My Human Events column today chronicles an unmerry Christmas in Iraq and other Muslim countries:
Christians in the Iraqi city have opted not to celebrate Christmas this year, since Ashura, a major Shi’ite day of mourning, falls on the same day. So out of “respect” for the local Shi’ites, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Imad Al Banna asked all Christians in Basra not to engage in any public celebration of Christmas, and not even to entertain guests or show any joy in the day.
Would Shi’ites curtail one of their celebrations to show similar “respect” to the Christians? Would they mute their joy on Eid al-Fitr if it began on Good Friday? And what would happen to these Christians if they failed to show this “respect”?
Meanwhile, Christians are still streaming out of Iraq in such large numbers that the ancient Christian community is on the verge of extinction. Islamic jihadists last week attacked churches and Christian schools in Mosul, with forty people killed in bomb attacks and random Christians targeted for violence on the streets. This is after jihadist violence late last year killed forty and drove 12,000 Christians from the area. “It is terrible,” one Mosul Christian told the Times of London: : “Most of the Christians are staying at home, or when they go out they watch their backs.” A member of another religious minority, the Yazidis, who lives in a Christian village remarked: “You cannot live in Mosul. Every day you find Christians being killed. Very few are still going to church. The women have to wear hijabs. They send someone first in a car to check if there is someone outside the church.”
And in Egypt, Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights released a new report detailing rampant abuse of Christian women by Muslims: “Cases of abduction, forced conversion and marriage are usually accompanied by acts of violence which include rape, beatings, deprivation of food and other forms of physical and mental abuse.” John Eibner of Christian Solidarity International wrote a letter to Barack Obama about the treatment of Christian women, asking him to speak out and noting: “Trafficking of Christian women in Egypt is not a new phenomenon….But this problem has now reached boiling point within Egypt’s Coptic community, which views it as symptomatic of a much broader pattern of religious persecution.” But Obama, busy courting the good will of the Islamic world, is unlikely to say anything. And meanwhile, the State Department’s 2009 report on international religious freedom noted that the Egyptian government often turns a blind eye to crimes committed against Copts — and government officials have on occasion even participated in those crimes.
The Christians in Turkey are facing a similarly somber Christmas. “We are treated,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, “as citizens of second class. We don’t feel that we enjoy our full rights as Turkish citizens.” Yet “we prefer to stay here, even crucified sometimes.”…