Eastern Christians Torn Asunder
Challenges — new and old.
By Bat Yeor
The dhimmi mentality cannot be easily defined and described. An endless variety of reactions has been provoked by the evolving historical situations in the civilization of dhimmitude, which spans three continents and close to fourteen centuries. Generally speaking, dhimmi populations can be described as oscillating between alienation and submission and, at the other extreme, a self-perception of spiritual freedom.
The basic aspects of the dhimmi mentality are related to characteristics of its status and environment, because dhimmitude operates exclusively within the sphere of jihad. Contrary to common belief, jihad is not limited to holy war conducted militarily; it encompasses all strategies, including peaceful means, aimed at the unification of all religions within Islamic dogma. Further, as a juridical-theological construction, jihad determines all aspects of relations between the Umma — the Islamic community — and non-Muslims. According to the classical interpretation, these are classified in one of three categories: enemies, temporarily reconciled, or subjected. Because neither jihad nor dhimmitude have been critically analyzed, we can say today that the Islamist mentality — currently predominant in many Muslim countries — establishes relations with non-Muslims in the traditional jihad categories of war, truce, and submission/dhimmitude.
In our times dhimmis are found among the residues of indigenous populations of countries that were Islamized during a millenium of Muslim conquests: Christians, Hindus, and a scattering of Jews and Zoroastrians. Christians would seem to be the most familiar group, closer to Westerners by proximity, culture, religion, and subject to the same status under Islam as the Jews, the other ahl al-Khitab, “people of the Book” — the Bible. But this impression is often deceiving as the reassuring appearance of similarity is misleading.
The behavior of Christian dhimmis varies according to the country, the social category, and their association with the ruling classes as, for example, their participation in the Iraqi or Syrian Baath parties or the PLO, a militarist organization engaged in the Arab jihad against Israel. Christian dhimmis appointed to important positions by Muslim rulers have often served as agents between the Arab world and strategic centers in the West: churches, governments, industries, universities, media, etc.
Because Christian dhimmi populations are on the whole highly skilled and better educated than the surrounding population, they often suffer from malicious jealousy coupled with the traditional anti-Christian prejudices of the Umma. The persistence of Christianity in Muslim environments testifies to qualities of endurance and adaptability. Yet survival in dhimmitude had its price: the dhimmi pathology.
Briefly summarized, Christian attitudes can be classified in three categories: active resistance, passive resistance, and collaboration. These three attitudes are manifest within one and the same population, but certain geographical or historical situations favor one or another.
Recent examples of active resistance are noteworthy. The repression of the Christian rebellion against the establishment of sharia in the Sudan in 1983 caused more than two million dead and over four million displaced. Lebanese Christians fought against the Islamization of their country during the civil war that began in 1975. At the dawn of the 20th century, Armenian and Assyrian Christians were punished by genocide for their attempts at independence. In the present day, active Christian resistance against Islamization in Indonesia, Nigeria, and other African countries is manifest in the massacre of Christian civilians, the burning of villages, the flight of populations. Westerners, and especially Europeans, turn a deaf ear to the sufferings of Christians who actively resist Islamization, frequently blaming them for their own misfortunes.
Examples of passive resistance can be found in Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran. Egyptian Christians denounce the violence of which they are victims and strive to protect their dignity, reduce legal and professional discrimination, and secure basic rights such as permission to build or renovate churches. Here again, the West prefers to ignore their dire situation or underplay it with episodic attention. Christians engaged in active or passive resistance exhaust their meager resources in vain efforts to alert their fellow Christians and enlist their help.
Collaborators are recruited among Christians who identify themselves as Arabs. This type of collaboration, which caused endless fratricidal battles over the centuries, has been denounced by dhimmis struggling for centuries against an Islamic domination that progressed with the help of Christians.
Christian collaborationism has taken different forms in the course of history, according to circumstances and political opportunity. It is expressed today in a two-pronged political and theological project. The political project is implemented in a trans-Mediterranean fusion, with the construction of an economic, cultural, political, geographical entity composed of the European Union and Arab and African countries. This policy of association and integration, active in all international forums, works to counterbalance American policy, under cover of a notion of “international legitimacy,” albeit a legitimacy of sanguinary totalitarian Arab dictators.
Collaborationist Christian dhimmis function as the intellectual and economic mechanism of this project because they belong to both worlds. Their role is to invent the idyllic Islamic-Christian past that upholds the political construction of a future Eurabia and to dissimulate the anti-Christian foundations of Islamic doctrine and history.
dhimmi collaboration on the theological level is oriented in two directions: toward Christianity and toward Islam. It finds its most radical expression in the “Palestinian Liberation Theology,” meaning nothing less than the liberation of Christianity from its Jewish matrix. The spiritual center of this theology is the al-Liqa institute in Jerusalem, created in 1983 for the study of the Muslim and Christian heritage in the Holy Land. This strongly politicized institute, sponsored by international Christian organizations, specializes in disseminating anti-Israeli propaganda through its international religious and media channels.
Uniting Marcionist and Gnostic theological currents, this Palestinian theology strips away Jesus’s Jewishness and turns him into a sui generis Arab-Palestinian Jesus, a twin of the Muslim Jesus (Isa). Christianity, thus liberated from its Jewish roots, can be transplanted in Arab-Islamism. This would place Palestine, and not Israel, at the origin of Christianity, making Israelis usurpers of the Islamic-Christian Palestinian homeland. This theory denies the historical continuity between modern Israel and its biblical ancestor, the locus of nascent Christianity.
The theology of Palestinism, integrating all the anti-Jewish themes of replacement theology, is reworked to fit the new Palestinian fashion and addressed to Christians all over the world, inviting them to gather together around an Arab-Palestinian Jesus, symbol of a Palestine crucified by Israel. The theme goes back to the 19th century. However, in those days when the idea of an Arab-Palestinian entity differentiated from the Arab world did not even exist, the unifying role of Palestine was assigned to Arab nationalism.
Palestinist theology shores up the Euro-Arab policy of Christian-Muslim and European-Arab fusion: the modern state of Israel — considered a temporary accident of history — is bypassed and Europe’s Christian origins are anchored in an Islamic-Christian Palestine. Having fulfilled its historical role of uniting the two enemies — Christianity and Islam — opposed to its very existence, Israel can now disappear, sealing the fusion between Europe and the Arabs. The unifying role devolves on Islamic-Christian Palestine; the reconciliation of Islam and Christianity can finally be consummated on the ashes of Israel and its negation. This is why the European Union — and especially France — designates Israeli “injustice” and “occupation” as the unique sources of conflict between Europe and the Arab/Muslim world, and the cause of international, anti-Western Islamist terrorism.
The contribution of dhimmi Christian collaborationism to Islam is even more important. It satisfies three objectives: 1) its propaganda shores up the mythology of past and present peaceful Islamic-Christian coexistence and confirms the perfection of Islam, jihad, and sharia; 2) it promotes the demographic expansion and proselytism of Islamic propaganda in the West; 3) in the theological sphere it eliminates the Jewish Jesus and implants Christianity in the Muslim Jesus, in other words it facilitates the theological Islamization of all Christendom.
According to Islamic dogma, Islam encompasses Judaism and Christianity, both of which are falsified posterior expressions of the first and fundamental religion, which is Islam. All the characters of the Bible, from Adam to Abraham, Moses to David, the Hebrew prophets, Mary, Jesus, and the apostles, were Muslim prophets who preached Islam, and it is only in their quality as Muslims that they are recognized and respected. They belong to the Koran, not to the Bible. From this viewpoint the bond between Judaism and Christianity is a falsification, because the filiation of Christianity is Islamic, not Judaic. Christianity descends from Islam, the first religion of all humanity (din al-fitra). Christianity is a falsified expression of Islam, and belongs to Islam. According to a hadith, when Isa, the Muslim Jesus, returns, he will break the cross, kill the pig, abolish the jizya (poll tax for infidels), and money will flow like water. Exegetes interpret the destruction of symbols attached to Christianity — the cross and the pig — as the extinction of that religion; the suppression of the jizya means that Islam has become the only religion; and the abundance of wealth refers to the booty taken from infidels. In other words the return of the Muslim Jesus could lead to the destruction of Christianity.
The global jihad has made the problems of dhimmitude a worldwide reality. Europe’s creeping dhimmitude, expressed in a refusal even to mention in its proposed constitution the “Judeo-Christian” values of its civilization, is one of the major elements of the current European-American divide.
— Bat Yeor is the author of The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to dhimmitude. Her latest book, Islam and dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, has just been reprinted. A version of this article was first published in French and is translated by Nidra Poller in collaboration with the author.