Until Egyptian government removes “radical” sheikhs, their teachings from the mosques, schools, television stations, all other positions of influence, Muslims will continue to be radicalized, churches will continue to be bombed, Christians killed
Why Christians Are Being Slaughtered in Egypt
April 15, 2017 By Raymond Ibrahim
On April 9—Palm Sunday, which starts the holy week of Easter—two Christian churches were bombed during mass in Egypt, leaving at least 50 worshippers dead and nearly 130 injured and/or mutilated (graphic images/video of aftermath here).
Less than four months earlier, around Christmas, another Christian church was bombed in Egypt, leaving 27 worshippers—mostly women and children—dead and wounding nearly 70. On New Year’s Day, 2011, yet another Egyptian church was bombed, leaving 23 worshippers dead.
In 2013, almost 70 Christian churches in Egypt were attacked, many burned to the ground, by Muslim Brotherhood supports.
Then there are the many “lesser” attacks on Egyptian churches—botched bombing attempts, hate-filled graffiti, and “angry mob” uprisings—that are so “everyday” as to receive virtually no media coverage in the West.
One need only listen to the words and teachings of some of Egypt’s Muslim preachers to understand why Egypt’s Christians—who are increasingly being slaughtered—and their churches are constantly under attack.
Take Dr. Ahmed al-Naqib, for instance. He has studied at the best Islamic madrassas, including Al Azhar, authored numerous books on doctrine, received awards and decorations for his academic achievements, and regularly appears on television. In one video he appears discussing an earlier Muslim mob attack on a church in Egypt, which the media and government always denounce as fitna, an Arabic word that means temptation or discord and which Islam commands Muslims to oppose.
Citing revered Islamic texts including the Koran, Dr. Naqib explained that the open display of shirk—the greatest sin in Islam, associating someone else with God, which the Koran accuses Christians of doing via the Trinity—“is the worst form of fitna, worse than murder and bloodshed.”
In other words, and as he went on to make perfectly clear in the remainder of the video, fitna (or discord) is not when Muslims attack Christian churches—far from it—but rather when Christians are allowed to flaunt their shirk (or “blasphemies”) in churches near Muslims. Fighting that—even to the point of “murder and bloodshed”—is preferable.
Then there’s Dr. Yasser Burhami, the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement, who is as well credentialed and prolific as Naqib: he’s on record saying that, although a Muslim man is permitted to marry Christian or Jewish women, he must make sure he still hates them in his heart—and always shows that he hates them—because they are infidels; otherwise he risks compromising his Islam.
As for churches, Burhami once issued a fatwa forbidding Muslim taxi and bus drivers from transporting Christian priests to their churches, and act which he said is “more forbidden than taking someone to a liquor bar.”
But it’s not just “radical” or Salafi sheikhs who make such hateful pronouncements. Even so-called “moderate” Islamic institutions, such as Al Azhar’s Dar al-Ifta, issued a fatwa in August 2009 likening the building of a church to “a nightclub, a gambling casino, or building a barn for rearing pigs, cats or dogs.”
Such analogies are not original to the Salafis or Dar al-Ifta but rather trace back to some of Islam’s most revered doctrinaires, including Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim, whose books are sold and used everywhere in Egypt, including schools. They taught that “building churches is worse than building bars and brothels, for those [churches] symbolize infidelity, whereas these [bars and brothels] represent immorality.”
Hence why after the fatal December 11, 2016 church bombing that left 27 dead, “everyday” Muslims wrote things like “God bless the person who did this blessed act” on social media. One average looking Muslim woman appears in the streets of Egypt jubilantly celebrating the massacre (video with English subtitles). She triumphantly yells “Allahu Akbar!” and says that “our beloved prophet
Muhammad is paying you infidels [Christians] back… for rejecting tawhid, which must be proclaimed in every corner of Egypt!”
Americans may remember that Muslims around the world also celebrated the terror strikes of September 11. Then, the assumption was “we must’ve done something to make Muslims hate us so much.” But if powerful America is capable of provoking Muslims with its foreign policies, what did Egypt’s already downtrodden and ostracized Christian minority do to make Muslims celebrate the news that a church was bombed and Christians blown to pieces?
One can go on and on with examples of Muslim clerics and institutions inciting—with absolute impunity—against Christians and their churches in Egypt. Many secular and/or moderate Egyptians agree. For instance, back in 2014, Muslim Brotherhood supporters mauled and murdered a woman after her cross identified her as a Christian. Soon thereafter, an Egyptian op-ed titled “Find the True Killer of Mary” argued that:
Those who killed the young and vulnerable Mary Sameh George, for hanging a cross in her car, are not criminals, but rather wretches who follow those who legalized for them murder, lynching, dismemberment, and the stripping bare of young Christian girls—without ever saying [the word] “kill.” [Islamic cleric] Yassir Burhami and his colleagues who announce their hate for Christians throughout satellite channels and in mosques—claiming that hatred of Christians is synonymous with love for God—they are the true killers who need to be tried and prosecuted.
One can say the same thing about last Palm Sunday’s church bombings that claimed 50 lives. Although the Islamic State was quick to claim the terror attacks, it’s really not relevant to the story. “ISIS”—like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Hamas, Taliban, Wahabbi Saudi, and the Muslims who persecute Christians in 40 of the 50 worst nations around the world—is a symptom, not the source of the hate.
In short, until such time comes that the Egyptian government removes the “radical” sheikhs and their teachings from the mosques, schools, television stations and all other positions of influence, Muslims will continue to be radicalized, churches will continue to be bombed, and Christians will continue to be killed.
Rev. Graham: Qaraqosh, Iraq Had 50,000 Christians in 2014, Now 7 Families Remain
Rev. Franklin Graham in Iraq.
(Photo: Samaritan’s Purse.)
During his recent trip to Iraq to celebrate Easter, Reverend Franklin Graham visited the city of Qaraqosh, where in 2014 some 50,000 Christians were forced to flee because of attacks from the Islamic State and where today only about 7 families remain. Because of radical Islam, most of Iraq’s Christian “congregations are now dispersed all over the world,” he said.
In an April 16 post on Facebook, Rev. Graham wrote, “Yesterday we went to the city of Qaraqosh, in Iraq, which used to be home to some 50,000 Christians who were forced to flee for their lives in 2014. Now just a handful, about 7 families, remain.”
“I visited a church that had been burned and destroyed by ISIS and met with the pastor,” said Graham. “Incredibly, in the ashes and debris, we discovered one of our Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes that had been given to a child there at some point. I couldn’t help but wonder where the child who received this box is today.”
Rev. Franklin Graham holds a “Christmas Child” shoebox found in a destroyed Iraqi Christian church.
(Photo: Samaritan’s Purse.)
“My heart goes out to the pastors in this region,” he said. “Most of their congregations are now dispersed all over the world. As shepherds they want to be able to help their flocks. They want to be able to care for them and protect them, but until there’s a political settlement there’s no way this is going to happen.”
“Will you join me in praying for them?” said Rev. Graham.
He continued, “We also found charred pages from a Bible. I picked up a section that contained John 20:27 – ‘Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ He’s still saying that to the world today—this Easter Sunday—Believe!”
Rev. Franklin Graham holds up charred pages from a Bible inside a Christian church in Iraq that was destroyed by the Islamic State. (Photo: Samaritan’s Purse)
Christians Are Being Exterminated in the Middle East
On Sunday, Christians celebrated the most joyous and most essential part of our faith, the Resurrection. This year, there was a somber reminder to not forget our brothers and sisters in Egypt and in many other parts of the world who are persecuted and dying for their faith. Palm Sunday’s Egyptian martyrs should drive us to our knees in prayer, and their response should break our hearts as well as stir us to good works. Some churches had to cancel their services over the weekend, but I am so proud of U.S. Coptic Christians for their resolute and faithful attitudes, even amongst the fear and pain that comes from such a personal attack. The powerful Facebook video of Coptic Christians reciting the Nicene Creed in Arabic takes my breath away. I am embarrassed by my own lack of faith in comparison.
The problems are not new. I wrote about it in 2011 after the bombing of several churches in Alexandria. But since then, the attacks have continued to escalate, thanks to the expansion of power and influence of ISIS in the region.
In 2014, the Islamic State took the town of Qaraqosh, in Iraq, forcing Christians to flee by the thousands. In 2015, we saw the grueling images of 21 Coptic Christians being beheaded, and then another 30 Ethiopian Christians killed in Libya. In 2016, 25 were targeted with a bomb at a Coptic church in Cairo.
These latest attacks have already claimed the lives of 47 Coptic Christians in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. The situation has gotten so bad, Egypt has finally declared a state of emergency.
These are our brothers and sisters. We are all part of the body of Christ — His church — and they are being exterminated. A shocking chart in the Wall Street Journal compared the Christian population between 1950 and 2010. In Lebanon, the Christian percentage of the population has decreased 10 percent. In Egypt, 4 percent. In Syria, it has been reduced almost by half (from 13.3 to 7.5). On and on it goes throughout the region. And that does not take into account the more recent events we have witnessed since then.
The situation is dire, and it is now clear that the political powers in place are unwilling or unable to protect the Christian minority groups.
This is a gut check moment for American Evangelicals. We must no longer be silent. We have, for far too long, been content to swill our lattes on Sunday morning while passively “experiencing” worship. Meanwhile, our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters risk being blown to bits to join their hearts in worship and respond to pure evil by joining hands to recite the Nicene Creed. I am personally convicted and determined to do my part to help us grasp the situation and remain focused for the long haul.
This is not an easy problem with a simple solution. The situation requires a change of heart that gets us closer to the compassion and mercy exhibited by our Lord.
We must wake up. If we are to accomplish the mission that has been given to us by our Lord, we must gain a proper perspective when it comes to the persecuted church.
I am thankful for journalists who are doing everything they can to shed light on the situation. I wish more would be done.
But we, as believers, must be actively engaged. We must intentionally seek every opportunity to inform ourselves and those around us.
- Support organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and others who are serving those who are in dire need around the world.
- Contact the White House and ask President Trump to voice his support for the persecuted church to world leaders, strongly urging them through diplomatic means to protect Christian minorities in their own communities. Ask him to thank and to continue to encourage more public support from leaders like President Al Sisi of Egypt. Ask the Administration for more State Department engagement, including quick confirmation of an Ambassador on Religious Freedom. The first and foremost goal is for Christians and others to enjoy religious freedom and safety in their own countries.
- In war-torn countries like Syria, the U.S. must work with the U.N. and the international community to create safe zones for the hundreds of thousands fleeing ISIS and war. As a last resort for that small number seeking refugee status, we ask the president to quickly create the vetting process for religious minorities (chiefly Christians and Yazidis) seeking asylum from religious persecution and work with and create programs in cooperation with churches willing to shepherd and mentor them into our communities and nation.
Above all, we must be constant in our prayers. The remembrance and lifting up of our brothers in the Middle East should be the norm, not the exception, at our weekly worship services.
We know the fight against ISIS is ongoing. I am thankful that President Trump has said repeatedly that this is the Administration’s number one priority. But, as we engage the enemy, we must remember the victims of their atrocities as well.
Penny Nance is the CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest conservative women’s organization.