Where have all the Christians gone?

Christians are being killed by radical Islamists because of their beliefs. Why then, while the world celebrates revolution in the Arab world, are we standing silently while these atrocities are taking place in these democratically-liberated lands?

coptic christian protest 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
coptic christian protest 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel has long been like the canary in the mineshaft. If the canary succumbs to the odorless, lethal gases of the depths below, the miners know it’s time to get out of the mine. Anti-Semitic militancy, like the canary in the mine, warns the rest of the world of what lies ahead. Now, however, there is strong evidence that there are two types of “canaries” in the mine. Long-suffering Christians in the Middle East are being ravaged by merciless assaults that threaten their very existence.
Liberal elitists in Western politics, academia, and the news media collectively swooned when the mobs in Cairo’s Tahrir Square swept Western ally, Hosni Mubarak, out of the Egyptian presidency and into a prison cell to await trial. In the minds of so-called progressives, the “Arab Spring” was precisely the balm of freedom for which the downtrodden had long been yearning. Democratic reforms were supposedly around the corner, swinging everyone into an era of prosperous camaraderie. That’s how delusional Western leaders saw things.
They were wrong again.
On October 9, 2011, Muslims attacked some 10,000 peaceful Coptic Christians who were protesting the burning of two of their churches. Some Christians were shot, while others were run down by the Egyptian army’s military vehicles or were beaten and dragged through the streets of Cairo.
Islamist jihadists, who have harassed and murdered Coptic Christians for years, are gaining strength in their support for an Islamic regime dominated by the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. Their oft-stated objective is to rid themselves of Israel first, then to drape the entire region in Arab green. The Copts, who in Egypt number approximately 8 million, have lived peaceful, productive lives among their Muslim neighbors for two millennia. Now, with radicals at the helm of the burgeoning Islamist/Sharia “utopia,” many are talking about fleeing their native land.
In Pursuit of Survival
A decade ago, 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq. Need we be reminded that American and coalition forces in 2003 delivered the country from the protracted agony of the butcher of Baghdad, Sadaam Hussein? Their intent was to facilitate a stable, democratic government. However, when it comes to the country’s Christians, the new Iraqi constitution comes up short. Compass Direct News reported that:
Iraq’s Federal Constitution says each individual has freedom of thought, conscience and belief, but there is no article on changing one’s religion. This makes it legally impossible to apply freedom of belief in the cases of converts, said a Christian Iraqi lawyer on the condition of anonymity.
Radical Muslims ratcheted up their attacks in October 2010, massacring 52 people worshiping in a Catholic church in Baghdad. The persecution of Christians in Iraq has led to a mass exodus. More than 1 million Christians lived there in 1991; today fewer than 350,000 remain.
Even children are targeted. A nine-year-old Iraqi boy was recently beaten and insulted because of his Christian faith. When he started first grade last year, his teacher beat him in front of the entire class, calling him an infidel.
His sister, in kindergarten, said her teacher told her she and her family would “burn” for being Christians. The parents “are weary and wonder if the children’s lives would be easier in a Western country where so many Christian converts have already fled.”
In a US State Department report, released last month, it was stated that there are no Christian churches or schools left in Afghanistan. The last church was destroyed in March 2010. “Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christians groups and individuals, including converts to Christianity,” said the report. “The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.” Consequently, most fear to communicate their faith or worship openly.
In 2001, Mideast expert Daniel Pipes wrote in the Middle East Quarterly, “At the present rate, the Middle East’s 12 million Christians will likely drop to 6 million in the year 2020. With time, Christians will effectively disappear from the region as a cultural and political force.” A decade later, evidence confirms the truth of his words.
Dismal Prospects
Still to be assessed is the possible imposition of fundamentalist, Islamist regimes in countries taken over by insurgents hostile to Christians and Jews. It is a fallacy to insist that these “Islamocracies” can be cajoled into becoming democracies. A Sharia-dominated constitutional system is diametrically opposed to and irreconcilable with a democratic government. So Christians and Jews in Islamic countries face two dismal fates: “dhimmitude” or death.
Being a “tolerated” dhimmi means living an existence of medieval-like subservience. Many Christians, however, die instead. As demonstrated in a host of Islamist-dominated societies today, Muslims see genocide as a viable way of eliminating Christians, who are viewed as an unacceptable, corrupting presence.
One report claimed that “105,000 people are killed every year because of their Christian faith.” This means that, every five minutes, one Christian is killed because of their beliefs. Furthermore, over the past 10 years, an average of 100,000 Christians have been slain for their faith annually. The vast majority are murdered by radical Islamists.
The Inevitable Question
Since the wholesale murder of Christians is indisputable, why the silence? Why do our leaders not chastise the countries where these atrocities are perpetrated? Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan are prime offenders. The United States endorsed the revolution in Egypt, even before clearly understanding who was behind it or what would be the end result. Now, with army vehicles running down Christians in the streets and rabid mobs killing at will, where are the opposition voices among those who are expected to keep Egypt financially afloat?
Iraq has benefited from Western money and military support, as well as from soldiers who shed their blood to breathe life back into the nation. Where then is the outrage when the Iraqis legislate offensive restraints on Christians and allow them to be mutilated and driven out of a country they inhabited centuries before the birth of Islam?
Add to this the insult of tolerating the destruction of the churches in Afghanistan until not one is left standing and Christians are forced to meet in secret. Yet, at the same time, young Christians from the other side of the world are taking the bullets to set these people free. It is incomprehensible.
In America, Muslims are protected, much more so than evangelical Christians. Protecting Muslim citizens is an honorable pursuit that raises America’s standards far above those in so many other parts of the world. Yet why are the same leaders who so passionately protect Muslim rights in America doing nothing for Christians who are dying in record numbers? Why do so many of our leaders hold their tongues as the world turns a blind eye?
And there is another question—one we must all ask ourselves: Why has the church been virtually silent about the suffering of our brethren? We will meet them one day. What will we answer when they ask us, “Why?”
The writer is executive editor for The Friends of Israel