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Who will defend Mideast Christians?

Joseph Bottum

Weekly Standard
Feb 8, 2011

Who will defend Mideast Christians? February 7th, 2011 by Joseph Bottum Perhaps the situation in Egypt will resolve itself peacefully. Or perhaps we’ll see a long stretch of public unrest before the nation finally stumbles its way into a new form of stable government. But there’s one easy prediction to make: Whatever happens, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are going to be hurt, unless the United States makes a major diplomatic effort to help them.

About 10% of the Egyptian population (and declining, down more than half over the past century ), these people have suffered discrimination under 30 years of rule by the now-embattled president, Hosni Mubarak. And they’ve seen that discrimination ratcheted up into open persecution during the current unrest, which began with a car bomb in Alexandria killing 21 at a Coptic church on Jan. 1 and continued through the massacre of 11 Christians in the village of Sharona on Jan. 30. So why should they expect improvement from a new government? Particularly one in which the radical Muslim Brotherhood is certain to play a major role?

The Copts are under the screw, and somehow, every time modern Egyptian history makes a turn, it ends up biting down harder on the nation’s religious minorities. Of course, Egypt’s Christians are hardly alone in their suffering. Here’s a headline from 2010: “Catholic Bishop Stabbed to Death in Turkey.” And here’s another: “Islamist hard-liners in Indonesia target Christians.” And another: “Iraqi Christians mourn after church siege kills 58.”

The Christmas season saw 48 killed in Muslim attacks in Nigeria.On Christmas Day, Iran opened its campaign against conversions by arresting dozens of evangelicals. Bombs left on the doorsteps of Christian homes in Iraq killed two and injured 14 on Dec. 30. On and on the list goes. The single most dangerous thing in the world to be, right now, is a Christian in a Muslim country. It wasn’t always so. Relations among religious groups were never easy, but in the long years after the spread of Islam in the eighth century, large pockets of Christians — Copts and Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Syriac [Assyrians] — managed to survive.

Intolerance festers The 20th century was less kind. The genocide of a million Armenian Christians [and 750,000 Assyrians] by the Turks from 1895 through 1918 signaled the beginning of an era in which Muslim-majority nations would prove increasingly incapable of tolerating non-Muslim minorities. The 21st century looks much the same. For a decade now, Western nations have done little to help. Up to 1.4 million of Iraq’s Christians have fled since the war began in 2003, and without some kind of aid, there will be no native Christian population — none, not a single practicing Christian community — left in the Islamic countries of the Middle East by 2050. Not that the news is all bad. The voting in Sudan last month overwhelmingly favored secession by the oppressed populations in the oil-rich south.

Assuming all goes as planned, the Christian-majority nation of Southern Sudan will be created this July. More African than Arab, Southern Sudan might not provide much assistance to minorities in the Middle East. But its existence teaches the lesson that commitment from the United States actually works. In the 1980s and 1990s, a broad political coalition forced the Bush and Clinton administrations to treat Sudan as a rogue state for its oppression of minorities. The 2011 independence of Southern Sudan is a fruit of that effort — proof that, though it might take decades, international pressure can succeed. Unfortunately, in the years since, America foreign policy has been little concerned with religious persecution.

George W. Bush, for example, refused to insist on a non-Islamic constitution for Iraq. And Barack Obama has systematically watered down U.S. diplomacy: Where we once demanded “freedom of religion,” a public liberty, we now speak only of “freedom of worship,” a lesser and private right. A willful blindness This American abdication has produced only more oppression — and it’s accelerating at a horrifying rate. Nearly every day since Christmas, Christians have been murderously attacked for the simple fact of being Christians. Our willful blindness is shameful, and our inactivity is wrong.

The United States must preface every diplomatic exchange with an Islamic country by demanding religious liberty and a halt to persecution. And we need to do it now — while there are still a few Christians left to defend in their ancient homelands. Joseph Bottum is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.


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February = Eshvat

Who will defend Mideast Christians? Feb. 8, 2011

Christians of Iraq are in danger Feb. 2, 2011

Failing Christians is damaging EU credibility, says Italy Frattini Feb. 1, 2011

January = Kanoon II

Church to build hospital and university in Iraq
Jan, 31, 2011

“Syria Opens the Gateway to Humanity for the Assyrian Medical Society, the Mission Continues.”
Jan, 28, 2011

Assyrians Without Borders Announces Scholarship Awards Program Jan, 28, 2011

Hearing in Washington about attacks against christians of Iraq and Egypt Jan. 27, 2011

Babylonian cuneiform tablets document Syria’s history Jan. 26, 2011

As the left sides with Muslims, Christians search for support Jan. 24, 2011

Congress to Press Obama on Religious Persecution
Jan. 21, 2011

Abrogation in Islam and The Persecution
of Christians

Jan. 21, 2011

Last Christians Ponder Leaving a Hometown in Iraq Jan. 20, 2011

Assyrian Youth Black March Movement Conference in Detroit Jan. 19, 2011

Who Are the Real Hijackers of Islam? Jan. 10, 2011

Why Christians and Jews are Being Massacred in the Middle East Jan. 10, 2011

Restricted Freedoms in the Iraqi Christian Green Zone
Jan. 8, 2011

France asks for coordinated European Union response to threats against Christians in Middle East Jan. 5. 2011

Violent attacks against Christians could return in Egypt
Jan. 4. 2011

Egyptian Security Guards Withdrew One Hour Before Church Blast Jan. 2. 2011

We may be witnessing a new age of Christian persecution
Jan. 2. 2011

December = Kanoon I

Christians consider their future after more attacks in Iraq
Dec. 31. 2010

Ancient Tel Aviv Fortress has an Assyrian Origion Dec. 30. 2010

Rare Assyrian artifacts on display in Istanbul Dec. 30. 2010

Ancient Tablets Reveal Mathematical Achievements of Ancient Babylonian Culture Dec. 28. 2010

Christmas and New Year's Greetings 2010

Bipartisan Effort Pressures Obama to Help Iraq's Christians
Dec. 26, 2010

Around "1,100" Christian families have fled to to Kurdish north Dec. 21, 2010

U.N. cites 'a slow but steady exodus' of Iraqi Christians
Dec. 18, 2010

Genocide Film Stirs Emotions Dec, 18, 2010

Assyrians in Iraq face a stark choice: convert, die or leave Dec, 17, 2010

Iraqi Christians Want Their Own Province Dec, 17, 2010

The persecution of Christians in the ‘Muslim world’
Dec, 15, 2010

Is Obama serious about human rights? Dec, 15, 2010

Iraq’s war on Christians Dec, 15, 2010

Appeal for Iraq's Imperiled Religious Communities
Dec, 14, 2010

More Christians Flee Iraq After New Violence Dec, 12, 2010

Assyrians in Iraq's Mosul Living Under Constant Fear
Dec. 11, 2010

Iraq Assyrians Mark 40 Days Since Church Carnage Dec. 10, 2010

Christmas 2005 in Iran (Photos Included) Dec. 6, 2010

Demand For a Province in Kurdistan for Christians Dec. 6, 2010

Assyrian MP Calls on Iraqi Government to Safeguard Churches, Open Investigation Dec. 6, 2010

The Voice of Iraq’s Forgotten Minority crying for help
Dec. 6, 2010

Iraq: Gunmen kill elderly Christian couple inside their Baghdad home Dec. 5, 2010

Assyrian Group Briefs EU Parliament Delegation On Iraq
Dec. 3, 2010

Iraq: Deadly Reminders of Unfinished Business 
Dec. 3, 2010

Protecting Our Christian Neighbours in Iraq Dec. 3, 2010

Catholic Bishops Back House Resolution to Protect Iraq's Christians Dec. 1, 2010

November = Tishreen II

Egypt Security forces use live ammunition and kill unarmed Christian Coptic Protesters Nov. 30, 2010

Western Economic Aid to Muslim Nations Who Hate Non-Muslims Nov. 29, 2010

Formation of Committee to assist Iraqi Christians and other Minorities Nov. 29, 2010


The Baghdad Assyrian Church Massacre: Waiting for Godot! Nov. 27, 2010

Christians in the Middle East essential for the survival of the Arab world Nov. 27, 2010

Australian Conference Calls Attention to Assyrian Genocide in Iraq Nov. 22, 2010

Homes of Christians set on Fire in Egypt Nov. 17, 201

Group will not celebrate Muslim Holiday in solidarity with the victims of the Church Massacre Nov. 17, 201o

Thousands Protest Attacks Against Iraqi Christians Nov. 12, 2010

Memorial Service Held in London for Baghdad Church Massacre Victims Nov. 12, 2010

Fear of jihad driving Christians from Iraq Nov. 10, 2010

Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan Nov. 10, 2010

Assyrians Demonstrate Around the World Against Baghdad Church Massacre Nov. 10, 2010

Iraq’s Christians: The Final Push to Drive them Out?
Nov. 10, 2010

3 bombs explode outside Christian homes in Baghdad
Nov. 10, 2010

How an Iraqi Christian school became 82 percent Muslim
Iraq Nov. 10, 2010

Recent attack on church sheds light on Assyrians' plight
Iraq Nov. 9, 2010

Global Demonstrations against the Persecution of Christians of Iraq Nov. 9, 2010

Two Christians killed in Baghdad a week after massacre
Massacre Nov. 8, 2010

Worldwide Assyrian Demonstrations against Baghdad's Church Massacre Nov. 7, 2010

Al-Qaida is turning its focus on Iraq's vulnerable Christians
Nov. 7, 2010

Christians and Muslims issue joint statement condemning Iraqi church attack Nov. 6, 2010

Christian Massacre Spurs Assyrian-American Rally Nov. 6, 2010

Christians ‘on verge of extinction’ in Iraq, Muslim leader warns
Nov. 5, 2010

UNSC to discuss the security situation in Iraq Tuesday
Nov. 5, 2010

Islamic chauvinism drives Christians out Nov. 5, 2010

bloody, ruthless attack on landmark church in Iraq Nov. 3, 2010

Videos of the Attack on the Assyrian church on October 31-2010

Assyrians Should Be Granted Indigenous Group Status and Rights in Iraq Nov. 3, 2010

Operation Iraqi freedom and Christians in Iraq Nov. 1, 2010

Protest and demonstration in Ankawa against the murder of Christian worshipers in Baghdad Nov. 2, 2010

CNN update; include video- Death toll rises to 58 in Iraq church
Nov. 1. 2010

Death Toll Rises to 58 in Iraq Church Standoff Nov. 1. 2010

Baghdad attack a new low in Christian onslaught in Iraq
Nov. 1. 2010

Pictures of surviving Christians ater the killing in Iraq Nov. 1. 2010

Deadly Baghdad church siege highlights threat to Iraqi Christians
Nov. 1. 2010

Priests among 46 Christians killed in Iraq
Nov. 1. 2010 8:00 AM

Priests among 37 Christians killed in Iraq hostage drama
Nov. 1. 2010 1:00 AM

Iraqi worshipers, troops killed in church takeover
Nov. 1. 2010

October = Tishreen I

My Take on Tearing down the walls 30, 2010

swedishimmigration-policyon-iraqirefugees October 29, 2010

Ancient Winemaking Makes Resurgence in Southeast Turkey
October 29, 2010

Arabs and Turcomans Speak out Against Kurdish Demands in Kirkuk October 17, 2010

The Cost Of Moslem Intolerance October 6, 2010

2,700-year-old royal loyalty oath discovered in Turkey 15 October 2010

Muslim scholars address synod, say Middle East needs Christians Oct. 16, 2010

Christian Hymns of the church of the East in Assyrian aramaic by Reverend Genard Lazar
aug. 26, 2010

Eilul = September

The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia August 26, 2010

Assyrian Politician Attacked in Sweden Future 0f Democracy in the West 26, 2010

Vatican should prevent the exodus of Christians from the Middle East 26, 2010

Assyrian speech at the International Genocide Conference In Greece. Sept. 24, 2010

Egyptian Coptic Church Accused of Stockpiling Weapons
Sept. 22, 2010

Priceless Assyrian historic site Used as Kurdish resort Sept. 22, 2010

Poverty and unemployment among northern Christians sept. 21, 2010

Imam Khamenei: US and Zionism, Not Christianity, Responsible for Anti-Islamism Sep. 17, 2010

Iraq's top Shiite cleric urges tolerance towards Christians
Sep. 10, 2010

Assyrian Representative in the Iranian Parliament condemned the burning of the Koran in the U.S. Sep. 16, 2010

Christian Community of Iraq Halved in Seven Years 16, 2010

Why People worldwide lose Respect for Islam 16, 2010

The Assyrian Genocide and the Turkish Ambassador sept. 13, 2010

Dubakh = August

Religious Freedom and a Mosque August 30, 2010

Kidnapped Assyrian killed in Iraq despite ransom paid August 27, 2010

Why did the Golden Age of Islam come to an end? August 23, 2010

Iraqi asylum seekers struggle to survive in Sweden August 14, 2010

Monument in memory of massacred Assyrians is ready to be unvailed in Australia August 4, 2010

Speaking the language of Jesus August 3, 2010

U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq Does Not End Humanitarian Obligation

August 1. 2010

Tammuz = July

Baghdad Bishop Dies After Lifetime of Serving the Church July 28, 2010

Islam needs more tolerance, not more mosques July 27, 2010