Rupert Shortt, author of “Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack,” has a good piece in London’s Evening Standard newspaper, pointing out the hypocrisy so evident in commentary on the Middle East. That so often the West is blamed for Islamophobia, or even for many of the tragic events of the region. Yet the residents themselves do not recognize their own complicity in the intense and widespread persecution of Christians.
In conversation in Cardiff with an Afghan cab driver the following ensued:
But then my driver made the false move common in some circles. “This proves that all the West does is oppress Muslims. Who created Saddam Hussein? Who created Osama bin Laden? It was you guys.”
The standard replies to views as one-sided as these are familiar. I took a different line, reminding my driver that overall, Christians — starting with more than a million church members butchered by government forces in Sudan — have endured far worse treatment from Muslims than vice versa in recent decades but have largely kept quiet about it. When I pointed out that there is scarcely a country between Morocco and Pakistan in which Christians are fully free to worship without harassment, the cabbie eyed me with bewilderment.
His blind spot is shared by many a liberal secularist who would normally be among the first to speak out on minority rights. The reason for this malaise stems from ignorance, as well as a hierarchy of victimhood. Many assume that Christianity is a Western faith and therefore an import to the Middle East, rather than an export from it. The point is encapsulated by the anecdote about an American general who once asked an Arab Christian when his family had converted. “About 2,000 years ago,” came the wry answer.”