Yes, We Are the Noon (N) People

Where is America led by President Obama? You, Mr. President, have surrounded yourself with advisors loyal to the International Muslim Brotherhood. You have spent billions of American tax-payer dollars to support them. You spoke strongly on their behalf every time you felt that their rights were in jeopardy. Why can’t we see you offer the same support to the Christians of Mosul?

By Mounir Bishay | August 4, 2014

Noon is the Arabic letter that represents (n) in English. It is the first letter in the Arabic word “Nasrani.” This word was used in reference to Christians in the Quran. The letter, “Noon,” was the mark that “ISIS” painted on the homes of the Christians of Mosul, Iraq. It identified the home and business owners as citizens targeted for expulsion from the city where their Christian ancestors have lived for thousands of years.

ISIS later renamed itself as the “Islamic State.” It invaded the Christian areas and took control. Soon after, they attacked the homes of Christians, their churches, and monasteries. They plundered household valuables and looted and destroyed irreplaceable archaeological treasures. In the end, they issued a statement to the Christians whom they had labeled “Nasrani” that they had only a few hours to make monumental choices. They could flee their homeland with the little that they had left to carry, could convert to Islam and forever pay the discriminatory “Jizya” tribute tax or face instant execution by the sword of Islam.The Christians who had the wherewithal to do so fled Mosul’s city limits by car. At the check point, ISIS searched every vehicle and person and confiscated their money, jewelry and seized their cars. Then they loaded them into trucks and dumped them in the desert region controlled by the Kurds.

To begin with, Christians have an aversion to the “Nasrani” label. It dates back to the degrading name cited in the Quran about a heretical group that is now being wrongly applied to authentic Christians. by the Quran. The error ridden group used to live on the Arabian Peninsula during the advent of Islam. However, followers of Christ were known as Christians there and everywhere since the beginning of Christendom. The Book of Acts says, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26

In response to the degrading use of the letter noon in relation to “Nasrani,” Christians use it differently as a sign of strength.   We carry the Nasrani (N) symbol with pride because we adhere to core values of the Christian faith that start with the letter Noon in Arabic. Examples of would be: “Nohebakom” (we love you); “Nobarekakom” (we bless you); “Nohsen alikom” (we do good to you); and, “Nosaly lakom” (we pray for you).  Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

But, loving our enemy does not equate to acceptance of injustice and does not cancel our legitimate right of self-defense.  However, because the Christians of Mosul were stripped of any means of defending themselves, the responsibility for their defense falls on others.   Those who turn a deaf ear to God-given responsibility will be called to give an account for their actions in the Judgment Day.

The tragic situation of the Christians of Mosul raises several questions that must be answered:

First: Where are the moderate Muslims of Mosul?

Historically, there was a time when the Muslims and Christians of Mosul lived in harmony as neighbors, friends and work colleagues.  They once shared moments of joy and sorrow even though the 1.5 million population of Mosul is mostly Muslim.  How could the moderate Muslims suddenly evaporate from existence at the invasion of terrorists numbering just 6,000 warriors?

The news coming from Mosul is troubling. All too many former neighbors of Christians have shown sad deeper allegiance to invaders that they do not know. They were actually helping the terrorists to coerce Christians into denouncing their Christian faith to embrace Islam. How could they not refuse to betray harmless Christians including the elderly and children by not speaking-up for them against the terrorists’ targeting them for persecution and expulsion? Had moderation suddenly disappeared to the extent that everybody conveniently became ISIS?

Second: Where are the Arab and Islamic countries?

Where are the Arab countries, with a population of about 300 million people? There are reports that wealthy Arabs created and funded this terrorist group. Why do we hear them condemning what is happening to Palestinians in Gaza, while we don’t hear them utter a word condemning what is going on with the Christians of Mosul? Where is the Islamic Conference, which represents the Muslims of the world, who number approximately 1.6 billion? Where is al-Azhar, who represents Moderate Islam? Is it enough to proclaim that ISIS does not represent true Islam, and that Islam is a religion of peace? Where is the peace when we see that the vast majority of the world’s terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims?

What is your response to those who say that ISIS, in fact, represents true Islam?  They say that your “peaceful” brand of Islam has been abrogated and replaced by the harsh Islam of groups such as ISIS. They say that all of peaceful verses of the Quran that came to Mohammed during his weak period in Mecca were abrogated by the verse of the Sword that was revealed to him after his movement gained strength in Medina.

Third, where are the big countries of the West?

Where are the Western countries? Where is the European Union? Where is America led by President Obama? You, Mr. President, have surrounded yourself with advisors loyal to the International Muslim Brotherhood. You have spent billions of American tax-payer dollars to support them. You spoke strongly on their behalf every time you felt that their rights were in jeopardy. Why can’t we see you offer the same support to the Christians of Mosul? Your behavior is inconsistent with American core values. America had always stood by the weak and defended the victimized. This was evident by the USA’s heroic role during Second World War. In that war, America was able to defeat Nazism and save Europe and the world from being overrun by racial and religious cleansing.

You all wasted a valuable opportunity when ISIS was just small groups of warriors scattered in the desert. You could have defeated them with much less effort and weaponry. But, ISIS has now become a State movement that is growing like cancer throughout the Middle East. Make no mistake about it, when they become strong enough, they will try to take over the West. The longer that you wait; the harder and more costly it will become to defeat them. It seems that those in charge in the West have forgotten the lesson learned from Hitler, and those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Fourth: Where is the UN?

Where is that organization and where is its secretary-general? Why did they not hold an emergency session and take swift action? Where is the human rights charter? Where are the international laws, which were signed by all the countries of the world, including Muslim countries? Where is the list of fundamental rights that guarantee all humans the right to live peacefully and practice their faith without fear of persecution? Was all of this just empty talk by UN national representatives who enjoy prestigious position? If we don’t see the United Nations fulfilling a meaningful role today, when will we see it?

Authentic freedom is indivisible. It cannot be enforced as long as there is one human being on the planet who is deprived of his individual human rights. Nor can justice be served as long as there is a brother or sister in humanity who is suffering injustice. What is happening to the Christians of Mosul is a heinous crime against humanity. The criminals are not only the members of ISIS. It is everyone, including you and me, who see what is in progress in Mosul, Iraq and chooses to remain silent.

Mounir Bishay, an Egyptian by birth, is a human rights activist and writer on Coptic (Christians of Egypt) issues. He is the head of the Los Angeles based Christian Copts of California. Mr. Bishay is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.