Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Religious ‘Cleansing’ in the Middle East a Growing Threat

(Morning Star News)

Christian communities under attack in the region.

When Iran’s holocaust-denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaims, “Israel must be wiped off the map,” the United States rightly takes the threat of genocide seriously. President Obama, like his predecessor, is committed to preventing the eradication of the people of Israel. Conservative U.S. Christian leadership, as reflected by Christians United for Israel, has strongly backed this commitment.

There is, however, another threat of genocide in the Middle East. It is the religious cleansing of Christians and other religious minorities from the Sunni-dominated Middle East. This danger remains unacknowledged by President Obama and has received little attention, with few exceptions, from U.S. Christian leadership on both the right the left.

Not so abroad. Already, last year, former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy drew the attention of the international community respectively to acts of “genocide” and “a perverse program of religious cleansing” directed at the Middle East’s 10-12 million Christians. Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly appeals for prayer and action on behalf of the region’s endangered Christian communities.

Today, the crisis of religious cleansing is particularly acute in Syria. The general chaos and confusion of civil war harms all Syrians irrespective of religion. But members of religious minorities – roughly 25 percent of the population – are targeted for murder, abduction, displacement and humiliation with increasing frequency and ferocity. Religious cleansing proceeds under the publicly proclaimed slogan, “Alawites [a branch of Shia Islam] to the grave, and Christians to Beirut!” – a proclamation, like President Ahmadinejad’s, of genocidal intent.


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