By Raymond Ibrahim
“This is not a mosque for prayers but a base for recruiting Muslim youths to engage in terrorist activities.” — Police official, Mombasa, Kenya
A new law appeared in the Indonesian province of Aceh saying that Islamic laws (Sharia) be extended to non-Muslims, the majority of whom are Christian.
“Over the last few years, religious minorities have been targeted, their villages burned, accused in false cases of blasphemy, victims of intimidation, forced marriages, and forced conversions. When a Christian is accused of blasphemy, the people of a neighborhood gather to punish the culprit, burning him alive or lynching him. The police and the government have never punished such acts.” — The Anglican Bishop of Karachi, Pakistan
The most historic and emblematic sign of Muslim persecution of Christians returned in February: Christians in Raqqa, Syria, under the occupation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS], which has since consolidated more territory, were given the three classic choices of Islam: 1) convert to Islam or 2) pay jizya (tribute or extortion money, as in the Koran 9:29) and uphold all the conditions stipulated in the medieval Conditions of Omar—which include heavy restrictions on Christian worship—or 3) the sword.
According to the BBC, ISIS issued a directive:
citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS (also known as ISIL) on their daily lives. The statement said the group had met Christian representatives and offered them three choices—they could convert to Islam, accept ISIS’ conditions, or reject their control and risk being killed. “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said.
A Pew study confirmed that Christians are “the most persecuted religious group in the world” and that their persecution is occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world. In the category of “Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion,” Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of “the world’s” Christians are actually being persecuted.
February’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.
Attacks on Christian Churches
Nigeria: Among other church-related atrocities, the Islamic terror group Boko Haram attacked a church during Sunday services in the Muslim majority northeast of the nation. According to Christian Today, “They locked the doors before the end of the service and shot at the congregation, slitting the throats of those who tried to escape. They also detonated bombs before going on a four hour rampage, burning houses and taking hostages from the village.”
Sudan: “In what Sudanese Christians believe is part of a campaign by Islamist President Omar al-Bashir to rid the country of Christianity,” reported the Morning Star News, “bulldozers accompanied by local police and personnel from the National Intelligence and Security Services destroyed the Sudanese Church of Christ building in the Ombada area of Omdurman, across the River Nile from Khartoum.” According to a local Christian: “The government has confiscated the land where the church was built—please pray for the church to get a place for worship. We had not any prior indication from the officials that the church would be destroyed; they have not even warned us.” The only reason officials gave for demolishing the 300-member church was that it was located in a “Muslim area” and so “not wanted there,” reported one church member. The police officer in charge of demolition reportedly said: “We have orders from above to demolish this church building. We do not want any church in this area.”
Zanzibar: Several churches were attacked in the Muslim majority islands. A bomb that was remotely detonated rocked the entrance of Christ Church Cathedral on February 24. The day before, Sunday, February 23, another bomb exploded near the door of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God Zanzibar Church, just before the end of service. The bomb caused minor injuries to several worshippers. Earlier, a mob invaded the Sunday service of a Pentecostal Evangelism Fellowship of Africa church; apparently they intended to kill the senior pastor. After failing to find him, they battered a visiting clergyman. According to local activists, “Additionally at least 20 churches have been looted and either burnt or demolished by mobs in recent months.”
The Slaughter of Christians
Egypt: Near Aswan in Upper Egypt, one Mahmoud Muhammad Ali went on a rampage, attacking several Christians, including employees of two Coptic-owned pharmacies and two female students who were walking nearby. A woman, stabbed in the neck, was killed, and another severely wounded. According to the brother of the slain woman, Madline, 30, “He killed her because she is a Christian. There was nothing else. He was targeting Christian pharmacies. He went and tried to attack a Christian, and when he failed, he went to the next Christian pharmacy.” Human rights activists and Copts also warned that authorities and others were trying “to shift blame away from Ali and establish the groundwork for his defense.” That is, they were trying to establish that he was “insane or somehow otherwise mentally incompetent to stand trial, allowing him to escape punishment. The tactic has been employed frequently in clear-cut cases of violence against Copts. Because of it, the impunity with which people can attack Christians in Egypt without punishment encourages other attacks.”
Kenya: Lawrence Kazungu Kadenge, 60, a church leader in Mombasa, was killed near his church, Glory of God Ministries Church, for reportedly preaching Christianity near a mosque where jihadis [holy warriors in the cause of Islam] were being trained. During the slaying of the pastor, a witness heard one of two suspects say, “Make sure you have killed him—he has been promoting his religion near our mosque.” According to another church leader, “We as the pastors in Mombasa are living in fear because pastors are being eliminated one by one. We need prayers that the church will survive these attacks as we are being targeted by the radical Muslims.” According to a Mombasa police official, “This is not a mosque for prayers but a base for recruiting Muslim youths to engage in terrorist activities.”
Libya: After Ansar al-Sharia—a group that appears connected to Egypt’s now ousted Muslim Brotherhood—offered a reward to any Benghazi resident who helped round up and execute the nation’s Coptic Christian residents, seven Copts were identified as Christians, forcibly seized from their homes by “unknown gunmen,” taken out and executed some 20 miles west of Benghazi (graphic pictures appear here). A few days later, another Coptic Christian, Salama Fawzi, 24, was shot in the head — again by several “unknown gunmen” — while unloading food in front of his grocery stand in Benghazi. The day after that, another corpse was found, believed — from the small cross tattooed on his wrist traditionally worn by Egyptian Christians — to be that of a Copt. Read more....