Here is an interesting piece on the plight of once and future dhimmi Christian populations in the Middle East. It’s by Stephen Farrell and Rana Sabbagh Gargour in the TimesOnline, with thanks to Null, who notes correctly that “the piece opens: ‘Christians in the Middle East have paid a high price for the Iraq war, the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and the Popes controversial remarks about Islam…’ …all of which occurred very recently, but the graphic at the top compares Christian populations as far back as 1920 with the present!” The Times, like all of the mainstream media, would prefer to pretend that the hard time Middle Eastern Christians have been having can be attributed solely to recent events, even when evidence is staring them in the face that something longer-standing is responsible for the Christian flight from the Middle East.
Christians in the Middle East have paid a high price for the Iraq war, the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and the Pope’s controversial remarks about Islam.
Egyptian Copts, Iraqi Chaldeans and the Palestinian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant communities have faced violence and even death at the hands of their Muslim neighbours.
Canon Andrew White, president of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East, told The Times that the Iraq war had had a dire effect on the lives of Christians in the region, particularly in Iraq, where he is the vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad.
“All my staff at the church have been killed,” he said. “They disappeared about a year ago and we never saw them again. Of the rest of my congregation, most say they have been targeted in some way or have had letters delivered with bullets in them. People forget, or the Islamic groups don’t realise, that Christianity was in the Middle East before them and therefore they see Christians as being part of the Western coalition military presence. Things have got considerably worse since the Iraq war.”
Tensions have also increased elsewhere. In Syria one Christian Assyrian said that he was planning to emigrate to Canada because of growing Islamic fundamentalism in a society having to absorb huge numbers of Iraqi refugees. “I do not feel at ease any longer and I do not want my two sons to live in this polarised society and atmosphere,” he said.
In Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Christian Arabs are a vulnerable minority caught between sympathy for their fellow Palestinians under Israeli occupation and their own tensions with the much larger Muslim Palestinian community.
Even before the Iraq war there had been a palpable increase in anger towards the United States because of President Bush’s use of the phrase “crusade” for the war on terrorism shortly after 9/11. In Gaza, Christians saw neighbours” anger mount at the US-led occupation of Iraq. Matters were made worse by the publication of cartoons of Muhammad and by a speech from Benedict XVI that described Islam as a religion of violence.