Category Archives: Middle East

Where I’ve Been & the Christian Genocide Resolution

Port Huron, 1939 USGS section
Port Huron, from 1939 USGS quad map.

Hello and happy Tuesday!  I haven’t posted in a while (which isn’t terribly unusual, I know), and knowing full well that my mind has been elsewhere, I wanted to give a “why.”  As I’ve posted about before, we moved from Southern California back to my home state of Michigan, and more specifically, to Port Huron.  We decided on this location because of all the water (and we happily concur that the St. Clair area’s nick name of Blue Water is justified), because we could afford to buy a low-cost house, and because–on paper, at least–it looked like there were enough jobs to keep us going.

(We originally wanted to move to Grand Rapids, which is the only region in Michigan really recovered from the last “recession,” but couldn’t get help with buying a low-cost home at a distance . . . realtors have replaced the lowest place holder of the employed in my mind now, with lawyers bumped up one.)

While the job front turned out to be less rosy than we anticipated, I have enjoyed getting back into my older career choice involving historical resources.  I used to work in cultural resources management–prehistory, then history–until consulting jobs became too far away from my family (as you might imagine, permanent employment in this field is rare and you have to be willing to move to wherever you can get it).

Now that we live in a place with obvious history and historic structures, my passion for investigating those things has been rekindled.   And finding that the city is a very mixed bag of preservation and anit-preservation sentiment (the state is having an anti-preservation infection now, too), which is reflected in how much a regular person can find out about it here, I decided to make a web page about it, with the hope that others would like it and benefit from it and a group would form.  I’ve spent a ton of my time getting up to speed on the history in Port Huron, catching up on preservation laws and such, and building the site:  Port Huron Area History & Preservation Association.

St Joseph Church, Port Huron
One of the historic churches in Port Huron, St. Joseph’s.

The city, being one of the older and busier ones in historic Michigan, has quite a few grand old churches, too.  And, I never ended up posting about something that we, as Christians, were excited to find here:  nativity scenes out in public areas at Christmas time.  How refreshing!  There weren’t a huge number of them, but they did pop up, and one felt that you might hear a “Merry Christmas!” come your way and not just a “happy holidays.”  I did run across an internet post somewhere by a lady who had lived here and moved to Tennessee, where there was even more openness and  joy displayed over Christmas, not just “the holidays.”  She was critical of Port Huron, but it is better here than where we used to live.

On a very different note, the US house of representatives voted 383-0 (!) in favor of calling what ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq and Syria “genocide.”  Other countries in the world that seem to be less sympathetic towards Christians have already declared that Christian genocide has been happening.  Why is the US behind in doing so?  Obama and his administration, that’s why.  It’s strange how this administration can use the arguments of the persecutors to justify a “not genocide” stance when others know from either experience of research that the actions behind those arguments are covers for murderous intent, for the actual genocide going on.  Read about it at House Votes to Declare ISIS’s Actions ‘Genocide’: What’s Next? , House Passes Resolution Calling ISIS’ Mass Slaughter of Christians a ‘Genocide’, and at other online news outlets.

“The facts are well documented in our nearly 300-page report on this matter, and we must remember that for the State Department to issue declaration of genocide, the standard required is merely probable cause, which any prosecutor could find on any of ISIS’s Facebook pages.”  S. Smith, 03-15-16

 

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Raping of Women and Children Now Allowed in the West; Why Not, Eh?

CS Lewis sun quote
Through God can we see good and beauty, as well as contrasting evil and malignancy, and seek to keep victims from the latter.

“Amnesty International reports that Sweden has the highest number of rapes in Europe and the lowest conviction rate. According to Swedish Public Radio, in Stockholm alone, over 1,000 Swedish women reported that a Muslim immigrant raped them; 300 were under age 15.”  “What the EU fails to acknowledge and each country is realizing is that Muslim immigrants have no intention of integrating. Eighty percent are on welfare, following Islamic teaching to take money from the non-Muslim “Kuffar.” Both Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland advocate complete extinction of Jews.”  As Christianity Exits Europe, ‘Criminal Muslims’ Fill Void with Rabid Violence (Dec 2014).

A chronology of the violence (including honor killings – or are those just “misunderstandings”?) and non-integration Muslim immigrant issues, via linked news articles.

Continue reading Raping of Women and Children Now Allowed in the West; Why Not, Eh?

“God’s Battalions”: A Corrective to Revisionist Crusades History

Crosses carved by pilgrims into a wall of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.  (Yair Talmor, Wikimedia Commons).
Crosses carved by pilgrims into a wall of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. (Yair Talmor, Wikimedia Commons).

“God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades” by Rodney Stark

“Muslims were [not] more brutal or less tolerant than were Christians or Jews, for it was a brutal and intolerant age. It is to say that efforts to portray Muslims as enlightened supporters of multiculturalism are at best ignorant.” (p 29)

In this reader-accessible but academic book, Professor Stark provides a very much needed corrective to the still accepted myths about the crusades into the Holy Land. Besides addressing the fallacies repeated as fact today (a few are given below), Stark presents a centuries-long history leading up to the crusades. Despite the reputation the Catholic Church earned over its handling of its Inquisition, at this earlier time violence was considered sinful. Even the killing of a criminal by a knight was deemed a bad thing. This may explain why Catholics didn’t respond sooner to centuries of mass murders and church destruction by Muslims in Palestine (see Moshe Gil, History of Palestine, 634-1099).

Fallacy 1: Crusaders were motivated by greed.

Fidelity 1: Piety and freeing the Holy Land, Jerusalem, were the crusaders’ motives. It must be understood that for some time Catholics believed that atonement for sins was gained through a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, for this is what their confessors told them. Obviously, this was spiritually very important to them and had nothing to do with wealth (in fact, pilgrimage was incredibly time-consuming, expensive, and dangerous). So when Pope Urban II announced that regaining Jerusalem would cleanse the liberators, it wasn’t an entirely new concept (becoming sin-free through violence was, however).

Fallacy 2: Muslims were tolerant and allowed conquered people to maintain their faith.

Fidelity 2: Depending on the time and area, conquered peoples were either (1) given the choice to convert to Islam or face death or enslavement, or (2) forced to pay heavy taxes, cease church or synagogue building, and never read scripture or pray aloud (even in their own homes).

More specifically relevant to the impetus for the crusades, and a definite show of Muslim intolerance, are the actions of the Turkish commander Atsiz. Sieging Jerusalem in 1071 or 1073, he promised the inhabitants safety if they relented. But when the city gates opened, “the Turkish troops were released to slaughter and pillage, and thousands died. Next, Atsiz’s troops murdered the populations of Ramla and Gaza, then Tyre and Jaffa” (p 97).

Fallacy 3: The crude European crusaders ruined the higher level culture of the Arab Muslims.

Fidelity 3: There are two related components of this fallacy that have been disproven but still remain in our culture. The first is that the Europeans were brutish children of the “Dark Ages.” As early as 1981 Encyclopedia Britannica refuted the long-held academic view that Europe even experienced a “Dark Ages.” On the contrary, this time period saw both the rise of agricultural

innovations that led to the biggest and strongest population ever, and many technological innovations that made the crusades possible.

Secondly, if you consider legitimate the claiming of conquered peoples’ knowledge as one’s own, then Islam “attained” high levels of it. Consider these very few examples: (1) “Arabic numerals” are Hindu; (2) Avicenna, considered the greatest of the Muslim philosopher-scientists, was Persian (this is true of many others, too); (3) Medical knowledge was from the Nestorian Christians. As conquerors, the Arabs made Arab names necessary and the Arab language mandatory for the intelligentsia.

Goodbye Kiddy! The way of Taliban love

Instead of giving their kids comforting dolls, the Taliban give them bombs and tell them they won't get blown up along with their victims.
Instead of giving their kids comforting dolls, the Taliban give them bombs and tell them they won’t get blown up along with their victims.

Update:  In early January, 2015, the anti-Western, anti-secular Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram used a 10 year old girl to kill shoppers at a market in Nigeria.  The girl was blown up, 16 killed, and 27 injured.  The group has killed thousands since 2002, and kidnapped more than 200 girls in April, 2014; the girls were never rescued or freed.  June 2015 Update:  The practice continues: Boko Haram uses Young Girls as Suicide Bombers in Terror Campaign.

As reported in January (2014), a young girl who was supposed to detonate a suicide vest to kill checkpoint police turned herself in after being beaten by her father for not carrying out the deed.  Though the Taliban denied that young Spozhmai was sent on a suicide mission, the Afghan police believed her.  Spozhmai was lucky – though beaten, she didn’t get blown to bits.

According to one source, in the first part of 2011, four children aged 8 to 14 were not so fortunate and died along with several victims when their suicide vests detonated.  Other children that year had also been deployed as suicide bombers, but were stopped prior to anyone getting hurt.  The Taliban, despite its denials, has been training and deploying children suicide bombers since at least 2010.

The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians. Any political movement or army that manipulates or coerces children into becoming human bombs has lost touch with basic humanity.  Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch

Another source, from 2012, gave a more detailed and disturbing account of children suicide bombers used by the Taliban in Afghanistan in the whole of 2011 (this also happens in Pakistan and can be read about here):

A senior Afghan intelligence official estimated that more than 100 had been intercepted in the past 12 months, including 20 from the Kandahar area in the south. 

The largely illiterate boys are fed a diet of anti-Western and anti-Afghan government propaganda until they are prepared to kill, he said. But the boys are also assured that they will miraculously survive the devastation they cause.

“The worst part is that these children don’t think that they are killing themselves,” said the official. “They are often given an amulet containing Koranic verses. Mullahs tell them, ‘When this explodes you will survive and God will help you survive the fire. Only the infidels will be killed, you will be saved and your parents will go to paradise’.”

Moving back to the very recent past, just a day or two after Spozhmai told her story to Afghan police, a 14 year old boy stopped a child suicide bomber in his school.  The teen, Aitzaz Hasan, tackled a suspicious teen at his school and the other teen’s bomb went off, killing Hasan and himself.  Violence has only increased in Afghanistan and the regular populace is sick of it, and sick of their government not doing anything about it.  Attacks on schools have increased and school attendance has, not surprisingly, decreased.

No doubt your thoughts are to pray for peace in Afghanistan, and for no more children, in particular, to be prey to the satanic tactics of the Taliban.  We should pray about this and for the oppressed people there (and bless you for doing so), but it doesn’t hurt to know how our government (and the Western press) is handling issues like this, and the related issue – in my mind – of ignoring all the Christians being killed and displaced out of the Middle East and other Muslim countries.

It doesn’t hurt to also know what lying hypocrites groups like the Taliban are.  The Taliban continue to deny they use children bombers, even though there is a great deal of irrefutable evidence against their denials.  The Taliban has codes they claim to go by, and using children in this way defies their own code.   It goes against the Quran as well.  Yet, they are still very willing to have Muslim children killed for their cause.

The Palestinians have also done this in the past, and today train children to be suicide bombers.  Yet, somehow, Israel is to blame for all the ills of the Palestinians and many Western countries are not only boycotting Israel but are increasingly antisemitic.  And, our government seals its lips when it could educate, not only about the tactics of Islamists, but the post-WWII history and legitimacy of Israel as a nation and why the UN did not also grant statehood to Palestine at that time or in the years afterwards.

Our country wrings it hands and vacillates regarding Syria.  It ignores the persecution and killing of Christians in Egypt.  The issues are very many and a future post will outline the extermination and the apparent coming extinction of Christians from Muslim countries.  Jews are already missing from the Middle East, except in Israel, and they are increasingly unwelcome elsewhere.  It is now happening to Christians, too.  And The West stands by, warming up to the idea.  It’s now pretty easy to imagine the biblical scenario of God’s two witnesses during the end days (Revelation 11:8-10):

Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city . . .  For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

SOURCES

Teenagers recruited, trained as suicide bombers (2011)

Afghanistan: Taliban Should Stop Using Children as Suicide Bombers (2011)

Afghan boy suicide bombers tell how they are brainwashed into believing they will survive (2012)

The Surprise Lesson on Palestinians, Jews and Suicide Bombings Found in a Tennessee High School Textbook (2013)

Violence and Context in Islamic Texts (2013)

A Short History of Suicide Bombing (2013)

Taliban denies ordering 10-year-old girl to carry out suicide bombing on Helmand checkpoint (2014)

Afghanistan: Ten-year-old girl ‘forced to wear suicide vest’ (2014)

Pakistani boy who stopped suicide bomber: another Malala Yousafzai? (2014)

Boko Haram Strapped Explosives to 10-year-old girl, Killed 16 (2015)

Taliban and Government Imperil Gains for Afghan Women, Advocates Say (2014; this article is more serious and disgusting than it sounds from the title)

Israel and Palestine: A Brief History – Part I (ongoing, with various links for all of history, biographies, etc.)

World Jews outraged by Christian murders, our own government isn’t

This is the crime against humanity of our time. It is the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing. It is deliberate, it is brutal, and it is systematic. And I, as a Jew, want to say that I stand solidly with Christians throughout the world in protest against this crime. And I am appalled that the world is silent.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (2013 Erasmus Lecture)

. . . the Jews seem to be the ones most outraged by it. . . . It’s shades of the past that a world that is indifferent to such brutal actions becomes indifferent to anybody’s suffering.

The White House—the whole Western community—ought to be taking action, as we would against any country that engages in this kind of action. Look, overall the West is muted in their response to the killings of Christians by the thousands, from Indonesia to Nigeria to Tehran to Damascus. Where is the outcry? Christians and Copts [are being killed] in Egypt, other countries—and hardly any response to it. . . .  Where are the [United Nations] Security Council resolutions? Why aren’t the condemnations coming from them?

Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

The above quotes are from the First Things article, “Jews and the Persecution of Christians” by Tom Wilson; the Hoenlein quotes were taken by Wilson from an interview of Hoenlein in The Time of Israel.

. . . the Middle East [was] once home to countless thriving Jewish communities, only for them to have been decimated in the mid-twentieth century. With the rise of hardline Islam and growing turmoil in many of these countries, Christians risk sharing a similar fate. . . .  A century ago, Christians constituted 20 percent of the population of the Middle East; today, that number stands at just 4 percent.

Jews care.  A lot of Jews get it.  What is with us?  Why does our own country, and the West, not care?  The western media is biased in its reporting when Christians are killed in countries like Sudan.  They seem to be ashamed that Christians even exist and that violent-minded Muslims are justified in doing evil.  But where is the Christian response, the Christian outrage?  If it doesn’t exist, then it can be surmised that Christians don’t really exist.  At least, our own government’s weak response against the atrocities can certainly be viewed as nothing but hot air.  But why should our government do anything about it or care, when we people of faith don’t even seem to??

Churches are our gathering places.  Why aren’t churches organizing anything to raise awareness about what is going on in the world?  If they don’t know . . . what excuse can be given?  Maybe some pastors are writing newspaper editorials and encouraging action by their flock–I don’t know.  Feel free to let me know of examples of such action in the comments below, or provide links there to Christians groups and organizations that are trying to do something about this (I don’t mean groups that report on it only).  Thanks.

Brutality and Cruelty by Iranian Government, an Example

Iran sentences American pastor Saeed Abedini t...

The headline below doesn’t do justice to what its article conveys.  Abedini and his wife are from Iran, but are now American citizens.  Below the link are excerpts from the article – click the link to read the entire article.

Link:  Iran moves American Christian into solitary confinement over prayer protest

Saeed Abedini, the 32-year-old Christian and American citizen who is serving an eight-year prison term in Iran, was put in solitary confinement following a “peaceful, silent protest” in an outside courtyard at Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin prison, according to family members. Conditions at the prison prompted Abedini and other prisoners to sign a petition decrying the lack of medical care and the threats and harsh treatment facing family members who come to visit.

[Abedini] was arrested in 2005, but released after pledging never to evangelize in Iran again.  When he left his wife and two kids in Idaho last summer to return to Iran to help build a state-run, secular orphanage, Iranian police pulled him off a bus and imprisoned him.

The latest developments underscore the brutality of Iran’s continued violation of human rights – imprisoning, torturing and refusing medical care for Pastor Saeed merely because of his faith. This treatment not only violates international law, but is abhorrent . . .

See also Iranian American Pastor Unlawfully Imprisoned in Iran

 To learn more about Iran and to advocate for Abedini, see US State Department, Iran page (includes contact information).

The Anti-Semitic, Anti-Israel Nation of Sweden

I didn’t know Sweden had gotten so anti-Semitic.  Did you?  Isn’t this an example of hypocrisy to support violence against people, against a minority in your country, even?  I don’t keep up with European affairs too much, so I was very shocked and very sickened after reading the article linked below.  It’s so astonishingly tiring, too, to think violence perpetrated against Israel is Israel’s fault.

There is a lot of false “history” out there regarding the formation of Israel and the tensions and wars that followed (I guess even the educated in Sweden don’t want to know, but would rather spread hate).  Israel was not perfect – nobody is or was – but the Palestinians (and the Arab immigrant fighters brought in at that time) are not at all innocent.  Why do you think Israel received the land for their state after WWII, but then the Palestinians did not (nor have they ever since)?  Please read some real history if you don’t know and you think it’s all Israel’s fault (see the second link)!

LINK:  “Sweden. Violence dominates and a Jew today feels like a Jew in Berlin in the ’20s”

For a detailed history of Israel and Palestine, and all that has transpired in that region until the present day, go to this page to start, and then read on (links continue the narrative and provide other side links for more specifics):

LINK:  “Israel and Palestine: A Brief History – Part I” [it is not brief, it’s just not in book form . . .]

You will read that Israel had accepted the UN lines of partitions for their respective countries, even though it wasn’t great for Israel.  And then the Arab League declared war on Israel.  And, the Arabs were stabbing each other in the back over these lands (read the bottom of the “Partition” section).  Regarding the 1948 war:

The conflict created about as many Jewish refugees from Arab countries [as there were Arabs from Israel], many of whom were stripped of their property, rights and nationality, but Israel has not pursued claims on behalf of these refugees . . .

So who has moved on, left the past and revenge behind, and simply tried to make a good living?  Israel.  Israel defends itself, as anyone one would; it doesn’t terrorize and go out and kill innocents in buses, at restaurants, etc.  The hate toward them is mind-bogglingly unfounded.

Youcef Nadarkhani Re-Arrested on Christmas Day

Youcef Nadarkhani Re-Arrested by Iranian Authorities on Christmas Day.

This is just flat-out persecution, Iran thumbing their nose at Christians and any country that is associated with Christianity.  Iran also went against it’s own agreement and arrested Saeed Abedini, an American Iranian, earlier this year (https://withchristianeyes.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/dragonborn-dlc-playability-and-the-skaal-religion/).  Come on, everyone, write to your representatives and ask them to do something about iran.

Iranian American Pastor Unlawfully Imprisoned in Iran

Saeed Abedini and his family.  From Fox News online.
Saeed Abedini and his family. From Fox News online.

The situation for American reverend, Saeed Abedini, is getting desperate as no progress has been made in having him released from Iran’s worst prison.  He was arrested in Iran on September 26, 2012, while visiting his parents and relatives.  His immediate relatives were placed under house arrest as well.  32 year old Abedini has a wife and two children.

The court in Iran implemented a bail for Abedini, which is large but which his family had acquired,  but no one has actually accepted the bail after several attempts at officially paying it.  Officials reject their paper work and funds and tell them to get lost.  Making the situation grave is the lack of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran.

When Abedini still lived in Iran he had converted to Christianity and helped found underground churches.  Having had many run-ins with the government, he moved to the US and signed an agreement with the them.  If he did not do any more Christian evangelical work, the Iranian government would leave him alone when he visited the country.  The government has failed to keep their side of the bargain, however.  Abedini has helped, and continues to help, in setting up an orphanage in Iran.  He has visited his family and helped with the orphanage during a number of visits to Iran in recent years, but during this year’s trip he was imprisoned without charges.

Please pray for Abidini and his family.  To find out more, visit this article:  American Pastor Imprisoned without Notice of Charges While Visiting Family in Iran.  See BosNewsLife and Persecution.Org for news of other Iranian detentions.

Just prior to Abedini’s arrest, there was great news that Iranian Pastor Yousef Nardakhani was released from prison there.  He had been imprisoned for almost three years and had faced execution.  Compass Direct on Yousef Nardakhani’s Release.

Couldn’t have said it Better: Christians persecuted throughout the world

Western media generally ignores Christian persecution (photo by baikahl, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/250630).

There is now a high risk that the Churches will all but vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East.

Wow.  I just wanted to share this article (below, in part) because I certainly couldn’t have said all that better myself.  I’ve been bad about not posting persecution updates, and it is partly due to the fact that the persecution is just so persistent and depressing.  The killing, maiming, threatening, imprisoning, etc., of Christians goes on everyday in just so many places, that I pray generally for my persecuted brothers and sisters.  It’s a tough one.  Jesus told us we’d be persecuted, so it’s natural to the faith; we are told to take joy in it, since the persecutors are really persecuting Jesus – it’s an acknowledgment of the truth of our faith and of the truth about God.  Still, it’s sad and horrible on an emotional level, and we are to pray without ceasing . . .

Here is the first part of the article by Rupert Shortt, as published in The Telegraph yesterday.  Please click on the link that follows it to read the rest of the article.

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.

Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged. Take the fallout of last month’s protests around the world against the American film about the Prophet Mohammed. While most of the debate centred on the rule of law and the limits of free speech, almost nothing was said about how much more routinely Islamists insult Christians, almost always getting away with their provocations scot-free.