..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What is Happening to Iraqi Christians in Baghdad?

I just finished reading this article
on the persecution of Iraqi Christians
found in the Jewish World Review on June 14.

Here is one part that I found especially
"Still, early Muslims considered Christians,
along with Jews, to be "people of the book,"
as Muslims refer to followers of other
monotheistic religions, and believed they
were entitled to protection under Islamic rule,
in exchange for jizya, as the tax was called.
It was considered a substitute for the tax for
the poor, zakat, which Muslims pay annually."

Taxes are inevitable, I kind of get that, but
it implies this tax was, for better or for worse,
instituted to protect Christians
and Jews. Protect from what? is the likely
question. The mafia, as I understand it, also
offers protection for money. I'm giving the
early Muslims the benefit of the doubt here
in thinking that they were providing protection
from persecution from militants, whether religious,
or political, to other monotheistic
traditions. Pagans and polytheists were on
their own!

Now, this tax has turned into some kind
of extortion money--it has become a threat
of violence and not a protection from it.
Iraqi Christians, with deep roots in their
faith communities in Baghdad, are facing
increasingly deadly threats of violence.

The article goes on to say,
"At a church in Karada, a priest
shooed away a McClatchy correspondent. Nearby,
five black funeral banners graced with yellow
crosses fluttered in the wind.

Rumors abound. Residents said a priest and
an altar boy were killed on Wednesday and
their church was burned, but they refused
to say more. "We are afraid of retribution,"
one said. The U.S. military denied that the
incident occurred."

Al-Quaida, perhaps, viewing Christians as
pacifists, sees an opportunity to gain
advantage. "Let the reader understand: “So
when you see standing in the holy place
'the abomination that causes desolation,'
spoken of through the prophet Daniel"
Matthew 24:15).

The only defender these poor Christians have
is the Lord, also thought, in various
quarters, to be a Pacifist, but Who will be
better known as a Valiant and Victorious
Warrior, when the time is right.

This is just the beginning.

Or is it the beginning of the end?

Pray for Iraqi Christians. Pray for the
persecuted church.

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