Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Timothy R. Furnish: Beheading in the Name of Islam

My friend — and fearless scholar of Islam, Mahdism, and Islamic eschatology — Tim Furnish, wrote this article over a decade ago, before the rise of ISIS and some of the more attention grabbing Islamic beheadings of recent years. In the article, Dr. Furnish sheds light on the bloody penchant for beheadings embedded in Islam's DNA. This helps to explain why the Islamic State Caliphate and other devout Muslim groups and "known wolves" are so intent to"strike the necks" of their victims.

Beheading in the Name of Islam
by Timothy R. Furnish, Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2005, pp 51-57

Timothy R. Furnish holds a PhD in Islamic History and is an author, analyst, and consultant to the US military who specializes in transnational Islamic movements, eschatology and Mahdism. His website is www.mahdiwatch.org.

An ISIS jihadi joyfully displaying his victim's head, July 2014.

Images of masked terrorists standing behind Western hostages in Iraq and Saudi Arabia have become all too common on Arabic satellite stations such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Manar. Islamist websites such as Muntadiyat al-Mahdi[1] go further, streaming video of their murder.

The February 2002 decapitation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, true to its intention, horrified the Western audience. Chechen rebels, egged on by Islamist benefactors, had adopted the practice four years earlier,[2] but the absence of widely broadcast videos limited the psychological impact of hostage decapitation. The Pearl murder and video catalyzed the resurgence of this historical Islamic practice. In Iraq, terrorists filmed the beheadings of Americans Nicholas Berg, Jack Hensley, and Eugene Armstrong. Other victims include Turks, an Egyptian, a Korean, Bulgarians, a British businessman, and a Nepalese. Scores of Iraqis, both Kurds and Arabs, have also fallen victim to Islamist terrorists' knives. The new fad in terrorist brutality has extended to Saudi Arabia where Islamist terrorists murdered American businessman Paul Johnson, whose head was later discovered in a freezer in an Al-Qaeda hideout. A variation upon this theme would be the practice of Islamists slitting the throats of those opponents they label infidels. This is what happened to Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, first gunned down and then mutilated on an Amsterdam street,[3] and to an Egyptian Coptic family in New Jersey after the father had angered Islamists with Internet chat room criticisms of Islam.[4]

The purpose of terrorism is to strike fear into the hearts of opponents in order to win political concession. As the shock value wears off and the Western world becomes immunized to any particular tactic, terrorists develop new ones in order to maximize shock and the press reaction upon which they thrive. In the 1970s and 1980s, terrorists hijacked airliners to win headlines. In the 1980s and 1990s, the car bomb became more popular; Palestinian terrorists perfected suicide bombings in the 1990s. But what once garnered days of commentary now generates only hours. Decapitation has become the latest fashion. In many ways, it sends terrorism back to the future. Unlike hijackings and car bombs, ritual beheading has a long precedent in Islamic theology and history.

Monday, August 29, 2016

St John the Baptist - Forerunner of those 'beheaded for their witness to Jesus Christ'

The prophetic significance of Muslim beheadings of Christians.

The Beheading of St John the Forerunner, commemorated August 29 in the Orthodox Church.

[Originally posted August 31, 2014]

John the Baptist’s rich and descriptive title in the Orthodox Church is, “The Holy, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John.” He is much more than “John the Baptist.”  He is a sign, a mystery

As “The Forerunner” he is a clear sign of the First Coming of Christ, but also of the Second Coming; he is a mystery of the fulfillment of this age, and of its trials and woes.

Jesus Himself called John “the greatest born of woman” and “more than a prophet.” The Church considers him to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets, just as the Virgin Mary  — the Mother of God — is the fulfillment of righteousness through the Old Testament lineage in preparation for the Messiah. 

As the Messiah Himself spoke to the crowds after John’s disciples came and saw the signs He was doing:
Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John… “What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: 
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ [Malachi 3:1]
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”  (Matthew 11:7-12)

John is the Forerunner of Christ, fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah coming to restore all things:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord…(Malachi 4:5-6)
“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”  (Matthew 11:13-15)

John the Forerunner was beheaded “for righteousness sake,” for warning and calling the corrupt and dissipated King Herod to repentance. Yet this is not some dark and dire event, but a radiant, joyous, shining witness (Greek: martyria) for us to emulate.

St. Justin Popovich teaches that St. John "had become the first of all the Holy Martyrs of the New Testament":

See how he suffered for God's truth in this world! He suffered joyously! In today's principal hymn and prayer to him it is said that he went to his death rejoicing, and that he suffered rejoicing[See John 3:29.]  Thus he became the first example and inspiration to all the Holy Martyrs in the New Testament, beginning with St. Stephen the Protomartyr and through today. 
All of the Holy Martyrs go to their death rejoicing...

As the first one beheaded for righteousness sake — that is, for his witness to Christ, for Christ is our righteousness — John is shown to be the Forerunner of the last great wave of martyrs for Jesus:
“Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God…” (Apocalypse 20:4)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Athens allows first mosque in 180 years

"The first official mosque is to be erected in the Greek capital, Athens, ending an almost two-century ban on building a Muslim worship place by the government."
"I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war." - Psalm 120:7

It remains to be seen what new demands and pressures will be exerted by Islamic supremacists following this historic capitulation by the Greek government, let alone the ever-present threat of Muslim terrorist attacks experienced throughout the Balkans, Europe, Russia... everywhere.

Athens allows first mosque in 180 years
Pravmir, August 22, 2016:

Photo: An annex of the Museum of Greek Folk Art, the Tzistarakis Mosque in the center of Athens, in use until the end of Ottoman rule in 1832.

This month, the government passed a bill to accelerate 10-year-old plans to build a mosque in the Athens neighbourhood of Votanikos.

No new mosque has been built in Athens since the Ottoman Empire’s rule ended over Greece in 1829.

Islam was the official religion of the old Ottoman Empire and up to one million Muslims are still believed to be living in Greece.

In Athens alone, approximately 200,000 Muslims are using an estimated 100 informal mosques, mostly in garages or converted basements, for prayer and other forms of worship.

With the recent arrival of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa this number has risen even further, intensifying the need for more mosques.

Athens is currently the only EU capital without one but that is now set to change.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Raymond Ibrahim: 'Can Quranism Save Islam?'

"Even if every single Muslim was to reject the Hadith and other “secondary books,” that wouldn’t change the fact that the Quran is saturated with violent and intolerant teachings that need little supplementation from secondary literature."

by Raymond Ibrahim, PJ MediaAugust 15, 2016:

Huffington Post recently published an article titled “The Source of Muslim Extremism” authored by Mike Ghouse (described as “a speaker, thinker, and a writer” who “offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day”).  He argues that all violence and intolerance committed “in the name of Islam is coming from a single source; the secondary books. The Quran is the only authentic book and we cannot go wrong with it.  Until we reject those other books, we don’t have a prayer.”

Among these “secondary books” Ghouse identifies the Hadith, which contains the words and deeds of Islam’s prophet Muhammad:  “As a first step towards fixing our problems, we need to rehabilitate the Hadith.”  By this he means that any hadith not “compatible with the statements that God is just and the Prophet is a mercy to the mankind” are to be expunged.

“Let’s stick to the Quran, we simply cannot go wrong,” concludes Ghouse.

What to make of this argument?

First, it should be noted that it is not original to Ghouse; this position belongs to a small sect of reformist/heretical (depending on who you ask) Muslims known as “Quranists.” Their movement, Quranism, goes back decades with echoes even earlier.  It holds “the Qur’an to be the only authentic source of Islamic faith. Quranists generally reject, therefore, the religious authority and authenticity of hadith, Sunnah, and reject traditional Sharia Law, with the assertion that they are false attributes to the Islamic Prophet Muhammed. This is in contrast to the Sunni, Shia and Ibadi doctrines, which consider hadith necessary for Islamic faith.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

Islam and the Rewriting of Biblical History and Theology

"Is the Qur'an and the Bible telling the same story? Or has the Qur'an deliberately undermined the biblical story by removing the promise of the coming Savior, the Fall, the atonement, and God's redemptive work through Jesus Christ?"

by Tony Costa, Answering Muslims, August 8, 2016:

The novelist George Orwell once remarked that, "The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history." History is a collection and a record of the past. But if what if someone does not like a piece of history and wants to turn back time and change it? Since no one can go back in time and change the past as we see in science fiction movies and novels, one way is to rewrite the history of the past and with enough persistence people will believe the new version.

It has been done in the past. Adolf Hitler was able with enough rhetoric and repetition to convince many Germans that the Jews were responsible for all the world's ills. Hitler even created a school of his own academics who aimed to remove any and all Jewish elements from the Bible and Christianity. Some even advocated the view that Jesus was not a Jew, but rather an Aryan, the people group Hitler taught the German people were descended from. The apostle Paul was a Jew, but the Nazis taught that he had subverted the teachings of Jesus, much like many Muslim apologists claim today about Paul. Jesus, they taught, was an Aryan who sought and struggled to destroy Judaism and the Jews, but in the Nazi revised narrative, the Jews killed Jesus. Germans were now called upon to take up the cause of Jesus the Aryan and to carry on his fight and struggle by eliminating the Jews. For more on this see a summary of the book The Aryan Jesus by Susannah Heschel by going here.

This exercise in rewriting and revising history is very similar to the second century heretic Marcion who also wanted to eradicate the human and Jewish Jesus in place of a purely spiritual Jesus who had no body. Marcion did this by getting rid of the Old Testament, but he did't stop there. In his new version of the New Testament he kept only the gospel of Luke but not before removing the first two chapters because they were too "Jewish" and began his version of Luke with chapter 3. He also kept Paul's thirteen letters because he thought Paul was anti-Jewish which of course he was not as he was a Jew himself. Marcion discarded all the other New Testament books. The Church of course remained steadfast and maintained all of the inspired books in the canon including the Old Testament.

"The Qur'an rewrites and sabotages the biblical story... to show that Islam has been the religion of God from the beginning and that all the prophets were Muslims."

Now what does this all have to do with Islam? Quite a bit. When someone reads the Qur'an they are struck by the fact that many of the stories seem at first to resemble the biblical stories (the Flood, the exodus from Egypt, etc) but upon closer inspection we quickly see that the stories are quite different in many respects. They seem to be copied from other sources like the apocryphal gospels, the Jewish Talmud and Mishnah, Zoroastrian writings, etc. Certainly, if the author(s) of the Qur'an knew the Bible how could he / they have recorded all these stories incorrectly? First of all it seems clear that there was no Arabic Bible in Muhammad's day and he had no access to such a Bible. Even if he was illiterate which some scholars dispute, would he not have been able to remember these biblical stories if they were dictated orally?

When we look at the Qur'an as a whole, what we discover is that there is a carefully planned plot from the very beginning. The Qur'an rewrites the biblical story and actually sabotages it. For what purpose? To show that Islam has been the religion of God from the beginning and that all the prophets were Muslims.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Turkish Authorities Ban Christian Liturgy in Panagia Sumela Monastery

The doors of the Sumela Monastery reopened in June 2010, after 88 years. The Turkish government had given permission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to have a patriarchal liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption every year. That permission has been suddenly revoked.

That the Greek Orthodox need special permission to celebrate divine services in any of their churches in what is now Turkey is a dark reminder of Islamic oppression of Eastern Christians from the mid-7th century, and especially from 1453 through the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.

From my article, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Assassination Plot in Historical Context:

Ever since the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim armies in 1453, Christians in what is now Turkey have been reduced to second-class citizens (and persecuted nearly to extinction) through the institution of the dhimma, the contract of protection which subjugates Christians to Muslim rule under humiliating, demeaning terms. 
Under the dhimma, Christians have to pay the exorbitant jizya tax, cannot build new churches, cannot repair existing ones, cannot share their faith outside their church buildings, cannot convert Muslims, etc. One aspect of the dhimma most terrifying is the concept of "collective punishment." If one Christian violates the dhimma contract, Muslims may attack any or all Christians...
Important to keep in mind is the role played not only by the faithful Patriarch Martyrs, but by other clergy and even monastics in the eventual liberation of Greece... Eventually, the Serbs and Bulgarians threw off the Muslim yoke as well. 
It was this series of humiliating defeats during the nineteenth century, and losses in the Balkan Wars of the early twentieth century, which enraged the Turkish Muslims, who turned on the weakest elements of their Christian population, precipitating their infamous genocide against the Christians of Armenia, Greece, Pontus, and Syria, massacring over 3.6 million men, women and children (some dying from starvation, disease and the forced deportations) from 1894 to 1922. 
Sporadic persecutions against remaining Christians extended well into the 1950s, perhaps the worst example being the Istanbul Pogroms of 1955, which dealt a crushing blow to the Orthodox Christian community in Turkey. 
The Greek population of Turkey had already been reduced to about 120,000 in 1927 (following the main period of the Orthodox Christian Genocide); by 1978 it had collapsed to only 7,000. According to the Human Rights Watch, by 2006 there were only 2500 Greeks in Turkey.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Muslims screaming 'Allahu akbar!' through bullhorn terrorize Orthodox Church during Divine Liturgy

St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, California was openly, publicly threatened with an Islamic jihad terrorist attack by a group of three men in a drive-by incident this past April. 

Although multiple congregants heard the Arabic phrase "Allahu akbar" screamed at them, the official police report included no mention of it.

The priest at St Andew's, Fr. Josiah Trenham, is also the founder and principal behind the outstanding Orthodox Christian audio-video publishing company, Patristic Nectar. In late 2015, he gave an outstanding 2-part talk on Islam and Christianity titled The Cross and the Crescent.  In mid-2014, Fr. Josiah gave a talk at St Barbara Monastery in Santa Paula CA, Sharia Law in America - an Orthodox Christian Perspective.

In short, when it comes to Islam and Orthodoxy, Fr. Josiah is "on the map". Like few other Orthodox Christian priests in the United States,  Fr. Josiah has shown great bravery in openly teaching about Islam, coupled with a sincere evangelical love for Muslims, suggesting that we welcome Muslims to our communities with a copy of the New Testament! That is a warm, missions-minded touch that I think New Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev would strongly endorse.

If St Andrew's Church was targeted because of Fr Josiah's talks on Islam, that would be in full accordance with Sharia Law, the Dhimma Contract and the Pact of Omar, which forbid Christians and other infidels from teaching about Islam. Further, the Koran explicitly commands Muslims to terrorize and intimidate infidels who refuse to accept Islam:

“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may strike terror in the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know, whom Allah knows” (Koran 8:60)

Although the incident happened four months ago, it is apparently only now being reported via this well researched story by Hollie McKay at Fox News.

Pray for God's protection of Fr. Josiah Trenham and the parishioners of St Andrew's Orthodox Church, and that perhaps some Muslims may be awakened by this, and be led to saving faith in Jesus Christ!

Churches take new security measures in face of terror threats
by Hollie McKay, Fox News, August 9, 2016:

As Father Josiah Trenham prepared to read the Gospel, several parishioners discreetly scooped up their babies, retreated up the aisles of St. Andrew Orthodox Church and out into the spring air, so as not to allow the crying of little ones to disturb the divine liturgy.

The time-honored tradition was shattered when a car passed by the Riverside, Calif., church, slowing down as the front passenger leaned out of his window and bellowed menacingly through a bullhorn, according to witnesses.

“Allahu Akbar!” the unidentified man repeated several times as the unnerved parents drew their infants close and exchanged worried glances.

Witnesses were able to give Riverside police a description of the green Honda Civic, but not of the three occupants. Some told police they believed one or more of the men may have been taking photographs, according to Officer Ryan Railsback. 

"The situation remains 'tense and tenuous', and the church now has security officers on hand for all regular services."

Although Trenham insisted multiple congregants heard the Arabic phrase, Railsback noted no mention of it was in the police report.

[This is an ominous omission by the police. It means, in effect, that the authorities are not taking the Muslim jihad threat seriously, and are not going to be responsive to the church's need for safety in the face of a possibly immanent Islamic terrorist attack. God forgive the clueless police and all those hamstrung by political correctness.]

Whatever the case, no law was broken – even if an unmistakable message was sent and received.

“Be calm and to keep a special vigilance over the property and our children while we are at church,” Trenham wrote in an email to parishioners in which he recounted the disturbing event. “Pray that these provocative young men might repent of their intimidation and be saved.”

Trenham told FoxNews.com last week the situation remains “tense and tenuous,” and said the church now has security officers on hand for all regular services.

“It is a deep sorrow to live this way in the ‘new America,’” he said.

The incident took place on April 12, some four months after a terror attack left 14 dead in nearby San Bernardino, and just over three months before a French priest was killed by ISIS-linked jihadists in his church. The events, whether far or near, underscore a grim new reality for pastors such as Trenham: Instead of offering sanctuary from evil, churches could in fact be attractive targets for terror….

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The 'Same God' Belief: a Fatal Heresy and a Theological Trojan Horse

Time again for an extended refutation of the "Same God" position.

The “Same God” belief is a "Theological Trojan Horse" for Christians, as it contains within it the seeds of apostasy, and predisposes its adherents to deny Jesus Christ.

I recently enjoyed a correspondence with a fellow who goes by the name of Giorgio, and who is quite a thoughtful theological writer. He asks:

Dear Zosimas, I was reading your blog and noticed in your featured post, you refer to the “Same God Heresy” – I assume by this you mean “Muslims and Christians worship the same God” is heretical. I was surprised to see this, since this seems contrary to what our saints have taught and also to reason (not that there is a difference, since the saints were very reasonable people). 
I argue this here, if you care to look... I would be interested in hearing your opinion about it. Sincerely, Giorgio

A couple of excerpts from Giorgio's article (do read the entire piece for his closely reasoned argument):

...whoever does not know God’s essence cannot love God, and it is clear that whoever does not love God cannot worship Him. But whoever does know God’s essence can, to at least a certain extent, love God and in this way be said to worship Him. 
By essence we mean that which makes God, God. But God is not God in virtue of being triune, or in virtue of being omnipotent, but by the fact that there is no distinction between His existence and His essence. For this reason, when Moses asks God who He is, God responds by saying: I am The One Who Is (Exodus 3:14, LXX). 
This is not to say that God being triune, His omnipotence, or His holiness are mere accidents, but rather properties which flow from His essence without being included in it, as St. John Damascene says in the fourth chapter of his exposition on the Orthodox faith: 
"All that we can affirm concerning God does not show forth God’s nature, but only the qualities of His nature. For when you speak of Him as good, and just, and wise, and so forth, you do not tell God’s nature but only the qualities of His nature. "
Now since Muslims generally acknowledge that God is He Who Is, they therefore grasp His essence and so can be said to know Him and worship Him. 
Like Muslims, the pagans were unaware of the Trinity, yet St. Paul did not say [in Acts 17:22-23] they worshipped a different God, but rather applauded them for worshipping God to the best of their abilities. The Apostle writes elsewhere: 
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made "(Romans 1:20). 
Here he clearly states that one may attain knowledge of God without revelation – therefore Muslims can be said to have some knowledge of God and worship Him. This is also clear from what St. John Damascene writes about knowledge of God’s existence and essence in the beginning of his exposition on the Orthodox faith, especially when he says in the eighth chapter that: We believe, then, in One God … believed in and ministered to by all rational creation.

First of all, it is not clear that in Islam there is any sense of "loving" God, hence some of the terminology used is wholly inappropriate to an honest discussion of Islam and Allah. In Islam, Allah is classically presented as being so "other", so utterly transcendent and beyond, that he is ultimately beyond the grasp of humans to know him, let alone love him. Islam calls man to be slaves of Allah, not to love him.

Secondly, there is no consistent, universal teaching of the saints in the Orthodox Church on the god of Islam being the same as the True God who sent His Only Begotten Son into the world for our salvation. In fact, a few quick quotes makes clear that several great Fathers of the Church seem to repudiate the "Same God" position:

"It is true that Muhammad started from the east and came to the west, as the sun travels from east to west. Nevertheless he came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that are not from the good God but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil." St. Gregory Palamas (14th c.)

"...the vengeful and God-hating Saracens, the abomination of desolation clearly foretold to us by the prophets, overrun the places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, overturn the sacred monasteries... Moreover, they are raised up more and more against us and increase their blasphemy of Christ and the church, and utter wicked blasphemies against God." ~ St. Sophronius of Jerusalem

St John of Damascus writes very strongly against Islam and Muhammad at the start of his section on the new religion in his Fount of Knowledge, which leaves it open to debate as to whether or not he would agree with my description of the Same God position as a heresy. Indeed, in our time, it may need to be defined in Council as a heresy, due to the danger it poses to the faithful who carelessly adhere to it.:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Raymond Ibrahim: 'On Islamic Violence: Forget the Koran, Look to History'

"Regardless of what the Koran and other Islamic scriptures really 'mean', for roughly one millennium... Muslims waged unrelenting war on the West. And they did and continue doing so in the name of Islam."

by Raymond Ibrahim, August 4, 2016:

The debate around Muslim violence all too often centers around doctrine—around what the Koran and Hadith (words and deeds of Muhammad) really mean and say. Forgotten in this debate is that Islamic scriptures are unnecessary in determining whether Islam teaches violence and war against non-Muslims.

History suffices.

Consider some facts, attested to by both Muslim and non-Muslim primary historic sources: A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the jihad burst out of Arabia.  In just a few decades, Muslims had permanently conquered what was then two-thirds of the Christian world.  The heart of the Muslim world today—nations like Egypt, Syria, all of North Africa, Turkey and more—were, in the 7th century, the heart of Christendom.

Thereafter it was a continuous war on Christian Europe.  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Raymond Ibrahim: ‘Mere Islam’ and the Munich Massacre

"Mere Islam—to borrow from C.S. Lewis’ famous book [Mere Christianity] is responsible for the ongoing terrorization of the West... Muslims of all sects, races, and sociopolitical circumstances are responsible for persecuting Christians in 41 of the 50 worst nations to be Christian in... The common denominator in all these nations is ISLAM—without qualifier."

by Raymond Ibrahim, July 24, 2016:

A German-born 18-year-old of Iranian descent named Ali Sonboly went on a shooting spree last Friday.  He reportedly targeted young children and murdered nine.

This incident is a reminder that the ongoing terrorization of the West is not limited to the Islamic State (ISIS), “extreme” Wahhabi or Salafi interpretations of Islam, or terrorists posing as refugees entering the West.

Ali Sonboly was none of those.  He was born and raised in Germany and, based on his name and Iranian heritage, was most likely of Shia background.

But he was a Muslim.  He screamed Islam’s ancient war cry “Allahu Akbar” during his rampage and, less significantly, launched his attack on the one day of the week that many calculated Islamic attacks on non-Muslims occur: Friday.[1]

And that is the grand lesson of the Munich massacre.  Mere Islam — to borrow from C.S. Lewis’ famous book about the many commonalities shared by most Christian denominations — is responsible for the ongoing terrorization of the West.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

William Kilpatrick: 'Blind Violence and Blind Guides'

"The bishops are not guilty of [Islamic jihad] atrocities. But they are guilty of grossly misunderstanding Islam and the threat it poses... They need to seriously consider whether Jesus’ warning about blind guides might apply to some of them. Their hearts, we must assume, are in the right place, but their heads are in the sand."

by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine, July 18, 2016:

(Photo credit: Sasha Goldsmith via AP)

“Pope Francis condemns more ‘blind violence’ after Nice attack,” reads a headline from a Catholic news agency.

On behalf of the Holy Father, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram to the Bishop of Nice expressing the Pope’s sorrow:

As France was celebrating her national holiday, the country was again struck by blind violence, this time in Nice, claiming many victims, including children. Once again condemning such acts, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.

With all due respect to the Pope and his Vatican advisers, it is they who are blind. They have shut their eyes to the role that Islam plays in motivating terrorist attacks like the one in Nice that left 84 dead and over 200 injured.

Monday, August 1, 2016

‘Worthless Christians’ Treated ‘Like Animals’: Muslim Persecution of Christians: April 2016

"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."

by Raymond Ibrahim, July 20, 2016:

The following anecdotes of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world occurred or were reported in April. They are categorized by theme, or familiar patterns:

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

United States: A pro-ISIS group calling itself the United Cyber Caliphate defaced the website of the Christian Reformed Church in the city of Lamont, Michigan. A 15-year-old teenage girl discovered the website’s defacement—which consisted of a YouTube ISIS propaganda video and Arabic text—while searching for the church’s phone number. The video’s spokesman says, “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses and enslave your women by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us, He is glorified and He does not fail in His promise.”

Ethiopia: Rioting Muslims accusing Christians of converting Muslims rampaged throughout the East Shewa Zone.  They burned down 14 churches—belonging to Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant denominations—and left more than 2,000 Christians without worship venues.  One church cemetery was also vandalized.  A church leader said: “We have been worshipping outside and sitting on the bare ground bearing the hot sun.  We appeal to our brothers elsewhere to come and assist us. The attackers poured petrol and were chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [Allah is greater] before setting the church building on fire.”  Ethiopia is roughly 60 percent Christian and 34 percent Muslim.

Uganda: Around midnight on April 12, an angry Muslim mob demolished a Christian church.  They were heard chanting: “We cannot live together with neighbors who are infidels. We have to fight for the cause of Allah.”  The church’s 450 members were left without shelter during the rainy season. Musical instruments, more than 500 plastic chairs and other property were also destroyed. Two days earlier, a group of Muslims shouting “Allah only is to be worshipped, and Muhammad is his prophet” slaughtered a church leader’s pigs, a key source of income.  He had previously received a text saying, “Let this be known to your church members that pigs are extremely unholy and an abomination before Allah, very outrageous and shameful.  They are haram [forbidden] and unlawful as our holy Quran does prohibit them.”  Muslims also sent a text message to a church member– “We are soon coming for the heads of your pigs” – before killing eight of his swine.

Iraq: The Islamic State blew up Mosul’s iconic Clock Church, famed for its soaring clock tower, with explosives. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, “Militants cordoned off areas surrounding the church and looted the building for profitable artifacts and antiquities before destroying the remaining parts with explosives…. The Clock Church … became a target of ISIS attacks last year, when its cross was removed.” Although Mosul was once home to about 45 churches, most have either been destroyed or converted into courts or jailhouses since the Islamic State took over in June 2014.

Indonesia: An Islamist group vandalized a new church in Bekasi and demanded that the local mayor cancel its permit. The Santa Clara Church had received its permit in July 2015 and opened this year on March 7. The Islamic Forum Community and other Muslim leaders accused church leaders of acquiring the permit through false means. The mayor of Bekasi denied the allegation and refused to annul the church’s permit. He said it had fulfilled all the legal requirements necessary for construction. “Despite this,” explained the Asian Human Rights Commission, “law enforcement agencies have failed to protect the Santa Clara Church congregants; in fact, it seems the agencies have no will or policy to enforce the law against vigilantes. As a result, the church congregation lives under pressure and intimidation.” The rights group further called upon the local police to “take a strong stance” against the Islamic Forum Community and “ensure that the government guarantees protection to the Santa Clara congregation to practice their religion.”

Algeria: “Churches in Algeria are facing intimidation and harassment, despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of worship in the country,” noted World Watch Monitor on April 29. That week, authorities claimed that a church in the Kabylie region was ordered to cease all religious activities on the grounds that it was violating a 2006 law that regulated non-Muslim worship. Authorities threatened to commence legal proceedings against the church if Christian worship continued there. Last February, authorities issued a notice to the church in the town of Aït Djima, also in Kabylie, citing the same law. Critics say the 2006 law, which is aimed at regulating all religious worship except Islamic worship, is used as a tool of persecution by the authorities. According to Rev. Haddad, pastor of a Protestant church in the city of Algiers: “It is an unjust law against Christians, who were denied their right to worship and the opportunity to share the Gospel freely…. the situation of Christians in Algeria will not improve until the outright law, which is no longer justified, is repealed.”

Turkey: Six churches were seized by the government in April. After ten months of conflict in the nation’s southeast, the government expropriated huge sections of property in the region’s largest city, Diyarbakir. “But to the dismay of the city’s handful of Christian congregations,” notes a World Watch Monitor report, “this includes all its Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches. Unlike the state-funded mosques, Turkey’s ancient church buildings – some of which pre-date Islam – have been managed, historically, by church foundations. The new decision has effectively made the Diyarbakir churches – one 1,700 years old, another built only in 2003 – state property of Turkey, an Islamic country of 75 million.” Few Christian houses of worship remain in Turkey’s southeast. Although it is the ancestral homeland of Syrians and Armenians, well over a million of these ethnic Christians were massacred and sent on death marches during the final years of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century.

Palestinian Territories: In Gaza City, authorities demolished a recently discovered, 1,800-year-old Christian church and its treasured artifacts, despite attempts by Palestinian Christians to save them. Protests failed to win the attention of the international community, including United Nations agencies such as UNESCO, whose mission is to secure the world’s cultural and natural heritage. The ancient church was found in an area where Hamas is planning to build a shopping mall. “The dramatic discovery of the antiquities did not seem to leave an impression on the construction workers, who removed artifacts and continued with their work at the site… Bulldozers were used to destroy some of the church artifacts — a devastation that drew sharp criticism from Palestinian Christians, some of whom rushed to accuse both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) of copying ISIS tactics in demolishing historic sites,” notes the report. “For Palestinian Christians, the destruction of the church… ruins is yet a further attempt by Palestinian Muslim leaders to efface both Christian history and signs of any Christian presence in the Palestinian territories.”

Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Nigeria: Muslim Fulani herdsmen slaughtered approximately 40 people in a Christian majority village and burned Christ Holy Church International to the ground. Ten homes were razed by arson, cars and motorcycles were destroyed, and animals randomly killed. From his hospital bed a survivor said, “I was coming out from the house when I heard the community bell ringing. I was going with a friend to know what the bell was all about, only to see about 40 Fulani herdsmen armed with sophisticated guns and machetes. They pursued us, killed my friend and shot at me several times but missed. They caught up with me and used machetes on me until I lost consciousness.”

Pakistan: After a Christian man warned local Muslim drug dealers to “stop recruiting young Christians to participate in the sale and consumption of drugs,” two men assaulted him while he was working in the field and “sliced open his throat.” According to local pastor Alfred Azam, “This is not the first incident of persecution of Christians in our village, local Muslims are always creating problems for our Christian community. Before and after our church services Muslim drug dealers swarm around our church trying to sell drugs to our vulnerable youth…” Azam explained that drug pushers regularly beat young Christians and force them to take drugs to try to get them addicted. “When our older men tell these criminals to leave our young people alone they get killed.” As usual, police officials “refused to register a report for the crime or take any action whatsoever.”