Former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald (1979-1986).
Had the more than 350 men, women and children who were slaughtered in Sri Lanka been victims of a “farright” Westerner, like the Australian who not that long ago went on a murderous rampage in Christchurch, New Zealand, the carnage would have been blamed not only on the perpetrator himself but also on all those who could, no matter how implausibly, be accused of influencing him. Calls for censorship of the social media to prevent “hate speech” from finding an audience would become even harder to resist and spokesmen for the technological giants would be quick to express their willingness to collaborate. But as the killers were Islamic Jihadists and almost all the dead and wounded Christians, the reaction was, shall we say, considerably more nuanced.
With few exceptions, Western politicians, journalists and alleged experts on subjects such as community relations in Sri Lanka proved reluctant to face up to the fact that hundreds of Christians had just been massacred by Islamists. For days, many went on about the civil war that had ended a decade ago, thereby insinuating that the bloodshed must have had something to do with the Tamil Tigers.
Indian newspapers almost immediately gave the names of the perpetrators and described in detail their links with Jihadi gangs, but respectable Western media kept pretending to believe that nothing was really known about them. Their unwillingness to recognise that Jihadists were involved was not surprising. It is now standard practice for them to make out that the ter r o r i s t s who contin u e t o c o m m i t mass murder in the n a me of Islam are not genuine Mus - l i ms but criminals or people with mental pro - blems who do not understand that their creed is essentially peaceful. Unfortunately, this benign approach does nothing to deter the “holy warriors” who take it for evidence that, by striking fear into the hearts of their enemies, they are winning the long war they are waging against the unbelievers.
Even after they found it impossible to deny that what we had just seen was yet another Islamist atrocity, many newspapers devoted far more space to the blunders that had been made by the Sri Lankan security services who failed to heed a warning they had received from foreign intelligence agencies than to the war that is being waged against the rest of the world by Muslim Jihadis.
This was not only because in Europe there are thousands of fire-breathing imams who preach violence on behalf of their faith and just as many journalists and influential community leaders who share their bloodthirsty views, so trying to silence them all, let alone arrest them, would be extremely difficult in law-abiding countries. Neither is it because demands to ban the Quran, which is not exactly a pacifist text, or even – unless you work for the Chinese government – to prohibit the distribution of unrevised editions that have not been purged of incitements to violence, would provoke an uproar among the millions who believe it to be the literal word of God. It is because Western leaders have convinced themselves that if they pretend Islam is a peaceful religion, it will soon become one, but if they recognise that it is a singularly bellicose one – a characteristic which in more robust times won it the admiration of many Europeans and North Americans – they would have to start thinking seriously about what would have to be done to contain it.
Today, Christians who live outside the Western hemisphere and Europe belong to the world’s most fiercely persecuted religious minority. This may seem paradoxical; many of the world’s most powerful countries supposedly remain Christian and, if so inclined, they would be fully capable of defending their fellow-believers elsewhere using economic pressures or, if needed, as it frequently would be, overwhelming military force as was used to save the Bosnian Muslims from the Serbs. But unfortunately for the many Christians who have good reason to fear for their lives, the people who are currently running the show in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin are reluctant to help those sentenced to death on trumped-up charges in Pakistan, are in imminent danger of being massacred by fanatics in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and other countries, including, to the surprise of many experts, Sri Lanka, where until last week it was taken for granted that, since under 10 percent of the population is Muslim, local Jihadists would continue to keep a low profile.
Not that long ago, awareness that Christians had friends who would welcome a chance to come to their aid afforded them a degree of protection, but in recent years it has become increasingly clear that European and North American leaders had little interest in taking sides in what they regarded as the domestic issues of touchy foreign countries. This was in part due to the waning of Christianity in much of the Western world, but also to a now generalised fear of doing anything, no matter how trivial, that might upset members of the rapidly growing Muslim communities. Even mentioning the word “Christian” is well on the way to being made a taboo; when Western dignitaries such as Theresa May and Barack Obama told us how horrifying they found the bloodbath in Sri Lanka, they referred to the victims as “Easter worshippers.”
In a vast region that stretches from Morocco to the South China Sea, Christianity is dying. Before too long, the last remnants of communities that have existed for almost 2,000 years will finally be consigned to oblivion by Islamists determined to wipe them out. This is happening because, in the eyes of their enemies, the Christians are weak, as were the Jews in Eastern and Central Europe until there were so few left that anti-Semites had to content themselves with vandalising old cemeteries.
In the real world, which is a far grimmer place than most people would like to imagine, giving an impression of weakness tends to be fatal. Once it became evident that the Western countries no longer felt responsible for people who shared what in some cases are their official beliefs – Elizabeth II still has Defender or the Faith among her many titles – Christians became fair game. Given the current mood in much of the West, this is not going to change any time soon.