Persecution of Christians and Attacks on Christianity ‘Rarely Reported by the Media Anymore’ is Documented in Gatestone Institute Report

  • In 2018 alone, 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols (crucifixes, icons, statues) were registered in France.
  • “I went to the police with eight pages full of threats…. The police advised me to delete my picture from my website…. It’s strange isn’t it: I’m not doing anything wrong, why would I need to hide? I live in a free country.” — cruxnow.com. March 14, 2019; The Netherlands.
  • An Iranian female asylum seeker was sarcastically informed in her rejection letter that “You affirmed in your…[Interview Record] that Jesus is your saviour, but then claimed that He would not be able to save you from the Iranian regime. It is therefore considered that you have no conviction in your faith and your belief in Jesus is half-hearted.” — Daily Mail, March 24, 2019; United Kingdom.

When it comes to violence between Muslims and non-Muslims, March news was dominated by the Christchurch massacres in New Zealand, where, on March 15, an Australian man killed 51 Muslims in two mosques. A statistical report that did some number-crunching, however, found that “a Christian living in a majority Muslim country is 143 times more likely to be killed by a Muslim for being a Christian than a Muslim is likely to be killed by a non-Muslim in a Western country for being what he is.”

The report — citing that “at least 4,305 Christians … were murdered by Muslims because of their faith in 2018” and that “300 million Christians, overwhelmingly in the majority-Muslim countries, were subjected to violence” — refers to the persecution of Christians by Muslims as “the most egregious example of human right violations in today’s world. The report also found other, similar disparities. In France, for example, “Frenchmen are exactly ten times more likely to be murdered by a Muslim than a Muslim being killed by a non-Muslim terrorist anywhere in the Western world.”

The Massacre of Christians

Nigeria: As in previous months, dozens of Christians were massacred and churches destroyed at the hands of Muslims in the West Africa nation. A partial list follows:

On March 4, Muslims slaughtered 23 Christian villagers. “It was bad,” said a local in reference to the incident. “Some were killed by gunshots and some by machete hacks!… The displaced persons are scattered all over…”

Three days later, the Muslim terrorists launched another raid in the same area during which three people were killed. Commenting on that attack, a local pastor said, “Even today, they attacked. One of my members came to report that his father was killed, and another member said his son-in-law was also killed.”

On March 11 Muslim tribesmen slaughtered more than 70 Christians and injured 28 in another region in Kaduna State. According to eyewitnesses, the terrorists were “torching houses, shooting and hacking down anything that moved.” About 100 houses were destroyed in the attack. Another report noted that “[t]he victims included women and children. According to survivors, their assailants divided into three groups; one group was shooting, another set fire to homes as people ran away, and the third waited in the bush to intercept fleeing villagers.”

On March 16, Muslim herdsmen killed another 10 Christians in southern Kaduna state, “bringing the lives lost in the past five weeks to 140 with 160 houses destroyed,” according to the report. “We were all asleep in our various homes when at about 4 a.m., we heard gunshots everywhere in my village,” said a local Christian. “Everyone ran out of their homes to escape from the Fulani herdsmen. Three hours after the herdsmen left, those of us who survived the attack returned to the village to find that [30 of] our houses were destroyed and 10 of our villagers killed.”

On March 14, Boko Haram jihadis attacked another predominantly Christian village. Although most people managed to flee into the bush, the jihadis killed one person, kidnapped two sisters, and burned down a church and six homes. A church leader said the local pastor had called him soon after the raid: “I could hear desperation in his voice, just coming out of the bush. His voice sounded completely demoralized as he was saying only God… We don’t know what else to do! There’s no security presence here.” The church leader further “regrets that these attacks are rarely reported on by the local media anymore. As a result, their people continue to suffer in silence, with minimal help from others.”

On March 23, right after “beating, raping and killing a 19-year-old Christian woman,” Muslims attacked two predominantly Christian villages, and burned down 28 Christian homes and two churches. Joy Danlami and her younger sister and brother, 16 and 14 respectively, were ambushed while walking home from a Christian community feast; the two younger siblings survived with machete and gunshot wounds. According to their father, “The armed herdsmen chased them with dangerous weapons. Joy’s nose and face was battered, and then she was sexually assaulted by the herdsmen before being killed. She was shot.”

After finding the slaughtered body of a kidnapped Catholic priest who had been abducted two weeks earlier, two other church leaders were also kidnapped on March 25. One of the men, the Rev. Emmanuel Haruna of the Evangelical Church Winning All, was seized at gunpoint outside his church. Earlier, in 2016 he had spoken out against Muslim tribesmen raids on Christian communities: “Fulani herdsmen take their cattle to farms of our church members and destroy their crops, and security agents have not been able to take measures to stop them.” The report adds that “It is estimated by the United Nations Centre for Peace and Disarmament that of the 500 million illegal weapons that flooded into West Africa after the Libyan crisis in 2011, 350 million (70%) ended up in Nigeria, supplying the predominantly Muslim herders with added teeth in their campaign against Christian farmers.”

On Sunday, March 10, “Boko Haram Suicide bombers tried to enter a Catholic Church service,” says a report:

“The two bombers, who were women, tried to enter the church through a clinic before being stopped, and then detonating the bombs a short distance outside the church. Despite the two bombs going off, only one person other than the bombers was reportedly injured….. It is very likely that the two bombers were captives of Boko Haram who were forced to commit this attack. Boko Haram is known for kidnapping women and children and forcing them to act as suicide bombers for their attacks. In 2017, between January and August, UNICEF reported on at least 83 children having been used by the group as suicide bombers.”

Democratic Republic of Congo: “Islamic militants,” notes a report, “attacked the dominantly Christian village of Kalau in the North Kivu province.” Six Christians, including three women and a 9-year-old child, were slaughtered. The rest of the villagers, “an estimated 470 families evacuated their homes following the incident.” The terrorists are part of the Allied Democratic Forces, “a group that was designed to overthrow the Ugandan government in the 90’s and replace it with an Islamic regime. The group has been known for associating with other terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda. They are responsible for thousands of deaths…”

Attacks on Churches

Ethiopia: In a rampage that lasted five hours, large Muslim mobs shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) attacked ten churches, “destroying one and burning the property inside all the structures,” notes a report. The attacks, which were apparently sparked by a false rumor that a local mosque had been attacked, occurred in “a predominantly Muslim town with nearly all Christians there having moved from surrounding villages for work reasons, creating an underlying tension.” Several Christians were injured and required hospital treatment. One of the desecrated churches has since been vandalized again, and its Christians threatened and harassed. Although only one church was destroyed during the rampage, “the other nine church buildings were not set ablaze only because of the risk to neighboring Muslim-owned properties,” the report stated. Instead, “[t]he contents of all the churches were removed from the buildings and set on fire on the street…. Huge amounts of property were destroyed, including Bibles, song books, instruments, benches and chairs.”

The report incorrectly refers to these attacks as “unprecedented.” Last year, for example, 19 churches were torched — and 15 Christian priests killed, four burned alive — during Muslim uprisings in the east, where most of Ethiopia’s 33% Muslim population is centered. Similarly, in 2011, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”

Sudan: A report by the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), a UK based NGO, found that 72 churches were either torched or demolished in the Nuba Mountains region in 2018. Elaborating on these developments, a separate report noted that the

“Nuba Mountains is home to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North, a rebel group fighting the oppression of the Sudanese National government. Due to this, the Sudanese government has been committing genocide against the people living in the Nuba Mountains for years.

“They indiscriminately bomb the region, trying to clear it of the rebel army. However, they often just kill and maim the local civilian population who has nothing to do with the fight. They also destroy homes and churches in the attacks. The people living in the Nuba Mountains are primarily traditional believers or Christians. This also contributes to the attacks, as Bashir, the countries president, believes that the country is only for Muslims ever since South Sudan gained its independence.”

Sudan is considered the sixth-worst nation in the world in which to be Christian.

Germany: Four separate churches were vandalized or torched in March. “In this country,” the report explained, “there is a creeping war against everything that symbolizes Christianity…. Crosses are broken, altars smashed, Bibles set on fire, baptismal fonts overturned, and the church doors smeared with Islamic expressions such as ‘Allahu Akbar.'” In the Alps and Bavaria alone, around 200 churches were attacked and many crosses broken: “Police are currently dealing with church desecrations again and again. The perpetrators are often youthful rioters with a migration background.”

France: On Sunday, March 17, arsonists torched the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris soon after midday mass. Such incidences have become prevalent in France, where on average two churches are desecrated every day. In the previous month, February, vandals plundered and used human excrement to draw a cross on the Notre-Dame des Enfants Church in Nimes and desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur. In 2018 alone, 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols (crucifixes, icons, statues) were registered in France.

Algeria: Throughout March, Algerians protested against a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. In an attempt to exploit the unrest, al-Qaeda publicized new content, calling for Sharia governance in the North African nation, and referred to those protesting against Bouteflika as the “sons of Islam,” while presenting Bouteflika as “loyal to the Jews and Christians.” According to the report, “Terrorist groups have a long history of attempting to take advantage of political unrest to capitalize upon and increase hardline Islamic sentiment. Christians are often used in their propaganda as part of their efforts.” In reality, nevertheless, “Algerian Christians have faced heavy persecution at the hands of the government.”

On March 3, in fact, the French Parliament “officially opened an inquiry into the persecution of Christians in Algeria,” according to a separate report:

“The inquiry specifically points to Algeria’s closure of churches and legal proceedings held against Christian leaders, including those who imported Christian books. Algeria uses building safety committees to shutter churches indefinitely. The authorities also create substantial obstacles for the opening of new churches, making it impossible and leaving Christians to worship in buildings intended for other uses. Algeria has cracked down against churches since 2017, increasingly forcing Christians out of the public sphere. The authorities have not only closed churches, but have also targeted Christian leaders. Algeria’s constitution provides for the freedom of worship but declares Islam to be the state religion. Insulting or offending Islam is considered a criminal offense. In addition to imprisonment, convicted Christians can also face hefty fines if convicted of blasphemy.”

KazakhstanPolice raided two unregistered churches on two consecutive Sundays. Several members were fined; one had to pay the rough equivalent of two months wages. Discussing these developments, a separate report says:

“Since 2011, when the government introduced a new religion law, Christians have faced heightened restrictions on meetings and ‘missionary activity.’ To obtain registration, churches are required to provide the names and addresses of at least 50 members, an impossibility for smaller congregations. Kazakhstan is officially a secular state; around 70% of the population are Muslim, with Christians comprising about 26%. Many Christians are from a Russian background and some are ethnic Kazakhs who have converted from Islam. Protestant Christians, and especially those from a Muslim background, are viewed with great distrust.”

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SOURCE: Gatestone Institute, Raymond Ibrahim