Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Christian Plight In The Middle East

Persecution of Christians in the Islamic world. A subject ignored and suppressed by the mainstream media, the UN, Western governments and NGO's.


Christian Plight In The Middle East
By Joseph Puder, For The Bulletin

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI’s recently concluded visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, highlighted the demographic and political decline of Christian communities in the region. Nearly a century ago Christians accounted for 20 percent of the region’s population — today they number less than 5 percent. Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christian social and political growth is taking place. Elsewhere in the region, a dwindling Christian population is getting close to extinction as a result of Muslim intimidation and violence and, lack of economic opportunities leading to ever increasing emigration.

Significantly, in preparation for the Pope’s visit, few commentators reminded us that the Middle East was once the heart of Christianity, that cities such as Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem were once major Christian centers and, that the modern states of Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey were once part of the Christian Byzantine Empire. The Jihad out of Arabia by the Prophet Muhammad’s successors forced the vast majority of Christian and Jewish populations to choose between conversion to Islam or becoming a dhimmis (a tolerated, heavily taxed and humiliated second-class citizen — manifesting itself in, for example, the invalidation of their court testimony against a Muslim’s and, the restriction against building church spires that exceeds the height of a mosque). This process of Islamization took root and through the centuries millions of Christians converted to Islam by the sword and/or for economic survival. Christian communities that survived intact were usually mountain dwellers, specifically the Lebanese Christians.

In modern times, Christianity became a small minority in the region where they once constituted an absolute majority. In the 19th century, the arrival of western Christian missionaries revived, in small measure, Christian community life. American missionaries built universities in Cairo, Beirut and in Turkey. Catholic and Lutheran schools (grade and high schools) revived education among native Christians but not much reverse conversion occurred. The fear of death on account of apostasy prevented large scale Muslim conversion to Christianity.