Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.
Showing posts with label Middle Eastern Christians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle Eastern Christians. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Russia's "Protectorate" Over Middle Eastern Christians

Kremlin May Grant Citizenship to 50,000 Syrian Christians 

Putin (LaPresse/AP Photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has just eclipsed America's Marxist president on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and how telling it is also that the world's most persecuted Christians increasingly look to the Russian leader for protection, peace and justice.  

Vatican Insider reports that "defending Middle Eastern Christians has become a strategic asset for Putin and is in perfect harmony with the Patriarchate of Moscow's mission."

For a half century during Soviet-American summit meetings, American presidents raised the issue of the persecution of Christians and Jews in the Soviet Union.  Can the day be far off when the persecution of believers in the United States is raised by Russian leaders?

The Kremlin is about to consider granting citizenship to about 50 thousand Syrian Christians in the region of Qualamun after they issued a collective request to Moscow’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In statements issued in the past few days, the spokesmen for President Putin and the Ministry confirmed that the request is being examined by the highest Russian authorities. “This is the first time since Christ’s birth that we, the Christians of Saidnaya and Maara Saidnaya, Maalula and Maarun are being threatened with expulsion from our land.”

The letter was full of praise for Putin’s Russia, which was described as a “powerful factor for global peace and stability”. But its remarks about western countries were less flattering: “the aim of the terrorists who are being supported by the West, is to eliminate our presence in our homeland. They use the most abhorrent methods to achieve this, murdering ordinary people for example.”

The fact that the Christian cause has caught the attention of the highest levels of Russia’s government seems to imply that the Kremlin sees their case as important in terms of geopolitics. Indeed this may be the main reason Russia has been defending their cause. The Patriarchate of Moscow’s spokesman said that the letter from the 50 thousand was proof of the “great authority” Russia has at the moment in the Middle East, “particularly among the Christian minorities living in that area.” Middle Eastern Christians  “have known for centuries that no other country would look after their interests in the same way Russia would,” said Archpriest Nikolaj Balashov, the number two man of the Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations. “To reaffirm the ties between Russia and the Churches in Syria, on 14 October the Moscow Spiritual Academy decided to erect a sculpture ensemble with a statue of Jesus at its centre, on a mountain in Syria which is also home to the Marian shrine of Saidnaya. Arab Christian pilgrims come to this shrine from all over the Middle East. The sculpture ensemble was intended as a symbol of peace in a country ravaged by war. This goes hand in hand with the Patriarchate of Moscow’s active efforts to champion the Middle Eastern Christian cause in the face of Islamist violence.
Read more at Vatican Insider >>



Monday, April 1, 2013

A Christian Catastrophe

Islamist ‘cleansing’ in Mideast

From New York Post
By Ralph Peters 
 
Islamist terrorists and fanatics are methodically exterminating the 2,000-year-old Christian civilization of the Middle East through oppression, threats, appropriations and deadly violence.

Our media ignore the intensifying savagery against Christians in Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt. Unconfirmed reports assert that, last month, Muslim Brothers dragged Christian protesters to a mosque and tortured them — but our reporters won’t look into an Islamist Abu Ghraib.

For a century and a half, the varied strands of Middle East Christianity have faced increasingly fierce pogroms and, for the Armenians, outright genocide. But with the rise of Wahhabi and Salafist terror, the long, slow-motion Holocaust accelerated.

Another attack on Egypt’s 10 million Coptic Christians: Firemen dousing a blaze at a New Year’s car bombing outside a Coptic church.Western liberals romanticize barbaric cultures but have no interest in the destruction — before their averted eyes — of a great and brilliant religious civilization. It’s as if they accept the Islamist creed that Christians don’t belong in the realms of Islam.

But the Middle East was more than just Christianity’s birthplace. The faith we know matured in the Middle East and North Africa, from Ephesus and Antioch to Alexandria and beyond. St. Augustine, the most influential church father after St. Paul, was a North African.

Rome was a latecomer to Christian authority. Through the Middle Ages, substantially more Christians lived east of Constantinople (now Istanbul) than in Europe, the faith’s backwater, whose northern reaches had yet to be evangelized.

Christianity’s greatest thinkers, greatest monuments and greatest triumphs for its first 1,000 years rose in the Middle East. Even the Muslim conquest and relative servitude could not dislodge Christianity. In the worst of times, Christianity turned the other cheek and endured. Some Christians flourished.

Today, the end is in sight.

In Iraq, cities such as Mosul and Saddam’s hometown, Tikrit, were once vital centers of Christianity. But the country’s Christian population, estimated at up to 2 million a decade ago, has fallen by half — perhaps by three-quarters. 

Over 2 million Christians in Syria dread Islamist terror and religious cleansing so much, they lean toward the vicious Assad regime, which at least shielded minorities. Those who can, flee the country.

Christians were early supporters of Arab nationalism. One of the fiercest Palestinian leaders, George Habash, was a Christian, as was the wife of Yasser Arafat. Their thanks? Two-thirds of the West Bank’s and more of Gaza’s Christians have been driven out. They’re now a small minority even in Bethlehem (a situation ignored by our visiting president).

Egypt has the region’s largest remaining Christian population, at least 10 million Copts. With rare exceptions, they’ve long been confined to squalid quarters and treated as third-class citizens. Now the Salafist fanatics have been unleashed. The nation’s Muslim Brotherhood rulers could put a stop to anti-Christian violence, but appear willing to let the Salafists do the dirty work for them. They’re playing bad cop, not-so-bad cop.

And we’ll send the regime at least a billion dollars this year — with no stipulations or conditions except that military-related funds must purchase US-made or US-licensed equipment. With Egypt’s economy in desperate straits and the Brotherhood’s popularity fading, we’re propping up religious-cleansing bigots.

Christians in Iran? Gone. Turkey? Almost gone. Saudi Arabia? The once-thriving Christian and Jewish populations of Mecca and Medina were finished off centuries ago.

And in Lebanon, the only Middle East country that until recently had a Christian majority, Christian rights have been so threatened by Sunni fanaticism that some Christians have reached out to Shia Hezbollah in their desperate hunt for allies. 

Far to the east, in Pakistan, Christians face trumped-up charges of insulting Islam or rape, beatings, murder and church bombings. And we still pour billions into Pakistan.

It’s the end of a world as we know it.

If Islam is a “religion of peace,” it’s time to show the evidence to the endangered Christians of the Middle East.

Of course, not all Christians are angels, nor are all Muslims demons. Most humans of any faith just want to get through the day. And some Christians have collaborated with odious Baathist regimes (usually, to ensure their community’s survival). Nor are most Muslims active supporters of the religious cleansing of Christians from their shared homelands.

But disappointingly few Muslims actively defend religious minorities. It’s not unlike Nazi Germany, where most Germans didn’t want to murder Jews, but were complicit through their silence.

If a Michigan mosque is defaced with graffiti, it makes national news and the Justice Department views it as a hate crime. It’s time for our government and media to apply the same standard abroad on behalf of Christians. 




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Murderers of Christianity

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Sunday, on the eve of All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, 2010, the faithful gathered at the Assyrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad.

As Father Wassim Sabih finished the mass, eight al-Qaida stormed in, began shooting and forced him to the floor. As the priest pleaded that his parishioners be spared, they executed him and began their mission of mass murder.

When security forces broke in, the killers threw grenades to finish off the surviving Christians and detonated explosive-laden vests to kill the police. The toll was 46 parishioners and two priests killed, 78 others wounded, many in critical condition after losing limbs.

Within 48 hours, al-Qaida in Mesopotamia issued a bulletin: “All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the (holy warriors).”

It was the worst massacre of Christians yet. For Assyrian Catholics known as Chaldeans, whose ancestors were converted by St. Thomas the Apostle, the U.S. war of liberation has been seven years of hell.

Estimates of the number of Christians in Iraq in 2003 vary from 800,000 to 1.5 million. But hundreds of thousands have fled since the invasion. Seven of the 14 churches in Baghdad have closed, and two-thirds of the city’s 500,000 Christians are gone.

While Saddam Hussein, a secularist, had protected religious minorities, Muslim vigilantes — Shia, Sunni and Kurd, as well as al-Qaida — have attacked the Christians who have endured kidnappings, pillage, rapes, beheadings and assassinations.

And what has happened to this Christian community, which had lived peacefully alongside Muslim neighbors for centuries, must be marked down as one of the predictable and predicted consequences of America’s war in Iraq.

In editor Tom Fleming’s Chronicles, just days before President Bush ordered the invasion, columnist Wayne Allensworth warned pointedly:

“Iraqi Christians fear they will be the first victims of a war that might dismember their country, unleashing ethnic and religious conflicts that Baghdad had previously suppressed. Tariq, a Christian merchant in Baghdad, told the French weekly Marianne that ‘If the United States goes to war against our country … (t)he Wahhabis and other fundamentalists will take advantage of the confusion to throw us out of our homes, destroy us as a community and declare Iraq an Islamic nation.’

“If recent history is any indication, Tariq has cause for concern,” wrote Allensworth. “The Shiite uprising in southern Iraq during the first Gulf War — encouraged and then abandoned by Washington — targeted Christians. Many Christians had supported Saddam’s regime, in spite of creeping Islamicization, as their best hope of survival in the Islamic Middle East.”

“We let the Shia genie out of the bottle,” said a rueful Yitzhak Rabin after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon gave birth to Hezbollah.

We Americans did the same with our wars against Saddam’s Iraq.

Why is Christianity being murdered in its cradle by Muslim fanatics?

Multiple reasons. A return of Islamic militancy. The rise of ethnic nationalism that conflates tribal and religious identity. Hatred of America for its domination of the region, for our war on terror that they see as a war on Islam and for our support of Israel in its suppression of the Palestinians.

Christians across the Middle East are now seen as both members of an alien religion and a fifth column of the Crusaders inside their camp.

Paul Marshall of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom warns that we may be in another great wave of persecution, “as Christians flee the Palestinian areas, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.”

Christians are gone from Jerusalem, gone from Nazareth, gone from Bethlehem. From Egypt to Iran, the Vatican counts 17 million left.

“Across the Middle East,” writes Robert Fisk in The Independent, “it is the same story of despairing — sometimes frightened — Christian minorities, and of an exodus that reaches almost Biblical proportions.”

In an essay titled in Christ’s own words, “Whoever Loses His Life for My Sake …” columnist Doug Bandow writes,

“Although Christians are no longer tossed to the lions in the Roman Colosseum, believers are routinely murdered, imprisoned, tortured and beaten. Churches, businesses and homes are regularly destroyed. The opportunity to meet for worship and prayer is blocked. There is real persecution rather than the cultural hostility often denounced as ‘persecution’ in America.”

America remains the most Christianized of the Western nations. Yet, the protests of the White House, State Department and major media over the eradication of Christianity in the Middle East is muted.

Where is the outrage? What happened to the America whose president, with a British prime minister in Placentia Bay, on the eve of war sang with his sailors, “Onward Christian Soldiers”?

Are we so wary of offending Muslim sensibilities or inflaming Muslim rage we cannot denounce the pogroms perpetrated against Christians in the name of Allah?

Of what worth these wars for democracy if we end up freeing fanatics to annihilate communities or expel populations of our own Christian brothers and sisters across the Middle East?