The President Should Speak Out Against Religious Persecution
On January 24, during his State of the Union Address, the president of the United States has a chance to expose the plight of religious minorities living in Muslim majority nations. Doing so would not only shed light on one of the most ignored humanitarian crises of the 21st century; it would help alleviate it.
Why should the president speak up on the oppression of religious minorities? For starters, because it is the right thing to do, and reflects American values and principles.
He should speak up because religious cleansing is currently underway in nations like Nigeria, where Boko Haram—”Western Education is Forbidden”—and other Islamic groups have declared jihad on the Christian minorities of the north, killing and displacing thousands, burning and bombing hundreds of churches, most notoriously this last Christmas, where over forty people were killed while celebrating Christmas mass. Likewise, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, about half of Iraq’s one million Christians have been forced by targeted violence to flee their homeland, the most notorious incident, again, being a church attack, where some 60 worshippers were killed.
He should speak up because churches are constantly being attacked, burned, or forced into closure, not just in Nigeria and Iraq, but in Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia (click on country-links for the most recent examples). In Egypt alone, after several churches were burned, thousands of Christian Copts gathered to demonstrate—only to be slaughtered by the military, including by being run-over by armored vehicles.
He should speak up because Muslim converts to Christianity are regularly ostracized, beat, killed, or imprisoned—recent examples coming from Algeria, Eritrea, Kashmir, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and even Western nations. Iran’s Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, whose plight actually made it to the mainstream media, is but one of many people imprisoned and tortured for simply following their conscience and converting to Christianity. Uganda offers a typical example: there, a Muslim father locked his 14-year-old daughter for several months without food or water, simply because she embraced Christianity. She weighed 44 pounds when rescued.
He should speak up because Christian girls are being abducted, raped, and forced to convert to Islam—recent examples coming from Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Sudan. In Pakistan alone, “a 12 year-old Christian [was] gang raped for eight months, forcibly converted and then ‘married’ to her Muslim attacker.” Now that she has escaped, instead of seeing justice done, “the Christian family is in hiding from the rapists and the police.” Earlier in Pakistan, a 2-year-old Christian girl was savagely raped and damaged for life because her father refused to convert to Islam.
The U.S. president should speak up because such persecution is not merely performed at the hands of “outraged Muslim mobs,” but is institutionalized in many Muslim governments, including those deemed “U.S. friends and allies”—such as Afghanistan, where the last church was recently razed; Egypt, where Islamists, supported by the U.S., openly speak of returning Copts into second-class dhimmis; and Saudi Arabia, where churches are not permitted, and Bibles and crucifies are confiscated and destroyed.
He should speak up because there is a pattern, one that is becoming increasingly harder to ignore—one that demonstrates great continuity over the centuries. Past and present, from Morocco in the west, to India in the east—in countries that do not share race, culture, or language, only a culture permeated with the spirit of Islamic supremacism—non-Muslims suffer.
He should speak out because calling out bullies and cutting out their financial aid is the most effective way to curb their bullying, even as giving in to bullies—or worse, pretending they are not bullies and forcing others to go along—is a sure way to guarantee they continue bullying their minorities.
Perhaps most importantly, the president of the United States should speak up because we live in a day and age where the reality of religious persecution under Islam is so well documented—unlike in the days of former U.S. presidents who may be excused—that to continue ignoring it is tantamount to abetting it. Just as history has recorded the great sufferings of non-Muslims under Islam, so too will it record the complacency or complicity of those who are in a great position to end the persecution, but refuse to do so.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.