Sunday, September 4, 2016

Post 46—Christian Genocide by ISIS

It is generally recognized in the media that Christians are having a hard time of it in pretty well all Muslim-dominated countries, whether in Asia, Africa or Europe. I have drawn attention to this in several posts in both this blog as well as in another blog I operate under the name “My World—My Neighbour,” the latest being number 124.
Now that claim may smell like Islamophobia to some, but that derisive term is over-used to cover almost anything that is less than laudatory with respect to Islam.  It means “fear of Islam,” which is a far cry from disagreement with Islam. I have high respect for orthodox Islam and for its adherents, but I disagree with them. If you want to know what exactly that translates into, I refer you to my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations on my website  < >. Even Muslims have praised me for the spirit pervading that series. Disagreement? Yes.  Phobia? No, not one bit. So, let’s not have that misnomer stand in the way of the rest of this post. 
Today I discuss not mere Muslim persecution of Christians, but genocide. According to one edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, it means “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group,” with the last one, I take it, including religious groups.  It is much more specific than the more general term “persecution.” While the latter is common place throughout the Muslim world, genocide is more local and currently widely applied especially to ISIS, who are widely recognized to consciously and officially be practicing Christian genocide.
You need details of this recognition?  Carl Anderson, the CEO of the Knights of Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author, together with  Archbishop Bashar Warda, a Chaldean Catholic Archbishop in Iraq (A&W), wrote an article, “ISIS perpetrates genocide against Christians” (Vancouver Sun, Aug. 5, 2016, p. A11) that is fully worth a serious read. They write:
Based on overwhelming evidence, Christians have been included in genocide designations by the European Parliament, the US State Department, the US Congress, parliaments and officials of a number of European governments, as well as the Iraqi cabinet and the Kurdish Regional Government.    
In addition, according to Barnabas Aid, certain members of the British House of Lords urged their Prime Minister some months ago that, “jihadist attacks on  Christians and other religions in the Middle East should be classified as genocide.”  In other words, the UK Government hesitated to join the authorities in the paragraph above. And they are not the only ones. The same Barnabas report states that “The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said that she ‘stands ready’ to begin a genocide enquiry but needs an order from the UN Security Council.”  So, the UN also hesitates. Given its membership, that should be no surprise to anyone.
But coming closer to home, our own Canadian Government also has rejected the call to declare a genocide on the part of ISIS.  A&W advocate that Canada should take leadership on the question of genocide by ISIS, but it is following the lead of the UN. The argument against the genocide issue turns on a definition of a tax Islam calls “jizya”, a tax Christians and others have historically paid to Muslim rulers for protection instead of the traditional “convert or die” ultimatum. However, according to A&W, ISIS has widened the definition of this protection so that it includes even “kidnapping, rape and confiscation,” all actions from which that tax is supposed to protect them. In fact, a former ISIS leader “publicly revoked any special treatment of Christians years ago.”  Its official magazine, Dabiq, has threatened to “conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.” 
The result of all this violence? A&W tell us that the number of Christians in Iraq “has plummeted by nearly 90 percent, Syria’s by almost 70 per cent. “In the land where it first took root, Christianity could be stamped out entirely—within our lifetime.”  Such threats and actions hardly represent the preferential treatment Jizya is supposed to offer, as A&W put it.
And so I strongly support the call of A&W and the campaign being waged by Barnabas Aid for both Canada and the UN to become realistic. A&W urge, “It is time for both Canada and the UN to join the international consensus, supported by a majority of the Canadian people at a rate of two to one in our recent K of C-Leger poll.” As a Canadian I will be extremely embarrassed if our Government were to renege on this life-and-death issue for thousands of people. If there is no change at this front, I will definitely campaign against the Federal Government on basis of this offensive indifference during any future election. I will help arouse the Christian community against them in my writings. It is one more spike in the coffin of death with which the politicians of almost all parties are saddling our country, the others being easy abortion and easy assisted suicide along with the more general ones of poverty and injustice.
Though I am always wary of one-issue politics, the matter of life and death trumps all other issues in importance along with poverty and injustice.  Come to think of it, when you lump these “few” issues together, you’re really talking a pretty wide umbrella of issues that can hardly be considered “single-issue” stuff. I am aware this could leave me a political orphan without a party to vote for. I may be left to vote for the least of all evils, a position that an increasing number of Canadian Christians find themselves in.

Though I drift in this post from the specific issue of genocide of Christians to more general politics, what I want you to take away from it is first of all the genocide issue. That’s my issue for today.  It is more than an “issue” for thousands of Christians in the Middle East; for them it is indeed literally an issue of life and death that goes far beyond mere politics. We need to press the Government of Canada to recognize and declare ISIS genocide of Middle Eastern Christians and others of various persuasions. Does the pretty face of our current PM mask an attitude of indifference to the lot of the most vulnerable and, thus, of an underlying cruelty? I leave the answer to you.