The Foreign Desk’s editor-in-chief, Lisa Daftari, launched the MyTreedom campaign on Facebook this week to give Christians celebrating Christmas in regions where they face intense persecution a platform to showcase their proud Christmas decor.
“Covering the turmoil and persecution in the Middle East and North Africa all these years, one comes upon these brief but poignant moments of courage, faith, triumph of human determination, and these are the stories we want to tell the world,” she told Breitbart News. “These are the stories that perhaps more accurately depict the character and resilience of those under persecution.”
The campaign is meant to raise awareness about Christian persecution and to underscore the fact that no one can dictate any one religion or belief to the masses. And for those of us living in the West watching the systematic wholesale genocide of Christians around the world, this is an easy, grassroots effort and an opportunity to stand up in support of freedom and religious liberty.
“The campaign is intended to raise awareness and highlight the plight of Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities living around the world, particularly in the Middle East, who are persecuted simply because of their faith,” she stated. “Amidst the headlines about the Islamic State and the often bleak prognosis on the ongoing war on terror, the human stories of so many native Christians who are being targeted, raped, abducted, and forced to convert have since been lost.”
The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has made news the past 16 months for its campaign to spread terror in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, Iraq, terrorists forced Christians to leave, convert, or die. They marked Christian houses and buildings for confiscation once the residents fled. While Mosul has been home to Christians since the dawn of the religion, reportedly, no Christians remain in Iraq’s second-largest city.
Christians face persecution across the globe, however, not just where the Islamic State is prominent. Malaysia has seen a rise in the popularity of Islam, with residents and governments reining in other religions. In April, a Malaysian Muslim group protested a cross on a church because it was “challenging Islam.” A top court banned non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.” Another governing body considered a law to allow the death penalty for anyone accused of apostasy, which is the abandonment of Islam.
“The response has been overwhelming and heartwarming,” responded Daftari, when asked about the countries who sent her pictures. “I have received photos from Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Israel, Brunei, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and U.A.E. VERY surprisingly, I am getting a great outpour from Pakistan, where between the Taliban, the mobs, the government, and the increasing Islamizing population, Christian persecution has become commonplace.”
In October, three Muslim men raped a deaf Christian woman in Pakistan. Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill accepted the case, but he said it is hard to prosecute these offenses.
“Christian families or witnesses are pressured to withdraw complaints,” he explained. “Violence against women and children of religious minorities, the weak and vulnerable, is widespread in Pakistan and is often carried out in silence. The cases and the stories do not come to light and when victims talk about it they are intimidated.”
Daftari hopes the campaign gains steam and pushes news about Christian persecution to the front all year.
“Hopefully the highlighting of Christian persecution will not just be a seasonal theme,” she said, adding:
While we stand in solidarity with Christians around the world at Christmas time, which is a time when Christians are typically targeted more frequently, their ordeal is not just limited to the month of December. I do hope that this project will remain “evergreen” and that the plight of Christians can remain a priority on the global agenda.