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Analysts and human-rights groups claim U. S. foreign policy is responsible for the destruction of the Middle East’s Christian communities.
The reasoning says the U. S. government’s assistance of the radical elements in the “Arab Spring” has wreaked havoc with the region’s Christians.
The Vatican’s official news service Fides says events in Syria are proof U. S. policy and its support of jihadists is contributing to the death of the country’s Christians.
Fides reports, “Radical Islamist groups in the ranks of the revolutionaries sow terror among civilians in Damascus. Those who pay the consequences are those considered ‘loyalists,’ loyal to the regime of Bashar al Assad.”
“Among the victims, report Fides sources in Damascus, there are also Christians of the suburb of Bab Touma and Iraqi refugees who occupied the suburbs of Oujaira and Sada Zanaim,” Fides reported.
The human-rights group, Open Doors, USA analyst and spokesman Jerry Dykstra says Syrian Christians are experiencing very harsh conditions.
“In Syria, the future of 1.5 million Christians is bleak if President Bashar al-Assad is forced out of office by the rebel force. Under Assad Christians enjoyed a measure of freedom to worship,” Dkystra said.
“Already many Christians have been targeted by the Free Syrian Army, which reportedly includes al-Qaeda-style jihadists and Muslim Brotherhood members. Christians likely would face even more reprisal should Assad fall. Some Christians have already fled to Lebanon or Iraq, and there would be a mass exodus if the rebels take control,” Dykstra said.
Both Religious Freedom Coalition President William Murray and Dutch human-rights writer Martin Janssen, after returning from visits to the region, implied the U.S. government is misguided in its support of the rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime, because Christians and other religious majorities are faring better under Bashar al-Assad.
Some analysts, however, are more forgiving of U. S. policy.
American Enterprise Institute Middle East analyst Michael Rubin says some blame needs to be assigned to the persecutors.
“First, let’s put primary responsibility where responsibility is due: On the Islamist terrorists who target the Christians. They are the product of decades of incitement and theological inculcation, often financed by Saudi and Iranian petrodollars,” Rubin said.
Addressing the “Arab Spring,” Rubin points out the U. S. didn’t incite the rebellions.
“It’s also important to remember that the United States did not cause the Arab Spring – that was an indigenous movement that caught not only Washington but also the Muslim Brotherhood by surprise,” Rubin said.
Dykstra said that in the early stages, many were hopeful that the Arab Spring would have positive results.
“At the beginning of Arab Spring, many in the West thought the revolts would be a positive development in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” Dykstra said.
The results, however, Dykstra says are quite different.
“Over a year and a half later, it has become apparent that the outcry for reforms has not benefited many Christians. For many religious minorities in these regions, it has become an ‘Arab Winter,’ as they have seen their religious freedoms eroded even more,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra specifically pointed to Egypt, where a Muslim Brotherhood member won the presidency.
“Let’s take Egypt as an example,” Dykstra said. “Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, there has been a complete collapse of law and order. Christians have been marginalized more than ever before. Many are leaving the country, especially after the election of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this summer.”
Dykstra says Morsi’s cabinet provides a perfect example of the situation.
“When Morsi announced his cabinet earlier this month, there was only one Coptic Christian selected out of a total of 35 appointees. Christians comprise 10 percent of the entire population of Egypt. So obviously Coptics will not have much of a voice in governmental decisions. A day before Morsi announced the new cabinet, Muslims attacked a church and Christian homes in a village outside Cairo,” Dykstra said.
International Christian Concern’s Middle East analyst Aidan Clay agrees, saying Morsi’s cabinet maneuvers are a reflection of how Morsi will govern.
“The situation for Christians continues to decline,” Clay said. “Last Thursday, for example, Egypt’s president, Mohammad Morsi, announced a cabinet that only included one Christian representative in a minor government role.
“The reason that the selection was so disappointing was because Morsi had promised time and again that Christians would be given fair representation in the new government; however, Morsi’s political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, continues to make promises they have no intention of keeping,” Clay said.
“Christians and secularists, who overwhelmingly voted against the Brotherhood during presidential elections, are very concerned that the Brotherhood intends to Islamize the country by eventually instituting Shariah as the main source of legislation,” Clay said.
“Under a Shariah state, attacks on Christians, like what was seen in Dahshur last week, will continue to increase, and those who incite violence against Christians will not be prosecuted. Christians will continue to be vulnerable and defenseless, having no assurance of protection,” Clay said.
Clay says Christians are turning to the last vestiges of the military for help.
“At this point, many Christians in Egypt are hoping that the military, who refuses to relinquish control, will continue to hold on to power,” Clay said. “While military rule threatens the very fabric of Egypt’s revolution by preventing the country’s transition to a democratically elected government, most of the Christian community believes that a return to military rule, like what existed under Mubarak, is the only hope remaining for a peaceful existence.”
The situation is similar for other country’s in North Africa and the Middle East.
WND also reported that the U. S. supported the Libyan rebels, which led to a Muslim Brotherhood-friendly government in that North African Arab nation.
“North Africa, from Cairo going West, has deep penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Florida Security Council President Tom Trento at the time. “We also know that [former Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi is hated by and hates the Brotherhood and al-Qaida.”
Dykstra gives Tunisia as an example of another Arab government that is feeling the pressure from the Arab Spring, as promoted by U. S. policy.
“Even in Tunisia, where the ‘smooth’ transition from dictatorship to democracy is seen as a shining light by some, ultra-conservative Islamists called ‘Salafis’ have been organizing demonstrations in an effort to turn Tunisia, the birthplace of Arab Spring, into a strict Islamic state,” Dykstra said.
Rubin adds that reports of U. S. responsibility for the persecution are likely to be true, based on the leadership coming from Washington.
“The Obama administration has embraced certain policies which guarantee the Christians will become ‘collateral’ damage throughout the region,” Rubin said. “Obama prefers to ‘lead from behind,’ but he forgets that those countries through which he prefers to work – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – often support the most radical elements among the Islamist oppositions and themselves promote hatred of Christianity.
“While both Presidents Bush and Obama have been willing to sacrifice American troops to provide opportunities for Iraqis and Afghans, neither has been willing to demand freedom and equality of religion in return,” Rubin said.
Rubin says the United States needs to speak out for religious freedom and religious minorities, from Secretary of State Clinton downward.
“Secretary of State Clinton, like her predecessors, refuses to take incitement seriously. When government-run news agencies depict Christians as legitimate targets and suffer no consequences from the United States, then there is something very wrong,” Rubin said. “We should not allow our silence to bless open season on religious minorities.”
Rubin adds that the U. S. has to get a realistic picture of the ideological juggernaut in the Middle East.
“Most importantly, we need to recognize the malignant ideology which motivates the jihadists,” Rubin said. “It’s time for the White House to stop humoring organizations like [the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR], which seek to run interference for hatred and terrorism, and call a spade a spade.”