December 2012 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Christianity at risk
of wipe-out in the Middle East, warns new Civitas study
is in serious danger of being wiped out in its biblical heartlands because of
Islamic oppression, according to a new report from a leading independent
Western politicians and media largely ignore the widespread persecution of
Christians in the Middle East and the wider world because they are afraid
they will be accused of racism.
fail to appreciate that in the defence of the wider concept of human
rights, religious freedom is the “canary in the mine”, according to the
refusal of young Christians in the West to become “radicalised” and mount
violent protests against the attacks on their faith also helps to explain
the “blind spot” about “Christianophobia” in influential liberal Western
report, Christianophobia, written by journalist Rupert Shortt and published
by Westminster think-tank Civitas, lays bare the scale of the vendetta
against Christians across the globe.
are more likely to be the target of discrimination or persecution that any
other religious group and they are particularly at risk in Muslim-dominated
societies. Oppression is magnified by anti-Americanism and the false belief
that Christianity is a “Western” creed, even though it originated in the
Middle East and has been an integral part of that region’s belief systems
for 2000 years.
Shortt quotes expert findings that between a
half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left or been
killed over the past century.
The pace of this assault is now intensifying with the rise
of militant Islam in countries such as Egypt, Iraq and now, with the civil
the world as a whole, some 200 million Christians (10 per cent of the
total) are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their
Mr Shortt writes: “Exposing and combating the problem ought
in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That
this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of
“The blind spot displayed by governments and other
influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity.
Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”
The report surveys in detail the extent of Christian
persecution in seven countries – Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Burma,
China and India. And it cites findings from the Freedom House think-tank
report to highlight the way that Muslim-majority countries are the most
hostile to Christians.
impose the greatest curbs on religious freedoms and make up 12 of the 20
countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance. Of
the seven states receiving the lowest possible score, four are Muslim.
Shortt traces the rise of Christianophobia in Egypt to the early 1970s when
the quadrupling of oil prices gave Saudi Arabian religious extremists the
material means to export their intolerant views around the world.
involving the deaths of scores of Christians in the 1970s were followed by
steady deterioration in the 1980s and 1990s when the death rate multiplied
into the hundreds in many separate attacks.
recently, in January 2010, 13 worshippers were killed when they came out of
St George’s Church in Nag Hammadi, near Luxor.
Shortt illustrates the mounting hostility to Christians by quoting the
Salafist website ‘Guardians of the Faith’, which published an article
saying “Being a Muslim girl whose role models are the wives of the Prophet,
who were required to wear the hijab, is better than being a Christian girl,
whose role models are whores.”
problem is compounded by the fact that “…many Egyptian Muslims think that
Copts are implicated in what they see as a Christian assault on the Muslim
world, because of George W. Bush’s use of the term ‘crusade’ after 9/11.
maintain that Bush’s ill-chosen words and mistaken policies have provided a
convenient excuse for aggression against minority groups which patently
have no connection with Western governments.”
has also witnessed the decimation of its Christian community amid frequent
bombings, shootings, beheadings and kidnappings, especially since the
invasion of 2003.
1990 there were between 1.2 to 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. By 2003,
there were only around half a million. Today there are less than 200,000.
are also under pressure in non-Muslim countries.
Shortt points out that more Christians are imprisoned in China than in any
other country in the world. It is estimated that almost 2000 members of
house churches were arrested during the 12 months after May 2004 alone.
is in a country where “public security officials have the right to imprison
people for up to three years without trial,” he points out.
Shortt asks whether the problem is with Islam itself or contingent factors?
is a theory that the idea of jihad is more deeply embedded in Islam than
related notions in the other world religions – and therefore that Islam is
more susceptible to violent extremism – because of the martial context in
which Islam took root.”
he does not exclude Christians from committing acts of violence against
other faiths, highlighting the activities in the 1970s and 1980s of
Lebanese Phalangist militias were dominated by Maronites in communion with
the see of Rome.
the 1990s, Orthodox Christians (and ex-Communists who used their religious
heritage as a flag of convenience) were guilty of extreme aggression
against Muslims and Catholics in the Balkans.
author concludes that it took Christian societies many centuries to evolve
a tradition of tolerance towards other faiths. He expresses the hope that
Islam might eventually reach the same destination.
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