This has been a difficult couple of years for Christians in the Middle East. There has been an increasing number of attacks on churches across the region, such as the attack on the al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria, Egypt, on New Year’s Eve, which killed more than 20, and last November’s attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, which killed more than 50.
But will the recent wave of social uprising, in which many examples of Muslim-Christian cooperation have been reported, change the political topography of the Middle East for the good? Will the political changes improve the situation of Christians in the region? A quick glance at the last 100 years -- and present-day trends -- does not offer a promising picture.
In the last century, Middle Eastern Christians have faced three major tidal waves of persecution. First, after World War I rearranged political boundaries, the nation-states in the region set out to form homogenized nations and authoritarian regimes. This proved fatal for many, including more than a million Armenians (whose ancestors were one of the first groups of people to become Christians), who experienced what is widely seen as a genocide under Ottoman rule.