This year, as dictators have fallen (or at least been knocked off balance), there was a hope that the “Arab Spring” would somehow loosen up attitudes and relieve the centuries-old pressure that the Middle East’s religious minorities have been under from their Muslim oppressors. Christians are not the only oppressed religions in the melting pot of the Middle East. Assyrians, Baha’i, Copts, Jews; they are all classed in Islam as “dhimmis” – theoretically protected by their Muslim masters but in fact kept under conditions that range from tolerance to outright servitude and poverty.
It has to be said, though, that it is persecution of Christians that seems to get most of the headlines! This article itemises instances of serious violence and abuse that were carried out in the Muslim world just in September. As you can see, this is not just a campaign by one government or one cultural group, but widespread persecution taking place right through the Muslim world.
There is nothing more powerful than the real stories of individual people, people like Sudanese Simon Deng – an ex-slave from South Sudan. At a conference in New York in September this year, Simon gave a fascinating perspective on the persecution of minorities in the wider Middle East and looked at the Israel-Palestinian dispute in the light of it. you can read his interesting article here.
Sadly, the Arab Spring is not bringing about enlightenment and positive changes in religious relationships in the Middle East; rather there is a serious likelihood that the Arab Spring is becoming a Christian Winter – fuelled by the hatred and bigotry of the elusive and pervasive Muslim Brotherhood.
We will be including further news and comment on the persecution of minorities in the Middle East along with our other material.