Muslim Persecution of Christians
by Raymond Ibrahim
The aftermath of collective punishment for Pakistan's Christians—the inevitable byproduct of the notorious Rimsha Masih blasphemy case, concerning a Christian girl falsely accused of desecrating a Quran—was more dramatic than the blasphemy case itself. Indeed, knowing what was in store for them, some Christians even held a symbolic funeral procession, carrying a Christian leader in a coffin and digging a grave for the "deceased."
Their morbid predictions proved too true—especially after another pretext for Muslims to riot emerged: the Youtube Muhammad movie. After Friday prayers, Muslims attacked, killed, and robbed the Christians in their midst, who account for a miniscule 1.5% of Pakistan's population. St. Paul's Church in Mardan was attacked by hundreds of Muslims armed with clubs and sticks. After looting and desecrating it, they set the church on fire (see picture here). Next Muslims raided a nearby church-run school, looting and torching it as well, and burning down a library containing more than 3,000 Christian books. Although the library also contained thousands of books on Islam—making the Muslim mobs' actions blasphemous under Pakistan's law—"the attack continued for more than three hours, with minimal efforts by the authorities to stop it."
Separately, Gunmen on motorbikes dressed in green (Islam's color) opened fire on the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral in Hyderabad, murdering at least 28 people. Their immediate target appears to have been a nun, Mother Christina. Days later, unknown men reportedly threatened workers at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Hyderabad, saying: "We will teach a lesson to the Christians," destroying the hospital's windows and doors. Naeem Samuel, the bishop of Trinity Evangelical Church was assaulted, severely beat, and injured as he exited his church.
Meanwhile, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, far from condemning such outrages, validated them by falsely accusing the Muhammad movie for all the violence—even as they exposed their double standards by refusing to denounce paintings offensive to Christians, such as "Piss Christ." The New York Times also exposed its bias by defending the anti-Christian "Piss Christ" as "art," while condemning the anti-Muslim Muhammad movie as hate-speech.
Categorized by theme, September's batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.
Bahrain: Long considered the most tolerant nation in the Arabian Peninsula, with a 30% non-Muslim population of foreign workers, Bahrain is the latest Muslim nation to showcase intolerance for churches: Sunni clerics strongly opposed the planned construction of a Catholic church, "in a rare open challenge of the country's Sunni king. More than 70 clerics signed a petition last week saying it was forbidden to build churches in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam." One prominent cleric, Sheik Adel Hassan al-Hamad, proclaimed that "anyone who believes that a church is a true place of worship is someone who has broken in their faith in God."
Egypt: Kasr El-Dobara, the largest evangelical church in the Middle East, located in Egypt, was besieged by "unknown people" hurling "stones and gas bombs." The first gas bomb thrown at the church was described as an "error" by police, but it was soon followed by other bomb attacks, which lasted through midnight until early Friday. Worshippers locked themselves inside the church and put on masks to avoid gas poisoning. Some of those trapped inside looked for help by trying to contact politicians, journalists, and even the "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood. All the Brotherhood did was announce on TV that the attackers were not members of the Muslim Brotherhood. After the men conducting the siege finally left, and the trapped Christians finally came out, not a single police or security agent to counter the attacks or protect the church could be found.
Indonesia: The several-year-long campaign against GKI Yasmin Church took another turn for the worse, asauthorities ordered the congregation to relocate—a demand that abrogated a previous agreement which had permitted the church to exist, provided that a mosque would be built next door, and to which the church had agreed. Moreover, a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 ordered the GKI Yasmin's building to be reopened; it had been shut down in 2008 by local Muslims who, along with the mayor, to this day still refuse to comply with Supreme Court ruling. As one church leader said, "The rule of law in Indonesia has collapsed." Since its forced closure, the congregation has been holding services in the street in front of its half-constructed building or in private homes.
Lebanon: Two unknown assailants opened fire on the Saint Joseph Church in the town of Bqosta near Sidon, damaging the building's windows.
Nigeria: A suicide bomb attack on Saint John's Catholic Church claimed three lives including those of a woman and a child; 44 others were seriously injured. Another report describes the typical aftermath of church attacks in Nigeria, citing just one example: "One month after gunmen opened fire inside Deeper Life Bible Church [August 7] … members of the church have yet to resume worship services and other activities. 'All of us are traumatized by this attack. [There is] no family in this church that is not affected by this incident,' said Stephen Imagejor, an assistant pastor whose wife, Ruth, was killed, and their two daughters, Amen, 12, and Juliet, 9, hit by bullets and hospitalized. In all, 19 died. Church members say they were attacked specifically because of their Christian faith. They may have been a target, they say, because some of the dead include former Muslims who had converted to Christianity. And in the aftermath, 'Many are now saying that they can no longer come to the church,' Imagejor said. 'But we will eventually try to see how we can get those of us that have survived the attack to return to the church for worship services. But, I do visit them to encourage them to remain steadfast in the faith in spite of the persecution.'"
Spain: In Catalonia, a Catholic church was attacked by Moroccan Muslims, who, along with two other Moroccan Muslims, have been detained and charged with multiple assaults and robberies, including terrorizing and beating indigenous Spaniards with clubs and robbing them.
Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism
Egypt: The U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a press release saying it had "credible information suggesting terrorist interest in targeting U.S. female missionaries in Egypt. Accordingly, U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance." And an Egyptian court sentenced a Christian teacher to six years in prison after convicting him of blasphemy—specifically "insulting Prophet Muhammad"—and defaming the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt on his Facebook page.
Maldives: Airport customs officials seized 11 books about Christianity from a Bangladeshi expatriate who came to the Maldives via Sri Lanka. Later the same day a Maldivian national was caught with more Christian books, after arriving to the Maldives from Sri Lanka. The pair has been handed over to police. According to the Maldives Religious Unity Regulations, "it is illegal in the Maldives to propagate any faith other than Islam or to engage in any effort to convert anyone to any religion other than Islam. It is also illegal to display in public any symbols or slogans belonging to any religion other than Islam, or creating interest in such articles. It is also illegal in the Maldives to carry or display in public books on religions (other than Islam) and books and writings that promote and propagate other religions…"
Saudi Arabia: The hunt for a 28-year-old Saudi woman, Maryan, who embraced Christianity and fled the country, first gaining sanctuary in a Lebanese church, but then fleeing to Sweden, continues. Earlier the woman had said that, though she "was raised to hate Judaism and Christianity she has come to love those religions since finding peace in Christianity." Two men, a Christian Lebanese and a Muslim Saudi and are accused of proselytizing to her and helping her escape, respectively. Prosecuting lawyer, Humood Al-Khaldi, said that while the penalty in Islam of death for apostasy is clear, "the roles played by the two men, the Saudi and Lebanese, in making the girl become Christian should be taken into consideration," meaning they too must be brought to judgment. Swedish authorities are actually helping to find and extradite the apostate fugitive back to Saudi Arabia to face Sharia justice, including the possibility of execution.
Somalia: Muslims shot three converts to Christianity. The men had converted while in Ethiopia in 2005, but when Muslims began noticing they were not serious about attending mosque prayers, the apostates were attacked by "militants" who burst into their home and opened fire. Similarly, another family that had embraced Christianity fled their village after receiving death threats. Another convert who fled to Kenya said "Pastors and Christians are very afraid. I know people, mainly Christian converts, who had to leave their homes and their families because of pressures from these terrorists." The messages of the Islamists include statements like: "Stop your harmful ideologies and preaching to the Muslims"; "Some Somali Muslims are already affected by this cancer of Christianity… they will be under the sword of the mujahedeen (holy worriers)… We know where you are… We ask Allah to help us make his purpose reign… We are reaching millions of youth to join our jihad against the enemy of Islam and to terrorize by any means we can to make them understand that they are nothing but lowly infidels."
Uzbekistan: A disabled Christian woman, who walks with crutches, and her mother were brutally beaten with sticks in a violent police raid on their home. The officers turned the home upside down, seizing Bibles and other religious literature. At the police station, officers tried to pressure them to accept Islam, saying it was better than Christianity, and that a married man could marry them because Muslim men are allowed to have four wives. When the women refused to comply, the officers beat them again. The court ordered the destruction of the literature.
[General Abuse and Suppression of Non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]
Bangladesh: A new report indicates that some 300 Christian children were recently abducted and forcibly converted to Islam: So-called intermediaries visit poverty-stricken communities where they convince families to send their children to a mission hostel, charging them the equivalent of US$ 500 to 1,200 for school and board. "After pocketing the money, the intermediaries sell the children to Islamic schools elsewhere in the country 'where imams force them to abjure Christianity.'" The children are then instructed in Islam and beaten; after full indoctrination, they are asked if they are "ready to give their lives for Islam," presumably by becoming jihadi suicide-bombers.
Iran: Pastor Behnam Irani, imprisoned for "holding house church services and leading Muslims to Christ," continues to suffer health problems, while receiving no aid: "First, his eyesight is dimming and he has not been given access to a doctor to get prescription lenses. Second, he has a bleeding ulcer in his intestines. This has caused him to have bloody stool, vomiting blood, resulting in unconsciousness at one point. Third, from an accident several years ago, he had metal placed in his knee, and according to a family member it needs to be replaced every so often."
Syria: Christians fleeing to the Lebanese border are still being targeted, kidnapped, and in some cases murdered for ransom money. One report said 280 were held hostage by "armed gangs" taking advantage of the chaos of the war. Some of those kidnapped are later found slaughtered on the road.
Turkmenistan: A new report indicates how "the situation [for Christians] has got markedly worse since July and we don't know why." Among other anecdotes, Christian homes were raided and Bibles confiscated; Christians were threatened for not participating in Muslim prayers; they lost their jobs and businesses; Christian children are being harassed and discriminated against in schools. In one instance, "secret police officers raided a flat where five elderly Christian women had gathered for worship, as was their regular practice. They were so frightened by the incident that they have stopped meeting together."
Uzbekistan: A former Uzbek Muslim who converted to Christianity eventually becoming an active Protestant house church leader, and subsequently persecuted by the state, fled with his family to Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan wants him back to face charges that he practiced religion "outside state regulation." Because of its evangelical nature, Protestantism is banned in Uzbekistan. His case now rests before the country's highest court, which has yet to set a hearing date.
Pakistan continues to show that it is one of the absolute worst nations for Christians and other non-Muslims, requiring its own section for September:
- A 16-year-old Christian girl, Shumaila Masih, was gang-raped for hours by Muslims—joining the countless Christian girls and boys raped and murdered in Pakistan. Three Muslim men met her on the street, persuading her to go with them. She refused and was forcibly abducted and taken to the home of one of the men, who took "turns raping her for hours. The attack took place at 11 am, in broad daylight, but no one intervened to save Shumaila, despite the desperate cries and pleas for help. Around 5 pm, her father and his cousins began searching for her; when they came to the rape-house, they heard her cries and rushed to it: "At the sight of the men, the three young Muslims fled, leaving Shumaila naked and in pain on the bed."
- According to a new report, as many as 2,000 women and girls from various minority sects, especially Christianity, were forcibly converted to Islam through rape, torture and kidnappings, while 161 people were charged with blasphemy in 2011. "The actual number is larger as many cases go unreported… For instance, policemen are involved in more than 60 percent of sexual abuse cases of street children."
- A separate report discussing the murder of a Christian youth by Muslims, notes that "Christians are harassed by criminal gangs and Islamic terrorist groups of ethnic Pashtuns: armed to the teeth, the militants enter the area to collect jizya [extortion money imposed on Christians and Jews, according to Quran 9:29]. Militants raid houses, steal and abuse women and children for fun. The local population is terrorized."
- Another 16-year-old Christian girl, Sumbal, a maid working for Muslims, was "beaten harshly" by the family with "pipes and iron rods … afterwards, she was taken to the washroom and terribly tortured there." When the child's parents learned of the incident, they went to retrieve their daughter but were told by the family that they did not know her whereabouts. According to Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association: "Yet again we have violence against a teenage Christian maid. The fact that the family are refusing her mother access is very disturbing. What are they covering up? Is it the fact that the girl was murdered, as in a recent case where a senior lawyer in the same city tortured to death a young Christian girl servant? Is it to try and concoct a story about her condition, or has she been raped and forced to marry and convert as so many young Christian girls are?"
- Soon after a Muslim opened a madrassa (Islamic school) near where Christians held their tent church worship, Muslims began harassing the Christians, including by spraying bullets on their homes and saying "Convert to Islam or leave this neighborhood"; trying to trick a pastor to admit he proselytizes Muslims; and gathering in front of the church and harassing Christian girls as they exit after services.
About this Series
Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "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:
- Intrinsically, to document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
- Instrumentally, 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; apostasy and blasphemy laws; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (tribute); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed "dhimmis" (barely tolerated citizens); and simple violence and murder. Oftentimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the west, to India in the east, and throughout the West, wherever there are Muslims—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.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.