Pat Robertson Gaga for Gbagbo

As Justin Elliott reported last week, and Media Matters continues to track, American Christian right figures are supporting Laurent Gbagbo, who is violently clinging to power in Cote D’Ivoire, despite losing the presidential election there in November 2010. Elliott’s piece, very much worth reading, focuses on the role of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a prominent member of the Family, and Media Matters is documenting Pat Robertson’s continued on-air support for Gbagbo.

Human Rights Watch, which has also called upon the internationally recognized winner of the presidential election, Alassane Ouattara, to reign in forces under his control, has documented possible war crimes by Gbagbo and his militias against Ouattara supporters. While HRW documented evidence of extrajudicial executions and other abuses by Ouattara forces:

The vast majority of abuses documented by Human Rights Watch were perpetrated by forces loyal to Gbagbo against real or perceived Ouattara supporters, notably members of political parties allied to Ouattara, as well as West African immigrants and Muslims. The documented abuses include targeted killings, enforced disappearances, politically motivated rapes, and unlawful use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators. These abuses, committed over a four-month period by security forces under the control of Gbagbo and militias loyal to him, may rise to the level of crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As you might imagine, the fact that Gbagbo is a Christian and Ouattara is a Muslim plays a key role in Robertson’s ramblings on the matter. His CBN has falsely portrayed the situation in Cote d’Ivoire as one involving voter fraud that deprived Gbagbo, “a nice person” and a “Christian,” of the presidency.

This would not be the first time Robertson has used his airwaves to support a brutal African dictator. As I reported last summer about Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice’s activities in Zimbabwe (where ACLJ also promotes recognition of a “Christian nation”):

The Zimbabwe outpost of the ACLJ isn’t Robertson’s first foray into Africa. Earlier this year, prosecutors in the war crime trial of former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor alleged that the televangelist had lobbied the Bush White House on his behalf in exchange for lucrative gold mining contracts—a claim Robertson denied. And in the late 1990s, Robertson was forced to reimburse his Operation Blessing charity after his pilots divulged that its planes were being used to support Robertson’s personal diamond mining business instead of relief work in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Robertson had befriended Zairian strongman Mobutu Sese Seku and pled on the 700 Club for the United States to lift sanctions on his murderous regime.

Today, Robertson took to the airwaves, as the situation in Cote d’Ivoire spirals into chaos, forces loyal to Ouattara have reportedly seized control of the presidential palace, and UN forces close in, to defend Gbagbo as a “very fine man.” He blamed France, which has intervened militarily, for “want[ing] a piece” of the country’s natural resources, including cocoa, diamonds, and oil. Then Robertson rambled on to the shari’ah scare (and a sad geography fail):

The problem is this is a country that has been run by a Christian that’s going to be into the hands of of Muslims, so it’s one more Muslim nation that’s going to be building up that ring of shari’a law around the Middle East.

Watch:

 

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email