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memri
June 23, 2008 No.
1965

Jordanian Columnist and Former Minister Laments the Emigration of Christians from the Middle East Caused by Their Persecution

In the wake of the growing tensions between Copts and Muslims in Egypt, which were precipitated by the murder of four Copts in Alexandria and by violent attacks on Copts by Muslims in Upper Egypt,[1] former Jordanian information minister Salah Al-Qallab published an article in which he called for peaceful coexistence between the majority Muslim population and Christian communities in the Middle East.

The following are excerpts from the article[2]:

"[Egypt] Has a Group Afflicted with the Madness of Blind Extremism and Factionalism"

"This is an issue of utmost gravity; it must be considered and treated extremely conscientiously. The recent attack on a Copt-owned jewelry store, in which several Copts were killed, as well as a succession of previous attacks in Alexandria, Cairo, and Upper Egypt, indicate that [in Egypt], there is a group afflicted with the madness of blind extremism and factionalism [directed against] different ethnic communities. [This group] is determined to do away with tolerance, which has distinguished this country throughout its long history, and to fan the flames of civil war [fitna] between [people] who share the same homeland, history, and culture, i.e. between Muslims and Christians.

"What is truly frightening is that the incidents in Egypt, which are contrary to the spirit of the country, the regime, and the Egyptian people, are currently occurring in Iraq as well. There, churches and priests' residences have become targets for religious extremists, who refuse to accept any color other than black – the black that [permeates] their hatred-filled hearts. [These extremists] are pushing the societies of the large [Middle] East – which has [traditionally] been the cradle of all monotheistic religions and of cultural and ideological pluralism – towards imperviousness, which hardens hearts, [deadens] emotions, and clogs up pores, preventing them from [absorbing] fresh, soul-reviving breezes.

"The Multicultural [Middle] East Will Become a Large, Unyielding, Lifeless Rock"

"The Israelis are harassing Christians in Palestine in all kinds of devilish ways. Only recently, on week days and holidays alike, Jerusalem used to reverberate with the ringing of the bells of its ancient churches and with the cries [of the muezzins] from its eternal mosques; today, it has practically been transformed into a ruined and lifeless city… Only silent walls are left, and [the Jews], seeking proof for their temporary presence [in Jerusalem], are searching under them [i.e. the Old City walls] for corroboration for their legends and idle beliefs. The flight of Christians from this country is distressing as well as ominous for both the Palestinians and Palestine; it is also a serious problem with respect to the Arabs' rights, which have begun to disappear from this part of the vast Arab homeland. [Equally distressing is the fact] that [Christians] have almost vanished from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nazareth, and the Galilee. It is especially worrying that this mass emigration, whose rate has grown rapidly in the past three decades, is being openly facilitated by American churches, as well as by organizations and bodies that are clearly connected with Zionist lobbies.

"If the harassment of Christians in the region continues, we will soon become like a dying tree. The multicultural [Middle] East, with its variety of possibilities for man to connect to god, will become a large, unyielding, and lifeless rock. In its conception of pluralism, the essentially moderate and tolerant Muslim religion rejects this [tendency]. [Thus,] the Koran says [49:13]: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other)."

"It is a great pity that Iraq is being divested of its Christian cultural component. The Christians, through their monasteries, churches, and monks, used to serve as a link connecting the Greek-Byzantine culture with the early Arab Islamic culture… It is a shame that in the country of two great rivers [Iraq] there is nothing left but a sectarian war between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis and between the Arabs and the Kurds. It is a shame that the Sabaites and the Mandaeans, with their pure hearts, clean garments, deep-rooted customs, traditions, and spiritual heritage, will disappear [from Iraq], and that their place will be taken by a black[-hearted] fiend, who is not loathe to blow up children and [nursing] mothers in Shi'ite places of worship… and in Sunni mosques.

"Some Are Acting in the Name of an Imaginary Divine Victory, Aiming to Disrupt the Ancient Balance"

"Tremendous pressure is being brought against Christians in Lebanon, whose roots in that country go down as deep as those of eternal cedars, and whose presence there goes back to the Beirut School of Law [i.e., the Hellenistic era]. There are some who are acting in the name of an imaginary divine victory [i.e. Nasrallah] and are aiming to disrupt the ancient balance – a foundation upon which this beautiful country has been resting since the rise of its independence, namely, a union between Islam and Christianity – which they seek to supplant with a tripartite arrangement comprising the Sunni, the Shi'ites, and the Christians. This is an attempt to harm the Christian presence in [Lebanon] – a country among whose citizens the Arabs have established coexistence, [in contrast to] a single-religion model, which is the foundation of the State of Israel."

[1] http://www.aljarida.com/aljarida/Article.aspx?id=63350

[2] Al-Rai (Jordan), June 4, 2008.