Monday, November 15, 2010

For our Eastern Christian Brothers

From the opinion page of Le Monde on November 9, 2010. French original here.

Would that editorials like this were printed in American newspapers! As the essay by Jacques Jouillard that I recently translated also indicates, the gravity of the situation of Middle Eastern Christians is coming to be realized by in France.

For Our Eastern Christian Brothers

There is no longer any day that passes without the Christians of the East, in permanent survival mode, do not pay the price of intolerance and fanaticism with their flesh. There is no longer any passing day that does not dig the grave a little more for a long-anticipated death.
An extinction to which we remain dramatically deaf and blind. This annihilation that is taking place before our eyes is extremely serious, on the level of the human conscience but also for the future of the entire East. Today,who bothers with this Arab minority? The ancestral land upon which the Christians of the East are disappearing, is it too far-off or "too complicated"? These non-Muslim Arabs, are they too eastern to be understood by westerners? Too Christian for Muslims and progressive secularists?

After women, whom fanatics try to marginalize and to exclude from society and the world, the Christians of the East, who, somewhat ironically,were the first to discuss the issue of women, have become the new scapegoat, the new symbol of a modernity that they cannot bear. These Arab Christians who are murdered and cast off onto the road of exile have their home in the East, where their two-millennium long presence precedes Islam. Their role and their influence has been determinative in the history of the Arab world. This is why, with the disappearance of the Christians of the East, a dynamic element of Arab society disappears. Without even going back to the essential place of Christian intellectuals in the Arab cultural and political renaissance of the 19th century, the Nahda, the Christian communities played a decisive role in the great national movement that has marked the region.

With regard to secularization, they were the first to think of the political integration of all religious minorities in the same movement of national revendication, anticolonialist struggle, and emancipation. They were the first to elaborate a constitution where the essential reference would no longer be to religion, but to Arab nationalism, stripped of all religious inequalities. Today, this movement towards modernity is stopped in its tracks by an often murderous identitarian and religious reaction. These reactions from another age have relegated the Christians, who share with other inhabitants of the region the same language, the same culture, and often live through the same difficulties, to second-class citizenship. The ability of the Christians of the East to overcome their challenges, their fear and their isolation, will not only determine their chance of survival, but will also determine the question of peace in this region where the world's destiny is in play, and also our ability to live together in the West.
Like in a mirror, the Christians of the East return us to our own alterity and to the place of Muslims in our western societies. The Christians of the East and the Muslims of France and of the West represent in their respective societies the image of the other. They owe to the society which is theirs to be ramparts against all forms of regression and fanaticism, to be instruments of dialogue and convivencia. Both of these are the safeguards against intolerance and obscurantism. In this way, the future of the Christian communities is inseparable from our own future. Their disappearance risks proving right those who believe in the "clash of civilizations" that crystallizes that pseudo-fracture between East and West. A disastrous thesis, but one that unfortunately is establishing itself more and more in the imagination of certain people in the West.

Our silence, our ignorance, and what is left unsaid are just as much deadly threats, no less than the "crusade" and "jihad" that some people want to wage. That is why here, in France, we citizens of France, militant secularists and of the Muslim faith, cry out our pain and anger against what is unjustifiable. Arab Christians or Christian Arabs, we do not dissociate one from the other, we denounce this barbarism and call upon all citizens who love justice and liberty. If we do not react, there will soon be no Christians in the East. It is thus extremely urgent that we put ourselves to work to help the Christians of Iraq and of Egypt to remain in their home, on their land. It is not through organizing their escape from the East that we will end the source of the murders and the exodus. To crush the infamous, as Voltaire would say, all enlightened spirits must mobilize so that barbarism does not dictate its own law. The Christians of the East are in the process of dying. This concerns all of us.

Nadia Hammour and Muhammad Abdi, advisers to Fadela Amara

Also look at this from The Independent and this from the Christian Science Monitor.

1 comment:

Ingemar said...

All well and good, but French people tend not to care about the deaths of Christians since they worked all too hard to erase Christianity from their own country.