The year 2015 AD was not a good year for Christians and Jews living in many parts of the world, especially in those places ruled by Islamic principles or assailed by Muslim terror. For example, while there were some 2,100 Christians murdered for their faith across the globe in 2013, in 2015 their number rose to 7,100 in countries such as Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Egypt. According to the CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, a nonprofit that advocates for interfaith understanding, things are simply getting worse. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram Muslim sect continues its acts of rape, murder, and bombings in the northern tier of the country as part of its campaign to impose Islamic law and rule over the entire country. In Pakistan, Christians are targetted for dispossession of property, while Christian girls are abducted, raped and forced to convert to Islam or face death. In Egypt and Syria, Christians have been subjected to deportation and their millenial monasteries and churches destroyed.
 
Lisa Pearce of Open Doors said in the group’s most recent report, “The persecution of Christians is getting worse – in every region in which we work – and it’s getting worse fast.” She added,  “Many countries have dropped down the list, not because persecution there is decreasing, but simply because others are getting worse faster. And it wasn’t good three years ago.” Pearce continued, saying “We can and must be strenuous in protecting Christians and all others facing persecution for their faith.”
 
And it appears that 2016 may not be any better.
 
In Israel, the entire country has been likewise shocked by yet another senseless act of savage mayhem. It was on Sunday evening, January 17, that a 38-year-old pregnant mother of six was stabbed to death by a terrorist who had invaded their home. Dafna Meir was stabbed in front of her daughter in Otniel – a Jewish settlement in the West Bank area near the South Hebron Hills. The assailant fled and remains at large. The victim was also a nurse at the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, working in the neurosurgery department.
 
Earlier on the same day, a Palestinian was shot dead while trying to stab Israeli Jews at Hativa Square near the headquarters of the Samaria Territorial Brigade outside Nablus. There were no injuries among the soldiers. Throughout 2015, Israel witnessed attacks on Jews by mostly-Muslim Palestinians wieldeding knives against civilians in Israel or firing rockets from the Gaza Strip or other Palestinian-controlled areas. In one such case, a Muslim woman - dressed in traditional Islamic dress - appeared at first to speak in a friendly way to an Israeli security  officer. When she was close enough to attack, she pulled a knife and wounded him. She was eventually shot to death by police officers when she refused to put down her knife.
 
According to the Israeli ministry of defense, the army is in pursuit of Meir. The residents of Otniel were ordered to stay indoors until the terrorist can be located. Security forces have formed roadblocks and is engaged in an extensive search. Soldiers in full military kit were seen searching the terrain near the scene of the attack. This is the first time Palestinian terrorists have executed a fatal attack inside a Jewish settlement since March 2011. It was then that five members of the Fogel family – including four children - were stabbed to death in their home in Itamar.
 
Israeli nurse Dafna Meir, 38, was murdered in front of her children by a Palestinian terrorist.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with assurance, while seeking to comfort the bereaved family. “I want to give strength to all the children of the family. All of us are hurting and share in the painful grief. We will find the terrorist, and he will pay the full price for this heinous murder.” Security forces are trying to determine whether the attacker lived in the area.
 
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said of the incident, “The murder today teaches us again about the kind of cruel and relentless enemy we are dealing with. Security forces – the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police – will get their hands on the murderer and those who sent him, if someone sent him. We will not rest until we settle accounts with the terrorist, wherever he is. The struggle against Palestinian terrorism requires Israelis to be determined and have an iron fist together with patience and sound judgment, since it places complex challenges before us. Security forces are working day and night in this struggle, and will strike this terrorism, too, as we have done to past attempts to harm the State of Israel and its citizens.” 
 
South Hebron Hills spokesman Assaf Fassy said the terrorist easily entered the unlocked home. The terrorist was immediately spotted by Meir and three of her children. Two of them fled, but the eldest daughter, aged 17, remained with her mother, Fassy said. The assailant stabbed the mother, fleeing when he was not able to dislodge the knife he had plunged into her body. Meir’s daughter called immediately for emergency services. 
 
Paramedic Noam Bar of Magen David Adom emergency services, who worked with Meir, described the heartbreak of paramedics who were not able to revive Meir. Bar said she was “unconscious, with no breath or pulse. She suffered from stab wounds to her upper body. We attempted to resuscitate her for a lengthy period of time, at the end of which we were forced to pronounce her dead.”
 
She was buried on January 18, in accordance with Jewish custom. Her survivors include her husband Natan, and six children: Renana, 17, Akiva, 15, Noa, 11, Ahava, 10, Yair, 6, Yaniv 4. The youngest two are adopted.
 
Bombed out Christian church in Nigeria
 
According to Open Doors, approximately 4,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria, over 1,200 in the Central African and over 700 in Chad throughout 2015. Over 2,400 churches were attacked or shut down for faith-related reasons, the Open Doors report said. The group’s report the 50 worst countries in the world for Christians. The top 10 are: North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya. Notably, they are either ruled by communists, Muslims, or both.
 
Muslim countries such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia were able to wipe out their Jewish populations by forcibly deporting them in the 1940s following the formation of the modern State of Israel. In Iraq and Syria, Muslims have almost succeeded in doing the same with the Christian community that has lived in the area since the beginning of the Christian era. As the world looks on, the Islamic State has resorted to wholesale slaughter of non-Muslims not seen since the time of Mohammed himself or the later invasions of Europe by the Ottoman Empire that continued for centuries, seguing through the conquest of Constantinople in the 1400s and ending with the first genocide of the modern era when Ottoman rulers sought to wipe out Armenian Christians. 
 
Not even in secularized France are believers free of Muslim hatred. On January 11, a teacher at a Jewish school in Marseilles was attacked by a machete-wielding Muslim teenager. Benjamin Amsellem (35) - who teaches at the Franco-Hebraic Institute in the French port - had not seen the blade before being struck. His assailant was a 15-year-old Kurd from Turkey. Amsellem fled but then fell to the ground as the Muslim adolescent bore down upon him. Amsellem fended off more machete blows and a knife by holding up the sacred Torah as his only shield. The raging attacker eventually dropped the weapon and fled, leaving the traumatized teacher with injuries to his shoulder and hand. Amsellem was clearly identified as a Jew because he was wearing a kippah skullcap at the time of the assault.
 
The teenaged assailant has been found to be perfectly sane. However, he declared that he committed the violence in the name of "Allah and the Islamic State," having concluded that he cannot bear to see the Islamic State dishonored in any way. He also condemned the French government for protecting Jewish people. Police have confirmed that the teen had committed an act of terrorism.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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