Friday, May 31, 2013

Mark Steyn: The Road Europe is On

I happened to see this brief essay, and it is such a perfect follow-up to the photo story about the collapse of Christianity and the rise of Islam in London I posted earlier that I had to share it.

Unless dramatic changes come soon, Mark Steyn is ominously correct: there will be no future for Europe or England. We have a little more time and resources in the U.S.A., but will we wake up in time?

A man has been arrested for the stabbing of a French soldier last weekend. A native of France, Alexandre Dhaussy is a convert to Islam — like the two men who hacked Drummer Rigby to death in Woolwich, like the young wife of the Boston Marathon bomber, and the young Canadian jihadist the bomber hooked up with in Dagestan, and the Belgian teenagers who ran away from home to fight in Syria.

These young “reverts” (as Islam calls converts) have made a bet on where the future lies. These photographs from Cable Street in East London show how sound the bet is: Two churches each built to hold a thousand worshippers now have between them 32 graying parishioners; the mosque, meanwhile, overflows, so that each Friday the streets are full of the faithful on their knees pointed toward Mecca. I was in Spitalfields last year, and saw the scene for myself — and was almost overwhelmed by the sense of loss: In the nihilism of multiculturalism, the great imperial metropolis is now the colony.

Unless something changes, that last photograph is Europe’s future. And Europe’s past will be as abandoned as those churches. In the Nineties, in his famous and controversial book Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, V. S. Naipaul wrote of the eastern lands conquered by Islam that “converted peoples have to strip themselves of their past.” In the West, in the nation states that built the modern world, that process is well under way. And Islam is Europe’s future. Which is to say, for Europe, there is no future. 

Raymond Ibrahim: Islam's 'Rule of Numbers' and the London Beheading

Raymond analyzes something here which is of immense importance: Muslim demographics, what he terms Islam's "Rule of Numbers," and what we can expect to see as Muslim populations continue to increase in the United States. I'm getting deeper into Raymond's new book, Crucified Again, and he makes his case there with undeniable certainty.

I had in mind to post this when I put up the photos and article earlier from the Daily Mail, showing the shocking collapse of Christianity and explosive growth of Islam in England.


Islam's Rule of Numbers and the London Beheading 
May 28, 2013 | Raymond Ibrahim

Last week in London, two Muslim men shouting jihad’s ancient war-cry, “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a British soldier with a cleaver—in a busy intersection and in broad daylight.  They boasted in front of passersby and asked to be videotaped.

With blood still on his hands, and his decapitated victim
still on the street, the jihadi still managed to go into
“grievance” mode in front of the camera.

As surreal as this event may seem, Islamic beheadings are not uncommon in the West, including the U.S.  In 2011, a Pakistani-American who helped develop “Bridges TV”—a station “designed to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims”—beheaded his wife.  In Germany in 2012, another Muslim man beheaded his wife in front of their six children—again while hollering “Allahu Akbar.

Beheading non-Muslim “infidels” in the Islamic world is especially commonplace: in Yemen a “sorceress” was beheaded by the “Supporters of Sharia”; in Indonesia, three Christian girls on their way to school were beheaded; in Syria last Christmas, U.S.-supported rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to the dogs; in Africa—Somalia, Tanzania, Mali—Christians are regularly decapitated.  (For a comprehensive picture of Christian suffering under Islam, see my new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.)

Most recently, a disturbing video surfaced from “liberated” Libya of a machete-wielding masked man hacking at the head of a captive—again, to cries of “Allahu Akbar!”

But the greater lesson of the London beheading concerns its audacity—done in broad daylight with the attackers boasting in front of cameras, as often happens in the Islamic world.

It reflects what I call “Islam’s Rule of Numbers,” a rule that expresses itself with remarkable consistency:  The more Muslims grow in numbers, the more Islamic phenomena intrinsic to the Muslim world—in this case, brazen violence against “infidels”—appear.

In the U.S., where Muslims are less than 1% of the population, London-style attacks are uncommon.  Islamic assertiveness is limited to political activism dedicated to portraying Islam as a “religion of peace,” and sporadic, but clandestine, acts of terror.

In Europe, where Muslims make for much larger minorities, open violence is common.  But because they are still a vulnerable minority, Islamic violence is always placed in the context of “grievances,” a word that pacifies Westerners.

With an approximate 10% Muslim population, London’s butcherers acted brazenly, yes, but they still invoked grievances.  Standing with bloodied hands, the murderer declared: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone…. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day.”

Days later in Stockholm, which also has a large Muslim minority, masked rioters  destroyed 100 cars and property.  The grievance for this particular outbreak was that police earlier shot a(nother) machete-wielding “immigrant” in self-defense.

Grievances disappear when Muslims become at least 35-40% of a nation and feel capable of waging an all-out jihad, as in Nigeria, where the Muslim-majority north has been terrorizing Christians—bombing hundreds of churches and beheading hundreds of infidels.

Sudan was an earlier paradigm, when the Khartoum government slaughtered millions to cleanse Sudan of Christians and polytheists.  Historically Christian-majority Lebanon plunged into a deadly civil war as the Muslim population grew.

Once Muslims become the majority, the violence ironically wanes, but that’s because there are fewer infidels to persecute.  And what infidels remain lead paranoid, low-key existences—as dhimmis—always careful to “know their place.”

With an 85% Muslim majority, Egypt is increasingly representative of this paradigm.  Christian Copts are under attack, but not in an all-out jihad.  Rather, under the Muslim Brotherhood their oppression is becoming institutionalized, including through new “blasphemy” laws which have seen many Christians attacked and imprisoned.

Attacks on infidels finally end when Muslims become 100% of the population, as in Saudi Arabia—where all its citizens are Muslim, and churches and other non-Islamic expressions are totally banned.
Such is Islam’s Rule of Numbers.

Thus as Muslim populations continue growing in Western nations, count on growing, and brazen, numbers of attacks on infidels—beheadings and such.

Most recently in France, which holds Europe’s largest Muslim population, another European soldier was stabbed in the neck by a pious Muslim.

The question is, how long will leftist media and politicians refuse to face reality, including by propagating the false “grievance” claim, which, once Muslims reach enough numbers—as is projected for Europe—will be discarded for the full-blown jihad?

Photos dramatize the Collapse of Christianity and the Rise of Islam in England

This is what happens when the Gospel is not preached — and not lived. This should be a jolting wake up call to us all, and stir us to fervent and zealous faith, lest our communities also be overtaken by a false desert pagan religion.

It would seem from the comments of the English clergy below, that the best they can offer is a line from the classic Pink Floyd album, Dark Side of the Moon:

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English Way;
The time has come, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say...


One country, two religions and three very telling pictures: The empty pews at churches just yards from an overcrowded mosque
  • Two photos show Sunday morning services in churches in East London
  • The third shows worshippers gathered for Friday midday prayers outside a nearby mosque 
  • The difference in numbers could hardly be more dramatic

Set aside the fact that our Queen is the Defender of the Christian Faith. Ignore the 26 Church of England bishops who sit in the House of Lords. 
Pay no attention to the 2011 Census that told us 33.2 million people in England and Wales describe themselves as Christians.
For if you want a more telling insight into religion in the United Kingdom today, just look at these photographs. The story they tell is more revealing than any survey.

Dwindling flock: St Mary's Cable Street in East London was built to hold
1,000 people. Today, the congregation numbers around 20.

What they show are three acts of worship performed in the East End of London within a few hundred yards of each other at the end of last month. 

Two of the photos show Sunday morning services in the churches of St George-in-the-East on Cannon Street Road, and St Mary’s on Cable Street.

The third shows worshippers gathered for Friday midday prayers outside the nearby mosque on the Brune Street Estate in Spitalfields.

The difference in numbers could hardly be more dramatic. At St George’s, some 12 people have congregated to celebrate Holy Communion.

Empty pews: 18th-century parishioners crowded into St George-in-the-East
to hear John Wesley. Only 12 people attended this service.

When the church was built in the early 18th century, it was designed to seat 1,230.

Numbers are similar at St Mary’s, opened in October 1849. Then, it could boast a congregation of 1,000. Today, as shown in the picture, the worshippers total just 20.

While the two churches are nearly empty, the Brune Street Estate mosque has a different problem — overcrowding. The mosque itself is little more than a small room rented in a  community centre, and it can hold only 100.

However, on Fridays, those numbers swell to three to four times the room’s capacity, so the worshippers spill out onto the street, where they take up around the same amount of space as the size of the near-empty St Mary’s down the road.

A study in devotion: The tiny mosque on the Brune Street Estate,
Spitalfields, holds only 100 people, so the local Bangladeshi
community throng the street for Friday midday prayers.

On Sunday October 1, 1738, St George’s was packed twice during the day to hear the great evangelist John Wesley, who then preached at the church for the following week explaining, as he put it, ‘the way of salvation to many who misunderstood what had been preached concerning it’.

Today, there are no John Wesleys to fill up the pews. The church does its best, offering, for example, a monthly ‘Hot Potato Sunday’, during which the few congregants can discuss the readings of the day over a baked potato.

Canon Michael Ainsworth of St George’s puts on a brave face when he says: ‘What we are saying now is it is not just a matter of numbers. It is about keeping faith with the city and hanging in there — being part of the community.’

At St Mary’s, meanwhile, Rev Peter McGeary cannot explain why the numbers are so low: ‘It’s impossible to say, there are so many variables.’ 

When he is asked if he tries to boost his congregations, he simply replies: ‘We are not a company, we are a church.’

In contrast, there seems a remarkable energy attached to the mosque on Brune Street, which has been described as the ‘Mecca of the City’.

Here, come rain or shine, members of the  Bangladeshi community perform the Friday prayer of Jumma under the open sky. It is a communal act which will surely only grow in popularity.

Sadly, that’s not something that can be said of the two nearby churches, and unless they can reinvigorate their congregations they may finally end up being deconsecrated.

When that happens, such large buildings will be attractive spaces for those who can fill them. 

One day, in a few decades, St George’s may well again be packed with worshippers — but they will not be Christians.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dr. Mark Durie: Opinions of Islam - Universalism and Relativism

Patient, deliberate exposition of the differing ways of "seeing" Islam. A long article, but a "must read."

Wilders in Australia and the "Islamic Problem" - Part II
Dr. Mark Durie

This is the second in a four part series of posts written in response to Geert Wilders’ visit to Australia  in early 2013.

In a previous post I contrasted Geert Wilders’ view that ‘Islam is the problem’ with the claims of many Muslims who preach with equal conviction that ‘Islam is the solution’, and examined evidence of the negative characteristics associated with belief in Islam, including disadvantaged human development outcomes.  

These days many leaders in the West find it convenient to sweep the ‘problem’ of Islam under the carpet. Long gone are the days of Theodore Roosevelt, Wilders’ hero, who declared  in Fear God and take your own part that values such as freedom and equality only existed in Europe because it had the military capacity to ‘beat back the Moslem invader’.

However, given the negative outcomes associated with Islam, one of which is Geert Wilders’ need for constant armed guards (some others were enumerated in the previous post), the question whether Islam is the problem or the solution is not something to be just swept under the carpet.  

In the fourth and final post of this series we will consider Wilders’ policies for managing ‘the problem’.  The third post, the next after this, will review an on-going dispute between critics of Islam as to whether there can be a moderate, tolerable form of Islam. On one side stand those, like Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Robert Spencer, who consider Islam to be essentially irredeemable.  On the other side stand those, like Daniel Pipes and Barry Rubin, who argue that there are different Islams and the ‘solution’ to radical Islam is moderate Islam.

Of course there are many opinions about Islam.  In this, the second post in this series, we consider two widely-held secular – and positive – perspectives on Islam which have been influential in shaping the response of secular-minded westerners to Islam.  These are universalism and relativism.

Relativism holds that no one religion is true, but as different as they are, all religions are equally valid in their own way, and the differences deserve respect.

Universalism — in the sense used here — holds that the core of religions consists of a set of positive ethical values shared by all people and all faiths. 

For many western secular people, universalism and relativism are so deeply embedded in their world view that they have no choice but to process Islam through the grid of these belief systems. This means they pre-judge Islam by limting their understand only to what their frame permits them to see.  What they observe is not Islam as it really is, but as it appears through the window frame of their own beliefs. They see Islam as their world view tells them it must be.

As Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote

“One thinks that one is tracing the outline of the thing’s nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing round the frame through which we look at it.” (Philosophical Investigations.) 

Business Insider: The Muslim Brotherhood Has Turned Cairo Into A Dystopia

This wholly secular analysis — which never mentions the murderous persecution of the Christian Copts by mobs of Muslims numbering in the tens of thousands, often aided and facilitated by Egyptian Police themselves — rips the mask off the Obama administration's glowing "Arab Spring" narrative. When a business journal starts reporting such an epic failure, you know it's bad.

Now if they would only report accurately of the escalating, genocidal persecution of the Christian minority by the Muslim mobs...

The Muslim Brotherhood Has Turned Cairo Into A Dystopia
Robert Johnson - Business Insider

When Egyptians took to the streets to overthrow an oppressive government in 2011, the world was on their side.

But in the two years that followed, as Arab Spring turned to Arab Winter, and Egyptians fell under the rule of the oppressive new government of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the world has looked away.

This is what Egyptians told us when we visited Cairo at the end of March 2013.

Many disillusioned Egyptians say things are worse than ever. Thugs often run the streets, crime rates have skyrocketed, and police feel they're outgunned, faced with the flood of weapons filling Cairo's streets.

Making matters worse, everything from utilities to gasoline is both more expensive and more difficult to acquire than it was before the Muslim Brotherhood.

(Well, yes. They're using the gas primarily to burn down Coptic churches and cathedrals.)

Fr. Stephen Freeman: The One You Don't See

As you read Fr. Stephen's apophatic plea for the One God, keep in mind the Mathematical  Monotheism of Islam. Essays and explorations like this are enormously helpful in giving us words for the ineffable mystery of the Blessed Triune God, and the mystery of our salvation, which involves "being one" with Christ and the Father in the Holy Spirit, so that we may more fruitfully engage our Muslim interlocutors.

The One You Don't See
by Fr. Stephen Freeman
Glory to God for All Things blog

My recent post on the One God has shown me that there is much more to say on the subject. “We believe in One God…” but do we?

In a recent conversation, someone said to me that they had difficulty believing in “one supreme being who created everything…etc.” Christians don’t actually believe in one supreme being. If this startles you, then read further.

Christians do not believe in “one supreme being,” first because we do not believe in one of anything (or one of something). There is not a class called “supreme beings” to which the God who created everything belongs. There is no class of anything to which He belongs. The God of the Christians is in no way similar to the “gods” of the ancients. Indeed, Zeus, Hera, et al., are actually creatures – they each had a beginning – and the stories of their beginnings are important. They were considered powerful by those who worshiped them, but they were part of the creation itself, in some manner “similar” to all other created things.

The God of the Christians is uncreated. There is nothing to which He belongs.

The word “One,” when used in connection with the God of the Christians, has no mathematical meaning. He is not one in the sense that there could be two or more. He is not one such that He could be counted, multiplied, divided or subtracted. He is One in that He encompasses all that is, but is not defined by anything. He is One, in that He cannot be divided (and thus be two). He is One, in that to know the One is to know the Whole (though we cannot truly know the One).
One can neither discuss nor understand the One, the Superunknowable, the Transcendent, Goodness itself, that is, the Triadic Unity possessing the same divinity and the same goodness.

If you like paragraphs that say such things, then you would greatly enjoy reading St. Dionysius (Pseudo) the Areopagite, its author. Indeed, this is a fairly normal statement when reading in the Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries (as well as in many others). Though, for modern Christians, “One God,” means something they think that they understand. “I can understand ‘One God.’ It’s the Trinity that gives me trouble.” Not so.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Constantinople and Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios II

Matushka Constantina, over at Lessons from a Monastery, has posted a very mysterious and meaningful story about the Fall of Constantinople. Please read all the way to the end...

Constantinople and Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios II

Christ is Risen!

This photo is of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople from our pilgrimage there in 2008. I am posting it today as a reminder of the day the City fell. In my book The Scent of Holiness (pp. 128-129) there is a story about the first Patriarch after the fall, St. Gennadios Scholarios II.  Here it is:

* * *

After singing Agia Sophia I told them about my trip with my husband to Constantinople earlier that summer, and they told me about Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios. He was the first Patriarch  after the city fell.

After the Turks took over Constantinople, the ruling Sultan Mehmed II, who led the capture of the city, had a recurring dream about a hand with five fingers. Upset that neither he nor any other Muslim could decipher its meaning, the Sultan sent out his men to find the monk Gennadios, who was renowned for his insight into things of a spiritual nature. Once they found him, the men asked monk Gennadios to interpret the Sultan’s dream. Gennadios agreed but said he needed to fast and pray for several days before he would be able to interpret it.

After fasting and praying, he was informed by God what the dream meant. The hand with five fingers the Sultan continually saw in his dream represented five faithful Christians—the five faithful Christians Constantinople did not have living in it at the time of its collapse.

“If there had been only five faithful Christians in Constantinople, God would not have allowed it to be captured by you,” monk Gennadios explained to the Sultan.

Relieved to finally have his dream interpreted, Sultan Mehmed II promised not to persecute the Christians and to make Gennadios the leader of his people. The Sultan honored his wish. Thus, monk Gennadios became the first Ecumenical Patriarch after the fall of The City…

Imagine, I thought to myself, if back then there weren’t even five faithful Christians in Constantinople, how many would God find in our cities today?

It is believed by some that the Sultan converted
to Christianity through the prayers and enlightening
conversations he had with St. Gennadios.

The Seed of Christianity: New Priest-Martyr Igor Rozin

This is my second post on New Priest-Martyr Igor Rozin, from an article at, which presents his life in a somewhat journalistic manner, yet with great reverence and feeling. There are vignettes into the dangerous situation in the Caucasus, but also descriptions of the unique beauty of this region.

(See my earlier post here. And, for a rich and edifying life of Fr Igor, I highly recommend issue 291 of The Orthodox Word.)

Above all, this is a rare, astonishing glimpse into the making of a saint. Heed the words of Archimandrite Lev Akhidov in his sermon reported at the end of the article:

Who killed Fr. Igor? Satan himself. He is the adversary: the adversary of Christ and the adversary of faith. He is the adversary of truth. But the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Here, on an empty place, Fr. Igor began his ministry. He was successful, for which reason the envier of the human race could not stand it and decided to eliminate him, so that Christian singing and the preaching of the Gospel would die down here… A beautiful church has been erected on this place. I repeat Tertullian’s maxim: "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity."
I sense that a new 'cloud of witnesses' is being assembled in the early years of the 21st century. This calls for faith, vigilance, and patient endurance from us all. May the adversary of Christ and His Church, the adversary of Truth, not find us unprepared.

Fr. Igor serving a Moleben

May 13, 2013, marks the twelfth anniversary of the martyric death of Priest Igor Rozin on the feast day of St. Ignatius, Bishop of the Caucasus, in the city of Tyrnyauz in the North Caucasus.

One cannot drive to the foot of Mount Elbrus except through Tyrnyauz. The road from the city takes a rapid turn upwards until it reaches Terskol. There it ends: above that, one can proceed only by cable or on foot.

There is, however, one more way: from the north, from Kislovodsk, on a mountain road. That is the way that stubborn mountain climbers took when the road through Tyrnyauz was closed for nearly an entire year, from February to November 2011, when a counter-terrorist operation was underway here. Today this operation is often still declared, but not for long: usually for a day or two, during which the news shows stories of how a cache of explosives was located or an apartment in which militants were entrenched was stormed. Few people outside of Tyrnyauz pay attention to this news: today television shows too much of it. But it is another story when you live here. People entering the city encounter roadblocks. Resting his elbow on the butt of a machinegun hanging from his chest, a solider in body armor smokes next to an armored personnel carrier. A black mask covers his face. Other gunmen beside him check the Soviet-era cars parked at the roadside.

In the distance one can see the empty-eyed skeletons of buildings belonging to the Tyrnyauz Mining and Ore-Dressing Integrated Plant, which was once famous throughout the entire Soviet Union. In the beginning of the 1930s tungsten-molybdenum ore was discovered and the city was built, but the plant began to fade in the early 1990s and has since completely shut down. This once flourishing garden city has been plunged into poverty and desolate chaos. But what has not been taken away from this place is the beauty of God’s world, which shows through the distorted features of modernity.

The unusual, almost radiant air gives the landscape a certain unreality – perhaps this is a quality of the mountain, or perhaps of this place. The velvet sides of the mountain, the ragged cliffs, the grey peak of Totur, looking down on Tyrnyauz, the eagles pumping their wings in the air currents – everything is so beautiful that it is as if you were in one of the fabulous countries you read about as a child.

To the right, on the mountain slope, one can see the city cemetery. Over one of the graves is a tall canopy topped by a cross. It was installed recently, a couple of years ago, as was the black marble cross, now hugged by a viburnum bush. Before this, the grave of Priest Igor Rozin looked like almost all the others, with the exception that beyond its fence, both then as now, one could often see people praying.

A pilgrim prays at the grave of Fr. Igor, 2012.

Despite the fact that getting to Tyrnyauz is not easy, and not always without danger, people come to Fr. Igor’s grave constantly: from the Caucasus, from Moscow, from St. Petersburg. We drive into the city. The winding road, making its way through the new region, finally becomes an avenue that is straight as an arrow.


In the Soviet years, as it still is today, it was called Elbrus Avenue. Commander Igor Rozin of the avalanche squad, a rescuer and mountain climber, travelled on it more than once. Priest Igor hurried the same way from Terskol to services. He was ordained in 1999, being given the only surviving building from 1937 as a church. “Once I happened to meet him—I hadn’t seen him in a long time. He asked if I could restore an old Bible for him. I was surprised,” related Dmitry, a neighbor of the Rozin family in Terskol and a colleague from the Vysokogorny Institute. “And he said: ‘I’ve become a priest.’ ‘Where?’ ‘In Tyrnyauz. We were given the dirtiest place in the city.’” Is that what he really said: the dirtiest place? “That’s what he said. In fact, it was dirty: a bacteriological laboratory. It couldn’t have been any dirtier: they brought all the diseases there. But he said: ‘We’ll pray away this dirtiest of places: nothing’s impossible.’”

I still think that he put it differently: all things are possible to him that believeth [Mark 9:23].

They did indeed clean and pray away. The entire community took care of the repairs: there was neither a window, nor a door, nor a floor. There is a photograph in which the first rector of the first church in the history of Tyrnyauz, Fr. Igor Rozin, is captured along with the dean, Fr. Leonid, and his daughter.

Fr. Igor in front of his church. Photo described in the paragraph below

The Fall of Constantinople, 29 May 1453

This essay is included as a prefatory article in my book, Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad.

The Fall of Constantinople, 29 May 1453
by  Dionysios Hatzopoulos   

In the city everyone realized that the fateful moment had come. In the city, while the bells of the churches rang mournfully, citizens and soldiers joined a long procession behind the holy relics brought out of the churches. Singing hymns, men, women, children, soldiers, civilians, clergy, monks and nuns, knowing that they were going to die shortly, made peace with themselves, with God and with eternity.

When the procession ended the Emperor met with his commanders and the notables of the city. In a philosophical speech he told his sub- jects that the end of their time had come. In essence he told them that Man had to be ready to face death when he had to fight for his faith, for his country, for his family or for his sovereign. All four reasons were now present. Furthermore, his subjects, who were the descendants of Greeks and Romans, had to emulate their great ancestors. They had to fight and sacrifice themselves without fear. They had lived in a great city and they were now going to die defending it. As for himself, he was going to die fighting for his faith, for his city and for his people... He thanked all present for their contribution to the defense of the city and asked them to forgive him, if he had ever treated them without kindness. Meanwhile the great church of Saint Sophia was crowded. Thousands of people were moving towards the church. Inside, Orthodox and Catholic priests were holding mass. People were singing hymns, others were openly crying, others were asking each other for forgiveness. Those who were not serving on the ramparts also went to the church, among them was seen, for a brief moment, the Emperor. People confessed and took communion. Then those who were going to fight rode or walked back to the ramparts.

From the great church the Emperor rode to the Palace at Blachernae. There he asked his household to forgive him. He bade the emotionally shattered men and women farewell, left his Palace and rode away, into the night, for a last inspection of the defense positions. Then he took his battle position.

The excesses which followed, during the early hours of the Ottoman victory, are described in detail by eyewitnesses... 

Bands of soldiers began now looting. Doors were broken, private homes were looted, their tenants were massacred. Shops in the city markets were looted. Monasteries and Convents were broken in. Their tenants were killed, nuns were raped, many, to avoid dishonor, killed themselves. Killing, raping, looting, burning, enslaving, went on and on... The troops had to satisfy themselves. The great doors of Saint Sophia were forced open, and crowds of angry soldiers came in and fell upon the unfortunate worshippers. Pillaging and killing in the holy place went on for hours. Similar was the fate of worshippers in most churches in the city. Everything that could be taken from the splendid buildings was taken by the new masters of the Imperial capital. Icons were destroyed, precious manu- scripts were lost forever. Thousands of civilians were enslaved, soldiers fought over young boys and young women. Death and enslavement did not distinguish among social classes. Nobles and peasants were treated with equal ruthlessness.

The Sultan entered the city in the afternoon of the first day of occupation. Constantinople was finally his and he intended to make it the capi- tal of his mighty Empire. He toured the ruined city. He visited Saint Sophia which he ordered to be turned into a mosque. What he saw was desolation, destruction, death in the streets, ruins, desecrated churches...

Dionysios Hatzopoulos — Professor of Classical and Byzantine Studies, and Chairman of Hellenic Studies Center at Dawson College, Montreal, and Lecturer at the Department of History at Universite de Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Posted on Romiosini: Hellenism In The Middle Ages 

Interview with a Syrian Orthodox Priest

This just in from Deacon Giorgi Maximov, one of Russia's most insightful writers on the threat of Islam, and on Orthodox missionary work to Muslims. Fr. Dcn Giorgi was also a close friend and co-laborer of New Priest-Martyr Daniil Sysoev.

What this priest describes below is deliberate religious cleansing of Christians from Syria by Muslims, and we might even dare to call it genocide.

ON SYRIA, JIHAD, AND KIDNAPPED METROPOLITAN PAUL. AN INTERVIEW WITH AN ORTHODOX PRIEST FROM SYRIA offers this brief conversation with an Orthodox Syrian, Hieromonk N. from the Antiochian Patriarchate, dedicated to the very difficult situation of Christians in Syria today. The editors have chosen not to provide the priest’s name in order to protect him and his close ones from danger.

—Father, tell us please about the modern position of Orthodox Christians in Syria.

—We are experiencing more persecutions from Moslems. Moslems from 29 different countries have now come to Syria in order to participate in jihad, and they receive a lot of money from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other countries. These visiting Moslems, together with some local Syrian Moslems, are conducting military acts, terrorist acts, and other acts of violence against the peaceful population.

Within the framework of their declared “holy” war, they torture and kill Orthodox priests; they gouge out their eyes, break their bones, and cut out their organs, as they did with Fr. Thaddei Al-Haddad. They abduct priests, bishops, Christian women, and young men, and no one knows where these people are and what is happening to them. Some were abducted over a year ago, and we still do not know their fate. Some have had their homes taken away from them, while others’ home were destroyed during the fighting. In the past months, every day brings us new tragedies. For example, yesterday a whole bus full of women and children was abducted. The leaders of these fighters openly call Moslems to kill priest and monks, to destroy crosses, and to leave nothing intact. They have destroyed many churches and monasteries—a missile was even fired at our Metropolia building. The persecutions touch not only Orthodox Christians, but also Christians of other confessions. Many Christians live in fear for their children. Those who are able leave the country, but these are mainly people who have relatives in other countries, and who have enough money to leave.

There are whole populated areas that have been completely taken over by insurgents. They are ruled by newly-appeared emirs, and those Christians who were not able to flee these places are obligated to pay jizya—a special tax that allows them to remain Christians, and Christian women must hide their faces like Moslem women. If they don’t pay the jizya they are simply killed. It would not be good if all Christians were to leave Syria, because then the Church would disappear here. But those who stay risk their lives and the lives of their children. Therefore the Church finds itself in a very complicated position. Prayer is our only support. After all, everything is in God’s hands.

Syrian insergent with 'trophies': a priest's blessing cross
and epitrachelion from a desecrated church.

—Tell us please about Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo, who was kidnapped by insurgents.

—A month and ten days have passed since his Eminence was abducted, and we still do not know what has happened to him. We would like to know if he is alive, but we cannot even establish that. Met. Paul is my spiritual father—I have been confessing to him for twenty-two years. He is truly a man of God, filled with love for God, and living for the sake of the Church. He is one of the main fathers-confessor of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. His Eminence became a monk on Mt. Athos and labored there in monasticism, and later, when he was chosen and consecrated bishop, he did not in the least abandon his monastic rule. He reads his cell rule every night, rises early, and in general upholds a monastic way of life in everything. Met. Paul founded a monastic brotherhood; there are twenty of us, and one of our brothers is now the Metropolitan of Argentina. His Eminence also built a monastery for women where there are about twenty sisters, and he also has more than 1500 spiritual children all over the world. Metropolitan Paul is a very modest person, who talks little, and that only when truly needed. For me he is a true example of a bishop and a monk. He never got involved in political issues, was always occupied only with spiritual life, and taught others to pray. Not long before his abduction we were walking together in the city. I asked him, “Geronda, why do you go by foot? It is dangerous—after all, many have been kidnapped already.” But he answered, “Martyrdom is the only sinless path.” And now I don’t know what has happened to him—whether or not he has become a martyr. We do not know who to ask, where to turn, or what to do.

Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo

—In your opinion, how might events in Syria further unfold?

—It is difficult to guess because there are very many different sides to this conflict; it is not a war between two countries of the classic type. But I can say one thing: if Russia had not supported us, we would have lost Syria a long time ago. The only thing that Syrian Christians can do now is pray. What is important is not who will die sooner and who will die later, but where our souls will go after death. Death is very close to each of us now. For example, not long ago we were driving down a street and the driver wanted to turn into a certain side street, but at the last minute I said, “Let’s turn on the next street.” We had driven only a little further when a bomb exploded in that very side street where we did not turn. The Lord guards us, and the day will come when He will call into account those who are now killing, slashing, and robbing.

—In Russia, donations and humanitarian aid was collected for those who have suffered during the military opposition in Syria. Is there some way we can further help the Orthodox Syrians?

—Perhaps you could temporarily shelter some of the women and children who are currently in danger. In fact Christians do not want to abandon their homes and native regions, but there are times when this is simply necessary in order to save people’s lives.

But the most important thing is—pray for us!

Translation by

Turkey’s Continuing Siege: Remembering the Fall of Constantinople

First of two posts on the Fall of Constantinople on this dark day.

Turkey’s Continuing Siege: Remembering the Fall of Constantinople
Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Dr Alexandros K. Kyrou   
May 29th, 2013

Today marks the 560th anniversary of the fall and capture of the magnificent Christian city of Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire, to the forces led by the Ottoman Turkish Sultan, Mohammed (Mehmet) II. Mehmet took the title “the Conqueror” for himself, as a sign of the Turks’ conquest of what was Europe’s most glorious city of the Middle Ages and as recognition of the Ottoman jihadi victory over Christianity.

Nearly half a millennium later, the government of the Republic of Turkey continues to celebrate the fall of the city, today’s Istanbul, with religious, sports, and media festivities. Kemalist governments long understood the fall of Constantinople as a signature event for Turkish nationalism. Visitors to Istanbul on May 29th could hardly mistake the nationalist message of the city draped in Turkish flags for as far as the eye could see, and under the current Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, secular nationalism has been augmented with a religious message about the fall of Constantinople as a sign of Islam’s triumph over Christianity.

Last year, Erdogan floated the idea of designating May 29th as a Turkish national holiday. More recently, he suggested the possibility of a referendum on the conversion of the historic Byzantine Christian Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, captured by Mehmet when he rode on horseback through the colossal entry doors into the heart of the sanctuary, from its current status as a museum into a functioning mosque.

Ankara has consistently critiqued the European Union as a Christian Club keeping Turkey at arm’s length because of religious prejudice against Islam. Yet, the fall of Constantinople on May 29th in 1453 began an unrelenting, centuries-long pattern of persecution and discrimination against the city’s Christian population. This policy of religious cleansing lays bare the lie of the Ottoman Empire as a benign, multi-cultural polity, and also highlights the violations of human rights and religious freedom that are the hallmark of Turkey’s treatment of its Christian minority populations. The anniversary of the fall of Constantinople is a reminder that the siege against Turkey’s Christians continues to this day — most egregiously, against the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the tiny Greek Orthodox Christian community (fewer than 2,000 in number), as well as against the small Armenian Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Christian communities (their combined numbers total about 80,000). All of these Christians are survivors tracing their roots to Constantinople when it fell to the Ottoman Turks.

The erasure of Christians from Constantinople (located on the ancient city of Byzantion on the southernmost promontory of the European side of the Bosporus) is one of the tragedies of history. When the Ottomans began their 54-day siege of Constantinople, the city was still renowned throughout Europe for its size, wealth, and cosmopolitan sophistication. Even after the disintegrated Western Roman Empire had been resuscitated by Charlemagne as the Holy Roman Empire, the capital city of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire had a population numbering nearly one million, and was the repository of Medieval Europe’s art, ancient literature, and the birthplace of the hospital and the university. And long after the Christian Sees of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem had fallen to Arab Muslim armies moving westward through the Levant and the Holy Lands of Christianity’s origins, Constantinople stood as reminder that the epicenter of Christian theology and practice was in the eastern territories of the Roman Empire — only the See of Rome lay in western imperial lands. When the Great Schism split Christendom into the Greek Orthodox East and Roman Catholic West, Constantinople’s Christians were largely alone on the frontlines when the Ottoman Turks began their assault the city.

The Ottomans’ capture of Constantinople was the final blow marking the end of the world’s most long-lived polity, the Roman Empire. In the former Byzantine East, Christians found themselves living in an Islamic theocracy, rendered second-class subjects of the Ottoman Sultan: as dhimmi, they were accorded formal status as protected “Peoples of the Book,” and as a religious community, the Christian millet was overseen by the Ecumenical Patriarch. But in reality, Christians in the Ottoman Empire were treated as chattel, and were subjected to all manner of persecution and exploitation: most notably, the infamous devershirme was a system of forcible conscription-conversion of Christian children as a form of human tax for the Ottoman state.

The conventional portrayal of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, has been built on the political canard that the secularist principles of the Republic of Turkey were a deliberate turn away from the Islamic theocracy of the Ottoman Empire. The reality is quite different. In fact, Turkey’s founding moment involved the genocide of two-and-a-half million Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians in Ottoman Anatolia and Asia Minor–in short, most of the remaining Orthodox Christian population that had survived from Byzantine Christian times.

In some ways, Ankara’s policies against Turkey’s Christian citizens have added a modern veneer and sophisticated brutality to Ottoman norms and practices. Pogroms, persecution, and discrimination have been visited on Turkey’s Christians. The Turkish press revealed only weeks ago that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the target of an assassination conspiracy (the second such plot against his life in four years), and the constant threats and interference in the affairs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox community have led to the near extinction of that ancient Christian community. In the words of an anonymous Church hierarch in Turkey fearful for the life of his flock, Christians in Turkey are an endangered species. The siege of Constantinople continues today, 560 years after the fall on May 29th, 1453.

Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou is Affiliate Scholar at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and former Vice Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom; Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Prof. of History at Salem State University, where he teaches on Byzantium, the Balkans, and the Ottoman Empire.

Murdered Priest Hailed a Martyr

May 13, 2013, marked the twelfth anniversary of the martyric death of Priest Igor Rozin on the feast day of St. Ignatius, Bishop of the Caucasus, in the city of Tyrnyauz in the North Caucasus.

By Yuri Akbashev
via IWPR

The brutal murder of a Russian priest in his church has sent a fresh wave of terror through the Orthodox community in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in Chechnya in September 1999, the Orthodox Church across the North Caucasus has been like a city under siege.

Now the killing of Igor Rozin in the town of Tyrnyauze is likely to reinforce the sense of isolation in a predominantly Muslim society and increase resentment against Islamic militant groups.
Valentina Varapaeva was cleaning the church early in the morning when a young man appeared at the door asking for Father Igor. She told him to come back towards midday when the priest was due to arrive.

The man duly returned at the appointed time and was greeted by Father Igor who, to Varapaeva's surprise, invited him into his room. "In all the time that I knew him, I never once saw Father Igor invite a stranger into his room," she later told the police.

The two men spoke quietly and calmly for some time but finally Varapaeva heard the priest say, "If you have come for my soul, then take it!"

She rushed into the room to find the stranger standing over Father Igor's blood-soaked body with a curved dagger in his hand. The man turned towards her. "Don't kill me, I have small children!" she cried and the killer ran out into the street.

Father Igor, who had suffered two knife wounds to the chest, died on the way to hospital.

An hour later, Ibragim Khapaev appeared at Tyrnyauze police headquarters and confessed to the killing. Police discovered that Khapaev had previously been given a four-year suspended jail sentence for attacking his cousin with a knife.

But local parishioners insist that Father Igor's murder was part of a wider plot to drive the Orthodox Church out of the North Caucasus.

The priest had established the Tyrnyauze parish last summer and enjoyed increasing popularity in the local community. However, the Tyrnyauze church was a tiny outpost of Orthodoxy in Balkar (Muslim) territory and Father Igor had received death threats in the past.

Now the priest is being hailed as a martyr to his faith. Local parishioners argue that the champion mountain climber who was nearly two metres tall could easily have defended himself against the murderer.

"He chose to die so that, by spilling his blood, he could show the strength of his faith," said one. "He simply bowed down before the will of God."

Father Igor's funeral was attended by both Christian and Muslim residents of Tyrnyauze. In an address to the crowd, his wife said, "I have forgiven his murderer and you must do so too because it is God's will."

The priest was buried in his native Tyrnyauze while a service in Nalchik was attended by Orthodox leaders and priests from across the region.

O Righteous Father Igor, pray for us feeble and cowardly ones!

Armed Rebels Massacre Entire Population of Christian Village in Syria

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The armed rebels affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) raided the Christian-populated al-Duvair village in Reef (outskirts of) Homs near the border with Lebanon today and massacred all its civilian residents, including women and children. 

The Syrian army, however, intervened and killed tens of terrorists during heavy clashes which are still going on in al-Duvair village. 

The armed rebels' attack and crimes in al-Duvair village came after they sustained heavy defeats in al-Qusseir city which has almost been set free by the Syrian army except for a few districts. 

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country. 

Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes. 

The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad. 

In October 2011, calm was almost restored in the Arab state after President Assad started a reform initiative in the country, but Israel, the US and its Arab allies sought hard to bring the country into chaos through any possible means. Tel Aviv, Washington and some Arab capitals have been staging various plots to topple President Bashar al-Assad, who is well known in the world for his anti-Israeli stances.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The New Stockholm Syndrome: Issuing Tickets while Sweden Burns

by Ralph Sidway

It’s been a busy week for many of the counter-jihad bloggers, who daily have had to revise their headings on the “Youth Riots” in Sweden, as they entered their third, fourth, fifth, sixth nights of car burnings, vandalism and mass psychosis. Of course, as we all have become accustomed to deciphering, the “Youths” are actually Muslims, and this is the same type of behavior seen in Muslim quarters of Paris and elsewhere, as all across Europe and England, Muslim areas have become “No Go Zones” even for the police. The same is nearly true now in some American cities such as Dearborn, Michigan, where Muslims population growth and influence of local government and police has resulted in persecution of Christians, stonings, and arresting of Christians for exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech on public sidewalks. 

Then, just when you think the world might be starting to wake up to the true nature of the Islamic threat, after not only the week-long Muslim car-burning riots in Sweden, but also the rapid succession of the Boston Marathon Jihad Bombing, the broad-daylight beheading of a British soldier to cries of “Allahu Akbar,” and the stabbing of a French soldier by a Muslim in Paris, we read the most stunning statement of capitulation and self-emasculation:

”Our ambition is really to do as little as possible.” - Stockholm Chief of Police Mats Lofving (Swedish newspaper Expressen, Tues. 5/21/13)

Well, it’s hard to imagine living down to a lower expectation, but in fact, this inventive strategy of non-intervention has been exceeded by the same Stockholm police:

Swedish parking laws, however, continue to be rigidly enforced despite the increasingly chaotic situation. Early Wednesday, while documenting the destruction after a night of rioting in the Stockholm suburb of Alby, a reporter from Fria Tider observed a parking enforcement officer writing a ticket for a burnt-out Ford. 
When questioned, the officer explained that the ticket was issued because the vehicle lacked a tag showing its time of arrival. The fact that the vehicle had been effectively destroyed – its windshield smashed and the interior heavily damaged by fire – was irrelevant according to the meter maid, who asked Fria Tider’s photographer to destroy the photos he had taken. (Fria Tider, 5/24/13)

Stockholm meter maid tickets a vehicle (earlier set aflame
by rioting Muslims) for not having a tag of arrival.

This two-pronged approach of Stockholm’s finest is a depressing metaphor for the overall response of the West — Europe, the United States and Canada — to the adherents of Islam exploding, butchering, stabbing and beheading all around us: 

  1. Do as little as possible,
  2. Prosecute the victims.

We see approach #1 in play via the Obama Administration purging from its national security lexicon any reference to Islam, treating the Ft Hood massacre as “workplace violence,” and doing nothing to protect Ambassador Chris Stevens and the U.S. Benghazi consulate staff, neither by providing adequate security to begin with, nor through sending a team to defend/rescue them. The Obama administration has sought to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood to promote Islamic regimes throughout the Middle East, while doing as little as possible to protect Christians and other religious minorities, or to hold accountable the extremist Islamic governments they have helped sweep into power. Aside from drone attacks (which pose their own set of issues) and the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration’s ambition, like the Stockholm police, seems to be to “do as little as possible” to deal adequately with what is a major national security threat, and what is quickly turning into a religious cleansing movement if not outright genocide.

We see #2 in the pressures being brought on free speech here and abroad. The arrest of a Coptic filmmaker in the wake of the Benghazi attack for producing a video about Muhammad which had nothing to do with prompting the attack, and the Obama administration’s support of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which called upon Western nations to criminalize “defamation of religion,” i.e. criticism of Islam. Even without Islamic blasphemy laws codified on the books, the relentless charges of “Islamophobia” leveled against any and all who report truthfully on Islam’s texts, teachings, culture, historical practices and current atrocities has a dampening effect on free speech, and in essence prosecutes the innocent for standing up for preserving our culture and liberties.

The old saying, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” can now be applied to the willfully blind leaders of the tottering remnants of Western Civilization. In the new Stockholm Syndrome, they’re writing tickets and persecuting the victims while Muslims burn the world down.

Monday, May 27, 2013

50,000+ Total Pageviews

My sincere thanks to all of you who visit this blog, and who have helped me hit this milestone number of pageviews. We're been averaging 3000+ views per month for some time now, and these numbers are very encouraging. I'd like to use this 50,000 pageviews milestone to reflect on the purpose of this site.

If you are relatively new to this site, or have not yet read my inaugural post, I ask you to click on this link and do so, for it explains my purpose here more fully.

God willing, I hope to soon add some new content in the form of special pages on various key topics, and I plan to release an eBook edition of my first book, Facing Islam, with the goal of making it more readily available at a sharply reduced price. Still, at only $17, it is a solid Orthodox Christian resource on Islam, and includes as appendices the text of St John Damascene's Critique of Islam, as well as Islam 101, a primer on the subject by another Orthodox writer, Gregory Davis. It has received solid endorsements from clergy and monastics, including Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro of the Indonesian Orthodox Mission (himself a convert from Islam), as well as from Islam scholars including Raymond Ibrahim.

Tracking and commenting on the Global Jihad and the Jihad against America, and how that concerns Christians, is a daunting task. There are a number of outstanding counter-jihad sites, some of which I link to on the left-hand column here, and I encourage you to visit these and subscribe to them for email updates. Keeping informed is essential.

But as this is a unique blog, approaching the threat of Islam from a uniquely Orthodox Christian perspective, you'll also notice that I feature links to some very worthy Orthodox news sites, which report on Muslim persecution of Orthodox Christians in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa and elsewhere, and also present traditional Orthodox teaching. I also feature sites which concentrate on the worldwide persecution of Christians. Again, keeping informed is essential.

As you likely know from my periodic original articles (many of which are being initially published at, my goal is to not merely re-report what you can learn elsewhere, but to be a fearless and true Orthodox Christian voice during one of the most dangerous and pivotal periods in human history. The Orthodox Christian response to Islam must be vigorous and lively, as it involves not only the repudiation of a false, brutal, desert religion seeking to enslave the whole world, but especially because Orthodoxy presents the Words of Eternal Life, the Gospel — the "Good News" — of Jesus Christ. Because of this divine imperative to share the Gospel, the Orthodox Christian response to Islam is one of hope, love and forgiveness, even while boldly asserting the Truth and pointing out falsehood. I go into much more depth on this topic in my first posting, The Divine Imperative.

You'll notice that I have a series on Islam and Sci Fi, Parts One, Two and Three, and these have proved to be quite popular. I believe using visual metaphors is a great way to get one's message across, and it is stunning to me how our pop culture provides such compelling ways to do so regarding Islam. There is also some wit and fun to these articles; they're a little on the lighter side.

If you are interested in learning more about the Orthodox Christian Faith, I warmly encourage you to visit  Journey to Orthodoxy, and to find an Orthodox Church near where you live where you can "come and see."

And if you are a Muslim, I implore you to consider honestly what you see going on in the world, the atrocities and crimes committed by your fervent co-religionists, and ask yourself why it is that no other religion commands such hatred, violence and domination towards those not of its creed. I invite you to read my recent post,  Message to Muslims: Time for some Serious Questions, and to visit this special section at Journey to Orthodoxy. Jesus Christ is waiting for you, we are waiting for you, with open arms, hoping you will join us in the True Way, the Life and the Light.

To those of you who disagree with me, or think my tone is too strong or that I go too far, I ask your forgiveness for any offense, but I also ask you to purchase my book, Facing Islam, and read it with an open mind. You will not find any teaching in it which goes against the teachings of the Orthodox Church, as I did not write very much of my own, but presented the Church's teaching as found in the Holy Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers, and the Divine Services.

Lastly, if you find this site at all worthy, I ask you to share it with your friends, send them links to articles that interest you, help spread the word.

Thank you, and may the Lord bless you.

New Martyr Evgeny Rodionov of Chechnya (May 23)

Saint Evgeny, the widely venerated Russian soldier who was beheaded by Chechen Muslims for refusing to remove his cross and deny Jesus Christ, is a real saint for our times. How many would not hesitate to remove their cross in order to save his earthly life? Such a simple thing, such a seemingly small confession of faith which we poor and weak ones take for granted every day, yet this young soldier persevered in faith in spite of horrible tortures, and earned a glorious, heavenly crown.

As Hieromonk Joachim exhorts us at the end of his sermon on St Evgeny (below):
And may we, dear brothers and sisters, learn from Evgeny's constancy, dignity and bravery to face and overcome our own daily temptations to betray Christ. May we bear our cross daily and NEVER, EVER be ashamed to wear our baptismal cross and be ready at all times to defend our holy Orthodox Christian Faith by living a holy life in accordance with the commands of Christ.

* * *

Short Life of New Martyr Evgeny
from Death To The World

When he was 11 years old, Yevgeny Rodionov received from his grandmother a little cross on a chain. He wanted to wear it to school, but his mother, a devout atheist, warned him against it, since the communist authorities frowned on such things. Yevgeny wore it anyway and refused to ever take it off. When Yevgeny grew, up he enlisted as a soldier in the Russian army. When he was 19, he was violently taken hostage by Muslim Chechen rebels. They kept him hanging by his wrists in a basement. He was left days without food and was severely beaten. He did not take off his cross even at the hardest moment of beastly tortures. The Muslims ordered Yevgeny and several other Russian prisoners to deny Christ and convert to Islam. Unlike most of his fellow prisoners, Yevgeny refused to betray his Savior and was beheaded by his torturer, Ruslan Khaikhoroyev, on May 23, 1996. The Muslim executioner told his mother, “Your son had a choice to stay alive. He could have converted to Islam, but he did not agree to take his cross off.” Yevgeny’s mother, Lubov, has been able to recover her son’s body to give him a proper burial. After seeing her son’s boots in a shallow grave full of four dead soldiers, she would not believe it was him until she saw his cross still around his neck. She found his head later. Veneration of this Holy Martyr has been spreading and pilgrims are flocking from miles away to venerate his miracle working relics. An Icon that was made of Yevgeny has begun weeping myrrh. Yevgeny’s father died shortly after the return of his son’s body, not being able to live with the torment of loosing his son. Yevgeny’s mother, who never before set foot in a church, put off the world and is now an Orthodox Christian believer, saved by the example of her son, the Holy Martyr Yevgeny Rodionov.

* * *

Icon of Saint Evgeny the New Martyr
available from Uncut Mountain Supply.

* * *

Saint Evgeny Rodionov the New Martyr of Chechnya

From a post compiling several sources on John Sanidopoulos' Mystagogy blog:

Below is a story of the courage and faith of a young man in Post-Soviet Russia whose memory we celebrate on May 23rd and August 20th.

Evgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov was born thirty minutes after midnight on May 23, 1977 in the village of Satino-Russkoye near Moscow in what was then the Soviet Union. According to his mother, as a boy in this small village, all he really wanted was to be a cook. When he was eleven years old, Evgeny Rodionov received from his grandmother a little Cross on a chain. He wanted to wear it to school, but his mother, then an atheist, warned him against it, since the communist authorities frowned on such things. Evgeny wore it anyway and refused to ever take it off.

In 1995 Evgeny turned eighteen and was drafted into the Russian armed forces as is required for all Russian men. Right before being drafted, Evgeny was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church on his own accord seperate from his parents who were still atheists. For his duty he was chosen to work in a frontier guard unit (something of a mix between the US Border Patrol and the National Guard) and sent for training in the Kalingrad area of what was formerly East Prussia. After training he was sent to the border of Chechnya and posted near the town of Galashki. This was towards the end of the controversial First Chechnyan War. On the night of February 14, 1996, just six months after he started his service, Evgeny and three comrades were captured by a force of Muslim Chechen guerillas who were disguised in an ambulance while the Russian soldiers were manning a checkpoint.

According to a report in Pravda from 2003:

"They [Evgeny and the soldiers with him] patrolled the border between the republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Their control and registration post was located some 200 meters far from the security detachment. The post was just a small cabin, without any light or wire communication. The cabin did not even have a military support, in spite of the fact that it was a single cabin on the mountainous road, which was used for carrying weapons, ammunition, captives, drugs and so on. The border guards stopped an ambulance vehicle to check it. More than ten armed Chechens got out of the vehicle. Needless to mention that it was very easy for them to cope with young inexperienced soldiers. The guys showed as much resistance as they could, but the outcome of the fight was evident before it even started."

Upon capture they were held in the cellar of an abandoned house for 100 days as ransom demands were sent to their families. Kidnapping and demanding ransom was almost a cottage industry in Chechnya during that time period. They kept Evgeny hanging by his wrists in a basement. They starved and beat him. Rodionov's ransom was reported to be 50 million rubles (1.6 million dollars) - at the time an impossible sum. Another report says it may have been in the $10,000 range. Whatever it was, the ransom was not met.

Chechen field commander Rusland Haihoroev (also spelled Khaikhoroyev in some sources) eventually beheaded Evgeny with a rusted saw that took over an hour to complete on May 23, 1996 (his 19th birthday) near the settlement of Bamut. His body, along with four other Russian prisoners were placed in a bomb crater outside the village of Alexeevskaya and covered up with lime and dirt. Haihoroev stated later in an interview that he only killed Rodionov after the soldier denied conversion to Islam and refused to give up his Orthodox Cross, while two others with him had converted to Islam. Russian troops occupied the village where Evgeny was murdered the following day after the execution.