Christians generally oppose the War on Terror. In recent years, however, increasing attempts are being made by media outlets to stoke religious conflict. The message herein: “don’t be fooled.”
The year is 2001. Its not long after the 9/11 attacks. I am watching a discussion on ABC while living in the States. A Palestinian refugee tells Ted Coppell about his torture at the hands of Israeli security services, including sexual humiliation. The man is a cleric, a Christian cleric, with a large beard and wearing religious attire peculiar to Middle East Christians.
Its 2003. Many people I know are enthusiastic about the invasion of Iraq. “Hey,” I say, “do you know about 10% of Iraq are Christian? That the VP of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, is a Christian? That the Christians will be victims of the war as much as Muslims?”
It’s maybe 2005/6. I am reading Robert Papes Dying to Win, a scholarly study into suicide bombings. In it I read that the Lebanese group Hezbollah drew support from Christians in South Lebanon, some of whom even volunteered for operations against Israel. Their voluntary sacrifices arose from feelings of nationalism and a shared history with the Muslims of South Lebanon.
Its 2011. The war-mongers want Assad to go. 10% of Syria is Christian. Read what I have said earlier about Iraq.
Now, I am not making the point that the Christians in the Mid-East are somehow superior to the others there and that the life of a Christian is worth 100 times the life of a Muslim. The point being made is that there is selective grief being shown to Christians, depending on who kills them or puts them in harm’s way. Media organisations like Fox News in the US or the Daily Mail in the UK will grieve long and hard over Christians like the French priest Jacques Hamel if they are killed by ‘them.’ At the same time, they do not highlight the persecution of Christians by Israel or deaths of Christians in Lebanon or Syria that have occurred over decades. Especially ironic was the support by large sections of the media for the secular Turkish forces during the recent coup. It was the secular government who expelled the Christians of Anatolia which comprised 20% of the population of Turkey (1 in 5) during the Islamic Caliphate but who, after the 1920s, dwindled to negligible levels.
A further hypocrisy by such organisations is the undoubted sectarianism of their attacks on Muslims. Surely if they decry attacks on Christians by Muslims they should similarly decry attacks by Christian-majority countries on Muslims if – as in the case of Iraq – such attacks are clearly sectarian in nature and not about securing a state from attack. Also, many of the pointed attacks they make on Muslims, e.g. the role of women in Islam, could be easily made against Eastern Christians. Eastern Christians are quite traditionalist in outlook and less likely to subscribe to the ‘pop-culture’ Christianity affecting Western Christendom. So the intolerance is towards Middle-Easterners in general, regardless of faith.
Despite the efforts of Fox, the Daily Mail, and others, there yet remain a majority of Christians globally who reject the sectarianism of the War on Terror and who see it as an unjust campaign against the poor and wretched of the world. Pope John Paul II was an especially harsh critic of the Iraq war. Curiously I was in Pakistan when the Pontiff died and the press there recorded his death with a great deal of respect.
However, media outlets and establishment think-tanks – sometimes liberal but often conservative – will continue to play on religious sensitivities to promote invasions, regine changes, attacks on civil liberties, and an all-enveloping banking and financial system. Only don’t be fooled. As has been demonstrated here, the crocodile tears by these people aren’t been shed out of concern for Christian blood but really are a component of the ‘divide and rule’ ethic poisoning the globe. If these news organizations are concerned about the lives of their Christian brethren they need to condemn a War on Terror which affecrs those of all faiths in the Mid-East region and whose fires are spreading to European countries.