The Persecution and Genocide of Christians in the Middle East

Edited by Ronald Rychlak and Jane Adolphe, Angelico Press, £17.50

Genocide means action taken with the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Pope Francis (“I insist on the word”) and others have concluded that what is being done to Christians in the Middle East meets this definition.

In the very lands where the faith was born and first took root, the Christian population appears to be dropping like a stone. One thinks of the terrible fate of the 22 Christians beheaded on a beach in Libya with their final whispered Lord’s Prayers audible on the video released by ISIS. Or Christian refugees in places such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, who have no resettlement rights and eschew UN camps because of discrimination and persecution by other refugees. Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of the Syriac Catholic Church sees Christians in the Middle East “engulfed by a nightmare that has no end”.

This collection of essays is designed to shine a light on how the world could or should respond, particularly through diplomatic and legal means.

Robert Fastiggi provides a useful account of the historical persecution of Christians by different regimes: pagan, religious and secular. He pins the growth of Islamist radicalism on the rise of Western political supremacy, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The Muslim world, he claims, “had been nurtured for years by a mindset of religious and cultural superiority”. As reality continues to bite, Fastiggi implies, one reaction has been to bite back.

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