by Stephen Glover
The tragic events in Gaza and Ukraine may be dominating the news, but even more terrible things are happening in Libya and Iraq. In both cases a naive and stupendously ill-conceived Western foreign policy is almost entirely to blame.
Many western embassies in Tripoli, including America’s, have closed, with diplomats deserting the city as fast as their legs will carry them, leaving the Libyans to their fate. Britain retains only a reduced embassy staff.
Meanwhile, in the north of Iraq — a country allegedly delivered into freedom from Saddam Hussein in 2003 — a psychopathic organisation called Islamic State (previously known as ISIS) is executing thousands of Shia Muslims and Christians as the central government in Baghdad looks on, powerless to intervene.
The largely untold story of the persecuted Iraqi Christian minority is especially shaming for those avowedly Christian leaders, George W. Bush and Tony Blair, who were responsible for the invasion of Iraq.
The largely untold story of the persecuted Iraqi Christian minority is especially shaming for those avowedly Christian leaders, George W. Bush (right) and Tony Blair (left), who were responsible for the invasion of Iraq
For however revolting Saddam Hussein may have been, he did at least tolerate Iraq’s Christian community, which at one time was almost 1.5 million-strong. In the years following the invasion, the number of Christians dwindled to 300,000.
Then, last month, Islamic State captured Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, which still had a sizeable Christian minority. Islamic State issued them with an ultimatum: if they did not convert to Islam by noon on July 19, they would pay a fine or be executed.
A vast exodus has taken place so that, according to Canon Andrew White, a brave Anglican priest resident in Baghdad: ‘It looks as though the end [of Christianity in Iraq] could be very near.’
This is a Christian community that was one of the oldest in the world. The earliest church building to have been discovered is at Dura-Europos in Syria on the Euphrates, close to the border with Iraq. Its murals were painted between 232 AD and 256 AD, three-quarters of a century before the Roman emperor, Constantine, recognised Christianity.
I dwell on the Christians in Iraq obviously not because their lives are more precious than those of the no-less-terrorised Shia Muslims, but because one might have expected Christian leaders to have spared a thought for them before they set about tearing apart the country’s social fabric.
If Saddam Hussein were still in power, Islamic State would not be on the rampage in northern Iraq and the lives of thousands of Christians and Shias would not have been lost.
And it is also certain that the number of people who have died since the invasion — as many as 500,000, according to reputable studies — far exceeds the number of victims of Saddam Hussein during his much longer period in power. No doubt thousands more innocent people are doomed to be killed…