Radical Islam's Existential Threat to Christianity Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
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Middle Eastern Christians have endured a long and violent history at the hands of radical Muslims.
At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 20 percent of the population in the Middle East. Today, that number is only 3-5 percent.
"Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa," says the Pew Research Center's Katayoun Kishi.
By 2050, it is estimated Christians will compose 3 percent or less of the population of the Middle East with Muslims becoming 94%.
Middle East specialist and author Raymond Ibrahim argues that "for centuries Islam has been literally and figuratively erasing Christianity."
He points to a recent discovery by French scholar Dr Eléonore Cellard of an eighth-century manuscript of the Qur'an, which was written over a copy of the Old Testament.
Cellard noticed that behind the Arabic writing of the Qur'an were faint Coptic letters from Deuteronomy.
"This is a very important discovery for the history of the Qur'an and early Islam. We have here a witness of cultural interactions between different religious communities," Cellard told The Guardian.
Ibrahim argues those cultural interactions were persecution.
"What is euphemistically referred to as 'cultural interactions between different religious communities' and 'the contact between communities in the first centuries of Islam' is a reference to the near cultural annihilation of Coptic Christian civilization by Islam on the former's own homeland," he writes.
John Nikiu, a Coptic bishop who was eyewitness to the Muslim invasion of Egypt in the seventh century, said Egypt's Muslim conquerors viewed "the servants of Christ as enemies of Allah" and gave detailed accounts of Christian persecution at the hands of radical Muslims.
Nikiu concludes his bloody account by saying, "But let us now say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed."
Ibrahim points to other Coptic chroniclers who also described the events.
"The dead were cast out into the streets and market-places, like fish which the water throws up on the land, because they found none to bury them; and some of the people devoured human flesh" from starvation, writes the chronicler Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa (d.987).
Ibrahim documents the persecution of Egyptian Christians centuries ago in a new book, Sword and Schimitar.
That persecution continues today.
Over the last 30 years, more than one million Coptic Christians have left Egypt due to widespread attacks, church bombings, and kidnappings at the hands to radical Muslims.
The same is true for many Christians and other religious minorities in the region.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released in its 2018 Annual Report that 16 countries are "of particular concern for religious freedom violations. Most of them are majority Muslim countries.
"Sadly, religious freedom conditions deteriorated in many countries in 2017, often due to increasing authoritarianism or under the guise of countering terrorism," said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. "Yet there is also reason for optimism 20 years after the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act. The importance of this foundational right is appreciated more now than ever, and egregious violations are less likely to go unnoticed."
Many activist groups including Open Doors USA and In Defense of Christians are working around the clock to make sure those violations do not go unnoticed.
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