The headline may give you a chuckle, but it is certainly no laughing matter. Christians in the Middle East have been devastated by violence and genocidal tendencies at the hands of Islamic extremists. The only place in the Middle East Christians are truly safe is the Jewish State.
The birthplace of Christianity is under siege – pogroms – spearheaded by the likes of ISIS and Boko Haram.
According to Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians persecuted for their faith, in 2013 alone, more Christians were murdered in Syria than in the whole world in 2012. During the same time frame, twice as many Christians perished at the hands of hate than in the previous year.
But we aren’t just talking about extermination of people who are different. Middle East Christians are experiencing inhumanity not seen since the Nazi’s “final solution.”
In Syria, where approximately a half million Christians have been displaced and thousands murdered, these executions are carried out in a deliberately grizzly manner in order to send a message to those who refuse to convert to Islam.
According to a Croatian Catholic website, teenage boys have been crucified. Unborn babies are retracted from the wombs of their mothers – hung on trees by their umbilical cords. Parents are forced to watch their children put to death before being executed themselves.
The past decade has witnessed the decimation of the Christian population in Iraq. According to the Economist, approximately 1.5 million Christians lived in Iraq in 2003. Today that number is below 400,000. Even before ISIS entered the picture, post-Sadam Hussein Iraq was home to Al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents executing Christian religious leaders who refused to convert to Islam and burning more than 60 churches according to the Washington Post.
What is now modern-day Iraq has been integral to Christianity for 2,000 years. But according to Daniel Williams, former senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, “Christianity in Iraq is finished.”
Sadly, many of the Christians who escaped Iraq with their lives ended up in Syria where their survival is as much in jeopardy as ever.
As most of the Western world cheered the removal of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, angry Islamists set their sights on the country’s Christian population. A wave of violence – pogroms – against mostly Coptic Christians resulted in the burning of over 40 churches and looting by Muslim mobs.
The Middle East is not the only region of the world where Santa Claus can no longer deliver presents.
Central and North African nations such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Chad have witnessed their Christian and Muslim populations die by the sword of Boko Haram for refusing to follow strict Sharia law. This fundamentalist Sunni Moslem group has tortured and murdered at least five thousand men, women and children who refuse to convert to their brand of Islam. The group’s name, which loosely translates as “non-Moslem education is forbidden,” kidnaps and often sells girls they have abducted from schools.
But Santa’s sleigh won’t be completely denied free rein in this part of the world on Christmas Day. Plenty of toys are destined for Christians residing and thriving in the Jewish State.
In fact, the Christian population in Israel is on the rise.
According to a 2013 report by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are approximately 161,000 Christians living in Israel, up from 158,000 the previous year, which also saw an increase.
I can only hope Santa can find a safe path into the Jewish State to deliver presents. I fear Rudolph’s red nose may attract gunfire and rocket attacks from Hamas.
Shalom, Big Guy.