Tag Archives: persecution of christians

Arab Discrimination against Christians Must Stop

By Michael Curtis

Now is the winter of Christian discontent in Arab Middle Eastern countries. In all those countries, Christians have been suffering a sad fate: killings; torture; rape; abduction; forced conversion to Islam; seizure of homes and property; and bombings of churches, Christian institutions, and schools, and Christian businesses. All too many well-meaning individuals and group have swallowed the fallacious Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood in the contemporary Middle East and fail to recognize that the Christians living there are the real victims.

It was fitting that Pope Francis on December 26, 2013 urged people to speak out about the discrimination and violence that Christians were suffering; “injustice must be denounced and eliminated.” For some time the puzzling question has been why human rights groups, non-governmental organizations, and mainstream Western churches have been so completely or relatively silent on the issue of the persecution of Christians, individuals, and groups rooted in their societies and loyal to them.

On December 10, 1948 the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.” In the Arab countries today, this worthy principle does not apply to Christians or to Jews. The world is aware that since 1948 Jews have almost completely departed from those countries and only a small number remain. It is less aware that Christian communities, many living in fear, have also been leaving or fleeing or forced to leave their countries. With 12.8 million (3.8% of the total population) estimated in the whole Middle East region, those communities now constitute less than 1% of the world’s Christian population.

Even the figures reported in the mainstream Western media of Christians in Arab countries are wildly overstated. The Pew Research Center report of December 2011, corrected February 2013, on Global Christianity provides what appears to be an objective statistical summary of present reality. Taking just three of the countries in the report, the estimates are as follows. Egypt has a Christian population of 4.2 million (5.3% of the population) ; Syria has 1.0 million (5.2%); and Iraq 270,000 (0.9%). Of these 43.5% are Catholics, 43% are Orthodox, and 13.5% are Protestant.

These figures have to be put into the context of the history of the Middle East. The Christians suffering today are the descendants of the oldest Christian communities in the world. In the early years of Islamic rule, Christian scholars and doctors played a considerable role in the life of Middle East countries. Monks translated medical, scientific, and philosophical texts into Arabic. But for four centuries, until the early 16th century, Christians were persecuted and massacred. Under the Ottoman Empire from that point on Christians, as well as Jews, were treated as second-class citizens.

Persecution of Christians in the Islamic Middle East has intensified in recent years, and the fear now is that Christianity may be becoming extinct in the area where it has existed for two millennia. They are criticized, absurdly, as Crusaders, or as colonialists associated with the West, or as infidels. The exception, and the only country in the area where Christians possess full religious rights and can exercise them, and have increased both in absolute number and proportion of the population, is Israel. There they have grown from 34,000 to 158,000. In contrast, the number of church buildings in Iraq, once 300, is now 57. The 1987 census in Iraq, the last one taken officially, counted 1.4 million Christians; it is now about one-fifth that number.

It is a poignant commentary that this Christmas period should have witnessed attacks and outbreaks of hostility against Christians. These were particularly violent in Iraq where the Assyrians, whose descendants are now part of the Assyrian Church of the East, are said to have adopted Christianity in the first century, and where the Chaldean Catholic Church dates back to the 16th century. Most of the Christians today are Chaldeans, some of whom still speak the old language of Aramaic; they are Eastern rite Catholics who recognize the Pope’s authority but remain autonomous from Rome.

Iraq already has been the scene of killing of the Archbishop of Mosul in 2008, the kidnappings of clerics in 2005 and 2006, and attack on a Catholic Church in Baghdad in 2010 and an outdoor market that killed 58 people. An Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda termed the 2010 attack as involving a “legitimate target.” In Christmas 2013 there were further senseless terrorists actions, especially against Christians. These included three bombings in Christian areas, including a car bombing in the Dora section of Baghdad as worshippers were leaving the Christian service; 38 were reported killed.

Egypt is embroiled in its internal hostilities between the military group now in control and the forces of the Muslim Brotherhood and armed jihadists and supporters of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi, that have killed hundreds of people and led to the imprisonment of thousands. Though Egyptian Coptic Christians are not central to this conflict, they have been persecuted. It is true that Copts were largely sympathetic to the overthrow of Morsi. It was perhaps also impolitic for the Coptic Pope Tawadros II to appear on television with General Abdel Sisi, who removed Morsi from office. Yet these did not justify the savage attacks by Islamists against the Orthodox Christian Copts.

Since the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, more than a hundred Christians have been kidnapped. So far in 2013, the Islamist violence in Egypt resulted in more than 200 churches attacked and 43 totally destroyed. In addition, discrimination and violence has been frequently exercised against homes and businesses of Christians who feel imperiled. One Coptic Church in Minya province that had stood for a hundred years was burned. The Church of the Archangel Michael, outside of Cairo, was burned in August 2013.

Resolutions and calls for action in Middle East affairs are now frequent. Perhaps the call that is most urgent today is for the protection of Christians who should be accorded equality in law and culture in Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East. The mainstream churches and the groups purportedly interested in human rights ought to heed the plea of Pope Francis.

Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.

#Nigeria: Where Jihad and Christian Persecution Run Rampant

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DeadNigeriansarebrough001-viMany around the world were recently made aware—got a small glimpse—of the Islamic jihad that plagues northern Nigeria, at the hands of Boko Haram, an organization dedicated to eradicating Christianity and enforcing the totality of Sharia law.

Last Sunday, September 29, around 1 a.m. Islamic terrorists dressed in Nigerian military uniforms invaded an agricultural college, shooting students as they slept in their dorms, killing a total of some 50 students.

As with the Islamic assaults in Kenya and Pakistan from the previous weekend—the former on a mall, the latter on a Christian church, leaving a combined total of nearly 200 people dead and hundreds injured—this latest jihadi attack in Nigeria is, far from an aberration, simply the latest in a tremendously long list of jihadi atrocities, most often targeting Christians.

Indeed, when it comes to Nigeria, it is difficult just keeping up with the atrocities—so frequent, sometimes daily, are they.

Thus the day before the agricultural college attack, in Kaduna state, Nigeria, Muslim herdsmen slaughtered 15 Christians.  And the day before that, Islamic militants killed a Christian pastor and his son, torched their church in Dorawa, and killed another 28 people.

Jihadi attacks on schools and colleges are actually common.  In July, 40 Christians were killed in an attack on a boarding school in Yobe state, Nigeria.  The dormitory was set on fire in the attack and those fleeing gunned down.   A month earlier, 16 other students were shot dead in attacks on a secondary school in Yobe and another school in Borno.

One year ago, in October 2012, Boko Haram jihadis stormed the Federal Polytechnic College, “separated the Christian students from the Muslim students, addressed each victim by name, questioned them, and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat,” killing up to 30 Christians.

This business of separating Muslims from “infidels” and releasing the former occurs with regular occurrence during jihadi attacks (inasmuch as it is good to kill an infidel, it is bad to kill a fellow Muslim, according to Islamic law).   Thus, the weekend before this most recent terror attack in Nigeria, after jihadis in Kenya had raided a packed mall, they, too, made it a point to differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims before initiating the carnage.

While the religious identity of those slaughtered in the recent college attack is still not clear—most often, Boko Haram targets Christians and elements of the Nigerian government but Muslims are also sometimes killed as collateral—in the context of separating people according to religion, it is interesting to note that one surviving student told Reuters, “They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible.”

Furthermore, the Associated Press reported that some of those killed were found with their “hands clasped under the chin, as if in prayer”—Christian prayer, that is, as Muslims do not pray with hands clasped under their chins.

That said, to a purist group like Boko Haram, Muslims who intermingle with Christians or who accept Western education, are apostate infidels, also worthy of death.  Indeed, quite true to its name, “Boko Haram”—or “Western Education is a Sin”—recently declared, “Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them! We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Quran.”

Most recently a new report confirms that Boko Haram has “bombed, burned, or attacked” 50 churches in Nigeria since January 2012; 366 people—the overwhelming majority of whom were Christian—were killed in just these church attacks alone.  Boko Haram has also engaged in “31 separate attacks on Christians or [southern Nigerians] perceived to be Christian, killing at least 166 persons; 23 targeted attacks on clerics or senior Islamic figures critical of Boko Haram, killing at least 60 persons; and 21 attacks on ‘un-Islamic’ institutions or persons engaged in ‘un-Islamic’ behavior, killing at least 74.”

Boko Haram’s attacks on half of Nigeria’s population—the Christians—is so widespread and frequent that not one month ever passes without several atrocities appearing in my monthly Muslim Persecution of Christians series.  Here, for instance, are some of the attacks Boko Haram launched on Christians from the last report I compiled, for the month of July, 2013, alone:

  • Islamic terrorists set off four bombs planted near three Protestant churches in Kano city, killing at least 45 people.
  • Growing numbers of Christian girls in Muslim-majority areas, where the Islamic group, Boko Haram holds sway, are being abducted, kept in the homes of Muslim leaders and forced to renounce their faith.  Last year, Boko Haram had declared that it would begin doing precisely this—kidnap Christian women—as a way “to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam.”
  • At least 28 were killed in a series of explosions throughout a Christian neighborhood in the Muslim-majority northern city of Kano.  The attacks happened in the evening while people were out “to enjoy the area’s nightlife.”
  • At least 30 Christian men, women and children were slain in three villages in southern Plateau state by Islamic extremists, some of whom are suspected to be from outside of Nigeria; they raided the villages massacring all in sight and burning down approximately 100 Christian homes.
  • Islamic gunmen raided Dinu, a Christian village on an early Sunday morning, before church services, as happens frequently, and slaughtered six Christians, a month after Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot another Christian to death in a nearby village and destroyed the churches of four villages.

Again, the above anecdotes are from the month of July alone (for more,  see the Nigerian sections in Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, especially pgs. 70-75).

The lesson of last Sunday’s jihadi attack on an agricultural college in Nigeria is one and the same with the lesson of the jihadi attacks from the previous weekend on a Pakistani church and a Kenyan mall: all these attacks are but the tip of the iceberg of widespread Islamic hostility for and violence against non-Muslim “infidels,” Christians chief among them.

That the Obama administration still refuses to list Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization (even though Boko Haram is now directing threats at the United States); and that the Obama administration threatens the Nigerian government when it responds to the jihadis with force (warning it not to violate the “human rights” of Boko Haram) is a reminder why the viral, international jihad—in Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, ad infinitum—is so little known in the United States, and likely will stay unknown until it strikes U.S. borders again.

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Don’t miss Jamie Glazov’s video interview with Raymond Ibrahim about Islam’s new war on Christians, below:

Muslim Persecution of Christians: June, 2012

by Raymond Ibrahim/