jizya

Is ISIS a reliable source on its treatment of Christians? Sure, because terrorists don't lie

Is ISIS a reliable source on its treatment of Christians? Sure, because terrorists don't lie

Nod your head affirmatively if you agree that journalists are only as good as their sources, no matter what the story. Seeing nothing but affirmative head bobbing in GetReligion land, I'll now ask my follow up question:

Who or what constitutes an authoritative and trustworthy source?

Does the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) qualify as a trustworthy source in stories about how the terrorist group treats Christians in its self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq?

No way, you say? An absurd proposition? An even worse idea than taking as unquestionable truth the preposterous pandering of a certain presidential candidate (feel free to name your favorite political villain)?

Agreed.

But wait. It seems some international news outlets, western politicians and UN diplomats may not be as careful about this as we're trying to be. That, according to a recent essay in The Spectator, the nearly 200-year-old British news and culture weekly that leans right.

Here's the top of the Spectator piece, penned by Luke de Pulford, a member of the British Conservative Party's human rights commission.

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From the good old days to the hellish ISIS days for Christians in Middle East? Really?

From the good old days to the hellish ISIS days for Christians in Middle East? Really?

At the time of 9/11, I was living in South Florida and attending an Eastern Orthodox parish in which the majority of the members were, by heritage, either Palestinian, Syrian or Lebanese. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time hearing the details of their family stories -- about life in the old country and the forces that pushed them to America.

The key detail: It was never easy living in the Middle East during the Ottoman Empire era, even when times were relatively peaceful. While it was easy to focus on the horrible details of the times of intense persecution, it was important to realize that Christians and those in other religious minorities had learned to accept a second-class status in which they were safe, most of the time, but not truly free.

In other words, the Good Old Days were difficult, but not as difficult as the times of fierce persecution, suffering and death.

Clearly, the rise of the Islamic State has created a new crisis, one that is truly historic in scope -- especially in the Nineveh Plain. The drive to eliminate Christian populations in a region that has been their home since the apostolic era raises all kinds of questions about religious freedom, as well as questions for the USA and other Western states to which these new martyrs will appeal for help.

In recent years, human-rights activists have asked when this phenomenon would receive major attention in elite American newsrooms. The coverage has, in recent years, been on the rise. That said, a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine feature on this topic must be seen as a landmark.
The epic double-decker headline proclaimed:

Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?
ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight.

There is much that I want to praise in this piece. It's a must-read piece for everyone who cares about religion news in the mainstream press.

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