Rome (AsiaNews) - Habib Mohammed Hadi Sadr, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the Holy See, wrote this article on the position and role of Arab Christians in the Middle East at the present time.
The Arab Spring regards Arab Christians; there has been growing criticism against them for the position some of them have expressed over the riots in Arab countries, some analysts believe that there will be a revival of Arab Christians thanks to what is taking place in the Arab world, and not what happened in the past. Christ has never been a model for dictators, and there are those who believe that a true, sincere Christian-Muslim dialogue can be born of the revolution, or in the period that will follow the revolution.
There are people who criticize the attitude of some of the Arab Christians against the current protest, who recall with admiration the noble position that Arab Christians during the Ottoman Empire at the time of the Arab liberation movements , and the very negative attitude of Christians towards the French and British policies in the Middle East, and in particular against the plans and behaviour of the Zionists in the occupied Arab territories.
The reality calls for a neutral and realistic analysis of the differing positions. So then we must first recognize an important fact: the Arab Christian component is a minority within the society in which they live. There is no denying the importance and weight of their role, through different historical periods, but the number counts, and the weight of the majority is completely different from that of the minority. This minority is alarmed. It fears that the political, social and economic turmoil which erupted unexpectedly, motivated by emotions rather than clear programs, and which does not take account of internal and international conditions, can have serious consequences on the lives of minorities, and open the way for an unknown and terrible future.
The first Arab revolts received the full support of the Arab world, but today this is no longer the case. For example, the societies in countries where there is a revolt - Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain – are divided on how the prospect of change and demands for democratic reforms. In some places there are calls for a peaceful solution, and protests against foreign interference, but elsewhere there are those who use violence and confrontation, and there are those who rely on armed protests and use foreign forces to overthrow the regime. The situation is made more difficult by the attitude of the international community and the UN Security Council. Each party is acting according to his own interests, analysis and strategies to operate in the present and future of the region. And this situation means that Arab Christians should wait before committing themselves, to avoid any errors in assessing all probabilities.
It is also only natural that Christians should mistrust these protests, fearing that they will be led by radical Islamic forces who want to seize power, based on the fact that they are more organized and have a greater, more effective ability to shuffle the cards. These are forces that have shed blood and desecrated Christian churches. As a result Arab Christians find themselves having to choose between accepting authoritarian systems, but with a certain amount of secularism, which guarantee freedom of religion, or a totally different type systems. They choose what seems to them the lesser of two evils.
What makes the problem complex and scene confusing is the lack of a convincing alternative to the systems protesters want to change. In addition, the protest movements do not have a unified command, a clear, specific program or trend. This situation allows opportunists to ride the wave of protest and direct the protest towards extremist goals. Arab Christians wisely use their position to make a decision. They see the danger of the conflicts between demonstrators and power, the killing of innocent people, destruction of property and the blocking of interests. They believe that peaceful solutions, the search for sober and discreet dialogue between people and rulers, opening the way for necessary reforms and restructuring are the best way to avert the possibility of external intervention in the water made increasingly cloudy by the riots.
The aspiration to satisfy the desire of Arab citizens for a democratic model to achieve the peaceful transfer of power by recourse to the polls is a right of citizens, but can only be reached with the constitutional rights, not with the method and language of bullets.
Arab Christians are no better than their brothers, but carry a very powerful voice of wisdom in the management of this crisis. They too are victims of what the dictatorial regimes of Arab countries have produced, namely marginalization in decision-making, silence and a condition of second-class citizens, and for this reason a large number of them decided to emigrate from their country, in search of freedom and dignity.
These reasons have led to a closure, demographic decline and their current role. This region is their birthplace, the historic cradle of the monotheistic religions.
The Holy See, worried, decided to convene a synod of bishops dedicated to the Middle East in October last year, to study this serious problem and take the necessary measures to stop this trend. The basic belief is that the wealth of this region lies in the plurality and diversity that exists within the various nations: religion, language, history and coexistence between different faiths. Christian ethics and culture are centred on a system of values that are opposed to injustice, far removed from corruption, and open to the concept of freedom. The message of Jesus Christ to people is rejection of authoritarianism, and the promotion of virtue and the renunciation of all forms of hatred, violence and coercion.
Therefore, after all that we have seen, we must accept the attitude of Christians, encouraging them to interpret what is right and logical, depending on each context, and not to give importance to unfounded accusations, they are our compatriots, we have everything in common, Homeland, purpose and destiny.