Although there were widespread fears of Muslim hostility toward Christians over the American-led war against Iraq, few if any actual cases of such violence or conflict erupted.
During the first two weeks of the war, The National Catholic Reporter (April 11) canvassed Christian and Muslim leaders in zones where relations between the two faiths have been the most tense: Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and the Catholic community of Baghdad. All the leaders confirmed that they were unaware of anti-Christian backlash. “Many reported that Christian-Muslim ties are actually better than ever, forged by common opposition to a conflict they see as an American, rather than a Christian, venture,” writes John L. Allen Jr.
The fear of anti-Christian reprisals was based on precedent, as the war in Afghanistan fueled anti-Christian violence in Pakistan and elsewhere. There were reports of death threats against Christians right before the war commenced, but they never materialized. Allen finds that Pope John Paul II’s opposition to the war was particularly influential in preventing conflict, as well as the Christian-Muslim dialogues that have been ongoing in the past few years.
The lack of anti-Christian reprisals was confirmed by the Center for Religious Freedom, a group paying special attention to the persecution of Christians.