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- “I don’t believe in these two words [human rights], there are no human rights. But in Western countries, there are animal rights. In Australia they take care of frogs…. Look upon us as frogs, we’ll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mosul, National Catholic Register.
- “Those people are the same ones who came here many years ago. And we accepted them. We are the original people in this land. We accepted them, we opened the doors for them, and they push us to be minorities in our land, then refugees in our land. And this will be with you if you don’t wake up.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus.
- “Threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East. — Amin Maalouf, French-Lebanese author, Le Temps.
By Giulio Meotti (Gatestone Institute) Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the “choice” the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq’s third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word “Nasrani” (“Nazarene,” or “Christian”) . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.
Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in “cleansing” the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had “Christmas celebrations without Christians“.
This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing “Islamophobic” than defending their own brothers, sadly worked. Father Ragheed Ganni, for instance, a Catholic priest from Mosul, had just finished celebrating mass in his church when Islamists killed him. In one of his last letters, Ganni wrote: “We are on the verge of collapse”. That was in 2007 — almost ten years before ISIS eradicated the Christians of Mosul. “Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?” the Washington Post asked. Definitely.
Traces of a lost Jewish past have also resurfaced in Mosul, where a Jewish community had also lived for thousands of years. Now, 2,000 years later, both Judaism and Christianity have effectively been annihilated there. That life is over. The newspaper La Vie collected the testimony of a Christian, Yousef (the name has been changed), who fled in the night of August 6, 2014, just before ISIS arrived. “It was a real exodus”, Yousef said.
“The road was black with people, I did not see either the beginning or the end of this procession. There were children were crying, families dragging small suitcases. Old men were on the shoulders of their sons. People were thirsty, it was very hot. We have lost all that we have built for life and nobody fought for us”.
Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever”, wrote two American scholars in Foreign Policy.
“We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria”.
In Mosul alone, 45 churches were vandalized or destroyed. Not a single one was spared. Today there is only one church open in the city. ISIS apparently also wanted to destroy Christian history there. They targeted the monastery of Saints Behnam and Sarah, founded in the fourth century. The monastery had survived the seventh century Islamic conquest and subsequent invasions, but in 2017, crosses were destroyed, cells were looted, and statues of the Virgin Mary were beheaded. The Iraqi priest, Najeeb Michaeel, who saved 850 manuscripts from the Islamic State, was ordained last January as the new Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul….continue reading this article here
In this video, Michael, a Sudanese Christian, shares his encounter with Jesus and tells how he’s been called to preach the Gospel in the Middle East despite the risk of strong persecution.
I’ve seen many miracles – Christian Testimony of Michael (South Sudan) – 2/7
Supernatural joy in the midst of persecution – Christian Testimony of Michael (South Sudan) – 3/7
Loving others according to Jesus – Christian Testimony of Michael (South Sudan) – 4/7
God’s promises never failed – Christian Testimony of Michael (South Sudan) – 5/7
Who is Jesus for me – Christian Testimony of Michael (South Sudan) – 6/7
Should you believe in God? – Christian Testimony of Michael (South Sudan) – 7/7
We pray you were blessed and encouraged by hearing our brother, Michael’s testimony. Please share it widely for others to hear. Thank you to CHRISTIANS OF THE WORLD, a Christian Testimony channel, for sharing Michael’s story. Visit their YouTube channel and be inspired by testimonies of faith in Jesus Christ. We also ask that you will pray for their ministries to expand and bring glory to God.
ANCA-Sponsored Conference on Christians in the Middle East Prioritizes Justice for the Armenian Genocide
Hundreds of Christian leaders, international religious-freedom advocates, and human rights defenders held over 400 Congressional meetings calling on legislators to reject Turkey’s Armenian Genocide gag rule and draw on the lessons of that crime in preventing renewed atrocities against Christians and other at-risk religious minorities across the Middle East.
The advocates were gathered for In Defense of Christians (IDC) 2017 Summit, “American Leadership and Securing the Future of Christians in the Middle East,” cosponsored by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), The Philos Project, and The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD).
The meetings, which included Christian clergy from many denominations and supporters of diverse nationalities and creeds, focused on the summit’s five-pronged advocacy agenda, including support of H.Res.220, a bipartisan measure seeks to apply the lessons of the Armenian Genocide in preventing new atrocities across the Middle East, as well as efforts to advance security and stability in Lebanon; emergency relief for victims of genocide in Iraq and Syria; allies and accountability in the Middle East; and legal punishment for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other perpetrators of genocide.
Images from the meetings are available on the ANCA Facebook page.
Prior to the Congressional visitations, a dozen members of Congress joined with advocates to share their personal commitment to support the safety and security of the Middle East’s historic Christian communities, and cited the importance of grassroots mobilization to advance those concerns. Among U.S. Representatives offering remarks were Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Ron Estes (R-Kans.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), and Randy Weber (R-Tex.). Read More
(World Watch Monitor) The UN must urgently put in place measures to hold to account jihadists who have committed atrocities against minorities in Iraq and Syria, because existing conventions have become “obsolete”, the author of a book documenting recent violence against them has said.
Vienna-based legal counsel Ewelina Ochab, who authored ‘Never again: Legal responses to a broken promise in the Middle East’, accused the UN of breaking the pledges it made in the aftermath of World War II to prevent genocide from recurring.
Speaking at the book’s launch at the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva on 24 November, she argued that the conventions on genocide prevention had become “obsolete” because measures had not been taken to bring to justice members of the Islamic State (IS), whose attacks on Christians and other religious minorities amounted to “genocide”.
Ochab said the legal process against IS members could be carried out in one of three ways: by trying suspected perpetrators at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, by trying them at an “ad hoc” International Criminal Court set up specifically to deal with atrocities in Iraq and Syria, or by setting up a UN-backed court in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East. In the first two scenarios, she said national courts in Iraq and Syria should support the ICC’s work to prosecute all accomplices.
To introduce her work, Ochab held up a piece of a cross that she picked up in a destroyed church in the formerly IS-held town of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq, as well as a few pages of a Bible. Ochab’s book draws on testimonies collected by the Vienna-based charity ADF International. Never Again includes eyewitness accounts of IS atrocities, the international community’s response to recent genocides, and analysis of existing genocide legislation. She argues that the current legal safeguards have failed to protect vulnerable communities from ethnic, cultural, and religious destruction.
According to the last census before the US-led invasion of 2003, there were as many as 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. Ochab noted that today there are thought to be fewer than 250,000. Many factors are behind the exodus of Christians from Iraq, which the chaotic aftermath of the invasion accelerated. The rise of IS in 2014 drove many of the country’s remaining Christians to abandon their homeland. Those who remained, along with [Yazidis], who were not given the option to flee, have told of atrocities and soldiers liberating IS-held towns and villages around Mosul have found many churches burnt out and badly vandalised.
A spokesman for the charity said: “We published this book to demonstrate clearly that the Christians of the Middle East are living through a genocide and so that the UN Security Council recognises that and fights the impunity of Daesh [IS] members.”
Citing the executions and crucifixions to which Christians and other religious minorities were subjected during the two years in which Daesh controlled territory in Iraq, spokesman Andreas Thonhauser said: “The impunity of Daesh must stop.”
Only the United States, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and Britain’s House of Commons have recognised the atrocities by IS against Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq such as Yezidis as genocide. Canada has recognised a genocide of Yezidis.
IS militants are known to come from Europe, Russia, Central Asia, China and North America, as well as North Africa and the Middle East. Some campaigners have called for them to be prosecuted by the countries in which they have citizenship.
Ochab said the jihadist violence seen in Iraq and Syria forms part of a larger push by Islamic extremists “to eliminate the Christian presence from the Middle East”.
After the Second World War, haunted by the atrocities committed by the Nazis, the international community vowed to never again allow such barbarity. However, Ochab argued that the atrocities experienced by peoples of the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda demonstrated that the promise was fragile. She said in such circumstances that it was necessary to “leave the silence” and “denounce what turns out to be genocide”.
“The U.N.’s next secretary-general, António Guterres, says that persecuted Christians shouldn’t be resettled in the West.”
“the Obama administration’s expanded refugee program for Syria depends on refugee referrals from the UNHCR. Yet Syria’s genocide survivors have been consistently underrepresented.”
By Nina Shea (WSJ) — Six months ago, Secretary of State John Kerry officially designated Islamic State as “responsible for genocide” against Christians, Yazidis and other vulnerable groups in areas under ISIS control in Syria and Iraq. So why has the Obama administration entrusted the survival of these people—and so much valuable American aid—to a troubled office at the United Nations, which, like its parent organization, has never even acknowledged that the genocide exists?
The State Department says it is helping religious minorities who have fled, along with millions of other displaced Syrians and Iraqis, primarily through the U.N. America has sent over half of $5.6 billion in humanitarian aid earmarked for Syrians since 2012 to the U.N.
Yet the U.N.’s lead agency for aiding refugees, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), marginalizes Christians and others targeted by ISIS for eradication in two critical programs: refugee housing in the region and Syrian refugee-resettlement abroad. Voice of the Persecuted recommends that you continue reading here. Afterward, please contact your elected officials asking them to quickly bring to a vote the bipartisan H.R.5961 – Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2016, introduced Sept. 8 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Please share this story and encourage many to action and PRAYER.
We’ve seen rising discrimination against Christian refugees and asylum seekers in UNHCR offices, even outside of the Middle East. Please keep them in your prayers and ACT, today. Be their VOICE!
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Note: The following is a book review of The Last Supper: The Plight of Christians in Arab Lands, by Klaus Wivel. A shorter version of the review first appeared in the Middle East Quarterly (Fall, 2016, vol. 23, no. 4).
Danish journalist Klaus Wivel is to be commended for shedding light on an important but ignored topic, the plight of present-day, Arabic-speaking Christians. His firsthand discussions with an assortment of Christians offer helpful insights. Among these are the cultural differences between Copts, Greek Orthodox Palestinians, and Maronites, who are often conflated as “Mideast Christians.” His discussions with an Egyptian teacher and Iraqi politician are especially useful: Public schools in their countries have removed Christianity from history texts so that indigenous Christians are now seen as foreigners.
The book, however, ultimately fails to deliver. Its ambitious subtitle—“The plight of Christians in Arab Lands”—is misleading. Of the twenty-two Arab states, the book covers only Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and the West Bank-Gaza. It does not mention the chronic persecution of Christians in Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan, Arab nations where, according to a 2016 study, Christians fare far worse than the places the author visited. Lebanon—which takes up one quarter of Klaus’ account—doesn’t even receive a ranking.
In addition, the work is outdated; originally published in Danish in 2013, the genocide against Christians under ISIS receives no mention.
Finally, Wivel’s ubiquitous use of first person makes the book read more like a travel memoir. While detailed descriptions of atmospheric meetings in restaurants are well and good in some books, they come off as superfluous at best in a book on this critical topic. The following, overly dramatic account of the author’s experiences following a meeting is standard:
We say our goodbyes and walk outside; the rain in Beirut is even heavier now. As he strolls off, he uses his umbrella as a cane again. I walk down Sidani Street, past a hyperrealistic painting on the gable of a building; it depicts a bald person with full lips and an intense, friendly expression. It’s impossible to tell whether it’s a man or woman, black or white.
Such space could’ve been better utilized.
Those looking for useful and current information about “The Plight of Christians in Arab Lands” need look elsewhere.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and
Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow, David Horowitz Freedom Center; a CBN News contributor; a Media Fellow, Hoover Institution (2013); and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum . Ibrahim’s dual-background — born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East — has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.