Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is being criticized by The New Republic for concern over Christians after Syrian rebels attacked a Syrian Christian village.
In an article titled “Rand Paul’s Syria Bible Thumping: Why does he only seem to care about the country’s Christians?” journalist Julia Ioffe rails, “Paul’s emphasis on Syrian Christians is more than a simple reminder of a neglected aspect of an already complicated situation.”
Ioffe continues, Rand’s concern over Christians in Syria “sounds distinctly like the garbage about America being a Christian nation, like the unnerving evangelical support of Israel, like the not-too-subtle hum on the right that some lives, Christian lives, are simply more important than other, Muslim ones.”
On Wednesday morning, rebels from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group launched the assault on predominantly Christian Maaloula, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Damascus, according to a Syrian government official and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime group, The Associated Press reported.
Maaloula is a mountain village with about 2,000 residents, who are among a tiny group in the region that still speaks a version of Aramaic, the ancient language of biblical times also believed to have been spoken by Jesus.
At the start of the attack, an al-Nusra fighter blew himself up at a regime checkpoint at the entrance to the village, said the Observatory, which collects information from a network of anti-regime activists, AP said.
AP spoke to a nun from the village who chose to remain anonymous. “It’s a war. It has been going from 6 a.m. in the morning,” she said from her convent, which houses 13 nuns and 27 orphans. She said around 80 people from the village had come to the convent for safety.
The nun told AP that rebels commandeered a mountaintop hotel and nearby caves and shelled the community below.
While Ioffe recognized that Paul’s worry “is a legitimate concern — Christians make up some 10 percent of the Syrian population — the only problem is that it seems it’s all he’s talking about.”
Ioffe slammed Paul, saying, “The paramount concern for Rand Paul, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is not the question of chemical weapon use, or the 100,000 dead, but the Christians.”
The piece concludes with Ioffe tenuously tying comments left on a Matt Drudge Facebook post to a “rich vein” of religious extremism in the U.S., adding that Paul’s concern for Arab Christians ”sounds distinctly like the garbage about America being a Christian nation.”