ISIS’s primary targets remain Muslims it views as apostate. But a new generation of Christian martyrs is arising as well.
The persecution of Christians reached historic levels in 2014, according to Open Doors USA, which estimated that 100 million Christians around the world face dire consequences for practicing their faith. North Korea topped the list of offending nations, with Iraq third and Syria fourth. Other regimes among the worst for Christians were Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, and Nigeria.
In Iraq and Syria in 2014, the so-called Islamic State ravaged Christian towns and forced Christians to flee or face death. In mid-February of this year, the world witnessed a video allegedly portraying the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by militia in Libya allied with the Islamic State. Christians have been repeatedly targeted in the midst of that nation’s civil war (see the news story on p. 14). In late February, 90 Christians were kidnapped in northeastern Syria.
One response to these atrocities came from evangelist Franklin Graham, who warned of a coming global persecution of Christians at the hands of Muslims. Suggesting that Muslims had been insufficiently vocal in condemning the murder of Christians, he offered this thought: “Can you imagine the outcry if 21 Muslims had been beheaded by Christians?”