Bloodshed in the headlines: What is the current world situation with religious persecution?


What is the current world situation with religious persecution?


The slaughter of 50 Muslims and wounding of dozens more at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, provoked horror in that pacific nation, and sorrow and disgust worldwide. Why would anyone violate the religious freedom, indeed the very lives, of innocent people who had simply gathered to worship God?

Unfortunately, murders at religious sanctuaries are not a rare occurrence. In the U.S., recall the murders of six Sikh worshipers at Oak Creek, Wisconsin (2012); nine African Methodists at a prayer meeting in Charleston, S.C. (2015); 26 Southern Baptists in a Sunday morning church rampage at Sutherland Springs, Texas (2017); and 11 Jews observing the Sabbath at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last October.

The Christchurch atrocity was unusual in that authorities identified a white nationalist as the assailant. Most mosque attacks are not carried out by a demented individual, but by radical Muslim movements that intend to kill fellow Muslims for sectarian political purposes. The most shocking example occurred in 1979. A well-armed force of messianic extremists assaulted the faith’s holiest site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, during the annual pilgrimage (Hajj). The reported death toll was 117 attackers and 127 pilgrims and security guards, with 451 others wounded.

After Christchurch, The Associated Press culled its archives to list 879 deaths in mass murders at mosques during the past decade. (Data are lacking on sectarian attacks upon individual Muslims, also a serious problem for the faith). Such incidents get scant coverage in U.S. news media.

2010: Extremist Sunnis in the Jundallah sect bomb to death six people and themselves at a mosque in southeastern Iran. Then a second Jundallah suicide bombing at an Iranian Shiite mosque kills 27 and injures 270.

2015: A Jundullah suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Pakistan slays 71. Suicide bombers from Islamic State kill 137 at two mosques in Yemen. Another Yemen mosque suicide bombing kills 25 during prayers on the holy festival of Eid al-Adha.

2016: An Islamic State suicide bomber murders 50 at Pakistan’s shrine honoring the Sufi mystic Shah Noorani.

2017: A suicide bombing in Pakistan at the Sufi shrine commemorating Lal Shahbaz Qalandar kills 98. A suicide bomber murders four at a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan. At another Afghani Shiite mosque, a suicide bomber slays 90 and wounds hundreds during prayers. At a third Shiite mosque, a team of militants kills 28 worshipers and wounds 50. At a fourth, five are killed as they leave worship. In Egypt’s deadliest mosque attack in modern times, militants murder 311 Sinai worshipers.

2018: Suicide bombers disguised in burqa robes attack a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan, killing 27.

Muslim factions also oppress Jews, Baha’is, Yazidis and Ahmaddiyas. Buddhists oppress Muslims in Myanmar and Hindus in Sri Lanka. Hindus oppress Muslims in India. Jehovah’s Witnesses are oppressed in Orthodox Russia. Communists oppress everyone.

Not long ago, Northern Ireland provided a rare modern crisis of Christian-on-Christian bloodshed. But far more typically, Christians are victimized by non-Christians, especially in lands with Muslim majorities or ruled by atheistic Communism and believers can be victimized with impunity.

The persecution of Christians is now “the highest in modern history,” according to Open Doors, an organization that smuggles Bibles, literature, food and other necessities to fellow believers in dire situations. In just the past few weeks, media reports said six Christians in the Republic of Congo were killed by radical Muslims from Uganda while 470 believers fled for their lives. And rampaging Fulani militants in Nigeria killed 140 Christians and destroyed 160 homes. In the longstanding Nigeria conflict, Christians have often resorted to violence themselves, typically as a defensive measure.

Continue reading "What is the current world situation with religious persecution?", by Richard Ostling.

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