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Washington, U.S.A. - Professor Habib Malik of the Lebanese American University has called on the United States and its European allies to “draw a thick red line” around religious liberty as it responds to the ongoing violence in Syria and the Middle East, and to provide “active protection” for minority rights in the region.
Dr. Malik issued this call this week at CSI’s 2012 conference series on The Future of Religious Minorities in the Middle East. Malik is a professor of history and the author of “Islamism and the Future of Christians in the Middle East.”
In Syria, Malik warned that the “first wave” of opposition leaders has been replaced by a “militant Islamist grouping” that engages in kidnappings and beheadings, including attacks on religious pilgrims. Given these attacks, Malik said it is impossible to “take seriously” the opposition Syrian National Council’s assurances to Syrian religious minorities, given on June 10, that they will be protected after the regime falls.
Malik faulted Western powers for promoting their “democracy” agenda with the help of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whom Malik termed “fanatic states” and “arch-repressors” that are “financing and supporting a militant Sunni Salafi Wahabi replacement in Syria and indeed anywhere else in the region they can manage it.”
Malik said that “if present trends continue,” the “better-funded and better-organized” Islamist parties are likely to rise to power in most of the Middle Eastern countries undergoing political change, with adverse consequences for Christians and other non-Muslim communities.
“Without these Christian communities,” he said, “pluralism is all but dead in the Middle East, and along with it, any real chances for genuine freedoms and democracy.”
To avoid these outcomes, Malik recommended that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton try to reach a “comprehensive deal” with Russia to put an end to the Syrian conflict and the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, pressure Saudi Arabia and Qatar to “stop fanning the flames of Sunni fanaticism,” and defend religious pluralism as an “absolutely integral component” of democratization in the Middle East.
Dr. John Eibner, the CEO of CSI-USA, said that Prof. Malik’s analysis “reinforced the urgent necessity for Christians and others of good will throughout the the world to press their governments to defend the Middle East’s religious minorities.”
CSI has issued a Genocide Warning for endangered religious minorities in the Islamic Middle East, and has called on President Barack Obama to make their survival a priority as the United States responds to the Middle East’s ongoing political turmoil.