Unlike those nations, such as Saudi Arabia, that have eliminated Christianity altogether, Muslim countries with significant Christian minorities saw much persecution during the month of May: in Egypt, Christians were openly discriminated against in law courts, even as some accused the nation's new president of declaring that he will "achieve the Islamic conquest of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam;" in Indonesia, Muslims threw bags of urine on Christians during worship; in Kashmir and Zanzibar, churches were set on fire; and in Mali, Christianity "faces being eradicated."
Elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa—in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, the Ivory Coast—wherever Islam and Christianity meet, Christians are being killed, slaughtered, beheaded and even crucified.
Categorized by theme, May's assemblage of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity. Note: As Pakistan had the lion's share of persecuted Christians last month, it has its own section below, covering the entire gamut of persecution—from apostasy and blasphemy to rape and forced conversions.
- A mob of 600 Muslims threw bags of urine, stones, and rotten eggs
at the congregation of a Protestant church at the start of Ascension
Day service; they shouted profanities and threatened to kill the pastor.
No arrests were made. The church had applied for a permit to construct
its house of worship five years ago. Pressured by local Muslims, the
local administration ordered the church shut down in December 2009, even
though the Supreme Court recently overruled its decision, saying that
the church was eligible for a permit. Local Muslims and officials are
nevertheless demanding that the church shut down.
- After protests "by hard-line groups including the Islamic Defenders Front," nearly 20 Christian houses of worship were sealed off
by authorities on the pretext of "not having permits." The authorities
added that, to accommodate the region's 20,000 Christians, only one
church may be built in the district in question.
- The Muslim mayor who illegally sealed the beleaguered GKI Yasmin
church, forcing congregants to worship in the streets, has agreed to
reopen it—but only if a mosque is built next door,
to ensure that the church "stays in line." "As well as opposition from
the mayor, the church has faced hostility from local Muslims, who have
rallied against them [the Christians], blocked them from accessing the
street where the church is situated and disrupted their outdoor
services. It is unlikely that they will suddenly embrace the
Christians," according to the report.
Kashmir: A Catholic church made entirely of wood was partially destroyed after unknown assailants set it on fire. "What happened," said the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, "is not an isolated case," and follows the "persecution" of a pastor who baptized Muslims. "With these gestures, the Muslim community is trying to intimidate the Christian minority."
Kuwait: Two months after the Saudi Grand Mufti decreed, in response to a question on whether churches may exist in Kuwait, that all regional churches must be destroyed, villa-churches serving Western foreigners are being targeted. One congregation was evicted without explanation "from a private villa used for worship gatherings for the past seven years;" another villa-church was ordered to "pay an exorbitant fine each month to use a facility it had been renting…. Church leaders reportedly decided not to argue and moved out."
Zanzibar: Hundreds of Muslims set two churches on fire and clashed with police during protests against the arrest of senior members of an Islamist movement known as the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation. Afterwards, the group issued a statement denying any involvement of wrongdoing.
Pakistan: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Rape, Forced Conversions, and Oppression
- A 20-year-old Christian man was arrested and charged with "blasphemy"—a
crime "punishable with life imprisonment"—after vengeful Muslims
accused him of burning a Koran soon after a billiard game. The Muslims
kept taunting and threatening him, to which the Christian "dared them to
do whatever they wanted and walked away." Days later came the
accusation and arrest, which caused Muslim riots, creating "panic among
Christians," who "left their houses anticipating violence."
- Two years ago, after a Muslim man converted to Christianity and told his wife, she abused and exposed him,
resulting in his being severely beaten. "No one was willing to let me
live the life I wanted [as a Christian]—they say Islam is not a religion
of compulsion, but no one has been able to tell me why Muslims who
don't find satisfaction in the religion become liable to be killed." He
eventually divorced, escaped, and remarried a Christian woman. Now that
his family has again discovered his whereabouts, they have resumed
threatening him. According to his wife: "Every other day, we receive
threatening phone calls…They are now asking him to abandon us and
renounce Christianity, threatening that they will kill me and our
- A new report indicates that "on average, eight to ten Christians are being forced every month by fanatic Muslims to convert to Islam,
mostly in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. The victims of forced
conversions are often girls from poor backgrounds who are then subjected
to harrowing and traumatic ordeals. Most of the girls are vulnerable
and unable to defend themselves against extremists because their
community is deprived, defenseless and marginalized. Christians, who
constitute about two percent of the Pakistani population, are paying a
high price for being a part of the minority community." Two such cases
from May follow:
- In an attempt to force her to drop charges against them for raping her 13-year-old niece, a band of Muslims severely beat a pregnant Christian woman causing her to lose female twins to miscarriage.
The rapists came when all male members of the Christian household were
out working and beat the women "mercilessly." "They murdered our
children, they raped our daughter. We have nothing left with us,"
lamented an older family member. As usual, police ignored both cases:
both the raped Christian girl and her beaten family.
- A 14-year-old Christian girl was abducted and forced to convert to Islam
by her uncle, who himself had earlier converted. Pakistani police
refused to liberate her, and said she converted of her own free will.
According to her father: "After converting, my brother is conspiring
against our family and kidnapped Mary with deception."
- The investigation into the murder of the nation's only cabinet-level Christian,
Shahbaz Bhatti, has become mired amid suspicions of a possible
cover-up. Lax investigations, a series of freed suspects, and lack of
coordination across law enforcement organizations have stalled the case
after the March 2, 2011 slaying of the federal minister for Minority
Affairs, who was an outspoken critic of, and targeted by, those who
support Pakistan's "blasphemy" laws.
- Christians are being threatened and abused
for trying, since 1947, to save their community's graveyard. Despite
failing to produce any proof, a retired Muslim official who claims he
"recently discovered" that the land really belongs to him has already
built a boundary wall, reducing the graveyard to less than a third of
its original size, and turned the seized land over to agricultural use.
Police, as usual, are failing to react.
[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]
Eritrea: Activists taking part in a protest outside the Eritrean embassy in London revealed that "Some 2,000 to 3,000 Christians are currently detained in Eritrea without charge or trial… Several Christians are known to have died in notorious prison camps," and "thousands of Eritreans flee their country every year," some falling "into the hands of abusive traffickers, and are held hostage in torture camps in the Sinai Desert pending payment of exorbitant ransoms, or the forcible removal of organs."
Ethiopia: A Christian man accused of "desecrating the Koran" spent two years in prison, where he was abused, pressured to convert to Islam, and left paralyzed. Now returning home, he has found that his two young children have been abducted by local Muslims: "My life is ruined—I have lost my house, my children, my health. I am now homeless, and I am limping."
Greece: Abet Hasman, the deputy mayor of Patras who recently passed away, left a message to be revealed only in his obituary—that, although born to Muslim parents in Jordan, he was "secretly baptized" a Christian (demonstrating how some Muslims who convert to Christianity, knowing the consequences of apostasy, choose secrecy).
Indonesia: A predominantly Christian neighborhood was attacked for several days by "unidentified persons," who set fire to homes and cars. Dozens of Christian families fled their homes, "many fear[ing] the involvement of Islamic extremist groups."
Iran: A prominent house church pastor remains behind bars, even as his family expresses concerns that he may die from continued abuse and beatings, leading to internal bleeding and other ailments; authorities refuse to give him medical treatment. Also, the attorney of Youssef Nadarkhani—the imprisoned Christian pastor who awaits execution for apostasy—was himself "convicted for his work defending human rights and is expected to begin serving his nine-year sentence in the near future." Meanwhile, in a letter attributed to him, the imprisoned pastor wrote: "I have surrendered myself to God's will...[and I] consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith...[so that I may] prove my loyalty and sincerity to God."
Jordan: After the Jordanian Dubai Islamic Bank decreed that all females must wear the hijab, the Islamic veil or be terminated, it fired all female employees who refused to wear the hijab—mostly Christians, including one Christian woman who had worked there for 27 years. There are suspicions that this new policy was set to target and terminate the Christian employees, as it is they who are most likely to reject the hijab.
Lebanon: A 24-year-old woman, the daughter of a Shiite cleric, who was "physically and psychologically tortured by her father for converting to Christianity three years ago," managed to escape and be baptized by a Christian priest—who was himself then abducted and interrogated to disclose the whereabouts of the renegade woman. In like manner, Muslim assailants fired gunshots at the house of another priest and at a church -- "part of an escalating pattern of violence against local Catholics," in the words of the region's prelate.
Macedonia: After some Muslims were arrested in connection to a "series of murders of Christians," thousands of fellow Muslims demonstrated after Friday prayers, shouting slogans such as "death to Christians!," and calling for "jihad."
Mali: Ever since the government was overthrown in a coup, "the church in Mali faces being eradicated," especially in the north, "where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out….there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives."
Nigeria: Muslim gunmen set fire to a home in a Christian village and then opened fire on all who tried to escape the inferno, killing at least seven and wounding many others, in just one of dozens of attacks on Christians.
Sudan: Without reason, security officials closed down regional offices of the Sudan Council of Churches and a much needed church clinic for the poor; staff members were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location: "Their families are living in agony due to the uncertainty of their fate."
Syria: Jihadi gunmen evicted all the families of a Christian region, "taking over all the homes of the village, occupying the church and turning it to their base."
Uzbekistan: Police raided a Protestant house-church meeting, claiming "that a bomb was in the home." No bomb was found, only Christian literature which was confiscated. Subsequently, 14 members of the unregistered church were heavily fined—the equivalent of 10-60 times a monthly salary—for an "unsanctioned meeting in a private home." Between February and April, 28 Protestants were fined and four were issued warnings for the offence. Three Baptists were also fined for not declaring their personal Bibles while crossing the border from Kazakhstan into Uzbekistan. Fines and warnings were accompanied by the confiscation of religious literature.