A Middle East Without Christians

Mideast-Egypt-Anxious_HoroIslamist terrorists have exploited the lawless Sinai to perpetrate vicious attacks on Egyptian Christians there, as reported earlier this week in the New York Times. Indeed, throughout Egypt, the Copts continue to be targeted and scapegoated for the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As defenseless and abandoned as Mideast Christians seem today, it is worth remembering their historical roots, and recognizing just how much the plight of Middle East Christians has deteriorated. Over 2,000 years ago, Christianity was born as a religion and spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the Levant, including territories in modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. The Christian faith flourished as one of the major religions in the Middle East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century.

Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 2-5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would “likely drop to” half of their numbers “by the year 2020″ because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of “exclusion and persecution” leading to emigration.

The “Arab Spring” has only worsened conditions for the indigenous Christians of the Middle East. Like the Kurds, Middle East Christians are a stateless minority, struggling to survive in the world’s toughest neighborhood. But the Kurds at least have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and most of them are Sunni Muslim, making it easier for them to survive in the Muslim-dominated Middle East. Christians, on the other hand, are a religious minority that controls no territory and is entirely subject to the whims of their hosts. These host countries – with the exception of Israel – offer a grim future to Middle East Christians. Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, Egypt also has the largest Christian population in the Middle East, totaling 8-12 million people. But because Christian Copts make up only about 10-15% of Egypt’s estimated 80 million people, they have for decades lived in fear as second-class citizens, subjected to attacks on churches, villages, homes, and shops; mob killings; and the abduction and forced Islamic conversion of Christian women compelled to marry Muslim men. Such abuse took place under the staunchly secular regime of Hosni Mubarak, but grew much worse under the rule of Mohammed Morsi, the jailed Muslim Brotherhood activist who succeeded Mubarak, and they are now being blamed for Morsi’s ouster.

In Lebanon, Christians represent a bigger portion of the population, so their fate is for now less precarious than that of their Egyptian coreligionists, but their long-term prospects are worrisome. The Christian population is estimated to have dropped from over 50% (according to a 1932 census) to about 40%. Over the last few years, the de facto governing power in Lebanon has become Hezbollah, the radical and heavily-armed Shiite movement sponsored by Iran. With all of the spillover violence and instability produced by the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s open involvement in it, and/or the next war that Hezbollah decides to start with Israel, the emigration of Christians out of Lebanon will probably only increase in the coming years, leaving those who stay increasingly vulnerable.

In Syria, 2.5 million Christians comprised about 10% of the population and enjoyed some protection under the secular and often brutal regimes of the Assad dynasty. But as jihadi groups fighting Assad extend their territorial control, the past protection of Christians is often the cause of their current persecution by resentful Sunnis who revile the Assad regime and seek to impose Sharia law wherever they can. Christians have been regularly targeted and killed by rebels, and the sectarian chaos and violence that will likely prevail in Assad’s wake will only increase the number of Christians fleeing Syria.

In Iraq, the bloody aftermath of the 2003 invasion demonstrated how dangerous life can become for a Christian minority when a multicultural society in the Middle East explodes into sectarian violence. By 2008, half of the 800,000 Iraqi Christians were estimated to have left, rendering those remaining even more insecure. In 2010, Salafist extremists attacked a Baghdad church during Sunday Mass, killing or wounding nearly the whole congregation. Such incidents turn any communal gathering into a potential massacre, forcing Christians across the Middle East to ask the ultimate question of faith: “Am I prepared to die for Christian worship?”

The so-called “Arab Spring” threatens to exacerbate matters in much of the Middle East, as Islamists now either control the government or influence it enough to persecute Christians with impunity. As new Islamist regimes in the Middle East condone religious intolerance and introduce Sharia and blasphemy laws, the long-term trend for Christians in their ancestral lands will only grow bleaker.

The one bright spot is the state of Israel – “the only place in the Middle East [where] Christians are really safe,” according to the Vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. Home to Christianity’s holiest sites and to a colorful array of Christian denominations, Israel has the only growing Christian community in the Middle East.

Because Israel is the only non-Muslim state in all of the Middle East and North Africa, it represents a small victory for religious minorities in the region, and serves as the last protector of freedom and security for Jews, Christians, Bahai, Druze, and others. Without Israel, how much more vulnerable would Christians in the Middle East become?

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  • Father Dacius

    Never forget that Syria was a predominantly Christian nation until Tamarlane invaded. And that was the name that woman from southern Russia gave her son, the same one who set off the bombs in Boston.

  • marcus

    The sooner people wake up and see religions for what they are, “the greatest bullshit stories ever told” ,the sooner people will live together in some form of harmony.

    • CowboyUp

      We call that place North Korea, paradise awaits you.

      • marcus

        Actually NZ and Australia are virtually free of that rubbish. Only About 5% of their population are Delusional. In the US its over 85% delusional. You would be hard pressed to find a church in Australia . They basically are free thinkers..So if i had a choice between North Korea and Australia i think im going to take Australia. Actually by Christmas my wife and i will be free of New York and living on the Sunshine Coast. Free health care, Schools, and low/no violence. God must really love those atheist Australians.

        • NSNZ

          You are in for some surprises Marcus. The muslim diaspora has reached those ‘virgin shores’ and is practicing deception. Choose your side…..

        • Steven Piper

          Marcus: Where in the world did you come by your presumed “knowledge” regarding the religious beliefs of Australians? According to the 2011 Australian census, 61.14% describe themselves as Christian, 22.3% as having no particular religious belief, with the rest being Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem and Jewish. As to the physical church buildings themselves: you couldn’t have looked very hard if you didn’t see them.

          • marcus

            Im from The Sunshine coast Steven. Was born in Auckland NZ but basically all my family come from and live in Australia. What i read recently is completely different from what you have just stated. NZ had just over 8% practicing Christians. And Australia around 5% practicing Christians. My wife was the one who pointed out the first church we saw in Brisbane. And she was amazed how you basically don’t see Church’s anywhere. And its true, you just dont see Church’s like you see here in America. We have 5 within a block of us here in upstate NY. They are around every corner. Everybody i work with here are Christians. Everyone. All they talk about is Jesus. They put stupid bumper stickers on their cars. Like “God protect our troops especially our snipers” The whole thing is ridiculous.

          • Mike

            “God protect our troops especially our snipers” -AMEN

          • marcus

            I don’t think your God protects people who murder Men women and children. But come on…. an invisible man living in the sky ?? Really?

          • Rooster

            –To dismantle the very belief system which freedom was born and reason derived is commonly a wish of atheists.– (Most often times I hear this from the social apologists whom owe so much to it.) You must feel superior, somehow smarter, more rational, and more mentally evolved than us Christians given your view with our choice to worship. This God whom we speak is whom we all share, however this God has been rejected by you. Belief in God and reason are not incompatible; sorry Marcus, you’re a Bigot. It is you whom rants hate and spews venom on the internet. (Do you hear the rooster crow a third time?)

          • marcus
          • marcus

            Now thats funny.. Over 809 million people have lost their lives because of Religion. And you think i spread hatred. Very funny. You obviously have joined a group of these mass murderers. Christian? Oh but of course not. It has nothing to do with you does it? But your part of that group of religious nuts. Your guilty just by association. I guess if i had joined the Nazi Party i could also say i had nothing to do with anything bad that happened. But who would in their right mind join any group of people who have such a nasty and cruel history of killing men women and children and in many cases burning them alive. Christians.Your members are Racist, Nasty Bigots who have exterminated millions for your invisible pretend friend who lives in the sky. My hands are clean. Yours defiantly are Not.

          • marcus

            Im not saying NZ and Australia dont have any religions because they do. But ive been here in New York for just over 2 years now and people here are nuts. And im not even in the bible belt of the US.. When the Boston Bombs went off people here were outraged. (as they should be) but they also have No issue with their own troops pulling people out of their homes, killing women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because God is on their side. Im just so sick of hearing all the religious bollocks from these brainwashed monkeys. You just don’t hear all the bullshyt back home.

          • jackdiamond

            So the Boston Bombers were terrorists but so are American soldiers i.e. baby killers. No doubt they shout “Praise Jesus” when pumping rounds into innocent Muslims, right? So it all evens out, right? Meanwhile, the actual rules of engagement in Afghanistan prevent soldiers from even firing on “civilians” planting IEDs without permission from on high, lest they be charged with murder. Nice purple prose but “We” and the military courts would have an issue with any soldiers pulling people out of their houses and killing women and children. Thinking in clichés makes life easier, I know, but let me remind you the ideological movements of the 20th century which made it perhaps the most murderous in history, were irreligious. Communism and Nazism should have helped people “live together in harmony” since they were free of the cause of all bigotry and strife, religion. Why did we see the opposite?

          • marcus

            See this is where you don’t get it. Have you ever seen the movie “Red Dawn” with Patrick swayze” ? Russians parachute in and occupy the USA. Patrick and some mates take to the mountains. And guess what? Fight back using road side bombs and backpacks dropped in Cafe’s blowing people too piece. Wow. This is what happens when you occupy another country THAT ISN’T YOUR OWN. Mind your own business and stop going into countries where YOUR NOT WELCOME and things will be a lot safer. Maybe watch “Dirty Wars” before preaching about how good American troops are. As for Religions. They have killed an estimated 809 million people over the Ages. Millions and Millions of people killed at the hands of Christians.

            http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/foreign-policy/item/16248-u-s-drones-kill-more-than-30-in-yemen-school-targeted-in-one-attack

          • jackdiamond

            How many people are being murdered in the name of Christianity for reasons of Christianity? You do understand the difference between “Kill the disbelievers…fight (Qital-kill, slaughter) those who do not believe in Allah & His Messenger…strike terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, so smite their necks and smite off their fingers…fitnah (trial in religion) is worse than killing”
            and “love your neighbor as yourself…love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you.” I know these distinctions might not interest you– that Muslims are the aggressor in conflicts with Christians today, or that there is all the difference in the world between the teachings of Islam and Christianity; to the rest of us it matters distinguishing the wolf from the sheep.

          • jackdiamond

            Let me make a subtle point for you about the absurd movie Red Dawn. Those boys were fighting for Freedom, for a free country invaded by a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. A republic that extols the rights of the individual. They were not fighting for Islamofascism, unlike the barbarians you champion.
            Tell the Islamic Jihad to start minding it’s own business, first. Why was Afghanistan “occupied”? Because that country was the base for an attack on this country. Those jihadists and all the others are not independent actors either, they are supported at the highest levels of Arab and Muslim governments. They are fingers of a big hand. Saudi Arabia and the UAE merited being “occupied” as well. The jihadists have been busy “occupying” Libya and Syria. Trying to “occupy” Christian North Africa. Internally, waging war against their helpless Christian minorities (and do those Christians and other non-Muslims have a claim on their country or just Muslims? And should the world “mind its own business” if a people are being “cleansed” for their beliefs?). Islam wants to “occupy” Kashmir and even India. It wants to “occupy” the entire holy land. It foresees the final “occupation” of Western Europe in this century. But then the entire “Muslim World” was occupied to begin with, primarily by the bloody sword.

          • jackdiamond

            It’s true Infidels will never be welcome in Muslim countries. I wish our leaders would stop trying to win hearts and minds, it will never happen. Not because of any good or bad things we do, it is because their religion is hostile at its core. We need to forget about being loved and worry about not being killed or our societies wrecked by the Islamic World. Attacks which will not cease regardless of our foreign policies. Migrations which will not cease to “colonize” their host Infidel countries. They do not remain in their little hell-holes, that’s the problem. We would gladly mind our own business. They do not mind their own business and cannot. Because Allah tells them they cannot. The Islamic World needs to be contained (militarily, economically, ideologically & demographically) so that it will have to mind its own business. The alternative is that it will live up to its historic role as the destroyer of civilization.

          • marcus

            Thats funny. Did any Muslim country invade the US? No, But im fairly sure the US has had its nose in the Middle east for quite a few years now. Giving weapons to some and attacking others themselves. See when you invade a country For Their Oil then basically your trespassing and like in Red dawn there are going to be a lot of people who are Not happy about it.. We all know there were never “Weapons of Mass Destruction” And we all know tens of thousands have been killed by the US for Oil. Whatever other people are all doing in the Middle east its still none of the US’s business. One thing they are doing really well is making enemies..

          • Drakken

            Spoken like a true died in the wool effing commi/leftist. Good to know you openly side with and have sympathy for our enemy.

          • KT Shamim

            You talk as if religion is the cause of the problem. Yet. In all human history. It is only Prophets who have brought about moral revolutions in people. With Moses’ teachings of standing up. Buddha’s teachings of harmony. Jesus’ teachings of forgiveness. And Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) teaching complete harmony of Islam. What, exactly, are you talking about?

            Can you imagine Obama trying to instill a feeling of forgiveness for Al Qaeda in the hearts of Americans? Or Israel urging its citizens to forgive Palestinians? Or Iran forgiving Israel? Moral revolutions are only brought about by Prophets of God.

            In religion, the knowledge that God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all) is watching your intention and will hold you accountable for it, is the greatest motivation to do good.

          • Drakken

            Listen up dumbazz, there is no moral equivalence between our troops and what they do, and the folks they fight, period, maybe you would feel a lot more comfortable in a middle eastern cesspool than enjoying yourself here in the west with those crazy Christians.

    • ratonis

      Gee. You sure are an original, creative thinker. I’ve never heard that viewpoint before.

      • marcus

        It has nothing to do with being original, or a Creative thinker. I never said that. But thinking for yourself isn’t a bad thing. Most Christians i speak too don’t realize the 3 kings are a star constellation, part of Orion’s Belt. And Sirius the star in the east and the 3 kings are in the sky above where the Egyptians believed the birth of the new sun happened every year around the 21st of Dec.The Sun of God.. Sounds familiar.. Like many many “stories” in the Bible which are taken from the Egyptians. And i love what Bill Maher said last week. With all the lies the bible has its kinda like a pool with a turd floating in it. Would you dive in? And Millions do. Its just so dam amusing people can be so gullible.

    • CJ Savvy

      You’re right, dude. All religions, Christianity in its current form included, are false. Indeed, they are demon worship, ultimately Satan himself. The world have been deceived into thinking they worship God, in whatever name or form the particular religion presents. Even Jesus of the Bible has been thoroughly distorted by Satan induced evil doctrines. He is not the One who once walked the streets of Jerusalem.
      Still, God did create the universe and all it contains, including you and me. We should worship this God alone. Seek God with a sincere heart and you will achieve your desire. Then everything else will fall into place just right.

    • KT Shamim

      Yet. In all human history. It is only Prophets who have brought about moral revolutions in people. With Moses’ teachings of standing up. Buddha’s teachings of harmony. Jesus’ teachings of forgiveness. And Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) teaching complete harmony of Islam. What, exactly, are you talking about?

      Can you imagine Obama trying to instill a feeling of forgiveness for Al Qaeda in the hearts of Americans? Or Israel urging its citizens to forgive Palestinians? Or Iran forgiving Israel? Moral revolutions are only brought about by Prophets of God.

      In religion, the knowledge that God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all) is watching your intention and will hold you accountable for it, is the greatest motivation to do good.

  • lulita

    how about the next headline; the USA withut chiristians if O has his way, its is soon to be a reality. Meanwhile PRAY for those who are prsecuted and suffering as if bound with them. In Jesus, Who is able to keep them .

    • Drakken

      Praying for them is nice, but if you really want to help them, arm them.

      • motorsportsnz

        If you really want to help them!
        Mark 9:23 (KJV)
        [23] Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

        • Drakken

          You go ahead and pray, I’ll say a prayer and carry a big stick.

  • http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/ SLIMJIM

    Obama might not be a Muslim but he’s been the most anti-Christian, pro-Muslim president we had

  • nonannystate

    Oh really? Israel is a place where Christians are safe?!?
    I guess you don’t want to talk about how a few months ago Israeli police entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during mass and beat and choked an 85 year-old Coptic Christian bishop unconscious.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/video-showing-police-choking-elderly-coptic-leader-emerges/

    Or how Israeli settlers have vandalized and tried to burn down a number of Christian churches just this year.
    No, you keep pretending things are great for religious pluralism in Israel, as if Christian clerics don’t have to deal with being spat on by fanatical Orthodox jews every day in Jerusalem.

    • Mary

      Oh, yes, it’s like totally the same. Riiight.

  • Mickey Oberman

    Middle Eastern Christians have, since the founding of the new State of Israel, for the most part been anti Israel and pro Muslim.
    Now they are paying for their bigotted choice of loyalty.
    And those whom they opposed and excoriated and blamed for all the M.E. troubles are their only hope for salvation.
    They have much to atone for.

  • Wulfrano Ruiz Sainz

    Muslims are devils.

  • Pentheus Makarios

    ­ Does anyone really think that Islam is a religion of
    peace?

    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com

    Here’s an interesting comparison between Islam and
    Christianity:

    http://goo.gl/jiuvM

  • marcus

    Your being extreme. I know plenty of Muslims who are just like everyone else. And i know plenty of westerners who like yourself are paranoid that Muslims are out to get them. When it comes to any religion they all have a terrible history of mass murder. Religion is a man made stupidity. And Millions have been killed by Christians for reasons of Christianity. All Christians have blood on their hands just by association . Who in their right mind would join a group who have in the past raped, tortured, burned alive and murdered millions of other humans? The bible is based on lies. Jesus most likely never existed. Not one Historian living at the time around where Jesus was performing all his so called “miracles” ever wrote about such a person. A man healing the sick and walking on water never got a single mention from any of the dozens of Historians of the time. There must have been way more interesting things to write about i guess. The bible is a nonsense.and should be read as a fairy tail nothing more

  • motorsportsnz

    Yeshua that us Jesus said before they hated you they hated Me

  • motorsportsnz

    Hallelujah the time is near for the return of Jesus Yeshua ha Machiac

  • raymond francis jones

    A preview of what British anti Christ want for Britons.I expect the copse will be rescued by Israel eventually, perhaps they should make their way there and put themselves at their mercy,The world is in a very bad way.There is a plan to rid the world of religion.