ريموند إبراهيم: تقارير لشهر شباط 2019 موثقة عن أضطهاد المسيحيين في عدة دول Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute: “I Don’t Know Why They Attacked Our Village”: Persecution of Christians In February 2019″
“I Don’t Know Why They Attacked Our Village”: Persecution of Christians In February 2019″ ريموند إبراهيم: تقارير موثقة عن أضطهاد المسيحيين في عدة دول لشهر شباط/2019 لا أدري لماذا هاجموا قريتي يقول رجل مسيحي مستغرباً Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/May 13, 2019
*February witnessed a significant increase of state-sanctioned persecution of Christians in Iran. In the city of Rasht , nine Christians were arrested. One of them, a pastor who took over after his predecessor was arrested, was himself arrested on February 10 during church service.
During just the first two weeks of February, “[a]t least 10 incidents of vandalism and desecration of Catholic churches have been reported in France.” — Catholicherald.co.uk, February 15, 2019; France.
“The attack was so terrible that Haroon’s kidney was cut into two pieces” from the stabbings….After he was rushed to hospital, “doctors were forced to remove his kidney.” As is common in such cases, police and local authorities tried to pressure the family not to press charges against the Muslim youths…. — Persecution.org; International Christian Concern; February 21, 2019; Pakistan.
“A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls]…. I remember a Coptic Christian girl from a rich, well-known family in Minya. She was kidnapped by five Muslim men. They held her in a house, stripped her and filmed her naked. In the video, one of them also undressed. They threatened to make the video public if the girl wouldn’t marry him…. The kidnappers receive large amounts of money. Police can help them in different ways, and when they do, they might also receive a part of the financial reward the kidnappers are paid by the Islamisation organisations.” — Testimony by “G”, Persecution.org, February 19, 2019, Egypt.
February witnessed a significant increase of state-sanctioned persecution of Christians in Iran. In the city of Rasht, nine Christians were arrested. One of them, a pastor who took over after his predecessor was arrested, was himself arrested on February 10 during church service.
Massacres of Christians
Nigeria: A number of fatal Islamic terror attacks targeting Christians occurred throughout February:
February 10: Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 10 Christians and an unborn child. Armed herdsmen in large numbers had surrounded the Christian village around 11 p.m. the night before. “We heard gun shots, and this forced me and my family to remain in our bedrooms as it was difficult for us to run out of the house,” said one survivor. “The Fulani gunmen surrounded our house and were shooting and shouting, ‘Allahu akbar’ [‘Allah is greatest’]. They killed my father, mother, two brothers, and one of my sisters-in-law.” The attack came as a complete surprise, even for the village head: “We have never had any misunderstanding with the Fulani herdsmen, so I don’t know why they attacked our village,” he said. “Ten members of my community, including a pregnant woman, were killed during the attack, thus making the unborn child to be the eleventh victim.”
February 12: In the northeast, Boko Haram jihadis invaded four Christian communities, killing several Christians and displacing many others. “I saw a man who I know to be a Christian and a member of the Church of the Brethren in Shuwa, my home town, shot to death,” said one eyewitness. “Also, Bulama, a community leader in Madagali, was shot dead alongside many Christians.”
February 26: Muslim Fulani herdsmen slaughtered at least 32 people in Maro, a Christian village in north-central Nigeria. Churches were also damaged and a boarding school shut down. “We ran out of the church building as the shooting was going on,” said a woman who was in a Bible study class when the raid began. “Many have been killed, and I have not seen my family members since morning. I have escaped out of the area.” Another local Christian said, “The armed herdsmen are shooting anyone they see and are setting fire on houses and church buildings.”
Reported on February 25: Muslim herdsmen attacked a Christian wedding celebration, killing 12 people. “From behind the hill overlooking this village emerged armed Fulani herdsmen who shot indiscriminately at Christians from various churches here at the venue of the feast,” said one local. “Twelve Christians who are members of various churches were shot dead instantly, while another five Christians were injured.” Six of those murdered were children.
Burkina Faso: Muslim terrorists slaughtered a 72-year-old Christian missionary in the Muslim-majority African nation. According to the report, “Antonio Cesar Fernandez was travelling with two colleagues from Togo back to their community in the capital Ouagadougou when a group of jihadists stopped their car. After searching the vehicle they made the 72-year get out and took him to a forested area. A few minutes later there was the sound of shots.” Fernandez had been a missionary in Africa since 1982.
Attacks on Churches
Ethiopia: Angry Muslim mobs attacked ten Christian churches. “The incensed crowds comprising Muslim residents of all ages from across the town made their way to the churches chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ after being given false information that a mosque in the surrounding countryside had been fire-bombed,” said a local. “The contents of all the churches were removed from the buildings and set on fire on the street.” According to the report:
“One of the attacked churches, Meserete Kristos Church, has since been vandalized again, and area Christians have faced intimidation and threats… While Kale Hiwot Galeto church building was destroyed in the Feb. 9 attack, aid workers believe the other nine church buildings were not set ablaze only because of the risk to neighboring Muslim-owned properties. Municipal police were present during almost every attack but took no action…. More than 9,900 worshippers are estimated to attend the 10 churches. A small number of Christians sustained minor injuries and returned home after receiving hospital treatment, including two that were more seriously injured… Huge amounts of property were destroyed, including Bibles, song books, instruments, benches and chairs….”
France: During just the first two weeks of February, “[a]t least 10 incidents of vandalism and desecration of Catholic churches have been reported in France,” notes a February 15 report. “Vandals in Catholic churches throughout the country have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist, burnt altar cloths and torn down crosses, among other acts of desecration of religious items.” The St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles was vandalized on three separate occasions in February; a 19th century statue of the Virgin Mary deemed “irreparable” was “completely pulverized,” said a clergyman, and a hanging cross was thrown to the floor. Vandals also desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur; they mangled the arms of a crucified Christ in a mocking manner; an altar cloth was burned. “God will forgive. Not me,” the city’s mayor said. The next day, Vandals plundered and used human excrement to draw a cross on the Notre-Dame des Enfants Church in Nimes; consecrated bread was found thrown outside in the garbage. According to Father Emmanuel Pic from Notre-Dame parish, “Nothing of value has been broken, but it is the intent that is very shocking. This is what characterizes profanation.” The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe added that “It is our sincere hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that awareness of increasing anti-Christian hostility in France reaches the public square.”
Turkey: On Sunday, February 23, threatening graffiti messages were found on the main entrance door of the Armenian Church of the Holy Mother of God in Istanbul. The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople said in a statement that, “There were written racist and hate speeches in both English and Arabic [saying] you are finished!” One Armenian writer shared images of the vandalism on Twitter. He wrote, “The walls and the door of the Balat Surp Armenian Church. We built its entrance with rocks from the historical church in İznik [Nicaea], where the council met [Council of Nicaea, 325]…. Now they say, ‘YOU ARE FINISHED.’ There are no local [Armenian] people left. The ‘New Turkey!'” Commenting on this latest church attack, an Armenian Member of Parliament, tweeted:
“Every year, scores of hate attacks are being carried out against churches and synagogues. Not just the perpetrators, but also the people who are behind them, should be addressed. For the most important part, the politics that produce hate should be ended.”
Egypt: Due to the closure of their church in December 2018, Coptic Christians held their third funeral in the middle of the street in February. They had long tried to get the necessary permits to register their unofficial church, to no avail. According to the report:
“The village currently has no church, but there are approximately 2500 Coptic Christians living there… The police had closed the church in order to pacify the Islamists, who used a nearby mosque’s microphone to rally Muslim villagers against the Christians…. Unfortunately, the situation in Kom al-Raheb is commonplace throughout Egypt. Police frequently cave to the demands of hardline Islamists instead of protecting the right of Christians to freely practice their faith. When churches are closed, Christians are left to worship and hold rites (such as funerals) in the street.”
Attacks on Apostates, Blasphemers, and Evangelists
Kenya: Muslim men beat and raped a Christian woman and mother of four for leaving Islam. The 41-year-old woman became a secret Christian in 2017; in 2018, however, the threats began, after Somali Muslims saw her at a church: “We have known that you are a Christian, and one of us saw you come out of a church on Sunday,” read one message. “If you continue attending the church, then we shall come for your head soon.” She and her four children, who had also converted to Christianity, quickly relocated. Then, on January 2, four Somali Muslims forced their way into the Christian family’s home:
“I was beaten and then raped by four men who threatened me, telling me not to say anything about the ordeal that I went through. As they left the house at 1 a.m., one of them said, ‘We could have killed you for being a disgrace to Islam and joining Christianity, which is against our religion, but since you are a single mother, we have decided to spare your life with the condition that you should not mention our names.'”
Pakistan: On February 19, four Christian women were falsely accused of blasphemy, prompting “enraged Muslims” to riot and dislocate approximately 200 Christian families from the village. Problems began when a Christian landlord asked a Muslim couple to leave, because they had been “causing trouble among the Christian families in the community,” to quote locals. In retaliation, the Muslim wife accused four Christian women — three of whom were the landlord’s daughters — of desecrating a Koran. “As news of the accusation spread, a mob of enraged Muslims gathered … and attacked several Christian properties, including [the landlord’s] house and a nearby church. The mob killed pets, livestock, and damaged several Christian homes by stoning them.” Soon after a police investigation began, “it was revealed that Samina Riaz [the Muslim accuser] borrowed a copy of the Quran from Khalid Khan, a nearby shopkeeper,” explained a local involved with the case. “When she reached home, she threw it into a water tub in the restroom. She purposely alleged the Christian women of desecrating the Holy Book of Islam.” Even though Samina Riaz confessed to framing the Christians, “members of the mob are still refusing to allow Christians to open their churches,” says the report.
Meanwhile, Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who was in prison — and on death row — for nearly a decade, was finally acquitted in late 2018. However, apparently to placate tens of thousands of angry Muslims who rioted and protested all throughout Pakistan, authorities still kept her a prisoner. In a February 9 report, which until very recently contained the latest information concerning Asia’s whereabouts, AP quoted a human rights campaigner in contact with her: he said the government had her and her husband locked in a single room where “the door opens at food time only.” She was permitted to make phone calls in the morning and at night, usually to her daughters. “She has no indication of when she will leave…. They are not telling her why she cannot leave.” Because many Muslims have vowed to kill her, “At the moment, she has security, but she could face problems any moment, any time, and it could happen very quickly,” said the contact. On May 8, it was reported that Bibi had finally left Pakistan and was at long last reunited with her family in Canada.
Ethiopia: “An Ethiopian police officer was arrested, dismissed and forced to move to another part of the country after he told colleagues about his Christian faith,” states a report. The 25-year-old man, using the pseudonym of Adane, grew up in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region, which is “nearly 100 percent Muslim.” Although he became Christian two years ago, problems for him began when another policeman “recently filed a complaint against him with the Somali State Human Rights Office. He had been heard talking about his newly found Christian faith while in uniform.” The deputy chairman of the Human Rights Office, an ethnic Somali himself, was reportedly “greatly surprised to discover that there actually was a Christian within the tribe.” He “advised Adane to return to Islam. Adane refused, claiming a constitutional right to religious freedom. He was then arrested. Following intervention by the Human Rights Office-chairman, Adane was released, only to find he had been dismissed from the police force. The chairman advised Adane to relocate to another area because he had made too many enemies locally…”
Iran: February witnessed a significant increase of state-sanctioned persecution of Christians. In the city of Rasht, nine Christians were arrested and detained. One of them, a pastor who took over after his predecessor was arrested, was himself arrested on February 10 during church service. Although Rasht has had its fair share of persecution — at least three Christians from there recently received a sentence of 80 lashes — “[t]he past month represents the heaviest wave of publicly known arrests in Rasht within the last three years,” says the report. “It is the policy of the Islamic government not to put thousands of Christians in jail,” explained Dr. Hormoz Shariat, a human rights activist. “Their policy is to arrest a few and put maximum sentence on minor offenses [such as holding church meetings in a home]. They then publicize it in order to put fear in the hearts of Christians. Their strategy is causing fear and isolation.”
In another incident reported on February 1, five women, former Muslims who had converted to Christianity, were arrested. One of the women, a 65-year-old, was arrested in her home. According to the report:
“Authorities confiscated several of her personal items, including electronics and Christian materials (such as Bibles), while searching her residence. She was detained for ten days and interrogated during that time. She was temporarily released after paying a bail of 30 million Toman [$600]. However, she was later charged with ‘acting against national security.’ The prosecutor forced her to visit an Islamic religious leader who offered her the opportunity to return back to Islam.”
Another of the apostate women faced the charge of “disturbing public order, propagating Christianity, and connecting with foreign entities.” If convicted, all these Christians could face up to ten years in prison.
Tajikistan: New amendments to the Muslim majority nation’s religion law are being used to exercise tighter control over its small Christian community. As one February 25 report explains, “Tajik authorities implementing a new religion law are barring children from attending religious [church] services and have burned [five] thousands of calendars with Bible verses.”
Hostility for and Violence against Christians
Germany: On February 15, “in the multicultural district of Berlin Neukölln, a Christian man from Iraq was hit in the face by a Muslim … and threatened with a knife because of a Christian tattoo,” said a February 17 report (in translation). Two men approached the 27-year-old Iraqi Christian, “on account of his religious tattoo,” and demanded money. “He did not comply with this request, whereupon one of the unknown [men] held him and the other hit him several times in the face,” while drawing a knife. The Christian man eventually managed to escape. One of the two assailants was arrested. According to the police report, “The arrested person claims to be of Muslim faith.”
Pakistan: Muslim students stabbed and nearly murdered a Christian student in Karachi. Problems for the youth, Haroon Ifhan, began on February 15, when he reported to the school’s headmaster that his classmate, Muhammad Majid, had stolen and damaged his notebook. “[W]hen the notebook was recovered from Majid’s backpack, he got angry and felt insulted,” said Haroon’s father. Two days later, on Sunday, February 17, “When Haroon was alone on the road, Majid and five others beat Haroon,” explained the father. “The attack was so terrible that Haroon’s kidney was cut into two pieces” from the stabbings, added a local activist. After he was rushed to hospital, “doctors were forced to remove his kidney.” As is common in such cases, police and local authorities tried to pressure the family not to press charges against the Muslim youths, but the family insists that “We want justice,” even at the risk of their own lives.
In a different incident, a district council in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province unanimously voted to employ only Christians as hospital sweepers, thereby “reinforcing a stereotype that views Christians as second class citizens,” notes the report.
“The members of the Swabi District Council adopted the measure unanimously and demanded that all Muslims currently posted as sweepers be transferred to other jobs, such as guards…. Due to widespread religious discrimination, Pakistani Christians are often treated as second class citizens. For many Muslims in Pakistan, Christians are considered spiritually polluted and untouchable because of the religion that they follow. In the professional setting, this discriminatory status relegates Christians to menial and dirty jobs…. Although Christians only make up only 2% of Pakistan’s total population, they represent 80% of Pakistan’s sweepers and sewer workers.”
Egypt: Islamic terrorists abducted another Christian man in the Sinai city of El Arish. The man was travelling by bus when, according to a February 6 report, “gunmen stopped the bus … and examined the identity cards of everyone on board looking for members of the police or military. When they found the Christian’s ID card they carried him off the bus and let it depart. The man’s family said he had already been forced to flee El Arish in February 2017, along with 355 other Christian families, after terrorists linked to IS (Islamic State) executed seven Christians in the city in less than a month. He was returning there on personal business matters.” It is believed that the man has since been killed. A similar incident occurred in 2018, when another Christian, who had fled El Arish in 2017, returned on business only to be gunned down by masked militants. In February that year ISIS-linked terrorists issued a threat to slaughter all Christians found in Sinai.
In a separate incident, an 18-year old Christian girl living south of Luxor was reported missing. Her family accused a local Muslim man of kidnapping her. Other local Christians and they gathered in front of the police station to protest her disappearance, with no result. The disappearance of Christian girls is a growing epidemic in Egypt. In 2017, an ex-kidnapper explained the systematic process of how Christian girls are targeted for abduction, forced conversions and “marriages” to Muslims. According to the report, the man, known only as “G,” “admits he was in a network actively targeting Coptic girls for years before he left Islam.” Although such networks have been around since the 1970s, they have reached their “highest levels now, in the era of President Sisi,” he said. A portion of his testimony follows: “A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls]…. I remember a Coptic Christian girl from a rich, well-known family in Minya. She was kidnapped by five Muslim men. They held her in a house, stripped her and filmed her naked. In the video, one of them also undressed. They threatened to make the video public if the girl wouldn’t marry him…. The kidnappers receive large amounts of money. Police can help them in different ways, and when they do, they might also receive a part of the financial reward the kidnappers are paid by the Islamisation organisations. In some cases, police provide the kidnappers with drugs they seize. The drugs are then given to the girls to weaken their resistance as they put them under pressure. I even know of cases in which police offered helped to beat up the girls to make them recite the Islamic creed. And the value of the reward increases whenever the girl has a position. For example, when she is the daughter of a priest or comes from a well-known family…. The Salafist group I knew rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic. There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly they change their ID…. If all goes to plan, the girls are also forced into marriage with a strict Muslim. Their husbands don’t love them, they just marry her to make her a Muslim. She will be hit and humiliated. And if she tries to escape, or convert back to her original religion, she will be killed.”
Indonesia: In a February 6 interview, “Santoso,” a Christian, discussed the negative evolution of Muslim-Christian interactions: “[I]n the last two years, we are now seeing that Islam, it’s getting more radical and they try to make the politics combine with the religion,” he said. “So they try to make their agenda. Like before they had [in] their agenda that in 2020 Indonesia [would be] becoming an Islamic country. But it’s not happening, but they are still trying and getting bigger now, the Islamic radicalization in Indonesia.” As one example, although Muslims used to wish Christians a Merry Christmas, “now many imams and other Islamic leaders in Indonesia discourage Muslims from acknowledging the holiday even in speech.”
As another example of the growing hatred in Indonesia, a Muslim man who tried to bomb a church years ago, and was partially maimed for it, remains unrepentant: “I have no regrets for what happened,” he said in a February interview. Eighteen years earlier, Taufik Abdul Halim and his jihadi colleagues tried to bomb several targets. One of his friends who was supposed to bomb a church backed out. “So I decided to deliver it myself,” Halim said. “But the package exploded before it arrived at the intended target.” The bomb, hidden in a Dunkin’ Donuts box, exploded prematurely. It blew off part of Halim’s right leg and injured six other people. Although he also ended up serving 12 years in prison, the February 2 report suggests that his experiences have done little to dampen his hate.