Saturday, November 12, 2011

Persecution in Silence

Living in the West, it is so easy to talk about human rights. As champions of democracy and free speech, people are up in arms every time *ANYTHING* is said about discrimination or unfair treatment. Whether it is racial profiling, sex orientation, or treatment of the various age groups, the general public will speak out against any unjust treatment. While the general reactions are predictable, it can only happen when people know about it. If discrimination of undemocratic actions are not reported or under-reported, there will be silence. How can anyone do anything about things that they do not know? For example, the OccupyVancouver movement is part of a movement that has generated a lot of media publicity. When this happens, public eyes scrutinize the words and actions of the authorities, the police, and anyone who speaks about it. When I see the dedications of the protesters and the reactions from the public, on one hand, it is good for these people to stand up for their convictions. On the other hand, when compared to other more gross violations of human rights, it gives us a different perspective of life altogether. It is like complaining about not getting the right kind of mineral water when others have NO water at all.

Christian killed for his faith.
(Photo Credit:
When I read this news today about Somali women suffering in silence, I am really sad. These women have been persecuted by their own communities simply because they choose a different faith. For some of them, because they convert to Christianity, their husbands divorce them. Others suffer physical abuse and violence. Some lose all of their possessions including their children who were snatched away from them. The violence is also against men who become Christians. One story tells about a man whose fingers were chopped off when it was discovered he changed his faith. 

Our Deafening Silence and Selective Protests

I look at the fierce protesters outside the Vancouver Art Gallery vigorously protesting against the 'top 1%' who are profiting at the expense of the other 99%. I ask: "What do you have to say about these Somalian Christians who have lost everything simply because they embrace a different faith? Is that none of your concern?"

I look at the barrage of accusations against religious institutions, where people condemn sexual abuses, ecclesiastical authority, and the negativity toward institutions. I ask: "What about the crimes against believers or people who have a right to believe? Are you going to be silent and only speak up for atheists or secularists?"

I look at the readiness in the media to highlight the political scandals, the ethical problems in the West, where editors, commentators, and writers condemn with the full force of the pen the shortcomings of their own leaders. I ask: "Why are you so relatively quiet when it comes to persecutions of the weak and vulnerable in the other parts of the world?"

I think the accusations of hypocrisy ought to be pointed back at all of us. We are all guilty of being hypocrites at various ways. We are all guilty of overestimating our rights and underplaying our responsibilities. Reflecting on life in the West, I think we must be humble to acknowledge that the peace and lifestyle we have cannot be taken for granted. We need to learn to speak up not just for our own rights in our lands. We need to speak up for all. Christians, do not just speak up for Christians, speak up for all. Secularists, do not just speak up for your cause, speak up for all. Atheists, the same applies apply to all. Our common denominator is being human. Let us speak up for all humans. 

Those who condemn Christians for whatever version of faith they have must also be ready to fight for Christians who are persecuted. Those who criticize the Church as being a place of hypocrites need to look at themselves whether they too are hypocrites in their own lives. Those who speak up for the injustices in the West need to make sure that their fight is not limited to the West, but to other parts of the world. If we scream and shout for our rights to assemble in a public space, why are we silent when Christians in Somalia are deprived of their basic right to believe in a religion?

One of these ways is to publicize the atrocities and the injustice happening not just in our own lands, but in any part of the world. This blog post is one small way to do that. My challenge to anyone in the West, vigorous protesting about injustice in the West, maybe it is time to look at the bigger picture that the world is bigger than the West. There are bigger more pressing issues of poverty, persecution, and disgusting levels of inhumane acts. In other words, when you protest loudly for a small infringement, make sure you protest LOUDER for a large crime. Make your volume of protests fit the 'crime.' When one starts to see that the poverty in other lands is so much more pathetic, one starts to realize that the inconveniences we have in our affluent world are really nothing. 


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