By Rupert Shortt, religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement (THE TIMES, 08/11/06):
Why is the Muslim sense of victimhood so inflated, given that many Muslim societies won’t put their own houses in order? And why is this double standard downplayed so much in Britain?
Mohammad Siddique Khan, ringleader of the July 7 bombers, justified his action as revenge for the killing of Muslims by Western forces in the Middle East. Dhiren Barot, sentenced yesterday for plotting to kill thousands of civilians, gave a similar rationale for his crimes. Much has been said about the moral squalor of these comments, but far less about their sheer incoherence.
Let us grant that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and overlook the inconvenient fact that most Muslim deaths there are now the fault of other Muslims. Forget the equally unpalatable truth that large majorities of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan support Western intervention in their countries. Look instead beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, back well before 9/11, and you see innumerable Christian communities on the defensive against rampant forms of Islam.
Siddique Khan and his associates were allowed to practise their religion freely in Britain, but there is scarcely a country from Morocco to Iraq in which Christians are able to worship without harassment.
Though horrifying, the carnage in Iraq is dwarfed by that of Sudan, where the Islamic Government has been responsible for killing two million Christian and other non-Muslim civilians since 1989.
Christians in Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan, among other countries, live in regular fear of attack, and there is strong evidence that the attitudes underlying such aggression are fomented through official channels. In a recent letter to Kofi Annan, campaigners for the charity Christian Solidarity International wrote that “the role of the Saudi-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference, representing 57 Muslim states, in creating a climate for violent confrontation is a cause of deep concern”.
The reason we hear so little about religious oppression in the Muslim world is straightforward: young Christians in the West don’t become “radicalised”, and persecuted Christians tend not to respond with violence. That should make them more worthy of attention and support, not less.