On November 15 in Iran, Zaman Fadaei, a convert to Christianity, was lashed 80 times because he sipped communion wine. He was whipped at Evin Prison, where he has been serving a six-year prison sentence for organizing a house church and “promoting Zionist Christianity.” Pictured: Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. (Image source: Ehsan Iran/Wikimedia Commons)
The following are among the abuses inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of November 2020:
The Slaughter of Christians
Indonesia: On Nov. 27, Islamic terrorists beheaded a Christian priest and killed three other Christians by slitting their throats in Lembantongoa village. During the raid, a Salvation Army church and six Christian homes were also torched. While acknowledging that an Islamic militant group was responsible, authorities claimed that the attack was not “religiously motivated.” One human rights researcher said that this “latest strike was a ‘clear escalation‘ of violence against Christians.”
Democratic Republic of Congo: From November 20-25, in a number of villages, members of the Islamic State-linked Allied Democratic Forces slaughteredapproximately 20 Christians. According to a clergyman who lost his family in the massacres:
“They tried to force some of our Christians to convert to Islam. They also tried to force my wife and our four children to convert to Islam, but when they refused to convert, they shot my wife in the head while our four children were cut into pieces with a Somali sword.”
The clergyman, who was not present during the attacks, added that “the rebel militants intend to establish an Islamist state ruled by sharia [Islamic law].” Two days after the raids, a journalist reported that the people were still in a state of terror and bewilderment:
“There was a throng of Christians flooding the streets in a helpless situation, as well as radical Muslim extremists surrounding five churches. Ten girls had been raped and 15 girls abducted from the Anglican Church and Roman Catholic Church, with 14 Christians admitted to a hospital in critical condition with injuries to their heads, and others with fractured hands and legs due to the use of guns, machete, clubs, Somali swords and axes.”
According to the report, there have been many such attacks on Christians in the weeks and months leading to this one, including where “more than 50 Christians who refused to recant their Christian faith were killed, especially women and children.”
“Islamic militants turned a village soccer field in northern Mozambique into an execution ground when they beheaded more than 50 people during three days of savage violence between Friday, November 6, and Sunday, November 8…. In one attack, gunmen shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ stormed into Nanjaba village on November 6, firing weapons and setting homes on fire. Two villagers were beheaded and several women abducted….. [A]nyone who refuses to support the jihadists and embrace their beliefs is attacked, and their property set on fire. Thus Christians who refuse to deny Christ are among the victims. The attacks are among the worst seen in recent years in the brutal campaign by militant Islamists to establish an Islamist caliphate in the oil and gas-rich Cabo Delgado province. Desperate people are flooding into the Christian mission stations for protection….. More than 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 left homeless in the region since 2017.”
Ethiopia: On Nov. 1, a few hours after federal troops “withdrew unexpectedly,” to quote an eyewitness, 60 armed terrorists stormed a school. Announcing that they now “controlled the area,” they proceeded to hunt down and massacre at least 54ethnic Amharas, “mostly Christian women, children and elderly.” According to the report,
“In the latest attack targeting ethnic Amhara, who are mainly Christian, some survivors were able to flee to a nearby forest, while the assailants rounded up women, children and elderly who were unable to run away, before shooting at the defenseless group…. One victim found the bullet-riddled bodies of his brother, sister-in-law and three children in the school compound. Witnesses said that the attackers dragged some victims from their homes to the school, and reported that a school building and 120 houses were burned down…. This is the latest deadly assault in a spate of massacres in the past month in Ethiopia, which have left several dozen dead, apparently targeting the mainly Christian Amhara ethnic group.”
Nigeria: A number of people were killed in the ongoing jihad on Nigeria’s Christians. A sampling follows:
“On the day of the shooting, Yasmeen left the house around 10:30 and passed Ishrat Bibi [her Muslim neighbor, later described as “a bully and contemptuous woman”] who was holding a stick and began to fight and beat her neighbour. Two months earlier the two had quarreled over the water drain in the street.
“At one point Ishrat Bibi called her two sons, Hassan Shakoor Butt and Khizar Shakoor Butt who, having come out with their guns, fired 20-21 bullets at Yasmeen. The latter’s son Usman came out of the house and seeing his lifeless mother went to help her, but he too was hit by shots.
“Shabeer Masih [the husband/father of the slain] says that his son lived for about twenty minutes, asking for help, but no one in the village lifted a finger; a car passed by, but no one tried to take the son to the hospital. Usman had become the father of a little girl just a week ago and had another three-year-old daughter. ‘The whole family was very friendly and had good relations with the people of the village,’ adds Shabeer crying.”
Mariyam Kashif, a social activist and Catholic teacher, denounced the murders as “a huge example of intolerance and hatred that spreads against Christians.” She said that this animus is nourished in the public school system, where “a reform of the curriculum is needed to eliminate all aspects of hatred and contempt. Only in this way will we be able to teach and enlarge hearts, changing the mentality of our society.”
Austria: A Muslim terror attack targeting a Catholic youth group was thwarted at the last minute. According to the November 27 report:
“[The] killer wanted to cause a bloodbath of the Catholic youth group … during a prayer evening in Vienna. The Islamist failed, however, because of a door that was locked by a timer … 17 children and young people belonging to a Catholic youth group escaped a catastrophe by a hair!… Seconds later, the assassin was shot down by… officials in front of the city’s oldest church….. The 17 young people escaped the attacker by turning off the lights when the first shots were fired…. The young people stayed in the dark until 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday [Nov. 24]. Then the police gave the all-clear and the 17 boys and girls could go home.”
Death to Apostates and Blasphemers
Uganda: On November 23, Muslim relatives, including uncles and aunts, killedtheir own 6-year-old nephew because his father — the murderers’ brother, a former Islamic sheikh—had converted to Christianity and refused to return to Islam. Earlier that day, members of his extended family had a two hour meeting with the apostate, Emmanuel Hamuzah, 38, who repeatedly “refused their demand to renounce Christ.” Soon afterwards his uncle and four of his siblings came to and attacked Emmanuel outside his house. His young boy, Ibrahim Mohammad, 6, was outside with him. “You should renounce this Christian faith, which is a disgrace to our family,” they announced. “I refused to yield to their demand, and they started fighting me with kicks and blows,” Hamuzah later explained. “I tried to defend myself while the other attackers were stepping on my child’s neck, suffocating him.” The attackers fled when neighbors responded to the commotion, but his son died. The family, in fear of more reprisals, did not report the incident to police.
Two days earlier, on November 21, Muslims killed a Christian pastor and his 12-year-old son. Pastor Wilson Niwamanya and his son Peter were returning home after having delivered Christian literature along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo when four “Muslim extremists” armed with blunt objects and a horn-hilted dagger known as a Somali sword stopped them. According to another Christian worker, who was present but escaped,
“When the four attackers emerged from the bush, they immediately caught hold of Pastor Niwamanya, saying, ‘This man must die for disrespecting our religion.’ The attackers began by beating them with blunt objects and thereafter used the sword and stabbed the young boy in the stomach. He died while the pastor and I tried to wrestle the attackers.”
Once other people on motorcycles began to appear, the attackers fled the scene. The pastor was rushed to a medical center where he later died from the wounds to his head. Earlier, and in the days leading to the attack, he had received threatening text messages, including an order to “stop giving people books that discredit Islam, and if you continue distributing these books, then you are risking your life.”
According to the report:
“Pastor Niwamanya, a well-known missionary in the area, had carried out Christian-Muslim debates in 2016, including one in which an Islamic leader openly rebuked him. Islamists began monitoring him after he appeared at an evangelistic event in Masaka in 2010 with evangelist Umar Mulinde, who suffered a horrific acid attack in 2011… Pastor Niwamanya’s lawyer, Isaac Sendegeya, was shot dead in July 2019 dead by unknown persons. He was 39. The widow of the deceased pastor has been receiving treatment for a previous attack she suffered for her faith and is in need of financial assistance – as do her surviving children and 15 others at the orphanage the pastor operated.”
In another incident in Uganda, Muslims murdered David Omara, 64, a Christian pastor and well-known radio preacher, for comparing Christianity and Islam. According to David’s son, as quoted in a Nov. 6 report, soon after finishing his broadcast:
“someone telephoned my father appreciating his presentation. He then requested him to meet somewhere with some of his friends. We left the radio station. As we arrived at the said place, there came out of the bush six people dressed in Islamic attire, and they started strangling and beating my father with blunt objects.”
While beating him, one of the Muslims said, “This man ought to die for using the Koran and saying Allah is not God but an evil god collaborating with satanic powers…. As they were hitting my father, with blunt objects and strangling him, I fled to save my life. Two attackers ran after me but could not get hold of me.” During the pastor’s November 4 funeral, “Area residents were shocked and saddened by the murder,” the report notes, “and church members were both fearful of further Islamist violence and sorrowful as they mourned at a tearful burial.” His widow “fainted and collapsed with deep groaning” and, last reported, “was treated for shock that rendered her unconscious,” at a hospital: “After Electroconvulsive therapy involving stimulation of the brain, she still did not recognize people.” Pastor David Omara — whom associates lauded for having “worked tirelessly for the kingdom of God to the day he breathed his last breath” — is survived by his traumatized wife and eight children, aged from 10 to 30.
Egypt: A spate of blasphemy-related accusations and arrests erupted in November. “In the past few days,” to quote from a Nov. 20 report, “several arrest warrants have been issued for Egyptian Christians accused of insulting Islam. A young Muslim man was also detained for mocking the hosts of the Cairo-based Holy Quran Radio Station.” Additionally, “On Nov. 11, the Supreme State Security Prosecution investigated two Christians … and referred them to criminal court on the grounds of mocking Islam and insulting religion.” In yet another incident, a Christian teacher and a Muslim girl were arrested on Nov. 11 over comments on Facebook seen as insulting and contemptuous of religion. “The next day, Nov. 12, the public prosecution ordered the arrest of the teacher, identified as Youssef Hani, and the girl, who goes by the name Sandosa on Facebook, on charges of blasphemy.” After Hani’s critical comments on Islam were shared on Facebook, social media calls for his death appeared. “He must be killed,” read one social media post. “Someone volunteer, people, we will not continue to debate with a few absent-minded [Christian] minorities… We will squash them…”
Iran: On Nov. 15, one month after a convert to Christianity was whipped 80 times, another convert, Zaman Fadaei, was also lashed 80 times — for the same reason: sipping communion wine. He was whipped at Evin Prison, where he has been serving a six-year prison sentence for organizing house churches and “promoting Zionist Christianity.” After stating that “Last month, the clerical regime [also] lashed Iranian Christian convert Mohammad Reza Omidi 80 times for drinking communion wine” the Nov. 17 report adds that,
“Many Iranian Christians are in prison in Iran for practicing their faith. Heavy bail bonds and exile sentences are additional pressures that the Iranian regime imposes on Christians…. International organizations have repeatedly censured the Iranian regime’s suppression of religious minorities, including the Christian converts, for practicing their faith.
“Judges presiding the trials in the clerical regime’s courts have been instructed to consider maximum punishments for religious minorities and particularly the Christian converts. The Iranian regime criminalizes conversion to Christianity, and severely restricts the faith practiced by Armenian and Assyrian Christians.”
Attacks on Churches, Crosses, and Christian Symbols
Austria: According to a Nov. 2 report, as many as 50 young Turks attacked a church in Vienna-Favoriten on Thursday evening, Oct. 29:
“The attackers stormed into the parish church of St. Anton in Favoriten, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’ and kicking pews and other furnishing in the church…. Another Afghan was arrested over the weekend while shouting ‘Islamic slogans’ in St. Stephen’s Cathedral…. Churches in Vienna are now being monitored more closely as part of the patrol service.”
Syria: To cries of “Allahu Akbar” (video here), a cross was ripped down from a Greek orthodox church in a region “controlled by U.S.-backed militants,” a November 1 report revealed. The cross had been torn down years earlier, when the Islamic State controlled the region, but restored by locals in an effort “to encourage Christians refugees to return to the city.” The report adds that
“ISIS and Turkey are encouraging a small group to commit these horrible acts. Prior to the ISIS invasion and destruction of the city, it was home to a minority of Christians belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Catholic Church, and various Protestants.”
Italy: On November 25, a 31-year-old Palestinian refugee decapitated and cut off the hands of a historical Virgin Mary statue in Marghera, a suburb of Venice. Video surveillance and a witness on the scene helped identify the vandal. A translation of an Italian report states:
“A grim and shocking show for those who believe in that symbol [the Mary statue] and the sense of community of belonging that was deeply wounded by an act of vandalism. Without head and without hands, almost playing out the violence of an execution, the rage poured out on a mutilated statue, that of the Madonna… The motive is as yet unclear why he threw himself with such brutality against a statue, a symbol of faith, whether it is a case of mental imbalance, or he acted by virtue of a religious milieu…”
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro called it a “vile act,” a symbolic “slaughter,” which “wounds our sensibilities.”
France: On November 19, a Muslim man dressed in a jellabiya, the traditional Islamic garb, entered the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand and began chanting in Arabic and doing prostration prayers in the sacred Catholic compound. A number of passersby grew worried by this display, police were contacted, and, after questioning, the man — who it was determined had not broken any laws — was set free.
General Violence and Abuse
Pakistan: For two months after kidnapping a deaf and mute Christian teenage girl her, five Muslim men repeatedly gang-raped and tortured her. All this time, police ignored the parents’ pleas to intervene. It was only when a local authority took up the case, and only after months of court meetings, that the girl was located and returned to her parents. One of the kidnappers insisted the girl had willingly converted to Islam and married him. According to Juliet Chowdhry, Chairperson for the British Asian Christian Association, as quoted in a Nov. 16 report:
“This young woman has suffered the most vile and horrid attack. There are few women my age that could survive such an ordeal and yet despite her young years, she has shown a strength and faith in God that is remarkable… [A]ll Christian women should be moved to tears at the base cruelty faced by our sisters in Pakistan. This story should be a wakeup call—but how many of you will actually actively get involved in eradicating this evil?”
Egypt: Due to another Facebook post, made by a 22-year-old Christian and deemed offensive to the Muslim prophet Muhammad, rioting Muslims attacked Christians and their properties in the village where the youth originates (although he was not there). According to one report:
“[T]he Muslim villagers of al-Barsha have resorted to burning the farm huts and yards owned by Copts and located on their agricultural lands. These huts and yards are used to keep the cattle during daytime and to store cattle feed. Six of them were set on fire on the night of 29 November, in response to continuous incitement by fundamentalist Muslims against the Copts…. The hostilities against Barsha Copts go back to 25 November when the village Muslims waged an attack against the Copts with stones and fireballs. The attack took off from one of the mosques in the vicinity of the village’s Islamic Institute to cries of Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and verbal insults against Christians.”
The face of an 80-year-old Christian woman was burned when a fireball crashed into her home. Church property was also damaged, a stable burned down, cattle stolen, and the windows of Christian homes shattered.
Separately, on the evening of Nov. 8, Nabil Habashy Salem, a 61-year-old Christian businessman responsible for building the only church in Bir al-Abd, Sinai, was abducted in front of his house. According to the report:
“[Salem] went out at 8pm to buy something from a nearby store, when three armed unmasked men stopped him by force in the middle of the busy street. They forced a passing pickup truck to stop, threatened its driver and forced him out at gunpoint. They shoved the senior Salem into the truck and quickly drove away while firing bullets in the air. Those on the street were terrified… nobody could do a thing. Peter Salem [his son] directly notified the police and filed a report. He sent an urgent plea to President Sisi to interfere in order to find his father, lest he meets the same fate of Bekhit Aziz Lamei who was kidnapped last August from al-Abtal village in South Sinai, and to date has not been found.”
Austria: A 19-year-old Afghan refugee struck a 76-year-old Catholic nun in the face in the city of Graz before fleeing. Thanks to surveillance video, police managed to apprehend him. According to the Nov. 2 report,
“The suspect, already known to the police for drug offenses and assault, has confessed to the crime; his motive is still unclear, police say. Several anti-Christian incidents have caused a stir in Austria, after last week’s terrorist attack by a man shouting Islamist phrases at a cathedral in France.”
Bangladesh: On Nov. 9, armed Muslims attacked a Catholic Christian village, “wounding faithful and desecrating their church — smashing windows and destroying books and other religious items,” the report stated. Problems started in late September, when Rafiq Ali, a Muslim man with forged documents seized the land of Josper Amlorong, a local Christian farmer. On November 9, Amlorong reported the land grab to police and, after confirming that it was his, they evicted Ali. That evening, a vengeful Ali returned with dozens of armed Muslims who wreaked havoc in the village. Discussing the land grab, Amlorong said:
“Ali and his people forcibly entered my property and took possession of it. They threatened my life. They told me to leave the land. It is my only piece of land…. If I lost my land, I couldn’t live [he has been battling cancer for the past three years]. Without treatment, I will die…. Being I am Christian, Ali thought I am weak, but I will not leave my land until I draw my last breath.”
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again and Sword and Scimitar, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by extremists is growing. The report posits that such persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.