By David Suissa
In all the self-righteous talk we’ve been hearing about Muslim refugees from Syria, who’s talking about the Christians? Over the past several years, no religious group has been more persecuted throughout the Middle East than the Christians. And yet, hardly a peep.
Yes, the Jewish way is not either/or. We’re supposed to be inclusive. So, with all the beautiful, heartfelt sentiment so many American Jews are expressing for Muslim refugees, why are we not including oppressed Christians in our hearts?
For some reason, the notion of “suffering Muslims” seems to resonate more with liberal hearts than “suffering Christians.” Maybe Muslims are seen as more “exotic” or “misunderstood”; maybe it’s the fact that many liberals have contempt for fundamentalist Christians in America, with their anti-abortion and anti-gay positions.
Whatever it is, the poor Christians can’t seem to catch a break. A 2012 Pew study found that “Christians continue to be the world’s most oppressed religious group.”
Even the world’s two most prominent Christians—President Barack Obama and Pope Francis—have hardly said a word about the plight of Christian refugees in Syria.
The current refugee system overwhelmingly favors Muslim refugees. Even though Christians represent more than 10 percent of the Syrian population, of the 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States so far, only 53 are Christians while 2,098 are Muslims.
This low number is tragic, because Christians living in Muslim lands are in especially dire straits. “ISIS and other extremist movements across the region,” Eliza Griswold wrote in The New York Times last July, “are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight.”
As author and Arab expert Raymond Ibrahim adds, “At the hands of the Islamic State, which supposedly precipitated the migrant crisis, Christians have been repeatedly forced to renounce Christ or die; they have been enslaved and raped; and they have had more than 400 of their churches desecrated and destroyed.”
This horrible situation, Ibrahim writes, was not always the case: “Christians and other religions minorities did not flee from Bashar Assad’s Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Muamar Gaddafi’s Libya. Their systematic persecution began only after the U.S. interfered in those nations in the name of ‘democracy’ but succeeding in only uncorking the jihadi terrorists that the dictators had long kept suppressed.”
Replacing evils with worse evils — that seems to be the nature of the beast in the Mideast jungle.
In any case, if we believe in the concept of triage—taking care of the most urgent cases first—the West ought to seriously wake up to the plight of the Christians of the Middle East, who have no “Christian country” in the area to escape to.
There are many Arab/Muslim countries who could take in Muslim refugees, but refuse. As reported recently in the Washington Times, Saudi Arabia has over 100,000 empty, air-conditioned tents that could house up to 3 million refugees, but has shut its doors to fellow Muslims in need. I guess oil-rich Arab countries figure the “compassionate West” can handle them.
The irony is that the very persecution of Christians makes it harder to rescue them. As Patrick Goodenough reports on CNSNews.com, the U.S. federal government relies on the United Nations in the refugee application process – and since Syrian Christians are often afraid to register with the U.N., they and other non-Muslims are left out.
This means that refugees who are in most need of rescue are the hardest to reach. But isn’t that the real meaning of compassion — to go the extra mile for those in greatest need? Even if we put aside the charged issue of Muslim terrorists possibly infiltrating the refugees, and just look at basic human need, don’t we owe it to the Christians to pay more attention to their plight?
If the most powerful country on Earth can’t go the extra mile to rescue Christian refugees, who will?
If the most powerful man on Earth can’t stand up for the most oppressed, who will?
Who will speak up for the most persecuted religious group in the world?
Who will start the #IamChristian hashtag?
David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at [email protected].