Sometimes it takes a David to defeat a Goliath – or, in this case, unassuming nuns to speak where the media remain silent.
Speaking out for Christians persecuted in the Middle East, Mother Olga Yaqob and Sister Hatune Dogan slammed the American media for keeping silent. The nuns spoke with MRC during the In Defense of Christians (IDC) Inaugural Summit in Washington, D.C. Sept. 9-11. Both told the stories journalists ignore: of refugees displaced and Christian girls “repeatedly raped” and “misused” – some as young as 5-years-old.
Mother Olga of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, an Iraqi native recognized by the Iraqi government for her care of the poor, recently established a religious order in Boston. Raised in Germany after fleeing from Turkey, Sister Hatune Dogan, is an Orthodox Christian nun who aids Christians in Syria and Turkey through her organization, “A Helping Hand to the Poor.”
Addressing the American coverage of Christian persecution in the Middle East, Mother Olga stressed, “In the early months, there wasn’t much coverage.” “Some of the Christian networks – media networks – were covering [the persecution]. But not very much the secular media.” Continued after video.
Sister Hatune expressed similar dismay. “The media make a mistake,” she began, “Because they don’t say the truth.” She criticized, “But the media has big duty to tell the truth, to make Americans see what is really going on.” Continued after video.
That truth, she explained, consists of “slaughtering, raping, kidnapping, taking ransom, killing, crucifying, and ridding the Christians of what they need.”
As one of her “thousands of stories” of Christian persecution, Sister Hatune began:
“I met an Iraqi girl, five-and-a-half-years maybe, and they kidnapped her. I met her at seven-and-a-half-years. Until today, she [will not] say, no one knows, what happened to her, because she was misused. They [were] paid $30,000 dollars to release her. They released her, but under that condition. I am sorry for her. That was the youngest girl that I met. She was misused.”
Sister Hatune also told of meeting a 21-year-old Christian girl from Jordan. Once a captive, her abductors “every day” “were raping her all night.” When they weren’t satisfied with her ransom money, they “cut her face in different ways.”
Another time, Sister Hatune met 280 girls. She described how they were “misused” by their kidnappers, some of whom “cut breasts and other [sensitive areas].” “I saw them with my own eyes,” she emphasized.
Those are the stories the media should report – the “human face of this tragic reality,” as Mother Olga described.
Mother Olga compared the news coverage of Christian persecution to the coverage of NFL player Ray Rice’s abuse scandal. “I know he’s probably a famous player, and this [football] team, it’s a big, big issue in America, but this is a personal life of two people.” While, at the same time, she continued, “200,000 people are displaced” and “people are dying from hunger” in the Middle East.
“It’s just like I try to put in perspective these kind of things,” she explained. “I’m just surprised how much sometime our secular media they cover some things over and over and they miss such a big picture.”
Raised in Kirkuk, Iraq, Mother Olga had some stories of her own. “My old parish, and other parishes, and my sisters’ home and lot of church communities there and houses,” she said, are “full of refugees from Nineveh region, from Mosul.” The locals, “are cooking meals every day, and bringing mattresses and pillows.” “It’s too big of a reality,” she concluded.
She called for “raising awareness” in the States. “People are just frustrated with our own politics here,” she acknowledged, “so we don’t have time to worry about the foreign policies.” But, she added, “If we don’t stop this, this is dangerous for the whole Middle Eastern region.”
“Now it’s Iraq, but if we don’t stop it, it will impact the whole Middle Eastern region, and it will impact us in the West,” she continued.
She offered an additional warning on the silence of Christian persecution:
“Only recently, after, unfortunately, the tragedy of beheading two of our American journalists we realize now how many we have foreigners who are, whether American, Canadian, Australian, British, who have joined ISIS. And they have access to come back to the Western countries, and so, if they have such a radical mentality, and this is what they’re doing in the Middle East, do we think we will be safe here?”
Sister Hatune similarly concluded, “The media have to condemn this, and to be a witness, and to tell the truth.”
“What is going on here?” she asked at one point. “We are human beings.”
Instead, the networks prefer royal baby anticipation to things like Iraqi Christians given one week to “leave, convert to Islam or face the sword” or videos of Iraqis desperately escaping ISIS terror.
For Mother Olga's full interview, please click here.
— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.