Pope Benedict began his tour of the Middle East on the weekend by visiting Jordan over and praising the the ‘courage’ of Christians who live there. Christians are in the minority in the Middle East, and from the Copts in Egypt to the Chaldean and Assyrian Christians of Iraq, many have suffered from victimisation and attacks on homes and churches because of their faith. Today we’re going to hear what it’s like to be a Christian in the Middle East.
According to some estimations up to two-thirds of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country since the 2003 invasion. They’ve become targets for Islamic insurgents who insist they convert to Islam, or face death.
In Egypt, hundreds of Christians have claimed they’ve been victimised by the government in the recent H1N1 breakout. 300, 000 pigs, farmed only by Christians, were killed despite no evidence the flu was being carried by pigs.
Are Christians an oppressed minority in the Middle East? Or are they suffering exactly the same trials and tribulations as everyone else?
In the Palestinian territories it was traditionally the Christians who were the wealthiest layer of society. Over the last 30 years there’s been a Christian exodus from Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Is it just that their difficulties are noticed more because more of them have the resources to leave than Muslim Palestinians. Should ordinary Christians be doing more to stand up for their brothers and sisters in the Middle East?