For about a decade, we have heard that Christians fared better under Saddam Hussein than they ever have since his overthrow so we decided to put the question to a panel of experts.
“Well, their churches weren’t being bombed,” Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation said Friday in a panel discussion there on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Earlier in the forum, Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage, noted that the Christian population of Iraq has dropped from 1.5 million to 260,000 in recent years.
“The Yazedis I’ve talked to say it was worse under Saddam Hussein,” Nadine Maenza of Hardwired said at the Heritage event. Sponsored by the British government, Hardwired seeks to unite Christians and moderate Muslims in order to combat religious persecution. According to the Guardian, the Yazidis religion “is derived from Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian faith founded by a philosopher), Christianity and Islam.”
“The Baathists [Hussein’s political party] practiced secular apartheid,” Timothy Samuel Shah said at Heritage. Shah is an associate professor of the Practice of Religion and Global Politics at Georgetown.
Apartheid essentially means separation or segregation. As the title of the forum suggested, Christians throughout the Middle East are in peril. “There is widespread ignorance and apathy on this even among Christians,” Shah asserted.