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A mass Christian exodus from the Middle East would be a catastrophe

Christianity’s disappearance from the Middle East is a genuine possibility. The crisis is real, but the international community remains largely indifferent. Ancient Christian communities in the Middle East have been decimated, and a significant Christian presence may never return there. This extraordinary article illuminates the full dimensions of that tragedy.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the imminent disappearance of Christianity from some of its ancient strongholds, see here.

“A mass Christian exodus from the Middle East would be a catastrophe,” by Carl Anderson, New York Post, November 15, 2019:

What happens in the next few weeks in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is crucial for Mideast Christians — and the stability and pluralism of these countries and the wider region.

Christianity was born in the Middle East, yet Jesus Christ’s followers there face a perilous moment. The Christian share of the population has shrunk to about 5 percent (if that), down from more than 20 percent at the turn of the last century. The decline attests to a century of their ruthless persecution — bookended by the genocide committed by Turkey a century ago and the recent one attempted by ISIS.

In Iraq, protesters are demanding an end to sectarian government and equal citizenship for all regardless of ethnicity or religion. Recent years have seen ordinary Iraqis get squeezed between the Sunni totalitarians of ISIS and Shiite Iran’s imperial hegemony. They are fed up with both.

Which is why protesters are calling for the abolition of Iraq’s dependence on Islamic law in favor of an overtly civil state. The message has drawn Christian support, including from the Chaldean Catholic patriarch and other bishops and priests, who have marched alongside Muslim citizens. The protests have remained peaceful despite hundreds killed, primarily by Iranian-backed militias.

The future of the Iraqi state hangs in the balance. Either it will become more sectarian under the influence of its more powerful neighbors — or it will become the pluralistic country sought by thousands marching in the streets, including Christians.

Meanwhile, Turkey launched an incursion into northeast Syria, home to many Christian communities, with Turkey’s militia allies in Syria including Islamist terrorists, according to Christian leaders and credible regional observers.

Ankara has protested the recent bipartisan congressional resolution to recognize the Turkish genocide against Armenians and other Christians, and it has done little to alleviate concerns that its actions in the region will restage elements of those dark days when it comes to Christians and other regional minorities.

Most Christians in northeastern Syria are either the descendants of people who fled from the Turks during and after World War I, or they are people who fled there in the past few years from ISIS. When Turkey attacks a Christian neighborhood in Qamlishi (as it did at the start of its operation), or when its proxies attack a Christian church (as they did in October), or when newly resurgent Islamist terrorists kill Armenian Catholic priests — Mideast Christians and their allies are reminded of the worst of the last century’s barbarous acts.

Then there is Lebanon, where recent protests have targeted both widespread corruption and the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah, which serves as Iran’s proxy in that country….

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