Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By George Marlin

10/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For many months now there have been plenty of headlines devoted to the unrest in the Middle East, notably in Egypt and Syria. What has been missing, however, is any significant media coverage of the ongoing anti-Christian persecutions in those two countries. The world was just deliberating at the UN-silence. Where is the outrage?

Egyptian Christians pray for peace amid violence in their country.

Egyptian Christians pray for peace amid violence in their country.

Highlights

By George Marlin

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: persecution, Christians, Middle East, George Marlin


WASHINGTON,DC (Aid to the Church in Need) - The media seems indifferent or fearful of criticizing the criminal and terrorist activities of Muslim extremists-or journalists get the story plain wrong. Glaring case in point: a recent BBC report, covering the rebel attack on the ancient Syrian Christian village of Maaloula, claimed that "the fighting in Maaloula is the first such attack on a notable Christian community since the start of the uprising. Residents of many Christian villages around Homs and Hama have been fleeing the violence along with members of other communities, but had not up until now been attacked themselves."

Yet, young Christian girls are being raped and murdered, while Christian churches, monasteries, homes, and workplaces are being systematically destroyed. Syrian Catholic bishops have warned that their country is becoming a "second Iraq" owing to similar patterns of Church attacks and forced expulsion and kidnapping of Christians. During Saddam Hussein's reign of terror, Iraq's Christian population plummeted from 1.4 million to fewer than 300,000. Many of those Christian refugees settled in Syria, which was considered, at that time, a more tolerant country.

According to Church sources, the major industrial city of Homs, home to Syria's largest Christian population, has borne the brunt of violence. Attacks on Christian churches, schools, convents, as well as homes and businesses, have caused a mass exodus. It is estimated that 50,000 Christians, about 90 percent of the Christian population of Homs, have fled to the mountains or have sought refuge in Lebanon. Those left behind cannot find work and earn money to support their families. Food has been scarce and unaffordable. Before the start of the fighting in Syria, the Christian community accounted for some 10 percent of the Syrian population of 22 million.

Charitable organizations such as Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and others have been providing food and shelter for the Christian victims of Syria's civil war, both within Syria and in refugee camps in Lebanon.

One hundred miles south of Homs, in Damascus, Christians are suffering a similar fate. The Greek Catholic Archbishop there has reported that 40,000 Christians from the Syrian capital have fled or have been displaced. Church attendance has declined by 60 percent since 2011 and there were only 30 baptisms in 2012. More than 40 churches have been destroyed; priests and deacons have been murdered.

Sister Joseph-Marie Chanaa of the Sisters of Charity, who has been helping war-battered families, recently told representatives of Aid to the Church in Need that: "what is happening here is inhuman. Young people are abducted. Dead bodies are chopped up, the arms and legs are cut off and then cut into pieces." In April 2013, two Orthodox archbishops were kidnapped near the city of Aleppo. The prelates were returning from the Turkish border, having negotiated the release of two priests who had been taken as hostages. Their car was ambushed and the driver, a deacon, was murdered. The fate of the two Syrian archbishops has remained unknown to this day. There is no doubt that the lawlessness caused by the civil war in Syria has given radicals the opportunity to single out and to terrorize Christians.

Christians in Egypt are suffering a similar fate. Taking advantage of the chaos since President Mohamed Morsi was forced out of office and put under arrest, the Muslim Brotherhood has looted and destroyed more than 80 churches, scores of religious facilities, and untold numbers of Christian-run stores.

Many Christians have been abducted so extremists can extort ransom money. Complaints by Christians to the police about Islamist attacks and abuse have gone unheeded. To give the faithful some protection, the Coptic Patriarch wants to build walls around the cathedral in Alexandria and all ecclesiastical facilities in Korby El Korba.

Coptic-Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William Samaan of Assiut explained that "the [Muslim Brotherhood] thinks that the Christians were the cause of Morsi being ousted. But the Christians are not alone:  there were 35 million peope who took to the streets in protest against Morsi. But Christians are being punished. We have been scapegoated." Egyptian Christians make up 10 percent of the total population of 85 million.

Bishop Samaan, who expressed hope that a new constitution will guarantee "the equality of all Egyptians-Christian as well as Muslims-before the law," is saddened by what he has called the indifference of the Western governments: "[They] are speaking about human rights, [but] do not see the reality of what is going on here. A group of terrorists have used arms against us. Western governments should not be supporting this."

Many young Christians have mobilized to defend their churches. In 12-hour-shifts they are stationed outside their churches to prevent attacks. A Spanish Comboni missionary, Sister Expedita Perez who has helped organize some of these watch groups, said that "Christians want to stand their ground and defend themselves from the terrorists. [Young Christians] are surrounding the churches alongside their other brothers in faith, both Orthodox and Protestant. We are all united."

Sadly, their brothers and sisters in the West-their governments and major media remaining pretty much mum-are largely unaware that ancient Christian communities are being dismantled and destroyed.

There is one new development. The US Senate is due to vote on a bill that would create at the State Department a new special envoy whose mandate is to speak out on behalf of vulnerable religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia. The bill, introduced by Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), was passed by the US House of Representatives in a lob-sided vote, 402-22, Sept. 19.

But the State Department already commented that such a move would be "unnecessary, duplicative, and likely counterproductive." Two years ago the same bill was blocked from ever coming to a vote. The stakes are enormous, as Congressman Wolf made clear when, in making the case for the bill, he quoted German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died because of his opposition to the Nazi regime: "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

-----

Mr. Marlin is Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org


A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

ISIS destroys Christian graves as part of horrific religious purge Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS continuously commits heinous acts waging purge and terror against other religions, documented through photos and videos shared online. Recently, the terrorist group released a set of undated photos showing militants armed with sledgehammers destroying Christian ... continue reading


Muslim migrants arrested for throwing Christians off vessel, victims feared dead Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fifteen Muslim migrants from Sicily were arrested after being accused of throwing 12 Christians overboard as they cross from Libya to Italy last Wednesday. According to the Palermo police, they detained the suspected perpetrators, while the victims are feared to be ... continue reading


Israeli Prime Minister warns of second Holocaust in memorial speech Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During his speech at a Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem for a commemorative event, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Israel's current state with the operations of Washington to that of the time of Hitler. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


Israeli Jews remember Holocaust in remarkable way on 70th anniversary of Nazi death camp liberation (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People all across Israel came to a complete standstill for two-minutes to mark the Holocaust memorial day. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As sirens wailed across the country, the silence was echoing. Playgrounds, road traffic and beaches all came to a complete ... continue reading


Dead Sea dying as the River Jordan dries up Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Dead Sea, the famed Biblical body of water tread by prophets and kings, is increasingly endangered by enormous sinkholes. Coupled with the fact that the River Jordan is evaporation the Dead Sea could be literally - dying. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Muslim woman fights against odds to reform Muslim women's marginalization Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an attempt to clear misunderstanding after being branded as an ally of "Islamophobic speakers," Asra Normani was allowed to give a speech at the Duke University in North Carolina this Tuesday. The former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal said that her ... continue reading


'Mom! Dad! Jihadi John is going to slaughter me!' cartoon Obama cries before being beheaded in video Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a sick, crudely produced cartoon, U.S. President Barack Obama is shown being beheaded by masked figure identified as the infamous Islamist State executioner "Jihadi John." Obama is seen crying for his life before being beheaded by the cartoon figure. LOS ... continue reading


13-year-old Syrian girl gunned down by ISIS snipers while trying to flee terrorized refugee camp Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A teenage girl was shot and killed by the ISIS snipers last week, April 7. Identified as Zeynab Daghastani, the 13-year-old refugee tried to escape the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, which was held by the militants, to go to the ISIS-free nearby neighborhood, Yalda, ... continue reading


Nine-year-old girl impregnated after Islamic State gang rape Watch

Image of Around 40,000 people had been kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer. Hundreds have returned, either by fleeing or being set free by ISIS.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In one of its countless crimes against humanity, a nine-year-old Yazidi girl is pregnant, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. The girl, released after nearly a year as a prisoner kept as a "sex slaves." LOS ... continue reading


ISIS executes ten doctors for refusing treatment to wounded members Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS has brutally executed ten doctors for refusing to treat the wounded militants of the organization. Al-Sumaria satellite television network reported that the doctors were shot in the head due to the refusal, saying that they do not support the activities of the ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 7:51--8:1
51 'You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
3 You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, ... Read More

Gospel, John 6:30-35
30 So they said, 'What sign will you yourself do, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 21st, 2015 Image

St. Anselm
April 21: St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury and Confessor APRIL 21,A.D. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter