The killing of religious minorities in the Greater Middle East

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SHAFAQNA – While world powers argue politics and strategies, religious communities in the Greater Middle East have suffered away from the limelight, condemned to a life of terror under the perpetual threats of death, and enslavement Daesh, and its partners in terror have sworn to carry against them.

Powered by a reactionary religious ideology which does not allow for any truths, but its own, Wahhabism, as expressed by the Black Flag army has ambitioned to reform an entire region, to better rise uncontested. In this new crusade millions stand to lose their life – entire communities stand to lose their religious heritage, and their history.

A medieval flashback, Daesh militants are quite simply attempting to re-engineer the Middle East by eradicating all religious minorities, and disappear their historical, architectural and cultural footprint altogether.

In the face of such tragedy, too few have dared stand in opposition, let alone talk about it.

For all their outrage against the evil which is radicalism Western officials have utterly failed to speak on behalf of those communities they claim to share a belief system with. Christians in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria have suffered unbearable hardships … yet their stories have been kept away from the limelight. Why?

Why have Western governments systematically failed to speak against the horrors and abominations Terror has carried out against Christians and other religious minorities in the Greater Middle East? If indeed the West stands in defence of those morals which define the Judeo-Christian world, then why the deafening silence?

In March 3, in South Yemen, in the seaport city of Aden, which city remains under the control of Saudi Arabia, a Christian mission was targeted by radical militants resulting in the death of four nuns and 15 people. In Aden still, churches have been burnt down and Christian cemeteries defiled since the Saudis established their dominion in the South.

In North Yemen synagogues and churches dating back several centuries – reminders that Yemen has always stood for religious pluralism and tolerance, have been reduced to rubbles under Saudi Arabia air raids. Yemen’s religious heritage has been pounded down: mosques, churches, Hindu temples and synagogues … its religious libraries have been burnt down so that the kingdom could better proclaim that only Wahhabism held true wisdom.

In Syria, Libya, and Iraq the same devastation, the same violations, the same hatred for the religious.

Still the so-called Christian world has done little by way of outrage and assistance to their brethren. In 2014 Human Rights Watch published a report in which it details Daesh’s genocidal crusade against all religious minorities, Muslims included. In their hatred Wahhabis have targeted all people and all faiths, leaving room only for their own.

HRW wrote: “The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is killing, kidnapping, and threatening religious and ethnic minorities in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Since capturing Mosul on June 10, 2014, the armed Sunni extremist group has seized at least 200 Turkmen, Shabaks, and Yazidis, killed at least 11 of them, and ordered all Christians to convert to Islam, pay “tribute” money, or leave Mosul by July 19.”

In 2016 this reality has extended to Syria, Yemen and Libya where millions stand to risk to be persecuted for they dared reject Wahhabism, and follow in their own truths.

“Not enough has been said of the suffering of religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa,” said PhD in comparative religion Luigi Santana. He added: “I believe the West has chosen not to react to the plight of religious minorities in the MENA as it would force its officials to discuss some very unpalatable truths: mainly that their friends and allies: Gulf monarchies, and Turkey are preaching, and enacting for a grand religious genocide.”

“The birth place of Christianity, Judaism and Islam the Middle East is home to a multitude of religious communities, each a colour, and a shade of the Divine,” said Alice Cambridge a researcher on Sufism and Islamic history. “It is a great tragedy to see such beauty being obliterated by Wahhabism, this dogmatic beast the Saudis have allowed to be unleash onto the region.”

If Islam continues to be blame for all the destruction, and killing radicals have perpetuated, it remains nevertheless true that Muslims more than most have been targeted. Events in Iraq stand testimony to radicals’ true agenda.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have been slaughtered to appease Wahhabism: from the shores of Libya to Yemen highlands, millions have been displaced and brutalized.

“Wahhabism, which dogma is rooted in Takfirism, this idea that all “infidels” should perish for God’s kingdom to be proclaimed, is fact the real enemy to be fought, opposed and denounced,” said Santana. “Islam, true Islam that is stands in absolute opposition of such violence. It is actually inscribed in the Quran: “To you be your religion, to me be mine.””

The best example of Islam’s innate tolerance can be found in the constitution which the prophet Muhammad devised in Mecca (Saheefah) to forge the first Arab state.

When the Prophet migrated to Medina, his role as a mere religious leader ended; he was now the political leader of a state, governed by the precepts of Islam, which demanded that clear laws of governance be laid out to ensure harmony and stability in a society which once had been distraught by decades of war, one which must ensure the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Jews, Christians and polytheists.  The Prophet then laid down a ‘constitution’ which detailed the responsibilities of all parties which resided in Medina, their obligations towards each other, and certain restrictions which were placed on each.  All parties were to obey what was mentioned therein, and any breach of its articles was regarded as an act of treachery.

The first article of the constitution was that all the inhabitants of Medina, Muslims as well as ll other religious groups: Christian, and polytheists, were “one nation to the exclusion of all others.”  All were considered members and citizens of Medina society regardless of religion, race, or ancestry.  People of other faiths were protected from harm as much as the Muslims, as is stated in another article, “To the Jews who follow us belong help and equity.  He shall not be harmed nor his enemies be aided.” All tribes had to act as a whole with disregard to individual alliances.  Any attack on other religion or tribe was considered an attack on the state and upon the Muslims as well.

The lives of the practitioners of other religions in the Muslim society was also given protective status.  The Prophet said: “Whoever kills a person who has a truce with the Muslims will never smell the fragrance of Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Wahhabism stands in negation of such principles.

As noted by Santana, “much, if not all the violence we have witnessed today is the direct result of deplorable political alliances in between the West and Wahhabist Saudi Arabia. We have bene collectively blind to the real evil of our times for its leaders have thrown enough money at our governments. We have failed our people and our religious communities in our arrogance and greed.”

By Catherine Shakdam for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies

 

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