Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
On Easter Sunday, March 27, a suicide bombing took place near the children rides of a public park in Pakistan, where Christians were known to be congregated and celebrating the resurrection of their Lord. At least 74 people—mostly women and children—were killed and nearly 400 injured. “There was human flesh on the walls of our house,” recalled a witness. “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” said a Taliban affiliated group. In a media statement, it said it had “deliberately targeted the Christian community,” adding that “we had been waiting for this occasion.”
Click here, here, here, here, and here, for numerous examples of similarly lethal attacks on Christians celebrating Christmas or Easter by other Islamic groups and individuals around the world who also “had been waiting for this occasion.” Even “the terror cell that struck in Brussels [in March, killing 34] was planning to massacre worshippers at Easter church services across Europe, including Britain, intelligence chiefs believe, said a report.
In Scotland, a Muslim man stabbed another Muslim man to death for wishing Christians a Happy Easter. Asad Shah had posted messages on Facebook that said “Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation” and “Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.” Police said a 32-year-old Muslim man was arrested in connection with Shah’s death and confirmed that the attack was “religiously prejudiced.” Islamic law forbids Muslims from participating in or congratulating non-Muslims for their religious holidays as doing so implicitly validates other religions.
A Muslim nanny in Russia beheaded a 4-year-old girl, Anastasia, whom she had been taking care of for the last three years. Gulchehra Boboqulova, the Chechen origin nanny, went to a Moscow metro station and, for 20 minutes, waved the child’s severed while screaming “Allahu Akbar” [“Allah is greater”]. After her arrest, she said the murder “was what Allah ordered.” In the months before the slaughter, Bobokulova was said to have become “more religious,” including by wearing the hijab and telling her son to pray five times a day and live in accord with Sharia. Still, authorities recently concluded that she will not face a murder trial as she is clearly “insane.”
“ISIS carries out Good Friday crucifixion of Indian Catholic priest in Yemen after he was kidnapped three weeks ago in attack on old people’s home where four nuns were shot,” reported the Daily Mail. Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, a 56-year-old Indian Catholic priest, was seized by Islamic gunmen who attacked an old people’s home in Aden (see Yemen entry below). The “Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, told a congregation gathered in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the Austrian capital that the priest had been crucified.” Most recently, a report appeared indicating that Fr. Thomas was likely still alive and "that talks between the Indian government and Yemeni rebels to ensure his release were continuing."
The rest of March’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Unknown Middle Eastern Nation: Islamic radicals killed four workers of a Christian organization that translates and publishes Bibles during an attack on the organization's office in a Middle Eastern nation. Wycliffe Associates issued a statement saying that the attackers shot and destroyed all the equipment in the Bible translation office, without noting the nation’s identity. Two workers were apparently killed by gunshots, while two others laid atop of the lead translator and died while "deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals' spent weapons," and managed to save his life. Several other people were also injured in the raid. The organization explained that the remaining team has vowed to re-double their effort to translate, publish and print the Gospel for the eight language communities that they had been working on.
Bangladesh: Two attackers with sharp weapons killed 68-year-old Hossain Ali, who converted to Christianity from Islam in 1999. ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of the apostate from Islam in a tweet: “A security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate was able, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, to kill the apostate (Ali), who changed his religion and became a preacher for the polytheist Christianity,” said the statement, adding that the murder was “a lesson to others.” In recent months ISIS has said it was behind a series of attacks on religious converts and minorities in Bangladesh.
Yemen: Four Islamic gunmen attacked an old people’s home in the port of Aden, killing at least 15 people, including four Missionaries of Charity nuns of Mother Teresa. Two of the slain nuns were from Rwanda, one from India, and one from Kenya. Another nun who survived by hiding inside a fridge in a store room. The gunmen, who initially told the guard they were at the old people’s home to visit their mother, stormed into the home with rifles and opened fire. The total dead included two Yemeni women working at the facility, eight elderly residents, and a guard. The motive of the gunmen was not known. They fled after the attack.
Ivory Coast: Shouting "Allah Akbar!” – “Allah is greater!”—a squad of boatmen leapt onto a beach in the resort town of Grand Bassam and proceeded to round up and kill Christian tourists. By the time security forces killed the terrorists, 14 tourists and two special forces personnel were dead, “all of them presumably Christians,” notes the report. At some point, witnesses say the gunmen captured a pair of children, one of them just five-years old. A gunman with a long beard threatened them. Both boys went to their knees in prayer, begging for their lives. The first boy knew an Islamic prayer by heart, so he was spared, but the five-year-old, being Christian, had no hope, and was shot dead. Images of the aftermath showed bodies strewn across the beach, several of them believed to be French tourists. Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack via social media. According to the report, “Ivory Coast is becoming a target for Islamic extremists who want to spread Islam around the globe. Previously confined to the desert regions of the Sahara, Muslims have recently started a campaign of aggressive, militant expansion into West and Central Africa. “
Nigeria: According to a March report, since 2000, some 12,000 Christians have been slaughtered for their faith and 13,000 churches destroyed, and not just by Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorist organization: “Northern Muslim political and religious elite are also major actors of targeted violence towards the Christian minority.” From mid-February to mid-March alone, 500 Christian farmers were butchered by Muslim herdsmen.
Pakistan: A Muslim man shot dead the son of a Christian family and threatened to rape his sisters, after their mother rejected his advances in the town of Qayum in Faisalabad City. The Muslim suspect, 57-year-old Tahir Jutt, who had a "known long-term infatuation" with 42-year-old Shazia Tahir, tried to intervene in a family argument Shazia was involved in. She rebuffed his offer to help; he left angry by the rejection. Later that day he returned to Shazia’s family home and started shooting at family members, killing 17-year-old Noel Tahir, and wounding several other family members, including the Christian husband and wife. Although initially detained by police, Jutt was eventually set free, only to continue threatening and terrorizing the Christian family. According to a rights activist, "This family are in desperate need for help, the perpetrator of violence has shown no remorse for the violence he meted out on this poor family and has increased their tension by stating he will repeat the violence if they dare to challenge him through the courts. Local police are being extremely slow and sluggish with this case, allowing Mr. Jutt to exhort great pressure on the family who have already had to suffer the surprising ignominy of the murderer of their son being set free on bail.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
United States: Three Christian statues at St. Maragaret’s, a Catholic church in Massachusetts, were vandalized. Two statues, which sit at the top of a hill on the property, had their hands severed and multiple sets of rosary beads removed and scattered on the ground. The third statue, located near the rectory and depicting the Virgin Mary, had its head severed and both hands removed. Although the identity of the vandals is unknown, Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, correctly observes that “in light of the curious fact that the head and hands were severed, the perpetrators could have been Muslims acting upon this Qur’an verse: “When your Lord inspired to the angels, ‘I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'” (Qur’an 8:12). Also, Muslims have committed similar vandalism in many churches worldwide.”
Turkey: Late one night, four Muslim men went to the Agape Church in the Black Sea region and began banging and kicking at the front door. The church caretaker and a few congregation members were inside but refused to open the door. After they noticed they were being videotaped by a security camera, the assailants destroyed it and left the premises. (Image of the men kicking the door appears here.) According to the church’s pastor, Pıçaklar, “They attacked us knowing that they would get caught – they even looked at the security camera and smiled. Later they went to the police and turned themselves in, and today they were set free. So what should I do [in response] to these guys who drink until they get drunk, and when they get caught [attacking the church building], instead of fear and sadness, yell, ‘Allahuu Akbar!’? [Allah is greater]”—thus positioning their attack in Islamic terms. Pastor Pıçaklar said the incident was not just a “kick the door and go. These guys wanted the door open and to go inside and hit someone or attack in some other way.”
Greece: The Church of All Saints in Kallithea, Athens region, was set on fire. Although the kitchen was completely destroyed, the fire was quickly contained thanks to the fire department’s quick response. According to witnesses, “Arabic speakers” were behind the arson attack.
Uganda: After several threats and attacks—including the rape of her 13-year-old daughter—a mother who left Islam for Christianity and her five children fled their village. Amina Napiya, a 42-year-old widow, converted to Christianity in 2014, after her husband, Mohammed Dongo, died. She and her family remained secret believers until the beginning of this year, when relatives discovered they were followers of Christ. Attacks started soon thereafter: two motorcycles that had belonged to her late husband were stolen in January apparently by Muslim relatives who left an unsigned note saying, “We have taken the motorcycles, and soon we are coming for your life if you continue embarrassing the religion of the family. You have become an embarrassment to the family as well as the Muslim family.” A month later Napiya’s daughter was raped while fetching firewood nearby their home. The rapist told the girl, “This is the second warning to your mother for disgracing the faith of the Muslims.” Finally, she received an anonymous text, saying, “We have warned you several times, and our warnings are falling on deaf ears. We are on the way coming for you and your children.” The Christian woman and her children fled and were last reported as living in dire straits.
Separately in Uganda, a Muslim youth who converted to Christianity was attacked and ostracized by his family. After Mohammed Nsera graduated from high school last year, his Muslim family built a small house for him on their homestead. One week after he converted to Christianity, they burned it down. According to the convert, “I could not deny Christ when my father asked me whether I had joined Christianity. With a lot of joy I answered him affirmatively, with a yes. My uncle, who had a walking stick, hit me on my back, and my father tried to get hold of my shirt, but I managed to escape with a tattered shirt and a bleeding back.” While recovering at the home of a Christian 13 miles away, he learned that his family had burned down his house. “I received reports that my parents, uncle and some other Muslims were looking for me. I have lost my entire valuables, especially my academic certificates.” He has since taken refuge in an undisclosed village more than 60 miles from his home.
Pakistan: A 30-year-old Christian mother of three who was kidnapped and forced into an Islamic marriage but then escaped months later was returned to her abductor by her own family in hopes that it will spare other family members from persecution and arrest. Fouzia Sadiq, whose entire family works as bonded laborers in Pattoki, was abducted last July by her Muslim landlord, Muhammed Nazir. He told her family to forget about her as she “was now his property.” With her family’s aid, the women eventually escaped back to them. Her abductor-husband sent the police after her. They threatened her entire family, including by suggesting that they might seize and give her younger sister to Muhammad as a “consolation.” According to an involved human rights activist: "This family has gone through a torturous decision making process. They have not wanted to deliver their daughter back but the threats on their family were so extreme, including potential blasphemy law allegations and kidnap charges against Paris the brother of Fouzia, that they felt there was no other way out.” Fouzia is one of about 700 Christian girls who are kidnapped and forced into Islamic marriages every year in Pakista.
Belgium: The council of Belgian imams rejected an initiative to pray for the souls of the victims of the Brussels terror attacks on the grounds that it is forbidden to pray for the souls of non-Muslims—“infidels.” For instance, Koran 9:113 states: “It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.” Instead, the Muslim scholars recommended the use of tawriya—using words that mean one thing to listeners and another thing from the speaker. One Muslim cleric said “We cannot pray over the souls of non-Muslims, but if we do this, we don’t have to call it a prayer. We can call it something else: ‘solidarity with the families of the victims.’ We can stand by them and support them.” Another said: “since this was a general event, in which Muslims as well as non-Muslims [were hurt], we address all of the victims, and wish them peace, mercy, and health,” though in their hearts they mean Muslims only.
Italy: According to Archbishop Matteo Maria Zuppi, recently appointed to head the archdiocese, “I really think it’s time for a mosque in Bologna. Some people think otherwise but they are wrong…. I also wish Islamic celebrations to be welcomed in schools… We shouldn’t be carried away by hateful generalizations, like the comparison between Muslims and terrorists.” However, according to the report, “Zuppi’s reflections are far distant from those of his predecessors. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, once warned the faithful to be wary of the West’s current integration project of Middle-Eastern, largely Muslim migrants. The late Cdl. Giacomo Biffi, archbishop of Bologna before Caffarra, was a respected theologian known for being “extremely politically incorrect,” and some note that his prophecies about Europe either returning to Christianity or surrendering to Islam were prescient for Italy today….” Zuppi also seems to overlook the historic fact that, whenever a region was conquered by Islam, one of the first signs of consolidation was/is the erection of a mosque atop the sacred sites of the vanquished: the pagan Ka’ba temple in Arabia was converted into Islam’s holiest site, the mosque of Mecca; the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, was built atop Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem; the Umayyad mosque was built atop the Church of St. John the Baptist; and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque upon the conquest of Constantinople.
Sudan: Pastor Ayoub Tilian, moderator of the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Khartoum area, was arrested at his office and taken to an unknown location. He was later released but ordered to report to security officials of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services—which is staffed by hardline Islamists reportedly upset that he may have spoken about the Sudanese government’s persecution of Christians—daily for interrogations. Discussing this incident, an area source said, “Things are very difficult here in Sudan as time after time we hear that a church leader is arrested.”
Iran: A pastor and three other Christians, all of whom appear to be converts from Islam, were sentenced, and banned from holding or attending any church services for two years. They were arrested earlier during a picnic in Daniel-e Shoosh, in southern Iran. The plainclothes secret police came to them with guns drawn, threatening and beating some in the group. The report does not mention what the alleged crime is. Most likely, if this case is like other allegations against non-Muslims, they were sentenced under the pretense that they are a "security threat to the nation."
US. and UK: Despite all the widespread attention and international condemnation the mostly Christian Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram received—recall First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign saying “bring back our girls”—the US and British governments knew exactly where many of the girls were but failed to launch a rescue mission. According to Dr. Andrew Pocock, the former British high commissioner to Nigeria: “A couple of months after the kidnapping, fly-bys and an American eye in the sky spotted a group of up to 80 girls in a particular spot in the Sambisa forest, around a very large tree, called locally the Tree of Life, along with evidence of vehicular movement and a large encampment.” He said the girls were there for at least four weeks but authorities were “powerless” to intervene.
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.
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