Wasn’t it Katie Couric who said that the most underreported story of last year was the rise in Islamophobia in America? I think many Christians would disagree with her. But at least the president of France is speaking out firmly; not so our own president who himself claims to be a Christian.
“We cannot accept and thereby facilitate what looks more and more like a particularly wicked programme of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing,” [Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France] said in an annual New Year’s address to religious leaders.
An attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on January 1 killed 21 people.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for that attack, which came after threats published online against Egypt’s Copts from an Al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq which had said it was behind a deadly assault on a church in Baghdad in October.
Forty-four worshippers and two priests died in the attack on a Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad in October, the worst of a series of attacks against Christians in Iraq.
Police in France and several other European countries have boosted security at Coptic churches which were due to celebrate Christmas on Friday, according to the eastern Orthodox church calendar.
Pope Benedict predicts a mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East and Africa due to the increase of violence and murder:
Benedict singled out the “reprehensible attack” on a Baghdad cathedral during Mass in October, killing two priests and more than 50 other worshippers, as well as attacks on private homes that “spread fear within the Christian community and (create) a desire on the part of many to emigrate in search of a better life.”
The Vatican voiced concerns that the steady flight of Christians from Iraq will effectively eliminate the ancient community there.
“At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith,” the pontiff asserted, and cited Christian communities suffering from violence and intolerance particularly in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Holy Land.
He blasted what he called “more sophisticated forms of hostility to religion, which, in Western countries, occasionally find expression in a denial of history and the rejection of religious symbols which reflect the identity and the culture of the majority of its citizens.”