Yesterday’s killing of Custos of the Holy Land: Fr Franҫois Mourad by Islamist insurgents in al-Ghassaniyah is just the latest incident of Christians’ persecution at the hands of Obama-backed rebels in Syria. During the past 18 months well over a thousand Christians have been killed by the FSA goons and other rebel groups. Many of them have fallen prey to organized massacres in Christian neighbourhoods. The loss of property and belongings for the Christians in Syria has also been phenomenal, proportionately more than for any other community.
Last week, Sarah Palin had a word of wisdom for President Obama. Speaking at a ‘Faith and Freedom Coalition’ meeting, Palin warned against a US military intervention in Syria saying, “both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, Allah o Akbar. I say let Allah sort it out.” However, what she forgot was that it will still leave the Christians in the country exposed to the unrelenting wrath of the jihadists. About 50,000 Christians have had to flee their homes in the city of Aleppo alone. Christians are regularly kidnapped and beheaded by jihadi rebels. Mind you Christians were in Syria 600 years before Muslims conquered the nation.
Syria may be the most conspicuous example of the Christians’ persecution at the hands of Muslims but it is by no means the only one. In fact, I have noticed that the Jihadist oppression of Christians in a number of Muslim countries is one of the biggest under-reported stories in media circles perhaps because in many instances it is dispensed by the western-backed forces of Islam. Western weakness in opposing radical Islam and its propensity to ingratiate its backers has left the jihadists feeling heartened. Hence, this dramatic story is one of the least known ones to the common man in the Christian world because of the mainstream media’s apathy in reporting the reality of Christian persecution at the hands of radical Islam, especially the kind sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Qatar round the world. The beheading of a Christian in broad daylight in the UK may be an isolated incident in the West but this is a thing that happens frequently in the domains on the watch of Islamist extremists. Muslims who convert to Christianity are killed with impunity.
As the pulpit in the Muslim world is now largely dominated by the radicals, most of the Muslims are subjected to hate narrative from radical imams. This inculcates apathy at the general level in the face of the violence against Christians perpetrated by the extremists, as the Christians pretend to go about their lives with danger etched on their souls. All around the Muslim world, a combative, exclusivist, and militant Islam is energized by Jihadist doctrine and bankrolled by the Gulf Arabs as billions of petro dollars have been made available for the spread of the extremist Islam leading to global Jihad. These extremists make deft use of technology and modern means of communication in the service of their objectives.
After the rise of Islamists in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s downfall, the biggest Arab country, Egypt, has been witnessing a resurgence of violence towards Christians. As the largest Arab country and with the oldest and largest Christian population in the Muslim heartland, it would be apt to see Egypt as the model of Muslims’ treatment of Christians. Blasphemy charges are one of the favourite tools of the Islamists to persecute the Copts in Egypt. For example, recently a young Christian school teacher was arrested and is expecting a prison sentence because a couple of her 10-year-old Muslim students accused her of looking ‘disgusted’ when teaching Islamic history. Similarly many other Copts have been imprisoned on the charges of insulting Islam. Mob attacks on churches and individual Christians are becoming ever-more frequent.
Boko Haram, a Salafist Islamist movement in Nigeria, is even more barbaric than the Jihadists in Syria. It has killed thousands of Christians during the recent years in the instances embodying the intent to exterminate Christians from the North of the country. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed by Boko Haram. When the Nigerian government recently tried to go on the offensive it was warned by John Kerry to exercise restraint in observance of the human rights.
In Pakistan, Christians are officially declared a minority, which reduces them to a status denying equality of rights with Muslims and are subjected to various types of discrimination. Jihadist aggression, in the form of mob violence and threats, is widespread. Some years ago, 18 Pakistani Christians were murdered during a worship service. More recently some Christian neighbourhoods have been completely burned down and pillaged on the pretext of some individual’s performing a blasphemous act. The Muslim governor of the largest province (Punjab) and a Christian federal legislator were killed for speaking up against the persecution of Christians in their country.
Iraq has also seen increasing persecution of its Christians in the recent years. At least half of about a million Christians who lived in Iraq prior to 2003 have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein and only about fifty of then 300 churches remain. One of the most dramatic cases of Christian persecution came in late October of 2010, when Al Qaeda members laid siege to Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, killing 58 and wounding 78.
In Saudi Arabia, absolutely no public expression of Christianity is permitted. There is a nationwide ban on all Christian churches, artefacts, and literature.
In Indonesia the extremist group Lashkar e Jihad has killed thousands of Christians and has forcibly converted many to Islam, while destroying hundreds of churches.
In Sudan, the Khartoum regime for years waged a bloody jihad against the Christians in the southern part of the country. About two million were killed and over five million displaced as the government forces and their cohorts bombed, burned, and pillaged southern villages for years.
In Somalia the Muslim militants have murdered a number of Christians over the years.
In Iran an American Pastor Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence for his alleged work with Christians. Christians are often charged for evangelizing and the converts persecuted.
It is about time that the public in the West wakes up to the reality of Christian persecution in the Muslim world and forces its leaders to do something about it. The western governments are not expected to act of their own initiative as they abet the fires of a violent sectarian conflict that now threaten to devour a vast region from Pakistan to Maghreb. What the international liberators sowed with the Iraq war is now ready for the harvest as Shias and Sunnis are riddled with a hostile antagonism never witnessed in the past fourteen hundred years of their shared faith and common history. With high stakes such as these to play for, the plight of Christians at the hands of radical Islam probably presents a necessary collateral damage palatable to the Western governments.