In a recent interview on CBN News, Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” tried to recount the horrific atrocities Christians in Iraq are suffering at the hands of the Islamic State. After explaining how Christian minorities fled Baghdad to Ninevah when Islamic militants began terrorizing them and bombing their churches, White said:
Then one day, ISIS, the Islamic State, the Islamic caliphate came [to Ninevah] and they hounded all of them [Christians] out. Not some, allof them. And they killed huge numbers. They chopped their children in half; they chopped their heads off.
It should be noted that the targeting of Christian children in Iraq goes back years before the creation of ISIS. For example, in June 2008, a Canadian parliamentary committee heard about how “militant Muslims” were crucifying Christian children: “Since the war began in 2003, about 12 children, many as young as 10, have been kidnapped and killed, then nailed to makeshift crosses near their homes to terrify and torment their parents.”
During his interview, White offered the following, likely surreal to Western sensibilities, anecdote:
ISIS turned up and they said to the [Christian] children, “You say the words [shehada, convert to Islam], that you will follow Muhammad.” And the children, all under 15, four of them, they said, “No, we love Jesus [Yesua]. We have always loved Jesus. We have always followed Jesus. Jesus has always been with us.” They [ISIS] said, “Say the words!” They [children] said, “No, we can’t.” [White starts sobbing] They chopped all their heads off. How do you respond to that? You just cry. They’re my children. That is what we have been going through. That is what we are going through.
As callous as it is to say, perhaps these faithful children are better off. After all, ISIS members have been known to compel Christians to convert to Islam, and still cruelly hack their heads off—thus damning them twice.
Similarly, in one of his Facebook postings, White wrote:
Today’s Pictures are too awful to show. You know I love to show photos but the photo I was sent today was the most awful I have ever seen. A family of 8 all shot through the face laying in a pool of blood with their Bible open on the couch. They would not convert it cost them their life.
During his CBN interview, White also told of how ISIS members came to a Christian man saying, “Either you convert to Islam or we kill all your children.” The desperate father declared the words, the shehada, that “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” thus becoming a Muslim. Contrite at heart, he phoned White crying, “Abouna, abouna [father, father] I said the words! Does that mean Jesus doesn’t love me anymore? I’ve always loved Jesus but I said those words because I couldn’t see my children being killed!”
White responded: “No Elias, Jesus still loves you—He will always love you.”
The two types of anecdotes offered by White—Christians refusing to embrace Islam and dying for it, and Christians embracing Islam under duress—are an integral part of how the “Islamic world,” the majority of which was almost entirely Christian before the Islamic conquests, came into being: a historic fact Western people were once well acquainted with, before the current age of political correctness and alternate realities.
A historic anecdote that combines the twain—forced conversion to Islam followed by Christian remorse—comes from Egypt:
In 1389, a great procession of Copts who had accepted Muhammad under fear of death, marched through Cairo. Repenting of their apostasy, they now wished to atone for it by the inevitable consequence of returning to Christianity. So as they marched, they announced that they believed in Christ and renounced Muhammad. They were seized and all the men were beheaded one after another in an open square before the women. But this did not terrify the women; so they, too, were all martyred (Crucified Again, pgs. 113-114).
First forced to convert and then forced to remain in Islam—both on pain of death: these are two facts of Islam, past and present; facts that, according to top ranking Islamic cleric Sheikh Qaradawi are responsible for the existence of Islam today. Just ask Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim, Egypt’s Muhammad Hegazy, or Iran’s (rather America’s forsaken) Saeed Abedini.
Aside from the numerous historic accounts of Christians slaughtered for refusing Islam—whether 100,000 Georgians beheaded or burned alive, or a “mere” 813 Italians beheaded—Christians are still being forced to convert to Islam, and not just at the hands of ISIS:
- Palestine, July 2012: Christians in Gaza protested over the “kidnappings and forced conversions of some former believers to Islam.” The ever-dwindling Christian community banged on a church bell while chanting, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”
- Pakistan: In 2004, a-two-year old child was raped because her Christian father “refused to convert to Islam.” Another “devoted Christian” was butchered by Muslim men “with multiple axe blows [24 per autopsy] for refusing to convert to Islam.” In April 2014, A Muslim security guard murdered a Christian worker who refused to convert to Islam.
- Uganda, July 2014: After a gang of Muslims brandishing machetes stormed a church during service, hacking one 18-year-old woman to death and leaving three others, including a one-year-old baby, injured, the pastor explained that the attackers belong to a local “group of Muslims” which seeks “to transform [Christian-majority] Uganda into an Islamic nation and would kill anyone who refused to convert.”
- Nigeria, May 2014: A Christian teenage girl told of how Boko Haram came to her household and slaughtered her father and brother because they refused to convert to Islam. After abusing her, they tied her up and left her in a state of shock between the two corpses.
- Bangladesh, October 2013: After shutting down the construction of a church, a local government official threatened Christians with eviction from their village unless they renounced their faith and embraced Islam. Said one of the Christians: “Their threats chilled me to the bone. That is why I pretended to accept Islam, but faith in Christ is the wellspring of my life.” Another said: “The chairman is clipping the wings of our faith. I do not know how long we can grin and bear it. We want religious freedom. We want to practice our religion freely.”
- Russia, 2013: In Tatarstan, a Muslim-majority republic in Russia, seven churches were burned and “increased pressure on Christians to convert to Islam” was widespread.
- Uzbekistan, August 2012: A 26-year-old Christian woman, partially paralyzed from youth, and her elderly mother were violently attacked by invaders who ransacked their home, confiscating “icons, Bibles, religious calendars, and prayer books.” At the police department, the paralyzed woman was “offered to convert to Islam.” She refused and was accordingly fined almost two years’ worth of her wages.
Pakistan, Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Palestine, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh: these are not “ISIS.” Yet Christians there are experiencing the same intolerance and violence that Christians under ISIS are experiencing.
The lesson? If all around the Muslim world Christian minorities are being forced to embrace Islam, often on pain of death, the very least the non-Muslim world can do is embrace the fact that Islam is inherently hostile—a costly lesson that countless innocents have been paying for nearly 1,400 years.
For if Christianity is built on the blood of Christian martyrs, apparently so is Islam.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow, David Horowitz Freedom Center; a CBN News contributor; a Media Fellow, Hoover Institution (2013); and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum . Ibrahim’s dual-background — born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East — has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.