Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Christianity in the Middle East Must Be Safeguarded

January 25, 2012 10:41 am 5 comments

A cross is staked into rocks looking over into Mount Lebanon. Photo: wiki commons.

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.

That’s the message that came out of a one-day conference that took place in Framingham, Massachusetts on Jan. 21, 2012. The conference, titled The Persecuted church: Christian Believers in Peril in the Middle East was sponsored by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012.

Andrea Levin, CAMERA’s executive director said the goal of the conference was to draw attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

“If the media shines a light consistently and clearly on the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians, that can make a crucial difference in restraining potential violence,” she said. “Silence on the other hand may do the opposite.”

Walid Phares, an American scholar born in Lebanon who advises the U.S. Congress on issues related to terrorism, said Christians and other minorities have been the victims of violence for decades. “I lived through it in the 20th century. Now we’re all living it, trying to witness for it,” he said. “We have crossed the threshold of a new century and yet it’s still happening.”

Attendees of the conference heard testimony from Juliana Taimoorazy, founder of the Iraqi Christian relief council and Egyptian human rights activists Cynthia Farahat. Taimoorazy, who reported on the plight of Assyrians in Israq stated that since June 2004, churches in Iraq have been bombed more than 80 times. Sometimes, multiple churches would be bombed at the same time as part of a coordinated attack.

“Most of these attacks happened on Fridays, marking the day of Islamic prayer,” she said. Clergy have been routinely kidnapped and killed on a regular basis. Even children have been killed by Islamists, Taimoorazy reported.

“In October of 2006 – in the 21st century – a 14-year-old boy was crucified in Basra, in the center of the city,” she said.

Farahat reported that Copts are second-class citizens in their homeland

“But for me, as a woman and a Copt, I am a fourth-class citizen,” she said. “The first class citizen is the Egyptian Sunni Muslim male, the second class is the Sunni female. The third is the Christian male. The fourth is the Christian female. I’m a fourth-class Egyptian citizen with absolutely no legal rights.”

The plight of religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim and Arab majority countries in the Middle East has largely been ignored because of an obsession with the Arab-Israeli conflict, Phares said during his keynote address. Phares first witnessed this after immigrating to the U.S. from Lebanon in the 1990s.

“In the 1990s, if there as an incident in the West Bank, the son-in-law, the mom, the uncle of both sides would be interviewed and the psychologists would come in and talk about the deep roots of the conflict,” Phares said. “At the same time, two villages were burned in Egypt or the Kurds would be gassed. Zero [coverage] in the New York Times.”

Franck Salameh, assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies at Boston College, echoed Phares’ complaint.

“There’s clearly a prevailing hierarchy in the media’s treatment of Middle Eastern violence,” he said. “Some victims get airtime on prime time, all the time. Others simply don’t. Middle Eastern Christians are not a top priority. Those uncouth, cross-wearing primitives are not cause for curiosity. They are too Christian in a world plagued by political correctness, cultural relativism and a false conception fo the Middle East as an Arab Muslim preserve.”

Documenting attacks on Near Eastern minorities is not fashionable, Salameh said, because it is viewed as being anti-Arab and anti-Muslim and part of a Western attempt to divide a cultural and linguistic monolith. If this thinking were applied to North America, no one would talk about the plight or fate of Native Americans because it would be regarded as subversive to the Anglo-European paradigm.

“Middle Eastern minorities, Christians and Jews, are the native Americans of the Middle East,” Salameh said. “The dominant Arab-Muslim culture is indeed the colonizing intruder culture here.”

Richard Landes, associate professor of history at Boston University and author of Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of Millenial Experience reported that Islamists have worked assiduously to disarm Westerners  by engaging in cognitive warfare against democracies. This cognitive warfare is pursued, Landes explained, by using self-criticism and concern for the other to undermine the ability of democracies to defend themselves. “The purpose of cognitive warfare is to turn your own people into patriots and your enemies into pacifists,” Landes said.

This strategy has had “staggering success” over the past few years, he said. The success is due to “an unholy marriage between pre-modern sadism and post modern masochism,” Landes said.

“The pre-moderns accuse us of the most vicious things in the world and we say, ‘You’re right, I’m sorry,” Landes joked.

5 Comments

  • the situation is more dire than you think we may not be persecuted but we never feel safe and its not going to improve its not that we are quite even if we speak out who will listen they claim to be open minded but thats all bullshit its a shariah oriented country and there is the possibility that we will be killed by Islamists Christians will cease to exist in the middle east unless something is done its not that we don’t want to uphold our rights its that we live in constant fear its not safe here for us any more and my family lived here for over 2000 years

  • wolfy ghalkhani

    I write this with a very heavy heart, but based on what I have seen in major US cities we have already submitted. The Muslim is dangerous, full of hate and always ready to fight. he never ever backs down. He sticks by his principles, traditions and beliefs no matter how preverted and attacks anyone who dares to say anything against him or his religion. The Christian is quite, the opposite- weak, submissive, self mutaliating and disloyal. Of course,not all Christians but enough to make a difference. Christians are willing to attack each other but when it comes to fighting off a common enemy-Islam- they run like scared dogs with their tales in between their legs- all of this in the name of political correctnes. Its like a page out of “Camp of the saints”.

  • Warnings Not Heeded

    Years ago I warned a Christian organisation that they should evacuate places like Egypt and the gentleman I spoke too clearly didn’t understand that their efforts to support Christian rights in the Islamist world are doomed to failure. If you care about Christian rights you need to help Christians go to countries that are not run by supremacists. I used to care much more about this issue but as so many Arab Christians are anti-semites I no longer think they deserve our efforts to help them. While they remain in Arab worlds they serve as a kind of barometer showing the degree of extremism in each country. We can’t do the true test with Jews because so many Middle Eastern countries have already purged their ancient Jewish populations from their borders and from existence already.

    • There are Middle Eastern Christians and there are Middle Eastern Christians. You’re right. Arab Christians are, for the most part, anti-Semitic and I also don’t care what happens to them. But Copts and Maronites and Assyrians are not Arab. An overwhelming majority of them are not anti-Semites and they sympathize with Israel. Moving them out of their Arab-occupied homelands is like moving the Native Americans out of theirs. Actually, many American tribes were, and it didn’t turn out too good for them.

  • I sometimes wonder if the American controversy separating the attackers of Christianity, and freedoms of religion, does not jade American foeriegn policy. Certainly we can bear the argument made to oppress religion and civil liberties in the USA. We have the luxury of inheriting a system that remains, at this time, mechanisms that place a higher degree of reliance on dialogue and protects freedoms to express and state ones opinions and faith. Unfortunately, that stops at the borders, and those who hold malevolence for Christianity in this country where Christianity is prevalent they advocate the enemy’s of Christianity abroad. I have to confess I believe it is part of the Obama Islamist toelrance governing this administrations policies, unless you have experienced dhimmitude abroad you can not fathom it. There is a lot we can do to help the victims of Shariah Law governments and victims of Islamic bigotry in this country simply by exposing it for what it is. Great conference feed back, great work being done G-d bless them..

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →