In some parts of the world, Herod’s massacre of the innocents is a living tradition. On Christmas Day in Iraq, 37 people were killed in bomb attacks in Christian districts of Baghdad. Radical Islamists mark – and stain – the season with brutality and intolerance.
The violence, of course, is not restricted by the calendar. In recent months, we’ve seen Coptic Christians gunned down in Cairo and churches burned. Thousands of Syrian Christians have fled to Turkey. “Where we live,” said one refugee, “10 churches have been burned down. … When the local priest was executed, we decided to leave.”
Across North Africa and the greater Middle East, anti-Christian pressure has grown during the last few decades, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. This persecution has gained recent attention from the archbishop of Canterbury and the pope. “We won’t resign ourselves,” says Pope Francis, “to a Middle East without Christians.”
The most passionate advocate has been Prince Charles – an often underestimated, consistently thoughtful figure.