Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald examines the difficult situation of Iraqi Christians under the new Iraqi Constitution, and the difficult position of Middle Eastern Christians in general:
No law that contradicts Islam can be allowed. And Islam insists, Islam is based upon, treating Believers and Infidels (i.e., all non-Muslims) quite differently. Many of the Middle East’s Christians have long tried to do everything they can, including parroting and even internalizing anti-Israel sentiments — as the “Palestinian” Christians emptying out of Bethlehem and other PA-controlled areas are coming to realize, it won’t save them. Others generally promote an Islamic agenda.
The sense of “Uruba” or “Arabness” that sometimes accompanies the use of the Arabic language, and that has helped persuade a great many non-Arabs that they are “Arabs,” and must, as Arabs, take pride in what all Muslim Arabs perceive as the greatest contribution to the world of the Arabs, which is to say Islam, and with it something called “Islamic civilization” (though High Islamic Civilization is very largely a product of Jewish and Christian translators, and of Persians), has no doubt affected some –but by no means all — in the various churches still extant in Iraq.
Tens of thousands of Christians have left. They have been terrified into leaving. In Basra Christian sellers of alcohol have been summarily executed. Christian girls have been seized, raped, never seen again. In Ramadi, the last remaining Christian families — eight of them — were early on “invited” to accept Islam, the men killed, the women seized for Muslim delectation. There are no Christians to be found in Ramadi right now. They’ve “disappeared.”
If the full story has not been told by their co-religionists in this country, it is because they are afraid to say a word as long as there are still Christians remaining in Iraq. What will happen? Well, whatever else Saddam Hussein was guilty of, he was a protector, in a way, of the Christians — not out of kindness or tolerance, but simply because they were useful to him and were never a threat, the way those rooted in the mosques, especially among the Shi’a, could be. His tasters, his cooks, his cleaners, his entire domestic staff were Christians, for he could trust them. The same staff, by the way, was inherited by American officials and employed by them for the same reasons.
Tariq Aziz, the Christian with the Muslim pseudonym, was like many Christians useful not only because his loyalty (born of fear) would be total, and he would never be caught plotting with the likes of some local Muslim Brotherhood group, but because as a Christian, he had no one else to plot with even if he wished to plot. In the same way, Hafez al-Assad had various units in his palace guard. Along with the Alawites, he had Armenians, for they could also be trusted not to betray a regime that, for all of its murderousness, is felt by Christians to be better for them than what the Armenians in Haleb (Aleppo) call “the real Muslims” — i.e., those that do not, as the Alawites do, worship Mary (Miriam).
The Bush Administration does not know what to do. It pretends that the proposed constitution does not give pride of place to Islam, but of course it does. It does not matter that there are some “contradictory” clauses; the clause that counts is this, and everyone in Iraq — those who wanted that clause put in and those who wanted it kept out — know exactly how it will be used. It is only the Americans, ever hopeful, ever naive, ever confusing silly obstinacy with “resolve to see this through,” who do not understand what, for Muslims in an overwhelmingly Muslim land, such a clause must mean.
Does anyone think, for one minute, that the proposed Iraqi constitution could conceivably permit apostasy from Islam — i.e., permit the freedom of conscience that is possibly the most important of all freedoms, that which we find in the First Amendment, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (non-Muslim version only)? Of course not.
I don’t envy the Christians in Iraq. But of course, the situation of any non-Muslims, anywhere in a Muslim country, with or without an American invasion, with or without oil being present, with or without (fill in the blank here with anything you like), will always be difficult. It has to be. All non-Muslims are allowed to exist, but not as by right. On sufferance. The sufferance of the dominant Muslims, whose favor or disfavor can appear or disappear, depending on the ruler’s whim, or still worse, the fickle attitudes of the primitive populace — which has in every case been shown to be more ill-disposed toward non-Muslims than the occasional odd quasi-enlightened despot, such as Ataturk, the Shah of Iran, Bourguiba of Tunisia, and Mohammed V of Morocco.
And the relative enlightenment of the ruler, as opposed to the people, was demonstrated just two days ago when King Abdullah of Jordan made a speech that, while it contained all sorts of false history, was made, one assumes, in a spirit far more advanced than that of the hysterically anti-Jewish population in Jordan itself. Yet the Administration keeps prating about the virtues of “democracy,” ignoring the role of the enlightened despot in the Middle East in constraining Islam and thereby, naturally, making things safer for non-Muslims.
One more example of the Great Intelligence Failure of the Iraq War: the failure to understand Islam, its tenets, its attitudes, its atmospherics, that affect everyone who still insists on being called a Muslim.