ARAB WORLD – The mysterious destiny of the Christians in the Orient

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Over the previous centuries the Christians of the Arab Orient have remained entrenched in the depths of human history without any fear.

They formed their existence as a standing entity with its own voice and decision, as they were the in most important circles of the events and the industry over time. They have witnessed and even participated in the most important historical stations that have passed through the region.

In the midst of bloody conflicts that have tightened their grip – particularly on Syria and Iraq – the East is almost devoid of Christians, and churches are almost without visitors, Christians have found themselves among two bitter choices. Either they remain in their countries, which are plagued by bloody conflicts, fueled by sectarian hatred, or to be forced to escape the fate of death.

In the same context, Christians suffered the darkest and ugliest conditions in the various historical periods. They faced persecution, atonement and massacres. The various regimes did not hesitate to use them in their disputes and political battles and to put them into their fire without being aware of their fate. Starting from the wars of 1948 and 1967 and the difficult conditions between the two histories, until the Lebanese civil war, also the crises of Copts of Egypt, the invasion of Iraq and the terrorists of “Daesh” (IS) and other Islamic militias…

The Christians of the Mashreq (Orient) have always maintained their geographical and demographic balance throughout the tribulations and crises that have gripped the Middle East since its dawn, and the ramifications of its wars and conflicts have been waning until they reignite again. They have succeeded in winning the bets that have been suspended and have been playing cultural and political roles.

Christians were in the most difficult situations, adhering to their lands and their historical and genuine existence, despite all internal and external calls to leave their homes. They also affirmed their full and non-negotiable right to live freely under the sun under the citizenship and the state of pluralism, despite the simplicity of these demands and their right. Blood accompanied them in the paths of their pain towards the battle of existence… and they were accompanied by blood in all their countries, from Egypt, to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon.

In 1975, the Christians of Lebanon entered the biggest dark tunnel in their history. There was nothing like it nowadays. They fought each other for the first time. Some of them raised their arms against each other with arguments and differences. Small wars and armed conflicts did not end. And the parties did not think the Christians of the mountain, Beirut or Keserwan in their presence or not, and did not see (according to everyone) the danger coming towards them only a few years ago… After the formation of “Daesh” and its counterparts.

The churches, dioceses and houses were destroyed, the crosses and statues were broken, and the Christians in Iraq and Syria were forced to pay the tribute, to leave… or to be crucified at the closest entrance to his street just like the crucifixion of his Savior.

The parties agreed on one voice, seeing the destruction of the churches of Mosul and the murder of the nuns of Maaloula and the burning of the monasteries of Al-Raqqa, after they saw a black destiny that mercilessly assaults them and an enemy that chooses them to change their religion or tribute. “Arsal”, and “Al-Qaa” and other territories…

In war-torn Syria, Christians account for between 5 and 9 percent of the population (total population being about 22 million people). The conflict has killed more than 320,000 people. But many Christians support President Bashar al-Assad, especially because of the fear of the Islamist militancy of some groups.

Christians in Syria have been targeted by jihadists who have carried out mass kidnappings and destroyed historic churches and convents, the first in Maaloula and the most recent one in attempts to clamp down on them and harass them in the Idlib province under the control of the jihadists.

The Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Udo, said in a press statement that only 30,000 of the 160,000 Christians who had lived in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo remained in control and the government regained control of its neighborhoods, which were subject to militant factions after a violent campaign. He said 1.5 million Syrian Christians had left the country, most of them will not return.

In Iraq, Christians were burned down, their property destroyed, all their possessions confiscated and all their centuries-old land confiscated. They were driven out into the unknown, slaughtered openly in their churches under the eyes of the civilized world without pity in the Church of “Our Lady of Deliverance” and other atrocities

On the same level, the history of the Middle East did not record any retaliation against the Christians against the wars, killings and emigration (except for the Lebanese war, which was considered an existential war according to the Lebanese right), and no “fatwas”. The Christians chose to either live silently in their own country without participating in the ambitions of the chairs, or to move towards other countries where the purity of their humanity and the preservation of their rights and the preservation of their blood would be guaranteed.

The Christians of the East today have become lost in a dark circle that is incomprehensible.

They understand the game but cannot enter it. They are quarreled by coalitions and attracted by the multiple poles where they do not constitute the majority. The new grandchildren do not see any hope after the systematic campaigns carried out by the various jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq, and the campaigns of atonement of the sheikhs, imposing their constitutions on the Arab societies. They see the future confused and not clear.

Amidst all these bloody options, Christians find themselves in the middle of a never-ending territorial conflagration, amid small hopes that vanish before their eyes in the presence of an effective solution that proves their inherent existence and their full and unconditional right to exist on this land that has embraced everyone.

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Ibrahim ISSA

Journalist - Tobruk (LIBYA)

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