THE year 2011 opened, at least for Catholics, with the Holy Father’s “Religious freedom, the path to peace”—his traditional message for the World Day of Peace, the 44th this year.
Obviously, this message and all the calls for peace that he has been saying during the last few months were in response to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism. In his January 1 Angelus, he pointed out two alarming developments: “Today we are witnessing two opposite trends, both negative, both extremes: on one hand, secularism which often in a very deceitful way, marginalizes religion to confine it to the private sphere and the on the other fundamentalism, which instead wants to impose it by force.”
The recent developments are disturbing. On Christmas evening 80 people died in bomb attacks in villages around Jos, Nigeria which included onslaught on Churches in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri that left 6 dead. About 30 minutes into the New Year, as the Eucharistic celebration ended in a Church of the Coptic Christian tradition in Alexandria, Egypt, a car bomb exploded, killing nearly 2 dozen faithful and injuring about 80 others as they made their way out of the church. Violence continued in Iraq during the Christmas season as an Islamic extremist group made good its threat to kill more Christians by planting bombs in their homes thereby forcing them to leave.
Outside the Arab world, the situation is not any better. In Pakistan, for instance, small Christian communities are often blamed for everything from political problems to natural disasters. Blasphemy laws justify the arrest and torture of Christians to death. This is the case in almost any Asian country where Muslims are a majority. But, of course, here in our own Jolo, a bomb was detonated at a Catholic Chapel while the mass was being celebrated on Christmas day, injuring a priest and several churchgoers. In Muslim-dominated areas of France, Sweden, Britain, Holland, Germany and Denmark Christians are insulted, threatened, spat at and told that they have to leave. This is not as violent as in Asian countries, but something that signals of the shape of things to come.
It may be good to note at this point that while Christians throughout the world are worried about child bearing and spend billions of dollars from multinational pharmaceutical companies and from wealthy eugenicists to lobby for the legislation of reproductive health bills in order to cut down on population, the Muslims are propagating their faithful exponentially. In a recent video documentary by a group that calls itself Friend of Muslims, Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya was quoted as saying: “There are signs that Allah will grant victory to Islam in Europe without swords, without guns, without conquest. We don’t need terrorists, we don’t need homicide bombers. The 50 million plus Muslims (in Europe) will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”
The German Federal Statistics Office subtly affirms this in a report issued a few years ago that noted: “The fall of the German population can no longer be stopped. Its downward spiral is no longer reversible…It will be a Muslim state by year 2050.”