I hope everyone who is reading this is having a very, merry Christmas and that you are all having a wonderful time with your families. As you celebrate this joyous holiday, keep in mind that Christmas is a time of fear for Christians in the Middle East. There are a couple of articles at Jihad Watch that I think are worth sharing.
First, Christmas in Pakistan. This article is from Deutches Wille.
Christians celebrate Christmas amid growing fear of persecution and rampant economic and social discrimination in Muslim-majority Pakistan. The year 2012 was one of the worst years for them in the country.
In many parts of the world, Christmas means a time of celebration. But for Christians in Pakistan, who live under constant fear of persecution by the state and majority Sunni Muslims, there is not much to celebrate.
Christians make up about two percent of the 180 million people living in Pakistan. Rights organizations say that like any other religious minority, they face legal and cultural discrimination in the Islamic Republic.
Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population is Muslim. Controversial blasphemy laws introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s make life for Christians more difficult. Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas; they say the Christians are thereby often victimized.
Before the rise of Islamic extremism and religious intolerance in Pakistan, Christians celebrated Christmas with much enthusiasm. They would put stars on their houses and decorate their towns with lights and flags. But many now worry about the risk of being conspicuous.
“We are scared. We are frightened. We cannot sit together, we cannot speak loudly, we cannot celebrate openly. We receive threats,” Ashraf Masih, a street sweeper, told AFP. “If we sit together and talk, all of a sudden the Muslim owner of the house will come and ask ‘Why are you here, what are you talking about?'”
Qadri was celebrated by extremists for the murder of a governor critical of blasphemy laws
Aslam Masih, a 37-year-old gardener, told AFP in an interview that previously they used to celebrate Christmas in the town church but now it it had been closed.
Here is Robert Spencer’s piece at PJ Media on the jihad against Christmas.
Armed guards are patrolling outside churches in Nigeria. Christians in Pakistan and Indonesia are cowering in fear. Why? Because it’s Christmastime.
Many Muslims take a dim view of Christmas at best, and at worst actively menace Christians celebrating it. This is a worldwide phenomenon. Sheikh Yahya Safi, the head imam of Australia’s largest mosque, summed up an all-too-common view when he warned in a fatwa Saturday that “disbelievers are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path,” and that “a Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate the Christmas Day nor is he allowed to congratulate them.”
Likewise the chairman of Indonesia’s top organization of Muslim clerics declared: “It’s better if they don’t say ‘Merry Christmas.’ It’s still up for debate whether it’s halal or haram, so better steer clear of it. But you can say ‘Happy New Year.’”
Muslim intimidation and violence against Christians around Christmas is only an extension of the intimidation and violence Chrisitans increasingly suffer throughout the year. Yet these incidents have received only scant attention in the mainstream media. And not only the international media, but also the human rights establishment and the United Nations continue to take virtually no notice. In their conceptual framework only Westerners can do evil and Christians cannot possibly play the role of victim. The chimera of “Islamophobia” consumes their time, attention, and resources; after being so consumed with this fiction, what can be left over for the actual persecution of Christians?
And so for the all-too-real Christian victims of Muslim fanaticism and hatred in Islamic lands, it’s yet another quiet, hushed, precarious Christmas.
And last, Christianity began in the Middle East yet the religion is close to being extinct there. Centuries of discrimination and intimidation ave decimated the oldest Christian communities in the world. Jihad Watch has an article from the Telegraph on this.
The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.
And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.
It warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.
The report, by the think tank Civitas, says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree.
“A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”
It cites estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”
“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood,” says the author, Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.
He adds: “The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”
And yet Islamophobia is supposed to be a major problem of our time. If you are not afraid of the most violent and intolerant religion in the world than you are not paying attention to what is going on.
Merry Christmas to all. Hopefully Christmas will be a time of joy for everyone sometime soon.