Herland Report: Islamist Persecution of Christians: In light of the recent conversion of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to a Mosque, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood intolerance towards religious plurality again becomes apparent.
Hagia Sophia is a center piece artwork of Orthodox Christianity, which dominated the Middle East before the Islamic Conquest from the 600s AD onward.
In 1453, Mehmed II, who conquered Constantinople and marked the end of the Christian East Roman Byzantine Empire, turned Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
After the Islamic Conquest of the Christian Middle East, the Ottomans built the four minarets we see today. They also covered Hagia Sophia’s Christian icons and gold mosaics, partly by installing massive Islamic Calligraphy panels over it.
Protests have been made over Turkey turning the monument into a mosque: “An organization supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has asked President Trump to intervene in a case where Turkey might turn a historic Istanbul church building into a mosque,” writes Aleteia.org. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, when contacted by Aleteia, said June 18 that it did not have a comment.
But the Archons’ letter to Trump warned that the plan to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque directly challenges religious freedom.
“It is part of ongoing efforts to delegitimize the remaining Christian population of Turkey, further eroding their religious freedom, and to obliterate a significant element of the Christian heritage of Turkey and the surrounding region, as well as of the entire world,” read the letter, signed by Limberakis:
“Converting Hagia Sophia Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to a mosque would render it the patrimony of one nation, an unjust and provocative act as this historic site truly belongs to the world.”
Islamist Persecution of Christians: The past years, we have seen a near genocide of Christians in the Middle East.
Islamic scholar and bestselling author of Egyptian heritage, Raymond Ibrahim, a regular contributor to The Herland Report, is fluent in Arabic, examines the Arab news press and creates articles for a Western audience in English.
The material he uncovers, often represents the very opposite of what we hear in the Western press.
Read his account of the ongoing Christian persecution under the Palestinian Authority, in Gaza and the West Bank.
First, itthree anecdotes of persecution of Christians, all of which were back-to-back, and none of which were reported by so-called “mainstream media.” Summaries follow:
- : “[T]he terrified residents of the Christian village of Jifna near Ramallah … were attacked by Muslim gunmen … after a woman from the village a complaint to the police that the son of a prominent, Fatah-affiliated leader had attacked her family. In response, dozens of Fatah gunmen came to the village, fired hundreds of bullets in the air, threw petrol bombs while shouting curses, and caused severe damage to public property. It was a miracle that there were no dead or wounded.”
- : “Vandals broke into a church of the Maronite community in the center of Bethlehem, desecrated it, and stole expensive equipment belonging to the church, including the security cameras…. [T]his is the time the Maronite church in Bethlehem has been subjected to acts of vandalism and theft, including an arson attack in 2015 that caused considerable damage and forced the church to close for a lengthy period.”
- : “[I]t was the turn of the Anglican church in the village of Aboud, west of Ramallah. Vandals cut through the fence, broke the windows of the church, and broke in. They desecrated it, looked for valuable items, and stole a great deal of equipment.”
Islamist Persecution of Christians: These, which occurred over the course of three weeks, fit the same pattern of abuse that Christians in other Muslim majority regions habitually experience.
While the desecration and plundering of churches is prevalent, so too are Muslim mob risings against Christian minorities—who tend to be perceived as dhimmis, or second-class “citizens,” who should be grateful to receive any toleration at all—whenever they dare speak up for their rights, as in the village of Jifna on April 25:
“[T]he rioters” in Jifna, the jizya—a head tax that was levied throughout history on non-Muslim minorities under Islamic rule. The most recent victims of the jizya were the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria under ISIS rule.”relates, “called on the [Christian] residents to pay
Moreover, as often happens whenever Christian minorities are attacked in Muslim majority nations, “Despite the [Christian] residents’ cries for help” , “the PA police did not intervene during the hours of mayhem. They have not arrested any suspects.” , “no suspects were arrested” in the two church attacks.
In short, Palestinian Christians are suffering from the same patterns of persecution—including kidnappings and forced conversion—that their coreligionists suffer in other Muslim nations. The difference, however, is that the Islamic Persecution of Palestinian Christians has “received no coverage in the Palestinian media. In fact,” Cohan , “a full gag order was imposed in many cases”:,
The only thing that interests the PA is that events of this kind not be leaked to the media. Fatah regularly exerts heavy pressure on Christians not to report the acts of violence and vandalism from which they frequently suffer, as such publicity could damage the PA’s image as an actor capable of protecting the lives and property of the Christian minority under its rule.
Even less does the PA want to be depicted as a radical entity that persecutes religious minorities. That image could have negative repercussions for the massive international, and particularly European, aid the PA receives.
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Islamist Persecution of Christians: Considered another way, the bread and butter of the PA and its supporters, particularly in the media, is to portray the Palestinians as victims of unjust aggression and discrimination from Israel.
This narrative would be jeopardized if the international community learned that Palestinians are themselves persecuting fellow Palestinians—solely on account of religion.
That there is a systemic Islamic Persecution of Palestinian Christians. It might be hard to muster sympathy for a supposedly oppressed people when one realizes that they themselves are doing the oppressing of the minorities in their midst, and for no other reason that religious bigotry.
Because they are so sensitive to this potential difficulty, “PA officials exert pressure on local Christian[s] to not report such incidents, which threaten to unmask the Palestinian Authority as yet another Middle East regime beholden to a radical Islamic ideology,” Cohen states elsewhere:
Far more important to the Palestinian Authority than arresting those who assault Christian sites is keeping such incidents out of the mainstream media.
And they are very successful in this regard. Indeed, only a handful of smaller local outlets bothered to report on these latest break-ins. The mainstream international media ignored them altogether.
Notably, a similar dynamic exists concerning Muslim refugees. Although West European politicians and media present them as persecuted and oppressed, in need of a welcoming hand, Muslim migrants themselves persecute and oppress Christian minorities among them—including by terrorizing them in refugee camps and drowning them in the Mediterranean.
Even mere numbers—which are inherently objective—confirm that Christians living under the PA are experiencing some unpleasantry that Muslims are not: although there were approximately 3,500 Christians in the Gaza Strip in 2007, there are now reportedly no more than 500-1,300.
As Justus Reid Weiner, a lawyer acquainted with the region, explains, “The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs… In a society where Arab Christians have no voice and no protection it is no surprise that they are leaving.”
Indeed, Christianity is, by all counts, on the verge of disappearing in the place of its birth—literally, as this includes Bethlehem, scene of the Nativity—thereby giving the otherwise seasonally relevant words, “Silent Night,” a more tragic meaning.