The Persecuted Church: 2012GEORGE J. MARLIN
Here's a rundown of some 2012 incidents in Muslim nations that have received insufficient media attention.
In August 2012, for instance, 120 Coptic families fled from the village of Dahshur, south of Cairo, following a dispute between a Coptic tailor and his Muslim customer. The tailor's house was burned to the ground and the customer severely injured. Muslims seeking revenge also burned down a church and drove Christians from their homes.
Bishop Kyrillos, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assuit, warned the new government, "The new constitution should be for all Egyptians not just one group." He underscored the right of Christians to participate in the creation of a new Egypt.
Reacting to the threats of Muslim Brotherhood militias to Christians demonstrating against President Morsi's proposed constitution, Father Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Bishops, did not mince his words: "Whenever Islam becomes politicized it automatically turns into a fascist dictatorship. Then comes the impending threat that sharia in its most fundamental form will be introduced."
Church officials fear that there will be a mass Christian exodus from Egypt because wording of sections of the constitution are open to fundamentalist interpretations that deny religious liberty.
With more and more Saudi Arabian extremists immigrating to Bosnia and opening businesses, abuse of Catholics, particularly nuns wearing habits, has significantly increased. Sister Ivanka, Bosnian Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King, notes, "every day life is becoming increasingly difficult in general." Nuns travel in pairs out of fear of abuse and they are turned away or harassed at local shops. At one bakery, according to Sister Ivanka, several sisters had this experience: "Although the loaves were in plain sight, the proprietor claimed he was out of bread . . . He simply did not want to sell it to a Catholic nun."
Cardinal Vinko Pulic, Archbishop of Sarajevo, reported last year to Aid to the Church in Need that, "the growing process of Islamization in Bosnia-Herzegovina is being funded by radicals in the Middle East." In recent years, over seventy new mosques were built in Sarajevo with Saudi oil-dollars.
Tens of thousands of Catholics were killed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and since then a majority has fled. Today, there are approximately 450,000 down from 835,000.
The ordinary, Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, accused the government of a "very brutal act of injustice" and "carrying out a criminal act of land-grabbing." Dr. Paul Bhatti, brother of Pakistan's assassinated Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, has called on the international community to help Christians there. Dr. Bhatti, like his martyred brother, is a Catholic and points out that new blasphemy laws, as well as growing intolerance and fanaticism, has led to an increase in arbitrary actions against many of the nation's 1.2 million Catholics.
The near total silence internationally towards these situations across the Middle East is deeply disturbing and bodes ill for the future. The patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church in Beirut, Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III, recently told Aid to the Church in Need:
Permit me to speak quite frankly. There's a lot of hypocrisy in all this. For many [EU] governments it's merely a matter of economic interests. They don't really care about the fate of the Christians in the Middle East. Otherwise, they would advocate equality before the law and the observance of human rights for all, including in those countries where the so-called Arab Spring has not taken place . . . This is not a matter of taking sides for or against Assad or some other potentate in the region. It's a matter of equal rights for all. It's a matter of the primacy of human rights and not the primacy of one religion . . . I said it to the government in Paris and I'll say it to you: Fundamentalist Islam does not want a dialogue on equal terms in the long run. If the EU were serious about its human rights principles, they would openly take up the cause of the future of younger generations in the region.
George J. Marlin. "The Persecuted Church: 2012." The Catholic Thing (January 23, 2013).
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George J. Marlin is the author/editor of ten books including The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact and Fighting the Good Fight: A History of the New York Conservative Party. George Marlin is the editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen: A Topical Compilation of the Wit, Wisdom, and Satire of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. In 1993, Mr. Marlin was the Conservative Party nominee for mayor of the City of New York, and in 1994 he served on Governor-elect Pataki's transition team. He served two terms as Executive Director and CEO of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In that capacity he managed thirty-five facilities including the World Trade Center, LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark Airports, PATH Subway and the four bridges and two tunnels that connect New York and New Jersey. His articles have appeared in numerous periodicals including The New York Times, New York Post, National Review, Newsday, The Washington Times and the New York Daily News. Mr. Marlin is also general editor of The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton.
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