by Raymond Ibrahim
March 27, 2013 at 5:00 am
The year 2013 began with reports indicating that wherever Christians live side by side with large numbers of Muslims, the Christians are under attack. As one report said, “Africa, where Christianity spread fastest during the past century, now is the region where oppression of Christians is spreading fastest.” Whether in Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, or Tanzania—attacks on Christians are as frequent as they are graphic.
As for the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, a new study by the Pew Forum finds that “just 0.6 percent of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians now live in the Middle East and North Africa. Christians make up only 4% of the region’s inhabitants, drastically down from 20% a century ago, and marking the smallest regional Christian minority in the world. Fully 93% of the region is Muslim and 1.6% is Jewish.”
How Christianity has been all but eradicated from the region where it was born is made clear in yet another report on the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, Egypt’s Christian Copts. Due to a “climate of fear and uncertainty,”Christian families are leaving Egypt in large numbers. Along with regular church attacks, the situation has gotten to the point that, according to one Coptic priest, “Salafis meet Christian girls in the street and order them to cover their hair. Sometimes they hit them when they refuse.” Another congregation leader said “With the new [Sharia-heavy] constitution, the new laws that are expected, and the majority in parliament I don’t believe we can be treated on an equal basis.”
Elsewhere, Christians are not allowed to flee. In eastern Syria, for example, 25,000 Christians, including Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Chaldeans and Armenians, were prevented from fleeing due to a number of roadblocks set up by armed Islamic militia groups, who deliberately target Christians for robbery and kidnapping-for-ransom—then often slaughtering their victims.
Categorized by theme, January’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:
Egypt: Reminiscent of the 2011 New Year’s Eve church bombing in Alexandria, which left over 23 Christians dead, a car packed with explosives was discovered by a Coptic church celebrating Christmas [which is in January] and was neutralized before it could detonate. As patrols seized the explosives-packed car, another car with masked men in it sped away. Separately, hundreds of Muslims chanting Islamic slogans in the village of Fanousdestroyed a social services building belonging to a Coptic Church. Security forces arrived only after the building had been completely destroyed. According to the AINA report, the social services building “had all the necessary government permits; it had a reception hall on the first floor and a kindergarten on the second. But the Muslims insisted that it would become a church. Mosques in surrounding areas had earlier called on Muslims, through their megaphones, to go and help their Muslim brethren in Fanous, because Christians were “building a church.” Hundreds of other Muslim protesters rioted outside yet another church in Upper Egypt; on claims that a Christian man had sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl, they threw stones at the building. Four stores owned by Copts were torched. Police are investigating the accusations against the merchant.
Nigeria: A total of 30 Christians were slaughtered in two separate attacks carried out by armed men ahead of the New Year, in the Muslim-majority north: on Sunday December 30, 15 people were killed when armed jihadis stormed a church and opened fire on worshippers. The night before, Muslim terrorists broke into targeted homes and slaughtered 15 other Christians in their sleep. “The victims were selected because they were all Christians, some of whom had moved into the neighbourhood from other parts of the city hit by Boko Haram attacks,” said a relief worker. Meanwhile, Nigerian president Jonathan revealed that Boko Haram has enablers even within his own government: “The saboteurs in government condoning terrorism by Boko Haram, you do not love this nation,” he said. “Those of you who leak secrets to Boko Haram do not love this nation.”
Pakistan: On Christmas day, “when Christian worshipers were coming out of different Churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men,” according to a Pakistan Christian Post report. Several were shot or beaten relentlessly. Much of this appears to have been exacerbated by a fatwa, or an Islamic edict, that came out right before Christmas, saying that, “Christmas cannot be celebrated by Muslims because it is against the concept of monotheism in Islam.” Due to the subsequent chaos, Christians “were under siege from Christmas day and running out of food supplies and milk for children on fear of safety and security of life from further attacks of Muslim mob…. The news of this attack on Christians on Christmas Day was intentionally blocked by media and administration of capital city Islamabad.”
Russia: Security forces in a North Caucasus province on Sunday killed three Islamic militants suspected ofplanning attacks on church services during the Russian Orthodox Christmas holiday in January. Security forces tried to stop a van in a Muslim-majority province but its occupants opened fire and, in the ensuing battle, were killed. Guns and ammunition were subsequently discovered in the van, indicating that the men could have been planning attacks on churches during the services that marked the Russian Orthodox Christmas. “Deadly exchanges of gunfire between police and suspected militants at road checkpoints are common in Russia’s North Caucasus, a string of provinces hit by an Islamist insurgency rooted in two separatist wars in Chechnya,” the report added.