“The United States did not come out to say anything about Boko Haram. They kept talking about economic problem. That is not true… The United States deliberately ignored the fundamental issues of religious ideology.” — Nicholas Okoh, Primate, Church of Nigeria
A judge in Iran sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burnt with a cigarette for eating during the day in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
A church member added that members of the Muslim group had said they wanted to transform Uganda into am Islamic nation and would kill anyone who refused to convert.
The purge of ancient Christian communities throughout Iraq that started in June culminated in great intolerance in July.
Among other Islamic attacks, a Christian church that had stood Iraq for 1,800 years — a church that was erected less than 200 years after Christ — was reportedly torched by the Islamic State, according to countless news agencies, including Al Arabiya.
A fire rages in the compound of Mosul’s 1800 year-old church, July 2014.
Islamic State jihadis also stormed and took over an ancient monastery in northern Iraq. St. Behnam monastery had stood since the fourth century and was one of Iraq’s best-known Christian landmarks. It was built by an Assyrian king as a penance for executing his children Behnam and Sarah for converting to Christianity.
The jihadis expelled its few monks; they said, “You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately.” The monks pled to be allowed to save some of the monastery’s ancient relics, but the jihadis refused and ordered them to walk miles along a deserted road with nothing but their clothes.
The Islamic State issued a July 19 deadline for Mosul’s Christians either to convert to Islam or face execution. Islamic State members also singled out Christian homes by placing the Arabic letter for “N” — based on the Arabic word Nasara, or “Nazarenes,” the Koran’s pejorative for Christians — on the sides of their homes. The result, in the words of Patriarch Louis Sako, is that, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”
In response to the Islamic State’s latest atrocities against Iraq’s Christian minorities, the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, George Saliba, denounced not just the Islamic State but Muslims in general for their long “history of violence and oppression against Christians”:
What is happening in Iraq is a strange thing, but it is normal for Muslims, because they have never treated Christians well, and they have always held an offensive and defaming stand against Christians…. We used to live and coexist with Muslims, but then they revealed their canines [teeth]…. [They don’t] have the right to storm houses, steal and attack the honor of Christians. Most Muslims do this; the Ottomans killed us and after that the ruling nation-states understood the circumstances but always gave advantage to the Muslims. Islam has never changed…
Islamic organizations responded by denouncing the Syriac bishop’s words as “hateful” and Islamophobic, demanding an apology.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made some telling remarks concerning the plight of Christians, especially in those Mideast countries the U.S. is involved in. When asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church USA’s decision to withdraw $21 million worth of investments from Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people, the prime minister said:
You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice; one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.
The rest of July’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.
Muslim Attacks on Churches and Carnage
Afghanistan: According to BosNewsLife, the central Asian nation’s “tiny Christian community was left in shock Friday, July 25, after two Finnish Christian aid workers were shot dead.” The attack “underscored the dangers faced by Christian aid workers.” The two women were slain by motorcycle riding gunmen in the western city of Herat, “the latest in a series of attacks targeting Westerners, including Christian believers. The Christians, who represented International Assistance Mission (IAM), had been working in Afghanistan since the 1990s… They both spoke Dari well and knew and respected the culture of Afghanistan.” Among those the aid workers were helping were people with mental disabilities and illiterate women.
Central African Republic: At least 27 Christians were slaughtered during a July 7 attack on the St. Joseph’s Cathedral compound in Bambari, where thousands of people, mostly Christian, were receiving sanctuary. The attackers were fighters from the Islamic Seleka rebel movement and Muslim civilians. The armed attackers entered the grounds at around 3pm and began shooting indiscriminately. Women and children were among those killed; over 20 people were injured. The Islamic attackers burned down 20 buildings within the church compound, set fire to three cars, and stole two others as well as a number of motorbikes. Weeks earlier, on May 28, another attack on a church compound in Bangui, the capital, left around 20 people dead.
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