Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich contends that the “grotesque failure” of President Barack Obama’s Mideast policies has propelled an “anti-Christian spring.”
The number of Christians in Iraq plunged from 1.2 million to 500,000 since the American invasion in 2003, and Christianity is under siege throughout the region, Gingrich told an audience in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Saturday.
“This is why the current strategy in the Middle East is such a total grotesque failure,” the National Journal
quotes Gingrich as telling a crowd of about 200. “People say, ‘Oh, isn’t this great, we’re having an Arab Spring.’ Well, I don’t know, I think we may in fact be having an anti-Christian spring. I think people should take this pretty soberly.”
Gingrich was referring to the wave of uprisings that have upset longtime autocratic regimes in the Middle East.
Ironically, the plight of Christians in the Middle East is likely to worsen as the Arab Spring removes dictators who shielded Christian communities. The parties that are gaining power in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries tend to be offshoots of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.
As president, Gingrich said, “I would actively try to defend religious liberty across the planet, including in Egypt and Iraq.”
That vow comes amid increasing instances of violence targeting Christians, including the Oct. 8 killing of more than two dozen mostly Coptic Christian demonstrators in Egypt and the potential execution of a Christian pastor in Iran for refusing to renounce his faith and embrace Islam. In the Egyptian slaughter, the New-York based Human Rights Watch alleged a military cover-up and demanded an independent investigation
. And the death sentence for Yosef Nadarkhani has prompted an international outcry, as Newsmax has reported
"The only hope for justice for the victims is an independent, civilian-led investigation that the army fully cooperates with and cannot control and that leads to the prosecution of those responsible," Human Rights Watch said.
Indeed, the flight of Christians from Egypt mirrors the Iraqi exodus Gingrich mentioned, as Newsmax reported last week
Egypt is home to about 8 million Coptic Christians, but at least 95,000 of them have fled since March, and the number could balloon to 250,000 by the end of this year, according to the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights.
"At the present rate, the Middle East's 12 million Christians will likely drop to 6 million in the year 2020. With time, Christians will effectively disappear from the region as a cultural and political force," according to Daniel Pipes, a leading scholar of the Middle East.
In Libya, transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil laid out a vision a week ago for the country now that Moammar Gadhafi has been killed. Islamic Shariah will be the "basic source" of legislation and existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified, he said.
“We are an Islamic state,” he declared to a cheering crowd in Benghazi Sunday.
Christian Syrians have clung to the government of President Bashar Assad, despite his regime’s own atrocities and his threats against the West. They fear what might happen if Assad fell, having seen what has happened in neighboring countries. Indeed many Christians who have fled sectarian strife in countries such as Iraq have ended up in Syria.
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