Christians in Muslim countries are awaiting Christmas not with joy, but with trepidation.
Fox News reported that in Iraq, “Christians are afraid to put up a Christmas tree or other decorations, according to one Christian pastor in Iraq. Such displays of faith in an increasingly extremist nation can bring threats and violence, say human rights groups. Christian churches must be regularly guarded, but congregants are even more on edge during their holiest days.”
And in Nigeria, according to Reuters, “fearing attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram over Christmas, Nigerian police said on Sunday they had ordered extra patrols, surveillance and covert operations to better secure potential targets during the festive period. The militants have struck every Christmas for the past three years, most dramatically in 2011, when they bombed three churches. One of them, on St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, on the edge of Abuja, killed 37 people and wounded 57.”
Likewise in Indonesia, Reuters reported that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono “has ordered police to step up security around churches over the Christmas holidays following reports of possible attacks.”
Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that last Saturday, “Syria’s armed rebels fired multiple mortar shells on a church in Syria’s southern province of Daraa, killing 12 people and injuring many others.” Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham “told Xinhua in an interview that Syria’s long-term crisis has displaced more than 450,000 Christian Syrians and killed more than a thousand of them.” IB Times reported Thursday that in the Central African Republic, Muslims recently murdered Christians wholesale, “killing nearly 1,000 men over a two-day period and systematically looting civilian homes.”
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako recently said that Iraqi officials were readily giving Christians visas to leave the country, saying that there was “a whole strategy to help Christians leave Iraq” and warning: “The Middle East is going to empty of Christians.”
David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization dedicated to defending persecuted Christians worldwide, agreed, saying: “We’re deeply concerned that Christianity is being squeezed out to extinction maybe in the next decade or so in the Middle East.” He explained: “There’s a culture of fear that has developed there that makes it hard for people to want to go to church to express their faith, especially at the holiday season.”
Curry ascribed this “culture of fear” to the negative influence of “extremists”: “These extremist groups desire religious cleansing and they’re increasing in number particularly in northern Iraq….Some of these countries, especially Iraq, have environments that are very hostile because of extremists in the region.”
The Fox News article in which Curry’s quotes appeared did not identify what kind of “extremists” were menacing the remaining Christians in Iraq. And that’s part of the problem: there is little chance that these “extremists” will be defeated, and the Christians in Muslim lands defended, if we can’t even talk about who they are and why they are doing what they are doing.
Nor is Fox the only one guilty of this criminal silence. Steven B. Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, in the Washington Post in October compared the persecution of Christians to Kristallnacht, without ever naming who exactly was doing the persecuting. Everyone knew who perpetrated Kristallnacht, and why they did it, and Steven B. Nasatir, I am sure, knows full well who is persecuting Christians today. He may even know why despite ubiquitous attempts to cover up the reasons, but in his entire piece he fastidiously avoids mentioning who is behind the persecution.
This sort of thing can be expected from the egregiously compromised Washington Post, but it does raise a question: how does Steven B. Nasatir, and the WaPo for that matter, propose to combat this persecution if we are not even allowed to name the persecutors? How can we combat an enemy we cannot even name?
The problem is wider still. Patriarch Gregory recently said plaintively: “I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.” Yet he need not have looked far for the answer: all too many of his brother clerics in the West think that to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East would be in poor taste, and perhaps even “Islamophobic.” Robert McManus, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, articulated the prevailing sentiment last February: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally,” he wrote, “might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.”
So we must keep silent about Muslim persecution of Christians so as to avoid offending the peaceful Muslims in the U.S. with whom we are in dialogue, and who presumably would be offended by a discussion of that persecution even though they ostensibly repudiate and denounce it. And apparently the “positive of achievements” of this “inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims” have not, throughout the course of 2013, done a single thing to ease the plight of the Christians suffering in Muslim lands – and the silence of Bishop McManus and others like him about the Muslim persecution of Christians has arguably made the situation of Middle Eastern Christians even worse, for their persecutors know that there is no one who cares, no one who will dare to speak up for their victims.
Barack Obama, for his part, is no help. He has made only occasional, brief and perfunctory references to the Muslim persecution of Christians – in stark contrast to his solicitude for the Muslims battling Buddhists in Burma, and for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, despite its dismal record of targeting Christians and burning churches, blaming the Christians for its having been toppled from power in a popular uprising last summer.
And so Christians are being harassed, discriminated against, physically menaced, exiled, and killed in Muslim countries the world over, and no one cares. Indeed, anyone who does dare raise concern about their plight and dare to identify their persecutors will be tarred as an “Islamophobe” and a “bigot” and vilified accordingly, while the Right runs for cover and shuns the “controversial” speaker.
Thus the one thing we can be certain of at Christmas 2013 and into the new year is that Islamic jihadists will kill more Christians. And there is one other certainty as well: no one will care.