With all the vicious rhetoric issuing from the Middle East against Israel and the Jewish people, we can sometimes forget that we are on the hate list as well. The threat “After we deal with the Saturday people [the Jews], we will deal with the Sunday people [The Christians]” is still current in the Muslim world. Christians are classed along with Jews as “dhimmis” in any Shari’a dominated society; technically, protected peoples under Muslim rule but actually subservient to the whims and vagaries of a violently superior regime.
As with so many things, education of children is a key issue here. If you teach children to respect, or even just to tolerate “the other” in society, then inter-cultural harmony is possible. If, however, children are taught to despise or hate minority groups living among them, they will surely grow up doing so. A recent briefing paper for a House of Lords debate on the situation of Christians in the Middle East gave examples from school textbooks of what children are being taught about both Jews and Christians in Muslim countries. The texts do not give much scope for hope of future peace for Christians living in Muslim Middle East countries.
On first reading, some of the language does not seem too extreme. However, the text has to be considered along with the attitude of those teaching it. There was an example in Egypt last year (2011) of a Christian school boy, who was effectively tortured in front of his class mates by their treacher for refusing to remove a cross from round his neck. What does such an incident say to the other children witnessing it? No surprise then that Christians are massacred by Egypt’s military with the full support of the populace!
You can read the briefing paper here.