August 4, 2012
Most Americans are Christians.
But few know that the acts of our American government are leading to the persecution of Christians in numerous countries.
According to the Vatican’s official news service – Fides – and many other Christian news sources, the Syrian opposition is targeting Christians. Priests and bishops on the ground in Syria confirm these reports.
As a Syrian priest writes in the Guardian:
Despite what you might read in much of the western media, Syria is an enlightened,secular society with a deeply spiritual core and the common belief is that Syria is for everybody. A fundamentalist state would destroy the traditions of co-existence and religious harmony that have existed here since the fall of the Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years ago. Syrian independence was won with the blood of all Syrians – Muslim, Christian, Druze, Alawite and Kurdish.
As BBC notes:
Syria has for much of the century had a sizeable Christian minority, making up at least 10% of the population.
In recent years Syria has been considered one of the easier Middle Eastern countries for Christians to live in. Power is concentrated in the hands of the Alawite minority – a Shia sect considered heretical by many Muslims – which has clamped down hard on extreme forms of Islam.
Indeed, PBS reports that Syrian Christians are accepting arms from the government to protect themselves against Islamic terrorists.
Similarly, for all his faults, Saddam was a secular ruler who tolerated Christians … but Christians have been persecuted by the post-Saddam regime.
As the Syrian priest notes:
In Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, western allies admitted that they had no postwar plan and many have paid the price for this – especially the Iraqi minorities; since Saddam fell, hundreds of thousands of Christians as well as Muslims have fled Iraq in the face of sectarian violence and terrorism. Now, people are calling for a regime change in Syria without a clear plan for what should happen next. Should the minorities pay the same price in Syria?
BBC points out:
A rise in attacks on Christians after the US-led invasion in 2003 led to up to half the Christian population leaving, although there are no official statistics.
The Guardian reports:
In 2003 … the number of Chaldeans, the Christian Iraqis, was between 800,000 and 1.4 million. In 2009-2010, it was estimated are between 400,000 and 500,000, and rapidly decreasing. Cairo’s violent repression shows a similar process is under way in Egypt as well, where they still represent roughly 10% of the population.
Similarly, Christians were protected – or at least tolerated – by Libya’s secular leader Gaddaffi. A Roman Catholic priest told Christian News Service:
Under Gaddafi, we’ve been protected.
Iran’s traditional Christian populations are recognised in the constitution, guaranteed freedom to worship and allocated seats in the parliament ….
The U.S. is:
- Supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorists in Syria
- Funding terrorist groups in Iran
And the U.S. supports Saudi Arabia as one of our closest allies, even though:
- Saudi Arabia restricts all religions other than Islam, including the possession of religious items such asthe Bible, crucifixes, and Stars of David
- Christians are arrested and lashed in public for practicing their faith openly
- Muslims are forbidden to convert to another religion. If one does so and does not recant, they may be executed
- A 9/11 Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 say in sworn declarations that the Saudi government is linked to the 9/11 attacks
Note: This post focuses on Christians, but a similar analysis could be applied to Jews. For example, Iran – which has the largest Jewish population in the Muslim world – has a constitution which officially protects Jews.