My little brother — they shot him in the chest. His name was Gideon and he died at the age of ten. I saw my father bleeding seriously from the attack. He’s always kind, always telling us to read the Bible and be close to God. And that was the last time I saw him. He is not dead. Definitely one day we are going to meet again.
—Victoria, age 13
That day last year, eighteen people were shot and twelve died when Muslim extremists attacked Deeper Life Church in Gombe, Nigeria, during a church service. The Christian community in Nigeria has been under attack by Boko Haram, which has committed shootings, kidnappings, and bombings of schools and churches. Boko Haram seeks to eradicate Christians in their quest to enforce their strict version of Sharia law on Nigeria.
In September, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity was scalded with boiling water and acid at a refugee processing center in Norway. “If you don’t return to Islam, we will kill you,” his attackers told him.
Another Afghan Christian, Aman Ali, fled Afghanistan in 2010 after a video of his baptism was leaked to the press. “Someone had reported my activities to the secret police of Afghanistan and they were looking for evidence to arrest me, but I was so careful and had to stop my work,” Aman told International Christian Concern. “After the television showed pictures from a baptism ceremony, the Afghan government started arresting believers from different parts of Kabul… Most Afghan believers were scared… and left the country. So did me and my family.”
Ali and several others fled to India, seeking refugee status with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), but his application for status based on “well-founded fear of persecution by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion” was rejected. Ali said the UNHCR did not view his conversion to Christianity as a legitimate threat to his life. Nearly a dozen other Afghans from the baptism video have been turned down by the UNHCR, including Ratimullah, who said, “I cannot return to my country because I will be arrested and executed by the Afghan government.” Ratimullah wrote in an appeal to the UNHCR, “A definite death is waiting for me in my homeland.” Most are now in hiding, fearing they will be sent back to Afghanistan. Some have fled to other countries, including Turkey, where they languish in refugee camps, often facing persecution from Muslim refugees.
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “In 2011, at least two Christians in Afghanistan were imprisoned by the Karzai administration, another was brutally beheaded by the Taliban, and nearly all Afghan Christians lived in fear of persecution. There is no evidence to suggest that the situation for Christians is improving, but every indication that it is only getting worse.”
In the Sinai Peninsula, controlled by Egypt, Bedouin Muslims abduct Christians from Africa, holding them in torture camps, demanding that their families pay ransoms of $40,000 to $50,000, which most cannot afford. “They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies,” Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBNNews. Eritrean and Ethiopian Christians are fleeing their homelands, seeking refuge in Europe and Israel from the kidnappings and brutal torture. “They hang us the way [Jesus] was hanged and they take off their clothes. While they are naked they will hang them. And they will just hit them with big bats like all day for hours.”