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Churches and Bible schools have been bombed and torched. In October 2005 a crowd beheaded three Christian school girls. The wife of the pastor of an evangelical church on Java lost a leg in a bombing in 2001, and a year later their home was burned down. As one Indonesian minister told me, being a Christian “is difficult” there.
Christians suffer in other Muslim lands — Brunei, for instance, as well as Gaza and the West Bank, Turkmenistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh. The amount of violence varies, but Islamic persecution of Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities is widespread.
Particularly shocking is persecution in both Afghanistan and Iraq, which were supposed to have been liberated by allied forces. Kabul’s threatened execution of Christian convert Abdul Rahman in 2006 gained worldwide attention. Discrimination and persecution are increasingly evident. Acknowledges the State Department: “Condemnations of conversions from Islam and censorship increased concerns about citizens’ ability to freely practice minority religions.”
In Iraq, the government does not actively persecute, though Baha’is and Wahabbi Sunnis face some legal disabilities. But the collapse of Iraqi civil society has left Christians particularly vulnerable to criminal violence.
Even worse, Islamic extremists are consciously destroying the historic Christian community. Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA observes, “Christians are targeted specifically for being Christians.”
There is occasional good news. A few years ago Indonesia’s Moluccan Islands were aflame in a conflict that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands. The Crisis Centre Dioceses of Ambonia celebrated the conflict’s end “based on mutual understanding and readiness to forgive.”
BUT THE MOLUCCAN ISLANDS’ reconciliation was the outlier in the otherwise tragic and intractable problem of peaceful religious co-existence in Muslim lands.
There is no good foreign policy answer to religious persecution. As bad as it is, persecution isn’t the same as terrorism when it comes to justifying military intervention. And enthusiasm for humanitarian warfare died in the rubble left by Iraqi IEDs and car bombs.
Increased private dialogue might help. Before Pope Benedict XVI visited Turkey, Ali Bardakoglu, head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, warned would-be jihadis: “We Muslims condemn all types of violence and terror, regardless of whoever commits it against whosoever.”
His remarks should be repeated in mosques around the world. Today a shocking number of Muslims choose violence and terror, and even more choose acquiescence to violence and terror. Although Christian persecution of Muslims belongs to history, “Muslim persecution of Christians and other religious minorities remains a present evil,” notes Jim Jacobson of Christian Freedom International.
Only after suffering through significant sectarian injustices did Christians of all stripes learn to tolerate those who believed and thought differently. Millions of Muslims living in the West have benefited from that transformation. Islamic lands should similarly transform themselves.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?