The news media reported many incidents of attacks on churches and Christians lately. While this is of great concern in a volatile region, Israel stands out as a beacon of hope where freedom of religion is protected and entrenched in law. Although incidents of religious intolerance have taken place, the government of Israel quickly acted to stop such actions and brought the perpetrators to book.
Sadly, the opposite is true in the neighbourhood and surrounding countries which are often not reported in the main stream media. More sadly is the silence of peace activists and prominent church leaders itself, a phenomenon difficult to understand. How does one explain the silence in church circles when their brothers and sisters are attacked, intimidated and often killed? What happened to the love and compassion associated with Christianity?
The Gatestone Institute (formerly the Hudson Institute, New York), document and report attacks on Christians and churches and clearly indicate an increase in such attacks. Let us look at just a few of these incidents reported in February 2012:
Egypt: Thousands of Muslims attacked a Coptic church, demanding the death of its pastor. Some 100,000 Christian Copts fled Egypt since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime.
Syria: About 30 armed and masked Jihadists attacked a Catholic monastery, unprecedented in Syria’s modern history.
Iran: The Ministry of Intelligence of Iran has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran, to discontinue the language. Banning church use of Farsi prevents most Iranians from hearing the Gospel.
Algeria: Armed men raided and ransacked a church formally recognized since 1958. In late 2011, heaps of trash was thrown over the compound walls while an angry mob shouted death threats.
Turkey: A new report indicated that Christians in Turkey continue to suffer attacks from private citizens, discrimination by lower-level government officials and vilification in both school textbooks and news media.
Pakistan: A Christian student who missed the grade to get into medical school by less than 0.1% would have earned 20 extra points if he had memorized the Quran, but no bonus points were allowed for having similar knowledge of the Bible.
Somalia: The group Al-Shabaab beheaded a 26 year old Muslim convert to Christianity who had worked for a Christian humanitarian organization.
Israel: Some 50 Palestinian Muslims stoned a group of Christian tourists atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, wounding three Israeli police officers in the process.
These are only a few examples of intolerance towards Christians and statistics indicate that it is on the rise. It is in light of this information that I regard the deafening silence amongst prominent and iconic Christian leaders unacceptable and thus ironic that those same people brand Israel as an Apartheid state.
If hypocrisy is part of Christianity, how could non-Christians respect Christianity?