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Debate: Should Christians abandon the Middle East?

Or should they stay, with extra support from the west?

By on Friday, 5 November 2010

A Lebanese woman lights a candle at a vigil in Beirut following the massacre in Baghdad on Sunday (Photo: PA)

A Lebanese woman lights a candle at a vigil in Beirut following the massacre in Baghdad on Sunday (Photo: PA)

The massacre of dozens of worshippers in Baghdad on Sunday has led to renewed despair among Iraq’s Christians. Bishop Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary of Babylonia of the Chaldeans, said they were “terrified”. “They don’t understand why they should suffer such cruel evil,” he said. He has urged his flock to be strong in faith and ready to offer the “extreme witness” of death. He added: “You cannot expect everyone to have a heroic faith.”

Surely it is better for Christians in Iraq and other, threatening parts of the Middle East to leave, build new lives in Europe, Britain or the US, in total safety, rather than risk being martyred. Yes, they may have lived there for 1,800 years, but that is no reason to expect them to offer the “extreme witness” of death.

On the other hand, Christians in the Middle East are a moderating force, and act as bridge-builders between East and West. They can help rebuild Iraq. Of course they can flee; but that’s what the Islamists want. Christians and Muslims must learn to live together at some point.

So, should Christians abandon the Middle East? Or should they stay, with extra support from the west?

  • Victor Weston

    It has been the regimes of Blair and Bush who in the first place caused the problem, giving the excuse (falsely) of identifying the indigenous Churches with the West; the secular West is incapable of comprehending its responsibilities for this resulting appalling fiasco; the Church in the West however needs to support sacrificially however – and certainly not to appease Islam!; the Churches in Muslim worlds are there to witness to the Cross of Christ and the Love of God in Jesus, the Koran can be seen to be the writings of a false prophet – otherwise Mohammed's followers would behave with justice and mercy and not as the perpetrators of religious hate crimes

  • louella

    Christians cannot stay in the Middle East as things are! I don't know if the West can do anything for Christians in the Middle East but if they can then they must. It would be great if Christians had their own homeland there where they could feel secure. I don't know if there is any hope of such a place.

    Other than that mass exodus with the help of the West and maybe Israel might be the solution. I guess the only people to answer this question are the Christians themselves. But as for being moderators and bridge builders – it is not possible in the current circumstances. They are just minority targets for discrimination hate and worse.

  • Victor Weston

    The problem with a mass exodus is in the nature of Islam; you cannot flee that, it is a spreading global phenomena, with in every country where mosques exist those seeking sharia law to be estabished; it is only a matter of time when we all may have to face similar hostilities (hopefully not, but a real possibility); the only response has to be a positive Christian apologia, ie dialogue with muslims to include in prayer and through God's grace to lead them to faith in Jesus, Christ crucified; it would appear Islam is not prepared for dialogue per se, but the Church has the Holy Spirit!

  • louella

    Yes…I can see that we will have to face similar situations in the future, and that is thanks to secularism and secular governments who have opened the floodgates to Islam while Christianity has been virtually destroyed in the West. This is a terrible betrayal and we must prepare to defend ourselves against demographic onslaught by Islam.

    I am not discounting diaglogue and conversion – but I feel Islam is more likey to convert lapsed Christians and atheists by fair means and foul. We can't even seem to convert our own brother and sister secularists….yet anyhow. I believe in a proper concrete defence with the return of the Catholic State again which always defended the West from Islam in the past. Secular governments have undone all their sacrifice and left us defenceless – in the mistaken and treacherous belief that all religions are equal!!

  • PhilipH

    I feel that it's wrong to blame Bush and Blair for something that I believe was going to happen anyway. After all, what's Osama Bin Laden's worst nightmare? My guess would be a prosperous, stable Middle East where human rights and freedom of religion are guaranteed. The only way for Al Qaeda and its allies to prevent this is to drive all Western and “foreign” influence out of the Middle East, starting with the Christians. Only that way can the “ideal” Islamic state they want flourish. I would guess that Al Qaeda probably fears western freedoms and Western culture far more than it fears the West's bombs and bullets. So while the situation in the Middle East is indeed tragic for the Christians there and it must be terrible for them, I see the attempt to drive them out as a sign of weakness on behalf of Al Qaeda and its allies. Like king Cnut, they're trying to hold back a tide that cannot be stopped.

  • elaine Kane

    stop investing in weapons and war as taught by Christ in the N T “he who lives by the sword etc
    as these bring povertyand fear to all.
    challenge provocative soundbites used by our representatives -whatever the context – and decry the language of aggression .push for USA as leader of the packto bow to the jurisdiction of the ICJ
    weneed to fund aid and development and to build links with Islam “eye hath not seen not heart contained those things which God has prepared for those who love him ” text we share in the bible and the koran
    protect Aramaic, the language of Christ (schlamaa is the word we should use for peace especially given the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel) and protect the Assyrian Christian church without
    name change to people or place. Let us honour the roots in Messopotamia of all Christian fellowship and pray for Schlamaa for Christ s peace which Christians and Muslims share so happily in Ephesus where Mary
    lived – honoured by Muslims and Christians alike.
    Elaine Kane

  • Victor Weston

    it is indisputable under Saddam Hussein the Christians in Iraq were safe (comparatively); people like Tariq Aziz were able to hold positions of influence – when it was a secular regime; how can it be denied that Bush and Blair's regime change has been a disaster: effectively resulting in the Christian community being scapegoated and inaugurating the “clash of civilisations” that otherwise might not have been inevitable

    Which tide cannot be stopped?, I think the verdict is out on that!

  • Camilo88

    If Christians go out, for islam fundamentalist movements will be very obvious that can go ahead killing anywhere, country by country and places (like New York, London, Madrid, Paris, etc). Until the disapearance of every christian from anyehwere. So, what christians sould do? It is easy the answer:-or surrender, dying; or resisting. I am not killer like Blair, Bush, Obama and Iraq regimen. I dont agree to kill muslim people or other people with religion or no religion. But I dont like also peole, muslim or not, killing me. So, even we like or not, no solution, we must resist. The christians should stay with extra support of every christians and all countries respecting religion freedom. But how, knowing us, like we know, USA and England Governments are the ones opened (and still opening) the forest's doors helping the wolves killing christians? Only Russia and Pope are pleading to Iraq's Government “stop, dont kill more peoples”. We Christians, really, really, we are very weak, without protection and with too many betraitors like Bush and Blair, namening themselves as christians by words but, objectively, by their actions, killing or sending muslims to kill us!

  • Camilo88

    So, you think the solution is to transfer to London and New York the atacks against christians? May is that also what Bush, Blair and al-qaeda want! Everythings what they did and still going on seems they are allies!

  • The Name

    Yes. Absolutely. The world should be divided according to religion. The Christians in one place, The Muslims in a second and The Jews in Israel. And the atheists on Mars.