Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.
Throughout the month of August, the Obama administration and the so-called mainstream media kept insisting that Islam does not promote the persecution of Christians – all the while ignoring the direct testimonies of those who have undergone it.
According to Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda,
All the statements [by U.S. government and media] have not condemned strongly what damage it [persecution of Christians] is doing. What they are saying is just “This is not the true Islam. This is violating the picture of Islam.“ The issue for them is the image of Islam, but none of these statements speak about the victims, about what has been done to the victims, they are not even mentioned. And that is one of the questions our people have. [Author’s emphasis].
Warda added that persecuted Christians are “being denied visas, while others who have participated [in the violence] or at least were silent, can go.”
Father Douglas al-Bazi, an Iraqi Catholic parish priest from Erbil, who still carries the torture scars he received nine years earlier at the hands of jihadis, denounced the Western refusal to accept reality about Islam:
I’m proud to be an Iraqi, I love my country. But my [Muslim] country is not proud that I’m part of it. What is happening to my people [Christians] is nothing other than genocide. I beg you: do not call it a conflict. It’s genocide… When Islam lives amidst you, the situation might appear acceptable. But when one lives amidst Muslims [as a minority], everything becomes impossible…. Wake up! The cancer is at your door. They will destroy you. We, the Christians of the Middle East are the only group that has seen the face of evil: Islam.
Meanwhile, Western “mainstream media” and academia continued to exonerate Islam in deceptive op-eds, such as the Huffington Post’s “ISIS Violates The Consensus Of Mainstream Islam By Persecuting Christians,” by Qasim Rashid, a recipient of Saudi largesse, by way of Harvard University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center.
The rest of August’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts:
Islamic State: Savagery and Sex Slavery
Mokhls Youssef Batk, an Iraqi Christian, was blinded by the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) after he refused to convert to Islam.
The “caliphate” threatened that captive Christian women would become sex slaves unless they were ransomed with money. It posted images of three Assyrian Christian women who were previously abducted. The women hold pieces of paper on which their names and a date – July 27, 2015 – are written: “It is feared they will be sold to ISIS fighters if a ransom is not paid for them.”
A 12-year-old girl, raped by an Islamic State fighter, was told that “what he was about to do was not a sin” because she “practiced a religion other than Islam.” IS also made clear in a 34-page manual released by its Research and Fatwa Department that “sex with Christian and Jewish women who were captured in battle is also permissible.”
Jihad on Muslim Converts to Christianity
Uganda: After he learned that his family had converted to Christianity, a Muslim man went berserk. Issa Kasoono beat, strangled, and left his wife for dead. He also severely beat their two teenage sons for the crime of apostasy. The youngest son managed to flee and bring help from the church where, three months earlier, the Muslim mother and sons had accepted Christ. Due to injuries from the strangling, Kadondi, the mother, lost her voice, has difficulty eating, and requires extensive surgery. According to a local source, “The mother and Ibrahim [older son] Kasoono were seriously injured. Ibrahim was hit with a blunt object, had his right arm broken and has stomach pains, while the mother was strangled and sustained neck and throat injuries.” Although Uganda’s population is 85% Christian and 11% Muslim, attacks on converts to Christianity are on the rise, and include the recent murder by poisoning of a mother and the gang rape of a teenage daughter of a Christian pastor.
Somalia: A Muslim convert to Christianity (name withheld) managed to escape from Al Shabaab – the dominant Islamic front – but only after the jihadis chopped off four fingers from his right hand while interrogating him about his conversion. Another man, 31-year-old Sharif, fled his home after his conversion to Christianity was exposed: “My association with a visiting white missionary landed me in trouble… I feel sad because I cannot see my family, because if I return back to Somaliland, then the government will arrest me.” His wife and four children – aged 8, 6, 4, and 1 – have also relocated to an undisclosed town: “I am not sure what will happen to my wife and four children. I am praying that God will provide for their basic needs. Pray for me that one day I will see them.”
Pakistan: Khurram Naveed, 33, a Christian man, and Sobia, 25, a Muslim woman, are on the run. Sobia discovered Christianity through Khurram and decided to be baptized. Since they got married and had two daughters, her parents, Muslim neighbors, and imams have repeatedly tried to convert them to Islam or face the consequences.
In the words of Khurram: “Since we got married we have had to change places many times… Wherever we go, people ask about my beloved wife’s conversion. Sometimes, imams try to force us to convert to Islam, issuing terrible threats…. My wife, I and our children have had to flee from place to place. We feel threatened as soon as people find out about my wife’s Muslim past. However, running from one place to another is not easy. There are so many problems…. Until now I have to change job six times, and finding new employment is not easy. But we need security for our life and we ask for help from the people of God.
Horn of Africa: A former Muslim cleric, who converted to Christianity and is known as Tofik, explained in an interview what Islamic preachers teach about Christians in mosques and what such converts can expect. For the previous 24 years, he had trained to become an imam at an Islamic madrasa: “In school I only learned about Islam. Parts of our teaching were about destroying Christianity. So we did what we learned, by attacking Christians once we finished our training.”
Tofik said he was taught that Christians are evil and that he and other students should steal from and kill them: “We beat them, attacked the church and burnt their Bibles. … Our teachers would tell us every time there was a new church in town and we were told to go and attack the people and destroy the church. So that is what we did.” Due to a series of dreams, he eventually embraced Christ. News of his apostasy spread quickly, especially among his own tribe:
“They reacted by coming to my home saying, ‘This brother is dead.’ In our culture, when someone dies their property is shared. So they destroyed my house, setting it on fire, and they took my cattle, and the remainder of my property. They then falsely accused me of burning another house, so I was jailed and taken to court. It was only in the court process that the witnesses proved their dishonesty by having contradicting testimonies.”
After being released from jail, Tofik continued preaching Christ and even inspired more than 200 people to convert:
“As a result local villagers were upset. So again, they attacked me physically and burned my house…. The attackers assumed I was dead, so they threw me into the compound. Then they looted the small kiosk I owned and proceeded to loot and burn my children’s properties. They said they have killed the lead figure and now our area is free of his activities. They started shouting and singing.”
Jihad on Christian “Blasphemers”
Egypt: Medhat Ishak, a 35-year-old Christian, was arrested for handing out Bibles to Muslims outside El-Arab Mall in Sixth of October City. Mall security guards turned him over to national police, who accused him of evangelizing. The day after his arrest, a judge amended the charge against Ishak to “defamation of a revealed religion” and ordered him held for 15 days. After his term ended, the judge extended his detention for another 15 days. Ishak’s attorney, Rafik Rafaat, suspects the judge will keep extending the detention order, in violation of Egyptian law, until the case falls out of the public eye. Then he will hand Ishak a prison sentence of one to five years, in accordance with the defamation charge. This is because there are currently no charges against “evangelism” under Egyptian law. Handing out Bibles or even promoting Christianity does not constitute “defaming” Islam. “The word ‘blasphemy’ means that he was insulting the other religion [Islam], but he didn’t do that, and he didn’t talk about Islam or prophets or anything like that to be accused of blasphemy,” said the Christian’s lawyer. “So, now we are surprised that the attorney general accused him of blasphemy when he did not commit any act of blasphemy.”
Pakistan: Protestant Christian Pastor Aftab Gill and three other Christians from Gujrat were accused of blasphemy for having used the word _rasool_ (“messenger” or “apostle”) during an event made public by their community, the Biblical Church of God. Local Muslims grew angry, saying that, as _rasool_ is one of the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s attributes, Christian use of the word is blasphemous. But Christian activists say that because the word simply means apostle and appears in Urdu Bibles as such, it was used in that generic sense, and that the Christians were not trying to blaspheme. Muslims were nevertheless about to burn Christian homes and a church, but police managed to restore calm before the situation escalated. Unitan Gill, Pastor Aftab’s younger brother, said that local Muslim businessmen are jealous of the Christian family’s success in running a local grocery store, and that it was Muslim grocers who brought this matter to the attention of the police.
Islamic State Destruction of Syrian Churches
The Islamic State “caliphate” released a video showing its militants razing the ancient Mar Elian monastery to the ground. In the video, the jihadis can be seen removing the remains of Saint Elian, after whom the monastery was named, from his ancient stone sarcophagus, and then gleefully desecrating his bones. The church was built on the spot where Saint Elian was killed by his father, a Roman officer, for refusing to renounce Christ. Earlier, IS abducted an estimated 250 Christians from the monastery and its surrounding villages, many of whom were women and children.
On Sunday, August 23, a rain of mortars fell on a Damascus neighborhood. Two shells hit the roof of the Maronite church. Nine people were killed and about fifty were wounded. A nearby Catholic parish was also damaged. According to Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar, “Part of the war in Syria is to live under indiscriminate bombing, a kind of Russian roulette which is always unpredictable.” Survivors tell the archbishop that those who die are better off, because they “will not have to see and live this cruel tragedy without end.”
The Christian minorities of the “Land of the Pure” continued to be treated as third class, unwanted “citizens.”
Muslims attacked and severely beat a Christian family after a Muslim boy mocked a Christian boy by saying that his pregnant sister-in-law will “give birth as their cows and buffalos do.” The Christian boy reciprocated with an insult, and the Muslim boy began to beat him. Later in the evening, the Muslim boy and his brothers went to the Christians’ household and attacked the entire family. While beating the pregnant Christian woman, they yelled, “You cannot be pregnant without permission of Muslim master who pays you.” After visiting the family, a human rights group stated that the “Christian Community is facing all sorts of discrimination and disgrace from their land Lords, neighbors, or where ever they live or work. Christians have no right to respect, education, free living and now they are under observation/mockery of giving birth, now our majority brothers [Muslims] will decide whether the Christian women will give birth respectfully or like animals.”
As torrential flooding spanned across various regions of Pakistan and washed away thousands of homes, Christians in Kasur received little humanitarian aid and were left to starve. Their two options – to receive help from Muslims or the government – was either to convert to Islam or willingly accept becoming modern-day slaves. According to Wilson Chowdhry, the president of the British Pakistani Christian Association, while Muslims in the region have benefited from temporary shelter, clean water and food provided by governmental agencies and Muslim charities, Christians have been left without those bare necessities and medication needed to fight illnesses. Said Chowdhry:
“We are aware that this community has previously been offered aid from Muslim charities if they convert but they never accept conversion. They hold strong to their faith. They believe God will be their provider. These families have literally been struggling without food. Churches have opened up their doors but can’t provide them much aid because the churches themselves in the region are struggling. We are talking about a very rural part of Pakistan.”
Chowdhry added that as desperation started to get the best of the Christian population in Kasur, many ended up signing bonded labor contracts in order to receive aid from Muslim landlords.
In a separate incident, a few days after a Christian man stopped two Muslim brothers from harassing Christian girls on their way to church, the two brothers broke into the Christian’s home, and beat and shot him. The man was later taken to a hospital, where he was reported in critical condition.
Boko Haram’s Slaughter of Christians
Jihadists from the Islamic organization Boko Haram slit the throats of sixteen Christian fishermen on the shores of Lake Chad in the Nigerian state of Borno. The increase in such incidents is supposedly in retaliation for the Chadian government’s efforts against Boko Haram around Lake Chad. According to Bishop Ramolo, “The Chadian President Idriss Deby has declared open war against the Islamists, and these acts represent an attempt at revenge.”
A Christian leader, stabbed in April by rampaging young Muslims in Kaduna state, suffered a relapse after an initial recovery. Pastor Emmanuel Danjuma of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, while visiting a Muslim-majority region of Nigeria, was attacked by Muslims reportedly angry about election results. “They called me an infidel and attacked me.” The pastor was clubbed and stabbed several times. A village elder apparently ordered the youths to stop. “I don’t know what happened then, as next I found myself in a hospital in Saminaka town. After a few days, my situation deteriorated and I was transferred to this Christian hospital.”
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.