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‘A Massacre Like Killing Animals’: The Muslim Persecution of Christians, March 2023

Gatestone Institute The following are among the murders and abuses inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of March, 2023: Muslim Attacks on Churches France: On Mar. 16, a man, previously “on file for his Islamist radicalization,” stormed the Saint-Hippolyte Church in Paris and disrupted its service.  He also stole the church’s six foot […]
Remains of a church after Muslims demolished it in Uganda on Mar. 15

Gatestone Institute

The following are among the murders and abuses inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of March, 2023:

Muslim Attacks on Churches

France: On Mar. 16, a man, previously “on file for his Islamist radicalization,” stormed the Saint-Hippolyte Church in Paris and disrupted its service.  He also stole the church’s six foot tall Plexiglas cross, which had supported a 400-year-old wooden Christ.  It was later found nearby “smashed into many pieces,” said police.  The man was “taken to the psychiatric infirmary of the Paris police headquarters, his condition not being considered compatible with his police custody.”

Two weeks earlier, on Mar. 2, another man, described as of an “African type,” vandalized Saint-Eustache, one of the largest churches in Paris, including by smashing in the protective glass of an altar with a fire extinguisher.  The report notes that “The suspect’s modus operandi … [is] comparable to that of the Saint-François-Xavier church [vandalism], where damage had been committed on Tuesday, February 28.”

In fact, a total of eight churches in Paris alone were vandalized, including with arson, since the start of 2023.

Finally, on Mar. 8, a Muslim migrant (from Senegal) entered into the Saint-Louis cemetery, in Évreux, and proceeded to break off and desecrate the crucifixes affixed to some 30 graves.  Although he was arrested, according to the report, “His custody was lifted due to his mental health condition. The individual was hospitalized.”

Germany: On Mar. 11, what were described as five or six “youths” attacked a Munich church during evening service, including by smashing a window.   Afterwards, they accosted and insulted the Christians as they exited.  They made “disparaging remarks” about Christianity, cried “Allahu Akbar,” and even managed to sneak in a seemingly random “sh*tty Jews!”  The “youths then fled,” concludes the German language report, adding “Police investigations are ongoing.”

Austria: On Mar. 15, Viennese police headquarters announced a heightened terrorist risk against churches, prompting an increased presence of security agents and police.  According to the German language report,

[T]he police intelligence service received information about a planned attack by a Syrian Islamist terrorist cell.  The threat is apparently aimed at the compatriots who fled to Austria to escape the war and dictator Bashar al-Assad. According to this, they were to be murdered during a visit to Mass because they did not go into battle as holy warriors for jihad.

Middle Eastern churches, including Syriac and Coptic, were especially warned and provided with additional security.  The report adds that “It is unclear how long the churches will be guarded due to the ‘increased risk of Islamist-motivated attacks.’”

Uganda: On Mar. 15, a Muslim mob attacked and razed a church building to the ground (image here).  Pastor John Balidawa, 35, and his son, 14, were inside the church preparing for an all-night prayer vigil when they heard stones striking the building. Then six Muslims, led by an Islamic leader, stormed the church and ordered the pastor and son to leave.  “When I refused to obey their orders, the sheikh and two others started slapping me and then pushed me to the floor and thereafter stepped on my stomach,” said Pastor John. “Others started boxing my son, who started wailing and crying for help. For me and my son to survive is by God’s grace.”  The pastor fell unconscious and awoke alongside his son in a hospital bed. They both sustained several broken bones, cuts, and bruising. Pastor John subsequently learned that the enraged Muslims had completely destroyed his church, including its more than 70 chairs.  On the following day a note was found at the site of the demolished church:  “No more church in this area. This area is holy ground for Allah’s worship only.” About a quarter of the church’s congregation were converts from Islam, and it is believed that this fact helped propel the attack.  Earlier, in 2022, the same sheikh had sent a message to a more senior Christian leader: “You should remove your church, because we cannot watch our members turning to Christianity and keep quiet.”  Discussing the recent demolition, this Christian leader said:

This incident has scared many believers ….The priority now is to safeguard the faith of the Christians from falling away from the faith, especially those members who converted from Islam to Christianity.

Indonesia: On Sunday, Mar. 19, Muslims intruded into a church during—and in order to stop the—worship service.  Discussing the incident, the Rev. Julles Purba said, “They told us that from now on, we should not hold worship service here since, they said, we have no permission.”  The pastor refused to comply and continued the service until the end.  One of the Christians later uploaded onto social media a video of the confrontation, with the comment:

What happens with our worship? It is only once a week, in a closed room, bothers no public order. Does it bother your faith? My house is 50 meters away from the mosque, 5 x listening to the call to prayers a day, not to mention chanting prayers and recitation & we never feel disturbed, guys.

Although the church building is very small and its congregation consists of only 36 members, it also has no walls and allows passersby to see in.  Concludes the report:

Requirements for obtaining permission to build houses of worship in Indonesia are onerous and hamper the establishment of such buildings for Christians and other faiths… Indonesia’s Joint Ministerial Decree of 2006 (SKB) makes requirements for obtaining permits nearly impossible for most new churches.  Even when small, new churches are able to meet the requirement of obtaining 90 signatures of approval from congregation members and 60 from area households of different religions, they are often met with delays or lack of response from officials. Well-organized radical Muslims secretly mobilize outside people to intimidate and pressure members of minority faiths.

Kyrgyzstan:  On Sunday, Mar. 26, police entered St. Nicholas in Talas during evening mass and fined two Slovak nuns after they read from the Bible (initial reports said only one nun was fined)  According to a more recent report,

Officials accused the nuns of illegally preaching Catholicism in Talas without authorization from the State Commission for Religious Affairs….. The nuns did the two readings of the Sunday Mass. But they did not preach or officiate at Mass.  A national regulation stipulates that foreigners gain special permission for missionary work such as preaching or officiating at Mass.  Police claimed to have photographic evidence against the nuns preaching….  [P]olice prevented the Catholics from leaving the church for about an hour and a half until the nuns signed the document….. A central Asian nation and a former Soviet republic, about 90 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s estimated 6.8 population is Muslim, seven percent Christian and about three percent do not follow any religion, according to official data.

The Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Democratic Republic of Congo: Muslim terrorists from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)—which is “driven by an Islamic expansionist agenda and purposely targets Christians”—slaughtered at least 69 Christians during the course of three raids.  Other Christians were abducted and several buildings, including a health clinic and a hospital, were torched to the ground.  Describing the carnage, a local Christian minister said, “It is a massacre like one killing animals.”   Another said,

Christians are suffering…. Christians have moved to areas deemed secure and the church, the body of Christ, is in danger, and where Christians go, suffering continues. …. [T]he church is in danger.

As the ADF is allied with the Islamic State, the latter issued a statement claiming the killings, which it emphasized targeted “Christians.” The accompanying photo depicted Christian property ablaze.

Uganda: On Mar. 10, Muslims murdered a relative after he embraced Christianity and became a pastor. Earlier that day, his extended family had invited Pastor Adinani Bulwa, 42, to his parent’s home to discuss religion.  Once he arrived, “he was pressured to recant the Christian faith,” his widow, who accompanied him, reported, “but he said he was ready to die for Christ’s sake.”  Before long, more Muslim relatives barged into the family home:

They were saying, ‘We are a Muslim family, and Allah is our God.’  We were shaken, and the children and I hid ourselves in the bedroom while leaving my husband at the sitting room.

His relatives proceeded to grab and yank the pastor outside:

[W]e heard a loud wailing.  We remained inside the house. My husband did not return. Early in the morning, I went to see a Christian neighbor who accompanied me to the scene of the incident only to see my husband at a distance half naked [and dead]. I could not control my emotions and shouted in a loud voice. Thereafter I fainted due to shock.

Nigeria: The ignored genocide of Christians continued non-stop.  Some of the more notable atrocities follow:

Mar. 23:  Fulani herdsmen slaughtered a pastor in his home and abducted his wife.

Mar 10: Muslims broke into another pastor’s home, butchered his son, and abducted his wife and three other family members.  The pastor was away attending his brother’s funeral at the time.

Mar. 4: Muslims murder another pastor and his two sons.

Mid-March: Muslims interrupted a funeral and abducted 56 Christians.  The funeral was for a priest that the same terrorists had earlier “burned to ashes.”   Last reported, the terrorists were demanding an exorbitant ransom of N200 million to release the Christians.  Discussing this nonstop persecution and slaughter of Christians in Nigeria, the Rev. Joseph Hayab said,

Who will we cry to and who will we run to for help except God?  Imagine that since the carnage [and] kidnapping of Christians started in Kaduna state, no arrests have been made.

Generic Muslim Persecution of Christians

Sudan: “For leaving Islam to accept Christ,” say a Mar. 19 report,  “a young mother … was chained in her home, subjected to electrical shocks at a psychiatric hospital and has lost her children.”  Awatif Abdalla Kaki, a 27-year-old mother of four in Omdurman, embraced Christ earlier this year—at which point her problems began, chiefly from her Muslim husband, who “tried to force her to renounce her faith by chaining her legs and tightening the chains.”

Asserting that she was mad, he then forcibly took her to a psychiatric hospital, where she received an unidentified injection and electrical shocks against her will….Abdalla’s legs were injured from the chains, and although her husband has taken their children to his parents’ house to live with him, he maintains a large influence on her family and remains a threat… The oldest of her four children is 8 years old…. ‘She continues to live in mental anguish’ [a local source said], adding that her parents and siblings are all Muslims who believe she is suffering mental illness for believing in Christ. ‘I fear for her safety and pray that she can get a refuge outside her home so that she has peace of mind and can grow in her new faith.’ Abdalla is receiving no assistance from any Christians.

Gaza:  According to a Mar. 8 report titled, “Gaza Churches Struggle to Survive,”

Gaza’s Christian community is struggling to survive after years of steady decline in numbers. Only an estimated 1,000 Christian remain in the Gaza Strip, an area of more than 2 million residents.

Among the factors contributing to the diminishing number of Christians are “internal pressures faced from radical Islamist factions in the Hamas-controlled territory”:

Christians of all denominations have played an important and out-sized influence on healthcare, education and business in the Gaza Strip for centuries. Today, among evangelicals, only one known Protestant church continues, it’s [sic] leadership struggling to lead its flock ever since the Bible Society’s Christian bookstore’s manager was martyred in 2007 by local Islamist militants; this was followed by an exodus of church leaders. The Greek (which make up most of Gaza’s Christians in numbers) and Catholic churches face daily pressures from the ruling administration of Hamas’ Islamization efforts…

Iraq: A Mar. 20 report marking the twentieth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq focused on the plight and current status of that nation’s Christian minorities.  Excerpts follow:

…  The history of Iraqi Christians, widely referred to as Chaldeans, Assyrians and Syriacs, dates back more than 5,000 years to Mesopotamia, which many consider to be the cradle of civilisation. Most Chaldeans, Assyrians and Syriacs don’t identify as Arabs because they are indigenous people and speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, which is dying out….  [S]ince the start of the war, the Christian population has reportedly diminished by more than 80 per cent, from an estimated 1.5 million to 250,000… More than 350 churches have been destroyed in attacks carried out by terrorists during this period.

The author, an Iraqi Christian, says the persecution has had a personal impact:

…  ISIS murdered two of my [Christian] cousins whose only crime was following their religious teachings. The war undoubtedly made the country vulnerable to terrorism. Prior to that, Christians had felt safer and enjoyed more religious freedom and protections. After then president Saddam Hussein was toppled from power at the start of the invasion, many Christians were subjected to persecution by terrorists and forced into exile from their ancestral lands…. In 2010, the church my mother took her communion in, Our Lady of Salvation Church, in Baghdad, was bombed in an attack by suicide bombers that left dozens dead. […] On the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war, therefore, I want to raise awareness about the country’s Christians, in the hope that the international community acts to prevent their tragedy from continuing before it is too late.

Egypt: According to a brief Mar. 15 report,  “ at least five Coptic [Christian] women and young women have ‘disappeared’ over the span of three weeks. In all these cases, their families have lodged police reports and issued pleas to the authorities to help find their missing loved ones.”  As documented here, the abduction, rape, and forced conversion of Christian girls and women is endemic to Egypt.  In the words of Coptic Solidarity, a human rights group:

The capture and disappearance of Coptic women and minor girls is a bane of the Coptic community in Egypt, yet little has been done to address this scourge by the Egyptian or foreign governments, NGOs, or international bodies. According to a priest in the Minya Governorate, at least 15 girls go missing every year in his area alone. His own daughter was nearly kidnapped had he not been able to intervene in time…   The rampant trafficking of Coptic women and girls is a direct violation of their most basic rights to safety, freedom of movement, and freedom of conscience and belief. The crimes committed against these women must be urgently addressed by the Egyptian government, ending impunity for kidnappers, their accomplices, and police who refuse to perform their duties. Women who disappear and are never recovered must live an unimaginable nightmare. The large majority of these women are never reunited with their families or friends because police response in Egypt is dismissive and corrupt. There are countless families who report that police have either been complicit in the kidnapping or at the very least bribed into silence.

The Middle East: On Mar. 16, a comprehensive report titled, “Christians In The Middle East: A Persecuted And Forgotten People,” was published by Eurasia Review.  Key excerpts follow:

It [life] is especially difficult for Christians in the Middle East – the region where Jesus was born, preached, died and resurrected as the Bible teaches. For Christians in the Middle East, the Christmas season is not ‘the most beautiful time of the year’ as in the popular Andy Williams song. On the contrary, after two millennia of Christian presence, the Middle East is slowly but surely being cleansed of Christians. …   Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are in danger of disappearing …. It is striking that the Western powers, which have a majority Christian population, are not concerned at all by such a disaster.

The report also found that the number of Christians is in steady decline:

In 2010, Christians made up 6% of the population in the region …. Christians currently make up about 4% of the population of the region – 15 million believers. This is a drastic drop compared to the beginning of the 20th century, when there were slightly more than 20% Christians. If there had been no discrimination, violent persecutions and massacres by the states and Islamist groups there, there is no doubt that the number of Christians would not have remained at 20% but would have grown….  The only country in the region with a growing Christian community is Israel, where the Christian population grew by 1.4% in 2020. …  Christians in Israel benefit from the only functioning democracy in the Middle East… According to the Israel Bureau of Statistics from December 2021, 84% of Christians surveyed said they were satisfied with life in Israel.

The report further makes clear that Christians suffer, not just from “terrorists,” but Muslim state and society:

The legal political and social order in many Arab countries is a source of discrimination. As such, the system is hostile towards all non-Muslims, especially Christians. Christians are often not second or third but tenth class citizens, they suffer discrimination in the educational system, in the workplace, the community tries to ostracize them.

About this Series

The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic.  Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed in July 2011 to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that occur or are reported 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 second-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.

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