Jason Kenney: Apparently the Most Courageous Man in Canada
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Sometimes silence isn’t so much golden as deadly. Just ask Christians living in the troubled Middle East.
Their world will be a very dangerous place in 2013 as believers face being wiped out of their “biblical heartlands” because of mounting persecution by militant Islam, according to a new report by the U.K. think tank Civitas.
It warns that Christians suffer greater hostility in the Middle East than any other religious group on the planet while the world wilfully ignores their plight.
And it claims the clear majority of politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians there as well as Africa and Asia, although Canada provides the honourable exceptions to the rule.
Put simply, modern Christianity is a persecuted, not persecuting, religion.
The report, titled Christianophobia, was written by journalist and Blackfriars Hall, Oxford visiting fellow Rupert Shortt.
He says that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored and left unremarked because of fears that any criticism will be denounced as “racism”.
Shortt warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran on a daily basis and risk severe penalties in other countries like Nigeria for the simple act of following their chosen faith.
Local opponents, for example, deem Christian churches and their worshippers in places as far apart as Indonesia and Egypt, as fair targets.
“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world,” Shortt wrote. “That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood.
“The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”
Shortt’s report surveys in detail the extent of Christian persecution in seven countries — Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Burma, China and India.
The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in those countries with Islam as the dominant faith, the report says. It cites estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.
“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” Shortt claims before offering Iraq as an example.
In 1990 there were between 1.2 to 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. By 2003, there were only around half a million. Today there are less than 200,000.
Canada’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, agrees that it is better to speak than remain silent. He is one of the few politicians with a voice on the world stage willing to address the matter of Christian persecution, despite the fact that saying it has become an almost defiant, politically incorrect act in itself.
In April 2012, he noted a disturbing global trend that blames the actions of Christians in the past for the present persecution.
“In our tolerant society, too many are saying that Christians are getting what’s coming to them,” Kenney said. “This is a new form of blood libel. It must be repudiated at every opportunity. There are more Christians persecuted around the world than any other group by orders of magnitude.”
In November, Kenney personally attended the Enthronement of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, now the 118th Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and spoke of the troubles faced by Christians in the region.
“This enthronement... occurs in a much-changed world since the last. Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, have recently been victims of escalating persecution and violence. Pope Tawadros now takes on the responsibility of guiding and protecting the Coptic Church in the midst of these difficulties,” Kenney said.
Nader Fawzy for one applauds Canada’s often-lone voice in speaking up for persecuted Christians. He personally knows what his fellow believers face on an almost daily basis.
The Cairo-born Toronto resident is one of seven Egyptian Coptic Christians sentenced to death in absentia last November for their alleged part in making an anti-Islam film that sparked uproar across the Muslim world.
The father of three first learned in September that the Egyptian government held him partly responsible for the video lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.
Fawzy denies the charge and says his only crime is to be a Christian critic of what he calls the “corrupt, lawless rulers of Egypt.”
“Canada is renowned around the world for its fairness and providing sanctuary to people from oppressed countries,” Fawzy said. “I think it shows good leadership by Canada to speak against those who would kill Christians, no matter who is upset in the process.
“Silence is not an option when it comes to saving lives.”