Monday, December 28, 2009

Islam & the Persecution of Christians

Why is Europe afraid of the "Muslim Invasion?" Perhaps mainly because Muslims nations rank poorest in the area of religious tolerance, and high on religious persecution. See yesterday's nytimes essay on the minaret, veil, and burqa problem in France. “Today in Europe the fear of Islam crystallizes all other fears. In Switzerland, it’s minarets. In France, it’s the veil, the burqa and the beard.”

I often read the Jerusalem Post online (the blessing of reading foreign newspapers online!). Today the JP has a very good essay on a Muslim who converted to Christianity in Egypt and was, consequentially, tortured for it. Majed El Shafie was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a prominent Muslim family of lawyers. Shafie converted to Christianity when he was 18. He says:

"During my years in law school in Alexandria the persecution of Christians was going on all around me and it made me wonder why it was happening. For the first time in my life I started to think about it. I started asking questions of my best friend Tamer, who was a Christian, and I started reading the Bible. I started making comparisons between the Bible and the Koran. And that's when I decided to convert to Christianity."

But converting from Islam to any other religion is dangerous if you live in a Muslim country. "Under Shari'a law such conversions are understood to be a capital offense - enforced by the death penalty in some states, and bringing about various abuses and vigilante tactics in others. Nonetheless, Shafie was outspoken about his new faith."

Shafie says:  "After I converted I wrote a book about the difference between Islam and Christianity which soon caused me to be arrested and imprisoned. There were three charges. The first charge was that I was trying to make a revolution against the Egyptian government. The second charge was that, because I was seeking equal rights for Christians, I was accused of trying to change the state religion to Christianity. The third charge was that I worshiped Jesus. So in fact I looked at the judge and I said, 'Guilty as charged.'"

Shafie was then imprisoned and tortured.  Read the whole, sad, engaging story in the Jerusalem Post here. See also Shafie's website, One Free World International, where Safie now lives in Toronto.

(I have had pastors from Egypt in my seminary classes who have personally told us of Muslim persecution against them in Egypt.)