Muslim Persecution of Christians: April 2012
As Easter, one of the highest Christian holidays, comes in April, Christian persecution in Muslim nations—from sheer violence to oppressive laws—was rampant: In Nigeria, where jihadis have expressed their desire to expunge all traces of Christianity, a church was bombed during Easter Sunday, killing some 50 worshippers; in Turkey, a pastor was beaten by Muslims immediately following Easter service and threatened with death unless he converted to Islam; and in Iran, Easter Sunday saw 12 Christians stand trial as "apostates."
The persecution of Christians has come to regions not normally associated with it. As in Nigeria, Muslim militants are now also running amok in Timbuktu, Mali—beheading a Christian leader and threatening other Christians with similar treatment. Sharia law has been imposed, churches are being destroyed, and Christians are fleeing Timbuktu in mass.
Categorized by theme, April's assemblage of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity:
Azerbaijan: A church in the Muslim-majority nation has "become the first religious community to be liquidated by a court since the country's harsh new 'Religion Law,' requiring all previously registered religious institutions to re-register, came into force in 2009. Greater Grace Protestant Church in the capital, Baku, "was stripped of its registration at a 15-minute hearing on 25 April. The decision, which was made in the absence of any church representatives, makes any activity by the church illegal and subject to punishment."
Indonesia: Gunmen opened fire on the GKI Yasmin church, causing much damage, in the latest attack on the building, which has been illegally sealed off by authorities since 2008 in response to Muslim demands. Another Protestant church unlawfully sealed off by the authorities—despite meeting all requirements for a permit—was met with violent opposition from Muslims when its members tried to hold a service on the street in front of their sealed-off church building. Muslim residents made death threats, played loud music, and rode a motorcycle through the congregation. A church spokesman said: "We are constantly having to change our location because our existence appears to be unwanted, and we have to hide so that we are not intimidated by intolerant groups… We had hoped for help from the police, but after many attacks on members of the congregation, we see that the police are also involved in this."
Kenya: Two separate grenade attacks on churches took place: 1) Muslims threw grenades into an open-air Christian church gathering, killing a woman and a boy, and wounding some 50 other Christians: Muslims had been holding a meeting near the gathering, and Christians could hear their preachers railing against Christianity right before the attack took place. 2) In a separate incident, a Muslim man pretending to be a worshipper at a church threw three grenades during service, killing a 27-year-old university student and injuring 16. The terrorist, who, according to eyewitnesses, appeared to be of Somali origin, "looked uncomfortable and always looked down. He threw three hand grenades and only one exploded. He took off, and he fired in the air three gunshots."
Nigeria: An early morning attack on a Christian church service left at least 16 people dead: Jihadi gunmen on motorcycles stormed Bayero University in the city of Kano Sunday morning during a Catholic mass held in the school's theater hall, hurling improvised explosive devices, and opening fire as people fled. "The attack follows a string of violent incidents against Christians in the predominantly Muslim north."
Sudan: A Christian compound in Khartoum was stormed by a throng of Muslims "armed with clubs, iron rods, a bulldozer and fire," the day after a Muslim leader called on Muslims to destroy "the infidels' church." Shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ["Allah is Greater!"], and "No more Christianity from today on—no more church from today on!" the jihadis stormed the Bible school bookstore, burning Bibles and threatening to kill anyone who tried to resist. "What happened could not be imagined—it was terrible," said an eyewitness. "They burned all furniture of the school and the church as well." As usual, "Police at the compound stood back and did nothing to prevent the mob from vandalizing the compound."
Tunisia: Members of the Christian Orthodox Church in Tunis, one of very few churches in the nation, are being "abused" and receiving "threatening messages." Church members are "living in a state of terror," so much so that the Russian ambassador in Tunis specifically requested the nation's Ministry of Interior to "protect the church." The abuse has gotten to the point where "Salafis covered the cross of the church with garbage bags, and told the church members that they do not wish to see the vision of the Cross anywhere in the Islamic state of Tunisia." Separately, a Muslim burst into a church to deliver a letter from an Islamist party inviting the archpriest to convert to Islam or to take down the church's crosses and pay jizya, the Islamic subjugation tax. (...)