Reprinted from the Gatestone Institute.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Luc Ravel, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Strasbourg “went against the grain of Church leaders in France who have largely remained politically correct,” says a report, because he criticized “the demographic shift in France, saying Muslims are having far more children than native French and slammed the widespread ‘promotion’ of abortion.” He said, “Muslim believers know very well that their birthrate is such that today, they call it … the Great Replacement, they tell you in a very calm, very positive way that, ‘one day all this, it will be ours.’”
Another Christian leader, while discussing Sudan in particular, touched on what Christians all throughout the Muslim world are facing, and why. “The government in Sudan wants to Islamize the whole population and they want to finish off Christianity and other faiths in Sudan,” says Pastor Strong. “We have to put pressure on the government so that the rights of the people to practice their faith openly will be given to them.” To achieve this, they need the support of the “global Church,” he added, for “They are in the midst of trials, persecution, hunger — a lot of problems. And yet in the midst of all that, they rejoice. They’re always ready to die, and they testify their faith in every circumstance. They are willing to serve no matter what they have and what they might lose.”
July’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Pakistan: On July 24, an Islamic suicide-bomber went to detonated himself in an area heavily populated by Christians. At least 26 people were killed. According to Bruce Allen, a human rights activist, “What the mainstream media is not reporting is that this is the second-largest Christian colony in Pakistan where this blast occurred”—only a mile-and-a-half from where “pastors in Pakistan meet on a monthly basis, where they receive their monthly financial support, where they get together for sharing prayer requests and have some ongoing training centers and things like that.” After explaining how many suicide terror attacks target Christians, he told of how such ongoing terror “puts the Christians at this heightened state of alert, and they have been for some time. We recall last Easter, a time of great celebration, and there’s an attack against Christians in the parks. And that’s what they live with constantly…. [W]e talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with people in combat. Well, here you have a whole population of people who that’s what their life is: combat. And so it has psychological, spiritual, and emotional wearing.”
Separately, a Muslim “master” tormented and then murdered his Christian “slave.” Javed Masih, 32, the Christian was, according to the report, “repaying a debt that his family had contracted three years ago…. In reality he was a slave.” After he was accused of stealing a motor bicycle, “the Christian was repeatedly beaten with sticks and other objects. He was taken to the hospital and died from serious torture.” The family sought justice and filed a case with police, but as usual, the police refused to take the case and the culprit and his allies threatened the Christian family to withdraw the charge. As the older brother of the slain explains, “We want justice. We are poor and therefore the police refuse to listen to us and record the complaint. Large landowners are threatening serious consequences because we have opposed any compromise. All this is because we are Christians and poor.” The murderer said the slain committed suicide, a claim which the family strongly rejects.
Kenya: Muslim militants linked to the jihadi group Al Shabaab hacked 13 non-Muslims, most of whom were Christian, to death with machetes. “They were slaughtered like chicken using knives…. We suspect there are many bodies that haven’t been recovered,” police said. The incident took place on Sunday, July 9 in a village near Lama. Because the Muslim terrorists were “only targeting male non-Muslims,” local Muslims directed them to Christians. “The Christians were asked to recite the Islamic dogmas, which they could not, hence they were killed,” a local source explained. Another explained how the militants “were asking the villagers to produce their identification cards and if you were found to be a Christian you would be shot or slaughtered…. Victims have been evacuated to camps where food and security is provided by [the] government and the Kenya Red Cross,” he added. “We are hosting more than 200 people in our church and we expect the number to increase as more families are evacuated from Boni Forest.”
Egypt: Another Christian solider was killed by fellow (Muslim) soldiers once they learned he was a Christian. Joseph Reda Helmy had just completed his military training when he was transferred to Al-Salaam (“peace”), a special forces unit, where three officers killed him. He is at least the sixth Christian soldier to be killed for his faith in recent years. According to the slain’s father, “his large, strong son had arrived at the camp at 2 p.m. and was dead by 8 p.m.” His cousin, who retrieved the body, said his dead cousin “had bruises on his head, shoulders, neck, back and genitalia, with the worst injuries occurring on his back.” He also learned from eyewitnesses that “the three officers began to harass Helmy because of his Christian faith, and that the marks on his body indicate they kicked him with their boots and hit him with heavy instruments.” As in all of the previous cases where Christian soldiers were killed by their Islamic counterparts, the Egyptian army told relatives that the slain had died of something else, in this case, an “epileptic seizure.” But even the “doctor who examined the body refused to bow to pressure from those who brought it and reported that the cause of death was not natural.”
Also, of the jihadi slaughter of Christians traveling to a desert monastery in late May, 2017, more details emerged. Speaking from her hospital bed, one of the survivors of the massacre, Mariam Adel, a young mother whose husband and nine of her relatives were killed in the attack, said that after the jihadis opened fire on their bus, they went onboard and “ordered them off the bus and told them to convert to Islam.” “Renounce our faith? Of course not,” Mariam said of the women’s collective reaction. “If we had, they might have let us off the bus and treated us well. But we only want Jesus and we are confident he will not leave us.” The militants responded by robbing the women of their possessions, which they justified as properly earned “spoils of war.” A 10-year-old boy whose father was slaughtered said that “They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us in the car. Every time they shot someone they would yell ‘God is great,’” or more literally, “Allah is greater.”
Nigeria: At least one Christian student was killed by an Islamic suicide attacker from Boko Haram. “Ambore Gideon Todi, a 21-year-old student at the University of Maiduguri in Borno state, was staying in the Evangelical Church Winning All’s student ministry tent when Boko Haram suicide bombers detonated explosives,” says a report. “It is believed that he was not the only one affected by the bomb blast,” said a fellow student, “as there were others involved and were in their fellowship program…. The authorities did not say anything about their demise till after nine days. We knew of his death because he is from my state.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom
Pakistan: Another Christian was arrested for allegedly “blaspheming” against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Nadeem Ahmed, a leading figure in Tehreek e Tahafuz e Islam, an Islamist organization, filed a complaint against Shahzad Masih, a 16-year-old who worked as a hospital sweeper. The Islamist group then circulated pictures of the youth through their social media platforms with insulting and threatening captions; they also threatened to slaughter the Christian if police were to release him. Police moved the teenager to an unknown location—and even “refused to acknowledge holding the boy, and will not give the family access to him.” Local mosques went on to heavily publicize the incident, prompting outrage among Muslims, who threatened his family with death, causing them to flee into hiding. A spokesman for the Islamist group said that “the judicial system should inflict the worst possible punishment on Shahzad Masih [meaning execution] so that no one will dare commit blasphemy again ever.” According to Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, “These draconian [blasphemy] laws are being used as a tool for discrimination and forcible conversion every day and the world stays silent. This poor boy will now face a most daunting court case and will lose most of his life in prison; moreover, in the current climate a sentence could lead to his death via judicial or extrajudicial process.”
Ethiopia: A gang of Muslims with machetes violently hacked at a Christian, leaving “the 27-year-old man needing life-saving surgery,” says a report. A “doctor, believing he would die en route to a bigger hospital, operated on his wounds. Although he is still unwell, the surgery stabilised him enough to be taken elsewhere for more specialised treatment.” The Muslim gang that attacked him was reportedly angry at him for publicly evangelizing among Muslims. They first attacked the local church, creating damage to its wall and roof, before traveling to his home where the incident took place.
Iran: Four Muslim converts to—and accused of promoting—Christianity were sentenced to ten years in prison. The four men were arrested in May during a series of raids on Christian homes by security service agents. The reports notes that such harsh sentences are becoming the norm: “Whereas in recent years Christian converts involved in house church activities could expect to receive prison sentences of up to 2 years, sentences of 10 years or more in prison have been handed down in recent cases…. The four men were officially charged with ‘acting against national security,’ a catch-all charge often used by the Iranian government to punish different types of religious and political dissent. The government often uses it against converts instead of the charge of apostasy, according to freedom of religion advocates, in an attempt to avoid international scrutiny.”
Egypt: After nearly three months of deadly terrorist attacks—including suicide bomb attacks on churches that left nearly 50 Christians dead, followed by the slaughter of nearly 30 Christians traveling to a monastery in the Sinai—as well as ongoing threats and lesser attacks, many churches suspended their activities and temporarily shut down for most of July. According to the report, “The Evangelical, Coptic Orthodox, and Catholic churches agreed to halt services, conferences, and any church trips to protect their congregations.” Other churches, including in Alexandria, remained open, although “with stricter security, including police checks, private church security checks, and metal detectors.”
One such open church in Alexandria was targeted by an apparent would-be terrorist, who stabbed the guard preventing his entry. According to the report, the culprit, a 24-year-old male graduate from law school, “attacked the 47-year-old guard with a knife on the neck after the latter questioned his reasons for going into Al-Qiddisain Church in Alexandria.” Video footage of the incident shows “a man wearing earphones with a bag trying to enter the church when he was called back by a guard who asked to check the bag. The man took out a knife and slashed the face of the guard, who recovered quickly to subdue his attacker with the help of others.”
Tanzania: Responding to ongoing and angry Muslim protests, a court ruled that the church building that a Christian congregation had been trying to build for eight years on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar must abandon the project. According to the report, “Hard-line Muslims outside Zanzibar City have been fighting construction of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God building since 2009, having demolished the partially built structure twice before then. They claim the party that sold the property to the church was not the rightful owner. Christians believe the court on the overwhelmingly Muslim island acted out of religious bias. A previous court ruling allowed construction to go forward.” The pastor, Amos Lukanula, said that though the congregation is “frustrated and weary … We cannot allow the Muslims to put up a mosque in place of the church.” The congregation first purchased the property in 2004; once they had erected a temporary structure, local Muslims pulled it down. Another structure the congregation had spent three years building was again brought down by area Muslims in 2007. When, by 2009, Muslims could not raze the third partially built structure—made of stone blocks not easily brought down—they filed a legal complaint prompting a court order to halt construction until the legal dispute could be resolved. The court case has dragged on for over eight years and costs the congregation approximately $100 month.
Iraq: Due to the significant reduction of the Christian population, eight more churches were closed in Baghdad. According to the report, “After the regional Catholic Church authority visited the churches, the Vatican decided that it was best to close the doors for good. While this makes logistical sense, it represents a symbolic defeat for the Church in the capital of Iraq.” “It’s important to recognize,” the report significantly adds, “that ISIS is not solely responsible for this. Christians have faced various forms of persecution and discrimination from a wide variety of perpetrators throughout the past 15 years.”
Muslim Abuse and Rape of Christians
Pakistan: A Muslim man raped a 3-year-old Christian girl, permanently disfiguring her anatomy. According to the report, “One day, when Catherine Bibi [the girl’s mother] and her oldest son, Altaf Masih, 21, were at work and her 10-year-old son, Daud, was looking after his younger sister, a Muslim friend of Altaf, named Muhammed Abbas, came over. The man requested Daud to buy cigarettes for him from a nearby market. When Daud came back from a shop, Abbas kept him waiting outside the house and raped his sister. Abbas finally opened the door for Daud, lit a cigarette and left. When Daud went inside, he found his sister naked, covered in blood and screaming.” Although the rape took place months ago, Catherine, the girl’s mother “says she’s emotionally and financially exhausted as she continues to fight for justice for her daughter, who will never be able to bear children due to severe injuries.” But the mother is determined: “My daughter is innocent of any crime at such a young and vulnerable age she has been subjected to a most brutal and evil attack, from a man with no morals. (Even) if this evil rapist is jailed it will not remove the vile treatment my daughter suffered. I call on prayers from anyone moved by my daughter’s plight. Please pray that she is completely healed and can one day have children which is a natural process designed by God and a real blessing for women.” Police initially refused to investigate the rape until a local lawmaker exerted pressure on the authorities.
Another Christian woman “was beaten and gang-raped in front of her five children by a Muslim man seeking to avenge his family’s ‘honor,’ because the woman’s sister fell in love and fled with the man’s brother,” says a separate report. The Muslim brother and some companions went to the home of the Christian woman, Samrah Badal, demanding news on the fled couple. When the woman refused to speak, “she was stripped naked and dragged out on the streets, where she was [gang] raped in front of her five children.”
Sudan: The Khartoum government issued an order calling on all church schools to begin operating according to the Muslim work week, which treats Friday (mosque day) and Saturday as the weekend, and Sunday as the start of the work week. One report says this move is part of “an ongoing campaign to rid the country of Christianity.” In a letter sent to Christian schools, the Ministry of Education wrote, “In order not to affect the educational process and the ongoing plan, we ask you not to observe Sunday holiday” though Christian schools had been for decades. One Sudanese Christian teacher said, “The government’s decision to abolish Sundays for Christian schools is discrimination against Christians in Sudan.” He is not alone, as the “move prompted widespread outrage and led many Christians in Sudan and around the world to view it as another means of harassment and discrimination against Sudanese Christians.”
Tanzania: Three Christians were arrested for cooking food in the kitchen of their residence during Ramadan. A Christian couple and a female friend were frying fish when police came, informing them that they had “breached the law by cooking food during Ramadan,” says a report. Police also “verbally abused them” and told them “Today you will know how to fast” as they dragged them away. Following the intervention of local church leaders, the three were released three days later.
Eritrea: In the east African nation considered the tenth worst nation wherein to be Christian, partially because of “Islamic oppression,” 200 Christians—including young children and a baby who “could spend their childhood in a prison cell”—were arrested in a series of random house-to-house raids. According to the Rev. Dr. Berhane Asmelash, “People used to be arrested for conducting unauthorised meetings, such as Bible studies or prayers. But this is new for us when they go from house to house. They are arresting people for their beliefs, not for their actions. This is getting worse. Many Christians are in hiding.” “These latest arrests,” continues the report, “have brought fear to the Christian community….. In 2002 Eritrea outlawed many Christian denominations and shut down Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Christians who refused to renounce their faith were jailed indefinitely without trial. 173 long-term prisoners of faith remain behind bars in brutal conditions. They include many church leaders.”
Mali: According to one report: In July, “Three Christian missionaries … appeared in a video released by coalition of jihadist groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda urging their respective governments to ‘do what they can’ to negotiate their release.” The group, known as Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen—or the “Victory of Islam and Muslims”—said in the video that “No genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children.” Six foreign hostages, “including three missionaries from Colombia, Switzerland and Australia, are shown begging the international community for help” in the video. One of the hostages is a nun, another an 82-year-old Australian surgeon, Ken Elliott, who said, “This video is to ask various governments, in particular the Australian government and Burkina government, to do what they can to help negotiate my release.” Addressing his family, he added: “I just want to say, again, I love you all and I appreciate all your prayers and all your cares. I look forward to one day being reunited.” The release of the video coincided with French president Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Mali, where he said that “he was pleased that one of his citizens was still alive after being kidnapped by the militant,” adding, “These people are nothing. They are terrorists, thugs and assassins. And we will put all of our energies into eradicating them.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of _jizya_ (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.