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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a widely published author on Islam, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of the new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute).
FP: Raymond Ibrahim, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Congratulations on your new book, Crucified Again. It was just released last week and is available on Amazon.com and bookstores across America. It certainly is an eye-opener. You even include several color photos which speak for themselves. Can you tell us a little about the book and why you wrote it?
Ibrahim: Thanks, Jamie. Christian persecution under Islam is probably the absolute worse human rights crisis going on in the world today, and yet it is virtually unknown in the West. Thus I wrote the book to fill the vacuum, since the mainstream media and others—such as the Obama administration—have, to varying degrees, decided to ignore or whitewash this otherwise growing epidemic of human pain and suffering.
If any other group but Christians were being attacked, their plight would make international headlines. But because from childhood on up in America—from high schools to universities, from the media to Hollywood—Americans are conditioned to view Christians and their history as hypocritical, fanatical, intolerant, the source of the world’s woes, it is difficult to acknowledge that, in fact, Christians are by far the most persecuted religious group around the word, especially the Islamic world.
A January 2013 Reuters report estimates some 100 million Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. Thus I wrote this book to give
FP: Tell us how bad it is for Christians in Muslim majority countries. We definitely are not gonna hear about this from our mainstream media.
Ibrahim: The situation has gone from bad to worse, particularly in light of the so-called “Arab Spring” and the Obama administration’s enthusiastic support for it, despite the fact that it continually exposes its true face as an Islamic takeover.
Almost every single country that Obama has helped rebels and opposition forces to topple the ruling secular regimes has gotten markedly worse for Christians. Under Gaddafi, one never heard of Libya’s immensely small Christian minority suffering. Post-Gaddafi, and thanks to Obama’s support for the al-Qaeda linked jihadis who were always a part of the opposition, the very few churches there are under attack and bombed; nuns are harassed and forced to flee; Christians possessing Bibles are arrested and tortured (one recently died from his torture).
It is the same now in Syria, which, under secular strongman Bashar Assad was tolerant towards its Christian minorities. Now, the “freedom-fighters”—code for the Obama-supported foreign jihadis—are targeting Christians for killing, displacement, and hostage taking for ransoms. The atrocities being committed are many and barbaric—beheadings, enslavements, rapes, and wholesale massacres—filling the over 300 pages of Crucified Again, including, as you point out, in pictures.
FP: Are Christians being persecuted in some Muslim countries or all of them? Is there a pattern?
Ibrahim: Wherever there are sizable Muslim populations living side-by-side with Christians, the latter are under attack. So, yes, Christians are being persecuted, to varying degrees, in all Muslim nations. The ultimate deciding factor is numbers—comparative numbers of Muslims and Christians, that is. The ratio of Muslims to Christians in any given country—or, looking at it another way, the proximity of Christians and Muslims—is the primary factor explaining which countries see the most and the least Christian persecution.
For example, Saudi Arabia, which is vehemently anti-Christian, generates fewer incidents of persecution than some Muslim nations which are generally deemed moderate and yet figure prominently in Crucified Again. The reason for this is simple: Saudi Arabia has nipped the problem in the bud by banning Christianity altogether; there are no churches there to bomb or burn. On the other hand, the very large numbers of Christians in Egypt prompt regular bursts of anti-Christian persecution. Indeed, as one of the oldest and largest Muslim nations, with one of the oldest and largest Christian populations, Egypt is a kind of paradigm of Islam’s treatment of Christians—both in the present and going back more than thirteen centuries. Accordingly, it figures prominently in the book.
In sub-Saharan African countries where Christians often make up half or even more of the entire population, persecution gives way to genocidal jihads as Muslims elements of these countries try to purge their lands of any trace of the “infidel.” Of course, wherever and whenever Christians are killed or driven out there will be less persecution there—simply because there will be fewer and fewer Christians to target, as nations that used to have significant Christian populations slowly become more like Saudi Arabia: infidel-free and thus ostensibly “peaceful.” In many African nations where Christians make up nearly half the population—Nigeria being a prime example—we are being offered a rare glimpse of early Islamic history repeating itself, as Muslims use violence to subjugate or kill very large numbers of non-Muslims in the name of Islam and through jihad. That is the true story of Islam’s spread from Arabia.
FP: What are the causes of this widespread persecution of Christians?
Ibrahim: The persecution is 100% a product of Islamic supremacism, both doctrinal and, as I demonstrate in the book, cultural. For example, consider how the Christians being persecuted by Muslims are identical to their persecutors: they share the same race and ethnicity; speak the same languages; are nationals of the same countries. There is nothing to distinguish the Christian from the Muslim in widely different countries like Egypt, Nigeria, and Indonesia—except, of course, religion. Moreover, in all the countries I survey in Crucified Again, Christians are also politically marginalized and poorer than their Muslim counterparts.
Thus it is clear that Muslim attacks on Christians and their places of worship are animated first and foremost by religious hostility, as there is no other valid or even conceivable reason to explain the violence daily visited on Christians under Islam. And yes, this hostility has a very long tradition in Islam and its teachings and doctrines. The identical patterns of persecution alone—which demonstrate remarkable, unwavering continuity across centuries and continents—make clear that Islam, scripturally and culturally, is responsible for the hate.
FP: But what happened, Raymond? Muslim persecution of Christians was certainly not this bad just a few decades ago, when many Muslims seemed more Western-oriented. What went wrong? How did we get to this point?
Ibrahim: Quite right, Jamie.
One of the most overlooked phenomena of our age is that Muslims are returning to Islam. This sounds redundant and meaningless, but I speak of a “lost history” that has blinded the West to the implications of this return. In short, because Islam is a religion that makes might right, after the Islamic world was subjugated by the West beginning with Napoleon’s easy conquest of Egypt in 1798, Muslims began seeing Westernization as pivotal to success, and thus largely turned their backs on Islam, being “Muslim” only in name. However, around mid-20th century, beginning in earnest in the “liberal” 1960s, when Western culture took a nosedive, became sexually and morally unrestrained, apologetic for itself and self-loathing, and seeing Western civilization, especially Christianity, as the root of the world’s sufferings, Muslims went from respecting and trying to emulate the West, to having great contempt for, and wanting nothing to do with, it, and naturally began returning to their own heritage, Islam and its Sharia—all of course to “multicultural” Western applause, since, to the West, Islam and its Sharia were, and continue to be portrayed, as great things.
But of course, as Muslims turn to Islam, so too do the things of Islam—like Christian persecution—return. In fact, because I believe the colonial and post-colonial era and its significance are pivotal not only to understanding Muslim persecution of Christians, but the rise of Islam as a political force, I have an early and important chapter titled “Lost History” in the book, where I fully elaborate on this important but much misunderstood point in history, which really helps answer that question that became famous after 9/11: “What went wrong?”
FP: How has the withdrawal of US forces impacted the lives of Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Ibrahim: Honestly, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan has not really exacerbated the sufferings of Christians, as they were still being persecuted even when U.S. forces were there. In fact, if anything, the presence of U.S. forces sometimes enables the persecution of Christians. For example, I have a whole section in Crucified Again explaining the concept of collective punishment, and how vulnerable, indigenous Christians are regular attacked in response to the actions of U.S. forces or the West in general, as many Muslims conflate the West with Christianity; when Muhammad cartoons are published in Europe, Christians around the Islamic world are attacked, their churches bombed. Speaking of churches, although some existed in Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion, a year ago the last church was formally demolished by the U.S.-installed government—and while U.S. troops were there.
As for Iraq, the year following the ousting of Saddam Hussein, in 2004 and under U.S auspices, jihadis went on a church bombing spree, destroying countless churches and killing many Christians who, under Saddam, were relatively well tolerated. Indeed, jihadis regularly taunt Christians by pointing out that the West won’t do anything to save them. Dr. Wagdi Gonium, a popular cleric in Egypt, mocked the nation’s Christian Copts when, after threatening them with genocide, he said: “What do you think—that America will protect you? Let’s be very clear, America will not protect you. If so, it would have protected the Christians of Iraq when they were being butchered!”
FP: Why is the Obama Administration, and the Bush Administration before them, so unwilling to say one word about the horrible violence being done to Christians across the Islamic world? For a nation that prides itself on protecting the helpless, the United States seems to have buried its head in the sand when it comes to the suffering of Christians.
Ibrahim: Quite true. There is a difference, however subtle, between Bush’s handling and Obama’s: when Bush “liberated” Iraq, and jihadis went on, among other things, a Christian persecution spree, it was still unknown to most U.S. politicians that that would be a consequence; there really weren’t many precedents to go by. On the other hand, even before Obama came to power, the fate of Christian minorities in countries “liberated” from the grip of autocrats was known (since the ousting of Saddam, more than half of Iraq’s indigenous Christians have either been killed or fled their homeland). So there were precedents for the Obama administration to go by.
Nonetheless, the administration has done all it can to ignore these precedents and empower radical Islamic forces under the umbrella of the “Arab Spring,” so that the same pattern that took place a decade earlier in Iraq—the persecution of Christians, not to mention jihadi intolerance for all that is non-Islamic—has, as expected, come to all of those countries where Obama helped empower Islamists—including Egypt, Libya, and now Syria, where a recent fatwa, an Islamic decree, made it permissible for jihadis to rape all non-Sunni women, as a reward for waging jihad to empower Sharia law in Syria.
FP: Why do you think so many citizens in Western nations are unaware of the persecution of Christians? Every time a Jew dares to build a house on Jewish land in Jerusalem there is a major protest and its front-page news, but hundreds of Churches have been burned in the Middle East, Africa and Asia without a word in the Mainstream media.
Ibrahim: I discuss this at length in Crucified Again. In a nutshell, the mainstream media, to a great extent, exists to validate its liberal narrative, a narrative which suggests that all violence is a byproduct of some material, tangible grievance. Thus the Arab-Israeli conflict is a favorite topic for them to cover, for no matter how many rockets are shot into Tel Aviv by Hamas and Hezbollah, that will only be portrayed as proof positive that Muslims in PA territories are aggrieved and frustrated, and thus lashing out at their Israeli “oppressor.” And no matter how many times jihadi groups articulate their rage in purely Islamic terms, the media will portray their animus as a product of grievance and land conflict.
On the other hand, the media finds it difficult to rationalize away Muslim attacks on Christians—Christians who are of the same race, ethnicity, and speak the same language as their Muslim persecutors. In this context, the media can’t portray the violence as a “land dispute” or a product of “grievance” (if anything it is the ostracized and politically disempowered Christian minorities who should have grievances).
So since they can’t articulate the attacks on Christians through the established secular/materialistic paradigm, their primary recourse is not to report on Christian persecution, for it is a phenomenon which throws a wrench in their otherwise well-oiled narrative of “Muslim-violence-is-a-product-of Muslim-grievance.” Other times, when they have no choice but to report on it—I have in mind the most spectacular attacks on Christians, where dozens are often killed—they do so, but only after using their entire arsenal of semantic games and relativistic, equivocating language that minimizes the religious element.
FP: How can the United Nations claim to be dedicated to world peace, yet they refuse to discuss or debate the treatment of Christian Copts in Egypt, the forced conversion to Islam of thousands of Christians, the violent jihad against Christian worshipers in countries like Nigeria or the public calls from prominent Islamic leaders to destroy every church in the Arabian Peninsula?
Ibrahim: Because most of those in the United Nations are byproducts of the mainstream media’s secular and liberal narrative so that, like many in the Western world, they simply cannot see Christian persecution for what it is, and much prefer to focus on those peoples whom the powers that be have bestowed the honor of being portrayed as persecuted people, chief among them Muslim Palestinians (who, ironically, often persecute the Christian minority in their midst).
FP: What do you foresee as the future of Christianity if the West continues to ignore the rampant persecution and murder of Christians across the Middle East, Africa and Asia?
Ibrahim: Extinction. Many forget that, when Islam burst out of Arabia during the first major wave of Islamic conquests in the 7th century, half of the world’s entire Christian population lived precisely in those lands we nonchalantly now call the “Arab World.” Fourteen hundred years of sporadic jihads and dhimmitude has seen the slow decimation and forced conversion of Christians to Islam, making that region nearly purely Islamic. With the exception of the Christian “golden age” during and after the colonial era, when Muslims were Western-leaning, today’s jihad has resumed in an effort to eradicate Christianity from its birthplace—the Middle East—once and for all.
FP: What can a concerned private citizen do to help end the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world? Can they do anything to help or is it simply too late?
Ibrahim: It’s nearly too late—in some countries like Iraq, the indigenous Christian population has been decimated, and outside of Egypt, the whole of north Africa has something less than 1% of a Christian population—but there are many Muslim majority nations where Christians exist and are fighting for survival, Pakistan, Egypt, and Syria, Indonesia, and many African nations, for example. Concerned citizens should contact their representatives, and visit some of the human rights organizations that fight for Christian survival I list in Crucified Again. Most importantly, they should spread the word. At this point, our paralysis is fundamentally tied up to our ignorance.
FP: Is it just Christians who are suffering? What about other religious minorities.
Ibrahim: To be sure, all non-Muslims living in the Islamic world are being targeted as infidels. However, for various reasons which I discuss in the book, Christians are by far the most prone to being attacked. At any rate, while the book focuses on Muslim attacks on Christians, as I conclude, that is ultimately a snapshot of what the Islamic world has in store for the rest of the world. Christian persecution is a picture of what Islam does—and will do—to all non-Muslims if and when it achieves dominance over them.
FP: This has certainly been an eye-opener, Raymond. I strongly recommend your book, Crucified Again, to all who are interested in learning about the true fate awaiting all who resist Islam and it Sharia.
Ibrahim: Thanks, Jamie. The book certainly connects the dots and shows why what happens “over there” should matter “over here.”
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