As the world marks 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda, it serves as another startling example of the staggering failure of the world community to prevent genocide. In 1948, the United Nations passed the, “Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” Yet one of the longest genocides, taking place long before 1948, continues to be perpetrated today. This slaughter is gaining in momentum and brutality, and the world barely raises a murmur to prevent it. I am speaking of the ongoing genocide of Christians in the Middle East.
In the Modern Era, since the Ottoman Empires systematic campaign of murder against Armenian and Syriac Christians, the followers of Christ in the Middle East have lived a precarious existence. They’ve had their identity and cultural heritage destroyed, as they were forced to absorbed into each of the Islamic empires that swept through the Middle East. Such as the case of Aramain Christians, who through the program of cultural assimilation of minorities under their new rulers, became Arab Christians. Then, as now, reports of the massacres of Christians by the Ottoman Empire emerged in many newspapers in the Western world. One of the many articles highlighting the situation was a 1915 Headline in The San Antonio Light, Which read, ”Assyrians Massacred in Urmia.” Then, as now, the world did nothing.
The last few years have seen this genocide reach new heights in its brutality and a quickening in its pace. With the unrest in Syria, uncertainty in Egypt, and the general intolerant situation in much of the Arab and Muslim world, this catastrophe, our political leaders rushed to declare the “Arab spring”. Yet it has been devastating for the minorities in the Middle East. Now, this situation raises a number of interesting issues. While radical Islamists are butchering Christians for sport, each day grisly images of Christian corpses, young and old, male and female, emerge from the Arab world.
Rape is being used as a tool to reinforce the Dhimmi status of the Christians at the hands of Islamist extremists, and the Western world does nothing. The Vatican offers little support to Christian brethren. The Muslim world, where these atrocities are taking place by our co-religionists who have a moral responsibility to speak up, is silent. Yet, both the Muslim world, and in many instances, the Churches, are the first ones to demonize the only place where Christians are not being butchered in the Middle East– Israel.
Many dismiss as propaganda the fact that Israel is a safe haven for minorities in the Middle East. Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a week on a speaking tour of campuses in California with Christians United For Israel (CUFI). I shared my experiences of Israel alongside Father Gabriel Nadaf and Shadi Khaloul of the Christian IDF recruitment forum, and Holocaust survivor Irving Roth. Father Nadaf and Shadi are both Israeli Christians. Their organization seeks to encourage integration of Israeli Christians into Israeli society and enlistment in the IDF. Why?
They explained that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are not being butchered, hounded and raped. Israel is the only nation in the region where Christians are not living in fear of the lives, and this is something they must fight to defend. As they both powerfully exclaimed to rooms full of students, ‘We thank God that we live in Israel, and we would not exchange it for any Arab country. This is why we must fight to defend it.’
Many Christians are held hostage in countries hostile to Israel and are aware, that for them, to assert any sort of affinity towards the Jewish state could be fatal. Indeed, within the Palestinian territories, from the grotesque signs erected near the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which declares the supremacy of Islam over all other faiths, to the attacks on Christian holy sites under Hamas rule in Gaza, Christian persecution at the hands of Islamist radicals has reached new heights!
As the Christians of the Middle East sit on the precipice of extinction, the world looks silently on. Christians in the Middle East feel many of their brethren have abandoned them. While St. James Church in London was able to spend £30,000 erecting a wall during Christmas for an Israel hate fest named, ‘Bethlehem unwrapped’, there are no equally grand gestures to alleviate the suffering of Christians in Syria. For many who read this, they will only see that I speak in support of Israel.
If you choose to demonize Israel and spread Israel hatred, go ahead. If that is what you choose. If you however, actually care about human life, surely you must speak out against this genocide of Christians. You may question why I, a Muslim who supports Israel, feel it appropriate to make such an appeal. My reasons are simple. I care about human life. I speak out because this genocide has continued by the hands of Muslims, radical or not, for too long and no one from my community is speaking out!
Can we really remain silent? Can we really just talk about how much we care about human rights when I see no Students for Justice of Middle Eastern Christians beside Student for Justice in Palestine on our college campuses? Where are all those so called human rights activists who don their keffiyahs to defend Palestine? Where are Human rights watch and the UN? Do the Human rights of Christians not matter anymore? We all have a responsibility, before it is too late, hundreds of years of this injustice and oppression have continued, and now the Jihadists look to finish the job. We must all speak out against these grave injustices and make Western governments listen, because tomorrow may be too late!
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are” Benjamin Franklin