Christianity in the Middle East (CME) | Report no.1

The aim of the CME report is to present and address the main features related to Christians living in the Middle East in regard to religious plularism and peaceful coexistence. The region of focus includes Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Moreover, emphasis is attributed to the relationship between the state and its institutions with the Christian communities, as well as in pinpoiting the factors and effects related to the Christian exodus from the Middle East. The documentation of the report reflects the research openly available on the CME website and serves as a database for the living conditions of the Christians in the Middle East. The CME reports are an ongoing endeavour, aiming at providing continuous updates on the state of religious pluralism for the Christians of the Middle East. The findings presented, therefore, are not exhaustive, but highlight main trends and continuities.

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Christians in Syria and Iraq: From Co-optation to Militarisation Strategies

Author: Sotiris Roussos & Stavros Drakoularakos

Publication: Studies in World Christianity

DOI: 10.3366/swc.2022.0403

After the eruption of civil strife in Syria and Iraq, widespread violence and harassment, mainly by jihadist groups, came to substantiate fears for the extinction of the Christians. Various jihadist groups have perpetrated an ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians. The paper will examine another alternative to co-optation, a survival strategy that has developed among the Christians in Iraq and Syria, that of armed resistance and the organisation of militias. This militarisation trend reveals serious inner-communal disagreements. Caught among regional antagonisms and suspicious of the ascendent Sunni, Shia and Kurdish political aspirations and nationalisms, the idea of self-determination and self-government in an autonomous zone around Nineveh seems the best alternative to state co-optation. The paper will also look into the evolving relationship of the Christian communities with the state, the Muslim majorities, the other non-Muslim communities and the international community in a system of overlapping authority and multiple loyalty in the region.

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The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and survival strategies of Christian communities in Greater Syria

Author: Sotiris Roussos

Publication: Contemporary Levant

DOI: 10.1080/20581831.2021.1881719

Published online: 24 February 2021

The millet system compartmentalised religious communities into different sociopolitical environments under the overarching Ottoman imperial realm. However, during the nineteenth century, state transformation and crisis and the global re-allocation of political and economic power led to the exacerbation of ethnoreligious conflicts. Facing the collapse of the Ottoman imperium and the threat of extinction, the Greek Orthodox, Assyrian, Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox communities developed five survival strategies. The first was co-optation by state authorities; the second, protection of the Great Powers; the third armed resistance and the creation of autonomous enclaves; the fourth was that of exodus; and the last was to integrate themselves into Arab nationalism, lowering the banner of religion and becoming strong advocates of an Arab national identity encompassing Muslims and Christians alike. This paper aims to present a comparative approach to these strategies in the period from the beginning of the twentieth century to the formation of the Mandates.

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