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Barack Obama and David Cameron: They’ll talk about anything but the persecution of Christians

May 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Persecution, United Kingdom, World

Barack Obama and David CameronLondon, UK, 27 May, 2011 (Telegraph): It was the elephant in the room: the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain talked of missiles and green house gases, Libya and Afghanistan, and how to barbecue a perfect burger. But they studiously avoided raising the plight of 250 million Christians who face persecution around the world. For two days the most important men in the free world had a chance to draw up a plan to help their co-religionists who face torture and death in Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sudan and China; they blew it. Copts, Evangelicals, Catholics, Greek Orthodox: the persecutors are indiscriminate. Their means include arson, shooting, rape and pillaging; and their methods are often legitimate in their own country, as in Pakistan, where under its blasphemy law, any dissent from Islam is unlawful. The anti-Christians’ aim is to eradicate a religion they consider subversive, because it challenges the oppression of totalitarianism and extremist Islam.

Yet the same two world leaders who stepped in to save Libyan civilians (mainly Muslim) from the tyrannical Colonel Qaddafi, Afghan Muslims from the tyranny of the Taliban, are abstaining from weighing in to help fellow Christians in the Middle East, Africa or Asia. Why? I worry that their cowardice stems in part from fear of Islam. Most of the persecution of Christians is taking place in Muslim countries, and at Muslim hands. This puts Barack Obama and David Cameron in an awkward spot: they risk the support of their domestic Muslim communities if they so much as raise the issue. Yet just as there are American and British Jews who do not condone Israeli violence, so there are many American and British Muslims who do not condone the persecution of Christians. Perhaps Obama and Cameron worry that Muslims in the west are coming under attack as it is; by pointing out that Islamic extremists are torturing and killing people simply because of their faith, Western leaders fan the flames of anti-Muslim feeling. But this argument, which has surfaced again and again since September 11 2001, cannot hold any longer. The West cannot hold up values – only to make exceptions for a minority that can attack and murder as it sees fit.

As Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, writes, the West can and should tie its overseas aid to the protection of Christian communities. (In terms of Britain’s foreign aid alone, think how much a fraction of its £12 billion budget could do to save Christians.) Checking the success of such a scheme may prove difficult; but the message it sends out is clear: leave these people alone. It will reach the persecutors and the persecuted, and remind Americans and Britons that there is such a thing as ethical foreign policy.

– Cristina Odone

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