Climate change and al-Shabab extremists contributed to circumstances that could produce crippling swarms of locusts in Somalia and East Africa.
By The Associated Press
GAROWE, Somalia — At a glance, the desert locusts in this arid patch of northern Somalia look less ominous than the billion-member swarms infesting East Africa in the worst outbreak some places have seen in 70 years.
But their time will come.
Small and wingless, the hopping young locusts are the next wave in the outbreak that threatens more than 10 million people across the region with a severe hunger crisis.
And they are growing up in one of the most inaccessible places on the planet. Large parts of Somalia south of this semi-autonomous Puntland region are under threat, or held by, the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group. That makes it difficult or impossible to conduct the aerial spraying of the locusts that experts say is the only effective control.
Somalia has declared the outbreak a national emergency. Across the region, it has the potential “to be the most devastating plague of locusts in any of our living memories if we don’t reduce the problem faster than we’re doing at the moment,” U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said.
As an armed Somali policeman stood by, experts on Thursday walked across the dry land crawling with the young locusts and explained the threat to come if the world doesn’t act right now.
“The world needs to know this is where it all begins,” said Alberto Trillo Barca, a spokesman for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. “In the next three or four weeks, these nymphs, as we call them, will develop wings.”
Then they are expected to set off for neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, where a handful of planes spraying pesticide can only do so much if such swarms keep arriving.
Climate experts have pointed to unusually heavy rains, aided by a powerful cyclone off Somalia in December, as a major factor in the outbreak. The locusts were carried in by the storm’s winds from the Arabian Peninsula and parts beyond, and now they are feeding on Somalia’s fresh vegetation.
With more rains expected in the region in the coming weeks, the number of locusts if unchecked could grow by up to 500 times by June, when drier weather is expected.
But that drier weather is not necessarily the solution, said Dominique Burgeon, the FAO’s emergency and resilience director.
The density of the locusts is now so high that even normal moisture can lead to another generation, he said.
“We cannot believe in Mother Nature to solve it,” he explained.
Without enough spraying to stop the swarms, the already worrying outbreak could turn into a plague, “and when you have a plague, it takes years to control,” he said.
Against that sweeping outlook, a few masked workers with white protective suits and pesticide containers strapped to their backs stood in the camel-crossed Somali desert, spritzing the thousands of locusts clinging to thorny bushes.
The world’s changing climate brings the risk of more cyclones coming in from the warming Indian Ocean off East Africa, climate experts say. With that, the likelihood of further locust outbreaks grows.
The “sort of new normal,” Burgeon said.
And that means Kenya, Ethiopia and other East African countries that rarely see such outbreaks and found themselves largely unprepared for this one could join “frontline countries” in parts of West Africa and the Middle East, experts say. Those countries have well-trained monitoring and prevention systems in place for more frequent locust outbreaks.
The FAO has asked international donors to give $76 million immediately to help control this outbreak. So far $19 million is in hand, Burgeon said.
“The biggest challenge is the scale of the breeding, as you can see all around us,” Barca said. These locusts, he said, will be migrating to southern Somalia and parts of Kenya and Ethiopia just as crops are germinating there.
“If at that time there are huge quantities of locusts around, it will have a devastating impact on the crops,” Burgeon said.
Other East African countries including South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti are also at risk, Burgeon said. Millions of people in some of these places are already facing hunger in the wake of civil war or more common challenges such as poverty.
Locusts began to arrive Sunday in Uganda, reaching a village near the Kenyan border, according to Martin Owor, the country’s commissioner in charge of disaster preparedness.
The swarm spotted in Amudat district was “certainly big,” and the prime minister was expected to lead an evening emergency meeting on Uganda’s first major locust outbreak since the 1960s, Owor said.
Here in rural Somalia, where about 50% of the people depend on animals for their livelihoods, the locusts are eating the pasturage. The animals weaken, their milk decreases and small children, who depend on the milk to survive, suffer skyrocketing malnutrition, the experts said.
Those fighting the locust outbreak may try to negotiate with Somalia’s extremist fighters to allow spraying in rural areas where they are active, Burgeon said. Already emergency workers are going in where they can.
In a few weeks the young locusts will shed their skin, said Keith Cressman, a senior locust forecasting officer with the FAO.
“It takes a few days to warm up their wings,” he said. Some test flights follow and they’re on the move.
The locusts at that stage are bright pink and in their most voracious state, like “very hungry teenagers,” Cressman said. By now, many people in Kenya and Ethiopia know them well.
After a month or so, the locusts will be mature adults, ready to reproduce.
Soon after copulating and laying eggs the locusts will die, “but their progeny will be hatching,” Cressman said. “And we have another generation of locusts to contend with, with about another 20-fold increase.” (Click to Source)
Philippines: On Sunday, January 27, Islamic militants bombed a Catholic cathedral during Mass. At least 20 people were killed and 111 wounded. Two explosives were detonated about a minute apart in or near the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo around 8:45 a.m. According to one report, “The initial explosion scattered the wooden pews inside the main hall and blasted window glass panels, and the second bomb hurled human remains and debris across a town square fronting the cathedral.” Photos on social media showed human bodies and remains strewn on the street just outside the cathedral. The officiating priest, Fr. Ricky Bacolcol, “was still in shock and could not speak about what happened,” to quote a colleague. After the first bomb detonated, army troops and police posted outside the cathedral rushed in, at which point the second bomb went off. Fifteen of the slain were civilians, five military men; 90 of the wounded were civilians. Located in a Muslim-majority area, the cathedral was heavily guarded as it had been hit before: grenades were hurled at it twice in 2010, both times damaging the building; and in 1997, Bishop Benjamin de Jesus was gunned down just outside the cathedral. The Islamic State claimed this most recent attack, adding that the massacre was carried out by “two knights of martyrdom” against a “crusader temple.”
Egypt: An Islamic terror plot to bomb a packed Christian church on the evening of January 6, when Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas, was foiled by police. According to one report,
[F]our explosive devices were planted around the Church of the Virgin Mary and St Mercurius in … Nasr City. Three were removed safely but the fourth, concealed in a bag, exploded when police bomb disposal technicians attempted to deactivate it. Police Major Mostafa Ebeid was killed in the blast, which wounded two other officers and a bystander. The explosion was the latest in a series of incidents apparently targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christian population, occurring the day before Orthodox Christmas eve….
Separately, between late December and early January, authorities forcefully shut down four more churches in Egypt after angry Muslim mobs rioted in protest of their existence. In one instance, on Friday, January 11, over one thousand Muslims surrounded and demanded the instant closure of St. George Church in Minya. Not only did authorities comply but they evicted the two priests who were holed up inside the church and hauled them off in a vehicle used for garbage, prompting “an elated response from a jubilating, gloating mob,” which included triumphant cries of “Allahu Akbar”(Allah is greater; a brief video of the mob can be seen here.) Police “ behaved with the priests as they would with killers,” one human rights lawyer said. “What happened frightened us,” added another clergyman. “I am a priest and it is possible for the police to cuff me if the extremist neighboring Muslims protest or gathered in front of my church. Things are getting worse, but let us pray to make God keep us in peace.” The local Coptic Christian bishopric said in a statement,
This is not the first time a place used for worship by Copts in Minya is closed. The common factor among all closures, however, is that they were done to appease fundamentalists and extremists to the detriment of the Copts. It appears to indicate that extremists now hold the upper hand, and appeasing them is the easy way out of problems…. This comes in the wake of declarations by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyeb in favour of churches, also positive talk and actions by President Abdel-Fattah a-Sisi that every Egyptian has the right to practise his or her religion of choice, and to Pope Tawadros’s efforts on that front.
A January 15 report discussing this attack computes that, “In total, Egyptian authorities have closed four churches within the last four and a half weeks. No formal procedures against the attackers of these churches have begun.”
Cameroon: Muslim militants invaded and ransacked two Christian villages in the middle of the night of January 24. They destroyed 190 homes, plundered and desecrated four churches, set a Christian hospital on fire, and killed livestock. “Is it really human beings who are doing this?” a local eyewitness was later quoted as saying. According to the report,
The attack on Gochi and Toufou [the Christian villages] is the fourth by militants in two weeks. In the previous attacks three people were killed and churches and homes were damaged or destroyed…. Christian villages in the far north of Cameroon are subject to attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militias [as] they attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate from north-eastern Nigeria all the way to northern Cameroon, which is where most Cameroonian Muslims live in what is a predominantly Christian country.
Nigeria: Militant Muslims have destroyed a total of 1,125 churches belonging to one Christian denomination alone, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, which is primarily based in the Muslim majority northeast of the nation, a January 23 report found. The President of the denomination, Rev. Joel Billi continues making appeals for the local Muslim majority government to expedite the rebuilding of these places of worship: “Why are we flagrantly neglected as if we deserve to be punished? If not for the inadequacy of our security forces and political undertone, Boko Haram would not have overrun us. So, why do we pay for the sin that was not committed by us?”
Ghana: Irate and machete wielding Muslim youth vandalized a church after its pastor predicted that the Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharunutu would die this year. Afterwards they made a video giving the pastor an ultimatum to withdraw his prophecy or else: “We’re warning you,” said the group leader. “You have only 24 hours to capture yourself in a video to apologise to all Muslims. Don’t bring your fake prophecies on the Muslims or our Chief Imam. If you don’t apologise, we’ll drink your blood.”
Indonesia: A Muslim mob stormed a house church meeting on Sunday, January 13, in the North Sumatran capital of Medan. Video footage shows a loud and angry throng led by men wearing Muslim skullcaps and women in hijabs surrounding a pastor’s residence, which had allegedly been converted into a place of worship for use by the Bethel Indonesia Church congregation. The mob shouted at and shoved Christians in attendance before forcing the service to a close. “We didn’t do things that were prohibited,” wrote one church member on Instagram. “We only wanted to pray, but why was our church attacked this morning? Where is justice in this country? Where is our religious tolerance? God is with us.” Due to this and similar incidents, Christians are increasingly “feel[ing] intimidated to worship in their own country,” the report notes, before adding that:
members of the congregation claim that they have obtained some permits for the building to function as a house of worship but are still missing some documents, which they say have been difficult to obtain from government officials, especially during the recent holiday period. In September, authorities in the East Sumatran city of Jambi sealed three churches, which had been used as places of worship for over a decade, because they lacked official permits. An administrator at one of the churches said they were given no warning prior to the closure and that he suspected the churches were shut due to pressure from certain groups who threatened to protest if they remained open. Officials from one of the churches said their attempts to obtain the proper permits had proven difficult as government officials [in the Muslim majority nation] always denied them.
Algeria: After authorities shut down their church, a 300-strong Christian congregation began to meet and worship in a tent—only to be forced out of and ordered to dismantle it as well on January 28. The tent was erected on the grounds of Azaghar Church, allowing the congregation to continue worshipping following the forced closure of their church on spurious “health and safety” reasons. According to one report,
The church … lost the use of its building in October 2018, despite the congregation responding to requests to install fire exits and fire extinguishers. While conversion from Islam is not a criminal offence in Algeria, those who witness to Muslims potentially face a five-year jail sentence. The officially recognised church had been open for five years and is a powerful ministry to local Muslims. …. A number of churches have been shut down since the start of 2018, either for alleged breaches of health and safety, or because authorities claim they are not properly registered.
Violence against Christians and Conversion Pressure
Uganda: Muslims beat and hospitalized a Christian woman for praying to Christ in her home. “Today we have come to warn you that you should avoid noisy prayers and the use of Issa [Jesus] in your prayers,” one of the four assailants informed Deborah Gimbo’s after bursting into her home. They added that a local cleric had said that “people who pray in Jesus’ name should be fought and pressured until they accept only worship of Allah, or else be killed.” “I cannot stop praying,” she responded, “and more so, Issa [Jesus] is my Lord and Savior, and I will continue praying in His name…. Immediately two of the intruders left the house, and in no time entered the room again with sticks and started beating me. I was hit on my face, and blood started flowing down my face as I started shouting for help.” Neighbors came to her rescue; she was hospitalized for two days.
Iran: During their final appeal hearing held on January 15, two Christians “were asked by presiding judges Hassan Babaee and Ahmad Zargar to renounce their faith, but refused to do so,” says one report. Earlier, on September 22, 2018, the two, Saheb Fadaie and Fatemeh Bakhteri, were sentenced to prison on the charge of “spreading propaganda against the regime,” and “promoting Zionist Christianity.” The January 15 verdict also “claimed that discussions of Christian doctrine held in house churches were considered attacks on Islam.” A human rights activist familiar with the case elaborated:
The conviction of Mr Fadaie and Ms Bakhteri for asserting Christian doctrine is not only a grave violation of their right to espouse a religious belief of their choosing, but also criminalises the Christian faith, which the Iranian constitution purports to recognise…. We call for the verdict against Mr Fadaie and Ms Bakhteri to be overturned, and urge the Iranian authorities to ensure due process in cases involving religious minorities. We also continue to urge the Iranian government to cease all forms of harassment and intimidation of peaceable religious communities, and to release all those detained in connection with their religion or belief.
Somalia: “It’s very dangerous for anyone to identify you as a Christian in this country,” an underground pastor going by the pseudonym of John explained in a January 7 report concerning the dangers of being outed as a Christian in the Islamic Horn of Africa. “You will, in fact, be counting your days on Earth. So we are always silent as long as we meet and share the word of God in private.” The report elaborates:
Hundreds of Christians in Somalia, typically foreigners from nearby countries who work across the East African nation, fear [that] Muslim extremists — both jihadists in al-Shabab, a group linked to al-Qaida, and rogue elements among their otherwise peaceful neighbors — would kill them if they knew they held Christian services. Around 99.8 percent of Somalis are Muslim…. In recent years, the situation for Christians in the Horn of Africa has worsened, as illustrated by killings shared on social media. In the region under the control of al-Shabab, the militants hunt for Christians.
Attacks on Muslim Converts to Christianity
Kenya: “Muslim policemen on Saturday (Jan. 19) beat and arrested a Christian man on the outskirts of Nairobi, in retaliation for refusing to recant Christianity,” states one report. “Accompanied by two Muslims of Somali descent who had attacked him previously, the policemen arrived at the home where Hassan (surname withheld for security reasons) lives with his widowed mother, and the officers along with the two others punched, kicked, trampled and struck him with blunt objects…” According to his mother:
The police arrived and carried Hassan away with blood flowing from his body. My son’s leg is bruised, he has serious chest and back pain, he is unable to walk and some of his teeth were removed. My family is in danger, where are we going to hide ourselves? I cannot go back to Islam. I am better dying with my family than going back to Islam….I have suffered several persecutions from the Muslims for converting to Christianity…. My stomach is ailing from the attack I suffered few years ago. I cannot stand in an upright position. I and my family have chosen the cause of Christ. No turning back.
Sudan/Egypt: A January 31 report recounted the persecution experienced by a former Muslim woman turned Christian. Ebtehaj Alsanosi, 42, “had fled to Egypt in 2005 after being jailed five times for her faith in Sudan.” She eventually married another convert who had also fled Sudan and birthed a daughter. Her persecutors eventually tracked her down, kidnapping her on the way to market in Egypt:
They called her name, grabbed her, covered her nose and mouth, twisted her hands and sprayed some chemical on her that left her unconscious…They took her to the windowless room in an unknown house where they poured water on her, pulled her hair and tied her hands and legs to a chair, all the while shouting her name. Covering her eyes, they reminded her of her Islamic upbringing in Sudan, and how after her school years she moved with her family to Saudi Arabia. Her Sudanese father, they reminded her, is a sheikh (Islamic teacher) in Saudi Arabia.
“You are disgrace to your Muslim family, you brought shame to the family,” they yelled at her as they beat her. “You are ‘kafira’ [infidel].” They ordered her to return to her Sudanese family in Saudi Arabia, otherwise, she, her husband, and daughter aged 11 would all be slaughtered. “I will not go back to Islam—I hate Islam,” she shot back, prompting them to beat her even harder. One of her abductors then brought “a copy of the Koran and began reciting verses that call for the killing of those who leave Islam”—even as they all shouted “Allahu Akbar” in between recitals. “The extremists then untied her, forced her to lie on the floor and ripped her clothes. In spite of her pleas to stop, they raped her in turns.” One of the men said, “This is lesson number one.” They continued abusing and beating her, asking after each torture session if she was ready to renounce Christ and resubmit to Muhammad, only for her to refuse. She was eventually struck unconscious, and when she came to, was lying in the middle of a busy street.
A separate January 21 report revealed the sufferings of a Muslim man who also fled from Sudan to Egypt after converting to Christianity. Osman “left Khartoum in April 2014 after police from Sudan’s Criminal Investigation Department accused him of apostasy, punishable by death in Sudan.” At one point, “National police arrested him from the streets of Khartoum, covered his eyes with a cloth and took him into secret detention, where they tortured him for three weeks… He was suspended from the ceiling while agents poured cold water on him, leaving his left hand permanently damaged…” “[T]hey told me they were going to kill me if I do not return back to Islam,” he explained. “I fled Sudan for my life after I learned that my life was in danger.” Before long, however, unknown persons in Cairo began sending him death threats via phone texts. Most recently, his apartment was raided and his passport stolen, prompting him to go into hiding. “My life is in great danger as Egypt is becoming an insecure place for me,” Osman was last reported as saying.
Uganda: The story of a mother and daughter who were driven out of their home by their Muslim husband/father after they converted to Christianity appeared in a January 7 report. According to Adijah, the mother:
All the years that I was a Muslim, I found nothing wrong with it. But last year, when I was listening to a radio program about Jesus, I started thinking about Christianity and why there was so much enmity between Muslims and Christians. I did not know [it then, but it] started my journey to Christianity. My husband learned that I had accepted Christ when he found a Bible in the house. I pleaded with him to allow me to try out my new faith and see how far I would go, but he was reluctant. Within days, he became hostile towards me and Nuriah [the daughter] who had also started reading the Bible. I was given a one-week ultimatum to decide if I wanted to become a non-Muslim and follow the lost religion of Christianity.
Knowledge of her apostasy from Islam eventually spread throughout the region and extended family and others urged her husband to drive her out: “You are an infidel,” he eventually burst out. “I do not want to see you here. Pick your clothes and leave with Nuriah because she has also started reading the Bible and singing Christian hymns. See the shame and destruction you have brought to us. Nuriah used to be a good Muslim, but now she hides and goes with you to church.”
The following day before we left [continues Adijah], he had uprooted all the cassava crops I had planted. Shouting at the top of his voice, he threatened to take back everything that he had put under my name so that I will not inherit any property from him. He said these were the dire consequences of forsaking Allah and his prophet and following after other gods.
According to his daughter, Nuriah, “I am ready to become a Christian, but my father might look for me and beat me. I still love my father but he doesn’t want us to worship the way we want. He should not force us into Islam. One of our relatives has informed us that my father is looking for ways to kill us.” He has since remarried. “I hear that he has looked for a Muslim lady and they are staying together in the same house we used to live,” said his ex-wife. “We live in fear because we don’t know what he is planning to do to us.” The destitute mother and daughter have experienced much poverty and turmoil since, and were last reported as taking refuge with a Christian family in another part of the nation.
Separately in Uganda, a former Muslim turned Christian lives in fear for his life after local Muslims razed the church he led to the ground and threatened him with death for apostatizing and causing other Muslims to apostatize from Islam. “A gang of radical Muslims entered the church compound,” Simon Mustafa Waseke, who became Christian in 2017, recalled, “and pulled down the church building while shouting ‘Allah Akbar [Allah is greater], away with this church and Pastor Mustafa Waseke. No more prayers in this place, or else you will all lose your lives,’ and in no time the church was on its ground.” A clandestine Christian in touch with the Muslim community informed him that they are plotting his murder: “Even if am given police protection, I am not sure of the security of my members of the church, who are now very fearful. I am at a crossroads of not knowing what to do. My church members are scattered like sheep without a shepherd. Soon their faith in Christ will diminish, and they will possibly return to Islam…. The Muslims are now out to kill me and my family—we are having sleepless nights. How long are we going to hide ourselves from our enemies of Christianity? Please pray for us.”
Pro-Muslim and Anti-Christian Bias in the West
United Kingdom: A Christian man who had been residing in the UK for 15 years was in early January deported back to Pakistan, even though he had been persecuted there. Asher Samson, 41, “first arrived in the UK in 2004 to carry out his theology training in order to become a pastor, but later applied for asylum after receiving threats from Islamic extremists during visits home,” notes a report. His former pastor, Rev Lorraine Shorton from Hall Green United Community Church, described his current situation: “I’ve received some messages from him. He’s very scared, he’s fearful for his life…. He’s in hiding in Pakistan and his family are terribly worried for him…. At the moment he has no funds to live on—he can’t work …. [T]he UK is sending people back to these countries where their lives are in danger. Pakistan is number five on the World Watch List for extremism against Christians and it’s just disgraceful really that we’re sending people potentially to their death…. Pray that the government will see sense.”
Another separate report from January 20 asserts that, when it comes to offering asylum, the UK “appears to discriminate in favour of Muslims” instead of Christian minorities from Muslim nations. Statistics confirm this allegation: “out of 4,850 Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement by the Home Office in 2017, only eleven were Christian, representing just 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK.”
New Zealand: Of those foreign nationals offered asylum between October 31, 2017 and October 31, 2018, seven were from Iraq, 105 from Afghanistan, and 277 from Syria—yet all were Muslims a report found: “Figures for previous years … are equally bleak. In 2016, only six Christians were among the 377 Syrians granted sanctuary, and in the five weeks up to 10 February 2017 no Christians were among the 45 Syrians, all Muslims, who were allowed to settle. Christians made up 10% of the population of Syria before the war.” Responding to this disparity, a government spokesman said refugees were considered for resettlement on the basis of “their protection needs and not religious affiliation.” However, considering that the Islamic State regularly targets people based on their “religious affiliation” suggests that Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities have many more “protection needs” than Muslims.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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. (Click to Source)
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One of the most noteworthy trends concerns the “shocking reality of persecution against women…. In many places, they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman.”
Another trend that should send an alarm is that, “For the first time since the start of the World Watch List, India has entered the top 10” — meaning Christians there are now experiencing “extreme persecution.”
Last year, Christians were persecuted more than ever before in the modern era — and this year is expected to be worse: “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. “On average, that’s 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.” Additionally, “2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned” in 2018, and “1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.”
Whereas 215 million Christians faced persecution in 2018, 245 million will suffer in 2019, according to Open Doors — a 14% increase, that represents 30 million more people abused for their faith. This means that “1 in 9 Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide” (note: all quotations in this article are from the WWL 2019).
One of the most noteworthy trends concerns the “shocking reality of persecution against women.”
“In many places, 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…”
Another trend, one that should send an alarm, is that, “For the first time since the start of the World Watch List, India has entered the top 10” — meaning Christians there are now experiencing “extreme persecution”:
“Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more each year. Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences. The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith — including Christianity — is viewed as non-Indian. Additionally, in some regions of the country, converts to Christianity from Hinduism experience extreme persecution, discrimination and violence.”
The most obvious trend remains unchanged:
“Islamic oppression continues to impact millions of Christians. In seven out of the top 10 World Watch List countries, the primary cause of persecution is Islamic oppression. This means, for millions of Christians — particularly those who grew up Muslim or were born into Muslim families — openly following Jesus can have painful consequences. They can be treated as second-class citizens, discriminated against for jobs or even violently attacked.”
Not only is that responsible for the persecution Christians face in seven of the ten worst nations; 38 of the 50 nations making the list are Muslim-majority.
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, (#3), “The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. Sharia law and Islam are enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the persecution of Christians almost always involves violence.” In Iran (#9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.”
While the forms persecution and actors behind them vary, many seem connected to Islam. For example, “Under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians continue to live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death.” In Libya (#4), Yemen (#8), Syria (#11), Iraq (#13) war has given rise to Islamic militancy and general lawlessness, both of which prey on Christian minorities.
In Muslim nations where Christians make up a minority, a significant quantity of churches might be needed to meet their numbers — the visibility of which may offend Muslim sensibilities. Thus in Egypt (#16), where Christians number at least 10% of the population (possibly even double that):
“Severe restrictions on building or securing places for worship prevent Christians from congregating, in addition to hostility and violence toward believers who do gather. In recent years, Islamic extremist groups have targeted Christians and churches in numerous violent and deadly acts of persecution.”
“The spread of radical Islam across sub-Saharan Africa” is another growing and troubling trend. For example,
“Nigeria’s score for violence [99.9%] has stayed as high as possible, primarily due to the increased attacks on Christian communities by militant Fulani herdsmen. These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of believers during the reporting period, and villages and churches burned to the ground. Additionally, in parts of northern Nigeria, Christians are treated as second-class citizens.”
Some WWL’s findings are surprising. Although Orthodox Christians are the majority of its population, the Russian Federation is #41, and the “source of persecution” is, again, “Islamic oppression”: “Christians in parts of Russia dominated by Islam report the highest level of persecution.”
Despite the role of religion, North Korea (#1) remains the worst nation, where “never-ending pressure and violence” is directed against Christians:
“The primary driver of persecution in North Korea is the state. For three generations, everything in the country has focused on idolizing the Kim family. Christians are seen as hostiles to be eradicated.”
As difficult as it is for Christians identified by the Kim regime, there may be some eventual relief for them and those in other communist nations (such as China, #27): cults of personalities might last so long, but in the Arab and Muslim world, where, sadly, there seems to be little or no education to respect religious differences, the weight of the dominant religion continues to permeate all of society. (Click to Source)
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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According to a report in the Christian Post, Christians displaced by Islamic attacks at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists are being denied food and vital assistance at camps run by local Muslim organizations. As many as 1.8 million people in Nigeria are currently facing starvation. “They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians.” — Bishop William Naga, who fled his home in the Borno state, Nigeria.
A Pakistani government want-ad for street sweepers states that applicants must be Hindu, Christian or Shia — anyone but the dominant Sunni Muslim population – illustrates the way in which minorities are prevented from earning a living wage.
A sophomore at Rollins College in Florida was suspended for challenging a Muslim professor’s assertion that the crucifixion of Jesus never took place, and that his disciples never believed he was God. After the incident, during a Middle East Humanities class, the straight-A student was graded an “F” on a major essay.
The uptick in often lethal persecution of Christians in Muslim regions has caused many Christian leaders to appeal for aid. Canon Andrew White, the prominent minister known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” told Fox News in March, “If there is anything I can tell Americans it is that your fellow brothers and sisters are suffering, they are desperate for help,” he said. “And it is not just a matter of praying for peace. They need a lot – food, resources, clothes, everything. They need everything.”
White also went as far as to say that Christianity in Iraq, where it has been since the times of the apostles, is finished.
“Thirty years ago, there were approximately 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. The number dwindled to around 1 million after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and a year ago it was estimated that there were less than 250,000 left. Numbers have continued to decline as families flee, and today even approximate figures are difficult to obtain.”
According to a Vatican Radio report, Nigerian Catholic Bishop Joseph Bagobiri responded to “the recent atrocities of Fulani [Muslim] Cattle herdsmen…, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Christians and the destruction of property worth millions of Naira,” by calling on all Christian denominations to implement counter measures against the “systematic elimination of Christianity in the northern part of Nigeria.”
One source said that in one of these assaults, two of the victims “had their eyes plucked out.” A survivor of another said, “The sad thing is that these Fulanis have been attacking our communities, and no one is doing anything about it.”
Commenting on the “horrific attacks” on Coptic Christians in Egypt between December 2016 and March 2017 — during which 40 “innocent children, women and men had their lives brutally and tragically ended for no other reason except that they are Christians” — Coptic Bishop Anba Angaelos of the United Kingdom said the slaughter has “gone largely unnoticed by the international community.” He continued:
“In our fast moving world that is filled with so much news of tragedy, war and death, it is all too easy for atrocities to become ‘incidents,’ and for individuals suffering them to become mere statistics, very quickly pushed aside by the next item of news. In the eyes of the perpetrators they are a viable target, and in the eyes of the world they become a regrettable phenomenon; yet what is actually left behind is traumatized individuals, families and communities that have lost loved ones, living the reality of themselves being targeted.”
A report released in early 2017 by Open Doors — a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in over 60 countries — reveals:
“Islamic extremism” remains the dominant force responsible for the persecution of Christians in 40 of the 50 worst nations;
Nine out of the 10 worst nations for Christians have a Muslim majority (with North Korea being the only non-Islamic exception);
In the 21 (18 of which are Muslim-majority) worst nations for Christians, “100 percent of Christians experience persecution”;
1,329 churches have been attacked, damaged, or destroyed, mostly in Muslim-majority nations;
Muslim Somalia is now the second worst nation for Christians, who are executed instantly if their faith is discovered, or even rumored;
In Nigeria — where more Christians have been slaughtered by Muslims than possibly in any other nation — the killing of Christians went up by 62 percent;
The nation where the most violent and sexual attacks on Christians take place – Muslim-majority Pakistan — rose to the number four spot on the list of the worst countries for Christians.
Accounts of widespread Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in the month of March include, but are not limited to, the following: (Click to Site)
Nine of top 10 countries where Christians suffer are Islamic, according to Open Doors USA.
The majority of anti-Christian persecution in the world in 2013 took place at the hands of Muslims, according to a list by Open Doors USA .
The nondenominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide recently released its 2014 World Watch List, that describes and ranks anti-Christian persecution in a list of the 50 worst countries for the past year.
It reported increasing violence against Christians in Africa, and said radical Muslims were the main source of persecution in 36 countries on its list – both in Islamic countries and in non-Muslim countries such as Kenya (ranked 40th), Ethiopia (17th) and Tanzania (49th).
The top country where Christians suffer, for the 12th consecutive year, remained communist North Korea, though the nine following countries in the top ten were Islamic: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
Open Doors said earlier this month that it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings over the year, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said.
“The one glaring fact that emerges from this report,” American-born scholar Raymond Ibrahim said in his analysis of the statistics on the Christian Broadcasting Network News website, “is that the overwhelming majority of Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America’s allies (Saudi Arabia) and its enemies (Iran); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar) and from poor nations (Somalia and Yemen); Muslims from ‘Islamic republic’ nations (Afghanistan) and from ‘moderate’ nations (Malaysia and Indonesia); [and] Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait).”
Ibrahim, the son of Coptic Christian Egyptian parents, is a Shillman fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum and author of a new book, titled Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, that documents the suffering of Christians in the region.
He noted that in countries that underwent “Arab Spring” uprisings, increased persecution occurred after the regimes collapsed.
“Muslim persecution of Christians,” Ibrahim said, is “part of a continuum that started nearly 14 centuries ago.”