Tag Archives: Middle East

MUST-READ: Why Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world

A very fine article from the normally ultra-liberal Toronto Star. (H/T Jojo)

Excerpt:

Virtually every human rights group and Western government agency that monitors the plight of Christians worldwide arrives at more or less the same conclusion: Between 200 million and 230 million of them face daily threats of murder, beating, imprisonment and torture, and a further 350 to 400 million encounter discrimination in areas such as jobs and housing. A conservative estimate of the number of Christians killed for their faith each year is somewhere around 150,000.

Christians are “the largest single group in the world which is being denied human rights on the basis of their faith,” the World Evangelical Alliance has noted.

In a report to a conference on Christian persecution hosted by the European Parliament last month, the U.S. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put it this way: while Muslims and Jews worldwide and Baha’is in Iran certainly suffer too, Christians were “harassed” by government factors in 102 countries and by social factors, such as mob rule, in 101 countries.

“Altogether, Christians faced some form of harassment in two-thirds of all countries,” or 133 nations, the report said. Muslims also face “substantial” harassment, the Pew report found, but in fewer countries.

Christians face harassment in more countries “than any other religious group,” a Pew Forum spokesperson told the Star.

Put in sharper focus, “at least” 75 per cent of all religious persecution in the world is directed against Christians, the conference was told.

The euphemistic term “harassment” encompasses vigilante and terrorist attacks against Christians in more than a dozen Muslim countries. In Sudan, an estimated 1.5 million Christians have been murdered by the Islamic Janjaweed militia, including some who were crucified. In Nigeria, 12 states have introduced sharia law. Thousands of Christians were killed in the ensuing violence.

In Saudi Arabia, the only faith permitted by law is Islam. Christians are regularly imprisoned and tortured on trumped-up charges of drinking alcohol, blaspheming or owning religious artifacts.

In Egypt, Coptic Christians are still reeling from a church attack last January in which eight worshippers were killed. “The situation is deteriorating and is very tense,” Sam Fanous, a leader of Toronto’s Coptic community, told the Star from Cairo. He said that after Friday Muslim prayers, streets fill with anti-Coptic protests.

In historically tolerant Indonesia, Islamic militias have bombed churches in majority Christian regions and killed or forcibly converted thousands.

China, meantime, continues to shutter “underground” churches and ship pastors to prison.

Read the whole thing. This is one-stop shopping on the persecution issue, and the sources are unimpeachable. Send it to your friends.

Israel furious with Obama administration over Middle East nuclear policy

Story here on Breitbart. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Washington’s unprecedented backing for a UN resolution for a nuclear-free Middle East that singles out Israel has both angered and deeply worried the Jewish state although officials are cagey about openly criticising their biggest ally.

The resolution adopted by the United Nations on Friday calls on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and urges it to open its facilities to inspection.

[…]The document, which singles out Israel but makes no mention of Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, drew a furious reaction from the Jewish state who decried it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical.”

But it was US backing for the resolution which has caused the most consternation among Israeli officials and commentators, who interpreted the move as “a resounding slap around the face” which has dealt a very public blow to Israel’s long-accepted policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Publicly, the Israel government has not criticised the US position but privately, officials expressed deep disappointment over the resolution, which Washington backed despite intensive Israeli efforts to block it.

According to the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “furious with the Obama administration for having failed to prevent the resolution from passing… and for choosing to support it.”

“The American support for the resolution, after decades in which it supported Israel on this issue, came as a complete surprise,” the paper said.

Barack Obama’s foreign policy consists of bowing to our enemies and backstabbing our closest allies. Is it any wonder that Turkey and Brazil are now assisting Iran to go nuclear?

UPDATE: You can find out more about how Israeli troops defended themselves against armed resistance when they boarded a Turkish vessel to inspect cargo.

and:

Be careful about listening to the mainstream media, they are not reliable on Middle East issues.

Charles Krauthammer and Ralph Peters on Obama’s foreign policy

What will we do now?

Moderate conservative Charles Krauthammer summarizes Obama’s foreign policy in the Washington Post. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

Excerpt:

It is perfectly obvious that Iran’s latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent).

It will… make meaningful sanctions more difficult.

[…]But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran’s program.

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

Krauthammer then explains what drove Brazil and Turkey to abandon US interests and side with Iran.

He writes:

They’ve watched America acquiesce to Russia’s re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia’s de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama “reset” policy).

They’ve watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran’s agent in the Arab Levant — sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds, and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the U.S. and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. “engagement.”

They’ve observed the administration’s gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez organizes his anti-American “Bolivarian” coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chavez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.

Now take a look at the words of moderate Ralph Peters in the NY Post. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

Excerpt:

What Brazil and Turkey just did wasn’t intended to impede Tehran, but to make it harder for Western powers to impose sanctions. Both countries want Iran to run interference for them.Once Iran gets the bomb and takes the (slight) heat, Brazil and Turkey both intend to go nuclear.

Brazil wants vanity nukes to cement its position as South America’s hegemon, a regional alternative to the US. Turkey’s slow-roll Islamist government dreams of a new Ottoman age — as it turns from the West to embrace the Muslim states it ruled a century ago. After easing Tehran’s path to the bomb, Ankara will claim that it needs its own nuclear capability to maintain regional stability.

But the coming widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons will be profoundly destabilizing. Each Middle Eastern country, especially, that goes nuclear increases the probability of a nuke exchange exponentially.

As Western states fantasize about a “nuclear-weapons-free world,” their developing-world darlings are scrambling like mad to develop nuclear arsenals. And we don’t get it.

Canadian federal government defunds anti-Israel organizations

Stephen Harper: not a primping peacock bitterly clinging to his teleprompter

Story from the National Post. (H/T Blazing Cat Fur)

Excerpt:

Since last fall, the federal Conservative government has been withdrawing taxpayer funding from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that use their grants to take sides against Israel in the Middle East conflict. Now comes word that last week, Ottawa told the United Nations it would no longer fund the world body’s Palestinian refugee agency. From now on, Canadian aid to Palestinians will be directed to specific projects. We will no longer give lump-sum aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), since most of that money simply goes straight into the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) general treasury, where it might be used for humanitarian projects or might be used to arm and train terrorists.

This is a bold move for Ottawa, which is the first Western government to cut off funding for UNWRA.

Although UNWRA has long been a biased player in the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is seldom criticized for its incitement of anti-Israeli hatred and violence by Palestinians. It has funded textbooks that deny the right of Israel to exist and paid teachers who call on Palestinian children to push the Jewish state into the sea. It harbours radical Islamists and anti-Semites on its payroll and was even caught in 2004 using its own ambulances to ferry terrorists away from Israeli sites they had just attacked.

[…]Ottawa also announced it would defund Alternatives, a Montreal NGO that two summers ago organized an education camp in Quebec, welcoming “500 motivated militants” from Lebanon, Iraq, “Palestine” and Venezuela.

International Development Minister Bev Oda withdrew $7-million in tax dollars, too, from KAIROS, an “ecumenical partnership” that had adopted a vehemently anti-Israel policy and been at the forefront of boycotts against the importation of Israeli goods and visits by Israeli professors.

Now there is some real leadership on foreign policy, from prime minister Stephen Harper.

New Bible software takes Bible study to a whole new level

This story about a new Bible software called “GLO” was sent to me by one of my ex-co-workers from 13 years ago!

Check out these videos:

Cool. One thing I would add to this software is resources for allowing people to explain the Bible to their neighbors. Probably the most useful thing would be to evaluate major passages to see when they were written, how closely the passage is based on eyewitness testimony, whether it appears in other New Testament sources, whether it passes criteria like embarrassment and dissimilarity, and whether it is confirmed by archaeology or even non-Biblical sources.

Additionally, commenter Matthew has some concerns:

Translations? Only NIV, which is OK but far from exemplary. For $90 this needs every translation known to man, in most languages. And full text of all historic bibles as well.
Scholarship? An article found through google critiques Glo for not having a panel of scholars advise on the extra-biblical resources offered.

I don’t think this thing is meant as a scholarly resource – they are aiming for a different market.

Debates about the Bible

If you think that talking about the Bible with non-Christians is fun, you might want to take a look at these debates:

If you like seeing fringe historical skeptics of Christianity go down in flames, check out this post for some historical debates with evangelicals and radical skeptics.