UI – Part 277 – The Shrinking Christian Presence in the Middle East (1 of 2)
I’m tempted to write this from an article in FrontPage Magazine – an Internet location. (Read article)
The Middle East (‘ME’), except for Israel, is predominantly Muslim. Lebanon was at one time majority Christian, which is no longer the case. One estimate today is put at 40%. When you read about the Middle East, or hear news reports, there are many occasions when Christians living within the boundaries of that part of the world are being persecuted.
Often Muslims are heard complaining about being persecuted. Islamophobia is their favorite word. They complain when the name Mohammed is used in ways they feel is offensive or the Koran is subject to treatment which they feel is objectionable. (Ok for Islamists though to locate a bomb inside a Quran). Cartoons seem to be a feature of concern. A Danish cartoonist became the victim of death threats repeatedly by Muslims and not just from Denmark. A woman in the United States, in the Pacific Northwest, also received death threats when she sponsored the idea of Draw Muhammad Day featured on Facebook. Muslims are on the ready to express concern they are persecuted on just about any topic or on any occasion. The name Salman Rushdie, if Googled, remains a person whose book caused a great stir and ‘fatwa’ from the Khomeini calling for any Muslim anywhere in the world to kill this author. And they take such persecution very seriously to the point where the reaction can be violent. It has reached the point when the comment “They protest too much” is most applicable. Their credibility as to the truth of being persecuted is questioned.
Persecution, in one form or another, can be applied to just about any source of concern as to the views or ideology or expressions or foundations of a group that has views that differ from another. That is universal. The Bible informs Christians they will be persecuted, but it does not suggest or encourage killing those that express concerns or act against them, except in self-defense.
How often does the persecution of Christians occur in the ME? Churches are attacked. Individuals walking down the street attacked. If they were to use a Bible in public they become targets. Here is one recent example:
Aug 13, 2013, a Coptic Christian girl, 10, was killed while walking home from Bible class in Egypt. From an article,
“The uncle of a Coptic Christian girl who was gunned down while walking home from a Bible class with her instructor says her family is devastated over the killing. Jessica Boulous, 10, was killed last Tuesday in Cairo after attending a class at the Ahmed Esmat Street Evangelical Church, Morning Star News reports.
Rights activists say Jessica was killed when the Sunday School teacher she was with stopped at a market to buy an item. Jessica was shot once in the chest, according to witnesses. “I just can’t believe she is gone,” Nasr Allah Zakaria, her uncle, told Morning Star News. “She was such a sweet little girl. She was like a daughter to me. Zakaria said he wasn’t sure whether the shooting was linked to religion, and no one has claimed responsibility for the killing.” Read More
How often, if ever, do you to hear any defense for the Christian by any Muslim in those areas. There is a double standard. I would argue it is more than a double standard it is a perverted standard induced by culture, Islamic scholars and extremists who live to ‘hate.’ And one can only conclude Muslims simply do not like Christians. Are they jealous of Christ? Is it a form of denial?We know how much Muslims hate Jews, especially as expressed by the likes of the leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shiite and Sunni alike, as well as the fact that on airlines from Turkey or Saudi Arabia the world map displayed on board has no reference to Israel.
The numbers of Christians in Muslim areas is being reduced on a daily basis. Christianity was founded in the Middle East. World history finds itself among the ruins of much of Middle Eastern nations, an area where Christianity was born, yet people, followers of Christ are now pariah in those areas. This is tragic. I put directly to the Muslim that they are attempting to erase valuable human history.
Here’s some facts from the Frontpage magazine article entitled, A Middle East Without Christians, August 13, 2013, By Noah Beck (Read Article)
- “Islamist terrorists have exploited the lawless Sinai to perpetrate vicious attacks on Egyptian Christians there, as reported earlier this week in the New York Times. Indeed, throughout Egypt, the Copts continue to be targeted and scape-goated for the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- As defenseless and abandoned as Mideast Christians seem today, it is worth remembering their historical roots, and recognizing just how much the plight of Middle East Christians has deteriorated. Over 2,000 years ago, Christianity was born as a religion and spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the Levant, including territories in modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. The Christian faith flourished as one of the major religions in the Middle East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century.
- Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 2-5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would “likely drop to” half of their numbers “by the year 2020″ because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of “exclusion and persecution” leading to emigration.
- The “Arab Spring” has only worsened conditions for the indigenous Christians of the Middle East. Like the Kurds, Middle East Christians are a stateless minority, struggling to survive in the world’s toughest neighborhood. But the Kurds at least have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and most of them are Sunni Muslim, making it easier for them to survive in the Muslim-dominated Middle East. Christians, on the other hand, are a religious minority that controls no territory and is entirely subject to the whims of their hosts. These host countries – with the exception of Israel – offer a grim future to Middle East Christians. Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, Egypt also has the largest Christian population in the Middle East, totaling 8-12 million people. But because Christian Copts make up only about 10-15% of Egypt’s estimated 80 million people, they have for decades lived in fear as second-class citizens, subjected to attacks on churches, villages, homes, and shops; mob killings; and the abduction and forced Islamic conversion of Christian women compelled to marry Muslim men. Such abuse took place under the staunchly secular regime of Hosni Mubarak, but grew much worse under the rule of Mohammed Morsi, the jailed Muslim Brotherhood activist who succeeded Mubarak, and they are now being blamed for Morsi’s ouster.
- In Lebanon, Christians represent a bigger portion of the population, so their fate is for now less precarious than that of their Egyptian coreligionists, but their long-term prospects are worrisome. The Christian population is estimated to have dropped from over 50% (according to a 1932 census) to about 40%. Over the last few years, the de facto governing power in Lebanon has become Hezbollah, the radical and heavily-armed Shiite movement sponsored by Iran. With all of the spillover violence and instability produced by the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s open involvement in it, and/or the next war that Hezbollah decides to start with Israel, the emigration of Christians out of Lebanon will probably only increase in the coming years, leaving those who stay increasingly vulnerable.
- In Syria, 2.5 million Christians comprised about 10% of the population and enjoyed some protection under the secular and often brutal regimes of the Assad dynasty. But as jihadi groups fighting Assad extend their territorial control, the past protection of Christians is often the cause of their current persecution by resentful Sunnis who revile the Assad regime and seek to impose Sharia law wherever they can. Christians have been regularly targeted and killed by rebels, and the sectarian chaos and violence that will likely prevail in Assad’s wake will only increase the number of Christians fleeing Syria.
- In Iraq, the bloody aftermath of the 2003 invasion demonstrated how dangerous life can become for a Christian minority when a multicultural society in the Middle East explodes into sectarian violence. By 2008, half of the 800,000 Iraqi Christians were estimated to have left, rendering those remaining even more insecure. In 2010, Salafist extremists attacked a Baghdad church during Sunday Mass, killing or wounding nearly the whole congregation. Such incidents turn any communal gathering into a potential massacre, forcing Christians across the Middle East to ask the ultimate question of faith: “Am I prepared to die for Christian worship?”
- The so-called “Arab Spring” threatens to exacerbate matters in much of the Middle East, as Islamists now either control the government or influence it enough to persecute Christians with impunity. As new Islamist regimes in the Middle East condone religious intolerance and introduce Sharia and blasphemy laws, the long-term trend for Christians in their ancestral lands will only grow bleaker.
- The one bright spot is the State of Israel – “the only place in the Middle East [where] Christians are really safe,” according to the Vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. Home to Christianity’s holiest sites and to a colorful array of Christian denominations, Israel has the only growing Christian community in the Middle East.
- Because Israel is the only non-Muslim state in all of the Middle East and North Africa, it represents a small victory for religious minorities in the region, and serves as the last protector of freedom and security for Jews, Christians, Bahai, Druze, and others. Without Israel, how much more vulnerable would Christians in the Middle East become?”
To be Continued (in 2 days)…..