Since the start of the Iraq War in 2003, Christianity in Iraq and Syria has been under constant attack by Muslim groups such as ISIS. Once over a million Christians in the area, most have either fled, been murdered, or are now refugees so much that there are only a few thousand left.
Now that the violence in Iraq is getting under control, the West and other nations are asking and encouraging Middle Eastern Christian refugees to return to their native lands, to which they are saying no because they can no longer trust their fellow countrymen:
Amid the push by Iraqi government forces to retake Mosul from Islamic State (IS), some former inhabitants of Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains and northern Syria are refusing to go back because they believe their former Sunni Muslim neighbours were complicit in driving them out, says Middle East analyst and former journalist, Patrick Cockburn, in News Deeply.
Christians returning to Nineveh believe Sunni Arab villagers were complicit in “taking their houses, killing and raping people,” he says.
Cockburn adds that, in Syrian towns occupied by IS, Christians believe their Sunni Arab neighbours were similarly cooperating with IS and that returning Christians might drive Sunnis out in turn. There’s a “real, very high level of friction and hostility on the ground, which I think is going to be extraordinarily difficult to reverse”, he says.
“A longer-term and very dangerous shift in both Iraq and Syria is that communities in general can’t live together any longer.”
In November Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, a priest in the Assyrian Church of the East and head of CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq), said that defeating IS won’t guarantee Christians’ return.
“What are the guarantees that it will not happen again?” he asked, noting that Iraqi Christians had been targeted not only since IS’s sudden appearance in 2014 but since the US-led invasion in 2003, after which he said the fabric of Iraq “was broken”.
In the decades before IS, more than a million Christians left Iraq, which had turned increasingly hostile towards them, the minority population felt. (source)
Really, who can blame them?
This idea that the Middle Eastern Christians should just ‘saddle up and return home and rebuild their societies with western help’ is at best a pipe dream based on pure fantasy and at worst it is a malicious attempt (which was the impression Keith had) to give the appearance of addressing the problem of persecution but without actually doing anything of tangible value to stop the persecution itself. Call it what you will- a dog and pony show, a three card monte, smoke and mirrors- the entire purpose for why Keith was invited was the same reason there is so much talking from the churches and the Hungarian government about how bad the situation is for Christians but so little actual action in resolving the pitiful situation that is over there. It is because it is far more politically and socially expedient- not to mention cost friendlier and with less responsibility- to allow these people to knowingly languish in misery as it gives them a “lever” through which they can justify various social programs or political decisions aimed at concentrating and building up their own interests at home.
Now this idea of using people that one is theoretically supposed to care about in order to gain social or political advantage is a manifest sin but it is something that is as old as time. Pilate did it to Jesus when he washed his hands before the Jews, saying that he bears no responsibility for his murder. He knew full well that his refusal to intervene was giving his consent to the murder of Jesus, but by his gesture he could give the symbolic and socially approved sign that he had no part in the murder even though he allowed it to happen.
Pilate washing his hands by Duccio. Pilate knew what he was doing.
This is also the same situation you see today within the “pro-life” movement in America and across the world. In most cases, the “pro-life movement” has done absolutely nothing to stop abortion in spite of its presence and the millions of dollars which are invested into it each year from donations of well-meaning people. In some cases, when laws are introduced that would block or stop abortion all together, it is the pro-lifers themselves who argue against basic points within the laws when they should be supporting them. As we have pointed out, the reason for this is because the “pro-life” movement, not for all, or I would even say the general majority of people, but for the people who sit on major pro-life organizations and have made a career out of “fighting for life,” it is very possible that some of them would not want abortion to end because it would essentially put them out of a very lucrative business (charity) and they would have to find another, and most likely lower paying job.
You can even see this same problem in the so-called “counter jihad movement.” We have been documenting extensively how the social movement dedicated to “stopping Islam” was in fact created a long time ago. Using the anti-human, violent nature of Islam as a source of friction, certain people deeply involved in Socialist and eugenicist movements wanted to stir up tension within American and European society with the intention of starting another war so they might be able to justify the expansion of their power while earning large profits for themselves off of the death of their fellow man.
As we work closely with actual persecuted Christians, we can say with certainly that the situation for Christians in Iraq, Syria, and most of the Middle East is terrible. The Christians there have been living on borrowed time for centuries, and as situations intensify in severity the closer they reach their natural end, so is the end of Christianity in the Middle East in its current form upon us. It is a hard, sad fact, but a reality which cannot be denied as the demoralized Christian peoples have been stripped of their homes, churches, properties, personal wealth, an social networks which constitute a society in any culture, place, or time. Without foreign help, the Christians of the Middle East will likely be impoverished in perpetuity, sitting defenseless and surrounded by Muslim “neighbors” who hate them and when the time is convenient for them, will simply murder what is left of the Christians.
Right now, the best option for the West is to help the Middle Eastern Christians it can to escape to the West or other societies which will welcome their presence and not actively seek reasons to slaughter them. To leave them in or encourage them to return to their destroyed homelands with neighbors who hate them is to wash one’s hands of responsibility for the robbery, rape, and murder that will befall them just as Pilate washed his hands of Jesus death before He was taken to Calvary.