Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World

church-burning1Originally published by the Hoover Institution Journal.

To order Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Againclick here.


Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history, worse even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero. Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every five minutes. And most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians, forty-two have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.

The extent of this disaster, its origins, and the reasons why it has been met with a shrug by most of the Western media are the topics of Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Again. Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow of the Middle East Forum. Fluent in Arabic, he has been tracking what he calls “one of the most dramatic stories” of our time in the reports and witnesses that appear in Arabic newspapers, news shows, and websites, but that rarely get translated into English or picked up by the Western press. What he documents in this meticulously researched and clearly argued book is a human rights disaster of monumental proportions.

In Crucified Again, Ibrahim performs two invaluable functions for educating people about the new “Great Persecution,” to use the label of the Roman war against Christians. First, he documents hundreds of specific examples from across the Muslim world. By doing so, he shows the extent of the persecution, and forestalls any claims that it is a marginal problem. Additionally, Ibrahim commemorates the forgotten victims, refusing to allow their suffering to be lost because of the indifference or inattention of the media and government officials.

Second, he provides a cogent explanation for why these attacks are concentrated in Muslim nations. In doing so, he corrects the delusional wishful thinking and apologetic spin that mars much of the current discussion of Islamic-inspired violence.

Ibrahim’s copious reports of violence against Christians range across the whole Muslim world, including countries such as Indonesia, which is frequently characterized as “moderate” and “tolerant.” Such attacks are so frequent because they result not just from the jihadists that some Westerners dismiss as “extremists,” but from mobs of ordinary people, and from government policy and laws that discriminate against Christians. Rather than ad hoc reactions to local grievances, then, these attacks reveal a consistent ideology of hatred and contempt that transcends national, geographical, and ethnic differences.

In Afghanistan, for example, where American blood and treasure liberated Afghans from murderous fanatics, a court order in March 2010 led to the destruction of the last Christian church in that country. In Iraq, also free because of America’s sacrifice, half of the Christians have fled; in 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was bombed during mass, with fifty-eight killed and hundreds wounded.

In Kuwait, likewise, the beneficiary of American power, the Kuwait City Municipal Council rejected a permit for building a Greek Catholic church. A few years later, a member of parliament said he would submit a law to prohibit all church construction. A delegation of Kuwaitis was then sent to Saudi Arabia––which legally prohibits any Christian worship–– to consult with the Grand Mufti, the highest authority on Islamic law in the birthplace of Islam, the Arabian Peninsula.

The Mufti announced that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” a statement ignored in the West until Ibrahim reported it. Imagine the media’s vehement outrage and condemnation if the Pope in Rome had called for the destruction of all the mosques in Italy. The absence of any Western condemnation or even reaction to the Mufti’s statement was stunning. Is there no limit to our tolerance of Islam?

Moreover, it is in Egypt––yet another beneficiary of American money and support–– that the harassment and murder of Christians are particularly intense. Partly this reflects the large number of Coptic Christians, the some sixteen million descendants of the Egyptian Christians who were conquered by Arab armies in 640 A.D. Since the fall of Mubarak, numerous Coptic churches have been attacked by Muslim mobs. Most significant is the destruction of St. George’s church in Edfu in September 2011. Illustrating the continuity of mob violence with government policy, the chief of Edfu’s intelligence unit was observed directing the mob that destroyed the church. The governor who originally approved the permit to renovate the building went on television to announce that the “Copts made a mistake” in seeking to repair the church, “and had to be punished, and Muslims did nothing but set things right.”

The destruction of St. George’s precipitated a Christian protest against government-sanctioned violence against Christians and their churches in the Cairo suburb of Maspero in October 2011. As Muslim mobs attacked the demonstrators to shouts of “Allahu Akbar” and “kill the infidels,” the soldiers sent to keep order helped the attackers. Snipers fired on demonstrators, and armored vehicles ran over several. Despite the gruesome photographs showing the crushed heads of Copts, the Egyptian military denied the charges, but then claimed that Copts had hijacked the vehicles and ran over their co-religionists.

False media reports of Copts murdering soldiers fed the violence. Twenty-eight Christians were killed and several hundred wounded. In the aftermath, thirty-four Copts were retained, including several who had not even been at the demonstration. Later, two Coptic priests had to stand trial. Meanwhile, despite an abundance of video evidence, the Minister of Justice closed an investigation because of a “lack of identification of the culprits.”

The scope of such persecution, the similarity of the attacks, and the attackers’ motives, despite national and ethnic differences, and the role of government officials in abetting them, all cry out for explanation. Ibrahim clearly lays out the historical and theological roots of Muslim intolerance in the book’s most important chapter, “Lost History.” Contrary to the apologists who attribute these attacks to poverty, political oppression, the legacy of colonialism, or the unresolved Israeli-Arab conflict, Ibrahim shows that intolerance of other religions and the use of violence against them reflects traditional Islamic theology and jurisprudence.

First Ibrahim corrects a misconception of history that has abetted this misunderstanding. During the European colonial presence in the Middle East, oppression of Christians and other religious minorities was proscribed. This was also the period in which many Muslims, recognizing how much more powerful the Europeans were than they, began to emulate the political and social mores and institutions of the colonial powers.

Thus they abolished the discriminatory sharia laws that set out how “dhimmis,” the Christians and Jews living under Muslim authority, were to be treated. In 1856, for example, the Ottomans under pressure from the European powers issued a decree that said non-Muslims should be treated equally and guaranteed freedom of worship. This roughly century-long period of relative tolerance Ibrahim calls the Christian “Golden Age” in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, as Ibrahim writes, the century-long flourishing of Middle Eastern Christians “has created chronological confusions and intellectual pitfalls for Westerners” who take the “hundred-year lull in persecution” as the norm. In fact, that century was an anomaly, and after World War I, traditional Islamic attitudes and doctrines began to reassert themselves, a movement that accelerated in the 1970s. The result is the disappearance of Christianity in the land of its birth. In 1900, twenty percent of the Middle East was Christian. Today, less than two percent is.

Having corrected our distorted historical perspective, Ibrahim then lays out the justifying doctrines of Islam that have made such persecution possible during the fourteen centuries of Muslim encounters with non-Muslims. The foundations can be found in the Koran, which Muslims take to be the words of God. There “infidels” are defined as “they who say Allah is one of three” or “Allah is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary”––that is, explicitly Christian. As such, according to the Koran, they must be eliminated or subjugated. The most significant verse that guides Muslim treatment of Christians and Jews commands Muslims to wage war against infidels until they are conquered, pay tribute, and acknowledge their humiliation and submission.

In the seventh century, the second Caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab, promulgated the “Conditions of Omar” that specified in more detail how Christians should be treated. These conditions proscribe building churches or repairing existing ones, performing religious processions in public, exhibiting crosses, praying near Muslims, proselytizing, and preventing conversion to Islam, in addition to rules governing how Christians dress, comport themselves, and treat Muslims.

“If they refuse this,” Omar said, “it is the sword without leniency.” These rules have consistently determined treatment of Christians for fourteen centuries, and Muslims regularly cite violations of these rules as the justifying motives for their attacks. As a Saudi Sheikh said recently in a mosque sermon, “If they [Christians] violate these conditions, they have no protection.” From Morocco to Indonesia, Christians are attacked and murdered because they allegedly have tried to renovate a church, proselytized among Muslims, or blasphemed against Mohammed––all reasons consistent with Koranic injunctions codified in laws and the curricula of school textbooks.

Both Islamic doctrine and history show the continuity of motive behind today’s persecution of Christians. As Ibrahim writes, “The same exact patterns of persecution are evident from one end of the Islamic world to the other––in lands that do not share the same language, race, or culture––that share only Islam.” But received wisdom in the West today denies this obvious truth. The reasons for this attitude of denial would fill another book. As Ibrahim points out, the corruption of history in the academy and in elementary school textbooks have replaced historical truth with various melodramas in which Western colonialists and imperialists have oppressed Muslims.

These and other prejudices have led American media outlets to ignore or distort Islamic-inspired violence, as can be seen in the coverage of the Nigerian jihadist movement Boko Haram. These jihadists have publicly announced their aim of cleansing Nigeria of Christians and establishing sharia law, yet Western media coverage consistently ignores this aim and casts the conflict as a “cycle of violence” in which both sides are equally guilty.

As Ibrahim concludes, even when Western media report on violence against Christians, “they employ an arsenal of semantic games, key phrases, convenient omissions, and moral relativism” to promote the anti-Western narrative that “Muslim violence and intolerance are products of anything and everything––poverty, political and historical grievances, or territorial disputes––except Islam.”

Within the global Muslim community, there is a civil war between those who want to adapt their faith to the modern world, and those who want to wage war in order to recreate a lost past of Muslim dominance. We do the former no favor by indulging Islam’s more unsavory aspects, since those aspects are exactly what need to be changed if Muslims want to enjoy the freedom and prosperity that come from political orders founded on human rights and inclusive tolerance. Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Again is an invaluable resource for telling the truth that could promote such change.

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  • Texas Patriot

    What a refreshing change of pace. A classically trained Western intellectual and an academically accredited college professor who is actually capable of seeing the truth. Let me ask you, Professor. Is there anyone else in America’s college and university community who sees things as clearly as you? Or are you the only one? And if you are the only one, what in the world has happened to pull the blinders over the eyes of so many people whom we would ordinarily expect to be the most sensitive to the kinds of human rights abuses that are now taking place on such a widespread basis? In other words, how can this really be happening with so few people being able to recognize it? It would seem that something really strange is going on here, and I’m wondering if you have any theories to explain it. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have on this subject, and thanks for your great review of Raymond Ibrahim’s book. A little light is better than no light, and a little truth is better than no truth. Keep up the great work!

    • geneww1938

      I know of many academia in Biblical Christian universities and seminaries who understand and are explaining this problem promulgated by the Koran and ‘leaders’* attempting to remove God and specifically Jesus from our society.

      *These ‘leaders’ are those who never had, or abandoned or sold out their, “Biblical principals” for the “American Dream”. This false ‘dream’ is to amass wealth, power, fame, and gratification of lustful desires via drugs, alcohol, perverted sex without without the guilt of wrong doing by trying to ignore or eliminate God .

    • itaintmojo

      I don’t know how the professor would answer you. For me its quite clear that every POTUS going back to at least Jimmy Carter has strong ties to Arabs Sheiks, with oil deals and other business interests. So most Americans don’t know, and are not informed of what Sharia law represents. American Administration’s won’t expose what Sharia is. Obama for one, is allergic to the word Sharia, and refuses to acknowledge 911, and the Boston atrocity were committed by Sharia followers. If Obama ever were to state public outrage of how Christians are being persecuted, that would piss off his buddy Erdogan of Turkey, and every Arab leader who runs a Sharia law govt. Jimmy Carter, for one sold out to Sheiks. He still receives large sums from Arabs for his Carter Center, and in return Carter assists in spreading misinformation about Israel. I find it strange, seeing as America is majority Christian, but has remained silent, while radical Sharia Islam pillages Christians.

  • Chez

    The vexing quandary remains: How, in the face of a willful media blackout, to inform the American/European public about this documented, systematic Muslim persecution of Christians and its historical/theological roots?

    (PS…, one wonders about the reactions of DHS and NSA officials who are possibly monitoring these comments. Do they see us in only antipathetic terms, or on some level, are they in sympathy? Might the logic and rationality of our arguments make an impression on them?….or are they just mindless bureaucrats doing a job….or worse, sharing an ideological affinity for our adversaries? )

    • herb benty

      The latter it appears as Obama’s left- wing considers capitalism, freedom, Jews, Christians and Patriots to be the enemy. Obama told his Muslim Brotherhood friends,” the future does not belong to those who insult Islam”. Insulting Islam includes telling the truth about Islam. Is this attitude compatible with America.. at all?!

  • Walter Sieruk

    One of the main reasons that so many Muslims in the Islamic world so much dislike and even hate Christians and Christianity is because the imams and mullah keep speaking unfounded and untrue yet awful and terrible things about Christians and Christian doctrines to the people in the mosque. So much so that they get all worked up against Christans and Christian places of worship that they even engage in violence against Christians and Church buildings get firebombed. These imams and mullahs don’t really care if the things they speak about Christians and Christian teaching are true or not. Just as long as they keep speaking evil of Christians and Christianity. The Bible explains about such men as these imams and mullahs. For in Second Peter 2:12. it reads “The speak evil of things they do not understand and will utterly perish in their corruption.”
    It also should be noted the in this Bible context,as well as in John 3:16., the word “perish” does not mean loss of being but loss of well being. As in going to ruin by ending up suffering forever in the Lake of fire.

  • Gee

    But main stream American media blames it all on Israel – the only country in the entire Middle East where the Christian community faces no discrimination and has a growing population.

  • herb benty

    Well said and to the point!

  • ReyR

    But they live in fear, because they know that our civilization has always defeated them in the end. We are forgiving just as our god is, contrary to their supreme psychopath; we are moral and infinitely patient, but sooner or later we retaliate, and we have always defeated them. Like an unrestrained rabid dog, they run in circles around us, they bark and bite and slobber in fear, afraid of what they know will eventually happen. This fear is behind their victim mentality, because they live in an inner conflict: their wishful thinking tells them that they are best, but in their heart they know that they will be defeated.
    We can call this “the Christian tragedy OF the Muslim world”.

  • Deerknocker

    How can we in the West continue to permit immigration of Muslims to our lands when we know a sizable proportion of those immigrants, if not all of them, embody religious intolerance and violence? Do we think immigrants abandon their intolerance at the border? Must we tolerate the intolerant?

    • Sue

      Exactly, and as we recently saw with the Boston bombers, doesn’t matter what this country gives them, they will always be Muslims first. It is interesting that Italy and Denmark are paying immigrants to leave. A lot of countries having problems with Muslim’s especially. Paris has a no go zone for non Muslims as does Norway. Michigan very close as well.

      • ReyR

        Paying them to leave is wrong, it’s dhimmitude, it means we give in to their racket scam. They are breeding so fast we’ll never be rich enough to pay them all.
        And creating enclaves and no-go zones for them is a road to perdition for us, as Fjordman so convincingly explained in one of his posts on ‘Gates of Vienna’.
        They must be controlled and supervised, and the unruly ones (those who insist on remaining Muslims) must be driven out. They will leave when 1) dhimmis stop keeping them, 2) they are placed under surveillance.
        As long as liberals rule, this will never be done.

        • Chris

          Excellent point. I keep saying it: draw up the deportation lists and start building the concentration camps. Civilization demands it

  • Sue

    Is there a way that we could sponsor those be persecuted to come here? Our borders seem to be wide open anyway.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Even that would offend the Muslim Brotherhood and any organized jihadi groups. I’m not joking. Our government can’t acknowledge it publicly in any way without backlash and none of them have enough backbone to deal with it.

      There are a few in congress, but they can’t even deal with MB infiltration questions without getting completely demonized by the media, cranks on the left and even many RINOs.

      We’d have to form some kind of petition drive so that they understand how many people have noticed this insanity. Right now the ones who listen to the Saudis and the MB believe that they can use political spin to control us. So far, they’ve been right about that.

      • Sue

        Then we should do that. I am not that good of a writer or I would do it. does this. Several countries are having the same problem, you would think our world leaders could do something.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          That’s what Horowitz Freedom Center does. That’s why a lot of us participate here. What you should do is continue to learn enough so that you can explain to your neighbors, family and anyone else that will listen what is happening.
          It needs to be grass roots. Any leader that rises high enough will have to either remain patient like the few congressmen we have, or sell out and pretend they will deal with it another day.
          Once the grass roots movement is strong enough, leaders can emerge without getting cut down by the various pro-jihadi interests that operate freely in the West.

          • Drakken

            Unfortunately Horowitz believes we can live in peace with the muslims when history is quite clear that we cannot. We will have warfare before the harbingers can get the word out and the bloodletting begins.

  • Texas Patriot

    The truth of the matter is that Islam is a totalitarian religion that came among us under false pretenses of being a religion of peace. It is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of conquest and submission, which is absolutely antithetical to Western notions of individual freedom and democracy. The only question is whether we wish to continue to tolerate a religion that is absolutely and irrevocably committed to destroying Western values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equal protection of the law, and separation of church and state.

    • ReyR

      TP. Islam is not just a religion. It is a system of totalitarian tenets, whereof religion is merely a component, even if the most important. It is even more ruthless and totalitarian than communism or fascism, since it is supported by a religious dogma. You can engage in negotiations and discussions with a communist or a nazi, and sometimes you can change them, because when they accepted that ideology in past, it was an act of free will for them, they started from certain premises and were convinced by certain arguments. But a religious dogma cannot be challenged, it is sacred and final truth in the mind of the blind believers. And unlike the merciful and forgiving teaching of Jesus, Islam is all about violence, vengeance, submission and hate. This is why Islam is ultimate evil.

    • Drakken

      I am very sure that you have noticed that the winds of war are blowing.

      • Texas Patriot

        I have noticed that the winds of truth are blowing, and truth always leads to change. War with Islam is a possibility, but not a certainty. The experience of Muslims in the West has not been a happy one, and it would not surprise me in the least if they voluntarily chose to return to Muslim lands where they could freely practice the faith of Islam in accordance with the full measure of Islamic law without any opposition whatsoever. Like the legendary Bedu tribesman who come and go like the desert wind, there is no guarantee of a continued Islamic presence in the West.

        • Drakken

          The muslims won’t be leaving our lands voluntarily, they will either be forced out, or will be fleeing for their lives before the west ” Lets allah sort it out” becomes the rule and not the exception.

          • Texas Patriot

            There are many reasons Muslims may want to leave the West that have nothing to do with force or fear. Muslims are not cowards and most would rather die for Islam rather than retreat in the face of a superior force. But Muslims have priorities that we in the West can only dimly understand. If we wake up one morning and they are all gone, we should not be surprised.

  • Bob Almighty

    This sort of Muslim jihad against Christians and Hindus has been going on since the beginning of Islam. This is a major way the Muslim Empire has spread over many centuries. Western countries need to patriate as many of these Christian refugees as possible.

  • Beth

    “Imagine the media’s vehement outrage and condemnation if the Pope in Rome had called for the destruction of all the mosques in Italy.”

    One has to wonder…..who really owns the US media.

    “The same exact patterns of persecution are evident from one end of the Islamic world to the other––in lands that do not share the same language, race, or culture––that share only Islam.”

    The tree (koran) is known by its fruit. This simple piece of logic is refused by the majority of leaders and voices in this world – especially in the non-muslim nations. The U.N. is most quilty – for they claim to be the humanitarians of the world – while collecting large dues for their (non)services – mostly from non-muslim nations. How upside down is that?

    The media have rejected their responsibilities in reporting the truth about the brutal violence. They don’t deserve the positions they have. But, “Leave them alone” as Christ might say. They’ll have no one to blame but themselves for bringing upon themselves the worst hell on earth. And they won’t have a voice to complain about it either. That will be taken away from them. And when it is too late – wisdom will finally have its say. For then, – misery will become their constant companion – a warning of reality that they just can’t seem to fathom for now.

    Some people just have to learn the hard way. Too bad it will take every person down with it. But comfort and strength will be with those who believe and wait for the Judgement of God. This piece of wisdom (and comfort) – the media kings of this world do not have. And it will be much worse for them.

    This is what is coming.

  • MarilynA

    The question I have it this. Why have our leaders gotten so upset and used American Military forces and power to protect Muslims from “ethnic cleansing” in places like Bosnia and turned a blind eye to the wholesale slaughter of Christians in Muslim controlled lands? I, for one, don’t care if every Muslim on the face of the earth is killed. Every last one of them supports killing all non Muslims. That includes me. So I don’t want my money, nor my military forces used to protect any of them.

  • Parson_Rayphe

    Excellent article! Thank you very much for posting it. It is absolutely correct that world domination is what islam is about. History since mohamed and even ishmael documents it well. Here is an example of what they have in mind. Thanks again

  • Frosty

    What do you suggest? Another middle ages crusade and engage in the genocide of those who don’t embrace christianity? I am against violence, but trying to implement christianity in countries that are 100% islamic is really asking for it. There are millions of christians in the world. Christianity dominates the religious world, so to speak. Is there really the need for more? Leave the muslims alone and the muslims will leave you alone…