The Jihad on Nigerian Christians
In what the Christian Association of Nigeria called a “pure genocide,” 238 more Christians were killed and churches desecrated by Muslims throughout the month of June. This brings the death toll of Christians to more than 6,000 between January and June of 2018 alone. According to a joint statement by the Christian Association, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations, “There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage.” In one of the attacks, “over 200 persons were brutally killed and our churches destroyed without any intervention from security agencies in spite of several distress calls made to them.”
The majority of those 6,000 Christians massacred this year were “mostly children, women and the aged… What is happening in … Nigeria is pure genocide and must be stopped immediately.” The details of the murder of these thousands, though seldom reported, are often grisly; many were either hacked to death or beheaded with machetes; others were burned alive (including inside locked churches or homes); and women are often sexually assaulted or raped before being slaughtered.
These nonstop Islamic attacks are causing the Christian population of the West African nation to plummet—to the point of extinction by 2043, warned Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of National Christian Elders Forum. On June 23 he was reported as saying that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.” Accordingly, “the Church has been weakened and unable to stand before its enemies. Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Bosnia: Unknown persons set a Serbian Orthodox church on fire in the overwhelmingly Muslim majority town of Visoko. The arson attack occurred sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 24. According to the report, “a majority of objects inside the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos—including icons and holy books—has been destroyed, along with a portion of the roof… [T]he main part of the altar has also been broken.” That the church had only recently been “repaired over a period of two years” may be significant: According to the Conditions of Omar, which consists of discriminatory stipulations that Christians must adhere to in order to exist under Islamic rule, Christians are required “not to build a church in our city—nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas—and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters.”
Indonesia: Local Muslims forced the closure of another Christian church in Banjarmasin. “Muslims claimed that the approval given to the church by local authorities was not valid and should be cancelled,” says the report. “As a result of the increased tension, the church has had to suspend services, leaving the 100-strong congregation without anywhere to meet.” Indonesian law requires the signatures of at least 60 local, non-Christian—meaning Muslim—households before applications for Christian churches are accepted. Due to such requirements, another church that was established in 1995 in the same city has had to move its meeting location seven times. “Christians comprise at least 15% of the population of Indonesia and, until a generation ago, Christians and Muslims lived peaceably as equals,” says the report. However, Christians are now facing increasing discrimination and violence. There have been a number of attacks on churches, including the triple church suicide bombings carried out by members of the same family on Sunday 13 May 2018.”
Pakistan: After months of local harassment—including being told “to remove every visible sign of Christianity from their church”—Christians were finally ordered to demolish their church because “Muslims are in the majority in the village, [and] we can’t allow a church here,” to quote one local Muslim leader. He said the forty Christian families would need to build a church outside the village. Afterwards, “we will make the Christians write an agreement that they will sell this current church building or at least dismantle the church structure and crosses.” “The church belongs to Full Gospel Assemblies, an evangelical group working in Pakistan, and was built on land belonging to [a] 70-year-old Christian” man who had bequeathed it to the church, says the report. According to Rafaqat Masih, who represents the Christian cause, “The construction began in 2012 and we had been holding worship services since then. But in December 2016 the local Muslims objected over it and filed an application against us in the local police station. At that time, a compromise was reached and we again started holding services. But, again, in December 2017, they submitted an application in the police station, after which we were called in and were told to sign an agreement” halting all use of the building as a church. After Christians were summoned to another meeting on June 2, Masih said “We are being forced to demolish the existing church structure and, in lieu of this, they would let us build a church on a piece of government land outside the village which is already dedicated for a school. They haven’t even given any documentary proof that this piece of land would be transferred to Christians. Then another issue is that we worked for several years to construct this church building. Now who is going to pay for building from scratch?” “Most of the Christians are poor labourers,” adds the report.
Muslim Contempt for and Mistreatment of Christians
Bethlehem: A local man lunged at a Catholic priest with an unidentified object—variously described as a knife, a key, and a blunt object. According to one report, “At Bethlehem’s Milk Grotto, the Rev. Fadi Shallufi on Friday afternoon [June 1] opened the chapel gates to foreign tourists, including women who were being harassed by two men… Chapel security footage shows the Franciscan friar exchanging words with the two men through the bars of the closed gates. One of the men pulls what appears to be knife from his pocket and strikes Shallufi as the Franciscan clergyman backs away, the footage shows.” The priest suffered minor injuries. Palestinian police reportedly detained two men as they take “such incidents seriously as they can harm tourism. About 80 to 85 percent of the West Bank population is Sunni Muslim.” Speaking of this incident, one human rights activist said “While we are grateful that no one was seriously injured during this incident, the reality is that Middle Eastern Christians constantly live in fear of such attacks. Sadly, the escalation of intimidation, harassment, and violence towards Christians is an all too common occurrence during Ramadan.”
Pakistan: A mentally disabled Christian man convicted on blasphemy charges was beaten by Muslim inmates for praying on June 22. Three years earlier, Yaqoob Bashir, 25, was accused by a Muslim cleric of burning pages of a booklet carrying Koran verses. He was arrested and imprisoned. According to a local human rights activist familiar with the case, “Bashir was set to have a hearing in court on June 23 and before appearing, the young Christian wanted to pray at night. However, the prisoners with him did not allow him to pray in front of them. When Bashir continued, four of them got annoyed and beat him very badly. He sustained injuries to his face, eyes, chin, and head.” “It is sad to hear that Christians are not secure even in police custody,” Bishop Samson Shukardin of the Hyderabad Diocese said, “It is the duty of the state to ensure the protection of all citizens. If a young Christian is facing violence and torture in jail, then one can only imagine the new heights of persecution…. At this stage, I am worried for his life. Allowing an attack on a mentally disabled prisoner shows that the prison authorities are not sincerely trying to protect the citizens nor does the government have a clear policy to curb extremist movements.”
Tajikistan: Local Muslims tried to prevent a Christian man from burying the corpse of his wife until he returned to Islam. “When an elderly Christian woman from a Muslim background died last week,” explains the June 20 report, “her husband Mihrab and children—all of them Christians—organised a funeral ceremony and invited people from their church. But Mihrab’s Muslim relatives also invited local Muslims, including a cleric, who demanded that Mihrab convert back to Islam, otherwise he would refuse to hold the ceremony and prevent them from burying the Christian woman in the local cemetery. Mihrab responded that the pastor of her church could hold the ceremony, but the Muslims present vowed that they would not allow the woman’s body to be buried, saying Mihrab and her family were ‘betrayers of Islam.’” After appealing to a local official, the Christian family was eventually given permission to lay their wife and mother to rest. “Burials are one example of the ways in which Christians are put under pressure across Central Asia,” says the report. “The common tradition is for the dead body to return to the village community where the family originated, but converts are seen as bringing shame on the community. As a result, they and their family members, whether or not they have also converted, are often prevented from being buried there.”
Morocco: While deemed significantly less radical than other Muslim nations, Christians in the North African Muslim kingdom are still seen and treated as second-class citizens; any public expression of faith creates difficulties for them. For example, “[b]y law, only foreign Christians are allowed to collectively worship in churches, many set up during the French colonial era, and proselytism is punishable by up to three years in prison,” says a June 8 report. Similarly, two converts to Christianity had to “marry in a small ceremony in a meeting room of a human rights group in the Moroccan capital, ignoring threats from people in their conservative hometown …They are part of a tiny minority who have converted to Christianity and are demanding legal recognition of their marriage. Islam is the religion of state in predominantly Sunni Muslim Morocco where only Muslim and Jewish marriages are deemed legal.” “From now on I have to wear niqab [face veil] if I want to walk in the streets of my hometown,” the new bride said after the ceremony. “We want to be recognized as Moroccan Christian citizens and to enjoy the right to legal marriages and burial ceremonies according to our religion,” said a local human rights representative. Because they refused to get married in a Sharia setting, another Christian couple said “We are running the risk of being accused of fornication punishable under the penal code,” as their Christian marriage remains unacknowledged. “We suffer from discrimination by authorities which do not recognize us as Moroccan Christians coupled with social pressure and harassment because of our choice of faith.” The number of Christians in Morocco is believed to be around 50,000, though there are no official statistics.
Muslim Abuse of Christians in Egypt
After Christians objected that a group of Muslim men were swimming completely nude in front of their homes—while Christian women were sitting outside—“[a] Muslim mob gathered around the homes of Christians across the canal and began pelting them with bricks and stones, while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ [Allah is greater] and chanting slogans against Copts,” local resident Nashaat Ezzat said. “They broke the windows and doors of some houses, looted and destroyed some properties.” Six Christians were injured and required stitches in their heads. Police arrived three hours later and arrested seven Christians and two Muslims. According to the report, “Local Christians said the police arrested them in order to pressure the Christian community to reconcile with their Muslim attackers in exchange for the release of the detained Copts.” They were all released five days later.
Although Christians are not legally required to observe Ramadan, including by fasting during the day, one Christian was arrested and two Christians beaten for failing to observe the Muslim holiday. When Hani George, 31, arrived at the Giza rail station, a police officer asked for his ID. Once the officer realized that Hani was Christian he began searching through his bag: “There was a bottle of water inside my bag and, while he was searching it, he was staring at this bottle with anger,” George said. “He took my ID from me and asked me to follow him. When I resisted and asked where he was taking me, he started insulting me and ordered that I stopped talking — as if I was a criminal.” At the police station, “The officer told me, ‘Why did you have this bottle of water while we are in Ramadan?’ I told them I was not fasting because I was a Christian, but they insulted me and said that I would stay there until sunset and that I was not allowed to sit…. I was held at the police station for more than two hours and was dealt with in a very humiliating way for having done nothing. When I am at work, I don’t eat or drink in front of my Muslim colleagues, as a sign of respect,” he added.
Separately, on 6 June, farmer Adel Ayoub, 52, was drinking water outside when he was approached by a group of young men. “They asked me, ‘Why are you breaking Ramadan fasting?’ I told them I was a Christian. As soon as they heard the word ‘Christian,’ they attacked and beat me with their hands until I almost fainted.”
In another incident that occurred on June 1, a Christian bus driver was beaten for drinking tea. While waiting at a bus stop, an eyewitness saw a group of men attack a bus and smash its windows. “I approached the microbus and found out that the driver was attacked because he was drinking a cup of tea inside and also because he was a Christian. There was a tattoo of a cross on his right wrist,” he added. According to the report, “The Egyptian Fatwa House, an Islamic research centre presided over by the government, declared in 2016 that eating or drinking during the fasting hours of Ramadan ‘is not part of the personal freedom of people,’ but rather an aggression against Islam.”
Finally, discussing what it calls “a spike in kidnappings and disappearances of Christian women and girls in rural areas of Egypt and some cities,” a June 13 report explained that there is “a trafficking strategy that targets Coptic Christian young ladies and forces them to convert to Islam then sell them into either into domestic care in other international locations or into the sex trade.” This is “a tactic to demoralize the women and to humiliate the Christian community…. “[T]here were seven kidnappings of Coptic Christian women in the month of April [alone] and an eighth one on May 2…. One of the girls who was kidnapped, Mirna Malak Shenouda, a 16-year-old Coptic Christian girl, escaped her kidnappers… [S]he was kidnapped by two women and a man in Aswan. She had been knocked out but awoke on a train. At one of the stops, she jumped off and called her parents. However, Shenouda’s escape and rescue are rare.” Christian families complain that police often do nothing.
In one instance, “after the family reported to the police, they returned to the station for updates and the police stated the woman had come into the station, said she was not missing and had willingly converted to Islam. The family says they do not believe she would ever willingly convert to a different religion as she loves God. However, the local police will not investigate this case or similar cases any further.”
Western Enablers of Islamic Supremacism against Christians
Iraq: A Christian community leader lamented that “the Pope’s [Francis] repeated emphasis on a greater tolerance for and understanding of Islam has left the deeply persecuted Chaldean minority [Iraqi Christians] feeling insecure and vulnerable,” says a report. In an interview, Aziz Emmanuel al-Zebari, 68, a Chaldean political candidate and professor at the Catholic University of Erbil, said, “We have actually been weakened by the stance taken by the Vatican. The Vatican is teaching the community to be submissive. That won’t help us get our rights.” Zebari referred to the Pope’s approach as “naïve and short-sighted… There can’t [be] dialogue when one party is down and the other party has the upper hand…. There is no equal ground here.” Iraq’s Chaldeans, he said, “have paid a high price for being Christian, and we cannot prevail without protection. When I am displaced, when my family is threatened with sexual violence and I’m then told just to pray and be tolerant… We don’t expect any support from the Vatican. We are in a hopeless situation.”
United Kingdom: “Just one in 400 Syrian refugees given asylum in the UK last year were Christians despite them being subjected to ‘horrendous persecution,’” a June 23 report found. “The number of Christians granted asylum by Britain has slumped considerably since 2016, when 1.5 per cent were Christians.” Critics of these statistics argue that, because Christians amount to 10 percent of Syria’s population, so 10 percent of Syrian refugees should be Christian. Yet if anything, “Last year that percentage dropped to just 0.23—amounting to 11 of the 4,832 Syrians who were resettled in the UK.” The overwhelming majority of those nearly 5,000 refugees are Sunni Muslim, the one sect not targeted by the Islamic State, which itself is Sunni.
Canada: During a parliament session, MP Garnett Genius asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he would, as other heads of nations had done, acknowledge that the Islamic State was persecuting Christians. Trudeau did not give a clear answer. As Genius explained in a later Facebook post,
Today in Question Period I asked the Prime Minister to acknowledge the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and to recognize that Christians were victims of genocide at the hands of Daesh/ISIS. The Prime Minister did not answer the question at all, and would not even use the word “Christian” in his response. The government’s response to minority persecution around the world has been underwhelming, but on issues impacting Christians in particular, they have steadfastly refused to engage at all.
Similarly, Andrew Scheer, another Canadian MP, said “Justin Trudeau’s failure to stand up against the persecution of Christians and other minorities around the world is completely unacceptable.” Discussing this incident, one report notes that “When it comes to criticism of radical islamism, Justin Trudeau immediately denounces it as ‘islamophobia,’ seeking to shut down any discussion whatsoever. But when it comes to persecution against other faiths, particularly Christianity, Trudeau is silent.”
Austria: “Catholic children forced to learn Islamic songs at [an] Austrian elementary school,” is the title of a June 20 report. “At an elementary school in Linz, Catholic children have to memorise and recite Islamic songs as part of the Islamic Ramadan festival. They were forced to take part and were punished if they refused.” After picking up her young son from school, one Catholic mother was shocked to hear him loudly chanting “Allah, Allah.” He told her that for two months the entire class had been compelled to sing songs about Islam, or else risk punishment. “It felt like a slap in my face!” explained the mother. According to the report, “The Islamic religious teacher came to the children in the class and ordered the students to learn the appropriate Ramadan songs, because the whole class must celebrate this festival.”
Such “Islam first” incidents have been growing around Austrian schools. An elementary school teacher from Vienna said earlier that it is becoming impossible to integrate Muslim children. “Sharia law is superior for many of my students,” she warned. “Music and dance are rejected on religious grounds. Also discussions and fights take place with increasing frequency along religious lines…. Many schools are getting more and more out of control” and “the problems in the classrooms are almost impossible to solve anymore.”
Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim