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January 2009

Conspiracy of Silence


The recent Mumbai terrorist attack attracted saturation media coverage. Rightly so. A mass slaughter carried out with cold-blooded calculation by a veritable “jihadist infantry,” it unfolded on television like the Twin Towers tragedy: mesmeric, numbing, surreal. Yet the toll was real enough: a couple of hundred dead, hundreds more injured, everywhere carnage and horror.

Technically, the broadcasting was impressive. The commentary, on the other hand, was predictably narrow and self-serving: press pundits and TV talking-heads serving up the usual sanitised fare. To Catholic ears, moreover, their politically correct chatter merely underlined the deafening silence of things unsaid.

Firstly, the religious dimension was stifled: counted out for fear of having to account for it. As ever, the media spoke euphemistically of Islamic “fundamentalists” and “militants,” so as to distance and disconnect the attack from Islam itself.

Ex-Muslim Magdi Allam, deputy editor of Italian daily Corriera della Sera, knows better. Educated by the Salesians and married to a Catholic, he has been under police protection for the past five years following death-threats for his criticism of suicide-bombings. After being received into the Church by Pope Benedict last Easter, the 55-year-old Allam said that his soul had been “liberated from the obscurantism of an ideology which legitimises lies and dissimulation, violent death, which induces both murder and suicide, and blind submission to tyranny.” Instead he had “seen the light” and joined “the authentic religion of Truth, Life and Liberty.”

He added: “I had to do this. Beyond extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent in a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam.”

Later, on 20 October 2008, in the lead up to the Vatican’s hosting of the first Catholic-Muslim Forum, Allam posted a letter to the Pope on his website. Writing with the “deference of a sincere believer” in Christianity and as a “strenuous protagonist, witness and builder of Christian civilization,” he aired his concern for “the serious religious and ethical straying that has infiltrated and spread within the heart of the Church.” He specifically objected to Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, echoing the standard media cop out by telling a conference in August that Islam itself promotes peace but that “‘some believers’ have ‘betrayed their faith’,” using it as a pretext for violence.

“The objective reality, I tell you with all sincerity and animated by a constructive intent, is exactly the opposite of what Cardinal Tauran imagines,” Allam told the Pope. “Islamic extremism and terrorism are the mature fruit” of following “the sayings of the Quran and the thought and action of Mohammed.”

He further stressed that it “is vital for the common good of the Catholic Church, the general interest of Christianity and of Western civilization itself” that the Supreme Pontiff make a pronouncement in “a clear and binding way” on the question of whether Islam is a valid religion. Clearly, this bold proposal would not be countenanced by the present Holy Father, who, for better or worse, beat a strategic retreat down the cul-de-sac of Catholic-Muslim “dialogue” after the 2006 Regensburg fracas. Yet while he, at least, would understand Allam's point, the very notion of such a decisive theological clarification would utterly befuddle the media. Including those rare journalists who defy the party line, like Melanie Phillips who continually warns the British Government and security forces that in the fight against Islamic terrorists “what we are facing is a religious war.”

Sadly, upstanding conservative Jews like Melanie are not as fearless in exposing the pivotal role of godless liberal Jews in the far worse culture war: especially their dominance of the media-entertainment industry orchestrating that relentless assault against Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, as detailed in our February 2008 number. In this regard, the noisy coverage afforded the global ‘war on terror’ only serves to highlight that other pregnant hush: the scant media attention paid to the global persecution of Christians.

These suffer injustice, torment, torture and death on a scale that utterly dwarfs the dreadful suffering inflicted by periodic, indiscriminate Islamic atrocities. Yet how many viewers transfixed by the Mumbai drama, for instance, have ever heard of the heinous persecution of Christians in India? One might have thought that the brutal attacks they endured last year were worth more than fleeting media references, especially with tens of thousands of Christians in the state of Orissa in eastern India driven from their villages, suffering forced conversion by Hindu extremists “under pain of death” and unwilling to return home “because the criminals are still at large and moving about with swords, guns, weapons.”

“As of mid-October 2008,” reports Aid to the Church in Need, “over a hundred people were reported either dead or missing (official Church figures put deaths at around 60) and 25,000 people were living in refugee camps, with a similar number hiding in the jungle; impassioned mobs had destroyed more than 4,400 houses and 151 churches or chapels; and more than 18,000 people were injured. Sister Mina Barua, was publicly gang raped while the centre’s director, Father Thomas, was seriously beaten before being stripped naked and publicly paraded. Petrol was poured over him, and the only reason that his captors did not turn him into a human bonfire is because it began to rain heavily and their matches would not light.”

And if all that was considered barely newsworthy, how about a local bout of genocide? The Catholic Bishops of Orissa have declared that this is all part of “a calculated and pre-planned master plan to wipe out Christianity from Kandhamal district, Orissa, in order to realize the hidden agenda of Sangh Parivar of establishing a Hindu nation”!

“India is providing us with a litany of horrors,” states ACN,  “but the secular media has had comparatively little to say on these matters.” Moreover, it is inconceivable that it would not afford huge coverage to a similar persecution/genocide of Buddhists or Jews or Muslims or animists - anyone but Christians!

Of all the notorious cover-ups perpetrated or sustained by the mainstream media [c.f. CO, Feb. 2008], perhaps their most carefully guarded secret is the fact that Christians are far and away the most persecuted group on earth after the unborn (who, being surgically and chemically aborted in the countless millions each year, are in a genocidal league of their own). The figures involved are so great and the persecution so comprehensive and relentless that only a concerted effort across the board could possibly minimise or marginalise the suffering to the point where the average person remains oblivious to the shocking reality: reflexively associating persecution with Buddhists or indigenous populations or sodomites or any minority afforded official ‘victim’ status.

This virtual media blackout is all the more heinous since the mass oppression and killing of Christians continues to rise. Research conducted by ACN and summarized in its most recent Index of Persecution shows that “in the past two years acts of violence and intimidation against Christians have intensified in 17 out of the 30 countries under investigation.” The Church’s very survival is now under threat in Algeria, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq and Palestine. Yet through all the years of reportage on the Iraq war, how much has been given over to the horrific, systematic  extermination of that ancient local Church? Sporadic mentions of clerical murders and church burnings is about the size of it. Such daily horrors as the forced conversion of Christians by deadly Islamic militias conducting house-to-house searches are largely ignored, along with the consequent and tragic Christian exodus from Iraq. “By the summer of 2008,” reports ACN, “it was estimated that there were 200,000 Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan and Syria plus several thousand more in Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt. The Christian population in Iraq has now plummeted to less than 350,000 [down from about 1 million in 2003]. Many of those remaining in the country have fled north. Reports in June 2008 showed there were up to 50,000 alone in northern Iraq, including the Nineveh plains in the north-west outside Mosul.”

So: Where is the sodomitically-sensitive Western media when it comes to such monumental Christian victimisation? Where is their much vaunted compassion for the underdog and downtrodden? Where is their alleged liberal pursuit of justice and truth?

What a duplicitous disgrace they are. And cruel. “The situation is worsening because it largely escapes media attention,” laments ACN UK national director Neville Kyrke-Smith. “People are aware of an enormous number of human rights abuses throughout the globe, but they are not always aware of the denial of human rights to millions of Christians. We are suffering from a sort of ‘religious correctness’ which means that talking about the persecution of Christians is not acceptable to the secular media today, and sometimes they don’t even believe the facts.”

Well, the fact is that last year, while the media-entertainment industry was decrying “homophobia,” covering terrorist sensations and making their umpteenth movie on the Holocaust, militant Islamist, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish aggression against Christians reached even greater heights of brutality in these countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the level of anti-Christian cruelty remains unchanged under Communist and other totalitarian regimes such as: Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, China, Lebanon, Maldives, Nigeria, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

Considering the magnitude of the oppression, with around 250 million Christians experiencing persecution and hundreds of thousands of them killed for their beliefs each year, the missing reportage is a patent and malicious ruse. It testifies to the truth of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s scathing assessment of the Western media’s corporate uniformity, by which it enforces its warped worldview on a captive audience. “This gives birth to strong mass prejudices,” warned Solzhenitsyn in 1978, and to a perilous “self-deluding interpretation of the state of affairs in the contemporary world that functions as a sort of petrified armour around people’s minds, to such a degree that human voices from seventeen countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it.”

Thirty years on, in far more than seventeen countries, the Christophobic media continues to stifle the cry of long-suffering Christianity. Misrepresenting and mocking papal authority and Catholic moral teaching at every opportunity, it simultaneously turns a blind eye to the global Christian persecution and its heroic victims (mostly Catholics) lest they excite sympathy, admiration and interest. This dual strategy is vital to its prejudicial agenda: fostering an anti-Catholic mindset among the un-churched masses by caricaturing the Church as a reactionary, “homophobic” bully.

For our part, we must counter the monumental humanitarian betrayal involved through a constant prayerful remembrance of our beleagured brothers and sisters in Christ; continually reminding ourselves of the flesh, blood and anguish behind the cold statistics. To this end, we reprint the following report, just as we received it: an urgent, personal account of the high price so many Catholics pay for bearing witness to our holy Faith. Likewise the ensuing summary of Vietnamese suffering. Such acccounts are vital - lest the media conspiracy of silence take its baleful toll on us, too.


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