- - Monday, September 2, 2013

The president’s moral outrage doesn’t apply to Egypt’s Christians

Amid the political turmoil in Egypt, an egregious targeted campaign of violence against Christians is being left out of the headlines.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters have reportedly paraded nuns through the streets like prisoners of war. Countless churches are being destroyed. Some that have stood for over a millennium have been forced to close their doors for the first time.

Though our political leaders attribute this targeted persecution as the unfortunate collateral damage of national conflict, these disturbing events are in reality part of a broader trend of systemic violence being perpetrated by radical Islamists across the Middle East — specifically targeting Christians.

More than 60 churches have been burned, and dozens of Christians have been attacked and killed since the military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. While Christians have long been a minority in Egypt, the persecution of Egypt’s Christian population — the largest in the Middle East — dramatically escalated under the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule and has spawned unthinkable destruction in the wake of the Brotherhood’s ouster.

The notion that this devastation is merely the result of political crossfire or the unintended consequence of civil strife is willful ignorance. Making up 10 percent of Egypt’s population, Christians are not an outside coalition of religious extremists; rather, they represent an established community of more than 8 million individuals that have managed to live peacefully with their Muslim neighbors for centuries.

Though President Obama has highlighted the plight of “religious minorities” in Egypt, calling for “respect” from all sides, he has yet to acknowledge that the principal targets of this violence are, in fact, Christians, refusing to even use the word “Christian” in his limited remarks. Worse yet, the president has refused to address the radical Islamic forces behind the targeted violence.

The White House was directly asked about this disturbing situation at a recent news conference: “With people being killed, Christians in particular being targeted, churches being destroyed, what’s the president’s red line in Egypt?” Unbelievably, the White House spokesman joked, “Well, I didn’t bring my red pen out with me today.”

Have we in America become so intent on being politically correct that we fail to condemn widespread religious intolerance in other nations? The relative inaction on the part of the White House on this grave situation seems to indicate that we would sooner joke about the systematic persecution of Christians than condemn violence perpetrated by radical Islamists.

The United States provides billions in foreign aid — military aid — to Egypt. In the face of severe human rights violations against Egyptian Christians, our government should, at the very least, act on common sense and stop all military aid. If Egypt is unwilling or unable to protect its large Christian minority population, we cannot trust it with our tax dollars, and even worse, our weapons.

Until the Obama administration is willing to remove the blinders of political correctness and address the ongoing persecution against Christians in the Middle East, nothing will change. It will only get worse.

Just last week we were all reminded about just how real Christian persecution is in the world. The Islamic Republic of Iran denied the appeal of Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen and Christian pastor, and reaffirmed his eight-year prison sentence in one of Iran’s most brutal prisons. Though Pastor Saeed has been wrongfully imprisoned for his faith for nearly a year, subjected to beatings and torture, Mr. Obama has not once personally denounced this blatant violation of a U.S. citizen’s human rights. While we appreciate Secretary of State John Kerry recently putting Pastor Saeed’s case back in the diplomatic spotlight, paper statements alone will not bring about his freedom. It is time for the president to engage his case.

Yet, Mr. Saeed is only one example in a string of human rights abuses against Christians in Muslim nations.

Mr. Obama addressed the nation last week while commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights march on Washington. Now, more than ever, he should remember King’s immortal words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

An unwillingness to address the very real issue of Christian persecution in the Middle East only perpetuates violence, and as a nation, we must be unrelenting in our protection of human rights and religious freedom. We must be unwavering in our defense of Christians against radical Islamic persecution, just as we would any other group marginalized and persecuted by an intolerant and violent majority. We must never fund regimes that stand in the way.

Jordan Sekulow is the executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ.org).

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