“They Consider Us Inferior and Want to Rule Us”: The Persecution of Christians, April 2022

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On April 8, a Muslim man from North Africa entered the Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Toulouse, France during the 8am mass, and left a homemade explosive device near the altar. Pictured: Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Toulouse. (Image source: Felipeh/Wikimedia Commons)

Source: Gatestone Institute, By Raymond Ibrahim, May 22, 2022

  • On Good Friday, Fulani [Muslim tribe] kidnapped eight Christians. Four were released after paying a hefty ransom. One of the women released said that she was “raped several times by two leaders of the Fulani Militants.” A “militant told us, after receiving the ransom money, that they got money to kill more Christians.” — International Christian Concern, April 18, 2022, Nigeria
  • “It is not the first time that we ourselves have been attacked in Italy because we are Christians… It makes me angry to think that this discrimination also exists here.” — Daughter of a Coptic Christian man who was attacked for smoking during Ramadan, medforth.biz, April 23, 2022, Turin, Italy.
  • “They want to apply Sharia law because they consider us inferior and want to rule us.” — Coptic Christian man who was attacked for smoking during Ramadan, medforth.biz, April 23, 2022, Turin, Italy.
  • “They destroyed almost everything in the house, shot holes in the new truck and tried to burn it. The house itself is OK, but its contents are “They seized Sister Suellen from her bed in her nightclothes, with “no glasses, shoes, phone, medicine, etc.” She has not been heard from since. — Marianite Sister Ann Lacour, congregational leader, Clarion Herald, April 5, 2022, Burkina Faso.
  • “Inside the police station, I was surprised by attempts and pressure to conciliate. The perpetrator’s lawyer steered the writing of the report [in a manner] that contradicted reality, and they forced me to sign the report which contained statements from the pharmacist’s lawyer without taking my statements. …. We were especially shocked to see the report said that ‘the pharmacist is a friend of the family, who was just bantering and joking around with Mrs. Nevin, because he is close to the family.'” — Christian woman who was violently slapped by a pharmacist for entering his store without a head covering during Ramadan; Coptic Solidarity, April 27, 2022, Egypt.

The following are among the abuses Muslims inflicted on Christians throughout the month of April, 2022:

The Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Egypt: On April 7, a Muslim man wielding a long knife lunged at and repeatedly stabbed a Coptic Christian priest, killing him. The attack occurred in a crowded street in Alexandria. Fr. Arsenius Wadid, 56, who was leading his church’s youth group on a field trip, was stabbed in the throat three times. Passersby captured the assassin and handed him over to police.

Although the Egyptian media tried to present this tragic assault as an aberration, it is not the first time that Muslims have slaughtered Christian clergymen in Egypt. In one especially notable — because very similar — incident, security camera footage (formerly viewable here) captured a Muslim man with a large butcher knife chasing and stabbing Fr. Samaan Shehata — in the head, neck, and torso — on the streets of Cairo on October 12, 2017. He then drew a cross on the priest’s forehead with his blood. About the murderer’s motive, one report said that “he had decided to kill any Coptic priest, purchased a dagger, and lay in wait for one to pass by, in a street leading to the local church.” Similarly, in 2013, Coptic priest Mina Cheroubim was shot dead as he left his church in al-Arish.

A few days after the slaughter of Fr. Arsenius, also in Egypt, three masked men pulled up near the workshop of Rani Ra’fat, a 28-year-old Coptic engineer. Once the Christian appeared, a hail of fire was opened on him; he died on the spot. His killers then fled the scene. Twenty-two bullets were found in his body. Then, on May 13, a man claiming to be the murderer made a brief video in which he beams a great smile and congratulates himself for his deed. He identifies himself as Faisal Abdul Nasser, says that he did not know his victim, but that he was moved to the act after reading the Koran and because he is “loyal to Allah”:

“I am the one who killed that Christian of al-Daba, and—by Allah, by Allah, by Allah—I am delighted that I killed him! I killed him on behalf of Muhammad’s umma [the Muslim world], because he is a polytheist who associates another [Christ] with Allah, and his own Bible confirms this…. No Christian polytheist, who doesn’t believe in our lord, Muhammad, can just come and profane our women! He is a polytheist and my heart was inflamed. I had read the Koran and my heart was inflamed with fire, so I killed him. He is not permitted to touch someone [a woman] who believes in Muhammad the messenger of Allah… I neither knew him [personally] nor the women he was reportedly involved with. However, when I read the Koran, my heart was set afire. I am zealous over and sacrifice for Islam. I have no problem surrendering myself [to the police]. This is a state issue: It is not permissible for a Christian who associates others with Allah to be involved with a Muslim woman… No one incited me to do this, only my heart—because I am loyal to Allah.”

Since last reported, and despite the fact that police have supposedly been “investigating” this case for more than three weeks, the confessed murderer has yet to be apprehended.

Syria: On April 6, a Christian priest was found dead inside the St. George Greek Orthodox cathedral in Latakia. According to a statement from Syria’s Ministry of Interior, Fr. George Rafiq Housh, 65, “had shot himself with his own 7.5 mm pistol due to psychological and social pressures…” Many, however, question the claim that he had committed suicide. One report notes that it was “murder, not a suicide,” as well as a “message of intimidation.” Another report asserts that he was “found sitting in a chair with multiple gunshot wounds,” which would seem most odd for a suicide. Syrian researcher and academic Dr. Samira Moubayed said:

“[P]romoting the story of Father George shooting himself is naive and adopting the regime’s lies, which were repeated during the numerous assassinations it carried out… It is linked to a security agency and has a clear goal, which is to intimidate the Christians in the region and displace them or push them to despair and apprehension.”

Nigeria: Muslim Fulani terrorists continued their jihad on Christian communities throughout April; some of the accounts of slaughter include:

April 10: Muslim terrorists raided about ten Christian-majority villages throughout Central Plateau State; 142 people were slaughtered, about 70—mostly women and girls—were abducted, and three thousand displaced. Responding to these attacks, a local Christian said, “The government has turned a blind eye to these atrocities.”

April 26: Fulani terrorists slaughtered 21 Christians in four different villages of Kaduna State. They also torched a church and at least 92 Christian homes.

April 11: Muslim terrorists attacked Tior-Tyu in Benue State; they butchered at least 17 Christians. A local said:

“This attack was not envisaged at all because we live as a peaceful Christian community and have never expected any attack from anyone most especially from the Fulanis. We were not prepared for such at all. Many people ran leaving their farms and means of livelihood…Women and children were also brutally killed and a fast a [sic] burial arrangement was made for them because of how gory it was.”

April 11: The Muslims raided the central Nigerian village of Semaka; they killed 5 Christians.

April 1: Fulani attacked Christian villages in Plateau State; they killed at least two, displaced more than a thousand, and torched their churches and at least 90 homes.

April 4: Muslim terrorists attacked Christian villages in Miango District; they killed three people and torched 65 properties, including the community church, which was burned to the ground.

April 15: On Good Friday, Fulani kidnapped eight Christians. Four were released after paying a hefty ransom. One of the women released said that she was “raped several times by two leaders of the Fulani Militants.” Moreover, a “militant told us, after receiving the ransom money, that they got money to kill more Christians.”

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

France: On Friday, April 8, an unknown man entered the Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Toulouse during the 8am mass, shortly after communion, and left a package near the altar. He also shouted something at the church worshippers, which they could not understand. Police and explosive experts were quickly deployed to the cathedral. The package turned out to be a homemade explosive device that contained acid. The suspect, a Muslim man from North Africa, was eventually found and arrested. According to the French language news report, his “motive remains unknown.”

Greece: During Holy Week, “an unprecedented event took place” in a church during liturgy, according to an April 20 report:

“A foreigner of Arab descent broke into the church, turned to the microphone, and started shouting Quranic verses in front of a shocked congregation.

In seconds, two men in the choir ran towards him and dragged him out of the Church. By the time police arrived, the man had disappeared from the scene.”

Sudan: On April 10, a church “long harassed by Islamic extremists,” was attacked. According to the report, three Muslim men barged in during worship. One of the Muslims, “punched the pastor, tore his shirt and assaulted two women… The other two assailants tore Bibles and broke chairs.” One of the women suffered cuts to her mouth, and the other sustained hand injuries. Both required medical treatment. One, aged more than 50, was also pushed onto her back and continues to suffer from back pain. When the pastor, Stephanou Adil Kujo, later went to police, they responded by charging him with “disturbing the peace and [being a] public disturbance.” “It is surprisingly strange that the pastor is accused and charged,” responded his lawyer. Then, on April 25, a Muslim judge sentenced the pastor to a month imprisonment for “disturbing the peace,” as well as Ibrahim Kodi, the leader of the three Muslims who assaulted the church. According to one report,

“The jailed Christian leader’s church has long been harassed by Muslim extremists. Leaders of the church were detained and questioned in February after Muslim extremists upset about the presence of their worship building locked it shut on Feb. 21…. [T]he Muslims accused church members of hostility toward Islam by holding gatherings on Fridays, the Muslim day of mosque prayer.”

Holiday Related Attacks on Christians: Easter and Ramadan

Spain: On Sunday, April 10, Muslims physically tried to block an Easter procession in Tarragona (video here). When police arrived to intervene and allow passage for the procession, the Muslims began to riot, prompting police to call for reinforcements. In the end, two men of North African background were arrested, and an investigation was opened concerning the rest.

Similarly, on April 14, during an Easter procession in Granada, a large number of objects began to rain down on the Christians. They came from the Bermúdez de Castro refugee center. Discussing the violent Muslim migrants, the leader of Vox Granada, Onofre Miralles, said, “They are against our culture and against our tradition. I demand measures from the Junta de Andalucía.”

Italy: On April 18, Muslim migrants beat and kicked two Coptic Christian brothers, aged 62 and 71, for wearing crosses and because one of them was smoking during Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to fast. The incident took place in a street in Turin. The Christian brothers had been living in Italy for more than 40 years. According to the 23-year-old daughter, of one of the brothers, who was born and raised in Italy, said. “It is not the first time that we ourselves have been attacked in Italy because we are Christians.” She suggested that the main reason they were attacked was because “Both wear quite obvious Christian crosses.” After noting that Coptic Christians are persecuted in their Egyptian homeland, she said, “It makes me angry to think that this discrimination also exists here”:

“We have had problems before. It happened to me in the city centre when I was out with my friends and we were approached by a man with a small child who started calling us unclean and said we were dressed like prostitutes because we were wearing western clothes. This always happened during Ramadan. The husband of one of my mother’s friends was attacked because he ate during the fasting month, which he obviously does not comply with because he belongs to a different religion [Christianity].”

Another Coptic businessman in Turin who has been similarly harassed by Muslim migrants

Egypt: In late April, a Muslim man berated and beat a Coptic Christian woman because she had entered his establishment with her head uncovered during Ramadan. Nevin Sobhi, a 30-year-old married mother, had gone to her local drugstore to pick up some medication for her young son, who accompanied her. On entering, she noticed that the head pharmacist, Dr. Ali Abu Sa’da, was giving her “the evil eye.” He eventually launched into a loud and “hate-filled tirade” against her for daring to enter his store during Ramadan without any head covering and while wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt. Ali was aware that Nevin was Christian and, therefore, not obligated to observe Ramadan’s rules. When she told him as much, he responded with a violent slap to her face. When she responded with shock and anger, he slapped her again—all while her scared, young son cried. She ran out “in a state of collapse, crying and incapable of absorbing the shock.” She contacted her family, and they went to the local police station to report the incident. There, Nevin received what she called her “third slap.” According to the Christian woman:

“Inside the police station, I was surprised by attempts and pressure to conciliate. The perpetrator’s lawyer steered the writing of the report [in a manner] that contradicted reality, and they forced me to sign the report which contained statements from the pharmacist’s lawyer without taking my statements. […] We were especially shocked to see the report said that ‘the pharmacist is a friend of the family, who was just bantering and joking around with Mrs. Nevin, because he is close to the family.'”

“I was so shocked,” she continued; “it was as a third slap to me—that such a radical character could emerge victorious, even as I lose my rights as an Egyptian woman!”

Turkey: In the days leading to Easter as well as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (April 24), the front gate of an Armenian Christian school in Istanbul was vandalized with a swastika. The April 14 report noted:

“The same school in Istanbul faced anti-Armenian persecution in November 2016 when graffiti was written on the walls stating ‘One night, we suddenly will be in Karabagh.’ Also in 2016, walls of Uskudar Surp Khach Seminary and Uskudar Kalfayan School were vandalized with anti-Armenian graffiti. The graffiti read ‘May the Turkish race live!’ and ‘Torment Armenians.'”

Armenian Christians and churches have faced vandalism and discrimination in Turkey annually around the time of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Recently this included the acquittal of those who danced on the gate of an Armenian church in 2021.

The Muslim Abduction of Christian Women

Burkina Faso: On April 5, masked militants abducted an 83-year-old nun living at a parish. Originally from New Orleans, Marianite Sister Suellen Tennyson had been stationed there, helping the sick and needy, since 2014. “There were about 10 men who came during the night while the sisters were sleeping,” Marianite Sister Ann Lacour, congregational leader, said. “They destroyed almost everything in the house, shot holes in the new truck and tried to burn it. The house itself is OK, but its contents are ruined.” They seized Sister Suellen from her bed in her nightclothes, with “no glasses, shoes, phone, medicine, etc.” She has not been heard from since.

Egypt: On Apr.5, a married Coptic Christian mother of three and her one-year-old daughter disappeared off the streets of Beni-Sweif, where she worked as a teacher at the American College. Mary Wahib Joseph, 36, had left home to take her toddler daughter to a nearby clinic. Her husband immediately contacted police and anyone else who could help recover her. One week later, on Apr. 12, Mary appeared in a video, wrapped in a hijab, and saying that she had willingly and without any coercion converted to Islam; that her name was now Mary Ahmed Muhammad; and that her husband, children, and parents should stop looking for her, because this is her choice. While making these claims Mary’s baby daughter can be heard crying in the background.

Responding to this video, her husband said that he knows his wife’s mannerisms and could clearly tell that she was frightened and speaking under duress. He also pointed out that, if she had really run away to convert to Islam and abandon him and their two other young children, why did she not take any of her belongings—no clothes, suitcases, etc.—with her. Instead, she was in the midst of preparing their home for Easter festivities, so “are these the actions of a woman intending to escape?” he asked. The disappearance of Christian women, who then reappear in a video dressed in a hijab and say that they had run off and freely embraced Islam, only for the truth to later emerge—that they were abducted and forced to make such videos—is common in Egypt. A virtually identical case from 2020 is documented here.

Separately, on April 11, Simone Adel Isaac, a 15-year-old Coptic Christian girl, disappeared. Her parents immediately carried out an extensive investigation and discovered that the elder brother of one of her Muslim schoolmates was behind the girl’s disappearance. The parents provided police with the man’s name, home address, and phone number, and anxiously awaited the return of their daughter. To their dismay, police did nothing. The distraught parents responded by sharing their experiences in a video. Abandoned by police, the mother, in tears, appealed to anyone and everyone, including the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and the Coptic pope, to intervene:

“Any person with a merciful heart who can return her to me, please do so, because my girl is a minor, my girl doesn’t understand anything, she was deceived by that guy, his sister, and even his mother.”

The girl’s father added, “The government knows exactly where the fellow is. They should be the ones to go and get him, not us.” Happy ending: both Mary Joseph and Simone Adel were eventually found and returned home.

Muslim Attacks on Freedom: Apostates and Evangelists

Uganda: On April 2, Muslim relatives poisoned and nearly killed a Muslim convert to Christianity. A few days earlier, on March 27, Hiire Sadiki, 56, formerly an Islamic sheikh and teacher, had put his faith in Christ after several months of debating with a Christian pastor.

On noticing that he was no longer observing Ramadan, his wife closely followed him and noticed that he was praying in the name of Christ. “She questioned me because of the mode of my praying,” Sadiki said. “I told her that I had believed in Issa [Jesus].” His wife, who “knew verses about punishment for apostasy,” left the room and made a few calls to Islamic leaders; she then returned and started to prepare dinner. “After 30 minutes,” Sadiki continued, “a lady who is a neighbor arrived and went to the kitchen, and after a short while, she left.”

After the unsuspecting former Muslim had his meal, he began to vomit and convulse violently. He phoned his pastor friend who quickly came and transported him to a local hospital. According to that pastor, “As we arrived at the hospital, his conditioned [sic] worsened. He started having diarrhea with blood, nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain.” Tests revealed that his food was laced with a poison used to kill rats and vermin. His pastor friend continued:

“He had lost some amount of blood. I then rang his wife. As I began asking about the sheikh and introducing myself, she was so annoyed and started abusing me for converting her husband. She said she did not want to be identified with him because he had become an infidel, and that she was leaving him and going back to her people, that her husband deserved death for forsaking Islam, and that she didn’t want to relate with an infidel.”

She then slammed the phone in his face. The pastor called Sadiki’s sister-in-law, who responded in a similar manner. His wife then took their three children, 6, 10, and 16, and left him.

Also in Uganda, on Easter Sunday, a Muslim man stabbed his wife upon learning that she had converted to Christianity. Two weeks earlier, Zaina Gimbo, 26, had put her faith in Christ from her hospital bed. Then, on Sunday, Apr. 17, while her husband was away on a fishing trip, she attended a local church for Easter worship: “It was a wonderful celebration,” Gimbo said. “At about 1 p.m., I went home not knowing that he had come back. I came back with a lot of joy, singing Christian songs that I had learned in the church.” On reaching her home, “immediately the door opened, and there and then my husband came out very furious.” He grabbed her and began interrogating her about her newfound faith:

“My husband beat and cut me with a long knife. I made an alarm that brought many people who came and disarmed him. I fell down bleeding seriously and lost my conscious[ness].”

Christian friends took her to a local hospital, where she was treated for deep wounds to her face, head, and back, and bruises on her hand.

Finally in Uganda, Muslims attacked, burned, and then fired the head of an Islamic private school, after learning of his recent conversion to Christianity. On April 1, Yusufu awoke at 3 am to pray in Christ’s name; unbeknownst to him, a Muslim colleague and neighbor secretly recorded the entire prayer and shared it with other school workers. On the following day, he performed the same early morning prayers, but this time, several of his Muslim colleagues had surrounded his house to eavesdrop. According to Yusufu:

“As I finished the prayers at 4:45 a.m. and began preparing to go to the mosque to pray, I heard a knock at the door. As I opened the door, there were people outside my door. They began shouting, ‘Allah akbar [the jihadist slogan, ‘Allah is the greatest’]! Allah akbar! Allah akbar! This is a kafir [infidel], this is kafir… They grabbed me and took me inside the mosque and started beating me badly and accusing me of heading a Muslim school yet I had converted to Christianity. Others shouted, ‘A liar, a liar, a liar…He deserves the death penalty.”

During his beating, two Muslim staffers “brought two old jerry cans and lit it [sic] with fire and started burning me with it. It was too painful. I fainted.” Before long, an elderly teacher intervened, saying to leave him to Allah, who “would kill him.” Some of his Christian friends found him and took him to a hospital, where he was treated for second- and third degree burns. He was then fired, and not even allowed to return to collect his belongings.

Austria: On April 12, a Muslim man chased and kicked a man who was distributing Bibles in the streets of Vienna-Meidling. The Christian tried to defend himself but was overwhelmed and fled. According to eyewitnesses:

“[The Muslim man] was angry about the Bible distributor’s sweater, which said ‘Christ is God’ in Arabic script. Obviously, this provoked the rabid man in such a way that he completely lost his composure and literally chased him. And that’s exactly what outraged a colleague of the victim: in his opinion, the attack had a radically religious background.”

Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.