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The Big Exodus - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Chile, which is located in the western side of the southern tip of South America and which is far geographically and culturally from the Middle East, has become a safe haven for an increasing number of Christian Palestinians. In the capital Santiago, there are over 70,000 Christian Palestinians, representing the largest Christian Palestinian concentration in the world apart from the Palestinian territories. The Christian Palestinians have fully integrated in Chilean society to the point that two of them have been selected in the Chilean national soccer team.

The plight of Christian Palestinians is not unique. There are several glaring examples of the “big exodus” of the Christians of the Orient from their countries. Copts have arrived in large numbers in Montreal, Canada, and in Sydney, Australia, in addition to various cities in the United States. The Maronites of Lebanon have migrated to Europe, especially France, in addition to South America, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Many Greek Orthodox Christians in Jordan and Syria have migrated to various countries in the world. Many Copts and Greek Orthodox Christians have left Sudan for Europe. Recently, Baghdad and Mosul have been emptied of over 50 percent of their Christian inhabitants. Some of them have left out of fear, others voluntarily, and the rest have been forced to leave.

What is the meaning of these indicators? There is definitely a reason for the migration of the Christians from their countries, leaving behind their properties and homes. It is obvious that the environment and climate of the Middle East no longer tolerate peaceful coexistence, especially with the Christians. Otherwise, how could this continuous and big exodus be explained?

Malicious fundamentalism and insane extremism occurring now in religious discourse and ideology stoke up hatred of the People of the Book (Christians) in a way unconnected with the teachings of the Prophet (Muhammad), prayer and peace be upon him, as if there is an attempt to invent a new interpretation of an old and noble religion. The offensive launched by some Islamic figures through the various media in the Arab world against the Western world, criticizing some unfair practices against Muslim communities in Western countries, criticism that is sometimes justified, must be accompanied by a real application of the meanings of tolerance and respect for the People of the Book, which are the basics of Muslim religion.

Emptying the Arab world of its Christians because of an extremist and convulsive interpretation of Islam by some Muslims will create a more extremist environment because the Christians of the Orient were and still are a beautiful example of the ability of divine religions for beautiful coexistence in the Orient, refuting the theories by orientalists and extremist politicians in the West. It is the responsibility of all the people of the Arab world to put an end to the bleeding resulting from the migration of the Christians of the Orient. However, the painful question remains: If the Muslims cannot coexist with each other, how can they coexist with the Christians?

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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