UAE Opens Historic Christian Site
06/16/2019 UAE (International Christian Concern) – The United Arab Emirates opened to the public last week the country’s oldest Christian site, which was discovered in the 1990s but dates back to the 7th and 8th centuries. Abu Dhabi says that this is the earliest known evidence of Christianity in the UAE.
These kinds of discoveries are incredibly important to countering the narrative that only Islam has existed in the Arabian Peninsula, the location of Islam’s holiest of sites. It is this kind of narrative which makes the peninsula one of the most challenging parts for Middle Eastern Christians, who are viewed as unwelcome.
However, there is a general trend in the peninsula of these Islamic countries opening historic Christian sites without taking steps to rectify policies which violate religious freedom. In the case of the UAE, the country is constitutionally Islamic. Laws prohibit blasphemy and discourage conversion from Islam to Christianity. Church leaders have also complained of a lack of capacity within the churches that they are allowed to operate. Significant barriers exist which make it very difficult to open a new church.
The UAE has taken positive symbolic steps towards religious freedom, but still there is much work to be done at enshrining religious freedom within the country’s legal system.
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