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'It Is the Church that Is Under Attack': The Persecution of Christians, October 2023 - 24.11.23

by Raymond Ibrahim for The Gatestone Institute.

"These rapes are unfortunately customary and serve a specific purpose. It is believed that once no longer a virgin, a girl would become unsuitable for marriage, even if she belongs to a religious minority, and her only choice would be to marry one of her captors. Mishal was then forcibly converted to Islam and married to one of the kidnappers." –, October 24, 2023, Pakistan.

"Some cases do land in courts. But it is not easy for the victims to win them. Sometimes, the victims are treated as if they were the perpetrators...." --, October 24, 2023, Pakistan.

"As we returned back to our grass-thatched roof house, we found some of the debris around the house. On entering the house, we found there was a threatening message, 'Today if we find you around, we shall destroy you with the house. You have become an embarrassment to our Muslim family by joining a wrong religion.'" –, October 4, 2023, Uganda.

Regrettably, this scenario—a fire claims Christian lives, only for Muslim authorities to say it was "accidental"—has played out many times in the Middle East.

On October 17, "suspected Islamic terrorists" murdered three Christians — a Ugandan tour guide and a European couple — in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, on the accusation that they were "supporting Christians in Uganda and coming in the name of tourists."

The following are among the abuses and murders inflicted on Christians by Muslims throughout the month of October 2023.

The Sexual Abuse and Forced Conversion of Christians

Pakistan: Three Muslim men abducted and violently gang-raped a 16-year-old Christian girl, Persis Masih, on her way to Sunday church service. The girl's father, a pastor, and most of the family had left early for church, while Persis continued to get ready. She never appeared at church and was not home when they returned. After immediately filing a report with police, "the family spent a sleepless night contacting relatives in the hope of finding Persis," according to the Oct. 1 report. Eventually,

"[T]he family heard Persis moaning for help outside their gate. The culprits, realizing the severity of her condition, had callously dropped her off. Supported by her elder brother Yessi Masih, Persis was brought inside the house, her physical and emotional state in shambles... [After rushing her to a hospital, the] medical examination revealed the horrifying truth—Persis had been gang-raped. Despite the trauma, she bravely identified one of the perpetrators, Muhammad Atif, thanks to the assistance of the local police and CCTV footage."

Police acted quickly and arrested Atif before he fled the region. After commending police for this uncharacteristic move—police in Pakistan are notorious for turning a blind eye to the persecution of Christians—a local reporter, Aliyas Wattu, remarked that, "Persis was also beaten, and she bears visible marks of violence on her body." The report concludes that "Persis' suffering did not end with the assault; she bore visible marks of violence. The family, already grappling with the emotional toll, faces an arduous journey towards justice."

In a separate incident, "a gang of armed robbers subjected two Christian women to sexual assault at gunpoint while keeping the men tied up and confined to a room." According to the report, "This nightmarish event occurred in the early hours of September 14th." Shortly after midnight, when the entire family was asleep, six men quietly broke into the Christian household. The father, Intezar Masih, his wife Rani (41), his sister Farzana (36), and children were, "to their sheer horror," rudely awakened to find themselves "encircled by six masked men brandishing firearms."

According to Intezar, "We were warned not to make any noise, as the armed robbers were armed with pistols and heavy guns." Two of the men held the family hostage, as the other four ransacked the house, "looting everything they could lay their hands on." Then they took Intezar and his children to a separate room: "Two of the robbers," he said, "forcibly dragged me by my shoulder, took the children inside the room, beat me severely, and eventually tied me up with a rope before departing."

"The children and their patriarch were left bound and confined to the room, while Rani Bibi (41 years old) was taken to another room, where she cried out for mercy while enduring horrific sexual assaults by two of the men. Simultaneously, two other assailants took Farzana Bibi into a separate room, where she became the victim of sexual assault at gunpoint.

"After this horrendous ordeal, Rani Bibi was brought back to the veranda, only to be taken to Mr. Masih's welding workshop, where the remaining robbers subjected her to further sexual violence. The criminals left the family in a state of utter pain, trauma, and fear, warning them of dire consequences if they attempted to pursue them or contact the police...."

Discussing this incident, Juliet Chowdhry, of the British Asian Christian Association, said:

"As the sole Christian family in the area, it appears that this crime targeted them due to their vulnerability and the sense of impunity that perpetrators often feel when targeting marginalized communities."

Finally, a separate Oct. 24 report documents other previous cases of abduction, rape, and forced conversion of Christian girls. In one, Mishal, a 15-year-old Christian girl was "abducted at gunpoint," then "gang-raped by four men":

"These rapes are unfortunately customary and serve a specific purpose. It is believed that once no longer a virgin, a girl would become unsuitable for marriage, even if she belongs to a religious minority, and her only choice would be to marry one of her captors. Mishal was then forcibly converted to Islam and married to one of the kidnappers."

Six months later, when her abductors were distracted with a funeral, Mishal managed to escape and return to her father's home. But when she and her father went to report the kidnappers and rapists to police, "Not only did the officers refuse to investigate, but they also informed Mishal's captors of what was going on. The girl and her father had to go into hiding for fear of being killed."

After pointing out that "Christian and Hindu girls continue to be abducted, raped, forcibly converted to Islam, and married to Muslim men in Pakistan," the report adds:

"This obnoxious practice would not prosper without some complicity by police and courts of law. Some cases do land in courts. But it is not easy for the victims to win them. Sometimes, the victims are treated as if they were the perpetrators.... Meanwhile, the business of kidnapping minority religion girls continues. The whereabouts of another Christian girl, Tabita, daughter of Razzak Mashi, kidnapped by four men on September 29, are still unknown. Her case was reported to the police on October 5, together with a birth certificate proving she is twelve years old, as her captors will probably claim, as usual, [that] she is really 18. Whether the police will do anything about Tabita is a different question."

Nigeria: Muslims, including college personnel, abducted and forcibly converted Dorcas, a 20-year-old Christian college student to Islam. According to Campus Mission Watch, a Christian watchdog group, during a brief communication with her parents,

"Miss Dorcas told her parents that she was taken to an imam's house, the imam of Sultan Bello Mosque, in the city of Kaduna, where she was kept against her will and threatened not to disclose that she was coerced into embracing Islam, before being brought back to campus.

She also told her parents that one Muslim woman, Mallama Amina, an academic staff in the Department of Biochemistry, was appointed as her godmother, who facilitated her forceful conversion to Islam through the renouncing of Christianity and the recitation of Kalma Sha'ada, the Islamic creed.... Dorcas remains with the Muslim leaders and has not been allowed to have any contact with her parents or other Christians on campus. This development has created fear in Christians on KASU campus, forcing some to want to leave."

Campus Mission Watch added that a well-financed campus group called the Council of Muslim Sisters, which is supported by Muslim leaders in Kaduna state and the Muslim-controlled state government, has implemented a plan to forcibly convert Christians to Islam:

"This group is made up of highly placed and influential female staff in the university. Some of them are professors, directors, senior lecturers from academic and non-academic cadres. They are well coordinated and professionally structured. They have agents at the top management level, directorate levels, faculty levels, department levels, and even at the Student Union levels."

For the full eleven page article, please click here or click on the link below for a copy of the pdf file:

It Is the Church that Is Under Attack The Persecution of Christians, October 2023 - by Ray
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Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West, Sword and Scimitar, Crucified Again, andThe Al Qaeda Reader, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

About this Series

While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by extremists is growing. The report posits that such persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location. It includes incidents that take place during, or are reported on, any given month.

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Pictured: Crater Lake in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. (image source: Robert Weinkove/Wikimedia Commons)

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