Harry Hagopian, an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant who also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris, writes about the fears and hopes of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa for Ekklesia
As a new year arrives, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) uprisings continue their relentless surge in different parts of the region. While Egypt and Syria have grabbed our attention throughout 2012, it is quite clear that much is also happening elsewhere.
From Tunisia and Libya to Morocco and Yemen, from Jordan and Lebanon all the way to Bahrain and Kuwait, the tensions are manifesting themselves in different ways – some more subtle than others, some far bloodier than others.
In the midst of this maelstrom, it is appropriate to re-visit the realities of the smaller Christian indigenous communities as they oscillate between fear, hope and uncertainty.
It is true that many of those communities in various countries are fearful that their rights will be squelched further under the emerging ‘Islamist’ regimes. They might well be right, in the sense that some of those more conservative brands of Islam are so unequivocally exclusive of the ‘other’ that they simply cannot govern equally, let alone equably.
Almost a year ago, for instance, I recall coming across an article which stated that the clergy and hierarchy of the churches in Syria were solidly supportive of the regime, while many of the younger men and women were aspiring for human rights, democracy as well as freedom and were joining the revolution on the streets.
Now, a year later, there seems to be a marked change. Most Christians, old or young, are extremely worried about the changing nature of the rebel movement, whereby the rising trend of Islamism and the presence of foreign jihadis and warlords has frightened Christians. There have even been reports of evictions from homes, robbery, rape and extortion from Christians.
Read it all here.