The Egyptians who were working in Libya were taped by ISIS as they were beheaded, with some of the men saying, “Jesus” as their last words. Their first anniversary is to be commemorated on the 15th of February, Yet, the terrorists are not attacking Christianity alone. Yazidis, State soldiers and civilians are continuously under attack. Egyptian soldiers in Sinai are murdered on a daily basis through various terrorist attacks as they fight desperately to secure the Egyptian border.
The Birthplace of Christ: The Death place for Christians
Once the birthplace of Jesus Christ, today the Middle East has become the deathplace for Christians. Since the political instability that has occurred due to the so-called “Arab Spring” (the overthrowing of the authoritarian, yet generally secular, governments in the Middle East), political power vacuums resulted, providing opportunities for the rise of Islamic extremists under the guise of “political opposition”.
Iraq, Libya, Syria and Egypt, just to name a few, have become breeding grounds for such extremism, with Christianity at the frontline of the conflict. The Islamic extremists have one driving “political” desire: the establishing of an Islamic Caliphate. Their dream to establish an Islamic Utopia strengthens, as the political vacuums resulting out of the removal of the past governments provide them with an opportunity to take power.
One of their key desires is the eradication of Christianity in the Middle East, with the slaughtering of Christians, kidnappings, destruction of Churches and monasteries and looting of Christian homes common occurrences.
Whilst not always officially government sanctioned, many times governments and the law will turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed.
Mob attacks are frequently used in an effort to instil an added terror upon the victims.
It is impossible to document all of the attacks and atrocities that have occurred, however, the following examples provide a snapshot of the dire situation for Christians in the Middle East today.
Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazii, were kidnapped in April, 2013. They were kidnapped whilst trying to negotiate the release of kidnapped priests. Until this day, there remains no knowledge of their fates, except that their driver, a deacon, was murdered.
Mosul, one of Iraq’s biggest cities has been overrun by ISIS and Christians were driven out after having their things confiscated. Christians’ houses were marked with the Arabic letter N for Nazarenes (the semi-derogatory manner of referring to Christians). Crosses were taken down from churches and monasteries and supplemented with ISIS flags. For the first time in 2000 years, no church bells sound from the city. You may remember the resonance of this story by the influx of Facebook profile pictures changed to the letter N to reflect their owners’ Christianity. The Assyrians (Indigenous Iraqi Christians) have come to exemplify the perils faced by Christians in the Middle East.
In Egypt, attacks on churches, Christian bookstore and Christians have become commonplace. One particularly savage murder, was the “scalping” of a young woman in her early 20’s by a mob who noticed a Cross in her car and tore her to death. Last year, at the start of the Holy Lent, Coptic Christians celebrated by sending 21 martyrs to Heaven. The Egyptians who were working in Libya were taped by ISIS as they were beheaded, with some of the men saying, “Jesus” as their last words. Their first anniversary is to be commemorated on the 15th of February
Yet, the terrorists are not attacking Christianity alone. Yazidis, State soldiers and civilians are continuously under attack. Egyptian soldiers in Sinai are murdered on a daily basis through various terrorist attacks as they fight desperately to secure the Egyptian border.
It is not surprising that there is a fight for the Middle East. Its strategic geographic location and its rich resources such as oil make for a lucrative prize. (The millions of men, women and children living on this land are an annoying nuisance… a small barrier in the way.)
What is surprising, however, is the amount of terrorist apologetic rhetoric that fills political discourse. Comments such as U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf’s that the reason for terrorism is “a lack of jobs”, a sentiment that was echoed by several Australian politicians, is nothing but a slap in the face for victims such as the Coptic Egyptians killed in Libya, as they left their homes and families to live and die in Libya to find a job.
The terrorist threat to the Middle East and the world is not just a physical threat through violence. It is a threat by naïve ideas under the guise of bleeding heart compassion and rhetoric. Terrorists have a political agenda that they are trying to implement. Many of them are millionaires such as Osama Bin Laden. Most come from Middle Eastern countries where they are the majority and hold structural power. The rhetoric of Western Muslims suffering as minorities, thus leaving to fight jihad in the Middle East does not answer why people like Bin Laden fight for the cause. Neither does it answer why Indigenous Christian minority groups such as Assyrians and Copts do not rage a war of their own.
The threat of terrorism to the Middle East and the world can only be combated when the world unites against it.
Suzy Hanna is member of The Australian Coptic Movement Association working within the media and public relations area. With a Bachelor in Law/Arts, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Bachelor in Arts (Honours), Bachelor in Secondary Teaching and Certificate in Theology, Suzy’s education and personal interest in sociological affairs of Copts and Egypt has seen her on the front lines of elevating the Coptic Cause. Suzy has fronted an array of media outlets including SBS, Sky News, and local and independent media.
Follow Suzy on twitter @SuzyHanna1
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