Op-ed: In new, Islamic Middle East, Christianity quickly becoming a thing of the past
Welcome to a Christians-free Middle East. Arab Christianity is near its extinction everywhere. “Christianity in Iraq could be eradicated in our lifetime, partially as a result of the US troop withdrawal,” declared Leonard Leo, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Up to 900,000 Christians already fled the country since 2003, according to a recent study by Minority Rights Group International. Benjamin Sleiman, archbishop of Baghdad, also spoke of “the extinction of Christianityin the Middle East.”
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In Egypt, 100,000 Christians already left the country after Hosni Mubarak’s fall earlier this year. The Egyptian Union of Human Rights is denouncing this “mass exodus.” This week Egyptian authorities arrested Gamal Massoud, a Coptic Christian student accused of posting a drawing of Islam’s prophet on Facebook that triggered two days of violence in southern Egypt; meanwhile, Muslims were attacking Massoud’s house and chanting “Allahu akbar” or “God is Great.”
In Syria, the major Christian leaders are supporting Bashar Assad’s bloodbath, fearing an Islamic takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Catholic Patriarch of Lebanon, Bechara Rai, blessed Assad as a “reformer” while Greek-Orthodox Bishop Louqa al-Khouri organized ecumenical shows to support the regime.
For the first time in Syrian history, the current Minister of Defense, Dawud Rajha, is a Christian. Yet this is not a sign of power, but rather, of desperation. Adnan al-Aroor, the Syrian sheikh who has become the religious voice of the uprising against Assad, is urging his followers to “tear apart, chop up and feed” the meat of Christian supporters of the regime “to the dogs.”
The Syrian puppets in Lebanon waged a campaign of terror against Lebanon’s Christians starting in 2005. Christian politicians and journalists were assassinated and bombs detonated in Christian areas.
Elsewhere, in Gaza, the 3,000 Christians who remain are subjected to persecution and death. Meanwhile, every year some 1,000 Palestinian Christians are leaving their citadel Bethlehem. In a recent Christmas celebration hosted by the Fatahmovement, Mohammad Shtayyeh, a central committee member, appealed to Christians to “remain in the land.”
Tiger devouring the lamb
The process of eradication began immediately after Yasser Arafat assumed control of the Palestinian Authority. Christian sites and cemeteries were desecrated by Muslims. Slogans like “Islam will win” and “First the Saturday people then the Sunday People” have been painted on walls, and PLO flags were draped over Jesus crosses.
Now that the Nasserite mixture of socialism and secularism is outclassed by the Islamist travesty of “Arab Spring,” Christians are vanishing from their cradle.
Christians are paying the anti-Israel appeasing choice: they feed the Islamic crocodile hoping it would eat them last. Many ministers in all the anti-Zionist regimes of the Fertile Crescent were Christian: For example, Tariq Aziz, former Iraq’s deputy prime minister, and Michel Aflaq, the cofounder of the Ba’ath Party who played a pivotal role in the history of both Iraq and Syria.
Moreover, Arab Christians like George Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh emerged as the most effective terrorist commanders. There is also the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, is a fierce anti-Semitic figure. Meanwhile, in Lebanon’ the Christian movements of General Michel Aoun and Sleiman Frangieh are allied with Hizbollah. Christians have also been part of municipal councils headed by Hamas.
Nonetheless, the Islamic tiger is now devouring the Christian lamb. Indeed, the Christian era in the Middle East is coming to an end.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book “A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism”