which led to crowds of Muslims surrounding the Christian’s house, making threats and hurling anti-Christian slogans; “Muslim leaders made announcements from several mosques calling for severe punishment.” He was arrested and charged under Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws, which make willful desecration of the Quran punishable with life imprisonment.
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