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West Has Betrayed Middle East Christians — Syriac Patriarch

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Syriac Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan

(AINA) It is “a big lie” to suggest Islamic State could be defeated with airstrikes, according to the head of the Syriac Catholic Church, who has accused Western governments of betraying Christians in the Middle East.

“All Eastern patriarchs, myself included, have spoken out clearly to the West from the very beginning,” Syriac Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan insisted, warning western governments: “Be careful, the situation in Syria is not like that of Egypt, Tunisia or Libya — it’s much more complex, and conflict here will create only chaos and civil war.”

Criticising how the cautioned governments maintained that the rebellion would be short and that Bashar al-Assad’s government would fall within months, he said, “As I predicted, that hasn’t happened, and five years later, innocent people, especially Christians, have no support. The West has betrayed us.”

While French and Russian airstrikes have increased since the Paris and Beirut bombings, the patriarch said these retaliations were ineffective as the well-financed leaders of the so-called Islamic State had infiltrated local populations.

“Western democracies have conspired against Syria and produced the destruction of the nation’s infrastructure, the demolition of houses, towns, villages, monuments and archaeological sites,” the Beirut-based patriarch said, castigating how Western politicians, especially in the U.S., Britain and France, appeared to favour “an endless conflict in Iraq and Syria”, while Western media had proved “silent, cowardly and complicit” by failing to “defend truth and justice”.

Although the Syriac Catholic leader praised the Pope for being “a defender of justice” and appealing for solidarity with Middle East Christians, he said threatened Catholic communities needed “not words but deeds”, lamenting that the West “has abandoned Christians to this situation”.

In the United States, meanwhile, Church leaders have challenged political attempts to block refugees from the Middle Eastern crisis from entering the country. Republicans in the House of Representatives won a 289-137 veto-proof majority on a bill blocking Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and governors of at least 30 states have called for an end to Syrian resettlement until security concerns can be addressed in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

Cardinal O’Malley said “The barbaric attacks in Paris, which demand a strong response and require policies that as best possible prevent recurrence, should not be used to efface the memory of Syrians and others from the Middle East and Africa who are desperately in need of shelter, support and safety.”

Pray for our brothers and sisters feeling abandoned by the West.

Why the Media Doesn’t Cover Jihadist Attacks on Middle East Christians

attacks on christians

“To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace”—Hebrews 6:6

The United Nations, Western governments, media, universities, and talking heads everywhere insist that Palestinians are suffering tremendous abuses from the state of Israel.  Conversely, the greatest human rights tragedy of our time—radical Muslim persecution of Christians, including in Palestinian controlled areas—is devotedly ignored.

he facts speak for themselves. Reliable estimates indicate that anywhere from 100-200 million Christians are persecuted every year; one Christian is martyred every five minutes. Approximately 85% of this persecution occurs in Muslim majority nations. In 1900, 20% of the Middle East was Christian. Today, less than 2% is.

In one week in Egypt alone, where my Christian family emigrated, the Muslim Brotherhood launched akristallnacht—attacking, destroying, and/or torching some 82 Christian churches (some of which were built in the 5th century, when Egypt was still a Christian-majority nation before the Islamic conquests).  Al-Qaeda’s black flag has been raised atop churches.  Christians—including priests, women and children—have been attacked, beheaded, and killed.

Nor is such persecution of Christians limited to Egypt.   From Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east and from Central Asia to the north to sub-Saharan Africa to the south; across thousands of miles of lands inhabited by peoples who do not share the same races, languages, cultures, and/or socio-economic conditions, millions of Christians are being persecuted and in the same exact patterns.

Muslim converts to Christianity and Christian evangelists are attacked, imprisoned, and sometimes beheaded; countless churches across the Islamic world are being banned or bombed; Christian women and children are being abducted, enslaved, raped, and/or forced to renounce their faith.

Far from helping these Christian victims, U.S. policies are actually exacerbating their sufferings.  Whether in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, or Syria, and under the guise of the U.S.-supported “Arab Spring,” things have gotten dramatically worse for Christians.  Indeed, during a recent U.S. congressional hearing, it was revealed that thousands of traumatized Syrian Christians—who, like Iraqi Christians before them are undergoing a mass exodus from their homeland—were asking “Why is America at war with us?”

The answer is that very few Americans have any clue concerning what is happening to their coreligionists.

Few mainstream media speak about the horrific persecution millions of people are experiencing simply because they wish to worship Christ in peace.

There, is of course, a very important reason why the mainstream media ignores radical Muslim persecution of Christians: if the full magnitude of this phenomenon was ever know, many cornerstones of the mainstream media—most prominent among them, that Israel is oppressive to Palestinians—would immediately crumble.

Why?  Because radical Muslim persecution of Christians throws a wrench in the media’s otherwise well-oiled narrative that “radical-Muslim-violence-is-a-product-of-Muslim-grievance”—chief among them Israel.

Consider it this way: because the Jewish state is stronger than its Muslim neighbors, the media can easily portray Islamic terrorists as frustrated “underdogs” doing whatever they can to achieve “justice.”  No matter how many rockets are shot into Tel Aviv by Hamas and Hezbollah, and no matter how anti-Israeli bloodlust is articulated in radical Islamic terms, the media will present such hostility as ironclad proof that Palestinians under Israel are so oppressed that they have no choice but to resort to terrorism.

However, if radical Muslims get a free pass when their violence is directed against those stronger than them, how does one rationalize away their violence when it is directed against those weaker than them—in this case, millions of indigenous Christians?

The media simply cannot portray radical Muslim persecution of Christians—which in essence and form amount to unprovoked pogroms—as a “land dispute” or a product of “grievance” (if anything, it is the ostracized and persecuted Christian minorities who should have grievances).  And because the media cannot articulate radical Islamic attacks on Christians through the “grievance” paradigm that works so well in explaining the Arab-Israeli conflict, their main recourse is not to report on them at all.

In short, Christian persecution is the clearest reflection of radical Islamic supremacism. Vastly outnumbered and politically marginalized Christians simply wish to worship in peace, and yet still are they hounded and attacked, their churches burned and destroyed, their women and children enslaved and raped. These Christians are often identical to their Muslim co-citizens, in race, ethnicity, national identity, culture, and language; there is no political dispute, no land dispute.

The only problem is that they are Christian and so, Islamists believe according to their scriptural exegesis, must be subjugated.

If mainstream media were to report honestly on Christian persecution at the hands of radical Islamists so many bedrocks of the leftist narrative currently dominating political discourse would crumble, first and foremost, the idea that radical Islamic intolerance is a product of “grievances,”and that Israel is responsible for all Jihadist terrorism against it.

by Raymond Ibrahim 

Mainstream Media Mum on Atrocities Against Christians

Silence

Can the press be complicit in crimes against humanity?  Or is it obstruction of justice?  How else to account for their failure to report the ongoing bloodshed and carnage inflicted upon Christians in the Middle East and North Africa?

Regardless of whether the mainstream media’s culpability is a sin of commission or omission – malevolence or malpractice – the result remains the same.  Christians are being massacred and the world is oblivious.

Earlier this month, a representative from the Vatican appeared on Capitol Hill before a House subcommittee to discuss the “flagrant and widespread persecution” of Christians in the Middle East. One of seven speakers, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, noting that this growing threat targets all those who practice Christianity, Arab or not, explained that Christian communities in Syria are being decimated and worshippers kidnapped, shot or beheaded if they refuse to convert to Islam.

Capture.-JPGAs January came to a close, a delegation of Christian leaders from Syria came to the United States to make their case about the plight of Christians in their country. Dr. Riad Jarjour, a Presbyterian clergyman, told a crowd at the Heritage Foundation, “If things continue the way [they are], there will come a time [when] there will be no more Christians in Syria.”

Echoing Dr. Jarjour’s fears was world-renowned authority on jihadist ideology and Islamic persecution of Christian minorities Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, Director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity.  Dr. Sookhdeo illustrated the point with an historical reference to the  1915 genocide of Christian minorities as their communities in Armenia and Syria were destroyed. At that time the West “stood by and watched.” As a witness to the current atrocities in Syria, Dr. Sookhdeo stood before the Heritage audience in supplication:  “We would plead for your media to break the silence.”

Ultimately the question is:  Why is the media silent about the horrors committed against Christians?

With all the turmoil engulfing the Middle East and surrounding areas, there is no shortage of reporters or news bureaus in that part of the world. Yet, the massacre of Christians doesn’t make the pages of the New York Times or warrant a spot on the NBC Nightly News.

On Tuesday, mainstream media outlets reported the massacre of 29 students in Nigeria by the Islamist group Boko Haram. However, these reports fail to mention this group’s history of attacking Christian churches and villages as well as their message of “convert or die” to Christian women.

Since August 2011, the not-for-profit international policy council and think tank Gatestone Institute has been providing a monthly report tracking the “persecution of Christians in the Islamic world.” They specifically state that one of their objectives for this ongoing series is “to document that which the mainstream media often seems to fail to report.”

It’s hard to argue that traditional news outlets are not consciously avoiding the story. In November, one of the world’s most media covered individuals, Pope Francis, addressed the atrocities being committed against Christians in the Middle East when he declared, after meeting patriarchs from Syria, Iraq and Iran, “We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians.”

Strong words from the head of the Catholic Church.  But newsworthy?  Apparently not!

Do the mainstream media simply disdain Christians? I doubt it. Are they afraid of offending Islam? A safe bet. The fact is that nobody can truly tell what is in another’s heart. But what we do know about the current journalism profession is that the mainstream media outlets have a soft spot for the Obama administration. If President Barack Obama doesn’t acknowledge a situation as a crisis, then it isn’t one.

And that may be the underlying problem.

President Obama has avoided using his office to acknowledge the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.

The family of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been held in Iran for over a year, was devastated to learn that the administration didn’t even attempt to secure his release when they entered into nuclear talks and eventual agreement this past November.

At the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, the president pontificated, “We believe that each of us is ‘wonderfully made’ in the image of God. We therefore believe in the inherent dignity of every human being — dignity that no earthly power can take away. And central to that dignity is freedom of religion…”

“Wonderful” words from the leader of the free world. Unfortunately Obama’s homiletics and Washington’s social events don’t have very much impact on beheadings in Syria and the burning of churches in Nigeria. A diligent press, on the other hand – a press that doesn’t cherry-pick the atrocities it chooses to report, a press that keeps governments accountable – can indeed save lives and safeguard the dignity consecrated by President Obama’s rhetoric.

Paul Miller is an op-ed contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. He serves as principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new media and political consulting firm. Follow Paul on Twitter @Pauliespoint.

Arutz Sheva 7

‘Largest Massacre of Christians in Syria’ Ignored

syria-persecuted

Syrian Christians massacred…media silent

Nov. 21, 2013 – One of the worst Christian massacres—complete with mass graves, tortured-to-death women and children, and destroyed churches—recently took place in Syria, at the hands of the U.S.-supported jihadi “rebels”; and the U.S. government and its “mainstream media” mouthpiece are, as usual, silent (that is, when not actively trying to minimize matters).

The massacre took place in Sadad, an ancient Syriac Orthodox Christian habitation, so old as to be mentioned in the Old Testament. Most of the region’s inhabitants are poor, as Sadad is situated in the remote desert between Homs and Damascus (desert regions, till now, apparently the only places Syria’s Christians could feel secure; 600 Christian families had earlier fled there for sanctuary from the jihad, only to be followed by it).

In late October, the U.S-supported “opposition” invaded and occupied Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the nation’s military. Among other atrocities, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; Sadat’s 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for “subhuman” Christians).

The jihadis even made a graphic video (with English subtitles) of those whom they massacred, while shouting Islam’s victory-cry, “Allahu Akbar” (which John McCain equates to a Christian saying “thank God”). Another video, made after Sadad was liberated shows more graphic atrocities.

Here are the words of Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama (another detailed account, with pictures, appears here):

What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half… 45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing. For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women…. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture… What happened in Sadad is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010.

In the Iraqi attack of 2010, al-Qaeda linked jihadis stormed the church during service killing some 60 Christian worshippers (see here for graphic images of the aftermath).

While the archbishop is correct that this is the “largest massacre of Christians in Syria,” it is but the tip of the iceberg of the persecution the nation’s Christian minority has suffered—including beheadings, church bombings, kidnappings, rapes, and dislocation of hundreds of thousands of Christians—since the war broke out (see Syria entries in monthly persecution series).

A month before Sadad, another ancient Christian region, Ma’loula, one of the world’s very few regions that still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus, was besieged by the jihadis, its churches bombarded and plundered, its inhabitants forced to convert to Islam or die. The last words of one man who refused were: “I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me for this, I do not object to it.”

The archbishop concluded his statement concerning Sadad by asking: “We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us.”

Serge Trifkovic—who hails from a European region especially acquainted with Islamic jihadresponds to the archbishop as follows:

That no “human consciousness” is to be found in the White House, or in the editorial offices of the leading Western media, is now a matter of well-established record. Just try searching for “Sadad” (or alternatively “Saddad”) on the websites of the Department of State or The New York Times. Ditto the leading European dailies, the CNN/BBC/RTF, the human-rights defending “NGOs” et al.

The problem, of which Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh appears unaware, is no longer in the Western elite’s mere indifference to the impending demise of Christianity in the lands of its birth, but in its active, ongoing, and open contribution to that demise. Cyprus (1974) and the Balkans (1991-9) provided the test, Iraq (2003-today) the conclusive proof. In Syria the Obama administration remains committed to supporting the rebels—ah, yes, only the “moderate” ones, like the Christian-murdering “Free Syrian Army” (discretion advised again), not “even though” the result will be the same, but precisely because it will be.

In one of the Arabic videos documenting the aftermath of the Sadad massacre, as the mutilated bodies of one family are drawn from a well (around :30 second mark), a middle-aged male relative, in tears, says:

The most precious in the whole universe [his family], are now gone, leaving me alone, but thank God I am still surrounded by these loving people who remain. I want to say, let people [the jihadis] return to their minds. The problems of the world can only be solved by knowledge and brains. Enough insanity, the nerves of the people are shredded. Enough, enough—return to your minds; you people, you humans—return to your humanity, enough crimes.

As a sign of the times, here is a Syrian, an “easterner,” evoking rationalism and humanity, products of the Christian West, at a time when the post-Christian West is governed by anything and everything—propaganda, emotionalism, mindless indoctrination—but the twain.

by Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, April, 2013) is a Middle East and Islam specialist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

11/21/2013   Middle East Forum

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