Charlie Hebdo riot: 45 churches torched, 10 killed in Niger
See BBC report
Protests broke out over the weekend in several Muslim countries (Niger, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Jordan, Pakistan) with violent clashes taking place in Karachi, Algiers and Khartoum.
Updated: 1.45am on 21 Jan 2015
Amid growing concern by the Vatican for Middle East Christians who live “in environments marked by hostility and conflicts”, Pope Francis met with patriarchs from Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria where the flocks “have grown increasingly vulnerable amid the upheavals of recent years”, a TIME magazine report said.
Following the meeting in Rome two days ago (Thursday), the pontiff indicated his grave concern about the Christians who “suffer in a particularly severe way the consequences of tensions and conflicts in many parts of the Middle East”.
BBC: Islamist extremists attacking Middle East Christians
“In recent years millions of Christians have been displaced in the region. They have fled attacks by Islamist extremists and growing tensions since the Arab spring”, said the BBC. The Christian communities in the Levant are fast dwindling with many becoming refugees and some Orthodox Christians applying for Russian citizenship. See ‘Pope bemoans plight of Mid-East Christians’ (BBC, Nov 21)
Earlier, a news daily The Irish Catholic reported that mass graves have been uncovered in Sadad, a village some 160km north of the Syrian capital Damascus. Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, was quoted two weeks ago as saying: “What happened in Sadad is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010.”
(The attack on the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad by an Al-Qaeda affiliate killed 58 people, said a New York Times report on 1 Nov 2010.)
Daily Telegraph: Christians “face extinction” amid sectarian terror
According to Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, prior to 2003 more than a million Christians lived in Iraq but now there are only around 400,000 — said an AP news agency report filed in Baghdad on Nov 20 (Wed). The Iraqi Christians continue to flee their country following the continuous wave of attacks on them.
In Syria the Christian population is similarly haemorrhaging, said Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Minister for Faith in the British Cabinet. See ‘Christians “face extinction” amid sectarian terror, minister warns‘ (The Daily Telegraph, Nov 14)
The same Daily Telegraph article also quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury – one of the church leaders in the UK who has become “increasingly alarmed at the rising numbers of sectarian attacks on churches in the Islamic world” – describing the victims of bombings in Pakistan as Christian “martyrs”.
Churches set afire in Pakistan, guards shot dead
On 22 Sept 2013, twin bombings at the All Saints Church in Peshawar had left over 80 people dead and 150 injured from the blasts occurring right after Sunday mass, The Express Tribune reported. Biometric-enabled security gates have since been installed by Pakistani police at the church.
However the climate of fear was renewed two days ago among Peshawar Christians when a policeman who was guarding the Assembly of God (AOG church) Swati Gate was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.
Pastor A. R. Hashmat told the Pakistani Christian Post (Nov 21) that the shooting was the second such attack on the Pentecostal church this year.
Widespread attacks on Christians in Africa
Recently on Nov 22, Al-Jazeera reported that ‘UN officials warn of CAR “genocide” risk‘. CAR is the Central African Republic where the armed Muslim Seleka rebels have been targeting churches and Christians in their acts of terrorism.
Rwanda UN ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana was quoted as saying the current chaotic situation in the Central African Republic reminded him of his own country back in 1994 when the majority Hutu massacred the minority Tutsi.
Killing of Christians is taking place in other African countries as well.
The al-Shabaab Islamist radicals were suspected to have bombed a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia and killing at least 15 people while wounding nearly two dozen on Sept 7, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
In Kenya, the same al-Shabaab group had asked Muslim hostages to leave before shooting their Christian victims in Nairobi’s premiere shopping centre. The attack took place at midday 21 Sept 2013 when the al-Shabaab militants stormed the Westgate mall, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately at shoppers.
The Guardian reported that the siege on the mall lasted 80 hours and resulted in at least 67 deaths.
Egypt Christians: Islamists threatening ‘slaughter’
Over the last few years, not only have churches been bombed in Egypt but Christian homes attacked with gasoline bombs.
In August this year, human rights groups warned that more violence was about to erupt against Egypt’s Christians. See ‘Egypt Christian: Islamists threatening ‘slaughter’ (CBN News, 11 Aug 2013). And they were right.
In the latter half of month of August alone, 100 churches and Christian institutions in all were attacked, according to the offices of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. A further 52 Christian schools, convents, monasteries, institutions, and churches were demolished. See, The Huffington Post (29 Aug 2013).
The violence against Christians in Egypt has not ceased but instead escalated.
- ‘Attacks on Christians by Islamic militants rise in Egypt’ (CBS News, 30 Oct 2013)
- ‘Egypt: Fears replace Christians’ high expectations’ (ABC News, 16 Nov 2013)
- ‘Christians get little protection from Egypt’s new government, but they’re too afraid to complain’ (Miami Herald, 18 Nov 2013)
All the articles cited on this page are recent items taken from renowned and reputable news organizations. The list above is far from exhaustive.
Anti-Christian attacks carried out in the Muslim world are too numerous, so much so that there are websites dedicated to recording these global episodes on a daily basis. Christians and Muslims the world over are involved in violent conflict.