Britain’s refusal to defend Christians in the Middle East is shameful

11 December 2013

4:15 PM

11 December 2013

4:15 PM

I have an ebook published next Thursday, called The Silence of Our Friends, on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the apathy of the West about this tragic and historic event. (A link will appear at the top of this page next week – in the meantime please spread the word.)

I say apathy, but lots of people are concerned, and in the past year and a half such books as Christianophobia, Persecuted and The Global War on Christians have tackled worldwide persecution; there has also been increasing awareness following violence in Syria and Egypt over the summer, and last month Baroness Warsi became the first minister to raise the subject.

Not that the British Government will actually do anything, as was made clear last week when Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told MPs that Britain will not defend persecuted Christians. Responding to backbenchers who said that Christians were being singled out for attack, the minister said that all groups were suffering under intolerant regimes, a logic Alan Johnson of the Telegraph calls ‘universalise-to-minimise’. The less you specifically focus on an issue, the easier it is to ignore.

Simmonds stated that ‘our response to the persecution of Christians should not be sectarian. We should not be standing up for … Christians in particular, we should be supporting the right to freedom of religion.’


He also argued that ‘there is a risk of isolating them from the wider populations, identifying them as something of a fifth column and even exacerbating the persecution’, which has been the line used by Britain and America for many years.

Taking aside the issue of ‘freedom of religion’, which is interpreted very differently by the Foreign Office’s friends in the Organisation of the Islamic Conferences to how it is by westerners, this argument doesn’t really stand up.

Islamists see Christians as a fifth column, whatever the West does, because that’s their mindset. Anti-Islamist Muslims meanwhile have an active personal interest in preventing Christian persecution and expulsion, since it will make life worse for them too.

But Muslims of all shades, who see western Christian leaders abandoning Christian minorities before discriminatory laws and state-inspired violence, aren’t going to think ‘oh wonderful, the British don’t believe in discrimination’; they are going to think that these people have no faith, no courage and no decency – in short, they’re decadent. And they would not be wrong.

The British and Americans have been doing this ‘let’s not be seen to take sides’ act since the invasion of Iraq. When the bombing of churches escalated in 2004, and when the Baghdad government denied basic services to Christian villages, religious freedom advocates like Nina Shea pressed the Americans to do something.

As Shea told me, ‘A number of us tried to bring it to their attention, and basically Condi Rice told me that the US just did not want to appear sectarian… Yet of course they removed a Sunni government and helped the Shia, and then championed Sunni appointments because they didn’t want Sunnis left out. But they said nothing about smaller, less violent minority religions, they just didn’t count.’ That has been repeated with US policy towards Egypt.

What a ‘non-sectarian policy’ therefore entails is discrimination in favour of the strongest and most aggressive groups. Iraq’s pre-war Christian population of 1 million has now fallen to 150,000, many of them elderly; still, the Foreign Office tells us, this issue is being taken very seriously and the issue is raised through the appropriate channels etc etc.

There’s an old saying attributed to the Arabs – better to be the enemy of the English, for that way they will buy you, for if you are their friends they will most certainly sell you. In its foreign policy, Albion remains as perfidious as ever.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • DurkaDurka

    Britain trained 1500 of these primates to kill Christians in the UK. Even your limp wristed media reported on it- because they didn’t know what it was.

    What’s shameful is that you think your government isn’t supporting al-Nusra/al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood- when they are in your government right now.

    Such stupid people. You lost your entire history once your King crowned himself Pope/Pedophile after beheading his wife. It’s like the crusades never happened.

  • DonnaTxx

    This is a genocide as defined by international law. Those that remain silent are complicit in this crime against humanity IMHO.

    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;

    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

  • Julia Gasper

    It is not just our own UK government that turns its back on the cause of oppressed Christians. The EU does it as well. Lady Ashton crawled and kow-towed to the Muslims after their murderous attack in Libya and elsewhere last year.

  • Julia Gasper

    I have been writing blog posts about this subject for the last three years – and it gets me a steady stream of abusive comments from left-wingers who screech at me for being a “bigot”. I have to delete them them quite regularly.

  • John in Brum

    About time somebody got the backbone to speak out about these atrocities. The cowardice of our political classes knows no bounds and make me ashamed to be English.

  • teapartydoc

    Maybe it’s time for Christians to give up on the West.

  • Coleridge1

    I only wish someone would have the balls to arrange a Gay Pride march through Bradford West.

    • DonnaTxx

      Didn’t two men do a charity walk in mankinis through the taliban stronghold of Birmingham get stoned for their trouble? It was percieved that they were two gay men. Off course, the msm glossed over that.

      Birmingham has already been identified as a area that harbours Muslim extremists.

  • la Catholic state

    Has anyone noticed how Western Governments don’t take sides……only when Christians are being attacked. If anyone else is attacked……they are gunning for one side and can’t wait to aid them, generally Islamisists. Pffft…

  • Jez

    “But Muslims of all shades, who see western Christian leaders abandoning Christian minorities before discriminatory laws and state-inspired violence, aren’t going to think ‘oh wonderful, the British don’t believe in discrimination’; they are going to think that these people have no faith, no courage and no decency – in short, they’re decadent. And they would not be wrong.”


    The Grooming Gangs.

    Social belligerence against their hosts surrounding communities.

  • The Patriot

    Let’s face it, we are at war….. it is just sickening that our side of the equation chooses to flat out deny it let alone ignore it…. Civil war throughout Europe is coming…. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later…

  • Coleridge1

    Slaughtering Coptic Christians in Egypt, persecuting Christians in the racist apartheid state of Pakistan, destroying churches in apartheid Moslem Indonesia, murdering converts to Christianity in islamofascist Iran, the murder and ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq and ……not a word of criticism from Cameron, Obama, the EU or the UN!! instead we have the likes do Catherine Ashton wailing about the horrendous human rights ATROCITY of Jews daring to actually live peacefully in Judea and Samaria! Where exactly does the Vatican stand on the genocide of innocent Christians being slaughtered and ethnically cleansed by radical fascist islam?
    900,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from Moslem lands in the 1940’s and 1950’s and the world said or did nothing.
    Why does the world remain silent at Moslem genocide against non-Moslems?

  • itaintmojo

    The least Britain and America could do is say something. They won’t even publicly denounce the persecution of totally innocent Christians, who are truly “live and let live” people for the most part and just minding their own business trying to get by.

    So far, the ONLY official whom I have heard complain about Sharia Muslims butchering Christians is Canada’s foreign minister Baird. America has 245 million Christians living in it. Shame on them for allowing this to happen without so much as an objection.

    • MProblem

      Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky recently tried to address specifically the persecution of the Christians in Syria; The Left (TM) screeched and screamed and piddled their pants with rage, and he backed off.

      The left is anti-white, anti-Western, and anti-Christian. Now that Marxism has been exposed as a huge fraud, this is their only political ideology.

      • la Catholic state

        But it’s not just the left. Cameron and Crew are as pro-Islam, anti-Christianity, as any leftie.

  • General George A. Custard

    ” Britain’s refusal to defend Christians in the Middle East is shameful ”
    As is Britain’s funding the PLO in Ramalah ( shared 50/50 between Fatah & Hamas ) to the tune of £75 million a year in direct UK overseas aid & an even larger amount via the EU aid budget

  • la Catholic state

    Shock Horror…..Christians in CAR are refusing to bow meekly to attacks by Islamic Jihadis. How awful of them. Cameron and Co won’t like this one bit.

  • Frank

    I share your feelings, but just what can Britain do in a place like Iraq? Our politicians can’t even sort out their own pay arrangements without having a nervous breakdown, so how are they going to figure out a policy re religious discrimination in Iraq? Do we even have any kind of policy about Iraq, or has that become an EU Competence (and therefore why do we have an FCO?).

  • la Catholic state

    Secular governments are distainful towards both Christians and Christianity. We should continue to lobby them….but ultimately, the safety of Christians is the duty of other Christians. All pro-Christian nations and parties should form a coalition to offer aid, refuge and arms if necessary to beleaguered Christians. Don’t wait for secular contemptuous Western Governments. They give less than a damn.
    Pro-Christian nations do exist….and they must be galvanised. If the Vatican won’t do it…..then maybe Russia will. Personally, I think it is time for the Pope to garner political support for Middle Eastern and African not to mention European Christians.

    • MProblem

      One problem: the current Pope is pro-Muslim.

      • la Catholic state

        The Pope is not pro-Muslim….and he is certainly not pro-secular aborting and contracepting godless Europeans. He only helps Christians.

    • Coleridge1

      The problem is that Christian and Jewish lives are of no consequence. Moslem well being is however sacrosanct. if the islamofascist Hamas blow up a bus full of Jewish kids – nobody cares. But if Israel takes out the Hamas islamoNazi who organized this – well that’s a war crime!

  • julis123

    Becasue they are free from persecution and violence, the only place in the middle east where the Christian population is increasing is Israel

  • Steven Barr

    I thought you were a proper Conservative not a neocon meddler. What happens in the Middle East is none of our business. Have you learned nothing from the catastrophic interventions of the past decade?

    • la Catholic state

      When it is your turn to be a victim of the religion of peace……you might be more understanding.

  • edlancey

    We could swap them for our fifth column in the UK ?

    • MProblem

      Yes, that would be the optimum move, but The Left (TM) would collectivize and commit mass genocide against “racist” white conservatives before they would allow that to happen.

  • andagain

    You do know that we don’t actually rule the Middle East any more?

    • sarah_13

      With the greatest of respect, your comment is unhelpful and seems to deliberately miss the point. This is not about who rules the middle east, patently we don’t, but neither does anyone else, ( not that that argument would take us anywhere as we’d have to start talking about the turks, the ottomans etc etc if we are to be fair to the colonial debate which apparently only the british must perpetually apologise for). However what does seem to rule and predominate in the middle east is an intolerance and violence towards minority groups, christians and women. This is not a nation thing its a human thing. We don’t have to rule anywhere to know that its wrong

      • andagain

        Right or wrong, the fact remains that we do not rule any part of the middle east, and the people who do don’t have to pay us that much attention. So it doesn’t really matter what we think of all this. What matters is what most of the people who live there think of it. And apparently they are happy enough.

        As long as that is true, it doesn’t really matter how much we care about it all.

  • crosscop

    In my opinion, the West should create a homeland for the Middle Eastern Christians in Lebanon – which was a majority Christian country until the 1960s. The alternative appears to be their gradual extermination.

    • la Catholic state

      I agree. Also Middle Eastern Christians (and the rest of us) must get rid of the notion that small families are a sign of Western sophistication.

      • Randy McDonald

        People are rarely convinced by ideology about family size, but rather by more conventional needs.

        • MProblem

          It would be easier for us to have our own children if The Left (TM) did not import millions upon millions of benefits scroungers from the Third World for us to support with our taxes.

          • Randy McDonald

            Actually, it doesn’t have anything to do with that. France, the United States and Scandianvian countries, each with their very different mixtures of policies and cultural norms, have replacement-level fertility to which the Muslim contribution is marginal.

            • MProblem

              Native-born U.S. black and white citizens have below replacement fertility rates. I suspect it is the same in France and Scandinavia as well. Yes, it’s harder to have your own children when you are expected to support someone else’s along with your own. this is just common sense–something that The Left (TM) is notoriously lacking.

              • Randy McDonald

                They have much higher sub-replacement fertility than other high-income countries, largely because they accommodate more flexible relationship structures in their families, common-law partners and the like. Trying to enforce traditional values in post-modern societies, as most of Europe and all of East Asia have found, just leads to dropping fertility.

          • la Catholic state

            No excuses. Large families are very possible…..and do exist. Try throwing out your contraceptives.

        • la Catholic state

          That’s their problem then. And small families are a pernicious problem.

    • MProblem

      And it was called “The Paris of the East” the most prosperous and advanced nation in the Middle East. Which the Muslims turned into a Third World toilet in record time.

    • Randy McDonald

      What does creating this homeland involve? Muslims live there, as well.

      • MProblem

        Yes, it would probably be a bust in the long run. The Christians would work hard to return their state to being “The Paris of the East.” And then the surrounding Muslims would demand to be let in to have that “better way of life” they themselves are not capable of creating in their own countries.

        And then The Left (TM) would call Lebanon an “apartheid state” and screech and scream and cr*p their pants in rage until the Christians finally gave in, and then the Muslims would come en mass and turn it into a Muslim-majority, Third World toilet once again.

        Better for it to just stay as it is. We simply can’t have nice countries in a world that’s controlled by The Left (TM) and its corporate globalist whoremasters.

        • Randy McDonald

          It’s worth noting that if all of the Christians of the Middle East were relocated to Lebanon, native Lebanese Christians would make up only a small minority of the Christian population. They’d be outnumbered by the Syrians alone, and both Lebanese and Syrians together would be far outnumbered by the Egyptians. How this Lebanon would develop a viable economy, especially with most of its Muslim majority presumably deported or worse, is a question I leave to you.


          • MProblem

            But they would at least be more culturally compatible with the native Christian Lebanese than the Muslims, wouldn’t they? So there wouldn’t be as much the cultural friction that contributes to economic degradation.

            According to the CIA Factbook, it currently has a 16K (USD) per capita income–which is higher than some Eastern European countries. So that means the Muslims didn’t completely destroy their economy–there was still a lot of social and economic capital built up before the Muslims arrived and trashed the place with their “vibrancy” and “cultural richness.” That would be a good place from which to start rebuilding.

            • Randy McDonald

              Why would people who never lived in the area, speak different dialects of Arabic (arguably separate languages, but that’s a separate issue), and have substantially different histories and life experiences be more compatible?

              The Lebanese economy is based on being an entrepot for the wider Middle East. This Lebanon, which has just finished a series of population exchanges aiming to separate itself from the Middle East, is no longer going to have this economy. Congratulations! All the human suffering you’ve imposed on everyone regardless of religion is for naught: you’ve just managed to create an open-air Christian ghetto.

              Wouldn’t it be simpler for the United Kingdom to give asylum to Christian and other refugees? Fewer borders would be hacked about.

              • Charles_Dilkes

                Your last paragraph does, I think, highlight the absurdity of western immigration policies. Legislation is so doggedly dependent on ideology that there’s no nuance at all: does it really have to be stated that middle eastern Christians are far more assimilable than Muslims from rural Pakistan? But in the age of universalism such subtleties are avoided in favour of crude generalities. Europe will suffer because of that.

                As for solutions – let’s not get it twisted here: the Christians of the middle east have been shafted by European powers since the beginning of the 20th century; in the case of places like Iraq, which did house entho-religious minorities like the Assyrians, it’s always been clear to me that they required a semi-autonomous district much like the Kurds have, but of course the Western powers never wanted to dabble in a bit of cartography because of the charge of sectarianism. The Christians have been sold out big time by the west, and the ironic thing is that we will suffer because of it the years ahead.

                • Randy McDonald

                  Charles: “does it really have to be stated that middle eastern Christians are far more assimilable than Muslims from rural Pakistan?”

                  It can’t be stated, because you’re comparing two different kinds of categories, e.g. the entire category of “Middle Eastern Christians” versus a highly specific subcategory (the proportion of Muslims living in Pakistan who live in rural areas). Your basis for comparison is off.

                  Could it be that, say, professionally-educated Pakistani Muslims might fit rather better into the United Kingdom than badly-educated Middle Eastern Christian peasants? Of course it could! You wouldn’t get that from your crude analysis.

                • Charles_Dilkes

                  Semantics – Pakistani Muslims are as divergent as Middle Eastern Christians, but there’s enough cohesion within each to differentiate them from the other. The comparison holds precisely because of that fact.

                  The analysis is ‘crude’ because immigration policy is crude – that binary you present is a chimera, it doesn’t and hasn’t ever existed. But even assuming it did – why would ‘professionally educated Pakistani Muslims’ fit in better than poorly educated Christians? You’ve given no reason to believe that other than the insinuation that, normatively, better educated folk are some how ‘better’ citizens than poorly educated folk. Good luck with that analysis.

                • Randy McDonald

                  No, there isn’t. Middle Eastern Christians are a broad, diverse category. Would the average Briton have more in common with an upper-class Cairene of Muslim religious background or with Coptic peasants living in rural Upper Egypt?

                  “that binary you present is a chimera, it doesn’t and hasn’t ever existed.”

                  It does exist, or at leat, provides a better comparison than contrasting one broad category (all Middle Eastern Christians) with a subcategory of a subcategory (the minority of Muslims who are Pakistani who are rural residents).

                  “You’ve given no reason to believe that other than the insinuation that,
                  normatively, better educated folk are some how ‘better’ citizens than
                  poorly educated folk.”

                  No. What I’m saying is that people living in urban areas with strong educational backgrounds are likely to do a better job of adapting to life in foreign countries than people who are not, regardless of their religion.

                • Charles_Dilkes

                  A broad diverse category that’s bounded by the singularity of their religion. Much like their Muslim, and European, counterparts. An average Briton wouldn’t have much in common with either. It’s a meaningless question; immigration policy isn’t as nuanced to give credence to such a simplistic binary.

                  No it doesn’t exist and hasn’t ever existed -and because it’s rhetoric and nothing more it has no bearing on this conversation whatsoever. ‘Categories’ & ‘sub-categories’ are your words: I have no reason to accept them. Is there a synergy amongst Christians just as there is amongst Muslims? Yes – as a point of logic the fact that one is ‘Christian’ and the other is ‘Muslim’ concludes that pretty obvious point; all this jabbering about taxonomical differences within each religious group is casuistical.

                  Your last paragraph – why would I have to accept that point? You may believe that to be the case but that’s just subjectivity masquerading as objective fact. Am I to believe that an educated fellow is better girded to ingratiate himself in the habits and mores of another culture? Knowledge has nothing whatsoever to do with value – that’s why a poorly educated German will assimilate a damn sight better than a highly educated Pakistani.

                  I don’t know why your arguing semantics here – the point I made is a pretty obvious one that’s validated by history.

                • Randy McDonald

                  Charles, your basis for comparison was badly off. Comparing “Middle Eastern Christians” as a group with a sub-group of a subgroup (rural residents living in Pakistan who are Muslim) is a poor basis for comparison. You have to break down the Middle Eastern Christian category. Are rural residents living in Egypt who are Christian likely to do better than rural residents living in Pakistan who are Muslim, how much better, et cetera. Your initial comparison, made here (, makes no sense.

                  “Am I to believe that an educated fellow is better girded to ingratiate
                  himself in the habits and mores of another culture?”

                  Yes. Why not?

                  “Knowledge has
                  nothing whatsoever to do with value – that’s why a poorly educated
                  German will assimilate a damn sight better than a highly educated

                  1. Why?

                  2. Define “poorly-educated” in the German context, please.

                • Charles_Dilkes

                  I’m not making a comparison I’m making a generalised statement of belief.

                  Yes. why not? More like why should I?

                  Why isn’t value synonymous with knowledge? Because X isn’t the same as Y as a basic axiom of logic. Culture / value has nothing to do with systematic knowledge.

                  Poorly-educated is simple English. I can’t be any plainer than that. You want to argue over semantics? Not interested.

                • Randy McDonald

                  “I’m not making a comparison I’m making a generalised statement of belief.”

                  So, in other words, you’re not interested in making claims involving actual evidence, you’re just trying to–what? Vent your particular prejudices?

                  Grand. Have fun!

                • Charles_Dilkes

                  No they’re your words, not mine.

                  The only ‘evidence’ that exists either way is historical precedence; I’m making a general statement about immigration policy, you seem to be interested in making jesuitical points about the taxonomical differences between middle eastern Christians & Pakistani Muslims. That’s a willful stonewalling of the more general point I was making.

                  Everyone has prejudices – what do you think a robust immigration policy is? Moron – work it out.

          • pp22pp

            Muslims and Christians separated in Cyprus and Anatolia. The Greeks had to give up on their “Big Idea”, but the separation put an end to generations of conflict.

  • Pootles

    More power to your pen. The saying at the end of your piece is true, horribly so, but perhaps ‘government’ needs to be added to ‘the English…’ . I wonder if a time is coming when, like the Jews before them, the Christians of the Muslim world will have to move, or be moved, not to Israel, but into what passes for European Christendom?

    • Austin Barry

      “…the Christians of the Muslim world will have to move, or be moved, not to Israel, but into what passes for European Christendom?”.

      Well, while European Christendom lasts: we already have terrorism, grooming gangs, FGM, honour killings, blood in our streets.

      Christian, Jew, Bhuddist, Wicca or Jedi: we’re all infidels and the enemy is here gazing with contempt upon our cultural weakness, our endless accommodations, and is confident of victory.

      I worry less about the Christians in the Middle East and rather more about those who are accosted by a Muslim patrol in London’s East End.

      The warning signs are there but our elites prefer to ignore them.

      • Pootles

        There’s something in this. I don’t usually set too much store by anecdote, but my brother, who is gay, moved away from the part of Glasgow he lived in because he was facing low level hostility from some people in the, growing, local Muslim community.

        • Julia Gasper

          Well that should surprise no one.

      • Wessex Man

        none the less, there are surely none more deserving of our largess than persecuted Christians but Labour and the Lib/dums won’t allow it to happen for fear of losing their majorities in their wards and the Tories are too craven!

      • la Catholic state

        Muslim patrols are an upshot of the secularist mentality…..all religions are equally valid etc. You wouldn’t find that in Catholic Europe of times past. Blood was shed to preserve the Christian nature of Europe then.

        How silly are the secularists…..and how they will pay.

        • pp22pp

          ….How they will pay. I think you mean: “How we will pay.”

          • la Catholic state

            Christians have long suffered at the hands of Muslims….now secularists have allowed mass Islamic immigration into once Catholic Europe. Their turn will be next.

    • la Catholic state

      More likely they will move to Russia. Russia already considering giving refuge to thousands of Syrian Christians. But countries within the EU should also play their part. Spain is considering offering refuge to converts from Islam to Christianity. Nice one. So could others if they were gently coaxed.

      • Julia Gasper

        Why give priority to converts when there are millions of Christians at risk of persecution all over the world?

        • la Catholic state

          Very good question. Just tweeted the Pope to ask him to ask Spain to take Syrian Christian refugees, since the world is ignoring them. Please do the same, thank you.