•Western leaders abandon Christians to die in Africa, Mideast.
By Richard Walker —
Foreign wars and conflicts launched and promoted by the United States and its allies since 2003 have led directly to the widespread persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East.
The ongoing slaughter of Christians, followed by the exodus of upwards of 1 million of them from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, where Christianity flourished for nearly two millennia, has encouraged many observers to warn of the death rather than decline of Christianity in that part of the world.
The great irony of the plight of Christians is that Western leaders, who profess to be Christian, were the ones who launched the wars that have torn the Middle East apart and created the most toxic sectarian nightmare in which Christians have become victims, often portrayed as supporters of Western interventionist policies. Some of the oldest Christian denominations, with links back to the time of Christ and his disciples, have been left vulnerable to persecution and can no longer survive.
The Western mass media has all but ignored the issue, preferring instead to focus on the debate about whether there should be yet another war in the region if Iran fails to capitulate to undue pressures from Israel and its neocon backers dominating the halls of Congress.
The problems facing Christians are not limited to Syria, Libya, Egypt and Iraq, but also to the Arabian Peninsula, which includes Saudi Arabia, run by a regime that has promoted sectarianism on a global scale, especially in the Middle East and Asia.
In African nations, such as Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan to name but a few, the attacks on Christians have been multiplying in tandem with the soaring increase in Islamic extremism in the Middle East and Asia.
Many commentators, including the British journalist Neil Clark, who has studied the issue, see its roots in the decision by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, two self-avowed Christians, to remove Saddam Hussein from power, launching a war against Iraq based on lies. That war effectively set the pattern for increased Western military interventions that have torn the region asunder.
The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis by the U.S. and its allies was followed by the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Qadaffi in Libya and the ongoing attempts to depose the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Prior to 2003, Christians in all those nations, and neighboring ones, were protected by leaders that included Saddam, Qadaffi and Assad.
According to Father Douglas Bazi, an Iraqi priest tortured by Islamic militants and released by them only after a ransom was paid, his captors saw the West as infidels and saw Iraqi Christians in the same light. Recently, Bazi told the BBC Saddam’s rule was “the golden era” for Christians. Since Saddam’s overthrow in the early 2000s, 1 million Christians, representing two-thirds of the country’s Christian community, have fled.
Today, all of these countries that have been attacked by the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization are in the worst turmoil imaginable, and there is no one to protect Christian communities. In Syria, Assad is their only hope where the West, Israel and the Saudis continue to arm and train anti-Assad and anti-Christian militias, including al Qaeda.
Self-proclaimed Christian leaders in the West have put their fellow believers in such danger by adhering to neocon/liberal interventionist policies. Their number one objective has been to topple secular and socialistic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, which although authoritarian, protected Christians and rejected religious extremism. Let’s start with Iraq. The fact that Christians were protected by the government there— and that the long-standing Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was a practicing Christian, didn’t count too much when those great “Christians” George Bush and Tony Blair launched an illegal war of aggression against the country in 2003.
The ongoing campaign to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, backed by Saudi Arabia, Israel and its “cheerleaders” in Washington, has resulted in the mass exodus of perhaps 200,000 Christians from that country.
One of the ironies is that Israel has been, according to United Nations reports, supporting the al-Nusra Front in Syria, an al Qaeda group that has a policy of killing Christians. At the same time, Israel’s persecution of Palestinians has led to a massive decrease in the size of the Palestinian Christian Orthodox community, many of whose members have found sanctuary in Europe and America.
There have been other voices, trying without success to generate interest in the dire plight of Christians, particularly Franck Salameh, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Boston College. In 2012, he pointed out that Middle Eastern Christians did not feature prominently in the U.S. mass media’s priorities because it was not fashionable to focus on “uncouth, cross-wearing primitives.”
He famously noted: “They are too Christian in a world plagued by political correctness, cultural relativism and a false conception of the Middle East as an Arab Muslim preserve. Documenting attacks on Near Eastern minorities is not fashionable because it is viewed as being anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, and part of a Western attempt to divide a cultural and linguistic monolith. It’s time for journalists, human rights activists and church leaders in the U.S. to confront the prospect of Christianity’s destruction in the region of its birth.”
In an opinion piece in 2013, The Guardian tried to get people in Britain to focus on the issue, warning that the persecution of Christians in the Middle East was “a crime against civilization and humanity” and that the world is facing “the final ruin of Christianity in the Middle East.”
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.