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The Richard Drax column
12:00pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
WHILE the shameful use of chemical weapons and the flood of refugees in Syria dominate our headlines, one desperate situation is being ignored.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the number of Christians in the region, originally estimated at 11 million, has halved. Most Middle Eastern countries had significant Christian populations for 2,000 years – 10, 12, 16 and 30 per cent in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon, respectively. Now, Christians are fleeing persecution by fundamentalist Islam.
In lawless Iraq, Al Qaeda elements have torched Christian churches and murdered their congregations. Only 400,000 Christians remain, mainly the elderly and impoverished.
In Syria, the flood of jihadist fighters, backed by fundamentalist Arab nations, believe Christians tacitly supported Assad’s government. There have been atrocities, murders and forced conversions – much of it on YouTube.
Similarly, in Egypt, the Coptic Christians have been under siege by extremists since the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.
Thirty eight Christian churches have been torched, 23 more attacked and homes and businesses marked with an ‘X’ for future vandalism. Coptic Pope Patriarch Tawadros, who supported the Army coup against the Muslim Brotherhood, has gone into hiding.
It is ironic that the ‘Arab Spring’, celebrated by Western governments as a new dawn for democracy, has come to this. Apparently, fundamentalist Islam will no longer tolerate a situation allowed by the Muslim caliphs almost 1,700 years ago, when Christians were protected.
Meanwhile, our governments seem unwilling to condemn, or even to acknowledge, what’s happening.
If the Arab Spring is ever to mean anything, should we not be speaking up for our religious allies? Otherwise, Christianity will disappear from the place where it all began.
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