Tunisia: ISIS expands footprint; more violence

Source:                www.MNNonline.org

Date:                    March 23, 2015

 

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Tunisia (MNN) — The Islamic State claimed credit for the deadly museum attack in Tunisia last Thursday. On Friday, ISIS militants in Yemen’s capital city blew themselves up, killing more than 100 and injuring hundreds more in two Shiite mosques during midday prayers.

The brazen assaults highlight the danger that the violent jihadist Sunni-based movement poses to the stability of the governments in question. Yemen just survived a coup that put Shiite Muslims in power. In Tunisia, it’s a newly emergent democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring. It’s not likely to stop there, says Open Doors USA President and CEO, David Curry. “I believe we’re going to see more events like this because you have large populations of people who are in need of resources–they don’t have jobs. The Islamic state, because they’ve been allowed to grow and prosper, have the money to pay these folks to radicalize.”

The growing footprint of the Islamic State terror group debunks some analysis claiming it’s a regional movement. “There are some people that have tried to postulate that they have been ‘contained’ within a certain area of Northern Iraq and Syria, but it’s clear from the latest developments from Tunisia–and before that–Libya–that this ideology and their system is spreading.” Curry says ISIS cells have also been noted as active in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Egypt. “What they’re doing is essentially adopting any sort of extremist within the countries of origin. So, you could have it metastasizing at a very fast rate; in fact, that’s what’s happening.”

(Photo Tunisia courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo Tunisia courtesy Open Doors USA)

So much for the 2011 Arab Spring. In fact, what started off the revolutionary wave in other Arab countries turned out to be a disappointment, Curry explains. What happened in the Arab Spring really was more of an Arab Winter for Christians because it brought a lot of pressure and persecution to Christians. “Just like Egypt, they saw a revolt against their leadership: the placement of extremists within their government leadership structure. And then, the people revolted against that. So, you have even moderate Muslims within Tunisia revolting against extremism.”

However, a revolt won’t do much to stop the Islamic State. The moderate position taken by the government makes it an enticing target to subjugate. “As a whole, if you consider within the region, there have been positive developments politically, which could be very important for the future. That’s why Islamic State is making a point to attack, build, and grow within Tunisia.”

(Stock photo Tunisian women courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Stock photo Tunisian women courtesy Open Doors USA)

ISIS’ message is this: convert, pay up, or die. That hasn’t changed much since they swept through parts of Northern Iraq and began a reign of terror last summer.   Curry shares the crux of the matter: “I really do think you’re going to see a growth of persecution like we haven’t seen before in the past. I think it really does portend for a spiritual battle.” Yet, with every story of increased persecution, you also get the stories of dreams and visions of Christ. It’s what’s called the paradox of persecution. “The Gospel is growing. More people are coming to know Jesus as their Savior, but they’re also being forced out of their homelands in the Middle East.”

The People of the Cross have been targeted by groups like ISIS for extinction. Yet, the global outcry has yet to be joined.   Until it is, “We have to pray for them. We’ve got to encourage them–sometimes, to encourage them to stand in the face of persecution. Other times, we hope they have a chance to escape it, but that’s not always the case.” Would you add your voice to the chorus? Click here to take action.

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