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Is the persecution of Christians in the Middle East “old news”?

“The persecution of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East was not one of 2018’s big news stories. Instead, this parade of horrors became a kind of ‘old news’ that rarely reached the prime headlines offered by elite newsrooms.”

Yet the persecution has not abated. We pray that in 2019, it will command more of the world’s attention, and move authorities to take action to protect their Christian populations. The United States Secretary of State has vowed that the U.S. will protect Christians in the Middle East. We hope other countries will follow suit.

“Is abuse of Christians in Middle East ‘old news?,'” by Terry Mattingly, Arkansas Online, January 12, 2019:

Once again, Coptic Christians faced bloody bodies in the sands of Egypt, as terrorists killed seven pilgrims who had just prayed at the Monastery of St. Samuel.

No one was surprised when the Islamic State took credit for that November attack south of Cairo. After all, 28 pilgrims were massacred near the same spot in 2017.

In Syria, Orthodox believers marked the fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who were trying to negotiate the release of priests seized weeks earlier. Today, their followers know less about the identity of the attackers than they did in 2013.

In the Nineveh plains of Iraq, Christians slowly returned to communities in which their ancestors had worshipped since the first century after Christ. Zero Christians remained in Mosul after the Islamic State group demanded that they convert to Islam or pay the jizya head tax, while living with brutal persecution.

But nothing remained of the 1,400-year-old Dair Mar-Elia (Saint Elijah’s Monastery) after invaders blew it up twice and then bulldozed the rubble.

Try to imagine the faith it requires for believers to carry on after all this has taken place, said the Prince of Wales, speaking at a Westminster Abbey service last month celebrating the lives of Christians who endure persecution in the Middle East.

“Time and again, I have been deeply humbled and profoundly moved by the extraordinary grace and capacity for forgiveness that I have seen in those who have suffered so much,” said Prince Charles, who has worked to build contacts in the ancient Christian East.

“Forgiveness, as many of you know far better than I, is not a passive act, or submission. Rather, it is an act of supreme courage, of a refusal to be defined by the sin against you. … It is one thing to believe in God who forgives. It is quite another to take that example to heart and actually to forgive, with the whole heart, ‘those who trespass against you’ so grievously.”

The persecution of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East was not one of 2018’s big news stories. Instead, this parade of horrors became a kind of “old news” that rarely reached the prime headlines offered by elite newsrooms….

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