Terrorism RagingAccording to Open Doors, a non-denominational group that supports persecuted Christians worldwide, the official number of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013, compared to 2012. According to the annual survey, the number of Christians killed in Syria in 2013 comes to more than the whole global total of 2012.

Approximately 13 percent of the Syrian population is made up of Christians. In the list of nations with the highest number of killings of Christians, Syria was followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, and Egypt. In its 2014 World Watch List, Somalia comes in at the top of the list— moving from fifth to second place— followed by Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Yemen.

The survey conducted by Open Doors only counts the numbers of Christian who are killed, reported in the media, and confirmed. Some estimates by other surveys indicate the number exceeds 10,000 deaths. Open Doors has reported that it documented 2,123 killings, compared to the 1,201 in 2012. In 2013, 1,213 of these people were killed in Syria alone. “This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for Open Doors.

The report revealed that

“Islamist extremism is the worst persecutor of the worldwide church,” adding that in 36 countries on the report’s list, radical Muslims were the key source behind these persecutions and killings. Michel Varton, head of Open Doors France, told journalists in Strasbourg, “In Syria, another war is thriving in the shadow of the civil war – the war against the church.”

The intriguing issue is that various Islamist rebel groups— including Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham brigade, and other Al-Qaeda-linked groups— are still promising minorities (particularly Christians) that they will have a peaceful life if they support them and if the Islamists come to power. It would be interesting to see an Islamist group provide an example of an Islamist state that has provided full rights for religious and ethnic minorities since the emergence of Islam. Astonishingly, these Islamists groups still emphasize that the rights of religious minorities will be preserved.

This is just another strategic tactic to take control of the states and then impose Sharia and Islamic laws, discriminate against minorities, jail and imprison non-Muslims, and persecute minorities— particularly Christians and Jews.

The first laws that they will pass when they come to power will include: Islam will be declared the sole religion of the state, the law of the land will come from the Sharia, other religions will not be recognized, Christians and other minorities will not be able to run for office, women will not be full citizens, and more. Some other, more ridiculous, Sharia laws may also be implemented, including how women cannot sit on chairs or drive any kind of transportation.

There are many examples of these types of promises made by Islamist groups before they come to power in the history of Islam. For example, the Islamist party of Iran galvanized the support of women and minorities by promising change, yet later imposed the most brutal and barbaric laws against them. These examples existed for the last 1400 years, since the rise of Islam.

Additionally, how can Christians trust the Islamists when they have been executing their own members for the sake of power and for violating Sharia and Allah’s laws?

This week, according to several national and international news outlets and activists on the ground, the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has executed dozens of other Islamist rebels in Syria.  ISIL, an Al-Qaeda-linked group, has regained most of the territory it lost in the northeastern Raqqa province. Accordingly, approximately 100 rebel fighters from the Nusra Front— another Al-Qaeda-linked group and Ahrar al-Sham brigade— were executed after being captured by ISIL. Reuters quoted activists as saying that the rebel fighters were captured in the town of Tel Abiad, on the border with Turkey.

ISIL has launched its campaign to build an Islamist caliphate, combining Syria and Iraq through brutalizing the civilians, government forces, and rebel-held areas, while gaining territories and executing those they say have violated Sharia and Islamic law. An unnamed activist said to Reuters, “About 70 bodies, most shot in the head, were collected and sent to the Raqqa National hospital,” adding, “Many of those executed had been wounded in the fighting. The fact that Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham are ideologically similar to the ISIL did not matter.”

It seems that believing in one God, Muhammad, the Quran, and all Islamic and Sharia laws does not matter for the Islamists when it comes to gaining power.  Although, their major argument is that they respect those who believe in Allah and Muslims, history has shown that during the last thousand years what truly matters for Islamists is power and rule.

Prince Charles has decried the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries. Dr. David Curry, CEO and president of Open Doors USA, told The Blaze, “We’re going to motivate the U.S. to pay attention to this issue as a critical component of creating free societies and to support Christians wherever they may be in the world.” Now is the time to observe whether President Obama is also going to issue any statement supporting the persecuted Christians around the world.


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and he serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington DC and a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He has been a recipient of several scholarships and fellowship including from Oxford University, Annenberg University, University of California Santa Barbara, and Fulbright Teaching program. He served as ambassador for the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC, conducted research at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and taught at University of California Santa Barbara through Fulbright Teaching Scholarship. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu.

Rafizadeh is a regular commentator for national and international outlets including CNN, BBC TV and radio, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, RT, CCTV and Aljazeera English. He is frequently quoted in major news outlets including CNN, BBC, Aljazeera and he regularly writes for both academic and non-academic papers such as New York Times International, Foreign Policy, Aljazeera,  Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, George Washington International Review, to name a few.