How Victims of Rape Are Viewed: The Persecution of Christians, August 2022


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How Victims of Rape Are Viewed: The Persecution of Christians, August 2022
By Raymond Ibrahim

Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.

The following are among the abuses Muslims inflicted on Christians throughout the month of August 2022:

The Jihad on Christian Girls​

Pakistan: After refusing to review evidence from a Christian couple trying to recover their 12-year-old daughter from a married Muslim man accused of kidnapping her and forcing her to convert to Islam and marry him, Muslim judge Sadaqat Ali Khan threw the case out of court on Aug. 18.

When the parents first reported the kidnapping, her kidnapper, Imran Shahzad and his wife Adiba, were brought in for questioning. However, when the 12-year-old girl was produced at court and said that she had converted of her free will and married her Muslim kidnapper, the judge — ignoring the girl’s young age and distraught demeanor — ordered the accused released and the girl returned to him, even though there was massive contrary evidence to indicate that the girl was being coerced to lie under duress.

The evidence included a voice recording of her Muslim husband threatening to butcher the girl’s two brothers if she failed to support him in court. Discussing the more recent appeals hearing, one human rights activist involved with the case, Sherkan Malik, said:

“The judge dismissed our petition in under two minutes—he even refused to look at any of the evidence, which clearly showed that the minor child was threatened to give a statement in favor of the accused, Imran Shahzad and his wife Adiba… The sessions court completely ignored her birth certificate, church registration documents and school certifications which confirmed her age as 12 [the legal age to marry under the Punjab Child Marriage Restraint Act is 16]…. Police and judiciary tend to support those who commit crimes such as forced conversions, child marriages and sexual violence because they believe they will receive a heavenly reward for helping convert someone to Islam, regardless of how intentional or coercive the conversion is.”

Egypt: On Sunday, Aug. 7, another minor Christian girl “disappeared” on her way to attend morning mass. Abigail Magdy Zakaria’s phone was later discovered turned off. Her parents quickly informed the National Security Agency, which, however, “did not give any indication of pursuing the issue,” said the report, before adding:

“Disappearance of Coptic girls, a rampant phenomenon in Egypt over the past three decades, that qualifies under international law as ‘human trafficking,’ has become worse in recent years. Typically, organized Islamic groups target certain girls to lure and convert them to Islam. The police and state security agency often turn a blind eye to such crimes and may even help whisk the victim to Al-Azhar’s conversion office to complete the official conversion certificate in record time. In the rare cases where a girl is returned to her family, the culprits are never held accountable. In other words, the supposedly law-preserving authorities act as implicit, if not explicit, partner in such heinous crimes.”

In response to this latest and many more kidnappings of Christian girls in Egypt, on Aug. 9, Coptic Solidarity issued the following petition (sign here):

“I am writing to you out of deep concern for the safety and well-being of the indigenous Coptic women and minor girls in Egypt who have been increasingly targeted for trafficking, forced marriage, and forced conversion. This serious human rights abuse has been well-documented with former traffickers confirming that the networks are coordinated by Imams of local mosques and with the complicity of Egyptian police, and that traffickers are paid for every Coptic female they kidnapped. This targeting and forced conversion of Coptic women is an intentional form of genocide… lowering the number of Christians in Egypt and ensuring that their children are raised as Muslims. More recently Egyptian police have ‘found’ abducted women, but only after enough international pressure and media attention was garnered in specific cases such as those of married women with children such as Ranya ‘Abd al-Masih and Mary Wahib Joseph who were abducted, forced to wear a hijab and record videos claiming leaving their homes and converting to Islam of their own free will, despite the women clearly being under duress in the recordings. Several other minor girls have also been recently recovered. These women are fortunate in that they represent a very small minority of trafficked Coptic women who are recovered. YET, in every instance, the circumstances of them being ‘found’ and returned to their families is extremely murky, and not a single individual involved in the trafficking has been held to account by Egyptian police or the judiciary. I respectfully urge you to raise the epidemic of trafficking of Coptic women and girls…”

Nigeria: On Aug. 14, two Muslims tried to rape a 16-year-old Christian girl, but were prevented by her mother’s forceful intervention. The Christian women were walking towards their farmland when the Muslim men approached them. “They told us to stop,” the mother said during a recent interview. “Then the Fulani [Muslim herdsmen] beat me and injured me… I was trying to stop them from raping my daughter.” While explaining, she simulated the incident by repeatedly raising her arm, which had a deep gash suffered from the militants’ hacking blades. The girl was unable to participate in the interview and “was traumatized and crying throughout the visit.”

This is not the first time for the Muslim Fulani to harm these Christian women. In 2017, they raided their village and killed 29 other Christians, displacing the rest of the villagers. The mother, however, seemed only grateful to have been able to shield “her daughter from public disgrace and shame, which is often how victims of rape are viewed in their society.”

“I have nothing to say but thank God. Please tell Christians to pray for me and my daughter. Pray that we will return to our village one day because life is too expensive for us in the city.”

Jihadist Slaughter of Christians​

Egypt: On Aug. 30, Muslims murdered two Christians, a father and son. The two were shot dead while working on their farm by suspected Islamic State militants in Sinai. Waheeb, the elder, left behind five children; his son, Hany, who was killed by his side, is survived by a wife and two daughters. The Islamic State, active in Sinai, has vowed to “wipe out” Egypt’s Christian community, and has killed many.

Mozambique: Muslims beheaded two Christians during a raid on a minibus. The murders were later claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) of Mozambique, known locally as al-Shabaab (“the youth,” not to be confused with Somalia’s Islamic terror group of the same name). A statement by the jihadists declared, “By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate … killed two Christians, beheading them, and shooting them with weapons.” According to the report,

“Islamists gained effective control of an area of Cabo Delgado in 2017. The province has since been termed ‘the Land of Fear’ owing to brutal violence meted out against both Christians and moderate Muslims. Mozambican and Southern African Development Community forces had started to drive the Islamists back in late 2021. However, the Islamist insurgency now appears to be spreading. In June 2021, ISIS-Mozambique claimed responsibility for the ‘beheading of several Christians’ in Cabo Delgado. Another was beheaded during a raid on a Christian village in the neighboring province of Nampula.”

Nigeria: At least 20 others Christians were slaughtered in the first two weeks of August during Islamic attacks on Christian villages. Ayuba Matthew, a local, said:

“Constant killings and maiming of innocent Christians by terrorists and herdsmen bandits [Muslim Fulani] have become very common here in Taraba state. So also, kidnappings of Christians has become a problem.”

The constant depredations have further “displaced more than 10,000 people from the predominantly Christian villages.”

Discussing the ongoing jihad on Nigeria’s Christians, Johan Viljoen, director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said:

“I am shocked [at the spate of kidnappings] because I know many priests and religious in that part of the country. We are dealing here with a sustained campaign to wipe out Christianity in general and the Catholic church in particular. No Christian is safe.”

Like many other Christian leaders in Africa, he accused the Muslim president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, of being complicit in the nonstop Fulani attacks:

“No ‘armed gunmen’ are ever arrested or stand trial. His government has stood for the right of ‘cattle herders’ to occupy any land. Governors who have tried to rein them in face opposition from the federal government.”

Similarly, Marcela Szymanski, head of advocacy for Aid to the Church in Need International, said,

“Islamist extremists and criminals in Nigeria abduct the sole providers of social services to the most vulnerable, leaving thousands destitute and hungry,” even as the Buhari government “looks the other way, and the West calls them ‘preferred partners’ because they have oil and gas!…. It is likely that members of the party in power get kickbacks from oil [companies]; they couldn’t care less about the starvation of their own citizens! We see the same pattern in most mineral-rich nations, who count among the poorest in the world.”

Death to and in Churches​

Egypt: On Sunday, Aug. 14, the Church of Abu Seifein — named after Saint Mercurius of Caesarea — caught fire as it was packed with over two hundred worshippers celebrating morning mass. At least 41 Christians — 18 of whom were children—were either burned alive or killed by asphyxiation. Five-year-old triplets, their mother, grandmother, and an aunt were among those killed, along with the officiating priest. According to one report, “Eyewitnesses said firetrucks and ambulances arrived to the site over one hour after signaling the fire, even though they’re stationed in a nearby street,” which caused more lives needlessly to be lost. Despite radical Muslims having torched or bombed hundreds of Coptic churches over the decades in Egypt — 62 churches in 2013 alone — what was presented as the official cause, only minutes after the fire department finally arrived, was “faulty electric wiring,” even though, as many critics pointed out, it takes a serious, prolonged investigation before such a determination can be made — not minutes.

Equally telling is that all throughout the month of August—particularly within the dates of an important religious season — a total of eleven Coptic churches in Egypt supposedly “caught fire,” none of which was reported in the Western press (apparently because no one died in these fires, some of which were major, while others were minor or caught early enough to prevent serious damage, thanks to heightened vigilance among the Christians themselves).

In every one of those eleven fires, Egyptian authorities denied arson as a possible cause, citing instead “natural” or accidental causes such as faulty wiring, electric overloads, and so on, even though there was obvious foul play in at least one case: Two days after the fire that killed 41 Christians, on Aug. 16, witnesses saw someone on the balcony of a residential building adjacent to the Church of Saint Mary the Egyptian hurl some combustible substance onto the top floor of the church. Christians quickly put it out and called the authorities but instead of blaming the apartment in question — and thus risking worse by way of “reprisals” — the church diplomatically asked the authorities to investigate with due diligence, especially the nearby building. The only thing that came out of it was another flaming object hurled onto the church on Aug 21.

In a recent program dedicated to discussing the plight of churches in Egypt, the prolific Egyptian writer and researcher, Magdi Khalil observed that of the 3,000 or so churches in Egypt, over the past 50 years hundreds have been torched. Meanwhile, although there are at least half a million mosques and prayer halls in Egypt, not one has ever burned due to “faulty electric wiring,” or similar claims.

Other numbers further underscore the extreme discrimination against churches in Egypt: about 90 million Muslims have half a million mosques, whereas 10 million Christians have a mere 3,000 churches. Little wonder churches are always cramped fire hazards.

After pointing out that those who target Christians in Egypt rarely if ever suffer any consequences, Khalil, exclaimed, “Incitement against the Copts is daily in Egypt! Accusing the Copts of being infidels [kuffar] is daily in Egypt! Mockery of Christianity and the sacred things of Christianity and the accusation that the Bible is distorted [moharraf] occurs daily in Egypt!”

Nigeria: A Muslim gang “shot their way onto the site of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Dinya village.” According to the parish priest, the Rev. Lawrence Awua:

“The terrorists broke into the premises of our church on Sunday, Aug. 14, as we were already in our bedrooms. They were shooting indiscriminately in the premises of the church. Our catechist, Mr. Gideon Tsehemba, was forcefully dragged out of the church with a gun pointed at him. I was already in my bedroom, but they thought there was no one around except the catechist.”

Elsewhere in Nigeria on the same Sunday afternoon (Aug. 14), according to a local, Muslims shot and severely wounded a Christian:

“Mr. Faga was returning to his home from his church after worship service at about 2 p.m. when the terrorists shot him. He’s currently receiving treatment in a local hospital here.”

Generic Hate for and Abuse of Christians​

Uganda: Muslims cut off the hand of an apostate from Islam. More than a month earlier, on June 17, Musa John Kasadah, a 42-year-old married father of six children, left Islam and embraced Christianity after attending an open-air event comparing both religions. Before long, local Muslims, including some siblings, noticed that he and his family had stopped attending Friday mosque prayers. The pastor who led Musa and his family to Christ began to receive threatening messages, including:

“It has come to our attention that Musa Kasadah and the family are attending your church. This should stop immediately, otherwise your church is at risk.”

The pastor responded by helping Musa and his family clandestinely relocate to the plantation of a local official. The persistent jihadists nevertheless tracked them down. On July 26, four Muslims intercepted and accosted Musa and his family in a field near their temporary home:

“You thought that we shall not get hold of you? We have been tracking you from the house of [the local official] to here, and today is your last day to be alive. Allah has given you into our hands.”

“They started beating my husband and then got hold of me and tied me up,” said Musa’s wife, Asiya. “They forced me to sing Christian songs as they began chopping off my husband’s hand.” During this torture session, one of the Muslims “took a long Somali sword and began cutting off his hand, intending to kill him.”

“After chopping off his hand and part of his forearm, a truck arrived with sugarcane workers, and the assailants disappeared into the plantation.”

The truck drivers helped to arrange an ambulance to take the family to a nearby hospital. Apparently fearful of worse repercussions, the “family has yet to file a police report.”

Egypt: Authorities seized a four-year-old child from his adoptive Christian parents on a technicality of Islamic law. Four years ago, a Coptic priest heard cries coming from inside his empty church. He discovered a newborn baby boy, apparently abandoned by a mother who bore him out of wedlock. The priest entrusted the newborn babe to a childless couple from his congregation. Considering that they had been praying for 29-years to give them a child, they joyously embraced the boy as their own and baptized and named him Shenouda, a popular Coptic name. For the next four years everything went well. Shenouda became the pride and joy of his adoptive parents’ lives. Seeing him as a “gift from God,” they spared no care or expense on his upbringing.

Then the Egyptian state learned about this happy development and authorities seized the 4-year-old child from his loving parents’ arms and sent him to an orphanage. Although adoption is illegal in Egypt (based on an innovation of Muhammad’s) there are state-approved ways for families to take custody of orphan children. In the present case, however, the primary argument being used by the state against Shenouda’s adoptive parents’ legal attempts to reclaim the boy revolves around religion.

Because Islam teaches that every human is born as a Muslim (until their parents conform them to their own religion), and because the religious identity of Shenouda’s biological parents is unknown, he must, therefore, be considered a Muslim; and entrusting Muslim children to non-Muslim parents is strictly forbidden.

Since being transferred to an overcrowded and underfed orphanage, the child was forcibly “returned” to Islam. He was issued a birth certificate — marked “Muslim” under religion — and given an acceptable Muslim name, Yusuf. Meanwhile, logic suggests that Shenouda was born to a Christian mother — or at least to a mother who thought Christians would best know how to raise her unwanted child. Otherwise, why abandon the baby in a church?

Pakistan: A recent video report found that, although Christians make up only 1.6% of the Muslim nation’s population, they account for 90% of Islamabad’s sanitation workers. This is thought to be in keeping with Koran injunctions, especially Koran 9:29, which calls on Muslims to fight “the People of the Book,” meaning Christians and Jews, until they pay tribute (jizya) and are always made to feel “fully humbled.” This is also why many sanitation job listings in Pakistan often advertise “for non-Muslims only”: working in garbage all day is for “infidels,” not ritually clean Muslims. Another report notes:

“Most sanitation workers in Pakistan are Christian…. Christian sanitation workers are routinely called derogatory terms such as Choora [slur for “Christian” and/or “low class” people]… and face sexual harassment, discrimination, nonpayment of salaries, irregular work contracts and extortion by senior officers…. Christian workers, particularly women, also have to face harassment by Muslim supervisors… They know that these poor workers cannot do anything against them, hence the harassment is continuing unabated … Social security law guarantees compensation for those who die on duty, but the families of Christian sanitation workers are not paid the full amount.”

In one instance, a Christian sanitary worker died because observant Muslim doctors who were fasting for Ramadan recoiled from treating the “unclean” infidel after the 30-year-old fell unconscious while cleaning sewage and was rushed to a governmental hospital. “The doctors refused to treat him because they were fasting and said my son was napaak [unclean],” said the mother of the deceased.

In another instance, a 20-year-old Christian sanitation worker was murdered after he refused to work on a Sunday for religious reasons. “Many Muslims find it hard to accept refusal by a ‘lowly’ Christian,” a Christian rights activist said.

“This is not the first time a Christian sanitary worker has been killed or subjected to violence for refusing to comply with unjust demands of persons from the Muslim majority.”

Qatar: Although deemed by some Westerners as a relatively progressive Arab nation, Qatar continues to indoctrinate its children with hate for and violence against “infidels,” including Christians and Jews. In 2020, a study found that Qatari textbooks and curriculum promoted several hate-filled ideas against Jews and Christians. On revisiting them in a more recent report, however, the same organization found that, while making some improvements regarding how other monotheists are portrayed, Qatari texts and curriculum were still problematic. They included teaching children the “great virtues” of jihad and martyrdom, as well as the importance of never befriending — but rather always hating—Jews, Christians, and all non-Muslims, to whom it still refers collectively as “infidels” (or Islam’s natural born enemies, kuffar).

Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.