Last chance to save region’s beleaguered minorities

Fires rage in central Cairo following clashes between protesters and police (Photo: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

This post is dedicated to Point of No Return reader Andrew. At this very moment Andrew may be out there on the street demonstrating against Egypt’s tyrannical regime. We wish you well, Andrew, and all the brave souls who want Egypt to become a better place for all its people.

The following article for the Hudson Institute by Frank Salameh clearly expresses what is at stake for the Middle East’s vanishing and oppressed minorities unless democracy and the respect of civil and human rights are allowed to take root in the ‘Arab’ world.

The Copts — and other Near Eastern Christians facing extinction — in their ancestral homelands no less—should be spared the condescending wringing of hands and other worthless histrionics of collective sorrow. Something else, of an entirely different nature, needs to take place: politicians, academics, prelates, lay leaderships, Middle East experts, and decent Muslims all over the world could resolve to take a firm and decisive stand against Muslim supremacists. Nothing short of summoning brutally honest Arab and Muslim introspection — by Arabs and Muslims—should be deemed acceptable any longer.

The culture and theology that produce these sorts of genocidal impulses—of which the Copts are only the most recent victims—should be put on trial; not the “terrorists,” and not “al-Qaeda.”

The ongoing destruction of Eastern Christians is not a modern phenomenon, nor is it a reaction to Western colonialism, American meddling, the existence of Israel, the war in Iraq, or economic hardships in the Middle East—the standard pretexts flaunted by a biased Middle East scholarship and media.

The deliberate, methodical erasure of the histories, languages, cultures, and memories of indigenous non-Muslim Middle Easterners is a phenomenon fourteen centuries in the making. An honest recognition of this horrid legacy is imperative to a sound understanding of the Middle East.

Yet, the LA-Timesgave the Copts’ plight brief mention in this past Saturday’s edition, concluding with the mind-numbing claim that the shrinking numbers of Middle Eastern Christians were the outcome of economic hardship. This is arguably the saddest chapter in the Near Eastern Christians’ exodus saga of the past fourteen centuries; the distortion and dismissal of their plight, and the simplistic reduction of its causes to mere “economic” impulses.

This is the profoundly flawed “right way of thinking” mindset about the Middle East today validated by an LA-Times claiming that:

authorities worry that Christian communities in relatively safe countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iran, also are shrinking, though driven more by a search for economic opportunities than by fear of violence. [… Middle Eastern Christians] tend to be better educated and more Western-oriented than their Muslim compatriots and often utilize family or religious ties abroad to emigrate.

The LA-Times is in good company with such misleading clichés: As recently as June, 2009, the apolitical, tax-exempt, and eco-friendly National Geographic magazine deemed it gauche-caviar-stylish to attribute the disappearance of Near Eastern Christians to the establishment of the State of Israel and the 11th century Crusades. Gone from this shoddy history were the 7th century Arab-Muslim conquests, and the subjugations, expulsions, massacres, and mass conversions of indigenous non-Arabs. Should our “newspapers of record” and our “scientific and educational journals” tell the Copts’ stories of dispossession, marginalization, persecutions, and impending extinction in light of the savagery that was the 7th century? Should anyone venture to attribute the plight of non-Muslim Middle Easterners to Islamic triumphalism?

There are, however, those who still challenge this re-writing of history. Early 20th century Armenian-American novelist William Saroyan was one such iconoclast; his poignant short story, Seventy Thousand Assyrians, is an example of a decent man’s refusal to commit the aggrieved Near Eastern Christians to oblivion.It can be read like a news item from yesterday’s newspaper; even though it was written 75 years ago, on the heels of the Assyrian Genocide, long before the invention of Political Correctness, at a time when murderers could still be taken to task, and when one could still name names and level a forthright “J’accuse!” without being branded an “Islamophobe.”

Here is how things ended for the Assyrians close to a century ago; and how things might still end for the Copts and other remaining Near Eastern Minorities in our Orwellian universe of newspeak and Political Correctness:

“Seventy thousand,'” wrote Saroyan; “That is all. Seventy thousand Assyrians in the world, and the Arabs are still killing us. They killed seventy of us in a little uprising last month. There was a small paragraph in the paper…..We’ll be wiped out before long. ”

What is at stake in the Middle East today are Copts, Maronites, Assyrians, Jews, and other non-Muslim minorities from the most ancient civilizations — besieged, endangered, in need of our immediate help.

Read article in full


  • Andrew should greet his new masters. Without Mubarak it's pretty clear the Muslim Brotherhood will take control – ElBaradei is already setting things there for them (in fact, for more than 2 years).

    And when the Muslims take over, Mubarak's dictatorship will be like a walk in the park…

  • Did I mention, Anon, for your enlightenment, that some palestinian authority officials are blaming British agent, Alistair Crooke, for stealing authentic documents from the PA's negotiations unit? They blame Crooke along with an American named Clayton Swisher and other persons.

    One reason why Israelis don't like Crooke is that he has been trying to promote the Hamas since at least 2002. The PA is not happy with Hamas either, because Hamas is a competing gang of thugs. See link about crooke & hamas:

  • Interesting what Sylvia said about the bbc and al-jazeera pushing false news from Egypt. Her mention of a report in the Telegraph that USA was secretly backing "rebel leaders" behind the uprising is also interesting.

    Our commenter "Anonymous" has a simplistic understanding of the Middle East. He also likes to express himself in simplistic slogans: "US-Israel puppet regime."
    Maybe Anon ought to read the Telegraph article cited by Sylvia. If the Egyptian regime is really a puppet of the USA, then why is it protesting US policy? And to call Egypt a puppet of Israel is beyond absurd. Yes, there is some security cooperation between Egypt and Israel. But in the political area, in the UN arena, for instance, Egypt is very hostile to Israel along with the rest of the Arab League states. If Anon read Israeli press & electronic media, he might note some of the important disputes between Israel and Egypt, for example, on Israel's presumed nuclear weapon.

    As for the USA, can Anon conceive the possibility that the USA & UK play a two-sided or three-sided game? Can they be publicly pro-Mubarak and covertly for his overthrow? Too Machiavellian you think, Anon? Certainly, if the bbc falsely reported that members of the Mubarak family are in London, then the UK govt is consciously trying to undermine Mubarak and his regime. That is because the bbc is an arm of the Foreign Office in its reports from abroad and in its broadcasts abroad.

    In this vein, Anon, it has been reported that the Palestinian Authority has openly accused the Amir of Qatar of practically being an American agent because Qatar is where the US CENTCOM military command HQ is located within eyesight of the al-Jazeera HQ. Did you know, Anon, that the original staff of al-Jazeera when it began broadcasting about 12 or so years ago had been mainly trained by –yes, yes– by the bbc?

    Why is the palestinian authority angry at the Amir of Qatar? Because al-Jazeera has been promoting the propagandistic "palestine paper." These papers are some authentic, some fake, and some doctored real documents. The collection as a whole is meant to make the palestinian authority and Abu Mazen look like traitors to their cause. The way the Guardian and LA Times promoted the "documents" was even worse than the "documents" themselves, as they took care to smear Israel's main opposition leader Tsipi Livni. Middle East expert Barry Rubin explains why the "palestine papers" are a tendentious, fake collection. See Rubin's website.

  • According to a group of young Israeli students of Arabic presently in Egypt and interviewed on Israel radio, people in the street are very happy of general Omar Suliman's appointment as Vice-President and are chanting "the army is with the people".
    There is vandalismbut the situation seems to have calmed down so far.

    Less than an hour ago, some forty Israelis who were in Egypt for diverse reasons have landed at Ben Gurion airport.

  • Egypt has jailed 100,000 political prisoners, maintains a police force of 1.4 million — four times the size of its standing army — and is a place where 200 critics of its president have disappeared without trace since 1990.
    Not sure if Egypt is any better – I think the competition for the title 'most Arab tyrannical regime' is pretty fierce.
    The socialist left seems to have a blindspot over Syria – perhaps because it is 'secular'. Azmi Bishara considers himself a 'Syrian' Palestinian.
    I agree with you Sylvia that sadly, western-style democracy is not likely any time soon.

  • Bataween
    I don't think Mubarak's regime is particularly tyrannical, at least not by Arab countries' standards. Full, Western-style democracy is impossible in Muslim countries. If anything, Syria , Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya are much more oppressive. yet, the socialist/communist left is very supportive of the Syrian regime. People like Azmi Bishara, for example.

  • The reports fronm the BBC and Al Jazeera that members of the Mubarak family are now in London are now known to be false.

  • Just in: Omar Suliman (former head of the Egyptian Mukhabarat and not implicated in politics) has now been sworn in as Egypt's Vice-President.

    The Interior Minister has left the country. This is puzzling to Western analysts since we know him as someone very much pro-Mubarak and the strong man in terms of Egyptian security. However, I don't think it is unsual in similar situations to get rid of the face of oppression.
    Contrary to what has been reported previously, Al Baradei is not under house arrest.

    Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has called Mubarak to wish Egypt well. Hamas-ruled Gaza, an extension of the Muislim Brotherhood, has remained silent so far.

    Earlier, Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Al Qaradawi has called from Qatar on Mubarak to do like Ben Ali and step down. He has called on the population (apparently his loyalists) to avoid confrontation with the army. And indeed the demonstrators are now mingling with the army, despite the curfew.

  • Well, Jew-Israel Bashing Addicts haven't had their fix for one whole day now since all headlines are about Egypt. Their minds are starting to play tricks on them.

    But – it won't be long until it'll be all Israel's fault.

  • You have TOTALLY misunderstood, anonymous.
    Where did I mention Jews? There are hardly any Jews left to speak of in Egypt.
    I am expressing my sympathy with people like Andrew (not Jewish) who are demonstrating for change.
    We want to see a new Egypt emerge, a democratic and pluralistic society.
    It is too late for the Jews – but replacing these old despots with something better may arrest the decline of the Copts and other minorities.

  • So it's more important to care about the Jews in those countries than it is to care about all the others whose rights have been continuously trampled on by the regimes they're rioting against? I understand that Jews haven't had the best experience in Arab lands but why put Jewish welfare above the welfare of everyone? Why re-enforce the stereotype that Jews are ethnocentric? If anything, we should be supporting the riots 100% in hopes that ALL the people in those regions will finally be able to rule themselves and not have to deal with a US-Israeli puppet regime which doesn't represent them.

  • Breaking news:
    Mubarak just appeared on Egyptian TV a few minutes ago announcing that he is firing the Parliament in the morning and replacing it with the new Parliament that will implement the promised reforms.
    Mubarak said he is going nowhere, and not heeding anyone's calls to step down.

    This after the Muslim Brotherhood took to the street and their leaders called on Mubarak to step down.

    I imagine the world leaders are relieved. Too much at stake.

    Yet, reports of 27 dead so far, acts of vandalism and violence in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and also Port-Said.

    Cairo is under curfew until 8:00 in the morning.


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