For Middle East Christians, Past and Present Collide with Violence

Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, once said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important lesson of history.”

When it comes to the Christians of the Middle East, we must learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes again.

What is occurring in Iraq and Syria is nothing new. In fact, it is a violent, repetitious carbon copy of an event nearly one century old. The Asia Minor genocide, more commonly known as the Armenian Genocide, was carried out by the Ottoman Turkish Caliphate against 3.1 million Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Christians. In the seven years it was carried out (from 1915 – 1922), nearly 1.6 million were killed and another 1.5 million Greeks were ejected from their ancestral home.

Then, as now, Christians were crucified or beheaded, their churches and relics looted and burned. Concentration camps were built deep within Syria and Iraq, and many were forced to make the trek across the desert, in death marches. Those who were not murdered or raped by nomadic raiders died from the severe desert climate or within the camps themselves.

Then as now, the inaction of the Great Powers only helped fuel the actions and actually helped lay the groundwork for the Holocaust. In his 1939 Obersalzberg Speech, Adolph Hitler said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

There are always two genocides. The first is the physical act, and the second is the denial that it ever existed.

The growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a brutal lesson to the world that past and present are clashing with violent force. Combined, these two countries have 3,195,000 Christians, of which 2,429,740 (76%) are of the Orthodox Faith. Christianity in this region has existed since the Pentecost, when Saints Peter, Thomas, and Thaddeus (Jude) brought the Gospel to this region. For 2000 years, Christians have been a presence here, and now they are on the verge of extinction. Forced expulsions, beheadings, crucifixions, and the destruction of Holy sites all demonstrate the vitriol of this extremist group, bent on realizing Osama Bin Laden’s dream of restoring the glory of the Ottoman Caliphate.

There are moral imperatives, and when we are faced with tests of our moral character, they must be answered, or we fail in our humanity. “Never again” must mean “never again,” and those words must have weight behind them.

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Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

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Constantine (Dean) Argiris is a lifelong Orthodox Christian from the…
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