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Who will defend Mideast Christians?

ICC Note:

Whatever happens in Egypt as a result of the 25 January revolution, “Egypt’s Coptic Christians are going to be hurt, unless the United States makes a major diplomatic effort to help them,” USA Today reports.

By Joseph Bottum 

2/7/2011 Egypt (USA Today) – Perhaps the situation in Egypt will resolve itself peacefully. Or perhaps we’ll see a long stretch of public unrest before the nation finally stumbles its way into a new form of stable government. But there’s one easy prediction to make: Whatever happens, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are going to be hurt, unless the United States makes a major diplomatic effort to help them.

About 10% of the Egyptian population (and declining, down more than half over the past century), these people have suffered discrimination under 30 years of rule by the now-embattled president, Hosni Mubarak. And they’ve seen that discrimination ratcheted up into open persecution during the current unrest, which began with a car bomb in Alexandria killing 21 at a Coptic church on Jan. 1 and continued through the massacre of 11 Christians in the village of Sharona on Jan. 30.

So why should they expect improvement from a new government? Particularly one in which the radical Muslim Brotherhood is certain to play a major role? The Copts are under the screw, and somehow, every time modern Egyptian history makes a turn, it ends up biting down harder on the nation’s religious minorities.

Of course, Egypt’s Christians are hardly alone in their suffering. Here’s a headline from 2010: “Catholic Bishop Stabbed to Death in Turkey.” And here’s another: “Islamist hard-liners in Indonesia target Christians.” And another: “Iraqi Christians mourn after church siege kills 58.” The Christmas season saw 48 killed in Muslim attacks in Nigeria. On Christmas Day, Iran opened its campaign against conversions by arresting dozens of evangelicals. Bombs left on the doorsteps of Christian homes in Iraq killed two and injured 14 on Dec. 30.

A willful blindness

This American abdication has produced only more oppression — and it’s accelerating at a horrifying rate. Nearly every day since Christmas, Christians have been murderously attacked for the simple fact of being Christians.

Our willful blindness is shameful, and our inactivity is wrong. The United States must preface every diplomatic exchange with an Islamic country by demanding religious liberty and a halt to persecution. And we need to do it now — while there are still a few Christians left to defend in their ancient homelands.

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