HUNTING FOR CHRISTIANS
The year 2019 has been the most violent so far. Intensity of events, their scale and impunity of culprits raise justified anxiety. It began in January with attacks of Islamists on catholic missions in the diocese Bangassou in the Republic of Central Africa. A dozen people were killed and about 20 thousand Christians preferred to escape from the country than be killed. At the end of the month 20 people were killed in the attack on the cathedral in Jolo on the Philippines and about 90 people were injured. This March there was a massacre in 3 Nigerian villages – Muslim neighbours murdered 130 Christians with firearms and machetes. In the same month in the Indian state of Tamilnad the Hindu robbed a Catholic school and nuns working there. At the turn of March and April, as a result of the Jihads’ attack, over 60 Christians were killed in the northern part of Burkin Faso. In Israel, this July, the so-called unknown culprits destroyed cars belonging to Christians and were writing slogans in Hebrew insulting them. The number of murdered priests in Mexico is growing. The director of the Catholic Multimedia Centre there, Fr. Omar Aguilar says that ‘murders of priests have already been happening in whole Mexico and are completely unpunished’. What is the most terrifying is a series of assassinations in Sri Lanca at Easter. Armed bandits were shooting at people gathered in churches like at ducks – 300 Christians were killed and over 500 of them were injured.
Power of testimony
All these events have a human face. All the information hides a tragedy of a particular man. An unimaginable tragedy for us, the Europeans, Poles. Life stories of these people who make a decision about devoting their life for Jesus, are making a striking impression. Like the fate of Saima Sardar - a beautiful woman from Fajsalabada in Pakistan, who was murdered by a Muslim when she refused to marry him and convert into Islam. Another shocking example from nearly a few months is the fate of Suzan Der Kirkour, a 60-year-old Armenian woman who lived in a small Syrian village where she grew vines and taught children in the local church for free. The elderly woman, liked by everybody, was mugged by the Islamists. They were torturing and raping her for many hours. Despite that she did not renounce Christ and was stoned to death. The whole world was speaking about the abduction of 100 girls from a school in Dapchi in February 2018 in Nigeria by Islamic extremists from Boko Haram known by their atrocity. After a month the girls were freed – except for one. Leah did not agree to get converted to Islam, so she became a life slave and at any moment she may be sentenced to execution. The earlier ones – including a pregnant midwife, a Christian woman – Boko Haram was broadcasting on internet. Bandits from this organization are specialized in murdering Christians – for the last 10 years about 30 thousand people have lost their lives.
Ahmed from Iraq admitted to his colleague at work that he was a Christian. A few days later he was arrested by the security services. For two days he was tortured, starved and threatened with killing his whole family. The reason was his religion. Luckily, his friends managed to arrange the man’s release. Ahmed left his homeland and lives with his family in Europe now.
And, finally, a symbol of persecutions from the recent years – Asia Bibi. A Christian woman from a small village in Pakistan, who - although it sounds incredible – dared to drink water from a well on a field. Some of her Muslim friends said that the water became ‘unclean’ because of it. Asia would have to convert in Islam so that the village could use the water. The woman definitely refused and said words which changed the course of her life: ‘Jesus Christ died for my sins and the sins of the world. Whereas what did Mahomet do for people?’. First, she was beaten to unconsciousness and later arrested and brought to the court which sentenced her to death penalty through hanging for insulting Mahomet. Her fate moved the international society so much that it was possible to acquit her after many years. However, Asia did not return to normal life – she has been hiding since her being released from imprisonment and nothing is known about her fate.
Get prepared for worse times
In the opinion of specialists, hatred towards the ‘people of the cross’ definitely has a growing tendency and countries considered as dangerous will become an arena of demonstrated attacks on the Christians. The situation is so serious that countries, not so interested in the issue of religious persecutions – like Great Britain, German or the United States decided to deal with it.
According to the data of the Papal Association Help to Church in Need, whose report we are analyzing in this issue, the number of places is growing, where the very confessing to faith in Jesus may cause the loss of work, confiscation of possessions, intimidation, assault and even tortures or death. Thomas Heine-Geldern, a chairperson of this organization says bitterly: - Persecutions of Christians do not know any limits. We do not know a day or an hour. This fear paralyses everyone particularly during Christian holidays. Oppressors do not have mercy for innocent people, often making them scapegoats in the world of ongoing conflicts.
There will always be a reason
Thomas Heine-Geldern thinks that there are three reasons for persecutions of Christians: Islamic extremism, nationalism and authoritative ideologies. And if these phenomena are getting stronger one should expect that there will be more and more places unfavourable to Christians or hostile to them. This thesis is proven by the worrying situation in Africa, Southern America, Japan, not mentioning Near East.
What can be done? The Association Help to Church in Need sees one way, maybe not the perfect one, but the only one for Christians to accept – governments of particular countries, also the UNO have a duty to ‘build peace, guarantee religious freedom and defend from attacks aimed at religion’, as we read in a report. ‘We must not tolerate or keep silent about aggression towards Christians and also say that religious freedom is the fundamental right of every man’ – we read in the report.
What will happen when the international society will still think that there is no problem or ‘it is happening somewhere far, so it does not concern us’?
Christianity in retreat
How much time is needed so that in Near East there would not be a single Christian? The answer is simple – not much. In very Palestine our brothers in faith hardly make 1.5 percent of population. In Iraq during the last 15 years the number of Christians has dropped from 1.5 million to 120 thousand. What happened to those people? At the international forum it is said that intensity, universality and character of persecutions of Christians in Near East have taken on the character of genocide.
The Association Help to Church in Need and also other organizations dealing with this issue say agreeably that beside the great prayer in the intention of our brothers who are suffering from their faith, particular actions are necessary. Some hope is given by the recent resolution of the UNO which includes a range of real help to the persecuted for faith.