Gregory III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East, has proudly declared: “We, the Arab Christians, always defend Islam and our Muslim brothers – no one defends Islam like the Arab Christians do.”
The Patriarch’s declaration of solidarity couldn’t have come at a better time, for Lord knows Islam needs defending: our Muslim brothers, acting in the name of Islam and in accord with its express teachings about subjugating the People of the Book and destroying “idols,” seized the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, removed all the icons and crosses and every trace of Christianity, and made it into their headquarters. Certainly Islam needs a terrific defense after that, and a full-throated, energetic one — all the more so after our Muslim brothers terrorized Melkite Greek Catholics all over Syria, destroyed their churches, and drove them from their homes.
It’s a good thing that our Muslim brothers have a personage as illustrious as Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East, to defend them after all that, because otherwise someone might get the crazy idea that Islam teaches something that might have led our Muslim brothers to behave in this odd way toward their biggest defenders, Melkite Greek Catholics.
Islam needs Gregory III Laham to defend it from the likes of Grand Ayatollah Ahmad al-Husseini al-Baghdadi, the chief Shi’ite cleric in Iraq, who has said: “If they are people of the book [Jews and Christians] we demand of them the jizya” — that is, the tax the Qur’an mandates that Muslims must collect from the subjugated people (9:29). “And if they refuse,” the Ayatollah continued, “then we fight them. That is, if he is Christian. He has three choices: either convert to Islam, or, if he refuses and wishes to remain Christian, then pay the jizya. But if they still refuse—then we fight them, and we abduct their women, and destroy their churches—this is Islam!”
If anyone reads that and hundreds of similar declarations from Muslim clerics both Sunni and Shi’ite, and starts to think that there might be a problem with Islam, Gregory III and his Melkite clergy will be right there to say it ain’t so, that Islam is wonderful, that they love the hand that lashes them. This is what it means to be dhimmi, one of the “protected people,” the status Islamic law bestows upon those “People of the Book” who willingly submit to Islamic hegemony and are accordingly granted the favor of being allowed to continue to live as Christians, as long as they know their place.
Melkite Greek Catholics and other Christians in the Middle East lived as dhimmis for centuries. They internalized the idea that, no matter how bad the treatment from their Muslim masters got, they must not utter anything but praise for Islam and Muslims, for otherwise things would go even harder for them – for Islamic law stipulates that if the dhimmi dares utter a complaint about his wretched condition, or a word of criticism for the words of the Qur’an and Muhammad that mandated that wretchedness, the “protection” would be revoked and his life would be forfeit.
Accordingly today, if any Melkite Greek Catholics get out of line and start telling the truth about Islam’s doctrines of warfare and subjugation of Infidels, including their good friends the Melkite Greek Catholics, our Muslim brothers can rest assured that they have the Patriarch Gregory III Laham and his faithful bishops in their corner, ready to silence all such effrontery, which everyone knows is a continuing danger to the Church.
It’s marvelous, it’s magical, it’s ecumenical. The only problem is that Gregory III Laham’s people are being slaughtered by our Muslim brothers, and instead of defending his people, and calling attention to why they are being slaughtered, the Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East is sticking up for the belief system that incited their slaughterers.
The Patriarch doesn’t seem to notice that the dhimmi “contract of protection” has already been revoked, that the Islamic State and other jihad groups in Syria and Iraq already see Christians as rebelling against their rule and hence lawfully to be killed. For Gregory III Laham to be actively dissembling now about what is happening to Middle Eastern Christians and why, in the classic dhimmi mode, is like a slave deemed disobedient being lashed and frenziedly proclaiming his submission and obedience as the whip falls: it’s an understandable impulse, but far too late.
At this point, the old dhimmi practice of affirming the wonderfulness of Islam so that master doesn’t treat slave so harshly isn’t saving anyone, and is a grotesque betrayal of those who are suffering. Does the Patriarch think his shameless groveling will keep our Muslim brothers from slitting his throat (in accord with Qur’an 47:4) if they have the inclination and get the opportunity? It will not. Nor will it save any of his people. All it does is impede efforts to spread understanding about why what is happening to Middle Eastern Christians is happening, and thus also impedes attempts to formulate effective means to counter the persecution and genocide.
The Patriarch could say nothing. That he chooses to say what he said is barbaric, it’s a betrayal, it’s a travesty. Melkite Greek Catholics and all the victims and the present and future and potential victims of Islamic jihad deserve better than these clerics who do nothing but betray them into the hands of those who hate them. Siding with killers against their victims isn’t Christian charity by any rational standard, however much Gregory III and his minions try to dress up their betrayal in clerical robes.