One month before the invasion of Iraq, Riah Abu el-Assal, a Palestinian and the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, warned Tony Blair, “You will be responsible for emptying Iraq, the homeland of Abraham, of Christians.”
The bishop proved a prophet. “After almost 2,000 years,” “Iraqi Christians now openly contemplate extinction. Some of their prelates even counsel flight.”
Across the middle east Christians, the minorities, in places like Egypt and Syria are facing an uncertain future. They have become the untended consequence of the Arab spring.
Throughout the world the Western nations, and the U.S. in particular, are insisting on democracy as being the most desirable system for government. But the effect of democracy in many countries is “winner take all” since there is only one President elected. If you are a tribe or a religion or any other group competing for power you cannot afford to lose. It can cost you your livelihood or your life. It is our understanding that the Sultans of the MIddle East often “consult” with leaders of other tribes, perhaps fostering a more tolerant attitude than a democracy with one President who in less politically developed nations may have absolute power. It is something we and the United States government need to think through, rather than reflexively support the latest uprising.
In Syria, Christians make up 10 percent of the population and are closely allied with the Assad family. In Egypt, with the fall of the Mubarak regime, Islamist attacks on Coptic Christians have begun. With the possibility of Shariah Law and the election of the Muslim Brotherhood, their fate will be sealed.
What will happen to Arab Christians when a long-repressed Muslim Majority comes into power? This is something President Obama should contemplate. The United States is a Christian nation. His thoughts should start there.