...In Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, and Tunisia there are virtually no indigenous Christian communities left, though some converts there carry out religious lives in the catacombs and expats quietly hold services. In Saudi Arabia, religious intolerance is official state policy.In other words, what we are seeing is Dhimmi Law in action.
Over half of Iraq’s one million Christians have fled since a coordinated bombing of their churches in August 2004 was followed by sustained violence against them. A Catholic Chaldean bishop raised the possibility last month that we may now be witnessing “the end of Christianity in Iraq.” Anglican Canon Andrew White, who leads a Baghdad ecumenical congregation, agrees: “All of my leadership were originally taken and killed — all dead,” he asserted in November.
Iraq’s Christian community, which dates from the Apostle Thomas, is not simply caught in the cross hairs of a sectarian civil war between Shiites and Sunnis. It is targeted for its non-Muslim faith — a reality U.S. policy fails to acknowledge. An extremist Sunni fatwa issued to Christians this year in a Baghdad neighborhood could not be clearer: “If you do not leave your home, your blood will be spilled. You and your family will be killed.'”
The Christian presence in Palestine may hold out no more than 15 years, according to Israeli human rights lawyer Justus Weiner, due to increasing Muslim persecution and maltreatment. Amidst a Muslim population of 1.4 million, some 3,000 Greek Orthodox live in the Hamas-run Gaza strip. An extreme Wahhabi-style group wearing seventh-century robes recently emerged, calling them “Crusaders” and vowing to drive them out. It has succeeded in killing several Christians in recent months, including a prominent member of the community, Rami Khader.
The West Bank is hardly better. “No one city in the Holy Land is more indicative of the great exodus of Christians than Bethlehem, which fell under full Palestinian control last decade as part of the Oslo Accords,” states Weiner. This town of 30,000 is now less than 20-percent Christian, after centuries in which Christians were the majority. In the West Bank’s only all-Christian town, now called Taybeh and once known by the Biblical name Ephraim, a Muslim mob from a neighboring village torched 14 houses last September to avenge the honor of a Muslim woman allegedly impregnated by her Christian employer.
Demographic decline isn’t perfectly correlated with religious repression. Lower birth rates, conversions, and some voluntary emigration also account for shrinking numbers of Christians. Israel’s barrier fence, erected relatively recently in its history in response to terrorist attacks, is a hardship and is commonly blamed for the Christian exodus from Palestine.
But when the decline is so dramatic, when only the Christian and other non-Muslim populations are dwindling and when this pattern holds in country after country, the facts on the ground deserve a closer look. There we see a region-wide, steady, grinding economic, legal, and social discrimination, and political disempowerment punctuated by horrific acts of terror by social forces that governments are unable or unwilling to control. The smaller a minority in the brutally sectarian world of the Middle East, the more vulnerable it is and the more rapid its decline. [emphasis added]
Read the whole thing, including the new religious survey Freedom in the World, produced by the Center for Religious Freedom, which found that:
while some Muslim governments do respect religious freedom, none are to be found in the Middle East. Israel is the only “free” country, and their Christian numbers are increasing.Crossposted at Soccer Dad
Technorati Tag: Islam and Christians.