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ICC Note: As the international community contemplates intervention in the Syrian conflict, an overlooked aspect in the calculus is the impact the outcome of the intervention will have on religious minorities, and particularly Christians. There is no clear good answer at best, and until one side or the other will commit to a protection of the rights of all Syrians the violence will continue and Christians will be among those who suffer the most.
By Robin Harris
8/31/2013 Syria (Spectator) – David Cameron will almost certainly get his Syrian war. Who will fight it, let alone who will win it, remains unclear. But who will lose it is already known — the Christians.
The relentless persecution of Christ’s followers is foretold in the Gospels. Suffering is portrayed as the pathway to triumph. The global position today conforms quite closely to that picture. Three quarters of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians — the expanding part — now live outside the largely tolerant West. At the same time, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that Christians suffer more persecution than any other religious group.
Within the Middle East, however, the story is not of expansion accompanied by persecution but of persecution leading to elimination. The ‘Sunday’ people are now following the ‘Saturday’ people out of the Middle East. The outgoing Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who knows that history, has called the suffering of Arab Christians ‘a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked’. He complained that ‘people don’t speak more about it’.
But do not expect the British government to speak about it. In all the deliberation about targets, timetables and media opportunities, as they ratchet up Britain’s creaking war machine, not a moment will be wasted on the consequences of intervention for Syria’s Christian population. Whether in Iraq, or Syria, or Egypt, or in any future hotspot (Lebanon will probably be next) the Christian community somehow is always just too insignificant, and usually on the wrong side of the argument. In Iraq, Christians were thought too close to Saddam. In Syria, they are reckoned too close to Assad. In Egypt, where the Coptic Pope openly backed the military ‘non-coup’ against the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Morsi, the Christians find no sympathy from western policy makers.
One reason is that Arab Christians do not fit into the governing global misconceptions. In the Middle East, reflective people are unimpressed by promises of democracy. In particular, Christians there have understood, after centuries of experience, that western promises are worthless, because westerners never stay engaged. Christians reckon that their only guarantee of survival is stability; that their only hope for equality is secularism; and that their two great enemies are Islamic zeal and anarchy. And they are right, even if that makes no sense to Britain’s neocon Prime Minister and his advisers.
Wherever any strongly Islamic regime is in power, Christians suffer. It is an immutable rule. And the more Islamic the state, the harsher the treatment Christians receive. Since the Arab Spring, every upheaval or election in the Middle East has brought some brand of Islamist to power. In every case, Christians are threatened.

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