According to President Donald Trump, Christians in the Middle East are being treated in a manner that is “beyond disgraceful”; Christianity is being “treated horribly and very unfairly, and it’s criminal.” He said this during his August 13 news conference, in response to the question, “How does the accord today between Israel and the UAE help struggling and persecuted Christians in the Middle East?”
Below is the president’s response in full:
Well, I think it’s going to. I think it’s a big start. And you’re right about that: Christians have been persecuted by some countries in particular in the Middle East. And I think this is a big start. It’s going to be a very strong start, very powerful start, and it’s something that I will tell you — I’ve told David, I’ve told every one of our negotiators: If you look at the way Christians have been treated in some countries, it’s — it’s beyond disgraceful. It’s — if I — if I had information and if I had absolute proof — some of the stories that we’ve heard, which are not easy, which is not easy to get — I would go in and do a number to those countries like you wouldn’t believe. What they do to Christians in the Middle East — and it’s — it’s disgraceful. It’s disgraceful. You’re right. It’s a very big part of the overall negotiation. And as countries come in — for instance, UAE has agreed very strongly to represent us; I think they will very well with respect to Christianity, because in the Middle East, it’s not treated well. It’s not treated well at all. It’s treated horribly and very unfairly, and it’s criminal what’s happened — and that’s for many, many years. I think it’s a great question and very un- — it’s a very unfair situation.
As someone who has been daily following and documenting the phenomenon of Muslim persecution of Christians for over a decade, I can say that Trump’s description of and apparent abhorrence for the plight of Christians in the Middle East is very accurate. Only those who exclusively follow and believe “mainstream media” reporting—or rather lack thereof—can doubt this.
For example, since July 2011, I’ve been compiling monthly reports titled “Muslim Persecution of Christians.” Each report—there are currently well over a hundred—contains a dozen or so atrocities, including the banning, burning, or bombing of churches; the outright butchery of Christians (especially in sub-Saharan Africa); murderous assaults or imprisonments of Christian “blasphemers” and apostates; the abduction, rape, and forced conversion of Christian girls; and myriad forms of entrenched social discrimination.
Moreover, the majority of those treating Christians in a manner that is, to quote Trump, “beyond disgraceful … horribly and very unfairly,” are not professional terrorists but every day Muslims, including governmental authorities. The issue is systematic and permeates the whole of Muslim society.
Or consider the well documented fact that 38 of the 50 absolute worst nations in the world in which to be Christian are Muslim. In other words, more than 75% of the persecution that more than 260 million Christians around the world experience is at the hands of Muslims.
This leads to the only curious section of Trump’s response: “if I had information and if I had absolute proof,” he said concerning the “beyond disgraceful” treatment of Christians, “I would go in and do a number to those countries [responsible] like you wouldn’t believe.” One wonders what sort of information or proof he is requesting or whether the good president just got ahead of himself (which itself is reflective of how strongly he feels about the subject).
While some may cite this as “proof” that Trump is “all words,” they overlook the crucial fact that just by acknowledging—to say nothing of vocally condemning—the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Trump is helping create awareness where there was none.
This is especially the case when one compares Trump’s words with those of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Although the latter was president during the absolute worst time for Christians in the Middle East—thanks to ISIS, which came to power under Obama’s tenure—he never acknowledged it. For Obama, the abuse and slaughter of Christians and the bombing and burning of their churches was—as it still is for the “mainstream media”—a reflection of “sectarian strife” that has nothing to do with religion (but rather poverty, inequality, poor education, and all the other secularly satisfying pretexts).
During, for example, the 2011 Maspero Massacre—when the Egyptian government slaughtered and ran over with tanks dozens of Christians for protesting the burnings and closures of their churches—all that Obama could bring himself to do was call “for restraint on all sides”—as if Egypt’s beleaguered Christian minority needed to “restrain” itself against the nation’s armed and aggressive military.
The Obama administration further tried to suppress data concerning the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and regularly discriminated against Christian minorities, often in favor of Muslims. Indeed, for at least one former Nigerian official, the current genocide of Christians in Nigeria finds its source in “the evil called Barack Obama.”
It is for all these reasons and more that Trump is to be credited for speaking honestly about the plight of Christians in the Middle East. As president of the United States, his words go far and wide, and are heard by even the leaders of the worst offenders. It is for them to decide whether Trump is bluffing or not about wanting to “go in and do a number” on them “like you wouldn’t believe.”
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Islam’s New War on Christians (2013), is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.