It takes its cue from an indifferent world – A shameful Silence
By David E. Kaplan
Last year, writes Raymond Ibrahim, “Christians were persecuted more than ever before in the modern era — and 2019 is expected to be worse.”
Raised in the USA to Egyptian parents, Ibrahim today is a widely published author and Middle East and Islam specialist.
He was the first to expose in 2012, an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
Raymond Ibrahim is sounding ALARM BELLS about the plight of Christians in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Too few hear them ringing!
Writing this March in the Gatestone Institute, Ibrahim reveals that in 2018, 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, according to Open Doors USA in its recently published World Watch List 2019 (WWL) of the top 50 nations where Christians are persecuted.
This translates on average, to 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.
Why the deafening silence?
Additionally, in 2018, “2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned”, and “1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.”
In 2018, 215 million Christians faced persecution and the prognosis according to Open Doors, is that this year – 2019 – over 245 million will suffer – a 14% increase, that represents 30 million more people abused for their faith.
This means that “One in nine Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide.”
Worse for Woman
Another frightening trend is the “shocking persecution against women.”
“In many places,” reveals the report, “they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman! Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community.”
Last year’s WWL provided more specific numbers:
“At least six women every day are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim man under the threat of death for their Christian faith…”
Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Sharia.
In Afghanistan (ranked #2), “Christianity is not permitted to exist” because it “is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion.”
Similarly, in Somalia, (ranked #3),
Al-Shabaab’s primary aim is to rid Somalia of all Christianity. In 2014 when their leader Ahmed Godane died, they appointed a new leader.
Despite Pope Francis’ statement that Africa is a continent of hope and his call to engage in dialogue against the attacks that have recently occurred, there is not enough being done currently to protect Somali’s Christians. When they are not allowed to express their beliefs to the government without being killed or to celebrate holidays and customs publicly that are Christian, they are being stripped from their basic human rights from society.
Being forced to hide their beliefs from the country and having to live in fear is not an acceptable way to live. Pope Francis is correct in saying that meaningful dialogue is important to solving this problem, but in the meantime, these Christians are being killed regularly, and a change needs to be come soon.
In Iran (ranked #9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” While worship is permitted under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment.
“There are many reports,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, “that this has contributed to the government’s ever-increasing dependence on hardline Islamic ayatollahs, who naturally see Christianity as a threat to their power. For this reason, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an increase in Christian persecution.”
It has become increasingly common for authorities to arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles.
Under Pakistan‘s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death.
Only recently, Pakistan’s supreme court struck down the death sentence for blasphemy handed down to a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, in a long-delayed, landmark decision that freed her after nine years on death row and ignited countrywide protests from Islamist groups.
Christian farm labourer Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of five, was sentenced to hang for blasphemy in 2010. She had angered fellow Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day. When they demanded she convert to Islam, she refused, prompting a mob to later allege that she had insulted the prophet Mohammed.
In Libya (#4), Yemen (#8), Syria (#11), and Iraq (#13) war has given rise to Islamic militancy and general lawlessness, both of which prey on Christian minorities.
While in Egypt, President el-Sisi has publicly expressed his commitment to protecting Christians, his government’s actions and extremist groups’ continued Christian persecution attacks on individuals and churches, have left Christians feeling insecure and extremely cautious.
Some recent examples:
In December 2017, a gunman opened fire in Cairo at a church and a nearby shop owned by Christians. Eleven people died as a result of the attack.
In July 2018, a mob attacked Christians in a village in Minya, when Muslim residents were angered by a Facebook post they believed to be blasphemous.
Many Christian girls and women have become the victims of sexual harassment, abduction and rape. In just one month (April 2018), at least seven cases of abduction were documented.
In early November 2018, Islamic State militants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians from a monastery in Minya, killing eight and injuring more than 13 people.
According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.
Home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnapping of girls by Islamist extremists, intent on forcing them to marry Muslims.
“Michael Jones” – not his real name – a Cairo-based businessman and evangelical Christian, told The Guardian there was a gulf between statements from the national leadership regarding the Christian community and actions at a local level.
“You hear President el-Sisi speaking about Christians with a lot of respect and sympathy. Just a few days ago, he made a beautiful, emotional speech when inaugurating our new cathedral. It looked like an amazing affirmation that the state is supporting the church and the Christian community, and doing everything it can to guarantee our welfare,” said ‘Jones’.
“Then you have the local authorities in villages and towns – police, judges, business owners – and it’s evident that many of them are infected with a rejection of Christianity. You see this in daily practices.”
BDS – are you hearing the cries and calls for salvation or are you callously ignoring?
The Yazidis – “We harmed nobody”
This ancient faith that has survived for centuries by living apart in a tight-knit community is facing extinction. There are less than a million Yazidis worldwide, and most are in the Iraqi heartland.
Facing extinction – they see their fate inextricably linked to the wider world.
The Yazidi narrative reveals surviving 74 genocides throughout their tormented history, but the worst, Yazidis today will say, is ISIS “that is trying to eradicate our faith and culture.” Acknowledged by the United Nations as genocide, the ISIS campaign may have dealt “the most brutal blow.”
On 3 August 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Thousands were imprisoned or killed, and close to 100,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar. The UN referred to the attack as “a genocide”.
Women have paid the highest price when ISIS attacked. Close to 7,000 women have been sold as sex slaves. They have been brutalised by ISIS fighters, many of them repeatedly victims of sexual assaults. They were forced to convert to Islam, and many were forcibly married off to ISIS fighters. Women who tried to escape were often punished with gang rape.
Thousands of women and children, down to the age of nine, were repeatedly sold in slave markets in Syrian cities where ISIS had a strong presence. Boys from the age of seven years and upwards were separated from their mothers and put in camps where they were brainwashed and trained to become child soldiers.
In an appeal to the world, a priest, Sheikh Ismael Bahri, catches sight of a rare group of foreign journalists and wails:
“All humane countries of the world must see our situation. We’ve not harmed anyone. All we want is help and protection.”
While the Yazidis’ plight has moved some countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany that offered refuge to a limited number of victims, notably the women brutally enslaved by ISIS, most the world remains silent.
“We feel threatened here, we don’t have a future here,” cried out Tuli Bahri Evo, whose family crossed the border from Syria where the Yazidis’ presence is also dwindling.
Alarmed by a potential exodus which could endanger the very survival of this tiny community, Yazidi leaders are begging the world to help them stay in Iraq.
“We need our own Yazidi force so we can protect ourselves,” the Yazidis’ religious leader, Baba Sheikh says. “The world is only talking about Yazidis but doing nothing.”
Wake up world – the Yazidis are an “Endangered Species”!
Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned – video
Feature picture: Yazidi Kurdish women chant slogans during a protest against the Islamic State group’s invasion of Sinjar city, in Dohuk, Iraq, August 3, 2015. (AP/Seivan M. Salem)