Christians fleeing the Middle East

The Pope visited Jordan. The Christians are fleeing the region
The Pope visited Jordan. The Christians are fleeing the region

Christians used to be a vital force in the Middle East. They dominated Lebanon and filled top jobs in the Palestinian movement. In Egypt, they were wealthy beyond their number.

In Iraq, they packed the universities and professions. But as Pope Benedict XVI wends his way across the Holy Land this week, he is addressing a dwindling and threatened Christian population driven to emigration by political violence, lack of economic opportunity and the rise of radical Islam.

A region that a century ago was 20 per cent Christian is about 5 per cent today and dropping. In Lebanon, Christians now amount to a quarter of the population. A century ago there were millions of Christians in what is today Turkey; now there are 150,000. In Bethlehem, Christians now make up barely a third of the population after centuries of being 80 per cent. Of the 1.4 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, nearly half have fled.

Source: New York Times.

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