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The Christian Tragedy in the Middle East Did Not Begin With Isis

World  (tags: Armenian genocide, Christians, Middle-east, Ottoman empire )

- 1495 days ago -
A hundred years on from the Armenian genocide, and a Christian minority is again suffering


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Hilary S (65)
Friday April 17, 2015, 4:06 am
One summer's day in 1990, I walked into a beautiful Crusader chapel in Keserwan, a gentle mountainside north of Beirut, where an old Catholic Maronite priest pointed to a Byzantine mosaic of – I think – Saint John. What he wanted to show me was the holy man's eyes. They had been stabbed out of the mosaic by a sword or lance at some point in antiquity. 'The Muslims did this,' the priest said.
His words had added clarity because at that time the Lebanese Christian army General Michel Aoun – who thought he was the president and still, today, dreams of this unlikely investiture – was fighting a hopeless war against Hafez Assad's Syrian army. Daily, I was visiting the homes of dead Christians, killed by Syrian shellfire. The Syrians, in the priest's narrative, were the same ‘Muslims’ who had stabbed out the eyes in the ancient picture.
I remember at the time – and often since – I would say to myself that this was nonsense, that you cannot graft ancient history onto the present. (The Maronites, by the way, had supported the earlier Crusaders. The Orthodox of the time stood with the Muslims.) Christian-Muslim enmity on this scale was a tale to frighten schoolchildren.
And yet only last year, as shells burst above the Syrian town of Yabroud, I walked into the country’s oldest church and found paintings of the saints. All had had their eyes gouged out and been torn into strips. I took one of those strips home to Beirut, the painted eyes of the saints staring at me even as I write this article. This was not the sacrilege of antiquity. It was done by ghoulish men, probably from Iraq, only months ago.
Like 9/11 – long after Hollywood had regularly demonised Muslims as barbarian killers who wish to destroy America – it seems that our worst fears turn into reality. The priest in 1990 cannot have lived long enough to know how the new barbarians would strike at the saints in Yabroud.
Note how I have not mentioned the enslavement of Christian women in Iraq, the Islamic State’s massacre of Christians and Yazidis, the burning of Mosul's ancient churches or the destruction of the great Armenian church of Deir el-Zour that commemorated the genocide of its people in 1915. Nor the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls. Not even the very latest massacre in Kenya where the numbers of Christian dead and the cruelty of their sectarian killers is, indeed, of epic, Hollywood proportions. Nor have I mentioned the ferocious Sunni-Shia wars that now dwarf the tragedy of the Christians.
But the Christian tragedy in the Middle East today needs to be re-thought – as it will be, of course, when Armenians around the world commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide of their people by Ottoman Turkey. Perhaps it is time that we acknowledge not only this act of genocide but come to regard it not as just the murder of a minority within the Ottoman Empire, but specifically a Christian minority, killed because they were Armenian but also because they were Christian (many of whom, unfortunately, rather liked the Orthodox, anti-Ottoman Tsar).
And their fate bears some uncommon parallels with the Islamic State murderers of today. The Armenian men were massacred. The women were gang-raped or forced to convert or left to die of hunger. Babies were burned alive – after being stacked in piles. Islamic State cruelty is not new, even if the cult’s technology defeats anything its opponents can achieve. In Kuwait last week, a good and thoughtful Muslim, an American university graduate – within the al-Sabah family and prominent in the government – shook his head with disbelief when he spoke of Islamic State. ‘I watched the video of them burning the Jordanian pilot alive,’ he told me. ‘I watched it several times. I had to, because I had to understand their technology. Do you know they used seven camera angles to film this atrocity? We could not compete with this media technology. We have to learn.’

And this is true. The West – that amorphous, dangerous expression – has still not understood the use of this technology – especially the use which the cult makes of the internet – nor have the Muslim Arab imams who should be speaking about the fearful acts of Islamic State.
But most are not, any more than they denounced the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, when around a million Muslims killed each other. Because they were on Saddam’s side in that war. And because the Islamic State’s ideology is too obviously of Wahabi inspiration, and thus too close to some of the Gulf Arab states.
The crimes of Islamic State are as brutal as any committed by the German army in the Second World War, but Jews who converted were not spared Hitler’s plan for their extermination. What the Islamic State and the 1915 Ottoman Turks have in common is a cruelty based on ideology – even theology – rather than race hatred, although that is not far away. After the burning of churches and of synagogues, the rubble looks much the same.
The tragedy of the Arab world is now on such a literally Biblical scale that we are all demeaned by it. Yet I also think of Lebanon where the old priest showed me his mosaic with the missing eyes and where the Lebanese Christians and Muslims fought each other – with the help of many foreign nations, including Israel, Syria and America – and killed 150,000 of their own people.
Yet today, Lebanese Muslims and Christians, though still politically deeply divided, are protecting each other amid the gale-force winds around them. Why? Because they are today a much more educated population. It’s because they value education, reading and books and knowledge. And from education comes justice. Which is why, when compared to Lebanon, the Islamic State is a nation of lost souls.

Past Member (0)
Friday April 17, 2015, 6:36 am
This is happening in regions around the world, with the worst history of offenses being in Middle Eastern/North African countries.

Jay S (116)
Friday April 17, 2015, 10:16 am
The genocide of Christians, Jews (especially), Buddhists, Hindus and everyone else started the day Mohammed and his band of thugs and bandits and mass murderers picked up the sword and began to force people to "join" his "religion of peace", which has always been just a codification of the ancient Arab tribal rules and practices - a political ideology more sinister and deadly than any other that has murdered more people in the past 1400 years than any other maniacal Psycopath has ever managed to do - even Stalin, Mao, Hitler etc couldn't hold a candle to the more than 230 million murdered by Mohammed and those who have followed his example and teachings.

Every muslim occupied land was conquered by Islam by the sword. Some were slowly suffocated and others brutally subjugated, with many killed, like the 80 million slaughtered in India when Islam invaded and conquered there.

But to even mention Islam's lust for power, teachings of hate and violence and debauchery is to bring down twisted wrath of the establishment, just like it did when the few voices condemned and warned against Hitler and Nazism. Remeber Churchill was branded a hatemonger by the leaders of government and society, even the church, and the mainstream medi in England blasted him - the Times even refused to print photos and stories of Nazi atrocities from their own reporter because it might have "offended" Hitler. Sound familiar?

This is a tragedy happening daily around the muslim occupied world and Obama refuses to say a word or act, and neither do any other leaders or media. Meanwhile muslims are demanding special rights and giving very real threats all over the western world in their bid to finally conquer us after failing for centuries of bloodshed across Europe.

Where is the outrage?!

Shil O (0)
Friday April 17, 2015, 10:43 am
@ Jay
"Where is the outrage?! "
deposited in a secure bank account I have no doubt
If those we elect to govern are incapable of understanding the problem - questions must be asked
Mohammedans can chase our police up and down streets kick poppies over at war memorials call for beheading etc.,and when the likes of Paul Golding after being assaulted by a mohammedan attempts to point the finger he is charged with -- read for yourself
Last night, Britain First leader Paul Golding was locked in a police cell for six hours.
He had to answer bail for the incident in Derby WHERE HE WAS ASSAULTED BY A MOHAMMEDAN

After six hours, he was charged, not for assault, but for using "threatening, abusive and insulting words."

and conservatives,labour and liberals would like our vote - They have all totally lost the plot and are rotten to the core

Soren Groth Petersen (2301)
Friday April 17, 2015, 2:27 pm
LISTEN, PRAY, SHARE Beats4Change release compilations of music donated by concerned artists, where the profit is donated to help the displaced Christian minorities targeted by jihadist violence around the world

Love, Faith, Hope Vol I benefits

NIGERIA CRISIS FUND (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)
A DEMAND FOR ACTION (Christians in Syria and Iraq)

Past Member (0)
Friday April 17, 2015, 2:31 pm
Thank you, Hillary.

Past Member (0)
Friday April 17, 2015, 3:04 pm
Hillary, thank you so much for the article.

I happen to meet several Armenian people, and was greatly impressed with the highest level of their intellect, inner peace and warmth. After suffering for centuries, they got their own country after USSR breakup.

I support their fight to have Turkish genocide against them recognized. It was comparable to the Nazi genocide against Jews, and must be taught at schools as well.

It is a disgrace that Care2 people posting tens of articles to promote a cause of Palestinian Arabs will not spare a note or comment on any article about sufferings of Christians.

It is great that you could fill that vacuum.


Janis K (129)
Friday April 17, 2015, 4:59 pm
Thanks for sharing.

marie C (163)
Friday April 17, 2015, 5:42 pm
Shil the only party who talks sense and cares about our country is Ukip
I hope they do well in coming election

Walter F (128)
Friday April 17, 2015, 9:45 pm
Hilary it is little wonder we all have this untreatable disease of islamophobia when we witness the mindless acts of destruction and cruelty carried out by the followers of ha meshuga. Even today in Melbourne arrests were made of s group plotting acts of violence on Anzac Day. among other things they intended to murder police officers.When we opened our doors to these people we let in a disease that has infested our country..We need to reclaim it.and lt them know they have to accept our laws ans customs .Australia Is a secular state and will always remain one.

Birgit W (160)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 3:24 am

Danuta W (1251)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 3:30 am

Lindsay Kemp (6)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 9:43 am
Noted. I can't understand why people of any description want to kill other people. It would be so much better to respect each other and work together.

Past Member (0)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 11:05 am
I can't believe the people on Care2 that never comment on any article concerning Jews & Christians being murdered, really has taught me something about people here, thanks Hilary .

Janet B (0)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 7:06 pm

Roslyn McBride (26)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 7:39 pm

Past Member (0)
Saturday April 18, 2015, 11:33 pm

Palestinian Muslim Arabs remain World Best Paid refugees for tens of years, exclusively covered by UNWRA. WIth subsidies based on per capita, Gaza birth rate is the highest in the world.

UNWRA donors are Western [Christian] countries.

Shouldn't help to displaced Christians become a higher priority, that sponsoring Palestinian "Refugees" when these "Refugees" are living in Arab countries, West Bank, Gaza, etc.

It is time to close UNWRA and divert the huge money they get for help to ALL refugees, not serving exclusively to Palestinian Arabs.

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 3:15 am
Bob A:

"It is a disgrace that Care2 people posting tens of articles to promote a cause of Palestinian Arabs will not spare a note or comment on any article about sufferings of Christians."

Amen, Bob A!


Past Member (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 3:56 am
Support your personal opinion that there are plenty of Christians suffering right here in the US with some type of documentation please. You might also want to explain why their parents do not have jobs to take care of their families.


Shil O (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 4:16 am
@ Walter F
".When we opened our doors to these people we let in a disease that has infested our country."

Agreed..... its like giving an overweight person cancer to help them slim -- they lose weight but if left untreated the results are terminal

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 5:18 am
So, in other words, you cannot support your personal opinion that Christians are suffering here in the US?


. (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 7:20 am

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 8:49 am
Then what exactly IS the CARE2 community's responsibility?

By your rationalization, there should be a Muslim Authority who is responsible for your palestinians, etc. But the religion is rife with fractures and at the mercies of millions of muftis and mullahs.

Janet B (0)
Sunday April 19, 2015, 2:14 pm

Darren Woolsey (218)
Tuesday April 21, 2015, 5:53 am
Every religion has its fractures. Islam is not immune.
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