The rapidly diminishing number of Middle East Christians is worrying and preposterous as it draws perplexing conclusions.
What draws amazement and frustration is that Christians who constituted about 8-10 per cent of the Syrian population a decade ago have dropped to about 3 per cent. This huge drop is incomprehensible. The real danger lies in the possibility of a continued or rather escalated hemorrhage of the Christian Syrians. This means that some two-thirds of Syria’s Christian population has fled the country since the start of the civil war in the spring of 2011.
What fueled the exodus is attributed to a decline in economic difficulties, lack of resources, general impoverishment due to sanctions, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fr. Ibrahim Al-Sabbagh, custodian and priest of the Latin parish of Aleppo, has recently addressed the difficulties encountering the Christian Syrians, especially the youth population, in a “Letter to friends”. He asserts that “there are many problems that block the possible recovery of Syria which favors the continuous exodus.”
On the other hand reports indicate that various Christian groups are undertaking initiatives aimed at attaining unity and collaboration being the only way to acquire greater economic, social and political presence. In this regard, a decision was made by the Assyrian Democratic Organization and the Syriac Union Party to start talks “to boost their influence in the country”.
The dwindling presence of Syrian Christians will definitely eliminate a key factor of diversity as well as inflict serious and irreparable damage due to the fact that they are an essential component of Syrian history and culture. This is attributed to their indispensable contribution to the advancement of society particularly in the fields of education, medicine, science, and engineering which directly impacts the economy in general.
It is undeniable that the Christian Syrians have served as a cornerstone for stability and enlightenment as they played major roles in the progress of their societies in various fields. They are acclaimed for their most prominent role in various fields of life including education as Christian schools are widely credited as the best and most desirable educational institutions. In the field of health, Christian missionaries built hospitals and health centers that help provide advanced medical care to all segments of society.
The diminishing number of Christian Syrians has gargantuan proportions as it will drift the country into a state bereft of diversity, excellence, and sublime services. This exigent issue, which keeps lingering in the hearts and minds of peace-loving people who seek to attain common living and peace, needs to be immediately addressed.
The attrition of Christian communities in Syria will leave the country void of their invaluable contribution to meaningful and tangible progress. It is the duty of the world leaders to immediately undertake tangible steps that ensure the safety and security of Christians in Syria through launching projects that fight unemployment and help create a better future. The wheel of the economy needs to be lubricated and be concomitant with guarantees for a stable and prosperous future which preserves the Christians Syrians’ presence in the land of their ancestors.
By: Munir Bayouk