This is a bit off topic amid all the blogs about student activism; however, I feel as if many people in our media underestimate the magnitude of this problem.
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Christian population has significantly decreased. Before the invasion, there were 1.5 million Iraqi Christians, and now the number has decreased to just 500,000. This is a disturbing trend. Many of these Christians have moved to neighboring countries as a result from the rise of terrorism and local Islamic extremists, gangs and thugs who find joy by targeting these helpless, unrepresented people. Iraq’s new and improved “democratic” government isn’t doing much about this problem either.
The persecution of Iraqi Christians is a new trend. Under Saddam Hussein, much of the country was still religiously united and sectarian conflict was not nearly as visible. Indeed, our government has underestimated the serious damage the occupying forces have done when it comes to sectarian and religious division (not to mention the violence, the threat of terrorism, Iraq’s economy, and the country’s political/social stability).
Now, however, the main problem isn’t the wellbeing of the Iraqi Christians that moved from Iraq, but the ones that still live there. Many innocent Christians have been victims of Islamic extremists and thugs for incidents that occur here (Pastor Terry Jones and his attemped Quran burning, for example).
The Iraqi Muslim clergy has failed to be vocal about this issue. It’s not a surprise either, since many of them are trying to save their own lives from the ongoing continued violence for the past seven years. Therefore, the only people that can truly calm this madness down are the Muslim clergyman from around the globe. Think about it: If the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and the Ayatolla of Iran spoke critically of this issue, would there be so much violence against Christians in Iraq (you can also include other Arab/Muslim countries as well)? I personally believe it wouldn’t. Local clergyman have failed to work this issue out.
As Iraq is steadily becoming a nation of orphans, many of the clergyman talk about foreign occupation of their lands and oppressive acts committed by the Israeli government toward the Palestinians. They must realize that the world does not always revolve around these issues. Religious freedom, freedom of assembly and expression, women’s rights, animal welfare, and condemnation of the murders of homosexuals are all great issues to deal with as well.
A majority of the Muslim world is already unstable, therefore many clergyman have much more important roles in addition to others. Also, many in the Muslim world are disenfranchised with their political leaders. The longer people remain silent or fearful, the more people will be harmed. This is the perfect opportunity for Muslim clergymen to speak out. The killing and persecution of Christians is a great issue to start engaging in. It’s time, however, is long overdue.