Alex Newman - The New American
It has been claimed that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East could not be intentionally designed to do a better job of liquidating Christians than is happening nowadays. It's likely true.
Asia Bibi is a mother of five children and a devout Christian. She is also on death row -- for "blasphemy." And incredibly, she lives under a government that receives billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars every year: Pakistan, one of the top recipients of American foreign aid. Over the last 10 years, the Pakistani regime has raked in well over $20 billion from U.S. taxpayers.
Meanwhile, the government has been brutally persecuting and oppressing the sizeable Christian minority. Indeed, the Pakistani regime consistently ranks as among the worst in the world in terms of persecution. And according to senior U.S. officials, Pakistan's "intelligence" services have even been collaborating with terrorist groups to attack American targets.
Almost three years ago, Bibi was working as a farmhand when she apparently got into an argument with some Muslim women also working in the fields. Her co-workers alleged that she "defamed" the Islamic prophet, Mohammed. She insists she merely defended her own faith and was falsely accused because of existing animosity. That's when the tragic ordeal began.
Hearing that a Christian woman made a derogatory remark about Mohammed, a furious mob led by a local cleric promptly descended on Bibi's home. According to news reports, her family was beaten and tortured by the outraged local residents. They sexually assaulted Bibi, put a noose around her neck, and almost killed her.
When police finally arrived, they rescued the family -- temporarily, at least -- before charging Bibi with a capital offense: blasphemy. She was ultimately arrested, and has been in jail ever since. Her family went into hiding to avoid being murdered by vigilantes. "My children," she wrote in a letter to her family, published in a book about her ordeal, "don't lose courage or faith in Jesus Christ."
In November of 2010, Bibi, also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to execution by hanging. She has been in a tiny prison cell for years -- in deplorable conditions and complete isolation -- awaiting an appeal with a higher court. But even if she is freed, countless religious leaders have vowed to murder her -- there is already a bounty on her head.
And Bibi was not the only victim. As her case attracted international attention, Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, spoke out in defense of Bibi and against Pakistan's brutal blasphemy laws. He paid for his activism with his life. In January of last year, he was murdered by a member of his own security detail. Hundreds of Muslim scholars and clerics praised the assassination, and more than a thousand lawyers rushed to the killer's defense. Taseer's son was kidnapped by jihadists later that year.
Two months after the assassination, Pakistani Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti -- the only Christian Minister in the regime -- was also murdered. His killers left leaflets at the crime scene indicating that they assassinated him for opposing the blasphemy law.
Just this March, another mother, 26 years old, was reportedly taken into custody on "blasphemy" charges. More than a few Christians have been executed by vigilantes after being charged.
"A close examination of the cases reveals the blasphemy laws are often invoked to settle personal scores, or they are used by Islamist extremists as cover to persecute religious minorities, sadly with the help of the state under these laws," noted Pakistanis for Peace founder Manzer Munir, saying there had been almost 1,000 cases of "blasphemy" since the death penalty was adopted as a punishment for it in 1986.
The U.S. government, of course, knows very well that it is bankrolling the atrocities. "Pakistan continues to be responsible for systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief," noted the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2011 annual report. And conditions continue to deteriorate.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, another close U.S. "ally," is also ranked as among the worst oppressors of Christians in the world, behind only Afghanistan and North Korea. And the hard-line Islamic dictatorship's Grand Mufti -- the highest-ranking Muslim cleric -- recently claimed it was "necessary to destroy all churches in the region."
Trillions Spent,and for What?
After trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives were sacrificed by the U.S. government over the last decade intervening in the Middle East -- the birthplace of Jesus Christ and Christianity -- Christian communities are facing unprecedented struggles across most of the region. More than a few analysts have even called the systematic and growing persecution of Christians throughout much of the Muslim world an ongoing example of genocide.
"Conditions for genocide against non-Muslim communities exist in varying degrees throughout the region stretching from Pakistan to Morocco. The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is especially acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Iran and Pakistan," explained Dr. John Eibner of the non-profit human-rights group Christian Solidarity International. "Millions of lives and the future of a religiously pluralistic civilization in the Middle East are at stake."
According to some estimates, more than 150,000 Christians are murdered every year for their faith around the world. The vast majority of those -- over three-fourths -- are in Islamic-dominated nations. And in many cases, U.S. taxpayers are either subsidizing the slaughter by distributing billions to oppressive regimes, or worse, helping to create the conditions that allow the persecution to happen in the first place.
One of the most frequent excuses offered to justify the persecution of Christians by murderous regimes and the anti-Christian fanatics they enable is that believers in Christ are somehow acting as surrogates or proxies for Western interests -- especially the U.S. government. After decades of meddling in the internal affairs of nations around the world -- backing dictators, sparking revolutions, imposing sanctions, and more -- America is widely perceived as hostile and dangerous. Plus, as tyrants throughout history have learned, minorities make good scapegoats.
The trend of linking local Christian populations to American foreign policy goes back decades. In 1970, for example, Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an official Islamic decree, or "fatwa," accusing Iranian Christians of "working with American imperialists and oppressive rulers to distort the truths of Islam, lead Muslims astray, and convert our children." The fatwa came while the Western establishment was still intervening on behalf of the Shah of Iran -- leading to widespread anti-American resentment -- and after the Central Intelligence Agency sparked a coup d' tat in 1953 under the guise of fighting communism.
More recently, U.S. government intervention in the region has been justified using a broad array of issues: supposed "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMDs), the terror war, regional security, trade, and vaguely defined "national interests." But increasingly, American policymakers have been meddling in the Middle East under the guise of "spreading democracy." And as analysts have noted, when the overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim, so-called "democracy" -- or majority rule -- does not generally bode well for Christians and other minorities.
But to better understand the role of U.S. foreign policy in the ongoing and worsening atrocities against Christians, it helps to examine the two nations where the American government has been most involved over the last decade: Iraq and Afghanistan. According to experts like Chairman Leonard Leo of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an official advisory body, there is now a very real prospect that Christianity could be completely wiped out in both countries. And in other nations -- from Libya and Egypt to Pakistan and Syria -- the effects of U.S. policies are producing similar fruit.
Christianity goes back almost 2,000 years in the land known today as Iraq. In fact, Assyrian Christians are often said to be the true indigenous people of the area. The devout communities there survived through centuries of invasion, persecution, and attempted extermination. Despite the never-ending onslaught, Christianity continued to thrive. Until "democracy" arrived, that is.
In the wake of the U.S. invasion and occupation -- which in 2007 the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost U.S. taxpayers about $2 trillion -- Christianity in Iraq might very well be fully eradicated. Reliable estimates found that about 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq before 2003. Today, that number is less than 500,000, with some experts claiming the true figure is actually around 200,000. In all, some two-thirds of the nation's Christians have already fled or been killed.
Despite making up just three percent of the population prior to the U.S. invasion, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Christians accounted for nearly half of the refugees by 2008. Much of the faithful remnant in Iraq is seeking a way out before the persecution gets even worse -- and that is despite calls by numerous Iraqi church leaders for the Christian communities to remain in their homeland.
Under the secular dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Christians and other minorities were largely protected from Islamist violence and genocide -- unlike in many areas of the Middle East. Indeed, the tyrant's socialist Ba'th Party was founded by Michel Aflaq, an Orthodox Christian, and actually held "freedom of religion" as one of its core tenets.
Of course, as is well documented, enemies of the Iraqi regime were viciously persecuted and slaughtered. Despite the fact that the U.S. government once supported the regime, Hussein has been properly characterized as a monster. But under the dictator's iron fist, Christians worshipped openly throughout Iraq and were not treated any worse than Muslims or anyone else.
Anti-Christian violence, prevalent across much of the Middle East, was not tolerated. Almost unprecedented in the entire region's contemporary history: A Catholic, Tariq Aziz, served as Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Even before the United States invaded Iraq, the repercussions of overthrowing a secular dictator in the Middle East were glaringly obvious to analysts -- then-President George W. Bush was even warned of the consequences by his own advisors. The public was alerted, too, or at least could have been had citizens taken the time to perform a simple online search. Just a few weeks before American forces invaded, analyst and political-science expert Glen Chancy, a member of the Orthodox Church, wrote a piece explaining exactly what was likely to happen to Christians in the wake of war.
"This may come as a shock to many Americans, whose image of Saddam has been framed by comparisons to Adolf Hitler, but the prevalent fear among Assyrians [Christians], both in Iraq and abroad, is that what comes next after an American invasion will be worse," he wrote. "Should the Assyrians be so concerned about being liberated by U.S. military power? If history is our guide, they shouldn't be afraid. They should be terrified."
Chancy made no effort to hide the murderous and barbaric nature of Saddam's tyranny. But the Iraqi tyrant was brutal to all, and unlike under most Middle Eastern regimes, Christians in Iraq were doing very well. "Saddam's regime has permitted a degree of free practice for Christians that is positively enviable compared to the situations experienced in such U.S. 'allies' as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia," he noted. "Christmas and Easter decorations always abound, even in Baghdad, and attending church does not require an act of courage."
After the United States invaded, however, everything changed. "The Assyrians have survived the coming of the Persians, the Arabs, and the Turks," Chancy observed. "It remains to be seen if they will survive the coming of the Americans." Unfortunately, as Chancy and countless other analysts warned, Christians did not fare well. With the fall of Hussein's regime, Islamist militias vented their fury not just on the "infidel" invaders, but on local Christians, too.
Businesses were seized, churches were bombed, women were raped, Sharia law was brutally enforced, and Christians, including women and children, were viciously slaughtered. Muslim extremists throughout the nation and Kurdish nationalists in northern areas -- supposedly U.S. allies -- all participated in the massacres and persecution.
A year after the U.S. invasion, Chancy's dire warnings had become reality. "In fact, the current policies of the Bush administration are threatening to absolutely devastate ancient and pious Christian communities whose blood will be on all our heads," he observed in late 2004, saying the American people had become accomplices in the slaughter and destruction of large segments of the world's Christian population.
"To deal with the subject honestly, it must be acknowledged that it almost appears as if President George Walker Bush were waging a global war against Christians," he wrote. "Had President George W. Bush set out with the intentional goal of destroying the Christian population in Iraq, it is hard to see how he could have been more effective than he has been to date." That was in 2004.
Since then, the situation has deteriorated further. In October of 2010, for example, Islamic extremists under the banner of the "Islamic State of Iraq" attacked Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. More than 50 Christians were murdered including two priests. The same church had already been bombed in 2004.
In August of 2011, a series of apparently coordinated attacks on more than a dozen churches left over 65 dead. In 2006, a 14-year-old boy was reportedly crucified. A priest was also beheaded. Christian women and girls, meanwhile, are also among the victims, being routinely targeted for rape and execution.
The new U.S.-imposed "democracy" remains unable or unwilling to do much about the problem. Perpetrators are rarely brought to justice, and in more than a few cases, officials have been suspected of involvement. The brave Christians who remain in Iraq live in complete terror.
"Why did they come? To do what? They came to give us freedom -- the freedom to kill one another," Auxiliary Chaldean Bishop of Baghdad Shelmon Warduni told the Christian relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. Countless senior church figures have expressed similar thoughts in recent years.
"Everybody hates the Christian. Yes, during Saddam Hussein, we were living in peace -- nobody attacked us. We had human rights, we had protection from the government. But now, nobody protects us," explained Archbishop Athanasios Dawood of the Syrian Orthodox Church, accusing the U.S. government of making empty promises. "Since 2003, there has been no protection for Christians. We've lost many people and they've bombed our homes, our churches, monasteries."
Top Vatican officials have pointed to the tragedy facing Christians in Iraq as well. After blasting the "pre-emptive" U.S. war as a "crime against peace" before the invasion began, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Jean-Louis Tauran noted in a 2007 interview that Christians, "paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship."
Even the U.S. government's own research confirms the ongoing tragedy. "In Iraq, members of the country's smallest religious minorities suffer from targeted violence, threats, and intimidation, against which the government does not provide effective protection," noted the USCIRF in its 2011 annual report. "These violations are systematic, ongoing and egregious, and perpetrators are rarely identified, investigated, or punished, creating a climate of impunity."
In fact, beyond failing to protect Christians, the new regime installed by Western forces is actually part of the problem. "The smallest minorities also experience a pattern of official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect," the report stated. "The violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization, and neglect suffered by members of these [Christian and other minority] groups threaten these ancient communities' very existence in Iraq."
Analysts debate the causes of Christianity's virtual extermination in Iraq under U.S. military occupation. Some say the American government was not prepared to deal with the situation. Others contend that it simply had other priorities and was not sufficiently concerned with the fate of Christians and minority groups.
International relations and geopolitics analyst Lee Jay Walker, for example, wrote in the Seoul Times that "the destruction of Christianity in Iraq is taking place because of misguided American policies and because the Christian community is not deemed to be important." No matter the reason, however, it is undeniable that Christians in Iraq have suffered tremendously as a direct result of U.S. foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the purpose of the war -- WMDs, terror, democracy, freedom? -- remains as elusive as ever. But the constitution of Iraq, imposed with Western assistance, has come under fire from around the globe. "Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation," it states. "No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established." The document also enshrines big-government control over healthcare, education, employment, housing, and virtually every other sector.
As in Iraq, the history of Christianity in Afghanistan is believed to go back almost 2,000 years. According to numerous sources, the apostle Thomas set out for the region and preached the Gospel throughout several areas that are now part of modern-day Afghanistan and India. The so-called "Church of the East" thrived in the region for almost 1,000 years until the arrival of strict Islamism in the 13th and 14th centuries resulted in the destruction of churches and the attempted eradication of Christianity. Still, a small remnant of Christians is believed to have survived in Afghanistan over the centuries.
The Afghan Taliban -- largely armed and trained in the 1970s and 1980s by the U.S. government and its allies -- was brutal when it finally seized power, especially to Christians. Once the coalition of Islamic extremists took over Kabul, it destroyed churches and viciously sought to stamp out Christianity. But despite the persecution, a sort of "underground" church continued to exist throughout the group's murderous reign.
According to the U.S. State Department, the hidden Christian minority inside Afghanistan is estimated at between 500 and 8,000 adherents. Other estimates place the number even higher, but it is impossible to know -- publicly admitting to be a Christian would be a death sentence. Thousands more live as exiles outside of the country.
Incredibly, since the U.S. occupation began in 2001, experts say the situation for Christians in Afghanistan has not only failed to improve -- it may have actually become worse. Even regular Afghans now associate Christians with the widely unpopular foreign occupation. And the new government is openly hostile to Christianity, which is, for all intents and purposes, illegal.
Meanwhile, the Taliban continue to rule over vast swaths of the nation, waging "jihad" against any Christians they may discover -- foreign or domestic. Plus, the Obama administration is desperately seeking to negotiate with the group in a bid that could see it eventually restored to power. Hardly encouraging to U.S. troops or local Christians.
Finally, the last remaining public Christian church in Afghanistan was demolished in 2010. Apparently the courts refused to uphold Christians' claim to the property. And the U.S.-backed regime has not issued a single new building permit for churches.
Open Doors' 2012 World Watch List, a yearly ranking of the worst regimes in terms of Christian persecution, ranked Afghanistan as number two, up from third place the year before. The only nation worse than Afghanistan was the mass-murdering communist dictatorship ruling North Korea, which, perhaps ironically, also receives significant amounts of aid from the U.S. government. Saudi Arabia came in third.
For Afghanistan too, official U.S. entities acknowledge the tragic situation. "The government's level of respect for religious freedom in law and in practice declined during the reporting period, particularly for Christian groups and individuals," noted the 2010 State Department Religious Freedom report almost a decade after U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the government. That decline came after President Obama's military "surge," too.
"Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity," the report noted. "The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom."
In its 2011 report, the USCIRF reported similar findings. "Conditions for religious freedom remain exceedingly poor for minority religious communities and dissenting members of the majority faith [Islam], despite the presence of U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan for almost 10 years and the substantial investment of lives, resources, and expertise by the United States and international community," it noted, adding that even the government was prosecuting people for such "crimes" as apostasy and blasphemy. "The 2004 Afghan constitution has effectively established Islamic law as the law of the land."
The new Afghan constitution, imposed with help from the U.S. government, states that "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam" -- Islam being the "official" religion of Afghanistan. And because certain interpretations of the Koran call for executing those who leave Islam, the few remaining Christians live under permanent threat of martyrdom at the hands of the U.S. government-backed regime or the Taliban, America's former ally.
After a media broadcast showed Afghans being baptized, U.S.-backed "President" Hamid Karzai vowed to hunt down the new Christians. Some 20 people were reportedly arrested. A series of official prosecutions of Christians and converts has indeed helped shine the international spotlight on the issue -- putting global pressure on the regime to back down in a few cases. But converts like Sayed Mussa, for example, have been imprisoned, raped, tortured, and prosecuted for their faith in Christ. Mussa and others like him were facing the death penalty, but massive global outcries may have saved their lives.
Of course, the U.S.-subsidized persecution has not gone unnoticed. Some American officials have even complained. "We cannot justify taxpayer dollars going to a government that allows the same restrictions on basic human rights that existed under the Taliban," charged Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) in a letter to then-U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry. So far, however, it appears that little has changed.
Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi was brutal to opponents, but his regime was largely secular in nature. The vast majority of his victims -- especially in recent years -- were hardline Islamic extremists seeking to overthrow his government and install a theocracy. The notorious al-Qaeda affiliate known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), for example, was a top enemy of Gadhafi and, until recently, the U.S. government.
As in most Islamic-dominated societies, Christians did face restrictions. Evangelizing to Muslims, for example, was mostly prohibited. But Gadhafi was not normally openly hostile to the more than 100,000 Christian faithful throughout the nation. In fact, he was actually on very friendly terms with the leader of Coptic Christianity, whom he offered an award in 2003. The tyrant even gave Copts in Libya buildings to use as churches -- for free.
Then the war came. The coalition of "rebel" leadership working with Western forces to bring about "regime change" was made up of senior al-Qaeda personnel associated with the LIFG, former Gadhafi officials, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other radicals -- more than a few of whom publicly boasted of having battled American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. government knew, but helped arm and train them anyway.
As the conflict grew, Christians promptly fled the nation en masse, fearing the worst. A few months into the conflict, Sylvester Magro, the Catholic bishop of Benghazi, told Reuters that his usual flock of around 10,000 had been reduced to a few hundred. A Coptic priest said his congregation declined from more than 1,000 to about 40. It remains unclear how many might return.
But thousands of black Christians and members of other non-Muslim communities -- mostly migrant workers -- were trapped inside Libya between the warring factions. And they paid dearly. Observers called the persecution of blacks "ethnic cleansing" and even "genocide." Thousands faced rape, torture, and execution. More recently, footage emerged of blacks in a cage being forced to eat flags as Libyan Islamists taunted them. After the U.S. government- and NATO-backed rebels took over, the al-Qaeda flag even flew over the rebel headquarters in Benghazi.
Meanwhile, as analysts warned, the war on Libya also offered unprecedented amounts of military weaponry to al-Qaeda and assorted radical Islamists -- missiles, machine guns, and much more. And now, according to officials and reports, those heavy weapons are being turned on Christians and others throughout the region.
For now, the situation in Libya remains highly uncertain and volatile. While the "new" Libya -- if the Western-backed regime manages to cling to power amidst ongoing chaos and battles -- will be governed by strict sharia law, senior officials have promised to respect minorities. Whether that will be the case, however, is still unclear. Most analysts don't believe it.
And so far, the trend is less than encouraging. As rebels marched into Tripoli, for example, Saint George's Church -- the oldest Orthodox church in North Africa, dating back to 1647 -- was ransacked and desecrated. Meanwhile, Christians who imported Christian literature were imprisoned. And in March, heavily armed Islamists desecrated the Christian graves of fallen Italian and British World War II veterans in Benghazi, smashing crosses and headstones with a sledge hammer. "This is a grave of a Christian," one of the men says in a video of the incident posted online. The new regime apologized, but around the world, people were outraged.
Consider, too, that the new Libyan government is pursuing "integration" with the neighboring regime in Sudan, officially designated by the U.S. State Department as a "state-sponsor" of terror. (Ironically, the U.S. government is also supplying aid and training to that regime's "security" apparatus.) The brutal socialist-Islamic dictatorship in Sudan, led by mass-murderer and indicted war criminal Omar Al-Bashir, has reportedly massacred millions of people -- mostly Christians and members of various animist sects. In March, the regime also announced that it was expelling between 500,000 and 700,000 Christians from the nation by stripping them of their citizenship.
Christianity has existed in Egypt for almost 2,000 years. And today, Coptic Christians represent about 10 percent of the nation's population. But for the ancient minority community, recent developments have hardly been positive. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Copts have already been forced to flee their homes as mob violence and state-sponsored persecution continue to grow.
Despite the general brutality of Hosni Mubarak, he was a close U.S. ally for decades before he was forced to step down by Western establishment-backed protests and, eventually, President Obama's demands. "Change must take place," Obama said. "My belief is that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now."
But unlike the nation's new U.S.-sponsored rulers, the former tyrant at least tried to protect the Coptic community from radical Islamist terror. Perpetrators were punished, and violence against minorities was not tolerated.
Today, all that has changed. The military junta now in charge, rather than protecting Christians, is actually killing them and allowing them to be killed. After a wave of savage terror attacks against Copts and their churches rocked the nation, the new regime refused to take action. So Christians decided to protest the attacks and the lack of protection offered by authorities.
Activists marched to the state-run TV station in Cairo, chanting and demanding reforms. Instead of protection, however, the military regime responded with brute force. "Security" forces mowed down hundreds of Christian protesters with guns and tanks, killing dozens and injuring hundreds more. "The Copts are being persecuted by the state," priest Sila Abd al-Nour was quoted as saying during a ceremony mourning the victims.
And again, the U.S. government -- which sends over a billion in "security" assistance to Egypt every year, and will continue to do so despite recent developments -- knows very well what is going on. "Since February 11 [2011, when Hosni Mubarak stepped down], military and security forces have reportedly used excessive force and live ammunition in targeting Christian places of worship and Christian demonstrators," noted the USCIRF's report last year.
Of course, Egypt is an entirely different situation than Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. But while U.S. armed forces did not participate directly in the removal of America's former ally, the federal government is known to have played a large role in his ouster. American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that the U.S. embassy in Cairo was well aware of the"regime change" operation being planned, and even provided key training and support for its leaders at taxpayer expense. When some of the "activists" were arrested by the Mubarak regime, American officials demanded they be set free. And, according to Egyptian prosecutors, an assortment of U.S. government-funded "Non-Governmental Organizations" (NGOs) continued stirring up the unrest even after the "revolution" succeeded.
So-called "pro-democracy" groups funded by American taxpayers -- the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House -- were very active in Cairo until Egyptian authorities finally cracked down. "The United States and Israel could not create a state of chaos and work to maintain it in Egypt directly, so they used direct funding to organizations, especially American, as a means of implementing these goals," noted Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Aboul Naga in official testimony about the criminal charges against the groups' employees.
But even if the tax-funded "NGOs" are taken at their word and were simply "promoting democracy," as they claim, the interference, aside from being unconstitutional, is considered by some analysts to be a travesty. Consider the recent elections: The Muslim Brotherhood and an even more radical Islamist party dominated, taking control of more than 70 percent of the seats in Parliament.
Tunisia suffered a similar fate. And while the Islamist groups surging to power in the so-called "Arab Spring" claim they will support the individual rights of minorities, very few observers are convinced. Islamic law will almost certainly become the new law of the land. And U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. The Egyptian regime alone is slated to receive about $1.5 billion this year.
MORE OF THE SAME, COMING SOON
Incredibly, despite the unprecedented trail of death and destruction unleashed by recent U.S. government intervention overseas, President Obama, speaking before the UN General Assembly in September, declared that more UN-led wars were needed to ensure peace. He cited Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan as success stories.
Another Obama-backed UN military adventure, while much less well-known around the world, was also cited by the President as a model to emulate in the future: the violent overthrow of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo last year by international forces and local partner militias. "The world refused to look the other way," Obama declared, mistakenly claiming that Gbagbo had lost the election. "The [UN] Security Council, led by the United States, Nigeria, and France, came together to support the will of the people."
The reality of the "regime change" operation, of course, bears little resemblance to the picture painted by Obama. Vote fraud and ballot-box stuffing resulted in the nation's Constitutional Council declaring incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo the election winner. And that was supposed to be the final word, at least according to Ivorian law.
But instead of respecting the nation's constitutional system, Obama, France, and the UN decided to invade. Partnering with local Muslim militias, international forces dropped bombs and marched to the capital to arrest President Gbagbo, a Christian -- slaughtering and raping tens of thousands of Christians along the way. Many fleeing Christians were hacked to death with machetes. U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) called the UN- and Obama-backed campaign "a reign of terror."
The international coalition and its militias on the ground then installed a Muslim central banker named Alassane Ouattara as the Ivory Coast's new ruler. But despite the impression given by Obama in his speech, critics say the campaign was an illegitimate and bloody disaster that should never have happened. But it will not be the last. During Obama's UN speech, he praised the wars and demanded more international military intervention. The two countries in the crosshairs now: Iran and Syria.
After decades of U.S. meddling in Iran that included a CIA-orchestrated coup d' tat and variously backing both sides during the Iran-Iraq war (including giving Hussein WMDs and facilitating secret illegal weapons sales to the Iranian regime), Western powers are at it again. There is already a covert war going on against Iran that involves the use of terror and assassinations. But much of the Western-backed dirty work is being carried out by the officially designated "foreign terrorist organization" known as the -Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Islamo-Marxist group that has murdered more than a few senior American military officials and countless civilians.
Christians (at least those who did not convert from Islam) and Jews in Iran are currently allowed to worship relatively freely. But if Western "regime change" through overt military force does arrive, that would almost certainly change. There are currently almost 500,000 Christians in Iran, and experts say a Western invasion or military campaign would -- like it did in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya -- put them in grave jeopardy.
In Syria, the Western-backed "regime change" campaign is already underway, too. Indeed, the situation there bears striking resemblances to some elements of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Libya. As in Iraq before the American invasion, the Socialist Ba'th Party rules over Syria with an iron fist. But Christians in Syria are better off than almost anywhere in the region, often serving in top government jobs, from Ambassadors to senior law-enforcement officials. Despite the ongoing strife and relatively new wave of Islamist attacks on Christians, Syria remains, according to Christian leaders and analysts, one of the final refuges of Christianity in the region.
"Syria has been very much a safe haven for Christians in the Middle East, one of the few Arab countries where they were treated with respect and had equality with the Muslim majority. Syria also has a history of welcoming in persecuted Christians from other countries," noted Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of the Barnabas Fund, a non-profit group that supports persecuted and oppressed Christians. "But I greatly fear that within the near future we will see a new Iraq developing in Syria."
Christians who fled in droves to Syria from Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion are now faced with the prospect of death and persecution there as Western governments, led by the Obama administration, join forces with al-Qaeda to oust Assad in a scenario reminiscent of the underhanded war on Libya. The Western and Islamist alliance, along with the Turkish regime -- which is becoming increasingly Islamist as it continues to deny its mass murder of Christians over the last century -- have been working with the so-called "Syrian National Council," a coalition of opposition groups that is largely dominated by the Marxist-inspired Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists. And Christians throughout Syria fear that, if Assad falls, Islamists will take over, and Christianity will be brutally wiped out there, too.
Refugees and Reason
Even as U.S. policies continue to lead to massacres of Christian communities throughout the Middle East, members of those communities are having a difficult time escaping the destruction. "Christians are being refused refugee status and face persecution and many times certain death for their religious beliefs undersharia, while whole Muslim communities are entering the US by the tens of thousands per month despite the fact that they face no religious persecution," noted Pamela Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and of Stop Islamization of America.
But how could the situation have become so dire? While not all analysts agree, at the very least, it has become clear that the fate of Christians and Christianity is low on the U.S. government's agenda. And without an outcry, that is unlikely to change.
"Fundamentally, United States policies in the Middle East have never placed a significant priority on the conditions of indigenous Christians or the threats they have been up against just for being Christian. There is an ingrained culture in Washington's foreign policy establishment that prefers to avoid addressing the existential phobias of the region's Christians," noted author Habib Malik, a professor of history and cultural studies at the Lebanese American University. "These beleaguered Christian communities have become marginalized in American strategic thinking and hence expendable next to larger and more pressing economic, political, and security interests."
But according to other experts, the fact that U.S. foreign policy is highly detrimental to Christians around the world should come as no surprise. After all, this is the same government that, along with its partners in the media, has been relentlessly seeking to eliminate all vestiges of Christianity from public life in America.
"Our government's policies in the Middle East are a reflection of our government's policies at home. The war on Christianity in public life here at home in the schools and courthouses is manifested in the Middle East with the destruction of Christianity in the nations where we have been interfering," said CEO Art Thompson of The John Birch Society, citing Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and other nations. But the continuing destruction of Christians and Christian culture is often impelled by forces beyond a particular U.S. administration, even beyond the U.S. government.
"Likewise, the domestic policies of people in the federal government who are connected to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) moving us toward domestic socialism are reflected in the Middle East with CFR-connected organizations financed by the federal government interfering in Middle Eastern politics with disastrous results, with Egypt being the prime example," Thompson added. "The rise of militant Islam is nothing more than a rise of socialism under a different title."
"I do not believe that our fighting men and women had this in mind when they committed themselves to combat," noted Thompson. "Instead of freedom, the aftermath is totalitarianism and less security for the people of all religions." Indeed, polls show U.S. troops are quickly losing confidence in Obama and the wars.
As predicted by innumerable experts, imposing "democracy" in Muslim-majority countries has been a disaster for Christians. Asked for an example of U.S. foreign policy benefiting Christians, a senior official with the USCIRF could not name one. Christianity has managed to survive in the Middle East for 2,000 years without U.S. government intervention. But if current trends continue, the religion of Christ could very well be eradicated in the region of its birth within the next few decades. And unfortunately, America will bear at least part of the responsibility.