The Silent Spectre of Religious Cleansing

April 2010

Christian persecution is certainly nothing new. The rise of Islamic extremism is putting increasing pressure on Christians in Muslim countries, where they are routinely victims of murder, violence, and discrimination. Christians are now considered the most persecuted religious group around the world. To say that in recent months and years the number of attacks on Christians — their homes, churches, convents, schools, and orphanages — in certain parts of the world is alarming would be an understatement.

In some cases the incidents were politically motivated. In Iraq, the weeks leading up to the March 7 general elections were marked by a spate of anti-Christian attacks. Bombings and shootings were recorded almost daily in the northern city of Mosul, home to the longstanding struggle for territory and power between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. The minority Christians' vote was thought to be the primary motivating factor in this particular case. The United Nations reported that more than 680 Christian families have fled Mosul due to the recent attacks. Nevertheless, the persecution of Iraqi Christians is more often religiously motivated. The general message to Christians: Leave Mosul or convert to Islam. In fact, in recent years most Christian families have left Mosul and live as refugees in other parts of the country or in Syria.

Elsewhere, as in Iraq, politics is seldom the primary motivating factor. Typically, we're talking about religious persecution in predominantly Muslim countries. Anti-Christian violence in Pakistan makes headlines every week — at least in the Asian press. Last year, for example, 125 Christians were charged with "blasphemy" in Pakistan. Many of those already sentenced are on death row. Their only crime: Saying or doing something perceived to be an insult to Islam. In March, a Christian couple was sentenced to 25 years in prison under the blasphemy law for allegedly touching the Koran without first washing their hands (, Mar. 3), a dubious charge that the Catholic Church in Pakistan disputes.

Aside from state-sanctioned anti-Christian persecution, anti-Christian hate crimes often go unpunished. In late February, for example, 150 Muslims stormed the streets of Karachi, attacking Christian churches, shops, and homes in the city's only predominantly Christian neighborhood. The result: Forty Christians were accused groundlessly of beating Muslim men, abusing Muslim women and girls, and ransacking and looting Muslim homes. Many of these innocent Christians were arrested for one reason alone: to intimidate the Christian community. Also in February, Pakistani Christians protested the release of a Muslim lawyer accused of raping, torturing, and killing a 12-year-old Catholic girl employed in his household as a domestic worker. Such cases in Pakistan are de rigueur.

You have two options:

  1. Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
  2. Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.

If you're already a subscriber log-in here.

New Oxford Notes: April 2010

Read our posting policy Add a comment
The Increasing Tolerance of Increasing Intolerance

The problem with our benevolent tolerance of the most abhorrent acts of intolerance toward Christians, both in rabidly militant Islam and the equally rabid militantly secular "West" is that this terribly clear existential contradiction --- our "tolerance" of the extinction of a culture of tolerance --- is cultural suicide.

Catholicism? Christianity? Collateral damage through policy and complicity at the highest levels, policy both defined by, and as the brutal expression of, the imposition of secularism as the summum bonum.

That radical Islam --- which is to say, Islam at large --- has as little tolerance of secularism as it has of Christianity, is rigorously suppressed, despite the fact that the purely secular impulse from which it derives will be the next victim both of Islam and its own indifference. Some call this "tolerance", others call it "correctitude" --- and both, clearly are euphemisms for madness.

G.K. Mondello
Posted by:
April 07, 2010 09:21 AM EDT
Perhaps it's becoming time for the Church Militant to become more so. Posted by: james huffaker
April 16, 2010 10:24 PM EDT
Add a comment