Monday, 18 July 2005, the Frontline Fellowship Field Director, was surrounded by a mob of Muslim students at the University of Pretoria threatening him and demanding that the Frontline Fellowship missions display be removed. We had been officially invited by the University Missions Committee to take part in their “Go Love the Nations” Missions Week.
MUSLIM MOB AT MISSIONS WEEK
Within two hours of setting up the Frontline Fellowship missions display, we began to receive hostile reactions from Muslim students, some of whom swore and cursed at our missionary, and threatened his life. Soon a mob of fifteen to twenty Muslim students were surrounding the Frontline mission display shouting and swearing at him. Some tore up or burned Frontline literature. A Muslim member of the Student Representative Council then fetched the Dean of students to inform us that we had to dismantle the Frontline mission display.
That afternoon, we were informed by the TUKS Missions Committee that they could not allow our mission display to be set up again. It was mentioned that the Frontline Fellowship newsletters, in what they reported on the activities and teachings of Muslims, were too offensive to Muslim students.
HOSTILE PHONE CALLS
On the same day, our mission in Cape Town received a number of hostile phone calls from Muslims. The two phone calls that I personally dealt with were with people who identified themselves as Muslim students of the University of Pretoria. The first was from a Muslim woman who was quite abusive and emotional. When I asked for any specific factual inaccuracies in our publications she preferred to curse me and threaten retribution for having “insulted the prophet Muhammad”. She asked how dare we come to what she termed “our university”. When I asked which university that was, she reiterated: “Pretoria University, our university”. I asked whether universities were not meant to be places of free speech. Her answer made clear that she believed that freedom of speech should only be for Islam, not Christianity.
When I asked her if she, as a woman, would be free to drive a motorcar in Saudi Arabia, or whether she would have the vote in Saudi Arabia, she became particularly emotional and abusive, and asked “what the hell does that have to do with you? Saudi Arabia is our country! It's none of your business what we do in our country!” When I asked how Pretoria University could be “her” university and Saudi Arabia be her home at the same time, she slammed the phone down.
The second caller was more controlled, but also threatened serious consequences and hell fire for having “insulted the prophet Muhammad”. I made clear that if there were any factual errors in our publications, we would be keen to rectify that. He didn't mention any specific inaccuracies in our End of Islam article, but only that it was “insulting to the prophet Muhammad”. He defended the fact that there were no churches or missionaries allowed in Saudi Arabia, because it is a Muslim country.
When I asked how then he could object to a Christian mission having a display at a Christian Missions Week in the University of Pretoria, he reiterated that Pretoria is “our University” and we were not welcome there.
DEATH THREAT FATWA BY FAX
These abusive phone calls, coming along with a death threat fatwa, which I had received the previous week, and a Muslim mob intimidating a students Mission Committee to expel a mission to Muslims from the university Missions Week, had ominous implications.
The death threat informed me that as the Director of Frontline Fellowship, I was: “... worthy of death, not by stoning, but to be cut up piece by piece, and your remains given to dogs and hyenas…”
The letter, which came to our office by fax, said that we “should be eliminated from the face of this earth. You have the audacity to insult 2 billion adherents to this mighty and great religion, the perfect and final religion of the almighty. ... the last and final prophet of god, namely the holy prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) without retribution from just one person of the 2 billion plus Muslim men and women of the face of this earth, .... The Fatwa will definitely come for you, ... You are worthy of death…Go burn in hell…LONG LIVE ISLAM, AMANDLA ISLAM.”
EXPECT TO BE SHOT ON SIGHT
This was not the first death threat that I'd received from Muslim extremists. The official Government of Sudan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, website posted an article “Why Churches In Sudan Are Not Bombed” which bluntly stated that Peter Hammond should “expect to be bombed” every time he comes to Sudan, he should “expect to be shot on sight”. They even gave the reason: “Because his writings make him an enemy of the state!” We also had Muslims at the gate of our mission headquarters in Cape Town complaining about my Muslim Evangelism Workshop Manual.
All of this, taken along with the bombings and assassinations by Muslim extremists worldwide, hardly support the contention of those who say that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH UNDER FIRE
Universities are meant to be places of critical investigation. Freedom of speech is an essential foundation for any serious education. Universities must be a free market place of ideas where dissent, disagreements, debates and open discussion - without threats and interference with the freedom of others - is essential to discover the truth which will set us free.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION THREATENED
The TUKS Missions Week is the biggest Christian activity on the campus of Pretoria University. That threats by Muslim students should intimidate a missions committee to exclude a mission to Muslims has far reaching implications. If a university cannot protect freedom of speech, and if a missions week cannot exercise freedom of religion, without threats of violence, what are the implications for other universities and missions weeks?
I phoned the Chairperson of the Missions Committee and she informed me that the Missions Committee had no choice because: “We were scared for his life”; “We did not want to have trouble…”; “We can't provide 24 hour security…”; “We can't have a riot on campus…”; “Your exhibitor was in danger…”; “He was threatened”.
So, I asked why it is that the victim of this threat of violence was the one being excluded, instead of those students who had done the threatening?
WHO IS BEING INTOLERANT?
Then I was told that our missions literature was “insensitive”, that UP is a multi-racial, multi-cultural university which needed to be sensitive to other beliefs. And incredibly, she declared that Christian students would have reacted in just the same way had there been similar literature written against their beliefs! To this I had to strenuously disagree. The Islamic Propagation Center International has printed multiplied millions of copies of offensive, blasphemous, anti-Christian publications, such as Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction, The God Who Never Was, etc., much of which had been distributed on the UP campus.
Despite a relentless barrage of anti-Christian publications, articles and films, I was not aware of a single case of Christians threatening violence, carrying out bombings, or assassinations, in retaliation to anti-Christian blasphemy. The most blasphemous film ever produced, The Last Temptation of Christ, received much protest, but again, I wasn't aware of any violence perpetrated by Christians against Universal Pictures as a result.
I pointed out that 'The End of Islam' article was only a reaction to relentless Islamic propaganda against Christianity. Our article, and the book on which it is based,' Slavery, Terrorism and Islam - The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threats', seeks to objectively and factually answer the relentless propaganda of Muslim publications.
At this I was informed that she and the Missions Committee “totally agree with Frontline Fellowship, with your work and what you write…” but “the tone”, that it was “too hard…too controversial…” I had to point out that much of the Bible is also very controversial and offensive to many, but we have to love the Muslims enough to tell them the truth and reach out to them with the Gospel.
TELLING THE TRUTH IN LOVE
Basic to any missions conference is the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to God; all outside of Christ are lost and need redemption in Christ.
Muslims are the largest group of un-reached people in the world. To point out that there is no atonement, no forgiveness of sins in Islam, that they need to turn in repentance and place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, may be offensive to Muslims, but it is the truth. It is also the reason why we have missions.
WHERE IS THIS GOING TO END?
If a group of non-Christians are allowed to interfere with our freedom of conscience, belief and opinion and intimidate organisers of a missions event to exclude a mission to Muslims, where is that going to end? If every mission to Muslims is excluded from Missions Weeks, then can the Hindus not insist that missions to Hindus are similarly excluded? Are Missions Weeks only to consist of those organisations which do not offend anyone? Is it possible to fulfil the Great Commission without offending some people?
BLAME THE VICTIM
Is it justice when the victims of violent threats are excluded instead of those guilty of making the violent threats? Are the victims always to blame?
How effective will our universities be, if they tolerate such threats to freedom of speech? How effective will Missions Weeks be if Muslim militants are allowed to determine which missions may participate? Is this part of a larger campaign to sideline Christianity off the campuses?
THE GREAT COMMISSION IS OUR PRIORITY
I have been a missionary for 28 years. For most of that time I have specialised in Islam. By God's grace, I have had the privilege of smuggling some of the largest shipments of Bibles ever delivered into an officially Islamic country. The Frontline Fellowship mission base in Sudan was bombed ten times by the Sudan Air Force. I've come under artillery and rocket attack and aerial bombardments while preaching in churches in Sudan.
REACHING THE UNREACHED
We expect opposition from militant Muslims. What we do not expect is that Christians would bow so quickly to the intimidation and threats of those people who we should be committed to reaching for our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may run swiftly ..., and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.”
2 Thessalonians 3:1 & 2
Dr. Peter Hammond
Director, Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74, Newlands, 7725, Cape Town, South Africa