The Nigerian church bombings, in which the Islamic group Boko Haram [“Western Education Is Forbidden”] killed over 40 people celebrating Christmas mass, is just the most obvious example of anti-Christian sentiment in the Muslim world. Elsewhere in this region, Christmas time for Christians is a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear, which is not surprising, considering Muslim clerics maintain that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication or killing someone.” A few examples:

Egypt: The Coptic Church is being threatened with a repeat of “Nag Hammadi,” the area where drive-by Muslims shot to death six Christians as they exited church after celebrating Christmas mass in 2010. Due to fears of a repetition,the diocese “cancel[ed] all festivities for New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.”

Indonesia: In a “brutal act” that has “strongly affected the Catholic community,” days before Christmas, “vandals decapitated the statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto … a cross was stolen and the aspersorium was badly damaged.”

Iran: There were reports of a sharp increase in activities against Christians prior to Christmas by the State Security centers of the Islamic Republic. Local churches were “ordered to cancel Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as a show of their compliance and support” for “the two month-long mourning activities of the Shia’ Moslems.”

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