In July, as the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) drove out more than 100,000 Christians in the area of Mosul in just a few days, many became newly aware of Islamic extremism at its worst. In Part I, we shared about Islamic extremist groups in the Middle East. Christians also face extraordinary dangers in both Africa and the Philippines.
Christians working in more than fourteen countries have indicated an increase in terrorist organizations that specifically target Christian populations. In Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, groups like al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Shariah are known for their violence. In Libya’s capital, Benghazi, Ansar al-Shariah reportedly offered a reward for any Christians who were turned in to them. Seven Coptic Christians living in one suburb of the city were abducted in February 2014 and found executed by their abductors the following morning. Christians throughout the region often face harassment and are threatened for their Christian faith.
Christians living in Egypt face similar threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. In August 2013, forty churches were attacked and set on fire, and at least 250 people were killed in the violence. Christians have had homes and shops looted and burned down.
Christian families must be especially protective of their daughters and wives. Teenage girls and young women are frequently kidnapped, married and forcibly converted to Islam. While this has been happening for decades, the number of kidnap victims spiked dramatically in 2014. VOM sources estimate that between 20 and 30 Coptic Christian girls were kidnapped each month. Often, videos of the girls stating that they converted willingly are sent to families. Recently, a woman, whose family was told by government officials she had left willingly, escaped. She publically denounced Egyptian government officials for their collusion with the radicals.
In Sudan, the government led by Omar al-Bashir is as dangerous as a terrorist group for believers there. In their quest to drive blacks and Christians from Sudan, the government continues to bomb schools, churches and homes in the Nuba Mountain region.
Like Sudan, Somalia is a majority-Muslim country. There, al-Shabab militants seek to ensure that any Christian is either converted to Islam or killed. The Islamic militants even go so far as to attack Christians in eastern Kenya as well as those living along the coast. Al-Shabab have tried to create an area governed by Sharia law in east Kenya, and they have burned churches, and killed many pastors and Christians.
Like their counterparts in Kenya, the Boko Haram militants in Nigeria desire an autonomous state ruled by Sharia. In the past three years, they have set fire to hundreds of churches along with the homes of Christians living in the northern Nigeria. After IS declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram announced their own caliphate in Nigeria. They have overrun many villages in the northern portion of the country, slaughtered Christians, set fire to churches and homes, and abducted females. In the October newsletter, you can read how Habila Adamu of Nigeria chose to stand up for his faith even while an AK-47 was pressed into his cheek.
Rebels in Nigeria and Kenya have declared themselves rulers of territory, but in the Philippines, insurgent groups like the Abu Sayyaf, Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front have fought with the Philippine government forces for decades, taking over villages, including stealing their livestock and harvests, and often kidnapping civilians or using them has human shields as they engage in gun battles with the Philippine army in Mindanao. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is now poised to receive control of a five-province area called Bangsamoro. It’s the first time that VOM workers are aware of where a democratically-run government is brokering a peace deal with insurgents – and awarding them with territory. Though the insurgents have agreed to disarm, Christians in the region face even further abuses in a Muslim-ruled area where many want to eradicate all Christian influence.
Christians around the world face an increasingly hostile world. However, the faith our brothers and sisters demonstrate shows us that we can remain faithful to Christ even in trying circumstances.
This report was originally published on www.Persecution.com.