CME 2023 Special Report | Resilience in the Eye of the Storm: The Christian Communities in Lebanon

The field research was conducted between the 20th and 28th of February, 2023 in Lebanon. The Christianity in the Middle East (CME) team interviewed stakeholders from Lebanon's numerous and diverse Christian communities. Within the broader framework of CME’s project titled “Christianity and Religious Pluralism in the Modern Middle East: International Politics and Religion at the turn of the 20th and 21st century”, the particular research explored how the Lebanese Christian communities view themselves and interpret the challenges they face. Moreover, the aim of the research was to provide a better understanding of intra-Christian relations and their implications on the Lebanese political scene. Finally, the study sought to explore the difference between the religious and political leaderships’ perspectives regarding the future of the Christian communities in Lebanon.

The field research 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).

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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).

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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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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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