Tolerating persecution of Christians destroys lives and free societies

Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, Chairman of GIS and member of the Advisory Board of the Thomas More Institute

May 2017 • Analysis •

The killing of 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt on May 26 was overshadowed by the aftermath of the May 22 terrorist attack in Manchester, and was therefore less prominent in the public’s awareness. It was the second large attack against Copts in Egypt this year. On Palm Sunday, 45 Copts were murdered in two churches in Egypt (in Alexandria and Tanta).

Anti-Christian religious cleansing, torture, discrimination and murder has become a pattern. The 2,000-year-old Christian communities in Iraq have been discriminated against and in effect forced to emigrate during the so-called “democratic” regimes that have followed Saddam Hussein’s rule. The country’s Christian community was reduced from some 1.5 million to near extinction. Then Daesh (also known as Islamic State) turned to mass murder of Christians in areas around Mosul.

The situation in Syria is similar. Not only is Daesh murdering Christians, most of the anti-Assad rebels force Christians to leave their homes. Christian communities played a significant role in Syrian society – they accounted for more than 10 percent of the country’s population. In recent months, Christians have been murdered in Libya, and they are Boko Haram’s main target in and around Nigeria.

Christians have also been killed in religious-motivated violence in Pakistan. In Indonesia, the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was recently convicted of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years in prison.

Such occurrences are not limited to Islamic countries. In China, Christian churches are under significant pressure, while in North Korea Christians are persecuted and executed. They are also being persecuted and displaced in several provinces of Myanmar. In India, Christians have been targeted by radical Hindu nationalists.

Impotence and inaction

It is estimated that approximately 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world are directed at Christians, making them by far the most persecuted religious group. This is appalling. But equally appalling is Western countries’ open disinterest in the situation.

In 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rightly called Daesh’s actions “genocide,” but what did the German government do? In 2016 the British House of Commons voted unanimously that Christians were victims of genocide by Daesh, but so far, the United Kingdom’s government has not raised this cause at the United Nations Security Council. The Obama administration demonstrated little interest. The UN has again proven impotent.

It is worth wondering why Western politicians abandon Christians, while constantly prattling on about universal values and human rights. It is irresponsible, cowardly, hypocritical and shortsighted. This inaction will certainly encourage further attacks against Christians, and against freedom and free societies, including in the form of increased terrorism in Europe.

Islam is not to blame. Instead it is political movements that use Islam (and other religions) as a tool to justify the persecution of Christians. Soviet leaders, especially Stalin, also persecuted Christians to advance their political goals. While on the surface what is happening now seems new and different, in essence it is very similar to the inhuman Marxist promise of World Revolution.

Failure to address this issue and defend the rights of Christians where they are persecuted will, in the end, destroy Western civilization, freedom and democracy.

A worthwhile meeting

When United States President Donald Trump met Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 24, the two reportedly discussed the dire situation of Christians in the Middle East. It is important that President Trump has put the issue front and center – it could help reverse the West’s tendency to turn a blind eye to the killing and forced displacement of Christians around the world, mainly in the Middle East.

If President Trump’s trip leads to better recognition of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and results in support for them, it will have proven very worthwhile. Especially Europe, but also the U.S., have cause to be ashamed for abandoning Christians in the Middle East and around the world.