Book: From Pluralism to Extinction? Perspectives and Challenges for Christians in the Middle East

Edited by Sotiris Roussos
Published: 16 July 2023 [Mediterranean Politics Series: 5]

Paperback: ISBN: 978-1-80135-224-6 Buy from Amazon | Buy on
Digital version: ISBN: 978-1-80135-225-3 Read on Google Play | Read on Kindle | Read on CEEOL | Read on

Christian communities are deeply rooted in the Middle East, starting their witness since the first centuries of Christianity. The last hundred years of Middle East Christianity’s history went through a series of profound crises. Displacement by war, genocide and occupation leading to loss, emigration and exile seem to be the main experience of Christianity in the modern Middle East. Against this background of displacement, Christians have sought to resettle and build anew when allowed. They have been able to make significant cultural, political and economic contribution to Middle Eastern societies. In the last thirty years they are again facing ominous threat of extinction. Entering the new millennium, they are confronted with major difficulties and transformations in world politics. From 2011 Christians particularly in Syria and Iraq, have been suffering death and destruction in the hands of extremist Islamist groups.

The volume is a fresh approach to the study of the Christian communities in the Middle East examining their relation to state, identity and politics. It questions main presuppositions and perceptions regarding Christianity in the Middle East, casts new light on the living Christian communities in the region and reflects on their future role.

Research for the book was funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the ‘First Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Faculty members and Researchers and the procurement of high-cost research equipment grant’ (Project Number: 1422).

Pin It

Read more ...

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.

Pin It

Read more ...

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.

Pin It

Read more ...