29 Days of Persecution

Raymond Ibrahim of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Middle East Forum performs the invaluable service of compiling, on a monthly basis, news about the world-wide persecution of Christians. Well, it isn’t quite world-wide, but I’m sure you’ll spot the trend. Ibrahim’s February wrap-up begins:

Half of Iraq’s indigenous Christians are gone due to the unleashed forces of jihad, many of them fleeing to nearby Syria; yet, as the Assad regime comes under attack by al-Qaeda and others, the jihad now seeps into Syria, where Christians are experiencing a level of persecution unprecedented in the nation’s modern history. Likewise, some 100,000 Christian Copts have fled their native Egypt since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime; and in northern regions of Nigeria, where the jihadi group Boko Haram has been slaughtering Christians, up to 95 % of the Christian population has fled.

Meanwhile, the “big news” concerning the Muslim world in the month of February—the news that flooded the mainstream media and had U.S. politicians, beginning with President Obama, flustered, angry, and full of regret—was that copies of the Koran in Afghanistan were burned by U.S. soldiers because imprisoned Muslim inmates were using them “to facilitate extremist communications.”

News stories with links are collected by category; the first is “Church Attacks;” here are some of the entries:

Algeria: Armed men raided and ransacked a church formally recognized since 1958, dismantling the crucifix above the premises. The pastor and his family, trapped inside, feared that “they could kill us.” The pastor “has been repeatedly threatened and attacked since being ordained as pastor in 2007. In the summer of 2009 his wife was beaten and seriously injured by a group of unknown men. Then, in late 2011, heaps of trash were thrown over the compound walls while an angry mob shouted death threats.”

Egypt: Thousands of Muslims attacked a Coptic church, demanding the death of its pastor, who, along with “nearly 100 terrorized Copts sought refuge inside the church, while Muslim rioters were pelting the church with stones in an effort to break into the church, assault the Copts and torch the building.” They did this because a Christian girl who, according to Islamic law, automatically became a Muslim when her father converted to Islam, fled and was rumored to be hiding in the church. …

Kazakhstan: A new report notes that “Churches are being raided, leaders fined and Christian literature confiscated as the Kazakh authorities enforce new laws intended further to restrict religious freedom in the country.” …

Nigeria: A Muslim suicide bomber forced his way into the grounds of a major church, killing two women and an 18-month-old child during Sunday morning service; some 50 people were injured in the blast. In a separate incident, Muslims detonated a bomb outside a church building, injuring five, one critically: “The bomb, planted in a parked car, was left by suspected members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.”

Pakistan: A dozen armed Muslims stormed a church, seriously wounding two Christians: one man was shot and is in critical condition, the other risks having his arm amputated; another church member was thrown from the roof, after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt. “The extremist raid was sparked by charges that [the] church was trying to evangelize Muslims in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. The community several times in the past has been the subject of assault and the pastor and his family the subject of death threats.” As usual, the police, instead of pursuing the perpetrators, have opened an investigation against the pastor and 20 other church members. …

Next comes “Dhimmitude.” Again, these are just some of the entries:

Bangladesh: Three American Christians were injured after their car was attacked by a Muslim mob that suspected they were converting Muslims into Christians: at least 200 angry locals chased the missionaries’ car and threw stones at it, leaving three with cuts from broken glass. …

Uganda: Not long after a pastor was attacked with acid and blinded by “Allahu-Akbar” screaming Muslims, his friend, another pastor, was shot at by “Islamic extremists,” in what is being described as “a new wave of persecution against Christians in Uganda.”

And, finally, a selection from “Murder, Apostasy Issues, and More.”

Egypt: Two Christians were killed “after a Muslim racketeer opened fire on them for refusing to pay him extortion money.” The local bishop “hold[s] security forces and local Muslims fully responsible for terrorizing the Copts living there, who are continuously being subjected to terror and kidnapping.” …

Nigeria: A 79-year-old Christian woman and choir singer was found dead at her home, her throat slit with a note in Arabic left on her chest reading: “We will get you soon,” a message believed to be directed at her son, a pastor at a local church.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Muslims beheaded a 26-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity who had worked for a Christian humanitarian organization that the terrorist organization had banned. He is at least the third apostate to Christianity to be beheaded in Somalia in recent months.

Turkey: A 12-year-old boy, Hussein, publicly professed his Christian faith by wearing a silver cross necklace in school. Accordingly, Muslim classmates began taunting and spitting on him. When the boy threatened to report one of the bullies, the bully’s father threatened to kill him. His religion teacher beat him severely: “Like in most Islamic countries, students of all faiths are required to attend Islamic studies in school. Those who refuse to recite the Koran and Islamic prayers are often beaten by the teacher. And so it was for Hussein. He said he was punished regularly with a two-foot long rod because he wouldn’t say the Islamic Shahada.”

Another month of persecution has brought, as far as I can tell, another month of silence from America’s Christian churches. My own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America, takes positions on all sorts of issues (invariably liberal ones), but I can find nothing on the ELCA web site relating to persecution of Christians. On the other hand, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict features rather prominently:

Our most immediate and urgent concern is for the cessation of human rights abuses against the Palestinians, because of the Israeli occupation. These abuses include detentions without trial, the closing of schools, denial of access to health care, deportations, and the use of live ammunitions and plastic bullets in response to non-life-threatening situations.

This brutal conflict has taken hundreds of Palestinian lives and caused untold suffering.

The ELCA’s statement doesn’t seem to have been updated since 1998, but this Peace Not Walls campaign is more recent:

The Peace Not Walls campaign seeks to connect ELCA members to their Lutheran sisters and brothers in Jordan and the Holy Land. Focused on the three “A”s of Accompaniment, Awareness-building, and Advocacy, the campaign seeks to implement the ELCA’s Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine , especially by accompanying and listening to our companions there so we can know what we can do together. This is the lens by which we encounter the complexities of this blessed but bruised Holy Land.

You can learn more about contributing to “affordable housing for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem,” too. But about the Christians who are being murdered and driven from their homes all around the Muslim world, not a word.

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