Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?

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from The Washington Post,

The atmosphere in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square turned from celebratory to somber as Pope Francis devoted his address Monday to the bleak subject that has occupied most of his recent remarks.

“Our brothers and our sisters … are persecuted, exiled, slain, beheaded, solely for being Christian,” he said, his expression tense, his cadence slow but deliberate.

Speaking from a window of the Apostolic Palace, the pope said that there have been more “martyrs” for Christianity in recent years than in the early centuries of the faith.

“I hope that the international community doesn’t stand mute and inert before such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrisome erosion of the most elementary human rights. I truly hope that the international community doesn’t look the other way.”

The persecution of Christians is a theme that ran through most of the pope’s speeches this weekend.

“May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of the numerous refugees,” he said of the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Has the world really “looked the other way” while Christians are killed?

David Curry, president of the nonprofit Open Doors USA, which advocates for persecuted Christians worldwide, believes so.

“We see a continued pattern in many of these regions of violence and persecution against Christians,” he said in a phone interview. “But the West and Western governments, including the U.S., when they conflict-map these issues, they refuse to address the fact that Christians are being targeted.”

As evidence, Curry pointed to President Obama’s Friday statement on the attack at Garissa University. Despite reports that the attackers targeted Christian students and an al-Shabab statement calling the attack an “operation against infidels,” Obama’s remarks make no mention of religion.

It’s not the first time this criticism has been leveled at the president. When the 21 Egyptian Christians were killed in Libya, many commenters — mostly from conservative outlets — criticized Obama for not identifying the victims’ faith in his statement on the beheadings.

According to Open Doors, 2014 saw a huge increase in violence against Christians. Researchers for the group found that 4,344 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014 — more than twice the number killed during the same period the previous year. Curry says those numbers are a low estimate, as the group only counts incidents in which the victim can be identified by name and an exact cause has been attributed.

A report last month by the progressive Center for American Progress on Christians in the Middle East found that many centuries-old Christian communities in the region are in danger of dying out. “Christians around the Middle East have been subject to vicious murders at the hands of terrorist groups, forced out of their ancestral lands by civil wars, suffered societal intolerance fomented by Islamist groups and subjected to institutional discrimination found in the legal codes and official practices of many Middle Eastern countries,” the report said.

“It fits the definition of ethnic cleansing,” Hudson said of the long-standing communities that have been killed or uprooted by the Islamic State. “They need to convert, they need to leave, or they will die.”

Though few deny that Christians are being targeted, analysts acknowledged Curry’s fear that countries such as the United States are reluctant to intervene out of fear that they’ll be accused of Islamophobia. “The fact that extremists accuse the United States and other outside powers of being so-called ‘crusaders’ who promote an agenda supporting Christians is a reality that creates many potential pitfalls for engaging directly on this issue,” the Center for American Progress said in its report.

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