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A bleak outlook: Egypt’s Copts face opression under a Sharia-based consitution drawn up by the Muslim Brotherhood

When Margaret Thatcher negotiated with Communists about human rights, she had a self-imposed rule. It was to deliver the same message in private as in public. That was, and is, unusual. Politicians prefer bold and indignant speeches at home to bruising confrontations with foreign leaders face to face. But you have to do it. The reason is simple. It is because, whatever someone's ideology, he will not take you seriously as a human being if he thinks you don't really care about the causes you espouse. When the Soviet leaders understood that Ronald Reagan and Mrs Thatcher were deadly serious about the rights of people who, in Soviet eyes, didn't really matter at all, the Kremlin also grasped that Western leaders were serious about wider strategy — Afghanistan, subversion, weaponry and the rest.

The struggle against Soviet Communism and the struggle against militant Islam are different in several ways. But one lesson confirmed by the Cold War applies to today's confrontation with jihad. We know what doesn't work. We know that cynicism and timidity are as misplaced with mullahs as with commissars.

Washington and London are perfectly well aware that across the Middle East Christianity is being ruthlessly extinguished. But Western governments — particularly the governments of the US and the UK, the two countries that fought hardest for dissidents in the Cold War — remain almost entirely silent. They have tacitly decided that the sacrifice of Christian minorities is a price worth paying for smooth relations with Arab leaders. There are no runs to be scored in domestic politics either. When the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, stated in 2012 that Christianity "is the most persecuted religion worldwide", she was assailed by a storm of outrage. There is, in fact, no more to be gained by acknowledging what is happening to Christians now than there was to Jews in the 1930s. 

Parallels with the fate of Jewry must be used with caution; but in this case they are historically apt. It was clear what was developing in Central Europe long before the state-sponsored intimidation, expulsions, internments, degradations and finally death camps. Today in the Middle East, too, the forces that plan, in their own good time, but pretty shortly, to achieve Muslim societies unpolluted by unbelievers — the Jews there have already gone, of course — are largely in place. The leaders already know that nominally Christian Western countries and their governments will look the other way when the massacres, land grabs and mass expulsions start in earnest.

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May 10th, 2013
8:05 PM
@Sarah that is so much bullsh*t... I do admit Egypt's treatment of the Copts has been terrible; but let's not forget that the majority of Egyptians are very nice to them and respect them as part of the community. Their government is the most atrocious existence. In Lebanon they constitute a large amount of the population (almost as big as the sunni or shia demomination). The president is a Christian let's not forget. They're completely equal there, although they do have their own inter-sect squabbles -_- same with Muslims. Syria by far has the greatest amount of respect for Christians. There was never any differences and this goes back as far as 500 years, besides it's slightly shaky beginnings. The revolution, although Christians may have been killed, is not a direct attack on Christians themselves but rather on the Syrian civilian population. Israel has the most worst track records, are you telling me how they treat Palestinian Christians and Christians in "Israel" is good? If you are then you've sadly been misguided and some research is necessary on your part. They are treated like second class citizens, they take different paths to work, shop in different places, drive on different roads, are tormented by racist Israelis (not all of them are racist, let me make that clear). It is not Islam's aim to target other religions. And certainly not mine. My mother is a Syrian/Lebanese convert to Islam and her family are Christians from this region. They've never had any problems.

Penina Sarah
April 5th, 2013
5:04 PM
In Israel, the Christian community is not only growing, but is protected; Israel is the only country in the region which respects freedom of religion, and has not participated in demolishing its places of worship, and has even allowed new ones to be built for those in the population who have come from other places. Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, like those of the Copts, has a presence there, and is in a position to exert protection and representation on behalf of the Christian communities. Now that Russia's relationship with Israel is better than ever, this is being facilitated. In Iran, Paster Nardahani, and others were imprisoned because they were not born Christians, and only the Armenians have been considered Christians historically, but others are in danger from Shi'ite Islam.

April 5th, 2013
8:04 AM
Beside Lebanon, the only country in the region that is most respectful of Christians (albeit not all religions) is Iran. That is quite telling. Although no regional power are particularly interested in Christians, it is evident that the Sunni axis (Saudi Arabia / Turkey) is very intolerant of difference. For political expedience, it is in Christians interests to be allied with Iran/Syria/Russia. Unless someone can provide a list of historical events where the Persian empire has persecuted Christians, we generally fare better under the regime out of favour with the West right now.

April 1st, 2013
5:04 PM
which country in the mid east is the only one tjat has total religios freedom ? answear : israel !!!

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