Ethnic Cleansing Could Lead to Mass Exodus of Middle East Christians
ICC Note: As religious and political leaders look at the trends from recent days, it is hard not fear that violence against Christians may continue to drive large numbers of them to seek refuge outside of their homelands. The level of violence has many looking back some 1300 or 1400 years to find a historical equivalent. Yet, far too often, when world leaders do speak on the issue, they fail to ever accompany those words with actions.
03/19/14 Middle East (Christian Post) – The former President of Lebanon, Amine Gemayel, is a Maronite Christian. He recently warned of “an exodus approaching biblical proportions.” Gemayel told a gathering in Zurich of Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and other human rights activists that the current wave of church burnings, murders, and riots against Christians in the Mideast is the work of radical Islamists. The former Lebanese leader’s own brother had been assassinated in Beirut by these same jihadists.
President Gemayel’s warnings echo those issued two years ago by Vienna’s Catholic prelate. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn in 2012 told a religious freedom roundtable in Washington that Egypt and Syria “must not become Iraq.” He was referring to the ethnic cleansing that had led the post-Saddam government of Iraq to turn a blind eye to the killing or the driving out of more than half of that war-torn Arab country’s pre-invasion Christian population of 1.6 million.
Cardinal Schönborn listed many famous cities-Antioch, Smyrna, Aleppo, Damascus, Hippo, Alexandria-among the scores of Dioceses that had fallen under the Sword of Mohammed in the Seventh and Eighth Centuries. These historic Christian communities were lost or suppressed by Muslim conquests.
Not since those violent days have we seen such tribulation for the regions Christians, the Cardinal said. That was in 2012. Last Christmas, as if to answer the Cardinal’s message, a Chaldean Christian church was bombed in Baghdad.
As President Gemayel now tells us, the situation has grown even worse. For this, the Obama administration bears a heavy responsibility. President Obama spoke movingly of Christian persecution in the world at February’s congressional Prayer Breakfast. But he failed to note that these Christians were not persecuting themselves, or each other. In virtually every case, they are being targeted by radical Islamists, jihadists.
Mr. Obama’s CIA Chief, John Brennan, refuses even to identify the persecutors. He says we cannot call them jihadists because jihad is a legitimate tenet of the Muslim religion. We cannot call them radical Islamists, because that would be disrespectful to a major world religion.