The Tip of the Iceberg of Christian Persecution

September 10, 2012 7:43 pm 1 comment

Two Christians living in the Islamic world under arrest and awaiting execution—the one charged with apostasy, the other with blasphemy—were just released.

According to a September 8 report on CNN, “A Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran for apostasy was reunited with his family Saturday after a trial court acquitted him… Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents and a convert to Christianity by age 19, was released after being held in prison for almost three years under a death sentence…. Setting aside the death sentence, a trial court convicted Nadarkhani of a lesser charge—evangelizing Muslims—and declared that his prison sentence had already been served… His case drew international attention after his October 2009 arrest, and the 34-year-old pastor refused to recant his Christian beliefs.”

In a separate story published the same day, “Pakistani authorities on Saturday released a teenage Christian girl detained over accusations of blasphemy,” for allegedly burning pages of a Koran. Up till then, local Muslims were calling for the death of the 14-year-old Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, warning that, if released, they would “take the law into their own hands.”

Why were these two Christians released—when both apostasy and blasphemy are great crimes in Islam? Is this a sign that Iran and Pakistan are reforming, becoming more “moderate”? One U.S. paper, for example, optimistically offers the following title, “Rescue of Christian Girl may be Turning Point in Abuse of Blasphemy Law.”

Nadarkhani and Masih were certainly not released because their governments are acting according to universal standards of justice or reason. If so, they would not have been arrested in the first place. Nor do these releases suggest that Iran or Pakistan are rethinking their Islamic apostasy and blasphemy laws.

The fact is, there are many more Christians imprisoned in both countries for apostasy and blasphemy. Unlike Nadarkhani and Masih, however, the Western mainstream has never heard of these unfortunate Christians. And that’s the whole difference.

In Iran, where at least as early as 1990 a convert to Christianity, Pastor Hossein Soodmand, was executed by the state, apostates from Islam are under siege. A few examples from the last few months include:

    • A six-year prison sentence for Pastor Farshid Fathi Malayeriwhose crime was to convert to, and now preach, Christianity—was upheld last July following an unsuccessful appeal hearing.
    • Another prominent house church pastor, Benham Irani, remains behind bars even as his family expresses concerns that he may die from continued abuse and beatings, leading to internal bleeding and other ailments. The verdict against him contains text that describes the pastor as an apostate who “can be killed.” According to one activist, “His ‘crimes’ were being a pastor and possessing Christian materials.” He is being beat in jail and getting sick, to the point that his hair has “turned fully gray.”
    • A woman, Leila Mohammadi, who had earlier converted to Christianity was arrested when security agents raided her house. Imprisoned for five months in Iran’s notorious Evin prison without any word on her fate, she was latersentenced to two years in prison.
    • June 17 report indicated that, five months after five Christian converts were arrested, their condition and fate had remained unknown. They were accused of “attending house church services, promoting Christianity, propagating against the regime and disturbing national security.” Being imprisoned for 130 days without word “is an obvious example of physical and mental abuse of the detainees …. one of the prison guards openly told one of these Christian detainees that all these pressures and uncertainties are intended to make them flee the country after they are released.”
    • A young woman, who had recently converted to Christianity and was an outspoken activist against the Islamic regime, was found dead, slumped over her car’s steering wheel, with a single gunshot wound to her head.

Then there are Iran’s many other faces of Christian persecution, including the shutting down of churches,regular crackdowns on house-church gatheringsdetaining and abusing Christiansbanning church services in Farsi, and confiscating Bibles and other Christian literature.

As for Pakistan’s blasphemy law—which calls for the death penalty—here are a few stories from the last few months:

    • A Muslim mob doused a man with gasoline and literally burned him alive for “blaspheming” the Koran (graphic picture here).
    • A 26-year-old Christian woman was arrested after neighbors accused her of “uttering remarks against Muhammad.” A few days prior, some of her relatives who converted to Islam had pressured her to do likewise: “She refused, telling them that she was satisfied with Christianity and did not want to convert.” She was arrested of blasphemy soon thereafter.
    • A female Christian teacher was targeted by Muslims due to allegations that she burned a Koran. A mob stormed her school in an attempt to abduct her, but police took her into custody.
    • A Christian man was arrested and charged with “blasphemy” for rescuing his 8-year-old nephew from a beating at the hands of Muslim boys who sought to force the boy to convert to Islam. Later, “a Muslim mob of about 55 led by the village prayer leader besieged the Christian’s house,” and insisted that “the blasphemer” be turned over to them.
    • A banned Islamic group attempted to burn down a Christian village after accusing a 25-year-old mentally retarded Christian man of “blasphemy.”
    • A 20-year-old Christian man was arrested and charged with “blasphemy” after Muslims accused him of burning a Koran soon after a billiard game. The Muslims kept taunting and threatening him, to which the Christian “dared them to do whatever they wanted and walked away.” Days later came the accusation and arrest, which caused Muslim riots, creating “panic among Christians” who “left their houses anticipating violence.”

In the last two decades, over 50 people have been murdered in Pakistan for blasphemy. Even the recent assassination of the nation’s only cabinet-level Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, was in retaliation for his being an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws.

In light of all the above, why were Pastor Nadarkhani and Masih, the Christian girl—whose fates were sealed—released? Because unlike the many nameless and faceless Christians persecuted for blasphemy and apostasy in Pakistan and Iran, not to mention the rest of the Islamic world, the mainstream media actually reported their story in the West, prompting much public outrage, international condemnations, and the threat of diplomatic actions and/or sanctions.

For example, Canada just cut relations with Iran, citing, among other reasons the fact that Iran is “one of the world’s worst violators of human rights.” It was the very next day that Pastor Nadarkhani was “coincidentally” released, even as the Iranian regime, feigning innocence, accused Canada of being “racist.”

In short, these two particular Christians were simply too much of a liability to punish as Sharia law demands—the same Sharia, incidentally, that teaches Muslims to be lax and tolerant when in their interest. While it is good that Western outrage and condemnation was fundamentally responsible for the release of Nadarkhani and Masih, the West must learn that these two Christians merely represent the tip of the iceberg of Christian persecution in Muslim countries.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

1 Comment

  • ESAUVS DAUGHTER MARRIED YISHMAELS SON
    The xtians made a pact with the arabs
    TORAH comes around a second time we are taught.
    All that we read in the news is meaningless and a test
    by the heavens to see where will our allegiance be?
    What are the Jews priorities?

    If jews do not save themselfs then they certainly cant be strong enough to be a light unto the world.

    If Jews fall into the darkness of the xtian missionaries because Jews were intimidated to interfaith dinners,invited them to our holy pesach seders to show ‘how kind’ Jews are, instead of knowing that the presence of Hashem is in the center of the table while you entertain the goyim ignoring the meaning of pesach to tell your children…to remember the evils of amalek, to be with YOUR OWN FAMILY, to recognize the miracles that HASHEM HAS GIVEN TO US, THE SPECIAL CHILDREN OF HASHEM…then you fail heavens test.

    If you recognize any of this descriptions within yourself, then this is the time to repent.
    Now is Rosh HaShanah, the head of the new year where you recognize the ills you have done,learn about those laws you transgressed,looking up towards the heavens and telling Hashem you will do yourbest not to repeat those sins

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.