WASHINGTON — Although Iraqi refugees who fled their homes to escape ISIS are now homeless and living in tents, containers and other makeshift housing arrangements in the Kurdish north, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said Wednesday that the morale of displaced refugees is much higher than the media is portraying.
Nazir-Ali, who is the former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, an author and current president of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue, explained during a discussion at the Heritage Foundation that the non-discriminatory involvement that the Christian church community has put forth in supporting Iraqi refugees of all faiths has led those displaced by the barbaric Islamic State to be uncharacteristically hopeful.
Along with an ecumenical delegation of bishops, Nazir-Ali recently visited with refugees in northern Iraq as a guest of the Chaldean Catholic Church and was astounded to find that the refugees, who have lost just about everything due to ISIS, were in much higher spirits than he was led to believe before his visit. more >>
In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, New York Times columnist David Brooks penned an article entitled "I Am Not Charlie Hebdo." The article was a response to the popular "Je Suis Charlie Hebdo" meme that exploded across social media in the days and weeks following the attack, which left 12 people dead and Paris reeling. Brooks began his piece by pointing out that many people claiming solidarity with Charlie Hebdo are in fact quite hostile to the kind of politically incorrect, intentionally offensive language and subject matter the magazine was infamous for:
"The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let's face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down. . . .
Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that Christians lead it. more >>
It has been one year since Islamic State began its conquest of a third of Iraq and its destruction of that country's ancient Christian civilization. While a massive international aid effort has helped most of the exiled Christians to subsist, it is time to look for a new strategy to help them fully live.
In a blitzkrieg of mass deportations, beheadings, women-slave auctions, and imprisonment of children, ISIS captured Mosul on June 10, 2014, and from there the rest of Nineveh province, Iraq's Christian heartland. Apart from some who were taken hostage or killed, most of Nineveh's 150,000 Christian residents left behind all their possessions and managed to flee the jihadists' "convert-or-die" policy. (Two new books chronicle these events in detail: Christian Persecutions in the Middle East, by George Marlin, and Defying ISIS, by Johnnie Moore.)
For the past year, these survivors have put their lives on hold in miserable conditions in church-run camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and nearby countries, while anxiously waiting for someone to liberate their hometowns. As the dust settles on Ramadi — where late last month an overwhelming Iraqi force made a disorderly retreat from ISIS — it is clear that that day may be years in coming. more >>
American pastor Saeed Abedini has reportedly been "viciously beaten" by fellow prisoners in an unprovoked attack in the Iranian prison where he's being held. The pastor was punched in the face, leaving his eyes beaten black and blue, but prison guards intervened and prevented further injury.
The American Center for Law and Justice, the law group which represents his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and the couple's two children in the U.S., said that the prisoners also demolished a small table that the pastor had used to study and read during the beating that he endured last week.
Abedini was allowed to see a prison doctor, who determined that he does not have any broken bones. On Wednesday, he was able to see a family member who came to visit him and see his injuries first hand. more >>
One of Mosul's largest Christian churches is being destroyed and turned into a mosque for Islamic State jihadists.
The Islamic State terror group posted flyers throughout Mosul announcing in a decree that the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Ephraim is reopening as the "mosque of the mujahideen" or jihad fighters. Christian symbols and relics have already been scrubbed and demolished from the ancient church.
It's believed that all Christians have either been executed or have evacuated the city since Islamic militants overran the area last year. Christians were told to flee or face execution. more >>
A massacre of Christians in Lahore, Pakistan, was prevented back in May partly due to three Muslim leaders standing up against other Islamic imams inciting a mass attack on Christians for alleged blasphemy. A total of 22 Muslims have so far been arrested in the incident.
Fides News Agency reported on Tuesday that Christian lawyers in the region are speaking out about the incident, which occurred on May 24. Local Christian man Humayun Faisal was accused of burning pages of the Quran, which is considered blasphemous, and has led to mob attacks on Christians in a number of cases.
Police saved Faisal from the lynching by arresting him, but Islamic protesters then turned their anger toward the Christian community in the neighborhood where the man lived. more >>