Muslim Persecution of Christians at a Crossroads
Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 03:18 PM UTC
Preface: The following article was written for Christian Solidarity International, “an international, Christian human rights organization, campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity, and assisting victims of religious persecution, victimized children and victims of catastrophe.”
Be sure to sign CSI’s petition urging President Obama to present during his forthcoming State of the Union Address his “administration’s policy to prevent the eradication of the endangered Christian communities and other religious minorities of the Islamic Middle East.”
When the major media reported a few months ago that Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was set to be executed for leaving Islam, many Western people were shocked, finding it hard to believe that in the 21st century people are still being persecuted — by their governments no less — simply for being Christian.
The fact is, Muslim persecution of Christians in the modern era has been consistently growing worse. Yet, because only one out of every few hundred or so cases ever receives major attention, few in the West have any idea that it exists.
For instance, around the same time that the case of Pastor Nadarkhani made headlines, 129 Christians in Sudan were imprisoned, and one in Somalia was like the pastor, simply for converting to Christianity. Dozens of other documented cases of persecution were occurring at the same time, none of which received much media attention. These include Christians imprisoned, tortured, and killed for allegedly “blaspheming” Islam; Christian girls abducted and raped because they are “infidels”; churches burned, Bibles confiscated, and crucifixes destroyed — and in one instance, a Christian boy killed for refusing to conceal his crucifix.
To anyone familiar with Islam’s history and traditional teachings, none of this is surprising. Instead, all of these accounts demonstrate 14 centuries of continuity. With Islam’s resurgence and the concomitant upsurge of anti-Christian violence, however, the very existence of Christian and other non-Muslim communities is under threat. The process of religious cleansing could lead to their eradication within a generation [see CSI’s Genocide Warning].
So why is there such a lack of awareness concerning this matter in the otherwise “humanitarian” West?
One reason has to do with recent history. During the colonial era and into the mid 20th century, when Western influence in the Muslim world was strong, Christian persecution was markedly subdued. Because of the lull in persecution, generations of Westerners came to see events closer to their time as more representative of reality. They tended to overlook the historic and doctrinal roots of Christian persecution under Islam, and thus failed to comprehend what is otherwise so obvious.
This anachronistic perspective is enforced by the “guardians of knowledge” — the mainstream media, academia, and political activists and apologists — who have made the ugly truths of persecution unknowable, all in the name of “multiculturalism” and “political correctness.”
For example, aside from the fact that it is so rare for the major media actually to report on Christian persecution, when it is reported, it is almost always in the context of “sectarian strife” and other neutral phrases that conflate victim with persecutor.
Likewise, far from being content with relaying objective facts concerning the Muslim world, Western academia often puts the best spin on things—forcing facts to conform to the prevailing multicultural ideologies and not vice-versa.
The situation is fundamentally exacerbated by the fact that the majority of Western Christian leaders, whether fearful of “offending” Muslims or eager to appear “tolerant,” are reluctant to speak openly about persecution. If expected from secular journalists, the silence of so many church leaders is far more perplexing.
Today, in light of the so-called “Arab spring,” the West needs to acknowledge the crisis of survival facing Christians in the Middle East. We have already seen the fruits of democracy in Muslim nations like Iraq, where, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Christians have been brutally persecuted to the point that more than half of them have fled their homeland, where they are nearing extinction; and in Afghanistan, a decade after the West overthrew the Taliban—committing billions of dollars and thousands of lives—the last public church was just destroyed, even as Christians suffer under blasphemy and apostasy laws enforced by the government installed by the West.
Now, as Muslims in Arab countries begin to elect Islamist parties—which make no secret of their bigotry against Christians—the future of the latter looks especially grim.
The first step to ameliorate this situation is simple awareness—to get Western people to learn of it. To do this, the establishment first needs to be jarred from complacency, needs to reassess its politically-correct narrative.
Accordingly, next month, when President Obama gives his State of the Union address, he has an opportunity to include some measured words—for instance, that aid to Muslim nations is contingent on the protection of religious minorities. Along with holding these nations accountable, such words might further cause some in the West to reassess the established narrative, creating a trickle-down effect of knowledge.
Through CSI’s Petition to the President, you have the chance to encourage him to do so.
About Raymond Ibrahim
Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the DHFC, is a widely published author on Islam, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Join him as he explores the "Intersection"—the pivotal but ignored point where Islam and Christianity meet—including by examining the latest on Christian persecution, translating important Arabic news that never reaches the West, and much more.