As in previous years, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Islamic attacks on Christians — much of it in the context of targeting Christmas festivities and worship.
The one that claimed the most lives took place in Egypt. On Sunday, December 11, 2016, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself, killed at least 27 worshippers, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 70. A witness said:
“I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene. I saw a headless woman being carried away. Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people’s flesh off the floor. There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”
The death toll and severity of the attack (pictures and videos of the aftermath here) surpassed even the New Year’s Day bombing of an Alexandrian church in which 23 people were killed in 2011. A few weeks before the St. Peter’s bombing, a man hurled an improvised bomb at St. George Church, packed with thousands of worshippers, in Samalout. Had the bomb detonated, casualties would likely have been higher. In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate — including “you will die Christians” — were painted on the floor of the Virgin Mary church in Damietta.
In Germany, Anis Amri, a Muslim asylum seeker from Tunisia, seized a large truck, murdered its driver, and pushed him onto the passenger seat, then drove the truck into a Christmas market in Berlin. Twelve shoppers were killed and 65 were injured, some severely. Four days later, Amri was killed in a shootout with police near Milan. ISIS claimed responsibility despite original reports claiming the man had no ties to Islamic terror groups.
A Muslim migrant in Italy who, according to police, “wanted to destroy Christian symbols,” set a church nativity scene on fire and destroyed a separate statue of Mary. He was caught by the church’s priest, who notified authorities. They rushed to the scene and fought to restrain the man. who was reportedly suffering from a “visible psycho-physical crisis.”
A fortnight before Christmas in a region of Germany that contains more than a million Muslims, approximately 50 public Christian statues (of Jesus, Mary, etc.) were beheaded, and crucifixes broken. Many local Germans were left “shocked and scared,” the report said. Police called the incident a “religiously motivated attack.”
The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group. One Arabic-language message called “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to mobilize lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.” Manuals for the use and preparations of weapons and explosives for aspiring assailants were also available on the same social media site.
Police in Australia arrested seven men — described as “self-radicalized” and “inspired by the Islamic State” — for planning a series of bomb attacks in the heart of Melbourne on Christmas Day. Among their targets was St. Paul’s Cathedral. Four hundred police were involved in the raid, and more were deployed on Christmas Day as a precautionary measure.
Austria: A 22-year-old Muslim asylum seeker from Afghanistan stabbed a Christian woman with a knife for reading from the Bible in the asylum center. According to the report, the man “had taken offence to the fact that the woman had been invited by Christian residents of the property to discuss the Bible. When he found out what she was doing, he stormed into the kitchen where the woman was standing and tried to plunge the knife into her upper body.” The 50-year-old woman’s thick winter coat deflected the knife….”
Greece: Unknown vandals set fire to the Church of Archangel in the village of Lagolio, on the island of Crete. The only clue to their identity was that they wrote “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic on the walls, “infuriating locals,” said a report. Although local residents managed to put out the fire before it spread, icons and other sacred items were burned.
Read it all and Previous monthly reports dating back to August 2011 here.