Monday, April 27, 2015

Christians Pay Islam’s Price for Freedom: Muslim Persecution of Christians, January 2015

Following the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris, Muslims around the Islamic world avenged Muhammad over the satirical magazine's cartoons of the false prophet by attacking Christian minorities in the context of “collective punishment.”

by Raymond Ibrahim — April 19, 2015


The New Year began with Muslim gunmen killing a dozen people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7.  The attack was motivated by the publication of unflattering caricatures of Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

Lesser known is that, all throughout the Islamic world, the magazine’s caricatures of Muhammad were blamed on Christianity by Muslims who seem not to realize that the magazine habitually pokes fun at Christ, Moses, and all other religious figures.   In Palestinian territories, for example, protesters held up a sign with images of the Muslim killers behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre; the caption below said “Expect more from the champions of Islam, O you slaves of the Cross” (bold in original Arabic).

Accordingly, Muslims around the Islamic world attacked Christian minorities in the context of “collective punishment.”

In Niger, Muslim mobs, reportedly spurred on by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, torched approximately 45 Christian churches, a Christian school and orphanage, two nuns’ convents, and pastors’ homes in response to the Muhammad cartoons.  At least 10 people were killed in the clashes; pastors in the capital Niamey said anyone associated with churches—anyone exposed as Christian—was targeted.

According to a nun who escaped the violence, “the intention was to torch all the churches with us inside them” and thus “burn us alive!”  Added the nun: “Boko Haram students believe they must kill Christians in order to take their place in paradise but we won’t surrender to fear because love must prevail over hatred.”

In Pakistan, some 300 Muslim students armed with iron bars and sticks and shouting anti-Christian slogans, attacked a Christian boys’ school in “retaliation” to the Muhammad cartoons, leaving four Christian students injured.  According to eyewitnesses, the three officers deployed to guard the school stood by and watched.

Regarding this attack, Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement, said: “It is very sad that Islamic radicals attack Pakistani Christians because of Charlie Hebdo. Christians condemn the blasphemous cartoons. It is a shame that even after 67 years since the birth of Pakistan, Christians have not yet been considered Pakistani citizens, but are seen as “Western allies”….  Whenever incidents occur in western countries, the faithful Pakistanis are attacked. Christians, who are already living under constant fear for their lives, become even more vulnerable.”

In fact, from an Islamic perspective, peoples are not classified according to nationality but religion.  It is irrelevant that those who insult the prophet of Islam are French, or European, or American.  To Muslims around the world, all those terms are synonymous with “Christians.”  Thus, years before the world heard of “ISIS,” Christian minorities in Iraq were being targeted and killed “over their religious ties with the West.”

The rest of January’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Islamic State Warns Those Who Refuse Islam Will Die like Ethiopians in Libya Video


"The latest recording [is] a treatise on persecuting Christians. Using numerous citations from the Koran and the Sunnah (the sayings and actions of Muhammad), along with quotes from a consensus of Islamic scholars, IS labels Christianity a false religion and calls persecution of Christians a 'fundamental' aspect of Islam."

Morning Star News — April 24, 2015

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – In a video showing the cruel execution of 28 Ethiopian Christians, the militant Sunni terrorist group Islamic State (IS) says persecution of Christians is fundamental to Islam.

In the video released late Sunday night (April 19), IS (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) warns that if Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere refuse Islam, they also will be slain. An IS spokesman gives Christians three options – convert to Islam, submit to the rule of Islam and pay the Jizya (tribute) or be killed.

“We say to Christians everywhere, the Islamic State will expand, with Allah’s permission,” a spokesman identified as Sheik Abu Malik Anas An-Nashwan says. “And it will reach you even if you are in fortified strongholds. So whoever enters Islam will have security, and whoever accepts the Dhimmah contract will have security. But whoever refuses will see nothing from us but the edge of a spear. The men will be killed and the children will be enslaved, and their wealth will be taken as booty. This is the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.”

The statement comes after the execution of 28 men identified by IS as, “The worshipers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian Church.” IS shows the 28 Christians divided into two groups of men being marched to their place of execution with their arms bound behind their backs. One group is held at a coastal area identified as “Wilayat Barqa” (Barqa State) in Libya, and the other is located inland in the desert scrub brush of “Wilayat Fazzan” (Fazzan State), also in Libya.

The men in both groups are lined up and then forced to kneel in the sand. After a man who appears in at least one other IS video gives a statement, the men in the desert are shot in the back of their heads. The video switches seaside, where the men there are pushed down into the sand and their throats are slit. Then all the men are beheaded.

The segment ends with close-ups of the heads of several victims being stacked onto their bodies as blood flows into the sea. Then the screen goes blank, and An-Nashwan appears.

'Sacrificing and Sacrificed for the Faith' — Martyrdom a Hundred Years Ago and Today

"...The history of the Christians in the Middle East is a story whose roots go back to creation, to the account in the Book of Genesis about the first crime committed in history, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel..."

Here is a striking theological look at Islam's unending war against Christians. It is clear that symbolically, Righteous Abel represents the humble, pious and forgiving Christians, who offer "a more excellent sacrifice" than the degenerate Cain, who represents Islam and Muslims, who "attack true worship and brotherhood." In Metropolitan Siluan's words,
"Cain irremediably attacks both existential dimensions of his life, the vertical and horizontal when he attacks true worship and brotherhood. On the other hand, in his person Abel saves, “offering up and offered by faith,” true worship and sacrifice to God. Furthermore, God accepts Abel’s offering and receives him as a sacrifice."

Related:

by Metropolitan Siluan of Buenos Aires and All Argentina
Notes on Arab Orthodoxy via Pravmir — April 26, 2015

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (Hebrews 11:4)

The Christian East continues in the footsteps of its Master, sacrificing and in turn being sacrificed upon the altar of martyrdom, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24). This offering-martyrdom is the cup from which many of our brothers have drank and currently drink, confirming the words of the Lord to James and John on the threshold of His passion, “You will indeed drink My cup” (Matthew 20:23).

It is clear that the history of the Christians in the Middle East is at once painful and glorious. It is painful on account of the great pain and suffering that they experience on earth and glorious on account of the dignity and grace that they receive in heaven. It is a story whose roots go back to creation, to the account in the Book of Genesis about the first crime committed in history, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). From his point of view, Cain sacrifices on the altar of his degeneracy God and his brother. Thus, Cain irremediably attacks both existential dimensions of his life, the vertical and horizontal when he attacks true worship and brotherhood. 

On the other hand, in his person Abel saves, “offering up and offered by faith”, true worship and sacrifice to God. Furthermore, God accepts Abel’s offering and receives him as a sacrifice. Later, when he recalls this episode, the Apostle Paul highlights Abel’s faith and its impact even until today: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (Hebrews 11:4)

Today the voice of Abel echoes loudly as the Christians of the East in general and the Middle East in particular commemorate the atrocities perpetrated against their communities at the end of the Ottoman Empire, from 1915 onward. According to historians, a policy of methodical extermination, without precedent in history, was carried out at the hands of the Turks, causing the martyrdom of some five million Christians – Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Armenians and Orthodox: men, women and children. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Boston University to host Millennial Studies Conference on Islamic Eschatology, May 3-4

Boston University is hosting a conference on Mahdism, May 3-4, entitled 'Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad' with some impressive speakers, including Islamic history and eschatology scholar Timothy R. Furnish, whose articles are often featured here at Facing Islam.

The two other speakers with whom I am familiar are:
If you are able to attend, by all means make every effort, as this promises to be a significant event. Anyone attending, I would be very interested posting your review, summary and impressions of the conference. Contact me through my profile listing in the left-hand column.




Tim exuberantly shares, "My paper is entitled 'Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire's 700-year War against Mahdism in its Realm'.  I'm honored to be sharing the stage with the likes of the august folks listed above!"  

Read more of Tim Furnish's preview of his talk at his website,  MahdiWatch.

Below are the highlights from the Boston University Event Listing:

Churches in Turkey on the Verge of Extinction


"Turkey... has largely succeeded in destroying the entire Christian cultural heritage of Asia Minor."

Related: 


by Uzay Bulut
Gatestone Institute via Raymond Ibrahim — April 21, 2015

While Eastern Orthodox Christians recently celebrated their Easter holy week, a historic church in Istanbul — the once magnificent Christian city of Constantinople — is witnessing yet another abuse at the hands of its current authorities.

“The historic Istanbul cathedral and museum, Hagia Sophia, witnessed its first Quran recitation under its roof after 85 years Saturday,” reported the state-run Anatolian News Agency of Turkey. “The Religious Affairs Directorate launched the exhibition “Love of Prophet,” as part of commemorations of the birth of Islamic Prophet Muhammad.”

Even though Christians are a tiny minority in Turkey today, Christianity has a long history in Asia Minor, the birthplace of many Christian Apostles and Saints, including Paul of Tarsus, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, and Polycarp of Smyrna.

All of the first seven Ecumenical Councils were held in what is today Turkey. Two out of the five centers (Patriarchates) of the ancient Pentarchy — Constantinople (Istanbul) and Antioch (Antakya) — are also situated there. Antioch was the place where, for the first time, the followers of Jesus were called “Christians.”

Turkey is also home to the Seven Churches of Asia, where were sent the Revelations to John. During the centuries that followed, countless churches were established throughout the region.

One of them, Hagia Sophia, was once the grandest cathedral in the Christian world — until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans on May 29, 1453, followed by a three days of unbridled pillage.[1]

Hagia Sophia was not exempt. Pillagers made their way to the Hagia Sophia and battered down its doors. Trapped in the church, congregants and refugees became spoils to be divided among the Ottoman invaders.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pictures of Armenian Genocide Centennial Rallies Throughout the World

Photographic coverage of global commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Visit our special Armenian Genocide Resource Page...




Flags of the victims of the genocide:
Armenian, Assyrian, Greek (L to R)
AINA — April 25, 2015

"We have made a clean sweep of the Armenians and Assyrians of Azerbaijan" -- Those were the words of Djevdet Bey, the governor of Van Province in Ottoman Turkey, who on April 24, 1915 lead 20,000 Turkish soldiers and 10,000 Kurdish irregulars in the opening act of the genocide of Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks.

Between 1915 and 1918 750,000 Assyrians (75%), 500,000 Greeks and 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks and Kurds in a genocide that aimed at and nearly succeeded in destroying the Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire.

Kurds acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and their role in it

Obama sides with the Turks who "have been trying to erase the genocide from history, shortly after they gave up trying to erase the Armenians from history."

Visit our special Armenian Genocide Resource Page...

by John Hayward, Breitbart News — April 24, 2015

Mourners at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Museum (REUTERS)
The hundredth anniversary of the Armenian genocide caused many world leaders to blink, notably President Barack Obama, who abandoned his old campaign promises–and fiery criticism of the Bush administration–by refusing to acknowledge it. Much of this moral cowardice emanates from Western politicians who wish to curry favor with the Turkish government. The Turks have been trying to erase the genocide from history, shortly after they gave up trying to erase the Armenians from history.

Kurdish leaders, however, have been frank in acknowledging the genocide, and the role their own people played as soldiers of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut took a long look at the Kurdish recognition, and the desire of Turkish writers to break ranks with their government and acknowledge the past, for International Business Times.

The growing list of Muslim Student Association (MSA) terrorists

MSA was founded in the United States in 1963 by members of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seeks a global Islamic state and has spawned leaders of a series of Sunni terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and ISIS. See DiscoverTheNetworks.org

Anwar al-Awlaki, former MSA member,
and the mosque he led in Falls Church, VA.
“Jihad against America is binding upon
myself as it is binding on every
other able Muslim.”
There are some high-profile, Muslim terrorists on this list, whose names you will probably recognize,  such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and whose targets you certainly will (including 9/11 and the Fort Hood jihad massacre).

Why is it important to be aware of these connections?

For one thing, the number of Orthodox Christians in the United States is roughly equivalent to the number of Muslims. How many Orthodox Christian terrorists have we seen over the last twenty years or so?

Secondly, the recent case of Hoda Muthani the Mujahideen, a quiet, moderate Muslim student in a business school in Alabama, who fled to join ISIS in Syria, reminds us how strong is the jihadist pull, even for young, affluent, well educated, American-born Muslims.

These are hard facts to accept for some, but there is clearly a link between Islam and terrorist activity, and that link starts right with the Koran and Muhammad, which is one reason I wrote my book, Facing Islam, as a primer on Islam from an Orthodox Christian perspective.


The growing list of Muslim Student Association (MSA) terrorists
Posted by Creeping Sharia, April 25, 2015

The MSA has a growing list of terrorist alumni as noted in this post, Why Muslim Student Group Concerned the NYPD:

The list is extensive, but among the MSA alumni who went on to terrorist involvement are:
  • Anwar al-Awlaki, an influential American-born al-Qaida cleric who recruited a series of homegrown jihadists before being killed by a U.S. drone strike;
  • Aafia Siddiqui, convicted of attempted murder and assault on U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan;
  • Zachary Chesser, convicted of attempting to provide material support to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab and soliciting attacks on “South Park” producers for an episode in which the prophet Muhammad was shown in a bear suit;
  • Jesse Morton, convicted with Chesser of threatening the South Park producers with murder;
  • Adam Gadahn, an al-Qaida spokesman who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for treason and material support to al-Qaida;
  • Waheed Zaman, who was convicted of plotting to blow up transatlantic flights;
  • Adis Medunjanin, who is awaiting trial for plotting to bomb New York subways;

Joint Statement on the Second Anniversary of the Kidnapping of Archbishops Paul and John

"Paul and John are on trial; the Christian persecution for Evangelization of the first century has now returned to this land."

April 25, 2015

A Joint Statement Issued by the two Patriarchates of Antioch and of All the East: The Greek (Roum) Orthodox Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church

On the occasion of the second anniversary of kidnapping the two Metropolitans of Aleppo: His Eminence Paul (Yazigi) and His Eminence John (Abraham) on April 22, 2013

Damascus April 22, 2015

“It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” (Acts 23:6)

Paul and John are on trial; the Christian persecution for Evangelization of the first century has now returned to this land. Such persecution is not common in the East or in modern times. The consequences of this trial are not only earthly but heavenly. In this struggle, the Great Judge will prevail, for His judgement is both the case of True Man and True God.

Maybe this trial is unfair, most probably because the kidnapped are not able to plead their case. But their testimony resounds ceaselessly by their spirit and life, and echoes in the wilderness of this world.

O brethren of the Word, you are our children in Aleppo; in you and among you we planted the seeds of the true word, the word of witnessing and of ministry. Behold, the plant is growing! We see this growth in you and we are proud of its fruit. We are astounded by your perseverance, which strengthens our perseverance. We exalt your steadfastness which sustains us. We esteem your patience, which recompenses our patience. How not? You are the crown of our glory and pride (1 Thess 2.19,20) in this trial against evangelization.

O brethren of Faith, we are on trial because of what we believed in and evangelized and we served by the hand, heart and conscience. We live today on earth so that we can live thenceforth in Heaven. Man has the right to believe in the True God, and to faithfully minister with this faith his neighbor as himself. Our belief in the True Man, leads us to serve Him anywhere we are, but we will continue to be citizens where we are today. We will not deviate one iota from this determination. It deserves every sacrifice in defense of human dignity. Man is oppressed and dehumanized by the contemporary human market which offers people as a commodity in a wicked commerce. The sting of dehumanization shall be broken in this trial against dignity.