Politicizing the fate of minorities in Iraq, Syria and Egypt

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By Fatih Abdulsalam

U.S.’s media and diplomacy machine are stirring the issue of minorities in the Arab world in an intensive and extensive manner.

But there is little sincerity in raising the issue.

The fate of minorities in the Arab world is being politicized. For the U.S. the target is not preserving and safeguarding these minorities but raising fears about their future.

There is no doubt that the minorities in the Arab world are being targeted and sometimes ferociously and violently.

But U.S. policies vis-à-vis minorities lack wisdom and perspective as they never delve into the reasons that are behind the troubles the minorities have been facing in the past ten years while such problems were almost non-existent previously.

Following the 2003-U.S. occupation of Iraq, the blowing up of churches became a political symbol and reality, in a country known for its tolerance and co-existence. What happened to Iraqi Christian minority in U.S.-invasion aftermath is incredible and unbelievable within the pre-invasion Iraqi context

U.S. ambassador in Egypt gave a speech in Alexandria about the protection of minorities. But she did not even bother to mention any of the causes that are behind the current anti-minorities phenomenon in the Arab and Muslim world.

Moreover, her speech included ‘booby traps’ which any party in the conflict over the minorities in Egypt could use to destabilize the situation even further.

Even at the height of the war in Afghanistan, when under former Soviet Union’s occupation, there was no such anti-Christian mentality, despite the fact that those fighting the Russians were mainly ‘Islamists’ in today’s sense.

The current anti-minority approach has become a characteristic of the Middle East in the post 9/11 era, the discourse that accompanied it and the invasions that came after it.

In Syria, the minorities become an issue and the government of President Bashar al-Assad, based on U.S. ‘apprehensions’ about the fate of minorities, uses the minority issue to buttress its own stands.

But the reality of the situation on the ground says something else.

Despite the fact that the majority of Christians are allied with the government in Damascus, they have not been targeted for that reason.

Most attacks on Christians in Syria have occurred in tension areas where majority Muslim Sunnis happen to be battling the minority Muslim Alawites.

Minorities are an integral part of the Arab world. They are part of its culture and civilization.

One cannot think of a true Islam without it providing the right and appropriate protection of the minorities among its ranks.