Shillman Journalism Fellow sheds light on why Americans have been unaware of Christian persecution for so long.
The following interview was conducted by the Venn Institute with Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center
Raymond Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam expert, and author most recently of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. Follow him on Twitter @RaymondIbrahim5
Venn Institute: Most Americans see persecution of Christians and other minorities in Muslim majority nations as a recent phenomenon. Why is that not the case?
Ibrahim: It’s been going on, and the same exact patterns, for centuries. Such persecution is well recorded in the world’s primary historical texts—western and eastern. It’s not so well known in the West, however, because Western mainstream media are less interested in reporting ugly truths than they are invalidating their secular, liberal narrative—a narrative which maintains that Muslims are fundamentally peaceful, and, far from being persecuted, Christians are the oppressors.
Venn Institute: What are the Conditions of Omar and how are they being revived worldwide?
Ibrahim: They are a set of stipulations purportedly ratified between the second caliph of the same name and a conquered Christian community in the 7th century. Among other debilitations and humiliations, churches must not be built or fixed; crosses and bibles and even church singing must be suppressed around Muslims; Christians must get out of their seats if Muslims want them and over all “honor” Muslims. Today, as Muslims reclaim their Islamic heritage—to applause from Western multiculturalists—they are increasingly enforcing the Conditions on Christians.
Venn Institute: Most Christian traditions encourage their followers to study, research, and ask the hard questions so they can be confident in their faith. Yet Sharia outlaws apostasy, so-called blasphemy, and proselytism to Muslims, all in an effort to prevent Muslims from leaving their faith. How does this religious and social control impact culture in Muslim majority countries?
Ibrahim: To those Muslims who can still think—and they are not a few—they immediately see through Islam’s low self-confidence and thus need to keep people from critically thinking or questioning, and they often become apostates, even if only secretly. Conversely, those with less critical skills—who are popularly called “Islamists”—often buy into the Islamic worldview, based on Sharia teachings, and become “radical,” or, in short, espouse the 7th century mentality of a desert Bedouin they deem infallible, that is, their prophet.
Venn Institute: You wrote extensively about the horrific and systematic rape, beating, kidnappings, and forced conversion of Christian women and girls including the frequent targeting of girls as young as 9 years old. How is it that Americans are not more aware of this epidemic of violence, and why aren’t women’s rights groups speaking out about it?
Ibrahim: I discuss this at some length in Crucified Again. Suffice to say, so many so-called Western “humanitarians” and “feminists pick and choose who is worthy of their support—and considering that so many of these are of the liberal/secular mentality—which often is tinged with anti-Christian sentiment—Christian victims of rape, etc., are unworthy of attention.
Venn Institute: Americans are typically uncomfortable with religious value claims or offending people of other faiths. Presumably critics consider you anti-Islam when reading quotes from your book such as,
“The long record of Muslim violence specifically targeting churches, monasteries, and crosses is conclusive evidence of Muslim hostility toward the Christian religion itself. This centuries-old, continents-wide pattern of violence cannot be explained by the race, culture, or particular circumstances of the perpetrators…The common factor in all these attacks on Christian worship-the real reason behind them-can only be Islam itself.” How do you respond to claims that you are anti-Islam and how do you hope your research will make a difference amongst skeptics?
Ibrahim: I document, For example, one of the things even critics of the book have extolled is that Crucified Again has some 60 pages of endnotes and citations alone. Thus, my assertions, such as the one you quote, are borne out by a myriad of sources which I document. Unfortunately, those who whitewash Islam are not held to the same standard. If you read one of Karen Armstrong’s popular pro-Islam books, it all sounds good and sensible to the Western mentality—but for those who know better, we are left wondering where she gets her facts, as she rarely documents. On the other hand, because a book like mine is critical of Islam, I need to document all my findings—not that doing so will still fend off the anti-Islam charges that you mention come my way.
Venn Institute: You gave many examples of how the Obama Administration has supported terrorists and Islamists who have in turn persecuted minority faith and political groups, suppressing human rights and democracy. Why would the US government pursue a foreign policy so contrary to American values and national interest?
Ibrahim: Because Americans are only half awake—saturated as they are by a mass media campaign dedicated to making them oblivious to reality while directing their gaze to meaningless and vain things—I can barely listen to the mainstream media for more than a few minutes before running for shelter, as the things they highlight as “newsworthy” are beyond silly, even as the U.S. administration openly empowers Islamic jihadis around the world—the same fellows behind 9/11 and any number of other anti-American attacks. So we have a situation today where people around the world are insisting that Obama is in league with the jihadis, while Americans are busy talking about Kim Kardashian.
Venn Institute: Why should people of all faiths or no faith be concerned about the resurgence of Islamism worldwide, and what can they do to protect and promote religious freedom or all?
Ibrahim: The story of Crucified Again is about Christian suffering under Islam. However, the same hostility that Christians experience is felt for all non-Muslims. The only difference is that Christians are currently under Islamic hegemony—as most of the so-called Islamic world is really conquered Christian territory with Christian remnants—and so they are vulnerable to persecution. The U.S. for the moment is not; but if the opportunity ever comes, the same attacks on Christians will come to everyone who becomes vulnerable.
Venn Institute: How can people keep up with your research and publications?
Ibrahim: When it comes to the topic of Christian persecution by Muslims, my book really says it all. But for up to date research and publications, my website carries them all, www.RaymondIbrahim.com.
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