The mark shown above is a 'Nun', the Arabic letter 'N'. In northern Iraq and Syria these days, it is being spray-painted on the houses of Christians ('Nazarenes' as they are known among Muslims) by radical Islamist thugs, to mark the house as a 'Nazarene' house. When the spray-painted 'Nun' appears, it announces to the occupants of the house a four-fold decision, effective immediately:
1) Convert to Islam, or
2) Pay the dhimma*, and submit to dhimmi-tude, or
3) Leave, without your possessions (which now belong to Islam), or
*The dhimma is essentially an 'infidel tax', designed to maintain the infidels in economic subjugation. Dhimmis (those who pay the tax) essentially accept second-class citizenship. They may not offend the eyes of pious Muslims by displaying any infidel religious symbols (eg, wearing a cross, or a nun's habit, or priestly vestments, or displaying a cross on a church building); neither may they build new churches, or repair old ones.
The very ancient Christian population of Iraq and Syria, which dates back to the early beginnings of Christianity (and pre-dates Islam by several centuries), is essentially being eradicated, as you read this.
The response of the rest of the world has barely been more than chirping crickets, and I can't begin to fathom why.
Is it because the 'victims' are Christian, and in the secular West, we think of Christians as the killjoys of the Sexual Revolution? Or because, when we hear 'Christian', we think of obnoxious southern-accented TV evangelists, or the weird family with 20 kids?
Or is it because the thugs in question are Muslim, and we fear their irrational wrath? Or because, somehow or other, we're stuck in a stereotype of Christians as 'oppressors' and Muslims as 'oppressed', and so, finally, the Christians are getting a little come-uppance (and about damn time)?
Or, do we tell ourselves that this is a 'religious problem', and therefore out-of-bounds for a secular state?
I really, really don't understand that Western governments (our own included) won't even issue impotent 'statements of condemnation', much less initiate any humanitarian measures on behalf of the Nazarene refugees. And Western media will discuss the political and 'warfare' aspects of the dispute, but not the 'religious cleansing' aspects.
What in the world is going on?
By myself, I'm at a loss as to what I, as an individual, can do, concretely, to help my brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. Anything I can do, like displaying the 'Nun' at the top of my blog as a sign of my solidarity with them, seems utterly 'token' and impotent.
But I do stand with them. And, if I can do nothing else, I want them to know that. I, too, am a Nazarene.
And, I will pray. Partly because, even if I figure out how to do all manner of humanitarian good, but don't pray, I'm kind-of missing the point. I will pray that God (Allah, as even Arabic Christians call Him), who sees every sparrow that falls from its nest, will watch over them and protect them, and deliver them from evil, and stay the hand of the evil-doer, and grant them His peace.