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Christians Leaving Mideast in Record Numbers

Image: Christians Leaving Mideast in Record Numbers

Egypt's Christians mourn loss after Palm Sunday church bombings. (Reuters)

By    |   Saturday, 13 May 2017 11:23 AM

Christians are leaving the Middle East in record numbers, driven out by terrorism by the Islamic State and laws in countries the U.S. considers allies. By 2025, Christians are expected to comprise a mere 3 percent of the population in the Middle East, whereas they represented 13.6 percent a century ago.

A series of suicide bomb attacks on Palm Sunday during church services last month in Egypt, which killed at least 45 people, was just the latest in a pattern of violence against Christians in the area, according to The Wall Street Journal in an article published Friday. The exodus is raising alarm the region will become a haven for radical groups.

Islam remains the primary religion in the Middle East, with rival sects often clashing, giving way to fears the violent trend will continue. And, laws in some countries discriminate against Christians, denying them the right to government jobs or even to rebuild churches.

"The disappearance of such minorities sets the stage for more radical groups to dominate in society," said Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. "Religious minorities, at the very least, have a moderating effect."

Christians began leaving the region a century ago, mainly for better opportunities in the U.S. and elsewhere. But, in 2011, revolutions evolved into civil wars and the rise of extremist groups. Roughly half of Syria's Christians fled, many to Lebanon. And in Iraq, the country's second largest city, Mosul, has virtually no Christian population.

More Arab Christians live outside the region than inside, the article noted, citing a report last year by three Christian charities and the University of East London. Many families which have fled have no intentions of returning.

"I love Egypt. I love my memories here. But, I'm scared now," said Yvonne Abdo, who now lives in Kuwait City and whose husband, Mina, was killed in Egypt's Palm Sunday attack. "We will come back for visits. We must. My husband is buried here."

President Donald Trump has signaled he would welcome Christian refugees to the U.S. from the Middle East, and his deputy national security adviser, is of Egyptian Coptic descent.

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Christians are leaving the Middle East in record numbers, driven out by terrorism by the Islamic State and laws in countries the U.S. considers allies. By 2025, Christians are expected to comprise a mere 3 percent of the population in the Middle East, whereas they...
Middle East, Christians, terrorism, Islamic State, President Donald Trump
365
2017-23-13
Saturday, 13 May 2017 11:23 AM
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