The year 2015 will go down in memory as a period of unprecedented Christian persecution throughout the world, resulting in thousands of deaths along with continuous targeted acts of violence and terror.
In October, a mob of 700, instigated by the Islamic Defenders Front, marched on government offices in Aceh Singkil, Indonesia, and from there went on to torch the Indonesian Christian Church.
The mob later circulated a message that read: “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”
This act was just one among many but is emblematic in the clarity of its stated motivation and determination.
Taking only the specifically targeted acts of terrorism on Christians by religious Muslims during 2015, not including the countless acts of war, combat, or insurgency, the numbers are staggering. A partial list of attacks on Christian civilians who were singled out solely on account of their faith reveals 95 distinct assaults during the course of the year, resulting in 881 deaths and 990 injuries.
Some of these received a fair amount of media attention, such as the videotaped Valentine’s Day slaughter in Libya of twenty-one Coptic Christians who were abducted by Islamists, forced to their knees, and then beheaded. Another was the wholesale massacre of 148 Christians in cold blood by a handful of devout Muslims at a Christian college in Garissa, Kenya, after Muslims at the school had first been separated out.
Many other anti-Christian terror attacks, however, received little attention, seen by many as just the cost of being a Christian in majority Muslim countries.
In February, for instance, Islamic State militants took fifteen Christians hostage and later executed them in the Syrian village of al-Masamier, including a woman who was beheaded.
In April, Muslims threw a dozen Christians to their deaths from a refugee boat crossing the Strait of Sicily from Libya.
In early May, Muslim herdsmen shot seventeen Christians to death in the Nigerian village of Vat.
In August, ISIS soldiers tortured and murdered 12 Christians for refusing to embrace Islam. They chopped off the fingers of a 12-year-old boy, raped three women, and crucified three others outside of Aleppo.
Because of such targeted persecution, reports now suggest that Christianity risks ceasing to be a truly global faith because of the exodus of believers from large swaths of the Middle East and Africa, in an attempt to escape violence.
“Christians are fast disappearing from entire regions – most notably a huge chunk of the Middle East but also whole dioceses in Africa. In large part, this migration is the product of an ethnic cleansing motivated by religious hatred,” says the report “Persecuted and Forgotten?” published by the Christian relief group, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
As 2016 begins, a good New Year’s resolution for the West may be to start paying attention to the plight of Christians throughout the world at the hands of radical Islam and seriously committing to taking the necessary measures to oppose it.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome