by Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, January 18, 2015
Brussels: “Refugees” torch public Christmas tree to cries of “Allahu Akbar.”
On Christmas Day in the West Bank, two Muslims were arrested for setting a Christmas tree on fire in a Christian majority village near Jenin. On the same day in Bethlehem, Muslim rioters greeted the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem with a hail of stones. Authorities subsequently arrested 16 “Salafi radicals” who were planning to carry out terror attacks against tourists celebrating Christmas.
If this was Christmas in Bethlehem—Christ’s birthplace and scene of the Nativity—Christmas in other parts of the world experienced similar and worse abuse, including mass murder, at the hands of Muslims.
In the United States, a 46-year-old Christian mother of three was among the 14 people killed in the San Bernardino terrorist attack targeting a Christmas party. Ironically, Bennetta Bet-Badal had fled Iran to the U.S. at age 18 to escape the persecution of Christians following the 1979 Islamic revolution. Over the course of the next three decades, she graduated college with a degree in chemistry, married and raised three children. But the Islamic jihad finally caught up with her. She was attending a Christmas luncheon and bringing gifts to her co-workers when the Muslim terrorists burst in and massacred them.
Belgium was like Bethlehem: A video appeared showing a number of teenagers lighting a petrol bomb under a Christmas tree in Brussels. Seconds later an explosion can be heard, and the tree is quickly engulfed in flames. As they run away, the teens shout Islam’s war-cry, “Allahu Akbar.” The original uploader, Mohamed Amine, has since taken down his Facebook page.
In Germany, four Eastern Orthodox Christians were accosted in the early morning hours after Christmas Day in Berlin by a man shouting, “I am a Muslim! What are you?” The man and his friends then pounced on and violently beat the Christians.
The few anecdotes of Muslims terrorizing, beating, and even killing Christians on the occasion of Christmas in the West—where Muslims are minorities—were much amplified in Muslim majority nations.
In Syria, the Islamic State “arrested, if not executed, some youth [five] in the city of Raqqa for befriending and greeting Christians on the occasion of Christmas.” ISIS reportedly told the five youth that “they are being detained after an investigation [including through their personal computers] found that they greeted the Christians and wished them a Happy New Year.” When one of the youth tried to exonerate himself, an ISIS member replied: “Shut up! You accompany the Christians—is that not so?” The five youth were then hauled to an unknown location. No information has since surfaced concerning their fate.
Such antipathy for Christmas was not limited to ISIS. The governments of three countries—Somalia, Tajikistan, and Brunei—formally banned Christmas (from celebrating its Gospel message to putting up trees, dressing like Santa Claus, and/or giving gifts). Transgressors can face as much as five years in prison. The Islamic clerics of Brunei summarized the general rationale: “Using religious symbols like crosses, lighting candles, putting up Christmas trees, singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings … are against Islamic faith.”
In Bangladesh, churches skipped traditional Christmas midnight mass services due to the increasing number of threats against and attacks on Christian leaders. Although comprising less than one percent of the Muslim nation, in the weeks before Christmas, over three dozen church leaders received death threats and at least four narrowly escaped attempts on their lives.
Although not canceled, Christmas church services were tense and on high alert in the reportedly most “moderate” Muslim nation, Indonesia. More than 150,000 security personnel and others were deployed to safeguard churches and other places around the country during Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Days earlier, on December 20, police arrested six men who had bomb-making materials and jihadi literature.
On December 25 in Iran, a group of about 10 Christians celebrating Christmas in a house were verbally abused and arrested after plain-clothes government agents raided their private home service. Separately, on December 23, agents beat, handcuffed, and arrested another Christian man during a raid on his home. His books, computer, mobile phone, and even decorated Christmas tree were seized.
On December 24 in the Philippines, Muslim jihadis terrorized the Christian-majority nation after they seized and executed 10 Christians. A military spokesman said the terrorist attack was intentionally launched on Christmas Eve “to make a statement.”
On December 25 in Nigeria, the Islamic group Boko Haram slaughtered 16 Christians, including children. The jihadi group has been bombing churches and massacring Christians on Christmas Day for several years in a row. One of the deadliest occurred in 2011, when the jihadis bombed a Catholic church during Christmas mass, killing 39 and wounding hundreds.
On Christmas Eve in the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 50 people of the Christian majority nation were massacred by the Ugandan-based group, ADF-Nalu, which “has acquired in recent years the characterization of a jihadist movement.”
On Christmas Eve in Iraq, the Islamic State bombed ten Christian homes and a convent in the Assyrian village of Tel Kepe. Several people were injured. On December 30, IS bombed several Christian owned restaurants in Syria, leaving 16 people dead.
If Western leaders and media claim that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, how does one explain away the fact that Muslim governmental officials—not “ISIS”—in nations as diverse Brunei, Somalia, and Tajikistan have openly and formally expressed their hostility for Christmas (and thus Christianity)? How does one explain away the fact that Muslims—not “ISIS”—terrorized and slaughtered Christians on Christmas in nations as diverse as Bangladesh, Belgium, the Congo, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Philippines, Syria, the West Bank, and even the United States?