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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture First English-Language Trailer Debuts for Natalie Portman’s Hebrew Film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ Based on Amos Oz’s Memoir (VIDEO)

    First English-Language Trailer Debuts for Natalie Portman’s Hebrew Film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ Based on Amos Oz’s Memoir (VIDEO)

    The first English-language trailer for Natalie Portman’s directorial debut — A Tale of Love and Darkness — based on Israeli author Amos Oz’s memoir, was released on Thursday. The movie, originally filmed in Hebrew, tells the story of Oz’s childhood in Jerusalem at the end of the British Mandate and the early years of Israel’s independence. Portman, who was born in Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew, plays the lead role of Fania, the author’s mother. She struggles to raise her son as she deals with inner demons, a […]

    Read more →
  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →