The Underreported Persecution Of Christians
ICC: Persecution of Christians is unheard of today, it is not possible in the 21st century, so people think!
by Herb Denenberg
10/26/2007, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, (The Bulletin) — There’s an uncivilized and widespread persecution and discrimination of one religious group going on in the Middle East, as well as such places as Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria and the Philippines. The zone of persecution and murder extends to parts of Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.
Yet, the mainstream media virtually ignores the story and the world is silent, without great protest or calls for action. Is this some obscure religion that is subjected to this unthinkable onslaught? No, it is the majority religion of the world, involving Christianity and Christians.
Of course, if you rely on the mainstream media for news and information, you may barely be aware of this phenomenon. That’s because the mainstream media is putting out such biased, dishonest and fraudulent journalism – managed by editors with anti-American, anti-religion, anti-military, anti-conservative and anti-family values bias – that it has no time for one of the major outrages of recent history.
This issue was called to my attention by an extensive article on the subject by Lela Gilbert, one of the leading authorities on anti-Christian persecution. She is a co-author of Their Blood Cries Out and most recently author of Baroness Cox: Eye Witness to a Broken World, two books on the subject. She is now an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom (www.crf.hudson.org).
Ms. Gilbert traveled to Israel with “the conviction that an assault upon Jews is an implicit assault upon Christians since it strikes at the root of the same ancient tree.” On her visit to Jerusalem, she soon started to focus on discrimination against Christians. She encountered “a kaleidoscope of pilgrims and sojourners,” more than a few of which were suffering from persecution under Muslim regimes.
As she observed the scene in Israel, she was struck by the similarity of Christian persecution in country after country, “evident not only in body count but in kidnapping and enslavement, rape, mutilation and torture.”
As she worked on two different writing projects involving persecution of the Christians, she noticed that neither cited abuse of Jews. Why? With few exceptions, the Jews have already been slaughtered, expelled or fled for their lives from these locations. Ms. Gilbert found that Middle Eastern Christians are fleeing from their homeland “at an accelerated rate and in ever increasing numbers.”
As these Christian communities are being driven to extinction, what is not recognized is that they are among the most ancient of Christian communities. These communities, contrary to a popular and erroneous impression, are not “colonial implants” of recent origin. Ms. Gilbert writes that in fact prior to the Muslim conquest of the mid-seventh century, “the large majority of the inhabitants of the area now divided into countries of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were Christians, including many Arab Christians. Even Arabia has major Christian communities in such places as present day Bahrain, Yemen, and the Najran area of western Arabia south of Mecca.
This unspeakable situation is now getting worse. Ms. Gilbert writes that in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent, “Islamist aggression is also spreading and intensifying.” Today there is only one country in the Middle East where the Christian population is not declining but continues to increase: Israel. Home to nearly 6 million Jews, Israel also hosts a multitude of Christian creeds, confessions and cultures. For the most part, these Jews and Christians live in safety.
Why is the world silent in the face of the murder and persecution of Christians by the Islamofascists? Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? How can this be happening?
To me, it is inexplicable. It calls to mind a quote Ms. Gilbert used from the noted military historian and journalist Victor David Hanson, when commenting upon the most recent war between Israel and Hamas terrorists based in Lebanon. Mr. Hanson wrote, “Our present generation is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians. In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.”
Yes, the persecution of Christians around a major segment of the world is one form of moral insanity. The failure of the world to protest and fight back seems to be an even more advanced form of moral insanity.
One of the reasons the world is sleeping through this epidemic of Christian persecution is the failure of the media to cover the story. Incidentally, I thought it was interesting that only one media outlet was quoted in Ms. Gilbert’s extensive piece: The Bulletin. She quotes a piece by Joseph Puder about the anti-Christian goings-on in Egypt.
I don’t want to have to explain the media failure by Mr. Hanson’s “moral insanity,” although that might be part of the problem. So I asked Ms. Gilbert to explain that mainstream media failure to cover the persecution of the Christians. She responded with the following reasons:
1. Stories are hard to verify and often have to be reported without full names, etc., due to risks to family members who remain behind or to surviving victims themselves. Also, some organizations’ “prayer letters” exaggerate or print gruesome rumors, urban legends, etc., for fundraising purposes. Editors are skittish if they don’t see solid sources. (There are, however, good organizations like Compass Direct and others that are trustworthy.)
2. Dhimmitude (fear) within the Christian communities – blame the violence on land disputes, blame it on tribalism, blame it on family feuds, blame it political or judicial corruption. Just don’t blame Islam!
3. Reports of persecution support the Bush message that there are indeed violent jihadis at work in the world. That flies in the face of liberalism’s party line: Maybe there are isolated incidents, but they are just random criminal activities – there is no global jihad. It’s a Cheney-Halliburton fabrication intended to defend the Iraq war, form a fascist police state, etc. Which brings us back to Hanson’s point about global moral insanity.
4. Christians in Muslim lands are assumed (by Western elites) to be colonial byproducts, CIA agents or Zionist collaborators. Whenever bad things happen to them, they have it coming. Their ancient, pre-Islamic history is entirely overlooked or ignored.
5. If Christians kept their beliefs private and stopped drawing attention to themselves and, worse, proselytizing, they’d be fine. It’s their own fault for singing too loudly in their house churches, sharing their faith with their neighbors, wearing cross tattoos or pendants and (for women) not covering their heads.
6. Persecution is overlooked for the same reason the Rwanda massacre in the 1990s appeared in newspapers’ pages 18 or 20 or 30 for weeks on end while O.J. and his murder victims filled up the front pages day in and day out. Foreign murders and atrocities are not “sexy” and don’t sell papers or attract viewers.
Ms. Gilbert’s article also includes a brief overview of Christian persecution in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, the West Bank and Gaza, and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Here are a few examples of Christian persecution in various countries:
Iraq: “For Christians who remain in Iraq, tragedies abound. For example, in Baghdad, Fouad Salim, who worked at a police station in Razaliyah, was attacked as he left work. A Christian who refused to convert to Islam, he was murdered by Shiite militants on June 17 . Two weeks before, terrorists had gunned down a Chaldean Catholic priest and three of his deacons, dragging them out of a car and shooting them repeatedly. On Apr. 14, a Baghdad emir issued a convert-or-die fatwa against six Christian families, who immediately fled to the homes of friends in other parts of the city. In October 2006, Fr. Boulos Iskander, 59, a Syrian Orthodox priest, was beheaded in a town near Mosul. His kidnappers had demanded $40,000 and that the priest’s church publicly repudiate Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks about Islam. Iskander did not comply and it cost him his life.”
Iran: The small Christian community of Iran is facing intensified crackdowns. Ms. Gilbert writes, “In recent months, intending to intimidate and pressure them, hard-line authorities have detained, interrogated and eventually released Christians from several denominations and communities across various regions of Iran.” The crackdown also included attacks on private homes where Christians gather for worship. “In one instance, in December 2006, secret police raided Christian fellowships in Karaj, Teheran, Rashi and Bandar-I Anazali. They confiscated computers, literature and Bibles and arrested 15 Christians whom they accused of evangelism and actions against the national security. Save one, all have been released but only after forfeiting money, job permits and even house deeds as bail.”
Sudan: Although a peace accord is in force, the situation of 9 million Christians is precarious. It is estimated that more than 2 million have died, many of them Christians. Some 4 million people have been displaced.
Ms. Gilbert quotes Baroness Cox speaking to the House of Lords in January 2006, summarizing South Sudan’s battle with Islamization: “There are real fears that the government in Khartoum, having destroyed the way of life of the people of Darfur and left destroyed communities and structures everywhere, will do everything possible to prevent the development of a peaceful, stable, prosperous and democratic south. Therefore, the challenges confronting the south, such as the provision of adequate resources to rebuild devastated lands and lives, need to be addressed urgently if the peace, which was won at such a price, is not going to be lost in another war or exploited to build an Islamist agenda that could spread not only through Sudan but far beyond in Africa.”
Ms. Gilbert ends on this note: “Any Christian or Jew who prays for the peace of Jerusalem during these years of global jihad faces sobering realities. The sword of Islam, forged in hatred’s flames, is wielded by devotees of death. We who have chosen life must do more than pray. We must fight for our children, our nations, our faith, our future, our very existence. Thankfully, with entwined roots planted in common ground, neither Christians nor Jews need fight the battle alone.”