The Chaldean Patriarchate Church of Baghdad had served as a bomb shelter during the bombardment of Baghdad during the American invasion in March 2003.
It was protected by Muslims, Christians and all from looting during the war. Sunday, that church and three other minority churches were bombed within an hour in Baghdad killing 11 and injuring 52 parishioners. The insurgents, leaving the fingerprints of al-Qaida in their methods, struck again this time right before mass in multiple churches invoking their same old barbaric and evil tool of random terror against innocent civilians while igniting the flames of religious intolerance.
The insurgents in their recurrent thuggery seek only to create chaos and enrage all to defeat secular freedom. Random terror from kidnappings to beheadings to suicide bombings, the latest attempt to strike the Iraqi minority Christian faith in their sacred halls of worship is transparently evil and motivated only by cold-blooded murder while stoking the flames of hate.
As coalition forces try to maintain law and order in a newly free and governmentally infantile Iraq, each of these acts of terror is but a grizzly test. The insurgents may choose to attack and segregate faiths. They may also do so with evil fabricated exploitation of the Islamic faith. But our resolve in Iraq is the truest testimony to all peoples of secular freedom that we can continue to douse our own flames of disgust that they seek to enrage. Otherwise we are on the way to satisfying their intentions in their attacks. Our forces will certainly find these evil criminals and bring them to justice for not only murder but for religious hate crimes which run against the core of Islam and the shared Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic.
Every day, Iraq is slowly getting closer to establishing a secular Arab nation based upon religious freedom with a majority Muslim population. Meanwhile, the dying breed of radical Islamists are doing everything they can to enrage the fanatical elements in Iraq and abroad. We must defeat them militarily while in no way giving them that rage and that global fractionation across lines of religion which they are so desperately seeking. We must unite in resolve to maintain our American and first world principles of religious tolerance and acceptance of the universal truths of all faiths which we accept as guiding principles of our global humanitarian ethic.
The time, however, is also now for Arab and Islamic leaders to make it clear that the series of suicide bombings last week across Iraq and in Uzbekistan are an anathema to the Islamic faith. The time is now for Arab and Islamic leaders from Iraq to Saudi Arabia to Sudan to America to go beyond condemnation and in a concerted effort backed by a genuine and tangible support of secular freedoms make it clear that in Islam religious minorities have the same protections and rights to worship as that embodied in the U.S Constitution.
To hear this from despotic Arab regimes in power today may be a pipe dream. But at the very least the voices of freedom in the Middle East and into the west need to be augmented. Our administration must raise the temperature of public discourse with Arab and Muslim leaders across the globe in order to hear an articulation of religious tolerance and a tangible condemnation of religious hate and terror by the majority of Muslims in order to appropriately marginalize these fanatics. The time is now to expect Arab and Muslim leaders to express their collective revulsion at the targeting of any religious minority by so-called Muslims. Now they must lead the charge to finally begin to put an end to systems of governance which create religious hate and bigotry while encouraging terror.
That is the stage upon which freedom is being tested in Iraq. As reason prevails and as fanatics are marginalized, this test will ultimately give rise in the heart of the Middle East to the secular tolerant form of Islam long known and practiced by many freedom-loving Muslims who had for so long been relatively silent on the world stage muffled by autocracies and corruption.