“It is necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” Saudi Grand Mufti
Raymond Ibrahim writes for the Gatestone Institute that, “Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic legal authority decreed that churches in the region must be destroyed… American teachers in the Middle East were murdered for being Christian or talking about Christianity; churches were banned or bombed, and nuns terrorized by knife-wielding Muslim mobs.” Ibrahim’s series, titled ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians,’ is published each month to document cases of persecution – whether it be general discrimination, arrests, or murder – committed by Muslims in majority Islamic countries, Asia and the West.
By Raymond Ibrahim
4/25/2012 Middle East (Gatestone Institute) – The war on Christianity and its adherents in the Muslim world rages on. In March alone, Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic legal authority decreed that churches in the region must be destroyed; jihadis [holy warriors] in Nigeria said they “are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women”; American teachers in the Middle East were murdered for being Christian or talking about Christianity; churches were banned or bombed, and nuns terrorized by knife-wielding Muslim mobs. Christians continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for allegedly “blaspheming” Islam’s prophet Muhammad; former Muslims continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for converting to Christianity.
The extent of this persecution is virtually unknown in the West, due to the mainstream media’s well-documented biases: the mainstream media knows that if they do not ignore or at best whitewash the nonstop persecution of Christians under Islam, their narrative of Islam as the “religion of peace” would be quickly undermined. Last month alone, the New York Times ran an anti-Catholic ad, but refused to publish a nearly identical ad directed at Islam; the BBC admitted it mocks Jesus but will never mock Muhammad; and U.S. sitcoms have been exposed as bashing Christianity, but never Islam.
Categorized by theme, March’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity:
Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Proselytism: Death and Prison
Egypt: A Christian man accused of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad was sentenced to six years in prison. Although under Egyptian law “defamation of religion” is a misdemeanor, punishable by a prison sentence of one month to three years, the judge doubled the sentence to appease Muslims, including an angry 2,500-strong mob that terrorized the courtroom, and demanding death for the Christian. Similarly, an “anti-Christianization course” was initiated by an organization “specializing in the resistance to Christianity,” so that Muslims will not be “throw[n] under the feet of the Cross.” According to an instructor, “Recurring attempts at the university in Aswan to convert Muslims to Christianity or provoke them with misleading information was the impetus behind the course.”
India: A young woman was attacked and thrown out of her home “for daring to give thanks for healing in Christ’s name” in a predominantly Muslim village; “her parents helped Islamic extremists to beat her nearly unconscious”: In a village where “hard-line Muslims have threatened to kill the 25 families who initially showed interest in Christ, leaving only five frightened Christian families,” the woman was attacked when returning from church, and called “pagan, among other verbal abuses.” The mob also harassed and threatened the Christian woman who had allegedly “lured” her to convert to Christianity.
Iran: In a rare crackdown on a concentrated area, in what is seen as a tactic to discourage Muslims from attending official churches, authorities have arrested 12 more converts to Christianity living in the country’s third largest city of Isfahan, Among the latest known Christian converts detained in the Isfahan area is a man who was reportedly taken into custody on March 2 while returning home from his work: “Security authorities raided his home and seized him without explanation.”
Iraq: An American teacher was shot to death by an 18-year-old student at a private Christian academy. He “was a devout Christian who frequently praised Christianity and prayed in the classroom, and his friends in Washington said his evangelism is what motivated him to teach in Iraq.” According to students, “Mr. Jeremiah’s hands were still folded in prayer when he fell;” others say a day before the shooting [there was] “a heated discussion…during which the pupil threatened to kill the teacher because of conflicting religious views.” In an interview, the father of the pupil condemned Christian evangelists, portraying them as “more dangerous than al-Qaeda.”
Malaysia: After religious police raided an event at a Methodist church over “fears that Muslims were being converted,” Muslim officials created a seminar called “Strengthening the faith, the dangers of liberalism and pluralism and the threat of Christianity towards Muslims.” After the title of the conference was criticized, a lawmaker said the reference to Christianity would be removed, but the seminar’s content would remain unchanged: “The seminar is part of the right of Muslims to defend the faith of its practitioners from any action which may lead to apostasy. It is our responsibility,” he said.
Pakistan: A Muslim mob attacked a 60-year-old Christian woman who converted to Islam, only to reconvert back to Christianity six months later: she “was tortured—her head shaved—and paraded through the streets, garlanded with shoes.” Soon after, she received more threats of “dire consequences” from Islamic clerics, fleeing region with her family. Likewise, a 26-year-old Christian woman, mother to a five-month-old girl, was falsely accused of “blaspheming” Muhammad and arrested. A few days prior, some of her relatives who had converted to Islam pressed her to do the same: “She refused, telling them that she was ‘satisfied with Christianity and did not want to convert,’ and was arrested of blasphemy soon thereafter.”
Yemen: Al-Qaeda gunmen fatally shot an American teacher. The terror network’s affiliate in Yemen issued a message saying, “This operation comes as a response to the campaign of Christian proselytizing that the West has launched against Muslims,” calling the teacher “one of the biggest American proselytizers.” He was shot eight times on a Sunday.
Bethlehem: One week after the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority [PA] told an audience of Evangelical Protestants that his government respected the rights of its Christian minorities, the PA declared a Baptist Church illegal, adding that birth, wedding, and death certificates from the church were no longer valid. A pastor noted that “animosity towards the Christian minority in areas controlled by the PA continues to get increasingly worse. People are always telling [Christians], ‘Convert to Islam. Convert to Islam. It’s the true and right religion.'”
Egypt: Some 1,500 Muslims—several armed with swords and knives and shouting Islamic slogans—terrorized the Notre Dame Language School in Upper Egypt, in response to false claims from local mosques that the private school was building a church: “Two nuns were besieged in the school’s guesthouse for some eight hours by a murderous mob threatening to burn them alive;” one nun suffered a “major nervous breakdown requiring hospitalization… The entire property was ransacked and looted. The next day the Muslims returned and terrorized the children. Consequently, school attendance has dropped by at least one third.”
Iran: The Armenian Evangelical Church in Tehran is the latest church to be ordered to cease holding Persian services on Fridays. The officers serving the notice threatened church officials, saying that “if the order is ignored, the church building will be bombed ‘as happens in Iraq every day.'” As another report summarizes, “Christians and Churches in the Islamic Republic of Iran are now banned from preaching the Gospel to non-Christians, holding Persian language services, teaching and distributing the Bible, or holding Christian classes.”
Iraq: Even though Kirkuk’s church was recently restored after an earlier bomb attack that killed a 13-year-old Christian boy, the “reopening celebration was but a brief respite in the ongoing suffering of Iraq’s Christian community, signaled by two further attacks”: Another church in Baghdad was bombed, killing two guards and wounding five, and the body of a Christian was “found riddled with bullets in Mosul. He had been shot nine times at close range. The freelance photographer had been kidnapped four days earlier. Iraqi Christians are often targeted by kidnappers for ransom.”
Kenya: A band of Muslims launched a grenade attack on a crowd of 150 Christians attending an outdoor church meeting, killing two and wounding more than 30. “Human-rights groups say that the Muslim attackers were hyped into action by a militant Muslim preacher holding an alternate rally only 900 feet from the Christian gathering. Further reports say that the Muslim preachers were slandering Christianity and that members of the Christian group could hear the Muslim speakers.”
Nigeria: A Boko Haram suicide car bomber from the Islamist group Boko Haram [Arabic translation: “Western Education is a Sin”] attacked a Catholic church, killing at least 10 people. The bomb detonated as worshippers attended Mass at St. Finbar’s Catholic Church in Jos, a city in which thousands of Christians have died in the last decade as a result of Boko Haram’s jihad, and
where, less than two weeks before, another church was attacked, killing three.
Saudi Arabia: The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, one of the Islamic world’s highest religious authorities, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” He made his assertion in response to a question posed by a delegation from Kuwait, where a parliament member recently called for the “removal” of churches: the delegation wanted to confirm Sharia’s position on churches with the Grand Mufti, who “stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it,” basing his verdict on a saying (or hadith), of Muhammad.
Sudan: Sudanese aerial strikes were aimed at church buildings in some regions. Churches in the Nuba Mountains are holding worship services very early in the morning and late in the evening to avoid aerial bombardments intentionally targeting their churches. The Khartoum regime is “doing everything possible to make sure they get rid of Christianity from the Nuba Mountains—churches and church schools are the targets of both the Sudanese Armed Forces and its militias,” said an aid worker.