MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Pyotr Romanov.)
While recognizing the universal and appropriate appeals for tolerance for Muslims, I'd like to draw your attention to the strange attitude of the Western political elite, which has recently become so acute. I do not know what stands behind the lack of foresight, but too many of the political elite's actions have dealt a devastating blow to Christianity.
I read the latest report: Andreas Abuna, Auxiliary Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, said the strength of the Christian communities of Iraq was diminishing at a shocking rate. Despair, constant fear and lack of hope are compelling more and more Christians to leave Iraq. People do not want to leave their country, but they have to go because of the situation, he said. Christian rights and the status of believers went from bad to worse after the parliamentary elections last December. Iraq is flooded with police, their number is constantly growing, especially in the suburbs of Baghdad, but the protection they offer is very mediocre, said the bishop.
U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say Iraq is becoming more democratic and the situation is improving, but eyewitnesses of what is happening there are not rejoicing over the democratic parliamentary elections or the growing number of the local police. Under the plan of the founders of Iraqi democracy, the latter should replace occupational troops.
The blood of many of our brethren has been spilled and many of our children have become orphans. Although there are still many believers in churches, if you go out into the street, you'll understand that Christians in Iraq have been done away with, the bishop said. The latest statistics put the number of Christians in Iraq at around 750,000, as compared to about a million before the U.S. invasion, according to The Universe Catholic Newspaper.
Thus, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has put an end to Christianity there. Those Christians who have not yet run away from U.S. bombings, will flee from the U.S.-trained new Iraqi police, which is less enthusiastic about defending Christians leaving church on Sundays.
After the Western coalition intervened in Afghanistan and the Taliban was defeated, the Afghans "liberated" by the West were ready to pass a death sentence on a compatriot for converting to Christianity. When the man was eventually freed after international pressure, crowds of local people vehemently protested his release. Experience shows that even if there are positive changes in Afghanistan, they have nothing to do with Sharia, or Islamic law, and have little effect on the mentality of most of its citizens. Much time will have to pass in Afghanistan before its residents understand that Christians are also human. This will not happen under President Karzai or Bush. It's doubtful that we'll see another Afghan convert to Christianity anytime soon. It is easy to see that after this saga the attitude of Afghans to Christianity has not become any better.
I could cite Europe as an example. The European Union has deleted any mention of Christianity from its constitution, as if it has not shaped European civilization. European bureaucrats think that they have been politically correct to appease "new Europeans," but in fact they have distorted the historical truth and offended many "old Europeans." Such omissions are far from harmless - they are changing the image of Europe, and I'm not sure this change is for the better.
Here's an abstract from an article written by one of my readers: "Imagine, new mosques are mushrooming up here, in Scandinavia, a country where people have not heard of anybody but Thor and Christ for millennia." He goes on to say that the police squelch the discontent of the local Protestants - a Protestant is liable for a fine of 4,000 euros and a suspended term in prison of two to three months. At the same time, dozens of mullahs in mosques are urging the destruction of Jews and Christians, but in this case the law is silent.
If this is not an exaggeration, it appears that a Christian cannot feel safe even in the center of Europe. Who is to blame for this situation then besides the Europeans?
Or take one more example: Slobodan Milosevic, who recently died in the Hague Tribunal prison, might have been a true dictator, but this fact is no excuse for ousting all Christians, this time Orthodox ones, from Kosovo. Christian churches are desecrated and burnt down by Albanian Muslims with the connivance of the "peacemakers." Meanwhile, we are in the 21st century, and Kosovo is an ancient center of Christian culture. Perhaps these are not the right "peacemakers" and this is not the right policy?
It is high time to understand that selective political correctness is not political correctness, but a hypocritical imitation. If you pity Muslims, pity Christians as well. If you pity Catholics, pity Orthodox Christians, too. If you pity the Blacks, pity also the Whites. If you pity Palestinians, pity Israelis, too.
Finally, in walking into the fire that is Iraq or Kosovo, the West has no right to forget about their residents - common civilians. They have nothing to do with political disputes. A total of 250,000 Christians had to flee Kosovo during the U.S. intervention. Basically, all those wearing a cross had to leave.
I don't agree with the many critics who think Canadian film producer Paul Haggis did not quite deserve his recent Oscar (for his film Clash). I'm convinced that he has exposed the main headache of our time - the clash of people belonging to different civilizations, but having to live under one roof.
The world is approaching a point where everyone needs protection. Black racism is in no way better than white and religious fanaticism is awful no matter what its origin. The Western political elite and human rights champions should adjust their compass. The time has come, or rather has come again, for Christians to be protected in real earnest.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.