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Pause for Arabia

Having caught the news of Muslim-Christian conflict in Cairo, this Sunday I am giving thought to the plight of the Christian peoples of this region who are now experiencing, just as their Jewish forebears did, exodus and diaspora. Imagine if simply visiting your local house of worship or celebrating your festival openly put your life in danger, if your relatives had been killed because of their faith or if you had to hide your faith completely for fear of arrest & torture - for many Christians in the Middle East, particularly in 'liberated' Iraq and 'close ally' Saudi Arabia, this is their day-to-day existence.

For other Christians - such as those in Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt - it is a case of having to increasingly engage in a tense stand-off with hostile Islamist movements to preserve their minority rights. With Western governments seemingly turning a blind eye in their pursuit of economic and geo-political interests, it is no wonder then that these ancient communities are choosing to uproot in their thousands and flee to a Garden of Exile.

This is of course all part of the latest chapter in the story of empire & resistance in the Middle East - and the rise of an often intolerant form of Islamism which views these last vestiges of Christianity as the outposts of Western imperialism, just as Israel (which contains many communities originating from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, who moved their following oppression) is framed purely as a classical European colonialist state.

And so, whilst pausing to consider the various Christian communities of the Middle East, we must pause further for the Middle East peoples as a whole; that the complexities and conflicts of their societies are not reduced to dangerous black and white (mis)truths - instead, that they will take time to reflect and then work together for non-violent revolution, reconciliation and renewal.

1 comment:

Paulina Rose said...

While many Christians are sadly being pushed out of the Middle East, they are allowed to stay in certain areas, even appreciated. I have lived and been involved with work in North Iraq for the past few years. It's a haven for Christians being pushed out of the south. You can read more about the work I have been involved with at: www.servantgroup.org