An item from 2014 by historian and Middle East and Islam specialist Raymond Ibrahim:
The Existential Elephant in the ‘Christian Persecution’ Room
Open Doors USA recently released its widely cited 2014 World Watch List—a report that highlights and ranks the 50 worst nations around the globe persecuting Christians.
The one glaring fact that emerges from this report is that the overwhelming majority of Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures, and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America’s allies (Saudi Arabia) and its enemies (Iran); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar) and from poor nations (Somalia and Yemen); Muslims from “Islamic republic” nations (Afghanistan) and from “moderate” nations (Malaysia and Indonesia); Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait) and Muslims claiming “grievances” against America (fill in the blank __).
A common denominator, a pattern, exists, one that is even more extensive than Open Doors implies. According to that organization’s communications director, Emily Fuentes, “of the 50 worst nations for persecution, 37 of them are Muslim,” or 74%.
In fact, while this number suggests that the other 13 countries making the top 50 are not Muslim—for example Kenya and Ethiopia—those doing the persecution there are.
In other words, those persecuting Christians in 41 of 50 nations are Muslims; that is, a whopping 82% of all persecution around the globe is being committed by the adherents of Islam—sometimes in Christian majority nations; for example, the Central African Republic which, after the 2013 Islamic takeover, now ranks #16, “severe persecution” (the Christian-majority nation did not even appear in the previous year’s top 50).
As for the top ten absolute worst nations, where, according to the 2014 World Watch List, Christians suffer “extreme persecution,” nine—that is, 90%—are Muslim. (Indeed, Open Doors’ global map of Christian persecution can easily be confused with a global map of the Islamic world, with the exception of China (ranked 37, “moderate persecution”) and some sporadic countries dominated by crime and godless tyranny, Colombia, North Korea, etc.)
Still, considering that the 2014 World Watch List ranks North Korea—non-Islamic, communist—as the number one worst persecutor of Christians, why belabor the religious identity of Muslims?
Here we come to some critically important but blurred distinctions.
While Christians are indeed suffering extreme persecution in North Korea, these fall into the realm of the temporal, the aberrant, even. Something as simple as overthrowing the North Korean regime would likely end persecution there almost overnight—just as the fall of Communist Soviet Union saw religious persecution come to a quick close.
In the Islamic world, however, a similar scenario would not alleviate the sufferings of Christians by an iota. Quite the opposite; where dictators fall—Saddam in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt, Qaddafi in Libya, and ongoing attempts to oust Assad in Syria—Christian persecution rises.
The reason for this dichotomy is that Christian persecution by non-Muslims (mostly communists) is often rooted to a temporal regime or ideology. Conversely, Muslim persecution of Christians is perennial, existential, and far transcends this or that regime or ruler. It is part and parcel of the history, doctrines, and socio-political makeup of Islam—hence its tenacity; hence its ubiquity.
Muslim persecution of Christians exists in 41 nations today as part of a continuum that started nearly 14 centuries ago. As I document in , the very same patterns of Christian persecution prevalent throughout the Muslim world today are often identical to those from centuries past. The facts speak for themselves.