Turkish authorities in February gave permission to turn the historic and much venerated Panagia Soumela Monastery (pictured) into a discotheque for the filming of an advertisement, which included people dancing to loud electronic music in the monastery’s courtyard. Orthodox Christians responded with outrage at what they deemed the intentional desecration of a cherished site. The Monastery was founded in 386 AD and operated until the Turkish genocide of Christians, when it was abandoned, vandalized, used by smugglers, and eventually burned. After a lengthy rehabilitation in 2015-2017, the monastery was reopened for tourists — only to be immediately vandalized again, and now mocked in the context of filming an advertisement. (Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/Wikimedia Commons)
The following are among the abuses Muslims inflicted on Christians throughout the month of February, 2022:
The Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Nigeria: On February 25, members of the Islamic State West Africa Province murdered three Christians during an attack on Chibok, in the nation’s northeast. The terrorists also destroyed a worship building belonging to the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
Pakistan: As many as 200 Muslims slaughtered Pervez Masih, a 25-year-old Christian video game store owner. On the evening of Feb. 13, he refused to gamble with some young Muslims who had entered his store. On the next day, Feb. 14, a mob “of 150 to 200 Muslims came to the Christian area of Lahore, some with guns, and started insulting and beating people, including Pervez,” says the report.
“Despite his uncle’s attempts to stop the beating, the attackers dragged Pervez away to torture him with sticks and bricks, threatening that they would not leave him alive. Eventually one of the Muslims, named Sohni, son of Allah Ditta, hit the young Christian in the head. When the latter fell to the ground everyone fled the scene, firing into the air.”
Democratic Republic of Congo: On Feb. 24, Islamic terrorists, linked to the Allied Democratic Forces, murdered four Christians. One of those killed was Sylvia Kombi of the Anglican Church of Congo, long hailed for her service in providing trauma counseling to the terror-stricken region. “She was coming from our diocese in Kasindi where she had gone to give counseling to Christian refugees living in Lubhiriha,” a local source recalled. While eulogizing Sylvia, the head of the missions arm of the South Rwenzori Diocese of Uganda, said:
“She would spend days with the Muslim background believers here to pray with them and guide them on how to face persecution and become bold servants of the Lord. She was a humble and loving sister who put the gospel needs of the church first and she never hesitated whenever we needed her to come all the way from DR Congo to train our evangelists.”
Muslim Attacks on Apostates, Blasphemers, and Evangelists
Iran: Authorities called on ten Muslim converts to Christianity, who were earlier cleared of all charges, to take “re-education” classes led by Islamic clerics. Because the former Muslims had been “misled” to Christianity, authorities explained, these classes were meant to “guide them back onto the right path.” Earlier, the prosecutor in the case against these Christians had said that “apostasy” from Islam was punishable under Islamic law, or sharia, “and in the hereafter,” even though it was “not criminalised in the laws of Iran.” According to the Feb. 1 report,
“Despite this, the Christians must now endure 10 compulsory sessions with Islamic clerics, who will attempt to revert them to Islam in what is a clear breach of their rights under the international covenants to which Iran is a signatory. Such so-called ‘re-education’ sessions have become much more common in recent years, even appearing in the list of ‘corrective punishments’ on official court papers…”
In a separate incident, three people who converted from Islam to Christianity — a married couple and a separate woman — were, according to a Feb. 9 report, “summoned to begin serving prison sentences of between two and five years for ‘acting against national security’ by attending a house-church and ‘spreading Zionist Christianity.'” The man, Ramin Hassanpour, is to serve five years in prison; his wife, Saeede, and the other woman, Sakine Behjati, are each to serve two years. A fourth member of the group, Hadi Rahimi, is already serving a four year sentence.
Egypt: A Christian man was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to five years imprisonment. On Jan. 29, Marco Gerges was pronounced guilty of “contempt for Islam” and “exploiting religion in promoting extremist ideas.” According to the Feb. 9 report:
“Gerges, reported to be a ‘private citizen’, was arrested in June 2021 on suspicion of having ‘sexual images’ on his mobile phone that, the prosecutor said, were in ‘contempt of the Islamic religion’. It’s not clear why or how he came to be arrested. Other charges, relating to violations of Egypt’s cyber-crime law and using religion to promote extremist thought, were added later without offering Gerges or his defence team an opportunity to respond…. A law banning ‘insulting the heavenly religions’, criminalising blasphemy, has been repeatedly used to silence Egypt’s religious minorities… Since the beginning of 2021, there have been at least three similar cases to Gerges’, in which the courts have resorted to ‘unconstitutional and overbroad laws such as blasphemy…'”
Uganda: Muslims beat unconscious a Christian evangelist on his way to participate in an open air debate on Islam and Christianity. When Charles Kamya, 43, was about 300 yards away from the site of the debate, two men approached and stopped his car, Kamya later related from his hospital bed.
“I stopped my car only to be ambushed by six other Muslims in Islamic attire who resurfaced from the bush at around midday… Some beat me badly while others cut me with some objects, and I lost a lot of blood as they pulled me out of my car and threw me out.”
While thrashing him, one of his attackers said, “You have been terrorizing our religion. Today Allah has called you, and you are going to meet him.” Two hours later, a passerby found Charles lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood. About a week earlier, Charles was involved in another debate; then, he held and cited from a Koran problematic passages that he said were resolved through the Christian message:
“I used the Koran to show Muslims that from the beginning of the Earth to date, God wants all people to be saved including Muslims. I also discussed Surah 72 about the powers of evil jinn, and that they can be defeated by Issa [Jesus], and many Muslims converted to Christ. One sheikh wanted to grab the Koran from me, but I refused and left immediately. It [the second debate to which he was traveling but never reached] was well publicized, with my photo displayed as the main debater of the day in Christian-Muslim dialogue.”
Also in Uganda, on Feb. 6, Muslim family members beat, tied, and tried to burn alive a former Muslim turned Christian evangelist. Malingumu Bruhan, 34, had long since left his village, but returned for his grandfather’s funeral, and then accepted his uncles’ request to stay and visit. It was not long, however, before one of Bruhan’s uncles, Musa, began to accost him, as Bruhan later recounted:
“My uncle accused me of embarrassing them by holding Christian evangelistic, open-air meetings and debates with Muslims. He accused me of being an infidel by converting to Christianity, and that Allah will reward them in Jannah [garden paradise] if they kill me. He said to me that it is now the right time for me to receive punishment from Allah, whereby I was going to be burned alive and the birds of the air will enjoy me as their meat.”
Bruhan remained silent, which provoked his uncles to even greater fits of rage: “They started beating me up as others gathered firewood, while another was sent to go for petrol because they wanted to use it to burn me alive.” During this time, a friend of Bruhan came looking for him, only to discover his shoe, “whichhad come off as his uncles dragged him off for slaughter.”
“My friend made several phone calls after finding my shoe, and they arrived and started searching for me. They found me behind the house about 100 meters away, tied and with firewood around me. They tried calling the police, which scared the attackers, and they fled.”
Bruhan was taken to and treated in a medical clinic for head injuries. Because he is a well-known evangelist, who frequently participates in Christian-Muslim debates, Bruhan has been targeted for and “survived 11 murder attempts.”
Finally in Uganda, on Feb. 6, Muslims intercepted and beat a relative as he was leaving church, where he had just publicly professed his newfound faith in Christ. Sadi Bwanga, 20, a grandson of a local Muslim sheikh, was seen earlier that morning traveling to the church with a Christian evangelist. His extended family followed him. When he and his friend exited the church, his family approached, yanked Sadi, who was carrying a Bible, to one side, and confronted his companion:
“One of them told me ‘We know that you are a Christian, but our son is a Muslim—we do not want to see you here.’ So I left immediately. Just a little distance away I heard loud screaming from Sadi crying for help.”
When another vehicle drove by and stopped, the Christian told them what was happening, prompting the Muslims to place Sadi in their vehicle and drive away. The evangelist continues:
“I knew that they were going to kill my friend, so I alerted my pastor, who organized two vehicles immediately and we drove to Sadi’s home. On arrival there were several people outside, but on seeing us they fled. We found Sadi outside his cottage lying in a pool of blood and half-naked at around 2:30 p.m., with serious head and leg injuries, but still alive.”
Sadi was rushed to a hospital, at which point his relatives destroyed his living quarters. He was released from the hospital more than a week later….”
Muslim Attacks on Churches, Seminaries, and Crosses
Germany: On Sunday, Feb, 6, a man entered a Catholic church and interrupted evening mass by throwing himself onto the ground and screaming “Allah!”
Although the priest responded by saying “You are disturbing our service. You are welcome to sit here, but you must be quiet,” other congregants, including an off-duty police officer, escorted the man outside, even as he “said incomprehensible, confused things about Israel and the Mossad.” The priest continued his sermon by saying:
“There are many people from other countries living among us who have no home here. Like the man who just disturbed our service. The life of migrants is very difficult… The leaders of the Muslims in Europe assume that they will be in power here in a few decades. That should make us think.”
Switzerland: Crosses are set to disappear from the nation’s largest cemetery because their sight “disturbs” people from “other religions.” The report is careful not to mention who these people might be.
“Oh, Allah, I ask you to destroy the enemies of our religion, to destroy the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, the Russians and the Shiites. God, please destroy them all and restore Islam to its ancient glory.”
The imam was accused of inciting racial hatred, but still attends his mosque. He is also “accused of having received 600,000 francs in social assistance in thirteen years … without any effort to integrate,” an official said, “We cannot strike out social assistance for a refugee, even if we condemn his remarks.” The report concludes:
“This Libyan political refugee returned several times to his country, clandestinely. During the investigation, he did not cooperate with the criminal authorities: he refused to answer questions about his income. If convicted, he risks losing his C license and being expelled.”
Burkina Faso: During the night of Feb. 10-11, “jihadists came by motorbike” and attacked Saint Kisito de Bougui, a seminary that houses nearly 150 seminarians (future clergymen in training). Although no lives were lost, “there was a lot of material damage,” notes the report. “The attackers burned two dormitories, a classroom, and a vehicle. Another vehicle was stolen. A crucifix was destroyed.” The invaders told the Christians that “they don’t want to see crosses.” The terrorists also told them to “go now, that they will come back and if somebody remains there they will kill them.”
Egypt: Over the course of two days, dozens of Christian residents in a village in Minya, “staged a demonstration,” according to a Feb. 10 report, “to demand government approval for the construction of a church in their village to replace their place of worship which burned down in 2016.” A week later, local authorities responded by arresting nine Christians from the village. The reportadds:
“The protest and arrests are just the latest incidents in a hot-button issue of sectarian discrimination in Egypt, where the country’s Christian minority has struggled against government policies that severely restrict the building and renovation of churches.”
“The man, Mohammed Derrab, remains in detention for anti-conversion charges brought against him. The arrest occurred in Tizi Ouzou, a province in Algeria that has already seen several church closures, including a new threatened closure from the provincial governor. Due to the closures, Brother Derrab, an elder at the closed Tafat church in Tizi Ouzou, preached outside of his church on January 27 and gave one listener a Bible, resulting in his arrest the next day. Authorities searched the elder’s house afterwards and confiscated his collection of Bibles. During the trial, an Algerian judge sentenced Brother Derrab to 18 months in prison. Brother Derrab is currently detained in prison awaiting his next trial date to appeal the judgment next month.”
As the report details, this incident is representative of a pattern of persecution against the Protestant churches of Algeria:
“To date, at least 16 churches affiliated with the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) remain closed or have been threatened with closure. The threats come as a result of failure to comply with the 2006 ordnance that requires non-Muslim worship to operate only in licensed buildings. However, the licensing commission has yet to issue a single permit.”
Turkey: Authorities gave permission to turn a historic and much venerated Christian monastery into a discotheque for the filming of an advertisement, which included people dancing to loud electronic music in the monastery’s courtyard. Orthodox Christians responded with outrage at what they deemed the intentional desecration of a cherished site. Located in Trabzon and built into a steep cliff side, Panagia Soumela Monastery was founded in 386 AD and operated until the Turkish genocide of Christians (Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, among others) when it was abandoned, vandalized, used by smugglers, and eventually burned. After a lengthy rehabilitation in 2015-2017, the monastery was reopened for tourists — only to be immediately vandalized again, and now mocked in the context of filming an advertisement.
According to a separate Feb. 2 report, local Muslim villagers have transformed an ancient church, the Assyrian church of Mor Aday, built in the seventh century, into a horse stable, after it was left by local Turkish authorities to fall into ruin and decay. Sadly, the debasing and desecrating of Christian churches and monasteries by turning them into horse stables is an ancient Islamic practice. Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II, for instance, vowed to transform the churches of Constantinople into stables for his army’s horses; in the years before the First Crusade, the Turkish ruler of the ancient Christian city of Antioch converted its main cathedral into a horse stable; and a Georgian chronicler wrote of how “holy churches [throughout Asia Minor] served as stables for their [Turkish invaders’] horses.”[*]
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, 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. It includes incidents that take place during, or are reported on, any given month.
[*] Sphrantzēs, Geōrgios, The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980, p. 123; Frankopan, Peter. The First Crusade: The Call from the East. London: Vintage Books, 2013, p. 91; Bostom, Andrew, ed. The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. New York: Prometheus Books, 2005, p. 609.