When it comes to denouncing Christian persecution in the modern world, the Irish government speaks in whispers. This is all the more upsetting when you consider how radical and how vocal it is willing to be when it comes to a range of other issues linked to human right violations.
Recently, our entire national discourse and media focus has centred on highlighting the appalling and brutal death of George Floyd in the United States.
It is only right that we condemn such acts of brutality. All lives matter.
But it is also right and important that we are consistent in our approach to human rights violations.
The Taoiseach spoke earlier this week about the absence of ‘moral leadership’ within the United States following Mr Floyds death.
But where is his ‘moral leadership’ when it comes to denouncing in equally strident and provocative terms the unrelenting butchery that is afflicting the Christian population in the wider Middle East, for instance?
Just last year, a report ordered by then UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, found that “the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.”
At the time of the Report, Mr Hunt said he felt that “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted.”
Many people, and certainly many Christians in this state also believe that the presence of a suffocating political correctness is also at play here when it comes to us being more vocal about Christian persecution.
Or what about the ‘moral leadership’ of our government when it comes to the vexed issue of confronting China about its persecution of Christians?
A recent report from the Christian non-profit organisation Voice of the Martyrs, found religious minorities including Christians are still facing “intense struggles against the Chinese Communist Party.”
Indeed, “reports have surfaced of crosses being torn down and churches destroyed in a crackdown against the Christian community within the country.”
Unless I missed it, I did not hear our Taoiseach express his outrage at these acts of persecution to the Chinese Communist Party.
What is worse however is that on Sunday it was being reported by Christian Solidarity Worldwide that a 3 year old Christian child and nine others died in north-western Nigeria’s Kaduna State in an early morning attack on a Christian village carried out by armed Muslim herdsmen of Fulani origin.
CSW go on to note that the girl, identified as Elizabeth Samaila, suffered multiple machete lacerations to the head.
This is the latest act of pure barbarity to have been visited upon the various Christian populations of Nigeria.
Will the Taoiseach call in the Nigerian Ambassador and express the horror and outrage of the Irish people at these acts of brutality? We will wait and see.
The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, has previously indicated that Ireland’s slowness to speak up is based on requests from “local Christian and other minority representatives. ”
It was the case he said that “explicit messages of support from western countries only expose them further to the (unjust) accusation that their communities are somehow legacies of or agents for western intervention in the region.”
This is just not good enough nor is it very coherent.
In fact, we know from prominent and respected international organisations like Open Doors that Christian communities who suffer persecution have repeatedly begged the western states for assistance and intervention.
Take the case of the Nigerian 3 year old I just mentioned. The ‘official’ response of many states including our own is to say that these are internal ‘conflicts’ and must be dealt with sensitively.
But as Professor Chidi Odinkalu, who disputed the characterisation of events in southern Kaduna state as a conflict has said:
“What kind of ‘conflict’ is it that hacks children to death when they are sleeping? This laziness of language has to stop.”
I could not agree more.
It is time the Irish government found its voice and stop speaking in whispers about atrocities that deserve a roar of righteous indignation.