By Elliot Friedland
August 7, 2016
A senior Syrian priest accused Western countries of abandoning their principles and allowing Islamist extremists to massacre Christians in the Middle East because they are blinded by their lust for oil, according to the Christian media outlet Crossmap.
Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch made the remarks to a meeting of the Knights of Columbus in Toronto.
"We have to understand that totalitarianism based on Islamic creed is the worst among all systems of government. Yes, my friends, the very survival of Christians in the cradle of Christianity is quite in danger," the patriarch said.
"Why shall we wonder at the rise of the Islamic State or its new 'Caliphate,' when these 'allied rich countries' - with among the most retrograde systems of government - continue to channel funding and weapons to terrorists spreading hatred and committing barbaric atrocities in the name of a religion?" he asked, referring to Saudi Arabia.
He directly attacked the West's funding of Syrian rebel militia groups saying, "We, the Church pastors, kept warning Westerners who pretended to have the right to interfere in Syria in the name of democracy, that fomenting violence would surely lead to terrible sectarian war because of the complex religious and ethnic diversity in Syria. We knew innocent people, primarily Christians and minorities, would suffer most."
He also blasted Western support of Saudi Arabia, quoting New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof, who said, “For decades, Saudi Arabia has recklessly financed and promoted a harsh and intolerant Wahhabi version of Islam around the world in a way that is, quite predictably, producing terrorists."
"You can't be allied with regimes that discriminate or do not accept the religious freedom of non-Muslims" he asserted. "It's not honest or sincere to be allied to such a regime, and [then] to say we have an annual report about religious freedom."
Saudi Arabia does not allow any non-Muslim to enter the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Churches are forbidden and leaving Islam is punishable by death. Women are not allowed to drive or perform a host of other basic tasks without the permission of their male guardian, their father, husband, brother or occasionally son.
The Patriarch is right to attack the West for supporting regimes that promote Islamist extremism while it attempts to cope with that very same problem. Without directly tackling the Saudi regime, which funds its totalitarian vision of Wahhabist Islam worldwide, measures to address radical Islam will be addressing the symptoms rather than the cause.