Paris (AsiaNews) - Many
Muslim converts to Christianity face direct persecution by Muslims and indifference
from fellow Christians, not only in their countries of origin, but also in
Europe, where freedom of conscience is not protected, only the freedom of
Muslims to bear witness to their faith is. Mohammed Christophe Bilek makes his plea in a letter to AsiaNews.
Mohammed Christophe Bilek was born in Algeria in 1950 and has
lived in France since 1961. He is the author of Un Algérien pas très catholique (A
not very Catholic Algerian), published by Cerf (1999) and Saint Augustin
raconté à ma fille (Saint Augustine as told to my daughter), published
by Éditions Qabel (2011).
In the 1990s, he
Dame de Kabylie (in French), a website devoted to Muslim-Christian
dialogue and to evangelisation among Muslims.
Dear friends, if persecution is the destiny of many Christians,
what about Muslims who want to become Christians? They are like children asking
to be born who are denied the right to exist!
This week, an Algerian man baptised at Easter told me, "This
Muslim community, this Ummah that wants to enslave me, makes me sick. Allah does
not enslave me as the Ummah claims; it is the Ummah that wants to enslave me .
. . in Allah's name! I do not want to be a dogma's prisoner; I do not want to
live a lie! God calls me instead to the truth of the Gospel that frees! I do
not impose my faith on anyone, not even on my daughter; why do they want to
impose the Muslim faith on me?
Yes, dear friends, those who choose to follow Jesus Christ
today, like I did more than 40 years ago, are in hiding in France, in Europe, fearing
abuses and retaliation from their families and communities. Imagine the lives
our brothers who do not have the possibility to live in countries that respect
freedom of conscience, who hide away in Morocco or Tunisia, for example.
They beg and implore us to pray for them and not forget
them. But we must do more and come to their defence against laws made by men,
not God, that deny freedom no matter what those who impose them say.
How can we defend them? With
weapons? Certainly not! Or rather yes, but with the weapons of the Gospel:
justice, truth, charity and brotherhood.
When it comes to justice and truth, let us stop denying the
facts, namely that we, as Christians in the vast Muslim world, have been
deprived of our rights and freedom. We only have to consider the apostasy law,
established under Sharia and enforced in many countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Let me ask you: Did Jesus Christ by chance impose his law? Even
though it is a law of love, did he ever force anyone to practice it? Does the
Catholic Church, for example, excommunicate and issue fatwas against those who
leave it to become Muslim? Does it threaten them with the wrath of hell because
their names are in the register of baptisms?
Certainly not! Do you know why? Because faith is a freely given
commitment to God. It is to Him that each one of us will have to respond.
Now, why is it that the right to leave Christianity, which
converts to Islam have, is not recognised for those who want to leave the
Muslim religion to follow Jesus Christ? To honest Muslims I say: Show some
charity and accept this equality before God, the only judge, without second
thoughts or regrets! Say it publicly, at least here in France and Europe, where
you claim your rights. Be consistent and credible; accept equal rights for your
brothers who chose another path!
On Christian brotherhood, I can only repeat the words of the
aforementioned Algerian. "Muslims make me sick; that is a fact because they pry
into my inner life, which concerns [only] God [and me]. But those who really
get to me are our fellow Christians who talk to Muslims but do not lift a
finger to help us. Do they take us for liars? I ask myself: Are we, for them,
false brothers or sub-brothers?"
My Algerian friend is right: How can we believe in the
sincerity of Christians who, whether they believe it or not, here in France of
Europe, only talk about 'Islamophobia' or the "stigmatisation of Muslims", and
are silent or look away from the sufferings and abuses visited upon Christians,
who are prevented from living their faith in their country of origin and
countries of exile? Are they not discriminating between them and us? Short of calling
it racism, is it not segregation between them and us? How can they believe in
fairness when they only complain about some and not other injustices?
Let me conclude here by reiterating, before God and to whoever
has ears to hear, the words of a famous daughter of France: Our duty is not to
convince you. Like Joan of Arc who is represented by this statue, since our
Lord must be served first and our soul belongs to God according to the
expression of Saint Augustine, whose name this church bears, we publicly bear
witness that Jesus Christ is persecuted today in his brothers and sisters who
come from the Muslim tradition.