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PRUDEN: An evil wind in the Arab Spring

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

We've "enjoyed" the Arab Spring, celebrated by one and nearly all. But if you're a Christian under the wheels of an Egyptian army truck, it looks a lot like winter.

Compassion fatigue runs endemic in the West. The rest of the world succumbs to the temptation to tune out the news from the Islamic world, because news of "the religion of peace" (as George W. Bush famously called it in the wake of Sept. 11) is nearly always bad.

The horrific details of what happened in Cairo on a Sunday night in early autumn has only slowly dribbled out in the days since, and mostly through the work of freelancers, an occasional columnist, and bloggers working on the scene at considerable risk to life and limb. The big news organizations have been occupied elsewhere - covering the continuing Michael Jackson inquest, the latest celebrity sighting in Hollywood, who's up and who's down among the Republican presidential impersonators.

The Egyptian government, the one we've been told is the one we've been waiting for, succeeded for a time in suppressing the news, portraying the Christian protests against Muslim church-burnings as a brutal attack on brave and innocent soldiers. The government said only that three soldiers were killed in trying to keep order, and nothing about dozens of dead Christians.

Almost no one in the West seems bothered. "It is unclear what either Western governments or Western churches think they are achieving by turning a blind eye to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world," observes Caroline B. Glick, a deputy editor of the Jerusalem Post, writing in the Jewish World Review.

She cites Coptic sources in Cairo for the details of how Christian protesters were beset by Islamic thugs backed by the Egyptian army, how up to 40 Christians "were run over by military vehicles, beaten, shot and dragged through the streets of Cairo."

The massacre was observed firsthand on the streets by Sarah Carr, a resourceful freelance correspondent: "And then it happened: An [armored personnel carrier] mounted the island in the middle of the road, like a maddened animal on a rampage. I saw a group of people disappear, sucked underneath it. It drove over them. I wasn't able to see what happened to them because it then started coming in my direction. ... The Coptic Hospital tried its best to deal with the sudden influx of casualties. Its floors were sticky with blood and there was barely room to move among the wounded, the worried and the inconsolable."

Massacres of Christians go athwart the story line of the great Islamic peoples' revolution, the so-called "Arab Spring," which it turns out is nothing like the "Prague Spring" on which it was modeled in the imaginations of weepy sentimentalists in the West. Robert Gates, who was then the chief at the Pentagon, assured everyone that the Egyptian army had "conducted itself in exemplary fashion" and "made a contribution to the evolution of democracy." The uprising in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the British Broadcasting Corp. assured everyone, was proof that "Egypt's religious tensions have been set aside," with Muslims and Christians (and maybe even the odd and foolish Jew) joining forces in anti-government solidarity. But months later, the Egyptian military has lost whatever good will it had, except in the West where fantasy reigns unchallenged.

Sad to say, the West is complicit in the Islamic persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world. When Bechara Rai, the patriarch of Maronite Catholic Christians in Lebanon, went to Paris to warn President Nicolas Sarkozy that the overthrow of the Assad regime by opposition forces dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood could lead to a harsh Islamist regime, eager to massacre Christians, he was all but invited to leave town. The French Foreign Ministry said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the patriarch.

From Paris, the patriarch was meant to travel to Washington to see President Obama, but his visit was abruptly canceled when the White House learned of the patriarch's politically incorrect warning. Mr. Obama, who never sees a Muslim potentate without bowing low enough to bang his head on the floor, was eager to avoid the patriarch lest meeting him offend harsh Muslim regimes.

Saddest of all is that self-satisfied pastors, priests, prelates, bishops and assorted other divines in the West have been uninterested in speaking up for their fellow Christians marooned in the Islamic world. Fear, indifference and cowardice reign.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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