They Cry in Silence Jan/Feb 2010

On October 27, Reuters reported that Somali pirates captured a British couple sailing in the Indian Ocean. The Britons, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were taken to Somalia and held for ransom. The incident drew international attention, and public officials expressed outrage at the seizure and ransom demands and insisted on the Chandlers’ immediate release.

The same day, October 27, Compass Direct News reported that Muslims murdered a Christian Somali woman, Amina Muse Ali, 45, because she refused to wear a veil, as required by Islam. According to a Christian source in Somalia, the hit squad belonged to a group reputed to be comparatively “moderate.”

Compass Direct said Amina told Christian leaders she had received threats for not wearing the covering. She also said the group, Suna Waljameca, had long monitored her movements because of suspicions that she was, in fact, a Christian. On October 4, Amina called someone saying, “My life is in danger. I am warned of dire consequences if I continue to live without putting on a veil.”

The person she called told Compass Direct, “I was shocked beyond words when I received the news that she had been shot dead. I wished that I could have recalled her to my location. We have lost a long-serving Christian.”

Amina’s death follows a string of murders of Somali Christians by Islamist extremists. Mariam Muhina Hussein was shot to death after Muslims discovered she possessed six Bibles. On September 16, radicals shot Omar Khalafe, 69, at a checkpoint in southern Somalia. In August extremists seeking evidence that a Somali man had converted from Islam to Christianity murdered him near Somali’s border with Kenya. On July 20, Islamists murdered another convert from Islam, Mohammed Sheikh Abdiraman. All these murders took place after Muslims had beheaded seven Christians on July 10.

These facts illustrate, in a stark and disturbing fashion, the grim realities Christians face in this world. The international community was concerned, legitimately, over the Chandlers’ kidnapping. But it took no notice of, or even acknowledged, the slaughter of believers in the same area.

As far as the news media and most public officials are concerned, Christians don’t count. If they are noticed at all, it is only with the conclusion that they are expendable. To make matters worse, much of the silence about Christian persecution seems to come from government leaders and journalists who are more concerned about not offending the perpetrators than speaking out for the afflicted.

We often question, with good reason, why members of the Muslim community who are billed as moderates and peace-loving refuse to denounce or root out the radicals they claim have hijacked their religion. But we might ask ourselves a comparable question: Why are so few Christians speaking up and reaching out to the persecuted in their times of anguish and suffering? It seems the least we could do is become informed and more unified and specific in our prayers for our brethren in other countries.

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