They Cry in Silence Nov/Dec 2009
Think of the plight of a partially paralyzed 80-year-old Christian and his wife, Hanifa, 73, who were unable to flee their town in northeastern Pakistan as hundreds of Muslim radicals went on a Christian-killing spree. Stirred up by clergy from the local mosque, the Muslims ran amuck, looting and burning homes and murdering believers in Jesus.
“Our house is burnt and everything is gone,” said husband Baba Sharif Masih. During the melee, every Christian in the neighborhood was forced to run for his or her life. Compass Direct News reported that, in the aftermath of the August attacks, the only Christians left in the village were the Masihs, who were too infirm to flee. With their home destroyed and no Christian family or friends to come to their aid, they appealed to Muslim neighbors for assistance. But the appeals fell on deaf ears. “Muslim neighbors around are not willing to give us a loaf of bread or a sip of water,” he said.
It is difficult for those of us who live in a free society to imagine the scope of persecution against Christians in other countries. That these heinous crimes are so easily carried out within nations that profess fast friendship with America would be bewildering except for the fact that most American politicians and journalists are deaf, dumb, and blind when persecution of Christians is the story.
All too often the news media calls such Muslim aggression “Christian and Muslim rioting,” as it did recently in Pakistan when Muslims set fire to 50 Christian homes and fanatically murdered believers in Jesus. Christians like the Masihs are not statistics in an isolated, tit-for-tat religious ruckus. They are victims of premeditated attacks that are becoming standard fare in many countries. Here is the usual scenario:
- A bogus accusation of blasphemy or desecration of the Qur’an is circulated.
- The charge is taken to Islamic clergy at the nearest mosque where loudspeakers call Muslims to react to the allegation.
- Mobs gather and begin to attack the alleged offenders.
- The mobs burn and loot Christian homes and churches.
- Christians who escape death are forced to flee.
- The authorities do almost nothing.
This was the precise pattern in last summer’s attacks in northeastern Pakistan where Islamic extremists set ablaze more than 50 houses and a church after accusing Christians of blaspheming the Qur’an. Compass Direct reported at least 14 Christians died, including women and children.
In a number of nearby communities, out-of-control mobs overran police who attempted to restrict access to the towns under attack, and another 60 homes were torched and two churches ransacked. Crowd control became impossible as clerics in the mosques continued broadcasting inflammatory calls to action. “[Those] who love Muhammad and Islam,” they called out, “should gather…to defend Islam because it is in danger.”
Later, after the homes were destroyed and the Christians killed, an initial investigation reportedly concluded, “There has not been any incident of desecration.”
These episodes should serve as a warning to believers everywhere. Whether they will, however, is highly questionable. Meanwhile, people like the Masihs—Christians just like those sitting beside us in the pews—continue to suffer.