Persecuting Christians in the Middle East

The Western media’s coverage of recent in events in the Middle East, has shown a great weakness in the US/UK understanding of the region but it has also demonstrated a one sided bias, which has discriminated against all Middle Eastern religious minorities. 

Examples of the media’s discrimination, has been shown by its failure to adequately address direct attacks and murders against Middle Eastern minority communities, in particular the Christians of both Syria and Egypt. 

As in Iraq, Syria’s two-million-strong Christian community, the largest next to Egypt’s Copts in the entire region, is being devastated. 

This was recently illustrated by Nina Shea of the National Review Online, who pointed out those murdered in Syria include: Catholic Syrian priest Fr. François Murad who was murdered in Idlib on June 23, by rebel militias. 

How he was killed is not yet known and his superiors “vigorously deny” that he was a victim of beheading, as some news sources are claiming. Syrian Orthodox parish priest Father Fadi Haddad was kidnapped last December after he left his church in the town of Qatana to negotiate the release of one of his kidnapped parishioners. 

A week later, Fr. Haddad’s mutilated corpse was found by the roadside, with his eyes gouged out. Yohannes A. (whose last name has been redacted to protect his family) was summarily executed. An Islamist gunman stopped the bus to Aleppo and checked the background of each passenger. 

When the gunman noticed Yohannes’ last name was Armenian, they singled him out. After finding a cross around his neck, one of the terrorists shot point blank at the cross, tearing open the man’s chest. 

A woman from Hassake recounted in December, to Swedish journalist Nuri Kino, how her husband and son were shot in the head by Islamists. “Our only crime is being Christians,” she answered, when asked if there had been a dispute. 

While media agencies have given a large amount of time, reporting on the military intervention, which removed Mohammed Morsi from power in Egypt, some facts the media have failed to inform the public include: 

A growing trend where Christians are brought to trial for insulting Islam, with “36 cases during 2011 and 2012: 35 for insulting Islam and one for insulting Christianity.” 

A U.S. Report on Religious Freedom admonished the Morsi Government, admitting that: “While…religious minorities mostly worshiped without harassment, the government generally failed to prevent, investigate or prosecute crimes against members of religious minority groups, especially Christians.” 

In June, NBC News even reported how the number of Egyptians receiving asylum in the U.S. has jumped more than five-fold in recent years. 

In 2010, the year before the revolution, just 531 Egyptians received asylum in the U.S.; in 2012, that number jumped to 2,882, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s statistical data for 2012. 

Georgia, the former Soviet republic, has also become a popular destination for Egyptians because it’s relatively easy to obtain residence.A Georgian consular officer said that about 150 Egyptians apply for asylum every week. 

And the Netherlands has made it easier for Christians to claim asylum by no longer demanding proof that asylum seekers have sought official protection from persecution. 

The Dutch ambassador said in a TV interview that his government was prompted to make the process easier because of reports of persecution of Christians and a lack of adequate government protection. 

During a recent TV interview, Sheikh Essam Abdulamek, a member of parliament’s Shura Council, warned Egypt’s Christians against participating in the June 30 protests against the Muslim Brotherhood, threatening them by saying “Do not sacrifice your children” since “general Muslim opinion will not be silent about the ousting of the president [Morsi].” 

On the day the Morsi Government was removed from office, the Vatican reported that among the episodes of violence in Egypt, there was the immediate attack against the Catholic parish of St. George, in the village of Delgia, where groups of Islamists first looted and then burned down the pastor's house and church buildings. 

Meanwhile, Islamists at a pro-Morsi rally on July 4 were filmed pledging to kill their political opponents and to set Christians “on fire”, claiming that the removal of Morsi has “created a new Taliban and a new Al-Qaeda in Egypt”, while stating: “I tell the Christians one word: You live by our side. We will set you on fire! We will set you on fire!”

This article was written by Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). This article has also been published by the London Progressive Journal.
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