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article imageOp-Ed: Dangerous to be a Christian Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Apr 6, 2014 in World
2013 was a dangerous year for Christians. Many were tortured and killed, mostly by Islamists throughout the Middle East. Jesus said "love your enemy," so Christians don't usually seek revenge, making them easy targets.
It seems like every week I read about another Christian killed by an Islamist who yells "Allahu Akbar" as he slices off a head or stabs a heart. In fact, 2013 saw an alarming rise of attacks on Christians which has continued into the first quarter of 2014. According to Open Doors, an organization that tracks Christian persecution worldwide, 2,123 Christians were killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88). North Korea, Somalia, and Iraq were among the top worst places for a Christian to live.
In Syria, the Islamist rebels have been attacking ancient Christian towns which were established 2000 years ago, centuries before the beginnings of Islam. The apostle Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, and some Christians from the town of Maaloula can still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. A resident of Maalula called her fiancé’s cell phone and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused, so they slit his throat. Christians constituted about 30% of Syria's population in the 1920s. Today, they make up about 10% of Syria's 22 million people. That number is dwindling as Jihdists burn churches, torture Christians, and throw their bodies into mass graves. In the small town of Sadad, at least 45 people, including women and children, were killed. A Christian bishop's body was found dumped on a roadside, his eyes gouged out. Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham recently said that more than 1,000 Christians had been killed, "entire villages… cleared of their Christian inhabitants," and more than 40 churches and Christian centers damaged or destroyed.
On April 6, 2014, news got out that the Armenian Christian city of Kessab, which is in northwest Syria on the border with Turkey, was attacked by Islamic rebels who burned churches, looted homes, and murdered 80 people, many elderly. The Islamists beheaded at least 13 Christians. Beheading, backed by Islamic Sharia law, is a popular form of execution in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International condemns such public beheadings and the crucifixion-style display of bodies. Kessab residents complained that Turkey allowed Islamic fighters and weapons to cross the border into Syria, echoing the infamous Armenian Genocide of the early 20th Century in which the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenian Christians.
The "Boko Haram" ("Western Education is Sinful") terrorist group in Nigeria seeks to create an Islamic state. These terrorists have been sneaking into Christian schools at night and killing children while they slept. In February, 2014, Boko Haram killed 300 people, including an entire village they burned to the ground. In a video sent to AFP in February, Boko Haram's purported leader Abubakar Shekau said he would continue his relentless campaign of violence on anyone who supported democracy or so-called Western values. Boko Haram's four-year insurgency has claimed more than 3,600 lives since 2009. Nigeria's 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north.
In September of 2013, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 85 worshippers at All Saints’ church, which has stood since 1883 in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. The attack on a Kenyan mall the same week was led by Somali al-Shabab terrorists who targeted Christians and let Muslims go free. Further persecution happened in Pakistan when a Muslim man accused a Christian man of blasphemy against Islam, igniting an angry Islamic mob that burned churches, Bibles, and a Christian neighborhood. Recently, that Christian man, Sawan Masih, was sentenced to death for blasphemy. He maintains his innocence, stating that he was falsely accused by his Muslim acquaintance over a land dispute.
Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer and expert on religious persecution, testified in 2011 before Congress regarding the fate of Iraqi Christians, two-thirds of whom have vanished from the country. They have either been murdered or fled in fear for their lives. Said Shea: “In August 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … The archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed in early 2008. A bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes …”
Even in "moderate" Islamic-bending countries like Turkey, Christians have been attacked and killed, including several pastors or church workers whose throats were slit. I attended a church near Istanbul where the pastor and his family were given death threats, and the church was sometimes shot at with guns. My Turkish husband was tortured by the Turkish police who threatened to "rape your Christian wife" (that would be me). One afternoon in Izmit we watched a Muslim Brotherhood group march through city center. Men, clad in black, yelled "Allahu Akbar!" with a few covered women and children following behind. I wanted to say something to them, but my husband grabbed my arm and led me away, whispering,
"It is dangerous for you here. They could attack you."
Egyptian Coptic Christians are facing their worst persecution since the 14th Century. After the fall of Islamist President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood struck out against Egyptian Christians, the largest and one of the oldest Christian groups in the Middle East. At least 70 churches were burned or damaged, Christian homes destroyed, and Christians killed. Women and children were shot down outside a church during a Christian wedding. Nuns were paraded through the streets.
Stalin once stated, "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." So instead of leaving you with overwhelming statistics of Christians being slaughtered or driven out of the birthplace of Christianity, I will give you the face of one woman. According to eyewitnesses, Mary Sameh George, a young Egyptian Christian, was parked outside a church on March 28, 2014 as Muslim Brotherhood rioters attacked. They fired guns on the church and set nearby cars aflame, killing 4 Christians, including Mary. They saw a cross hanging from Mary's rearview mirror and jumped on top of her car, pulled her out, undressed and molested her, pulled her hair, kicked her, and stabbed her in the heart. Then they slit her throat and paraded her naked body.
She had come to deliver medicine to a sick, elderly church member. She did not deserve to die like that. The Egyptian police did not intervene to help her.
Martin Luther King said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Why is America and Europe keeping silent about the systematic genocide of Christians in the Middle East? Why are they harboring Islamists with dangerous agendas and allowing even their top leaders to support the Muslim Brotherhood that has been labeled a terrorist organization and banned in Egypt and Saudi Arabia?
Perhaps we will get no clear answers. We will feel safe in our American or English homes, far away from such violence. Or so we think. Last week an award-winning German journalist was shot to death as she sat in a car in Afghanistan. Her Islamist attacker yelled, "Allahu Akbar" before riddling her car with bullets from an AK-47. Was she thought to be a Christian? Last year, a British soldier was beheaded by Islamists on a busy London street, in daylight. Was he targeted because he was seen as a Christian? Last year, a Muslim man was accused of beheading and burying 2 Christians of Egyptian Coptic descent. This happened in New Jersey, U.S.A.
The world is increasingly proving that it's dangerous to be a Christian. Jesus said, "The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service." Perhaps that time has come.
Mary Sameh George  the 25-year-old Coptic Christian woman who was killed by a Muslim Brotherhood mob...
Mary Sameh George, the 25-year-old Coptic Christian woman who was killed by a Muslim Brotherhood mob outside her church in Cairo on March 28, 2014
Raymond Ibrahim
Islamists supported by Turkey execute Armenian Christians near Kessab  Syria in April  2014  echoing...
Islamists supported by Turkey execute Armenian Christians near Kessab, Syria in April, 2014, echoing the Armenian Genocide
The Clarion Project
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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