Christians in Mideast Losing Numbers and Influence

[New York Times] Ethan Bronner - 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% Christian is about 5% 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%. Of the 1.4 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, nearly half have fled.

2009-05-13 06:00:00

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