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Christmas in the Arab World: Hope in Iraq but little stability in Lebanon

ICC Note

Christians living in the Middle East face persecution due to their faith. This article talks about some of the challenges that Christians are facing in the region as well as some of good developments in terms of security to some parts of the region.

21 Dec. 2007 Lebanon (AKI) – As Christmas approaches, Lebanese church leaders believe Christians are facing great challenges. They say religious divisions between Christian, Shia and Sunnis are becoming more entrenched and many Christians have begun leaving Beirut .

Father Antoine Khadra, president of the Association of Christian Lebanese Journalists and head of the Convent of Saint Nohra, said he hopes that Christmas brings stability to the country.

“The Lebanese are not doing well, ” he said in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI). “To live in peace you need stability. For us, as the church, it is not easy to enourage people to celebrate.

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Missionary Dany al-Hayek from the Salesian Don Bosco House in El Hossun, in the country’s north, said “we don’t feel much about Christmas this year”.

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“The Christian community is diminishing,” said Hayek. “Christians have aspirations, they want to live well. They want to guarantee a better life for their children, while Muslims have a degree of tolerance for the greater difficulties.”

In Iraq , Christian leaders are more positive about the future. The patriarchal vicar of the Chaldean Christian church in Iraq and the world, Shlemon Warduni, has called on Christians and Muslims to welcome the new year with open arms and hearts filled with love.

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Meanwhile, the bishop of the Chaldean Christian church in Mosul , Bulos Faraj Rahou, said he was more optimistic than in the past, saying security in the city had recently improved with the deployment of more police.

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In Jordan , the secretary-general of the Latin diocese of Amman , Hanna Kaldani, stressed the need for religious dialogue between Muslims and Christians to improve human rights, dignity and freedom.

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In Syria , the patriarchal vicar of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ghattas Hazim, said peace and stability were missing from the Arab world.

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