In light of the recent video released by ISIS showing the beheadings of 30 Ethiopian Christian men in Libya, author Raymond Ibrahim warns that the future of Christianity in the West is tied to the fate of Christians in the Middle East.
In an interview conducted by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review, Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East forum, first turned his attention to the latest gruesome ISIS beheadings. He provided the context behind why ISIS was carrying out such acts of brutality in Libya.
"Soon after Qaddafi's overthrow, Ansar al-Sharia - the 'Supporters of Islamic Law' - offered rewards to any Muslim who finds any Christians (most being from neighboring Egypt)," Ibrahim said. "In the past few years, scores of Coptic Christians were randomly killed. But since Ansar al-Sharia morphed into an affiliate of ISIS, the slaughter of Christians has been even more systematic."
Lopez pointed out that ISIS labeled the Ethiopian Christians as "worshippers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian Church." Ibrahim quipped that such descriptions are merely "pure propaganda" from ISIS disguised as "Muslim grievances."
"The messages that these jihadi organizations send to the world at large are antithetical to the messages they send to fellow Muslims," Ibrahim said. "To the former, they play the grievance card; to the latter, they say Islamic law commands that they attack, slaughter, plunder, rape, and enslave 'infidels.'"
Ibrahim added that the propaganda has effectively worked to the advantage of ISIS and other Islamic terrorism groups.
"The effectiveness of this propaganda is simple: No matter how absurd, there are some in the West who are more than happy to leap on such 'grievances,'" Ibrahim said. "Anyone acquainted with the 'mainstream media,' Mideast academic departments, and, of course, the White House knows what I mean."
According to Ibrahim, ISIS was more interested in "demoralizing Western/Christian viewers than in inspiring them." However, ISIS did allow some Christians and other non-Muslims to live as long as they either converted to Islam or paid extortion money known as "jizya," the terms of which involved living "as third-class citizens."
"The Ethiopians were given Islam's classic three choices: convert to Islam, pay jizya and remain Christian, or die (according to Islamic prophet Muhammad's teachings)," Ibrahim said. "If they had no money, it came down to convert to Islam or die. Their execution is proof that they refused to convert."
If Christians decided to pay the "jizya," Ibrahim noted that they would have to endure various humiliations, including standing up for Muslims, not being allowed to renovate or build churches, or even not showing a cross or Bible in public. He thought that academics in the West were misinterpreting the meaning of "jizya."
"Thanks to Mideast academics in the West, everyone now refers to jizya as a 'tax' or 'poll tax.' It's not," Ibrahim said. "It's money given to purchase one's life from the sword of jihad."
According to Lopez, ISIS sent a warning to the West in the video stating that "You won't have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam." Ibrahim quipped that such a threat should be taken seriously "because it is Islamic law."
"According to classic, mainstream Islamic teaching, the Islamic world is supposed to be at perpetual war with the non-Muslim world until the former subsumes the latter," Ibrahim said. "Of course, there are exceptions - much of Islamic law is based on circumstance."
Ibrahim reassured Lopez that the Islamic world currently lacked the strength "to wage an all-out assault on the West." However, he warned if nothing is done to help Christians in the Middle East, many could die "in holocaust fashion" and the jihad could spread to the rest of the world, despite "experts" and President Barack Obama claiming that ISIS had "nothing to do with Islam."
"Make no mistake," Ibrahim warned. "As mentioned earlier, the slaughter is happening over there, now, but once the opportunity to wage an all-out jihad here presents itself, the slaughter will be coming to the West as well."