This last week of 2011, we’re exploring my top 5 faith and culture stories of the year. Yesterday we discussed Tim Tebow, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and the importance of making faith public. Today we’ll explore the Arab Spring and persecution of Christians in the Muslim world. As we’ll see, this tragic story has direct implications for our country in the new year.
The major event in 2011 regarding radical Islam would seem to be the death of Osama bin Laden last May. While I am glad bin Laden can no longer threaten Americans, I remain convinced that recent events in the Middle East are even more relevant to our nation’s future than the death of al-Qaeda’s figurehead. Here’s why.
As a result of the Arab Spring, Islamic political parties are gaining strength across the region. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party led all groups in Egypt’s elections earlier this month. The ultraconservative Nour Party, which wants to impose strict Islamic law on the nation, came in second. The Egyptian military is dragging its feet on transitioning power, leading to further protests. Economic reforms are desperately needed, and the future of democracy in Egypt is uncertain.
Meanwhile, no one seems to know who’s running Libya, or on whose behalf. And in Iraq, with U.S. troops gone, the nation could descend into a Sunni-Shia civil war, as recent attacks demonstrate.
How will Christians fare in this new era? A year ago, Muslim extremists attacked an Orthodox Coptic Church in Egypt during Christmas midnight Mass, murdering nine. On New Year’s Day, 20 Christians died and 70 others were wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a church in Alexandria. A Christian pastor in Iran faces a death sentence; as many as 1.5 million Christians have been killed by Arab Muslim militia in Sudan over the last 25 years.
Such persecution continues a tragic trend. In the first 19 centuries of Christian history, 25 million believers died for their faith. In the 20th century, 45 million Christians were killed for following Jesus. Some 300 million Christians around the world are either threatened with violence or legally discriminated against because of their faith. Radical Muslims are convinced that the Qur’an requires such attacks on believers.
Here’s my point: if militant Arabs would kill fellow Arabs because of their faith, what would they do to Americans? Radical Islam will continue to threaten us in 2012. The good news is that more Muslims are turning to Christ than ever before. Please join me in praying daily for a great spiritual awakening in the Muslim world across the new year. If such a movement depended on your intercession, would that be a good thing?