The face of Coptic persecution.

Photo: A young girl mourns the death of her father, a Coptic Priest named Fr Mina who has gunned down by Islamists in broad day light in the town of Al-Arish, Sinai region a year ago. Till today we have not heard of anyone being held accountable for his murder.

It is difficult to write about such issues without being emotional. Nigerians both Christian and Muslim continue to be attacked by Boko Haram. The girls are still missing. I find myself asking many negative questions regarding the response from the Christian Community at large and the broader International Community in general. There are many question marks regarding the response from the more influential mainstream Churches and Institutions regarding the ongoing attacks against their fellow brethren throughout the Islamic majority nations as well as other nations where Christians are currently being persecuted including North Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere. Even in Palestine, very few speak of the dwindling numbers of Christians and their plight under Hamas controlled Gaza.

In almost all cases the Christian populations in countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Nigeria are totally unarmed and defenceless. They are not firing rockets into their enemy’s strongholds or blowing themselves up at security checkpoints. Christian minorities in these nations are being killed, raped and tortured for their faith in Jesus Christ. There are reports from the City of Mosul in Iraq that the total Christian population has been driven out. This is ethnic cleansing and yet we don’t see any degree of outrage or concern from world leaders or even Christian leaders except from Christian leaders of those communities impacted.

In the past we often criticized the mainstream media for their lack of coverage on these issues however in recent months there is an indication that the mainstream media is starting to cover these events albeit superficially. In fact there have been many articles appearing in the mainstream media calling on liberal minded people in the West to start paying attention to the plight of Christians and to the kidnapping of the mainly Christian girls in Nigeria.

Where are the Christians?

The excerpt below is from a Chaldean Catholic Church official in Iraq:

“The West is not Christian,” raged Aziz Emmanuel al-Zebari, a Chaldean Catholic church official, when we met in Erbil’s buzzy Christian quarter on a blazingly hot Ascension Day late in May. “They destroyed us by installing a government based on Islamic sects in which we have no place,” he added, as a sermon in Aramaic rang out from the distinctive Ziggurat-style cathedral in the background.”

Living in the west I find it hard to accept such judgment however there is an element of truth in his statement. If Christians who are regular church goers preach love, tolerance and social justice and at the same time totally ignore the plight of their suffering brethren then yes, ‘The West is not Christian’. In fact, I have met many non-Church goers who are more concerned about the plight of their brethren in their nations of origin than regular attendees. How can we love our neighbors if we ignore the cries of our nations and co-religionists?

Where are the Christian leaders on the genocide in Nigeria, Iraq and elsewhere? How many more girls must be burned to death in Nigeria or Christians slaughtered in Iraq till some serious action is taken?

Many will rightfully ask ‘What exactly can we do’? We live in an era where the issue of Human Rights and Minority protection is a big issue. If our leaders are not appropriately taking action in their Foreign and Humanitarian policies then it is our role as citizens in democratic nations to alert them and lobby them. Ultimately we as Christians in the West are responsible for actions of our governments across the world. We elect the leaders and if we remain silent then we are also responsible for the sufferings and injustices taking place throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Christians still represent the majority of the population in the West despite rapidly changing demographics mainly due to immigration.

It is high time for Christians in the West to take a serious and consistent action including lobbying government and influential institutions to push for immediate practical action, providing targeted humanitarian aid, writing letters to the editors of papers, creating local action groups in your local area, attending seminars and workshops and supporting organizations such as the ACM in continuing to advocate effectively.

Churches and Religious groups must also play a more proactive role. The Churches could organize monthly masses or vigils to remember the victims and their families who will live with the scars and pain of the persecution forever. Churches need to bring the serious issue of persecuted Christians to the top of their social justice agenda.

In the meantime my colleagues at the Australian Coptic Movement have created a Facebook Event encouraging everyone to join in both pray and action to remember the Christians who are living under persecution all over the world. The event ends on 16 August 2014 which coincides with the one year anniversary of the worst ever attacks on Coptic Christians in modern history.

Peter Tadros

Peter Tadros has participated in fact-finding missions and presented at many seminars. He features regularly in the media for commentary on Egypt and the plight of Copts, including regular radio interviews, print features, and television appearances. Tadros is one of the members of the Australian Coptic Movement Association.

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