Exodus-Is there a place for Christians in the new Middle East?

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by mayfair, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    Exodus

    Is there a place for Christians in the new Middle East?

    The sickening violence inflicted on Coptic Christian demonstrators in Cairo on Oct. 9 shocked Egyptians, and may have ended for good whatever remaining faith democracy activists had in the country's interim military government, which appears to have orchestrated the violence. But Copts have been suffering attacks with growing regularity over the last several years, and this latest outburst only increased the fears among them that their status in Egypt, and possibly even their survival as a community, is now in jeopardy.

    This is not only an Egyptian story. Just as rising intolerance drove vast numbers of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East in the 1950s and '60s, so Christians, the one large remaining minority in the region, are now feeling the heat. In the wake of a campaign of murder and forced displacement, at least 400,000 Christians have fled Iraq since the fall of Saddam. Christians in neighboring Syria have clung to the increasingly precarious regime of Bashar al-Assad out of fear that the same fate could befall them should Syria's Sunni majority take control. (Druze, Kurds, and other minorities seem to be making the same calculation.)

    We tend to forget that it was the Middle East that taught the world how the three Abrahamic faiths could get along with one another. In his masterful new book, The Great Sea, historian David Abulafia recounts how a polyglot Mediterranean culture of Jews, Muslims, Greek Orthodox Christians, and Catholics arose in the coastal cities of Constantinople, Salonika, Tunis, Jaffa, and Alexandria. This last, in the 1920s, had 25,000 Jews in a population of about 500,000, as well as Greeks, Italians, Maltese, and others. Abulafia writes that Omar Toussoon, a leading member of the Egyptian royal family, patronized all these groups equally while working hard to improve the economic fortunes of the city's Muslim masses.

    Virtually the entire region now experiencing the convulsion of the Arab Spring lived inside the very large tent of the Ottoman Empire until World War I. Ottoman rulers welcomed the Jews who fled the Inquisition. In great Ottoman capitals like Aleppo, in modern Syria, Jews, Christians, Kurds, and Sunni Muslims lived in the same neighborhoods. "Inter-communal residential mixing" was the norm across the Ottoman empire, according to Donald Quataert, a scholar of the Ottoman period. If it all unraveled in the 20th century, Quataert writes, it is not because of "inherent animosities of an alleged racial or ethnic nature."

    Quataert argues that the collapse of pluralism was not an inevitable consequence of seething inter-group resentment, but rather the work of nationalists who agitated for the creation of states, whether in Turkey, Bulgaria, or the Maghreb, and who then exploited and encouraged nationalist sentiment in order to consolidate power. Political choices, in other words, poisoned the atmosphere of pluralism -- as they later would in the Balkans, the Ottoman heartland, as well. Populist rulers can accommodate diversity, as they have largely done in today's Turkey, or they can unleash the forces of sectarianism, as they have in Iraq, where Shiites and Sunnis kill one another and both kill Christians. Older Iraqis will tell you that no one ever spoke of "Sunni" and "Shiite" when they were young; but whether in Bosnia or Iraq, sectarianism, once provoked, has a very long half life. There is no more volatile substance in the modern nation-state.
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  3. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    As the ME turns to democracy the state will enforce freedom of religion and missionaries will flock by the thousands. We already see it in Iraqi Kurdistan where thousands convert every year. Iran has a huge network of house churches that have spawned a population of a million that grows with their disillusionment of Islamic Republics. Either intolerance or tolerance are breeding grounds for conversion. You just have to know how to support it on a case by case basis. The old Assyrian forms of Christianity are dying out and being replaced with new Protestant communities.
     
  4. Zoravar

    Zoravar Regular Member

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    Protecting minorities was the only good thing the dictators did in the ME (atleast most did)
     
  5. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    could you provide some links, I would like to read up on this.
     
  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Why call is middle east ?

    Its to the west of us...should be called west asia.
     
  7. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    The terminology is probably left over from when Rome was the center of the Earth and the Earth was the center of the Universe.
     
    Dovah likes this.
  8. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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  9. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    It is true that in kurdistan christians are getting a relief.except there all over iraq is hunting down christians along with other minorities including muslim sects.
    Are u telling iran is encouragng christianity?Must be a joke.And behind all these uprisings jehadis too played a major handt.So we could'nt expect the new governments to be fair with minorities...
    Here is a link depicting the state of christian minorities under muslim rule
    http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&rc...6ZXQDA&usg=AFQjCNG8DZ5TdmMcC1p-Vq9xl5dSatTZ5w
     
  10. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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