Muslims Celebrating Easter

Why Easter Brings Out the Worst in Islam

APRIL 17, 2017 9:27 AM
BY RAYMOND IBRAHIM

Why are some Christians murdered and many more terrorized in the name of Islam every Easter holiday?

This year’s most notable attack occurred in Egypt, where two Coptic Christian churches were bombed during Palm Sunday mass, leaving 50 dead and 120 injured.

While this incident received some coverage in Western media, attacks on churches in Egypt on or around Easter are not uncommon. For instance, this last April 12, just two days after the Palm Sunday attacks, authorities thwarted another Islamic terror attack targeting a Coptic monastery in Upper Egypt. Similarly, on April 12, 2015, Easter Sunday, two explosions targeting two separate churches took place in Egypt. Although no casualties were reported, hence no reporting in Western media, large numbers could easily have resulted, based on precedent (for example, on January 1, 2011, as Egypt’s Christians ushered in the New Year — another Christian holiday for Orthodox communities — car bombs went off near the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, resulting in 23 dead worshippers and dozens critically injured).

Less spectacular but no less telling, after 45 years of waiting, the Christians of Nag Shenouda, Egypt,  finally got a permit to build a church; local Muslims responded by rioting and even burning down the temporary tent the Copts had erected to worship under (a different incident from this similar one). Denied, the Christians of Nag Shenouda celebrated Easter in the street, to Muslims jeers and sneers (picture here).

While almost anything can provoke Muslims around the world to attack churches, there is a reason that the animus can reach a fever pitch during Easter: more than any other Christian holiday, Resurrection Sunday commemorates and celebrates three central Christian doctrines that Islam manifestly rejects: that Christ was crucified and died; that he was resurrected; and that by especial virtue of the latter, he is the Son of God. As Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Bir, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s mufti said in 2013, Muslims must not commend Christians during Easter, for that holiday “contradicts and clashes with Islamic doctrine and contradicts with our doctrines unlike Christmas.”

From here the carnage makes sense. Thus on Easter Sunday, 2016, another Islamic suicide bombing took place near the children rides of a public park in Pakistan, where Christians were known to be congregated and celebrating. Some 70 people — mostly women and children — were killed and nearly 400 injured. Something similar was in store for Pakistan this year, 2017, as officials foiled a “major terrorist attack” targeting Christians on Easter Sunday.

Celebrating Easter is an especially dangerous affair in Muslim-majority regions of Nigeria: a church was burned down on Easter Sunday, 2014, leaving 150 dead; another church was bombed on Easter Sunday, 2012, leaving some 50 worshippers dead; Muslim herdsmen launched a series of raids during Easter week, 2013, killing at least 80 Christians — mostly children and the elderly; additionally, over 200 Christian homes were destroyed, eight churches burned, and 4,500 Christians displaced.

As Islam’s presence continues to grow in Europe, and in accordance with Islam’s Rule of Numbers, Easter-related attacks are also growing. According to one report, “the terror cell that struck in Brussels [in March, 2016, killing 34] was planning to massacre worshippers at Easter church services across Europe, including Britain.” In Scotland, 2016, a Muslim man stabbed another Muslim man to death for wishing Christians a Good Friday and Happy Easter. And if an al-Qaeda terror plot targeting Easter shoppers in the UK was not thwarted, “it would almost certainly have been Britain’s worst terrorist attack, with the potential to cause more deaths than the suicide attacks of July 7, 2005, when 52 people were murdered.”

One can go on and on:

•    The day before Good Friday, 2015, Muslim jihadis raided a Kenyan university and massacred 147; along with the fact that they tried to distinguish between Muslim and Christian students in order to kill only the latter, that they taunted those whom they slaughtered by mockingly saying things such as “This will be a good Easter holiday for us” placed their animus in the context of the Christian holiday.

•    In Iran, Easter Sunday, 2012, saw 12 Christians stand trial as “apostates”; authorities raided an Easter service in a house-church in 2014, arresting and hauling off all those in attendance; and in 2015, various churches were banned from celebrating Easter Sunday altogether.

•    On Easter Sunday, 2015, the Islamic State destroyed the Virgin Mary Church in Tel Nasri, an ancient Christian region in northeast Syria. After Islamic rebels fired rockets at a Christian neighborhood right before that same Easter, 2015, killing approximately 40, a woman lamented how  “Our Easter feast has turned to grief.”

•    In 2015, Muslims attacked a Catholic village in Bangladesh as it celebrated Easter; they stabbed its priest, destroyed Bibles, crosses, holy pictures, musical instruments and homes, and slaughtered goats and chickens.

•    In Turkey, a pastor was beaten by Muslims immediately following Easter service and threatened with death unless he converted to Islam.

•    According to an AP report from 2013, “Iraq’s Catholic Christians flocked to churches to celebrate Easter Sunday, praying, singing and rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ,” but only “behind high blast walls and tight security cordons.”

Of course, while Resurrection Sunday has the capacity to offend — and thus bring out the worst in some — Muslims more than any other Christian holy day, one should be careful not to attribute too much doctrinal nitpicking to the assailants. After all, Muslims have bombed and burned Christian churches on other holidays — a Cairo church was bombed leaving 27 dead before last Christmas — and no holidays at all. (See here for Christmas 2016, here for Christmas 2015, and here for Christmas 2014 for dozens of anecdotes of Muslim violence against and slaughter of Christians in the context of Christmas.)

In short, whatever the holiday, growing numbers of Muslims appear to agree with the view voiced by one Egyptian cleric that “Christian worship is worse than murder and bloodshed” — meaning, shedding the blood of Christians and murdering them is preferable to allowing them to flaunt their opposition to Muhammad’s teachings, as they naturally do every Sunday in church. Only more doctrinally attuned Muslims, who are in the minority, save their attacks for that one day of the year that so flagrantly defies Islam: Resurrection Sunday.


Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens, Mostly Women, Kids Celebrating Easter in Pakistan Park


by MUSHTAQ YUSUFZAI

NBC News
3-27-2016

At least 63 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a children's park in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province on Sunday evening, officials said.


"A large number of people, majority of them women and children, were present in ‎Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore when the suicide bomber blew himself up. Mostly women and children are killed and injured in the blast," Said Lahore Police Chief Dr. Haider Ashraf.


The police chief said there was an unusual rush of the people in the park due to the weekend and Easter. He said a large number of Christian community celebrating the holy day were present in the park.


"Most of the dead and injured are women and children," said Mustansar Feroz, the police superintendent for the area in which the park is located.


Police officials said they had recovered the body of the suicide bomber. ‎He seems to be between 25 and 30 years old, he said.


A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), headed by Maulvi Omar Khalid Khurasani claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Lahore.


The group spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, called NBC News from an undisclosed location while using an Afghan cell number and said they carried out the attack.


"Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target," the spokesman said.


Asked if women and children were their target as most of those killed in the blast included women and children, the Taliban spokesman said they were not on their list.


"We didn't want to kill women and children. Our targets were male members of the Christian community," Ehsan said. He said this was the first of series of ‎attacks they had planned this year in different parts of the country.


Punjab Health Minister Salman ‎Rafique said they had declared emergency in all the hospitals of Lahore city to better handle the injured.


"We are in a state of emergency. All the hospitals are under emergency. All ambulances had been called to site of the blast as a large number of people, the majority of them women and children are injured," the health minister said.


Media footage showed children and women crying and screaming and rescue officials, police and bystanders carrying injured people to ambulances and private cars.


Punjab Chief Minister, Shabaz Sharif later announced a three-day mourning in the province.


In 2014, Pakistan launched an offensive against Taliban and affiliated jihadist fighters in North Waziristan, seeking to deprive them of safe havens from which to launch attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Punjab has traditionally been more peaceful than other parts of Pakistan. Sharif's opponents have accused him of tolerating militancy in return for peace in his province, a charge he strongly denies.


Last year, a bomb killed a popular Pakistani provincial minister and at least eight others when it destroyed the minister's home in Punjab.



Syria Orthodox Easter marred by bishops in captivity

03 MAY 2013

AFP - Syria's Greek Orthodox faithful bore a heavy cross on Friday as they marked the crucifixion of Christ, their country ravaged by two years of war and two of their bishops missing after being kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

Good Friday is a day when even the least pious tend to join in its solemn prayers and processions, but churches in Syria's capital, no longer safe from car bombings and mortar attacks, are unlikely to be full this year.

That was already the case on Holy Thursday, when streets leading to churches were blocked off and security forces out in numbers to protect the places of worship that one resident said were only sparsely visited.

"I won't dare go to church tonight," sighs Shaza, a mother who lives in the predominantly Christian and Druze neighbourhood of Jaramana, lamenting that her children will miss the traditional parade by Scouts, which has been cancelled.

Yussef, a 30-year-old who lives in the Tijara neighbourhood, said the "violence doesn't stop. At dawn this morning I heard a loud explosion... It was the jet fuel depot at Damascus airport that was burning."

Yussef was speaking just three days after a bomb blast in central Damascus killed at least 13 people and four days after Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi narrowly survived a car bomb that targeted him.

As the war between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust the president gains pace, Orthodox in Syria are also praying for the safe return of Boulos Yazigi, metropolitan bishop of the northern city of Aleppo and brother of Yuhanna X Yazigi, their patriarch.

Yazigi and Aleppo's Syriac Orthodox bishop,Yuhanna Ibrahim, were kidnapped by unknown gunmen on April 22 as they were returning home from a trip to Turkey. Their driver, a Syriac Orthodox deacon, and another passenger were forced out of the car and the driver murdered, shot in the head.

Their whereabouts and fate is still unknown in a country where Christian clerics have been murdered, but where kidnapping for ransom is also rife.

In October, Greek Orthodox Father Fady al-Haddad was seized and killed in Damascus province as he was trying to negotiate the release of a Christian doctor who had been kidnapped.

Theft and kidnapping have become rampant in Syria, where criminals have taken advantage of the security vacuum caused by the fighting.

Patriarch Yuhanna has announced that this Easter he will not receive traditional greetings from the faithful.

Antoine, a 47-year-old doctor, said the "atmosphere is sad. For the third year we will be celebrating Easter with sadness, because the country is bleeding."

"We will pray for their return," he said, adding that Good Friday prayers would be dedicated to them.

"We believe in the resurrection (of Christ) and also that of Syria."

Gabriel, another Damascene, said that, this year, the "feast will boil down to just prayers, because blood continues to flow in our country."

Some Syrians have left the country altogether to celebrate Easter, to get away from the violence and the fear, and Hala has rented an apartment in Beirut, the capital of neighbouring Lebanon.

"I came to calm my nerves and to see my son, who works in Qatar," she told AFP. "Life here is normal, and I try to forget for awhile the nightmare we are living in Syria."

Christians account for about five percent of Syria's multi-confessional population of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and of Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

While some may have fled the country and others are contemplating to leave, student Roula Salam, who lives in the central city of Homs, is defiant.

"Christians will remain despite all the hardships endured and everything used to chase us out," she said, pointing out that Christian roots in Syria date back to the beginning of the faith, 2,000 years ago.


Easter Sunday Ashtabula murder case bound over to grand jury


More disturbing details come out about that day

By SHELLEY TERRY
Star Beacon
April 10, 2013

ASHTABULA — The make of the gun, knives and the terror felt by Easter Sunday church-goers the day Reshad Riddle is accused of killing his father surfaced at his  preliminary hearing Tuesday in Municipal Court.



City Solicitor Michael Franklin called three city police officers to the witness stand to share their recollections of what occurred after Riddle allegedly shot Richard Riddle at point blank range outside of Hiawatha Church of God in Christ. Riddle has been charged with aggravated murder, having weapons under disability and carrying a concealed weapon.



After 45 minutes of testimony, Judge Albert Camplese said there was probable cause to send the case over to the Ashtabula County grand jury.



Riddle, 28,  who appeared

 in shackles, an orange jail jumpsuit and a bullet-proof vest, sat at the defense table flanked by public defender Joseph Humpolick.



The first witness, Patrolman Jay Janek said when he arrived on the scene, the elder Riddle was on the ground bleeding profusely, with an obvious gunshot wound to the head.



“He was deceased,” Janek said.



Police found Reshad Riddle inside the church, standing at the podium, he said.



“He had the gun in the air,” Janek said. “He had several knives on him ... we later discovered the Koran on the podium.”



The second witness, Patrolman Thomas Clemens, said he was called to the church Easter Sunday for “a subject in the church waving a handgun.”



Upon arrival, he saw several people running from the church and several people crawling out the narrow windows.



“I pulled two children out of a window,” he said.



As Clemens sat on the witness stand describing the frantic church scene, Riddle calmly stroked his beard and smiled at a child sitting behind him in the courtroom. When Clemens was asked to identify the Easter Sunday shooter, Riddle gave Clemens a little wave.



Clemens testified that once officers transported Riddle to the city jail, they performed a Gunshot Residue Test on his hands.



“He admitted he used a Smith and Wesson .38 Special,” Clemens said. “He referred to the Koran and Allah, quoting passages.”



Upon cross-examination, Humpolick pushed for more details on Riddle’s statements.



Clemens said he wasn’t familiar with the Koran, but remembered Riddle had said he had “served his purpose.”



A third witness for the prosecution, Detective William Felt, said he was called into work at about 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Easter Sunday. His job was to interview Riddle at the Justice Center, he said.



“Riddle told me he shot his father with a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver,” he said. “He said he wasn’t being respected by his father.”



Felt also said Riddle spoke about religious passages in the Koran.



Humpolick again pressed for details.



“He found solace in his religion after he shot his father,” Felt said.



With no further witnesses, Franklin entered two exhibits: a copy of the defendant’s past felony convictions, justifying the charge of having a weapon while under disability, and the sentencing from the conviction.



Humpolick called no witnesses, but moved to dismiss the case.



Camplese said the case will be bound over to the grand jury; Riddle will remain in jail on a $1 million bond.



Family members yelled, “Jesus loves you, Reshad,” as police led him back to his jail cell.

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