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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Middle East's 'Christian Winter'

It is rare for the BBC to post something that acknowledges the fact the Christians are suffering, so, when they do, it is worth getting it more widely read. In the article, "A Point of View: The long winter for the Middle East's Christians" the author, a resident of Delhi, India, makes a number of interesting points about both the seldom mentioned co-existence of Christians and Muslims, but how some of the 'sayings of Jesus' not found in Christian literature, can be found in Islamic books. It is that co-existence that is now threatened, and being systematically destroyed, by the hardline fundamentalists who have taken over the 'Arab Spring'.

In Egypt alone, some 14 million Christians are increasingly the target of attacks. Prior to the civil war in Syria, some 10% of the population were Christian, and to them must be added the Christians driven out of Iraq post the war on Saddam. Now they are being driven out again as al-Qaeda inspired Salafists take control of the revolution and target Christians as 'the enemy of the Prophet'. Turkey has a large Christian population and once, Iran had some 6% of the population as Christians. They were decimated during the war with Iraq, mostly used to clear minefields or lead suicide attacks on Iraqi positions. Today only about 1% of the Iraqi population is Christian, the rest have been driven out, forced to convert, or killed off. Nor is this unique. Pakistan has allowed the fundamentalist Mullahs to wage an undeclared and unacknowledged campaign against Christian communities since Independence - yet it is never acknowledged by the western media.

It is refreshing therefore to see it mentioned 'en passant' by William Dalrymple. The article is a fair one, though he does focus more on the fact that there was co-operation and mutual respect in the past - and not much on the realities of the present. Still, it is a start, and a glimmer of light being shone into a murky area the media - and the BBC in particular - usually try to ignore.

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