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“You Think You Can Run Away?”: The Persecution of Christians, September 2022
“You Think You Can Run Away?”: The Persecution of Christians, September 2022
By Raymond Ibrahim
Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.
The following are among the abuses Muslims inflicted on Christians throughout the month of September 2022:
The Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Azerbaijan/Armenia: On Sept. 13, Azerbaijan launched drones, artillery, and mortars on several Armenian villages; the bombardment continued for two days. More than 100 Armenian soldiers were killed. Although widely seen as a territorial dispute between (Christian) Armenia and (Muslim) Azerbaijan, jihadist hate has long fueled the conflict. During this most recent assault, for instance, in the words of an Armenian military official, the Azerbaijanis:
“committed atrocities in our combat positions against our servicemen, including women soldiers. I cannot find words to describe how they dismembered a female soldier, cut off her legs, fingers and stripped her naked. This is unheard of cruelty.”
A video of these atrocities, made by the Azerbaijani soldiers themselves shows piles of mutilated and decapitated Armenian soldiers, including the woman in question [Note: I have the video; it has been scrubbed from the Internet]. She appears naked, with both of her arms and legs cut off. One of her eyes is clearly gouged out. A severed finger appears sticking out of her mouth, and another appears to be sticking out of her private parts. The Muslim soldiers videotaping their handiwork, which included several other mutilated and beheaded Armenian men, can be heard laughing and joking in the background.
The murdered woman was identified as “Anush Apetyan, 36, a mother of three children [who] was reportedly captured alive in Jermuk and then raped, tortured and dismembered by Azerbaijani soldiers.” The severing of this woman’s fingers is a sign that jihadist sadism fueled the mutilation. In the Koran, for example, after declaring “I will cast terror into the hearts of infidels,” Allah calls on Muslims to “strike off their heads and strike off their every fingertip” (Koran 8:12; emphasis added).
Sadly, these recent mutilations an aberration. When Azerbaijan attacked Armenia in late 2020, Muslim soldiers “tortured beyond recognition” a mentally disabled Armenian woman by hacking off her ears, hands and feet before finally executing her. Video footage similarly showed Azerbaijani soldiers overpowering and forcing down an elderly Armenian man, who cries and implores them for mercy, as they casually carve at his throat with a knife.
Mozambique: During the night of September 6-7, armed Muslim terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State stormed a Catholic mission compound in Chipene, where they set fire to the church, schools and hospitals. During the chaos, one of the nuns, Maria De Coppi, 83, was shot in the head and killed as she ran towards a burning dormitory to assist the few remaining students hiding there. She had spent 59 years serving the people of Mozambique. Three other Christians were killed during this jihad. Hours before her murder, Sister Maria had called her niece and left a voice message, describing Islamic terror attacks from days earlier:
“Hello, Gabriella, good evening. I just wanted to tell you the situation here is agonizing, it’s not good. It is very tense. Everyone here is fleeing, the people are running away. It is a very, very sad situation. Pray for us, that the Lord protects us and also these people. Goodbye, good night.”
The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack and said they killed the nun because she had “excessively engaged in spreading Christianity.”
Uganda: Muslims drowned and killed a group of Christians. The Christians, five missionaries and their local guide, were travelling by boat to a region where they hoped to found a new church. While in the vessel, they encountered and began to talk to ten men dressed in Islamic attire. According to Amos, their Christian guide who survived,
“On our way, Tonny Ankunda [one of the missionaries] started preaching to the people on the boat, which resulted in a huge argument between Muslims and the missionaries concerning the Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
One of the Muslims, identified only as Bashir, threatened the Christians: “If you continue insisting that Jesus is the Son of God, then Allah will kill all of you.” When the Christians continued to debate, including by citing scriptures, Bashir exclaimed: “We are giving you one last minute to stop your blasphemy and to convert by confessing the shahada [Islamic creed], or else your lives are at risk.”
“When the five evangelists refused to renounce Christ, the Muslims seized them and pushed them off the boat one by one, Kyakulaga said. While the lake is only 4 to 5.7 meters deep, they were 200 meters from shore, and all five Christians drowned.”
Amos was released after telling the Muslims that he was not part of the team of five Christians.
In a separate murder in Uganda, a Muslim stepmother poisoned her stepdaughter for becoming a Christian. On Sept. 18, Namata Habiba, 23, attended a church service at the invitation of a friend. There, she put her faith in Christ. On returning home that night, her stepmother inquired as to why she had returned so late. Namata, according to the friend who accompanied her home, confessed the truth, at which point the stepmother stopped talking. She continued preparing supper for the two Christian women and retired for the night. The friend, whose name is withheld for security reasons, refrained from eating, as she was fasting, but Namata ate. Within minutes, she became very ill and began to vomit. Her friend began yelling for the stepmother, but she was nowhere to be found. Due to the ruckus, neighbors came to the house, and helped rush Namata to a local hospital. Despite treatment, she died. A postmortem revealed that she had died by ingesting rat poison. Namata leaves behind a 3-year-old child, whose Muslim father had promised but apparently failed to make Namata his second wife.
Nigeria: Some of the genocidal assaults on the West African nation’s Christian population throughout the month of September, 2022, follow:
On Sept. 1, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed six Christians in central Nigeria. “Some of the victims were shot, while others were attacked with machetes,” a local said.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, Muslim herdsmen killed a Christian security guard after abducting a pastor and wounding his wife. In the words of an area resident,
“The gunmen stormed the RCC [Regional Church Council] chairman’s residence, at about 10 p.m., shot and wounded the pastor’s wife, and killed one James Ngyang, a member of the church and security church worker, before they forcefully took away the pastor at gunpoint.”
On Sept. 12, the gunmen contacted the pastor’s family and demanded 20 million naira ($46,650) for his release.
On Sunday Sept. 18, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed three Christians during a raid on a Christian village in Benue state, “after slaughtering at least 22 others in the same area in the past three weeks.”
Three days later, on Sept. 21, more machete-wielding Muslim herdsmen massacred 15 Christians in midnight raids on two Christian villages.
Two days after that, on Sept. 23, Fulani raided six predominantly Christian villages in the same region of Benue state. “These attacks by the herdsmen have left dozens of Christians dead and several more with gunshot injuries and machete attack wounds,” area resident Ukan Kurugh said of this last attack. Similarly, the Rev. Akpen Leva, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Benue State Chapter, added in a press statement that attacks against Christians “have been ceaseless”:
“Armed herdsmen and terrorists have not stopped their unprovoked attacks on Christians in Benue state. These attacks are aimed at killing defenseless Christians and to force them out of their communities.”
In another targeted attack, machete-wielding Muslims hacked to death a 28-year-old Christian man, Samaila Sabo Awudu, who had recently graduated university with a biochemistry degree. According to his brother,
“We were told by some of his colleagues, corps members, that a group of five armed Muslims attacked him when they broke into his residence at the NYSC lodge in Yola and cut him with machetes. He was taken by police officers who went there to the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, where he died.”
Before being hacked to death, Samaila was described as a committed churchgoer who had “lived an exemplary life, worthy of emulation,” said a pastor during his eulogy.
On Sept. 17, during an all-night prayer vigil inside the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Suleja, Niger state, Muslim Fulani herdsmen broke in and abducted dozens of Christians, including the pastor. Less than a week earlier, 60 other Christians were abducted from the same denomination in another region of the country. As of the last report, the terrorists had demanded exorbitant ransoms for some of the kidnapped. Responding to these and other attacks, a statement from the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union said,
“There is still no breathing space for Christian communities in southern Kaduna, as terrorists, jihadists, bandits and armed herdsmen have continued to plunder and wreck Christian communities in the southern part of Kaduna state.”
On the evening of Sunday, Sept. 4 gunmen kidnapped dozens of Christians, including Steven Bala, the pastor’s son, who was taking care of a prayer house.
Muslim Attacks on Apostates
Australia: The family of two related Muslim women who had converted to Christianity and fled what police described as an environment of “strict religious and cultural beliefs,” abducted and tortured the women, following a plot that required a “significant effort to orchestrate.” After locating their new residence in Melbourne, the mother, brother, and cousin of one of the women broke in and waited for the women while they were away. Then, according to the Sept. 16 report,
“As the women returned home later that evening, the cousin grabbed one of them from behind, covered her mouth and held a knife to her neck. Another relative grabbed the other woman by the hair, pulled her to the ground and held the other knife to her stomach, allegedly telling her: ‘You bitch, you think you can run away from home? I have a knife in my hand. Don’t move, don’t scream.’ At one point during the ordeal, the cousin allegedly ripped a gold cross necklace from around the neck of one of the women, who had converted from Islam to Christianity. The women were then bound, gagged, forced into the back of a car and driven back to Sydney, their wrists and mouths concealed by coats and face masks. Meanwhile, the father of one of the women drove a truck to Victoria and cleared the home of their belongings.”
Luckily for the kidnapped apostates, their ordeal, which began in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, “ended in western Sydney with police intercepting a car and freeing the women.” Four of their Muslim relatives — three men and one woman whose identities were not revealed — were charged with kidnapping and assault.
Libya: A Libyan court sentenced a young man to death for “apostasy from Islam.” According to the Libyan al-Jumhiriyah channel, the verdict was issued against a man named Diya’ al-Din Bil’awa, who graduated from the College of Information Technology in 2018. Diya’ was also described as a hafiz — one who had memorized the entire Koran — suggesting that he was a member of the Islamic clerical class, making his apostasy all the more scandalous. According to the report, sometime in 2019, Diya’ was asked to retract his apostasy and rejoin the fold of Islam, but he refused to do so. The apostasy law cited in the report was established in Libya’s penal code after the “Arab Spring” overthrow of Muamar Gaddafi, when “We [the U.S.] came, we saw, he died,” to quote then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Kenya: Muslim family members beat a Somali pastor of an underground fellowship, as well as his wife and child, for leaving Islam. Weeks after he had received medical attention, the 33-year-old pastor (name withheld for security) developed a serious infection in his hand, where his father-in-law had beat him with a thorny stick. “This is a curse from Allah — if you return to Islam, then Allah will heal you,” local Muslims later told him. “The thorny stick used to hit part of my hand and shoulder could have been a poisonous one,” he believes, and one doctor has suggested amputation. “At the moment, that part of my hand is numb and the veins are inactive.” Meanwhile:
“All these three weeks while I’ve been sick, they have been pressuring my wife to divorce me and return to Islam. But my wife has stood with me. We really need prayers so that God will miraculously heal me and get me out of the hospital.”
His wife’s loyal perseverance has come at a price: “Two Muslim women stopped me while coming from the market near our house and slapped me and caused some bruises on my face,” she said. “When I screamed, they ran away.” Even the first of their four children, who is 8-years-old, was beaten by boys of Somali descent and received hospital treatment for injuries.
Uganda: A Muslim mob beat and destroyed the home of a Muslim father of four — aged 5, 8, 10, and 12 — on learning that he had become a Christian. On Sept 9, Muslims approached the home of 38-year-old Musa Wabwire. Once they had confirmed he had become a Christian, and in Musa’s own words,
“They all got annoyed and flooded into my home and asked me many questions, which I failed to answer. I only told them to take their money box [he used to serve as the local mosque’s treasurer], and that I be left with Christ, who was enough for me. They became so angry and started beating me up while shouting, ‘Kafir, Kafir [infidel]!'”
According to the report, “When he declined to renounce Christ, they flogged him 40 lashes with sticks.” Musa’s older brother, an imam in a nearby village, ordered the destruction of his home and crops. “My belongings were thrown out in the rain and got all wet,” Musa said. “My brothers said that I should not be killed but instead leave the homestead.”
Separately, a Muslim man beat and abandoned his wife after he learned that she had become Christian. On Sept. 10, Falida Nazziwa, 42, attended an all-night prayer vigil at a local church. She had expected her husband to return late on the following day, but he returned on the morning of Sept. 11 — just as the secret convert was returning home from church. According to her,
“In the morning as I went back home, I found my husband very furious on the compound, and he asked about where I slept. I told him the truth that I had gone for an overnight prayer in the church. After hearing the words ‘overnight prayer,’ he just jumped on my neck shouting, ‘Prayers, not in my house,’ and started beating and strangling me while shouting, ‘Allah akbar [Allah is the greatest]! Kafir, kafir [infidel]!'”
Some people who heard her cries rushed to rescue her, and she and her two younger children managed to escape her husband. She received treatment at a medical clinic and has since taken refuge at an undisclosed location.
In yet another incident in Uganda, on Sept.16, Muslims attacked Shadia Namuzungu, a 52-year-old mother, two days after she put her faith in Christ following what she described as a miraculous healing. When an imam confronted her about her healing and conversion, and she told him of her experiences, the “imam was left in disbelief and left without uttering a word,” Shadia said. “But the following day, he returned with six other Muslims. Four of them started to destroy my crops, killed my sheep and began to pull down my house.” Other Muslims beat her with sticks, kicked, and slapped her. They fled when neighbors began to arrive. According to one of her neighbors, “Shadia started to faint. She had deep injuries on her back, both hands, stomach, legs and had swollen eyes.” After being hospitalized for several days she was still unable to walk.
General Muslim Hostility for Christians
Egypt: On Sept. 12, a Cairo appeals court confirmed a five-year prison sentence (with hard labor) for a young Christian man, Marco Guirguis Shehata, charged with “deriding Islam.” The accusation is based on “evidence” found on his smartphone, which Marco had said was stolen at the time. His father, a modest iron smith, in Kena, north of Luxor, and his entire family were reported as being “devastated” by the extremely harsh sentence.
Indonesia: On Sept. 15, a police general currently serving a jail sentence for corruption was handed another criminal conviction, as well as an additional five-and-a-half months prison time, for assaulting a former Muslim cleric who had converted to Christianity. The incident occurred in 2021, when Muhammad Kosman was being detained at the National Police detention facility in Jakarta on the charge of blasphemy. Then, Napoleon entered into his cell with a plastic bag full of human feces and violently smeared it over Muhammad’s face. Napoleon confessed to the incident during his hearing, before adding:
“Anyone can insult me, but not against my Allah, the Quran, the Prophet and my Islamic faith. Therefore, I swear I will take any measured action against anyone who dares to do so.”
Turkey: A young Muslim man claiming to be connected to the ultra-nationalist group made threats of murder to a Protestant church located in Malatya province — the same province where three Christian missionaries were tortured to death in 2007. According to the man, the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-terror Unit (JITEM) approached him with addresses and photos of church members, and told him “if you kill them, we will give you whatever you want.” According to the Sept. 8 report, they then “gave him a gun and sent him to the church with a friend, but when they saw a little boy playing with a computer inside, they came back.” Although the threat was averted, and the church provided with governmental protection, the report points out that,
“Malatya is notorious for a hideous murder of Christians who belonged to the Salvation Church of which Serin [one of the Christians threatened] is a member. Two Turkish converts from Islam and a German citizen were attacked, tortured and murdered in a publishing house by five ultranationalists assailants on April 18, 2007. The murders became known as the missionary massacres in the Turkish media. After the killings, the publishing house was shut down and some Christians left the city or Turkey.”
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.