Friends, for most of us this holiday season has been a time of refreshment and renewal. We were able to spend the time with friends and family or at least enjoy a brief rest from our daily responsibilities. Praise God that we were able to celebrate the birth of Christ freely and in peace. During these holiday weeks many Christians around the world experienced intensified persecution. Muslim extremists violently attacked otherwise peaceful Christmas Eve and New Year’s celebrations.
At Christmas time several nations saw the horror of terrorist bombings. In Nigeria a Christmas Eve bomb killed at least 32 Christians, and left another 70+ wounded. Local Muslims also attacked three other churches, burning one to the ground and leaving six Christians dead. The current death toll has risen to at least 86 in and around Jos, Nigeria. Another bomb set by Muslim separatists in a southern province of the Philippines was less deadly, wounding 11 and killing no one. But Pakistan saw its first female suicide bomber kill 47 refugees and leave another 100 people in the hospital. Christmas was a dangerous day to be a Christian.
The violence continued throughout the Christmas Week. In Iraq attacks specifically targeted at Christians destroyed ten homes, leaving at least a dozen injured and two Christians dead. Another blast in Nigeria took eight more souls. The Muslim government of Iran arrested at least 25 Christian men and women for ‘apostasy,’ and the Taliban in Afghanistan mounted fierce attacks throughout the holidays.
Finally on New Year’s Eve just past midnight, a bomb attack in Egypt killed 21 Christians and injured approximately 100 more as they left the Church of Two Saints in Alexandria. The Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January and they are still threatened as they go forward in their worship.
These events should cause us great concern, and make us realize the perilous times that we live in. Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic-based organization on religious freedom estimates that “somewhere between 75 percent and 85 percent of all acts of religious persecution are directed against Christians.”
Much of this persecution comes from Muslim extremists, especially in the Middle East and Africa. Our friend, Member of the British House of Lords David Alton, has written an article on how radical Muslims appear to be shifting gears. Rather than merely inspiring terror they are moving to a strategy of outright genocide toward Christian communities who have lived in these nations since the Apostolic Era.
Unfortunately, as Lord Alton points out, the international community is refusing to acknowledge it. Even a press statement from the White House portrays both Christians and Muslims as victims of the attack. However, the Obama Administration does at least acknowledge that it was Christians who were being targeted. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, and bring attention to this violent strategy.
In response to these brutal attacks, Italy has proposed cutting off any EU aid to countries which fail to protect their Christians minorities. The United States should use our economic weight to encourage these nations to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this violence. We at Jubilee Campaign are doing our part to fight this strategy of death, and we hope you will stand with us throughout the coming year.
in HIS grace,