Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

In the daily drumbeat of Mideast news, there is one story of historic proportion that is nearly unreported: the growing persecution and systematic destruction in the Islamic world of some of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

We hear when a Catholic bishop is murdered in Iraq, when machete-armed fanatics attack Egyptian Copt worshipers, or when churches are torched in Hamas-controlled Gaza. But what about the jailing in Saudi Arabia of foreign workers for holding forbidden Christian prayers? Or the arrest in Pakistan of a Christian man for marrying a Muslim woman? Or the continuing Islamic educational system that teaches the young that Christians (as well as Jews) are “the descendants of apes and pigs”?

The pattern is nearly the same wherever extremist Islam holds sway. From Bangladesh to Darfur, Christians have become regular targets for Islamic thugs and the governments that back them. Just this month, a Pakistani court upheld the kidnapping, conversion and “marriage” to older Moslem men of two Christian sisters, aged 10 and 13.

Yet even in lands that are not under orthodox Sharia law, Christian communities feel the pressure of persecution. In constitutionally secular Turkey, a legally recognized Protestant church in the capital of Ankara is under threat of closure by local Islamist police.

Many Christians in Islamic lands have become subject to such terror that they are fleeing the homelands their ancestors have known almost since the time of Jesus. Iraq’s Christian sects now feel forced to pray in secret. Others simply leave. Although they comprise less than four percent of Iraq’s population, Iraqi Christians now account for 40 per cent of its refugees.

Lebanon’s once politically powerful Christian community has already shrunken almost beyond recognition. Thirty years ago, Lebanon was 60% Christian; today it is barely 25%. The growing political power of Iran-backed Hezbollah is encouraging further departures.

Even in the Holy Land, where Jesus walked, there is an increasing Christian exodus from both the West Bank and Gaza. Part of it surely stems from the continuing Palestinian- Israeli conflict. But much of it results from a growing Islamic campaign to force Christians to sell their property and leave. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was once 90% Christian. Today it has a 65% Moslem majority.

The only place in the Mideast where Christian communities continue to grow is in the Jewish State of Israel. Israel’s tolerance is logical. What people of faith knows the dangers of religious persecution better than the people of Israel especially those whose families originated in the Islamic world? Between 1948 and 1956 more than 850,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab lands where their families had lived for centuries.

Most found new homes in Israel; others settled in Western Europe and the Americas. Today there are almost no Jews in the Arab world. In Egypt, where 180,000 Jews once lived, there are fewer than 80. In Iraq, where Jews once comprised a third of Baghdad, there are possibly ten left. In Libya, there are none.

For much of Islamic history there was relative tolerance of both Jews and Christians. Though never treated as equals to Moslems, they were accepted as Dhimmi protected minorities. Today there seems to be a dangerous tendency in many Muslim nations to neither respect nor try to preserve the historic sanctity of these once sheltered cultures and faiths.

When Afghan fanatics destroyed two ancient statues of Buddha, the world was shocked. But the world should not forgot that between 1948 and 1967, when Islamic forces controlled the Holy City of Jerusalem, there was a systematic campaign to erase the historic Jewish presence. Synagogues were destroyed and ancient Jewish gravestones carted away. Even today, the Palestinian Authority not only denies Israel’s right to consider itself a Jewish state, but denies the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem. It is an empty effort to enhance the Palestinian political narrative at the expense of others’ hard earned history.

If there is a hope of true peace in the Middle East, extremist Islam must reform its view of others. It cannot go on teaching that non-Islamic history in the Middle East is “fiction.”

There is a sacred opportunity now to take up the call for the Islamic world’s hard-pressed and ever shrinking Christian communities. All people of commitment and tolerance – Christian, Jew, and Moslem – should speak out loudly and forcefully so that the Islamic world’s Christians do not suffer the same fate as its now all but non-existent Jewish communities.

What do you think?

  • Donald
    September 29, 2013
    11:47 am

    Perhaps the root of this hatred for Gods’ people is that Christians are in fact Jews through the adoption into the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through faith in Jeshus Ha Meshiach.

    Reply to this comment »
  • LeAnns
    September 25, 2013
    11:00 pm

    It is also written that whomever blesses Israel will be blessed and whomever curses Israel will be cursed. We need to stand with Israel no matter what.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Bj
      October 16, 2013
      12:02 pm

      Israel is our future home!!all in God’s time will be realized as prophesied!! Look for moon and sun to full fill the promise.

      Reply to this comment »
    • tomas
      October 19, 2013
      9:25 pm

      I’ve got the feeling that the Jew’s only friends are the Christians,mostly evangelical. History have shown the every nation have dirty hands in dealing with dispersed Jews thru their state departments

      Reply to this comment »
  • linda
    September 20, 2013
    4:21 pm

    I know everyone talks about showing GOD’s love, but his definition is that you show his love by standing up and against evil wherever it is.

    Reply to this comment »
    • rose
      October 17, 2013
      2:15 pm

      they don’t know HOW to use common sense? that you are suppose to teach GODS LOVE along with GODS Wrath to come on His enemies and all that hate Him or you are not a teacher of the word

      Reply to this comment »
  • Carrie
    September 17, 2013
    1:31 pm

    G-d has told us what will be and he told us not to fear what is coming. G-d has all power and we must be faithful to HIM at all times, do not cease to pray to HIM and do not fear the enemy have JOY!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Gyanjit Satapathy
    September 17, 2013
    8:15 am

    With my own personel experience below is example.

    Muslims are becoming more dangerous because there parents will not educate their children instead they will throw out their male children to work and earn money at 5 age onwards.This will have definite impact on his behavior to become more violent against other communities to do whatever they desire for destruction.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Cristina
    August 8, 2013
    6:16 pm

    Matthew 5:44-46 -Love for Enemies

    “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?

    Reply to this comment »
  • Alicia
    August 2, 2013
    12:40 pm

    God is at work fulfilling His promise of the End Times and the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for the souls that will be left behind.Come Lord Jesus… Come. Amen-

    Reply to this comment »
    • rose
      October 17, 2013
      2:19 pm

      don’t be deceived nobody is going anywhere THAT’S not biblical! 6th trump Satan >AKA anti-christ 7th trump Christ… Christ would say haven’t you read it ?

      Reply to this comment »
  • Armando
    August 1, 2013
    8:44 pm

    Seems to me the end is near do not feed into the enemy’s decietfulness Love your enemies I know it is hard I am upset also but our God is the One True God and vengeance belongs to him.It is written.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Amber L
    July 30, 2013
    6:20 pm

    Where is the outrage? There is a new book called:Jesus zealot, by a MUSLIM, trashing Jesus. Why is no one boycotting the publishers, etc? A movie about false prophet Muhd sends em into killing sprees

    Reply to this comment »

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