A Jewish publisher in England makes it his mission to save 2,000 Christian families in Syria.
By Blanca Ruiz
Erbil, Iraq, Jan 9, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Emil Nona is the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, the Iraqi city overrun by the Islamic State last summer. Since then, he has brought the voice of the Christians of Iraq to the West.”For us the faith is everything. It is our life, our identity, our history and our way of life. We can’t separate ourselves from our faith in any way,” Archbishop Nona told CNA. “Our faith, which has been in this land for more than 2,000 years, cannot come to an end so easily.”
He speaks with the clarity of someone who knows that without international help soon, more of the region will become territory of the Islamic State. Christians will have to abandon Iraq for good in order to save their lives and escape persecution and they will leave behind a land where Catholics have been present for more than 2,000 years.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul said, “Most Christians plan to leave Iraq because they thought the crisis would be short-lived and after we would return to our homes, but this has not been the case. There have been no positive signs in the last six months that our land will be liberated. The Islamic State is becoming increasingly stronger.”
No plans for liberation
Although shortages are widespread in Iraq, thanks to Aid to the Church in Need shelter is being provided for more than 120,000 displaced Christians in northern Iraq. There temperatures in the winter drop to single digits, and so large tents have been set up so families can come together and stay warm. Space is limited but the people are grateful not to be exposed to the elements.
In addition, help from Aid to the Church in Need made it possible for thousands of refugee children to receive a Christmas present, and plans are underway to set up schools so that children can continue studying until the situation becomes normal again.
The shortages are widespread, but what this group of Christians lacks most isn’t material things, but hope, as there are no signs things will improve.
“They have lost faith in their land, where they have lived for thousands of years. They have lost faith in Muslim society because they helped loot our homes. Now they live in waiting, not knowing what is going to happen. The only thing they haven’t lost is their Christian faith. We are proud because none of the 120,000 people in this area has converted to Islam,” the archbishop explained.
Faced with the choice of converting to Islam or death, the Christians of Mosul have preferred to die rather than deny the faith.
In this desperate situation, Christians there do not complain or cry out to God for justice. “When something like this happens, we in the East thank God for everything. Because we know well that man is the cause of this problem, not God. In this situation, the existence of God is more necessary than ever, the presence of God is more powerful,” Archbishop Nona said.
“When there is such brutal violence on the part of man, the presence of God is even stronger, because He is good. We believe even more, because it is more necessary than ever to believe amidst a situation as extreme as this one.”
The question of where is God in this persecution is a question “only you in the West pose. In the East we never ask that question. For us faith is enmeshed with our identity and the faith cannot be separated from our identity.”
These martyrs of the faith only ask that the rest of the world not forget about them, about their suffering, about the injustice they have endured each day for more than six months. For this reason, whenever they receive help it means much more than just a solution to the lack of shelter or food.
“This aid is not only material but also shows that other Christians have not forgotten about us and experience the needs of Christians in Iraq as their own. We cannot ask them to stay in their land suffering if we do not help,” Archbishop Nona said.
“We can’t know what will happen but up to now we have not seen any positive signs that our land and peoples will be liberated. Islamic militants are in the city of Mosul, on the Nineveh plain, in much of Iraq, but the Iraqi army does nothing to liberate these lands. We do not know the exact reason why we are not liberated and why there are only air raids. Up to now we haven’t seen any region liberated, much less any plans for liberation,” Archbishop Nona said.
Radicalization in Iraq since 2003 read more via
Rumsfeld referred to “the uncertain trumpet” thinking it was biblical and it is:
“If a bugle doesn’t sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? ” ! Corinthinans 14:8
He also explained that “the essence of leadership is clarity.”
How many Christians live in the Middle East?
Between 10 million and 12 million. The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity and home to some of its oldest communities, but the Christian population has dropped dramatically over time, especially over the last decade. When Christianity was founded 2,000 years ago, it spread rapidly across the Roman Empire, into Egypt and westward. Mohammed began the Arab Muslim conquests in the 7th century, spreading Islam across the region, but he allowed Christians to continue practicing their religion. Christians remained a majority in parts of Iraq until the 14th century, when raids by Central Asian warlord Tamerlane decimated the community. The 20th century saw another precipitous drop, because of low birthrates and emigration among Christians. In 1900 Christians made up 25 percent of the population of the Middle East; by 2000 they were less than 5 percent. And then came the Iraq War.
What effect did that war have?
After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, sectarian tensions long kept in check by Saddam Hussein erupted into civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Christians — Aramaic-speaking Assyrians with an ancient lineage — were caught in the cross fire. In the decade since the invasion, more than half of Iraq’s Christians have fled to refugee camps in Syria or Jordan, reducing a prewar population of more than a million to some 400,000, mostly in the relatively tolerant enclave of Iraqi Kurdistan. In October 2010, just a few months after U.S. combat troops left, militants of al Qaida in Iraq laid bloody siege to Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad during Sunday evening mass, killing 58 people and wounding 78 more. “This tragic event sent a powerful message to Christians in Iraq — they are in grave danger and should leave the country,” said Tiffany Barrans of the American Center for Law and Justice. Christians in Arab Spring countries would soon feel the same way.
Why did the Arab Spring alarm Christians?
Many Arab countries were ruled by secular dictatorships that ruthlessly repressed Islamic extremists and democrats alike. The revolts that began in Tunisia in late 2010 spread to Egypt, Libya, and then Syria. Many Christians declined to support the democratic uprisings, at least at first, because they feared that the fall of a dictator would mean the rise of an Islamist state. Once the dictators fell, Christians were branded anti-revolutionary and suffered a backlash. Islamists won large majorities in most of the post-revolutionary elections, and in some places, notably Egypt, they rewrote the constitution to give Islam a more central role in government and law.
How are Egypt’s Christians treated?
Egypt is home to the Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, with some 8 million adherents. They consider themselves direct descendents of the ancient Egyptians, and still use the Coptic language, a derivative of ancient Egyptian, for religious services. Dictator Hosni Mubarak allied himself with the Coptic pope and protected the community in exchange for its support. Now Copts say the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Mursi is refusing to let them build churches and failing to crack down on a wave of violence against them. Islamic extremists bombed the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria during the 2011 New Year’s mass, killing 23 people and strewing body parts around the church. Later that year, a huge mob of some 3,000 Muslims burned the St. George Church in Edfu and torched nearby Christian homes. When Christians protested outside the Maspero state TV center in Cairo in October 2011, soldiers brutally attacked protesters, killing 27. “Maspero completely traumatized the Coptic community,” said Heba Morayef, the director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt. “Feeling they were not protected by the law has created a climate of fear.” Fear has also taken hold in the war zones of Mali (see below) and Syria.
What is happening in Syria?
Charles Krauthammer praises rotation of power:
“Barack Obama is now commander in chief. The lack of opposition (to our presence in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan) is not a matter of hypocrisy. It is a natural result of the rotation of power. When a party is in opposition, it opposes. That’s its job. But when it comes to power, it must govern. Easy rhetoric is over, the press of reality becomes irresistible. By necessity, it adopts some of the policies it had once denounced. And a new national consensus is born.”
Krauthammer further explains:
“The rotation of power is the finest political instrument ever invented for the consolidation of what were once radical and deeply divisive policies. The classic example is the New Deal. Republicans railed against it for 20 years. Then Dwight Eisenhower came to power, wisely left it intact, and no serious leader since has called for its repeal.
Similarly, Bill Clinton consolidated Reaganism, just as Tony Blair consolidated Thatcherism. In both cases, center-left moderates brought their party to accept the major premises of the highly successful conservative reforms that preceded them.
A similar consolidation has happened with many of the Bush anti-terror policies. In opposition, the Democrats decried warrantless wiretaps, rendition, and detention without trial. But now that they are charged with protecting us from the bad guys, they’ve come to view these as indispensable national security measures.”