The Arab Spring and Christian Persecution

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While the Western media and governments have been preoccupied with the so called “Arab Spring,” little if any attention has been paid to the increased persecution of Christians in the Muslim Middle East.

Throughout the region, Christians have been targeted by Muslim mobs killing innocent bystanders, burning churches, and destroying Christian properties. Interviewed by The National on June 19, 2011, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that the Arab Spring is posing a threat to Christian minorities throughout the Middle East.  He added that “extremists were filling vacuums left by ousting of autocratic regimes,” and “leading to Copts being targeted in Egypt.”  In Syria, Archbishop Williams warned, “tensions between Christian communities and Muslim majorities were reaching breaking point.”  And, he added that Christians in northern Iraq had been subjected to a form of “ethnic cleansing.”  The archbishop made his comments in an interview with BBC radio on August 30, during which he said that even in Bethlehem, Christ’s birthplace, the once-majority Christian population had now become a “marginalized minority.”

The Voice of Russia radio interviewed Egyptian Human Rights activist, Waukee Yakub, and when asked what happened between the Salafi Muslim groups and the Coptic-Christians he replied: “After the revolution of January 25th Salafis came to power. And the only side with which they conflict a lot with is the Coptic Orthodox Christians. They know we are peaceful people and we don’t hurt anyone and they started attacking churches, stop attacking even other Muslim people – the Sufi Muslims that they don’t like. What’s happening now is that it seems like the Military Council that rules the country right now is totally involved with them and constantly agrees them. We have videos and lots of pictures that prove that they do nothing when it comes to attacks on Christians.”

As the interview with the Voice of Russia continued, Yakub added: “The problem is with Salafi fanatics who have al-Qaeda-styled thinking.  It’s exactly al-Qaeda thinking: ‘We are rejecting others; we want to kill the Christians; and, we want to make the Christians leave the country.’ I have witnessed an incident in Imbaba, when a house was burning, and furniture was thrown out of the windows, while water quenching vehicles and the police stood there doing nothing. It was happening right in front of them. I’ve seen my own church set on fire and burning like hell and nothing was done. No one was arrested, though we have videos that show faces of the people, who are very well-known.”

The American Coptic Association reported on August 30, 2011 that during an annual meeting in Rimini, Italy, also known as “Meeting for Friendships Among People,” Cardinal Antonios Naguib, patriarch of the Catholic Church in Alexandria, said he was concerned about minorities’ rights after the 25 January, 2011 Egyptian revolution. “Islamists will have great representation in the next parliament, which is normal. We should recognize its political force…but some fear they will assume power and impose an Islamic State.”

A brief regional survey of recent cases of religious persecution of Christians reveals a clear pattern which neither the U.N. nor the European Union has responded to.  In Iran, a 32-year old convert to Christianity named Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to hang for abandoning Islam for Christianity – a State crime. Nadarkhani has been in jail since October 2010 and has, so far, refused to recant his Christian faith.  If he is hung, he would become the first Iranian to be put to death for apostasy since 1990.

Saudi Arabia, an alleged ally of the U.S., forbids any kind of non-Muslim religious ceremony – public or private. If caught with a Bible, violators are sent to prison and then deported. A story in the Washington Times (11/14/05) underscored the religious intolerance of Saudi Arabia when stating that: “A court sentenced a teacher to 40 months in prison and 750 lashes for “mocking religion” after he discussed the Bible and praised Jews, a Saudi newspaper reported yesterday.”

In Iskenderun, Turkey, the personal driver of Bishop Luigi Padovese, head of the Catholic Church in Turkey, was a Muslim named Murat Altun, who repeatedly stabbed and decapitated the Bishop and then proceeded to shout “I killed the great Satan. Allahu Akhbar.” The brutal murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, on June 3, 2010, shocked the small and hard pressed Christian community in Turkey.  The 62 year-old bishop had been spearheading the Vatican’s efforts to improve Muslim-Christian relations in Turkey.

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  • Larry

    You know it's getting bad when that drivelling idiot the Archbishop of Canterbury grows a spine and speaks out about it instead grovelling in dhimmitude.

    Of course, the people being killed being Christians, it means that the leftstream media are just going to ignore it, or at very best spin it as nothing more than cultural high spirits.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    Christianity faces a larger threat of being irrelevant than it faces from Islam. It faces a greater threat if diminishing amid financial scandal than it does from Islam. Christian people themselves could always just defend themselves physically from Muslims if in fact that were a real problem. I don’t think anyone should tolerate people who want us to go to war on the basis if religion. For the most part, in the western world that means that Protestants should not bloggers rile them up. A lot of armchairs could get hurt.

    • Stephen_Brady

      When you say that Christianity is becoming "irrelevant", are you perhaps referring to the "study", a few years ago, which concluded that Christianity is declining? If so, you should be made aware that the study was seriously flawed, in that it did not take into account the Christians who are moving from the mainline denominations (which were counted in the study) to independent, community churches (which were not).

      I go to one such church that is filled with former Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Baptists, et al. Just north of us is a church which went from a weekly attendance of 350 to over 2500, in just ten years. Our churches are full, while the mainline churches are dying, and definitely losing their relevance.

      Christianity is still relevant. It has just moved …

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        I was referring to the general decline in mainline denominations, in the general decline of the projection of religious authority by churches, and by the metamorphosis of churches into new age, low key social clubs. Islam has the austerity today that Catholicism had 40 years ago, but I am sure it will decline.

    • myohmy

      idiot….. Remember what you said here as some muslim is sawing off your head…..

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        The last time I heard of a Muslim sawing off somebody's head was Daniel Pearl. The confessed murderer was Khallid Sheik Muhammad who worked for Abdul Sayyaf who was part of the Northern Alliance, which was backed by the US. Pearl was abducted by Omar Saeed Sheikh who was an MI6 / Al Qaeda double agent. Or else, Muhammad just doesn't have his facts straight after being waterboarded 183 times. In all of that, "some Muslim" sawing my head off just doesn't seem likely. Some famous Muslim, maybe, but only if I am in Karachi asking the ISI about Al Qaeda members.

    • john

      I do not think its as irrelevant as you think. There is an increasing number of christians in African countries and in China where the materialism has not satisfied their spriitual needs. I do not think that Protestants are riled up by bloggers. I think you have the muslims confused with protestants who do get riled up over lies and perceived "disrespects" toward their religion.

  • montlasky

    Once again the Islamists raise their heads above the walls of Christianity to eliminate the Christian faith world wide and the main stream Christian churches and their officials turn a blind eye and instead support the boycotts against Israel and the Jews. It boggles the mind that Christianity world wide is blinded to the machinations of Islam who intend to destroy Christianity wherever it is found. The very birth place of Christianity in Jerusalem is being denied to Christians by Islamists determined to destroy Christianity as sure as they are determined to destroy Judaism in the Holyland and elsewhere.
    The Jews and Christians are allies by the course of history whether they like it or not. These religions are the last bastion of freedom of worship. The religious belief in "turning the other cheek" will result in losing both cheeks through the Jihadists.
    Unity is strength and all the great religions must come together to fight the aims of Islam and they must do so quickly as the clock is ticking and Islam watches "Rome burning" whilst the great religions of the world stand transfixed and hope the problem will go away. It won't.

    • Tom

      Read your history, the Jews ran to the Muslims for protection against the Catholics in Spain. This article contains a lot of 1/2 truths. Christians are not being persecuted in Lebanon, they live side by side with Muslims. Likewise, they have lived peacefully with Muslims in Syria, a secular state, for the past 40 years. Before we push Assad and his gov't out, despite it problems, if we are at all concerned about Christians in the Middle East, we better think twice. If his gov't falls, it will spill over into Lebanon and then it may indeed be the end of Christianity in the Middle East. We (The US) basically wiped out the Christian population in Iraq in the name of freedom, hopefully we will not do the same in Syria. Where the article is correct is the fear of extremest groups grabbing power. Let's face it, there is not going to be democracy as we know it in the Middle East. All the billions we have spent in Iraq hasn't done it and, intact resulted in religious and ethnic cleansing. We need to encourage secular governments like Syria to reform and our efforts and sanctions should be aimed at that end, not overthrowing the gov't. The only reason Egypt has a chance is it has a strong military, but if they sell out to the Salafists, the country will be worse off them it was under Mubarak.

      • john

        I think you have forgotten how the Lebanese christians were being attacked by the muslims especailly by Hamas and their allies from Syria. This is why the christians allied themselves with Israel when the Israelis invaded Lebanon to wipe out that viper's nest. If the people succeed in overthrowing the Syrian dictator, the so-called secular government of Syria will not be in better shape than what Egypt has become. Syria is and will continue to be a threat like any other despotic regime in the middle east whether secular or islamic.

  • hend

    this is absurd. DON"t speak up in our name. We are living among Muslims and we treat each others just fine. In fact, i might be the only christian in my area -personal choice/experience-and I'm very respected and welcomed.P.c i live in a country with on-going spring !!!! stop stereotyping. of course there is some ignorant people who are being feed up with the wrong ideas but ha what's the difference between them and Israeli settlers??!!

    • montlasky

      Pray tell what the heck have the Israeli settlers got to do with the price of cheese??????????

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        Well if it’s cottage cheese, then probably a lot.

      • Snorbak

        Just in case you had'nt heard, the Jews are the cause of all the worlds problems….(sarcasm intended)

    • nick

      yeah the israel the only free country in the middle east sucj bad people

  • myohmy

    If Christians in the middle east started their own protests about all the crimes muslims commit on them would Obama arm them and help them bring down their muslim dictator regimes? He's helped the muslim brotherhood bring down Mubarak and Gadhafi and they are connected to Hamas which our State Dept. lists as a terrorist organization. Are the Coptic Christians listed as terrorists? NO. They are the victims of the terrorists Obama is supporting with money and weapons. The better to kill them with…. yes muslims are killing Christians in every muslim land…. How's democracy doing in muslim lands? Not so good. Yet we are taxed silly and Obama is giving billions of dollars to non democratic muslim nations who call Israel the "little Satan" and USA the "big Satan". Why are we confiscating money from our citizens and giving it to people who want to kill us? Duh. We gotta get these dangerous traitors in both parties out of our government.

    • montlasky

      Well said!

    • Snorbak

      Be careful commenting on this problem in a rational manner, using your common sense, lest you be labled a bigot, troublemaker & extremist!

  • Intwine

    A religion losing relevancy is not near as important as the oppression and genocide of ‘kaffirs’ throughout the Islamic world. Writers of frontpagemagazine, please help expose the persecution of Christians until comments like the one of Flipside will be dismissed as ignorant in any social setting. Its very disturbing to see the scale of the problem verses the lack of interest on this matter.

  • http://msmignoresit.blogspot.com msmii

    The Middle East is ruled by iron fisted dictators that visit their sadistic pleasures against their citizens, routinely and violently attack neighbors based on issues as seemingly trivial as what form of religion they practice, and smile too sweetly at the US with their hands extended either for a questionable handshake or for money.
    http://msmignoresit.blogspot.com/2011/09/discours

  • AntiSharia

    While sad, it's not surprising. The Muslims have been trying to drive out non Muslim communities from the Middle East for 1400 years. North Africa was once dominated by Christians, now only the persecuted, and dwindling, Coptic community of Egypt remains. The bloodletting has only been slowed when the west could exercise influence, or outright control, over the region. With Muslims now having a free hand they are starting right where they left off. If it's not in the name of Islam, it's in the name of Nationalism(as in the case of Turkey) or now their warped idea of democracy gives them the right to continue their purge.

  • Ben

    It`s a pity that the leaders of persecuted M E churches blame in their joint statesments Israel as the cause of Muslims` aggressiveness.The useless apeasement of the Muslims.

  • LindaRivera

    In a few days here in New York City at the UN, the hypocrites will hold Durban 3 on racism for the sole objective of demonizing Israel who is NOT racist.

    Vile hypocrites! What is urgently needed is a special conference on the vicious Muslim religion- inspired attacks on Christians, their churches, homes and properties. This is taking place not just in the Middle East, but in African nations; Khartoum's Arab Muslim regime targets both Black Christians and Black Muslims for annihilation in Sudan's Nuba Mountains; Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Ivory Coast and in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    In Pakistan and Bangladesh the attacks are also perpetrated against Hindus and Sikhs as well as Christians. It also includes the kidnapping of Christian, Hindu and Sikh female children by Muslim males. The kidnappings of Christian female children by Muslim males in Egypt has increased enormously since the ouster of U.S. ally, moderate Mubarak.

    In all of these countries, the situation is rapidly worsening. It is an emergency situation that must be dealt with immediately. How can we call ourselves civilized when we ignore the terrible suffering perpetrated by Muslims on non-Muslims?

  • monika

    Booo Hooo, always whinning, if not the Jews, then the Christians. I guess they( Christians) dont understand the local game " catch the Christian". It is a lot of fun and it requiers multiple skills such as long distance running, sprint, wresteling, voice modulation, carving, some surgical skills, igniting fire with limited resources, cheerleading, but most of all it developes deep pride in teamwork and sportsmanship. What impreses me the most is that the players are not motivated by monetary rewards, no Sir. It is all about Brotherhood , Commitment and Teams spirit. Im pleased that the games are being revived again and its competetive spirit its awakening the people by thousands. So stop being so negative and simply join the fun!

    P.S. Im not sure what happens to the Christians after they are caught since no one heard from them again

    • Carolyn

      You have a lot of hatred in your heart. May God the Father forgive you and have Mercy on your soul because you must be insane.

      • monika

        Dear Madam, i do regret that you dont recognize satire. Pointing out the insanity that surrounds us!

  • Mxawell Smart

    Erdogone will be gone if he declares war on the Jewish state. Israel is a small nation with a super military force and superbly advanced high-tech weapon systems with tremendous fire power. Erdogone and Ahmadimonkeyboy. No match for the mighty Israeli military capability. The concequences will be fatal for both regimes.

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  • NANA

    let me ask this question. Why is that when a christisn converts to a muslim they got no problem with it but if a muslim should convert to Christianity then all hell breaks lose. You hear these muslims preach about peace which is something ghey themselves do not dream about it.CHRISTIANITY WILL NEVER DIE BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST DIED AND ROSE AGAIN.islam will die and the muslims will convert to the true Light of this world and that is JESUS.

  • Yeshuratnam

    While persecution of Christians goes on unabated in Muslim countries, Christian countries allow Muslims to construct mosques and enjoy religious freedom.On his visit to a new Turkish-funded mosque in Lanham, Md., Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erodogan said his government chose the site because of its location in “free territory.”He said when he attended the groundbreaking of the 15-acre, $100 million mega-mosque that the Turkish-American Cultural Center likely will become “the largest and most striking examples of Islamic architecture in the Western hemisphere when finished in 2014.”But those seemingly innocuous words are alarming to a number of analysts, including former Palestinian operative Walid Shoebat, who says the West doesn’t realize the significance of what Erdogan was saying. Shoebat said Erdogan’s true mission is to claim the land for Islam, and the evidence is in his words.“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers,” Shoebat said, quoting Erdogan. “The West is unaware that in Islam, a mosque is an embassy and Turkey is acting stealthily, which is why the project is not arousing much alarm,” Shoebat said.Islam analyst and Atlas Shrugs blogger Pamela Geller agrees. Most Americans don’t know that the plans showcase Turkey’s long-held territorial dream, she said. “The Turks are trying to restore the glory of the Ottoman period. They may be staking a claim to be the leaders of Sunni Islam worldwide, as they were in the days of the last caliphate,” Geller said.