In the last 30 years, more mosques and Muslim prayer centers have been built in France than all the Catholic churches built in the last century.
The Church of Santa Rita used to stand in the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris. A few weeks after Father Hamel was murdered by Islamic terrorists, the French police cleared the church. It is now a parking lot. Police dragged the priests out by their legs as a Mass was being celebrated.
In France there are laws protecting old trees. But the state is free to flatten old Christian churches. The vacuums created in the French landscape are already being filled by the booming mosques. Cowardly French authorities would never treat Islam as they are now treating Christianity.
“France is not a random space… fifteen centuries of history and geography determined its personality. Inscribed in the depths of our landscape, the churches, the cathedrals and other places of pilgrimage give meaning and form to our patriotism. Let us demand our civil authorities to respect it”. Two years ago, the French journalist Denis Tillinac promoted this appeal, signed by dozens of French personalities, after some French imams requested the conversion of abandoned churches into mosques.
A year later, terrorists who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State assaulted the Catholic parishioners in the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, murdering an elderly priest, Father Jacques Hamel, at the foot of the altar. An outpouring of great emotion followed the most serious attack on a Christian symbol in Europe since the Second World War.
After that attack, the French authorities prevented many Islamist plots against the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Last June, police shot a Muslim man outside the cathedral after he tried to attack them with a hammer. Another terror cell of French women, guided by Islamic State commanders in Syria, had previously been foiled before they could attack Notre Dame. France’s most famous Catholic house of worship is a prime target for the jihadists. A t the same time, France has been dismissing the religious and cultural heritage of France’s Catholic patrimony, which, in a time of religious clashes and revival, should instead be protected as treasures and sources of strength.
Last month, around the time of the first anniversary of the murder of Father Hamel, a wrecking crew demolished the famed Chapel of Saint Martin in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, built in 1880-1886 and deconsecrated in 2015. A parking lot will replace the old Christian building. Photographs and videos posted on social networks, in scenes reminiscent of ISIS’ vandalism of churches in Mosul, show the cross being ripped from the church and the church destroyed. A few days earlier, in Rouen, not far from where Father Hamel had been killed, the local authorities ordered the destruction of the Saint-Nicaise Church’s presbytery, for “safety reasons”.
The Chapel of Saint Martin in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, France, pictured shortly before it was demolished on July 17, 2017. (Image source: Simon de l’Ouest/Wikimedia Commons)
In 1907, the French state appropriated all church property, and now an increasing numbers of local authorities are deciding they cannot or will not renovate their churches. French mayors call this process “deconstruction”.
The year of Father Hamel’s martyrdom, France was very busy demolishing churches. The Patrimoine-en-blog website, a platform providing a regular inventory of demolished churches, reports seven demolished churches in France in 2016 alone, and two in the first half of 2017. Along with these destroyed Christian buildings, 26 churches were put up for sale in 2016, and 12 churches were listed for sale in 2015. In 2017, many churches were converted to offices, apartments, “entertainment centers”, gyms and art galleries.
The picture is not promising for French Catholicism:
“Over the past two years, Christian associations have sold nearly 40 churches throughout the country, at prices ranging from 100,000 to 400,000 euros. Twenty-seven other churches have been demolished. According to the Catholic Church, more than 1,000 churches are to be sold or demolished throughout France”.
According to a report from the Observatory of Religious Heritage, presented at the French Senate, France could lose “5,000 to 10,000 religious buildings by 2030”. Every year, 20 churchesare sold and converted in France. The art historian Didier Rykner, who runs La Tribune de l’Art, said that “not since the Second World War have we seen churches reduced to rubble”.
These authorities and mayors, so lenient when it comes to presenting economic reasons for destroying churches, are always generous when it comes to mosques. “Nearly 2,400 mosques today, compared to 1,500 in 2003, is the most visible sign of the rapid growth of Islam in France, a consequence of a population of immigrant origin and the process of strong re-Islamization”, noted an report by the magazine Valeurs Actuelles.
When it comes to Islam, neutrality is abandoned. For example, “the municipality of Évreux voted for the provision of 5000 square-meters of land, for one symbolic euro, for the project of the Union of the Muslim Faith”. The author and journalist Élisabeth Schemla detailed how French mayors have become “builders of mosques”. This is how, in the last 30 years, more mosques and Muslim prayer centers have been built in France than all the Catholic churches built in the last century.
The Church of Santa Rita used to stand in the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris. A few weeks after Father Hamel was assassinated by the Islamic terrorists, the French police cleared the church. It is now a parking lot. Police dragged out the priests by their legs as a Mass was being celebrated. “When France is moved by the martyrdom of Jacques Hamel and [then Prime Minister] Manuel Valls speaks of financing mosques and training imams, we do not understand that churches are abandoned to their sad fate and demolished”, Eloise Lenesley wrote at the time in Le Figaro.
In France, there are laws protecting old trees from indiscriminate cutting. But the state is free to flatten old Christian churches. The vacuums created in the French landscape are already being filled by the booming mosques.
Cowardly French authorities would never treat Islam as they are now treating Christianity. Marine Le Pen pointedly asked: “What if we built parking lots on top of Salafist mosques, instead of our churches?”
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.