Turn the other cheek?

ASSOCIATED PRESS A Pakistani Christian on Tuesday holds a picture of her daughter, who was killed in a suicide bombing Sunday outside a church.
ASSOCIATED PRESS A Pakistani Christian on Tuesday holds a picture of her daughter, who was killed in a suicide bombing Sunday outside a church.
Posted: September 27, 2013

A RELIGIOUS minority is being persecuted, driven from their homes, robbed, raped, murdered.

From all the faux Islamophobia hysteria, you'd think it was Muslims.

It's Christians, under a death sentence in parts of the Muslim world. Not in every Muslim country, but in too many.

The world remains remarkably, willfully blind and mute as the faithful of the world's largest religion are blown apart by followers of the world's second-largest religion.

Precise Christian persecution "figures are hard to come by," says Kiri Kankhwende, spokesman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in the United Kingdom. Precise or not, things have rarely been worse. And who cares?

I am not a Christian, but I belong to a minority with a long history of persecution. The electrifying experience of the Holocaust, when the world stood mute, shapes my belief that it should happen "never again" to anyone. When the world is silent, slaughter follows.

A headline in Monday's Daily News was unusual only in its candor: "Dozens dead in Pakistan; Christians targeted."

It was a murderous attack on a church in which more than 70 died, the deadliest-ever attack against Pakistani Christians. At the same time, Islamic jihadists were rolling hand grenades into a Kenyan shopping mall and mowing down civilians - allowing only Muslims to safely exit.

Across the globe, Muslims are too often in the thick of the hate, pillage, rape and murder. There is no escaping the transparent fact jihadists use their religion as a rallying cry to kill Christians (and others).

Surely the United Nations is on top of this, right?

No. The U.N. avoids the Christian "problem" like leprosy.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issues an annual report with three tiers from bad to worst.

Tier 1, diplomatically defined as "countries of particular concern," is the worst. Making the (bad) grade in 2013 were (alphabetically) Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam. Ten of the 15 are Muslim.

Currently in the gunsights are Coptic Christians, about 9 percent of Egypt's 85 million population. They were openly persecuted when the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was elected president, then attacked more viciously when he was deposed. About 100,000 have fled the country in the last two years, according to Steven Emerson, who heads the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Amazingly, Jesus' birthplace of Bethlehem is almost free of Christians. They are down to 10 percent of the population from 90 percent a century ago. Christians soon will be gone from Bethlehem. The only country in the Mideast with a growing Christian population is Israel.

None of this should come as news.

As far back as 2001, the Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes was reporting, "Christians are fleeing from all over the Middle East." Not just leaving, but "fleeing."

The most curious thing to me is the silence of major media, which largely ignores one of the great stories of our generation, and Christian churches. They turn a cheek to persecution while turning a blind eye to their brothers and sisters being massacred, tortured and driven off their land.

I don't understand it and I can't join it.

"In the end," the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

This friend is silent no more. Christians, how can you be?


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky

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