Monday, July 1, 2013

Is Assad on the side of the angels?

The Middle East is a tricky place to make sense of. What is happening in Egypt? Mubarak went. Morsi was elected. Or 'elected.' Either way, a huge push to move him on is happening as I write. Millions are taking to the streets, filling Tahrir Square. (If only Egypt was Australia. Last week it took just - I think - twelve people changing their minds about Rudd, and Gillard was goneburger).

Much murkier is Syria. A proxy in war between Iran and Saudi Arabia? A country in turmoil because the poor have been ground down for too long? A cauldron kept off the boil for decades by Assad Snr and Assad Jnr, now not just boiling but exploding? Of one thing we can be certain, revolution in Egypt and Syria, in Iraq too, has not been kind to Christians.

This article makes the point that terrible things are happening to Christians in the name of the religion of peace. Damian Thompson takes up one item in the list, the beheading of a Catholic priest, and charges the MSM with ignoring it. Assad is no saint. But the tragic irony of his dictatorship from a Christian perspective is that his regime has been kinder to Christians than the tyranny being exercised by the militia which have taken control of parts of Syria.

Postscript: The trickiness of the Middle East has tripped up the Archbishop of Canterbury, seemingly. Ruth Gledhill reports that ++Justin is seeking a new communications aide after a PR debacle in Israel Palestine. (Most of report behind the paywall assisting Rupert with his divorce settlement).


Andrei said...

Meanwhile sniffily reported in the NZ Herald

Russia: Putin signs anti-gay measures into law.

The relationship between this development and the utter nonsense that is "gay marriage" obviously escapes the writer of that story.

Andrei said...

The comment above is meant for the post above c'est la vie.

But there is a tenuous relationship that connects these two posts and this comment and that being the post Christian West and its relations with Russia - which is at odds with the West over Syria and how to solve the bloodshed.

Historically Russia considered itself as the protector of Christians in the ME - indeed it was conflict with the West over this that was in part a driver for the Crimean War.

About a year ago Patriarch Kirill of Moscow traveled to Damascus and met with the local Christian population as well as Assad and promised to do everything he could to aid the Christian population, a promise reinforced by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

With our imperfect knowledge of what is really going on, in both this world and in the spiritual sphere it is hard to know what truly is going on but clearly Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa is under physical assault while in the West the attacks on the Church are more subtle but real never the less.

cf Maurice Williamson's celebrates speech to Parliament

Andrew Reid said...

Please pray for us in Egypt. What is happening here is a coup, even though the military deny it. Many are celebrating the army's intervention, but many of us remember their rule during 2011-2012: the Port Said massacre, the Maspero massacre of Christians, the military trials of civilians and the attacks on NGOs. We're also concerned how the Brotherhood will respond. They are strong numerically throughout the country and could decide to launch civil disobedience or worse.