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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eritrean Orthodox Churches Closing Their Doors at an Alarming Rate

ICFC has learned that since the Eritrean Government revoked the exemption of all Orthodox clergy (priests, deacons and monks) from military service and ordered their conscription in July 2005, over 1400 known Orthodox priests and deacons have been forced into the military. The research unit of ICFC, in cooperation with persons who are well placed to have access to classified information, has undertaken a study to document efforts by the government to destroy the Eritrean Orthodox Church. The following is a preliminary report on an ongoing and thorough investigation.

In 1997 a letter was circulated within the office of the Ministry of Local Government - at the time headed by Mr. Mahmud Ahmed Sherifo who has been in prison since September 2001 and presumed dead. The letter contained a decision for the exemption of all clerics from serving in the military. By the Beginning of 1999, all clergy were issued identification cards exempting them from the country’s obligatory military service.

But by 2002, the government’s attitude towards religion in general took a decisive turn for the worst. Just prior to the proclamation outlawing many evangelical churches and other sects on May 17, 2002, the government began the process of taking over (nationalizing) the country’s oldest and most influential institution – the Orthodox Church. The singular event that signaled this ominous development was the installation by the government of a political appointee, Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros, as the General Administrator of the Church. With this act, the government essentially put the Synod of the Church under its full control. Yoftahe became the one person responsible for the implementation of the government’s total control of the church.

The one individual who took an uncompromising stand against all encroachments by the government in the affairs of the Orthodox Church was its patriarch, H. H. Abune Antonios. In order to weaken the Patriarch’s opposition, however, the government orchestrated the arrest of all the leading clergy in the Orthodox Church and defrocking scores of others, leaving the Pontiff isolated.

Then, a circular letter, dated July 4, 2005, was issued by the Religious Affairs Department of the Ministry of Local Government. This crudely written circular officially revoked the exemption of all clergy from military service, and ordered all able-bodied priests, deacons and monks within a wide-range age group to report for military service.

By the end of 2005, having completely weakened the authority of the Patriarch through the arrest and defrocking of a large number of capable clergy, and having brow-beaten all the members of the Synod into submission, the government then moved against the person of H.H. Antonios himself by announcing his “removal from all administrative duties.” In January 2006, he was put under house arrest. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

The past four years have seen the reducing of the Eritrean Orthodox Church to mere arm of the Department of Religious Affairs. The historical artifacts and ancient manuscripts of the Church were all declared as “the property of the Eritrean people”, and have been removed from churches and monasteries. The finances of the church also fell under the control of the Department of Religious Affairs. According to associates of ICFC, the forcing of over 1400 priests and deacons into the army has had deleterious effects on the future of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Others chose to flee the country than joining the military. The number of those who fled is in the hundreds.

While many of the churches in the larger cities are still able to continue their ministry, numerous Orthodox Churches in rural Eritrea are devastated by the severe shortage of clergies resulting from the above policy. According to the result of ICFC’s research, numerous examples can be cited of churches that have closed their doors as a result of the government’s pernicious and deliberate plans to depriving the Orthodox Church of priests.

The following are just a few examples of churches that have closed their doors: Medhane Alem (The Savior of the World) Orthodox Church in Keru near Teseney, St. George Orthodox Church in Aligider, Gelila Mariam Orthodox Church in Shambuko, Medhane Alem Demas Orthodox Church near Ginda’E, St. Michael MeHrad Lam near Qnafna, an Orthodox Church in Adi-Itay in the area of Mendefera, and St. Gabriel Egela Orthodox Church near Teseney.

What makes the policy of the government even more dangerous for the future of the Eritrean Orthodox Church are the government’s efforts to completely deprive the institution of future priests by conscripting ALL deacons and priests younger than age fifty into an interminable military service. It is the young deacons who traditionally become future priests. The calculus of the government’s policy, therefore, is very simple: no deacons = no priests = no churches.

If this dangerous policy is not reversed immediately, and the disruptive blow that has been inflicted on the church is rectified, one ICFC researcher who participated in the study concludes that more than half of the 1500 Eritrean Orthodox churches in the country will be closed permanently within just two decades. This is an immense demographic catastrophe waiting to happen. Many things can be said about the ruinous ramifications of the government’s policies for the future of the country. But the destructive policy of the Eritrean government against the church will leave behind one of the most insidious and catastrophic legacies, namely, the ruining of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

Orthodox Christianity came to Eritrea in the early 4th century. Approximately fifty percent of the country’s population is Christian. Orthodox believers are estimated to represent ninety-two percent of Eritrea’s total Christian population.

ICFC denounces the regime’s pernicious designs to bring about the EOC’s extinction - this time through wholesale conscription of its clergy in the army and in denying the Church from continuing its tradition of priests-in-apprentice to develop its future clergy. This was the only way the EOC has assured itself its continuity for over one and a half millennium.


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Christianity and Islam in Africa

Nigeria and Sudan bookend the problem all over black Africa, everywhere that Muslims receive aid from Arabs, chiefly the Saudis and Gaddafi, and nowhere do the nations that those black Africans think of as being peopled by their fellow Christians ever come to their aid, not militarily, not diplomatically, not economically, not with sanctions against the Muslim offenders. The West abandoned Biafra, and it abandoned the Christians of the southern Sudan, and it is now looking with indifference, or deliberately misconstruing the unrelenting Muslim attacks on Christians (the movement of Muslims into heretofore mainly Christian countries, such as the Cote d'Ivoire), as "civil war" or "communal violence" where both sides are said to be at fault, though in every case of violence it is the Muslims who start things, and the Christians who, goaded beyond all endurance, finally fight back.

In early March, more than 500 Christians in Jos, Nigeria, were killed by what the New York Times called “rampaging Muslim herdsmen.”

The killings were only the latest outbreak of violence in Nigeria’s Plateau State, which sits on the dividing line between the country’s mainly Christian south and Muslim north.

It’s also part of a larger conflict between “a surging Christianity” and what Penn State professor Phillip Jenkins calls “an unyielding Islam.”

In the pre-dawn hours, Muslim Fulani herdsmen set the homes of Christian villagers on fire and then killed the occupants, mostly women and children, as they fled. The resulting massacre left a scene that a Doctors Without Borders representative called “unreal.”

Why did they attack women and children? The Times said it was “apparently in reprisal for similar attacks on Muslims in January.” But the Times didn’t give any details about these so-called similar attacks.

A subsequent report quotes a proud perpetrator saying that Christians killed “a lot of our Fulanis in January,” but provides no evidence of these attacks besides his allegations.

A businessman spoke for many Christians when he said that Muslims believe they “are born to rule” and want to drive our indigenous Christian population out.

We have good reason to think he is correct. Professor Philip Jenkins of Penn State places what happened in Nigeria in a global context. He says a “tectonic plate of religious and cultural confrontation runs across West and Northwest Africa, through Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.”

This line of confrontation, about 10 degrees north of the equator, marks the boundaries between traditionally Muslim areas and increasingly Christian ones.

It’s the “increasingly” part that really matters. According to Jenkins, “one factor driving Islamic militancy in many nations is the sense that Christianity is growing.” It used to be that these were animist areas to the south. The people were considered inferior by the Muslims. And if they did convert, it would be to Islam.

But the explosive growth of Christianity, especially in Africa, changed that. Christianity is now competing with Islam, and is even making inroads among some Muslim groups, especially women. The “Jesus” film has become, in Jenkins’ words, a “weapon of mass instruction,” and those being instructed are often Muslims.

As a result, “even nonpolitical Muslims” worry that their grandchildren might become infidels.

This accelerating “Christian expansion...in what should have been dependable Muslim territory” is one factor helping to drive the growth of a “new and highly militant form of Islam.”

What’s happening in Nigeria and all along the 10th parallel suggests that what Samuel Huntington called a “clash of civilizations,” but is in reality, a religious divide running around the girth of the world and into Europe.

Which is all the more reason for us to lovingly and peacefully present the Gospel to those Muslims who are showing increasing interest in Christianity. If Jenkins is right, this is the best antidote to the continuing, tragic violence.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Divide Nigeria in two, says Muammar Gaddafi

Nigeria should be divided into two nations to avoid further bloodshed between Muslims and Christians, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said.

In a speech to students, he praised the example of India and Pakistan, where he said partition saved many lives.

Splitting Nigeria "would stop the bloodshed and burning of places of worship," state news agency Jana quoted him as saying.

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The Jihad against Christians in Nigeria continues

Christian village in Nigeria attacked again
REUTERS March 17, 2010

Raiders armed with machetes killed at least 13 people in an attack on a village near the central Nigeria city of Jos Wednesday, close to where hundreds have died in sectarian violence this year.

A Reuters witness in the village of Byei, in the Riyom area around 30 km (20 miles) south of Jos, counted 13 bodies, most of them women, following what residents said an attack in the early hours. At least three huts were also burned in the raid.
The attack happened despite a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Plateau State which has been enforced by the military since January, when clashes between Muslim and Christian mobs killed more than 400 people, according to community leaders.

"Enough is enough. We don't want the military again," said Emmanuel Jugu, who represents Riyom in the Plateau State parliament.

"We have been observing the curfew. So how can people now come and slaughter us. The military should withdraw. We are capable of defending ourselves," he said.
The Red Cross said it had sent a team of volunteers to the village.
Plateau State, of which Jos is the capital, lies at the crossroads of Nigeria's Muslim north and Christian south, a region known as the "Middle Belt."

Fierce competition for control of fertile farmlands between Christian and animist indigenous groups and Muslim settlers from the north have repeatedly triggered unrest in the region over the past decade.

After the January unrest, violence flared again 10 days ago with attacks on the mostly Christian villages of Dogo Nahawa, Zot and Ratsat just south of Jos, in which hundreds more people are feared to have been killed.

The unrest comes at a difficult time for Nigeria, with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan trying to consolidate power while ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua, who recently returned from three months in a Saudi hospital, is too sick to govern.
Jonathan is also having to deal with resurgent unrest in the oil-producing Niger Delta, where militants Monday detonated two car bombs outside a government building.

See: Jihad in West and Central Africa

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Islam is incompatible with diversity

Before the rise of Islam, the Middle East had a wide range of religions and cultures. So much so that it is difficult to imagine the world today without the ideas and beliefs that emerged from there. Today however the Middle East has one dominant religion and one nationality. While there may be numerous countries, they all compromise an Arab Muslim Empire that extends from North Africa to the Gulf. An Empire that with the exception of Israel and Iran consists of one race and one religion, with all others either exterminated or subjugated as second class citizens.

That Empire was built through the ideology of Islam, that provided a manifest destiny to the quarreling Arab tribes who had already begun to overrun the region. Islam began by giving Mohammed and his followers the right to loot and enslave anyone who did not obey them, and ended by turning his cult into a fanatical worldwide movement bent on doing what they had done to the Middle East... to the entire world.

The worldwide spread of Islam has been aided and enabled by the First World's love of multiculturalism and diversity. But as history shows, there is no surer way to destroy cultural and religious diversity, than by introducing Islam in to the mix. The idea that Islam can be an ingredient in a multicultural society is as foolish as the idea that adding a tank full of piranhas to an aquarium will result in species diversity. Because Islam does not participate in the ecology of a multicultural society, it is a predator consuming and destroying cultures and beliefs... and leaving only corpses and frightened victims in its wake.

The Middle East which was once home to Jews, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Gypsies, Nabateans and Persians, and where Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism-- has been reduced to Islamic Arabia. Mosques have been built over the demolished ruins of churches and synagogues. Entire populations have been forcibly converted to Islam, their children raised to hate and kill their own brethren. The survivors were compelled to pledge allegiance to their new masters, to keep their heads down and wear badges of inferiority. To pay tribute and always remember that the Arab Muslim was now the ruler here.

To understand the mad hate that Muslims have for Israel and their obsessive need to wipe it off the face of the earth, understand this. To the Arab Muslim, Israel represents a successful slave rebellion. A rebellion in which the former slaves, the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries who fled there, not only bested their masters but repeatedly proved themselves their superiors. That is something the Arab Muslim has never been able to accept, vowing to pay any price to destroy Israel.

The rise of Israel threatens Arab Nationalism because it threatens the return of the region to its Pre-Mohammedan state. As mercenaries of Rome, the Arabs had razed Jerusalem and put an end to even the fiction of a Jewish state that had been maintained under the dominion of Edomite Roman appointed kings of   the Herodian dynasty. The Mohammedan ideology united them into a powerful force that swept through the power vacuum created by the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. That ideology swept around the world, appealing to tribal thugs and tyrants because it replaced the complexities of Judaism and Christianity, with the story of Mohammed's rise to power and his subjugation of his enemies. And so it went until the sick man of Europe died, and the Middle East was parceled out into European colonies.
But the end of European colonialism did not restore the region to what it had been, instead it ended the New Colonialism in favor of the Old Colonialism. Once again the region was divided into Arab Muslim states with everyone else reduced to vassal status. European colonialism departed and restored the Arab Muslim colonialism which had turned the Middle East into such a hopelessly backward place to begin with. And faced with the same arrangement of tribal states fighting amongst themselves, those Arab Muslims who dreamed of ruling as a Master Race again, once more turned to the ideology of Islam to unify them in their war against the rest of mankind.

Israel's existence is a thumb in the eye of Islam. It mocks the Koran's pretenses that Islam is the inheritor of Jewish history and Jewish prophets. Thus is undermines Mohammed's status as the final prophet to mankind. Any rebellion by non-Muslims against Muslim rule is considered blasphemous, but one that also undermines the Quranic revelation, endangers the entire theology of Islam. And so adding to the humiliation of the Middle East's "Master Race", is that the creation of the modern day State of Israel was also a sharp tug on the Prophet's beard.

The rise of a New Middle East that would have the religious and cultural diversity of the Pre-Mohammedan era would mean the end of the Arab-Islamic empire, an idea that threatens the heart of their identity and ambitions. As the harbinger of that New Middle East, Israel represents an existential and historical threat to that dark empire. It betokens a world in which the slaves will be free, in which men will no longer be compelled to be Muslims. In which the peoples of the Middle East will be able to reclaim their freedom again.

And indeed today, Israel is the only country in the region that offers religious freedom. As a result even an Islamic splinter group such as the Bahai, make their base in Israel, because they are not safe anywhere else. The Bahai represent exactly the sort of dangerous evolution of Islam, that centuries of Sharia law and the headman's ax had been geared to prevent. Islam has remained as static as it has, primarily because it only permitted reform movements have sought to drag it away from any innovations and back to the time of Mohammed. But in a New Middle East, Islam itself might change and become something else. And that is something its leaders will never tolerate.

Yet the very same American and European leaders who have made "diversity" into their bible and "multiculturalism" their scripture, howl against Israel, while importing Muslims into their countries by the planeload and the boatload. And unsurprisingly, Europe is experiencing exactly what the Middle East has. European cities are being overrun by gangs of thugs, little changed from those who looted caravans and raped their captives as followers of Mohammed. Blasphemy laws are being enforced by force and by threat of force. Ignorance is replacing knowledge. And once great cities are turning into dungheaps simmering with hate.

Europe's greatest cities are turning into the Middle East. And this should surprise no one at all. Once upon a time, Alexandria, Damascus, Constantinople and Jerusalem were cosmopolitan centers of culture and learning. Today only West Jerusalem amounts to anything, precisely because it is the only one of them not under the boot of Islam.

Islam destroyed the Middle East. And now it has its sights set on Europe and the rest of the world. While First World politicians may preach diversity, the flood of Islamic migrants washing up on their shore are not interested in diversity, their culture, law and religion is Islam. They want no others... and more importantly they will tolerate no other.

The bearded piranhas have been tossed into the European aquarium where they are now proceeding to reproduce in large numbers while devouring the other fish. Given some time, the tank will consist of piranhas fighting each other, and a handful of smaller fish who have survived mainly because they are of some value to the piranhas. Namely the small yellow Dhimmifish. In other words the European aquarium will come to look exactly like the Middle Eastern aquarium, made of equal parts rubble, dirt and hate. A region where the literacy rate is lower than Sub-Saharan Africa. Where women are property. Where there is no constitution or law, only the will of an Imam or a tyrant.

That is the Europe that the advocates of diversity and multiculturalism are speedily bringing about. That is the Europe, the America, the Australia and the Canada that their grandchildren will have to live in. It will not be a diverse place, except in the diverse numbers of slaves. There will be no culture, no freedom, no knowledge and no truth.


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Somali Islamist rebels ban English, science lessons

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Somalia's hardline Islamists have banned English and science studies in schools in the southern Afmadow town after the education centers there ignored the rebels' call for fighters, residents and teachers say.

Residents of the town near the border with Kenya said three schools had been given one month to comply with the order by al Shabaab rebels and switch the curriculum to accommodate Arabic and Islamic studies.

"They asked us to contribute students to their militia so that they can fight for them, but we rejected their proposal," said one teacher who wanted to remain anonymous.

Al Shabaab, which Washington says is al Qaeda's proxy in the failed Horn of Africa state, wants to topple Somalia's U.N.-backed government and impose its own strict version of sharia, Islamic law.

The heavily armed group controls much of the south and parts of the capital Mogadishu, and courts run by its clerics have ordered executions, floggings and amputations.

It has also banned movies, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing or watching soccer in the areas under its control.

Elders said the al Shabaab militia shut down Waamo, Dhoobaale and Osman Mohamud schools briefly Sunday, before slapping the ban on English, which they called a "spy language."

"The Islamic administration closed education centers and ordered them to stop teaching English which they said is a western language," Ali Mowlid Mohamud, clan elder in Afmadow, told Reuters by phone.

"They told schools, 'We know everyone who is going to be a spy for western governments learns this language.'"

Schools reopened Tuesday after elders and schools accepted al Shabaab's decree.
The order also forced 23 instructors that did not have an Arabic education background, out of their jobs.

Safiya Ali, a mother at one of the affected schools, said she sent her children to the Koranic schools earlier in their life so they would later pursue some western education to enable them to join higher education institutions elsewhere.
"We had already taught our children Islamic principles and religion. I don't know how the new curriculum will fit the education needs of our children," she told Reuters.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Crusade against the Orthodox World, today

From: http://www.britishblogs.co.uk/

To most of the West, if not all of it except Serbia, Radovan Karadzic is a war criminal: he is somewhere up there with Hitler (perhaps not quite as bad) or Mussolini (perhaps worse). He has been indicted by the UN on two counts of genocide and nine other counts of murder, extermination, persecution, forced deportation and the seizing of 200 UN hostages. He faces possible life imprisonment if convicted.

NATO has obligingly convened a Court at The Hague to bring him to justice.

Or their concept of it.

As his trial finally began, he proclaimed: "I stand before you not to defend the mere mortal that I am but to defend the greatness of a small nation. I will defend that nation of ours and their cause that is just and holy."

And he blamed the appalling suffering and bloodshed of the Bosnian war, in which upwards of 100,000 people were killed and millions displaced, on Islamic militants, the United States of America, Germany and the European Union.

If ever there were an impossible, intractable, inextricable religio-political war, it is the Balkans. And Bosnia must be the epicenter.

Mr Karadzic asserts: ‘Everything the Serbs did as part of their own legitimate defense, all of that is treated as a crime."

He showed the court a photograph of what appeared to be a Middle Eastern militant holding the severed head of a Serb fighter, an image that recalled alleged links between Bosnian Muslims and Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda.

He accused a ‘conspiracy’ of Muslims, hiding behind calls for Bosnian independence, of waging a ‘jihad’ against Serbs. He said: "They had an Islamist goal. They wanted 100 per cent power as it was in the days of the Ottoman Empire. They want Islamic fundamentalism."

He insisted that the war was not started by Serbs but began when the US and the EU triggered the break-up of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia by recognizing unilateral declarations of independence from Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia.

And harking back to World War II, when Serbian partisans fought with Allied support against occupying Nazi forces, Mr Karadzic said that a vengeful Germany had rallied European powers and the US against the Serbs. He believes that the Western media had aided Muslim ‘war tricks’, including the faking of concentration camp photographs and staged atrocities in Sarajevo during the 44 month siege of the city where 12,000 civilians were killed.

Nutter? Liar? Madman?

Conspiracy theorist?

Demented?

Delusional?

Well, it is worth recalling the history, and pausing for more than a moment before we dismiss talk of a fundamentalist Muslim plot.

When you are leading an Orthodox nation as proud as Serbia which descends into war and is threatened from without by Roman Catholic Croatia and Muslim Bosnia, do you surrender? If ethnic Serbs are terrorized by Muslim Bosnians, do you simply do nothing? If the leader of the Muslims rejects power-sharing proposals and demands an Islamic republic, do you resist?

And if you resist and fight, is the cause just and holy?

Mr Karadzic said the Bosnian Muslims were the first to attack and ‘their conduct gave rise to our conduct’.

So it was self-defense.

The Serbs, he says, ‘were claiming their own territories’, and, as he observes, ‘that is not a crime’.

He further said: “It was never an intention, never any idea let alone a plan, to expel Muslims and Croats."

In a specific reference to one alleged incident, Mr Karadzic denied Serb responsibility for the 1994 shelling of the Markale market in Sarajevo, which he called ‘an illusion and a trick’. He showed video of an empty market that he claimed was shot before the shell landed, implying that the bodies were brought later. He said the media misrepresented legitimate refugee camps as concentration camps where non-Serbs were tortured and killed.

So, this was a photo-shopped war?

He said the Serbs ‘wanted to live with Muslims, but not under Muslims’.

Perhaps that is not an option.

Mr Karadzic portrayed himself as a conciliator who had been prepared to compromise on Serb ambitions to preserve the Yugoslav federation or to unite predominantly Bosnian Serb territory with Serbia.

And his argument is not without merit.

The break-up of Yugoslavia is the fulfillment par excellence of the EU’s ‘regional principle’. By encouraging petty nationalisms, the EU is able ‘administer’ and ‘develop’ for its own purposes, and it is a whole lot easier to achieve this in those nations where there are already separatist movements and ethnic division (including the UK).

In 1974 Bosnian Muslims became a nation. They were in fact Slavs but were granted nationhood on the basis of a distinct religious identity. It is easily forgotten that it was Germany’s unilateral recognition of Croatia in 1989 which precipitated mass displacement of 500,000 Serbs from Croatia and bloodshed in Kosovo and Belgrade, and it is virtually expunged from the history books that Germany armed the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army throughout the 1980s and recognized its wartime fascist puppet Croatia in order to provoke Serbia.

And it is worth remembering that Germany was first to recognize Croatia in 1991, followed swiftly by the Vatican. Croats massacred a million Serbs, gypsies and Jews mainly at the Jasenovac concentration camp between 1941-45. Archbishop Stepanic and his priests helped to run the extermination camp and carried out forced conversions of Orthodox Serbs to Roman Catholicism.

In 1998 Pope John Paul II put Cardinal Stepinac of Croatia on the road to sainthood. The Cardinal was the leading Roman Catholic figure in Ustasha-ruled Croatia during the Second World War. The issue of his beatification is as offensive to many Serbs as that of Pope Pius XII is for very many Jews.

It should be remembered that many Orthodox Serbs were forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism, on pain of death.

And how many preferred death.

NATO aided the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Croatia and Albania which Hitler and Mussolini began.

If Radovan Karadzic is a victim of anything, it is of socialism, corporatist capital, an integrated European superpower and a manipulative élite.

In the report in The Times of London of 10th November 1998, which General Sir Michael Rose recounted a story of the ‘criminal’ Serbs who had been blamed for the destruction of entire Bosnian Croat villages. He disclosed that they had actually been ethnically cleansed by Muslims. And he also talked of the widely-held belief that the Muslim sector of Mostar had been destroyed by the Serbs: he revealed that it had in fact done by the Croats.

If Radovan Karadzic were closer to home, he might just be invited into a power-sharing government. If he were a Muslim, he would be lauded as a freedom fighter. If he were Roman Catholic, he would be asked by Channel 4 to present a program about the ‘real Jesus’.

But he is an Orthodox Serb.

The Crusade against the Orthodox-Christian World, yesterday

So what made it possible for a nation so great in the arena of world history, with such extraordinary capabilities, to so suddenly begin to lose its life force? What is most interesting is that the problems Byzantium met during its period of decline, aggression from foreign nations, natural disasters, economic and political crises, were nothing new for this over a thousand-year-old government with its proven mechanism for getting out of the most difficult situations. After all, the empire had experienced all these things before, and had overcome them.

Yes, there were many envious enemies both east and west, there were earthquakes, there were plagues; but it was not these which crushed Byzantium. All of these problems could have been overcome if only the Byzantines had been able to overcome themselves.

Byzantium's soul, and its meaning of existence, was Orthodoxy — the unspoiled confession of Christianity, in which no dogmas had changed essentially for a thousand years. The West simply could not endure such demonstrative conservatism, called it undynamic, obtuse, and limited; it finally began with grim fanaticism to demand that Byzantium modernize her whole life in the Western image, first of all in the religious, spiritual spheres, and then in intellectual and material spheres. With respect to the uniqueness and particularity of Byzantium, the West, despite its occasional raptures over Byzantine civilization, pronounced the sentence: it must all be destroyed; if necessary, together with Byzantium and her spiritual inheritors.

In Byzantium, after the end of the 13th century, two parties emerged, one called for reliance upon the country's internal strengths, to believe in them unconditionally, and to develop the country's colossal potential. It was prepared to accept Western European experience discriminately, after a serious test of time, but only in those cases where such changes would not touch the fundamental basics of the people's faith and state politics. The other party—pro-Western—whose representatives pointed to the indubitable fact that Europe is developing more rapidly and successfully, began to proclaim more and more loudly that Byzantium has historically exhausted itself as a political, cultural, and religious phenomenon, and to demand a root-level re-working of all state institutions in the image of Western European countries.

Representatives of the pro-Western party, secretly, or more often, openly supported by European governments, held an undoubted victory over the imperial traditionalists. Under their guidance, a series of important reforms took place, including those economic, military, political, and finally, ideological and religious. All of these reforms ended in total collapse, and lead to such spiritual and material destruction in the Empire that it remained absolutely defenseless before its Eastern neighbor—the Turkish Sultanate.

First of all, the pro-Western party began to re-evaluate its fatherland's history, culture, and Faith. However, instead of healthy criticism, they offered only destructive self-abnegation. Everything Western was exulted, and everything of their own was held in contempt. Byzantine history was distorted, faith and tradition were mocked, and the army was degraded. The whole of Byzantium began to be painted as a sort of universal monster.

Attempting to rely on the West's experience, the state became more and more ineffective. Even so, they stubbornly sought salvation in a new imitation of Western examples.

The final and most devastating blow to Byzantium was the ecclesiastical union with Rome. Formally, this was the submission of the Orthodox Church to the Roman Pope for purely practically reasons. One after another aggressive attack from foreign nations forced the country to make the choice: either to rely on God and their own strengths, or to concede their age-long principles upon which their state was founded, and receive in return military and economic aide from the Latin West. And the choice was made. In 1274, Emperor Michael Paleologus decided upon a root concession to the West. For the first time in history, ambassadors from the Byzantine Emperor were sent to Lyon to accept the supremacy of the Pope of Rome.

As it turned out, the advantages the Byzantines received in exchange for their ideological concession were negligible. The pro-Western party's calculations not only were unjustified, they collapsed. The union with Rome did not continue for long. The Grecophile Pope Leo IV, who had drawn Byzantium into the Union out of better intentions, died soon after the Union was concluded, and his successor turned out to be of a completely different spirit: the interests of the Latin West were first on his list. He demanded that Byzantium change completely, that it re-make itself in the image and likeness of the West. When these changes did not happen, the Pope excommunicated his newly-baked spiritual son, Emperor Michael Paleologus, and called Europe to a new crusade against Byzantium. The Orthodox converts to Catholicism were pronounced bad Catholics. The Byzantines were supposed to get the point that the West needed only complete and unconditional religious and political submission. Not only the Pope was to be recognized as infallible, but the West itself as well.

The crisis in state ideology led to total pessimism. Spiritual and moral decline began to take over, along with unbelief, interest in astrology, and the most primitive superstitions. Alcoholism became a true scourge of the male population. A morbid interest in long-forgotten mysteries of the ancient Greeks arose. An intelligentsia fascinated with neo-paganism consciously and cynically destroyed the foundations of Christian Faith in the people. Processes of depopulation and family crises ensued. Out of the 150 Byzantine intellectuals known to us to have lived during the late 14th, early 15th centuries, only twenty-five had families of their own.

This is only a small part of what came to Byzantium due to the decision amongst the elite to sacrifice higher ideals for the sake of practical advantages. The soul collapsed; in a great nation, who had given the world grandiose examples of flights of spirit, now reigned unbridled cynicism and squabbles.

A new Union signed in Florence, in what was now a completely mad hope for help from the West, did not change a thing. For the Byzantines themselves this was a new moral blow of great magnitude. Now, not only the Emperor, but even the Holy Patriarch shared the faith of the Latins.

However, despite various hierarchs' betrayals, the Orthodox Church stood firm. “All were against the Union,” a Byzantine historian relates.

The West's vengeful hatred of Byzantium and her successors is entirely inexplicable to the West itself; it goes to some deep genetic level, and, as paradoxical as this may seem, continues even to the present day. Without an understanding of this amazing but undeniable fact, we risk misunderstanding not only distant history, but even historical events of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Muslim mobs massacre Christians in Nigeria

"First comes Saturday, then comes Sunday "is a well known sentence in the Muslim World, meaning : "First we take care of the Jews (who pray on Saturday) then we will take care of Christians, the "Sunday people"

Muslim gangs attacked three villages in central Nigeria and killed up to 500 Christians in pre-dawn attacks on Sunday, March 7. “The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses, and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes,” said one witness. Another added, “We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run, these were the ones that were slaughtered.”
Many of these victims who expectedly were mostly children and women as well as a few men were hacked down and beheaded. The operation, according to witnesses, lasted from 3.00 a.m. to 6.00 a.m. Sunday without anybody coming to their rescue.

In a statement yesterday entitled: "Fresh Attack in Jos, Why did soldiers refuse to respond," the Plateau State Christian Elders Consultative Forum, said: "We the Christian Elders of Plateau State strongly condemn the attack on Plateau State Christians by the Hausa-Fulani Muslim militants in the early hours of this morning in Dogo Nahawa community in Jos, resulting in the killing of over 500 persons. Their dead bodies are still lying in their own pool of blood as we speak.

"The attack, yet another jihad and provocation of the Christians, started at about 1.30 a.m. last night. We are in touch with the survivors though many of them are still in trauma.

"Dogo Nahawa is a Christian community. The eye-witnesses say the Hausa-Fulani Muslim militants came chanting 'Allahukabar' and broke into homes, cutting human beings, including children and women with their knives and cutlasses.
Some 300 Christian churches have been destroyed in the area around Jos during the past four years.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Armenian Genocide

(CBS)March 2010 Wars are fought over oil, land, water, but rarely over history, especially about something that happened nearly 100 years ago. But that's what Turkey and Armenia are still fighting over: what to label the mass deportation and subsequent massacre of more than a million Christian Armenians from Ottoman Turkey during World War I.

Armenians and an overwhelming number of historians say that Turkey's rulers committed genocide, that its actions were a model for what Hitler did to the Jews. The Turks, meanwhile, say their ancestors never carried out such crimes, and that they too were victims in a world war.

Ever since, this battle over history has not only ensnared the two nations but even the White House and Congress, where resolutions officially recognizing the genocide are currently moving through the House and Senate.

But our story begins where the lives of so many Armenians ended, far from Istanbul, in the desert.

"60 Minutes" and correspondent Bob Simon took a drive into what is now Syria, to the barren wilderness, to what amounts to the largest Armenian cemetery in the world.

"As many as 450,000 Armenians died here," author Peter Balakian told Simon.

Balakian is an Armenian American who has written extensively about what happened in this desolate place.

According to Balakian, 450,000 Armenians died in this spot in the desert. "In this region called Deir Zor, it is the greatest graveyard of the Armenian Genocide," he explained.

Deir Zor is to Armenians what Auschwitz is to Jews. The most ghoulish thing about the place is that 95 years later the evidence of the massacres is everywhere.

Just a short distance from the banks of Euphrates there's a dump. It's also the site of a mass grave. It has never been excavated. All we had to do was scratch the surface of the sand to collect evidence of what had happened here.

Under the surface was evidence of bones. "It's the hill full of bones," said Dr. Haroot Kahvejian, an Armenian dentist who showed Simon around.

"Nobody bothered to dig them up until now?" Simon asked.

It was extraordinary standing on a mound where perhaps thousands of people lie entombed. There is no record of who they were or where they could have come from.

"Look at that. There are kids who know exactly where they are. They are finding them by the dozen," Simon observed.

"Evidence comes in many forms. It comes in photographs, it comes in texts and telegrams," Balakian said. "And it also comes in bones."

So just how did all these bones end up here?

In 1915, the First World War was raging and the Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The Armenians were a Christian minority who were considered infidels by the ruling Muslims -- a fifth column who sided with the enemy in the war.

The fact that they were prosperous didn't help, says Balakian, whose great uncle survived the genocide and wrote about it in a memoir Armenian Golgotha.

"Like the Jews of Europe the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire had a dominant role in commerce and trade, they were highly educated, many of them," Balakian.

And he said they were highly resented.

Asked what happened next, Balakian said, "What happens from the spring of 1915 on through the summer is a well orchestrated project of government planned arrests and deportations."

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Human Rights Group Seeks Freedom for Converts to Worship in Muslim World

Set My People Free to Worship Me, a new network of individuals, churches and organisations working for the freedom of religious converts to live and practice their faith, to experience equality and justice in their home countries, announced today plans for a worldwide protest march on Saturday (Easter Eve) April 3, 2010 at 12 noon in Australia, Africa, Middle East and Europe.”

“Founder and Leader, Kamal Fahmi said, Set My People Free to Worship Me is organizing a worldwide protest march seeking freedom, justice, equality and reconciliation for religious converts on April 3, 2010. We want to advocate that all people especially Muslims have the freedom to change faith, to live out and practice their new beliefs.”


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