Anousheh Reza-Bakhsh and her son Soheil Zagarzadeh Sani were arrested by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard during a raid on their house. Their only crime was converting from Islam to Christianity. The authorities confiscated all of their Christianity-related items. The Iranian authorities moved the prisoners to an undisclosed location, and their fate may well never be known.
Their experience is but one of the many incidents that routinely take place in Iran and other Islamic nations. In part II of this series, we exposed the mainstream media’s reluctance to acknowledge the Christian genocide for what it truly is: refusal to publish anything that doesn’t promote their leftist agenda. To the liberal left, the suffering of millions globally is less important than presenting radical Islam as peaceful – so long as those suffering are Christians.
Christians around the world do suffer. They suffer imprisonment, loss of property, and violence. They are forced to live in fear that today might be the day they are arrested and killed for their faith. According to Open Doors USA, every month:
- Three hundred twenty-two Christians die for their faith.
- Two hundred fourteen churches or other Christian properties are destroyed.
- Seven hundred seventy-two acts of violence are committed against Christians.
These figures represent an average month. Last year, over nine hundred thousand Christians were murdered for their faith, making Christianity the most persecuted religion in the world. Open Doors USA identifies Christian persecution as:
Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes, and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.
Terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) are responsible for much of this persecution, and routinely seek out and brutalize Christians in countries like Syria and Iraq. Christian believers in these areas are often tortured, beaten and beheaded. Those who are lucky enough to escape are left homeless and in search of refuge. CBS News’s Lara Logan reported on the displacement of Iraqi Christians at the hands of ISIS militants:
Some 30,000 Christians were living in Erbil before this crisis, most of them Chaldean Catholics, who follow their ancient traditions but recognize the authority of the pope. Bashar Warda is the archbishop of this diocese. He says his congregation has swelled by more than 60,000 refugees…as Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in the north of Iraq, has become a safe haven for Christians fleeing the Islamic state.
In ISIS-held territories, Christians live with the horrors of kidnappings, thefts, rapes, and executions. In many places, however, the government itself commits the crimes against Christians. These governments institute laws against Christian worship, but their officials also turn a blind eye to criminals and terrorists within the country who victimize and prey upon those who believe in Christ instead of Mohammed. Like Anousheh Reza-Bakhsh and her son, Christians in Muslim-controlled countries such as Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and Afghanistan must strive to keep their faith a secret. The New York Times interviewed an Iranian refugee who wished to remain anonymous:
“When you’re Christian in Iran, you can’t speak. You have to keep quiet and not talk about the truth that you know and that you believe in,” he told me. “There is no such thing as a comfortable life in Iran.”
Western Christians may never face the level of persecution that Christians in the Muslim world live with daily. Under Islamic rule, Christians – especially former Muslims who converted to Christianity – are seen as criminals. The Calvin College newspaper “Chimes” explains:
The World Christian Database counted 66,000 Protestants in Iran in 2010. Open Doors, a nondenominational organization tracking Christian persecution, estimates that Iran has 370,000 “new Christians from a Muslim background.” In the last decade, televised proselytizing, often by ministers from the Iranian Diaspora, has fueled the rise of Evangelical Christianity. Tehran’s ruling ayatollahs see the trend as foreign meddling meant to undermine the regime. Under Shariah law, defecting from Islam is not only a sin: it is a criminal offense.
It is clear that the objective of radical Islam is to kill or convert as many Christians and Jews as possible. Those who refuse to convert and – for whatever reason – aren’t killed end up as second-class citizens living under the brutal yoke of the Islamists who hate them. Christianity has become the target of a gradual holocaust, yet the Western world remains largely unaware. The establishment media doesn’t care about Christians facing persecution from Muslims. The story doesn’t fit with their leftist narrative and therefore doesn’t make the news. If anything, the liberal media acts as apologists for radical Islamists.
To fight the genocide, Christians across the world must band together and raise a resounding clamor until the world stops to listen. Much of the world does not care that Christians are slaughtered for their faith, but if Christians remain silent, those who would care will never know. Just as we fought to defend the Jews as they suffered Hitler’s “Final Solution,” we must fight today for the Christians who are facing the same fate – albeit at a slower pace – simply for believing in Jesus Christ as Savior.