Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
This Christmas, there will be fewer Christians celebrating in their homes in the Middle East than ever before.
Before Obama, Nineveh Plains hosted 90,000 Christians. Today, it’s under 40,000.
Nineveh is one of the first cities mentioned in the Bible. The Nineveh Plains are the heartland of Syriac Christianity. But now the plains are barren with ruined churches and deserted homes in formerly Christian towns and cities. And that same story repeats itself across Iraq where 81% of Christians have disappeared.
In Mosul alone, over 100,000 Christians were displaced as Jihadists marked their doors with an “N” for Nazarene. From cities to small towns, the end of the year bears witness to a Christian genocide.
In 2008, there were an estimated 700,000 Christians in Iraq, today estimates hover between 250,000 and 300,000. While ISIS is most directly associated with terror against Christians, most Jihadist groups, including those backed by Obama, intimidated, robbed and tortured them.
In January 2014, Obama dismissed ISIS as a “jayvee” team. That summer, the team took Qaraqosh and its surrounding villages, including Bartella. The Christians were given a choice between converting, paying Jizya, the traditional Dhimmi tax that Muslims impose on non-Muslims under Islamic law, and "death by the sword."
The Shiite government finally took back Bartella, but now its Christians have found themselves under the thumb of the Shabak, a Shiite cult, whose soldiers that are part of the Shiite Jihadist Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) backed by Iran. The Christians of the Nineveh Plains that had been displaced by Sunni Jihadists backed by Turkey and Qatar are now being displaced by a Shiite Jihadist cult backed by Iran.
While the Obama administration backed the Pro-Iranian government in Baghdad and its Shiite militias, it discouraged the Americans who had volunteered to come and help protect Assyrian Christians. Congressional efforts to protect Christians were likewise stymied by the Obama administration and by State Department personnel in the region who refused to act on Congressional mandates.
The situation in the Nineveh Plains highlights the larger dilemma for the Christians in the region. As a middle class minority, instability turns Christians into immediate Jihadist targets. When Shiite and Sunni Muslims fight, they both rob the Christians. And when the fighting dies down, the Muslims go back to some version of the status quo, while the Christians lose what little they were trying to protect.
Christians in neighboring Syria have been similarly dwindling.
Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo had stated that Syria's Christian population had fallen to 500,000. That number was down from 1.2 million before the war.
In Aleppo, the largest Christian community in the country had fallen from 150,000 to 35,000 last year.
In Tel Tal, 900 Christians remain in 30 villages where there were once 10,000. One of the villages has only two residents, a mother and son.
In Syria, as in Iraq, Christians have been caught between Sunni Jihadists and Shiite militias, exploited and robbed by both. In Iraq, Obama backed the Shiite government and in Syria, he supported the Sunni Jihadists. But either way, the Christians were caught in the middle in the instability he had unleashed.
Across the region, the beneficiaries of the Arab Spring were Islamists, Shiites or Sunnis, and the losers were Christians. Islamists are now more entrenched than ever from North Africa to Iraq. Jihadist militias on both sides have won or lost, collecting land, wealth and power, or losing it, but Christians have always lost. Under the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Iran’s puppet regime in Iraq, in cities and towns, the chaos and violence that was unleashed has worsened their position and thinned out their numbers.
The Arab Spring brought church bombings and terror to Egypt’s Coptic Christians. The Obama administration had done everything possible to prop up the Muslim Brotherhood regime. And its emissary had even warned Egyptian Christians against protesting their own oppression.
Popular protests eventually brought down the Muslim Brotherhood regime, but not before turning Coptic Christians into the scapegoats for Muslim terrorism. Egyptian Christians had stood up for their rights, despite the violence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Obama’s intimidation. And they paid the price in a wave of political terrorism by Islamists and disdain for their plight by the mainstream media.
An estimated 200,000 Christians fled Egypt in the face of the rising tide of Islamist violence. That’s nearly 5% of the population. When hundreds of thousands of Muslims flee a country, it’s dubbed a genocide.
But when hundreds of thousands of Christians escape religious violence, the world turns a blind eye.
The same media that turned Al Jazeera Islamists propagandists in Egypt into martyrs has shown very little interest in the plight and the suffering of Egypt’s Coptic Christians.
Even though Egyptian Christians predated the Muslim colonists and invaders, Islamic terrorists taunt them as “crusaders” and vow to purify the Islamic colonized region by driving them out.
In the Northern Sinai, a branch of ISIS that has reportedly been allied with Hamas, has made Christians into its target. Hundreds of Christian families were forced to flee El-Arish after attacks killed 7 Christians and targeted a church. Islamic terrorists distributed lists of Christians who had been marked for death.
It’s been estimated that the Christian population of the Northern Sinai has fallen to less than 1,000.
Obama illegally invaded Libya to overthrow its government, bringing terror and death to Christians. The regime change operation was conducted to support a takeover of the country by the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies. And the suffering of Christians in Libya under Islamist rule was covered up by a relentlessly pro-Islamic administration that had no interest in the suffering of its victims.
When Jews had been targeted in an Islamic terrorist attack in France before the Sabbath, Obama had referred to it as terrorists having “randomly” decided to “shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris”. When Coptic Christians were murdered in Libya, the State Department referred to them only as “Egyptian citizens”.
The beheadings of Coptic Christians were meant to send a message to the estimated 50,000 Coptic Christians living in Libya. As were the attacks on churches in Benghazi and other Libyan towns and cities. And it wasn’t just ISIS that was responsible. The new Islamist authorities in Libya arrested, tortured and even killed Coptic Christians, accusing them of missionary activity because of their possession of bibles.
Obama’s Islamist regime change in Libya was so effective that a population of 100,000 Christians dwindled to only a few thousand.
In Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iraq, Christians paid the highest price for Obama’s Arab Spring. Much as they always have for the various efforts to “democratize” Arab countries. Democracy in Muslim countries and areas invariably leads to the rise of Islamists and the persecution of Christians.
While the Christian population in Israel increased nearly fivefold since the Jewish State’s restoration, Muslim rule in the West Bank and Gaza led to sharp drops in Christian populations and violence against Christians. Efforts to bring democracy to these parts of Israel occupied by Islamic terrorist militias led to a Hamas takeover in Gaza, and the bombing of Christian institutions by Islamic terrorists.
Senior Hamas figures have been linked to the abduction and forced conversion of Gaza Christians.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the number of Christians in Gaza had dropped to 1,000. Attempts to blame Israel’s campaign against Hamas for the decline have been unconvincing because Gaza’s Muslim population continues to grow by leaps and bounds. In Gaza, as in Egypt, Iraq and Syria, under Islamist rule and terror, Christian populations decline while Muslim populations grow.
The Obama administration had embraced Hamas more than any previous administration, maintaining alleged secret channels to the Islamic terror group, and condemning Israeli efforts to take it on. The decline of Gaza’s Christians is ultimately another ugly consequence of Obama’s pro-Islamist policies.
From Iraq to Gaza, and from Egypt to Syria, Christmas in the Middle East will be celebrated by fewer Christians, under conditions of greater poverty, insecurity and terror. While Obama conducts his speaking tours, grinning and waving to delighted crowds, Christian refugees in the Middle East huddle in churches, in tents and in wrecked homes. But there is one thing that gives them a measure of hope.
Under Obama, Muslim refugees admitted to the United States outnumbered Christians for the first time. Obama’s policies not only led to Christian genocide, but he closed the door on the victims, admitting the perpetrators of the region’s Islamist genocide, but not its Christian victims. Now that has changed.
Christian refugees now outnumber Muslim refugees 3 to 1.
Middle Eastern Christians endured eight years of persecution and terror under Obama. But now a new era is here. Christian persecution in the region is far from over. But for the first time, there is hope.