While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by extremists is growing. The report posits that such persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.

The following are among the abuses and murders inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of January 2024.

The Slaughter of Christians

Nigeria: A few January headlines from the ongoing jihadist-genocide of Christians in the African nation follow:

  • Jan. 8: "Terrorists Slaughter 41 Christians in Kaduna State, Nigeria"
  • Jan. 24: "At Least 31 Christians Slaughtered in Central Nigeria"
  • Jan. 11: "Islamic Extremists Kill 15 Christians in Northeast Nigeria"
  • Jan. 5: "Boko Haram Terrorists Attack Yobe Community, Kill Pastor, 13 Others; Burn Church, Houses, Cars"
  • Jan. 16: "Terrorists Kill 10 Christians in Central Nigeria"
  • Jan. 25: "Terrorists Kill Five Christians in Central Nigeria"
  • Jan. 18: "Pastor, Three Other Christians Kidnapped in Central Nigeria"
  • Jan. 9: "Christians Remain Captive in Nigeria Despite Ransom Payment"

Turkey: On Sunday, Jan. 28, two masked gunmen entered the Church of Santa Maria in Istanbul and opened fire — turning an otherwise peaceful Catholic mass into a scene of horror. One man was killed and another wounded. Surveillance footage showed the rest of the 40 or so congregants fleeing in a panic. The two killers, citizens of Tajikistan and Russia — both Muslims — were tracked down and arrested.

Later that evening, Islamic State claimed the attack. It was in response, they said, to its leader's call to kill Jews and Christians everywhere, and jihadists had "attacked a gathering of Christian unbelievers during their polytheistic ceremony." Other attacks in Turkey claimed by Islamic State include a shooting at an Istanbul nightclub in 2017 that killed 39 people and a 2015 bombing attack in Ankara that killed 109. Regarding the one fatality at this January church shooting, one report stated:

"The uncle of the dead man told local media the victim was 52 years old and about to become a Christian, but was not baptised yet. Another relative said he was mentally ill, and insisted that he was not the target of the attack."

Sudan: Militants of the Rapid Support Forces have been attacking and killing Christians. On Jan. 1, they severely beat a Christian man, who later died of his injuries. On Jan. 20, they shot dead another Christian man after breaking into his home, a witness said. On Jan. 22 they beat another Christian man unconscious.

report adds:

"Rights organizations and area residents report the RSF has killed civilians, raped women and girls and looted homes and shops since taking control of the state in December."

"There are radical Muslims among RSF," a pastor confirmed the allegation. "I met some of them in Khartoum and Medani who badly harassed me when they learned that I was a pastor."

Pakistan: Rape, Murder, Forced Conversion, and General Abuse of Christians

A Muslim man tried to rape a pregnant Christian woman, causing her to lose her unborn baby. According to the Jan. 16 report, Rakhil, 25, was eight months pregnant when her Muslim co-worker invaded her home (adjoining the kiln where they worked). There he savagely beat and tried to rape her in front of her three small children. According to her husband, Nadeem:

"Rakhil begged and pleaded Chand to leave her repeatedly telling him to spare her and her unborn child, but he would not listen... I was working at the kiln when I heard the screams of my wife and children. I ran towards my quarters, where I saw Chand punching and kicking Rakhil, who was lying on the floor profusely bleeding."

He tried to seize the would-be rapist, but he escaped:

"My immediate concern was for Rakhil, who was in a very bad condition. I took her to a nearby government hospital with help from some co-workers, where we were told that the baby died from the torturous attack."

The report adds:

"Doctors performed an emergency Cesarean section (C-section) on Rakhil to remove the baby's body, Nadeem said, in tears adding that it was then that he realized they would have been blessed with a second son."

When Nadeem went to file a report, police asked for a medical certificate from the hospital, "however, when we submitted the certificate, the police refused to register a case, saying that the certificate had not been signed by the concerned doctor." When Nadeem went back to the hospital, the doctor still refused to sign the document:

"I later came to know that both the police and the doctor have been influenced by the Muslim owner of the brick kiln, Chaudhry Abdul Rehman. The accused, Chand, is a henchman of Rehman, and it is because of his influence that police are reluctant to file a case against Chand and arrest him.... The kiln owner is also pressuring me to reconcile with Chand and also offered me money, but I've resolved not to give up till I get justice for my wife and our murdered unborn child."

Human rights activist Napolean Qayyum said:

"The poor couple's unborn child was murdered. The medical report certifies that the woman was brutally tortured, which caused the baby's death, yet the police are still refusing to register an FIR [First Information Report]."

Qayyum added that he had filed a complaint with the office of the Punjab Inspector General of Police, "but there has been no progress on it."

Earlier, on Christmas Eve, Aqsa Riaz, a 17-year-old epileptic Christian girl, disappeared from her home. She had been taking care of her sick mother, Asiya Bibi, while her father and other siblings went to church for Midnight Mass. Around 11:30 pm, Bibi realized her daughter was nowhere to be found and ran outside in search of her:

"I hastily emerged from my bed, scanning both our bathroom and living room [Bibi recounted]. My heart seemed to tighten in my chest. Frantically, I rushed into the streets, fervently searching for her in the nearby vicinity. Tears streamed down my face as I called out her name loudly, but she was nowhere to be found."

When the family returned from church, they too scoured the region in search of the missing girl. They also went to report the disappearance to police; but because the parents did not readily have Aqsa's birth certificate for age verification, the police refused help. Rather, with "sheer nonchalance and unprofessionalism," they instructed her father to search on his own. "People were celebrating Christmas," the father recalled, "but there was a sad atmosphere in our home. We spent the whole day tirelessly searching for our daughter." A full day later, after the family was able to provide police with the girl's birth certificate, they acted. "Despite this," notes the report, "the police's delayed response likely contributed to the tragic outcome." The father continued:

"For an entire week, we tirelessly endeavored to find Aqsa. I did everything within my means. I created missing posters for my daughter and distributed them at prominent bus stops. I even dispatched some of my relatives to Lahore."

On Dec. 31, Aqsa's lifeless body was found in a nearby field. Overwhelmed with grief, her father described the experience:

"I couldn't fathom that my little princess lay in such a dreadful condition. The bottom half of her body was submerged in the irrigation water in the farm, while the rest of her body lay along the bypath.... I cried out in anguish. We promptly took her home and notified the police."

Although a postmortem was conducted, "the cause of her death remains uncertain," says the report. This tragedy is not new to Pakistan. As documented here, many Christian girls and boys have been abducted in a similar manner and later found raped and murdered.

In another incident, on Jan. 27, a Muslim man attacked two Christian women with an axe and tried to rape one them when they went to his field to relieve themselves (an otherwise normal activity for the region that would certainly not have warranted such an extreme response had the women been Muslim). When one of the women, Rukhsana, tried to resist Abdul Rauf's rape attempt, he repeatedly beat her with the handle of his axe. When Rukhsana's husband later went to police to file a complaint, the police acted only three days later after a Christian politician pressured them. Even so, they registered the assault under lesser charges that make bail available. Discussing this case, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a local Christian political leader and attorney, said:

"This criminal action should have invoked sections 377 [attempt to rape] and 511 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which are non-bailable. The accused has also influenced the medico-legal reports, which downplayed the injuries of the two women...."

After more pressure, police agreed to include the more serious charges. Even so, Katherine Sapna, an activist involved in the case, said, "He has so far managed to avoid arrest, but we hope that after the SP's intervention, the local police will now stop aiding the accused and ensure justice and protection to the Christian family."

On Jan 28, Muslims abducted two Christian brothers, Azam and Nadeem, took them to a Muslim home, and beat and tortured them until the brothers agreed to convert to Islam. A well-known sheikh presided over the ceremony. According to Adil Ghauri, chairman of the Movement for Christian Awakening,

"The assailants accused Azam of patronizing 'wrongdoings' in the area and started beating him with iron rods.... The accused then forced the two Christians to recite the Kalima [proclamation of Islamic conversion] if they wanted to save their lives, threatening to kill them if they refused. The tortured brothers had no choice but to surrender to this demand."

The Muslims also recorded a video statement of the brothers, making them to say that they converted to Islam of their own "free will." Before releasing them, the Muslims plundered and warned the new "converts" not to go to police. Adil continues:

"After much persuasion we were able to convince the family to file a First Information Report [FIR] with the police, as keeping silent would have only encouraged the perpetrators to target more Christians living in the village.... This is not the first time Christians have been targeted in that area.... Not only our minor girls, but even our young men are being targeted by Islamist elements. These incidents vindicate our genuine demand for criminalizing forced faith conversions in Pakistan."

Similarly, according to a separate Jan. 6 report:

"A pastor was abducted at gunpoint... The kidnappers placed him on a motorbike and then took him to an undisclosed location. Under duress, he was forced to make a confession in a worship WhatsApp Group, where he falsely implicated himself in an affair. This information has since been verified as false. After receiving a ransom, the perpetrators released the pastor; however, they did not return his mobile phone and motorbike."

After the torture, Pastor Amir said:

"One of the four kidnappers brought a woman to where I was captive, who appeared to be their accomplice. Meanwhile, another assailant aimed a gun at me, instructing me to falsely confess that they hadn't assaulted me and that I had willingly gone to meet the woman. I had no option but to incriminate myself under real fear for my life."

Edward Masih, a field officer for the British Asian Christian Association, said:

"This reprehensible act is nothing short of a heinous assault, where the perpetrators have sought to degrade a Pastor in their bid to evade accountability. With law enforcement lacking any leads on the abductors, a sense of fear looms over many within the Christian community, as they worry they could be targeted next."

Although she was acquitted, a false accusation of blasphemy continues to haunt Musarrat Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian widow, as she explained in an interview on Jan. 12:

"[I continue receiving] threats from unknown persons that, even though the court had freed me from jail, I was still guilty of committing blasphemy and they will not spare my life. I had no other option but to flee the village with my daughter. It's been nearly seven months now that we are on the run, constantly changing our locations to avoid being traced."

According to another report from Jan. 12,

"Christians in Pakistan are often relegated to the most undesirable jobs, where they a[r]e regularly degraded and abused.

"The Christian workers have limited recourse against the government's continuous discrimination against them. As workers in these fields are considered the lowest class of citizen, they have little hope of reaching anything higher in society.

"After the mob violence in Jaranwala last summer [when thousands of Muslims rioted, burned dozens of churches, and displaced thousands of Christians over a false blasphemy accusation], the plight of Christians in waste management jobs got more difficult, as they faced even worse persecution. During the last two or three months of the year, their paychecks were withheld through the Christmas season. This is not the first time they have experienced this kind of mistreatment and delay around the holidays, but this year the delays were longer than normal, causing many families to take out loans to pay their bills.

"Human rights activists in the country have gotten involved, without much success."

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Nigeria: According to a Jan. 30 report, "Recent Muslim extremist attacks in an area of central Nigeria resulted in dozens of deaths and the closure of 10 Baptist churches, including one now used as a mosque." Discussing the carnage and chaos that occurred, one Christian leader said:

"The sad thing is that, we didn't have a place to bury the corpses of our church members killed in the Kantoma attack, and so corpses were dumped in a mining pit."

Sudan: On Jan. 12, a Presbyterian church that hosts some 1,500 worshippers, including many Christian refugees who fled civil war in Khartoum, was, for the second time in two weeks, set on fire by armed men. Bibles, hymnbooks, important documents, and chairs were consumed in the blaze. In response, the Evangelical Presbyterian Synod of Sudan issued a statement:

"We, the Presbyterian Evangelical Synod of Sudan, condemn this crime targeting Christians and denounce the burning and desecration of places of worship. We express our deep rejection and concern about the repeated incidents of contempt for Christianity in Sudan and the spread of the phenomenon of hate speech..."

The synod expressed further concerns:

"Islamic extremists or extremists within the Rapid Support Forces may be behind the incident.... These incidents create additional tension for the Christians in this area and bring back painful memories of the persecution they have faced for 30 years under former President Omar Al-Bashir. The continuing violence has increased the forced displacement of Christians and caused their isolation in remote areas controlled by those who are known for their violent targeting of Christians."

France: On Jan. 17, a Muslim man from Pakistan broke down the door of Saint Joseph Church in Paris and abused the priest, as he had done on multiple occasions before. Police finally arrested the man and, on deciding that he was not in his right faculties, sent the attacker to a psychiatric ward.

Separately, on Jan. 18, a fire seriously damaged a church in Marseille. After stating that the fire first destroyed a Nativity scene — many of which were attacked, torched, and received beheadings during Christmas 2023 throughout Western European regions with large migrant populations — the report adds:

"The priest and parishioners are in shock and hope that residents will mobilize to participate in the renovation of the church in the coming days."

Lebanon: Two churches were attacked and vandalized in two separate incidents. First, on Jan. 20, the Notre-Dame de Doueir church in Fidar (Jbeil) was broken into:

"The individuals entered through a window, scattered items throughout the church offices and damaged the priest's office."

Then, on Jan. 23, Our Lady of Help Church in Mount Lebanon was vandalized, with "its windows broken and its interior upside down." During the Christmas season in the month before, two Christmas trees were torched.

United Kingdom: On Jan. 24, a 17-year-old teenager — "who cannot be named for legal reasons" — pled guilty to torching St. Peter's Church in Portland in Dorset, England (the same port that harbors the Bibby Stockholm, a barge that serves as a hotel for hundreds of migrants).

Sicily: Vandals started a fire in front of a church in Messina, which caused significant damage to the building. "We consider certain behaviors to be absurd and of unseemly incivility," was a local official's response. He added that this was "yet another act of decadence that this city no longer wants to tolerate." According to the report, the parish torching "is not the first act of this kind that has occurred. And now many hope for the creation of a video surveillance system." Sicily, in addition, witnessed "record high migrant arrivals by boat" in 2023.

Italy: On Jan. 30, vandalsbroke into the Church of Saint Mary of the Carmine in Lecce. They desecrated the Eucharist kept in the tabernacle, overturned various sacred furnishings, smashed a glass-stained door, and robbed the church of alms money intended for the needy.

Germany: On Jan. 30, a fire broke out at Saint Walpurgis Church, causing 50,000 euros' worth of damage. Inspectors concluded that the attack had been caused by arson.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Sometime in early January, Azeri troops destroyed the tomb of Saint Grigorios, first bishop of Caucasian Albania, in the abandoned convent of Amaras, near Martouni, several Armenian associations charged.

Apostasy in Uganda:

On Jan. 4, Muslim relatives severely beat a man and broke his leg on learning that he had embraced Christ four nights earlier, during a New Year's Eve church service he had attended. That night, on returning home after his conversion, Tambuze Marijani "shared with my wife the joy of having received Christ as my Lord and Savior, but instead of my wife sharing in my joy, she was very upset." Then on Jan. 4, Tambuze, while working his field, saw his brother and other relatives congregating around his home. He went to them. Immediately his older brother began insulting and calling him a "disgrace" to the family:

"My younger brother got hold of me, and there and then they began beating me with sticks. I screamed and shouted for help, and neighbors arrived and rescued me."

His leg was broken and he had wounds across his back and chest that required a hospital stay of nearly two weeks. In the meantime, his relatives rendered his home "uninhabitable" and took his former wife and four small children, aged 7, 8, 10, and 12. Last reported, Tambuze has gone in hiding and is financially destitute.

© Gatestone Institute