The Muslim-majority United Arab Emirates is by no means a “Christian friendly” place. However, she has made many public gestures and actions of friendship towards Christians that have been noted and appreciated by people aroudn the world, such as the formal legalization of seventeen Christian Churches.
Now the UAE has announced plans to help rebuild two Christian churches destroyed by ISIS terrorists in Iraq, making it the first national government in the world to help rebuild Christian churches.
According to a press release, a new agreement reiterating UAE’s support for the initiative was signed at the U.N.’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris on Sunday.
The agreement serves as an extension to an agreement signed by UAE leaders in April 2018, in which the UAE government committed $50.4 million to help rebuild the city’s historic Grand Al-Nouri Mosque.
The new agreement commits UAE to restore the historic Al-Tahira Syriac-Catholic Church and Al-Saa’a Church in Mosul, a city that was conquered by the Islamic State terrorist group in 2014 and officially liberated by U.S.-backed coalition forces in July 2017.
According to the France-based charity Mesopotamian Heritage, At-Tahira is a centuries-old church that was bombarded during the mass raids on Mosul in 2017. The roof has collapsed but the royal door and side doors remain standing. To make matters worse, shoddy postwar reconstruction work worsened the condition of the historic building.
Al-Saa’a is also known as The Clock Church because it was gifted a clock by Empress Eugenie of France, the wife of Emperor Napoleon III. The clock was affixed to a tower. The church was built by Dominican fathers in the 1870s. According to The Telegraph, the church was blown up by Islamic State terrorists in 2016.
In addition to the church restorations, UAE’s new agreement with UNESCO includes the construction of a museum and memorial site that could create as many as 1,000 jobs. According to the release, the new institutions will also help the city’s tourism economy.
The project has already employed 27 Iraqis and contracted four Iraqi companies. (source)
It is quite ironic that if this agreement is followed through, the UAE- a Muslim majority country -will become the first country in the world to rebuild Christian churches in Iraq.
This is not to say that “Islam is good”, or to deny the objective evils of Islam, or to say that this action was undertaken for completely innocent reasons devoid of any political attachments. To say this would be an incorrect statement. What is interesting is to place this into a historical context vis-a-vis the actions of Muslims and their relationship with Christians.
If one counts the beginning of Islamic history with the Hegira and the establishment of the Medinan community in 622 AD, Islam has been in the Middle East for 1,397 years, or almost fourteen centuries. Christianity has been persecuted by Muslims many times, but one cannot say that with the twentieth century exception of Turkey’s genocide against the Christians- something that was backed by the US, UK, and Germany -Christianity lasted even there with numbers as high as 20% of the population.
The death of Christianity in Iraq and Syria did not come from the Muslims in spite of the Arabs, Persians, Turks of all types, and the Mongols. Rather, it came at the hands of the American Empire, for the Americans annihilated in fourteen years what the Muslims did not do for fourteen centuries.
And why did the US do what she did to the Christians of Iraq and Syria? It was all for geopolitical games of power with Russia.
Islam is an evil religion, and Muslim nations can be very manipulative. However, having said this, one must note that many Muslim nations and people strive, at least at some level, to keep moral commandments. The same can be said of many sub-saharan “black” African nations.
Did God choose to save “whites”, or “blacks”, or “semites”? If the human race is the product of the sons of Japheth, Ham, and Shem, and all those who mixed with each other, what is there to distinguish between them? There is a characteristic, which St. Mary says in the New Testament, that the Mercy of God is on “those who fear Him in every generation.” True racial supremacy is found in those peoples- regardless of what race they man be -from the human race who choose to love God and even if they do not know Him, attempt to follow the natural law to love and serve Him as they understand, for one who truly desires what is right will eventually find himself at the foot of the cross beckoning the way to the via dolorosa that leads to salvation.
There is a lot of evil with Islam, but at the same time, there are many Muslims who desire to do what is right and good, and there is an increased openness to the Gospel. If there has been any “lowering of IQs” in the Muslim world, it is not due to genetics or physical characteristics that can be engineered in a laboratory or removed through “good breeding”, but it is the spiritual blindness of paganism found in heresies such as Islam and all forms of false religion, that if removed will give sight just as it did to St. Paul when he fell from his horse on the way to Damascus.
Europe may have been Christian, but what does a man’s past have to do with the state he chooses in the current time unless one is choosing to follow what was before?
St. Peter writes in his first letter (1 Peter 4:8) that love covers a multitude of sins, and while one can only determine the hearts of individuals, it is not loving to consider that at least some Muslim people in the UAE have found a place in their hearts to pay, at least in part, for the rebuilding of Churches destroyed by Muslims?
Never abandon hope for a man, and pray for all, because sometimes it is those that one does not expect who find the true way.