“Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged.” That is no accident or by-product of under-reporting of the Muslim persecution of Christians. That is a tactic that is being consciously and cannily pursued.
“Christians persecuted throughout the world,” by Rupert Shortt in the Telegraph, October 29 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.
Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.
Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts — more than the entire population of Manchester — have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.
Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged. Take the fallout of last month’s protests around the world against the American film about the Prophet Mohammed. While most of the debate centred on the rule of law and the limits of free speech, almost nothing was said about how much more routinely Islamists insult Christians, almost always getting away with their provocations scot-free.
Innocence of Muslims, the production that spurred all the outrage, has been rightly dismissed as contemptible trash. What, though, of a website such as “Guardians of the Faith”, run by Salafist extremists in Cairo? Among many posts, it has carried an article entitled “Why Muslims are superior to Copts”. “Being a Muslim girl whose role models are the wives of the Prophet, who were required to wear the hijab, is better than being a Christian girl, whose role models are whores,” it declares. “Being a Muslim who fights to defend his honour and his faith is better than being a Christian who steals, rapes, and kills children.” Hateful messages breed hateful acts. Is it any surprise that mobs have set fire to one church after another across Egypt in recent years?
The deeper truth masked by all the ranting — and, it should be added, by the blinkers of many Western secularists — is that Christians are targeted in greater numbers than any other faith group on earth. About 200 million church members (10 per cent of the global total) face discrimination or persecution: it just isn’t fashionable to say so. In 2010, I set out to write a chronicle of anti-Christian persecution on several continents. Published in my book, Christianophobia, the results of my research are even more disquieting than I expected.
Abu Hamza, the 7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan and other totemic figures were allowed to practise their religion openly in Britain, yet there is scarcely a single country from Morocco to Pakistan in which Christians are fully free to worship without restriction. Muslims who convert to Christianity or other faiths in most of these societies face harsh penalties. There is now a high risk that the Churches will all but vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East….
The challenge, then, at once simple and substantial, is to promote the peaceful messages at the heart of the world’s major faiths, while neutralising perversions of the core teachings….
Given Christianity”s evolution, there are grounds for thinking that Islam may change, too. Points of contact between the two traditions are at least as significant as the differences. When they are true to their guiding principles, both faiths insist on the sanctity of the person as a seeker of God. From this should follow a recognition of religious liberty as the first of human rights. Self-interest need not be erased from an apparently high-minded equation. Freedom of belief is the canary in the coalmine for liberty in general, and thus for the flourishing of a society….
…which only indicates just how ignorant of Islam Rupert Shortt is.