Catholic churches in Nimes, Houilles and Lavaur were among those targeted by vandals (Image: N/C)
The cause of the tragic Notre Dame Cathedral fire remains under investigation. Although authorities so far are treating the fire as an accident, rather than as an act of terror, Islamists have wasted no time celebrating what happened as a major defeat for the “Crusaders.”
A jihadist media group linked to ISIS carried an image of the iconic 850 year-old cathedral on fire next to their warning, “Wait for the next.” In truth, we do not have to “wait for the next.” During the last three years, as the migrant population coming to Europe from the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa rose dramatically, so has the number of attacks on Christian churches and religious symbols. “Countless churches throughout Western Europe are being vandalized, defecated on, and torched,” Raymond Ibrahim has reported in an article published by Gatestone Institute. He noted that “in European regions with large Muslim populations, there seems to be a concomitant rise in attacks on churches and Christian symbols.” And we must not forget the July 2016 attack against Fr. Jacques Hamel, who was killed by two young Islamists in the middle of mass at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church. They slit the priest’s throat while screaming "Allahu Akbar." ISIS claimed responsibility.
The vicinity of Notre Dame itself has been the scene of prior Islamist crimes. On June 6, 2017, an Algerian-born journalist named Farid Ikken, who had moved to France on a student visa, attacked a police officer with a hammer outside the Notre Dame Cathedral. He reportedly shouted "c'est pour la Syrie" ("this is for Syria") during the attack and then claimed he was a soldier of the caliphate.
On September 4, 2016, a car containing seven canisters of gas and pages with Arabic writing was found parked near Notre Dame. Three female jihadists were reportedly planning to blow up the car outside the cathedral, but the plot was foiled in time.
More than 1000 attacks on Christian churches, crucifixes, icons, and statues were registered in France alone in 2018, according to a German news site referenced by Mr. Ibrahim. In February of this year, nine churches were desecrated in France during an 11-day period. Mr. Ibrahim described some truly disgusting examples of desecration that occurred this past February and March. In one example he described, “Vandals plundered Notre-Dame des Enfants Church in Nîmes and used human excrement to draw a cross there; consecrated bread was found thrown outside among garbage.” In another example, “Vandals desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, and mangled the arms of a statue of a crucified Christ in a mocking manner.”
Also, last month, a Pakistani immigrant, who had arrived in France quite recently, allegedly tried to burn down the organ of the Saint-Denis basilica and destroyed some stain glass. The year before, pro-migrant activists alongside illegal migrants had stormed this same basilica to protest changes in France’s asylum law.
Germany has experienced a similar pattern of attacks on churches and holy objects, with four separate churches vandalized and/or torched in March alone. “Before Christmas 2016, in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, where more than a million Muslims reside, some 50 public Christian statues (including those of Jesus) were beheaded and crucifixes broken,” Mr. Ibrahim reported.
Some of the perpetrators are not shy about their motivation. A German report quoted by Mr. Ibrahim stated: "Crosses are broken, altars smashed, Bibles set on fire, baptismal fonts overturned, and the church doors smeared with Islamic expressions like 'Allahu Akbar.'"
European government leaders and the mainstream media have been in denial about the Islamist source of many of the attacks. Instead, they try to kill the messenger. They brand as racists and Islamophobes those who point out that the rising number of Islamist attacks on Christian churches and religious symbols in Europe tracks the dramatic increase of migrants from Muslim-majority terrorist-prone countries.
Some French authorities are blaming what they call “militant secularism” for the church attacks in their country. That is patently absurd. Militant Islam, which teaches hatred of Christians and Jews, is the driving ideology behind many of the attacks. And the attacks are not just occurring in “secular” Europe or in Muslim countries in the Middle East where Christians are becoming a dwindling, persecuted minority. Last January, for example, there was a double bomb attack on a Catholic church in the Philippines, which killed at least 18 people. ISIS claimed that “two martyrs of the Islamic state carried out a double suicide attack.” Approximately 80 percent of the Philippine population is Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church still plays an important role in Philippine life. "Militant secularism" is not being used as a convenient excuse for the church attack by Philippine government authorities.
In 2017, a propaganda video was released by ISIS militants in the Philippines threatening the life of Pope Francis, and showing a church set on fire as well as the destruction of statues of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. “After all their efforts, it would be the religion of the cross that would be broken,” the narrator said as a church in flames was displayed.
In Nigeria, which is split between a majority-Christian south and a majority-Muslim north, the ISIS-linked Boko Haram terrorist group and other Muslim terrorists have slaughtered Christians and burned churches. More than 6,000 Christians were killed or maimed by Islamist terrorists during 2018 alone. “We are deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches and the killing and persecution of Christians,” President Trump said during a joint press conference at the White House in April 2018 with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is himself a Muslim and has condemned the attacks but done little to stop them. “It’s a horrible story,” President Trump added. The horrible story is continuing in 2019.
Islamists justify their murder of Christians and desecration of churches, as well as their murder of Jews and desecration of synagogues, by pointing to verses in the Koran. One example is found in Koran (9:29): "Fight against Christians and Jews until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low."
We may not know what really caused the Notre Dame fire for quite some time. Terrorism cannot be entirely ruled out just yet, although investigators presently believe the fire started accidentally. We do know, however, that Islamists have targeted Notre Dame, the Vatican, and churches all over the world repeatedly in the past. Their jubilation at what happened this week to an enduring symbol of the Christian faith reveals the depth of their hatred for anything symbolic of Judeo-Christian values and of Western civilization. They will kill and destroy anything they consider infidel whenever they are given the chance. That is who they are. Our answer must be to value life, protect freedom, stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, and rebuild.