The war on Christians in Moslem countries

Ethel C. Fenig
If you attend a place of worship this weekend, or even if you don't, you just don't think about it.  Freedom to believe, or even not to believe, is so protected by our Constitution, so integrated into our culture that luckily we don't, for the most part, even think about it.  But as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, documents  in an op-ed in the NY Daily News that,  except for Israel, the same freedoms do not exist in the Middle East. 

An Islamic court in Shiraz, Iran , has just convicted two men of being infidels. Their crime? Converting to Christianity. The possible sentence? Death. Not too far away in Saudi Arabia,

 an outraged father recently hacked his own daughter to death for the same "abomination."

In the daily drumbeat of Mideast news, there is one story of historic proportion that goes nearly unreported: the persecution and systematic destruction in the Islamic world of some of the world's oldest Christian communities. (snip)

The pattern is nearly the same wherever extremist Islam holds sway. From Bangladesh to Darfur, Christians have become regular targets for Islamic thugs and the governments that back them. Just this month, a Pakistani court upheld the kidnapping, conversion and "marriage" to older Muslim men of two Christian sisters, aged 10 and 13.

And even where Islam does not dominate, as

In constitutionally secular Turkey, a legally recognized Protestant church in the capital of Ankara is under threat of closure by local police.

As a result

Many Christians in Islamic lands have become subject to such terror that they are fleeing the homelands their ancestors have known almost since the time of Jesus. Iraq's Christian sects now feel forced to pray in secret. Others simply leave. Although they comprise less than 4% of Iraq's population, Iraqi Christians now account for 40% of its refugees.

The sad story is the same in other Islamic majority countries; in Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan and Gaza, Christians, Buddhists, Bahais, Jews and other religious minorities are running for their lives as religious persecution continues, often leaving everything behind.  Their religious and sacred institutions are either destroyed or converted into Moslem institutions. 

Can this religious terror be stopped?  Maybe.  It hinges, Eckstein recommends, on

...extremist Islam reforming its view of others. People of commitment and tolerance all around the world - Christians, Jews, Muslims and others - must speak out loudly and forcefully to prevent the Islamic world's Christians from suffering the same fate as its now all-but-nonexistent Jewish communities.

But can "extremist Islam reform its view of others"? Will "people of commitment and tolerance all around the world...speak out loudly and forcefully to prevent the Islamic world's Christians from suffering...?  

Hmmm.  Every Christmas the Church of England's Archbishop travels to Bethlehem, where the once majority Christians have joined the exodus, leaving an Islamic dominated town, and blames (why, of course) Israel and the Jews.  Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians and others echo him.  And in the meantime Christians and others continue to suffer in Moslem countries.
If you attend a place of worship this weekend, or even if you don't, you just don't think about it.  Freedom to believe, or even not to believe, is so protected by our Constitution, so integrated into our culture that luckily we don't, for the most part, even think about it.  But as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, documents  in an op-ed in the NY Daily News that,  except for Israel, the same freedoms do not exist in the Middle East. 

An Islamic court in Shiraz, Iran , has just convicted two men of being infidels. Their crime? Converting to Christianity. The possible sentence? Death. Not too far away in Saudi Arabia,

 an outraged father recently hacked his own daughter to death for the same "abomination."

In the daily drumbeat of Mideast news, there is one story of historic proportion that goes nearly unreported: the persecution and systematic destruction in the Islamic world of some of the world's oldest Christian communities. (snip)

The pattern is nearly the same wherever extremist Islam holds sway. From Bangladesh to Darfur, Christians have become regular targets for Islamic thugs and the governments that back them. Just this month, a Pakistani court upheld the kidnapping, conversion and "marriage" to older Muslim men of two Christian sisters, aged 10 and 13.

And even where Islam does not dominate, as

In constitutionally secular Turkey, a legally recognized Protestant church in the capital of Ankara is under threat of closure by local police.

As a result

Many Christians in Islamic lands have become subject to such terror that they are fleeing the homelands their ancestors have known almost since the time of Jesus. Iraq's Christian sects now feel forced to pray in secret. Others simply leave. Although they comprise less than 4% of Iraq's population, Iraqi Christians now account for 40% of its refugees.

The sad story is the same in other Islamic majority countries; in Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan and Gaza, Christians, Buddhists, Bahais, Jews and other religious minorities are running for their lives as religious persecution continues, often leaving everything behind.  Their religious and sacred institutions are either destroyed or converted into Moslem institutions. 

Can this religious terror be stopped?  Maybe.  It hinges, Eckstein recommends, on

...extremist Islam reforming its view of others. People of commitment and tolerance all around the world - Christians, Jews, Muslims and others - must speak out loudly and forcefully to prevent the Islamic world's Christians from suffering the same fate as its now all-but-nonexistent Jewish communities.

But can "extremist Islam reform its view of others"? Will "people of commitment and tolerance all around the world...speak out loudly and forcefully to prevent the Islamic world's Christians from suffering...?  

Hmmm.  Every Christmas the Church of England's Archbishop travels to Bethlehem, where the once majority Christians have joined the exodus, leaving an Islamic dominated town, and blames (why, of course) Israel and the Jews.  Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians and others echo him.  And in the meantime Christians and others continue to suffer in Moslem countries.