by Raymond Ibrahim // Gatestone Institute
The same month that Obama tried to wage war on behalf of the jihadi rebels in Syria (citing “human rights” concerns), some of the war’s worst atrocities were committed against that nation’s Christian minority, most notably in Ma‘loula, an ancient Christian region where the inhabitants still spoke the language of Jesus.
There, among other things, the al-Qaeda-linked jihadis fired mortars and missiles onto at least two ancient churches before looting them; some 80 Christians trying to defend their homes were killed. Others who could not flee were forced on pain of death to convert to Islam.
One man’s last words before being slaughtered by the rebels were: “I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me for this, I do not object to it.” A nun involved with humanitarian relief said the man “Is a Martyr in Christ in the full sense of this word, since he was murdered solely because of religious hatred!”
The Christian Post reports:
Jihadists reportedly forced one man to convert to Islam at gunpoint and slit the throat of another Christian woman’s fiancé and then [mockingly] told her, “Jesus didn’t come to save him.”…. “I saw people wearing Al-Nusra headbands who started shooting at crosses,” the Christian senior told the AFP. One of the shooters, he said, “put a pistol to the head of my neighbor and forced him to convert to Islam by obliging him to repeat ‘there is no God but God’ [Islamic shehada]…Afterwards they joked, ‘he’s one of ours now.’”
In al-Thawrah, Syria, Christians were also singled out for attack by jihadi invaders. In one incident, they stopped three residents, releasing two who identified themselves as Muslims, while bludgeoning to death the third after identifying himself a Christian (graphic image). They also destroyed the Antiochian Orthodox church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus among other churches.
In Raqqah, a city in northern Syria, the al-Qaeda linked “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” broke the crosses off the area’s two Christian churches and placed al-Qaeda’s Islamic flags. They also set the contents of the churches—the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of Martyrs—aflame. In one video, a Muslim “freedom fighter” smashed a statue of Virgin Mary to shouts of Islam’s victory cry, “Allahu Akbar!”
These latest attacks come in the context of yet another fatwa appearing in September and issued by 36 Islamic scholars who legitimized “the right of the faithful Sunni Muslims to seize and take possession of goods, homes, property belonging to Christians, Druze and Alawite and members of other religious minorities ‘who do not profess the Sunni religion of the Prophet.’” (Earlier, before the “sex jihad” solved the problem by luring Muslim women from Tunisia and elsewhere to provide their sexual services to jihadis in Syria fighting to make Allah’s word supreme, another fatwa permitted jihadis to rape all non-Sunni women.)
Meanwhile, when publicly asked about the jihadi nature of the rebellion and the fact that the rebels often shout Islam’s supremacist war-cry, Allahu Akbar (such as when firing at Chrisitan churches), John McCain insisted that shouting “Allahu Akbar” is equivalent to a Christian saying “Thank God,” and that the rebels in Syria are “moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates.”
Similarly, when John Kerry was also asked in September about the jihadi and al-Qaeda elements of the Syrian rebels, the U.S. Secretary of State argued that “The opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation … more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution”—an assertion that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin openly to call Kerry a liar.
The rest of September’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:
Pakistan Church Attack
In Peshawar, Pakistan, Islamic suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church compound right after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of some 550 congregants, killing nearly 90 worshippers—including Sunday school children, women, and choir members—and injuring at least another 120. The now destroyed Protestant church was built in Peshawar some 130 years ago. The Taliban claimed the attacks. According to Margrette, a parishioner who survived (though her sister’s status was unknown), “I heard two explosions. People started to run. Human remains were strewn all over the church.”
Coptic ‘Dhimmitude’ in Egypt
- After the ousting of President Morsi, when the Muslim Brotherhood incited its supporters to attack and destroy over 80 Christian churches, Brotherhood supporters began to extort money from Christians in Upper Egypt. In Dalga village, the 15,000 Christian Copts were forced to pay this jizya—the money, or tribute, that conquered non-Muslims historically had to pay to their Islamic overlords “with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued” to safeguard their existence, in the words of Koran 9:29. In some cases, those not able to pay were attacked, their wives and children beaten and/or kidnapped. Some Copts were killed for refusing to pay. Later, authorities identified a gang specializing in overseeing operations to kidnap wealthy Copts in order to earn money.
- While being driven in his car, Bishop Anba Makarios of Minya came under a hail of bullets from several unidentified persons. The driver managed to get away, taking the bishop to the home of a local Copt for refuge, but the gunmen followed, surrounded the house and shot at it for over 90 minutes, when local security finally responded. The reason for this assassination attempt was that local Muslims thought the bishop had come to reopen St. Michael’s Church, the only church in the village, which was closed 10 years ago for security reasons.
- After Muslims in al-Minya district accused a young man of having an illicit relationship with a Muslim woman, violence, in the context of “collective punishment,” erupted against the village’s Christians. After attacking and plundering the home of the Christian, Muslims, incited by loud-speaker calling them to further action, prowled the streets of the village throwing stones at Coptic homes, calling for revenge, and demanding the burning of their churches, homes, and shops.
Slaughter of Christians
Libya: A group of Muslims surrounded two Egyptian Christians living in Libya, aged 25 and 27, robbed and beat them. Then the Muslims demanded that the two men recite the shehada—“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”—and convert to Islam. When the two Christians refused, they were tied up, severely beaten, and then shot. Both men died; one had his skull beaten in. No one has been arrested in connection with the killings. The attack marks the third time in two weeks that a Coptic Christian has been robbed and killed in Derna District.
- Outside the city of Jos, five Christians, members of the Church of Christ in Nations, traveling in a minibus, were forced out of their vehicle by Islamic gunmen, and, after they declared themselves Christians, were forced to lie down in a ditch and shot in the heads. Two others, including a pregnant woman, were wounded.
- In Adu, while Christians were preparing for Sunday morning church services at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, Islamic tribesmen invaded the Christian villageand slaughtered all whom they could find, killing seven members of just one family.
- In Zangang village, Muslim herdsmen slaughtered 15 Christians.
- In Dorawa, Islamic militants killed a Christian pastor, his son, and 28 others, and torched their church.
Pakistan: While holding a dagger and shouting that he was killing “an infidel who blasphemed against Muhammad,” a Muslim in Karachi slit the throat of Boota Masih, a 58-year-old Christian man, and then proceeded to stab his body, as police and others looked on. In the words of Masih’s son, George: “We were told that Asif kept shouting that my father was an infidel and had spoken derogatory words against Muhammad [Islam’s prophet] as he mercilessly stabbed him. A large number of people, including four policemen and private security guards of the market, witnessed the entire scene, but no one tried to stop the killer, who walked away waving the dagger in his hand.” According to those close to the slain Christian, his slayer, a business competitor, was jealous of the Christian, and fabricated the blasphemy accuse as a pretext. (Earlier in Pakistan, another Christian man was slaughtered by a group of axe-wielding and envious business competitors.)
Somalia: The Islamic al-Shabaab group killed a 35-year-old Christian womaninside her home. Earlier her husband had found a note saying, “We shall come for you. You are friends with our enemies [Westerners, assumed to be Christians], and you are polluting our religion.” The man fled the area with his 4-year-old child. Separately, al-Shabaab kidnapped a 13-year-old Christian boy as he was returning home from school. His parents had secretly converted to Christianity and believe their son was kidnapped in an effort to find them and other Christians.
Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism
Afghanistan: A member of Afghanistan’s Parliament, Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, suggested that all Afghans who have converted to Christianity should be executed, according to Islamic law, in order to put a check to the growth of Christianity among Afghans, both within and without the country. His exact words: “Afghani citizens continue to convert to Christianity in India. Numerous Afghanis have become Christians in India. This is an offense to Islamic Laws and according to the Quran they need to be executed.”
Iran: The Islamic republic launched a public campaign dedicated to halting the spread of Christianity among Iranians, including by organizing meetings aimed at debating how and why especially Iranian youth are converting, often secretly, to Christianity. Mohabat News reported the government campaign involved meetings aimed at “distorting” public opinion: “It seems great crackdowns on churches and extraordinary waves of arrest of Iranian pastors and Christian converts have not been effective.” In fact, this move comes at a time when at least 13 Christians were detained in the past few weeks, including several beaten and threatened to recant Christianity.
Morocco: In a courtroom hearing, Mohamed el-Baldi, a Muslim convert to Christianity, was fined and jailed for “shaking the faith of Muslims.” Preaching Christianity is prohibited under article 220 of the Moroccan penal code. Apparently to make an example of him, although the maximum sentence is six months’ imprisonment, el-Baldi was sentenced to two-and-a-half years. During the hearing, his mother “implored Allah to exact revenge on whoever tampered with her son’s mind,” causing him to convert to and preach Christianity.
[Contempt for and Dehumanization of “Infidels”]
Central African Republic: Heavily armed Islamic rebels from the Seleka organization, reportedly from Sudan, attacked the mission of Our Lady of Fatima in Bouar, assaulting, gagging, and taking hostage an Italian missionary and a deacon. They also plundered the premises stealing among other things money, a computer, camera, and mobile phone.
Indonesia: Islamists in Jakarta demanded the removal of a new political appointee in West Java because she, Susan Jasmine Zulkifli, is a Christian. Among other complaints, her critics said she would not be able to participate in Muslim religious ceremonies and that she should be transferred to a Christian region.
Iraq: The Assyria Council of Europe and the Assyria Foundation released their 2013 Human Rights Report on Assyrians in Iraq, detailing the persecution suffered by the nation’s indigenous Christian minority, including things like forced prostitution.
Philippines: Security forces placed Zamboanga City, a large predominantly Christian port city in the Philippines, in lockdown mode while they pursued a Muslim rebel group accused of launching an air-and-sea strike against the region. According to the Washington Times, “The Muslim group is still believed to beholding 170 hostages from the city, a largely Christian community that’s nestled among a sea of Muslim villages.”
Sudan: Agenzia Fides reports that “There are increasing acts of intimidation against priests and missionaries on behalf of the authorities of Sudan…. In particular, in September four priests were summoned several times by the security services (Sudan National Security Intelligence Agency) in order to be questioned.” After describing one incident, the report concludes, “this episode is just one example of intimidation carried out by the Sudanese authorities against the Catholic Church. Recently, in fact, some church centers were closed, several priests and foreign missionaries were forced to leave the country… There are fears now that the future of the Catholic Church in Sudan is at risk.”
Zanzibar (Tanzania): Catholic priest Joseph Anselmo Mwagambwa survived an acid attack in the same area where two other priests were shot by al-Qaeda linked Muslims, “in what was seen as a wider crackdown on devoted Christians… One priest was wounded last year and the other killed in February,” reports BosNewsLife.
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching pandemic proportions. 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:
- To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
- To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death those who “offend” Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India 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.