Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Necessity Of Protecting The Middle East's Christians

By Randa Takieddine
This comment was published by al-Hayat on 3/11/2010
The attack on the Saydat Najat church in Baghdad was horrific. It was monstrous terrorism, which felled 52 people, from among the worshippers and guards at the church, in order to frighten the Christians in Iraq and prompt them to leave their country. The phenomenon of terror that targets the Christians of the east began decades ago in this region of the world. We should note the huge anxiety that possessed the late Palestinian official Faisal Husseini. When he visited France, he insisted on meeting the then-bishop of France Lustiger, to tell him that the most dangerous thing taking place in the east, and especially Jerusalem, was the attempt by Israel to expel Christians from that city, so that the Jewish state could justify its control, as the guardian of the west’s security against extremist Islam.

The terror that targeted the church in Baghdad is completely removed from any religion or moral principles. It is an extremist terror that is generated by barbaric Israeli actions in Palestinian cities and in Jerusalem.

The perpetrator of the attack on the church in Baghdad, who blew himself up, in the name of a group claiming to be Islam was a desperate person who was the tool of crime and blind extremism. The statements by Muslim clergymen in Saudi Arabia and in Lebanon, who condemned the hateful crime, were something positive and needed. However, we also need clear and necessary policies to protect the Christians throughout the east. The displacement of Palestinians from east to west is a worrying factor in this region of the world. First, because they are members of the same country, wherever they live, and coexistence among religions, where they are located, is of fundamental importance to the security of the state to which they belong. In addition to forcing them to leave or displacing them is an official Israeli policy, which leads to the displacement because of Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Iraq, which has been ground down by wars and terror, should be a symbol of religious coexistence. However, a civil and sectarian war threatens the country’s unity and future. The same anxiety exists in Lebanon, where there are profound political disputes and the security incidents that might result are a big danger to the country’s future. The situation also scares Christians, who are members of this country, like all Lebanese. Certainly, eliminating sectarianism in the countries of the Middle East with diverse sects is the best way to build states that are both real and safe.

How long with Lebanese remain under the protection of their sects, instead of a real state, that takes responsibility for guaranteeing a dignified life for all of its sects? How long will the sects in Iraq remain subject to a divided and unstable political situation, and a deteriorating security situation? How long will the Copts in Egypt be oppressed? Sectarianism is fatal to the future of any country, as it is frightening and worrying for its security. There is the more dangerous scenario of opening the door to blind terror for its people, who become human bombs more easily.

Clergymen in the Middle East have a great responsibility to educate the members of these sects to stay away from extremism and murderous chauvinism and coexist with other sects. The determination for Christians to remain in the east should be a priority, and here lies the importance of the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah, to undertake the initiative of a dialogue among religions, which should be strengthened and developed in a Middle East threatened by blind extremism.

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