Friday, May 26, 2006

Christians are Leaving the Middle East.

From the web site of Watani, the Egyptian weekly newspaper (

How many Christians are still living in the lands where Christianity was born? The data are random and are often mere ‘political figures.’ The statistics vary from simple to double according to the source; communities or governments. But everywhere, their numbers tend to be declining.

Recently, two warning signals flared-up: Iraq and Egypt. The reasons of the exile of the Christians of Iraq, who are mostly Assyro-Chadian, are obvious: the war and the chaos which followed. The Sunnis who attack the majority Shiites did not forget the Christians. Between 60,000 to 100,000, out of approximately 800,000, have left Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.In Egypt, the Copts, heirs to the very first Christians, are also tempted by the exile. Politically marginalized, and faced with difficulties when they want to build or enlarge a place of worship, they were alarmed by the success of 88 Moslem Brotherhood deputies in the legislative elections of December 2005, and also by the simultaneous attacks against three churches in Alexandria last April. They emigrate from the countryside, not only to the cities, but towards abroad. Beyond the aggressions, the reasons of their departures are complex: the land reform of Nasser and the demographic pressure undoubtedly play important roles.

Everywhere in the Near East, Christians are anxious. “For them, the future is invisible”, says Joseph Yacoub, professor of political science at the institute of the human rights in Lyon. “They live more and more in fear.” Their bitterness is all the more sharp, as many of them assert themselves to be as much Arab as the Moslems. Many have played political roles in Egypt before Nasser, and in the creation of the Pan-Arab parties like Baath, or the Palestinian movements.

Christians often affiliate with the Arab-Moslem nationalism: The Coptic pope Shenouda III prohibited his faithful from going to Jerusalem “as long as all the Moslems and all the Arabs were not able to go.” And Mgr Michel Sabbah, the first Palestinian patriarch in the Holy Land, denounces the Israeli occupation regularly. But they fear that such pledges are not enough any more. Already, under the pressure of Islamists, the Arab governments, including Egypt, have all, except for Lebanon, made references to the Shari’a in their Constitutions as “principal source” of legislation. Joseph Yacoub fears to see the discriminations being further accentuated wherever Islamists take power.


At 2:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dream of the day when a Middle East Christians Agency is formed with the goal of:
1- Creating a Christian Economy in the region and link it with immigrants
2- Encourage and create opportunities for immigrants to go back home
3- Create a database of all the immigrants and have events and activities to keep their identity in preparation to go back to their lands.

At 5:14 PM , Anonymous raif said...

Great ideas, anon.

I think that they are also feasable, either now or in the very near future. What is needed is the will and determination to realise our dreams.

At 6:53 PM , Blogger Faisal said...

You'll have to excuse me but this statement is a bit weird:

"...they were alarmed by the success of 88 Moslem Brotherhood deputies in the legislative elections of December 2005..."

For the sake of argument, let's say that Egypt is 50% Christian. 88 seats are less than 50%, ya3nee they did not infringe on the Christian seats.

It's not that Im an MB supporter, Im 100% secular in my views, but that's just a very weird statement. I would think that being fair means that the people get to vote for whomever they want.

The fact that 88 MB candidates got chosen means that in (at least) 44 districts, people wanted MB candidates.

What is that statement supposed to imply?

Please explain.

At 12:31 PM , Anonymous raif said...


If you want to know the exact answer, you will have to send your question to "Le Figaro", the French paper that published the article. However,I think that I have an idea what the answer would be.

We know that the success of Moslem Brothers came as a surprise to the majority of Egyptians, including the MB themselves.

The fact that the majority of voters in 44 districts has chosen candidates with extreme beliefs and MB agenda is what worried not only the Copts but many Moslem intellectuals and free thinkers.

After the success of MB, a lot of people started wondering which path Egypt is going to follow. You cannot blame them if they are worried that Egypt can take the same path of Iran,Sudan, or worse still, Afghanistan.

The Egyptian people are very religious by nature, and can be easily manipulated by thos who claim to be applying the will of God, even if they are at the same time destroying individual freedom and every principal of a democratic society.

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