Christians Fear Aftermath Of ‘Arab Spring’
Christians Fear Aftermath Ff ‘Arab Spring’
Christians in the Middle East fear a growing persecution will follow the so-called “Arab spring,” says a Tulsa minister who for four decades has worked to build churches around the world.
By Bill Sherman
10/01/2011 Islam (Tulsa World)-“I don’t know if I’d call it an Arab spring; maybe it’s an Arab winter,” said Terry Law, who just returned from several weeks of meetings with Christians in the Middle East.
Law founded World Compassion Terry Law Ministries in 1969 to take humanitarian aid, Christian literature and church support to nations traditionally hostile to Christianity.
Law said Christians he talked to in the Middle East fear that what happened to Christians in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein will be repeated as other secular dictators fall.
“Saddam as a dictator provided protection for churches,” he said.
When Hussein fell, persecution of ethnic Christians stepped up. Many of them fled to Kurdistan, a region that includes portions of northern Iraq.
Law said Ramez Atallah, general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt, told him three weeks ago in Cairo that when the election cycle begins in Egypt in November, the Christian community “will not have a chance.”
Coptic Christians in Egypt and some people in the West are worried that a strong showing by the Muslim Brotherhood would move the nation away from its secular foundation.
“If a radical is elected in Egypt, I don’t think that there’s enough education in democratic procedures there to protect the freedom and safety of ethnic Christians in the country,” Law said.
He said the head of the Bible Society in Turkey expressed similar concerns about Libya, where the dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been deposed. Libya has a much smaller Christian population than Egypt.
And an uprising in Syria threatens the reign of President Bashar al-Assad, who allowed churches to remain in the nation. Many Syrian Christians are fleeing, Law said.
The New York Times reported this week that Syrian Christians, who are about 10 percent of the population, fear that a change of power could result in a tyranny of the Sunni Muslim majority and an end of the four decades of relative protection they enjoyed under the Assad family.
Law said he sees a biblical foundation for the ongoing trouble in the Middle East.
“Abraham is the father of the Muslim people and the Jewish people, and also of Christians, who have been grafted into the vine of Israel,” he said.
“The dividing factor of history is Ishmael and Isaac, the sons of Abraham. And the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Isaac are going toe to toe in the Middle East.”
He said American Christians need to change their attitude toward Islam.
“I think by and large Americans have hated Islam because of 9/11, and they think Islam made that happen,” he said. “But we’ve got to find a moderate position. We may disagree with their religion, but their people are people that need Jesus like everybody else.”