Editors' Note: In an effort to foster a more open and honest American dialog, Breitbart convened "The Uninvited" panel at CPAC 2013. This post is a part of a series continuing that dialog with the Breitbart News readers.
Nina Shea, Director of the Center for Religious Freedom and a Hudson Institute Fellow, told Breitbart's "Uninvited" panel at CPAC on Saturday that "religious persecution is the gravest human rights crisis of our day." She added that "Christians are as a group the most persecuted, out of sheer numbers, across the world. This means they are being killed, tortured, imprisoned and eradicated ...sent into exile for their beliefs."
"This is happening in three types of countries," she said. "Those with a remnant Communist country, like North Korea and China, some nationalist countries like Burma and Eritrea, and then in the Muslim world ...where Islamism is on the rise." In those Muslim countries, she said, "persecution . . . is intensifying, and it is spreading."
The crisis of global persecution of Christians has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. Ms. Shea told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that "since A.M. Rosenthal at the New York Times passed away [in 2006], this issue has not been covered at the level it deserves, so I was very happy that Breitbart gave me the opportunity on the panel to promote the issue of global persecution of Christians." Rosenthal, the former executive editor and columnist at the Times from 1977 to 1999, wrote dozens of columns on the problem of global Christian persecution in the 1990s.
Ms. Shea pointed to several recent examples of violent persecution of Christians in the Muslim world. "Last week alone," she said, "we saw in Libya a Coptic Christian from Egypt tortured to death. Fifty of his co-religionists were imprisoned and some are still there."
Ms. Shea's complete remarks to "The Uninvited" panel can be seen in this video clip:
In Tuesday's interview with Breitbart News, Ms. Shea singled out the Obama administration's failure to defend Christians in Muslim countries. American policy, she said, should be to use its moral authority, and the power of its foreign aid purse to influence Muslim countries to stop persecuting Christians.
According to Ms. Shea, the Obama administration should be "using the bully pulpit, speaking out about this." She added that "it's important that the world know about this extreme intolerance. Some lives will be saved by this." But, she noted, the Obama administration has been "silent" on the issue of global Christian persecution, and she had little hope of improvement. "I have every expectation this problem will become worse between now and the end of the Obama administration."
As an illustration of the Obama administration's indifference to the global persecution of Christians, Ms. Shea pointed to Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department, Suzanne Johnson Cook, who has statutory responsibility to speak out on religious freedom, but "never talks about this issue."
The persecution of Christians is one of the consequences of the Arab Spring. "[The] Arab Spring has resulted in Islamist governments in Egypt and North Africa and possibly Syria," she said. "I see the trend [of increased persecution of Christians] continuing to intensify and it's evident in Egypt. After the adoption of an Islamic constitution we're seeing stories of religious police imposing Islamic law."
Shea singled out the United States' relationship with Egypt, a country where Christians are being persecuted. "The United States has a lot of influence with foreign aid in Egypt. We're about to give them $10 billion in aid, in direct military aid, and in approval for IMF loans . . . and we don't draw a red line [with them] for the protection of Christians and Christian rights."
There are trials going on now in Iran of Christians. In Iraq, seventy Christian churches have been blown up, and its Christian population has been all but driven out of the country. "Syria may be next," Ms. Shea said, and "under the cover of chaos and war, Christians are being targeted."
The persecution has spread to Africa, "Churches are attacked on a regular basis in Nigera now by Boko Haram, whose name means 'Western education is a sin'. Their aim is to religiously cleanse northern Nigeria so it's entirely Muslim. Northern Sudan right now is waging a crackdown against the remaining Christians there." Muslims are destroying "Christian churches that have been established for hundreds if not thousands of years."
"The last Christian church in Afghanistan closed on our watch in 2010. They've now joined Saudi Arabia as only country with no Christian churches. That's since 2010. Our diplomats and contractors must now worship in secret behind barricades. The Obama administration knew about it, reported in their annual report, but did nothing and said nothing about it at the time."
Ms. Shea is the co-author (along with Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert) of the newly released book, Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians .