Extremism Fuels Abuse of Christians in Mideast

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). 


x_lon_sudanwedding_140529_f96260e6df43349a14c5e50462fe901bOriginally published by CNN.com.

The world heard of the plight of a Sudanese Christian wife and mother who, while eight months pregnant, was arrested and sentenced to public flogging followed by execution. Her crime? An Islamic court in Khartoum found her guilty of apostasy, that is, leaving Islam and converting to Christianity. It’s a crime punishable by death, according to some interpretations of Islamic law.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, 27, who is married to an American, was released, rearrested, and then released again. It’s still uncertain whether her nerve-wracking ordeal is over yet.

But Meriam’s plight is nothing new or isolated. Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, has been languishing in prison since 2010, sentenced to death in Pakistan for “blasphemy.” Her husband and children went into hiding after death threats.

Persecution of Christians is one of the greatest human rights violations in the world today — and certainly the one least known in the West.

Religious hostilities are on the rise around the world, against Muslims, Hindus, Jews, folk religion followers and more. But the situation is so bad for Christians that the normally diplomatic Pope Francis just asserted: “The persecution of Christians today is even greater than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs today than in that era.”

To those familiar with the true history of early persecution — when Christians were habitually tortured to death, set on fire, fed to lions and dismembered to cheering audiences — his statement may seem exaggerated. But even today, as in the past, Christians are being persecuted for their faith and even tortured and executed.

In Egypt, while Christians were ushering in the 2011 New Year, Islamic terrorists bombed the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, killing 23 worshipers and injuring about 100 people. Coptic Christians and Muslims alike protested the bombing.

Since then, dozens of Coptic churches have been attacked, some torched to the ground. In August 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies attacked and destroyed dozens of churches in retaliation for the Coptic Church’s endorsement of the anti-Brotherhood revolution, which was joined by tens of millions of moderate Muslims.

In 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked during Mass, with 58 worshipers killed and hundreds wounded. Lesser known is that, since U.S. forces ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, militants have threatened and attacked Christians so often that many have fled the country in fear. In Syria and Iraq alone, Islamists like ISIS have been making life a living hell for “unbelievers.”

In Nigeria, the Islamist organization Boko Haram has in recent years attacked hundreds of churches, reserving the worst attacks on Christmas and Easter church services.

A January, 2014, Pew Research Center study on religious discrimination across the world found that harassment of Christians was reported in more countries, 110, than any other faith. Muslims were close behind.

Open Doors, a nondenominational Christian rights watchdog group, ranked the 50 most dangerous nations for Christians in its World Watch List. The No. 1 ranked nation is North Korea, then Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen.

More disturbing is that three of these countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — were “liberated” in part thanks to U.S. forces, while in the fourth, Syria, the U.S. is actively sponsoring the “rebels,” many of whom are not even Syrian and some of whom have been responsible for attacks and kidnappings of Christians.

It seems that when some Arab states fail, hostilities against Christians rise.

Of the top 50 nations documented for their persecution of Christians, 41 are Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations, such as Ethiopia and Kenya. It’s important to note that Islamic extremists are the culprits within their borders.

Other countries, especially communist ones like North Korea, China, and Vietnam, are intolerant of Christians; churches are banned or forced underground, and in North Korea, exposed Christians can be immediately executed.

Nothing integral to the fabric of these societies makes them intrinsically anti-Christian. Something as simple as overthrowing the North Korean regime could possibly end persecution there — just as the fall of Communist Soviet Union saw religious persecution come to a quick close in nations like Russia, which if anything is experiencing a Christian Orthodox revival.

The reason Islamic radicals persecute Christians can be traced to culture and politics, but also to extreme interpretations of Islamic religious texts that are used to justify that persecution.

The majority of the world’s Muslims reject such intolerant readings, but a small minority of Islamists is enough to terrorize the even smaller number of Christians living in Muslim majority nations.

One reason Meriam Ibrahim was not flogged and executed might be that her case became a cause celebre, thanks to the media.

There is a familiar pattern. Back in September 2012, two other Christians under arrest and awaiting execution in the Islamic world were released. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in Iran, was eventually released. A teenage Christian girl known as Rimsha Masih, charged with blasphemy in Pakistan, was freed. In each case, freedom came only after widespread international condemnation.

The world must condemn the persecution of all religions — all cases must be exposed to the light. It’s incumbent on nations to control religious discrimination within their borders. And if it’s the regime itself that endorses or inflames religious hostilities, the rest of the world must pay attention and denounce it.

Most important, Western nations must make foreign aid contingent on the rights and freedoms of minorities.

After all, if we are willing to give billions in foreign aid, often on humanitarian grounds, surely the very least that recipient governments can do is provide humanitarian rights, including religious freedom.

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  • mezcukor

    Thanks Raymond for all your good work.God bless you.

  • Rosasolis

    Thank-you for this actual and important article, which I hope will convince
    many people in North-America and Europe that we can no longer hope for a
    future for our Western (Bible) Civilization, if most people still ignore the continuous
    threat of the Islamic Take-over!
    Hope to hear some good news about the family Meriam soon. That they have
    at last been able to quietly leave Sudan, with the help of some government
    and/or aid workers. If Arjan Hersi Ali was able to flee Sudan, it must be possible
    somehow to get this family out!

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Where are the Protestant churches on this? They are so obsessed with Muslims on the West Bank, who are not being slaughtered, they have forgotten the ethnic cleansing of Christians in the MidEast and elsewhere in the Islamic world. Is this Christian altruism that requires putting “the other” first?

    • Anukem Jihadi

      “Is this just Christian altruism” or like turning the other cheek?
      No, the Church used to honor martyrs for the faith but now it is ashamed of them.

      They’re busy being good liberals, you have to remember that many of the church leadership now only defend their faith as a philosophical position.

      When everybody worships essentially the same God then an attack on the reputation of one faith is an attack on the reputation of all and the problem must be sorted out within the family.

      The best way to think of it is kind of like an interfaith honor killing.

  • El Cid

    And, for historical parallels, the last time the Muslims had a liberal revolution the Armenian Christians were massacred in celebration.

  • wileyvet

    Muslims are compelled to fight until the world is under Islamic Law. Whether they actively fight or merely support it in words and materiel support, the cause is the same. The history of Islamic persecution dates to the founding of Islam by its prophet. It is supremacist in nature, and does not consider such high ideals as freedom of conscience to worship or not to worship. If one rejects Islam, or is perceived to be an impediment of the goals of Islam then you are an enemy and are fair game to be persecuted. Islam rejects all other doctrines and may dispense whatever they deem as justice to unbelievers to further Allah’s cause; The complete and total subjugation of the world under The Sharia. When this happens, only then do Muslims believe peace will prevail. The following verses are from Pickthal. They are Medina Surahs, The Table, Women, and The Cow respectively.
    Q5:33
    The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;

    Q4:84
    So fight (O Muhammad) in the way of Allah Thou art not taxed (with the responsibility for anyone) except thyself – and urge on the believers. Peradventure Allah will restrain the might of those who disbelieve. Allah is stronger in might and stronger in inflicting punishment.

    Q2:193
    And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.

  • notme123

    If the Muslims consider this Christian raised women to be a Muslim because her father was a Muslim, than BO is a Muslim, because his father was a Muslim…

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Religious hostilities are on the rise around the world, against Muslims, Hindus, Jews, folk religion followers and more

    I can’t understand why Muslims are included in your list, since Islam is a so-called religion that has some additional features that are absent from all other religions.

    For instance, Islam is not a faith-based religion. Instead, it is a so-called religion of submission because all Muslims must totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to the “will of Allah”, which in essence is Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law), under the penalties of death for apostasy and death for blasphemy.

    In other words, the freedom of conscience to choose to have faith or to choose not to have faith is absent in Islam, as unlike in faith-based religions, Islam executes all apostates and all blasphemers. Faith based religions, as far as I know, don’t execute apostates and blasphemers.

    Furthermore, in Islam waging jihad in one form or another, either violently or non-violently, which is a holy war waged by Muslims against infidels in the cause of Allah to ultimately make Islam supreme, is a fundamental holy obligation incumbent upon all Muslims, and because Islam is a so-called religion that routinely executes apostates and blasphemers, then all mainstream orthodox Muslims in the world, at least the ones that haven’t apostatized in secret, are jihadists in one form or another, either violent or non-violent. Otherwise, they are executed for apostasy or blasphemy according to the dictates of Islam.

    I can’t think of another religion that obligates its adherents to wage holy war against all infidels and all religions in order to make itself supreme. Islam, apparently, is very alone in that regard.

    Then according to Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law in which all Muslims consider to be divine and therefore supreme above all other laws in the world, the doctrine of abrogation, which is universally accepted throughout the Islamic totalitarian world and which holds that the latter issued verses of the Koran, i.e., those verses issued later on in Muhammad’s career, abrogate, i.e., supersede and replace, the earlier issued verses of the Koran they conflict with and contradict, and the infamous sword verses of the Koran, which were some of the very last verses issued by Muhammad, the sole fundamental purpose of mainstream orthodox Islam is the subjugation of all infidels and all religions into Islamic totalitarianism, i.e., harsh and degrading dhimmitude, through both violent and non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad and the eventual imposition of Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law) to ultimately make Islam supreme throughout the world.

    Again, I can’t think of any other religion that has as its sole fundamental purpose the subjugation of all infidels and all religions into some form totalitarianism in order to make itself supreme other than the so-called religion of Islam.

    As a matter of fact, Islam more than anything else is an extremely rabid form of totalitarianism that seeks to make itself supreme as opposed to being a so-called religion. Thus, just like in the old Communist Soviet Union where non-conformers were sent to the Soviet Gulags, in Islam non-conformers are routinely executed for apostasy and blasphemy.

    Of course, the purpose of the sentence I referenced is to add emphasis to the succeeding sentence, but I still can’t understand why you would include adherents of Islam along with Hindus, Jews, and folk religion followers. That is more than a little sloppy.

    Not to mention as well, that the biggest reason religious hostilities are on the rise around the world is directly due to Islam and Muslims, since Islam considers all infidels to be somewhat less than human.

    Nevertheless, my theory with respect to the rise of religious hostilities around the world and especially in regard to hostilities perpetrated against Christians is due primarily to the fact that there are more Christians living in various Islamic countries under Islamic totalitarian rule than the members of other religions. Thus, it holds that more Christians would become the victims of religious hostilities relative to other religions. Nonetheless, all infidels unfortunate enough to be stuck living under Islamic totalitarian rule are harshly oppressed and severely persecuted. Indeed, it goes with the territory.

    Moreover, since Christians and in fact all infidels are routinely harshly oppressed and severely persecuted throughout the Islamic totalitarian world, then obviously extremism doesn’t have anything to do with it, as it is really a product of mainstream orthodox Islam and mainstream orthodox Muslims.

    .

    • LibertyWriter

      Kind of like the devil’s religion, eh?

  • celador2

    The US offers refugee status to bogus claims on southern borders. We should reach out and offer refugee status to Christians persecuted for their faith in ME and Africa. Good work indeed, to bear witness to the persecution. May we grow our watch and help free the fellow Christians who need our support and refuge.