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The difficult situation affecting christians in the Middle East

The Middle East is an area of diverse cultures, traditions and religions – a world of many contrasts. Its countries range from some of the richest - Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – to some of the world?s poorest..

The region extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, from the valleys of the Nile to Turkey.

20 million Christians live there - 5.6 percent of the population. The country with the most Christians is Egypt, with about 11.5 million.

Countries with fewest Christians are Yemen, with 45,000, Bahrain with 79,500, and Oman with 126,000.

The conditions under which Christians live vary between different countries. Almost always it depends on the relationship with Muslims.

Fr. David Maria Jaeger

Custody of the Holy Land

In the new Iraq there are worrying signs that the country could become an Islamist theocracy [...] 11.45," In Israel, as peace is far away, and postponed until the end of the occupation. There is a strengthening of militant Islam in the face of a secular vision.”

In Jordan, the Christian religion is taught in schools, also in Egypt, while in Saudi Arabia any expression of the Christian faith is prohibited.

Franciscan Father David Jaeger is one of the participants of the synod. He knows the situation of Christians in the Holy Land, and has witnessed the decline of Christians in the Middle East. Some escape the conflicts that plague many of these countries, others flee the political and economic uncertainty.

Fr. David Maria Jaeger

Custody of the Holy Land

"No country today authorizes the explicit state persecution of Catholics or Christians. Naturally, there are countries where the situation for Christians and Catholics is getting worse. For example in Iraq, the secular elements of the state are less than in the preceding Iraq.

The occupied Palestinian territories, consisting of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are the places from where most Christians have fled. On the one hand, because they live under a military occupation and secondly, because of a strengthened Islamist regime.

The prospects for Christians in the Holy Land, says Fr. Jaeger, is the same as in the rest of the Middle East. Until they have peace, many will continue to flee in search of safety.