A diplomatic report dated 1986 described the Armenian massacres of Christians during the Ottoman Empire in 1895-96: 88,000 dead, 568 Churches destroyed, 328 Churches converted into Mosques, 2,400 villages looted and 646 villages forcefully Islamicised. The brutal persecution of Armenians further continued for over 30 years, reaching its peak in 1915. The total death toll is estimated at 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians. The statistics of this blatant genocide is absolutely staggering and one cannot help but plead: if the Western leaders of 1896 were aware of such an atrocity so early on, why was there no action taken, no intervention, no prevention of further loss of life?
Just as the world stood by and allowed the systematic elimination of millions of Armenians, history has repeated itself through the systematic extermination of mainly Christians in the Middle East through the brutality of the Islamic State. Unlike in the case of the Gaza protests where hundreds of thousands came out in droves in abhorrence of Israel; no capital in the Western world has ground to a standstill in expressing pure outrage and compassion for the persecuted Christian Church. Few have demanded war crime trials for the perpetrators. For this is a war crime – the crime being the mass eradication of Christians from the very continent that gave birth to it and the very continent where Christianity preceded Islam. Across the Middle East, Christians are in the process of being ethnically and religiously cleansed from the very lands they have dwelt in for almost 2,000 years. America wasted no time in purporting a War on Terror campaign in Iraq and beyond in the wake of the horrors of 9/11, but the real War on Terror initiated 1,400 years ago during the birth of Islam, the apex of which we see in 2014;where a genocide, a crime against humanity and an act of evil against civilisation itself unfolds before our very eyes.
And just as the West turned its back on the suffering of Armenia’s Christians, painful lessons have still not been learned as history repeats and re-creates itself into a possible Islamic Holocaust. The West has yet again proved to betray Middle Eastern Christians. Under the tyrannies of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, Christians and other minorities were afforded greater tolerance and protection as these leaders were all aware of the mainly Sunni-sect hatred and persecution they face. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad belongs to a minority Alwaite-sect of Islam and his political party has historically ensured the safeguard of Syria’s minorities. In the removal of these three leader and the current pressure on Assad to step down from power, the West have facilitated a scenario where a sharp proliferation of mainly Christian oppression and brutality has been allowed to flourish. As each of those steely leaderships have cascaded this has paved way for the political vacuum otherwise regarded as the ‘Arab Spring’. During and after the Arab Spring, Christians were especially targeted and successfully so, as the regimes that previously granted them security were in the process of being toppled. Fast forward to three months ago and the Islamic State have seized an area the size of a small nation, free to implement its Puritanical doctrine. Free to follow the Qu’ran in the most unequivocal and literal adherence. Free to carry out unimaginable brutality against everyone and anyone unwilling to conform to their ideology.
The birthplace of the Islamic State has caused utter decimation of Christian property, Churches and Christians themselves – to the point of no return. Mosul, the ancient Christian capital of Iraq has witnessed the Islamic State fulfill its Sharia Law and frequent amputation of limbs, crucifixions and the death penalty for apostasy has fast become the norm. The fate of Christians since the fall of Saddam has been appalling enough, with Canon Andrew White, Anglican vicar of Baghdad attesting: ‘Christians in Iraq are bombed and assassinated leaving Mass, driven out and targeted‘. But never has this ancient persecution of Iraqi Christians experienced thousands upon thousands fleeing from the very cities they have lived and practised their faith in for thousands of years. Mosul itself has been purged of nearly all of its inhabitants, with those remaining at risk of brutal torture and inevitably death.
The Islamic State have enacted a rampage of seizing military weapons and helicopters, freeing over 3,000 Muslim prisoners, looting and torching Churches and Christian villages. On 9 June, local police officers warned senior Christian leaders in Mosul to flee the city. From Niveneh to Kirkuk, Christians have been fleeing for their lives, leaving behind a livelihood they’ve only ever had and known. This scene of carnage and destruction to Iraqi Christian artifacts and edifices led local Mosul Christian Bashar Mansor to conclude: ‘this is the end of Christians. There will be no Christians in Iraq in ten years’.
The fate of Christians in Syria is another example of extreme bleakness and uncertainty as they struggle for survival. While the world has been distracted by Syria’s three year civil war, this has provided a cover for heightened persecution and repression of minority communities. They have been targeted in revenge for the protection afforded them under a stronger Assad leadership. The spread of the Islamic State has launched a far more brutal and violent insurgency that has displaced thousands of Christians; further decimating a people already diminished by over a decade of targeted hatred. The city of Raqqa is one example where Christians were given the ultimatum to pay the Jizya tax, convert to Islam or face death.
The city of Homs has now seen almost its entire Christian population of 50-60,000 fleeing for refuge and where the number remaining in the city is reported to have fallen below 1,000. The organisation Barnabas Fund who work globally with the Persecuted Church stated that: ‘Syrians are scared of the escalation of violence to the point of no control and the lack of security in most areas’
Human slaughter-houses for the purpose of butchering Christians, other minorities and even those Sunnis who do not comply with the Islamic State was recently discovered via one escapee Saif al-Adlubi. Saif relayed how he witnessed Armenian and Syrian Christians, Shiites and Sunnis being physically examined, before being decapitated from the root of their necks, their chest cavities opened, disemboweled and then hung upside down. Such slaughter-houses were first operated by the Free Syria Army before being assumed by the Islamic State. This sadistically barbaric act is done in alignment with the Islamic sacrificing of animals. In Islam it is permitted that a human replace an animal in a sacrificial ritual, referring back to Khalid Abdullah al-Kasri who sacrificed Jaad bin Durham instead of an animal on the Holy Festival of Sacrifice. Fast-track thousands of years later and this utterly depraved ideology sees pure Islam enact the exact cruelties.
We can see that that the West has everything to lose and nothing to gain by allowing the daily torture, kidnapping, enslaving, crucifying and beheading to continue. It is impossible to digest that in just three months, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian ancient Christians and other minority sects have been decimated and driven out – displaced and dispossessed. Unspoken and unaccounted for.
The West must wake up to the reality of this crisis and see it for what it really is: a fast looming Islamic Holocaust unlike anything the world has previously witnessed. A genocide more brutal than the methods employed by the Nazis – individual hacking of persons, from young babes to the elderly. Blood flowing from street to street, city to city, country to country. Blood crying out for mercy from the very grounds of Iraq, Syria and potentially well beyond.
Western governments, Churches and media have fallen mute, largely and shamefully unresponsive; apparently unaware of their duty to our Christians, to our humanity. To this day America makes no mention nor publically recognises the genocide of the Armenian Christians where millions were starved, brutally hung and beheaded. All in the name of Turkish-American relations. Almost 100 years later and the West yet again is proving to be indifferent to the Christians of the Middle East, which is just as destructive as the daily decimation they endure. Three months could easily become three years of this heinous and offensive to the human race: the Islamic State. While Obama tries to make the Islamic State a ‘manageable problem’ and Cameron feebly condemns this act of savagery and that act of brutality, another day in passing is another day too late.
The talk of Western leadership has at large always been cheap. As cheap as the lives of terrorised Christians in the Middle East has become.