EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

November 11, 2013

Column: Rand Paul right on Christian plight, but lacks plan

At last month’s Values Voter Summit, a Washington gathering of conservative activists from around the country, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., gave a speech on what he called “a worldwide war on Christians by a fanatical element of Islam.”

Anti-Christian persecution, violence and “religious cleansing” have become common in many Muslim-majority countries. The media, as Paul pointed out, have turned a blind eye. So, too, have President Barack Obama and European leaders.

The senator was careful not to paint all Muslims with the brush of fanaticism. He stressed that only a minority of Muslims read Islamic scripture as mandating an armed struggle against Christians and other “unbelievers.” But because the global Muslim population is so large -- more than 1.5 billion -- even a relatively small percentage translates into tens of millions of jihad supporters.

Paul cited a few of the atrocities not making the evening news: a priest shot in the head in Zanzibar; churches bombed in Kenya; the beheading of three girls on their way to a Christian school in Indonesia; churches burned and worshippers killed in Egypt; a pastor in Iran tortured and ordered to renounce his faith.

In the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, in what is now Syria, he said, “Islamic rebels swarmed into town” demanding everyone convert or die. “Sarkis el Zakhm stood up and answered them, ‘I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.’ Those were Sarkis’ last words.”

Paul added: “These rebels are allies of the Islamic rebels President Obama is now arming.

“American tax dollars should never be spent to prop up a war on Christianity. But that is what is happening right now.”

Well, not precisely: Almost three years ago, Syrians began to peacefully demonstrate against Bashar al-Assad. The brutality of the dictator’s response sparked a civil war that was led by nationalists -- not jihadists. They asked for American support and were turned down, in part because the administration saw Assad’s fall as inevitable.

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