Archive for Christians

Bob Simon Lays the Smack Down on Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by loonwatch

A follow up to our story on the Christians of Palestine. We mentioned that Bob Simon of 60 Minutes was going to do a report on Christians in the Holy Land and I have to say he did a pretty good job.

He covered the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and how there has been a slow exodus over the past few decades due to Israeli occupation policies. He also covered the Kairos initiative and how that is making inroads within Palestinian society.

Most intriguingly, Bob Simon lays the smack down on Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren at the 11 minute mark. Oren also does some blame shifting, saying that it is Muslims who are persecuting Christians not Israelis:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7406228n
Veteran CBS News correspondent Bob Simon experienced something while reporting a “60 Minutes” piece last night, that he’d never before. His story was on Christian residents leaving the Holy Land and the causes behind it: Islamic extremism? Israeli occupation? or something more? Simon interviewed clerics from the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran faiths, also Palestinian residents of the West Bank, and Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Dr.Michael Oren. But Oren didn’t like the premise of the story and called Simon’s boss, CBS News chairman and “60 Minutes” EP Jeff Fager long before it story aired.

“Mr. Ambassador, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve received lots of reactions from just about everyone I’ve done stories about. But I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet,” said Simon. “Well, there’s a first time for everything, Bob,” said the ambassador.

Israel Really Isn’t All That Friendly to Its Christians

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2012 by loonwatch

The shameless Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, attempted to manipulate Christian reality to score points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some well informed commenters responded to Oren with facts:

Israel Really Isn’t All That Friendly to Its Christians

(Wall Street Journal)

Regarding Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s “Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians” (op-ed, March 9): No doubt, his piece will be compelling for many readers. Christians in North America are generally sympathetic to Christians who suffer elsewhere. More negatively, many respond well when blame for that suffering is placed on Muslims. The biggest problem with Mr. Oren’s analysis, however, is that it stands in sharp disagreement with the perspectives shared by those he presumably wants to protect. Mr. Oren seeks to speak for Palestinian Christians before he has spoken with them.

Palestinian Christians have produced major studies of Palestinian Christian demographic trends. Difficulties created by Israeli occupation policies far outweigh pressure from Muslim neighbors as reasons for Christian migration from the West Bank. According to a study by the Bethlehem-based Diyar Consortium, “most of those who choose to emigrate” are “aggravated by the lack of freedom and security.” At “the bottom of the scale,” they found, “are family reunification, fleeing religious extremism and finding a spouse.”

It is irresponsible for Amb. Oren to make political points among some segments of the U.S. population by intentionally disregarding factors contributing to Palestinian Christian migration away from their homeland. By blaming their condition on Muslims alone, while ignoring the negative effects of Israeli occupation policies, including the debilitating economic effects of the separation barrier, Mr. Oren is using anti-Muslim sentiments among some Americans to hide the effects of Israeli policy. This cynical political rhetoric fuels extremism and does not promote peace.

The Rev. Robert O. Smith

Chicago

 

I am a Palestinian Christian, and the numbers and facts given by Mr. Oren are erroneous and misleading. With the creation of the state of Israel, 80% of Palestinian Christians were forced into exile. The number of Christians in Jerusalem dropped dramatically since the occupation of the city in 1967, and Palestinian Christians are denied access to Jerusalem. To pretend that their numbers greatly increased contradicts all statistics, including Israeli statistics. Allowing “holiday access to Jerusalem’s churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza” is denying free access, and those permits are given selectively, in small numbers and revoked often with the “closure” of the occupied territories. Pretending to defend the interests of the Christians contradicts facts on the ground, where Christians suffer the same consequences of military occupation as all Palestinians. Most of the land belonging to Christians in Bethlehem is being confiscated with the building of the separation wall. Is that the “respect and appreciation” the Christian community receives from the Jewish state?

Fr. Jamal Khader, D.D.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem

 

I am one of those Palestinian Christians that Mr. Oren refers to, who live inside Israel. At no time in my life have I ever felt the “respect and appreciation” by the Jewish state which Mr. Oren so glowingly refers to in his last paragraph. Israel’s Christian minority is marginalized in much the same manner as its Muslim one, or at best, quietly tolerated. We suffer the same discrimination when we try to find a job, when we go to hospitals, when we apply for bank loans and when we get on the bus. In my daily dealings with the state, all I have felt is rudeness and overt contempt.

Fida Jiryis

Fassuta, Israel

 

Amb. Michael Oren presents a distorted and inaccurate account of Christians in Palestine. He conveniently omits gross Israeli violations against the Palestinian Christian community, such as Israel’s revocation of residency rights to many whose birthplace was Jerusalem, or the fact that it restricts their right to worship in their holy sites by imposing an onerous permit system to access the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem or the baptism site on the River Jordan. Even family visitations between Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem are heavily restricted.

It doesn’t stop at that. Recently there has been a spate of attacks by Jewish extremists vandalizing Christian properties and spray-painting slogans denouncing Jesus and Mary and attacking Christianity.

Finally, Palestinian Christians are a vibrant component of Palestine’s social, cultural and religious fabric. Many of our most prominent figures in politics, academia and the arts are Christian. This is the case precisely because of a long history and deeply rooted culture of tolerance and integration in Palestine.

Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat

General Delegation
of the PLO to the U.S.

Washington

British Government Says Christians Don’t Have Right To Wear Cross Or Crucifix At Work

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by loonwatch

After facing consequences for refusing to cover or remove their crosses at work, two Christian women are taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. A group of ministers is set to back employer regulations banning religious regalia in the workplace, arguing that wearing crosses aren't a "requirement" of the Christian faith.

After facing consequences for refusing to cover or remove their crosses at work, two Christian women are taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. A group of ministers is set to back employer regulations banning religious regalia in the workplace, arguing that wearing crosses aren’t a “requirement” of the Christian faith.

So let me get this straight, the state religion of England is the Church of England yet wearing a Cross or Crucifix to work is not allowed? While it may not be a “requirement” as hijab is seen to be by many Muslim women, how can this not be a needless infringement and violation of one’s freedom of religion?

British Government Says Christians Don’t Have Right To Wear Cross Or Crucifix At Work

(HuffingtonPost)

Two British women are headed to court to argue for the right to wear Christian crosses at their workplaces, but a group of Christian ministers is reportedly set to back employers’ rights to ban the regalia.

At the heart of the issue is whether or not the crosses are a “requirement” of the Christian faith.

According to a document leaked to the Telegraph that allegedly contains their arguments, the ministers are set to tell the court that crosses are not required by religious doctrine, thus supporting the government’s case that employers cannot be forced to allow such symbols.

Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin were both told by their employers to cover or remove the Christian symbol hanging around their necks. When they refused, they each faced consequences.

Eweida, a British Airways employee, was placed on unpaid leave in 2006 when she refused to remove the symbol, according to CNS News. She argued that coworkers of other affiliations were allowed to showcase symbols of their faiths. Eweida took the airline before a British employment tribunal alleging religious discrimination but lost the case.

The company eventually changed its uniform policy and rehired Eweida, but did not compensate her for the suspension period.

In Chaplin’s case, the longtime nurse was reprimanded for refusing to cover up a cross around her neck, RT reports. She was subsequently assigned to desk work instead of her usual rounds.

Now, it will be up to the European Court of Human Rights to decide if wearing a cross or crucifix is a right under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Article 9, “Freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” states the following:

1. 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 worship, teaching, practice and observance. 2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Lawyers for the women allegedly plan to argue that right to wear a cross is covered under Article 9 as a “manifestation” of religious expression, CNS News reports.

But the British Foreign Office has already prepared the following statement, which was published in the Telegraph:

In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally [recognized] form of [practicing] the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith.

The case has been criticized by Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who was unhappy officials were “meddling” in the matter.

Sentamu expressed his feelings on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, the Telegraphreports.

“My view is that this is not the business of government, actually,” he said. “I think that is a matter really for people and that we should allow it.The government should not raise the bar so high that in the end they are now being unjust.”

Andrew Brown, a blogger for the Guardian, questions what exactly qualifies as a “requirement” of the faith:

Does Christianity demand that its adherents wear a cross? The courts here have decided that it doesn’t, but I’m not sure the question is well framed. You might as well ask “does Christianity demand that you go to church on Sundays?” or “does it demand pacifism?” There are just too many Christianities for such a question to make sense.

US Atheist Group Targets Muslims and Jews

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Atheist  Billboard

American Atheists has taken aim at Muslims and Jews with new billboards in Arabic and Hebrew. While atheists should be absolutely free to compete in the marketplace of ideas just like everyone else, this group isn’t merely offering an alternative to religion.

Despite their presumed appreciation for rational skepticism, the group appears to have been taken in by so-called “ex-Muslim” and confirmed loon, Ibn Warraq, and their negative portrayal of Islam sounds like it was cut-and-paste from a far right anti-Muslim hate site.

US atheist group targets Muslims and Jews

by Bob Pitt, Islamophobia Watch

CNN reports that the American Atheists organisation are targeting Muslim and Jewish communities with billboards in Arabic and Hebrew describing God as a “myth”.

Warraq and GellerPamela Geller and Ibn Warraq

“We are not trying to inflame anything,” American Atheists president Dave Silverman is quoted as saying. “We are trying to advertise our existence to atheists in those communities. The objective is not to inflame but rather to advertise the atheist movement in the Muslim and Jewish community.”

Yeah, right.

American Atheists, you may recall, is the organisation involved in the “Zombie Muhammad” case, in which one of their members claimed that he was assaulted by a Muslim during a Halloween parade. After the case was dimissed because of lack of supporting evidence, American Atheists expressed outrage that the judge had refused to take the word of a white American over that of a “Muslim immigrant”.

The American Atheists website features a long essay attacking Islam and Muslims which the authors state is “greatly dependent upon the excellent books written or compiled by Ibn Warraq”. It contains passages like these:

Mohammedans prefer to be called Muslims – a term derived from the Arabic ’aslama, meaning ‘to resign oneself [to Allah]‘. They prefer their religion to be called Islam (from Arabic ’islam, meaning ‘submission’) rather than Mohammedanism. Most western scholars have gone along with this, rather than risk the wrath of purportedly peaceful members of ‘the third great Abrahamic faith’. Nevertheless, Mohammedanism seems to be a perfectly appropriate name for a religion which currently poses so great a threat to secular civilizations throughout the world….

Despite the occasionally tolerant references in the Qur’an to “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians in addition to Muslims), the non-Muslims need to be eliminated. Convert them or kill them, or make them pay a religious ransom to continue the private practice of their religion. (Of necessity, Muslims must reject the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) Atheists and Agnostics, who deny the reality of Allah, are also wicked blasphemers. They need to be eliminated also. It is preferable to kill them.

True, the authors go on to state that intolerance is “a natural attribute of all monotheistic religions”. However, no extended essay can be found on the American Atheists site attacking Christianity and Christians in equally vitriolic terms.

But this has become a distinguishing feature of the so-called “new atheism”. The legitimate secular objective of separating church and state has been sidelined in favour of attacking minority ethno-religious communities, and Muslims in particular, often employing language which is indistinguishable from that of the racist right.

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by loonwatch
Newsweek
February 12 Cover

Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue of Newsweek is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims. Despite her agenda-driven fear mongering, Hirsi has sparked an important debate about the plight of religious minorities caught in the crossfire as the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” continues to escalate.

We previously cross-posted an article from Jadaliyya refuting Hirsi’s account, and now offer another perspective from John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University.

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

by John L. Esposito, Huffington Post

Religious minorities in the Muslim world today, constitutionally entitled in many countries to equality of citizenship and religious freedom, increasingly fear the erosion of those rights — and with good reason. Inter-religious and inter-communal tensions and conflicts from Nigeria and Egypt and Sudan, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia have raised major concerns about deteriorating rights and security for religious minorities in Muslim countries. Conflicts have varied, from acts of discrimination, to forms of violence escalating to murder, and the destruction of villages, churches and mosques.

In the 21st century, Muslims are strongly challenged to move beyond older notions of “tolerance” or “co-existence” to a higher level of religious pluralism based on mutual understanding and respect. Regrettably, a significant number of Muslims, like many ultra conservative and fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Hindus are not pluralistic but rather strongly exclusivist in their attitudes toward other faiths and even co-believers with whom they disagree.

Reform will not, however, result from exaggerated claims and alarmist and incendiary language such as that of Ayan Hirsi Ali in in a recent a Newsweek cover story, reprinted in The Daily Beast.

Hirsi Ali warns of a “global war” and “rising genocide,” “a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” and thus “the fate of Christianity — and ultimately of all religious minorities — in the Islamic world is at stake.”

Hirsi Ali’s account, for surely it is not an analysis, mixes facts with fiction, distorting the nature and magnitude of the problem. It fails to distinguish between the acts of a dangerous and deadly minority of religious extremists or fanatics and mainstream society. The relevant data is readily available. Nigeria is not a “majority-Muslim” country of 160 million people with a 40 percent Christian minority” as she claims (and as do militant Islamists). Experts have long described the population as roughly equal and a recent Pew Forum study reports that Christians hold a slight majority with 50.8 percent of the population.

Boko Haram, is indeed a group of religious fanatics who have terrorized and slaughtered Christians and burned down their churches, but they remain an extremist minority and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who reject their actions and anti-Western rhetoric. Gallup data finds that a majority of Nigerians (60 percent) “reject the anti-Western rhetoric” of Boko Haram.

Curiously, Hirsi Ali chooses not to mention that in the Jos Central plateau area both Christian and Muslim militias have attacked each other and destroyed mosques and churches.

Another example of failing to provide the full facts and context is the Maspero massacre. Coptic Christians have a real set of grievances that have to be addressed: attacks on churches, resulting in church destruction and death and injuries, the failure of police to respond to attacks, and a history of discrimination when it comes to building new churches and in employment.

Hirsi Ali rightly attributes the genesis for the assault against Christians to the Egyptian security forces. Although some militant Egyptian Muslims did in fact join the violence against Christians, she overlooks the fact that increasingly Christians have been joined by many Muslim Egyptians in calling for this discrimination and backlash to be addressed. Thus, she fails to mention the many Muslims marched in solidarity with the Christians against the security forces and were also injured as a Reuters article dated Oct. 14, 2011 reported: “At least 2,000 people rallied in Cairo on Friday in a show of unity between Muslims and Christians and to express anger at the ruling military council after 25 people died when a protest by Coptic Christians led to clashes with the army.”

She also fails to recognize the continuing state violence in Egypt against activists and protestors regardless of their faith.

Thousands of Muslims turned up in droves outside churches around the country for the Coptic Christmas Eve mass, in solidarity with a beleaguered Coptic community offering their bodies, and lives, as “human shields,” making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and build an Egypt free from sectarian strife: “Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields.”

Ali also points to the “flight” of Christians from the Middle East as proof of widespread persecution. According to Gallup surveys in Lebanon, however, Muslims are slightly more likely than their Christian counterparts to want to flee the country permanently and for Muslim and Christian alike the reason they give is primarily economic.

More problematic and deceptive is Hirsi Ali’s charge that: “What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities. This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003.” Sudan has certainly been a battleground for decades, but to say that Darfur is an example of the Muslim-Christian genocide is flat out wrong. The black African victims in Darfur were almost exclusively Muslim. The killers were Arab Sudanese Muslims (janjaweed) who murdered black Sudanese Muslims.

Addressing the issue of religious freedom requires greater global awareness and a concerted effort by governments, religious leaders, academics and human rights organizations, as well as curricula reform in many seminary and university religion courses (particularly comparative religion courses), to counter religious exclusivism by instilling more pluralistic and tolerant visions and values in the next generation of imams, priests, scholars and the general public. However, when lives are at stake and the safety and security of all citizens threatened, accurate and data driven analysis is crucial. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated generalizations exacerbate the problem, risk more strife or even violence and do little to contribute to finding a solution.

Haaretz: Jerusalem Christians are Latest Targets in Recent Spate of ‘Price Tag’ Attacks

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Some more analysis of the ongoing “price tag” attacks against Muslims and Christians in Israel:

Jerusalem Christians are latest targets in recent spate of ‘price tag’ attacks

“Price tag” graffiti was spray-painted in Jerusalem again Sunday night, with vandals this time targeting a downtown church.

The attack on the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation marks the latest in a series of price tag attacks that have targeted Muslim, Christian and leftist institutions in the capital over the last two months. But police believe most of the vandalism is not the work of an organized group; rather, they say, the spray-painted slogans are largely copycat actions carried out by lone individuals.

The original price tag attacks, in contrast, were thought to be the work of a group of settlers seeking to set a “price tag” on house demolitions in the settlements via retaliatory attacks on Palestinians and/or Israeli soldiers.

The attacks during the past two months have included the torching of cars belonging to Arab residents of Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood; spray-painting slogans on a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion; spray-painting slogans on Peace Now’s office in the capital, as well as the house of Peace Now activist Hagit Ofran; threats against Peace Now secretary general Yariv Oppenheimer; and an arson attack on an ancient mosque in the city’s Geula neighborhood. Over the last week alone, a bilingual school and two churches have been vandalized, including the Baptist church vandalized Sunday.

In both church attacks, the vandals spray-painted slogans denouncing Christianity, Jesus and Mary, such as “Jesus is dead,” “Death to Christianity” and “Mary was a prostitute.” They also included the by-now customary “price tag” slogan.

The Jerusalem police said they have arrested several suspects in this spate of attacks, including one for the attacks on Peace Now and one for the vandalism of the bilingual school. The latter suspect, arrested last week, said he vandalized the school to avenge the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team’s loss to two Arab teams two weeks ago, according to police. Police believe that many of the other attacks are similarly motivated by ordinary hooliganism, rather than ideology.

“It’s intolerably easy,” one senior Jerusalem police officer said. “Any child can take a spray can and spray it, and people know it will be broadcast. Not every case is really nationalistic.”

But to victims, the motive is irrelevant. Jerusalem’s Christian community increasingly feels under assault, and that is especially true for Christians living in Jewish neighborhoods. Priests in the Old City, especially Armenian priests who must often transit the Jewish Quarter, say they are spat on almost daily.

“It’s almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening,” said a senior priest at one Jerusalem church.

The spitting has become so prevalent that some priests have simply stopped going to certain parts of the Old City.

The Baptist church has been attacked twice before: It was torched in 1982 and again in 2007. “We mainly feel sad” about the attacks, said the church’s pastor, Charles Kopp. “It hurts us that anyone could even think we deserve such treatment. They don’t know us, but they apparently oppose anyone who doesn’t identity with them. I wish them well; I have no desire for revenge.”

Baptist priests don’t normally walk around in priestly garb, but Kopp said he would be afraid to walk through the Old City if he did.

Jacob Avrahami, the mayor’s advisor on the Christian community, visited the Baptist church on Monday to condemn the attacks. “They feel besieged; you can see it on them,” he said.

Dr. Gadi Gevaryahu, whose Banish the Darkness organization works to combat racism, said his big fear is that “one day, they’ll attack a mosque or a church with people inside and there will be a terrible conflagration here.”

“Over the last two years, 10 mosques have been torched here, and today it’s clear that it’s not just aimed at Palestinians or Muslims, but at foreigners in general,” he said.

Gevaryahu also offered a practical suggestion: Security cameras, he said, should be installed on every sensitive building in the city.

Newsweek Trumpets Hirsi’s War Against Muslims

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by loonwatch
War on Christians
February 12 Cover

Newsweek has apparently abandoned any pretense of actual reporting in favor of tabloid-style sensationalism. Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims, at the expense of Christian minorities she pretends to defend.

Hirsi ignores US-led invasions–actual wars–against one Islamic country after another, and the impact on Christians, especially in Iraq. In fact, according to her apocalyptic vision, the West must destroy Islam, by any means necessary–in the name of peace and civilization, of course.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s War

by Anthony Alessandrini, Jadaliyya

For a couple of centuries now, we have had to make due with Samuel Johnson’s famous phrase: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Thanks to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we can now revise this phrase for the twenty-first century. Tthe last last refuge of a scoundrel, it appears, lies in taking up the battle against something called “Christophobia.”

Hirsi Ali coins this term as part of her alarmist and deeply hateful cover story for Newsweek. “The War on Christians” is splashed across the cover, but the actual target of Hirsi Ali’s piece becomes more clear in the title provided for the online version of the piece: “The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World.”

The terms of Hirsi Ali’s argument, such as it is, are all set out in her opening paragraph:

We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The criminally careless tossing out of the term “genocide” gives us a clue about what is to come. So too does the style, which is a classic version of her usual mode, that of the lone brave voice crying out about injustice in the wilderness, surrounded by dupes who are too busy portraying Muslims as “victims or heroes.” Fortunately, Hirsi Ali is prepared to offer us “a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends,” leading to what she sees as her inevitable conclusion and allowing her to coin her useful new term: “the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.”

Having already reached her inevitable conclusion in her opening, Hirsi Ali appears to feel little need to support it with anything so mundane as actual facts. Instead he offers a loosely-connected cherry picking tour that ties together incidents of violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and Indonesia. All the instances she references are real and terrible acts of violence. And all of them are symptoms of complex political and social situations that need to be analyzed and addressed. This makes it all the more horrible that Hirsi Ali treats them as mere data to be added to her deeply simplistic argument. Indeed, she raises the same two points in each case: first, that Muslims are killing Christians; second, that the world (by which she means “the West”)—apparently distracted by its uncritical admiration for the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring and its obsession with stamping out Islamophobia—stands idly by and watches. So Hirsi Ali is forced to beg her readers to help break what she refers to as a “conspiracy of silence.”

Were the consequences of such an argument not so grave—and I will come to those consequences shortly—it would be possible to simply dismiss this article as the nonsense that it is. To reduce the complexity of the political violence in Nigeria and Sudan to instances of “Christophobia,” for example, is simply ludicrous, as is the suggestion that somehow Western political and media figures have been “reticent” or “silent” when it comes to Darfur. This is in no way to downplay the full horror of these situations; indeed, what is most disturbing here is Hirsi Ali’s cursory citing of them—Nigeria merits just two paragraphs of her article, Sudan just one—in the service of her hateful argument.

In other cases, what is striking is the utter thinness of the arguments she tries to marshal. When, for example, she tries to make the case that “not even Indonesia…has been immune to the fevers of Christophobia,” she cites data complied by the Christian Post suggesting an increase in violent incidents against religious minorities of nearly forty percent between 2010 and 2011. Again, this is certainly a cause for concern, but it would be interesting to ask Hirsi Ali how she would compare this increase to the more than fifty percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States between 2009 and 2010, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She might also have turned to data on Indonesia produced by Human Rights Watch rather than that of an obscure Christian website, which would have confirmed her point about an increase in attacks on religious minorities (including Ahmadis) in Indonesia—except that rather than attributing this increase to the rise of “Christophobia,” HRW’s conclusion about this key US ally is quite different: “The common thread is the failure of the Indonesian government to protect the rights of all its citizens.”

Of course, these sorts of fact-free claims about the “Muslim world” by conservative commentators are nothing new. What is more worthy of note, however, are those claims by Hirsi Ali that suggest a number of moves taken out of the contemporary neo-conservative playbook. Hirsi Ali’s connections to the neo-con movement—she is, among other things, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—have been widely noted. For example, Hamid Dabashi lists her prominently among the “comprador intellectuals” who have helped sell the neo-con agenda in the United States and Europe. (Indeed, it is clear that the title of her article is meant to resonate in this election season with the claims being made by conservatives about an alleged “war on Christians” here in the United States.)

One strand of this neo-conservative reasoning as it can be read out of Hirsi Ali’s article has to do with her references to Egypt. She only devotes one paragraph to Egypt, but the print version of the article includes four images (including the cover image), some quite graphic, of violence against Copts in Egypt. Hirsi Ali preludes her point by noting that the alleged rise of Christophobia in Egypt comes “in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.” Her key example is the attack by security forces on pro-Coptic protesters outside Maspero on 9 October 2011, which killed at least twenty-four people and wounded more than three hundred. From this example, Hirsi Ali moves forward with her relentlessly superficial line of argument: “By the end of the year more than two-hundred thousand Copts had fled their homes in anticipation of more attacks. With Islamists poised to gain much greater power in the wake of recent elections, their fears appear to be justified.”

The first and most obvious problem here, of course, is Hirsi Ali’s attempt to transform an attack by security forces against protesters—the sort of attack that has marked the bloody fule of the Supreme Council of Armed Force (SCAF)—into yet another example of “Muslims attacking Christians,” driven solely by the relentless power of Christophobia. The deeper problem, and the one that betrays the mark of neo-con logic, is her implication that the source of this violence springs from, not the US-supported and armed military junta currently ruling Egypt, but the forces supposedly unleashed by the Arab Spring. This becomes clear in the final sentence, which resonates with the neo-con mantra that has been constant since the beginnings of the popular uprisings: if they get their democracy, we’ll wind up with the Islamists.

This disdain for the forces of democracy in Egypt (as contrasted to the neo-cons’ own preferred model of “democracy promotion” through military intervention) becomes even clearer in the admiring take on Hirsi Ali’s article posted on the blog of the National Review by Nina Shea. Concurring with Hirsi Ali’s thesis regarding the rise of Christophobia in the region, Shea adds, “Unfortunately, Arab democracy in Iraq and Egypt, the ancient homelands of two of the three largest Middle Eastern Christian communities, seems to be exacerbating the religious persecution.” (“Arab democracy,” we are thus invited to conclude, must be quite different from, say, “Western-style democracy.”)

As Shea notes, Hirsi Ali also uses the example of violence against Christians in Iraq, which is again awarded a full paragraph of attention. “Egypt is not the only Arab country that seems bent on wiping out its Christian minority,” she writes, continuing her “fair-minded assessment.” She goes on to note the rise in violence against Iraqi Christians since 2003, and the fact that thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country—“as the result of violence directed specifically against them”—leading to what she calls “an incipient genocide or ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq.”

And then, she moves on. The fact that 2003 is hardly an arbitrary date is not so much as acknowledged. Here we find yet another example of the almost unbelievable gall exhibited by neo-cons, as part of the larger forgetting of the war on Iraq in the United States. That Hirsi Ali—who was, like her neo-con colleagues, a vocal supporter of the war—can avoid not only accepting responsibility for the shattering of Iraqi society, but can actually use this shattering to advance her own hideous Islamophobic arguments, is simply obscene. Just as she fails to acknowledge that the attacks on pro-Coptic protesters in Egypt need to be understood within the larger framework of SCAF’s systematic attacks on all protesters, so she refuses to acknowledge that the thousands of Christians who have fled from Iraq are part of the one and a half million Iraqis who have been made refugees by the war she supported.

This forgetting of the carnage unleashed by the criminal war against Iraq is especially important today, as some of the same neo-con forces have not ceased to bang the drums for a new war against Iran. Hirsi Ali, not surprisingly, whole-heartedly endorses an attack on Iran. This is one of the clear dangers presented by her article in the current moment. I had decided not to mention another, more intimate connection between Hirsi Ali and neo-con ideology, represented by her marriage to the dean of neo-imperialists, Niall Ferguson. But it becomes impossible not to mention this connection when, in the very same issue of Newsweek—in fact, only four pages away from her article—we find an article by Ferguson, arguing vigorously for supporting an Israeli attack on Iran, using logic that could have been lifted straight out of the pro-war op-eds of 2002 (“Sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement.”) Hirsi Ali only manages to work Iran into her argument regarding “Christophobia” in an indirect way, but given her long-standing views—she has, for example, argued that the Bush administration should have attacked Iraq and Iran after 9/11—her larger framework is clearly intended to support this march towards a new war.

But this is still not the most insidious aspect of Hirsi Ali’s argument. This becomes apparent only as she reaches her conclusion, which begins with a reiteration of her two theses: “It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem.” Helpfully, she goes on to offer an explanation for both aspects of the problem. This “global war on Christians” is not, she suggests, the result of coordination by “some international Islamist agency.” “In that sense,” she goes on, “the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.”

In a word: Muslims are killing Christians because Muslims hate Christians. And if this global war remains “underreported,” Muslims are to blame for this as well: part of the reason for “the media’s reticence on the subject,” she suggests, “may be the fear of provoking additional violence,” but the “most likely” explanation is “the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” Such groups, she concludes, “have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called ‘Islamophobia’—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.”

We discover a few important things here. The first is that the seeming disconnectedness of Hirsi Ali’s argument is in fact intentional. There is no need to draw logical or factual connections between the various incidents she raises because the logic can be found in the very structure of her thesis: what she cites are simply examples of Muslims attacking Christians, and Muslims attack Christians because Muslims hate Christians. When Egyptian security forces attack Coptic protesters, it is not the army attacking protesters; it is Muslims attacking Christians. When Iraqi Christians flee the violence of a country destroyed by a US-led war and occupation, it is not Iraqis fleeing from carnage; it is Christians fleeing from Muslims. Hirsi Ali has developed the perfect machine for circulating and defending Islamophobia, since it directly implicates every individual Muslim in the actions of every other individual Muslim—not to mention the actions of any government of any Muslim-majority state. And, as an added bonus, it even manages to implicate the imputing of Islamophobia itself as part of the problem, since she sees this as part of the sinister “conspiracy of silence” that allows this global Christophobia to flourish.

Hirsi Ali’s “war,” in other words, guarantees the continuing stigmatization of Muslims in North America and Europe. This is what allows her to speak of a “global war on Christians in the Muslim world.” In addition to resonating with the US’s “global war on terror,” what this phrase signifies is that the Islamic “threat” is a global one. So what might appear to be a minority community under siege in the United States, Hirsi Ali suggests, is in fact part of a threatening wave of genocide; the “spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” exists, in inchoate form, everywhere. No one (Christian) is safe.

Allow me to state the obvious, which is that Hirsi Ali’s argument has an immediately recognizable pedigree. The attempt to justify the oppression of minority groups by producing them as threats to “our way of life”—including the assertion that the same groups have the mysterious power to bewitch, dupe, and silence the unwary through conspiratorial means and shadowy organizations—has been a standard practice of racism and fascism, those precursors of Islamophobia; Hirsi Ali is a connoisseur of all three. Her supposed defense of an embattled minority is a thinly disguised attempt to extend and expand the ongoing repression of Muslim minority communities. The logic of her argument is precisely the same as that which has underwritten the violent policing of Muslim communities in the name of fighting “homegrown terrorism,” which has had such horrific consequences for these communities (not to mention for civil liberties more generally).

Hirsi Ali, like Ferguson and the rest of the neo-con forces, is eager to wrap herself in the mantle of “Western” virtues such as skepticism and secularism, against the forces of sectarianism and fundamentalism that they see as constitutive of the “Muslim world.” But what could possibly be more sectarian and fundamentalist than Hirsi Ali’s vision of the world, with its terrifying simplifications and generalizations, and its reduction of genuine situations of violence and suffering to data whose only purpose is to power her relentless Islamophobia machine?