‘We Christians Are Like Animals to Them’: The Muslim Persecution of Christians, August 2023

On November 17, 2021, the U.S. State Department removed Nigeria from its list of Countries of Particular Concern.... despite several human rights organizations characterizing the persecution meted out to Nigeria's Christians as a "genocide." Pictured: The smoldering ashes of structures in the village of Badu, Nigeria on July 28, 2019, after Boko Haram terrorists attacked a funeral procession there, murdering 65 people. (Photo by Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images)

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The following are among the murders and abuses inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of August 2023.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Pakistan:  All hell broke loose on Aug. 18, after some Christians were accused—falsely, it was recently revealed—of desecrating a Koran in Jaranwala.  Thousands of enraged Muslims rampaged against the region’s Christians, prompting hundreds to flee their homes.  Among other damage, the rioting Muslims set 25 churches aflame, destroyed or damaged 400 Christian homes, and desecrated at least one Christian cemetery.  Discussing this incident, much of which he witnessed, the Rev. Deacon Daud Irshad, 28, said:

I saw with tears in my eyes how the mob desecrated crosses on the roofs of the churches and in graveyards and ruined church buildings. They burnt so many Bibles and altars… The condition in Pakistan is very bad… So much hatred, jealousy, envy and enmity from the Muslims towards Christians. It seems that we Christians are like animals to them. Whenever they want to kill, they kill, and whenever they want to spare, they give free hand.

Separately, on Aug. 3—nearly two weeks before the aforementioned false blasphemy pretext had arisen—several armed Muslims raided Lala Zarr Church in Peshawar during worship service.  They opened fire inside the church, causing damage though no fatalities.  They also dragged on the floor and beat with the butts of their rifles Pastor Zulfiqar Gill.

Kenya: On Aug. 22, a gang of Muslims connected to the Somali terrorist group, Al Shabaab (“the youth”) torched a church and eight homes in Salama Village.  Discussing the destruction caused to his church, Salama Redeemed Gospel Church Pastor Peter Muthengi said, “I had speakers, chairs and many other items inside my church, all of which have been reduced to ashes. I lost property worth Sh300,000. I appeal to the government to find a permanent solution to the insecurity incidents in this place. We’re tired of these recurrent attacks.”  Later that day, the same terrorists slit the throats of and killed two truck drivers.

Indonesia:  There were at least three incidents of Muslim hostility to churches.

First, after applying and getting all the necessary, and onerous, permits to build a church, and after raising the necessary funds, and, finally, after building the church, a Christian congregation “suddenly faced a new problem,” according to an Aug. 2 report,

The road to their church building was unexpectedly closed off by a wall, making access to their new building nearly impossible. …  This has made it very difficult for church members to reach the church building since the alternative roads are impassable due to large holes and other obstructions.

Then, on Aug. 9, about 30 Muslims “used hammers and clubs to break huge holes in the walls” of a Pentecostal church under construction in Kabil village.  The attackers claimed to be acting because the church did not have a permit to exist, which the report characterizes as “a common tactic by hard-line Muslims in Indonesia where applications for permits are ignored or denied and carry onerous requirements.”  In fact, “the church had a letter allowing the construction from the Batam Free Zone Authority,” said its pastor.  Even so, and to appease the Muslim rioters, authorities reached an agreement “stipulating that construction of the church building would be halted until a permit is issued”—though the chances of that ever happening have now greatly diminished.

Finally, on Sunday, Aug. 6, Muslims protested against a group of Christians for holding a church service in a Christian man’s warehouse.  They further told the Christians to forget about constructing a church building nearby. The Muslim protesters held signs saying that they “sternly refuse worship activities that are in violation of government regulations.”

Cyprus: Plans to convert an ancient monastery into a mosque in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus were described as “rubbing salt in the island’s sectarian wounds.”  An Aug. 20 report offers background:

An announcement late last month of a proposal by local Islamic groups to build a Muslim prayer centre (masjid) on the grounds of the Apostolos Andreas Monastery sparked national outrage…

Cyprus has been divided for almost half a century following Turkey’s invasion of the island in 1974, which led to the establishment of the puppet state of the Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Ankara… The occupation of Cyprus is a major sticking point in EU-Turkish relations and one of the many reasons for Turkey’s famously stalled application to join the EU.

A local bishop has condemned plans to build a permanent Islamic prayer centre on the grounds of the monastery, which is currently undergoing restoration work. According to the bishop, Turkish officials have already moved Islamic prayer mats into the monastery without consulting with monks and are preparing for the long-term construction of a mosque on site.

The move has stirred up very recent historical memories on the island, where an estimated 550 Greek Orthodox monasteries, churches, and chapels were desecrated following the Turkish invasion, with many Christians forced to flee the northern half of the island for fear of persecution.

Also in August, a Turkish man videotaped himself walking around this selfsame Apostolos Andreas Monastery while reciting the shehata—“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”—and harassing an elderly Christian priest.

Sweden: A Muslim migrant videotaped himself attacking St. Family Catholic Parish in southern Stockholm.  He smashed at least one window with a hurled stone, while shouting vile things, including “I’m going to rape Jesus,” and “Sweden, I’m going to f*ck Jesus in there now. Allahu Akbar!” Afterwards he, or someone named Fares Aziz, uploaded the video on tiktok.

Austria: During a Muslim demonstration against Syria’s Assad, on Sunday, Aug. 27, in Stephansplatz , Vienna, a man, armed with two hammers, smashed and destroyed the new glass door of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. Police, who were already present in large numbers, were able to arrest the man as he left the cathedral anteroom.  However, they would not reveal his nationality. The report adds that the man was likely “suffering from psychosis.”  “We are of course horrified,” said Cathedral priest Toni Faber.

Italy: In broad daylight, on Aug. 17, a “foreign” looking man “threw himself” against and started attacking a church with a “fury that explodes suddenly, blindly.” A video of the incident is available here. Another report offers more details:

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Yet another case of intolerance on the part of a migrant against the symbols of the Catholic religion . The latest episode was recorded in Turin, right in the center, where a foreigner threw heavy stones against the portal of the church of San Carlo Borromeo, in the square of the same name. Some passers-by filmed the scene and from the recorded images the man can be heard uttering inappropriate sentences against Christians [including “F*cking Christians!]….

First the stranger threw various objects and then, having found a boulder, he vented all his anger against the windows. The fury with which the foreigner attacks the church is blind. An unprecedented violence that is filmed from afar by passers-by, terrified of being themselves attacked with the same vehemence. The glass of the entrance portal of the church shatters but the man seems to want to demolish the wooden structure, given the strength he puts into his assault. San Carlo, moreover, is one of the most important religious buildings in Turin, a 17th century building twin of the church of Santa Cristina, located east of via Roma, which separates them.

Those present immediately raised the alarm and the police arrived on the scene, managing to disarm the man and make the square safe again. The foreigner was immobilized on the ground waiting for the arrival of an ambulance, which then transferred him to hospital due to some injuries he sustained during the assault. For the moment there is no news about his identity or his status in the area, but what is impressive is the violence against which he attacked a symbol of Christianity.

It is not the first case of this type, neither in Italy nor abroad. These types of attacks are increasingly frequent: in France, during the riots, some buildings were set on fire while it is impossible to forget the katana attack last January in Spain. The sexton was killed and the perpetrator was identified as a 30-year-old Moroccan man, under investigation for terrorism . Phenomena of this type are spreading without there currently being a concrete possibility of stopping them, due to the growing number of followers of extreme Islam who arrive in Europe mixed among illegal immigrants.

Muslim Slaughter of and Violence against Christians

Pakistan: Muslims surrounded and murdered a Christian man.  According to the Aug. 22 report,

[A]nother Christian man has been killed by a mob of Islamic fundamentalists in Sheikhpura Punjab, Pakistan. A viral video being circulated on social media, shows a frenzied mob targeting a man named Malik Ijaz, while the gunshots could be heard in the background. The mob barged into his house and vandalized it. They looted and threw the belongings on the road. Later, Ijaz was shot dead. In addition, a church was also desecrated by the radical Islamists belonging to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). They also inscribed phrases related to Allah and Prophet, on the walls of the Church. The erasure of which could potentially incite another blasphemy case.

Nigeria: A few August incidents of the genocide of Christians in the west African nation follow:

Aug. 9: Muslim terrorists killed a Christian woman, Gloria Isa, as she slept at her home.

Aug. 23: Muslim gunmen “shot to death” the Rev. Jeremiah Mayau, a 61-year-old pastor of a Baptist church.  According to a press statement, “The incident occurred when the cleric was [working] on his farm. It was barbaric.”

Aug 10: Around 2 a.m., Muslim Fulani herdsmen launched a raid—the third of its kind on the same Christian majority village peacefully sleeping after a long day’s work.  They slaughtered 21 villagers.   According to the report,

The Heipang community has lost more than 100 villagers in attacks over the past two decades, with no arrests. Villagers in Heipang and Mangu blame radicalized Fulani militants and herders for causing the attacks on the mostly Christian farming communities. They say the government is complicit and unable to prevent the attacks – a common thread in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region that has been rocked by violence with tens of thousands of Christians killed over the past 20 years.

Aug. 3: Muslim gunmen abducted two church ministers from their homes in Niger State, Paul Sanogo and a seminarian named Melchior.

Uganda: Muslims rioted and stoned a pastor unconscious during the funeral of a former Muslim turned Christian.  While officiating, Pastor Davidson Okirori, 39, held and cited from the Koran, the Hadith, and the Bible, in order “to witness the love of Christ to Muslims who had gathered at the funeral,” he later said from a hospital bed (where he was recovering from wounds to his head, back and arms). Before long,“I heard a young man shouting, ‘You kafir [infidel], stop misleading us—if you came to bury your people, bury them, but don’t use the Koran without getting ablution. This is blasphemy to our Allah!’” Muslims began yelling “Away with him!” and others grabbed the microphone from the pastor and “started tearing off pages of the Bible and Christian literature.”  Now gathered together, the Muslims began stoning him: “They were throwing stones where I was standing, and one hit my head and I fell down.  A Muslim man hit me with an object on my mouth, and from there I do not know what happened again. I found myself in Mulago Hospital with blood all over my body and my clothes.” Concludes the report, “Christians outnumbering the Muslims at the funeral managed to restrain the assailants, who seized the Koran and Hadiths and took them to their nearby mosque, chanting the jihadist slogan, ‘Allahu Akbar [God is greater], we have won, we have won.’”

Separately, on Aug. 11, Muslims thrashed another preacher and 20 other Christians at an open-air evangelistic event.  After Pastor Robert Faisali Miya cited Koran verses that “acknowledge the uniqueness of Christ,” Muslims began chanting the jihadist slogan, “Allah Akbar [God is greater],” and a Muslim sheikh, Hiisa Mubaraka, ran to the podium and knocked the evangelist down.  According to an eyewitness, “Others were saying that Allah has granted to them authority to kill all infidels. Another Muslim sprayed what looked like acid [on Pastor Robert], while another hit him with a thorny object and stepped on the evangelist’s back and the stomach.” The sheikh continued crying aloud that “infidels” cannot “preach in this town or come and mislead our people here…  We are going to fight in the cause of Allah to kill all of you.”  He also told the about 20 Muslims in attendance “to destroy church properties.”  According to the report,

Christians who tried to rescue the evangelist were injured as Muslims beat them and [Pastor Robert] Miya with walking sticks, while other Muslims damaged the podium, loudspeakers, microphones, public address system and keyboard…The Christians eventually overpowered the Muslim assailants, who retreated to a nearby mosque as the event organizers rushed the evangelist to a nearby clinic….  More than 20 Christians were injured on their heads, while others had broken hands.

France:  On Sunday morning, Aug. 6, in Marseille, six people described as of “North African appearance,” attacked and robbed one of four French citizens in what appeared to be an anti-Christian hate crime.  Prior to the assault, one of the Muslims, on seeing two baptismal medallions around the necks of one of the Frenchmen, said: “Hey, you have that chain—are you a Christian?”  An affirmative answer was immediately followed by a violent punch to the chest and the medallions torn off.  The report notes that the assailants sped without bothering to steal “their victims’ watches or mobile phones.”

General Muslim Persecution of Christians

Azerbaijan:  While discussing the situation in Artsakh, an ancient Christian region under Azerbaijani control Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said on Aug. 7:

There is an ongoing Genocide against 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh.

The blockade of the Lachin Corridor by the Azerbaijani security forces impeding access to any food, medical supplies, and other essentials should be considered a Genocide under Article II, (c) of the Genocide Convention: ‘Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.’

There are no crematories, and there are no machete attacks. Starvation is the invisible Genocide weapon. Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks.

Starvation as a method to destroy people was neglected by the entire international community when it was used against Armenians in 1915, Jews and Poles in 1939, Russians in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) in 1941, and Cambodians in 1975/1976.

Egypt: In an Aug. 12 post, Sameh ‘Asker, a secular author and activist, discussed the long history of and methodology behind the abduction and forced conversion of Christian women and girls in Egypt.  After rhetorically asking, “So, how are things now after 10 years of revolutions?” the Egyptian analyst answered:

More sectarian incidents in Upper Egypt, and organizations dedicated to Islamizing Coptic women and ignite sectarian strife—without the arrest of a single sheikh or leader in this realm of savagery….  I repeat my warning of sectarian strife [overwhelming] Egypt soon, behind which stand Salafist organizations and preachers on the Internet claiming that they convert Copts to Islam. They specifically target girls and women for social reasons, as they are the weakest link through which the Salafists control the church and impose their conditions on the Copts.

A separate Aug. 11 report discusses the constant “pressures” Christians, especially impoverished ones, experience to convert to Islam from surrounding Muslims:

These pressures sometimes come in the form of financial offers, marriage proposals, or even blatant accusations and framing for crimes they did not commit. Christian widows or Christian girls whose father has passed away are even more vulnerable to the external pressures to abandon their Christian faith and access the socioeconomic support that comes with converting to Islam.

The report goes on to offer a recent example concerning a Christian widow and her teenage daughter:

After the death of her husband, this brave woman continued to operate their family community grocery market. However, their neighbor’s son began harassing her teenage daughter. When she confronted her neighbor about the matter and respectfully appealed for them not to take advantage of her, the neighbors told her that they should let her daughter marry their son so that she could convert to Islam and be led from the ‘delusion of their faith to the true religion,’ but if she refuses to convert, they have the right to do whatever they wish to her daughter. Fearful for both her and her daughter’s life, future, and dignity, she was forced to relocate to a new area.

Finally, an August report published by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom explored the situation of Christian and other minorities in Egypt and concluded that Egypt should be placed on the U.S. Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom:

[S]ystematic restrictions on freedom of religion or belief remain in place in Egypt, including actively enforced blasphemy laws, non-recognition of certain religious communities, and severe restrictions on religious expression. State security and the courts continue to arbitrarily detain and prosecute religious freedom advocates and members of religious minorities. Further, some government initiatives that appear to address specific religious minorities’ concerns have not significantly advanced religious freedom for Egyptians of all religious backgrounds….  As such, USCIRF maintains its recommendation that the U.S. Department of State place Egypt on the Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. The U.S. government should actively leverage its robust bilateral relationship with Egypt to encourage the Egyptian government to take additional steps—especially those affecting legal frameworks and judicial processes—toward ensuring religious freedom. As a country that has demonstrated an interest in making improvements, Egypt is well positioned to go beyond cosmetic gestures toward religious tolerance’ and make systemic changes to its laws and criminal justice system that significantly advance religious freedom for all Egyptians…

About this Series

The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic.  Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed in July 2011 to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that occur or are reported each month. It serves two purposes:

1)          To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.

2)          To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam;  theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Raymond Ibrahim
RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007). Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times Syndicate, CNN, LA Times, Fox News, Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hoover Institution’s Strategika, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, including American Thinker, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Christian Post, Daily Caller, FrontPage Magazine, NewsMax, National Review Online, PJ Media, and World Magazine. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies and has been translated into dozens of languages.