Fr Ragheed Ganni, 1972-2007

Fr Ragheed Ganni, 1972-2007

Ten years ago today four men and a woman were leaving the Holy Spirit Church in Mosul after Sunday evening Divine Liturgy when they were approached by a group armed with guns. Fr Ragheed Ganni, a 35-year-old Chaldean Catholic priest  who had just celebrated Mass, had recently been warned by Islamists to close the church or face the consequence, and the atmosphere in Iraq’s second city had become intense that year as the country’s sectarian violence escalated. Fr Ganni was… Read on

Blair isn’t a liar, he’s a genuine believer – which made him so dangerous

At the Spectator: Blair got a lot of criticism for his religion while in office, ironicconsidering he has helped to destroy one of the oldest Christian communities on earth. But except in fundamentalists, faith is compartmentalised in most peoples’ minds; more influential is Christianity’s secular heresy, progressivism, whose believers have inherited the Christian traditions of equality, universalism, individualism, ensoulment (which probably informs the trans debate), free will and eschatology (‘the right side of history’), but without any of… Read on

There’s nothing ‘conservative’ about supporting foreign intervention

me in Spectator Coffee House: I supported the Iraq invasion in 2003, by about 75/25, but I didn’t write about politics at the time and so never expressed any public opinion; I was from that generation that had watched helplessly as Africans starved in the 1980s and, following Bosnia and Kosovo, neo-colonialism in the name of liberalism and justice seemed like a good idea at the time. Iraq was a disaster, and for fairly conservative reasons. One of… Read on

The Church v the Family

From the print edition of The Catholic Herald, August 15, 2014 A month ago I read an inspiring obituary of a 93-year-old woman called Freydis Sharland, a pioneer who flew Hurricanes and Spitfires in the war. After 1945 she had continued her extraordinary career, on one occasion taking a 430mph Hawker Tempest V on a 4,000 mile flight to Karachi, where she was denied entrance to the officer’s club on account of her sex. A remarkable individual, but… Read on

‘I had never been in prison in Iraq’: Iraqi Christian refugees in Britain

This is a longer version of an article that appeared in The Spectator in February 2013 It was after his second death threat that Wissam Shamouy decided to leave home. An Assyrian Orthodox Christian from Bakhdida in Iraq’s highly volatile Nineveh province, the 25-year-old was working part-time in a church-run internet café, while studying at engineering college, when he was told of what awaited him. “I got some messages, they told me I was going to be killed because of… Read on

Iraq: the Yazidis, Jews and Christians, and the origin of ‘genocide’

Iraq: the Yazidis, Jews and Christians, and the origin of ‘genocide’

This is an extract from The Silence of Our Friends: the Extinction of Christianity in the Middle East  The first Iraqi contact with Christianity came very early. Within Mesopotamia was a small vassal state called Osrhoene, its capital at Edessa, modern-day Turkey, the population of which was largely Aramaean. Legend has it that the incurably ill Abgar V, King of Osrhoene, heard of Jesus and wrote a letter offering to let him stay in the country, as he… Read on

The 21st century’s ignored tragedy: endangered minorities

If you thought Europe’s demography was sluggish, spare a thought for India’s Parsis, declining at such a rate that the government is allocating money for fertility clinics. The Parsis are Zoroastrians who originally came from Persia to India to escape Islamic rule, and have often punched above their weight in commerce. The British, in particular, favoured them and they came to be especially dominant in education, banking and industry, and under the Raj they also expanded around… Read on

Britain must help Christians in peril in the Middle East

This week’s issue of the Spectator is very important and worth buying – i.e. I’m in it, arguing that Britain should take action to alleviate the suffering of Iraq’s Christians, if necessary by offering sanctuary. I met with three Iraqis who have been refused asylum in this country, all of whom had been threatened by Islamists back home. One had lost his shop to jihadi violence, another a brother. The Home Office wants to deport them back… Read on

Iraq’s Christian exodus

Iraq’s Christian exodus

The Arabs once had a saying about the British: ‘Better to be their enemy, for that way they will try to buy you; for if you are their friend, they will most certainly sell you.’ For Iraq’s Christians it has proved to be sage advice. It is a lesson learned by a 25-year-old engineering student Wissam Shamouy, an Assyrian Orthodox Christian from Bakhdida in Nineveh province, who fled after jihadis gave him a second warning: leave or die. Shamouy’s mother… Read on

Whatever happened to neoconservatism?

Whatever happened to neoconservatism?

In yesterday’s Observer Nick Cohen made an admirably un-crowd-pleasing call for intervention in Syria, citing my colleague Michael Weiss’s proposal for helping opposition forces in that country. He wrote: Intervention to stop a regional war carries vast risks. But we should be honest about the consequences of acquiescing to Assad. A failed state and nest for terrorism will sit on the edge of the Mediterranean. Foreign mercenaries and Alawite paramilitaries will continue to massacre a largely defenceless population and the… Read on