Tag: Terrorism

Persecution of Christians in 2019 Near Genocide Levels

Rafael Augusto B. L. de Oliveira | @ancient_scrolls

Last year, Open Doors, a non-denominational organization, revealed that individuals murdered 4300 Christians for religious reasons in 2018. After the report though, governments and individuals across the world took relatively little action. This year has proven otherwise, as Christian murder rates are only increasing.

Continue reading “Persecution of Christians in 2019 Near Genocide Levels”

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Politicians are Afraid of Acknowledging Christian Persecution

Romy Haber | @romyjournalist

Sunday’s bombings in Sri Lanka marked the country’s deadliest violence in a decade, leaving more than 320 dead and more than 500 injured. The terrorist attack targeted Christians, a religious minority in the country, on one of Christianity’s holiest days: Easter. Two local Islamist radical groups were allegedly involved: National Thowheeth Jama’ath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim.

Yet, despite Christians being the clear victims of the attacks, mainstream media and politicians around the world have decided to focus on the perpetrators rather than those that lost their lives.

Continue reading “Politicians are Afraid of Acknowledging Christian Persecution”

Open Doors: 4300 Christians Murdered in 2018

Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | Brazil

What does it mean to be a Christian? To some, it means finding shelter and strength through our Lord’s word in order to overcome our daily challenges. To others, it means helping those in need. Whatever are your reasons to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, being a Christian isn’t always an easy task; our faith has tests all the time. To be a Christian sometimes means having to face hatred and persecution. During hard times, it’s quite important for we Christians to keep our faith strong and stay united. 

 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 

 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

– John 15:18-19 (KJV) 

Christian Persecution in the World 

When I say persecution, not only do I mean that Christians are being oppressed through violent means, but also through less obvious means such as biased laws and psychological bullying. A good example of this is how in several countries in the Middle East, laws force Christians to restrict their expression of faith. 

Schools commonly teach about past oppression and violence against Christians. Unfortunately, many of these issues still occur today in parts of the world. Without action, it may only get worse. Currently, persecution of Christians happens mostly in theocratic Muslim countries and areas where terrorist cells have control.

For example, extremists in Syria levied a jizya on any non-Muslims. Those who could not comply had to either convert to Islam or face death. where Christians are a minority and are forced to live under strict regulations such as paying special taxes and not being allowed to practice their faith in public. Moreover, Islamic Saudi authorities violently imprisoned 35 Christians in 2012 for holding a prayer circle.

In several other countries, Christians and other minority religions may only practice their faith in private. In fact, nations with Sharia law often ban items and articles from other religions such as Crucifixes and statues. The mistreatment of Christians is not exclusively in Muslim countries. It also occurs in the Jewish state of Israel and dictatorships such as North Korea. According to Open Doors, the totalitarian state holds some 50,000 Christians in forced-labor camps. 

Open Doors: Christians Murdered in 2018

Sometimes the dedication we have for Christ can even lead to murder. In 2018, 4300 Christians were killed across the globe, according to Open Doors, a non-denominational mission with the goal of helping Christians in countries where Christianity is oppressed for cultural or political reasons. Sadly, the number is only going up. In 2017, there were 3066 murders of Christians for religious reasons. This represents a 40% increase from the previous year.  

However, Open Doors is attempting to eventually bring this number to zero. Andrew van der Bijl founded the group as a small operation to illegally smuggle Bibles to Soviet-controlled Poland in the cold war. Later on, they expanded, smuggling Bibles all over the Communist bloc. Nowadays, Open Doors helps Christians exert their rightful will of regularly practicing their faith in over 70 countries where oppressive laws still exist.

An Increased Danger 

As stated above, the murder rate of Christians drastically increased last year. Unfortunately, the coming years may spell out even more danger for the world’s most common religion. Several factors are leading to this. Michel Varton, the current director of Open Doors, stated that ”The number of vandalized Churches in regions where Christianity is a minority, has highly increased in the past few years”. 

Clashes with Christianity 

In the internet age, information is at everyone’s hands. So, it is becoming more difficult for dictatorships to dumb down the masses. But unfortunately, many countries still use religion as a tool by teaching a twisted, radicalized version of Islam. 

Governments of Muslim-majority countries often see the spread of Christianity as a threat to their power. As a result, they tend to discretely marginalize Christianity through Sharia law. For some of them, Christianity is a symbol of Western imperialism. Thus, they perceive it as a sign of disrespect to their local cultures and customs. 

Some oppressive governments in Asia also see the expansion of Christianity as a threat. This has been a notably growing trend in several parts of Asia with Hindu fanaticism and Buddhist radicalism. Both have taken an aggressive stance towards foreign religions in recent years.  

The Spread of Radical Islam

The vast majority of the incoming immigrants and refugees from the Middle East just want to mind their own businesses and have a chance for a fresh start in the Western world. Unfortunately, a small minority are violent radicals. With a recent uptick in radical Islam in Sweden and other countries, persecution of Christians may increase.  

Moreover, radical Islamic movements have been gaining strength in Asia and Africa. Particularly, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Somalia have seen drastic increases.

An End in Sight?

At this time, it does not appear that the next few years will bring an end to these horrific murders. However, groups like Open Doors and others hope to minimize the casualties and enrich religious freedom. We have only scratched the surface about this, but as the internet thrives, it appears that awareness for Christian persecution may also rise. With this, awareness groups may hope to raise more funds and rally more people to their cause to end intolerance.


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Tulsi Gabbard Is a Hawk in Dove’s Clothing

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Already, the 2020 election cycle is beginning to heat up. After a 2016 rift in the Democratic Party, the political party is seeking to reunite against President Trump. Yet, eight candidates have already declared their own shots at the presidency. One of these candidates is Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

A veteran of the Iraq War, she claims to be of the non-interventionist wing of the party. In many ways, she hopes to cater to those who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016. Gabbard does happen to be like Sanders in many ways, but this only reflects her deceit and double-sidedness.

Is Tulsi Gabbard Really Antiwar?

One of Tulsi Gabbard’s biggest talking points so far is that she opposes wars. In particular, she has criticized continual actions on the part of the United States in Syria and Afghanistan. However, it would be foolish to equate these limited responses with truly opposing the practice on its face. There is a clear difference between opposing a particular war and opposing the very concept of war.

An excellent place to begin searching for Gabbard’s true position is her voting record. But rather than portraying the 37-year-old congresswoman as a dove, it suggests that she is more mixed on the matter. Admittedly, she did oppose two key defense funding bills in 2018. Yet, the same is not true for the bill that would appropriate this funding.

On September 26, 2018, Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor of a key defense appropriations bill that, quite frankly, had some absurd elements. First of all, it appropriated a grand total of $670 billion for the military in 2019. Though she seemed to oppose gargantuan spending levels previously, it appears Gabbard had no problem voting for it the next time it came through.

Moreover, the bill prohibits any funding to be used for the release or transfer of individuals at Guantanamo Bay. Amnesty International has long since called the detention camp “The Gulag of our time“, and the inhumane modes of torture that the base forces on its prisoners are no surprise. Even the United Nations, an organization in no way fervently dedicated to peace, has tried to get the United States to close Guantanamo Bay. Tulsi Gabbard, though, voted for an appropriation bill that would make it much more difficult to remove those detained from the subhuman conditions that the camp does little to hide. Such a move shows blatant disregard for human life, a value generally necessary to truly be antiwar.

A Hawk on Terrorism

In addition, it is worth noting that Gabbard has even admitted to not unilaterally opposing war. Particularly, she proudly supports wars against terrorism. In 2016, she told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that “When it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk”.

The interesting thing about this statement is that it undermines her very opposition to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria. Without a doubt, there are active terrorist groups in both of those areas. By her own definition, therefore, she logically favors wars in the Middle East that fight terrorism. Yet, these have had disastrous effects. In particular, our actions in Afghanistan led to a surge in Al Qaeda membership. At the time of 9/11, the group only had about 400 members, but at the height of the war, they boasted tens of thousands.

Wars against terrorists, and specifically, the War on Terror, usually lead to the terrorists winning. And considering that the definition of terrorism is violence for political gain, it is unclear just at what point Gabbard’s own military interventions would qualify as acts of terrorism. Being a hawk against terrorists is not an admirable trait.

In Favor of Drone Strikes

Furthermore, Tulsi Gabbard has very clearly stated that she favors the use of drone strikes against military opponents. Admittedly, this is preferable to supporting an all-out ground war, but it is also a far cry from being anti-war. It appears that her concerns more closely are for the lives of exclusively Americans. This position blatantly disregards the lives of the many foreign civilians that American drones kill every year.

In this way, Gabbard appears to more closely mirror the tactics of Presidents Trump and Obama. After all, Obama’s drone strikes have killed many civilians in eight countries. There is absolutely nothing that indicates that Gabbard’s use of drones against “terrorists” (I use the term in quotations because they are the ones defending their homeland, while the American military ravages their cities) would produce a noticeably different result.

All in all, it appears that Tulsi Gabbard is not truly opposed to war. Though she may be slightly less hawkish than some other candidates, this is an easy task; it does not, in any meaningful way, show a real dedication to peace. Do not let her words fool you, and do not expect a sudden policy of peace if she wins the presidency in 2020. Tulsi Gabbard, through her support of wars and drone strikes, is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


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Twenty Minutes to Landing, Seven Seconds of Silence

Ryan Lau | United States

In many ways, Dan was unlike those around him. With an incredible intellect, lithe build, and handsome face, the young man of 22 was certain to make it big. Already, he had amassed a small fortune on a number of critically-timed investments, and it showed. An impeccable Ralph Lauren polo framed his narrow shoulders and an exquisite Salvatore Ferragamo belt kept his Vineyard Vines from slipping to the dirt of the aircraft floor.

All around him, commoners, as he so liked to refer to them, bore sweats and faded tees. A faint smell came from the economy cabin, which Dan chose to maintain his riches. Jammed-in crowds of businessmen, families, foreigners, and vacationers packed the plane to its capacity, all yearning to touch down in Los Angeles after a turbulent flight from Montreal.

Suddenly, the seatbelt sign buzzed twice, and the loudspeaker began to crackle. “Attention all passengers: at this point, we will be beginning our initial descent into Los Angeles International Airport with about twenty minutes to landing. Please stow any loose baggage and power down all large electronic devices. Thank you for ch…”

But before the pilot could finish the customary remarks, two gunshots rang through the air from the front of the craft as it started to tumble out of the sky.

Screams of pure terror rang through the craft. Some scared passengers threw themselves to the floor, while others raced to occupy openings in the plane’s rear. One fearful woman even went to the trouble of closing herself into the overhead storage bin.

While yells and frantic attempts at phone calls flooded the plane, the intercom stayed silent. Dan, too petrified to move, momentarily thought himself so lucky for not choosing a first-class seat. He then remembered his predicament with a thought of horror. I’m going to die here, he thought.

Miraculously, or so he believed, the plane soon stabilized, guiding itself back into a standard trajectory. Seven seconds of silence followed. But when a gravelly voice barked commands in an unrecognizable language, the entire aircraft filled with dread.

***

Fadel sat in the cockpit, autopilot switched on, door locked. Prepare for Phase Two, he had just announced. With heightened security, he was shocked by how effortless the operation had been. Not that there were many opportunities, but he had seldom seen this much success in a takeover. In fact, he recalled, it has now been nearly two decades…

Glancing at the floor, he looked at his Liberator. The tiny, 3D printed handgun had proved successful. The pilot and copilot lay strewn on the floor, bleeding profusely from tiny wounds in the backs of their heads. Fadel fleetingly hoped that the two were alive and just unconscious from the weak firearm. But thinking of Phase Two, care for his victims vanished into the air.

Flawed as these Americans are, they sure know how to produce weapons. The thought made him chuckle briefly before remembering his mission. If successful, God himself would praise him. Fadel would be a hero, worshipped in the streets by peasants and elites alike! His heart filled with pride as he shouted some more Persian into the mic. “Almarhalat Alththania!”

Stage Two.

***

Back in the main cabin, tears streamed from Dan’s face like water gushing from a spring drain. For once, he didn’t care if they landed on his designer clothing or caused him to break out. At that moment, he sought but one thing: a phone call with his father.

Dan’s mother had died tragically, years before. His sister Amy and he had severed ties three months prior after a particularly nasty fight. Dan viciously believed the doctors mistreated his mother after her heart attack. But a member of the medical community, Amy defended the doctors’ actions to a T. Her resulting heart failure, she believed, was an incalculable side effect of a generally reliable medication.

As the plane sped through the air faster than Dan’s own thoughts, he forgave his sister in a heartbeat. It was no use, though. Not a device on the plane had cell service, and the internet was suddenly down. As he wept silently, seeking solace from the frantic plane. But out of the corner of his eye, he couldn’t help but notice something.

Two men, both dressed in black, were walking away from the rear. They both had long beards and olive skin. And they both held small white handguns. Though they looked plastic, Dan shuddered at the thought of more weapons, more hijackers on the plane.

As they passed Dan, he could tell that the two were harshly whispering in another language, heading for the front of the craft.

He looked around. The other passengers appeared not to notice, too busy in their own suffering. Those that saw didn’t care. After all, their own stories had ended from the moment the first shot rang.

“Commoners”, he muttered to himself, trembling slightly. His fear of perishing intensified as the two walked to the front of the plane, tearing back the curtain separating economy and first-class and vanishing to the front of the plane.

***

In the cockpit, Fadel heard a knock on the door. tap tap TAP tap TAP. He smiled, opening the compartment for his two compatriots. Gesturing to the now-open seat, he congratulated them on their quick work. One of the men, Bari, took the seat excitedly, guiding the nose of the plane down ever so slightly and reducing the thrust in the same manner.

“Eshrwn daqiqatan ealaa alhubut!” The new pilot looked happy as a saint, but equipped with a falling plane.

Twenty minutes to landing.

***

Dan, horrified by the men, poked the woman next to him and gestured to the front. “Terrorists. It’s 9/11 all over again!”

The woman responded only with a defeated sigh.

Angered, Dan vowed vengeance against the three men in the plane. He crept forward, rummaging around seats as he moved. Enraged but outwardly calm, like a volcano ready to explode, he found a safety pin and a plastic knife. Hardly a gun, he thought, but as he sensed the plane beginning to dip, he had few options.

Creeping forward, he drew back the first-class curtain. Empty. The entire section was a desert, devoid of all life. Bags littered the floor and made his walk more difficult, but for the oasis that followed, it was worth it. Quite literally sitting on a silver platter in the front row was a half-eaten section of prime rib, complete with fork and knife. Dan hurriedly but silently pocketed both and prepared himself for what may lie beyond the cabin door.

***

As Bari guided the plane lower, the Los Angeles skyline broke into view, buildings racing to the clouds. Fadel and the third man, Khan, stood watch, their Liberators focused squarely on the door in front of them.

Despite their readiness, they were not expecting the youthful American to barge through the door with a weapon of his own. He caught them off guard, slashing at Khan, who howled in pain as the steak knife left a shallow gash in his thigh.

***

Wresting the door open, Dan pretty much knew what to expect. Yet, that didn’t make an ounce of it any easier on the young man. A brown belt in karate, he had some defense training, but not to take on three armed men, one of whom was his only chance of survival.

Two of them, however, were unlikely to be flying the craft, and at least one must not. So charging in, he was slightly relieved when he caught the bearded guard by surprise. With an expert slash to the leg, he fell to his knees.

Bang. White-hot pain raced through Dan’s knife hand as he dropped the weapon. Stars ran through his eyes as he fought back the pain. The guard, though, aimed a swift kick to Dan’s ribs and he fell beside the pilots, conscious but unmoving.

***

Stupid American boy! Fadel cursed silently after the shot rang out. Though momentarily incapacitated, the grimacing heap on the floor was at no risk of dying. A blow from a Liberator to the hand was painful, but not life-threatening.

Khan, regaining his composure, looked with contempt at the young man. “Bism allah! Ymknna ‘na nufasir.”

In the name of God, we can explain.

***

As the bearded guard spoke to Dan, he panicked suddenly, fearing a second, more lethal shot would be soon to follow its predecessor. But out of the corner of his eye, he saw a compact backpack laying within reach.

A parachute. His escape.

Mustering all of the strength he could, which surprisingly was a lot, he snatched the pack off the ground and bolted to his feet. Amidst rampant shouting in the foreign language, which he thought must be Arabic, he hauled himself through the door, slamming it shut while ignoring the throbbing pain in his injured hand.

Making his way back through and drawing the first-class curtain, he turned around. Amazingly, none of the hijackers had followed him through the door. Perhaps, as long as he steered clear of the cockpit, he was no threat to them. Or maybe they were tending to the bearded guard’s injury. Dan didn’t really care, making his way to an exit row for his escape.

Two rows away, an elderly woman, caked with dirt and raggy clothes touched his shoulder lightly. He turned, fist extended, ready to punch his assailant. Seeing the woman, however, he lowered them, apologizing with a pained facial expression. The woman smiled gently.

“Is that there a chute? Could you hap’n to allow my granddaughter here to have it? She’s ne’er been in a plane before and has got so much in’a young body, ya know.” The woman’s eyes were beautiful pools of gray, her smile laced with years of suffering. Behind her, the little girl tugged on her blouse, a near lookalike of her grandmother.

Dan, though, did not afford either of the two a passing glance. Upon realizing there was no threat, he swung open the exit hatch, filling the cabin with a roaring wind. As he departed the aircraft, flight attendants rushed to close the window, narrowly avoiding being sucked out themselves. The girl clung tighter to her grandmother’s shirt. Silent tears streamed down their faces as the door slammed back into place.

As this occurred, Dan breathed a sigh of relief, feeling little guilt for the strangers. After all, he had taken a bullet for that parachute. Smiling for the first time in what felt like weeks, the young man began his controlled descent to Earth.

***

Bari had his sights set on the city. After the skirmish with the American boy, he wanted to complete his mission as soon as possible, avoiding any other…complications that may ensue. He threw a stack of papers that had blown in his view aside. On top laid a confidential email from the slumped pilot to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Director Hoffman:

Message received. target set. U.S. bank tower will be compromised.
This operation is weather dependent, though I imagine results by 07:00.
Once I have safely exited the craft, I will communicate my location.
Three Arabs will be on board. They are to be responsible for our attack.

-PIC Brandon Michaels

Casting it aside, Bari smiled, knowing he had done a good deed to his own name, to God, and to the world. Landing with ease in Los Angeles, his heart warmed with the businessmen and families and foreigners and vacationers aboard who would all live to see another day.

***

Falling through the sky, Dan smiled. His escape, though difficult, had been quite rewarding. Reaching a comfortable altitude, he yanked sharply on the parachute. It extended suddenly, but his speed did not decrease. Shaking the straps, he frantically tried to get the chute to extend. But looking up, his heart fell faster than the rest of him.

On the inside of the parachute, a giant image of the bearded guard stared down. Where his mouth should have been, however, was a massive, gaping hole. Dan had a mere seven seconds of silence remaining.


Other creative works by Ryan you might enjoy:

Inevitable Death at the Hands of the Former: A story of paranoia and insanity

The Last Thoughts of Delavan, Killed by an American Bomb: A story of loss and sorrow

71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

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