The Muslims long ago promised to drive out the Christians, and they are now fulfilling that pledge, except in one place.
The Middle East of the 21st century is quickly becoming monolithic, as it sheds the religious and cultural diversity that once existed. Though it gave the world all three Abrahamic religions, it is rapidly becoming the home of only one.
In recent years, the Christian population has decreased across the entire region, and in some Arab countries, the Christian component has been absent entirely.
In Iraq, home to the oldest Christian communities in the world, Jesus’ followers are going extinct amid an orgy of hatred and violence;
Only a few thousand of Turkey’sChristians remain, while once the country was home to millions;
In Syria, Christians one made up a full third of the population, but today account for just 10 percent;
In the 1930s, Lebanon boasted a majority Christian population, whereas now they are less than a third;
For the first time since the 1950s, Coptic Christians are leaving Egyptin large numbers;
And in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, once-large communities of Christians (at some times even outnumbering local Muslims) have now been reduced to a tiny minority. The land in which Christ was born is today far from a peaceful place, while most of the Muslim Arab countries around are failed states full of extremism.
Every Christian who can is now packing his or her bags and seeking to leave. And that signals a dangerous future for the Middle East.
Failure of civilization
This failure of civilization began many decades ago. Ever since the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks(1914-1918), which claimed about one million lives, Middle East Christians have been seeking safer haven.
Later, during the monarchy in Iraq, a policy of revenge was implemented against Christians over their cooperation with the British during World War I. The instability surrounding the fall of the monarchy in 1958 provided a chance for many Christians to escape to the West.
More recently, the rise of Islamist groups in Iraq has again reduced Christians to dhimmi status and subjected them to routine harassment and persecution. The result has been the same – a mass migration of Christians.
A brutal promise fulfilled
The Muslims have long chanted, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” meaning they always intended to first drive out the Jews, then the Christians.
Well, most of the Jews were driven out of the Arab world over the past century. Now it seems it is the turn of the Christians.
But what will the Middle East become without its ancient Christian population?
The Christians are never coming back
Most worrying is that this process appears to be irreversible. All of the Christians migrants that I have spoken to insist they will never return under any circumstances.
Even if the security situation improves in the short term, there are no long-term guarantees in the Muslim Middle East. Christians reject the idea of any longer living like outsiders in countries where they are far more indigenous than the Muslims. Their immigration to greener pastures is permanent.
A light in the darkness
As always, we must point out that there remains one single country in the Middle East where Christians still live in peace and tranquility–the Jewish State of Israel.
Only in Israel can Arabs of all faiths coexist with the Jewish people and enjoy the democratic freedoms denied them in nearly every Arab country.
Is it any wonder that while Christian communities around the region are shrinking fast, the number of Jesus’ followers in His own country of Israel is actually growing.
This article is from Israel Today Magazine February’s issue.