(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/04/persecution.jpg)The world is witnessing the horrific genocide of Christians, reminiscent of the genocide of Armenian Christians that began this month one hundred years ago. The Vatican has estimated that “more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year.” Three Christians a minute are being murdered. As many as 100-150 million Christians are being persecuted.
Statistics alone do not tell the whole story of the toll of human suffering the Islamic genocide of Christians is exacting. The horrific killings include, for example, four Iraqi Christian children, who were beheaded for refusing to say that they would follow the Prophet Muhammad and for telling their ISIS captors that they will always “love” and “follow” Jesus.
ISIS is literally wiping out ancient Christian communities in Iraq and Syria, torching churches, killing and raping the inhabitants and forcing others to convert or flee for their lives.
Egyptian Coptic Christians and Ethiopian Christians were beheaded by ISIS jihadists in Libya, all shown to the world on video.
Christian students were slaughtered by the Al-Shabaab jihadists at a university in Kenya. “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot.” said one student who managed to survive. “We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters. “There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building.”
In Nigeria, the Boko Haram jihadists’ massive killing spree included the decapitating of Christians with chainsaws. Here is an example of a Boko Haram call to arms against Christians, which mirrors the ISIS movement that Boko Haram has aligned with:
“We know what is happening in this world, it is a jihad war against Christians and Christianity. It is a war against Western education, democracy and constitution…This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution. Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”
This systematic slaughter and persecution of Christians by Islamists have occurred largely in the Middle East and parts of Africa, but are by no means limited solely to those regions. The jihadists have made it clear that they intend to bring their genocide to Europe and America. Indeed, the genocide is migrating along with refugees from Africa who are trying to reach Europe to start a new life. Very shortly before the tragic capsizing of a boat in the Mediterranean Sea which cost hundreds of migrants their lives, Muslim migrants in a rubber dinghy threw overboard a dozen Christians for refusing to pray to Allah. The Christian migrants drowned for staying true to their faith.
Yet President Obama does not even seem able to publicly acknowledge the horrific Islamist genocide targeted against Christian men, women and children – simply because they are Christians – that is occurring on his watch, much less do anything about it. Other world leaders, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have also failed to speak out forcefully for the Christian victims. They dance around the issue rather than confront directly the Islamic jihadist source, and the innocent Christian targets, of this primary evil of our time. As Mgr Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus put it, “Christians feel they have been abandoned.”
For example, the United Nations General Assembly held a two-day thematic debate on April 20 and 21 entitled “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism.” Senior government and religious leaders attended and gave lofty speeches. In his own remarks, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talked in general terms about violent extremism and the need for the world to “stand up to this threat.” But the Secretary General conspicuously omitted any mention of anti-Christian genocide, while specifically calling out anti-Semitism and Islamophobia for stoking hatred and costing lives.
For his part, President Obama has done more than just abandon Christians. He has condescendingly lectured Christians to remember the misdeeds he says were committed in the name of Christ many years ago, as if that somehow balances out in his relativist moral code the genocide committed by jihadists against Christians today. During the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year, Obama said: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Obama not only insulted Christians today who face persecution and death on a mass scale. He twisted history in trying to invoke his moral relativism. He conveniently left out that the Crusades were a response to Muslim invasions that had resulted in the capture of two-thirds of the old Christian world and that Christian churches took a leadership role in the fights against slavery and segregation.
Indeed, if President Obama wants to harken back to historical times for lessons, then he should look to the far closer parallels between the genocide that Turkish Muslims inflicted on Armenian Christians a century ago and the jihadists’ genocide of Christian men, women and children today. While Pope Francis labeled the Armenian massacres as “the first genocide of the 20th century” and some European leaders are willing to use the term “genocide” to describe what happened to the Armenians, President Obama has hidden behind euphemisms. He won’t use the word “genocide” when addressing the horrors that befell the Armenian Christians. He doesn’t want to insult the sensibilities of Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Obama has called one of his five top friends among world leaders (which, unsurprisingly, did not include Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu).
Samantha Power, whom President Obama chose to succeed Susan Rice as his UN ambassador, wrote more than a decade ago the Pulitzer Prize winning book entitled “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” She wrote then that “[p]olicymakers have been able to accentuate the grayness and moral ambiguity of each crisis” in order to justify doing nothing. In early 2008, Ms. Power urged Armenian-Americans to vote for Barack Obama as president, noting his pledge as a candidate that “as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
Ms. Power vouched for Obama’s honesty in making that pledge:
“I know him very well and he’s a person of incredible integrity, and he’s not going to focus-group his way to making very important policy decisions. He’s a true friend of the Armenian people, an acknowledger of the history.”
Obama has not kept his word since he took office to officially “recognize the Armenian Genocide.” And as the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide approaches, it is reported that he is still resisting the use of the term “genocide” to describe what the Muslim Turks did to the Christian Armenians. Using euphemisms such as “great calamity” does not accurately convey the truth of the deliberate policy of annihilation of an ethnic, largely Christian people. When I asked Ambassador Power for comment, she repeated three times “I don’t want to talk about it” and walked away.
Ambassador Power should be used to the “moral ambiguity” in her post at the UN. “Moral ambiguity” is the UN’s stock in trade. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on April 22nd that the Secretary General is “fully aware of the sensitivities related to the characterization of what happened in 1915.” However, he prefers to refer to what happened as an “atrocity crime” rather than genocide. Indeed, during the same week of the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the Muslim Turks’ genocide committed against Armenian Christians, Ban Ki-moon went out of his way to praise the Turkish government for its “generous invitation and offer to host the first-ever international Humanitarian Summit meeting in Istanbul next year.”
As George Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905 – ten years before the Armenian genocide began): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Just as the rising wave of Islamic jihad has led directly to today’s genocide of so many Christians, so too did Islamic jihad in the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire contribute to the genocide of Armenians a century ago. As early as 1909, a Turkish Mufti (religious leader), urged Turks to kill Armenians because “they were against Muslims and God.” In early 1915, a fatwa was issued against non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire.
Beginning on April 24, 1915, a deliberate policy to exterminate a whole population with mass killings and deportations was put into motion. Armenian Christians were shot, stabbed and beaten to death. Some had their throats slit. Women and children were marched to the desert to die, except for those children who were given one option to avoid death – renounce their Christian faith.
U.S. ambassador to Turkey at the time, Henry Morgenthau, described what he called a “death warrant to a whole race.” He said that “persecution of Armenians is assuming unprecedented proportions,’ which included “terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.”
Little was done to try and stop the Armenian genocide as it was going on. Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered. Adolf Hitler took notice of the world’s indifference. When he decided to invade Poland in 1939, he told his generals: “Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my ‘Death’s Head Units’ with the orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?” Hitler’s Holocaust resulted in the loss of about 11 million lives, six million of whom were Jews. Amongst the millions of non-Jews killed by the Nazis were Catholics and other Christians.
Hitler’s rhetorical question – “Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?” –is still relevant today. Moral ambiguity from the leader of the free world and from the Secretary General of the United Nations gives Turkey’s leaders of today political cover to continue their denial of responsibility for the 20th century’s first genocide. In fact, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to cast Turkey as the victim. He said that “if we examine what our nation had to go through over the past 100 to 150 years, we would find far more suffering than what the Armenians went through.” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lashed out at the Pope for joining “an evil front” plotting against Turkey and claimed that critics of Turkey were ignoring the Muslims’ suffering during World War I.
Caving in to historical revisionism that denies the 20th century’s first genocide – committed by Muslim Turks against Christian Armenians – creates a fertile environment for obscuring the evil underlying the commission of today’s 21st century genocide committed by Muslims against Christians. Turkey’s President Erdogan demonstrates the big lie when, for example, he played the Islamist victimhood card last fall by claiming that Westerners “want us dead, they like seeing our children die.” This is the same man who has accused Israel of being “more barbaric than Hitler.” He is the same man who said: “As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres. Behind these lie racism, hate speech and Islamophobia.”
President Obama himself has played into the Muslim victimhood narrative on numerous occasions, starting with his June 2009 apologia speech in Cairo to the Muslim world. He followed up at the United Nations in 2012. After falsely blaming the jihadists’ murder of four Americans in Benghazi on an obscure anti-Muslim video, Obama said that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
President Obama is quick to condemn acts he considers to be demonstrations of Islamophobia. However, he remains on the sidelines while the genocide of Christians goes on unabated during our lifetime. Obama can start by re-focusing his plans for admitting to the United States at least 70,000 foreign refugees annually from Somalia, Iraq, Syria and other Muslim-majority nations. He should ensure that persecuted religious minorities from those countries be given first priority. Christians seeking refuge from falling victim to genocide in those Muslim-majority countries are clearly the most at risk today and deserve the most immediate protection.
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