Islam’s Christian Scapegoats

by Raymond Ibrahim

After mentioning the sort of atrocities Christians in Pakistan suffer — including being killed by “blasphemy” laws, constantly “abused in public and harassed in the street by groups of Muslim youths,” ostracized and impoverished by the government — a recent Fox News report reminds us that Christian persecution is further exacerbated by anti-Americanism:

Life on any given day for Pakistani Christians is difficult. But members of Pakistan’s Christian community say now they’re being persecuted for US drone attacks on Islamic militants hiding on the border with Afghanistan. The minority, which accounts for an estimated one percent of the country’s 170 million population, says because its faith is strongly associated with America, it is targeted by Muslims. When America does a drone strike, they come and blame us, Faisal Massi, a 25-year old student from Sau Quarter, a Christian colony in Islamabad. They think we belong to America. It’s a simple mentality.

Not only is it a “simple mentality” — indeed, Muslim tradition holds that “All infidels are one religion” — it’s also a convenient one, whereby Muslims avenge themselves on the “strong infidel” (the “Christian” West) by attacking the “weak infidel” (Christian minorities living under Islam).

Examples of this approach are many: years ago, when Pope Benedict quoted history deemed unflattering to Islam, anti-Christian riots ensued, churches were burned, and a nun was murdered in Somalia; weeks ago, when a fringe American pastor burned a Koran, dozens of U.N. aid workers were killed by Muslims in Afghanistan, some beheaded.

Consider Iraq: its persecuted Christians are being targeted in part “over theirreligious ties with the West.” Even last year’s Baghdad church attack, wherein over fifty Christians were butchered, was in “retaliation” to absurd accusationsagainst the Coptic church; the al-Qaeda affiliated perpetrators went so far as tothreaten all Christians around the world as “legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them.” (Bold as that sounds, the clause “wherever they can reach them” is a reminder that it is the Islamic world’s accessible, vulnerable Christians who will continue to be targeted.)

This phenomenon — attacking one set of Christians in response to another — has roots in Islamic law. The Pact of Omar, a foundational text for Islam’s treatment of dhimmis (i.e., non-Muslims who refused to convert after their lands were seized by Islam) makes this clear. The consequences of breaking any of the debilitating and humiliating conditions Christians were made to accept in order to be granted a degree of surety by the Muslim state were stark: “If we in any way violate these undertakings … we forfeit our covenant, and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition” — penalties that include enslavement, rape, and death. Moreover, the actions of the individual affect the entire group: everyone is under threat to ensure that everyone behaves. As Mark Durie points out,

Even a breach by a single individual dhimmi could result in jihad being enacted against the whole community. Muslim jurists have made this principle explicit, for example, the Yemeni jurist al-Murtada wrote that “The agreement will be canceled if all or some of them break it” and the Moroccan al-Maghili taught “The fact that one individual (or one group) among them has broken the statute is enough to invalidate it for all of them” (The Third Choice, p.160).

Accordingly, months ago, when a Christian man in Egypt was accused of dating a Muslim woman, twenty-two Christian homes were set ablaze to cries of “Allahu Akbar.” Days ago, when Muslims made false accusations against a Copt, one Christian was killed and ten hospitalized, an old woman was thrown out of her second floor balcony, Christian homes, shops, fields, and livestock were plundered and torched — to cries of “Allahu Akbar,” per a report aptly titled “Collective Punishment of Egyptian Christians.”

Thus, as the world shrinks — and as Muslims continue to conflate the West with Christianity — the reasons to persecute Islam’s Christians grow: ethnicity and geography no longer matter; shared religion, even if nominal, makes all “Christians” liable for one another. A dhimmi is a dhimmi is a dhimmi. And if it’s more convenient to punish the Muslim world’s defenseless Christians in response to the West, so be it — even if the latter remains oblivious or indifferent.

©2011 Raymond Ibrahim

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