On April 22, two Orthodox bishops of Aleppo, Syria, were kidnapped by U.S.-supported Islamist fighters. Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yaziji were kidnapped as they were returning from an attempt to obtain the release of two priests previously kidnapped. The priests, Father Michel Kayyal, an Armenian Catholic, and Father Maher Mahfouz, a Greek Orthodox, were kidnapped in February and still remain in the hands of the Islamist fighters the Western media refer to as “rebels.”
In a Huffington Post article, Orthodox priest Peter-Michael Preble said of the two kidnapped bishops: “They were on a mission of peace, to bring aid and comfort, and they were taken hostage as part of the systematic extermination of the Christian population in Syria.”
As an eyewitness to Capitol Hill, I can say without hesitation that the Republican Party leadership is allowing the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Syria in order to obtain some minor political gain over President Obama. A momentary “we got you” win against Obama is more important to the Republican leadership than the lives of millions of Christians and the destruction of the ancient churches founded by Peter, Paul, John and the other early Saints. Rather than Speaker John Boehner using the power of his office to stop Obama’s support of the jihadist fighters in Syria, he is pushing for our overburdened and over-deployed Armed Forces to get directly involved.
On the Senate side, it is John McCain, who is the principal Republican promoter of the destruction of the Syrian church. McCain seems totally blind to the human suffering of war and has no regard for Christians suffering at the hands of the jihadists in Syria. As McCain sees it, Iran is currently our main enemy and eliminating one of its power bases – its alliance with Syria – is worth the human suffering and ethnic cleansing of the Christian population. McCain is actually pushing Obama to do even more damage in Syria. McCain has demanded that our Air Force face one of the most sophisticated air defense systems in the world, the Russian SA-22 Pantsir S1, so that we can assist jihadist fighters.
It is very true that Iran is a threat to the peace of the Middle East and to Israel, but arming jihadists associated with al-Qaida and allowing them to murder Christians and destroy churches in Syria does not seem to me as the optimal way to limit the power of Iran. Indeed, the harsh persecution of Christians by jihadist fighters supported in Syria by Barack Obama is no different than the persecution of Christians in Iran. At least in Iran the Christians get a phony show trial before they are jailed and tortured. In Syria, Christians are tortured and murdered with no trial at all and using American tax dollars given to jihadists by Barack Obama.
In Father Preble’s article he articulated the situation with great accuracy: “What has been called the ‘Arab Spring’ in Syria has become the Christian Nightmare, and it is high time that the United States government realize the part it has played and continues to play in this ethnic cleansing, genocide, holocaust, whatever word you choose to describe what is being perpetrated on the religious minorities in Syria as well as Egypt.”
Most Western news outlets have refused so far to carry news of the kidnappings of Christian clergy in Syria because it doesn’t’ fit the “Assad is the bad guy” story line. The press is silent even though the two bishops were kidnapped by Chechen jihadists, and this came just days after the Boston Marathon bombing by Chechen jihadists.
There is a petition at the White House with nearly 100,000 signers asking President Obama to assist in obtaining the release of the kidnapped bishops, but it is unlikely he will act since this would expose the true nature of those he supports in Syria, the jihadists. We must break this silence somehow; perhaps awareness through the White House petition will at least force some in the press to report on the abuse of Christians and the kidnapping of clergy in Syria by the American-supported jihadists. Besides the White House petition there is an online petition asking members of Congress to speak out about the kidnapping of Christian clergy in Syria that will be sent by fax free of charge.