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(February 6, 2006) – The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has been monitoring the response of Muslims to cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a way they say is a blasphemous. ICC is concerned that as Muslim outrage grows against the publication of these cartoons, Christians will increasingly be targeted because of their association with the Western world.

In protest over the publication of these “offensive” cartoons, Muslims are attacking embassies, burning flags, boycotting products, and attacking Christians and others associated with the West. The violent protests have continued to spread to Beirut , Indonesia , Palestine , and Afghanistan . In Beirut , over the weekend, a Christian neighborhood was attacked and rampaged by Muslims, in Pakistan , a church was ransacked and Christians beaten.

Especially in Muslim-majority countries, Christians are now under increased threat because they are targets for retribution from radical Muslims. Some Muslim clerics are calling for a “day of wrath,” and there seems to be no end in sight for the intolerance doled out by Muslims to Christian minorities.

Muslim indignation is understandable as they feel persecuted by having their religion mocked and ridiculed. Christians too have been ridiculed. Depictions of our Lord in artwork and in the press have often been used in a way that is less than reverent. Indignation though, is never a reason for violence.

There are two sad ironies in the response of Muslims to this indignation. One is the fact that their reaction is an illustration of exactly what the cartoons are depicting. It is as if the protestors are saying “How dare you portray us as violent? We will kill you for that.”

The second irony is that while Muslims are crying “persecution” in regards to a depiction of Mohammad in a cartoon, this pales in comparison to the crimes committed against Christians, Jews, and Hindus in Muslim-majority countries because of their faith. The persecution of people of minority faiths is routine in Muslim societies. In some cases, it is even justified by law, and can often be deadly. ICC has doumented case after case of Christian suffering, maiming, torture and murders of Christians who were killed because they are infidels or apostates (one who has turned away from Islam).

In Indonesia alone, 10,000 Christians were murdered for their faith from 1998 to 2003. In Pakistan , Christians are routinely jailed and even murdered for blasphemy (speaking against Mohammed). Christians in Saudi Arabia are arrested for holding prayer meetings in private homes and in most Islamic cultures, Muslims who convert to Christianity are often murdered.
How does the Muslim world justify their indignation over these cartoons when it routinely oppresses people of other faiths who do not conform to their dictates?
While these violent protests have received significant media coverage, the daily persecution of Christians by fundamentalist Muslims remains an obscure issue that many people know nothing about. ICC will continue to bring to light the suffering of Christians, even when it involves Muslim intolerance.