Grim Outlook for Christians In the Muslim World

 

The walls are closing in on the Middle East’s Christians. This needs to be talked about, and quickly, too. We might not be at liberty to do so indefinitely.

The Stonegate Institute (formerly the Hudson) just published an article listing recent instances of violence against Christians in Muslim-dominated countries. You have read of the persecution of Christians in Egypt and might also be familiar with the doings of  jihadist militant group Boko Haram, which has been slaughtering Christians in Nigeria for years, culminating most recently in the church bombings on Christmas Day that killed forty people, most of them “dying on the steps of a Catholic church after celebrating Christmas mass:”

In just the last couple of months, Boko Haram has carried out attacks on dozens of other churches, bombing some, torching others. In one instance, they opened fire on a congregation of mostly women and children, killing dozens; they executed two children of an ex-terrorist because he converted to Christianity; they murdered Christian pastors in cold blood; they “went to shops owned by Christians, ordering them to recite verses from the Quran,” killing those who could not.

Just last month, hundreds of armed Muslims from Boko Haram invaded Christian villages, “like a swarm of bees,” killing, looting, and destroying. At the end of their four-hour rampage, at least 130 Christians were killed. Forty-five other Christians in another village were slaughtered by another set of “Allahu Akbar!” screaming Muslims. Hundreds of Christians are missing; thousands have fled the region.

This carnage is an extreme example of an ongoing persecution of Christians that has taken many forms and is becoming increasingly brazen. Here’s a brief roundup of anti-Christian activity, from the alarming to the appalling, across the Muslim world, as catalogued by Stonegate:

  • Indonesia: A few days before Christmas, a statue of the Virgin Mary was decapitated and the cross stolen, an act said to have deeply affected the Catholic community. An extremist group has been attempting to have churches destroyed on the grounds that they do not have the right permits; Christians in one such church were forced to observe Christmas in a private home after Islamists gathered at the church and “threatened to challenge the sermon”.
  • Iran: Local churches were ordered by State Security to “cancel Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as a show of compliance.” One church dared to celebrate Christmas and was raided, with all those present, including children, arrested and interrogated. The whereabouts of the reverend and his wife are now unknown.
  • Malaysia: Parish priests and church youth group leaders were required to get permission from the police — involving the submission of names and identity card numbers — to visit fellow church members during the holiday. Also, data has begun to be collected about Muslim converts to Christianity.
  • Ethiopia: Hundreds of Muslims burned down a church on November 29, again on the pretext that it did not have a proper permit.
  • Nigeria: In the weeks prior to the Christmas bombings noted above, five churches were destroyed and several Christians killed during a systematic rampage. “The Muslims…[went] round town pointing out church buildings and shops owned by Christians to members of Boko Haram, and they in turn bombed these churches and shops.”
  • Turkey: A plot by al-Qaeda to bomb “all the churches in Ankara,” as well as the Turkish Parliament and the US Embassy, was foiled. 
  • Algeria: A Muslim convert to Christianity was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of insulting Muhammad.
  • Pakistan: The Muslim family of a man who converted to Christianity publicly disowned him, then filed a police complaint against him as an apostate deserving death. In another instance, a Muslim landlord accused a Christian tenant with whom he was having a rent-related dispute of desecrating the Koran. The Christian was arrested and charged with blasphemy, which in Pakistan can carry a sentence of life imprisonment.
  • Kashmir: Christians imprisoned for blasphemy are being tortured.
  • Kenya: A young Somali Christian was beaten unconscious by seven Somali Muslims, six weeks after the same thing was done to his brother.
  • Iraq: Muslims engaged in a series of attacks on Christian-owned businesses in the north following a Friday sermon by a local mullah. Soon thereafter, Muslims shot and killed a Christian couple and injured their children.
  • Phillipines: A 71-year-old pastor was shot and killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle. Also, the female pastor of a Pentecostsal church was hacked to death in front of her daughter.
  • Uganda: Muslims threw acid on a church leader on Christmas Eve after a revival, blinding him in one eye and threatening his sight in the other.

The article also notes dhimmi behavior of Christians in the Western world (dhimmis are non-Muslims living under Muslim authority and treated as second-class citizens), including a Christmas service at the University of London featuring readings from the Koran.

The invaluable Lee Smith has an article in Tablet in which he analyzes the precarious state of affairs for Christians in Lebanon. At the end of the piece (which I encourage you to read in its entirety, for its insights into the self-defeating strategic alliances into which the Lebanese Christian community continues to enter), he makes this point:

Those inclined to discount the possibility of a Christian-free Middle East would do well to remember that Jews, in the recent past, had a significant place in the Ottoman Empire and Iran. Were it not for the birth of a sovereign Jewish state that took in Jewish refugees thrown out by countries that turned against them, this regional minority might well have disappeared half a century ago. Without an Israel of their own, if the Christians don’t get it right their era in the Middle East may be coming to an end.

There are 25 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno

    And yet an American President will be taken to task by the Press if he dares say the word “crusade” when talking about the war on terror, as happened to George Bush.

    I wish your post were front page news.

    • #1
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    @Anon

    When you get right down to it, the Islam we have lately become familiar with cherishes darkness and shuns the light of art and science. The actions of its terrorists, and the absence of contrary views within, make it appear to be a religion so insubstantial on its merits and so vulnerable to reasonable doubt, that the only way to sustain it is not to proselytize but to threaten, bully and destroy non-believers; those who do not share the delusion.

    Of course, I’m open to antithetical views…

    • #2
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    @Kervinlee

    Why is this not front-page news? We all know the answer.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @StuartCreque

    Even more recently in Nigeria than the Christmas terror attack:

    Gunmen in Nigeria on Friday opened fire on friends and relatives gathered to mourn the deaths of three Christians killed on Thursday, leaving up to 20 more people dead.

    Several dozen Christians had come together for a meeting in a town hall in Mubi, in Adamawa state, to mark the deaths the day before of several people killed in the town.

    “Everyone scampered for safety, but the gunmen chanted: ‘God is great God is great’ while shooting at us.”

    Up to four gunmen surrounded the building and opened fire with Kalashnikov rifles, killing up to 20 people and leaving another 15 badly injured.

    “We started hearing many gunshots through the windows,” said Okey Raymond, 48, who was at the meeting.

    • #4
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    @FrozenChosen

    My son is about to embark on a 2-yr proselyting mission to Malaysia so I imagine I’ll get an upfront view of how the Muslims are treating Christians in that country

    • #5
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    @

    Islam is a dangerous mental virus. I’m really sorry if you are Muslim and reading this, because you have already been infected. You may not have the most virulent form, but you’re a carrier.

    Liberalism, blind tolerance, and political correctness are an autoimmune disease complex. They debilitate our immune system and prevent us from recognizing or even talking about the threat.

    Islam won’t stop until it either dominates the world or is stopped by an outside force.

    • #6
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    @NobodysPerfect

    Of course, all the hundreds of millions of tolerant Muslims in those countries immediately rose up to denounce the killers among them.

    • #7
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    @RB

    About 6 months ago, when some violence was visited upon Christians in Egypt, it had a color picture of 2 young girls crying together in their burned out church. And they were the lucky ones who lived. I cut the picture out, as I found it very moving. Now that it is starting to yellow, I am going to scan it. I hope the 2 girls are still ok. I won’t forget them.

    • #8
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    @Claire

    I’m going to take the one part of this report I know well–Turkey–and point a few things out. First, this was reported in Taraf–the Center for Excellence in Coup-Plotting, as we call it here. While this may or may not have happened, the report is not credible for that reason alone. The way things often work here is the pro-government media manufactures heinous “plots against Christians” at breakneck speed so best to arrest its opponents and then tout itself as a promoter of religious pluralism. Don’t forget that half the country is locked up on vague “terrorism” charges. (Also, by the way, the media here uses the words “Al Qaeda” interchangeably with “any Islamic terrorist.”) Second, please note: If indeed this happened, the people who arrested them and locked them up were Muslims–which, to respond to an earlier comment, would certainly count as protesting.

    Given this, I’m not sure about the general rigor of the Stonegate report. The issue is undoubtably real. All the more reason to be sure one has the facts right.

    • #9
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    @Anon
    Frozen Chosen: My son is about to embark on a 2-yr proselyting mission to Malaysia so I imagine I’ll get an upfront view of how the Muslims are treating Christians in that country · Jan 6 at 12:12pm

    God’s speed.

    • #10
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    @MelFoil
    Frozen Chosen: My son is about to embark on a 2-yr proselyting mission to Malaysia so I imagine I’ll get an upfront view of how the Muslims are treating Christians in that country · Jan 6 at 12:12pm

    May God bless and protect him. If he’s the one who picked Malaysia, then he’s a braver man than me…which is not all that difficult.

    • #11
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    @JohnMarzan

    Wretchard:

    Politics in the Middle East is not about the Arabs versus the Jews, but about minorites versus relative majorities. The Jews are just a special case of the general condition. But the Copts probably suspected that something was going on when their Christmas observances were bombed last year….

    Bombing churches and mosques, pilgrimages and marketplaces are really just a way of posting messages to other communities: get out of town. This place ain’t big enough for the two of us.

    • #12
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    @WICon

    Sure would make a great question in the GOP debates this weekend. Any guess on the odds that any one from NBC or ABC would ask that question? They’ll most likely ask Santorum about birth control or same sex unions.

    • #13
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    @DocJay

    Frosen Chosen, prayers to your son. Judith, is this happening on a softer level in Israel?

    • #14
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    @MollieHemingway

    The media have not been covering this well. I wrote about how after Boko Haram issued their evacuation ultimatum to Christians in Nigeria earlier this week, the LA Times, Washington Post and New York Times hadn’t covered it days later.

    At Epiphany services tonight, I couldn’t help but think about the poor Nigerians who are being gunned down when they gather for worship.

    • #15
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    @Schwaibold

    I believe what we’re seeing across the Middle East is the inevitable end of theocracy built on a religion that prescribes or forbids certain behaviors. (all the ‘Abrahamic faiths’ would qualify). Most of these countries are “Islamic Republics” that have instituted Sharia to some degree, though it may not be referred to as such (if the first article in your Constitution says nothing in the Constitution can conflict with Islam, then Sharia or not Sharia is a matter of semantics.). If non-members of a faith can be interpreted as enemies of the faith simply by virtue of their non-membership, than how can they not also be considered enemies of the state?

    Of course, Turkey is something of an exception, thanks to Ataturk. I can’t imagine true honest to goodness secularism being imposed anywhere else in the Middle East today without all hell breaking loose.

    • #16
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    @FrozenChosen

    I appreciate everyone’s well wishes for my son. He did not choose the assignment but is very excited to go there. We’ll miss him but I’m not worried about his safety – I know he’ll be in the Lord’s hands.

    • #17
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    @ThinkSo

    Voice of the Martyrs publishes a yearly map of nations that restrict christianity. Most Americans can’t fathom the reality that in many, if not most, of these nations your religion is posted on your photo ID. Imagine trying to get a building permit, business license or job when presenting that info in a hostile country. I believe the growing disdain for christianity here in the US along with the push by the left to embrace Islam without a second thought may someday lead to similar results.

    • #18
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    @judithlevy

    Felicia, Jews in Muslim lands have a long history of persecution, even in those countries where they felt at home for long periods. Algeria, for instance, had a Jewish community dating back to the first century. Most of the remaining Jewish population (many relocated to France after they were granted citizenship in the 1960s) emigrated during the civil war in the 1990s, during which war was openly declared on all Algerian non-Muslims.

    In Egypt, the community has suffered bombings, pogroms, expulsions and confiscations over many generations. During Suez, all Jewish Egyptians were declared enemies of the state. The small community that still existed in 1967 all but vanished when the Six-Day-War broke out — the authorities took the male Jewish population en masse and either threw them out of the country or into prison.

    Jews in other Muslim countries have found themselves subjected to show trials and summary public execution on top of the indignities of permanent mistrust and institutionalized discrimination. There are only a few Jews left in what was once a thriving community in Lebanon, and the last known Jew in Libya died in 2002.

    The largest remaining Jewish population in Muslim lands is in Turkey.

    • #19
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    @JohnMarzan

    There’s credible terror threat threatening the scheduled Black Nazarene procession this Monday in Quiapo Manila, according to the PHilippine gov’t

    • #20
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    @FeliciaB

    Judith, I’m left wondering if there is the same amount or more of persecution of Jews in the countries you listed. Or is it a case where the Muslim wackos in those countries find the Christians to be an unbearable threat?

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Inactive
    @ThinkSo
    John Marzan: There’s credible terror threat threatening the scheduled Black Nazarene procession this Monday in Quiapo Manila, according to the PHilippine gov’t · Jan 8 at 4:04am

    Edited on Jan 08 at 04:06 am

    Are you serious or ridiculing?

    • #22
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    @judithlevy
    DocJay, Christians inside sovereign Israel are mostly Arab, and I’m not aware of any instances of violence being visited upon them by Israeli Jews. There isn’t a lot of mixing, but there is no discernible trend toward suspicion of Christian Arabs based on their religion. (Their religion is, if anything, a source of reassurance.) There certainly isn’t any prohibition on religious practice or expression. The only cases of intimidation I’ve heard about inside Israel are instances of Christian Arabs being victimized by Muslim Arabs. In Nazareth, for example, Muslims torched Christian stores in a dispute over the construction of a mosque very close to the Church of the Annunciation, a project to which some Christians objected.Inside the Palestinian territories, life is increasingly anxious for Christians, particularly converts from Islam. And the persecution — arrests on trumped up charges, boycotts by Muslims of Christian businesses, etc. — are by no means exclusive to Gaza; cases are reported in the PA as well. In Gaza, though, where Hamas is complete control, the situation is much worse. There’s a steady exodus of Christians, and it’s an act of bravery to walk the streets of Gaza wearing a crucifix.
    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JohnMarzan
    Think So

    John Marzan: There’s credible terror threat threatening the scheduled Black Nazarene procession this Monday in Quiapo Manila, according to the PHilippine gov’t · Jan 8 at 4:04am

    Edited on Jan 08 at 04:06 am

    Are you serious or ridiculing? · Jan 8 at 9:15am

    did you even click on the link?

    • #24
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    @JohnMarzan

    ffreethinkers Cellphone services cut off around #nazareno2012 procession as security measure. Apparently, faith isn’t enough to protect the procession.

    ShimaSodium Telecomes shouldn’t be cut off just like that. Goodness! Emergency purposes!!!

    • #25
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