14 January 2013, 18:26

Persecution of Christians: natural effect of the Arab Spring

Persecution of Christians: natural effect of the Arab Spring
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More than 100 million Christians were persecuted worldwide in 2012, the annual Open Doors World Watch List survey said Monday. Open Doors is a group of activists supporting persecuted Christians around the world. According to its report the worse conditions for practicing Christianity are in Saudi Arabia North Korea and Afghanistan.

Christians in the Arab Spring countries, like Syria, are also seeing rapidly worsening conditions. Thus, Syria jumped from 36th to 11th rank on the list as its Christian minority has increasingly become a target for radical Islamist fighters, the report said.

Maronite Bishop Samir Mazloum in Lebanon, discussed the problem with the Voice of Russia.

"Today, Christians of the Middle East risk not only their rights but their lives. The Arab Spring in Egypt made life of Christians harder, but Syrian Christians suffer even more. They are now an easy target for terrorists. Moreover, people in Syria are being brainwashed that Christians were never important for the country and a mono-nation and mono-religion model is being promoted. These ideas contradict our entire history."

Egypt is also becoming tough for Christians due to the rise of Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to power. The group changed the country’s constitution and some experts say the changes dragged Egypt back to the Middle Ages.

The Russian-based Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society has also registered the escalation of violence against Christians which, it says, is a becoming a common trend.

However, some experts claim that things are not that bad. Expert in Oriental Studies Sergey Demidenko is one of them.

"I wouldn’t be speaking about a targeted persecution in the Middle East as its radical Islamists haven’t so far grabbed the power in the region but they are, definitely, on the rise. I mean Salafites which enjoy great support in Egypt and forces which are struggling for power in Syria.

The Middle East became tough for Christians due to economic and political crisis which affects everyone but Christians have also become targets of local government. Maybe this trend will continue. The new governments will sooner or later have to tackle social and economic problems which they can’t handle. So they will do what they can do best - search for domestic enemies, “the fifth column”- then hard times for Christians will come."

While some still hope for the optimistic scenario, facts support claims about the world entering a new stage of radical interreligious relations. Some analysts predict a new wave of religious wars so maybe the West (Europe at first place) prematurely put religion off its geopolitical agenda.

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