REFLECTIONS

Posted on January 1, 2012

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CHRISTIANS SUFFER UNDER MUSLIM RULE

As we begin the New Year, unrest in the Middle Eas and the future of Christians and their religion there is uncertain.

It may have been fashionable to call the latest uprising and revolts in the Middle East as an “Arab Spring,” but Islam’s groups have emerged as powerful, political forces. And the future is unclear as to the shape of the governments that will rule in the Middle East as well as the implications they will have on non-Muslims. This includes Israel which has a treaty with Egypt that may change.

Western-friendly governments that have been toppled have surpressed religious extremists for a long time. And in doing so, they have managed to protect various levels of the freedom of religion and worship. Now it seems many governments, directly or indirectly, will be run by Islamic groups, some with the intention to implement Sharia law, which would have negative consequences to others.

Sharia law stands top restrict the civil rights of non-Muslims and could include rules regarding the building of churches. In October, Egyptian Coptic Christians protested a string of attacks on churches and Christian properties. Members of the Egyptian military fired into the protest and plowed through it in vehicles. At least 24 people died.

Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population.

Egypt is not the only country where Christians are vulnerable. We need only to look at Iraq and Syria.

American interests in the Middle East are complex, where oil, the Israel-Palestinian conflict and powerful Islamic lobby are influential. But American and Middle East communities have the numbers to influence the future.

As we pray for peace and harmony with all the other religious rites, we hope the U.S. will continue to be the champion of the freedom of religion, worship and human rights.

Otherwise, the Arab Spring democratization movement will turn into an Arab Winter of destruction of the values important to the U.S.

What is the Middle East without Christianity and the Holy Land without Christians?

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