Extremist ideology, not ISIS, is the problem; Christian persecution not new, says convert who witnessed prison 'miracle'


"ISIS is not the problem."

The statement comes from the Rev. Majed el-Shafie, a Christian convert who suffered horrible torture at the hands of Islamic extremists and experienced a "miracle" in prison when rabid dogs unleashed to maul him did not even touch him.

Shafie told the Daily Express in a recent interview that although many people view the Islamic State (ISIS) as the largest threat facing the world, the problem really is the unfettered growth of hard-line Islamist ideology worldwide, as magnified by the ISIS.

"ISIS is not the problem, before them it was al-Qaeda, before them it was Hezbollah and Hamas and before them there were other organisations," he explained. "The problem is the ideology of the extremists and the Muslim community has to work with us" [to change it].

The Christian convert who suffered greatly for upholding his Christian faith said the solution to the global terrorism problem has to come from Muslim nations, pointing out the need for them to change hard-line jihadi ideology with a "big focus on education."

He noted that Muslim nations like Pakistan are giving children textbooks that incite hatred towards Christians and other non-Muslim groups. He said ridding Islamic schools of radical indoctrination is an ideal place to start uprooting the problem of terrorism.

Shafie also said the global persecution of Christians is not really a new phenomenon since "this has been happening to Christians in the Middle East for hundreds of years" now.

"It might be shocking right now but it's not new," he added.

In the Express interview, Shafie also recalled how he was imprisoned, heinously tortured and sentenced to death in Egypt for converting from Islam to Christianity and helping build house churches in 1998.

"They shaved my head, they put my head in freezing cold water and then into boiling hot water," Shafie said. "They burned their cigarettes on me, they electrocuted me.

"They cut me and put salt in my wounds," he added. "I still wake with nightmares about it, even now 20 years on."

One incident he could not forget was when the guards let a pack of dogs into his cell with the intent to tear him bodily apart.

"When they released the dogs I sat in the corner and covered my face to the best of my ability," he recounted. "I tried to protect my back and chest. ... The dogs came and I prepared for pain and agony but I could not feel any."

"I moved my arms and the dogs were sitting around me. None of them moved toward me. ... The dogs just didn't move," he said. "The prison guards got another set of dogs and the same thing happened, but this time one of the dogs licked my face."

Shafie was eventually hospitalised and placed under house arrest, where, with the help of his friends, he was able to escape Alexandria, later to Israel, and then to Canada where he was granted asylum and where he later founded the international human rights group One Free World International, which focuses on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The group now operates in 28 countries.