Middle East: Harder to bear
The Financial Times reports on the rise of persecution and decline of Christianity throughout the Middle East. View full article here.
By David Gardner
4/22/2011 Middle East (Financial Times) – In a square in Nazareth, right below the Basilica of the Annunciation, a Koranic verse warns that “whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”. Yet it is the spectre of losing in the here-and-now that most haunts the dwindling number of adherents to Christianity in the land of its birthplace.
In the hometown of Jesus, where it all began two millennia ago, Christians feel under siege. This fear is not limited to Nazareth or the Holy Land. Across the Arab world, Christians ask whether they are an endangered species: threatened by Islamist radicals; forced by limited opportunities at home to seek new lives abroad; accused of complicity in the schemes of foreign predators; and now menaced by the wave of revolution ripping through the region – which some fear could uncover the submerged hard-wiring of sectarianism.
Two massacres, at the church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad last October and at a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year’s day, have reinforced this sense of a modern persecution aimed at emptying Arab lands of Christians, who number perhaps 15m among 300m Muslims.