by Sami Khoury (July 12, 2020)
It has become fashionable to condemn the great men of the past by magnifying some deed or utterance that does not conform to our modern sensibilities. Thus, the beautiful work of art depicting King Louis IX must be toppled and the very name of the city of St. Louis must be expunged according to spokesmen for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis.
They say the statue must be removed because this pious Thirteenth Century king understood his duty as a Christian was to protect his fellow Christians in the Holy Land who were being persecuted as dhimmis by the sultans ad the emirs of that time. Pilgrims to the land of Jesus’ birth were also preyed upon. King Louis IX wanted to right these wrongs and extend the peace of Christian civilization to the strife-torn land where the Prince of Peace once strode. Chivalrous and brave, he participated in the Crusades himself and died in Tunis in 1270. He was canonized in 1297 for his great acts of piety, justice, mercy, and charity toward the poor.
We must remember, that in the Thirteenth Century, Fatah and Crusades, Caliphates and Christian empires were at the core of relations between countries. European Christian kingdoms and Arab Muslim sultanates were clashing over domination of lands. To single out the Christian kingdoms and monarchs and apply modern days principles while absolving the other sovereigns such as Sultans and Caliphs is an act hypocrisy and bias towards Jihadism.
Will CAIR denounce the Caliphs, Sultans, Umayyads, Abbasids, and Mamelukes? Will CAIR denounce the spread of the Caliphate by force, which extended throughout Islamic history down to the present time? Will CAIR defend the Christians of Nigeria who are being slaughtered by the thousands in the name of Islamism today? Or does CAIR only wish to destroy Christian symbols in order to make Americans forget their Christian heritage?
Middle Eastern Christians have witnessed the wanton destruction of churches and synagogues throughout the Middle East since the first Arab conquest in 636. Christians and Jews alike have endured the most brutal oppression in the land of their origin. We cannot be silent while the same destructive impulse we see from ISIS is let loose in America.
We also see a link between the will to destroy the statue of St. Louis by Brotherhood front groups here in the US and the Brotherhood’s push to turn the Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque in Turkey. Both seek to erase our Christian past. We seek to build upon the past, not to politicize or destroy it.
Let the statue of St. Louis remind us of our duty to protect our fellow Christians, be they persecuted in China, the Middle East, Africa or even here in America. Long live the Spirit of St. Louis! Let his statue remain.
Sami Khoury is President of the Maronite Union based in Miami.