PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas likes to pose as Christianity’s protector. According to his oft-repeated assertions, both Christianity and Islam are endangered by the Jews of Israel and both are united in the need to ward off said threat.
This is the mendacity he brazenly elaborated upon during Pope Francis’s visit to Bethlehem, beneath a huge rendition of the nativity scene which showed baby Jesus swaddled in a Fatah keffiya, bereft of any Jewish connections but connected bogusly to Islam.
The Pope saw fit not to comment on any of Abbas’s insolent distortions. But Abbas’s duplicity is underscored by his deafening silence on the Meriam Ibrahim case.
She was sentenced in Khartoum to hang for apostasy and to be flogged for adultery. This instance of indisputable and indefensible Islamic religious persecution of a Christian appeared not to have reached Ramallah and the base of its jihadist partner in Gaza.
But Abbas can’t have it both ways – either he champions religious freedom or he doesn’t.
Indeed, much as another outrage by despot Omar al-Bashir’s Sudanese theocracy is unsurprising, we should be appalled by the apparent equanimity with which it was greeted in the entire Arab world – not just in Abbas’s own bailiwick. If anything, the failure by Christianity’s self-professed defender to so much as utter a single syllable of protest against Ibrahim’s unconscionable torment under an Islamic regime – in this very region – gives the lie to all of the PA figurehead’s seemingly pious pontifications.
Ibrahim was arrested last August – along with her son Martin, now 20-months-old. Her second child, a daughter, was born in prison last week, with Ibrahim bound and shackled all during labor.
Her crime is refusing to renounce Christianity and refusing to “return to Islam.” She is accused of having presumably betrayed Islam by converting to Christianity, this despite the fact that she was raised an Orthodox Christian by her mother and barely knew her absentee Muslim father.
Having wed biochemist Daniel Wani, a Christian (and a wheelchair-bound muscular dystrophy sufferer), Ibrahim incurred more wrath. The Sudanese authorities would not recognize the marriage. The court decreed that Ibrahim’s relations with her husband were “unlawful” and amounted to adultery, for which it sentenced her to 100 lashes (which themselves could kill). These are to be administered prior to hanging.
Yet despite her misfortune, Ibrahim still has a chance. She is good-looking, personable, well-educated (a doctor) and, most of all, her husband is a naturalized American.
Her distress raised enough of a ruckus internationally to elicit mixed signals from the Sudanese government some of which suggested that Ibrahim might be released. This however is unsubstantiated and doubted by the family.
We have no way of knowing how many less literate Sudanese, with fewer influential foreign links, don’t draw attention to similar travails. Nobody hears of them. Omar al-Bashir, after all, is a wanted war criminal for the mass-slaughter he instigated in the Darfur (about which Abbas and the Arab world had also kept conveniently mum).
Sad as it is to say so, against the backdrop of atrocious intolerance in the Arab/Muslim world, Meriam Ibrahim’s nightmare is only one of many unthinkable tragedies. The outright barbarity meted out to her isn’t unusual under Muslim rule, although citizens of liberal democracies like Israel tend to assume that fanatic bigotry is universally scorned and has no place in today’s world. We perceive religious freedom as an absolutely elementary human right.
Yet this is not how the enemies of our forward-thinking values perceive things. Moreover, what all too many of them learn from the West’s multiculturalism is how to exploit western credulity for the most anti-multicultural ends. And thus Abbas expediently adopts the guise of a magnanimous guardian of Christianity against Jewish predations, in preposterous perversion of the most basic truths of both the past and the present.
The democracies of the world are well-aware of Israel’s ultra-progressive record and enlightened system of beliefs. Nonetheless, for a dubious combination of ancient bias, latter-day realpolitik considerations and skewed political correctness, no democracy challenges Abbas’s falsehoods nor comes to the Jewish state’s defense.