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Jewish World Review
May 3, 2006
/ 5 Iyar, 5766
The Muslim world's new martyrs
Richard Z. Chesnoff
It's one of today's most compelling news stories, yet it's all but ignored by most of the
international media. I'm talking about the growing persecution of Christian minorities in the
It briefly made headlines last month when machete-armed Egyptian fanatics attacked worshipers
in three Coptic churches in Alexandria and murdered one aged man at prayer. Then of course,
there was March — when an Afghan man escaped a death sentence for the "crime" of converting to
But how many people heard about the recent arrest and jailing in Saudi Arabia of a group of
Filipino guest workers for holding Christian prayer services in the privacy of their home? Or
who knows about the three Sunday School teachers charged in Indonesia last year with the crime
of "Christianization" and summarily sentenced to three years in prison?
The story is similar wherever Sharia — orthodox Islamic law — reigns supreme. From Pakistan to
Darfur, Christians have become regular targets for Islamic gangs who shoot at worshipers, then
torch their houses of worship.
Even in Islamic countries not strictly run by Sharia law, pressures mount on local Christians
to leave the homes they've known for centuries. Iraq's Christian sects, among the oldest
Christian communities anywhere in the world, have been directly targeted by terrorist bombs,
and Christians are now high on the list of those fleeing Iraq's sectarian strife. Thirty years
ago, Lebanon was 60% Christian. Since then, an estimated 3.5 million Christians have emigrated,
reducing the country's Christian population percentage to barely 25%. And in the Palestinian
territories, direct and indirect pressures have also led to an increasing Christian exodus. One
striking result: Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and once a predominantly Christian Arab
community now has an overwhelming Muslim majority.
Few people seem prepared to connect the dots. Some American evangelical groups like the
Washington-based International Christian Concern try to raise the alarm. And America's Copts,
especially those based in the New York area, actively lobby against the legal and social
discrimination that face their Egyptian co-religionists. Yet most mainstream church groups seem
to ignore the threat.
During certain periods, Islamic countries did allow "the peoples of the book" to live in
relative peace among them. But the rise of Islamic extremism is silencing even voices of
limited tolerance. More than 800,000 Jews were forced to flee the Islamic world between 1948
and 1955. Unless there is an outcry against the new wave of discrimination now facing
Christians, these ancient communities are also doomed to disappear.
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The Arrogance of the French
This book will open your eyes!
Why do the French hate America? Richard Chesnoff has figured it out and informs us with entertaining clarity.
France sucks, but this book doesn't.
Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
Americans-and the French-will learn a lot from this book.
Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Richard Z. Chesnoff insightfully-and entertainingly-explores America's most dysfunctional relationship with America's least reliable ally.
Sales help fund JWR.
JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a contributing correspondent at US News & World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, is "The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us & Why The Feeling Is Mutual". (Click on cover above to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
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© 2005, Richard Z. Chesnoff