dinsdag 24 augustus 2010

In het M-O neemt alleen in Israel het aantal christenen toe.

 
In Time van deze week staat een overzicht van het aantal moslims in het Westen.

 

·      VS:        van de 305,5 miljoen inwoners is      2,5 miljoen moslim

·      Duitsland:   van de 82 miljoen inwoners is      3,2-3,4 miljoen moslim

·      Frankrijk:    van de 65 miljoen inwoners is      5,5 miljoen moslim

·      Engeland:   van de 62 miljoen inwoners is      2,4 miljoen moslim

·      Spanje:       van de 46 miljoen inwoners is      800.000 moslim

·      Canada:      van de 34 miljoen inwoners is     1 miljoen moslim.

 

Deze aantallen nemen gestaag toe.

Vergelijk dit met het aantal christenen in het Midden-Oosten en je ziet dramatische verschillen.

Waar in het Westen het aantal moslims stijgt, daalt het aantal christenen in het Midden-Oosten heel snel, alleen in Israel neemt het aantal christenen toe.

 

 

MS

~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The Christian Communities Throughout the Middle East - A Review

 

 

·      The Christian community in Israel

 

·     The main elements

 

·      The Israeli Christian Arab community is perceived to this day by the Christian world as one of the most important Christian communities in the world. Since Christianity originated in the Land of Israel, the community is considered to be the true followers of the emissaries of the Christian religion for the past 2,000 years. The community has undertaken the mission of serving the general population in many fields, including education, medicine and society. Members of the community have always acted to promote humanitarian values and peace among the various communities that make up the ethnic mosaic in Israel. These values are based on mutual respect, accepting the differences in other ethnic communities and viewing them in a positive light, as a source of social enrichment and not as a threat; and instilling values of justice and peace. It is this philosophy that has given the Christian Arab community its special nature, in Israel and throughout the Middle East, and perhaps even beyond. Recently, there has been a political leadership crisis in the Christian community, leading it to lose its dominant role among the minorities in Israel. Nevertheless, one of the Christian religious leaders, Archbishop Elias Shakur, head of the Greek-Catholic Melkite Church, plays a positive role in the relations between the various religions and communities in Israel and is a major partner in interfaith dialogues.

 

·      Since the establishment of the State, the Christian population has produced local and national leadership whose nationalist positions have been identified with the Palestinian struggle, a natural result of the political environment. The national leadership, through parties such as Rakah and independent parties such as al-Tajammu, has taken an anti-Israel line; for example, former MK Azmi Bishara preferred to leave the country rather than face charges of treason against the State and assisting Hezbollah during the last war in the north. Leadership arose on the local level but did not exhibit any particular predominance.

 

·      The Christian population of Israel, which constitutes about 2% of the total population, was estimated at about 125,000 people in 2009, an increase of almost 2,000 from the previous year, with an additional 29,000 foreigners. The natural growth rate is now 2.1%. The largest segment of the Christian population, over 50%, is the Greek-Catholic Melkite community. The second largest segment, 35%, is the Greek Orthodox community. The remaining communities are the Latin, Maronite, Anglican Lutheran, Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian Coptic and others.

 

·      The Christian population, a minority within a minority, suffers more than a little from the Islamic majority. In 1948, the Christians constituted the majority in Nazareth and in various villages, but that changed with the beginning of the Muslim migration to the Christian villages. The worsening relations between the Muslims and the Christians as well as demographic changes have heightened the Christians' sense of insecurity and their desire to leave the country.  In Nazareth, which is sacred to Christians, the Christian majority has become the minority.

 

·      The governments of Israel have supported the Christian communities and encouraged them to remain in Israel. In disputes with the Muslims, the state has backed the Christians; for example, it prevented the construction of the Shihab al-Din Mosque near the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

 

·      Aside from the tensions with other communities and minorities, the population complains of inequality and unemployment among its educated members. In recent years, there has been an initiative by young Christians to volunteer for the IDF and the police and, simultaneously, a sizable integration into public administration (government ministries).

 

·      Pope Benedict XVI, who visited Israel in May 2009, met with the heads of the local Catholic Church and called upon them to continue their presence in the Holy Land.

 

 

·      Breakdown of the Christian population in the Middle East

 

·      Christians now constitute only 5% of all residents of the Middle East and the percentage has declined over the years. The largest Christian community in the Middle East is in Egypt: 8 million Copts who belong to the Orthodox Church. In comparison, in Lebanon up to the end of the 1940s, the Christian community constituted the majority, but today they are a minority of 30% of the population.

 

·      Breakdown of the Christian communities in Middle East countries )end of 2007 unless otherwise indicated):

 

 

·      Country

·      Percentage of Christians in the population

·      Number of Christian residents

·      Total population

·      1

·      Lebanon 

·      30%

·      1,290,000

·      4,300,000

·      2

·      Kuwait

·      15%

·      345,000

·      2,300,000

·      3

·      Egypt

·      11%

·      7,832,000

·      71,200,000

·      4

·      Qatar

·      10%

·      61,800

·      618,000

·      5

·      Syria

·      10%

·      1,720,000

·      17,200,000

·      6

·      Bahrain

·      9%

·      60,300

·      670,000

·      7

·      United Arab Emirates

·      7%

·      240,000

·      3,500,000

·      8

·      Iraq (estimate – 2009)

·      2.5%

·      600,000

·      23,600,000

·      9

·      Saudi Arabia

·      4%

·      960,000

·      24,000,000

·      10

·      Oman

·      4%

·      104,000

·      2,600,000

·      11

·      Jordan

·      4%

·      212,000

·      5,300,000

·      12

·      Israel - (Central Bureau of Statistics 2009)

·      2.1%

125,000 + 29,000 foreign workers

Jerusalem:

10,000 [15,000]

·      7,500,000

·      13

·      Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (2009)

·      2%

Gaza: 2,500 [4,000]

Judea and Samaria:

50,000 [70,000]

Total ~54,000

·       

·      3,100,000

·      14

·      Yemen

·      1%

·      186,000

·      18,600,000

·      15

·      Iran (estimate)

·      1%

·      656,000

·      65,600,000

·      16

·      Turkey

·      1%

·      673,000

·      67,300,000

 

 

·      Christians in the Arab world

 

·      The Christian community in the Arab world today comprises over 13.5 million people. Lately, Christians have been emigrating from Arab countries and the size of the community is declining every day. Below are examples from several countries:

 

·      In Iraq the population has suffered and continues to suffer from severe harassment and murders. This has created massive pressure to emigrate. Before the war the local Christian population was 1.2 million people while today the population has dwindled to barely 600,000. Iraqi Christians have emigrated to the West, to Australia and to Jordan.

 

·      In Egypt there are about 8 million Copts who belong to the Orthodox Church. This population has suffered in the past and continues to suffer from severe harassment by the extremist Islamic movements, and restrictions imposed on them by the government in everything connected with building houses of worship for the Coptic community in Egypt.

 

·      Last Christmas Eve (2009), six Copts were murdered by extremist Muslims on the pretext that Coptic youths had raped a young Muslim woman. As a result, the Muslims wreaked revenge on the Coptic community. This was not the only such occurrence in Egypt. Over the years many Copts have been murdered for religious reasons, which has caused part of the Coptic community to emigrate from Egypt for religious as well as economic reasons - lack of jobs for the local Coptic community.

 

·      In Lebanon, the land of the Catholic Maronites, this population numbers 1.3 million residents. It suffered for years from harassment by Muslims and today the Christian majority has dwindled and become a minority, while the Shi'ites have become the majority. The Christian population has suffered, past and present, from ethnic and religious harassment on the part of the local population. History shows that even back in the 19th century this population suffered greatly, and during the civil war, it suffered from the Palestinians and the local Muslims.

 

·      At the end of the civil war, the local government stabilized and there is a reasonable sense of security that enables the Christians to continue to live there. This has slowed the large waves of emigration, and many emigrants have returned to Lebanon. However, violent events such as the wars in the north and the strengthening of Hezbollah have caused the local Christian population to consider the option of emigration.

 

·      The preeminent religious figure in Lebanon is the Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir. In the recent political crises, he was a very decisive factor in the struggles between the Shi'ite Muslims and the Maronite Christians. His power was particularly strengthened after the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri - the  Sunni and Christian majority defeated the Shi'ite parties in the last two elections. This helped to strengthen the local Christians to some extent.

 

·      In Jordan the Christian population, which is estimated at 220,000 people, is considered a stable and strong population. The Hashemite regime supports and assists the Christian population, allowing it to hold its religious ceremonies undisturbed. The regime also tries to develop religious tourism ventures in the area of the Jordan River, which increases the traffic of Christian pilgrims to Jordan. Additionally, the Jordanian administration maintains warm and friendly relations with the heads of the churches, particularly the Latin Catholic Patriarch Fuad Tuwal, who is a member of the Hashemite royal family and the senior Catholic clergyman in the region.

 

·      In Syria the size of the Christian population is estimated at around 1.75 million people, living with a degree of stability and without religious persecution. The Alawi regime supports and assists the Christian communities, which enables their lives to continue in Syria.

 

·      The Greek Catholic Patriarch Laham, who is domiciled in Damascus, is the senior Christian figure of the Catholic Church in Syria.

 

  

 

·      Mr. Ashley Perry

·      Deputy Foreign Minister's Office

·      Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

 

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