Written by Raymond Ibrahim
"We shall come for you…you are polluting our religion." — Note apparently from al-Shebaab, Somalia
"It seems great crackdowns on churches and extraordinary waves of arrest of Iranian pastors and Christian converts have not been effective." — Mohabat News, Iran
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 spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
There, al-Qaeda-linked jihadis fired mortars and missiles into 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 that, 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, released two who identified themselves as Muslims, and bludgeoned to death the third after he identified himself a Christian (graphic image). They also destroyed, among other churches, the Antiochian Orthodox church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus.
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 on them al-Qaeda's Islamic flags. They also set the contents of the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of Martyrs aflame. In one video, a Muslim "freedom fighter" smashes a statue of Virgin Mary to shouts of Islam's war-cry cry, "Allahu Akbar!" ["Allah is Greater!"]
These latest attacks come in the context of yet another fatwa that appeared 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 that the rebels often shout Islam's supremacist war-cry, Allahu Akbar (such as when firing at Chrisitan churches), U.S. Senator 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 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was also asked in September about the jihadi and al-Qaeda elements of the Syrian rebels, he 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:
In Peshawar, Pakistan, Islamic suicide bombers, in attack claimed by the Taliban, entered the All Saints Church compound after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of roughly 550 congregants. They killed nearly 90 worshippers—including Sunday school children, women, and choir members—and injured at least another 120. The now-destroyed Protestant church was built in Peshawar over 130 years ago. According to Margrette, a parishioner who survived (although her sister's status is unknown), "I heard two explosions. People started to run. Human remains were strewn all over the church."
Libya: A group of Muslims surrounded two Egyptian Christians aged 25 and 27, who lived in Libya, and robbed and beat them. The Muslims then demanded that the two men recite the shehada—"There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger"—and convert to Islam. When the two Christians refused, they were tied up, severely beaten, and then shot. Both men died; one with his skull beaten in. No one has been arrested in connection with these killings. The attack marks the third time in two weeks that a Coptic Christian has been robbed and killed in the Derna District.
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 a 58-year-old Christian man, Boota Masih, and then proceeded to stab his body while 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, envious business competitors.)
Somalia: The Islamic al-Shabaab group killed a 35-year-old Christian woman inside 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, who had secretly converted to Christianity, believe their son was kidnapped in an effort to find them and other Christians.
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, to put a check to the growth of Christianity among Afghans, both within and without the country. His exact words were: "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. This included organizing meetings aimed at debating how and why Iranian youths are converting, often secretly, to Christianity. Mohabat News reported that 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." This new public campaign comes at a time when at least 13 Christians had been detained, several beaten and threatened if they refused to recant their 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.
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, and stole, among other items, money, a computer, a camera, and a 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. Her critics said, among other complaints, that 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, including forced prostitution, suffered by the nation's indigenous Christian minority.
Philippines: Security forces placed Zamboanga City, a large, predominantly Christian, port city in the Philippines, in lockdown 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 be holding 170 hostages from the city, a largely Christian community that's nestled among a sea of Muslim villages."
Sudan: Agenzia Fides reported 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, "[T]his 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," reported 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. "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 often seems to fail to report.
2) To suggest that such persecution is not "random" but systematic.
These accounts span different ethnicities, languages, and locations.
Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Media Fellow of the Hoover Institution, 2013