Rising “Islamophobia” is a threat to peace and coexistence in a multi-cultural and diverse world, the chief of thesaid here Friday as he extended support to the right to self-determination in Kashmir in accordance with the UN resolution to solve the 60-year-old dispute between India and Pakistan.Addressing foreign ministers and other participants from the West and Islamic countries in an international summit, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the political dialogue among civilisations was a must.
“It is important for the civilisations to understand cultural, religious and ethnic differences, without which mutual coexistence is impossible,” Ihsanoglu said in his address to ‘Common World: Progress through Diversity’ in this Kazakhstan capital.
The international summit here was held in the backdrop of a widening gap between the Muslim and Western worlds.
“Islamophobia, targeting Muslims, is on the rise in the world,” he said, adding “Islamophobia not only stands in front of the Muslims, but the whole humanity.”
“Women wearing hijab are vulnerable to attacks by those who project Muslims as a threat to European existence,” he said.
“Stability, peace and security in the world are inseparable from each other. Muslims are psychologically, economically and socially affected by Islamophobia. Such a dramatic situation is a segregation based on race and religion,” the OIC chief said.
He said Islam is a religion of peace and advocated reconciliatory measures between Muslims and Christians.
Foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) yesterday expressed grave concern at the rising tide of discrimination and intolerance against Muslims, especially in Europe and North America. “It is something that has assumed xenophobic proportions,” they said in unison.
Speaking at a special brainstorming session on the sidelines of the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM), the foreign ministers termed Islamophobia the worst form of terrorism and called for practical steps to counter it.
The ministers described Islamophobia as a deliberate defamation of Islam and discrimination and intolerance against Muslims. “This campaign of calumny against Muslims resulted in the publication of the blasphemous cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a Danish newspaper and the issuance of the inflammatory statement by Pope Benedict XVI,” they said. During a speech in Germany last year, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things. The Pope’s remarks aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world.
“The increasingly negative political and media discourse targeting Muslims and Islam in the United States and Europe has made things all the more difficult,” the foreign ministers said. “Islamophobia became a source of concern, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but the phenomenon was already there in Western societies in one form or the other,” they pointed out. “It gained further momentum after the Madrid and London bombings. The killing of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004 was used in a wicked manner by certain quarters to stir up a frenzy against Muslims,” the ministers pointed out. Van Gogh had made a controversial film about Muslim culture.
The OIC foreign ministers deplored the misrepresentation in the Western media of Islam and Muslims in the context of terrorism. “The linkage of terrorists and extremists with Islam in a generalized manner is unacceptable,” they said. “This is further inciting negative sentiments and hatred in the West against Muslims,” they said. The ministers also pointed out that whenever the issue of Islamophobia was discussed in international forums, the Western bloc, particularly some members of the European Union, tried to avoid discussing the core issue and instead diverted the attention from their region to the situation of non-Muslims and human rights in the OIC member states.
The foreign ministers said prejudices against Islam were not helping the situation. “Because of Islamophobia, millions of Muslims in the Western countries, many of whom were already underprivileged in their societies for a variety of reasons, are further alienated and targeted by hatred and discrimination.”
Discrimination against Muslims is certainly a growing problem. We are all familiar with the stories of Muslims being unable to practice their faith freely. Mobs have burned down mosques in many places. Christians and Jews who convert to Islam are often harassed and threatened with death unless they return to their original faith. Muslims who proselytize are imprisoned. In some places Muslims must flee their homelands to save their lives.
Oh, wait. None of that is happening. Actually, all of that is happening, only not to Muslims. Everything I have said above is part of everyday life if you happen to be a non-Muslim, especially a Christian, in a Muslim country. This article from To the Source tells what is happening in the real world.
Marzieh Amirizadeh spent 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison – witnessing firsthand the horrifying reality of a “global humanitarian crisis” largely ignored by the media and the world’s democratic nations.
“One of the worst things (I saw) was the execution of two of my fellow prisoners,” recalls Amirizadeh, 32, who was accused by the Iranian state with being an “anti-government activist,” a charge that masks the real reason behind the imprisonment – her faith in Jesus Christ.
“I had never experienced such a thing. One of those killed was my roommate. We had spent a lot of time together. And one day they took her to be executed. For a week I was in shock that killing a human being was so easy.
“After these executions the spirit of sorrow and death hung over the prison. There was deadly silence everywhere. We all felt this. The sadness was overwhelming. We stared at each other but had no power to speak. It was horrifying and tangible.”
Amirizadeh’s experience is part of what experts say is a growing “humanitarian catastrophe” that dwarfs recent ones in Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Haiti and other nations. More than 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Jesus, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation.
In Egypt and France, the increases were mainly the result of government restrictions. Restrictions on religion were particularly common in the 59 countries that prohibit blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion. While such laws are sometimes promoted as a way to protect religion, in practice they often serve to punish religious minorities such as Christians whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox or heretical.
“Christians are harassed in the largest number of countries,” says Brian Grim, a senior researcher at Pew.
The Middle East and North Africa had the largest proportion of countries in which government restrictions on religion increased. Egypt, in particular, ranked very high – in the top 5 percent of all countries in 2009 – on both government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion.
“There are a few patterns we can point to,” Grim says. “One is that in the Middle East and North Africa where government restrictions on religion are already high, and the highest of the five regions of the world we looked at, we saw substantial increases of up to 30 percent.”
Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, persecution of Christians has intensified with church burnings and slaughters in Iraq, Egypt, Iran and other nations, Farr says.
Eight of the top 10 countries on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians have Islamic governments while 38 of the top 50 are Muslim-dominated societies. A study by Open Doors found about 2,000 Christians – the most of any nation – were killed in Nigeria in 2010 in religious riots involving Islamic extremists.
Iraq came in second as the country with the largest number of martyrs in 2010 with 90 Christians murdered. The worst atrocity occurred Oct. 31 in Baghdad when Islamic extremists held hostage and then killed at least 58 Syrian Catholics as they met for a Sunday evening mass in the Cathedral of our Lady of Deliverance. Tens of thousands of Christians are fleeing Iraq. The number of Christians in Iraq has dropped in half to 334,000 since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
“Christians are caught in the crosshairs,” says Jerry Dykstra, spokesman for Open Doors USA. “We thought in Iraq that Christians would have more freedom, but that is not the case at all. In fact, more Christians are fleeing Iraq than ever before.”
The persecution of Christians seems to be bad in Communist countries like China, North Korea, and Vietnam, most likely due to their governments’ continued anti-religious policies.
Chinese Christians have experienced six years of “escalating persecution” from the government, not only those who attend house churches, but those at government-sanctioned churches too, says Mark Shan, spokesman for the China Aid Association.
One of the largest cases of persecution occurred in September 2009 when 400 police and government officials descended upon the Linfen house church in Shanxi, demolished the building and clashed with hundreds of the church’s 50,000 members. Dozens were severely beaten and more than 30 were hospitalized. Nearly a dozen church leaders were sentenced to prison or labor camps.
“The means of persecution includes detention, fines, labor camps and prison sentences – or mafia methods such as beatings and disappearances,” Shan says. “But the house church movement in China is getting bigger and stronger through persecutions, and Christianity is growing rapidly. Christian faith will overcome any restrictions and hostilities and transform Chinese society. No one can stop that. We may see that happen in this generation.”
Persecution is also very bad throughout the Middle-East and North Africa. I am not at all sure why. These countries are not Communist. In fact they are all known to be very religious. Islam is the dominant religion there, but as Islam is a religion of peace that respects everyone’s beliefs, I am mystified. Perhaps the answer will come to me.
For some reason, this persecution is not getting much attention in the mainstream media. This is something that has to change and Christians in the United States need to get involved in this fight for freedom.