Obama regime is waging a proxy war against Mideast Christians

by 1389 on July 4, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), Boko Haram, Islamic terrorism, Libya, Orthodox Christianity, pogroms, Roman Catholic Church, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. State Department

Obama’s Proxy War on Mideast Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim
PJ Media
June 27, 2013

With the recent decision to arm the opposition fighting Syrian President Assad, the United States has effectively declared a proxy war on Syria’s indigenous Christians—a proxy war that was earlier waged on Christians in other Mideast nations, resulting in the abuse, death, and/or mass exodus of Christians.

Ironically (if not absurdly) this proxy war on Christians is being presented to the American people as a war to safeguard the “human rights” and “freedoms” of the Syrian people. Left unsaid by the Obama administration is the egregiously inhuman behavior these jihadis visit upon moderate Syrians in general Christians in particular, from bombed churches to kidnapped (and often beheaded) Christians. Days ago they massacred an entire Christian village.

Nor can one argue that the Obama administration is unaware that Christian persecution is an ironclad aspect of empowering jihadis. Both past precedents and current events repeatedly demonstrate this.

In Libya, the administration armed/supported the “freedom fighters” fighting Gaddafi, even though it was common knowledge that many of them were connected to al-Qaeda. Again, the rationale was “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings,” as Obama declared in April 2011, and how not assisting them “would have been a betrayal of who we are.”

Soon after their empowerment, some of our U.S.-supported “fellow human beings” decided to rub America’s face in it by attacking the U.S. consulate—on the anniversary of September 11, no less—resulting in the murders and possible rape of American diplomats, even as Obama tried to attribute the attack to American freedom of speech (a la a YouTube flick).

Lesser known, however, is that Libya’s small Christian minority is also being targeted. Among other things, the very few churches there are under attack and bombed; nuns that have been serving the sick and needy since 1921 have been harassed and forced to flee; foreign Christians possessing Bibles have been arrested and tortured (one recently died from his torture).

In Egypt, Obama and Hillary joined the bandwagon to eject Hosni Mubarak, America’s most stable and secular ally for thirty years. Then the administration cozied up to the Muslim Brotherhood—an Islamist organization that until recently was banned in Egypt and which no U.S. president would have been involved with. Among other “achievements,” the Brotherhood produced Sayyid Qutb, who is idolized by al-Qaeda as the chief theoretician of modern jihad and issued a 1980 fatwa calling on the destruction of Coptic churches in Egypt.

As expected, since the Brotherhood came to power, the persecution of Copts has practically been legalized, as unprecedented numbers of Christians—men, women, and children—have been arrested, often receiving more than double the maximum prison sentence, under the accusation that they “blasphemed” Islam and/or its prophet. It was also under Brotherhood rule that another unprecedented scandal occurred: the St. Mark Cathedral—holiest site of Coptic Christianity and home of the pope himself—was besieged in broad daylight by Islamic rioters. When security came, they too joined in the attack on the cathedral. And the targeting of Christian children—for abduction, ransom, rape, and/or forced conversion—has also reached unprecedented levels under Morsi.

And now as millions of Egyptians prepare to protest Muslim Brotherhood rule on June 30, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson has asked the Coptic Pope to dissuade the Copts from joining in the protests—proving yet again that administration is more concerned about the wellbeing of the Brotherhood than the “human rights” of those they most abuse, Christian minorities.

Outside the Mideast, where Muslims are often not majorities, the administration wages its proxy war on Christians in other ways. For example, in Nigeria, where more Christians have been slaughtered and churches bombed by Boko Haram jihadis than all throughout the world combined, after the Nigerian government went on a serious offensive to neutralize Boko Haram, John Kerry warned it not to violate the “human rights” of the jihadis—the same jihadis daily abusing the human rights of Christians, often in most inhuman ways.

The meaning of Boko Haram’s name—”Western education is a sin”—is also a reminder that those Muslims who attack Christians naturally also hate the West, seeing the two as one and the same, all infidels. In other words, wherever the U.S. has empowered anti-Christian Islamists, it has also empowered anti-American forces. Put differently, Muslim persecution of Christians is the litmus test of how “radical” an Islamic society has become. Thus, in all those Mideast nations that the Obama administration has interfered—Egypt, Libya, and now Syria—the increase of Christian persecution in those countries is a reflection of the empowerment of forces hostile to the U.S. and Western civilization.

At this point, some may well raise that old question: is Obama a secret Muslim doing all he can to empower Islam? In fact, this is an irrelevant question. For even if he was, what more could he possibly do than he is doing right now—under the gaze of a somnambulant America?

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

As for the larger conflict, the Christians are caught in the middle. The churches have not allied with the Assad regime. They have no armed protector, inside or outside the country, and they have no militias of their own. But they are not simply suffering collateral damage. They are being deliberately targeted in a religious purification campaign – one that the United States government finds convenient to overlook as it supports Syria’s rebels and praises Saudi Arabia as one of our “closest partners.”

NRO: The Shadow War Against Syria’s Christians

By Nina Shea
July 1, 2013 4:20 PM

On June 23, Catholic Syrian priest Fr. François Murad was murdered in Idlib by rebel militias.  How he was killed is not yet known and his superiors “vigorously deny” that he was a victim of beheading, as some news sources are claiming.  It is apparent, however, that he was a victim of the shadow war against Christians that is being fought by jihadists alongside the larger Syrian conflict.  This is a religious cleansing that has been all but ignored by our policymakers, as they strengthen support for the rebellion.

Affiliated with the Franciscan order that was given custody of the Holy Land sites by Pope Clement VI in 1342, the 49-year-old priest was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Rosary where he had taken refuge after his monastery was bombed at the outset of the conflict, and where he had been giving support to the few remaining nuns, according to Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land. The Vatican news agency Fides reports that “The circumstances of the death are not fully understood,” but, according to local sources, Fr. Murad’s building was attacked by the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Fr. Pizzaballa denies that any Franciscans were beheaded last week, as was claimed by several sources. He was quoted in the Italian press, commenting about the video, “it seems like various old news stories have been mixed up.”  The video was “uploaded by al-Qaeda to terrorise Christians,” according to Andrea Avveduto, a writer who works with the Custody of the Holy Land. “The corpse of Murad was intact. The friars in the region exclude [sic] that the priest was one of the people beheaded in the footage.”  Avveduto also writes that “The friars are apparently alive and are currently in the Franciscan monastery of Latakia, where they arrived a few days ago, to bury the body of their brother, Fr. Murad.”

As I testified to Congress last week at a hearing on Syria’s minorities chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.): “Though no religious community has been spared egregious suffering, Syria’s ancient Christian minority has cause to believe that it confronts an ‘existential threat.’”

In fact, this was a finding last December of  the U.N. Human Right Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria. As in Iraq, Syria’s two-million-strong Christian community, the largest next to Egypt’s Copts in the entire region, is being devastated. Targeted by jihadist militias, they are steadily fleeing Syria, and whether they will be able to return to their ancient homeland is doubtful.

Archbishop Jeanbart of Aleppo’s Melkite Greek Catholic Church explained:

Christians are terrified by the Islamist militias and fear that in the event of their victory they would no longer be able to practice their religion and that they would be forced to leave the country. As soon as they reached the city [of Aleppo], Islamist guerrillas, almost all of them from abroad, took over the mosques. Every Friday, an imam launches their messages of hate, calling on the population to kill anyone who does not practice the religion of the Prophet Muhammad. They use the courts to level charges of blasphemy. Who is contrary to their way of thinking pays with his life.

Fr. Murad was only the most recent cleric to be targeted by these militias. The highest profile attack was the kidnapping by gunmen in April of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. This sent an unmistakable signal to all Christians: none is protected.

Some other examples of Syrian Christians, from various faith traditions, who have been kidnapped and killed or never seen again include:.

27-year-old Father Michael Kayal of the Armenian Catholic Church in Aleppo was abducted in February while riding a bus after Islamists spotted his clerical garb. He has not been seen since.

Greek Orthodox priest Maher Mahfouz was kidnapped around the same time and has not reappeared.

Syrian Orthodox parish priest Father Fadi Haddad was kidnapped last December after he left his church in the town of Qatana to negotiate the release of one of his kidnapped parishioners. A week later, Fr. Haddad’s mutilated corpse was found by the roadside, with his eyes gouged out.

Yohannes A. (whose last name has been redacted by Fides protect his family) was summarily executed.  An Islamist gunman stopped the bus to Aleppo and checked the background of each passenger. When the gunman noticed Yohannes’ last name was Armenian, they singled him out for a search. After finding a cross around his neck, one of the terrorists shot point blank at the cross, tearing open the man’s chest.

A woman from Hassake recounted in December to Swedish journalist Nuri Kino how her husband and son were shot in the head by Islamists. “Our only crime is being Christians,” she answers, when asked if there had been a dispute.

18-year-old Gabriel fled with his family from Hassake after his father was shot for having a crucifix hanging from his car’s rear-view mirror. The son told Kino: “After the funeral, the threats against our family and other Christians increased. The terrorists called us and said that it was time to disappear; we had that choice, or we would be killed.”

Christians and others also have been targeted by the courts of the “Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant,” the name the al-Nusra Brigade and other Islamist rebels use in reference to the Syrian territory under their control.

Muslims are subject to kidnapping too, but the Wall Street Journal reported on June 11, 2013 that often “their outcome is different” because they have armed defenders, whereas the Christians do not.  The Journal told the story of a 25-year-old cabdriver, Hafez al-Mohammed, who said he was kidnapped and tortured for seven hours by Sunni rebels in al-Waer in late May.  He was released after Alawites threatened to retaliate by kidnapping Sunni women.

According to the U.S. State Department, Syria now has scores of rebel militias with new ones popping up all the time.  Many are extremist. Sources told AsiaNews, “[T]he purpose of these groups is not only the liberation of Syria from Assad, but also the spread by force of radical Islam throughout the Middle East and the conquest of Jerusalem.” According to interviews with local church leaders, many fighters do not speak Arabic and do not come from Syria, and are recruited by being told that they are going to “liberate Jerusalem.”

These extremists have wasted no time in establishing sharia courts. In the towns of al-Bab and Idlib and other villages under the control of Islamist groups, sharia has been enforced for the past year. These courts, according to a Washington Post report,  pass sentences “daily and indiscriminately” against Christians and anyone else who fails to conform to Wahhabi Islam. All women are required to cover up with the abaya, a black, full-length gown. It was in Aleppo that al-Nusra executed a 14-year-old Muslim boy last month for insulting the prophet; they shot him in the mouth and the neck.

Syrian Christian refugees told Dutch blogger Martin Janssen that their village of 30 Christian families had a firsthand taste of the rebels’ new sharia courts. One of Janssen’s accounts was translated by renowned Australian linguist, writer, and Anglican priest, the Rev. Mark Durie:

Jamil [an elderly man] lived in a village near Idlib where 30 Christian families had always lived peacefully alongside some 200 Sunni families. That changed dramatically in the summer of 2012. One Friday trucks appeared in the village with heavily armed and bearded strangers who did not know anyone in the village. They began to drive through the village with a loud speaker broadcasting the message that their village was now part of an Islamic emirate and Muslim women were henceforth to dress in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Shariah. Christians were given four choices. They could convert to Islam and renounce their ‘idolatry.’ If they refused they were allowed to remain on condition that they pay the jizya. This is a special tax that non-Muslims under Islamic law must pay for ‘protection.’ For Christians who refused there remained two choices: they could leave behind all their property or they would be slain. The word that was used for the latter in Arabic (dhabaha) refers to the ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals.

As for the larger conflict, the Christians are caught in the middle.  The churches have not allied with the Assad regime.  They have no armed protector, inside or outside the country, and they have no militias of their own. But they are not simply suffering collateral damage.  They are being deliberately targeted in a religious purification campaign – one that the United States government finds convenient to overlook as it supports Syria’s rebels and praises Saudi Arabia as one of our “closest partners.”

 – Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.

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