The imminent extermination of Mosul's Christians
Canon Andrew White has posted an urgent request for prayer: the Christians of Mosul, where they have lived for 1,700 years, are about to succumb to the ISIS interpretation of Sharia - you know, convert to Islam or pay the jizya or prepare to die. As the savvy Digital Nun observes, Christians have been in Mosul since before Mohammed was in nappies. She writes:
This item of news didn’t make the front page of today’s BBC web-site (it is buried deep inside), yet it represents a sickening attempt to violate the consciences of thousands of people and the very real possibility of mass murder. It highlights the difficulty we in the West have in dealing with the religious dimension of conflicts in the Middle East. Part of the problem is that many of us no longer take religion seriously enough to consider how it motivates people and are woefully ignorant both of its teachings and its history. Most of us can’t get inside the mentality of Isis and its particular understanding of Islam so tend to dismiss the kind of ultimatum posed to the Christians of Mosul as mere posturing. We believe in freedom of religion, we say, by which we mean the freedom to worship according to our own beliefs. There are a few limitations on such religious freedom. Human sacrifice, for example, is not permissible, but by and large, we follow the principle of ‘live and let live’. If you want to follow some cranky religion, you do so; just don’t expect me to follow suit. That is not how a member of Isis would see things. It is not how things are in Saudi Arabia. So what do we in the West do?What do we do, indeed.
We must, of course, pray for those who are suffering as if we were suffering with them. We might also send money, for Canon White seems to have to waste an inordinate amount of his precious time making appeals for the odd ten quid.
And we must ensure that our new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond makes religious freedom and the persecution of Christians an absolute priority. William Hague never seemed to be overly concerned, and the sacking of Alistair Burt from his team at the last reshuffle dealt a blow to those who knew of his immense background efforts. But (and take it from His Grace) there are now those within government and very close to the Prime Minister who have every intention of bringing this issue to the fore, and we, too, must make our voices heard. Please don't just post on His Grace's obscure blog: write to your MP, badger the Foreign Secretary, pester the Prime Minister. As Martin Luther King said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Whatever we do, silence is not an option.