- (Reuters/David McNew)
Republican G.O.P. candidate Newt Gingrich has argued that Barack Obama’s foreign policy has resulted in an anti-Christian sentiment in the Middle East.
In a speech delivered to a crowd of 250 at a Myrtle Beach, S.C. Tea Party pig roast on Saturday, Gingrich argued that although many celebrate the dawn of an Arab Spring in the Middle East, it may also be considered an “Anti-Christian Spring.”
He cited Obama’s Middle East policy as the reason for anti-Christian sentiment in the Middle East.
“This is why the current strategy in the Middle East is such a total grotesque failure,” he said.
“I think people should take this pretty soberly,” he added.
Christian emigration has increased in recent months in both Iran and Egypt. Christians, which make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population, began to flee the country after Islamic groups, which remained underground or inactive during the rule of the now ousted president Hosni Mubarak, became more socially and politically active following the fall of the regime in a “January 25 Revolution.”
The most violent clash occurred Oct. 9, when 27 protesters were killed during a peaceful march against the burning of a Coptic Church in Southern Aswan, which took place Sept. 30. Many are blaming the military for the violence, arguing that the Military regime and state television created a sectarian divide, pitting Christians against Muslims and the military.
According to Newsmax.com, 95,000 Christians have fled Egypt since violence began with Arab Spring uprisings after the January 25 Revolution, and 250,000 are predicted to leave the country by 2011.
Christians are facing persecution in Iran, as well, where Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is awaiting his verdict in an apostasy trial; an accusation which could result in execution.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “There is an increasing tendency by Iranian courts and officials to characterize legitimate Christian activities as crimes against the state.”
“At the present rate, the Middle East's 12 million Christians will likely drop to 6 million in the year 2020. With time, Christians will effectively disappear from the region as a cultural and political force,” said Middle East affairs expert Daniel Pipes, according to Newsmax.
During his speech on Saturday, Gingrich announced that if he were to become president of the United States, he would “actively try to defend religious liberty across the planet, including in Egypt and Iraq.”