Christian Persecution in the Middle East
Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal regarding the plight of Christians in the Middle East. I’ve posted an excerpt below. Just like in Communist countries, Christians in the Middle East are suffering persecution, sometimes even to the point of death.
It’s easy for us Christians in the West to forget about our beleaguered brothers and sisters overseas, or to just respond by offering up a prayer. Prayer is certainly needed, but so is action. The question is, what kind of action? One avenue of help that I recommend is Voice of the Martyrs. They are an inter-denominational ministry that focuses on persecuted Christians. They’ve been around for more than 40 years and do an amazing job. If you have a recommendation as to how we can help, please post a comment.
Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians:
The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church's clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives.
The trauma of those priests is now commonplace among Middle Eastern Christians. Their share of the region's population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer. . . .
. . . Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden. In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors. Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash. This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.
You can read the entire column here.