A month in the lives of Christians under Islam.
Pakistan: Sharoon, a Christian boy who achieved academic excellence despite years of entrenched discrimination and bullying—and whose poverty-stricken parents had worked hard to put him in MC Model Boys Government High School—was beaten to death by Muslim pupils. On his first day at the school, the teacher slapped him across the face while blurting an anti-Christian slur. Having set a precedent, the rest of the classroom of Muslim boys continued harassing him throughout that same first day: they too hurled out derogatory terms against Christians, denied him access to drinking water, and told him, “You’re a Christian don’t dare sit with us if you want to live.” According to one report: “His academic prowess … only added to the disdain for him felt by other pupils.” Another report says “there were repeated attempts to convert him to Islam. Sharoon however, never quit his faith to the chagrin of the Muslim children around him, exacerbating his pariah status.” Then, on August 27—his fourth day at the prestigious Model school—Muslim students attacked him in the classroom (the teacher supposedly did not notice as he was reading his paper). “The violence,” continues the report, “was of such sickening ferocity that poor Sharoon died where he was in the classroom.” A cacophony of insults accompanied the beating; he was called a “filthy Christian” and a “demon.” According to the murdered teen’s mother, “My son was a kind-hearted, hard-working and affable boy. He has always been loved by teachers and pupils alike and shared great sorrow that he was being targeted by students at his new school because of his faith. Sharoon and I cried every night as he described the daily torture he was subjected to…. The evil boys that hated my child are now refusing to reveal who else was involved in his murder. Nevertheless one day God will have His judgement.”
Kenya: Islamic militants from Al Shabaab centered in neighboring Somalia beheaded four Christian men in two separate attacks. A total of about 30 heavily-armed assailants surrounded several homes in two different areas; they called victims out by name, before pulling them out and slitting their throats and/or decapitating them. In the previous two months (August and July), Al Shabaab militants slaughtered thirteen other Christians in a similar manner. “The knock at the door confirmed our fears that what happened in nearby Malamande village in 2014 [was] happening again,” recounts one of the slain men’s wives: “We were reluctant to open [the door] and that is when the gang of about 20 broke in and dragged my husband out. I climbed and hid in a space up the roof and I heard everything that was going on. My husband was struggling and screaming for help but the gang overpowered him, slit his throat and chopped off his head. I am very bitter and worried about how I will live without [Gerald]. I treasured him because he loved me and provided everything that I needed. I am still in shock from what I saw that night; blood all over, his body lying lifeless and the head a few meters away. Why did they kill my husband?”
Separately, gunmen opened fire on and killed two police officers guarding a church. Although no one claimed it, the attack bears all the hallmarks of Al Shabaab. After the gunmen encountered police standing guard at the entrance of an Anglican church, they “sprayed the officers with bullets,” says the report, before fleeing on motorbikes. “One officer was shot in the head and died on the spot while the other,” police confirmed, “died in hospital.”
“Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab’s beheadings and attacks against Christians will continue to rise,” says another report, “with the Somali-based militants having an estimated 9,000 jihadis at their disposal.” It quotes the American Center for Law and Justice as saying “[Y]et another radical Islamic jihadist army — just like ISIS, the Islamic State — is ruthlessly murdering Christians, targeting them for their faith. This global and historic persecution continues…. Al-Shabaab’s actions are clearly deadly, demented, disturbing, and disgusting. We must defeat and destroy these Islamic jihadists.”
Nigeria: Muslim Fulani herdsmen, accompanied by known “Islamic extremist militants,” says a report, raided a Christian village and massacred 20 Christians, including a 3-month-old baby and eight other children, as they slept sometime after midnight, Friday September 8. Police, who reportedly treated the incident with some indifference, said it was a “reprisal” attack for the discovery of a decapitated Muslim boy; but dumbfounded Christians argued that the murder happened in another village over a year ago and they had nothing to do with it.
Separately, Cyriacus Onunkwo, a Catholic priest, was abducted by Islamic gunmen on Friday, September 1 and found slaughtered in the bushes on the following day. Nothing was stolen from his car and no ransom was demanded for his release.
Muslim mob uprisings in Jos also left scores of Christians wounded and one dead. On September 15, a mob attacked a vehicle with four Christians who were leaving a weekly prayer meeting at the University of Jos chapel. “Just as I pulled out of the main gate and [was] about to make a left turn,” Professor Timothy Oyetunde recalled, “the mob, from the Muslim-dominated neighborhood opposite the campus, ran across the street, surrounded us and started smashing the van” with clubs, stones and actual weapons. Two of the passengers, including another professor, were stabbed; they all fled the van before the Muslim mob torched it. “In a separate attack,” the report continues, “two university students were attacked in a different Muslim-dominated area of downtown Jos and stabbed. One student died in the hospital while receiving treatment.”
Muslim Rape of Christians
Pakistan: On September 13, a Christian boy (exact age not provided) was misled to an isolated area, beaten, “gang raped,” and ordered to recite the Islamic profession of faith by seven Muslim men. According to the report, “initially they started beating him violently and stripped off his clothes. They sexually assaulted Sher Dil [the youth] and forced him to recite Kalma. Sher Dil was again beaten and fell unconscious, and was taken to a local hospital by the alleged rapists. They warned him of dire consequences if he would disclose the details of the incident to anyone.” Police were “reluctant” to respond and, when pressed to act by the victim’s father, “took sides” with the rapists, notes the report. Last mentioned, the boy is under threat of death from his tormenters for going to the police, even as his father implored the Ministry of Human Rights for aid.
Egypt: An ex-kidnapper explained the process of how Christian girls are targeted for abduction, forced conversions and “marriages” to Muslims. According to the report, the man, known only as “G,” “admits he was in a network actively targeting Coptic girls for years before he left Islam.” Although such networks have been around since the 1970s, they reached their “highest levels now, in the era of President Sisi,” he said. A portion of his testimony follows:
A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls]…. I remember a Coptic Christian girl from a rich, well-known family in Minya. She was kidnapped by five Muslim men. They held her in a house, stripped her and filmed her naked. In the video, one of them also undressed. They threatened to make the video public if the girl wouldn’t marry him…. The kidnappers receive large amounts of money. Police can help them in different ways, and when they do, they might also receive a part of the financial reward the kidnappers are paid by the Islamisation organisations. In some cases, police provide the kidnappers with drugs they seize. The drugs are then given to the girls to weaken their resistance as they put them under pressure. I even know of cases in which police offered helped to beat up the girls to make them recite the Islamic creed. And the value of the reward increases whenever the girl has a position. For example, when she is the daughter of a priest or comes from a well-known family…. The Salafist group I knew rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic. There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly they change their ID…. If all goes to plan, the girls are also forced into marriage with a strict Muslim. Their husbands don’t love them, they just marry her to make her a Muslim. She will be hit and humiliated. And if she tries to escape, or convert back to her original religion, she will be killed.
Muslim Attacks on Apostates to Christianity
Germany: A group of Muslims attacked a 23-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity. He was assaulted because “his attackers saw his Christian cross and were angry he had converted from Islam, says the report. “They asked him why he had changed his religion,” before “one of the attackers tore the chain off him and threw it to the ground.” The report continues:
The unidentified man then punched the Afghan in the face several times. The second attacker then held the Christian by the arms as the first man took out a blade and cut him twice on the upper body with it….. The attack happened less than a mile away from the most notorious radical Islamist mosque in Berlin, the Al-Nur Mosque. An attack of this nature is also not the first to happen this year in Berlin. In August, another man … was attacked by three men of North African appearance who also objected to his cross. The three men brutally beat the 39-year-old and shouted abuse at him. Earlier this year in May …yet another man was attacked for wearing a cross necklace. …The Christian charity Open Doors claim to have recorded thousands of cases of violence and abuse directed towards Christians in Germany. Earlier this year, an Arabic translator working with asylum seekers in Germany said that many of the Muslims in asylum homes express hatred toward Christians. “Pure hatred against non-believers is preached, and children are brought here from an early age here in Germany. It’s very similar in asylum housing, where Muslim boys refuse to play with Christians,” the translator said.
Nigeria: The Muslim family of Bulus, a convert to Christianity, harassed, ostracized, threatened to kill, and finally made false charges against him that landed him in prison—possibly for as much as ten years. Bulus, now 32, converted when he was 25. His family responded by trying to do “whatever they could to make him return to their faith,” says a report. “When Bulus refused, his father threatened to disown him. Bulus lost his inheritance, the support from the extended family circle for everyday life, the protection of the status of the clan and the privilege of an arranged marriage—in other words, and from their perspective, his entire future. When he still refused to change his mind, his family threatened to kill him. That was when Bulus says he knew it was time to go. He fled to Jos, further south, where no-one knew him, and enrolled in theological training.” During his training, “I learned a lot about forgiveness,” says Bulus. “After I graduated I wanted to go home to see if there was any way my parents and I could be reunited.” He instead discovered that “Their hatred had increased, especially when they heard I had become a pastor. Before I could leave, relatives trapped me and started beating me. I thought I was going to die, but they dragged me to the police station and accused me of stealing some of their goats. Despite the fact that there was no proof, the police locked me up. Five days later they took me to court. I did not have the opportunity to defend myself but was kept in prison anyway.” Last reported, Bulus was incarcerated under extremely unhealthy and unhygienic conditions. “He doesn’t know when this ordeal will end,” says the report, “and dares not fuel any expectations of a speedy release.”
Maldives: Although “Christians in the Maldives [already] have few rights,” a September report notes that “the government is increasingly controlling the courts and simply ignoring the law, leaving Christians in an even more vulnerable state…. Despite being a popular tourist destination, the Maldives is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a Christian. The 2008 Maldivian constitution bans Muslims from becoming Christians, which leaves open the question as to whether someone who becomes a Christian could be stripped of their citizenship.” Earlier the government “arrested 50 Maldivians suspected of having become Christians, and is thought to have tortured them. Any Maldivian even found to have a Bible in their house faces a prison sentence.”
Iran: Iranian national media reported that several Christians, almost all of whom are converts, in Tehran, Rey, and Pardis, were arrested after a video surfaced showing dozens of Bibles and other Christian literature, which were also confiscated by authorities. Little other information is provided.
Muslim Attacks on “Blasphemous” Christians
Egypt: In response to an old Facebook post, a Muslim mob attacked Christians in Tawa village and destroyed several homes, buildings, and cars on September 14. Following the slaughter of several Christians traveling to a monastery four months earlier in May, Bassem, a 22-year-old Christian from the village, had written: “Are we [Christian] Egyptians not from Egypt? No matter that you try to hurt us, one day all your ways will fail…. When you demolish the homes of his [Jesus’] children, you attack him. I ask Jesus to touch your heart and change you. Our Lord knows and sees what is happening to us. Continue and increase your terrorism, but I’m not afraid because it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God.” Although he deleted the post one day later, a cached copy was seen by and shared with other Muslims four months later. Deeming it “an insult to Islam … [m]any Muslims gathered and the mob began to attack Christian homes and shops,” notes an eyewitness. “They were pelting stones at the homes while shouting ‘Allah Akbar.’ They hurled bricks and stones at Mar Girgis (St. George) Coptic Orthodox Church…”
Pakistan: On September 14, a court sentenced a Christian man to death for “blasphemy” against the prophet of Islam. Nadeem James, a 27-year-old father of two, was originally arrested in July 2016, after a Muslim angry with him for personal reasons falsely accused (the illiterate) James of texting a poem deemed “blasphemous” of Muhammad. The condemned’s brother explained what next transpired: “We were not at home when the police raided our house to arrest Nadeem. However, when the cops couldn’t find any of us in the premises, they took away two women of the family – my wife and the wife of my elder brother, Faryad.” Around the same time, local mosques began calling on megaphones that if he did not surrender himself, Christian homes would burn. Nadeem surrendered himself and the women were released. “The charge against my brother is completely baseless,” the brother maintains. “Nadeem is uneducated and could not have possibly sent that text message. I’m certain that Yasir Bashir [Muslim accuser] downloaded the supposedly blasphemous text onto Nadeem’s phone and then forwarded it to his cell number to build a case against my brother.” Nadeem’s lawyer said they will challenge the conviction in a high court.
Separately—and despite being “mentally challenged”—a Christian teen accused of blasphemy against Islam had his first court hearing in September. In August, a Muslim man named Muhammed Nawaz had accused Asif Stephen, 16, of stealing at a local bazaar; he beat the boy, and then told the local imam—who, according to the initial report, “has a history of preaching hatred towards minority Christians”—that the youth had also burned a Koran. Muhammad and the imam tracked down the boy and beat him again. When a passerby saw the violence and contacted police, “instead of protecting the teenager from his attackers, [police] arrested and booked him into prison on blasphemy charges.” Hours later, the imam and “a mob of more than 300 Muslim fundamentalists surrounded the prison, calling for a public lynching of Stephen. As the mob overwhelmed local police, Stephen was removed from his cell and handed over to the mob, which consequently beat him until reinforcement officers stepped in to calm the situation. Police then moved Stephen to a higher security district jail where he pleaded guilty to blasphemy in what his family believed was a coerced confession.” His father said that “Muhammed Nawazhas always had a grudge against my son” and “has often threatened Asif and told him that the tomb area is designated for him to collect recyclables as he is a Muslim and Asif is only a worthless and untouchable Christian.”
Indonesia: The world’s largest Muslim nation “made it clear that the country’s dangerously ambiguous blasphemy law is here to stay – which is bad news for beleaguered religious minorities,” Human Rights Watch said after the nation rejected the UN’s stated recommendations that it “introduce legislation to repeal the blasphemy law.” Indonesia further “rejected a recommendation it amend or revoke laws that limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the country,” Human Rights Watch said. Among those recently to suffer from these laws is Ahok, a Christian and former governor of Jakarta, who was sentenced to two years in prison for blaspheming against Islam. “By rejecting pleas from U.N. member states to abolish the blasphemy law,” continued Human Rights Watch, “the Indonesian government is telling the world that it will continue to pander to bigotry and discrimination at the expense of the rights of religious minorities.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Mali: Not only were several Catholic churches “ransacked and torched, forcing parishioners to flee” all throughout September, but “militants told Christians they would be killed if they were seen in church,” says a report. “Our churches and chapels are now being targeted by extremists,” explained a Catholic church leader, “who’ve told Christians not to gather to pray. The authorities are trying to reimpose control, and we may learn more about what kind of strategy is being followed. But we’re also alarmed the attacks are being mounted by isolated Islamist groups, acting in their own name…. On previous occasions, the government has deployed military units in our parishes. But this still hasn’t been done against these new attacks.”
Turkey: Photos taken clandestinely of the largest Armenian cathedral in the Middle East “reveal considerable damage to the sanctuary and walls of the now desecrated church in southeast Turkey,” notes a report. Its crucifix was “defaced,” its windows smashed, and its pews used as firewood; garbage was dumped in its sanctuary. First built in the 1600s, Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic Church is one of six Christian churches in the Sur district to be confiscated by the state. For three years now, Christians—Armenian, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Protestant—have been unable to worship in their churches as authorities placed all Christian property in Diyarbakir on the Turkish cabinet’s expropriation plan. “We have been exposed to ethnic and religious discrimination for years,” said a local pastor.
Malaysia: Police managed to foil an Islamic State terror plot targeting Christian churches and other non-Muslim places of worship after they arrested a 21-year-old Muslim affiliated with the jihadi group. According to the General of Police, the Muslim youth had “received instructions from a Malaysian Daesh (or IS) member in Syria to buy a pistol, a M-16 rifle, an AK-47 rifle and hand grenades from a neighbouring country with the aim of launching attacks on non-Muslims and their places of worship.” Chemicals used to assemble the devices were discovered in his house. Although Malaysia is Muslim majority, sizeable populations of Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus also live there.
Muslim Hate Preaching and General Contempt for Christians
Turkey: A former Muslim woman who converted to Christianity explained how “her opinion of Christians was very low because of the things she and others were taught to believe about Christians in a Muslim society,” says a report. According to the convert, who now lives in the U.S. and goes by the pseudonym Derya Little, “An anti-Christian attitude is a big part of the national identity, so anyone or anything that promotes Christianity is automatically suspicious.” School textbooks taught her that “it was the Christians who wanted to plunder the lands and the riches of the Muslim world” and Turks merely responded by “defend[ing] what was rightfully theirs.” (In reality, modern day Turkey consists of territory that was Christian for more than a thousand years before it was conquered by Turks in the name of jihad.) “Everything is used to make the Christians look like villains,” she said, adding, “It’s the same all through Muslim countries.”
Saudi Arabia: School textbooks continue to promote animosity for, and violence against, non-Muslims. “As early as first grade, students in Saudi schools are being taught hatred toward all those perceived to be of a different faith or school of thought,” said Human Rights Watch. “The lessons in hate are reinforced with each following year,” Textbooks teach that Christians are “kafirs” (or infidels) and that it is the duty of Muslims to disavow them: “For whoever does not or whoever doubts their religious infidelity is himself an unbeliever.” Another textbook teaches that “The hour will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and Muslims will kill the Jews. The Jew will hide under the rock and tree and the rock or tree will say O Muslim, servant of Allah, this Jew is behind me, kill him.”
Iran: The government “ordered children belonging to families of one of the country’s largest house church movements to study the Koran and Shi’a Islam teachings or face expulsion from school,” says a report. This policy “deprives Christian children of primary and secondary education unless they agree to religious instruction that does not conform to their faith.” According to Firouz Khandjani, a Church of Iran council member who lives in hiding, “Right now [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani wants to prove that he is a good Muslim by persecuting Christians…. Most of the new Christians are former Muslims…. The authorities are trying to eradicate Christianity, just as the Islamic State group, but smarter.”
Sudan: “Christian children in Sudan’s refugee camps are not receiving food unless they say Islamic prayers,” says a report. After describing South Sudanese Christian refugees as living “in a terrible situation,” a local source elaborated: “We have heard stories where children are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food. This is not right. These children are Christian. They should be respected for that…. The majority are left in camps, some in a very terrible situation. They are confined in those places. They are not allowed to go further north to the cities.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. 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:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
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.
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