Raymond Ibrahim’s Report on Muslim Persecution of Christians

And it makes not for pleasant reading:

The Nigerian church bombings, wherein the Islamic group Boko Haram killed over 40 people celebrating Christmas mass, is just the most obvious example of anti-Christian sentiment in December. Elsewhere around the Muslim world, Christmas time for Christians is a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear, which is not surprising, considering Muslim clerics maintain that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication or killing someone.” A few examples:

  • Egypt: The Coptic Church is being threatened with a repeat of “Nag Hammadi,” the area where drive-by Muslims shot to death six Christians as they exited church after celebrating Christmas mass in 2010. Due to fears of a repeat, the diocese has “cancel[ed] all festivities for New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.”
  • Indonesia: In a “brutal act” that has “strongly affected the Catholic community,” days before Christmas, “vandals decapitated the statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto … a cross was stolen and the aspersorium was badly damaged.”
  • Iran: There were reports of a sharp increase of activities against Christians prior to Christmas by the State Security centers of the Islamic Republic. Local churches were “ordered to cancel Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as a show of their compliance and support” for “the two month-long mourning activities of the Shia’ Moslems.”
  • Malaysia: Parish priests and church youth leaders had to get “caroling” permits—requiring them to submit their full names and identity card numbers at police stations—simply to “visit their fellow church members and belt out ‘Joy to the World,’ [or] ‘Silent Night, Holy Night.'”
  • Pakistan: “Intelligence reports warned of threats of terrorist attacks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” adding that most church security is “inadequate.” Christians also lamented that “extreme power outages have become routine during Christmas and Easter seasons.”

Meanwhile, if Christians under Islam are forced to live like dhimmis—non-Muslims under Muslim authority, treated as second-class citizens—in the West, voluntarily playing the dhimmi to appease Muslims during Christmas time is commonplace: the University of London held Christmas service featuring readings from the Quran (which condemns the incarnation, that is, Christmas); and “a posh Montreal suburb has decided to remove a nativity scene and menorah from town hall rather than acquiesce to demands from a Muslim group to erect Islamic religious symbols.”

Categorized by theme, the rest of December’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in country alphabetical order, not necessarily by severity…

Continue reading  here.

Thanks to Sandra McColl for pointing it out via e-mail.


Bible Archaeology

Western Wall Plaza Excavation Results

Writes Todd Bolen over at the Bible Places Blog:

Over the yearsI’ve mentionedthe excavation at the “back” of the Western Wall prayer plaza. The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review has a report by the excavators on their discoveries at the site from 2005 to 2010. Since I expect some curious student to ask me in a couple of days about the big hole in the ground, the article arrived at a good time for me. I made a few notes as I read the article that I thought I’d share here.

The earliest remains at this spot indicate that it was used as an Iron Age quarry.

Later in the Iron Age, a four-room house was constructed here. This was a Jerusalemite’s home sometime after Hezekiah fortified the Western Hill with a new wall (part of which is known today as the “Broad Wall.”) The house may have been destroyed by the Babylonian assault in 586, but this is not certain. Several personal seals were found in the building, including one depicting an Assyrian-style archer.

Curiously, there is no evidence of occupation at the site in the Babylonian, Persian, or Hasmonean periods (586-50 BC).

In the New Testament period, the Lower Aqueduct ran through this area, bringing water from “Solomon’s Pools” to the Temple Mount. The only other discovery from the 1st century was a ritual bath (mikveh).

The most impressive remains at the site are that of a monumental street. This cardo is similar in size and design to its counterpart to the west, located today in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, but the archaeologists say that the eastern cardo was constructed in the Roman period by Hadrian (whereas the southern extension of the western was built by Justinian c. 530).

All the details are presented in a much more interesting style in the January/February 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. The article, with all of its illustrations, is currently available online, no subscription required.


Facebook, Google, Apple Censor Religious Speech

So says a National Religious Broadcasters’ report:

Major internet media platforms and service providers have policies that hinder Christian evangelization and censor speech on controversial issues of the day like abortion and marriage, a new report says.

“Christian ideas and other religious content face a clear and present danger of censorship on web-based communication platforms,” said the National Religious Broadcasters’ report “True Liberty in a New Media Age.”

If Christian content is “censored” by new media platforms like the iTunes App Store, Facebook, Google, or internet service providers, “the Good News of the Gospel could become one more casualty of institutionalized religious discrimination,” the broadcaster organization’s president Frank Wright said in the report’s foreword.

The National Religious Broadcasters was founded in 1944 to oppose government regulations and policy decisions by major broadcast networks which impeded the ability of evangelical ministers to buy radio airtime.

Some new media companies have banned Christian content, while others have public positions that make censorship “all but inevitable.”

Except for the microblogging service Twitter, all the new media platforms and services examined have policies “clearly inconsistent with the free speech values of the U.S. Constitution,” the report said…

The report also cited Facebook and other outlets for a policy that bars ads for “politically religious agendas.”

Meanwhile, Facebook has partnered with gay rights advocates to halt “anti-homosexual” content and it is participating in gay-awareness programs. This suggests that Christian content critical of homosexuality, “gay marriage” or other practices will be at risk of censorship.

Apple, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon all prohibit “hate speech,” which the National Religious Broadcasters report called a “dangerously undefined and political correct term” that is often applied to “stifle” Christian communicators…

Read the whole piece here.



World Muslim Population Doubling

Report projects. CNN has more:

Twenty years ago, the world had about 1.1 billion Muslims. Twenty years from now, it will have about twice as many – and they’ll represent more than a quarter of all people on earth, according to a new study released Thursday.

That’s a rise from less than 20 percent in 1990.

Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as home of the largest number of Muslims, as its population pushes over 256 million, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life projects.

The number of Muslims in the United States will more than double, to 6.2 million, it anticipates…

Israel will become nearly a quarter Muslim. The Palestinian territories have one of the highest growth rates in the world

And two western European countries – France and Belgium – will become more than 10 percent Muslim

The Muslim share of the global population will rise primarily because of their relatively high birth rate, the large number of Muslims of childbearing age, and an increase in life expectancy in Muslim-majority countries, according to the report, “The Future of the Global Muslim Population.”

Conversion will play relatively little part in the increase, the report anticipates. It says little data is available on conversion, but what little there is suggests Islam loses as many adherents via conversion as it gains.

While the Muslim population is set to grow at a faster rate than that of the world as a whole, the rate of Muslim growth is slowing, Pew says.

Growing but slowing” is the key phrase…

Despite the rapid growth of Islam, Christianity seems set to remain the biggest religion in the world for the next 20 years. There are currently more than 2 billion Christians – 30 to 35 percent of the global population – making it very unlikely that there will be fewer than 2.2 billion Christians in 2030.

“There is nothing in these numbers to indicate that in 2030 there would be more Muslims that Christians,”…

In fact, both Christianity and Islam could be growing, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the whole…

Read the whole thing here.