A Middle East exodus of Biblical proportions
Reports are coming in of Christians fleeing from the persecution in the Middle East with reports of violence, bloodshed and murder. Over half of Iraq's Christians have left the country since the start of the Gulf War.
Over seven years have passed since President Bush declared victory in Iraq, and two months have now gone by since Obama declared that same conflict to be over, but for Christians in the Middle East, such talk of victory is hollow.
For centuries, Christians living under Muslim domination have endured cycles of persecution and tolerance, but now an virtually unprecedented exodus of Christians from the region is underway.
According to an article by Robert Fisk for The Independent, nations where long-suffering Christians have managed to survive intimidation and periodic persecution at the hands of Muslim authorities are witnessing the flight of large portions of their Christian population. In Fisk’s words:
Across the Middle East, it is the same story of despairing — sometimes frightened — Christian minorities, and of an exodus that reaches almost Biblical proportions. Almost half of Iraq's Christians have fled their country since the first Gulf War in 1991, most of them after the 2004 invasion — a weird tribute to the self-proclaimed Christian faith of the two Bush presidents who went to war with Iraq — and stand now at 550,000, scarcely 3 per cent of the population. More than half of Lebanon's Christians now live outside their country. Once a majority, the nation's one and a half million Christians, most of them Maronite Catholics, comprise perhaps 35 per cent of the Lebanese. Egypt's Coptic Christians — there are at most around eight million — now represent less than 10 per cent of the population.
The plight of Christians living under Muslim domination has often been ignored in the West; for example, as reported earlier this year, Coptic Christians endured a Christmas Day massacre which was largely ignored by the Western media. And while Muslim Jihadists declared the U.S. invasion of Iraq to be part of a “new Crusade,” the truth is that the invasion — and its aftermath — led to hundreds of thousands of Christians fleeing the country. As the Telegraph reported in 2007:
Iraq's Christian community is close to extinction as thousands are forced to flee their traditional strongholds in Baghdad.
One estimate placed the Christian exodus from Iraq as high as 300,000 by 2005. But the plight — and flight — of Iraqi Christians is only a part of a much larger trend.
An exodus of Christians is under way in the southern district of Dora after groups affiliated to al-Qa'eda issued a threat of "convert or be killed."
Most have fled to Kurdish northern Iraq, where the village of Ankawa has grown into an overcrowded "city of Christ," while others leave for Syria or Jordan.
Priests claim that half Baghdad's pre-2003 Christian population — estimated in the hundreds of thousands — has fled or been killed. They also claim that the Iraqi government is failing to protect them.
Father Bashar Warda of the St. Peter Major Seminary, relocated from Dora to Ankawa, said yesterday: "We are afraid the government of Iraq has a common understanding with those making the threats that Christians have no future in this country."
Fr. Warda said one priest had registered 70 displaced families in the past 10 days.
Father Raymond Moussalli, a spokesman for the Christian refugees, said Dora's seven churches had closed.
"We cannot hold on," he said. "The Muslims have issued warnings 'convert or you will be killed'. Heads have been cut off statues outside our churches. People are being killed just for their faith."
Read on in NewAmerican....