Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mosul's Last Mass

It really is 1933 all over again.

For the first time in 1,600 years there was no Mass in Mosul last Sunday,”reports Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda. An Iraqi city which once was a major center of Christian life is now almost devoid of the sacraments, and its thousands of resident Christians are fleeing Sunni radicals’ reign of religious terror.

If the occupation continues, at some point the last church will close, and the last consecrated host will be consumed -- at which point the city will be in one sense devoid of Christ. Think about that for a moment.

...Indeed, if we use a more realistic definition of nationalism, we will find that Islamist movements today ought to be included in it. They constitute a grave and growing threat to the safety and liberty of hundreds of millions of people -- including both non-Muslims and those Muslims who reject the revival of sharia. Religious and ethnic identities often blend and fuse, particularly in the minds of persecutors. So it makes perfect sense to include the worldwide epidemic of religious persecution, most of it perpetrated by radical Muslims, under the heading of racism and nationalism. For these Muslims, there is only one nation: the House of Islam. Everything outside it is the House of War, which they are called to convert, or to conquer and control. Non-Muslims in such societies must either convert or accept a kind of Jim Crow status as inferior, humbled, third-class citizens (dhimmis) who are forbidden to take part in politics and expected to give way to Muslims in every sphere of life.

This is the goal pursued by Islamists who target Christians in a long list of countries from Nigeria and Sudan to Pakistan, and treasured by radical Muslims who dream of breeding and bombing their way to power in England and France. Ancient Christian communities have already been ethnically cleansed from Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion, and Christians (among other religious minorities) fear that a similar fate faces them in Syria, should the al Qaeda-linked rebels in that country overcome its brutal, but religiously neutral, Ba’athist regime. Christians in Egypt face mounting violence as they are made the scapegoats of Islamist frustration in the wake of the military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

We must admit to ourselves the ugly fact that Islamism is an ideology and that its hoped-for Caliphate is a virtual nation (like the Greater Germany Hitler dreamed of). Radical, nationalistic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian radicals number in the millions and seek to control whole countries through groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which was only dislodged from Egypt in 2013 through a brutal military coup. Such groups’ explicit agendas are both expansionist and totalitarian -- openly calling for conquest, and for the domination of every sphere of life by their rigid ideology. Such groups are leading what journalist John Allen has calledThe Global War on Christians, although Hindus, Jews, Alawites, secular Muslims, and other would-be victims also number on their list. In certain ways and for certain groups, it really is 1933 all over again.

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