(I apologise in advance for the gruesome pictures you're about to see, but I deemed it necessary to illustrate my point.)
Horrid pictures of the deaths and devastation of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis
I had arguments with family members who were in support of Israel. They said that as Christians we must support Israel no matter what, because they are God's chosen people and those who bless them are blessed, and those who curse them are cursed.
But I said that with all the military might Israel have, bought with the millions in funding from the US and Europe, their assault against the weakened Palestinians was akin to killing an ant with a sledgehammer. It was overkill and inhumane to use such brutal force against an enemy already on its knees and cause their weakest members to bear the brunt of the battle.
I said that the Palestinians had been forcefully evicted from their lands and forced to exist in the Gaza Strip of land where all their food and supplies were administered to them by Israel in a sort of imposed rationing, that their fighters were a fraction of Israel's army in number and in might, and that the rockets they repeatedly sent into Israel did little harm due to Israel's superior defenses: only one Israeli civilian had been killed since the recent fighting started, whereas Israel's rockets has killed almost 2, 000 Palestinian civilians.
I was quite proud of my compassion, and was very much on the side of most of the mainstream media in denouncing Israel's campaign, and particularly loved this brilliant 'breakdown of ignorance' by Russell Brand against America's Fox news and their myopic view of the Israel/Palestine situation.
Iraqi Christians Under Attack by Islamic State (IS)
But then the news about the plight of Iraqi Christians (and Iraqi minority group the Yazidis) broke. Both groups had long been persecuted in the majority-Muslim Iraq and around 100, 000 had now been forced to flee their homes after IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS) took over their main town Qaraqosh. The IS soldiers gave them ultimatums: convert to Islam, leave or give up their money and gold, so most left, were killed or were kidnapped. Many were now stranded on the mountains, causing the US to resume attacks on Iraq and drop aid parcels to the fleeing families.
Then pictures of slaughtered Christians came forth; from beheaded children to Christian men rounded up, tied up and led to a space where they were told to kneel and were shot. Some of them were crucified in mock allusions to their faith, and hundreds of their young women were kidnapped to be used as slaves or married off to Muslim fighters.
Horrid pictures of Iraqi Christians executed, children beheaded and forced crucifixions by Islamic State (IS)
Boko Haram Did Not #BringBackOurGirls
This of course echoes the plight of the hundreds of girls (majority Christian) abducted by Muslim extremists Boko Haram from their schools in Borno State, Northern Nigeria. Many have reportedly become pregnant and some are rumoured to have been radicalised to the point of becoming suicide bombers.
The remains of a female suicide bomber in Northern Nigeria, compared with a picture of one of the girls kidnapped in Chibok by Boko Haram. Looks like the same girl doesn't it?
In Nigeria of course, Boko Haram have been terrorising Northern states including the capital Abuja, thousands (I'd say up to a million) have been killed in the years since their rise and I even saw a shocking video of BH militants beheading a man, actually cutting his neck with a not-too-sharp knife whilst they all shout 'Allahu Akbar,' snapping the neck back to break it off then holding the severed head aloft and declaring it a victory for Allah. I saw it with my own eyes and almost threw up.
British Muslims Becoming Fighters
Meanwhile the war in Syria continues in the background, but the worrying thing is that many British Muslims have traveled to not only Syria but also Iraq to join in the fighting.
One story involves 16 year old twin girls from a Somalian background who were born and bred in the UK and had intentions of studying medicine. They snuck out of their homes one night a couple of months ago to travel to Syria to become 'Jihadi Brides.' Their brother went first and was filmed threatening the West in the familiar 'Terrorist Video' scene. And when the girls found out about their infamy back in England, one of them mocked the situation on Twitter by saying that they'd rather be doctors for ISIS than for the British.
One of the twin girls who ran away from England to support the Muslims in Syria
Also in England recently was the furore caused by certain schools in Birmingham that has 99% Muslim students been taken over by their parents, who became school governors and eventually used strong arm tactics to remove head teachers or staff who didn't comply with the strict Islamic culture they'd instituted in the schools (separate classes for boys and girls, highly Islamicized lessons, no clapping, no music, trips to Saudi Arabia, quoting blacklisted Imams in school literature, no mention of Christmas in December and blatant slurs against Christians in assemblies).
The British authorities finally found out about this and hurriedly put measures in place to make sure no state schools in Britain could be surreptitiously turned into faith schools that could become havens for radicalisation.
Recently in the news, it was also revealed that some Muslims were openly handing out leaflets in London's Oxford Street encouraging Muslims to relocate to Iraq to fight for ISIS.
No More Sympathy for Palestine
So at first I was sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, but now I'm not. After reviewing the multiple situations around the world where Muslims are making the news, my sense of solidarity with Palestinian Muslims has almost disappeared.
From Nigeria to Iraq to Syria to England, then also Egypt where Coptic Christians cry out against the mass kidnappings of their daughters by Muslim men, and countries like Saudi Arabia where to be openly Christian is to invite persecution and where churches are not welcome, and Iran whose former President often spewed hate against Israel and the West, Islam has proven to be an inhospitable religion which cannot live at peace with neighbours of another faith.
Imagine if the most powerful country in the world, the US were an Islamic country. Just imagine who the funding and weapons would empower, and what that would mean for the safety and stability of non-Muslims the world over.
I believe that if not for international support, Israel as a country surrounded by muslims as it is would have been obliterated. Israel attack because they know that if the shoe was on the other foot, Palestine would have shown them absolutely no mercy. I agree. Even now, though their people are dying in the hundreds daily and a ceasefire is entirely in their best interests, Hamas refuses to give up shooting their missiles even though their attacks are but pin-pricks against Israel's defenses. Their refusal to give up shows that the hatred is not one-sided.
Religion of Peace?
Muslims often state that those that kill in the name of Allah are not real Muslims, and Islam is a religion of peace. But how many extremists out of the whole does it take for them to not be just a 'tiny minority' or 'sect' anymore? 10 percent? 30 percent? Members, sympathisers and supporters of Boko Haram, IS, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and those that kill in Allah's name in Syria and around the world must number into the millions. In Iraq and Nigeria, previously friendly Muslims turned against the non-Muslims and helped IS and BH kill them; I've heard reports that countries like Saudi Arabia and Oman are directly funding IS, and it's an open secret that major political entities are funding BH in Nigeria for their own purposes.
Add to that number those that believe in and practice other gruesome extremities of Islam like honour killings (of converts out of Islam, 'Westernised' girls, adulterers etc), Sharia law-sanctioned stonings (where the guilty are buried in the ground up to their chests and stoned by the crowd until they die), and forced female circumcisions and we're getting close to half of all Muslims I'm sure.
And if the majority are peaceful, where is the evidence of the peace they are spreading? I see no groups representing peaceful Islam going into these places to stop their Muslim brothers and sisters from committing crimes against humanity. And as far as I know, the only protests by Muslims in Nigeria despite the Boko Haram menace was one in support of Palestine.
And if you ask IS or Al Qaeda or Boko Haram, they will tell you that they are practicing the truest form of Islam. It's either the scriptures they quote that sanction their actions is in the Quran; they twisted certain verses to fuel their hate; or it's not in the Quran and they made it up. I think it's a mixture of the first two.
Islam vs Christianity
Let's put Islam and Christianity side by side. The worst of Christianity happened centuries ago with The Crusades, when Christians evangelised vast swathes of the world by force using the sword. Muslims love to point to The Crusades as an example of militant Christianity. But, and this is a big BUT, since that relatively short-lived blip in the 2, 000 year history of Christianity, you have never heard of a large group of Christians killing people they don't know and committing other atrocious acts in the name of Jesus. No, not ever. Christians have been docile and law abiding for generations wherever they live.
You might have lone wackos that murder a few people randomly, but never a large and consistent group saying Jehovah God told them to kill non-believers and behead children, and shouting 'Jesus is Lord' when they do it. Even the US Christian preacher that threatened to burn the Quran was condemned by other Christians, including President Obama. Jesus never advocated violence against non-believers, yet Muhammad has been depicted in some unfavourable light in the Qur'an; as a man of war launching jihads and encouraging the killing of infidels.
Many Boko Haram members were said to have formerly being Christians, so why did they not commit such atrocities as Christians? Why was their conversion to Islam the catalyst to their murderous impulses?
What is it about Islam that causes its believers to want to kill?
Now, the best of Christianity includes countless world-wide charities founded on gospel principles that help millions in the world today, from World Vision to Christian Aid, Save the Children and many more. The West, a historically Christian entity, gives aid to poorer countries and founded the United Nations to ensure peace around the world. The US and the UK were historically (and largely remains) Christian, so its inventions, art and advances that continue to illuminate the world could be said to be thanks to Christianity.
American Dr Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola whilst treating infected patients in Liberia, in a statement of faith more inspiring than any I have ever read, said:
“My wife Amber and I, along with our two children, did not move to Liberia for the specific purpose of fighting Ebola. We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital.
One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name.
“When I started feeling ill on that Wednesday morning, I immediately isolated myself until the test confirmed my diagnosis three days later. When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.
“Now it is two weeks later, and I am in a totally different setting. My focus, however, remains the same - to follow God. ”
Dr Kent Brantly and his wife. He contracted Ebola in Liberia but is now back in the US and doing well after taking experimental drug ZMapp
That is Christianity in action: selfless believers traveling all over the world and facing huge dangers to help others through aid, schools or evangelism, never by force. Mostly they just travel to these places to help, like Dr Brantly- no preaching involved.
Now, the worst of Islam is what we see around the world daily, murders, forced conversions, kidnappings, 9/11, 7/7 and other atrocities too numerous to mention. And what is the best of Islam the world has seen? Apart from repeated assertions that Islam is a religion of peace by individual adherents, nothing major or world-renowned. No grand gestures of peace, no mass movements to spread the goodness and mercy or love found in Islam. People say countries like Saudi Arabia live in peace, yes, but only because they've suppressed other religions. Even in Dubai, the face of a modern Islamic country, are there churches there? Can a Christian go on the streets and preach the gospel and be listened to, ignored or mocked, but not arrested or tortured?
The marker of a truly accommodating country is one where all can practice their various religions freely, like in America and Europe (and England to the point where freedom of religion has resulted in Islamists taking over state schools).
I often think of the best places to live in that would be far from the dangers of Islamic-sponsored terrorism, which would be away from the West and countries where Muslims have power like Nigeria. Somewhere like Ghana - where Muslims are few and powerless - seems good to me.
So I'm Very Glad to be a Christian
I come from a Muslim background; my late father was a Muslim, and his side of the family are still Muslims. But I am now a Christian, and I thank God every blessed day for bringing me to faith in Him. I have seen the light, and it is good and pleasing in my sight. I am proud to be a Christian. I can hold my head up high knowing that anywhere I go, I can proclaim faith in Jesus without shame or pain knowing that people are killing in His name, and that I am negatively tainted by the sins of my brothers and sisters.
If I were a Muslim I would be distraught at what my fellow believers are doing. I would be grieved to share a God with a large chunk of people that have read in the same Holy Book I'm reading that God said to kill others to glorify him.
I am pleased that I know the truth and it has set me free. I am proud of the way Christians around the world conduct themselves: although often provoked by Muslims, as a group they never retaliate. Our faith says to turn the other cheek and lead people to Christ, but never compel them. No one can ever misquote Jesus and believe that killing non-Christians will make our God happy.
And no, I most strongly insist that the Christian God and Allah are not the same. How can they be, when one encourages half his followers to kill infidels in order to enter paradise, and the other says 'I have come that they might have life, and have it in abundance'?
I've had some Muslims email me asking me to return to Islam. I say to them all now: Never. Why would I? I have all I need in Christ, and His people, although quite imperfect, are not killing wantonly in His name. My God is good and gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love. I worship Him not out of fear or compulsion or family tradition, but out of love, appreciation, gratitude and partial understanding of His ways. I have genuine examples of when I've seen Him in action, and God my Father has replaced and superseded my earthly father (whom I loved) in every way.
The fact I remain anonymous on this blog is testament to the intimidation and real fear of reprisals converts from Islam to Christianity face daily around the world, where many are killed by their own families for leaving the religion. But you will never hear of a former Christian that was killed by their families for converting to another religion. There is freedom in Christ, and this freedom I cherish dearly.
Islam before 9/11 held little attraction for me due to its subjugation of women, its distant, unknowable God, repetitive prayers that allow for little creativity in communication, and reading of holy texts in a foreign language, although I like the modest dress of its women and it's a fact that the majority of the people that helped me in Nigeria were Muslims.
But today more than ever, I am blessed and highly favored to be a Christian.