Yesterday’s al-Qaeda claim of responsibility for a kidnapping of two Austrian tourists in Tunisia was largely obscured by the ‘governor with the hooker’ story, but it reminded me of a little blurb in Italy’s Panorama which detailed recent Islamist oppression around the world.
Iraq: On the day Iraqi Christians celebrated Christmas Eve, seven holy sites were attacked. In Baghdad, terrorists hit the Chaldean Church of San Giorgio, a Greek Orthodox Church, and a convent of the nuns of Chaldea at Zaafraniya. In Mosul, the church of San Paulo was almost destroyed, and the entrance to an orphanage run by nuns of al-Noor was demolished.
An Iraqi Christian described how difficult it is for him to watch Muslim women pray in the spot where he used to worship before his Church of Mary in Baghdad was overrun by Muslims. Priests have been kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Iraq and an Orthodox Pope was beheaded in January of 2007.
Christians aren’t just under fire in Iraq. In the last few days Ashraf Ramaelah, the Italian representative of the Copt Christians who represent the largest religious minority in Egypt wrote a letter to the Egyptian ambassador denouncing the violence against the Christians along the Nile in 2007. Copt girls were raped and forced to convert to Islam. They were subjected to discrimination and arbitrary arrest; Christian shops were burned and looted in Isna, in Upper Egypt.
January 4, in Pakistan, 5 Christians were kidnapped in Waziristan by Taliban militia and subsequently released, but only after strong pressure. Rapes, accusations of blasphemy against Islam, forced conversions have all increased in number. And natives are increasingly hostile to mixed couples.
In India, Christians are considered outcasts and forced into humiliating work.
In soon to be independent Kosovo, Christians are exhuming their dead to prevent Muslims from desecrating their graves. Twelve tombs have been opened in Pec and three in Pristina. Coffins of Christians were transported into Christian Orthodox territory in Serbia. Gravesite vandalism isn’t new for them. When Milosevic was defeated, Muslims exacted revenge on the Serbs by burning more than 150 churches and monestaries.
Even in Turkey, an allegedly secular state, Christians are suffering from religious subjugation. Armenians, Syrians, Greeks and Catholics are species in extinction. Forty years ago in Istanbul, the ancient capitol of Christianity, there were 300,000 Christians. Today, only five thousand are left.
Meanwhile, we’ve got al-Jazeera and the rest of the Arab press along with the Western media giants pushing the notion that the most abused and exploited ethnic group are Muslims. I beg to differ. But until we’re willing to raise the difficult questions and depart from our endless practice of self-flagellation, the debate will continue to be waged by just one voice.
SIDE NOTE: Just as I was going to bed, I spotted this depressing bit of news courtesy of The Jerusalem Post:
A 19-year-old Israeli Arab woman has survived an attempted “honor killing” by her brother on Tuesday in the Arab village of Na’ura, near Afula, after two bullets fired at her head shattered on impact, failing to penetrate her skull. Paramedics said the girl survived by playing dead, leading her brother to stop shooting and kicking her.
The 24-year-old suspect was warmly praised by some members of his family for the attempted murder. He is in police custody.