Raymond Ibrahim

CBN News Contributor, Middle East and Islam Expert


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Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Evidence has again emerged indicting that if Western mainstream media actually reported more on the sufferings of Christians throughout the Islamic world, their lot would likely improve.

Meriam Ibrahim, a woman who is imprisoned in Sudan and sentenced to death on the charge that she apostatized from Islam and converted to Christianity—and who recently gave birth to a baby girl in prison—was reportedly going to “be freed in a few days,” according to a BBC report:

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman.
Khartoum has been facing international condemnation over the death sentence.
In an interview with The Times newspaper, British Prime Minister David Cameron described the ruling as “barbaric” and out of step with today’s world (emphasis added).

Of course, soon after the BBC reported that Ibrahim would be freed, other reports appeared indicating that that is only a rumor—one that the BBC, which regularly tries to minimize the specter of Muslim persecution of Christians, jumped on—that Sudan was merely trying to save face before the international community.

According to the imprisoned Christian woman’s husband: “No Sudanese or foreign mediator contacted me. Maybe there are contacts between the Sudanese government and foreign sides that I’m not aware of.”

At any rate, why did Sudan say Ibrahim was going to be released? After all and despite what Sudan’s under-secretary says—that “Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman”—Khartoum’s Islamist government upholds Islam’s apostasy law, which actually guarantees that born Muslims do not have “religious freedom.”

As just one example, back in June 2012 in Sudan, a Muslim woman divorced her husband after he converted to Christianity. The court automatically granted her custody of their two sons (according to Islamic law, children of divorced parents are to remain with the father, but if the latter is an apostate, they go to the mother). When the father tried to visit his children, his ex-wife threatened to notify authorities. “They might take the case to a prosecution court, which might lead to my sentencing to death according to Islamic apostasy law—but I am ready for this,” the Christian man had said. “I want the world to know this. What crime have I done?

And that’s the whole difference: “the world” did not “know this,” whereas the major media did report on Ibrahim’s plight, thereby exposing Sudan to international condemnation.

Precedents of this phenomenon—international outrage prompting Islamist governments to rethink their abuse of Christians—have occurred in other Muslim countries.

For example, back in September 2012, two other Christians under arrest and awaiting execution in the Islamic world—one, like Sudan’s Ibrahim, charged with apostasy in Iran, the other with blasphemy in Pakistan—were also released, but only after much widespread international condemnation, that is, only after the mainstream media exposed their plight.

As CNN had reported:

A Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran for apostasy was reunited with his family Saturday after a trial court acquitted him… Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents and a convert to Christianity by age 19, was released after being held in prison for almost three years under a death sentence…. His case drew international attention after his October 2009 arrest, and the 34-year-old pastor refused to recant his Christian beliefs (emphasis added).

Right around the same time, Pakistani authorities released a teenage Christian girl accused of blasphemy and facing the death penalty. Up till then, local Muslims had insisted that 14-year-old Rimsha Masih be put to death, warning that, if released, they would “take the law into their own hands.” Her case also reached the international community, sparking widespread outrage and condemnation of Pakistan.

Earlier, in 2006, one Abdul Rahman was exposed as an apostate to Christianity and subsequently arrested, incarcerated, and sentenced to death. Because his story also received widespread media attention and international condemnation—and even a phone call from the U.S. Secretary of State Rice to Afghanistan’s president—Abdul Rahman was released under the pretext that he was mentally retarded, though most sources indicated he was quite sane. (Muslim governments regularly portray apostates and blasphemers whom they wish to release as retarded, since, according to Islamic law, the insane are not responsible for their actions. Even Pakistan’s Rimsha Masih, prior to her release, was portrayed as mentally retarded.)

The point here is that such prisoners of conscience are not released because their respective governments suddenly decided to act according to universal standards of human rights. If so, they would not have arrested the accused in the first place. Nor should such releases suggest that Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, or Sudan are rethinking Islam’s apostasy and blasphemy laws, which prescribe the death penalty.

After all, there are countless more Christian “blasphemers” and “apostates” rotting on death row in all three countries, not to mention all around the Islamic world.

As with Sudan, Christians in the aforementioned countries are habitually persecuted, imprisoned, and or killed. In Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, Iran’s persecution of apostates to Christianity is so widespread that it warrants a special “spotlight” section; Pakistan also gets a special spotlight section for its frequent arrests and imprisonments of Christian “blasphemers.”

Indeed, just days ago a Christian couple in Pakistan, one illiterate the other disabled, received the death sentence for allegedly sending “blasphemous” text messages.

However, unlike Sudan’s Ibrahim, Iran’s Nadarkhani, Pakistan’s Masih, and Afghanistan’s Rahman, the Western mainstream rarely if ever hears about these many unfortunates.

And that’s the whole difference.

Unlike the many faceless Christians persecuted all around the Islamic world, the Western mainstream media actually reported on these three, prompting public outrage, international condemnations, and in some instances the threat of diplomatic actions and/or sanctions.

For Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan such “infidels” were simply too much of a liability to punish as Sharia demands—the same Sharia, incidentally, that teaches Muslims to be lax and tolerant when in their interest, such as when the international community puts them in the spotlight.

Thus such freed Christians are a reminder of the important role the Western mainstream media can play in alleviating the sufferings of minorities throughout the Islamic world. For if they were not reported on—as the overwhelming majority of persecuted Christians are not reported on—they would surely still be in prison on death row, where so many other nameless and faceless Christians remain.

So consider the impact the mainstream media could have if they were to report the full truth and extent of Muslim persecution of Christians; if they stopped portraying the few they do report on as anomalies but rather as the tips of a very big and ugly iceberg.

The fact remains: the overwhelming majority of people in the West remain woefully ignorant of the sufferings of non-Muslims under Islam, thanks to the mainstream media’s general indifference or worse.

However, as precedent suggests, when enough people in the West do hear about them, they do act, prompting their governments and human rights groups also to act, prompting Islamist governments to realize that persecuting this or that Christian is simply not worth it.

In the case of Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim, time will only tell if the major media will forget about or try to dismiss her story—as the BBC may be doing—or whether they will continue exposing the truth of her plight, which, at this point, is likely the only way this wife and mother who refuses to renounce Christianity for Islam can ever hope to escape execution.

Raymond Ibrahim, a CBN News contributor, is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians and The Al Qaeda Reader. He is also Shillman Fellow, David Horowitz Freedom Center; Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum; and Media Fellow 2013, Hoover Institution.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Friday, June 06, 2014 9:55 AM

Comments on this post

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

We as a Christian Nation (no matter who thinks otherwise) we should rise up and go after any other country that puts people to death because of their choice of God. That is a personal experience not a State. We chose who to serve and that is our choice.
Left by Charlotte Decker on Jun 06, 2014 8:12 PM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Left by loissmith on Jun 07, 2014 11:21 AM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Islam spread throughout the world under the sword. Today, it is with modern weapons, or through immigration into western nations. But the intent is the same. Establish Islam as THE religion. But political correctness prevents the truth from getting out. Centuries ago, the Church at Rome had similar activities. Christians were persecuted and tortured and murdered until the will of God put a halt to it. In some instances, people were martyred for nothing more than wanting the Bible in their native tongue. Most were convicted of heresy for defying Rome. The Catholic Church changed. Although there are still problems as there are with all Christian Churches, Christian life is generally good. Not so with Islam. Their holy book is a hijacking of the Bible, the TRUE word of God. Islam denies the deity of Jesus. And the west is ignorant. There is now a movement called Chrislam. How many signs does the world need?
Left by DCRB on Jun 07, 2014 1:43 PM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

What would stop terrorism worldwide within weeks? What could do it without a shot fired or a drone launched. What would have the girls in Nigeria returned quickly and an apology issued from their captors? The answer is simple. It would be the turning of the liberal media away from hiding the truth about Islam.

Five times in the Koran Muslims are commanded to kill anyone who will not submit to Islam. When followers of Allah killed a British soldier in 2013 and cited their reasoning based upon the Koran the British Broadcasting Corporation modified the statement issued by the killers. The BBC removed references from the Koran that the killers cited as their reasons for the brutal murder and instead the BBC portrayed it as a tit-for-tat revenge killing.

I have stopped listening to the BBC. Their pro-Muslim agenda on their foreign Africa Service is disgusting. Likewise, other liberal media outlets talk of “understanding Islam” and appreciating what Islamic society has contributed ....
Left by Ken Sawka on Jun 07, 2014 1:49 PM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Is it not time for modern Islamic leaders to review and remove outrageously misleading chapters and verses of the Quran that instigates and leads to the condemnation of human beings to death without any offense except that they have a belief in God other than what Muslims chose to worship? Are there no educated Muslims whose consciences are alive who can start a review and rewriting of Quran and Islamic traditions/laws to stop destroying life? Why do I hear renowned people say Islam is a peaceful religion while it teaches its followers to kill in the name of Allah? There are chaos in many parts of the world just because of Islamic belief. There are Millions of unreported murders by the so called mainstream Islam as well as extremists, once a person or group are labeled infidels that’s it ; the worst part is that they kill them in a very painful manner. Why is it that no Islamic leader is standing out on truth of the reality with the atrocities their people are committing everywhere?
Left by Pacis on Jun 09, 2014 12:35 AM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Post 1.

This must end.

Raymond Ibrahim.

Evidence has again emerged indicting that if Western mainstream media actually reported more on the sufferings of Christians throughout the Islamic world, their lot would likely improve.

Part 1: Raymond Ibrahim has no idea if the lot of those persecuted “would likely improve” if the Western mainstream media covered, as in this instance, more about Meriam Ibrahim. It is a finding not able to be evidenced because the measures to do so cannot be operationalized.

How would one measure the “sufferings of Christians throughout the Islamic world?”

Any valid and reliable measures (statistically) come to mind?

Let’s assume the mainstream media coverage of Christian prosecution in the world just quadrupled. Let’s assume that the measure “sufferings of Christians throughout the Islamic world” is possible to know and it shows a hypothetical 20% decrease in the rate of Christian suffering.

Left by Estabon on Jun 11, 2014 10:50 AM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Post 2.

Did the quadrupled rate of mainstream media coverage translate into 20% reduction in Christian suffering?

Not possible to know. Why?

Reliable and valid indicators don’t exist, indicators are not measurable, indicators aren’t known (missing variable bias) and the extent of Christian suffering in the world is not known.

That last caveat is a big one. How much persecution around the world is going unnoticed because it’s suppressed? How much persecution around the world is going on because no one knows about it (it took a month for the world to become aware of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria). How does one sort out the difference between Christian persecution and harm politically driven in situations mixed)?

“Noise” reigns.
Left by Estabon on Jun 11, 2014 10:54 AM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Post 3.

Part 2: Regarding the Western mainstream media:

Does the Wall Street Journal not count?


Does the NY Times not count?


Does the Washington Post not count?


Does CBS News not count?

Left by Estabon on Jun 11, 2014 10:55 AM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Post 1A: A little crow this morning and a redirect. I was so “MSM” focused I failed to see a few of Mr. Ibrahim’s conclusions (I apologize Raymond). It’s more than a little ironic that I didn’t see what it is that I teach, sometimes preach. The perils of assumptions not considered and causal connections may be or not may be. Kindly take about half of that vitriol away, please.

Posts #1 and #2 stand (we do really have to think about however)- I’ll not delete #3 as a lesson for me.

A few questions from points theoretical and measurement:

If raising awareness worked our brother in Iran would have been released long ago and Meriam Ibrahim would be free today (June 12 AM on the east coast).

Raising awareness has a flip-side. It becomes publicity. In a world trending extreme Rouhani’s don’t lose when half the world is outraged. They win.
Left by Estabon on Jun 12, 2014 10:45 AM

# RE: Sudan Mother's Case 'Tip of the Iceberg' on Islamic Persecution

Post 2A: I’ve got some thinking to do* and normal work to be done. Noted, is conventional wisdom not what it used to be?

The suggestion that the BBC tries to minimize the specter of Muslim persecution of Christians as evidenced in the probe “Are there really 100,000 new Christian martyrs every year?” is, at least in this instance, probably not or at best maybe (a half-truth). The methods are iffy and under review.

More like 100,000 +/- 150,000 and the assumptions therein are no less perilous than the one before.

*Conjecture: what was once unimodal is becoming bimodal, that is a world more extreme. Raising awareness works in a world unimodal. Raising awareness in a bimodal world can backfire and presidential support ain’t what it used to be. The bully pulpit doesn’t work when the other side wins.

Left by Estabon on Jun 12, 2014 10:48 AM