On Friday evening in an attack by eight jihadists in Paris 129 people were killed and 352 wounded. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility describing the attack as: “a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah” to strike “the capital of prostitution and vice, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe — Paris”.
- Barnabas Fund wishes to extend its deepest condolences to those of all faiths and none, including Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists, who have suffered as a result of the terror attacks in Paris. We would wish to assure all who have suffered of our prayers for their healing and safety.
- For more than 20 years Barnabas Fund has highlighted the threat that radical Islam and sharia enforcement pose to both ordinary Muslims and non-Muslim communities around the world. Our current projects include helping victims of IS in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and surrounding regions (https://barnabasfund.org).
- Islamist violence is not mindless. The aim of Islamist terrorists whether in Paris or Syria is to “persuade” countries to accept the enforcement of Islamic law (sharia) and Islamic government. Non-violent Islamist groups share these same aims, they just use different means – generally seeking to use the political process to gradually align Western law with sharia and eventually create an Islamic government. Both these aims and the concept of violent jihad are deeply rooted in the Quran and hadith.
- We are very aware that the majority of ordinary Muslims in the UK are shocked and horrified by the Paris attacks. We also hear of individual acts of kindness and sometimes courage shown by Muslims who have sought to protect Christian friends and neighbours from Islamist violence in places such as Syria. Yet the fact remains that those who carry out such attacks are motivated by an understanding of Islam that has existed for many centuries. In fact, throughout much of Islamic history there have been two broad streams of Islam, a peaceful one that has emphasised piety and devotional practice and another which has particularly emphasised law (i.e. shariaenforcement) and sometimes jihad.
- One of the tragedies of both the Paris attacks and the continuing attacks by IS and similar organisations on Christians in the Middle East is that Western governments repeatedly listen to the propaganda claims of political Islamists that “this has nothing to do with Islam”. Until Western governments grasp this nettle and accept that concepts such as jihad, sharia enforcement, and dhimmitude (second class citizenship for non-Muslims with negligible rights – which IS are seeking to enforce in Syria) are specific Islamic concepts, then it is tragically likely that the violence and persecution we are currently witnessing will continue to escalate.
- What happened is Paris is tragically not a new phenomenon. For several centuries Christians in the Islamic world have at various times and places been massacred. In fact, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the worst atrocities of the Armenian massacre, a series of atrocities committed between 1894 and 1918 that led to the deaths of an estimated one and a half million Armenian and Assyrian Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Between 1894 and 1896 over 100,000 inhabitants of Armenian villages were slaughtered during widespread pogroms conducted by Islamic forces loyal to the Sultan of Turkey, with atrocities continuing in subsequent years. In 1909, for example, two hundred villages were plundered and over 20,000 persons massacred in the Cilicia district. The atrocities continued after the Young Turks seized power and in 1915 hundreds of Armenian Christian leaders were rounded up and shot, bayonetted or hanged. Those who were not were sent on forced marches to Syria with vast numbers being killed or dying on the way. Significantly, this all happened more than a generation BEFORE the founding fathers of modern Islamism, Hasan al Banna (b.1906), Abul A’la Mawdudi (b.1903) and Syed Qutb (b.1906) even began preaching their Islamist message.
- Today we are seeing similar massacres in Syria and Iraq – the very regions where those who survived the Armenian genocide settled.
- Our brothers and sisters in places such as Iraq, Syria and northern Nigeria who live daily in fear of attacks by Islamists intent on forcing them to submit to dhimmitude, enslaving, massacring them or worse are baffled and hurt that Western governments refuse to accept that there is any connection between Islam and persecution or terrorism. What they are experiencing has been experienced by previous generations of their families over several centuries.