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Ten Years of Muslim Persecution of Christians

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

July 2021 was the tenth anniversary of my monthly series, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” (published by the Gatestone Institute). Back in July 2011, I began to collate and summarize the accounts of persecution that surfaced every month in one report — so that there is a record, so that when the time comes, the usual excuse, “we never knew,” won’t stand.

Now that ten years of such reports have passed — for a total of 120 reports, each averaging about 3,500–4,000 words (or nearly 500,000 words in total) — what has been learned? What trends have been demonstrated?

First, the phenomenon of Muslim persecution of Christians is real: it’s unwavering, constant, systematic and systemic, and it conforms to sharia-approved patterns — meaning its root source is Islam. As I wrote back in 2011 in the very first report,

[W]hatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women and misogyny; apostasy and blasphemy laws; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya; and over all expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis.

Little has changed; the one or two dozens of anecdotes of persecution documented in every one of these 120 monthly reports typically fit under these same themes — including the bombing, burning, or banning of churches; the rape and forced conversion of Christian women; murderous attacks on and long prison sentences for apostates, blasphemers, and evangelists; overall discrimination and exploitation; and, increasingly, the outright slaughter of Christians. (For more on the doctrinal and historic background of this phenomenon, see this more elaborate and detailed article.)

Interestingly, when, in July 2011, I first came up with this idea of a monthly report, I was concerned about the project’s feasibility: what sort of “report” could be compiled if, say, only one or two instances of persecution — or none at all — occurred in any given month? Sadly, but also rather tellingly, not only has this never once happened over the course of 120 months, but the individual instances of persecution have only grown, so that, in order to keep these reports manageable and under 4,000 words, every month, I leave lesser stories out.

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A decade’s worth of such reports also gives the lie to the widespread notion that the only or primary Muslim persecution of Christians that occurred within the last decade was at the hands of the Islamic State between 2014 and 2017. Now, it is true that what “ISIS” put Christians and other religious minorities through was horrific; but before and after ISIS, Christians have experienced less “spectacular” forms of persecution at the hands of Muslims who are not “professional” terrorists, including Muslim individuals, mobs, clerics, and of course Muslim authorities at every level of state (police, local governors, judges, etc.).

As for some of the more specific trends to develop and sharpen over the last decade, first, what several international observers have characterized as a “pure genocide” is being waged against the Christians of Nigeria. Not a week seems to go by without “Allahu akbar”–screaming Muslims slaughtering dozens of Christians and torching their villages and churches, even as the world yawns.

This jihadist animus is well entrenched in other African nations — for example, Somalia — and, left unchecked, is increasingly spilling into others, including Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, and many more. In Christian-majority Uganda, not a month seems to go by without a Muslim family attacking or killing a family member for converting to Christianity.

The persecution of — to say nothing of the blatant and systemic discrimination against — Christians in Pakistan is downright disgusting. Not a week seems to go by without a young, underage Christian girl being abducted, raped, forced to convert and marry her abductor — with the police and courts siding with the abductors and rapists. Similarly, any Muslim who wishes for whatever reason to terrorize any Christian increasingly accuses the latter of “blaspheming” against Muhammad, which in Pakistan is punishable by long prison sentences and even execution. Needless to say, irate and radical mobs often get the infidels before the police can arrest them — as they did in 2014, when a Muslim mob of over a thousand people burned a young Christian couple alive on the false accusation that they had burned pages of the Koran.

Egypt, home to the largest indigenous Christian community of the Middle East, the Copts, is little better. Both ISIS and any number of homegrown “radical Muslims” have bombed or burned numerous churches, killing many worshipers over the years, while authorities have simply banned churches, often in response to angry Muslim mobs. Moreover, “[i]n Egypt, kidnappings and forced marriages of Christian women and girls to their Muslim abductors ha[ve] reached record levels.”

Otherwise, it has been more of the usual for Christians in general throughout the Islamic world. It is enough to point out that Muslims claimed the lion’s share — approximately 80% — of all the persecution Christians experience around the world every year between 2011 and 2021.

The last decade has made another thing clear: the media either totally ignore or else obfuscate the reality of Muslim persecution of Christians. Whenever forced to report on, say, extra-sensationalist terror attacks that leave dozens of Christians dead, they predictably chalk up Muslim motives to “grievances,” poverty, territorial disputes, or “radicalization” — the type that does not represent “true” Islam.

In other words, the media have done their best to present this phenomenon as an aberration, even though it is both systematic and systemic in the Muslim world. Meanwhile, one does not doubt that if the roles were reversed — if it was Christians who were banning or attacking mosques; attacking or imprisoning Muslims who “blaspheme” or Christians who apostatize to Islam; abducting, raping, and forcibly converting Muslims girls; and enforcing myriad forms of open discrimination against Muslims — these stories would be reported and highlighted by all the major networks.

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Nor, one should add, do sensationalist atrocities against Christians receive much coverage. A video of ISIS carving off the heads of 21 Coptic Christians because they refused to recant their faith received six times less media coverage than the killing of a gorilla.

In short, the last decade has made clear that, well before the world became acquainted with the phenomenon of “fake news” and learned just how dishonest the media can be — that what they report and how they report it is based on what narrative they want to convey — the media were freely manipulating the persecution of Christians under Islam out of existence.

Similarly, many years before a good number of Americans learned that the so-called “left” — which presents itself as the party that cares about “social justice” and “human rights” — was a complete hypocrite and fraud, the left was suppressing and in some cases offering false news to cover for the Muslim persecution of Christians — as when the BBC said that most of the 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded for their faith were actually released.

If people now know that the left exists to undermine and subvert Judeo-Christian civilization, including by saying anything and lying through its powerful media arm, the left had long been doing this with regard to the Muslim persecution of Christians. After all, then and now, Muslims must always appear in the best possible light and Christians in the worst.

These are some of the lessons from the last ten years’ worth of reporting on Muslim abuses against Christians. With the current state of the world — the persecution of Christians is growing all around the globe including by spilling into the West — one expects that, without any serious changes, the next decade will be even worse.