Recent years have made it hard to consider extreme elements in the Muslim world as anything but dangerous, tyrannical, and extreme, but recent attacks across the Middle East have shed light on their newest victims – Christians.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, points out in her recent article, “The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World,”that attacks on Christians in the Middle East have increased and while they might be overlooked, they are not something to be taken lightly.
Consider Nigeria, a Muslim-majority country with the largest Christian minority (40 percent of its population). The country’s blasphemy laws, murders, bombings, and mutilations of holy sites are all things that Hirsi says make Christians, “live in fear.”
“For years, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria have lived on the edge of civil war,” said Hirsi. She explained that the Boko Haram, a group that means, “Western education is sacrilege,” wants to establish Sharia in Nigeria. Boko Haram was responsible for 54 deaths in the country in January 2012 alone. They killed 510 people in 2011.
In Sudan, Hirsi explains that the Christophobia can be considered a civil war. For years, the Muslims of the north have tormented the Christians in the south. In South Kordofan, Christians are often subject to killings and kidnappings.
This type of persecution has existed in Egypt too. Even with the odds stacked against them, the Coptic Christians of Cairo followed the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and marched in protest of the Islamic attacks. Egyptian security forces fired on protestors, killed 24 people, and wounded 300 others in the process.
Even in Indonesia, a country that is often described as the most tolerant and democratic Muslim nation, has not “been immune to the fevers of Christophobia,” Hirsi says.
According to a report in the Christian Post, the number of violent incidents committed against religious minorities has increased by nearly 40 percent (from 198 to 276) from 2010 to 2011.
Hirsi explained that the West needs to help religious minorities by, “using the billions of dollars in aid it gives to the offending countries as leverage.” She suggested, “Besides diplomatic pressure, these aid and trade relationships can and should be made conditional on the protection of freedom of conscience and worship for all citizens.”
“A wholly different kind of war is underway – an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives,” Hirsi explained. “It’s a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.”
She suggests that the Christian causalities in the Muslim world should force the Western world to take action. “Yes, Western governments should protect Muslim minorities from intolerance… But we also need to keep perspective about the scale and severity of intolerance,” Hirsi said. “Tolerance is for everyone – except the intolerant.”
Groups like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have been successful in making the media think that non-Muslim groups in Middle Eastern countries are “Islamaphobic.” Yet, as Hirsi points out, this is incomparable to the “Christophobia” that is on the rise.
“A fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamaphobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations,” Hirsi said. “Nothing less than the fate of Christianity – and ultimately of all religious minorities – in the Islamic world is at stake.”
Jocelyn Grecko is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Jocelyn has spent the past four years in the nation’s capital as a Media Studies undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America. She will graduate in May 2012.
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