The Plight of Christians in Islamic Lands

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“In all its history, Islam has shown a warlike and conquering face; for almost a thousand years, Europe and it’s Christians lived under its constant threat. What remains of the Christian population in Islamic countries is still subjected to perpetual discrimination with regular episodes of bloody persecution.:

Giuseppe De Rosa, S.I.

Most anti-Christian persecution in the world took place at the hands of Muslims.
American scholar Raymond Ibrahim wrote 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 noted that in countries that underwent “Arab Spring” uprisings, increased persecution occurred after the regimes collapsed. “Muslim persecution of Christians,” Ibrahim wrote, is “part of a continuum that started nearly 14 centuries ago.”

This ongoing religious persecution is forcing millions of Christians to flee their homes. Christians are disappearing from entire regions in the Middle East particularly in the land where Christianity was born, Palestine.
In other Middle East countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq), there were flourishing Christian populations prior to the Islamic invasion and occupation of the region. Today there are only small Christian communities remaining.
In Africa, the situation is not much better. Most Christians in northern Nigeria have fled their homes where the Islamist terror group Boko Haram is waging a campaign of terror against Christians in the country.
In the Maghreb states, there were numerous Christian communities before the Muslim invasion. After the Arab conquest, Christianity was absorbed by the occupying Islam to such an extent that today Christianity has a presence only in Egypt represented by the Coptic church which makes up 8% percent of the Egyptian population. This number is decreasing by the year.
Christian women and girls in Muslim countries have always been particularly vulnerable due to the repression prompted by their gender and the hostility and persecution that comes from their minority Christian faith. In Pakistan and Afghanistan women are regularly abducted and raped for minor infringements of the Islamic dress code.
The Middle East continues to be a major hub of anti-Christian persecution. David Alton the crossbench peer and campaigner on the issue, described events in Syria and Iraq as “a genocide that dares not speak its name”.

In all the places where Islam imposed itself by military force Christianity practically disappeared or was reduced to tiny pockets in an endless sea of Islamic rule. Reduction of Christianity to small minorities was not only due to violent religious persecution, but to the conditions in which Christians were forced to live within the occupying Islamic state. Throughout its history, Islam has shown a disdain for the “infidels” who were given a choice: to convert to Islam, pay the dhimma (a punitive tax) be deported from Islamic lands or be eliminated or killed.” (Quran, Sura 9:29).

Did Christians ever enjoy harmony and equality under Islamic rule? Was there a cultural golden age in Islamic Spain, with Muslims, Christians and Jews living in harmony as we have been made to believe through myths and uncorroborated facts?? Irrefutable evidence points to the contrary. America Castro, who coined the word convivence to describe the life of the three faiths in Spain, wrote, in his book The Structure of Spanish History: “Each of the three peoples of the peninsula saw itself forced to live for eight centuries together with the other two at the same time as it passionately desired their extermination.”

The tension was only resolved in the “Reconquista” of Spain by the Christians. Spain in fact was the only territory long under an Islamic rule where Christians did not dwindle into a helpless minority. This is primarily due to the fact that Muslims did not constitute the majority of the population…
Another exaggerated myth is that of the Islamic contribution to Western civilization. No doubt some Muslim scholars in the “Golden Age” of Islamic expansion- 9th to 13th centuries- such as al-Khwarizmi made a valuable contribution to mathematics (algebra) and astronomy while others acted as conduits for translating Greek and Persian science texts. What is less known however is that most of these translations were carried out by Christians and Jews
One such prominent translator was Patriarch Timothy I of the Church of the East who lived in Baghdad.at the height of the Abbasid Caliphate. Patriarch Timothy, who ruled his church for 43 years, translated Aristotle’s Topics for the caliph al-Mahdi, in whose court he conversed with other Aristotelian philosophers on knowledge and the doctrine of God.

Cri de Coeur

The Status of Christians In today’s Islamic world is no better than it has always been throughout history if not much worse. The following statistics speak volume for their unhappy plight. Each month in Islamic countries 322 Christians are killed, 214 churches and properties are destroyed and 722 forms of violence and abuse are perpetrated against them. *
The latest Islamic acts of terrorism in Europe and around the world, triggered panic among people who became aware of the danger of uncontrolled Islamic immigration. Calls for a stop on immigration from Islamic nations can be heard everywhere. While this is understandable and in some instances justified, the worry is that the Christian minorities in those countries who are at the forefront of Islamic persecution will fall victim to this ban and pay the heaviest price.

“Christians in Islamic countries today do not practice crucifixion, stoning or beheading of their opponents nor do they blow themselves up to kill innocent bystanders” confided a Christian colleague in a recent debate on Muslim immigration to America. “We do not ram buses onto unsuspecting pedestrians walking along a promenade enjoying the sunshine. We do not stab innocent individuals to death for being of a different religion from ours” he continued. “and we certainly wouldn’t dream of flying a plane full of innocent passengers into the twin towers or any other high rise building with a view to massacring as many people as possible”

Above all else, he continued “we are grateful to be living in America and to bring up our children in peace and security as proud and patriotic Americans”

My colleague is right. Christians who settle in American (or anywhere in Europe) assimilate and become a productive and integral part of the society they live in. They do not come with the baggage of an alternate higher religious authority to whom they owe allegiance. Their loyalty is undivided and it goes unequivocally to their new host nations.

For those reasons, any ban on immigration from Muslim countries must exclude the Christians with whom we share our Judeo-Christian heritage. If we in the West continue to need immigrants we must not only exclude Christians from any ban, we ought to proactively seek them and encourage them to come. They will continue to make a positive contribution to our societies.

References

  • Sidney Griffith: The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque (Princeton, 2008).
  • Raymond Ibrahim, “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians”,
  • La Civilian Catholica October 18 2003
  • America Castro, The Structure of Spanish History
  • The Telegraph  The Middle East is red with the blood of Christians
  • Michael Nimier https://islamarabia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/first-blog-post/
  • *Open Doors https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-
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