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VIDEO: The Freedom-From-Hijab Movement in Iran

This new Glazov Gang episode features our very own Anni Cyrus, the producer of this show and the founder of LiveUpToFreedom.com.

Anni focuses on Freedom-From-Hijab Movement in Iran, shedding light on the Islamic Republic’s vicious persecution of Iranian women and girls who are fighting for freedom — and the Left’s willful blindness.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch. Please subscribe to the Glazov Gang‘s YouTube Channel and follow us on Twitter: @JamieGlazov. Please donate through the Galzov Gang’s Pay Pal account to help The Glazov Gang keep going.

Islamic Republic of Iran arrests at least 25 Christians

One might be forgiven for suspecting that the Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t quite as “moderate” as Ben Rhodes would have us believe.

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“Iran: At least 25 Christian citizens were arrested in Kerman,” NCRI, September 28, 2016 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

NCRI – Monday, September 27, security forces arrested at least 25 Christians in Southern City of Kerman and transferred them to an unknown location.

The human rights websites in Iran reported, security guards, raided the homes of Christian citizens, searched the houses and confiscated the belongings and at least 25 people were arrested.

There has been no information about the reason of arrests and whereabouts of these citizens so far.

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Muslims slaughter two converts from Islam to Christianity

A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated: “The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”

Qaradawi also once famously said: “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”

“Two Converts from Islam Slain in Yemen,” Morning Star News, November 25, 2015:

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – Two Christians in Yemen, both converts from Islam, have been ambushed and killed because of their faith, according to sources close to the victims.

In Taiz, a city with a pre-war population of 600,000 people in southwest Yemen, at least one member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ambushed a Christian man in the city and shot him 15 to 20 times in early September. A second Christian was shot once in his home on Oct. 2, sources said. The second victim may have been killed by a Muslim extremist group or by members of his own family, they said.

Due to security threats in Yemen, a 99.9-percent Muslim country ruled by sharia (Islamic law) and embroiled in a civil war, the names of the victims and the sources cannot be released.

Both men were openly confessing Christ. A Yemeni friend of the second Christian said the convert was involved in evangelism, though he tried to keep his activities low key.

The friend said the second Christian killed, who was in his late 30s or early 40s, was not involved in any other activities that could have led to his death. Others who knew the convert from Islam said Muslims were harassing and threatening him.

“A lot of people didn’t like that he was a convert,” the friend said. “I think it is because of his faith; there is no other reason [to kill him].”

Authorities have made no arrests in the killing. Since March of this year, when civil war started, Yemen has become a dysfunctional, lawless state where “people are killed for numerous reasons,” the friend said. A teenage convert from Islam, for example, was killed recently when an errant, shoulder-fired rocket known as an RPG exploded near him.

The most recent shooting victim is survived by a wife and a teenage son. It was unclear how the two were coping, but the victim’s friend said the deaths have alarmed the convert community in Taiz. In addition to the Muslim harassment, the victim’s house had also been set on fire at least once.

“The people that knew him are afraid, especially because he is the second one,” the friend said. “People that knew him well, they’re afraid, they’re shocked; they know that he was killed for his faith. But people that don’t, many of them think he was killed in the general unrest.”

The friend said the second Christian convert’s family likely felt publically shamed by his decision to follow Christ. Family influence in Yemen cannot be overstated, he said. The family structure in Yemen and in much of the Middle East works to enforce societal norms, especially adherence to Islam….

A source close to the Christian slain first said a member of AQAP was responsible.

“For six months he had been receiving direct threats from known AQAP members that he knew personally,” the source said. “There is no reason to believe that his family was involved in the killing. His family knew of his faith for more than a decade, and although it created tensions, they never threatened his life.”…

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Syria: Christians Forced From Home by U.S. Coalition Fighters

The following article appeared originally on GatestoneInstitute.org and was reprinted with permission.

Not only is the Islamic State (ISIS) persecuting Christians but so are the U.S.-supported “rebel” forces in Syria, which the Obama administration assures are “moderate.” According to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) report, “With backing from U.S. allies, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, this [U.S. supported] rebel coalition fights both the Syrian regime and the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS. But the coalition has extremists in its own ranks who have mistreated Christians and forced them out of their homes”—just as ISIS has done.

In response, Mideast Christian leaders have made clear that, far from expecting the West to intervene on their behalf, they merely wish that the West would stop arming, supporting, or even facilitating the Islamic terrorists who are making their lives a living hell. The crisis was spelled out in an article in Christian Today, entitled, “Syrian Christian leader tells West: ‘Stop arming terror groups who are massacring our people.'”

According to the Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, “If the West wants to do something about the present crisis, the most effective thing would be to support local governments, which need sufficient armies and forces to maintain security and defend respective populations against attacks. State institutions need to be strengthened and stabilized. Instead, what we see is their forced dismemberment being fueled from the outside.”

Another Christian leader had another message to the West. According to Iraqi priest, Fr. Douglas Bazi, once a torture victim who now takes care of thousands of refugees forced to flee Mosul since the Islamic State took over the city last year, the West needs to “Wake up!”

During celebrations of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Iraqi priest further reflected that, “We cannot celebrate the feast of two martyrs without remembering the living martyrs of our time.”

These martyrs are not limited to the Middle East. Among the many Christians slaughtered in Nigeria in July was a young girl who was stoned to death for refusing to renounce Christ and convert to Islam. Pastor Mark lost his daughter, Monica, in the Chibok abduction, in which almost 300 predominantly Christian girls were kidnapped at the hands of the Islamic organization, Boko Haram. He was told that his daughter refused to change her religion, so she was buried from the neck down, and then stoned to death.

The rest of July’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed by theme.

Attacks on Christian Churches

Nigeria: Dozens of Christian churches were attacked in the Muslim-majority northern regions, where Boko Haram is headquartered:

  • Thirty-two churches and 300 houses were burnt when Boko Haram jihadis attacked Mussa community in Borno State. Thirteen people were also killed in the jihad.
  • female Muslim suicide bomber blew herself up in the Redeemed Christian Church of God on Sunday, July 5, in the town of Potiskum. The priest and a woman and her two children were killed. “People were just going to the church when the bomber entered, otherwise the casualty figure would have been higher,” said a Red Cross worker. Earlier it was revealed that some of the nearly 300 Christian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last year were being beaten, forced to convert to Islam, and indoctrinated into believing that their mission is to “slit the throats of Christians and to carry out suicide attacks.”
  • On Sunday, July 12, explosives planted at a church in Jos went off but there were no casualties; the bomb was detected by the church’s security personnel.
  • In response to a mosque explosion that killed 20 people—part of Boko Haram’s “Ramadan killing spree“—rioting Muslims burned down two churches on July 6 in Jos. According to the report, the mosque attack “has revived historic tensions between members of both faiths in Jos. Christians in Nigeria now not only fear Boko Haram, but also attacks from their Muslim neighbors.”

Iraq: The Islamic state blew up another Christian church under its authority, the Mother of Aid Church, which had stood in central Mosul for thousands of years. The blast also killed four children who were near the church at the time. ISIS also transformed the St. Joseph Church, an ancient Chaldean church in Mosul, into a mosque. Pictures of St. Joseph show that the dome has been painted black and the church has been stripped of all crosses and Christian symbols and images.

Egypt: Three church-related attacks took place: The Fathers Church in eastern Alexandria was attacked on July 21 by unknown assailants who hurled Molotov cocktails and other homemade bombs at the church. No one was injured, although the facade of the church was damaged. Security services discovered a bag with more firebombs on the scene from where the assailants had fled. According to El Watan, the incident created a “state of panic” in the area, especially because the Fathers Church is considered the most important church for the Coptic Catholics of the region.

  • Muslims suspended prayer in a church in the village of Arab Asnabt in Abu Qurqas, Minya, and called for demolishing it in an effort “to prevent Coptic Christians from practicing their religious rites.”
  • Dozens of “incensed” Muslims congregated before the house of a Christian on the accusation that he was trying to use his home as a church. Security services arrived in time to disperse the angry Muslims. Coptic Christians trying to—or merely being accused of—turning their homes into churches in Egypt is not uncommon, and, in accordance with Islamic law, ultimately reflects the difficulties Christians face in building or even renovating existing churches.

Niger: Approximately 70 Christian churches and an orphanage continue facing a lack of resources and difficult conditions in attempts to rebuild them six months after thousands of Muslims had attacked and destroyed them. The onslaught was in “revenge” for the offending Muhammad cartoons published by the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo—a secular magazine based in France that also mocks Christianity. “Since these incidents, it is as if life had stopped,” said Baptist pastor Jacques Kangindé. His home was also destroyed during the riots. Recalling the destroyed church, the pastor said: “I felt very bad, such an indescribable feeling when I saw my ripped-up Bible on the ground. For a pastor, it was like my entire life was torn apart. I could not stop shedding tears.”

Violence and Slaughter of Christians

NigeriaBoko Haram jihadis shot and killed 29 people in two Christian enclaves of northeast Nigeria. Most people in Dille village ran, but those who could not were gunned down and many homes were set ablaze. Separately, at a busy market in northeastern Damaturu town, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up, killing 15 people and wounding 50. And in Maikadiri village, at least 14 people were killed and 500 cows were slaughtered.

IraqChristians kidnapped and held for ransom continue to be slaughtered even after their ransom is paid. The body of Quais Abdul Shaya was returned to his family—after they had paid the demanded ransom of $25,000 USD. Saher Hanna, who worked at the Ministry of the Interior, was also killed after his Islamic abductors received his ransom. Killing Christian hostages, including children, after receiving payment is not limited to the Islamic State and occurs in other Muslim nations such as Egypt.

Libya: Unconfirmed reports, including from the Libyan Herald, say that the Islamic State executed another Egyptian Coptic Christian it had seized. Bekhit Nageh Efrank Ebeid, a 25-year-old laborer, was kidnapped along with two other Christians, Kofi Frimpong Sekyere from Ghana and Ibrahim Adeola from Nigeria.

EgyptAn unknown man attacked a Coptic nun. According to Fr. Abdel Quddus, “An unknown person stalked a sister in the diocese of Fashn, Beni Suef, and attacked her last week with a bladed weapon while she was outside her residence. He then hit her head against the wall and fled.” And Wadie Ramses, a Christian who was kidnapped and held for 92 days by Islamic militants in the Sinai desert, managed to escape. During his time in captivity, he was blindfolded and handcuffed, beaten and abused. According to his account, the most terrifying moments came when he would overhear his Muslim kidnappers debating whether to behead the Christian doctor or keep him alive to ensure a ransom. The police, though given many opportunities, never made any effort to rescue him, said the Copt.

Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Proselytism

Uganda: Muslims once again tried to kill a Muslim convert to Christianity. Last year, Hassan Muwanguzi, a former Muslim Sheikh, now born-again Christian, survived a poisoning attempt by Muslim relatives, but, in a separate attack, lost his twelve-year old daughter. Recently, Muslims broke into his house with knives and clubs in another attempt to assassinate him. Muwanguzi was at a prayer meeting at the time, but the assailants stole thousands of dollars’ worth of his possessions. Despite Uganda being a majority-Christian nation, Muwanguzi lives in a majority-Muslim region, and faces regular death threats (read more here).

Pakistan: Muslims again used the “blasphemy” accusation to persecute Christian minorities:

  • Two Christian women and the husband of one of the women in the Punjab were tortured by Muslim villagers. Afterwards, they painted the women’s and man’s faces black, put shoes around their necks as “garlands”—shoes are considered ultra-degrading symbols in Pakistan—and paraded them around the town on donkeys, while the Muslim mob continued to taunt and beat them. The two women, identified as Rukhsana and Rehana, were accused of committing blasphemy after they got into an argument with a Muslim woman who wanted to buy a carpet for a low price, which the Christians refused. The Muslim woman then accused the Christians of committing blasphemy; she said that the carpet had images of Holy Books and Koran verses on it. The remark prompted the mob to drag the Christians out of their homes and beat them.
  • Another Christian couple was nearly lynched by a Muslim mob after they were accused of “blasphemy.” The illiterate couple were using a banner that also allegedly carried scriptures from the Koran. After a local barber and two clerics denounced the couple, they were beaten and about to be hanged when police intervened. A few months earlier, another couple was thrown into an oven and burned to death when they too were accused of blasphemy.
  • Two Christian brothers, Qaisar and Amoon Ayub of Lahore, were arrested on blasphemy charges after one of them was accused of posting on his website material supposedly offensive to Islam. According to Qaisar, he closed his account in 2009 but one of his Muslim colleagues, Shahryar Gill, somehow managed to restore the website, while ownership remained in Qaisar’s name. Apparently in revenge for some office quarrel, the Muslim framed the Christian, reported the “blasphemy” to the authorities; the two brothers fled Pakistan. Years later, thinking things had cooled down, they tried to return to their wives and children, only to be arrested.

Sudan: Two imprisoned Presbyterian pastors are on trial and facing a possible death sentence. Rev. Yat Michael and the Rev. Peter Yen Reith of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church are being charged with espionage and blasphemy under the Republic of Sudan’s Islamic laws. Other church leaders say that Christians are often targeted for their faith, and that the government’s accusations are pretexts: “This is not ‘something new’ for our church. Almost all pastors have gone to jail under the government of Sudan. We have been stoned and beaten. This is their habit to pull down the church. We are not surprised. This is the way they deal with the church,” said Rev. Tut Kony.

Egypt: Three young Christians were arrested in Alexandria on charges of “contempt for Islam.” The previous evening, the Christians had been seen handing out bags of dates to Ramadan fasting Muslims. Some Muslims reported them to authorities; they said that the pamphlets contained “the teachings of Christ” were found in the bags of dates. They were all arrested and charged with contempt for Islam. The three Christian youth pled that the pamphlets were for their own personal use and not meant to be placed in the bags of dates. They were ordered to pay 10,000 Egyptian pounds and released.

“Dhimmitude”: Islamic Contempt, Hostility, and Abuse of Christians

Pakistan: Christian girls continued to be abducted and raped in the Muslim majority nation. A new report indicates that every year 1,000 non-Muslim girls are abducted, raped, forced to convert to Islam or “marry” their abductors. Cases reported in July include:

  • Tarfa Younis, a 12-year- old Christian orphan girl, was sold to a 55-year-old Muslim man who “repeatedly raped” her for over a year; the man’s nephew also abused her. The traumatized girl managed to run away and reach the home of an uncle. According to The Voice, a human rights organization involved in the case, “the practice of raping and forcing Christian girls into marriage continues in Punjab, especially in suburban areas.”
  • Fouzia, a 25-year-old married Christian woman and mother of three children, was abducted on July 23 by Muhammad Nazir, another 55-year-old Muslim man. He forced her to convert to Islam and become his wife. Her family asked Muhammad for her return, but he insisted that she had voluntarily converted and married him—and that if they made any trouble “there would be serious consequences.” According to human rights lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill: “Usually episodes like this proceed in the following manner: the family of the victim presents a complaint. The abductor lodges a counter-complaint affirming that the woman made a voluntary decision. In most instances, the victims are minors, young adolescent girls. They suffer sexual violence, forced prostitution, domestic abuse and even sold to human traffickers.” Gill concluded that it is rare for such cases to end with the return of the girls to their original families.

Indonesia: A group of Muslims attacked and disrupted a Christian scout camp that had brought together thousands of young people. The camp had been organized by a Protestant group in Yogyakarta, central Java. The Muslim assailants argued that the Christian group was not authorized to organize any public activity—especially as it was Ramadan and public activities that violate the Islamic nature of the month are forbidden. On the second day of the event, local Muslims stormed the site and brought everything to a halt. As a result of the raid, thousands of Christian participants from around the country were forced to leave the area. According to the Christian camp manager, “organizers said they had official permission [to hold the event], but suddenly scores of radical Muslims arrived ordering everyone to clear off.” Commenting on the expulsion of Christians, Muhammad Fuad, head of the local branch of the Islamic Community Forum, expressed satisfaction that the Christian event was shut down: “It is good because everyone should understand how to behave towards the Muslim community.”

Iraq: The Islamic State issued a call to its members at the University of Mosul to burn all books written by Christians—whether researchers, writers, or academics—that are found in the Central Library at the University of Mosul.

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

ABOUT RAYMOND IBRAHIM

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians. Follow Raymond Ibrahim on Twitter and Facebook.

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Dr. Mordechai Nisan: Defender of Threatened Minorities in the Muslim Middle East

Minorities in the Middle EastReligious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East are threatened by the rise of Sunni and Shia supremacists. A major threat is the mushrooming growth and barbarity of the self-declared Caliphate, the Islamic State. Another is a nuclear enabled hegemon, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Christian minorities, Maronites, Syriacs, Greek Orthodox and Druze in Lebanon are examples of religious and ethnic minorities in the heartland of the Muslim Middle East stretching from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Persian and Arabian Gulfs. There are 1.5 million Druze, a heterodox, mysterious sect that broke away from Islam and today is found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan. There are the estimated 40 million ethnic Kurds divided between Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq in the misshapen map created from the 1916 Sykes Picot Agreement and in the League of Nations mandates after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Kurdish quest for a landlocked country of their own was upended by the rise of the modern Turkish Republic recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, after the brief Greco Turkish war led by Kemal Atatürk. There are the dwindling Assyrian Chaldean Christians and ancient religious minorities like the Yazidis scattered in what is now Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Living in Egypt, the significant minority Coptic community numbers upwards of 10 million.

In the Sudan are over 11 million Christian and African animist tribes in Nubia, Kordofan and the breakaway Republic of Southern Sudan. They face continual warfare and enslavement by the northern Democratic Republic of Sudan which is ruled in accordance with Islamic Shariah law. Across the Maghreb region of North Africa are an estimated 30 million ethnic Berbers or Amazighs, whose presence preceded the great wave of Islamic Jihad conquest. The Berbers populate the former colonial possessions of Italy and France from Libya to the mountains of Algeria and Morocco in the West. Many of these minorities in the Muslim heartland view Israel as a kindred shining example of human and civil rights as illustrated by Lebanon and the Kurdish regional entities in Syria and Iraq. Now with the bursting of borders in the modern map of the Middle East by the sudden emergence of the Salafist Islamic State which is committing genocide and ethnic cleansing of these minorities, there is rising international concern for their survival.

One of the leading scholars of the plight of minorities in the Muslim Middle East is Israeli-Canadian, Dr. Mordechai Nisan. Dr. Nisan received his Ph.D. in Political Science from McGill University in Montreal. He lectured in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for 35 years, and at other Israeli academic institutions. Among his books: Toward a New Israel and Only Israel West of the River; Minorities in the Middle East; Identity and Civilization: Essays on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu Arz). His most recent book is Politics and War in Lebanon: Unraveling the Enigma. See our review of Nisan’s book in this edition of the New English Review,Enigmatic Lebanon.” Dr. Nisan has lectured extensively on Middle East topics to public audiences in Israel, America, and Canada, and has a special interest in minority communities in Israeli society

Against this background we reached out to Dr. Nisan for this interview.

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Jerry Gordon

Jerry Gordon:  Dr. Nisan, thank you for consenting to this timely interview.

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Dr. Mordechai Nisan

Mordechai Nisan:  Thank you for inviting me.

Jerry Gordon:  What prompted your professional interest in Middle East minorities?

Mordechai Nisan:  The vantage-point of Jewish history and the precarious status that Jews endured over the centuries led me to be interested in minority peoples in the region. Often oppressed but resilient, the ancient communities and churches in the Middle East are far more authentic than some of the fictional states from the 20th century. Political entities like Syria and Iraq did not diminish or crush the tenacity of minorities from retaining their integral identities and ambition for survival and self-expression. I found this subject worthy of research and compassion. To all this I add my concern for small and distinct minorities in Israel, who are differentiated by religion, ethnicity, or culture –  like the  Druze, Circassians (Cherkess),  Bedouin, Christians –who are not part of the essentially anti-Zionist anti-Israel Arab-Muslim group.

Gordon: In your latest book you describe the confessional system of Lebanon. How central was that to the development of Lebanese identification?

Nisan:  Finding the balance between traditional group identities and loyalties, and a transcending pan-Lebanese sentiment, has been a political challenge since the modern Republic of Lebanon was established. The confessional system is unique, ingenious and a political wonder of sorts. The Christian component in Lebanese politics has from the start been a dominant symbol, but with notable recognition and representation for the Muslim and Druze communities. In this remarkable political edifice, where a confessional key fixes the distribution of positions in the executive and legislative branches, Christians and Muslims regularly collaborate and cooperate. There is a sense of an inclusive Lebanese national political community above the distinct groups which compose it.

Gordon:  What is the history of Jewish relations with Lebanon prior to the founding of the State of Israel?

Nisan:  From the beginning of the modern Zionist settlement enterprise, Jews in the Galilee fostered relations with Christians, Shiites, and Druze in southern Lebanon. Political dialogue, in particular between Christian Maronites and Zionist Jews, became an encouraging sign against the background of militant Arab hostility to the Jewish National Movement. A broad spectrum of Lebanese personalities, and not only Christians, were not averse to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Lebanon’s distinct identity converged well with the distinct Jewish state, both together a microcosm of creativity, culture, and enterprising peoples.

Gordon:  You devoted one of your earlier books to a biography of Lebanese leader Etienne Sakr (Abu Arz). What was his significance vis-à- vis Lebanese relations with Israel?

Nisan:  Etienne Sakr, though not the only Lebanese personality to forge a relationship with Israel, did so with an ideological and historical perspective that accounted for Israel’s special role in the Mideast environment. When Lebanon was subjected to Palestinian violence and Syrian invasion, Abu-Arz considered a connection with Israel the optimal way to assure the survival of Lebanon against Arab predators and Islamic conquest. Although initially vibrant in its personal and political intensity, it was a wager which failed (at least for now).

Gordon:  In your latest book, you write about the fratricidal war among the Maronite leading families during the Lebanon civil war of the 1970’s and 1980’s. How did that lead to Syrian occupation and the rise of Hezbollah replacing previous Shia leadership in Lebanon?

Nisan:  A correction – it was not a civil war in its origins, rather a Palestinian war against Lebanon which began in 1975. The Syrian invasion, which in part evolved from Maronite in-fighting and no less a request for assistance against the Palestinians, proved to be the terrible nemesis for Lebanon. Iran’s religious colonialism and Syria’s brutal interventionism brought about the establishment of Hezbollah in the early 1980s. Traditional Shiite leadership from within clan circles was significantly superseded by Hezbollah and its notorious call for ‘resistance’ against Israel. Although vintage Lebanese, Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran and a central component of the Shiite global axis of Islamic terrorism – against Israel and Jews in particular.

Gordon:  How would you assess Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the implications of Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000, including the treatment of the South Lebanese Army (SLA)?

Nisan:  In June 1982 the IDF liberated southern and central Lebanon from the jaws of Palestinian PLO savagery and terrorism. This very successful military operation was partly vitiated thereafter by the interminable and unmanageable vicissitudes of Lebanese political life. A rather static and defensive military posture against Hezbollah proved only partially effective. In the end, by withdrawing from Lebanon in May 2000, Israel defaulted and placed the territory fully in the hands of Hezbollah, and treacherously abandoned the South Lebanese Army which had, as allies of Israel, fought shoulder to shoulder with the IDF. Israel threw its moral compass to the wind, and sacrificed Lebanon to Hezbollah.

Gordon:  Did the assassination of Lebanese PM Hariri and the Cedars Revolution of 2005 spell the demise of the confessional system in Lebanon?

Nisan:  The durability of Lebanon’s confessional political system remains in place. It is both traditional and consensual that the President be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of the Legislature a Shiite Muslim. These arrangements have persevered for some 80 years as an organic model for the special case of Lebanon.

Gordon:  What has been the historical record of Israel’s support for minorities in the Middle East, especially the Kurds, Druze, remaining Christian communities, and non-Islamic religious minorities?

Nisan:  Whether publicly expressed or not, the minorities across the region look to Israel as an inspiration and beacon of hope, for assistance and cooperation. The rationale is to join with peoples who, like Israel, are confronted by Arab enemies. This has led to Israeli support for the Kurds in Iraq in the past, perhaps also today, for the Christians in Lebanon, for the African Christian population in Southern Sudan, while sustaining a notably positive relationship with the Druze of Israel. Of recent significance is the IDF promoting military conscription of Christians in Israel. The ability of Israel to assist besieged Christians in Iraq and Syria, or Yazidis, from the horrors of ISIS is probably and sadly limited by logistics and geography.

Gordon:  You have been a proponent of recognizing Jordan as the Palestinian state. Given the collapse of the peace process since the Oslo Accords and both EU and US insistence on recognizing a Palestinian State, why hasn’t the Jordanian option been pursued?

Nisan:  Sketchy reports over the years affirm that Israel and Jordan conduct semi-secret ties on strategic matters, pertaining to Iraq, Syria, the Palestinians, and ISIS. But there is another side to the political coin. The fact that Jordan has been absolved – by itself, Israel, and the world – to house ‘a Palestinian homeland’ east of the Jordan river, the political repercussions then point to its location west of the river and  at Israel’s expense. The notion of Jordan as Palestine is rooted in the realities of geography, demography, and international law, and offers the most reasonable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum. Two states, okay, but the Arab one not targeting Tel Aviv and slicing Jerusalem in two, but across the Jordan River.

Gordon:  What options do Israel and the West have to deal with the rise of the Salafist Islamic State?

Nisan:  Moderate half-measures, a multi-cultural spirit, defeatism packaged as political correctness, feeble democracy, and fear of engaging the enemy – will assure Islam’s victory. The only option is a swift and total victory against the global jihad/ISIS/Al Qaeda, and all other branches and movements whose goal is the destruction of liberal Western civilization. We are witnessing a barbaric, unrelenting, hate-filled Islamic enemy on all fronts, countries, and continents: primitive religious Nazism. If Islam is not confronted, smashed, and defeated, then the increasing Islamization of the world will crush all in its ruthless path.

Gordon:  Retiring US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in his valedictory news conference suggested the sectarian division of Iraq. Given Kurdish resistance and establishment of de facto control in Syria and Iraq, could we be witnessing the rise of an independent Kurdistan?

Nisan:  An independent Kurdish state, based on ancient people-hood and an indigenous culture, buoyed by the existing Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, will be a victory for justice, a blessing for liberty, a defeat for Islamism and Arabism; and a sign that parts of the Middle East can still breathe the air of political freedom. The Kurds are a brave fighting people, an essential condition for survival in this part of the world. It is imperative for the United States to assist the Kurds everywhere and in all possible ways.

Gordon:  How significant has been the rise of Berber/Kabyle (Amazigh) ethnicity as a counterweight to Islamism in Northern Africa?

Nisan:  The ancient Berber/Kabyle people – Amazigh – yearns for freedom from the stifling and violent agents of Arabism and Islam in North Africa, from Libya to Morocco. In Algeria in particular, the distinct Kabyle community, embodied for example in the courageous voice of Ferhat Mehenni, is struggling to assert its secular cultural identity and aspiration for independence. Berber energies flourish in writings and demonstrations; political protest is in the air.

Gordon:  In light of Israeli opposition, how dangerous would Iran become in the Middle East given UN and international endorsement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for its nuclear program?

Nisan:  Three transparent sides to the Iranian triangular axis: the goal to acquire a nuclear capability, the technological capability to do so, and the demonic ambition to destroy Israel, conquer the Middle East, and spread militant Shiite Islam around the globe. If Iran is not stopped, further chaos and warfare – as in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq – will ensue. Sunni Islam, represented by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, is threatened and tested. This is a Middle East that for the days ahead lacks any coherent or stable model for political equilibrium.

Gordon:  Dr. Nisan thank you for this insightful and timely interview.

Nisan:  The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for inviting me.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. Also see Jerry Gordon’s collection of interviews, The West Speaks.

Egypt: Christian imprisoned for “blasphemy” for offering Bible to Muslim

“Rafaat said there is no such criminal charge as ‘evangelism’ under Egyptian law, and that handing out Bibles or even promoting Christianity does not constitute ‘defaming a revealed religion.’” But even though Sharia is not the law of the land in Egypt, its cultural influence remains, leading to incidents such as the persecution of Medhat Ishak. There are corrupt officials everywhere, and they usually present themselves as acting on the side of righteousness; post-Muslim Brotherhood Egypt is no exception.

“Christian in Egypt Kept in Prison on False Charge of ‘Blasphemy,’ Attorney Says,” Morning Star News, August 25, 2015:

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – An Egyptian Christian who was arrested earlier this month for alleged evangelizing of Muslims in suburban Cairo could be held indefinitely in prison on a false accusation of blasphemy, his lawyer said.

Medhat Ishak, a 35-year-old Christian from Ebid village in Minya Governorate, was arrested on Aug. 7 while handing out Bibles to Muslims outside El-Arab Mall in Sixth of October City. Mall security guards took Ishak into custody and then turned him over to national police, who accused him of evangelism.

The day after his arrest, a judge amended the charge against Ishak to “defamation of a revealed religion” and ordered him held for 15 days. On Monday (Aug. 24) the judge extended Ishak’s detention for another 15 days, said Ishak’s attorney, Rafik Rafaat.

He added that he suspects the judge will keep extending the detention order, in violation of Egyptian law, until the case falls out of the public eye, and then hand Ishak a prison sentence of one to five years.

Rafaat said there is no such criminal charge as “evangelism” under Egyptian law, and that handing out Bibles or even promoting Christianity does not constitute “defaming a revealed religion.”

“Inside the mall he met a young man, and he didn’t know if he was a Christian or not, and he offered him a copy of the Bible and told him he should take it to know God more,” Rafaat said. “So that young man told him that he was a Muslim and doesn’t read the Bible, and Medhat apologized and left.”

The young Muslim man, however, told Ishak, “I am not going to let you go,” and informed mall security that a man was evangelizing in the shopping complex, Rafaat said.

“The mall security called the SSI [the former State Security Investigations Service, now known as Egyptian Homeland Security] and told them that a man was evangelizing,” he said. “Then they arrested him and questioned him and found a few Bibles with him.”

The security officials took an official statement from the Muslim stating that Ishak was distributing Bibles inside the mall and produced other witnesses who said they saw Ishak handing out Bibles.

“The word ‘blasphemy’ means that he was insulting the other religion, but he didn’t do that, and he didn’t talk about Islam or prophets or anything like that to be accused of blasphemy,” Rafaat said. “So, now we are surprised that the attorney general accused him of blasphemy when he didn’t commit any act of blasphemy.”…

RELATED ARTICLE: Pakistan: Christian flood victims forced to convert to Islam, become slaves to Muslims or die

Islamic State Desecrates Christian Saint’s Tomb

Saint Elian, also known as Saint Julian of Emesa, was a Christian who was martyred in 284AD. But the Islamic State, over 1,800 years later, wants to make sure his bones don’t tempt anyone to idolatry.

More on this story. “ISIS dig up and desecrate saint’s bones after bulldozing 1,600-year-old Christian church,” by Nick Gutteridge, Express, August 21, 2015:

The twisted terror group today released a video showing its barbaric militants razing the ancient Mar Elian monastery to the ground, even digging up and desecrating the bones of a Christian saint.

There were reports that fighters had also kidnapped the monastery’s abbot, Father Jacques Mouraud and a church volunteer, Botros Hanna, who are both now feared dead.

Earlier this month ISIS abducted up to 250 Christians from the monastery and its surrounding villages, many of whom were women and children.

In the sick video the terrorists can be seen gleefully removing the remains of Saint Elian, after whom the monastery was named, from their ancient stone sarcophagus.

The church is said to have been built on the spot where Saint Elian died after he was killed by his father, a Roman officer, for refusing to denounce his faith.

It was a popular pilgrim site with Christians throughout the Middle East and housed Roman frescos which were amongst the oldest paintings in the region.

The monastery, near the Syrian city of Homs, had been renovated several times in recent years, including by Italian priest Paolo Dall’Oglio who was executed in Raqqa by ISIS forces in July 2013.

ISIS said that it bulldozed the church because it was dedicated to a God other than Allah.

The group has routinely kidnapped and executed Christians living in the Middle East as part of its ideological drive to create an Islamist caliphate.

Following the raid on Mr Elian in early August one Christian, called Kino, said: “It’s like living in this horrifying drama that never ends. People are completely afraid”.

“It [an ISIS attack] always happens so suddenly and the Church is never prepared. People are running around searching for their loved ones, and children…these are innocent people, not part of this war.

“He [the bishop] is crying – what is he supposed to do? All those clergy to last these three years in Syria and Iraq, my God are they heroes.”…

RELATED ARTICLE: Islamic State blows up temple in Syria’s Palmyra

Islamic State bulldozes 1,500-year-old Syrian Monastery

Besides removing supposed temptations to idolatry, Islamic jihadists want to destroy the artifacts of non-Muslim civilizations because doing so testifies to the truth of Islam, as the Qur’an suggests that the destroyed remnants of ancient non-Muslim civilizations are a sign of Allah’s punishment of those who rejected his truth:

Many were the Ways of Life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth. (Qur’an 3:137)

This is one of the foundations of the Islamic idea that pre-Islamic civilizations, and non-Islamic civilizations, are all jahiliyya — the society of unbelievers, which is worthless. Obviously this cuts against the idea of tourism of ancient sites and non-Muslim religious installations. V. S. Naipaul encountered this attitude in his travels through Muslim countries. For many Muslims, he observed in Among the Believers, “The time before Islam is a time of blackness: that is part of Muslim theology. History has to serve theology.” Naipaul recounted that some Pakistani Muslims, far from valuing the nation’s renowned archaeological site at Mohenjo Daro, saw its ruins as a teaching opportunity for Islam, recommending that Qur’an 3:137 be posted there as a teaching tool.

“Isis in Syria: 1,500-year-old Mar Elian monastery bulldozed by Islamic State in Qaryatain,” by Gianluca Mezzofiore, International Business Times, August 21, 2015 (thanks to David):

Islamic State (Isis) militants have bulldozed parts of the ancient monastery of Mar Elian in Qaryatain, a strategic town located in the central Syrian province of Homs which has been seized from forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad earlier this month. IS-linked Twitter accounts posted pictures of the destruction of the monastery, which was founded in 432 on the claimed spot of St. Elian’s death, for “worshipping a God other than Allah”.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), IS also transferred dozens of Assyrian Christians, who were kidnapped after the capture of Qaryatain, near its northern Syria de facto capital of Raqqa.

Mar Elian is also the place where priest Jacques Mourad was abducted back in May. Mourad was known to help both Christians and Muslims and was preparing aid for the arrival of hundreds of refugees from Palmyra….

The jihadist group captured Qaryatain, which lies south-west of Palmyra Roman ruins and 85km from Homs, after heavy clashes with regime forces. Then the group abducted about 230 Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholics. Of those captured, 48 have been released and 110 were transferred to Raqqa, according to SOHR. The Christians would be given the choice of conversion to Islam or paying “jizya”, a tax on non-Muslims.

Earlier in March, IS blew up part of the ancient monastery of Mar Behnam in Iraq near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh, south-east of Mosul. Photos released by IS members on social media show the 4th-century monastery’s tomb complex of Mar (Saint) Behnam and Mart (Saint) Sarah reduced to rubble.The monastery was also founded in the 4th century and built on the tomb of Berhnam and his sister Sarah, who were converted to Christianity by St Matthew. IS fighters stormed the monastery in July 2014 and expelled its resident monks.

“They’re doing this gradually. They scared the people away and now they’re destroying these people’s heritage. I don’t understand: why would you do that? Why destroy something it’s not yours?,” al-Jeloo said. “No palace, monastery, church, ruins is ours to destroy. It’s the world’s property. That’s why I’m concerned the world’s community is not doing enough to stop Isis.”

In March, an IS-linked Twitter account posted pictures of what appears to be jihadists smashing crosses and defacing statues, Christian murals and paintings at St George Chaldean Catholic monastery near Mosul. The monastery, located on the Ba’werah neighbourhood on a hill north of Mosul on the other side of the Tigris river, was founded by the Assyrian Church of the East in the 10th century but rebuilt as a seminary by the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1846.

Also in March, IS militants reportedly bulldozed the 2,000-year-old city of Hatra, and the Nimrud archaeological site near Mosul. On 26 February, the jihadist group published a video showing militants destroying artefacts in a Mosul museum and at the Nergal Gate to ancient Nineveh.

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UK: Muslim Convert to Christianity Persecuted for 19 Years

Nissar Hussain, a former Muslim from Pakistan who converted to Christianity in 1996, recently wrote a letter to his local MP recounting some of the violence, abuse, and other attacks that he and his wife and their six children have suffered at the hands of Muslims in the Bradford area where they live. Written to his MP—a Muslim, who did not respond—the letter follows:

Dear Naseem Shah MP,

Can I congratulate you on behalf of myself and family on your stunning victory and we can’t express our delight as our newly elected MP for the Ward of Manningham and wish you every success for the future. On a serious note can I express our utter misery and dire situation as Christian converts from a Mirpuri/Muslim background since 1996 [Mirpuri is a region in Pakistan].

We were forced out of our previous home after over several years of suffering as converts and in short my family and I endured ‘hell’ by my fellow Pakistani young men in the form of persecution which entailed assault, daily intimidation, criminal damage to property: smashing house windows and also 3 vehicles written off whilst the community looked on and even endorsed this. One of vehicles was torched outside my home. Despite witnessing another vehicle being rammed deliberately by a man who I knew, the Police did not even take a statement never mind an arrest. Finally after being threatened to be burnt out of my home these young men deliberately set the neighbours’ house (which was vacant) on fire in the hopes that our house would catch fire. When I had reported it to Police prior to this happening the Police sergeant’s response was: “Stop trying to be a crusader and move out!” In short the Police had wilfully failed us so as not to be labelled racists or seem to cause the Muslim community offence at our suffering and expense.

After being forced to move out in June 2006 we settled in St Paul’s Rd and set about rebuilding our lives, which was going well and had no issues and forged good relations with neighbours until we contributed in a Dispatches documentary called ‘Unholy War’ highlighting the plight of converts from Islam to Christianity in September 2008. Then our problems began, largely posed by the A. family who have been engaged on a campaign to drive us out our home given their bigoted attitude and thoroughly unscrupulous conduct and since last July they have embarked upon criminal damage to my vehicle to the point I have now had my vehicle windscreens smashed for the fourth occasion. The most recent incident occurred on 24 April when I had my vehicle smashed in the early hours of the morning and cannot express the financial impact also as I have to wait 3 weeks at a time for the glass to be ordered from the States as my vehicle is American. And again as in our previous experience the Pakistani community has looked on at our suffering and turned a blind eye whilst others have been openly hostile, while they enjoy freedom and liberty religious or otherwise whilst imposing their will rule and reign upon us and we are treated as second class citizens.

As a result of the latest criminal damage, and after weeks of having no car until it was repaired, I took the liberty of parking my vehicle away from outside my home for peace of mind, as given the misery over the last several years I have been diagnosed with PTSD and my wife and family also suffer stress and anxiety. When I went this morning to get my car I was mortified to discover that my car has been smashed deliberately yet again. Clearly we cannot go on living like this; … our lives have been sabotaged, we fear for our safety and suffer anxiety daily, not to mention the financial costs to all of this wanton criminal damage.

I cannot express in words the Police failure over the years which has led to our suffering and have no confidence in them whatsoever and am desperate for your help.

Kind regards,

Nissar Hussain

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Sister Hatune Dogan on Persecuted Christian Girls Under Islam

This week’s episode of The Glazov Gang was joined by Sister Hatune Dogan, a Syrian Orthodox nun taking care of persecuted Christians and refugees in Iraq and throughout the Islamic Middle East. Visit her site at Hatunefoundation.com.

Sister Hatune discussed taking care of Christian girls who have been maimed and mutilated by Islamic Jihad, why Islam wages war on Christians, women and all non-Muslims, how ISIS is Islam, the threats to her own life, and much, much more.

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EDITORS NOTE: The Glazov Gang is a fan-generated program, so please donate to keep it alive, subscribe to its YouTube channel and LIKE it on Facebook.