Teams of trained killers disguised as refugees were sent by the Islamic State (IS) into U.N. refugee camps to kill Christians, including “in their beds,” and to kidnap young girls to sell or use as slaves. This came out, according to a report, on October 24, soon after an IS operative “got cold feet and renounced jihad after witnessing Christians helping out other refugees within the camp. He then revealed that he had been sent with an Islamist hit squad to eliminate Christians as part of the hate group’s ideological drive to wipe the religion off the map.” The report also quoted an aid worker saying:
They’re like a mafia. People are even killed inside the camps, and the refugees are afraid to say if they saw somebody get killed. If you ask them, they’ll say, “I don’t know, I was asleep.”… The camps are dangerous because they have IS, Iraqi militias and Syrian militias. It’s another place for gangs…. They’re killing inside the camps, and they’re buying and selling ladies and even girls.
The rest of October’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Islamic State Slaughter of Christians
Syria: The Islamic State executed three Christian men who, along with 250-300 other Christians, were abducted in an earlier raid on an Assyrian Christian village. In the video of the execution, the three Christians appeared on their knees, dressed in the usual orange jumpsuits; they were then shot dead by three masked executioners. Before being killed, each of the Christians identified himself by name and village of origin. The president of the Alliance church in Syria described one of the slain as “a great man of God who took a risk by staying in his village to take care of his people and to encourage them in the Lord.” In the same video, IS threatened to execute the remaining Christian hostages unless a ransom—as much as $100,000 USD per hostage—was met.
Libya: A group claiming affiliation with the Islamic State announced the beheading of a Christian man of South Sudanese origin who had been living and working in Libya since 1989. It is unclear when the execution took place. An IS masked figure appears in the video and accuses South Sudan of mistreating Muslims. He does this despite South Sudan having an interim constitution that defines itself as a secular state—unlike Sudan, which rules according to Sharia and oppresses non-Muslims: “Oh Christians in South … [there is] no safety or shelter for you except that of the Islamic State,” the masked jihadi says. The Christian is then forced down to his knees, his throat slit and his head cut off.
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Indonesia: Several churches were destroyed by Muslim rioters and local authorities in Aceh. On October 9, hundreds of Muslims marched to the local authority’s office and demanded that all unregistered churches in Aceh be closed. Even though the authorities agreed, on October 13, a mob of approximately 700 Muslims, some armed with axes and machetes, torched a local church. When the mob moved to a second church, violent clashes with Christians trying to protect their churches broke out. One person, believed to be a Christian, was killed and several injured. About 8,000 Christians were displaced. Extremist Islamic leaders afterwards issued messages: “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!” In response, local authorities demolished three churches (one Catholic, two Protestant) on October 19, and vowed to destroy many more in the months to come.
Sudan: Two churches were destroyed in separate incidents. On October 17, a Lutheran church was burned down in Gadaref. The building was completely destroyed, including the furniture and Bibles inside. On October 22, in Omdurman, after giving the congregation only 72 hours’ notice and citing “redevelopment,” authorities demolished the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan. The church had stood on the same location for over 30 years. According to local sources, Muslims set fire to the building before officials ordered bulldozers to tear down the rest of it. “The strange thing is that the church was destroyed but the mosque was still standing in its place! This shows us many things…We were asking them, ‘Where are our rights?’” a Lutheran church leader said.
Syria: On the night of October 25, a mortar shell hit the Latin church of Aleppo, dedicated to Saint Francis, as mass was being celebrated. Launched from areas held by anti-Assad forces, the grenade hit the roof and exploded outside. Seven people were injured. According to Bishop Georges, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo, “It was around 10 before six in the evening, there were about 400 people in church and the time had come for communion… If the grenade had exploded inside there would have been a massacre. Instead, only seven worshippers were injured, not in a serious way, when rubble fell down and the roof was damaged.”
Iraq: At least eight historic and ancient Christian churches in Mosul were used as animal slaughterhouses by the Islamic State during Bakr-Eid, the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice. The St. Ephrem Syriac Orthodox Church, which was seized by the Islamic State (IS) a year ago, was one of them. In June, IS had announced that the church would be reopened as a “mosque of the mujahideen,” even though the ancient church was later apparently deemed suitable only for slaughtering animals.
Germany: On October 20 in Cologne, eight young men appeared in court and were charged with robbing churches and schools to finance the Islamic State’s jihad in Syria. The central figure in the gang, of Moroccan background, had also uploaded a YouTube video encouraging Muslims to join IS. When the eight young men had earlier broken into churches, they had stolen collection boxes, crosses, and other objects “dedicated to church services and religious veneration,” the prosecutors alleged. How much of the money actually reached the Islamic State is unknown.
Slaughter and Persecution of Muslim Converts to Christianity
Uganda: Muslims, angry at a former Muslim for converting to Christianity, killed his wife, a mother of eight, including five ranging in age from 9 to 17. On October 19, men had come knocking on the family’s door looking for the apostate. His wife told them he was away, according to her children who were present. One of the men said, “Your husband has followed the religion of his brother [Christianity], and we had warned you people to stop these activities, but our message has landed on deaf ears.” Next, “[t]he attackers dragged our mother outside the house as she screamed and cried for help,” said her 13-year-old. The Christian woman was later found in a pool of her own blood 100 meters away. Rushed to a hospital, she was declared dead on arrival. A few weeks earlier, her husband’s brother had also been killed after erupting tempers cut short a religious debate with Islamic scholars.
Nigeria: A former Muslim who converted to Christianity revealed his all-too-typical experiences—including how the jihadi organization Boko Haram tried to kill him, burned his stores and his father’s homes, and slaughtered one of his cousins, a college student:
A few months after my conversion to Christianity, I received several threats and warnings from the insurgents, telling me to revert to my former religion or face dire consequences. I received written threats saying I could only run but could not hide, which I took to the Police and they told me they would do something about it, but nothing was done… I conducted my own investigations. One of my neighbors whose brother received the same notes because of his conversion a few years ago was killed by an unknown killer…. My family members and I have been marked for death, and everyone in the community denied ever knowing me or my family…
Kazakhstan: On October 9, a court began hearing a case against a Muslim convert to Christianity, facing as much as ten years in jail on charges of “inciting religious hatred.” A member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the 54-year-old man was led to the courtroom in handcuffs. Several witnesses in the case reportedly testified that during Bible study sessions he had expressed ideas that sounded “insulting to Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad.” His case is part of what Christian advocacy groups view as a pretext to persecute Christians minorities, especially converts, or “apostates,” in the Muslim majority nation.
Dhimmitude in Egypt
An Egyptian teacher of Arabic whipped a 10-year-old Coptic Christian boy with 40 lashes in a Cairo school. The doctors who later examined the boy’s wounds “could not believe that a teacher could do this,” said the boy’s father. On October 21, during the Coptic student’s last class of the day, Arabic, the teacher told the pupils to remain silent until they had copied all the Arabic phrases on the board, which were likely derived from the Koran. When Babawi, the Christian boy, asked the student in front of him to move his head so he could see the blackboard, the teacher proceeded to lock the door and flog him 40 times with a large electrical cord all over his body. The boy passed out and was found drenched in his own blood. Later he was found to have severe damage to his bones and kidney. The boy’s father filed a police report and spoke to school authorities, but, he said, “Until now, no legal steps have been taken against the teacher.”
In late October, a Christian man was abducted and tortured for refusing to convert to Islam. Fayiz Fouad, a Christian, was kidnapped as he was returning from a visit to the St. George Coptic Orthodox Monastery in Qena. He was held hostage for three days. During that time, he was tortured in an “ugly manner,” according to a rights activist: “The story isn’t merely about kidnapping; it has an ISIS component to it.” His family managed to release him with the help of an influential village elder—and the payment of 50,000 Egyptian pounds, or $6,225 USD. According to the rights activist, “The issue of kidnapped Copts continues in Nag Hammadi, despite the fact that Egyptian Security knows where these kidnappers are situated and their identities, and yet remains silent about their crimes.”
In Minya, a group, still unknown, broke into a Christian household on October 21 and snatched a five-year-old child from his bed. They threatened to slaughter him unless a 200,000 Egyptian pound ransom (more than $25,000) was received. The child’s father went to police but they refused to help: “Although I gave the police all the details of the call, the cellphone number which called me, but they still didn’t help us, they didn’t even follow up the phone call, try to identify the caller or arrest the kidnappers.” Unable to raise the large amount they asked, he pleaded with the kidnappers and they agreed to release the child for 45,000 Egyptian pounds (nearly $6,000).
On October 5, after a Christian student stood up to a Muslim bully, around 200 Muslims rioted in the town of Samalout, in the Minya Governorate. At least ten Christians were hospitalized; several shops and homes were attacked and destroyed. The attacks continued until police arrived and forced the Muslim rioters to retreat. Even though the identities of many of the assailants were known to police, no arrests were made.
Dhimmitude in Bangladesh
A Christian priest survived an attempt on his life by three Muslims who had pretended to be interested in Christianity to gain entrance to his house. Luke Sarker, the 52-year-old pastor of Faith Bible Church, suffered injuries when the men, aged between 25-30, tried to slit his throat with a knife at his home in the district of Pabna. The story had begun a month earlier, when one of the attackers contacted the pastor and said he wanted to convert. “I cannot convert you,” Sarker had said, “but you can come to me to know about Christianity.” The following day two men came and he preached the Gospel to them as his wife served them tea. “They said they liked whatever I shared with them. When they left my home, they said they would like to come again to my house. I appreciated and welcomed their forthcoming visit, because telling about Jesus is my work.” Soon the two plus another came unannounced. The pastor took them in: “I spent around half an hour with them discussing about Christianity. Suddenly, one of them grabbed my neck just under the chin. I tried to shout but could not. I was groaning and tried to bite the fingers of the grabber. The other two persons tried to slit my throat with a knife.” Sarker’s family rushed in to help their father fight off the Muslims; his wife shouted for help, and when a neighbor came in, the assassins fled the scene.
Separately, on October 15, about 100 Muslims attacked a Christian family in Dhaka and forced them to abandon their three-room house. “They wanted to shoot me. They told us that they would kill us if we had opposed the expropriation of our house,” one of them said. The intruders were accompanied by police, “who witnessed the expropriation and did nothing to stop it. We lost our possessions, money, and we’re out of the house.” “I visited the place occupied by Muslims,” said Nirmal Rozario, general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association: “They are committing a grave injustice against the Christian community. In Bangladesh, Christians are a weak minority and this is why Muslims are attacking us.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.