The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is accelerating and nobody is paying attention. The rise in Islamic militancy is a byproduct of the Arab Spring and Christian minorities throughout the Islamic world are facing threats that until now, were considered unimaginable.
The stories trickle in, of Christian communities ransacked, Christians lynched for some perceived insult or slight, and others arrested. Most are harassed into leaving ancient communities, abandoning successful businesses that have operated for generations. The entire scene is reminiscent of the first days of Nazi persecution against the Jews, boycotts, broken shop windows, overt threats.
The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity and the world’s oldest Christian communities remain there after nearly two thousand years. Yet, with Islamic militancy on the rise, many of those communities, which have coexisted with the Muslim majority for centuries, are under threat.
Laws are being passed that bar Christians from building churches and engaging in the political process, among other things. Segregation, reminiscent of the American deep south in the Jim Crow era, is appearing.
Riots also occur with frightening regularity. Often, they are sparked by absurd offenses, the display of a cross, or an illicit romance between a Christian man and a Muslim girl. Next, there is the shattering of shop windows, looting and burning. The original offense merely a pretext for wider violence.
These crimes are occurring all across the Arab world. Egypt has been the site of killings, and the ousted Muslim Brotherhood attempted to pass a constitution for that country that would have made Christians second-class citizens.
In Syria, Christian communities are ravaged by war, Christian clerics are under threat from al-Qaeda linked extremists, and the persecution had become so bad that many Christians have joined pro-Assad militias in an effort to protect their communities.
In Iran and Pakistan, Christians are facing execution by the government for expressing their faith. It is uncertain if a hangman’s noose will make martyrs of these steadfast Christians.
Many others are forced into Islamic conversion, faced with the alternative of harassment and possibly death.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, riots are common occurrences and avenues of Christian stores are systematically looted to the point that many are driven from business.
In the face of this, a great Christian diaspora from the Middle East has begun.
Estimates suggest that since 2004, well over a million Christians have fled persecution. Thousands have actually been murdered. The Christian faith is adding new martyrs daily, possibly at a rate more intense than that seen during the darkest days of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire.
Amid all this, western media is silent. Governments are lethargic. The U.S. and U.K., which oversaw the transition of Iraq from a dictatorship to a democracy, did nothing to ensure the protection of Christian minorities there. Now, Christians face persecution and death, and most have fled ancient communities.
The number of Christian churches in Iraq has plummeted from 300 before thin invasion to just 57.
Instead of concern for religious freedom across much of the world, and the end to Christian genocide and religious persecution, the world is much more obsessed with Russian laws against “homosexual displays” and the Olympics.
We would do well to note that Islam is spreading and Christians around the world are becoming encircled, by secularism on the left, and militant Islam on the right.