11/13/2010, 00.00
MIDDLE EAST

Christians in the Middle East essential for the survival of the Arab world

For the Saudi journalist Mshari Al - Zaydi, fundamentalism and the economic crisis have overshadowed the importance of Christians to Muslims in the construction of their countries. Arab society is self-destructing and attacks against minorities are an excuse to vent the blame on someone for the failures of the Islamic world. "Pluralism is the best protection against ignorance and intolerance."

London (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Christians are an essential part of the Middle East. Jesus himself was born in Palestine and was baptized on the banks of the Jordan. The Arab nations should co-exist with them and defend them. " This, the assertion of Mshari Al - Zaydi, Saudi journalist and expert on Islam in Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic newspaper based in London.

In an article entitled "Our citizens Arab Christians" published today, Mshari examines the plight of Christians in the Middle East, starting with the recent attack against the church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. He writesThe bloody assault on Baghdad's Church of Our Lady of Salvation has opened the door to a bigger question about the fate of Christian citizens in Middle Eastern countries, and the future of their presence there. Furthermore, it has exposed an Arab and Islamic wound, and we must get to the source of this crisis”.

Mashari stresses that recent events in Iraq is just the latest chapter in a campaign of murder that has as its goal to drive all Iraqi Christians from Mosul to Baghdad. "What is happening in Iraq – he continues - cannot be exclusively attributed to the deterioration of the security situation and the stagnation of the political condition. We cannot say that the attacks on Iraq's Christians is a direct result of American incitement in the region, or part of some secret plan to drive a wedge between the people Iraq. " The journalist mentions, in addition to the episodes in Iraq, attacks and other situations of intolerance against Christians and other minorities in Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and other Muslim-majority countries.

Citing the Lebanese intellectual Radwan al-Sayyid, Mshari points out that the situation experienced by Christians does not depend only on the growth of Islamic extremism and its rhetoric against the West. He points out that the economic crisis contributes to the exodus of Christians and is often the real excuse for the attacks against minorities.

"We suffer from a self-consuming syndrome in our Arab societies - he says -, and a desire to search for a scapegoat to blame for our general failure and decline. The minorities have always represented this scapegoat to the radicals and extremisms; with these minorities becoming the object of condemnation, taking the blame for polluting our nations. The idea that there is a pure untainted national identity with its own unique characteristics is a form of intellectual naivety. However the most dangerous thing about this is that it is an idea that resonates with the instincts of the general public who are looking for a demon to blame for society's ills".

Mshari stresses that Christians have taken part alongside the Muslims in the construction of the various Arab nations. "The ideas of those years - he says - served – and continue to serve – as categories for political identity, which have included many Arab intellectuals under non-religious and non-sectarian banners". For the journalist the nature of the Arab world must be reconsidered starting from those ideas which previously succeeded in removing the influence of religious extremism, taking the best from various faiths. "If the Christian presence is removed completely from the Arab world – he concludes - this region will be characterized solely by Muslims and lose its Arab identity." "Pluralism - Mshari insists - is the best protection against ignorance and intolerance."

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