'ISIS Is Not the Problem,' Says Christian Convert Tortured and Thrown to Dogs

(Photo: Reuters)ISIS militants in Iraq are seen in this undated photo.

A Christian convert who was jailed and horrendously tortured because of his faith in Christ says the radical extremist problem facing the world today is much bigger than just the Islamic State.

Although many in the world today might view IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) as the largest threat facing the world, the leader of the international human rights group One Free World International, the Rev. Majed el-Shafie, told the British news site Express the day after two IS-affiliated radicals killed a French priest during a morning mass in Normandy that "ISIS is not the problem."

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(Photo: One Free World International)Majed el-Shafie

In an interview, Shafie, who was the subject of the 2012 documentary "Freedom Fighter," shared the story of how he was imprisoned, heinously tortured and sentenced to death by government actors 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 was quoted as saying. "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."

Shafie never lost his faith throughout the ordeal, and recalled a "miracle" moment when the guards let a pack of dogs into his cell, expecting them to maul him.

"Quite honestly many people don't believe in miracles and that's fine, but when they released the dogs I sat in the corner and covered my face to the best of my ability," he explained. "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 continued. "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 hospitalized and placed under house arrest, where, with the help of his friends, he was able to escape Alexandria.

"When I was escaping Alexandria I hid behind the police station, it was the last place they would look," he said. "I made my way to Sinai and there I stole a jet ski and I waited until it was 5:30 p.m. when the sun would be behind me and made my way towards the border with Israel."

Shafie was later granted asylum in Canada and founded his charity, which focuses on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and operates in 28 countries.

(Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)A young girl prays near flowers and candles at the town hall in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, France, to pay tribute to French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed with a knife and another hostage seriously wounded in an attack on a church that was carried out by assailants linked to Islamic State, July 26, 2016.

As IS' area of impact is no longer just Iraq and Syria and has spread globally with attacks in France, Belgium, the United States, Bangladesh, Libya, Yemen and other countries, Shafie stressed that global persecution is not a new phenomenon.

"I believe Christians are a main target just like we used to be. This has been happening to Christians in the Middle East for hundreds of years. It might be shocking right now but it's not new," Shafie said. "It's no surprise what is happening in all these countries with these attacks."

Shaffie believes the solution has to come from Muslim nations working to change hardline jihadi ideology, with a "big focus on education."

Considering that nations like Pakistan are giving children textbooks that incite hatred towards Christians and other non-Muslim groups, ridding schools of radical indoctrination is an ideal place to start.

"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 stressed. "The problem is the ideology of the extremists and the Muslim community has to work with us."

The radical ideology that Shafie speaks of is not found only jihadi groups and radical lone wolves but also in many Arab, African and Asian governments that imprison and kill Christians and other religious minorities for apostasy or blasphemy and also turn a blind eye when Muslims persecute those communities.

To the credit of Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, he issued a remark similar to Shafie when he gave a speech to leading Muslim clerics at the 1,000-year-old Al-Azhar University and argued that they are responsible "before Allah" for helping lead a "religious revolution."

Despite Sisi's call for a revolution, things are still far from perfect for Christians and other religious minorities in Egypt.

One Egyptian Christian from Cairo who recently spoke with Breitbart Jerusalem said Christians in the country still feel like second-class citizens and are just as intimidated today as they were under the leadership of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

"We can walk freely without fear of persecution, but the feeling is that when it comes to the freedom of religious worship we aren't equal citizens," Majdi said. "We feel compelled to apologize for being Coptic Christians and feel uncomfortable to ask to pray in a church."

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith