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The Last Christian in the Middle East

Analysis

The increasing speed with which the Christians of the Middle East are fleeing would suggest that... it is entirely possible that the next time the Pope celebrates Mass in Bethlehem, he will be the last Christian in the Middle East.

The fact, like it or not, is that under the rule of the Jews in Israel, the Christian and Muslim communities live in complete security and have absolute freedom of worship. Churches are not burned. Mosques are not burned.

In some places, such as Myanmar, Muslims are indeed being grievously victimized (by Buddhists), and these abuses should not be tolerated.

The joyous Christmas mass celebrated in Bethlehem did nothing to dispel the tragedy of the Christian community in the Middle East, which, in the shadow of the "Arab Winter", is fighting a desperate battle for personal and economic security, a life of dignity and freedom of worship.

Facing increasing Muslim persecution, the Christians in the Middle East are emigrating as fast as they can, reminiscent of the mid-20th century exodus of the Jews from the Arab countries, when they fled persecution, murder, rape and the theft of their property at the hands of gangs of militant Muslims.

Qatar's official TV station, Al Jazeera, which encourages Islamist terrorist attacks against Israel, against the Syrian regime and against the Egyptian government, this year decided that holiday cheer required false accusations against Israel for persecuting the Christians in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem. Despite the general confusion, chaos and mournful atmosphere of Christmas this year in the "Arab Spring" countries, Qatar TV's plan did not succeed. The reason it did not is that, as Arabs, we can see that Israel is the only place on earth that allows the three main monotheistic faiths complete and unfettered freedom of worship.

Al Andba Mousa Church Minya Egypt

The Al-Anba Mousa Church in Minya, Egypt, after being torched by Islamists. (Image source: Screenhot of Human Rights Watch video)

Recently, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, a British Muslim lobby, announced that "Islamophobia Awareness Month" would be held to combat the growing hatred for Muslim communities in the West. The leaders of the Islamic community in London turned to the media to report that the increasing hatred of Muslims in Europe is unjustified, simply the fruit of a conspiracy backed by "Zionist interests." The campaign includes posters and displays representing Islam as moderate, pluralistic and overflowing with the milk of human kindness, and its leaders as the standard bearers of global inter-religious and interracial coexistence.

In some places, such as Myanmar, Muslims are indeed being grievously victimized (by Buddhists), and these abuses should not be tolerated. And, while most Muslims undoubtedly just wish to be left to live in peace, there seems to be a widening supply, globally, of those who do not. The West has every reason to be afraid: Islamophobia is not a phobia -- an irrational fear -- at all.

Many of the most ardent Islamophobes, are, it would appear, Muslims themselves -- those who would like to speak or write freely, without fear; or not be tortured or hanged for sexual preferences among adults that harm no one else; or like to have a say in when and whom they marry; or leave home without permission of a male guardian, or even drive a car; or who do not wish to be beaten by one's husband, or accused of adultery when raped or submit to female genital mutilation; the list could go on.

The West should be afraid: the leaders of radical Islam seem to be intent on expanding their ideology throughout Europe and beyond, cynically exploiting the freedoms of Western democracy to incite the Islamic communities in Europe against Western values, and constructing and enabling terrorist cells. After two World Trade Center bombings in 1993 and 2001; the London tube bombing in 2005; the Madrid railway station bombing; Chechen attacks in Russia, including the Beslan school and two recent Islamic suicide bombings in Russia; attacks on synagogues in Argentina and Venezuela; the recent massacres of Egypt's Christian Copts, who predated the Muslims there by centuries -- not to mention repeated attacks on the U.S. from 1973 in Lebanon onwards, and including the attack on the Khobar Towers, Kenya and Tanzania, the U.S.S. Cole; repeated aircraft hijackings from the Munich Olympics of 1972 to the TWA takeover; the shoe bomber; the underwear bomber, the Times Square car bomber, the attempted LAX bombing in 1999; the Fort Hood, Texas, murders by the self-described "Soldier of Allah," U.S. Army Major Malik Nidal Hasan; the bombings in Buenos Aires; a bus bombing in 2011 in Bulgaria; the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi; the murder in the Netherlands of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh and the concurrent threats to Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali; the attempted murders of the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and the journalist Lars Hedegaard; the Cartoon riots of 2006, the kidnapping, torturing and murder of Ilan Halimi and the Toulouse shootings in France; the Boston Marathon bombings; the murder in Britain of Drummer Lee Rigby, plus countless episodes of death threats, intimidation, coercion, attempted murders, and malicious lawsuits in both Europe and Canada -- none of which even includes attacks on Israel; Christians in Africa, such as Nigeria and the Sudan, or the Sunni-Shiite wars in which Muslims continue to slaughter each other virtually every week [Iran-Iraq war; Syria; Pakistan; Iraq] -- if you add in the open declarations of Islamic sheikhs of their intention to take over the world and force the "infidels" convert -- what is puzzling is why "Islamophobia" is even being discussed. It would seem there is a lot to be "phobic" about.

If it were only a problem of rhetoric, of boasts and militant Islamic emotionalism, the West could sleep in peace, but it is a problem of the active involvement of high-ranking Islamic community leaders inciting their followers against their Western hosts, with personal involvement in organizing and leading terrorist activities and training jihad fighters for future attacks on institutions and individuals in the West. It was not a matter of chance that the American Edward Snowden leaked the information that the West monitored the Islamic enclaves in European cities and was consequently preparing for the worst possible scenario.

Without a doubt Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist-jihadi organizations have done untold damage to the West, as well as to Muslims like me, who do not want bloodshed and Islamic terrorism, and do not identify with their objectives. Under such circumstances, it is hard to improve the image of the Islamic community, where so many of its members are a party to anti-Western incitement and terrorism.

Spokesmen for the Islamic community are apparently unwilling to grapple with the situation. They do not take responsibility for their own actions and blame everyone except themselves, and especially the Jews. They claim that hatred of Islam began when Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses. They minimize or deny the importance, and even the existence, of the mass-casualty Islamic terrorist attacks planned and carried out from within the main Islamic communities in the cities of Europe, such as the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. and the many terrorist attacks carried out against civilian populations around the world since that time.

At the beginning of November 2013, representatives of Christians in the Middle East met in Beirut to discuss the persecution and murder of Christians by gangs of radical Islamic militant thugs in the so-called "Arab Spring" countries. Their final statements were empty, pathetic and fairly hopeless. They agreed that Christians were persecuted and murdered; their women raped; their property stolen and their churches burned by Muslim Brotherhood operatives. And they agreed that arsonists repeatedly burned the Coptic Virgin Mary Church in Egypt and the authorities repeatedly did nothing to keep it from happening.

But while the interim government in Egypt did outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization -- accusing its operatives of repeated acts of arson against Coptic churches and sites in Egypt, and premeditated attacks on the Coptic community -- the trend towards eradicating the Christian presence in the region continues unabated, and thus the unprecedented, massive emigration of Christians from the Middle East comes as no surprise. Similar Islamist attacks are being carried out against Christians not only in Egypt, but also in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Nigeria, the Sudan, and more subtly in Iran, where an American, Pastor Saeed Abedini, remains housed in a "violent offenders" prison.

The ethnic cleansing of the Christians in the Middle East perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood is rooted in the Islamist concept that Christianity and Judaism, despite both being monotheistic, became irrelevant after Muhammad (saas). Therefore, their existence is temporary, inferior to Islam, and Christians and Jews are dhimmis, or a "tolerated" lower caste who must pay a head tax to Muslims for "protection" [from marauding Muslims], and who will eventually have to convert to Islam.

A similar process is ongoing in the city of Bethlehem in Palestine. A holy city, it had a Christian majority until, in the wake of the Oslo Accords, Israel withdrew, turning it over to the Palestinian Authority. Until then, the city had been 95% Christian, but most Christians were forced to leave their homes and find other places to reside, and Muslims from the surrounding villages took up residence. Currently the population of Bethlehem is 65% Muslim. It is not difficult to imagine what would happen to Christians and Jews if Israel also turned Jerusalem over to the Palestinian Authority.

During the Christmas mass in Bethlehem, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Jesus was a Palestinian. It was a pathetic attempt, this time made by the Palestinians, to distort history and the principles of both the Islamic and Christian faiths for the sake of political Palestinian advancement. Senior sheikhs in the Arab-Muslim world and Palestinian religious leaders in Al-Aqsa mosque all obstinately and fervently claim that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; that it is all a Zionist lie. The claim is not only false; its objective is to dispossess the Jews and rob them of their historical "blessed land," even though it was promised to them by the Holy Qur'an.[1]

If and when the claim that there was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem becomes acceptable, the Christian narrative of Jesus, who threw the money-lenders out of the Temple, also logically becomes a fairy tale with no basis in fact – all for the sake of justifying Palestinian fantasies and to negate the right of the Jews to their historically capital city.

Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement -- the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Israel -- is also a cog in the defraud-and-deceive machine. Interviewed by Al-Jazeera last month, he claimed that Islam defends the Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem -- and this is from the mouth of the Islamic cleric who for years, in collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has spearheaded the effort to oust the Christians from their religious seats in Jerusalem. The Islamic Movement also tried to construct a mosque at the entrance to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, an attempt which was foiled by the Jews.

The fact, like it or not, is that under the rule of the Jews in Israel, the Christian and Muslim communities live in complete security and have absolute freedom of worship. Churches are not burned. Mosques are not burned. Neither Christians nor Muslims are attacked when they leave their houses of prayer. The Pope's upcoming visit to Bethlehem is apparently meant to show the Christians in the Middle East that they have not been abandoned by the Holy See -- but as an act of reassurance, it is "too little too late." The Christians in the Western world are organizing to defend themselves, and taking security steps which radical Islamists call "Islamophobia."

The increasing speed with which the Christians of the Middle East are fleeing would suggest that the battle for a regional Christian presence has already been lost. Those standing in the breach are a handful of Christians in Israel who remain an obstacle to the rising tide of political Islam threatening Europe, Africa and the United States. At the rate Christians are leaving the Arab countries, it is entirely possible that the next time the Pope celebrates mass in Bethlehem, he will be the last Christian in the Middle East.

Gatestone Institute

[1] "Alard alaty barkna fiha," or "Alard alaty barkna hawluha." Interpreters of the Qur'an say that it is Jerusalem and all that is around Jerusalem. In Sura 7 al-A'raf verse 137 (in some editions, verse 138) the blessed land is inherited to be inherited by the sons of Israel: "And We bequeathed upon the people that were abased [despised] all the east and the west of the land We had blessed. And the fair word of they Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because of their endurance…"

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