by Raymond Ibrahim
Tragic stories of Christian experiences under the Islamic State continued to emerge throughout the month of January. A Christian doctor who forfeited the chance to escape his Syrian village after ISIS had captured it because he wanted to stay and help the sick and needy, both Christian and Muslim, was kidnapped by the Muslim terrorists and ordered to renounce Christ for Muhammad. When he refused, they publicly slaughtered him. Similarly, after ISIS ordered another Christian youth in Syria to embrace Islam, he too refused and was slaughtered for it. His mother — who was prevented from burying her martyred son’s body — recalled that when ISIS first invaded their village, he reminded her of Jesus’ assertion in the New Testament: “If you deny me before men I will deny you before the Father.”
After members of ISIS raided the home of Zarefa, an elderly Christian woman in Iraq, they discovered crucifixes and Christian icons. “They forced me to spit on the Cross,” she recalled.
“I told them that it was not appropriate, that it was a sin. He said that I must spit. ‘Don’t you see that I have a gun?’ he asked me. I said to myself, ‘Oh, the Cross! I am weak, I will spit on you. But Lord, I ask you to take revenge for me. I cannot escape from this.'”
According to the report, “The shame is still visible on Zarefa’s face when she recounts the memory; her town, Qaraqosh, is liberated now, but she is still recovering from the traumatic two years that are only just behind her.”
A Christian widow and her teenage son from the Nineveh plains of Iraq recounted their treatment after ISIS took their village. The boy described how the militants once marched him “by men in orange suits, held at gunpoint by a group of Daesh [ISIS] children.”
“The children executed them with pleasure… Another time I ran into a big crowd on the street. There was a woman; her hands and feet were tied. The Daesh terrorists drew a circle around her. If she got out of the circle, she would live, but that was impossible because she was tied. While her relatives were crying and begging for a pardon, the Jihadists threw stones at her until she died.”
After being made to watch several such execution, the militants told him: “If you do not convert to Islam, we will shoot you as well.” The boy, who was 14 at the time, added: “That is when I converted to Islam. From that time on, we concealed that we were Christians.” Later, when the jihadis discovered he was wearing a crucifix around his neck, they beat him and sent him to an Islamic “correctional camp” where he was indoctrinated in the Koran for a month.
“I was hit whenever I could not answer their questions [about Muslim doctrine] the way they wanted me to, and my mother was stung with long needles because she had not studied anything from the Koran.”
After two years under ISIS, they managed to escape. “Yes, I am embarrassed for having had to profess Islam,” the boy said.
The rest of the accounts of Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in January 2017 include, but are not limited to, the following:
Muslim Violence against and Slaughter of Christians
Egypt: Over the course of just 10 days in January, four Christians were slaughtered on three separate occasions. On January 3, a Muslim man crept up behind a Christian man, 45, and slit his throat, because he owned a shop that sold alcohol, which the Muslim deemed “contrary to the Sharia [Islamic law] and the religion [Islam].” On January 6, a married Christian couple (husband 62, wife 55) were found slaughtered in their home in Monufia, north Egypt. Their throats were slit and their bodies had multiple stab wounds. Nothing was stolen from their apartments; relatives say it was a hate crime based on their religion. On Friday, January 13, another Christian man, a young surgeon — well-liked by poor Muslim and Christian locals for providing them with free treatment — was found slaughtered in his apartment in Asyut, southern Egypt. He too had stab wounds to his neck, chest, and back.
Philippines: According to a January 12, 2017 report, a former Muslim convert to Christianity was found slaughtered in his home by local Muslims for apostatizing from Islam. During his time as a Muslim, Datu was hostile to Christianity; when he found that a Christian youth was courting his daughter and the couple wanted to marry, he began to hurl stones at the boy’s father, a pastor. Later, when even death threats failed to separate the couple — and after securing a large dowry from the Christian family — Datu agreed to the marriage. During the church ceremony, which was conducted by the bridegroom’s father, whom Datu used to stone, the Muslim man was struck by what he heard to the point that he converted to Christianity. He then fled to another town to avoid persecution and study the Bible. When he returned home to visit his family, he was found dead, killed by local Muslims for apostatizing from Islam.
Germany: A court heard how a 27-year-old Muslim intruder named Abubaker broke into the Heilbronn home of a 70-year-old Christian woman described as a “devout Catholic” and “regular churchgoer.” He tied her up, abused her, placed a cross in her hands, and strangled her to death. Then he wrote “a series of Arabic and religious messages around the house” — including “It’s payback time” in English — before stealing some items and fleeing the scene. The defendant — described as a “strict Muslim” — is of Pakistani descent and grew up in Saudi Arabia. Although his DNA was found on the scene of the murder as well as an imprint of the sole of his red shoes and fibers from his jacket, Abubaker insisted the charges against him were a “lie” and that he was being “framed by a religious conspiracy.”
France: Apparently, the slaughter of Fr. Jacques Hamel, when Muslim terrorists marched into his church during morning mass and slit his throat, was just the spectacular tip of an iceberg of Muslim persecution of Christians in France. A new study reveals that “Islamist extremist attacks on Christians in France intensified in 2016, with the country experiencing a 38 percent rise in faith-related incidents. Attacks rose from 273 in 2015 to 376 in 2016,” the majority occurring during the last Christmas season. “Many of the attacks took place in churches and other places of worship. One church had its wall vandalised by blasphemous graffiti. A Jesus Christ figure at a Catholic memorial in Fournes-en-Weppes was likewise attacked by the Islamist militants.” In response to these hate crimes, growing numbers of clergymen are going as far as to accuse Muslim terrorists of demonic possession. Concerning the murder of Fr. Hamel, right before the Muslim assailant slit his throat, the priest reportedly shouted, “Be gone, Satan!”, and during his memorial service, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun called on those “who are tormented by diabolical violence, you who are drawn to kill by a demonic, murderous madness, [to] pray to God to free you from the devil’s grip.”
Nigeria: On Saturday, January 7 a group of Muslim herdsmen invaded a predominantly Christian village, where they killed six police officers and four civilians, and destroyed houses and a police truck. According to the report”
“The Fulani are the largest nomadic people group in the world and are known for the high level of importance they assign to their cattle. They are predominantly Muslim and often carry out attacks in Nigeria in the name of Islam. However, Nigeria has refused to recognize them as a terrorist group.”
Separately, because hundreds of Christians have been slaughtered by Muslim Fulani in recent weeks and months, the Christian Association of Nigeria designated Sunday, January 8, “as a national day of mourning for Christians killed by Muslim Fulani terrorists in southern Kaduna State,” said a report. It described the killings as ethnic and religious cleansing by “Islamic fundamentalists disguising as Fulani herdsmen.” This contradicts Nigerian President Buhari, a Muslim, who attributes Fulani violence against Christians to “poverty, injustice and the lack of job opportunities.” Other analysts, especially in the West, cite climate change and desertification as factors. Christian leaders said Buhari’s minimizing of the Fulani attacks “speaks volumes over perceived official endorsement of the dastardly and ungodly acts”.
Uganda: On January 15, a Muslim mob consisting of nearly 100 men attacked a Christian church during a prayer meeting. They locked the congregation in, beat several male members with clubs and sticks, tied them up, and then raped 15 women. “Previously,” notes the report, “Muslims had only thrown stones at the roof of the church building to disrupt church services of the 500-member congregation.” During the attack, a Christian heard a Muslim yell, “Away with the pastor who is converting our Muslims to Christianity.” Since two weeks after the attack, the pastor and eight other Christians remain missing.
Pakistan: Muhammad Din and three other Muslim men broke into a Christian household while the man of the house was out working and gang-raped his wife; while doing so they also demanded that she and her family to abandon their home, which is adjacent to the home of Muhammad Din. Before leaving, they set fire to the house; the Christian couples’ four children managed to escape the flames, but the rape victim’s elderly father could not get out in time and suffered burns. When they rushed the elderly “infidel” to a hospital, treatment was denied him. Since then, the 70-year-old “father of [the] victim of gang rape knocked [on] every door for justice to lodge report against Muslim rapists but due to their influence and contact in government none was ready to register case against them.”
Separately, on New Year’s Eve, an armed Muslim mob attacked a Christian neighborhood, described as a “mission compound,” in Sukkur; 10 Christians were injured. According to the report, “the attackers had tortured the elderly, women, children and men alike.” Some of the assailants wore police uniforms. The reason behind the attack is apparently that the Muslims want to evict them from their homes and seize the land for themselves.
Somalia: A report makes clear why the Horn of Africa is now considered the second worst nation in which to be a Christian:
“[T]he mere suspicion [that a Somali has become Christian] leads to a rushed public beheading. Christians cannot raise their children according to their faith and would face severe problems if they attempted to celebrate Christian holidays. In a nutshell, to survive in the country Christians must pretend not to be Christians.”
One international law analyst said that “killing Christian converts in Somalia has become very common” and “implied that the converts in North Korea are better off, even though the latter is the world’s top Christian persecutor.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Germany: Muslim vandals devastated a Christian parish in the town of Brühl and wrote Islamic slogans on the walls. According to the report, “the vandals left a ‘picture of devastation’ [according to police statements], destroying glass panes, breaking doors and writing ‘Islamist’ slogans on the walls.” Despite the Islamic nature of the slogans, police said they “do not assume” they are relevant to the motive for the attack.
Nigeria: According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, 900 Christian churches have been destroyed in 12 northern states that adopted Islamic law, in the early 2000s. In January, the government of one of those sharia-compliant states, Jigawa State, ordered two churches — the Redeemed Christian Church of God and the Lord’s Chosen Church — both of which had been operating for more than 25 years, to be bulldozed to the ground; 800 Christians were left without a place to worship. Because authorities did not give church leaders any notice, they were unable to save Bibles, valuables, and other personal possessions. According to the report, “Christians in Jigawa State are suffering increasing persecution and discrimination from their Muslim counterparts and local leaders,” many of whom are “hell-bent on enforcing restrictive laws on Christians. These church demolitions are just one example in the bigger picture of systemic persecution in these regions.”
Iraq: At least 100 places of worship, mostly Christian, with a few Yazidi temples, have been vandalized or completely demolished in the territories of Mosul and Nineveh Province since June 2014, when the Islamic State captured them, said a report. Locals told how ISIS set fire to the Church of the Immaculate Conception and beheaded its statues: “The jihadists used the church as a shooting range and the mannequins [statues] as targets. The mannequins are completely riddled [with bullets].” St George’s Syriac Catholic Church was transformed into an improvised bomb factory; hundreds of bombs and grenades were found there, battle plans were written on church walls, and chemicals were found in the building together with instructions on how to mix them into explosives.
Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom: No to Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Evangelization
Muslim Contempt for and Discrimination against Christians
Previous monthly reports back to 2011