Islam’s War on Christianity

As I write this, I stop typing every few minutes to roll in my hand some small objects, rather like rust-colored, metal rosary beads. They serve a similar purpose, to remind me of the eternal, the important, the holy. In ways, this is profoundly jarring, in that they are spent bullets and small pieces of shrapnel, gathered at Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad after the evening Mass on October 31, 2010.

That was when a Sunni Muslim terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS), launched a concerted attack on the church, murdering at least fifty-eight people and wounding more than seventy-five. My brothers and sisters in Christ were slaughtered that night, and the floor of the church was still bloody when the bullets from the sub-machine guns and the shrapnel from the anti-personnel grenades were gathered and preserved.

I mention this because my new book, Hatred: Islam’s War on Christianity has just been published and it may well be the most important thing I have ever written. It is not hyperbole, not rhetoric, not drama or bombast or exaggeration to say that what Christians are facing in most Muslim-majority countries at the moment is the most pernicious example of religious persecution since the Holocaust.

Many of these countries, particularly in the Middle East, where Christianity began and is the homeland and heartland of the Church, may be entirely without Christians within our lifetimes. Tragically, but perhaps not surprisingly, the world is doing relatively little to stop all this.

The campaign of persecution is international. In the sharia-dominated states of northern Nigeria, in the cities and villages of Pakistan, in the towns of Egypt, in many of the islands of Indonesia, in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Sudan, post-Saddam Iraq, those areas of Syria not under government control, even the Maldives, Christians are tortured, raped, beaten, arrested, forcibly converted, crucified, exiled, murdered.

At times when I was writing the book, I felt like giving the project up, surrendering to the despair and pain of having to chronicle so many attacks and so much barbarism – all the time knowing that to many outsiders the idea of persecuted Christians was something of history and legend and surely couldn’t be a modern reality.

In fact Christians are the most persecuted identifiable group in the world, and while two of the twenty most oppressive countries for Christians are non-Muslim – one is, obviously, North Korea where everybody lives in a metaphorical prison – the overwhelming dynamic is one of Islamic subjugation of the Christian minority. 

Even those commentators who admit this is the case tend to argue that this is a contemporary malaise within an otherwise tolerant Islam. But that isn’t the case. While there are lyrical, poetic, gentle and tolerant verses in the Koran, there are also violent, oppressive, absolutist, and vehemently intolerant ones as well.

Due to the law of abrogation, those verses written later in Mohammad’s life take precedence over those written earlier, and unless we understand this we can be deceived. Like it or not, accept it or not, Islam does not call for equal co-existence with other faiths.

In its purest form, the Koran commands that people of the book, which includes Christians, will be treated with respect as long as they pay a head tax, never preach publicly about their faith or try to convert people, ask permission to build churches or repair old ones, not ride a horse for fear they will be higher than a Muslim, and generally lead a life of subservience.

At various times during Islamic history, Christians minorities have survived and even prospered. But the inescapable fact is that the more secular and less Islamic the state – the Shah’s Iran, Turkey before the current regime, Ba’athist Iraq and Syria – the better Christians were treated. Saddam was a brute, Assad a dictator, but both were enemies of Islamic fundamentalism and both protected their Christian minorities to lesser or greater degrees.

         Michael Coren

As for the future, let’s not pretend that it is encouraging. One of the people I interviewed for the book was the courageous Canadian/Pakistani author Farzana Hassan, who told me:

I think it is largely for political reasons that the West is cowering under pressure from the bullies in the Islamic world. The West is not able to preserve its own cherished values like freedom of speech due to rioting and pressure from the Islamic world, how can one expect it to influence policies in Islamic countries? The West, in my view should take a more pro-active stance in protecting the rights of Christians in Islamic countries. This can be done in the form of sanctions, or boycotts. The West can also open its doors to beleaguered Christian communities of Pakistan and Nigeria. But the West is economically dependent on the Middle East and has strategic interests in many other parts of the Islamic world, which it does not want to jeopardize. The Islamic world will go through a series of convulsions before it can tread the path of progress, prosperity and tolerance. As long as Al Qaedah and Taliban types are running the show, (and they are in several Islamic lands,) Christian minorities will continue to suffer. Anyone who even tries to defend them is targeted. Intolerance toward religious minorities is endemic to the Islamic world. It is inculcated in Muslims from a very early age.

Yet while many Christians in the west argue about relatively cosmetic issues and even believe – how dare they – that they face persecution, this saga of atrocities continues. By the way, if anyone is wondering if I have received death threats because I have written this book, the answer is: yes, of course I have, but I live in a civilized nation where the rule of law still applies and religious freedoms are sacrosanct. At least for now.

This is far from the case for many Christians. And it behooves us to defend them because their fate is our own.

Michael Coren is a TV and radio host based in Toronto, Canada. His syndicated column runs each week in many newspapers. He is the author of thirteen books, including Heresy, Why Catholics Are Right, and Hatred: Islam’s War on Christianity from which this column is excerted.

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Michael Coren

  • Heresy - Thursday, May 17, 2012
  • Chris in Maryland

    The Church in the west allows mad bishops, clergy and “catholic media” to market the merits of unchastity, while our poor brothers and sisters in Christ are murdered, raped and pillaged.

    As a Catholic people – we in the west – when observed as a whole – just seem disgraceful.

    What callous fools so many in positions of Church influence are – contemplating the merits of mortal sin – while the faithful are put to the sword.

    Truly – it seems that the most charitable and merciful men on earth are those soldiers, marines and militia who have taken up arms against the satanic Jihad.

    As Anthony Esolen wrote: “May God conform us to the beauty of Jesus.” And as Fr. Landry wrote: “May Christ – not confusion – reign.”

  • grump

    In the immortal words of the late, great Christopher Hitchens: “Religion poisons everything.” I have no brief for Islam, but Christianity has just as much blood on its hands or more “in the name of God.” Point a finger at someone at there are 4 pointing back at you.

  • Tony

    But dear Grump — that is not true. Original sin is what poisons everything. Men have fought wars wherever there have been men, and, outside of Islam, almost none of those wars have had anything to do with religion. Men have fought wars for land, power, wealth, glory, boredom, bloodlust, and revenge. When the British missionaries explored the Congo hardly more than a century ago, they found unspeakable cruelties. I hold no brief for the British Empire, but it sure does seem hard to believe that the Congolese were better off without Christianity. One thing that allowed Europe to flourish in the High Middle Ages was the conversion of the pagan Vikings and the pagan Slavs. The difference between Islam and Christianity is the difference between a desert warlord and the Man on the cross.

  • frkloster

    @grump That type of equivocation is truly distressing. We must be smart enough to differentiate the rule from the exception. Throughout history, Christianity was the defender and Islam the aggressor. That, my friend is a huge difference. Who are the leaders of Christianity and Islam? One was the Godman Jesus Christ. The other claimed to be the “Prophet” Mohammed. Jesus never went into villages and poisoned the water. Jesus never advocated forcible conversions. Jesus never advocated humiliating his enemies. The bible is a very different book from the Koran. Only someone who refuses to compare apples to apples could turn a blind eye and write what you have written.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Grump: It’s going to be difficult for Christians to keep up with the Islamists in getting blood on their hands: Just for starters — 10,000 Christians murdered in Nigeria since 1999; 200,000 in East Timor since 1975; two million in Sudan between 1983 and 1985. The big problem is that there is nothing in the New Testament giving Christians the green light to murder non-Christians, while there are commands all through Muslim scriptures to murder “unbelievers.” So Christians are “on their own” when tempted to murder, while Muslims can claim to follow divine injunctions.

  • Phil in Pittsburgh

    Grump, you can’t seriously be suggesting that, because Christians in the past have at times engaged in unjustifiable bloodshed (although your comment that “Christianity has just as much blood on its hands or more ‘in the name of God'” sounds to me like a cheap bit of knee-jerk anti-Christian bigotry on your part), no one can speak against the desperate plight of today’s Christians in Muslim lands. To do so would be to fall into moral idiocy.

  • DS

    I grieve and pray for the Christians in the Holy Land. Our leaders have been spineless on the persecution.

    But taking the book’s arguments at face value, it does not address practical questions for Christians on this side of the globe: How does one encounter encounter another human being, created by God in His image, that has been born into an Islamic tradition? How do I bear witness to the Gospel? How do I interact with Muslims at work? How about the peaceful, loving and friendly Muslim family down the block that invites our family to break the fast during Ramadan every year?

  • John

    Yeah, stupid belief in laws and beings higher than ourselves. If we could all just realize we’re the result of millions of years of mindless, brutal competition among different aimless mutations of the same slime that lightening happened to strike in the distant past of an uncaring universe, I’m sure we’d find incontrovertible arguments for loving and helping each other forever, which eveyone would agree on and act in accordance with.

  • Tom in NC

    (Ignoring grump, who is a couple of hundred years behind on the news.)

    The recent spate of domestic Islamic converts who’ve gone right out to express their new faith with bullets has me wondering if, in both North American countries, Islam hasn’t virulently “swapped genes” with the indigenous Protestant mindset of individual interpretation and Sola Scriptura?
    The Koran hasn’t changed, but this is something new.

  • Chris in Maryland

    When people from “Christian” countries commit atrocities, all Christians, and those familiar with Christianity, know that the perpetrators are violating the Gospel.

    When people from “Moslem” countries commit atrocities, all Moslems, and those familiar with the violent commands of the Koran, know that the perpetrators are obeying the Koran.

  • Manfred

    Mr. Coren: Have you had a chance to read the book by Miko Peled, an Israeli now living in San Diego, entitled “The General’s Son”? The author is the son of the Israeli general. You might want to Google it.

    Would like to have been a Palestinian muslim during the last sixty-six years? Would you like to be a Palestinian today? Would you like to have been a muslim Iraqi from March 19, 2003 to the present, especially during the invasion which was declared “immoral” and “illegal” by the Vatican?

    These so-called “converts” are malcontents around the world who see the West, especially the U.S., as merely an avaricious war criminal who has supported a world which has continually marginalized them. ISIS provides the direction and the muscle they require. Think of North Viet-Nam reaching out to Russia and China for weapons to drive out the American invader. Once this was accomplished, Viet-Nam had to fight a brief war with China as it wanted to take America’s place (Just as America replaced France when the area was known as Indo China).

    Now the muslims are striking back in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. It is part of “globalization”

  • Carlos

    Grump writes that to troll the site. Just another comedian.

    Two things I have noticed in this excellent article from Mr Coren whom I have been reading for a few years. Notice the parallel between the Sharia treatment of Christians (pay taxes, do not evangelize, keep your religion at home, etc.) with the Liberal approach to “freedom of worship” which is: pay taxes, do not evangelize, keep your religion at home, etc.

    Germany and France left the Spaniards, Genovese, and Venetians fight Lepanto alone. It was like an early separation of the goats and sheep. The same is happening now. Islam is not going to be triumphant. If I am not mistaken they will be cast into the lake of fire along with a certain beast. Muslims are the most persistent heresy and Liberalism is the sum of all heresies. If those two statements are true then most of the world and a good part of the Catholic people have fallen into heresy. The conditions then are ripe for the return of the Lord who will consume them with unquenchable fire.
    The question then is: where are we standing? with the goats or the sheep?

  • John Hinshaw

    Public school children in the U.S. (which included me at one time) learned, as I did 50 years ago, that the Crusades were an assault by Christians on non-believers to make them believe in Christianity. That the Crusades were actually a response by Christians in the Western world to the pleas for help from their brother Christians in the Middle East, is unrecognized in our curricula. Christians in the Middle East 1,000 years ago were suffering the same violence, slaughter and persecution as today. Morons teach our history and produce more morons. It is typically American to avoid actually learning something so we can make an intelligent assessment about what is right or wrong. Easier for us to just condemn all these religions.

  • Chris in Maryland

    Per John Hinshaw, as I have read many histories since the atrocities of 11 Sep 2001, I recount just one of the precipitating events that sparked the 1st Crusade, from the French historian Regine Pernoud, in her work entitled “The Crusaders.”

    The pilgrims of Bamberg, Germany, some 12,000 unarmed men, women and children, were approaching Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week. They were attacked by Moslem cavalry, armed as typical of this army with bows and arrows. For 3 days unceasing, the Moslem army slaughtered the pilgrims, by the thousands. Pernoud reports the reason why the slaughter stopped: the Moslem soldiers ran out of arrows.

    Just another history lesson air-brushed out of “the progressive narrative.”