The Rise of Christian Persecution In Islamic Countries

Farrukh Saif

June 12, 2024

Christian Persecution in Islamic countries

Christian persecution in Islamic countries has been a growing concern, with incidents of violence, discrimination, and intolerance escalating in recent years. The challenges faced by Christian communities in these regions are multifaceted and rooted in historical, social, and political hatred. Today, we will highlight the recent incidents of Christian persecution across various Islamic countries and focus on the lack of substantial support from the Western world to defend these persecuted communities.

Recent Incidents of Christian Persecution

Nigeria:

Nigeria has witnessed some of the most brutal attacks on Christians in recent year. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen have been responsible for numerous attacks on Christian villages. In the New Year’s attack on January 1, 2024, 14 Christians were killed on their way home from a midnight church service.

Between late April and early May 2024, nearly 50 Christians were killed in a series of militant attacks on villages in Benue, Plateau, and Kaduna states. Specifically: 6 Christians were killed in southern Kaduna on May 5. And 28 Christians were killed in Benue between April 20. Before that on 19 April, 12 Christians were killed in Plateau.

On June 4, 2024, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) executed 3 Christian men they had abducted in Borno state. During the Christmas holiday in December 2023, over 140 Nigerian Christians were massacred in Plateau State in coordinated attacks by Fulani militias across 26 Christian farming villages. In total, based on information, at least 232 Christians were killed in various attacks across multiple states in Nigeria in 2024 so far.

Apart from the Killing of Christians, at least 563 women and children were abducted in mass kidnappings across multiple states in northern Nigeria in just over a week in early March 2024. The largest incidents were the 200 women in Borno and 287 students in Kaduna.

Pakistan:

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been a significant tool for persecuting Christians. In August 2023, a violent mob attack occurred in Jaranwala, Punjab province, targeting the local Christian community. The violence was sparked by allegations that a Christian man had desecrated the Quran. A mob of thousands vandalized and burned 21 churches and damaged over 90 Christian properties and homes. Several Christian families were forced to flee their homes due to the violence.

On May 25, 2024, an enraged mob brutally assaulted 70-year-old Christian man Nazir Masih in Sargodha, Punjab. The attack was triggered by false blasphemy allegations that Masih had burned pages of the Quran. Masih suffered severe head injuries and was hospitalized. He tragically succumbed to his wounds on June 12, 2024. The mob ransacked and burned down Masih’s shoe shop and home, forcing his family to flee.

Egypt:

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have faced systemic persecution, including attacks on churches and individual Christians. In November 2023, a Coptic church in Cairo was bombed, resulting in the deaths of 29 worshippers. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, underscoring the persistent threat from extremist groups. Despite efforts by the Egyptian government to provide security, the Coptic community continues to live in fear of violence and discrimination.

Iran:

In Iran, Christians, particularly those who convert from Islam, face severe persecution. In February 2023, several house churches were raided, and dozens of Christians were arrested on charges of “acting against national security.” The Iranian government views Christianity as a threat to the Islamic identity of the state, leading to harsh crackdowns on Christian activities and severe penalties for converts.

Iraq:

The Christian population in Iraq has dwindled significantly due to ongoing persecution and instability. In 2023, Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains were attacked by militias, resulting in the displacement of thousands of Christians. These attacks are part of a broader pattern of targeting religious minorities in the region, which has led to a significant decline in the Christian population since the early 2000s.

Lack of Support from the Western World:

Despite the increasing persecution of Christians in Islamic countries, there has been a noticeable lack of substantial support from the Western world. Several factors contribute to this apparent apathy:

Political and Economic Interests:

Many Western countries have strategic political and economic interests in Islamic countries. These interests often take precedence over human rights issues, including the persecution of Christians. For instance, profitable arms deals, oil interests, and alliances in the Middle East and North Africa often lead to muted responses to reports of Christian persecution.

Fear of Islamophobia:

 In an era where Islamophobia is a significant concern, Western governments and organizations may be reluctant to highlight the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries for fear of being accused of bias against Muslims. This fear can result in a lack of vocal support for persecuted Christians and inadequate pressure on offending governments to change their policies.

Humanitarian Aid and Refugee Policies:

While Western countries do provide humanitarian aid and accept refugees, the focus is often on broader crises rather than targeted support for persecuted Christian communities. Christian refugees sometimes find themselves marginalized in the broader refugee resettlement process, with little specific attention to their unique vulnerabilities.

Media Coverage:

 The mainstream media in the West tends to focus more on conflicts and crises that have direct geopolitical implications for Western countries. As a result, the persecution of Christians, which may not have immediate geopolitical repercussions, often receives less coverage, leading to lower public awareness and pressure on governments to act.

Silence Can Wipe Out Christianity in Islamic Countries:

The rise of Christian persecution in Islamic countries is a grave issue that requires urgent attention. Recent incidents in Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq highlight the severe and often deadly challenges faced by Christian communities. Despite this, the lack of substantial support from the Western world continues to be a significant impediment to addressing the crisis.

It is imperative for the international community, including Western governments and organizations, to prioritize the protection of religious minorities and take concrete actions to support persecuted Christians. Without such efforts, the plight of Christians in these regions will only worsen, leading to further suffering and displacement.

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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