This past Christmas saw an uptick in attacks on Christians - notably with the horrific truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 dead and injured more than 60, as well as the bombing of a church in Cairo that killed 27. But, writes Gatestone Institute's Raymond Ibrahim in his ongoing series on persucution against Christians, these are not isolate incidents. Such violence is on the rise, making Christians among the most persecuted of believers worldwide:
As in previous years, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Islamic attacks on Christians — much of it in the context of targeting Christmas festivities and worship.
The one that claimed the most lives took place in Egypt. On Sunday, December 11, 2016, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself, killed at least 27 worshippers, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 70. A witness said:
"I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene. I saw a headless woman being carried away. Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people's flesh off the floor. There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes."
The death toll and severity of the attack (pictures and videos of the aftermath here) surpassed even the New Year's Day bombing of an Alexandrian church in which 23 people were killed in 2011. A few weeks before the St. Peter's bombing, a man hurled an improvised bomb at St. George Church, packed with thousands of worshippers, in Samalout. Had the bomb detonated, casualties would likely have been higher. In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate — including "you will die Christians" — were painted on the floor of the Virgin Mary church in Damietta.
In Germany, Anis Amri, a Muslim asylum seeker from Tunisia, seized a large truck, murdered its driver, and pushed him onto the passenger seat, then drove the truck into a Christmas market in Berlin. Twelve shoppers were killed and 65 were injured, some severely. Four days later, Amri was killed in a shootout with police near Milan. ISIS claimed responsibility despite original reports claiming the man had no ties to Islamic terror groups...
In the Philippines, as Christians were celebrating Christmas Eve Mass in a Catholic church in Mindanao, a grenade exploded by the entrance. Sixteen people were wounded. According to the report, "No group has claimed responsibility for the Mindanao attack, but Muslim rebels and Islamist extremists are known to be active in the province, where there have been blasts in the past."
On Christmas Day in Cameroon, an Islamic suicide bomber targeting Christians killed a young student and a woman, and injured five others, in an attack on a market full of Christmas shoppers in Mora. Authorities said the bomber, who also died in the attack, was from the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, based in neighboring Nigeria. They also said that the casualties would have been much higher had a "vigilance committee" not spotted the jihadi, who was pretending to be a beggar, and prevented him from entering the crowded market.
During Christmas weekend in Baghdad, Iraq, two Christian shops were attacked with gunfire. Three were confirmed dead; local activists say as many as nine were killed. The shops were presumably targeted for carrying alcohol. "What a bloody gift they gave us for Christmas," Joseph Warda, a human rights activist, said...