Obama administration blasted for silence on Middle East persecution
U.S. President Barack Obama is coming under fire from political and religious conservatives who accuse him of neglecting the plight of persecuted Christians, especially those under duress in the Middle East.
The recent complaints concern what they say is Obama's silence regarding the ongoing detention of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini by Iranian authorities and the persecution of Christians in Egypt and Syria.
Some of those concerns have also been aimed at media coverage.
Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the charitable organization Samaritan's Purse, told Fox News in late July that Abedini's wife was troubled by the lack of support from Obama and the U.S. government.
"She's discouraged by the fact that our own government seems to have abandoned them," Graham said. "President Obama has been silent on the issue as an American Christian endures the horrors of Evin Prison."
Saeed Abedini has languished in the Teheran jail for more than 300 days. The Iranian government arrested him last year saying he was a threat to national security.
Abedini's family and Graham dispute this claim, noting that Abedini was working with orphans at the time. They say the pastor was imprisoned because he is a Christian.
Graham noted that many in the international community were expressing outrage over what he called "this blatant example of religious intolerance" and called on the U.S. government to do the same.
Since Graham's remarks, Abedini's health has made a turn for the worst, according to the Christian Post.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini's wife Nagmeh, said on Monday that the pastor was suffering from intense pain and internal bleeding as a result of beatings in prison.
Tim Tollison of BizPac Review compared Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recently expressed alarm about the persecution of Christians in a meeting with Orthodox leaders.
"To borrow from the musical group The Kinks, you know 'it's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world' when Russian president Vladimir Putin becomes the leading voice for stopping the violent persecutions against Christians while the president of the United States stands silent," wrote Tollison.
"Christians in Syria have suffered greatly amid a deadly civil war there, as have Coptic Christians in Egypt while under Muslim Brotherhood rule.
"There has also been a rapid decline of Iraq's Christian population since 2003. All of which has largely been ignored by the Obama administration."
Orthodox Writer Ralph H. Sidway, writing on the site of anti-Islamist author Raymond Ibrahim, went further, complaining that members of the Obama administration were advocates of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"The Copts (joined by pro-secular forces) in Egypt have utterly rejected Obama and U.S. Ambassador Patterson due to their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, with an unprecedented grass roots movement now calling for the removal of Patterson," he said.
"Even more dramatically, in the July 26 demonstrations in support of the Egyptian military, protesters called not only for the exit of Obama and the United States, but for a re-alignment with Russia."
Ibrahim wrote in the National Review Online on August 14, "While Western media, following the lead of pro-Brotherhood Al Jazeera, continue demonizing the Egyptian military's attempts to neutralize the Muslim Brotherhood terror bases – where people have been tortured, raped, and killed, all according to Islamist fatwas...the media portray them as 'sit ins' where Islamists are 'holding vigil' only to be slaughtered by the military - the Western media has been incredibly silent about the terrors being visited on Egypt's Coptic Christians, the nation's original inhabitants, by the very same people in the 'sit ins.'"
Michael Goldblatt, chairman of the board of directors of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), noted last week that his organization in the past has criticized what he called "the appalling veil of silence that hangs over the increasing persecution and flight of historic Christian communities in the Middle East in the face of assault, violence, threat and intimidation by radical Muslims.
"The ZOA…strongly believes that justice calls for action to pressure Middle Eastern governments to desist from the persecution of Christians and other minorities and that increased public awareness will assist the cause of stronger action by governments, including the U.S.," he said.
Other groups have complained in the last few years that the U.S. government has remained quiet over the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
For example, Voice of the Martyrs questioned the policies of the Obama administration on its blog in May, 2011.
"Recently, President Obama has decided that he is going to reach out to the Muslim world again," said VOM. "But there are many wondering if he plans on condemning the radical Islamic terrorism towards Christians in the Middle East."