By Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute — June 22, 2015
Note: The following represents some of the persecution Christians experienced at the hands of Muslims during the month of April, 2015 alone. After reading this, ask yourself how Western media, politicians, and other foolish talking heads would react if Muslims experienced the same sort and amount of persecution at the hands of Christians or in Western nations in just one month.
Islamic State Slaughters 30 Christian Ethiopians
Approximately two months after the Islamic State published a video depicting its members slaughtering 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, on Sunday, April 19, the Islamic jihadi organization released another video of more Christians in Libya, approximately 30 Ethiopians—derogatorily referred to by an IS spokesman as “worshippers of the cross”—being butchered for not paying jizya, extortion money demanded of the “People of the Book” who refuse to convert to Islam, according to Koran 9:29.
One group of Christians were shot execution style to the back of their heads, the others had their heads carved off, like the Copts before them.
The IS spokesman further addressed “Christians everywhere”:
We say to Christians everywhere, the Islamic State will expand, with Allah’s permission. 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 [subjugated, third-class treatment and social status] 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.
In a statement, the Coptic Christian Church of Egypt pointed out that the Ethiopian martyrs, like the 21 Copts before them, were “murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith.”
Al Shabaab Murders 147, Separates Muslims from Christians
On April 2 in Kenya, gunmen from the Somali Islamic group, Al Shabaab—“the [Islamic] youth”—stormed Garissa University, singled out Christian students, and murdered them, some beheaded. A total of 147 people were killed in the attack—making this jihad more spectacular than the 2013 Al Shabaab attack on the Nairobi mall, which left 67 people dead (then, Islamic gunmen also singled out Christians for slaughter).
Islamic gunmen were careful to separate Christians from Muslims before beginning the carnage said eyewitnesses. (While Kenya is 83% Christian, it still has an 11% Muslim minority the jihadis are careful not to kill.) Collins Wetangula, vice chairman of the student union, said he could hear from inside his room where he was hiding the gunmen opening doors and inquiring if the people inside were Muslims or Christians: “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”
Al Shabaab has a long history of singling Christians out from among Muslims for slaughter (here are four examples). Other jihadi groups—including Boko Haram and the Islamic State—also make it a point to distinguish between Christians and Muslims before slaughtering the former, a fact often omitted from “mainstream media” reports.
Egyptian Churches under Attack
- On Sunday, April 5, as Coptic Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, a church was attacked in Alexandria, Egypt. Gunmen in a vehicle opened fire on the church during the night injuring a police officer and two civilians.
- On April 12, Easter Sunday according to the Orthodox calendar, two explosions targeting churches took place in Zagazig vicinity. One car explosion took place near a Coptic Orthodox church and another bomb exploded near the Evangelical Church in the same area. Although no casualties were reported, large numbers could have easily resulted, based on precedent. For example, on January 1, 2011, as Egypt’s Christians ushered in the New Year, car bombs went off near the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, resulting in 23 dead worshippers and dozens critically injured.
- Muslims rioted because President Sisi had agreed for Copts to build a church in Al-Our, where 13 of the 21 Christians who were beheaded by the Islamic State grew up and where their families still live. Local Muslims rose in violence soon after Islamic prayers Friday, April 3. They yelled that they would never allow a church to be built, that “Egypt is Islamic!” By night time, Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at another Coptic church, cars were set ablaze—including one belonging to a relative of one of the those decapitated by the Islamic State—and several people were injured.[i]
- A day later, on Saturday, April 4, Muslims rioted and attacked the Christians of the village of Gala’, Samalout district. After waiting for years to repair their dilapidated church (see pictures here) Coptic locals finally received all the proper permits to begin restoration. Soon Coptic homes, businesses, and persons, were attacked including by hurled stones. Christian owned wheat farms were destroyed and their potato crops uprooted. Islamic slogans were constantly yelled, including “There is no god but Allah” and “Islamic! Islamic!”
- After waiting for 44 years, the Christians of Nag Shenouda, in Sohag City, finally got the necessary permit to build a new church. Muslims again rioted and even burned down the tent the Christians had erected to worship under. Denied, the Christians of Nag Shenouda celebrated Easter in the street (picture here). And when one of them tried to hold worship service in his home, he and his household were attacked by a Muslim mob.
More Islamic Attacks on Christian Churches
Syria: The Islamic State destroyed at least three churches under its jurisdiction:
- On Easter Sunday, the Islamic State destroyed the Virgin Mary Church in Tel Nasri, northeast Syria. The Assyrian church was built and consecrated in 1934. Loosely translated as “Christian Hill,” Tel Nasri is an ancient Assyrian Christian village. It is one of the dozens of Christian villages along the Khabur river that were attacked and occupied by the Islamic State in late February (more here and here).
- On April 28, the St. Odisho Assyrian Church in Tel Tal and the St. Rita Tilel Armenian Church in Aleppo, were also destroyed.
Nigeria: A Muslim mob set fire to a church in a Christian village in Nigeria’s northern Kano State on April 1. Muslims were searching for a young man who had renounced Islam and re-converted to Christianity in order to kill him. They also attacked Christian villagers with machetes and torched the home of a pastor, killing one of his daughters. According to General Dikko, a local official,
The church and all the properties were burnt down in the presence of the Christian community despite all pleadings for them to stop the destruction. The arsonists gathered cornstalks and put them inside the church in order to cause greater damage…. We have the right to belong to any religion of our choice and live anywhere in this country. We call on the authorities at all levels to rise up to their responsibilities of protecting lives and properties of every citizen in this country.
Pakistan: Two assailants on motorbikes opened fire on the main gates of a church and Christian school in Lahore. The school had just closed half an hour earlier and several students were present outdoors. Police were present, causing the attackers to ride off. Two passersby were injured in the crossfire.
Malaysia: On Sunday, April 19, a Muslim mob of approximately 50 people rioted and protested against a small Protestant church in Kuala Lumpur, the capital. The object of their wrath was the cross atop the building of worship—which was removed during the Islamic protest. Rioters exclaimed that the cross, the central symbol of Christianity, represented “a challenge to Islam” and could “influence the faith of young people.”
More Muslim Slaughter of Christians
High Seas: On April 16, police in Sicily reported that Muslim migrants hurled as many as 53 Christians overboard during a recent crossing from Libya. The motive was that the victims “professed the Christian faith while the aggressors were Muslim.” Another report said that the reason the Christians were thrown overboard is because a boy was seen praying to the Judeo-Christian God. Muslims commanded him to stop, saying “Here, we only pray to Allah.” Eventually the Muslims “went mad,” in the words of a witness, started screaming “Allahu Akbar!” and began hurling Christians into the sea.[ii]
Nigeria: According to a “U.N. human rights chief … all 276 Christian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 may have been among a group of women slaughtered by Boko Haram last month [March], Nigerian media reported Monday, April 6.”[iii]
Syria: Islamic rebels fired rockets at a Christian neighborhood in Aleppo, the nation’s largest city, on the night of April 10-11. The attack left massive destruction in the eastern section of the Sulaymaniyah district, which is predominantly Assyrian and Armenian. At least 40 people, mostly Assyrians—including women and children—were killed. Shells also targeted an Assyrian Catholic Cathedral, injuring three civilians. “Our Easter feast has turned to grief,” a nun in Aleppo said: “Some people woke up to find themselves without a home and others did not see the life died under the rubble because they were victims of violence.”
Egypt: A Muslim man stabbed a Christian woman with a knife multiple times and then threw her body into a canal. The Coptic woman, Gamila Basilious, was 48-years-old and married, living in Minya. According to police reports, the man, Mahmoud Hassan Abdulhamid, came to her door inquiring about her husband. When he discovered her husband was not present, he took advantage of the situation by attacking her with a knife, with repeated stab wounds found on her neck and chest region. As “infidels,” Coptic Christians are regularly attacked in Egypt, including kidnapping, church attacks, and just random slaughter.
Islamic Attacks on Christian Freedom:
Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytization
Uganda: Five Muslim men gang-raped and beat the teenage daughter of a Christian pastor. This was done in “retaliation” to the pastor’s refusal to stop Christian worship services in a Muslim-majority region. The girl was approaching the New Hope Church building where her father serves as pastor when she was abducted and taken to nearby bushes by the rapists. In the 17-year-old girl’s own words:
The five Muslims took hold of me, and they raped me there. I tried to scream, but they threatened to kill me. One of them said, “Your father should stop this prayer meeting of trying to change Muslims to become Christians and close the church building—we have warned him several times.
The suspects fled when church members arrived for an all-night prayer vigil. They rushed her to a local clinic, where she was treated for serious injuries and mental trauma. According to her father, “The girl still has problems communicating. She just says a few words and then keeps quiet. She needs trauma counseling.” Earlier, the father had received messages threatening him to cease holding Christian worship services. One text message said, “Be you informed that we do not want your church in this area. If you continue worship here, then you will live to regret it.”
Bangladesh: A Muslim mob attacked a former Muslim and his wife for converting to Christianity. The couple was attacked as they were returning home after being baptized. The man was slapped across the face by a Muslim imam in front of his two young children. The Islamic mob further broke the fence of the new Christians’ family home and said they would chase the “apostates” out of the village for leaving Islam. The man who baptized the couple was also attacked and beat by the mob at his home and later lost his job.
Egypt: Gad Yunan, a Coptic Christian teacher, and five of his Coptic students were arrested on the charge of “contempt of religions.” Their crime was to have made a 30-second video on Yunan’s iphone poking fun at the Islamic State—which Egypt’s Muslims and authorities apparently equate with making fun of Islam, even as Muslims in the West insist IS has “nothing to do with Islam.” Yunan was “banished” from his village of al-Nasriya in an effort to appease local Muslims who reacted to the video with violence, including by pelting the homes and businesses of Christians with stones. According to Khamis, Yunan’s brother: “I don’t see any insulting of Islam in the video. They were joking and making fun of Daesh (the Arabic acronym for IS), not Islam. My brother didn’t intend to insult the Islamic religion.” [iv]
Ethiopia: Gemechu Jorgo and Sheikh Amin—two men who were distributing Bibles in Ethiopia’s Melka Belo region—were arrested. Islamic law bans the advertisement and dissemination of any religion other than Islam. While imprisoned, both men endured harassment and physical abuse by authorities. At one point, Jorgo reminded District Administrator Jamal Adam of his constitutional right to practice his Christian faith freely. In response, the Muslim administrator used Jorgo’s Bible to slap him in the face three times. Amin, formerly a Muslim sheikh and prayer leader of a mosque, is a recent convert to Christianity. While in prison, officials persistently pressured the apostate to renounce Christ and return to Islam. He refused. Both men were eventually released. Ethiopia is a Christian-majority nation, though Muslims make for 33%, or one-third of the population.
Uzbekistan: Reports appearing in April told of the harassing, jailing and fining of several Christians for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. One of the prisoners of conscience—Council of Churches Baptist Doniyor Akhmedov—was fined more than three years’ official minimum wage after his release from 15 days in jail. Other prisoners of conscience to be jailed for short periods include a Protestant in Bukhara, who received seven days’ imprisonment for “illegal” religious activity and another Protestant who received 10 days’ jail time for “teaching religion illegally.” Their identities remain anonymous due to fears they might suffer more reprisals. Nine more Protestants were fined for “illegally storing” Christian literature and materials. Their homes were raided earlier by police who confiscated various Christian books and CDs and DVDs. “Religious minorities face tight scrutiny in Uzbekistan as they are unable to openly practice their beliefs without facing major penalties such as jail terms or heavy fines,” reports Forum 18 News.
Generic Violence and Hostility against Christians
France: On April 15, 215 Christian gravestones and crosses in the cemetery of Saint-Roch de Castres (Tarn) were damaged and desecrated (pictures here). The man responsible was later arrested. According to Charlotte Beluet, the prosecutor: “The suspect, arrested at 12:45 on Thursday, matches the description given by a witness, a cemetery employee, who came across the man dressed in a white djellaba [Arab/Muslim garb], and followed him… The man repeats Muslim prayers over and over, he drools and cannot be communicated with: his condition has been declared incompatible with preliminary detention.” He was hospitalized on the assumption that he is “mentally unbalanced.”
Iraq: Right around the same time the “mentally unbalanced” Muslim man was destroying Christian crosses and tombstones in France, the Islamic State published pictures of its members destroying Christian tombstones and crosses in cemeteries under its jurisdiction—including Mosul’s oldest Christian cemetery near the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral—and quoted Islamic scriptures justifying its actions. Several jihadi websites posted these pictures. Some include Islamic State members using sledgehammers to destroy gravestones and efface the crosses carved on them.
Bangladesh: On Easter day, a Catholic Christian village made up of tribal Khasia people was attacked by Muslims. Syed Ara Begum, a Muslim owner of a tea plantation, along with a Muslim mob, attacked the Christian village as its population was celebrating Mass. The plantation owner reportedly seeks to seize the Christians’ land. Hearing the cries of his flock, Fr. James Kiron Rozario ran to the site of the attack. Once there, the crowd of Muslims attacked him with a knife, seriously wounding him and threatening to kill him. The Muslim mob went on to steal items worth almost $4,000. They also destroyed Bibles, crosses, holy pictures, musical instruments and homes—and randomly killed goats and chickens. According to Msgr. Bejoy N. D’Cruze OMI, Bishop of Syleht, “We live in fear…. We want justice and security for our priests and our faithful. We hope that the government will find a peaceful solution and that our people can live free from tensions…. They [Catholic Khasia] are a very peaceful community but often fall victims of the Bengali [Muslim] majority.”
- On the morning of April 17, suspected Islamic gunmen opened fire on St Francis High School, a Catholic school founded in 1842 in Lahore and long considered one of the finest schools in the city. One student and two security guards were injured and taken to hospital. Although the motive behind the attack has yet to be established, Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill said in a statement that this “new attack witnesses the deterioration of the situation of Christians in Pakistan and spreads even more fear.”
- On March 29, Shamim Masih—a Christian reporter exposing Muslim persecution—was attacked in Islamabad by two men on a motorcycle. According to the leader of the Pakistan Christian Congress party, Nazir S Bhatti “The motorbike riders got down from their bike and started beating Shamim Masih…. [They] broke his arm and warned him that if he did not stop reporting on Christian issues, they knew his family and home and would teach him and his family a lesson.” As usual, police failed to register the incident. In the words of Bhatti: “as Shamim Masih is a Christian journalist…the police and administration are not paying any attention or interest to investigate this incident.”
- On April 1, Islamic militants shot and wounded the brother of Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a prominent Christian rights official in Pakistan. This is the latest attack on Gill and his family by Islamic militants angered at him for criticizing the controversial blasphemy laws that are routinely used to attack Pakistan’s Christian minority. The attack occurred in the Kasur District of Punjab province. According to the human rights official, “Pervaiz Gill [his brother] suffered a bullet wound to his lower back, and was rushed to Jinah Hospital in Lahore [city] where it was removed.” However, “the police is not arresting the shooter” who was publicly identified as Muhammad Bilal: “Our life remains under threat if the shooter is not arrested.” Last August, Gill’s home was sprayed with bullets in the night, for the second time.
Syria: Since the city of Idlib fell to Islamic rebels on March 28, Christian inhabitants have been attacked in various ways. A 57-year-old Greek Orthodox priest, Ibrahim Farah, head of the Greek-Orthodox parish dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was kidnapped. Last reported, Farah, who chose to remain in the city and tend to other Christians unable to flee, was awaiting a “trial.”
Encouraging Words, No Actions
Because the Muslim persecution of Christians is growing immensely, more Christian and political leaders are beginning to mention it, though with no commensurate action. During a Mass in April, Pope Francis said that today’s Church is a “Church of martyrs,” adding:
In these days how many Stephens there are in the world! Let us think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya [by the Islamic State]; let’s think of the young boy who was burnt alive by his [see above]; let us think of those migrants thrown from their boat into the open sea by other migrants because they were Christians [see above]; let us think—just the day before yesterday—of those Ethiopians assassinated because they were Christians [see above]… and of many others. Many others of whom we do not even know and who are suffering in jails because they are Christians… The Church today is a Church of martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive the blessing of God for their witness.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia—who once wrote a letter to Barack Obama beseeching the president to reconsider his foreign policies which enable the persecution of Christians in Syria—spoke again of the threat of Christian extinction in the Mideast:
I regularly get reports of horrible crimes that are committed there against Christians, especially in northern Iraq. I have visited those places and I remember that there were many churches and monasteries there. The city of Mosul alone had 45 churches. Now there is not a single one. The buildings have been destroyed. Four hundred churches have been destroyed in Syria… Now Christianity is the most persecuted religion. The same is happening in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Northern Africa.
According to Saudi novelist and writer, Hani Naqshabandi, “Our religious institutions do not give us room to exercise free thought.” By way of example, he pointed out that “They [Saudi institutions] said that the Christian is an infidel, a denizen of hell, an enemy to Allah and Islam. So we said, ‘Allah’s curse on them.’” He also admitted the obvious but little known fact that “Christians are in need of protection … What happened to Christians in Iraq and Syria, and further regions like Algeria, does not receive Arabic media coverage that befits human beings, whatever their religion.”
Even United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, regularly criticized for being too soft on Islamists, said the following remarks during his Easter message:
We have a duty to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world too. It is truly shocking that in 2015 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured, even killed because of their faith. From Egypt to Nigeria, Libya to North Korea. Across the Middle East Christians have been hounded out of their homes, forced to flee from village to village; many of them forced to renounce their faith or brutally murdered. To all those brave Christians in Iraq and Syria who practice their faith or shelter others, we will say, “We stand with you.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
Previous Reports linked here.