There is a trend for the Western media to increasingly support the Muslim cause in Africa and the Middle East. I have already commented on what is going on in Syria. Syria is a secular country with freedom of religion. It may be autocratic and no doubt it has come down hard against what it perceives as sedition, but we have to remember that in Western countries civilization was not built in a day. What is masquerading as a civil rights movement in Syria is in fact an extreme radical Muslim movement that intends to impose Sharia law and ban Christian churches.
There was enormous support for the democratically elected Muslim in the Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara and correct criticism of his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, who tried to hold on to power. However, we have heard nothing of the atrocities committed by Ouattara's supporters since they gained power. Here is an example: Two peasant brothers were brutally crucified after “the example of Christ” on 29 May by forces loyal to the new Muslim president. Raphael Aka Kouame died of his injuries; incredibly his younger brother, Kouassi Privat Kacou, survived the ordeal. The pair were badly beaten and tortured before being crudely nailed to cross-shaped planks by their hands and feet with steel spikes.
The brothers were falsely accused of hiding weapons in their home village of Binkro. The brothers repeatedly denied any involvement, but their pleas were ignored. After crucifying them, Ouattara’s men took them on an extensive search of Binkro, but they found only a store of medical equipment and supplies. The seriously wounded pair were then taken to prison in Oumé, where Raphael died that night.
This contrasts strongly with what is happening in next-door Nigeria where in the fairest election for generations, the Christian, Goodluck Jonathon won the election.
Christians and churches in Northern Nigeria have come under sustained attack since the re-election of the president in April, from supporters of the defeated Muslim candidate. Around 200 churches have been burned or destroyed and over 1,200 houses razed, and at least 800 people are estimated to have been killed.
A Nigerian missionary pastor in Bauchi State has been tortured and murdered by a group of Muslims after refusing to renounce his faith in Christ. The pastor was travelling in a van when it was pulled over by Muslims posing as police. They asked if anyone in the vehicle was a Christian, and the pastor said that he was. The men pulled him out of the van and told him repeatedly to renounce Christ. When he refused, they first beat him, then gouged out his eyes, and finally killed him and burned his body. He has left a widow and eight children.
Also an entire Christian village in Kaduna State has been burned to ashes by a mob of Muslim militants and its water supply contaminated. On 18 April the village of Ung. Kerau was attacked by more than 300 men armed with various weapons. The Christian villagers fled, and the mob torched the village. A local church leader said that the mob threw pepper, clothes, firewood and rubbish into the village’s two wells. He added that the villagers “were attacked simply because they are Christians”.
Elsewhere, the so-called Arab-Spring has not brought about the movement towards democracy that the West was hoping for. Some Christians in Tunisia who have tried to share their faith after the uprising earlier this year have been forced to flee the country or move to a safer location after receiving threats from Islamists. There are also signs that the influence of radical Islam is increasing across the country, raising fears that it is hijacking the revolution. Ennahda, Tunisia’s largest Islamist party, looks set to become the largest group in the new constitutional assembly following elections to be held on 23 July.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the leading Islamic party in Egypt, has formed a political alliance with Jama’a al-Islamiyya, a radical group that was behind a number of terrorist attacks in the 1990s (though it has recently renounced violence). The two groups announced that they will form a coalition to contest September’s parliamentary elections, in order to combat secular forces in the country.
Jama'a al-Islamiyya spokesman Osama Hafez underlined the parties’ commitment to upholding the place of Islam in Egyptian society: “Allah’s words must rule and Islam must be in the hearts of the citizens.”
Another political party has been formed by Salafist groups. Salafism is an ultra-conservative, strict and puritanical version of Islam related to Wahhabism, the official state creed of Saudi Arabia. The party says that if they gain power, Christians will be given “the right to refer to their religion”, but “the higher reference will be for Islamic sharia”.
There are real concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood might become the ruling party in Egypt, which would make life very difficult for the churches. A Jama'a al-Islamiyya leader recently called on Christians to secure their own safety by submitting to the god of Islam (by becoming Muslims). And Salafists were behind assaults on two churches and homes in Imbaba district, Cairo, in May in which 12 people were killed and scores injured. This is only one of a barrage of attacks that Christians have suffered since the revolution. Their position is precarious.
The changes that we are watching in Africa and the Middle East are largely paid for by Western aid. So far the ousting of the Libyan president has cost the UK economy £260 million. It is time for the citizens of the West, especially the Christian citizens, to bring pressure on our governments to make recipients of our largesse more accountable for the aid.
I see that in Pakistan an important Islamic political party has called for the Supreme Court to ban the Bible. A leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, made the appeal at a press conference at a mosque in Lahore on 30 May. Farooqi described the Bible as “pornographic”. He claimed that “blasphemous” portions had been added, which charged some prophets with “a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures”. Farooqi said such “insertions” strongly offended Muslims, who hold all prophets and holy books in high esteem. He said that if the Supreme Court did not respond by banning the Bible, Islamic clerics would formally petition the court, and added that the move was an act of revenge against the desecration of the Quran by that idiot Terry Jones in Florida.
Imagine if the UK or USA decided to ban the Quran? Can you inmagine the outcry?