Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article was first published by the Gatestone Institute.
The United Nations recently named March 15 as “international day to combat Islamophobia.” That date was chosen because it witnessed one of the worst terror attacks on Muslims: on March 15, 2019, an armed Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, entered two mosques in New Zealand and opened fire on unarmed and helpless Muslim worshippers; 51 were killed and 40 injured.
Not only has this incident been widely condemned throughout the West—and rightfully so. It has caused the UN to single out Islam as needing special protection.
This response, however, raises a critically important question: if one non-Muslim attack on a mosque is enough for the UN to institutionalize a special day for Islam, what about the countless, often worse, Muslim attacks on non-Muslim places of worship? Why have they not elicited a similar response from the UN?
Consider some of the fatal Muslim attacks on Christian churches—many, to underscore the religious animosity, occurring on Easter or Christmas—in recent years:
- Sri Lanka (Apr. 21, 2018): Easter Sunday, Muslim terrorists bombed three churches and three hotels; 359 people were killed and more than 500 injured.
- Nigeria (Apr. 20, 2014): Easter Sunday, Islamic terrorists torched a packed church; 150 were killed.
- Pakistan (Mar. 27, 2016): Following Easter Sunday church services, Islamic terrorists bombed a park where Christians had congregated; more than 70 Christians—mostly women and children—were killed. “There was human flesh on the walls of our house,” recalled a witness.
- Iraq (Oct. 31, 2011): Islamic terrorists stormed a church in Baghdad during worship and opened fire indiscriminately before detonating their suicide vests. Nearly 60 Christians—including women, children, and even babies—were killed (graphic pictures of aftermath here).
- Nigeria (Apr. 8, 2012): Easter Sunday, explosives planted by Muslims detonated near two packed churches; more than 50 were killed and unknown numbers injured.
- Egypt (Apr. 9, 2017): Palm Sunday, Muslims bombed two packed churches; at least 45 were killed, more than 100 injured.
- Nigeria (Dec. 25, 2011): During Christmas Day services, Muslim terrorists shot up and bombed three churches; 37 were killed and nearly 57 injured.
- Egypt (Dec. 11, 2016): An Islamic suicide bombing of two churches left 29 people killed and 47 injured (graphic images of aftermath here).
- Indonesia (May 13, 2018): Muslims bombed three churches; 13 were killed and dozens injured.
- Egypt (Jan. 1, 2011): Muslim terrorists bombed an Alexandrian church during New Year’s Eve mass; at least 21 Christians were killed. According to eyewitnesses, “body parts were strewn all over the street outside” and “were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants,” including “Allahu Akbar!”
- Philippines (Jan. 27, 2019): Muslim terrorists bombed a cathedral; at least 20 were killed, and more than 100 injured.
- Indonesia (Dec. 24, 2000): During Christmas Eve services, Muslim terrorists bombed several churches; 18 were killed and over 100 injured.
- Pakistan (Mar. 15, 2015): Muslim suicide bombers killed at least 14 Christians in attacks on two churches.
- Germany (Dec. 19, 2016): Near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, a Muslim man drove a truck into a Christmas market; 13 were killed and 55 injured.
- Egypt (Dec. 29, 2017): Muslim gunmen shot up a church in Cairo; nine were killed.
- Egypt (Jan. 6, 2010): Following Christmas Eve mass (according to the Orthodox calendar), Muslims shot six Christians dead as they exited their church.
- Russia (Feb. 18, 2018): A Muslim man carrying a knife and a double-barreled shotgun entered a church and opened fire; five people—all women—were killed, and at least five injured.
- France (July 26, 2016): Muslims entered a church and slit the throat of the officiating priest, 84-year-old Fr. Jacques Hamel, and took four nuns hostage until French authorities shot the terrorists dead.
The above list, it should be noted, is hardly comprehensive; there have been many similar attacks on churches—in Egypt alone, here, here, here, here, here, and here. But because there were no or very little fatalities, they received no or very little coverage in the Western press.
This dismissal is especially true for those remote and, apparently in the views of Western media, unimportant regions, such as Nigeria, where Christians are being purged hourly in a Muslim-produced genocide. Thus, after noting that Muslims have eliminated 60,000 Christians between just 2009 and 2021, an August 2021 report states that, during that same time frame, Muslims also destroyed or torched 17,500 churches and 2,000 Christian schools. How many undocumented souls perished in those largely unreported terror attacks?
Nor does the above list of fatal Muslim attacks on churches include any of the many that were botched, for example, a Mar. 28, 2021 attack on an Indonesian church during Palm Sunday service, where only the suicide bombers—a Muslim man and his pregnant wife—died.
At any rate, based on the above list of fatal church attacks alone, Muslims have massacred nearly one thousand Christians.
Hence the original question: If one non-Muslim attack on a mosque, which claimed 51 Muslim lives, was enough for the UN to establish an “international day to combat Islamophobia,” why have many Muslim attacks on churches, which have claimed nearly 1,000 Christian lives—meaning some 20 Christians were killed in their churches for each Muslim killed in a mosque—not been enough for the UN to establish an “international day to combat Christianophobia”?
Or to rephrase the question, why is one, solitary incident of a Western man killing 51 Muslims of far greater importance to the UN than many instances of Muslims killing a total of nearly 1,000 Christians? (In reality, the disparity is much worse than 51 to 1,000, as that latter number does not include the many thousands of Christians and Western people who were massacred by Muslims in non-church attacks, such as 9/11, London’s 7/7/2005 transit system attacks, Paris’s Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan Theater attack, Barcelona’s Las Ramblas attack, Nice’s July 14 attack, Toulouse’s Jewish school attack, and Copenhagen’s terror attacks, to name just a few.)
If ever cornered and forced to explain the church/mosque discrepancy, no doubt the UN would say that, unfortunate as all of the aforementioned church massacres might be, they do not evince a pattern, the way “Islamophobia” does; that church attacks are all byproducts of terrorism (which reportedly is in no way connected to Islam) fueled by economics, territorial disputes, inequality, in a word, “grievances.” Fix those temporal problems and attacks on churches will cease.
In reality, the exact opposite appears to be true: whereas the New Zealand mosque attack was indeed an aberration—evidenced by its singularity—Muslim attacks on churches are very common (including historically). As discussed here, seldom does a month pass in the Muslim world, and increasingly in the West, without several assaults on or harassments of churches taking place. While many of these are, fortunately, nonfatal, they all underscore Islam’s indisposition to churches, and, it would seem, to any non-Muslim, religious structure or symbol.
Moreover, it is worth noting that those who terrorize churches often share little with one another: they come from widely different nations (Nigeria, Iraq, Philippines, etc.), are of different races, speak different languages, and live under different social, political, and economic conditions. The only thing they do share—the one thing that apparently actuates them to assault churches and kill Christians—is their religion, Islam (which, unsurprisingly, teaches hostility for churches and “infidels”).
In other words, Muslim attacks on churches are ideologically driven, have long been and continue to be systemic and systematic, and are, therefore, an actual, ongoing problem that the international community needs to highlight and ameliorate.
Yet the UN would have us ignore and brush aside the aforementioned and ongoing massacres of countless Christians and church worshippers as unfortunate byproducts of misplaced “Muslim grievances”—and instead fixate on one solitary incident: a Western man killing 51 Muslims.
This, for the UN, is what truly evinces a “pattern” and is in dire need of recognition and response. And that response is to shut up all those who dare connect the dots and expose Islam’s heavily documented pattern of abuse and violence against non-Muslims—which, make no mistake, is precisely what “combatting Islamophobia” is all about.