John Hajjar is a member of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Christian Committee MECHRIC a coalition of Assyrian, Syriac, Chaldean, Maronite, Coptic, Melkite and other Middle East Christian NGOs www.Mechric.org
How Iran, Assad and Hezbollah are using Christian persecution by ISIS to hijack the minorities
On September 9, 2014, a conference organized by the newly formed group “In Defense of Christians” (IDC), will be addressing the issue of “persecution of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS.” The event is very well funded and a sophisticated outreach has been mobilizing Mideast Christian churches in the United States over the past few months to participate in great numbers. The board of IDC includes prominent citizens, former government officials, and experts in the field of international religious freedom. The context of the conference, with one day in Congress and another day at a DC hotel is very appealing to the public. Christians in northern Iraq were ethnically cleansed from Mosul back in June and from the Nineveh plain–the last geographical enclave for Christian Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs in Iraq–in July. More than 400,000 Christians are refugees in Kurdistan with no immediate hope for a return home. Scores of Christians have been killed, raped, and kidnapped by the Jihadists of ISIS, as were Yazidis and other Iraqis. Christians of Iraq and Syria–and before there, in Egypt–have been under persecution and submitted to violence for the past few years. In short, the cause is a good one, and most of the official workers for such a conference are well intentioned. However, the American public must be informed: while the narrative of IDC is directed at ISIS violence, the conference is intentionally or not, profiting the Iranian and Syrian regimes and Hezbollah.
Readers may be stunned by this assertion, but here are the facts and some of the evidence:
Iranian Christians Absent
The conference is surely condemning the Jihadists of ISIS, but it is ignoring the oppression by the Iranian regime against its own Christian community, particularly the Iranian Persian Christians. Many Americans are aware of the horrific jailing in Iran of Pastor Saeed Abidini whose only crime was his conversion to Christianity. With countless other pastors and activists assassinated, tortured, and jailed for years, an “In Defense of Christians” conference in Washington should at a minimum invite Iranian Christian dissidents and victims to testify about the Ayatollahs regime’s brutality against the community. Obviously, there are Christians who work with the Khomeinist regime inasmuch as there were French collaborating with the Nazis in WWII or “official churches” under the Soviet Bloc. Free Iranian Christians have not been seen at the IDC meetings.
Assad’s War on Christians Ignored
The Assad regime’s massive brutality against Lebanon’s Christian community during the war of 1975-1990 has nowhere been cited at the conference. Neither is the torture, jailing and assassinations of hundreds of Christian citizens, politicians and journalists under Syrian occupation between 1990 and 2005 included. Two Christian presidents, many Christian ministers, members of parliament, and students were killed by the Assad regime, but the conference has ignored this tragedy and no speaker is slated to address the issue. In addition, the Christians who are opposing Bashar Assad were not invited while those who claim he protects them are omnipresent.
Hezbollah Terror Deleted
Hezbollah, a violent pro-Iranian organization on the US terror list that has eliminated, kidnapped and threatened Lebanese Christians (as well as members from other communities) will not be condemned. Victims of its violence and terror are not scheduled to speak.