Translating Words, Interpreting Events

Christmas Holiday, Islamic Horror

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As Christians in the West go to church and worship during this Christmas season, it is well to reflect on how these two simple acts—going to church to worship—can be life-threatening for Christians in the Islamic world, especially on Christmas.  The following excerpt from my book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (pgs. 42-45), provides a glimpse of the horrors and humiliations Christians throughout the Muslim world can be exposed to whenever they try to meet and worship in church on Christmas and other Christian holidays.  One can only hope—perhaps in vain—that this coming Christmas does not add new victims to the list.

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Christians in the Islamic world today are suffering attacks motivated by the very same diabolical animus as a thousand years ago under Hakim [Egyptian caliph who ordered the destruction of reportedly 30,000 churches in the 10th –11th century].  Proof of this is that some of the most terrible assaults occur precisely on Christian holidays—Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s Eve (which is a major church day in the Middle East). And no wonder, considering that some Muslim clerics insist that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication . . . or killing someone.”

After some fourteen centuries of church attacks and other persecution—punctuated by a brief Christian Golden Age—Egypt’s Copts began the new year in 2011 once again under assault, at one of their largest churches: during midnight Mass in the early hours of January 1, 2011, the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria, crowded with hundreds of Christian worshippers, was bombed, leaving at least twenty-three dead and approximately a hundred injured. According to eyewitnesses, “body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants,” including “Allahu Akbar!” Witnesses further attest that “security forces withdrew one hour before the church blast.” And a year earlier, Muslims shot and killed six Christians as they were leaving church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Nag Hammadi.

December 25, 2011, was called Nigeria’s “blackest Christmas ever.”  In a number of coordinated jihadi operations, Reuters reported, Islamic terrorists bombed several churches during Christmas liturgies, killing at least thirty-eight people, “the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church after celebrating Christmas Mass as blood pooled in dust from a massive explosion.” Charred bodies and dismembered limbs lay scattered around the destroyed church. This attack was simply a reenactment of Christmas Eve one year earlier, in 2010, when several other churches were set ablaze and Christians were attacked, also leaving nearly thirty-eight dead. There was no reprieve for Nigeria’s Christians when the next religious holiday came; some fifty Christians were killed “when explosives concealed in two cars went off near the Assemblies of God’s Church during Easter Sunday services” in April 2012 in a predominantly Muslim region. According to the pastor, “We were in the Holy Communion service and I was exhorting my people and all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise that shattered all our windows and doors.” December 25, 2012, saw a repeat of the last few Christmases: in two separate attacks, Islamic gunmen shot and killed twelve Christian worshippers who had gathered for Christmas Eve church services, including one church’s pastor.

The violence in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, was not so bloody, but Muslims’ hostility was equally clear.  In December 2012, more than two hundred Muslims threw rotten eggs at nearly one hundred Christians desiring to hold a Christmas Mass in empty land outside Jakarta, since their church, the Philadelphia Batak Protestant Church, had been illegally closed. A photographer saw angered Muslims—men, women wearing the hijab (the Muslim headscarf), and children—blocking the road and hurling rotten eggs at those attempting to worship. According to the Reverend Palti Panjaitan, the incident followed a Christmas Eve attack when “intolerant people” threw not only rotten eggs but also “plastic bags filled with urine and cow dung” at the Christians. “Everything had happened while police were there. They were just watching without doing anything to stop them from harming us.”

The attack was a repeat of what had happened several months earlier, during an Ascension Day church service in May 2012. Then some six hundred Muslims threw bags of urine, stones, and rotten eggs at the same congregation. The mob also threatened to kill the pastor. No arrests were made. The church had applied for a permit to construct its house of worship five years ago. But pressured by local Muslims, the local administration ordered the church to shut down in December 2009—though the Supreme Court recently overruled its decision, saying the church was eligible for the permit. Regardless, local Muslims and officials demand the church cease to exist.

In the Philippines, during Mass on Christmas Day 2010, a bomb exploded inside a packed Catholic church in the “Muslim-dominated” island of Jolo, injuring six worshippers including the priest. The bomb was planted by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which according to the Daily Mail “has been blamed for several bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo since the early 2000s and for kidnapping priests and nuns.”

While many more examples of church attacks on Christian holidays could be given, the four examples above demonstrate an important point. Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, and the Philippines have very little in common. These countries do not share the same language, race, or culture. What, then, do they have in common that explains this similar pattern of church attacks during Christian holy days? The answer is Islam. All four countries have large Muslim populations.

If Islamic jihadis target churches during Christian holidays, Islamic governments exploit the law to oppress Christian worship during those same holidays. For example, in December 2011 in Iran, several reports appeared indicating “a sharp increase of activities against Christians prior to Christmas by the State Security centers of the Islamic Republic.” Local churches were “ordered to cancel Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as a show of their compliance and support” for “the two-month-long mourning activities of the Shia’ Moslems” (activities which culminate with a bloody exhibition of self-mutilation and flagellation during Ashura). Two days before Christmas 2011, state security raided an Assemblies of God’s church. Most of those present, including Sunday school children, were arrested and interrogated. Hundreds of Christian books were seized. As one reporter put it, “Raids and detentions during the Christmas season are not uncommon in Iran, a Shi’a-majority country that is seen as one of the worst persecutors of religious minorities.”

Indeed, such oppression of Christians during Christmas is not uncommon throughout much of the Islamic world. In Iraq, some Muslim school teachers in Mosul’s elementary and high schools scheduled exams on December 25, 2012, forcing Christian students to attend school on Christmas Day and miss Christmas Mass, “even though authorities had identified the 25th of December as an official holiday for Christians.” In December 2011 in supposedly moderate Malaysia, priests and church youth leaders were required to obtain “caroling permits” by submitting their full names and identity card numbers at police stations—always a harrowing experience—simply to visit their fellow church members and sing carols like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” In Pakistan in 2011, Christians lamented that “extreme power outages have become routine during Christmas and Easter seasons.” In Indonesia, December 2011, after “vandals” decapitated the statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto days before Christmas, the “embattled” church of GKI Bogor, another Christian church that local Muslims want eliminated, was forced to move its Christmas prayers to a member’s house after Islamic groups warned Christians not to meet at the site of the church.

 

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  • seekingknowledge2011 .

    Muslims and Christians together constitute over fifty percent of the world and if they lived in peace, we will be half way to world peace. One small step that we can take towards fostering Muslim-Christian harmony is to tell and retell positive stories and abstain from mutual demonization.

    In this article I propose to remind both Muslims and Christians about a promise that Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) made to Christians. The knowledge of this promise can have enormous impact on Muslim conduct towards Christians. Muslims generally respect the precedent of their Prophet and try to practice it in their lives.

    In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammed and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights, which I reproduce below in its entirety. St. Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the world’s oldest monastery. It possesses a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. It also boasts the oldest collection of Christian icons. It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1400 years under Muslim protection.

    The Promise to St. Catherine:

    “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

    Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

    No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.

    Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

    No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.

    No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

    The first and the final sentence of the charter are critical. They make the promise eternal and universal. Muhammed asserts that Muslims are with Christians near and far straight away rejecting any future attempts to limit the promise to St. Catherine alone. By ordering Muslims to obey it until the Day of Judgment the charter again undermines any future attempts to revoke the privileges. These rights are inalienable. Muhammed declared Christians, all of them, as his allies and he equated ill treatment of Christians with violating God’s covenant.

    A remarkable aspect of the charter is that it imposes no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of rights without any duties!

    The document is not a modern human rights treaty but even thought it was penned in 628 A.D. it clearly protects the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of work, and security of the person.

    I know most readers, must be thinking so what? Well the answer is simple. Those who seek to foster discord among Muslims and Christians focus on issues that divide and emphasize areas of conflict. But when resources such as Muhammad’s promise to Christians are invoked and highlighted it builds bridges. It inspires Muslims to rise above communal intolerance and engenders good will in Christians who might be nursing fear of Islam or Muslims.

    When I look at Islamic sources, I find in them unprecedented examples of religious tolerance and inclusiveness. They make me want to become a better person. I think the capacity to seek good and do good inheres in all of us. When we subdue this predisposition towards the good, we deny our fundamental humanity. In this holiday season, I hope all of us can find time to look for something positive and worthy of appreciation in the values, cultures and histories of other peoples.

    Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=36388

    • ninna rubinsky

      have you lost it? when you se islam it make you to become a better person are you serious or just a braindead muslim, here’s what I want when I look at islam, I want JEUS CHRIST to send it back to from whence it came namely the pit of hell, we se islam for what it is namely a cance and as such it should be treated, we se what islam does to ppl not only to muslims but also to non-muslims and that’s not a pretty sight it’s as ugly as can be, muhammad where not a prophet of GOD, he where a murder a liar a highway robber a warmonger and here’s what GOD says abt such a person

      1 Corinthians 6

      9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of GOD? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men,

      10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

      11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and in the SPIRIT of our GOD

      And plz tell me why is it that after praying 5 times aday and doing all kinda good deeds you still end up in hell when you die not knowing if you’ll ever enter jennah, is this from a merciful god? muhammad where a sinful man to say the least and to say that he is holy and a prophet is an ABOMINATION TO A RIGTHEOUS JUST LOVING GOD

    • nldel5

      But in St Catherine, locals complained that it is wrong to expect similar attacks at their monastery, where the local Muslim population sees the site as part of its heritage. Arguments broke out between monks and villagers after it was closed, but only because the latter wished to see it reopen. “For the people here, the monastery is everything,” said Khadr. “We grew up with the monastery – it’s our history, our roots.” ST Catherines has NOT been protected at all BUT allowed to remain as MUSLIMS feel it is part of their history NOT because of religious freedoms GET REAL and stop the lies

  • seekingknowledge2011 .

    Please stop this fitnah you are doing, you know this is not
    the view of all the Muslims, not even the majority, you know well that our
    region is going through its toughest times and our enemies will stop at nothing
    to cause hatred between the Arab communities, weather Muslims Christians Shia
    Suny liberal non liberal, north west; do not be a tool in their hands and do
    not cause more hatred.

    Those who did this act may the One all Mighty guide them,
    for this is not the act of Muslims but the enemies of both Christians and Muslims

    • ninna rubinsky

      Oh and BTW
      forget abt your global caliphate with shariah law we are millions praying
      against it and unlike you we know with certainty that our GOD and SAVIOUR HEAR
      US WHEN WE PRAY TO HIM, whereas you ppl are left in the dark you have no clue
      if this ill-allah hear you when you pray, I really feel sorry for you ppl not
      having assurance of ever making it to jennah/brothel in the sky