Should we give aid to states riven by
human rights abuses?
Below is a liberal view of whether Western countries should give aid to states riven by human rights abuses. The writer seems to excuse the persecution of the Christians in the Muslim countries becuase of what the Crusaders did ten centuries ago. However he makes no mention of the fact that the Muslim Arabs and Turks who had invaded the Christian states perseucted the christians and Jews alike. Here is what happened in 1144 to the Christian city of Edessa, now a city in turkey called Urfa.
"As the Turks soldiers rushed in, the defending men women and even the monks of Edessa fought bravely to stop them but they were no match for the military force arrayed against them. The Turks entered the city and began massacring people indiscriminately. About six thousand people died that day. When women Children and young people led to the upper citadel to escape massacre they found the gate locked. Many were trampled to death at that location. p.135 (Amin Maalaouf , “the Crusades...” pp.134-135) For three days Zangi’s army ransacked the city thousands of helpless Edessans were slain. Some ten thousand boys and girls were taken into captivity. Many priests, deacons, and monks were killed. On the third day Zangi arrived and stopped the carnage.. While the the lives of the surviving As-syrians, Armenians and Malikites were spared the Franks were plundered of their gold and silver, their churches vessels, cups and bowls, crosses and jewels. and were killed. About a hundred men were tortured and slain." The same happened to the Christian city of Antioch, Christians of Baghdad and other christian towns and village. in Syria and Iraq. Christian of Iraq.com comment.
It is unconscionable to excuse what is happening today because of what happened 10 centuries ago when both the crusaders and the Muslim fighters acted savagely.
March 22, 2011
SCOTLAND'S most senior Catholic leader, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, is right to take the UK Government to task on its foreign policy. He has accused the government of pursuing an “anti-Christian” foreign policy by increasing its overseas aid to Pakistan without demanding guarantees of religious freedom. The government plans to double aid to Pakistan to more than £445million. Why? Because Pakistan is seen as an ally in the “war against terror”. In other words, it is a strategic, rather than a charitable, decision. Whether or not Pakistan is a reliable ally in the war against militant fundamentalist Islam is another matter.
But let's leave that aside and examine why Cardinal O'Brien has been so vocal on the matter. There is no doubt at all that the persecution of Christians in different parts of the world is on the increase. A report by Aid to the Church in Need, a Vatican-approved agency which keeps an eye on persecution, reveals what it calls a “huge surge” in Christians fleeing persecution worldwide. Around 75% of all religious persecution is apparently taking place against Christians. The report claims that some 100million Christians around the world face persecution. It says the Christian population in some countries is collapsing. In the past 25 years, the Christian population of Iraq has gone from an estimated 1.4million to as low as 150,000 now. The burning of Christian churches in Iraq and Pakistan is a cause for concern.
The number of assaults upon Christians is on the increase. This is happening for two reasons: The first is that some militant Moslems see the Christian religion as an enemy. The second is that the western world is viewed as a Christian empire which threatens Islam. Lying behind all this is a further conflict. The divisions within Islam between Sunni and Shi’ite are strong and sometimes bitter. One group can show that they are more zealous than the other by persecuting Christians. Tensions reached a new peak earlier this month, when the only Christian in the Pakistani government's Cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated. Mr Bhatti had dared to speak out against Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
Let's look first at what Cardinal O'Brien had to say, then put it into a wider context: “I urge Foreign Secretary William Hague to obtain guarantees from foreign governments before they are given aid,” he said. “To increase aid to the Pakistan government when religious freedom is not upheld and those who speak up for religious freedom are gunned down is tantamount to an anti-Christian foreign policy. “Pressure should now be put on the government of Pakistan – and the governments of the Arab world as well – to ensure that religious freedom is upheld. The provision of aid must require a commitment to human rights.” The cardinal said that conditions should be attached to any aid payments, requiring a definite commitment to protection for Christians and other religious minorities. Speaking about the growing persecution, Cardinal O'Brien went on: “This reality is both shocking and saddening.
In countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, Christians face violence, intolerance and even death because of their beliefs. This is intolerable and unacceptable. Here in Scotland, we value our freedoms, particularly the freedom of religion and the right to practise our faith free of persecution. Yet this detailed and at times harrowing report reminds us that not all of our fellow-Christians enjoy such freedom to worship. “I hope the evidence presented by Aid to the Church in Need will encourage us all to speak out for religious freedom at every opportunity and motivate us to support those who campaign for it.” The cardinal makes his case eloquently, and I think he should be supported.
There are complicating factors, though. The complications arise, as they often do in such situations, from history. This history stretches a long way back. The legacy of the Christian crusades, beginning in the 11th century and finishing in the 13th century, lingers on. The military campaigns against the Moslems of the Middle East were pretty brutal. Popes offered special dispensations to the warriors who went out to recapture the holy city of Jerusalem from the Moslem invaders. Jerusalem was holy to both Christians and Moslems. The actions of some of the Christian crusaders were something less than Christian, to put it mildly. The Churches have, in the past, been pretty good at the persecution business themselves. The Christian Inquisitions were not exactly instruments of tolerance. Not only that, the divisions between Protestant and Roman Catholic have been no less bloody than the divisions between Sunni and Shiite.
The horrendous wars of religion in Europe were major blots on the Christian copybook. In more recent times, the invasion of Iraq, promulgated by “Christian” leaders such as President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, did not do the Christian cause any good. President Bush even used the word “Crusade”, until his advisers took him aside and told him not to utter that word again. Christianity is compromised by its history. Whether he likes it or not, a cardinal of the Church carries the weight of an unfortunate past when he makes his pronouncements.
There is one problem with his rhetoric on this very sensitive issue. To charge the UK Government with having an “anti-Christian” foreign policy makes a good headline, but it also begs some questions. Should the government be promoting a “Christian” foreign policy? That is debatable, to say the least. The range of religious groups being persecuted is far wider than simply the Christian community. To give the cardinal his due, he does mention other religious minorities. But the “anti-Christian” charge narrows the focus too much. Injustice is injustice, whoever is on the receiving end, whether they be Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Shia Moslems, Moonies or pagans. The Christian Church needs to stand up very clearly for other minorities as well as Christians. I'm glad that Cardinal O'Brien has raised this issue publicly. The protection of basic human rights, whether Christian or not, should be a condition underlying any aid offered by the UK Government. Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/2187737/#ixzz1HOkyek79