Belmont Club

As Wise as Serpents

The Times of India notes the recent attack on an Iraqi Catholic Church by supporters of al-Qaeda is part of the larger pattern of Christian expulsion from the Middle East affecting such communities as the Copts. “On Monday, Catholics in Baghdad marked All Saints Day in mourning for 46 Christians killed during an operation by Iraqi special forces to release worshippers taken hostage at a cathedral by al-Qaida gunmen.” Although some pundits have tried to make the attacks on Christians America’s fault by suggesting they in retaliation for the invasion of Iraq, the exclusionary efforts have been going on for decades in such places as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where the Muttawa, not al-Qaeda, raid underground churches.

Saudi authorities have conditionally released the Catholic Filipino migrant worker arrested on 1 October in Riyadh along with 11 other compatriots — released Oct 3 — while attending Mass along with 150 foreigners celebrated by a French priest. … According to Exxedin H. Tago, charge d’affaires of the Philippine Embassy the 12 are not yet copletely out of danger … “They were accused of proselytizing and if the authorities deem them guilty they could return to jail.”

Saudi Arabia forbids the construction of churches, and other non-Muslim temples, the wearing of religious symbols, or hanging of images in homes.”

One Coptic family facing persecution in Egypt for converting to Christianity thought that since President Obama declared that Muslims had a right to “build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances” , then he would help them emigrate from Egypt. They wrote a letter asking for support from President Obama. They’ve heard nothing at all. Maybe he’s been busy. Or maybe there’s one wastebasket labeled “from Christians” and an inbox labeled “for Muslims”.

Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, says everyone has a right to choose their religion. “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” On of the face of things the attack on the Baghdad church and the arrests of worshippers in Saudi Arabia and the continuous persecution of the should have been met by stern disapproval in the West.

But the mainstream media’s narrative doesn’t work symmetrically for Christians and Muslims in the West. In pratice it is expected that Christians accept the depiction of Jesus in the act of fellatio, to countenance a display a crucifix immersed in urine or paint Mary in dung.  If they don’t they are bigots. But should anyone dare to draw Mohammed he would immediately be accused of  hate speech. Juan Williams, for example, was recently kicked out of NPR, after many years of service  — “busted”, in the words of Andrew Sullivan — simply for saying he was wrong to be nervous around Muslims when flying. Despite that that qualification, the mere possibly slur on Islam constituted “pandering to the anti-Muslim bigot, Bill O’Reilly”.

The way Western enlightenment really works is that Time can publish a Sullivan essay called “My Problem with Christianism” and Jon Stewart can feature the musician Yussuf Islam, a person who apparently still believes that Salman Rushdie should suffer a fatwa, to Restore Sanity in America without the slightest sense of irony. As Salman Rushdie himself wrote in a letter to the Telegraph in 2007, they can believe what they want to believe about the good intentions of an avowed Islamist:

Cat Stevens wanted me dead

However much Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam may wish to rewrite his past, he was neither misunderstood nor misquoted over his views on the Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses (Seven, April 29). In an article in The New York Times on May 22, 1989, Craig R Whitney reported Stevens/Islam saying on a British television programme “that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ‘I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing’.”

He added that “if Mr Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ‘I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is’.”

In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Mr Whitney added, Stevens/Islam, who had seen a preview of the programme, said that he “stood by his comments”.

They can do that just as easily as they can read the mind of Juan Williams.  So while the Egyptian Copts might think they will get a sympathetic hearing in the West, they won’t. The way it really works is that Islamists are deemed entitled to their views and the Western elites feel it is their duty to support them.  Neither has anything much to do with Christianity, for whom they feel a common distaste. The locus of Christianity has moved been moving away from Western Europe for at least the last 50 years.  To some extent the entire world Western canon has been steadily leaving its shores.  Science,  personal freedom, Judaeo-Christianity, the promethean power of its culture has been steadily taking ship, the better to escape the fatwa. Tennyson once wrote, “better 50 years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay”. He would have been astounded to learn that at the dawn of the 21st century China would have a program to put a man on the moon while Europe planned to cover its landscape with windmills.

In its place have come the authoritarian ideologies, supplemented where necessary by obscurantism and superstition. The dominant religions of the Western elites are now diluted versions of Marxism; the Congregation of Political Correctness and the Synod of Environmentalism. Neither may be particularly spiritually satisfying.  They are certainly mind-deadening. An article in the Daily Mail asked, “Why are so many modern British career women converting to Islam?” The reasons given are simple, they find Europe a spiritual wasteland and are fleeing to the first port in a storm.

Women like Kristiane Backer, 43, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led the kind of liberal Western-style life that I yearned for as a teenager, yet who turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void. …

‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realised that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’ …

‘Some are drawn to the sense of belonging and of community — values which have eroded in the West,’ says Haifaa Jawad, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, who has studied the white conversion phenomenon.

‘Many people, from all walks of life, mourn the loss in today’s society of traditional respect for the elderly and for women, for example. These are values which are enshrined in the Koran, which Muslims have to live by,’ adds [another expert]

These women would probably be astounded to learn how many of the values they so desperately seek have been extinguished in their last 50 years by the new secular religions. The masterstroke of the Left was to hollow out Christianity in the West yet leave its externals standing like a facade in their place. By slow degrees the doctrines of paganism and Marxism were insinuated into the churches, cathedrals and universities and filling their spaces with drivel. Perhaps these “modern British career women” aren’t running from Christianity or even Western civilization at all. They are merely fleeing from its parody, the counterfeit the Left has substituted in its place.

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam last weekend. Journalist Lauren Booth embraced the faith after what she describes as a ‘holy experience’ in Iran. …

Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, says she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.

She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom, and says: ‘It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.

Such bliss and joy, though you wouldn’t think it. Here’s Lauren Booth, via Michael Totten’s website describing her feelings. “I don’t care about Israel’s security.  I don’t give a damn.  Because if you kill civilians you don’t deserve your security, Israel.  Because I’ll tell you what, the world should take action and take up arms against Israel right now!” You’d think Lauren Booth was talking about al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the attack of the Baghdad Church. But no, radical Islamism doesn’t even exist, although maybe “man-caused disasters” — the new term for terrorism — does. Maybe Christians in the Third World should stop thinking the Western elites will be sympathetic to their plight. They haven’t got the time. They’re too busy with bliss and joy.

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